Title: "Tears, Smiles Mingle as Japs Bid Bainbridge Farewell," Seattle Times, 3/30/1942, (ddr-densho-56-730)
Densho ID: ddr-densho-56-730

Tears, Smiles Mingle as Japs Bid Bainbridge Farewell


Bainbridge Island Japanese, alien and American-born alike, were evacuated from the island this forenoon, some leaving in tears, some with smiles and others with traditional stoic faces.

The Army checked out a total of 237 persons, the remainder of the 289 on the island having left voluntarily.

The evacuation was a credit to the efficiency of the Army, it was a tragedy to the Japanese themselves and it was a said [sad] affair for island residents, most of whom knew the Japanese personally.

Only one incident was given first aid, carried on the boat and then received medical attention when the ferry arrived in Seattle.

By 11 o'clock this forenoon the entire Japanese population of the island had been assembled, as arranged previously, at the ferry dock in Eagledale. Soldiers under command of Maj. C.F. Bisenius immediately segregated them by families and gave an identification tag to each.

When the ferry Kehloken arrived at 11:03 o'clock, the entire assemblage was ready to board. It was accomplished in orderly fashion. There were one or more soldiers for each family. The soldiers courteously escorted the Japanese aboard the ferry.

Once aboard, the evacuees were given the run of the boat, except for the lower deck.

Arriving at Colman Dock shortly after noon, the Japanese were taken immediately to the special train, which was on the switch tracks in front of the dock.

The Japanese by this time were smiling but there were many a soldier, including even officers, who had tears streaming down their

faces as they escorted the evacuees aboard the train.

The Japanese had left their homes, in which some had lived for as many as 40 years. The most touching scene, however, was the attitude of the children, some too young to comprehend the reason for their removal. One child, held tightly by his mother on the ferry, asked:

"Where are we going?"

The mother rocked him gently and said:

"I don't know, but we will be back."

The captain of the ferry which brought the Japanese to Seattle was Oscar Lundgren, who was born on the island and knew most of the Japanese who were being removed. He was kept busy during his relief shift shaking hands with his friends.

Tells of 'Slabwood Harry'

He told about Harry Hiroshita, who was known in the early part of the century as "Slabwood Harry."

Captain Lundgren explained that this nickname resulted from the fact that Hiroshita supplied the slabwood for tugs which ran into Port Blakely before the days of coal and oil.

Another touching scene before the ferry left Bainbridge Island was the parting between high school classmates. Many pupils at Bainbridge High School cut classes to bid their Japanese friends goodbye.

There was a great gathering of white friends at Eagledale before the evacuation was completed. These friends, as well as soldiers, gave the departing Japanese every help.

It was a pathetic exodus.

There were mothers with babies in arms, aged patriarchs with faltering steps, high school boys and girls, and some children, too young to realize the full import of the occasion. The youngsters frolicked about, treating the evacuation as a happy excursion.

There was at least one sad separation.

Ebaristo Arota, a Filipino, remained on the island while his Japanese wife, Miki, sadly boarded the ferry.

Army officials said they were compelled to deny a request that either Arota be taken with the evacuees or Mrs. Arota be allowed to stay.

Yesterday was a busy one for the island's "orphans of war," and they have designated themselves. The island Japanese had set aside their affairs in order in eight short days, under Army orders.

For some it was a simple matter. Others had a far more difficult time, as they had much personal property to sell or store, and personal affairs, such as leases, to settle.

John Nakata, proprietor of the Eagle Harbor Grocery & Market, spent a busy day visiting customers who had invited him for farewell calls. Earlier in the week, he had arranged for leasing his business, and his day was free.

Nakata's home, during the late afternoon, became a gathering place for many Japanese and American friends at what he termed a "going-away" party.

Farewell Service Held

The Rev. K. Hirakawa, pastor of the Japanese church, was has accepted his evacuation orders with calm philosophy, held farewell services for the flock he has served 17 years. Services scarcely had ended when movers arrived to store the church piano.

"What has to be done, has to be," said Mr. Hirakawa, smiling. "I am glad for the fact we all can be together. I think most of us will return to the island together some day.

Some are old and won't be back, but the rest of us will await the day when we can come home."

The minister expressed pride over the way members of his race accepted evacuation.

"We knew, really, that the order was coming," he asserted. "We had hoped for the best, however, and when it did come it was a shock. But almost 100 per cent of the Japanese have tried to make the best of it. If this evacuation will help the country, we are proud to obey the order."

'Auction' Draws Many

A scene reminiscent of a Midwest farm auction was enacted yesterday at the Kitayama Greenhouse and Gardens at Pleasant Beach. The proprietors had much to sell. There were plants and shrubs, tools and fertilizers, automobiles and trucks, household furnishings, and even a flock of chickens.

Eager buyers stormed the place, and by nightfall nearly everything was gone. A few chickens remained, but a neighbor agreed to take care of them.

A problem was foreseen over the evacuation of Yoshio Katayama, his mother and two sisters. Katayama owns the island's largest rhubarb farm, which will have a harvest estimated at $1,000. Katayama said he had been unable to obtain a lessee, and fears his entire rhubarb crop will go to waste.

Strawberry and pea fields were almost deserted yesterday, a strange occurrence for this time of year, when workers usually are busy every day, even Sundays, weeding and cultivating.

Every Field to Order

The Japanese pointed proudly, however, to one thing: Every field on the island is in perfect order. For the past week, they have toiled to put each strawberry field in "apple pie" condition. The peas are cultivated and staked. Pea plants are two to three inches tall, and the rows, spread in geometrical order, are weed-free.

F.O. Nagatani, Island Center, said every Japanese on the island has striven for the past eight days to make his land ready for production.

"We won't be here to harvest the crop, but the crop is there," Nagatani said. "It will be as good or better crop than any previous year. We hope it will aid the war effort."

A strange collection of materials began gathering in the storehouse opened at Winslow by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, custodian for enemy-alien property. Among articles the Japanese asked the bank to care for were a 50-gallon barrel of strawberry preserves, and 68 wrestling mats owned by the island's Japanese Association.

There were many scenes of pathos yesterday. The Japanese can take only personal belongings with them. The Army made no arrangements for pets. This was a hard blow to many children who had to part with dogs and cats.

The dog situation was eased by citizens who agreed to care for the animals until the Japanese return, or until the dogs can be shipped to the resettlement center -- Army rules permitting.

Little Kejo Leaves Kitty

There was no solution, however, as to what to do about little Kejo Nishimira's kitten. The little girl, scarcely 4 years old, said, with tears in her eyes:

"It can't take my kitty."

Several hard-boiled guys from Brooklyn in the Army group indicated they would gladly smuggle little Kejo's kitten aboard the ferry if they thought she could take it along with her to California.

They knew she couldn't, however, and it appeared that one company might have a new mascot -- a kitten.

Japanese are regretful but not bitter about their departure. John Ichero summed up the general attitude when he said:

"Some Americans join the Army, others the Navy. We do our part by evacuating."

The evacuees can take only such baggage as they can carry. Despite this restriction, many families are discarding staple articles in favor of personal ones.

Two families, for instance, are taking small Buddhist altars. Another is taking a scrapbook of clippings, which tell of a son's Bainbridge High school athletic career. The M. Nakata family carefully packed away a poster which says a son is in the United States Army.

Lieut. Col. Paul B. Malone, 9th Corps Area, was on the island to aid evacuation procedure. He had high praise for the manner in which the Japanese had cooperated.

[Photo caption]: This scene was typical as the evacuation proceeded under Army supervision. Toshiki Katayama carries a suitcase out of her home as she prepares to leave the island on which she always has lived.

[Photo caption]: Soldiers guarded the ferry dock at Eagle Harbor as the island Japanese were evacuated. Here, from left to right, are Pvts. Sol Cohen, Henry Hoffmann and Walter Bond and Corp. Jerry Krakendonk.

[Photo caption]: There was sadness in the hearts of Ebaristo Arota, a Filipino, and his Japanese wife, Miki, as they boarded a truck on Bainbridge Island this forenoon for their last few minutes together for an indefinite period. Mrs. Arota was evacuated with other island Japanese; her husband could not accompany her. Here they are about to set out for the ferry.