APEX Express

APEX Express – 8.4.22 – Campu Latrines Episode 5

A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.

This episode is from the organization Densho and their podcast series Campu where brother and sister, Noah and Hannah Maruyama tell the story of the Japanese American incarceration as you’ve never heard it before.


[00:00:00] Good evening, everyone. You’re listening to APEX Express Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. My name is Swati Rayasam, and I’m the special editor for this episode. Tonight we continue to highlight our sister organization Densho and their podcast series Campu where brother and sister, Noah and Hannah Maruyama tell the story of the Japanese American incarceration as you’ve never heard it before.

[00:00:56] Tonight’s episode is called “Latrines,” which [00:01:00] delves into a critical, but often ignored component of history…the bathroom. The episode explores the physical and emotional obstacles that Japanese incarcerees navigated at the camps specifically around privacy, personal safety and human dignity. They also highlight how those incarcerated built, what was not built for them with ingenuity and how the community took their own accessibility and personal safety into their own hands.

[00:01:27] Here’s Hannah.

[00:01:29] This is a story about the lavatory. That’s how Mariana south Grove Sue an ISA woman begins the tail.

[00:01:40] This is a story about the laboratory. There was a huge hole below you, a big one, then a two by 400. Between that side and this side , as you know, you lower your hips quick,[00:02:00]

[00:02:02] just like that. At first, when we entered the camp, lack of privacy, profoundly shaped the day to day experience of the camps and the barracks mess hall. Classrooms laundry rooms, latrines everywhere. Really. We ate together, showered together, CLL in the barracks at the assembly centers. The walls didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling.

[00:02:24] Sounds carried to say the least each family was assigned one rule with partition, but no ceiling. So you can hear the neighbors talking, somebody laying a farm on the run. The.

[00:02:36] The communal latrines and showers only amplified these problems. There were only two latrines in the whole area. 3000 people were there. There were several showers in that room, but there’s only one showroom. And this episode, we’re going to talk about everything you never wanted to know about the latrines and what goes on inside them.

[00:02:57] And it’s not all about poop. I [00:03:00] promise from Ben show I’m Hannah Maruyama, and this is. Before we get started. I want to give you a heads-up. This episode will contain discussions of sexual violence and. When incarcerees first arrived at the assembly centers, the lack of privacy was extremely jar. When we went to camp, we’re used to privacy.

[00:03:21] We never even undressed in front of our sisters. You know, I remember I hated to go to the bathroom, get. John’s where the toilet side was just one wooden plank with holes in it. You just sitting on these holes, two feet apart. So if you’re going, you’re sitting there rubbing elbows and then a gush of water every once in a while coming through Clara, my mother kept saying either or a skirt or.

[00:03:47] Thank you magazine. We call them eight passenger coops. Same as a shower. There were no shower, curtains, no partitions, no nothing. Just a way to open. And it was a really bad smell. Terrible. [00:04:00] There was just one partition and the women were on the other side of the partition where on this side, people could be walking up above on a little catwalk.

[00:04:08] And so you had to take a shower in your bathing suit. At first, it was very hard for us and especially. Women, some of the older women who were very modest people like my mother, she would go really late at night. We’d stay up late, hoping to take us somewhere where her neighbors who weren’t around during the midnight hours so that nobody could see them.

[00:04:27] Oh, well, no one else was taking a shower. First thing in the morning before anybody got up, I mean, it was still dark. They all stayed up late and they don’t want it to take their shower and privacy. And would, you know, there was a whole bunch of people already there thinking the same thing. It wasn’t. All that public display and taking a shower with multiple people was very devastating.

[00:04:49] I felt like a criminal at that time, particularly if you were modest and shy, that was very hard to accept the invasion and that wasn’t [00:05:00] the worst of it. Once they would gave us kind of in the. They gave it to us for several days. Never all everybody ate the same food in the same mess halls and use the same latrines.

[00:05:13] Maybe you see where we’re going with this the first week there everyone got everybody’s got people, got food poisoning. The runs that was very common in camp. The refrigeration system with inadequate refrigeration in the middle of summer and untrained chefs suddenly tasked with preparing food for hundreds of people, food poisoning ran rampant and the assembly center.

[00:05:33] Whole blocks of people, 200 plus could come down with food poisoning in a moment. I mean, I was walking across the camp. I just jumped in every candidate that came by long lines would form outside the latrines. But when you’ve got the runs waiting in line, isn’t really an option. You look up and you’ll see this gal mopping the floor by now.

[00:05:53] I will get used to anything since she said lift. And the guy standing there jumping up and down and [00:06:00] he just can’t wait. So he just walked into the shower, turned it on. Nobody had anything to say. Cause we were all in the same. Got the runs, kept the cab half alive. It might sound funny, but remember, this was the 1940s in a concentration camp.

[00:06:19] He say a first-generation woman came up to her and said, they’re going to poison this as we’re all gonna die. And we’ll never leave. There were only two doctors in Fresno assembly center and the hospital, if it could even be called that only had castor oil and rubbing alcohol for supplies, no antibiotics, which weren’t available to civilians anyways or Ivy back.

[00:06:39] Dr. Kiko H Tyra had placed an order for additional supplies weeks ago, but the administration told him that they needed six months to complete his order. The culprit on this particular occasion was a bad batch of macaroni salad. Dr. Tyra later said that steadily stuff in the summer. Finally, the social welfare chairman went into town [00:07:00] on an emergency basis to buy.

[00:07:02] Dr. Tyra later said in an oral history that people quote were falling down here and there. And so they were brought to the hospital by the stretcher. At one point, he thought some were going to die. Fortunately, none did Fresno. Wasn’t the only assembly center to struggle with food poisoning. A PLF, a guard became increasingly alarmed when he saw crowds of people hurrying to the latrines.

[00:07:25] One night in the middle of the night, you had the run. So you had people wanting to latrine. Everybody was rushing to the bathroom simultaneously. They all went toward the toilet. Sometimes you had to go. Because he blocks to get to the bathroom, got caught a Friday. And I remember the guards on top of the grand stand, turned the floodlights on, turned the light on and their guns down at us in the guard tower that they’re going to be a rocket.

[00:07:53] Is everybody ready for the little tree? It wasn’t a standard. But it was just, everybody wanted a problem, but he’s fooling around in the [00:08:00] edge. You go up the ladder to this platform. But as a holder, I kinda stood, he fell down, fell through there. Some got used to the latrines pretty soon. You know, you just think like, What are all the same, so let it all hang out.

[00:08:17] What else could we do if after go other incarcerees found ways to cope with the lack of privacy, enterprising girl who somehow found a large cardboard. Oh, she had to go path where she would carry that and put around her. We find her cardboard, pick it up and we store it in a certain part of electric rain.

[00:08:37] And when we get enough mate stalls for the winner, the ladies, they got cardboard and they made their own park issue. I think some enterprising person evasive, I got partitions, but it was a wide open and are period. You know, what are you going to do? So we told him my brother, you have to help. At least find something that we could put at the last [00:09:00] door and then we will watch.

[00:09:02] So he looked around and he found a cardboard and he put it up every time anybody would like that would said, go in there. We’ll watch you. You know, and that really helped. That really helped. Otherwise it was just gruesome. The facilities eventually got better when the incarcerees got to the more permanent WRA concentration camps, but not immediate.

[00:09:22] The WRA had to build 10 cities from the ground up. Here’s Dr. Connie Chang, author of nature behind barbed wire, an environmental history of the Japanese American incarceration, or sort of for the most part built from scratch. And so the WRA was looking at housing 8,000 to as many as 18,000 people in these camps, composed of hundreds of barracks, hundreds of barracks.

[00:09:47] There are divided into blocks. And each block had two rows of about seven barracks and in the center of these rows where the latrine and the showers and the [00:10:00] laundry and things of this, and obviously there was a great deal of infrastructure that was necessary. So not just sanitation and sewage systems, but water, supply, electricity, plumbing, all of those things needed to be devoted.

[00:10:13] One of the first things that army Corps of engineers had to do when it was evaluating potential sites was figuring out where all that waste was going to go. In general. There would be some method of taking the waste from the latrines and elsewhere in the camp to some sort of centralized sewage treatment plant.

[00:10:33] And then from there, the sewage would be treated sometimes chlorinated. Then from there discharged onto the land. In some way or into some sort of water. Sanitation is a major concern in an ordinary city, but when one pops up almost overnight, it was a nightmare. I believe the camps were built very fast and sometimes the quality of materials they used was not top-notch given that there are many materials shortages [00:11:00] during the war.

[00:11:00] And so that created problem. There is simply the fact that, you know, you had thousands of people living in these camps. So that created problems as well. The latrines often weren’t finished. When the incarcerees arrived, we got off the train, they were still putting in the sewer and they were still putting in the pipes and things like that.

[00:11:19] There were all houses. Just tell him, cause they’re laying the shoreline and the water line and all that. I guess they tried. Build things so fast that the sewage system wasn’t working and oh, that was really, really smelly by the end of September at Granada 29 blocks were populated, but only 12 had plumbing.

[00:11:40] When toilets were used before the water had been connected, a cleanup host squad was created to deal with the mess. At Minidoka the sewage system was not fully operational in August, 1942. When the first incarcerees arrived or four months later in December, the residents were still using outdoor latrines in Idaho during the time of [00:12:00] year, when the average high is 27 degrees Fahrenheit.

[00:12:02] And the average low is negative two first year, we didn’t have a sewage plant. So the option was outhouses different odd house for men and women. Each block had. And I think there were six Cedars by springtime. Yeah. Had to dig new holes for the outhouses covered up the old holes. Cause they were getting pretty full.

[00:12:25] I think it was almost a year before we had sewage facility. And then there were maintenance problems. Sometimes pumps would break down. There would be clogs. There’d be sewage backups as the camp populations grew. So did the strain on these systems at Topaz? The effluent was discharged into a slew that was about a half mile from the center of the camp.

[00:12:49] And. And D created a nuisance, at least a nuisance that the WRA officials were aware of because of the odor. And also because it was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Uh, so they [00:13:00] eventually began to drain the slew into another ditch, um, which was another couple miles from the center. And this, this confined the water to a smaller area and sort of helped.

[00:13:12] The mosquito problem under control a two eight. It says Jimmy Yamaichi who worked as an engineer. Most 20,000 people living there. And the well system was made for 15,000 people. And as part of our job to watch the water intaking, the camp sores and powers. But the sooner we can take care of that, they build extra solar plant later, but hundreds of acres was just flooded out there, raw sewer out there.

[00:13:38] Those are spread diseases. If it wasn’t disposed of properly, it attracted mosquitoes and other bugs. It could get into the groundwater or start leaking into the streets. Yeah, that actually happened at healer river. One of the pipes failed. So there are large pools of sewage that formed in the camp. And so the WIC staff had to use bulldozers to turn [00:14:00] over the sewage, mix it with sand and dirt.

[00:14:03] The Japanese Americans who were living in the camp at the time had to sort of navigate around these open ditches of sewage. There are planks placed over, uh, some of the open dishes and so on. And so. This was unpleasant during the day. But if you had used latrines at night, these ditches could become perilous.

[00:14:21] Japanese Americans were perhaps out at night where they couldn’t see very well possibility that they might fall into an open ditch of, you know, untreated SU. Uh, in fact, the road was fondly dubbed sewer lane by young people. And that wasn’t the only place that got a nickname based on its proximity to the sewers.

[00:14:40] Yukio Koa, Ritani lived in block 34 at two liters. We were on the corner of the cab, which was close to the effluent or sewage treatment. So it was pretty stinky. In fact, the blocks in that portion of the camp are called sewer Heights. You get used to the smell, but then when you ever, you had [00:15:00] visitors that had always say, how can you still have the stench?

[00:15:04] But anyway, but that’s where we were cumulated and a pond out on the edge of camp in the winter. That pond froze. I remember my tap dancing teacher. We used to skate on the sewer bond and. So he fell through and I laughed my head. The toilets and showers and sinks required constantly. My mom, because she had five kids that she fought during the day, she had to be with the children, take care of children.

[00:15:35] She would work at night when the kids were sleeping or she could work sometime when she didn’t need to watch the kids. So she took the job as a janitor to clean the latrines, both men and women’s green and the shop. And the boilers had to be maintained or the pipes might freeze. And if it got cold enough, first, my dad was in charge of the boiler room and it kept the fires going for the [00:16:00] hot water for the laundry and the shower rooms, coal burning furnace.

[00:16:03] He’d take care of that during the day. At Minidoka the administration tried to cut the number of boiler men and janitors in summer 1943. The increased workload was somewhat manageable during the summer, but less so during the winter, when boilers had to be maintained at all hours, the boiler men and the janitor.

[00:16:22] Essentially went on strike Minidoka was called upon to reduce its workforce. This was coming from the national WRA office and they were telling all the camps that they had, the reduce the number of employees. So the Minidoka officials decided that they were going to cut down on the number of boiler men and janitors.

[00:16:40] And all of the blocks, this was a big deal in the winter because you know, Idaho, it was cold and you needed the boiler men to maintain the heat and the latrines and make sure that the pipes didn’t phrase, uh, make sure that there’s access to warm water. And in addition, they also had to take on additional duties of cleaning latrines.[00:17:00]

[00:17:00] The strike was unsuccessful. The WRA refused to budge. And when community leaders suffering from the lack of heat in the bathrooms during the Idaho winter asked the boiler men to return to work. They reluctantly did. But even with the boiler men working the latrines or freezing cold, there was no heat at all the bathrooms and the track to and from the latrines in the middle of winter was unpleasant to say the least in the winter time, first winter was kind of.

[00:17:27] And he would resist having to go to the bathroom for as long as he could try. And it was so cold and windy. You couldn’t go in the middle of the night in your pajamas all the way to the communal bathroom. Yeah, because our toilets and bathrooms are way far away. And in the middle of the night, people don’t want to go in the freezing cold to go to the bathrooms, but the incarcerees came up with a solution.

[00:17:51] The Chomper, my father had set up a big bucket, uses a. Toilet thing for the little ones more commonly known as a chamber pot [00:18:00] Chumba was the Issei transliteration of the term. My father one of the most popular things that people purchased and the stores kept running out of was chamber pots. Heather Herano, his family came prepared.

[00:18:13] We had to wait until we recalled. And then we carried only the things that we had. I always carried the gym pot. I knew that would be an important thing for family. And most of us purchased chamber pots. So we wouldn’t have to go out at night. He bought a chamber pot for us children. I was six and a half to me.

[00:18:33] It was too frightening. So I used a little chamber pot in our parish. The trompo was helpful for many, but it was absolutely indispensable for Betty saccharine who used a wheelchair to get around her brother. Richard explains any further than that, the wheelchair wouldn’t go up and down the stairs. And if she would’ve got down to the ground, of course it was muddy.

[00:18:56] So she couldn’t live. Of course that we’re going to the bathroom [00:19:00] facilities in the barracks. So, uh, my parents asked me to build a little chair for my sister. They could put a chamber pot underneath, so somehow or other, I found some tools. So I’ve gathered that pieces of lumber together and build a sheet.

[00:19:17] And cut a hole in the seat of the thing there and measured underneath it just enough. So that the chamber part, we just slip underneath the hole and my sister could use that as a toilet. I did that at the assembly center and their dog. You, my dad was elderly for having somebody my age. He was 55 when I was.

[00:19:39] When you get old, you have to urinate in the evenings and when it was snowing and everything. So I remember my mom had a bottle and she would put it there for him. Traumas don’t exactly clean themselves. And the morning it was the girl’s duties to go and empty it out that she, she would freeze in the winter.

[00:19:55] That’s how cold it was. Our duty to clean out the chamber pots in the morning, [00:20:00] you know, always said is take the chamber pot out my older brother. And I never took the chamber pot, but Chumba.

[00:20:09] Actually, you didn’t want to be seen carrying it. Some jumbos were a multipurpose. Sarah was a lady that used to make skim on them in the chamber. And when I was sick, this lady was kind enough to me, some old skim on over for me and bring it over. And my friends wouldn’t let me eat it because they said, how can you, how do you know she did make a move?

[00:20:34] You know what I mean? A mistake. So I never ate her old skim over, but I always have to tell her how nice it was. And thank you very much. I never knew the lady was, but she was always being, you know, let’s give him one over, but my friend says, nah, that’s it. That’s it food. Wasn’t the only thing you could make.

[00:20:54] An a Chumba the one thing they didn’t allow was liquor in the calves and a good friend that [00:21:00] he went and sat on his army, cotton. He said, come here. And he reached under the bed and pulled out of the chamber pot and took the lid off, give us a cup. He said, Hey, have a drink. These are brand new pots. He says totally had drink the wine on camera.

[00:21:18] But for the most part, the Chumba had one specific and important ABC radio has always had a chamber box. So the females could, instead of walking to the toilet could go there at night. My mother wouldn’t need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. So she had a chamber pot, like many women as kids.

[00:21:37] Need a lot of fun of chamber bucks. Of course it was metals on the co-writer is a big clank, but everybody pretended not to notice the hair that chamber pots, clanging, embarrassment aside, these ISA woman and anyone else who used the Tromba we’re onto something. Navigating your way to the latrine at night was not easy.

[00:21:57] It was dark unless the guard spotlight was following [00:22:00] you and incarcerees were not allowed to carry flashlights or lanterns. Chang explains the story of a man who basically got lost. He was wandering around, outside looking for the latrine and he wandered around for about an hour before he finally found shelter in another dining hall, the trombone was also more convenient, no bad, man.

[00:22:19] I dunno, bits going all the way to the toilet, wherever that. Especially, because you never knew who might be watching in the latrines one time taking a shower. My girlfriend, who is on the shy side, I said, Hey, Nancy, you know that guy’s looking at you through his tape hall because we had a boiler man, that at just the temperature though, on the other side, what are you doing over there?

[00:22:49] But the girls found out that they were fevers up there. They used to holler in unison. What did they holler? PP?[00:23:00]

[00:23:03] God, that was funny. You should’ve heard all the fire guys scurry off. But these situations were really nothing to laugh at. Here’s Nina Wallace, who has written about sexual assault in the camps for Densho. The latrines were a big site for sexual harassment for, in some cases, even assaults and you know, just a lot of, kind of generally creepy behavior that maybe.

[00:23:30] Documented sexual assault and rape were both under reported and covered up by the WRA and other incarcerees. You see women working as secretaries or clerks or hospital aides, but you know, you don’t see. As many women, for example, working for the Japanese evacuation and resettlement study, which is where a lot of information about sexual violence came from.

[00:23:57] And you don’t really [00:24:00] get the perspective of people who maybe have experienced this or have a closer. Knowledge and understanding of what sexual violence looks like. So you see a lot of people kind of dismissing stories, dismissing that as rumors or even cases where you see people, excuse me. Uh, excuse me, rapes may too.

[00:24:26] Butchy story is a heartbreaking example of how the community at postin and those placed in charge of chronicling, the incarceration dismissed or excused. Sexual violence may was 24. She was incarcerated in, in with her dad and she had dated this older man who worked in the mess hall with her. She ended this relationship and her ex did not take kindly to this E for months after they broke up.

[00:24:58] And what stalk her [00:25:00] around the cab would threaten her, would force his way into her barracks to try to get her back. I guess finally, after a few months, He snuck into her room while she was sleeping and stabbed her multiple times. And she, after a few days in the hospital died, her murderer escaped into the desert.

[00:25:26] A search party went after him, but he was never found in the notes from Richard Moto, who was one of the field workers for GE. And he describes what happened to her that there’s just no sympathy for this woman. You know, he has several pages of his journal and he just talks about essentially her sexual history and her physical appearance.

[00:25:54] And that’s really all that. He had to say about her. Sometimes family members also pressured [00:26:00] victims to excuse or legitimize sexual abuse. There was one case where there was this teenage girl. I think she was maybe like 14, 15, something like that. And she was pregnant after being raped by I think a family friend.

[00:26:20] And it was something that had gone on for. A couple of years before two became pregnant and her father actually was pressuring her to marry this man who had abused her too. I think the phrase that he used was to legitimize the child, this girl, actually, even though she was facing all of this pressure from her family, she actually, she didn’t give into it.

[00:26:47] She did. Decide to marry her rapist. I have no idea what happened to this girl. That’s kind of where her story in the record ends, but it [00:27:00] takes a lot of courage and a lot of bravery to advocate for yourself in that situation.

[00:27:15] Dr. Tommy Suchi Alma’s field notes for the Japanese evacuation and resettlement study described how dangerous the latrine specifically could be. Two Chiama was the only Japanese American woman to work full-time for the study on December 16th, 1943 to. Then a graduate student wrote last night, one middle-aged man sat in the woman’s latrine of his block.

[00:27:37] There was a girl taking a shower. Then another girl about 16 years of age came into the latrine. He approached this girl flashed a $5 bill and asked her to go to bed with her. She was frightened and stood still for a moment, the man left, but the girl was too frightened to leave the latrine. When the other girl finished her shower, the two left together, they saw the man still lurking in [00:28:00] the darkness at the corner of the building.

[00:28:02] The man was briefly confined in jail and then released on farm work and we knew about it, but, um, it was something that was, you know, now it’s called. Uh, Tuli lake, a group of men attacked the woman. And one of the latrines, a group of key bay turned off the electricity to a women’s latrine and then actually went inside and raped the women who happened to be inside the latrine.

[00:28:29] It sounds like it was, you know, multiple victims and multiple rapists, and it was something that. It sounded like everyone in the camp knew about and heard about after the fact and after that women would not go to the latrines alone. Like they would always be accompanied by a husband or a father because it wasn’t safe to go on your own.

[00:28:57] Nico Yamamoto remembers taking [00:29:00] precautions when using the trains at Tuli lake later in life. If you’re taking a shower. And she is in the bathroom. Somebody would come in, sneak in, you get a fault. They’ll want salt too. So they said don’t ever go late at night. All of this made bathing and extremely stressful experience.

[00:29:22] They have a holes in a roof or something before camp Japanese baths, or had been an important relaxation ritual in Japanese families. And to a lot of Japanese taking a bath or taking a shower is not simply getting clean, but it’s relaxing. It’s soothing. It’s really a period of the day to kind of unwind they’d Andress, washed themselves outside, and then they get into.

[00:29:47] And they soaked himself real. And I believe that’s one of the injured historians of trace bathing and Japanese culture back. As far as the third century, both Shinto and Buddhist [00:30:00] traditions use bows for religious purification. Baz were also thought to heal everything from diarrhea to colds, to skin diseases, arthritis, nerve damage, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and mental health.

[00:30:12] On top of that, it was a great way to relax as several have pointed out. I don’t Basma the greatest things. You know, they were very relaxing. What you do in the Japanese tradition, you just soap yourself and wash yourself and enriched yourself off real thoroughly outside of the tub. And then you get inside the tub to soak and relax.

[00:30:31] Your eco Yamamoto enjoyed baths in the photo before camp. But even after an old photo was built at heart mountain. She was afraid to use it. They said there was a teepee Tom. So that was kind of fate to camp. Took that small pleasure away from her too. But some did find ways to enjoy a bath, even in camp.

[00:30:48] In some cases, people put barrels in the showers to use as a pub was a shower. And I knew you had the little barrels that you could use as a. In a pinch, the wash [00:31:00] basins in the laundry room would do as a, for little kids and the wash house. There were these double that. And because, you know, we were kids we’d just go in there at nighttime and take bats and there we’d fill up both tanks and then put our feet on one side and the body on the other.

[00:31:14] And that was our food. Oh. And we just shut the light off and make sure that nobody else came by there and we’d take our baths. And then eventually people built Japanese style. Of course, these didn’t begin to compare to the old photos. Some families had before camp or wooden Japanese bathtub with the live fire underneath.

[00:31:35] This is a Japanese style path, which is usually made in an outbuilding. And the way you do that, it’s in a different building by itself. And they have usually it was a concrete tub could be metal. And the bottom of the tub they’d have slabs of iron in and they actually build a fire underneath and you boil a water and this top, but in camp you may do with.

[00:31:54] And what they had at mans and art was lots and lots of cement in our block. We put a [00:32:00] Japanese soaking tub. They bought the cement and made a, what we call the old football and people would wash themselves under the shower and they would go in and soak in the tub. And then pretty soon they came and sort of a socializing method for our older generation.

[00:32:15] They were kind of taking over the custom that they have injured. Eventually the latrines and showers were relatively finished. Flush toilets and partitions for the woman. Take a shower. And the bathrooms or they had partitions for three we’re up to here. Even with these improvements, the latrines left much to be desired.

[00:32:37] We asked around to see what other latrine stories were out there. Matthew has she Gucci replied on Twitter that he remembers his grandmother talking about quote, the V-shaped cutouts in the wood plank, toilet seats. His grandmother told him they knew to never sit at the end of the row because you’d get splashed with sewage when someone flies.

[00:32:58] And of course, even [00:33:00] after the latrines were finished, the weather could still make using them on uncomfortable experience. Of course, we had to go to the latrine and some of those winters were so harsh and you would leave your. Trudge over to the bath house and the literary, they could shower or take a bath or whatever, and then you have to trudge back to your barracks.

[00:33:25] And after your shower, you are once again at the mercy of the elements. By the time you got back to your apartment, your hair was frozen with ice. Snow. Wasn’t the only problem. There was also the dust. The dust were just as brutal as the cold. It was very, very dusty. And so the first thing we hit, I think, was a dust storm and it was like being sandblasted.

[00:33:48] You know, you’d have to get down like this, close your eyes, close your mouth and just crunch down and still you get all that dirt and sand and everything. The dust is something unlike anything. I’d just like, because it’s [00:34:00] lava old lava does. And this is why we had. When it rained, it turns to this shoe pulling mud, you know, you’re always sloppy and mud.

[00:34:08] Incarcerees developed ways of dealing with mud too. I remember the older men members of the community, they made wooden clogs to auto scrap wood, about two inches high that you wore. Oh, muddy with so many. I remember one time that the thong broke that was holding your toe and that held onto the, get that, you know, and I was stepped right into the mud and it was terrible that wasn’t the only benefit of Gatos.

[00:34:34] Uh, I had the worst case of athlete’s feet because we had opened the shower facility, but it doesn’t take much to have that. Rampant everybody gets it. You know, we did let it get to us. And the showers show that our feet one touched a con. But I think that was mostly to prevent getting athlete’s feet. So we start all and get the us, you know, with [00:35:00] scrap wood, we all made it get to us and that worked great.

[00:35:03] Some of these artists and guys were fantastic. They would fashion beautiful Gatos with the straps that were beautifully knitted and formed and whatever with stuffing. So it didn’t hurt your feet and all of these artifacts. That would create a odd of necessity, but at the same time, very Arctic. The wood was polished and it was lacquered.

[00:35:31] Beautiful. And then of course you had utility gate. Does that kept your feet out of the mud coming from the bath house and all that?

[00:35:43] So that’s another thing I, I Marvel at the ingenuity of some of these peoples had made life much easier. Living in the camps was humiliating. The loss of freedom being suspected of being the enemy and the ever-present threat of sexual assault that never went away. The big [00:36:00] things. Then there were the latrines with no partitions food poisoning, neighbors, hearing your every move word and fart, a gross undignified anxiety inducing nightmare.

[00:36:13] Waiting in line and the dead heat of summer with a belly full of tainted macaroni salad, carrying the Chumba down sewer lane, hoping its unspeakable contents. Didn’t slosh onto you, winding your way around ditches of raw human waste that formed in the streets and in the face of all those humiliations where the cardboard boxes that women carried with them to the latrines, the block cement, oh, photo, the handcrafted guitar and the people behind them.

[00:36:41] The old men who lovingly crafted scrap wood and shoes, the girls who kept look out for one another, when they had their periods, the friends and family members who protected one another in the latrines, the boy who built his sister a toilet, because her wheelchair couldn’t navigate the dust, mud and snow.

[00:36:58] This is a story about the [00:37:00] laboratory and that story is humiliating and heartbreaking and flawed. And. And sometimes just playing fun.

[00:37:21] Please subscribe, like share review on apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you’re tuning in. We love reading the reviews and hearing your feedback, or Hey, just pass the word along and a big, big thank you to everyone. Who’s helped out so far. Visit densho.org/campu for additional resources. And this episode’s transcript kombu is produced by Hannah and Noah Mariama.

[00:37:44] This series is brought to you by denture. Their mission is to preserve and share the history of the world war II, incarceration of Japanese Americans to promote equity and justice today. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Densho project support for campu comes from the auto Hico and Ida Goodwin.

[00:37:59] [00:38:00] Cutting Chu foundation. Special. Thanks to Natasha foreigner, Brian, Nia Nina wallet. No coconut B Andrea Simon’s dad and Connie chain for their assistance. With this episode, this episode included excerpts from more than 70 Densho oral histories, as well as interviews conducted by Frank abbaye for his film conscience in the constitution.

[00:38:28] the names of the narrators featured in this episode are a south kudos. Ooh, . Masako Murakami. George . Frank Yamasaki. Mika Huga Akihiko kudos. Say Dorothy, H Sato Hiroshi, Kashi waggy. Jim Kaji. Warrah Lucy Cudi, harra Taylor Tomita Henry Sakamoto. Dorothy at taco Ichikawa Ozaki Saatchi Connie Shito [00:39:00] cherry Kinoshita hope ESOL Kikuchi.

[00:39:05] George Betty Fujimoto, Kashi waggy, Keiko, Cargill, Yama, grace Watanabe, Kimora SU Cooney told me Embry, mass aqui, Louise casino, Victor Ikeda, Peggy Nishimura Bain, Frank Keaton, Moto Toshi Kazu Toshi Okamoto men TuneIn Helen Tanigawa two Chiama he Koji Takeuchi. Fred ODA, Willie Kaji. Warrah George Cutta Geary.

[00:39:39] He said Matsudaira talk at Torah. Jim Tanaka, Jimi Yamaichi Yukio Koa Ritani Muslim Mizu Kitajima Elsa kudo, Takeshi Nakayama, Helen Herrano Christ Yoshiko Kanazawa, Richard Margie, Y [00:40:00] Y. Yukiko Miyake. Amy Iwasaki mass, Mary Haruka Nakamura, Louie Watanabe, Ted Hachiya Hank shows, OMI, Moto Suamico M Yamamoto, George Nakata Toshiro Izumi Homer Yasui Yuriko Yamamoto Kazuko Miasha.

[00:40:24] Laurie Sasaki Suamico Yamamoto. Willie K ITTO George cutout, Geary James Nishimura, Sharon , June Takahashi, Tomiko Haya Shita IGA Shira Shigg Yabu Kazuko Yona Yama, William R. Johnston and Yasuko. Miyoshi seri.

[00:40:49] You are tuned in to apex express at 94.1, KPFA and 89.3, KPFB in Berkeley and [00:41:00] [email protected] That was yet another incredibly insightful, difficult and kind of hilarious episode of Densho’s podcast series Campu. I truly love being able to hear from Japanese incarcerees because, it’s really, really unlikely that a history book will tell you everything that was going on in some place like the bathroom even though it’s such a fundamental component of people’s day to day. And there seemed to be a lot that went on in those bathrooms.

[00:41:35] And now I’ll pass it to Miko Lee, who’ll read a few letters from Dear Ms. Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration during WW II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference these letters are from Poston, Arizona, which was mentioned in this week’s episode. Here’s Miko.

[00:41:56] Miko Lee: This is Miko Lee and I am reading from this book called [00:42:00] Dear Ms. Breed, True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During WW II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference. By Joanne Oppenheim. So this is a white woman librarian that was in San Diego. She was a librarian of San Diego library. Many of the people that came to her library were Japanese Americans. And when they were rounded up to be incarcerated she showed up at the train station and gave each of them a book with a stamped postcard and asked them to write to her.

[00:42:36] Here are some of the letters that she received.

[00:42:39] August 27th, 1942. Dear Ms. Breed. Greetings from far off Poston Arizona, we arrived yesterday about 3:30 PM. It was a very long train ride. After leaving Barstow, we began to feel the heat. They say yesterday was a cool day, but to us it was extremely hot. We traveled through [00:43:00] desert after desert.

[00:43:01] There were many houses, which looked as if they were built many years ago. We seldom saw a human being, except when passing through a small town. One of the most beautiful scenery was when crossing a bridge, which was right above the Colorado river. It is indeed a beautiful river. One common thing you see when coming here is the beds and beddings are all placed outside the homes. It has been said that the heat is so hot that the people all sleep outside.

[00:43:31] It is very hot here. We traveled by bus, through acres of cotton plants. So you can imagine the heat because cotton has to be grown in a hot climate. After leaving the train, we had to travel by bus about 20 miles. We are in camp number three. It is not quite yet completed. There’s so Sandy here that everyone’s hair looks gray.

[00:43:56] Sometimes the wind blows, but when it does, the sand comes with it. [00:44:00] This campus so far away from civilization. And it makes me feel as if I was a convict who was not allowed to see anyone. I’d much rather sleep in the Santa Anita horse stables. This has made me realize how fortunate I was to be able to live in Santa Anita.

[00:44:17] The nearest town, which is a very tiny one is about 20 miles away. This trip has made me realize the wonderful work of nature. Her delicate work in shaping the stone mountains, the beautiful coloring of the surroundings. It seemed as if I was looking at the picture painting of a genius.

[00:44:36] This place. Differs greatly from Santa Anita. In Santa Anita, we were allowed to keep a bucket and a broom in our homes until the time came to leave. But in Posten, we are allowed to borrow a bucket broom or mop for half hour. This makes it very inconvenient because often they run out of them and we have to wait until one is [00:45:00] returned.

[00:45:01] Even in the dining rooms, we have to take our spoons and forks. They provide just the knife and cups. Plus plates and of course food. Yesterday, I ate rice weenies and a cabbage with a knife. That was a new experience for me. You never realized how valuable a thing is until you experience it. The dining rooms are very small here because there’s one to each block.

[00:45:27] We have to mop the house every day because of the dust. But it does not do any good because before you know it, it’s dusty again. My, this letter is getting too long. It’s probably getting boring. So I’ll write again soon. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them. If I am able most sincerely Louise Ogawa.

[00:45:46] PS. There’s no water on Sundays. The electricity has also turned off Sunday morning. Everyone eats before 6:00 AM. Water and electricity turned up between 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sundays. Very [00:46:00] very inconvenient. Never realized how valuable water is. This place looks deserted all the time because of the Sandino. This.

[00:46:08] Everyone stays inside. And no one is outside. Not even the children. So it looks as if no one lives in the barracks.

[00:46:18] And another view of pasta. Upon my arrival to the POS and relocation center, I stood be Willard glaring at the hot dusty desert. Wondering how we can survive. When my family and I were given our Barrack number, we spread our blankets and tried to put things in order. The first day there was so hot. I should not know how I should express how I felt then.

[00:46:40] Whoever I met carried wet towels on his heads. Even in the mess hall, people ate with wet towels on their heads. Small children had not eaten because of the heat. Even grownups lost their appetite. At night as I tumbled into bed. I kept thinking, how will we ever survive in such a place and how the hot dusty [00:47:00] soil could be made into fertile fields? Chiyoko Morita ninth grade

[00:47:06] September 7th, 1942. Dear ms breed this all prodigal writing to you amid the heat and dust of this hell hole called the

[00:47:15] Colorado river war relocation, project Poston, Arizona. At two Melton time, we arrived in Parker, Arizona. What a jerk Watertown, nothing but shanties. The natives told us that we were lucky to have come on a cool day, only 104 degrees and not dusty at all. Wait till it gets hot and dusty. How true those words were, how true.

[00:47:42] After signing away my life, Liberty, the pursuit of happiness. The WRA enlistment documents. We were assigned our quarters in a 12 by 20 room. Then we went to the mess hall for our first supper and Posten. Rice wieners, pickled cabbage bread and water had to eat it with a [00:48:00] steak knife, dining room seats, 300 persons.

[00:48:03] I don’t think I mentioned it, but my sister and I are living together after shower flopped on a cot fell dead asleep. I’ve been keeping busy, helping everyone. So I won’t have time to get heartaches thinking of Santa Anita and the friends left behind. Somehow it works most of the time. The evenings are wonderfully cool and refreshing.

[00:48:22] The sky so black that the stars fairly pop out. The Milky way is really clear. The sunrise here is gorgeous. The purple mountains all around us. But aside from the view, it’s very drab. Unless I look through my green sunglasses. I don’t even see cactus growing around here. But we have plenty of scorpions, crickets and huge aunts. Lots of dust too.

[00:48:46] We’re about three miles from the Colorado river. So the thing to do around here just now is to go there to fish and swim. I’m going there as soon as possible. On September five, the Eve of my birthday, I went out for a walk at [00:49:00] night by myself. I sure felt blue. Things around here. Just got me down.

[00:49:04] Built so small bewildered. So a moth fluttering futilely against a street lamp. That’s the way I felt like butting my head against a brick wall. My whole being rebels against somethings the WRA set up sloppy, no foresight, red tape grafting, the weakness, bunch of boot, licking job farmers in charge of their Caucasian administration at camp. Number one and number two, and number three, they’re afraid to stand up for certain things. That’s why this pasta is a hell of a place to live in.

[00:49:35] We’re so damn far away from the public who are interested that the RIA can get away with it. At an assembly center on the coast complaints can be seen by a visitor, but what fool would venture out to this God forsaken land? Just to see if the jabs are being looked after. Perhaps I’m spoiled by having been an SAC, but what is, what.

[00:49:55] That’s a crime.

[00:49:57] Surround my thoughts until I just ran out. [00:50:00] Then I figure as well. Time here. So I got to make the best of it. As I wrote someday sometime. I’m going to find my friends by the grace of God. And I’m going to make friends here too. And so to the future, may it be what it shall be? I hope you’ve been able to read all this.

[00:50:18] Please don’t think that the heat has gotten to me because I’ve rambled. So sincerely yours. Tetsuko

[00:50:25] November 16th. 1942. Dear Ms. Breed guests who? Yup. It’s all unreliable again. None other than yours truly. Tetsuo. Gosh, the wind’s been blowing all night and all morning kind of threatening to blow the roofs down. Dust is all over the place. Gives everything a coating of fine dust. Heard from dad about a week ago. It seems there is a possibility that many of the internees are to be released sometime close to Christmas.

[00:50:54] That’s where the rumors have it. Almost everyone has someone in an internment camp believe that his, someone is [00:51:00] the one coming home.

[00:51:02] At any rate, the alien enemy control at Washington is considering to allow the families to join the husbands in the internment camp. Many of us have written to Edward G N S director of the alien enemy control unit asking that it’d be the other way around. Yes. Who says dad is still interned. I’m still working in the mess hall.

[00:51:23] I have to get up early in the morning. It’s around 38 in the morning and at the middle part of the afternoon, it’s red 80 plus. The mornings don’t warm up until just after noon time. My arm is all right. Not near so strong. As at Santa Anita, because I don’t do any loading or unloading of supplies.

[00:51:41] I’ve been doing a little carpentry. As many of us here have no furniture other than cots. Haven’t gotten much made here in my own apartment. As most of my work is over. When the men folk have left for the sugar beet fields or when there just ain’t. No, menfolk. The food has been all right, except for quantity.

[00:51:59] We still have [00:52:00] trouble with the warehouse transportation system. Also transportation on the outside to bring food all the way from the coast here to pasta has limited. No, I haven’t hiked to the river yet. I’d better do it soon because there’s going to be a fence around this camp. Five strands of barbed wire.

[00:52:16] They say it’s to keep the people out. What people, the Redskins it’s also to keep out cattle. Where in the cattle countries, do they use five strands of barbed wire? If they don’t watch others going to be trouble. What do they think we are fools at Santa Anita at the time of the riot, the armored cars parked outside the main gates pointed the heavy machine guns inside, and then the army have a goal to tell us that the purpose of that was to keep the white folks from coming into mob, the Japs, same thing with the guards on the watch towers, they had their machine guns pointed at us to protect us from the outsiders.

[00:52:48] I’m laughing.

[00:52:51] Enough of this before I go out and murder a white man by killing myself.

[00:52:55] Say, what is this? Just as I wrote that three bombers came [00:53:00] roaring overhead flying solo to the Barrack shook. Every now and then the Chinese air force who are training somewhere close to pasta and come zooming down at us here at camp. It was think it’s funny. Some days, one of us is going to have a gun a couple of weeks ago. One of the bombers.

[00:53:16] Twin motor Douglas attack bomber crashed on the other side of the Colorado and burst into flame. It wasn’t right. But a lot of us were kind of glad in a cynical sort of way. God forgive us for the thoughts that are beginning to run a muck in our brains. Last week, a very good friend of mine got to thinking and he went crazy.

[00:53:36] He tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrist. Uh, his roommates found him bleeding and immediately gave him first aid. He’s still alive, but his face is like that of a wild eight cage for the first time in his life. Gosh, I get the chills every time. I remember how I looked that morning. I think he was sent to an insane asylum in Los Angeles.

[00:53:57] God, what a morbid letter, this turned out to be. [00:54:00] I’m sending you a few things in appreciation for what you have done for me. As well as for my sister and all the rest. The lapel pins are for you, your sister and Ms. McNary. If I remembered correctly, Ms. McNary his first name is Helen. If I’m wrong, you may do what you wish with the pin.

[00:54:17] But please tell me her name. Well, so what is your mother’s name? There are three dogs made by Ms. From pipe cleaners. Uh, longer ribbon Mamie use so that the dog may be pinned on the lapel or blouse. The corsages are for you and your mother. They were made by Ms. Oh, Hey. Mrs. daughter, the small roses were made by Mrs. Hera and Mrs. Cascino and also Jane Cristino. Mrs. Casinos, 14 year old daughter.

[00:54:47] The chrysanthemum was made by Mrs. Nakamoto, a very good friend of mine. Format. Matter. All of them are good friends of mine. The mum was made from lemon rappers and crepe paper. Uh, worried about [00:55:00] Mrs. Nakamura. A former dressmaker with plenty of time on her hands, took up knitting and also learning English. And now making flowers.

[00:55:09] So busy now, she almost has no spare time. If it is possible, could you send some simple child primers and a grammar book about seventh grade?

[00:55:19] Your name plate. I made from Mesquite. As are also the lapel pins. However, the dark pen is made from a pine, not from Santa Anita. The rest are all Posten products. The evacuation order came just as I was about to send it. So it slipped my mind and I thought I had lost it. After all, it was only the souvenir from Santa Anita.

[00:55:41] Aren’t we jabs cover. We’re learning to make beautiful things out of ugly scrap, because we are having a hard time to get material like pipe cleaners for dogs. Crepe paper for flowers. Softwire for flowers. We get ugly, dead mosquito branches and twigs, and turn them into a thing of beauty by [00:56:00] attaching paper, orange blossoms or cherry blossoms made from Kleenex.

[00:56:05] I wish you had been able to attend our handicraft fairs here in Boston. Words just can’t describe the beautiful carvings paintings, knitting crochet work, dressmaking cetera. If only I had a camera, you would have at least a rough idea as to what has been made. Very truly yours. Tetsuo PS. Have a nice Thanksgiving dinner.

[00:56:27] PS. Do you think you could send me some Welch’s peanut brittle.

[00:56:32]  Miko Lee: thank you so much for joining us. Please check out our website, kpfa.org backslash program, backslash apex express to find out more about the show tonight and to find out how you can take direct action. We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Miko Lee [00:57:00] Jalena Keane-Lee and Paige Chung and special editing by Swati Rayasam. Thank you so much to the KPFA staff for their support have a great night.

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