Sunday, September 7, 2014

Japanese Relocation Camp, Topaz, Utah - September 1943 - 71 years ago.

Aug 7, 1943 [Probably Sep. 7 because it is in an envelope with a Sep 8 postmark]
                                                                                                                                        Topaz, Utah

Dear Mother,
I do hope Willard got home safely, and I’m glad you & Edna didn’t come with us, because it was a long trip.  Betty & Alvin were both exhausted when we got here.  They are feeling fine now and are having a lot of fun.  These big rooms are just the thing for children to play in and they play together as good as gold.
It is quite a set up here.  The thing we object to most is the dust.  Its fine white dust & gets into everything.  Then there is the water & bathroom situation.  Other than that it is very nice here.  Everyone is very friendly, and try to help us all they can.  Harold was home yesterday all day except for 2 hrs, & he was home again this morning so we’ve got things pretty well settled.  There is still a lot of cleaning to do.  The baby’s beds are very dirty & I was going to scrub them this afternoon then decided I’d better write.  We take our dishes over to the laundry & wash them rather than pack the water.  There is always plenty of hot water.  It is so hot we made Jello with it after we brought some home in the jug.  Every morning 2 Japanese women come in & make the bed, & shake all the rugs, & sweep & mop the floors.  I was surely surprised when they came in at 8:30 this morning.  I was just giving Betty her breakfast because she slept so late.  Harold has to be to work at 8 AM so we eat early.
It is so hot here in the afternoons we nearly wilt about 3 A.M. it starts cooling off & by six AM you would think you were in Alaska.  The sun on the white dust glares like on snow.  I’ve got to get an umbrella & hats with shades on them.  We haven’t tried going outside between 12 & 3 P.M.  It’s too hot.
Apparently there are quite a few things we forgot.  The large cardboard box in the basement we intended to bring & forgot about it altho we didn’t have room for it.  Nor the box of books & fruit.  There is a large Physiology book in the wooden box with the rug over it & Harold will need it.  I wonder if you will mail it.  I also forgot my vitamins.  Were you able to get my dress from the cleaners?
It is so hot I can’t think what I want to write.  We live about a block from Fern [Rees Barrows].  I haven’t been over there yet but I’ve seen her in the laundry room.
We are invited to a tea tomorrow for all the high school teachers & their wives.  Harold is on a committee to ship all the Alien Japanese to Tule Lake California.  There will be over 2,000 from here going.
I hope you have decided to remain home.  I think that is the wisest thing.
With love,

Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday afternoon
Sept. 12. 43.
Do you want me to send your dress,

Dear Laura,
Helen left for California Friday evening, or really Sat. morning at 2: a.m.  Friday was her birthday and we went to town after she washed her hair and did some packing.  She was very tired when she left, so was I.  I felt bad because I didn’t get any supper for her nor a cake nor anything.  She was going at seven o’clock and it seemed as if we couldn’t get anywhere with the packing to get her ready on time.  Sis. Toronto said it was a good thing that she didn’t go up at seven as she couldn’t have gone anyway as there were a lot of Draftees going and people had to just wait in the waiting room for the next Bus. Bro. & Sis. Toronto  came about 12:p.m. and took her to the depot and waited until she left at 2.  I bet they were very tired next day.  Mont was to meet her at Oakland.  I am sorry you left your things. Hope you are not needing them too bad.  I guess I ought to have sent your pills but I have been so busy and tired that it just slipped up.  Hope Harold got the books all right. Yesterday I put up plums and cleaned the front rooms then went to Bell Blazard’s Robertson’s funeral.  I still have a few plums to put up.  Pearl will be home Tuesday, as she wants to start Mutual.  I am going over to take care of Edna’s children in the morning.  She is going to work tomorrow for another two weeks as it is someone else’s vacation.  Then Pearl can go when she comes home.  I haven’t any  Peaches put up yet.  I got 6 qts. Of Pears out of them Harold took off the tree.  Sister Brienholt brought me over 6 cans of corn.  Some of our tomatoes are ripe and Willard had a mess of corn for dinner today out of our garden, and we had some before Helen left.  I went to Willard’s today for dinner.  I have not heard any more from any of them away except Jennette.  They are all well.  The weather here is lovely.  I went over to see Mrs. Barrows one day.  She seemed tickled over it.  This house seems so quiet.  I find myself tiptoeing for fear I will wake some of the children. I don’t know what happened to those books that Harold got from England.  They were on the small table in the front room, and they are not there any more.  Do you think some one opened the door and took them.  Maybe Helen moved them.  Does these Jap women come in all the time and do your floors.  I am glad the rooms are large enough for the children to play.  The schools & shows are all closed here to children 17 years old & under.  No Deacons at Sacrament meeting.  I didn’t get to our ward reunion with Helen going away. Hope you are feeling rested and that the children are well and happy.  I do hope Harold will enjoy his work, and do have a good time both of you together.  Laugh & sing and play with the children.  Give Alvin a hug from Grandma also Betty and lots of love to you Both from Mother.

                                                                                                                                      Sept 13, 1943
                                                                                                                                        Topaz, Utah
Dear Mother,
We got your letter this evening and were glad to hear from you.  We are at present living about half a mile from the post office & have to make a special trip for mail.  Harold’s school is half a mile in the opposite direction.  If you ever saw flat country its out here.  The books came Friday ok & Harold had his first day of School today & it went very well he said.

We’ve had one week of it here, & it has been good & bad.  When I stop to think how Jennette has it I know it is much easier for us than her.  We have to carry water yes, but we have hot water day or night just by going after it a short distance.  The bathroom situation is the worst, but we are getting used to it.  When I bath the children I take them to the wash house & they have 4 bath tubs & 2 doz. wash basins and it is always well heated.  I take their clean clothes with me & dress them there.  It is much easier than carrying the water here to bathe them.  I’ve decided to do my washing in the evening after Harold gets home so he can watch the children, & it works out very well.  Last Wed we bought a bu of peaches from a fellow who trucked them in to Topaz & Thurs. I went into Delta & bought 2 doz bottles & Fri eve we bottled them.  I got 22 quarts & 1 qt of jam.  Don’t worry about the things I left, because I haven’t missed anything too much.  I have 6 sheets with me, & that is plenty.  Don’t send the dress either.  The dust is so thick you wear one dress till you can’t stand it any longer then wash it out.  So as yet I’m wearing washables.  The only thing I really miss is my vitamins & it was silly of me to go off without them. 
With the move, I completely forgot Helen’s birthday until I read your letter.  Yes, the women still come in every morning & make my bed because they get here usually before I have a chance to make it & give the furniture a once over with a duster & swap the floors & go over it with a damp mop to take the dust off.  It helps no end.  We really should have different shoes for the house from the ones we wear out.
Betty & Alvin both like it here & adjusted quickly to it.  We have army blankets & comforts & they are so light & soft yet so warm it is wonderful.  The mattress is the best I’ve ever slept on.  It is like air.  We are cooking on a 3 burner kerosene stove & it is very satisfactory.  We have large army heaters & Harold puts them on in the morning & that is all we need yet.  It has warmed up since I called you.  It is quite a problem to get in to Delta for food.  But we get bread & milk here at the dining hall & occasionally can get other things at the (Japanese) resident canteen.  We are out of touch with the world completely.  No newspaper or radio.  When our check comes we’re going to get the paper tho.  A little over a week & Jesse will be home.  Perhaps we can come up for a day.            With Love, Laura

[Postmarked: Delta, Utah Sep 21]
                                                                                                                                        Topaz, Utah
                                                                                                                                     Sept. 20, 1943

Dear Mother,
It seems that I have a minute to write this morning.  We’ve been very busy for the past week.  Harold has been on a committee to help get all these people going to Tule Lake.  Sat. night 441 people came from Tule, a day before expected & they had to put up beds for them in the school house.  Then yesterday 500 left here for Tule.  These people coming in are all American Japanese and we are glad to see the Alien Japanese leave.
I guess you are getting ready to welcome Jesse home.  Is he still coming this Thurs.  Harold will be able to get Sat. & Sun. off in about 2 weeks so we hope we can come in for a day to see Jesse.
I had a letter from Helen yesterday and she is surely happy to be with Mont.

It is one o clock now.  Fern has gone into Delta & I have her 3 children.  Lauana is in school. The bus to Delta leaves at 1:00 P.M. & gets back at 4:30, and that is the only way we can get in to do shopping.  I went in last Friday but this is the first time Fern has gone in.  Fri I was the only white person on the bus and it takes half an hr. to get to Delta.  The jap people here are very friendly and very appreciative of anything you do for them.  I gave the ladies that come to clean some peaches once & pudding another time.  And it seems they can’t do enough to try to repay you.  They don’t get much fruit & they are hungry for it.
This evening we are going into Delta with Dave Evans and his wife from Murray.  He was in the Southern States on a mission while Jennette was there only he was in Florida.  They have a boy 3.  Well, I’m going to do a little ironing for Fern while she is gone.  I’m able to keep up with mine fine, but she gets pretty far behind with hers.  I’m surprized how nice she keeps her children and she surely tries to keep herself & house looking nice.
We went to Sunday School a week ago & it is held in one of the small apts in the Staff housing it is the home of Cornwall a brother to J. Spencer, but I’ve not spent such a miserable morning in a long time.  Alvin didn’t make a sound all the time but Betty wanted to move around altho she wasn’t noisy.  Every time she touched anything Mrs. Cornwall would turn & look at her, and she finally asked me to take them into the next apt to a Jr. class.  I couldn’t take them in and leave them and I felt that I wanted to listen to the lesson too. So I took Betty on my lap again & amused her with my hankie.  That was alright for a time but she would set & talk to herself as she so often does.  Bro Cornwall was giving the lesson and every time Betty made a sound he would pause.  I was getting madder all the time I guess, anyway He paused again and then reread his sentence & as he reread it Betty squelled & he made note that he would reread it again.  The room was small & there were 20 people in it all sitting close enough together that there was no need for him to repeat because we could all hear & I was the farthest from him.  Well anyway I got up & walked out with Alvin & Betty.  They used to have their meetings in the Recreation hall and there is no reason why they still can’t have them there because there is a piano there & everything & we wouldn’t be worried about the children soiling someone elses furniture.  The Cornwalls are odd.  They don’t recognize anyone on the project and speak only when they feel like it.  Consequently they are not very well liked by anyone.  But I know I’ll have to try to treat them decent anyway.  There are a lot of lovely LDS people here and we should have a good branch.  Must stop for no[w] .  May God bless you Mother          
With Love       Laura

                                                                                                                                        Topaz, Utah
                                                                                                                                      Sept 26, 1943
Dear Mother,

Yesterday was Sunday, & we got your letter in the morning.  Sometimes it is hard for us to get the mail every day.  We wanted to come in some time & see Jesse, and when the Evens’ said they were going it and gave us the opportunity to go with them we took it.  But we can’t leave here until 3 P.M. Friday and it is a 4 or 5 hr. drive.  Then we will have to return sometime Sunday afternoon.  I had planned on staying 2 or 3 days longer but I’ve told a woman I’d take care of her little boy 19 mo. Starting Oct 4th.  They are so hard up for high school teachers that she is going to teach.  Her husband Leon Westover is also a teacher and they are L.D.S.  He is first counselor to the branch president.  By the way they started holding church in the Recreation hall yesterday & it is every so much better.
Harold can’t think where he put the pins for the bookcase.  The vitamins came ok.  It was surely good to hear Jesse yesterday. And we would be glad to have him come back with us for a while.  We’ve plenty of room and we’ve got an army cot he could sleep on & its pretty comfortable too.  We’ve got stacks of bedding too, 3 comforts & 8 wool blankets.  Yesterday we finally found out that we’re in line for an apartment but it may be one month or 2 months before they are finished.
We got ½ bu of tomatoes Sat & we’ve eaten a lot of them but I’ll put the rest up & we’ll get a few more qts.  Thayer finally got more gas for his car so he can go after our groceries once a week now.  The washer is ok now but we had to put new oil in it.  Furn is using it too & paying me 50¢ a week.  She wouldn’t use it without paying me & the project washer is as hard to use as doing it by hand.  Mrs. Westover is going to pay me $1.00 a day which with be $25. A month and we don’t have to buy wood or coal so we ought to be able to pay off our ins. Loan & save some money.  We are buying a bond every month anyway.
I’m going to take care of Ferns children this morning.  She is going up to the offices & see if they can expect an apt. in the near future.
I do hope you have a good trip to Roland’s and that all goes well.  We wish you were going to be home when we come, but perhaps you can come down to visit us when you get back.  Praying that the Lord will watch over you

With Love       Laura

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