Again I awakened early, but since I had slept a little, I felt and looked less like a shadowy zombie.
My roommates, old and young, were quieter last night, and the Nips awakened us only twice with their flashlights, grunts, groans, and orders that no one understood.
The bedbugs, however, had multiplied and were on the march, but by now I was less disturbed at the thought of sharing my bed with them.
It was too early to go outside, as the large double doors in the front and rear of the Big House were still barricaded.
Lying on my bed fully dressed, I listened to the symphony of snoring, coughing, and crying, which was occasionally relieved by the characteristic creak of the bejuca beds.
A few of my roommates were preparing to get up, and the little boy near me was back on his old refrain, “Mom, I don’t like this place. Let’s go home!”
I reached for my diary and read what I had written a month ago, and the memory of those clouded and disturbed hours came back to haunt me.
I closed my notebook with a sigh. At least in here we would find less tension and anxiety in our daily existence than we had experienced in the last month.
After straightening my bed, I reached under it to get my pots and dishes for our breakfast.
As usual, Catesy was waiting for me outside the Big House with a smile and a kiss.
Suddenly, we heard a commotion beside us. It was loud and excited talking in Japanese. We turned around and looked into the eyes of two Japanese soldiers who were talking rapidly and moving their hands back and forth in a negative gesture.
We shook our heads, shrugged our shoulders, and eased out of the picture.
“What do you suppose they were so excited about?” I asked Catesy.
“I guess the little runts don’t approve of kissing,” he answered glumly.
With everyone in our party taking turns at the kitchen that now had all the earmarks of a medieval madhouse, we were spared from ulcers. Again we had Cream of Wheat and coffee for breakfast, crackers and cheese for lunch, and cheese, crackers and tea for supper.
When would the Japanese start feeding us?
Perhaps never, for a notice appeared on the large doors of the Big House with these two ominous lines. INTERNEES IN THIS CAMP SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR FEEDING THEMSELVES.
People stopped to read the notice in a dazed manner. Who then would feed them if not the Japs? Were we not in their protective custody?
The enemy had concentrated over three thousand men, women, and children in this camp, and more were coming in daily, and yet they had made no provisions for feeding them.
Furthermore, there were no beds, extra toilets, showers, sinks, cooking stoves, or hospital facilities to care for the sick.
The university had been a day school, and there were no facilities of any kind to house men, women and children.
Fortunately, the weather was in our favor, and we were able to stay outside in the sunshine.
As more people from the city joined us, the camp had all the appearance of a busy ant hill or an Iowa picnic at Long Beach.
People sat in groups on the lawn, eating the provisions they had brought into the camp. The more ambitious and enterprising ones scurried around, trying to build a makeshift fire to heat food and to prepare tea and coffee.
Something would have to be done soon about our cooking, for the small kitchen where we had been preparing our simple meals was becoming more impossible and crowded. And what about our supply of food? When my ten-pound wedge of cheese was gone, what would we eat?
Several days ago a camp hospital was started in the frame building to the left and in the rear of the Big House with makeshift equipment and drugs.
To acquire more equipment and supplies, our doctors had to use patience, tact and flattery. These were important when dealing with the Nips, since the hospital couldn’t get a roll of bandages or a bottle of aspirin without requisitioning it through the Commandant’s office.
I volunteered my services at the hospital today. After I completed my four-hour shift, I went into the kitchen and hinted rather delicately to the woman in charge about doing a little cooking for breakfast.