Sunday, December 9, 2018

Read the History Pieces in the Paper Today!

It might be worth taking a moment to register a couple of very nice history pieces in the Sunday paper today. The Mill doesn't have regular publications at present and there's no other institutional home for this kind of local history. As easy as it is sometimes to slag on the paper, and to disparage subscription costs and corporate priorities, nobody else supports this kind of work on a regular basis.

Front page today
Local Japanese-American history remains undertold and underknown. This narrative centers white clergy, and maybe sometime we will hear the story from the church's side, as its members were agents and the center of their own story, and not merely the recipients of the clergy's advocacy, as important as it was.

That side might also be utterly lost, though, and especially because of that loss and disruption, it's worth dwelling on all the dimensions of the story. There is only one trace in the article:
Andrew Y. Kuroda, minister of the Japanese Community Church, sent a thank you letter to Purdy about a month before boarding a train with armed guards on June 1, 1942, in Salem, destined for an internment camp at Tule Lake in California.

Doris Bennett discovered the letter in the archives at First United Methodist. In it, Kuroda thanks Purdy for his "sympathetic understanding and unchangeable friendship." Kuroda went on to work 35 years as a cataloguer, bibliographer, reference librarian, and head of the Japanese Section at the Library of Congress.

(Roger Shimomura at Hallie Ford in 2015)
The piece is also meaningful as a partial reflection on what media chooses to write about and what they pass over, about bias and limitation.
The showdown happened Dec. 7, 1941, the night Pearl Harbor was bombed, and the church in harm's way was the Japanese Community Church.

"I doubt it made the papers," said Bob Bain, who years ago heard one of the clergymen, the late Dr. Glenn A. Olds, recount the incident during a guest sermon at First United Methodist Church.

Bain's right. It didn't. No mention around that time could be found in the Statesman Journal archives.
Less urgently, there's a nice piece on local adoption of prohibition before it went national.

Interior on local prohibition
We don't talk enough about how the Sculpture Garden at the Conference Center sits exactly in the old brewery's footprint!

The brewery at the Conference Center Sculpture Garden site
(Sick's Brewery via Salem Library Historic Photo)
As a side note, the State Library's got a couple of unidentified photos that we can place.

In the background of both of them, you can see the Marion/Chemeketa Hotel.

They are the alley and back courtyard or service area for the brewery, looking north from Trade Street!

Salem Brewery Courtyard, Oregon State Library

Alley off Salem Brewery Courtyard, Oregon State Library
Though the State Library dates the images circa 1930, the hotel was remodeled in 1910 on a design by Louis Hazeltine. So we can date these courtyard images to before 1910. (You can see two different exposures, one lighter and one darker, of a large image of the hotel in the Libarary's photo collection. The Library's history pages do not seem to be indexed for google searching anymore, and they are hard to find. Here's the history of the hotel.)

Hazeltine remodel of hotel in 1910
Statesman, January 1, 1911

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