Smiling, we commented on the Highway-20 sign, “CODY NEBRASKA, Population 177”, “Civilization? In the middle of miles of nothing.” We were greeted by children, vigorously waving from their yards, as we passed a couple houses. Easily finding the only restaurant, we parked, climbed the few old steps and opened the weather protecting double doors. The place was almost empty as it was already 2PM. Sam could see two seventy-plus ladies at the far wall booth, with tips already on the table. Without hesitation, Sam walked briskly over and asked, “Have you lived here long?”
One of the ladies, with questioning eyes and a tilt of her head, happily answered, “Yes!”.
Sam quickly went on, “My Dad had a cousin named Tom…”
She grinned and interrupted, throwing up her hands, “You mean Tommy Miyoo?! I used to work for him! I started as a teenager.”
Here’s what we learned:
Grandpa Goto had a cousin,
His name was TOM MIYAO.
He came from Hiroshima,
And worked at cooking chow.
He might have worked on the railroad
Spending time at the local bar.
We know for sure he lived in Grandview, Montana
All through the first World War.
He learned to deal cards In Billings,
Then was Winner, South Dakota, bound.
Tom was a regular gambler,
But one of the nicest ones around.
Old Jack Stotts brought him down from Winner
To manage the Cody, Diamond X Cafe.
Tom drove a fancy green convertible,
Visiting Goto cousins in Nampa, Idaho, that way.
Once he lost his diamond ring,
The help looked high and low,
Through the one street alley of Cody,
A week, a month or so.
Staring out the restaurant window,
The sun flashed on a facet.
Tom ran out to the alley,
Recovering his valuable asset.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor,
Tom thought it was a disgrace.
He went several days into hiding
And wouldn’t show his face.
They say Tommy was patriotic,
And all were recipients of his treats.
As men (some women) left for service,
Each got money, cigarettes and sweets.
Don Adams, the postmaster, laughs about,
Hershey Bar treats for his one-year-old son.
“Go wash, face dirty,” Tom would chuckle,
Making sure the duty was done.
According to Mildred Chubbs, his waitress,
Whom we’d met at the Cody Bar and Grill.
She’d worked through the late1930s and 40s,
Meeting us relatives, was a special thrill.
It turns out she is the town historian
And with Helen, her friend,
Went home and got some pictures,
Taking us to the cemetery at the end.
Tommy was a drinker
Which was his final downfall, and alas,
He chased some whiskey with ammonia
The cleaning lady had left in a glass.
The grave read: July 7, 1888 - January 21, 1963
Tom was 74-years-old when he died.
Colorful, but unremarkable gambler, drinker,
At a distance, his relatives had decried.
But those who live in Cody, valued him as family.
And to his grave, residents still bring flowers,
Thanking him for years of love and service,
Painfully, remembering his final hours.
No, we did not have a chance to try a steak in Cody. A few years latter in Dallas, TX, we came close with a $30 steak at one of the hotels there.