Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

War hysteria in newspapers – Mary Woodward (OH0082)


There were lots of rumors that were reported, and particularly in the California papers, about submarines, they are landing and they are going to come ashore, and we have all these people in our midst. The way that it was described, with innuendo, with no direct, but… “Why are all of these Japanese around the military installations? Why are they all around the airports?” Well, they were around the military installations and the airports because that was garbage land that nobody wanted, and they had taken it. Through their skill had created great agricultural land out of it. But they didn’t go there because the military installations were there, the military installations grew up after they were there, but the implication was that they were surrounding so that they could see… I’ve read some of the FBI reports about island Japanese and one… your grandfather is described as being suspicious because he traveled the ferry — he worked as a jeweler — and he traveled the ferry and he delivered packages to some of the Japanese ships. Well, people had bought jewelry, he was delivering… and also, he and two other Japanese men were “gathering clams” on the beach overlooking Rich passage on the way to Bremerton, you know. They were down digging clams and somehow that was looked at as being suspicious.

The PI and the Times were great at reporting …Oh, arrows of fire pointing toward Boeing. The island Japanese have planted their rows of strawberries pointing toward Bangor or Keyport or… Pick a direction on Bainbridge Island that doesn’t point to a military installation. We are surrounded by them. So, you couldn’t win. And some people bought them, and it just added to that. Also, there were the Issei, the aliens, who were picked up. Those always got big headlines. When they were released, that didn’t get a headline.

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.