Barefoot Days, Electric Nights-A Memoir of Paradise


Just Launched, “Barefoot Days, Electric Nights,” by David Butwin, is a memoir of his life during Hawaii’s early days as the 50th State.

Butwin arrived in Honolulu to become a reporter at one of the city’s two daily newspapers. As a very young, inexperienced journalist from frigid Minnesota, he began with a scant understanding of the people, places, and nuances of island culture. He soon discovered a land of spectacular beauty, where everyone lived near an ocean shore, and islanders from many different places went everywhere barefoot.

David writes of his Hawaii days, with the clear prose of a seasoned reporter, yet creates an intimate memory of his work, the women he dated, and the prominent celebrities he encountered.

He often draws from an unusual documentation source: reams of detailed letters that he wrote home to his family, saved over many decades.

And for part of this memoir, he draws from an even more unusual resource: Me, (Steve Vachss) writer of this review article. Though we came from different work-worlds, we knew each other back then in Hawaii, as colleagues of a sort, and eventually as friends.

Assigned in Hawaii as an Army writer-editor, I became Butwin’s source for military news and background information. As an Army Reservist, David tells a compelling story about an enormous military exercise called Coral Sands II that involved thousands of soldiers, 13 US Navy warships, and the entire Island of Molokai. For nearly two weeks, David and I occupied a press tent on Molokai and created news stories, interviews, and press releases flown to Honolulu.

We later learned that perpetrators of the famous “My Lai Massacre” were apparently with us at Coral Sands on Molokai. A consequence of the operation later involved us both, especially David, in a blockbuster story that may have affected the history of the Vietnam War. With details never previously disclosed, David explains this incredible story and our involvement.

My other cameo appearance in Barefoot Days, Electric nights, deals with an incident of street violence that Butwin calls “my night of terror.” It’s a story we both would prefer to forget but which has lived in each of us forever after.

Notwithstanding my personal connection, I enjoyed “Barefoot Days, Electric Nights,” and highly recommend it. It’s beautifully written in a style that brings the reader face-to-face with a place and a lifestyle that no longer exists. A memoir of paradise.


Should I Write This Book?

I need YOUR opinion, especially if you are from Stamford or a book lover.

Though I’ve been fairly successful in publishing two novels, I am considering writing a different kind of story, a novel or a novelette (shorter version) based on a true story that began when I was a young teenager, in my hometown of Stamford, CT. This novel would be a “coming of age” story with central characters based on my best friend of that time and me, as well as a mystery.

Back in those Cold War days, many Americans were worried about “Communists among us.” My friend—I’ll call him Jon—and I shared a real world confrontation with some potentially bad people. We kept the incident secret and never told the story to anyone. Nevertheless, It followed us into our adult lives with profound consequences.

The book I’m considering would also include  characters based on our friends, and real places in and around downtown Stamford of the 1960s, offering memories of a simpler time.

The picture following this post is a simple mockup of a cover for this yet unwritten story. I put the cover together to provide a feel for the book.

My questions to you: Would people from Stamford be interested in this kind of story? I’m not looking for a commitment to buy the book. But at this point, I need to know whether it would capture your interest. If you think it’s a weak idea, please let me know that as well. If you have any other advice, I’d love to read your comments here, or in a private Facebook message.