"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memories of MUM - Peace Pilgrimages and World Friendship Center

     This will be the last re-cycled post about my mom. I sense you're getting bored--or maybe it's me. I do have some fun and more personal ones I haven't posted before which I hope you will enjoy, leading up to the ceremony on June 12.
     This is extracted from a long and insightful chapter, "The Symbolic American: Barbara Reynolds," from City of Silence: Listening to Hiroshima by Rachelle Linner. (The entire chapter is posted on His Scribe, Nov. 23, 2010.) If you want to skip any overlap with what I've been posting, pick the saga up with "The Peace Pilgrimage" on p. 64. You can quit at "Ambiguous Symbols" on the last page.

Left-click on each page once or twice to enlarge.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memories of MUM - After second protest voyage

From His Scribe, Nov.13, 2010

After we sailed "to Russia with Love"

                                                     Press Statement

     On October 21, 1961, the yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima, with five Americans aboard, was stopped 10 miles outside of Nakhodka, Siberia, boarded by Soviet military authorities and, while under surveillance by three Soviet vessels, was refused permission under any circumstances to enter the port.
     We were carrying messages and petitions from thousands of Japanese and Americans, protesting the resumption of nuclear testing and appealing for a positive approach to world peace through understanding.
     The Soviet authorities put food and supplies aboard our yacht, but refused to accept any of the petitions or to permit any communication whatever with the Russian people.
     Therefore, after 16 days at sea, under very severe weather conditions, the Phoenix then put about without making port and started her return voyage. For over one day she was followed by a Soviet vessel.
     On October 28, almost exactly 5 weeks after sailing from Hiroshima on our mission, we dropped anchor in the harbor of Fukuoka, under stress of weather.
     The entire voyage was the most difficult passage the Phoenix has encountered in over 60,000 miles of sailing around the world, during the past seven years.
     We, the crew of the yacht Phoenix, are deeply disappointed at the refusal of the Soviet authorities to accept the messages and petitions. We continue to strongly protest the testing of nuclear weapons by any nations.
     Fukuoka, Japan, October 29, 1961
                                                                  Earle Reynolds (Captain)
                                                                  Barbara Reynolds
                                                                  Ted Reynolds
                                                                  Jessica Reynolds
                                                                  Tom Yoneda

     Mum (Barbara) wrote our friends, "Our reception has been heartwarming. Taxi drivers, shop-keepers, even strangers who pass us on the street, bow and said: "O-kaeri" (Welcome home!). To meet with such affection in Hiroshima touches us deeply and makes us very humble. More than ever, we are determined not to let these people down, these people who have suffered so much and are still falling ill and dying from the effects of a bomb dropped 16 years before."
     She wrote to the Peace Action Center in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 1961 (By the way, we had  no organization sponsoring or underwriting either of our protest trips): "As you may know, the Russian authorities refused to accept our letters and petitions. (They suggested that we take them to the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo--which is coming full circle and promises no opportunity of getting our concern to the Russian people.) We are now trying to consider what we ought to do with this responsibility and trust, as we still feel obligated to get the feelings of the Japanese people to the world.
     "It has been suggested that we raise money to send one or two representatives from Hiroshima to the UN, to deliver the messages in person to Zorin or to U Thant.
                                                                                        "Barbara Reynolds
                                                                                        "Yacht Phoenix
                                                                                        "Hiroshima, Japan"

Documents quoted in Friends of the Hibakusha, Virginia Naeve, Editor. Denver: Swallow Paperbooks, 1964.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We all get the same sized flashlight

by Malissa Kilpatrick
Used by permission

I sign up for this job. I am so excited to be part of the show. I actually get to be part of the big show! I got the job!

I line up with the other chosen. Some of us are handsome and smart. We are well dressed and well educated. Just the sort you would expect God to use. There are some others in the line. They are overweight and smelly. They don’t look too brilliant. Sort of the Walmart  crowd. I wonder what work they have been given? Cleaning the bathrooms at the show? Well, I will have an important part, anyway. I will be a shining star.

The guy at the door passes out flashlights--to everyone. They are flimsy silver Ever-ready flashlights with two rechargeable C batteries. They are the flashlights you get for free when you buy the batteries. Everyone gets the same size flashlights and careful instructions on how to keep them recharged. You know--all the spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible Study, fellowship, fasting?

Inside the theater, it looks as if the whole world has gathered. That is, everyone not yet chosen for the job. And on the stage the show is going on--already going on, as it has been from the very beginning. The colors are incredible, the story line is rich, the movement is perfectly orchestrated.
And our job is simply to shine our light, our little flashlight, on the stage so the whole world can see the wonders of the show.

We turn on our lights. I shine my light on the stage. The people in the theater clap and make appreciative noises. Woo, this is great. My light is shining so brightly!

Later some of the better dressed shine their lights on one another. I shine my light over to see what they are admiring. Nice suit. Sometimes I get  bored holding my light on the stage. I want to see what the whole world of the audience is doing. Look at that! Some of the really dumb looking folks shine their lights all around, up on the ceiling, on the floor. Don’t they know what they were hired for? Here, I will shine my light on them to reveal to the stage manager what they are doing wrong. Here comes the stage manager. He will probably promote me to just show the others what they are doing wrong. I could be really good at that. I could be the supervisor of a whole division.

No, he says my job is just to keep shining on the stage. ‘Glorifying the Father’ is what he calls it. My job is to let my little light shine. He says that if I don’t keep shining my light the world cannot see the glory of the Father. Just as if  mine was the only light. Look at those other lights out there. Somebody else can do that. “Shine Shine Shine!”, he says.

OK. I will try to keep my light on this task. Look at those colors, listen to that story. Look at those stupid people. Well, some of them are shining where they are supposed to--even the Walmart crowd.  It does not take a lot of brains to just shine.

After all, we all get the same size flashlight.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memories of MUM - Second protest voyage, USSR

His Scribe, October 11, 2010


     Many Americans steered clear of us when we came back from protesting American nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. "Tell it to the Russians!" they chided in letters to the editor. "They're the reason we have to test weapons."
     "We will," we promised, "if they ever resume atmospheric testing."
     In the autumn of 1961 they did. Ted and I, now students at International Christian University in Tokyo, read the headlines with a sinking feeling in the pits of our stomachs. We didn't have to say anything. We knew we had to do it all again. We took the 11-hour train ride back to Hiroshima and gathered with Skipper and Mum on the Phoenix.
     The nearest military port was Vladivostok but it was iced in at that time of year. We would head instead to Nakhodka. Nick Mikami wasn't going with us this time because the Japanese government wouldn't promise to let him back into his country afterward (they wouldn't promise to let Skipper back in, either). Instead we invited Ted's friend Tom Yoneda, a Japanese-American with American citizenship, to sail with us.
     This trip was harder than the last one. For one thing, it was winter and we had to sail to Russia and back through brutal seas. Also, as unpredictable as the American government had been, the Soviet government was a wholly unknown quantity. There would be no publicity about our trip in the USSR. They could do what they pleased with us--imprison us, sink the Phoenix--and no one need ever know.
     I wrote a book-length account of the trip when we got back to Japan and it was published in 1962 as (my title) To Russia with Love and (publisher's title) Jessica's Journal--which had been the title of my first book. To compound the confusion, they printed a picture of Mum in the front of the book instead of me.
     None of that mattered, though, because it was in Japanese so "no one" could read it anyway and it died quietly.
     NEW NOTE: A Japanese pastor staying with us recently pulled the long out-of-print Japanese volume off our shelves because he recognized the name of the translator. "This man was very well-known in Japan!" he said, impressed. "He translated authors like Hemingway! I read Hemingway in his translation."
     Now I was impressed! 
     This year, the Peace Resource Center which Mum later established in Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio, and which houses her personal library, her own writings and the biggest collection on materials about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, war, peace and nuclear weapons in the country, contacted me. The director wanted to publish To Russia with Love in English. They had an editor and publisher ready to move on it.
     Fortunately I knew where the only extant manuscript was. I got it out and read it for the first time in 50 years, the first time since I'd written it.
     It brought back intense memories. It was a bizarre trip in many ways--a middle-aged American couple with two teenagers, a Japanese-American friend, and two cats confronting the Great Russian Bear in a 50-foot ketch. Our reception was even more surreal, involving legs of mutton and 55-gallon drums of diesel fuel--and a Cold War encounter with real Russians.
     I'm telling you this because it sets up the scene for what happened next, about Mum spending Christmas Day praying in the Peace Park and how that led to her turning our failure at reaching the Russian people into two Peace Pilgrimages to the whole world.

     To Russia with Love is now available and can be ordered from the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH for $11.99 (plus postage and handling). All proceeds will go to the Center.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memories of MUM - First protest voyage, Part 11

From His Scribe, September 24, 2010


      On the night of July 1, 1958, the Phoenix ghosted across the finish line. We were officially within the "zone," having crossed a line as invisible as the equator or the International Date Line.
      The next morning, 85 miles later, American Coast Guard cutter W307 which had been following us for two nights came alongside. The captain shouted, "Heave to, and prepare to be boarded." (Heave to means to pull around into the wind and stop.)
Coast Guard cutter Planetree overtakes us
Armed guards
    "What is your authority?" Skipper responded. After all, the cutter was 2000 miles from the nearest American coast.
     The master of the Planetree read out some figures and Skip obeyed "under protest." Two armed men came aboard and put Skipper--only Skipper--under arrest. They couldn't arrest Nick, because he wasn't an American citizen--and in fact, they couldn't even legally detain him (though they did). They couldn't arrest me, since I was a minor. And they could hardly arrest Amya, our current feline mascot. But they didn't arrest Mum or Ted either. They ordered us to sail to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. A Navy destroyer USS Collett appeared on the horizon to make sure we did.
     Ted was on watch at 4:30 on the morning of July 3 and Mum was in the cockpit with him. Suddenly the sky lit up to the west (the direction of Bikini Island, 200 miles away) as if with a "gigantic flash bulb, oval in shape and at about five to fifteen degrees above the horizon," according to Ted. Although the explosion was not reported by our military or in American newscasts, a Japanese station announced that the United States had exploded another bomb in the Bikini test zone.
     We now know the bomb was code-named "Cedar." (The date given by the military is July 2; they were probably going by Stateside dating. We happen to know it was July 3 local time!) Cedar was equal to 220 kilotons of TNT--that is, 14-18 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. Of the 72 bombs exploded in Hardtack Series I, the largest was 9.3 megatons.
USS Collett "escorts" us to Kwajalein
     You can read details of all this in The Forbidden Voyage if you can find a copy. As a teenager I was curious about First Petty Officer Acree and Boatswain Laflin. Besides the guns, they had brought their own canned food and water with them. By July 2, they had kicked off their shoes, impractical on a yacht (although they hastily put them on whenever the Collett came close), and removed their sidearms. By July 3, they were still drinking their canned water but--Skip wrote "Barbara's method of breaking down their resistance was positively fiendish"--ate big bowls of Mum's savory spaghetti and meat sauce with us.
     The men thought we'd sailed into the test zone by accident and the Navy had assigned them to rescue us.  Their jobs, replacing buoys and marine installations damaged by the tests, exposed them to considerable radiation but they assured us everything was under control: "A man can take one hundred roentgens of radioactivity per hour without harm."
     "Oh?" asked Skip. "For how many hours?"
     "Well, five or six anyway."
     Skip pulled out his copy of Shubert and Lapp's Radiation: What It Is and How It Affects You and showed them that an over-all exposure of that much would probably be fatal.
     Laflin confided that some of the men, in order to get leaves, "cheated" by putting the radiation badges issued them in their shoes instead of on their shirts. Skip pointed out that if the deck is the most radioactive place on the boat, the badges should be placed in the shoes.
     By the time we reached Kwaj on the 4th of July we were lifelong friends.    
Skipper and Mum at Skipper's arraignment, Honolulu
     On July 5, the Navy put Skipper on a MATS plane and taxpayers flew him back to Honolulu for trial. Mum and I went with him, leaving Nick and Ted to guard the Phoenix.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We interrupt this post for TORNADO NEWS

     I don't mean to focus on the past while ignoring the historic tornadoes our country is reeling from right now.  Our daughter Becky has a personal perspective on them. The following is from her conversation with me this morning from EDMOND, OKLAHOMA:
     Yesterday for 3-1/2 hours, one of a mass of large, multiple, long-track tornadoes swept up through Oklahoma City, killing several people. Rain was so heavy it was hard for meteorologists to locate and track individual tornadoes being spawned as the mass moved across three states.       
     Becky's husband David was stuck at Tinker Air Force Base, 30 miles from home, as weather reports jumped from "tornado watch" to "tornado warning." The local meteorologist's advisory went from "Go on about your lives" to "Everyone, get home!" to "Find shelter!" There was pandemonium at the news. Becky and just-ending-first-grade daughter Katherine, along with all the other parents and children at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Elementary School, scattered and raced home.
      Becky and David live in an older residential neighborhood. There are only three basements on the block. The one they have gathered in before during close calls during their 14 years in Oklahoma is almost directly across the street and belongs to Miss Pearl, a 100-year old woman who insists on living there--alone--although her daughter keeps urging her to come to Nevada. Becky wasn't sure how she would get the fragile Miss Pearl into her own basement.
     As the massive storm approached, Becky found herself responsible for the lives of a panicky 7-year old, a helpless but stubborn 100-year old, and a clingy Golden Retriever. "So here I am, the only functional person and I have this 60-pound dog attached to me--"
     Jeff, the next-door neighbor, saw that David's truck wasn't in their driveway and went to check on her. (His wife was out of town.) Becky told him David hadn't been able to make it home in time and told him he was welcome to join them in Miss Pearl's basement--just as the meteorologist's advisory ratcheted up to "GET UNDERGROUND!"
     They all raced across the street, battered by deafening wind and rain.
     As it turned out, even if they could have figured out how to get her downstairs, Miss Pearl refused to go into the basement. (So did the dog.) Jeff insisted he would stay with the old lady. Becky made him step aside with her where she could tell him, "I can't let you stay above ground right next to the entrance to a tornado shelter! Your wife would never forgive me!"
     Living alone, Miss Pearl can't maintain her house well. The basement was still flooded from a washing machine overflow weeks before but Becky says, "I didn't care how gross the basement was if it saved our lives." (I would be more worried about the danger of water getting into live wall sockets.)

     The tornado swerved. It didn't hit Edmond. No one ended up needing the basement. A separate tornado bypassed David at Tinker and their older daughter in Moore. By 7:00 the emergency was over. For them.
     But the tornado slammed into Piedmont. One house flattened by it belonged to a mother who tried to ride it out huddled in a bathtub with her three children. The four of them were thrown apart. She and a 5-year old daughter are in critical condition in a hospital. (Her baby in utero also survived.) Her 15-month old baby did not make it and her three-year old son is still missing. Her husband was out of town and couldn't get back until afterwards. Pray for them. (UPDATE: Three-year old Ryan's body was found this morning. May 26)
     Every home in Tornado Alley should have a basement. Old homes weren't built with them and even new homes--incredibly--are not being built with them. That, as Becky says, is irresponsible. They should be written into the building code. Tornadoes can level or lift houses (one Yahoo account quoted someone as saying houses can become deadly missiles--just like they were in the recent Japanese tsunami) and sometimes the only safe place to be to survive is underground. (Hasn't anyone there learned anything from The Wizard of Oz?)
     But she had nothing but praise for their meteorologists. "They're the best in the business. They took this seriously. They told us to go home. They did a great job. They tell us, 'We have the technology to know the conditions that produce tornadoes--May is the worst month--and to predict their course. There shouldn't be any deaths. We can do this!' We just have to listen to them, not take unnecessary risks. And we need to be able to get underground."


Memories of MUM - First protest voyage, Part 4

From His Scribe, September 17, 2010

PHOENIX and GOLDEN RULE (4) Mum's, Nick's perspectives

     Looking back at this crossroads in our lives, Mum wrote, "By the time we returned to Hawaii (where we had stopped for four months on our outward voyage), two of the Japanese had left us and the third had become like one of the family. We had all experienced that 'consciousness raising' which only life itself can give. We were ready to be shoved onto the stage as 'peace activists.'
     "It was at that point that Phoenix--Bird of Peace, risen from the ashes of Hiroshima--met the Golden Rule, sailed from California by four Quakers for the purpose of protesting the U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.
     "'Crackpots!' was our first reaction. What could four men on a tiny boat do to change government policies? But we were concerned about the dangers from radiation and soon realized that the presence of Golden Rule was stimulating a discussion of the issues. For me, it stimulated much more." (From "Sailing into Test Waters," included in the book, Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Non-Violence, 1982)
     Mum was struck by the amazing series of interlocking factors which to her (then a believer in an impersonal but benign Deity) could not be accounted for by coincidence:
     Skipper was a leading world expert on the dangers of radiation and concerned about them. We had spent three years in Hiroshima, had built a boat there named after a bird which (Western mythology) rises from its own ashes and (Eastern mythology) appears only in a time of universal peace. One of our crew was a citizen of Hiroshima.We had deep-sea sailing experience and were ready for a long voyage. We had arrived in Honolulu while the U.S. was doing a series of atmospheric nuclear tests. We had arrived the day after the Golden Rule was hauled back from attempting to sail to the nuclear test zone to protest those tests. And we were on our way back to Hiroshima. We wouldn't have to go out of our way to enter the test zone. In fact we would have to go considerably out of our way not to enter it.
     In short, we were ideally positioned to take over where the Golden Rule had been forced to leave off.
    "In court," Mum continued in her essay, "where we went to a hearing on an injunction forbidding Golden Rule to sail--an injunction which was upheld--I heard George Willoughby's quiet statement: 'When the laws of men are in violation of the laws of God, I must obey God. You can send me to jail but you cannot imprison my conscience!' I felt a deep affirmation.
     "For the first time, I knew that God was and that He was in charge. I knew, too, what it was to be God-fearing. For Phoenix to pick up the protest voyage after the crew of Golden Rule had been sentenced to sixty days in jail was not an action I felt we could evade. Rather, it was a decision for which our whole lives had prepared us. To have said, 'No, I have other plans for my life!' would have taken more courage than I possessed.
Niichi (Nick) Mikami
     "I shared my conviction with my family. After some discussion (and perhaps for different reasons) we found ourselves in agreement. As for our Japanese companion, Nick Mikami, there was no hesitation. 'I am from Hiroshima!' he said. [Nick's mother and brother had been in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. For days, his mother had crawled through the radioactive rubble, searching for her brother-in-law. She never found his body.]
     And so, with no knowledge of the peace movement nor any background in nonviolent action, we sailed. . .
     "I became an 'activist' out of a deeply felt inner compulsion, as instinctively as a dog responds to his master's voice. . ."
     "Barbara feels this is the hand of Providence," Skipper wrote. "I am more inclined to feel it is just damned bad luck. Anyway, we talked almost all night, and finally decided to sail, but to postpone any final decision until we are close to the area of the testing zone."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More fruit from devastated Japan

Taylor and Lorraine Reece, former missionaries in Niigata, Japan, wrote us, "Our daughter Deb [in Tokyo] reported 3 Japanese businessmen were baptized on Easter Sunday at their church.  One very clearly said that the recent disaster has shown him that money and education isn't EVERYTHING!  Deb says she is so happy to be there at this time!  Harvest time?  We pray so!!"  


Memories of MUM - First protest voyage, Part 1

Why is  Barbara Reynolds, a wife, mother, and writer of children's books from Wisconsin, having a monument erected to her memory in the Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan? (For those of you who have been reading all my posts since His Scribe, please bear with the redundancy.)

In 1958 and 1961, as part of the Reynolds family, she sailed on protest voyages against American and then Soviet nuclear testing. over the following years, she accompanied survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs around the world appealing for an end to nuclear weapons. She founded the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima and was made a citizen of the city by Mayor Hamai and declared to be a "Japanese National Treasure" at a dinner with Prime Minister Nakasone.

It all started after my dad "Skipper" designed and built a yacht in Hiroshima, Japan while studying the effects of radiation between 1951-54. We spent the next four years sailing around the world in it. (That's on His Scribe.) Now it was 1958 and we were in Hawaii, looking forward to the last leg of our journey back to Hiroshima. . .

NOTE: This is all covered in detail in posts on His Scribe.  I'll be re-posting over the next few days a few of them that pertain especially to my mother and Hiroshima,  posts headed PHOENIX from Sept. 14-28 and posts headed MUM from November 13-24.

From His Scribe.September 14, 2010

PHOENIX and GOLDEN RULE (1) First Encounter

     Our official circumnavigation didn't end in Hilo. We still intended to sail back to Hiroshima. With that in mind, we pulled into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu, May 2, 1958, for our final fitting-out (painting, overhauling engine and radio, making a new mainsail, studying charts and pilot books) before re-crossing the Pacific.

  Across the dock from the Phoenix was a smaller yacht which was also getting publicity, more controversial publicity than we were. It was the Golden Rule and three of the four men aboard were Quakers, a category of people we had never met before.
     The captain was Albert Bigelow, 52, a former Navy commander during World War II--an unlikely convert to pacifism, one might think. With him were Bill Huntington, a rather tall, scholarly-looking man, about 50; George Willoughby, a short intense man in his forties with a doctorate in political science and Orion Sherwood, an earnest, cheerful young man in his twenties, a Methodist.

     On March 25, the crew of the Golden Rule had sailed from San Pedro, California to Hawaii with the intention of continuing on into the area of the Pacific Ocean where our government was testing atmospheric nuclear weapons. They intended to protest radioactive fallout with their own bodies.
     A hastily-imposed injunction, dated April 16, made it illegal for American citizens to enter this 390,000 square miles of open ocean. In other words their trip, legal when they left California, was illegal by the time they reached Honolulu.
     In spite of the injunction, on May 1 the sailors had left Honolulu bound for the forbidden zone.
     They were intercepted by the Coast Guard. The Golden Rule was towed back and the four men were put under arrest.
     This is where things stood when we arrived in Honolulu the very next day. We were curious about these men and their strong convictions about "nuclear explosions, by any nation," being "inhuman, immoral, contemptuous crimes against all mankind."
     But Skipper was even more concerned with the fact that the huge area of the Pacific Ocean declared off-limits to American citizens blanketed any reasonable route by which we could sail the Phoenix back to Japan.

His Scribe, Golden Rule Part 1

Monday, May 23, 2011

What is happening to tsunami orphans?

Tsunami orphans

Memories of MUM - Living in Hiroshima

(Continued from May 20) Sometimes when we went off base, we'd visit the local orphanage. At the time I didn't realize many of the children were orphans because of a bomb our country had dropped on their parents six years before.

Mum and Dad would invite girls my age, always two at a time for company,  to come to our house on weekends. Incredibly shy, they'd eat every bite of whatever we served (whether by personal choice or by order of the orphanage director), giggle at Cappy and watch amazed as I taught them how to bounce on the beds. (In the orphanage they slept on futon over hard wooden floors.) Mum and Dad even tried to adopt one of the little girls but we had to give up. There was too much red tape.

During the week Dad studied children like those orphans at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. When the first nuclear bomb ever dropped on people exploded, civilians died with the soldiers. In fact civilian deaths outnumbered military ones. Housewives, schoolchildren, babies, the unborn. The nuclear bomb didn't discriminate. (Three days later, it happened all over again in Nagasaki but scientists only studied survivors of Hiroshima. Being second didn't count.)

ABCC, established in 1946, began as a five-man commission whose first research program was a hematological study. By 1950, it had expanded to include studies on radiation cataracts, leukemia and other cancers, survivors' aging and mortality rates, sex ratios of survivors' offspring and genetics.

ABCC was where Daddy would be seeing Japanese children every day, measuring their height and weight, taking their blood and photographing each one naked, facing the camera. (On the film their eyes were blocked out, for modesty.)

He would study 4,800 children over the next three years. Those were, of course, just the children who had survived. Many more had been killed and some of those Dad examined would develop symptoms years later and die of the residual effects of their exposure to radiation.

Dad's three years of research indicated that children exposed to radiation don't grow as tall as their counterparts, experience more fatigue and are more susceptible to disease, particularly leukemia and other kinds of cancer. Strontium-90, a product of nuclear fission, is a "bone seeker," just as calcium is, and tends to deposit in bone and blood-forming tissue (bone marrow). Instead of building bone, however, the radiation deteriorates it and can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia. So the growing children Dad examined were showing abnormally high incidences of thyroid cancer.

Dad studied the physical effects of the atomic bomb on the bodies of survivors and became one of the world's leading experts on radiation. But it didn't occur to any of us--until years later, when Mum crept back to Hiroshima, bruised and shattered by divorce, to pour the love of God into their lives--to ask the real experts, "What was it like to live through an nuclear explosion?"

Mum and me fasting in front of the Children's Peace Monument

The statue to the left is dedicated to the memory of the children who died of fatal doses of radiation from the first nuclear bomb. It shows a girl with outstretched arms, a folded paper crane rising above her, representing Sadako Sasaki.

Sadako was a two-year old in her mother's arms in 1945 when she was exposed to the atomic bomb. She had no external wounds or burns. Ten years later, she developed leukemia and other symptoms of "A-bomb disease"and died within eight months.

A brief biography, Memories of Sadako: Three months with Sadako at the Doorway to Adolescence, was written by Kiyo Okura, who was exposed to the bomb herself at the age of four and was also hospitalized with radiation poisoning ten years later. Kiyo Okura was sick for six months, survived the disease and lived until 2008.

(Modified from His Scribe, May 17, 2010)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

NOW POSTED: Mum's last book, The Story of Leopons

     My mother was the author of a murder mystery and then several books for children. Her last children's book, The Story of Leopons, was non-fiction, written with Hiroyuki Doi, Director of the Hanshin Park Zoo near Kobe, Japan.
     Leopons tells the zoo's experience crossing a male leopard with a female lion and it is full of delightful photos of the five furry little results. The cubs (two sets of them) could climb trees like their dad and swim like their mom.
     It has been 44 years since the book was published so it may not quite be in the public domain yet but it is long out of print and not a copy is to be had on amazon.com. So I have taken the liberty of posting it for you online at
     For more information see Leopons, Hanshin Zoo as well as Mum's books on His Scribe. You can also Google "Leopons.")

Friday, May 20, 2011

Memories of MUM - Moving to Japan

Slightly modified from His Scribe, May 15, 2010
Dad and Mum were away at a writers' retreat in the hills of some eastern state when the news came that a new type of bomb had obliterated Hiroshima. They felt relieved. Not because they had anything against the Japanese. But maybe--finally--this would end the war. Mum went back to polishing the novel she was writing, Alias for Death. Dad went back to working on his latest play. Bite the Dust, maybe. Or, I Weep for You.

We had no way of knowing that the Hiroshima bomb would gradually come to profoundly affect our own family. The day would come when Mum would tell survivors of that bomb, weeping, "I too, am a hibakusha (fire-exploded person)" and they would design a monument to her with those words on it in her handwriting, to be erected in the Peace Park.

But for the next six years we didn't think about the bomb. We lived a normal American life in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Dad, Dr. Earle L. Reynolds,--who was a physical anthropologist--worked at Fels Research Institute and taught at Antioch College. In 1951 that changed forever. The National Academy of Sciences assigned Dad to conduct a three-year study on the effects of the first atomic bomb on the growth and development of surviving children.

Each of us had to get passport photos taken, apply for visas and endure a series of ten injections, for everything from typhus to typhoid, yellow fever and smallpox. Then, complete with our "Woody" station wagon and our dog Cappy (short for Caprice), we packed up to move to Hiroshima.
We drove to San Francisco and steamed across the ocean on the President Wilson to Yokohama. We drove the Woody carefully down the length of Honshu, the main island, because the only road was often only one lane wide, and even where it was wider, one of the lanes was always under repair. Large chunks of the road had been blown away. Perspiring laborers were lugging the chunks back from the fields in baskets swinging from each end of a stick across their naked shoulders. Beyond them, ankle-deep in mud, their wives stooped to transplant spears of rice.

We passed through towns that were clogged with cars, bicycles, oxen-drawn carts and three-wheeled "bata batas." Once Daddy had to back up and he asked me to look and see if there was anything behind us.

"No, Daddy," I said. "Nothing but people."

People. Wherever we stopped, children, their eyes bright with curiosity, crowded around our car, greeting us with a chorus of "Harro, Harro!" They jostled each other aside and held out grubby hands, grinning and clamoring eagerly for "Chu-in-gu ga-a-mu!" That's all the English they knew. Chewing gum. The only foreigners they had ever seen were soldiers. We were a family. A father who was not wearing a uniform. A mother. Kids, like them. (Later, when our grandmother Diggie Dee came to visit, her soft white hair made a sensation throughout the country. Even grown women wanted to touch it.) And a dog! There were no dogs, cats or birds left in Japan after the war. Rumor had it they had all been eaten. 

Every child had a runny nose.

Japan was still occupied by Australian and American forces. The Australians were finishing up and would be gone in a year. Although Dad was coming to Hiroshima as a scientist we lived on the nearby Army base, a community of pastel-colored houses called NijiMura (see "Australian families") (Rainbow Village).

Families in NijiMura did what families were probably doing back in the States. The men went to work every day and the women got together for bridge and gossip. We kids went to school--all in one room--and attended Saturday matinees at the one theater on the base, even though there were only enough of us to fill the first few rows.

The base effectively insulated us from Japan and the Japanese people, except for those who cooked our meals and mowed our lawn.

It was fun living in NijiMura because we had a maid.  Mum didn't have to cook or do housework and I didn't have to wash the dishes or clean my room. Miss Dote (Dohtay) couldn't read English so the first night she worked for us, she opened all the cans to see what to serve for dinner.

Once she forgot to cover the pitcher of syrup and when I poured syrup on my pancakes, a two-inch-long shiny black cockroach washed out and lay in departed dignity atop them, thin little contracted legs in the air. Little brown roaches, of no consequence by comparison, never bothered me after that but it took a long time for me to like pancakes again.

My brother Ted, who was absent-minded long before he became a professor, wore the same shirt every day. At night Dote-san would wash it, iron it, and place it folded back in his drawer on top of the others, until Mum instructed her to put the clean shirt on the bottom. My mother was a genius at some things and avoiding confrontation was one of them.

We kids made fun of the maid but Mum tried to get to know and befriend her. Miss Dote was young and overwhelmed, trying to survive in a foreign world within her own devastated one. The Americans she had been taught to hate were now the employers she must learn to respect and serve. (Years later, Dote-san was murdered.)

Most people in NijiMura paid little attention to the world outside the gates. They didn't go outside if they didn't have to and on the anniversary of the bombing, everyone was warned not to leave the base. The Japanese might be hostile. 

If dependents had to leave the base, they watched curiously through the glass of car windows, noting shops lining narrow streets, their fronts open to display fruit, vegetables or cheap trinkets. Men urinating along city sidewalks. Mothers nursing babies in public. How primitive, how offensive! Americans would never think of using public Japanese restrooms. They were just holes over mountains of reeking excrement. Every Australian and American would return to the base in relief.

But Mum was an exception. Mum took us kids off base by choice.

Mum wanted to experience Japan. As a child, she had read a book called The Japanese Twins by Lucy F. Perkins (published in 1912) and she was fascinated with Japanese life. She had her mother tie a doll to her back and practiced using chopsticks. So she had never feared or hated the Japanese before or during the war and she was excited when Dad was assigned to Japan and we were invited to go with him.

Mum had me take lessons in flower-arranging, calligraphy and dance (a far cry from the ballet and tap I studied during three months we had spent in Tucson).
While Dad was at work (ABCC sent a car and driver to pick him up), Mum would take us into Hiro, the nearest town. We would get out of the car and walk down the narrow roads and look at, even buy, the fresh fruit and vegetables. Japanese women behind the stalls would rush to help us, bowing a lot, carefully selecting the cost of the items from the coins we held on open palm. Others, in kimonos and wooden clogs, perhaps a baby asleep on their back, would sling dippers full of water on the dirt roads to keep down the dust. We'd smile and they'd bow, their baby learning social skills by participating in them.

Mum and Dad also hired a strait-laced little professor named Mr. Yamada. Impeccably groomed and proper, carrying a briefcase, he would come to our stucco block house in Rainbow Village once a week and teach them to speak and read Japanese. They would ask him all kinds of questions about the culture and the "inscrutable Japanese" mind.

After they felt they knew him well enough, Dad asked him how to swear in Japanese.

Professor Yamada's impassive expression betrayed nothing. "We do not have words like that in Japanese," he answered politely.

"Sure, you do. Every language has words like that," Dad prodded. "What would a workman on a ladder say if the man above him spilled hot tar on his head?"

Mr. Yamada was unruffled. "He would say, 'Please don't spill hot tar on my head.'"

"Come on, Mr. Yamada," coaxed Dad. "What would he really say?"

Mr. Yamada relaxed just a little. "Well," he admitted confidentially, "he might leave off the 'please.'"

Mr. Yamada lived into his 90s and became one of our best friends and strongest supporters.

Mum had written children's books for Tim, (Pepper, about his raccoon) and for Ted (Hamlet and Brownswiggle about his hamsters).
Later she would write Emily San about a little American girl in Japan with her family, for me. It was translated into Japanese after her death and published as Rainbow Village.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Memories of MUM - Overview

I asked her once why she was nicknamed Mum.

"You called me that," she said, "when you were little."

Mum (Barbara Leonard Reynolds) came a long way in her 74 years. You'd never think that someone born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who died in Wilmington, Ohio, had traveled so far and had so many adventures in the meantime.

She went around the world three times, sailed with our family in the Phoenix to protest nuclear testing in the American testing zone in the Pacific and Soviet testing in the U.S.S.R. With son Ted and yachtsman Nick Mikami she sailed the 30-ton ship from the Marshall Islands back to Honolulu against the wind. (Photo below shows three generations: Mum's mother Minnetta, Mum and me, examining her calloused hands when she reached port after the 60-day trip.)

She had  lived in Hiroshima over 20 years, founded the World Friendship Center there, been made an honorary citizen of the city and will soon have a monument to her dedicated in Hiroshima's Peace Park, their Ground Zero.

Mum also came a long way from spoiled only child to a woman of such generosity that she devoted her life to helping victims and refugees of war. By the time of her death, most people considered her a saint. She regularly visited survivors of the first atomic bomb in the Hiroshima A-Bomb Hospital to assure them of God's love. She taught those who could not get or keep jobs because of discrimination against their ugly scars and frequent radiation-related illnesses to make handcrafts she could take to the States and sell for them.
She deliberately lived under the poverty level so she could identify with the people she helped--and so she wouldn't have to pay taxes that would be used for military purposes. She was a pacifist.

Twice, she accompanied survivors (hibakusha, fire-bombed people) around the world as they shared their personal experiences of the horror of nuclear war and appealed for the abolishment of nuclear weapons, so that no one anywhere would have to suffer what they had suffered.

She adopted Hiro Hanabusa, a boy orphaned by the atomic bomb, even arranging a marriage for him with Atsuko, the young woman he loved. (The photo at the top is of Mum holding Mayumi, the first of their seven children!)

Without sponsorship or steady income she moved to Long Beach, California and for ten years met traumatized refugees from the killing fields of Cambodia, helping them settle into what they hoped would be a temporary homeland. She helped them learn English, find jobs, housing, schools for their children. When one family knowing no English had to face the death of their mother, she filled out paperwork for the burial and even loaned them her own lipstick to touch up the lips of the corpse. (They gave it back afterward and she resumed using it herself.)

Clockwise: Jenny, mother Dao, Diep, Annie, Mum
After petitioning Congress for eight years to let a Vietnamese friend, Mai Thanh Dao, leave Communist-held Saigon with half-American orphans whose lives were at risk, Mum welcomed the four of them to the U.S. and took them to live with her in her own one-bedroom apartment.

When she moved back to Ohio, Mum set up the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio, to house the largest collection of materials on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and nuclear war in the United States. At the same time she advertised in the local paper, "Grandmother far from children willing to babysit children far from grandmother." Lonely mothers flocked to her with children needing a grandma's love. For all these things, she won a WonderWoman Award in 1984.

She was my mother, my toughest editor, my biggest fan and my "funnest" friend. The compliment I treasure most was from a friend who said I am just like her. I hope I can live up to that. She went to heaven 21 years ago and every day I look forward with anticipation to seeing her again.

(Slightly modified from His Scribe, May 9, 2010. Jerry and I look forward to seeing Hiro again in Hiroshima next month!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

HIROSHIMA: My nephew Tony wants to come!

When I sent out a general invitation to my extended family-of-origin (the one my niece Lisa responded to from Afghanistan), my 49-year old nephew Anthony, a trucker in Harlingen, Texas wrote back, "I wanted to tell you that in answer to your question, would I go to Hiroshima if money were no object. The answer is yes. I would be proud to go to Grandma Barbara's Ceremony. I think its wonderful that they are recognising her. The summers I spent with her were incredible getting arrested at the pentagon, church in south Chicago and Watts. I even shot air rifles at a target range in her friends basement once. I bet not many people can say they went shooting with Barbara Reynolds (except maybe on the Phoenix?). So, it its a real thing I will make the time."

On another occasion he wrote me, "She took me to the most interesting places. Once when she had Dao and her (Vietnamese) family living with her I told her the kids had picked something off the sidewalk and eaten it--and she said, 'You should have seen the things they ate in Viet Nam during the war!' Later she took me to a Vietnamese restaurant and I couldn't eat a thing."

She took me to an anti-nuclear protest when I was four. She got arrested and our picture was in the paper. One of the guards told her, 'Shame on you for bringing your grandson here!' and the sergeant said, 'She did that so my grandson won't have to go through a nuclear war.'"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

HIROSHIMA: Monument to my mother

"I, too, am a hibakusha" (nuclear bomb survivor)--in spirit
     The date has been decided. On June 12, which would have been her 96th birthday, a monument to my mother will be unveiled in Hiroshima's Peace Park.
     For her years of humanitarian and moral support to the survivors of the first two nuclear bombs dropped on human beings in 1945 and for founding the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima in 1965, the hibakusha (literally "fire-bombed people") determined to build a monument to her.
     It has been years in the making, involving the forming of a Monument Committee, the drawing up of plans by a design company, many changes in wording and photo used in the design, and permits from the International Peace Promotion Department, City of Hiroshima for permission to erect the monument in the SE corner of their Ground Zero.
     Not the least of the obstacles the committee had to overcome were the strong objections by some members of our family to spending money on a monument to Mum at all, and to calling attention to her rather than giving the money and attention to the survivors themselves. They pointed out that Mum herself opposed the idea during her life.
     But the hibakusha persisted.
     Others of us kept correcting, fine-tuning the English wording on the monument or preferring a different photo (the original choice, which was black and white, looked "grim," as my brother Ted put it).
      Each request for a change required that the Monument Committee reconvene to consider it. (Finally, I see, they scrapped the over-critiqued text and kept only one quote and the fact that Mum founded the World Friendship Center.)

This is the proposed monument, one of only three monuments dedicated to foreigners at Hirohima's Ground Zero.:
Monument to Barbara Reynolds, SE corner of Peace Park, Hiroshima

Lord willing, this is where Jerry and I will be on June 12.