Daily Activities and Events

Daily Activities
After the initial dismay, disgust, and displeasure in the barrack housing, lack of privacy in communal latrines and showers, and communal mess hall food distribution, disgruntled inmates set about trying to improve their living conditions and developing a daily routine of coping with life in an abnormal setting. The women tried to beautify the interior of the barracks. The men tried to find some form of employment. The children tried to find and develop new friendships.  Some of the men left Amache on temporary leave to assist sugar beet farmers harvest their crops. A few went to help farmers in the Grand Junction area harvest peaches.

Granada Relocation Center Director James G. Lindley stated his goals and objectives for Amache as follows:

  1. temporary housing and subsistence
  2. an orderly community in which to live
  3. education and training for youth and adults, and
  4. relocation

The inmates tried to help attain those goals and objectives as well as they could with minimal disruption. They developed a well organized and active recreation program with sports leagues in baseball and basketball for both men and women. An extensive adult education program was developed for the older men and women with classes in sewing, crocheting, weaving, knitting, dressmaking, paper flower arranging, art, woodcarving, painting and poetry.

Special morale building events were organized to cope with the daily boredom of confined living, drawing on both American and Japanese heritage. Such events included arts and craft festivals, agricultural fairs, 4th of July parades, carnivals, movies, talent shows, musical concerts, sports contests, dances for the young people and an annual Obon festival.

While agriculture employed the majority of labor in the camps, adults worked in other capacities as well.  Sixty served in the Amache police department and three crews of firefighters supported daily operations.  Inmates worked as teachers (alongside Caucasians), medical personnel in the hospital, dental staff, mess hall cooks, postal employees, librarians, and in the co-op.  Amache had its own newspaper, Granada Pioneer, with its own comic strip featuring Lil’ Neebo create by Chris Ishii.

The Amache Silkscreen Shop employed 45 people and produced war training material for the US Navy as well as internal Amache calendars, programs, and personal projects.  When not working, the recreation barracks were utilized by the Boy and Girl Scouts, the YMCA, nursery schools, movies and theater, concerts and clubs, sports programs, and classes in Japanese calligraphy and flower arranging. They also served as churches for Buddhists, Christians, and other faiths.

Children went to school and participated in sports programs.   Adults did their best to hide the hardships from the children and made recreational apparatus for the children to play on.   Playing with marbles was also popular with the children.

In 1944 and 1945 there were funeral services at the cemetery for the Amache men who were killed in action fighting the Nazi forces in Italy and France.

During the incarceration period there was a steady stream of inmates who left Amache. Some left for colleges and universities in the East and Midwest to complete their studies interrupted by the evacuation. Some left to obtain advertised employment. Some left to serve in the military. Some left to serve the war effort as instructors for the U.S. Navy Language program at the University of Colorado. Others left Amache to try to begin life anew in communities outside the exclusion zone of California, Oregon and Washington.