I thought it might help the day go a bit easier if we give a few nods to someone else's 4th of July travels.
Military family travel travails
An already trying day seems to keep getting worse for an Army family who once traveleled to Japan over the holiday with three young children in tow. It goes like this:
'In 1961, over the 4th of July holiday, when my family and I was returning from an overseas tour of duty at an American embassy in Asia we decided that since we had never been able to travel together in that part of the world, and would no doubt never again have such an opportunity, we would deviate from our route and go “space-available” (space-A) on military aircraft to Japan for a few days. I made reservations for us and our three sons, ages 5, 3, and 1, at a military rest hotel in Tokyo. Anyone who has traveled space-A on military airlift knows it can be a trying and - - predictably difficult experience. We were bumped along the way and arrived in Tokyo just after midnight, a day late. (probably somebody’s dirty laundry had a higher priority that a family of free-loading hitchikers.)
The hotel was on the opposite side of the city and the ride in an over- loaded taxi was a hair-raising experience. (For those who were never in a Japanese taxi in the middle of the night in Tokyo will just have to take my word for it.) The three boys had slept through the entire flight and were raring to go. The taxi driver helped us unload our pile of luggage into the empty hotel lobby - - - a very plush affair with thick carpet and overstuffed chairs.
After paying the taxi driver, I went up to the front desk to check in. The Japanese night clerk consulted his register and in his most sincere bow, expressed sincere oriental embarrassment and loss of face said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I do not have you listed". I admitted I was a day late, but explained that the reservation was for three days and I had been unable to notify him of the delay. The clerk found my reservation a page back in his ledger and with even deeper tones of lost honor said, "I'm sorry, but because you were not here, we had to give your room to someone else. I'm afraid we're now all booked up".
"Well," I said, "there is nothing we can do until the morning, so we will just have to spend the night here in the lobby."
My wife, who had been awake since 5 a.m. the previous day, already was sound asleep in a chair. Our 5-year-old had discovered his first rotary magazine rack and was spinning it wildly, sending magazines flying in all directions. Our 3-year-old had wet his pants and was jumping up and down in front of his mother. And even our 1 year-old was in on the act. On the flight that day he had learned he could spit repeatedly without running out of saliva. He was leaning over the front of his stroller spitting on the carpet, again, and again, and again.
As I turned to walk over to join the group the clerk tugged at my sleeve said, ”Wait, let me look again;” He went back to his ledger and, with his expression of sadness changing to roses and cherry blossoms, lo and behold, found an empty room.
In reading that story it occurred to me that this military man was using his head, never mind the midnight taxi ride in a compact sized Japanese taxi of the day with a family of 5 and all their luggage.
Crossing the Pacific ocean in those days was at least a two day affair, with fuel stops the only break in the seemingly never-ending monotony. Going west you lose a day because of the International date line, and coming east you get to live the same day twice for the same reason. So who in his right mind would want to spend two 4ths of July, back to back, cramped up on an airplane with an ever more growing grumpy wife and three rug rats when he could spend one 4th of July in Tokyo, see some sights and hope to have everybody so tired from the experience that they'd sleep the next two days and only wake up after the trip was over.