This series of seven oral history interviews with Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias was conducted in Hawai`i between 1992 and 1993. The following excerpts from the annotated introduction and list of interviews are a precursor to the publishing of both the transcripts of the interviews, as well as the recordings themselves. The print and audio editions of this book will offer different supporting content. While both provide short introductions prior to each interview, the print edition has an index for each. In addition, the print edition provides: a table of contents; a brief summary for pronouncing the Hawaiian language; an annotated glossary including biographic, geographic, and Hawaiian terms; and, a master index. The audio book will offer one feature not included in the print version—notes I recorded when Carol joined my husband, (John Burrows-Johnson) and me on a trip to Mount Haleakalā in May of 1993. The project was begun toward the end of my two-decades of living in Hawai`i...somewhat fitting since Auntie Carol was one of the first people to greet me when I moved to the Islands in 1972.
To hear a sample of Conversations with Auntie Carol, and to learn more about Jeanne's fiction and non-fiction books and other projects, please visit Jeanne Burrows-Johnson.com.
These interviews are observations on childhood, family, and events that reflect the inner spirit of the interviewee, who lived from 1923 to 2001. Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias was a descendant of Hawaiian ali`i and a grandniece of Robert W. K. Wilcox, a leader of the unsuccessful 1895 Hawaiian royalist rebellion that strove to restore Queen Lili`uokalani to the throne of a sovereign Kingdom of Hawai`i. My knowledge of the facts of Carol’s life rests on our many conversations during the years of our friendship, as well as her family records and the seven interviews that comprise this book.
The recordings of most of our conversations were conducted in a sitting room filled with antique koa furniture, heirloom furnishings, books, and photographs. Usually clad in a shortee or floor-length mu`umu`u, Auntie Carol’s enthusiasm for life was demonstrated in her animated dialogue with the many people she greeted. The warmth of her voice was punctuated by frequent nods and a jangling of bracelets made of carved wood, jade, or gold engraved with distinctive Hawaiian lettering...
The interviews that comprise this book are observations on childhood, family, and events that reflect the inner spirit of the interviewee, who lived from 1923 to 2001. Carol K. W. D. Farias was a descendant of Hawaiian ali`i, a grandniece of politician Robert W. K. Wilcox (a leading revolutionary who strove to restore Queen Lili`uokalani to her throne), and the second cousin of Johanna N. Wilcox (the first woman registered to vote in the Territory of Hawai`i).
The recordings of most of our conversations were conducted in a sitting room filled with antique koa furniture, heirloom furnishings, books, and photographs. Usually clad in a mu`umu`u, Auntie Carol’s enthusiasm for life was demonstrated in her animated dialogue with the many people she greeted with her warm voice, frequent nods, and a jangling of bracelets made of carved wood, jade, or gold engraved with distinctive Hawaiian lettering.
Auntie Carol was born in `Ulupalakua, Maui, on May 23, 1923. She was the seventh of twelve children born to Frances U. Wilcox DeLima and John DeLima. Frances was the daughter of Cecelia K. P. Wilcox and Edward J. M. K. Wilcox [an attorney and judge]. Being close to her parents, Frances and her family periodically lived in their upcountry Maui home which had been built by Capt. John J. Halstead, a whaler, craftsman, and merchant from New York. The structure was one of ten homes set on a parcel of 104 acres. It had few bedrooms, no electrification, or indoor plumbing. Like many children raised in a country environment, Carol’s childhood focused on assisting her Mother look after her younger siblings, household chores, gardening, and tending livestock.
While appreciating all of her schooling, Carol especially enjoyed participating in the theatrical performances directed by Edwin Tanner, the principal of `Ulupalakua Elementary School. Despite her desires, Carol was unable to attend high school when she graduated from eighth grade. Instead, she accepted a position to care for the home and son of Edwin Tanner and his wife, who were moving to Kula, Maui. Her last job on Maui was serving as a cook for Foster and Lei Robinson [of the family that owns the island of Ni`ihau].
At the time, Carol studied hula with Ida Kapohakimohewa. When public performances brought attention to her dancing, the Robinsons’ connections in entertainment yielded the chance for her to become a featured performer in the live shows of the internationally popular Hawai`i Calls, a weekly radio program then broadcast from the Moana Hotel on Waikīkī Beach. The colorfully costumed and artfully staged show highlighted Hawaiian music and dance, and appearances by well-known entertainers from night clubs, theatre, and film.
The radio program aired as usual on the evening of December 6, 1941, the night before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other parts of O`ahu. With interruptions in transportation, Carol was not able to return home to Maui for a while. During the war, she sometimes performed hula, while working at a canteen on what was then the U. S. Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
My visits to the home of Auntie Carol began shortly after I arrived in Honolulu in January of 1973. The timing of my arrival in Honolulu coincided with Island celebrations of the ever-popular birthday of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns, for which I had been booked as an entertainer. At a tea sponsored by the Daughters of the British Empire, I met Carol Farias and other people who expressed interest in having their daughters study Scottish Highland Dancing. I soon began teaching Carol’s younger daughter Lorna and one of their neighbors in the Farias home.
Time passed, and I returned to school. In 1983, I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history at the University of Hawai`i. I then undertook graduate studies in American and Asian history while working as a graduate teaching assistant in the World Civilization program of the History Department of the University of Hawai`i. Between 1985 and 1987, I lived in Newport, Rhode Island, where my husband was an instructor at the U. S. Naval Education and Training Center. It is there that I began my professional career as a freelance writer and marketing consultant.
When I returned to the Islands, Carol informed me of the many changes that had occurred in her life. The last of the sisters of Johanna Wilcox (Aunties [Eleanor E. K. Wilcox Carney, Phoebe K. W. Dunn and Mabel K. Wilcox) had moved into her home. This was a time of mixed joys and sorrows for the family, for the last of the Wilcox Sisters and Carol’s beloved husband Freddy had passed by 1990.
After attending a large celebration of Carol’s seventieth birthday, we had a lengthy visit in her home. She expressed a desire to have me help organize the heirlooms and books she had inherited from her elder relatives. I began by analyzing her family records. While researching additional information, I wrote letters (under her name and mine) to locate and verify data about her family.
As Carol said repeatedly, she was most concerned that the heirloom possessions of the Wilcox Sisters be placed where they would be appreciated, so that future generations could learn from their family’s history. Within two years, Carol established a financial aid endowment fund at St. Andrew’s Schools in the name of Eleanor Wilcox Carney, who was a 1909 graduate. Carol also donated most of the Wilcox family library and a few koa furnishings to the school’s Queen Emma Library. My deepest appreciation goes to Carol for the trust she placed in my bringing her stories forth to future audiences. Despite the dated quality of the recordings, I feel that Auntie Carol’s observations are enriching to those of us who can share in her recollections, glimpsing the rainbows that filled many of her days.
INTERVIEW I, October 30, 1992
Hawaiian Quilting in the Maui Wilcox Family
INTERVIEW II, May 5, 1993
A) Trinity Episcopal Church by-the-Sea
B) On the Grounds of the Koa House
INTERVIEW III, May 26, 1993
From Maui to O`ahu
INTERVIEW IV, May 27, 1993
A) John DeLima and Life After Marriage
B) Hawaiian Quilting and Other Handicrafts
INTERVIEW V, July 28, 1993
A) Johanna Wilcox
B) Frances DeLima
INTERVIEW VI, August 5, 1993
Holidays in `Ulu-pala-kua
INTERVIEW VII, November 24th, 1993
B) Planning for the Future
Auntie Carol Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias within an antique painting of Diamond Head.
I encourage everyone to consider the myriad ways in which we can help preserve
the stories of the Aunties who have enriched our lives!
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