I Know We'll Meet Again - Transcripts

Correspondence and the forced dispersal of Japanese Canadians

Albert Ohama

Spuzzum, BC and Rainier, AB on 1942-1944

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: Hi Joan!
Letter 1
: Having swell trip. Lots of people but not crowded. “Not alone but lonesome”. Trains awful jerky.
: I will write later. Beautiful scenery.
: Sure miss the old gang.
: Al Ohama
: July 4, 1942
Letter 2
: Ranier, Atla.
: Dear Joan:
: Hello there! I just received your letter last mail-day. Gee it was swell to hear from you. Thanks a million for writing.
: Gosh, I’ve been a terrible pal. You’ve got all the right in the world to be angry with me, Joan. I love being busy -- but not so busy that I should neglect writing to you. Gee, Joan, I’m awful sorry, I guess I was never cut-out to write letters. But from now on you can be sure you’ll hear from me often--
: maybe too often. I hope you don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Do you? I was swell of youto write -- and -- gosh',' I just feel awful about it. Anyway we’re writing to each other now-- and thats what counts. Isn’t it? I still feel terrible and I guess I always will--unless you Say you’ll forgive me. Please!
: Well to change the subject to something much more important, how are you, Joay[?]? How are your Mom and Dad? And little Donnie? I just know everythings all right. How are all your friends?
: I hope I’m still one of them. Let’s talk about you, Joan, shall we? Say, did you know you are a beautiful little flatterer? You had me “redder than a beet.” Really! But really Joan, you’re so understanding and everythin’, I think your [sic] swell. Honestly!! And, gosh, where did you learn to write so well. Honestly, when I read your letter, I think I’m sittin’ right next to you.
: Are you enjoying your holiday? Wasn’t that last minute of school, a grand and glorious Feelin’? I can just picture you, Joan, slamming your
: books in your suitcase and probably giving a shout of joy. I bet you made faces at the teachers you disliked. Say for instance,
: “Jackie Hockin[?].” Gosh, Joan, I hope and pray you didn’t have her next time. She’s just like you said, “Stupid,” and gosh I mean stupid. She’s the most ignorant person I know. I ought to know. She taught me for a couple of years and look what she done to me. Ha ha. Honestly though, I think she’s not fit to teach. But then, who am I to judge?
: I am sorry to hear Mr. [???] is leaving you. He was swell to us. I haven’t much To say for Mr. Sanford. You won’t lose much by his going -- but Keatley! Ye gad! What a prize-sop[?]! Phooey on him!
: Gee isn’t it terrible weather we’ve been havin! I guess it’s the same here as in Surrey, coz we’ve been havin' rain, rain and more rain. Honestly the last week (4 days) was the only “hot” days we’ve had since coming out here. Gosh! but was it hot. Whew! I never seen nothin’ like it.
: I think I could fry an egg on a chunk of iron (we have no sidewalks).
: At present we’ve been haying, and gosh is that a job. We’ve got some 30-odd acres of hay to put up. We cut it last week and now we are Bringin’ it in our hay-racks. We are blowin’ it into the barn loft with a grain separator. Gee this is the hardest job yet -- Oh! come to think of it, I hate fixin’ fence themost and we spent about 2 weeks fixin’ about 10 miles of fence. Gee that’s a job and
: I’ve got plenty of scars to show you, Joan. That darn barb wire can sure make some really nasty cuts.
: Say, by the way, now that you’ve got your holiday, what are you doin’? Are you workin’ somewhere?
: And, Joan, will you do me a favor--eat plenty of cherries for me--but don’t eat the green ones, I don’t want you to get sick. Gosh, I like cherries, don’t you?
: Joan, have you been in [???] swimmin’ lately? I guess we are pretty lucky ‘coz we’ve got a swell lake to swim only a few steps from the house.
: Which reminds me, you ask about
: the farm so I’ll tell you about it. I guess Sonny has told you most of the things though. Well it’s not such a big farm as compared to some of them a round here, it’s got 3/4 [???].
: (I guess it’s large compared to our 10 acres back home -- but it’s far from being home.)
: You see we’re running the farm for a Mr. Burnett. He moved out to Calgary, so we’ve got the whole farm to ourselves.
: I guess we are pretty lucky at least I sure hate to work sugar-beets. It’s such a monotonous job. Well, anyway, we’ve got lots of cows (2), only 3 are milking cows.
: By the way, Sonny does all the chores. He milks like an “old maid” now. We have lots of horses about 25 but only 8 are working horses the rest of them are wild and they just romp around in the pasture back of our fields. We have two swell ridin’ horses. Gee, their [sic] beauties. I fell off once when I was too lazy to put on the saddle. (I couldn’t catch the horse again so I had to walk)
: I’ll send you some pictures of them and the farm as soon as I can.
: And Joan, remember those pictures you took when Sonny
: Was over to your party, well he’s got them developed and he’s gonna send them to you -- but not until I get some prints. Some of them are swell.
: Well, back here on the farm, all our crops are in, and they are coming along swell. We’ve got acres and acres of grain, and lots of spuds and vegetables like that. Gee it sure is some job keeping them clear of weeds.
: Say, Joan, how is your “Victory Garden” coming along? Swell, I hope.
: Say, Joan, one funny thing that I learned out here is that back home we cleared trees to plant
: things and out here we plant trees to get a wind-brake and to have some shade. Funny isn’t it?
: Oh yes! You asked how Rainier was. (I think you wrote RANIER but its Rainier) Anyway you won’t find it on the map its such a small dump. Its only our P.O. and our store and garage.
: We get mail 2 times a week. By the way how long did this letter take to get to you? I ask because all mail coming in takes from two to three weeks! I only realized this a few weeks ago when my Brother brought it to my attention.
: Well, to get back to Rainier
: as I said before it’s a dump. Its 3 miles away. Brooks is the nearest town it’s about the size of Cloverdale. I’ve been there only once. It’s about 25 miles away. We are about 140 miles South of Calgary. 80 miles from Lethbridge. So you see we are away from civilization. Ha! Ha!
: I guess I’m just pushin’ words along so I guess I’ll say good-bye but before I do will you please give my best to your Mom and Dad and Donnie?
: Well take care of yourself, Joan, and be good.
: Good-Bye and Good Luck!
: Albert Ohama.
: P.S. c/o of Mr. Bennett is not necessary. Call me whatever you like, Joan. I could add a lot more of nick-names to your list but anything will do. I ain’t fussy -- much. Ha! Ha!
: Al.
: P.P.S.
: Please excuse my hen-scratch. I know I’m a terrible writer. We have hens but they didn’t help me! Ha! Ha!
: Al.
: August 12, 1942
Letter 3
: Rainier, Atla.
: Dear Joan,
: Hel-lo! How’s the thrill of Scott Hill? Thanks for your very nice letter. I certainly enjoyed hearin’ from you. Jesus, Joan, don’t let writing long letters bother your sweet conscience, ‘cause I love ‘em. I love to (as you say) “wade through ‘em,” too.
: Well, Joan, what are you doin’ this bright and cheerful morning? Oh! Good morning, Joan. Sleep well? (I hope you read this in the morning)
: Well, anyway, how are you Joan? None the worse after that “horrible” weekend, I hope. It sounded like lots of fun to me. And say, I don’t mind being your “it”.
: Now for more about your letter: About the work over here; holy ??? but I must of put it on thick. Of course I have time to eat! I’m usually first at the table and last to leave. Boy, but do I love the dinner call! Not because I’m hungry but because we can rest - ah!
: Beautiful rest! Seriously, though, Joan, I’m not working that hard. The work has been hard but I’m getting use [sic] to it now. We’ve finished all the field work and there’s really not much work to do now. But there’s enough to keep us busy -- darn it. But don’t worry, Joan, I’m not working myself to death. Here pinch my arm. See, I’m alive. Ouch. (You pinched me too hard). Silly, ain’t I?
: What do we do in the winter? Nothing! Nothing ‘cept the chores. My brother and I may try to find work elsewhere--but not till I have a vacation. Gee, I wish I could go home for a visit, even for a few days. That’s day-dreaming, though.
: Music? I think I like Bing the bestest. I like smooth lingering music. Of course I classical [sic] -- but not too classical. One thing I don’t like --yet is that corny cave-man music (racket -- I mean). It actually drives me nuts.
: (Of course that’s taking for granted that I’m sane--which I’m not out here)
: Of course everyone has their own particular
: likings but I like Bing everytime. He drives me nuts, too--in a different way.
: So you were building castles in the sands? How romantic? Oh, I forgot. There were children with you. How horrible! I pity you, but I bet you did have some fun, huh?
: A working woman, are you? School’s your job. Stick to it. I would if I could.
: Which reminds me, school begins soon again, huh? Tech, tech, how time flies. More books and scraping with the teachers. When I think of school now they seemed lots of fun.
: You mentioned disagreeable odours of fish. Phooey! I met a skunk the other day and I thought it was very cute. Seems he doesn’t think the same of me, anyhow, i got the worst of him and he got the best of me. I’ll leave it to your imagination as for what happened. Anyway, the dog killed him and I went on my way. Well for the next week the dog and I were both in the dog house. I wouldn’t attempt to describe the odour. Phew!
: The moon? I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to admire it. (What-they-hay just about dark)
: The sunset is pretty out here, considering the fact that there is nothing but bold-headed prairie hills to give it a beautiful atmosphere. I think the other kids will back me up when I say that the sunset is very beautiful.
: I work in my birthday suit so I have a pretty fair tan--but if I keep this up much longer I’ll be burnt to a black crisp. Boy, it sure has been hot on some days, the last two weeks for instance. But today was cold! Can you imagine that? In mid-summer, too! Cold today -- hot tomorrow! Gosh, what goofy weather! How is it out there?
: Did I leave any questions out?
: Well what are you doing these days? Working in the peat-plant or are you taking care of the husband with the sick wife? Oh yes, there’s a baby in the family too, isn’t there? (I ain’t a bit funny am I?)
: How are Donnie and your folks? I hope they’re all well. And you. Are you taking good care of yourself?
: Say Joan, do you see many shows? Gosh, I haven’t seen one for so long, I forget what they’re like. Honest. I haven’t gone to Calgary yet, but I expect to some time
: during the month. My brother took a truck laid of vegetables in last week. He’ll be goin’ in quite often now and I hope to make one of the trips with him. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Calgary again. I can still remember some of the old haunts where I used to play and get into a lot of mickey. After all it’s only been about ten years ago.
: Gosh! Here I’m talking about nothing -- I guess I’m boring you, huh?
: Take care of yourself, Joan. And give my love and best wishes to your folks and of course Donnie.
: Good-bye till next time -- and don’t worry about us ‘cause we’re all fine.
: Yours,
: Alby
: P.S. ------
: P.P.S. Imagine that! No P.S.
: Bye, Alby
: (Oops! Over)
: Joan will you tell me how long my letters take to get to you. This letter will leave Ranier on the 14th one of the two mail days we have.
: Thanks
: Alby.
: Rainier Alta.
Letter 4
: Nov 14, 1942
: Dear Joan,
: Hello honey, what’s a cookin’? Alright don’t tell me! It’s only me dropin’ [sic] a few liners from out Rainier way, so don’t keel over.
: (About time huh?) I’m really sorry I didn’t write to you sooner -- how many “weeks” or months I should say -- am I behind time? How can I make up for it, Joan? Please tell me. Anyway, please for give me, won’t you? Please!!
: Gosh! And all the swell letters and pictures -- gee, do I feel terrible! I should have thanked you ages ago! Gulp! And your Q.E. Vue arrived sometime ago too. Thanks, thanks, and a million more thanks, Joan! The pictures were really great. We all enjoyed them very much. And the old school paper -- boy it was good to read about old names again.
: Say, you’re sure doin’ swell at school, aren’tcha? Your name’s on most every page. You adn the kids are sure making things buzz at the school aren’tcha? I guess you like school better’n ever now huh? Well,
: whatcha say, Joan. Oh, how was the mixer? Gee, I bet you had fun. I bet you danced every dance. Ahem, who didya dance with the mostest, Joan? Oh, for the “love of Pete,” Joan, you dont’ have to answer if you don’t wanna (ahem). I bet you did have lots of fun, huh? I sure wish I could have been there -- you’d really be tired after the dance.
: I see by the paper you still have house games. Boy, they were lots of fun. How about clubs? Still have ‘em?
: Say, how are you? Taking good care of yourself? Swell! Have you been skating yet? I don’t suppose there’s ice yet other than the [???] ?
: Well, out here in Rainier, life’s getting duller and duller. We’ve finished work now, at last. We finished up thrashing about 4 days ago -- right now we’re recuperating so that we can now have some fun. I went to Calgary the other day -- I didn’t
: have much fun ‘cause I went by myself. I saw “Bambi” and “Iceland” at the shows. They weren’t too bad. By the way, the theatres were terrible compared to those of Van. The first time I went to Calgary I seen “Mrs. Miniver” and “Fantasia.” I was so lucky because they were the best pictures I wanted to see. It sure was lonely in town. I didn’t do much but I did listen to the juke-boxes. Didya ever hear Bing sing “White Christmas”? (sigh). Now I’m being silly, ain’t I?
: Well we had a cold spell about three weeks back and we were able to skate for a few days, but now we are having very warm weather -- really.
: For the last several days a chinook wind has been blowin’! And it sure melted that ice in a day. We never had chinooks in B.C. but they come quite often out here. It’s a warm south wind comin’ from Montana-way. I bet you think we’re shiverin’ in our skins now huh? This weather sure surprised me. By the way we had
: And Indian summer here this year, too. I’m already for the winter weather though. Hope to get lots of skating and skiing this winter. That’s what I say now but I becha I’ll be sitting around the stove in the house as soon as it drops below zero. Our neihbors say it gets as gold as 60 below. Hope I don’t see any of that kind of weather.
: Well it’s getting late and I’m wandering around in circles so I had better close. Say hello to your folks and Donnie for me.
: G’bye now
: Love Al
: Ps. Hope to get this off from Calgary. I’ll be skiing. Your Al.
: Rainier, Alta.
Letter 5
: Jan 28, 1943
: Dear Joan,
: Thanks for all the swell letters. It’s awfully nice of you to write so often -- and such nice letters, too! Gee, ain’t I lucky! It ain’t everybody that has someone to write to him on Christmas Eve at 11:30 P.M.! You’re really swell, Joan!
: Being your “victor” is swell, Joan!
: You know, three weeks after Christmas Eve, when I got your letter, I spent it all over again -- in your house! Boy it was swell! I’m glad you liked the gift.
: So you had a party. Gee, I bet the fellas and gals had lots of fun -- and why shouldn’t they, when they have a swell hostess like you!! Poor you, hunny, to clean up the mess!
: Say, these two little cousins of
: yours sound very interesting you’ll have to introduce them to me sometime. Billy -- the one who wields the pencil -- must be a real card.
: Remember you asked if anyone out here raised bees ? Well, yes! There’s a couple of big apiares [sic] out here. Ho! It couldn’t have been our name on it -- although we have a hive ‘neath our house. ??? ??? says he gets ‘bout 300lbs out each year but we didn’t get around to it (that’s how busy -- or ignorant we were.) I guess the bees have eaten it all by now!
: Oh, another thing, you seem to remember Kay and Juke very well -- better than I infact! They and their dad, were down here last summer and then they returned to Lethbridge. That’s where my brother works! Mother and May just returned from this place and they say they are getting along very well!
: Christmas would have been perfect if my
: Brother and his family could have been with us. We sent them lots of things for Christmas though.
: Well, enough of this sniffing and drooling! What chou doin’ these cold days? I hear and read that you’re snowed in! How does it feel to be cold? At least it’s a change from that lousy rain and drizzle! (Aren’t I mean!) What’s the best a foot of snow or six inches of mud! I hear there’s a shortage of fuel! Well I hope your family has lots -- as if my hoping would do any good when you can’t lay your hands on the stuff!!
: I hear also that dear old Q.E. got mad and broke a few pipes! What luck, huh?
: Listen, who’s suppose to be telling me of home -- you or me!
: I guess I should tell you a little, anyway, of what’s happening down here.
: Well nothin’ much ever happens
: out here! The days just come ‘n go. What a life! Had a blizzard last week. Had to work ‘cause I was workin’ for someone down the road. The rest of the family stayed indoors that day. The roads were blocked by drifts and the mail truck didn’t get through, fortunately it came the next day though.
: Oh, Christmas and New Years were swell! We all had a grand time. So help me, the Christmas turkey never tasted better -- maybe because we worked up a hefty appetite by skating. The weather was just like B.C. in Winter. There was no snow ‘till late Christmas night. We (the younger Ohamas) went to our neighbors’ party. Stayed ‘till two and had a swell time.
: New Years was a little different. We had snow and it was a little colder. New Years Eve we planned to go to the hall shin-dig, but the car broke down at the last minute. (The same thing happened when we started out for the local school concert! Wotta lousy jalopy! They said, after it was all over, we really missed somethin’) Well, anyway, we managed to ??? over one of the neighbors and his family. Boy, did we have a lot to drink -- pop, of course! (Don’t worry, Joan, all us boys were sober!)
: I’m boring you so I’ll close -- while I got the chance -- ‘cause I’ll just go on and on.
: You be hearing from me soon.
: Take care of yourself and bundle up and be good!
: Yours Al
: Over
: P.S. Thanks for the lovely card! Keep the home fires burning! Al.
: Rainier, Alta.
Letter 6
: Feb 28, 1943
: Dear Joan,
: Hello there. Just thought I’d drop a line. I’m not quite sure of the last time I wrote, but I rather imagine that it was none too recently.
: Well, how are you doin’ these dismal days? How’s school? Boring or interesting? Sonny tells me you kids have to go to school on Saturdays, too. Is it true? Too bad if it is. Gosh, you may be too busy to
: write to me. And that would be unbearable. Really. Well, I’ll just hope for the best.
: How are you making out with that “certain guy”? If he don’t wan give you a glance, he ought to have his head examined. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that seeing how you like him so. You’ll have to pardon me.
: How are your other dates coming along? Surely you don’t devote all your time to this guy! Do you have
: lots of fun or do they bore you to death. Seems you have lots of fun. Well, that’s the right and only way.
: Is the school the same? How are the girl cadets getting along? Do you manage to keep in step with all the other [???]! Or do you like to be different!
: How are the teachers? Still the same? Tch, tch! You kids seem to have raw? Times with Mr. [???].
: He sure must be patient with you taks, but that’s what makes a good teacher. Agree?
: How are you Dad and Mother? How’s Donnie? Hope they are well. And of course that goes for you, too.
: Well, Joan, theren’t not much to write about over here, you know that. The days still come and go. ‘Tis a sad world!
: I don’t want to bore you with all my “buffing”[?] So until something pleasant happens I'll say,
: So long for a while
: Your loving pal,
: Al.