My talk at Ban the Bomb Gathering in Hollywood, June 17, 2017

I want to tell you a story—a true, personal story.  (To save time, I’ll just tell you I’m 73!)

I was one year old when nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Six years later our family moved to Hiroshima.  My father, Dr. Earle Reynolds, was a scientist.  The Atomic Energy Commission sent him to study the effects of radiation on children exposed to the bomb.

For 3 years, Dad studied 4800 children.  In his spare time he built a 50-foot yacht named Phoenix of Hiroshima.  In 1954 Dad submitted his findings on the dangers of radiation to the Atomic Energy Commission.  Then our family sailed the Phoenix around the world.  Three young yachtsmen from Hiroshima went with us.  This was only 9 years after our countries had been at war with each other.

We sailed around the world for 3-1/2 years.  Two of our Japanese crew flew back to Hiroshima but Niichi Mikami stayed with us.  When we reached Honolulu in 1958, we were looking forward to sailing home to Hiroshima.

But the United States was testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific.  Our government had just issued an injunction forbidding American citizens to enter that zone.  It covered 390,000 square miles of ocean.  We had to sail through that area to get back to Japan.

The same Atomic Energy Commission which had hired Dad to find out the dangers of radiation was in charge of testing nuclear weapons.  My dad had written up his findings that radiation causes cancer and is not healthy for human beings.  He knew that added radiation from each nuclear test was poisoning the world’s air and seas for decades to come.  But the Atomic Energy Commission had suppressed Dad’s findings so they could assure the American public that nuclear tests are safe.

My father the scientist became my father the activist and our pleasure cruise became one of protest.  In 1958 I was 14, my brother Ted was 20.  Our family and Niichi Mikami chose to sail the Phoenix into the test zone as a protest against nuclear testing.  Dad was arrested, tried and convicted of trespass.  Our government would later blackball him so he never got a job in his field again.

In 1961 we sailed to Nakhodka, USSR to protest Soviet nuclear testing—a normal American father, mother, 23-year old son, 17-year old daughter, a yachtsman friend and two cats.  (I wonder what the Russians thought when they saw us coming!) By this time we had letters and telegrams from hundreds of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, appealing for a nuclear ban. We had a good talk about peace with the captain of the Soviet Coast Guard boat which stopped us. But he refused to take the appeals.  He turned us away.

Back in Japan, we felt we had made no difference.  My mother, Barbara Reynolds, felt a responsibility to get the appeals to the leaders of the world.  On Christmas Day, 1961, she sat in the Hiroshima Peace Park, at the foot of the monument dedicated to the children killed by the atomic bomb.  She fasted and prayed there all day, appealing to whatever Supreme Being or Higher Power there was—for wisdom to know what to do with all the appeals of the hibakusha, the bomb survivors.

The answer came: the hibakusha themselves–the only human beings to live through a nuclear attack–must take these appeals to the world! With the city’s blessing, my mother accompanied two survivors on a Peace Pilgrimage to the leaders of the nuclear nations and to the United Nations.  Then she accompanied 25 of them, from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a Peace Study MIssion.  When my mother died, the grateful hibakusha erected a monument to her in the Peace Park—their Ground Zero.

The Phoenix of Hiroshima, the brave wooden boat that took us into the Pacific test zone and to the USSR, is now at the bottom of the Sacramento River.  Many people are trying to raise and restore her as a historic artifact, a piece of history.  Our website is phoenixofhiroshima.org.

Now, finally, we have hope.  The United Nations is considering a ban on nuclear weapons.  The children my dad studied when I was a child myself are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. They are coming to the UN with an appeal signed by nearly 3,000,000 people, their own unique, single, heartfelt message:  Don’t let what happened to us happen again anywhere to anybody!

Let us stand in solidarity with the hibakusha: No more Hiroshima!  No more Nagasaki!

 

Jessica Renshaw phoenixofhiroshima@gmail.com

Posted in anti-nuke, nuclear dangers, yacht Phoenix of Hiroshima | 2 Comments

RAISING THE PHOENIX – June 1, 2017

GOLDEN RULE to meet PHOENIX in the Sacramento River Delta July 5-6

Dear Friends of the Yacht Phoenix,

So much to tell you! We have had $1,300 contributed to the Raising the Phoenix Fund since setting up the PhoenixofHiroshima.org website, bringing us about ONE-THIRD of the way to raising the boat! Brian Cowden’s video Phoenix of Hiroshima – An Odyssey Interrupted is on that website. We’re hoping the “interruption” will be over soon and the boat will be out of the Sacramento River and on land where she can be restored at more leisure. Right now, as you can imagine, time is of the essence!

The website was designed professionally and I am in a steep learning curve now to manage it, hoping to add neat stuff periodically, posting your comments on the website (or you can write to phoenixofhiroshima@gmail.com) and tracking the rare donations as they come in. I wish I could share the graphs and maps on the website that show each “visit” to the site. On April 30, the day I sent notices about the website to every Japanese person I know, the website spiked at 57 views. We have had visitors not only from the United States and Japan but Canada, Denmark, Colombia, England, Philippines, France, Germany, Hungary, Australia and China. A single viewer in any given country turns that whole country a bright color! It’s really encouraging.

My recently-published books about the Phoenix and about my mother Barbara Reynolds are still available to those who give $100 (b&w copy) or $500 (color copy). For $1,000 you can have both in color! (PayPal is on the website.)

Even if you can’t make a donation, you can still go to betweenthemasts.blogspot.com and read (free!) my first book, Jessica’s Journal, which was my diary–at the age of 11–of the part of our Phoenix circumnavigation between Hawaii and New Zealand, 1955.

Our “mother ship,” the Golden Rule, now recovered, restored, re-launched and ready to sail again for a nuclear-free world, will be heading down the west coast of the United States on June 10. The crew plans to sail up the Sacramento River to the current location of the Phoenix on July 5-6 and WE ALL HOPE THE PHOENIX WILL BE ABOVE THE WATER, NOT BENEATH IT, WHEN GOLDEN RULE GETS THERE! Please help make this happen! For more information, visit http://www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org/

We appreciate your friendship and interest in the Phoenix and her future. Hope to welcome each of you aboard in your home port someday!

Wishing you God’s richest blessings,
Jessica Reynolds Renshaw, first cabin girl of PoH
Ted Reynolds, first navigator of PoH
and the PoH Board of Directors

Speakers are available to talk with your group or the media about the Golden Rule and nuclear issues. …
vfpgoldenruleproject.org
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EUROPEAN SOJOURN: Johnny Reb’s (Day 23)

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Before we left Long Beach, we were telling the manager of our favorite BBQ place about our upcoming trip. He was enthusiastic, making us promise to bring back pictures. “If we can have one of your sacks with your logo on it,” we said, “we’ll take pictures of it in the places we go.”

He did and we did. We advertised Johnny Reb’s in Austria, Hungary, Romania, and the Paris Airport, where we changed planes to come home. (I looked in vain for the Eiffel Tower from the airport windows.)

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We were blown away by the response of the whole roadhouse staff when we took them the prints. They all made a fuss over us, put the pictures up by the register and gave us three comps.

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EUROPEAN SOJOURN: Bulgarian double wedding (Day 20)

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Vidin, Bulgaria. Jerry and I were sick; our colds had gone into bronchitis, with bone-shaking coughs, especially Jerry’s, which kept waking him up at night. In Belgrade, I had suggested we not go on the bus tour but he would go. At certain points along the way I suggested we stay on the bus while others got off to see various sights but he said he was fine, even though he was hacking and sneezing and soaked with a cold sweat.  And then I was set on getting one of those 500 billion dinar notes and Jerry insisted on sprinting down with me to buy it and we ended up missing our Viking bus back to the ship and having to spend an extra 30 minutes seeing the same sights over again on the next one.

He’s like a dog. He’ll never admit he’s sick. Admitting you’re sick makes you prey. If he’s suffering you can tell by his eyes and for days, Jerry’s eyes have been tired and watery, sunken.

But today when I broached the possibility of our not going on the tour, missing Bulgaria completely (I had to fight for the name of the country as I started to write this–Transylvania? Bratislava?), he was a little lamb about it.

“We can go up on the sundeck and sit in the shade and read our books,” he said, after a fit of coughing. “And later, if we want to, we can go ashore and walk around by ourselves.”

“Why, yes we could.” I hadn’t thought of that. Unlike some of our stops, there was a town right at the end of the gangplank. “It’s supposed to be over 90 today,” I said, as if he hadn’t already agreed and I still needed to convince him. “You’d be miserable after four hours of that kind of heat.”

1169We watched wistfully as our fellow passengers filed off the boat for their tour of the Rocks of Belogradshick, “resembling silhouettes of people, towers, ships, mushrooms, palaces and animals” and the “many terraced courtyards” of the Belogradshick Fortress.

We went instead up to the vacant sundeck and sat in the shade. Behind us, across the river, were misty islands and inlets. Before us, to the left, was a row of rundown buildings. To the right, a row of trees.

The groups who had gone on the four-hour tour came back happy but tired. They reported that the rocks of Belogradshick didn’t look that much like anything and some of them said they hadn’t made it up all the 148 steps to the fortress.

Jerry and I took naps, Jerry sitting up so he wouldn’t cough. When we woke, even though the day was at its hottest, I felt a sudden urgency to walk the plank and be able to say we’d been on Bulgarian soil. Jerry came too, weary and congested but loyal to a fault.

At the end of the gangplank was a portable metal sidewalk stretching as far as we could see in both directions. We stepped over it and entered a neat, empty public square around an 8-pillared gazebo. 1188

(This is the square. We entered it from the left, where the ship was docked.)

There was a souvenir store on one corner with all kinds of interesting jewelry, including some with lumps of what the shopkeeper confirmed was turquoise though her knowledge of English did not extend to answering whether the country mines it or imports it. There were unique wood carvings, including a cane with a wiggly stick nailed across the top which she confirmed with a smile was a shepherd’s crook. There were jolly, colorful paintings of peasants dancing in circles in village squares.

We didn’t linger. I didn’t want to get the shop lady’s hopes up. I would have liked to buy several things but we had no space in our luggage and no local currency–levs, in this case. Not even Euros. Our last 30 Euros had been lost or stolen the last time Jerry took his money out of his pocket. He hadn’t noticed until later because he was punk.

I felt so isolated from the people whose countries we are visiting. We couldn’t communicate with them. Coming out of the store on Vidin’s main street I tried to make eye contact with an approaching woman but she averted her eyes and ignored my smile with what seemed like sullenness and resentment. Rich tourists taking advantage of our poor country, I read in her expression.

1175We turned right, into the park. We passed a statue of parent and child and beyond the statue real parents with real children running, laughing and climbing on playground equipment. I didn’t have the courage to invade their space and privacy with my camera. What was the point? How could we communicate?

There was a small restaurant in the park. From its open door came the recorded English lyrics of some discordant heavy metal music. Out front, a big man in a suit leaned, bored, against a white limo decorated with white streamers and bows.

“Wedding?” I asked. I pointed at the open door of the cafe and then at Jerry and myself, wearing our color-coordinated shirts and holding hands.

He shrugged. “No English.”

“Party?”

He brightened a little but I already knew more than he could tell us. Glancing away, I noticed a crowd milling about the park. I caught sight of a bride and groom, both in white. There was no sign of a church or even a magistrate’s office; from the looks of it, the wedding was over and the bridal party–no, bridal parties, there were two couples in white–were posing for photographs. Kids were chasing each other and carrying snow cones and large Mickey Mouse balloons from nearby kiosks.

I told Jerry, “People don’t mind strangers taking pictures at a happy family event like a wedding!” 1181I headed for two little girls festive in billowing white dresses with ruffles around their necks. When I held up my cell phone and asked, “May I take a picture?”several people hastily summoned a woman who spoke some English.

She was their mother. She introduced the girls to us as Anka and Elena, then patted her stomach to introduce us to their third daughter-to-come, Petya. She beckoned her husband over to be in the picture, too.

She indicated it would be all right to photograph the wedding party. When I brought my cell phone back to her and showed her the picture I had taken, she pointed to the grooms and said they were her cousins.

The woman below, who gathered four girls together for a group shot, was Anka and Elena’s grandmother! 1179

So we didn’t miss out on Bulgaria after all. Just a stone’s throw from our ship, we celebrated a family wedding with real Bulgarians!

Posted in babies, celebrations, Children, cruise, Europe, family, food, fun, human interest anecdotes, interesting people, Joy, My husband Jerry, pictures, Travel, weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EUROPEAN SOJOURN: Blade in mist (Day 19)

Kodak Europe 240On our misty day cruising down the Lower Danube, Jerry took this shot of a lone and ghostly wind turbine on a cliff above us.

When we got home and mentioned it to friends from Arizona, they described a semi they had seen hauling one blade of a similar turbine from Arizona to California. “The truck was maximum length, with an extension. The base of the blade filled the truck–and the blade stuck out 20 feet beyond the end of it. It was marked ‘WIDE LOAD.’ Police cars were leading and following it, flashing their lights.”

How many truckloads must it have taken to set up this scene?

 

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EUROPEAN SOJOURN: “A Taste of Balkan” (Day 18)

1051 1066 1071 1068 1055 1049 1054 1057 1074Between preparing, serving, clearing away and washing up after all our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and multiple-course 2-hour dinners, the kitchen staff managed to roast and slice all kinds of meats, chop and mince ingredients for all kinds of salads, saute all kinds of vegetables, bake all kinds of breads, assemble all kinds of casseroles, arrange all kinds of cheeses, whip up all kinds of sauces, and make all kinds of desserts.

They surprised us with all these at “The Taste of Balkan” night, using table and counter space throughout the public areas of the ship–the restaurant, the Aquavit Terrace, the forward deck. In each area we could join queues past foods of all kinds, so that if you went to any one single area you could get a full meal and by going to all the areas you could get full but different meals.

They even invited us to climb down the steep companionway into the galley where there was a spread of salads with assorted dressings, and raw vegetables with a variety of dips, hot meats, various vegetable dishes, quiches and other entrees as well as an ample selection of puddings, tarts, baklavas and chocolate volcano cakes.

Here’s the thing. If the kitchen staff had prepared nothing but the “Taste of Balkan,” and spread the dishes out over the entire voyage, there would have been plenty for all 188 of us passengers–and the staff could have taken those three weeks off and gone home to their families.

1059I’m just sayin’.

 

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EUROPEAN SOJOURN: Genetically modified crops (Day 18)

I’m not sure this applies to all of Eastern Europe but in Serbia we were told that farmers are not allowed to grow GMO crops. One farmer tried it and the government burned down his field. That’s why I don’t have a picture of it.

Wish it were that simple in our country!

(When we got home we heard that besides poisoning the people who eat most American corn and soy products, Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide sprays are wiping out the milkweed that sustains the Monarch butterfly. The Center for Food Safety reports a 90 percent population decline since the 1990s.

“That would be like losing every person in living in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio,” a release by the organization said.* They are joining the Center for Biological Diversity in petitioning to having the Monarch added to the endangered species list.

Jerry and I bought the last milkweed at a local nursery and planted it in our back yard. We aren’t gardeners and we haven’t been able to keep flowers or vegetables alive. But the weed is thriving. And I’m delighted to report that a Monarch was checking out our back yard just this morning and I’m sure will know it’s there when she gets hungry or ready to lay her eggs.)

You can order Metamorphosis, a magnificent DVD on these beauties who may become extinct at Illustramedia.com.

 

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