Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp

Clara Breed
Departure for Camp
Life in Camp
Returning Home
Daily Life | Basic Necessities | Family Separation | Reflections
Letter 1 | Letter 2 | Letter 3

Gift of Ms. Elizabeth Y. Yamada, Japanese American National Museum (93.75.31AC)

January 6, 1942
Dear Miss Breed,
I received the sweater and my brother's shorts. Thank you very very much for going through so much trouble for me. You need not have hurried in buying them. I wish you had shopped during your leisure time. Thank you again. The shorts are just fine. They fit perfectly. My sweater is excellent. I just love it!!! I am sorry I did not mention the price. Hearing that sweaters have gone up I did not write the price. No, you need not worry about the cost because I intended to pay about that much.
I was very glad to hear you liked the flowers. I wish I could have sent 10 dozen Am. beauty roses (real ones) to show my appreciation for everything you have done for me.
In my last letter I said the fence was torn down -- well, it is up again. This time a few feet further out. We have been told that the reason for the fence building was so the cattle won't come near our homes. In other words cattle is going to be grazed outside the fence. But as yet, we have not seen any. Yes, I think the fence tends to weaken the morale of the people.
New Years I attended the New Year Festival which was held in Camp II. It was held 3 days, Jan 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. There were various exhibits. The Camp II Industry exhibit -- displayed various kinds of things made by the department. Education was very interesting too. There the works of the school children were displayed. Agriculture was another. In this building were many different kinds of vegetation. They were very green and looked as fresh as a daisy. The one I enjoyed most was the Arts and Crafts. The longest line was in front of this building. My girl friend and I actually waited half an hour in line. It was worth the waiting time, I thought. Men have gone to cut mesquite trees and have made lovely flower vases out of them. The crooked branches and the bumpiest ones make the prettiest vases. In the vases there were many varieties of artificial flowers. Many beautiful cases were made too. Such things as ash trays, book ends, pencil holders, fruit baskets, vases, little jewelry chests, and crochet and checker sets were made out of mesquite.
When we saw the rolls and rolls of beautiful artificial flowers -- chrysanthemums -- in a green house, after standing in the hot sun, it gave us a refreshing feeling. I wish you could have been there.
We had our annual "mochi tsuki"; making rice cakes. Our parents were very happy to be able to eat "mochi" again. No one ever dreamed of eating them again. The govt. is very good to us and I am truly grateful.
We now have oil stoves in our homes and school. But it does little good because you have to be near the stove in order to receive any heat. By keeping all the windows closed the room may become warm, but we were warned against it. Several people have been sent to the hospital because they did not leave any windows open -- they inhaled the fume which comes out of the stove. In school the stove is in one corner and I am in the opposite corner so the warmth does not come near me. It certainly took a long time to get the stoves because of too much red tape involved. We still have no books to study out of. We are taught the progressive way. It is like a lecture form. The teacher talks and we take notes. When test time comes we have to study our notes. I hope by next semester we will be able to study from books.
I have been having trouble about my credits because we did not get credit for the last semesters work. I am lacking 1/2 credit for graduation this June. But with the help of our Vice principal, Mr. Tashiro, I will be able to graduate.
We now have a school constitution. A student from each Case Studies class (history and English classes) formed the Constitutional Convention. At the present time it is being ratified. Next week we are going to have election of Student Body officers.
This morning we had an assembly at which time we had the opportunity to hear Mr. Head, project director; Mr. Popkins, construction director and Dr. Casey, Education. Mr. Popkins showed us the plans of building a new school. He stated that Japanese-American architects drafted the plans. The building is to be made out of adobe. The adobe bricks are going to be made here.
The movie for this Friday night is "Confirm or Deny" I am very anxious to see it.
As a Christmas gift we, the students of Poston III High School, received $500.00 from the McKinley High School of Honolulu -- this is to buy athletic equipments. Dr. Casey, who is our Superintendent of Schools in Poston is a former principal of McKinley High School.
Now, I must answer your questions before I forget about them. Yes, many varieties of X'mas cards were made here in Poston. I do not know who the artist is that made the card I selected. I wish I knew. There is no art school here. Yes, there is a famous artist here in Poston. I do not know much about him. The little I know of him is -- his name is Mr. Isamu Noguchi, a famous sculptor. He has gone to New York on a short "furlough." He expects to return in a few months.
As time marches on, more and more Poston seems like a home to me. After leaving home for a visit to Camp 1 or 2, it certainly feels good to be home again. No longer is the thought of being in a camp afloat in my mind. But every time I see the fence, it seems like a dark cloud has lifted and a realization of camp life comes before my eyes. Often I use to think as I laid on my pillow, What will happen to be if I had to live in this camp for 5 year?" but now, I don't seem to think about camp. I guess I have adopted myself to this situation. But many a time, I have wished with all my heart that I could go back to San Diego.
Yes, we can hear conversation through the partition. We can hear every word our neighbor is saying.
The apt. is divided into 4 units. There is no closet or chest of drawers to keep our clothes in. Father made a closet to put our clothes in. We keep just the necessary amount hung in the closet. The rest is still packed in our suitcases.
Yes, the food shortage has affected us. We have had no butter or egg for about two months. We have enough meat, though. Just tonite we had steak, mash potato, spinach and rice for supper. Oh yes, about the menu for a week. I am sorry I did not send it to you. To be honest -- it slipped my mind. But this time I shall be sure to keep the menu for a week and send it to you just as soon as a week is up. We are allowed 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 cup of coffee. We eat rice only once a day now. We have fresh milk. It comes all the way from California. We have tea too but it is black. Yes, Mr. Anderson does wear a wig. Margaret noticed today that he has no eyebrows. Could this be possible?
The school paper is published once a week.
I certainly was surprised to hear of the film shortage. I don't blame you for wanting to take a picture of a 8 month old baby. I imagine he or she is very cute. I certainly wish we were allowed to have cameras. I'd like to snap our living quarters, school etc. It will be such a nice souvenir and a good remembrance.
Miss Breed, do you know if shower caps are on the shortage list too?
I would very much like to have:
2 hole note-book paper lined -- 2 pkg. or 1
1 eraser
1 little pencil sharpener like the ones in a pencil box.
Please do not rush this because I am not in a hurry. Please remember your work comes before my shopping!
Thank you!
Please do write during your leisure time and let me know how everything is with you.
As I count the pages, I have written 4 pages. I never realized how much I was writing. I imagine by the time you finish the 2nd page, you'll become hungry.
Most sincerely,
Louise Ogawa

Daily Life | Basic Necessities | Family Separation | Reflections
Welcome | Clara Breed | Departure for Camp | Life in Camp | Returning Home | FAQ |

© Japanese American National Museum