Maui Girl

These stories from Donna Austin come from her rich Maui history and heritage.

14 August 2006

Sandwich Islands: Story Four

They both heard the pots start to bubble and the lids rattle their warning. “The water’s ready for the baths.” Said Rose. Manuel helped Rose fill the large wooden tub in the bathhouse with a mixture of hot and cold water. Then Rose went to the front porch and called, “Virginia, bath time! You’re first!” Thus began the long process of bathing, starting with the youngest. By the time her father had come back from the fields, hot, tired and sweaty, the tub was again filled with clean warm water, ready for his turn.

As father took his bath, Julia his wife, scooped the last loaf of bread into their outdoor oven with a long paddle. The smell of fresh baking bread wafted through the yard and competed with the smell of ginger and mangos hanging on their bushes and trees and with the smell of corn barbecuing on the grill.

Suppertime was the happiest time of the day for most Portuguese families, but especially so for the Gomes family. Anyone standing outside could hear the laughter and observe the glow of happy faces, glad to be all together again, Prayers were said, corn, freshly churned butter, home made bread an thick vegetable chicken soup was eaten with relish and stories were exchanged with interest by all.

Although Joseph an Julia Gomes had come to Maui in 1883, on the Hankow from the Azores and traveled around the Horn, they spoke some English. But at home when they were together, they spoke their native language, Portuguese. All their children were sent to school for a few years at least so that they could learn to read and write English and do Arithmetic so they could understand the value of money. Saving and hard work was something Rose’s parents believed in strongly, next to the Catholic religion and their family, which tied for first place in their lives.

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