Number 10 Dixwell Road

Hongkew, where we lived at #10 Dixwell Road, was a district in Shanghai before the commies changed names drastically, most of the new ones commemorating their bloody revolution.
<br>There was a large Japanese community living there and during WWII pedestrians were frequently accosted by women and children asking you to contribute a single stroke of an ink brush on a white silk scarf. They showed you where to place the stroke, which was part of a Japanese ideogram signifying “Victory” or “Strength” or some such word for the Kamikaze pilot destined to wear the scarf.

I was eight or nine years old at the time and was ineligible to do anything of the sort, but my parents and 11-year-older sister were stopped. I don’t recall whether they added a stroke or not, but they were not sympathetic to the Japanese side of the war. Did they add a stroke on the scarf? I don’t know, and as a child didn’t have any interest in knowing. And I think the destinies of Kamikaze pilots were not so widely understood at the time. Think of it, though. The hapless men going up for the final time in their lives believing fiercely in their mission. If their war could have been won on their determination and sacrifice alone, it would have been.

And now, in the frequent turnarounds of history, they are our allies, and China — once the U.S.’s ally — is at a standoff with us and only friendly through commercial ties. And Russia? Never mind. Germany an ally as well, though our ties have become…..strained lately, in a diplomatic sense. Our globe spins faster and faster due to technology, populations pile upon each other, breathing good air is becoming a rarity, wildlife is killed off — elephants persecuted for the sake of money and art — and I don’t want to be around in this life much longer.

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