Oral History & Artifacts

The Poston Restoration videographing duo--Wayne & Heather Koga were in Central California this Memorial Day weekend to record more oral histories!

THANK YOU to the former Poston prisoners who recorded their stories with us:
Aiko (Tashiro) Takeda (305-7-D)
James T. Goishi (326-11-C)
Louise (Hayakawa) Sadahiro ( 305-11-D)
Toshiteru Sadahiro (308-6-A)
Carolyn Tanaka (307-3-C)
John Kashiki (328-5-B)
Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama (227-2-A)
Fujie (Yamakawa) Robesky (325-6-D)

We learned much about the different lives and experiences of each individual who shared with us this past weekend.

Two were born in Guadalupe, CA
One was a senior attending the University of California-Davis
Two went into the Armed Forces (one of which served in the 442nd RCT in Europe, and the other trained as a surgical technician),
After camp, one married & played baseball in Japan for 10 years
One family's father was taken from Poston & put into the federal detention prison in Santa Fe, NM.

John Y. Kashiki was very generous by helping us fill our future museum with his donation of a set of drawers he crafted from produce crates, scrap wood, and Poston barbed wire posts using white glue while imprisoned at Poston III.

Fujie (Yamakawa) Robesky shared a scan of her preschool class picture at Poston III. Fujie is 3rd from the right in the front row. Kenny Uyeda is the 1st boy on the right standing in a sailor suit.

Do you recognize anyone? (Click on the photo to enlarge.) Please help us to identify the other young children or their teachers in this preschool class at Poston III.

Do you have any Poston items hiding at your home?

We are searching for more items for our future museum at Poston. If you would like more information about how to donate personal items such as a scan of old photos, letters, books, newspapers, handicrafts, etc. please respond in the "comment" section.


Life Interrupted....

Photo: Haruye "Hankus" Nagata (Poston 308-8-C) looks at old photos as she recalls the people she met at an internment camp in Arizona during World War II. Photo credit: Jason Medhill, the Reedley Exponent.

Japanese Americans to receive honorary degrees from Reedley College
By Jason Mahill
Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One former student and family members of several others will accept honorary degrees Friday at Reedley College graduation ceremonies. All are Japanese Americans whose education was interrupted in 1942 when they were uprooted and relocated to internment camps following President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

This order gave broad authority to military leaders to relocate anyone in the United States to designated internment camps if they were suspected of being a threat to national security. While the United States was at war with Germany, Italy and Japan during the Second World War, the order impacted fewer than 15,000 people of German and Italian heritage.

The largest impact of this executive order was to the Japanese-American community, numbering about 110,000 people nationwide.

One such person who will accept a degree on behalf of her late younger brother, Masayuki Nakamura, is Haruye “Hankus” Nagata. In 1942, Nagata’s family was uprooted from its Reedley ranch and relocated to Posten (Poston) Internment Camp in Arizona.
Nagata remembers that her brother Masayuki (Nakamura) was 17 at the time the executive order was issued and, as a gifted student, was a young college sophomore.

“While at Great Western, he finished second and third grades in one year,” said Nagata. “After the war he graduated from UCLA, spent a few years farming and later worked in real estate. He was a sophomore at Reedley College when we had to leave and go to the camps. It was hard.”

Nagata was 19 years old when she and her (Nakamura) family left Reedley, leaving behind a ranch they were not sure they would see again.

“When the orders came, people were very discouraged and depressed,” said Nagata. “We were being uprooted from our homes and we didn’t know where we were going or what the camps were like, but it was orders from the government, so we had no choice.”

From 1942-1945, the peak population of the Posten camp reached approximately 17,000. As a community slightly smaller than the size of present-day Reedley, internees found work within the camp similar to occupations they held at home.

A newspaper, the Posten Chronicle, was started at the camps to publish the news of the camp and keep residents informed of the news regarding the war and family members serving overseas.

While there were also opportunities to get work off camp, many of the young men sent to the internment camps volunteered for military service when recruiters came to the camps. Nagata’s brother, Masayuki (Nakamura), volunteered with the Army and began his service in Virginia. Once finished with basic training, he served most of his time in Minnesota working in intelligence since he could fluently speak Japanese.

“When the recruiters came to the camps, many of the older people were against any military service to the country,” said Nagata. “Many people in the camps were immigrants or born citizens of this country. Either way, this country is our home and the older people felt betrayed. My brother and many of the young men wanted to serve in the Army before the order came out and being sent to the camps did not change that.”

One of the most difficult things the family had to face was the failing health of Nagata’s mother.

“My mother (Shizu Nakamura, Poston 308-8-C) really suffered because of her health,” said Nagata. “Before being sent to the camps she spent some time at the San Anselma Hospital in the Bay Area. She had tuberculosis of the intestine, which I think was cancer. She needed a special liquid diet that she could not get at the camp and eventually she passed away in August of 1944.”

Returning home for many internees was difficult and many found they had no home when they were released in 1945.

For Nagata’s (Nakamura) family, returning home to Reedley was in part feasible because of the support given to them by friends and neighbors. A neighbor at the time, Lorence Segrue, leased the family ranch during the war and kept the property up until the family’s return. In addition to this, friends from the Mennonite Church kept in close contact with the interned families and visited Posten when possible to bring care packages and other needed items, said Nagata.

On Friday night, former student Betty Jane Nakashima (Poston 326-14-CD) will be present to receive her honorary degree.

Family members will accept degrees on behalf of these former students: Yoneko Ashida (Poston 305-5-B), Fumiko Hamada, Megumi Betty Hamada, Tsugio Hamada, Masayuki Nakamura (Poston 308-8-C), Aiko Sasaki (Poston 318), Mineto Shimizu (Poston 318-9-C), Mitsue Shimizu (Poston 318-9-C), Taky Yamada (Poston 309-11-A) and Max Yano.

Commencement ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Reedley College, on the south lawn near the gymnasium.

[Note: The newswriter spelled 'Poston' incorrectly in this article.]


From Camps to Congress

Smithsonian American Art Museum
From Camps to Congress

June 10, 2010
5:30 PM
Grand Salon/Renwick Gallery

Congresswoman Doris (Okada) Matsui (Poston block 305-4-D), born in the Poston, Arizona internment camp, and Congressman Mike Honda, who spent his early childhood in Colorado’s Granada War Relocation Center, share their memories of the camps and the effects of the experience on their lives.

Dr. Franklin Odo, former director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, will facilitate the discussion.

Source: http://americanart.si.edu/calendar/event/?key=5056&date=2010-06-10


Cal State Univ,San Diego

Japanese Americans Given Honorary Degrees Six Decades Later
By Ana Tintocalis
May 17, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Carl Yoshimine walks slowly down an aisle during a special ceremony at San Diego State.

Photo: Carl Yoshimine (Poston 322-2-A) (right) and June Kushino (Poston 329-2-B) (left) stand with top-ranking San Diego State University officials on Monday after receiving their honorary degrees on May 17, 2010. Yoshimine and Kushino were denied a college education at San Diego State in 1942 after they were forced into Japanese internment camps.

He's dressed in a black cap and gown. Bright purple flowers hang over his head.

Yoshimine, 82, was a business and economics student at SDSU in 1942. But his college dreams were cut short after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That's when Yoshimine and other Japanese American students were forced into American internment camps.

“I turned to religion and faith and that seemed to settle things,” Yoshimine recalled. “From that point I was able to forgive, not to forget, but to forgive and to move on.”

Yoshimine is one of a few surviving members from that 1942 class. San Diego State University officials are now making amends more than six decades later. They awarded honorary degrees to more than 20 Japanese Americans. Many family members received the award on behalf of their parents who passed away.

Barbara Mukai's mother Viola Takeda (Poston block 329) passed away just a month ago. Mukai says her mother internalized a lot of the emotional pain from her time in an internment camp. She also didn't share much about her broken college dreams.

“I knew she went for a little bit, I wasn't even sure where or what she studied. So it was a surprise,” Mukai said.

SDSU is the first of six Cal State University campuses to honor Japanese Americans. It's part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project to award honorary degrees to Japanese Americans who were robbed of a college education during World War II.

Source: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/may/17/sdsu-honors-japanese-americans-who-were-robbed-col/


Long Time Gone

                                                      Photo: Rev. Carl Yoshimine

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nearly 70 years after a presidential order ended his studies at SDSU, Carl Yoshimine will return to campus to accept an honorary degree.

Japanese American Carl Yoshimine (Poston block 322-2-A) reflects on his sudden departure from SDSU and subsequent internment during WWII, and shares his appreciation for the honorary degree he will accept in a special campus ceremony, May 17.

To see Rev. Carl's interview, go to:

Degree long overdue

                                            Photo: Mary (Kinoshita) Higashi

BY JORGE BARRIENTOS, Californian staff writer
Friday, May 14 2010

Mary (Kinoshita) Higashi (Poston 6-4-D)
was attending Bakersfield Junior College when she heard about the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7 1941.

"I was humiliated -- to think Japan had attacked," said the 87-year-old Japanese American who was born and raised in Bakersfield. "I didn't want to go to school, but my father insisted we get our education. 'You didn't start the war,' he said."

So she did, studying business education and accounting. She even learned how to use a bow and arrow in archery class. Faculty and friends treated her with respect, she said.

Then in early 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that called for roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans into camps against their will and incarcerated during the war.

On May 9, 1942, a day Higashi said she would never forget, she and her family were evacuated, ending her college career about a month away from graduation.

"I would have been the first in my family to graduate from Bakersfield College," she said. "It was very upsetting to me being that I was a citizen. How could they put us away like that? We were a torn family."

On Friday during Bakersfield College's graduation ceremony, nearly 70 years later, Higashi got something she thought she'd never get -- a diploma from BC.

"This is wonderful," she said. "It brings closure."

Higashi's father came to Bakersfield from Japan in 1914, her mother in 1921. She was born at Mercy Hospital, and is one of seven children.

The family was evacuated to a camp in Arizona, except for her father, who was taken by the FBI because he was a local leader in the Japanese community, she said.
Higashi remembers entering the camp in just the second day opened: There were rows of barracks with barbed wire surrounding them. Military police had guns pointed at them.

"That was the introduction for us," she said. "The camp was just terrible."
Inside, everyone crammed into an apartment with no bathroom. Showers and toilets had no curtains or partitions.

Everyone ate in a mess hall. The cook made mutton and curry for about 300. And there was nothing to do, she said.

In all, she was there three years. She moved back to Bakersfield in 1946, where she had her first of three children. Then she moved to San Pedro where she's lived the last 60 years. Relatives still live in Bakersfield. She's worked for decades in the state unemployment office, rising in rank to a manager.

Assembly Bill 37 was signed into law in October. It requires state community colleges, California state universities and University of California campuses to honor those forced to leave post-secondary studies because of the federal order.
More than 1,200 affected students were attending 44 junior or community colleges before the order was given, according to the California Nisei College Diploma Project.

State officials said the program is a way to make right of wrongs. For those who are no longer alive, relatives can collect honorary degrees on their behalf.

George Tatsuno on Friday represented his father of the same name, who died in 2001.
Tatsuno, a local chiropractor, said his father, a citizen, was denied his constitutional rights when he was evacuated (Poston block 14). He chocked back tears in describing how his father told of the experience.

"I'm sure he'd be very proud and honored," Tatsuno said. "It's a long time coming, that's for sure. But I'm happy to represent him today."

Friday night, 375 graduates received diplomas at BC's Memorial Stadium. Twenty-nine Nesei Project honorees were listed on Bakersfield College's commencement program.
Families of four honorees attended. However, Higashi was the sole person wearing a bright red graduation gown. About 20 of her family members attended the ceremony to celebrate, including her daughters Paula Higashi, from Elk Grove, and Elizabeth Higashi, who lives in Chicago, and brother Robert Kinoshita, a 70-year-old Bakersfield resident.

The honorees were given their original transcripts from the 1940s. Family members chuckled looking over Higashi's grades, especially the C she got in piano class. Mary Higashi plays the oregon piano for her local church, Elizabeth Higashi said.

Graduation speakers spoke of overcoming obstacles to reach their goal of receiving diplomas. Mary Higashi's name was called, and the crowd roared. Higashi smiled.
"We're just excited for her," Robert Kinoshita said.


John Amano
Jim Fujii
Shigaki Fujii
Tom Fujji
Fumiye Imamura
Nobuyuki Kawata
Yoshiye Kubotsu
Mary (Kinoshita) Higashi (attended)
Aya Misono (family represented)
Richard Meyamoto
Kingo Nagasako
Sam Nakata
George Nishimura
Hakugo Nitta
George Norikane
Ben Ogata
Fumike Okanishi
Emma Okasaki
Toshio Okumo
Marian Orida
Larry Orida
Kinya Sakamoto
Irene Tanigaki
George Tatsuno (family represented)
Walter Tatsuno (family represented)
Kazuko Tsuda
Kathleen Uyetani
Amey Yamane
Frank Yoshioka
James Yura
Source: Bakersfield College graduation program


Move That Barrack!


We are pleased to announce that your grant proposal, Poston Preservation Project-Barrack Relocation and Rehabilitation, submitted for the Fiscal Year 2010 Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program has been selected for funding.

The National Park Service received a total of 42 applications, requesting nearly $7.8 million Federal share, for the Fiscal Year 2010 grant cycle. The proposals reflected a wide range of project types, including oral history, interpretation and education, documentation, planning, preservation, and capital projects. The grants were evaluated and awarded in a competitive process, and matched $2 in federal money for every $1 in non-federal funds and “in-kind” contributions by the grant recipients. A total of 23 projects will be funded for the Fiscal Year 2010 grant cycle.

Kara M. Miyagishima
Program Manager
J-A Confinement Sites Grant Program
Intermountain Region
National Park Service


Honorary degrees

May, 12, 2010
Dozens of Japanese-American internees to receive honorary degrees

By CYNDEE FONTANA / McClatchy Newspapers

FRESNO, Calif. - Honorary degrees will be awarded next week in Fresno and nearby Reedley to more than three dozen Japanese-American students whose college studies were interrupted by World War II internment orders.

On May 20, Fresno State University will confer 27 honorary degrees at a ceremony in the Satellite Student Union. On May 21, Reedley College will award 11 degrees during its commencement.

Public colleges and universities around California have been searching for the lost generation of Japanese-American students. After the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing, a presidential order sent roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps - including college students.

California state Assemblyman Warren Furutani sponsored legislation calling on the California State University, University of California and California Community College systems to honor students now likely in their 80s. Some are deceased.
Some colleges and universities already have awarded degrees; Fresno State conferred its first in December to John Hiroshi Otomo of Selma, Calif.

Fresno State officials say they have attempted to contact 83 students eligible for honorary bachelor of humane letters degrees under the CSU Nisei College Diploma Project. Those unable to attend will receive degrees by mail, and authorities continue to work with community groups to locate some alumni or their families.
Six alumni, and representatives of 21 others, are expected to accept degrees at Fresno State next week. The alumni are Julia (Goto) Ohki (Poston 222-6-B), Richard Toshio Henmi, Joan (Kanagawa) Fujihara (Poston 227-5-B), Sumi Kamikawa Murashima, Satoshi Kuwamoto and Kazue Sekiya Iwatsubo.

Diplomas will be presented to the families of John Arakaki, Harold H. Arase, Akira Jitsumyo, Sumiye Jitsumyo Hatakeda, Toshio T. Ishimoto, Lois S. Kanagawa (Poston 227-5-B), Taro Katagiri, Haruko Herky Kawahara, Nao "Jack" Kawakami, Mary Kobayashi Shimizu, Mary Machida, Takami Misaki, Sachiye Maruko, Ann T. Miyamoto (Poston 221-12-B), Frank Yoshiharu Nishio, Olive Tetsuko Ogawa, Alice Yutaka Osaki, Shigeru Sanbongi, Otto Hiromu Suda, Helen Yemoto and Velma Yemoto.

In Reedley, Betty Jane Nakashima (Poston 326-10-C) will accept an honorary associate of arts degree. Family members will accept on behalf of Yoneko Ashida (Poston 306-5-B), Fumiko Hamada, Megumi Betty Hamada, Tsugio Hamada, Masayuki Nakamura (Poston block 306), Aiko Sasaki (Poston block 318), Mineto Shimizu (Poston 318-9-C), Mitsue Shimizu (Poston 318-9-C), Taky Yamada and Max Yano.

Fresno City College officials said no ceremony is planned there because records from that era couldn't be separated from Fresno State's records. The two colleges shared the same campus in the early 1940s.

Source: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/05/12/1428599/dozens-of-japanese-american-internees.html
Help us honor former Japanese-American students!

The State Center Community College District (SCCCD) will present honorary degrees to all Japanese-Americans who were students during World War II and had their education disrupted by incarceration in internment camps.

Nisei students attending Reedley College or Fresno City College in 1941/1942 are eligible to receive the honorary degree.

Families of deceased former students may apply on behalf of their relatives to accept the honorary degree for them. The colleges need your assistance in identifying potential honorees.

If you know of any potential recipients, contact Deborah Ikeda at (559) 325-5214 or email deborah.ikeda@sccd.edu.

The colleges will validate the honoree's attendance and contact the family regarding the ceremony.

Please provide the potential honoree's first and last name, date of birth and any other names that may have been used (i.e. maiden name).

In addition, please provide contact information including your name, telephone number with area code, street address and email.

For more information about the SCCCD Japanese-American honorary degrees, please contact Deborah Ikeda by phone at (559) 325-5214 or by email at deborah.ikeda@scccd.edu


San Diego State Univ

You are invited to attend this ceremony for the Nisei Honorary Degrees being bestowed to four former internees who were removed from their studies at San Diego State University in 1942.

Click on picture to enlarge.

Remember to RSVP is you plan to attend.