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“By Sweat and Tears We Get By:” Working the Field*

The Olomana was purchased to get the sugarcane from the field to the mill. Working the plantation was a sunup to sundown job. Skilled and unskilled laborers were needed in the fields, the mill, the plantation store, and the clerk’s office. A worker’s life centered around the plantation.

The seeds were planted and tended during the year. Water needed to be brought in from artesian wells. When the stalks reached about 12 feet, it was time to harvest. Both men and women labored in the fields. Men would cut the cane, and women stripped the dry sharp leaves from the stalks. The stalks were bundled and carried to waiting wagons or small railcars. __________________________________________________

* “By sweat and tears we get by” is part of a Japanese bushi work song. New immigrants combined traditional folk tunes with lyrics describing their work life in the sugarcane fields.

Plantation field worker hauling sugar cane up a handmade ramp onto the 4-wheel flat car
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