She Was Not Poor

Youshehiro and Chio,
Yoshihiro and Chihoko Tamai, when they lived next door in Victory Village

Most couples who lived in Victory Village, a married student housing complex owned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, didn’t have two dimes to rub together. Nobody had much in the way of nice furniture but at least the American students, most of them, could get hand-me-downs from their parents to help furnish their apartments.

When I was in college my wife, Donna, and I lived in Victory Village, next door to a Japanese couple, Yoshihiro Tamai, who was in a Ph.D. program, and his wife, Chihoko.   The Tamai’s were good neighbors and we became friends.

Youshihiro and Chiko, when they came from Japan to see us.
Yoshihiro and Chiko, when they came from Japan to see us.

Yoshihiro and Chihoko, she was called “Chiko,” couldn’t get furniture from home –their home was about 7,000 miles away — so some of their stuff looked like they had picked it up off the side of the road.

But Chiko wanted Donna to know that, in Japan, she was not poor. She and her husband were quite well off, in fact, and this is how she told Donna:

Donna, with Bo and Chiko
Donna, with Bo and Chiko, sitting on our front porch.

“Here I have only one hat,”  Chiko said. “My husband told me, you have only one head, you may take only one hat. But in Japan, I have many hats.”

Coming Monday: This Was Not A Real Job