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Essay by
  • Hangrui Wan
in response to
Essay by Iddy Taniguchi Asada

Iddy Asada, a Japanese American born in Salinas, California, was sent to Poston internment camp in the Arizona desert before coming to Seabrook Farms. She wrote three different accounts for the "I remember" project, capturing her well-rounded and optimistic character against a gray and obscure background. She received an education at Bridgeton High School, was co-captain of the women's basketball team, and earned the nickname "slugger" on the Seabrook softball team. She left with many memories of Seabrook Farms, and her account of life in New Jersey is full of the names of friends and families who also relocated there. The residence barracks, recreation activities, and youthful activities that she wrote about in these recollections, reflect the features of second-generation lives and communal circumstances in this era.

As a member of the second-generation Nisei, born in the United States, life in Arizona camps prepared Asada for the harsh working and living conditions at Seabrook. Describing the lights on the train platform that she departed from on her way to Seabrook as "like an amusement center," and saying that "she was a kid at heart," Asada's language shows that she was positive and curious about her new environment. Her description of Hoover Village as "a place very much like the barracks we left in Arizona" shows how even the accommodations felt similar. The company's policy that "new families at Seabrook did not have to pay rent for their first six months" was an incentive to stay.

"I went to look for the others who had come from Poston… we were a rowdy bunch," Asada writes, illustrating how communities that were formed before their migration to Seabrook remained intact. Asada's friends were also Nisei whose ancestry shaped their social experiences. The confined and crowded structure of the barracks created public spaces, whether residents wanted them to be or not, such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and toilet facilities in centralized areas. Moreover, recreational activities like sports (baseball, softball, and basketball), dance parties, and horticultural competitions facilitated the mingling of different communities, and helped to increase their morale and working impetus.

Asada writes, "I made good lasting friends. This was where I met the challenges of facing a new world." Asada's later worked for the Japanese American Citizens League, which is the largest and most well-known Japanese organization of its kind in the United States.