Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update on the brass "looting," and a health report

Today we hear about George Bull, who comes through Tokyo for a visit, and Maj. Gillham makes another visit at "his" junk pile with another major.

Maj. Gillham brings up the idea of having another baby, but, as we now know, that idea didn't get very far.

18 Dec 1945

My Dearest,

There is so much that I want to write you that I never get caught up.  I sent the kimono for your birthday off today by first class mail.  It should get there within a month it seems to me.  It is well wrapped and should go in good condition.  Getting the kimono was an interesting transaction that I must tell you about sometime.  These fellows that have a lot of spare time and official contacts with the Japanese have a chance to get a lot of things, but it is difficult for me because nothing is available in the open except at exhorbitant prices.  However, I will get my share of junk before I leave.  For instance, although I had to work Sunday, I slipped off for a while and got Maj. Marr, who used to be an instructor at Charlottesville, and we went out to my scrap metal pile again.  We spent a couple of interesting hours digging through great piles of junk.  I think I learned more about oriental culture there than at Chicago.  I have some interesting things which I will send you and the children before long.  I am still polishing on them now.  The pressure for metal got pretty hard here at the last and they collected some nice things.  Also they must have stripped some Chinese temples and sent the metal over here.  I know we are burdened with an oversupply of vases, but I liked these.  Also there are a pair of brass dogs for each of the children and other things.  You can give any of it away that you wish and if you want more, let me know what and I will send you a trunk full of it.

George Bull came in and spent he night Saturday night with me.  A place to stay in Tokyo is very difficult for visitors to find, but we solved it very nicely by just rolling out my bedding roll on the floor.  With the air mattress and sheets it is as good as one could ask for.

The enclosed "Christmas card" is very novel, don't you think?  It was Japanese occupation currency and is now worthless.  He probably got a bale of it.

You asked about my health.  It is as good as it has been in a long time.  No ulcers, no heartburn, no foot trouble and very little arthritis.  The latter is always with me, but doesn't disable me for any of my present duties.  I have noticed it most in a couple of spells of depression, but they didn't last long and I know about what to expect now.  The only trouble is that I am afraid that I am putting on a little weight.  The cooking here is superior and everything is easily digested.  They also make a lot of desserts like custard, etc.  The dining room service certainly beats any I got in the states during the past two or three years.  As you take the last mouthful from one course, a little Jap girl picks up the plate and puts down the next course and you never even have to miss a lick.

I have an abacus and am learnig to use it.  It is a right clever gadget.  It uses the same type of mental process that I always used in mathematics, for instance, to add 8 you add 10 and subtract 2.

I wonder where you are tonight.  Probably La Jolla, or somewhere in Arizona.  I am glad you got the car fixed.  We will probably have to keep it a couple more years, and if any major repairs are needed they should be done now so we will get the benefit of them.  I hope they did a good job.  I think that is a reliable place where you took it.

I am sorry you have to work out all these weighty financial problems alone.  I hope your allotment isn't delayed.  I sent you $50 for Christmas which should be in Atlanta by the time you get there.

I will try to send you some more Jan 1st to apply on Father's ticket if he came or to use otherwise if not.

How is Atlanta and how are all the folks?  What do they think of Martha?  You surely are having a fine family reunion.  With Dan in the running now, the clan really should increase.  Yes, I would like one more baby, if we can afford it.  Think it over.  It seems to be the most successful project that we ever undertake.

Tell Emily and Monty I appreciate their letters very much.  I know Monty is a good girl.  She told me so herself.  I am very proud of them both.

Tell Father there is a great demand for shoe polish here now that the troops are getting settled down and none is available at the PX yet.  They should be sold some.

Give my love to all and remember that I love you most of all.



The novelty Christmas card that Maj. Gillham mentions in this letter was an old 100 peso bill that had a Christmas greeting superimposed on the face by Capt. Samuel Wrightson, an army friend from California who was now also in Japan.  The peso currency was printed in the Philippines by the Japanese during their occupation of the country after MacArthur left in 1941.  When the U.S. recaptured Manila in 1944, the armed forces used this currency throughout the Pacific.  When the base of army operations in the Pacific moved from Manila to Tokyo in 1945, the Filipino-Japanese peso became worthless in Japan and the army began using the local Japanese currency. 

The entire text on the face of the bill reads "Captain Samuel H. Wrightson and The Japanese Government wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Wakayama Honshu Japan Christmas 1945."  Wakayama is a large steel-producing city and prefecture just south of Osaka, on the main island of Honshu.