Message from Jaime (2014)


From Jaime Picoc in 2014:

Six Decades, that is what I am told, (by “kids”) I am in years. Yeah, my legs and my “okole” also remind me now and again. But in dog years that only about 9 something. There are days when it doesn’t seem so. When I feel as though I am just as young as I was way “back in the day.” Then those ideas are crushed, as I have to get up in the morning and go about the reality of “today.” But my spirit remains unfazed and as bright as it was sitting on the grass in the old “Termite Castle.”

Seems that we all have made this journey through time and remain. Remnants of days when our world was so “innocent.” When we could just turn our heads and see the children we once were. When we we unsure of how to be “teens” and confronted with so many emotions clouded by “puberty.” One minute being “just kids” the next trying so hard to prove ourselves, “adults.” Some might wish to go back to those times, me I am not too sure. For I had made it tough for myself, but the lessons learned have stood the test of time for me.

I was gone, for that period, that era of yours. but you folks were never forgotten. From my days growing up in the camps, through the years of school and a few beyond, if you had passed through my life, you were remembered. Not that I have so vast a storehouse of memories. Only that bits and pieces, of things said, of what I observed, of what I felt and thought of. If it lasted long enough in my thinking, then my life, my outlook was changed. Well in the least modified.

Yet there are things I missed out on. Places and moments that might have changed me in other ways. That “path not taken” that corner not turned, that choice made differently. It is that that I wonder about. things that happened outside my ken, out side my sphere. What did I miss out on? What did I forget, what didn’t I know about. I wonder these days about such things.. Yet, in the typical fashion of the era in which I grew up, I don’t let it worry me, for changing such things are way beyond our abilities to accomplish. So shrug the shoulders, tilt the head to one side and move on. It is all we can do now.

So after six decades, friends, dear classmates …. of what did we miss ? Of what memories still shine brightly within you ? What secrets, large and small might you now share with us, when it is too far gone to even worry about consequence ? Many of us shared moments growing up. Memories warm and dear. Others only of sheer excitement and even idiocy we survived.

I would ask after all these years, to tell us. To make known of where and when. Names are not important. What sticks in you mind that we to might remember. As I tell people, ” … a thought left unsaid, is lost forever.” Let us try to share a bit of those days, before they are forgotten, before we too move on.

I will start with this thought;

I grew up on the very corner of “japanese camp” up by the sugar mill. At the corner of Kaiki St. and the “Haul Cane Road.” (It is said that “sh-t” rolls down hill, but then I lived on the bottom or ?) Never a problem with me, (‘cept that Lloyd had a crush on my neighbor?) for then we never understood anything about race or color. The Iha’s, & Tokujo’s, lived just aways off and up hill from me were Takahashi’s, Sasaki’s, Fujimoto’s, Nakagawa’s and more. Like I said, never mattered to me at all ! Then one day in my 20’s, speaking about where I was from, out at sea, while in the Navy, it dawned on me ! Wow, “we (filipinos) were as good as “okinawans!” ‘Cause we lived on that side of the camp ! Sadly one had to be there and then to understand ! But in that time and place, the “melting pot” had only started to heat up and it would be awhile before the melting actually started. At the time, however, such things bias & prejudice for most of us existed only in the way you behaved, or perhaps how one smelled (!) otherwise we were all just kids playing. The up side to it all is that we carried such thinking into our teen years and for some, beyond even that.

There was something my Mom told me about the separation in the camps. It goes back to the early war years and the outlying camps in the fields. Seems after the bombing there was an attempt to gather all the “japanese” in one group, if by the military or Sugar company or a combination of both, she doesn’t know. But when the word got out, the Okinawans stood up and basically said, “we are not Japanese, we are Okinawans!” And with that the camps were then, post war set up in that fashion. I would assume that pride and a bit of remembering also helped it a bit. My families place? As I understood it, my uncle had the choice in the matter and decided it was closer to the stores on Waipahu St. and the where the trucks would gather to pick up workers going into the fields.

Social status ? You know, it is pretty hard to make a call on that. Not now of course, for we were 2nd or 3rd generations of immigrants parents. That and we were still a part of that Oahu Sugar Company kind of thinking. But when everyone is in the same “canoe” and paddling in the same direction, social status means very little, if anything at all. “We” the following generations all had the same dreams, pretty much, mostly that we might/would work for the sugar company when we got older. Or if our parents pushed us, and many did, not to work for “Uncle Sugar” at all. Keep in mind now, when I was very young, there still were a few outlying small camps of workers. Out in the middle of the sugar fields, and around some of the cross roads out in the middle of nowhere. Those were there in order to be closer to the fields they worked, as in the old days there were no trucks, only a few trains and mules to haul the cut cane close to the rails. Also there were miles of cane fields all about the island of Oahu. Sugar then was still KING.

“Play” was always a serious thing for us kids growing up. Serious in that there was always a time of the day when we worked what chores and duties we had at home in order to be able to go out. Odd thing, for back then we would rather be outside a lot more than being in anytime. Yes it does seem like this new generation wants to stay in more than go out, with PCs, Wii, and various video games, but I am pretty sure that there is still that majority or large percentage, that would rather be out and about. What I am not to sure of is how many parents might not want their kids to be outside, worried about one thing or another, and most likely who themselves were not allowed out. But when we were, when chores were done and the tasks for the week accomplished, then we would have the whole day to ourselves. “Course” it was a thing of synchronizing exactly when all our playmates could go play at the same time, otherwise it was going up and down the neighborhood seeing just who was available and willing to go and goof off with. Not always possible to get “all the guys” together at once but now and again we could, normally on Saturdays. Otherwise it was maybe two or three of us seeking something to get into.

I think most of our play was driven by what movies or tv programs (3 channels) were popular at the moment. Westerns, army movies, horror films, or even now and again, caveman movies ! Accouterments varied, but the common items were long sticks, string, bands of rubber cut from car or bicycle inner tubes, wheels and axles from things like skates, old wagons, or anything else that rolled. Other raw materials were things from around the house, nail’s, nuts & bolts, or anything a kids imagination saw potential in. “Recycle” was not a new concept to us, for many toys no longer used were taken apart and used for something else. One was only limited by imagination and ideas. Did they all work ? No, but that was never the point, one kept trying until one was satisfied with the end result !

And now it is 2014 ? I never expected to make it past 2000, and yet I am here ! I was once told by a very dear friend, that we are all here to accomplish something? Exactly what, to whom or when, we are not privy to. A destiny, if you will, some small act. To save a life, to create a life, to end one? To give for an idea, or just move a stone from here to there. Something that will have ramifications in the time yet to come. I have no idea if I have already done so, and I so am ready to believe that for I am all out of ideas as to what? I like to think that I am still around as a sort of reward for completing my assignment, or at least been forgotten for now. Sure I had many of my own questions answered, yet each day I come up with one or two more. I have learn of friendship, hate, of truly loving someone and having my own heart broken. I have been close to death, and helped a loved one depart. Sorrow and misery, sure that too. Joy and happiness, oh yeah. And I have become a friend to myself. Learned to forgive and understand the “ME” I have become. And tomorrow when the sun rises again, I shall relish the day it brings. For today I have been given again the gift of life!  So let us meet again this year, to remember people and times past for we still can !