Don Blanding Says Aloha
Columns published in the Hawaiian Life magazine section of the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January-March 1957
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When published in 1957, each column was arranged with Blanding's photo in the center, above Aloha, Don Blanding, his characteristic signature decorated with the little Goofus bird.
January 5, 1957
Sometimes it can be a sad business to return to your boyhood home town after a number of years away.
The ol' swimming hole has shrunk to a scummy puddle that you wouldn't wash a dog in; the buildings, which seemed so tall and impressive to small boys' eyes, are small and shabby and tired looking.
Despite the fact that the years have taken toll of your own chassis, you have remembered chums and sweethearts as they WERE. You have not "grown them up" in your memory.
It is a shock to find many of them gone on or falling apart. Some of them have grown along different ways so that you meet as strangers.
After a short while of reminiscing, you're both relieved to go your separate roads.
THERE must be some magic preservative in the Oklahoma air of my hometown, Lawton; also some vitamins of growth.
My return to this place of my school days was almost 100 per cent undiluted delight. Of course there were some inevitable autumnal overtones of nostalgic memories. But in my case they were few.
My tumbleweed existence over the years had taught me to take things pretty much as they are and to make a fairly joyous best of the material at hand.
But the wind-blown, sun-bleached prairie town of my younger days had flourished into a robust ambitious city, third in size in the state. It is well groomed, with smart modern shops, splendid schools. Much recent paving of streets.
This growth has been principally since the second World War.
The greatly expanded Fort Sill nearby had fed a nourishing blood transfusion into the town, and it had responded.
A 12-story modern hotel, as contemporary as tomorrow, dominates the skyline.
One grateful pioneer citizen, who had prospered in oil, gave a truly splendid auditorium, as a one-person gift. How beautifully that auditorium would grace Honolulu! It's an idea for a memorial for some Islander.
THE FRIENDS, contemporaries of mine, have weathered the years astonishingly well. Their children and grandchildren are the capable city-fathers of today, with much of the invincible pioneer spirit that made the pioneers survive cyclones, droughts, Oklahoma politics and such calamities.
Since these people were no longer moving forward to new geograpical horizons, they changed directions and moved upward.
I was proud to be PROUD of my home town.
A record crowd turned out for my talk. I sprayed the folks with verbal liquid sunshine of Hawaii and they drank it thirstily.
But when the talk was finished an old timer said, "Sounds mighty like Paradise, Don, but I wouldn't trade Lawton for it." Hurray for such loyalty!
The passionate "love for a land" is a curious thing in the human heart. It doesn't have much to do with reasons. It may be ornery, and cruel and harsh, but "some man will love it, claim it and call it by that beautiful name, Home."
As I write this, I'm in Montana, which is plenty stark in a splendid savage way; and you should hear Montanans brag.
But it's snowing now, and I'm thinking in terms of aloha shirts and poi.
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January 12, 1957
On January 15, I'm giving a Renewed Year Party for friends who have broken, dented, shattered or cracked their New Year resolutions, so that they can make a fresh batch or make retreads of old ones. I think it's a good idea.
The first 15 days of the New Year are sort of a dry run for our resolutions.
We haven't learned the quirks and gimmicks in them before. With the half-month experience we'll be in better shape to carry them on during the rest of the year.
It's a bit like trying a new car on the road before really letting it out and finding what it can do.
There will be 12 of us, and so, each month one of the group will stage a party and see how our resolutions are holding up and how much mileage we've put on them. We'll have a Used Resolution Lot, if we want to turn in the old ones for a later model.
Psychologically, I think it's a workable idea for folks who really want to make some changes in themselves.
USUALLY when the sincere good resolutions have met the fate of most brand new resolutions and have lost a few bolts, nuts and screws, the resolutions are so discouraged, and say, "Aw, what the heck, I'll make 'em again next year."
That's such a waste of time, especially when they could truly get mileage out of a good retread job during the months between!
There's nothing to be discouraged about. Did anyone ever put on roller skates and skim right out onto the floor without a couple of boop-oop-a-doops or maybe several dozen? Why should be expect to make a good resolution and take it out for a solo flight and make a three-point landing the first time? Skates and planes are simple compared with the accident possibilities of a new good resolution.
I've learned this about good resolutions. I've learned to keep my big bleating mouth shut about them for a while. The minute they're made everything seems to conspire to dent them or scratch them.
It's all right to talk about the second-string resolutions, but it's wise to keep sphynxy about the really serious ones. Talking about the serious ones seems to let the power seep out.
RESOLUTIONS about dieting or reducing seem to stir up devils of perversity among friends and foes alike. It's a big joke (to everyone except the resolutor) to shake us off of the diet wagon. And most of us overwright folks jiggle off the wagon with a mere shiver of the timbers, just the waving of a pupu . . . and boop!
Another warning; don't make too many good resolutions. Two goods ones or maybe three are about as many as the average person can manage. Otherwise, it's like trying to keep kittens in a basket. While we're bringing back the gray kitten that got out, the black one and the calico kitten get out. By the time we've close-herded THEM, the whole danged lot of them have escaped and are up the curtains or under the sofa.
I said that I wouldn't talk about the resolutions that I'm going to make, and I'm not going to. But I will comment that two and half months on lucture tour did NOT reduce my waistline.
My dinner coat went from double-breasted to single between Anchorage, Alaska, and Kalispell, Montana. Do I want to get a new coat or deflate? I'll let you know later.
If you do like the idea of a Renewed Year Party, it's yours. You're welcome to it!
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January 19, 1957
Back in the studio in Hollywood again after 2-1/2 months of amphibian lawn-sprinkling of Hawaiian liquid sunshine over greater America. Returned to a Mauna Loa of accumulated mail with fresh blizzards of Christmas Cards adding height to the drifts.
Folks, I've had it, scenically.
Bleak lands, freak lands, lush lands and plush lands, waste lands and waist-lands (New York restaurants). I've skimmed over the horizontals and hurdled the verticals from New York's skyscrapers to Alaska's cloud-prodding peaks. I've accumulated and absorbed so much color and glory that I'm perspiring in Technicolor and dreaming Cinerama.
My last speaking dates were in underheated outdoors and overheated indoors, from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and points thereabouts.
THIS conditioned me to increased appreciation of Southern California. When I flew out of Bend, Oregon, the land was doing a country-wide Christmas decoration project. A silver-frost was over the land.
Little roadside weeds, trees, houses, telephone wires, outhouses and fences were glorified with frost-ermine and Christmas tree sparkles inches thick. When the sun shone, it was dazzling and completely unearthly . . . and coooo-o-o-o-old. I was muscle-bound from putting on and taking off things with the changing temperatures.
California looked like a third-carbon copy of Hawaii. The last of a large bed of white-ginger blossoms welcomed me; there were hibiscus, poinsettias, roses, more hibiscus and more hibiscus. It was very cheery. I'll leave White Christmases to the Eskimos.
When I went up to Hollywood Boulevard the first morning I said, "Yep, I'm in Hollywood, all right." A large covered truck went by with an outsize Santa Claus peering out of the open rear-end. It was the dangedest Santa Claus I ever saw. It was an elephant, alive, complete with snowy beard, red cap, jingle-bells and holly. Its trunk had been painted with Christmas sparkle-flakes, and there was a large banner that it was waving at passerbys saying, "Merry Christmas. Shop early at Schoops" . . . or something like that.
You can't beat Hollywood for nutsyness!
I'LL BE a week getting travel-cramps out of my legs, back and other highly-localized areas. I've been "up-in-the-air" so much that I expect to find pin-feathers sprouting in odd places. The swiftness of plane travel is still a matter of marvel to me because I remember the slow-paced tempo of travel in the horse-and-buggy days.
In my home town of Lawton, Oklahoma, I wanted to go out to a favorite old swimming hole in the mountains. We used to get up early in the morning and spend most of the time up to noon jog-jogging behind our old horse, Rattler. We'd have a few hours of cavorting and sporting in the water, then jiggety-jig back again.
This time a friend took me out in his small plane and we were there before I was settled in the seat.
These swimming-hole memories also brought nostalgic thoughts of those days before the First World War. How naively happy and secure we felt; we were so isolated and insulated from the rest of the world that our concerns were largely local.
Even when the war broke over the world, we thought it was just a little flurry that would pass after we had made the world "safe for . . . democracy."
Now if some puffy arrogant little dictator sneezes in Zapazagula, the world trembles. It takes only a pistol shot to start an avalanche, and only one rat of an egoist to wreck the peace (what IS that, anyhow. I can't remember). Well, I expect to live to January 1, 2000. Maybe we'll rediscover it and be able to say "Peace on earth . . . good will to men" without a wry, sad twist to the lips.
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January 26, 1957
Now that I'm back at the studio in Hollywood, I can back-track on my accumulation of Star-Bulletin and see what has happened in Hawaii. I missed the papers on tour, but hoped that things were well with my beloved "other home."
I was interested in the Malihini On the Record, a recent Hawaiian Life Magazine. Their reactions were consistently enthusiastic and appreciative. And I know that this is not simply because only favorable comments were selected.
We kamaainas have to remember that the malihinis do not remember the Hawaii that we knew in the early century and the years between. The impact of Hawaii on the malihinis is "Hawaii as it is today." They have no comparisons to make them regretful.
ON TOUR I was sometimes afraid that my enthusiastic descriptions of Hawaii as I have known it, experienced it and loved it, might give them too-glowing pictures which would lead to disappointment when they arrived there.
But my tour also showed me why, for so many, Hawaii is Shangri-la. For instance in the Northwest of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming; the beauty there is glorious, but it is stark, almost savage in its splendor. When people come from there to the lushness and graciousness which is truly Hawaii they are overwhelmed.
Especially if they come in winter time they are really "melted down" emotionally and sensuously.
When Garden-Clubbers of Eastern Colorado, Western Oklahoma, Kansas, and around there see the gardens of Hawaii practically crawling into the houses, they remember their struggles with drought, heat, winds, dust and frosts and winter and they think that they are in the Garden of Eden.
AND WITH most of the visitors, too, they do not see the tensions and frictions which ARE in the Islands, unhappily. They contact mostly the friendliness and happiness which flavors so much of the Hawaiian scene. And they are enchanted.
That is why it is a personal responsibility to every person in Hawaii to present the Aloha spirit if the place is to continue as a world attraction for visitors. They bring prosperity to the Islands in great volume.
There is a price on everything in life; and the price of visitors is that the place, in concentrated places, belongs more and more to the visitors, and less and less to the kamaainas.
If care, and a maximum of intelligence, is used by those who cater to the visitors, the place need not become just one more tourist-trap with all of its cheap clap-trap, gouging and synthetic atmosphere. And Hawaii will be a pleasanter place for ALL of us.
IT IS very easy in "isolated" places -- like Alaska, Hawaii, Bermuda and some of the beauty spots of America -- for the oldtimers and locals to become selfish and insular by wanting to keep things to themselves.
However, none of these places can possibly be called isolated any more, what with transportation of all kinds increased, and with travel money available to people, and with curiosity about "other places" stimulated by our wonderful travel magazines, documentary films, and word-of-mouth reports by those who HAVE been places.
I do not know what date this column will be published, but I do know that Good Wishes need not be dictated by the calendar, so this is my feeling about the year ahead, dating from this date.
The Best of Me to the Best of you;
Between us I hope this will always be true.
My picture of YOU is the best of you.
For that is all I'll accept of you,
For that is Truly YOU.
Some folks might say that is sentimental bilge, but I know from experience that, as a working philosophy or approach to friendship, it WORKS. So, that's how it is between us, as far as I'm concerned. Happy holidays and all days, always and all ways, to you.
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February 2, 1957
Letters come by air mail, by ship, by train and are -- usually -- delivered by the postman. But some come directly by mongoose.
These letters are anonymous. I showed a couple of them to a psychiatrist friend of mine. He said, "Don't resent them. Pity the writers of them. The anonymous letter writer is a pitiable creature, corroded by fear, gnawed by some old hidden resentment, acid with envy. Their hatred is NOT personal. It is their way of striking blindly back at the pain which they have for constant companion."
One came recently, saying, "You prattle so tiresomely of Joy and the Aloha-spirit and beauty. Don't you know there is sorrow, injustice, misery and rottenness in the world? Why aren't you doing something about those things?" It went on and on. The letter almost fumed with bitterness and released venom. I felt like washing my hands in antiseptic after handling the pages. Then I remembered the psychiatrist's advice.
YES, I learned very early of sorrow, injustice, misery and rottenness in the world. My father was a judge, a kindly man whose heart sorrowed for the sights that he saw daily. I used to go down to wait for him at court and walk home with him.
I saw the Magdalenes, the Judases, the mentally crippled and the spiritually blind. Long before the modern approach to crime, my father used to say, "These people are not evil. They are sick. And in need of help. There is so little that we can do -- and most of what we do is wrong.
What CAN we do, individually? Each must use the means with which he is equipped. Long ago a Man who knew the sorrows of the world brought "GLAD" tidings, at a terrible cost to himself.
Sorrow needs no invitation to come into the house. It comes in under the door or through the tiniest mouse or termite hole. But JOY comes in such simple garb that we sometimes fail to welcome it into our houses.
EVERY medium of communication these days is overburdened with sorrow, disaster, fear and threat.
The Men-Who-Know say that fear is the occupational hazzard of living for contemporary man. Joy, beauty and the Aloha-spirit, whether in Hawaii or Alaska or Tegucigalpa, are the repellants of fear.
Because I had to make much of little when I was young, I learned how wise my Father's advice was: "Son, learn early where Life's Free Lunch Counter is."
The prices of things of Pleasure, Excitement, Amusement and Diversion are usually high, being mostly "store-boughten." But the things of Joy, Beauty and the Aloha-spirit are free. They are all around us, as I learned the hard way.
If I find these things and keep them to myself, they will curdle. If I pass them along or point them out, my joy is doubled.
This, too, I learned, and try to pass along: "Fill the Waiting Cup of the Expectant Hour with your own inner inexhaustible artesian Joy-of-Living, since you drink the draught that you yourself have poured."
Think that over.
* * *
P.S. For every mongoose-letter there are dozens that arrive via the happy trade winds. I am very grateful.
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February 9, 1957
A few belated Holiday Greeting cards keep coming in every day or so even yet. They look rather sheepish and apologetic like guests who come in very late for dinner, and don't believe that their explanations or excuses will be believed.
They don't need to apologize.
A belated Holiday Greeting just means that one more person thought of you than you thought had thought of you.
Some of the cards, mailed early, were forwarded from Bend, Oregon, where I was before I went to Hawaii on the last trip, and then from Hawaii to Hollywood. No wonder they were late!
A couple were forwarded from Guam. That's mighty good service because it's four years since I was there on my unforgettable trip from Guam to the little coral freckles on Mother Pacific's blue face, on the freighter Metomkin with the late Ted Narramore as captain and with a crew of Yapese, Ponapese, Marchalese and others.
WOW, HOW time does jet-propel past us or through us these days. It's two years and almost four months since I had the big coming-out party for my subversive appendix in Honolulu, and slid over the edge of Eternity for a peek into the next adventure.
And it's a year and four months since I flew to the Mainland to go the Girdle-gobble-and-gabble Circuit! Hardly seems possible!
Speaking of Holiday Greetings, I'm left with the usual quota of D.P.F.'s (Displaced Friendships) due to folks NOT putting return addresses on their cards, and the old addresses are obsolete.
Many of the Mainland post offices have discontinued the useful "Consult Directory" service. So what is one to do? Anyhow, lots of folks are not in the directory if they've just arrived in a new town recently.
Most of my greetings will be belated arrivals this year. I got back from tour too late to get things caught up in time for prompt delivery.
Anyhow, what has the calendar got to do with thinking of friends?
I'd rather have six scrawled lines in an off-season time, if they carry affection and some news of the folks, than a $5 greeting card with an engraved signature . . . and no message.
I FEEL the same way about presents. I like the personal touch.
I still treasure a pair of sox which are three size too big for me, but they were knitted by a dear soul of 88 who heard that I was going on tour into the winter countries and "wanted to be sure that my feet were warm." Bless her knitting needles!
Just about the time that we think that a good Deluge would benefit the Earth greatly we experience one of those warm, thoughtful "aloha"-kind of human contacts that renews our belief in mankind and makes us hope that the Creator will renew our option on some more living.
On the way to San Diego recently, I saw a truck-driver, as big and shaggy as a Kodiak grizzly, stop his truck and get out and walk back to pick up a scraggly small black kitten that someone must have heaved out a car and abandoned.
He smoothed it and soothed it and put it in his big pocket and drove on. I know that the Recording Angel had his eye on that little-great kindliness.
For a while this last year, I thought I'd give up my hope of seeing January 1, 2000, come in, but after a few pick-me-ups like that I've decided to go on.
Be seein' you then, maybe. Is it a date?
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February 16, 1957
There are a lot of "Weeks" that are proclaimed during the year for this purpose or that. Some I can take or leave, such as "DON'T BE NASTY TO MONGEESE WEEK' or "GIVE YOUR OLD DENTURES TO THE HEATHEN WEEK."
And the trouble with some of the worthwhile weeks is that the idea seems to be that if I observe "Remember Grandmother Week" during that week I can neglect the dear soul the rest of the year with a clear conscience.
But there is one week coming up -- February 16 -- which is close to my heart and close to my (and your) life. That is WORLD BROTHERHOOD WEEK for the Hawaiian Chapter. If I nudge you to remembrance and co-operation, the address is Box 3106, Honolulu 2, and the telephone is 6-5565.
My tours take me to every part of America, and I have lived in many sections including Canada, and with a visit to Alaska.
EVERYWHERE I see the crying need for the practice of the principles which are represented by this gallant, hard-working and sincere organization. Compassionate understanding of the problems of one group by a group which seems opposed can help eliminate the problems of both groups.
Our much-publicized Aloha Spirit is actually carried out by the World Brotherhood Group to the full extent of their means, and even beyond.
The worst handicap to the work of this movement is apathy on the part of those who feel that because their own position seems secure at the moment (security, where?) they need not worry about the other fellow.
Such apathy amounts to criminal, deliberate ignorance in these days where a sneeze at the wrong time in the right place and time can precipitate an avalanche of disaster.
Another handicap is the attitude of so many people, "There's so little that I could do that I don't bother. I'm not important." There's no such thing as an UNimportant person, these days.
In this era of a shrinking earth and expanding population, we are all forced to rub off on each other. Are we going to do as the joke suggested -- "start a fire by rubbing two Boy Scouts together" -- or start a world holocaust by rubbing people the. wrong way, individually, locally and nationally?
COMPASSIONATE and intelligent understanding is not just one-way traffic; it needs two-way and four-lane traffic of more education and active participation on the part of all who hope to live through threatening days ahead.
Don't merely ask yourself, "What can I do?" Call the Organization and say, instead, "There must be SOMETHING that I can do, however little. Will you tell me how you can use me?"
The splendid Aloha Spirit, not as a sentimental spirit alone, but as a dynamic, constructive way of living, is like Liberty, something which must be achieved, sustained and maintained.
Let World Brotherhood Week be the beginning of 52 weeks of active participation in this work which is so rewarding.
We go abroad to see interesting people and to get acquainted with them. Do you know any more interesting place than our Hawaii or one with more variety of people? I don't. And who benefits? You and I.
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February 23, 1957
I had a grand vicarious return trip to Hawaii and to some wonderful raffish memories of the past through a recent visit to Ed and Carmen Sawtelle at their home at 345 South Loraine, Glendora, California (for the benefit of old friends who want to write them).
We always "talk Hawaii" from morning to night and well into the night when I'm there but this time we had an additonal incentive.
They got the finest and newest electric organ for their house. Ed is really walking on notes of music right up into the stratosphere.
By the time I left there every cell in my not inconsiderable body was vibrating to Song of the Islands, Beyond the Reef and Lovely Hula Hands. Good feeling!
FOR ANY benighted malihinis who don't know what Ed Sawtelle IS, he was Mr. Organ Music of Hawaii for years, first at the Princess Theatre, then the Hawaii and it was he who brought the first Hammond Organ for theatre use when the Waikiki Theatre opened in 1936 and Ed Sawtelle came back from the mainland to play it. Later it was replaced by the big four manual pipe organ from which he magicked music which went to the far Islands of the Pacific by radio during the bleak war years.
While I was at their home in Glendora, we dragged out music from the shows which I produced for various charities in the earlier years, and for which he wrote the music.
As he played There's a Girl for Every Man, Cairo Love, A Night to Remember, Old Fashioned Garden, Won't You Come Back to Honolulu Town and others, I saw a parade of beautiful girls who used to strut and preen in the flower, fish and rainbow costumes which we made right there in Hawaii.
Often they were made from paper cambric, faith, dyed corn plasters, perspiration and inspiration -- with lavish help from safety pins and string, but if I do say so, they were effective.
I give full screen credit to the hosts of truly beautiful girls who would have made Flo Ziegfeld envious. They were always available when a show was going to be put on.
Among the most beautiful showgirls was the unforgettable Eloise Fernandez. I never bothered to gild that exquisite lily much. Her own beauty spotlighted her.
You will see the faces of many of those curvesome beauties now in the Society Section of the Star-Bulletin as the leading matrons of the city.
We did not have the Five and Dime Stores in those days where we could purchase inexpensive glitter and glamor stuffs. I remember some Venetian cut-velvet, bejewelled, that I needed for a sumptuous number.
I took dyed bunion and corn plasters and glued them on sateen, and I varnished four sizes of gum-drops in all colors (varnished to keep the chorus from eating them) which served as glimmering and glittering jewels.
The girls were annoyed because they were nicknamed the Gumdrop Girls and the Bunion Plaster Beauties, but it was all fun.
Our productions may not have been as finished as the splendid productions of today, but they certainly were fun.
Ed and Carmen Sawtelle had books of clippings from the shows and we had a nostalgic but happy journey into Days that WERE . . . and they WERE good ol' days, as anyone who remembers can affirm.
These Todays of Today will soon be the Ol' Days. Whether they are remembered as Good Ol' Days or not is largely up to us.
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March 2, 1957
I think I mentioned in one of these columns the observation that we don't see things as THEY are; we see things as WE are.
This comment had confirmation in something that was said . . . and proven by one of my friends at the camera counter in one of Waikiki's shops.
He said, "I can tell a lot about what people are like by the pictures they take." Give 12 people a camera each and 12 rolls of films, and then see what they bring in to develop.
For instance, Miss Nettie Neighbor and Mrs, Hipley Broadbeam are two visiting Garden-Clubbers from the Middle West. They're out for flower and garden pictures.
Nettie Neighbor visits one of the hibiscus show-gardens. "Oh, I MUST get a picture of EVERY ONE of these beauties to show the girls at home." So, she gets close-ups of double and single hibiscus, of coral hibiscus, of every color and shape that she can find.
MRS. BROADBEAM'S pictures show a great deal of yardage of Mrs. Broadbeam and very little of the garden.
The hibiscus blossoms are photographed on Mrs. Broadbeam's expansive bosom, in her expensively coiffed hair, in her bejewelled hands. In fact, she goes away from Hawaii with third-degree burns from exposure to the spotlight of her ego.
Nettie Neighbor has pictures of the details of the flower leis. Mrs. Broadbeam's photos of leis show how many leis were given her, as her face centers like a doll's face in an elephant's corsage.
HONEYMOONERS show how their thoughts are focused by the view of Diamond Head peering around the luscious curves of Li'l Ol' Cutie Pie.
Cutie Pie's idea of the comparative interests of Diamond Head and Big Ol' Handsome Husband will be revealed by the large epidermal expanses of Husband and the limited areas of visible Diamond Head in the snapshots.
Willie Wildoat's pictures are going to feature more Flora than fauna . . . that is, Flora of the Follies who is getting a high tan from sunburn and lot of excitement from moon-burn at Waikiki, with Willie's guidance, all in the sweet spirit of Aloha.
PAPA Fenderbender's taste in pictures is somewhat limited by Mama Fenderbender's disapproval of too much attention to the wrong kinds of curves on the beach.
She will concentrate his shots more on the lei-sellers than the more appetizing lei-wearers.
When he feebly protests that he is just trying to get "Island atmosphere," she will reply that there are atmospheres and atmospheres.
So remember when you're camera-ing to "call your shots" because you'll be shouting your tastes by the pictures you take.
In looking over some old snapshot books of mine I find that there's an awful lot of Donald in them. Certainly some wilder streaks of ham existed (or still exist?) in this luau-hog.
~ ~ ~
March 9, 1957
With all the things in all this world
To see and do and have and know,
If on the morrow I should die
I would be loathe to go.
This means that spring fever is rampant in my tumbleweed heart. There's an acute case of itching-footitis in my shoes. I sometimes wish that I had been born quintuplets with one central brain.
The papers that come from Honolulu make me want to be in on all the festivities, tours, exhibitions, parties, comings and goings and doings in Hawaii.
The wild geese are calling up here. Also, the lecture bureau agency is calling . . . calling for me to leave March 15 for a stint of verbal crop-dusting which will keep me on the road until the end of June, ending up in an enchanted spot, Lake Minnewauska in New York, where I'm lecturer for two weeks at a metaphysical seminar.
Then a week high in the Rocky Mountains in July. In the meantime I'd like, also, to be here in the studio doing the book which I have contracted to do for my publishers, Dodd Mead & Company, for 1958.
And the lazy part of me would like to do nothing at all for a month after this strenuous winter!
ALBERT Einstein said it, "Time is relative." I returned from autumn tour December 5. It seems like a month ago, but when I look on the calendar of things done, lectures spoken, and the assorted what-nottings of December, January and February, I think, "I couldn't have done all those things in a year." But somehow I did.
It looks as though Junior Brain-Child might be born on a plane, bus or train.
Counting up the days available for time at the typewriter (I muffed a key and wrote "tripewriter"), I don't see how the book can get written. But it will somehow, the books always have. (Do I hear my critics saying, "more's the pity.")
ANYHOW, friends, while you're enjoying these gorgeous days and events in Hawaii, please do a little extra enjoying and air-wave it in my direction. We'll both benefit.
Wow, how I'd like to lie on the beach and just poach and poach and poach in the sunlight and trade-winds, inhaling the fragrance of sun-tan oil, Quelques Fleurs, seaweed, hamburgers, plumeria, and sun-broiled tourists, tourines and tourettes which constitutes the pot-pourri of Waikiki.
Along in my 40s I wrote, "I find that with the passing years, my pace is JUST A LITTLE SLOWED. I may not go so FAR nor FAST, but I see more along the road."
That was just wish-fancy.
At 62-plus, I'm going farther, faster than ever before. It's a question whether I see more of what I see or whether I just look AT more and see less because of the speed.
Anyhow, I feel more. Somehow, I feel the colossal richness of life, the multiplicity of life.
If I don't get to see it all, it's comforting to know that it's there to be seen and that someone is seeing it.
~ ~ ~
March 16, 1957
It's a lucky columnist (luckier than any I've ever heard of) who does not sooner or later pull a blooper and get a barrage of defunct buffos and shopworn papayas, verbally speaking.
Apparently, I've pulled a blooper, and I certainly did get the barrage.
I know how futile explanations are, and am reminded of the argument, "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up."
My blooper reminds me of this situation. A woman had three daughters of whom she was inordinately proud. A young man remarked, "I think your youngest daughter is very lovely." She snapped back, "But you don't like the other two." The young man protested, But I didn't say that." The mother, outraged in her maternalism, was not convinced. "You might just as well have said it."
Later she told people what a rude young man he was, going around saying that her daughters were unattractive.
APPARENTLY, in my nostalgic love of Hawaii I have raved so much that I have implied, in the minds of some Mainlanders, that I must, as a matter of course, hate the Mainland.
It's like saying I hate chicken because I love duck.
I certainly prefer the open-windowed houses of Hawaii to the closed and overheated rooms which are universal in winter on most of the Mainland. So when it's financially expedient, I'll live in Hawaii.
I enjoyed winter as a youngster; I don't now. If that be treason, well, I'm guilty.
From the train window I was enchanted with the winter wonderland; when I stepped out of the train I got internal and external gooseflesh so that you could have grated coconuts on my hide.
IT SEEMS that I didn't duly appreciate the autumnal coloring.
As a matter of hard cash, I spent plenty of cash on jumbo cards and postage sending the beautiful scenes to friends in areas where there are no such glories.
In fact, I'm fairly sure that I did some verbal shouting about these very items in the columns. If I didn't, then I DO plead guilty to oversight.
Let's put it this way.
I love my sweetheart and I like the others. If it were different, I'd better not let my sweetheart know it. I like the Mainland; I love Hawaii. It's just a case of affinities, I suppose.
It's my nature that I most sincerely believe what I believe while I believe that I'm believing it. I've not deliberately written anything in the columns that I DON'T believe . . . at the time. If I don't believe it tomorrow, you'll probably hear about it.
In the meantime, I LOVE HAWAII. Does anyone mind?
P.S. Oh, yes, my holiday greetings (1,050 of them with probably more before I'm through sending them out along in May or June) are glorious pictures of Mount Rainier in Washington, one of the most inspiring views I've ever seen. That should indicate something!
~ ~ ~
March 23, 1957
Some readers must come from long lines of pretzel-benders. They can take a simple statement and twist it around in their minds until it becomes a slur, and insulting blot on their scutcheon, and gravy on the tie of their esteem.
Unhappily the printed word cannot carry the tone of thought that conceived the statement. There's nothing to prevent the reader from interpreting the statement as he likes.
But, just as there are accident-attractors, according to contemporary psychology, there are also chronic chip-on-shoulder carriers. If they can't find someone to knock it off, they'll knock it off themselves and blame it on the nearest innocent bystander. It's a variety of masochism.
I have more than a touch of it myself.
My love of Hawaii makes me overly sensitive to possible slurs on the Islands.
It's the visitor's privilege to like or dislike Hawaii, I suppose, just as they can take poi or leave it. If they leave their poi or squid or limu at a luau and I'm seated anywhere near them . . . I'll get it. So, I should be grateful for this quirk.
IN ONE column, I wound up by saying that "I've just been in Montana. It's plenty stark in a savagely splendid way. You should hear Montanans brag." That brought a barrage of rusty horse-shoes, chunks of obsidian and dried cow-chips from loyal Montanans.
That's because they use the word "brag" in a different connotation from what the word means to me. The Montanans are justified by the dictionary. There are a number of interpretations of the word, some of them not so pleasant as the meaning I chose for it.
"Brag" to me means to "praise extravagantly."
I wouldn't give an underprivileged opihi for any man who wouldn't "brag" about his own country, even if there was nothing to brag about. The man who brags about his land seems to be trying to sell the world on his particular town, county, state or country. Actually, he's trying to sell himself. And that's a wise and laudable thing to do, according to my thinking.
I'VE been bragging on behalf of Hawaii ever since I came in 1916 to the Islands. In fact, this has provided me a good living for 40 years, and the main theme of 16 books.
When I was living in Florida, I bragged loyally while I was there, and produced a good-selling book, "FLORIDAYS," which is still going strong.
I've bragged on one of my "other" homes, California, and produced "MOSTLY CALIFORNIA."
Montana is one of my favorite states. My trip through Montana revived my intention to spend a month in Glacier National Park this summer. It's one of the great "must" places of the West.
As a leggy kid I worked on my Uncle Jim's ranch near Gardiner, Montana, and later in Livingston.
The towering peaks, the fragrance of sage-brush, the vasty distances and the uncurried grandeur of the land built a pattern into my memory which has come out in numerous drawings and poems. And I love the enthusiastic "bragging" of Montanans.
I come from a bragging state, Oklahoma. We're highly vociferous about the charms, virtues, qualities of Oklahoma.
And right next to us is another state whose lusty (and justified) bragging has become world-famous.
This is an explanation, not an apology. But I say to all loyal Montanans, Kansans, Virginians, Georgians and Patagonians . . . "If you DON'T brag on your state or your country, I'll believe that you are suffering from emotional anemia, wilted enthusiasm and pernicious malnourishment of local loyalty."
And I am grateful for the royal and loyal uprising of offended readers because it provided me with an idea for a column.
Mahalo nui oe . . . and aloooooooHA! Heavy on the "HA!"
~ ~ ~
March 30, 1957
When you were a youngster you and your friends probably did what our gang of kids did. We had elaborate Secret Languages both spoken and written. It would be an overstatement to say that we communicated.
We made the sounds and signs. The one who received a Mysterious Message usually could not decode it. The writer was equally baffled when asked to explain after an interval of more than 10 minutes. But we had fun. We felt very important. Very exclusive. We were not of the Common Herd.
I remember that we spoke "oo-yay." Example: "An-cay oo-yay um-cay oo-tay i-may ouse-hay and-ay lay-pay?" Just in case you have no language sense, that translates, "Can you come to my house and play?"
WE ALSO had a strictly stag language which was supposed to exclude the weaker (minded) sex. When two of us met in the presence of girls we whispered darkly "Speak Comanche." Then followed a series of grunts, groans, sniffles, whiffles, snortles, burps and hissings. No Comanche would have been the wiser for overhearing our messages. Nor were we, in most cases.
But the Listener always looked very wise. If he understood, it was by intuition with a strong accompaniment of sign language which was equally obvious to anyone who might be interested.
The girls either yahh-ed disdainfully. 'We don't care about your old secret," or disconcerted us completely by saying, "You're going to snitch peaches from Mrs. Striker's yard . . . and we're going to tell her. Yahh-h."
I suppose kids today carry on the tradition. A bevy of Between Agers on the bus the other day were yakking, full orchestra. I got the drift but not the detail.
When it was said that someone was "Blahhh" I gathered that he was a peeled zero, a floof and a phhmp.
But when a cute little fuzz-head said that "Bob is a real blimsey" I had to believe from her expression that her boy friend combined the outstanding allures of Clark Gable, Elvis the Pelvis, Porforio Tuberosa and Alfred Apaka. At least that seemed to be the general impact of Blimsey on Blondie.
I'M INCLINED to think that half the younger actors of today must speak Comanche or "oo-yay." My hearing is a bit blurred, which might account for some of it, but I miss fully half of the mumblings, mufflings and slurrings of the Brandos, Deans and Harry Chesty's of the current shows.
It might be that my years on lecture tours have developed such a protective deafness for conversation that does not interest me that it shuts me out from much that might be nippy.
It's certainly handy to be able to turn off the Built-in hearing aid inside my head when I want to pursue my own thoughts in the midst of the large clamor of voices at a gathering. But such a practice can be habit forming.
Husbands have developed this art to a high degree, but my two and a half years of active duty in that field could hardly have established it as chronic.
P.S. I am still saving at least 25 holiday greetings from Hawaii which I can't answer because there were no return addresses. Street addresses were not in my files, nor in the Honolulu telephone directory. But the directory I have with me in California is three years old and folks move around so much that it's not dependable.
If you didn't hear, it wasn't because I wasn't grateful and willing.
Blast that nit-wit sisterhood of etiquette writers who said that it is not "smart" to put return addresses on greetings. Several of them have wised up and are now talking sense.
They say that it is always "smart" to be thoughtful, and it's certainly thoughtful to put return address on ANY communication, except, of course, anonymous letters. It's dumb to write those, anytime.