There’s a new exhibit at the Ruth and Charles Gilb Arcadia Historical Museum that offers up a dark and lesser-known side of the city’s past for examination.
In the 1940s, Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park was the location of a temporary assembly center for Japanese and Japanese Americans, before they were sent to live in internment camps throughout the United States during World War II.
Museum curator Dana Dunn told the Star-News: “You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea that this happened.” From the report by Michelle J. Mills:
Dunn read and was told in interviews that the camp was a clean, organized and a strict place to live. People were told to bring a coat and were allowed few possessions.
“They had the guards up in the towers with guns and barbed wire all around you. You can’t leave and you’re there in the summertime and there’s no insulation in the building,” Dunn said. …
“The one story I hear a lot is about the guards in the tower at night. If you wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, you could do that but the spotlight would hit you, and they’d follow you with the spotlight all the way to the bathroom. You’d go in the bathroom, and when you came out the spotlight was there, and they followed you all the way back,” Dunn said.
There was also an assembly center at Pomona’s Fairplex.
In the photo at top, a child arrives at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia. More photos below.
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. Osamu Miyamoto, Akkiko Nomura and other guests will speak on the Santa Anita Assembly Center.
“Only What We Could Carry: The Santa Anita Assembly Center” runs through Jan. 16. 10 a.m.-4 p.m Tuesday-Saturday. Closed on holidays. Open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31. 380 W. Huntington Drive in Arcadia. Admission is free.
to be sent to assembly centers across the United States.
headed for one of the relocation centers in the United States.
(Photos courtesy the Arcadia Historical Museum)