Japanese American World War II Evacuation Oral History Project

Part II: Administrators

Edited by
Arthur A. Hansen
California State University, Fullerton

Meckler
Westport - London

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Preface

Consistent with the student-based philosophy and practice of the Oral History Program (OHP) at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), its extensive Japanese American Project was launched in 1972 at the urging of a then CSUF undergraduate history major, Betty E. Mitson. Mitson was enrolled concurrently in an introductory oral history class taught by Professor Gary L. Shumway, the founding director of the CSUF program and a pioneer in the national oral history movement, and in a historical methodology class under my tutelage. Coincidentally, she had chosen, with Shumway's guidance, to sharpen her technical processing skills in oral history by transcribing, editing, and indexing a series of tape-recorded interviews in the OHP collection pertinent to the World War II Japanese American Evacuation, the very topic I had selected for investigation by the students in my Historical Methods class.

At this point, I knew virtually nothing about either the method of oral history or the subject of the Evacuation. My motivation for assigning each student in my class to write a research paper on some aspect of the wartime removal and incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans was that the thirty-year anniversary of this event afforded a convenient way of imparting historical perspective to the contemporary concern with civil liberties, human rights, and ethnic consciousness. Mitson, a senior reentry student, soon convinced me that, because only the previous semester she had completed a research paper centered upon the Evacuation in another of her classes, she could spend her time for my class more profitably by doubling her processing efforts relative to the Evacuation tapes and by collecting and collating research materials for exploitation by her classmates.

One immediate result of this arrangement was that, in reviewing Mitson's processing work, I was drawn--or rather, I was plunged--into every facet of the oral history process via the topic of the Japanese American Evacuation. Before long I found myself becoming less Mitson's teacher than her student, as she instructed me both in the art of oral history interviewing and transcript editing. Moreover, the dynamic, dialogical character of the oral history data that I was working with had the effect of deepening my understanding of and stimulating my curiosity about the entire subject of the Evacuation. Mitson then encouraged me to suggest to Professor Shumway that the OHP formally constitute a project pivoting upon the history and culture of Japanese Americans, with particular attention being paid to the events surrounding World War II. Upon receiving Shumway's enthusiastic endorsement for this idea, the Japanese American Project, with Mitson as associate director and myself as director, became a reality.

During its seventeen-year history, the project has evolved through three discernible stages of development. The first stage extended through 1975, at which time Mitson accepted an appointment as the oral historian for the Forest History Society in Santa Cruz, California, and I succeeded Shumway as the CSUF-OHP's second director. The high tide of this stage was reached late in 1974 with the publication of Voices Long Silent: Oral History and the Japanese American Evacuation (coedited by Mitson and myself), an anthology of project interviews, interpretive essays grounded in these interviews, and taped lectures delivered by selected interviewees in a University of California, Irvine, Extended Education series which I coordinated. The annotated bibliography of project holdings that we prepared for that volume is instructive. It shows that the project had inherited thirteen interviews conducted for the OHP between 1966 and 1972, all with individuals residing in Orange County, California, who, for the most part, were of Japanese ancestry and had been


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interned during the war in the Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona. More importantly, it indicates that within the next two years project members generated seventy-three new interviews, and that these taped recollections encompassed the Evacuation experiences of Japanese Americans and non-Japanese Americans from all over California, though particularly from the Los Angeles area--the prewar residential, commercial, and cultural center of the mainland Japanese American community. In addition to addressing the situations prevalent for evacuees at the nine other War Relocation Authority (WRA) centers apart from Poston, especially the Manzanar center in eastern California that housed primarily evacuees from Los Angeles County, these interviews embraced the reminiscences of: (1) Japanese Americans who had been detained temporarily in many of the fifteen assembly centers managed by the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA); (2) resident Japanese aliens deemed "potentially dangerous" who were interned in one or more of the several centers administered by the United States Department of Justice; (3) children and grandchildren of the evacuees capitalizing upon the symbolic meaning of the Evacuation as activists in contemporary movements of ethnic consciousness-cum-cultural politics; (4) Caucasians who had been employed by the WRA as camp administrators; and (5) non-Japanese residents of the small communities in the regions close to the sites of the former California camps of Manzanar and Tule Lake. The latter was located near the Oregon border and was converted during the war from a regular relocation center to a segregation center for Japanese Americans deemed "disloyal."

What is less clear from perusing the annotated bibliography in Voices Long Silent is how this profusion of new interviews came into existence. Although Mitson and I were directly responsible for the production of a substantial number of them, the bulk of the interviews derived from students enrolled in successive seminars on the Evacuation taught by the two of us (after Mitson's matriculation into the CSUF Department of History graduate studies program and her appointment as my teaching assistant). During this interval, individual and group forays into the field by project members netted an array of oral memoirs falling into the categories noted above. The two most prominent student interviewers during this phase of the project, David Bertagnoli and Sherry Turner, undertook prolonged fieldwork with the aforementioned townspeople living adjacent, respectively, to the Manzanar and Tule Lake campsites. Then, too, other undergraduate student interviewers, notably David Hacker and Ronald Larson, substantially enlarged and enhanced the project's holdings by conducting key interviews with controversial personalities involved in intracamp politics at the Manzanar center. Finally, two other undergraduate interviewers, Janis Gennawey and Pat Tashima, played important roles during this period through the multiple interviews each added to the project's mushrooming archival collection.

The next stage of the project's development extended through 1980. This stage saw the addition of some thirty-five interviews, falling largely within one of four topical foci: (1) internees and administrators of alien internment centers; (2) celebrated dissidents at WRA centers; (3) Japanese American community leaders in Orange County, California; and (4) residents of the southwestern Arizona communities proximate to the former Poston War Relocation Center. The interviews comprising the last two categories were collected, respectively, under the aegis of seminars which I taught in conjunction with Ronald Larson and Jessie Suzuki Garrett in 1976, and with David Hacker in 1978. Along with Susan McNamara, Eleanor Amigo, Paul Clark, and Betty Mitson, each of these individuals, at one or another time during this phase of the project, saw service as the project's director.

More central and, perhaps, more consequential than interviewing in this period, however, was the technical processing and interpretation of the amassed oral data. Owing to a contractual arrangement between the OHP and Microfilming Corporation of America (MCA), a New York Times subsidiary, project personnel were obliged to transcribe, edit, and index our holdings so that they could be disseminated internationally by MCA in a microfilm edition. In addition to the project directors indicated above, three other project members, Paula Hacker, Elizabeth Stein, and Mary Reando, were instrumental in converting raw tapings into polished archival documents.

With respect to the interpretive work accomplished in this stage, project members produced not only two more published anthologies of its interviews, but also two unpublished CSUF Department of History master's theses and one lengthy scholarly monograph based upon project material. The first of the anthologies, Japanese Americans


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in Orange County: Oral Perspectives, was edited with an introduction by Eleanor Amigo in 1976. More ambitious in scope, as well as more controversial in nature, was the 1977 anthology, coedited and introduced by Jessie Garrett and Ronald Larson and showcasing the interviews transacted by David Bertagnoli and myself, entitled Camp and Community: Manzanar and the Owens Valley. The two theses, authored by Paul Clark and David Hacker, were completed in 1980 under my supervision. Clark's study, "Those Other Camps: An Oral History Analysis of Japanese Alien Enemy Internment during World War II," revolved around interviews he recorded (some with the translation assistance of Mariko Yamashita, a Japanese exchange student at CSUF affiliated with the project) with former internees and administrators of Department of Justice camps for enemy aliens. The thesis by Hacker, "A Culture Resisted, A Culture Revived: The Loyalty Crisis of 1943 at the Manzanar War Relocation Center," was informed by the many interviews in the project impinging upon developments at Manzanar, particularly an intensive three-day interview conducted jointly by Hacker and myself in the spring of 1978 in Norman, Oklahoma, with Dr. Morris Opler. A professor emeritus of anthropology at both Cornell University and the University of Oklahoma, Opler, during World War II, had headed Manzanar's Community Analysis Section. As for the unpublished monograph, Doho: The Japanese American 'Communist' Press, 1937-1942, it was authored by Ronald Larson and anchored by interviews done by himself and other project members.

The project's third stage, persisting into the present and encompassing some thirtyfive new interviews, has been characterized by cooperative ventures undertaken with outside agencies and individuals. The first of these had its origins in a 1976 project interview with the central figure in the so-called Manzanar Riot of December 1942, Harry Y. Ueno. This endeavor was capped by a widely circulated and critically acclaimed 1986 project publication, Manzanar Martyr: An Interview with Harry Y. Ueno, coedited and introduced by Embrey, the wartime editor of the camp newspaper at Manzanar and the founding chair of the Manzanar Committee (a Los Angeles-based activist group known principally for leading an annual pilgrimage to the Manzanar campsite in the Owens Valley), Betty Mitson, and myself.

The second shared venture, done in conjunction with the Japanese American Council (JAC) of the Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County, consisted of fifteen interviews with pioneer family residents of the Japanese American community of Orange County, California. Of these interviews, which were done by enrollees in a CSUF Department of History community oral history class composed about equally of CSUF students and JAC members, seven were with predominantly Japanese-speaking Issei (immigrant-generation Japanese Americans), whose transaction and processing necessitated the services of competent bilingualists. Fortunately, these were provided on a volunteer basis by college-educated wives in Orange County's large overseas Japanese business community who were affiliated with the JAC. Published as fully bilingual volumes including introductions, photo captions, and indexes, these interviews, along with eight other ones done exclusively in English with Nisei (citizen-generation Japanese Americans) comprised the first phase of the ongoing Honorable Stephen K. Tamura Orange County Japanese American Oral History Project, named after the founding cochair of the JAC in recognition of his rise from his roots in the local Japanese American community to appointment in 1966 as the first Japanese American appellate judge in the continental United States.

A third set of cooperative undertakings during the project's last phase has been the publication of two novels penned by project interviewees dramatizing the Japanese American World War II experience from contrasting perspectives. The first of these novels, The Harvest of Hate, was written by Georgia Day Robertson, an Orange Countain who supervised the high school mathematics teachers at the three camps in the Poston War Relocation Center during the war. Although submitted originally by Robertson for publication consideration in 1946, its ultimate publication did not occur until forty years thereafter in 1986. Issued jointly with the JAC as a hardcover volume (in June 1989, it was released by Lynx Books of New York as a mass-market paperback), this novel depicts the crisis of the Evacuation through the eyes of the several members of the fictional Sato family, who farmed in the San Diego area prior to being interned at Poston. The second novel, Seki-nin (Duty Bound), saw print in 1989 under the dual copyright aegis of the


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project and its Nisei novelist, George Nakagawa. Also published in hardcover form, this novel focuses upon the plight of a Seattle-area Nisei who, out of deference to parental fears for his future, forsakes his native country in 1940 to accompany his parents back to Japan, only to be drafted three years later into the Japanese army and sent to fight, and be killed, in China. Both of these novels, appended with portions of project interviews with their authors, have been widely reviewed in the mainstream and vernacular press.

In addition to these cooperative publication activities, the project has continued to extend and diversify its archival holdings. Consistent with its established pattern of collection, the project added more interviews with Japanese American wartime evacuees, especially those who took part in resistance movements; WRA appointed personnel; and social scientists who studied the Evacuation. But while these older categories were augmented, they were also broadened and variegated. For example, a 1982 interview with a Nisei teacher turned social activist, Hannah Tomiko Holmes, took up her wartime evacuation from the School for the Deaf in Berkeley, California, her incarceration at the Manzanar and Tule Lake centers, and her resettlement in Chicago as a student at the Illinois School for the Deaf. Then, too, a 1987 interview with a WRA administrator, Paul S. Robertson, highlights his seven-month directorship of the isolation center for alleged Nisei "troublemakers" established by the WRA in the spring of 1943 at Leupp, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. Instead of recording further interviews with those "applied" social scientists employed by the WRA through its Community Analysis Section, the project branched out to interview three social-scientific observers connected with the theoretically-attuned University of California sponsored Evacuation and Resettlement Study (ERS): Robert F. Spencer, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, who served as a field anthropologist at the Gila Relocation Center in Arizona; Charles Kikuchi, a retired Veterans Administration social worker who was an ERS participant-observer at Tanforan (California) Assembly Center and Gila Relocation Center and also collected life histories in Chicago among resettled evacuees; and James M. Sakoda, an emeritus professor of social psychology and statistics at Brown University, who carried on participant-observation for JERS at Tulare Assembly Center and the relocation centers at Tule Lake and Minidoka, Idaho.

Finally, this phase in the project's development has witnessed the production, in 1989, of two more CSUF History Department M.A. theses by project members. The first, "Medicine in a Crisis Situation: The Effect of Culture on Health Care in the World War II Japanese American Detention Center," by Michelle Gutierrez, makes resourceful use of existing project interviews with an Issei, Dr. Yoriyuki Kikuchi, Chief of the Dental Clinic at Manzanar, and Frank Chuman, the Nisei director of the Manzanar hospital. The second, "Interned Without: The Military Police at the Tule Lake Relocation/Segregation Center, 1942-46," by Reagan Bell, is heavily reliant upon interviews he transacted for the project with soldiers who were stationed at the Tule Lake Center as well as with a man who served there as one of its assistant directors. Both Gutierrez and Bell illustrate a practice increasingly being followed in the project: that of employing mature students rich in beneficial life experiences as interviewers, editors, and interpreters. In the case of the former, she graduated from a university with a degree in microbiology and worked for a decade as a laboratory technician at the University of Southern California/Los Angeles County Hospital prior to matriculating in the graduate history program at CSUF; as for the latter, a World War II veteran who witnessed his southern California classmates at Tustin Union High School being evacuated to Poston and other centers in 1942, he finished a twenty-year U.S. Army career, including considerable guard duty, prior to completing his B.A. in history and commencing graduate history studies at CSUF.

During the course of its seventeen-year tenure, the Japanese American Project has been fortunate to have the dedicated service and support of countless individuals. Apart from those already named, a number of other people associated in one or another significant way with the project deserve specific recognition for their contributions. Dr. Kinji K. Yada, a colleague in the CSUF Department of History and a wartime internee at the Manzanar center, has assisted the project as a resource person from its inception through the present; not only has he provided timely translations and trenchant advice, but also taught classes taken by project personnel in Japanese and Japanese American history and shaped and sharpened the M.A. theses of a selected few of them. Elizabeth Stein, now a


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faculty member in the CSUF Department of English, gave unstintingly of her time and editorial talents as an undergraduate while discharging her duties as the project's associate director during its second stage of development. Others who were important to the project for their promotional work in this same period were Duff Griffith and Reed Holderman. Since 1980, the project has benefited greatly, particularly in connection with its work on the Honorable Stephen K. Tamura Orange County Japanese American Project, by the efforts of volunteers drawn from Orange County's Japanese American population and the county's overseas Japanese business community. Noteworthy in the former category were the following individuals: Myrtle Asahino, Yasko Gamo, Susan Hori, Charles Ishii, Gale Itagaki, Hiroshi Kamei, James Kanno, Carol Kawanami, Grace Muruyama, Dr. Ernest Nagamatsu, Clarence Nishizu, Shi and Mary Nomura, Iku Watanabe, Dorothy Wing, and Rae Yasumura. The latter category was headed up by Masako Hanada and Yukiko Sato, who coordinated the team of translators, transcribers, and editors associated with the production of the bilingual volumes in the Tamura collection. Members of this team included: Keiko Akashi, Kokonoe Baba, Kazuko Horie, Hisako Maruoka, Etsu Matsuo, Setsuko Naiki, Kyoko Okamoto, Yoko Tateuchi, Yumiko Wakabayashi, and Chiharu Yawata. CSUF students instrumental during this third phase of the project have been Phillip Brigandi, Jeanie Corral, Richard Imon, and Ann Uyeda. Although the CSUF Oral History Program staff, spearheaded by its able and indefatigable associate director/archivist Shirley E. Stephenson, has facilitated the work of the project in a panoply of ways from its beginning, in recent years the role of staff members, Kathleen Frazee, Shirley de Graaf, Debra Gold Hansen, Gaye Kouyoumjian, and Garnette Long, especially in the area of technical processing, has been both spirited and substantial. During the 1980s, the project has enjoyed the support of two new OHP directors, Professors Lawrence de Graaf and Michael Onorato, both faculty members in the CSUF Department of History, the OHP's administrative parent. Finally, the four History Department chairs during the life of the project--Professors George Giacumakis, Thomas Flickema, Robert Feldman, and James Woodward--have demonstrated leadership beneficial to its growth and development.

Throughout its existence, the project has been largely self-supporting as a result of the sale of its assorted publications. In its formative years, a small amount of subsidization was provided by the CSUF School of Social Sciences and Humanities and a series of research grants awarded to student project members through the university's Departmental Association Council. The largest infusion of funds into the project came about, however, during its second developmental stage via Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) salary payments for trainees attached to the project. In recent years, financial assistance has flowed from several sources: (1) the Japanese American Council of the Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County; (2) the MAC NEEL PIERCE FOUNDATION, with student scholarships; (3) CSUF faculty research and travel grants; and (4) donations from project interviewees and their families.

Almost from its outset, project holdings and personnel have been consulted by a variety of researchers, from affiliates of local historical societies and agencies, both within and outside of the Japanese American community, through writers of doctoral dissertations and scholarly studies. The media have also turned to the project for assistance on a regular basis, extending from area newspapers through network television stations in Japan and the United Kingdom, and from low-budget documentary film makers through producers of mass-circulation feature films. Although the contemporary movement for redress/reparations to Japanese American survivors of the Evacuation has dramatized the value of project documents, it is likely that they will continue to be deemed valuable by researchers for many years to come, even after the project as an institutional entity has come to its inevitable end.

ARTHUR A. HANSEN

California State University, Fullerton
1991


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Introduction

As stated in my prefatory note, the World War II Japanese American Evacuation experience is central to the collection of interviews comprising the Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton. While most of the interviews focused upon this event are with interned Japanese Americans, a sizeable number recount the Evacuation from the perspective of those who served as administrators in the several varieties of centers established by the U.S. government for the wartime detention of people of Japanese ancestry. Thus, this volume of the Japanese American World War II Evacuation Oral History Project consists of interviews transacted with seven of these administrators. Collectively, these interviews, which possess an intertextual compatibility, evoke a broad range of administrative responses to the challenges posed by the U.S. government's decision to incarcerate resident aliens and citizens of Japanese ancestry.

Opening the volume are interviews with Richard S. Dockum, Abner Schreiber, and Amy N. Stannard, all of whom were high-ranking officials at alien internment camps. Each of these individuals were interviewed in connection with former Japanese American Project member Paul Clark's 1980 CSUF History Department thesis, "Those Other Camps: An Oral History Analysis of Japanese Alien Enemy Internment During World War II." These interviews have been reproduced here along with slightly abridged and amended versions of the introductions and endnotes Clark prepared for them in his thesis.

The interview with Richard Dockum, the adjutant (i.e., second in command) of the U.S. Army managed internment camp at Lordsburg, New Mexico, was done in 1977 at the interviewee's home in Lordsburg, with the assistance of local historian Mollie M. Pressler. Because Dockum was at the camp during the first year of its operation, his commentary contains vital information about the settling in of the camp community, encompassing internee relationships with camp officials--including a number of violent encounters with the military police--and residents of the nearby town of Lordsburg. Dockum also relates revealing facts about the two commandants under whom he served at Lordsburg, the "culture" of the camp administration, and the customs and ceremonies of the imprisoned Japanese aliens.

Like Dockum, the telephonic interview conducted by Clark in 1979 with Abner Schreiber is with a second-ranking official in a World War II alien internment camp in New Mexico who, after the war, returned to make his home in that state. But unlike Dockum, Schreiber's administrative role was discharged at the Santa Fe Internment Center, which was operated, not by the Army, but by the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. Whereas Dockum had a military background, Schreiber was a product of a legal education and prewar employment in the U.S. Department of Justice's Border Patrol. Moreover, it was when Dockum was departing Lordsburg, in the spring of 1943, that Schreiber was dispatched to the Santa Fe camp, just then beginning its operations. As with Dockum's interview, Schreiber's contains valuable insights into the personality and leadership style of his superiors, the activities of the internees, and administrative-internee relations. Perhaps the most important information contained in Schreiber's interview, however, is his depiction of the riot that occurred in the Santa Fe camp on March 12, 1945, following the transfer to the camp of dissident citizen renunciants from the tumultuous Tule Lake Segregation Center.

The interview with Dr. Amy N. Stannard, the sole woman to head an alien internment facility during World War II, was conducted by Paul Clark at her retirement community residence in northern California in 1978. Stannard's training was neither in the military or the law, but rather in psychiatry. In her interview, she describes her 1940


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appointment to the Bureau of Prisons at the new Federal Reformatory for Women at Seagoville, Texas, explains how in the spring of 1942 that facility was converted into an alien enemy detention center under the joint supervision of the Bureau of Prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and relates her successive experiences as Seagoville's superintendent and officer-in-charge. Although in declining health at the time of the interview, Stannard was able nonetheless to convey the precise dimensions and physical layout of the camp, delineate the different national, ethnic, chronological, and gender components of the interned population, and explore the special problems attendant upon being a woman administrator within a system dominated by men.

The remaining four interviews in this volume are with appointed personnel of the War Relocation Authority (WRA), the agency charged with administering the ten semipermanent centers housing the evacuated West Coast population of Japanese American citizens and resident aliens. The first two, with Robert L. Brown and Ned Campbell, are with men who served as assistant project directors at the Manzanar Relocation Center in eastern California's Owens Valley. In his interview, done with me in 1973-1974, Brown clarifies the circumstances that led to the selection of the Inyo County site for Manzanar and his role, as the secretary of the Inyo-Mono Association, in this process. He explains, further, how his prewar experience as a publicist for the area prompted his appointment as the public relations officer for the Owens Valley Reception Center, the official designation for the Manzanar camp during the period of March 21 to May 31, 1942, when managed by the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA), a quasi-civilian U.S. Army agency headed by Colonel Karl Bendetsen and charged with supervising seventeen assembly and reception centers for the temporary detention of evacuated people of Japanese ancestry. Brown, who was appointed the camp's reports officer by the WRA once this agency assumed command from the WCCA on June 1, 1942, and renamed the site the Manzanar War Relocation Center, discusses in depth the demands of his job, including supervising the production of the Manzanar Free Press, the camp newspaper, accommodating the administrative agenda and styles of five directors or acting directors during the camp's first eight months of operation, and acting as a liaison relative to the camp's relations with surrounding Owens Valley communities. Finally, Brown's interview is notable for his depiction of prominent administrative and internee personalities and factions and how these were implicated in the tragic Manzanar Riot of December 6, 1942, an event that led to the death of two internees, the wounding of nine others, and the elevation of Robert Brown to the position of Manzanar's assistant director.

Brown's predecessor as assistant director, Ned Campbell, covers much the same ground as Brown in his interview, though with a decidedly different twist. With Texas roots, a legal education, and disaster relief experience with the Red Cross, Campbell was employed on the Navajo reservation when, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the superintendent of the reservation, E. Reesman "Si" Fryer, was appointed the director of the regional WRA office in San Francisco and, at a sizeable increase in salary, made Campbell the agency's organizational man. Charged first with assisting in the preparation of the three camps comprising the Poston center in Arizona, Campbell, with the WRA takeover of Manzanar, was made assistant to the director, Roy Nash. As his interview indicates, Campbell continued in his post through Nash's short directorship and the still shorter tenures of acting directors Harvey Coverley and Solon Kimball, a situation which, in effect, rendered him as the camp's dominant authority figure. A close associate and confidante of Robert Brown's, Campbell became increasingly larded in controversy with conflicting internee factions, culminating in the accusation by Harry Ueno, head of the Mess Hall Workers Union, that he and Joseph Winchester, the camp's chief steward, were stealing rationed supplies designated for internees and selling them on the black market. The upshot of this accusation was the arrest of Ueno and his removal from the camp to a local town jail, allegedly because of his involvement in the beating of an unpopular internee spokesman, and a series of mass demonstrations that led to Ueno being returned to the Manzanar jail and, shortly thereafter, to a confrontation between military police and internees that ended in the tragic Manzanar Riot. Of interest is Campbell's contention that Manzanar's new director, Ralph Merritt, "a cold-blooded egoist," used the pretext of the riot to replace him with "his boy" Robert Brown, who had persuaded Campbell to join forces with him to promote Merritt's application for the vacant directorship. Quite apart from its contribution


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to an understanding of events at Manzanar, this account suggests that political in-fighting in the WRA camps was by no means limited to the interned population.

On the other hand, the interviews with Ed. H. Runcorn and Paul S. Robertson tend to belie any blanket condemnation of WRA appointed personnel as callous bureaucrats interested more in self-advancement than in the well-being of their interned charges. Both highly religious men concerned with putting their principles into practice, Runcorn and Robertson became associates and close friends during their days together at the Tule Lake Segregation Center in northern California after the former was appointed to supervise its cooperative stores and the latter to be one of its assistant directors. Runcorn, who was interviewed in 1973 by Janis Gennawey, grounds the discussion of his activities pertinent to the co-ops at Tule Lake and at the Granada center in Colorado in the larger context of the co-op movement, the comparative perspective afforded him as the WRA's associate superintendent of cooperative enterprises, and the overarching socioreligious mission incumbent upon him as a Quaker. That the camp co-ops were implicated in controversy in the camps is underscored by Runcorn's allusion to the brutal murder of the internee head of the Tule Lake co-op, Yaozo Hitomi.

Paul Robertson's interview, transacted by Reagan Bell and myself in 1987 at his home in Carmichael, California, embraces virtually the entire wartime existence of the WRA. Raised as a Methodist and schooled in architecture at Yale University, it was as a state of California agricultural official with wide and varied contacts among the Japanese American farm population that Robertson captured the attention of the WRA regional office in San Francisco, which in 1942 appointed him to a staff position. With the WRA's increasing commitment to relocation as against detention, Robertson was assigned to the national WRA office in Washington, D.C., to facilitate this objective. After the WRA deemed it necessary in 1943, following a protracted strike at Poston and the riot at Manzanar, to isolate citizen internees like Harry Ueno, whom project directors at the ten WRA centers designated as "troublemakers," Robertson was made director of the Tule Lake Segregation Center by Dillon Myer. Robertson's interview discusses how he was alerted to the essentially groundless and unsubstantiated charges against the men sent to Leupp, and how this knowledge conditioned the WRA's decision to close that center and transfer the majority of the internees to Tule Lake, along with Robertson himself. Robertson's recounting of his life and work at the WRA's isolation and segregation centers and his relationships with the reputed recalcitrant and/or disloyal internees at both places is singularly placid in content and tone. Somewhat more stormy is his depiction of his post-Tule Lake WRA employment as the supervising officer of the agency's efforts to assist the resettlement of Japanese Americans in southern California, an area still rife with the same racist feelings that had fueled and sustained the Evacuation.

ARTHUR A. HANSEN

California State University, Fullerton
1991

An Interview with
Richard S. Dockum
Conducted by Paul F. Clark and Mollie M. Pressler
on March 18, 1977
for the
California State University, Fullerton
Oral History Program
Japanese American Project

United States Army Internment Camps Administration Experiences and Army Career
O.H. 1612

©1980
The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton

Use Restrictions

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, 92834-6846.


3

Interview Introduction

For two years after Pearl Harbor, the United States Army maintained official custody of interned alien enemy males. This interview with Richard S. Dockum explores the administration of the army internment camp located at Lordsburg, New Mexico. Dockum's assignment there spans much of the period of the Japanese occupancy of that facility. As the camp's adjutant, or second in command, he is able to impart firsthand information and impressions of this early period of army internment responsibility.

Dockum's army career is closely associated with the military's reserve program. A civil engineer by college education, he drilled with the Texas A&M University Reserve Officers' Training Corps in the late 1920s. Called to active duty with the coming of the Second World War, he transferred among a number of duties during these hostilities, including an interesting postwar term in Portugal as an aide in negotiations with that nation. In August 1946, he finally left active military service to rejoin his family in New Mexico.

In the later postwar years, Dockum resettled in Lordsburg and established a business there. Through the courtesy of Mollie M. Pressler, a local schoolteacher, Paul Clark met and arranged this interview with Dockum while visiting Lordsburg in 1977. Previously, Pressler had written an unpublished paper on the Lordsburg encampment covering its entire wartime history. Pressler not only contacted Dockum, but also served as cointerviewer during the interview, which involved one evening session lasting a little over one hour. The interviewee's wife was also present at the interview. Subsequent to the taping session, Dockum reviewed the corresponding transcript of the interview; while limiting himself largely to small changes, he did add some significant material that had not been brought out when the interview was recorded.


5

Interview

  • Interviewee:
  •     Richard S. Dockum
  • Interviewer:
  •     Paul F. Clark and Mollie M. Pressler
  • Subject:
  •     United States Army Internment Camps Administration Experiences and Army Career
  • Date:
  •     March 18, 1977
Clark

This is an interview with Richard S. Dockum for the California State University, Fullerton, Oral History Program's Japanese American Project. The interview is being conducted in Mr. Dockum's home in Lordsburg, New Mexico, on March 18, 1977, and the interviewers are Paul F. Clark and Mollie M. Pressler.

Good evening, Mr. Dockum. We are pleased to be in your home tonight to interview you about your memories of the Lordsburg Internment Camp. Perhaps, before we talk about the camp, we should discuss your early career as an [United States] Army officer before coming to Lordsburg.


Mr. Dockum

Well, I was commissioned into the cavalry in 1930 upon graduation from Texas A&M University. I held a second lieutenant's commission for a number of years. Then, several years prior to the outbreak of war in 1941, I was commissioned first lieutenant. I held that rank when I came to Lordsburg in June 1942. My degree from Texas A&M was in civil engineering, which I practiced privately and with the state highway department in Corsicana, Texas, for several years prior to the war.

Of course, the war interrupted all that type of thing. I was called into the service while working in Dallas, Texas. I went to Camp Walters Reception Center at Mineral Wells, Texas. From there, I went to Clovis, New Mexico, where we opened a railroad battalion training base. I stayed there until June [1942] when I was sent to Lordsburg.

My wife and I drove into Lordsburg on a hot, June Sunday, and when we took one look at it, we decided we didn't want to stay here. (laughter) So we got busy and wrote letters, trying to get transferred out, but the [United States] War Department didn't pay any attention to us. We were assigned to the internment camp here at Lordsburg. The camp was still under construction at the time I came. Shortly after that, when it was completed, I was made adjutant under Colonel Clyde Lundy, who was the camp commander. It wasn't long before we began receiving Japanese internees.


Clark

You mentioned that you were in Clovis in the early part of the war. About what period do you recall that you were in Clovis?



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Mr. Dockum

Well, I believe that was from about March until June of 1942.


Clark

Do you recall if formerly there were any Japanese in Clovis that had been removed?


Mr. Dockum

No, not that I know of.[1] At Camp Walters in Mineral Wells, we had the Nisei Japs. The armed forces had centralized them into labor battalions, and they worked on housekeeping chores there at Camp Walters. One interesting person there was a Negro mess sergeant. He had these Japanese out there mashing cans for salvage. They accidentally broke the ax handles and hadn't anything to mash the cans with, so he had them jumping on them. He said, "Mash 'em flat, you sonsabitches. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here!" (laughter)


Clark

I understand that Colonel Lundy, the first commander of Lordsburg, was a pretty colorful individual. What was he like? Can you recall anything in particular about him?


Mr. Dockum

Well, he was rather typical "Army." Of course, he was a regular Army officer, having come up from the ranks. He started out as an enlisted man, but he rose rather rapidly. I'm not positive about this, but I think he was commissioned not long before the war broke out. He came to the camp as a lieutenant colonel and was later promoted to full colonel while I was here.

He [Colonel Lundy] was a very colorful character. He liked to be the typical Army officer, wearing his boots and carrying a riding crop. And to round out the picture, he got himself a dog. He'd take this dog with him and let the dog sleep under his desk. He liked to walk around with his riding crop, his boots, and so forth, putting on a show. He liked very much the old, formal entertaining that the Army had always had in peacetime. He wanted a party every Saturday night at the officers' club. His wife stayed in El Paso because they had a daughter who had rheumatic fever. Because his wife stayed there most of the time, it fell to my wife to be the official hostess at these parties. Every Saturday night we'd have a big party in the officers' club and always had receiving lines--same people, same officers, same everything. Well, we had some colorful parties and entertainment: masquerade-type things, as well as rather formal dances. He was always a great one for show and doing things the way he wanted to do them.

I remember when he first received and unloaded his equipment and brought his personal effects into his office. He unpacked his Army regulations, put them on the shelf, and said, "See all those books? Regulations are made to be broken in my book." (laughter) That was the way he looked at it. So we had quite a time there with Colonel Lundy.

Under his administration, half of the officers were required to stay on the base for two or three nights. Then they would switch, and the other half would be required to stay. He had me make up the roster of those that he wanted to stay on a particular night, because that was when he liked to play poker. We had the ones who were congenial in the poker games stay in one group, and all the others would be in the other group.

When I first arrived at the camp, as I mentioned, it was under construction and, of course, there was not very much for the military personnel to do. Lieutenant [James E.] Hughes was the adjutant at the time and was the only one who had the combination to the office safe. Almost every afternoon when it was time to lower the flag, Colonel Lundy would come into the headquarters and say, "Lieutenant, the


7
flag is down and it is time for a drink." Lieutenant Hughes would open the safe, and I saw that it contained nothing but liquor. Colonel Lundy was very positive about no one drinking before the flag went down, but after that, the sky was the limit.[2]


Clark

I understand, though, that he was relieved of command because of irregularities.


Mr. Dockum

Well, yes, he was. At that time, the Army still had this system of rationed savings--like in the old days. To feed the companies, they were allowed so much cash per day per man. If they saved any money on that, it went into a fund for the entertainment of the men, or for recreational purposes.

The companies in those days also had their own PX [post exchange] that they would operate as a company function. Any money they made from that went into their recreational fund, too. When we started the camp here, they were still under the system where they had rationed savings. This meant that you had so much for the men in the Army and, also, the same amount for the Japanese [internees]. Well, when the rations were issued, they were counted out and divided on that basis. The colonel was a little bit liberal with the Army personnel and short-changed the Japanese some. The rationed savings that accumulated wasn't always used to their best advantage. In other words, he was a little bit more inclined to bring things up to the officers' club than to put them down for the enlisted men, or to put them into the compound where the Japanese were.

Eventually, some of that was investigated and brought out against him. One thing in particular, when the International Red Cross[3] sent some band instruments in for the Japanese, the colonel had those taken up to the officers' club. Of course, when the Red Cross came and checked up, they very quickly had us move them in the compound. However, I don't think anything in Colonel Lundy's administration was too awful but, of course, these violations were charged against him. When the inspector general's department came in and made an investigation, he was relieved of duty. In fact, he was allowed to retire rather than having any formal charges brought against him. He was, however, relieved of his command here at Lordsburg prior to his retirement.


Clark

I understand that his successor was one of those who helped expose the irregularities.


Mr. Dockum

Yes, Colonel [Louis A.] Ledbetter came in to relieve him. He was formerly adjutant general for the state of Oklahoma and as such was in command of the Oklahoma National Guard. He had been called into active duty as a brigadier general and then was later relieved and put on inactive status. At this time, he was called back to duty as a full colonel, or given the choice to come back, which he accepted. He was sent in to relieve Colonel Lundy. Apparently, he was told to look for certain things when he came here, which he did. He went through the records pretty thoroughly and came up with some of these violations that I've mentioned. Then he requested the inspector general's department to come in and make a thorough investigation. This was done, of course, after Colonel Lundy was gone. I never did see Colonel Lundy again after he was relieved of command.


Clark

Do you mean that Colonel Ledbetter did this checking after Colonel Lundy was relieved?


Mr. Dockum

Yes. Apparently the Eighth [Army] Corps Headquarters had some information. That was the reason they had sent Colonel Ledbetter in. They had some specific things for him to look for. But we--the other officers and personnel--weren't informed of


8
that. You could see Colonel Ledbetter going through the records. He would ask me various questions about this, that, and the other. It wasn't long before he found out what he was after.


Clark

Were Colonel Lundy and Colonel Ledbetter the two main commandants here at Lordsburg while the Japanese were here?


Mr. Dockum

Yes. Colonel Ledbetter was still here when I was transferred out. I think he stayed the full time the Japanese were here, but I could be wrong.


Clark

What was their relationship to the Japanese? You mentioned Colonel Lundy's irregularities. However, besides that, what kind of program did he try to provide for the Japanese?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I would say that the Japanese were treated very well. They were not abused in any way. When I mentioned the fact that some of the rations were diverted from the compound to the enlisted mess or to the officers' mess, that sounds worse than it really was. The Japanese preferred their own type of cooking. They would prefer fish for certain meals, or they would prefer the bony parts of chicken and that sort of thing, in making up their dishes, rather than the best meat parts. So the Colonel considered their likes and dislikes by taking the best and giving them the other. (laughter) That's not really the case. Actually, they didn't suffer from that. From outward appearances, it did seem that they were being taken advantage of and not given things they should have had. But the Japanese were treated well and not abused in any way.

They were given baseball equipment, too. I can't think of any other recreational equipment. They had their recreational programs that they could follow if they wanted to. They did that pretty much on their own. The Japanese were very industrious people, and a lot of them put in gardens and raised various produce there. They were also very good at making things out of wood. They would take old mesquite roots and things like that, polish them up and carve them into various objects. They made these sandal affairs--what do you call them? You slipped your feet in, like this.


Pressler

Like a clog?


Mr. Dockum

Clogs, yes, that type of thing. They also did a lot of stone polishing, making various things out of stone and cement. They were pretty busy and kept occupied. I'd like to say, except for being confined, they led a pretty good life. It wasn't bad at all.


Clark

Did they organize themselves?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I don't remember much detail of the organization in the compounds. They had barrack leaders, and they had a mayor--if you could call him a mayor--for the compound. They would go through the chain of command for any complaints they had or for anything that they needed. Of course, we had officers who were assigned for this purpose, who took care of and looked after the Japanese. They were in consultation all the time as things came up.[4]


Clark

As adjutant of the camp, what were your particular duties?


Mr. Dockum

Well, mostly being a flunky for the colonel. (laughter) In the first place, I was commanding officer of the headquarters company, which took in all the headquarters personnel: the message center, the clerks, the headquarters company mess, the VIPs,


9
and all that. I'd make out the daily roster and so forth of all the headquarters company. Also, we had the hospital orderlies and the medical personnel in the headquarters company. Aside from that, I supervised all the work in the headquarters myself, and I was on call for the colonel for any particular sandwich or anything special. All the mail came through my hands. I sorted that out and passed on to the colonel anything I thought needed his particular attention. I also took care of all the switchboards and telephones, and the installation of the telephones.

I know that several years ago there was an article in the Lordsburg paper [ Lordsburg Liberal], that they couldn't understand why so many phones had been installed in a particular year. We [Dockum and wife] looked at that and traced it back. Well, that was the time when we were installing telephones in the camp and they told me they wanted so many phones in the barracks and so many up at the hospital. I went through and marked "Xs" on the walls. Everywhere I put an "X", that's where a phone was put in. They installed about eight hundred new phones that particular year. Not all of them were out there at the camp, but the majority were. We had one of the old-fashioned switchboards with about four men on duty all the time taking calls.


Clark

What kind of relationship existed between the camp and the people of Lordsburg?


Mr. Dockum

Well, as far as my personal feelings go, it was a very good relationship between the camp and the people of Lordsburg. Of course, any time you have an Army installation, or a group like that, you're going to have some unfortunate experiences. Of course, we'd have some of the boys come down there [to town], and they'd get drunk and get in fights, or one thing or another. But I'd say there was very little of that. We had the military police pretty well-organized and they'd keep track of the boys pretty well. They would stop anything that would come up pretty quick. We had our curfews and they'd see that they were all rounded up and on the bus back to camp.

We had one provost marshal who was an Englishman. He talked like a Britisher, you know. You might say he was a soldier of fortune. How he wound up in this particular assignment, I don't know. One night he was down at the Blue Moon Bar when a fight started. It wasn't between the soldiers, but among the civilians. One of them knocked another one out--knocked him on the floor--and he was kicking him and one thing and another. This Englishman said, "Don't do that!" So this old boy just turned around and cold-cocked him right there. (laughter) Next thing he [the Englishman] said, "That taught me to keep my nose out of somebody else's business." (laughter) On the whole, the relationship with the people in Lordsburg was very good.


Clark

I understand Colonel Lundy often did invite the townsfolk to the parties.


Mr. Dockum

Oh, yes. Quite a few of the local people were invited out to these Saturday night parties and dances, the ranchers more so than the townspeople.


Clark

Were the Japanese ever used as servants or waiters at these parties?


Mr. Dockum

No. They were in their compounds. I'm not quite sure of this, but I think some of them helped out in the hospital. They were not required to do any outside labor. They were offered a chance to work outside if they wanted to, and a few did work outside a little bit. But they didn't go for that very much.



10
Clark

You mentioned that the Red Cross made a number of visits to the camp. Do you recall visits by other organizations, like the Quakers?


Mr. Dockum

I think the Red Cross was the only one I remember coming in.


Clark

Mollie, is there anything you would like to ask?


Pressler

Well, about these parties. Do you remember anyone in particular that you would like to describe?


Mr. Dockum

(laughter) I don't know what you're getting at?


Pressler

How about the barn dance?


Mr. Dockum

Do you want me to describe myself?


Pressler

Why not?


Mr. Dockum

Well, there was this barn dance there. We fixed up the officers' club with bales of hay and so forth. We had the old artillery horses and wagons which were used by the quartermaster as the only means of transportation around the camp. We'd use those to haul supplies. On this particular night, we had these wagons meet the guests at the gate. They came to the building in hay-filled wagons. Then they had to crawl through a tunnel of hay going into the officers' club. Some local musicians--cowboys who played the fiddle and all--furnished the music. We had some cages with chickens and pigs all around to give it an authentic look. I was dressed as the old black mountaineer, barefooted, with a beard, hat shotgun, and a jug. My date for the night was Mrs. [Marie] Smart, a lieutenant's wife. She weighed about two hundred pounds. She had on a regular apron affair with sunbonnet, a corncob pipe, and GI [government issue] shoes. We were together most of the evening. We had square dancing and so forth. Colonel Baker was the doctor who ran the hospital. He dressed as one of the Japanese internees, and he would say, "So solly, please." (laughter)

Sergeant Moore was the cook for the officers' club. He had been General [John J.] Pershing's private chef, while Pershing was in retirement and recuperating over in Arizona. He was quite a good cook. He prepared the food and had the table very lavishly supplied for the evening with two or three different kinds of meat and all sorts of accoutrements. They fixed a "well" over in one corner with buckets, you know, that you draw up. One bucket had Manhattans and another had martinis. (laughter)

We invited the boys from the Deming Air Base[5] over for the occasion, and quite a few of them came. Lieutenant [E. W.] Mitchell's wife--Singee, we called her--dressed up as Daisy Mae. She had a little skit she put on imitating playing the old bass fiddle. She'd make the sounds and play the fiddle. Mrs. Causey, who was a civilian in town, came out and sang "Just a Bird in a Gilded Cage." I was so taken by all that; the way she sang it brought tears to my eyes. While I was squatted down there wiping the tears from my eyes, one of these boys from the Deming Air Base slipped up behind me and tried to give me a hotfoot. (laughter) But it didn't take; for some reason I never did feel it. Finally, the fiddler became drunk enough to fall off a bale of hay and that put an end to the dancing. (laughter)


Clark

Did the Japanese there have access to liquor?



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Mr. Dockum

No. They had their PX where they could buy toilet articles, shaving supplies, some cigarettes and candy, and things of that kind. But they had no liquor.


Clark

No beer even?


Mr. Dockum

No.[6]


Clark

When the Japanese originally came on the trains, how were they brought out to camp?


Mr. Dockum

Well, the trains came on this railroad [Southern Pacific] right out here on the El Morris Siding. The trains stopped there usually at two or three o'clock in the morning. When it stopped, of course, the guards came to meet them there, and they would unload them and march them over to the camp--about two miles. They'd march them up there, and they'd be fed and bedded down in the compounds by daylight.


Clark

What were the procedures of admitting new internees? What would you have them go through?


Mr. Dockum

Well, they were processed. They'd come in late at night, and they were fed and bedded down first. The next day they were processed through the custodial officer, Lieutenant Hughes. He took all their valuables from them--of course, giving them receipts for it. All the money was deposited in the bank. They were processed as far as where they were from and all sorts of similar historical data on them before they were actually turned loose to go their way in the compound.


Clark

Do you remember any particular problems with the Japanese that may have occurred while they were being brought to the camp?


Mr. Dockum

Well, of course, there were two or three incidents. The main incident was when two were shot trying to escape. The guards were marching a group up from the train one night, and two of them tried to escape. The guard called to them to halt. They didn't, so he shot them. There has been a lot of controversy over that, particularly recently. I've had occasion to talk to some local people about it, and they thought it was a pretty bad thing in that, if they had escaped, there wouldn't have been anyplace for them to go. They'd have been very easily apprehended. They thought it was pretty bad that they were shot. Still, the guard was under orders not to let them escape. He called to them to halt three times, as was specified, and they didn't halt. Well, he shot them.

We had our Colonel Bell, who was from the Eighth Army Corps Headquarters in camp at the time, making an inspection. He went down the next morning to look around and picked up the shells as souvenirs. He told Colonel Lundy that they ought to strike a medal for this boy who did the shooting. The people in town just really went wild over it. They took up a collection around town and gave him free meals, free drinks, and all that.

Well, as soon as the information was passed on to Eighth Army Corps Headquarters, we were ordered to put the man under arrest, confine him to his barracks, and court-martial him. Of course, that's just actually a routine that is followed in order to clear the man. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to take advantage of all the free stuff in town because he was kept confined to the post. He did, however, get the money that was taken up for him, eventually. I don't remember how much it was; it was a pretty good sum. He was court-martialed and, of course, cleared. He was shooting in the line of duty.[7]


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Another little incident that I was telling Mollie about was, one day some of the Japs were coming out of their PX, and one of the GI boys, for no apparent reason at all, jumped on one of the Japanese with a penknife and started stabbing him. Of course, he was pulled off very quickly, and he was punished for it. But we still don't know why or what provoked him to do anything like that. It was just one of those things. The old boy just cracked, I guess. These are the only incidents that I recall of any violence with the Japanese.[8]

We had, at one time, when a mistake was made, about fifty Japanese naval prisoners of war [POWs]. The Lordsburg Camp was strictly an internment camp for enemy aliens and not for POWs, and, as such, we did not have the required security to take care of POWs. These naval POWs were shipped to us by mistake when they were supposed to go to Sugarland, Texas, I believe. They were a pretty sullen bunch, and of course, being put in with the civilians was a bad thing. Our camp commander notified the headquarters, and when the error was discovered, they were transferred out almost immediately. They were here, though, for a couple of days. The Japanese internees really took on over these prisoners and made heroes out of them. They ran a Japanese flag out over the barracks and things like that. Of course, the colonel sent a man in and took the flag down and, more or less, put the guards under strict security orders for awhile until we could get those POWs out of there.

It was a rather tense time when all of this was taking place, you know. We didn't know whether there was going to be any kind of an uprising or not, so everyone was on guard to see if anything might happen.


Clark

I've heard that the Japanese POWs performed some sort of ceremony and shouted, "Banzai." Do you recall that?


Mr. Dockum

I don't recall that, particularly. Like I said, they ran the flag up, and there was quite a bit of commotion. I don't particularly remember that, but I do recall that it was a pretty tense time for all of us.[9]


Clark

Back to the shooting incident. Do you recall how many Japanese were in the group that was being taken up there?


Mr. Dockum

Oh, not specifically, but I imagine there were around one hundred.


Clark

Do you believe that the guard force was sufficient for that number of Japanese?


Mr. Dockum

Oh, yes.


Clark

About how many guards did you usually have?


Mr. Dockum

Well, let's see. We had three guard companies with about a hundred and fifty men in each company. They were assigned various duties, and they'd rotate on guarding the Japanese around the compounds and meeting the trains. I don't remember, specifically, how many guards they had, but they had an officer in charge of a platoon, maybe twenty-five men to meet the train and bring them to camp.


Clark

What happened to the two individuals who were shot?


Mr. Dockum

I believe that those particular ones were cremated. Their next of kin were notified and they [the next of kin] supplied the money to ship their ashes to them.



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Clark

I understand that three individuals are still buried there at Lordsburg?


Mr. Dockum

We'll take Mollie's word for that; I don't know.[10] Most of them wanted to be cremated when they died. Several died, and they wanted to be cremated and their ashes sent to their families. In some cases they weren't able to raise the money to have it done, so we couldn't ship them [the deceased] to Albuquerque to be cremated. If the money couldn't be raised, they were buried here. Later, I understand, some were dug up and cremated. But I never did know how many were left.


Pressler

There's Judge [H. Vearle] Payne who cited two examples. He stated that two had been shot, and he went out with Mr. [Jack] Heather to bury the two.


Mr. Dockum

Jack Heather was the mortician. Dr. [James H.] Baxter was here then, and he always helped to get things together and taken care of. That's how I first got to know Dr. Baxter. (laughter)


Clark

Did some of the Japanese try to tell these other individuals who'd run away to come back?


Mr. Dockum

I really don't know. I wasn't there, personally, at the time. Of course, since I don't speak Japanese, I couldn't have understood them anyhow.


Clark

Do you know what kind of reaction the Japanese had to the shooting incident?


Mr. Dockum

Well, they didn't like it, of course. They resented it and they felt that they'd been taken advantage of. As far as any strong showing in their conduct, well, I don't recall anything out of the way.


Clark

Did the Spanish Embassy make any investigation?


Mr. Dockum

No, not to my knowledge. I think the International Red Cross checked it out. A Swiss came here with the International Red Cross several times. I could be wrong on that, but it seems to me that they did make an investigation through the Red Cross. But I don't remember any embassy personnel coming in.

The [United States] State Department came in and had some hearings at different times. They called in some of the Japanese for interrogation and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] was there.[11]


Clark

Do you know anything about these FBI hearings?


Mr. Dockum

No, except that they were, of course, investigating all personnel who were potential enemies of the country. They were checking out the records on quite a few of the internees. At that time, I remember being very much impressed with the thoroughness of the investigation, and of the files that they had on these men. I was really proud of the work our FBI had done in assembling the data on these different people.

Of course, in later years, particularly just the last couple of years, there has been a lot of criticism of Americans for mistreating the Japanese and breaking up their families and putting them into these camps. It's a funny thing, but at the time I never even thought of these people as having families. They were enemy aliens and they were picked up because they were potentially subversive people. They were isolated and put into this camp. As far as we were concerned, they were enemies to the American people. They were treated as enemies, although they were not abused


14
in any way, shape, or form. They had on occasion shown where their sympathies were. They were very sympathetic to Japan's cause. They were elated over any news that they could get that Japan was winning. I'm sure there were some mistakes made in rounding these people up. But I'd have to say that the FBI did a darn good job in having the information on the people and in isolating them so that they were not able to do any damage as far as the war cause was concerned.


Pressler

Do you remember if you had any Nisei here? Were Issei the only ones here?


Mr. Dockum

Well, no. I'm confused on Issei, Nisei, and that sort of thing. The Nisei, as I understand it, are the ones who were born in this country. We didn't have any of the younger ones. In Camp Walters, we did. There were Nisei Japs, the younger ones, there in the Army. At Lordsburg, they were all older people and they were not naturalized citizens. They were over here doing business on the West Coast, Hawaii, and Alaska and in a position to do damage to the country, if the opportunity presented itself. Their sympathies were all with the Japanese nation and their war.

I can't go along with the present thinking that the Americans were treating the Japanese so badly. This was all-out war; we had to protect ourselves and I think the FBI and the Army and all did a darn good job in rounding these people up and placing them in a situation where they couldn't do damage to the country.


Clark

Did the Japanese internees display their loyalty to Japan in ceremonies or any other particular way?


Mr. Dockum

Like I say, when they would get any news of a Japanese victory or anything of that kind, they would show their elation over it. They would show that they were very pleased. They'd talk to us and let us know that we were losing the war and that sort of thing.

Of course, when the naval prisoners of war came in, well, they were all heroes. They [the internees] just really took on over them, showing their loyalty to their country.[12]


Clark

Do you know of any cultural activities that they may have put on?


Mr. Dockum

Yes, they put on some skits there in the compounds. I remember one time in particular. Captain [Phillip] Bond was a doctor in the Army hospital who had quite a good baritone voice. So they invited him to come to the compound and hear their musical renditions. He asked me to go with him, and we went into the compound where they put on their play. I can't say that I enjoyed it too much, except that it was a curiosity. They had their five-string instruments, and they played this offkey "noise," so to speak, and their vocalizing was more of a chanting than anything like singing. It was very interesting just from that standpoint. When they finished, they asked Captain Bond to sing for them, so he sang "Home on the Range" and one or two other songs. That was the only time that I personally attended anything like that in the compound, but they did that every so often.

At Christmastime, they had their own ceremonies that weren't anything like ours. They dressed up in fantastic costumes and masks. They had their bells and gongs, and they paraded around and made these noises. They went through the hospital, particularly, making noise and parading.


Pressler

What about their burial ceremonies?



15
Mr. Dockum

They had their own burial ceremonies. I can't describe them to you vividly, except that they were unusual from our standpoint. One time, they wanted to cremate this fellow, and they couldn't raise the money. So they started a procession. They had their noisemakers and their Shinto priests, and the procession was starting toward the cemetery. In the meantime, his friends in the compound were taking up a collection of coupons that they were given to spend in the PX, trying to raise enough money to have him cremated. So they'd stop the procession and count the coupons. Well, there wouldn't be enough, and the colonel would say, "Bury him!" Off they would go again starting the procession about three times, and they never did collect enough money to cremate the fellow. They went on and buried him. He may be one that was exhumed later or he still may be out there.

That afternoon we were supposed to come over to Fay Clayton's house--where we were living--for a party. I had trouble getting away from headquarters because this procession was delayed so many times. Well, finally, when I did, a train had been coming on the tracks down here. Somebody said that it had derailed and that a coffin had fallen off, and I said, "My God! There's that Jap again!" (laughter)


Clark

Do you remember a newspaper that the Japanese put out? I believe it was called the Lordsburg Times.


Mr. Dockum

No, I don't recall a newspaper.[13]


Clark

Did the soldiers there put out any type of publication?


Mr. Dockum

Not that I recall.


Clark

What was your impression of the type of guards at the camp? What kind of fellows were they, in general?


Mr. Dockum

Well, for the most part they were good people. They were older men who were not qualified for war duty. They were older and some of them disabled more or less. They had things that were keeping them from serving in the troops and going overseas. On the whole, they were a very good bunch of men, easily controlled, and that sort of thing.


Pressler

What about the monotony of that camp? I recall that you told me of one attempt at breaking the monotony.


Mr. Dockum

Yes, you're referring to guard duty, which is very boring. It's very boring business being in guard towers all around the compound. The soldiers had to watch the fences and all to see that the Japs didn't try to get out. They'd get so bored they didn't know what to do while sitting up in those guard towers. So one night when I was officer of the day I heard shooting going on out there and then the calling, "Corporal of the guard! Corporal of the guard!" I grabbed my pistol and ran out to see what was going on. A guard up in the tower had been shooting at the rabbits. (laughter) So in the report, of course, they had to make a report of it, he said that he just became so damn tired of seeing those rabbits running around that guard tower that he couldn't keep from shooting at them. (laughter)


Pressler

Were there any attempts to escape?


Mr. Dockum

Not that I recall, no. We didn't have any attempted escapes from the compounds; at least it didn't amount to anything, if they did. We had another case that was kind of funny: the Japanese would be out in the recreational area, and just out of


16
boredom they would get too close to the fence. They'd been told to stay at least ten feet back from the fence. One Jap went out there and walked up to the fence post, and the guard called to him, "Move back." The internee just leaned against the post and looked up at him with a smile on his face like, "What the hell are you going to do about it?" So the guard just raised his rifle and put a hole through the fence post. The last time I saw the Jap, he'd gone around the corner of the barrack. He didn't slow down![14]


Clark

How long were you stationed at Lordsburg?


Mr. Dockum

From June 1942 until Easter Sunday of 1943.


Clark

And after that, where were you transferred?


Mr. Dockum

I was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas. I was put on a horse and trained on a horse for a while. (laughter)


Pressler

You were there on a horse at twenty below?


Mr. Dockum

It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't, of course, twenty below. We trained on horses there for a while, in the reception center. Later, I went through the cavalry school. Of course, at that time, they were changing everything over to a mechanized cavalry. In the school, we used the mechanized equipment, the personnel carriers and tanks. Until they decided to send us through school, we went down and played nursemaid to the horses and drilled on the horses.


Clark

Were you ever sent overseas?


Mr. Dockum

Yes, from Fort Riley, Kansas I was put into the Eighth Army Corps Area Headquarters, and went through about three months of training with the inspector general's department. I was then sent to Fort Hood, Texas, where I stayed about a year. From Fort Hood, I was sent overseas to the Azores until 1946.

The war in Europe was over soon after I arrived there. We were occupying Terceira Island jointly with the British. On Santa Maria Island, we built our own base. Of course, it caused quite a bit of rancor among the Germans and all because we were allowed to come into the Azores there--Portugal being a neutral country. But after the war in Europe was over, the United States wanted to continue the use of these bases for some time. So we were negotiating with Portugal on the continued use of the bases. I was very fortunate in being able to enter into those negotiations.

During the lapses in negotiations, I spent quite a bit of time in Lisbon with our commanding general [A. W. Kissner] there and in various different places. We toured Europe to see what damage had been done. Our commanding general had been with the Eighth Air Force stationed in England which had done the bombing of Germany. He was anxious to see it. So we went from Portugal to Paris, then to Wiesbaden, Germany, and to Berlin, then back around to Hamburg. We flew over the Normandy Beach where they had the big invasion on D-Day, and all the ships and everything were still there. Then we went into London, back to where his headquarters was, on one of the big estates called Elvendon Hall.

The headquarters had taken over the main building on the estate, and the people who owned it had moved into one of their smaller houses. The general wanted to see them, so we went down to call on them. Quonset huts that the troops had been stationed in were still scattered around the estate there and back into the trees. In


17
order to protect the main building, the manor house, they had put Sheetrock over the walls. I know there was a big map of America on the wall and they had a great big map of Texas on it, and then the rest was called "unexplored territory." (laughter) We went down to the little church, there on this estate, that the general and the men in the Eighth Air Force had put a stained glass window into. The general wanted to see if it had been done properly.


Clark

Would you like to talk about the negotiations with Portugal a bit?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I was, of course, very, very silent. I was, more or less, an aide to the general and, as the negotiations proceeded, to different members of the State Department who were sent in to help. One little incident occurred because I became kind of fed up with the way that we would write our agreements up and send them to [Antonio de Oliveira] Salazar who was the prime minister of Portugal.[15] The Portuguese people just don't operate like we do. They don't work eight to five, six days a week. On Thursday or Friday the weekend starts, and they go off to the mountains for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and come back on Tuesday. Then perhaps they don't feel like doing anything on Tuesday, so maybe they'll work on Wednesday and Thursday. We'd send these things in and he [Salazar] would be tending to other business, so he wouldn't even read it. Well, we'd sit around cooling our heels and get no response, so we'd rewrite it. The first thing you know, we were giving in all the time. One time we were flying from Paris back to Lisbon on General Lawrence Kuter's plane, and he could tell that I didn't approve of what was going on. He just handed me a tablet and a pencil and said, "Well, you write it." (laughter) So I wrote it straight from the shoulder the way I thought it should be. I handed it back to him; he just kind of smiled and tucked it in his bag, and that was the last of that. (laughter) I wasn't very diplomatic.

Another thing that I didn't know until several years after I was back in the States was that General Kuter was with Roosevelt and Churchill at the Yalta Conference.[16] He was the military adviser with them and I didn't know that. He was our commanding general with the North Atlantic Wing of the Air Transport Command. He came in on those negotiations and I didn't know that he was in on the Yalta Conference. I saw the photograph later, and there he was, big as life, right up with the rest of them.

Also, while I was there, we had an opportunity one weekend to take General Kuter's plane and fly over to Casablanca. We stayed in the same hotel that they, Roosevelt and all of them, did when they had their big Casablanca meeting.[17]


Mrs. Dockum

Where was it that they thought you were a general?


Mr. Dockum

Well, they didn't think I was a general, but we had to wear civilian clothes in Portugal. So we'd get out there and you wouldn't know if I was a private or what. One or two mistakes were made. When we were coming back to the Azores, there was a lieutenant who was going back to the United States, and he rode with us to the Azores. I was in civilian clothes. A major met us there, and I said something to him about taking care of the lieutenant. The major said, "Yes, sir; yes, sir!" I was just a captain. (laughter) One other time, I went from Kansas down to New Orleans to see my brother. I went on a general's plane there, and it was raining. While the general was waiting for a car to come out to get him, I got off in the rain and they were all standing at attention when I got off.


Clark

Would you like to recount anything else about your Army life? You're retired now, I assume.



18
Mr. Dockum

Well, I'm still in the inactive reserve. Of course, I was commissioned in 1930 when they had these pay raises every three years, and they were called "fogies." You could have only five fogies in one grade; that would be the tops. Then you had to get a promotion and you could start in again. I had fifteen years of service completed when I was over there in Portugal, and these guys who fixed my paycheck all thought I was in the regular Army. (laughter)


Clark

Oh, at that time you were in the negotiation in Portugal, you were a reserve?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I was a reserve on active duty, you see. Originally, they didn't count reserve time on your pay. You had to have so much active duty time to get these fogies. In the reserve ranks, each fogie was five years. Active duty was three years. I had three fogies, or fifteen years, showing on my record. Well, later, they made it so that all reserve time counted on your pay, so that helped us quite a bit. When I was drawing my pay over there, I had fifteen years as a commissioned officer. Not many reserves had that; most of them were just starting.


Clark

You seem to have come full circle, in a way. You spent time in Lordsburg during the war. How did you happen to come back to Lordsburg again?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I was over in the Azores with General Kissner and I was due to get out of the service. Still, I was taking these trips, and it was all very interesting work, and the general didn't want to let me go. He wanted me to stay in there. In fact, he wanted me to go into the regular Army, you see. But Mary was at home with our little girl, and she got tired of staying at home and just going to church. So she decided to get in the car and go to Santa Fe, [New Mexico]. She wrote me a letter and said, "Either you're having such a good time that you don't want to come home, or else the general is taking advantage of you. Either way, I'm going to Santa Fe, and you can come home when you're damn good and ready!" (laughter) So I showed it to the general and he said, "Maybe you'd better go home." I came back on August 26, 1946, and went to Santa Fe. We stayed up there awhile.

Then I joined this Lieutenant Mitchell who was the intelligence officer here at the camp. His family had a feed business in Roswell, [New Mexico]. So I got in touch with him. He wanted me to come and work for him, so we went to Roswell. I worked for him for several months. In the meantime, this Fay Clayton kept thinking there was a good opening here to get into a kind of ranch supply store. So we came back here to investigate that, and we ended up staying here. During the war, we had made a lot of good friends among the ranchers and people here and liked it. So we didn't mind coming back.


Pressler

Well, this is a good climate.


Clark

So you came back here.


Mr. Dockum

Yes, we came back and then ended up buying this propane business. I was in that from 1948 until November 1974. Since then I have been retired and playing golf when I can. (laughter)


Clark

Is there anything else about your experiences at the Lordsburg camp that you'd like to say, anything that might come to mind?


Mr. Dockum

Yes. One Sunday a group of people came out to visit the camp. Among them was Mrs. Sage, the wife of General Sage who, as adjutant general, took the New Mexico


19
National Guard into war in the Hawaiian Islands. He was later captured, and was on the infamous death march in the Philippines. She, particularly, was furious at the good treatment the Japs were receiving and particularly because they were getting cokes and things like that which were not available to the average citizen.

I think that about covers it.


Clark

One thing comes to my mind. What kind of relationships, if any, did you have with, say, the Immigration and Naturalization Service or with other departments within the government that handled these internees?


Mr. Dockum

Well, I don't remember any immigration people, as such. We did have some border guards, and that was Army. You may have heard or know of these old Army posts that were stationed all up and down the Mexican border: Fort Brown at Brownsville, Fort Clark at Brackettville, Fort Bliss at El Paso, and Fort Huachuca over in Arizona. Those forts were the old cavalry posts all up and down the Mexican border.

While I was taking the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] training in school, we always trained at Fort Clark in Brackettville. During the First World War, those posts were very active and patrolled the border. They started out with horse patrols in the Second World War, and then they were changed to mechanized. They patrolled the border from one end to the other with jeeps and whatnot. We used to see those boys when they'd come into camp every so often and stay a day or two and then go back to the border. But the Immigration Service people, as such, I don't remember.


Clark

Where were you born, sir?


Mr. Dockum

In Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas.


Clark

May I ask the date?


Mr. Dockum

On November 15, 1907.


Clark

What school did you attend?


Mr. Dockum

Corsicana schools and then to Texas A&M University.


Clark

While there, is that when you went into the ROTC?


Mr. Dockum

I was in ROTC during college, yes.


Clark

Is there anything that you'd like to add, Mollie, before we close?


Pressler

No.


Clark

Okay. I'd like to thank you very much, Mr. Dockum, on behalf of the Japanese American Oral History Project at California State University, Fullerton, for taking time this evening to tell us about you Army experiences.


Mr. Dockum

You're welcome.



20

Notes

1. At the time that the United States and Japan became embroiled in World War II, there was in Clovis a small group of resident Japanese aliens, all employees of the Santa Fe Railroad, and their families (ten men, five women, and seventeen children) who lived together in a compound owned by the railroad. In January 1942, the U.S. government removed them to the Old Raton Ranch, an abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps camp located twelve miles from Fort Stanton in the northeast corner of New Mexico. In December 1942, they were transferred to War Relocation Authority camps in Utah (Topaz) and Arizona (Poston and Gila River) for internment. For an interesting overview of this situation and the forces shaping it, see John J. Culley, World War II and a Western Town: The Internment of Japanese Railroad Workers of Clovis, New Mexico, Western Historical Quarterly 13 (January 1982): 43-61.

2. For a differing perspective of the drinking at Lordsburg, see the interview with Herbert Nicholson by Betty E. Mitson in Voices Long Silent: An Oral Inquiry into the Japanese American Evacuation, ed., Arthur A. Hansen and Betty E. Mitson (Fullerton, Calif.: Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton, 1974), 128-29, 130.

3. The International Red Cross originated from the Geneva Convention of 1864. Later treaties amended and strengthened this protocol; for example, the Geneva Convention of 1929 gave the International Red Cross special status in dealing with war prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross serves as the organizations coordinating body.

4. The internee self-government structure was laid out in military fashion. The camp was divided into three "battalions" headed by an elected governor; in turn, these battalions were subdivided into four "companies" supervised by an internee mayor. See Michi Weglyn and Betty E. Mitson, eds., Valiant Odyssey: Herbert Nicholson in and out of America's Concentration Camps (Upland, Calif.: Brunk's Printing, 1978), 69.

5. The town of Deming, New Mexico, is located approximately fifty-five miles east of Lordsburg.

6. The availability of beer in the internee canteen is mentioned in a letter from Masaru Akahori to his family, dated May 1943, after Dockum had been transferred from the Lordsburg camp. See folder 7, box 9, Akahori Family Papers, Japanese American Research Project (JARP), Department of Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

7. A number of sources detail this incident, including Weglyn and Mitson, 69-70. Both the Japanese protest and the American reply are contained in an official contemporary source. Reads the first: "A party of Japanese subjects numbering 147 were transferred from Bismarck Internment Camp in North Dakota to Lordsburg Internment Camp in New Mexico. Under escort of American soldiers they arrived 27th July, 1942 at 1:45 AM at a station on Plateau near Lordsburg. Two men of party, Shiro Kobata and Hirota Insomura, who were invalids aged nearly sixty years, former suffering from tuberculosis and latter from spinal disease caused by injury while at work in fishing boat, were unable to walk any further, and had to follow party in automobile escorted by soldiers. Party felt uneasy about these two persons, as they failed to join them at Lordsburg Camp. Moreover reports of gun heard in direction of station gave them evil forebodings. So they made inquiries at camp office and office of army surgeon, but no definite information was given. It was announced by camp office next morning two invalids had been shot at dawn 27th on charge of attempt to escape. It is inconceivable that aged invalids hardly able to walk should while under


21
military escort have attempted to escape. The person who escorted two men, it is learnt, was committed for trial by court-martial, but was acquitted." Ran the American reply: "The proceedings of the board appointed to investigate the matter revealed that in the early hours of July 27, 1942, one hundred and forty-seven internees arrived at the Lordsburg Railroad Station from Bismarck and were escorted by military police to the camp. The two internees, Toshiro Kobata and Hirota Isomura, who were reported to be unable to keep up with the column on the march to the compound were permitted to walk behind at their own pace, accompanied by a guard. They were ordered to keep on the main highway in the center of the road, but were permitted from time to time to rest. At times they walked slowly, at other times they proceeded rapidly. Before coming to the main gate of the military reservation where the internment camp is located the men appeared to be arguing between themselves. After they entered the reservation but before they were within the camp enclosure, they suddenly made a break and started running toward the boundary of the reservation. The guard shouted to them twice to halt and when his order was not obeyed he fired in accordance with his standing instructions. Hirota Isomura died instantly and Toshiro Kobata a few hours later. An inquiry into the circumstances was conducted at once. The court-martial of the guard was vigorously prosecuted and all the facts were developed. An acquittal of the guard resulted." See U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers 1944, V (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1965): 1104; 1131. For a firsthand, albeit vague, account, see also the 1966 interview with Masao Itano by Joe Grant Masaoka, tape 95, box 384, JARP, UCLA. For a recent account of this and related incidents, see Tetsuden Kashima, "American Mistreatment of Internees During World War II: Enemy Alien Japanese," in Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress, ed. Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986), 52-56.

8. This incident is treated in an official Japanese protest and an American reply registered during the war. According to the first: "During 1942 some 20 American convict soldiers were interned at Lordsburg Camp. Japanese internees requested Commandant to remove these convicts to another place, but request was not complied with. On Thanksgiving Day one of the convicts, under influence of liquor, intruded into Japanese internees quarters, used abusive language, sat astride Doctor Uyehara, and wounded him in back with a knife." Stated the American response: "Several American military personnel who were prisoners were confined at Lordsburg Internment Camp. On November 26, 1942, one of these American prisoners became disorderly, and in the fracas Dr. Uyehara was knocked down, but was not injured to an extent requiring medical attention. After this incident, the prisoner who created the disturbance, together with all other American garrison prisoners, was removed and confined elsewhere. The prisoner was tried for this offense by special court-martial on December 31, 1942, and the commanding officer of the Lordsburg Internment Camp was subsequently removed from command." See Foreign Relations, 1944, 1105; 1132.

9. Herbert Nicholson writes of a conversation he had with a Lordsburg officer about this occurrence while visiting the camp. According to him, the Japanese prisoners wished to celebrate the emperor's birthday and painted a Japanese flag and shouted "Tenno heika, Banzai." See Herbert Nicholson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels (Whittier, Calif.: Penn Lithographics, 1974), 68.

10. Toshiro Kobata's ashes were sent to friends interned at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. In 1946, after the closure of the Lordsburg camp, the remains of Hirota Isomura and three others were exhumed and reburied at the Fort Bliss, Texas, National Cemetery, Post Section. See letter of James McFarland to Isamu Kantaniguchi, copy in possession of Paul F. Clark.


22

11. The United States Department of State was not connected with the internee's "loyalty" hearings, but rather, assisted when representatives of the protecting powers appointed under the Geneva Convention visited the internment camps.

12. Before the formal establishment of an internee newsletter at Lordsburg in the summer of 1942, English speaking internees would translate news items orally into Japanese. According to one authoritative source, "some internees became excited when they heard good news for Japan." See Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Southern California, Japanese in Southern California: A History of 70 Years (Los Angeles: Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, 1960), 869.

13. The internee newspaper, the Lordsburg Times, began publication on August 26, 1942 and functioned until November 6, 1943 when the last Japanese internees were removed to Immigration and Naturalization Service camps.

14. A reference in an American reply, published in Foreign Relations, 1944, 1131-32, reads similar to Dockum's description of this incident: "The allegation contained in the memorandum from the Spanish Embassy that an internee was fired at when requesting a sentry to fetch a golf ball, was reported not to be based upon facts. The only occasion when a sentry at Lordsburg Internment Camp fired in the direction of a Japanese internee was at a time when the guard had been alerted to expect an attempted escape by the internees. On that occasion, when an internee approached one of the gates during the evening, a sentry fired a warning shot at a nearby telephone post. The camp authorities on learning of the incident investigated the circumstances and as a result the sentry was relieved from further duty of this nature."

15. Salazar became Portugal's finance minister in 1928, and prime minister in 1932. He fell from power in 1968 and died two years later.

16. Among the items on the agenda of the Yalta Conference, which lasted from 4 to 11 February 1942, was the settlement of the division of postwar Germany and Japan.

17. At the Casablanca Conference, which took place in January 1943, the Allied leaders declared that the war would end only with unconditional surrender of the Axis nations, and plans were laid for the invasion of Sicily and Italy.


23

Index

  • Azores
    • Terceira Island, 16
  • Baker, Col., 10
  • Bataan Death March, 19
  • Baxter, [James H.], 13
  • Bell, Col., 11
  • Bond, [Phillip], 14
  • Camp Walters Reception Center
    • See Mineral Wells, Tex.
  • Casablanca Conference, 17
  • Causey, Mrs., 10
  • Clayton, Fay, 15, 18
  • Clovis, N.Mex.
    • railroad battalion training base, 5
  • Corsicana, Tex., 19
  • Deming Air Force Base, N.Mex., 10
  • Dockum, Richard S.
    • Army career 3,5, 16, 18
    • attitude toward internees, 14
    • birth, 19
    • education, 19
      • civil engineering, 5
      • ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], 19
    • occupations
      • civil engineer, 5
      • propane business, 18
    • wife, 18
  • Elvendon Hall, Eng., 16-17
  • FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], 13
  • Ft. Hood, Tex., 16
  • Ft. Riley, Kans., 16
  • Heather, [Jack], 14
  • Hughes, [James E.], 6-7, 11
  • International Red Cross, 7, 10, 13, 16
  • Internees
    • arrival and processing, 11
    • attack by soldier, 11-12
    • attitudes toward Japan, 14
    • burial, 12-13, 15
    • cultural activities, 14
    • liquor, access to, 10-11
    • newspaper
      • See Lordsburg Times
    • organization of, 8
    • shootings of, 11, 13, 15, 16
    • treatment of, 7,8,9, 13-14
  • Kissner, [A. W.], 16, 18
  • Kuter, Lawrence, 17
  • Ledbetter, [Louis A.], 7,8
  • Lisbon, Portugal, 16
  • Lordsburg, N.Mex.
    • Blue Moon Bar, 9
    • internment camp
      • entertainment at, 5, 10
    • history of, 3
    • relationship of, 9
    • telephones, 9
    • transportation, 11
  • Lordsburg Liberal, 9
  • Lordsburg Times, 15
  • Lundy, Clyde, 5,6,7,8,9, 11
  • Mineral Wells, Tex.
    • Camp Walters Reception Center, 5,6, 14
      • See also Internees
  • Mitchell, E. W., 10
    • business of, 18
    • wife, 10
  • Moore, Sgt., 10
  • Normandy Beach, France, 16
  • Payne, [H. Vearle], 13
  • Pershing, John J., 10
  • Portugal
    • negotiations with U.S., 16
    • prime minister
      • See Salazar, [Antonio de Oliviera], 17
  • POWs, 12, 13-14
  • Pressler, Mollie M., 3, 10, 19

  • 24
  • Roswell, N.Mex., 18
  • Sage, Gen., 18-19
  • Sage, Mrs.
    • attitude toward Japanese
      • internees, 19
  • Salazar, [Antonio de Oliviera], 17
  • Santa Fe, N.Mex., 18
  • Smart, Marie, 10
  • Southern Pacific Railroad
    • El Morris Siding, 11
  • U.S. Eighth Air Force, 16, 17
  • U.S. Eighth Army Corps., 7, 11, 16
  • Inspector General, 7-8
  • U.S. State Department, 14, 17
  • Yalta Conference, 17

An Interview with
Abner Schreiber
Conducted by Paul F. Clark
on March 19, 1979
for the
California State University, Fullerton
Oral History Program
Japanese American Project

Department of Justice Internment Camps Administration Experience
O.H. 1613

©1980
The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton

Use Restrictions

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, 92834-6846.


27

Interview Introduction

In this interview, Abner Schreiber focuses on his experiences as the second in command of the Immigration and Naturalization Service internment camp at Santa Fe, New Mexico. This facility contained the largest number of interned Japanese outside of the camp designated for family internment at Crystal City, Texas. In March 1945, the only incident of mass violence among the internment camps occurred at Santa Fe, and herein Schreiber recounts this event from his perspective as an administrator. Also of interest is Schreiber's recollection of other aspects of the U.S. Justice Department's internment program, such as providing security forces for the U.S. State Department's detention compounds that held enemy diplomats.

Schreiber's career has centered on the justice system. He holds several law degrees from New York institutions, all obtained prior to World War II. After the war, he settled in New Mexico and was employed for a time with the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos. Today, in 1989, he maintains a private law practice in that community.

Schreiber's strategic position with respect to the administration of the Santa Fe internment camp as well as his direct involvement in the March 1945 riot there immediately recommended him as a prime interview subject to Paul Clark at the time that he was doing research for his study on Japanese enemy alien internment during World War II. However, due to time and financial limitations, an in-person interview was not possible. Instead, Clark utilized the telephone recording equipment available at the California State University, Fullerton campus to conduct this interview. Previous experience with telephone interviewing in relation to a study of recreational history in the California Desert for the Bureau of Land Management had trained him in this inexpensive although admittedly somewhat impersonal mode of oral history. Notwithstanding this constraint, the interview presents information and reflections that otherwise might not be available to researchers. Owing to restrictions imposed by the interviewee, scholars wishing to quote and likewise use material from this interview must obtain written permission in advance from the archivist of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton.


29

Interview

  • Interviewee:
  •     Abner Schreiber
  • Interviewer:
  •     Paul F. Clark
  • Subject:
  •     Department of Justice Internment Camps Administration Experience
  • Date:
  •     March 19, 1979
Clark

This is a telephone interview with Abner Schreiber for the Japanese American Project of the California State University, Fullerton, Oral History Program. The date is March 19, 1979, and the time is approximately 5:30 p.m. The interviewer is Paul F. Clark.

Good afternoon, Mr. Schreiber.


Schreiber

Good afternoon.


Clark

Before we go into your experience at Santa Fe, I'd be interested in knowing something about your personal background before the war. Could you tell me a little bit about that?


Schreiber

I was with the [United States] Border Patrol prior to the war.[1] I was assigned to the northern part of New York. I spent some time at El Paso prior to that time, mostly going to the border patrol school down there. In the summer of 1940, I was appointed a border patrol inspector, as I believe they called them in those days. Prior to all this, I was involved in some practice of law, and I did some investigative work in New York City. I was a graduate of Fordham Law School with an LL.D. [Doctor of Laws] from that school in 1935, and I received a Master of Law degree from Brooklyn Law School at Saint Lawrence University in 1936. I was admitted to the bar in New York in 1936 or thereabouts.


Clark

I understand that you were involved with the Vichy French ambassador.


Schreiber

Yes. For background, we might just as well get into it. I can remember pretty well the day the war broke out. The day after, I was ordered by radio to stand by and wait for the chief inspector to come on by. He came on by, and told me I was on my way down to Baltimore in charge of a detail of some eight men, as I recall. We were going to assist the Bureau [Federal Bureau of Investigation] there in picking up alien enemies.

You've got to recall one thing, that was forty years ago, and this is all from memory. You understand this.



30
Clark

Yes.


Schreiber

We went around down there, and we filled the local jails when it was determined that we had several hundred detainees. They were called detainees before they were given hearings. After the hearings, the ones who were held in custody were termed internees and dangerous enemy aliens.

The next situation was that they started to make a detention center, a camp out at Fort Howard, about twenty or thirty miles from Baltimore. I was detailed out there with several border patrolmen to assist in setting us up. We were given a copy of the Geneva Convention, and we then took most of our people out of the local jails and into the detention center. We had Germans, Japanese, and Italians there. They were given hearings. Some of our German prisoners were taken out of the penitentiaries. I recall we had quite a number of people who were employed around Baltimore as chefs and one thing and another in the hotels. There weren't too many Japanese in that area. We had a few Italians, but most of the detainees there were German. Let's see, we did have, as time went on, the detainees from, I think it was the German ship Columbus .[2] The ship, I guess, was in some South American port at the outbreak of the war with us and they shipped them up to the United States. We had them there for awhile. Later, they went down around the Fort Stanton camp [in New Mexico].

Again, this is starting to come back to me.


Clark

That's pretty interesting.


Schreiber

Is that the type of thing you want to know about?


Clark

Yes, this is very interesting.


Schreiber

I was second in command at that camp. They had an immigration inspector that was a fellow in charge who was a veteran of the First [World] War. We had civilian guards and border patrolmen.


Clark

Do you recall approximately how many detainees you had at Fort Howard?


Schreiber

I believe the number somewhat fluctuated. We also had the Baltimore office use us, to some degree, for some of their illegally entered aliens there. We kept them separate. Our total prison population, as I recall, was somewhere in the area of about five hundred then.


Clark

Did your facility there at Fort Howard last very long, or did it close down?


Schreiber

No, it lasted long after I left there, I know that. A lot of those people were interned. They, as I recall, finally had their hearings before these boards set up by the United States Attorney General [Francis Biddle]. Again, this is almost thirty or forty some odd years past, and this is my recollection of what transpired at that time.


Clark

Sure, I understand that.


Schreiber

This all leads into that Vichy French situation you were talking about, but is there anything else you want to discuss relative to the Fort Howard operation?


Clark

I think that pretty well covers it.



31
Schreiber

Yes, that's background. The next thing that transpired was at our headquarters. Willard Kelly was in charge of the internment. He asked me to get down to headquarters, and he then asked me to run out to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where they proposed to take over the Hershey Hotel--a very nice, luxurious hotel, I might add. The reason being that the United States had picked up or was in the process of picking up the Vichy French ambassador and their various counsels throughout the country. This included families as well. They wanted this hotel prepared as a detention center for these people pending their repatriation, just as I understand our [diplomatic] people in France had been picked up.[3] I was assigned to get out there and set up the situation for these people to come in. In the meantime, they were going to send up fifty or a hundred or more border patrolmen, but they wouldn't be in for a time. This was close to Harrisburg, [Pennsylvania]. I saw the chief of police, chief of the state patrol, and the [Home Guard] colonel. They were very cooperative. I told them what our problem was. They put on loan to us fifty or seventy-five of their state patrolmen pending our people coming in. They were transferring these French consulate people and the ambassador from around the country. We set the place up and got it ready to go, then I made my report to the chief, who was Deputy Commissioner Willard Kelly, in charge of the border patrol. He said, "This is very good. If you want it back, you're the commanding officer." So (chuckle) I went on back there and these people started to come in and we set up posts around. It wasn't the same type of thing as Fort Howard or some of the other internment camps. These were [United States] State Department people. In fact, I was the commanding officer, or officer-in-charge, I guess is what they called them of this operation to get everything going there. They also sent out a man from the State Department who presumably was the diplomat of the two of us--presumably; I'm kidding. We joked a lot about that, but he was representing the State Department and I was, of course, representing the Immigration [and Naturalization Service] and the [United States] Border Patrol.

The people came on and came on. Gaston Henry-Haye was the ambassador, I remember well. He had a fire dog, a Dalmatian. They were well taken care of. The ambassador had a luxurious suite. His other people had luxurious quarters, too. They ate in the dining room of the hotel. The hotel was, of course, closed and you couldn't get out or in without going through our people. It was very good, very luxurious living, just as I assume our people had in France. Prior to that time--you may know from your research--we had some people down at the Greenbrier Hotel, [White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia]; Ambassador [Kichisaburo] Nomura was in the same type of quarters.[4] This occurred at the end of 1942.


Clark

Is there anything you care to comment upon in the way of either problems or interesting highlights of your service there with the Vichy French?


Schreiber

The Vichy French, no. There were many titled people, generals, counts, dukes, and so on and so forth. Of course, every time you saw them there was a handshake. There wasn't any difficulty involved in that situation at all. After getting the administrative situation all set, such as the guard personnel chosen, I was ready to sit back and start enjoying the place, when I was called back to headquarters; they had another detai for me. (laughter) I was there about six weeks, and then they ordered me to turn it over to one of the chief inspectors and get onto another deal. In fact, I went back and had a little excitement, I guess, over at Fort Howard. I went there to give them an assist.

After that, I was sent down to Fort Stanton to organize a similar type of setup for the receipt of the Nazi generals who were picked up in that African campaign. They wanted to treat them pretty nice, I guess, so we went down and took over the country


32
club down there. I wrote up a report, but I did not participate in setting that up or in the receipt of the officers out of that African campaign. I understand that my recommendations were taken and they set up a camp there. I think it was the Stanton Country Club.

Then the next thing I was assigned to was at Santa Fe, [New Mexico]. I was called into headquarters and they told me that they were reopening the Santa Fe camp. It initially was a detention camp, of course, similar to what we had at Fort Howard. I think that the Army had these people beforehand. You were talking about this guy out of Lordsburg [Richard Dockum].[5] When did they turn that bunch over? Do you recall from your conversation with the adjutant officer at Lordsburg?


Clark

I understand that they started transferring the civilians back around the summer of 1943.


Schreiber

Well, then, that was after I got there because they had some in there then. I know at that time the Army wanted the border patrol to take that over because I guess they were beginning to become involved with other POWs. That I don't know, but I do remember I got out there as the chief liaison officer sometime in March or April of 1943. [Lloyd] Jensen was then the officer-in-charge.[6] As I recall there were just a few hundred people there when I got there. My job was to take care of the inside of the camp, to be in charge of the censors and to keep the lid on from the inside standpoint. A few months later I was promoted to executive officer or assistant officer-in-charge. Jensen then took off for another job and Ivan Williams came in. I guess that was about a year or so after and then Ivan was assigned to some other camps out on the coast where they were having some difficulties. He's quite a guy. He was on the assignment for a year or a year and a half, and I was, of course, the acting officer-in-charge during that time. He came back for awhile, and then was sent on to another detail. Anyway, I guess we had about a little over two thousand prisoners, or internees, at any one time.

We didn't have too much difficulty with our internees. In fact, we had very little. We adhered to the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention was the bible. Philosophically, I think, those of us who were in charge of the camp felt that if we gave the internees more than what they usually were entitled to as to food, space, and other things under the Geneva Convention we would have something to take back as a punitive measure if they got out of line. In other words, we could say, "If you don't straighten out, why, here's what we're going to do."


Clark

I see.


Schreiber

Psychologically, it worked well. We didn't really have to do any of that except one time after that riot; then we did. Now we had there a fair-sized hospital which, I notice, is mentioned in Katsuma Mukaeda's interview.[7] These were real nice people [most of the internees]. They were people that came from middle-class life and so on. Well, I'm not going to apologize for them. They were declared to be dangerous enemy aliens and they were potentially dangerous, and that was why they were there.


Clark

I was wondering, in some of these camps when it came to the interpretation of the Geneva Convention, I've heard a complaint about some of the internees, who were sometimes called barrack lawyers, who occasionally presented a problem to the administration.


Schreiber

Well, that may be so. We always had people who were fomenting, and who sought to foment difficulties. These were people who I would assume felt that they were


33
furthering the war effort of their respective countries, Germany and Japan. Yes, you had this type of persons. (chuckle) We had our visits from the Spanish diplomatic corps quite routinely. The Swiss came out, too. Of course, we'd make available rooms for them, barracks, and they [the internees] had their opportunity to discuss their grievances. Usually these people would take up with us what they thought was something that possibly should be corrected, and we'd explain it to them or correct it if it was something we had no knowledge of. We didn't have too much difficulty in regard to the so-called barrack lawyers,[8] or whatever you designated them. There were always people who wrote letters and made complaints. We thought we were giving them, and obviously we were giving them, everything that the Geneva Convention required. We treated them as persons, as people. They, unfortunately, found themselves in that situation, but they were human beings. Some camps may not have. There was trouble in some POW locations. I think I read that in [Jerre] Mangione's book which I have had occasion to look at not too long ago.[9] Of course, we had meetings from time to time, and one camp would know what was going on in the other. Some of them had a rough time. In fact, we had a camp at Fort Stanton in New Mexico, which was, I guess they called it, the "sinker camp." They had some of the troublemakers down there.[10]


Clark

Well, I understand that Fort Stanton was what they called a segregation camp.


Schreiber

It wasn't so much a segregation camp. They had that Columbus crew I told you about. I was down there once or twice to help them on some matters, but I just stayed for a day or two. They did have some people who were involved in causing fomentation. Again, as I remember it.


Clark

Since we're somewhat touching on the subject, maybe we could go into the riot that occurred in Santa Fe on March 12, 1945. I understand that was primarily the work of the Tule Lake [Segregation Center] people.


Schreiber

Yes. We had had what I thought was a fairly smooth operation. So did everyone else. Under the circumstances, we had very little difficulty with any situation there [at Santa Fe]. We had several hundred people who had been apparently, backgroundwise, sent over to Japan when they were five or six years old for an education so they would not lose their background. I guess that's what their parents felt. They had caused a lot of trouble probably at the Tule Lake War Relocation/[Segregation] Camp. You know the difference between the war relocation centers?[11]


Clark

Yes.


Schreiber

It was during the relocation where they took these citizens, and they emptied out the West Coast and other places and put them in these war relocation camps. Well, I won't comment more on that. You can tell from my name that, after all, Schreiber, my background is German and Austrian. (chuckle) So you wondered, you know.

Anyway, they got these people out of the war relocation centers. Of course, the immigration service previously could do nothing with them because we only dealt with aliens. Apparently they[12] were inured to a great extent, having been in Japan from a tender age up until they were early in their twenties. So, they were instilled, I would assume, with patriotism for Japan. Anyway, that was part of the situation. They shaved their heads. I think a good cross section felt strongly that it was unfortunate they were not in the Japanese army. I don't know this for a fact. The next thing, they wanted to show their patriotism and they renounced their American citizenship. Well, as soon as they did that, they became aliens. I guess they knew


34
what they were doing and why they were doing it. Of course, the immigration service was then able to bring them into the internee war program. They sent them up to North Dakota, too. They apparently had caused a lot of difficulty and trouble at Tule Lake.

I think I may have touched on this thing in my recent conversation, but when they came in some of them were rather, oh, surly. I remember I did address them and suggested to them that we'd had an operation that had gone along smoothly as far as we were concerned, and we hoped they would fit in and be gentlemen. We knew their background, but if they wanted to get tough, we could get tough, you know, and so forth. Well, that was that. A few weeks went by, and, the next thing that happened, we were informed that there was quite a bit of fomentation.

We had little if any difficulty with the older people like Mukaeda. We never had. In fact, we kind of enjoyed conversations with them. We tried to give them makework. They had details going out. We had about eleven to fifteen acres under cultivation, and they sure could grow the stuff. (chuckle) It seemed like every other week or so we had to dig another root cellar in order to store the vegetables and one thing and another they were able to grow. We had some details out to the Santa Fe Golf Course to help them straighten that out, may be a dozen or two dozen people.[13] That was part of the program. They did this with the German war prisoners, too; I mean fellows who were actually from the battleground. I think they received eighty cents a day or something of that kind.


Clark

The internees you sent out to the golf course didn't go out there to play golf, they went out there to work?


Schreiber

Oh, no. They were sent out under guard. (laughter) They were paid eighty cents a day for their assisting in getting that cultivated and so on. No, they weren't sent out to play golf, no.


Clark

They were gardening?


Schreiber

Yes, they were. During the war years, there weren't the usual number of people available. We tried to make work for these people. There's nothing more boring than people sitting around with nothing to do.


Clark

Did most of the older internees, before the Tule Lake people, of course, go for this type of make-work or did most of them just sort of stay in the compounds?


Schreiber

Oh, I think they felt it was a privilege really to get into this type of thing. They built themselves a little miniature golf course there within the fences. It was just a sand thing where they had a few holes. Yes, I would say anybody who was interned there for two or three years--my god!--wanted to do something. They made pets out of birds. They had classes. They had a stage and they put on shows and Japanese plays for themselves there. We showed them a lot of movies and so on. Of course, when we talk about the older people, you had people who were anywhere from their twenties on up to middle age and beyond.

These new people came in, and we kind of felt that something was going on. We asked for some border patrolmen to be sent up from El Paso to back up our guard force, which, of course, was recruited from the civilian population, you might say. They did, and I don't recall if that was the first time or the second time. I think Williams was there then, too. He'd come back from one of his details. In fact, I know he was. Anyway, they were waving flags, Japanese flags, blowing bugles and


35
so on. Now under the rules of the Geneva Convention, in any other POW situation, nobody could assemble without permission of the authorities, not more than three people. We were called out and we had them break it up. They did, and we confiscated the flag.


Clark

I understood that they wore some sort of sweatshirt with something on it.


Schreiber

They may have painted that stuff on their sweatshirts. I remember I saw the rising sun flag flying around. (chuckle) Of course, that was easy enough to manufacture. They had sewing machines.


Clark

So they were engaging in marching?


Schreiber

They were engaging in what was obviously a drill. They were doing exercises more than anything else. Anyway, I don't want to suggest that they were going to attack the authorities or the United States, but they were involved in at least a quasi-military operation there including exercises and so on.

We felt this bode no good, so we ordered them to cease and desist. There were a bunch of them who were of a surly nature. Anyway, they did that again, I guess, a few days later. Where the dickens did they get all those bugles! (chuckle) I think they did that again a few days later, and we pulled out several of their ringleaders.

It's also my recollection that we never had any reason to use a camp outside the regular compound, but we got one together and had them sit there pending being taken down to Fort Stanton. Of course, these people all gathered and they were surly, to use the word again. It was self-evident--if you've been in this kind of business as I have been--that something was ready to pop. They gathered up at the wire at the northern part, as I recall, of our enclosure and we asked them, "Break it up." I was in charge of that operation, and I made darn sure that the record was replete for a lot of reasons at that time. You're familiar from your history that the Japanese were doing a hell of a lot to our people over there without any reason. I had notes taken on warnings to them, and I think I repeated the thing about four or five times. We'll say we repeated the thing four or five times. I like to be incognito.


Clark

I understand that tear gas was thrown and a platoon was sent in.


Schreiber

Oh, yes. We'd been asking them to disperse. There were several hundred up at the wire. They didn't. I remember I was testing the air there because if you threw tear gas and the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, you'd get it back in your face. (laughter) We had some billies and we had tear gas canisters, and we doubled the guard on our towers. Finally, about the fourth or fifth time, we made mention, "If you don't, we're forced to take whatever action is indicated." We made sure the stenos were getting this, and we then let some of the stuff go, and the wind was right. They backed off, and the next thing that happened was out came the stones and rocks and other things at us, and some of us got hit in the head. We had a lot of women around, you know, in the headquarters building. Then we sent some people down to the south gate, and I got some border patrol guys to follow me. In those days, I was young and didn't have enough sense to say, "Go in and do the job." This you can erase. (laughter) Well, we went in there in the worse shape. They had a heck of a lot of iron pipe and one thing and another. There were about fifteen or twenty of us, I guess, who went in there, and they started to come after us. Now, I might say--backgroundwise--we never had any reason to have night sticks, so we


36
went and borrowed them from the MPs over at Bruns Hospital--that was a military hospital.

They did have some Italian POWs over there who were assistant medical personnel. We borrowed some night sticks to reinforce our position because it doesn't pay to go into a prison compound with firearms! They'll usually take them away from you and you've had it. The only thing we went in with was billies and gas grenades. We also had these night sticks. In fact, I had one of them, and they were kind of balsa wood affairs. I can remember when they came after us with rocks and these crowbars that it was peculiar to see the night sticks used. Instead of the guy falling down, the night sticks broke. (laughter) So they weren't very effective, not the sticks. In fact, we later ordered some night sticks. We were fortunate we never had to use them.


Clark

Apparently you were able to break it up and get them into their barracks.


Schreiber

Oh, yes, we broke it up. There were a few guys lying around there after it was over. We were able to break it up without too much difficulty. But after that, we got these so-called shaved heads, the Tule Lake bunch, and put them into a portion of the camp that we segregated off. They were in there for quite awhile, oh, a week or so. We limited our operation to just what the Geneva Convention called for, maybe a little less. After awhile, they sent some delegations up to the headquarters and asked to go back to the way things were. Ultimately they did.


Clark

I understand there was a bit of a strike or a work slowdown. Do you know anything about that?


Schreiber

By whom?


Clark

By the internees in the camp after the riot.


Schreiber

Well, there may have been. There was sympathy, I'm sure. There may have been a work slowdown, but there wasn't much work for them to do. We had about two thousand people there, and I guess a hundred people could have done the cooking for themselves and one thing and another. Here again, I think I did read that in Mukaeda's interview. As I recall, he [Mukaeda] seemed to be a very sensible guy. These [older] people were not involved in the isolation, you know, or the segregation. I can just envision one or two who were fomenting a lot among the older people, and who we knew had their allegiance to Japan very definitely and thought they should be doing something for the mother or father country, whatever they called it. But by and large, I have no real recollection of any slowdown as such. I think that the older hands weren't too sympathetic. I may be wrong about that. What I'm trying to say is that my recollection is that the older people, aside from all the excitement, just continued along the same line. They always continued with the exception of these few hundred who had been involved in, or were associated in some way with, that [Tule Lake] operation or were extremely sympathetic. They came from the same group. There may have been a slowdown, but it wasn't noticeable to me. But I don't want to debate that issue, not by any means. (chuckle)


Clark

Okay. (chuckle) That pretty well covers what I had to ask you on the strike and the riot. To maybe go back a little bit, I might ask if it seemed to you that the Tule Lake people were quite separate from the other, older, internees?


Schreiber

Yes, I got that impression. They [the Tule Lake people] were the more militant. There was no question about it. They were younger, they were instilled with patriotism from the mother country, for Japan. After that, we had little difficulty


37
with that operation. We didn't have any difficulty after that at all with these people, as I recall. In fact, Ivan Williams talked with them. He did a hell of a good job. Well, he was an outstanding man--is an outstanding man. He then left, and I remember they repatriated quite a bunch of them. He [Williams] left for another detail. I have no recollection of having any more difficulty, except with just the usual misconduct or orneriness of individuals. Well, they were incarcerated there. I wouldn't want to be exposed to that for a number of years. These guys were. There was sympathy, but some of them were real nice people, really; real nice people. I enjoyed knowing them. They were intelligent people. I guess most of them spoke some English. I would talk with them at some length. I'm sure the other officers would. They had their problems. They were real nice people, a lot of them. A heck of a lot of them were.


Clark

I'm interested in your relationship with the central office and the regional offices of the Immigration [and Naturalization] Service. How much autonomy did they give you to run the camp?


Schreiber

Oh, they gave us a pretty large degree of autonomy. Everything had to be reported to the central office and we had a fine staff. As I mentioned, Willard Kelly was in charge of it and he made his visits regularly. We had autonomy. You know, it's like any other operation, they have officers who know what they are doing, but if they got out of line, or if they didn't know what they were doing, they'd replace them. (laughter) The central office would get its reports regularly as to population, expenditures, et cetera, from all of the camps, presumably. We went to meetings from time to time--not too often--that the central office held. Now, some camps had more problems, some had less; we didn't.


Clark

Did you feel that your general record keeping was excessively burdensome?


Schreiber

No, I don't think we had too much of a problem there, at least I didn't feel it was. We had to keep records. We had to justify amounts and expenditures. I was directly involved in the thing for over a year and a half. When I say directly involved, I'm talking about in charge of it, and I saw nothing excessive about it that I can recall. I thought everything was reasonable. I was very proud of our "big honcho," the boss, Willard Kelly, and the rest of the gang. They were reasonable people.


Clark

You never felt that they were meddling in the camp's affairs or anything?


Schreiber

No. It was their job to meddle if that was indicated; they had to make damn sure what was going on. They'd be doing less than their job if they didn't get their periodic reports, but we had an open line both ways. I can't speak anything but very highly for the so-called central office operation as far as the camps were concerned. Kelly was an outstanding man. He had an outstanding staff.


Clark

I understand that there was a press blackout.


Schreiber

Oh, yes. I laid a little foundation earlier in this thing about that; you can go on and on with these things and just scratch the surface, you might say. Yes, we were ordered not to disclose this. We got a central office, coded message by radio. We did talk to all our personnel telling them about this. The reason being, as I stated earlier in this conversation, since our people were getting killed and beheaded and one thing and another in the death marches and so on without any rhyme or reason, that could have been a propaganda stroke for the enemy. That was my understanding of the reason. In this day and age, we'd have had all the media and the Supreme Court in there, wouldn't we? (laughter)



38
Clark

So you primarily kept the press blackout to keep down the feelings of the local people, so that they wouldn't misunderstand what was going on?


Schreiber

Oh, no, no. That's not what I said. You're talking about the press situation as the same pertained to that riot?


Clark

No.


Schreiber

Oh, you're generalizing?


Clark

Yes.


Schreiber

Oh, no. I thought you were tying it in with the riot and the gas. No, that was where we were instructed to put the lid on. We had no specific instruction that I recall, about a lid on everything. I don't recall any of that. In fact, from time to time we'd get an editorial about these people eating better than most people around and something like that. We'd usually call the newspaper guys in and try to establish a rapport and tell them about the Geneva Convention. They were usually reasonable.

I thought you were talking about the news blackout in regard to that riot. We did get instructions not to let that one out. We were very proud that nothing leaked on that--to my knowledge--until after the war was over, when we gave full accounts to the press about it. Yes, they came in and they wanted to know about anything they should know about. In fact, during the war years we would trade off some of the meat and stuff that these people were allowed for fish from Bruns Hospital. The Japanese, they're not big meat eaters, as you probably know. They prefer vegetables, fish, rice and so on. No, while there wasn't ready access into the campsite, there wasn't any blackout that I recall.[14]


Clark

I see.


Schreiber

There wasn't anything to black out. (laughter)

There were a lot of strong feelings around, especially earlier in the war, among the people in New Mexico because a hell of a lot of people who were on the death march out of Bataan were from New Mexico. The Japanese, you know, were not kind. I don't know whether you are familiar with that from your research. They were not kind. I'm talking about the armed forces of Japan. They were not kind to our people at all. In fact, they were merciless. The press, of course, was replete with those events; the Ernie Pyles and the foreign correspondents let it be known that our people were on the death march. They lost hundreds, I mean thousands of people during this thing. The food they were given was negligible. The Japanese militaristic operation, from what I gather and what I was able to determine thereafter, was not a kindly operation, nor did they adhere to the Geneva Convention. Now, that was none of our business. Well, when I say none of our business, I mean in connection with the operation of these internment camps. We operated under the Geneva Convention. I think we were kind to these people. They were nice people, a hell of a lot of them, and they were treated as nice people. If they wanted to get tough, I guess we could get tough, too. After all, it was wartime. We had, other than what we talked bout there, very little difficulty, no difficulty.

Does that answer your question?


Clark

Yes.



39
Schreiber

You wanted me to editorialize there. Why the pointed question about blackout? I'm not sure that I understand that.


Clark

Well, I understand from a newspaper clipping from the Santa Fe New Mexican that when the camp was closed in 1946, they mentioned a news blackout. Perhaps they're referring to the riot.


Schreiber

I believe that was what they were doing. Was that a Will Harrison column?


Clark

I don't recall. I know it was in the Santa Fe New Mexican. [15]


Schreiber

I think that was what they meant. Of course, the papers did state time and time again that there was a blackout, which was so. When I say, "which was so," I don't mean there was a news blackout per se, but we could not just throw the gates open or anything like that for any reporters or newspapers. There was definitely a news blackout and I thought that's what you were talking about in connection with that riot, for the reasons stated.


Clark

Well, to sort of sum up here, maybe I could cover just some of the personalities of the camp. I understand that there was a fellow by the name of Clarence Uyematsu who was the translator and censor. Do you recall that person?


Schreiber

Yes, I remember Clarence very well. Do you know anything about him?


Clark

No, I don't. I'd like to know something about him.


Schreiber

There was Yoto, too. They were employees of the government. They were censors, and they read all the mail going to and from. They were just nice people.


Clark

Were they Nisei?


Schreiber

I heard they were citizens. I'm sure they were born here. Yoto was older than Clarence was. I guess there were just two of them, but maybe there were more. They'd always read the mail and censor it. (laughter) Again, that was part of the Geneva Convention; we were allowed to make a determination of whether there was any flow of information.

To jump around, it would be from a standpoint of a news blackout where we didn't make available the security aspect of the camp. It would be silly to have a prison POW camp and have a general knowledge as to where every guard was and when the sentries passed and so on and so forth. That certainly was not available.


Clark

Could you tell me something about Mr. Williams? You seemed to have a good rapport with him.


Schreiber

Oh, yes, I had a good rapport with everybody that I know of in the camp. We had an enjoyable esprit de corps. I don't want to leave you with an impression that we didn't get along. We lived together, you might say, worked together and we, I think, enjoyed one another, all of us. Ivan Williams, as I say, was a real good friend, just as Jensen was and the other guys that I worked with such as Monroe. We see and hear from one another from time to time. I run into the fellows that worked as guards there. We've all been good friends.



40
Clark

Okay. I believe I've pretty well covered what I would like to ask. Is there anything that you would like to reemphasize or go back to?


Schreiber

Well, I guess I just got to talking and there it was. There's no question in my mind but that this hour or so that we've devoted here has only scratched the surface, and I am reasonably certain that from time to time as new areas come up, I would be reminded of it.

What transpired in my own career, if you're interested in it, I'll give you briefly. I liked Santa Fe so darned much as a result of the war years--I mean, my association with the people in Santa Fe--that I was admitted to the bar in New Mexico and when the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] took over from the Army, they asked if I wouldn't help them set up the security. I did. I got up here as deputy chief in charge of their security operation. They gave me the title of major. Then they found out that I was admitted to the bar, and they asked me to become the district attorney, which I did for free here for a good number of years. At the end of the term, I stayed in the county and practiced law.

I want you to preface anything you do with this that this is from memory. I have no recollection of having said anything derogatory about anyone, and certainly I have nothing derogatory to say about the people with whom I worked, and I don't have much if anything of a derogatory nature to say in regard to the prisoners. They were just prisoners--internees, I guess, is a better word--and as I say, nice people.


Clark

Well, on that note, let me thank you on behalf of the Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton.


Schreiber

You're welcome. I enjoyed talking with you.



41

Notes

1. For a popular history of the U.S. Border Patrol, See John M. Myers, The Border Wardens (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971).

2. The German liner Columbus was scuttled in the Atlantic Ocean in December 1939 to prevent capture. Its crew, which was rescued by United States warships, was interned in early 1941 at Fort Stanton Internment Camp in New Mexico. Schreiber is perhaps referring to other German seamen brought from Latin American states and held under similar circumstances.

3. These French diplomatic detainees remained at Hershey, Pennsylvania, awaiting exchange until the fall of 1943 when they were moved to the Cascades Inn in Hot Springs, Virginia. Their American counterparts were apprehended in France and taken to detention facilities at Baden-Baden, Germany.

4. For more information on the Japanese diplomats detained for exchange, see Gwen H. Terasaki, Bridge to the Sun (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957).

5. See, elsewhere in this volume, the March 18, 1977 interview with Richard Dockum by Paul F. Clark and Mollie M. Pressler for the Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton.

6. Lloyd H. Jensen served as Santa Fe's officer-in-charge from 19 April 1943 to 26 October 1944. He later became Chief of Detention, Deportation and Parole Division, Immigration and Naturalization Service.

7. See the transcript of the May 22, 1975 interview with Katsuma Mukaeda by Paul F. Clark for the Japanese American Project, California State University, Fullerton in Clark's unpublished study, "Those Other Camps: An Oral History Analysis of Japanese Alien Enemy Internment During World War II" (M.A. thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 1980).

8. For the use of the term "barrack lawyers," see Mollie M. Pressler's unpublished 1976 manuscript "The Lordsburg Internment/POW Camp." For information on Pressler, see the introduction to the interview with Richard Dockum in this volume.

9. See Jerre Mangione, An Ethnic at Large (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1978).

10. Fort Stanton held such individuals as the leader of the German American Bund, Fritz Julius Kuhn. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Fort Stanton "was operated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, its internees received stricter treatment than that given to other interned alien enemies." See Monthly Review (October 1945): 212.

11. In September 1943, one of the ten relocation centers managed by the War Relocation Authority, the Tule Lake Relocation Center in northern California, was converted to the Tule Lake Segregation Center to hold those interned in the relocation centers who, on the basis of an extremely ambiguous and controversial questionnaire, were deemed "disloyal." On October 10, 1945, the Tule Lake center came under the jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the center's military police were replaced by the border patrol.

12. The group referred to here, successively, as "these people," "them," and "they" were "kibei," Americans of Japanese ancestry who were educated during their formative years in Japan before returning to their native United States.


42

13. On the morning of the Santa Fe Riot, March 12, 1945, twenty-five internees left the camp for the golf course, but they were quickly returned to their quarters. See "Activity Report of Tour 1, 4:00 AM to 12:00 N, March 12, 1945," tour logs, Santa Fe, Records of the Alien Enemy Internment Camps, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85, General Archives Division, Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland.

14. According to Will Harrison, a reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican, a "wartime curtain of censorship" shrouded the activities at the Santa Fe camp so well that no contemporary mention of the March 1945 riot was made in his paper. See Will Harrison, Nobody Will Mourn End of Camp Where Thousands of Japs Held, Santa Fe New Mexican, " 21 March 1946. The Immigration and Naturalization Service later reprinted this article as "The Santa Fe Internment Camp"; see Monthly Review (April 1946): 298-300. For a recent overview of the Santa Fe camp and the 1945 riot there, see John J. Culley, "The Santa Fe Internment Camp and the Justice Department Program for Enemy Aliens," in Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress, ed. Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986), 57-71.

15. Harrison, "Nobody Will Mourn."


43

Index

  • AEC [Atomic Energy Commission], 40
  • Bataan death march, 38
  • Biddle, [Francis], 30
  • Bismarck, N.Dak.
    • [Fort Lincoln] internment camp, 34
  • Censorship, 38-39
  • Columbus
    • German internees, 30,33
  • Dockum, Richard, 32
  • FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], 29
  • Fort Foward, Md. detention center, 30,32
  • Fort Lincoln, N.Dak.
    • See Bismarck, N.Dak.
  • Fort Stanton, N.Mex. internment camp, 30,32,33,35
  • France
    • Vichy government detention of diplomatic personnel, 31
  • Geneva Convention, 32-33,38,39
  • Henry-Haye, Gaston, 31
  • Hershey, Penn.
    • Hershey Hotel, 31
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service, 31,37
  • Internees (detainees)
    • barrack lawyers, 32-33
    • diplomatic personnel, 31-32
    • enemy aliens, 30
    • German officers, 32-33
    • Japanese, 33-34,37
    • internment camps
      • See specific internment camps (e.g., Santa Fe, N.Mex.)
  • Japan
    • U.S. detainees, treatment of, 38
  • Jensen, [Lloyd], 32,41
  • Kelly, Willard, 31,37,39
  • Mangione, Jerre, 33
  • Mukaeda, Katsuma, 32,34,36
  • Newell, Calif.
    • Tule Lake War Relocation/Segregation Center internees, transfer of, 34,37,38
  • Nomura, [Kichisaburo], 31
  • POWs, 31-32,33-34,36-37
  • Santa Fe, N.Mex.
  • Santa Fe New Mexican, 39
  • Schreiber, Abner
    • education, 29,40
    • occupations
      • AEC, 41
      • border patrol, 29
  • Tule Lake War Relocation/Segregation Center
    • See Newell, Calif.
  • United States
    • attorney general, 31
    • border patrol, 29,31
    • State, Department of, 31
      • See also AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]; Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Uyematsu, Clarence, 39
  • White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
    • Greenbrier Hotel, 31
  • Williams, Ivan, 32,37,39

An Interview with
Dr. Amy N. Stannard
Conducted by Paul F. Clark
on November 30, 1978
for the
California State University, Fullerton
Oral History Program
Japanese American Project

Department of Justice Internment Camps Administration Experience
O.H. 1615

©1980
The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton

Use Restrictions

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, 92834-6846.


47

Interview Introduction

Dr. Amy N. Stannard was the only woman to command a United States civilian internment compound during World War II. As the officer-in-charge of the Immigration and Naturalization camp at Seagoville, Texas, Stannard offers a view of that facility from its beginning as a prison through its tenure as a unique link in the U.S. Justice Department's chain of alien enemy camps.

Stannard was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1894. Upon graduating from college, she taught school in Oregon before beginning medical studies at the University of San Francisco, where she graduated in 1923. Specializing in psychiatry, Stannard trained thereafter at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., and subsequently practiced in the Washington area.

In 1930, Stannard became both the first woman and the first psychiatrist to be appointed to the newly formed Board of Parole in the U.S. Department of Justice. She left this position after five years for further professional training and private practice. In 1940, she returned to the U.S. Justice Department to serve as the assistant warden at the Federal Reformatory for Women at Seagoville. As her interview relates, Stannard successively became the reformatory's warden, and then its assistant and sole officer-in-charge under the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Finishing her wartime service, Stannard came back to California in 1946 to practice on the staff of the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital, retiring in 1956. In 1972, after suffering a heart attack, she left Palo Alto and settled in the Rossmoor retirement community outside of Walnut Creek, California.

The interview with Dr. Stannard was conducted by Paul Clark on November 30, 1978, at her Rossmoor home. While she possessed prepared notes and an alert mind, her advanced age and debilitative heart condition required two, approximately one-hour taping sessions. Six weeks afterward, Stannard, sadly, passed away.

Fortunately, Stannard's interview transcript was systematically and thoroughly reviewed by her executrix, Dr. Dorothy G. Sproul, who served with Stannard at Seagoville as its chief medical officer. A psychiatrist by profession, Sproul received her B.A. degree from Boston University, College of Liberal Arts, in 1924. By 1934, she had graduated with a medical degree from the University of Maryland, and thereafter trained at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. While at Seagoville from April to December 1942, she served in the capacity of a United States Public Health Service officer. Her additional comments, included in the notes following the interview, enrich this oral document and often derive from firsthand experience. Dr. Sproul was not present during the interview.


49

Interview

  • Interviewee:
  •     Dr. Amy N. Stannard
  • Interviewer:
  •     Paul F. Clark
  • Subject:
  •     Department of Justice Internment Camps Administration Experience
  • Date:
  •     November 30, 1978
Clark

This is an interview with Dr. Amy N. Stannard in her home at 2664 Ptarmigan Drive, Number 1, Walnut Creek, California, for the Japanese American Project of the California State University, Fullerton, Oral History Program. Today's date is November 30, 1978, and the time is a little before eleven in the morning. The interviewer is Paul F. Clark.

Good morning, Dr. Stannard. Perhaps we can begin by you telling me a little about your early life and education as background to your experiences during World War II.


Stannard

My pre-World War II years were devoted first to getting an education. I received an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1918. In 1923, I graduated with an M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. I, thereafter, obtained special training and experience in psychiatry at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. Then, in 1930, I was appointed to the newly formed Board of Parole in the Department of Justice when they were looking for one member to be a woman psychiatrist. After five years, I left to take further professional training and to engage in student health work and private practice.

In 1940, I accepted an appointment to the Bureau of Prisons to join in the development and staffing of a rehabilitation program at the newly built Federal Reformatory for Women at Seagoville, near Dallas, Texas. I was associate warden and became warden shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Our institution had received only a small number of prisoners up to that time.[1] It was known by the planners in Washington, D.C., to be adaptable to the minimum security detention of certain aliens of enemy nationality. But it was quite a surprise to us to learn suddenly, in the spring of 1942, that the Bureau of Prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service would jointly administer our institution as an "Alien Enemy Detention Station." That was its first title.[2]


Clark

When did you say you learned this?


Stannard

It was in the spring of 1942. We admitted the first detainees early in April, about April 5, 1942. We didn't have very much advance notice. (laughter) We did have


50
the organization that was, in general, suitable for this purpose. My title at first was superintendent, and in 1943 it was changed to officer-in-charge.[3] We tried to instruct the staff about the change in administration and tell them about the international Geneva Convention. They had to be well-rounded in their knowledge of that in order to be sure their attitudes were proper.

A memorandum of agreement was drawn up and signed by officials of the respective bureaus. Roughly, it provided that the admissions and releases of aliens and their surveillance while in custody would be the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the housing, feeding, health care, and other activities would be the responsibility of the Bureau of Prisons staff which was already operating in these functions. As I intimated, it was strictly emphasized that all policies and management were to be in accord with the Geneva Convention of 1929; the watchword being "reciprocity" to insure that no grounds were given for Americans confined under comparable conditions [in enemy areas] to be maltreated. For approximately one year, Mr. Joseph O'Rourke, a career man in the border patrol, was assigned to represent the Immigration and Naturalization Service as supervisor of internment [at Seagoville]. He was transferred in the spring of 1943 to Crystal City as officer-in-charge of that internment camp.[4] Crystal City became principally a family camp, although it had facilities for taking care of troublemakers removed from other camps. In fact, we sent them a few.

The physical setup at Seagoville comprised a reservation of some 830 acres, most of which was farm and pasture land, including a small wooded section used by internees only in the latter part of the duration. They used it for picnic outings. These areas were enclosed only with the ordinary type of farm fencing. The internment area proper was about 80 acres, and it was surrounded by a six-foot, chain-link fence topped by barbed wire. There was a gatehouse at the entrance manned at all times by members of the border patrol[5] They also patrolled the perimeter of the enclave, sometimes on horseback, but were under orders not to enter buildings housing internees, except on special orders in an emergency. Near the gate, facing each other across the flagpole plaza, were 2 two-story, red-brick buildings of identical outward appearance. One was the administration building with offices for our key staff. The other was living quarters for staff who did not choose to live elsewhere. There were also two frame buildings outside the fence occupied by staff members. The internee living quarters were divided into two parts. One included 6 two-story brick buildings facing a quadrangle, each having from 40 to 75 single sleeping rooms, dining rooms, recreation rooms, and a kitchen. The second type of housing was about 60 prefabricated, temporary, wooden "victory huts," which were sixteen by sixteen feet each. These, together with a mess hall, made up the "colony."


Clark

I see. The colony was not a special compound for family members. Was it just a temporary affair?


Stannard

No. Some of the couples occupying them had children with them, while other huts were occupied only by a couple. Having been manufactured in Dallas for various wartime needs, these huts were readily available and were put up speedily when a large influx of Japanese was expected. I should say here that the internees in each house organized their own kitchen and dining room crews, and prepared and served provisions delivered from the central storehouse. The menus were planned by our professional staff dietician and her assistants and could be altered by request, provided the total daily ration as required by the Geneva Convention was not disturbed. For example, we found that they didn't want the traditional American turkey and fixings for Thanksgiving. (laughter) So they had other things: the Germans wanted roast beef and whatnot and the Japanese wanted cherry pie.



51
Clark

Cherry pie for Thanksgiving?


Stannard

Yes, this was incorporated into their menu for the day. That was part of the function of the dietician. She adapted the menus to the ethnic values of the internees. The Japanese, for example, had a great many things that were never used by the Germans. They had special rice and vegetables that they prepared and used in certain different ways. The dietician was able to analyze their particular menus and see that they didn't deviate from the daily ration prescribed by the Geneva Convention. There had to be so much protein, so much carbohydrate, and on down the line. The dining room tables were square, seating four at a table and, like the other furniture in the houses, were of maple. The table service was stainless steel cutlery--knives, forks and spoons--and lightweight Syracuse china of a pattern seen in tearooms. It was not that fancy stuff Mr. [Herbert V.] Nicholson mentioned [in Treasure in Earthen Vessels].


Clark

I think he mentioned dainty chinaware or something to that effect.[6] It was not dainty?


Stannard

He really went off the deep end.

I should add, there was no large general mess hall serving the whole population such as you see in prisons and other institutions. There was a seperate staff dining room and kitchen, of course.

Other buildings of the brick construction were the auditorium and educational building containing classroom facilities including a beauty shop, a barbershop, on the second floor a well-stocked library, a storehouse where perishable and nonperishable items were kept and issued to the housing units, a power plant, maintenance shop, and last, but far from least, a fully equipped and staffed hospital operated by the United States Public Health Service.

It must be made clear that these internees were civilians, not to be confused with POWs [prisoners of war] who were under the jurisdiction of the Army, nor with the special group of Pacific Coast Japanese confined in the camps set up for them and administered independently by the War Relocation Authority. The internees in our custody, with the exception of the voluntary ones, were interned because they were aliens of enemy nationality, and investigation had shown them to be potentially dangerous to the security of the United States. The "voluntary internees" were the wives of the above who had signed petitions to be interned because of hardships at home resulting from the enforced absence of the head of the family. Some of these "voluntary internees" were even citizens of the United States. Each one had signed a specific petition to be interned.[7]


Clark

Were these voluntary internees at Seagoville before Crystal City was organized? Did you have this type of a situation before Crystal City?


Stannard

Well, it stemmed from an order from the central office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that got out that voluntary internee petition. I suppose there may also have been voluntary internees in various other internment facilities.[8]

We began admitting women and children from Central and South America. They were the families of male aliens of enemy nationality—Germans, Japanese, and a few Italians who had been interned in other camps in the states. They had been caught up in a sort of dragnet because they were thought to be potentially dangerous to the


52
security of the United States. It isn't clear to me just why the State Department and Immigration came to work that out. Apparently, it was the result of some fear that Japanese, Germans, and Italians in Central and South America might rise up in some way to endanger the United States. I know of no episodes where that ever happened, however.

Many of these women and children were very primitive and confused; very few of them spoke English. Sometimes Spanish was the language most commonly spoken in the camp.[9] Fortunately, we had a few staff members who served as interpreters and one or two young girls among the internees helped in this respect. Later, staff members of German and Italian descent were very helpful in communicating with the Germans and Italians from Latin American countries, and we were able to recruit an American missionary teacher who had not been able to get back to her post in Hiroshima after Pearl Harbor. She was an excellent interpreter of the Japanese language and culture and served as a highly satisfactory liaison between the Japanese group and the American administration.


Clark

Do you recall her name?


Stannard

Yes, her name was Myra Anderson. She went back to Japan just as soon as she possibly could after the war. She was so devoted to the Japanese people. She was required to take a whole year's supply of provisions with her before they [occupied Japan] would let her come back.[10]

Our staff at Seagoville was a well-qualified group selected only recently through nationwide civil service recruitment and experienced in duties not too different from their new assignment. Special mention should be made of the dietician who, before Seagoville, worked in a large state hospital in a Western state, and of the librarian who happened to have had experience in storytelling for children and fluent in Spanish. Our chief liaison officer [Annette MacDonald] had supervision of general housekeeping and clothing supplied to the internees. She spoke both German and Spanish. We also employed extra people temporarily, mostly unskilled, from the nearby community. The men supplemented guards and laborers, the women did housekeeping chores for the offices and staff quarters and assisted in the staff kitchen and dining rooms, and in the hospital. These were all functions which formerly we had trained women prisoners to perform.

The people of the surrounding community were mildly curious but not troublesome. I think the local people we employed spread the word about keeping away from the fence. Some were satisfied to get sight of a Japanese for the first time in their lives. In hiring local people, I always inquired if they had relatives serving in the armed forces and gave them a simple explanation for the purposes of the Geneva Convention. No hostile act ever occurred.

The internees did their own housekeeping and took care of the classrooms and hobby shops organized by them with the assistance of equipment and materials furnished by the administration. I cannot remember the details, but there was an internee-managed employment service under which certain internees were assigned to assist in various departments. One of those was the library, and there were others in the hospital, maintenance shops, and on the farm. These helpers were paid ten cents an hour.

Soon after the husbands were permitted to join their families, the internee government was organized through the election of spokesmen for each house, a council made up of the respective spokesmen with a speaker chosen to represent each,


53
the German and the Japanese groups. The council met from time to time with staff advisers to work out plans for a variety of events and activities. For example, a style show, an arts and crafts exhibit, and amateur theatricals. One very active committee frequently met with the librarian and planned for internee-taught classes for the children. They also suggested movies to be shown. The internees were fond of cowboy and Indian films, and liked the Western flavor of their setting. They liked to sing "Home on the Range" and "Deep in the Heart of Texas."


Clark

This is both the Japanese and the Germans?


Stannard

Yes, especially the children.

Aside from those who came from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, visitors were representatives from the Swiss Delegation and the Spanish Embassy, the former being the protective power for the Germans and the Italians, and the latter for the Japanese, as required by the Geneva Convention. Others were the International Red Cross, YWCA [Young Women's Christian Association], and the Quakers. All met with the internees' speaker and council. I should make that speakers "plural" because the Japanese had their speaker and the Germans spoke for everybody else.


Clark

The Germans, you say, would speak for the Italians as well as for themselves?


Stannard

To the Swiss, yes, I think so. Although there were so few Italians, and they didn't stay long because the war with Italy was over sometime in 1943, I think. The Quakers arranged a few musical and lecture events which were well-received.

I want to say that I hope you're not putting much credence into what Mr. Nicholson said about his visit. I don't believe he was a genuine, qualified representative for the American Friends Service Committee.[11] I never met anybody that was an itinerant wayfarer accepting money as he went along, like he says those Japanese women collected for him. He just fictionalized a great deal of his account of his visit. Was that in an official Quaker report?


Clark

No, it was in an oral history interview similar to what we're doing now. When you mention fictionalizations, how extensive do you think they are?


Stannard

I don't believe his judgment was good and his observations reliable. It just sounds like he looked upon himself as an itinerant wayfarer going about. From the little I have read about him, he seems to have traveled by foot a great deal of the time and hitched rides. That wasn't the way the other Quaker people did. They had travel orders and their expenses were paid. They were not dependent on handouts. I think he just volunteered and they maybe played along with him. I never heard of him before.


Clark

You had never heard of him before?


Stannard

No. If you want to look up somebody's report in the Quaker files, if they'll open them to you, see Mr. Howard Elkington's. I'm sure he made a report which was of a different style at least from Mr. Nicholson's. He [Elkington] seemed to be a man who worked for the Quakers for years in different situations, quite stable.


Clark

But don't you remember anything happening such as what Mr. Nicholson recounts in his oral history interview?



54
Stannard

I doubt very much whether Mr. O'Rourke would have permitted him to go over to the ladies' quarters and be entertained at tea by them. Most visits took place in the administration building and were conducted with a staff member present.


Clark

This is even with the regular Quakers coming in, such as Mr. Elkington and others?


Stannard

I know the Swiss didn't have any members of the administration with them. They met privately with the internee counsel and so on. Probably the YWCA people and the Quakers did, too. I truly can't remember particularly about that.


Clark

But it would be quite extraordinary for a visitor to actually go into the quarters, such as Mr. Nicholson says he did?


Stannard

Yes.


Clark

To your memory.


Stannard

I think he made up a very fine story about all that.[12]


Clark

Your first detainees arrived on April 5, 1942?


Stannard

Yes, that's when women and children came from Panama.


Clark

So your first internees were from Panama?


Stannard

Yes.


Clark

Not from the United States?


Stannard

No. As I say, the first ones were from Central America and South America, and the prevailing language was Spanish. We needed interpreters very badly. Fortunately, we had a few people that could fill in. These graphs show you how the population fluctuated from time to time.[13] There were never any more than about 654 people, but there were ups and downs due to the repatriation movements of, maybe, hundreds of people at a time.


Clark

On the Gripsholm.


Stannard

Yes.


Clark

Most, if not all, of the internees at Seagoville then are from Latin America?


Stannard

No, later we admitted Germans, Japanese, and Italians from the United States.


Clark

I must have missed it.


Stannard

These graphs aren't broken down by ethnic groups, but they show that there was movement out and in. You mentioned the Gripsholm which reminded me that one of the songs the internees sang in New York when they were about to board the Gripsholm was, "Oh Give Me a Home on the Old Gripsholm." (laughter) I don't remember the other words to it.


Clark

These were Japanese?



55
Stannard

No, these were the Europeans who were being repatriated.[14] A great many people left to be paroled back into their own community or some other community than in the United States. That's where our social worker came in, and there was correspondence with local agencies and so on. Also, the border patrol made their investigations before people would be released on parole.[15]


Clark

Could you tell me a little bit about Joseph O'Rourke.


Stannard

Well, he was really a jolly Irishman. I think Mr. Jerre Mangione gives about the best picture of him in his remarks about how he was the Pied Piper of Crystal City; children liked him so well.[16] He did warm up to the children at Seagoville, too. He was like other Irishmen; he had his moments of irritation and blowing up. I think some of it was because of this overwhelming number of female staff that he had to work with. Every once in awhile he would cuss out some real gentle person in a most surprising way. (laughter) He drank quite a bit, too, as Jerre Mangione says.


Clark

Did that seem to affect his work?


Stannard

Well, I can recall one or two episodes that were definitely related to a hangover or, on another occasion, drinking too much. Not drinking right then and there on duty, but socially.

I think he made a very good administrator down there at Crystal City. I don't know a thing about the staff that he had or where they came from. We did transfer some to go there temporarily. I believe our dietician, Miss [Marian] Brooks, went down in an advisory capacity for awhile and possibly the weaving instructor [Mrs. Kelsey], an elderly person who was very well-liked by everybody. I think she might have gone down to help in establishing their weaving crafts. The librarian [Miss Sara Lewis] was not sent.


Clark

Can you recall any other interesting or colorful members of the staff? Did the other members of the staff get along well, or were there some problems, perhaps, because of the sudden influx of internees?


Stannard

Well, a teacher that we had originally as a member of the reformatory staff did not get along well with internees, especially after the men came. They wanted to take a more active part in the education of their children, and they objected very much to the way the American school was being handled. They apparently didn't want to be tainted by American educational methods.


Clark

This is both the Japanese and Germans?


Stannard

Yes. They wanted to find teachers among their own groups that would convey the Japanese or German cultures and languages; so it was set up that way.[17] The librarian was the consultant to the education committee and, of course, she had a lot to do with gathering materials for them. We had quite a lot of recordings, such as records of stories and musical things.


Clark

Was Seagoville strictly for women, or was it for families, too?


Stannard

Yes, it was for women and children first and then the husbands were added. (chuckle) Miss Lewis told a story about a little boy who got so excited and dashed into a story hour one time and said, "Our husbands are coming, our husbands are coming!" (laughter) I guess he didn't know his father very well, but he knew the husbands were coming.



56
Clark

Was this a German or Japanese boy?


Stannard

I think he was a German. Do you want me to talk about the characteristics of the Japanese as a group and the Germans as a group?


Clark

Yes, I'd be very interested in that.


Stannard

The Japanese, as a group, were quite self-contained and generally very cooperative. I don't remember any incident of their registering any strong wishes, except over that matter of the teaching of the children. They raised wonderful vegetable gardens, and they saved scrap metal for our war effort.


Clark

Our war effort?


Stannard

Yes, it was for our war effort. They would bring it to the administration and say, "This is for your war effort." It's hard to understand that quirk they had of being so polite under all circumstances. Another time a man had raised a tremendous cucumber in his garden and he brought it to the office and said, "this is from my 'victory garden'."

You know, Jerre Mangione described the scene when the husbands and fathers came. There was quite a difference in the way the Japanese greeted their spouses. They lined up quite some distance from each other in two lines--the women on one side and the men on the other--and they spent some time bowing. Then a signal must have been given, and the men marched off to the Japanese mess hall of the colony and the women stayed in the background pointing out to each other whose husband was which and giggling during it all. We never saw any of them get close to each other at all. That was reserved for later when they got in their quarters. The German women were wildly enthusiastic in greeting their husbands. They put their arms around them and went and carried on joyfully, and then went to their lunch in separate buildings.[18]

Another story occurs to me. The Japanese and the Germans each had a sort of cooperative canteen that was managed by themselves. They used scrip money that was issued by the administration against money they had on deposit in the safe in the chief clerk's office.


Clark

This was the only money they had in their possession? They did not have actual money?


Stannard

No, they didn't have dollar bills to throw around.

As far as I'm concerned, they ran a very successful operation, and didn't require very much help from the administration, although there was a staff member who helped to purchase supplies for the canteens in Dallas. She made many trips, and she carried out special orders for things that the internees wanted. After the surrender of Germany in 1945, when it came to closing the respective canteens, the Germans worked it all out in their typically methodical way down to the very last penny to be credited to every German internee. Whereas, the Japanese added up their profits and brought them to the front office and asked that the money be turned over to the International Red Cross!


Clark

I'll be darned!



57
Stannard

Yes.


Clark

So there were Japanese still in the Seagoville camp when it closed?


Stannard

Yes. They knew they were going to Crystal City. Of course, the war wasn't over for them yet, so many of them stayed out the duration in Crystal City.[19]


Clark

Did the Japanese ever celebrate the emperor's birthday?


Stannard

If they did, they did it so quietly and discreetly that I don't think we knew about it.


Clark

They did not engage in any other political, what you would consider, well, political or semipolitical activity then either?


Stannard

No. They didn't march. The Germans were apt to march to mark anything important.


Clark

The Germans did?


Stannard

Yes.

The Germans would celebrate Hitler's birthday for one thing, and display big, blown up pictures of him in their quarters. Undoubtedly, they had some meetings that the administration didn't participate in which gave honor to the German heroes. I don't remember anything very specific, but there were such meetings. There were factions among the Germans. The Japanese were too proud to show if they had any cliques or any splinter groups. The Germans brought a lot of their prejudices against each other with them when they came. Some were known to be extremely pro-Nazi Bundists and things like that. There were troublemakers among the Germans, but not among the Japanese. The principal troublemakers were the extreme-oriented people. They wanted to take over the management of things more than the majority would put up with. They fostered a lot of mean gossip and felt that they had a mission to continually complain to the American authorities about a great variety of things that were wrong. (chuckle) Oh, they got into big arguments among themselves. They were dissatisfied with their spokesman, you know, from time to time and made threats, so that they were a very disturbing element. We had to ask that about ten or a dozen couples be removed from our camp to go to Crystal City. They had enough room and facilities to take them over.


Clark

Were there conflicts between the Germans and the Japanese?


Stannard

No, I don't believe there was. There was a standoffishness. They didn't understand each other and each other's cultures, and they didn't try.


Clark

Did they mix at all, or did they stay in separate compounds?


Stannard

I don't think they mixed at all except when there was entertainment, like the movies twice a week. We had quite good movies of current issues, but they liked the Westerns most of all. In one film, I remember, I was apprehensive about a scene where the American cavalry came riding up the hill, you know, saving the day. I as afraid that might cause some stir or negative reaction on the part of the internees, but they just enjoyed it all. (chuckle)


58

I should have said that in this auditorium where they showed the movies, it seated about three hundred people. There was a Hammond electric organ which was played by one of the German internees who was a musician. The auditorium also had a piano, a standard quality projection room, and a stage that was used for meetings and theatricals. Some musical entertainment was put on, too.


Clark

Did the Germans and the Japanese have their own sections when they went to the theater?


Stannard

I think they just sat in their own self-segregated sections. There wasn't any official attempt to keep them apart.


Clark

So the so-called Axis allies really didn't...


Stannard

No, they didn't go at each other that way. The conflicts the Germans had were with their own people and, of course, against the American authorities. They always had bizarre tales to tell to the protective power when they came to visit, so that all of those things had to be looked into by the Swiss. I don't remember that the Japanese protective power [Spain] ever asked us questions at all.


Clark

I see. So the Japanese were much easier to handle than the Germans?


Stannard

Yes, yes they were. And a lot of that, I think, was due to this Myra Anderson who was such a wonderful go-between between the Japanese and the Americans. Maybe that's a good place to end.


Clark

For the time being.



59
Clark

Okay, this is our second session of the interview with Dr. Amy Stannard.

What I'd be interested in talking to you about now is the alien enemy control program. I understand, Dr. Stannard, that you were probably the only woman who was in charge of an internment camp, or any type of POW, or similar camp, during the war.


Stannard

Well, yes, I think I was. Of course, I was busy with my own work, so I didn't know very much about others. (laughter) I went to some conferences of officers-in-charge and different officials in Philadelphia, but I never met any woman, except Miss [Evelyn] Hersey, the chief social work adviser to Mr. [Earl] Harrison, the commissioner [of the Immigration and Naturalization Service].[20] She was a very capable and experienced social worker, especially experienced in looking after foreign born. She'd worked with the International Institute for many years.[21]


Clark

When you attended these conferences, or just in your general work as the officer-in-charge, did your being a woman in what to my mind appears to have been mostly a male-oriented world present any problems for you? Did you feel under any unusual pressure?


Stannard

Well, yes. There were people that were sort of suspicious of a woman, or were dubious as to whether a woman had what it takes to be the head of an internment camp. Some were resentful because they thought they could do a better job, I guess, but the criticism, as far as I know, didn't go very far. We felt that to some extent, with the border patrol, who were not really under my orders at all. We had a chief of surveillance who was acting officer-in-charge when I was away. He was a career man in the border patrol, and he had charge of all the guard duty people, the immigration male employees. I think they were somewhat estranged from having to work with women because they never had before, and they probably thought we were over fussy about a few things. I don't know exactly what. I think one was about fire regulations. When I was a little concerned one time about something in the auditorium that I thought was a fire hazard, the man on the post of duty there indicated that he thought I was worrying unnecessarily.


Clark

Were you appointed officer-in-charge right away after Mr. O'Rourke left or was there a delay in there?


Stannard

Yes, that was concurrent with his going to Crystal City.


Clark

Were you appointed directly by Mr. Harrison from Philadelphia?


Stannard

Yes.


Clark

Did you have an opportunity to meet Mr. Edward Ennis[22] while you were at Seagoville?


Stannard

Yes. I knew him quite well. He was the legal representative, I guess. I've forgotten what his title was.


Clark

He was in charge of the Alien Enemy Control Unit.[23]


Stannard

Well, he must have been associated very closely with Mr. [Willard F.] Kelly who was [the INS's] Assistant Commissioner for Alien Control. Yes, Ennis visited us several times. I remember him very agreeably.



60
Clark

In what way, may I ask?


Stannard

Well, he was very pleasant. He went out to dinner in Dallas with several of us, and we had an enjoyable time. I remember he didn't drink. Most of us took a cocktail or something or other, but he didn't. Did he sign his name in any other connection?


Clark

Normally he would come up in connection with the hearings; if the internees were to be given a hearing.


Stannard

Oh, yes.


Clark

Was this primarily why he came to Seagoville, as you recall?


Stannard

I don't remember specifically that, but probably he and Mr. [William S.] Southerland, the chief of surveillance, would have worked together on that.


Clark

Southerland was in Philadelphia?


Stannard

No, he was at Seagoville. He was the chief of surveillance and a border patrol career man who lost an arm in the line of duty, by the way. He was acting officer-in-charge when I was away.


Clark

He didn't lose his arm while at Seagoville, did he?


Stannard

Oh, no, this was some years back. He wore an artificial appliance. It was probably due to some border skirmish, I don't know.


Clark

Would you like to tell me what you did after the war?


Stannard

I went to Washington to work in the Bureau of Prisons as an adviser in connection with the classification of inmates. I worked mostly with records of inmates from the various penal institutions, and surveyed court records, particularly of patients with medical and psychiatric problems, for about a year.

Then I decided that I didn't want to stay with prisons indefinitely, and I heard that the Veterans' Administration was revamping itself after the war and recruiting medical officers. So on inquiring about that, I found there was an opening at Palo Alto, California, in the veterans' hospital. I was appointed to work on the staff there, which I did until I retired in 1956. That was about the longest stretch I had in one placement in the government service. I retired with about twenty-eight years service all told. I lived in Palo Alto afterward until I came here to Rossmoor. I had my home there in Palo Alto. Dr. [Dorothy] Sproul, [a former medical officer at the Seagoville camp], in the meantime came to town and was about ready to retire. She had her home in another part of the city. I had a serious heart attack in 1971 which set me back to the point that I wasn't able to live alone entirely anymore, and she helped me out a great deal. We both decided to sell our homes and came to Rossmoor in 1972.


Clark

Is there anything that you would like to say in conclusion about your experiences at Seagoville that you haven't covered?


Stannard

No, except to say it was entirely out of the blue that I got involved with the internment program. On the whole, I'm very glad to have had the experience and enjoyed the associations and knowing people who visited.


61

I have enjoyed the aftermath of corresponding to some extent with ex-internees. I have met with one of them, a man and his wife, when I was touring Europe in 1960. This was the man who had played the organ in the auditorium. They came from quite some distance in order to see me. I was very sorry I had such little time because our bus had been rambling around the country in a rainstorm trying to find where it was going. By the time we got to Baden-Baden, which was the place we were to stay the night and have dinner, Mr. and Mrs. [Fritz] Wirz had been waiting for hours for us. I appreciated their coming and enjoyed their visit. The Wirz family had been repatriated. I don't know what else I could say.


Clark

Looking back on the type of internees that you had at Seagoville, particularly the Japanese, but also the Germans, do you feel that most of them were indeed potentially dangerous?


Stannard

I didn't see the official records on which their internment was based, so I don't know. It was hard to believe in some cases that they had been disloyal to the United States government. Of course, among the Japanese, there were people picked up on very flimsy circumstantial evidence. Dr. Sproul reminded me the other day about one man and his wife who were interned with us. We learned that he had been interned because it was habit to take walks along the coast and take pictures. That seemed to be about the only thing they had against him, but they may have had correspondence and other things that showed that he was in communication with enemy agents. Among the Germans, I think those rabid Bundists were potentially dangerous if opportunity had afforded and if Germany had invaded the United States, as many of them fully expected would happen. They would have aided the enemy. But then, many of them were just ordinary people going along in their trades and businesses. As far as we knew, they didn't bother anybody. They may have had some associations or joined some German American society or something or other that made them suspect. I really don't know for sure.

I don't know that I should go into the business about some of the people who were troublemakers just because of their nature.


Clark

They appear to be rather a distinct minority.


Stannard

Yes, they were. Some of them, though, were very smart, and very vocal and had quite a hold on the other German population, so that the others were afraid to speak out in opposition. For quite awhile, we had the notorious "Princess" [Stephanie] Hohenlohe [Waldenburg Schillingsfurst] with us. You've read about her, I guess.


Clark

You mean in Jerre Mangione's book?[24]


Stannard

Yes. He gives quite a number of paragraphs to her when she was with us. She was a complainer and finagler of the first order. (laughter) She was trying to wind somebody around her finger to get what she wanted. She did succeed with one of the men who was in a high position in the Philadelphia offices, as is shown in by Jerre Mangione's book. I don't know what became of her eventually. She was great on physical complaints, exaggerating them and using them to the nth degree to get sleeping pills and other special considerations that the medical department didn't think she really needed. On the whole, the other internees suspected her and did not like her. They knew she had a Jewish background and that was one of the reasons. Her marriage and her title was accomplished by a shotgun marriage. She'd been connected with some minor princeling.


Clark

So she was a colorful person.



62
Stannard

She was to some people, if you could put up with it. (chuckle) All the time you knew in the back of the head she was trying to work some scheme out of you.[25]


Clark

Well, that seems to conclude the questioning that I have. I would like to thank you very much, Dr. Stannard, on behalf of the Japanese American Oral History Project at California State University, Fullerton for taking your time today to talk with me about your experiences at the Seagoville Internment Camp.


Stannard

Yes. You're welcome.



63

Notes

1. The new institution, Federal Reformatory for Women, Seagoville, known as "a prison without walls," opened in 1941 and received women prisoners convicted of federal offenses; none were illegal aliens. Their sentences ranged from one year and a day to life. All of the prison inmates were transferred to other federal facilities when Seagoville was converted to an alien enemy detention station in April 1942. This notation was supplied by Dorothy G. Sproul. Hereafter notations deriving from Sproul will be indicated by the initials D.G.S.

2. The first title, "Alien Enemy Detention Station," originated in 1942 after the federal prisoners had been moved out and the alien enemy detainees began to arrive. In 1943, the title was changed to "Seagoville Internment Camp," and the detainees thereafter were known as "internees." D.G.S.

3. In 1943, Joseph O'Rourke was transferred to the Crystal City Internment Camp as its officer-in-charge. At the same time, Dr. Stannard became the officer-in-charge at Seagoville. William S. Southerland, a career man in the border patrol, became Seagoville's chief of surveillance, in charge of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's male employees on guard duty. Southerland served as acting officer-in-charge when Dr. Stannard was away. D.G.S.

4. Until 1943, Stannard's title was "superintendent," and O'Rourke's was "supervisor of internment." Neither was subordinate to the other. Each had responsibilities and duties defined in the "memorandum of understanding" signed jointly by officials of the Bureau of Prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. D.G.S.

5. There were no watchtowers at Seagoville; nor did the border patrol carry firearms at this camp. D.G.S.

6. Herbert Nicholson recounts that while visiting Seagoville during the war he enjoyed lunch with the internees "on a table with linen cloth and napkins and dainty china and silverware." See Herbert V. Nicholson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels (Whittier, Calif.: Penn Lithographics, 1974), 69.

7. One Japanese couple, who had two sons serving in the United States armed services, requested voluntary internment because they were the only people of Japanese ancestry living in a small midwestern city and they feared for their safety in that hostile atmosphere. D.G.S.

8. Crystal City, Texas.

9. Among the Panamanians, Spanish was the native language spoken by the women and children. Later, staff members of German and Italian descent were very helpful in communicating with the Germans and Italians from South American countries. D.G.S.

10. Myra Anderson died in 1955. D.G.S.

11. The American Friends Service Committee is a welfare organization founded in 1917 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Early in the war, Nicholson was employed with the committee. However, due to a falling out, he came to break off his employment with it. See Betty E. Mitson, "Friend Herbert: Concern in Action within America's Concentration Camps" (1980), 45-47. The sole copy of this valuable, unpublished manuscript, consisting chiefly of in-depth interviews conducted by Mitson with Nicholson and originally intended


64
as an M.A. thesis in the Department of History at California State University, Fullerton, remains in the possession of its author.

12. If Herbert Nicholson was not received by Joseph O'Rourke as an official representative of the Quakers, Nicholson's story of his visit, alone, with the Japanese women is incredible. Furthermore, no United States currency was available to the internees. Any private funds they had were on deposit in the chief clerk's office. Scrip was issued monthly to the internees to spend in the canteen. They could request to order items from outside sources. If approved, payment was made from funds on deposit with the chief clerk. The $43 Nicholson alleges he found in his pocket after leaving the detention station could not have been placed there by the Japanese women. Might the donor have been the kind person who is alleged to have driven Nicholson, "the wayfarer," to Dallas after leaving the station? D.G.S. The comments by Dr. Stannard and Sproul relative to Herbert Nicholson's visit to Seagoville are based exclusively upon his comments as found in "A Friend of the American Way: An Interview with Herbert V. Nicholson," Voices Long Silent: An Oral Inquiry into the Japanese American Evacuation, ed. Arthur A. Hansen and Betty E. Mitson (Fullerton, Calif.: Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton, 1974): 127-28.

13. These are hand-drawn graphs covering the entire period of Seagoville's use as an internment station. The originals are on deposit in the Japanese American Collection of the California State University, Fullerton, Special Collections.

14. The first exchange of Europeans was in May and June 1942 when the S.S. Drottningholm sailed between New York and Lisbon, Portugal, on two round trips. The M.S. Gripsholm was utilized later that same year and again in 1943 for the exchange of American and Japanese personnel.

15. The border patrol served only to provide security to the various INS internment camps. Other arms of the Justice Department, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General's Alien Enemy Control Unit, were the agencies responsible for parole investigations.

16. Jerre Mangione, in Ethnic at Large (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1978), 331-32, comments that O'Rourke "exuded more charisma than any government employee I had ever met. The prisoners considered him the most popular man in the camp [Crystal City], and their children responded to him as though he were the Pied Piper reincarnated."

17. The internment experience among the Japanese at Seagoville was later described in the volume Japanese in Southern California (Los Angeles: Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Southern California, 1960), 576, as mostly peaceful. However, the issue of education stands out as the one incident of disagreement with the camp authorities. According to this source, in late 1942 there were three teachers assigned to 2,590 students, with the Japanese internees deemed insufficient. Also, there existed questions over school texts. Accordingly, the Japanese speaker, a Mr. Sugimachi, proposed a change in operation. Within three weeks, eight new teachers had been recruited and new textbooks were ordered, thereby resolving the issue. This volume also notes that in 1942 there were from thirty to forty Japanese internees from North America, with the remainder originating from Latin America. Thus, the need for Spanish language texts was also felt.

18. Early 1942, the first group of several hundred women and children arrived late one morning, many non-English speaking, exhausted from a long train ride from New Orleans where they had been held in the immigration station. The administration had prepared a hot noontime meal that was served at long tables in the hospital's quarantine quarters. It was pathetic to see how frightened they were, and so hungry. They ate ravenously, and at the same time snatching food to hide inside their clothing, as though they expected to be


65
starved later on. In late 1942, as described by Dr. Stannard, the husbands arrived and joined their families. On the following day a small delegation of German men came to the hospital. After brief, formal introductions, they were invited to visit their sick children. The fathers insisted, instead, upon removing the children immediately to the family quarters. None of the children were critically ill, but in need of bed rest and nursing care. The men ignored the questioning as to whether the mothers wanted this relocation and indicated that they would take the responsibility of caring for the children. This response was accepted without arguing. In a day or so, the sickest children were returned to the hospital. Raw potato poultices and home remedies had not cured boils and other illnesses. In contrast to the apprehensive German fathers, when the delegation of Japanese fathers appeared at the hospital, they were courteous and effusive in expressing appreciation of the medical care available. When asked if they wished to see their sick children, their reply was apologetic, "only if the doctor approves." After visiting the children briefly, they departed with expressions of satisfaction and gratitude for the medical care of their children. D.G.S.

19. Seagoville reverted entirely to the United States Bureau of Prisons and became a federal prison for male offenders only. D.G.S.

20. Earl G. Harrison was the INS commissioner from 1942 until 1944. A Republican, he had impressed Francis Biddle, the liberal attorney general, by an outstandingly humanistic 1940 campaign to register resident aliens. Harrison was succeeded by Ugo Carusi.

21. The International Institute stems from a desire in 1910 of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) to provide social services to immigrants in large industrial cities. In 1933, due to diverging interests, the institute became an independent organization.

22. Edward J. Ennis was the director of the Justice Department's Alien Enemy Control Unit from December 1941 to March 1946. For more information on Ennis, see Edward J. Ennis Resigns from Justice Department, [Immigration and Naturalization Service] Monthly Review (April 1946): 300.

23. The Alien Enemy Control Unit originally operated out of the Office of the Assistant to the Attorney General. Later, in the summer of 1943, the unit was transferred to the Assistant Attorney General, War Division, where it remained until after the war when both the unit and the division were abolished.

24. See Mangione, 206-98.

25. On arrival at Seagoville, the "Princess" was brought to the hospital on a stretcher, advance notice having been received that she was very ill. A pleasant, single room was prepared for her. Examination revealed no medical problems of a physical nature. She received attentive, reassuring care from the nursing staff and two days later requested to be released to the German internee group. We learned later that she was not warmly received by many of the internees. Shortly, the "Princess" came to the hospital to request sleeping pills. When refused, she reported the incident to Joseph O'Rourke. He then called the medical officer to insist that her request be granted. He would not agree with medical opinion that such medication was contra-indicated under the circumstances of her situation, and announced that he himself would go to town and buy sleeping pills for the Princess out of his own funds. Whether he did never became known to me. D.G.S. O'Rourke's proclivity to make out-of-pocket donations to the internees under his supervision was not limited to [Stephanie] Hohenlohe. In the spring of 1944 he personally provided the Japanese at Crystal City with a $15 trophy to be awarded to the winner of athletic events connected with a Japanese celebration. See O'Rourke to Kelly, 30 May 1944, file 103/036, box, 4, Crystal City, Records of the Alien Enemy Internment Camps, Records of the Immigration and


66
Naturalization Service, Record Group 85, General Archives Division, Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland.


67

Index

  • American Friends Service Committee, 53, 55
  • Anderson, Myra, 52, 58
  • Brooks, [Marian], 51, 55
  • Crystal City, Tex.
  • Elkington, Howard, 53
  • Ennis, Edward, 59, 60
  • Geneva Convention, 50, 52, 53
  • Gripsholm, 54
  • Harrison, [Earl], 59
  • Hersey, [Evelyn], 59
  • Hitler, Adolf, 57
  • Hohenlohe, "Princess" Stephanie, 61-62
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service, 49-50, 53
    • commissioner of, 59
  • International Institute, 59
  • International Red Cross, 53
  • Internees, 51, 56
    • activities of, 52-53
    • children, education of, 55
    • entertainment, 59
    • husbands, arrival of, 55
    • language difficulties, 52, 54
    • organization, 52-53
    • political activities, 57, 61
    • repatriation, 55
    • "voluntary," 51
  • Kelly, [Willard F.], 59
  • Kelsey, Mrs., 55
  • Lewis, Sara, 55
  • MacDonald, Annette, 52
  • Mangione, Jerre, 55, 56, 61
  • Nicholson, Herbert V., 51, 53
  • O'Rourke, Joseph, 50, 54, 55, 59
  • Palo Alto, Calif., 60
  • Panama
    • detainees from, 54
  • Quakers
    • See American Friends Service Committee
  • Rossmoor, Calif., 60
  • Seagoville, Tex.
    • Alien Enemy Detention Station, 50
    • Federal Reformatory for Women, 49
    • Internment Camp
      • canteens, 56
      • description of, 50, 51
      • dietician
        • See Brooks, Marian
      • food, 50
      • housing, 50
      • librarian
        • See Lewis, Sara
      • medical officer
        • See Sproul, Dorothy G.
      • security, 50
      • staff, 52
      • surrounding community,
        • relations with, 52
      • surveillance
        • See Southerland, William S.
      • See also Internees
  • Southerland, [William S.], 60
  • Sproul, [Dorothy G.], 47, 60
  • Stannard, Amy N.
    • contact with former internees, 61
    • death of, 47
    • education, 49
    • employment at,
      • Board of Parole, 49
      • Bureau of Prisons, 49, 60
      • private practice, 49
      • Veterans Administration, 60
    • health, 60
  • United States
    • Border Patrol, 50, 55, 59
    • Department of Justice
      • Alien Enemy Control Unit, 59
      • Board of Parole, 49
      • Bureau of Prisons, 49, 50
    • Veterans Administration, 60
    • War Relocation Authority, 51
    • See also Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Wirz, Mr. and Mrs. [Fritz], 61
  • Young Women's Christian Association, 53, 54

An Interview with
Robert L. Brown
Conducted by Arthur A. Hansen
on December 13, 1973 and February 20th, 1974
for the
California State University, Fullerton
Oral History Program
Japanese American Project

Manzanar War Relocation Center
O.H. 1375

©1976
The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton

Use Restrictions

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, 92834-6846.


73

Interview

  • Interviewee:
  •     Robert L. Brown
  • Interviewer:
  •     Arthur A. Hansen
  • Subject:
  •     Manzanar War Relocation Center
  • Date:
  •     December 13, 1973 and February 20th, 1974
Hansen

This is an interview with Robert L. Brown, formerly reports officer and assistant project director of the Manzanar War Relocation Center, by Arthur A. Hansen, for the California State University, Fullerton, Japanese American Oral History Project, at 2321 D Via Puerta, Laguna Hills, California, on December 13, 1973, at 3:00 p.m. [The interview is continued on February 20, 1974 at 2:00 p.m.]

Let me begin the interview, Mr. Brown, by finding out a little bit about your background: your age, where you were born, and where you were raised.


Brown

Well, I'm sixty-five, believe it or not! I can't believe it. I was born in South Pasadena on March 11, 1908. I was brought up in Los Angeles and went to high school in Modesto, California; so I'm a Californian. I went to the University of Southern California from 1927 to 1931 and got a B.A. degree in English, but I specialized in journalism. Then in 1935 I went back and got a general secondary credential in education and taught high school, first in Big Pine, California, which is in the Owens Valley, for two years, and later in Sanger, California. I really enjoyed teaching. But as you know, there wasn't very much money in the teaching business in those days.


Hansen

What did you teach?


Brown

In Big Pine I taught pretty near everything. I taught English, history, some mathematics, and music--we gathered a choir together; we couldn't quite make it with an orchestra. I even taught Latin for one year, for one student.


Hansen

Big Pine is located in Inyo County between . . .



74
Brown

Between Independence and Bishop. We had a high school that had thirty-seven students and six teachers. We had a grammar school that had about a hundred students, and I think they had about seven or eight teachers there.


Hansen

How did people in Big Pine make a living at that time?


Brown

They were mainly cattlemen and ranchers. In those days, they were still leasing property from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which owned most of the Owens Valley. We had a big Indian population; about half of our students were Indian.


Hansen

Were Indians integrated into the town life pretty much, or did they keep to themselves?


Brown

They pretty much kept to themselves. The Indian Bureau had come up there and built some very nice small houses for them. But there was another group of Indians there who called themselves the Free and Independent American Indians and they lived on their own land, which was sort of taken over from the Department of Water and Power. They were squatters, but nobody paid too much attention to them. Most of the Indians were fairly well employed by the cattlemen and sheepmen around the country. We didn't have any poverty problem or anything like that. They all went to school; nearly all of them graduated from high school and quite a few of them went on to colleges. They were pretty well-educated for the Indian culture in those days; they were pretty well-to-do Indians and, by and large, a lot more intelligent than some of the other Indians that I've known in my life.


Hansen

What was your life like in Big Pine? Did you find yourself bored?


Brown

No, it was a very interesting little town. It had all of five hundred people. At that time it had a gas station, a general store, a post office, a telegraph office, a two-story hotel--but no motels--and a Chinese restaurant that was open in the summertime. In the wintertime the Chinaman went prospecting.


Hansen

Was there a large Chinese population?


Brown

Just the one Chinaman who went prospecting.


Hansen

I've talked to some people up there in the Valley and apparently there used to be some Chinese communities there.


Brown

Yes, that's true.


Hansen

Was there one in Bishop at the time?


Brown

No, I think the Chinese population was in Independence and Lone Pine. After the main gold rush in California, the Mexicans came up into that country--out of Mexico, Mexican nationals--and they pretty well


75
picked the country clean of whatever gold or silver there was. Then following them the Chinese came in, and the Chinese did pretty well in a lot of the canyons over in the White Mountains. So this started the Chinese community, but by the time I'd gotten there most of them had gone except Wing Foo. He was the town's best cook in the summertime--he was also one of the best hunters, so he used to take people hunting--and then he'd go prospecting in the wintertime.


Hansen

Then the Chinese didn't come into the Owens Valley as a result of the railroad so much as because of silver prospecting?


Brown

No, they were all prospecting. No, I don't think they had any Chinese workers on the railroad at all.


Hansen

I'm sure that while you were teaching in Big Pine you got around to Lone Pine, Independence, and Bishop at one time or another. Do you remember any Asians in those areas?


Brown

Not that I know of. There weren't any. There was quite a Basque population because it was sheep country and . . . There were one or two Basque in Big Pine, but most of them lived in Bishop. There is still quite a Basque population there, but no Orientals.


Hansen

You mentioned before about the Indian Bureau, and its contact with the Paiutes, and I know that a lot of the relocation authorities came from an Indian Bureau background.


Brown

That's right, I'd say that maybe 50 percent of all the administrators came from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Hansen

Did you have any contact with the Indian Bureau yourself?


Brown

No, not at that time, not a bit. I didn't know anything about the bureau.


Hansen

How do you think that situation came about, that about 50 percent of the administrators in the WRA [War Relocation Authority] were recruited from the Indian Bureau program?


Brown

I know. Let's see, let me reconstruct that. I'd have to go and look that up to really . . . I can tell you that Si Fryer, [E. R. Fryer], who was the superintendent of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, was one of the men picked by the administration in Washington to come out to San Francisco and actually run the ten camps from there. I forget who did that in Washington. So, I would say that most of the people who were hired by Fryer were hired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I think he had a great deal to do with that.


Hansen

Do you think it was reasoned that, since they had been dealing with concentrated people on the reservation, they might have expertise in dealing with another concentrated minority group?



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Brown

I would think so, yes. At the time I wasn't conscious of it, actually, because we didn't have that philosophy thrown at us at Manzanar--at least to start with. But I noticed that as they picked administrators for the other camps, they picked either people from the Department of Agriculture or people from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Hansen

I guess the upper-echelon positions were staffed somewhat heavily by Department of Agriculture people?


Brown

Yes. That was when Dillon Myer was made the director of the War Relocation Authority; I think that was almost at the start of the WRA. Dillon Myer was from the Department of Agriculture, and I think that's where some of the agriculture people got into the act. I know Ray Best, who ran the Tule Lake camp, was a Department of Agriculture man and pretty well up in it. A lot of the people who came to us . . . well, our man that ran all our agriculture, all our farms at Manzanar, he was a Department of Agriculture man, and the chief engineer at Manzanar, a man named Sandridge, was also from the Department of Agriculture as I remember. It was kind of split between Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Agriculture people.


Hansen

You had contact with neither?


Brown

I had had no contact with any of them, that is correct.


Hansen

Did you,then, go straight from teaching to the position at Manzanar?


Brown

Well, after my third year of teaching. In the summertime I used to work at Yosemite National Park for the operating company, in the transportation end of it. But I had made some friends over at Big Pine and Bishop and all the people in the Owens Valley were having a very difficult time existing in those days--it was the Depression--and the Department of Water and Power of the City of Los Angeles had come up in the twenties and purchased most all the land--they owned at least 90 percent of the land in the whole valley. But people still had businesses, they had grocery stores and gas stations and clothing shops, and they were living off what little summer traffic came up to go fishing in the High Sierra and that type of thing.


Hansen

They didn't have much skiing?


Brown

Didn't have any skiing at that time, there wasn't any skiing at all. There were two or three very interesting people then living in the Owens Valley who have had national publicity, both at the time and since. One of them was a man named Ralph P. Merritt, who had been president of the Sun Maid Raisin Growers' Association and had started that deal. Prior to that he'd been head of the Rice Growers' Association in California. Ralph Merritt was a University of California man; in fact, he was on the Board of Regents at the University of California at one time.



77
Hansen

He's not originally from Inyo County, though, is he?


Brown

No, he's not from Inyo County, although he knew it well. One of the things that he was always interested in was mining, and he was an expert on the mineral deposits of Inyo County and Mono County. And another man was Father John J. Crowley, who was the Catholic priest in Lone Pine who, when he was alive, had the byline of the "Desert Padre,"--Padre was a very interesting . . . well, he was just sort of a brilliant guy. He had a little trouble with the church. He was a monsignor. He had a little trouble with church politics and so he elected to take this desert missionary region, and he covered the area from Death Valley to Bishop every Sunday. He'd say mass in Death Valley about five o'clock, drive over the mountains to Lone Pine, say mass there about nine-thirty or ten, and then go up to Bishop and say mass there at eleven o'clock. So he knew everybody.

And they, Ralph Merritt and Father Crowley, along with two or three other people in the valley, decided that it was time that the valley had some kind of chamber of commerce representation or publicity representation or something. For some reason or other, they remembered me and the fact that I was a journalism major and had taught school in Big Pine. One of the men came over to Yosemite, I believe it was during the summer of 1937, and wanted to know if I'd take on the job of running a sort of two-county publicity bureau. And they said, "You'd have to start it from scratch, but we have the newspaper behind you." They had one newspaper in the area. "But you're going to have to sell yourself and raise your own money to pay yourself a salary." And I said, "Well, all right, I'll try it." So I did. I came over, and we raised enough money to get started the first year. That was the start of the Inyo-Mono Association, which was, in effect, a publicity bureau. We were trying to get the newspapers in Los Angeles and San Francisco to give us space on the sports pages about the great hunting and fishing, in order to get people to come up into the area and bolster the economy.

We were quite successful. We started out with a budget of $2,500 which I raised by calling on pretty near every business in the two counties and asking for anything from five to ten dollars. I got about half the people to give me about half of what I asked for. When the war broke out, we had a budget of around $20,000 a year, which today doesn't seem like much, but it was very good then. We had lots of help from the newspapers in southern California and those in the Bay Area. We had lots of friends and the publicity really began to take hold--witness what the area is today. So I suppose how I got into it was that I knew all the major business people in Inyo County and Mono County, as well as all the political people--the judges, the district attorneys, the sheriffs--and all the newspapermen.


Hansen

You were a salesman whom they were indebted to, then, in the sense


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that you were selling publicity.


Brown

Well, I was selling the area through publicity, that's what I was doing.


Hansen

For the benefit of their economy.


Brown

Yes. And in doing it, of course, we had to work very closely with the city of Los Angeles, not only the city council but with the Department of Water and Power officials who were "dead set" against having any more people coming into the valley.


Hansen

Because of the shortage of the water?


Brown

No, because they just didn't want the issue to come up of people saying, "Well, now we need to have another gas station but we don't have any land to build a gas station on, so please, Mr. City of Los Angeles, won't you either lease us or sell us a corner lot?" And they didn't want to get back into this, at least that administration didn't. Our largest problem was getting the Department of Water and Power people and the Los Angeles City Council people to recognize that this was a new day and that Los Angeles was growing and the Los Angeles people had to have recreational areas and that there wasn't any reason why they couldn't have it in the towns in the Owens Valley, except the city of Los Angeles wouldn't release any of the land. And there were lots of lands that were not agricultural lands, just city lots that, you know . . .


Hansen

So there was still room for expansion?


Brown

Yes, there was still room for expansion. And we finally got that program put across and we got the city of Los Angeles to sell back a lot of the property within the towns for private ownership. So the organization itself was pretty well-known in the press. There were some very influential people in Los Angeles who were watching this struggle between the tiny community of people fighting for their life and the big outfits trying to hold onto the status quo. One of our big friends, finally, was the Los Angeles Times. We finally got the Los Angeles Times and Harry Chandler, who was then editor and publisher of the paper, to get on our side and start needling the city a little bit.


Hansen

Was there a lot of antagonism toward Los Angeles in Inyo County as a result of, first, their major landlord position, and secondly, their diverting of Owens Valley water?


Brown

Yes, yes. Yes, lots of antagonism--still is today, to the old-timers. They thought that they had had their land stolen from them. It's a long argument, but it's been written up two or three times, and it's quite an interesting story and quite an interesting fight.

One of our friends was the publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News,


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a man named Manchester Boddy. The Los Angeles Daily News was the only Democratic paper in Los Angeles--if you would consider the Times a Republican paper then, as well as the Examiner. Boddy was quite aware of what was going on up there. In fact, I had met him earlier in the business and he turned out to be a pretty good personal friend of mine. The director of public relations for the Department of Water and Power in those days was a man named Glenn Desmond, who was also personally, I'm sure, sympathetic to the people of the Owens Valley, but who had a job to do to maintain the position that the department took. But Glenn and I got to be real good personal friends. So when it appeared that war was imminent, or actually when war was declared, and the great hue and cry went up about the Japanese Americans and those few Japanese who were Issei--who were born in Japan--being a threat to the Pacific Coast, we began to get rumbles that something was going to be done with the Japanese. At first we thought maybe Inyo County, because of all the metal minerals that were there, would probably get in on a war boom of extraction of minerals. That's what we actually thought.


Hansen

Did you push this in your publicity at all?


Brown

Yes, we pushed it in our publicity and we showed all the stuff that was available. Inyo County has the largest tungsten mine in the world-still, to this day--right out of Bishop.


Hansen

Was the tungsten then being extracted?


Brown

Tungsten was in short supply, so we knew that was going to go.


Hansen

But were they already mining it?


Brown

Oh, yes, they were mining it. But there was a lot of tungsten all through both the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the White Mountains, so there were a lot of tungsten deposits that had maybe been marginal earlier but now as the price of tungsten was going . . . see, China had most of the tungsten and we couldn't get into China to get the tungsten. That was a very necessary metal. So there was a big boom in tungsten.

But to get on with the story, I was up at Minden, Nevada, early in March, 1942, making a standard publicity speech about "let's get skiing going." We were by that time trying to get skiing operating, although we had not yet done it.


Hansen

Where were you trying to get skiing going?


Brown

In and around Mammoth, where it is now, where it's so heavy, and around June Lake. And I got a call from Glenn Desmond of the Department of Water and Power saying that there was a big emergency meeting he wanted me to attend with Manchester Boddy, the publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News. He asked me if I could come down to Los Angeles, and I replied that I could.



80
Hansen

In what capacity were you going to be serving?


Brown

As the executive secretary of the Inyo-Mono Association. This was like a chamber of commerce. We didn't call it a chamber of commerce, but it was an association backed by the businessmen in the two counties, and I was the official voice of it. I did all the publicity work for it. So that's why Glenn asked if I would come down; in other words, I would sort of be representing the feeling of people in Inyo County and Mono County.


Hansen

Who was president of the Inyo-Mono Association?


Brown

Well, the first president was Father Crowley. And the second president was a Bridgeport man named Slick Bryant. I think he's still alive.


Hansen

Is Bridgeport in Mono County?


Brown

Yes. Bridgeport is the capital of Mono County. And the third president was a man named Doug Joseph, who was the grocery store king of Bishop. Doug's still alive. But anyway, Glenn asked me to come down and have a meeting with Manchester Boddy. So I did. In fact, we went out to Boddy's house for lunch, as I remember, and he said, "I've just gotten word from Attorney General Biddle"--who evidently was a personal friend--"that the president is going to sign proclamation number so-and-so which will, in effect, take all the persons of Japanese ancestry out of the coastal states"--that's California, Oregon, Washington, and I guess Nevada and Arizona, too. I kind of forget the pronouncement, but it covered the eleven Western states.


Hansen

This meeting was probably a little bit earlier, wasn't it? I think you're probably talking about Executive Order 9066, which came out in February of 1942, so . . .


Brown

You're right. You're right. You've done more research recently than I have. You're right. The executive order had already been signed. Nobody gave it too much attention in the Owens Valley; I suppose on the coast they did. I remember thinking, "When I go down to this meeting, I wonder what Boddy will want us to talk about, tungsten or roads or land or air forces or possibly the Japanese?" But we didn't give it too much thought. So then Boddy said, "I've just been in touch with Attorney General Biddle and the Army is going to move all the Japanese off the West Coast and they're going to do it real fast." "I suggested to Biddle," said Boddy, "that a good place to put them would be up in the Owens Valley."

And both Desmond and I were sort of aghast. We said, "How many Japanese are there?" And they said, "Well, about a hundred thousand." I said, "Good Lord! We can't take care of a hundred thousand people. What are we going to do about our own people? No, that won't work." And Boddy said, "I've arranged for the two of you"--this


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was Glenn Desmond of the Department of Water and Power and me, representing the Inyo-Mono community--"to meet a man named Tom Clark, who is an assistant attorney general"--who later, as you know, served as a Supreme Court judge--"and he's been sent out here by Biddle and the president to make all the arrangements to get this thing underway and to move all the people." "Well," he said, "right now we've got an appointment this afternoon." So Tom Clark had an office set up for him in the city hall of Los Angeles. We went down there and met with Tom Clark. And he told us the same thing: Yes, the Army was going to move and they were going to move fast; he'd been giving a lot of thought to the Owens Valley as a place to put all of the people of Japanese ancestry, but he thought maybe we were right, it wasn't quite big enough for that, but he also had some ideas about Death Valley and he had some ideas about the upper Mojave Desert and he had a lot of ideas that he was kicking around.


Hansen

Had they even mentioned Manzanar yet?


Brown

Oh, they never mentioned Manzanar. They didn't even know there was such a place. They were just thinking in terms of the whole area. So we listened more than we talked, and Clark said, "You people could help, both of you--you, Mr. Department of Water and Power, and you, Mr. County Representative--by sitting down and thinking about this and maybe coming up with some ideas of what we could do."

So Glenn and I went back to his office and we thought about it a couple of days and we came up with kind of an outline. There were a lot of things that needed to be done if we had that many able-bodied people who were going to be removed from the coast. There were trails to fix and all sorts of make-work projects that you could get where you could keep at least the male population busy. And I came up with the idea that it would be a good idea if we got some of the leaders of the community into a committee that would be appointed by the government to give it some executive impulse, some feeling of: "Well, we're working for the government." You know. At least the original members of the committee would have a letter from the attorney general saying, "Would you be on a committee to study this problem?"

So we went back and talked to Clark again, and he said, "That's a good idea. Give a list of the names that you'd recommend, and I'll check them out." Which he subsequently did. I kind of forget the exact route, but we put Ralph Merritt on the committee. By the time this all came about, Father Crowley had been killed in an automobile accident, so he wasn't available. We put on the committee a man named Roy Booth, who was head of the Forest Service, and Spence Loudon, who was head of the Highway Division, and four or five of the other good citizens of the valley. We put the newspaperman George Savage on it, also.


Hansen

Do you remember what the name of the committee was? Was it the Owens Valley Citizens' League?



82
Brown

It was the Owens Valley something or other Committee. There's probably some documentation on it somewhere. I noticed someplace here a couple of years ago some mention to it; I think it was in the Eastern California Museum at Independence. Yes. So there's a list of that. So that went on for two or three days. It seemed to happen awfully fast. Tom Clark went to San Francisco where he employed a large public relations firm to sort of guide him in planning the story and in getting notices out through the Army to the Japanese people in the community and whatnot. The next I remember--this was all just in a matter of two or three days--I got a telephone call from Tom Clark's secretary in Los Angeles saying that she had a reservation for me and for George Savage, the editor of the Bishop paper, to fly to San Francisco and talk to Clark and to this public relations firm--which we subsequently did. Clark said, "I need either you, Savage, the newspaperman, or you, Brown, the publicity man, to go to work for me in this whole program." And Savage said, "Well, I've got my own business and I've got to think about that."


Hansen

Was this the Chalfant Press?


Brown

The Chalfant Press, yes. "And I don't think I'd better do it, but I think Brown will do it." And I said, "I don't know whether I ought to do it or not. There's a lot of things about this that are going to upset the whole community." And Clark turned and he kind of smiled and he said, "I didn't ask you, I'm telling you. You went to work for me yesterday." So that's the way I got hired. And I represented what was first set up as WCCA [Wartime Civil Control Administration], which was temporarily controlled by a man named Nicholson. The man they sent over to Manzanar to run it right from the beginning was a man named Clayton Triggs, who was an old CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp administrator.


Hansen

Now, Karl Bendetson was the head of the WCCA, wasn't he?


Brown

Bendetson was the head of the WCCA, and evidently he picked up Triggs some place through the Army and through the CCC. Triggs was a fine administrator, a tremendous administrator. A hell of a guy! But that WCCA thing only lasted four, five, or six months, something like that.


Hansen

I don't even think it lasted that long, did it?


Brown

Maybe not even that long.


Hansen

I think from about the middle of March to the first of June. Then the WRA took over.


Brown

Yes, you've got a better handle on this because you've been studying it lately. I'm so rusty in my mind. At the same time this was going on--the San Francisco meetings and whatnot--the Army Corps of Engineers came up into the valley without telling anybody or without anybody paving the way for them and started talking around


83
Lone Pine and saying they were going to bring a hundred thousand "Japs" up to Lone Pine. And this just threw the town into a panic, you know? No forewarning, no working through the committee, no working through Savage the newspaperman or anything else. They did it all independently.


Hansen

They had no publicity whatsoever on it yet?


Brown

No publicity on it whatsoever. I was able to get that stopped through Tom Clark.


Hansen

What, the talk?


Brown

I was able to get the Army, when they came up there, to quit talking, and when they did come up, to come up under the auspices of the committee and, say, the Forest Service man, you know, so that when we were going around in all these Army jeeps looking at property, everybody wasn't following us around saying, "What's the Army going to do now?" This sort of thing had been taken care of.


Hansen

They still hadn't picked Manzanar yet.


Brown

They still hadn't picked the site, no. They had four or five sites in mind, one down by Olancha, one up in the Bishop area, and one over on the east side of the valley where they would have had a water problem--they would have had to take it out of the Owens River. But they finally settled on the site of Manzanar, which was an old, abandoned, very large apple orchard at one time, and had a very fine stream coming right down through the middle of it.


Hansen

I think they still had the water pipes there, too, didn't they?


Brown

I think so. So they had plenty of water. So anyway, that's how I got into the act.


Hansen

Okay. Can I backtrack just a second and find out a little more about your activities in the Owens Valley during the prewar years?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

So you taught school in Big Pine and Sanger during the middle part of the thirties and then you took this job as secretary of the Inyo-Mono Association. And during this time that you had this job, between 1937 and 1942, you traveled a lot and you met almost all of the businessmen in your community. So you knew the area and its people very well. I want to find out a little bit about each of the communities in the valley to see if we can't pinpoint something of the nature of their economy and their leadership. Let's begin with Lone Pine and continue north from there. What kind of economy did Lone Pine have then?


Brown

It had a cattleman's and tourist economy. That's about all. You had the stores that hired the people that waited on the summer trade, and


84
you had about, oh, I'd say twenty or thirty pretty fair-sized cattle ranches, and one or two very large cattle outfits. They used to run their cattle up in the High Sierra in the summertime and bring them down into the Owens Valley and feed them in the wintertime. And eventually they got a little more water for raising alfalfa and that type of stuff so that they could raise their own feed. You had miners. You had quite a bit of mining still going on in those days--more dreamer's mining, I would say, but there was a lot of prospecting. Oh, they had big sulphur fields over in one of the valleys west of Lone Pine. The town of Darwin was still going with a big lead mill and had about a hundred to two hundred people working there. That kept some of the economy coming into Lone Pine.


Hansen

Where's Darwin located?


Brown

Darwin is southwest of Lone Pine on the road to Death Valley.


Hansen

When you wanted in your role as publicist to put something over to the Lone Pine people, who were the major people in the town that you went to see? In other words, who within Lone Pine possessed the power to effect action?


Brown

Well, let's see. John Lubken was the largest cattleman in the country and also chairman of the board of supervisors. At that time John didn't like what we were trying to do in bringing the transients in, because people would cut his fences and all that. He was not particularly for the program, although he was a smart and very able supervisor and realized that the economy had to be kept up by the merchants in the main streets of the town. So he wasn't too bitter, too vociferous in his antagonism, but he was one of the ones that I personally worked on for a long time. Finally we got to be real close friends. One of the major store owners in Lone Pine was one of the Joseph boys, Douglas Joseph's brother Irving. There were two drugstores; they were both active because they naturally got all the tourist business. There were also three or four restaurant owners, but I've sort of forgotten their names. One man who was very helpful was Jack Hopkins. He's still there in Lone Pine in the hardware business and has been on the board of supervisors. You might have run into Jack during your interviewing trips up to the Owens Valley. Well, he knows a lot about things in the valley, and was very close to it. There were four or five small hotel operators. Lone Pine was a very small town. I think it had eighteen hundred, maybe two thousand, people in the town. It had once been a larger town but by this time it was pretty well run-down.


Hansen

How would you describe the outlook of the townspeople? Were they pretty provincial people? I'm getting at this because I've been in Independence. As the county seat, and perhaps it is because they have government employees there, it seems to have more of a cultural tradition than Lone Pine.


Brown

Well, they're very proud of the history of the Owens Valley. All the old-timers in the valley are. I found them really quite intelligent


85
people, the people that I dealt with--and I dealt with practically every businessman in all the towns. You would find a few businessmen who were soured and who didn't like life in general, who didn't think we were doing any good, who thought things were all going to hell in a handbasket and that it was all the city of Los Angeles' fault, and this and that and the other, but really not very many. Of the major businesses in Lone Pine, we had good support, like I say, from the drugstore people, the grocery people, the hotel people, and anybody who would profit by getting more tourists into the county. They could see the results of what we were doing with the newspapers in Los Angeles because tourist travel picked up right away, just right away. There was a noticeable change in the cash register and that's the thing that . . .


Hansen

That spoke rather powerfully?


Brown

It spoke very powerfully, yes. We were quite pleased at the way things went because we didn't have any split-off splinter groups, for example, trying to undermine us. Everybody was all for the program.


Hansen

What about Independence? What kind of a town was that?


Brown

Well, Independence was the county seat, of course, and that's where the judge was and where the district attorney was, and all the county clerks and all the school officials were. And I think you're right about Independence. There's a pretty intelligent group of people there in Independence, and there always has been. In teaching school, for example, I had all kinds of help out of the county school superintendent's office.


Hansen

Who was the county superintendent at that time?


Brown

Ada Robinson to start with and then Dorothy Cragen.


Hansen

Dorothy Cragen?


Brown

Yes, she's still alive and she serves as the county historian. She's been a real close friend of ours. When I moved into the San Joaquin Valley in 1936 and went to teach in the little town of Sanger, which was about ten thousand people as against five hundred in Big Pine, I found very provincial attitudes in Sanger and very negative attitudes, as far as I was concerned. I was a young man and a young teacher and interested in seeing that the kids got the right kind of education, but I had all sorts of opposition from everything from the American Legion boys to certain ethnic groups they were against--they didn't like the "damn Japs" and they didn't like the "damn Mexicans," you know, this type of thing.


Hansen

You didn't find that so much in Independence, though.


Brown

There was none of that in Independence, none whatsoever.


Hansen

How about the town's political orientation?



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Brown

They were mainly Republicans, but I would say theirs was an enlightened Republicanism. Speaking in today's terms, they were progressive Republicans. There were very few die-hard negativists, very, very few.


Hansen

What did the people in Independence do to make a living? Were the government offices the main basis of the economy?


Brown

Yes, the government offices and its branches, also the division office of the Department of Water and Power. That's about all. And there was a grocery store and a couple of motels and that in town as well.


Hansen

Was there farming there?


Brown

No. Not anymore.


Hansen

Was there a lot of ranching then?


Brown

No, there weren't any ranches.


Hansen

Let's proceed north to the first town you taught at, Big Pine. You said earlier that the economy there was largely cattle and tourism.


Brown

Cattle and a little tourist trade. One man that I forgot to mention in Lone Pine who was a very big help to us was a man named Walter Dow. The Dow Hotel is named after him. Walter was a man of considerable means. He had made his fortune someplace else and then moved to Lone Pine--even though it was decaying--and tried to put it back on the map. He started a lumberyard and he started to build the hotel and he was very active in community development type of things. I would say that he was sort of the pillar of Lone Pine in those days.


Hansen

What about Independence, the county seat, which we were talking about before? Here you had a lot of officials. Who was powerful in Independence? It seems to me if they were powerful there, their voice would also carry weight beyond the confines of Independence; in other words, they must have been influential in the country at large.


Brown

The superior court judge was the most respected of all of the county officials. He was a highly respected man and a very fine judge. He used to be called into Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other places because his calendar wasn't too tight in the valley.


Hansen

Do you recall his name?


Brown

William Dehy.


Hansen

There's now a park named after him in Independence, isn't there?


Brown

Yes, Dehy Park. William Dehy. And George Francis was the district attorney when I was there, and George later became a superior court


87
judge and he's operating here in Southern California. I still see news of him in the paper. He is quite an unconventional judge in that he makes an attempt to get to the bottom of the problem, whatever it is, himself, and get the litigants to settle between themselves, out of court and this type of thing. And he's had some very fine write-ups . . . just recently in the Los Angeles Times, for example, there was a nice piece on him. I think George is past retirement age but he's still working. We had . . . I forget the fellow's name right now that followed him, but he ended up being a judge in Inyo County. Anyway, he had a fine reputation, still has. I'll think of his name in a minute. So there were some interesting people. Well, you know. Mary Austen, who wrote The Land of Little Rain, lived in Independence, and her husband was the county surveyor. This was before my time, back in 1900 to 1918, something like that. And she turned out to be a real, real top thought-of writer.


Hansen

What about Bishop? That was a much bigger town than Lone Pine, Independence, and Big Pine.


Brown

Yes, Bishop was the largest town in the area and, interestingly enough, it hasn't changed very much. That's where our headquarters were for the Inyo-Mono Association. When I was living there, I think Bishop's population was about four thousand; now it's only about five thousand. It was really the hub of the valley. You had access to more lakes out of Bishop than you did any of the other towns for fishing. And even in the old days it was only about an hour and a half or two hours from the Mammoth country, which was only open in the summertime. But even then, it was quite a recreational area. During World War I, somebody had discovered this tungsten mine up in Pine Creek Canyon, which is out of Bishop, and had worked it in those days, and then for some reason or another the price of tungsten fell and the mining company abandoned it or went broke or something. Ralph Merritt and two or three other people managed to get it going again and got a big tungsten outfit, the United States Vanadium Corporation--largest tungsten mining outfit in the world--to buy it up and go in and spend a lot of money in it. This was a few years before the war. I think they could smell the war coming, you know. And they spent millions of dollars up there and put in a huge mill, and the mine itself. The tunnels were at about ten or eleven thousand feet elevation, so they had to go in and winterproof all that work so they could work it at ten thousand feet, you know, at twenty or thirty below temperature all the time. And they ran a full crew, and still are running a full crew, I think, for twenty-four hours a day. It's the largest producing tungsten mine in the world.


Hansen

So in Bishop there's basically an economy built around mining and to some degree, I suppose, cattle ranching?


Brown

Yes, to some degree cattle ranching.


Hansen

And tourists?


Brown

I think the biggest thing was tourists. I know it is today and I


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think even in those days the tourist trade was the biggest thing, because the minute it began to pick up--when I first moved into Bishop, oh, there'd be one or two stores in each block empty and it wasn't a year after the Inyo-Mono Association was going that they started building up and people came in, and you could see it. You could see it immediately. You go out and talk to some of the fellows there now that have been there since then, and they'll tell you the same story. The minute the Inyo-Mono Association started going, they saw immediately a noticeable business increase. We didn't get skiing going prior to the war because the war kind of stopped us. But Dave McCoy and I are old personal friends. Dave and I--he's the guy who owns the big chair lift complex at Mammoth--Dave used to work for the Department of Water and Power. He was a snow-measurer in the wintertime. He went out and measured the snow and that's how the Department of Water and Power figured out how much moisture was in the content of the snow pack and regulated their water intake and this kind of stuff. I think Dave was chief hydrographer. Dave and I used to go up to Crestview, which is just past the turnoff to Mammoth. You couldn't get into Mammoth in those days because they didn't keep the road open. We'd go up to Crestview on a weekend and take my old Model A Ford and take the wheel off and put just a rim on, you know, and jack the thing up and put a rope tow around that and tie it up to a tree, and that was the very first start of any rope tows in the country. And we didn't have sense enough to charge anybody in those days. We were just doing it for ourselves, you know? And Dave one time said, "Hey, I think there ought to be money in this thing. We ought to get paid for it." And I said, "Yes, that's a good idea." Subsequently, he went out and built all that complex at Mammoth, as you know--or probably don't. Are you a skier?


Hansen

No, I'm not, but I know a little about Mammoth.


Brown

Well, he's internationally known. He really is. I mean, he . . .


Hansen

He's Mr. Mammoth, right?


Brown

He's Mr. Mammoth and he probably has got invested, without any exaggeration at all, ten million dollars. Just one of those things, you know. And he's still old Dave. He isn't any different than he was when we were putting the rope tow up to haul ourselves up to the tree.


Hansen

Can we now talk about preparing the people in the Owens Valley for the coming of a large influx of Japanese Americans at the Manzanar camp? I'm wondering what your position was like as a publicist. On the one hand, in a sagging economy during Depression years, certainly there was money in having a relocation center built in the area. Yet, at the same time, there was probably a certain amount of fear or resistance to having enemy aliens and their children being confined in areas proximate to towns like Independence and Lone Pine. This would seem to present a paradox. How did the people react to this paradoxical situation? Did you try to emphasize the . . .



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Brown

Yes. In the first place, we had the support of George Savage and the Inyo newspapers. He published them all at one plant but one had a dateline of Bishop and one Independence and one Lone Pine--and later on one in Bridgeport. We had George behind us 100 percent, and he kept the positive things going; you know, that it was good for the community so don't listen to the hate-mongers, and this type of stuff. He did a nice job, a very nice job. Then we got the members of this committee who were appointed by Tom Clark, and we had people from WCCA and the Army and the attorney general's office come out and brief them very thoroughly, and then most of the members of the Owens Valley Citizens Committee would go out and talk to the Rotary clubs and women's clubs and PTA people and whatnot. We did this fast--within the first four, five, six or seven days--when we had to get this thing all through. Looking back on it, we had firm support from everybody who was on the original citizens' committee. We had sort of a "let's wait and see" kind of support from most of the people. And we had 10 [percent] or 15 or 20 percent of the people who were violently against it.


Hansen

Ten or 15 percent of the people?


Brown

Yes, violently opposed to it.


Hansen

Do you recall any leaders of this opposition group?


Brown

Yes. I can't remember the guy's name, but there was a guy in Independence who formed his own militia of trained people and they were going to march . . . they were going to "save the women and children of Independence when the Japs broke loose!" (laughter) I forget his name.


Hansen

But he had only very little support?


Brown

Yes. And, oh, my boy was nine or ten in those days and would come home and say, "Daddy, are you a Jap-lover?" And I'd say, "Where did you get that?" "Well, all the kids at school said, `Your dad's a Jap-lover.'"


Hansen

Was your son going to school in Bishop?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

So in Bishop there was also some opposition?


Brown

Yes, there was an amount of opposition in Bishop. But it pretty well got straightened out. I'll tell you what straightened it out. It didn't take it long to change, although I'm sure we still had 10 or 15 percent of the people who thought we were doing the wrong thing. But the minute the camp got operating, we had to have local supplies. So this meant everything from hardware that somebody had forgot to buy in San Francisco to groceries that somebody didn't order and drugs and printing and newspapers. Well, it just affected almost everybody in the community, especially those in


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Lone Pine. Bishop didn't get it so much as Lone Pine. Lone Pine suddenly found itself just rolling in Uncle Sam's money, and the situation stayed that way all during the four years the Japanese were there.


Hansen

How about Independence? Was it affected?


Brown

Not very much. There wasn't anybody in Independence that had anything, you know? There was a little tiny grocery store and there wasn't even a drugstore in Independence. There were law offices for ex-district attorneys and other attorneys who lived there because they were going to defend somebody in the county and this type of thing. And so Independence didn't get anything.


Hansen

Well, did you find that--insofar as Lone Pine was profiting from it--that the attitude of the people in Lone Pine was more receptive than that of the people in Independence?


Brown

Yes, I would say so.


Hansen

And as you went up north in the Owens Valley would you say that it got less receptive?


Brown

No, I wouldn't say so. People sort of understood. There was never too much rivalry. You know, small towns in a little valley like that are sometimes highly competitive. The grocery store guy in Bishop hates the grocery store guy in Lone Pine, and like that. We didn't have any of that, as I remember, or at least we didn't seem to. And one of the things that helped the nonrivalry attitude was the Inyo Associates that Father Crowley and Ralph Merritt and Ray Goodman put together. It met once a month and it was a sort of a "get it off your chest" meeting: "What's going on, and where are we going?" We had the Forest Service people who'd come and say what was going on in the Forest Service and the highway guy would tell us what was going on in the Division of Highways and the newspaperman would say what was going on in his place and the grocery store people would get together and sit down at the same table and, you know, that kind of thing. So there wasn't the kind of rivalry that you see between so many small towns where one town is fighting another one. We didn't have that. We were a pretty cohesive group. When asked, "Where are you from?" most people would say, "I'm from the Owens Valley." "Well, what part of the Owens Valley?" "Well, I happen to live in Lone Pine." You know?


Hansen

So their primary identification was with the region rather than with an individual town in the Owens Valley?


Brown

Yes. That's how everybody would answer you--most everybody.


Hansen

Is there a lot of status connected with being a pioneer family in the Owens Valley?



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Brown

Oh, I don't think anymore--gosh, yes, I suppose. There was in those days, yes.


Hansen

Was there resistance to either Ralph Merritt, who later became Manzanar's director, or yourself? Although both of you had lived in the area, in some small towns they continue to regard people as outsiders fifteen or twenty years after their arrival.


Brown

Yes. It's a hard thing to say. I don't know. I suppose I had people that didn't like me, people who I didn't know anything about. But by and large, I think everybody that I know of there, or knew then, were quite friendly. Ralph had a few more people against him. Ralph was sort of a controversial man. He was a big man--big in his thinking, big in his ideas.


Hansen

What sort of controversies surrounded Merritt?


Brown

He was always a man of some controversy. You know, after Manzanar, he went to work for the War Assets Board. He was a disposal guy; he went around getting rid of air bases and that kind of stuff. Then he drifted into this rapid transit deal in Los Angeles. He's the guy that put the rapid transit together, there's no doubt about it. And he was controversial in that. But he had the Los Angeles City Council on his side for a long time and then they got some new members in the city council and they didn't like some of the things he was doing and whatnot. But he actually put the thing together, which I know very personally. I'm almost like a son to Ralph Merritt. We were very close together. And I know all the struggles he went through.


Hansen

What were the controversies that he was embroiled in before the war, with respect to the people in Inyo County? What made him albeit a respected person, a controversial figure to them?


Brown

Well, Ralph went broke in the Depression, you know. Ralph had made a lot of money, and, of course, the Depression came along and the Sun Maid Raisin Growers' organization went bankrupt. This personally bankrupted Ralph. And he had old, old friends from Independence, the Gunn family--anyway, Jack Gunn discovered the Minietta mine, which is over toward Death Valley. And he took a lot of money out of it. It was a silver and lead property. He took a lot of money out of it and used it. He'd mine it for a year or so and then he'd take his family and bundle them up and spend a year in Europe, this kind of thing. Well, he finally died. Mrs. Gunn was somehow or other an old friend of Ralph's father, who was a judge in Berkeley and also had come from that territory. He had something to do with mining laws and that. Now Ralph got polio right when he was about broke, and Mrs. Gunn took him in and he lived there with the Gunns for two or three years and actually opened up the Minietta again, opened it up and got it going; got a loan from the government, the Metals Reserve Corporation.



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Hansen

He wasn't married then?


Brown

Yes, he was married, but his wife didn't particularly like the desert and she had some kind of a feeling about the Gunn family. So she stayed in Oakland. So I think probably that people didn't know Ralph too well over there and the fact that he went into mining when he'd been a food man all his life . . . they got the idea that maybe he was sort of a promoter, which, you know, he wasn't. But they would always come to him for advice, even though they didn't like him. It's one of those things, you know? You've seen that in your own life. And then he and Father Crowley and Ray Goodman of Death Valley and Roy Booth, who was head of the Forest Service, and guys like Doug Joseph who were then getting to be financially well-off, sort of got together. I think the feeling toward Ralph on the part of some people dissipated. And I didn't feel any of that at the end of the Manzanar program. I think the whole valley was really very proud of Ralph Merritt and the way things were run in the camp. I don't think you'd find now in the old-timers anybody, outside of a guy like Arleigh Brierly of Independence, who would have anything bad to say about Ralph Merritt. I don't think so. I hope not, anyway.


Hansen

There's a strange situation in that here was an area that was, as we've pointed out before, profiting, at least in Lone Pine, considerably from the camp being there, and yet, as studies that have been done on the various communities surrounding the various relocation centers reveal, there was a special sort of hostility in the Owens Valley that you didn't find in most of the other areas. Now part of that could be due to lack of real scholarship concerning those other areas and the greater focusing on the California area because it was closest to the Japanese American population center. But it does seem that Manzanar and Tule Lake were the only two camps where the people in the surrounding areas would not allow the internees to come into their towns. In the other areas, after a short while, the towns were opened up to the internees. Although there was resistance and certain businessmen refused to serve internees when they went into restaurants or refused to sell them clothes in department stores, there was much more of an integration between town, on the one hand, and camp, on the other. And you never found this true with respect to Lone Pine or Independence. Do you think the reason was because Manzanar happened to be closest to the coast and therefore people were more anxious owing to this proximity? How do you account for this situation?


Brown

It's a good question. I don't know. Let me think about that for a minute. It never bothered us at the camp. We made two or three efforts early in the camp's history--this was before Ralph got there when Roy Nash was running the place and actually when Clayt Triggs was right there. One thing we suggested--you know where . . . Is it Tinemeha Lake? Anyhow, one of the lakes that is a storage thing for the city of Los Angeles for the aqueduct there--oh, it's not Tinemeha, it's the one below that.


Hansen

Little Lake?



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Brown

Between Little Lake and Tinemeha. . . I'll think of the name. Anyway, that was all full of carp. And the Japanese love carp, you know, so we suggested that why don't we--in those days we had the Army with us. I guess we had the Army with us all the time, didn't we? Anyway, we'd take the Army and a couple of launch-loads of these Japanese fishermen, go down there, and clean out Haiwee Reservoir. And I recall that we got a lot of back talk about that. "Oh, Christ, no! Don't let those bastards out of the camp." So we just said, "Well, the hell with it, we'd give it up, too." I think really the Japanese didn't want to go into town. I think that's probably the main reason. We never tried it after that. We finally, after Ralph arrived, got the camp so quiet and so well-organized that everybody seemed to us to be so happy that nobody wanted to go anyplace.


Hansen

Well, I found out from two sources in Independence that one of the store owners, I think his name was Alex Krater, was perfectly willing and had in fact started a movement to allow internees to come into town. But apparently there was then a countermovement, which easily squelched the permissive policy.


Brown

Yes, that's this guy who worked for the city of Los Angeles and was an American Legion nut. (laughter) Really, he was crazy, a screwball. We used to just sort of chuckle about him and say, "Well, the hell with it." We had all the territory we needed; I mean, we had waterfalls and we had great big picnic areas and we had . . .


Hansen

Well, the camp was actually much more cosmopolitan than the surrounding towns. I mean, after all, there were ten thousand people living in Manzanar.


Brown

Oh, sure. We had everything we wanted; we had a really good school built, had a big auditorium, had all kinds of music deals going . . . oh, it was just amazing what went on in there.


Hansen

So you didn't feel a lot of hostility coming from the townspeople.


Brown

Not at all. I never got any hostility from them.


Hansen

You went to town, too, quite a bit, didn't you?


Brown

Oh, yes. I lived in Bishop. I'd go home on weekends and sometimes I'd go home during the middle of the week. I had a place to stay there at Manzanar, after I got to be assistant director. There was a gal that was assistant director who had all the welfare--the schools and that kind of stuff--and then the hospitalization end of it, and then Ed Hooper who was the head of accounting and that kind of stuff, and I had charge of all of the, oh, agriculture, engineering, police, manufacturing, and that type of stuff. We were pretty self-sufficient. We raised practically all our own stuff there, raised all our own cows and raised all our own sheep and raised all our own pigs and raised all our own vegetables and had everything but a


94
canning plant. We dried and packed a lot of stuff. One year we got ambitious. We planted forty acres of tomatoes. My God, I never saw so many tomatoes in my life! I didn't know how much forty acres of tomatoes were. We had to ship them into Hunt's in Los Angeles and have them canned.


Hansen

You actually raised some produce for other camps, too, didn't you?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

Did you ever sell any of your produce in the towns?


Brown

We sold some of the tomatoes.


Hansen

In Lone Pine?


Brown

No, just to a cannery. No, we didn't sell any of it to the Owens Valley towns.


Hansen

I want to backtrack again to the time when the camp was just starting. What was your official capacity when you got hired?


Brown

I was what they called the reports officer. That's the public relations department.


Hansen

So you were there when the camp was still unbuilt?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

What was your responsibility as reports officer?


Brown

Just like a press officer, keeping the press informed. We used to have newspapermen by the droves coming in there. So then when they finally got the camp going, we all knew that there had to be some means of communication. So that's when I got the newspaper, the Manzanar Free Press, started. We did it first just on mimeographed sheets, so that we had daily communication going with the people, and that's why they hired this tremendous crew of kids. They just ran the damned newspaper. I didn't. We never did hire another reports man. When I got to be assistant director, Roy Takeno was then the editor, and Roy just ran the whole damned thing. He was the public relations man for fifteen bucks a month. (laughter) He was a graduate of USC, too. He was one of Roy French's boys and a very capable newspaperman. French was director of USC's school of journalism. Takeno later went to work for The Denver Post. Now he's head of the JACL [Japanese American Citizens League] in the Denver area; a very capable guy.


Hansen

Bill Hosokawa was with The Denver Post, too.


Brown

Yes, that's right.


Hansen

Who built the camp? To what extent were local people involved, just


95
as hired carpenters or painters or what have you?


Brown

I don't remember too many local people being involved in the actual building of the camp. The contractor came in to build it and I think he brought a big crew with him. He undoubtedly hired some local people, but there weren't too many craftsmen around at that time. We later hired a number of people in maintenance jobs. The guy that took care of all the electrical wires was a guy named Ralph Feil, who worked for the local telephone company. And the fellow that was in charge of all property was a man that used to work for the power company up there. We hired quite a few local people later. But I think in the building of it, as I remember . . . that was a hectic time. I was traveling between San Francisco and Reno and Los Angeles and Manzanar doing newspaper chores and getting other things set up so it would flow, you know, and I wasn't around there too much when they were just starting to build it. I was there at a time--you know, we had the first and the only voluntary exodus. A thousand Japanese made up their minds that they'd drive up there, and so they were escorted up by the Army. And these were the key people that really started the camp. We got doctors and we got nurses and we got cooks.


Hansen

Were they handpicked?


Brown

I think they were kind of picked and I think the WCCA boys did that out of the Pomona center and whatnot. But I know that all of a sudden here we got all these people up there. Actually it was just lucky that we had a place for them to bed down that night when they came in, and they were kind of the start of the crew that took over and ran things. Highly capable people. Dr. James Goto, for example, a doctor, was a real top specialist. He was really something.


Hansen

Is he still alive?


Brown

I think so. I think probably a guy like Togo Tanaka could tell you where he is.


Hansen

He was a heart surgeon, wasn't he?


Brown

I think so. I think that's what he is. He was a young man. God, he put that hospital together in nothing flat. And he did a hell of a job.


Hansen

Can you think of some of the other people who were prominent at the beginning?


Brown

Well, yes, Togo Tanaka was one of the guys who came up as a volunteer.


Hansen

I think he came a little bit later, actually.


Brown

Did he? I thought he came with that original thousand.


Hansen

No. One of the things he points out in a report he's written is that


96
there was a group of people in camp whom he calls "anti-JACL." The designation doesn't mean that they weren't in sympathy with the JACL's position vis-à-vis the war but that these individuals had some reservations about the JACL and tended to be even more progressive politically than the JACL people. Tanaka says that when he arrived, most of the positions in the camp were pretty well occupied, and that both he and Joe Masaoka got jobs as newspaper delivery boys for the Manzanar Free Press because the editorship of the Free Press and most of the positions in the camp had already been staffed. Later the JACL, partially through a camp group called the Manzanar Citizens Federation, managed to start taking over certain of the key positions in the camp.


Brown

Could have been, could have been. Togo wasn't there very long, you know. He went over with that group to Death Valley after the Manzanar Riot in December of 1942. And they got him out of there and sent him back to Chicago. Togo was there in Manzanar only four or five months.


Hansen

There's a man who worked for you that I'm somewhat interested in, a man by the name of David Itami. He served, I think, as your assistant for awhile with the Manzanar Free Press.


Brown

Well, Dave did all the translation for the Japanese section of the Manzanar Free Press. He ended up in the Army. He was in the conference with General MacArthur. He did all the translating for the Army for MacArthur.


Hansen

Is that right?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

He was the first one to leave Manzanar. He volunteered to go teach Japanese at a military language school, I think, even before the riot.


Brown

Dave was, oh, yes, Dave was a tremendous . . . he was a Kibei, which means he was born in the United States and educated in Japan. Yes, we found very soon after we started the newspaper that we had to have a Japanese section, and so I found Dave someplace somewhere, and he did all the calligraphy by hand. He would do all that scratching on a stencil and we'd mimeograph it. That went out to all the Issei who couldn't read English. Oh, Dave really went high up in the Army. Golly, I haven't thought of old Dave for so long, isn't that funny?


Hansen

Who were some of the administrators who came to the camp about the same time you did? You were reports officer. Can you recall some of the other people? Triggs was running the camp?


Brown

Clayton Triggs was running the camp. He's dead now. Did a hell of a job in the war afterwards, survived seven days in the Atlantic, in sub-zero weather in a lifeboat, that kind of stuff. Man! Oh, there was a guy named Kidwell. I forget his first name.



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Hansen

Was Ned Campbell assistant project director from the beginning?


Brown

No, Si Fryer sent him over when the WRA took over and Roy Nash came in as director.

I don't remember too many of the first staff members. I really don't remember. I was so damn busy keeping the press off our backs that I had a full-time job of that, you know. We used to have, oh, I remember sometimes we'd have a briefing every day of fifteen or twenty guys. They even came from England and Australia and everyplace else, because it was the first camp, you see.


Hansen

Right, right.


Brown

Oh, I got some help. I got some tremendous stories about some of those briefings!


Hansen

Why don't you save those stories for our next session?


Brown

That will be fine with me. This interviewing business can be really tiring.


Hansen

[February 20, 1974. Throughout this portion of the interview, Mr. Brown will read excerpts from the diary he kept during the year of 1942.] Mr. Brown, at the close of our last session we were discussing your arrival at Manzanar as reports officer in March, 1942. You were about to relate some of the events which occurred during those opening days of the camp. So, let's pick up the story at this point.


Brown

My notes are from a diary that I was keeping at that time. It shows that on Saturday, March 21, 1942, the first Japanese, or Japanese Americans, came into the camp. I think they started construction on the camp two or three weeks before that, so some of the buildings were built, but not very many. There were three busloads, and they contained, among other things, twenty-four girl stenographers and some kitchen help. We were very happy to have the twenty-four stenographers because we didn't have any help at all. And newspapermen from the Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Examiner came with them. My notes indicate that we seemed to handle everything very well and everybody had food, including, I suppose, the two newspapermen. I remember that Joe Winchester, who was in charge of all the food, kitchen preparations and whatnot, was driving around in sort of a van-like pickup truck, and he had enough food in the back of that to feed everybody for the first two or three weeks. In fact, the bread got so stale that, when we really started to feed it to the people in camp, we had to toast it; otherwise nobody could have eaten it.

Then on Monday, March 23, the caravan of 140 automobiles driven and owned by the Japanese was escorted, I suppose, by the military. And about twenty newsmen and newsreel people came with them. My notes show that a man named Lee--Bob Lee, I think--of the Los Angeles


98
Examiner and a freelance writer were the only people there looking for a yellow journalism angle. At that time, Clayton Triggs was the director of the camp under the WCCA. We were having a lot of problems as to how much the Japanese were going to get paid: that is, if they were going to get paid, or if they were to have money allowances so they could buy little items like toothbrushes and toothpaste, and that type of thing. And at that time, it seems to me, somebody suggested that they get paid what the Army privates got paid. Am I right? You probably know more about that than I do.


Hansen

Yes, but this suggestion was later spurned--for reasons both of a political and a public relations nature.


Brown

And in just discussing all this with the newspapermen, we said that's what they were going to get paid. So, Lee of the Los Angeles Examiner broke a story wherein the headlines came out, "Japs To Get As Much As Soldiers," which didn't do us any good, particularly in the camp.


Hansen

Now, was this when the camp was known as the Owens Valley Reception Center?


Brown

No. To my knowledge it was never known as the Owens Valley Reception Center. Manzanar was always a permanent camp. At first it was operated by the WCCA. But we were never going to make Manzanar like Pomona, for example, or Santa Anita, where they just temporarily put the people, and then sent them off to various camps. No, Manzanar was always intended to be a permanent camp right from the beginning.


Hansen

Where were you drawing your salary from while the camp was still under the aegis of the WCCA?


Brown

I forget whether it was from the Department of the Interior or whether it was from the Army. I think it was the Army, but I'm not sure. I don't think I say in my diary, either. I remember it took me two to three months to get a paycheck and I had to finally go over to San Francisco and get it. I think I went to the General Accounting Office-- the people who made out paychecks for all government employees--to find out where mine was.


Hansen

In any event, it was a GS [Government Service] rating that you had.


Brown

Yes, it was a GS rating. I was still, of course, part of the Inyo-Mono Association, and I was trying to resign and have somebody else take care of that. We didn't know whether to still keep plugging the beauties of the High Sierra so that the fishermen and skiers would come up there, or whether because of the Japanese program and the war, we should stop it. And I have a note here in the diary that we had a meeting of the Inyo-Mono Association on March 23 wherein they allowed me to resign and actually gave me one month's bonus pay.


Hansen

Did that terminate the organization?


Brown

I had a secretary, a young woman, and she stayed and carried it on for


99
two or three or four more months, and that stopped all that. That terminated the organization. On Tuesday, March 24, 1942, my notes show that I spent all morning with the newspaper people, and Clayton Triggs, who was the director, spoke for an hour. Then George Savage, the editor of the local newspaper, the Inyo Independent --I think they called it that then; it's the Inyo Register now--spoke. The paper was published by the Chalfant Press. At that time George Savage owned it. George Savage and I gave them a background of the country. I spent a great deal of time with Don Eddy of the American magazine and Larry Davies of the New York Times, both of whom were doing features on the whole Owens Valley country. A man named Lee McCirdle of the Baltimore Sun was also there and was fascinated with the country. Then Norris Harback, one of our local employees who we all knew, came in with a story by a man named Fred Ferguson. It was a story done for the NEA Service on me, saying that I was the guy that asked for the Japs for the whole Owens Valley. This turned out to be quite a controversial story--in many ways--for several weeks.


Hansen

So it appeared then?


Brown

Yes, it did appear. It was very poor publicity and it wasn't a help at all in the Owens Valley.


Hansen

Did that cause you a lot of personal grief?


Brown

That caused me quite a lot of personal grief with the local people. With all those newspapermen, I told the story of Inyo County, and the fight between the people and the city of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power, so many times that I was pretty worn out. I noted that in my diary on March 24, 1942.


Hansen

Do you recall any specific response to that story? Were you called into any meeting with the chamber of commerce in Lone Pine, or were you held accountable to the Inyo-Mono Association?


Brown

I don't think they had a chamber of commerce in Lone Pine at that time. The Inyo-Mono Association acted as the chamber of commerce for all the towns.


Hansen

They had a chamber of commerce of sorts, because one of the people, and I can't recall his name--you suggested that I interview him, and I subsequently did--but he's still there in the town, and I think he owned, at that time, a hardware store . . .


Brown

Oh, that's Jack Hopkins.


Hansen

Yes, Jack Hopkins. He informed me that he served for a while as the president of the chamber of commerce.


Brown

Even in those days?


Hansen

Yes.



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Brown

It could be. I don't remember. It's interesting to note that all this time the people of Mono County, which is north of Inyo County, sort of felt left out in this thing. They could see the fact that all these Japanese were going to move to the lower part of the Owens Valley and that businesses in Lone Pine and Independence were going to get some business from all these people. So the next day, on March 25, a delegation from Mono County came to visit with me and Ralph Merritt in Independence. This committee was led by Walter Evans, who at that time, I think, was Mono County district attorney. Later he was superior court judge in Mono County.


Hansen

Is Bishop in Inyo or Mono County?


Brown

Bishop is in Inyo County, and Bridgeport is in Mono County. This was a group of people led by the man who was the district attorney in Mono County. Mono County is just a little, tiny county even today. I think at that time, it might have had two thousand in the whole county. Bridgeport was the county seat, and has been for a long time. Walter said that a mass meeting of Mono County people the night before had authorized them to offer Mono County as a place to put Japanese and take the pressure off the West Coast, as well as Mono County. I suppose that they wanted the Japanese so that they'd have a little better economy in their county. And I make a note on March 25, "This is the first good break in a bad situation." The story on me had the people in Inyo County, which includes Bishop and Lone Pine, sort of thinking that I was the guy who brought in the Japanese. Then when the people from Mono County came down and said, "Well, we'll take some of them," this sort of helped. And I'm sure I got George Savage to get this on the front page of the next weekly edition of the Inyo Independent. By that time we began taking pictures for the press, and I went back to Manzanar--I kept going between Bishop and Manzanar--in the afternoon to take more pictures.


Hansen

I think you mentioned during our previous session that you were then living in Bishop. Is this correct?


Brown

Yes. I maintained my residence in Bishop, and although I lived at the camp quite a lot, I'd go home on weekends.


Hansen

You mentioned Clayton Triggs, Maybe before proceeding you could render a profile of him.


Brown

Clayt was quite a guy. He came from WPA [Works Projects Administration]. He had worked for the WPA, so he had run big camps. I suppose he had had camps in the woods at one time or he had had camps of people working on roads or this type of thing, so he knew camp administration.


Hansen

Was that as a civilian?


Brown

Yes, as a civilian. And a lot of the people that came to Manzanar to start with were fellows that he picked up from his WPA experience, and were people he knew. For example, Joe Winchester, who was in charge


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of all the mess halls . . .


Hansen

He was chief steward, right?


Brown

Yes, he was chief steward. Joe had worked for Clayt in a WPA camp someplace, and a man named Kidwell that Clayt brought in had been a social worker in a WPA situation. What a social worker in a WPA situation did, I haven't any idea, but that was his background. Another one of the staff came from the Red Cross and he subsequently went with the Red Cross after the WCCA days were over.


Hansen

Can you identify anybody from the Red Cross that was on the original staff, or that later joined the staff?


Brown

No, I can't right offhand. I think Kidwell was a Red Cross man, too.


Hansen

Was Lucy Adams, perhaps . . .


Brown

Lucy Adams didn't come until the WRA took over the camp. No, she was never with the Red Cross. Lucy had been with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for many years; that was her background. She came at the request of Si Fryer.


Hansen

And Mrs. D'Ille? I can't recall her first name. What about her background?


Brown

Lucy dug up Mrs. D'Ille. She came to us because, originally, she had been married to a missionary who had lived many years in Japan and China. I don't think Mrs. D'Ille spoke Japanese, but I'm pretty sure she spoke Chinese. She had a lot of experience. Her husband died early in their married life and she stayed on in China as a missionary, so she knew the Oriental phase of the thing. Besides that, she was a very good organizer and a very good social worker.


Hansen

Wasn't Lucy Adams in charge of community activities?


Brown

Lucy Adams was an assistant director in charge of what I think we called, in those days, community affairs. There was the director Ralph Merritt, and I was the assistant director in charge of the reports office. As an assistant director. I was also in charge of the agricultural department, and any industrial stuff--we had some factories. I was in charge of all the engineering people, the people that kept up the roads, and the people that kept the water and sewer systems going. In other words, I ran the physical part of the camp. Then there was Lucy, who was in charge of education and welfare and the hospitals. That was the division of labor. In addition to that, we had a project attorney.


Hansen

Was that Robert Throckmorton?


Brown

It was Bob Throckmorton to start with, yes. Then we had a man named Hooper, who was the accountant in charge of the budget, personnel, payroll, et cetera.



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Hansen

This was Ed Hooper, I guess.


Brown

Ed Hooper, yes. He's living in Sacramento now. That was the general setup of the administration.


Hansen

Let's get back to Triggs for just a moment; you were drawing a profile of him, so continue.


Brown

Well, Clayt was a doer. He'd make a decision right now. He'd have a problem, and one side of the problem would be presented and the other side of the problem would be presented, and Clayt would say, "Let's do this." That was one thing we always liked about him. You never had to worry about him making a decision. He'd make it right now. He was used to doing that because he was used to directing people and he was a very, very fine director.


Hansen

Did he hold an Army commission at the time? Was he a colonel or a . . .


Brown

No, he was a civilian, and I . . . that's a good question. Who did we work for? We worked for WCCA, and who was behind that?


Hansen

That's the Army, I think. The WCCA . . .


Brown

I think it was a civilian branch of General DeWitt's staff out of San Francisco. It was just a civilian group that was put together in a hurry.


Hansen

So then Triggs wasn't a military man?


Brown

He was not a military man, no.


Hansen

Was he well liked by the staff?


Brown

Yes, very much. We just hated to see him go. When WRA took over, and they sent in another director, Roy Nash, everybody was sick about it.

You were asking about the people. Oh, different kinds of people kept coming into camp all the time. Harry Brandeis of the London Sunday Times came in and wanted to do a feature on the camp and a man named French from Liberty magazine came. Milton Silverman was a man first hired by WRA. Milton Eisenhower, as you probably know, originally headed up the WRA in Washington, D.C., and Milton Silverman was one of the first people he hired. Milton had a long background of working with monthly magazines, and he came out with a photographer. My notes say that he was doing a job for the War Department, and how that tied in, I don't know.


Hansen

Was there, then, a conscious attempt to sell the relocation centers to the American public?


Brown

I think there was a conscious attempt to sell the way it was going


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and what we were doing with them, yes. I really think so. My notes show that George Savage, local editor-publisher, and I talked to Milt Silverman till about one o'clock in the morning, and the next day, on April 2, we were also with Silverman, and then I went back up to Bishop. Silverman covered Independence, Lone Pine, and Bishop, talking with everybody that he could so as to get the local people's reactions to all of this.


Hansen

Do you recall what the local reaction was?


Brown

I don't seem to say here in my diary.


Hansen

Do you recollect any hostile feelings?


Brown

I don't recollect any hostile feelings then. I've got some entries in here later on regarding the hostility that came up. About this time we were getting ready to get the Manzanar Free Press together. There was a man by the name of Benedict in the early days, hired by either Tom Clark or Karl Bendetson, in San Francisco. Benedict worked for a public relations firm. I've forgotten the name of it now, but it was a good public relations firm in those days; a very large one. Benedict was a public relations man rather than an advertising man.


Hansen

What's Benedict's first name, do you recall?


Brown

I forget his first name. I don't know what his first name was . . . oh, yes, Larry. Lawrence Benedict. He ended up sort of being the man I reported to, even though he was in San Francisco. I've got a note here that he called me and wanted me to meet him in Reno the next day. So the next day I went up to Reno and picked him up at the airport at 10:00. This was on April 6. See how much running around we had to do? I drove through a snowstorm both ways to get there. The local people were kind of worried about what was going to happen. Here are all these people living on sort of a reservation. And the district attorney of Inyo County--in those days, a man named George Francis, who is now a very famous judge here in southern California--he wanted to talk to someone in authority instead of me. So I brought Benedict down to talk to him. This is in Independence, the county seat of Inyo County. We talked to him about the legal status of the area, not the people. Francis said it had to be federal authority. Benedict asked him to prepare a statement on the legal moves necessary, and he did that. And as far as the county was concerned, he wanted to know about taxation, who would be responsible for police protection, and who would take care of the sewer and fire departments. That all then became a federal job, and that's where WRA came in. We set up the business of the police department and the fire department and that type of thing.


Hansen

Were the people of the Owens Valley afraid that they were going to have to handle that responsibility?


Brown

Yes. That was when the people in the valley thought that maybe we had


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just brought all these people in here, and had a small crew of local people working for the government. They wondered about who was going to protect them, who was going to keep order in the camp, and who was going to put the fires out and whatnot. I have another note in here that Charlie Brown, who was a state senator and a very famous guy in the desert area, came over and talked to us about fires. He was concerned with who was going to take care of the fire department and so on. On Thursday, April 7, Benedict was still there, and the supervisors of Inyo County passed a resolution stating that the federal authority must hold at the camp, and they also passed a resolution against letting any of the Japanese out of the camp. It seems that the supervisors and the local people were worried about the defense of the area. So, my notes here show that Benedict and I sent a wire to Tom Clark back in Washington asking him to help with this.


Hansen

Was there, by this time, a considerable Japanese American movement into the towns to buy supplies?


Brown

No, we never did let any of them out of the camp. In my memory, I don't think we let them out at all, at anytime. I know they did in some of the other camps--at Minidoka and at Tule Lake and some of the other places--but I don't think we ever let any of them go into Lone Pine or Independence. Oh, I remember we took a couple in one time for a wedding. We had them escorted in by the military police, but that was before we had some ministers at camp, so we had to go ahead and have the judge marry them. Anyway, at the end of Benedict's stay, which was April 8, he suggested that we get going immediately on a newspaper for the camp. We knew we had to have some kind of communication, and we'd set up the information offices. Now that I read that account that you gave me [Morris Opler, "A History of Internal Government at Manzanar March 1942 to December 6, 1942," U.S. War Relocation Archive, Relocation Center, Manzanar, California, Collection 122, Box 12, Folder 1, Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles Research Library], I remember setting up the information offices and having the information officers report for work. And there was a conflict when we set up the newspaper. The information guys said, "Well, what are we going to do?" We said, "Well, sorry, we're going to have to do it all with the newspaper." And I remember that Benedict himself suggested the name Manzanar Free Press sort of tongue-in-cheek, you know? And there was some problem of publishing a newspaper without getting permission from General DeWitt's office. Benedict said, "I don't want to ask, because I know the old general won't let us do a newspaper, so why don't you just print a newspaper anyway? And on the front page, in a little editorial, why don't you put a little article thanking the general for allowing you to do it or not, and that will make him feel good." So we did that. We put a little box and thanked General DeWitt for permission to print the paper, because it was such a necessary item. And I remember the old general was tickled to death; he said, "That's fine. That's fine. That's what they need to do over there; they have to have communication."


Hansen

I've seen that item in the course of my research, but now I understand the strategy behind it. I had taken it somewhat more literally at the


105
time I encountered it. At the end, it says, "Thank you, General."


Brown

Have you seen that? You've done more research on this stuff than I have. I went back and wrote the general history of the camp, after I left UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] in Washington, D.C., and came back to California. Do you have a copy of that? Have you seen the general history of Manzanar, the Final Report ?


Hansen

Yes, it's available in the Special Collections at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles]. That's where I read it.


Brown

I've got a copy, and I think it's out in the garage. We can look through it later.


Hansen

Who did you get to run that newspaper and how did you . . .


Brown

Well, that's kind of interesting. I say here--this is on Friday, April 10--now, remember at the time, the camp had only been open about a month, right?


Hansen

Well, you were actually hired on March 15, and the camp started on March 21.


Brown

Yes, March 21, well, this is April 10, so they're moving pretty fast. On April 10, 1942, I write, "Back in camp, I interviewed boys and girls for the newspaper, sending them out on assignments, and I had great enthusiastic responses. I inherited a boy named Joe Blamey."


Hansen

Now, he was a British Japanese, wasn't he?


Brown

Joe Blamey was half Irish, a quarter Japanese, and a quarter Spanish, I think. Blamey was his Irish name. On April 10, I also write, "The boy seems to sense the situation of factions, and appears to be getting all groups to participate. I got Miyo Kikuchi as a secretary." Miyo was a great gal. Still get Christmas cards from her. Miyo's father is a dentist. The last time I saw him was about four years ago, and he was in his late eighties, and he was still a dentist. They came all the way to Phoenix to see me. We were still down in Phoenix. Isn't that interesting?


Hansen

She lives down there now?


Brown

No, she lives in Los Angeles, and Dr. and Mrs. Kikuchi are in the Japanese section of Los Angeles, over in Boyle Heights. They traveled a great deal, and they were coming to Phoenix, and they knew I was there someplace. So they came over to the office and spent half an hour.

I note on April 10, "Sam Hohri appeared on the scene--another fine, intelligent boy. Again, I am finding myself agreeing with Glenn Frank on his theory of intelligence vs. ignorance." I don't remember what Glenn Frank said about that. "The copy was coming into the


106
paper, and fast. I told them this was their paper. Later, they would elect an editor, et cetera. At first, just the staff. Some excellent stuff was coming in. I called Benedict, stating that Bishop and Tecopa had been recommended for defense areas. Asked more dope on the other towns and suggested going to Bishop with this news."


Hansen

What does that mean, "defense areas"?


Brown

Oh, they were setting up defense areas where people couldn't go into town, so that meant that no Japanese could go into Bishop. And Tecopa was way out in the desert; I don't know where it was. They made that a defense area because the China Lake United States Naval Reserve, I think, was just starting down there.


Hansen

So nobody could go in there?


Brown

Nobody could go in there.

On first edition day, April 11, 1942, I write, "I left Bishop at 7:30 a.m. for camp. Stopped at Independence for suggestions on defense area and also talked to Ralph Merritt." Ralph was not the camp director at that time. He was still running a ranch right outside of Independence. That was before he went to Nevada. "Got into the business of putting out the paper. The boys had lined up copy all night. Joe Blamey said they had talked about it until 1 a.m. and Chiye . . ." She was a translator. She was a friend of Togo Tanaka's, too.


Hansen

Is this Chiye Mori?


Brown

Chiye Mori. Yes, she was quite a gal. She came to work on the staff. She was accepted . . .


Hansen

She became the editor, didn't she? Wasn't she your first editor for the Manzanar Free Press ?


Brown

I don't know; it'll say in here someplace. Continuing on April 11, I write, "She is accepted on the same level as men; here again is proof of Americanization of these people. Sam did a real job on our rumor editorial. Tom Hashimoto will make a good city desk man; he's a top-trained newspaper man. Staff meeting at 10 p.m., and they elected an editorial board. Everybody was enthused."


Hansen

Did you realize at the time that many of the people that affiliated themselves with the Manzanar Free Press were leftists, that several of them were Communists? They had taken very much of a pro-American position on the war, since they were very anxious to do everything possible to . . .


Brown

No, I never thought of them as being left-wing. I thought of them as being progressive. I suppose I was the same way at the time. Yes, they were pro-American, and they all were pitching in to get . . . they understood that you had to get information going back and forth,


107
you know. And most of them felt that this was a big chance to make a name for themselves. They'd been under the thumbs of their elders for so long and here they had a chance to run a newspaper, and they had a chance to say what they thought. But it never dawned on me that they were anything more than just progressives.


Hansen

Well, some of the people that you've been mentioning, like Chiye Mori and Joe Blamey, were actually somewhat ideologically different, from say, the JACL [Japanese American Citizens League] people like Togo Tanaka, Joe Masaoka, Fred Tayama, and people like that. There was quite a cleavage between the two groups, although they ideologically shared the same point of view with respect to the necessity of the camps and support for the war effort. Did you at all sense this division?


Brown

I don't remember. I might have been insensitive to it because I was working so hard, and I was so sold on these youngsters. They were a smart bunch of kids, really a very, very smart bunch of kids.


Hansen

So they were all just people working on a paper as far as you were concerned?


Brown

Yes, they were just working on a paper.

I write on April 11, "We put the paper to bed at 8:30, and it came off the press, which was a mimeograph, by 10:00. The Manzanar Free Press. " Here are some of my other comments, "This day made history: a newspaper in English by Japanese American citizens, placed in a concentration center by public opinion and the Army and directed by a Caucasian. I went home at midnight." Some of the things I tell about in my editorial lines [in the diary] are sort of interesting. I was reading through them the other day.


Hansen

Was there censorship of the paper's contents?


Brown

Not a bit; none whatsoever.


Hansen

Could the staff writers have been critical, say, of American policy or of camp policy?


Brown

Sure, they were. If they didn't like something, I said, "It's your paper, you edit it. You do whatever you want to do. If you don't like what's going on, say so." They asked me, "Do you mean it, Mr. Brown?" I told them, "Yes, I mean it." So they did. I guess there's a complete file of the Manzanar Free Press there at UCLA, isn't there?


Hansen

Yes. So you weren't afraid, then, that DeWitt, in light of his cautiousness about even the fact of having a paper, might have closed the whole operation down if the Manzanar Free Press journalists said something that was critical in nature.


Brown

No. The Army left us alone, after getting it set up and whatnot. They had guards, and they were not too bright. We had one good lieutenant, who was a commander. I remember that we had one who was


108
a stinker, and we got him out of there pretty soon by putting the pressure on. Hall, I think, is the man's name who was a good one. He was fine. No, they left us alone. Anyway, I say on April 15, "Left for Manzanar to get out the second issue of the Manzanar Free Press. The staff was growing. Joe Blamey, Tommy, and Chiye were developing into leaders."


Hansen

Tommy Yamazaki?


Brown

Tommy Hashimoto. He's the one I said would make a good city desk man, because he was a trained newspaperman. I think before the evacuation he worked on that Shimpo thing that you brought over.


Hansen

The Rafu Shimpo ?


Brown

Yes, I think so. On April 15, I say, "The Associated Press wants a story from inside. I've asked Tommy's wife to write it. I received a letter about the paper from a seventeen year old Japanese girl that was astounding for its perception." Anyway, that's how we got the newspaper started. And it was an instant success.


Hansen

Did you get any grumbles about the statement in the Manzanar Free Press thanking DeWitt?


Brown

No. Benedict called me back and said that the old man was tickled to death. So we did it right.


Hansen

But you didn't get any community response on that?


Brown

No. Well, actually, the paper never did get out into the community. We kept it right there in the camp. We kept to ourselves pretty much, after we felt that there was a feeling against us.


Hansen

I meant the Japanese American community in camp, the camp community. Did you get any response from the internees?


Brown

On the editorial?


Hansen

Yes. In the sense that, here they are, put into a camp and all of a sudden a statement appears thanking the government officials for carrying this out so efficiently?


Brown

Yes, I know. I don't remember.


Hansen

Did you have any restrictions as to who could be on the paper's staff? Did you just have citizens, let's say?


Brown

No.


Hansen

Why was it that most of the staffers were citizens?


Brown

Well, I suppose it was because they could write. And most of them had some kind of training, either on a high school newspaper or a


109
college newspaper or sometimes on a regular paper. I think that's why. When we started doing the translation of the Manzanar Free Press in Japanese, Dave Itami did that. Dave Itami was a Kibei who was pretty controversial even in the early days of the camp. But he went on to be a top guy in intelligence.


Hansen

Do you know why he was controversial?


Brown

Yes, because he was a Kibei.


Hansen

He was accused by a lot of those other people you've been mentioning--the leftists on the Manzanar Free Press --as being a pro-Fascist before he came to Manzanar. And there was a Communist newspaper named Doho, which Karl Yoneda and James Oda, among others, had worked for prior to the war. A contingent from Doho took an inspection tour of Manzanar during its first days, and the last issue of Doho reported their findings. One thing that disturbed them was that Roy Takeno and Dave Itami were heading up the information center. Both were criticized by Doho as pro-Japan because of their affiliation with the Kashu Mainichi, another venacular newspaper in Los Angeles. Everything else about the camp Doho seemed to approve of. Things seemed to be under control, but the one disturbing factor was that there was this vestige of pro-Japan sentiment. Now as it turned out, Itami was one of the first guys--in fact, I think--to volunteer to go off to Fort Savage to serve as an interpreter in the United States Army. But you say that he was controversial from the beginning, right?


Brown

Yes, he was controversial. I'd forgotten those points of the issue. Actually, I'm trying to remember, but we didn't pay any attention to the ideological phases of the Japanese. There were so many different factions, and we had a job to do and my job at the moment was to keep everybody happy in the Owens Valley and get a newspaper out, and to get some communication going inside the camp. I suppose we had a lot of discussions about it, and all through this diary you'll probably find . . . and you'll probably find more of it in my final report because I had time to . . .


Hansen

Be a historian?


Brown

Yes, to be a historian. It's very interesting. Well, I think that's how we got the paper going, and it went very well. What else do you want to know now?


Hansen

In the camp, when did you first start to sense--maybe it was from the beginning--that there was some hostility, some sort of organization forming among internees which resisted both the very existence of the camp and the direction in which it was being run--when resistance started to coalesce around a number of grievances, of one sort or another? Do you recall early problems with either pro-Japan sentiment or just plain dissidence, or resistance, or anything of that sort? I know, for instance, that by the summer of 1942 there were threats against and attempted beatings of some of the people working with the Manzanar Free Press.



110
Brown

I honestly don't remember this, Art.

Well, we had all kinds of people coming in there. I went to Los Angeles on May 26, and made a speech to Sigma Delta Chi. Sigma Delta Chi is the journalism fraternity for working journalists. On May 26, 1942, I write, "Spoke to Sigma Delta Chi and Institute of Journalists. There were 125 people present, including Norman Chandler, Lee Shipley, and others. Flannery of CBS, who was the ex-Berlin representative of CBS spoke also." I was always going off, making speeches about Manzanar, telling about what we were doing, and that kind of stuff.


Hansen

You were gone, then, from the camp quite a bit?


Brown

Yes, in checking this diary, I'd be in camp for two or three days and then I'd be out making speeches. I'd either be making speeches in Bishop, Independence, and Lone Pine to their Rotary clubs and those kind of organizations, or I was going to Los Angeles, speaking to people. It was quite an interesting deal.


Hansen

Were you encountering much hostility? Were you finding outside that a lot of people were greatly disturbed as to what was going on inside the camp?


Brown

No, I never did feel that people were disturbed. I didn't feel any hostility in the audiences. I remember one time I went to San Bernardino, and I spoke to a great big bunch of people. I forget who they were, maybe a chamber of commerce group or something. They were more interested in what was going on and they asked a lot of interesting questions. Another time I remember I spoke at the prison camp at Chino to a great big gathering of people from Ontario, Pomona, and everyplace else. I don't know what group was behind it.


Hansen

Were the prisoners also in the audience?


Brown

No, they were just waiting on tables and that kind of stuff. I got a lot of interesting questions from that group, too. The time I spoke to the Sigma Delta Chi people, the only guy that was kind of bitter about it was Ed Ainsworth. His name probably doesn't mean anything to you, but Ed Ainsworth was the top columnist of the Los Angeles Times back in those days, and he has since written several books. I saw Ed eight or nine years ago out at Death Valley, and he was still kind of bitter about the whole thing. He said, "Yes, I remember you; you're the guy who worked in that damned Jap camp."


Hansen

You said that there were interesting questions; exactly what kind of interesting questions?


Brown

Oh, they would ask, "What about the Japanese, what are their attitudes and what do they think about being put in a camp? Do they think it's helpful for them or harmful? How do you control them? What do you do about your internal police?"



111
Hansen

Those were kind of sticky questions to have to answer, weren't they?


Brown

No, not really.


Hansen

At the time, how were you feeling about your own involvement in the camp?


Brown

Oh, I was tickled to death; I thought it was the best job I ever had. I was really enthused about it.

Frank J. Taylor of the Reader's Digest came into camp. Frank and I got to be real close friends. He was going to do a big story on the camp for the Reader's Digest ; but I don't think he ever did it. What we were trying to do was tell the general public how the camps were working and tie it in with publicity for Inyo County. I made this note on May 30, 1942, "Frank Taylor and Mrs. Taylor arrived about 2 p.m. Frank had a go-ahead signal from Reader's Digest to do a story on Father Crowley and Owens Valley and the Japanese. This is the break we've been waiting for."


Hansen

You wanted to get a little national publicity?


Brown

Yes, we wanted to get national publicity on it. Everybody, including Dillon Myer, the WRA director, wanted all the good national publicity we could get.


Hansen

Did there, after a while, set in on the administrative staff, in any sense, a reluctance to be identified with the camp? Were there any internal discussions that you recall within the camp wherein certain staff personnel found that they could no longer in good conscience affiliate themselves with the camp, that it was too illiberal in its tendencies, or in its thrust?


Brown

Felt it was what?


Hansen

Illiberal. Were there discussions, informal or formal, among you and other people on the staff as to perhaps the soundness of the internment policy?


Brown

Oh. After Ralph Merritt arrived at Manzanar, in November of 1942, there was no feeling that this wasn't being done right. Up to the time he got there, I think we were divided amongst ourselves--that is, the Caucasian personnel--about whether the camp was being run right or whether the right stories were coming up.


Hansen

This wasn't quite so true during Clayton Triggs' administration?


Brown

Oh, no. Triggs was fine. But after Roy Nash got there, and during the stints of the two acting directors, we kind of came apart.


Hansen

Let's talk a little bit about Roy Nash.


Brown

I have this note on June 1, 1942, "Morale at the camp was very low.


112
None of the administrative staff knows where he is going. It's all confusion."


Hansen

Can you recall what the confusion was at that point?


Brown

Yes, we didn't like the way Roy Nash was running the thing, and . . .


Hansen

He wasn't there yet, was he?


Brown

Yes, Roy Nash came in right after Clayt Triggs.


Hansen

I thought he came in on June 1, when the WRA took over.


Brown

Here, on May 13, 1942 I write, "Triggs came in saying that the WRA was taking over immediately. Roy Nash, from the Indian Service, was to be the new man. Triggs feels very bad. Says this is the first job he's had where he really wanted to stay. We knew this was coming, however. Triggs said Eisenhower asked for him, but Nicholson wanted him for other work." He was working for a guy named Rex Nicholson who had something to do in the early days with the WPA. "Held a staff meeting and told the bad news. Harry Black and Flugstad are going also." Harry Black was the assistant. "Any maybe Kidwell is going to go."


Hansen

Were those staff members popular in the camp?


Brown

Yes. Kidwell was a nice guy. Harry Black was a very fine administrator. We had a good staff, compared with . . . So Roy Nash came in. "Roy Nash arrived in Lone Pine this evening," I note on May 14, 1942.


Hansen

I guess the WRA took over officially on June 1. Nash probably came early to get acquainted with his duties.


Brown

Yes, he came early.


Hansen

What was your immediate reaction to Nash upon meeting him?


Brown

Oh, he was a little guy, and he was quite pompous. He didn't discuss things; he gave orders. I didn't like him at all, but I got along with him.


Hansen

What do you think his strong points were, as an administrator?


Brown

Well, I say here on May 16, 1942, "Nash seems to have the idea of doing something for the lasting good of the community. He says he will ride over the [Inyo County] Supervisors if necessary. He wants to give the Japanese a better break than they have ever had."


Hansen

So he was advertising himself as a humanist?


Brown

Yes.


Hansen

Did you think that was deceptive, as it turned out? Or did you feel


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that he did, in fact, live up to that reputation?


Brown

No, he didn't do a damned thing. He just didn't do a thing.


Hansen

Who was shouldering most of the responsibility when Nash took over, if he wasn't doing a thing? Who was the assistant project director under Nash?


Brown

Well, there wasn't an assistant director. When Nash came in, both Harry Black and Triggs left, and then Si Fryer sent Ned Campbell over. I forget when Campbell arrived. It's in here somewhere. Hicks, a guy named Hicks was Nash's assistant to start with.


Hansen

Do you recall him?


Brown

Not very well. He was only there about two or three weeks. He got into trouble with a beautiful Japanese secretary.


Hansen

So that was the end of Hicks. Then about how old was Nash at the time?


Brown

Nash? It seems to me that he was in his forties. I was in my thirties and he was in his forties.


Hansen

Was he married?


Brown

No. Oh, I don't know. I guess he was; his wife was back East someplace.


Hansen

What was his background, do you remember?


Brown

He was an Indian Services man. He'd been a superintendent for one of the reservations someplace.

On May 24, 1942, I note, "Nash made a speech to the American Legion in Bishop. It seemed to kick back. People thought there was too much freedom for the Japanese. Evidently, faulty thinking on the whole subject."


Hansen

So Nash upset the Owens Valley community a little bit? Did you feel he was being a little too sensationalistic?


Brown

Yes, he was going to turn the Japanese loose.

"I was stopped this morning," I write on May 25, 1942, "by several people in Bishop protesting about the freedom to be given the Japanese on account of Nash's speech."


Hansen

When you went home to Bishop on the weekend?


Brown

Yes. Phil Sinnot was working for the Army. He was an old friend of mine and George Savage, and was kind of in charge of gathering information on all the centers. Then the WRA hired Ed Bates as public relations director out of San Francisco public relations. He came


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over and he said that I was to be the assistant in charge of project reports. Then he added an old gag that I was not going to qualify for civil service.


Hansen

Well, what were you before that?


Brown

I was just sort of working for the WCCA as a public relations man. I don't know; I didn't have any title.


Hansen

So you didn't become Manzanar's reports officer until the WRA took over the camp.


Brown

No. On June 3, 1942, I write, "A fellow from the WRA by the name of Dean came in to do a report, and he said some of the old reports that we had done were too emotional. So I told him I'd help on a factual one, but not another one." And I underline this: "I got my appointment today by phone, via Nash." So I was appointed reports officer on June 3.

Here's something interesting from June 5, 1942, "Hicks and Kidwell and the others have told the Japanese to take their troubles to me, and this is happening. George Akahori and Oko came over, both with troubles. No one seems to trust the new administration. I had a long talk with Oko about Tanaka and the Japanese American Citizens League. She tells me that these boys were out to run a racket on the older Japanese before the evacuation order and that they helped put the finger on older aliens to get their business. Told of a fifty dollar `fee' deal for filling out travel orders for the older men who could not write English."


Hansen

Who told you that?


Brown

Oko Murata was her name. She was the secretary to the doctor in the hospital.


Hansen

So she was a Nisei, too?


Brown

She was a Nisei. I saw some of this in the report that you had me read, so this fills it in. On May 5, 1942 I also write, "She said she got mad and did it for nothing, thereby incurring the enmity of this group. She does not know about Tokie Slocum and where he stands." I wonder who Tokie Slocum was?


Hansen

Well, Tokie Slocum was the self-styled patriot of the camp. He was, in effect, orphaned, and he was brought up by a family in Minot, North Dakota, and he got his citizenship by dint of his service in World War I.


Brown

Oh, yes, I remember him.


Hansen

And he helped to secure citizenship for all WWI vets of Oriental ancestry, because the government had taken it away after initially


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granting it to them. He helped to restore citizenship for all those Asian American aliens who had fought in World War I. He had been affiliated during the evacuation crisis with the Anti-Axis League of the Los Angeles JACL. He was perhaps the number one "devil" in the minds of the Issei, because he was the one who was accused of fingering all these people, of turning their names into the FBI, et cetera. He is the one who is usually associated with selling names to the authorities for set fees. When he came into the camp, he was unpopular virtually with all the evacuee elements. Togo Tanaka has suggested that although he agreed with Slocum's position, he didn't agree with his style at all. He was very contentious, and it alienated a lot of people, including Tanaka. In fact, he got along so poorly that he was one of the people they had to pull out of the camp after the riot. But they couldn't even send him to Death Valley with the rest of the "pro-American group" because he didn't get along with the other people they were going to send there. So, he had to be sent alone to New Mexico.


Brown

Oh, there were a lot of politics going on inside the camp at that time.

I see here in my diary that I was finally invited to go to the staff meetings.


Hansen

As reports officer? And this was when, in June?


Brown

June 8, 1942.


Hansen

Did you feel more "inside" as a result of this?


Brown

Yes, I suppose I felt more inside. I didn't say anything about it here. Here's an editorial comment I wrote on June 9, 1942, "I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a certain Japanese element, perhaps the majority, who will do everything possible to make this movement a failure, hoping thereby to gain sympathy or at least legal status at the end of the war. They know that they must be clever in their activities, but must hamper the administration and at the same time not work a hardship on their own people. For this reason, we must have englightened leadership in the camp management through the whole program. We must get the best men available, no matter what the cost. We can't treat these people as if they were Indians or Negroes. I do not frankly believe that [Milton] Eisenhower or anyone else in the present top setup understands the scope of the problem as things stand. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't believe I am."


Hansen

So at this point, you were thinking that it might possibly even be a majority of the internees who were taking a pro-Japan position?


Brown

Yes. That changed, of course. It all changed after Ralph Merritt got there.


Hansen

You alluded to politicking going on in camp. Of what sort?



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Brown

Well, between the staff . . . nobody liked Nash and everybody was trying to see how they could get him out of there.


Hansen

Who was the staff leadership coalescing around, then? What were the factions within the administration? Can you think of a close circle around Roy Nash, for instance, that tended to support his position?


Brown

On June 3, 1942, I note, "It finally dawned on me that maybe the insidious propaganda of some is taking place. Some Japanese might well be sitting back, laughing about this confusion of the white people, and we must stop this."


Hansen

This is entered in your diary for what day?


Brown

June 3.


Hansen

And that other entry was on June 8, wasn't it?


Brown

Yes, June 8. Isn't that something? So evidently we were having quite a few little problems inside our . . . I think the administrative people were thinking at that time that we could take these people, these Japanese, and do something in the county to aid the county--build trails, or help on the roads, or this type of thing. And all this labor could be put to work, and nobody was doing anything about it.


Hansen

There was internee resistance to working, then?


Brown

I don't think there was any resistance from the people in the camp; they would've liked to have done it. But there was resistance on the outside to letting them out. That was the resistance on the thing.


Hansen

So some around the community benefited economically, but they didn't want to benefit if it involved having internees go outside the camp.


Brown

Yes, that's right.


Hansen

Have you run across anything in your diary yet on the administrative factions?


Brown

Well, just this; it has to do with people in government, I suppose you'd say today. I have a note from June 7, 1942, that Hicks, who was the assistant director, ". . . got back in the evening with as pretty a tale of knifing in the back by Ed Bates as you would want to hear. It's all tied up with politics and old deals in Washington, when Hicks got Bates thrown out of the Senate press gallery. Hicks came out on top in this round, but it shows that there is some pretty bad political messing around here." Ed Bates was head information officer in the San Francisco office of WRA.


Hansen

That was when?


Brown

This was June 7. This shows . . . it's still going on today. It's


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no different. I was a young man, and I was learning a lot about infighting in the political administrative jobs.

On Monday, June 15, 1942, I write, "Went to Manzanar early. All morning taken up by the Japanese. Dave Itami was very worried about conditions. Says the pay has lots to do with it. He suggested today one wage scale of fifteen dollars, to do away with class distinctions which the other scale is causing." Evidently some internees got fifteen and some got seventeen, I think.


Hansen

And some got twelve?


Brown

Yes, some got twelve. "I suggested that this come from the Japanese."

I also say here, "Ned Campbell is back." I don't remember when Ned Campbell came to start with, but he evidently went back to San Francisco and then came back. On June 15, 1942, I also write, "He is a bull in a china closet, but a hard worker. We discussed problems until past midnight. Ned wants to throw the whole responsibility of camp on the Japanese. I told him I didn't think it would work, as they couldn't get along with themselves and would not accept responsibility. I feel there is a conflict in the philosophy of running the camp, and there can only be one boss. That boss has to be a Caucasian, not a Japanese, and then a second man, who is white. Often, a Japanese will skirt another Japanese to get to the white man. Perhaps I'm wrong. I don't know. I think if it fails under Japanese policy makers, the public will blame us for giving them so much authority. I could be wrong here, too. Let's wait and see." So it shows how our minds were working back and forth there. We were fighting with a problem that nobody had had, up to that time.


Hansen

So Campbell was suggesting that perhaps you turn the responsibility of camp management over to the Japanese?


Brown

Yes, turn it over to the Japanese and let them run it.


Hansen

Nash was moving in this direction in any case, wasn't he?


Brown

Yes, he was kind of moving in that direction.

On June 18, 1942, I note, "Went to camp for breakfast. Block leaders will reorganize. My information boys will scatter through the camp with these men. Question of who is to be boss--the block leaders or Dave Itami." That's right. I remember. Dave was head of the whole thing, wasn't he?


Hansen

The Information Office?


Brown

Yes. On June 18, I also write, "My boys are skeptical of it working. They feel they have done a good job and why change? They want a reelection of leaders. Feel it is a political deal." Here again is demonstrated the Japanese suspicion of each other. "I had a talk with Togo and Joe." Whether that's Joe Blamey or Joe . . .



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Hansen

Masaoka.


Brown

Masaoka, probably. Also on June 18, "Told them to quit knifing in the back and do some constructive suggesting. Hit at the taxpayer and offer to take care of themselves if the United States will give them some land. Togo said the boys were going to tell me they were through hitting at me. I think we understand each other."


Hansen

What were they doing when you say they were "hitting at you"?


Brown

Oh, I don't know. I forget; it wasn't important. Continuing on June 18, I write "Togo's talents could be turned to constructive efforts. He could be a real leader. He needs to be less for Togo and more for other people. It might be impossible, but we'll try it. I'll work on him in that way."


Hansen

You don't recall anything in connection with Tanaka that stands out?


Brown

No.


Hansen

He indicated in his interview that he had had problems with you but he didn't spell them out. He said that there was some tension. I suppose it came from the fact that he came late to camp and he ended up working as a paperboy with Masaoka on the Manzanar Free Press. And here he had been an editor for the Rafu Shimpo, the biggest vernacular newspaper in Little Tokyo. I suppose he felt tension because of this.


Brown

Yes, he was probably let down a little bit, though I don't remember the "paperboy" incident specifically.


Hansen

So eventually, he got a job as a documentary historian along with Masaoka, and I suppose they went around the camp and they wrote up reports as to what was going on within the camp. And that, of course, made him pretty visible; it gave him a rather high profile, which got him into quite a bit of trouble with other internees.


Brown

I gave Togo and Masaoka the documentary historian jobs, which they did well, in my estimation. Yes, Togo was a real smart guy. But we always got along, I always thought. Maybe he thinks differently.

The trouble at camp really didn't straighten out until Ralph Merritt got there. At one point--I've got it in my notes--he said if I'd take on the Japanese, he'd take on the staff, and we'd see if we could get it straightened out. So, I took on the Japanese and he took on the staff, and we got it straightened out. After the riot, well, the camp ran real smoothly from that time on.


Hansen

What about the riot itself? Maybe we could get into it a little bit. Do you feel up to it?


Brown

Yes, sure.


Hansen

Let's deal briefly with the long-range problems before we focus on the


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immediate problems. There were apparently a lot of beatings, and there was also a lot of unchecked gang activity in Manzanar during the months preceding the so-called eruption on December 6, 1942. Recalling your perspective, from where you were sitting at the time, what kinds of discontents did you see starting to arise? You've looked at this report ["A History of Internal Government at Manzanar, March 1942 to December 6, 1942"] by Morris Opler, the Manzanar community analyst, and he indicates a number of things going on within community government with respect to rumors concerning misappropriation of certain internee food supplies, et cetera. What about some of these things? Did you feel something was going haywire in the camp?


Brown

I never had a feeling that anything was going haywire. I think I'll have to read this report again to see how . . . because I see I'm at the opposite end of the deal with the Opler report about Harry Ueno and the Kitchen Workers Union. He seems to give a great deal of credence to the fact that Harry Ueno got it started because he was accusing people of stealing sugar and selling it outside on the black market, and I say it never happened.


Hansen

Did you know Harry Ueno?


Brown

Oh, only just to see him; I don't think I ever talked to him at all.


Hansen

Did he ever emerge in your mind, prior to the riot, as either a troublemaker or as a dissident leader?


Brown

No.


Hansen

So he was a virtual unknown to you?


Brown

He was just a cook as far as I was concerned.


Hansen

Did most people in the camp think of Ueno in this way?


Brown

I would think so. I didn't think . . . he might have had a following amongst the cooks and maybe in his own block--that type of thing--but he was just another cook.


Hansen

So in no sense was he a person who stood out as either a betê noire or as any kind of . . .


Brown

No, he was never a leader of any kind, to my recollection.


Hansen

What about the Kitchen Workers Union itself? Was that identified in the administration's mind as a potentially troublesome group?


Brown

I think at the time we thought, "Well, here we've got a bunch of cooks and if they want to go on strike we're in trouble because somebody's got to feed these people. What are we going to do if all the cooks quit?" And so you've got a real problem there, just a physical problem of feeding people. And I think we were taking maybe some of the things that Ueno was saying, listening to them and saying, "Oh, we've got to


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do something about this character." I think that's why Ned Campbell had him thrown in jail in the first place.


Hansen

Maybe we ought to discuss Campbell for a second. Now, he was a very controversial figure. He's usually pointed to by almost all people involved in the episode, from whatever point of view, as a person who made enemies. You alluded to him earlier in your diary as a "bull in a china closet." What was Ned Campbell's background. What, in general, was his political style?


Brown

He was a Texan; that's why he learned to speak Spanish, because he was born close to the border. I think he went to work probably for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and I think he'd been with them a long time. He ended up on a Navajo reservation with Si Fryer, as one of Si's assistants, when Si was the superintendent of the Navajos.


Hansen

Had you known Campbell before Manzanar?


Brown

No.


Hansen

What was your impression of him?


Brown

Oh, personally, I liked him very much. He was quite a guy, but he didn't think. And he was, as I say, a bull in a china closet. He'd go off and do this and do that, and make decisions that somebody that was thinking a little bit more would shudder at.


Hansen

Do you think he had an authoritarian personality?


Brown

Yes, very.


Hansen

Could you tell that he was widely disliked by the Japanese?


Brown

I think I say so in my diary here someplace. Yes, I think that, as a whole, he made a lot of bad mistakes in the administration of the camp, and I think he would admit it now that he's older. He was trying to do a job, and we were all trying to do a job, and he'd make a decision, and that's what it was going to be, and nobody could change his mind.


Hansen

Even other members of the staff?


Brown

Yes, even other members of the staff. He and I used to sit up until almost midnight every night and talk about what was going on and where we could change it and how we could make it better, and whatnot.


Hansen

You say in your final report that the accusation that was leveled against Ned Campbell and Joe Winchester as to misappropriating certain supplies--sugar namely, but also meat and things--was totally groundless?


Brown

I say it in the report, and I think I say it in my diary here, too, that it's absolutely groundless. Who would steal sugar and meat and


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try to sell it on the outside? That's silly. They had the same trouble at Tule Lake, and they actually caught some people in the warehouse department who were stealing meat and selling it on the outside.


Hansen

Hired personnel?


Brown

Yes, hired Caucasian personnel. So, maybe that story got switched down to Manzanar. I imagine if you'd read Dillon Myer's book, Uprooted Americans, which I haven't read yet myself, you'd find that this was probably true in all the camps. You have a shortage of stuff and here was a great big camp and truckloads of stuff coming in, and who is to know whether the people in the warehouse would slide some of it out and try to pick up a buck on the side, you know?


Hansen

They did discover that there was a sugar shortage at Manzanar, but as to how this came about, well, that was the thing that was left in the air.


Brown

Did we discover that?


Hansen

There was a shortage of some nature, but whether it was in the warehouse where it happened or whether it was someplace else is still unfounded.


Brown

Somebody was slipping something out someplace? It could be.


Hansen

But you would be willing, more or less, to attest to the fact that Campbell or Winchester had nothing to do with it?


Brown

Yes, neither one of them.


Hansen

Why do you think the story achieved currency among the internees, and why would a guy like Ueno be believed? You do think people in the camp believed it, and that, as a rumor, it had some credibility?


Brown

Yes, I think so, probably, reflecting on it after these years. I don't know how. I think I would have noted it in my diary at the time, however.


Hansen

Do you think there was any concerted pro-Japan movement within the camp?


Brown

No, I never did feel that there was any concerted pro-Japan movement within the camp, never. I might have been isolated by the kids I had working on the newspaper, and the people that were around me: the girls in the office, the block leaders, the guy we finally made "mayor"--he was an old Issei; Amzi was his name.


Hansen

You felt, then, that you might have been isolated maybe from what was going on in the population at large, so you couldn't account for, say, the people who were in the Kitchen Workers Union; they wouldn't have been people you were in contact with within the camp?



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Brown

No, I wasn't in contact with that group; I didn't know a damned thing about them. The food and mess department was in Lucy Adams' division.


Hansen

Well, did you get feedback which led you to believe that there might have been trouble? For instance, weren't there organizations springing up, such as Blood Brothers of Southern California and the Black Dragon Society?


Brown

Yes, Blood Brothers and Black Dragon, that's in my diary someplace, too.


Hansen

Do you think these were symbolic groups, or do you think they were actual? Do you think there were members?


Brown

Yes, I think maybe there were ten or twelve guys who had taken on writing some of those messages that cropped up throughout camp.


Hansen

Could you identify anybody with them?


Brown

No.


Hansen

What about Joe Kurihara? He was a celebrated pro-Japan spokesman.


Brown

Is he celebrated all through this thing?


Hansen

Yes. Karl Yoneda, for instance, who was very pro-American and identified with a group that was supportive of the administration, in several instances had his life threatened and his child's life threatened. He says, in talking about the Manzanar Black Dragons, that: "this group was organized by Joe Kurihara, Ben Kishi, Harry Ueno, John Umemoto, several Judoists of Seigo Murakami group, and others. Most of them were Kibei and belonged to a salvage crew except Kurihara, Nisei, who was a foreman of field carpenters, and Harry Ueno, Kibei, cook of Block 4 kitchen. Every day, they drove all over the camp in a salvage truck with a Black Dragon banner, throwing rocks at those who worked on the camouflage net project, trying to run over those whom they considered pro-American--they tried this on Tokie Slocum and me several times--threatening to put those who opposed them on `death list,' shouting slogans such as `Don't be Korean dogs! by working on the camouflage nets,' `Japanese Imperial Army will free us.' etc., and posting `pro-Japan' handbills. They raided our `apartment,' --10 coming inside and 14 on the outside--intimating that my mother in Hiroshima would face dire consequences and I would be machine-gunned along with other `pro-Americans' unless I retracted my criticism of the Black Dragons which I had made at the Block Leaders Council meeting. Their so-called protest against injustice turned into hooliganism of distorted resistance, while the administration took a `no-see' attitude." This is what he has to say. What do you feel about that last accusation, that this was going on while the administration looked the other way?


Brown

This sounds like Karl's imagination, in my estimation. I think Karl let his imagination go "full force." We--the administration--did not take a "no-see" attitude. The garbage crew was a bunch of rough-tough


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Kibei who had the hardest job in camp--but the garbage has to be picked up! So, let `em blow off steam!

What's that from, that you're reading?


Hansen

This appeared in the June 8, 1972 issue of the Nichibei, a vernacular newspaper published in New York, where Yoneda reviews the book Concentration Camps USA, by Roger Daniels, and in it he corrects some of the errors and oversights that he believes Daniels makes in his book. That's what he had to say in that particular section. But you say that the administration did not take a "no-see" attitude while this was going on?


Brown

We "saw"--but at that time I don't think we had any solution.


Hansen

Here's another thing that Karl Yoneda wrote. It appeared in his Manzanar diary, which he is preparing for publication; maybe you could correlate it with yours for June 27, 1942. "1:30 p.m. camp meeting called by administration of Block 1 kitchen. 200 present. Director Nash and Assistant Director Ned Campbell spoke on importance of camouflage net project. During the question period I ask, `What do you intend to do about the small group threatening those working on nets?' Campbell replied with an authoritative gesture. `In this camp you are all Japanese, no difference among Nisei, Kibei, and Issei. We all work together.' " Then Yoneda writes in parentheses, "This from a former administrator in the Bureau of Indian Affairs!" (Brown laughs)


Brown

This sounds like Campbell all right. But the "net program" was a mistake from the start. This was an Army directive, not something devised by the WRA.


Hansen

Yoneda puts in another thing on July 22: "Very hot, 114 degrees. While Tokie Slocum, World War I vet, and I were talking in front of Block 4 office, a Black Dragon truck suddenly charged us at full speed. We managed to jump onto top step. Truck bus lowers step and speeds away. I report this to the council meeting. Joe Kurihara of Block 28 retorts, `I don't want to do any favor for U.S. government and that will include Yoneda, Slocum, and rest of that bunch. I am a full-blooded Jap now and nobody will change me.' " In any case, the portrait which is being drawn is more or less that the camp was experiencing some real tension. Now, was the administration apprised of this, or was Ned Campbell responsible for handling most of this and perhaps being somewhat insensitive to what was going on?


Brown

Well, on December 4, 1942, I have this to say in my diary: "Campbell is becoming more and more hard to handle, in that he doesn't think things through. His conclusions in many things are correct, but his methods of arriving at those conclusions are faulty. He won't listen. He interjects irrelevant things. He has poor judgment--a snap judgment. On top of it, he is such a nice guy and he wants to do the right thing; it's too bad."



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Hansen

So it was again a question of just Campbell's style.


Brown

Yes, I think it was a question of style. Looking back on it with just general impressions, it took us probably six months to settle down and get to know everybody, to have lines of communication working, and to let those people who were considered Japanese instead of Americans run their course in the groups that they would get together, like the Black Dragon Society. I think, from the administrative standpoint, that we didn't pay too much attention to it. We said, "Oh, let these guys be, they'll settle down by themselves. As long as we've got the Army outside the gate to keep it going . . . So we've got a good, hard-core group of young fellows here that are trying to see it the way we want to see it and get it going. The newspaper's running real well, and the hospital and the schools are going good. The kids are being taken care of, and everybody's being fed, so let them settle down and one of these days they'll see the light of day." And that all culminated, of course, in the riot. I think the riot had a leveling effect on everybody. Everybody started to think, "Hell, we can't have this going on, so what are we going to do to straighten it out?" That's when some of the older men in the camp, the Issei, came to the forefront and began to be real leaders, rather than just block leaders who swept up and saw that everybody got their baths and that kind of stuff. At first they didn't have very much to do, but then they began to be leaders of sentiment, and of politics.


Hansen

What do you think about the theory that, during the time following Pearl Harbor--the preevacuation and evacuation itself--what happened was that the natural leadership of the Japanese American community was dumped, and that what occurred at places like Manzanar was that the administration instituted an artificial Nisei leadership, so that most of the old Issei, who had been in positions of responsibility, harbored a lot of resentment because they had been disgraced?


Brown

I think that was true. I think that after the riot, then the older men, or let's say the more mature thinking men, came to the forefront, so that you had a better leadership in the deal.


Hansen

Did you find that the camp worked smoother when you did resort back to the more established leadership within the community, as opposed to working with the younger and newer JACL types?


Brown

Yes, I would think so. This diary quits at the end of the riot, so I can't document this assertion for you.

I had that wrong when I told you before that Ralph Merritt said to me, "You take on the Japanese, and I'll take on the Caucasians." Here's a note from December 26, 1942, "Ralph has given me the job of straightening out the Caucasian personnel and administrative headaches while he takes on the Japanese." It's just the opposite from what I said earlier.


Hansen

What do you think caused the riot? I mean, here you have a situation where you've got maybe three thousand people, all gathered together,


125
concerned about the incarceration outside of camp in a local jail of a relatively anonymous kitchen worker, a union head. Now what do you think accounts for this outpouring of support for Harry Ueno? I mean, why were the people rallying around Ueno at this time, making him in a sense a cultural hero? He was a virtual unknown to most of the people who were working on the paper, to JACL people like Togo Tanaka, to the administration, and to people like yourself who were in contact with others. What do you think accounts for, all of a sudden, this community-wide support? How did you assess it at the time? The protest might have been manipulated by a small group of trouble-makers, but surely the issue found an audience in a circle outside of that small cadre of Black Dragon activists.


Brown

Yes, I've been asked that question many times. There was no doubt that there was unrest in the camp; that's the first thing. And there was a group of Japanese who called themselves pro-American, for example. These were mostly those who worked on the newspaper and worked for the administration in the offices, and they were younger people. When Ueno and his kitchen workers got going, that was another group. And there was kind of a middle group. Now, Fred Tayama was an older man; he wasn't a youngster. Fred Tayama was thirty-six or thirty-seven, and he was trying to say, "Look, let's not get fighting among ourselves. Let's do what we're supposed to do, and do our work, and pretty soon we'll get out of here." Remember, the point was that we were relocating people. We were getting them out of camp as fast as we could and we were doing a pretty good job then. So I say here, on December 5, 1942, "I was home in Bishop, and a phone call from Ralph told me this: This evening, Fred Tayama was home alone when six masked men entered his house and beat him badly. He was taken to the hospital. Ralph Merritt and Ned Campbell immediately got on it, and questioned many people including Ben Kishi. Tayama said that Ueno was one of them. Kishi said so too, in telling what he knew. Ueno was head of the Kitchen Workers Union, and had been stirring up trouble for the past two months in the kitchens."


Hansen

So this is what Merritt told you?


Brown

Yes, I knew this. I knew Ueno had been stirring up trouble. So Ralph, on these statements, had Ueno taken to Independence jail as a suspect in the Tayama case. He called me about 9 a.m. Sunday to tell me all this.


Hansen

Why did he take him outside the camp? That was unprecedented.


Brown

Yes. I think that maybe he felt that the Japanese were running the police department. He probably could have taken over the military, but we were trying to stay away from the military. And I think he thought the best thing to do was to take him into the county jail.


Hansen

And Merritt really didn't know the lay of the camp too well yet, did he?


Brown

No, he'd just gotten there. He'd only been there about a week.



126
Hansen

So he kept in touch with you, then?


Brown

Yes. So on Sunday, December 6, I was still working around the house; we had some friends over for dinner. And about six o'clock Ralph called again and he said that a mob had called on him at 1 p.m., demanding the release of Ueno. He talked to the leaders and made a deal that there would be no more mobs, no more attempted jail deliveries, no meetings, and that they would have to get the six attackers. The mob agreed. At 3 p.m., Ralph delivered Ueno to the Manzanar jail. He brought him back from Independence and put him in Manzanar. Then he called me again about seven saying that a second mob was in the process of getting Tayama in the hospital and that I'd better come down. So I left then. I got to Manzanar around eight. By the time I got to Manzanar, the mob was in front of the jail.


Hansen

So you got there before the shooting?


Brown

Yes, on December 6, I write, "I got in and went to Campbell's apartment with Ralph Merritt. There was much . . ." I can't read it. Maybe the wind was blowing. "And the military police went after the tear gas around nine and let them go. The mob dispersed then, and reformed and started back. Then the military fired. We heard two bursts of Tommy guns. One killed and eight were wounded. It was a bad night." And Monday, December 7, I write, "The schools opened, but there wasn't any oil or janitors. Half of my crew showed up but went home about noon. Black lists were rumored. Most of the pro-American, outspoken people were very frightened. More people coming in asking for protective custody. We learned that John Sonoda was beaten up badly." I forget who he was. "Took a group over to the military police for protective custody. The military police reinforcements arrived. Dillon Myer started Fryer out here; he was in San Francisco. Censorship of news and trouble with George Savage. Some office help in, but very scared. Tom Ozomoto, head of the Citizens' Committee, tried to bargain with the military; demanded release of prisoners, and demanded the Spanish counsel to be called in. Captain Hall said no. First stories of trouble were in. Quite a jumbled mess. Old grudges, mixed emotions. Not all pro-Axis, and much the fault of WRA policy. Campbell was blamed for much of it by the Japanese. No more trouble. I went to Death Valley to see about a CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp, and I got it. This is to place the good ones in."


Hansen

Well, you got there right away, then?


Brown

Yes, I went that day. On December 8, I note, "The military came in from Bendetson's office." That's Colonel Karl Bendetson, who was under DeWitt.


Hansen

This was on December 8?


Brown

I also note on December 8, "The press was hollering. I'm made press officer for the military. I got George Savage straightened out and releases rolling. Si Fryer was to arrive tomorrow. By now the


127
evacuees to the military police numbered about fifty." We were taking them over; I remember Togo Tanaka was in that bunch. "This included Chiye Mori and others. Tom Yamazaki and family, and Togo, etc. Joe Kurihara was one of the original ring leaders. The first committee was put in jail."


Hansen

Did you know Kurihara?


Brown

Joe Kurihara? Evidently. Who was he?


Hansen

He was the one who was usually singled out as . . . he was the leader of the committee that negotiated with Merritt. He's a Hawaiian Nisei who had fought in World War I and had apparently inflamed the mob on the day of the riot, and he was later sent off to an Owens Valley jail and then went to a temporary isolation center in Moab, Utah.


Brown

Yes, that's who I mean, I guess. I continue to write on December 8, "Joe Kurihara, one of the original ringleaders of the first committee, was put in jail. Several others were put in jail."


Hansen

You don't recall him very vividly, then?


Brown

No, I don't. I also note on December 8, "What to do with them was the big problem. I suggested the Death Valley place. Had a long talk with Chiye and Tom and others tonight and got a chronological story." And I continue, "This seemed to help Ralph Merritt. As usual, Yamazaki and Chiye had top ideas. Togo seemed stunned. Joe Karata told the best connected story." So then we got the caravan ready to take all those people and the military police over to Death Valley.


Hansen

You know why Togo seemed so stunned, don't you? They were trying to kill him. He was running for cover.


Brown

Was he? Were they trying to kill Togo? I didn't think so.


Hansen

Yes. You know what he did? He knew that they were going to try to get him; he was on the death list and he hid in an apartment. When the mob was going to his block, they were all out in their pea coats, and he ran right with the mob when they went to his apartment, and his parents opened the door, and Togo was standing right outside in the back, with the mob. But he was safe because it was dark, and because they were all pretty much dressed alike. They started something; then Ben Kishi, who had led them there, told the mob not to hurt the parents, and they left. But Togo was right with them, oddly enough, in the back of the crowd with a butcher knife right inside his coat. Did you get a chance to see the riot?


Brown

Yes, I was standing right there when they did the shooting.


Hansen

Maybe you could clear up something. Some reports say that the riot was precipitated, or the firing was precipitated, by a car that was sent into the jail. Is that right?



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Brown

Yes, that's right. Manzanar was on a kind of slope, and up the street from the jail there was a parked car. I don't know yet where it came from, maybe from some of the workers. It was like a truck, or a pickup or something. And in trying to get old Ueno out of jail, a bunch of youngsters said, "Well, let's take the brakes off the car and push it." So they took the brakes off the car and pushed it. It started downhill, and it ran into the corner of the jail, which was just a barracks building, you know. And when it hit the jailhouse, that's when the soldiers started shooting.


Hansen

The tear gas came first, and then the car, and then the firing.


Brown

When the car made all the noise, then somebody let go with the guns.


Hansen

And you were standing where?


Brown

I was standing right by the entrance gate.


Hansen

What were you doing there?


Brown

Well, I had just driven in. The wind was blowing ninety miles an hour.


Hansen

So this happened very shortly after you arrived that night from Bishop?


Brown

Yes. I had just driven in, and I had just stopped. I saw all these people, so I stopped the car and I got out and was talking to the guys that were in the gatehouse when all this stuff started.


Hansen

Were you accosted by anybody?


Brown

No. We were all only a very short distance from all this stuff that was going on.


Hansen

Who was with you?


Brown

Just the two guys in the gate building.


Hansen

So you hadn't been privy to any kind of consultative meetings before-hand, except for the phone calls from Merritt?


Brown

No.


Hansen

So then what happened after the shooting, as far as your personal situation? What did you do?


Brown

Well, I think I went to Ned Campbell's apartment. I thought I was standing out front. I'm sure I was, because George Savage was there, too, and I remember that he saw it. Anyway, after that, I went to Campbell's apartment with Ralph Merritt. The military police went after their tear gas; no, I must have gone earlier. I guess I was


129
looking around the corner from where Ned's apartment was, and the mob dispersed then and reformed and started back. On December 6, I write, "Then the military fired. We heard two bursts of Tommy guns. One killed and eight were wounded."


Hansen

Do you remember if you stayed up all night in conference?


Brown

Yes, I suppose. I said on December 6, "It's a bad night. School was open the next day, but not very many people came."


Hansen

Who wrote the press release on the riot that went out?


Brown

I wrote it.

Let's see what I say here in my final report. Ah, here it is. "Someone started the fire chief's government car in motion toward the jail. It swerved, knocked the corner off the building, and was fired upon by the machine gun crew and finally came to a stop against a truck."


Hansen

Let's try to review some of the riot's possible causes. You mention in your final report that some of it has to do with pro-Japan sentiment; I think we've covered that portion. And you said awhile ago that some of the causes--the responsibility--derived from poor WRA policy. You're making a distinction between the WRA as an agency outside of the Manzanar administration, aren't you? You're talking about guidelines that were imposed upon you from the top and not ones that were initiated by the Manzanar staff, correct? When you say the WRA, you don't mean the WRA within Manzanar, or do you? Are you thinking back to Nash's administration?


Brown

I think what I'm trying to say is that the Clayt Triggs and WCCA management team,which was very good, was followed by Roy Nash, who was very weak. At the same time the WRA was getting itself set up in Washington, D.C., and eventually did away with the San Francisco regional office, which was closer to us so that we could call them on the phone and whatnot. And then after Nash left, Harvey Coverley came in and also Sol Kimball. There was just no continuity of leadership. And the guy that was kind of running things in those days was Ned Campbell; he was a stronger-willed man, let's put it that way.


Hansen

He was the actual leader, then, while the . . .


Brown

Yes, while the different directors were coming and going, he was the actual leader. And all this led up to the riot, because Ralph Merritt didn't get there until about two weeks before the riot. While he'd been interested in what was going on as a citizen of Owens Valley and had been on the Citizens' Committee, and knew pretty well the story of things going on, he wasn't aware of the tensions within the camp. So all of these things sort of combined into this one business: here's a guy in jail that shouldn't be in jail. I thought that Ned Campbell was actually the guy that put Harry Ueno in jail, but I see from my notes that Ralph had him sent over to Independence. Probably Ned said, "Well, let's send the son of a bitch to jail, and get him out of here."


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And that's what Ralph did. So that was the pivot on which people could say, "Well, here we've got an injustice, and poor old Harry Ueno, all he is is a cook, and sure he's been stirring up some trouble, but they shouldn't put him in jail." When Ralph brought him back and put him in the jail at Manzanar, that's when the wind started blowing and the mob started gathering around. Maybe they were unhappy at the system and what had been going on. The fact that there was indecision and that they didn't think they were getting a real break, the people themselves in there--and so it all exploded in the face . . . and the wind didn't help it any; let's put it that way.


Hansen

Do you think that there was more internee grievance against: (a) the injustice of being put in camps; (b) Ned Campbell and others associated with him in the administration; or (c) the JACL people who were in positions of nominal internee leadership? After all, it was these people who they were putting on death lists and who they were claiming were dogs and treasonable. And it was Fred Tayama who was beaten the night of December 5, and was identified with the JACL because of being president of the Southern California JACL during the immediate prewar period. Do you see the riot more as an intramural thing or more as something directed toward the administration?


Brown

I think it was sort of an intramural thing. I have the feeling--many years afterward--that the Japanese weren't getting along among themselves, and I say that several times in my diary, you know. They were having fights between the older generation and the younger generation. And the JACL, I guess, came in for its share of criticism. And if the statement is right that I have in there, if the JACL people were taking advantage of the old folks because they couldn't write English and were charging them fifty dollars for permits and all this kind of thing, well, you can see where that would spread and get bad feeling going, you know. So I always had the feeling that the riot was caused internally by the Japanese themselves, and that WRA personnel didn't help it any in the form of the things that Ned Campbell and some of the other administrators that they were complaining about were doing.


Hansen

So you would see the internees rioting or rebelling more against something that was happening within their own group?


Brown

Within their own group, yes, I would think so. I would say so, looking back at it; that was the way of it. I don't know how many people would agree with me, but it seemed that way to me.


Hansen

I have no further questions, Mr. Brown.

You have been most helpful. On behalf of the California State University, Fullerton, Japanese American Project, I want to thank you very much for your time and cooperation.



131

Index

An Interview with
Ned Campbell
Conducted by Arthur A. Hansen
on August 15, 1974
for the
California State University, Fullerton
Oral History Program
Japanese American Project

Manzanar War Relocation Center
O.H. 1343

©1976
The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton

Use Restrictions

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, 92834-6846.


139

Interview

  • Interviewee:
  •     Ned Campbell
  • Interviewer:
  •     Arthur A. Hansen
  • Subject:
  •     Manzanar War Relocation Center
  • Date:
  •     August 15, 1974
Hansen

This is an interview with Mr. Ned Campbell, formerly assistant project director of the Manzanar War Relocation Center, by Arthur A. Hansen, for the California State University, Fullerton, Japanese American Oral History Project. The interview is at Monte Verde Inn in Carmel, California, on August 15, 1974, at 1:30 p.m.

Could you begin the interview, Mr. Campbell, by giving a sketch of your background prior to your arrival at Manzanar in 1942: where you were born and what you did during that first period of your life?


Campbell

Well, to start with, I was born in 1905 in Brownwood, a town in mid-western Texas. I was reared on a ranch in West Texas. When I was six years old my father moved the family to Fort Worth. I went through grammar school and my first two years of university there. The only break during this time was for three years, when my father purchased a wholesale grocery house in Sherman, Texas, so I graduated from high school in Sherman, Texas. We returned to Fort Worth and I spent two years at Texas Christian University [TCU]. Then I went to law school out in Tennessee for five years.

At twenty, I was employed by the American National Red Cross for several summers as an exhibition swimmer and lifesaver. I traveled seventeen Midwestern states trying to develop interest in swimming and lifesaving. After leaving school in Tennessee, I went to law school at the University of Colorado, where I continued swimming.

I graduated from the University of Colorado in 1929 with my Bachelor of Laws degree and I foolishly came back to Fort Worth, where my father had very good connections. A law office offered me a place and indicated that they also would allow me to study for my bar examination. I refused, preferring to come to their office with license in hand. In the meantime, a little thing known as the Great Depression took place. I took the bar examination in November, and got my license in March of 1930; but the lawyer who had been a close friend


140
of my father's had died, my father had died, the Depression was on and I couldn't get into a law office even as a client because they knew I didn't have the money.

So I turned back to my swimming and the Red Cross offered me a job. I traveled with the American Red Cross for a number of years and was gradually moved into administrative positions--both in the lifesaving and disaster services--and received some condemnation, as well as commendation, for going into very difficult situations right after disasters had occurred. In fact, I was written up in the Red Cross Journal, for taking over a disaster relief operation--a tornado in Frost, Texas--and I guess I won my stars or wings down there. I stayed with the Red Cross until I had an opportunity to open a dude ranch.

I've always had a desire, as my later life proved, to be in business for myself. I went out and opened a dude ranch, right during the Depression, and made a fair success of it for a couple of years, but the bottom fell out as the Depression deepened.

In desperation I went out to Navajo country, where I met and lived with Sam Day, the very famous white man who was for all purposes a Navajo, and we became very intimate. While out there I tried to do a little bit of writing but was not very successful. I picked up little jobs, like teaching school on the Navajo reservation, and I always tried to pursue my writing career. One thing led to another and I was selected business manager for a section of the Navajo Tribal Industries. Then I went up to Many Farms, in the northeastern corner of Arizona, where I built a packing plant and started the first cooperative store on a Navajo reservation--which still exists, I think.


Hansen

What year was this?


Campbell

Well, I was at Many Farms when I heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I was very proud of my little cooperative store there. Then one day, a man showed up and said, "I'm the new manager of the cooperative." Well, I felt that the cooperative was my baby. Nobody could hire a manager but me, but Si Fryer had sent him.


Hansen

Who is Si Fryer?


Campbell

Si Fryer--his real name is E. Reesman Fryer--was the superintendent of the Navajo reservation, the largest single dependancy of the United States Indian Service. Over the years Si and I had become increasingly close friends and associates. I am a great admirer of his and I suppose that he admired me to a different degree. But I was so infuriated by his sending somebody out that I drove the hundred miles across the mountains with the idea that, if Si said anything, I was going to hit him just as hard as I could.

When I walked into his office, still infuriated, almost speechless,


141
he looked up and said, "Hi, Ned. Well, I guess we're going to make it." I said, "Make what?" And he said, "Well, you know how you and I have talked about getting into the war effort; I've got the chance." "Well, congratulations," I said. "What are you going to do?" And he said, "Well, Milton Eisenhower's asked me to come out and help him organize the relocation of the Japanese," which all of us had read or heard about on the radio. So I said, "Well, congratulations." And he added, "Oh, and by the way, you're going with me." That completely disarmed me. He said, "Didn't my girl call and tell you?" I said, "Nobody's called and told me anything. The only thing I know is that a fellow by the name of Garcia showed up a couple of days ago and said he was taking over the store." (laughter) "Oh God, I forgot to tell you," he said. Dumbfounded, I started out of the office, and he says, "I'll keep in touch with you. I'll fly out there in the next few days and talk with you, and we'll go into the details of the thing." And as I started out the door he said, "Oh, by the way, aren't you interested in how much you're going to make?" "Well, yes, I think it would be of some interest to me." And he said, "Well, it's more than twice what you're making right now."


Hansen

How much was it?


Campbell

I was making about $1,800 per year, plus a house as the manager for the tribal enterprises for that area. So, I think they were going to pay me around $5,000; maybe not that much, I've already forgotten.


Hansen

When was this?


Campbell

Sometime in early 1942. First he took me to San Francisco, where Bob Petrie, his secretary at the time, Milton Eisenhower and I sat down and drew up the plans for the takeover from the Army. I was originally hired to be the organizational man.


Hansen

You mean you were right there on the ground floor of the War Relocation Authority [WRA]?


Campbell

Yes, from the beginning. Si was probably there three or four days before me. We sat up many nights--a few nights certainly--and worked on plans.

In my history with the Red Cross I had done a number of jobs reorganizing Red Cross chapters. It was not that I had any particular training for it, but maybe I had some natural ability--knew something about organization and how to set up offices.


Hansen

Did they set up the San Francisco office of WRA before setting up the Washington office?


Campbell

Well, if I understand it correctly--and again, take into consideration my shortage of memory--Milton Eisenhower first had the idea of setting up the office in San Francisco. After his talk with Si, Milton said, "Si, I don't know a damn thing about this. You know the West, the


142
western people, and these are all going to be western camps. You stay out here and run this. I know my way around Washington." So he left Si in charge, and he was going to be the Washington director, liaison and string-puller, to get us what we needed or wanted.


Hansen

Could you provide some profiles of the people that we've been discussing? Can you give a biographical sketch of Si Fryer?


Campbell

I really don't know his educational background, but he was certainly educated. He had come to the West, or maybe he was from the West, and became interested in the Navajo reservation when he was with Soil Conservation Service [SCS]. He evidently had shown definite administrative ability--originality, drive and all the other qualities needed to make a good administrator. John Collier, then the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, picked Si out of the herd to become superintendent of the Navajo reservation. Si did a fantastic job. It was at the time of cutting back the herds, killing off the horses, and really attempting to reduce the overgrazing. My job with him, when I went to Many Farms, was to further that program. I constructed a cannery and packing plant in which we were going to make a market for all the old ewes the Navajos would otherwise refuse to kill, but which ate as much grass and probably destroyed more because their teeth were worn. The ewes were past the lamb-bearing stage and so thin that they were not attractive for edible purposes. So we made mutton stew of them and canned it. It was a rather successful project, because our products were purchased by the government and given back to many of the Indians as part of their food program. It was a good, edible, high-protein diet.

To get back to Si Fryer, he was really an outstanding man. He was a decisive man. He had great strength of character, an ability to say "NO" and make it stick, and the Indians respected him for his decisiveness, great fairness, and logic.


Hansen

How would you characterize his political outlook and affiliation?


Campbell

I think Si would probably at that time have been a little left-of-center, but not a great deal. He was a very logical man; and I think you almost denigrate the word "logic" if you go too far or to an extreme. I don't ever remember having talked about politics with him.

Incidentally, I had dinner with him and his wife only about six months ago. He is now retired. And has led a life almost like mine. He went to the Near East, and he took me with him into the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration [UNRRA] after the Manzanar breakup.


Hansen

Where does he live now?


Campbell

He's living on either Saint Simons or Jekyll Island, I believe it's down off the coast of southeastern Georgia.


Hansen

But you don't remember him as being very political?



143
Campbell

Oh, no, never. He considered himself--he once mentioned to me, now that you have mentioned it--a professional civil servant. I'd never heard the expression used before.

I went with him to UNRRA. He quit the WRA before I did, and went with UNRRA, and then he recommended me. Governor Lehman had been an early selection and I was recruited shortly thereafter. When I came back after about twenty-two months, Si had resigned from UNRRA and taken a position with the Bolivian government to set up several projects similar to those he had created on the Navajo reservation. I was one of those people he chose to go with him to Bolivia. So Si was more or less my mentor for a number of years, and he has remained a very close friend of mine for all these years. A very, very outstanding man. It has been my good fortune to work with three men who were really outstanding--Si being one of them--and if I have any good characteristics or abilities, I can attribute most of them to having worked with people having, to an outstanding degree, those abilities.


Hansen

Do you recall his attitude at the time toward getting involved in the WRA? Did he have any reservations?


Campbell

I doubt it! At that time both of us were driven with the idea that we must get into the war effort. I don't know, I think he had some type of eye trouble and I have one bad foot. I desperately tried to get into the Army, and was selected and even given a designated rank--if I could pass my physical. On my physical examination, every-thing was okay except one very flat foot. The same thing happened to me with the Navy. But our desire was to get into the war, and we went into this thing like a couple of missionaries. We were going in to do our job, whatever it might be, as our contribution to the war effort. And there was certainly no philosophizing.

Very early both of us learned how highly undemocratic, what a terrific--excuse me using the word in Spanish--mancha [a terrific blemish], this was on America. As I look back upon it, I think it's one of the most distasteful, disasterous, horrible things that could ever have happened in America.


Hansen

What about Milton Eisenhower? He didn't stay very long with WRA before resigning and then somebody from one of his Washington car pools--Dillon Myer--succeeded him. Do you recall his attitude toward getting involved in this business?


Campbell

As I now recall it, he took the attitude that this was a job to be done and let's get along with it. I don't ever remember any philosophizing going on in any of our discussions. There may have been, but they didn't stick in my mind. This was a job to be done on behalf of the war effort.


Hansen

Let's get the machinery working, right?


Campbell

Yes. I remember at that time, we were still suffering under the trauma


144
of Pearl Harbor, and there were just one hell of a lot of changes that were going have to take place, and we were part of those changes. It was somewhat later in my life, after being associated with the Japanese at Manzanar, that I began to evaluate this.


Hansen

Wait. Let's take that in order.


Campbell

First, I was in San Francisco and from there I was assigned to Poston.


Hansen

How long were you in San Francisco?


Campbell

Just a week or so, as I recall.


Hansen

Were you just setting up the regional offices?


Campbell

Just talking about how we were going to organize the operation, what we were going to need in the way of personnel and how the thing was going to be done. The Army had already contracted for the physical building of the camps, and they had already selected the sites.


Hansen

Was Manzanar already functioning?


Campbell

Yes, and Poston was being built.


Hansen

Okay, so Manzanar and these other camps were temporarily under the aegis of the Wartime Civil Control Authority [WCCA].


Campbell

Right, if I remember correctly.


Hansen

And WRA didn't take them over until around June of 1942.


Campbell

Yes.


Hansen

But you were beginning your role with the WRA.


Campbell

Yes. This was prior to the WRA takeover of the camps because I went to Poston and helped set it up. And the young director there, whose name I've now forgotten, wanted me to stay. There was going to be three camps in that archipelago down there, and he wanted me to stay and run one of them. I called Si, and he said, "No, I want you back here, Ned."

My job was to go from camp to camp to help get them functioning, running smoothly, and then move to another. To be more or less a trouble-shooter in the organizational end of it. I would be a warehouseman, director, head of the motor pool--wherever there were some holes that needed to filled, I would have to be flexible enough to do that type of job.


Hansen

Were you a charter staff member of the WRA?


Campbell

Oh, I was there very, very early in the picture.



145
Hansen

So did you do any of these troubleshooting jobs?


Campbell

Well, no, I didn't. When I got to Poston, Si said, "Come on back here, because I've got a fellow that we can send out to Poston. Our organization is going out there, and you've done your job, come on back."

I went to San Francisco and very soon after, exactly when I can't recall, he had me go to Lone Pine, California.

Meanwhile, I was living the life of a bachelor. My wife was pregnant and expecting the baby any time. I was in Lone Pine when I was told that she was about to have an emergency Caesarean. I went back to Gallup, New Mexico, where she was living at the time, and arrived a little late for the birth of my one and only son. Then I went back to Lone Pine.


Hansen

What were you doing in Lone Pine?


Campbell

We were working out of Lone Pine, in the Owens Valley, as there were no living quarters in nearby Manzanar at the time.


Hansen

Were you then assigned to Manzanar?


Campbell

I was assigned to Manzanar to help the project director, Roy Nash, who didn't have anybody assisting him. That's how I happened to be Manzanar's assistant director, because, as I say, I could easily have been the head of the motor pool, for instance. I was sent out to Manzanar to help get that operation going and try to get Nash organized--but not to correct any of his philosophies or any of his procedures.


Hansen

They did have an assistant project director prior to you that worked with Nash by the name of Lewis Hicks, who apparently suffered a nervous breakdown.


Campbell

I don't remember him. I went there to help set up the organization, or to fill a hole until that spot could be filled with a permanent person, and then I was to move on.


Hansen

Had you been on the Manzanar site prior to getting this position?


Campbell

No.


Hansen

You didn't go there under the aegis of the WRA regional office to do anything?


Campbell

No.


Hansen

When you moved into Lone Pine, then, you started working as assistant project director, right?


Campbell

Yes.


Hansen

Had you known Roy Nash prior to coming to Manzanar?



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Campbell

Never.


Hansen

How would you evaluate him both as a project director and as a man?


Campbell

Nash was a short, fat man, and very verbose. Politically--and I'm not speaking of left or right, Democrat or Republican--he was inclined to benefit Nash. Hell of a nice little guy. I think he was rather shallow, not a heavyweight, and a good PR [public relations] man. I remember how impressed he was when he was asked to speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, and how hard he worked on his speech.

When I first started to work there, I worked on a luncheon table--that was my office. I finally had to set up my own office and do my own organization out there. But I do not recall Nash being there a great deal of the time, or really running the camp in the true sense of the word. And by nature, if I see something that needs doing, I, like a damn fool, jump in and start doing it, trying to get things done.


Hansen

From what I've heard, when Nash came to Manzanar he tried to liberalize camp procedures. The previous project director, under the WCCA, was a man by the name of Clayton Triggs, and apparently during his tenure, the camp administration capitulated very much to the pressures of the local communities, and disallowed internees to go out of camp. Nash tried to liberalize that, and sought to allow them to fish and engage in other activities beyond the camp boundaries, and he even spoke at service clubs in the area revealing his plans for liberalization. But supposedly there was great reaction to his plans, and so he had to back down. The WRA office made him cancel these things, and it looked to the internees like he was breaking promises. The people in camp had liked him very much at first because he'd made these overtures toward liberalization, and then he was put in the embarrassing position of having to say "No." But Nash increasingly became, so it seems, unpopular with both the internees and with his staff. How would you evaluate his popularity? Did you feel it was declining with time?


Campbell

I couldn't make any comment on that. I have no remembrance of that at all--with the internees or with the staff.


Hansen

But you do remember him as being absent a lot, and having a low profile in the camp, right?


Campbell

Yes, very definitely.


Hansen

Do you know why he ultimately left Manzanar?


Campbell

I don't know. Nor do I know where he went, or the circumstances of his leaving. I do know that the camp was left in my hands off and on much of the time. New directors came in, and I found myself acting as the director while I was teaching them, and then they didn't stay long. For many reasons, I feel that if there is any blame or fame to have been gained during that interim in Manzanar, a great part of it


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would have to be placed upon me. Nash was not a dynamic person, and certainly was not capable of grasping the scope of this organization to the point of really handling it. I would be curious to know whatever happened to him. He was a man in his late fifties or early sixties at this time. So he was not a youngster by any means.


Hansen

Was he a civil servant?


Campbell

I don't know.


Hansen

I think, like you, he had a background in the Indian Bureau, didn't he?


Campbell

I don't remember that, and I think I would remember that if it were true. Still, it may well have been the case.


Hansen

I know when he came in, most of the people who were employed under the old governing agency, the WCCA, were let go. The only two people retained--at least that I can think of--were Joe Winchester and Bob Brown, while most of the rest were new people. So when you came in with WRA, you were essentially working with a new staff.


Campbell

Don't forget for a moment what I've already expressed to you prior to taping this interview: my rather low opinion of the GIs that were in the perimeter guard detail. To a great extent this evaluation holds true for much of the personnel, but not exclusively. Most of the personnel we had were those who couldn't get a job elsewhere, or weren't needed by the Army, or some of the more vital wartime forces. So we were not getting the cream. We had some very outstanding people working with us, but they were in a minority. So, generally, we were not working with capable people. And that was why the director's or the assistant director's job was so vitally important there: you had to have somebody strong, someplace in the camp, who would make a decision, and carry forth.

Incidentally, one little thing that I do remember seems worthy of mention. There was a mayor or a chairman of the county board or something, up at nearby Independence, a German immigrant, who I understand--this is strictly gossip--was persecuted, in the same way the Japanese were being persecuted, during the First World War. He was one of the most vociferous, active, aggressive, and "down with the old slant-eyed Japs." He didn't even want them to cross the road to go down and work on the sewage disposal plant. He didn't want them anyplace. He was extremely difficult to deal with. He wouldn't listen to reason and you couldn't talk with him. I remember Bob had the job of trying to get along with him, and I think he did with only relative success.


Hansen

Bob Brown?


Campbell

Yes, because he was local and had known this man for some time. But I remember he caused us a great deal of trouble.


Hansen

What kind of trouble?



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Campbell

Well, anything that we wanted to do, he was against it.


Hansen

And then he influenced others in the Owens Valley?


Campbell

Well, he was the county commissioner or mayor or something. He held some elected office, and was a hardheaded German. And as I say, he was just as adamant as could be. Anything we wanted to do that was the least bit outside the confines of the camp, he was very much against it.


Hansen

I know Bob Brown, Ralph Merritt and Roy Nash spoke before service clubs in the neighboring communities of Independence and Lone Pine about what was going on at Manzanar. Did you ever do this?


Campbell

No.


Hansen

Had you met Ralph Merritt during the time you were at the camp and prior to his being hired as the director?


Campbell

Bob Brown had told me of him, and his adulation of him, and had told me what a great person he was, and how much he'd done. But I had never met him, and in fact never heard of him, except from Bob.


Hansen

Now, although you went to Manzanar without any other motive aside from simply getting involved in the war effort, and without any philosophy toward what was involved . . .


Campbell

That's entirely true.


Hansen

. . . you did say that you developed a philosophy, and certainly by the time you got enmeshed in the machinery of operating . . .


Campbell

I had some very strong feelings.


Hansen

What kind of philosophy--not simply a day-to-day pragmatism--did you develop toward camp management?


Campbell

I think I strengthened my feelings of, "Christ Almighty, guys, we're in this, there's nothing you can do, or I can do, or possibly anybody could do, considering the political situation in the country"--and I'm thinking of the political situation from the terrible trauma of Pearl Harbor and how it had affected everyone; anybody who showed any friendship toward the Japanese Americans, or anybody that looked like a Japanese, was immediately castigated to the ultimate--"So listen, guys, we've got this place, it's a hellhole, I'll grant you, but let's do the very most we can to make it liveable."

I encouraged them to plant gardens in the firebreaks. They raised vegetables, far more than they could possibly use in the kitchens, and they would bring over great quantities of them to our family--more than my wife, my infant son, and I could eat.

There was one man, a landscape gardener, who could take one of the


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sewer manholes, sticking up three or four feet above the ground because it had been constructed so hurriedly, and by taking some cement could make it appear as a tree trunk. And we encouraged that. We allowed them to turn some of their bath house toilets into sauna or hot baths.

We had a camouflage net factory there, and the internees were being paid very poorly for their labor there. How poorly paid, I don't know. It was something for them to do, a make-work project, and it was helping in the war effort. We had a little strike up there one time, and I went up to speak to the strikers. One of the mistakes I made was that I agreed with them entirely. Instead of backing up the Washington decision or acting as a shock-absorber to absorb some of the blame, I just agreed with them and said, "Hell, we can't do anything about this, so go on back to work." This was one of the things I was criticized for.

People were crawling onto a truck body there and talking to this group, and I believe I have some native ability at public speaking, as I've done a great deal of it, starting out with my Red Cross days, and, as I recall, the strike ended up in a good laugh session.


Hansen

I would like you to comment on this recounting of that situation, as it was written by a former internee named Koji Ariyoshi. Maybe you even recall him.


Campbell

No, no. Names wouldn't mean anything to me.


Hansen

I have his picture here. Do you recognize him?


Campbell

No, I don't think . . . no.


Hansen

Anyway, this recollection of Manzanar by Ariyoshi appeared in the Honolulu Star Bulletin on April 8, 1971. He says that after returning from Idaho, where he'd been topping beets during a furlough leave . . .


Campbell

Yes.


Hansen

"I worked full time at the camouflage net factory. We were told that we outproduced defense workers outside doing the same work, and earning about $400 a month. We were paid $12 and later $16 a month. At first, pay for laborers was $8; for semi-skilled, $12; and for professionals, like doctors, $16. The increase upped the pay to $12, $16, and $19 a month. By working half a day, we outproduced net factory workers outside. We were on a quota basis; as we finished our quota, we were free for the day.

"I went to Ned Campbell, assistant project director, and he told me that camouflage net production was a defense project, and the factory could not be idle half a day. He said it took considerable effort and persuasion by people friendly to the Nisei to have the national government introduce this war industry in camp. I reminded Campbell that we were top producers. He said we must cooperate. The whole country was watching us, and we must prove and show our loyalty.


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Otherwise, we would remain in camp for a long time.

"He said a defense industry in camp doing well would help our position. He finally admitted that inspectors from the military headquarters at the presidio were coming to Manzanar for inspection, and he didn't know when. He didn't want the factory idle when they came. Our record spoke for us, I insisted, and he should back us up. We worked in an open, barn-like structure with enough heat and dust. We were doing our part. How could he tell us to prove our loyalty and say that our chances of relocation to inland communities depended on our cooperation, when he was primarily interested in protecting and enhancing his position? He declared that he would rig up a loudspeaker at the factory and make his announcement.

"The net factory workers were talking of walking off the job. On the day Campbell said he would announce the change in work hours, I went to him early in the morning. I was asked by others to do so. I pleaded, but he would not budge. He made the announcement from the platform of the truck. The faces of men and women turned up to him, turned away and the workers dispersed. The first defense industry and the first relocation center were shut down.

"That afternoon, a command car from the presidio parked outside the barbed wire fence. A few of us were taken out to be questioned. I explained to the officer why the factory was idle. No one had led the strike; workers just refused to work because they had been betrayed."

After listening to that account, how do you react to it?


Campbell

I don't recall the details of the people from the presidio; in fact, I don't recall the details of my conversation, nor can I necessarily put any value on what argument I may have used. You can see my tendency toward a change in philosophy by that time. I wanted to get these people out as fast as I could, and I'm enough of a natural salesman that if I have to tell you that something's green when it's blue, I might have the tendency to say, "Well, that happens to be a bluish-green and not a greenish-green." It's entirely possible he's accurate in his account.

I do recall that from the bed of the truck we had a long discussion that day. It was open, and it was one where I met with quite a number of people. I agreed with them, but there was nothing we could do. As I have said, I feel this might have been my mistake--a basic mistake. When the boss tells you to do something, you either quit or do what you've been told to do. That's what I failed to do there, and was criticized heavily for my actions in Washington.

My sympathy was entirely with the Japanese at that time--maybe not entirely, I'll back up on that. There were mitigating circumstances; they were getting room and board--although they hadn't asked for it, they were getting it. If you get room and board, you don't get the


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same pay. However, I saw no justification for underpaying them to the extent that they were being underpaid, nor have I changed my mind about it today.


Hansen

How much automony did you have at Manzanar; to what extent did you take your cues and commands from the Washington WRA office?


Campbell

If they came out with a policy, I had no autonomy at all. But in the day-to-day operation, we were never interfered with, nor would they help or hinder us a great deal.


Hansen

Did you feel hamstrung by policy directives that were constantly being altered in Washington?


Campbell

Well, it certainly was frustrating. We had various experts, efficiency experts, that would come in with all the problems solved in their own mind, or with plans for preventing the problems from arising. It was frustrating to have these fellows come in who knew absolutely nothing about the day-to-day operation and the pressures that we were under. I'm sure I irritated them by saying that I didn't think they were omnipotent, and that they couldn't tell me a certain action was going to cause a certain reaction, that that was absolute absurdity. Even I couldn't foresee that because there were all these pressures within the camp.


Hansen

Do you recall any of these?


Campbell

No, but you felt them. There were people who felt strongly this way, and others who felt strongly another way. For instance, the little doctor that was there, Dr. James Goto, was a fantastic man. But there were people who said, "Don't ever go in there to get a splinter pulled from your finger, because you'll leave without an appendix; he'll operate on anybody for an appendix if he gets a chance." So, name a subject and there were very divergent points of view and very strong feelings on it.

I think one of the identifying features of the Japanese--maybe because under these circumstances of living in hovels and living as they were forced to live, or maybe it's part of their inherited nature--but they had very strong opinions that they wanted to act upon physically. I remember, with great pleasure, how I liked to sit down and talk with an intelligent man--and it's not hard for me to find one more intelligent than I--and I remember the "bull sessions" or "rap sessions" we would have with some of the young Japanese there. I remember this with great joy, although I can't recall anything in particular that we discussed.


Hansen

Do you recall any of the people involved in these rap sessions?


Campbell

Most of them were young people at the newspaper office. I was frequently in contact with them, and I think they became more friendly toward me. Therefore they came to me with--not tattletaling, but forewarning--as Tad Uyeno, a reporter on the Manzanar Free Press did.



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Hansen

Did you get any tattletaling?


Campbell

No, not that I recall.


Hansen

You don't recall somebody informing you about this or that person being pro-Japan in his sentiments and actions?


Campbell

No more than what was said in these rap sessions. Well, they'd drop a name, like that SOB will do anything, or he's causing trouble, but never with a sense of disclosing information to me that I should take action upon. If it was done, I was too stupid to realize what they were telling me.


Hansen

Did you have an informal espionage system or intelligence system?


Campbell

Absolutely not.


Hansen

What about the FBI? Did the FBI ever come into camp?


Campbell

Oh, very frequently. They always checked in with me--as a courtesy thing--and I would get them an office and staff.


Hansen

Why did the FBI come to you instead of the project director?


Campbell

Well, as I say, I guess I was the de facto project director. It was through my own desire or aggressiveness or my stupidity, whatever you want to call it, or maybe it was just the flow of project directors. I've always felt that I was running the camp. That's been my feeling; anything that happened there during those days--in the latter days of Nash up to the day when Merritt came in and through the early days of Merritt--it was more . . .


Hansen

Campbell's administration?


Campbell

Yes, in my own mind. Now, I may be entirely erroneous in that, but I must accept the blame or the credit for anything particulary anything that happened there.


Hansen

Former internees of Manzanar that I've interviewed have recollected you as the one among the staff with the highest profile in camp. They say that, if they were to identify a leader of the Manzanar administration, it would be you.


Campbell

Whether it was pro or con, I think that's fair. I felt in my own mind, because of my own personality, and the situation there, that I should assume the authority to go ahead.

One disasterous incident I mentioned to you before we began to tape, I had an eighty-five dollar-plus phone conversation with Dillon Myer, attempting to get permission to take the known troublemakers out of camp. I was turned down even though I presented every possible argument as to why they should be removed. Dillon Myer said it would be undemocratic to remove them. I feel, had they been


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removed, the so-called Manzanar Riot might not have taken the shape it took.


Hansen

How did these troublemakers operate?


Campbell

I can't recall, except anything we wanted to do, any little decree or regulation we came out with, there was always somebody to oppose it, break it, or cause trouble with it.

Some of the Japanese wanted to start a soy sauce factory in there. They came to me, and I said, "Swell." We had bachelor quarters there, and I said, "Why don't we just use their bath house facilities to make soy sauce?" And I believe we also raised some bean sprouts, too. But if we were going to use it, the bachelors would have to go someplace else. This was acceptable with all the bachelors that I talked to. Then somebody started complaining about how I was doing the wrong thing to the bachelors--mistreating them because they were not aggressive, and they were older men and I was taking advantage of them. But the desire of the whole camp was to have their own soy sauce factory. Anything you attempted to do, these troublemakers were against it, and they were constantly stirring up more and more trouble.


Hansen

Did they ever confront you openly?


Campbell

No, only this man, this Japanese American that I told you of. They were just stirring up the embers as much as they could.


Hansen

A man who figures very principally in the Manzanar Riot, the person whose arrest sparked it, was Harry Ueno. Apparently you had seen him a few times prior to his arrest. In fact, a lot of people recall times when you threatened to physically throw Ueno out of your office.


Campbell

It's possible, but I don't recall it.


Hansen

Ueno had floated an accusation within camp that you and Joe Winchester were two administrators involved in stealing rationed supplies and selling them on the black market. Some historians and former internees have claimed that because of this accusation you were so incensed at Ueno that you were ready to pick him up on the slightest pretext. So, when Fred Tayama was beaten on the night of December 5, 1942--the night before the Manzanar Riot--by masked men who he couldn't positively identify, you were so anxious to yank Ueno out of the camp, that you arrested him. At that point, you made an unprecendented move in the camp's history; you did not place Ueno in the camp jail, but removed him personally to a jail outside the camp in Independence.


Campbell

I recall none of that, really. I can almost deny having taken him there, because I remember none of that. Now, I may have done it, but as I say, none of that sticks in my memory. A man accusing me


154
of a thing like that would incense me.


Hansen

Do you remember that?


Campbell

No, but I can tell you this: if he did, I did. Those people had personalities, as I have a personality. He'd found my weak point. Don't accuse me of lying, or stealing, or you're liable to get a violent reaction. I'm sure if he did that, I was incensed. But to have used that as an excuse isn't a part of my nature, and I don't think it's ever been a part. I would tell you to your face what I don't like, and I will react to your face. But to do little, tricky things to trap you has never been my nature, and I hope it never becomes so.


Hansen

But you don't recall these actions at all?


Campbell

I'm absolutely blank on them, so I can neither deny nor affirm them.


Hansen

You certainly can deny the fact that you took the sugar.


Campbell

Of course! What would I have done with it? I was living in camp, I didn't know anybody in the Owens Valley; how could I have established--I'm just going about this logically--a contact with somebody to even do this, had I wanted to.

When I was in Africa with UNRRA, I was approached by the Arabs. God, the opportunities were showered upon me there. Part of the time I was living in camps, but for a long time I was living in Casablanca. It seems to me that I was probably approached once a month, or once every two weeks, by some of the "merchants"--the Arabs are great merchants and anything is legitimate with them--during the war who were being starved and mistreated, but I had few contacts. As for the Manzanar situation, the few people I knew in Owens Valley were people Bob Brown introduced to me, friends of his. Most of them were very delightful people, but I could count those on three or four fingers.


Hansen

After the accusation was reiterated and reiterated, the administration finally agreed to set up an investigation to find where the sugar was going, and while they discovered shortages in the sugar supply, they were never able to pin down where they were going and who was taking them. But the rumor was given some credibility in the minds of the internees by the findings of the investigation.


Campbell

They were looking for things, too. But one incident that I do recall was my first real contact with the Civil Service Commission. A man that I would call a low-grade employee was in charge of the motor pool there. He was a Caucasian, and I became aware of the fact that he had four U.S. government tires on his personal car, and so I summarily discharged him. First, I called him in and asked if it was true, and he said, "Yes," and explained himself, but I


155
fired him.

The next thing I knew, I was brought before the Civil Service Commission for I had not told him, prior to this time, that it was illegal to use government property and to remove the tires. Well, it seemed to me a grown man certainly should know that government property is government property. But I lost my case, for I had not given him prior warning after discovering this and allowed him time to adjust it. However, I refused to let him back in camp, and he was transferred. But that is the only incident that I know of. The sugar incident, now that you mention it, is a faint, faint cloud in my memory, but so faint that I couldn't even comment upon it.


Hansen

Was it a cause célèbre at the time?


Campbell

Well, it doesn't remain in my memory as such.


Hansen

When you think back about that time and try to recapture the philosophy you were developing toward camp administration, you perhaps think, too, about your attitude toward the internees. Had you known Japanese Americans prior to taking this job?


Campbell

If so, maybe one or two in my lifetime.


Hansen

A lot of the criticism directed at you by former internees is to the effect that Ned Campbell did not understand the Japanese psychology. Would you care to comment on that estimate?


Campbell

Well, that is 100 percent valid.


Hansen

What do you think the Japanese psychology was?


Campbell

I realize now that they are a far more sensitive people. As I say, I went out there a real babe. I went out there with the idea that here was a job to be done. I shall never forget how distressed I was when, as the assistant project director, I was assigned a big Chrysler, which I liked; everybody likes a big car to drive around. And I felt very happy about it. But then to have a boy, young man, come up one day and say, "You know, you're driving my car." He just wanted to look at it and touch it again. It was the first time I realized just how hard we were stepping on these people. Not only stepping on them but rubbing our actions in their faces. And I think probably that was my first realization that I was dealing with human beings, and this was just not a job to be done with so many bodies out there. Certainly I was very guilty of the fact of going out first with the notion that we have so many people--so many bodies, if you will, and we have a job to do: we've got to feed so many mouths, and we have so many people we have to get into the hospital, and we've got this, that and the other. But they were just numbers to me. And I think probably that instance was the beginning of my realization that I did have a human quotient to deal with. I don't know if I was mature enough--although I was old


156
enough to be mature--to have developed a philosophy; but I will say, I left there with great admiration for the Japanese, and that has remained with me all my life.


Hansen

Do you think most of the administrators shared the same sort of stereotypes and prejudices concerning the Japanese, or would you say they were different from the ordinary man on the street in their outlook? Were the people running the camp a particularly liberal, humane group or were they just ordinary people?


Campbell

As I remember, I think they could all fall into about the same classification as I. I don't remember them making any verbal swings at the Japanese--like the "Japs," or the "slant eyes," or I guess the GIs call anybody that comes from the East the "slopes." I don't recall feelings of hatred, viciousness, or vindictiveness among any people I worked with, although it may have occurred.


Hansen

Some people have divided the WRA administrators into two groups: those who were people-minded, who thought of the internees as people first and Japanese second; and those that were stereotype-minded, who thought of the internees as Japanese first and people second. Given those definitions, were most of the administrators stereotype-minded or people-minded?


Campbell

I don't think it would be fair to even express an opinion--not that I'm refusing to answer your question, I just don't think my opinion would be valid.


Hansen

Don't you recall bull sessions and the general sort of demeanor the administrators had toward the Japanese Americans?


Campbell

Yes, I do recall a certain idealism. And since I am more or less pragmatic, I went in there and left there with the idea that this was a job to be done, and let's get it done, and make it as happy for all of us as we possibly can.


Hansen

Do you think that was a generally shared attitude?


Campbell

No, because as I told you earlier, I don't think the intellectual level of the majority of the employees there was such that you could categorize them. The camp was a two- or three-man operation, and by that I mean two or three peoples' personalities and philosophies. There was the police chief, Bob Brown, me, and to a lesser degree the people who specialized in various aspects of camp management, like the head of the motor pool and the head of the fire department--and with those people with whom they came in contact.


Hansen

Who was your closest friend on the staff?


Campbell

I suppose Bob Brown.


Hansen

How would you characterize him, how would you describe his role in


157
the camp? Would you say that he played an important role?


Campbell

Well, Bob played an important role as far as I was concerned. He was my infornation source on reactions to expect on the outside. He explained the Owens Valley to me, its people, and the personalities involved there. I don't think Bob had a strong conviction at that time vis-à-vis the Japanese. Again, remember this is over many years, and I could be very, very wrong. Bob was a hell of a nice guy, and I enjoyed being with him. He was certainly my intellectual equal, if not my superior, and I found him a stimulating person to be with. I think we had a difference of opinion on how to meet several particular situations that I can recall--but again, pulling rank on him, I usually went ahead and did it my way, erroneously or not.


Hansen

Did you know, at the time, that he was angling to get Nash replaced as project director?


Campbell

Nash replaced? No, I don't recall that--I can't even say whether or not it was true. I helped him bring Merritt in as director. I shoveled some coals on that fire, and that seemed so dastardly to me at the time, but now with greater age, I've seen it happen so many times in my life.


Hansen

Could you explain how this happened?


Campbell

No, only that I also recommended Merritt, on Bob's recommendation. My job was to get somebody strong in these jobs, so I could move on.


Hansen

Why didn't they push you up into the position of project director?


Campbell

I guess because I didn't have what it took. I don't think I did; I wasn't that mature at the time.


Hansen

How old were you?


Campbell

I think maturity is a relative term. I was born in 1905, so figure it out. I was thirty-five, because I didn't get married until I was thirty-four. My wife and I were old-fashioned; we were married before we had our child. Although I was thirty-five years old, I still feel I was very naive.


Hansen

You have been described by some interviewees as "boyish" during your Manzanar days.


Campbell

I think that would be a very accurate description. I feel I've matured rather late in life.


Hansen

You have also been frequently described as "headstrong."


Campbell

I think that would probably be true, and would still be true.


Hansen

So you think the picture of a boyish and headstrong person who was willing to make a decision and who was quite open and frank in his


158
dealings, would be a fair characterization?


Campbell

I think the first part would have to be somebody else's evaluation of me. The latter part, I would be very proud to accept. Yes, I am willing to make a decision. The one decision I didn't make I've always regretted--when I called Dillon Myer.


Hansen

Why don't you relate that incident again, for the record.


Campbell

I became aware of ringleaders who were creating an increasing amount of trouble in camp. It was probably after the Fred Tayama beating--although I can't correlate that in its proper sequence--when I called Dillon Myer, and first suggested that I be allowed to take four to eight people out of the camp and lock them up--just to get them out of the camp. He asked me what I would do with them. I said, "I'll figure that out, but with our association with the local authorities here, we can put them in something here, or take them someplace. Let's get them out of here, let's get the rotten apples out." His rejoinder asked me how we were going to try them, how were we going to weigh the evidence we had against them. I admitted we couldn't, that we would probably make some mistakes in this, and that we would probably take some innocent people out. In taking out the known rotten apples, however, we might get a few good ones in there.


Hansen

How many are we talking about?


Campbell

We're talking about taking out ten maximum, and I was thinking more about seven or eight.


Hansen

Were they a special group in camp?


Campbell

Not that I recall. I can't think of them as a group of well-organized, well-knit, let's-get-together-boys-and-do-these-dastardly-acts types, like the IRA [Irish Republic Army] today or anything like that.


Hansen

Was it the reputed group alternately called the Blood Brothers of California or the Black Dragon Society?


Campbell

I don't remember. Those groups may have existed, I don't recall, but I don't know of them. In my own mind I knew the several that I would have picked up and taken out. Anyway, Dillon Myer and I argued and argued, and he turned me down.

It's fixed in my mind: I shall never again in my life ask for permission to do something that I feel should be done; I shall go ahead and do it and either lose my job or defend my actions for having done it. I think, had I gone ahead and done it, the riot would not have taken the form it did. It might have been far more severe, because I might have picked the wrong apples--ones who were not bad, and the bad ones would have used this as a tom-tom to beat upon. Maybe we would have nipped it in the bud. But the fact is, I didn't make the decision I should have made, and then defended it. I've always condemned myself for it.



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Hansen

Before we started the taping, you made an interesting breakdown of the internee population in the camp. Could you relate this again?


Campbell

These are just figures I'm grabbing out of the air. I've always said in discussing my Manzanar experience that probably something in excess of 90 percent of the people who were there just wanted to make the most of the situation. They didn't want to raise any smoke, they just wanted to live the best they possibly could. Of the remaining 8 percent or 10 percent, probably more than half of them were such loyal Americans that they would crucify their own grandmother to prove their Americanism--some of them were loyal almost to the point of nausea. The other 4 [percent] or 5 percent were devoutly convinced that Japan was right and that Japan was going to win the war--they were the ones who were going to cause trouble.


Hansen

How did you come in contact with these people who were so nauseous about their pro-Americanism?


Campbell

Oh, they definitely made themselves known to me.


Hansen

Were the people you ended up taking to Death Valley after the riot of this group?


Campbell

Yes, there were a few in that group.


Hansen

Are you talking about people like Tokie Slocum? Slocum was an out-spoken patriot who got his citizenship as a result of fighting in World War I.


Campbell

I'm confusing him with the Japanese American, Joe Kurihara. I'm making one person of them.


Hansen

They were mortal enemies.


Campbell

Their history is what I'm confusing into one person, in the name of Kurihara.


Hansen

Well, the history of the two is quite similar. They were both decorated soldiers--in fact, Tokie Slocum had fought alongside Sergeant York. Kurihara and Slocum used to go at one another because Kurihara claimed all of his patriotism was for naught as soon as the war broke out. He had a fine paying job and he volunteered to be a navigator and work at defense factories, but none of these places would hire him. Then he ended up at Manzanar, and, of course, he was very embittered by it.

Tokie Slocum, on the other hand, became a sort of self-appointed vigilante committee, helping the FBI ferret out suspected pro-Japan sympathizers. He bragged around camp that he was working for the FBI, and so he was very unpopular with the people in camp, who used to call him an inu [dog], and numerous attempts were made on his life. Joe Kurihara said he used to be an American, but Japanese blood flowed in his veins and now he would remember the spirit of Yamato Damashii and now he was a "Jap" 100 percent.



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Campbell

That I can remember.


Hansen

Slocum claimed his commander-in-chief was the President of the United States, and that he was serving his commander-in-chief in Manzanar. Kurihara and Slocum had this common background, but there were dramatic contrasts in their actions.


Campbell

Slocum would be one of the type of people I was talking about--one aggressive about proving his Americanism, and also creating frictions I'd rather not have had. To be patriotic is one thing, but to be vociferous about it is something else.


Hansen

As an administrator, who caused more problems for you: the stridently pro-Japan internees, or the super-patriotic ones?


Campbell

Certainly the pro-Japanese who were aggressively out to cause trouble.


Hansen

But since almost all the reputed beatings and killings were directed at people who were outspokenly pro-American, didn't they by reiterations of their allegiance to the country and their attempts to circulate petitions cause the camp to be in a constant uproar?


Campbell

No--but again, I keep hiding behind the cloud of years that have passed--I don't recall them as being real problems; they were just irritants. The things caused by the pro-Japanese created real and serious problems.


Hansen

What kind of problems?


Campbell

Any decision we made, as well-meaning or as good as it may have been, always found resistance.


Hansen

Karl Yoneda was outspokenly pro-American. Actually, he was a Communist, and the first so affiliated to run for a state office in California.


Campbell

Was he a longshoreman?


Hansen

Yes, and he was a block leader.


Campbell

I remember him. He was a great believer in Harry Bridges; he thought the sun rose and set on Harry Bridges' rear end.


Hansen

You remember him, then.


Campbell

I think I'd recognize the guy if he walked in today, as he was then; he's one of the few Japanese I think I would remember. I had some very interesting discussions with him.


Hansen

He was married to a Caucasian who had been connected with left-wing organizations and politics for awhile before the war.


Campbell

Yes, I remember, she was also rather vociferous.



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Hansen

Yoneda recalls times when a salvage crew used to take a truck around the camp, violating the speed limit, with a banner over it saying, "Black Dragon Society" or whatever. One day he was talking to Tokie Slocum on a stoop outside the barracks, when this truck came and tried to kill them. They jumped back into the building and the truck wiped out the steps. Yoneda claims that this was going on a lot, and that he complained to you, but you took a no-see attitude and pooh-poohed the whole thing. He said instead of trying to apprehend these pro-Japan elements, you and other administrators turned your head from it.


Campbell

I recall nothing of that. But apply logic to it: if you are by yourself or in a very small group, in an isolated corner of an area containing more than ten thousand souls, you cannot occupy yourself with every little pinprick that occurs, although that pinprick may be very important to you. At the same time, if we ran after every pinprick, we could be trapped into doing very foolish things. We did have a police department that those things could be reported to. I make no defense for my lack of action; my answer to this is logic. It doesn't make sense that we would have done anything; we'd have been out of breath all the time, running here and there.


Hansen

Yoneda wanted precisely what you wanted: to have those people involved in pro-Japan actions classified as troublemakers and taken out of the camp.


Campbell

This conversation with Dillon Myer was one or two days prior to the riot, or maybe it was the same day. Things were getting pretty heated, and word was reaching me that there was going to be a problem. I don't recall the beating, but it might have been about that time. It may have been what triggered my call to Myer, I can't recall.


Hansen

Let's talk about the Manzanar Riot: two people were killed and some ten people were injured on December 6, 1942. The press release Bob Brown wrote and distributed, under Merritt's approval, characterized it as a celebration on the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor--a clash between pro-American and pro-Japan forces. This seems to me, from my research, to be a very poor rendering. What do you think?


Campbell

I was going to use the very foul expression of "horse manure"-- it's a little more accurate. That's a bunch of horse manure! Bob ought to be ashamed of himself; he should have been ashamed at the time. It's absolutely untrue. The group causing trouble was beginning to get a bigger following, because they provided something to do, to listen to. The people followed them down the street one day and when I stepped out in front of them, I saw hatred as I've never seen before in my life in the eyes of four or five people crowded around me. They were followed by a bunch of teenagers along for a joy ride. "Let's see what happens when these four or five guys attack the big gringo." If you were sitting around the camp all day and had nothing to do, wouldn't you like to see a little action someplace? Sure you would. Bob was looking for words, looking for something to write, but he should be ashamed of himself. Merritt--now that I know the type he is--would never have been ashamed of himself; he justified anything


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he did.


Hansen

Hadn't he just arrived?


Campbell

That makes no difference; it's a part of his character. I knew very little of Merritt. I only knew him from the deification of him Bob Brown had given me.


Hansen

Didn't you have a chance to meet him somewhat?


Campbell

Yes, and he was a cold-blooded egoist who wanted to do things his way. He wanted things for Ralph Merritt; he was strictly an egoist.


Hansen

When he first came to camp--he was there just a little over a week, six to nine days before the riot--he obviously had to depend upon you, since you were, in effect, running the camp. Nash left, then Harvey Coverley and Solon Kimball were there as acting directors, and then Merritt. Merritt was only there for a little while when the riot occurred. You were making most of the decisions, and providing a good portion of the information about what was going on and how to deal with it, so I imagine he was taking counsel with you quite frequently. Is it fair to say, then, that Merritt was pretty much relying upon you during this time?


Campbell

In retrospect, I feel Merritt was, by nature, a conniving person. If only I knew how much he was relying on me and using my willingness-- which has always been a part of me, to believe a man when I talk with him--to get rid of me. I am now convinced in my own mind that he was indebted to Bob, and Bob was going to be his boy.


Hansen

You mean he was going to hire Bob Brown as assistant project director?


Campbell

Either that or some other very good thing. I'd have to be Jesus Christ in a chariot for him to want me, and I was far from that. I didn't have the depth of experience or many of the required characteristics. But I'm sure had I had them, he would not have wanted me, because I would have been a competitor of his at the time. He didn't want a competitor, he wanted a follower. He wanted somebody to idolize him, glorify him; Bob was his man, because Bob did idolize him. That's the type of people Merritt wanted surrounding him.


Hansen

So when Merritt got there, for whatever reason--whether to give you enough rope to hang yourself, or legitimately as a successor coming in and finding out something from his top aide--you were in a position of acting director.


Campbell

Undoubtedly.


Hansen

Let's see if we can survey the situation: you don't recall picking up Ueno and taking him to the Independence jail, so at what point do you start having some memories connected with the riot? Let's reconstruct what you recall about that episode.



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Campbell

I really recall very little about it. There are little highlights that stick out in my mind, but they're not necessarily in chronological order. News of the beating of Tayama reached me very quickly. And then, I or Merritt said--I suppose it was Merritt--"Let's turn this over to the Army, we've done all we can do." I was over at the police station, which was right at the gate, when somebody said, "Here they come down the street." The soldiers lined up across the street with their guns and bayonets ready. Foolishly, I thought I could talk anything down, and not wanting any confrontation with the soldiers and the internees, I stepped out in front of them, and stopped this group. It consisted of five or six people marching and about fifteen hundred onlookers, or supporters, or just let's-see-what's-gonna-happeners.


Hansen

Would you see the fifteen hundred as part of a bound-together mob?


Campbell

By no means; they were looking for something to do, some excitement. There was a handful, and out of that handful were some of the people I would have picked up. But I'm not sure my call to Dillon Myer didn't happen after that. One of them said something to me, and I remember my first reaction was to reach out and grab him by the collar. I then saw this hatred as I've never seen before or since in their eyes, in their faces, and in their expressions.


Hansen

Was this the negotiating group that you were talking to?


Campbell

This group wasn't negotiating. I can't recall why they came down or what they were going to do or what they were demanding. My argument was always falling back on, "Guys, I don't like this any better than you do. Let's make the most of it, and why muddy waters we have to drink?"


Hansen

Did it work this time?


Campbell

It didn't work this time and it never would have worked with that group. I'm not sure I was even wise or logical in my thinking on the thing. The logical thing to do would have been a thing I once suggested: to let these fellows demonstrate how great they are and put them in a camp, then send their name through the Spanish legation and let it be known that when the Japanese land on these shores and take over the Western part of the United States, these are their boys. Wave that big flag, and let them fly the Japanese flag if they want to. I really think we would have eliminated a lot of our trouble this way.

The 90 percent that just wanted to get along and didn't want to make trouble--wanted to do things as near Japanese American as they could and get this thing over as happily as they could--would have become so predominant and said, "We don't want it. We're tired of that. Why don't you go to camp X if you don't like it here?" I think that would have been a constant threat with them. We would have offered them an exit, and they could have made that decision for themselves. But it was never acted upon until it was far too late.


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Well, to start back, the whole thing was wrong; the people involved in it were not experienced in it. There was no firm or continuing philosophy handed down to us, because nobody had the basis for a philosophy. Everybody was interested in the war and they weren't interested in these Japanese Americans out there. They practically did the same thing during World War I with the Germans, and we learned lessons from it.

Hopefully, we've learned some lessons from this, because I think as a nation we have matured, and there are now more thinking people. By God, if we started a war against the Latin American people, and we started something like Manzanar for Latin Americans who were citizens or longtime residents of the United States, I'd become a vociferous leader against it. First, because of my great love for the Latin American people, with whom I have lived for twenty-five years and because I'm only using them as an illustration. I just don't believe in group classifications; in categorizing Japanese relocation camps we have made one of the greatest black marks in the history of democracy. If I were old enough to remember, I'm sure a similar thing happened to the Germans during World War I to a much lesser degree. We didn't go after the Germans in World War II. As I recall, the Office of Naval Intelligence and the FBI strongly opposed the Army proceeding with mass evacuation of those of Japanese ancestry. They said, "We know who they are, and how they're operating, and we can handle them, so just leave us alone, and leave them in a place where we can locate them." But General DeWitt, and, I think, President Roosevelt, made up their minds. I always blamed DeWitt for it, but I'm not sure he was really responsible.


Hansen

Some say that in a democracy you ultimately must put the blame on the person who signs the executive order. In this case, Franklin Roosevelt.


Campbell

He signed the executive order, but I could see how DeWitt would be frightened; I could see how all the Army and Navy people were frightened at the time. Behind their fear lay a reason. Some historians that I've read believe the Japanese could have moved right into the West Coast at that time, and probably could have made a very successful beachhead here, had they tried to then.


Hansen

Were you ever frightened while you were in the camp that your life was in danger?


Campbell

I don't frighten easily. I've been shot at close range; it hasn't frightened me--it's infuriated me.


Hansen

So it wasn't something you thought about?


Campbell

No, I don't think so. I think I became frightened that day after I went back to my room and began to think of how thin the walls were in the building I was living in, in which my wife and child--they were very dear to me--also lived, and I was frightened for them. One of those half-intelligent, 83 IQ soldiers out there could easily have


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pulled a trigger and one of those shots could have gone through the walls and through one of us en route. I was thinking more of my family, and certainly not of me.


Hansen

Let's review the events during the afternoon and night of the riot. In the afternoon you met with some of the internees, and from what I understand, some of them were pushing and shoving you.


Campbell

No, I don't think they ever laid their hands on me. One of them said something to me that infuriated me. I stepped toward him with the idea of laying hands on him, and I was prevented from doing so, not by their touching me, but merely by their surging toward me. We're talking about a surge of one step. They were either shaking their fists or making some gestures. At that time I realized I was looking at a hatred that was almost inhuman, and I would have been nothing short of a damned fool to have walked right into that--even with the soldiers standing two or three yards behind me. The only thing that did frighten me was--well, I've been disliked, but as far as I know I've never been hated, as I saw it that day.


Hansen

So you think the soldiers were brought into camp on Merritt's recommendation and not yours? I had the feeling it was you who put out the order.


Campbell

I don't recall. Knowing me, I doubt that it was me. I have a great belief that I can solve problems, and I doubt that I would be the one who yelled for help.


Hansen

Were you in a position to see the riot itself on the night of December 6?


Campbell

I don't even recall the riot. I was in my quarters when I heard the shots, and I remember I cried--my wife remembers that, too.


Hansen

You weren't out there, so you didn't see the actual shooting?


Campbell

No, I was in my quarters. I cry when I think about it today. It absolutely was not necessary. There were several steps I or others could have taken to prevent it.


Hansen

What do you think you could have done?


Campbell

The first thing would be offering to let those ringleaders be the Japanese they wanted to be. Let them wave the flag and march.


Hansen

Do you recall, for instance, why you decided not to let Ueno out of the jail or why you kept Ueno in the jail?


Campbell

I remember nothing of that incident.


Hansen

Shortly thereafter, consequences followed from this--you were let go as assistant project director, forced to resign, so to speak.



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Campbell

I can't even remember the sequence or how I was informed. I don't think I was ever overtly informed of it. Somebody had to take these people over to Death Valley, and I was selected. Probably my first inclination was that they were looking for a way out. They gave me this "very, very important job." It was a miserable little job, living under miserable conditions.


Hansen

Did they put you in charge of the Death Valley camp?


Campbell

Yes, I set it up.


Hansen

How long did you stay there?


Campbell

A couple of weeks. Then it began to dawn on me that this great man that Bob Brown had told me about had feet of clay, regardless of how many halos he had around his head. He was looking after Merritt first, second, and third. After that, Bob would come in fourth, fifth, or sixth, someplace in there. I've met a number of men in my life like Merritt, but now I recognize them.


Hansen

What did you do after you left Death Valley? Were you still with the WRA?


Campbell

I went to San Francisco, to work in the WRA there. I found out they wouldn't let me work, so I resigned after a few months. They'd give me nothing to do. I was being castigated--they were trying to force me to resign.


Hansen

As a result of the Manzanar incident?


Campbell

Evidently. You see, Si Fryer had left, as had most of his close associates. After I resigned, I went back and talked to my old friends at the Red Cross because I wanted to go overseas. I was still determined to do something in the war. Meanwhile, Governor Lehman offered me this job with UNRRA. And since it was a far more attractive job--providing a chance for a great deal more action than being a field director on some little atoll in the Pacific--I jumped at it. It proved to be a very, very interesting job--but also a very frustrating job, because again it didn't materialize. The cookie didn't crumble like everyone thought it would.


Hansen

In the letter you recently wrote to me, you said you did not look back on this particular incident--your stay at Manzanar--as one of the prouder moments in your life. What were you referring to?


Campbell

Being associated with the Japanese relocation, or internment, if you wish. I don't feel any pride in being associated with what I consider to be one of the great blemishes on American democracy. That's what I intended to convey to you.


Hansen

Were you referring to specifics?



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Campbell

Oh, no, just the fact of the relocation--the way it was handled, the brutality of it, the inhumaness of it and everything else, that's what I was referring to.


Hansen

Perhaps you've read somewhere in the newspapers that the Manzanar Committee and the Japanese American Citizens League [JACL] had a plaque placed at Manzanar in spring, 1973. This state historical marker has raised some controversy because of the wording used on the plaque. For instance, they used the designation "concentration camp." Further controversy was sparked by saying, editorially, that the camps were caused by a combination of "hysteria," "racism," and "economic exploitation." What do you think about this controversial wording?


Campbell

If you stop to think about it, "concentration camp" is a relative term. What do we use as a measuring stick--don't we think of German concentration camps?


Hansen

Sometimes people like to call those "death camps."


Campbell

Well, Manzanar was certainly a concentration of people in a camp, so it was a concentration camp in that sense. But, if we use the measuring stick of the German concentration camps, these WRA camps were not. I think the nature of the American people--as miserably as the Japanese were handled--is not to do the German camp type of thing. So I would differ on that, but the rest of the statement, as you reiterate it here, I think is damned accurate.


Hansen

The part about racism and economic exploitation?


Campbell

Yes, I think economic exploitation is what causes our little wars today.


Hansen

Did you feel that sort of combination--of racism and economic exploitation--in operation among the local people surrounding Manzanar? Was there a lot of hostility from the locals?


Campbell

Yes, there was.


Hansen

Did you always live in the camp?


Campbell

Before there were living quarters in the camp, I was living in a hotel in Lone Pine.


Hansen

Did you know people in Lone Pine as a result?


Campbell

I met the editor of the paper, whom I think Bob introduced to me, the person who ran the hotel, and a fellow at the bank; but they were very shallow relationships which only lasted a very short while.


Hansen

Did they direct remarks to you concerning the camp?


Campbell

Not that I recall.



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Hansen

So you weren't disliked because you were involved in the camp?


Campbell

If I was, I was too blase to see it.


Hansen

Did you have friends among the locals?


Campbell

No, because I made no attempt to create any.


Hansen

So it was more or less a self-encapsulated subculture out there at the camp.


Campbell

Yes, entirely. I remember occasionally going down the road to a restaurant because of their wonderful sweetbreads, but we left camp very infrequently. There was just too much work to do. I had a phone installed by my bed, and many nights I was called on because something was happening--mostly insignificant little things. But I wanted to be informed, and I was informed ad nauseam at times.


Hansen

Well, I think we've pretty well covered everything. Is there anything you'd like to add?


Campbell

The only thing I would like to add is that some of these people whose names you've recalled to me today, I felt very, very friendly toward, and I still carry a very soft spot in my heart for them. If you ever see any of them, thank them and tell them that, that's all.

I'm just sorry my memory isn't any more accurate than that, but as I told you in my letter, I am not a person with total recall. I remember the things I like to remember, and try to forget those things I don't like to remember. I had a difficult time remembering Merritt's name, either on the night you called or when I received your letter. I was trying to reconstruct this and Nash's name came back to me for some reason--I don't know why. And then during the night I remembered Merritt's name. I remember I played a great part in his being selected--at Bob Brown's insistence and because of my friendship with Bob--project director. At the time I was rather bitter about his treatment of me, but it's been a part of my philosophy not to retain memories of sad and embittered things. Why not carry the wonderful, beautiful things you've seen in others? I have very few enemies in my own heart, but I could have a hell of a lot of them in their hearts. See, I'm stupid and soft-hearted and illogical and all of the other things, but I don't have too many regrets. I do have some regrets at having gotten trapped into Manzanar through too energetic a desire to participate in the war effort.

By the way, whatever happened to Merritt?


Hansen

He went to work for the War Assets Board after he left Manzanar, then he developed the rapid transit master plan in Los Angeles, and then he died in the 1950s. His son, Pete, who is the city manager of Redlands, California, is still a good friend of Bob Brown's. The Regional Oral History Office at UC Berkeley, began an oral history on Merritt


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in the 1950s, and then a professor from UCLA, Doyce Nunis, finished it up. When they were interviewing Merritt, he apparently couldn't tolerate the interviewing, so he took the interview and converted it into a narrative. It reads somewhat like an apotheosis of himself. And unfortunately, he never gets to Manzanar in his story. The narrative stops with his prewar experiences. I understand from Professor Nunis that he was very ill during this period and died shortly thereafter.


Campbell

Well, he was undoubtedly a very able man, but there are many of these able men. If you look at the history of some of the big corporations today, you'll find these are the people who are making successes. Karl Bendetsen has certainly done very well for himself.


Hansen

What happened to him after the war?


Campbell

He became chairman of the board for Champion Paper, I think. Hell, six months ago I read about him in Business Week. He's been a terrific success in the financial and business world.


Hansen

Do you know anybody else from the WRA?


Campbell

I didn't follow any of them. But two or three of the people at UNRRA joined me overseas, now that I recall. Bob Brown worked for UNRRA in Washington, but he never went overseas.


Hansen

So you really haven't crossed paths with too many of the people you worked with at Manzanar. And I suppose the only person you still see is Bob Brown.


Campbell

We only exchange Christmas cards. He married Si Fryer's secretary, a very, very charming lady. One of the good things that happened to Bob. Have you met her?


Hansen

Yes, I have, and I agree with you that she is indeed a charming person.

Mr. Campbell, on behalf of the California State University, Fullerton, Japanese American Oral History Project, I would like to thank you for your careful attention and considerate devotion to answering the questions to the best of your memory.



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Index