Thursday, February 25, 2010

A few days off for Christmas, to straighten up the room and explore Japan

Christmas is coming and Maj. Gillham is finally getting some time off after working for nearly 20 days straight.  Now he is finally going to have some time to clean up his hotel room, which has suffered from neglect.  It reminds me of my college days when I was working on an important paper:  all my energy was devoted to producing the paper, and after I handed it in, I would then survey the catastrophe that had become my dorm room.

22 Dec 45

My Own Sweet Darling,

The letter that I received from you yesterday is the nicest you ever wrote, I do believe.  It contained beautiful thoughts and they were so well expressed.  It certainly does me a lot of good to know that someone as sweet as you loves me.  You can just imagine how much I miss you over here where the whole world is strange and new and wonderful.  I long to consult with you on each strange new thing I see; I try to write you about them, but it is not the same.  I find that I am happiest when I am packing a gadget or taking a picture to send to you.  It seems that then I am a little closer to you, since at least the article will reach you.  I think you should try your hand at writing.  You did all right in that last letter.

I am off today for the first time in three weeks.  I will only work 1/2 day during the next four, so I should get rested up.  I already feel fine.  I slept late, got up an took a Japanese bath, and ate breakfast in my room  It consisted of Nescafe, crackers, and "Bruce's Juices." My room is a mess.  I have too much junk and get more all the time.  I have brass, papers, books, food, shoes, clothes, duffle bags, etc. scattered everywhere.  The room boy does his best, but it is too much for him.

So, this morning I have been trying to classify the stuff and find a place for it all.  I can't throw any of it away.  I even have a temple gong -- I must try to get that home.  It has a wonderful tone and is about 1-1/2 feet in diameter.  I have the box of brass I am sending you all ready to ship today.  That will help some.

Last night I opened my 1-lb. can of Edgeworth Junior tobacco that I bought in Charlottesville over a year and a half ago.  It was in fine condition and quite an improvement on the dried out stuff we get here.

I was able to buy a nice pair of low quartered shoes at the quartermasters for $3.60.

Joe Atwood just called up.  He is coming over and have lunch with me.  He is just passing through Tokyo.  Says he is going to move to Osaka soon.

Do you remember Grant from Camp Callan?  He has just moved in down the hall, on the same floor.

I have been reading about the cold wave in the states and worrying about you all.  I hope you don't get cold or have any trouble.  The price for fixing the car sounds very reasonable.  I thought it would be much more.

Christmas I plan to cultivate the cultural side a little.  I will go hear Kagawa, the famous Japanese Christian, in the morning;  and hear a choir from the Imperial University give Handel's Messiah in the evening.

Tomorrow night I am going to the play "Kiss and Tell."

I met a newly arrived "civilian expert" from Washington the other day named Harry Wright.  Six months ago, he was a sergeant in Europe.  Now he has a $10,000 job here.  He is 31 years old.  He is from Memphis -- used to have a boat on the Mississippi.  In fact, he once went to Helena on a raft made of oil drums.  He has done a lot of jug fishing.  You can imagine that we hit it off pretty good.  We are planning to get a car Sunday and do a little exploring.

The neighbors at Robles were mighty nice to you before you left.  We have some good friends there.

I love you,



The famous Japanese Christian Kagawa that Maj. Gillham refers to in this letter is in fact Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960), who was also well known as a pacifist and labor activist.  He fell into disfavor with the Japanese government in 1920 and was arrested as a labor agitator.  After the WWII, he was part of the Japanese goverment that offered to surrender to the Allies.  He wrote over 150 books, many of which were composed during his long prison sentence in the 1920s.  He is one of the few people to be nominated for the Nobel Prizes for both Literature and Peace, although he never won either.  As you will find out later in these letters, Maj. Gillham was not able to see Kagawa in person, as he cancelled his lecture.

Edgeworth Junior Ready-Rubbed tobacco was a product of the Larus & Brother company in Richmond, Virginia, and the brand still exists today.  Here is a photo of an old tin, most likely exactly or very similar to the one-pound tin mentioned in today's letter.