Sunday, April 10, 2022

Negishi Heights, Yokohama, Japan 1964-1965


My father was a military Naval Officer. In the late spring of 1964, the USS Oklahoma City CL-G5 was sent to Yokosuka, Japan, to serve in the Vietnam Conflict. My mother, brother & I were left in California to pack our belongings up to put in storage or to bring along with us. In early July, the three of us boarded the MSTS GENERAL DANIEL I. SULTON en route to Yokosuka, Japan. My father had found local temporary housing in nearby Kamakura. It was a small Japanese home we lived in for 2 months. He was out to sea a few days later.                                                                          

Above, the side veranda.

  Walkway to the house front gate on the right.

Mom would draw out the map of each of our homes every time we were moved to a new duty station in letters to her families in the United States.

Mom with other new Navy housewife friends would daily go to Yokosuka Naval Base (where Gib & I attended school. Gib at Kennick High School or known as YoHo High & Mary at Sullivan Elementary.) Mom would attend to daily needs & errands while we were in school. Other days, the wives would look for housing together discovering what was available for them. Many USS Oklahoma City wives were living in Negishi Heights, and Mom added her name to the waiting list.

Regarding transportation, Mom had our car transported here to Japan. It was a Mercedes Benz. She could not drive it until she obtained her Japanese driver's license. Another story.

We moved into 643 Skyline Drive on 12 Sep 1964. The USS Oklahoma City returns the day before. Dad sees the house & approves.


Mary started to attend Richard E. Byrd Elementary School in third grade with Miss Remik on the Negishi Heights, Yokohama, Military Housing Complex. I have no school photos of this year.

Gib attended Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokosuka. He would have to wait for the daily bus to transport between the two military bases. He obtained a school yearbook for his freshman year. 

Our home was at the northern end of Skyline Drive. #643 is circled in red on the top left corner of the map.

Mom making our lunches in the kitchen.

Halloween 1964 - Mary dressed as a fairy princess.

Gib’s first pigeon cage was built in Nov 1964.

It was later blown down by a typhoon.  



Here is the new improved cage in June 1965. 

#642 behind Gib.

Here are pictures in the area between houses #643-646. Coopers in #643. Sipperts in #644. Myers in #645. Hollys in #646. Mary Cooper, Susie Myers & Donna Holly were best buds & did everything together. Susan & Mary reunited in 2009. We are still looking for Donna. 

My father, with my help, built a snowman in the central area.

#644 above

#646 above me & #645 behind dad. I loved the 

Tori Gate is on the hill next to Donna’s house.

I remember shopping at the local Commissary, the Naval Exchange, & taking swim lessons at the pool. Susie & I with our swimming instructor.

We left Negishi Heights in Sep 1965, taking a 6- week world tour through Southeast Asia, the Middle East & Europe returning to the United States.

Sadly, in 1999, the area with houses #635 to #650 were lost in a landslide. I recently found this out through a FaceBook page about Negishi Heights.

I have wonderful memories of our time in Japan. I was very fortunate, after my parents' deaths, that I found letters that they wrote to each other during this time period. The 15 months that the USS Oklahoma City was stationed in Yokosuka, I only saw my father "at home" for a total of 8 weeks. Normal for Navy BRATS. I will never forget Negishi Heights in Yokohama, Japan.

I have no drawing of the interior of this home. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Criminal Car

I have been going through boxes of paper regarding my family history, particularly my story of growing up in the military.

When my father was serving in the Philippines from 1958 to 1960, his job was Special Weapons Officer on the COMNAVPHIL staff at Sangley Point in Cavite City. The primary mission of Sangley was to provide maintenance, support, and materials for the regional operations of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The base was the headquarters of Commander U.S. Naval Forces Philippines which was considered to be the most important activity supported by Naval Station Sangley Point at that time.

My parents decided to sell their car, a German Borg Ward Isabella cream 2 door sedan, which they purchased in Texas in 1957. Wait, how did I know about what particular cars my parents owned & drove around in the places they were stationed? I came across a list of cars my mother got around in including the car in which she learned how to drive. One of these cars had an interesting story of being involved with the Manila Mafia!

The photo above was the only picture I found of the car parked in our Quonset Hut carport living in Sangley Point. 

In the spring (March) of 1959, the car was sold to a man, Fred Meneses, from Manila for 6,500 or $3,250. There was much haggling over price & much paperwork to be done over the sale.    

Four months later, in August, Martha found several local & military newspaper articles about their old car involved with a local murder. She mentioned this story in her letter to her parents. She knew it was their previous car as it had the same license plate!

Martha writes, “Stan is in Manila today to pick up our new car. We’re all very excited about it as we have missed having a car these past four months. As we told you before, [our new car] is a  Mercedes-Benz 190-Diesel engine with white exterior & red upholstery (genuine leather). We liked the color scheme of the Borg Ward, so decided to duplicate it. Speaking of our dear little Borg Ward, she has a claim to some notoriety now. I am enclosing newspaper clippings for your perusal. We know that was our car as it has our license plate on it. It was deserted after a murder. We didn’t know it, but it was a criminal Filipino Mafia type group who had bought it.

Concerning the crime & the car’s part in it, a real G man came to see Stan to find out to whom Stan had sold it. Of course, as things are here it may have had a half dozen owners since we had it, each one making a little bit more money on it. In an earlier account of the murder, it was described as a very expensive car. The car was the purchaser’s property to do with as he pleased, but I wish you could have heard the sad story we got to get the price down. We are so fed up with these buyers now that we have begun to do things their way & stand pat.”


Major Hector Crisostomo, relieved operations officer of the Presidential Fact Finding Committee probing anomalies in the bureau of customs, was found murdered early yesterday morning beside a dirt road in barrio Saog, Marilao, Bulacan. [North of Manila] Crisostomo, who actively engaged in the car buy-and-sell business at the time of his death, was found by PC men with two gunshot wounds on the head. Photo shows Crisostomo’s body slumped on the front seat of his expensive Borgward Isabella car. Shown examining the body is Captain Eduardo C. Umali of the Bulacan PC while curious residents mill around. (Photo by Benjamin E. Gamos)


Captain Hector Crisostomo, relieved operations officer of the Presidential Fact Finding Committee probing anomalies in the bureau of customs, was found shot to death under mysterious circumstances in his car yesterday morning on a deserted road in barrio Saog, Marilao, Bulacan. His body was found slumped on the front seat of his two-door cream colored sedan being examined by two constabulary officers. Found in the rear compartment of the car were a pair of leather shoes, a suitcase & a locked briefcase which was believed to contain cash & personal effects, including documents. In the right panel below are policemen in civilian clothes transferring the body from a trailer to an ambulance as curious barrio folks look on. (PNS photos)


Guided by self-confessed killer Victorio A. Alvarez, Jr., probers traced yesterday the route taken by Major Hector Crisostomo’s car. Probers look at the spot hit by the car when it went out of control & hit a high wall at corner Mauro & Manga avenue in Quezon City. The probers look at the utility pole which was grazed by the car, on Benito Street near Manga avenue. 

This ‘Criminal Car’ made me more curious about the story of the Filipino mafia & included names in these photo articles. I am assuming that mom cut these from local papers which they were reading at the time. Going through mom’s ‘Time in the Philippines’ files, I found this newspaper article from an unknown date & newspaper. It was covered on two pages giving more discovered details of the murder.

-The murder took place on 15 July 1959. 

-Four people were involved with the murder of Hector Crisostomo. They include Victorio A. Alvarez, Jr. the gunman; George Chua, who paid Alvarez 35,000 to the hired gunman; Johnny Yao, Chua’s brother-in-law who was not in custody as reported abroad at the time of Chua’s confession; & Dionisio Carasig, denied knowledge of Crisostomo’s killing, who was part of the original group to set up Crisostomo’s murder & involved with the murder case according to Alvarez & Chua.

Chua's confession was recounted in the article. “Chua stated that he was in the Oldsmobile car that followed the Crisostomo car that fateful night. He said that Johnny Yao and Carasig picked up Alvarez from a downtown restaurant on Dewey Boulevard and followed Crisostomo. Chia & his group were guided by their lookout who hailed them in the vicinity of a hotel in Luneta & pointed to the route taken by Crisostomo’s Borg Ward car. They overtook Crisostomo somewhere on Isaac Peral where Alvarez and Carasig allegedly boarded the Borg Ward. From that point, Chua corroborated Alvarez' statement that they went as far as Manga Avenue where the Borg Ward car hit a utility pole. Then the car went through Sta. Mesa Boulevard, passing various streets until it hit the Manila North Road. The cars proceeded to Marilao, where the killing was consummated.”

There was a conflict with Alvarez’ confession in comparison with Chua’s statement.

Alvarez stated that “Chua, Alvarez and Crisostomo were in the Borgward, with Crisostomo driving. In the Oldsmobile were Carasig and Johnny. In his confession, Chua said he & his brother-in-law, Johnny were in the Oldsmobile following in the Borgward. Johnny was driving. In the Borgward, were Crisostomo, Alvarez and Carasig.”

Chua’s confession also gave the intention to Crisostomo’s murder. He broke down & confessed that he paid Alvarez ₱35,000 to perform the job. He also admitted to being a member of an international smuggling syndicate from Hong Kong. Chua was in direct contact with his boss in Hong Kong with activities here in the Philippines. There was a double-cross of a $132,00 deal which involved Crisostomo & Chua was ordered for Crisostomo’s demise. These dollars were confiscated by customs authorities. 

On 24 Mar 1960, Crisostomo’s murder case was taken to court. My parents were in California at this time. I found their specific case covered in the Philippines Official Gazettes published nine years later. This curious lady might just take a trip to a specific library 100 miles away to get more questions answered.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Mother's Wedding Dress


Lieutenant Junior Grade Martha Louise Gabuzda & Ensign Stanley Gibson Cooper were married on 3 June 1949, at 1PM in Annapolis, Maryland, following Stan's graduation from the Annapolis Naval Academy.

My midshipman father, in the autumn of 1947, had minor surgery & flirted with one of his nurses, Ensign Martha Gabuzda. They started dating & were engaged the following year.

I could not remember the colors she described in her wedding dress. I was thrilled to find their wedding announcement in the local newspaper of her hometown, The Standard-Sentinel of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, dated 22 Jul 1949. "The bride wore a daytime dress of light blue lace lined in pink marquisette, & a picture hat of white nylon straw trimmed with nylon veiling & orange blossoms. She wore white accessories, & a corsage of white & pink rosebuds & baby breath."

I remember her telling me that her maid of honor, Jeanne Hartman, had unknowingly picked the same dress, but in different colors. The same article described her dress, "a similar dress of black lace lined in pink, black accessories, & a corsage of gardenias."

They were married by the Reverand Homer W. Koch at the local St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

It was attended by the family who also attended Stan's graduation.

Stan's father, Jack Cooper, Stan's paternal aunt, Jinny Cooper Dawes, Stan's mother, Sophie Piña Cooper, with Stan's maternal uncle,  Fred Piña.

Stan's maternal aunt, Piedad Piña Pape, Stan's paternal aunt, Jinny Cooper Dawes, bride, Martha Gabuzda Cooper, Stan's mother, Sophie Piña Cooper, Stan's sister, Margarite Cooper Carl.