Daily Camp Life
Conditions in camp were harsh. Most were located on remote lands where temperatures rose to 120 °F in summer and dropped to -30 °F in winter. Barbed wire fences and armed watchtowers ominously guarded the camp’s perimeter. Uninsulated and barren barracks provided little comfort and privacy, and the food was often of poor quality. Despite the circumstances, Japanese Americans actively built schools, hospitals, and community institutions to establish a civil life they were otherwise denied.
The monotony, anxiety, and resiliency that marked everyday camp life emerges in the diary of Yonekazu Satoda. A recent Berkeley graduate, Satoda wrote nearly every day during his internment at Fresno Assembly Center (California) converted from local fairgrounds and Jerome Relocation Center (Arkansas) built on top of swampy marshland in the Mississippi flood plain. His thousands of entries range from the banality of his camp office job, the anxiety over his uncertain future, to the daily pleasures of joining a baseball league, drinking soda with his friends, and attending dances.