Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Camp correspondents and column in The Review – Mary Woodward (OH0086)


They hired Paul Ohtaki, he was the first one. He said, “Okay you folks are being taken, we don’t know where, but when they get there, we want to know what’s going on with islanders. So talk to people, get the gossip, find out who’s getting married, find out who won the baseball game, who’s the catcher on the team, what kind of jobs are people doing there, who’s sick, who might die.” Later in the war when the Japanese were again included in the armed services, “Who’s in uniform, and who’s been wounded”. So every week, there was a column reporting the news initially from Manzanar, and then from Minidoka about what islanders were doing who were away from home.

They always presented it that way. That these are our neighbors who are away for awhile. They’re going to be coming home and we want to keep up on their lives. That… I think that was just brilliant on their part, just brilliant. Because it had that effect. It had the effect of… we knew when Fudge and Tad got married. We knew when David was born. We knew when Kay and Sam got married and when Bruce was born. People, could keep up on that. They were always identified not as… not as Jerry Nakata from Manzanar has as a .50 batting average, whatever that is, but it was Jerry Nakata of Winslow. They were always identified by the area, where they had lived on the island. So they were still… they were still Bainbridge residents there. People were able to keep up not only with those who were away in camp who could read what was happening on the island, but the opposite was true.

Paul eventually went into the MIS, and was in the Pacific as an interpreter, along with, there were about 6000 others who went to the Pacific which was not publicized. Nobody knew that that was happening… interesting that it wasn’t…. But when he went, Sada Omoto was the… very briefly, before he also went back to school. Then Tony Koura was… for about a year…. Then he left and convinced his sister, Sachiko Koura Nakata, at that time Koura, to take over the job and so it continued all the way through. Couple of times, they didn’t feel like they were doing it well. Paul…”I can’t write, I don’t… I don’t, I’m not a reporter.” My folks would send him letters saying, “No, this is very important. We need to know what’s happening. This is an important part of the paper and people appreciate it… they like this so you gotta keep it up.” And they did.

Video Interview — August, 2007

Mary Woodward

Mary Woodward Pratt is the youngest daughter of Walt and Milly Woodward, owners of the Bainbridge Review during World War Two. The Review was the only newspaper to use its editorials to consistently speak out against the exclusion and internment of Japanese Americans. In 2008 Mary authored the book In Defense of our Neighbors, which records how the Review helped create an environment that was friendly to those who, like the editors, strongly opposed the exclusion.