Portraits of Internment

Portraits of Internment

Laura Hirayama
Vol. 3, No. 23, Dec. 3, 1982

Dear Daddy,
. . . I am waiting for you to come home to show you how I can dance. I can swim too. I go swimming with Sumi folks. We miss you very much and pray to God to let my daddy come home to us. Sandra always takes your picture and says “Daddy.” . . . I will be a big girl when you come home. We all miss you. Take good care of yourself. Don’t forget to come home. Goodbye.
Love,
June

A studio portrait of the Hoshida family in 1962, in Los Angeles. From left: Carole, Sandra, June, Tamae and George. (From “Taken from the Paradise Isle: The Hoshida Family Story”)

A studio portrait of the Hoshida family in 1962, in Los Angeles. From left: Carole, Sandra, June, Tamae and George. (From “Taken from the Paradise Isle: The Hoshida Family Story”)

It was 40 years ago that June Hoshida had written to her daddy. At 6 years of age, her handwritten note, penciled onto a sheet of folder paper, was a simple, uneven scrawl. Still, it managed to convey all that her heart ached to say. And, for “Daddy,” those letters from home were all his heart had to live on.

It was 40 years and many memories ago, but George Hoshida still remembers. He kept and savored each letter his daughter June, his wife Tamae or any other party sent him. “I miss you and the children so much I am dreaming about you and home almost every night,” his own letters continually expressed. “Write whenever you can because that is the one big pleasure we look forward to in this monotonous life.”

Detained on Feb. 6, 1942, as an enemy alien, Hoshida was interned until December 1945. Those four years were recorded in a journal, hundreds of sketches and collected letters and communications. The stories they tell are more than most men would like to remember.

For Hoshida, it all began simply because he had been an active member in the local Japanese community. Though born in Kumamoto, Japan, in 1907, he had lived on the Big Island since the age of 5. By 1941, Hoshida was married and had three daughters, with a fourth one on the way. He was 34 years old, had held a steady job at the Hilo Electric Light Co. for nearly 11 years, and had just bought a house and lot in Hilo for his family to settle into. He was looking forward to raising a family and building a future in Hawaii.

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