A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.
Tonight we continue to highlight our sister organization Densho and their podcast series, Campu where brother and sister, Noah and Hannah Maruyama tell the story of the Japanese American incarceration as you’ve never heard it before.
Campu’s Food Show Transcript
Good evening, everyone. You’re listening to APEX Express Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. My name is Swati Rayasam and I’m the special editor for this episode. Tonight we continue to highlight our sister organization Densho and their podcast series, Campu where brother and sister, Noah and Hannah Maruyama tell the story of the Japanese American incarceration as you’ve never heard it before.
Tonight’s episode, the last in our series, is called “Food” a subject that is central to so many of our cultures, and it shows! Tonight’s episode highlights how food facilitated some of the most vivid memories for the incarcerees, was a political football used by the WRA and those with anti-Japanese sentiment, and was the catalyst for resistance movements within the camps. Here’s Hannah.
The chef John city Mura purple cabbage is the question he never got to ask his grandmother, garnish everything with purple cabbage. It’s more than a pop of color or a sexy garnish. My father said, grandma always put something crunchy under the goes up. I’m like, great. So tell me what it is. Well, I don’t know, was it cabbage?
Whether it would just be more specific? Nobody in the family was ever able to be specific of what grandma put underneath gills from a lineage of Japanese cuisine in the U S his grandmother, an immigrant owned a Japanese restaurant in Sacramento before, or the war. My grandparents immigrated from Kumamoto and Nagoya Japan to Sacramento in 1917.
So they were in their twenties give or take, you know, almost 30. All of my aunts and uncles were born in California. My father, the middle child, or almost the middle was born in 1925. My grandparents had already buried their first child at the age of four from a childhood illness. And then my grandmother lost my grandfather very quickly to.
My grandmother is now a single parent of five children originally six. So the Mira never met his grandmother. She died before he was born. 30 years later. I know I will never know what my grandmother quit underneath the gills. Well, cabbage is about holding onto people. The only way, you know, how even after their on a purple cabbage is on there, because that is a little moment where I think about Korea.
So the day before this interview, Noah and I had found out that our cousin had driven our grandmother to the hospital. It was December, 2020. I think, you know where this is going. She died less than two weeks later killed by the same pandemic that has stolen too many of our loved ones. It happened as I was writing this episode, in some ways we were the lucky ones.
I’m grateful that no one, my dad were able to drop everything and drive six hours straight to Rochester to hold her hand and tell her how much we love her. When I know that so many were forced to die alone during this pandemic, grateful that I got to know this remarkable one. That she lived a long and fulfilling life full of people she loved and also sad to lose the story.
She never thought to tell because she was never one for talking about herself, the story, she never found the words to say, but wanted to.
Most of all, I’m sad to lose her. So when John Siggy, Maura talked about purple cabbage, it felt like that was his way of honoring his loss and ours. The losses of all Nikkei, who had family who were incarcerated, all of our unasked and unanswered questions, all of the beauty and the life of a woman who history could easily pass by.
That’s the story that purple cabbage tells food city. Maria reminds us is more than just sustenance. It’s a vehicle for culture. One that persists, even after we forgotten things like language to wage delight in the world around us, engage our senses, connect with other people. Tell we tell someone we love them.
It’s the lessons we passed down between generations and the ones.
All of this makes food, a powerful transmitter of memory, both good and bad. One of the few things our grandma ever told us about camp was that she couldn’t stand apple better. 70 years later, her nose still wrinkled with disgust at the memory. That’s what this episode is about. Sued in camp to memories about.
The politics that motivated and the relationships built around it from Densho I’m Hannah, Marie, and this is comfortable.
In case it wasn’t clear to you. Food in the concentration camps was not good. Here’s Dr. Heidi Kim professor of English and comparative literature at UNC. She’s written about food in the camps and the culture around the mess halls. In every memoir of the incarceration. Food is a huge feature that people remember and that people attack.
A lot of negative emotion too, but if there’s one meal that stands out in their minds, it’s usually their first meal behind barbed wire. The first mail was bad. I mean, for the most part, the meals were bad, but the first meals were exceptional because the supplies were poor. The kitchens weren’t fully staffed or fully equipped.
These people who have been ripped from their homes and sent somewhere they’ve never seen before to this half finished desolate. And then confronted with this terrible meal in this crowded mess hall where they can’t sit together, suffice it to say the first meal. Wasn’t pretty. We had our meal. Our first one thing I’ll never forget is the first supper, the first meal, when I got to Tampa.
And with that. Meets cold can beets with Gras. This is in a nicer cold gel on top of hot rice, a couple of discolored, cool cuts and hand Sartre and grape cards. And Sarah over the rice mutton soup and Greece was all over the surface. The army had forcibly removed 110,000 people from their homes and livelihoods.
Now it had to figure out how to feed them. As we mentioned in episode five, that involved a lot of the day after day after. And they didn’t give us much, you know, just few little sausages and this barely enough to keep us going. The lack of quantity was one thing, but the quality wasn’t all that great.
Either. We asked around on social media about memories of canned food. People heard from their relatives, Jessica OSI, Rodin. My grandmother remembers having to scrape mold off hot dogs. She was not the only one to remember. Questionable food safety practices. Landstown we got bread. That was moldy. So you have holes in the bread.
So, uh, you will make a very poorly, but nobody liked pamphlet. Now my sister told me something just recently, she and her friend were sitting outside somewhere and there was this big ice chunk of fish and it was full of maggots. And I said, why didn’t you tell us this? We were scared to tell anybody what we were seeing and we’re all eating.
And my neighbor lady would be eating her fish and all of a sudden inside the fish maggots and that cured me. I didn’t eat fish for the longest time. There’s a lot of things. I stopped eating, uh, after I went to camp and people would fate and we’d say, well, who’s going to fate today. One thing. On every cable, every meal who has apple butter, apple butter.
Oh, butter. It just kinda dirty brown apple sauce. It’s a little sweet. Maybe now isn’t the best time to admit that I actually like apple butter, but I’m not sure I’d still like it. If that was all I had for breakfast for the next three years, I don’t touch Vienna, sausages, apple butter, and things like ads ever, never, ever eaten apple butter.
I had never tasted mutton before in my life. Ah, yes, mutton stew. We had a lot of curried, mutton stew mutton, and they call it lamb stew, but it’s dream looking button, Korean narrative, camouflage this taste, and you could smell it. Oh, my God, we live with one end of the block and the kitchen was on the other end.
Yeah. And you can smell mutton even before you hit the door. It’s not like soap. My mother couldn’t eat it. Many Japanese. Couldn’t the smell of it. Just nauseated had mutton. I can’t even eat lamb anymore. Well, I never could eat lamb. Taylor tonic has grandfather had a similar experience. Taylor wrote into us.
They never ate normally. So whenever he had to eat it, he would get really sick. Even the smell of it, cooking could make his stomach turn while he was there. So my OB Chon never cooked it at home because even just the smell of it would remind him of man’s and our it’s something I’ll never forget. No one in my family eats lamb till this day.
But dislike of mutton was almost passed down, even if they hadn’t necessarily experienced mutton and camp. I can’t say that it was my favorite dish. The cook could also really impact the quality of that block’s mess hall. Food is still, we’re lucky to have people that own restaurants or are cooks. We had a couple of professional cooks working there.
We had more or less palatable food, but the availability of professional cooks often depended on where people were coming from somewhere like Santa Anita, which drew its population from LA and San Diego might have a lot of former restaurant hers while Salinas, which consisted in large part of lettuce farmers from the Monterey bay area.
Might not even the most experienced home cook would struggle if they suddenly had to cook for two or 300 people at a time. Oh, I hope the cooks on block three, two are not alive. I just thought they were at hour. Even if a cook did have some experience, he or she might face an array of other challenges.
Here’s Dr. Kim again, cooks had to learn new recipes, new methods of cooking. They were constantly being brought. These foods they’d never had to cook with before, and there are no recipes or blogs for them. If they’ve never cooked tripe or beef hearts or horse meat before they just had to experiment and hope it turned out semi palatable.
On top of that, the food supplies were constantly changing. As soon as they got used to one way of cooking. A whole other category of foodstuffs would be cut off by rationing, et cetera. So everyone was having to constantly adapt. They were getting the throwaways, the food that the government had subsidized, but nobody wanted to eat.
It was all surplus. It’s food that we got right in Montana, the sheep ranch. They have to cut that. To the head government of by , they killed more of them and just caucus, uh, put them in a deep freeze. They kept him in the wartime. all the time they have to feed the mutton tries to camp food with Martin.
Martin. Martin was at least a bit. Dr. Kim says you see the camp administration in these archives, really running into problems with trying to give people less desirable. So there was one letter that I read. I can’t remember which camp it was, where they wrote that. Um, we, we can’t move tripe. Like nobody, nobody wants, nobody wants to eat the tripe.
And we tried to serve beef hearts last week. And my understanding is that. The garbage cans were overflowing. Whoever was supplying their place. They love turnips up around. I got the, we got tons of each camp prided itself on how little they spent for each resident. They would report back to the government in Washington.
We only spent 49 cents per person in our camp. Some camps would be bagging. They only spent 35 cents. So you could tell the quality of the food was not good. That’s ICO Herzegovina. You’ve heard her speak in previous episodes, but I want to tell you a little about her now incarcerated at Manzanar, then Jerome, she later began researching the concentration camps in the national archives and discovered evidence of governmental misconduct that she used to advocate for reparations for Japanese marriage.
She later became the lead researcher for the commission on wartime relocation and internment of civilians, the congressional commission that paved the way for reparations look her up. She was amazing. You can get started by heading over to this episode’s transcript where we’ve shared some. Okay. So back to these 35 cents a day per person throughout its existence, the WRA encountered criticism from Congress, the press, the ordinary Joe on the street about pampering.
Yep. You heard that right? They were pissed because apparently the conditions in the camps were too good. That’s why the WRA was bragging about keeping costs over. Dr. Kim says the WRA was very public about keeping costs for each meal, no higher than 45 cents per day. And during rationing and during all of the public resentment and the congressional hearings that touched upon this issue, the WRA constantly sought to drive costs.
So they were able to drive them down. As far as 35 cents a day. We’re going to talk about these pampering charges in more depth later for now. Let’s just get back to the stellar culinary conditions in the camps like beef tongue, the, oh, we’re going to get meat. And so we all went in and said, well, what are all those pimples around there?
Well, it was tongue sliced and they didn’t take the skin off and I could still see the taste pets on the town when their prison. You have no choice, Cook’s did their best to make the supplies they were given edible. We had horse meat. I remember because it was such an unusual texture. And then they told us it was horse meat that they soaked in a teriyaki sauce.
And it was tough. We have spaghetti and potatoes and one day something happened. We were eating neck bones for. It’s boiled neck bone, and then it fails a lot of spaghetti. Don’t my mother dies. She never forget it. We had some cheapest thing. They could feed us. Susan Bennett wrote into us that our grandmother also got so sick of the stuff that she would not eat spaghetti after leaving the camp.
Even if the meal was something you liked, you might not like it anymore. If you were served at seven days a week, possibly covered in sand, the mess hall to eat. Of course, when you chew the food, you can. Feel the grit of the sand and it’s amazing. Even bad. You get used to it crashing. You got used to the mixture of 10 and food food with pretty lousy.
The food was pretty bad. One night dinner was rice with catch-up nobody ever starved, but it was boring. It just trying to keep it alive, not keep us happy. Mutton apple butter, Vienna sausage spaghetti. Horse teriyaki. If the food doesn’t sound all that healthy that’s probably because it wasn’t. The food that we got was frankly, 100% starch.
Hertz said Yoshi Naga was pregnant in camp and face the added challenge of getting the nutrition she needed while pregnant and later the milk, her infant needed to survive. When my child was born in the camp hospital. And she was born with an allergy to the powdered milk that they permitted babies to have.
During that time she should have what was called at the time, Carnation milk in a can I requested that for my child, but they said no, that, that has to go to the. And we will not be permitted to on this. We could afford to send for it from outside. And of course we couldn’t afford to buy canned milk. So my daughter suffered tremendously.
She was hospitalized in the camp, went in and out in and out most infants, double their weight, uh, birth weight at six months, my child had not doubled her weight in a year. She was her. And I think, uh, the lack of this important nutrition this time of her life has affected. Her whole entire life. She didn’t have the basic ingredients to be a healthy person improved.
As incarcerees moved from the assembly centers to the relocation centers. We haven’t really discussed the differences between the two yet. So briefly the assembly centers were always meant to be temporary holding grounds. They were run by the wartime civil control administration. A lot of the problems with refrigeration and food shortages happen during this time.
By fall 1942, the last people in the assembly centers were being moved over to the relocation centers, which were the quote unquote permanent sites that the WRA had built over the. The facilities while not great. We’re still better. The staff now had three months of cooking for a whole block under their belt.
And the army had figured out that it needed to order a lot more rice and a lot less bread and potatoes to feed a bunch of Japanese people, the Japanese, we love our rice and our pick of the vegetables and all that. So eventually I think they made some kind of a trade off where we told the WRA that rather than.
Potatoes, can we substitute it for rice and trade off the potatoes for other uses? So we started getting rice finally, by the time this happened, people had become completely unaccustomed, seen Japanese food on the menu. So me HIAs, she wrote into us. My mom used to tell a story about the first time Japanese food appeared on the meal menu at Minnesota.
It said maze go Han and no one thought of rice. They wondered why it had a puzzle, the wander through and what the heck is go Han Mazda go, hon is seasoned rice mixed with veggies and meats. According to our family lore. My great grandfather insisted that his wife drop out of an English class because it let out at noon, which meant she wouldn’t be able to line up with the rest of the family for the mess hall and the family wouldn’t get to eat together.
He wasn’t even talking about getting there in time for the mess hall to open. He wanted her to drop out of the class so she could go wait in line with them. I’ve never understood his insistence on this. But what I do know is that if we’re going to talk about the mess hall and. We need to talk about waiting in line.
Everything was aligned. Now we can hear the mess called during the bingo triangular bell. You don’t think they need, we have to all go out there. Hey, lined up, embarrassing, no lining up like that. Everything was aligned and people would feed every day, two and three people would faint standing in line. Now imagine going through that while practice.
Here’s her take Yoshi Naga again, most pregnant women go through what is known as morning sickness and nauseous periods waiting in line for our meals. During that period, it was very, very difficult under the conditions that existed there. The dust storms, the heat. The cold, but if you didn’t wait in line, you’d get stuck with whatever scraps were leftover.
If you didn’t get there and get in line. Sometimes if you’re at the end of the line, they almost ran out of food. And first come first serve you, sit where you can. When people first came in, they would sit with their families. And pretty soon, you know, you couldn’t get buddy together. So if you didn’t get there early, you’d end up with whatever terrible leftovers, right.
And apparently that involved a lot of boiled turnip. And if you didn’t line up together, you likely wouldn’t be able to sit together. Maybe there was a deeper wisdom behind my great-grandfather’s seemingly silly patriarchal decision. Many incarcerees report that the loss of family mealtimes broke down family structures.
We went into camp the very first we teenagers went wild. I think at first my parents tried. Keep us together as a family unit, but after a week or so, the kids would make friends and the kids would be with their friends and the older people will eat with their peers shattered. We run all over the place.
You know how big medicine our rice families were all separated now. And the family units just gone and the whole family structure. Destroyed. We didn’t have a family, as I think about it now, why it didn’t speak to mom hardly at all, have to lay the Paris. You’re not in control anymore. The fathers had no more authority over their children.
They couldn’t discipline because kids were doing whatever they wanted to do. And, um, it just, I don’t know, it was.
You were no longer a family. I lost all my ability to speak Japanese, which I didn’t do too much to begin with. Uh, at the time as a young child, I didn’t realize that, but as an adult, I could really see that. Now hearing these stories gave me a new found appreciation for my great-grandfather’s insistence that the family eat.
He wasn’t the only one to do this all. Yes. We had our own special table and my father said that we were to eat at that table as a family unit. No matter what surely after we got so, or my father insisted that we don’t go eat in the mess hall. So my mother would go and get the meal. And then we had a hot plate and she would add other stuff that we ate at home because my father didn’t like the fact that families didn’t eat together.
And he just, he, he, he says, you know, as long as I’m here, we’re going to all stay together.
For those incarcerees who could get their hands on them, hot plates were a popular and totally banned cooking solution in the barracks. Each unit had a stove for heat, but it didn’t really help with cooking. There’s a lot of things you can do on a hot plate.
The problem was the barracks weren’t set up to have so many electrical connections. No, these barracks were all designed for minimal electrical loads. They put extension cord. There’s too much power as being, as if someone use a hot plate, they would blow out the fuse. So people would replace the fuses with a copper penny in there and they’ve schooled in there.
And that was dangerous cause he could burn down. And we were wondering when the next fire was going to start, nonetheless hot plates were extremely popular. Evelyn, Carrie Mura authored the column food fancies and the Topaz times, which was dedicated to sharing recipes that could be made on a hot plate from simple ingredients purchased at the canteen.
She wrote, we have come to the conclusion that cooking is simple and Topaz. If you have an electric plate, the coal stove cooperates, you are able to secure the ingredients and you have enough dishes with which to serve the. The recipes and food fancy showcase the incarcerees ingenuity, putting pie from Amy catchy.
Warrah Mrs. Lloyd and Amato’s corn chowder. Martha Nosa shared a chocolate ice cream recipe. The involved boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk than putting it outside during the cold Utah. Best not to attempt that recipe during the summer. If you didn’t have a hot plate, the stove placed in each Barrack room for heat was your other option.
We had this metal like a pie plate. We used to create this cake that we used to make over the heater that we have. We used to make these little cupcakes and come out like a pancake, a small one, and it tastes as good. Okay. So the food was getting better ish, but at Manzanar, the mess hall staff had another problem rumblings where, because he started disappearing, the cook was saying, you know, we’re not getting the sugar that we’re supposed to yet.
It’s time to when we got our supplies, like. There would be missing out on the Creek is stealing the coffee, those government workers that they lived in, a separate Caucasian mess hall, the black one, they haven’t never thing. They live in barracks, been real nice ones. There were stuck old that have insulation and all that kind of stuff.
Nice windows and all that kind of sugar bowl and every table, a couple of sugar bowl, every one of the fields up I heard. How have you seen people? The whites cook, this guy named Winchester directory, gab mess stewards. They do all kinds of tricks to cheat the people. Harry went. I decided to investigate Harry found the master calendar.
And so he knew what was being done. And certain things never showed up at Manzanar staples and they figured they’re selling it on the black market. He was taking my stuff south, the black market, and they wanted me to do it too. And I tell them nothing done. If you’re going to do that, I’m quitting. And he fired me.
You said we have to use a lot of sugar in a hospital. And the hospital said a lot of people had the diabetes and we don’t use that sugar Caucasians. Red-handed I stayed left, had something, probably a railroad track that the bump something, and he had an accident. His trunk is wide open. Sure enough. They wish to meet and things like that in the trunk of their car.
Here’s Harry . I met the surprise department. His name is the yield, open up the wilds and get the sugar pile. So it was putting a, not many sacks in there. We didn’t have, do you have enough while we are checking? No, our house, the mess steward, their Winchester came over and jump on us and tear off the record.
We’re smack in on. See, they both confronted the administrators and their sugars. Rashes daily sugar was a federal offense, but he’s a powerful man. Nobody opened the month saying anything they’re taking advantage of. So maybe we should mention here that these anecdotes about the theft of food supplies have not tactically been confirmed.
Here’s Dr. Kim we’re entirely reliant on oral history. I haven’t been able to find any cases where people were actually prosecuted for that, but like, do any of us really believe that didn’t happen? I have no doubt that it happened. It happened everywhere across the United. There certainly was black marketing from larger or commercial institutions.
It was about to get worse, unfortunately kambo but to Japanese and a tail in me all the time, he’s a stooge for trading me and it was around them that the riots broke out and that’s for the riots. In December, 1942, Fred Toyama, who was thought to be colluding with the administration among other things was beaten up.
He blamed winnow along with two of them. Assistant project director, Ned Campbell. One of the individuals that we know accused of stealing food, arrested winnow, and sent him to the county jail in independence. Many were outraged at Dwayne was arrest, which they attributed to Campbell’s vendetta against him, a meeting the next day, drew more than 2000 people.
Military police entered mans in our, without authorization. That afternoon mens and our director, Ralph merit agreed to bring winnow back to Manzanar for his trial and to withdraw the military police. If the crowd disbanded the crowd disbanded temporarily, but gathered outside the police station later that evening, Marriott brought the military police back into the camp.
And as the crowd began throwing rocks and Ponting BMPs ordered the use of tear gas upon the demonstrator. To MPS instead fired upon the crowd, killing to deemed a troublemaker by the WRA. When I was sent to Moab, Utah, then to loop in Arizona, as we shall see, that was not the only time tensions arose over food and the camps.
You’re tuned in to APEX Express at 94.1 KPFA and 89.3 KPFB in Berkeley and [email protected] Coming up is the song “Fast Noodle” by Mattelica off their album, black box data.
That was the song “Fast Noodle” by Mattelica off their album, black box data. And now back to Densho.
In late April, 1943, the Denver post published a series of inflammatory articles by columnist. Jack Carberry hostile group is pampered at Wyoming camp and that food is hoarded for jobs in us while Americans and Nippon are tortured here’s historian, Roger Daniels. It was a big segment of the American population that felt that the WRA was quote unquote coddling, the Japs that they were getting sugar.
Food that the general population wouldn’t, this controversy would come up on and off throughout the camp’s existence. Earlier that year, North Carolina Senator Robert Rice Reynolds had charged that the jobs are even given fine bathrooms. Listen to our episode on the latrines for a better idea of what these fine bathrooms entailed at Granada and Colorado men tonight recalls with the Colorado politicians.
They always said, we’ll be. In the stucco because it was beige color, the stucco palaces. And they also said, one guy said that we have three swimming pools there. So we were the only camp on a hillside. So for the highway, we could see our camp with the three pools that he’s talking about, where the sewage settling ponds.
Well, you would not recommend swimming in those when Carberry published his articles, the accusations of pampering took off in an unprecedented. That particular scandal due to its timing just really blew up in a way that some of the other accusations of pampering at other camps had not. So it coincided with more severe rationing, but was Dr.
Kim rationing often help stoke resentment and guns, Japanese American. She says, but something else also often coincided with these allegations of pampering. The other key factor was. The start of diplomatic and civilian and prisoner exchange with Japan and the very harsh conditions that were reported in Japan for prisoners there.
Sure enough, when Carberrys article came out, it also coincided with the reports of treatment of downed us pilots in Japan. Of course, the two actually had nothing to do with each other. The incarceration was a domestic civilian detention. It had nothing to do with the treatment of prisoners of war. It was in fact not governed by the Geneva conventions properly because of those citizens, but public opinion often equated the two Wyoming Senator Evie Robertson, a Cody resident quickly seized upon Carberrys claims.
He publicly accused the WRA of petting and tampering. The incarcerees though he had never actually visited the concentration camp 20 miles from his hometown. The New York times picked up the story in early may. Well, there were some allegations made in Congress about the fact that we were being called old Japanese Americans were treated with more generosity than the shoe.
They see members of the house committee on un-American affairs, visited some of the camps to get a better idea of what the conditions were like. They decided to tour the different camps to see what the camp life was really about. And then they’ll go to fire camp, Steve visited, but we never saw them.
They never stepped inside of the camp itself. They wouldn’t do administrator. Guy Robertson, the heart mountain director set of carburetors reporting that he quote made a complete and exhaustive survey of our project. Mostly from the Irma hotel. It turned out that Carver is primary source for his Denver post articles was.
Uh, former heart mountain employee who had been fired 30 days prior. Here’s Dr. Kim he’d been at Poston and then he was hired on at heart mountain and the post and director had Telegraph that he was probably not competent to be chief steward, but that he might do as assistant steward, their internal documents show that he was virulently prejudiced against Japanese and had a very punitive attitude and a very combative attitude.
Best was later charged with passing bad checks. He had also come from Canada without papers and still managed to get hired by the federal government twice
and some are 1943. The first harvest started to come in and this was none too soon because the camps were fresh out of canned goods. Here’s Dr. Kim and then 1943 was when the really heavy rationing case. Carrie Mara described the blow that this meant for the incarcerees in food fancies. This column is just about ready to give up the ghost and yell uncle.
She wrote before we had to find recipes suitable for electric plates and containing ingredients, obtainable and Topaz. Then we gave ourselves a little leeway and included Delta. But now with the necessity of excluding canned goods, we must admit that we’re being, has anyone a towel we can throw. So it was good that the camps finally had some fresh produce to serve in the mess halls and became better after the residents had cultivated the land and started growing the vision.
You know, how resource for Japanese are? So all the stuff they needed, vegetables, they plan. And so they didn’t have to purchase any vegetables. Could they grow it in. But there are a lot of farmers, you know, they know how to grow things. You know, they farm the land. So we did have some fresh vegetables and so forth.
So they planted Kevin. She let us in a, whatever we did in, in the camp, they go home and to come over and have whatever they needed. They never had to be. Outside do Kemp produce was not all the camps farmed. Some had hog chicken and cattle farms for me and ex Heela river even had a Turkey farm. Herman farm consists of about 1500 acres, but it didn’t start out like that.
Most of the area hadn’t been irrigated. Oh, it was told to feed 12,000 people that was James ITO, who was the assistant farm superintendent at heart mountain along the river. That I use mostly. That’s all. I was nice and Sandy and fairly deep. So we were very lucky to have that area to grow our vegetables, graduated from Berkeley with a degree in soil science and horticulture in 19.
He analyzed the soil in different locations around the site to determine what to grow. When one of our evacuees had a feed business and he sold us all of this. This was not a solo venture though. Here’s a G Edward Seco. Who replaced ITTO as assistant farm superintendent. When he told us the heart mountain, the experience group of farmers are from what the tall Washington, where the climate is almost similar to where we are staying in heartburn.
These are the Sage who had farm in Washington and very experience, but were able to grow the crops to the help of students, as well as the, you say it was to help harvest the crop to take care of the crop. We were very successful. The farm workers only got paid $12 a month to 16 to $19 a month. Addition to farm workers, other incarcerees were hard at work, building an irrigation and the evacuation upon coming to this camp.
There were recruited immediately to finish at the canal, got the irrigation canal up and running and planted crops for the 1943 growing season. But then they had to get everything harvested 109 growing days, and we don’t get a crop to hire us in 909 days. Yeah, frost or freezer will get an apartment and farms produced all kinds of stuff.
Beautiful crop of potatoes, the hotbed area, growing peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, so that we can get them out of. Uh, hog farm. We have chicken farm, also the agriculture program at heart mountain harvested more than a thousand tons of produce in summer 1943, despite local farmers predictions that the crop had been planted too late to have a significant yield the program more than doubled that yield a year later, these crops formed a significant part of the incarcerees diet.
Once these farm programs got off the ground, the other concentration camps had their own agricultural program. Different regions could produce different crops that could be shipped around to the other camps. In fact, several of the camps produced excess of what their populations needed, able to even provide vegetables to some of the other cats.
So the agricultural program seemed like they were off to a good. Then on October 15th, 1943, a truck transporting incarcerees from the farm back to the camp, turned over one, man was killed.
The widow’s benefits came out to a little over $10 a month, two thirds of the deceased monthly wage. Agricultural workers went on strike. The administration responded by bringing in 234 incarcerees from other camps to harvest the crop. The strikebreakers were paid $1 per hour, meaning they could make the usual rate of $16 per month.
In about two, eight hour days. People within the camp, they weren’t going to be strikebreakers because they weren’t here to get beaten up. And so they had to bring them from other camps, either feeding them well and paying them more tensions continued to escalate on November 1st, WRA director, Dillon Meyer visited with group representatives, but rejected their domain.
The administration built a fence to separate themselves off from the incarcerees on November 4th, a crowd of 400 tried to stop trucks, taking food to the strike breakers, the group later headed to Tooley lake director, Raymond Best’s house. The army entered the. And use tear gas to disperse the crowd. And they said there’s probably some stealing at the warehouses.
So some of the leaders went over to check on that, but then they were caught in kind of a restricted area. And so they were tossed into the stockade. And so there were further protests to get them out of the stockade arrested and locked up. And the two we lake stockade, a curfew was established on November 14th.
Martial law was declared at 2:00 PM. So then the armies really took over to the lake.
The farm programs in the concentration camp shaped agriculture in those regions for years to come. When SoCo away returned to heart mountain decades later, he had a run-in with a resident from the nearby town of Cody. Wait a minute. You can note the car. I thought I did something wrong. No, she says your fellows did a wonderful thing here and opened our eyes as to her.
We can grow so many feel good. The agriculture programs are also a way of preserving the incarcerated food culture. Some of the camps started growing Japanese vegetables so that they could cook some of the dishes they loved, even in camp dead. And these vegetables, we go also DCS, then nothing else to do.
So. They became interested in growing daikon and not, uh, for our own use, which we wouldn’t never would have. And my father worked out in the farm and I don’t know if you ever heard of these, we call them NABA, but it’s kind of oranges, yellowish. And he would get that and bring it home. But why you grabbed this is the dye corns work, great soy beans.
You could make soy sauce out of it. And you may talk to out of it, some of the camps had their own tofu and soy sauce, factories, and shipped their products off to the other camps. I father used to make. And that’s, who’s going to get up there about four in the morning. And at new years, some of the concentration camps even hosted their own maturity.
Um, one of the primary thing that Japanese w always had, uh, lots of new years is what they call mochi Machir, pounded rice cakes, and you’ve been multi Suki them. This is traditional back century, maybe. As far as I know for the first winter in minute Doka. So we had in our camp, in our blood, they pulled together their sugar and their mochi rice able to get it, order it or whatever.
And they have a special rice. Yeah. And they would steam the rice and wooden crates over an open fire and they would pound it and make it into MACI. The old fashioned way is to pound it with. Even though wasn’t hammer in Japanese, just call it. big bowl laid out. I carved out wood and they had even made a cement VAT to make more cheese.
The whole block participated. The men in the camp would pound the ball. Hutch care headband. Then they would have happy coats and they used to pawn MACI in the another person puts water on it after they pound it, you keep turning it, folding it in each time the rice has pounded in is steaming hot. It has to be rhythm pound.
Lb and water. And if you don’t watch it, somebody’s going to get hit on the hand. If you don’t have that rhythm and then a women would make the small cakes, then you form into little balls that are cool. And the vitamin, everybody had a share of more. It was just a good thing. It was just positive. And you feel good about being bullheaded and especially eating that fresh mochi mochi Tiki’s in camp or a tree, but they were also.
Not all camps had people who could steam the rice pound it, flip it for those blocks. New year’s was like any other day, I guess it was not more chia, special foods. Oh, no, nothing.
Some of these traditions have survived. Our parents used to take us to much easier keys at the Japanese grocery store near our home in DC. When we were little, whenever I’m in LA, I love visiting forgets to DOE whose owners led the MACI Tookie at heart mountain. Mochi is my absolute favorite food. By the way,
other traditions have been fragmented. Same dynamics that broke apart families in the mess halls during the war, the fuzziness of memory over time, and the loss of loved ones. At the beginning of this episode, we spoke with chef John sugiura who told us why he puts purple cabbage under his dishes at his restaurant in Minneapolis.
Pinco Suki Morrow’s grandmother ran her restaurant in Sacramento, right up until the family’s forced removal to Tooley lake. The kids and grandma would close down the restaurant. It was. They were ordered into camp on Thursday morning, his family spent four and a half years at Tooley lake. During that time they lost the restaurant.
They’d worked so hard to build purple cabbage, deliberately tells the story of what went wrong and why I will never know what grandma put underneath the Joe’s food tells a story. And for chef Sugi, Mura, and no one me, it’s a story about our grandmothers. I feel that pretty deeply, right. Our grandmother is in every one of these episodes, but this one, especially hearing how much others hated apple butter.
The stories about MACI, Tookie, and camp. These stories brought me closer to her at a time when physically I was unable to be with her or with my family. My grandmother showed her love through her food, teaching her grandchildren, how to fan the sushi rice, how to get a mix of colors, how to roll the food.
Tamaki how to stop the. At new years, she’d wake up early to make a zoning for us. Although she was fairly ambivalent about the stuff herself, food was her love language,
Noah. And I would like to dedicate this episode to our grandmother food. I go to Jean Mariama and all the grandmothers, the questions they could never answer. And the food they made for us with love. If you can. Give your grandma a hug, make her some food, put purple cabbage underneath the dish, not for the pop of color, but as a reminder of all we have lost.
And all we remember, despite that
you’ve been listening to come through. Thanks for joining us this first season. It’s meant the world to us to have you following along. If you haven’t already, we’d love for you to subscribe, like share a review on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you’re tuning in.
one review that I loved reading was from Oregon state Amy. She says like so many Japanese Americans experience. My family would not talk about cam thankful for this podcast and keeping our history alive. Amy, we spent like 15 minutes trying to record a really heartfelt thank you for you and found out that it’s actually really hard to do when you’re trapped in a 90 degree closet for three hours with only your brother to keep you company.
Um, but actually really huge, genuine. Thank you. Also tell your friends to tune in. They listened to you and at risk of betraying my awkwardness again. Yeah, an actual genuine, very big. Thank you to everyone. Who’s helped out so far.
visit densho.org/compou for this episode’s transcript. Each transcript comes with photos links to. We quote and helpful resources. So you can learn more about the topics we’re discussing
compost produced by Hannah and Noah, Mara Yemen. The series is brought to you by Densho. Their mission is to preserve and share the history of the world war II, incarceration of Japanese Americans to promote equity and justice today. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Densho project support for campu comes from the Goodwin tattoo chief foundation.
Thanks to Natasha Varner, Brian, Nia, Nina Wallace, Christina kata. Now Katana bay, Andrea Simon’s dad, John Siggy, Mira, and Heidi Kim for their assistance with this episode. And because I told them I would thanks to our mom and dad who listened to every single episode, often several times over. And because Noah’s asking me to now, thanks also to his girlfriend, Katie who debts the same.
this episode included excerpts from more than 90 dental, oral histories, as well as interviews conducted by Frank obey for his film conscience in the constitution. The names of the narrators featured in this episode are Tamico Honda. Saburo Masada, cherry Kinoshita George Sox. Kitajima Mary. No more. Mika Huga Tosha Jase, Taka, Margaret GENCO Morita here at sukha.
Peggy Nishimura Bain, Tyra Fukushima, Sam H Ono yai, WADA Mae Suzuki, Chino, Suzy GenX, Fuji Masako Yoshida robber, M water Toshiko I Boshi mass aqui Richard E Yama. Roy Nakagawa Kenji Bo Sakaguchi, Lucy Kiri Hora said to Koizumi Assano Katz, crony to goo. Hi, she she know she’s Zuko, Susie Sockeye. He Siama Moto grace Watanabe, Kimora Carlene co katsu, Leo cheetah Shoichi Cobara Dorothy Conda, June Tucker.
K Ando. Shirley Naga, Tomi Okabe show suitcase, Sasaki Richard M Maura Comey, Tom Matsuoka. I go Hertig Yoshi Naga, mossy. He not SU Marianne Massada Masako, Shiga Kawa, Frank Yamasaki. Akihiko Cuno Frank Isamu Kikuchi. Jim Yoichi wakame. Margie Y Wong Saatchi, Connie Shiro, Christy. Oh, Ichikawa Suamico Yamaguchi.
Jim Hirabayashi. Dorothy H Sato, UNESCO, Hora grace, K Seto, Frank Mora Matsu, Madeline Araya Yamamoto, Willie K ITTO Michiko Francis Chica HISA Henry Mia, Taka Minto, NAI, Mitsui Matsu. Grace Shinoda Nakamura. Harry winnow, George Matsumoto Yoshimitsu CA Matsu Nobu Shimo cocci Tommy T Kushi. John Tateishi. Paul Takagi Masa Hiro Nakajima Roger Daniels, Gordon Hirabayashi Kimiko Nakashima.
James ITTO H Edward SoCo way for me. Haya, mushy, Frank, Amy Homer. Yes. Sui say she hire cheetah. Frank ketone, Moto Mary hamano Mo Nishita Toshio, ina Hora, Kenji, J a Gucci. And Hoshi Nagamori.
[00:56:20] Miko Lee: thank you so much for joining us. Please check out our website, kpfa.org backslash program, backslash apex express to find out more about the show tonight and to find out how you can take direct action. We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Miko Lee Jalena Keane-Lee and Paige Chung and special editing by Swati Rayasam. Thank you so much to the KPFA staff for their support have a great night.