Toyko rages over our inhuman treatment of internees in America, moving them from camp to camp making a seventy-year-old man work, kicking a thirteenyear-old boy in the stomach, etc. It sounds like our complaints.
After the evening lecture came the fashion show with the parade of Concentration Modes, Inc. Much curtain material was in evidence. Delia, Inc., made up two denim work-suit models for the hospital staff that were very snappy.
We had a package from Miss Ramos with a pineapple pie at which we gazed and gazed. There were sausages, lemons, and candy. Daddy came to eat the pie with us on the front porch, with sub-coffee (grounds used more than twice) with milk. We gave the children each a full glass of milk, their second in eight months.
Jim Halsema was announcer for Major Bozo hour, our first Amateur Night, with Concentration Rice the sponsor—“in seven different flavors—burnt, coconut, caramel, perspiration, cockroaches, fish, and syrup.” Carol sang hillbilly songs and yodeled; little Francie sang “Smile Awhile,” each winning first and second prizes, which are said to be a ride on the garbage wagon to Trinidad. Rae recited her concentration version of the poem about the tropics, ending “Oh, how I want to go home!” Mr. Perry fluted and Alice and Gerry sang in spite of an attack of stage fright. There is a new theme song with words and music by Marvin Dirks, “Have you tried rice? It’s the best food in all of the land.” This brought thunderous applause and cheering no end, with the evening a howling success.
In some ways I live in a world of my own with these notes that are an outlet, saving wear and tear on other people. Perhaps everyone should keep notes for a healthy mind.
Instead of church in the barrack room, I went to visit the shop. A list of the things that they have manufactured and that are important to our existence are: a solder holder made out of part of an electric-light fixture; the portable grinder and buffer are made from a windshield-drying motor from an automobile, the pistol grip on it is a piece of carabao horn; a charcoal burner has been constructed from the base of an old road roller, with an Army field safe for a door, a base of rocks and dirt; name plates for camp members and a copper soap dish beaten by hand were made from a whole fire extinguisher; numerous frying pans have come into being from cable reels and parts of old safes; watch crystals have been ground from window glass, old light bulbs, and celluloid—they took a ten-cent glass cutter and ground the wheel so as to cut the glass; the hinge for eyeglasses was made from trophy plates and the fire extinguisher; knives have been evolved from auto springs and old files; the ladle to stir rice was conjured from an old trench shovel, with its handle an old athletic javelin; a knife blade is from a ballbearing cup, the hilt a plate from a National Cash Register, the handle of leather disks from cartridge pouches, the end knob from a rifle cleaning rod.
Jerry fried out some pork and he gave me some of the crisp remains. It tasted so good and I was so hungry for it that I cried over it and couldn’t talk. He fried up some rice with the grease, and June and I ate it with our fingers, out of a bowl. Jerry understood how I felt emotionally wrought up over that meat with real flavor, for he says they feel the same way on the hill at noon [Jerry is on the woodcutting crew]—the stomach runs out to meet the food and all the juices start flowing.
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.
Rumor now says that Nakamura [the camp commandant] is being promoted to Tarlac Prison Camp, where our Army is located. He is gratified but still asks for a recommendation from our committee, which delights us. Prisoners whose words count for nothing, asked to say a good word for their overlord.
June is drawing paper-doll clothes in the dining room. The fresh sergeant stops to watch it. He takes a pencil, draws kimonos showing the men’s short sleeve, the girl’s sleeve which is shorter than that of a wife. In three lines he drew Fujisan with a cloud in front of it. Later we asked him to draw it on another sheet and he drew it with exactly the same cloud. He showed great distress because the American women wear pants. “Men, boys, yes. Japanese women, no!” He also dislikes the way we push and pull doors, for he gave a graceful pantomime of Japanese women kneeling, sliding the door slowly, quietly, instead of an energetic pull, push. As I watched him working hard over his pencil drawing, I noted U.S. buttons on his American Army coat, which being too long had been cut off at the bottom by scissors or a knife (perhaps the bayonet). The soldier is age twenty-six. How old was the American boy?
The old guards let the garbage detail go on a shopping spree before they departed, knowing full well that the new guards will be tough for awhile. In our better moments, they liked us and we liked them when not under pressure from above. The gold-tooth boy, the huge fellow with big teeth in an enormous grin—all are gone. The new ones seem small in stature by comparison. Two cars of officers, one looking like the high command, came on a tour of inspection of all the buildings. As he left the grounds, he said to a group of internees, “I am sorry you stay here. Sometime good-bye.”