It’s The Best Kind Of Writing
Wednesday - July 22, 2009
My first experience at writing was in the U.S. Army, as a member of the 8th Airborne Brigade. I was an operational intelligence specialist (152.90) in charge of all G-3 functions in the brigade.
This required writing operational training scenarios, planning training exercises. This kind of writing was very dull because you weren’t supposed to use any adjectives or hyperbole in the plans.
After leaving the Army I went back to the University of Hawaii on the G-I Bill and somehow got through the program at “Wis” Manor.
In a down economy, I was hired, without compensation, to work at UH as an intramural supervisor.
Because the job did not pay a salary, I worked at Sheraton Hotels as a security officer, which I did for 12 years. I worked my entire time on the midnight shift, watching five properties. The job was fun, escorting the cashiers to the company vault when the restaurants closed, asking prostitutes to take their business elsewhere and motivating derelicts to stay off the property.
One of the requirements of the job was to write reports about everything that transpired from midnight to when the managers came to work at 8 a.m. It was at this point in my life that I realized that writing reports, with or without adjectives, was interesting. I did OK at the job, was never sued by anyone and never incurred the wrath of management who had to read my reports every morning.
The UH job was fun, especially the women’s flag football league I started called the Powder Puff league.
While trying to make a living at the Sheraton, coaching and running the intramural program, Ka Leo asked me to write a weekly column for the school paper. Having failed English composition in my first attempt, I thought it would be a neat way to get even with my former English professors.
I finished work on my master’s degree at the “Wis” Manor and, in a real down year for UH national searches, was given the head coaching job when no one else applied. After finding out why no one applied for the job, I gracefully retired from coaching and hung around as the director of the Small Business Management Program in the College of Continuing Education and Community Services (CCECS) to complement my new endeavor, working as a gopher for the famous J. Akuhead Pupule (Hal Lewis). I was hired to cover for him and was required to write radio reports about community affairs and politics. My first assignment was to cover the Constitutional Convention in 1978 and submit daily reports to “Aku.” Two years after I started writing those daily reports for radio, KITV News offered me a job as an investigative reporter. My boss thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about the business, and I did that for seven years. Doing the UH job, radio and television simultaneously opened my eyes and convinced me that I was basically cut out to be either a security officer for life or a teacher. So I made my move.
I applied for an opening on the police force, but failed the physical, so a life in law enforcement was not to be.
Then I applied for admission to the doctoral program at USC. It was a down year for doctoral candidates seeking admission, and I was accepted to increase enrollment. After five years of bouncing between USC and Hawaii, I received my doctorate in educational planning, policy and administration. On arrival back in Hawaii, I applied for a job with the DOE. They told me I was overqualified and offered me a job as a security officer at Roosevelt High School, but I also was offered at job at Chaminade University teaching labor relations. My dissertation was, “The Impact of the Media on Collective Bargaining,” so I felt comfortable accepting the job.
As I was sitting at the radio station one rainy morning after the show, which now is the Perry & Price Show, I got called from the boss, who told me I had a distinguished visitor. Not knowing a lot of distinguished people at the time, I rushed into the boss’s office and met this tall, muscular gentleman, who was the publisher of something called MidWeek magazine. He offered me a job, and after taking a deep breath, I accepted and starting writing stories about small businesses, labor relations and managerial negotiations, subjects I have studied and taught.
That was in September 1985 and I’m fortunate to still be writing, which now has become my real life after coaching.
When I first started writing for MidWeek, columnists were required to type their columns and mail them to someplace in Kaneohe. When I was off island or at school or in a foreign country, I would mail the reports in longhand. Several years later, I learned how to fax my columns to the editor. I must say they are some of the most dedicated, understanding people in the world.
These days, it’s all about computers and e-mail. Since I am fortunate to be working on air with Michael W. Perry, the OC-16 gang and teaching at Chaminade University, I don’t have a lot of free time. But when I do get out, it surprises me that most of the feedback I receive in public is about my columns in MidWeek.
Now, after 20-plus years, I understand why. MidWeek is an information magnet. There are more things you need to know in here than anywhere else. All of the columnists are seasoned professionals in their respective fields. And Don Chapman, former “three-dot” columnist turned editor, has the magic touch. I didn’t know him at that time, but was told that he would be a great newspaper editor and he would help me survive. With the assistance of senior editor Terri Hefner, he has.
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