Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Portrait: Jim Maeno

Over the Christmas break I was able to photograph and interview three former internees for my portrait project. Jim Maeno is a recently-retired dentist. He contacted me after seeing the story about this project in the Sunnyvale Sun newspaper.

Jim was one year old when his family was forced to leave Santa Maria and report to the Tulare Assembly Center. They were incarcerated in the Gila River Relocation Camp. Once in the camp, his dad was imprisoned in Bismark, N.D., and his mom contracted tuberculosis and was moved back to a hospital near Santa Maria, CA. Jim and his siblings were forced to remain in Gila River, where they were raised by their uncle.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Jim has a surprisingly clear memory of some moments in Gila River even though he was so young at the time. He also has some interesting insights into how his family adapted to moving back to California after the War. Here are some audio recordings of Jim Maeno's memories of the Gila River interment camp, and thoughts about integrating back into society after the family was reunited after the war

  • Jim remembers his mom contracting tuberculosis at the Gila River internment camp. He also remembers the coyotes howling during the outdoor movies, and riding around camp in one of the government vehicles. - LISTEN 
  • Jim's dad was imprisoned in Bismark, N.D. immediately after the family was interned in Gila River - LISTEN 
  • In Gila River, Jim's siblings were raised by their uncle, who later served in the Military Intelligence Service - LISTEN 
  • Jim describes how he never learned to speak Japanese because they never felt they were Japanese - LISTEN 
  • Jim explains why his family never felt they were Japanese, especially after the war - LISTEN 
  • Jim's dad worked on a farm owned by the Minami family. of Guadalupe, CA. - LISTEN 
  • Insights about discrimination after returning to Santa Maria (two parts)- LISTEN and LISTEN 
  • After the war, Jim attended college and then dental school - LISTEN 
You can also read the TRANSCRIPT of the above interviews. 

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