Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated April 29, 1943

Letter from Kenji Okuda to Norio Higano dated April 29, 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

8 a.m.
April 29, 1943

Dear Norio,

In order to keep myself from falling asleep and to do something worthwhile during my Soc 2 lecture hour, I’m going to at least start this letter to you. Somehow this is the dullest course that I’m taking - dry, boring lectures with absolutely no class discussion which made Soc 1 at the U of W so interesting. It’s a sad course, but I’m lasting through it pretty well.

You might be interested to know that Sally Shimanaka is now here in Oberlin College as a working girl. Surprised me the other day by calling me up after she came in, and I’ve seen her only once—ditto for Makino. Perhaps I should make it a point to date her occasionally, but there are so many others who are worth knowing - & swell girls. And Tom Bodine is dropping in on us next Tuesday, & we hope to have a big day together with him. I’m really looking forward to meeting him as he leaves on a three months’ tour of the ten relocation centers - I’d move heaven and earth to be able to go along with him, but that’s only an idle wish. Yesterday I got a letter from Pvt Homer Hadley in air corps training at the Oklahoma College of A & M in some jerkwater Oklahoma town known as Stillwater - been there for one month after being yanked from the U of W. And so the parade continues.

Someday next week I’m going into Cleveland to see “Three Sisters,” the stage play starring Catherine (sp?) Cornell - had gotten tickets for Tuesday, but with Tom coming, I’ll have to try to get the day changed. It’ll set me back plenty, the trip in, since I’m dragging a “bag” along - a Haole gal - illegible voice major from the wilds of Nebraska - intelligent, attractive, & with some money to burn. My love life is way behind normal, but I’m getting a good start - broke in during spring vacation with two dates - two different girls - two nights in a row. Then my big one - an invitation to a formal by a girl born & raised in India - tall, lots of fun, nice looking!! Have been alternating between girls - and enjoying myself with both. I’ve got a date for a “rec” tonight with still another. I’m enjoying life here at Oberlin more and more as time proceeds apace.

How’s your hormoned sex life? Anything worthwhile, or are you grinding away in self-imposed hermithood. Or does the nurse from Oregon take care of that? Just curious - just curious -

My job in the student council is pretty much what I want to make of it - been trying to think thru the various student body problems, but proceeding very slowly. Working with an all-girl body, or practically so, is very, very difficult, and I’ve got to use tact and intelligence to get my ideas across to them and to the student body. The Student Council here seems to have very little actual power, and what power it has has been pretty well apportioned out already. But there is a greater cohesiveness and deeper unity here than at Washington, naturally, and I enjoy working with it and thinking about it. Things have to proceed slowly!

Spring has come to Oberlin - I hope. The buds are now out - I’m looking forward to the green foliage of real spring - the days are comfortably warm, the air is clear, but rains aren’t infrequent. Very much like Northwest weather. The other day I dropped over to Allegheny College in Meadsville, Pa., to speak at their chapel - they claimed that their locality was one of the wettest in the U.S., and I had no reason to doubt their word. Missed a day of classes to travel, but I had a wonderful time over there.

The second Sunday of this month Bill & I stopped off at Ohio Wesleyan and met Sachi, Fuki, & a girl whose brother I knew in Granada. Told Sachi that you hadn’t heard from her for a long time - she promised to write; has she done so? They seem to be getting along very well at Delaware, but evidently miss dates, dances and a spontaneous fun with fellows - the Nisei girls tend to suffer in this deal - fellows can date Haoles or Yabos, but few Yabo gals ever get Haole dates. Ain’t that too bad?

My plans for the month between spring and summer terms are still indefinite and uncertain - have been thinking seriously of encouraging parents to move back to Idaho since Nao is now out at Antioch and Toyo hopes to get out on a stenographic job - parents would be with relatives and intimate friends. If they decide to move, I may go back home to help in moving process, but if they want to stick it out, I’ll stay around here during that month - Lake Geneva, the east coast, Chicago - a carefree life of a Riley for a month.

Have the newspaper headlines about the Tokyo executions had a noticeable effect on public sentiment in St. Louis?1 From my sister’s letter (from camp), the people within the centers are frightened, and very much so, by the unfortunate attitudes which they think the general American public has adopted. I can’t claim to be in touch with public opinion, I’m not, but I don’t feel that the effects have been so detrimental to threaten the well-being of the evacuees now relocated or those who would come out gradually. And I also feel that the unfortunate effects will wear off in the sense that the anger aroused by the Pearl Harbor attack has tended to wear off as time went by. Do you agree at all? Your being in a big city might give you a better picture than me here in this ivory-towered college existence.


I’m taking up again after a couple hours of classes and hope to finish this letter before lunch. (Plenty of time). Makino is still very much interested in Miss Mukai - from Hilo - and ditto for Harry in Sue Hisanaga. Don’t see very much of the latter who seems duly engrossed in studies, women, and work. At present I can’t claim to be engrossed in any of three - a little work, some women, and little work. But this isn’t a bad life, to merely repeat a previous assertion. And give me the lowdown, if anything breaks, on your Army training set-up. I’ve heard that there were two or three Niseis in the ERC, but that a number who applied were turned down. Would be interested in hearing your angle.

My stomach’s growling - I can’t think - so until again - be good - regards to Harvey, Ryo, & others whom I know. Until again




1. The executions refer to the the October 15, 1942 execution of three American airmen in Japanese controlled Shanghai. The three men, Bill Farrow, Dean Hallmark and Harold Spatz were part of Doolittle's raid on Tokyo in April of 1942. The news of these executions was made public in April 1943.