Short Story: June 1997: High School Yearbook

The following is the second of two short stories by Yosh Golden, who was born behind the barbed wire at Manzanar during World War II. This story, along with Desert Birth – June 1944, is the foundation for the upcoming film, The Song, a short film based on Manzanar, and the Japanese American Incarceration story. Originally published in Northwestern University’s Triquarterly Online (Issue 140, Summer/Fall 2011). It is reprinted here with permission.


Former Manzanar incarceree Yosh Golden (center), who was born at Manzanar during World War II, shares her knowledge and experience during a small group discussion at the 2013 Manzanar At Dusk program.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Yosh Golden

Toby, the newly married grandson, greets Grandmother Sachie with his usual cheerfulness. It barely covers the concern in his voice. His bride, with a smile, gently greets Grandmother and grasps her once-strong hands. Grandmother is awake but a little groggy from the morphine required to quell the pain deep inside her wasting body, which in decades past gave birth to many vigorously healthy infants.

Words are quietly shared. Then a wrenching sob emerges from Grandmother’s throat, filling the silent spaces in adjoining rooms. Startled, Sachie’s oldest daughter quickly enters the room as Grandmother pleads: “Don’t let her be alone, Toby. Don’t let her be alone…don’t let her be lonely.”

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Short Story: Desert Birth – June 1944

The following is the first of two short stories by Yosh Golden, who was born behind the barbed wire at Manzanar during World War II. This story, along with June 1997: High School Yearbook is the foundation for the upcoming short film, The Song, based on Manzanar, and the Japanese American Incarceration story. Originally published in Northwestern University’s Triquarterly Online (Issue 140, Summer/Fall 2011). It is reprinted here with permission.


Former Manzanar incarceree Yosh Golden (seated at left, on a chair),
who was born at Manzanar during World War II, shares her knowledge
and experience during a small group discussion at the 2013
Manzanar At Dusk program.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Yosh Golden

My father, Yoshizo Yoshimura, born in Salt Lake City, was 26 at the time of my birth. My mother, Sachie, twenty-three, was born in Portland, Oregon. Both were American citizens, Japanese Americans—now confined to a camp in the California desert, Manzanar Relocation Center, surrounded by barbed wire and machine-gun turrets.

On June 14, 1944, my mother stepped out of Apartment 1 of Building 2 in Block 20. She and my father left their three-year-old son, Johnny, asleep on a government-issue blanket and cot back in the tarpaper barracks in the care of a young woman in Apartment 2, who lived just on the other side of a blanket partition. Holding my father’s arm, Sachie crossed the sandy walkways to another hastily constructed green-wood barrack that had been converted into a hospital. Sagebrush and sand devils kicked about by the constant wind blew across her pathway.

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