Honolulu . . .


This is an ordinary picture I took a few years ago with my ordinary camera. I was near Kaneohe on Oahu and I found this particular spot was almost magical with the tall palms and the clear water streaming down from the Koolau mountains.

I happened to see a piece in the Sunday newspaper that said Parade Magazine was looking for pictures from which they would select the 100 most beautiful spots in the United States, so I sent off a picture very much like this one..  I forgot about it, but weeks later I had a letter from Parade Magazine saying my picture was chosen one of the 100 . . and they sent me $100.

Beautiful pictures are everywhere you look on these islands, although I must tell you a typical story.

One day I walked down to the beach in Waikiki and sat outside a sandwich shop for lunch.  I was joined by a tourist couple who had just arrived, and were busy looking up and down the busy street and nearby beach scene.  They had just come from the busy airport and driven through the busy city.  The freeway and the city streets were filled with people going home from work.

“This is not what I expected,” she said.

I supposed she might have expected to see girls hula dancing outside bamboo huts.

“Remember,” I said, “you are in a city.”

Others have told me they thought Honolulu had become too “commercialized.”  And I had an answer for that, which I now told to my lunch-mates.

The islands of Hawaii are among the most beautiful in the world.  Everyone would like to go there, and great numbers do make at least one visit.  Many return time after time.  So, where will they sleep?  Where will they eat?  If you think about it, this helps explain the Honolulu skyline. Also, almost 1 1/2 million people live in Honolulu, and great numbers of people drive in from outer island to work.

The lunchers had rented a car and I volunteered to show them a different scene.  The next day we drove around Diamond Head and began a breath-taking tour, driving close to the ocean, following it’s curves and turns.  We stopped to see the blowhole, to see the surfers at wild Sandy Beach, We went through quiet villages, where you might stop for local food, for shave-ice, or for beautiful seashells.  We visited the Valley of the Temples, a place so full of peace and beauty you feel it and take it with you.

Byodo-In temple reflected in pond on a cloudy day. Oahu island, Hawaii, USA

Now we were following the twists and curves of the shoreline, looking out on every possible shade of aqua and emerald green with touches of white foam.  To our left we began to see the mountains, high with sharp ridges.  And always along the roadways were lush green shrubs and trees of every kind, every shade of  green, and many flush with flowers (plumeria, African tulip).  I left some of the best parts  . . like the north shore, with it’s monster surf . . for these nice tourists’ later ventures.  Your best memories are of the places you discovered by yourself.

We did stop, however, at the very spot where I took the above picture.  The beauty of this area is the kind that gives you chills.

But, back to the city. they would be surprised, I knew, at the marvelous things to discover and to see . . like the Iolani Palace, the only palace in the USA and the ancient Hawaiian church where the missionaries are buried in the cemetery close by . Music . . music . . music.  Hawaiians are natural singers and they have danced since childhood.  Wonderful museums.  And, of course, Pearl Harbor.  This sort of thing, of course, after swimming and sunning on the traditional beaches of Waikiki.  All beaches are public here, so you can enjoy any stretch of sand in front of the most elegant hotels.

I’m sorry.  I do get carried away and go on and on about precious subjects.  I shall stop now and go to my lanai, watching for whales at sunset.











News about News . . . .

ImageA kind reader of My Notebook wrote to ask if something is wrong . . I have not been posting.  Well, yes and no.  It’s wrong that my atrial fibrillation acted up sending my pulse sky high and then plummeting down, but good that I went to the E. R. and spent a few days in the comfort of Queens Hospital while the doctors puzzled over me.  I’m now set free but wearing a monitor and have appointments for the verdict.

So while I’ve been taking it easy I’ve been looking over old pictures and ran across this one of me in 1945 or 1946 when I was editor of the college newspaper, aptly named the Collegian Reporter.  Not because I had a nose for news, although I did, but because the job paid my tuition that year.  I had two or three other small jobs to pay for room and board and now and then a piece of apple pie at Mrs.Schwartz’s on the corner by the campus.

Notice how I’m “dressed.”  This was before t-shirts and jeans.  It was during the war and so many of our young men had gone into service it was hard to maintain much of a sports program, still sports were a main feature of the newspaper and sports were not my thing.  So I chose a guy for my assistant editor.  His name was Tom Wickstrom.  We had met in music studies and became friends, not one I dated  but one I walked with,  pondering the meaning of life.

Tom’s story was a sad one.  While he was working in some kind of plant to earn money for college, a machine came down on his hand and took off three fingers.  Tom played the violin and planned a music major, so this was a challenge, but he went on with it and excelled.  In fact, years later I learned he was in D. C., head of music education for the nation’s schools.

One night we were at the college working together to wrap up an issue. It was a special one, the annual April Fool  nonsense.  We decided we needed something really sharp, arresting, maybe even shocking for the headline.  Between us we came up with what we thought was hilarious.  In fact, we were hopping around, holding our sides with laughter that wouldn’t stop.  Of course it was late and we were tired, but we insisted we were brilliant.

Two days later issues were on campus.  Within hours Tom and I were called in to the college dean’s office.  A copy of our issue lay on his desk, with the headline screaming “Professor Gwyn, head of the Physics Department, to leave to work for Exlax Company.”

We had no answer for the dean’s question “What were you thinking??”  We were told the professor was in shock, his home phone was ringing off the hook, his wife and friends were upset,  Somehow we survived the conference without consequence..  Maybe the dean caught a glimpse of Tom’s poor hand just before making his decision. Or maybe the dean was, in fact, holding back laughter himself.

In 1996 I attended a 50th class reunion.,  Tom Wickstrom was there, looking still much as I remembered.  I went to him and put my arms around him, saying how glad I was to see him.  He pushed me away rudely, saying “Who are you?”  I told him but the name didn’t mean anything to him.  His eyes were vacant.  I was hurt.  Not long after that I learned that Tom had died.  An article online said that he died from Alzzheimer’s disease.  I should have felt sad, but felt glad to understand why he hadn’t known me..

Now I’ve finished my story and read it to my daughter, the baby boomer.  She had no idea what I was writing about or what the joke was.  I had her look up the word “physic” in the dictionary.




Roxy spends the morning at the beach.  Seen here waiting for the big wave.

Then in the afternoon she goes for a ride in Bill’s sweet little aloha car.  They park in Kapiolani Park for a good view of Diamondhead.  Roxy sits on the roof.(Roxy . . turn around.  It’s behind you.)

rox 020


(Photos by Bill Smith)