The Story of Larry: Arrival of Larry

…a little later than expected, but very welcome!
July 8, 1960


Grampie was due to arrive on my birthday on June 27th. Another missionary couple was also going to have a baby soon. Arrangements had been made for a missionary doctor to come and deliver both babies. Bobby arrived as planned but not Grampie. He wasn’t quite ready to enter this world yet.

So the day after he was ‘due’ to arrive, GGpa and I got on a train that took us to Tokyo. It was a long train ride - about 8 hours to Ueno station in Tokyo. There we caught another train to Higashi Kurume where the Christian Academy (CAJ) was. That was where GGma was the music teacher for 2 years before GGpa and I were married.

It was school holidays so the little girls dorm was empty. We took over the bottom of two bunk beds. During the day we took lots of long walks. After a couple of weeks one night a little after midnight, I wakened GGpa and told him it was time to go to the hospital because Grampie was ready to make his appearance.

GGpa went to the neighbour’s house and woke them up. Jack drove us to the hospital about 20 minutes away.

GGpa was getting hungry, so he asked if there would be time for him to go get some breakfast before the baby would be born. The doc said, “Sure. This is a first baby, so it will take a while.” Well, it didn’t take very long, so when GGpa came back from his breakfast Grampie had made his appearance!

In the extra time we had waited for Grampie to be born, he got to be a strong little baby. I could hear him crying all the way down the hospital hall!

When Grampie was about a week old, we rode the same trains back to our home in Nagaoka.

He was a unique sight to the other people who were waiting along with us for the second train.

Baby Larry on the train

At home in our upstairs apartment, we all slept under a large mosquito net.

We didn’t want Grampie’s crying to disturb our landlords who lived downstairs. We discovered that one way we could stop him from crying was to turn on the vacuum cleaner. The sound of motors intrigued him from the time he was a baby.

We rented the upstairs in a Japanese home that was out in the country with fields all around. Things grew very well because they were fertilized with ‘night soil,’ the contents of the toilet downstairs! There were rats around that came around looking for tidbits to eat. There were cats too. At times we heard a cat up in the attic jumping trying to catch a rat.

I must interrupt the story to tell you a back story that is funny now, but wasn’t at the time. It happened about the time that God had started knitting Grampie in my tummy. This is what I wrote to my mother, Grampie’s grandma, Nahnee, about it:

"We had quite a time here a little while after we had gone to bed last night. First we heard something fall in the other room. Then we heard some little foot prints, then we heard some more things fall. After a few minutes Leslie got up and looked. Some of the gadgets that we had sitting on the ledges above the door were on the floor, and the persimmon in the vase had been eaten off.

Sunday Mrs. Sekigawa gave me some of the shibui persimmons, they are the kind that make the mouth pucker up. She said to put them in a vase instead of flowers, because they were not good to eat. The rat must have enjoyed it. When Les went into the living room he chased the rat out of the corner, and it came into the bedroom and ran around - up the curtain, then jumped on my pillow, then back on the floor, and around into the other room. Les tried to catch him, but he was too quick. We thought he was in the bedroom, but couldn’t find him, so closed the doors and went to sleep.

Later on I woke up to the sound of more things falling, and the rat running around. He must have eaten a little too much persimmon, because he sure left a mess all over. Especially on the piano there was dirt and wet in several places. It is a good thing that the piano was well waxed so it didn’t ruin the finish. Needless to say, we remembered to buy poison finally, today! It is supposed to make him crazy. Bob Spaulding said they fed that kind to some rats where they used to live. They walked into the kitchen one night and saw a rat dancing a jig on his hind feet! Bob got the broom and clobbered him."

I’ll tell you one more rat story...

GGpa went to an old peoples home for Bible study meetings while I stayed home. Returning from a meeting one evening, I heard him coming up the steps and called out to him from the other room to tell him there were cookies on a plate for him in the kitchen. Pretty soon he said, "There is a plate here, but no cookies on it." I guess the rat had enjoyed all of the cookies intended for GGpa!

Enough about cats and rats for the time being!

Our landlords, the Sekigawas, were a kind and hospitable couple. They had a granddaughter just a bit older than Grampie. Sometimes they babysat the little girl. They invited us down to their place, and I invited them up to our place. One time Mrs. Sekigawa was dressed in her beautiful kimono when they came up to our place. She wanted to hold Grampie, which was fine with me, but I was a bit worried because he often spit up. And then it happened ... all over her beautiful kimono! I was so embarrassed!

They let us put our wringer washing machine in their downstairs ‘ofuro’, Japanese bath. There was just enough room for it beside the wooden bath tub where they heated the water. And there was still enough room for us to wash ourselves before getting into the hot water to soak. Sometimes when I would be sitting still and soaking, there would be little critters that poked their heads up through little holes in the window sill. If I tapped on the tub, they would disappear. Then after sitting still for a while, they came up again and looked around. I wonder if they ever came out?

Before Grampie was born, GGpa had built a little cabin at Lake Nojiri in the mountains where it was a lot cooler than in the city. Grampie is seven weeks old here, having his bath in the sink at Nojiri!

Larry being bathed in a basin
2020-11-21 updated 2022-12-27   © 2023 Larry Grove