Column: ‘Manzanar’ author recounts shameful chapter

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Wednesday’s column (read it here) is about last Friday’s appearance at Victoria Gardens of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, author of “Farewell to Manzanar,” a memoir about her childhood at the Manzanar internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. The Rancho Cucamonga Library brought her here. That’s Houston above, flanked by Robert Karatsu, library director.

Without my noticing, the library’s Michelle Perera snapped a couple of photos of me interviewing people, which she shared. What the heck, I’m including them here. At right, I’m chatting with Tayeko Hashitsume, a Manzanar internee. Below, I’m interviewing Wakatsuki Houston. Editors, please note the blur in my right arm as I hasten to scribble down a pithy comment!

Incidentally, my knees may never forgive me for all the squatting. With no chairs handy, I didn’t see any other way to conduct the interviews politely.

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  • Michelle Perera


    You are like the Edie Brickell of journalism — it’s time someone brought squatting back. Great article (and photos, of course).

    (Shameless plug) – Local History Night on May 18th – hope to see you there!


    [“The Edie Brickell of journalism”…now that’s an unusual compliment! — DA]

  • Teresa Akahoshi


    I enjoyed your article. I thought this event was wonderful! Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it, too!

  • Mark Allen

    If it makes you feel better, if I tried that, both kneecaps would have dislocated the instant my legs passed the 90-degree mark.

    So … huzzah!

    [I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    You appear to have very strong muscles, David. I can’t quite imagine an event like this at a Library and no chair for the reporter–go figure.

    I have an interest in the subject of these relocation camps, as I was raised about ten miles from the Heart Mountain Camp in WY. I visited inside the camp with relatives from NY when I was 8 yrs old–my NY cousin had special arrangements to meet and visit with a Girl Scout pen pal, inside the camp. If not for the armed guard at the gate, I never would have known it was a prison–I was too young to understand.

    It was called, “Little Tokyo”, by the locals, and that was all I knew. It was a self-contained City–they lived in sparse barracks–they were clean and comfortable looking. Our hosts, the family of the friend of my cousin, invited us to eat dinner with them in the Mess Hall, which we did. We learned later that it was not something we should have done.

    My little story regarding my visit there was published in my hometown’s 100th-anniversary, souvenir edition in 2009. (I received $25 for my story.) I do wonder if the residents of the respective camps have ever met to compare notes on their experiences. (I think that one of the barracks from the Heart Mountain camp is in a museum in Little Tokyo in L.A.)

    [That was an interesting story, Shirley. Although now I feel guilty I can’t pay you $25 for it too. FYI, there was seating during the event for everyone. But there wasn’t seating onstage, where she was, when I went up afterward to chat with her. — DA]