Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated June 10, 1943

Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated June 10, 1943. Higano Family Papers, Acc. 2870, Box 1, folders 9-11. University of Washington Libraries: Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives.

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Miami, Florida
June 01, 1943

Dear Norio -

Sweltering in the summer heat of the southlands, I’m writing this to you instead of being in attendance at the chapel services - but since I’m one of the discussion leaders, I suppose that I can pretty well go my own sweet way. It’s beautiful, colorful tropical dawn here in southern Florida, but I haven’t had a chance to see the much talked about beaches yet. At any rate, I was sent down here by the Congregational Churches to speak and be present at two of their week-long Pilgrim Fellowship conferences - after a couple of weeks here, I’m dashing right up again to Goshen, Indiana, with a day off in Cinncy (I hope), and after the conclusion of the Indiana conference, I’m going into Chicago for a couple of days, and then to Yellow Springs, Ohio to visit Nao at Antioch before going back to Oberlin to hit the books.

This will probably hit you in the midst of your finals, but I hope that you’re bearing up all right - private Higano - It seems that the question of whether Nisei are permitted into the various specialized courses is pretty much up to the commander of the corps area, for Nisei at Oberlin have been flatly rejected. On the other hand, a couple of fellows in Cleveland with Japanese fathers and Caucasian mothers were drafted, so there appears to be no clear cut policy as I see it.

I’ll bet St. Louis is getting the unbearable heat again - and Oberlin, I’m afraid won’t be much better. By the way, I must congratulate you on your election into Phi Beta Kappa - you lucky dog - and grad. from the U. of illegible too. But good luck to you - you really don’t need it though -

I left Oberlin after commencement exercises were finished heading for New York - Makino & my roommate left westward for Lake Geneva - Bill returns to Oberlin, but Sammy’s going all the way home to camp before school starts on July 6. In New York Betty showed me a few of the sights; I met Andy Morimoto, Takezo Tsuchiya, who has dropped down to N.Y. for a few days, George Rendquist, Frank Watanabe, Kazuko and Teruko Tajitsu, Lily and Mariko Mukai, Mrs. Hasegewa (Ruriko Iheda), Saburo Kido (JACL bigshot), Toshiko Senda, Fuki Fukiage, and Mr. & Mrs. Togi Fuyihira among others - saw Columbia U., Greenwich Village, Radio City and the famous Rockettes, Times Square, Fosdick’s Riverside Church, Grant’s Tomb, and the Statue of Liberty (from a distance). Don’t I sound like a novice traveler gaping at the world? And Andy, Frank W., the Tajitsu sisters & I took in a nightclub featuring Guy Lombardo’s orchestra. I hadn’t planned on anything, so I wore an open collar sport shirt, and the head waiter insisted he wouldn’t let me in without a tie - what a scramble. We stopped half a dozen taxis, but New York was hot, & the taxi drivers didn’t have them - we finally flagged one down and he jewed a buck out of me. It was fun though - running around downtown New York around 11 looking for a necktie. Dancing was great - music superb -

On my way down, I stopped off in Philadelphia too & met the Homer Morrises, Clarence Pickett, Student Relocation, Walt Kato, Chihiro Kikuchi is making damn good money teaching, and several kids from California.

Life back at college wasn’t bad at all - invited to Senior Prom by a swell girl - have a board job for the summer term - but faced with the fact that during the summer there will be only 100 girls and at least 800 fellows (a large Navy V-12 unit is coming). But I hope to manage, what with a good lead on several of the girls - and Cleveland isn’t too far away. Incidentally I met Abe Hagiwara, Vic & Mrs. Kambe, Tom Kanno of Green Lake, and Kane out there. Abe’s got a swell boy’s work job in the Cleveland Y. Kane’s graduated and is looking up prospects for a job - passed Federal Civil service and hopes to get on a WLB or Federal Housing post in Cleveland. If those don’t pan out, he’s got graduate scholarships from U. of Missouri and U. of Iowa to fall back upon - not bad at all.

My grades the first term at Oberlin weren’t bad, except for a C in German - five hours too. The others were As, which makes me eligible for honors work - but I’m going to have to work harder the summer term. Since the Navy is taking over all of the big dorms, we have to live in private houses - my address will be Regent, 211 No. Professor St., Oberlin, Ohio. If you want to get a hold of me before school starts, just write c/o Soichi Fukui, 278 W. College, Oberlin, 7amp; he’ll forward the letter to me - but you’ll probably be pretty busy once you get into the Army.

Have to lead a class very soon, so I shall cut this letter short. I won’t even have time to reread it, so please overlook the errors. People down here seem to treat the few Japanese around very fairly, & Negro discrimination doesn’t seem to carry over. Be good—