REVIEW: Camp III Reunion

Hi Glenn and Dianne,
     After traveling home and relaxing - started to recap the 3 days in Vegas.
My wife, Margie, and I had a great time at your reunion. It started out on a surprising note, while we received our registration packet -  Wendy tells Margie that someone is looking for her and takes her throughout the Bel-Air Room looking for this person - It turns to be an old aquintance from the days when our sons ran cross country in high school - It was Emi Abe. 
Frank Abe & friend
     We sat with the Abe clan and had a great conversation about the camp days. I told them how Camp 3 stole the cement from Camp 1 for their concrete swimming pool. Frank Abe is a few years older than I am and he was able to relate and shortly after, Frank's wife, Taye started to smile and laugh - and said "I swam in that pool everyday".
     One thing lead to another and subject switched to war planes. That's when I thought about the plane that made an emergency landing near Camp 3.
I knew I heard it from someone during camp days and I started asking questions about it in 1992 at our 50th year Poston Anniversary Dinner. Everyone I spoke with never heard of it and I got to thinking maybe I was just making it - Until Frank confirmed, so I continued describe the details as I remembered. Of course, I repeated that story to the audience. When I asked the audience how many remembered the P-38 making an emergency landing, there were two hands that went up, beside Frank's. 
     Dianne, these two gentlemen that raised there hands were seated in the vicinity of where you were, did you see who these gentlemen and do you know who they were? 
Frank Abe called me on Thursday to find out if I was able to confirm the story about Alan Ladd, a well known movie star during camp day, selecting the High School Queen in 1945. He said that he found the information in the 1945 High School Album.  And also, wanted to know if I was able to ascertain names of two gentlemen that raised their hands about the P-38. If it is possible, he wanted to contact them and corroborate the story to make sure the details were correct.
     Dianne, you did a fantastic job of putting on "Putting Together Poston Past". You made it interesting and informative. I enjoyed the details - your research was excellent.
     Margie attended the "Christian Gathering" because she wanted to say hello to Rev. Kay Sakaguchi, who she knew from the days of the LA Free Methodist Church and the Anaheim Free Methodist Church.
     Overall, Glenn, you and your committee did a terrific job.  Margie and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of your gathering.

Thank you very much,
Tak Kohatsu, Poston I 


Dianne's review

    This year's reunion was created by the dynamic duo, Glenn and Wendy Tsutsumi (sansei) from the San Jose. What a great program! From the selection of food catered by the Golden Nugget, to the entertainment and vendors--- if you did not attend, you really missed out!  He had Agnes (Yamakoshi) Sasaki ( one of my high school friends' sister)  sang "Sukiyaki" , my #1 favorite Japanese song (I know only 2) and both were sung.

      Glenn managed to get the Grateful Crane to perform the "Best of Grateful Crane" with included the Motown song, "My Girl" and "Sukiyaki", both of my all time favorites, and now I have a new one---the Korean song that Kurt Kuniyoshi crooned.

       Although I was not a former prisoner at Poston, I felt I knew lots of faces, probably because of working on the photobook of last year's reunion.  I can't take full credit for the book, because identification of the former prisoners required the assistance of Ada (Nishida)Yamamoto, ( & her 2 daughters), Michio Himaka, Yukio Kawamoto, Lilyan (Nagata) Kiyomoto, and a few others to help identify people attending the 2010 camp III reunion photos shot by Wayne Koga (Poston Restoration Project), Ron Nakamura, and this writer.

      I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the former (Miss Barbara Washler) Curry. I brought along a copy of the book, "The Harvest of Hate" by Georgia Day Robertson, former Poston High School supervisor of all of tthe Nisei math teachers , and later became a math teacher in Poston III camp, as well as at Poston camp  II, after their advanced math teachers left.  Miss Robertson also became the Vice Principal of the High School.

[The Harvest of Hate, by Georgia Day Robertson. The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton; 1986. ISBN: 0-930048-08-0 KBF]

      Many thanks to Miss Barbara Washler Curry's family for accompanying her to this year's event. The former Miss Washler received a standing ovation when she was introduced at the reunion's banquet.

      Henry Kaku had many stories and displayed an extensive collection of artifacts from his family who were in Poston block 39 and later in block 12.  Henry's father was Keige Kaku, and Henry donated copies of his parents' Questionaire of Loyalty with their detailed responses, Keige Kaku's Selective Service enlistment record, and Honorable Discharge paper from the Engineer Battalion, Enlisted Reserve Corps, and his parent's cancellation of renunciation papers. Henry Kaku, if you are reading this, please leave your email address.

       Donald Teru Hata, PhD, and Hatsuko Mary Higuchi were guest speakers during a special session in the afternoon. I had met Don (formerly from Gila River concentration camp), and Hatsuko Mary Higuchi  (Poston block 318) during last year's Poston III reunion on the bumpy bus trip, "Road Back to Poston" all-day tour.  Unfortunately, I had to miss the beginning of Don's presentation, as I missed out eating lunch as I was the first session speaker.  From the part of Don't presentation that I did hear, I learned that the term "internment" refers to imprisonment of aliens.  Continued use of term, "internment camp" is not accurate, since about two-thirds of the people of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly imprisoned were U.S. citizens by birth.  To continue using the term, "internment camp" perpetuates the myth that ALL those imprisoned were  the "dangerous enemy aliens".  Therefore, to be historically correct, we should put an end to using the terms: evacuation, evacuee, detainee, internee, and internment camp.  Instead we need to adopt the terms "banishment, "eviction" exclusion, exile, forced removal, uproot,  incarceree, inmate, prisoner, concentration camps, gulag, or prison camps.

      Don was selling a book written with his late wife, Nadine Ishitani Hata, the 4th edition of Japanese Americans and World War II Mass Removal, Imprisonment and Redress.  The book's new cover features Hatsuko Mary Higuchi's Executive Order 9066, Series 4 painting. I also purchased  "Words Can Lie or Clarify: Terminology of the World War II Incarceration of Japanese Americans" by Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga which Don had made available. Hatsuko Mary Higuchi brought her collection of haunting portraits with themes from imprisonment in Poston concentration camp III as a very young child. Her mentor was the late Henry Kukuhara, and she was among the founding group of outdoor artists participating with Henry at the  annual "Manzanar Paint Out".

      I gave a presentation, "Putting Together Poston's Past" to a standing-room only crowd.

 I grew up in Reedley, graduated from Reedley High and attended Reedley College.  Never heard a word about Japanese Americans forcibly put into concentration camps during World War II.  Graduated from CSU Fresno in the mid '70's. Did not take Asian Studies.  It wasn't part of my major.  Never heard a word about the concentration camps. .....It was later in life that I became aware that the questions I heard my mom ask other Japanese people, "What block or what camp were you in?" was not about summer church camp at Lake Sequoia.

      Then I tried to create my Family History.  I learned that my relatives were in "camp".  Poston camp. Then I got curious, and I searched the internet looking for information about Poston.  Looking for pictures.  Always came up with the same information and photos, on different websites. I only got bits and pieces of information.  I wanted to learn more.  One day I found the Poston Restoration Project's website.  I was elated that others were wanting to preserve the history of Poston. I wanted to learn more, MUCH, MUCH, MORE.

      If you did not attend my session, you missed the interesting questions/answers from the former prisoners. J. Tajiri brought up an interesting topic asking if holding a job in camp was applied towards social security.  Babe K who was sitting in the same row spoke up as reported his hours worked as a high school kid at Poston were added to his lifetime hours of employment. Tak Kohatsu, (block 39) was in attendance, and he asked if anyone recall seeing a P-38 make an emergency landing near camp III.  Two others in the group raised their hands. This was something no one else apparently witnessed.  Tak introduced Rev. Paul Nagano was a star basketball player who played 2 games against the Parker Indian School team. Following my session, I was approached by a Sansei who revealed that just like me, he too, was ignorant about the Nisei being forced into the concentration camps. 

      I missed the first half of the Poston III Christian Reunion Fellowship worship with Kay Sakaguchi's sermon,  "Relocation Camp; God's Purpose in Our Life", but I did catch the closing hymn, "Amazing Grace". 

      After the wonderful banquet dinner, we were entertained by the Grateful Crane Ensemble. Kurt Kuniyoshi, you rocked singing the Korean song, " Winter Sonata"!

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