Bio

AMERICAN MASTERS
Carole King

 

Delve into the hit singer-songwriter’s life and career from 1960s New York to the music mecca of 1970s LA to the present. King joins collaborators and family in new interviews, while rare home movies, performances and photos complete the tapestry. This year also marks the 45th anniversary of King’s landmark album Tapestry, which spawned the hits “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and “So Far Away.”

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Harry Tsuchidana

 

Harry Tsuchidana’s love of art would carry him far in life, but it would hardly be a straight path. His tenacity would take him far beyond his childhood in Waipahu, to the Marines, Washington, D.C. and eventually, New York City. Now 84 years old and a successful abstract artist, Harry still creates with the same urgency and passion that fueled him early on.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, June 21, at 11:00 pm and Sunday, June 25, at 4:00 pm.

 

Harry Tsuchidana Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

In all the years that I’ve been painting, I took some standing eight counts. Standing eight. It’s a—it’s a base—uh, it’s a boxing term. When you get beaten up, you get a standing eight count. I took several of those. But I—

 

Because people didn’t like your work? Is that what you’re saying?

 

Yeah; yeah. Or me.

 

That must feel terrible when you feel it represents you, and they reject it.

 

Yeah. Well … lot of actors are like that, too; right? They get rejected.

 

Yeah; yeah.

 

So, I just—uh, I just created it. Yeah. So …

 

So, the confidence, you still have the confidence and the—

 

Yeah.

 

And the—well, tenacity is what you also mentioned.

 

Yeah. And I’m still in the ring. I’m still in the ring.

 

Yeah. You got up.

 

Yeah. I got up. Still in the ring.

 

As a boy growing up in the plantation town of Waipahu on the island of Oahu, all he wanted to do was draw. As a young man living a Bohemian life in New York City, all he wanted to do was create art. Today, he wakes up every day and still draws…still creates art. Harry Tsuchidana. Coming up, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaiʻi’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. How many of us can truthfully say that we are doing what we set out do as a child? That we had a dream, followed through with it, stayed the course through thick and thin, and achieved the respect of our peers in doing what we love? Abstract artist Harry Tsuchidana, 84 years young at the time of our conversation in October of 2016, has spent his life doing what he loves. While Tsuchidana’s “Stage Series…” a collection of abstract expressionist paintings, is celebrated for the use of straight lines that divide the canvas, Harry’s journey as an artist was hardly a straight path.

 

I was born in Waipahu . . . May 28, 1932. And I was born with an asthma, so I couldn’t play with rest of the other kids. So, I start to trace comics.

 

Tell me what your parents did for a living, how you were raised, what—

 

We had—

 

–were they like.

 

Yeah; we had a farm…we raised uh, eggplant and uh, bitter melon. That’s what we raised. And … my mother was a very strong—they were illiterate, they couldn’t write or read their own language. But they were strong-willed, and uh, religious too. And she always stopped and pray. So, I said to her, Did you pray for me? She said, You’re the first one. I remember that.

 

I understand for much of your life, your mother only raised you; single mom.

 

Yes.

 

Your dad had left.

 

Yeah.

 

What was that like? ‘Cause a lot of kids at the time had both parents in the house.

 

Right. Well, uh, she wasn’t uh … she saw me doing artwork, and she said to me, Do like—what you like to do best. And I—and she never said anything about the bottom line, how you’re gonna make a living. She said, As long as you like what you’re doing, that’s the most important thing.

 

 

And brother, sister?

 

I have a brother. And my sister left, you know, so just my brother and I, and my mother were there. So, uh, yeah, we worked on the farm. I always wanted to be an artist. Always. I told everybody I going be an artist. You know, so—

 

And what did they say to you?

 

I don’t know. They did better grade than me. I didn’t do too much grade in art, you know. Because I thought I was better than the instructor.

 

In art?

 

Yeah. That’s not a good thing to do. Yeah.

 

So, you didn’t get good grades in art?

 

In other works too. Yeah. But it didn’t bother me.

 

M-hm.

 

Yeah. Grade didn’t feel that I should … grade didn’t determine me, how good I am. You know. So …

 

You just always felt that you had this talent, and you were going to use it.

 

Right; yeah. Well, it’s really tenacity. You know, stick-to-it-ive. I was intrigued by uh, creating by adding and eliminating. You know. I did a—there was a landscape, and there were and there were junk trees, and there were nothing on the land. So, I just turned around and looked, and there was a mango tree. So, I put the mango tree there. So, I could move things. And that’s the thing that fascinated me. In fact, when I was seventh grade, I did a tree, Waipahu Elementary School. The tree is still there. I did a red and blue background. And the teacher said to me—her name was Mrs. Wong, she said, That’s not a tree. But, I said, that’s my tree.

 

Just as Harry Tsuchidana saw more than the literal tree, his vision for the future went beyond the eggplant and bittermelon crops in Waipahu. So what’s next for a young man who dreams of being an artist? How about the United States Marine Corps?

 

Now, tell me why you joined the Marines. That’s tough guy land; right? I mean … and tough women now, but …

 

Yeah.

 

Why Marines?

 

I saw a movie called Halls of Montezuma, with John Payne and Maureen O’Hara. It wasn’t like the movie at all. It was like Cool Hand Luke.

 

Really? So, you enjoyed the Marines?

 

I—I served only two years, you know. But uh, well, yeah, I really liked Marines. I developed alligator skin, you know. And uh …

 

Why did you develop alligator skin?

 

Because, you know, being the kid from Waipahu, you’re sensitive, everybody says something, you get hurt by it. You know, in the—in the service, you know, they kid you around, and you know, you develop that. You know. When I was stationed in Japan, in the enlisted men club, this person in charge said, You should have a show. I did some artwork. An—and then, I got a note from a second lieutenant saying that, You shouldn’t be in the infantry. You know, you should be in GS2. So, he transferred me. That changed my whole life, that second lieutenant.

 

Because you were made a GS?

 

Yeah. You know. And well, in the enlisted men club, there was a library there, and in that library they had a art in America. In the back of that art in America, they had all the list of art school, and I wrote to every one of ‘em. Rhode—Rhode Island School, California there was one, Chicago Institute. I wrote to National Academy in D.C.

 

Harry Tsuchidana was accepted at the National Academy, which helped him get settled in Washington DC. A short time later, Tsuchidana enrolled at the Corcoran School of Art. But it was while Tsuchidana was at the National Academy that he met an unlikely tutor who directed him to study the work and creative techniques of some prominent French painters.

 

There was uh, uh, a gallery named uh … Phillips Gallery. And there was a man, the doorman, you know, when you walk in, they click you. And he and I became good friends, and he taught me everything I know today. He said, When you look at—when you do artwork, measure the eye distance from here to here, from here to here, from here t—to here, and to study Pierre Bonnard. Because underneath all that color has the geometrical shape. And study Cezanne.

 

I think he was a dark Italian or Armenian. He knew everything, but he couldn’t paint. But he knew … what artist for me to study. He said, Study Seurat; he discovered the white light. If you—if you have the primary colors projected through a pinhole, it will create white. He taught me all those—uh, uh, as a … just coming out from the Marine Corps an—and uh, uh … all these things that they don’t teach you in school.

 

The indirect line that Harry Tsuchidana was following was beginning to straighten. The doorman directed Tsuchidana to seek out abstract painter Karl Knaths, with whom Harry became close friends. By chance, Tsuchidana befriended another abstract artist, Hans Hofman. Tsuchidana’s formal arts education was being supplemented with real-world advice and relationships with noted artists in the Washington D.C. area. Then one night, Harry Tsuchidana had a surreal moment…He believes that his late sister, who had died in an auto accident, spoke to him as he walked alone one evening.

 

I felt that the sister that died in 1945 is my guiding angel. I think she’s the one that talked to me in D.C. when I’m crossing the street. Move.

 

Go to New York.

 

Yeah; I think she’s the one that did it. I’m sure she’s the one.

I lived close to the White House, and I was crossing one night the Pennsylvania Avenue to go home at uh, was—at Lafayette Park. And a voice came to me, crossing the street. It said, You’ve gotta leave to New York. And I’m talking to the voice. I said, How I’m gonna do it? He said, Write it down, what you’re gonna do. You know. And put—put a sign on the bulletin board in school that you’re looking for a ride to go there. And someone wanted my apartment, so was everything he can—everything to take me to New York.

 

But you hadn’t finished art school.

 

No. That was—yeah, that’s right; I didn’t finish art school. First day in New York …, I see this guy. Hey, you’re from Hawai‘i. That was Jerry Okimoto. First day in New York. And uh, and h—he wrote his phone number into my—and that was also the key to go to the place that all the artists lived. And uh, and that’s how I got to meet all the artists.

 

They were all living in the same—

 

Building.

 

–building.

 

Yeah. Isami Doi was on third floor, Tadashi Sato was in the next unit, uh, Satoru Abe was on the fourth floor. You know, so Bob Oshikuru was on the first floor.

 

At the time, did you know that there was this small movement of Japanese Americans from Hawai‘i to New York? Did you know that?

 

I didn’t know that.

 

And you ended there, too, with them.

 

Yeah.

 

As one of the youngest.

 

Yeah; I was the youngest. I didn’t know; it just was there.

 

Artists following their muse, I guess.

 

Yeah. Uh, uh … amazing, how it turned out to be. Being the youngest, I was more of a listener and observer than a contributor. You know. And I learned a lot from them.

 

What did you learn?

 

Well … Isami Doi had an uncanny way of looking at art. He was very. And he had that view. Lot of the landscape had that view. And uh … uh … gotta say Sato was uh … I liked the way he used uh … uh, the form, and the space, and color. And uh, uh … Satoru Abe did the sculpture, he did the form, the intricate moving form that that sometimes I apply in my work as well. And Jerry … to me, he combined op—op art and … uh, pop art together. You know. And that’s—what a combination, he did that.

 

What about personality wise? How did you guys get along? What did you talk about?

 

Uh, well, we played cards a lot; Pinochle uh, and there was the corner bar, John’s bar, and we used to drink there often. You know. So, uh …

 

Well, these were the 50s, the mid-50s.

 

Yeah.

 

What was it like for a Japanese guy from Hawai‘i to be living there with other Asians? How did—

 

You know, I never—

 

Was there prejudice?

 

Yeah; I never thought of that, you know. I never thought that I was Asian and they were—you know. Uh, we just were there.

 

LESLIE UPPER #4:

You may have heard the phrase, “nature versus nurture” in the debate over which has more of an influence on how we’re shaped…our genetic makeup or our environment. In the case of abstract artist Harry Tsuchidana, his environment was clearly nurturing him as an artist…from his formal and informal education all the way to the guys with whom he played pinochle. He began expressing himself through photography and printmaking. And to make ends meet, Harry, as most struggling artists do, took a night job.

 

It was perfect for me to be at Museum of Modern Art.

 

What did you do at the Museum of Modern Art?

 

I was a night watchman.

 

You were the night watchman? Did they know you were an artist as well?

 

Uh, yeah, I’m sure. Uh, the personnel director, Anita Baldwin was because a lot of Hawaii artists were there, working there. And they had a good reputation of being a good worker.

 

I see. And so, at night, as watchman, you roamed the museum—

 

Yeah.

 

–looking at art?

 

I’m looking at art. And there was one time when Pablo Picasso had a show there. Lot of times, the janitors are Black people or Spanish, and they were discussing Pablo Picasso’s work. Yeah.

 

And so, you discussed it with them?

 

No; I just let them, you know, go. But I can watch the curator setting up a show. Lot of work. They tear down the wall, paint the color for the paintings. Oh, lot of work.

 

And what was your plan at that time?

 

To get married. Well, no. I don’t know; I just uh, uh … the excitement of being there, you know.

 

And you were working on art on the side?

 

Yeah, al—always painting.

 

Always?

 

Yeah.

 

Always.

 

It was after World War II that abstract art expressionism gained popularity in America, with artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and the aforementioned Hans Hofmann leading the movement.   Loosely defined as a style in which the artist conveys emotion through non-traditional means, abstract expressionism had its center in New York City. Harry Tsuchidana’s early abstract expressionist works had nature themes, with organic shapes. His later paintings, most notably his Stage Series, took on a whole different style.

 

 

What kind of art had you been doing all this time? You started when you were a little kid, and going through the Marines—

 

Mm.

 

–I’m sure you didn’t stop.

 

Yeah.

 

What kind of art had you been doing?

 

Nature motif, like weed it out uh, uh, sprouting. But in nineteen s—seventy-nine, I depart from that. I did uh, uh, uh, stage series. Maybe—can I demonstrate?

 

Sure.

 

I think it be a good time to do it.

 

Stage series; so, non-nature.

 

Non-nature. And uh, it’s uh … uh … uh, uh, I’m … okay. Now, this is … okay. This … uh, let’s see. Usually, I use T-square, but this will do. Okay. This … this distance here … took me a while to get that distance. The early ones, I made it higher. You see. This is eye level right here. So, my view is right here. This one is right there. And the vertical line … randomly, I put this here.

 

So, you’re actually drawing this, and people would look off the paper. I mean, you’re directing eyes off the paper—

 

Yes.

 

Above.

 

Yeah, above; yeah. Yes. Okay. Constantly, I’m aware of the distance. Constantly. Okay. Now, there’s two areas right there, and there’s another area. I’m breaking the space.

 

Hm.

 

That’s what it is. There’s an area there. Now, this is where the—right here … okay. I have a T-square at home—

 

M-hm.

 

–that my mother-in-law, when she passed away, was in that room.

 

Oh …

 

I use that every day. Okay. Now, this is the angle, right here. This is the angle. And you put another vertical line here … yeah, this. I did this ’79. To this day, I still do it. It fascinates me. And this angle right there. So, constantly moving. Dave Shoji do this every day; right? This way, he shift things. Yeah. So …

 

When he considers what to do in his volleyball games, you mean?

 

Yeah. You know, the way he look at things from an angle.

 

I see.

 

Same thing applies. It applies to—it applies to you; right?

 

Three-sixty looking at things, you mean?

 

Yes; yeah.

 

Except yours is on a linear plane.

 

Yes; yeah. Okay; this—this where it comes. After a while, I don’t think like that; I just do it. You know, so …

 

So, you’re trying to get people to look at, quote, all the angles.

 

Yeah; all the angles. And the color … uh … then that’s—that’s another level. You know, because you create a sensation when you put color next to each other.

 

I have alienated lot of people by doing the stage series.

 

Why is that?

 

Because there’s no handle. There’s no representation. So, uh, so just look at the lines. They don’t know what it is; right? So … so, that’s why it was important for me to demonstrate on that, to see the angle. So …

 

I’m sorry. I don’t understand when you say there’s no handles.

 

Yeah. Handle mean there’s no representation that you can say, Oh, that’s what uh, that—that’s a tree, or you know, whatever. So, the uh … the uh … uh, stage series, you know, there is no handle; it’s just lines.

 

So, you weren’t trying to make your art friendlier to the user.

 

Yes.

 

Right?

 

Right.

 

And why is that?

 

I don’t—

 

You figure, that’s my business, not yours?

 

Right. And I can reach more people, I felt applies to more people, the stage series. You know. Uh, and …

 

You can reach more people, even though they don’t know what you’re going for? Or were you trying to reach a different kind of person?

 

Yeah. Well, I don’t know. I just did it, uh … hoping that they will see what I’m doing. You know.

 

Harry Tsuchidana moved back to Hawai‘i for a short time, then to Los Angeles, finally moving back to Hawai‘i for good in 1972. By this time, the Bohemian artist, while still following his passion, had a family to support…his wife, Violet, and his son, Grant. And while Violet provided a steady paycheck by teaching, Tsuchidana worked a variety of jobs to help provide for his family.

 

Now, you became a father along the way.

 

Uh, uh, that’s when we came back from New York, 19—

 

How did that change you, having a son?

 

Well, I did all kind of uh, jobs to support him. Because my wife, you know, was schoolteacher, but she didn’t work, you know, for couple of years.

 

Well, tell me about your wife and how she felt about being married to an artist.

 

She was very supportive. In fact, she—you know, she was a schoolteacher, and she’s the one that supported me. And that’s the work that you see there. And she said, you know, Keep an eye on the ball, you know…so, she did … big help to me.

 

Because you didn’t go out promoting your work, and selling yourself. You—

 

Yeah.

 

You did art. That’s what you did.

 

Yes.

 

You’re more of a purist.

 

Well … well, thank you for saying that. Yeah; I just created, you know.
And I didn’t ask anybody for help. I did all—I did um, about seven job in one year. And my mother-in-law said to me, Gee, I didn’t know you knew many things.

 

What kind of jobs did you do?

 

Kamaboko.

 

At a factory?

 

Yeah.

 

Kamaboko factory?

 

All the—all the kamaboko factory. Um, uh—

 

What did you do at the factory?

 

You know the kamaboko, you cut the end. You cut the end. And Tupperware; I was—you know, the warehouse, stack the thing. And uh, um, Waikiki, there was—oh, I work as a dishwasher. And uh, what else I did? I did all kinda things. Yeah.

 

Did you … enjoy all of them?

 

I did. I had fun doing that.

 

Really?

 

I was exterminator at Sheraton Hotel.

 

Pest exterminator?

 

Yeah; exterminator.

 

Uh, you know, about one or two o’clock in the morning, the chef prepare for the next day. They put the salt, pepper. Ajinomoto, at the time, they used to put. Okay. And that gave me the idea that I put all the primary colors mixed together, and then take from there, and put a white … and mix the white. And all the colors will mix with the white, has all the colors. And that’s how I got the idea, from the chef.

 

But you know, when I was um, at the uh, Sheraton Hotel wor—working, two o’clock in the morning, I pushing the uh, fogger. And I’m thinking, One day, I’m gonna have a studio, and one day I’m gonna have a—you know, just paint. Walking three o’clock in the morning, and I still had that dream.

 

Still.

 

Yeah.

 

Harry Tsuchidana finally got that studio…he bought a condo unit for his family in Salt Lake on Oahu, and also bought a second unit to serve as his studio. Fittingly, a sale of his art to the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts helped to pay for the condo units. He also had some very handy real estate advice from land developer and art lover, the late Pundy Yokouchi.
You lived in New York, you lived in L.A. And when you came back to Hawaii, how did you decide to live?

 

Well, I was very lucky to get the condo. You know.

 

How did you get the condo?

 

Uh—

 

In Salt Lake; right?

 

Yeah; in Salt Lake. I knew that when I was in L.A. Uh, Pundy told me that they’re gonna develop a condo in Salt Lake. And he said, Well, you gotta wait. When you come back, you have to rent a place, and then … you know, to get that Salt Lake. That … that architect of that building … was my wife uh, classmate husband, Mike Suzuki.

 

And you do art every day?

 

Every day.

 

Do you have a regular schedule?

 

Not a schedule. It’s uh … uh, I have a coffee, I read the paper first, and then coffee, and then did that. And watch TV later on. Okay.

 

Mm. So, you don’t wait for inspiration; you’re already working.

 

That’s Hollywood. Hollywood wait for inspiration. I chase the buggah. I don’t wait for the inspi—I come to them.

 

Do you think you’re still getting better at art?

 

I—I … uh, Bumpei Akaji once said to me, I’m over-productive, but I always believe that the more you do, the more you evolve. You know. And I feel I’m getting better, and better. Even though some people don’t think about it, but that’s okay. Just getting better, and better.

 

But you have the process, too.

 

Yeah; process.

 

So, is it more about the outcome, or the process.

 

It’s the process. You know, the Eastern philosophy is not hitting the target; it’s getting the bow and arrow, and let go.

 

M-hm.

 

You know. And then, the—uh, and the … uh, the scientific perspective is this way. But the East is this way. As you get older, you get wiser. Bigger.

 

Famed artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Harry Tsuchidana, who, as a young boy, drew his tree, grew up and remained an artist…one who found happiness and the admiration and respect of his peers and the public in doing what he loves, and who still wakes up every morning and “chases the buggah.” Mahalo to Harry Tsuchidana of Salt Lake on Oahu for sharing his story. And mahalo nui loa to you for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

You know, you said you developed an alligator hide when you were in the Marines ‘cause of all the put-downs.

 

Yeah.

 

Have you developed that in art? When people don’t care—

 

Oh, yeah.

 

–much about—

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

–this or that.

 

Yeah. I—yeah, I learned to cope with that. Yeah. In fact, when people insult me, say, you know, they don’t like my work, I shake their hand, you know. I—

 

Do they actually say that to you? They don’t like your work.

 

 

Yeah. At my home my home. And one, you know, at—uh, at the show. So, I shake their hand. I said, I’m sorry I caused you a problem.

 

[END]

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
James Kauahikaua

 

James Kauahikaua has witnessed some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring spectacles as a geophysicist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Hawai‘i Island. While his research frequently leads him dangerously close to molten hot magma, a dire cancer diagnosis may have been his most humbling encounter yet.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Sept. 81 at 4:00 pm.

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I always liked puzzles, figuring out how things worked, why they worked, and I like the outdoors. Although, I was encouraged by my parents to do things like collections. You know, stamp collections and coin collections, and things. I tried to collect rocks for a while, but that got kind of boring in Hawai‘i, because there are not that many different kinds of rocks. And at that time, if you bought a book that identified rocks, they were all mainland rocks, and maybe one would be a basalt from the volcano. And you say, Ah, that’s what we have.

 

You might say James Kauahikaua’s passion for collecting things as a kid became a foundation for his profession. Today, he gathers data about Hawai‘i’s volcanos. Volcanologist and cancer survivor, James Kauahikaua, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Hawai‘i is home to some of the largest and most active volcanos on earth, and Hilo resident James Kauahikaua is close to the action. Kauahikaua, who studied geology and geophysics, works for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory, which monitors Hawai‘i two most active volcanos, Kilauea with its Puu Oo eruption going strong since January 1983, and Mauna Loa, as well as two less active volcanos, Hualalai and Maui’s Haleakala. More than three decades after he started studying lava flows and eruptions, Kauahikaua is still fascinated by what he gets to do for a living. A Big Islander for many years, Kauahikaua grew up on Oahu in the Windward community of Kailua.

 

What was Kailua like then, as compared to the bustling metropolis it seems to be now?

 

Yeah; I don’t remember a whole lot about it, except from photos my parents had. And like all new neighborhoods, there was no vegetation, no hedges, no trees or anything. There were just these tract houses. We lived in Kuulei Tract, which is right around what is now, I think, Kailua Intermediate School. And we were a block and a half from the beach or so when I was old enough, we could do that.

 

Why did your parents pick Kailua? Was there a family connection to that area?

 

No. It was, I think, just new. My parents, when they were married, I think they lived in Nuuanu. And they moved after I was born, but it was like the first year. But I think it was just a new area opening up, you know, they decided to take the plunge, and maybe they could buy a house. The Kuulei Tract, I think, started in 1950 or ’51, and I was born in 1951.

 

What kind of Hawaiian background did your family employ? What was that like for you? Did you have a Hawaiian household? You’re of multiple ethnicities.

 

Right. I’m German from my mom’s side, and Hawaiian-Chinese from my dad’s side. And I’ve thought about that a lot. I think we had basically, your basic suburban household that just happened to have multiple ethnicities. About the only Hawaiian culture thing was, we’d go visit my grandfather out in Haleiwa every couple of weeks, maybe. Long drive, or course, at that time. And, you know, many of my uncles and other cousins would be around, and that was actually pretty interesting. The luau’s, you know, you’d get all the really good stuff, the opihi and many, many delicacies. But yeah, I was never steeped in culture. I never joined a halau, I never felt the need or the desire to join a halau. But I’ve always been fascinated at that field. And so, I kind of think of myself, I guess, as an academic Hawaiian. I love to learn all about what Hawai‘i was like in the 19th century and before, ‘cause that explains a great deal of how we got where we are, I think.

 

James Kauahikaua was glad for the chance to be exposed more to the Hawaiian culture when he transferred in the seventh grade to the Kamehameha Schools in Kapalama. But when he reached high school in the late 1960s, he found himself at odds with a different kind of culture on campus, the ROTC military environment, and strict requirements for boys.

 

At the time, I think they had just gone co-ed in high school. But for the boys, there was still mandatory ROTC. So, we all had to wear uniforms every day, had to parades couple times a year. And it was a military institute, they were very proud to say. We had to wear these little red pins that said it was a military institute. It was not just like your regular ROTC. I guess it’s because we had to wear the uniforms, and we had to always be in uniform, you had to had to polish all your brass, had to keep your hair—you know, all that sort of stuff. Polish your shoes. None of those things interested me, and I was not good at any of them. And so, throughout my four years in high school at Kamehameha, I was never even probably considered for promotion once. You know, it’s like the military; you get to be a corporal, then sergeant, or whatever. And I just stayed a buck private the entire time. But you also got demerits if you didn’t polish your brass, or you didn’t wear your hat outside, or you wore your hat indoors. You know, all breaking rules. And I got a lot of demerits.

 

Were you trying to, or were you just hapless?

 

Hapless would be a kind word for it.

 

But were you trying to get into trouble? Were you making a statement?

 

No; it wasn’t important to me.

 

But you weren’t used to suffering consequences. You’d been a good student, and a good kid.

 

Yeah. No; academically, I was good. But at that time … in fact, I think they called my parents in a couple times, ‘cause I was doing so poorly on the military end that I could have been kicked out. But I wasn’t. But for every demerit that I got, I had to march around the ball field for twenty-five minutes after school. And so, ultimately, I couldn’t do anything else after school.

 

‘Cause you were busy doing your—

 

I couldn’t join sports or anything.

 

You were serving your sentence.

 

I think you could march four of them an afternoon, so only two hours’ worth, you know.

 

So, I don’t understand. So, after you’d done that a few times, wouldn’t you stop getting the demerits? Wouldn’t you say, I’d better, you know, polish my brass, or … no?

 

It just wasn’t that important. That’s all I can say.

 

Despite all of those demerits, James Kauahikaua graduated from the Kamehameha Schools with good grades. He went on to college at the University of Southern California, and later Pomona College, where he majored in geology. He moved back home to Hawai‘i to earn his master’s degree and doctoral degree.

 

Geologists look at what’s on the surface, and infer what’s happening at depth from that. And geophysicists can do a bit better than that in terms of determining what’s under the surface. So, I decided to do that. When I went to graduate school, I went as a geophysicist.

 

So, you’re closing in now on volcanoes. How did you close that gap?

 

So, I went to school as a geophysicist at UH Manoa at a time when you had to get a master’s first, and then a PhD. And so, I got a master’s working on this big project called The Hawai‘i Geothermal Project. Their goal was to try to discover likely resource areas within the state, and one of the ways we were doing that was with electrical geophysical techniques. So, we did that mostly on the Big Island, but some on Maui and Oahu. That got me interested in that, and then when I finished my master’s, I was offered a minority internship with the U.S. Geological Survey. And that’s at the time when they were still doing affirmative action through hires. And so, I worked with them in Denver in a group that was doing electromagnetic studies. They were working out methods to use the techniques and all that.

 

So, did you have trouble catching on there at first?

 

No, actually. I just came in at a time with a set of skills that was what they needed at that time, you know, being interested in electromagnetic methods of detection of subsurface. And at that time, they were studying how the lava lake in Kilauea Iki was cooling. It erupted in fountains in 1959, and it filled up an old crater, so there was quite a good thickness of molten lava that was just sitting there and cooling. And so, electromagnetically, we could watch it shrink, sort of guide drill holes into the lava to take samples and things. And because I’d had that computer background from college, I was able to write computer programs that were able to interpret that data in a way that hadn’t been done before. So, it was just a good fit. I was very lucky.

 

A few years later, James Kauahikaua was hired as a staff scientist at the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory at Kilauea on Hawai‘i Island. As a volcanologist, he studies past and present eruptions and flows, mostly on Kilauea, where an amazing bountiful eruption has been sending out lava since 1983. Kauahikaua’s job sometimes puts him dangerously close to the molten flow.

 

Often, we want to get pretty close so we can, you know, say, measure the velocity or something, the speed at which the lava is flowing in the tube.   And you never do that by yourself. You always have somebody around watching you, making sure you don’t slip or, you know, something.

 

You’ve seen in the field those fountain domes. I’ve only see pictures of them. What is that like?

 

They’re quite loud, actually. They’re coming out under gas pressure. And I think the one I’ve worked closest with is when Puu Oo was sort of split on one side, and there was lava coming out in fairly large amounts. But it was all confined, you know, where it was very clear it was downhill at that point, so we could watch it at a fairly close distance and make measurements. There was another time where the whole lava supply kinda stopped for a while, but then, it abruptly started again, and lava came back into this tube. And it came back in, in such a large amount that lava was coming out of the skylight in a very nice dome fountain. And so, once we got back out there, the dome fountain was going, it was clearly a much larger amount of lava going through there than before. So, I had to measure it. So, I got up there right at the edge of the fountain. Itt was upslope of the fountain, so everything was flowing away from me, and I was able to get that number, and it turned out to be some incredible amount, like eight or ten times what it had been before the lava supply had shut off. And you know, it eventually, died off within a few hours. But that was incredible. That was very noisy, the ground was vibrating the whole time.

 

What are some of the stories you have of being out there with those fiery elements?

 

Before I became scientist in charge, one of my specific projects was trying to understand lava tubes, how the conduit forms within a flow, and then how that evolved. And so, I would spend a lot of time around skylights, places that collapsed into the lava tubes. You can watch the lava flowing in there. It flows pretty fast, sometimes few tens of miles per hour, depending on the size of the tube. But it’s very quiet. And there was one time I wanted to make observations over three days, three days and nights. And so, I was out there with the bats at night, and it was just so quiet. It was sort of like watching paint flow, you know, ‘cause it’s slightly viscous. But it was just really quiet, but obviously, very hot. Beautiful; just incredibly beautiful. And at other times, you’re in a position around, say, an aa flow or something, where you do need to pay attention to what it’s doing very carefully, ‘cause you want to be making some measurements close to it, but you have to figure out what the lava flow is going to do before, you know, while you’re up there.

 

And you’re out there alone?

 

Well, I’m out there alone sometimes. But usually, I try to have somebody else there.

 

Is there any downplaying how dangerous this is?

 

It’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. And you wouldn’t walk up to any of these flows if you didn’t know something about what they’re gonna do.

 

So, while there certainly are hazards that come with being a volcanologist, James Kauahikaua’s scariest moments in life have had nothing to do with his job.

 

One morning, after I’d been up to Mauna Loa, I woke up, and all of a sudden, I had double vision. And so, you know, obviously, I went to see a doctor. But in the meantime, I still had to do my job, and so, I had to drive around for a while an eye patch on, like a pirate, you know, so I only got one eye and see one image. And it took a while. I saw a couple of doctors, got an MRI of my head, and all that sort of stuff. And after a few misdiagnoses, in January of 2003, I was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. There was a tumor just under the brain, behind the nasopharynx, which is how your nose connects with your throat. I had a lot of support of one or two neighbors who were doctors were, you know, kind of advising us. ‘Cause you’re getting a cancer diagnosis, you’re immediately overwhelmed. It’s scary, you don’t know exactly what to do, what’s the best thing to do first, and all this. And there were a lot of people that really helped us out. And so, almost immediately, started chemo and radiation.

 

What stage was the cancer in at that point?

 

It was uh, 4A. It had …

 

Advanced; it was advanced.

 

It had metastasized, but way in the like, neck area, I think. So, there was still hope. I fortunately got to see Dr. Clayton Chong, who’s also a Kamehameha graduate, and John Lederer, who’s a radiologist, and they prescribed … well, the chemo almost killed me, as Dr. Chong likes to laugh about.

 

So anyway, they did I don’t know how many chemo treatments and forty or fifty radiation treatments, and they finally licked it. I’m in remission. I’ve been remission since late 2003. And you know, my chances even then were pretty good to last for five years, but now, it’s been, you know, eleven, twelve years, and I’m still feeling pretty good. I don’t get checked nearly as often, which is kind of nice. But you never get rid of it, as Dr. Lederer told me. I asked him one time, Well, how do I know, you know, when I’m over cancer, when I’m done with cancer? He said, Well, you’ll know for sure when you die of something else.

 

Scientists have a way of saying things.

 

Oh, that’s really positive.

 

Did it do some damage in your body? The cancer.

 

Well, the cancer didn’t, but the treatment did. It damaged my hearing, my hearing nerve. It wasn’t obvious. They told me it was gonna happen. And it wasn’t obvious at first, you know, the first six or seven years. But then, I slowly did start to lose my hearing. And so, at this point, I have to wear hearing aids, and even then, it’s a pretty profound hearing loss in the higher frequency. So, when I’m talking to somebody, I have to watch their lips to get the consonants. ‘Cause like S and F sounds the same. Even when I say it, it sounds the same. But you know, I’m alive, I survived, I’m happy. I just can’t hear very well.

 

After getting past cancer, James Kauahikaua applied for the top job at the Volcano Observatory. He became Scientist In Charge in 2004. During nearly eleven years of management before stepping back to refocus on his research, Kauahikaua installed a lot more technology, including webcams that show flows and eruptions in real time. He also improved communication with the community, and was the go-to guy for timely updates when the Big Island town of Pahoa was threatened by a long traveling lava flow in 2014 and 2015.

 

You were called on to predict when it would stop.

 

You know, I’ve been through enough of these things that, you know, I realize that we’re limited. We can say a lot about what the lava flow’s gonna do, or you know, the possible consequences and things. But there’s just a limit to it; we can’t answer everybody’s questions. There were people that would come up to us and say, Well, you know, I was planning to go to California in two weeks, and I live right here; should I go?

 

You know, we can provide you the information so you can make the decision, but … you know. And we made an attempt to sort of forecast how fast the lava would get to the highway, say. But every time we did that, we would be wrong. And we would be wrong in the public’s eyes, which was very important. The way we would say it is, If the lava flow kept advancing at this rate, it would be at the highway in seven days, or whatever. And all they would remember is, it’ll be at the highway in seven days. And that didn’t happen, therefore, we were wrong. But the statement was accurate. And so, we didn’t communicate that properly, I think. But I’m not sure how we’re gonna do better the next time.

 

I remember there were people saying, You’ve gotta build some kind of barrier, you’ve gotta stop this thing. And others were saying, No, you can’t stop the flow, because it’ll have other repercussions. Where were you on that?

 

We did provide a lot of background, ‘cause that’s one of our functions. Hawai‘i actually has a fairly long history of diversion attempts. None of them have been hugely successful. So, you know, we can kinda look at that and say, Well, we don’t want to do that, or do anything else. One of the factors, I think, that went into it was the fact that this eruption had been going on for thirty-three years, thirty-two years at that point. And so, if we divert this flow, this eruption’s not gonna stop, it’s gonna continue. And so, does that change the way the government then looks at it? What about the next flow? Does that mean that kinda guarantee we’re gonna have to divert that? Or you know, I’m guessing that from the County government’s point of view, the question of investment or whatever, you know, what is it gonna cost, is it really gonna be effective? And ultimately, I think the whole thing was decided by a statement from the Mayor, and he said that he wasn’t gonna make any decisions until it was very clear what the outcome would be. And you know, that’s something we can again go back to history and say what has been done in the past, but nobody can be sure of what the outcome would be.

 

Why has that flow been going for more than thirty years?

 

That’s a very good question.

 

You don’t know the answer?

 

No. It’s been going long enough that the people that I started working have retired, and that’s been their whole career. And in that time, we’ve all guessed. Well, you know, we’ve made guesses about what’s going to shut the eruption off. Could it be a big earthquake, you know, shifts the plumbing around, and kind of cuts the magma supply off. Any number of things. And all of those things have happened, and there’s just been no effect. You know, we’ve had several larger earthquakes, magnitude five and six, and … nothing.

 

I always feel that everyone in Hawai‘i who can, should go look at it, because you know, even though it’s been going for so very long, many people haven’t made it out there. And it’s something that you may never see again.

 

Oh, absolutely.

 

For those of us lay people.

 

I agree, totally. You know, that’s how our islands were formed, it’s a rare thing to be able to see. And access isn’t great right at the moment, but it has been really excellent in the past. And just to see the glow from the summit vent now, the one that opened in 2008, I see that every morning as I drive in. It’s incredible. This is from a lava lake that’s, you know, glowing so much and putting out so much gas, that you know, you can see that it’s lit up by a lava light. You know, how incredible is that?

 

What have you learned in your studies about what’s happening with volcanic activity in Hawai‘i now, and what the prospects are for future activity?

 

It looks like Kilauea goes through centuries of explosive activity, and then centuries of effusive activity. And within the explosive centuries, there may be a few lava flows; within the lava flow centuries there might be a few explosions. But in general. And so, when you realize that, and you think that maybe Hawaiian volcanoes in general do this, not just Kilauea, but Kilauea is important because there’s so much right on and near the summit of Kilauea that it’s possible, and it’s certainly likely that at some point, Kilauea will go back into being an explosive volcano. Which has big ramifications for our building and the Parks Service, and the people that live close by. So, you know, if you’d asked me that question, say, fifty years ago, I would have just talked about the possibility of future lava flows impacting communities and things. And now, there’s this possibility of a resumption of explosive activity. And these are fairly large explosions. It would probably affect air traffic, at least into the Big Island, if not into Honolulu too, because it would throw up ash and things much higher than the volcanoes themselves. They’d be troublesome.

 

James Kauahikaua stepped down as Scientist In Charge in 2015. At the time of our conversation in 2016, he’s at the Observatory doing research, which he says he enjoys a lot more than managing. And he likes to volunteer, sharing the wonder of volcanos with Hawaiian children in the enrichment program, Na Pua Noeau. Mahalo to volcanologist and cancer survivor, James Kauahikaua of Hilo for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

You know, sometimes, you don’t know how important somebody is in your life, until much later. As you look back, who’s been the most influential in your life? People.

 

I would be remiss not to mention my wife, Jeri Gertz. She’s very much a people person, always looking for fun things to do and stuff, which I can’t say is my strong suit.

 

So, we make a good team, I think. But she inspires me every day.

 

How does she inspire you?

 

By being happy, you know, and finding the good things in everything.

 

[END]

 

AMERICAN MASTERS
Janis Joplin

 

Janis Joplin’s life story is told through intimate letters and rare footage in the first in-depth celebration of the iconic rock singer. Director Amy Berg presents a portrait of a complicated, driven, often beleaguered artist. Chan Marshall narrates.

 

AL CAPONE: Icon

 

His name sparks images of pin-stripe suits and bloody violence. To this day, Americans are fascinated by this celebrity gangster. Was Al Capone a self-made American man, a ruthless killer – or both?

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Holly Henderson

 

From the moment she arrived in Hawaii in 1977, Holly Henderson, a product of New York and Massachusetts, knew that she was home. But she has always thought of herself as a guest in Hawaii. This “guest” was once arrested while protesting the eviction of Hansen’s disease patients from Hale Mohalu, and since arriving here, she has trained innumerable executive directors and board members of Hawaii non-profits.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4:00 pm.

 

Holly Henderson Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

When I hit the world, it was the 60s, and we were looking at whole different model of what society was like, and what we wanted to be and do. People do focus on the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, and there was plenty of that. And I certainly am not gonna deny any of it. But I also remember how many serious people there were talking about issues and what we wanted to do, and what kind of world we wanted to live in, and how to make that kind of a world come about.

 

Holly Henderson came of age in the 1960s, a member of a generation that redefined values and spoke up for change. For decades, she has trained and advised nonprofit leaders in Hawaii. Holly Henderson, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Holly Henderson has trained nonprofit leaders in Hawaii for decades. Her social conscience serves her well in advising executive directors and members of boards of directors. She’s an original, known for wisdom and wit, and for speaking truth to power as needed. At the time of our conversation in the summer of 2015, Henderson was letting go of the reins of the Weinberg Fellows Program in which she taught executive directors of nonprofits serving the poor and needy. She continued to serve as the executive director of another nonprofit training and mentoring program with emphasis on early childhood program leadership, Castle Colleagues. She is keenly observant and analytical, perhaps as a result of her upbringing as the daughter of two scientists.

 

I was born in Stillwater, New York to Robert William Eric and Henry Hoskem Eric. And he was an anthropologist, and she was an archeologist.

 

Did they travel the world like in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

 

Yeah.   Actually, that was how they met. They met on a dig, which I think was in Turkey. And they did travel the world after that. And then, my mother came home to have my sister in 1939, when the war clouds were pretty much gathering, and I was born in 1941, two years later, three days before Pearl Harbor. So, my father was gone most of the time when I was a small child; he served in the Pacific, which was the first time he came to Hawaii.

 

And your father; was he more open and forthcoming?

 

Yes. I was my father’s pet. That is true; I was.

 

Because?

 

I could make him laugh. My start at standup comedy.

 

And your mom was an archeologist?

 

Yes, she was.

 

Wasn’t that uncommon at the time?

 

Yeah, it was. She was a biological sport, I think. And when I look at her family, I have no explanation for how that actually happened. ‘Cause she was born in 1908, you know, and there she was, photographing the steps of the acropolis as a young woman, as a young archeologist. But there was really a dark side to that, you know. The 50s were a terrible time for women. Because what happened during the war years is, the women had to basically run the country, because really, almost all the men were in that war. And actually, it was a wonderful opportunity for women to get out of the home and learn trades, and do things. But then, they all had to be stuffed back into the kitchen when the men came home.

 

Your mother could have gone back to work. No?

 

No; she was more complicated than that. She was caught, as so many of the women at that time were, between the idea of your own competence and your own interests, and all of that, and although she would never have wanted anything to do with Tammy Wynette, but that general philosophy, stand by your man and be the good little woman, and all that.

 

And commitment to family means staying at home.

 

Yeah. And it was just a very, very confusing time for women.

 

So, how was that bad for your mother? What was the effect on her?

 

She spent her whole life restless, I think. Because she had that wonderful education, she had that early career path, and never went anywhere.

 

Like her mother, Holly Henderson had a restless life in her younger years. She had a love of literature and a thirst for knowledge, but rejected the formality of prep school, and later, college.

 

It’s interesting to think of you not enjoying school, ‘cause you’re so literate. I mean, you love information and knowledge.

 

I loved to read, but I hated most of my schooling. Except for the last two years of high school.

 

Okay; so where did you go to school before the last two years? Was it at a dreary school?

 

It was an incredibly pretentious place. The kind of place where you called your French teacher mademoiselle. And we had gym tunics.

 

Gym tunics?

 

Yes.

 

And I remember you called it hideous.

 

It was.

 

I bet in the eyes of other people, it was this elite prep school?

 

Perhaps. But it didn’t do a thing for me, except cause me to think like a prisoner.

 

I don’t know how old you were, but along the way, and not early, you found out that you were German and Jewish on your dad’s side.

 

Yes. I was thirteen.

 

And considering the war that had been experienced, you know, it was odd that you didn’t know that.

 

Well, it’s obviously deliberate that I didn’t know that.

 

You know, at that time, it must have been so hard to grasp; German, Jewish. At the time.

 

It still is. It still is.

 

Did you finally find happiness in college?

 

No.

 

Never did?

 

Never did. Nope. Wanted to get out there in the big world.

 

Did you know where you wanted to be in the big world?

 

I knew I wanted to be a writer. My parents really encouraged us to do what we were drawn to, but to work hard at it. I mean, they weren’t overly permissive about it. They just wanted us to be who we are, and I give them a lot of credit for that.

 

And off to college. Where’d you go?

 

I went to Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and crashed to the ground because we had all been told since babyhood that the main goal in life is to get into a good college, and it was gonna be so wonderful. Well, compared to where I had just been, it wasn’t. And it was very common among the people at that school to think, Oh, I just picked the wrong college. So, we all transferred like crazy, trucked out, took leaves of absences. We were the bane of our parents’ existence, because college was a big comedown after that.

 

So, where’d you go? Or did you end up staying?

 

I went to New York University. I went to the new school, and I realized it wasn’t that I had picked the wrong place. I should have stayed in high school.

 

You should have stayed in high school.

 

In her early twenties, future nonprofit consultant Holly Henderson took a job at a respected national business membership organization, The Conference Board. She started out as an entry level typist, but a series of what she calls “flukey” events would quickly advance her career.

 

I actually was only working there, I guess, about a week or so. But the lady who ran the pool was interested that I was writing these stories. So one day, she came to me and she asked me if I could take dictation. So, I did, and I was able to do a version of it that passed her test. So, she took me to meet the controller of the company whose secretary had just quit. And when I walked into his office, his radio was on and was playing an aria. And I said, Oh, Puccini! And that was it. I mean, he wouldn’t have cared if I couldn’t type at all. The fact that I knew Puccini when I heard him was enough. So, I now left the pool within days of being hired, and I became his secretary, and then the following week they made him treasurer of the company. So, I was now an executive secretary. Picture this, ‘cause I was a hippie in those days; right? So, I had this long, straggly hair, and I had black tights with holes in them, and I was the bane of the actual executive secretaries. Oh! They thought that I was the most awful ruffian.

 

After her stint as an executive secretary, Holly Henderson became a reporter for The Conference Board’s publications. As the turbulent social issues of the 1960s swirled around her, she began to incorporate them into her articles.

 

So, I tried to get into it various pieces on social issues that were important to me, and discovered the most amazing thing. In the belly of the beast, there was this old guy who was there for the same reason.

 

Which was?

 

To begin to get them to think a little bit differently about social issues. And so, we colluded. I was in my twenties, and he was in his sixties or so. I would report on these conferences that they had, where they invited all the Fortune 500, and they had various speakers talking on various issues. And I would write in such a way that I would … I guess I was asking diabolical questions, now that you mention it. I would go up to the speakers afterwards and ask them some questions, and those would make it into the articles. And I remember one that was about the unreliability of lower income employees. And what they didn’t know was that those employees, first of all, had to cross gang territory to get to work. So, if there was a problem, they had to go around, and they were frequently late for work, and they got a bad reputation for that. But I was trying to show the other side of what was going in these people’s lives. So, things like that; I wrote about things like that.

 

Lasting marriage was not in the cards for Holly Henderson. However, her ill-fated relationships would lead Holly to discover Hawaii, which would become her home.

 

I did not know that you had three husbands before you got here.

 

I did, in fact. I mean, that was what I did. I was a slow learner.

 

Yeah; tell me about that. You were young. How old were you at the time you were married?

 

The first time I got married, I had just turned nineteen.

 

Oh …

 

And that was a marriage because of the morays of the times. I had drunk the Kool-Aid, I was a good girl. I wish I had already been a hippie at the time. Because I wouldn’t have married him, and that would have been a much better thing for both of us.

 

So, divorced, I take it.

 

Yes. That was the baby marriage. Yes.

 

But then, you also went through the deaths of two husbands.

 

Yes, I did.

 

Were those marriages happier?

 

I don’t know; they didn’t last very long. The first one died when we had been married for only about eight months.   And then, the second one … actually, when I married him, I was in therapy because I was anxious, and the therapist felt that this was because I was coming up on the eighth month, and that I was nervous about that. And then in the eighth month, he died of a heart attack.

 

Two husbands died at the eighth month?

 

Yes. So …

 

So, what was the effect on you?

 

It was like being hit in the head with an ax or something. Yeah. That’s not the sort of thing you expect is going to happen to you once, let alone twice. But your life goes on; that’s the amazing thing. There wasn’t a whole lot of money, but there was a little. And when somebody that you love dies, and there is money as a result, you feel like you should do something special with that. And what I did was, I traveled, and I went to a number of very interesting places. I was really happy that I got a chance to travel. But the last place that I had been before Hawaii, I had gotten hassled considerably because—I mean, this was fifty years and a hundred pounds ago, so … you know.

 

So, you were a single woman traveling alone.

 

I’m a single woman traveling alone. And I just wanted to go someplace where I could wander around and feel safe, and not be harassed. So, the first night that I spent in Hawaii was on Kauai, at Coco Palms.

 

When you were there, Grace Guslander owned it.

 

Actually, Amfac owned it.

 

Oh, she ran it. But didn’t she own it at one point?

 

Yeah. I think she and Gus did, her husband. But she was the most magic person. And I really think that I am in Hawaii today because of her. Because she managed to show people what Hawaii was really about. Which is interesting, because she did it while at the same time there were the hokey things, you know.

 

Yes. There’s a lot of hokey-ness in a sweet way about the old Coco Palms.

 

Yes.

 

With its channels of water, and its palm trees dipping into the water.

 

But that’s royal ground, you know, and she never forgot that it was.

 

How did she bring Hawaii home to you, the authentic Hawaii, from her tourist accommodations?

 

Oh, so many different ways. The staff at Coco Palms really was a family. And when you would go back year after year, they would whip out the pictures of their grandchildren, they would invite you to their homes. After I saw what Grace had shown me, I thought if I lived in Hawaii, it would make me a nicer person.

 

Did you think you weren’t nice? Not that nice?

 

I’m not.

 

You mean, you’re still not?

 

Well, I’m nicer.

 

It did sort of work.

 

Well, I mean—okay, I’m trying to figure out what you mean by that. Do you mean that you had a wicked sense of humor?

 

No.

 

Not that. You just were not a kind person?

 

Not the way someone who has been born and raised in this culture is.

 

After several visits to Hawaii during the 70s, Holly Henderson decided it was time to make the islands her home. In 1977, she quit her job at the United Church of Christ in New York, and made the move to Hawaii. She didn’t have a job, or even a plan, but Hawaii welcomed her. She secured a position that she called a perfect fit at a human services nonprofit organization.

 

There used to be a wonderful man named Wally Smith in this town. And he ran Health and Community Services Council, which later morphed into Hawaii Community Services Council. I got a job with them. And it was based on a model that came out of United Way of America, to train boards of directors on what their responsibilities should be. You see why this was such an ironic thing for me. Because up until that point, being on a board of directors was often just a sort of honorary thing. They weren’t really expected to do that much.

 

Names on the stationery.

 

Yeah. And at that point, it became important that they step up and know what they were supposed to do, and do it. So, my job initially was to train volunteers, and they were volunteers, to go into all sorts of organizations all over the islands and work with them, work with the boards of directors, so that it functioned on all the different islands. And I did that for many years. And it was while I was in that job that Harry Weinberg died, and Alvin Awaya was one of his trustees, and he thought from his kitchen cabinet ideas for what to fund initially. And the Weinberg Fellows Program came out of that. And then, Al Castle, who was involved in the early years of the Weinberg Fellows Program, and still is to this day, said, You know, we really should do something like this for early childhood centers. And so then, the Castle Colleagues Program came out of that.

 

Holly Henderson continues to train and refine the leaders of many nonprofit organizations in Hawaii.

 

And you’ve been minting nonprofit executives.

 

No, I haven’t been minting them. They come to me already minted. But the thing is that very few people, when they’re sitting outside playing with mud pies say, I’m gonna grow up and run a not-for-profit organization. And there are management responsibilities nonprofits have that sometimes they’re not prepared for. But I know the expectations of them are merciless. Because if you think about the model that we use in the Weinberg Fellows Program, and we look at the different areas that we’re talking about in terms of governance and board relations, HR, personnel issues, financial management, fundraising, planning, evaluation.

 

And your core mission.

 

Your core mission.

 

Besides that.

 

And vision and values at the center of it. And then, marketing and community relations. You tell me what human being is good at all of that.

 

I was one of your Weinberg Fellows.

 

Yes, you were.

 

And I was one of your Weinberg Fellows in the great recession. And I recall you had a board speaker come in, who turned out to be my board chair, Robbie Alm.

 

 

And I thought, Okay, this is the Fellows Program, this is going to be high level stuff. And what happened was, just profound simplicity. I think he came in and he said something like … You guys look terrible. How can you take care of an organization unless you take care of yourself?

 

 

And it’s true. You know, everybody was just kind of working really hard, and burning the candle at both ends, and apparently, we looked unkempt or something. I don’t know, but he called it right. And then, that’s the basis on which that particular Fellows session started. You chose that as the starting point.

 

M-hm.

 

Holly Henderson has a deep respect and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture. Throughout her nearly forty years in Hawaii, she has considered it a privilege and a joy to live here.

 

The word that’s important to me is, guest. I think of myself as a guest in Hawaii. And I have been here since 1977 as a guest, and I will die as a guest. Because there is etiquette involved in being a guest, that’s why that word is so important to me. You know. When you’re a guest, if you expect to be welcomed, you do not criticize what your host says, does, eats, drinks, values … what they believe, where they go to church, how they dress. You don’t try to change who they are; you try to adapt yourself to the way they live. That’s what a good guest does, I think. But the situation of native Hawaiians in their own land … it just breaks my heart. Whether they agree with each other or not is not the point. So, it’s important to me to do what I can, which isn’t a whole lot, but to try to speak up about it.

 

And you made a film?

 

I did make a film.

 

And that’s the subject of it.

 

That is the subject of it.

 

To remember that you’re a guest. You don’t come here and bulldoze your way around.

 

Yes. Because that’s what my people have been doing for a long, long, long, long time, and have no right to, in my view.

 

Nonprofit consultant Holly Henderson says that one of the most important moments in her life was being arrested. In 1983, Henderson stood up for the rights of Hansen’s Disease patients who were being evicted from a State housing complex called Hale Mohalu in Pearl City, Oahu. It was to be torn down, with patients offered quarters in Leahi Hospital in Honolulu. State agents forcibly evicted the residents, and Holly Henderson was arrested, along with seventeen other protestors.

 

I’m proud of it. I’m proud of it. Because I think there are times when you’ve tried everything else, and nothing has worked. You have to know that about yourself, that when the time comes, if you have to go to the mat, you will. Martin Luther King said something I really like. He said, If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. And you just have to know that when the time comes, you’ll stand up. It took eleven years from then ‘til when they broke ground for the new place in Pearl City, but it does stand as a testimonial that sometimes you do win, if you persist.

 

Holly Henderson was acquitted of the charges for her protest at Hale Mohalu. Her social conscience has not diminished with time; it is felt as she trains nonprofit leaders and consults with nonprofit boards of directors. And you will sometimes see her name on well-crafted letters to the editor about community issues. Mahalo to nonprofit consultant Holly Henderson of Honolulu for sharing your story with us. And thank you for joining us. For PBS Hawaii, and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

No matter how imaginative you are, you could never imagine a better life than fate provides. You know? I couldn’t have planned a path like I’ve had, and I’m so grateful that I didn’t try.

 

You clearly weren’t following a formula.

 

I definitely was not.

 

[END]

AMERICAN MASTERS
Mike Nichols


 

Winner of an Oscar, a Grammy, four Emmys, nine Tonys, and many other awards, director, actor, writer, producer and comedian Mike Nichols (1931 – 2014) was an artistic trailblazer. As the legendary comedy duo Nichols and May, Nichols and his partner Elaine May revolutionized comedy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nichols discusses his life and 50-year artistic career, including The Graduate, Catch-22, Angels in America, and Charlie Wilson’s War. The program is directed by Elaine May and features interviews with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Paul Simon and others.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Joy Abbott

 

Original air date: Tues., Aug. 13, 2013

 

Leslie Wilcox talks with Joy Abbott, singer and widow of renowned stage producer George Abbott. Born and raised in Wahiawa, Oahu, Joy graduated from Punahou School. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia to study education, before pursuing a career in entertainment. In recent years, Abbott has written and directed several theater benefit galas, and is co-authoring a biography on George Abbott.

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

And in all those twenty-five years, I was working, working, trying to make my shops a success, my fashion show productions, they were musical and in demand. And so, that’s when George proposed after twenty-five years, and he said, you know, It’s time. [CHUCKLE]

 

From World War II era Wahiawa to the bright lights and big personalities of Broadway, Joy Abbott has lived a glamorous life far from her roots in Hawaii. But she’s remained true to the values she grew up with, and close to family and friends back home. Her dramatic journey is next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program
produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. In this edition of Long Story Short, the Shirley Temple of Hawaii; that’s what people called the former Joy Valderrama when she was a talented kid growing up in Wahiawa in the 1930s. Little did she suspect that one day, she’d be friends with some of Broadway’s biggest stars, and married to an iconic Broadway producer, writer, and director who created scores of American stage classics, a vital man who lived to the age of one hundred seven. Joy Abbott’s parents had a lasting influence on her life. They armed her with three important gifts: an excellent education, training to develop her talents, and values to guide her.

 

My father said that when I was born, I didn’t cry, I smiled; so he called me Joy. [CHUCKLE] True story. Wahiawa, you know, it was just a wonderful life; food wise, for instance, organic, healthy food. My mother would actually kill the chicken herself, and she would grow vegetables and everything. So, food wise, it made a healthy childhood. A very happy childhood too, because we were always laughing.

 

What did your parents do for a living?

 

My father was a barber.

 

Where in Wahiawa?

 

In Schofield Barracks, actually. He went to University of the Philippines, and he studied accounting. He became an accountant, but he wanted to see the, quote, unquote, new world, so he came to Hawaii. My mother was a schoolteacher, but she was a traveling schoolteacher. I remember telling about her riding sidesaddle through all the barrios to teach teachers. And so, when they came here, well, she was a housewife, and my father opened one barber shop, then another, and then another. And he would be the ones to cut the general’s hair, the major, all the officers. And my uncles joined, and they managed the other barber shops.

 

And he got an audience with some of the top decision makers at Schofield.

 

Oh, my gosh; yes. He went to the general’s house to cut their hair, or to the major’s and captain’s, so he learned a lot of things from that way of living.

 

And your siblings?

 

I have three. I have Ruth, who went to Julliard; she’s the older, went to Punahou, Class of ’44. And Grace, she’s in real estate in California now. And May Ann is a tennis coach, and she had the winning Mililani team. She was married to Keola Beamer.

 

Not the Keola Beamer —

 

No; Uncle Keola.

 

Uncle Keola.

 

Uncle Keola.

 

So, Winona Beamer’s brother?

 

Yes.

 

And Keola Beamer, the composer’s and slack key artist’s uncle.

 

Exactly; that’s Nona’s son. Yeah.

 

So, you lived in Wahiawa, which in those days was much farther away from town that it is now, because of the lack of freeways. And you went to Punahou School, which is all the way in town.

 

Yes.

 

How’d you manage that? How’d you get there and back?

 

By bus. I remember getting up very early in the morning, and my father would wake me up and he’d take my hand and … put his whiskers. He says, Time to get up now. [CHUCKLE]

 

That would get you up; right? [CHUCKLE]

 

[CHUCKLE] And then he’d take us to the bus, my sister and I would ride the bus into town.

 

When you left the post school, left home in Wahiawa every day to go to Punahou, at the time, I imagine most of the students at Punahou were not only White, but they were wealthy and they were from the town area.

 

Absolutely; yes.

 

So, you were the country non-White.

 

Yes; we were ten percent, in those days, called Orientals, today Asians. And it was just a handful of Asians. But I never felt that, ‘cause my parents said, You know, you’re gonna make yourself in life what you want to be, as long as you work hard, achieve.

 

It’s up to you.

 

Yes; yes. We’re giving you the tools, but it’s up to you.

 

When your dad was a barber, and you know, he had at least an acquaintance or business relationship with generals at Schofield Barracks. And he was concerned about you getting ahead, wasn’t he?

 

Absolutely. Yes; my parents were all for achieving, accomplishments, and they thought that versatility would open doors. So, my father taught me tennis.

 

How did he know tennis?

 

Well, he played in the Philippines, and he coached tennis, as well as boxing and baseball. So, it was a sports family. And my mother always loved singing, dancing, and the arts. And neither could carry a tune. My father would sing Happy Birthday in five different keys to us. # And my mother loved to dance, but she just didn’t have it, so she gave us all the lessons.

 

So, you were in Wahiawa; where did you go to lessons?

 

Oh, in Schofield Barracks. Because we had this wonderful Black fellow who was a tap dance teacher, and I learned all these wonderful steps and riffs, and everything when I was just six years old. There was uh, a revue called the Jackie Suiter’s Revue [PHONETIC]. This is way, way, way before your time. And it was at King Theater, and they would have me, because they dubbed me as the Shirley Temple of Hawaii. [CHUCKLE]

 

Oh, is that right?

 

Yeah. [CHUCKLE] So, I sang these songs as part of this revue. And that was my early debut into showbiz.

 

And at the same time, your dad was making an athlete of you?

 

Oh, yes; yes. So, we’d get up early in the morning on weekends, because naturally, school, we’d go. And he would teach me and drill me, and drill me with basic strokes. And then, I’d play with my uncles afterwards to hit with them. But it opened doors, ‘cause I won the Hawaiian Junior Championship before I left for the mainland.

 

Were you competitive?

 

Oh, absolutely competitive. I think it was instinctive. When I was in a tournament, it was, Kill! No prisoners! [CHUCKLE]

 

And in every sport you played, you had to win?

 

Oh, absolutely. It was just the thing to do. That was the goal; win, win. But I was a good loser. Because my father said, You must learn to lose as a sports person, and be a sport when you lose, and you can learn from your losses, because you know what you did wrong, and then you can improve on that. For instance, in tennis. Yeah, I — I played field hockey, I was a gymnast, and I was on the swimming team at Punahou.

 

Do you think tennis opened doors for you?

 

Very much so. When I went to the mainland, I had won the Hawaiian Junior Championship. My brother-in-law, the one that was going to the Curtis, Felix, would take me out to the public parks and play. And there was this one fellow who was playing with his daughter, and grooming her for a tournament, and he was watching me. He said, Would you like to play in the National Junior Grass Court Tournament at Philadelphia Cricket Club? I said, Fine. He said, Well, we’ve been watching you play. Well, that opened doors.

 

And you didn’t think of saying, Oh, not me, you don’t understand.

 

I said, I’m from Hawaii. And he said, Well, did you win things? I said, Well, I had the Hawaiian Junior title before. He said, That’s enough. And that got me into the eighteen and under national, so I played with the likes of Maureen Connolly. I was only sixteen when I came to the mainland.

 

You graduated young from Punahou.

 

From Punahou; yes. And came right to Philadelphia, where my sister and brother-in-law lived.

 

To attend Temple University.

 

To attend Temple.

 

When you were at Temple, you were playing tennis. Didn’t you have an incredible tennis record at Temple University?

 

Yes; I’m in the Sports Hall of Fame for tennis, being undefeated the four years. Singles.

 

Did you think sports might be a possible career for you?

 

No; I was never strong enough, and I knew my limitations. ‘Cause when I played tournaments on the mainland, I’d get to quarter finals, semi finals, and things. But I’ve got a lot of trophies.

 

And at that point, what did you want to do with your life?

 

Actually, I thought I would be a teacher. I was in health and physical education, and I thought I would come back and teach here. But then, that changed my life when I decided to help my parents to put my other siblings through school. So, I went to this place called the Hawaiian Cottage, and I said, I can sing and dance if you need someone here. And so, they hired me. And so, I got this job at the Hawaiian Cottage, and I had my own trio after a while. And then, I was put on the main stage and learned Haole songs. [CHUCKLE] You know, the pop standards and Broadway. So, I did double duty. I did my Hawaiian show, and then I did the other. So, that was an influence.

 

So, you were essentially a businesswoman, and an entertainer at a young age.

 

Yes.

 

Making enough money to help put your siblings through college.

 

Yes; m-hm.

 

You know, your father, who had to switch jobs, he moved to a new country and found he needed to change occupations. He showed a lot of resilience and versatility, and I guess a lot of hope too.

 

Yes. And all that hope was put into us, the daughters. Because what they couldn’t do, they thought they’d give us the opportunity to do. And it came to fruition; yes.

 

It sounds like you always were trying to get better at what you did.

 

Yes; that’s because of my parents. You achieve and you try to get better. And they taught me not to envy or be jealous. And that helped later on when I met George Abbott, ‘cause we had the same principles. And my mother and father said, Don’t envy someone, because if you accomplish and achieve the goals that you set out for and you’re successful, then you need not envy or be jealous of anyone. You can admire, and you can learn, but you know, that was a good lesson.

 

Joy Abbott stayed in Philadelphia after college, performing fulltime to help pay her sisters’ tuitions. And one of her sisters, perhaps unintentionally, paid her back with an introduction to the man who would be the love of her life, the legendary Broadway producer, director and playwright, George Abbott. He was the creative genius behind classic musicals such as The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, and winner of multiple Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and later the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

He invited me to dinner. I was invited at seven o’clock. So, I came, and I rang the bell. And whoo, he opened the door himself, and I saw this tall man with silver hair, and these steel blue eyes. I’m like, Whoo. I saw him, and I said, Wow! He was six-three, tall, handsome like Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott handsome combination, and his steel blue eyes, and this beautiful smile. And I said, I’m Joy Valderrama. And he said, Good, you’re on time. That was it. ‘Cause he was a stickler for time. And so, from then on, we just hit off, and we dated for twenty-five years before we got married.

 

You didn’t really want to rush things.

 

[CHUCKLE]

 

How old was he when you met; in his seventies?

 

Seventy-two.

 

And how old were you?

 

I was twenty-nine.

 

Did that not make you a little leery? Like, why would I want to date somebody so much older than me?

 

No; ‘cause I didn’t think of dating at the time. I liked him right from the start, because he was handsome, and kind. And so, he would ask me on my day off to come up and so, we dated for twenty-five years.

 

I hope I’m not overstepping or on territory that makes you uncomfortable. But I read George’s bio in various places. And, you know, it talks about how for ten years he had a relationship with Maureen Stapleton.

 

Yes. It was a friendship. It was nothing untoward. And in her biography, if you read one of the paragraphs, it says, And then he met Joy Valderrama and married her, and lived happily ever after, like an old MGM movie.

 

[CHUCKLE]

 

That’s in her biography.

 

Does it bother you that in his bios that you read all over the place, there’s so much attention given to his relationship with this, you know, stunning movie actress?

 

Oh, not at all. Oh, my gosh. I knew he liked me, and I liked him, but I didn’t know how much he loved me until later.

 

So, you were okay with him dating other people?

 

Oh, gosh; yes. Because he would be very frank with me. He would tell me that there was nothing but … you know, and it was part of their publicity for shows.

 

Joy Abbott recalls that in those days, there were no parts on Broadway for Asians, and no nontraditional casting as we have today. So, she continued her performing career at the Hawaiian Cottage until George Abbott encouraged her to develop a new talent, as an entrepreneur.

 

He said, It’s time you stopped singing and dancing, and open your own business, and I’ll back you. So, he backed me in a dress shop. Then I opened another one; then I opened another one. You can’t just pull them in with a hook, so you have to have something to attract them. So, I started musical fashion shows, and they became so popular, I was doing two hundred a year. And I had all these professional models, gorgeous girls, modeling the clothes from my store. Well, we had some designer clothes, but a lot of ready to wear. And so, it was quite a successful business.

 

So, very consuming life, and very beautiful life.

 

Yeah.

 

Did you think about children and marriage at that point?

 

No.

 

‘Cause in those days, that was the drill; right?

 

Yes. But then, I was going with George; he was seventy-two, and I was twenty-nine when I first met. And in all those twenty-five years, I was working, working, trying to make my shops a success, my fashion show productions, they were musical and in demand. And so, that’s when George proposed after twenty-five years, and he said, It’s time. And you know how he proposed?

 

How?

 

[CHUCKLE] After twenty-five years, we were up in his country home up in the Catskills. Beautiful place up there, so serene. And he says, Joy, I have something to tell you. So, he said, Come sit beside me. And I remember it was a Sunday morning, and the pines; it was so beautiful up there. He says, I have something to tell you. My lawyer tells me I have enough money for two to live on; it’s time we got married. [CHUCKLE] I said, Oh. I said, Oh, I have to call my mother. [CHUCKLE]

 

You said one of the things about you and George was that despite the age difference and your different backgrounds, you had very similar values.

 

Yes.

 

What were those?

 

A lot of the principles, again, of envy and jealousy. I was surprised to learn that. Taking life in moderation; that’s why he lived so long. He had a glass of wine for dinner. That was it; he didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke.

 

Did he exercise, or golf? Dancing?

 

Oh; exercise. Exercise and work; that’s what made him live so long. Work and accomplishments, and achievements.

 

And that’s what you’re all about too; right?

 

Yes. And he had a wonderful sense of humor; just wonderful. It was a wonderful, wonderful marriage.

 

When Joy Valderrama married George Abbott in 1983, she sold her fashion business and moved to his main home in Florida. She took up golf and became immersed in the country club culture there, as well as the theater circuit in New York.

 

I was living in Florida and being part of the country club that George belonged to, Indian Creek Country Club. And it’s a wonderful social place, and for golf. Pretty exclusive, too.

 

You were all right giving up your business and living this life of relative leisure with George.

 

Leisure and social, and Broadway. When I would be going to some of the opening night parties, I said, Oh, there’s so-and-so, oh, there’s Julie Andrews, oh, there’s Carol Burnett. ‘Cause we went to their Carnegie Hall debut thing, and they had a big party afterwards. And we would be dancing, and I’d be stumbling, and everything. And I’m a pretty good dancer, but George was very serious about dancing. And so, later on when we were married, and we were at the country club, and there’s a dance and I’m dancing and I’m stumbling. I said, Oh, Cynthia, what time is our tee time? Oh, are we playing tennis on Wednesday? And I’d be stumbling. So, the next morning [CHUCKLE] George said, You know, Dear, there are three types of women who make lousy ballroom dancers. He said, Professional singers and dancers, athletes … oh, and rich women. And he said, And you are all three. [CHUCKLE]

 

So, you met him when he was seventy-two, and then twenty-five years later you married him.

 

Yeah.

 

So, he’s dancing at an advanced age.

 

Oh, absolutely. He loved to dance all the time. As a matter of fact, Kitty Carlisle received after a dancing date a book on how to dance, because she was such a lousy dancer. [CHUCKLE]

 

So, he was a very vital man.

 

Very vital. He was playing golf at ninety-six or teaching me. He didn’t give it up until a hundred two, and he in the Croquet Hall of Fame.

 

How old was he when he passed away?

 

Hundred seven.

 

And how healthy was he shortly before that? Did he maintain his health?

 

Yes. He had no diabetes, no cancer, no Parkinson’s, nothing debilitating. And it was just that he died of old age, but his mind was so sharp. As a matter of fact, he was dictating a scene from the second act of Pajama Game that was to be a London production two weeks before he died.

 

It sounds like a magical life. Do you have any regrets?

 

Absolutely none. We never argued, except my driving. I drove too slowly for him. [CHUCKLE] Here’s a story. When he was a hundred six, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. And he said, Oh, I think I would like to have a swimming pool in the back yard, because I’m tired of walking two blocks to Shirley’s house to do my twenty laps. And so, I contracted a swimming pool person. Well, it took so long; took instead of six weeks, six months. So, we came back from the Catskills, and there was this pool that you know, finally, finally, he was able to go in. So, the first day, he dove in, he sank to the bottom because he was all skin and bones. You don’t have flesh, and buoyancy at a hundred six. So, he comes blubbering up, and he says, Joy, get your money back, it doesn’t work. [CHUCKLE] But the reason I tell that story is, I think he wanted me to exercise. And so, he built that pool so that I would, in our house.

 

And do you? Do you use the pool?

 

Oh, yes; yes, I do.

 

But you didn’t settle down to a life of ease and relative seclusion as a widow. You’re on the jazz circuit.

 

Oh, yes. I did concerts perpetuate the name of George Abbott. I have a singing partner named Davis Gaines.

 

He’s known for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

 

Yes; yes, he is. And so, we would do a compilation of songs from George’s shows, and then we would do things from Phantom, Showboat, you know, other shows. And it would raise a lot of money too for people. Just not to give concerts, but we would do it for AIDS benefits, benefit for the theater community. And so, I’ve been singing since, and enjoying that life, because I don’t have to make it as a living.

 

What do you like about jazz? Why jazz?

 

Oh; because I sang with the best musicians in Philadelphia. There was Al Governor and the Candoli Brothers, and Richie Kamoku, who was part-Filipino, part-Jewish. [CHUCKLE] And he was a saxophone player from Philadelphia, and he played with Zoot Sims and all these wonderful players. And I would be privy to all that music.

 

What did you learn from them?

 

I learned phrasing, I learned pitch, and also a certain style, where I wouldn’t do vocal acrobatics, I would let the musicians underneath do that. And I would sing the songs straight, but with phrasing.

 

What’s your favorite song, favorite jazz song?

 

I don’t really have a favorite, because there are so many that are so good.

 

There’s none of that you hope you’re gonna be requested to do for that encore?

 

Oh; oh, well, gosh … Our Love Is Here to Stay is one of my favorites, and The Way We Were. Betty and I just did that for a private party, and it brings tears to your — ooh, tears to your eyes. [CHUCKLE]

 

You won a Hoku. And in fact, your co-winner was …

 

Betty Loo Taylor.

 

Is she about the same age?

 

Yes; we were both septuagenarians at the time.

 

Doing jazz.

 

Oh, yes.

 

On a Hoku album.

 

Yes; it was our first album. And how it happened was, I would come home, and Betty would have her trio at the Kahala. And she says, Come, come up and sing with us. So, I would sing. But by the way, Betty Loo and I used to do carnivals at Punahou. And so, we’d been long, long, longtime friends. When I would come back, she would say, Oh, come up and sing, or wherever she would be. And so I said, Betty, why don’t we make an album together? We’ve known each other’s style for so long. So, she said, Okay. So, I flew her up to New York, and in one week, we did this album.

 

Did your competitive nature ever ebb?

 

No.

 

You still are very competitive?

 

Oh, absolutely. [CHUCKLE] I took up golf, as I said, when I was fifty-three. And after the first year and a half, I won the First Flight at our club, and I won it six times after.

 

And you still play golf, and you still are competitive with friends?

 

Oh, yes; yes. Between operations. [CHUCKLE] ‘Cause I’ve had two hip replacements, a knee replacement, a shoulder replacement, and cervical and lumbar. And each time, it improved my game [CHUCKLE] actually. But no more tennis, unfortunately, after my hip replacements.

 

You’ve had a very unusual life, starting in the country of Wahiawa, with immigrant parents who opened doors for you, and you pushed on those doors.

 

Yeah. And now, I’m able to give back, I’m happy to say. Because Templeton University is the recipient of my legacy with the royalties that I’m giving them and my annual contribution, and so they’ve opened the Joy and George Abbott School of Musical Theater.

 

Joy Abbott says she’s living her second life now in her early eighties at the time of this conversation in the summer of 2013. This longtime performer, businesswoman, and patron of the theater arts devotes much of her time to honoring and furthering the legacy of her famous husband. Joy Abbott divides her time between Florida, Philadelphia, and Honolulu. She keeps a condo here, and loves her Punahou School reunions. And she still enjoys Broadway, sitting in a perfect seat in the theater and going backstage. For Long Story Short, and PBS Hawaii, I’m Leslie Wilcox. A hui hou kakou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

And you’ve remained lifelong friends with your Punahou classmates with whom you were close before.

 

Yes. But when I tell them I’m coming in May, so-and-so, they tell everybody, Oh, Joy is coming, we better put our acts together, ‘cause we’re gonna be busy. Things like that. Now, we had just our sixty-fifth Punahou reunion, Class of ’48, and we’re the closest class at Punahou.

 

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Discover the life and work of Mexican American photographer Pedro E. Guerrero, who collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson.

 

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