Japanese Neighbors

11 Nov

My Take

DiVoran Lites

By Dora Bowers as told to DiVoran Lites

Crowley Colorado, 1942

Description: C:\Users\DiVoran\Pictures\Old Family Pictures\Bowers 3 (4).jpg

Circa early 40s Dora, DiVoran, Ivan, and David Bowers

In the time of writers like Lloyd C. Douglas who wrote The Robe, and C. S. Lewis…The Screwtape Letters. WW2 was heating up. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor triggering an outrage of fear so heavy that President Roosevelt decided to send families of over 117,000 Japanese Americans, many of them American citizens, to internment camps in order to pacify the millions of Americans who were afraid that if left free the Japanese would spy for the     enemy. 

Not long before the big, “Amache,” Internment camp was built near Crowley, Colorado where the Bowers family lived,         Japanese people arrived and were housed in section housing. One family moved in next door to the Bowers family on the outskirts of town.

The father was about the same size as Ivan, which was small for a man. He had dark shiny hair and a sweet smile. He always bowed low as he left to go to work (gratis) in the sugarcane field and returned in the evening. For this family bathing together was the highlight of their life. Their bathhouse was practically under our bedroom window. Night after night, I fell asleep to the sound of soft voices and laugher, a pleasant memory from our time in Crowley. 

On the few occasions when our Japanese neighbors visited us, they brought gifts of thoroughly cleaned vegetables from their garden. As they arrived, they removed their thong shoes by the front door. They were good, kind neighbors and in spite of the war between our two countries, we liked them and enjoyed getting to know a few of their traditions. 

If you are squeamish, please don’t read the next two paragraphs. 

Most regular folk in those days kept chickens for their eggs and for the pot. Being chicken people, we were interested in        Japanese methods of preparing them for supper. They selected a chicken, hung it upside down from a branch, and pierced the roof of its mouth so the blood could drain out. They could tell that the chicken’s insides were dry when its feathers turned down. 

Our way was to wring a chicken’s neck or cut its head off with an ax. If the headless chicken got loose, it ran around in circles until it dropped. From such necessities came sayings such as, “I’m so mad, I could wring his neck” and “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”

Once the camps were finished the internees built model   communities with schools, health clinics, and, libraries. We were sorry to hear later that the Japanese families who had lived in camps for three years had been cheated out of their houses, cars, and businesses. Many suffered separation, poverty, and sometimes people just disappeared. It has been considered one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century. 

The internment camps lasted from 1942-1945 when the   Japanese Americans were finally released to start all over again from scratch and the camps were eventually torn down. 

Dorothea Lange censored photographs.     

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

One Response to “Japanese Neighbors”

  1. Onisha Ellis November 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm #

    A sad story but I am so glad you had a chance to know them.


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