Kapu Bray was born, Verna Aloha Dodson; Verna being the feminine of her father Vern Dodson's name. I believe she was only known as Verna to Tutu, Grandpa, her brothers and cousin's. I never thought of mom as Verna. She just did not carry herself like a Verna! She outgrew Verna in many ways...she also outgrew Aloha, as well. However, Verna was her first name and now that I am older, I understand how meaningful that name really was...a name does not have to be indigenous or Hawaiian to have a special meaning.
Throughout my life with her, she was known as Sister. Tutu called her Sister. Uncle John called her Sister. And if you, dear Kaina, remember, Auntie Ilima always refers to her as Sister. What I find very interesting as I write this paragraph, is the connection between the two of you. She was a lost little girl. Tutu was more concerned about other things than our mom. She was very neglected emotionally and even abused, by her mother and her brothers (bless their souls, not!) One of the things I learned from her was this: When a thing is spoken in Hawaiian it means more than one thing: it has a dual meaning. She gave you part of my name, Kaina, (shortened for Kaikaina) It means you are MY younger sister. On a much deeper level, however, by naming you Kaina, a form of Sister, in this instance, she also named you after herself. And through you comforted her inner child.
When did she become known as Kapu Bray? I cannot answer that question and leave this answer open in hopes that someone else may be able to do so. But, I have her Polynesian Review programs from the early 60's and she was known as Kapu at that point. Someone might wonder: With a beautiful name like Aloha, why would she feel the need to take the name Kapu upon herself? She never revealed this to me, however, when I put the names side by side (Aloha / Kapu), the name Kapu resonates...it suites her persona more than Verna, Aloha or Sister. Those three names altogether do not completely result in Kapu. Kapu is a very powerful name, it is strong and it has mana. And that truly fits the woman she had become.
Kapu's power was evident as soon as she hit the stage! She was not just entertaining, nor was she just working. When Kapu Bray performed, she was saying to everyone around her, "This is who I am and at this very moment, here and now, I will share my knowledge with you, and I will make you laugh so hard that you will forget, all of your heartache. I hold you in my hand completely." Before every performance she would sit quietly in one place, taking the time to let the mana stir, if you will. I remember watching her backstage...I could feel her mana from a distance...and this is how her energy felt; wise, calm, peaceful, positive, aware, loving. I would smile and she would smile back. (I miss her so much). But that was also a representation of her name, Kapu, set aside for something special.
The name Bray came from Daddy Bray, Kapu's uncle, who was of Kahuna lineage and married to her Great Aunt Lydia. Daddy Bray lived in Pasadena before passing away in 1968. Mom loved him very much and had a great respect for him. And he loved her back. David Bray, was the one adult in her Hawaiian ohana, whom she connected with. He taught her and nurtured her. When I was very young, I could feel him (do you get me?) and he is the only other person who felt just like her. Was she hanai'd by him? This I do not know. What I do know is that, she identified herself with him, because they were very close. And at a certain point in life, after being raised by a parent who treats you badly, and after divorces, a woman must choose, who she is and she must identify herself and this, I believe, is what she did.
Before concluding this post, I would like to return to her given name, Verna. Although, I never saw her as Verna and didn't care for that name, I now understand how endearing that name really was. You see,her biological father, Vern Dodson, loved her more than anything in this world...and put his own name upon her...in the little time they spent together in her life...he instilled confidence in her and gave her love, so much love, that it carried her through the rest of her life and through every challenge she ever faced...he loved her and she felt it deep in her soul. Verna is the little girl that lived within Aloha Peiler, within Sister and within Kapu Bray. Verna is the little lost girl who corresponded to you Kaina.
Verna Dodson is now one of the sweetest names I have ever heard....