There I was... a naive GA Boy, far from home, and completely enamored of this Japanese Lady... far from home, enamored of me, and... very, very, pregnant.
We had agreed to marry, long before any sexual relations, other than typical touching, ever happened.
We were at her home in Gunma, on an emergency trip to get final papers for our marriage, and her Father way dying.
I had given up on an on/off again relationship with Candy. She had to make a living, after all. Satchiko had showed me just how passionate fucking could be, but spending two weeks one afternoon with her had showed me that few men are able to satisfy a really passionate woman. I had passed with flying colors, but no more
Like all sailors at Atsugi, I had sampled lots of the "Ladies of the Night". Prostitution was legal in Japan, and at the time, might have been the greatest contributor to Japan's GNP. Honda was just making small 250 cc motorcycles. Toyota and Nissan were in a dead heat for small, inexpensive cars, mostly used for Taxi Cabs. There were some very rich (surprise, surprise) Japanese people, as everyone, on a second tour would bring to Japan a brand-new luxury car, usually a Cadillac, top of the line Buick, Oldsmobile, or Lincoln. These could be imported without duty, and sold after 6 months had elapsed. Most of these car owners bought a clunker that had been here for many years. You do not add mileage to an investment that can bring you two or two and a half times your investment. Japan was, and still is, a very protected market for American goods. They loved Elvis, though.
These ladies, if you ever bothered to talk between fucks, ran the gamut. Many were older, like Ne-chan, to be introduced later. Some were like Miyoko and Tomiko, whom you will also meet later. Many were disillusioned girls that had been placed in an arranged, abusive, marriage (like Ne-chan). Many times the abusiveness was because of the poor financial opportunities for most everyone in Japan. Work your ass off for a Japanese Company, 14-16 hours 6 days a week. Go home, beat your wife because she didn't want to fuck and bring more babies, which would make everything worse. Descending Spiral. Drink More Sake.
Many were mothers of bastards left by the real Bastard, fathers during the Korean War, like Miyoko and Tomiko. Lucky Ladies that got to work on base at Atsugi, excelled, and made a living wage, even supporting an extended family, in Miyoko's case, her mother, a WWII widow. She never told me much of her story, either, even though she was a best friend and confidant.
Many were there strictly for the money. Work your way through a mile of dicks, and you can open your own bar. So what if starving, tender young girls were attracted to the money. Starting salary for a clerk at Atsugi was less that $30 per month. One of the highest paid workers on base worked in the Supply Department. He was Jun Kitagawa, and he made just over $90 per month. One of these girl could make up $5 per night, just to spend the night, fuck once, and get commission on the tea they drank (top of the bar, for call) plus what they could talk some poor gaijin (foreigner) into drinking. If he would get so drunk that he just passed out, more the better. Less wear and tear on the pussy.
I had fucked the gamut of these ladies. Some were wonderful ladies, some were just looking to add another 6" of dick to their resume'. It got pretty boring, repetitious. Candy was out of reach, Satchiko, well I didn't think my dick and back could stand another round, even though she teased me all the time. Still shook my hand when I went to her bar. Still teased, with her flashing and the tucking of head under her sweater. She was total insanity in a world that was just this side of insane, to everything I had known before Japan.
Lots of these ladies saw a young inexperienced sailor as a sure fire ticket to the States. That is the reason the Immigration, and US Navy required background checks. Even an 18 year old sailor, when confronted with all the auspices of his 42 year old spouse to be, most times saw the light.
Besides, I had fallen in love. Not just heat, real Love. Gus, (Not her real name, but it became an endearment from a pre-grand little boy) had started to work at the Supply Office, NAS Atsugi.
I was an E-3, SKSN, filling a billet that called for an E-6, SK-1. Crow, and lots of stripes. Somehow I had caught the attention of the Leading Chief, Dale Palmanteer, and Lieutenant-Commander Calvin Anweiler, the Assistant Supply Officer. The Supply Officer was Charles E. Lee, a Commander. (Silver Oak Leaf, Lt-Cdr was a Gold) All three of these very influential people saw something in me that no one else ever had. I was the fair-haired boy (going bald), sitting across from LtCdr Anweiler, just outside of Commander Lee's office door. I promise I did not kiss ass to reach this point, I just tried as hard as I could to be a 4.0 Sailor.
I was theoretically in charge of the Admin Division for the whole Supply Office. This meant that I oversaw about 10 Japanese employees, who printed the Plan of The Day, routed correspondence, kept an admin file of everything, and personally I had to walk through all classified correspondence. I helped Chief Palmanteer with the daily watch (duty) list. (I oversaw the typing and printing, I had no control).
Theoretically, all 10 Japanese worked for me. Hah. Jun Kitagawa was the Japanese supervisor, and he kept everything rolling. Commander Lee's secretary, Miyoko sat at a desk on my right, with Lt-Cdr Anweiler directly across from us. Do you really believe I would try to tell Miyoko what to do, or Jun? These were some of the smoothest office people you will ever meet. They had it down pat. If it ain't broke...
Miyoko and another lady in the division named Tomiko were tragedies of the Korean War. Both were well into their thirties, raising a child from assholes who promised forever, and forever left Japan. They were accepted and loved by those of us who knew them, but they, and their children were outcasts in Japanese Society as a whole. They were both buoyant and outgoing ladies, and they, as well as Jun kindly educated me about Japanese Society.
I believe the time frame was in November 1961, after Thanksgiving. Jun came to me one day, and said "Mac-san, I have hired a new girl, She is kawai (pretty), and young and tender!" Of course, this got my attention, being a young and perpetually horny soon-to-be 20 year old. (December 22, if you are interested).
Sure enough, the next day Gus went to work. I will never forget my first impression. She was, as are most Japanese, short, about 5'0". Her hair, like midnight, was below her shoulders, and she wore a powder blue blouse. I have no idea what the rest of her ensemble consisted of. Mostly, I noticed that she just kept smiling and smiling. She was absolutely gorgeous! Young and Tender, indeed. Totally enamored, and totally shy. I just couldn't talk to a lady of this caliber.
Dumb ass me, despite urging from Miyoko, Tomiko, and Jun, stayed tongue-tied, in the shyness mode. We reacted with the every-day business, but I could hardly call her name, I was so shy/impressed.
Came the Christmas Party, I had finally worked up my courage. Peter beat me to her, and asked her out, she accepted.
Now to understand Peter McDermott, you have to understand what a leech he was. This is a man that would open a pack of cigarettes, smoke one, fold the foil back on the pack, bum from others for as long as he could, THEN BRAG ABOUT HOW FEW HE HAD SMOKED!!! He had also been the main participant in a shower party, in which the main participant was thoroughly scrubbed by others. This is the man Gus is going to DATE!!
Shy and reticent, I watched this unfold. During this time, Chief Palmanteer and Lt.-Cdr Anweiler noticed a new Navy Program, called NESEP. Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program. They brought the application to my attention, and I eagerly applied. Getting paid for four years to attend college, with all tuition and housing paid? Didn't take me long, I wasn't dumb. (Or was I). Commander Lee endorsed my application, walked it to the Base Commander, and even sat down with the Admiral, COMNAVFAIRJAPAN, the total honcho, Naval Forces, West of Pearl Harbor. My application went to BuPers with a 5-star recommendation. At least a 3-star, that's what the Admiral had to offer.
Meanwhile, while the Navy moved slowly, Peter moved fast. Gus was sporting a ring, and I just shut myself down about her. I went TAD (Temporary Additional Duty), to a Marine school teaching ABC (Atomic, Biological, and Chemical) warfare all during January. I learned (still have the scar) just what Mustard Gas can to unprotected flesh, what it can do to protected flesh, and how easy it is to use the antidote. I also learned that an atropine injection into the thigh muscles doesn't hurt. Me, the Wuss of the World, about shots, cheerfully teaching others about thigh injections!! I left the school with an inherent fear of Biological Warfare. Scary shit. I also got an insight to all the tunnels that the Japanese had dug to fight an invasion during WWII. There was one from Atsugi to Tokyo that had train tracks, and was still wide enough for a truck to pass the train. I later found out that my future brothers-in-law helped dig this network, while they were schoolboys. The tunnels went everywhere, even under Tokyo Bay. If anyone doubts that we, the US, did wrong by unleashing the atomic bomb, you need to check your facts. We expected over two million US casualties from an invasion. Seeing this tunnel network, and past history of Okinawa, I can believe it.
When I came back in February, the ring was gone.
There was a movie, King of Kings, about this time, that told of Christ's crucifixion. A Christian Church donated reserved tickets to all Japanese employees on the base. Jun Kitagawa, that wonderful man, took Gus's ticket number and scoured the base for an adjoining seat. He brought the ticket to me, not giving any indication of the trouble he had gone to. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to ask Gus to the movie. I did. I fell in love. I fell in heat. I fell in deep, deep love. All in one day + four months.
Gus was living with her oldest sister, Ne-chan, in Yamato, a town just outside the base. Atsugi had a Marine Air Group that was headquartered on the West side of the runway, and Yamato was about 1/2 mile outside this gate. Sagami Otsuka was just outside the East (Navy side) gate, and was just a town of bars, jo-sans, cheap restaurants, and a place of total pandemonium when an Aircraft Carrier docked in Yokuska. They would send their aircraft ashore to Atsugi, and the support personnel would arrive shortly after docking.
Food, taxis, beer, pussy, everything became inflated when the fleet arrived, so most base sailors took liberty in Yamato, even though we had to put up with the Marines. We were all in civvies, so it was a guarded truce. Few fleet "newbies" made it to Yamato, and there was actually a Japanese presence, not associated with the bar scene, in Yamato. Navy and Marine Shore Patrols were quite prevalent, as well as the Japanese Omari-sans, Police Officers. There was a midnight curfew for all sailors, marines, or any other miscellaneous foreigners who happened to be present. DO NOT become entangled with the Omari-sans. All the bars and restaurants closed at 11:00, giving everyone time to clear the street before midnight.
All unmarried sailors below the rank of E-5 (Second Class Petty Officer) had liberty expiring at midnight, also. Overnight chits (permission) were only given for Friday and Saturday nights, and then only if you were not part of the duty section. Trust me, if the owners of the Bund Hotel in Yokohama had checked in every sailor using that address, they could own Japan today. Nissan, Toyota, everything. Every fourth night, and every fourth weekend, we at Supply had to spend the night at the Supply Office, to enable emergency issues of aircraft parts.
At the time, the Navy had a priority system for all requisitions, with one being the lowest, all the way up to 10, which was wartime only. Priority 8 was the highest I ever saw, and that was for an AOCP (Aircraft Out of Commission for Parts), or ANFE (Aircraft Not Fully Equipped). The Navy took these very seriously, and many after-hours runs to the Supply Center in Yokuska, or Supply Depot in Yokohama disrupted our sleep. Keep 'em Flying!
All this folderol meant that my time with Gus was limited, and controlled by others. I had recovered from my lack of funds when arriving in Japan, and had proudly purchased my first car. I paid $200 for a 1951 Ford Tudor. The family car back in GA had just been upgraded from a 1950 Ford to a 1958 Buick Roadmaster. I was picking in high cotton, indeed. First Car. First Love.
Gus and I had started dating, and it was an every-time-I-was-off thing. Every Time. We spent more time together in three months than most high-school kids do in 3 years. I will never forget one cold night when I picked her up. She was wearing the same powder-blue blouse in which I had first seen her. She slid across the leather seats, in a nylon skirt, to give me a kiss. It was just at dark, and I swear, a static electricity spark jumped 1" between our lips. Shock. Laughter. An all-encompassing kiss. I knew then, I was a goner. I just thought I loved her after seeing King of Kings.
She would cook often, but many times we would go out to dinner. There was a steak house that served only Kobe Beef. Googol that, and you will be astounded to learn it only cost Y700, about 2 bucks each. This, in turn, astounded Gus, because her starting salary at the base was less the $30. Jun Kitagawa, the second highest paid Japanese on the base only earned $90. We only went there once, as she refused to let me spend the equivalent of a month's groceries on one meal. But if you have ever had Kobe Beef, you will understand. The closest approximation I can give you is that it as tender as fresh Tuna, with all the goodie taste of a T-bone or Filet Mignon.
Most often, for a restaurant, we went to the Soko-Store. This was the Japanese equivalent of a modern day Wally-World Box store, with restaurant. Three stories high, restaurant on top, grocery on bottom, with dry goods in the center. We could eat for the sum of Y100, each, about a quarter. This would get us some wonderful curries, noodles like you have never dreamed of, chicken dishes I can't describe, seafood dishes I Will Not describe. Minnows, seined up and allowed to dry on the beach, served with rice? Whale steaks? Where are the Black-Eyed Peas? I found out about them also, as the Japanese relish a sweet-bean paste. Fortunately, my Mama never experienced this, as her heart attack would have taken her much sooner.
I have seen Mothers (Mama-sans) bring in 5 children, feed all of them Soba (noodles), and exit for just Y100. A quarter. 6 people. Third World, indeed, but populated with a proud people, looking forward, but ever aware of the past. Japanese custom is that any visitor is to be offered food. Japanese folklore tells that any traveler, offered food must be circumspect about starving. Face, and all that. If a traveler completely cleans his plate, he is offered more. He will protest, but accept. If he is sated, he will leave 3 grains of rice, stating that he is so full, that he cannot even eat these three grains. The host is assured that they have met their obligations. The traveler has insured that none of the valuable, and scarce meal has been wasted. Face. I call it Dignity. Does anyone else know the Japanese Emperor is a direct descendent of more than 1,500 years? They just recently, in the last few days, added another generation. Take that Charlie, and all the Asses a most Regal Queen Elizabeth spawned.
Subtle things dominate Japanese Society. The same caring, wonderful, Jun Kitagawa would elbow me away if I tried to enter a bus or train first. Yet, in his home, and in the work place, he was one of the kindest, gentlest, men I have ever known. Courtesy, as we know it, doesn't get you very far in Japanese Transportation. They hire people to push commuters onto the train, or bus. Maybe that's why they run on time. Let a Lady go first? Two men and three women will elbow you aside. A Bushido code, over a millennium, made thegood- old GA-type farm boys, and girls, develop esp survival strategies. When your head can be chopped off, with impunity, society takes on a different aspect than we Americans are used to.
Back to dating Gus. She lived with her sister, Ne-chan (that means older sister, but at this time, she was the classic Japanese beauty, porcelain skin, shape, small but obvious breasts, and a mind as cold as a steel-trap). Ne-chan was a prostitute. She never brought anyone home, vending her wares in Sagami-Otska. I knew that she worked at an Officers-only Club, perhaps she worked with Candy, I don't know.
As her work ended at 11:00, and my curfew ended at midnight, we saw little of each other.
With all respect to a wonderful Lady and Sister-in-Law, I need to tell a little about her, and why she was here at this point in time. She was the oldest daughter, of three, after 3 older brothers. All of these brothers and sisters had lived through WWII, and the vast famine following the Atomic Bomb. Her brothers, high schoolers, were forced to help dig tunnels all over Japan, in anticipation of a final assault by American Forces. Why none of the brothers were not forced to become Kamikaze Pilots, I do not know. At least two of them were the right age.
I really feel the only way the whole family survived this period was that they owned a farm. Under Macarthur's dominion, this was reduced to about 5 acres. Evidently, it was much larger, before the war. Ne-chan, born 1936, was forced into an arranged marriage in 1952. Her husband was much older, and very abusive. Can you imagine turning away your 16-17 year old daughter, obviously abused? That's what happened to Ne-chan. She did what she had to do to survive. I will never fault her for her actions, nor from the complete alienation from her family for many years.
The whole family sheltered Gus. She was the baby. I can relate to that, as I am the family baby, and the Grandbaby. My oldest cousin was born before my mother. Gus kicked up her heels after completing high school, and went to live with Ne-chan. The only family member to stay in ever-so-often touch was my sweet Kyoko, the middle sister. Ne-chan had been written off, and Gus was close to that when she was hired at Atsugi.
Gus and I had free rein, with no interference during our courtship, but, nope, she wasn't giving it up. I spent so many frustrating nights, blue balls, but it never occurred to me to sate myself with the very available Ladies of the Night. I loved her, and that's all that mattered. This was the mother of my future children. I had no idea how she, or South Georgia, would react to each other, and it didn't matter. Paraphrase Ruth, "Wherever Thou Goest". Wherever I had to go, it would be with Gus. Anywhere. Cut any ties that bind.
OK, back to the Supply Office. Suffice it to say that there was one really testosterone induced young man, and an estrogen pumped (or whatever hormones females experience) young woman trying to work together in the Supply Office Admin Division. This did not escape the notice of Anweiler and Palmanteer. (Notice I did not give them rank?) This was somewhere during the latter part of March 1962. Gus and I had been dating for 6-7 weeks, and it was hard to hide a relationship. All the Japanese in the Division, hell, the whole Supply Office knew, and was pulling for us. I am sure Miyoko and Tomiko were re-living past disappointments, and hoping I would not become another asshole who leaves his kids behind. Not I.
I put in an application to marry a Japanese National somewhere during the last week of March 1963. To say that the feces hit the oscillating device put it mildly. I was Palmanteer's, Anweiler's, and Lee's fair-headed boy, possibly headed off to become the Chief of Naval Operations, thanks to a boost from them. I was certainly headed to a degree at Georgia Tech, if I could stand up to the course. I had been accepted in the NESEP Program, but none of these plans, by others, included a wife, certainly not a Japanese Wife. Palmanteer took me to a quiet place, and talked to me for 3 hours. I could come back, and marry then. If what we felt was that strong, it would last for four or more years. Palmanteer gave me some really good advice, he told me, whatever happened; do not get this young lady pregnant. All of the above knew Gus, probably lusted after her, but most of all they admired her disposition and beauty. It was no surprise to them that I had fallen in love with her, they just rued the timing. All the above had the best of intentions, but you know how, and where that goes...
I could not participate in NESEP as a married man. Anweiler and Lee let me know in no uncertain terms, a USN Ensign newly frocked, would not have a Japanese Wife. Fuck you too, but I didn't say it. They had at least one Admiral behind them, I was and E-3 trying for SK-3 (E-4) in May.
In all this turmoil, I nearly derailed any support that I had. Stupid. Does an ant and rubber tree plant ring a bell?
We had a new Division Officer. This bounty was always passed off to the newest "newbie". Lieutenant Crutchfield (double RR track, Captain to other services) gladly passed off this duty. I do not even remember this Ensign's name, but I do remember him getting dressed down by Commander Lee for the way he had screwed up on dressing himself in a Naval Uniform. He could not even get the Gold Bar straight, much less the proper shoes. Navy Aviators are Green Shoes. Regular Navy, are Black Shoe. Big notation everywhere in the Navy. This idiot was wearing Black Shoes with an Airdale Uniform. They are different, trust me.
Quickly whipping the Department into shape, as a Good Division Officer Should Do, he called for a sea-bag inspection, on Thursday, for all sailors that lived in the barracks. Now the Navy issues 4 sets of white uniforms, 4 sets of dungarees, 2 undress blues, 1 dress blue, 4 dixie-cups. I worked directly across from the Assistant Supply Officer. The Supply Officer passed my desk on his way to his office. I answered directly to the Leading Chief, (God to those uninformed about the Navy). I had 18 sets of whites, 6 sets of blues, 20 dixie cups, but since this was just before payday, most were at the base laundry. I shaved, showered, and changed whites twice a day. I was a 4.0 sailor, as all my fitness reports stated. I only had 3 sets of whites to present for the inspection, but a laundry tab that showed where the remainder was located. BTW, this was the first sea-bag inspection I had experienced since boot camp, in 1960.
Newbie flagged me, and told me to show up for another inspection on Saturday. Since Friday was payday, I could retrieve my errant wardrobe, and do my real sailor thing. Remember the ant and rubber tree plant? There was also a song line about a Ram and a Dam. Saturday was Gus's birthday; we had long-standing plans that could not be cancelled. I mentally told Newbie to Fuck Off.
It's a good thing I was still in good standing with Palmanteer, Anweiler, and Lee on Monday. Not showing up at an appointed time is very serious, in the Navy. I was written up, but due to a good offensive line, I wasn't sacked. I did have to appear for a series of 5 Saturday sea-bag inspections. It caught my attention that the first was by the Newbie, just after payday. I piled everything I owned on the bed, irrespective of what was required. That was a violation of a sea-bag, inspection, since only the issued amounts were to be presented. He looked at my perfectly presented offering, and would not meet my eye. It was not a good thing to stare an Officer in the eye. I did not have that problem, as he would not meet mine. After this inspection, he would go out of his way to keep from encountering me. I don't know who put the word out, but this was definitely a case of an SKSN that cowed an Ensign.
Gus and I went to Atami that day. I think it is on the Sea of Japan, but I'm not sure. Beautiful volcanic mountains, the sea beyond, black sand beaches to walk... (MINNOWS LAID OUT TO DRY, TO BE SERVED WITH RICE!!) We had a wonderful day. We had to change trains in Tokyo. It was early evening, and she suggested we visit the Imperial Park. Like all visitors, the Castle, the Walls, Moat, and everything protecting the Emperor stunned me. The whole park was wonderful, with all kinds of walking paths going in every direction. We took one of the paths, and thought we had eluded all of the many people in Japan. This is a country, at the time that had almost as many people as the US, confined to an area the size of Florida. Just as things were beginning to look (feel) promising, a stab of light and a guttural Japanese voice disturbed my reverie, and fondling. There I was, poised... Uh Oh. At least Oswald was not prevalent, moments away from his outing. Back to Yamato.
We were both broke, we had not had dinner. Actually the fare home meant I had to ride a bus for Y10 rather than a taxi for Y100. Remember, Y100 was about a quarter! Gus went to the kitchen and cooked a meal I enjoy, and treasure to this day. It simply was rice, 1/2 stick of butter, and soy sauce. I quite often, as an old, retired, hermit, cook this same thing. I always remember the occasion.
Newbie's report chit got action. For the next 5 weeks, I had to stand a sea-bag inspection on Saturday before I could get my liberty card. The Chiefs standing as Duty Officer laughed off the first four. They all knew me, and just shook their head as they issued my liberty card at 0800, the earliest it would be valid.
The fifth was just a little bit tougher. The Supply Department had a Chief Warrant Officer in command of the Commissary (food) Division. Now a Warrant Officer, of any grade, gets respect from Admirals. A CWO (WO-4) like Mr. Crowell can just about command his own future, much like the CNO. Mr. Crowell made me stand my sea-bag inspection just like I was in boot camp. I had to be at stiff (I really mean stiff!) attention throughout the ordeal. After his "At Ease" command at the end, he counseled me, with 40 years of Naval Service behind him.
He told me "McDuffie (everyone called me Mac, even Gus and Lee), you are one lucky Son-of-a-Bitch. If anyone else in the whole Department, or even the whole base, had pulled this shit, they would be in the Brig, right now. You are an outstanding sailor, and many people feel you can go far. Just remember, pick battles that means as much to you as what you stand to lose. Make it count when you make a stand. You used piss-poor judgment this time. Stand fast for what you believe, but give some room. 4.0 inspection".Now in Navy Terminology, 4.0 is perfect. Lee, Anweiler, and Palmanteer had got their message across. A cowed Ensign, 4 laughing chiefs, and a really pointed dressing down by a 40-year veteran offering good advice let me know just how lucky I was.
I could see just a little bit of the strategy. Naval Officers are given total command, to do or die, or if you are mistaken, to answer to higher authorities. Captain of a Navy ship, is GOD!, especially if you are commanding a Ballistic Submarine. Command decisions hinge on personal experience. Heaven help you if you are wrong, but the world awaits if you are right.
Just ask Admiral Ray Spruance, hero of Midway, who made a decision to withdraw while winning. Had he pursued, we would have lost the last of our fleet, and been open to Japan's whims. Bull Halsey, the carrier admiral, had a case of the hives, and could not participate. Frank Jack Fletcher, Admiral, reached the theatre too late to make any real decisions. Ray Spruance was content to sink 4 Japanese Carriers, with all associated pilots, the best in the world, at that time. He then retreated. Personal Choice, personal experience, in the finest traditions of the Navy.
Mr. Crowell, in my mind, was Fleet Admiral, Chairman of the JCS, even President. Without a doubt, I know the timing of the inspections was manipulated. Newbie was not the Duty Officer the weekend of his inspection. Neither was CWO Crowell. I tucked in my tail feathers, and hunkered down to weather the storm. And boy, did it come. From every direction.
I listened and learned, and realized just how foolish it is to challenge the whole US Navy. Ask Yamamoto, or Ngumo. I did learn to take a stand where the gain was far greater than the loss. I won. I married Gus.