February 3, 2009

Sad news from Seattle: One of our major daily newspapers is succumbing to the sea change in the media market and the swamping of the economy. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has been put up for sale. No one expects a buyer to step forward, and the Hearst owners say they will close the paper down in March.
Apart from liking more rather than less research and reporting, Densho is touched by the P-I’s passing because the paper was the source of many striking photos of Japanese Americans being forced by the Army from their homes on Bainbridge Island in March 1942. If you’ve seen any photos of that sad episode, you’ve probably seen this one of Fumiko Hayashida carrying her sleeping child Natalie. The little girl is tagged like a bundle of laundry.

In her interview with Densho, Fumi says she wasn’t aware of a photographer, being a bit preoccupied. She was worried about how to care for her two small children and a third one on the way. Rumors had it that Manzanar, their destination, was “a Death Valley with scorpions and rattlesnakes.” A far cry from the green island home she and more than 200 other Japanese Americans left behind that early spring day. We’re grateful the Seattle P-I captured the moment for history.