The Story of Larry: Gosen

Grampie was happy in his new home! He greeted us with many happy smiles!

Baby Larry waking up happy

In October of 1960, when Grampie was 3 months old, we moved to Gosen. An acquaintance of one of the Christians in Gosen had a lumber yard and was building some new houses beside it. So arrangements were made for us to rent one of these new houses.

It was small. Our living room was 12 feet on a side, our bedroom was 6 by 9 feet and another room was 9 feet on a side. The kitchen was narrow: about 3 feet by 9 feet. The bathroom right next to the kitchen was large enough for our washing machine, but there was no bathtub. By the front door was a separate toilet room.

The house was not insulated, so in winter time it was very cold. The cold air would come in where the floor and walls met. When there was snow GGpa would pile the snow up against the house, and that helped to keep the wind out and the warmth in. When there was no snow, I put scotch tape over the cracks, and that helped to keep out the cold air.

On his first Christmas Grampie was fascinated with the lights on the Christmas tree.

Baby Larry looking at Christmas tree lights


TYPHOON IN GOSEN: A scary time

When Grampie was a year old, one day the wind started blowing very hard, and the power went off as I was having my bath. I had the kettle of hot water, but when the power went off there was no cold water available to mix with it. Oh-oh, I was all soapy. How would I rinse off?

Baby Grampie started crying because of the noise of the wind and breaking window glass. Rocks were flying around and roof pieces were being blown off. Some broke the windows in the room where Grampie was in his crib, and some hit and broke the glass in our front sliding doors. Grampie was scared!

As soon as I got dressed, I went and picked him up and sat holding him by the middle post of the house, away from windows. The house next to us moved from the strong wind. It was standing only on some big rocks with no foundation. Roofs on other houses nearby blew off. God protected us with only some broken windows. But I really don’t like wind!


How Grampie loved his breakfast! Once when we had a guest with us, he thought that Grampie was eating from the serving bowl! But that was not the serving bowl. That was how much he ate every morning. He loved being fed, but I thought he should begin feeding himself. I gave him a spoon, but he just cried when no one put his oatmeal into his mouth. Finally he caught on that he was supposed to do it himself!

Nahnee and Christy, Grampie’s cousin, came for a visit and to celebrate Grampie’s first birthday. Grampie got his first taste of ice cream from Nahnee’s bowl.

Little Larry eating and playing

There was no need to buy toys for Grampie! The kitchen cupboard had everything to keep him happy! Everyday he took them all out.

There was no bath tub in our bathroom. When it was cold, so we made do with what was available so that Grampie could have a bath in the living room where it was warm. For our baths GGpa and I heated water in the big kettle and took it into the bathroom to mix with cold water to pour over ourselves to rinse off the soap.

Grampie helped to wash dishes from the time he was little.

Larry on tip-toes washing dishes

Look, Mom, I can play the piano!

Little Larry pressing piano keys
Little Larry wearing a sweater

A couple of months after that scary typhoon, we took that long train ride to Tokyo to wait for Grampie’s baby sister to be born. When we brought her home we didn’t have a crib for her, but found a wicker basket that was just her size! The basket just fit on top of the Music Cabinet snugly up against the piano.

On Grampie’s second Christmas in Gosen, he watched with interest while GGpa carved the turkey. He listened to his parents and their friends the Carlsons and the McGuires talk about the new baby that the McGuires were expecting.

Dad carving turkey with Larry looking

While Grampie was learning so many new things, GGpa was busy building churches and being a pastor. Soon after we moved to Gosen, he began building a new church for the believers there. They were very happy when it was finished. Grampie is at the front door of the church.

Larry in front of Gosen church building

Grampie was often the center of attraction. Blond hair and blue eyes were an uncommon sight in this rural Japanese town. Often this area was called the back side of Japan, so to see foreigners was unusual.

Japanese girls all around Larry

After Grampie’s baby sister Marilyn was a few months old, we went to church together in our ‘family car’. Can you guess what kind of car that was? It was two bicycles! Grampie rode in a little seat on the front of GGpa’s bike, and I carried Marilyn on my back as I rode my bike!


Five years had passed since GGpa and I went to Japan.

So much had happened in those 5 years. GGpa and I had met and were married. God had given us two children. It was time for us to go back to Canada and California. We needed to learn about the places where we had each grown up. We wanted to meet each other’s families. We wanted to introduce our family to all of them. So we bought tickets to fly on a jet plane to California.


2020-11-21 updated 2022-12-27   © 2023 Larry Grove