It was not until much later that I realized what we had stumbled upon. One of those interesting places that makes Hawaiʻi special. One of those places that is now gone forever. It was a few years ago now, just travelling around the island with my sister-in-law, on island to visit for a week…
Wandering up the street ahead of the gals I saw it. A shop full of fabric is a problem, the bright colors would attract my wife like a bee to flowers. The little shops along main street of Honokaʻa all had colorful window displays designed to attract tourists. I expected there would be delays as the gals wandered in and out of the shops, just to be expected. Among these Nene’s Sewing Corner was definitely a problem. I casually blocked the door as my wife strolled up.
She, of course, realized what I was doing. Despite her attraction to the bolts of cloth, we were hungry and it took little to convince her to move on in the direction of food. Our stop in Honokaʻa was for lunch, not fabric shopping.
On the way back to the car we again wandered past the little shops, this time there was nothing to do but give in to the inevitable and go in.
The shop was a pleasant surprise. The front section was part fabric store, part clothing store. All along the walls were bright aloha shirts displayed. We strike up a conversation with the owner, asking about the shirts. Dr. Paulita is quite the character, we talk as she retrieves a few shirts in my size.
You may note my calling these shirts “aloha” shirts. While the rest of the world may call these bright cotton shirts Hawaiian shirts, here in Hawaiʻi we call them aloha shirts. When combined in an appropriate island style fashion they are aloha wear. Here they are a standard form of dress. I generally wear an aloha shirt in the office, fitting in as everyone else wears them. Suits and ties are worn on only the most formal occasions. Mayor Kenoi giving a press conference? You may note his colorful shirt, probably a Sig Zane design.
Of course I bought a shirt! I love aloha shirts, the chance of adding a special shirt to my collection is not to be passed up. The problem is that Deb is giving me a hard time about my spending money in a shop I tried to keep her out of. She might stop laughing at me about it… someday.
Over the intervening years I stopped by a couple more times, hoping to buy another shirt. The little shop always seemed closed when I passed through town.
Then the shop was gone, I look for it long the block in vain. It was while visiting Honoka’a, again travelling with an off island guest, that I learned that the colorful proprietress of Nene has passed. Talking with other shop owners I get at least a fragment of a the story… The family has closed the shop, the story ends.
I still have that one shirt, one of my favorites. I wear it for special occasions when aloha wear is appropriate. Of course this includes most island events.