The little menehune that sit upon my shelf,
smiling up at me trying to remind me to laugh at my self.
They used to sit among the clowns,
always calling me to get them down.
Smiling big with a crinkle near their eyes,
They remind me of better days and always sunny skies.
Across the great Pacific to our tiny town,
so exotic I never wanted to put them down.
A tchotchke to some, but a memory I will always treasure.
You see they belonged to my grandmother and will forever bring me pleasure.
These are my Menehune, they were given to me by my grandmother a dozen or so years ago when she was cleaning out her house during a move or while redecorating, I can’t quite remember. She had had them for as long as I can remember, getting them on a trip to Hawaii sometime in the 60’s. They always sat on a bookshelf in her living room at the “farm” and I was fascinated by them as a child and loved to take them down from the shelf, play with them like dolls and rub their shiny bellies and smile at their big grins.
My grandmother would sometimes tell me funny stories about them or tease me that they were watching me and I better be good. My grandmother always loved clowns too for some reason, I don’t know why, and these reminded me of some of the clowns she had around her home.
My grandmother always told me they were carved out of Lava Rocks and I never questioned that answer. But today I took a closer look and they do have a marking on the side of the little woman “Made in Hawaii with Lava by C0 C0 Joe No. 289” The little man has no markings. I am guessing by the markings on the bottom that maybe it was melted lava rocks poured into molds? I’m not sure, but I found a pair very close to mine on eBay listed for $119.
I went in search of some more information about the little figurines and found some interesting information about the legend of the Menehune. From the ToHawaii.com travel site it talks about the legend of the Menehune;
“Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favorite foods were bananas and fish.
The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.”
“This fishpond is said to have been built in just one night by the menehune, the mythical little people of Kauai. The menehune were master craftsmen who could accomplish amazing deeds in very little time. They used to live in the island’s forests and hid from humans, so during one night they came out and built the fishpond. They did this by lining up from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles (40 km) away, passing stones hand-by-hand.
The fishpond is located next to the Hulei’a Stream. A lava rock wall between the pond and the stream is 900 feet (274 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) high, which is amazing considering the fact that archaeologists estimate that the fishpond is around 1,000 years old. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.”
And this is a fun little fact if you believe the legend or even if you don’t:
“Even though the Menehune were said to be displaced when the first settlers arrived in Hawaii, some people still believe that the Menehune are roaming the islands, carrying out tricks on people. Indeed, an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as ‘Menehune.‘”
I have my doubts about the legends, but I will always smile and think fondly of my sweet grandmother whenever I look upon my little Menehune.
Do you have any cool travel treasure or fun family heirlooms?
I was lucky enough to have 4 amazing women in my life, both of my parents mothers and two of my parents grandmothers(besides my mother of course) that helped make me the woman I am today. I learned many things from each of the women;
From my great-grandmother Kate (my mother’s grandmother) I gained an appreciation for music and dancing from watching hours of the Lawrence Welk show with her in her big white leather recliner. My first memory of being empathetic to someone comes from her as well. I was spending the night with her and she was up on the end of the bed coughing, I got up and put my bathrobe around her shoulders and patted her back. I was maybe 4 at the time.
From my great-grandmother Anne (my dads grandmother) who I unfortunately knew for the shortest period of time I gained a love of shortbread cookies, admiration for hard work(she worked in our families plumbing business until well into her 80’s) and a giggle inside whenever I hear someone refer to a child as a wee one, because she always laughed and smiled when her wee ones visited her at her home or in later years in the rest home.
From my grandmother Jean (my dad’s mom), who was one of the most elegant and beautiful women I have ever met; I learned to play chinese checkers, love green peppers and received my first bottle of perfume(Charlie by Revlon).
From my grandmother Buddy (my mom’s mom) who I was so lucky to have in my life the longest I learned; to play Gin Rummy and Cribbage, to pour a drink, to make potato salad and love blue cheese. I flew on my first airplane with her and my rode on my first train. She helped me with my golf game, worried about my love life and always rode my ass about things I was doing wrong.
I really wish I could ask them so many questions, but here are ten I would love ask:
1.) What brought you the most joy in life?
2.) Who was the love of your life?
3.) What regrets do you have if any?
4.) When and where were you the happiest?
5.) What did you enjoy most and least about your occupations? (All of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had jobs outside the home at one time or another)
6.) What advice would you give me now to live a happier and fuller life?
7.) What would you tell me to quit worrying about?
8.) Who was your first boyfriend, your first lover, your first kiss?
9.) How do you make this dish? (each of them had a specialty and unfortunately I only have a couple of the recipes)
10.) What part of you do you see in me?
If you have special people in your life, ask the questions now don’t wait until it’s too late.
If you have lost someone special in your life, are there questions you wish you had asked?