At the ahupua‘a of Kamananui at Wahiawa are the remains of what McAllister describes as “the longest irrigation ditch of which there is any memory” among modern Hawaiians.
Rice cultivation, extension of the railroad system toward Waialua and the development of commercial sugarcane cultivation with the rise of the Waialua Agricultural Company (later named the Waialua Sugar Company) dramatically altered the landscape of Kamananui Ahupua‘a during the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
Kemo‘o is an ili (land division smaller than an ahupua‘a) of Kamananui. These lands were further modified during the early twentieth century through the development of a military post (Schofield Barracks,) sugar cane cultivation (Kemo‘o Land Company,) a piggery and dairy operation (Kemo‘o Farm) and the pineapple industry with its plantation settlements (Kemo‘o Camp) further re-shaped the landscape surrounding the project area. (Cultural Surveys)
Kemo’o Land Company, Ltd was started in 1910 by ED Tenney, Charles H Atherton, WW Goodale, TH Petrie and JR Gait “to carry on the business of agriculture, manufacturing and mercantile pursuits (generally, operation of mills, sugar works, irrigation systems and railroads.) (Hawaiian Star, May 24, 1907)
Kemo‘o Camp was housing for pineapple workers; it opened sometime before 1920 for Hawaiian Pineapple workers and their families. It closed when the plantation built new homes in Whitmore Village. (Star Bulletin)
In 1914, Percy Martyn Pond started the Kemo‘o Farm for the “conservation of table refuse from Schofield Barracks by the production of pork and eggs.” (Nellist)
“The Kemo‘o farm, located near Schofield Barracks, Oahu, has a swine herd numbering 1,460 animals, 250 of which are brood sows of high grade and 10 are pure-bred Duroc-Jersey and Berkshire boars. Each sow on this farm farrows, on the average, 3 litters in two years and raises 5 or 6 pigs per annum.”
“Eighty cans containing about 300 pounds of garbage each are daily hauled from the military posts to the Kemo’o farm. In 1915 the Kemo‘o farm sold 365 garbage-fed hogs … In 1918 the sales increased to 1,686 head …”
“Kemo‘o farm, where swine raising constitutes the main and a highly specialized line of farming, with dairying and poultry raising ranking next in importance.” (CTAHR, 1923)
In 1920, a young soldier named Leo B Rodby, a newcomer to Hawai‘i, took a part-time job at the farm. In 1930, he bought the controlling interest in the corporation. A year later, he and his wife, Carita Fisher Rodby, had a son named Richard H (Dick) Rodby.
The farm was discontinued in 1934. The next year, a dining room overlooking the lake was opened, prompting long lines of soldiers eager for one of their sizzling steaks. During World War II, even the generals stood in line.
Dick graduated from Leilehua High School in 1948. After graduation, he served in the army and had his basic training at Schofield.
From there he attended Woodbury College in Los Angeles to become an accountant. After graduating from Woodbury Business College and San Francisco Hotel and Restaurant College, he went to work at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel.
He was first in the accounting department, but then transferred into Food and Beverage and worked his way up the ladder becoming Executive Assistant General Manager for the property.
In 1953, Leo passed away. His mother called and said he was needed back home to run Kemo‘o Farm Restaurant. Dick became the president of Kemo‘o Farm in 1958. (Kemo‘o Pub)
In 1953, From Here to Eternity came out; it is about the peacetime Army on O‘ahu and culminating with the Japanese surprise attack (it’s one of only two Pacific movies to win Academy Awards for Best Picture (the other film is Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935.)
The movie used the restaurant (named Choy’s in the novel and film – after Kemo‘o’s chef;) where the fight scene takes place in the movie and where the novel opens.
Dick was delivered by Dr Arthur Davis who was the Waialua Plantation doctor and father to Charles KL and Francis Davis. He knew Charles KL Davis well from growing up in Waialua.
When Davis returned from the mainland they got together which led to nearly a 12 year run at Kemo’o Farm of music, fun and a whole new venue for Kemo’o Farm.
Big Wednesday buffet lunch shows were selling out weeks in advance of up to 150-180 people per show, weekend nights were packed. Dad started adding guests to the show with Charles with all the local Hawaiian entertainers. (Borthwick)
The family sold Kemo‘o Farm in 1992 and concentrated on the Happy Cakes until 2002 when they sold the company to Owen O’Callaghan.
Today, there are three different bars to choose from at the Kemo’o Farms Pub and Grill: The Pub, Lakeside Lanai or The Barn. (Lots of information here is from Borthwick, Happy Cake, Star Advertiser and Washington Post.)
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