Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Grandpa LeGrand, His Small Speck in America's History

LeGrand M. Anderson

World War II was aptly named as sadly it affected everyone in the world in some way. For my Grandfather LeGrand Anderson, who began his family during the Depression era, the war was certainly another monetary stumbling block. Without a doubt, he was not alone in this trial!

In 1941 the Idaho meat packing plant which he had been employed for several years closed. He felt he had to return with his family to his father's farm in Koosharem, Sevier County, Utah to make some sort of living. 

In the spring of 1942 a request from the government came for strong men who could construct homes very quickly in the Delta, Utah area. Grandpa knew he was a capable carpenter, needed the income and logistically he lived just 100 miles or so from Delta. He answered the call and was hired.

This all came about because of the war. In fact, the more populated areas along the Pacific coast of the United States had protested against Japanese infiltration, So it was decided by Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order on February 6, 1942 to relocate those of Japanese ancestry to ten residential facilities--one of those to be built in the Pahvant valley of Utah ten miles west of Delta called early on Little Tokyo.

Construction in Delta began in June of 1942. This building project quickly brought into Millard County large groups of carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and by September enough of the camp had been completed to begin moving in some of its Japanese-American residents. 

An artist's rendition of Topaz

I am sure this huge influx of workers heavily impacted the residents of Millard County. The local newspaper didn't seem sure what they could even report on.

Millard County Chronicle, 20 July 1942, p. 4

My Grandpa LeGrand helped build the 500 small 120 x 20 foot one-story barracks in what ended up being called Topaz. Although it took him away from his home, he probably was very grateful for the steady income for 3 months--a rare benefit because of the war.

One remaining barrack

I believe my grandmother and her three daughters [which included my mother] missed their husband and father very much. There was a song very popular during this time called Sleepy Lagoon. Some of the words are, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in tune . . ." My grandma changed the words when she sang it to her daughters expressing her loneliness, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in June."

My grandfather's tiny part in our American history was very brief, and while Grandpa and his family did struggle financially because of the war, he probably didn't dare complain about his situation after seeing where other American citizens were going to live their lives in Topaz during the war.

1 comment:

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