The August Moon

Many of you older folks may remember the 1956 movie, ‘Teahouse of The August Moon,” starring Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford. It was a satire of the U.S. occupation and Americanization  of the island of Okinawa. 

After serving 10 months aboard an aircraft carrier in the Western Pacific, I was assigned to Commander Fleet Activities-Ryukyus, with Okinawa being one of the Ryukyu chain of islands southwest of Japan. I worked under a lieutenant commander with oversight from the base commander. It was great duty — exciting, challenging, sometimes dangerous but always achievable. While on Okinawa, I had the once in a lifetime honor and privilege to attend a function at the Tea House of The August Moon as the island’s Navy representative. 

This is my story: One afternoon, my lieutenant commander summoned me to his office to ask me for a favor. Would I fill in for him one evening at a function at The August Moon? I agreed and he said to include my wife, Yoshi. The reception, presented by the Okinawan Chamber of Commerce, was an elaborate event involving several hours of  dining and entertainment. I was to dress casually and pass myself off as a lieutenant commander. It was quite a stretch — my rank was as a second class non-commissioned officer. 

Most non-commissioned officers run the military. Strict deference to authority and chain of command is enforced. Smart officers listen to their non-coms. I was told to keep my eyes and ears open for useful information. 

It appeared to be an all expense paid fun night. The venue proved to surpass my wildest expectations. The August Moon exuded opulence, elegance and splendor with a delicate balance of charming atmosphere, which provided unbelievable service, hospitality and courtesy. 

We entered by an alcove and were ushered in by two elderly gentlemen who took our shoes and coats to store, and providing us new slippers. Our coats were taken to be brushed and our shoes to be shined so bright they looked like mirrors, all to be claimed upon our departure. We were escorted to a large tatami room with low tables adorned with a flower and bird design. Drinks were immediately served and refreshed every 15 minutes, regardless of their content. There were appetizers galore presented for over an hour. 

I was seated beside  a  lady in her mid-50s, who obviously had a head start on the liquid refreshment. She was semi-annoying and extremely distracting. She examined my nameplate and remarked I appeared awfully young to be a lieutenant commander. I thanked her for the compliment and replied, “Many others have often said the same.”  Thankfully, this seemed to appease her. 

Entrées were served, featuring Oriental, French, Italian and American cuisine. We chose Kobe beef prime rib with much to supplement it. On an elevated stage in front of us, Japanese folk songs, Kabuki and ’60s music were performed by talented individuals. The night passed quickly. 

We left thoroughly satiated and hydrated after claiming our coats and shoes and tipped the ushers for their excellent service. 

This was one of several experiences on Okinawa that will remain forever in my mind. But never once while I was at the Tea House of The August Moon did I have a single cup of tea. 

God bless you, faithful readers, and your families. Don’t forget to say a little prayer for our selfless health care workers and first responders. 

Stay safe and enjoy what’s left of your summer as best as you can.

Till next time…

 

Millerton resident Larry Conklin is a Vietnam veteran who is a member of both the American Legion Post 178 in Millerton, N.Y., and the Couch-Pipa VFW Post 6851 in North Canaan, Conn.

Latest News

Joy at The Playhouse

The Sharon Playhouse honors Bobbie Olsen at its annual Spotlight Gala.

Justin Boccitto

The Annual Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala cast their theater light upon a worthy honoree this year: Bobbie Olsen, Bobbie Olsen, former president of The Playhouse board and namesake of a well-known location, The Bobbie Olsen Theatre, where residents pack the seats each summer to see the mainstage production plays and musicals. Held on Saturday, June 1, the dinner, cocktail, and musical review at the Olsen Theatre was a celebration of all she has contributed to keeping live theater active and alive in Sharon, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bobbie Olsen is an incredible supporter of not just this theater, but this community,” said Sharon Playhouse Artistic Director Carl Andress. “She supports the Sharon Playhouse in her leadership, and in the beauty of her person-hood. We’re just so grateful that she’s been in our lives and that she continues to be such a good friend to the theater, Sharon Playhouse, and the theater in general.”

Keep ReadingShow less
NWCT Arts Council: Arts Connected

Matica Circus duo from Harwinton, Connecticut performing at NWCT ARTS Connected event in May

Jennifer Almquist

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council (NWCT Arts) recently held Arts Connected, their first fundraiser, at the Spring Hill Vineyard in Washington, Connecticut. The evening celebration, a combination of Fellini movie, carnival, and Renaissance Fair, featured an aerialist from Matica Circus in Harwinton, and a flame and flow performer out in the courtyard under the stars. Momix, based in Washington Connecticut, under the artistic direction of founders Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, also performed. Two dancers wore Jeff Koons-style inflated red dog suits, and Momix dancer Jared Bogart wafted through the space wearing an immense, two-stories tall silk fan. Persian calligraphic painter Alibaba Awrang created a community work of art, while Ameen Mokdad, a violinist from Iraq, made music with Hartford’s Cuatro Puntos Ensemble. A young musician, Adelaide Punkin, performed an original song from the balcony of the vast space, while a giant puppet from Sova Dance and Puppet waltzed through the festivities. DJ Arvolyn Hill from Kent spun the tunes, an African drum circle set the rhythm, and there was abundant food and drink for the gathered crowd.

Keep ReadingShow less
Research and development

The catch of the day for the Tangled column of the week.

Patrick L. Sullivan

Fishing trips are rarely straightforward propositions. Over 52 years of flicking the baited hook, I have learned not to make plans with rigid schedules, because something always goes awry.

Last week I traveled deep into the wilds of Greene County, N.Y., for some research and development with my fishing guru Gary.

Keep ReadingShow less
The 18th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival

Actor Freddie Gibbs in “Down With The King,” which was filmed in Berkshire County and screened at BIFF.

Film still by Visit Films

The 18th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival began on Thursday, May 30, and ended on Sunday, June 2. (BIFF) features films, events, and special guests annually in Great Barrington and Lenox, Massachusetts. The festival gathers industry professionals and fans for a four-day celebration.

This year’s lineup featured documentaries, narrative features, short films, and an animated shorts selection for kids with stories from all over the world and Berkshire-based stories. To handle increased growth, the festival expanded to the Lenox Town Hall.

Keep ReadingShow less