Karoline Morrison recently had a flashback of a cold spring morning in 1942 when her Japanese classmates were rounded up and taken away. She learned of a citizen movement to change the name of Dearborn Street back to its original name, "Mikado Street" and endorses this effort.
Forget Pearl Harbor
By Karoline Morrison
I recently appeared on KING Television’s “New Day” show to discuss my book about my life in Hollywood during the “Golden Age” of movies. After the show, I was surprised to find a crowd of young schoolgirls from Japan waiting for me in the lobby. They had been in the studio audience and now hoped to have pictures taken with me. Of course, I was delighted to comply. As I posed with my arms around their little shoulders, hugging them close to me, I had a sudden and vivid recollection of another time in my life with young Japanese girls.
It was a cold spring morning in 1942. As I approached Beacon Hill Elementary School for another day in the sixth grade, I saw a strange-looking bus parked on the playground. I stopped to watch and could see that two girls in my class were being escorted into the strange vehicle. I asked an eighth-grade boy standing nearby what was going on. He replied, "They're rounding up all the Japs and taking them to a prison camp in Idaho."
I was dumbfounded. "What have they done? They're just little kids like me." I had become good friends with Grace Yamashita and Toshiko Nakamura, partly because school kids were lined up in the hallway by height, the shortest first, when we went from classroom to classroom. Toshiko first, Grace second and then me. We had joked about our size, calling ourselves the "Napoleons,” small but great leaders. Without Grace and Toshiko, school would no longer be fun and I would become a reluctant leader. I started crying.
I never heard anything about them again. I never got to hug, wave or say goodbye. But in those moments in the KING-TV lobby I felt a warmth of love sweep over me. Those hugs were also for Grace and Toshiko, wherever they are. God bless them all—Grace and Toshiko and those beautiful little girls from Japan!
I have recently learned of a citizen movement to change the name of Dearborn Street back to its original name, "Mikado Street." I heartily endorse this meaningful gesture. It's about time! and place!
Morrison is the author of a new memoir about the end of an era in Hollywood when blondes ruled. Twilight of the Blondes (Tigress Publishing ISBN: 978-1-59404-042-9)