Letter from Kenji Okuda to Mr. and Mrs. Farquharson dated June 2, 1942

Letter from Kenji Okuda to Mr. and Mrs. Farquharson dated June 2, 1942. Mary Farquharson Papers, 1942-1945, Acc. 397-5, Box 1, folder 1. University of Washington Libraries: Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives.

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Area A Headquarters
Camp H.
June 2, 1942

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Farquharson,

I realize that I should write this letter of thanks and appreciation for your kindness and thoughtful gifts, but rather than disclose my unlegible scrawl, I must type the letter out. I hope that you will excuse me. But I certainly did appreciate your pie, and it was cooked just the way I like it. Believe me, and it is not Oriental flattery… I’m more occidentalized, I hope,… but I am speaking the facts. And what a life saver it has been, for I have been able to sleep the extra ten minutes necessary for my well-being but which necessitate my missing out on breakfast... but I can eat at home. And I have taken full advantage of this opportunity.

This headquarter office is a madhouse… in one corner the carpenters who come in about once a week are madly and furiously pounding making their share of noise. At the same time eight typewriters are doing their share, and mine is contributing its piece. Those in here trying to make themselves heard are shouting away making the din slightly more aggravating. But one has to become accustomed to this, for the same thing occurs from day to day. I think that this is an excellent place to develop the powers of concentration.

As I continue to pound away, I realize that I cannot even attempt to express my gratitude for all that you have done not only for myself but for others, many more unfortunate than myself, (as if I were in an unfortunate predicament). But what can I do? Words so often sound hypocritical, and they fail to express the true feelings, especially when used by a novice such as I. The young couple and their children whom you brought down are doing excellently under the circumstances.

Life in camp is settling down, but correspondingly, the red tape gets thicker and thicker. The minor difficulties continue to crop up while some major ones are still unsettled. The greatest one so far has been the medical situation… the hospital in camp is still far from completed, but provisions to leave camp for medical care had not been made. But after some serious cases finally necessitated red tape cutting, the procedure is being clarified, and it seems that the American doctor in charge had been the bottleneck. But as some are clarified, more continue to arise. Now the major problem is that concerning visiting between and among the areas. One month has elapsed and no definite action seems to have been taken, and we are told to sit tight and wait for eventually visiting will be permitted. With no such assurance, individuals cannot be blamed if the try their darndest to get across the street, and when 100 or 200 get the same idea, it causes quite a headache.

At least half the camp seems to want to go to the Tule Lake Resettlement Center just south of the Oregon California border from Klamath Falls after reports from 200 who went as a volunteer crew have come back. Everything there is much more permanent, facilities are better and there is plenty of work to be done. But no one knows where this camp will be sent. The people do not want to go to Idaho, but I doubt if they will have a voice in the final decision. And the question mark is still a question mark.

Just a moment ago some one brought in a copy of the Constitution, and several are trying to find all of the passages which they feel have been violated by our forced removal. It’s an amusing way to pass the time by the way the boys are feverishly pouring over the manuscripts. But seriously, it is interesting to study the attitudes by which they are doing it… half-jokingly, half-seriously, but not with any sign of despair or futility. I certainly think, and perhaps I’m over-optimistic, that out of this experience we of Japanese ancestry will have profited in some manner, and I hope that this will counteract at least some of the difficulties which will be created by the unfortunate situation. How awkward my sentence structure!

As I understand the situation, Mr. O’Brien has arrived in Seattle this morning from Chicago, and I hope with good news. I’m anxiously awaiting the latest word from him... today, tomorrow, or the day after I’ll find out. If possibilities of getting out are good, I’m planning to try to go first to the Y.M. ?Y.W. Presidents’ School in New York which starts in early July and then go to Oberlin to start school. I’m still awaiting the letter from Oberlin as to my status, but since they had already promised to accept me. I’m quite sure that I will be entering that school. In this camp, Area A, are about 40 other students interested in going on to various colleges and universities, and they all seem to be on pins and needles. We can only hope and pray.

News is difficult to extract in this camp full of rumors of both a realistic and fantastic scale. And how rumors can spread… like wildfire, especially in as compact a group as this.

But living here I am more than ever convinced that pacifism is the only path to a real peace… force can never do.

Kenji Okuda