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Hello ssss 2007/7/28 23:05
So the street cars lasted thru 1970... I always wondered about this. The railway grid in the middle of the street took up a lot of space and there was no way they could give ground in a tight traffic squeeze.
Odds of surviving while driving an American car were greatly improved by having a passenger call out when it was safe to pass. We had a series of giant cars that needed a passenger to get around in, including the Packard (RIP), a '52 Buick, 54 Chevy, an English Ford Consul from the states (RHD) and a 57 Bonneville 2dr hardtop that was uncharacteritic of my dad's usual tastes. Turns out the Bonneville was "loaned" to us for a 6 month period while the owner attended to some stateside business. It was a cool car.
The recent earthquake brought back memories of the street cars on Avenue D. I observed a car slowly changing course on the crossing track near our front door, just as a cat. 5 roller went through Yokohama. Part of the street gave way and the street car foundered, off the track and on to the street in a big shower of sparks and horn tooting. The marooned street car didn't stay stuck for very long as a big Izu wrecker truck came along and with a couple of lifts, had it back on track.
by Eric rate this post as useful

Japanese Veterans / earthquakes 2007/7/29 00:28
Eric, have been thinking about your observations and experiences with the Japanese veterans [ see post pg 16] I am not an expert on this but I wonder if after the war, the returning vets were looked down upon as in some convaluted way it might have been thought they lost the war as there fighting spirit was not strong enough . Or that simply it was there karma to be injured and ther was nothing special to be done for them as in fact they had lived while others had done there "full" duty. It might be that at the end of the war the veterans really didn't want goverment support as they had been let down, in believing all along that Japan was winning.So they felt betrayed ? As you have seen the country was in ruin with little to go around. I wonder if the goverment would have liked to help out the vets but they were simply broke? This is a topic for a book. Otherwise on earthquakes. Had two pretty big ones when i was there in 67-69. One was vivid. My wife and I had gone out to buy some flowers on Ave D after dinner. There was a "flower Lady" on Honmuku Dori and It was about a 20 minute stroll. On the way back we had just gone over the top of the hill and were about 100 yards from our little apartment when all of a sudden I felt a little dizzy she did too. As we were right next to a school the windows srarted shaking and the telephone poles started swaying. At that point we realized that it was an earthquake but had never experienced one having come from New england. Looked up back over the hill and it was shaking just like a bowl of Jell-o. we were not scared as we were too dumb to realize that this could be bad it was interesting. the japanese however started yelling ans screaming and rushed out of there houses. it was all over in abour two minutes and we went home and watched re-plays of it on the news. A basketball game in Tokyo with the lights swinging wildly. Realize it now but the bottom floor of an apartment building is probably not a good place to be as I know now these places have a tendency to pancake in an earthquake. A women that we met who owned a restaurant "Bettys Kitchen" in Chinatown arrived in yokohama from germany on the day of the great Kanagawa earthquake of 1923. That was devistating.
by peter saunders rate this post as useful

Yokohama earthquakes 2007/7/30 22:38
There were two memorial quakes during my era of living in Yokohama, circa 1953-54. We were told for most earthquakes we were to stand in the doorway to our house, which was suppose to be the most secure place. If the ground began to jump up and down and then go sideways, we were to head for the nearby bamboo thicket where the roots held the ground together. Our biggest fear was the 50 ft terrace wall adjacent to our house would collapse on top of us. Our house was on a lower terrace. Many of my mom's keepsakes were broken as they fell on the floor and our books shelves were emptied of their contents. My dog, Bootsie would whine and head for the outside with us right behind.
by Bill N. rate this post as useful

Yokohama History from Jim Hyatt 2007/7/30 23:07
Jim Hyatt, retired Yohidevils.net webmaster and a high school student in Yokohama 1947/48, shared this information with me.
''The 'Stadium' in Yokohama in the 40's and early 50's was Lou Gehrig Stadium -- located on 'G' Ave [next to the canal] between 2nd and 3rd St. Located in the same 'block' [huge] and just west of the stadium was an 'open air theater', a chapel [Central, where our commencement from Yohi was held], several clubs and a 'headquarters'. I played football for Yohi [against 'military' teams] about 6 times in that Stadium, with many 'practices held there, as well as some softball games in 1947 .............. At some point in time those facilities were torn down and the 'Stadium' that is there today, built. I think the new stadium has been built twice and at the moment I forget the name of the new Stadium -- but it's picture is on the 'net' and the website. The photos of the Lou Gehrig Stadium, Open Air Thea, Chapel and Clubs are on the website.

The REAL Navy Exchange was at Yokosuka -- and a fine one it was. I went there several times in 1947/48. Some of the military units in the Yokohama area had mini PX's in there cantonment areas, but there were 2 primary PX's in Yokohama in the 1940's and 1950's -- the 'Main' PX which was located 'downtown' on 5th Street -- across the street from the Service Club and near the 155th Sta Hospital and Fryar Gym and Octagon Thea.............. I used all those facilities. The second PX was located in the 'Beach' area at the intersection of 'D' and 'A' Ave, below the hill and between Area 1 and Area 2. It was located in a complex that included the Bill Chickering Thea, a Bowling Alley, Auto Repair Shop and other 'concessions'. During non-school hours I was an 'Ass't Mgr' at the Bowling Alley. Photos of all those facilities are on the website. Jim Hyatt''

by Bill N. rate this post as useful

navy exchange ect 2007/7/31 01:07
shopped at the navy exchange in yokohama bext to bill chickering. Had everything one could want, cameras, tape recorders clothes. I recall that next to the theater and one bldg over there was a pack and ship service. For a small price they would take your things and professionally pack them and ship them according to what you wanted. While it was a little expence, it saved a huge ammounts of time and trouble at christmas time and for birthbays. I had a friend visit on R&R and he couldn't believe the prices and service. We had a day of sightseeing planned and he spent it the whole time shutteling between the navy exchange and the pack and ship. He must have spent a thousand dollars. We used MPC military payment certificates that we called funny money. One morning early I got a call at my small apartment. They told me to bring in all of the MPC I had as they were going to change out the money ! I had never heard of such a thing. Got to my station at Center Pier and there was one guy who was very anxious and it showed, He was sweating and making hushed but anxious phone calls. At about 11 am A finance officer came in and changed out the money. I had about 15 bucks. Don't know what type of money scam he was involved in but it was a wake up call for me. Nothing seemingly happned to him as a result I guess, some things you don't ask about. Remember that you could exchange MPC to yen but not yen to MPC. Always wondered why that was. That was in 67-69 when the exchange rate was 360 yen to the dollar. How things have changed. I went on to the Current Negishi Community site and found what they charge for some of the sightseeing tours now. Like 89 dollars for a trip to Nikko. Our trip there was in one of the fue base tours that we took as we perferred to be on our oun. Cost about five dollars for the both of us. Wished we had taken a fue more tours from them as they were well planned out and no hassles with getting around.
by peter saundes rate this post as useful

MPC, funny money 2007/7/31 01:41
I remember the Military Payment Certificate being changed at least once during my time in Yokohama (1953-54). Apparently, the funny money was easy to copy and someone clearly made an effort at it. I don't remember exactly all the changes, but primarily the money we got in exchange was colored differently by denomination.
by Bill N. rate this post as useful

Re: Personal Vehicles 2007/7/31 01:45
We brought our 1948 Fleetline Chevy to Japan in 1953 and sold it to a Japanese taxi cab company when we left Japan in 1954 or so my father tells me.
by Bill N. rate this post as useful

Funny money 2007/7/31 01:56
We went thought four or five money change over experiences in Yokohama during our years there. We went from green MPC to blue MPC to orange, etc.
Our next door neighbor at 108 Sannotani was a sea captain from Guam named Puertosac. His wife was Japanese and his children went to YOHI/Beach with me. Typically, we had two days to get all our cash to the bank for the exchange for new bills. The day after the announcement, mysterious guys with suitcases would drop by the neighbor's place...
I noticed Bill mentioned Fryar Gym; I went to basketball and volleyball games a dozen times at this place. I wondered what the history of the place was. Anyone know?
by Eric rate this post as useful

Japanese taxi cabs 2007/7/31 02:15
Bill, we must have taken a thousand cabs while in japan as we didn't have a car. Didn't really want one as I was pretty nervous of driving on the left.Also didn't want to be stuck with the expence and having to sell it before returning[was a PFC and didn't know if I could ship one back at the end of my tour. Cabs were so cheap too! remember that the toyota corolas sp? had an automatic door opener that would pop open at curbside. Remember an early cab ride and while I knew where I was going I couldn't convey it to the driver so I am franticly fliping through my dictionary to find the right words for left right and straight. after that it got much better. Also a little cab trick. If the cab is off duty and you are say late to catch a train as we were once [ reservations on the bullett train to Kyoto] you would hold up five fingers that would signal 500 yen. that would get the driver back on duty and you to your destination. Don't remember the tipping process. Taxi drivers were insane and reckless but dispite the "wild mouse ride" we always got to where we were going and never had an accident. Retrospectively they were pretty good drivers. Then there was the deliverys of new japanese cars to the pier for loading. The police would close down the road and a line of about a hundred brand new cars would come srcreaming aruond the corners and off to the pier for loading. They employed lots of young japanese men that seemed to have a death wish driving these cars with probably no miles on them. What a chance they took, what a game for them.
by peter saunders rate this post as useful

mysterious guys? Eric 2007/7/31 02:35
I was fascenated by your account of these mysterious guys with suitcases the day after the money exchange. Are we thinking that they were delivering old or new bills? If so why to a persons home and not to a secure office? Have any hunches. Were they in uniform? Would two suitcases hold all of the bills from yokohama? Now I understand a little more about MPC's they could be counterfeted. So why not use regular greenbacks? Why go to the trouble to print separate money like MPC's ? Was it that they didn't want to impare the local currency in some way? Sorry no info on the Fryar Gym .
by peter s rate this post as useful

More on MPC 2007/7/31 03:28
You can read on the wikipedia web site about what someone has written about military payment certificates from WW II to Vietnam at this link
by Bill N. rate this post as useful

mpc 2007/7/31 04:15
thanks bill. the link gave me some insight as to the use and misuse of mpc's. I recall that we used regular coins and that MPC's were only for dollar ammounts. Always carried my conversion card with me as a reference as to how much i was spending. Using yen didn't seem real at first. Remember a one yen coin. stamped in tin and had no value, in that is there was nothing in Japan that you could buy for one yen, simmilar to the penny now . Went to Motomachi towards the end of my stay and was in an antique shop. There was a statue of the goddess Kwannon that was made of bronze, about 6 feet high and just beautiful, i remember that it was one million yen that seemed a fair price but way beyond my means at the time it converted out to about $
2800 that statue today would go for a bundle, Oh well.
by peter s rate this post as useful

Yokohama BX info 2007/7/31 10:55
The Yokohama BX was two stories circa 1969-70. My dad bought my first watch there in the jewelry section, a Seiko automatic with 21 jewels, $17. Upstairs I remember the comics and toys were there, IIRC there was an elevator and the money exchange window was nearby.

Never saw or used MPCs that I remember, always cash dollars or yen.

by ssss rate this post as useful

MPC trade in days 2007/7/31 22:56
From what my dad told me, (he passed away in 1966) in a years time, a lot of MPC would make its way into the hands of Japanese, South and North Koreans. There was an underground economy driven by MPC currency that was funneled to GIs to buy food and luxury goods from the PX and commissary. These were attractive goods that could be resold for a large profit. Since the PX/commissary system operated on a low margin, the DOD tried to stop this resale business through various means, inccluding the surprise money calls.
I don't think the money coming in next door in suitcases was fake. It was the real thing that the owners didn't want to see become worthless.
by Eric rate this post as useful

PX trade 2007/8/1 01:54
also I remember that the exchange had a liquor store in seaside or area 1, not sure, the big thing then was Jonny walker Red or Black. Sold at the Exchange for something like $ 1.80. On the Japanese market eas something like $ 85.00. I would expect a huge underground trade in these goods. I bought a bottle a week for a couple of months to give a a gift to the Japanese men who lived next to us in our little apartment. Had a case of Jonny walker and got a empty cardbpard case to put it in. At our goodbye party I gave it to them. They were really blown away. I realized that I had made a huge mistake and should have known better. This was a gift that they couldn't reciporacate sp? We worked it out in good humor and all saved face. After three and a half years there why didn't I realize what i was doing. A bottle each would have been sufficient. They had been so good to us took us camping on a beautiful island in Matsushima with orchids and fishing I thought that I needed to repay them. Stupid gigene sp?
by peter saunders rate this post as useful

Re: Black mkt for goods 2007/8/1 03:35
I worked as a civilian in Saigon in 1966. There was an Army E-8 who ran an NCO club somewhere in the area. One night, he was visiting in my apt, playing cards with my roommate and probably had too much to drink. He told us he was planning to stay in Vietnam until he was eligible to retire (a couple more years) and he would return to US a millionaire because of what of the money he made on the black mkt. Hmmm. Does that mean he was trading the supplies for the NCO club on the black mkt? As I said, perhaps he had too much to drink. I've often wondered what happened to him. No, I do not remember his name.
by Bill N. rate this post as useful

black market 2007/8/1 08:28
There is a book in that too! Shades of SGT BIlko. I,m glad I was too stupid or straight to see any of this . I do recall that one of the men in our food inspection unit came to me one afternoon and asked if I would like to attent a little "reception in our honor" given by the japanese vendors that sold vegetables to the army. As I looked accross the parking lot one of them gave me a nice smile a little sheepish like and I couldn't make out the meaning. I told him I couldn't attend as I had plans, which I did. The whole thing went right over my head untill I realized that this was prehaps more than a simple reception.
As a result I kept an eye out for any inspection hanky panky but did not see any. If there was I am pretty sure that it wouldn't have made any difference as there was much oversight. I have come to wonder, what with Japanese business gift giving practices as opposed to out and out graft, what the nature of this party really was. mabye it was semi-harmless.
I wish that we had had some training on this as I for one was clueless. Did remember that I innocently sent a letter home and used a official envelope and they called me on it. I was a PFC and used a one cent envelope! Didn't know. Didn't do it again. Compared to the waste in the military seems a little inconsiquiential. Seemed a little odd ,one envelope ,as they owned me body mind and soul. I wonder what ever happened to all of that NAZI gold, Yes there is a book on that one , will have to read it sometime. Guys.. thanks for all of this.. i'm having a great time ..Wally are you still with us?
by peter saunders rate this post as useful

Black Market 2007/8/5 05:07
I'm still here, I was just contemplating what to say about corruption in the government. I don't think there was as much going on as what the rumors lead you to believe. I used to give gifts from the PX to my Japanese friends, such as Johhny Walker Black and Napoleon brandy, but I know for a fact that they used it for their own consumption. I never heard of the black market when I was in Japan. However, Vietnam was a different story. The mess hall sergeant on my base had been in Vietnam for six years and I don't think he was there for his health. I heard one of the tricks was to drop a crate of frozen steaks off of a forklift, write them off as damaged goods and then sell the steaks on the black market. I don't know how true that was, but that was the rumor going around, and we never got steak in the mess hall. When I was a contracting officer in Okinawa, Japanese contractors used to show up at the office with big presents on New Year's, but we were not allowed to accept them. The contractors also knew we were not allowed to accept them, and if the truth was known the presents were probably empty boxes. It was just a big show.
by Wally Cox rate this post as useful

wally 2007/8/6 00:54
When you went back in 1980 did you go back to your old apt bldg? and kishini barrracks? Sounded like you had a veried carreer. Contracting officer in okinawa? I wish that I had spent more time in Japan learning about the experiences of the Japanese during the war.[ww2]People didn't seem to want to talk much about it as I can understand. The secretary at our little inspection station did tell me that in 1945 she was a girl about 8 years old I would guess. When the occupation was about to start, the familys sent the children and women to the "mountains" to flee the "invading" US Forces. They were told that there would be a lot of killing and raping, but she did spend some weeks away from Yokohama until the suituation became clear. She was not at all bitter about this. But a little cynical in a humorious way, as all goverments lie to there people. Another man that i was introduced to was trained to be a Kamikazi pilot. He was not that old and would have had to have been very young then. I wished that I would have been able to talk to him about it but there was not the oppertunity as he was driving a truck for a milk plant and I never saw him again. By my time there 67-69. All of the old veterians that would stand on street corners playing music for tips were gone. I saw a picture in a book once of a veteran playing an accordian and his fake leg somewhat looked to be made out of sheet metal. The other thing that I wonder about is unexploded bombs in yokohama. I wonder if all have been recovered or are there still some buried?
by peter saunders rate this post as useful

Corruption/black market 2007/8/6 02:41
The Black Market I mentioned was diven mostly by prostitution. The DOD observed a lot of MPC moving from Japanes red light districts into other criminal enterprises. The Yakuza was little different than the American Mafia, preying on the weakest and volunerable, and there were plenty of those in 1950s Japan.
by Eric rate this post as useful

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