The Tiger Bar
By: Garland Davis
I met Ray in Yokohama in 1964 shortly after I reported to the Navy Housing Command there. Ray was thirty-one or two years old. He was a Third Class Commissaryman with three hash marks. We became good friends. Ray overlooked the fact that I was a twenty-year-old Second Class CS. He never seemed to resent my success and appeared to take pride that I outranked him.
Ray’s greatest talent was a hollow leg. He could drink more without ever showing signs of being drunk than anyone else I ever met. I once saw him drink a fifth of Canadian Club in about a six hour period and drive to the package store for another.
I guess the reason Ray and I became such good friends was because we shared the same goals. Beer and Pussy.
During the early and mid-sixties, the currency exchange rate was 360 Japanese Yen to One U.S. Dollar. Prices were cheap in the Japanese bars. Beer was usually 100Y and Whiskey water was 100Y or 150Y. Nikka Whiskey (personification of rotgut) and water could be had for 50Y. A short time with a girl usually cost 500Y to a 1000Y and an overnight about 2000Y or 3000Y. Ten dollars would pay for a memorable liberty and you would have to throw some coins away so you could say you came back broke. It was sort of like paradise.
Ray and I spent many memorable evenings in the bars of Isezaki-cho and China Town. There was a short alley in Chinatown. It was shown on the Security Department maps as Four and a Half Street. The Tiger Bar was one of Ray’s favorite places. There was the Mama-san and three older women who worked there. They were famous for the 500Y BJ’s in the back booth.
Ray shipped over for orders to Vietnam. Volunteers for Nam supposedly got a choice of duty afterward. Ray wanted to come back to Japan.
He collected a $600 reenlistment bonus for his six-year commitment. Ray insisted that I accompany him to Chinatown that night. After a stop at the Zebra Club for a few, he set a course for the Tiger Bar. There were no other customers as we entered the bar.
Mama asked, “What you want Ray.”
Ray placed Y72,000 ($200) on the bar and said, “Lock the door and everybody get naked.”
A memorable time was had by all.
2 thoughts on “The Tiger Bar”
Garland, I’m curious. I wonder if anyone other than me has had the experience of running into a bar girl who has married a sailor and came back to the states. I ran into one in the commissary at Naval Station 32nd Street in the mid to late 60’s. Memory fails as to the exact date and the name of the girl. Ha! Probably better that way. Anyway she recognized me and I recognized her. We gave each other a knowing look and never looked back. It was a deja vu moment! All my memories of her in her “previous life” came flooding back.
I deeply appreciate you and your memories Garland. Thank you!
George Tolman, CMDCM, retired in 1985.
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