History sometimes has a way of explaining what is not readily obvious at first glance. This photo taken at Tacoma Union Station ran on the front page of the May 17, 1942 issue of the Tacoma Times with the caption “Goodbye for the Duration”. Six year old Yukie Suekawa, her family and 900 Tacomans of Japanese descent were loading onto special trains headed to the Pinedale Assembly Facility near Fresno California. Because Tacoma was near the military base at Camp Lewis, the Japanese American community was among the first group to be sent to inland internment camps. Later in 1942, The Puyallup Fairgrounds would be fenced and livestock barns converted to housing units for families from Seattle and Alaska. But the Tacoma and Fife Valley residents, 2/3rds of which were U.S. citizens, were among the first in the country to be forced from their homes with only the baggage they could carry. There is a very brave smile on Yukie’s face, encouraged a bit by her father who wears a required identity tag and a more reflective expression of some concern about his family’s future. The Times banner headline read “Smiles Prevail as Japanese Leave”. The irony could not have been missed by Pvt. Howard L. Loudermilk as he tightens the bonnet on Yukie’s doll, as if to tell the little girl “don’t be afraid”. Timeless advice.

Yukie

Written by tacomahistory

This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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