“U. S. Route 395 – Manzanar War Relocation Center”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

       

EntrySign

Desolation

Desolation

Manzanar Story

Manzanar Story     

“This travesty of justice could easily happen to any other group…Educating people about the incarceration of one group will help prevent its happening to other minorities in our American democracy.”  Personal Justice Denied:  Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians”

My recent trip to Manzanar, one of a number of “relocation” camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II, brought to vivid reality one of the worst chapters of American history.

The Manzanar National Historic site is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 395, 9 miles north of Lone Pine, California and 6 miles south of Independence, CA.  Having spent many years in Hawaii and counting many Japanese-Americans as my friends, I had heard of Manzanar, but had little knowledge of the detailed circumstances that gave birth to the “relocation” camps.

American citizens were uprooted from their communities, their homes, their friends and transported to camps for their “protection.”

American Family

American Family

James D. Phelan, mayor of San Francisco and later U. S. Senator,  is representative of the majority of white America at the time.  Mayor Phelan clearly establishes the racism and economic basis for Japanese-American citizens to be incarcerated,  He called the influx of the Japanese (making no distinction as to whether they were citizens or not) “a silent invasion” that would convert the United States into “a Japanese colony.”  “But California is a white man’s country, and the two races cannot live side by side in peace….”

Mayor James Phelan San Francisco

Mayor James Phelan
San Francisco

Hate

Hate

Hatred

Hatred

Racism at Work

Racism at Work

My children and I walked the grounds of the encampment.  Very little of the original camp is left, torn down after World War II.  A sleeping area, dining hall, and watchtower have been recreated.

Sleeping

Sleeping

Mess Hall

Mess Hall

Watchtower

Watchtower

Waves of heat beat down on our heads.  The landscape was barren and hauntingly lonely.  The wind picked up the dust and spun the fine sand into tiny tornadoes.

Lonely

Lonely

Many of the people that came to this camp had left picturesque areas with their own homes.  They arrived to a very hot area in the summer and a freezing cold area in the winter.  Utilitarian barracks were shared with strangers.  A picture of toilets described in stark language the embarrassment they felt at sharing intimate bodily functions with people they had never met.

No Privacy

No Privacy

An original, bright yellow fire hydrant splashed color against the arid land.

Hydrant

Hydrant

A stark monument surrounded with hundreds of origami cranes beckoned.

Remember

Remember

Cranes

Cranes

A short distance away, a few graves remained.

Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place

One grave brought tears to my eyes.

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry Ogata died in Manzanar, an American prison camp on American soil.  I don’t know if he was born in America.  It doesn’t matter to me.

The fence surrounding the graveyard cast shadows on the ground imprisoning Baby Jerry for eternity.  I wiped away my tears and turned away.

Imprisoned

Besides prior noted links, more information about Manzanar can be found at the following links:

Internment of Japanese Americans-newspapers 

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History 

WW2 LETTERS TO THE WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY ABOUT JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,WW2 WHITE AMERICANS AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,1940S WHITE AMERICANS OPPOSED TO JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,AMERICAN SOLDIERS RAIL AGAINST THE INJUSTICE OF JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMP HISTORY LESSON,PROTEST AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT 1944 – Article Preview – Old Magazine Articles

Interview with James D. Phelan – 1906

Children of the Camps | HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

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“U. S. Route 395 – Alabama Hills”

Sculpted

Sculpted

I grew up watching movies and television shows about the Wild West.  My brothers and I attended Saturday afternoon matinees at the base movie theatre in Berlin, Germany where my Dad was stationed.  The landscape portrayed in these shows was ruggedly beautiful. Mountains soared to the heavens and snowdust capped their peaks.

Eastern Sierra Magic

Eastern Sierra Magic

Many of these Western movies and television shows were filmed in the Eastern Sierra mountains’ Alabama Hills area,  a short drive from Lone Pine, Calfornia.  As I drove toward the entrance to Alabama Hills, the palette of colors in the mountain terrain surprised me.  I snapped pictures from the car.

Red Heart

Red Heart

Subtle shades of gold and the palest of oranges and pinks created a tapestry of soft hues.

Softly

Softly

The mountains changed with the miles and the light.

Shadow Hill

Shadow Hill

The unique geology of the area caught my attention.

Cowboy Country

Cowboy Country

Three Rock

Three Rock

Masterwork

Masterwork

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum

Rock Study

Rock Study

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

Future posts will highlight other scenic vistas from U. S. 395, the majestic route through the Eastern Sierras.

Five Lessons I Learned from Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo

The last six weeks have been a crash course in road biking in an attempt to ride 65 miles without dying.  My husband signed me up for the Medio, a distance of 65 miles, in Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo.  I didn’t realize that I’d learn more about myself than about cycling.

Lesson 1  Changing a flat is not in my gene pool.

The Studios at Montecito Heights, a local spin class venue, offered a training camp.  I signed up.  Layne, our patient and knowledgeable leader, began the series with a demo on changing a flat.

Pinch flats, tiny tools whose names I can’t remember, excessive patience, and getting grease all over me were things that either scared me to death or I simply didn’t care about.  I’d rely on the kindness of strangers.

Lesson 2 I am not a gear head.

We embarked on our first ride in a quiet  neighborhood with a few rolling hills.  The goal:  to learn our gears and become familiar with riding on a public road.

Gears.  Mechanical.  Big trouble.  I don’t care how simple it seems to the rest of the cycling world, the circuits required for understanding these pesky varmints are dormant in my brain.  Frequently, I found myself going up a hill in a gear which intensified the difficulty by 100 percent.

Lesson 3   Eating a boatload of electrolytes doesn’t make it easy.

Our mid- training rides covered 40 miles of the 65 mile course.  Any delusions that I was in shape were shattered as I struggled up Graton Road.  In an attempt to ward off exhaustion, I overdosed on electrolyte loaded chocolate “Gu’s,” Clif bars, and “Ironman” powdered drinks.  My stomach responded negatively, very negatively.

Lesson 4  Just when you think it’s over, it gets worse.

The last two trainings tackle the dreaded Coleman Valley Road.  Words cannot describe the steepness of this road.  You start at sea level and climb to the top and look at the Pacific ocean miles below you.

We begin the climb.  Straight up starts right away.  My breathing accelerates quickly.  I wheeze like a two pack a day Camel smoker.  My legs instantly complain.  If my quads could talk, they’d be cursing me like a drunken sailor.  I push the pedals with determination for about four minutes and realize “not today.”  I begin the long trek up Coleman Valley Road, walking my bike, watching the fog lift.

Finally, at the top.

I thought the hardest part was over. Not.  As I begin the descent, I pick up speed, faster and faster.  I squeeze my brakes in a death grip. Faster.  I was on a skinny, little bike careening down a winding road.  I shout at the top of my lungs, “Yoga breath!” in a vain attempt to calm myself.  When that didn’t work, I cursed incessantly.

I cannot believe that I did this descent three times.  It never got better.  Each time, I felt like I had won the lottery for simply surviving.

Lesson 5  Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo taught me to face the fear.

Yesterday, I started with 7,500 riders at the start of the fourth annual Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo.  Each rider shows up for different reasons.  I showed up to finish and I did.  I started this gig with fear.  Fear of slow.  Fear of  fast.  Fear the gears. Fear the crash. Fear the flat tires. I still have most of those fears, but they didn’t stop me from trying.  That’s what I am proudest of, thanks Levi.

P.S.   My daughter finished the Gran Fondo, 103 miles,  and my husband finished the Piccolo, 35 miles.  My son didn’t ride but he is one of the outstanding staff at Bike Monkey who does stellar work in organizing this community event.

Summer rituals: The Sonoma County Fair

Fair time and summer are the perfect match.  The Sonoma County Fair rolls into town every year in late July. For scores of Sonoma County families, the fair is their number one summer ritual.  The Sonoma County Fair pays homage to the county’s deep agricultural roots.  The fair showcases the farmers, ranchers and dairy owners who dedicate their lives to the land.

The fair is also about fun, entertainment, eating, and a slew of other enjoyable activities.  Children who grew up attending the fair, now bring their children and grandchildren.  The fair’s format remains the same year after year.

The garden show is always a highlight.

Sonoma County Fair Flower Show

The design and selection of the flowers is elaborate and follows a theme.  This year it’s “Ports of Call” which is also reflected in beautifully crafted sand sculptures.

Sand sculpture

Scores of stomach-dropping rides abound.

Bluesmen are everywhere.

Mariachi bands and toe-tapping New Orleans style jazz play along.

Rolling around in a big plastic bubble on the water is a hit for the kids, and left many adults wishing for an adult sized bubble.

The best part of the fair, for many, is the fried, caloric, rich food, washed down with an icy cold brewski or a Sonoma County chard.

 Some rituals should never change.  See you next year at the Sonoma County Fair.

P.S.  People watching and picture taking top my fair favorites list. Just a few images from Sonoma County…send me shots from your local fair.

A different type of flower