For young Mary Lou, life was an adventure. Her father served in the military, and she traveled the world with him and her family. His assignments took them to Alaska, Virginia, Japan, Texas, and Germany, as part of the US Army’s responsibilities in policing the world. This candid memoir recounts her family’s life in new places and cultures following World War II.
What was it like to be a child living in Japan seven years after the war? What was it like to be a thirteen-year-old living in Germany twelve years after the war? What was it like to grow up moving between cultures?
This is the story of one family bound to service in the military at a time when the world was being redefined. For a young girl, it was the adventure of a lifetime as she learned the secrets of finding her own way in that new world.
The author’s story was informed by reading her father’s diary, which offers up intimate and candid insight into the life of a typical soldier in a time of war. His entries describe his time serving aboard a battleship built for 800 soldiers—but carrying 6,000 to war. His tales—told from the perspective of a young soldier in southern England, Wales, and Scotland from 1943 to 1945—are glimpses into a life many will never know firsthand.
Our first night in Tokyo the city seemed to be awake and moving well into the night. The sky was filled with colored lights. Traffic noise, horns, people walking on wooden getas, and talking, never quieted. The language fascinated me, but even though I had studied some basic Japanese words and phrases while we were on the ship, I could not understand it at all. After being reunited with my father, driven from the port in Yokohama, and graciously shown to our hotel room, we began to relax from an exhausting day. Luminous hands on the radio clock showed it was 3:30 am, and I was almost asleep when I heard a horrible screeching sound coming from outside our fourth floor hotel window. I bolted upright in my bed thinking someone had just been murdered under our window. My father only laughed and said it was the noodle man. I wondered why anyone would want to sell noodles, who would buy them in the middle of the night, and why anyone would want to sing about noodles. Later I learned that this was typical in Japanese cities at that time. The noodle man is similar to a popsicle man who used to drive through our neighborhood in Bellaire selling popsicles during the heat of the day. The noodle man was selling his wares in the middle of the night because the streets were filled with people throughout the night. Perhaps he was trying to earn extra money.
As a child, Mary Lou Darst traveled the world with her military family. She earned a BA in literature, an MS in multicultural studies, and a BA in visual and applied design. She taught English language arts and English as a second language.