Goodbye, Uncle Cold-Outside

I received an email from my cousin this morning that her father passed away. At the age of 97, he was the last living Sasaki of my mother’s generation, my Uncle Cold-Outside.


Uncle Cold Outside is second from the left.

Though I feel a huge sadness for my cousin’s loss and for the loss of a generation, I’d like to share a happy memory of my uncle–how he came to be “Uncle Cold-Outside.”

My mother was the youngest of nine Sasaki children. In fact, her next oldest brother was eight years older. From my earliest recollection, she told my four siblings and me that as the children of the youngest Sasaki child, we were not allowed to call our uncles by their Japanese names. She said it would be disrespectful. So, we called them by nicknames–like Uncle Fizzer–or “American” names, like Uncle Harvey. In fact, we called our mother’s oldest brother simply “Uncle.”

When we were young children, my uncles who were still single often helped my mother take care of us five children while my dad was overseas with the Air Force. You can imagine what a handful we must have seemed to a single man who didn’t have much experience with children, and I have great admiration that they tried to help their baby sister.

I can still remember my uncle responding to our whines of wanting to go outside saying, “No, it’s cold outside. Too cold outside.” And that’s how he got his name. Uncle Cold-Outside. I called him that even in my adult years, and though I hadn’t seen him for many years, I still addressed my Christmas cards to him that way.

My mother’s generation was a proud generation–Nisei–children born of Japanese immigrants. They were the generation that bridged our Japanese heritage with American culture.

I hope my cousins and I have learned enough from our parents to remember our heritage and pass it on to our children and grandchildren.

Rest in peace, Uncle Cold Outside. And may God bless the Sasaki Nisei generation.

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10 Responses to Goodbye, Uncle Cold-Outside

  1. Reblogged this on Velda Brotherton and commented:
    This is a wonderful story of the blending of cultures, something we in America know only too well. No matter what, we do it with great elan.

  2. Coousin Steven says:


    It really is a strange feeling to me not only to feel the loss of an individual with the passing of Uncle, but the loss of an entire generation of the family. It was not until I became an adult that I began to realize the quiet heroes we had in our midst that both endured and brought about such radical change in the world – truly a great generation.

    I fear that we know so little of their entire stories, but hope we have the opportunity to piece together all the parts that we do know. I love the story of “Uncle Cold Outside”. Reading about it strikes a note of familiarity with me, but I think I had long forgotten about it. Those few words somehow draw such a vivid picture of Uncle for me – and I can hear his voice as clearly as if he were standing right before me. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Yes, it was a great generation, Steve, so full of honor that I’m sure there are many stories we’ll never know now, because pride, honor and humility would not permit them to tell the story. I wish I’d been more persistent to ask.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your uncle.

  4. Mustang.Koji says:

    Your good family has endured losses as of recent… I am deeply sorry.

    Thank you for sharing your “warm” story of Uncle Cold-Outside. It was endearing.

    You mention bridging. Many Americans don’t realize how far that generation went to prove their “American-ism”. For nearly 25 years, these Nisei would only buy American cars for fear of being seen as disloyal. They wouldn’t dream of buying a Toyota back then… at least in general until the very early 70’s.

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Koji-san, I didn’t know that story about the Nisei only buying American cars, but it doesn’t surprise me. As I mentioned above, it’s sad for me to think about the stories we’ll never know now. But for anyone who might read this comment, Koji tells many stories that bridge the generations through history on his blog: I highly recommend it.Thank you, Koji-san!

  5. Dear Jan,

    You have a such a rich heritage. I love that you’re so generous in sharing it and yourself. I enjoyed this snippet of memory.



  6. Wonderful and touching tribute. I was remembering your book, The Red Kimono, and thinking I’d like to read it again. 🙂 Yes, dear, it was “that” good.

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