OPERATION OF MANZANAR WAR RELOCATION CENTER, JANUARY 1943 - NOVEMBER 1945 (continued)
Following the violence at Manzanar on December 6, 1942, industrial operations were suspended for several weeks, while the WRA "management took stock of the situation." Some of the plans for industrial development within the relocation centers were dropped, because the WRA was concerned that development of activities in the centers which would tend to turn them into places of "permanent abode" would undermine its evacuee relocation program. The senior manufacturing superintendent at Manzanar was transferred to other duties, and his assistant. Harry R. Haberle, who had 25 years of experience in various manufacturing enterprises, was assigned the task of "carrying out a limited industrial program" which would "stress vocational training and the development of new skills among the evacuees, rather than production of articles for a consumer market." The center administrators soon determined that a number of production units at the center would be transferred to his supervision.
At the height of its activity, the industrial section employed about 300 persons. In addition, the various activities of the industrial section enabled "scores of unskilled evacuees, especially women" to develop skills which would help them obtain employment in private industry when they relocated. It was estimated that at least 50 percent of those employed "learned a new skill or became more proficient in a skill already known."
During the summer of 1944, the accelerated relocation program at Manzanar resulted in the rapid loss of manpower to operate essential services in the center. Accordingly, the WRA determined to curtail all activities not essential to the minimum operations of the center. Thus, the work of the industrial section terminated on September 30, 1944, and its food-processing units were transferred to the mess section.
Clothing Factory. The clothing factory had been commenced with six "domestic electric sewing machines" in the ironing room of Block 2 in August 1942. By January 1943, two warehouses were converted for use as a factory, power sewing machines received from the Works Projects Administration were installed, and the "complete factory began operation."
A survey found that only one evacuee at Manzanar had operated "a power machine on a production line" prior to evacuation. This evacuee, a young woman, was employed as the first "chief operator" to aid in teaching the clothing manufacturing trade to others. The new WRA-appointed superintendent of manufacturing, having supervised garment factories for years, "personally took charge of the operation and trained the operators as they were recruited." As a result, "inexperienced workers were trained into designers, pattern makers, cutters, machine operators, floorladies, and machinists, all skilled workers capable of handling any type of power machine on any type of production line in the garment industry." These skills aided many of the workers to acquire jobs in the American garment industry, particularly in the midwestern states, when they relocated.
The factory produced garments from "baby layettes to tailored suits." The largest orders, however, were for "overalls, coveralls, hospital uniforms, children's dresses, and shirts and blouses." It produced nurses' aide uniforms for all centers, as well as a large percentage of nurses', doctors', and Janitors' uniforms. These items were produced for the WRA and furnished to evacuees as work clothes, or they were provided to Manzanar Cooperative Enterprises which paid the WRA wholesale prices and sold the articles to the evacuees at the camp's general store. Clothing manufactured for sale through the cooperative consisted primarily of articles which could not be purchased in the open market and which the evacuees needed.
The clothing factory, which made a profit throughout its operation, employed an average of 65 persons. Between June 1943 and June 1944, the factory produced 39,930 garments, and at its close in September 1944 it was producing an average of 4,000 garments a month having a value of $4,500.
Furniture Shop. Because many types of furniture were needed by the center during its early months of operation, the engineering section initially supervised the men "who worked the machines obtained" from the National Youth Administration. In February 1943, all cabinet-making machinery and crews were placed under direction of the industrial section, which immediately "concentrated on a program of making" desks, chairs, and filing cabinets desperately needed at the expanding relocation center "by streamlining the cabinet shop, and working out 'assembly line' methods of production."
The evacuee foreman in charge of the furniture shop was a "finished cabinetmaker." The superintendent of manufacturing also aided the shop by organizing "production lines" and training "the unit in mass production methods." Although lumber and materials were difficult to procure, a "source of magnolia wood was discovered which was not for the moment in demand." Enough of this " in 1 x 6 and 1 x 12 widths" was acquired to be used "for all desks, cabinets, and some chairs, to serve for the duration of the project."
Between June 1943 and June 1944, the furniture shop produced 5,931 articles of furniture for the center, "mainly executive and secretarial desks, chairs for these desks, filing cabinets, stationery cabinets, baby cribs for the Children's Village, and chairs for Manzanar school." Between July and September 1944, when it was discontinued and returned to the engineering section to be used for center maintenance work, the shop produced an additional 923 articles of furniture. During its operation, the shop "regularly employed" 22 men, 20 of whom secured jobs in furniture factories or cabinet shops throughout the country when they relocated.
In late 1943, the furniture shop supplemented its regular operations by producing Christmas toys from "the odd and short pieces of lumber which had been carefully saved for months." After being painted in an improvised paint shop, the toys were sold to the Manzanar Cooperative Enterprises, which in turn retailed them to the evacuees.
Alterations Shop. Early in 1943, the alterations shop was turned over to the industrial section, and its 17 women employees were set up in a room in the clothing factory where they had access to materials necessary for their work. The shop was needed because many of the garments (work clothing, P coats, and other woolen outer clothing) which the evacuees were able to purchase from the WRA warehouse or obtain through distribution of the community welfare department were too large. The shop altered approximately 300 garments a month. After the industrial section closed, the alterations shop was transferred back to the welfare division, where it continued to operate until the center closed.
Typewriter Repair. In January 1943, the typewriter repair crew was transferred to the industrial section, where it continued servicing center typewriters. Late in 1943, when parts became almost impossible to procure, a contract was let to an outside service company, and the center's typewriter repair shop was disbanded.
Sign Shop. The sign shop was transferred to the industrial section in early 1943 and placed under the supervision of a commercial artist who had been employed in a motion picture studio prior to evacuation. This evacuee "was allowed to have five workers on his 'staff' and to train them," while turning out needed signs for center management. Among the types of signs made in the shop were directional, road, office identification, bulletin board, and warning.
The sign shop operated until April 1944. By the time of its closure, it had trained ten men, all of whom were able to find commercial artist Jobs when they relocated. The evacuee manager relocated to Washington, D. C., where he joined the advertising department staff of the Washington Post as a commercial artist.
Domestic Sewing Machine Repair Unit. In early 1943, a crew of five evacuees was turned over to the superintendent of manufacturing for training to service center domestic sewing machines owned by the WRA. At the outset of the project, 100 machines, which had been obtained from surplus government stocks, were in use in the center's schools and block managers' offices. A small shop, including a lathe, irons, and welding equipment, was set up in the clothing factory, and its crew maintained the center's "domestic machines," "even when new parts had to be made from raw material." The shop serviced about 80 machines per week.
Mattress Factory. To meet the pressing need for mattresses in the center, a mattress factory was established at Manzanar in January 1944, employing 19 persons, only one of whom had prior experience in the trade. Thus, the factory, which produced 800 mattresses a week, also served as a "training school." After all center residents had mattresses, the factory was disbanded in August 1944.
Food Processing Units. In early 1943, the industrial section "was given the job of organizing all food processing" in the center, which at that time included shoyu, bean-sprout, and tofu operations. The section's responsibility was to "see that the products met health and nutritional standards, that labor difficulties were ironed out, and that the product or products reached the mess hall tables and did not go to the individual apartments."
When the industrial section closed in September 1944, the food processing units were transferred to the mess section.
The shoyu plant produced approximately 1,500 gallons per month, employed three evacuee employees, and produced shoyu at a cost lower than the mess section could procure in outside markets. The evacuees at the center "were particularly eager to make this product as the kind available to them on the open market did not meet their standard."
Established in October 1942, the bean sprout plant employed four men and produced an average of 7,000 pounds of bean sprouts per month.
Opened in August 1942 and reorganized in January 1943, the tofu plant soon reached a production average of "10,000 one and one-fourth pound cakes per month." Eight evacuees were employed. Daily production commenced at 4:00 A.M., thus enabling the fresh cakes to be delivered to the mess halls in the afternoon in time for the evening meal.
In September 1943, a pickling plant was established to "utilize excess vegetables coming daily from the farm during harvest, and also to keep down home pickling." The plant "pickled 105,000 pounds of excess vegetables, mainly root crops," which were used in the mess hall the following year,
Between harvests, the pickling crew manufactured miso, a sauce used to flavor baked and fried foods and salads. During 1944, the miso operation produced 36,000 pounds of miso for use in the mess halls.
In May 1943, a swarm of wild bees was caught by an evacuee ex-beekeeper who proceeded to "add more hives whenever he could obtain permission to visit the sagebrush slopes west of the Center." During the fall of 1943, the bee-keeping activities of this evacuee were placed under the industrial section, and he was placed on the section's payroll and furnished with wood and nails to build new hives. The number of hives expanded to 50, and the first crop of 170 gallons of honey was distributed to the mess halls.
Responsibility for the storage of Manzanar's vegetable crop was placed under the industrial section in 1943. During the summer, a root cellar was constructed and the vegetables, including Irish potatoes, onions, winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage, were sorted, cleaned, and stored. Except for sweet potatoes, which "suffered 30 percent loss because of inadequate circulation," these vegetable were stored "with less than normal shrinkage." The stored vegetables were distributed to the mess halls until April 1944.
A vegetable dehydrating plant was constructed at Manzanar in 1943 "using surplus parts and scrap." The plant "successfully dehydrated some 200,000 pounds of vegetables," which amounted to the "daily surplus not used by the kitchens during the farm harvest." The most successful crops to be dehydrated were peas, beans, carrots, and turnips. The dehydrating plant was so successful "that designers" in the Department of Agriculture "paid several visits to Manzanar for the purpose of incorporating some of its features into their own." 
Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002