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In His Own Words: Newsome Kirk, 1951

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 11, 2012

Newsome Kirk was born on 6 August 1920 in Denholme, Yorkshire, England, the son of Arthur and Mary Ann Bull Kirk. He was baptized in 1939. Although I don’t have his full service record, he was of age to have served in the British forces during World War II; he was still? again? in service a few years later at the time of the Korean War.

Out here in Korea the Millennial Star is assisting me in spreading the gospel to the soldiers with whom I speak about our religion; at this moment several chaps have my copies in their possession, and say that the Star contains excellent material for off-duty reading.

I have recently had five days’ leave in Japan, and during that time I called on the Japanese Mission headquarters. Imagine my feelings as I walked into the building and heard President [Vinal G.] Mauss say, “Our home is your home just as long as you care to use it,” and my surprise when I saw several issues of the old familiar Star lying in his office.

He then took me into a devotional meeting the missionaries were having. They asked me to say a few words about our church affairs at home, and my own experiences in the gospel work. I felt very humble and very grateful to be able to meet some members of our church 14,000 miles from home. I had a meal with them (Japanese saki) of rice, and all kinds of vegetables (I think). I was invited to go along Sunday morning with two of the missionaries to a Japanese branch to see the work and what they had accomplished since they opened up out in Japan.

Sunday morning I was very much impressed by the handshakes given me – extended as well as ever they could have been in England. The Sunday School had an added attraction in the form of a programme because it was Mothers’ Day; it was the next best thing to spending it at home. There were about 160 members and friends present. After Sunday School I attended Sacrament Service where they honoured me by asking me to help with the sacrament. how wonderful it was to participate after such a long absence from church duties. as the meeting progressed they asked me to speak to them through a translator; it was an experience I shall never forget.

Back at the mission home I had the pleasure of attending a meeting held in honour of the mission mother and four departing missionaries – three from Hawaii and one from America. We had a lovely dinner, then went to the Church Service held in Tokyo for the servicemen.

It was all wonderful, first priesthood meeting, then sacrament; after they had opened the Priesthood meeting and made the assignments they called on all newcomers to give their names and where they were from. In sacrament meeting they called on me once again, so I told them of my pleasure and thankfulness in being a member of the church and able to have the opportunity of meeting them all. I told them of our branch at home and how we decorated it last year, of my wife’s [Gladys Goldthorpe Kirk; they married in September 1950] activities in the church, my blessings before I left England, and how our family was slowly joining the church. I also told them how, after searching for the mission home I finally did what I should have done at first. I asked my Father in heaven to help me; the next Japanese policeman I asked then led me straight to the house I needed.

One of the boys had his birthday that day so the Relief Society gave him a really nice cake. On the way back to the Mission Home Sister [Ethel Lind] Mauss collected two gallons of ice cream; we had that and cake for supper, followed by a sing-song. After that, President Mauss’s son Armand drove me back to the camp.

Every minute of my time spent with those fine people was just wonderful, and I have many pleasant memories as mementos of a very lovely weekend.

Brother Kirk and his wife Gladys were sealed in the London Temple in 1959; he died on 11 March 2005.



12 Comments »

  1. Fun shoutout to Armand Mauss. Did he point you to this?

    Comment by Last Lemming — April 11, 2012 @ 8:02 am

  2. What a wonderful glimpse of the Church in Tokyo! Thanks Ardis, and thanks to Brother Kirk for writing that.

    I’ve been puzzling over “Japanese saki” without success. Maybe Armand Mauss can come and tell us all what it was. Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be confused with “sake”–the rice wine that keeps the Japanese warm on cold winter nights. That word’s second syllable is pronounced as “kay,” more or less, and I suspect that the Mauss’s didn’t keep any bottles in the cellar, even for special guests.

    And, handshakes?? Even then were we forcing our western culture on the Japanese by engaging in that lovely germ-sharing ritual? What’s wrong with bowing, anyway?

    Comment by Mark B. — April 11, 2012 @ 8:04 am

  3. It was as much a surprise to me as to you when I saw a familiar name in this piece — I’ll point it out to ALM this morning.

    I wondered if “saki” might be some version of “sukiyaki,” maybe the way Bro. Kirk heard the word, or the way it was abbreviated by servicemen newly introduced to an unfamiliar dish?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 11, 2012 @ 8:30 am

  4. What a great discovery! I wonder what year it was. The Korean War started in mid-1950, and Bro. Kirk was there on a Mothers’ Day in May, so I’m guessing it was 1951, but it could also have been 1952 or 1953 (the year that the war ended, as I recall). In any case, it was nice to be remembered, and he even spelled all our strange names correctly!

    I was president of the LDS Servicemen’s branch in Tokyo during most of that period. I had gone to Japan with my parents right after my own mission (1947-49) and ended up staying in Japan more than four years (1949-53). I began as a student at Sophia University there (and eventually graduated). Meanwhile, though, since I had barely missed the draft in WWII, my number came up in 1951, while I was in Japan, which was still formally occupied by the U. S. military, so it was easy for me to find a USAF recruiting office. I enlisted in the air force to avoid a draft into the army, and I was able to stay right on in Japan without returning to the U. S. for induction. While in Japan I also met and married an Idaho girl in uniform, whom I met at church (LDS Servicemen’s branch), and our first two kids were “made in Japan.”
    During those years, of course I met hundreds of servicemen stationed in (or passing through) Japan, few of whom I can still remember now these 60+ years later. Bro. Kirk, I’m sorry to say, is among those whom I can’t recall, but I’m glad that I was able to drive him back to his camp after his enjoyable visit with all of us.

    Comment by Armand Mauss — April 11, 2012 @ 9:34 am

  5. PS to #4:
    On second thought, I think the year must have been 1952, since I doubt that any missionaries were released in 1951 (none had arrived before 1948, and it was considered a 4-year mission in those days, as I recall, but I might be mistaken).

    As for the “saki,” your guess is as good as mine. It definitely was not “sake,” and I don’t recall any particular dish or food in Japan called “saki.” Salmon was sometimes called “sake” (different written characters). My guess is that Bro. Kirk was referring to something else — maybe sushi.

    Comment by Armand Mauss — April 11, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  6. A wonderful gem. My own father, LeRoy Barney, I believe had a similar experience visiting Japan on leave while he was in the Air Force (more or less around this time, I believe), so this account felt personal to me.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — April 11, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  7. Very cool. If I ever get my hands on a time machine, I’m going to visit Tokyo in the 1950s.

    Comment by lindberg — April 11, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  8. Me again. I don’t know why I resisted (or overlooked) the date of 1951 originally provided with this post. No doubt Ardis had the documentation for that. My memory is a swirl of similar encounters with men like Kirk. I might well have met Kevin’s father too under similar circumstances. One thing, though, that makes 1951 so important for me is that on the Mother’s Day to which Kirk refers, I had been married only about a week and would have just returned from a honeymoon in the historic and picturesque Nikko. No wonder I don’t remember much else about that month!

    Comment by Armand Mauss — April 11, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

  9. :) I’m glad you care enough to come back, Armand. I’ll shoot you a copy of the documentation when I’m at the library in the morning, for your personal history. Bro. Kirk is lucky you were available to give him that ride, under the circumstances!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 11, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

  10. Dang, I wish I could have gone to Nikko for my honeymoon!

    Comment by Mark B. — April 11, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  11. Having Armand Mauss comment on this post is really a treat. Thank you, Armand, for adding your comments.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — April 11, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  12. あらたうと
    青葉若葉の
    日の光

    Nikko FTW.

    Comment by lindberg — April 12, 2012 @ 11:07 am

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