‘Scattered throughout the United States’
Although they were not permitted to return to the West Coast, Japanese American students who met specific requirements were allowed to leave the camps to work or attend school. In 1944, after resettling in Ohio for school, Sandie Saito sent Mollie the whereabouts of their neighborhood friends, now “scattered throughout the United States.” After the war, Sandie stayed with Mollie until her family was able to reestablish a home in Los Angeles.
‘I don’t know how things will turn out’
June Yoshigai wrote Mollie a letter sprinkled with Japanese-language terms in January 1945 after the West Coast began permitting Japanese Americans to return. June and her family had been incarcerated at the Gila River camp in Arizona. She wrote this letter from Illinois, where she was attending college.
“The West Coast is now ‘opened’ to us—it seems so strange. Well Molly, I don’t know how things will turn out. Eventually, I suppose, we’ll return to Los Angeles, but I’m “planning” to stay here for awhile. . . . Here in Illinois—the opportunities are much better—more jobs available (at present, anyway), the people, as a whole—appear to be more fair in their judgement, and broad minded.”
After World War II, some of Mollie’s friends returned to Los Angeles. Others resumed their lives elsewhere. Mollie graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles; became a Spanish teacher; and started a family of her own. She remained friends with her Japanese American classmates long after World War II.