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.