August 19th, 2020 / posted by paularath

The iconic Rath Building, named after my grandfather, James Arthur Rath.

Palama Settlement’s oral histories will be featured on KHPR, Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation” tomorrow at 11 a.m.

I will be talking to host Catherine Cruz regarding a program called “Weaving Voices” being sponsored by the UHM Center for Oral History and the Hawaii Council for the Humanities. The stated purpose of the program is to weave “voices from oral history and today, carrying resilience into the future.”

The impetus is a series of oral histories that my parents, the late Jacky and Bobby Rath,  and I coordinated for the 1996 Centennial of Palama Settlement. (Of note: We are now preparing for our 125th Anniversary in 2021.)

One of the oral histories is my father’s. He talks about growing up as the son of the first Head Worker  and founder of Palama Settlement, and what the Palama neighborhood was like in the early 1900s. He mentions the Fresh Air Camp and the area kids’ passion for sports. He also says that nobody knew he was the “bosses son” or a haole because “I was in the sun so much I was dark, and they couldn’t tell my pidgin English from theirs. I’d get into fights like anybody else and get into groups. I was part of the Nishikiya gang, for instance, and I was just one of the kids….none of them knew I was haole. I think they thought I was probably Portugese Hawaiian. When you get into competitive things none of that matters any more.”

Another of the selected oral histories is that of Moke Kealoha, a Palama boy who went on to University of Miami and Columbia University, then became an executive at Servco Pacific. He grew up at Palama and he used to love to say “I would have been in prison if it wasn’t for Palama Settlement.”

Please join me for “The Conversation” from 11 a.m. to noon tomorrow. And if you can’t make the time then, after 2 p.m. it will become an Oral History Podcast on KHPR.

In addition, next week Wednesday, August 26, from 4 – 5:15 p.m., there will be a panel presentation of “Weaving Voices” on Zoom.

Paula Rath

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