May 23, 1942

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?

May 12, 1942

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.”

Apr. 8, 1942

I never expected to sew up tears in paper market bags in order to make them last. I pick out cloth from the trash can for Grandma’s quilt, and cardboard boxes to make fly swatters. Renée watched the cans go into the incinerator one day—six for us, one less than full for the Chinese. That is about the ratio for America and China as to waste.

Mar. 8, 1942

We are not starving but we thoroughly crave accustomed food. There is a definite unbalance to our diet besides the fact of only two meals a day. We lack enough proteins, sugar, and fat. The children have rice, syrup, and a drink of hot water for breakfast; adults the same, plus weak coffee without milk or sugar. Strawberry jam on a piece of bread for lunch but no soup or tea; a radish for the adults and a piece of O’Racca candy for the children. Gifts from the outside have satisfied my cravings for the moment, but I’m still mad for a twenty-four-hour soak in hot water, in a tub, alone—no fire buckets, no three others splashing cold shower in the small enclosure, all standing on one leg to dress.

Mar. 4, 1942

Annoyances are inevitable in such close proximity and scarcity. One woman who usually loves children hopes not to see any for months after she gets out. Communism or socialism will fail if they disregard privacy. Crowding does not produce efficiency and economy. It wastes too much energy and does not make allowance for relaxation and rest. Men can have barracks if they want them—but give them the children and changing diapers on the floor, lifting constantly, cry, cry, cry, and they’ll change it in a hurry. If it is to be close communal living in the future, I’ll join a real revolution.

Dec. 29, 1941

Weak on mattress. Got up to wash, then collapsed. Seemed to have no middle and my head felt queer. They called us all onto the tennis court and told us that if we did what we were told that the Japanese soldier was kind. We must give up all guns or tell where any were hidden. They had already taken all scissors, nail files, and pointed objects the night before. They seemed as frightened as we. They divided the men into one group, children and older women into another, and younger women into a third, and told us we were to walk in these groups to Camp John Hay. We were to carry blankets or what baggage we could. What we left behind might be taken by truck afterward.


Dec. 27, 1941

The Japanese army took over. They woke us at 11:30 P.M. and kept us standing in one small, crowded room until 2:30 A.M. checking off each one over and over. Finally, they herded us all onto the second story, where we all slept on the wooden floor all night. Mrs. Saleeby was allowed a mattress because of her age. About a dozen of us put our heads on it all around her, our bodies stemming out like rays of the sun. Many did not have blankets, and it was a firetrap. The Japanese officers came about every half hour with heavy clumping boots and sharp staccato talk, would look in, stare at us like zoo animals, then go away. A machine gun was trained on us at the front door.