Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Dad's Latest and Greatest
My father's latest book has been published -- yet you won't be able to buy it anywhere! It's All Men Are Brothers: The Life and Times of Francis William Damon by Hawaii's resident genius, Paul "Doc" Berry. Only a few hundred were commissioned so that they might happily populate Hawaii's libraries and museums. Because I edited it (I'm mentioned twice! On the back flap and in the Acknowledgements.) I managed to snag a few copies for myself. It's a fascinating biography lavishly illustrated with authentic old photos, and based on newspaper accounts and papers provided by the Damon family itself. Did you know that Honolulu's Chinatown was deliberately burned down in 1900? You can see the horrible progress of the fire in this book, block by block, thanks to fascinating contemporary photographs.
Anyone raised in Hawaii knows the Damon name, but the rest of the world probably doesn't know that the Damon's were (and to some extent still are) an extremely wealthy and influential haole (that's Hawaiian for caucasion) family. Francis William was one of the poorest of the group, and he spent his life quietly working for the good of others, particularly the Chinese immigrants who were worked hard and exploited by the sugar cane industry. Early on Frank (as he preferred to be called) saw that part of Hawaii's strength would lie in her multi-culturalism, so he founded the Mills Institute on the grounds of his estate to educate immigrant children. The Mills Insistute later was expanded to become the Mid-Pacific Institute, still one of Hawaii's outstanding secondary schools.
Dad dedicated the book to "Hawaii's teachers, past and present, our keys to a better society." That just about says it all.