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MOROCCO TO TIMBUKTU:
An Arabian Adventure, Part 2 of 2

MOROCCO TO TIMBUKTU: An Arabian Adventure, Part 2 of 2

 

In the new series MOROCCO TO TIMBUKTU: AN ARABIAN ADVENTURE, writer and explorer Alice Morrison attempts to follow the ancient “Salt Roads,” historically one of the world’s richest trading networks, which led from south of Tangier to the fabled sandstone city of Timbuktu. Riding the famous Marrakech express, crossing the vast Sahara on camel back and trekking on foot through snowstorms, Morrison takes a centuries-old journey through unforgettable destinations. This one-of-a-kind travel series highlights North Africa’s ancient cultural heritage, from hidden libraries to the world’s oldest university in Fes, while also providing perspective on how modern political realities have affected the trade routes.

 

 

 

MOROCCO TO TIMBUKTU:
An Arabian Adventure, Part 1 of 2

Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure

 

Writer and explorer Alice Morrison attempts to follow the ancient “Salt Roads,” historically one of the world’s richest trading networks, which led from south of Tangier to the fabled sandstone city of Timbuktu. Riding the famous “Marrakech Express,” crossing the vast Sahara on camel back and trekking on foot through snowstorms, Morrison takes a centuries-old journey through unforgettable destinations. This one-of-a-kind travel series highlights North Africa’s ancient cultural heritage, from hidden libraries to the world’s oldest university in Fes, while also providing perspective on how modern political realities have affected the trade routes.

 

Preview

 

 

 

CURIOUS TRAVELER
Curious Williamsburg

 

Why did England choose Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia as their earliest American settlements? Why did King William III and Queen Mary II establish a university here? What was life like for the colonists here? What crazy concoctions are to be found in a colonial apothecary? What does the amber ox have to do with American history?

 

 

 

 

RICK STEVES’ EUROPE
The Heart of England

RICK STEVES’ EUROPE: The Heart of England

 

The heartland of England has sights that put the “Great” in Britain — its venerable universities, its royal heritage, and reminders of its industrial might. At Oxford and Cambridge, we’ll see where kings and prime ministers studied. At Blenheim Palace — Winston Churchill’s birthplace — we’ll connect with English aristocracy. At Ironbridge Gorge, we fire up memories of the Industrial Revolution. And all along the way, we’ll be driving on the left and polishing our pub etiquette.

 

Preview

 

 

 

 

A St. Thomas Christmas:
Jubilant Light

 

The University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota presents a festive concert showcasing their renowned vocal and instrumental ensembles in performance, drawing from both the familiar traditional carols and innovative contemporary selections. The University’s Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Liturgical Choir, Women’s Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Brass Choir and the String Orchestra will all perform. The program includes a performance of “Jubilant Light” by composer James Stephenson.

 

This program will encore Sat., Dec. 24, 11:00 pm

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Linda Furuto

 

Linda Furuto is a math education professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and uses math regularly as she trains as an apprentice navigator on the Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokulea. Math didn’t always come easy to her; she struggled in her tenth grade algebra class at Punahou. But she worked hard to pass the class. “I really did learn the importance of a positive attitude, working hard, and having a support network of people who want you to succeed can help you,” Linda says.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, May 18 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, May 22 at 4:00 pm.

 

Linda Furuto Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I studied about six hours day, just on mathematics, because I wanted to keep up with my peers. And um, one of the greatest accomplishments of my—of my life as far as passing that class um, and uh, above and beyond passing that math class, I really did learn the importance of a positive attitude, working hard, and having a support network of people who want you to succeed an—and can help you. I wanted to go into mathematics because I struggled with it, and I know so many of our local kids struggle with mathematics.

 

 

Linda Furuto is next… On Long Story Short.

 

Aloha Mai Kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox.

 

University of Hawaii Associate Professor Linda Furuto is an accomplished math teacher who shows students how to use math to better understand their world. It’s one of the reasons that in 2010… Linda Furuto was named one of Hawaii’s top “40 under 40” professionals. She’s cerebral and she’s physical. She was invited to train as an apprentice navigator on the double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe… Hokulea, and she is picking up different legs of its current worldwide voyage. While math was acquired passion, Furuto took to the ocean right away, as a keiki growing up in Hauula on the windward side of Oahu.

 

I had the most wonderful and best childhood. I grew up in a 12.5-mile stretch between Kaaawa and Kahuku, and to me, the most important things in life are ohana and values. Um, I’m really grateful for the opportunities that I had to um, let’s see, go spearfishing. With—with my dad and uncles. And um, borrow the plastic trays from McDonald’s to go bodysurfing with my friends. But we always returned them.

 

We just really—

 

Bodysurfing with the—

 

Yeah.

 

–plastic trays?

 

Yeah.

 

They’re kind of small, aren’t they?

 

Oh, but they’re the perfect size if you reach under your arm, like that.

 

Oh, like that.

 

Yeah!

 

Oh, bodysurfing.

 

M-hm.

 

Right.

 

M-hm. And we always returned them.

 

Just maybe not in the same condition.

 

That would be which McDonald’s? The—

 

Uh—

 

The one in—

 

Laie. Um, but my favorite was um, jumping into the dumpsters be—behind Hauula Shopping Center. Used to be Pay ‘n Save there. And we’d grab out the cardboard boxes. My three younger brothers and I; Matt, Nick, and Dan. We—we’d flatten the cardboard boxes, and see who could ride them the fastest down the dirt hills behind Hauula Shopping Center. It was so fun.

 

Dirt and mud, or just dirt?

 

Um, it was mostly dirty. But that’s a great question, because it was—

 

Mudsliding—

 

–even better.

 

–would be fast; right?

 

Exactly.

 

Mudslides were the best. But that was—that was my world.

 

So, your parents saved a lot on toys for you.

 

I think so. Nature was—provided all the toys that we needed. Yeah.

 

What’s your family like?

 

My family . . . my family’s just amazing. They’re kind, they’re loving, unconditionally loving, and generous. And supportive in everything that I’ve done so far. I also want to clarify that—that to me, ohana is not just necessarily the people that we’re related to by blood, but to me, my definition of ohana is the extent to which we’re willing to do something for another person. The commitment that we have to each other, the dedication to the projects and visions, and love. And so, my ohana is really stretch—really stretches from hanabata days in Kahuku, to transferring to Punahou as a tenth-grader, leaving the islands for school and work, and then coming back home to be part of the University of Hawaii, East-West Center, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Polynesian Voyaging Society ohana, among others.

 

Did your parents explicitly give you values, or did you just soak them up by osmosis?

 

I would say both. I would say that it’s extremely difficult to measure the size of my mom’s heart.

 

Tell me about your mom. I believe she’s a social worker; right?

 

M-hm; yup. So, typically, when the kids—the four kids would come home, and my dad, who’s a—a mathematician would say, Okay, tell me what you did chronologically, from the time you got out of school until the time you went to soccer practice, or hula, to the time you arrived home. And then my mom would say, Honey … you know what, tell me how you feel.

 

Oh, you’ve got one on this side—

 

–and one on that side. Perfect blend.

 

Yeah; my mom instilled in me a sense of social justice and equity in all I do. I strive—

 

And your dad could measure it.

 

And my dad could measure it. Yeah; yes. My dad is very strict, growing up. And he … he showed us—showed his love in different ways. So, instead of saying, I love you, he would show us his love by the things he did, his actions.

 

For example, when my family moved from Kahuku to Punahou, I was in the tenth grade. My parents commuted from Honolulu to Laie, five days a week, sometimes more. So that—

 

Rather than make you commute, they commuted.

 

Yup.

 

Wow. How long did they do that?

 

Uh … maybe about a decade.

 

Linda Furuto’s Transition from Kahuku High School to Honolulu Prep Academy Punahou School in the 10th grade was not easy. And although her father is a mathematician…she struggled with the subject in school.

 

That was a culture shock, as well as—

 

M-hm.

 

–an academic shock; right?

 

M-hm. M-hm.

 

What was that like for you socially?

 

It was socially very difficult at first. I remember eating lunch in the bathroom, because I didn’t have any friends, and felt like a lot of folks all already had their cliques.

 

M-hm.

 

But life has a way of always opening a door, sometimes in the least expected ways. And I found a network at Punahou School of friends, lifelong friends who I cherish to this day.

 

How’d you find them?

 

I think Punahou—Punahou has a very nurturing environment.

 

M-hm.

 

And so, I … tried out for the swim team, track, marching band, jazz band.

 

Speech and debate. Yes, Golden Key, Honor Society, various clubs and activities where I learned to find my voice, literally, like in speech and debate.

 

Were you getting As?

 

No.

 

No; I was getting Ds and Fs.

 

I had Ds and Fs my first quarter. I received demerits because I wasn’t passing my classes and I just remember thinking, I’m working, I’m physically, intellectually, mentally working as hard as I possibly can, but I’m still not passing.

 

 

The hardest math class that I’ve ever taken to this day was Algebra II Trigonometry Honors in the tenth grade at Punahou School with uh, Mrs. Craven and Mr. Best. So, that was the year I transferred from Kahuku to Punahou. I was about two and a half years behind my peers. Um … but I really—I really love a challenge, and maybe I’m a little bit stubborn too. But I didn’t want to drop that class.

 

Did your father see you struggling with math—

 

M-hm.

 

–so much?

 

M-hm.

 

And what were his thoughts about that?

 

He let me struggle.

 

Not an enabler.

 

Um, he would say … hypothetically, say I was working on the derivatives, the math problem in—in calculus. He would say … Okay, kid; you want help? I want you to prove to me the fundamental theory about calculus, and then I’ll help you. By the time I had proven a theorem or postulate that would actually help me answer the question, I didn’t need his help anymore. So, it was a life lesson again in helping me – guide my path along—along um, learning about … my own self, my identity, the values, what I—what I was … and continue—continuously willing —to work hard for, to [Indistinct] for.

 

 

Linda Furuto’s perseverance is a defining trait. She works hard on her goals. She earned a math degree from Brigham Young University in Utah, a Master’s in math education from Harvard University and she studied at UCLA for her Doctorate. After almost a decade on the mainland… a job offer…brought Furuto home.

 

I’m very passionate about ethnomathematics, and—

 

What is ethnomathematics?

 

Ethnomathematics is defined as the intersections of culture, historical traditions, sociocultural roots, among others. It encourages the investigations and adaptations of these concepts, both within and outside of the classroom in real world experiences. The goal—

 

That’s the answer to the question, then, when kids say, How is this relevant to me? Why should I take this?

 

Exactly; exactly as you’ve said. The goal of ethnomathematics is to acknowledge that diverse systems and cultural frameworks have existed since the beginning of time, and to help educators foster pathways that lead to increased student engagement through disciplines like mathematics, science, technology, and engineering.

 

… I’m so grateful that the University of Hawaii West Oahu hired me. I was hired as the first math faculty to—to build the math program um, and … I was the only math faculty for the first six years as UH West Oahu transitioned from a two-year to uh, a four-year liberal arts comprehensive university. It was an amazing opportunity to be part of that, because … I utilized Hokulea and ethnomathematics to help me build that program, to seek out, help from the other campuses within the University of Hawaii system, all who helped me design, from the ground up, um, institutional learning outcomes, go through accreditation, admissions and graduation requirements, design a baccalaureate degree in mathematics, um, which would not have been possible without enrollment in mathematics courses increased fourteen hundred percent. We started off—

 

Wow.

 

–with a population of about eight hundred sixty-six students in 2007, and when I left, there were approximately twenty-four hundred students. We had a couple math classes when I started. There were upwards of twenty math classes by the time I left. And, those are quantitative statistics, but qualitatively when we take a look at the individual students who would say things like … I hated math, I used to think that it was … boring and I felt no connection to it, but now I see that math is my culture, that math celebrates me, and mathematics validates who I am, and because of that, I want to be a secondary math teacher in Hawaii. I want to go back to my community on the Leeward side of Oahu, because this is … this is what matters to us and our students. And I think that, to me, speaks … volumes, much more than the quantitative part, just knowing that, the life of a student has in some way, shape, or form been transformed, because that student is a link in generations and will help to raise many, many generations—

 

M-hm.

 

–to come afterwards.

 

In 2013, Linda Furuto accepted a job as an associate professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. There…she continues to encourage her students to think about math in a new way… to integrate math into their everyday process and world view. She has been recognized with two Excellence-In-Teaching awards from the U.H. Board of Regents and the Math Association of America.

 

Could you tell me, if you’re trying to introduce or recruit a student to the study of mathematics, and they want to know, why should I care—

 

Mm.

 

What do you tell them?

 

On the first day of class, I always share with my students is the—is the old adage that, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. And I really believe that’s true. People … people don’t really care about your CV or your resume until you know that you’re gonna walk beside them in their mathematical journey, and beyond that in life as well. I always strive to help my students understand that their knowledge matters, and that their culture matters, and what they bring to the mathematics classroom is … centuries, centuries of rich mathematical traditions. And that just because … their ideas of mathematics aren’t written in a mathematics textbook doesn’t mean that’s not exactly what it is.

 

 

Seems like, Linda, as you talk, I’m thinking very literally and you know, mathematics. And you always kind of take it metaphorically and to … a more expansive place.

 

Mm.

 

A more visionary place. But it all starts with—

 

M-hm.

 

–your sense of how things work.

 

M-hm.

 

Right?

 

So, maybe we can—I’ll go back to the ethnomathematics and STEM institute.

 

Sure.

 

So an example of a literal example, a specific example of mathematics, actually, STEM is, for example, when we go to from the heavens down to the valleys, when we go to Waimea Valley, we um, debark some of the trees with the workers there. And we talk about rock wall formations and the significance of the pohaku stones. And we talk about vectors. So, direction and magnitude in the placement of these stones. We need to know where they go, because we don’t have cement. And as we talk about vectors, we connect them to standards, such as the mathematics common core state standards or the next generation science standards.

 

In terms of the makeup of the rock wall?

 

And the mathematical content involved with attention to precision and finding … beauty, power, clarity, and precision, and symbolic reasoning. So, making the connections be—uh, really in P-20 education, from early childhood education through higher ed. At the four hundred year old Waikalua Loko fishpond, with the Pacific American Foundation, we talk about ellipses and foci. So, why are fishponds oriented in a certain way? Why is the auwai um, the connection between the ocean water and the fresh water – why does it have a certain placement?

 

M-hm.

 

How does that relate to rates of change or derivatives? And how do we take that back to the classroom? And how do students understand what a derivative is, and how does that impact the way that they … not just memorize them for a math test or a physics exam, but then carry it with them so that we can eventually prepare them for college, career, and community readiness?

 

How did math figure prominently in the life of ancient Hawaiians? Who didn’t have our tools. But who loved tools.

 

Great question. There’s no exact or formal term for a mathematician or a scientist, but what they did in order to build with pohaku or what they did to design the—like the structural engineering involved with designing a fishpond, or what they did to … take a look at the ecosystems and how—how we’re connected through place-based education, those are—those are some other ways that they incorporated mathematics.

 

University of Hawaii Associate Professor Linda Furuto is using her knowledge of math principles…as an apprentice navigator and education specialist on Hokulea’s Worldwide Voyage…which was launched in 2014. The Journey is called Malama Honua or “Caring for Island Earth.” Furuto was there at the very beginning of the epic travels-that first leg from Hawaii to Tahiti.

 

Our kumu, like … Nainoa and Bruce Blankenfeld, Kalepa Baybayan, Bob Perkins, as part of my apprentice navigator and education specialist training, they would ask me questions like, Linda, what do you think is the purpose of education? When do you think a child starts learning? And where do you see yourself in forty years? Uh, no pressure.

 

And do it in twenty-five words or less.

 

So, we studied really, really hard. We looked at charts, we mapped things out. And because we had done all that work beforehand . . . as Uncle Pinky Thompson said, ninety percent is preparation, of voyaging is preparation. We’d done that preparation. So, we’d reached the point where we had to trust ourselves. And that’s really hard sometimes, between the squalls and the massive waves, to trust what your naau is telling you. But I do know from experience that … it helps you, and that you need to know that, because when you’re trying to find coconut trees after twenty-five hundred miles … something inside of you has got to trust itself and to know that … that we’ve done the preparation, and to also know that we never sail alone, and even if there’s thirteen people on Hokulea, thousands of people are guiding Hokulea on her journey … on her journey to Keala Kahiki.

 

 

What was that first trip like, the first leg of the worldwide voyage? Tell me a little bit about that.

 

I remember when we left Hilo … Kumukahi, in May 2014.

 

We waited until … nature told us it was the right time. And it was the right time, because when we hit the … the intertropical convergent zone and the doldrums, which can typically be dark, very dark, we had the full moon, the light of the full moon guiding us like a spotlight. And we could see the door, this like quadrilateral at the end of the horizon, just showing us where we needed to guide Hokulea to get through. We barely touched the sweep, which is how we steer the canoe, because it’s Keala Kahiki Hokulea was finding her way home, from Hawaii to Tahiti. And we used principles of science, technology, engineering and math to um, use weight distribution, forward or aft so that we could, guide the canoe into the wind or off the wind. We also used … sails. We brought so many sails, so we could use the dynamics of the winds to get us there.

 

Rangiroa was the first land that we saw after sixteen days of being out on the open ocean. And Nainoa said, Okay guys, you know your calculations, but you need to put that on the side and you need to trust your naau. You need to trust what it’s telling you, because those are the signs that are gonna help you find the land. And we did.

 

I love the Promise to Children document that we’re carrying with us on Hokulea around the world. And part of it reads, We believe the betterment of humanity is inherently possible, and we believe our schools from early childhood education through graduate studies are a powerful force for good. As we sail forty-seven thousand nautical miles around the earth, we will share Hawaii’s gifts of kindness and caring with our—with our brothers and sisters.

 

To me, the real highlight was just seeing the smiles of the children and … having them experience um … their, our shared culture. And thousands have been able to come onboard the floating classrooms, Hokulea and Hikianalia, models of island sustainability and exploration of ancient wisdom and modern connections.

 

What’s it like, just day-by-day, on the Hokulea, heading out across a huge expanse of ocean? Where do you sleep?

 

We sleep in the hulls. The hulls are pretty deep, and there’s a platform that goes on top of the hull, with a little puka, so you can descend below. And when you descend below, we keep, there we keep like food, water, miscellaneous supplies, and then … so you have a puka. And then, there’s a hatch cover. On top of the hatch cover is a plywood. On top of the plywood is a foam mattress; it’s maybe a few inches thick. That’s what we sleep on. And then, there’s a canvas … a canvas tent above us. But we’re not dry.

 

You’re not dry?

 

No, we’re not dry.

 

Throughout the night, you’re not?

 

We are not—well, um … people like me who are apprentice and at the very bottom, we’re never dry.

 

And you could still sleep well?

 

M-hm; m-hm. Because we know we’re exactly where we need to be. And so, when our master navigators they sleep at the—at the back of canoe, where it’s drier. But eventually, maybe we’ll get to move back–a little bit more each voyage.

 

Linda Furuto says navigator Nainoa Thompson…one of her mentors…asked her several times to become an apprentice before she said yes. Furuto had to be sure she was ready for the monumental responsibility.

 

… I realize that this is a lifelong commitment, and that this is something that I’m pledging to do for the rest of my life, not just for myself, but to help in schools and to help through … education, P-20 education and beyond the classroom through place-based education. And these are things that I think about every day, because this is my commitment to—to honor my teachers

 

This is—this is my path, this is not something I asked for, and never asked to be an apprentice navigator. I never asked to be on that first leg from Hawaii to Tahiti. It’s a gift that comes with lifelong kuleana, and I embrace it.

 

 

It’s a lot of kuleana. And you’re looking for the—I mean, you’re on your way to having that burden.

 

I do think about that. And Leslie, if I could share with you a quote. Just because I think navigating past, present, and future visions is one of my pillars, and something that I think about every single day. As we were getting ready to leave for Tahiti, Nainoa called me up about eight-thirty at night. He’s like … Eh, Linda; what you doing?

 

But Leslie, I was really watching TV.

 

But I didn’t want to tell him that.

 

I was looking at the stars, Nainoa.

 

Exactly. And it—yes, I saw this, at this declination. We ended up meeting about ten-thirty at night, and we went walking at Paiko’s. And …

 

That’s East Honolulu.

 

M-hm.

 

Lagoon.

 

M-hm.

 

Okay.

 

M-hm. And we watched the star constellations, Hokulea, Hawaii’s Venus star, and her companion star Hikianalia. So, our Taurus and Spica just rising in the heavens. And Nainoa imparted wisdom that I hope I’ll always carry with me. And he said, Linda, you have to have a vision. If you don’t, someone will take it away from you, or they’ll give you theirs. And that’s really important. We need to always be grounded in what we’re willing to sail for.

 

At the time of this conversation in 2015, Linda Furuto had sailed on 3 legs of Hokulea’s voyage around the globe. Mahalo to Math Education Associate Professor Linda Furuto of the University of Hawaii at Manoa 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.

 

 

CREDITS: (30-40 SEC)

 

Two of my favorite places on Hokulea are the front and the back. On the back is a plaque; it’s for our na aumakua and it starts with Pele. And when we have the gods and goddesses, and up to this day, people who have gone before us uh, Papa Mau Piailug, our very first teacher and master navigator, um, and we have Lacy Veach, NASA astronaut and Punahou alum who says you need to take Hokulea around the world because Hawaii is a laboratory for living well on islands, including Island Earth.

 

Mm.

 

And when you have Eddie Aikau, whose plaque on the front of the canoe—so that’s my other favorite part. It reads, No greater love hath a man than this, that he laid down his life for his friends.   And I’m filled with courage, and I’m filled with peace, that I know I’m in the right place.

 

[END]

 

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.

 

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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.

 

Leahey & Leahey

Jim and Kanoa Leahey, Hawaii’s father-and-son sports reporting duo, prove that the liveliest discussions happen with family and friends at the kitchen table. Join them as they talk story with special guests about “sports and other living things.”

LEAHEY & LEAHEY
UH President David Lassner and Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman

 

This evening’s guests will be University of Hawaii President David Lassner and Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman.

 

This program is available in high-definition and will be rebroadcast on Wed., Oct. 22 at 11:30 pm and Sun., Oct. 26 at 3:30 pm.