As I think back about growing up in Hawaii, certain places pop up as vivid images.
Chasing trains in the cane fields with my dad -- I accompanied my dad as he drove our Studebaker along dirt roads through the sugar cane fields on Oahu, following the trains that hauled the cut cane. One time we hitched a ride on one of the narrow gauge engines, smoke spewing, the wind in our hair, feeling on top of the world.
The hot springs on the island of Hawaii -- On a vacation with my folks and my friend, Mike Gillespie, we stopped at a hot spring. Mike and I floated in the crystal clear warm water and my dad took a picture of us from a cliff above. I still have the picture, but the hot spring no longer exists. A lava flow inundated it about ten years later.
Inventing things in my backyard -- Before school I’d go out in our backyard where I had a collection of airplane, radio and other miscellaneous parts and build contraptions, my inventions.
Being at school at night -- In the fourth grade I was a candy cane in the school Christmas pageant. We performed at night and after getting in our costumes, we walked around campus, hiding from each other in the shadows. School during the day was mundane, but at night it was magical.
The underwater cave on Mokulua -- Our junior year picnic took place at Lanikai beach. One of our teachers, Mr. Paulsen, took us out to one of the Mokulua Islands by boat and led us into an underwater cave where he told Hawaiian ghost stories. The cave can only be entered at low tide. Sitting on the sand at the end of cave, I felt scared by the thought of the tide coming in and excited about being there. This led to a key scene in my first published novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder.
Rocky Hill -- My senior year in high school, a group of us would congregate on Saturday nights at the top of Rocky Hill on the edge of the Punahou campus to sing folk songs. Looking out over Honolulu, being with friends and singing (I fortunately was always drowned out) gave me a sense of completeness.