The First Ohana Blog
8/8/2013 12:00:01 AM by: C.W. Schutter
My dad's childhood buddy grew up to be the "godfather" or "OG" of the first Korean Mafia in Hawaii. Dad called it the Syndicate.
Gambling is not only a part of Asian culture, it's in the blood. My parents had occasional poker games that went on for days at our house. I hated it because the house turned dark, smoky, and smelled like beer. Being the oldest, I was always drafted into baby-sitting. But it was better than being dragged to someone else's house with our futons (comforters) and pillows. Thankfully, that was usually only for one night.
Then one day, it all stopped. It began with my reading a small article buried in the middle pages of the newspaper. It talked about a reputed hit man being gunned down a block from our house. I took the newspaper to my dad and asked him if the man in the article was one of my "uncles." In Hawaii, children are directed to call all the good friends of their parents auntie and uncle.
Dad snatched the paper from me and walked away without a word. After that, all the poker parties stopped.
I wrote a fictionalized version of this story in my book, The Ohana.
Over a decade later, I married a lawyer who represented most of Hawaii's godfathers, or I should say, reputed godfathers, for income tax evasion and slander. My dad's childhood buddy was one of them—interesting twist.
Always fascinated with people's stories, I collected these stories and others of my ancestors and other people I knew in my brain. And out of it, with truth and fiction mixed into my storytelling was birthed the novel, "The Ohana," family in Hawaiian.
Every person who breathes has a story worthy to be told. Sometimes it’s the story of their immigrant ancestor, because every American, including Native Americans, migrated here. Or it could be their own story. Once upon a time, my generation protested everything from the Vietnam War to racism and women's rights. So why is anyone surprised that the gray-hairs are marching as tea partiers?
The Ohana Blog
Paul and Richard Chaul Roong Whang, Kohala, Hawaii plantation, circa 1931