November 27, 1945. Jae Damusis writes a letter to Dad from Tokyo. Damusis is a fellow who Dad befriended early in his army career. Joe is writing shortly after his arrival. This is the only letter in the collection written from post-war 1945 Japan. I find it interesting in that it provides a contemporaneous impression of how the city appeared to a U.S. serviceman, even to the point about how he felt seeing fellow G.I.’s fraternizing with the local Japanese girls. Given the nature of the letter, I am transcribing the entire correspondence here complete with the now politically incorrect references of the time. As you read this, keep in mind that Damusis is originally from Brooklyn.
“HANEDA AIRDROME, TOKYO, JAPAN …………27 NOVEMBER 1945
This time, Tony, Greetings from Japan!
Boy, it sure feels good to be back in civilization. Of course, it’s not like Times Square or Brooklyn, but it’ll do. It didn’t take us long to pack up the Squadron down at Biak when we heard we were headed for Tokyo.
We left Biak Island (forever, I hope) November 8th, and arrived in Tokyo Bay on the 19th of November. We unloaded at Yokohama. Came up from Biak on LST’s, Not bad ships to travel on – no kiddin’. The food was perfect. We had pie or cake every day – something we never saw at Biak. Some guys got seasick because these LST’s are flat-bottomed, and they roiled from side to side all the way up here.
The first thing we saw when we were approaching Tokyo and Yokohama was Mount Fujiyama. It sure looked majestic up there all by itself.
As you already know, Tokyo has elevated trains and subways plus plenty of modern buildings, and plenty of people on the streets. All this commotion made me feel at home right away.
Since we arrived, I’ve been to Tokyo twice. There’s quite a bit to see. Visited three Geisha houses but only to look around. The keep these places pretty clean, and they don’t smell like fish. A Geisha girl costs 100 yen.
The Maranouti Hotel is the only place in town where you can get a meal. They serve Japanese meals and sake also. Boy, it sure feels good to sit down with a tablecloth and plate in front of you, and then to have a Jap waitress come and take your order. Joe D’Amato (a buddy of mine from Brooklyn) was also with us, and he ran into an Italian counsellor who was here in Tokyo during the war, and they both had a pretty long talk in Italian.
Good souvenirs are tough to pick up around here. The ATC was one of the first to get here, and they cleaned the place. Kimonos sell anywhere from 800 to 2000 yen.
You can get 30 yen for a pack of cigarettes, but if you get caught selling them, you get 20 years. You get 20 years for just giving one cigarette away to a Jap. Most G.I.’s do their black-marketing at night.
The Japs are friendly as hell, but I can’t help feel that they’re laughing at us for treating them so well.
Yep, Tony, there’s plenty of G.I.’s walking down streets with Jap gals under their arms – lovin’ the hell out of them. Maybe I’m taking the wrong outlook, but I’m just wondering what the G.I.’s that were killed out here would say if they saw this goin’ on – or what would those G.I.’s that were prisoners of war on Japan say?
Drop a line again, Tony,