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Readers recall Japanese man from ND interned during WWII

Harry Hayashi. Special to The Forum

One of the kids Charles Linderman of Carrington, N.D., went through school with in Carrington was Bob Hayashi, or "Bobby, as we knew him when he was little," Charles writes Neighbors.

Bob was the son of Harry and Anna Hayashi. Harry was the man who was born in Japan, came to the U.S., and eventually settled in Carrington, where he opened and ran a cafe called the Miami Grill, married Anna, and then was detained as an "enemy alien" during World War II. It is believed he was the only Japanese person in North Dakota to be incarcerated during the war.

When he was released after the war ended, he returned to Carrington and opened the Rainbow Gardens, the region's first motel.

He died in 1954.

His story was sent to Neighbors and published here last summer. That led Charles, who worked outside of North Dakota after college and then returned to Carrington to farm for 40 years, to write about the Hayashis' son Bob.

"I was born in 1944, so I assume Bob was also," Charles says. "We both graduated from high school in 1962. I know he had older brothers and a sister, but they were enough older that I didn't know them. One brother, whose name I think was George, had a restaurant in Valley City (N.D.)"

"Bob was a good student, active in curricular activities and well liked by others," Charles says.

"He was senior class president.

"I recall that in grade school, many of our classmates apparently had fathers, brothers or other relatives who had returned from fighting (in the war), and they (Charles' classmates) would play war games on the playground, making sounds of machine-gun fire and saying they were shooting Japs. It didn't mean anything to me at the time. My own father was too old to be involved in the war. But in later years, I have wondered if Bob felt any discomfort about that."

Charles remembers when Harry died and he believes Anna and her sister, Rose Firlus, continued to operate the Miami Grill at least until Bob graduated.

"My wife and I remember Anna attending Mass at the Catholic church in Carrington for several years after we moved back to Carrington in 1976. My wife also thinks she remembers the funeral Mass for Anna being in Carrington." Anna died in 1994 at age 90.

"I sort of remember the Rainbow Gardens and its unique design," Charles says. "It was constructed around a lush Japanese-style garden, with the cafe and a dance hall attached. The dance hall existed for many years, at least into the late 1980s," Charles says.

The Gardens

Oh yes, the Rainbow Gardens. That's where Micheal Farley's grandfather worked around 1936 or 1937.

Micheal, of Bismarck, sends what his grandfather, William Bragg, wrote in his life story he wrote for his family:

"The summer after my second year of high school in Carrington," William wrote, "I got a job at the Rainbow Gardens. The Rainbow Gardens was probably about a square block with a lot of flowers, rocks, trees, paths, etc. It had a large goldfish pond in the center and was a beautiful place.

"At one end was a dance hall and restaurant, and at the other end was a large building that had a sort of front room. In back was a large room with stoves and booths where tourists renting the cabins could cook and eat. Also, there were restrooms on each side and a laundry and storage room.

"Starting up near the dance hall and going down one side were 14 double cabins, making 28 rooms for tourists numbered 1 to 29 — no number 13.

"This was the days before motels, at least in that area.

"My job," William went on, "was to take care of the rock garden and rent out the cabins.

"I slept on a fold-out davenport in the big room of that building and was there to take care of the renting of the cabins 24 hours a day.

"The owner was Japanese, Harry T. Hayashi. His wife, Annie, was a German woman, and work was their whole life, and they expected me to do the same.

"It was a pretty good job considering a lot of guys were working out in the hayfields and the like for a dollar a day. I got $25 the first month and $30 a month after that.

"When I got paid we got right in Harry's Oldsmobile and went down to the bank, and my check went in the bank.

"When I look back now, I know he was trying to help me, and I should have stayed with the job and listened to him, but after a couple months, I quit and went back to the farm.

"During the war, he (Harry) and his wife were coming out of church on Sunday morning, and a couple guys stepped up and took him away. I think he was held in a camp at Bismarck for the duration of the war."

Correct. As Curt Eriksmoen, Forum North Dakota history columnist and author of "Fascinating North Dakotans, Volume 8," wrote in his book, Harry was interned at Fort Lincoln, near Bismarck, for three years.

Curt's book includes more details about Harry and his internment and what Curt says is the "greatest North Dakota injustice of the 20th century."

One more thing

While Neighbors has been told that Harry was the only Japanese person in North Dakota to be interned during World War, Virginia Becker, McHenry, N.D., wonders if this true.

Virginia, who says she attended many dances at the Rainbow Gardens, writes that she went to high school in New Rockford, north of Carrington, during the war.

"One of my classmates was Huygene Fujiwara, whose father was also detained; at least that is what we were told, but not by the family; it was general knowledge," she says.

Neighbors could find nothing about this other person being detained. Can anybody out there shed light on this matter?

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email