Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mundane Scenes of Youth

Aloha & Welcome to Waikiki!
Click on photos to enlarge "Genius is easier to take from three rows back."
Mrs. Al Jolson

Nice folks enjoying the Waikiki air.

"Any idiot can face a crisis;

it is this day-to-day living that wears you out." Chekhov

Catch of the day, Water toys!
"Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future."
Ayn Rand (!)

Growing up in my little town outside of Philadelphia, the township building/library was a dusty, great Victorian wedding cake of a building. I still remember the smell of hundred year old wood, and of books - lots of fascinating books. It was exciting to be rooted in local history - I could almost smell old rural times too. The road that George Washington traveled between Philadelphia and New York was the one that passed before my library.

Behind the township building was a big yellow field on which a working farmer had a barn, a house, and a life. His family had probably worked it for some time. Beyond that farm and some "wild fields" of tall grass was my elementary school. It was built six years after my birth and, come to think of it, I must have been one of the first kids to live the suburban dream in that school named for a local "Indian" tribe. There were no Native Americans back then; at least not in Pennsylvania. They were distant enough to be romantic, and to put their names harmlessly on a school. More history.

Eventually the farm became a shopping center.
Next the "wild field" of tall grasses sprouted apartments. That new shopping center featured prominently in the dramas of my childhood. It had a Food Fair super market, and a five & ten cent store. I don't remember much more except for the toys and pets and doo-dads that I bought at Woolworth's, and the taste of thin, greasy hamburgers & coca cola served at their lunch counter....

Recently I realized that I live near my childhood shopping center's "double," Market City Shopping Center here in Honolulu. It too is rooted in local history and hearkens back to days of boundless optimism and development. To quote from their website:

"Market City, Limited, was founded in 1946. The 3.5 acre site at the corner of Kapiolani Blvd. and Kaimuki Ave. was originally a vegetable/koa patch with a beautiful monkey pod tree. "

The center opened, boasting Hawaii's first supermarket, Food Land, in 1948. Little shops were dissapearing everywhere: Kosher butchers in Philadelphia, and Japanese Produce markets in Kaimuki; all closing as the "second generation," mostly WWII veterans, set their GI Bill-fueled sights higher.

Eventually the up and coming neighborhoods of Kaimuki, Kapahulu, and Kapiolani/Date (which all converge here) as well as nearby Manoa, Saint Louis, Palolo, and Waikiki made Market City a hub of activity. It is one of the local scenes in my Hawaii taxi cab novel: "Aloha Where You Like Go?" After all, many of my fares were going to or from the center. It's a big part of this area.

The calender year opens at Market City with a traditional Chinese New Year lion dance blessing, and ends up with a 4o foot Santa perched over FoodLand. Not to mention the scholarships awarded to local high school students.

Kaimuki High School is across the street from Market City. Those kids are doing like I used to do: hanging after school by the shops - hoping not to run into mother while observed by peers. Some verities are eternal, after all.

Today the great monkey pod tree remains, as does an up-dated FoodLand. When I decided to stop by for a quick lunch last week (it's right on the way) it was a very safe choice. Or rather a winnowing down of choices. Old standbys, including: Gina's Korean BarBQ, and Torito's Mexican, as well as a plate-lunch place, and a couple of little cafe`s all vie there for one's appetite. But I'd never noticed Cafe Kaila before.

Welcome to the dream project of former elementary school teacher, Chrissie Castillo. Kaila, her middle name, loves food, cooking and people. That must be what I felt walking past. It struck me through the window, as a cafe, NOT the branch of some corporation. Inside I found fresh, home- made food that was special, tasty and healthy all at the same time. The genuinely friendly servers told me they "do" Breakfast all day! Yup, waffles, hotcakes, and omelets liberated from the clock. Me like!

In the afterglow of a pleasant lunch I reflected on the pie I used to eat at my childhood Woolworth's. Then I thought about the generations of Honolulu kids who've bought "crack seed" penny candy at Market City, and realized: "There's a post here somehwere."

As You can see, I'm still looking for it.

But thanks for sharing a few moments of your day while we search for the "aha" together. Your visits & comments are like gifts left me by the Blog Fairy.

Remember I serve aloha all day here. So y'all come back now.
Aloha! Cloudia