Saipan


As we flew over Tinian on the approach to the Saipan airport, I caught a quick glimpse of the atomic bomb pits with just enough room and time to get one quick photograph.  I didn't know it at the time, but the photo also captured the recently cleared site of the #1 bomb assembly building. 

 

The old Japanese hospital survived the war relatively unscathed, but was unused and overgrown by the jungle for many years after the war.  With extensive remodeling and additions, it became the CNMI Museum in the 1990's.  The museum has outgrown the facility and is now considering moving to a new location.  Hopefully, this beautiful facility will be preserved and put to good use for future generations.


Sugar King Park

 

Above: Statue of Haruji Matsue, the Sugar King.  A graduate of Louisiana State University, he started the great  NKK sugar cane plantations and mills in the Marianas in the 1920's, the first large commercial development here.  Japanese civilians and workers from other countries soon far outnumbered the native people of these islands.

Below: Pedestal for an unknown memorial.

Above:  Katori Shrine and Peace Gardens

Below:  Growth on tree in the botanical gardens.


The old Japanese jail.


: Beach Road

Right: Japanese beach defense near Sugar Dock


Herman's Modern Bakery.  During the war, Herman started a successful business selling fresh bread to the American forces on the island.  His family still runs the business, located on the road to the airport.  It has a little restaurant and it's a great place to have a cheap meal, away from the tourist areas.

 

Marianas Veterans' Memorial, with a fresh coat of paint from the Liberation celebrations.  This annual celebration lasts from June 15, the date of the American invasion, to July 4, which is Liberation Day, the date in 1946 when the last of the islanders went free and Camp Susupe was closed.


This building on the grounds of the Mount Carmel School is the only surviving structure from the NKK sugar mill that stood here before the invasion. The cemetery at Mount Carmel Church.  The Japanese Torii gate in the middle of this Catholic cemetery highlights the combination of cultures that has shaped Saipan.

 

At the intersection of Beach Road and Msgr. Guerrero Road stand the memorials to the Americans and the Islanders who died in the battles here.  While Saipan now has numerous memorials, these were the first, and I'm proud my father, Lowell Boothe, helped to build them.  They originally stood nearby, in the middle of the intersection, but were moved here as Saipan grew and traffic increased. 


Above:  Japanese memorials, intersection of Beach Road and Sugar Mill Road.

Left: Kristo Rai bell tower, one of the few structures from pre-war Garapan still standing.


I had never heard about the "face" on Mount Topotchau before, but when it was pointed out to us, I could see it right away:  in profile on the right side of the peak (looks a bit like Abe Lincoln.)

Here Sue and I pose with a group of former students of the Intermediate School (later Hopwood Junior High) who had our mother, Pat Boothe, as a teacher.  This was something that happened on short notice and we didn't even have a picture of our parents to share with the group.  It was a very special occasion for Sue and me and we are grateful to Carmen Gaskins and Maggie Cabrera for making it possible. 

 

Saipan, Part 2
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