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.

1 Comment

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

One response to “The Making of “Uncle Goat”

  1. Pingback: VIPs I Have Met « Peanut Country Preacher

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