Harold Crawford |  John Gerard | Hans L'Orange | Henry Maguire
Manuel Nobriga | Raymond Moniz | Blackie Vasconcellos | Cecil Whiteman

Graphic: back to OSCO IndexOahu Sugar Company Memories

by Jack Vorfeld

Manuel Nobriga   
Manuel Nobriga was a good friend. In the early 1930's, when I started working for OSCO, I was put into the Machine Shop to learn to be a machinist. Manuel was one of the top machinists in the shop, and he was very helpful to my learning.

Later, after several promotions, I became Milling Superintendent. We needed a shift Milling Engineer to fill the position that I had vacated. I chose Manuel, and it was a good choice.

He was outstanding in the job and contributed greatly to my success in my new position. He was strongly committed to the best possible operation of OSCO, and while he may have seemed hard on others, he was no harder on himself. He simply had very high standards. I'm proud that he was my friend.

John Gerard
When I began working for OSCO in November, 1931, John Gerard was a machinist in the Machine Shop. In 1932 I began training as a machinist, and John taught me a great deal that was valuable.

When Maxine and I married in 1933 the plantation didn't have any vacant houses, so they rented us a house on Pearl City Peninsula. We found ourselves close to the Gerards, and John kindly let me ride with him to and from work. We became close friends.

Shortly after the end of WWII, John was promoted to Shift Engineer. I was, by then, Night Engineer, and the two of us worked the 2-10 and 10-6 shift for a while. When Clarence Girvin, Milling Engineer who worked the 6-2 shift only, died, I was promoted to fill his position.

John Gerard, Manuel Nobriga, and Bob Crichton worked the three shifts 6-2, 2-10, and 10-6, shifting every two weeks. About that time, John was given a house on the plantation, near the mill.

I enjoyed working with John Gerard until he retired, and missed him after he was gone. He was well-liked by everyone on the plantation, never spoke unkindly of others, and was a good friend.

Here's a photo of the Gerard family taken at their August 2000 Family and Friends Reunion

Harold Crawford
Harold Crawford started working for Oahu Sugar Co. a year or two before I did. He worked in the field area, and his father, Frank, was our Machine Shop Foreman.

Later, OSCO promoted Harold to Industrial Relations Supt., a new area that he helped form. We were good friends. He helped me a great deal when OSCO became unionized and problems arose in my department.

The Crawford family lived for a time on the plantation. He was a pleasant man: tall, quiet, and very intelligent.

Raymond Moniz
One of the most outgoing, happy people I knew at Oahu Sugar Co. was Raymond Moniz. A locomotive driver, Raymond reflected good cheer to everyone on the plantation. Very large, and well over six feet tall, he'd burst into the mill, and headed right for me, saying, "Hey, Boy, give me change!" I had the key for the cash box. He'd always get five Coca Cola bottles from the soda pop machine, line them up, then drink them without stopping.

People loved to play jokes on Raymond, who was a very good worker. One day some of the brakemen and firemen found a bunch of large, lush bananas. When they got back to the plant, they bet Raymond he couldn’t eat a hand (about 20 bananas—whatever was on the tree in a bunch) at one time.

"No problem," laughed Raymond.

We waited for the hand to ripen, and finally the day came when Raymond had to prove his eating capacity. He didn’t show up at the appointed time, but fifteen minutes later he sauntered into the room.

"Raymond, where you been?" we asked.

"I went get a bowl of saimin. You think I want eat those bananas on an empty stomach?"

With that, Raymond strode over to the table, pulled off, peeled and ate every last one of them!

Harold Crawford |  John Gerard | Hans L'Orange | Henry Maguire
Manuel Nobriga | Raymond Moniz | Blackie Vasconcellos | Cecil Whiteman

Blackie Vasconcellos
Blackie VasoncellosErnest (Blackie) Vasconcellos, along with his wife, Madeline, owned and operated Tropical Welding in Honolulu for many years. Their two sons were also a part of the operation. I met Blackie in the early 1960’s. He had been working with a man from Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) to develop a seed cutter for the plantation. (We referred to stalks of year-old sugar cane as seed; these stalks were about 18 long.) Blackie was a mechanical genius. He brought the seed cutter out, we put it in a field, and began cutting seed. It took a couple of months to get all the bugs worked out, but was well worth the time. It was a potent labor-saving device. One time he built a pineapple planting machine to be used on Molokai. He invited me to go along to watch the initial operation. Good fun.

Madeline worked in their office, and often came along with Blackie when we went out to lunch. One of our favorite haunts was Pearl City Tavern. Blackie was a good-natured man with a great sense of humor. We had many good times together. He passed away some years ago, but we keep in touch with Madeline.

Cecil Whiteman
One Thanksgiving when Max and I lived in Honolulu, I had to leave for the plantation to begin working a 3 pm shift. Saturated with good food, I jumped in my car and rushed toward Waipahu. A patrolman stopped me and gave me a ticket for speeding. By the time I got to OSCO, I was grumbling about having to work on Thanksgiving.

Cecil Whiteman pulled me aside and said, "Now look here, young fellow, you came here asking for work. Now that you have it, I don’t want to hear you complaining!"

Hans L'Orange
When I started working at Oahu Sugar Company in 1931, Hans was the Field Superintendent. In 1936 I was working as a machinist in the Machine Shop. Oscar Myhre, the Night Engineer, died, and our manager, E.W. Green, was in Washington D.C. Hans was Acting Manager.

L'Orange wanted to promote me to Night Engineer, but had to get the "okay" from Mr. Green. Once this was done, I started in my new position. Not long after, the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) took Green away from OSCO. They wanted him to be a lobbyist for them in Washington D.C.

Hans became Manager. I always said that he and I started in more responsible jobs about the same time. We became very good friends.

One day we were having quite a problem in the factory. In fact, it was shut down. A group of us, including Sugar Boiler Bromley and Factory Supt. Johnston were energetically trying to find the source of the problem: loss of vacuum in the boiling operation.

Hans came over and started complaining to me. I didn't appreciate his complaining, since we were doing out best to find and fix the problem, and I told him so. As he left the factory, I wondered if he would fire me for the way I talked to him.

After the problem was solved and everything was running smoothly, I went over to his office and apologized for speaking to him as I did. Hans smiled and said, "Oh, that's okay, Jack. It's good to blow off steam once in a while. Forget it."

Another time our kitchen stove broke down, and I decided to walk to the Plantation Store on Waipahu St. to look at new stoves. I met Hans along the way. He wanted to know what I was doing. I explained that I was thinking about buying a new stove because ours was broken, and he said, "Go ahead and buy it, Jack. You’re getting a raise this month."

Hans loved throwing parties in his home. He was a great supporter of the U.S. Navy, and during WWII he often entertained Navy officers. He also occasionally invited OSCO supervisors to join them. I met Admiral Chester Nimitz and other ranking officers at some of these parties.

Shortly after the war, I was promoted to Milling Engineer. The year OSCO had its biggest crop 81,000 tons L’Orange decided to slaughter two plantation Black Angus and a pig and throw a barbeque for all the plantation employees and their families. I helped design and create three motorized spits for the beef and pork, and also supervised all the cooking Great party!

Hans loved sports, and opened an area up on the plantation so employees could have a place to participate in various athletic events.

Mrs. L'Orange (Mellie) was also a good friend. She was a lovely lady and we all loved her.

Henry Maguire
Henry was born February 28, 1912, and I was born a day later. We met when we were attending St. Louis College (high school), and graduated together in 1930. An outstanding businessman, Henry founded Maguire Bearing. He was a crack manufacturer and salesman, and did a great deal of business with OSCO.

Subsequently Oahu Sugar Company bought most of its bearings from them. In our younger years, he and I collaborated to change the factory's shredders from babbit bearings to anti-friction bearings. OSCO was the first plantation in Hawaii to have shredders with anti-friction bearings.

In later years Henry and his wife, Tita, and Maxine and I often celebrated our birthdays together. Even later, after Maxine's death and my marriage to Judy, we continued to celebrate birthdays. Henry visited Arizona a few times before his death.

Photo orange hibiscus

Copyright Judy Vorfeld.
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