Tombstones at the Ewa Plantation Cemetery

This is an update on the Ewa plantation cemetery that I had written about in June (Hawaii Sugar Plantation)

Where are the graves? Only one lonely memorial.

When I first went to the plantation graveyard, grass grew so high that I could not see the tombstones. I thought they had all been removed. I could only think of all the hard work, trials and tribulations that these immigrants suffered to only end up forgotten.

Then a few months back while having breakfast at the Zippy’s restaurant across from the graveyard I got a pleasant surprise.

My friend and I were gabbing away as we walked to the car. I hadn’t even given the graveyard a second thought until we drove out of the parking lot that faced the cemetery. I was shocked. All the graveyard had been clipped and cleaned.

There are headstones as early as 1896 and the graveyard has been registered with the State Historical Society. But there has been nobody that is responsible for the care and upkeep of it. Too bad with all the money that was made  harvesting sugar, the big cats could not find it in their deep pockets to provide for a perpetual care for those people who worked themselves to the bone, ended up with permanently bent backs and suffered  abuse   and ended there days here to be lost in a blanket of weeds and just a whisper in the wind.

But someone has taken it upon his or her self to do something about the condition. And these are the results of what I saw that day.

This is the same memorial after the cemetery had been cared for. I was so surprised at all of the graves around it.

I even found signs of visitors. I was elated to see that some of these people were not forgotten

These were the graves that surrounded the one with the flowers.

Look at the dates on this marker. It speaks volumes as to what this mother must have suffered. I wonder if she was one of the many women who had to work and give birth in the field. I imagine her with a little bundle wrapped and slung over her back as she stayed hunched over working in the unbearable heat to line some fat cats pocket. She truly sacrificed. This was a beautiful tomb stone that was erected by what must have been a very loving family.

I’m not sure what was going on here but I would like to think that someone came to share a bottle and conversation with the person buried here.

This soul received a beautiful orchid lei.

And this was my favorite marker. I don’t know who it belonged to but it fits perfectly into this sad setting.

If you would like to read more about this area here is a very interesting site to go to. It is a request for money to help preserve the Plantation area. It is full of the history of those times and is very informative.

Ewa Historical Society

Walk a Mile in My Shoes Part 5 of The Waipahu Plantation Village

Somehow when I look at this photo, even though this is a re-creation of a bedroom, I feel a real emptiness. It is not because the room is sparsely furnished. I look at the Religious piece hanging on the wall over the bed, a connection to a past life in Korea.  A woman in a strange land, and more then likely no temple to worship at. What takes it’s place? Who do you listen to when you need words of encouragement, a spiritual uplifting during a very hard and difficult time? Do they confide in their neighbors or their spouses? Do they go to their rooms and try to take solace in the environment so far removed from what they knew? Did the woman after a day in the field covered with red dirt, a back that ached with pain from not being able to stand or stretch without fear of verbal of  physical abuse from the luna as he rode his horse back and forth, take comfort in her meager treasures? The “Man’ getting ten dollars worth of work out of someone who is paid pennies for his or her back breaking labor did not think of the immigrants as people but only a number.

Late in the evening did she sit on her bed and stare at the beautiful dress that symbolized who she once was when she lived in Korea did she look at her hands and feet stained with dirt and weep at the site of her cracked nails? Did she count her blisters?
Or maybe she was one of the women who took the initiative to make or do something that could be supplied to other plantation workers.
 In the above photo you can see the crocks that were used to make Kim Chee. Some type of radish or cabbage grows in the back ground. Making this particular food might have provided her with an extra income if she was able to sell it to the other immigrants not of her nationality.  Maybe if there were bachelors living around her they would have bought some too.
This vegetable dish is eaten with all types of foods much like a relish or chile might be eaten. Here in Hawaii locals have adopted  it as their own. They love to eat it with stew, chile beans, breakfast, lunch and what ever your taste buds will tolerate. A variety of vegetables are used some of which are radishes, bok choy, and other leafy greens. If you are daring here are some recipes you might want to try.
Not being Korean I did not take too quickly to Kim Chee and it does leave your mouth smelling like a dragons breath. But once you’ve acquired a taste for it, it becomes part of your everyday table condiments. Set the stew and rice on the table. Hey, where’s the kim Chee?

Rice Bag Curtains

If she was able to acquire a rice bag when buying rice the bag would have been made into curtains, shorts or shirts or made into anything that cloth could be sewn into. For awhile back in the 1960’s and 1970’s it was a fad to wear shorts made from rice bags as rice was still being sold in their cloth sacks. Now that’s a thing of the past and the bags have become collectors items. Here is a site that sells them with manufactured prints.
Inside The Korean Kitchen
Do you cook ethnic food? Have you ever been to an area where they just don’t carry the right ingredient you need to make a favorite family dish? What did this woman do after a day in the field and coming home to cook? When the immigrants first arrived how did they cook foods from their homelands?

Items that could be found in a Korean Household

Shoes that would have been worn but not out to the field. Maybe the straw shoes were made in the camp to be worn around the house. I did not get information on those things.
We can read history to find out what people experienced, we can look at pictures  and try to put ourselves in their place, but we will never actually know what it was like until we have walked a mile in those shoes.

Hawaii Sugar Plantation Ewa Cemetary

Plantation life in Hawaii or Let’s Take a Reality Check

(I’m taking a break here from my series to add a thought here)

Life was hard for those who came to Hawaii with hopes of making enough money to go back home and help the family. Sugar cane drew many to the islands.

You started for work at 5 AM and back at 4PM. You owed more money to the company store at times then you made. For many there was no medical help and bosses that could beat, kick and prevent you from even standing  up to get the pain out of your back.
If  you were a woman you might also work. That meant you probably rose around 3 am to make breakfast and your lunch to take to the fields for both you and your husband.
Often the women worked the fields with their child tied to their back. Then you would return home after being bent over all day and get the dinner started, do the laundry and any chores that needed to be done before the luna came around and called to all the workers that their lights had to be out. This was around 8PM.
You worked, you slaved, you might have even been hated by your husband who had been disappointed by what you looked like when he finely met you in person after he had applied for you as a picture bride. Mental and physical abuse would be added to your burden.
These people brought their hopes and dreams with them. Many had left behind family but they still honored their ancestor who had passed on and hoped too that they would be remembered when their turn came.
As I passed this field I said to my friend, where is the cemetery where they buried, the old workers who died on the plantation?
“Your looking at it!”
Ewa Sugar Plantation Cemetery
I was incredulous. It couldn’t be true. No markers, no flowers, nobody to mourn. They were gone, the graves covered over with grass, an empty lot. Only one memorial marker stood out. And so I took this photo with a deep sadness.
You would think that with this history we would remember. We would not make this mistake again. We would be indignant if it happened in our life time.
Then I read in the Star Advertiser, the local paper, “Six Isle Farms Sued for Labor Practices! Mistreatment of farm laborers, held captive, handing over their passports so they are unable to leave. And the list goes on. When will we learn? Pay attention. History can and does repeat itself.
If you would like to read about the labor problems going on here in the islands here is the site you can go to (Isles Farms Sued)


Waipahu Sugar Plantation Village

 This particular series is from another blog I have and thought that those of you who have not seen it would enjoy reading about the Plantation Village

Part 1 of The Waipahu Plantation Village

The clock says 10 AM. I’ve got till 1:30 before picking up my grandson at school. Last minute I decide to tour the Plantation Village fifteen minutes from my house. My car winds down the short curvy road and descends into the parking lot. I head for the office to pay for the tour.

As she hands me my ticket, the woman at the desk takes me to a small curtained area and turns on a TV and puts in a video that’s she suggest I watch before I take my tour.

The clock is ticking and I’m getting cold sitting in the air-conditioned area. Since I am familiar with what the tape is talking about I decide to take a look around the museum before the tour guide takes us out to the houses.

As I leave the video area the guide approaches me and we join the other tourist waiting to take the tour. I’m happy as he enters the museum as I was afraid I would not have time to see it after we finished our tour.

But as it turned out we were given a lecture on the order in which the immigrants came to Hawaii. Now I have nothing against that, it was just that the clock was ticking and I was not sure we would make it to the village itself before I had to leave as we stayed in the museum for half an hour.

I snapped these photos of the clothing that the sugar workers wore into the fields as the lecture went on

Perhaps these are a container for water and a lunch pail. The guide didn’t know as he started to lead us out of the museum and I didn’t have time to read any signs

I had to make the choice take photos or listen as we were moving out of the museum. I snapped photos as we quickly exited out.

The fabrics for these gowns worn in the 1920’s were quite beautiful. I thought that the immigrants that worked in the fields had no money because it all went to the company store. So I’m not sure if these were actually worn by the immigrant brides. I didn’t have time to look at the information on the gowns.

Detail on one of the gowns

Chinese immigrants who would soon be working in the sugar cane fields

A Chinese Immigrant family

Then there were the Hawaiians who were taken from their lands only to become laborers for the sugarcane growers who managed to take over.

The Hawaiians were once superb agriculturist. Captain Cook was impressed with how large and healthy their plants grew. When the plantations sprang up they told the Hawaiians that they needed to learn the American farmers way of growing food as they thought the Hawaiians were ignorant barbarians. Aside from being fabulous farmers, Hawaiians had the highest literacy rate in the world during the 1800’s. Far from being barbarians.

So after almost an hour we finely leave the museum and head out to the village. I’m finely going to see the insides of the houses.

To be continued. We head out into the light.

If you would like to get information on the Village here is the site address