Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

GWEN DEW RODE WITH EMPEROR HIROHITO

Morning Star, May 17, 2009, pg. 4

One of the stories that Gwen shares in her book “My God, a Woman!” is the post-War train ride she had in 1946 with the Japanese Emperor Hirohito! Here are some excerpts from the book, which is now available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce: “One of the first things General MacArthur suggested to the correspondents was that they accompany Emperor Hirohito on a trip to nearby cities. He wanted the average Japanese to see that the Emperor was only a human being like they were, but not the god they had always believed him to be. Two special trains were to be sent out from Tokyo, one for the reporters, one for the Emperor and his party...”

“I drove to my jeep to the station, parked it, and went to the train platform, just in time to see the first train pull out. Strange, isn’t it, that I was just one minute late? I don’t think so--it was planned strategy. An aide to the Emperor was standing on the steps of the train, waiting to close the door at 10:01, and then motioned me aboard, and immediately the train started moving...”

“The Emperor occupied the back section of the car in seclusion....I kept thinking how the train full of reporters ahead of us were saying, “Poor Gwen, she missed the train, and won’t get this exciting story.” How wrong the were--it was all part of my plan.”

“The windows of the train were filled with the faces of high Imperial officers and members of the royal family. In one window there was a lone American visage watching the huge crowd with keen interest. That one American face was mine! It was truly an interesting experience, and one that no other had ever had. When we reached the first stop...The photographers crowded the train platform to take pictures....Since I descended from the Emperor’s train at the same he did, I was standing in the front row as he passed by.”

“As he passed by me, he tipped his hat as a polite gesture. If he was surprised to see a woman among the scores of reporters, he didn’t show it...I know the memory of this event is true, and not a fantasy. One of the photographers took a picture of us at the exact second the Emperor tipped his hat and walked past me. What is more, I still have the picture taken that day.”

“I too had been close to this frail man, wearing a suit and an overcoat that were too big for him. Even his hat was too large Yes, it was true; this was Emperor Hirohito. By this time, the other reporters realized that I had deliberately planned to be late, taking a chance that I could board the Emperor’s train. It made a ‘scoop’ in newspaper parlance, and they know I had a great story for my newspapers. Only one reporter on the train carrying the Emperor--and that one a woman! I admit I was elated, and it was a great day in this correspondent’s life.”

From our Historical Notebook this week we present that photograph showing Emperor Hirohito tipping his hat to Gwen Dew. The photographer in the middle changing his camera plates was named Rosenfeld.


Emperor Hirohito tipping his hat to Gwen Dew

Next: GWEN DEW’s GARAGE SALE


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