WANTED: Poston Artifacts

 These are some samples of Poston era artifacts

 Scan courtesy of Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian 

Scan courtesy of Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian 

Scan courtesy of Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian

  Scan courtesy of Sandy Hayashi Minner

Poston camp I
Graduation class of 1945

Photo scan found on internet

  Scan courtesy of Sandy Hayashi Minner

 Invitation to Parker Valley High School Auditorium Dedication (Poston III)
Mrs. Pauline B. Brown
 Photo scan found on internet

Parker Valley High School Auditorium Dedication (Poston III)
August 30, 1944
Photo scan found on internet

Poston II High School Program
 Photo scan of cover found on internet

We are collecting artifacts for our future displays. 
We have a few items, but in need for many, many more.


Governmental Euphemisms

 New tab entitled,  "TERMINOLOGY" 
 What is the correct terminology to use?

-Internment camp
-Relocation camp
-Relocation Center
-Assembly Center



Experiences Returning Home......

     Ever wonder what it was like for the former prisoners returning "home" after being incarcerated for 3-4 years at Poston?

Here's one report:  

Kaudy, Kenneth and Akiko Mimura
 Mr. and Mrs. Kaudy Mimura and son, Kenneth (Poston 309-13-C) , returned to their home in Orosi, California on May 6, 1945. They own a 40-acre farm and raised peaches, grapes, and vegetable crops. The Mimura home was the target of a shooting on the night of May 24, although there was no injury nor damage done. While at Poston, Mr. Mimura was a representative of the Community Council. His brother, Ted, and his family had previously returned to Orosi and his parents will return soon from the Colorado River Project (Poston) to join their sons.     
 Photo credit: Hikaru Iwasaki Orosi, CA 6/27/45

 Source:  http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft187003px/

  Here's some reports of the violence published in several of the American concentration camp newpapers...

Granada News-Courier of February 21, 1945
     An unidentified person fired three shots at the home of Frank Osaki, 26, who recently returned to the Fowler district from Gila River (Arizona) relocation center, it was reported. Sheriff George J. Overholt announced his office is investigating the case.
     According to Deputy Sheriff Eugene Hunter, one of the shots was fired at the front door, another at a window and third through the screen porch adjoining the kitchen.
None of the shots struck Osaki, who was asleep in a bedroom on the opposite side of the house from where the shooting occurred. The incident took place on Saturday morning, Feb.10, ad about 1 o'clock, while Osaki was alone in the house.
     Since his return, Osaki told Hunter, only once did he feel any resentment shown of his presence. It occurred in a Fowler store, where a Filipino stared at him constantly but said nothing.
     Osaki and his brother, Moro Osaki, who was recently discharged from the Army, returned to the ranch about 6 months ago. Moro is not in Arizona making arrangements to bring west their parents.
     Hunter said his investigation failed to show any animosity in the neighborhood, of in Fowler, where Osaki transacts most of his business. Osaki is convinced his neighbors had nothing to do with the attack, asserting that they all have been friendly and aided him in reestablishing himself on his ranch.
     It turned out, though, that this was only part of a wave of violence against the Nisei in the Fresno area.

Gila News-Courier, February 21, 1945
     Unidentified persons in Fresno county last week set one evacuee's house on fire and blasted two other evacuees' houses with shotgun barrages.
     The home of Bob Morishige, who before the war operated Selma's largest garage, was set afire and destroyed Friday, Feb. 1, along with the owner's and several other evacuees furniture and household effects stored there, reported the L.A. Times. The loss was estimated at $7000.
     The blaze was pronounced as 'plainly of incendiary origin' by the Selma fire chief.
Morishige formerly resided in Canal and was the black manager of block 10.
     At about the same time that the fire occurred, a shotgun squad blasted a barrage of pellets into the house of S.K. Kakutani at Smith and Adam Avenue, on the outskirts of Fresno. Kakutani, his wife and three children, and another couple, Ty and Ray Arifuku, who were in the house were unhurt.
     Earlier in the week, three shotgun blasts were fired at the home of Frank Osuki, who had returned to California from Rivers three weeks ago.
Topaz Times of May 1, 1945
     Twenty minutes after four shots were fired into the Kishi home in Livingston, a second shooting occurred at the home of Bob Morimoto, honorably discharged soldier, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. One bullet passed through Morimoto's home.
     Sheriff Lucius Cornell of Merced said, "It's kind of difficult to find a suspect. We did find the bullet in one of the places though. Now all we've got to do is to find the suspect with the same kind of gun. If this keeps up I guess it will be a matter of putting someone out there. but you can't stay out there all the time. I don't know exactly what we're going to do."
 Topaz Times of May 1, 1945
      Kishi was home along with his wife, two daughters, and two other persons. They have two sons in the U.S. Army, both stationed at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota. The Granada News-Courier of May 3 noted that the bullets from both shootings were believed to have come from the same Springfield army rifle. It added that there had been seven shootings in Merced County since evacuees began to return.

Heart Mountain Sentinel of April 28, 1945
      Two Kishi brothers in the army wrote to the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes for protection for their parents and sisters.  They said 'Vandals have been terrorizing our parents and sisters returned to our family farm. Request necessary steps be taken to protect their lives and properties.'
     Both brothers were in training in the intelligence department for interpretation and translation duty in the Pacific theater. 
  Granada Pioneer of May 18, 1945
     Declaring that 15 shooting attacks against the evacuee returnees had brought no suspects to trial, Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes denounced the 'planned terrorism by hoodlums' in rural California. Ickes charged the 'hoodlums grow more desperate in their lawlessness' as evacuees return to their farms and homes. In addition to the shooting attempts, the interior secretary disclosed one attempted dynamiting, three arson cases and five 'threatening visits.'
     'In the absence of vigorous law enforcement, a pattern of planned terrorism by hoodlums had developed,' Ickes declared. 'It is a matter of national concern because this lawless minority seems determined to employ its Nazi storm trooper tactics against loyal Japanese Americans and law abiding Japanese aliens in spite of the state laws and constitutional safeguards designed to protect the lives and property of all of the people of this country.
     'Many of the evacuees' nisei sons are fighting the Japanese enemy in the Philippines, at Okinawa, and in other Pacific combat areas. They are far more in the American tradition than the race-baiters fighting a private war safely at home.'
     Shots have been fired into the homes of families with American service flags stars in the windows, stated Ickes.
     The secretary's statement was based on a WRA report covering incidents of the last four months. The report covers only violence cases and does not include 'economic boycotts and advertising campaigns conducted in Oregon, Washington, and California, or vandalism and theft of their property.'
 Topaz Times of May 15, 1945
Fresno, May 9-Two shots were fired here late last night at the home of Setsugo Sakamoto, 61-year-old Japanese resident and father-in-law of two servicemen.
     Sakamoto, a court interpreter for many years prior to evacuation, reported to the police that he heard a car pass at approximately 10:30 PM when the shots were fired.
     Police, upon a routine investigation, discovered that two .39 caliber bullets embedded in the house, but were unable to determine who fired them. They said that Sakamoto had been active in civic affairs for many years and had returned to his Fresno home from internment camp about a month ago. His daughters are married to a servicemen--one, a Caucasian.
Topaz Times, May 25, 1945
     Deputy sheriffs are seeking persons who fired four rifle bullets into the wall of a bedroom occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Masaru Miyamoto, recently returned Japanese evacuees, and their two small children, in their home on a 75-acre vineyard east of Selma.
     Deputy Sheriff Hubert Nevins said two of the bullets narrowly missed Mrs. Miyamoto and the others passed through a wall about seven feet above the floor. he said they fired from a passing automobile.
     The Miyamotos returned to the Selma district from the Gila River relocation center last month.

 Gila News-Courier, May 30, 1945
     Secretary of Interior Ickes reported last Saturday the first arrest for attempted shooting of Japanese Americans on the West coast. Ickes said he had been informed by the WRA that Earnest Multanen of Parlier, Calif., was arrested on May 25. He said Multanen had admitted firing a shotgun at the house of Charles K. Iwasaki (Poston 308-3-B) at Reedley, Calif., on May 20. 
Gila News-Courier of August 8, 1945
     Sometime during the night on July 31, a shot was fired into the commercial garage at 1402 Kern Street, Fresno, Calif., owned by a 45 year old Japanese-American, Tom Inouye, who returned recently from an Arkansas camp with his wife and son, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
     Police investigation admitted they had only the spent bullet for a clue, but said the shot was apparently fired from an automobile on the street, as indicated by the flight of the bullet. The bullet fired from a .22 caliber pistol, was a 'short' which entered a front window of the garage, struck the cash register, and shattered into three pieces.

Couple shares story of living in Japanese internment camps

April 24, 2012
Saburo Masada

     Like other Americans, Saburo Masada vividly remembers Dec. 7, 1941. He and his family were working on a newly purchased farm in California. While taking a break, they turned on the radio to listen to a program. That program was interrupted by a news flash: Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.
     “I still remember saying, ‘What a stupid thing Japan is doing. Who do they think they are bombing our country?’” Masada said.
     But within a short time, rumors circulated that Japanese Americans had something to do with the bombing — that they were loyal to Japan.
     Soon, Masada would never forget another date: March 16, 1942. That day, a U.S. Army truck drove into the front yard of the Masadas’ farm. All nine family members were loaded into it and taken to the Fresno fairgrounds. Once a fun place, the fairgrounds now was surrounded with barbed wire fences and guard towers with soldiers manning guns pointed at Saburo and other Japanese Americans.

It was only the beginning.

     During World War II, some 120,000 Japanese Americans and loyal permanent residents of Japanese ancestry were forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast and taken to camps where they were imprisoned for up to four years.
     On Monday, Masada and his wife, Marion, shared their experiences in the camps with students at Wahoo High School. Students from other schools throughout the state watched via a live video feed.
     The Masadas, born in California, served 43 years in the Presbyterian pastorate before retiring 17 years ago. They have spoken to clubs, churches and at schools.
They were eager to speak to students in Wahoo.
     “I want them to be aware of an important part of American history which has been left out of the history books,” Saburo told the Tribune. “Most people don’t know how it could have happened or what did happen.”
     Anti-Japanese sentiment actually emerged decades before the war. Saburo cited a May 1905 gathering of organizations in San Francisco to form the Asian Exclusion League to promote the anti-Japanese movement. In 1924, Congress passed the Asian Exclusion Act which prevented any further immigration from Japan to America.
     Saburo attributes the forced incarceration to various factors, which included economic competition because Japanese Americans dominated the vegetable and fruit market in California. He also said there were bigots who only wanted Caucasian people in the United States.
     These were but a few voices, but Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor provided them an opportune time to exploit fear.
     “The government said it was for national security reasons. We were a danger to the national security because we were Japanese — the face of our enemy, but it was all based on lies, rumors and propaganda and the newspapers just didn’t print what the intelligence agencies were saying — that there was no truth to the rumors.”
     Saburo said the public was duped and politicians — wanting to be elected or re-elected — backed the mass incarceration.
     President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration, on Feb. 19, 1942.
     “The government tried to say in the propaganda that it was to protect us, but the towers and the guns were pointed at us,” he said. “And you don’t protect innocent people by imprisoning them.”
     Raised to obey authority, Saburo said people didn’t try to escape. He cited an instance when a hearing impaired man was shot to death. The man, who had befriended a stray dog, was trying to retrieve the animal which had gotten past the fence. A boy trying to get a ball that had rolled away and went to the fence was shot to death as well.
     While he said the camps in which Japanese Americans were held were nothing like the German ones — those were death camps — he still calls them concentration camps.
     To Masada and other children, the incarceration was traumatic. Two-thirds of the prisoners were children under age 15.
Marion Masada
     Marion (Nakamura) was just 9 when she and her family were uprooted from their home and business. Her parents were successful truck farmers in Salinas. Marion had five siblings. They and other Japanese Americans were kept on a rodeo grounds for five months, before being transported in old, rickety trains to an Arizona camp (Poston 211-1-B). They got to take two duffel bags of belongings per person. They were given tags with numbers.
     “My mother drummed it into us that we were to remember our number because ‘they will not know you by your name from now on. You are a number.’ It was a way of dehumanizing us,” she said.
     She remembered the thick dust storms in Arizona. The family of eight lived in one room with no partitions. Beds were side by side. There was a community bathroom with showers for women and for men. There was one mess hall; her father was a cook and her mother a dietitian. Marion washed all the family’s clothes by hand and did the ironing. She had little time to play.
     One day, a friend invited Marion and her sister to stay overnight in her barracks. In the night, that girl’s father molested Marion, who kept the incident to herself for many years.
     “My whole experience in camp was a traumatic one I was made to feel that I started the war. I felt being Japanese was bad. … I felt a hurt I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know how to fight back, I would be so angry I would take it out on others,” she said.
After the war, the family discovered that their valuables, left with a landlord, had been looted.
     “Even our car was an empty shell,” she said.
     The family had difficult time finding housing. No one wanted to rent to them. She did make friends with a girl in high school, who invited her home on weekends. Marion fought tears as she told how she was loved like a member of that family.
     After their talks, the Masadas answered questions from the audience, which gave them a standing ovation.


Video of the Barrack Relocation

Video of the Poston barrack traveling back to Poston and the beginning ceremony, courtesy of George Nakamura. 
Turn on your speakers and click on the link below.

Photo courtesy of George Nakamura

Japanese news article with photos written by George Nakamura about the event.
Click on the link below.



 Lifting the electrical wires at the intersection
Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD
              Slowly moving down the road          
  Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD

                       Making its way out of Parker and approaching Four Corners
     Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD
 Passing through Four Corners
 Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD
    Moving slowly onward towards Poston
   Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD
                   Barrack arriving into Poston.  See the water tower?
     Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD

                           Arrival to the Poston Restoration Project site at Poston unit 1
   Photo courtesy of Jay Cravath, PhD
      The barrack made it safely back home to the 
  Poston Restoration Project site
Photo courtesy of Jose Jiminez/Jon Villalobos

Out of Parker, Arizona

                                               Filming to document the BIG MOVE
                                                    Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos

   Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos
 James Nubile videographer of the "Passing Poston" fame
                                                  Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos
Making the big turn onto the street
Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos

                                                                      Its gone!
                                                     Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos

                                                      "Wide load" coming through

                                                  Photo courtesy of Jon Villalobos

 Photo courtesy of Marlene Shigekawa

 Photo courtesy of Marlene Shigekawa

 Photo courtesy of Marlene Shigekawa

Video courtesy of Marlene Shigekawa 

Video courtesy of Marlene Shigekawa

Part of WWII internment camp is returned to Poston
by Wally Torres, 7/18/2012 

      From the ashes of a property known for its mystery emerges a rare thing indeed: a building taken almost 70 years ago from a World War II Japanese internment camp and kept at this property in Parker ever since.
     The old Alewine property, site of the long-abandoned Alewine Furniture Store, was recently razed to the ground after a series of fires and general deterioration (one of the fires was ignited intentionally in order to destroy a pile of unstable dynamite found there). The only items remaining Wednesday morning on the cleared city block were an old trailer and this mysterious wooden building.
     Built in 1942 at the ‘Poston Relocation Center’, the largest of ten internment camps built by the U.S. Government which was then filled with almost 18,000 Japanese-American people during World War II, the old barrack is one of many that were removed after the camp closed in 1945.
     Now, it is being transported back to Poston as part of a restoration project, and will be seen there by many visitors each winter who take trips to the site of the old internment camp. Steve, a Japanese-American who is involved in the building’s move, said there are two others like it.
     “One of them is in Los Angeles,” he said, “and the other is at the Smithsonian.”
     The oversized load was escorted by law enforcement through the town of Parker Wednesday morning, and then through the agricultural valley toward the center of the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation. It will remain there as a reminder of extraordinary times in America 70 years ago, circumstances that created Arizona’s third-largest ‘city’ in Poston, AZ.

 Source: http://www.parkerliveonline.com/2012/07/18/part-of-wwii-internment-camp-is-returned-to-poston/


Today's Peek at the Barrack

Photos courtesy of Jon Villalobos


More Vintage Poston Photos

Added more photos to our collection with the recent donation of photo scans. 

Thank you to the Charles M. Sawabe (Poston 17-10-A ) family. 

****To see the (Poston) Pictures blog site, click on "Pictures" 
listed under OUR OTHER SITES on the top left side.****


What happened to the auditorium?

Historic site destroyed in fire
by Patti Jo King
Special to the Times
Originally published in the Quartzsite Times, September 5, 2001

     The Japanese American Historical Society and the Arizona Preservation foundation were stunned to learn that the Poston Camp I "Hatch Center" gymnasium was destroyed by fire on August 5.  The gymnasium and its surrounding buildings were marked for preservation by the two organizations.
Photo date: 4/10/2010
Photo date: 4/2010
     The Poston Japanese Relocation Center, located 12 miles south of the town of Parker on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, was home to some 17,800 Japanese Americans during World War II.
     The internment camp was opened May 8, 1942 and included three separate units, Poston I, II, and III.  Poston I was the largest of the three units, containing an elementary school, and adobe auditorium and the Hatch Center gymnasium,  At its maximum population, the Relocation Center was the largest city in Arizona at the time.
     For many years since the camp's closure on November 28, 1945, Japanese camp survivors and their families have made pilgrimages to the site and in 1992, the Poston III Reunion Committee in conjunction with the Colorado River Tribal Historic Preservation Committee and the Arizona Preservation Foundation, erected a 30-foot high monument and kiosk at the site.  Plans for restoring the building are in the works.
     "I'm shaking from the news of the fire," stated Ruth Yoshiko Okimoto, PhD, one of the primary historians of Japanese Relocation Camps.  "We've lost our centerpiece for the restoration project."
     The Colorado River Indian Tribal council had passed a resolution in January to preserve the Poston I buildings.
"After the news of the fire, many internees have concerns about the security of the restoration project." Okimoto added.
     Okimoto is the author of a book entitled, "A Desert Home on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Poston 1942-1945."  The camp was the internment center for relocatees from Fresno, Sacramento, Kern County, southern California, the Monterey Bay area and southern Arizona.  24 Japanese Americans held at Poston later volunteered for combat duty and lost their lives during World War II. 
      Colorado River Tribal Fire Department Chief, Kitty Little, stated the cause of the fire is unknown and is still under investigation.

Source: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=944&dat=20010905&id=7dEwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ft0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=6558%2C2866202