Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maj. Gillham shows the youngsters a thing or two on the slopes

In today's letter Maj. Gillham tells of his sophomore effort on the slopes, where he is beginning to get the hang of things.  He again uses Red Cross stationery, which is most probably placed in the hotel rooms for the GIs.  There must be some sort of station in the area, since in subsequent letters he writes about the presence of "Red Cross girls."

Nikko, Japan
1 Feb 1946

Dearest Darling,

Today I went skiing again.  When we left this morning, it had started snowing.  It snowed constantly all day long -- about a foot in the mountains.  The fresh snow slowed the ski runs down so that they were not so hazardous and better control was possible.  I met an officer who had spent two years in the ski troops and he gave me some good pointers.  Also, my Japanese friend Isikawa was there and he helped me some.  I made several runs of about a mile with plenty of turns and dips, without falling down.  I am not an expert by any means, but I am rather proud of acquiring a new skill at my age.  I could keep up with everyone except the real experts, even those that had done a good deal of skiing in their childhood.  Six or seven of us were trying a rather difficult steep drop off, and nobody in the crowd could come out of it standing up.  I was the first one that was able to do it.  It rather surprised these youngsters.

Much of the snow today is sticking to the trees and I wasn't as tired and sore tonight, although I worked every bit as hard.  Isikawa-san came back with us and invited me to come to see him tonight.  He is an excellent photographer and he gave me several nice pictures of the country around here.  I will send them to you when I return to Tokyo.

We had a Japanese style dinner tonight -- sat on the floor, ate with chopsticks, and had geisha girls to entertain us.  It was very nice.

Tonight, walking down through the little Japanese village with everything covered with snow and the dim lights casting a weird glow over it all was an experience to be long remembered.

Tomorrow I will stay here and just putter around.  If it is clear I may be able to get some good pictures.  There is an ice-skating show tomorrow afternoon.

A vacation of this kind would cost plenty ordinarily.  I only wish that you were here to enjoy it with me.

Lots and lots of love,


P.S.  The enclosed charm from one of the temples is guaranteed to drive away evil spirits.


I am in possession of the charm he speaks about in the postscript.  It is a thin piece of pine wood, about 1" x 1/2", wrapped tightly in a small piece of paper.  There is red Japanese writing on the paper and charm, and on one side of the charm is printed a red figure seated in the lotus position.