Sounds and Memories

Last week in the Scents and Memories post, @Keoni commented:

Hey Uncle Rodney, since we covered scents this time, how about we follow through with sounds, etc, and go right down the list, sight, touch and stuff? By sounds I don’t mean music, per se, but the sounds of everyday life in Hawai’i. I’m sure we could get quite a few.


It took me a little while to process this – but I’ve come up with a few sounds that I recall from small-kid-time.  This one immediately pops into mind.




The truck that used to come around Kailua side wasn’t so much a manapua van like the one pictured above.  It was a candy/snack truck – a big white utility truck with a speaker like the one in the above picture.  And it would play a loop of an instrumental version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”.  But remember, this was back in small-kid-time and the cassette tape was stretched out over time, so imagine hearing a wobbly, sagging version of the song.  Over and over again.


But the thing is, Henry (IIRC, that was his name) would come around the neighborhood around mid-afternoon – just around when Checkers & Pogo was starting.  I used to have fun with him every once in a while as he passed the house.  From below the window I’d yell out “STOP!”, and he’d stop his truck for about 10 seconds then he’d start rolling along down the street.  Again, I’d yell “STOP!” and again he’d stop and wait and look around for someone.  Then he’d proceed on his way.  I know, not cool.  But that’s how I used to catch my jollies.  LOL


Later when I was older and had my part-time after school job, I’d come home from high school and drop on my bed for a short nap before going to work.  And I’d hear the familiar tune of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” as I was somewhere between consciousness and sleeping.  I’d be so tired and the bed felt so soothing that hearing that tune was like a lullaby to me.


Which leads me to another sound that I used to hear:


Mailman Truck


Yup, the mailman truck.  Again, as I was crashing on the soft bed during the warm afternoon heat, I could hear the mailman truck going around the next block behind our house.  The specific sound that I used to hear was actually the foot brake of the mail truck.  When the mailman would release his foot off of the brake, it had a little bouncing sound of the pedal against the floor or something.  But just hearing that sound over and over again, while my eyes were slowly rolling back into my head as I was drifting off into la-la land – is one of the sounds that I remember.  If I was to hear it now, it would immediately take me back into my old bedroom, on a sunny afternoon, lying on my bed, and drifting away…


Remember, Kailua used to be country.  At night, it was so quiet.  Some nights – or more like early morning – as I was falling asleep, I could actually hear the waves lapping the shore from Kailua bay.  What made it so amazing was that our house was a good mile away from the beach.  But it was so quiet that I could hear the ocean from a mile away.  And every so often when someone opened the doors to Fast Eddies nightclub in Kailua town, I could hear the dance music for about three or four seconds until the door shut again.


Here’s a sound that really takes me back.  Our house in Kailua was right next to the Kawainui marsh.  Way across the marsh was the Kapaa rock quarry, back when the Kailua Dump used to be there.  And the big HC&D trucks used to haul rock and stuff until late at night.  When I used to have to go to bed, every so often I could hear the trucks from way across the marsh.  The sound that I’d hear is the trucks Engine Braking or Jake Braking.  It sounded like this:



As noisy as it may sound, it was actually quite peaceful to me.  Because it reminded me of when I was in a nice warm bed, relaxed and ready to close my eyes and sleep.  And unlike in the video, the sound was very distant and rather calming.


Wow @Keoni – all the sounds I came up with have to do with sleep.


What kind of sounds do you remember?  Just as the smell of certain scents take you back to an exact time or place, what sounds might do the same to you?  The sound of a school bell ringing?  The sound of coconut fronds slapping against one another?  The sound of a wind chime?  The pau hana whistle at the cannery?  The sound of an electric saw cutting wood?  The sound of the janitor’s mop pail rattling down the lanai?  Share your sound memories with us.


Thanks again for the blog topic, @Keoni.

58 Responses to “Sounds and Memories”

  1. mows says:

    Got one for you Mark Shelby. Wigwam in Aiea shopping center in the back by the bicycle stuff you could hear thunder. Was actually the bowling balls rolling down the alley from Aiea Bowl upstairs.

  2. Mark Shelby says:

    Do you remember the sounds of the old green Honolulu buses as you walked up the steps and dropped in your dime in the cling clang thing, in the 1960’s? This also falls under “Smells”…… ; )

  3. sally says:

    What does this make you think of?

  4. Rodney says:

    I only know suk-suk. 😀

  5. 4G says:

    Ah sooo . . . . LOL

    Thanks! 🙂

  6. Seawalker says:

    @4G – Without looking it up, think it’s something you call your elders. It’s comparable to “uncle” and “aunty” in Hawaii. So if you ran into someone in Chinatown and did not know them, you would address him as Ah Sook. “Ah Sook, gimme won pound char siu, please.” Not to be confused with, “eh Bruddah, that place got good wahine to make sook-sook.” LOL

  7. 4G says:

    Thanks, @Seawalker.

    But, do you know how come all the manapua men seem to have been called “Ah Sook”?

  8. Seawalker says:

    @4G – Right up my alley, man. So the Seawalker theory goes, when the Chinese immigrants first arrived, they could not pronounce their own names to the immigrant officials. Everything came out, “Ah Fook, Ah You, Ah Po, Ah Gung, and i.e. Ah Suk”. So instead of Fook, You, Po, Gung and Suk, the immigrant officials stuck in the “Ah”. Do you know why pakes make good boxers? Cause their fists are always closed when it comes to money. LOL

  9. 4G says:

    In the pic of the VW Bus (manapua truck), the sign says, “No. 1 – Ah Suk”.

    Anyone know the significance of, or what “Ah Sook” (Ah Suk) means? In intermediate school, I thought that was the name of the manapua man, but it seems to be more generic than that?

  10. keoni says:

    @losthawaiian. That sounds good! (pun intended) 😉

  11. losthawaiian says:

    @Keoni, speaking of rain. How about the rains hitting a totung roof. Perfect sounds for a lazy nap with the smell of the rain mixed with a mosquito punk in the air.

  12. keoni says:

    @hbh some cray videos there! BTW, I’m doing OK and Wai’anae side hasn’t changed all that much in the last 30 years. But Ewa area and Kapolei sure has – choke people, choke houses, choke eryting!

  13. Seawalker says:

    The sounds of disco music in the nightclubs along with the sights of the disco ball.

  14. Seawalker says:

    Crickets beating their wings like mad on a hot a humid night. Geckos doing their mating calls or when they have too much gula-gulas in their throats.

  15. Seawalker says:

    Birds in the morning and I remember back then, birds in the evening ready to settle in for the night.

  16. Seawalker says:

    Close proximity of the Makiki apartments. Sounds of oohing and aahing. At least it was male and female, and not 2 guys. What the pho?

  17. Seawalker says:

    Ironwood trees in our backyard. Just like the ones at Kapiolani Park. When the wind blows, it makes this nice wisping and soothing sound.

  18. Mark'75 says:

    @AnkleBYTERS: Yep, can recall Les Keiter on the radio going, “…back, back, back, BOOM, off the wall…”

  19. AnkleBYTERS says:

    @Mark’75 – The Islanders, listening to the away games that were recreated….fake fan noise and cheers, the bat hitting the ball….good memories….

  20. DIO says:

    Double clutch or float ’em.

  21. 4G says:

    Double clutch

  22. DIO says:

    Whoa, never thought I’d see anyone mention a Jake Brake on this blog. 😀 That sound reminds me so much of high school. Cummins engine, 10 gears, and a Jake Brake.

  23. PA says:

    @MS forgot that one staying overnight at a friends house or sleeping in my car @ ke nui on the ns hearing and feeling the muffled whump on a rising swell and never sleeping because you knew you would have to go out

  24. dihudfan says:

    hearing the old chinese man walking down the street… manapua… pepeau..
    hearing the music of the ice cream truck coming up the street…
    hearing the sound of an airplane driving ovah the bridge in Lake Wilson, Wahiawa…
    hearing the burgle while they raised and lowered the flag at school…

  25. Mark Shelby says:

    I loved listening to the waves crash on Black Point while laying in my bed trying to go to sleep on da big south shore Summer wave days!

  26. Mark Shelby says:

    Here is a sound you may not think of.

    I went to church on Judd Street since little kid time in the 1950’s. It was First Church of the Nazarene.

    Just toward Diamond Head on Judd was the Buddhist Temple that was on the corner of Nuuanu and Judd.

    Every Sunday morning during our service that started at 10am. , and especially when the wind was blowing jus right, we could hear the pounding drums and ringing clanging from the Buddhist Temple.

    Every Sunday morning while listening to a Christian service, I always felt very uncomfortable listening to Buddhist traditions at the same time.

    Thump Thump Clang! Thump Thump Clang!

    People can believe what they want I don’t care. For me, it was just an odd thing to have to deal with every Sunday morning.

  27. Mark'75 says:

    Elementary school time, we had to stand when the last bell rang and listened to this song while the flags were lowered. Then…PAU SCHOOL!

  28. Mark'75 says:

    I miss the lady who gave out samples at Costco who’d loudly say, “…it’s soooo delicious, it’d make you want to go… YEEE HAAA!”

  29. Mark'75 says:

    Watching Hawaii Islander baseball at Honolulu Stadium and the organist playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch.

    Playing intros to Hawaii batters before they step up to the plate. Or playing “chukka chukka chukka” when the umpire bent down to sweep home plate.

  30. MannyH says:

    My father enjoyed older music (40’s) so as a youth I would grow to love the acerbic wit of J. Akuhead Pupule on KGMB radio. The sound of the station jingle, “On the coconut wireless, TUK TUK TUK TUK (sound effects), on the coconut wireless, TUK TUK TUK TUK, of wonderful KGMB……” and the “BAK BAK BAK BAK….CHICKENMAN……” always brought a smile to my little kid lips.

  31. Hbh says:


    Wai’anae side got to be nice to still kinda experience the old local hawaii culture living on that side of island?

  32. Hbh says:

    Lol heres one for both MLC Hawaii Test and for sounds to remember. Im reminded of kaka’ako in the 70s when i hear a bunch of stray cats meowing for food. Because if anyone remembers when the streets flooded you would see all the stray cats huddled together on high dry ground in packs. Its really an eye opening experience.

  33. Hbh says:


    E’ Aloha kaua, O’Pehea ʻoe pono anakala keoni?

    I love rain like this once in awhile and miss it in oahu.

  34. keoni says:

    Speaking of rain, I think of the many named rains of Hawai’i. Kipu’upu’u at Waimea on the Big Island, Po’ai Hale in Honolulu, and Ka Ua Loku at Hanalei.

  35. keoni says:

    I also love the sound of the ocean waves hitting the shore when the surf’s up. Boom! Boom! 😀

  36. keoni says:

    We just had a downpour here in Nanakuli. I love the sound of hard rain like that and hear more of it here than I ever did on the East coast.

  37. keoni says:

    @hbh I live Wai’anae side, but didn’t grow up there. Auwe, my loss! 🙁

  38. keoni says:

    Eh Ankles, I remember that ding ding sound! Haven’t thought of it in ages!

  39. PA says:

    lex brodie thank you very much roosters in the morning cooing of doves the coconut wireless sig on kgmb radio go speed racer
    intro hilo hattie does the hilo hop ad @mark ellis i forgot about
    when they tore up mokapu in the seventies and the pile driver
    after they were done i had to get a new front end for my squareback the best was laying in bed at nite hearing marines drag race down mokapu and hearing squeeling of brakes and waiting for the crash at the light @ n. kalaheo jumping outta bed
    onto to my bike to see the carnage

  40. AnkleBYTERS says:

    Pop, snap and crack when playing vinyl records….

  41. 4G says:

    The sound of a campfire. The chirp of crickets. I really miss the darkness of the sky at night and the ability to see the stars, the Milky Way.

    The sound of silence . . . .

    The comforting feeling of sleeping in your own bed, especially after a long trip.

  42. Kage says:

    Dad installed a long spring on our front screen door to make sure it closed all the way. Every time I hear the sound of a spring stretching and contracting it reminds me of the door.

  43. Kage says:

    The sound of chickens fluttering in a large coop takes me back to small kid time. Grew up close to the Egg Farm in Wahiawa.

  44. AnkleBYTERS says:

    Hearing this song always brings me right back to the mid 60’s, living on an army base, the GIs would constantly play this at the base swimming pool..
    The Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself

  45. AnkleBYTERS says:

    “Breaker 1-9″….during the CB craze in the mid 70s…

  46. AnkleBYTERS says:

    The sound of *ding* *ding* when a car drove over the rubber hose as they pulled next to the gas pump to fill up while working at Phillip 66 in Kaneohe….

  47. sally says:

    Our ice cream man road a thing with a sidecar type freezer with the ice cream. He used a simple bicycle bell we could hear 2 blocks away.

    But funny how we couldn’t hear mom yelling for us to come home from down the street at the neighbor’s house LOL.

  48. Hbh says:

    Wats up wit all da Kailua kama’aina on here, so many? Anyone from aiea, waipahu or other areas?

    I remember the soft sound of running water from the koi fish ponds of the IMP, the old Ala Mo Center and the pagoda hotel. Its a soothing sound. Even some of the waterfountains in honolulu have the same sound and effect. Overall with the exception of new hawaii state bird(mlc hawaii test) during the 70s i would say our home was fairly quiet. I could go on but im working on my portagee mouth 😉 (talk to much)

  49. Hbh says:

    I remember the sound of the trade winds blowing thru the tall palm trees or other trees in honolulu and reminds me of home.

  50. Hbh says:

    I remember the sounds of the birds and animals of Kapiolani Park and the Zoo that remind me of when i lived on kapahulu blvd. Remember often the the zoo back in small kid time used to let the peacocks and other small birds run free in the park area.

  51. Mark Ellis says:

    At the intersection of Mokapu Blvd and the main highway in Kailua, they were doing a lot of road building from 63-68. There was an hydraulic jack-hammer type thing that would pound metal sheets down into the ground. Thing would pound all afternoon.

    The rotors of the shark-watch helicopter coming down the shoreline.

    The chirping of a certain kind of lizard that lived in our house.

  52. 4G says:

    The sound of the ice cream truck and his tired song and sad speaker system.

    A disturbing sound was when someone slaughtered a pig – they must have drained the blood on that poor animal because it would squeal for quite a while . . . . 🙁

  53. losthawaiian says:

    One last one. How about ” One of the good things, about Hawaii, is K-G-M-B”

  54. losthawaiian says:

    The ‘Let’s go fishing’ theme with Bruce Carter talking about drinking a cold Oly after a long day of fishing.

  55. losthawaiian says:

    The Salvation army kettle bell ringers at Christmas time at Ala Mo and downtown Fort street mall.

  56. losthawaiian says:

    Lippy Espinda on TV selling cars. Aloha motors. “Hele on Braddah”.

  57. losthawaiian says:

    The sounds I remember are hearing the screeching tires from the Bus stopping at the mauka side of Ala Moana center and the distinct off-tone bell ‘tink’, when you pulled the cable to let the driver know when to stop. How about the people selling “Hot dogs, peanuts, chips, coke inside the old Honolulu stadium.” Get your line-up’s, Hea!”

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