Rearview Mirror: Transporting pork over the Pali may be hazardous to your car | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2022-08-31 08:36:14 By : Ms. Annie Liu

Henry Kaiser built the Tapa Room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village just for Alfred Apaka Jr., right. Apaka’s father tested the pork over the Pali legend in 1923.

She and seven friends tested the legend about taking pork over the Pali in 1961. It didn’t go well.

I love it when readers share a personal experience that was meaningful to them and that is also entertaining to the rest of us. This week’s column features tales of spirits — from carrying pork over the Pali, to the spirit of aloha transplanted to the Midwest, to a spirited tribute to a retiring Punahou president that surprised and amused his local audience. Enjoy. Read more

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I love it when readers share a personal experience that was meaningful to them and that is also entertaining to the rest of us. This week’s column features tales of spirits — from carrying pork over the Pali, to the spirit of aloha transplanted to the Midwest, to a spirited tribute to a retiring Punahou president that surprised and amused his local audience. Enjoy.

Every now and then, someone asks me about taking pork over the Pali, and why one shouldn’t do it.

Ancient Hawaiian legend has it that volcano goddess Pele and the half-man, half-pig demigod, Kamapua‘a, had a tumultuous relationship. When they broke up, they agreed not to see each other.

If humans take pork over the old Pali Road, it is as if they are trying to reunite them, the legend says. Madame Pele would stop that from happening by immobilizing their car.

Former Kalani high school teacher Gere Best said, when she was younger, she and some friends decided to test that legend.

“As a junior at the University of Hawaii in 1960, a bunch of us ‘Goofies’ who knew of the ‘Do NOT bring pork over the Pali’ rule just had to test the truth of it.

“One evening, eight of us fibbed to our parents and told them we were heading off to Sinclair Library to do research (we did not tell them what kind).

“Eight of us squeezed into a Volkswagen with a pound of wrapped-up roast pork in our hands. It was a bumpy, noisy ride to the top of the Pali.

“As we neared the turn, the driver gunned the Volkswagen to take us around the first curve. We shot ahead briefly, and then the car stopped. NO POWER.

“It was PITCH PITCH PITCH black up at the Pali. All eight hysterical ‘researchers’ piled out of the car yelling for the package of roast pork. In the chaos, nobody could find it. Finally, we located it and tossed it over the cliff.

“Then the real challenge began — getting eight people back into the Volkswagen in the dark. Lo and behold, the car started and off we went.

“Till today (I am 82), I will NOT drive over the Pali with a package of roast pork. I have NO INCLINATION to tempt the gods much less challenge the validity of the precautionary lesson.”

The father of Hawaii’s great baritone singer, Alfred Apaka Sr. told the Honolulu Advertiser’s Bob Krauss in 1961 that he had also tested the legend, 40 years earlier.

In 1923, Apaka owned two Cadillac automobiles with which he operated a taxi and tour service. His brother-in-law was foreman of Kaneohe Ranch Co. One evening, Apaka drove to the windward side to his brother-in-law’s house to attend a luau.

“About 11 o’clock,” Apaka said, “my brother-in-law told me, ‘Here, you take some of this pig home. We can’t eat it all.’” Apaka headed back to town with the leftovers.

“Honestly, I forgot all about it in the back seat. I got to the top of the Pali when the car stopped. ‘Cheeee!’ I said to myself. That’s funny. I can’t be out of gas. What made the car stop?’

“I turned around and then I smelled the pig. I tell you, the hair on my neck stood straight out. My hands started to shake.

“My grandfather used to tell me about the spirits that live up on the Pali. He said you could talk to them just like humans. Ask them things. They’d answer.

“I looked around. I couldn’t see anybody. Finally, I said, ‘Ahem, I have some pork here in the car. If you’d like some, take all you want. But leave a little for me and my family.’

“When I started talking to the spirits, I was whispering. Before I finished, I was yelling at the top of my lungs.

“Then I decided to try to start the car. I turned on the key. The motor started just like that.

“I came down the other side of that mountain on two wheels! Not until I reached Nuuanu Cemetery did I slow down. Was I scared? Believe me, I was petrified. This was the real McCoy. It really happened. The spirits stopped my car.”

Krauss asked if there was any chance the car could have overheated on the steep, narrow switchbacks.

“Overheated? No, no, it was a powerful car, only a year old. I’d driven it over the Pali 500 times with a load of tourists. It never overheated. It was in perfect condition. That’s the story. You don’t have to believe it.”

Readers — did you ever test this legend?

Louette Ames told me she and her Marine husband were stationed in Hawaii in the 1950s. She gave birth to a son at Kaiser hospital, where the Prince Hotel is today on Ala Moana Boulevard.

“As a teenager and college student in the Midwest, I loved listening to ‘Hawaii Calls,’ broadcast over the radio from ‘Under the Banyan Tree’ at the Moana hotel. Sometimes Alfred Apaka Jr. was a guest singer on the musical show.

“In 1959, when we married and moved to Hawaii, we lived at the Rosalee Apartments on the Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki. In the apartment next to us lived Alfred Apaka Jr.

“Several times a week, his father would visit, and they would sit on their lanai and sing together. Talk about Aloha! Although I never met either of the Apakas, we sure enjoyed their impromptu concerts.

“When my husband was reassigned and we left the islands, we bought one of Henry Kaiser’s cars and shipped it back to the mainland. It was a Lincoln Continental Mark IV.

“Because the car had only been driven in Hawaii, with the salt air and speed limit of 45 mph, when we ‘opened it up’ to 65 mph on the freeways, we had a mechanical breakdown every day on the way from San Francisco to Chicago. It had been pampered too long.

“One breakdown on a country road resulted in a local farmer towing it into town behind his tractor. What a sight — an old tractor pulling a gorgeous Lincoln Continental!

“Time has passed. We have been married 60 years, have four sons and eight grandchildren. My husband is a retired Marine of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. We are living in northern Illinois and still have contact with several island friends.

“Our Midwest home is filled with our Polynesian memories. We had even taken many dance lessons of ancient and modern hula, Tahitian, Maori, Samoan, and opened our own Hawaiian catering business (Hapa Haole Catering).

“Even in my 80s, I still join a local Samoan chief and his group to do a hula or two. However, at 93, my husband no longer can do a decent Tahitian.”

Bob Robinson, former president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough died Aug. 7 at 89.

“McCullough was the speaker at a large cocktail party and dinner in 1994 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom. It was honoring Rod McPhee, who had stepped down after 26 years as president of Punahou School.

“McCullough’s son was a teacher at Punahou. My wife, Susan and I were privileged to attend. He was one of my favorite historians.

“We particularly noted that while virtually all the guests were in aloha attire, McCullough was quite formally dressed in a navy blue suit.

“After a few opening comments, McCullough asked the audience’s indulgence and removed his jacket.

“After a time, he said he was still warm and removed his shirt and tie. He was clad in a colorful aloha shirt.

“He went on, and again said he was still hot and removed his trousers.

“He had on short pants underneath. And with black shoes and socks he looked like a naive tourist. The audience loved it.

“In his aloha attire, McCullough went on with a heartfelt tribute to Rod McPhee, retiring president of Punahou, the nation’s largest private school.”

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