Diary of Natalie Crouter

June 30, 1942

Nakamura seemed sorry to go, for he has watched over our trials and tried to straighten out some of the tangled months. We could search far to find one more equable in such an emergency of war and hate. Before he departed he grumbled to someone about wanting to get the women some clothes before he left town.

The truck comes in with Nakamura, his white teeth in a wide smile, on the front seat which is piled with shoes, hats, evening gowns, and coats—““odds and ends from somewhere” they are called.

The gowns are a strange collection for us to carry in piled over our arms. They are not practical for camp wear, even for dressing gowns or housecoats, for the material is too elegant to be worn before the eyes of soldier guards who are curious. The gowns bring the past before us. Their appearance aroused mixed sensations. There before us in smooth, shining black satin, diamond shoulder straps, silver lamé, suave cut, shape, and design, the last word in style before bombs—we have not seen such beauty of line for six months, and it mixes oddly with the barracks mops in kerosene tins, garbage bins, and waitresses. That pile of rich material coming into our isolation and severe war atmosphere makes the other life seem very distant. Frenchheeled slippers, delicate cut-velvet, expensive cloth fashioned into coats soft to touch. The gowns are marked “A.Q” (Aurora Quezon)—Paris, London, and American models of the First Lady of the Philippines. Some announce “original model,” many have scarcely been tried on, not really worn. They were being looted, rescued and sent here, another gift from Nakamura. It is a farewell gesture from one who had only loot to give us.