South Pacific

May 26, 2008

In the NYTimes yesterday, and on NPR today, Frank Rich explains how a revival of the musical South Pacific is touching a nerve in present-day America.

As I read Rich, I remembered Chief Louis on Paama Island (in Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides, setting of the musical South Pacific) handing me a dollar bill overprinted with the letters HAWAII. He’d been given the bill when he was part of the Melanesian work crew that during WWII helped the Americans build the runway at Bauer Field on the island of Efate. Cheif Louis didn’t remember ever meeting James Michener, author of the book that inspired the musical, but he did remember Frank, a GI from Florida, and he wondered if Erin and I knew him. We didn’t , of course, but we mentioned that we had relatives who had served in the Pacific during the war.

Today was Memorial Day here in the U.S. With my dad and Dot visiting from Hawaii, we spent the day outside, enjoying the freedom to pick strawberries, cook jam, nap in the hammocks, swim at the Farm and listen to Big Fat Gap singing bluegrass tunes.

I’m off to bed now, weary, and grateful for Chief Louis and Frank from Florida and uncles who shipped out and soldiers buried at home and abroad.

Anton Zuiker

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