Turning 101 is no small feat. Yet, Aunty Ida still rises before dawn to pray the rosary, attend daily mass at Carmelite Convent Chapel and decorate with flowers. For more than a century, the warm-hearted Ida has touched people’s daily lives in countless ways — including President Obama.
On one of Obama’s vacation trips back to Hawai‘i, the president was looking for some locally made jellies he remembered from his small-kid days in Hawai‘i. Ida’s niece, Charlene, who happened to be working at the vacation home said, “My Aunty Ida makes the best jams and jellies in Hawai‘i.” Ida gave Obama jars of liliko‘i, strawberry-guava jelly, papaya-pineapple and guava jam, guava chutney, liliko‘i butter and mango chutney. Once he and his family indulged themselves, he ordered more for the White House.
Born Adelaide “Ida” Barboza Freitas on April 8, 1912 in Spreckelsville, Maui, Ida grew up in Nahiku near Ha¯na and then on Ka‘eleku Sugar Plantation on Maui. The family did much for themselves by planting gardens and raising chickens and pigs. Much of their resources came from the mountains around them — wild bamboo shoots and coffee, the grasses that stuffed the mattresses, the pulu (soft wool on tree-fern leaf stalks) that stuffed their pillows and the coconut husks that were used as brushes to scrub floors. Growing up in the country meant washing clothes in the stream, walking three miles to school and working in the cane fields during the summer.
As a teen, Ida was sent to Honolulu to work. She became the housekeeper for Dr. Gaspar. At 17, Ida met and married Alfred Freitas and they raised three boys. After putting the boys thru St. Louis University and Alfred retiring after 40 years as a machinist, they became caretakers at the Catholic Youth Organization camp in Hau‘ula. Later, Ida moved to her current residence at the St. Stephen Diocesan Center.
Today, Ida still is active with her church and socializes once a week at the Ko‘olau Senior Hui in Kane‘ohe. She still cooks meals for family gatherings. And she continues the tradition of making malasadas before lent and baking sweet bread for the holidays, calling family members to come and pick up their shares. She attributes her long life to prayer and hard work.
Generations Magazine wishes Happy Birthday to Aunty Ida!