Big Island Memories

Please take a moment to watch interviews from members of the Big Island plantation community who came down to the museum to share their memories. These recollections span decades and cover many aspects of plantation living in old Hawaii. These interviews were collected by volunteer videographer Louanne Ponder, who recorded them right inside of the museum. These stories are happy, sad, nostalgic, and 100% authentic.

Click on the portraits of the different speakers to share their memories of the Big Island.

On summer vacations the plantation offered jobs to all the young people who wants to work, you could be a male or female... 45 cents a day.

Untitled-6Tony Medeiros, heavy equipment operator at Onomea Sugar Company, remembers his Wife, his Family, & going to the DentistHear his stories.



We had visitors from Mexico, Ecuador, the Philippines & India... and they all came to study crop logging at the University of Hawaii.

Untitled-3Takashi Nonaka, manager at C. Brewer Crop Log Laboratory, talks about Agriculuralism, Aikido, and meeting his Wife. Hear his stories.



This girl walked in, she was about 15. Right there at the counter, I told me friend, 'I'm going to marry that girl.' I was 19... I married her after 5 years.


Leo Crivello, heavy equipment operator at the Onomea Sugar Company, remembers meeting his Wife, & being Locked in a Freezer. Hear his stories.



They'd carry about 50 gallons on each side of the horse... they went places where you couldn't get a four-wheeler - equipment just wouldn't go there.

John FitzgeraldJohn Fitzgerald, Autoshop Transport Overseer, remembers Unions, Horses, Machinery, & the Tsunami. Hear his stories.



My father was director of industrial relations for Hilo Sugar, and the union movement was just getting going and there was a big strike in the late '40s.


Ray Stewart, returns to the Big Island after 60 years. Ray shares his memories about that move to & from Hawaii, and Baseball. Hear his stories.



Chop it up, cook with the vegetable. Tomato beef, or just one whole steak, so we can all share. And there were no complains, we enjoyed every bit.

Untitled-4Mr. & Mrs. Kaya, have been married for 67 years. They reminisce about Sharing, Courtship, & FertilizerHear their stories.



In the middle of the night, my mother heard this big noise... she went outside & everything went dark because all the electricity went off.

Kumiko Shirai Tobara, retired school teacher, talks about the Fish Market, the 1959 Lava Flow, & 1960 Tsunami. Hear her stories.



I used to bring a lot of stuff home, which didn't make my wife happy. My neighbor used to come over and say, 'Oh boy, why don't you start a museum'?

Wayne Subica, owner & historian of the HUntitled-7awaii Plantation Museum shares his knowledge on Plantation Life on the Big Island. Hear his stories.