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Miss Evanson's Class

Ella C. Evanson taught at George Washington Junior High School in Seattle. Among her students were many Japanese Americans who were sent off to Camp Harmony and later to Minidoka. Students were asked to write short messages in an autograph book prior to evacuation. Later students wrote Ella Evanson from camp.

Most of the letters show the optimism of the children but the details of life that emerge -- beds filled with straw, lining up for meals, the boredom of camp life -- provide a glimpse into the drastic changes these students faced as they left comfortable homes in Seattle for a prison camp.

The letters here are a small selection from the Ella C. Evanson scrapbook. Names of students have been omitted.


Miss Evanson's Class, George Washington School. Photographs dated April 1942, from Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections.
Second photograph of the class.
Class photograph.
Scrapbook Entry, dated March 20, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections.
Image of page 1 and page 2.
Dear Miss Evanson

I will start out my letter by writing about the worst thing. I do not want to go away but the government says we all have to go so we have to mind him. It said in the Japanese paper that we have to go east of the cascade mt. but we were planning to go to Idaho or Montana.

Now that the war is going on many Japanese men, women and girls are out of jobs and a lot of my friends father are in consertration [sic] camp. If I go there I hope I will have a teacher just like you. And rather more I hope the war will be strighten [sic] out very soon so that I would be able to attend Washington school.

Scrapbook Entry, dated April 17, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections. Dear Miss Evanson,

It makes me sad to write in this book for it will mean departure.

I hate to be leaving Seattle, for I'll not see my friends, my teachers, nor my school but there is nothing I (we) or anyone can do about it.

I have enjoyed being a pupil of yours very much.

Scrapbook Entry, dated March 25, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections. Dear Miss Evanson,

When the time comes for the Japanese people to move out of Seattle it will be hard to go because I was born here. But I will not forget the teacher of my old school and Washington School because they are so kind and I learn many things from them. I wish I can find some teacher that was as nice as you teachers was.

I am a American.

Scrapbook Entry, dated March 23, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections. Dear Miss Evanson

I am sorry we have to evacuate because I will miss my studies, teacher's, friend's and our principal, Mr. Sears.

Maybe it is better for us to go and do what the government says. I hope there is a school where I can continue with my studies.

As you know Seattle is my home town so I am sorry to leave here. I hope this war will soon be over because then I could come back and to attend the Dear Old Washington School.

Letter dated May 10, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections.
Image of page 1 and page 2.

Camp "C," Block 2,
43rd Quarter
Puallup [sic], Wash
May 10, 1942

Dear Miss Evanson and Pupils,

After 2 days of packing and fixing our new home in Puallup [sic] I wish to say, "hello" in a short way. Now to begin with our room, we have one room shared among 7 people and the walls are full of holes and cracks in which cold and chile [sic] air struck us in a funny way that I could not sleep at all last night. We had so little to eat that after reaching our room I ate a sandwitch [sic] and some crackers. Our beds are on loose by the U.S. Army and our mattress is a cloth bag strawed [filled?] by hay.

Now is a nice place to end my letter so "good bye" until next time and please write to me, all.

Your Seattle evacuee,
Name

Letter dated May 10, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections.

B-2-48 Camp Harmony
Puyallup, Wash
May 10, 1942

Dear Miss Evanson,

How are you? I am fine, but I had my typhoid shot and now I have a headache, and my arm aches.

I arrived in Puyallup, Friday. We passed Kent, Auburn, Sumner and then to our camp. I guess you're wondering why we came here so late. Well, we were delayed because we had to go to the Clinic.

We have to make our own chairs, tables and the mattress for the bed with hay in it. (Isn't it terrible.)

How is the class? Are there any Japanese in the class (7B3) like Yeoko Yamaguchi? It she is there would you ask her for her address?

We eat from 6 to 7 (morning), 11:30 to 12:30 (afternoon), 5 to 6 o'clock in the evening.

The shacks are cold and has holes in between the logs. Our place is in Camp B.

Your friend,
Name

P.S. Please write to me, and the class also because it is lonely here. May I have your picture too?

Letter dated May 15, 1942. Ella C. Evanson Scrapbook. Uw Libraries Special Collections.

D-2-88
Camp Harmony
Puyallup, Wash.
May 15, 1942

Dear Seven B3 Class:

Hello! Hello! These exclamations were said by all who came out on Friday morning.

Our family had a little difficulty in finding our cabin for some one had written the wrong number on our door. Everyone was so nice to us, so I felt right at home. They seemed to be glad to see us and tried to help us in every way.

We wait in long lines for our meals. Our lunch consisted of milk, bread, spaggetti [sic], potatoes and salad. You are not able to get a second helping except for milk, tea, and bread. By the time you get to the table you are not very hungry. After lunch my friend showed me around the grounds trying to help me get acquainted with my new home.

The government furnishes us many blankets, beds and mattress covers.

Today I had my medical examination. They check your heart, pulse, teeth, feet, take your temperature and other things.

Please write because you really learn to "loaf" out here. And my only thing to do is to write. My address is
D-2-88
Camp Harmony
Puyallup, Wash.

The lights must go off at ten o'clock so I must stop.

Please write,
Yours as ever,
Name


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20 March 1997

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Last modified: Thursday March 15, 2007 (mudrock)