Jake's "Thieves Alley Story" while visiting Sasebo, Japan in 1963
Jake Jaccard, YN3, USNR (R)
X Division, '61-'64
U.S.S. HANCOCK (CVA-19)
I was reading recently an Email sent to me from Max Pate, a Shipmate of mine from the USS HANCOCK ASSOCIATION about a trip he made from Osaka, Japan to Sasebo and his experiences on that trip. I wrote him how much I liked the port city of Sasebo, but I never got the opportunity to go to Kobe or any other Japanese city other than Tokyo, Yokosuka and Sasebo, so it was easy for me to talk about Sasebo.
I liked the place for it's very friendly people but I've always preferred smaller towns to large cities, so liking Sasebo was pretty normal for me. I found a place there in Sasebo which probably attracted many Sailors and travelers; a place we all know and remember, as "Thieves Alley', I mean them no disrespect in using that term - it was a common name given by all Sailors who venture into foreign ports 'o call, and who are often taken advantage of by the locals. I just preferred to call it a "Flea Market" though many other ports of call had their own 'Thieves Alley', this "Flea Market" is the one that stuck in my memory all these many years which are over 49 years now.
Yes, the people were very friendly there - basically this was the way it was in most places of Japan, but more particularly there in Sasebo's Flea Market as they loved getting our MPC's or "Military Pay Certificates" but I also believe in the normal friendliness of the Japanese people - we used MPC's because we weren't allowed to spend "Green Backs" over there in 1963. This Picture of me you may have seen on this Website in other locations was taken there in Sasebo's Flea Market, and it relates to this Story as I go on...
As the caption reads, the picture of me was taken at the Flea Market by what appeared to me, to be a very old man, complete with a "Fu-man-chu" beard and mustache.
When I was walking (don't know if I was alone or not), but more than likely, alone, as I often went ashore on my own, though we were cautioned not to do so. I've always been mostly a loner - even today.
Walking down the narrow street of that Flea Market, I came upon this little old man standing outside his very narrow "shop" - some of you may remember this shop and may had your own pictures taken by this very same man - who he asked me in broken English, " Me takey picture? Me takey picture?" I looked at him surprised thinking 'could this old man do a decent picture of me?' I had doubts totally. However, after hearing his price which I think was the equivalent of $1 US in yen (about 360 yen - the exchange rate in the early 60's). I thought well it's only a buck no matter the quality, a buck is only a buck. So I said, "Sure! Why not? And he took me into his studio, and set me up with the lights and sat me on a stool about 3' high. The backdrop was just a sheet or something like that. He positioned the lights and took different poses of me, and then said, "you come back tomorrow" and I said sure; I knew the Old Hannah would be in Sasebo another couple days, so I had no problem with that.
The Next day, I showed up at his shop and there he was again, looking happy to see me. He said, 'You come in' so I walked back into his studio, by his counter and he pulled out a manila envelope with a smaller picture of me paper clipped to the outside of the envelope. He pulled out several pictures, and told me, "You pay 360 Yen." I said I would look at all of them and I think there were 3 or 4 to look at. But the top one really surprised me more than the others! This old man took such a good picture of me, he even took out the blemishes I had on my not-so-perfect complexion at the time. I hadn't been out of my teens very long and still had a few "zits". But he gave me a complexion that would take a few more years to match. He even gave my skin tone a softer appearance which I liked a lot, so that picture continues to be the very best that any professional has ever taken of me, including my Senior Picture, taken by an expensive photographer in Glendale, California.
This picture has helped me keep a youthful outlook now though I will soon be entering my Seventh decade."
Web Yeoman, Hancock Memorial
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