A SHORT STORY: "LET'S GO TO CHINATOWN FOR A FEW DRINKS", a photo by roberthuffstutter on Flickr.
I served with many WWII vets while in the Navy in the 60s. At the time, none of my contemporaries or I expressed much awe or really gave it much thought, we simply enjoyed a few beers together at the EM Club or Non-Com Club and joked about what was happening in Yokohama’s Chinatown.
One of my good friends, Russ, a First Class Aviation Electrician's Mate and I frequently went to Yokohama on the weekends.
We started out drinking at bars near the U.S. Housing area in hopes of meeting some of the girls from the USA who would wonder in looking for dancing partners. So, there we were, me a 19 year-old guy having the time of my life drinking and out chasing women with a WWII vet who had served aboard one of the carriers in the South Pacific. That was in the autumn of 1961. He was only 37, still a young man.
Russ was born in 1924 and if he is still living, he would be around 89. Time flys.
I will never forget the night when Russ and I were in a certain little club in Chinatown and met two young ladies who looked like Mitzi Gaynor and her twin sister.
We asked them what state they were from. They looked at each other and began laughing. Russ told me to get ready for the surprise of my life.
I asked him if they were Admiral’s daughters or something. They were drop-dead gorgeous and looked like they wanted to party. I was hardly able to maintain my self-control.
They said something to Russ in Japanese. He nodded his understanding. I hadn’t realized Russ could speak Japanese and I asked him to tell them to speak English. He laughed.
“Neither of them speak English,” he told me. “They are Japanese,” he said. “Well, sort of,” he added. “Anyway, they are way too young for us,” he said. “They are only 16,” he told me.
They sure didn't look like Japanese girls, they looked like they were American girls, maybe cheerleaders. Not that it mattered, but it was most unusual for a sailor to meet American girls overseas.
Nevertheless, we bought them drinks. Russ told me they were products of the Occupation, their dads were American soldiers and never returned for them–or their mothers. I nodded. It was then that I understood why they spoke very little English.
As the evening wore on, I found that language was no barrier to what turned out to be an extraordinarily delightful night.
When I next saw Russ on Monday morning in the hanger, we smiled . Neither of us asked how our weekends ended, but I think we knew. It wasn't our last trip to a certain little bar in Yokohama's Chinatown.