In the summer of 1950, I have family pictures from Gulfport, Mississippi. Somewhere in this time frame my father joined the Army Air Force and left for Korea in December of 1950. By early 1951 we had moved to Massachusetts.
We lived in Amherst, Massachusetts. This is where my first childhood memories began to form. It was at this time that my brother Mike was born.
June of 1952 found our family at Yamada Ammunition Supply Depot outside of Kokura, on the island of Kyushu, Japan. I have memories of playing on 500 pound bombs with other children. I also remember watching the loading of munitions, that probably were destined for Korea. The people were very friendly and the country beautiful. I was a "handsome boyson" in the opinion of those I can in contact with. My first experience with death occurred here. Polio took the life of one of the other American children on the base.
I n 1954 and 1955 we stayed in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. I remember the DEEP snow. As kid we went sledding out the second story of the barn on the huge drifts. It was in Michigan that I first experimented with smoking. I remember getting caught by my father and having to smoke a cigar until I got sick. My report card in second grade a Jefferson says I weighed 47 pounds and make a note that I had a tendency to hesitate in saying words. Sometime I had to work hard at getting the word said.
In 1955 and 1956 we found ourselves in Aurora, Colorado. I remember playing in the back yard and seeing snow on the mountains. I got into a bit of trouble with a toilet plunger. It somehow got stuck to a window that broke when the plunger was pulled too hard. When we made trips up Pike's Peak, Dad would make me sit next to the window facing the drop off. He seems to enjoy bringing out my fear of heights. Motion sickness developed here as he told a carnival ride operator to make the ride go faster until I got sick.
My father was originally transferred to Tachikawa AFB, just outside of Tokyo, Japan. Upon arrival, he was told that the opening had been filled. Complaining about having to move his family so far to be told this, he got posted back to Yamada. It was thrilling to be back in a familiar place.
This time we lived off base. I remember making spending money collecting tin cans and sell them to the Japanese recyclers. You could buy a toy in those day and when you decide to see what made it work, you could find a beer can that had been used to create the toy. The Japanese laid out the can flat and turned the inside out.
During the three years we spent in Japan, I first remember the strictness of my father. I got whipped once so bad that I had to sleep on my stomach for over a week. As a child, I had a problem bedwetting. This was not looked on too kindly by my father. He was an officer and officer kids did not do that. I will go into more detail on my bedwetting condition in the medical pages.
My brother and I did enjoy a certain amount of freedom as Officer's kids. We traveled a lot while in Japan. We visited the Atomic Bomb Memorial in Hiroshima and the Hot Springs in Beppu. I like riding the trains, In Beppu I remember diving into what I thought was a swimming pool when have been brought to a public bath. I was embarrassed to be naked and jumped in to cover myself only to find that the water was very hot.
We did not spend our whole tour at Yamada. We moved the Brady Air Force Base and end on Ashiya Air Force Base. Ashiya was later written about in "Flight from Ashiya". Both bases were close to the ocean. I had another trip to the doctors when my tree fort building got me hit in the head. I also almost lost an eye while throwing rocks at one another with my brother. Each took a turn inside a cardboard box while the other through rock at them. When I took the box off to say "enough", I got hit.
It was also during these days that I first experience getting "beat up" by fellow kids. I was supposed to be tough but the strict discipline from home had made me fear strength. Dad did not believe in sparing the rod. A GI belt was his favorite weapon.
I also remember my sheets being hung out as a sign that I had had another "wet" night. It was a problem I had that the whole world seemed to know of in my eyes. I was examined my doctors with no relief of end in sight. I could not spend night over at friends for fear of having an "accident'.
My first "crush" came while attending Third Grade at Kitagata Elementary School. Miss Jane Carpenter was something else and stayed in contact with the family for the years we were on the island.
From Ashiya, I have two vivid memories. On Saturdays we used to go the movies for half a day. Cartoons, serials and a movie. The second was of an Air Force plane crash the ended in a barracks killing several people. It burned for a long time. I remember my mother saying that the Air Force was more interested in saving the plane then the crew or the injured from the barrack. My mother worked as a "Gray Lady" in the base hospital must to my father's dismay.
My paternal grandfather pasted away while we were living in Ashiya. My brother came and got me out of class to help him. I found him sitting in a chair with his head back and his top plate of false teeth in his lap. My brother Mike said he was reading to him and he just pasted away. My father left us in Japan while he escorted grandpa home to Oregon for burial. This was the beginning of the end of "my family".
This Web page was last updated on Thursday, 28-Mar-2002 12:14:25 MST .
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