Back in the ‘60s I lived at the end of the road on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai in a small Haena gatehouse. Though Taylor Camp would soon arrive to decorate the forest with tree houses, at the time I was the only haole (Caucasian) who lived past Rose Harada’s store north of Hanalei. I drove a 1943 Jeep that I bought only because 1943 was the year I was born, and I hoped that Jeep might last as long as I might last, maybe longer (It didn’t.).
As good fortune would have it, I landed a radio show at KTOH, “K” designating west of the Mississippi, and “TOH” designating “Territory of Hawaii.” The studio was in the town of Lihue, and as I had occasion to drive past Rose Harada’s store in Haena every day, I sometimes stopped in to give her my custom. Rose did not take a shine to me. In fact, she seemed to wear a perpetual frown whenever I entered her store. So I made it my object to make her smile, but my jokes and riddles kept falling flat …
“Rose, do you know what Mauna Kea said to Mauna Loa?”
“I’ll lava-lava you if you’ll lava-lava me.” This sure-fire riddle elicited a blank stare.
Fresh out of jokes and riddles, I had decided to pass by Rose Harada’s store one afternoon when I noticed two older gentlemen tarring a roof. They were pretty old guys so I stopped to give them a hand. John Hanohanopa, the last Hawaiian born in Kalalau Valley, and Henry Tai Hook, rumored to be the father of various Kauai kids, welcomed me up onto the roof, though they continued to speak to each other in Hawaiian.
Around five o’clock we had the job done and were climbing down the ladder when Rose Harada appeared with a plate full of grilled manini and a six pack of Primo beer.
John, Henry, Rose and I cracked a Primo, and lo and behold if Rose Harada didn’t crack a smile. The four of us engaged in cordial conversation about the tides, the moon, and Madam Pele. When I got up to go Rose put her hand on my arm. “Mackie Boy, you no pass by but you stop by an’ say aloha.” She then smiled the most beautiful smile I ever saw.
I learned from Rose Harada and John Hanohanopa and Henry Tai Hook that if you want to make a person smile, you need not tell a funny story. All you need do is to show some aloha, and that will elicit a broad smile, maybe a hug.
I came away from the Hawaiian Islands with a promise to myself that I carry with me unto this day: “Whenever possible, think with the heart.”
In these acrimonious times, we have an opportunity, a responsibility really, to spread the spirit of aloha to our other 49 states. If we unlock our hearts, we can emulate the spirit of aloha, and that lovely lady who would not smile.
McAvoy Layne is a resident of Incline Village, Nevada.