Saturday, February 11, 2012


I am really having trouble writing today.  This journal is about life on the farm.  It is not a forum for my personal opinions on politics, religion, pro-choice, smoking, or other controversial issues.  Yesterday, here on the farm, was spent reading a book I had been given, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford.  The reviews tout the book as "a Romeo and Juliet love story," and "conflict between father and son."  As such, it's a nice little tale.  The setting is Seattle, Washington, during the 1940s.  The "back story," the part I found so disturbing, is the rounding up (like cattle) and relocation (euphemism for internment) of 120,000 Japanese Americans.

You see, I remember much of those years.  My sister was in high school then and there were many Japanese Americans in her classes.  One day, they were all gone.  We lived not far from Santa Anita racetrack, which became a collection center for families displaced from their homes and dispossessed of all belongings.  They were housed in the barns and stalls until transported to permanent detention centers like Manzanar and Amache.  As late as the 1950s, my father, who was a realtor, could not legally sell a house to our gardener, Mr. Ozawa.  I knew these things.

I did not go to college until after all my children were born.  Early on, I was assigned a paper to write on prejudice.  This was sometime around the Watts riots in Los Angeles, and I knew my classmates would focus on the black versus white issues.  Taking another tack, I started to research the relocation of Japanese Americans here during World War II.  After countless hours in two of the largest libraries in our area, I found a two-inch column, another small article, and no books whatsoever.  By the 1960s, it was as if it had never happened.  It appears that history is written, not made.

Mr. Ford's book (he's Chinese, by the way) has a 2009 copyright.  "Farewell to Manzanar" is a documentary-type film.  There are articles on the Internet now.  A spotlight is finally shining on a dark period.  There are so many lessons to be learned.

I'll get back to farm life tomorrow.


Kathryn said...

It is indeed scary to think that history can be rewritten or wiped out. How are we to learn from the past if it has been expunged from our reference books? Maybe the internet won't be wiped clean.

Kathy V said...

I remember when I found out about Relocation. I was sitting next to my friend Dell Shitara in Algebra and she said that her aunt told her about it. She said they had dances. I said, "They did what?" Could not get my brain around that. In Cody, Wy there is another relocation camp. Some of the bare bones barracks are still there. Can you imagine Wyoming in the winter. Many, if not most, came from balmy California