Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Cleaning in Astoria Yields WW2 Artifact

In a sudden spurt of premature spring fever, I have decided to attack the dreaded store-room on the second floor, which was stacked to the ceiling with boxes I've lugged around with me for years. Decades, actually.

This sudden burst of energy is due to the coming market season. The bottom floor of the house, specifically the kitchen, is over-packed (okay, cluttered) with all of my photo stuff. Boxes of photos, boxes of mats, and an endless array of photographic odds and ends. I thought it might be a good idea to make the kitchen usable again, tho I don't know why, as I hate to cook.

I digress ... as lovely as it is to sit at the kitchen table and enjoy the wonderful Columbia River view while I mat my prints, it is a major pain in the ass to trip over photo stuff to get to the washer. Or to have an entire counter-space totally cluttered with photo crap. Having to worry about irate cats taking their feline frustrations out on my work is also a consideration. Hence the concept of making the store-room upstairs my new matting studio, where I can mat my photos in a cat-free environment, and restore the kitchen (albeit probably still cooking-free) to being a kitchen.

Back to the store-room. I have been lugging and tugging, and repacking for days. Today I finally got down to suitcases I packed in 1991 in Connecticut when I was emptying out my parents' house after they died. No, they hadn't been unpacked since then.

Anyway, in one of the suitcases I found a Japanese flag from WW2, with the red rising sun, and a ton of Japanese characters handwritten on it. After a bit of research, I found that when a Japanese soldier went off to war, his family and the people in his village would write good wishes and prayers on a flag, and he would wear the flag folded up under his uniform. Upon his death, the flag was supposed to be returned to his family.

Here's some photos of the flag:

Japanese WW2 Flag

I remember my father telling me that someone gave him the flag when he was stationed on Guam as a Navy doctor. For some reason, this flag didn't get returned to the family, although my father always intended to do so. Tonight I did a little research. The places to inquire about returning WW2 Japanese artifacts are here:

Returning Japanese WW II Artifacts

They require a form to be filled out, and lots of photos of the artifact, and it can take up to a year for them to try to identify the origin. I filled out the form, and mailed it, along with a CD of high-resolution images of the flag, to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles. So I've done my bit to get the flag back to the soldier's family.

I can't help but wonder what else is stashed away in that room now that I'm getting down to the boxes that haven't been touched for 15 years.

Astoria Photografpix

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