Talk story from
Camp 4 Kauai, Hawaii
sugarcanetrain. camp4football. mangotrees. kauaifishing
Camp 4 was a sugar plantation village for
the workers of the Olokele Sugar Plantation on the island of Kauai,
Hawaii.The camp no longer exists having been converted to sugar cane
fields in the late 1940's. Camp 4 was populated by Japanese, and
Filipino families, and some single Chinese men who lived in communal
houses at several locations in the camp.
.There were 7 camps in all. Camps 1, and 4 were off the main highway,
while the others were located within the cane fields far away from the
main highway. The sugar mill was located at the end of a road that came
off the main highway. Opposite this road was another that led to the
Plantation manager's houses set among sprawling grounds. All the camps
were converted to sugar cane fields at the same time as Camp 4.
A boundary road defined the size of camp 4, with several roads within
the camp that separated the upper and lower camp.The roads were all
dirt roads, and when it rained the water turned red from the "Olokele
red dirt". The color of the dirt was so concentrated that when we went
to other parts of Kauai, the other islanders would know that we came
from Olokele just by looking at our feet. Even our clothes, if we
played or worked in the dirt, would leave traces of the red color even
after several washings.
After all those years of washing the red
dirt off our feet, and clothes, some clever entrepreneurs cashed in by
staining the dirt on Tee shirts, and selling them as "KAUAI RED DIRT"
shirts. If only we were that smart!!
Our house was a typical plantation house with a wood frame, and siding,
and a corrugated metal roof. All the houses were built off the ground
so there was a crawl space, some high enough that we could play under
the house, or use it as storage space.
Every house had an outhouse in
the backyard, and at night the sound of the seat being slammed against
the opening could be heard as one tried to shoo the cockroaches from
tickling your behind. Also, a small concrete lined ditch ran along the
of the house with water constantly running through it so you could take
a pee without going to the outhouse.
There was also a wooden framed bath house with a corrugated metal
roof in the back. Inside, there was about a four feet square
wooden tub lined inside with metal to store bath water. Outside, and
underneath this tub was an opening where a fire could be built to heat
the bath water. Baggasse, the after product from grinding the sugar
cane was burned in this opening. The baggasse came in hay- like
and were delivered by the Plantation trucks to each household every
In the bath house, we would sit on wooden stools and wash
ourselves outside the tub and then get hot water from the tub for
rinsing. Sometimes, after everyone had finished taking a bath, my
brothers and I would go in the tub for a soak.The problem with this was
that soaking , and playing in the tub created leaks in the metal
lining and it took some time for repairs to be made.
After the camps were converted to
sugar cane fields, most of the displaced families relocated to the new
houses built in Kaumakani. The houses were basically all the same,
wooden framed, with a corrugated metal roof on a concrete slab
foundation. The biggest difference was indoor bathrooms. No outhouses,
and no burning burning of baggasse to heat the bath water. All the
houses had a yard, but they were built so close together that the
running joke was the next door house's cooking smelled so good that you
would want to eat there.
After all these years, Kaumakani now is far removed from what it was.
The houses all show their age, from the sun bleached paint on the
outside, to the many cars, running, or otherwise, on the pothole filled
roads. The supermarket, and the popular bakery store in it, and the
post office are still there, but long gone
is the movie theater that drew crowds from the west side of Kauai.