I Remember Dad: The Hawaiian Dollar

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In April of 1946, my dad mailed his father a dollar bill from Hawaii, for his birthday. My grandfather, Watson Mabey, turned 53 on the twenty-second of April of 1946. The dollar bill, that my dad sent to his father, was not an ordinary dollar bill. It was a rather rare Hawaiian dollar bill.


Japan had not yet surrendered. I remember my grandmother often saying that it seemed, at the time, that World War II was never going to end. Her son, Edward, was on a U. S. Navy ship off the British Coast and her son, Richard, was at Hickam Air Field in Hawaii. And, at the time, her son, Carl, was talking of signing up with the U. S. Navy.


I don’t think it was one bit easy for the parents who had sons and daughters in the service during World War II. With each and every sunrise, worry and concern overflowed in their heart centers. I remember Grandma once told me that she prayed, nine or ten times a day, that her two sons would come home safe and unharmed. It was not an easy time at all.


One of the legacies of the Mabey family, centered upon the Hawaiian dollar bill that Dad mailed to Grandpa in 1946. Grandma once told me that Grandpa cried when he opened up his birthday card from Dad. He put the Hawaiian dollar in his wallet. Grandma also once told me that Grandpa would often take that Hawaiian dollar bill out of his wallet and look at it for long periods of time.


Grandpa was a rugged individual. For many years, he worked as the Chief Engineer of Incline Plane Ten East of the infamous Morris Canal. But, there was one thing for sure, Grandpa had a heart of gold. As tough as he was, he was also a very kind and caring man. I remember that Grandpa was a great story teller. I think that I got a lot of my gift for story telling from my grandfather.


On September second of 1945, Japan officially surrendered. But for my dad, destiny called him to stay at Hickam Air Field, for at least one more year.


I don’t know if Dad ever asked his father about the Hawaiian dollar, when he came home from the war. I have a feeling that Dad never did ask his father about it. But my Grandma once told me that Grandpa always kept the Hawaiian dollar bill in his wallet. Only to take out the sacred dollar, when it was just Grandma and him, and look at it for about five minutes or so and then put it back in his wallet.


In May of 1968, I was close to completing my freshman year of high school at Boonton High School. It was a Friday afternoon, the seventeenth of May. I came home from school and my mom told me the sad news. My mom and sister, Patti, were sitting on the side steps, waiting for me. Dad was on his way from work and he was expected home at any minute.


On the afternoon of Tuesday, the twenty-first of May, after all the days of funeral visitation, my grandfather was laid to rest. Everyone came to my house, the old Mabey Homestead, for a fellowship feast. Grandma sat in the easy chair, in the corner of the living room. All of her eight sons and one daughter, sat near her in the living room. My mom and her sister-in-laws prepared a great meal.


I remember this so moment so very well. It was a dear and tender moment. I was 14 years old at the time. Grandma held Grandpa’s wallet. She opened it up. Grandma took out Grandpa’s Hawaiian dollar. She called my dad over to her side.


“Don’t ever spend it son,” were the words Grandma said to Dad as the tears flowed down her cheeks. My dad was so choked up.


“I won’t Mom, believe me, I won’t,” my dad replied.


My dad kept the sacred Hawaiian dollar in his wallet from that day on, till one afternoon in May of 2006. Specifically, on Thursday, on the eleventh of May, at about three o’clock, Dad asked me to hand him his wallet. It was on his bureau. Dad was lying in his bed, I was sitting by his side. My beloved father was suffering with pancreatic cancer.


I remember this moment, it is ingrained in my heart and mind. I handed Dad his wallet. My father opened his wallet, took out the Hawaiian dollar and handed it to me.


“Now, don’t ever spend it, son,” was all my dad said to me has he handed the sacred Hawaiian dollar bill to me. We both cried. The next morning, Dad went Home to be with the Lord.


I so, cherish that precious Hawaiian dollar bill.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.