Monday, September 2, 2013

Iolani Class of '61 Turning 70 Birthday Party

What an effort on the part of the planning committee to pull off this Turning 70 Event held at the Japanese Cultural Center on August 24, 2013. Forty-four classmates and twenty-seven  wives turned out to make this a successful event.

Elaine Chun  was the chairperson of this event. Her planning committee consisted of Gary Shigemura, Ken Nakasone, Warren Ho, Jim Miyashiro, Cliff Uejio, Tom Wong and Rodney Chun. Several Iolani '61 wives  were also  key players in the  planning. Dick Tsuda handled the finances and the collection of the money.

Lynn Nakasone, Carolyn Shigemura and Kathleen Takemoto did a marvelous job  with the decorations  and Ken Lee, Rodney Chun and Anita Ho put in a hard effort to come up with gift certificates/door prizes.

No sooner had I  entered the ball room ,  I was presented a name tag by Sue Miyashiro  who was in charge of the check in. Most of the class was doing a "Class of 61" questionnaire with 50's and 60's oldies selected by Jim Miyashiro  being played in the background. Jim also provided the pens,  each one topped by a huge daisy with a photo of each classmate taken from Iolani yearbooks.

A sample question was which faculty member said, "Holy Moses, King of the Jews, bought his wife a pair of shoes and when the shoes began to wear, Holy Moses began to swear ." Several spouses actually corrected these questionnaires and tallied the scores so there would be no "fudging". Prizes were later presented to the three classmates with the highest scores.

A table was set up with photos from our high school days set up with photos provided by Mo Kimo Lai, Michael  Chun, Elliott Lum, Ken Lee and Cliff Uejio.  Milton and Maddie Oshiro provided cookies decorated with our unique Class of '61 seal  and also  the gift box decorations.

Andre'  Dulce  was the host and master of ceremonies for this event. Andre' was also the main cheerleader for this event in the months proceeding to get  classmates worked up about attending the event via email and phone calls/snail mail  from Seattle.

Prior to the beginning of the official program Brian Furuhashi, Dexter's son, entertained us on the guitar  with one of his favorite instrumentals.

Dr. Mo Kimo Lai began the program with an oli (Hawaiian chant) entitled "Kunihi ka Mauna" (steep stands the mountan), which is often used to do things like ask for permission (to perform,) show respect for places and show humility.  Mo then followed with an oli komo (welcoming chant) after which Carolyn Shigemura and Elaine Chun danced the hula "Pola'ila'i which talks about the enjoying looking at the moon and the stars and enjoying the fragrance of the pikake.

Mo who was attired in a kihei (shawl) and a maile lei made by Elaine Chun said that the hula reminded  him  of La'i road in upper Palolo  Valley where many of our classmates lived in the past and where Bruce Ames currently lives on thirteen acres of farm land where he engages in legitimate farming.

Afterwards, Mike and Lorrie Chun and Mike  and Trudy Uechi gave a ballroom dance demonstration to the song "Last Night". Their dancing was remarkable ,  highly polished , and performed with precision and they looked like they were ready for "Dancing with the Stars" on network TV.

At the end of the performance,   Bob Mumper gave the invocation and blessing for the food.  Brunch consisted of assorted barbecued meats, chicken, fish and  various vegetable and fruit  salads followed by a choice of desserts. A "no host" bar was on hand to provide classmates with something other than water, juice or soda.

The following were random comments made by classmates in attendance:

Wes Tanaka says that he spends his free time reading, exercising and doing  home projects.

Bruce Ames is enjoying retirement life in Palolo Valley where he is training for the 2014 Honolulu Marathon. He considers himself a "wogger"....halfway between a walker and a jogger. He says that he ran the 2013 Honolulu Marathon in 8 1/2 hours and plans to run the next one at  the same pace (roughly 3.2 miles per hour)  He says that the view from the back of the pack of  the wonderful female okoles is what keeps one motivated to keep going.

Bob Mumper also  considers himself a "wogger" and like Ames also enjoys  the view from the back of the pack. Mumper says that he spent his summer visiting family in Massachusetts and Virginia where he spent a great deal of time watching Nascar and Duck Dynasty.

Ken Lee and Jennifer spent time in Los Angeles visiting their daughter and her family. Ken is in the process of building a new home in Kahala where he'll be able to step out his door and jog on level ground. At our age, it's hard enough to jog on level ground. Who needs a hill right outside your door unless you're expecting a flood?

"Long time no see" Dennis Iwamura is still running a Brokerage Company in Enchanted Lakes Kailua  and he also represents Novelty Candies.

Mike Uechi is too busy being retired and participates in ballroom dancing with his life time partner Trudy.

Dennis Goto says that he's still working and loves what he's doing.

Rodney Chun is till working at AA Electric and phasing of out of his chiropractor practice.

Stephen Sato is still retired and divides his time between Hawaii and California. He's still playing tennis.

Frannie Wong is almost retired and chasing yellow balls and tries to stay healthy.

Emmett Yoshioka says, "Music! Music! Music! What else?...."

Chuck Leong...."Golf anyone?...anywhere, anytime....he's been retired for 11 years.

Richard Kimura....Still working and taking care of his dogs.

Russ Saito.....says he's still working and he travels a lot visiting his grandchildren.

Mark Hayashi says that he golfs a lot and helps takes care of the grandkids.

Les Hata one of our calabash classmates (Kaimuki '61) does a lot of fishing (trolling, shore casting, diving) and helping to watch grandsons. Les finally retired after many many years of  serving on the Moilili Neighborhood Board.

Allan Kawada spends time fishing, volunteering in a feral cat program to capture, neuter and release them back into the neighborhoods. He also does target shooting and practices Kendo.

Rodney Inefuku , another calabash classmate (Kailua '61) practices karate, plays the guitar and enjoys gardening, reading non-fiction and traveling.

Ken Kaneshiro enjoys fishing and spending time with his  grandkids. Like Dick Tsuda, he enjoys his work at the University of Hawaii and sees no reason to retire.

Dick Tsuda is working in the UH Entomology Department and watches his grandkids grow. Just another note....his wife Cassy told me that Dick was named after Dick from  the "Dick and Jane" reading series from the early 50's.

Fred Takara who left Iolani in his 10th grade year and graduated from McKinley ('61) enjoys taking trips to Japan and collecting photos of family members and other relatives who live all over via Facebook. He says that he's trying to accomplish his "bucket list"  items.

Craig Ichinose visiting from Ventura,  California says that he's still working but makes sure that he has fun getting together with  friends and their families.

Don Watanabe has been retired from Honolulu Fire Department for 14 years. He keeps busy doing projects around the house, diving and trolling and traveling.

Ken Nakasone is a retired engineer and spends time golfing, traveling and resting.

Lincoln Tokumoto is retired and lives in Thousand Oaks, California. He works 3 days a week at a library. He comes back to Hawaii frequently to help with the care of his mother and says that it's great to see old classmates.

Wayne Takemoto is retired living in Honolulu with his wife Kathleen. He was with the State Civil Defense for 11 years. Kathleen was a 6th grade classmate of Bob Mumper in Mrs. Brickner's class at Aina Haina School. Other members of the class were Richard Chung, Arthur Akina, Ed Ching,  and Frank Fukunaga.

Gordon KH Chun says that he's semi -retired and living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He works part time in China As a chemical engineer.

Cliff Uejio is retired and living in Waikiki. He said that his wife Stephanie put him on a diet and he has lost 25 pounds in his 3 years of marriage.

Mike Chun has been retired from the Dept. of Justice since 2004. He continues to volunteer for the Red Cross and AARP Tax Aide and spends a lot of time traveling and ball room dancing with his wife Lorrie.

Steven Takaki is retired from IBM and the Bank of Hawaii but continues to do volunteer work with the Kalihi YMCA and the Aina Haina Library. He recently traveled to London and Ireland. With the new academic year starting up, he'll be teaching two course (ICS 101) at Kapiolani Community College.

Jim Miyashiro long retired as a pharmacist still watches his grandchildren.

Milt Oshiro says that he retired in June. He says that he and Jim Miyashiro visited their former basketball coach , Coach Bobby Kau, at Kahala  Nui a couple of months ago.

Miles Ono says that he visited Europe this past may with his wife Lorene. He also visited Disneyland and Legoland last summer with his wife, grandson , son and daughter-in-law.

Richard Chung who didn't not come to Iolani  from Punahou until  his senior year says that he visited a dude ranch with his grandkids in Montana. As noted above, I was in the same 6th grade class with Richard at Aina Haina  and thought that he was at Iolani the entire time.

David Tyau who retired sometime ago from the post office has traveled all over the world with his wife Anita. David can tell you to be sure to remember your pin numbers of your credit cards when traveling internationally. He has experienced having to provide his pin number prior to using the card, apparently a standard precautions used by credit companies to guard against theft. No charge.

Just a I traveled across country this summer , I had my credit denied and had to call the number on the back of the card to let them know that my card had not been stolen. I guess that's a good thing.

The next day, Ken and Jennifer Lee hosted the class at his home on the Hawaii Kai ridge line. Most of the classmates showed up and conversations resumed about old time, new times and from what I gathered about the importance of good health. As Woody Allen said in an interview in a recent issue of Esquire, you can have a successful life with family, home, job,  and good investments   but it you have a toothache, , gingivitis,  gout  or "God Forbid"something terrible like heart disease or cancer, it ruins everything.

As we all walked into Ken's house, Milton Oshiro was challenging guys to "Guess, Who This Is?". He towered above most of us at 5'11''. It was none other than Gerry Wheeler who lives in Aiea. He's married with three sons and is employed by Martin and MacArthur who makes koa furniture and other high end items. He says that he loves hockey. Most of remember Gerry as one of our shorter students who obviously had one heck of a growth spurt after he left Iolani.

At the end of the Saturday event at the Japanese Cultural Center, we were addressed by Jim Miyashiro and  class president Winston Hoshino from the Big Island who shared some of their memories of Iolani. Then we watched a musical  video and montage of slides and pictures from our years at Iolani accompanied by hit songs from  our era like "Mr. Sandman, give me a dream" and "She wore an itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini" Special tribute was also paid to our  classmates who had already passed on.

Also in attendance were Tom Campbell who came incognito (check out the class birthday picture last row), Sid Takenishi from  San Jose, California ,calabash classmate Wendell Wong (Punahou '61), Andre's sister Elissa , Annie Chun, Constance Goto, Betsy Hata, Virgie Hayashi, Wei Wei Inefuku, Joyce Kawada, Lorna Lai, Jennifer Lee,  Lei Saito , Kathleeen Takaki, Lena Tanaka,  Stephanie Uejio, Joan Watanabe, Joyce Wong and Judy Yoshioka. Jim Miyashiro's brother,  Ronald Miyashiro, filmed this event for posterity.

A copy of the DVD featuring the musical video and pictures mentioned above  was enclosed in a package with a 70th birthday event Class of '61 tee shirt and a ball cap and provided for everyone in attendance.  So, if you didn't make it, somebody who attended will have the DVD produced by our host and MC, Andre' Dulce

After Ken Lee's   Class of '61 day time  stag bash on Sunday....Chuck Leong, Craig Ichinose, Mo Lai and Russ Saito continued celebrating  at Russ's house that evening.

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