REEL SERVICES/HAWAII, INC.
In Loving Memory
3/3/18 - 5/27/03
[If you're new to this page you might want to start at the bottom and work your way up. Very symbolic! And, if you ever met my dad, especially during his Looney Tunes or commercial directing days, please send me an email here to say "hi". If you just happen to have a "Pop story" I'd love to add it to this page! Mahalo nui...]
Dec. 31, 2007
Year End Musings...
Unfortunately, Staci wasn't in Hawaii to see this beautiful sunset. She is in, of all places...Antarctica, which has got to be the antithesis of Hawaii!
The highlight of 2007 was, without a doubt, the visit from Mom and Pop's dearest friends...decades long best friends...Dick and Jim. I hadn't seen them in way too many years and the 3 of us anticipated their trip for over 9 months.
Dick is the consummate planner and he didn't miss a minute! He missed his calling. He should've been a travel agent! Their first week was spent in Honolulu at Staci's condo. My town pad is just down the elevator so when not out and about we still got to spend lots of time together. I was called for each evening. Loved it! We explored Waikiki, restaurants, shops, luaus and shows. They explored various tourist attractions and the island in general while I worked. We ate and we drank...and...we drank and we ate!
We attended one luau on Oahu where, initially, mai tais were free. Yesiree, they sure were! Here's the result of Jim and I posing for Dick...and no photo manipulation took place!!!
Staci joined us for the second week which was spent at Kona Village Resort on the Big Island. This place is, without a doubt, my most favorite spot on earth. It's absolutely fabulous. And...the food! Oh myyyyy gaaaaawd! THE FOOD! For yet another week, we ate and we drank and we drank and we ate. We were smart enough, this time, to let an employee take a picture!
But, best of all, we just chilled and chatted and told funny Pop stories! We have decades worth!
My new year's resolution is an annual get together with the guys who still care enough to want to keep the left-over Monahans in their lives! We left-overs couldn't be happier!
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou, everyone. And, Pop? I'll see you by the boats tomorrow. Just thought I'd throw ya a little loop there! Me ke aloha pumehana.
Dec. 24, 2007
Christmas as a kid in the Monahan household was quite an experience. For the most part it was wonderfully traditional in a commercial rather than a religious sort of way. Mom was in charge of the household ambiance and shopping. Her decorations were pretty intense so, during my small kid days, they usually remained up until Valentine's Day for her to get the biggest bang for her laborious buck! Pop went along with all of her decisions, even ones he was less than happy about...including 2 1/2 months of holiday embelishments! He wasn't one for speaking his mind so the only way I knew he disapproved of something was by the degree of his humor. The more he disliked it...the funnier he got! I spent a lot of time looking for gag gifts and presenting them with a straight face just to get a reaction! They were referred to as "rotten props" and best family friends, Dick and Jim, also became part of this gift exchange.
Pop perpetuated Santa almost 'til the day he died. The last Christmas I spent with them, he still left cookies and Kahlua...yes! Kahlua!...for Santa on Christmas Eve. And, we all marveled on Christmas morning at how those treats had disappeared and a thank you note was left in their place! He never allowed any of us to leave our bedrooms on Christmas morning 'til he gave us the signal. This went on way into my 40s! It was his job to get a roaring fire going, one he'd prepped the night before, make sure the living room was toasty warm and that all the stockings were hung by the chimney with care!
One year, in particular, stands out. 1950! I was 6 years old and into everything related to Santa Claus. The time frame known as 'one year' took forever. The longest year was between Christmas'. It was Christmas Eve and it was my habit to go to bed extra early in the hopes of speeding up the arrival of Santa and the next morning. Of course, I didn't sleep! My bedroom door was left ajar in the hope of catching a glimpse of this red suited wonder. Mom and Pop had a small open house cocktail party in progress which I knew would delay Santa's arrival. Drats! Then, to my surprise, I saw Santa walking down the hall. He was barefoot. His hat was askew. His jacket was unbuttoned and...where the heck was his belly? I quickly closed my eyes so that he'd think I was asleep. I didn't want to chance him leaving anything less than the requisite number of gifts! Then...he appeared again...walking down the hall in the other direction! I even saw his t-shirt! This was more than I could bear! My heart beat was in overdrive! I couldn't believe it. I. Saw. Santa! And I was...TERRIFIED! The next morning I told my folks what I'd witnessed. They didn't believe me. But, how could they refute it with all the presents placed under the tree?
Years later I found out that "Santa" was family friend, John Leberman, who is mentioned elsewhere on this web page! It seems John had attended another Christmas party (or 3!) and decided to dress up as Santa even tho' no children were present! Because Pop had a nutty sense of humor he attracted like minds! By the time John got to our house, much time and even more martinis later, the costume had somewhat given way to comfort! The barefoot, disheveled shuffle up and down the hall was to the bathroom! Santa needed to use a bathroom? Whoda thunk?! He wasn't even aware of my presence in a darkened room. I recall Pop telling me that John spent the night in the living room, waking up in time to depart before the real Santa arrived! That was sure a close call!
Merry Christmas, Poppo. See ya tomorrow afternoon. I never miss getting my feet wet in Hawaii's beautiful water on Christmas Day. I know that's where I'll feel your strongest presence. I love you.
July 27, 2007
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUGS BUNNY!!!
Once tv sets became living room fixtures, I grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, usually on the week-ends. And watching Bugs on the big screen prior to a movie was sheer heaven! Of course I had no idea of my dad's close relationship with that wascally wabbit until 2001 so I can honestly say, with no bias, that Bugs was my favorite cartoon character! Apparently I wasn't into reading credits! I love the 'toon when Bugs walks out during the opening credits and, with back to camera, reads them aloud mispronouncing every name...including Pop's! But what's so amazing to me is how prolific and hysterically funny the Schlesinger team was...over and over and over... over the top funny! When I asked Pop what it was like to work in that environment all he could say was, "It was a blast!". I can only imagine!
Today is Bugs' birthday. His birth year is 1940 according to various web sites but it appears his birth was preceded by a 2 year incarnation as "Happy Rabbit"! Regardless, this entry's cool, Monahan factoid is that Pop was present when Bugs Bunny was named. Click HERE to listen to a short audio clip...in his own words.
July 27 is doubly important in our family. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHELE!
June 17, 2007
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, Poppo!
The recent, tragic death of a Blue Angels pilot caused me to reminisce with friends about my connection to that illustrious group.
Former Blue Angel, Capt. Stoney Mayock, was a tenant of my dad's for quite awhile. Can't remember what Stoney did in civilian life, altho' realtor comes to mind, but he and Pop became friends.
My folks and I were invited to a party at the Mayock's home in Laguna Beach; 1977, iirc. Stoney and his wife were hosting the Blue Angel's who were appearing in El Toro.
It was a great party and I had my Polaroid camera on hand. Somehow...towards the end of the evening...ummm...I got all the Blue Angels autographs...on my...errr...upper chest...ya know...uhhh...a few inches below my adam's apple! There was absolutely no disrobing or anything that could be rated R...or X...barely PG! My dad took the picture fer cryin' out loud! It's currently in storage but as soon as I find it I'll make sure to upload it here! My mom was hellbent on me dating one of the Angels...didn't make any difference which one! I didn't...but we all were invited to the performance. Whatta great group of guys.
Thanks for the memory, Pop. You were so funny that night; truly on your game! See ya by the ocean in a little bit...
May 27, 2007 - 4 YEARS LATER...
Time sure flies. The remedy most cited for a painful loss...TIME...is true, for the most part. A colleague of mine mentioned recently that when the time comes and she loses her parents she's heading straight for me...because of how she perceives my own, personal healing. I doubt she's aware that it's been 4 years for me. Memories, once again, bring laughter; rarely tears, but I'm still amazed how, when I least expect it, a case of misty eyes will hit.
I've been known to hang out in an online forum, HawaiiThreads.com. It's membership boasts quite an eclectic group of people who cover subjects as diverse as Hawaiian sovereignty to the 2008 presidential race, American Idol to one's favorite breakfast cereal! Some of the posted topics elicit great memories. The latter was no exception!
I remember when I was a small child and household expenses tended to exceed income, my dad would make me his "Special Susie Breakfast"...shredded wheat biscuits with a little butter on top, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar and topped with...hot water!!! Not just plain, ol', hot tap water; rather, a larger production involving a whistling tea kettle and it's sound being the audible alarm that breakfast was about to be served. Pop's presentation and the story that went with it made me believe it was the treat to end all treats! I used to beg for that breakfast! I was probably in my 30s before Pop told me why he used water in place of milk...and how relieved he was that there was still some butter in the fridge! Shredded wheat must've been exceptionally cheap during that time. Now that I think about it, what a creative answer to a bread and water meal!!! Creativity was definitely Pop's forte! Once the financial tides turned in his favor he still continued to make that breakfast for special occasions! I insisted on it.
While I haven't had this odd combo in decades, this memory has reignited my desire for another "Special Susie Breakfast"! Somehow I don't think it'll taste the same without my dad preparing and serving it, as the key ingredient was...love.
So, Poppo, Staci's in town. We each sent a lei your way today, this time from one of your favorite Honolulu haunts, the Outrigger Canoe Club. Me ke aloha from 2 of the many people who still miss the heck out of you!
March 4, 2007
A belated HAU`OLI LA HANAU, Poppo!
Yep! One day belated! I'll blame it on a new scanner and my resistance to new learning curves! But I didn't forget to have a little beach time in your honor yesterday!
I realized last week that I hadn't touched on yet another career my dad successfully tackled...one most of you would never guess. Pop was a sign painter...a really, really good sign painter, I might add! But being really good didn't necessarily translate to comfortably covering all the monthly bills! Those were some lean years but from my now adult POV, they were some of the best years of my life. I got to hang around my dad a lot and, as you'll read about below, I had a very cool best friend!
Sign painting occupied Pop's days between the end of his cartoon writing and the start of his commercial directing...the late 1940s to early 50s. It allowed him to live and work in Laguna. He had a little shop in the Sleepy Hollow area just steps away from the steps to the beach. This is an early photo of Sleepy Hollow that resides on this wonderful, history of Laguna page. Pop's shop was approximately mid photo. He'd paint a couple of letters then take a swim. Lather, rinse, repeat 'til the sign was finished or 'til he had a snoot full of sand from body surfing! When I moved to Hawaii in 1978, a couple of his signs were still hanging around town.
In front of his shop, fronting South Coast Hwy. was a pottery and souvenir shop.
I still remember, to this day, the abalone shell ash trays for sale. Proprietress, Alvina, gave me one which I proudly displayed in my room. If my memory serves me, that favorite souvenir eventually found it's way to the living room during one of my parent's frequent parties. Maybe that's why I never smoked...the desecration of my favorite objet d'art was too much for me to bear!
Anywhoooo...Sleepy Hollow and the sign shop are such fond memories. Ditto for Choochee; a spider monkey owned by one of the retail store proprietors but who resided at the sign shop. Choochee was an incredible rascal which is why he resided behind the retail store and not in it! He had an affinity for endearing himself to female customers then reaching down their blouses or pulling their strapless bathing suit tops...down! He even grabbed the neck of Robert Story's t-shirt and "stretched it a mile", as Robert recalls! Choochee and I were best buddies; both of us small which is what bonded us. The 2 of us would spend hours playing after school and on week-ends. Sometimes he'd be my baby doll wrapped up in a receiving blanket. Other times he was an indian to my cowboy! Of course, he never understood that but I had a vivid imagination as a child so, in my eyes, Choochee was an indian when needed! Pop was happy that I had a best friend to keep me out of trouble at the shop. Years later I heard how impulsive these monkeys can be in captivity which explains, I guess, his randy behavior! But, somehow, Choochee understood I was a little kid and he honored that.
Being raised in Laguna was idyllic. Thanks for that, Pop!
Dec. 31, 2006
Year End Musings...
The 1998 interview with Robert Story mentioned below (3/3/06, 5/27/06) will take on a new life via Didier Ghez, French animation historian. I've been communicating with Didier for about a year. Initially he was looking for relatives of the late Disney animator, Hal King, for his book series called "Walt's People". Not only was I able to find Hal's 2 sons but that contact rekindled a friendship that waned when I moved to Hawaii almost 30 years ago. The 3 of us have been exchanging pictures of grandchildren ever since!
Back to Didier! He recently joined Warner Bros in Europe and started working on a book entitled, "Bugs' Buddies". Pop's interview will be included. I've finally realized that the task of collecting everything with Pop's name in or on it will never be completed! By me, at least. Hopefully my kids and grandkids will continue the quest as I strongly feel anything related to Looney Tunes will live on, ad infinitum!
Last summer I had the Privilege....yes, with a capital P...of meeting animation historian, Martha Sigall. She, too, is referenced in entries below (5/23/04, 8/15/04). Martha worked with Pop at Schlesinger's during the late 1930s.
Martha and Sol's son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Lei Sigall, live in Honolulu. Our serendipitous meeting is also chronicled below. Bob contacted me about joining the 4 of them at Perry and Price's KSSK radio show at John Dominis restaurant. Martha was to be one of the guests on the show. I wouldn't have missed it. What an incredibly delightful and insightful morning. My only disappointment was that my daughter missed the get together by 4 days.
When I grow up I want to be just like Martha...and I'll settle for even half her memory!
Dearest Martha...you are truly amazing!!!
From the mid 80s to the mid 90s, my brother lived in Hawaii and I remember my dad hoping for Jeff to marry an "island girl" so that he (Pop) would have beautiful, hapa grandchildren. Well, Jeff never married an island girl and he eventually moved back to the mainland. So much for hapa grandkids...altho' he did get a very special little guy, my nephew, Spencer; Pop's only grandson. You know that theory...be careful what you wish for 'cuz you just might get it? Pop's "law of attraction" is still working from Heaven. He got his wish...indirectly, of course.
A friend of mine called me on Oct. 28, asking for help. She was in the hospital and, at the young age of 54, had just received a tragic diagnosis...terminal cancer. Before I could lift my jaw off the floor she asked for my permission to hanai her 2 daughters to me. Of course...of course. Early on it never occurred to me that she'd die. Surely she'd get better. She was just playing it safe with the girls before embarking on a major get well campaign. My friend passed 24 days later, 2 days before Thanksgiving.
How does that relate to my dad's wish? My friend's 2 beautiful girls are...hapa. At 18 and 21, they're also articulate, bright, well mannered and funny. The 3 of us have had a wild ride the past 2 months and, for me, it's been a labor of love. Pop would've taken these 2 young ladies under his wing and embraced the idea of 2 more granddaughters. Quantum Monahan blood and lack of 'legalness' would have never entered the picture. Funny how fate works.
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou, everyone. You, too, Pop! Watch for me at the water's edge tomorrow morning.
June 18, 2006
HAPPY FATHERS DAY, POPPO!
4 years: My Daddy can do anything!
7 years: My Dad knows a lot...a whole lot.
8 years: My father does not know quite everything.
12 years: Oh well, naturally Father does not know that either.
14 years: Oh, Father? He is hopelessly old-fashioned.
21 years: Oh, that man-he is out of date!
25 years: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
30 years: I must find out what Dad thinks about it.
35 years: Before we decide, we will get Dad's idea first.
50 years: What would Dad have thought about that?
60 years: My Dad knew literally everything!
65 years: I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more. (Anonymous)
Yet another six degrees of separation was reduced to two when I received an email from Robert Demoss who runs an Our Gang web site called The Lucky Corner. According to Bob, "The website attempts to list every cast and crew member for every film, as well as give whatever other details I can come up with for each film.". Now, that's a fan! And, I was oh so happy to hear from him. Apparently Pop appeared in 2 episodes during 1927, "Baby Brother" and "Chicken Feed".
The credits for "Baby Brother" (this episode is referenced with a photo in the 8/24/04 entry below) show, in addition to one familiar name, Oliver Hardy...Yes! THE Oliver Hardy...another familiar name. Very familiar. Roy Seawright. Roy was an animator on that episode.
During the 1960s when I was my dad's script supervisor, a wonderful DP (director of photography) by the name of Roy Seawright, was Pop's cameraman. I knew Roy was a little older than Pop but...old enough to be an animator while my dad was playing in a sandbox on the set? It didn't seem likely. Bob Demoss filled me in on some details which pretty much secured the fact that Roy the animator and Roy the DP were, indeed, one and the same! And to think that 35 years later Pop and Roy would unite to form a powerful commercial production team working for MPO-TV and Cascade Films. I have no idea whether or not Pop and Roy ever knew of their Our Gang connection, nor will I ever know. In addition, the Seawrights and my former in-laws were friends and my former husband and I, when first married, lived a short 3 blocks from Bunny and Roy. As the song goes..."It's a small world after all".
Pop's humor was prevalent 24/7. He was naturally funny; rarely "on"; never forced. He loved to make people laugh but never at their own expense. He wasn't into practical jokes. Well, not 'til he found a new "toy" called a "handigas"! It was a small, hand-held device that, when squeezed, emitted the sound of intestinal distress! So...we're all on a sound stage and Roy and Pop are blocking a shot. The ad agency and advertising clients are there. This is serious work! Unless your name is Dave Monahan! Pop's standing next to the camera's lens. I'm sitting on the other side of the camera, stopwatch and notes in hand. We're getting ready to rehearse. Roy climbs up on the camera dolly and as he flings his leg over the seat, Pop lets loose with his new "toy"! And, it was a winner! Pop's sense of timing was always impeccable. This time was no exception. His practice paid off!
There were a few muffled chortles coming from the crew. Roy muttered something about it not being him. Pop and I looked at each other and I fell out of my chair laughing which then gave the rest of the crew the unspoken permission to vent their pent up laughter. Pop managed to maintain an angelic, "I didn't do a damn thing" look on his face, which made me laugh even harder. After Ed Killy, Pop's gruff, no-nonsense, by-the-book, assistant director, called a "take 5", everyone, cast and crew alike, finally got back into position, including Roy. This time, as Roy lifted his leg to step up onto the dolly, Pop gently squeezed the handigas, emitting a shorter, higher pitched sound than the one before. A true "squeaker"!!! I looked over at Pop as he glanced at me and I lost it again; I mean totally lost it. Even Eddie Killy laughed! By then everyone knew there was a practical joke in progress and Pop finally 'fessed up! That particular crew was on to his shenanigans now but heaven help any new crew members on future jobs as the handigas became a hazing ritual!
A few years ago I cast the Imodium AD spot that featured a sumo wrestler. Beware...that link will charge you to view it! I can only imagine the fun my dad would've had with his favorite toy on that job. Just thinking about it doubles me over with laughter! By the way, this silly toy is still marketed but under a different name! I like the old name better.
So, Poppo...remember the plumeria trees in my back yard? And, how you loved those blossoms? And how you'd wear one behind each ear? I'll meet you at keyhole beach and this time I'll have a whole bunch of blossoms, all stained with tears of laughter. Happy Fathers Day. Me ke aloha pumehana.
May 27, 2006
Three years...it seems like only yesterday
This entry falls under the "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" category!
When Pop passed, one of the gazillion thoughts swirling around in my head was that I was fairly certain there was no recording of Pop's voice...and I longed to hear it again. It didn't matter what he was saying. Just to be able to hear his voice, whenever I wanted/needed to, became an obsession. Aha! His 20-something year old answering machine was still in the "on" position. I recorded his outgoing message. At least I had something.
Just last month, the yearning to hear Pop's voice...something more than that :15 message...hit out of the blue. I couldn't explain it or understand it so dismissed it as best as I could knowing that it wasn't a possibility. At least I had that :15 tape.
Then, a few days later, a small package arrives by mail from Robert Story (see March 3 entry below). It's a cassette tape, circa 1998...a 51 minute interview with Pop for an article Robert was writing about Bob Clampett. I was dumbfounded! Robert hung on to that tape, found it and was kind enough to send it on to me. Whatta treasure! Pop was 80 at the time of the interview but it's obvious he remembers the Schlesinger days like they were yesterday.
So, without further adieu, and in addition to the March 3 entry, here is the story, all 5 1/2 minutes of it, of how Pop became a storyman at Leon Schlesinger/Looney Tunes in 1937...in his own words. It's edited from the longer tape and the audio quality varies because part of the interview is on the phone and another part is in person. Pop wasn't mic'd as the tape was for reference purposes only. To hear the interview, Click HERE.
I'm on my way to the beach with a lei, Pop. Meetya at the foot of Hunakai St., or as you so fondly called it, "keyhole beach"!!! Me ke aloha...
March 3, 2006
The 88th anniversary of Pop's birth
MYSTERY SOLVED - A "POP STORY"!
Pop's humility, like his humor, is a common thread on this page. He never talked about himself unless it was a long ago memory that he knew would elicit a laugh even at his own expense. However, giving any of us an oral family history just wasn't done. Unfortunately. I had no idea how, 2 years after graduating from high school, Pop ended up as a story man for Looney Tunes and became a legend in the cartoon industry. Geez...I never knew 'til 2001 that Pop WAS a legend!
Enter Robert Story. When I was about 10 and he was about 10 years older, I remember him sitting in his grandmother's wonderful old Laguna home listening to the song "My Funny Valentine". Pop and Robert's uncle, John Leberman, were long time Laguna pals, which is how Robert, as a kid, became acquainted with my dad. Robert's Monahan family presence is pre-mom! He's also someone I hadn't seen or heard from in decades; since the days when he was Bob and I was Susie! Then, out of the blue 2 months ago, an email...the story of how Pop joined Schlesingers! It's one of several missing pieces to the family puzzle. And, we're now Robert and Sue!
Robert wrote: "He told me he and Tedd Pierce were swilling beer at the Broiler one Sunday when Tedd asked Dave if he ever considered writing cartoons (Dave hadn't). Tedd talked Dave into driving up to Hollywood and meeting with Bugs Hardaway, a creative guy at Warners, I think it was, who interviewed Dave. Hardaway's one question was, 'What's funny about a chicken.' Dave began to laugh at the silly question, Hardaway began to laugh at Dave, and Dave was hired on the spot. Dave told me that on the $40 per week he was paid, he was able to buy a new Ford convert with leather seats and build a house in Laguna -- the place on Browncroft. It was when he was building that house that I first met him."
Robert went on to say: "I worked for Clampett off and on for some time, and years later wrote this article about him for Animation World Magazine. At one point, I got together with your dad who gave me info about his experience with Bob, and memories of WB where Clampett dreamed up Tweety Pie, etc. You might find this article interesting."
I sure did. I think you will, too! But, even better, I reconnected with my past and Robert and I have been emailing ever since. He's become a wealth of puzzle pieces and fun and interesting memories! I'll be forever grateful.
Hau'oli La Hanau, dear Poppo. Yep...I'll meet ya at the beach! Watch for some bougainvillea this time! Just keeping you on your ethereal toes!
THE KING OF COUPONS!
Pop retired early because, well, he could! He loved Laguna and he loved the beach. Work got in the way of both.
Pop was a putterer. I don't think he ever touched a golf club. He didn't have any real, year 'round hobbies. He did, however, plant and tend a summer vegetable garden. Some years were successful...some weren't! Regardless, he was always proud of it and if the crop was less than prolific he usually had some very funny, creative tale to tell as an excuse. He enjoyed summers at the beach where he caught up on his magazine subscriptions. And, every morning without fail, he read the 3 newspapers he subscribed to. Once mom was up and running, they'd walk to their favorite cafe for their morning coffee. For many, many years morning coffee also included other ol' Lagunatics; many Pop had gone to school with. It was quite a clan!
Then, out of the blue, Pop started clipping coupons. Of course, he didn't need to do this but, for some reason, the challenge of frugality intrigued him. And don't even get him started on 2 for 1s or the double and triple kind! Those were sheer bliss! If there was a great coupon with the ability to triple it...he was the first one in line at the store the next morning regardless of whether or not the product was needed. Most of the time it wasn't but he just couldn't pass up the thrill of a great bargain. And he'd buy as much as the coupons would allow, He'd found a hobby!
So...fast forward a decade or so in time. I'm visiting my folks. The coupon clipping is continuing in earnest. They're still living in their too large (for them) home with, fortunately, lots of storage space. He noticed a sale at his favorite drug store and asked me to accompany him on one of his coupon shopping trips as he so wanted me to experience the same thrill he did. Well, I can't say I experienced a 'thrill' but, oh my gawd, was it funny! In addition to the usual toothpaste, mouthwash and pasta sauce coupons, Pop had amassed a plethora of panty liner coupons mainly because they were so plentiful. And he had his beloved triple coupons. We walked out of the store with boxes and boxes of almost free panty liners! It didn't matter that mom was, by now, in her 70s, that I lived 2500 miles away and the granddaughters lived nowhere near Laguna! We're driving home and I'm staring at a back seat filled with...panty liners! "What are you going to do with all those?", I asked. "I'll put them in the closet.", Pop answered. "What closet?". "In the hall.", he said. Before I knew it we were home and schlepping bags into the house. Pop motioned me over to a closet door, opened it and...holey moley...there was a closet stuffed full of panty liner boxes, all purchased for pennies or free. I looked at mom. She shrugged and went back to her crossword puzzle. Pop neatly added and stacked the new boxes in front of the older ones. He was just so proud of his inventory.
Eventually, during that visit, my girls and a couple of their college friends joined me at my folks house. It was then that I discovered what Pop did with the panty liners. Any time a female visiting the house was about to leave, Pop would see them out by way of the 'closet'. He'd proudly open the doors, hand them a plastic shopping bag and tell them to take as many boxes as they wanted...a gift from him to them! The looks on those girls' faces were priceless! Everyone adored my dad. No one wanted to hurt his feelings. Putting their embarrassment aside, each girl would reluctantly take a bag and let my dad fill it! Pop took philanthropy to a whole, new level! However, if pressed about his favorite pastime, this is how he'd respond!:
I still wonder, after my parents' house was sold, what happened to the boxes of panty liners that filled the 'closet'. On second thought...maybe I don't want to know! Hopefully Laguna's poor, immigrant population benefited once again from Pop's overly large, overly soft heart not to mention his overly stocked closet!
ALWAYS FOR THE UNDERDOG
Pop always had a soft spot in his heart for those less fortunate. In his case it was the Mexican immigrants who migrated to Laguna from south of the border. He was constantly giving them whatever he could...old clothes from his closet, groceries and household items purchased with his beloved coupons, jobs, you name it. If he thought they could use it, he'd give it. And Pop just couldn't resist the kids. Never mind that he couldn't speak a word of Spanish. He made up his own language, both verbal and sign, and almost always had the kids laughing; for the most part at him, not with him!!! Fortunately Pop never figured that out! As long as the kids were laughing he was happy.
There's a very limited Hispanic population in Hawaii, regardless of financial means. There is, however, a large Pacific Islander population here that is in dire need. Since I can no longer give to my Pop I decided this Christmas to give for him. That's how I would celebrate a holiday that has become so overly commercialized as to be embarrassing, depressing and just plain, ol' meaningless.
In the past I've volunteered on Christmas day at the Ronald McDonald House in Manoa. Those are my most memorable Christmases. But the RMH is currently under renovation. Then, as if by magic, an opportunity presented itself. It's detailed HERE.
What a wonderful holiday...or whatever it's supposed to be called this year!...this turned into. And, Pop, this one was for you, in your honor. I was only the messenger. You, without knowing it, were the teacher; the giver.
Mele Kalikikwanavichanmas, Poppo. I'm sure I overlooked a segment or 2 of the world's population and, in the process, offended them. Oh...screw it...MERRY CHRISTMAS!
And the 8/4/05 beat goes on...
My curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to make every effort to verify my suspicion of the identity of Rogers Brackett's friend. For starters I bought the book The James Dean Story by Ron Martinetti. Bingo! There it was...on page 39...a reference to Rogers and James Dean in Laguna during the exact time I remember. A verification? Not really. I mean, nowhere did it state that Rogers and Dean stopped by the Monahan's house on Jasmine St.! It didn't have to. Rogers ALWAYS stopped by when in the neighborhood. And, I remember his friend...just not the friend's name. My curiosity was satisfied and there's little doubt in my mind that I did, indeed, sip my Shirley Temple across the dining room table from James Dean. I can now get on with my life! By the way, I loved the book. Highly recommended! I wish Dean had lived longer so the book could've been longer!
Ron Martinetti was the only person Rogers allowed to interview him about Dean. I felt the need to try to contact Martinetti. I didn't expect any results from my efforts but I hit the jackpot with the first email I sent! Ron was most cordial in answering the many questions I had. I'm happy that my childhood impressions of Rogers were right on the money. The photo of Rogers linked below also shows another man in frame. It's Ron Martinetti! And the world just keeps getting smaller and smaller!
I think Ron should write a book about my dad but I didn't go there with him! I'm actually amazed at the number of people who have suggested I write a book. Pop definitely deserves to be immortalized in book form but blogging is more my speed!
[9/5/05 - Stay tuned for an update to the entry below. That's not something I tend to do as I write from my heart and in the moment. This subject, however, is evolving in a way that I couldn't have anticipated!]
Every family has 'em. Their ongoing presence in our lives tends to help establish our own, personal "normal". In my case, I went on to learn what an eclectic, creative, diverse and, in some cases famous, group of friends my parents had. But, I didn't know that when I was growing up. They were family friends. Period. I had no idea what most of them did for a living. It never occurred to me to ask. It didn't matter. They were big, ol' adults and I was a little kid. I did know most of them made me laugh. All were very nice. So nice, funny people were my norm. I figured everyone's family friends were funny and nice! Why would my "normal" be different from anyone else's?
One friend in particular...Rogers Brackett...used to visit often. Sometimes he lived in New York; other times in LA. Sometimes he'd visit alone. Other times he'd bring his mom. And a couple of times he brought a friend; a man who I remember being fairly quiet but, for the life of me, I can't remember his name. Rogers was definitely the dominant personality of the 2. I knew Rogers was gay, even before I knew what being gay meant. We lived in an artistic community that was a haven of creativity and refuge for gays. That community was also part of my "normal". It's where both Pop and I graduated from high school. Friends were always just that...friends. They were never catergorized as straight friends or gay friends.
My memories of Rogers center on one home in particular; an old, wonderful, brown shingled house we lived in from 1951 to 1953, on Jasmine St. in Laguna Beach. That's where I remember sitting on the floor in front of the big fireplace with Rogers and "the trunk". Inside the small trunk were Winnie the Pooh and Eyore dolls...with full wardrobes! Rogers almost always visited with that trunk and, if my memory serves me, he travelled the world with that trunk. He spent cumulative hours with me playing with the dolls. Mom and Pop were seated next to the fireplace with martinis in hand talking story with Rogers. He always managed to split his attention between me and my parents so that none of us felt slighted. Somehow dinner made it to the table and I was always included. So were Pooh and Eyore, dressed to the hilt! I never knew what Rogers did for a living. All I knew was that he was a kind and gentle man and I delighted in his visits.
The very few times Rogers dropped by with his friend, Pooh and Eyore weren't invited! I didn't mind. I just remember the joy of his visits with or without the dolls.
To prepare for this entry to my dad's tribute page I decided to try and find out about Rogers. What did he do? Was he part of my dad's cartoon friends? His film friends? Was he famous and I didn't know it? Would I be able to find out anything at all? I don't recall having seen Rogers after I grew up. I remember his mom owning an antique store somewhere in the LA area. Google became my friend. It didn't take long! And, was I ever in for a SURPRISE!
I'll never know, for sure, the identity of Rogers' friend. There's no one left to ask. But the timing of my memories, the years, the house, everything...is spot on. Was I really sitting across the dining room table from who I think I was? Ooooh...the curiosity...
FATHER'S DAY - 2005
Words of Wisdom
It was late July 1997 when I received an early morning phone call from close Georgia friends, Janice and Mario Santamaria. Their just-turned 20 year old son, Mark, passed away during the night, a victim of leukemia. I, as well as all of the Santamaria's friends and family, had gone thru the ups and downs of Mark's 8 month illness with them.
For several years, on the anniversary of Mark's death, I'd call Janice and Mario to tell them I was thinking of them on that sad date. We'd talk about Mark. About 3 years ago Janice said something I'll never forget..."Today isn't any different than any other day. We miss Mark the same every day."
Now I understand what she meant.
I miss Pop the same every day, too, with one exception...
Father's Day...when I miss him even more. Another trip to the beach. Another lei. A few extra tears.
Hau`oli La Makuakane, Poppo. Aloha au ia oe...
May 27, 2005
Two years...hard to believe
Time really is the greatest healer. Regardless, May 27 will never, ever be just another day for me. The film industry and medicine rival each other for holidays worked. We're always on call. Prior to Pop's passing, the only day I refused to work was Christmas day. There has been many a Christmas I've been asked to work and refused to do so. May 27 has been added to that short list. As a matter of fact, it's now #1. I'd rather work on Christmas!
I have a personal anniversary ritual I began last year. It was a turning point for me. I will repeat it today. As if by fate, I just received a package via media mail. It's the book "Chuck Reducks" by Chuck Jones . I'd completely forgotten that I'd ordered it. Media Mail to Hawaii usually takes the form of a water proof bag and a propellor operated by one AAA battery! It now appears that book was destined to arrive today, regardless of what day it was sent. There was Pop, his name and photo sprinkled throughout. One photo, in particular, I'd never seen before. Each new discovery never ceases to amaze me. This book is being added to my library of books that contains Pop's name, a photo, a quote or any combination thereof. It's a library I didn't even know existed until 2001. Like Pop's cartoons, every time I think I've found the last book, I learn of another one.
And, thru another twist of fate, Pop's favorite musical group in Hawaii, Kit Samson's Sound Advice, will be in concert tonight...a reunion, over 10 years after that incredible band lost it's 23 year gig due to the closure of their historic venue...the Kahala Hilton's Maile Lounge. My parents were great dancers together doin' a mean swing and a meaner lindy! Like everything else in life, Pop's humor also shone thru on the dance floor. His physical comedy was priceless, always understated and always hysterically funny! I'm sure I'll hear at least one of Pop's favorite songs tonight. I hope so. It would be so fitting for this now very memorable date.
Watch for the lei I sent you from Kahala beach, Pop. It's on it's way. Me ke aloha pumehana...
This recently discovered photo has nothing to do with today's anniversary. However, it is the portrait by Oscar Canuteson that eventually landed my dad in the original Our Gang comedies.
Hau`oli La Hanau, Poppo!
Mom decided not to miss your birthday. She's your gift this year. The last 21 months without you were just too much for her. Watch for 2 leis today. One is for mom.
THE MAGIC OF SANTA CLAUS
While I don't have a Christmas story as 'colorful' as the Easter story mentioned further down this page, Christmas as a kid was always memorable. Pop was great about perpetuating the Santa story as long as he could. He wanted to keep the magic alive because he enjoyed it as much as his kids did!
I was given a wonderful opportunity this month to continue that magic.
Infrequently I check my web page's statistics as I'm interested to see how many searches are done on 'Dave Monahan'. I can't tell who's doing the search but it's fun to follow the link results for my dad's name.
I came across a new link...not the usual ones for the oceanographer and the realtor! The link description mentioned writer/producer/director so I assumed it was Pop's IMDB listing.
Not even close!
It was for an assistant professor of film studies at the University of North Carolina! Say what? Another Dave Monahan, director/writer/producer? Can't be!
It is! I couldn't resist sending an email and Dave replied. He was very familiar with my dad, especially when he was growing up. Dave said he loved watching the old cartoons as a kid and seeing his own name. He's yet another person who was more aware of my dad's accomplishments than I had been. Dave mentioned that his 8 year old daughter loved the old cartoons, too, and she loved The Phantom Tollbooth.
That's all it took. I was off and running!!!
You see, Santa visited my office late summer because he was going to appear in a commercial I was casting. We had this photo taken:
I contacted Santa earlier this month and he and I agreed that Dave's daughter should receive a copy of the cartoons in which her dad's and my dad's name appears. Santa was kind enough to send her a real letter, including the photo...not an email...to let her know to expect an extra special gift from me. I'll be forever grateful to Santa for taking time out of his busy, toy making schedule to help keep the magic alive in this child. Dave emailed me that Santa's letter was received with more excitement than he'd ever seen in his daughter.
That, after all, is what Christmas is all about.
So, Pop...you're still orchestrating your Christmas magic, even from your higher perch. And that doesn't surprise me a bit as everything about you on earth was magical.
Mele Kalikimaka, Poppo. I love you with all my heart. As usual, I'll meet you by the ocean tomorrow, lei in hand.
THE EXPOSURE SHEET
Sounds like a sub-category on a police rap sheet, doesn't it?! In reality, it's the name of the Leon Schlesinger newsletter...circa late 1930s. I don't know how many 'issues' were 'published' but Martha sent me copies of 2 because they contained blurbs about my dad and aunt.
Both issues mentioned subjects I was familiar with. However, I wasn't familiar with the details. The Exposure Sheet exposed the details!
Part of Pop's illustrious career, the beginning actually, centered around the 'Our Gang' comedies; it's silent era. It was eventually renamed 'The Little Rascals', which was a favorite of mine during my small kid days. At that time I wasn't aware that Pop was one of THE gang! Now...tell me...how cool is that...to have a dad who was a cast member of 'Our Gang'?! I wonder how many episodes I watched with Pop in the cast...and never, ever knew it? Pop appeared in pre-Spanky episodes and, in today's terminology, was probably a featured extra.
Eventually my parents settled in a home for more than their normal 2 years and Pop dedicated one wall in his home office/den to his 'career'. Personally, I think that wall of memorabilia should've been in the living room, but that's just me! In the midst of all those memories was this photo:
I doubt very much that Pop told me the history behind his Our Gang gig and, if he did, I certainly don't remember it. But, there it was...in The Exposure Sheet:
"Dave Monahan was born in San Bernardino where he lived for eight years. At an early age he had his portrait painted by Oscar Canuteson. Robert McGowan, director for Hal Roach Productions, saw the painting and signed Dave as a member of 'Our Gang'. Dave and two others were up for the part of 'Skippy' and he lost out because he was somewhere on the lot fighting during the selection."
[Update, 5/31/06 - I just received an email from animation historian, Jerry Beck, who'd just heard from Our Gang historian, Dick Bann. Dick stated the photo above is from "Baby Brother" (1927), with Oliver Hardy and Anita Garvin. Oliver Hardy? Amazing!]
As a small child, Pop looked like someone right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, didn't he? But...fighting? I don't think so!!! My dad didn't have a mean, fighting bone in his body. Not even at the ripe ol' age of 6! However, he was a good story teller so I'm sure he embellished the selection process just a wee bit!
The other story in the aforementioned newsletter is one I remember from way back and it still makes me laugh:
"His schooling was finished at Laguna, where he made a pole-vaulting record of 5 feet four inches, but this was soon beaten by a high-jumper!"
Pop took great pride in telling that story especially at my school functions as we attended the same high school! I'm sure, had he been the high-jumper, the story would've remained untold!
That man was humble to a fault!
One of the emails I received via the link from cartoonbrew.com was from Keith Scott, a resident of Australia. Keith, who offered me valuable info about my dad by filling in some time gaps, is illustrious in his own right, both as an author and a voice actor. So, hele on over to his site and take a look!
Just when I thought, thru the miracle of Martha, that I'd collected all of my dad's cartoons, Keith drops this one on me: after WWII, Pop went to work for the short-lived Screen Gems cartoon studio. These cartoons were released by Columbia Pictures. I now have 7 more cartoons to collect. And, Jerry Beck has 5 of them! Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus!!! Interesting, tho'...Columbia reissued the cartoons with new titles, sans credits and those are the only prints around. A strange decision, imnsho! With the exception of 'Grape Nutty', none of the Screen Gems cartoons are mentioned on Pop's IMDB page. I wonder why?
Keith mentioned my dad's friendship, from the start of his Schlesinger days, with Cal Howard. It appears Pop assisted Cal as a story and gag writer at Screen Gems. And, here's proof that both of 'em had dirty minds (ggg):
Martha Sigall has turned out to be a living angel in my life with a video tape of old Schlesinger "home" movies, Schlesinger newsletters and other incredible memorabilia from the late 1930's involving my dad and his sister. The 2 movies contain images of Pop when he was about 20 years old. It was the first time I'd seen movies of him at that age...well, at any age! Martha, bless her heart, typed a scene by scene breakdown, listing everyone who appears in both movies. Whatta cast of well known characters! I thought it might be fun to watch the movies without the breakdown, wondering whether or not I'd recognize Pop. Hmmm...don't quite know why but of the 3 scenes he was in I recognized him in only one and he was...IN DRAG!!!!!!!!! What's up with THAT?!!! Even during Halloween I never saw him in drag! But, one thing's for sure...Pop missed his calling. His physical comedy ability went untapped! And, when I can figure out how to get a scene from VHS into iMovie and turn it into a jpeg...I'll upload it right here, in this very spot. It's priceless!!!
Martha emailed me about a new Looney Tunes DVD set to be released in November that will contain an audio commentary with Pop. The web site she referred me to... cartoonbrew.com...was new to me so I sent an email to Jerry Beck and verified my identity with the URL to this page. Jerry quickly replied, asking permission to post a link. I was certainly honored and flattered but it never occurred to me that a link on his site, or any site for that matter, would elicit hundreds of hits and some very kind emails. To all who had enough interest in my dad to glance at this page and to all who emailed me I say MAHALO NUI LOA from the bottom of my heart. This page, which started out as nothing more than a place to begin the healing process has turned into something much, much more. And would my dad approve? Hell no! He was never, ever one to toot his own horn much less allow anyone to toot it for him. So, Poppo...from me to you...toot, Toot, TOOT!!! You're getting exactly what you deserve...accolades! Only they shoulda started over 6 decades ago.
[Update 4/17/05 - Martha's book, "Living Life Inside the Lines: Tales From the Golden Age of Animation" has just been published. Congratulations, Martha! Check it out by clicking HERE.]
"Feel Like Makin' Love"
Hang on! Let me explain!
It was the early 1970s and Mom and Pop were on one of their short road trips to Carmel, Ca.; one of the loveliest spots on this earth...outside of Hawaii, that is! Neither were much for traveling but wouldn't hesitate to jump in the car for a long week-end at the Normandy Inn. Or the Pine Inn. Or the Fireplace Inn.
One trip in particular, I received an unanticipated call from Pop. Seems they had the car radio on and, while listening to a local jazz station, Pop heard a song that struck a chord clear to the pit of his soul so profoundly that he pulled over at a gas station and called the radio station! He just had to know the artist and title. He got it and immediately called me as he couldn't wait to share the joy of his new found discovery..."Feel Like Makin' Love" by Bob James on his "One" album. Eventually I heard it and agreed with him. It's remained my all-time, fave song since the first time I heard it, especially the vocal version sung by Roberta Flack. It's always a bit unnerving to request that song when listening to live music at clubs! Think about it. The band leader shouts out..."Any requests?". And I answer across the room with, "Feel Like Makin' Love"...errr...ummm...ya know, the song by Roberta Flack"! By that time, muffled chuckles are permeating the audience...as are wisecracks like..."Hey, lady, are ya bragging or complaining?"..."Your place or mine?"...well, you get the picture!
Anyway...every time Pop heard another rendition of this, his favorite song, he'd call me. I had a very fleeting thought at one point during the late 1980s that I'd like to collect every rendition ever recorded and dub a compilation tape for Pop. I think I made one feeble attempt by going to a record store in the hopes of getting a photocopy or print-out of anything that would show all of the recordings. No luck. To research it on my own then purchase each and every CD or tape that contained this song became prohibitive.
It's 2004 and we have iTunes, the iTunes Music Store, iPods, CD burners...you name it! Now, from the comfort of my oceanfront perch in Makaha, it's just so easy for me to compile that long yearned for CD. 'Cept, I no longer have my Pop to give it to. What the heck, I'll do it anyway. I spent snippets of time during the past week learning iTunes and previewing and downloading that special song. I hadn't heard it in several years but, oh, did the memories of 30 years ago come rushing back! And, wouldn'tya know, iTunes doesn't even carry the Bob James "One" songs...nothing 'til "12". Shame on them!!! Fortunately, I still had a *very* old cassette tape that I dubbed from the vinyl album way over a decade ago. And, against all odds, I figured out how to get it from a cassette deck into iTunes! I'm a bit puffed with pride right now as that sort of thing tends to be over my untechie head!
Then, on Friday, July 9, I had the honor of attending the change of command for the submarine, USS Greeneville, and the reception that followed. Music was provided by a wonderful Navy jazz band who, as I was walking in, began playing..."Feel Like Makin' Love". How portentous is that?! Actually, that just reinforced in me that now is, indeed, the right time to finally start that collection. And maybe, just maybe, I'll tie the CD to the next lei I send Pop's way via his beloved ocean. Somehow that will never, ever take the place of giving it to him in person.
May 27, 2004
Hanging on for Dear Life...
It's been one year to the day since my dad chose to make his transition; in some ways, the longest year of my life...in others, the shortest. Regardless, I think it's been one of the most incredible years of my life. As odd as this may sound, it's a positive "incredible", not a negative "incredible". It's not appropriate to go into details here but I will forever thank my Pop for leaving me with such a positive "incredible". And, yes, that only makes sense to me!
Now that a year has passed I feel the desire to share the story of my dad's passing because, well, it's something straight out of a movie! One with a happy ending...for him.
While Pop had been declining for several months, he wasn't suffering; said he felt "ok"...just that he detested the aging process which he attributed to anything that ailed him. He was "running out of gas" as he put it. And he absolutely hated it.
He had a genuine fear of death. No, make that a phobia. And the thought of being without mom is what, I feel, kept him alive. After Pop retired in the 1970s, he and mom were together 24/7. At night he hung on to her...for dear life. All night. Every night. For decades. A few, short months prior to his passing, while not bedridden per se, he was just more comfortable hanging out in bed, reading his newspapers, watching his TV and holding mom's hand. You see, when he decided that bed was the best place for him, mom decided that bed was the best place for her, too. They hung out together, day in and day out, holding hands. My brother and his wife became the caretakers for both of them.
During the 3 day holiday week-end preceding his Tuesday death, Pop headed into the final scene of his final act. It was a tough week-end. Hospice made a visit on Monday as they had 3 times weekly for the previous couple of months. Mom was still in bed, by Pop's side, holding hands. Once Pop was comfortable and dozed off for the night, mom turned off the tv and fell asleep. They were still holding hands. Mom awoke just as the sun was rising. In order to get out of bed she gently pried her hand out of Pop's, trying her best to not wake him as he was sleeping so peacefully. Pop's advancing emphysema resulted in somewhat noisy breathing, especially pronounced at night. It made sleeping tough for both of them. As mom walked toward the dressing room, she realized that something sounded different, unfamiliar. The sound she was hearing was...
"Til death do us part..."
Those words, part of the marriage vows my parents took so seriously and stated to each other so lovingly on June 24, 1941, were given a whole new meaning in the early morning hours of May 27, 2003, when, with hands still locked together, mom next to Pop shoulder to shoulder, he took one last, quiet, peaceful, undetected breath and gracefully slipped into the next realm via his own bed, in his own home, in the beautiful little beach town he called home for close to 80 years, with no struggle, not even a wrinkled sheet and, thankfully, no heroics at the hands of any medical personnel. And, he was still holding mom's hand. The moment of transition doesn't get much better than that, I suspect!
My daughters and I awoke in the middle of the night...all at about the same time...even taking into account the different time zones. Comparing notes, we realized that was probably related to the time of Pop's transition and his final good-byes. I remember laying in bed, wide awake but feeling complete, total peace. Then, out of the blue, came an overwhelming desire to turn on the jazz music channel. I NEVER listen to music when trying to get back to sleep! However, the urge hit and I went with it! My love of jazz is a result of my upbringing! That was Pop's genre of choice and he even played guitar in an army jazz band during World War II. There's no doubt in my mind WHY I felt the urge to turn on jazz at that moment. No doubt at all.
With one breath, life, as we knew it, ended for my brother, myself, our children and their children...Pop's survivors...who had never known a day of life without him. And...Mom. She had a whole, new set of circumstances to deal with. How, exactly, does one adjust to life without the spouse of 61 years, 11 months and 3 days? And, now I have a new grandson who will never know the joy of Pop's physical presence. Good God, we sure do miss that man.
I can only imagine the meetings of the minds going on right now in Heaven's creative department! Pop was able to continue to reside in our world longer than the majority of his friends and cronies. But now that they're all together again, in the same place at the same time for a change, I bet they've found the celestial version of the martini which tended to fuel the laughter and creativity in the mortal world!
Every morning I "speak" to my dad. I know he hears me! I also envision him surrounded by his buddies...Looney Tunes legends, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Mike Maltese, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng...cartoonist legends, Virgil (Vip) Partch and Phil Interlandi...army buddy and writer/director, David Swift...army buddy and Grand Ole Opry director, Fritz Kleibacker...army buddy and song writer, Bill Carey...Disney animators, Hal King and Bill Keil...cousins, Roscoe Karns and Todd Karns. There are so many, many more.
However, morning after morning, the person I "see" closest to Pop, "physically" next to him, is someone he never met...Jim Beyer. Jim was a client of mine; a wonderfully funny guy, a copywriter at a Honolulu ad agency before moving to the mainland a couple of years ago. But, first and foremost, Jim was a loving husband and Super Dad to 2 beautiful, young children. The world lost this special guy last October to a completely unnecessary, tragic, horrible accident. Jim was 40 years old. There's no doubt in my mind that my dad has taken Jim under his angelic wing and that Jim is now part of the elite, illustrious list of creative geniuses who now reside in Heaven's creative department. And, there's also no doubt in my mind that all of them spend their now endless time (whatever time means in that realm) laughing their okoles off over the experiences they had, and that their families continue to have, in our mortal world.
I'm reminded of the first thing Martha Sigall said last Sunday when her son, Bob, called her and asked if she knew Dave Monahan..."He was a darling man, a great story man.". Yep! That's my dad. If a description had to be reduced to one sentence, then Martha said it all.
I'm off to the beach, lei in hand! Me ke aloha pumehana, dear Poppo. Ho`omaika`i on willing such a beautiful transition. You couldn't have written and directed it any better! Only this time you chose to star in it. Mahalo nui loa for leaving us, your family, with a final scene befitting one of the most incredibly creative minds I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. And...loving. This has given all of us the peace needed to get on with the healing process.
A Serendipitous Morning...
Once again, information gleaned in a serendipitous way has enlightened me to more facts about my dad...and just when I thought I'd run out of resources!
A couple of months ago, friend and fellow crew member, Bud Grenzbach, passed away in So. California. Well, Bud wasn't just ANY crew member. Bud was an Academy Award winning sound man. I met him and his lovely wife, Jill, when they retired to Hawaii in the late 1980s. Jill was also retired from the industry and the 3 of us could spend hours upon hours talking "shop". Of course, Bud's and Jill's stories were far more interesting than mine but every once in a while I could interject a good one!!! Film industry people are famous for grouping together wherever they are and doing nothing but talking "shop", usually to the dismay of non-industry spouses and friends! Well, we do have interesting stories and we like nothing better to relive them. Jeez...did my dad ever have some great ones!
Anyway...Jill arrived in Hawaii a few days ago to have a memorial service and a scattering of Bud's ashes this morning. This took place at the exact spot where they were married on the beach next to the Kahala Hilton Hotel (now called the Kahala Mandarin) in 1977. It was a perfectly lovely service conducted in both Hawaiian and English by a very special man, Kahu Joseph Kalahiki, Jr.
We adjourned to the Mandarin's Plumeria Cafe for brunch and were joined by Bud and Jill's friends, Lei and Bob Sigall. I was brought up to speed on the lifelong friendship of Jill's family and the Sigall family. It was mentioned that Bob's mother, Martha, once worked at Hanna Barbera and had been in the animation industry for decades. I started name dropping, hoping Bob and I might have some mutual friends. It's a small world, after all! Then I mentioned Leon Schlesinger. The world became even smaller. That's where this seredipitous meeting became an event! Martha, Bob said, had also worked for Schlesinger...during the late 1930s...the exact time my dad was there. And we both had proof!!!
Thank God for cell phones! Bob immediately called his mom and, once again, someone knew more about my dad than I did!!! Martha was a wealth of information. Even tho' she is my dad's age, she could recall just about everything she knew about Pop from the day she met him to the last time she talked to him after the death of my aunt, Bettye, in the mid 1990s. You coulda knocked me over with a feather! Martha also knew my aunt, my grandmother, my cousin. She told me facts about these family members I was never aware of. She knew my dad had married someone from Disney! Now, that I knew about my mom, but most people didn't! Martha has memoribilia of my dad that I didn't know existed. We promised to stay in touch with each other.
Aloha oe, Bud. Mahalo nui loa for the serendipitous moment you bestowed on me today!
Hau`oli La Hanau, Poppo!
Pop would've turned 86 today. Making it to 85 was certainly an accomplishment. For a majority of his lifetime so many health hazards we understand today weren't even known. I can't remember exactly what age Pop started smoking, but it was young...early teens if not before. And, Camels no less! Then, there's the sun...we were a family of sun worshipers. The beach was our church. The word sunscreen wasn't even a part of the vocabulary then. The hazards of various food and drink were never a consideration because they were still unknown. All Pop knew was that he couldn't take any sulpha drugs. He tried it once for strep throat. He was in New York City at the time and the next thing my mom knew someone was calling her from Chicago saying they had Pop in a hospital. He had no recollection of the train ride! So much for sulpha!
At age 75, Pop quit smoking. Cold turkey! Amazing! Oddly enough, tho', that was the beginning of his slow (thank God) decline. Soon after, he was diagnosed with the beginnings of emphysema. A number of years later that escalated into COPD...chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder...with the resultant need for oxygen. His male ego wouldn't allow him to use the oxygen in public so, by the time he'd get home after an outting, he'd be just a bit goofy!
It was about this time that Pop gave up his summertime treks to the beach. For decades he had a golf cart that held his beach chair and beach bag and took him the short distance to the beach without incurring a parking problem! He'd sit there, totally content, reading Sports Illustrated, Time and The New Yorker magazines...interspersed with dips in the chilly Pacific ocean. The cost of those decades of sun, sand and sea was the removal of several skin cancers...none serious, fortunately. In order to continue his love affair with the ocean during his later years, he traded his days at the beach for an occasional 5pm "tiddle" of wine seated with Mom at a picnic table in the sand.
I have no idea how or why I got on that health related tangent other than to point out how fortunate I feel to have had my dad in my life for as long as I did. I just rummaged thru another box of photos and came across a page from what was probably an in house magazine published by Pop's and my employer in the 1960s...MPO-TV. It contained a feature article on several employees...including Pop:
This particular issue was published a few years prior to my joining the company. I don't recall ever having seen it before. If I had, I think I would've remembered my dad directing the Tim McCoy TV series and the Margaret Whiting Show. I recall neither! It's funny because, as a kid, I remember being on the set with both of them but I always thought they were shooting commercials! I had no idea my dad directed shows!
Also in that box of treasured photos was a 3/4" video tape. What a fabulous surprise to open it and realize it was Pop's 15 minute commercial demo reel...his People reel! Now, that's priceless. One of the spots I remember we worked on together...
"When it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's, on the label, label, label you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table"!!!
Oh my, how advertising has changed!
Pop was also Proctor and Gamble's #1 choice for director for way over a decade. He helped introduce Crest toothpaste ("Look mom, no cavities.") and Head & Shoulders shampoo to the world. Does anyone remember that slogan? I don't! Arte Johnson,in his pre-Laugh-In days, hawked H&S! Pop loved working with Arte. Pop loved working with comedians. Period! And he could hold his own with them! A common thread of redundancy on this page is and will continue to be my dad's humor. Pop was just so funny in such an understated, entertaining way. His timing was impeccable. His delivery was spot on. His mind was so quick. I'll never forget laughing myself into a bellyache while listening to the exchanges between Pop and Phyllis Diller during a commercial shoot. Phyllis met her match. She adored Pop and told me what a lucky gal I was to have him for a dad. But, then...I already knew that! I loved hearing it from her, tho'!
[Update, 1/24/07- I'm currently watching Phyllis on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. At soon to be 90, she's still very sharp and wildly funny. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that she's still among us and still an active comedienne. Phyllis? YOU ROCK! You're still one of my all time favorites.]
So, Poppo...I can't give you a tangible gift this year but I can share the memories of you with others. And, of course, I'll meet you by the ocean in a little bit. Hau`oli La Hanau...
"I saw your dad's name on television last night..."
That, from a classmate in 6th grade, around the mid 1950s! It was news to me so I asked my dad about it that evening. Pop mentioned he "wrote a couple" of cartoons and...that was that. End of story! There was no further discussion...
Turns out Pop started with Leon Schlesinger in 1937, exactly 2 years after graduating from Laguna Beach High School.
I'd grown up with the names and occasionally the faces of Chuck Jones, Mike Maltese, Tex Avery, Cal Howard, Friz Freleng, Tedd Pierce, Bob Clampett, etc. But, for the life of me, I don't ever recall knowing what they did for a living!!! Nor, did I care! Hmmm, that's not entirely true! Bob Clampett was synonymous with the Beany and Cecil show of which I was a big fan! They were all just friends of my folks. Period! Well, that, and I was totally into the Mickey Mouse Club which aired opposite the cartoon show after school! And Jimmy Dodd, the adult mouseketeer leader, was known to hang out with my folks! I remember thinking that was really cool! I KNEW JIMMY!! Meanwhile, my dad's cartoons were airing on a competing channel!!! As I got older I became aware of Chuck's celebrity status but he was still just a family friend...the one who brought my dad on board to direct the live action segments of "The Phantom Tollbooth" in 1967. I was a brand new mom at that time and thought it terribly cool that "Grandpa" was directing a feature after directing thousands of commercials! Once he returned from location, the movie was never discussed again...
That's when a friend called to say she'd seen my dad's name in the credits of a movie on late night tv the night before! She taped it for me! That turned into a very popular 1998 family Christmas present!
Pop and Chuck remained friends throughout their long lives, living a short 3 miles apart during at least the last 20 years, until Chuck's death in early 2002.
Dissolve...to the aforementioned 2001...early 2001. The Warner Bros. Exhibit came to the Honolulu Academy of Arts. It received a lot of local press. Something...what, I don't know...possessed me to attend. I talked my friend, Leslie, into going to see it with me, hoping I might see Pop's name on something...anything. If it was there, I didn't see it. But, then...he only "wrote a couple" of 'toons! What'd I expect?! I did end up talking to a newspaper reporter who asked my dad's name. The reporter was very familiar with Pop.."You're Dave Monahan's daughter?"... and he seemed genuinely stunned that I wasn't aware that Pop was "a legend in the cartoon industry"...the reporter's quote, not mine! Could I really be the only one in my family who was clueless? If so, why? I started making phone calls; lots of 'em! The good news? I wasn't the only clueless one. The bad news? I wasn't the only clueless one! Not one family member was aware. It was now my turn to be stunned. How could this be?
The reporter suggested I do a search on the internet. There was Pop...in IMDB!!! MY DAD!!! And, a list of his 'toons. And, Phantom Tollbooth. The next step was a no-brainer. It was time to collect as many of his cartoons as was humanly possible and as quickly as possible. I wanted to accomplish this while Pop was still alive. At that point he was already 83, so what started out as a mission became a passion. First stop was eBay which yielded a few 'toons. Having spent a fair amount of time in newsgroups I searched for and found one devoted, for the most part, to the old Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons...alt.animation.warner-bros. I lurked for a couple of weeks before getting up the courage to post an introduction and request while verifying my identity as best I could. Usenet being what it is, I prepared myself for the doubters which usually means donning an asbestos suit!!! Wow! I was besieged with responses...all singing my dad's praises and asking that I pass along some terribly kind words. The long-standing members of that newsgroup knew more about Pop than I did, refering to him as a "cultural icon". They were a wealth of information and help...more than my wildest dreams would've ever allowed. I was able to collect all but one of the 'toons on the IMDB list. The group also told me about books in which Pop is mentioned or quoted. Huge mahalos to Jay, Pete, Paul, Jim, Steve, Gary, Wotppaper, TCP, G&L and all the rest who took the time to write. And extra special mahalos to Jay and Pete...your kindnesses will never, ever be forgotten.
Thanks to AAW-B, I was able to give my dad his 'toons for Christmas that year. Prior to that, I passed along to him all those kind words from total strangers. Some of those "strangers" had questions that Pop was willing to answer...when his memory allowed it! However, Pop took to his grave his complete, total bewilderment over being considered a "legend", a "cultural icon". He never got it or understood it. Nor did he care to! When I looked up the word "humble" in the dictionary, I found a picture of my dad!!! Likewise, when I looked up the definition of "cool dad", there he was again! That man had a heart of gold. Still does, as far as I'm concerned. I continue to feel it.
One door doesn't close without another waiting to open...
Only this one opened a little sooner than expected!
This is our first Christmas without my beloved Pop...aka, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa. Last week-end was tough for all of us as we found out comparing notes in email and on the phone. Pop wouldn't stand for this for a minute if still on this earth plane. And, as it turns out, he didn't stand for it for a minute outside this earth plane!
My son-in-law took my 2 grandsons skiing last week-end to give my daughter, Michele, a break; some alone time to do nothing, prior to the expected arrival of baby #3 in late January. It also gave her time to grieve the loss of her grandpa during the holidays. For some reason my brother, kids and myself were all in the same, painful place at the same time.
Then, something completely unpredictable happened. What I expected to be more of a Valentine's baby turned out to be a Christmas baby. Jake Anthony made his debut 5 weeks early; 3 days before Christmas. His birth was not without worry as he was, after all, a preemie. And he does have preemie related health issues. Michele, bless her heart, had yet another difficult labor and delivery, heading to the hospital in an ambulance.
But, something miraculous happened. Jake replaced the pain of the holidays with joy. There's no doubt in my mind that my dad orchestrated that celestial decision!
In the meantime, grandsons Tyler and Parker won't have their mom home for Christmas but the joy of a new baby brother just can't be beat. Well, for 6 year old Tyler anyway. Parker, who's 4 fingers (g), expected a...puppy! He'll adjust!!!
Mele Kalikimaka, Pop. I'll meet you by the ocean in the morning. And, thanks for giving Jake a little "push". I know you wouldn't have done that unless you knew he'd be all right.
Christmas 1961...a very special blouse...
I was a senior in high school and had a Christmas job at Wilson's of Laguna, THE woman's wear boutique in that sleepy, little, artistic village! Pop, for whatever reason, broke from tradition that year (he was the bread winner, mom was the Christmas shopper!) and personally bought me a Christmas gift...a blouse. I still remember opening it and how my heart and soul felt while reading the tag in his handwriting..."To Poos with love from Poppo"! Yes...sigh!...Poos was always his nickname for me! He had nicknames for everyone!
Anyway...it wasn't 'til the store's owner, Hazel Wilson, told me the full story the following week, that I came to truly cherish that blouse and vow I'd always keep it. She told me that Pop came into the store while I was working in the back room wrapping gifts. Hazel quickly sent me on an errand so I wouldn't see Pop! She told him my size then he picked out the blouse, paid for it and was quickly on his way so as not to bump into me! I eventually returned to the store and resumed my wrapping duties.
Pop put that box under the tree late Christmas eve night because he knew I'd recognize a Wilson's box if he put it out earlier! You see, I'd wrapped my own gift!!! Pop got the biggest kick out of that! So did Hazel! And so did I. I remember it like it was yesterday. Some memories are like that, I guess. I loved that special blouse and wore it a lot during my final high school days. When it came time to retire it I gently washed then stored it in a plastic bag. That's exactly how I found it 2 weeks ago, almost 42 years to the day after it was purchased, in one of the 7 boxes of memorabilia that was sent to me after the recent sale of my parents home. The blouse is in much better shape than I am! Egads...I was so petite in high school!
While this won't be the first Christmas I've spent without my dad, it is the first Christmas without my dad in my life. That's a whole different ball game for me. I know with all of my heart that as long as I spend the day next to the ocean I will be in his presence. Now, if I can just talk my dinner guests into a beach picnic with the complete turkey dinner on paper plates..............
Merry Christmas, Pop. Look for the lei I'll be sending you on Christmas day via your beloved ocean. Memories of you are the most important gifts you've given me and they continue to help make every day like Christmas day. I love you...Poos!
Heaven's creative dept. welcomes another one...
Why can't creative people, especially those who are just plain, ol', wonderful human beings, live forever? The world is always a better place from their contributions.
On August 29, Pop welcomed retired Disney animator and very long time buddy, Bill Keil, to his new resting place.
Bill and Jeanne Keil and Dave and Dodie Monahan managed to have their first borns, both girls, 19 days apart. I arrived first, 2 weeks early. I swear those 2 couples must've attended the same tee martooni (g) holiday party in 1943! Terry Keil and I grew up together fairly oblivious to the wealth of creative geniuses that surrounded us. It was our "normal"! Those Disney, Looney Tunes and film industry friends were just like any other family's friends, right? Wrong!!! Or so I found out much later in life.
My brother, Jeff, told me recently of his childhood memory of visits to Chuck and Marian Jones' home and Chuck showing my then, kid brother an aquarium he set up in his garage. Jeff vividly recalls Chuck explaining every fish. But, what Jeff remembers most are half-hour segments of one-on-one time with Chuck and how special Chuck made him feel. Jeff also recalled time at the Keils, looking at Jeanne's cels in progress, set up in her "studio", a nook in the kitchen, and what a totally cool guy Bill was.
Interesting how Terry went on to become an animator at Hanna-Barbera and I went on to become heavily involved in the film industry often working side-by-side with my dad. I guess there is some truth to that ol' adage..."The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!". What an incredible tree it was.
Rest In Peace, Bill. And please give my beloved Pop a HUGE hug. Don't worry, I won't ask you to kiss him. You guys aren't from that generation!!!
The cast of characters!
I managed to produce 2 of my parents 3 grandchildren...over 30 Staci and over 30 Michele!!! Number 3 grandchild is via my brother, Jeff. That's 4 year old Spencer. Fortunately Pop was able to meet 2 great-grandkids, my mo`opuna (grandchildren), Tyler the Jock, soon to be 6 and 3 1/2 year old, loves-anything-construction, Parker. Now you'll have some reference to who's who in future ramblings here. That said...Staci asked me to post the following scene from her grandpa's final act, a few hours before he made his transition. For the record, "tiddle" in Monahan-speak means a glass of wine!
"Every breath he took was so difficult for him. I remember him tapping his chest. I even asked him if he felt he was getting enough oxygen and he nodded. I went over to him and I adjusted his oxygen in his nose because it was off to the side. I asked him if he wanted a "tiddle" and with all that he could muster up he very softly said "is the Pope Catholic?" Only Grandpa on his deathbed could still be funny. That was all he said to me the entire time I was there."
I think if I had to rate my dad's qualities (there are so many) on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being wonderful and 10 being "it just doesn't get any better than that"...Pop's humor would come in at about a 15! Oh, God, that man was funny.
Whatever could I have been thinking. I've been totally remiss in thanking a couple of people who helped me in unique ways to honor Pop. First...mahalo to Ryan Ozawa, web guru, who set this page up (well, the whole site, really!) so that all I have to do is type and publish. No fuss...no muss for this Untechie Tutu!
And, mahalo to Guy Hagi, weatherman at KGMB-TV in Honolulu. My dad passed away 4 weeks prior to his and my mom's 62nd wedding anniversary. I spent some time at the beach, hoping the spiritual mana of Makaha would present me with a solution on how best to handle this first anniversary for my mom without my dad. My prayers were answered! I sent Mom a card with a photo of the 2 of them. I tied a duplicate of that same photo to a dried lei...the same lei I received for my birthday last year. Guy, like Pop and I decades ago, is an avid surfer. He kindly agreed to take the lei w/photo surfing with him, releasing it while riding a wave. He reported back to me (remember, Guy's good at reporting!!) that the lei actually rode the wave for awhile! That was my dad's final wave and he was able to take my mom for a ride with him.
Okay...okay...I've been pushed and prodded enough already to post my favorite Easter experience...an experience only a dad with 'toon writing abilities could come up with! Here goes...
My dad's, ummm, creativity got the best of him and he decided that all parts of Easter should be edible! He stayed up late Easter eve, under the guise of a martini or 3, carving bunny shaped poops from a chocolate candy bar. His reason? Oh Lordy! We lived in an old house in Laguna Beach, Ca., on a fairly large lot with lots of foliage. It was the perfect Easter egg hunt yard! My dad, the Easter Bunny, wanted to hide eggs in hard to find places but felt I needed "hints" to find them. His solution? A trail of bunny poops that went from egg to egg; proof positive that the Easter Bunny had, in fact, visited me! And, not just ANY bunny poops...but...the aforementioned chocolate bunny poops! He placed the trail on small pieces of wax paper so that once I found an egg I could add the chocolate bunny poops, along with the decorated eggs, to my basket!!! Amazingly, I still like chocolate to this day!
Without a doubt, that is one of my favorite childhood memories! Not to mention one of the most unusual!!!
I spent the last 5 days wondering how I was going to find the time to write the almost 60 year story of life with my dad...aka: Pop! So, I did what I'm prone to do when I have an important decision to make...head for the beach and convene with this most beautiful of Nature's creations.Damn, I'm lucky. All I have to do is fall off of my very tiny lanai and there I am! It worked! The decision was waiting for me in the surging, aqua tide at Makaha.
This page will be a journal, well a Blog in 'net terminology. When a particularly poignant or funny story manages to surface from the depths of my memory, I'll post it. Of course, that means that the almost 60 year time line won't be followed chronologically. But, what the heck...who really cares about that! It's the stories that count...not the anal-retentive placement of them. Hopefully you can follow along. I'll top post for those of you crazy enough to follow this page. That way you won't have to waste time scrolling!
Once I can put more than 2 words together about this wonderfully wacky man...my dad...without falling apart I will write about life with a commercial director and a writer of Looney Tunes! I really feel the desire to tell my favorite "chocolate bunny poop" story to the world...an Easter, as a kid, I will never forget! Eventually I'd like to add some photos. I know this page will always be a work in progress.
Two years ago I was fortunate enough to collect almost all of my dad's cartoons from his Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies days, thanks in huge part to some wonderful folks at the newsgroup, alt.animation.warner-bros. More on that later.
While Pop's passing wasn't unexpected, the passing of a loved one is never really expected, is it. Especially my dad. He was immortal in my eyes. I'm still in "healing mode". I think I'll be there for quite awhile.
Me ke Aloha from Davey's daughter
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