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ISLAND HISTORY: Theresa Gouveia Cabral’s recollections of bygone days on Kaua‘i

Theresa Gouveia Cabral (1908-2011) was 91 years old and a resident of Kaimuki, O‘ahu in 1999, when she wrote her reminiscences of Kaua‘i.

She was born in Honolulu, the daughter of Anna and Francisco Gouveia, who’d immigrated to Hawai‘i from Madeira, Portugal in 1907 with their children Manuel, Mary and Caroline.

When she was still a little girl, the Gouveias moved to Kaua‘i, where her father found work at Lihu‘e Plantation as an ox-driver.

“One day, Dad almost got crushed with the oxen. He was in the middle and the oxen were tightening in a circle and there was no way out. So, he played dead. That was how he was saved.

“We had a few milking cows. Dad, Manuel, Mary and Caroline had to milk the cows at 3 a.m. and after school. Each one of us would fill our bags with milk bottles and deliver them to the plantation camps. I can still remember, as we came to the camps, the children would call to their mothers, ‘Here comes the milk maidens,’ in their own language, ‘Aqui via a mussa do late.’

“After a hard day’s work, Dad would work in his large garden. We had all kinds of vegetables. The neighbors would come by to buy some for just a few pennies. A Chinese man would also come by to buy chickens, eggs and avocados.

“Ma used to make guava jam in a 5-gallon square can in the yard. Instead of coal, we used logs. She would dump guava, seeds and all, and a 10-pound bag of sugar — no measuring.

“Mom also helped bring in extra money by sewing and embroidering for the plantation managers and schoolteachers.

“And, she would bake bread in an outdoor oven, which everyone in the camp had to share.

“We used to follow the train tracks and pick up cane that fell off the cars and peel them with our teeth and chew on them. It’s a wonder we still had teeth.”


To be continued in Part 2.
Source: The Garden Island

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