Preface. This brief explanatory note is for those who may be unfamiliar with two terms in the title. STIC is the acronym for Santo Tomas Internment Camp, a WWII (World War II) prison in Manila, Philippines, established by the Imperial Japanese Army. STIC housed several thousand Allied nationals (American, British, etc.) for 37 months during 1942-1945. And one other important point needs emphasis: much of the following account has been made possible by material unearthed by ace internet sleuth Cliff Mills.
To clarify at the outset, the internee icon of the title is STIC’s late great Master of Entertainment, David Harvey MacTurk, better known to one and all as Dave Harvey. Additionally, Harvey was not personally involved in solving the cited mystery. So, just what is his connection to this brief offshoot from a much broader and much longer work? As to the latter, I have been working on what I believe will be the definitive Harvey biography— if only because it will be the first and the only one in existence. In the process, I have completed a portion of the narrative that at best is only tangentially related to the biography as a whole, for it deals with a matter of mainly personal interest. (It is one of many such matters I never thought to ask my parents about, when that was still possible.) I decided to present the aforesaid portion separately from, and before completion of, the biography for several reasons: to thereby spread awareness of the biography; in so doing, perhaps to also induce interest in it; and, more practically, to shorten the finished product. And now on to the mystery and its (perceived) solution. Continue reading
Thanks to internet sleuth nonpareil Cliff Mills, an interesting but little-known connection has come to light between the Philippines and an American tennis giant. The latter was none other than Dwight F. Davis (1879-1945), who was Governor General of the Philippines from 1929 to 1932. (Unfortunately, during his tenure I was a bit too young to hit with him or to otherwise benefit from his court expertise.) Davis ranks as a tennis giant in large part because he was the founder of the Davis Cup international tennis competition. The extremely brief — actually, skeletal — outline of his record below to introduce this topic is from Wikipedia; it is followed by two 1929 Manila newspaper articles (unearthed by Cliff Mills, himself a tennis enthusiast); and then by somewhat more detailed coverage of Davis’ background and history to round out this historical footnote. Continue reading
INTRODUCTION. The first order of business for a memoir such as this is to try to anticipate, and to answer, the most likely questions it may raise, in order to minimize any potential uncertainties and/or misconceptions. This Introduction seeks to do just that, dealing first with the title and then broadly with the memoir as a whole. Possible queries about the former, unlike the case with the latter, can be foreseen with specificity, for obviously they will pertain to the title’s individual words and terms; thus each of these will be clarified in turn. [Note: Anyone interested mainly in the event itself and not in terminological issues may wish to proceed directly to the next section, titled “Essential Prerequisites.”] [Note: First, though, a point of procedure to note — to avoid footnotes, only author’s names (and page numbers if relevant) are included in the text; full titles of cited works are listed at the end.]
To begin with, even the innocuous and seemingly inconsequential word “The” requires clarification. That is because, if “A” had been used instead, the phrase “A bar mitzvah” might have conveyed the erroneous impression that there were other bar mitzvahs that took place in similar circumstances. But there is absolutely nothing on the record to indicate that anything of the kind ever happened. Indeed, the mere idea of such a thing no doubt would evoke — from those familiar with the historical record — reactions of astonishment, incredulity, and/or even mirth. The fact is that, on the contrary, “during World War II, Jews interned in concentration camps were unable to mark their symbolic transformation[s] from children into. . . adulthood” with bar mitzvahs. [Quoted from Haaretz.com ]
As context for understanding the term “bar mitzvah,” virtually all societies observe so-called rites of passage; these involve ceremonies indicating that certain individuals or groups are eligible, usually based on age, to pass from one status to another, often defined in religious terms. The bar mitzvah — Hebrew for “son of the commandment” — is the Jewish rite of passage, or “symbolic transformation.” Normally observed with a ceremony in a synagogue, it signifies that a male has reached the age of 13, or religious adulthood, and thus is now qualified to fulfill all the commandments of his religion. (For females, the equivalent term is “bat mitzvah” — a relatively recent innovation, dating to 1922.)
This article was originally published in the CPOW newsletter, Beyond the Wire, in September 2021. Additional articles by Prof. Meadows are listed following this piece.
INTRODUCTION It has been more than 76 years since I was among the nearly 4,000 American and other Allied-country nationals who were liberated from Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) on 3 February 1945. Despite that passage of time, however, I continue to harbor two grievances concerning the U.S. coverage of two related but separate and distinct subjects linked to World War II (WWII): (1) The American public’s virtually total ignorance of the subject of Japan’s WWII American civilian captives, or internees; and (2) the sharp contrast between that lack of coverage and the extensive (and continuing) amount of attention accorded in the U.S. to the subject of U.S. government treatment of WWII Japanese-American internees. This analysis will discuss each grievance in turn, focusing on the main reasons for the contrasting nature of the coverage, and on how that difference contributed to the failures and successes, respectively, of the American and the Japanese-American efforts to achieve restitution. Lastly, this study will examine certain neglected aspects of the subject at issue in the concluding section.
Before proceeding, several distinctions and clarifications should be cited, for the sake of accuracy (and to forestall potential criticisms); but brevity dictates that not all of them will be used here. They include the following: (1) In the context of this survey, the term “Japanese-American” is not always appropriate, as not all those of Japanese descent in the U.S. and in the then Territory of Hawaii were U.S. citizens during WWII. (2) The word commonly used to include all diaspora ethnic Japanese, regardless of their citizenship, is Nikkei; a term used herein, though not comparable, is “Japanese-American community.” (3) Because not all Japanese-Americans were interned, it would be inaccurate to refer to them — although I do so — as “internees” (as distinguished from military prisoners, or “POWS”). (4) To simplify, instead of using the terms “former internees” or “ex-internees,” they will be referred to simply as “internees.” Finally, a note to emphasize that my grievances are not personal; this survey is the outcome not of prejudice, antipathy and/or bitterness, but rather of an examination of the historical record.
Music in a WWII Internment Camp
Introduction. “Music is the art of arranging sound. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies” (Wikipedia).
Similarly, music is also a key element — interestingly, perhaps oddly — of internment-camp life, although that is not always fully acknowledged, or even recognized. As such, music is one component in such camps of what I call the Diversion Factor. The latter encompasses those activities that can serve at least two important functions: acting as a unifying element for camp prisoners; and offering them distractions from the burdensome reality of captivity. The concern here, in other words, is only with those activities that can unify and/or be enjoyed by a camp’s inmates as a whole, as distinguished from their purely personal or group pastimes/distractions (card games, chess, reading, etc.).
The next section will trace the nature and scope of the Diversion Factor in a particular internment Camp, to provide context for examining that Camp’s musical component (Camp is capitalized to distinguish it from the generic internment camp). But to begin with, three points of clarification relating to the title are in order. First, for anyone unfamiliar with the subject, the acronym STIC refers to Manila’s Nipponese-controlled Santo Tomas Internment Camp (a.k.a. Manila Internment Camp). STIC’s 4,000 or so civilian inmates — Allied-country nationals, mostly Americans — endured over three years of privation (1942-1945), culminating in starvation rations, during World War II (WWII).
Second, the term “Signature Songs” refers to those musical works I consider to be the most reflective and representative of everyday Camp existence, and thus in a sense also of Camp history in general. In effect, the four compositions I have selected as Signature Songs are the equivalent of Camp theme songs, even anthems, and as such their study can provide insights, for former internees and especially for non-internees alike, into the nature of Camp life. Rephrased to drive the point home, this survey of the most noteworthy STIC-related music seeks to portray its role in and significance for Camp life — as based, again, on my own judgment.
Third, this study aims to ascertain the sources — meaning the composers and the recording artists — of the four Signature Songs. For this account goes beyond simply identifying and describing the songs in question. The fact is that information about sources — aside from being worthwhile (to some) for its own sake — can provide additional insights into Camp history. Last (and surely least), the very process of seeking such information (regardless of success) serves to satisfy my personal interests, including my sense of order. But enough of preliminaries; we now turn to the substantive portions of this STIC-music retrospective.
[The following article was originally distributed by Maurice Francis to his WWII Philippine Internment Email List. If you would like to be added to his list, please send a message using the Comments form. Following the article, I have recapped the previous contributions by Prof. Meadows.]
Encounters With STIC Guards (or, “Nippon” at My Heels)
by Martin Meadows
INTRODUCTION. Whenever anyone asks me what life was like during more than three years in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (STIC) in Manila, one question in particular is sure to arise. That question, usually a follow-up to the most obvious ones about food and housing conditions, concerns the treatment of internees by the camp’s Nipponese guards. When that once again came up during a recent radio interview, it prompted me to decide to provide as detailed an answer as memory would allow (certainly one far too detailed for any sort of interview). This is a purely personal account, one which should not be considered as necessarily applying to the experiences of STIC internees in general. In the following discussion, I distinguish between what I call “routine” and “non-routine” encounters with guards. The former deals with “normal” or every-day kinds of encounters, meaning the type that most internees would have undergone; the latter covers a limited number of interactions which were not “normal,” in the sense that very few other internees would have experienced them. And, to be properly pedantic as befitting a former professor, I further divide (and sub-divide) each of those two major kinds of encounters.
I. ROUTINE ENCOUNTERS. In this classification I distinguish between two types, which I call “random” and “non-random.”
A. The random category includes, as might be expected, the numerous times when internees happened to randomly cross paths with Nipponese guards. In my case, these instances almost always occurred somewhere on the STIC grounds — that is, not within a building. On such occasions, having been suitably warned as to the required behavior, I made sure to bow correctly — from the waist rather than merely with a nod of my head. The guards for the most part simply ignored me, looking straight ahead as they walked; if and when they did react, it was usually with a head nod. Rarely did a guard actually bow from the waist, and even then only slightly so. Never (that I can recall) did I observe any of the guards bow “properly” in return (nor did internees expect them to do so).
B. The non-random category includes two kinds of encounters.
(1) One kind involves regularly-scheduled encounters, meaning specifically the twice-daily roll-calls, in which the residents of each room would, at the direction of the room monitor, bow in unison as guards strode past. (I do not know if this was the procedure in the Annex building, where mothers with younger children were housed.) Precisely because such encounters affected almost all internees, and were routine as well as non-random/regularly scheduled, normally they would require no further elaboration, except of course in the case of an out-of-the-ordinary event, one example of which is discussed as a “non-routine” occurrence (see II. A.).
A long-forgotten name from out of the dim and distant past suddenly came to my attention recently as I was looking through a “Maurice Francis Archives” post of 30 January 2022. It concerned an individual named William Sidney Nabors, who in World War II (WWII) was a civilian prisoner of the Nipponese for 37 months in Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC). The significance of Nabors is the fact that his assumed name — which he used when he performed as a professional wrestler — was Danny Dusek (pictured at left). Now, while I did not know Nabors, in STIC or elsewhere, I was aware of the name and occupation of Danny Dusek, for he was well-known in the U.S. and the Philippines before WWII. He must have been well-known, as even I had heard of him, although I was not interested in sports at the time and was just 11 years old when I was welcomed into STIC. Probably I knew of Dusek because I was (and still am) a habitual listener to radio, and possibly also because of mentions by my father, who was interested in wrestling and especially boxing (he once took me along to see Jack Dempsey’s arrival at the Manila airport); and publicity surrounding Dusek’s arrival in the Philippines in 1941 undoubtedly was a major factor. [Note: for present purposes, pro wrestling is treated as a legitimate sport.]
The initial material available to me (via the various links in the cited Maurice Francis post) about Nabors/Dusek — hereafter cited only as Dusek — revealed that he had resumed his wrestling career when he returned to the U.S. after STIC’s liberation in 1945, and indeed continued it long thereafter. But one thing about that material puzzled me: it did not once mention what I considered to be a significant fact — his STIC imprisonment for over three years. That odd omission (even in his obituary) helped propel my decision to investigate “The Dusek Story” in more detail. This account, which is primarily about his post-STIC exploits in the ring, is intended both to alert the “ex-internee community” to the fact of his imprisonment, and more generally to attempt to rescue from obscurity the post-internment record of one of the thousands of WWII civilian guests of the Nipponese — plus (last and certainly least) in so doing, possibly to stir the interest of any fans of professional wrestling who may yet be lurking somewhere in the audience.