Rememberies, part 3.

When I was about 3 or so our family moved to Japan. Being a military brat, I went where dad went. We were there about three years or so and me being so young, it didn’t make as much of am impression on me as it could of if I was older…

When we first moved there we lived off-base for a few months. I remember the house, a Japanese style house (not quite all paper and bamboo and shit), we had another military family living across the street from us. They had a BIG dog, I remember looking down it’s throat as it was snapping at my face. “Don’t blow into a strange dog’s nose” I learned that day. We had a dog, a smallish mongrel named Alfie. I don’t know whatever became of him, cuz we had a cat when we left Japan…

Later we got to live on-base, our house was part of a row of houses, but ours was on the outside of the row and we had a huge side yard to play in. I rode my trike out there and later learned to ride a bike. In the summer, if Dad was there we would setup a kiddie pool at the side of the house. There was also a small stunted tree that we would climb in, up against the side of the house. My second sister was born in Japan, in a military hospital.

We didn’t do much interaction with the “locals”. I don’t remember seeing to many Japanese people. When I started school, it was on the base with all the other “round-eyes”. I did kindergarten and first grade there… We did go to the Tokyo Zoo once. It was a huge place and we walked for hours, days it seemed.

Dad was attached to a squadron based in Japan but operating in Vietnam. He was usually in for six months then out for six months. One of those times he was in ‘Nam, the barracks he was living in, in Danang, was blowup with him (and a few others) in it. This might have been around the time of the Tet Offensive. He got a two-by-four in his chest and a Purple Heart. I remember Mom crying, inconsolable, back in Japan but it was many years later before I knew why. He was fixed up and sent home. When he came in the door, he had a big red stain on the front of his shirt and Mom freaked! Turns out it was just a red pen in his shirt pocket exploding…

Dad, always the gadget freak, bought a Super8 movie camera there and we had lots of film of us kids acting up, playing around. There was a trip to a picnic area we went to with a lot of other military families. Us kids are running around like wild beasts, the folks are smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Anytime Mom would be the target of the camera, she’d stick out her tongue. It was a running joke for many years after that. He also built up quite a collection of Hi-Fi equipment and I remember our first Color TV, a huge RCA with an almost round picture tube.

We went everywhere in the “Goat” when Pop was in town. Dad told me later that he used to “terrorize” the local Datsuns and Toyotas with the Goat. Seems like there where a lot of “tailgating” done back then. Pop would smash on the brakes, causing the back end of the car to jump about two feet in the air and pop the clutch and be gone. It takes longer to say it than it did in action. A 389 ci V-8, topped with three 2-barrel carbs beat the crap outta anything the Japanese were putting out at that time. We also had another car (i think it was a Corvair or a Karmon Ghia) that mom ferried us kids in. Right after we got that car, I found about a hundred little plastic toy cars between the cushions in the back seat. That was quite a boon for a little ankle-biter like myself.

I feel I should have picked up more “local flavor” being in Japan for more than three years but I really don’t remember anything specific. I don’t know any Japanese, but I do remember seeing Mount Fuji once. The US military folks had their little “enclave” and they all stuck together. I’m sure I had other kids as friends but the only one I can remember was Carl P., we saw him again several years later in Virginia. I really have no lasting friendships, people I’ve known all my life except for family. That really hit home when we moved to Tennessee and I was more aware of what was going on around me.

Next: The Goat “doesn’t quite” make it to Tennessee…