This story is based on the true experiences of Doris Roth Van Vleet during the war years between 1937 and 1947 in the Japanese occupied City of Shanghai, China. She is the narrator of this amazing story.
The war between China and Japan had started and the Japanese soon occupied the territory surrounding the city of Shanghai. The United States Government moved all American citizens to the Philippine Islands until the conflict was resolved. Although the International Settlement was isolated, the Japanese made no attempt to occupy that section of the city so the family returned to their apartment. Life went on in a fairly normal manner but the war in Europe had started and the British military was leaving Shanghai to join their respective battle units, primarily in Hong Kong. Life in the city was becoming more difficult, but the United States maintained neutrality until the Fourth Marines departed on Nov.28th. On the morning of December 8, 1941 there were Japanese tanks on the streets of Shanghai. The Japanese ruled the city in a sort of benign way until the American air raid on Tokyo which triggered the Japanese military to move all Americans over the age of twelve to prison camps. Her father, older brother and sister were interned and Doris, her mother and brother were now alone. They soon realized how difficult it would be just to stay alive, but due to the tenacity and courage of Zina they managed to survive. If the war had lasted into the winter of 1945, they, and most of the people in Shanghai, would have starved to death. It was the dream of all to gain passage, a visa for Zina and move to America as quickly as possible. It took the remainder of 1945 and 1946 to meet that goal.
For the first sixteen years of his life George lived in a logging camp, owned by his father, located in Northwest Oregon several miles from the town of Astoria. He graduated from Jewell Grade School with six other kids in his eighth grade class. He entered Grant High School, the largest in the state of Oregon at that time, with five hundred freshmen; it was a social shock to say the least. He still worked every summer as a logger until his enlistment in the U.S. Marines. His entire professional occupation, after military service and college, was in the timber business. His writing career began as a result of a torn Achilles tendon putting him down when he was encouraged to write short stories by his wife and a good friend. After a move to Eugene he decided to enter the creative writing school at the University of Oregon. Starting in a freshman class, at seventy nine years of age, was a real adventure. With help, support and much patience from all his family and friends he finished this book. He hopes you enjoy reading this story as much as he did writing it.