Portfolio > After the War: A family history

Celery Fields, 1945 Decatur MI
Celery Fields, 1945 Decatur MI
Watercolor on Fabriano

Men who did not cause "trouble" in the camps were released to work primarily as farm laborers as early as 1944. Grandpa Minoru found work in Decatur, Michigan working on the Harry Becker celery farm in 1944.

Needless to say, the Japanese American workers encountered discrimination across the US and it was difficult to secure steady work in a hospitable and welcoming environment. Some men traveled great distances to find work and were separated from their families who remained in camp.

After Minoru settled in at the Harry Becker farm, he sent for his family a few months later. Grandpa, Grandma, June (Kazuko) and Irene lived in cinder block housing with other Japanese and Japanese American families. It was hard work and Grandma spoke of the cold Michigan winters. They longed to return to California.

After seven years, they saved enough money to purchase a car and drive back to California where Grandma's family had relocated after the war. Their home in Los Angeles had disappeared and the land replaced by a row of shops. Everything inside their home before the camps - wedding presents, a new refrigerator, photos - was lost.