Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated March 8, 1943

Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated March 8, 1943. Higano Family Papers, Acc. 2870, Box 1, folders 9-11. University of Washington Libraries: Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives.

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Noah Hall
March 8, 1943

How the hell are you, Norio?

It’s with great misgivings and doubts that I pick up the pen to write you - the first decent letter I’m writing since I got here, and this is no bull. Apology isn’t enough, I realize, but I felt that I had to write you, and so tonight, with a German lesson still to do, I’m dashing off a line to you. I’ve been busier than the proverbial ant, and I’ll quote statistics shortly to prove it. I can’t believe that I’ve been here a month already, and I left camp two months ago - it’s been plenty long since I saw you last. But please believe me when I say that I haven’t been neglecting my correspondence by horsing around - which I haven’t - and I hope to hell you forgive me.

First - thanks a lot for showing me around St. Louis. And please give my regards to all of them there - Ken Iwata, Dorothy Murdock, Gladys, Margaret, Jiro Yama. et al, for I haven’t the time to write them. It’s a hell of a spot I’m in - a 1,000 letters promised & nothing to show for it.

Before I wander too far astray, I might as well start reciting the chain of events since I left you there in St. Louis that beautiful Sunday morning. Jan. 4, wasn’t it? As I got closer to Chicago, the weather got colder and colder. During the week there I almost froze to death - today in Oberlin the mercury has been hovering around the 0 mark, and that “ain’t” warm. A week in Chicago - took Yasuko to a play at the Civic Opera (colder than hell) (cost me $2.20 per seat), but I enjoyed it like hell. She seemed very quiet - a petite number, I might say. Not a peep out of both of us about you - you seemed to be the forgotten number. I stayed in Evanston - what a time that night. From the Loop to where she stays, back to the illegible, to the loop & up to Evanston, & I crawled into bed at 3 - frozen solid. I stayed right behind the Northwestern stadium.

I couldn’t get over it, tho, when Haru Kurosaka came up to Evanston to hear me the night I pulled in - knock me over with a toothpick!! And the other girls there seemed very much struck with her beauty - and who says she ain’t? Had a couple of good sessions in the I House lounge with her, Mitzi Nakao, Sachi Nakauchi, also Gladys when she pulled in, a gal named Connie Endo from Hood River and Tulelake - the lone male was I! Also met Beatrice in the Loop - took Gladys into the Palmer House café for lunch, and I almost shrieked when I saw the prices. Sponged some money off of her to get here - a close shave, particularly since I bought a suit - with Gladys advising. I wanted to take Haru out dancing, but the weather was too bad. Also saw Yosh Kawano - same as ever - and Misako who, to quell all rumors, was working full time at the CTS office, also Atsuko Yano at dinner that night. Some of the other Seattleites - Ruth Yoshimoto, Kayko Kurose, Michiko Shiga - but no fellows.

Bill met me at the train nine miles from here at Elyria and brought me in. The day was beautifully warm, but I haven’t seen another since. I have seen more snow than ever before - enough to last me a lifetime.

Here I am at Noah - Bill’s at the other end of the Hall two doors down - here he is bothering me again. Incidentally this is a “Jap” floor - Sammy Oi from UCLA and our camp is my roommate - a couple of days ago Soichi Fukai from UC and Ht. Mtn. came to take the room between Bill and us. Plenty of bulling; taking jitterbug lessons from Soichi, but no dates yet. Last night Sammy went to a formal - what a “handsome” man in Bill's tails, my scarf, Soichi’s shoes, etc. There are about 17 Niseis here now - three graduated a couple of days after I came - Sue Hisanagi, Harry’s gal; Ichiko Mukai, Bill’s interest, & a third, one Mits Matsuno, all from Hawaii. Also Haruye Morinaga got her degree from the U of Washington - Harry & Ichiko are working in Cleveland now. Besides the girls cornered off, there’s little of any caliber now - so I’ll have to find some new “haoles” - as if those cornered off were.

I’ve gone into Cleveland only once, with expenses paid, to speak, but Sammy & I are going in this Sat. to visit the WRA office’s there. Since arrival I’ve spoken a half dozen times - once for chapel service with a fellow from Tulelake, Dave Okada, & a Caucasian girl - again at a morning worship service (7:30am). These two speeches took a good 20 hours to prepare & I don’t think the results were worth it. With Bill & a couple of Caucasian campus big shots as chairmen, we’re planning a conference of Nisei & interested Caucasians on relocation, et al, to take place here about the second weekend in May. Would any from St. Louis come if the plans go through for such a meet - to bring Niseis from as many colleges as possible plus “Y” members, any others interested & not necessarily students, with, we hope, some good leadership. AJ Muste of the Fellowship of Reconciliation may be here - give me your thoughts on the matter. Much of the work will be undertaken by Caucasians - we have a group of about 30 (15 Nisei & 15 C.) initially interested in putting the program over - incidentally I read in the Tulean Dispatch that Kazue Kiyono got a release to Western College down south at Oxford, Ohio, & dropped her a card, but no answer - yet.

Did you say something about an hour’s homework in German being enough? Not at this school!! good two hours plus per night (5 days a week) & I’m getting only Cs. We’re traveling like an express train, & that’s no bull. Also taking Soc. 2, Poli Sci 2, & Econ - distributive system - keeps me plenty busy. This school’s no snap -

Oberlin’s a nice college town - plenty of illegible around, and how the fellows partake. Bill wants me to give you his regards to interrupt the trend of thought. It’s cold, but I’m looking forward to spring, moonlit nights, strolling out to the illegible - everything seems so damn unreal here in College. The starkness of camp life as contrasted with the luxury of college life - meals at the dorms leisurely partaken - what a life! Must close now - very abruptly - but until again - be good.