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Dedicated to The Rowe and Hale Ohanas
Submitted by Colleen
I am an Irish American New Yorker; born and bred in Ozone Park, Queens, a place made famous by mob boss John Gotti. For most of my life, my entire universe was Gold Road, a busy one-way street. My dad called it, "Gold Road, where the streets are paved with Silver!" In my memory, neighbors still talk for long hours on front concrete stoops, Freezer Fresh Ice cream bells ring out, kids play incessant games of sponge ball, whiffle ball, and running bases. My dreams make Gold Road live on but no other place had ever given me that sense of home and belonging we all long for. That all changed in 1989 when I became part of the Hawaiian Ohana (Family).
In 1989 I married Bob and became connected to the Aloha Spirit, a powerful living force that explodes from the people of Hawaii like lava from their volcanoes. This spirit touched a part of my heart that safeguarded my Gold Road memories and brought me home again.
Bob was a man born to a Hawaiian father and Swedish mother. Bob's father Tommy came to New York in true Treasure Island fashion. He dove into Honolulu harbor one day and jumped aboard a merchant marine ship and became a sailor. His travels brought him to Bay Ridge Brooklyn to a boarding house where he met Bob's mother, Millie and fell in love.
Although Tommy left the Hawaiian Islands, the Aloha Spirit never left him. He and the 12 other Hawaiians who lived in New York brought their ukuleles and guitars together in Tommy's house. Neighbors gathered around the window to hear the unique sounds of Hawaii. Tommy raised Bob with the stories of his island childhood. Diving for pearls, talking story (chatting) at luaus with a huge ukulele playing Ohana, children swimming in hot water springs near the ocean. Bob absorbed all this and dreamed of the day when he would see the land of his father's boyhood.
I was privileged to share that day with Bob and our daughter, Colleen Hale Wainuinui (House of the Rainbow). In 1995, we flew over the vast American mainland and found the Hawaiian Islands nestled in the Pacific Ocean. When we stepped off the plane, the breezes of Hawaii embraced us with gentle flows and sweet odors of tropical flora. There to greet us were beautiful Auntie Girlie and cousin Scott who adorned us with flower leis.
Later that day we were brought into the bosom of the family at Uncle Hale's small cabin on the beach of Pohiki. A pig was roasted in an imu (below the ground), taro root was peeled and pounded into poi, kids played in the hot springs beside the sea, the family sat for long hours "talking story" and compared my Irish faced daughter to her Polynesian cousins. The ukuleles played, many Hawaiians sung the sounds of Bob's childhood, and Bob smiled. In that moment, Gold Road was alive for me again. Hawaii has now become a living Gold Road for all of us.