Janson said my standing as French was pretty shaky, as I had worked so hard and for so long on the Free French Committee. So I called up the Vichy French consul and asked him if I really had any right to French immunity. I told him I had an American passport. He turned back in the records and found this entry:
Gladys Savary, nee Gladys Slaughter, born Genoa, Nebraska, America, was registered with the Consulate of France in Manila, Philippines, on April 30, 1931, Book No. 6, Registration 118, as the wife of André Savary, French national, born at Bapaume, Pas de Calais, France.
I asked him for a certified copy of that entry. He said he would issue me a French passport which I refused. So he sent me a copy of this registration with many stamps on it. Hope it works, for everyone seems to feel I should stay out and help from the outside. When I see Santo Tomas it enrages me to see all my friends locked up, helpless, in the hands of our enemy. Someone has to help, so Janson and I seem to be elected. He says we’ll be social pariahs when they get out of there and start telling how they suffered, when we were never locked up…
Yesterday I had a frantic telephone call from Mary saying the Japanese were there to take her house. I leapt on my bicycle and rushed up to the house. Her own beautiful home in the suburbs had been bombed very early in the war, around the 9th of December. Sure enough, the Japanese were there. They wanted the place for a newspaper office, giving us two hours to get Mary out. I got permission from them to take her personal belongings and food and we set to work. I got out her luggage and put her boy to work with her to pack what she chose to take. I wanted to get her husband’s things and all the tinned food I knew they had bought for the “emergency.” I talked the Japanese into letting me use her car and driver to take her to my house, as it is difficult for her to move too much. I paid no attention to her packing and concentrated on my part of the job. When I emerged from the house, staggering under a duffel bag full of food and two huge suitcases filled with Fred’s clothes, I found her already in the car with her bags, a workbasket in her arms and a garbage pail full of toilet paper. But when we got to the restaurant and started to unpack, I found all four of her bags completely empty. Both she and her boy had completely lost their heads and hadn’t packed a thing! I was frantic, but persuaded the Swedish consul to go back to the house with me. It was already occupied but they let me take her clothes and some more things of her husband’s. The Japs had thoroughly gone over his belongings but evidently decided that everything was too big for them and too small for tents, so they made no fuss about taking it away. I also got what I thought was the sterling silver, but it turned out to be a plated set belonging to Hester, who had formerly occupied the house. Mary may be difficult in any case; but Mary without her own clothing, and only toilet paper between her and a Lady Godiva act, would be extremely difficult. Am I glad I got the clothes!
This diary entry makes me think of a story about Fred’s clothes. He sent his chauffeur out to his house one noon while the Japanese were still trying to take Manila in December, 1941, to get some of his clothes which he had left. The boy had a suitcase of things, and a great load of trousers over his arm, when a Jap plane flew low and started strafing. The boy knelt down, trying to use the suitcase and the clothing as a shield—which was successful strategy. He wasn’t hurt but the handle of the suitcase was shot off and bullets went through the trousers. So Fred always said he had the zippers shot off his trousers, and when everyone is properly impressed, he adds: “But I wasn’t in them!”
The day hasn’t been exactly a picnic. I got Mary settled in one room—tragic when I think of her gorgeous home now in ruins. I did some marketing and bartering, did a few boy scout jobs via telephone, assembled the various packages made up from lists I had from Santo Tomas, saw Janson off for Baguio to try to rescue his wife and babies. He was armed with a first-class number, a Jap general’s pass with all permissions thereon, the Swedish flag painted on the roof of the car, and equipped with edibles and potables. I keep thinking about that flag—maybe the Jap strafing planes can’t see it until after they shoot. I am sad and uneasy indeed.
I had a hurry call to go see someone in the hospital. I took a taxicab there which broke down half way (cars
protest on this alcohol fuel). So I walked the rest of the way. I saw the poor lad in the hospital, got him what he
needed. Returned home and assembled my thousand and one bags and bundles and a big water cooler in another taxi, took two of the boys with me, drove by the ice plant and bought twenty-five kilos of ice for the cooler and started for Santo Tomas. I talked to Fred through the fence, reassured him about Mary, got my lists and instructions for the next day, and went home. There are a few customers about—neutrals, Filipinos and even some Japanese officers. Strangely enough, a couple of them speak beautiful French.
I am not very smart to be out loose. I should be in camp where decisions would be made for me. I wouldn’t
be working any harder inside. Guess I’m a glutton for punishment.
It’s nine o’clock as I write this. I am weary. The dearth of war news is killing me. Rumors are contradictory and so ridiculous; and the only newspaper is Japanese-managed, so what can one believe? That it is going badly in Bataan and Corregidor is apparent. The Jap planes fly over, drop their bomb loads, fly back, refill, and do it all over again. It is sheer murder, not war, what those poor devils are taking.
I listened to London on the short wave. It was very faint and, so far as I could hear, didn’t even mention the
Philippines. Treasure Island is moaning about the maltreatment of the whites by the Japanese here. Actually,
aside from the concentration of all white American and British, there isn’t too much evidence of actual mistreatment and brutality in Manila. I hear the yellow boys were pretty dreadful in the provinces, though. The
discipline of the troops in Manila seems quite good, much as I hate to say it. But it is disgusting to see them about. Indeed the Japanese is not a pretty race.