SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah museum is opening to honor thousands of Japanese Americans held in a remote Utah internment camp during World War II, and the family of one its designers was among those that suffered during that era.
The Mano family had to leave their home in California in 1942 and hide in a chicken coop in Layton to avoid being interred, the Ogden Standard-Examiner reported (http://bit.ly/2uzthWS).
Eisaku Mano had built a thriving produce business in Los Angeles, but had to sell everything for pennies on the dollar after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the executive order that forced 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans into internment camps, ostensibly to avoid sabotage and spying.
Among the places they were sent was the Topaz internment camp, which was located about 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The camp was open between 1942 and 1945 and more than 11,000 people, most from the San Francisco Bay Area, were processed into the camp.
A museum honoring the people kept there was celebrating its grand opening Friday and Saturday. Eisaku Mano’s grandson Darin Mano became interested in the history of the camp and helped design the building in nearby Delta that holds photographs, artifacts and reconstructed barracks from the camp site.
The Mano family fled to Utah because Eisaku Mano’s wife was originally from Clinton, their daughter Irene Mano Mori wrote about the family’s history.
The family of seven eventually moved to a rental home in West Bountiful, where they farmed and worked through years of grinding poverty.
“Losing everything and being beaten down is not an easy thing from which to recover,” she wrote. “(Our father) worked very hard his whole life but never again got ahead financially.”
She remembered being refused service at a restaurant and called names as a child. After World War II ended, discrimination and prejudice remained.
Her brother Ron Mano would go on to work for the National Japanese American Credit Union in Salt Lake City.
It was started because few lenders would work with Japanese-Americans after the war, leaving them unable to rebuild the lives they had to leave behind when entering the camps, said Ron Mano, who was also an accounting professor at Weber State University.
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net