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December 30, 2008 10:11 PM   Subscribe

When her Japanese-American husband was sent to internment camps in California and Wyoming, Estelle Peck Ishigo chose to accompany him. An art-school teacher fired for her interracial marriage, she documented the three-and-a-half-year ordeal in a short memoir and hundreds of sketches and paintings.

Despite a brief flurry of interest in her art in the early 1970s, Estelle faded again into obscurity until discovered by filmmaker Steven Okazaki wasting away in a Hollywood convalescent hospital.
Unwilling to accept the hospital director's claim that she was insane, Okazaki persevered, and as he suspected, found her heavily medicated but able to comprehend what he wanted. "I've been waiting for someone to tell my story to," she said. "Then I can die."
Okazaki told Estelle's story in his 1990 film, Days of Waiting, which won both an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject and a Peabody Award. She died before a screening could be arranged. [previously]
posted by Knappster (6 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful - thank you.
posted by Rumple at 10:37 PM on December 30, 2008

p. 4, "His master could find no one who would keep this little dog - because his master was Japanese.

"He could not be left alone in the empty house to starve.

"So, they took him out for one last walk - to a veterinary. . . ."

Aw, man.

Haven't read it all yet but what a great story and resource. Thank you.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:04 PM on December 30, 2008

Heart Mountain Camp today.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:51 PM on December 30, 2008

This stuff is incredible, thanks.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:24 AM on December 31, 2008

I didn't link to it directly, but there is some amazing stuff in this collection of textual records. Estelle lobbied for "more equable laws" regarding interracial marriages after she was denied compensation under the Evacuation Claims Act.

She never bought the government's line that it was interning the Nisei for their own protection. Her short story "To Protect the Innocent" ends, "Cultivated prejudice breeds sophisticated ignorance, corrupt education and hypocracy [sic]. Society thus contaminated pretends to protect the innocent, making beggars, slaves and death."
posted by Knappster at 1:19 AM on December 31, 2008

Look at this one.
posted by footnote at 2:20 PM on December 31, 2008

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