Meet Reginald Kehehikukapaaokahinowa Lindsey, a proud kanaka maoli who wants to make sure that the art of using an imu to Kalua pig continues! Originally from Waimea, Hawaii, he now lives the life of a Gentleman Rancher in Graham, WA! Of course, since he grew up as one of those rough and tough cowboys on his Aunty Anna Lindsey’s ranch in Waimea, calling him a “Gentleman Rancher” might be fighting words so let’s just call him the Kalua Pua`a Man!
If you attend some of the larger Hawaiian community events (like Lokahi’s Spring and Fall Ho`olauleas or the Wakinikona Summer Festival) the Kalua pig you consume there will probably have come from Reggie Lindsey’s Imu! Reggie is a retired US Air Force veteran who lives with his lovely wife Linda in their beautiful Graham, WA home nestled in the foothills below majestic Mt Rainier. From their living room, Linda and Reggie enjoy a magnificent, panoramic view of the snow covered mountain. He raises sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, goats and horses on his 7-acre property.
On May 24, 2007, I was invited by Reggie Lindsey to join him and his helpers at Reggie’s ranch for their annual Kalua Pua`a event. Most of Reggie’s helpers are from Hawaii and a second common bond they share is that they all enjoy hunting. Through the year, they solicit orders for Kalua pua`a from individuals and Hawaiian Clubs (like Lokahi and the Wakinikona HC). Then, usually in May, the group gathers to Kalua enough pigs to fill those orders. As I walked in, the group placed logs in a huge imu, covered that with rocks and lit the logs. It would take several hours before the imu rocks turned from brown/black to white-hot. As the rocks were heating up, Reggie and his gang began the ageless ritual of slaughtering, skinning, cleaning and preparing the five huge pigs they were cooking that day (the smallest pig going into the imu that day was 300 pounds, the other four were over 600 pounds each). Most of Reggie’s helpers were military men (either retired or still on active duty) who did their tasks in an extremely organized manner. There were some concessions made towards modernizing the Kalua process (the group used an old World War II Army vehicle with a winch to lift/move the heavy pigs into the imu; they used 800 pounds of cabbage in lieu of banana foliage which is not readily available here in the Pacific NW; they used canvas tarps, plastic sheets and sand bags instead of earth to cover the imu after the pigs were set on the rocks) but basically, it was just like it used to be done in old Hawaii. Approximately 17 hours later, the imu was uncovered and the aroma of Kalua pua`a filled the air!
Among Reggie’s helpers at this particular Kalua Pua`a event were Harrom Kaili and his son Kimo; Alan Hashigawa (Waimea, HI) a Boeing Engineer who now lives in Snohomish, WA; Phil Ibarra (Waiohinu, HI) is a US Army retiree who now lives in Olympia; US Air Force MSgt Hank Laguaton (Kauai) is stationed at McChord AFB, WA and will be retiring from active duty this year; Sherwin Fermahin (Aiea, Oahu), still another USAF retiree who now lives in Steilacoom, WA; Jerry Samashima (Waimea, HI) who lives in Graham, WA; and Reggie’s neighbors Ery Bobadilla (a P.I. native) and Clay Thornburg (from Oklahoma)! Last but not least, there was Paul Hiura who flies in from Hawaii every year to help out! Paul is a McKinley HS ’52 guy whom I last saw over 50 years ago when he and I used to hang out on Kailua beach in Oahu! Reggie Lindsey, a Honoka`a HS grad, is of English-Irish-Hawaiian ethnicity and is a very unassuming, humble guy who actually didn’t want to be called the Alaka`i (leader). But since it was his imu and his pigs and his house where everything was happening, he really had no choice but to be leader. The Kalua pua`a event is something that has happened at Reggie’s house every one of the past 15 years.
Reggie Lindsey, you da Man ! Through efforts like yours, the art of doing Kalua pua`a the traditional way will be passed on to the future generations of Hawaiians in this area.
Until next time, be kind to each other......me ke Aloha pumehana...............Danny