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8 • Life along the River Styx I don't consider myselfa hero. None ofus do. But even though women were not supposed to be on the front lines, on the front lines we were. Women were not supposed to be interned, either, but it happened to us. People should know what we endured. People should know what we can endure. Lt. Col. Madeline Ullom, USA, NC (Ret.) The new year brought word from the commandant that a small quantity of medical supplies had become available and could be delivered to Santo Tomas for a specified price. The Executive Committee immediately put plans into motion to borrow the money needed to purchase the supplies that, until the Japanese had confiscated them, were a gift from the American Red Cross. Medical supplies were always scarce in Santo Tomas. The Japanese provided none when the camp opened. Along with food for the first six months of the camp's existence, medicines and supplies were left to the devices ofthe internees and, like food, became less and less available. When notified of their impending internment , physicians grabbed whatever medicines and equipment they could and brought them in pillowcases or other sacks to Santo Tomas. Lt. Ann Mealer remembered that medical care inside the internment camp was improvised. "We'd take strands of hemp and Life along the River Styx 113 roll it around, string it out, wrap it around tongue blades [tongue depressors] and sterilize it for sutures. Skin suture only."1 There was a large supply of morphine in camp but no oxygen. For the first year and a half, internees requiring surgery were sent outside to a civilian hospital. When this practice was no longer permitted, nurses and doctors were dependent on what anesthetics and medications were already in camp. There was a supply of ether, sodium pentothal, and various anesthetics for spinals. On 6 January 1943, comfort kits received the day after Christmas were given to internees. A diary kept by Lt. Eunice Young during her years at Santo Tomas has provided much valuable information concerning life inside the camp. Although she was in constant danger ofbeing caught, this twenty-eight-year-old nurse from Arkport, New York, took the risk and left a priceless record for history. From that diary we know that the comfort kits from the Canadian Red Cross contained small cans and packages of cheese, tea, soup, corned beef, salmon, sardines, jam, crackers, sugar, raisins, prunes, butter, and powdered milk. At this time Young was also enjoying several books, including Berlin Diary by William Schirer, A Thousand Shall Fall by Hans Hake, and Keys to the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin. The good feelings brought by food and books contrasted with the concern engendered by the dengue fever that was ravaging the camp and sending people to the hospital two on a stretcher.2 In January the Japanese tightened up regulations. On 20 January , after announcing that the husbands of pregnant women would be punished by spending time in jail, all pregnant women were sent to San Jose Hospital in Manila. Shanties, nipa palm leaf "houses;' open on two sides, were now to be used only by couples over fifty years of age and women with children under ten years of age. Fathers were allowed in shanties from 1000 until 1400. In February, as the rules were becoming stricter and prices were going up, Lieutenant Young wrote in her diary: "Will we ever get out of this place? There has been no news in days, and morale is very low:'3 Spirits rose slightly as rumors of repatriation made their way around the camp. But any good feelings were counterbalanced by 114 All This Hell hardships such as the shortage of soap, which was expensive if it was available at all. Adding to the bad news, the sugar ration was cut to three tablespoons per individual per day. Two weeks later, the ration was cut to two tablespoons. Sugar was high on the internees' wish list. Navy nurse Lt. Margaret Nash, a five-foot, one-inch-tall native ofWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania , decided to take advantage of a Japanese guard's desire for one of her two wristwatches to barter for the sweet stuff. In November 1941 Nash purchased a watch with the intention of sending it to her niece as a gift for her upcoming high school graduation in June. In a 1945 article titled "The Joys ofMeeting:' Lt. Mary Jane Brown described how Nash got the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813127446
Related ISBN
9780813121482
MARC Record
OCLC
778436177
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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