Daily Archives: 4 July 2010

The Making of “Uncle Goat”

From: Comfort All Who Mourn: The Life Story of Herbert and Madeline Nicholson, by Herbert V. Nicholson and Margaret Wilke (Bookmates International, 1982), pp. 137-140:

We sailed for Japan on the Flying Scud with two hundred fifty goats. Dick Clark, an expert photographer, was on board with color movie film to record the trip. When it was over he edited some two thousand feet of film into “Ambaassadors of Peace,” the record of our trip with the emphasis on “baa.” Besides Dick and his camera there was Al Brower, a ventriloquist with his doll Bill, Les Yoder, a Mennonite young man who came along to help, and Ty Nagano, a Nisei.

We arrived in May, which happened to be kidding time. We started with two hundred fifty goats and landed with two hundred sixty five! Just before we reached Yokohama, I was called from bed in the middle of the night. There was trouble in the maternity ward. I found “Temperance,” given by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, in agony. She was having a breech delivery. Everyone was standing around not knowing what to do, so I rolled up my sleeves to help. I managed to get hold of the kid’s legs and pulled while Temperance pushed, and out came a beautiful large doe. We named her Kiyoko, which means “pure.”

When we landed in Yokohama, there was a welcome meeting for us. On that occasion, I told the story of a young Nisei girl, Satomi Yasui, and her family in America who had raised four goats for our project. The Japanese Vice-Minister for Agriculture who was present at the meeting told me afterward that I should tell the story over the radio for the children’s hour. So I went to the NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Company) office in Tokyo, but I was told that getting clearance for me to speak on the air would take six months.

Instead, I told the story to a newsman, a reporter for the women’s hour, and to a young man for the children’s hour. The young man elaborated on my story in his talk over the air. Another man heard the program and wrote it down for a large children’s magazine, adding even more changes. Finally, with more additions, the story was put into a fifth grade reader, and I became known as “Uncle Goat.”

In the reader, the story was no longer about Satomi, but about a boy named Harry whose father had been killed in the war with Japan. It was a very touching story about the sympathetic love of a lad who sacrificed to send a goat to the children of the man who had killed his father. In later years the printing of that story in the reader opened the way for me to speak in many schools all over Japan where I might otherwise never have had the opportunity….

At Honolulu [on the way back home to the States] I was “bumped off” the flight for someone of higher priority. It was four days before I could get another flight, so I used the time to tell the people in Hawaii about the goat project. The Okinawans living in Hawaii sent me a total of $35,000 for goats as a result of that visit. With the money, Heifers for Relief was able to send over five thousand goats to both Japan and Okinawa. After four wonderful days I made it back to San Francisco just in time to help send off the next load of goats.

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Filed under education, Japan, NGOs, U.S., war

The Heifer Project’s First Goats for Okinawa

From: Comfort All Who Mourn: The Life Story of Herbert and Madeline Nicholson, by Herbert V. Nicholson and Margaret Wilke (Bookmates International, 1982), pp. 127-129:

An organization called Heifers for Relief, sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, decided to accept my offer to raise money and take goats to war-torn Japan.

Milk was in desperately short supply overseas and the Japanese children were being severely affected by the shortage. Ordinarily the Heifer project sent only bred heifers to ravaged areas. In this case, goats answered the need more readily, so goats were sent for the first time in its history. Later they sent all sorts of farm animals to many countries and aided poor farmers in the United States as well.*

When I received approval of the goat project I went to work. I raised a good part of the money and bought most of the goats myself. Then I gathered a little group of men to accompany me on the first trip. Sim Togasaki, a Nisei from San Francisco, wanted to come because he needed to make contacts in Japan for his importing business. Although he knew nothing about goats, he was a hard worker and a great help because he spoke fluent Japanese. Ted Roberts, a dairyman who had always been interested in the Japanese, and Paul McCracken, a goat expert, also came with us. Paul was a Quaker, too, so I was glad to have him along. My son Samuel also came. He took color slides everywhere which later were a great help in raising money for more goats.

In October, 1947, we arrived in San Francisco ready to load up for a trip when we found, to our great disappointment, that the Army had decided to send us to Okinawa rather than Japan! The following load would be scheduled for Japan. That disappointment was to become God’s surprise for us. What lay ahead was a wonderful adventure.

The Army had built pens for our two hundred goats on the rear deck of the Simon Benson, a small liberty ship which was not in good shape. We had a rough trip across the Pacific and were very relieved when we reached Okinawa safely. Later we learned that on its next trip the ship had split open! It was easy to believe.

Our arrival in Okinawa was an unforgettable experience. The harbor at Naha was full of sunken ships. The city had been completely destroyed. We could only stare in shock and pity.

We received a warm welcome and were greeted by the governor and other dignitaries. It was a delight to discover that Mr. Shikiya, the governor, was a Christian. After the ceremonies, in which we presented a goat to the community, we milked the remainder of our goats and took the milk to an orphanage.

We discovered that we were to be housed at the Military Government Headquarters across the island from Naha. Our escort there was a former missionary to Japan, Everett Thompson, who was in charge of LARA (Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia). The occupation forces did not want to work with a lot of separate relief organizations, so they formed this agency to coordinate all relief efforts. The Heifer project joined LARA, as did the Church World Service, the Friends’ Service Committee, and many others.

At the Military Government Headquarters we were taken to the officers’ quarters. What a surprise to discover that we goatherds were classed as colonels.

* Nicholson seems to have been unaware that the Heifer project had already been sending horses and chickens as well as cattle to war-torn Europe in 1946.

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Filed under Japan, military, NGOs, religion, U.S., war