My Adventures at Manzanar
Thought I would “Google” “mess hall gardens at Manzanar” , , ,
I was just curious about what would pop up . . . anyway there was this post titled “Manzanar” by Karen Piper and since I liked the format, I decided to read on . . . there was this thing about Tom Gustie, a Bishop Paiute . . . interesting . . . said he worked at the Manzanar War Relocation Center while it was in operation, and that he had been stopped by the MP’s when he was going home because they thought he was one of the internees and was attempting to “escape” . . . one of the former internees commented about “escaping” from Manzanar, he said, “What was I supposed to do, SWIM to Japan? Besides, I lived in Gardena CA before I was sent to camp. . . LOL . . . when I was leading the interpretive tours at Manzanar National Historic Site (1997 – 2000) there were a number of people who thought I was of Japanese ancestry . . . even better, when I was out at MNHS recently (posted some photos of the “trip”) an NPS ranger asked if I had been in camp as a child . . . WHAA ?? . . . or maybe I was the former internee who STILL lived in Owens Valley . . . uh . . . PROFILED !! . . . I don’t think I look TOO Japanese, but I guess dark skin and “squinchty” eyes could give that impression . . .
But as I read more . . . I thought I should correct a few “errors” in the article . . .
1. There was only 2500 USD ($$$) in the initial grant from the Eastern California Museum . . . AND,
2. I didn’t hold court in either the MP guard post or the smaller internal police koban . . . was locked and besides, there were too many black widow spiders for my liking . . . Oh yeh, AND . . .
Drei . . . the land never “belonged to” my tribe . . . I b’long the Big Pine Band of Owens Valley Paiute, and my traditional “stomping grounds” are 35 miles or so to the north of Manzanar . . . yep, also “stomped” around New Mexico, San Francisco, and the Los Angeles metropolitan area before my stint at Manzanar . . . and,
IV. I didn’t, as was stated in the article, ” . . . became interested in Japanese history after studying Japanese pottery” . . . my affiliation with things Japanese is best explained by what a Japanese painter (artist) living in Boyle Heights L.A. said to me: “You are old Japanese come back as Paiute Indian . . .”
Well Karen, you got to Manzanar a bit late for the “show” . . . I stopped “doing” the tours in July of 2000 . . . after the NPS “interpretive” staff came to “show” me how interpretive tours were “supposed” to be conducted . . . uh hunh, uh hunh . . . these days you will have a very difficult time finding a “ranger” outside of the air conditioned Auditorium . . .
NO . . . s’not me . . . this is John Slaughter, former Facility Manager at MNHS . . . one of the unsung heroes during the formative years of the NPS site. John is sitting in the Block 9 Mess Hall garden that has since been excavated . . .
. . . yeh, was just me and Ross Hopkins (Park Superintendent and Marine) out at MANZ for a couple of years . . . HOO-RAH . . .