Summer Readings and Meetings with Authors

My summer readings were combined with travels and meetings with authors that began in June during a visit to San Francisco where I was able with three authors who have visited the Pacific Northwest in the past during their historical research and/or book lectures.

I had a great visit with Frederik Schodt at Samovar Tea Lounge, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco on June 26 at the end of a day of Microsoft conferences at Moscone Center. Fred’s most recent book Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe. Stone Bridge Press (2012) is an unusual and fascinating account of the first circus troupes to visit Japan and the USA after the opening of Japan in the mid-1800s. I wondered if Fred would show up on a unicycle but he arrived by his usual bicycle. We caught up on friends, superheroes, castaways, and clowns.

Fred Schodt and Jim Mockford June 26 2013

Fred is author of many books about Japan including, “Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan” Stone Bridge Press (2003), which also brought him to Oregon and Washington over 10 years ago in the footsteps of Astoria native son Ranald MacDonald, a trans-Pacific adventurer and first American teacher of English in Japan.  Fred is also author of The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution and I had heard from Japanese friends about Japan’s need for a superhero in the wake of the March 11 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster. I traveled to Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures last summer and I think the true superheroes are the many unsung residents of Tohoku Japan who have persevered through grief and hardship since the tragic catastrophe. See one of my blogs about this area at

The next day my lunch hour found me at the Writer’s Grotto meeting with one of its interesting inhabitants Author Jason Roberts whom I  also met years ago in Astoria during his tracking of the story of Japanese castaway Otokichi arrival at Fort Vancouver and our favorite adventurer from the Oregon Country Ranald MacDonald. Jason is author of  A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler (2006), a biography of James Holman, the blind adventurer of the early 19th century.  He is working on two books now and we wait until 2014 with anticipation of either publication to be the first to press.

Jason Roberts at Writers Grotto

Another San Francisco luncheon with an author was my meeting with Sheldon Lim and his Flying Tiger father Harry Lim at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco.Sheldon is author with his sister, the late Christina Lim of “In the Shadow of the Tiger: The 407th Air Service Squadron, 14th Air Service Air Service Group, 14th Air Force, World War II” (1993).
Lunch at Fairmont
I met them in September 2012 when they visited Portland for a reunion of the Veterans of the 407th Air Service Squadron. Sadly Christina passed away only a month later from a long battle with cancer. See my blog

Returning to Portland at the end of the month of June it was time to line up some summer readings and meetings with authors for July. One date was already set for July 8.

In the spring at the 2013 Clark County Historical Society & Museum Annual Dinner and Auction held on May 13 I had the pleasure of meeting award winning historian and author of 50 books and former professor Richard Etulain who was the event's guest speaker Richard spoke about his most recent book “Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era” (Oregon State University Press February 12, 2013) and when the auction was over I learned that my wife had purchased the “Luncheon with the Author” at the Grant House Restaurant on Officer’s Row at Vancouver’s Historic Reserve. On July 8 we met Richard for a wonderful summer lunch on the porch of the Grant House.

We talked about Abraham Lincoln’s political influence and impact in Oregon, the far west and beyond. I was interested in his thoughts about the book “The Global Lincoln” (Oxford University Press, Eds: Richard Carwardine and Jay Sexton, 2011) that is described as the first study of Lincoln's global legacy and includes an account of a meeting in 1862 between Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Heco, a Japanese castaway who in 1858 became the first Japanese person to be naturalized as a United States citizen. Naturally, I can't resist a story about a Japanese castaway who meets Abraham Lincoln and Heco's life story was told at the 14th Honolulu Festival in 2007 by a panel including Dwight Damon whom we had earlier welcomed on a tour of Fort Vancouver as they traveled to places visited by his great-great grandfather Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon. Rev. Damon was Honolulu’s seamen’s chaplain from 1842 to 1885 and publisher of The Friend Newspaper that told many stories of trans-Pacific adventures including the story of Hamada Hikozo (or Hikotaro) who became known as Joseph Heco. The report of Ranald MacDonald's "intentional castaway" voyage to in Japan also was published in The Friend.

In addition to talking about Abraham Lincoln’s connections to Asia we found that Richard knew one of Cheryl’s former professors at Seattle Pacific University, Professor Kent Hill who taught Russian history before career change took him on overseas adventures with US AID program and international foundation work. Vancouver's connection to Russia is strongly linked to the arrival of the first nonstop Transpolar Flight by Soviet Pilot Valery Chkalov who landed at Pearson Field in 1937 and stayed on Officer's Row in the George Marshall House just a short walk from Grant House.

It was appropriate our luncheon with the author of books about Abraham Lincoln and the American West was held at the Grant House a building that dates back to 1846. It is a place where it seems that someone who may have known those days in history might step out of the past and join the conversation. See



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