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

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

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Dec. 28, 1943
Oberlin, Ohio

Dear Norio:

Since this is a no-cut day, and I am required to attend this dull class in Economics. (Public Control of Monopoly), I shall spend the hour profitable by writing a letter to you. I have nothing but profuse apologies for my lengthy procrastination, and thanks for the Christmas card. I can try to argue away my not writing by a negative statement that you are the first person outside of the family to whom I have written a letter since you wrote me.

I noticed by the post mark on your card that you are probably back in camp visiting your parents, I hope that you had an enjoyable time – and got some new impressions which I would like very much to hear about. I went home to camp between semesters for a week at the end of October and had an interesting time. The most striking thing about camp was the apparent lethargy and lack of real interest in anything – a shallowness which was very, very stifling. Another fact which struck me was the number of young men & women still in camp – I was amazed at the no. of friends I was able to meet while there, & so I had plenty to do every day.

Christmas vacation in Oberlin was a very quiet but interesting week-end. Most of the students left for home, but there were still over a 100 fellows & girls, mostly the latter, around town to leave a little kick around. School was dismissed Thursday noon, and I started the vacation by getting in on a party of eight in which we killed 2/5s of Scotch & plenty of beer. One fellow passed out, two girls got quite sick, but I managed to retain my equilibrium and ended up with a highly interesting discussion of the Jewish problem with a Jewish girl in the group.

Friday evening was a caroling party for about 30 of us which we concluded by a party in a girl’s dorm. illegible & I had plenty of fun trying to kiss girls by sitting under a mistletoe – some were very backward & bashful, but I got a flash photo taken as a girl & I started into a clinch. I’d like to see that picture if it ever comes out! Such is life.

After being in town for the week-end, I’m leaving this afternoon for a week to attend a national student Christian conference the World Mission of the Church at Wooster, Ohio, missing out on a week of school. It, the conference, is somewhat like the National Assembly which met at Oxford, Ohio, in 1941 which Gordy, Bill & 19 other Washingtonians attended. Dorothy Carter, Ruth Hanawalt & another U. of W. girl are attending this conference – I’m anxiously looking forward to meeting them. We should have a rip roaring time New Year’s Eve even at such a conference for we have a fifth of Scotch to baby us along.

Don’t worry, Norio – I’m no souse yet, but we felt that this holiday season should be “done” properly, so we went into a nearby town & obtained liquor ration cards which are necessary in the state of Ohio. Some of the speakers at our conference limited to 500 students from the U.S. & Canada are H.P. Van Dusen, John R. Mott, Robert Mackie, Congressman Walter Judd, & many others. I happened to be one of the five students YMCA members elected to go to the conference from the whole state of Ohio.

A point which I ought to make before I forget – has Kazue Kiyono moved over to the Webster Grove Missouri I got a card addressed from that village, & I wondered if she had quit Western College! Have you met her by any chance? Just a chance diversion.

During the summer, or the latter part of it, I was going steady with a swell girl from Pittsburgh, but I broke it up after the new term started because my interest was no longer present. She has had one hell of a time getting over it & I feel like a heel. Doggone these women – when they fall, they seem to fall so hard & she is still having a hard time. At least it tends to flatter my ego – she's a daughter of a well-to-do Pittsburgh restaurant owner – and a voice major at that!

Since then my love life has gone to pot, but I started to climb the upward trail again during vacation. I saw quite a bit of a girl whose father is head of the Far Eastern Dep’t of the state Dep’t – and whose uncle is Prof. Ballantine, a math prof at the U. of Washington. You may have heard of him. I have no ulterior motives – absolutely not – but she is a very nice girl – and lots of fun.

Two more semesters & I’ll be finished with my undergrad work – but what then? I don’t even know whether I’ll be here next summer session or not – I’d like to get a job in Washington or some other large city. I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that my graduate work will be postponed until the war ends, & until that time I shall strive to find a good job of some sort. Most of the good economists are now in Washington – and so that may be the city to aim at instead of any graduate school right now.

Our family is scattered a little more – Nao is now in Chicago on her 12 weeks away from Antioch College on a job in a children’s hospital – Toyo is working as a secretary for the American Friends in Philadelphia & my parents are still in camp. My next vacation doesn’t come until the end of February between semesters, and I wish I could make up my mind as to whether I want to go west to Chicago or east to New York. I shall probably come to a hopeless impasse, & stay right here in Oberlin, but I certainly don’t hope so. When do you get any future vacations, & where will you be at such time – I’d like to get together with you again – In a month it will be exactly one year since I saw you last. How time does fly!

Harry Yamaguchi & Sue Hisanaga are coming back to Oberlin sometime this week to enjoy themselves at a New Year’s Eve formal which I will be forced to miss. I was discussing him a couple of nights ago with a girl on campus who was going steady with him for a semester or two. As I may have mentioned before, Harry has really changed since we knew him in high school – gotten self-assured & more “scientific” – cold. I was sorry to see that change in him.

Wednesday –

Here I am in Wooster & have met Frank Watanabe, Fumi Takano, Dot Carter, & Pat Houcks already – all seem to be doing very well. I must close now until the next time –