Monday, August 18, 2008

Hello Maggie!

Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized version of the cover

Our friend WILLIE ITO, retired Disney artist and Local 839 officer, sent us a copy of Hello, Maggie!, a children's book by Shigeru Yabu that features some of Willie's lovely illustrations.

The book is based on the author's recollections of life as a ten-year-old Japanese-American living in the Heart Mountain, Wyoming relocation camp during World War II. Mr. Yabu writes:

... We were a happy family living in San Francisco. My parents were busy with our dry cleaning store. I was a busy boy paying with my pets.

Then on December 7, 1941, we got news that changed our life. World War II had begun. Over 120,000 Japanese Americans were ordered to leave their homes and move to internment camps set up throughout the United States.

It was a very sad day when my father Joe told me that I had to leave my pets. I gave my German shepher dog, canary, gold fish, and turtle to my best friend Russell.

My teacher and my classmates gave me a going away party at Fremont Elementary School. It was hard to say goodbye, especially when I saw my teacher crying ...

It's one of the more charming aspects of the Land of the Free that, from time to time, it rounds up selected groups of its citizens and puts them in various prisons for the sheer fun of it, but there you are.

We do so value our freedom and democratic values.

TAG has a number of members who lived through World War II internment. Shigeru Yabu is not one of them, but Willie Ito is. A native San Franciscan, Willie spent the war years in the internment camp at Topaz, Utah, where his interest in art blossomed. Upon his return to the bay area after the war, he continued his studies in art.

Hello Maggie! for sale at and


Anonymous said...

My grandfather, Zensuke Kurosawa, was a Japanese immigrant working as a foreman at a plantation in Hawaii. He immediately got "arrested" with other Japanese community leaders and eventually was sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona. From what I understand, only the arrested persons in Hawaii were sent to camps, as opposed to entire families in the mainland. Apparently, if entire families in Hawaii were sent to camps, it would have been too much of a disruption to the Hawaiian economy.

Steve Hulett said...

It was a very enlightened time in U.S. history. Japanese-Americans were a security risk and had to be rounded up.

German-Americans? Italian-Americans? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Puts a slight damper on that "greatest generation" designation.

Floyd Norman said...

Very scary stuff, yet we were moving in that direction again under the fear mongering Bush administration.

Apparently being free in America depends on who you are. A very sad situation.

Anonymous said...

Not quite sure how we avoided that disaster - sure seemed like we were headed there right after 9/11.
Only thing I can think of is W got distracted by his need to go into Iraq.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of my Grandfather Willie. He is such a gifted artist with incredible talent and it shows in his books. He is the best!

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