The previous posting mentioned Sonoko’s half-sister, Alice, who contracted TB in the Manzanar Japanese-American internment camp and died shortly after her release. Here are her letters to Sonoko, including the poignant final one as she was preparing to leave in an ambulance. “Sono chan” is a term of endearment between childhood friends. Sonoko was interned in the Poston, AZ, camp.
December 16, 1942
Dear Sono chan—
It seems rather out of place to be wishing anyone a Merry Xmas this year. Christmas isn’t going to be like one for most people but I couldn’t help thinking how awful it would be to disappoint the little tots. I’m afraid I couldn’t get much, but the children can at least have something to tear open. I was especially disappointed with Masahiro’s. It isn’t quite what I thought I was getting and I’m afraid it’s a bit too childish for him, isn’t it? I wanted to get him something progressive and practical but mature enough for the boy but I didn’t quite succeed. I guess he can drag the trailer around, tho.
I bet they’ve grown, haven’t they? It’s been over a year since we last saw them. Miki must have quite a vocabulary by now . . . and does Misao still cause you a lot of trouble? Masahiro was really lots of fun. . . we certainly enjoyed his company then. . . .
Do you hear from Mr. Iwata? There had been talk here of most of the interned men returning in the near future.
I heard Poston was a hot place in summer but how is it now? We haven’t had snow yet except on the mountains above us but we’ve had ice on the ground & ponds a number of times.
Take care of yourselves and please write if the packages reach you safely and if the tots are able to make use of the “toys”.
December 29, 1943
Dear Sono chan,
Just a note in explanation. . . .I’m awfully sorry I’m so late in sending these. . .And with Xmas over, and in my haste, I didn’t even put them in decent wrappings. As usual, there were mail order complications and besides not getting them in time, they weren’t what I wanted. The dolls, I had to buy here as a last resort. . . .they’re identical so I marked the names in their underwear.
The dresses in the box, I made not very thoroughly and quite hastily. . . .even dolls need change. . . .so they’re not too sturdy. . . .hope they don’t come apart too soon. You’ll have to apologize to Masahiro for us. . . .it’s such a terrific set. . . .today, they’re either cardboard or incomplete-looking.
Hope you’re all well in spite of the current epidemic. 3 of us got hit. . . .
Write and tell us how everything is, if you’re not too busy. . . .
September 23, 1944
Dear Sono Chan,
I meant to write as soon as Michi came. In fact, I wanted to write before, but at the time I was just coming down with whatever that’s still bothering me. Anyway, however late, congratulations on Michi’s arrival and more power and luck to her through “growing-up-hood.” (This is a whisper—I’d hoped Masahiro would get a baby brother.) But it’s really nice to have a nice set of girls. . . .they’ll be invaluable some day. . . . (I know so much…[?!?])
I guess you must be too busy to do anything but care for the kids. But I’m glad they’re such healthy, sturdy kids. How you all must have suffered the heat. And now it’s getting cooler or is it mild in Poston in winter? Now that I don’t have it, (good health), it makes me mad to see people nice and strong and exploding with energy. Marian’s getting sturdier (or is it more ‘curvy’) and firmer by the day which doesn’t exactly encourage me. Bony as I was, now I’m really all angles.
It’s so quiet now. . . I’m alone at home. It’s this way every week-end. And I enjoy a few hours peace. The rest all go to a show or something. Do you ever get to go? It makes me wonder, with all you have on your hands.
Did the folks ever tell you about the message from Japan? None from Numazu, tho. They had just gotten the news of Starr. They all wonder how we all are. One message asked if the family were in one location. They must worry, the folks being enemy aliens.
Please write if you ever have time and tell me about the little ones. I need diversion pretty badly and altho’ mail is one of the best (or I look forward to most) I don’t keep it (answers) up to date so it suffers. (my correspondence.)
Tell the children ‘hello’ but I bet they don’t remember. . . . Take care of yourselves—
April 13, 1945
Dear Sono Chan,
I’m finally pulling up stake here so just a few lines before I leave. (I don’t know when I’ll ever write again, so– ) Never did I dream that I’d ever leave on anything but my own 2 feet. We’re being transferred to Hillcrest by ambulance—and what an ambulance! One of those Army things & they’re crowding 4 of us (lying down, of course) in it. We’ll be like canned sardines.
Thank you for the cards at Valentine’s. That was very thoughtful & sweet.
The family went back to Sierra Madre Mar. 13th. Marian is staying until summer to finish school, because she’ll be graduating. I hope you are all well. Gee, even Michi will be a year old pretty soon, won’t she? And the rest must be really grown. If you ever take a picture of them, save one for me, won’t you? I don’t suppose they’d remember me, but tell them hello for me. Sincerely, Alice