I was a corporal, working in the basement laundry room at Lowry Field, Denver, on Aug. 14, 1945, when we got the word that World War II had
My buddy and I managed to get off the base before the gate was closed. We caught the trolley to 16th Street in Denver where the celebration was well under way.
Thousands of people were there and the unspoken scenario was to kiss every girl on the street.
Later, on a second visit to Japan in the ’80s, one of our Asia travel stops was in Hiroshima, where the United States military had dropped the first of two atomic bombs.
I took a trip to the place where the bomb had been delivered, but I was apprehensive that we were in a location where thousands of Japanese residents had been killed by the bomb and many thousands of Americans had died during the war that began with the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and killed 41,592 Americans and wounded 145,706 in the Pacific theater, alone.
The young woman guide explained in English, that the area had been named Peace Park, devoted to a theme that Japan would never start another war. The first museum room we visited had blowups of black-and-white photos showing Japanese residents who had been badly burned in the atomic blast.
That trip was our second visit to Japan.
On our first trip to Japan in July 1977, we arrived by plane in Tokyo at the end of a sore-body, mind-numbing 14-hour flight, nine hours after we spent an hour-and-a-half refueling
Freddie was our guide.
Margie wrote about our meal at a Mongolian restaurant, “which was situated in an area of beautiful Japanese gardens. While waiting for a table, we took a short hike round the grounds of waterfalls, fish ponds and bonsai-shaped trees.
“Eating was a pleasure. Six were seated at a table with a cooking grill in the middle. Barbecued by an attractive waitress were bite-sized pieces of chicken, pork, beef and various vegetables, all dipped in a Genghis-Khan sauce. After we had enough trouble with the chopsticks, they brought us knives and forks.”
Best meal I ever had.
We took our first ride on a Japanese bullet train to the Lake Hakone tourist center, which was supposed to offer a view of Mount Fuji, a volcano that hadn’t blown its top since 1707.
“It was from the top of Mt. Komagatake that we were to see Mt. Fuji, but with the immense cloudiness, when we reached the top of the mountain, we couldn’t see anything at all,” Margie wrote.
I was very impressed when the bullet train arrived for the trip back. There was a big clock that precisely hit six o’clock when the train came to a halt, right on the second.
The train trip back provided us with a ride at 110 miles per hour. I tried to get a still picture that would show that we were traveling fast, to no avail. That was long ago. When can we provide bullet trains
in the U.S.?
On the bus trip back to our hotel, “we got to see some of the hurried pace of a brightly lit metropolis,” Margie wrote.
Today, Tokyo has grown to an anxiously-crowded population of 13.2 million.