CONVERSATIONS WITH AUNTIE CAROL

Auntie Carol Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias within an antique painting of Diamond Head.

A SERIES OF SEVEN HAWAIIAN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS WITH CAROLINE KULIAICANU`UKAPU WILCOX  DELIMA FARIAS

AN UPCOMING PROJECT

This series of oral history interviews with Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias were conducted in Hawai`i between 1992 and 1993. The following excerpts from the annotated introduction and list of interviews are a precursor to the publishing of both the transcripts of the interviews, as well as the recordings themselves. The print and audio editions of this book will offer different supporting content. While both provide short introductions prior to each interview, the print edition has an index for each. In addition, the print edition provides: a table of contents; a brief summary for pronouncing the Hawaiian language; an historically notated glossary; and, a master index. The audio book will offer one feature not included in the print version—notes I recorded when Carol joined my husband, (John Burrows-Johnson) and me on a trip to Mount Haleakalā in May of 1993.

A LIFE WELL LIVED

 These interviews are observations on childhood, family, and events that reflect the inner spirit of the interviewee, who lived from 1923 to 2001. Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias was a descendant of Hawaiian ali`i and a grandniece of Robert W. K. Wilcox, a leader of the unsuccessful 1895 Hawaiian royalist rebellion that strove to restore Queen Lili`uokalani to the throne of a sovereign Kingdom of Hawai`i. My knowledge of the facts of Carol’s life rests on our many conversations during the years of our friendship, as well as her family records and the seven interviews that comprise this book.
 

The recordings of most of our conversations were conducted in a sitting room filled with antique koa furniture, heirloom furnishings, books, and photographs. Usually clad in a shortee or floor-length mu`umu`u, Auntie Carol’s enthusiasm for life was demonstrated in her animated dialogue with the many people she greeted. The warmth of her voice was punctuated by frequent nods and a jangling of bracelets made of carved wood, jade, or gold engraved with distinctive Hawaiian lettering...
 

Auntie Carol was born in `Ulupalakua, Maui, on May 23, 1923. She was the seventh of twelve children born to Frances U. Wilcox DeLima and John DeLima [a plantation supervisor]. Frances was the daughter of Cecelia K. P. Wilcox and Edward J. M. K. Wilcox [an attorney and judge]. Being close to her parents, Frances, her husband, and their children, periodically lived with her parents in their upcountry Maui home...The “English style” house had been built by John J. Halstead, a whaler, craftsman, and merchant from New York. The structure had few bedrooms and no indoor plumbing. Storage of foodstuffs relied on a wire-faced cupboard, and the cooling of containers of food by lowering them down the sides of a well.
 

Like many children raised in a country environment, the days of Carol’s childhood were filled with looking after her younger siblings and assisting her mother with household chores. In addition to going to school, she also helped with gardening and tending pigs, goats, chickens, and cows. With the lack of refrigeration, the family was fortunate that the majority of their meals were based on the fruits and vegetables harvested from their garden and orchard...
 

Education is highly prized in Hawai`i. The Hawaiian public education system is the oldest west of the Mississippi river. It was established by King Kamehameha III in 1841. While appreciating all of her schooling, Carol especially enjoyed participating in the theatrical performances directed by Edwin Tanner, the principal of `Ulupalakua Elementary School. This was Unfortunately, there was only an elementary school in Carol’s area of Maui. Unless a teenager had relatives with whom to live in the larger cities of Maui, or in Honolulu, schooling usually stopped at eighth grade. particularly true for girls, since further education was deemed more vital for boys. Despite her desires, Carol was not enabled to attend high school when she graduated from eighth grade. Instead, she accepted a position to care for the home and son of Edwin Tanner and his wife, who were moving to Kula, Maui. She later worked for staff members of the Kula Sanitarium. Her last job on Maui was serving as a cook for Foster and Lei Robinson [of the family that owns the island of Ni`ihau].
 

At the time, Carol studied hula with Ida Kapohakimohewa. When public performances brought attention to her dancing, the Robinsons’ connections in entertainment yielded the chance for her to dance in Honolulu. Soon Carol was a featured performer of hula `auana at the live shows of the internationally popular Hawai`i Calls, a weekly radio program then broadcast from the Moana Hotel on Waikīkī Beach. Between 1935 and 1975, the colorfully-costumed and artfully-staged show highlighted hula, instrumental and vocal Hawaiian music, and appearances by well-known entertainers from night clubs, theatre, and film. Carol’s specialty performances included “Samoa of Samoa.” Of its continuing popularity, she commented that the song’s lyrics reflected herself with the words, “hair so black hanging down her back.”
 

The radio program aired as usual on the evening of December 6, 1941, the night before the onset of World War II that began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other parts of O`ahu. With interruptions in transportation, Carol was not able to return home to Maui for a while. During the war, she sometimes performed hula, while working at a canteen on what was then the U. S. Naval Station Pearl Harbor. These sources of income allowed her to send hundreds of dollars to her mother each month. Despite having been a professional entertainer for several years, Carol commented on feeling shy about serving meals to such a large volume of servicemen...  

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH AUNTIE CAROL

My visits to the home of Auntie Carol began shortly after I arrived in Honolulu in the winter of 1973. In January, I had moved from Portland, Oregon, where as child and young adult, I trained and performed in theatre and dance. The timing of my arrival in Honolulu coincided with Island celebrations of the ever-popular birthday of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns, for which I had been booked as an entertainer. At a tea sponsored by the Daughters of the British Empire, I met Carol Farias and other people who expressed interest in having their daughters study Scottish Highland Dancing...
 

Time passed, and I returned to school. In 1982, I received an Associate of Arts degree at Windward Community College. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, with distinction, at the University of Hawai`i in 1983. The following year, I was admitted for membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta. While undertaking graduate studies in American and Asian history, I worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the World Civilization program of the History Department of the University of Hawai`i. One of the areas of study I pursued was researching, designing, and conducting oral history projects. Between 1985 and 1987, I lived in Newport, Rhode Island, where my husband was an instructor at the U. S. Naval Education and Training Center. It is there that I began my professional career as a free-lance writer and marketing consultant.

When I returned to the Islands, I continued my freelance work and reconnected with friends, and neighbors in windward O`ahu. Carol informed me of the many changes that had occurred in her life. Her Auntie Kilani [Eleanor E. K. Wilcox Carney] moved into Carol’s home after breaking her hip in 1985. Subsequently, Kilani’s sisters Phoebe K. W. Dunn and Mabel K. Wilcox arrived at the small Kāne`ohe home, which had to be enlarged to accommodate them. This was a time of mixed joys and sorrows for the family. For although the Wilcox Sisters rejoiced in being reunited in Carol’s home, Kilani died in 1986 and Mabel in 1988. Carol’s beloved husband Freddy passed in 1989. Auntie Phoebe, the last of the Wilcox Sisters, died in 1990...
 

After attending the large celebration of Carol’s 70th birthday in 1993, we had a lengthy visit in her home. Her daughters were then married with children, and Carol expressed a desire to have me help organize the heirlooms and books she had inherited from her elder relatives. I began by analyzing her family records. While researching additional information at Honolulu libraries and museums, I wrote letters (under her name and mine) to locate and verify data about her family...  

OUR PROJECT

After attending the large celebration of Carol’s 70th birthday in 1993, we had a lengthy visit in her home. Her daughters were then married with children, and Carol expressed a desire to have me help organize the heirlooms and books she had inherited from her elder relatives. I began by analyzing her family records. While researching additional information at Honolulu libraries and museums, I wrote letters (under her name and mine) to locate and verify data about her family...
 

These interviews were conducted to aid in interpreting information revealed in our research...As she said repeatedly, Carol was most concerned that the heirloom possessions of the Wilcox Sisters be placed where they would be appreciated, so that future generations could learn from their family’s history. Eventually, our review of the possessions she had inherited, led to her decision to reach out to what was then St. Andrew's Priory School for Girls, where some of her cousins and other family members had attended in the early 20th century. Within two years, Carol established a financial aid endowment fund at the school in the name of Eleanor Wilcox Carney, who was a 1909 graduate. Also, after considerable contemplation, Carol donated most of the Wilcox family library and a few koa furnishings to the school’s Queen Emma Library...

OUR CONVERSATIONS

  

INTERVIEW I, October 30, 1992                 Hawaiian Quilting in the Maui Wilcox Family

INTERVIEW II A, May 5, 1993                     Trinity Episcopal Church by-the-Sea

INTERVIEW II B, May 5, 1993                      On the Grounds of the Koa House

INTERVIEW III May 26, 1993                       From Maui to O`ahu

INTERVIEW IV A, May 27, 1993                  John DeLima and Life After Marriage

INTERVIEW IV B, May 27, 1993                  Hawaiian Quilting and Other Handicrafts

INTERVIEW V A, July 28, 1993                   Johanna Wilcox

INTERVIEW V B, July 28, 1993                    Frances DeLima 

INTERVIEW VI, August 5, 1993                   Holidays in `Ulupalakua

INTERVIEW VII A, November 24, 1993      Pā`ina

INTERVIEW VII B, November 24, 1993      Planning for the Future

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