Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated March 28, 1943

Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated March 28, 1943. Higano Family Papers, Acc. 2870, Box 1, folders 9-11. University of Washington Libraries: Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives.

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

Noah Hall
Mar. 28, 1943

Dear Norio,

Your ideas on the proposed conference were worthwhile - those plus a number of other doubts caused the conference plan to be dismissed for the time being. But a number of other important things have happened to change the whole picture. Thanks a lot, Ole boy, for your prompt reply for which I am hoping & trying to reciprocate - spring vacation has very happily descended upon us to make that a possibility. Today, at the hall desk of this dorm, I’m doing some writing while I work for my room during vacation week - although most of the kids have gone home, about 150 of us are left, & since most of them eat in one dining hall, I’m making good contacts. But don’t worry - I haven’t had a date since I got here.

So the Romeo gallivanted up to Chicago!! I had half a notion to head for Chicago this week (esp. since I heard Woody was there for Y. conference), but a paper in Poli Sci ties me down. I don’t mind staying here at all - sleep, eat, study a little, play a lot - living at this leisurely pace certainly has its advantages! To get back to your trip to Chicago & Miss Tani, I’m very much interested in your comments about her ability to talk seriously & deeply, for they apply quite well to both Harry’s and Bill’s girl. They’re lots of fun, but get into some serious discussions, & they shut up like clams. As a cure I would suggest, if you go to Chicago again, Miss Haru Kurosaka. Perhaps not as much spontaneous personality, but she thinks!!

To get back to the yabos here, there is still nothing worthwhile among the products, so it’ll have to be the wahinis. Perhaps tonight - I’ve vowed to get three or four dates this week to break the social ice with a bang - a real grand debut - I’ve been looking around, and the field is by no means limited - and the girls are anxious to step out too. Before I go any further, I’d like to take up the questions you raise about the conference although the affair itself has been cancelled. First, the conference was not to have been of Nisei, but of students and people interested in getting the facts on the Nisei situation to which Nisei would be invited as contact sources with the Caucasians & others present. The main purpose, or one of them, was to try to get people from schools which were not taking Nisei - those who have been in doubt about the acceptability of students from the relocation centers to reconsider their views. Of course Nisei students can study techniques too. As to the advisability of Student Relocation sending out suggestions, it would be very difficult to get concrete action where there is no action now without a strong push in the right direction.

The reasons for discontinuing plans for the confab were along slightly different lines. First, the point was made that Nisei have been accepted here by both the townspeople & the college, and there was no necessity to call attention to the “problem” as such while a solution, at least here, was taking place so smoothly. The advisability of centering only on the Nisei was brought up - opinion was expressed that conference on general racial questions would be better, but there isn’t sufficient time to hold such a conference by the end of the semester. There were a number of other points raised, but the plans are now centered on a conference, probably in the fall, on the whole interracial problem. Plans necessarily proceed slowly.

German still has me going. We cover grammar from the beginning to subjunctions, etc. - all that we get - in eight weeks, & so if that is comparable to the grammar at the U. of W., we go twice as fast - at least. The last 6 weeks of the semester we read books - what a grind!! My Poli Sci paper which will take my interest this week is going to be on the WRA - there is very little information to be garnered other than in the organs with which we are familiar, the Pacific Citizen, the FOR, the WRA itself, etc.

My two hours at the desk is almost up, but I’ll try to finish this letter & drop it in the box on my way to dinner. How’s the weather down in St. Louis, to come back to a time worn question. Spring has finally come to Oberlin - yesterday Bill, Dave Okada, from Sacramento, & I were shagging hard balls hitting them to each other - for the exercise. A few puddles were frozen this morning, but otherwise it’s a pretty nice day. Tomorrow & the next day the weather should hold up, & I’ll have a little fun around here. Next Sunday I’m spending the day in Cleveland & will speak that evening to a church group. The Theology school certainly offers fine speaking contacts - all-expenses paid, etc. Makino today is out with his girl who has come back from Cleveland where she works (after graduation), & Harry is on his way to New York now while his girl stays behind working. That’s the life.

I haven’t gotten around to purchasing a tux, but I’m afraid that I’ll be needing one soon. It seems that there is a scarcity of men here (for some unknown reason), & so I was nominated for Student Council president. I am now Student Council President of Oberlin College! Greet me with the proper amount of dignity - with the dignity that the prexy of the Associated Students of Oberlin College will receive. I understand the AP & UP were down here to get more news, & so I may have become an “international figure” as the Dean of Men jokingly told me. The news was also broadcast over a newscast & mentioned in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. What a life!!! Only a month & a half here, a part scholarship out of the clear blue sky, & now the Student Council!

Summer session - to attend or not - had been one of my main worries the last few weeks, but that has been resolved. I guess that I’ll stay on thru the summer to hold my office three semesters & hope to hell I can accomplish something during that time. Oberlin’s a good school, but far from perfect & there’ll be plenty of work to be done around here. I hope that I don’t fall down on the task-


I just couldn’t make it, & so I’ll finish this letter while a fast & furious bull session goes on in here among Bill M., Soichi Fukui from Ht. Mtn. (knows Itano), Sammy Oi, & a fellow from the floor above. After dinner, we got into a bridge session, & so I didn’t break away until half an hour ago. Dancing is now the topic of conversation - women, sex, & fun - what else can we talk about? I’m getting sleepier than hell—can’t write about anything. Be good - I’ll be plenty busy from here on in.


Regards to all you there—