Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meanwhile, back at HQ...

Today we return to Maj. Gillham briefly, as he writes a letter from his office using pale green paper.  In this letter he recounts a trip to a local park and tells Frances of the new stay-healthy campaign that he has started for himself.  He also confirms his final release day, which now gives both parties a specific date to look forward to.

20 Jan 46

Dearest Love,

How do you like my pretty green paper?  I am at the office and this is what we use for file copies.  I was on duty today.  It is now 1830 and I have to stay here until 2100.  The rest of the force was off today.  Col. Buchanan had to come do some work here this afternoon, so he let me get away for a few hours.

I went out to the zoo and museum at Ueno Park.  It was a very nice zoo and they still have a good many animals left, but they are mostly herbiverous.  There were some fine giraffes, kangaroos, monkeys, etc., and quite a collection of fowl.  Two things that surprised me as zoo items were Holstein cows and ordinary pigs.  I went to a natural history and science museum.  They has some very good exhibits, but it had run down somewhat.  There were some stuffed long-tailed roosters whose tails were about 12 ft. long.  I wanted to go to the Imperial Household Museum there, but it is closed until March.  It is the finest in Japan.

I had a rather novel experience the other day.  I ate breakfast with a Russian officer who could not speak English, and as my Russian is a little rusty we conversed in Japanese.  He was good in Japanese, but he used a low or impolite form and had a gutteral accent.  I used the rather stilted, very polite forms that we learned at Chicago and had a southern U.S. accent, but in spite of it all we made ourselves understood.

You remember the sample translations I sent you recently?  Well, I have been working on a real tough one.  It is a paper on British economics by a Russian author translated into English by a Japanese editor.

Recently I began to notice that I was becoming more and more nervous.  The pressure and working conditions of my job are nerve-wracking in themselves.  They pour coffee at us all the time and I had been drinking a good deal of it.  Also, I was smoking more and more, and taking a nip or bottle of beer each evening.  I decided it was all doing me no good, so several days ago I cut out tobacco, alcohol and coffee all at once.  Until then I didn't realize how insidiously they had crept in on me.  I went around quaking like an aspen for a couple of days, but now I am beginning to feel much better and calmer.  I will probably go back to all three, but in moderation.  I think I learned a good lesson -- and in time.

I just got a December Reader's Digest.  Did you read the article in there about the emotional cycle, "Why we all have 'ups and downs'"?  I have been vaguely conscious of it for some time and believe it accounts for a good bit.

I would like to see Martha on her birthday.  I'll be she is cute.  I sent her a little present which should arrive on time.  You may have take it up a bit, but then you can let it out as she grows.

There was an interesting article about house planning in a current (here) Life.  It has some good points.  How does the housing situation look in that vicinity?

My release date from the Army looks like 15 May.  That may mean I start leaving here at that time.  Whenever it is it will be wonderful to have you in my arms again.




Ueno Park, located about three miles northeast of the Dai Ichi building and the Imperial Palace, is a very popular park in Tokyo and is still the location of the zoo and the natural science museum. 

Ueno Park, Tokyo, in the spring of 2004,
with cherry trees in blossom.

The Ueno Zoo is the oldest in Japan, founded in 1882 during the Meiji Empire.  Astoundingly, the zoo was used for propaganda purposes in March 1945 (less than a year before this letter) when captured U.S. Army Air Force pilot Ray Halloran was placed naked in an empty tiger cage and displayed to the Japanese public.  There were no tigers in the zoo because the government had ordered all wild and dangerous animals killed, for fear that a bomb might destroy their enclosures and send the ferocious animals into the streets of the city.  This would corroborate Maj. Gillham's description of the zoo as having primarily herbivorous animals at that point.

The National Museum of Nature and Science was also built during the Meiji era of westernization, and the original 1871 building still stands today.

The National Museum of Nature and Science, in 2007

Also in Ueno Park is the Tokyo National Museum, which Maj. Gillham refers to as the Imperial Household Museum.  It was founded in 1872 and was also another modernization project of the Meiji emperor.  In 1882 the museum was moved into an old temple, where it remains today.  The museum seems to be the Japanese equivalent of the Smithsonian Institute, in terms of the width and breadth of its exhibits.