Someone said today, “This is going to be a long war.” It has been a long war, and I wish it were nearer the end, but I am afraid it isn’t. I also wish I were in camp, life would be considerably simpler. Too much responsibility. Fancy regretting the “pleasures” of a prison camp! I get in there pretty often, with the packages and stuff and they certainly have their problems. Actually the American Committee seems to be in full charge, with the Japanese over them. The internees themselves don’t have much contact with the Japs.
The camp problems are tricky. In the very beginning of the internment, the segregation of sexes was insisted
upon by the Japanese, men being housed in buildings separate from the ladies. They did offer, at the begin-
ning, to arrange a sort of “community love nest,” suggesting a modus operandi that offended the American
sense of propriety. So the Japanese forbade all marital association. The shacks that they had allowed the Americans to build were under constant supervision and all four sides must be open to constant inspection. But there were cases evidently where the supervision didn’t work and nature took its course. The Japs were very indignant and issued an order to the effect that “all pregnant fathers” (their phrase) were to be imprisoned in the camp jail and the pregnant mothers were to be sent to a hospital, confined in one ward, to await the babies. I quote here the notice of the Executive Committee of the Americans pursuant to this touchy subject:
NOTICE TO ALL WOMEN INTERNEES
(TO BE READ AT ROLL CALL BY THE ROOM MONITORS)
Conditions which prompted Executive Committee notice of December 26, wherein it was stressed that internees must conduct themselves strictly in accordance with segregation of sexes in order to avoid actual segregation have now been aggravated by a recent development which has resulted in the following order from the Japanese Commandant:
“ALL CASES OF PREGNANCY WITHIN THIS CAMP MUST BE REPORTED TO THE COMMANDANT NOT LATER THAN NOON MONDAY.”
In view of the confidential nature of this report, all women internees, married or single, who are now pregnant, whether or not they have already discussed their cases with one of the camp doctors, must report to one of the doctors at the Camp Hospital before eleven o’clock Monday, so that a complete report may be prepared by the Camp Medical Director.
This situation is not only embarrassing but extremely serious and immediate compliance by all concerned is imperative. The Commandant’s instructions are mandatory and failure to report as ordered will probably result in punishment by the Japanese Authorities of the individuals and impairment of camp privileges for all internees.
signed: THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
In talking about this today with some of the girls who are out of camp because of their small children, I said: “Well, it’s inevitable that sex should rear its ugly head,” and one girl replied: ‘‘What’s so ugly about it?” Another chimed in: ‘“There seems to be more conversation about sex these days, and less of it.”…
I am still being educated by Hi. I really appreciate the beautiful English and prose style of Mr. Cabell, but I’m an incurable optimist and I still have a sense of humor—which I badly need in this establishment.
My old Frenchman is still with me. I now have learned that there is a price on his head in China and Japan for his Free French activities. He has been deprived of his French citizenship by the Vichy consul here and he really needs help. But is he a trial! Sometimes I get so exasperated with him I wish they’d collect the price! He keeps my garden in beautiful shape, but I don’t dare pick a single flower. He quarrels with me about his cat, an alley kitten we picked up starving, and which he’s turned into a gourmet. It doesn’t like carabao milk—who does! But we have to use it. I wish he’d tell the cat there’s a war on. My poor dog has to eat corn meal mush along with the rest of us.
I’ve got another couple paroled to me, the husband being more or less a diamond in the rough. But one of
the few pleasures of this war was introducing him to the English written word. Unfortunately he chose to commence his English-reading career with a biography of Napoleon which dealt rather extensively with the love life of Napoleon. So now the D.I.R. is an authority on that subject in audible and bad English.
This annoys Hi, who is erudite, cosmopolitan, elegant and a purist in speech. He is also the proud possessor of duodenal ulcers which keep him out of camp—temporarily.
Mary is still with me, as is Lucienne. Mary is restless and unhappy, and I don’t blame her. Life is dull without Fred. We have temporary guests for a few days or a week at a time. Barbara was out for a time, husband being in the hospital. Marge was out for a week. I enjoyed having them.
Margaret is our saddest case. She has anemia and seems in sort of a daze all the time. I took her medical pass into Santo Tomas a few days ago and did I get a fright. Instead of extending it for a month as they have been doing, all medical-pass holders were told to wait for an interview with the Japanese doctors. I didn’t know exactly what to do. But I showed up with the pass and papers prepared to state the case. The Jap doctor? He was a chiropodist, I understand. Couldn’t understand that I wasn’t the subject of the pass, and somewhere in the medical report it said something about a gall bladder operation. The Jap wanted to examine mel! I was frantic, but the missionary doctor internee came to my rescue and explained to said chiropodist that I was not the one! I got an extension for her, however. I am afraid her mind is affected. She picks the cuticle from around her nails all day long and stares into space.
It’s a dull war. And I, who as owner of the smart French restaurant saw everyone enter its portals, liked everyone and purveyed onion soup to the accompaniment of smart chatter to the wild, wide, world, am now the harassed Prisoner of Zamora (name of our street).
What a rat I am to complain! Think of the prisoners and internees who are really in trouble. I am a panty-waist to even confide such complaints to a diary.
To amuse myself I have been making a collection of odd signs. Here’s one from the tramcars, a series of cards over the seats:
SPITTING IS DO NOT SPIT SPIT IN UNHEALTHY ON THE FLOOR CUSPIDOR (picture of spitter) (picture of cuspidor) OR OR OR SPIT IN HAND- SPIT IN PAPER CULTIVATED KERCHIEF (picture of PEOPLE (illustrated) Kleenex box) DO NOT SPIT AT ALL and to the latter card someone added: THEY SWALLOW
Fine way to pass the war! Bickering over cat chow, snickering over tram signs, poking fun at the idiosyncrasies of my paying guests. I am getting to be an unpleasant person. I don’t like Me.
One thing. The radio has been out of order. Henry is trying to repair it. Fool to have it, for it’s surely a one-way ticket to Fort Santiago. I only have it for myself, for I do not dare tell anyone in the house I have it; and so far as getting news into Santo Tomas is concerned, I just stick my neck out for nothing. Their “rumor radio” functions better than anything I can produce. I heard just the other day that we have one hundred and fifty transports off Davao! Radio doesn’t say anything that good.
I’d surely like to see the files of the United States newspapers now! Sitting out here in the backwash of this war, we’re the original forgotten man. No more thought of us than of a trapped tree-sitter of other years.