10 Questions With John Urauchi

By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter 

Photo courtesy of Marge Bento.

Question: How long have you lived on Molokai? 

John Urauchi (JU): All my life. 91 years going on 92 in two months. 

Q: Where did you grow up on Molokai? 

JU: I was born in Kamalo, where we didn’t have any electricity or running water. It was a really a rough beginning. We had no running water, so no flush toilet. All the water came from the well outside the house. Our toilet was a puka toilet down below.

Q: What was it like growing up then? 

JU: In those days the fishing and crabbing was excellent. The crabs used to come up the shore. I never saw it, but my older brother told me that…I come from a family of seven. I’m the second oldest. Only two of us are surviving, and both of us live on Molokai. That tells you something about living on Molokai.

Q: What’s changed on Molokai?

JU: Everything closed down.” 

Q: What’s stayed the same on Molokai?

JU: Everybody wants to help each other. If you see someone on the road with problems, almost always someone will stop to help. Everybody helps each other. 

Q: Who were your role models on Molokai?

JU: Mr. Inaba our principal [at MHS] way back was a role model. Another person I looked up to was Mitsuo Watanabe. He passed away. I used to work for Del Monte, and when Del Monte closed down, he hired me at Molokai Electric so I didn’t need to leave the island. The other guy I looked up to was Henry Yamashita who was president of Molokai Electric. 

Q: What does Molokai need more of? 

JU: We okay as is, but we need more jobs that’s for sure. The plantations used to hire people. One thing we need is more local transportation to Oahu to see medical doctors. We don’t have enough doctors on Molokai so we have to fly to Honolulu to see specialists…That’s one of the things we need is more local travel. 

Q: What does Molokai needs less of?

JU: I can’t think of anything we need to get rid of, but when I pass through town, I see a sign that says “No Visitors” or something like that. I think that’s very abrasive. But the sign at the airport says “Welcome, You’re on the Friendly Isle” I like that.

Q: What excites you still about living on Molokai?

JU: The thing I like most about Molokai is the friendliness and helpfulness of the people. 

Q: What are important Molokai traditions to you? 

JU: We need to keep up traditions like Bon dance and stuff like that…We [have] a program at the old Pau Hana Inn, you make little sailboats with people’s names on it that passed away. The Japanese church and the families of the [Aloha Island Air flight 1712] crash worked together, and they make little sailboats with people’s names on them that have passed away. That’s a good project…that’s a good thing. 

“10 Questions with” is a way for Molokai residents to hear from their fellow community members in a snapshot, talk-story session. Interested in participating? Email editor@themolokaidispatch.com


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