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A Day To Remember

Community Contributed 

A Day to Remember

By Father Pat Killilia, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa

Sept. 11 dawned bright and breezy. At 7 a.m. there was no sign of the “expected coming” except for the tug boat moored in anticipation in the inner harbor. By 8 a.m., there was still no sight on the water of the long awaited one. I thought to myself, what if it has been hijacked and we have another remake of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Finally, at about 9 a.m., Glauco, the Aquaman, motioned to the horizon, far to the right. There it sat like a huge snail on the ocean surface. By 10 a.m., it had arrived in the outer harbor, by 11 a.m. it had crept into the inner harbor, by 11:30 it had approached the pier and by noon time it had safely docked at the landing. It was Barge Day in Kalaupapa and the action was about to get under way. It would be a day to remember.

The original plan had been to have the barge arrive on Aug. 21. It was then postponed until Aug. 28, then Sept. 4, and finally Sept. 11. As the “busy bees” — State and Park workers and barge crew — unloaded vehicles, gasoline tankers, household items and other needed items, shaved ice was provided to cool parched lips and tongues. I myself enjoyed a strawberry flavored delight… for the very first time, believe it or not. Meantime, a food booth was set up to provide chow for the many hungry mouths. Amongst the many vehicles unloaded was a lovely small black auto for Meli and a handsome pickup truck for John Arruda. At age 97, John still dazzles the ladies and takes them on tours around the peninsula. Long live Johnny!

By 3 p.m., the barge had been divested of its valuables and the process of reloading with junked vehicles and recyclables was underway. Then there followed a procession of empty tankers which had delivered our annual supply of gasoline. To coin a phrase, we are now “well oiled.” There was a time when many residents would gather in the vicinity of the pier to watch the “busy bees” unload the many anticipated items. Indeed, it has been written that it had seemed like Christmas in summer time. This year, like last year, residents were asked to stay clear of the area because of the COVID restrictions. Living as I do in close proximity to the pier, I have a bird’s eye view of the action from my front porch… and I take advantage of this view.

As I watched forklifts and front-end loaders lift and carry heavily loaded containers onto the barge, my thoughts flashed back to the early years of the 20th century, 1906-08, and I wondered how they loaded and unloaded large items here in Kalaupapa at the time when our present church, St. Francis, was erected. I wondered what type of barge they had then and I wondered what kind of barge they used when they built the pyramids in the far distant past. It was a day to remember. Aloha.


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