Okimoto remembers there being a dorm mother, Sister Enos, who would cook for the students who were living in the boy’s dorm, which was on a nearby street. She said she would even teach others, especially the cooks in the cafeteria and other dorm mothers, how to make the meals.
She made stew, spaghetti, hamburgers and stir fry. “She’s a good cook so she can fix anything,” she said.
Riley Moffat, retired BYUH geography professor and senior librarian, also knew Sister Enos. He said, “‘Mom’ Enos, as she was known by all, was a wonderful lady. I was able to be her bishop during her last years. I wish they would name the new dining facility after her: ‘Emily’s Place’ or ‘Mom Enos’ Place.’ She was like an institution here for about twenty years.”
Okimoto said Sister Enos was also a talented musician. “Mom Enos played the piano really well, and so they had a dance … and she played the piano and some other instruments.”
The photo to the left, provided by BYUH Archives, is a page from the Na Ha Pomo, the school's yearbook. This page from the 1956 edition features 'Mom Enos.'
There was a store close to the Lanihuli House that had a big fountain in the front, she said, where you could order ice cream. She also remembers a post office near the store, another building for Sunday school, and one with benches outside where they could watch movies or spend time with other students.
The modern location of the store Okimoto referred to. Photo by Mark Daeson Tabbilos.
Okimoto described how the boy’s dorm was on a nearby street.
The students used to enjoy field games on the grassy area near the boy’s dorm house. Okimoto said it was mostly the boys that participated at that time, and they would play basketball and volleyball, with tennis coming later on. “We were so active,” Okimoto said of her and her classmates.
The boys dorm. Photo provided by BYUH Archives.
It had a concrete slab out in the front they often used for school activities like dances, such as a preference ball where the girls asked the guys, she said. They also enjoyed Halloween parties, crab hunts and movie nights. She remembers that area being decorated for the activities.
Documentation of one such preference ball in the 1956 yearbook Na Ha Pono. Photo provided by BYUH Arhives.
Additionally, she said the community would occasionally throw out fishing nets and see if there was any fish for the tourists, but they would only occasionally have fish.
“We also had some fun luaus and parties in Laie while we were there.” Okimoto said these luaus, which were fundraisers, were in a green building by Hukilau beach and were the beginning of the Polynesian Cultural Center. She said these parties were attended by community members, tourists and students. They sold plate lunches, pounded poi and had singers and hula dancers put on shows.
Hukilau beach today, where these events occurred back in 1955. Photo by Mark Daeson Tabbilos.
“We even sang for the Church College of Hawaii,” Okimoto recalled. “We had a choir, and we sang at the [Honolulu] tabernacle in town. It was kind of fun because from the country you go into the city.” She said they would travel to different places to sing.
The CCH choir in the 1956 yearbook. Photo provided by BYUH Archives.
Okimoto said there was a variety of classes offered at CCH, such as business, psychology, music, choir, math and physical science.
She recalled a friend of hers talking of how the students tried to make a C behind the school, similar to the Y on the mountain at BYU in Provo, but she is not sure exactly where it was or if it is still visible.
Moffat said this white block letter C was located “on the hillside to the south toward Hauula.” He said several years later, around 1970, some students turned the letter into a peace sign and the hillside where it is located used to be a good place for sliding on ti leaves after a rainstorm.
Looking to the temple
While Okimoto attended CCH, she lived in the girl’s dormitory called the Lanihuli House. One of her most cherished memories of living there was when she could see the temple as she walked up to the dorm. “It was so beautiful because the temple would always be lit up. … Living in the shadows of the temple was so inspiring.
“Somehow you feel closer to the Lord being so close to His house, His temple.”
She advised current BYUH students to stay strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ and said attending a church college offers great opportunity to increase spirituality. “That’s what’s going to build your foundation.”
She said living near the temple helped her feel the Holy Ghost more in her life as she looked forward to going to and getting married there.
Additionally, Okimito said the education she received at CCH helped prepare her for her future as a teacher because she had the opportunity to meet students from different places around the world, including the different islands in Hawaii. She said this interaction helped lay “a good foundation” for her and her classmates to be able to graduate and then go on to serve others.
Describing her experience as the first group to attend CCH, Okimoto said, “It was in the pioneer days. It was growing pains.” One of the biggest signs of these growing pains was that campus was composed of temporary buildings called portables.
Okimoto said the biggest difference between CCH and BYUH today is the temporary buildings became permanent structures, which allowed a much larger enrollment. She said later on they also built dorms down by the new college buildings to accommodate more students, most likely freshman, while the upperclassmen stayed in the Lanihuli House.
She said these growing pains also came in the form of frequent flooding of campus. Okimoto said, “When it rained a lot, we got flooded. We had to walk in the water to get up the stairs into the building. When it floods, we have to be very careful [and] carry our shoes or lift our clothing to walk around.
“Sometimes the water would go up to the third step, there was maybe five steps, and then school was called off because of the flooding. And then the boys would come with their body board or little surfboard or boogie board, and they would go floating around because it’s flooded in that area.”
She said the Lanihuli House was located on a corner close to a chapel, which was in the back leading towards the temple. There is a faculty home now on the site of the old house. From the inside of the house, the roof was very high. She described the house as big and round. The inside of the Lanihuli House had four bedrooms. The bedroom Okimoto slept in was “a bigger room with several beds and a lot of people.” She said despite there being about four girls per bedroom, living there did not feel crowded. She said there were people from both the mainland and from the Hawaiian Islands.
She now resides in Kaneohe with her husband. She has three children, two sons and a daughter. One of her sons has three children, all boys, and the other has four children. Her daughter, who unfortunately passed away in 2007 while giving birth to her last child, has seven children. The Okimoto’s have 14 grandchildren who live throughout Hawaii and the mainland.
Mark Daeson Tabbilos BYU–Hawaii Archives