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Essay by
  • Amy Clark
in response to
Essay by Emiko Noguchi Herold

Escape at Seabrook Farms

Emiko Noguchi Herold's childhood memories of Seabrook reveal the power of family, books, and good food to better monotonous Seabrook days. She recalls how her mother, in her blue uniform, would come back from working overtime to pick her up from nursery school: "I would be the last child to be picked up and used to sit at the window and wait. What a safe feeling it was to see my mother finally coming," she writes. She remembers her disgust at the "half-raw chopped onions" in the hamburgers served at school, and the thrill of being assigned her own cubbyhole, with her own unique animal picture: "I knew exactly where 'my place' was because of this picture," she says. Her mother's long hours and distinct uniform, as well as Emiko's meals and cubbyhole, intimate the regimented, tedious nature of life at Seabrook. By dictating schedules and restricting freedom of movement, relocation to Seabrook subjected former internees, especially children like Emiko, to rituals beyond their control. For many, these restraints replaced more explicit methods of state control in the internment camps. Emiko coped through escapism: she recalls waiting "every fourteen days" for the Bookmobile, a mobile library which stopped in front of the Community House. Borrowing three or more books at a time, Emiko found herself transported all over the world through reading. "What a welcome change from the hum-drum life in Seabrook with its one traffic light!" she writes. Most of all, she found comfort in family. Her memories of Thanksgiving - taped music, Auntie's rolls, Uncle Kiyomi's home movies, the noise of children playing upstairs - testify to the importance of family bonds at Seabrook for support and survival. For Emiko, "This feeling of being together was perhaps the most vivid remembrance."