Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day Twenty-four - Going forward - ASIJ 75 Anniversary

As I continue to write, my thoughts about going forward become a little more fearful. The reason is that everything I experienced with Jack as an eleven, twelve and thirteen year old pales to what I experienced as a forty-four year old. And you wonder why it took so long for the young men who were abused by their priests (almost God himself) to finally come out and tell. So sad. Don't tell........

In June of 2003, ASIJ hosted the 75 year anniversary of the school in SanFrancisco, California. My husband and I attended with my oldest sister and her husband. We were pumped. I was so excited about connecting with old friends. I thought that because of all the information I had given the school, Jack was in the past and I wouldn't have to worry about anything associated with him. Because it was a very broad reunion, alumni from every year and age were there. I think there were over 1000 people there but I can't remember precisely.

Can you imagine an American School from another country bringing together that many people? It was incredible. I think the spouses of alumni were completely overwhelmed that we could bring together that many people at a high school reunion. That shows the bond, passion and love people had for this school. As an aside, I have never attended any of my college reunions. There is just something about high school. As my two youngest children experience high school, I hope I can recognize the importance of that in their lives. For some reason, we want to prove ourselves to our high-school class mates. Maybe it's because we were all in such a vulnerable state, going through puberty, competing with classmates in sports, popularity, looks, academics, and many other things. High school is where we prove ourselves. It's an interesting phenomena.

What happens after you attend a high school reunion? Doesn't everybody say, "Wow, did you see how great so and so looks? He/she was so fat but lost so much weight." "Man, blank looks so old. He's bald. What happened? Or she's bald. Yikes." "I never expected so and so to be soooo successful." "Wow, and to think he was the quarter back." And on and on we evaluated everyone based upon our thoughts about them from high school. We also evaluate ourselves based upon that. Don't we want to look our best? Don't we want to say we've moved mountains and cured cancer? Don't we want to be recognized as the "most successful" and not the "most likely to fail"? We talk about whale watching in the northern Pacific, deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, traversing the highest mountains in Austria, landing the most lucrative deal in all of American history. We all compete for recognition. We all compete for acceptance. We all want to be the "best" unless we aren't and then we criticize those who have made it to the top. Wow, lots of psychological stuff. Maybe it's the red wine talking...... I told you before I like red wine. Particularly a nice 1995 Liberty School Cabernet. Okay - sorry - so I digress - my oldest sister can relate.

Okay - I've been busy catching up on facebook and got sidetracked. Alrighty then. (No, I'm not an Ace Ventura fan - even though everyone of my kids can recite verbatim the lines in the movie.) I'm really getting off track......sometimes humor can cure all illnesses.

Back to 2003. We arrived in San Francisco to attend the reunion. I can't remember the sequence but while we were there we visited Sonoma Valley and the many of the wineries there and in between. Remember I like red wine. We didn't make it to Napa, which I believe, produces some of the best Cabernets. It also is home to the remake of Parent Trap and Dennis Quaid - swooooooooon.

I had visited Carmel during one of our furloughs and so we did go south to Carmel for a day - too short. Carmel is probably one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Would love to spend some time there one day. My daughter and son-in-law went to Carmel for their honeymoon. Wish I could be there.

Okay - back to the reunion. On the first day of the reunion the class of 1976 planned to connect at a blues/jazz bar in San Francisco. We also invited anybody else who wanted to join us to come. I remember being scared, anticipating seeing old friends I had not seen for years. I was with my husband and sister and her husband. We arrived and as we entered started seeing people we knew. It was fabulous. I loved seeing old friends, old boy friends, old girl friends. It was what I had imagined seeing people for the first time after high-school would be like. We talked, laughed, drank, shared, laughed, talked, drank - you get the picture. It was great!!

After meeting at the club, we all proceeded to go to the hotel where the reunion was to be held. I can't even remember the name because we actually didn't stay in the same hotel. There were massive amounts of people at the hotel. We registered and after registration decided to see the extra things available for purchase at the registration table. We stumbled across the book, written by one of the former headmaster's wife called, "The American School in Japan: A history of our first century." Of course, because of the radar in my mind caused by the three years of abuse (need I remind you),I immediately went to see if there was mention of Jack Moyer in there. Of course there was. But rather than down play his successes in Marine Biology or his contribution to the school, there was an entire chapter dedicated to him. To me, it was as if he was the king of ASIJ.

My sister, her husband, my husband and I began reading the chapter about Jack and Miyake. My husband, who has a good sense of humor, began adding after each sentence or name the words "child molester" or "pedophile". It really was quite a humorous read. We got a pretty good laugh at it. I guess that was the way I was going to get through the next few days.

Alright - I'm feeling that some of you aren't sure why this was such a big deal. For those of you who can't understand this yet.... I want you to imagine if this were your daughter. How would you respond? Would you defend her? Would you try to cover up the truth?

Quite frankly, I was disappointed but not surprised. After thirty three years of expecting people and institutions to change I don't know why I expected change when it had not happened before. What cowards! (Oh - you don't like that description of yourself.) Of course, I did not purchase a book. Hind site being twenty twenty I now wish I had - because I could then share with you the sickening eulogies being attributed to this celebrated child molester.

All of this happened in what seemed a whirlwind. We descended down to the area designated for our reunion, connecting to friends along the way. It was exciting, scary and electrifying. Many of the alumni were being summoned to take pictures with their class. I think they started back in the 1930's or 1940's and moved forward. Quite impressive. As they moved up the years, more and more people gathered to capture their class photo. My brother-in-law got caught up in the picture taking process and began participating in the banter consistent with this environment.

All of a sudden, he appeared out of nowhere and said to me, "Come, there is someone you have to meet." (My brother-in-law didn't attend ASIJ - although being a military brat, he knew quite a few ASIJ graduates. He hung out at the "coffee shop" with a lot of ASIJ students. That's where he met my sister.) My response was to follow him. We went into the photo room while the class of 1973 or 1974 was posing for the photo. He said, "You have to talk to this girl. She's asking a lot of questions. I think you might can answer some of them."

© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.


  1. Janet, this was the Centennial of the American School in Japan (100 years), and not the 75th year anniversary. The reunion was held at the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco's Japantown.

  2. ASIJ did make a big deal of its 75th anniversary too, back in 1978, when the Crown Prince visited the school. Janet you probably saw info about that after you graduated, and had the number 75 etched in your mind.