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Dinson, Pearl Pualani Lincoln

Tracy Bryant, as told by her mother Darlyn Pilialoha Dinson

Name: Pearl Pualani Lincoln Dinson (Grandma)

Birth: June 1, 1932

Death: December 12, 1988

Parents: Arthur Lyman Lincoln (Kukuman) and Bernice Kahanawahine Keala (Kukulady)

Maternal Grandparents: John Keala Sr. (Tutu man), and Nancy Ulii Awaa (Tutu)

Paternal Grandparents: Lyman Putnam Lincoln and Henrietta Kepelino

Spouse: Emilio Enanoria Dinson (Papa)

Married: November 18, 1951

There are many stories I can share with you about your Grandma but understand that these stories are filtered through my eyes. In that I mean, what I relay to you will be biased because it is how I visualized the events as shared with me by others who knew your Grandma. I will try to be honest but I also want you to love your ornery Grandma. I’m sure with your personality; you would have enjoyed her as much as I know she would have enjoyed you.

Grandma was the first born amongst her siblings. Her father named her Pearl because he admired the name. Kukulady told me he named Grandma after his old girlfriend. Kukulady also related that Grandma was sent to stay with her maternal grandmother when she was a toddler because she refused to be weaned from breast milk which made it harder on the next sibling needing to eat. While at Tutu’s, Grandma learned to speak Hawaiian. She was the only sibling to speak Hawaiian fluently. Grandma told me that for the longest time, nobody knew she understood Hawaiian and after church services she would eavesdrop on the ladies when they would talk story. She said, “They talk stink about everybody.”

Tutu man was Reverend John Keala so there was a set decorum that Preacher Kids (PKs) and Preacher Grandkids (PKGs) were supposed to adhere to. Tutu man and Tutu were very spiritual, often bridging Hawaiian spirituality with Protestant religiosity. Grandpa and Grandma Lincoln on the other hand were very “Episcopalian, white and proper”. They expected their grandchildren to act worthy of an esteemed name. Your grandma clearly tried to please both. I remember seeing a photograph labeled “Hōʻike at Pukaana.” Grandma’s sister was dressed in a white muslin frilly dress, tights, and black button boots. Her hair was stylishly fashioned in curls. Grandma was dressed in what could have been a white muslin frilly dress, her stockings were torn and that was probably because she took off her shoes to climb a mango tree. Her hair was in disarray around her face which at least hid some of the tell-tale mango stains on her cheeks and chin. Your grandma was soon sent to stay with the Lincoln’s to rid herself of her “savageness”.

Grandma learned a lot at the Lincoln’s because Grandpa Lincoln was a very successful businessman. He owned and operated the Diamond Brand coffee plantation in Keālia, South Kona. Grandma had an uncanny business savvy that served Diamond Brand well. The plantation prospered during the war. Grandpa Lincoln employed many immigrants. One family that worked for him was the Dinsons from Honokaʻa. Emilio, the eldest son, was in the same grade as grandma. Soon they started hanging out and doing things only people who planned to marry should. When grandma was found to be in the “family way” the Dinsons were fired. By then, the Dinsons had learned how to manage a coffee plantation, and when they left, many other immigrant workers left too believing that it would be better to work for someone like “them” instead of the “haole.” Thus your Filipino great grandparents were able to buy, employ, and manage a large coffee plantation of their own. Papa and Grandma married and lived with his parents for a while. Eventually, Papa and Grandma bought a coffee farm of their own.

Grandma was multi-talented. Grandma could play the ʻukulele, stand-up bass, and autoharp. People gave her instruments to keep. She could sing very well. I enjoyed singing with her in the car instead of listening to the radio just like you and I do now. She could crochet beautiful things. She did macramé also. She wove lauhala hats for family and friends. She made feather and floral hatbands and was really good in making ti-leaf skirts for May Day. Grandma could cook. She would go out in the coffeeland and come back with “stuff” to cook. I didn’t know at that time that it was pumpkin, squash, eggplant, and other vegetables that were abundant on our property. I always thought she was just finding stuff to cook from the forest because we couldn’t buy real vegetables like carrots, celery and potatoes from the grocery store.

There were two families in Kona who always supplied us with cucumbers and tomatoes because they held Grandma in such high esteem. I felt like they were giving us vegetables because they felt sorry for us. A tragedy befell one of the families. A son drank some poison that was in a Coca Cola bottle. The father called your grandma from the hospital to speak with his wife because she was beside herself not knowing if her son committed suicide or was poisoned by accident. Grandma calmed her down. The other family had a son who ran away from home. He only ran to your grandma’s house. He lived with us for couple months until he went off to college. There were many other occasions as such.

Not everyone in Miloliʻi, South Kona has a telephone but many have CB radios because it’s a fishing village. We had a CB because Papa also fished occasionally. One day, a woman from Miloliʻi was having a heart attack. The phone line at Miloliʻi wasn’t working so the family called Grandma on the CB so she could telephone for an ambulance to be dispatched. The woman’s life was saved. Another stranger incident occurred during a time Kona was experiencing torrential rainfall almost everyday for a week. The cemetery at St. John’s Catholic Church, also known as “The Painted Church” was being washed away. Caskets and bones and tombstones were being upended. The priest called Grandma to please come and help. Grandma said she didn’t know who was buried there but the priest wanted Grandma to help calm the living getting hysterical because their deceased loved ones were being washed away.

Not everyone loved Grandma. Not everyone respected her. But, those that did made it a point to be part of her life and have her be a part of theirs. She stood by her word. If you needed her help, she was there. Often you remind me of her; that stubbornness to be “yourself” and if nobody likes it—too bad. Yes, you would have enjoyed Grandma and she would have enjoyed you too.