Memorializing a national shame
Those of you who do not live in Colorado—and perhaps some who do—may never have heard of the infamous Camp Amache, a square-mile parched, desolate land in the southeastern corner of the state. Named after a Native American woman, Camp Amache was the smallest of the ten internment camps created in a fit of national hysteria to imprison 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War Two.
You may have noticed on my website’s home page and my blog page I use the phrase Classic Whodunits. What does that mean? How do whodunits differ from other types of crime stories? Spy novels? Thrillers and suspense?
In an earlier blog on how the World War II Japanese-America relocation camps figure into my mystery The Big Dive, I referenced the AMC horror anthology, The Terror. Season 2, subtitled Infamy, centers on a shape-shifting demon haunting an internment camp. The very idea of using the camps as a setting illustrates just how much the long-forgotten camps have recaptured our attention in recent years. In this blog, I will share a few thoughts on where the show succeeds and fails to capture the true horror of those camps.
What if the U.S. government knocked on your door and asked you, an ordinary citizen, to officially swear your loyalty to America. Would you? Probably, though some might feel offended at being asked.
What if you were asked while imprisoned in a concentration camp on American soil because of your ancestral heritage? Would you still affirm your loyalty?
Would you put your life on the line for a nation that has unconstitutionally imprisoned you and your family, most of you citizens, in a concentration camp?
Ironically, there were two ways prisoners could escape a Japanese-American relocation camp: join the military (which I’ll blog about later) or if they offered skills or professions that contributed to America's war effort.
In short, help the very nation that was cruelly and unjustly imprisoning them.
In light of the primitive living conditions and the ever-present barbed wire and gun towers, what was daily life like for the prisoners of the ten Japanese-American relocation camps?
Surrounded by barbed wire, machine-gun towers, and armed military police, what was life like for the 120,000 ethnic Japanese incarcerated inside the ten relocation camps? Or concentration camps as I suggested in an earlier blog.
I suspect you’re wondering why I would title a blog post The Dead Man in the Pearl Gray Hat. Or what if anything it has to do with my series of posts about my historical mystery, The Big Dive. Let me explain.
A dark stain in American history has resurfaced in the news, over 75 years after its occurrence. That dark stain also inspired a major plot line that runs through my historical mystery The Big Dive.
The notion of police offers stealing from the very people they were sworn to protect seemed like the perfect crime. Yet most of Denver’s corrupt cops found themselves in handcuffs by the end of 1961.
Being a crooked cop in Denver in the 1950s was easy.
Oh, there had always been the petty graft common to many police departments: free meals and coffee from local diners, free cigarettes and booze from bar owners, rolling drunks, and cash or free merchandise from store owners for overlooking code violations.
Like many authors, I draw inspiration for stories from real life. Why make up stuff when our lives, our history, our culture offer an abundance of rich material? Truth is stranger than fiction.
The personal fallout for Joe Stryker in the wake of his partner’s murder drives the story. But the intersecting plotlines that created his nightmare derive from two very real events in Denver and Colorado history.
Welcome to my debut blog.
Imagine for a moment you are a street cop in 1951. You and your partner are patrolling the roughest neighborhood in the fast-growing post-war city of Denver, Colorado. You stop to check out a possible break-in at a pawnshop.
Within minutes, your partner is dead.
Bruce Most is an award-winning mystery novelist and short-story writer. His latest novel, The Big Dive, is the sequel to the award-winning Murder on the Tracks, which features a street cop seeking redemption while investigating a string of murders in 1949 Denver. His award-winning Rope Burn involves cattle rustling and murder in contemporary Wyoming ranch country. Bonded for Murder and Missing Bonds features feisty Denver bail bondswoman, Ruby Dark.