As early as November 2007 I heard about a new Okinawa fictional book called "B.C. Street". I had filed away that information with good intentions of buying a copy but it had slipped my mind. I then received an e-mail (12/29/2007) from the author E (Ed).A. Cooper:
Dear Dr. Yoho,
Please be so kind as to search amazon.com and select BOOK category and key in the title, B.C. Street. The book is a recently released, coming-of-age novel with various undercurrent themes, weaving into the story what has become known as "the plight of the Okinawan." If you decide to purchase and read the novel--set in early postwar, military occupation days--please share your reaction with me.
Best wishes for The New Year,
E. (Ed) A. Cooper, Ed.D.
I contacted Ed and assured him I would buy a copy and asked about his background. He kindly replied on (12/30/2007) and not only related his life after okinawa but gave his reasons for writing this book:
I served in the Marine Corps from July 1962 to October 1966. Okinawa was my first duty assignment. I arrived on the main island in February of 1963. Later I served in Vietnam (July '65- May'66) and then utilized the GI Bill to attend college.
Somewhat a boat without a rudder, I earned my bachelor's degree in education with a teaching major in speech and drama. I taught a year at the high school level and then left to pursue graduate study. My master's program was taken in journalism following a radio-tv-film sequence. After a year's stint as a director of college relations, I returned to the university (UGA) and earned my doctorate in adult education.
Over the years, I have worked at six different colleges. Through most of that time, I served as a coordinator, director, and dean of adult and continuing education. I am now in my eleventh year at Albany Technical College where I serve as dean of evening programs.
My exposure to Asian culture in Japan and on Okianawa left an indelible impression. I was also intrigued by various political and socio-economic aspects of our military occupation and governance of Okinawa. My humanitarian feelings were heightened by the fact that we had returned self-rule to the Japanese but maintained strict governing power over an island people aready twice victimized by bullying powers--i.e., the Chinese (demanding tribute) and the Japanese (demanding complete submission).
Well, least I sermonize too much, suffice it to say, I've had mixed emotions about the situation on Okinawa for many years. On a very personal level, I've been concerned about the welfare of Okinawan women who, desperate for employment, served in the GI entertainment sector in various capacities. Their's was not a career track that I would wish upon my female friends or relatives.
Years have rolled by and, despite numerous demonstrations, the U.S. continues to dominate the Okinawan people. It seems to me that Okinawans are easily victimized because they lack a global voice. So, after many years of lingering concerns, I decided to write a novel set on Okinawa in the early 1960s, hoping that such a story might reach mainstream readers who lack famiilarity with the "plight of the Okinawan." I theorized that a romantic adventure would capture more attention than a historical treatise.
E.(Ed) A. Cooper
If you ever served on Okinawa especially in the early 1960's or served in the Marines, this book is a real trip down memory lane. The story's locations of Futenma, Koza, Sukiran, and Kadena brought back many memories of those places.
I had recently finished a web piece on the rediscovery of the Machinato Service area where I served from 1961-62 and found myself standing among the warehouses in the story. In my time, that area was mostly if not entirely Army and became Camp Kinser some time in the middle 60's.
The "Habu Club" in the story reminded me that one of our PsyOp missions was to scare the Marines, Airborne, and Special Forces troops with details about the poisonous Habu snake. I can remember one time in particular when a group of Marines surrounded our loudspeaker jeep and threatened us with bodily harm for just doing our duty.
The storyline trip on the troopship brought back some bitter memories for me as I returned to the states on the troopship J.C. Breckenridge in 1963. I end the Menu page with my brief account ("The Sun Sets On The 14th").
Armed Forces Radio and TV was mentioned a number of times but not B&VA Radio. Perhaps our unit radio shows were no longer broadcast when the author was on the island.
Although I have to admit I did spend some time at the "Clubs" on the island, I did not frequent B.C. Street. I hate to admit it but the reason was the area was visited mostly by Marines who for some unknown reason did not like us Army guys.
I am pleased the author painted a realistic picture of how the Okinawan people have been treated not only by Americans but by the Japanese. This makes me appreciate the recent efforts of Okinawans like Shizus (Alex) Kishaba, Chairman of the Ryukyu American Historical Society. (See Story)
In summary, I enjoyed and highly recommend this book. If you wish to purchase a copy you can do so at Amazon.com for $13.95 plus shipping.
Also, visit the author's "B.C Street" Web Page.
Contact E.A. Cooper
Tim Yoho (E-Mail)