On Saturday, April 21, 1989, as my father opened the doors to our fine art gallery in Old Town Pasadena, he was met by two L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies asking if he had a son named Walter Hackman, Jr. They informed him that my only sibling had been murdered for a mere $50.
The tragedy took a toll. My parents divorced, and, as my Dad says, he felt “thoroughly cast adrift.” He decided to revisit a dream: to live on a wooden boat. He knew he wanted his wooden boat to be special. He just didn’t realize how special it would turn out to be.
No Problem, Mr. Walt – a Memoir of Loss, Building a Boat, Rebuilding a Life and Discovering China is my dad, Walt Hackman, Sr.’s, captivating memoir about his travels throughout China during the construction of the Mei Wen Ti, a 55-foot, 40-ton, authentic wooden Chinese junk, built in a small shipyard south of Shanghai.
The book is not about my brother’s death. Rather, it is a first-person narrative woven around my father’s journey of discovery. It’s about ancient Chinese history and today’s modern China. It’s about understanding the difference between fighting and singing crickets, enjoying daily breakfasts of congee, discovering the Eight Immortals, walking the streets of Shanghai at dawn, Red Flag limousine tours, learning the proper way to eat dim sum (chicken feet must precede sweet bean buns), and how ordinary citizens work and play.
It is said “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In “No Problem, Mr. Walt,” my dad tells the story of how, despite unimaginable heartbreak, he decided to take that first step, the next, and the next. The result is a fun and fascinating story about the people and experiences he encountered during the construction of the Mei Wen Ti and the unique and improbable path he took in the process of rebuilding his life.
My brother would be proud.
Editor’s Note: The Mei Wen Ti will be on display at the Balboa Yacht Club Wooden Boat Festival, June 4, where Walt will be on hand signing copies of his book. MrWalt.com