Where Burl gets to go to work every day

Here’s further proof that life is unfair, as though you needed any.

As you know, several months back, regular Burl Burlingame, my high school classmate, became the first newspaperman I’d known in years to leave the business voluntarily.

He became curator of the Pacific Aviation Museum, on Ford Island, smack in the middle of Pearl Harbor.

A few days ago, he posted the above picture of his workplace. I just now saw it.

It’s just not right that anybody gets to call that his “workplace.”

It’s not just the rainbow, folks. It would be awesome without that…

23 thoughts on “Where Burl gets to go to work every day

  1. Steven Davis II

    So move and become Asst. Curator. If Hawaii is anything like South Carolina you’re a lock for the position because you know the boss.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    My brother, whom you do not know, of course, left voluntarily, since you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing in newspapers….

  3. Brad

    Well, I don’t know your brother. (Of course, there’ve always been people leaving voluntarily. But the pace of INvoluntary for the last few years has just been so much greater.)

    It helps to have a place to go, a place where you WANT to go. In Burl’s case, he had been building a reputation as a Pacific military historian simultaneously with his newspaper career. He already had this hat; he just had to decide to make it his main one…

  4. Steve Gordy

    I’d find it difficult to get any productive work done in such a setting. Burl obviously is well adapted to the environment.

  5. tavis micklash

    Ford Island is a lot nicer now that you don’t have to take a ferry over.

    I was over there when they were shooting Pearl Harbor, the very forgettable Ben Affleck movie. It was pretty cool seeing the zeros and stuff flying over head.

    They have a few buildings there with bullet holes still in them too.

  6. Brad

    No doubt the causeway makes things more convenient, but I liked taking the ferry over. It made the island more of a world apart, and it felt sort of like stepping back in time to go there.

    I only did so a couple of times. Once, some friends and I went over to play basketball in a gym that was, I think, in an old hangar. Usually, I played basketball (for awhile, I did it every day after school) at the Sub Base gym over on the main island.

    The only other time I definitely remember going there was when I visited Hawaii for the last time, in December 1971. I was there for Christmas break from USC. I went to a party at a classmate’s house in the residential area on the northeast tip of the island (near where the present bridge is). I think his Dad was a senior naval officer. In any case, the house was on the water, and the party was held on the lawn. It was pretty cool. It was the first time I ever had rum and coke (and one of the last — not my kind of drink). That’s about all I remember.

  7. Burl Burlingame

    I’ve since moved that C-47. She’s a veteran of the Leyte campaign and we’re going to restore her markings.

    About a month ago, one of our 1971 classmates who lived on Ford Island visited, and we tooled around the island. It wasn’t your usual oral history: “That house there — they had awesome weed! It really f’ed you up! Oh, yeah, that banyan tree — a great place to make out!” and so on.

    I was a bit lucky in that I already had an ongoing relationship with the museum as a volunteer, and on the basis of what I did as a volunteer, the director recruited me. When his salary and benefit levels reached parity with the newspaper, it was time to say sayonara.

    I didn’t leave the newspaper business, it left me. And I’m not out completely. I still do review pieces on a freelance basis.

    BTW, the above view is from a my office window. We always get rainbows about 45 minutes before sunset.

  8. Juan Caruso

    If my travels have taught me anything, it has been that the worst things can always be found in the best places.

    You may take SC, for example.

  9. Mark Stewart


    I was really hoping those weren’t what I feared they might be.

    In defense of Bud, the military could save a mint in manpower alone just by putting away all those lawn nomes that they have come to love. Frankly, it can’t set a good example for the soldiers and sailors to be so indiscriminately afraid of every possible car or boat bomb. CYA run amuck…

    I saw a destroyer division in Portland, Or this summer. The Navy has traditionally brought part of the fleet in for a long weekend during a festival. The ships were open for tours; it was clearly a huge recruiting opportunity and a real connection to the civilian world as the ships would moor right along the downtown sea wall – next to a park and right in front of the office and entertainment areas. For the last few years the Navy has also brought those huge orange water sausages, miles of tall fencing, hundreds of generator-powered lights, Coast Guardsmen in RIB’s with machine guns and a no access policy. The Navy did a great job recreating a supermax prison on the riverfront. They may as well stay back in their home ports.

    I want to see those who protect us safe, but I also want the Pentagon to project safety – not paranoia.

  10. Jeff Morrell

    Not hardly Brad. Everything in my world supporting the Army and SCARNG is measured in meters. A far cry from your nautical world! 🙂

  11. Steven Davis II

    “You also can’t park within 33 feet (10 meters) of a building. That includes handicapped parking.”

    When did the Seabee’s go to the metric system?

  12. Burl Burlingame

    Not the SeaBees. The on-base branch of Homeland Security.

    Not to worry though — the Navy is still plenty capable of doing dumb things on their own. Here at Pearl Harbor, they’re writing their own security coding from scratch, despite well-tested and reliable systems already on the shelf, like DefenseID.

  13. Silence

    @ Burl – of course not everything is metric. The projects are programmed in metric, but the resulting construction projects are tracked in standard units. Don’t ask me why.


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