My friend Richard Fenton got busted for smoking a joint of marijuana by the Scottsdale Police. At that time and I suspect it still is now the U.S. Military uses it as a recruiting tool to get people to join the military. He was told he could join the Marines, go to Vietnam and help the government kill women and children, or he could go to prison. Sadly he joined the Marines.
Richard Fenton spent his year in Vietnam operating an M-79 grenade launcher. But he was also moral and ethical enough not to kill any women or children in Vietnam. Hell I don’t think he killed anybody.
On the search and destroy patrols he went on they were supposed to go from point A, to point B, and finally to point Z where at the end of the day they would be airlifted back to their base. Being a smart boy and not wanting to be killed by the Viet Cong, nor wanting to kill any woman and children his group of soldiers would go directly from point A to point Z. At point Z they would sit around all day smoking dope, well not dope, but the high quality marijuana that grows in Vietnam.
After his tour in Vietnam they stationed him at Shofield barracks which is a Marine base Hawaii just north of Honolulu. He invited me to visit him and stay in Hawaii, and I took him up on the offer.
I on letters I wrote to Fenton on the outside I would always write “The U.S. Marine Corps builds Lee Harvey Oswalds”, that pissed off his officer so much that Fenton told me his officer ordered him to have me stop writing it on the letters.
I flew from Phoenix to Los Angles and then on to Honolulu, Hawaii where I met my friend Richard Fenton. That was long before America had become a full blown police state. Him and his Marine buddies were unhappy that I didn’t bring a kilo of pot from Phoenix to Honolulu. But I am a coward and wouldn’t have done that if I could.
I stayed in a place called the “Hippie Hilton”. It is an apartment complex in Waikiki Beach several floors tall. It was next to the McDonalds, and the International Market Place. Maybe 10 marines lived in the place. They just paid the rent and on weekends when they came to Honolulu they stayed there. On weekdays me, Alex, and a guy whose name I can’t remember lived there. With 13 people paying the rent it was a pretty cheap place to live. And it was pretty mellow place on week days.
Alex was a real good chess player. Or at least by my standards. He taught me how to play chess at a reasonable level. I almost tied a really good Polynesian guy once. But it wasn’t because I was so good. Hell I would not have know I almost tied him if he had not pointed it out. He wasn’t paying attention and freaked out when he saw that I could make a move that would tie the game.
On weekends when the Marines came to town if the partying got too crazy I would walk over to Waikiki Beach and sleep there.
We got a lot of food and booze from the PX. The PX is the military store the Marine could buy stuff. Most of the stuff is dirt cheap compared to the prices in civilian stores. But our military friends would have to go with us to buy the stuff at the PX.
We had a community car which the Marines used to get around Honolulu. It was an old beat up VW bug, with a wicker chair on the passenger’s side. Anybody could drive it. It was registered to a military PO Box in San Francisco. Any time you got a parking ticket you were supposed to shove the parking ticket into the glove box. The glove box was packed full of parking tickets.
In Hawaii a lot of the cops used their own cars, or maybe they were plain clothes cars. They had a light that they would yank out and paste on the roof with suction cups when they wanted to pull over someone.
We though it was odd that flatbed trucks would deliver beer to all the stores and bars. We always joked about hijacking one of those flatbed beer trucks.
They have outrigger boats that they take tourists on. The outrigger boat works like a surfboard. You paddle and catch a wave and then pretty much surf to the shore. One of these outfits needed a warm body to help get a group of cash paying tourists for a trip and they ask me to come along as a warm body to do the paddling. I did. It was the only time I actually went surfing and caught wave.
I was a long haired hippy then as I am now. It was interesting because all the Japanese tourists who came to Hawaii would snap a photo of me. I guess when they got back to Japan they would tell there friends in Tokyo see this is what an American hippy looks like. Japanese is the 2nd language there. Most of the stores and hotels have their sign in Japanese in addition to English.
The main drag there is Kalakala Blvd. That is the first time I ever legally went to a topless bar on that street.
I used to hang out with two sisters who from moved there from Laguna Beach, California. I probably got along with them because I also lived in Orange County. Their dad was a big wig in Taco Bell and for business reasons they moved to Hawaii. I think one of them liked me.
I remember eating sugar cane there. It is ok but I don’t think I would eat it on a regular basis. I ate a lot of sigh ming, which I probably spelled wrong. Sigh ming is ramon noodles, which they would cover the with American chili beans and meat. I did not eat hot spicy food at that time.
Also there is not majority race. Everybody is a minority. And neighborhoods are not segregated like they are in Phoenix or Los Angeles. The Japanese don’t live in one part of town, and the Polynesian living in a different part, with the whites living in a third area. All the neighborhoods were pretty much mixed up. Which I though was pretty cool.
I think Hawaii gives a lot of people claustrophobia. Oahu is just a tiny island that is smaller then Los Angeles County or Maricopa County. You really can’t go anywhere. You can fly to the other islands. I should have done that. But I didn’t.
Back in those days there was heavy drug use in the military. Every dope dealer in Honolulu knew the military pay days. Also there was a problem with age of consent. In Hawaii it was legal for 14 year olds to have sex. In the military it was legal to have sex if you were 16 years old. So a soldier could have sex legally with an officers daughter if she was 14 under Hawaii law, but still get into trouble under military law because the age of consent was 16.
The bad news was my friend Richard Fenton died in Hawaii. The official version of his death was that he had a “heart attack”. The guy used drugs very heavily so I guess perhaps it could have been a drug overdose. Also he could have been killed by some dumb ass Marine mistake, and the Marines covered it up with the “heart attack” excuse. 19 year old kids don’t often die of “heart attacks”.