Kobe Beef, Pizza Party & Carolers

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Kobe Beef, Pizza Party & Carolers

It was now October of 1969 and we did not have any more typhoons, habus or flying doors.  The “Stealy Boys” would always be a threat but Frank and I had learned to live with that.

On October 4, 1969, Frank turned twenty years old then on October 6, 1969, I also turned twenty years old.  The single GIs that were our close friends invited us to go out to dinner with them.  They took us to a fancy restaurant in Naha, Okinawa.

When we got to the restaurant and once inside, we were seated on three sides of a large U-shaped bar that had bar stools around it.  There was a large grill in the middle of the U-shape which actually attached to the three sides of the bar.  An opening behind the grill was for the Itamae (chef).

As we sat there watching the Itamae cook for us, I was totally amazed at the way he used his knives to cut, toss, turn then flip the food onto our individual plates.  We were all served, Kobe beef which is absolutely the most tender, moist, melt-in-your-mouth meat I have ever eaten.

Kobe beef on a grill

Kobe Beef on the Grill

The Itamae put real butter on the grill with garlic then added a huge chunk of Kobe beef the size of a large roast on top of the butter then the fun started as he used his knives to cut, toss and turn the meat while also doing vegetables on the other side of the grill.

He asked how we wanted our meat cooked and when he had it cooked just the way we wanted it, he flipped small chunks of it onto our plates in seconds.  Vegetables grilled in butter and garlic were then flipped on to our plates too.  The Itamae saved the bean sprouts for last which were also done in butter and garlic.  I can not think of a good enough word to describe the taste of bean sprouts, except totally awesome.

We also had sake which was served warm in small oriental ceramic cups.  Sake is made from fermented rice starch water converted to sugar then added yeast which once fermented makes it into an alcoholic drink.  Just believe me when I tell you, you do not need to drink but a little of this at one time.

Sake Ceramic Serving Set

Sake Ceramic Serving Set

Frank and I were so grateful to the single GIs for buying us such an amazing meal for our birthdays.  We thanked them over and over knowing neither of us would ever forget that meal or could ever have afforded it.  They told us we were more than welcome and they couldn’t wait to eat some more home cooked meals at our home.  Pretty sure my cooking did not come close to matching that of the Itamae.

Talking about food, let’s go on to the next story. Enjoy!

“Pizza Party”

Frank was getting ready to go to work on his last evening shift meaning he would have a day off the next day when he asked me how I was feeling.  I told him great and if he wanted to he could invite the single GIs over after work for some homemade late night pizza.  I was so excited for Frank to finally have a day off and the single guys were always fun to have around.  They reminded me so much of my four brothers who were so far away.  Since it would be late after they ate, they would all end up crashing on the living room floor then Frank and I would cook them breakfast the next morning.

After Frank left for work in “Ole” Bondo, I cleaned up the house then started making yeast dough for the crust of the pizzas. While the dough was going through its rising process, I cooked some hamburger in the skillet then drained the grease off and put it into a bowl.  We didn’t have pepperoni, sausage or ham but we did have cans of that “mystery meat” called spam, so I opened three cans of spam and cut that “mystery meat” up into chunks then put it into another bowl.

I made pizza sauce then while it was simmering in the pan on the stove, chopped up some onions then used my hand-grater to grate a large chunk of cheese. We did not have pizza pans but I had four large cookie sheets.  Since the pizza dough was ready to spread out into the pans, I  split the dough into four pieces then spread it out covering the bottoms and edges of each pan.

Next, I spooned the pizza sauce onto the top of the dough in each pan, spreading it out to the edges, added to each pan equally the hamburger, chunked spam, onions, and topped it off the grated cheese then put the pizzas into to the refrigerator until time to cook them.

After washing then drying the dishes and cleaning up the mess that was made, I went into the living room and sat down for a while then after a few minutes, got up to go see if the clothes were dry on the clothesline.  Since it had been raining for days Frank and I had put up some clotheslines in one of the spare bedrooms next to the washroom.  The clothes were dry, so I folded them then put them away where they belonged.

A couple of days earlier, I had come down with a cold with a slight fever which was making me kinda tired so I went back to the living and sat back down.  Frank was such a worry wart about me that I could not let him know if I was not feeling well because then he would make me go to bed.  So, I had really tried to hide my cold from him.

Frank would be getting off from work at 11:00 p.m. which meant he would be home around 11:30 p.m. with our friends.  Since we had a very small apartment size oven, at 11:00 p.m. I started cooking the pizzas two at a time.  I kept thinking and worrying about Frank driving in the rain because of those slick tires on “Ole” Bondo.  It seemed like the rain was getting heavier every time I looked out of our front door.

After the pizzas were done, I looked at the clock and knew that Frank and the guys would be arriving any minute.  Thirty more minutes passed by but Frank was not home then I began to really worry.  We did not have a telephone and Frank had driven our only car to work.

At 12:30 a.m., I could not wait any longer.  We had some friends that lived down near the China Seawall, so I decided to walk to their home.  I didn’t have a flashlight or an umbrella, so I just went like I was.  The husband of these friends worked with Frank and was on the same shift, so I prayed that he and his wife were still awake.

After practically running the whole way to our friends home, after I  finally got to their door, the lights were still on in their home.  I knocked on the door and the husband answered.  He looked a little shocked to see me standing there soaking wet but asked me to come inside then ran to get a towel so I could dry off a little.

Anxious but trying to stay calm, I told him why I had come to his home.  Without hesitation, he told me that he would drive me to Torii Base and we would search along the route for any cars that might have slid off the road.

All the way to Torii Station, we searched but did not see any cars off of the road. When we arrived at the base, he drove to the building where he and Frank worked, parked the car then went inside.  While he was inside the building,  I sat in the car and searched the parking lot with my eyes for our car but it was not there.

Finally, after a few minutes, our friend came out of the building then told me that Frank was not in the building but he was okay and he would drive me back home.

I looked at him in disbelief while saying, “Where is he?  Where is our car? I am really scared.  Please, take me to him.”

He looked at me with concern in his eyes then said, “Nancy, it’s okay,  I will take you to him.”

We only went three blocks in his car when we arrived at the Service Men’s Club.  Sitting in the parking lot parked near the front door of the club sat “Ole” Bondo.  I looked at our friend and I am sure that he saw the combined look of relief yet the fire of fury in my eyes.

He told me, “Nancy you stay put.  I will go inside and send Frank out to you. You are all wet still.  Anyway, I think I need a beer.”

Have you ever been so relieved but so upset with someone that you just have trouble breathing?  That was me at that very moment but I decided to get out of our friend’s car, walk over to then get into “Ole” Bondo.  I got into the driver’s seat and waited.

Frank emerged from the building smiling with those “killer dimples” and weaving down the sidewalk.  Thinking to myself as I watched him, “Why does he have to have does darn “Melt Nancy’s Heart Dimples”?  Why am I suddenly not upset with him? Do not look at him when he gets into the car or the dimples will melt you. Just give him the silent treatment.”

Once he got to the car, Frank opened the passenger door and climbed into the seat closing the door once he was in.  I stretched my arm towards him with hand palm up then he gave me the keys to the car which I started then backed the car up. The car was so quiet you could hear a pin drop as we started the drive home when out of nowhere Frank broke the silence.

Frank:  “Nancy, are you mad at me?”

Me:  (silence: thinking, “Just a tad”)

Frank:  “Why are you all wet?”

Me:  (silence: thinking, “Maybe walking a mile in the rain?”)

Frank:  “How’s your cold?”

Me:  (silence: thinking, “Could be better, Mister.”)

Frank:  “Come on Nancy, why don’t you just yell at me are something?”

Me:  (silence thinking, “Not going to, trying to avoid those dimples. Anyway, this is more fun.”)

Frank:  “I’m sorry, we were just going to have one beer then we lost track of the time.”

Me:  (silence: thinking, “Maybe you need a new watch?”)

Frank:  “Please, look at me.”

Me:  (silence: thinking, “Not gonna look at those melt me Dimples.”)

Frank:  “Nancy, please talk to me.”

Me:  (silence; thinking, “Why this is working out so well”)

Frank:  “I love you, Nancy”

Me:  (silence: thinking, ” Dang it Frank, you nearly broke my silence.  Thank God we are home.”)

Finally, I drove the car into the driveway at our home.  We got out of the car and walked into the house with me trying my best not to look at Frank or laugh.  I wanted so much to tell him how much I loved him but knowing if I looked at him he would melt me with those dimples.

While walking through the kitchen then stopping at our bedroom door, I pointed at the pizzas on the kitchen counter then broke my silence by saying,  “There’s your supper Frank.” ent

After entering the bedroom then closing the bedroom door, I put my head into the pillow on our bed to muffle my laughter.  I loved this “Dimple Faced Man”, was so thankful that he was okay, and really just wanted to run back to that kitchen then hug him tightly.

Suddenly, Frank yelled from the kitchen,  “Great pizza Nancy!  Do I have to sleep on the couch?  The couch is kinda small!”

I turned off the bedroom light and walked to the bedroom door opening it so Frank would know where he could sleep then I got into our bed waiting for him to come to bed.  Frank stumbled to the bed, laid down, and I scooted over next to him taking my position by him laying my head on his chest with his arm wrapped around me then said, “I love you so much, Frank Henderson” but he didn’t hear me because he was already peacefully asleep and soon I was peacefully asleep by his side.

Frank and I were lost in sleep until I was suddenly awakened by loud singing outside our bedroom window.  I shook Frank to wake him.  Frank was groggy but he quickly sat up in bed.

When we looked out the window, there they were, our single GI friends, sitting in a circle in our yard singing and drinking Akadama Wine, a cheap red wine, in the rain.  Frank and I started laughing as we ran to the front door to get outside to quieten them down so they wouldn’t wake the whole world.

bottle of Akadama Wine

Akadama Wine, a Red
Wine

After we got to them inside the house, one of them told me through his slurring that they had come to tell me that it was their fault that Frank had not come home on time because they kept buying him beers and that they were all really sorry.

I started laughing then told them all, “Frank is a big boy and you are not to blame.  Anyway, he is not in trouble.  I am just so thankful he is okay.  Now let’s talk about you all singing loudly in the front yard at 5:00 in the morning but first let me fix you all some breakfast.  How about cold pizza?”

After Frank and I made them a real breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits with homemade gravy, they all passed out in sleep all over the living room.  We covered them up with blankets then Frank and I went back to bed.

As we laid there, Frank smiled at me with those “amazing dimples” and it was all good.

<<<<< Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Lol….just when I was thinking Nancylou was going to blow a gasket she showed why Frank was the luckiest guy in the world!

    • Thank you, Kim that is one of my favorite stories. Thinking the silence was a bigger punishment than if I had spoken. I see this all so clearly in my mind. Frank knew the power his dimples had over me and he actually writes about it in a letter he wrote to me from Vietnam.
      Stay with me, so many fun stories to come.
      God Bless You, Kim.
      Nancy

  2. Looking forward to reading them…gby

    • Thank you, Kim that means a lot to me.
      God Bless You,
      Nancy

  3. It’s funny that before I even started to read this story, I noticed those huge dimples in the photo and planned on mentioning them. Then they became a big part of the story. You were so forgiving, and that comes with the love. Another great story. Just 4 more to go to catch up. That is if you don’t get more posted before I get there. 🙂

    • Thank you, Diane. I could not stay upset with him and I didn’t mind him being with the guys. I just needed to know he was okay. Our love was true and so deep.
      God Bless You, Diane,
      Nancy

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