10 Amazing Island Stories
Next time you’re out in public, take a look around. The person next to you may have saved a life. Or won a million dollars. You wouldn’t know just by looking at them, you’d have to ask. So we did. Here are some Islanders who have experienced the unusual, done the extraordinary, from the sublime achievement of reclaiming a once nearly extinct language to the wacky experience of winning a musubi eating contest.
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has been there and done that.
This 102-year-old Lihue resident was named a “Living Treasure” by Kauai Museum and shows no signs of slowing down.
I swim laps every day at 4 p.m. in my swimming pool. I walk all around, all the time. I’m golfing in a charity tournament this month. I don’t know what my best score is. I don’t want to know. I don’t play that kind of game anymore. A group of us play mahjong and bridge every Tuesday and Wednesday at my house.
I just got my driver’s license renewed for two more years. I learned to drive in a Model T Ford in 1922. I was given my license by my uncle, who was the sheriff on Kauai, on my birthday. I don’t wear glasses when I drive, only when I read. My ophthalmologist has a poster of me in his office.
I wear a hearing aid. I rarely use a cane. I eat everything. I’m not particular about food or that sort of thing.
I graduated from Kauai High School in 1924 and then I went to college in California. I took a university course where we went to all of the countries in Europe. I got five credits for it.
I was a teacher for more than 30 years. I taught on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. I taught third grade mostly, but also taught sixth grade.
I had a big party for my 100th birthday; 500 people attended. I’ll have one when I’m 105, if God lets me live that long. You never know.
I have a canary named Elvis. I don’t have any grandchildren, but I have seven step-grandchildren. I’ve been married three times. I enjoy life, my family and my friends in particular.
In the old days, Kauai wasn’t as crowded as it is now. We rode horseback and did a lot of things that kids don’t do today. I think when I was a little girl we were lucky because we made our own fun. Maybe we didn’t have the advantages of today, but really, we had more advantages because we could enjoy natural things like picnics and the sort of thing that people don’t do much anymore.
The best moments of my life were having my babies. My girl is going to be 80 pretty soon, and my son is in his 70s. My son lives next door to me and I see him every day. My daughter lives on Hawaii.
Do I have any regrets? A few. but I won’t tell you what they are. Some things you have to keep to yourself, you know.
I think it’s important to keep busy. Don’t just sit around; be interested in the life around you. Wake up in the morning and look forward to each day. Have a sense of humor and enjoy your friends. Be kind to people and be interested in them. I try not to be critical of others, because we are all human.
—As told to sheila sarhangi
risked his life to save another.
In January, the off-duty Makaha lifeguard jumped into a dark cave and saved a 26-year-old man from drowning. He was given the Red Cross “In the Line of Duty Hero” award.
I was at Yokohama Bay after work, watching the sunset. It was getting dark and somebody called, “Help! Help!” This military guy was freaking out, yelling, “My buddy is in the water!” He didn’t know that I was an off-duty lifeguard. I told him, “Where is he?” He said, “He’s out there on the rocks with a flashlight!” I looked toward the area and I knew it was the Moi Hole. It’s a fishing spot; it’s a pretty big cave. The waves were pumping; they were like six feet. When they go into the cave, all the air gets pushed out like spit. I went over and saw the flashlight bobbing in the water. I ran to my car and got my fins and tube and called 9-1-1. Then I said a little prayer.
It was dark so I couldn’t see, but I jumped in. I swam into the cave with all this spray around me, yelling, “Hey! Hey!” at the top of my lungs. Then I heard a yell back. I got chicken skin and thought, “He’s alive!” I swam a little deeper and he popped up. He looked like a ghost; his eyeballs were huge. He was overwhelmed; he was all busted up. I strapped him to the tube so he could float. I dodged a couple of waves with him and just kicked like crazy. We swam out to sea about 20 to 50 yards. I was trying to calm him down.
I dragged him down the coast a couple of hundred yards to this cove. It was either we go in there or swim another 500 yards to the sand, which I didn’t want to do, because I fish in this area and I know it’s sharky and this guy’s bleeding and it’s dark.
I saw a wave come and wash right through the cove. I know the rocks over there. On the path to go in and out, you have to zigzag your way through. I told him, “Just for this next couple minutes you got to help me kick!” We charged it and thank God no sets came. We didn’t hit one rock and made it in. By that time, the helicopter had a spotlight on us. We went up to the beach and he stood up and walked out of there.
—As told to sheila sarhangi