Excerpt

Coming back from a round-the-world cruise, 1939

Did I tell you that when we arrived at Hilo, a troupe of girls came on board and hung leis around everybody’s neck, even in the dining room where I was? The girls were graceful and sweet-looking and wear flower leis of all kinds and flowers tied around their ankles, bare feet, of course.

We got back to the dock before five, and since the boat did not sail until six, I let the others go on board without me and got three girls to pose for me, twenty minutes apiece, and paid each one 25c, and thus got three carbon sketches. They became afraid that I was going to miss my boat, but since my friends knew where I was, I knew I could stay till 5:55 perfectly safely.

One woman said, “You miss your boat, Mama.” There were a dozen grown women selling flower leis all around me. I wanted to paint them but I couldn’t interrupt their business that way. So I talked to them, and soon had them, and the girls, and the wharf hands, and a mixed crowd around me thick, talking and laughing.

One woman put her hand on my shoulder and said, “She miss the boat, she come live with me.” I was sitting on my little folding stool. When I got up they all came around me and each threw a lei over my head till I had thirteen, and they were heavy and full of perfume. They were just as sweet as they could be. The sweetest is the prumelia which smells like a lily, and a strange thing about it is that I kept it for days in perfect condition. One other made of very fragrant flowers (white) continued the same without the edges turning brown or fading, for three days. They do not fade the way our flowers do. They were thick and heavy and must have weighed pounds. I just wore them down to dinner as they were, they were so beautiful.

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