In July 1973, Gloria Rapozo of Hanamaulu Camp, reminisced about baking Portuguese bread in a brick oven, which was still standing within a splintered shed in the camp, but was then unusable.
“My father, Joe Sa, built the oven not long after he arrived at Hanamaulu Camp with my mother, Antonia, from Madeira, Portugal, in 1909. He copied it from the ones they had in Portugal,” said Rapozo.
The oven was made of mortared brick, shaped like an igloo, and its waist-high floor was vented to allow coals and ash to fall into a pit below.
“Once a week the ladies in the camp took turns using the oven,” she recalled.
“I used to come here and help my mother start a wood fire in the oven. After about an hour, the bricks turned white hot and my mother would rake the coals till they dropped down below. When the oven was empty, she used a long-handled wet mop to clean all inside, so there were no ashes left.
“Then she’d throw dry flour inside. If it burned real fast it meant the oven was too hot. When it was the right temperature, she used a long shovel to put in about 20 loaves of bread. That would last us the whole week. She would cook meat in the oven, too.”
While the oven was fired up, Mrs. Sa also slipped a pot of beans into the oven.
“Then we’d take the beans home, put them in soup and eat it with the bread. We also had cabbage soup, spaghetti soup, split pea soup, watercress soup with bone — very cheap in those days — or ham hocks and Portuguese sausage.
“We didn’t have any ice boxes in those days, so my mother made her bread yeast of grated potatoes, salt and sugar and a little fermented potato as a starter, and 20 pounds of flour cost only about $1 then.”
Gloria Sa Rapozo (1913-2003) married Joe Rapozo, and they had five children: Neil, Grace, Marie, Thomas and Raymond.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org