This Issue's honorary RoadPoet...
Don Blanding - 1894-1957

Donald Benson Blanding was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma Territory, Nov. 7, 1894. Blanding attended public schools in Lawton, Oklahoma, graduating from high school there in 1912, and from 1913 to 1915 he was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. He joined a literary group that included such emerging writers as Floyd Dell, Sherwood Anderson, Ben Hecht, and Maxwell Bodenheim, and during that period painted a scene set for Hecht's play, 'Publico.' On his way back to Oklahoma he saw the play, 'The Bird of Paradise,' in Kansas City, Missouri, and, entranced by its portrayal of Hawaii, he started within a week journey to that island.

In Honolulu he worked a cartoonist for the Honolulu Advertiser, painted portraits, and produced an amateur play for the Junior League. While he was working as it commercial artist for an advertising firm in that city, he was given a temporary assignment as copy writer. He wrote his copy in rhyme, and for two years his daily poems appeared in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. These poems had for their subjects local people and events, and each poem made reference to Aji-No-Moto, a Japanese soup powder, Amusing and diverse, the poems were very widely read. He called his first collection 'Leaves from a Grass House,' but was forced to publish it at his own expense, with some cooperation from the newspaper. The edition of 2000 copies sold out quickly, and Patten Co., Ltd., publishers of Honolulu, took over publication in 1923. A second collection, 'Paradise Loot,' appeared in 1925, and a third, 'Flowers of the Rainbow,' in 1926.

He then selected what he considered the best of his poems and, adding some new ones and his own pen-and-ink illustrations, submitted the compilation to a New York publisher, who brought it out in 1928 under the title, 'Vagabond's House.' The book met with immediate success and by 1948 had gone into its 48th edition and sold more than 150,000 copies. After 1928 he wrote both poetry and prose, and his published works, some of them with his own illustrations, were: 'Virgin of Waikiki' (1929), 'Hula Moons' (1930), 'Songs of the Seven Senses' and 'Stowaways in Paradise' (1931), 'Let Us Dream' (1933), 'Memory Room' (1935), 'Pictures of Paradise' (1936), 'The Rest of the Road' (1937), 'Drifter's Gold' (1939), 'Floridays' (1940), 'Pilot Bails Out' (1943), 'Today Is Here' (1946), 'Mostly California' (1948), 'A Grand Time for Living' (1950), 'Joy Is an Inside Job' (1953), and 'Hawaii Says Aloha' (1955). He made his final home in Los Angeles in 1955 and in that year made a lecture tour of the Midwest, and in the following year he delivered 236 lectures in all parts of the United States.

In 1954 he received an honorary Doctorate of Literature degree from Jackson College, Hawaii. He was a member of the Author's League of America, Inc. Don Blanding died without children in Los Angeles, California, June 9, 1957.

Don Blanding Epitaph

Do not carve on stone or wood,
"He was honest" or "He was good."
Write in smoke on a passing breeze
Seven words... and the words are these,
Telling all that a volume could,
"He lived, he laughed and... he understood."

Vagabond Life 1894-1957

We do not know what strange port shall be our last,
Nor care, Today we feast, tomorrow fast.
The treasure found is less to us than treasure sought,
And we most dearly treasure trifles dearly bought,
While all those tender things,love friendship, home
That haunt the dreams of us who drift and roam
We trade for worthless star-dust which we vainly seek
In nameless valleys lost behind some mist-shrouded peak.

Exiles From The Isles

You see them at the docks on steamer day
When ships for Honolulu sail away,
Those exiles from their island paradise.
Behind each sad masked face a story lies.
Why did they go. . . what caused them to depart?
The longing eyes betray a homesick heart.

When they first started keeping rendezvous
They called "Aloha" to the friends they knew
And made brave camouflage to hide their tears
But as the months dragged into weary years
Their eyes would search in vain along the rail
For one familiar face that they could hail.
And yet, they never miss a steamer day
When ships for Honolulu sail away.
They laugh and wave goodbye until at last
They hear the final raucous warning blast
Then cry, through lips that tremble with old pain,
"Aloha oe . . . until we meet again,"
To one familiar passenger they've found. . .
Their hearts are on that steamer. . . homeward bound.

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