Pacific Citizen 9/17/1942

The Pacific Citizen September 17, 1942
Vol 15 No. 16

POSTON—Twenty-four persons appeared in Poston I Police Court last week on traffic violation charges, reports the Press Bulletin. Most of the violators were put on one to six months probation. A few were given two-day sentences, with one day suspended.

     Leaving Poston last week through the mixed-marriage release were Clarence and Francine Sadamune, who left for Oakland, Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian Dequin of Gilroy, and Mrs. Thelma Conejo and her children Elias and Steven who left for San Jose.

     Evacuees Devise Ingenious Creations to Replace Commodities and Fixtures Unobtainable Because Of War-Born Priorities, Transportation Difficulties

     Poston, Ariz, —War-born priorities, shortages of this and that, together with mounting transportation difficulties provide a problem that is confounding WRA heads in Poston. From Wade Head down to the lesser satellites, the phrase to meet these breaches seem to be, "we leave it up to your ingenuity."
     The evacuee Japanese here have proven equal to the challenge in many highly imaginative ways and by, exceedingly clever methods. True, enough, experienced engineers or skilled mechanics may shake their heads with misgiving at some of the unholy apparatus but it seems to do the work. Because the Poston-invented product lacks factory built smooth and sleek lines, it often leans toward the unusual and comical. Yet, like oleomargarine, despite the appearance, it will do as a substitute for butter.

     The average Postonite seems to be a half carpenter, half machinist combined with a streak of talent that rises to the occasion with a spur of the moment contrivance. If ingenuity can be described as the ability to accomplish great results with small moans, there are improvisions for almost everything but U. S. greenbacks at Poston.

     When the first batch of evacuees arrived here in May, the administration offices were just as bare as Sally Rand. Hastily, the maintenance department drafted a few evacuee carpenters who had but a minimum of tools but a maximum of resourcefulness. They speedily built sturdy office furniture out of scrap lumber that the contractor had discarded.
     There was a Caucasian cabinet maker then; but when Tom Yura displayed the serviceable desks, designed with roomy drawer space, stream-lined with his delicate touch the cabinet maker soon left. Neat cabinets, files, tables and even chairs were fashioned from wood resurrected from the waste piles. The canteens and their fixtures have taken their toll in board feet.


     The hospital has used many of the products styled by Japanese artisans. Other departments have been satisfied in their demands for for furniture. But the scrap heaps have become extinct as the dinosaurs. Yet, from what odds and ends that are still left and from recently purchased new materials the carpenters continue to turn out useful products.
     When there was no lumber available for nursery facilities, again evacuee ingenuity and sweat came to the rescue. Lath houses sprang up to take the place of glass hot houses to grow plants. Then, as these seeds grew to the transplanting stage, they were placed under shades built with cotton wood supports and thatched with brush, until they were strong enough to be planted in the field.
     About six acres of tomatoes were set out here, but due to unfavorable weather conditions, these plants died. However, to plant this acreage, over 6,000 young plants were required. Every one of these were raised here in the improvised hot house and shelter. Now attention is being centered on celery plants.
     Quoting from Carey McWilliams in September's Harper Magazine, who writes about Santa Anita, "'many of the quarters have been tastefully decorated with a talent for improvising that borders on the miraculous."
     McWilliams could have used the same words for Poston. On arrival, the apartments were completely bare. But now, the residences here are full of homemade furniture. Stools, benches, chairs, tables, dressing tables, suitable for the exacting demands of the feminine heart, clothes cabinets, closets, book cases, desks and wooden clogs are just a few of the pieces made after visits to the waste lumber pile. Even chaise lounges are included in the thousand and one useful articles constructed. Chests of drawers are found in many homes. At the first glance, these look like Grand Rapids pieces but closer scrutiny reveals the use of neatly shaved discards from the trash heaps with perhaps a back of corrugated paper to stamp the article as strictly of local make.
     Minoru Inokuchi, Block 22, has perhaps one of the biggest chests. It stands over 5 feet in height with a set of 5 drawers almost a foot deep each and about 3 and one-half feet in length.

     The destructive wind storm that hit Poston a while back proved the adage, "it is an ill wind that blows nobody good."
     Since the available supply of lumber had been depleted, after the storm a few porches and many additional pieces were designed to round out a home set of modern Americana in Poston lines. Some of the people are secretly hoping for another storm to build a few more things.
     During the past hot spell, many novel forms of air conditioning came from the fertile and over-heated brains of the evacuees. A few merely cut large holes in the walls to admit the cooling, breezes. Others covered these holes with a frame over laid with a burlap or onion sack on which a tiny trickle of water fell from an over head tank. These tanks were made of wood, others used large tin cans, with a small opening for water drainage.
     The majority of the more inventive resorted to boxes lined with excelsior in place of sack frames. But these fantastic and crude models were all dependent on a movement outside air for efficiency. Only a faint breath of wind, pouring through the water cooled openings, lowered the room temperature by a few degrees. Then, as these experiments were developed, and finding the cause of step farther, complementing the inefficiency, a number advanced a home-made engineering with a motor driven fan to maintain a constant flow of cooled air.
     Some dug cellars large enough to accomodate three or four persons underneath their houses despite the perils of scorpions and the nuisance of omnipresent ants.       
     One of the earliest cooling units, made by Mr. Kurishima, Block 30,was unique. It has all the usual features plus a windlass to lift the water to the eaves. There, the nail keg, cut like a bucket, is tipped into a wooden trough. Then, as the water drops down, it is gathered in a reservoir to be used again. It is a contraption that would make even Rube Goldberg turn envious.
     This same man has a wind-operated "dojigger" that tops anything for originality. The figure elevated on a stick in his yard, apparently, is a woman bent over a wash board. As it leans over towards the bottom of the board its skirt is raised. If the wind is stirring, the motion of a woman washing is faithfully depicted. Sometimes, she does it in a lackadaisical, indifferent manner; other times, she is so vigorous that one can almost sense her haste because she must start cooking for her hungry brood. It is always a laugh provoker.
     Mr. Kurishima, previously mentioned, has taken over the toy department. His tools are limited but already he has made a creditable start. Alphabet blocks, toy houses, chairs and other playthings that delight juvenile hands have been built. He has plans for more ambitious schemes on mass production lines if he can get the materials. When the curved forms used in supporting concrete for the sewage disposal plant were broken, the lumber did not pass unseen. The Los Angeles boys on Block 35 seized it for a backstop in the ball park, christened Powell-Evans field. Other parts were utilized in a semi-circular backstop by the Riverside and San Bernardino lads for their diamond on Block 4.
     Curved bridges, faintly recalling "maru bashi," have appeared in various parts of the camp. More porches with a graceful arc were added to other homes. Basketball backboards have become numerous. All of these have occasional lumps of concrete, marking their source. Fish ponds have been dug, planted with carp and catfish caught in the nearby creek. The bait problem has been solved by lures of rolled up bread. Fish are such poor connoiseurs of palatibility! Perhaps that accounts for the expression, "poor fish."

     Poston's landscaping gem is the miniature twin lakes built by K. Ito of Block 35. The bottom of the lakes is concrete, while they included the American Association of University Women, overhead is a "mam bashi" with a lantern suspended high over the center arch. When the work is completed, it will be one of the show places of the settlement.
     Victory gardens, lawns, flower beds, transplanted cotton, wood trees and other flora have all been used to show typical evacuee ingenuity. It is a welcome contrast to the ugly wastes that are common on every hand. However, the victory gardens must be classified as foresighted, rather than ingenuity.
     There have been numerous funerals and a few weddings. The flowers used for these rites have been made invariably from wire, paper wrappings from oranges and lemons, and whatever bits of bright colored paper that the maker may chance upon. Some of these blooms appear so real that one can almost detect an odor.
     Manifestations of the novel are rather on the bizarre side, uncovering the latent streak of humor in the evacuees, as shown by the house signs. Blue Room, Casa de Utsuki, Hacienda de Wowonas, Casa de Sorrel, Rancho Grande and la Casa de Mo Gan Toi are a few examples.
     The plastic art department, headed by Katsutoshi Tanino has a program under way now to develop talent in wood carving, soap whittling and other artistic leanings in that line. They will soon have an exhibit. The play shelters for children that are built in various sites, are civic monuments. These are merely cottonwood poles supporting a brush roof; however, the work is entirely voluntary. The residents of the block go out on Sundays to gather the material and construct the shade in their spare time.
     Poston, too. has its outdoor bowl. Perhaps the stage does not compare with the Hollywood Bowl but the people in Block 22, who volunteered to build it and maintain it, think it is better. This is the scene for talent shows and "shibai" with tin cans for footlight reflectors and shades.

     If anything is needed nowadays for household furniture, the usual procedure is to take stock of your own lumber supply, cached out of sight under the house. Then, if you still lack material, cast a covetous eye on your neighbor's wood. The idea is to beg, borrow or wheedle him into giving you the parts to complete your dream. However, if you haven't the stuff to suit your fancy, then, there is the final and costlier alternative, the all-American method, order by mail.
     After the scrap piles had been reduced to oblivion, the people turned to the adjoining jungles for further materials. Taking the cue from Isamu Noguchi, R. Kato and Frank Kadowaki, who have gathered uncommon species of knotty mesquite knurls and unique pieces of iron wood, the rush has started. This wood, when stripped of its bark and polished, makes wonderous mantlepieces, vases, lamp stands and other decorative articles. Some of the finished products by Noguchi and by Kato are positively masterpieces in their line.
     Raiding the desert for cacti is another arduous fad that has taken root in Poston. Now, with cooler weather, many more desert flora will eventually be transplanted to lighten the drab atmosphere about the camp. Howard Kakudo has made a nice start on a cacti garden.

     The kitchen is another place where cleverness seems rampant. The noise mechanism that is equivalent to "come and get it" range* from tops of garbage cans clashed together like cymbals, beating; a frying pan, pounding steel bars, knocking a worn-out kettle and even tapping disc knives.
      L. W. Bemis of Santa Ana has donated a disc knife to for that Block 22 purpose. Each block has its special and peculiar means of announcing "chow." Strange as it may seem, despite the proximity of the kitchens which peal forth three times a day at almost the identical hour, each resident is attuned to the distinctive timbre of the mess call in his individual eating place. Seldom is he rushed into answering the adjoining kitchen's summons. Depending upon the extent of hunger, these urgent notices, however noisy as they may be, are the sweetest harmony played anywhere. The bells of St. Mary's college chimes have never aroused the contentment that the dinner music brings forth.
     High chairs for juveniles have been made in the mess halls. Steel bands that were once wound around massive rolls of blankets have found their way to the kitchens adorned with wooden handles to be used for paring vegetables.
     There are many adroit and accomplished people here, the art on display make proof hardly necessary. But, the most ingenious improviser, the king of them all, is the chief cook in the kitchens. Beset by limited equipment, harried by short rations and cut off by tardy supplies, with mealtime approaching closer by each tick of the clock, he must prepare a repast from inspiration and practically an empty larder. These conditions are the usual and not the extraordinary. After all, how far will a daily 38 cents allowance for food per person stretch?
     Yet, even if it be beans for the first meal of the day, these stalwart men put them out on the tables. People often complain about the lack of variety in the menu but with the shortages in staples, the chief cooks are doing a mighty fine job. The fault lies elsewhere —not in the lack of culinary cunning and not in the lack of imagination.
     Nobody on record, in Foston, has missed a meal because the chef couldn't think of anything to cook, no matter how humble it may be. Yes. the evacuees have the ability to overcome a good many obstacles that may have proven bottlenecks. Come to Poston for a post-graduate course in ingenuity!

The Mutual Supply Company Changes of Address Of Personnel
S. Togasaki, 307-5-A, Poston, Arizona.
Y. Fukutome, 308-4-C, Poston, Arizona.

     In an effort to secure evacuee labor to harvest the beet crop, the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company has a dozen officials and agricultural supervisors contacting Japanese relocation centers, Eric W. Ryberg, executive vice-president of the company, reported in Salt Lake City last week.
     He noted that seeing sufficient labor to harvest the big crop in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington and South Dakota is the company's greatest problem.
     "We expect about 12,000 persons to go into the beet fields in our territory to harvest the crop the latter part of September and of this number about 5,000 will be Japanese men and members of their families," Ryberg asserted. "The other workers will be the growers themselves and their families."
     Ryberg added that his company already has 2,000 evacuee Japanese helping in its field operations, but that 3,000 more are needed to assist in the harvesting. The sugar executive said that the company has received fine co-operation from the governors of the states in which it operates and from local civilian authorities working with the War Relocation Authority.

Whistling in the Dark By KENNY MURASE
Lets Get Together, Urges Little Esteban

     Little Esteban had an unusually thoughtful and expensive look on his face as he came toddling in, and he seemed not a whit disturbed when the door behind him walloped shut as another Poston twister shook the building.
     "Well, Little Esteban," said I, "what's on your mind?"
     Little Esteban looked at me with rueful brown eyes and heaved a sigh. "Lots of things, kiddo, lots of things."
"For instance, what ?" I asked.
"I've been hearing things, kiddo, and none of it sounds very good. Your bunch here isn't getting along any too good with the new people who just came in from Santa Anita, are you? There have seen some scraps already and you're pretty much divided, aren't you?
"I guess that's so," said I, "but I think it's because they are newcomers and because they all happen to be living in that one section over there."
"Yes, that was too bad they had to be separated like that. You'll always have the natural tendency of thinking you belong in this section and that they belong in that section, and you'll have some sort of rivalry coming up, unless you do something about it quick."
"Well, Little Esteban, just what do you suppose we can do to keep these people from having ill-will against each other?"
"Mostly by education, kiddo, by getting people to realize the situation they're in and the consequences of the attitudes and the actions that they take."
I guess I was in a fog; what Little Esteban was saying just didn't register. "How do you mean?" I asked blankly.
"Well, kiddo,'' said he in a wise and philosophic tone, "our community here in Poston is composed of people from different areas all up and down the California coast. As individuals, each of us have individual ideas, habits and opinions; each of us will react a little differently from anyone else in any given situation. In many cases, what we think and feel and do may be entirely contrary to, perhaps even in conflict with, what our neighbors think and feel and do. Because of these reasons we will often find some people objectionable, and we may want to express this feeling in some way,"
"And suppose," I interrupted, "people do have such feelings. How do you suppose you're going to get them to withhold them?"
"By making them realize that whether or not they want to show their disapproval of others, they have to face the fact they must live together with them for a long time. You lave the alternative now of either setting aside your petty differences and combining all your mental and physical and spiritual resources and really forging ahead as a progressive community, or else you can keep insisting upon clinging to a dead past and salve your old selfish egos to slowly perish in the heat and the dust."
"Sounds awful," said I, as Little Esteban continued. "Each of you have come from an acquisitive society where you've measured success in terms of material possessions— money, clothes, a good car-—and in trying to attain this kind of 'success' you've always thought and acted in terms of furthering your own self interest, yours alone, and often times blindly disregarding the social consequences of what you are doing."
"And how does Poston differ from the sort of society we came from?" I asked.
"Well, it's this way, kiddo," said Little Esteban, "here in Poston, material possessions—money, clothes, a good car —they're no longer important—the drive for material gains has lost the glitter that it has had. Now you've got to measure success in terms of the social services that you as individuals may, render to the community. Instead of devoting your energies to the selfish accumulation of material wealth, you'll have to divert them into channels leading towards community betterment."

"But how are you going to get people to change their ways of thinking and acting when all their life up until now they've been thinking and acting as they are now and finding it to work out all right for them?"

"Kiddo, that's a hard question to decide," said Little Esteban frowning, "But it'll only be a matter of time before the people begin to realize that they must all work in the interests of the community as a whole, and you can hurry up the process of their awakening to that realization if you begin now to point out the dangers of their taking a passive attitude towards the situation.

"You see, kiddo," and now Little Esteban's cherubic face became long and sober, "Most of you in your community of Poston III haven't been here very long. You still have some money with you, but you're spending it fast, and there will come a time when you aren't going to be able to run down to the canteen for a pop whenever you feel like it. There will be other things a lot more important that you'll have to buy—clothes, bedding, shoes, personal items, etc.—and there's a limit to even these things. If your present rate of income is kept where it is, and if you keep spending it as fast as you are now, there's going to come a time when a great number of you will have to have some sort of assistance from other people. Let's hope such a situation won't become serious, but if it does, then the whole community will have to help the needy—and you'll have to begin now preparing the community to be ready to meet such a situation. You have to start impressing upon the people right now of how important and necessary it is to set aside self-interest for community interest."

"In other words, Little Esteban," I said, "you feel that people should begin thinking about all the possible things that might happen in the future and to begin repairing for them now,"
"That's it, kiddo," said he, "so let's get down to business."
And with that Little Esteban disappeared in a cloud of Poston dust.