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 :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Gladys M. Lane Schooler

Gladys Mayona Lane Schooler
Gladys Mayona Lane was the second child of William and Martha Pierce Lane.  Born on April 2, 1906, Aunt Gladie lived a wonderful 92 years before she passed away on January 15, 1999.  She is buried beside her husband, James A. Schooler, and their son, William J. Schooler, in Hurst Cemetery in Middlesboro, Kentucky.  Join me for my next few posts to find out more about this dear lady.

Headstone of Gladys Lane Schooler
Hurst Cemetery, Middlesboro, Kentucky

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mystery Monday: New Leads But No Answers About the Japanese Passport

Be patient and don't give up.  I say this to myself on a regular basis these days as I continue to search for answers about Maka Kanehawa and her passport that was found in my uncle's WWII photo album.  While I still don't have answers about what happened to Maka or how to find her family, I have initiated a few new contacts, and I'm hopeful that I'll get some helpful responses.

So far, I've contacted the following organizations, telling my story and asking for assistance:

  1. History Detectives (PBS) on or around 2/18/13
  2. Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum on 2/25/13
  3. Thomas Corrao, Public Relations Officer for The Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai on 3/3/13
  4. Department Of Defense Public Communications Office on 3/4/13
I've gotten no response from my first three contacts.  I received a notice from the Department of Defense saying that they had gotten my email and would respond as soon as they could.

Next on my list to contact are these two organizations:

  1. Vincent High School's Army JROTC in Shelby County, Alabama--While studying WWII, these students were given a personally inscribed Japanese flag from the Battle of Okinawa.  They decided that the right thing to do was to return the flag to its original owner in Japan.  The last I read of their quest was that they had contacted the Japanese Consul and were hopeful of getting assistance there.  I want to contact the high school and see what the outcome of their project was and to see if they can give me some tips about how to proceed with my passport mystery.
  2. U. C. Santa Cruz's Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories--People here are working to link displays at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park and corresponding displays at memorials in Santa Cruz.  I would think these folks have access to at least some of the information I'm seeking, and they may be willing to share it with me.  And, who knows--maybe my story will peak someone's interest who will want to help solve my mystery.
So there's my progress report for last week as well as my to-do list for this week.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, please!  Let's hope one of these contacts will help me send Maka's passport home.

To learn more about this story, check out these blog posts.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: "Dang" Good Pie by Mildred Lane Partin

My Papaw, William B. Lane, & his daughter-in-law,
Mildred Wagner Lane Partin
Can't wait to try my Aunt Mildred's "Dang" Good Pie.  Thanks for sharing your mom's recipe with me, Phil!

Recipe from Mildred W. Lane Partin

(click on recipe to enlarge)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mystery Monday or Military Monday? More from Nolan Lane's WWII Photo Album and the Japanese Passport

Passport of Maka Kanehawa
issued in Okinawa, Japan, 1931
Well, the search continues for more information about the strange Japanese passport found in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.  (If you need to catch up on this story, click here and here.)

First of all, I got a great suggestion from fellow genealogy buff Heather Kuhn Roelker who writes the wonderful blog Leaves For Trees.  After reading my first post about the passport, Heather recommended that I contact the PBS show "History Detectives" to see if they might be interested in investigating the story behind the Japanese passport.  So I did just that!  I went to the History Detectives website and submitted my story.  It's probably a long shot, but at least it's worth a try, right?  Thanks so much for the suggestion and the encouragement, Heather!

I also spent some time this past weekend researching the Battle of Okinawa.  I specifically wanted to find out about the aftermath of the battle since this is what my Uncle Nolan and the 9th USN Construction Battalion (Seabees) encountered when they arrived in Okinawa in late June of 1945.  According to all the accounts I read, the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted from April 1, 1945-June 21, 1945, was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific as well as the largest sea-land-air battle in history.  There were numerous military casualties on both sides and over 100,000 civilian deaths and even more civilian injuries.  To find out about Maka Kanehawa, the original owner of the passport, I think my focus should be on these Okinawan civilians.

By all accounts, the Okinawan people endured tremendous pain and hardship during and after the Battle of Okinawa.  At the beginning of the battle, they were told by the Japanese military to go south, away from the advancing American forces.  Okinawans were also warned by their military that the American soldiers would rape and/or kill them.  So they fled south, taking refuge in caves, abandoned buildings, and makeshift structures.  As the Japanese army also retreated south, the civilians were driven out of even these meager living quarters so that the soldiers could use them.  Laura Lacey, in her account of the battle on Military History Online, notes that even at the start of the battle, 75% of civilian homes had been destroyed.  The Okinawan people, she writes, "were covered in lice and unclean, starved and injured from bombing, shelling, and bullets."  When American forces closed in, many civilians committed suicide rather than face the torture they feared from the Americans.

Thus, a land and it's people destroyed by battle is what my uncle and his fellow Seabees encountered when they arrived in Okinawa to construct roads, living quarters, work and communication centers for the American military that would establish a presence there for nearly thirty years.  Below are some more photos from Uncle Nolan's album that offer some visual details about what the Seabees found in Okinawa.

Nolan A. Lane (seated on left) & other USN Seabees in front of one of the
numerous caves used by Japanese civilians and soldiers during the
Battle of Okinawa, 1945

After doing this research, I wonder if my my colleague, Japanese teacher Nathan Patton, was on the right track about the owner of the mysterious passport.  Was Maka Kanehawa a casualty of the Battle of Okinawa?  That certainly seems possible.  Did she flee her home leaving her passport behind where my uncle found it among the ruins?  Did my uncle find the passport while searching through one of the caves where civilians hid, or maybe he found it simply laying on the ground where it had been dropped?

While doing my research, I also ran across several references to the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa, Japan.  Part of the park is a memorial which contains the names of all those who perished during the Battle of Okinawa.  I've found a contact email address for the park, and my next step will be to submit my passport story to someone there in hopes that they can help me discover Maka's story and actually return the passport to her family.  Stay tuned. . .


Laura Lacey, "The Battle of Okinawa," Military History Online, 2003

John Prados, "Battle of Okinawa," The Reader's Companion to Military History, Houghton, Mifflin, Harecourt Publishers, 1996, on

Nicholas Kristof, "The Darker Side of Okinawa," The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1996, on New York

"Okinawa Story," on Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Edith Naoma Lane

Edith Naoma Lane
This is my favorite photo of my Aunt Edie. I love the huge smile on her face! Number 3 of William and Martha Pierce Lane's children, Edith Naoma was born on March 24, 1908, in Clairfield, Tennessee. By the time she was two, she and the family were living in nearby Anthras. Papaw was working in the coal mines, and Granny was taking care of three young children.

In 1925, when Edith was only 16 or 17 years old, she eloped with Clarence D. Mayes who was ten years her senior.  They remained in Claiborne County, Tennessee, where both of their families lived.  Clarence worked as a coal miner and Edith was a housewife.  All this information is verified in the 1930 United States Federal Census.  What I can't verify are the elopement stories told my mom, Betty, and my aunt, Ruth, Edith's younger sisters.  My grandmother would have been pregnant with my mom, and Aunt Ruth would have been only eight years old when Edith and Clarence eloped.  Both, however, often told stories about the night Edith snuck out of the house and met Clarence, and of how the two of them ran off through the fields, climbing over fences and rocks while my papaw yelled after them to stop.

Edith Lane with her second husband, Earl
Sisters Ruth and Edith Lane

At some point after 1930, Edith and Clarence divorced, and Aunt Edie moved to Cincinnati.  My mom often talked of visiting her big sister in the city and of what fun that was.  Aunt Edie would marry two more times.  Her second husband, named Earl, I know very little about.  Her third husband was Herbert William (Bill) Janssen who was born in Holland in 1899.  Bill had been married previously as well and had a son, Eric.  Aunt Edith never had any children of her own.

Aunt Edith and Uncle Bill eventually settled in Florida, and Bill passed away there in 1980.  Edith remained in Florida for a while, but shortly after my Uncle Nolan died, she moved to Middlesboro, Kentucky, to be close to her sisters, Betty and Ruth.  My cousin and Edith's niece, Betty Jo McManaway, moved Aunt Edie into her home in Harrogate, Tennessee, and took care of her when it became difficult for Edie to live by herself.  Edith died, according to her death certificate, of an "acute cerebral infection" on June 11, 1992, at age 84.

Edith Lane Janssen

1930 United States Federal Census
Tennessee Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909
New York Naturalization Records, 1897-1944
Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Death #15409

Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: Betty's Fried Corn

Betty Lane Lee's Recipe for Fried Corn
FOUND--the recipe my mom used to make her fried corn!  I knew how Mom made fresh fried corn, but I never knew she had an actual recipe for it.  While looking through one of her old cookbooks this week, I found this index card with a recipe from a newspaper taped to it.  This is indeed how she made it, and it was yummy!  Just thinking about Mom's fried corn reminds me of summer suppers in the mountains, and that's a sweet memory to relish on this icy February morning in the Bluegrass.

The old newspaper clipping is difficult to read, so here's a transcription of the recipe:

Fried Corn

6 to 8 medium ears of tender corn
1/2 C. bacon drippings
1 C. milk or cream
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cut kernels from cob. Scrape the ear to remove all the milk.  Have skillet very hot; add bacon drippings and corn.  Let the corn crust but not burn.  Stir constantly for five minutes, until thick.  Add milk or cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until thick.  Serves 4-6.

Betty Lane Lee & Frank Welch Lee in their kitchen
Middlesboro, Kentucky, c. 1980

Mom would use an iron skillet, and I know she used more than 1/8 tsp. of pepper and probably more salt than the recipe calls for.  My dad would hope for Hickory Cane corn--his favorite.  He would often get it from friends and customers who would visit his drug store, Lee's, in downtown Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mystery Monday: Update on Japanese Passport

Maka Kanehawa, 1931
Last week I revealed a mystery that lay hidden inside my Uncle Nolan's WWII scrapbook.  (You can read that post HERE.)  Well, I sent the mysterious Japanese passport to my former colleague, Japanese teacher, Nathan Patton, and asked him to tell me what he could about it.  Today, I have some answers.

The passport belonged to Maka Kanehawa, and she lived in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan.  She was married to Mr. Kogi Kanehawa, and her occupation was in agriculture.  Presumably, she was a farmer.  Her height was 155 centimeters, or about 5' 1."  On July 13, 1931, Maka Kanehawa got permission from the Japanese government and the Argentine consulate in Kobe, Japan to travel to Argentina.  She arrived in Argentina on September 4, 1931, and visited the Japanese consulate in Buenos Aires on September 7, 1931.  That seems to be all the passport reveals.

My colleague, Mr. Patton, adds the following historical note and his educated guess about the passport:
Because of the U. S. Congress restricting immigration from Asia in the 1920's and the world wide depression in the early 1930's, there was emigration from Japan to South America (mostly to Brazil and Peru) in the early 1930's.  Being that [Maka Kanehawa] was a farmer, going to Argentina might have been somehow related to this emigration wave from Japan.  Since the U. S. has had a large military presence in Okinawa since the end of WWII, my guess is that a passport like this could have easily ended up in the hands of your uncle if he was stationed in Okinawa during or after the war.  Perhaps Ms. Kanehawa died in the battle for Okinawa?

With the identity and place of residence of the passport owner revealed, I took another look at my uncle's scrapbook and military records.  According to his discharge certificate, Nolan A. Lane was part of the 9th Naval Construction Battalion from October 22, 1943, until his honorable discharge on November 27, 1945.  The 9th USN Construction Battalion arrived in Okinawa, Japan, on June 26, 1945, and remained there until the end of the war.  According to Naval History and Heritage, while in Okinawa, the 9th constructed a four lane coral-surface highway, a compound for the 17th USN Construction Regiment, internal roads, shops for aircraft repairs, a 1600 foot quay wall, and a marine railway.  They also operated a coral pit and rock crusher.

Photo of sign in Okinawa, Japan, from the
WWII scrapbook of Nolan A. Lane
So my uncle WAS in Okinawa, home of Maka Kanehawa, after the Battle of Okinawa and at the end of WWII.  Did he encounter Maka Kanehawa or her family?  Did someone give him the mysterious passport, or did he simply find it while the Seabees were completing a construction project?  I still want to explore this a bit more, so I hope you'll visit again for my next Mystery Monday post.  As always, I'd love to hear from you!


"9th Naval Construction Battalion Historical Information," Naval History and Heritage, pages 1-5

Laura Lacey, "Battle of Okinawa,"  Military History Online, April 13, 2003.