Mrs. Mokumaia Will Retire After 35 Years as Teacher
By MAY DAY LO
Mrs. Clara M. Mokumaia, principal of Kaloaloa school, was busy checking upon details for a Boy Scouts’ party when we found her for an interview. The sandwiches were being made, cookies were baked and 10 gallons of punch had been ordered. She had put some flowers in the school auditorium to spruce it up a bit for the party.
She had had a busy school day but she was going to return in the evening to make sure that her Boy Scouts had a good time.
“I’m strong for Boy Scout work,” she explained. “Some people object to the Scouts using the school buildings because they might damage them a little but I would rather have better boys than beautiful buildings. It is more than important to have a boy’s life clean and fit.”
Love for Children
It is this great love for boys and girls that has been the driving force in all of Mrs. Mokumaia’s work and which still marks her work today.
After 35 years and nine months of teaching, she is going to retire in June at the end of this school year. She is retiring because she has reached the compulsory retirement age of 65.
But this does not mean that she is going to stop working with and for young people.
“I shall go right on helping children wherever I can,” she declared. “I feel that there is one job I must do and that is to clean up the area ewa of the school campus so that the boys and girls can have it for a playground. I’m going to work on that park until it is ready for them.”
“It would mean so much to the children of Damon tract to have that extra playground,” she continued. “It makes for cleaner and better living.”
She loves to talk about “my boys and girls.”
Helped Rear 28
Although she has had no children of her own, she has helped read 28 children.
“I kept my little home full of children,” she said fondly.
She took them in wherever she found them needy. They were of many racial extractions—Filipino, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Caucasian. Most of them were Hawaiian or part Hawaiian and part Chinese.
At least 20 of her foster children are in Honolulu and doing well.
How Mrs. Mokumaia’s eyes shine when she talks about them.
“I’m proud of seeing them stand on their own feet,” she declared. “I’m glad to have helped them start in life. It makes me so happy to have their love and have them call me Mother.”
“I shall never be lonely,” she said in a voice low with feeling.
Her children and her children’s children are always calling on her. Mother’s Day is a particularly great day for her. She gets so many remembrances.
Come for Picnic
“Once a year my Chinese children all come to my home for a picnic,” she said. “They do all the work. Won’t let me do a thing. You see I’m the big Apo (grandmother).”
Mrs. Mokumaia was born and educated in Akron, Ohio. Her mother was the former Kapoina Maggnett, a Hawaiian girl who was taken by her missionary guardian, Christopher Lewers, to the mainland.
Mr. Lewers was the uncle of Robert Lewers of Lewers & Cooke, Ltd. The young Hawaiian girl attended Mt. Pleasant seminary in Pannsylvania and married a Smith Dandridge.
One day Mrs. Mokumaia and her…
…mother heard that there were some Hawaiians in town with Buffalo Bill’s Rough Riders. Always eager to meet folks from the home country, they went to the show and it was there that Mrs. Mokumaia, then Miss Dandrige, met John Kulia Mokumaia who later became her husband.
Home 40 Years Ago
“I came home 40 years ago,” Mrs. Mokumaia reminisced.
Many will remember Mr. Mokumaia, who was popularly known as “Two Gun” Bill. He was with the police department for 25 years and at the time of his death 11 years ago was deputy high sheriff of the territory.
Mrs. Mokumaia chuckled as she told how he got his nickname. One day the family was out camping near Moanalua when four escaped prisoners started prowling around the place. Mr. Mokumaia with two revolvers rounded them up and marched them with their hands held high in the air toward the prison.
Halfway to the prison he found that the revolvers were rusty and wouldn’t work but he managed to keep that fact from the prisoners and delivered them safely. When the story got about that he had done it with two ineffective revolvers, the name “Two Gun” Bill was given to him.
Teaching Since 1905
Mrs. Mokumaia started teaching on January 5, 1905, at the old Moanalua school.
“It was a real little old red school house with 67 children,” she said. “There were seven grades and one teacher! Yes I was all alone but weren’t we happy!”
Mrs. Mokumaia was with the Moanalua school for 32 years. During that time the school grew and then moved into a new building, the present one.
She was practically a mother to the students. She cooked soup for the undernourished children, took care of the youngsters’ sores, aches and pains, fed them cod liver oil and always kept oil of cloves, cotton and tooth picks in her desk to help ease the children’s tooth aches.
In January, 1937, she was assigned to take charge of the new Kaloaloa school at Damon tract.
Yes, she loves her work but she is looking forward to a rest.
Like the woman “whose price is above rubies,” her many, many children call her blessed.
(Star-Bulletin, 5/30/1940, Section Two, p. 2)