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My grandmother, Amelia Nakapa`ahu Machado, lived on Kapahulu Avenue, in the lane across the street from the Waikiki Public Library. I grew up in her house. With my sister and cousins and neighborhood kids, I swam often at Kuhio beach, hung out at the Zoo, Aquarium, Queens Surf, the old boat house, the "wall" and areas all up and down the beachfront. I got to know all of Waikiki quite well.

My grandmother had many jobs in her life. In the 1950s she worked at Tripler Hospital in the food service department as a cook. Before that she was a schoolteacher. Earlier in her life, during W.W.II, she was also the housekeeper in a house of prostitution in Waikiki ran by the US military. Once she showed me a photo of her at the brothel. She was one of two local women in the photo, and looked very Chinese. The other five were beautiful haole women who worked there as sex workers.

She shared with me that at this brothel only haole women were allowed to be sex workers. She said that the haole men seemed to prefer the haole women, which is why she, herself, as beautiful as I think she was, was never approached by the haole clientele. Anyhow, she said that nonwhite women were generally regarded as 'help'.

I wish I still had this photo. It got destroyed when my house flooded in the 1970s.

Lynette Cruz, 2003

 

Editors' note - When martial law was declared in Hawai'i in 1941, the military became in charge of the sex industry. In this, the military was quite insistent, since sex was a major part of its offer of R&R to its personnel. The military transported sex workers to Hawai'i (as military priority) and lifted the ban on sex work in previous non red-light and residential areas.

Not surprisingly, then, martial law remained in effect for nearly 3 years, long after any threat of immediate danger. While the military got exclusive use of fancy hotels in Waikiki, people living in Hawai'i were forced onto food rations.