poet laureate of Hawaii
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."
Before the reader decides that this was in fact Don Blanding's tragically-hip epitaph, let it be known that this is just one of the writer's many popular poems. Although famous as a poet, Blanding worked many occupations over the course of his life. Many allowed him to express an artistic side, while some simply paid the bills. Blanding fell in love with Hawaii early on and lived there for many years, which had a profound influence on his artistic undertakings. Blanding joined the army twice, undergoing officer training in 1918 but avoiding wartime service when the Armistice was signed on November 11th. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Blanding joined the army again in April 1942, before being honorably discharged in 1943 with the rank of corporal.
Don Blanding's Many Jobs
- Drawing teacher
- Theater usher
- Play producer
- 2nd lieutenant in the army, later corporal
- Film narrator
- Speaker on the lecture circuit
- Honolulu Star Bulletin columnist (Don Blanding Says "Aloha")
- Commercial writer
- Copy writer
Blanding is said to have saved Joan Crawford's life. During his high-school years he scooped her up after a jump from the household porch left her cut and bleeding profusely. Blanding quickly phoned the doctor and kept her in this world. Don was married for a time, to Dorothy Putnam beginning in 1940, but they divorced in 1947 and had no children. In 1954 he received an honorary Doctorate of Literature degree from Jackson College, Hawaii.
While working as a commercial artist and copy writer for an advertising firm in Honolulu, Blanding gathered together his best work to be published 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.***
Some Lines Scrawled on the Door of Vagabond's House
West of the sunset stands my house;
There..and east of the dawn;
North to the Arctic runs my yard;
South to the Pole, my lawn;
Seven seas are to sail my ships
To the ends of the earth... beyond;
Drifter's gold is for me to spend -
For I am a vagabond.
Fabulous cities are mine to loot;
Queens of the earth to wed;
Fruits of the world are mine to eat;
The couch of a king, my bed;
All that I see is mine to keep;
Foolish the fancy seems,
But I am rich with the wealth of Sight'
The coin of the realm of dreams...
A less than comprehensive list of the author's works follows...