The Group

I’ve detailed the periphrastic and circuitous path that led me to Makawao in three posts, One, Two, and Three. When I left off, Dave and I had just finished building a boat, I was living in the projection room of an old theater, I was making good money as a cabinetmaker, and I was set for life. Hah.

It happened that I was involved with a nurse, although of course she didn’t live in the projection room. It was barely big enough for one person, made of steel and without windows. I always have had a great love for nurses, they care about people. One day, she said some people she knew from Honolulu were coming to Makawao to speak. It was a group led by a PhD psychotherapist named Dr. Charles Hawkins, whom everyone called “Chuck”.

chuck hawkins.png

They were touring Maui giving talks. In addition to discussing their therapeutic work, they about the kind of meditation that they were doing. It was a deep full breathing meditation, with the exhalation coming from a strong push from deep in the abdomen.

The group had a strange history. Almost all of them had been in therapy with Chuck in New York City. For reasons that never came up, Chuck had decided to move to Hawaii, and more than two dozen of his clients and ex-clients made the move with him.

Of the group, there were seven trainee therapists (all but one of whom were ex-patients of Chuck’s), and about two dozen clients who made the move to Hawaii. Chuck purchased a property on Makiki Street in Honolulu, with three buildings on it, 22 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms between them.

I went to hear them talk on Maui. After the talk, I met them. They talked about what they were doing. They made such good sense, I just sorta stayed with them. I thought they understood how life worked. I didn’t realize then that they had less than half of the story, but life is often like that.

They’d never been to Maui, so I offered to be their guide. The next day we went around the island. When night came, we went for a walk up in the Haleakala Crater. I’d taken some acid. I was barefoot on the rough lava. Didn’t matter, because it was like I had headlights on my big toes. My feet seemed to see on their own, and I was able to walk in the faint starlight of the night through rough terrain without stumbling.

At the time we were sightseeing around Maui, I was just getting hints that they were engaged in using LSD as an adjunct to doing psychotherapy. When I found out, of course I was fascinated. I’d been the subject of what was called psychotherapy in the Navy nuthouse and then in the Army nuthouse. Plus I was very experienced with the effects of LSD. I wanted to find out how it could be used to assist people. I started talking with them about moving to Honolulu and joining forces with them.

They didn’t know quite what to answer. I wasn’t a trainee therapist, and I wasn’t a client, so what was I? I didn’t fit any category. However, it was a fortuitous time, misunderstandings and coincidence. By coincidence, their cook had just left the group. The asked me if I could cook … off we go again. I figured, can I cook? I started out by learning to cook from my mom, a single mother of four sons. Somehow I got appointed to learn all the “girl stuff”— darning socks, knitting, sewing … and even a bit of cooking.

I got further into cooking when I was a senior in high school. Our mom snapped, and she left home. I woke up one morning to find she’d left me $1,000 with instructions to take care of my two younger brothers. My cousin, a few years older than I was, came to live with us, and she and I handled the cooking for the four of us for about four months until I graduated. My brothers went to live with our dad and I went on the road.

My first actual cooking job was a strange one, as most things in my life tend to be. When I was eighteen, I went to Alaska to make my fortune. I did not succeed. I was starving in Kodiak when I went to the government employment office, where after a couple weeks of showing up hungrier every day, they asked me if I could cook.

Since I was very, very hungry, and I’d cooked a lot of dinners for four, I said “Sure”. So they sent me to a hamburger joint on the outskirts of town. The owner showed me around the place, went over the menu with me, said “You’re in charge”, and left me in to run the joint. One waitress. One kitchen. One eighteen-year-old cook.

So, I started in. I figured I could cook all the stuff that was there, it was just a burger place. So I made hamburgers. I made shakes. I made french fries. Grilled cheese sandwiches. If I had a question, I asked the waitress. Plus which, I could eat! I’d lost twenty pounds since I’d first arrived to Alaska, so having enough food was a wonder.

Things were going swimmingly until a guy came weaving in one evening who had obviously partaken of ethanol. He ordered chicken. Up ’til then, nobody had ordered chicken. I asked the waitress how they cooked the chicken. She shrugged and said, in the deep fat fryer.

So I took a couple of pieces of chicken out of the refrigerator and tossed them in the deep fat fryer. I cooked them until they were nice and brown, what did I know? I arranged them on the plate with the requested fries and handed them to the shambling victim of what appeared to be equal measures of chronic and acute alcohol poisoning.

After cleaning up and wiping off the counters after the order, I looked over … yikes! From behind the counter, I could see the red blood dripping from the chicken leg and falling on the guy’s white plate … turns out deep frying chicken you gotta do it slow. Who knew? Well, I mean other than every cook on the planet, who knew? Fortunately, at that moment there were probably only about seventeen actually functioning neurons, and those buried deep in the poor man’s cranium … he ate the chicken down without a murmur.

After a couple more weeks, one day I realized I was running out of foodstuffs. I asked the owner. After putting me off for a couple days, he told me he’d won the restaurant in a poker game and just wanted to sell off the stock.

I could see the end coming, so every day I took my wages and the waitress’s wages out of the till. I knew he wasn’t going to pay us, and he didn’t, he just disappeared one day without a word to either of us. I locked the place up and walked away with a clear conscience. That was my first job cooking, it lasted about four weeks.

Then a few years later on I’d done some short-order cooking in a joint on a beach boardwalk, mostly breakfasts and lunches. Bust two eggs at once a griddle, one in each hand, and toss the shells all in one move. Cook the burgers, fry up hotcakes, make the hash browns, easy money.

But I digress …as a result of my experience, I figured I knew my way around a kitchen … ha. Always more to learn. I said “Sure, I’ve worked as a cook” and then and there I was in charge of feeding thirty-five people breakfast five days a week and dinner seven days a week, along with all menu preparation and all purchasing.

So I told Dave that I was giving him my share in the boat. I reserved usage rights on the boat if I ever got back to Maui, and I did get out on it one more time, a few years later. Ah, what a wonderful small sailing craft that was. Anyhow, I packed up my gear. I made a quick trip out to Makena Beach, where David Cohen was living, and told him and my friends in Makena that I was going off to Honolulu with the crazies. And I jumped on the plane with Chuck and the rest of the crew, and moved into the Makiki Street House.

I went on Google Earth Street View today to see if I could get a picture of the Makiki Street House. Amazingly, what came up looks a whole lot like it looked to me at that time, when I was involved in weekly LSD-aided psychotherapy …

makiki st house.png

Taken straight from Google Earth. Above and to the left of the white sign, you can see the roof of the two-story section taking off from the rest of the second story and heading out on a voyage …

After I’d been there a couple of weeks, Chuck asked me to also take on being the business manager for the group, as well as the chance to become a trainee psychotherapist myself. The second one would entail a lot of work, because I would have to see all the clients as well as pursuing my own therapy with him and his wife. I agreed. I was young. I was bulletproof. I was an idiot.

Always more to come … to be continued …


Rain just starting here, the forest is happy. What’s not to like?

My warmest wishes for all,

w.

5 thoughts on “The Group

  1. Thanks, a great read, it must be raining incessantly. I can hardly wait …

    I loved “they had less than half of the story, but life is often like that.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Arrgh. Teasing the story line. Making us want more. Do you think you’re Irwin Allen! I couldn’t make up fiction as good as you’ve lived. In any case, thanks, read you next time.

    Like

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