Monday, November 5, 2012

September 17, 1953 The Next Letter, The Children's Tea, The Glorious Day, The Sayonara Party and The Hotel

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"We have had your letters and it doesn't seem like we could be so far away from home.  I am going to begin this letter with where I left off in the last one.  Two days before we got here the stewards gave a tea party for the children.  We dressed Bob and Ann up and took them altho we didn't sit down with them.  The dining room was decorated with crepe paper streamers, balloons, lanterns and all sorts of fancy decorations.  Each child got a paper hat, a balloon and little toys like whistles & party favors.  The stewards were dressed up in their white starchy coats and it really was a pretty sight to see all those little kids dressed up and having such an elegant time.  They had all sorts of food for them--started with little sandwiches, then cake and ice-cream besides cookies and crackers of all sorts.  The cakes were decorated with flowers and frills and look much better than they taste.  B took a few pictures that should be nice.

Bobby and his French girlfriend

The day before we got to Yokohama was a really glorious sunny day.  We could see land all day long and there were dozens of little Japanese fishing boats going in all directions.  

They have little put-put motors on them.  Lots of people got sunburned that day for it was the first real sun we had had.  That night the crew gave us a Sayonara (good-bye) party and it was a big affair and a noisy one.  The dining room was decorated again and we all had paper hats and party favors.  The dinner menu had everything good to eat--lobster, steak, chicken--most any of the really good foods.  The waiters love those parties and really know how to give one.

The ship anchored in the harbor about 2:00 A.M. and we had to stay there until the quarantine officer came and inspected us to see that we had no measles or other contagious disease.  He came on board about 6:15 that morning and then we had breakfast earlier than usual.  All he did was  walk thru the dining room and take a quick look to see that we were all there.  That was all.  There were lots of big ships anchored in the harbor waiting for the same thing.  Then we docked and the immigration officials came on board to examine our passports and visas.  They were very friendly and obliging and it took only a few minutes.  A band was playing on the dock and there were lots of people.  It seemed to take hours to get the gangplank down.  Then people were allowed to come on the ship to greet their friends and families.  Miss Yokohama came to greet us (the Fulbright group) with flowers and other Fulbright officials of Japan were there with greetings.  Several press photographers took pictures that came out in the papers but we didn't manage to get a copy of the paper.  The Fulbright men had 50,000 yen for each Grantee so we had some of our money before we left the ship and the balance of our first month's pay was given to us a few days later in a check.  Our baggage was all taken to the customs building for us and it just took a little while to go thru.  The officials looked at our papers and when they saw Fulbright on it they just opened one or two things and looked in.  It was so easy.  Then we all got in chartered buses and rode 45 min. from Yokohama to the hotel here in Tokyo.  Fulbright bought our lunch for us that day and has paid for our rooms but we have had to pay for our food.

We have had meetings every morning and then afternoons were free so we have seen a lot of new things but it has been so cloudy and rainy that we haven't taken many pictures.  The department stores are as nice or nicer than those in St. Louis and they have everything imaginable.  The Imperial Hotel is quite a place and we pass the Emperor's palace every time we go downtown but all you can see is the moat, walls and guard houses.  The city is jammed with houses, people and wheeled vehicles.  Almost every inch of space has a house, vegetable garden or shop on it.  There are lots of flowers too.  The people work so terribly hard all of the time--both women and men.  Most of them wear clothes like any mid-westerner but you see some kimonos.  Children follow us and watch Bob and Ann but they don't seem to notice it.  Many of them speak to us and everyone seems to notice Ann.  The clerks in the stores talk to her and pat her and you know how snooty Ann can act at times.  But she is gradually warming up and maybe she'll start talking to them.  Many of them speak English and there is always someone in the stores that can talk to us in English.

Fulbright provided babysitters for us so we could both go to classes but Ann refused to let me go.  The sitters are college girls and ours was really awfully nice.  We took her to the zoo with us one day.  Fulbright also gave a sukiyaki party for us here in the hotel dining room.  By special arrangement they got waitresses from the Diet building and they all were dressed in kimono.

I want to tell you a little about this hotel.  It is a big building--5 floors and we (100 Americans) occupy two floors.  It is a youth hostel too and there are always dozens of young people coming in and going out.  The U.S. Army occupied it until a few months ago and it isn't made over entirely as a hotel yet.  We have been comfortable, though.  Some of the floors are covered with carpet and others with straw mats.  They don't use vacuum sweepers so the dust is ground in & just flies when the maid sweeps the floor.  It is amazing how clean it looks when they get thru.  They use wet paper scraps to sweep with too.  The rooms are huge and have twin beds--4 of them in our room.  The pillows are about the size of a baby pillow and stuffed with rice chaff.  They are as hard as rocks but pretty--bright printed rayon satin.  The pillow cases are not sewed at either end but just slip on.

It is late and we're all packed up ready to leave early in the morning for Nishinomiya so I'll say good night and start from here next time.

I hope you are both feeling fine and fit.  Did the doctor ever start the cortisone treatments?  Take good care of yourselves."

                       Loads of love to you both,


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