Hawaii ’68: Part 2

As I sit here, shivering, in my garage “office” (which is the only room in the house where I can still smoke) on this cold December morning, my mind wonders back to fond, warm memories of my days in Hawaii. While mentally going over the list of “extraordinary events” from that crazy period in my life, I’m amazed at how much happened to me in such a short time span… I mean, I was only there for 4 months! Anyhow, let’s get started:

The Cock Fight

I mentioned earlier in Part 1 that Quintin, one of  the boarders who shared our “home”, raised fighting roosters.  Cock fighting is very popular in many cultures (although hardly heard of on the mainland) and, unlike the “friendly” battles you may have seen in the media, the “real” fights involve affixing a razor-sharp blade to a spur on the rear of the roosters leg. In “natural” fights, a rooster will try to jab his opponent with the back of his leg, where there is spur that sticks out. This causes pain to the opponent and eventually, one of the roosters will surrender and just run away. This is usually a non-fatal confrontation and is, therefor, not very exciting in some people’s views. Hence the implementation of the “knife”: instead of just causing some pain, the stabbing motion now inflicts a very traumatic wound. The result is usually fatal (for one of the two opponents) and makes for a fast and furious bout, often lasting only 15-2o seconds.

Now that I’ve set the groundwork, I’ll continue with this tale. Since I had a car, Quintin asked if we wanted to take him to the regular Sunday cock fight “event”, for a day of fun and games. Of course, we quickly agreed and we were off for a new adventure. Once we arrived at the “game site”, we noticed a few disturbing things: there we a lot of dead, bloody  roosters in piles under the trees and we were the only “haoles” (whites) in the whole place! This was a rough bunch and we stood out like, well, a snowball in a rock pile. We did the best we could to blend in as we stood around the outside of the ring and watched in mixed amazement as the tournament proceeded. A little info about how this works: the opponents are announced, the owners enter the ring with their razor-equipped roosters and hold the birds so they can peck at each others necks (to get them “excited”) and then everyone starts furiously betting, usually based on the track record of the owner and fierceness of the birds. Quintin was one of the most popular owners and the betting was usually on his side which made for poor odds for his fights. So, he asks me to hold the bird in the ring so he could make a more profitable bet. I was a little apprehensive about this maneuver,  but I consented and stepped into the ring. The results were immediate and undeniable… there was a roar of laughter and a flurry of high-stakes betting. When the betting was done, Quintin jumped into the arena and takes his bird from me which resulted in a ripple of loud mutterings and evil looks from the crowd. I went back to stand in the “white zone” with Frank and Joe, hoping to live long enough to see the end of the match. We were shitting our pants!

Just as they were about to release the cocks, there was a great commotion behind us and everyone started running into the surrounding jungle. A convoy of white vans and police cruisers stormed into the parking area and an army of police officers poured out and started grabbing anyone they could catch. We just froze as they rushed towards us and then stood in relieved shock as they ran past us in pursuit of those who had tried to escape into the jungle. I guess they felt we were not any of the “big fish” they wanted and we were able to leave.

Later that evening, Quintin somehow got back to the “home’ and was in a sour mood: he had been drinking all day and had somehow become convinced that we stole $500 from him! He started screaming angrily (in broken English) at us, accusing us of taking his money and demanding that we return it! That escalated into threatening us with a very long switchblade, at which point we barricaded ourselves into our bedroom, and promptly called our landlady. A little about her: she was huge, a mix of Chinese and Hawaiian, and  she was not known for her loving disposition. Meanwhile, Quintin was busy hacking at our door and cursing us in many different languages. Before long, the pounding stopped and was replaced with a lot of screaming and the crashing sounds of furniture and bodies colliding in some sort of “heated negotiation”. Soon, the landlady (whose name escapes me right now) called to us and said it was OK to come out. When we opened the door and came into a now-wrecked living room, we found another unbelievable sight: Quintin laying on the floor, face down, with a guy sitting on him, holding a gun to his head! The landlady assured us that Quintin would not bother us again, and, well, he didn’t… in fact, he moved out the next day.

In his haste to leave, Quintin had left some his roosters. When it became apparent that he wasn’t coming back for them, we decided they would make a cheap, and hopefully, tasty meal. We tried to catch one but were unsuccessful. That’s when Joe decided to use his spear gun… we thought that would be much fun and very effective. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but it did have the expected results: one dead rooster. Somehow, it got cleaned and cooked, but, man, that was the toughest meat Ive ever eaten… it was like chewing on shoe leather!!

I was hoping this was going to be just part of group of shorter stories in this section, but it turned out to be longer than expected. So, I’ll end it here and continue with the rest in the next “chapter”.

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One thought on “Hawaii ’68: Part 2

  1. Quite a story Frank. I learned about the degree of racial separation in Hawaii back when I was in the Army. My best friend when I was in Augsburg, Germany was one Dennis Sugamoto (Sugi), from Hawaii. We were practically inseparable, including traveling all over Europe together and smoking mountains of hash along the way. He finished his time in the Army about four months before me and on the day of his departure, we were saying our goodbyes and I said:
    “Well Sugi, I will be getting out of this dump in four months and when I get back to states, what about me coming to visit you? I have always wanted to go to Hawaii.”
    Suddenly he became silent, a frown appeared on his almost always smiling face and after a short silence he said:
    ” Sorry man, but you can’t come. I would get killed literally, if I invited a Haole come to my neighborhood.”
    He went on to explain how separated various groups were on the islands. An entirely different world. Kind of like Auburn when we were kids.
    Ross

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