14 Aug
Gila News-Courier 1942-1943

Posted by Kenneth Helphand in the Japanese - American Gardens archive

The following articles appeared in the camp newspaper, Gila News-Courier in Arizona.

September 12, 1942 Improvements

Despite numerous handicaps, the ingenious residents of the Gila Relocation Center are already constructing clever additions to aid in brightening their new “homes”.
Picturesque rock gardens, as the one depicted in the above illustration, at the home of Y. Tomita, 56-3-C, are gradually being made. Potted plants and bits of desert cactus are being employed to give our barracks a “homey” touch.
Let’s see more of these artistic touches to make this camp an enjoyable place in which to live.

September 23, 1942 Fryer’s Statement: Residents Urged to Beautify City

“We all want Rivers to be a beautiful city—a city reflecting the personal pride of those who have their homes here and who want this community to blend with the natural beauty of its surroundings. We can achieve this almost without cost by simply working together.
“I am asking all administrative heads concerned to give special attention to the policing of grounds and the disposal of waste. As rapidly as the construction program permits, we will have open ditches filled in and other improvements made.
“To all of you who live here, I want to give special encouragement in the transplanting of native shrubs and plants around your homes and in the creation of small rock gardens. Many of you brought plants and seeds with you which can also be used. Until irrigation water becomes available, it will be necessary, of course, to plan improvement requiring a small amount of water.
“I shall watch this program for the improvement of grounds and the beautification of homes with special interest. Later, I hope we can find some way to give special recognition to whose [sic] whose creations are outstanding.”

September 26, 1942 Colony Beautification

It is well that in one of the first statements issued by his office Mr. E.R. Fryer, acting project director, paid particular attention to colony beautification.
The people here are under social handicaps they have never faced before. Being housed in barrack structures, 10,000 persons in the extremely limited areas, and living a life which makes a colony of 10,000, in effect, one family is hardly ideal. There is, as a result, just a semblance of normal family life; people are getting careless about their personal habits; social niceties are being neglected; and the desire to accomplish and create are [sic] on the wane.
It is evident that people living under the physical drawbacks of the centers need the stimulation of environmental order and beauty to help them in the difficulties they are encountering.
But the people alone cannot accomplish this costly and time-taking task. They will need active assistance financially and morally.
From the reactions to the statement it is clear that the people, if they can be furnished with seeds, saplings, and other materials needed in addition to what they themselves can supply, will soon justify Mr. Fryer’s faith in them.
The immediate and the long view morale building effect of the program will be of inestimable, though intangible, value.

October 17, 1942 Tree Planting Discouraged Now; November Better, Says Nichols

“Interest in the work and planning are two essentials which produce results in any field of work, and the spirit that people have shown in beautifying the project is gratifying indeed,” stated Ellsworth Nichols, landscape engineer.
Nichols and his staff of nurserymen, however, discourage the planting of trees at present because the chances for their survival are slim. Even though they may live, the trees will not be as healthy as they will be if planted in late November, December and the early part of the year.
The general landscape planning for the colony is being done by Roy Marubayashi under the supervision of Nichols. Marubayashi is making separate plans for every block. Such plans will be designed to fit in with the beautification work already being done by individuals. At present, there are approximately forty men employed under the landscape engineer.

November 11, 1942 Ingenuity Marks Miniature Landscape Creation

The abode at 56-10-D is surrounded by one of the most exotic miniature landscapes found in Butte. Taking his own background and transmission into 5 different worlds, Sam Fukuda, 44, has capsuled the settings of Miyajima, Japan; San Francisco; and lastly of Gila colony. It features a fish-pond filled with Canal caught carps, catfish, and “medaka”; and at night 2 Japanese rock lanterns glamorously illuminate all the walled-in collections of petrified rocks and cactus. Fukuda, who was formerly a landscape gardener in San Francisco, explained, “It took me 6 weeks for gathering the materials and ideas to complete it, not saying the amount of elbow grease I put into it. And having used only the natural resources of Gila, 34.35 was about all I spent for the cement and grass seeds.”

December 19, 1942 Flowers, Shrubs, Lawns Beautify School Area

Canal school grounds are improving rapidly through beautification plans which are being carried out very efficiently by foreman Harry Ikeo and his crew of 25 men, and the surveyors, Stanley Marubayashi and Mas Kobata, under the supervision of E.C. Hendrix, assistant superintendent of the Grounds Dept.
[…] A.R. Hutchinson announced the appointment of five custodians to care for the upkeep of the grounds; namely, Toshiko Matsudo, Harry Tanaka, Mikichi Matsumoto, Yoichi Heyano and Saburo Owata.

January 21, 1943 Trees Imported to Gila Colony

Citrus, palm, Italian cypress and arba-vita trees were few of the variety of arbors brought into the Gila Center from Mesa last week by members of the Canal and Butte Ground Dept. accompanied by E.W. Nichols and E.C. Hendrix, the superintendent and assistant of the department respectively.
The citrus trees are now planted in all the blocks of both communities and around the hospitals. Italian cypress trees are being planted around the administration building since there are not enough for the entire community.

February 28, 1943 Spring’s Triumph Gives Man Hope…

In the desert areas of southern Arizona no marked winter season is observable. There is only the gradual shortening of days and the increasing of cold nights. The days and days of continuous sunshine from morning until evening are probably unimaginable to residents of northern state who are snowed in for weeks and experience below zero weather during this same season. Even in California, where most of us evacuees came from, the winter meant many days of rain and overcast skies.
[…] A sorrowful change has come across the face of the cold earth since we welcomed spring in the past to a peaceful America. Today the entire world is torn with suffering and grief. Millions of the young and innocent have fallen on shell ravaged fields; millions more have been maimed for life.
Yet in spite of all the misery and mourning man has wrought upon the world, the season of spring comes forth as hpefully [sic] as ever with brighter days and new growths to replace the past year’s ruin. And the inevitable triumph of spring gives man new hope in the victory of peace and humane virtues over the nether forces of the gods of war.

September 13, 1943 Arizona was Tough Country

They had heard Arizona was hotter than the devil. They had heard dust storms were thick as fog. Gila River was going to be tough and they were prepared.
But to even the pioneering 510 that left Turlock prepared to step into a baked sageland, Gila River of July 20, 1942, was a little tougher than they expected. White-walled, red-roofed barracks squatted in rows like so many baked huts already cooked. The dusty grounds were marked by pipeline burrows and ditched. And as far as eye could see stretched the withered sageland, broken by jutting buttes here and there. They shouldn’t have, but many remembered the homes they had left in California.
Through dust and wind they worked, carrying their luggage, stumbling over ditches, sinking into dust. They cooked and ate, drank water from wooden barrels, set up cots in empty barracks. The wind that blew was a lonely gale that swept by as if nothing mattered. The first 500 Gilans felt far away and ignored by civilization. Without showers they prepared for sleep that night. With the sweat they wiped from their faces must have gone a tear or two, though most wouldn’t admit.
Every day they experienced the inconveniences of showerless, lavatoryless, shadeless living. The only thing they thought was convenient, the cracks in the floor through which they could sweep dust, backfired when storms swept dust back in.
But with oriental patience and stoicism they set to work, so that those who were to come later wouldn’t suffer the same inconveniences. Then more evacuees came. Competition was rife as neighbors tried to out-do neighbors, and blocks competed against blocks. Residents yelled for better facilities. Water lines were finished. Electricity reached every corner. Hot showers came in. Lawns sprouted, trees grew, and residents were soothed.

24 Jul
Topaz Times 1942 - 1943

Posted by admin in the Japanese - American Gardens archive

The following articles that appeared in the camp newspaper, The Topaz Times in Utah.


September 17, 1942

Topaz is more than just an engineering marvel. It is more than just an isolated settlement for evacuees. It is the sum total of dreams, deep thinking, courage, and faith—it is a living personality. Topaz is born of the great Mother America.
We are again the pioneers, blazing the road into the wilderness of our social frontiers. Not that we alone march, but that we follow the ever guiding pillar of the divine wisdom and light—it is our strength.
When the first contingent arrived here after the long journey from the western shore, we were welcomed personally by Mr. and Mrs. Ernst, the project director and his wife. We knew then that we were in a big, warm family. Let us do our uttermost in making this Center a bit of His Kingdom on earth.
Rev. Taro Goto

January 23, 1943. Agriculture – Survey

LANDSCAPE – The landscape and gardening section of the Agricultural division has contributed much toward the beautification of the City. Under the supervision of Tom Takaki and Nobuo Kawabata, chief foremen of the section, landscape plans for Topaz have been developed, and the planting of specimen trees around the hospital, administration buildings, civic center and residential block areas has been undertaken. It has been largely instrumental in the construction of the ice-skating rink which is now open to the residents. A small nursery is in operation at the southwest corner of this City under the direction of H. Hayashi and S. Neishi, veteran nurserymen of San Francisco. A sketch of the Topaz plaza to be located in the area between the administration and hospital buildings has been designed as a primary step in the landscaping of this area.

March 5, 1943 Topaz to Have Picnic Ground

Preparation of a picnic ground for recreational use by residents commenced this week, it was announced by Tom Takaki of the landscape and nursery section.
Approximately 10 acres of ground were selected in an area located in Section 21 which lies adjacent to the east fence, one-half mile from the city. At present, there are 11 large poplar trees in the selected site to offer an abundance of shade.
The planting of approximately 500 willows and 110 tamarisks will start next week and these will serve as windbreaks, screens and shades, besides adding a large measure of beauty to the surrounding scenery. The tamarisks bloom in the late summer with pale, lavender-colored flowers.
Open barbeque pits equipped with grills, and tables and benches, will be placed in advantageous locations. As soon as weather permits, a lawn will be grown to cover that part of the area.

April 8, 1943 Gardening for City Progresses

With the advance into the spring season, gardening work is being rapidly pushed at the Topaz nursery, it was revealed recently by Tom Takaki, foreman of the Landscape and Nursery section.
Under the supervision of S. Neishi and H. Hayashi, experienced nurserymen from Oakland, approximately 10 acres of ground located in the southeast corner of Section 11 are being used for culturing the many varieties of plants. Already numerous kinds of early summer blooming flowers have been planted. These are expected to furnish the hospital, churches, dining-halls, and administrative buildings with an abundance of cut flowers this summer.

April 22, 1943 Landscaping Progresses

Several thousand plants were procured recently through various sources to be used for the spring beautification program, which is now progressing at maximum speed, according to Tom Takaki of the Landscape and Gardening section.
A truckload of plants were donated to Topaz by R. Dobson and Neil Crossland of Holden, located 45 miles southeast of here. Included in this lot were numerous varieties of fruit trees, shade trees, shrubs and berry plants, most of which were immediately planted around the hospital buildings.
Also received last week was a shipment of 2,200 shrubs of many varieties from Logan to be used for landscape purposes around the dining halls and in the community gardens.
In reference to the backyard gardens Takaki announced that information pertinent to the methods most favorable for local growing conditions is available to residents at the Agriculture division.

April 24, 1943 Women’s Mirror

CREATIVE BEAUTY—Though Nature wasn’t generous with Topaz in giving out her verdant gifts, the women here have combatted [sic] the ugliness and drabness of the surroundings by directing their creative impulses towards the beautification of the home. Making home life cheerful and comfortable for the family, especially the children, is one of the achievements of the mothers here.
Artificial flowers fashioned from crepe and wax paper, and crocheting thread, with its vibrant color and personality, enhance the rooms of any apartment.
But flowers contrived by art is [sic] an inferior substitute for the genuine blooms. We, who have lived near the rolling green hills of California with its [sic] lush poppies and wild plants, the scented gardens, immaculate lawns and thriving flower beds of the bay area, yearn for Nature’s expression of greenery.
Happily, though on a small scale, we can induce greenery to grow near the windows of our barracks.

September 30, 1943 Beautification

A program for community beautification, calling for trees, shrubberies, lawns and athletic fields, is now being formulated by the City’s landscape designers under the direction of Roscoe Bell, chief of the agricultural division.
A staff of 3 landscape architects have practically completed their designs, which will be submitted to the Community Council as soon as possible.
The present plans, according to Bell, are as follows:
Each Block: Each block will be provided with its own miniature park in the space opposite the rec [sic] hall, and it will also have trees, shrubberies and lawns, to be laid out in accordance with the desires of the residents of the block. Considerable leeway is being provided for expression of individual initiative and taste, and the final appearance of the City will depend largely upon the amount of effort the residents are willing to expend for beautification.
Athletic Fields: The main athletic field will be situated in the broad stretch of land adjoining the City blocks on the south side. In it will be located a skating rink, baseball diamond, softball grounds, football field and possibly a golf course, according to present tentative plans. The open space to the east of the City blocks will probably hold tennis courts.
[…] Staff: Working on the plans are Tom Takaki and Don Akamatsu, both graduates, in landscape architecture, of the University of California, and Joe (name illegible), landscape designer.
Start: Residents were asked to wait until the Community Council has approved the general plans before beginning any extensive work on their blocks so that provisions may be made for rough grading and such necessities as walks, paths and service areas.
Some 10,000 cuttings for shrubberies suitable to Topaz’s climate and soils are now available and will be planted this fall.
Hope: The trees and shrubs, together with the improvement of roads and streets, will largely eliminate the dust clouds that now plague the City.