On John Okada’s "No-No Boy"
3. John Okada, Writer and World War II Veteran
← 114 | 115 → 3. John Okada, Writer and World War II Veteran
John Okada was born on September 23, 1923, in an upstairs room of the Merchant’s Hotel in Seattle’s Pioneer Square to Yoshito (“Fred”) and Takayo Ota Okada.398 Fred had arrived in the United States from Hiroshima in 1913 in his late teens to work on the Montana railroads. With money saved he returned to Japan and married, only to come back to the US after WWI. John Okada and his family continued to live at the Merchant’s Hotel until 1931 while his father ran numerous low budget lodgings in the city,399 including the Yakima and Pacific Hotels, both of which the family stayed in as well. In Seattle, Okada went to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School as well as Broadway High School. Fred was very supportive and made sure that all of his children would attend college. At the University of ← 115 | 116 → Washington, Okada attended classes in narrative and dramatic writing, history and sociology and took an interest in British literature. During his sophomore year there, he and his family were first incarcerated at Puyallup Assembly Center (PuAC) located inside the Puyallup Fairgrounds about 35 miles south of Seattle. With 13 centers located in California, two in western Arizona and only one each in Oregon and all of Washington State, most internees from the Pacific Northwest were first interned there. The population soon peaked at over 7,000 evacuees. They endured chaotic living conditions, overcrowding and poor sanitation in makeshift army barracks under shed roofs. The first prisoners had...
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