In May of 1942 approximately 7,390 Americans of Japanese descent from Western Washington and Alaska were sent to the Puyallup Assembly Center on the Western Washington Fair grounds. This temporary facility, called Camp Harmony, was part of a system of internment camps set up for Japanese Americans. Later they were sent to War Relocation Authority camps at Minidoka, Idaho, Tule Lake, California and Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
I learned of the World War II Japanese internment while attending Clover Park High School (class of 1964). Two of my buddies had their families rounded up and interned: Larry Miki and Tom Morio. Both of their fathers fought in the highly decorated 442 Regimental Combat Team whose motto was “Go For Broke.”
After being declined admission to Pacific Lutheran University, I attended Olympic College in Bremerton. I improved my grades and was sitting on the sands of Ocean Shores with Larry and my best friend Rich Christensen in late August of 1965. Both asked why I didn’t join them at UPS. My grades were up and so within weeks I became a “Logger.” By the end of the first quarter, my friends were gone. Rich got a job locally, and Larry joined the army. I think Larry was sent to Alabama or Mississippi. I remember in a letter he had to ask his Captain which water fountain he should drink from – White or Colored. The officer informed him he was White. This was during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights era of the sixties.
On December 11th, Tacoma Little Theatre is presenting “A Minidoka Christmas.” The virtual reading is edited and directed by Aya Hashiguchi Clark, from interviews collected by Densho, a nonprofit organization started in 1996, with the initial goal of documenting oral histories from Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. This production will air live via YouTube on Friday, December 11, 2020 at 7:30pm.
This event is very personal to director Aya Hashiguchi Clark. Aya says, “Both my parents were interned at Minidoka during the war. My mother was in Jr. High at the time. My father was already a young adult when he was put in the camp, but only stayed for a few months. He was drafted to serve in the army and spent the remainder of the war fighting in Italy and France with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Unit.”
A Minidoka Christmas is an evening of first-person stories of those who were incarcerated in internment camps during the holidays of World War II. Over the course of eight scenes some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest talent will bring these powerful moments to life.
A Minidoka Christmas features the talents of: Leilani Berinobis, Randy Clark, Ko Hashiguchi, David Hsieh, and Joy Misako St. Germain.
A comment from an American of Japanese ancestry:
It was the first time I saw my mom cry. But apparently the FBI came very early in the morning and — my mom went to answer the door and they kind of shoved her aside, not brutally, but shoved her aside, and then they kind of just stormed the house and shook my father, made him get up. When they started going upstairs, my mom shouted upstairs to my sisters who said, “Get dressed, get dressed!” And apparently the men thought that my mom was giving some kind of signal or something ’cause apparently they drew out their guns and rushed upstairs. And then they barged in my sisters’ bedroom and asked my sisters if they have ever seen anything like this and showed them the gun. “Does your father have one like this?” My other sister remembers the men putting their hands through the sugar bowls and through the rice bowls, and apparently ransacked closets looking for things. My sister says they took away with them two items. One was my father’s bow. My father apparently was really good with a bow and arrow, and he loved to show off how good he was. The other was sort of a souvenir Japanese sword.
This event will be FREE on December 11, 2020 at 7:30pm with donations gladly accepted. To watch the performance you may join by visiting – tacomalittletheatre.com
You may also use the following the link to YouTube
For questions or more information, please call the Tacoma Little Theatre Box Office at 253-272-2281.