Vanished-Lompoc's Japanese: Of One Hundred Families Only Two Returned
By John V. McReynolds. Foreword by Dr. Kent Haldan.
In Lompoc, a small California Central Coast farm town, V-E Day neared. The U.S. government had finally decided that Japanese Americans could now return from concentration camps. But on March 9, 1945, the Lompoc Record front page read: "Mystery Fire Damages House on North A St." The subhead gave a crucial bit of additional information-"Property is owned by Toshio Inouye." Damage was minor but the police chief could not explain it. Even had it been an accident it gave credence to the series of threatening phone calls which followed.
"I have just been told that there are threats about burning my house if I have any more Japanese in my home. Ordinarily it would be best not to pay any attention to this, but with the widespread terrorism which is being tried throughout the state it seems necessary to answer it. I led many of these Japanese in the Scouts, taught many of them the value of Christian life of love and forgiveness. Can I so forget?" --George Kimbel, May 14, 1945
Evidence is circumstantial regarding the role of the most prominent non-Japanese vegetable packing shed owner in town, but there is certainly plenty of it. Tom Parks, the principal business competitor of the Nikkeijin, played a leading role in at least three organizations which lobbied for forced evacuation and which most publicly resisted return. His vegetable business boomed when the Japanese departed.
Parks' financially-enriched activism, plus wartime hysteria, and covert racism left from the 1920s, not to mention the political weakness of a community whose first generation was still barred from applying for citizenship, combined to wreak havoc. In Lompoc only two Nikkeijin families returned to stay out of 100. This is their story.
Full of memories from forty-nine scattered Lompoc evacuees and their families, and illustrated with forty pages of photographs never before published, Vanished: Lompoc's Japanese features thirty pages of documentation, a foreword by Dr. Kent Haldan, an authority on the subject, and memoirs from Tsuyako Suzuki Miyagishima and Elsie McLean Stadley.
Paper: 232 pp