Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey

Born in Los Angeles, incarcerated at Amache, educated in Boston and Utah, Lily currently lives in Salt Lake City with husband John. She taught school for 13 years and had a stained glass business for more than three decades from which she is semi-retired. She is a watercolor artist and has written a creative autobiography “Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth Behind a World War II Fence,” which will be published by the University of Utah Press in the spring of 2014.

Updated August 2012

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Temple 7G - Part 3

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There were two Buddhist “temples” at blocks 7G and 12G. My mother and I attended the closer one at 7G. For the first few months a table with a bowl of incense sticks served as the altar. I remembered the Los Angeles temple where incense smoke engulfed me as soon as I stepped into the hall. A shimmering gold Buddha dominated the front. We bowed in gassho. My mother told me that the beads on the long rosary twisting from the priest’s hand were carved from the holy Bodhi tree. Beneath its branches Buddha meditated for years ...

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Temple 7G - Part 2

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Piano practice in Amache was a challenge and was interrupted by more than wind storms. At one afternoon session I heard tapping on the window. Three friends, Eva, Tami, and Katy peeked in. I smiled. Tic, tic, tic. They continued pecking. I glanced up. Tami began to strike the glass with a rock.

I cried out, “Stop that!” and doggedly finished my scales. Eva began to sing off key. “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb…” Tami and Katy pounded on the wall.

It was useless. My practice was spoiled. When I stepped outside they scurried away like ...

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Temple 7G - Part 1

From the trunk my mother packed in Los Angeles, I retrieved my metronome and my set of “The Scribner Radio Music Library,” each volume lovingly protected with Kraft paper by my mother.  The set, as with my piano lessons and the piano itself, were purchased on the “payment plan,” with money that my mother put aside dollar by dollar.  I asked her why she had packed them.

 “So you can practice,” my mother commented.

“With no piano?”  I asked, half sad and half glad at that notion.

“We'll find one.”

 “We will?”

What was she thinking?  I had had ...

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Phyla, etcetera - Part 3

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Unlike summer 's eruption, fall crept in day by day. The sagebrush clung to their dusty gray color but became more brittle. The moths, mosquitoes, and rattlers retreated. We folded and stored the mosquito nets. The jack rabbits were the only animals that I saw regularly, hopping nervously to the fence for the cook's scraps. The coyotes howled less urgently, or perhaps they migrated south. I was told that coyotes, too, fed on the food by the fence, but were more stealthy.

 “They eat babies, too,” Eva told me. “When a girl gets pregnant and doesn't ...

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Phyla, etcetera - Part 2

>> Part 1

Outside of school we of course played games. The summer heat was a challenge so outdoor games began at dusk. “Annie, Annie, Over,” we chanted as we tossed a tennis ball over a barrack. Eva, Tami, Katy and I usually stood on one side and other friends—and we even let boys play—on the other side. The aim was to catch the ball and dash with it to the other side and tag someone. There was something sinister playing in that muted light, as if we were chanting a spell, attempting to raise dead spirits from a ...

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