Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toshio Moritsugu Interview
Narrator: Toshio Moritsugu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mtoshio-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Tell me a little bit about Waikiki during the war. What was that like in terms of an area?

TM: Waikiki at that time was not as bright and open as now. It was a quiet place. You had two good theaters, the Waikiki Theater and Kuhio Theater, and you made reservation to be sure that you got a seat in the hotel, I mean, theater. I preferred the Waikiki Theater because it was classier, you had an organist and you had good seats and you made your reservations. So a couple of times I did go to the (theater). Around the streets, you had vendors where they had hot dog stands and then a few dining restaurants, a bowling alley, and other than that, it was a quiet place. One of the big restaurants was Lau Yee Chai, which was a Chinese restaurant, and then hotels here and there, Royal Hawaiian (...). Then you had the Moana Hotel and then Princess Kaiulani came out later, and next to the Halekulani was the Niumalu Hotel, a small hotel which later became the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

TI: Interesting, going back to Halekulani, who owned the hotel at this time?

TM: Halekulani was owned by the Kimball family. Mr. Kimball passed away, so Mrs. Kimball ran the hotel. She had a son who was the manager (...) for awhile. The manager, Richard Kimball, was busy with his business and political work that they got a new manager called Gwen Austin who stayed there while I was at the Halekulani. And Mrs. Kimball ran the hotel on a personal basis.

TI: And describe your relationship with Mrs. Kimball because you did things with her.

TM: Mrs. Kimball stayed in a bungalow and she got all the information from the head waiter and things ran well. So she had very little to do except seeing that the hotel was being run well. Every so often she would have a family gathering in Manoa, at the home of her eldest son. And at that home, the family would get together and they would need a waiter to serve them. And she somehow took a liking to me and then she asked me if I wanted to wait at the home. I felt bad because there were other waiters who had been there quite a long time and that I being picked, I wanted to do it but I talked to the head waiter and asked him that I felt kind of awkward being picked by her. He said, "Don't worry, it's for the good of us. Accept it and wait for her." So I waited on the family and this happened several times and she drove me to that home, took me back, and gave me a tip each time I did that.

TI: So this was a private residence of her son?

TM: Yes.

TI: And so it was just a large home in another part of Honolulu that you would go to?

TM: Yes, Manoa was about two miles away from Halekulani, in fact, I live in Manoa now. And it's up in the hills, in the mountain area, and at that time was a secluded community, well-recognized.

TI: So I'm curious, were your impressions, you know, here you grew up in a fishing camp on the side of the island, and now you're in a position where you're in a home where it's much different probably in terms of what they did in there. What impressions or what did you learn by observing the Kimball family?

TM: I learned that if you do a good job, the management will recognize you and that the main thing is that do your job well and don't get into trouble. Be as friendly and cordial as possible so I was sort of outward in a way, talking to guests, and then knowing them, their calling me by my first name. And do all the service that was required at the hotel.

TI: How about things in terms of just observing the family dynamics in terms of family values, I mean, when you look at a Kimball family versus your family, were there differences in terms of how people responded to each other, or how they were raised, or did you notice anything like that that you thought was interesting?

TM: Well, I couldn't see much of that but whenever I was serving at that home in Manoa, I sensed that it was a close-knit family. They got along well, respected each other and that it reminded me somewhat of our family. In other words, they were very cordial and respected each other.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.