What does a psychiatrist, sewing machine and Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts all have in common? I spent the afternoon recently in Honolulu finding out.
When 10,000 mental heath professionals came to Honolulu last month for their annual conference, I set out to meet one remarkable psychiatrist from Arizona. In addition to his medical practice, Michael also writes a regular blog called, Spo-Reflections. It’s an intelligent and witty look at life that I have followed the past several years.
Michael has an interesting hobby that is a good fit for the islands. He’s been making his own Aloha shirts for over ten years. Michael estimates that he’s produced 50 so far, many going to family and friends.
“The first shirt was crude and had a lot of faults with it, but I was pleased for trying it. I made a few more, building on my trial and error experience; oh there was a lot of ‘error’!”
Michael got into sewing when his favorite Aloha shirt maker in Key West retired. He’d been going to her for years and bemoaned there would be no more shirts. A buddy suggested he make his own.
“I immediately balked. I had no experience, I didn’t know a thing about sewing, and I had no idea how to start. None of my female friends or relatives were sewers. So I bought a pattern, a sort of ‘sewing for dummies.’ I found I had to learn a whole new lexicon as well as how to operate a sewing machine. I borrowed my partner’s sister’s old machine and purchased 3 yards of a fabric I liked.”
I came home with one great aloha shirt for under ten dollars. Score!
During my visit with Michael, I decided to take him to the place where all Aloha shirt aficionados go on their Hawaii vacation, Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts on Kapahulu. In business since 1980, Bailey’s has over 15,000 shirts in four subgroups: Used, New, Vintage and Specialty. We felt awash in fabric and colors.
After a hike up Diamond Head and dinner at Jimbo’s, I dropped Michael off at his hotel. Before we said goodbye, I asked Michael what he thought of his first visit to Honolulu.
“It reminded me of the best of Lost Vegas, Key West and Santa Barbara rolled into one. My only regret is not having enough time to go out to see the rest of the island. Someday (I hope soon) it would be lovely to visit the other islands to experience more than the city. Besides, where else can I walk around in loud lovely colorful shirts and fit in so well?”