Air Force

Page 4

 

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Yokota Air Force Base was five miles from Tachikawa and twenty five miles from Tokyo. Yokota was a base for heavy bombing aircraft. Fusa was a small city outside the main gate and there were several bars there. Several of my co-workers from Mather were transfered with me. My friend Oscar Randolph was one of them, as well as William Moore  and Renee Cals. There were also several members who had been shipped previously. This made it much easier for relocation. My first time revisiting Tachikawa since my return was to see the same conditions that I left four years earlier and it still had the same reputation as the "Sin City of Japan". It was as if I had never left. As far the airmen, it was a divided city for the Whites and Negroes. Neither one would dare to venture into the others territory for fear of being harmed.  Even after ten years of entergration, there were still blacks and whites who were extremely racial.

I had my share of trouble with the Blacks and none of my doing. As I said before, the mess halls were where most of the trouble started. I was going through the line at breakfast and one of them was serving bacon. He put a few scraps of bacon on my tray. There was a lot more in the pan. I asked him if I could have some more and he told me to take what I had and like it. I have never taken and bull from any one and I told him flately that if he opened his mouth any further, I would shove the scraps down his throat and see if he liked them. That was the end of that. I was sitting at table by myself at lunch, when three big Blacks came and sat down with me. There were plenty empty tables and I knew that they were looking for trouble. Its a funny thing that I have found out in life is that most Negroes will never fight one on one. It was always three to one. They looked at me and dared me to say anything. I gave them the same look and nothing happened. There were a lot of white guys just waiting for any sign of trouble. I had a lot of Blacks who were my friends and we used to run around together. There is always a small percentage of any race that will cause trouble.

I was put in charge of a night shift refueling crew. We  worked every other night all night long. By doing this, it gave me a lot of free time to go sight seeing that I would not have time otherwise. I bought a Minolta single lens reflex camera and I did a lot of photography work at the base hobby shop. One thing about the service, every base had wonderful hobby shops for anything one wanted to do. They also had great service clubs to entertain the troops.

There were always lots of sports in which for us to participate. We were always playing horse shoes, pool, baseball, and card cames, and whatever came along. When I was going to college at Sacramento, I learned to play golf and there were excellent golf clubs at several bases. We would get a foursome and drive to one of these courses and play eighteen holes.

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Practicing my putting

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Waiting for the players on the next hole to finish

 

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Preparing the horse shoe layout

Several of my fellow airmen owned automobiles and some Sunday mornings, four or five of us would pile in and car drive for half and hour or so to another base just for coffee and donuts. There were always something doing at the base service clubs. On a Sunday afternoon would be a pinochle tournment. Oscar and I would enter as a team and we were hard to beat. We won one championship and was not too far behind in several others. We were also a pretty good team at pool and horse shoes.

There were always a poker game going on in the barracks. I was an addicted gambler since I can remember. I never was good enough to be a consistent winner so I lost more than I won. I had one bad fault as a gambler; I hated to win someones's money and lots of time I would play long enough to let them win it back. Unfortunately for me, this was a one way deal for no one felt as I did. I always had money on me to do as I wish, but not to save any. After seven years in the service, I was only making a hundred dollars a month and we were still being paid once a month and  I had to stretch every dollar. Usually by the end of the month, I would be broke and counting the days to payday.

I had not been there too long, when a one of my friends and I took a train ride to the city of Kamakura, the home of the largest Buddha in the world. In the seventh century, there was a huge tidal wave that destroyed the building that housed it. This was a most sacred place for the world for the world's Buddhist religion. It was a four hours by train from Tachikawa. A train ride in Japan at any time was an experience that would be hard to forget. There was a huge amount of Japanese employees at the two Air Bases and the loading platform would always be full.  When a train pulled into the station, everyone on the platform who was waiting to aboard was pushed in. Sometimes it would take two conductors pushing the passengers aboard. The people in the cars would be like tuna in a can. There would be no room to raise a finger to scratch an itching nose. Most of these passengers would only commuting for a short distance and the cars would soon thin out and eventually one could sit down.

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We arrived at Kamakura in the late afternoon and got a room in a hotel. In Japan, it was a custom for one to bathe before going to bed. The Japanese people are extraordinarly clean people. I went looking for the bathroom when I opened the wrong door and entered the bathroom for women. They were several women in the bathing in the nude. There was no panic, just a lot of gigling for they are not bashful. One of the ladies directed me to the proper bathroom.  There was a well-like tub full of water. I jumped into it and was I surprised for it was extermely hot and I loked like a steamed lobster. I soaped myself and hurriedly got out. The hotel management was not too happy of what I had done. No one is supposed to use soap the  tubs. These tubs were used  strictly for people to relax in after bathing and it  had to be refilled.

The next day we went sightseeing and I was really hmbled to see the Diabutsu, meaning The Great Buddha. The reverence for the the founder of their religion was something to behold. We entered the grounds with the same reverence. After touring the entire place, we headed back for Tachikawa

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