Diary of Natalie Crouter

Oct. 15, 1942

By chewing on my front teeth I can enjoy one peanut at a time. A number of New England habits have been invaluable in this parsimonious and pioneer existence, habits I didn’t have to acquire. Kidded about them in the past, now they are normal.

Several are showing symptoms of lack of Vitamin B—pains in the hands, numbness of hands and arms as though they had gone to sleep. The doctors give tikitiki. Massage may help, but it is chiefly dietary.

Now there is said to be a battle going on down in the valley below, machine guns and pounders and fighting. It can be seen from the hospital. It may be just ruthless mopping up of a village. Thunder and guns, which is which; we had both today. By dinner time, it had become landings and battle in Lingayen Gulf. While they fight and die in the valley within our sight, flower-arrangement class adjusts bouquets exquisitely on the porch and the choir practices in the nipa shed. After supper, drama, scandal, made its entrance. Mattresses were seen going to the guardhouse, and the word went around that one of the venturesome, young married couples had been caught out of bounds and commingling, both major offenses at the moment.

Miss McKim [Nellie McKim, a bilingual American who served as the internees’ interpreter] went to the guardhouse, a relative went there, a missionary, and both of our liaison men. There was a huge flurry and much stewing. After several hours of talk, scolding from the guard, pleas from Miss McKim, whose tact, diplomacy, and comprehension of Japanese intricacy is above reproach—it was decided the culprits were to remain in a small room at the guardhouse for twenty-four hours, without any mattresses, only blankets and a pillow, to sleep on the floor with a guard between.

Everyone is whispering sympathetically (having the same desire to be normal). A crazy world, the center of the great psychosis War! Our people worked till ten trying to abate the penalty. The humble centers of the storm were finally permitted to return to their separate barracks after that.

A new light was on toward the pigpen, and someone asked, “Aren’t the pigs allowed to commingle either?” Apparently only the goats can be normal in a war-torn world.