My parents my brother, Lonnie (class of 68) and I arrived in Japan on September 2, 1966. My 14th birthday. I will never forget landing at the airport and the smells greeting us. Whew!!! My dad was in the Army and we were originally supposed to go to Camp Zama. I cannot really remember how we ended up going to Yokohama but, am so glad that we did. I remember staying at the Grand Hotel for a week or so and then we moved to Bayside Courts for a few more weeks. We ended up living in a Japanese house for about 6 months until quarters became available for us. We ended up living in Negishi Heights.
I will never forget those first few weeks of school. I had never been in a military base community and had always attended school with mostly civilian kids. I was fortunate, or thought I was, that unlike most kids I was raised pretty much in one town. I attended elementary school and junior high in the same town. What a change!!! Immediately I was made to feel like family and made friends easily. I did however, get teased quite a bit at first since I was from Texas and had that Texas drawl (and still do or so I am told).
While attending YOHI I became involved in the pep club, the President of the Red Cross, Freshman page at the Jr/Sr Prom, Prom committees both my sophomore and junior years, the sewing club and powder puff basketball and football games. Even though we were in a foreign country there always seemed to be something that you could belong to or get involved in. There did not seem to be the peer pressure or cliques like in the states and as military brats we all considered ourselves as equals. As President of the Red Cross I was able to attend a Red Cross youth camp one summer at the foot of Mt Fuji. I attended with other military brats from all different bases in Japan. That did give me the opportunity to see more of Japan than just our general base area. Also being involved in the Red Cross we went to Kishine hospital monthly and always had some kind of activities for the wounded servicemen. I remember one Christmas Eve going to the hospital and having a Christmas party for them and it was so touching. The guys could not believe that a bunch of 14-15 year old girls cared enough to give up their time to visit them and to try and make their Christmas a little nicer.
My fondest teacher would have to be dear Mrs. Sattre. She was such a sweetheart. I feel bad now that we used to sneak out of her class quite a bit and go hang out at the cafeteria. She was probably on to us but, we thought we were so sneaky.
The one friend that we have yet to find would be Dan Ito. He took me out the last night I was in Japan to a Bon Odori festival. I have searched quite a bit for him and hopefully as our YOHI world grows larger we might be able to come across him.
I returned to the states in August of 1969 as a senior. The original plan was to stay with my oldest brother (he did not go to Japan with us) in Carlsbad, NM. By the time we arrived there the company he was working for had moved to another location and he had moved back to Dallas. We made the decision at that time to return to Killeen, my hometown. I was excited to see old friends again however, things did not work out as I had hoped and I did not even attend my senior prom. My goal was to get out of school and move on. I moved to Dallas two weeks after graduating from high school and started working.
I started looking for alumni in March of 1998. My two daughters. Casey 24 and Traci 21 were grown, in college and doing their own thing. I realized that there was something missing in my life. The way the kids came and went in Japan sometimes there was not time to say goodbye before we left. I had kept in contact with a couple of very good friends until the early 80s. By that time we were all married and starting families and we lost touch. I knew who they had married and thought that they would be a good place to start looking. I got very lucky and found them very quickly. One name led to another and the searching became my hobby. Well that might be putting it mildly. With everyone I found, I wanted to find more. I enlisted the help of Cindy Mullen 72 since I knew it was going to be really hard to do it alone. We split up years and away we went. I did not keep numbers but I think in the last 2 ½ years we probably have found or made contact with over 400 alumni.
After talking to quite a few alumni we just knew we had to have a reunion. We were unlike most schools that had one every 10 years. Most of us had not seen each other in over 30 years and it was something that we all wanted/needed. Plans were thrown around, places discussed etc. Finally in September of 1999 we decided on Las Vegas and the planning began. There was no way that we could have been prepared for all that attended. We knew we would have a good reunion with a couple of hundred people. When it all came about we ended up with 400 plus, alumni, guests and faculty. The emotions that flowed during that weekend cannot be adequately described. It has brought our YOHI connection closer and made our bonds stronger. The Yohi World has become a very important part of my life and I am enthusiastic about it growing even larger as more and more alumni are found. Jim & Iva Hyatt have been a strong support for me and I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon their website over two years ago.
Another good thing that has happened from my involvement in the Yohi World is Bill Sims 68. We have reconnected and are now living in Sherman, Texas. We are already planning another reunion in Texas for 2001 and I have gotten him just as involved and excited about the YOHI World as I am.
If you remember me -- drop me a line! I look forward to hearing from my classmates!