Friday, March 1, 2013


Born on the Fourth of July

Iva Toguri was born in Los Angeles in 1916 on Independence Day.  She was the second of four children. Her older brother Fred was born in Japan. Her father Jun and her mother Fumi immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1913.  Both of her two younger sisters - June and Inez were born in the United States. The Toguri's were committed to "Americanizing" their children. Her father was delighted when Iva was born on the fourth of July.  According to Iva, "He was so proud of it! He wouldn't let me forget it! You'd think he won the lottery!"  

When Jun's import business failed he moved the family from Los Angeles to the dusty border town of Calexico. He started a new business as a middle man trading cotton. The rural, small town atmosphere was ideal for the active Iva who loved to ride her bike, roller skate and play baseball. Unlike her sisters, she preferred competitive games rather than sewing and cooking. Jun tried to interest his daughter in fishing, but she thought it was boring. She said she would rather be doing something than waiting for a silly fish to jump on her hook.  Her sister June thought she was a tomboy.  In his biography "Tokyo Rose/An American Patriot" Frederick P. Close summarized Iva's restless personality.  "Over and over as a child and as an adult Iva Toguri displayed her love of action. She was not contemplative.  Hers was an exterior rather than an interior life. She preferred doing over thinking or talking, working over sitting or relaxing.  Given a choice between board games and tree climbing, the youthful Toguri picked the tree every time."

Toguri's family attended a Methodist church. She was a Girl Scout, and she played on her high school tennis team.  At home in the evening she loved listening to radio dramas.  One of her favorite shows was the "Shadow" which began every broadcast with the ominous warning "Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men?  The Shadow knows." Another favorite was Little Orphan Annie. The popular broadcast chronicled the adventures of a young crime fighter and her dog Sandy. The twosome was rescued from tight spots by her millionaire guardian, Daddy Warbucks and his mysteterious Sikh Indian companion Punjab.  While she sat cross-legged on her living room floor listening to stories about a lonely girl pitted against evil forces young Iva could never have imagined she was destined one day to have her own radio show - the Zero Hour in which she would be featured as "Ann" orphan of the Pacific.

 To be continued
Quotations from Close, F. P.  p.2;1