Letter from Bill Hosokawa of the Emergency Defense Council Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League dated May 7, 1942. Emergency Defense Council of the Seattle Chapter, Japanese American Citizens League. Box 18. Manuscripts and University Archives, UW Libraries.
May 7, 1942Office of the National Secretary
Dear Mike, Larry, or whoever it may be. This is an interim report on local progress in general, and regarding JACL Bulletin No. 158 in particular, typed hurriedly between preparations for evacuation of the last contingents from Seattle.
Effective May 4, daily and Sunday editions of the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst) will be sent to your office pursuant to Bulletin No. 147. The subscription for both papers is to run for two years. Both newspapers, especially the Post-Intelligencer, have been very fair about the whole evacuation matter, and extremely sympathetic in their treatment. One of the reporters of the P-I was influential in correcting some deficiencies regarding lavatories at the camp when he put up a very vociferous squawk about them.
On another sheet is a list of individuals who have been solicitous about our welfare, and who may be counted on to go to bat for us in a pinch.
We have had only the finest sort of co-operation from the officials concerned regarding evacuation. To begin with, Lt. Col. Paul B. Malone, Acting Provost Marshal for the States of Washington and Oregon, came to JACL offices and presented a plan for self-government. I am enclosing copies of his plan. It should be self-explanatory, but perhaps a few notes may be necessary. Camp Puyallup, or rather Camp Harmony at Puyallup, is divided into four separate areas, ranging in size from 19 acres down, and capable of housing from 3,000 down to 850 according to the size of each area.
A headquarters staff was set up to administer the government of all areas. Set up on a military basis, it was divided into four sections: G-1 for personnel; G-2 for information; G-3 for operations; G-4 for supply, and a special section to take care of such matters as policing, fire watch, etc. This headquarters staff was to plan and set policy for the entire camp.
Each of the four areas is to have its own area staff, planned on the same order as the headquarters staff. Each area is broken down into sections, each section into groups, and each group into sub-groups, with about 30 individuals in each sub-group. As you can see this is similar to Army structure where the breakdown is from division down to the platoons.
The civilian director of the camp was prevailed upon to accept most of the features of the plan, and Area A is functioning already. Bill Mimbu, attorney, is installed as Area A supervisor. Jimmie Sakamoto is chief supervisor, in charge of all four camps. Fortunately Bob Turner, the civilian in charge of the camp, turned out to be a personal friend of Jimmie's.
The first movement of cooks, bakers, and other technicians and their families moved out of Seattle on April 28. They numbered about 300. On April 30 about 800 moved, and on the following day about another 800.
The second batch of 2,000 and the third batch of 1,200 start moving this week-end. Two groups of about 500 each will leave Friday, May 8, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Same process Saturday, and one movement on each of the days May 10 and 11. After all those people move out there will be about 1,000 Japanese or less within Seattle proper.
Puyallup, south of the city, approximately an hour's drive out. It is in the heart of a Japanese farming district, and so the shock of transition is almost non-existent. People have been disturbed, however, by reports that considerable numbers of people from the Puget Sound country will be sent to Pinedale, California. At first this place was said to be situated on the outskirts of Fresno, which immediately started rumors of the torrid climate of said district. We have been informed since that Pinedale is in the hills back of Sacramento and not such a bad place. Unfortunately a good many people living just outside the Seattle city limits, and normally to be considered members of the Seattle community, will be shipped off to Pinedale instead of to Puyallup.
Reports from Puyallup have been pretty fair. Quarters leave much to be desired, but the attitude of the individuals themselves as well as the helpful attitude of the officials in charge have helped to better the situation. At first glance the camp is nothing but an expansive chicken coop enclosed in barbed wire. Houses are long "apartments" of seven rooms each, one family per room. Mess halls seat about 500 each, and Japanese cooks, waiters and dishwashers are now working. Further development must wait until the camp is entirely settled and its staff can get down to the routine of administration when there will be more time for improvement.
The worst thing about the grounds is lack of space. There is not even room for a baseball diamond, and so the problem of recreation is going to be tough, especially during the hot summer months if no work program can be provided. We have very capable morale and recreation officers at work. Among contemplated projects are short programs, 10 or 15 minutes after every evening meal at the tables, including group singing, quiz contests and the like. The group at the camp held their first dance last Saturday, which, except for one, was the first held by the community since December 7.
From the looks of things Puyallup is going to be full of city slickers, farmers comprising less than one per cent of the total. How they intend to re-settle us is a moot matter.
The Community has back(ed) the JACL in a most heartening matter, and the manner in which the JACL has responded justifies the responsibility the Army has placed on it. We were fortunate to have good key men who worked with the problem since the first week of the war, and it was a simple matter for them to swing over into the evacuation phase. We have moved our offices from 517 Main Street (which had been one of the busiest centers in town) to the Maryknoll School at 1610 East Jefferson Street, in the residential district and the last area to be evacuated. Adjoining the JACL office is the office of the WCCA, which is shared by the Army. Right in the next room is the Courier Office, where Jim Sakamoto, paperless, holds out as general contact man.
The JACL office will move out to camp when the last batch leaves. We have already obtained permission to take our files and office equipment along. Practically our entire membership will be at Camp Harmony, Puyallup. A few have been evacuated voluntarily, and are in various sections of Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana and the mid-West. It will be some weeks yet before we can check through our files and bring our address list up to date. You can get in touch with practically all officers of the JACL or the Emergency Defense Council of the JACL at Camp Harmony, Puyallup.
We have also acted as a clearing house of information regarding evacuation for chapters in surrounding areas, especially the three chapters closest to us.
In conclusion, it seems there is very little at present which can be done. Everything has progressed extremely smoothly, all things considered. I hope I shall have time to make another report soon. In the meanwhile if there is anything special you may require from this area, please don't hesitate to call on us. Both Jimmie Sakamoto and myself are on 24-hour call.
28 January 1997