Hail to thee, maroon and blue,
Alma mater fair and true . . .
As a proud Baldwin High alumna, I have to say that the Baldwin alma mater is my favorite of all the local school anthems. I have to say that . . . but it's not completely true.
We have come, dear Maui High School, in our days of youth
Here to find our joy and pleasure in the search for truth . . .
As a youngster in mid-60s Maui, I spent many an evening under the Friday night lights. In the grandstand, of course. And what a grand old stand it was! The vast wooden structure at the old Kahului Fairgrounds housed all of the MIL football games, along with horse racing, biddy boxing, demolition derbies, battles of local bands . . . but that's a whole nother column. Today I'm confining my sentimentality to those songs that bring us to our feet - anthems and alma maters, fair and true.
In those days, local families filled the grandstand on autumn weekend nights to cheer on their favorite high school teams. Before I knew the difference between a punt and a pass, I was being bundled up in blankets and carried off to the game by my parents and my aunt and uncle. I remember being handed from lap to lap as the game progressed. Auntie's lap was the best, because she would make Uncle hand over his binoculars and she'd hold them for me to gaze through. With their helmets and pads, the players looked like futuristic robots. I was captivated by the close-up view of these well-oiled machines, exhilarated by the illusion of being there on the field with them. No one was more passionate a fan than Auntie, though, and once while I was perched on her lap, she leapt to her feet at a particularly spectacular catch, dumping me onto the back of the poor guy in front of us.
But let's get back to the music . . . Both of my parents and all of their siblings were Maui High grads. Mom and Auntie Sachan taught me the alma mater before I was old enough for kindergarten. I sang it often, loud and proud, knowing I too would be a Saber someday.
Maui High, we all do praise thee for thy wise and kindly rule.
'Tis with loving hearts we greet thee, our dear island school . . .
While it was almost as much a family anthem as a school song, it wasn't my favorite either.
'O Lahaina, Lahainaluna nani ka hoku hele ho'i o ka Pakipika . . .
The Lahainaluna alma mater was one of the first songs I ever learned, taught to me by my Auntie Sachan, who never attended Lahainaluna but adored the song. Like Auntie, I liked the melody and loved the poetry of the Hawaiian lyrics. I didn't know 'olelo Hawai'i then, but I didn't need to understand the words in order to appreciate the way they sounded.
'O ka Malu 'ulu o Lele (No e ka 'oi)
Na kualono nani e (Ku kilakila)
Sung by the boarders chorus, it seemed more a hymn than an anthem. Auntie had a recording of the chorus that she would play on her big RCA Victor stereo console. We'd sing along merrily, just as we would at the grandstand on Friday and Saturday nights.
Back when the old Fairgrounds housed both the County Fair and the MIL, Lahainaluna and Maui High always squared off on County Fair Friday night. The Fair Game was a long-standing tradition. I liked it because I got to sing both alma maters along with the capacity crowd.
Of course, once I started attending Baldwin, I stopped singing the other school songs in favor of the Bears' anthem.
Mighty sons and daughters we
Loyally serve thee and love thee.
We'll proclaim thee near and far
By then, the old Fairgrounds field had been retired, and we proclaimed our loyalty from the stands of the brand-new War Memorial football stadium. The change of venue was a major improvement for both players and spectators, but I thought we sounded better when we raised our voices in the rickety old wooden grandstand.
My late husband didn't share my fondness for anthems, but he understood it. Songs like that are deliberately crafted to grab your heart, he said. Certain chord progressions and key words in lyrics trigger emotional, even physical response. Since ancient times, religious composers and pop songwriters have manipulated our feelings through music. Being highly analytical, Barry wasn't easily manipulated.
Me, I'd rather embrace it than analyze it. From "God Bless America" to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and the whole "West Side Story" soundtrack, I love singing along to songs that choke me up. Of course, I'm just a sentimental fool.
May the light forever shine . . .
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.