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Wednesdays With Myron - Japan (1953-1956), Part II

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During my time in Japan, I would go into the hangar and meet with all the Japanese guards. One of the bi-products of meeting them was that I had coffee. When the crews came back we had thermoses of hot coffee and lots of cream and milk and sugar. The guards didn’t like coffee particularly but they were out in the cold. So we offered them a hot drink and donuts and they were pleased. They would put so much sugar in the coffee; you could stand a fork in it. But I charged them. I wasn’t going to do this for nothing…you know, free enterprise and all that.

Rice Paddy in Japan

The fee was, they would teach me a Japanese phrase and correct my pronunciation. The unrealized bi-product was when I went outside the base and took a walk in the countryside. The rice patties had walkways between them. So I’m walking along one of these raised paths. And it’s raining. All the farmers are up to their knees in the water reaching down and planting seedlings. They have great straw hats that are so big that when they bend over, the hats covered their backs and the water ran off them. As I’m walking along, one of them stood up and took his hat off to wipe his brow and started yelling “Barney-san!” Well, in the service, I was called ‘Barney.’ As I turned around, all of the peasants stood up and in a chorus started shouting “Barney san.” These were the guards whom I was providing the coffee. This was their day job. 

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