Heatherley Takeuchi describes herself As the ‘narrator’ of her family her goal in recent years has been to write a book about her parents to several relatives, mostly cousins, of whom she knows little. She wanted to get their story out there before it gets lost to time, like many family histories. The story involves her parents’ involvement in one of the most important events of World War II, which was also one of the most closely kept secrets.
After nearly four years of searching, she self-published her first book on Amazon, a collection of stories with the unique title of a family story, “Popcorn, cancer and the atomic bomb. Each name in the title covers part of her family history.
“Our family was like movie popcorn: always filling and entertaining,” she wrote in the book’s foreword. “We had fun, but we weren’t always prepared for the things that befell our little family of five, like when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.”
Takeuchi’s writing style is reminiscent of a diary filled with glimpses of events along the way through her parents’ journey of marriage and parenthood rather than a chronological account of their lives together. The search involved more than just rummaging through old family letters stored in a shoebox or piles of forgotten photos.
“My dad and grandfather were photographers and I have 18 boxes of pictures,” she joked, adding that the FBI might be “a little indignant that I still have his ID, but it’s from 1945.” She said that her father had obtained a number of patents for electrical measuring devices that he designed while working for the government. She only manages to find two of them but she believes there are more, possibly hidden in secret government files.
She described meeting her parents as meeting a young engineer, Kenneth Cline, and Mabel Bridges, a Tennessee farm girl, while they were both working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Manhattan Project which resulted in the production of the first atomic bombs.
The story is so personal that she dedicated the book to “all the people who fought in World War II, whether military, civilian, Americans, or from another country around the world affected by that terrible war.”
With editing help from a niece with a degree in journalism, he advanced the book in a “series of little excerpts.” She developed this way because she was born in 1962, when her parents were nearing their forties, and several years after her siblings, and she never grew up aware of her parents’ history. Much of the information she discovered was new to her.
While the book is about her parents, most of it is about her father because “we were on the same wavelength,” as he was an electrical engineer and she has a dual degree from San Jose State University in computer science and mathematics.
“I worked in the computer field for 17 years as a language and database technician at IBM,” Takeuchi said, adding that her job was eventually exported to Canada. “I’ve taught mathematics privately for 15 years here at Hollister, and I majorly major in upper-class algebra.”
What might seem remarkable to today’s readers is that her father, who was German and spoke the language fluently, was hired to work on a top secret project to develop weapons that could be used against Germany and Japan. But many Germans, including Albert Einstein, did. In fact, he continued to work there after the war until 1950, she said.
She told BenitoLink that she forgot to include one piece of wartime experience in her book that her parents learned in 1946. The married couple living down the street were FBI informants who kept tabs on the Klein family throughout the war. She also said that the cover of the book mentions Heatherley T. She was advised not to use her married name, which is Japanese, because The atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
She has been promoting the book through friends and Facebook. There is a book signing at The Farmhouse Café on January 14th from 2-4pm. There will also be an event, including popcorn, not yet scheduled, she said, at the San Benito County Library.
Takeuchi is already working on her second book, and this time it’s children’s fiction.
“It contains animals because my sister used to read to me when we were driving to keep me occupied,” she said. “she was reading”saviors’ Books by Margaret Sharp. My book will be kind of Steampunk Steve With animals. I’m in the rough first draft stage and have an artist all set to do the illustrations.”
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