Makiminato Youth Center's Final Day
by David Gasperetti
I was the last person inside the Maki Youth Center, removing the last of the furnishings. Hauled everything to the Kadena Youth Center for MWR [Morale, Welfare & Recreation]. Worked for AAFES [Army & Air Force Exchange Service], but with the term Motor Vehicle Operator as part of my title, I was offered the overtime, and did not pass it up. The lady that managed the Maki Youth Center, and her employees were now at the newly-opened Camp Kinser Youth Center. She and her crew were adamant that the Maki facility (which was formerly the Shuri Hills Officer's Club) was "extremely haunted"... . She and an employee of hers were supposed to help me load everything out, but she backed out due to being frightened of the fact that the only thing still open was the Commissary at that time. Out of range of even a blood curdling scream, I guess.
The whole base was like a ghost town at that point, so I am not sure I could blame her. She met me at the Kinser Youth Center, and just walked up to the front desk and handed me the key and said there was just no way she would ever go in that building again. So off I went, alone, to the Maki Youth Center. Parked the Chevrolet C-70 stakebed truck ( with liftgate ) at the top of the circular driveway, right in front of the entry doors. Went inside and loaded everything out. Wasn't much left; table and folding chairs, small fooseball table, and other assorted odds and ends. I even took the clock off the wall. I must admit it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop inside the building.
Outside, there was some noise from traffic off base, as the fence line was only a hundred yards or so away. I was looking over my shoulder the whole time I was there, Mick. I have to be completely honest. I am caucasian any way, but I was probably white as a sheet while I was there all alone, too. Waiting for who knows what to jump out and scare twenty pounds off my body weight.
Long story short, I got everything loaded and secured on the truck, and went in to do one last check. I stood there by the full length windows that faced west toward the now empty houses, and reminisced.
The sun had just set, so I had some daylight left to burn. I stood there thinking of how it used to be there, with all the houses occupied, the Center going full swing, and the O' Club that preceeded it as well. I thought to myself, never again will anyone live in those houses. Never again would the Center be full of laughing adolescents.
Click on photo to see more pix of the 1980 Dance-a-Thon
Photos compliments of Joe Lippeatt (ext237 @ flickr)
Never again would the dance floor be used by the teenagers for dancing or social events, or by the military officers/ DOD civilians with their spouses.
I thought of all the folks who must have passed through there in thirty five + years of time. All the wonderful memories and times shared. Now this was it, the end of the line. The end of an era. I did have tears starting to flow at that point, kind of emotional, I guess. I locked the doors and got in the truck. Looked down over the parking lot that would forever be empty, and drove away.
No ghostly things, but I wouldn't trade that evening for anything, as I was very blessed to be able to go through there alone, with just my thoughts, about a long-lived military housing area that would now be no more. The end of a wonderful era, so to speak.