The Geography of Friends and Family

My sisters and brother-in-law just finished a visit to North Carolina, so I have been thinking about a recent post on Scatterplot about “the geography of friends.” The post highlights an analysis of friendship links on Facebook from the New York Times.

The article cites existing research as showing: “The typical American lives just 18 miles from his or her mother. The typical student enrolls in college less than 15 miles from home.”

Although this is true for my sisters, who live less than 3 miles from each other and our parents in our hometown in California, I could not live much further from home. I live over 2,300 miles as the crow flies, and over 2,700 miles driving distance. Although I graduated from UC-Berkeley (30 miles from home),  I began college 2,500 miles away in Washington, DC at The American University. I haven’t lived in California since I graduated from college in 1991, and having raised kids and married a woman from North Carolina, the odds of moving back are slim.

I would think that the social networks of California Facebook users would be broader than North Carolinians, but the data show otherwise. The interactive map in the NY Times story shows that the county I grew up in is not very different from the county I currently live in. In San Mateo County, California, 54% of Facebook connections live within 50 miles of each other and 59% within 100 miles. In Forsyth County, North Carolina, those percentages are 54% and 65%. Nationally, the average is 63% within 100 miles.

Even in the world of online social networks, most people know people close to them. And people who live and work far from home are outliers.

Merging My New Year’s Resolutions with My “To Do” List

I know people have differing views of the value of New Year’s Resolutions, but I always do them. They give me a moment to reflect on the previous year’s aspirations, successes, and failures, and to articulate some new (or, often, continuing) aspirations for the coming year.

One problem, though, is that I don’t often revisit my resolutions. They are the front page on my bullet journal, but I only occasionally remember to look at that page through the year.

So, when I saw an advertisement for Personalized Paper Manufacturing Group, I got an idea. I could make custom “To Do” list notepads that begin with some of my New Year’s Resolutions, then have extra lines for me to write in other things I need to do that day.

I bought 8 pads with 50 sheets each for $32 including shipping. At $4 per pad that is more expensive than using scrap paper, but less expensive than some of the fine stationary to do list pads I like to use.

I am big into to do lists, so I’m excited to see if this tool will help me do better with my resolutions for 2018.

Verizon Wireless’s Fool-Proof Plan for Losing a Customer

Final Update: Somehow “Brandon” in the corporate office got my blog post yesterday. He apologized on behalf of Verizon and said he would call financial services on my behalf to get me taken off “cash only” status. Thus resolves my 2 month issue. As compensation for my trouble, Verizon waived the remaining $240 I owed on my account.

Original Post with Updates

I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for as long as I have had a cell phone, which is around 2004 IIRC. Never missed a payment, always upgrade my phone, currently have 6 lines on my account. I’ve generally had good customer service, but a recent experience with getting new phones for myself and my wife has definitely spoiled me on the company.

I am not the only person who has blogged about this. See the source of this graphic, Peter Kreutzer’s The Spectacular Awfulness of Verizon Customer Service at http://www.peterkreutzer.com/blog/?p=703

 

The Short Version

The long version of the story, with supporting documents, is below. The short version of the story is that in April on release day my wife and I each bought Samsung Galaxy S8 phones to replace our old Note 4s. When they arrived on 4/21, we immediately realized that the screen was too small. Taking advantage of the “Try it worry-free with our 30-Day Return Policy” (see screen cap below), we decided to exchange our S8s for the larger S8+.

Screen cap of Verizon web page, April 24, 2017

Because we bought the phones on-line and were on the road when we wanted to process the exchange, we were not able to just walk into a Verizon store and exchange the phones. (For future reference: Do this.) I sought advice from Verizon chat who advised me to call customer care to help me exchange the phones.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

No problem. Received the new phones, packaged up the unwanted phones using return address labels provided by Verizon. Shipped those May 1st and received emails from Verizon confirming they were received on May 10th and 11th.

By May 30th I had not received a refund so I chatted with and called Verizon customer service again. After half an hour on the phone, the CS rep acknowledged Verizon mistake and said he would put in for the refund. Three weeks later on June 21st, still no refund so I call Verizon customer service again. This time I am almost 2 hours on the phone with 2 different people but “Katie” assures me that she is going to handle the situation.

When Katie did not follow through on her promise six days later, I contested the charges with American Express who on June 29th credited me back the $1,224 plus interest. Verizon promptly charged the $1,224 back to my Verizon account. On July 1st, after receiving a threatening text message from Verizon, so during my vacation while in the middle of the desert in Arizona I called Verizon. After over an hour on the phone, this time “Judy” assured me that the credit would be applied that day (though it would take 5 days to process).

Again thinking the situation was resolved I was surprised to receive yet another threatening text message today and to find that my Verizon account STILL had a $1,224 past due balance. Another hour on the phone with Verizon customer service and this time “Ken” assured me he was going to take care of it.

While on hold with Ken, I started chatting with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter. In the time that it took Ken to promise that he would try to get the credit, the Twitter CS people actually applied a credit to my account today, clearing the past due balance.

Which raises the question, Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And, furthermore, What compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closed our chat, an automated message popped up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding because of it.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, but before I published it, “Andrea” from Verizon social media customer service contacted me, in response to the negative response I gave to the “How are we doing?” survey at the end of my chat with @VZWSupport. She expressed concern about my poor experience and wanted to let me know that Verizon was very sorry. She noted that I asked what compensation I would receive for all of the time, energy, and worry I put into getting the situation resolved. She asked if I would be willing to accept an account credit of $110 — the portion of the $350 I pay monthly to Verizon that covers my unlimited data plan — as compensation. I accepted the account credit, but also let her know that the experience seriously damaged my relationship with Verizon and that I would be exploring my wireless options going forward.

UPDATE 2: Since I spoke with Andrea I went on line to try to schedule a payment for my regular balance due minus the $110 credit Andrea arranged. I find the “alert” below: Not eligible to make online payments. Must pay in cash at Verizon store or mail money order or certified check. LOLOLOLOL. Spent 6 weeks trying to get money back from Verizon now trying to pay my bill and denied. Can’t win.

UPDATE 3: According to @VZWSupport (on Twitter), because I have been put on a cash only basis due to Verizon trying to screw me out of $1,224 for phones I returned in May, *I* have to take *MY* time out to call Financial Services. The nightmare continues.

The Long Version (With Documentation)

4/20/17: Ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 phones from verizon.com website

4/21/17: Phones delivered to Half Moon Bay, California

4/24/17: Decided S8 phones too small, wanted to exchange for S8+. Chatted with Verizon customer service, then called customer service as advised by chat agent.

Customer care advised me that in order to exchange the phones rather than return them, the easiest thing to do would be to buy out the amount of the cost of the phones remaining ($612/each) and then buy the new phones on the regular Verizon financing plan. Then when the phones being returned were received, I would get credited for the $612/each paid.

4/24/17: Ordered new phones and requested they be delivered to Verizon store in Rome, Georgia where we were traveling.

4/28/17: Picked up Galaxy S8+ phone from Verizon store, activated them, and put S8 phones into same boxes and returned using return address labels provided by Verizon.

5/1/17: Mailed S8 phones back to Verizon (confirmed by email below).

5/10/17: 9 days later, the first of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it was not credited.

5/11/17: 10 days later, the second of the two S8 phones were received by Verizon and note on screen cap below: ACCOUNT CREDITED. Actually, it too was not credited.

So at this point in the story, I have two charges for $612 on my American Express card for phones I returned to Verizon as instructed by Verizon, and which Verizon received back into inventory.

5/30/17: A month after mailing the S8 phones back to Verizon, and over two weeks after Verizon acknowledged receiving the phones, I still had not received a credit to my credit card (or to my Verizon account). So, I entered into another chat with Verizon customer service (screen cap below).

Again the chat agent could not help me and advised I call the Financial Team, which I did.

5/30/17: Spoke to Verizon Customer Service representative on phone for half an hour, explaining what happened. At end of phone conversation he said it was clearly a mistake to follow the advice given to me to pay off the phone and then return it, but that because I was given bad advice by Verizon, the request that he was filing advising I be refunded $1,224 would be no problem.

6/21/17: Three weeks later, still no refund to my credit card or my Verizon account (despite the fact that the charge is on my American Express card accruing interest at 16% APR). I call Verizon Customer Service again. I explain the situation to another representative, who does a partial investigation and then suggests that I might be able to get the $1,224 credited to my Verizon account, which I could then use to pay my wireless bill over the next 3 months. I flatly rejected this suggestion, since it would mean basically loaning money that Verizon owed me back to Verizon. At this point she puts me on hold to connect me to a supervisor. After nearly an hour on the phone, my call is disconnected.

As is evident in the screen cap above, I call back immediately and this time ask to be immediately escalated to the next level of customer service. I am connected with Katie. I explain to Katie everything that happened with my first two phone calls, and that I would not accept anything other than a credit back to my American Express. Katie says that the notes the CS rep put in the system on 5/30 were not clear and so I walk her again step by step through the problem. Katie assures me that she will see my problem through to its conclusion and will continue to stay in touch with me until it is resolved. After nearly an hour on the phone (102 minutes total for 6/21/17), Katie says that the fault was Verizon’s and that she would be able to file a request for a refund that would be processed.

I receive an email confirmation that the payment is being investigated (below) and I also speak again with Katie later that day for another 7 minutes so she can confirm my credit card information so that she can make sure the right account gets credited (above).

Before the end of our first phone conversation, I tell Katie that I either would have a refund to my credit card by the end of the week or I would be contesting the charges with American Express.

6/23/17: Over six weeks since Verizon received the second of the two S8 phones I returned, I get a text message from Katie two days after our phone conversation informing me that she is still working on the refund.

6/27/17: The following Tuesday — 6 days after I spoke with Katie who said she would resolve my problem — I finally disputed the charges for both phones with American Express.

6/29/17: Still no refund from Verizon and no word from Katie, 8 days after my conversation with her in which she assured me she would handle the situation. American Express also does not hear back from Verizon concerning the disputed charges and refunds the $612 x 2 as well as the accrued interest to my card. Customer service at American Express could not be any different than at Verizon.

7/1/17: While I am on vacation in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, I receive a message from Verizon stating that I need to make a payment to “avoid interruption and a reconnection fee per line.” I take time out of my lunch to call Verizon. This time I speak to Judy, for over an hour (see below). She once again reviews my entire case file and I once again explain the entire situation to her. She insists that she does not want to get off the phone until the matter is entirely resolved, and I say that is a good thing because I am out in the middle of BFE Arizona and if I cannot use my phone I could be in big trouble.

After an hour of sitting in my car in 100 degree Arizona desert temperatures, my phone conversation with Judy ends as follows (transcription of phone call):

David: Yes

Judy from Verizon: OK, we are taking care of this. The credit will be going through. And I’m contacting financial services today on your behalf to tell them not to turn off your services because we are processing a credit for the $1,224 today.

D: That’s going back to my Verizon account not my American Express card right?

J: No, it’s going to clear your Verizon account out here. Correct.

D: OK. And the whole matter will be settled then, there’ll be no problems?

J: Yes, it’s going to be cleared up today. Everything’s going to be applied today. And we’ll get it taken care of, and then I’m going to call financial services on your behalf to let them know not to turn the services off, and that we have a credit that is being applied to the $1,224 to clear that out.

D: Well, that’s very good news. I appreciate your help with that. I wish I would have talked to you the first time.

J: And I do apologize for this having to take so long and for you having to repeat it so many times. It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out. I just need to get to financial services to let them know it is going to take about 5 days so that way they’ll be able to see the credit sitting in there just waiting to be applied to the account.

D: OK, just as long as I don’t lose my service. I could die in the desert if I do.

J: No you are absolutely not going to lose your services. I am going to take care of that call just as soon as I get off the phone with you, OK?

D: OK, thank you very much and GOD BLESS YOU.

J: And thank you as well, and you go and enjoy your vacation. We have the rest of this taken care of on our end. Once and for all.

D: OK, thanks Judy.

This conversation took place two weeks ago.

7/14/17: Two weeks after Judy assures me “It is going to take about 5 days for us to process on our end, but you can know that it is going to be cleared out,” I receive the following text message from Verizon again telling me to pay my bill or have my service interrupted and pay a reconnection fee.

I check my account and sure enough, plain as day, it shows that I STILL have a past due balance in the disputed amount of $1,224. All of Judy’s sincere assurances were as meaningful as all of Katie’s. At this point I am 6 weeks, 4 phone calls, and nearly 4 hours into an ordeal of trying to get credit back to my credit card (and now to my Verizon account) money that should have been credited back to me in mid-May.

I call Verizon customer service again and tell the agent that I had already spoken to 5 different people and that I did not want to speak to her and please connect me to her supervisor. After being on hold for 6 minutes, I remembered the earlier call that I was on hold waiting for a supervisor for 30 minutes only to get disconnected. So I hung up and this time spoke to customer service representative Ken, explaining my situation and frustration that each customer service interaction was like the first, despite the fact that both Katie and Judy insisted that they were taking copious notes in my record so that it would be perfectly clear what was going on.

After a brief investigation, Ken puts me on hold for 30 minutes. During this time I struck up a chat with Verizon CS on Twitter to pass the time being on hold with Ken (which amount to nearly an hour total time again when combined with my initial 7 minutes on hold).

After having me on hold for 30 minutes, Ken comes back on the line to let me know, “You’re in luck.” When I (not politely) let him know that I didn’t think 4.5 hours on the phone over 6 weeks made me lucky, he punitively put me back on hold. 5 minutes later he came back on the line to tell me that a credit would be issued to my account for $1,224 but that it was too late for that to show up on this billing cycle so he would call the financial people to ask them to put my account on a 2 week hold so I could not have my service interrupted.

So, basically telling me — like Katie and Judy did — to trust him to get the credit processed at some unspecified time. I told Ken I had been told this three times before and what should I do if what he promises will happen doesn’t happen? He had no good response other than it wasn’t going to happen this time. As President George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

While Ken was doing all this, my chat with Verizon Wireless CS on Twitter was ongoing. The text of the entire chat appears below. In the end, one of the Twitter customer service representatives, TAB, said that a credit would be applied to my account in 24 to 48 hours. When I asked for a phone number to call if this didn’t happen, another rep (RD) jumped in to say that the credit had been applied immediately.

I did as RD suggested and called #BAL and found the $1,224 credit issued. Which raises the question: Why did it take 2 months from the time they received the phones (mid-May), and 6 weeks from my first phone call (May 30), and 5 different phone calls plus a chat (plus two contested charges with American Express) totaling over 5 hours of my time invested to get the money back from Verizon that was due to me?

And what compensation do I get from Verizon for all of the time, energy, and worry involved in trying to get this resolved? Nothing, as RD makes clear in his final Twitter chat message to me.

And humorously enough, when RD closes our chat, an automated message pops up from Verizon asking “How are we doing?” Well, if you’ve read to this point, you know the answer: You are doing terrible. And you have lost a good customer of longstanding.

 

 

 

Pilgrimages to Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps and Isolation Centers

This page collects all of my previous posts about the interment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and provides a home for my (hopefully) growing list of pilgrimages to the sites of internment camps and isolation centers.

Previous Posts

 

Pilgrimages to Sites

Recently, I have made an effort to visit the sites of the internment camps and isolation centers when the opportunities present themselves. As of July 2017, I have visited one camp and two isolation centers, which are linked below.

 

Internment Camps

Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona

Granada War Relocation Center, Colorado (AKA “Amache”)

Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming

Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Manzanar War Relocation Center, California

Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho

Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona

Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah

Tule Lake War Relocation Center, California

 

Citizen Isolation Centers (for those considered to be problem inmates)

Moab, Utah (AKA Dalton Wells)

Leupp, Arizona (see directions to the site here)

Fort Stanton, New Mexico (AKA Old Raton Ranch)

 

Justice Department Detention Camps (housed Nikkei considered to be disruptive or of special interest to the government)

Crystal City, Texas

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp

Fort Missoula, Montana

Fort Stanton, New Mexico

Kenedy, Texas

Kooskia, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seagoville, Texas

Forest Park, Georgia

 

 

Directions to Leupp Isolation Center (World War II Japanese-American Detention) Site

As noted in my previous post, there is no official historical marker for the Leupp Isolation Center for Japanese-American detainees during World War II. Nor is the location marked on Google Maps (though I submitted a request that Google add a marker).

For anyone wanting to go see the site, here are the directions I used. Please be mindful that a family does currently live in the Superintendent’s House and locals do use the roads.

The site is in the area known as Old Leupp, which lies southeast of the current town of Leupp. I began at the gas station (Pic-N-Run) at the center of Leupp and proceeded as follows (3.6 miles total):

  1. From the gas station in the new town of Leupp, travel east on Indian Route 15/Leupp Road for 1.9 miles to Old Leupp Road
  2. Turn right (South) on Old Leupp Road
  3. Continue 1.7 miles on Old Leupp Road past Indian Road 6933 to arrive at the old Superintendents House (on map above).

Indian Route 15/Leupp Road is a paved highway, but Old Leupp Road is a graded dirt road with lots of washboarding, so take your time.

Old Leupp Road toward Leupp Isolation Center site, July 1, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The best way to orient yourself is using the Superintendent’s House and the Presbyterian Church. They are easy to find if you match up this Google Map satellite image of the area with the drawing of the site provided below:

Drawing of site from online book Confinement and Ethnicity:

 

 

Pilgrimage to Leupp Isolation Center, Arizona

On April 27, 1943, Harry Ueno and other inmates at the Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells in Utah were moved to an abandoned Indian boarding school on the Navaho Trival Land in Leupp, Arizona. Ueno and four others were “forced to make the 11-hour trip confined in a four by six foot box on the back of a flat-bed truck,” according to the Confinement and Ethnicity. The book continues, “The prison atmosphere at Leupp was enforced by four guard towers, a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire, and the 150 military police who outnumbered the inmates by more than 2 to 1.”

Inmates at Old Leupp isolation camp outside the old boarding school, 1943.

Leupp isolation center was open slightly longer than Moab, from 27 April 1943 until 2 December 1943. It housed over 70 inmates at its peak, when the detainees from Moab were joined by inmates from Tule Lake (California) and Topaz (Utah). When it closed, the 71 remaining inmates were transferred to the incarceration center within the Tule Lake Internment Camp in far Northern California.

Claudia Katayanagi has recently completed a documentary called “A Bitter Legacy” about the internment which has a considerable focus on the Leupp isolation center.

The fact that my wife and I drove through the Navajo Nation Reservation and the Hopi Reservation from the north to get to Leupp was not lost on us. Leupp is on Navajo land and the connection between Japanese-American detainees and members of the Navajo Nation has been observed by others.

There are no permanent or temporary markers identifying the site of the Leupp Isolation Center and only a few buildings, like the Superintendent’s House and Presbyterian Church, remain. Using the map provided in the National Park Service book Confinement and Ethnicity (reproduced below) we were able to find the site by orienting ourselves to Indian Route 6932 running north/south and the levee to the east.

 

In reflecting on the experience recently and looking at Google maps of the area, it dawned on me that there is no river to the EAST of the levee. The isolation center is to the WEST of the levee, and WEST of the isolation center is the Little Colorado River. So, the isolation center clearly lies in a flood plain, and it turns out that is one reason the original Indian boarding school was closed.

Other than the few buildings that remain standing, walking the site is basically an exercise in imagination to envision what once stood in these ruins. Even a marker like the windmill and tank that was photographed as late as 2008 no longer exists:

Remains of the windmill and tank, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The Old Leupp Trading Post, which once sat on Old Route 66, then and now:

 

Remains of Old Leupp Trading Post, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The parts of the site that were actually used to house the inmates — I am guess this is the area marked as “boarding school” on the map near the watertower — have been cleared so that little evidence of its existence can be found.

Historic picture of Leupp Isolation Center building and water tower from http://www.rafu.com/2017/01/film-focuses-on-little-known-wwii-camps/

We were able to identify the foundations for the teachers’ residences and dining hall near the windmill.

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

***

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

***

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Some parts of the site are only vaguely marked on the map, like this sidewalk leading to the area marked as “posts”:

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

***

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

***

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

***

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Although it’s not clear whether the nurses’ residence behind the Superintendent’s house was used for the Luepp isolation center, the remains give a distinctive feeling for the condition of the site.

Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The view from the remains of the nurses’ residence conveys a sense of what the inmates would have seen during their time at Leupp isolation center.

View from Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Pilgrimage to Dalton Wells Isolation Center, Moab, Utah

The resistance to the unjust authority felt by Japanese-American citizens who were forcible evacuated from their homes and imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II went beyond the organized efforts against the loyalty questionnaire I discussed in an earlier post. And the resistance was not without consequence.

One of the best known detainees at Manzanar was Harry Ueno, the “Manzanar Martyr.” As head of the Manzanar Kitchen Workers Union, he was identified as a “troublemarker” for helping bring to light the theft and sale of inmate supplies like sugar by Manzanar authorities. Later arrested and at the center of the “Manzanar riot,” Ueno and 15 others were taken from the internment camp and moved to an “isolation center” near Moab, Utah.

The Dalton Wells isolation center was the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corp camp some 13 miles north of Moab. Lying hundreds of miles from any major city at 38.5667 lat and -109.5333 lng, it was “the American equivalent of Siberia.”

The Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells was only open from 11 January 1943 until 27 April 1943 and housed at its peak just 49 Nisei and Kibei “troublemakers” like Harry Ueno.

On a trip through the National Parks of Utah, my wife and I made the (short) pilgrimage from Canyonlands National Park near Moab to Dalton Wells. There we found little evidence of the existence of the Moab Isolation Center beyond the marker placed there.

Marker at Moab Isolation Center, Dalton Wells. Photo by David Yamane

The previously mentioned National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, provides a drawing of the site as it existed in 1943.

From National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, available at https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/anthropology74/ce14a.htm

My wife and I found some concrete remnants marking the entrance drive, a few concrete slabs, and some stray posts. Like many former internment and isolation camps, nothing has been built at this site to replace what was once there. There was a reason these places were used as prisons.

The sense of desolation at the site today no doubt pales in comparison to what the inmates must have felt when they arrived and during their short stay.

***

***

***

Pilgrimage to Manzanar Internment Camp

For my wife’s birthday last November, we traveled to California to visit family and tour some of the national parks in Southern California. After visiting Joshua Tree National Park, we headed north to Death Valley. Not exactly between Death Valley and Pinnacles National Parks, but not too far out of the way, is the site of the Manzanar internment camp.

For reasons outlined in posts on my discovery of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and its history, we made the pilgrimage to Manzanar.

The first internment camp to receive detainees, Manzanar was opened on 21 March 1942 and remained open for over three years, closing on 21 November 1945. It’s peak population was 10,046, housing prisoners from Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, and San Joaquin County in California, and Washington’s Bainbridge Island. In the shadow of Mt. Whitney’s 14,500 foot peak, Manzanar is 200 miles from Los Angeles, but felt like 1,000 miles from nowhere when I visited.

Manzanar is also one of the best-known and best-documented of the 10 permanent internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. It drew the attention of photographers like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, among others.

“Street scene in winter, photographer Ansel Adams, 1943, Manzanar concentration camp, California.,” Densho Encyclopedia http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i93-00023-1/.

It has been a California Historical Landmark since 1972, and was designated a National Historic Site when President George H.W. Bush signed H.R. 543 into law in March 1992.

The National Park Service runs the site, which includes a replica of one of the watchtowers, a visitor center in the restored Manzanar High School Auditorium (including exhibits, gift shop, movie theater), reconstructed barracks, the archeologically excavated “Pleasure Park,” and the iconic monument at Manzanar cemetery.

It is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in this and related aspects of our nation’s history. For those who can’t make it, following are some photos that may give a feel for the place.

Sign at the gate of Manzanar War Relocation Center. Photo by David Yamane

Replica of one of the guard towers positioned at the perimeter of the internment camp. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit superimposing names of detainees at Manzanar on photo of the camp. Photo by David Yamane

20 detainees named “Yamane” among the 10,000+. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit listing names of individuals who entered the U.S. Army from Manzanar internment camp and/or had immediate family interned at Manzanar while they served in the U.S. military. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit of reconstructed barracks. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit showing condition of barracks upon initial arrival in 1942. Photo by David Yamane

View from window of barracks exhibit. Photo by David Yamane

“Pleasure Park” marker. Photo by David Yamane

Excavated bridge and ponds in Pleasure Park. Photo by David Yamane

“Turtle Rock” at Pleasure Park. Photo by David Yamane

“Soul Consoling Tower” (Kanji inscription) monument at Manzanar cemetery, just outside the barbed wire fence of the internment camp. Photo by David Yamane

Chains of origami cranes left at Manzanar cemetery monument. Photo by David Yamane

150 people died while interned at Manzanar. 15 were laid to rest in the Manzanar cemetery, and 6 remain including “Baby Jerry.” Photo by David Yamane

Discovering Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps

I don’t know when I first became aware of the forced removal and internment of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of the United States during World War II. But I remember learning alot more about it for a paper I wrote back in 1989 when I was an undergrad at UC-Berkeley.

The Bancroft Library at Berkeley is a repository for a large number of primary documents that are part of what used to be called the Barnhart Catalog of Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Documents. I will never forget sitting in the library going through box after box of letters, memos, diaries, essays, speeches, high school newspapers, and other ephemera of people living their everyday lives under extraordinary circumstances. I was transported back to a time I hardly knew existed in the United States.

Screen cap of http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/jais/. The materials I examined were from the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) and the War Relocation Authority (WRA). JERS was conducted by social scientists from UC-Berkeley from the time of the early evacuation until after the closing of the last relocation center.

My paternal grandparents were Nisei, second generation Japanese-Americans, born in Hawaii. So my father is Sansei, also born and raised in Hawaii. He was 11 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Because there was such a large population, there was no mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii at the time. So none of my immediate family were interned.

But thanks to the National Archives’ Database of Japanese American Evacuees, I was able to search for last name “Yamane” among the 109,384 evacuees listed. The search yields 179 results, including some from the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was raised.

To produce the screen cap above, I added the search term “Tanforan.” When I was growing up in the Bay Area in the 1970s and 80s, Tanforan was a shopping center in the city of San Bruno. Before that, however, it was a horse race track. And, as I came to learn in my studies, it was used as an “assembly center” — a temporary jail pending the construction of the permanent internment camps.

“View of barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center, California, June 16, 1942.,” Densho Encyclopedia http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i151-00344-1/.

Even though I learned alot about the internment through my class paper, I still had alot to learn. In the summer of 1991, I worked with my father or a few weeks in Wyoming, around Worland. I remember driving along one of Wyoming’s many sparsely populated highways one day, seeing a mailbox, and noticing the name on the mailbox was Japanese. It wasn’t until we passed 2 or 3 more such mailboxes that I made the connection to the Heart Mountain Internment Camp, which was outside of Cody, Wyoming.

“Young girl near guard tower, May 31, 1944, Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming.,” Densho Encyclopedia http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-ddr-hmwf-1-15-1/.

Obviously the reality of these camps is an important part of American history, but I also think of them as part of my personal history. It is only because they lived in Hawaii rather than California that my father and his family were not rounded up and imprisoned.

In addition to posting more about the history of the internment, I am also going to create a landing page and individual entries for the camps and centers that I have already visited and will visit in the future. Stay tuned.

 

President Donald J. Trump – 10 Initial Gut Reactions and Reflections

I do not follow politics closely anymore, so I am not well-placed to comment on the recent election as anything other than a regular, half-awake citizen. So instead of thoughtful, informed commentary on the political future ahead, I am offering my initial gut reactions and reflections on the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States (some of which are basically what I was Tweeting in the wee hours of the morning).

wp-1478703772824.png

  1. It was very interesting to see all of the Hilary bashing on my gun Twitter feed (@gunculture2pt0) and comparatively little pro Trump sentiment. Celebrating someone’s loss rather than someone’s win doesn’t make it feel like much of a win for the country.
  2. Among those who were commenting on Trump’s win rather than Clinton’s loss, I found it funny (odd, not ha-ha) to see people thanking and praising Trump for doing things he hasn’t done yet. E.g., “Thank you for making America great again.” I can see expressions of hope, but Trump is all promises at this point.
  3. Olive branches and unifying language in Trump acceptance speech. He continues to surprise.
  4. When he just reads the teleprompter he sounds presidential. Can he keep it up?
  5. My hope is that “Trump,” the character he plays for the cameras, will become Donald J. Trump, President of the United States now. That is, I hope that the office of the president will mold him into someone who can lead a diverse and complex society in an uncertain world.
  6. My guess is Trump is essentially a pragmatist not an ideologue, and that those who think this is some sort of ideological revolution will be disappointed.
  7. Relating to #6, I just uncovered two books I read as an undergrad back in 1986-1987, both of which highlight the possibility and difficulty of leading political revolutions.

wp-1478702641432.jpg

  1. For all the “drain the swamp” and “reset” rhetoric, almost all incumbents in U.S. Senate and House races were re-elected. (Related: I was shocked by the number of local races on my ballot that were uncontested.)
  2. I find the gloating by Trump supporters this morning excessive, considering that he seems to have lost the popular vote. As Gil Scott Heron once said, mandate my ass.
  3. I hope this means Trump will upgrade his wardrobe from those ugly, ill-fitting (Chinese-made Trump brand?) suits. If those suits are in fact custom tailored, I have just two words for his tailor: “You’re fired!”

donald-trump-suit