Monday, April 1, 2013

Mystery Monday: Japanese Passport Mystery Solved

*To catch up on my Mystery Monday series about Nolan Lane and the Japanese passport, click HERE.

Early on Easter morning, I checked my email and found a message from Jun Miyagi, the grandson of Maka Kanehawa, owner of the Japanese passport I found in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.  Mr. Miyagi's email contained the following letter in which he tells his grandmother's tragic story.

 March 29, 2013

Dear Ms. Southworth,

Please forgive my delay in writing.
First of all, words cannot tell you my feelings of surprise and happiness at receiving your letter from far away America.
Kogi Kamehama and his wife, Makato Kamehama (the correct spelling their names) were my maternal grandparents.  They were married in Okinawa before the 2nd world war and lived in the small village of Ozato in the southeastern part of Okinawa. Their first child was my mother, Tomiko, who was born in Okinawa before the war.  Kogi was a farmer of sorts but life was very hard on Okinawa.  For that reason he joined many Okinawans who emigrated to South America in search of a better life. Leaving their daughter with their parents, Kogi and Makato went to South America.  They planned to call her there after they settled down.  However, when the war started they were worried about their daughter and family and went back to Okinawa to take care of them.  By the time the battle for Okinawa started, my mother was 21 years old and had become a school teacher.  I'm not sure of the date, but some time in May or June 1945 my mother's house was bombed.  Everything was completely destroyed and everyone in her family were killed.  By some miracle my mother, Tomiko, survived.

The whole southern part of Okinawa was completely destroyed.  So much so that it is said not even a blade of grass was left.  My mother was the sole survivor of the Kamehama clan.  Their bodies were all buried in the ruble of the war so we don't even have a grave to visit and pray for them.  And of course no photographs of them remain for us as a memorial.  So the passport your uncle found in the ruble is another miracle.  I'm sure he felt that way when he found it.  And I believe that somehow or other he kept it in hopes of some day giving it the owner's family.  The photograph your uncle found will be a precious link for us to our grandmother and our ancestors. Thank you for completing your Uncle's desire in keeping our grandmother's passport safe so it could eventually rest in peace in Okinawa.  You can't imagine how much this means to us.

By the way, my mother Tomiko Kamahama married my father, Gensuke Miyagi, a professor of Biology at the Ryukyu University.  My mother continued teaching grade school till her retirement.  I am the oldest of three children.  My name is Jun. Followed by another brother, Kaoru, and a sister, Hiroko.  My wife's name is Keiko. We have three wonderful daughters.

I am sorry to trouble you but would you be so kind as to send my grandmother's passport to the address below.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sincerely yours,

Jun Miyagi

My deepest sympathy as well as my sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Miyagi and his family.  And, if you're reading this, Mr. Miyagi, your grandmother's passport will be on its way home this week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Joyce Schooler Reedy!

Joyce Schooler Reedy
Middlesboro, Kentucky, c. 1985

 Happy, Happy Birthday to my sweet, beautiful cousin, Joyce Schooler Reedy.  Joyce is the daughter of Gladys Lane and Jim Schooler, the granddaughter of Martha Pierce and William Lane, the mother of Terry Keith Reedy, Pam Reedy, and Rolf Reedy, as well as a devoted wife and grandmother.  Joyce, I love you and hope you have a wonderful day!

Joyce Schooler Reedy

Joyce Schooler Reedy

Gladys Lane Schooler (left), Anne Schooler Derksen, Joyce Schooler Reedy
Joyce Schooler Reedy and Kermit Bronell Reedy

(left to right) Terry Keith Reedy, Joyce Schooler Reedy, Rolf Reedy, Pam Reedy, Kermit Bronell Reedy

Pamela Bronella Reedy and Joyce Schooler Reedy
Hannah Lane Keathley, Joyce Schooler Reedy, Austin Reedy Keathley

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mystery Monday: Some Answers About the Japanese Passport

Nolan A. Lane

Maka Kanehawa

I was delighted this morning to open my email and find another message from The Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum in Japan.  My delight turned quickly to a mix of sadness and happiness--and gratitude.  Here is what the museum staff discovered about Maka Kanehawa, owner of the Japanese passport I found in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.

  • Maka Kanehawa and her husband, Kogi Kanehawa, died in the Battle of Okinawa, in Nanjyo, Okinawa
  • Nanjyo city officials, at the request of The Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum, searched for and found the grandson of Maka and Kogi Kanehawa
  • The grandson's name is Jun Miyagi, and he lives in Nanjyo, Okinawa
  • Jun Miyagi wants to establish contact with me through email

After sending thank-you messages to those who helped me find this information, I settled down to write my first email to Maka's grandson.  I must admit that I struggled to find the right words for this email.  I first told Mr. Miyagi who I was, and I expressed my sympathy for the death of his grandparents and my sadness about the loss his family has suffered.  I then told him a bit about my Uncle Nolan and when and why he was in Okinawa.  I told him I didn't know how my uncle got his grandmother's passport, but I could only guess that he found it when cleaning up debris and remnants of the Battle of Okinawa.  I also told Mr. Miyagi that I want to return the passport to his family.  Finally, I asked Mr. Miyagi if he would care to share with me what he knew about his grandparents.  What was their life like before the war?  What happened to them during the Battle of Okinawa?

Now I'll wait and hope for a reply.  Mr. Miyagi told the staff at the museum that he is "not good at English."  After he receives my message, the museum tells me, "his friend will translate your email."

As I close this post, I continue to think about the events that forced the paths of Nolan Lane and Maka Kanehawa to cross.  I hope they would both be happy that almost 68 years later I'm crossing paths with Jun Miyagi.  This world is not as big nor its people as different as we sometimes think.

Photo from Nolan Lane's WWII Photo Album

To read more about this mystery, click here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: Joyce Schooler Reedy's Sock-It-To-Me Cake

Cooking Cousins
Joyce S. Reedy & Betty Jo Williamson
Middlesboro, KY, c. 1963

Today's recipe is another by my cousin, Joyce Schooler Reedy, daughter of Gladys Lane Schooler.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Sock-It-To-Me Cake

1 pkg. butter yellow cake mix
2/3 C. oil
1/4 C. water
4 eggs
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1 C. sugar
1 1/2 C. pecans

Mix together all the above ingredients.

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon.  Pour a small amount of the cake batter into a Bundt pan and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Repeat until all batter is used.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mystery Monday: Response from Japan about Passport!

For those who have been following this blog, you know that I'm trying to solve the mystery of the Japanese passport that was in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.  If you're visiting the blog for the first time, you can catch up on the details of the passport story here.

Inside the Passport of Maka Kanehawa
Passport was found inside the WWII photo album of Nolan Lane

Imagine my delight, though, when I checked my email last Friday and found the following response to the request for information I sent earlier to the Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum.  Awesome!  I so appreciate these kind folks taking time to help finish telling the story of Maka Kanehawa and hopefully getting her passport back in the hands of her family.  Maybe I'll have  more to report next week.

Friday, March 8, 2013 3:39 AM
平和祈念資料館 <> Add to Addresses Block Sender Add to Addresses
Re: Need Help Identifying & Returning 1931 Japanese Passport
2 KB
I am investigating the request from you now. 
Although I report a result to you, I need more time. 
Please wait. 
(I'm sorry. I am not good at English.) 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt
Made by Gladys Lane Schooler for niece Elizabeth Lane Lee
c. 1965

When I was very young, my Aunt Gladys made me a beautiful quilt.  Made of alternating pink and white squares and Sunbonnet Sues each in her own unique dress, the quilt was this little girl's dream.  It stayed on my bed, unless I took it with me when I curled up on the couch to read or watch TV.  I always liked to pick out my favorite Sunbonnet Sue.  Here are my favorites today :)