Essay by
  • Katerina Lydon
in response to
Essay by Yoshiko Nakamura Hasegawa

"The cinder block housing with necessary furniture was another new beginning"
-Yoshiko Nakamura Hasegawa

Hasegawa's account proceeds chronologically. It starts with the childhood of her father, Guichi "Chester" Nakamura, who came from a family of hard-working entrepreneurs and businessmen who immigrated to the United States in 1906, to escape economic depression in Japan. This is a source of identity and pride for the author, who embraces her father's capitalist and individualist worldview. The author measures her father's life by its successes, which happen to be in the field of business. Much like C.F. Seabrook - the so-called "Spinach King" - Yoshiko's father worked with food and food distribution and was even involved with a group that organized an early model for the contemporary grocery store. This version of the "American Dream," however, is interrupted. The author relates her father's routine pricing of vegetables and food prices, and the normalcy suddenly lost:

"Carrots, beets and spinach were…all one cent a bunch. Potatoes were ten cents a pound. The produce was displayed artistically; business flourished. This continued until that fateful day - December 7, 1941. This day altered our lives forever."

What follows is a different narrative, told in first person narrative, where she is directly included. We can almost see her and hear her voice trying to come to terms with the loss that follows. She explains the process of being relocated and detained in a short series of geographical descriptions. Her terse descriptions convey an almost silent outrage.