|Deputy Sheriff Jim Washum|
Nisei GI Ejected From a Barber Shop
A story often told but seldom mentioning the name of the Nisei soldier who was ejected from a barber shop, was carried full in the Pacific Citizen. He was Pvt. Raymond Matsuda, 29, a wounded GI from Hawaii visiting friends at Poston.
He had entered the shop in town (Parker, Arizona), oblivious to a sign on the window: JAPS KEEP OUT, YOU RAT. The barber, who had three sons in the armed services, yelled at Matsuda as he was coming into the shop: "Can't you read that sign?" Matsuda said he didn't.
The AP said the barber (Alan Hale) had shoved him out, but denied touching him. WRA added the veteran, in uniform, was on crutches. Matsuda was shot in the knee on the Italian front on July 22 and hospitalized at the Hammond Army General Hospital in Modesto, Calif. Matsuda later added he had received many letters of support from around the nation and from GIs in the Pacific and European theater.
"General DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 17 allowing for the free movement of all servicemen within the military zone, regardless of their race. DeWitt issued this primarily because many servicemen had family members in the camps and wished to visit them when on leave.
This decision ended up causing more problems for the Japanese in Parker. Polly Brown, who worked as the camp reports officer, sent Governor Osborn a letter in December 1944 informing him that city officials in Parker hassled several Japanese American soldiers in uniform and refused to allow them to visit the camp. This incident came on the heels of a nationally publicized beating of a Japanese American soldier by a Parker barber. When Private Raymond Matsuda attempted to get a haircut from Andy Hale, Hale threw Matsuda out of his barbershop and assaulted him on the street when Matsuda protested the treatment. The beating of an American soldier found its way into newspapers across the country, and letters poured in to both the camp and the governor's office decrying Matsuda's treatment from angry citizens as far away as Pennsylvania. Mrs. M. Waegell of Elk Grove, California offered her farm home as a possible location for Private Matsuda to recover from his injuries, and even spend Christmas if he so desired. Many irate letters also asked for the addresses of Mr. Hale's sons, who were serving in the Army as well, so they could send letters informing them of their father's shameful behavior.
The violence against JA servicemen continued in December when Deputy Sheriff Jim Washum evicted three Nisei soldiers in uniform from a restaurant, and threw rocks at the men as they left. Though in all three cases people asked for the governor to intervene, arrest those responsible for mistreating American soldiers, and ensure that no such incidents occurred in the future, the only action Osborn took was sending a letter to Duncan Mills, Poston's camp director, asking him to more closely monitor visits from Nisei service men. Osborn told Mills that the antipathy toward Japanese in Arizona needed to be understood and if service men did visit he should have them stay at camp and keep them out of Parker. Mills replied that he felt the men should be given protection by the sheriff's department, but the sheriff was actually part of the problem, so he recommended Osborn provide some sort of state protection for visiting servicemen and arrest offenders like Andy Hale and Jim Washum. Osborn refused to do so, stating that the sheriff's office would handle any arrests.
All of the negative attention focused on Parker and Arizona's hostility towards Japanese and JA as a whole, even those in uniform, cause some Parker businessmen to have a change of heart in their attitude towards dealing with Japanese evacuees. Others gained the courage to speak up in support of both Nisei soldiers and the evacuees housed in Poston. On February 6, 1945 Duncan Mills received a letter from the Business People of Parker, a group of 43 businessmen and women (a few of who signed the 1943 petition to keep all evacuees out of Parker.) "The purpose of this letter.....is to inform you that we as business people and interested citizens of Parker, Arizona bear no malice or hold no grudge against the Japanese people and those who are assisting them in the Poston Camp. And we further want to state that we are desirous of obtaining whatever business the inhabitants of Poston may have to offer business people outside of Poston. We will be glad to serve employees and Japanese alike in our place of business in Parker, Arizona."
Source: Coming to Grips with America: The Japanese American Experience in the Southwest by Kara Allison Schubert Carroll, Arizona State University
Datelined Poston, Arizona, tells how a crippled JA. was ejected from a barbershop because the proprietor didn't like his ancestry. The G. I. was Pvt. Raymond Matsuda, 29, from Hawaii. He had served two years with the 442nd combat team in Italy. He wears seven campaign ribbons and decorations, including the Purple Heart.