1944 June 29
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9022, creating the War Relocation Authority (WRA). The WRA selected ten sites in which to imprison more than 110,000 Japanese Americans, over two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Two of these centers where in the Arkansas Delta, one at Rohwer in Desha County, and the other at Jerome in sections of Chicot and Drew counties. These camps incarcerated over 16,000 Japanese Americans between October, 1942, and November, 1945. Hazel Linam Retherford was born on January 27, 1906. During World War II, she was a teacher at both the Jerome and Rohwer Japanese relocation centers in Arkansas, eventually helping to close both centers. She later went to Washington, District of Columbia, to complete War Relocation Authority records on the camps.
June 29, 1944
Dear Mrs. Retherford,
Whee - Bang, here I am far Away Arizona
way. First I want to thank you for the nice box of
candy and the pictures. I sure will remeber you by the
pictures. Well, I know you are anixous to hear about it
all. First also thanks for seeing us off. The trip as a
whole was rather nice. Course in a trip like that
there are always hardship on everyone. We sure were
late in arriving here. We sure lost lots of time in between
in Texas we were at one time 5000 ft above sea level sure
was cool. we also ran into storm too. The country side
is all green but mostly pastures. Not many places to see
since we had 3 nites + 2 days. If you know anyone
comming west tell them to travel on the streamliner -
air conditioned. We had windows open but was still
warm no seawter[sic] or anything at nites. We came the
southern routes, had chances to buy ice cream twice.
Also saw the Italian Concentration Camp and the reconized
us. Some were able to talk. We arrived at Case Grande
1:30 p.m. it was hot but its wasn't bad. Welcome us with
a music + all. We arrived at our camps about 3:00 p.m.
It was cool then. Its not like Denson sticky and damp.
Its very dry here. Everything is dry dry dry even the
air you yourself feel dry inside too. We drink
ice water since its available at all times but funny
we hardly perspire so we have to go to latrine
more often then Denson. Today as I sit in our apartment
with no fan or cooler, I'm still comfortable enough
to write letters. I mean it because this is my
5th long letter (at least 3 pages) this afternoon.
2/ The weather here is funny it really hot in the sun its seems
to strike at you but there seems to be a breezes. In the
shade its cool much better then Denson as far as the
weather. People here tell us yesturday was the hottest day
yet we were all comfortable. Today the sun is hot
but as I sit here writing there a nice strong breezes.
Its blowing the curtains all the time. When the sun goes
down it gets very cool at nite at least 2 blankets
are required. Hiking seems to be the fad at nite here.
They claim we Densoner are dark, peoples here are all
very white. Also another things to be noted here are that
I haven't seen one person here that I can call skinny
Thery're all plumps & fat. I meant[sic] it. I guess its the
weather. A-we have the best meals with lots & lots
of vegetables, milk here is perfect not smelly like
Denson, its so fresh and grade A too. Even I drink
a big cup full. Vanette would sure fill out here.
There semms to be plenty of vegetables here. Not much
meat but plenty. Hardly no chicken only twice
a year but we can but it at the canteen, fruits,
like cherries, peaches etc, are available at the canteen
also fresh fish. You know we eat fresh raw fish.
We are just waiting for our freight to be delivered
this afternoon & we can cook at home. The camp
here in general is much bigger and something
about it doesn't appeal to me. Breezes are sure cool,
you know you feel dry inside but on the outside
your flesh is cool in fact it gets cold in the
evening. We are surrounded by nothing but desert
and rooming [sic] hills here & there far from
3/ everything maybe thats why I don't like it. Close
town is Casa Grande about the size of Portland. We
are not allowed to go outside at all unless we
relocate, even to Phoneix. Seems so far from every-
thing. Movies here are terrible. Blocks are larger
apartments aren't very good. Its painted white & red roof
I think they should paint it green roof. Sun
glares here. But every one seems to be comforable
only one complaining are Densoner because they're
not use to it. Faciliate are bad here
all whar we call slap-happy & brief, like showers
no spary it just sqrit [sic] out. As far as the Housing
its Denson. Arizona beats in food. No ditches to
cross here all level land, rough coarse sand soil.
Vegetables grow very nicely here, than rooming [sic]
hills here & there, cactus and sage brush every
where. Life here remind one of the life in Mexico
as it comes out of the story book only not so
colorful. I think you should of come out here.
I heared rumors that 300 more from Rohwer
would come. They are having Dummer School here
but I'm having a vacation myself for about 3 mos.
Than by that time I hope to be in Buffalo, New York
to see some one special. If I can get my permitted
to go across the border. I guess your still headed
for Rohwer. All my sympathy goes with you there.
Ifs nice here in general. See, theres a nice breeze coming
in the window now. You can tell that by this being
my 5th letters that I must be pretty comfortable
8.5 in x 11 in; color
Evacuation of civilians; Military assistance; Military camps; Camps; War; Japanese; Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Concentration Camps--United States--Arkansas; Internment camps; Relocation camps
MS.00643, Box 1, Folder 1, Item 16
Hazel Retherford papers, MS.000643
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
Correspondence to Hazel Retherford, Hazel Retherford papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at email@example.com.
United States History
Hazel Retherford papers MS.000643; Amon Guy Thompson papers MG04582-MG04586; Austin Smith
Download Full Text (1.3 MB)