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July 24, 2006

Fujita-san

Stacy, because this is the kind of thing she does, has been digging into the history of the house in which we live. Among the things we've found out is that it was built in 1905, and has the identical floor plan, albeit in mirror image, to the house right next door.

A couple days ago she came to me with a print out of this database record. It turns out the subject of that record, Santaro Fujita, lived in our house in 1942 (though we don't know if he rented or owned.)

What will sadly not surprise you, if you connect a Japanese name and the year 1942, is that the record is evidence of his relocation that year to the Central Utah Relocation Center, but not before being housed at the race track in Tanforan (San Bruno, California). As in, horse stalls converted to barracks. (You can download a Powerpoint presentation featuring photos of Tanforan.)

Look again at that record. That such a reductive, factual presentation of data can stir up such sadness is a bit shocking. Fujita-san was no recent emigre. At the time of his relocation, he was nearly 60 years old, having lived in the United States over 40 years. The idea that our government considered him in any way a threat is dismaying to a remarkable degree.

Fujita-san was married to Toyo. She was relocated along with him. She was ten years younger, and had been in America for under 30 years.

I'm having trouble uncovering much on the Japanese community in Berkeley before World War II, but there's some mention of the relocation situation in Chapter 7 of Berkeley, A City in History.

Though deeply saddening, I must say I'm looking forward to what else Stacy uncovers that allows me to connect my current situation with that of the past.

[[I forgot in my original posting to add this. The Social Security Death Index shows that Santaro Fujita lived to be 90 years old, dying in Los Gatos, CA.]]

Posted by peterme at July 24, 2006 09:58 PM

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