Kathy finds love, learns American 'Cowby' jargon

July 18, 2012 

The Tri-Cities gave Japan a very big bomb in 1945. Japan gave a Kennewick couple a very small daughter in 1958.

Kathy finds love, learns American 'Cowby' jargon

By Malcom Macney
Herald staff writer
Published on February 11, 1958

Six-year-old Kathy Nelson has only been a resident of Kennewick and the United States, for around seven weeks, but watching her dress you'd never know it until she starts singing one of her favorite songs, "London Bridge."

Then the words come out in Japanese.

Kathleen, or Kathy as she is called around home, arrived her as the climax to many months of hoping and letter writing by Mrs. George Nelson, 711 S. Washington, and much searching during the same period of time by her husband, a navy commissary steward stationed in Japan, who has 26 years service.

Mrs. Nelson says her husband, former Kennewick American Legion post commander, couldn't have made a better choice. After thinking it would be nice to have a child around the house again, she wrote to her husband "to see if he couldn't get a little youngster, preferably a little girl, and part American if possible."

The only thing the Navy man, whose official rating is ship's cook first class, slipped on was the child's age. Mrs. Nelson had suggested one three or four years old. But when Nelson is transferred back home in another four months he has noting to fear.

"We got just what we were wanting," Mrs. Nelson declared. By we she means she and Mrs. LaRayne Barrett, her daughter, who lives with her.

Kathy has been enrolled in kindergarten, and has added extensively to the half dozen or so English words she knew when she arrived.

The little livewire with long dark brown curls, has also become Westernized fast, Western, that is, like on TV shoot-em-ups are among her favorite programs, and she'll blaze away with one of her toy guns from behind a chair just like she was the Lone Ranger ambushing the Indians.

Arrival for Kathy in this country came two days before Thanksgiving of last year when she landed in Seattle after a 26-hour plane ride she made unaccompanied from Tokyo. On hand to greet her were Mrs. Nelson's relatives.

Finding food that she likes has been about the only problem for Mrs. Nelson and Kathy's sister through the adoption, Mrs. Barrett.

"She doesn't like vegetables, though it's funny she does like spinach. She likes eggs and would eat noodles all the time of we let her," Mrs. Nelson said.

Mrs. Barrett told of one other problem, Kathy kept asking for "don't cry baby." Somewhat stumped, they bought her one that will take water, cry tears and requires changing.

The dawning came when Kathy gently placed the doll over her shoulder, patted it and cooed, "Don't cry, baby."

Kathy has had some language help from her new sister, who learned a smattering of Japanese during a three-year period, 1946-1949, as a civil service worker in Japan.

Mrs. Barrett, who feels more motherly than sisterly toward Kathy, makes the family's love for the child complete when she says, "She's just about the nicest little girl I've ever known."

Kathy must sense all the love around her, too, for not once since she has been here has she shown any signs of being lonely, or said a single word about going back to Japan.

She's only been here a short time, and she's still struggling with the language, but her actions speak for her.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service