You know, evah since da County went put my face on top da bumpah stickahs—“Listen to Tita . . . No Littah!”—I get people come up to me alla time wit’ questions, suggestions, all kine mana‘o (as’ mean one idea or opinion). Some guys like know when I going come their house and haul away their old icebox, or if I can bring one truckload of titas fo’ pick up rubbish in their neighborhood. Sometimes they call me up fo’ report abandoned cars on da side a da road. But mostly they like know how I went get da job of nagging people fo’ clean up their act.
I guess I went inherit ‘em from my tutu, my grandmuddah. See, in da olden days on Maui, back when Tutu and Pops was helping their kids raise their kids, recycling came natural to all us local families. Not ‘cause we wanted fo’ be politically correct, but ‘cause we no could afford not to! So, Tutu went teach us how fo’ make use of all kine stuffs.
Our unda-wear, shorts, kitchen towels, even curtains was made from empty rice bags. Tin cans was even more useful: Just get liddo bit string and we would make stilts, telephones, noisemakers, any kine toys. Had plenny household uses too, speshly da small tuna cans. They made da bes’ ashtrays, afta you make da dimple on one side fo’ hold da cigarette. Or you take four same kine cans, fill ‘em halfway with water, and set da legs of da pantry or pie safe inside ‘em, fo’ keep da ants away from da food.
Back then, when your car no could run no more, nobody would dare fo’ leave ‘em on da side a da road. No ways! We would put ‘em where they balong—right in our front yard! That way you not messin’ up any public property or scenery. Plus, da more junka-lunka cars in your yard, da less grass you gotta mow. And da bes’ part . . . now you get all kine new stuffs outta da old car!
First you take out da back seat, put ‘em on da porch or unda da mango tree, and now you get one brand new couch or love seat, depending on how big da car was. Lucky if you get bucket seats in da front, you get one matching set chairs, too. Then you take da hubcaps and add ‘em to your new outdoor furniture set as giant size ashtrays, perfect fo’ hold mosquito coils. Or else you hang ‘em on one stick in da backyard vegetable garden fo’ scare away da birds. Next you take off da license plates and da steering wheel and hang ‘em up on da garage wall, kinda like trophies. Tutu always said da bes’ kine art is da kine that get sentimento value, and I guess Tutu was real sentimento about old cars, ‘cause we had ‘nuff steering wheels and license plates fo’ fill up two whole walls from da floor to da ceiling.
Nowadays, you no see dat kine so much. We stay turn into one disposabo society. Me, I like convenience, but I tink sometimes da old ways is best. Like wit’ baby diapers. Da first time I went try da disposabo kine, my baby got diaper rash afta one day. My neighbor said I spose to change da diaper mo’ often, but it said right on da box, twelve to fifteen pounds!
Tita is the pidgin-speaking alter ego of local actress and Mana‘o Radio cofounder/DJ Kathy Collins. Both Tita and Ms. Collins grew up on Maui.