Spirit of the Beehive: Coon Chicken Inn an Unfortunate Utah Original

By Devon Alexander Brown

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Coon Chicken Inn logo. Image courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

When Brigham Young and a vanguard company of Latter-day Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 they knew they’d finally found their home in the Rockies. (Griffiths) And as their community in the desert quietly blossomed they declared it Deseret, a term for honeybee lifted from the Book of Mormon, and adopted the beehive as their state emblem. This simple emblem not only referenced their Christian roots, but it also symbolized a unified commitment to industriousness that has remained a hallmark of Utah’s culture. (Malouf)

In modern times that industrious spirit has led to a boom in the beehive state’s tech and creative sectors, but in 1925 it drove Maxon Lester Graham and his wife Adelaide Burt to create a fast-food restaurant legacy built on a foundation of racist imagery with a name to match: Coon Chicken Inn.

Utah, like much of America, has a complicated history with race. Much of the population is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has always allowed Blacks into its ranks although they’ve held a lower status. A demonstration of this fact is that three Black members of the church were present in the vanguard company of 1847, but they were used as servants The most controversial aspect of this attitude is that Black members — as well as suspected Black members according to a racial “one drop” policy — were denied priesthood privileges essential to the faith until the 1970s. (Reeve) Yet these complications reach far beyond faith. An attitude of separation trickled into Utah’s secular psyche as well, with Blacks receiving second-class treatment inside and outside of the church. While the creation of Coon Chicken Inn is perhaps the most blatant example of this attitude, it is not an isolated example.

To grasp the severity of the logo’s use, one must understand the racist history behind the “coon” caricature. The term came into prominence during 19th-century minstrel shows through a character named Zip Coon. As a part of his act, Zip Coon would act uppity with a braggart’s swagger while employing malapropisms in a nod to his lack of education. This would elicit laughter and intrigue while also reinforcing White supremacy and animosity toward Blacks. The slur itself became popular in the late 1800s after Black entertainer Ernest Hogan released a song called, “All Coons Look Alike to Me.” Subsequent derogatory imitation “coon songs” were released shortly after and remained popular until the 1920s. Eventually the “coon” caricature became a nostalgic device for certain northerners and southerners to rekindle revisionist memories of life in the American South. (Strausbaugh)

coon ad

Advertisement for Coon Chicken Inn. Utah Chronicle, February 1, 1940, p. 4.

The first Coon Chicken Inn opened in 1925 after the Grahams bought and renovated a small building in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Their take on southern fried chicken was a hit and by 1930 they opened two additional sites (in Washington and Oregon). To stir up additional business they incorporated the smiling blackface logo as they believed it would entice young families. The logo, an abrasive caricature with exaggerated lips, would reflect the owners’ racial disconnection, especially in Seattle and Portland where more Blacks were present.

Black residents did not accept the imagery, however, and Joseph Staton, a Black resident of Seattle, was arrested, booked, and fined $3 for cutting the caricature out of a Coon Chicken Inn spare tire cover. (The Seattle Times) Also, Clarence R. Anderson, a Black attorney, launched a two-year lawsuit against the inn with the NAACP, although Graham dodged the lawsuit by painting the Black porter’s face blue. (Northwest Enterprise) Nonetheless, the logo would later appear on paper products, plates, and menus that are now considered collectible. Eventually, 12-foot constructions of the logo would beckon patrons at the restaurants’ front doors.

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Coon Chicken Inn locations. Image courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Protests by angry Black citizens of Seattle and Portland would ultimately yield few changes to the franchise, but the locations finally closed in 1949. (Seattle Post Intelligencer) However, in December 1949, Graham opened G.I. Joe’s New Country Store in the same Seattle location and continued using the coon logo in advertisements that reached Salt Lake City. (Lake City Citizen) The Salt Lake City location remained open until 1957.

Undoubtedly, Coon Chicken Inn is an ugly reminder of the past, but an unnamed grandson of the Grahams has since written an essay about the restaurant’s legacy for the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. (McFarland) “I preface this essay by saying that I do not condone the ‘Jim Crow’ attitudes of the past. I and ALL of my siblings believe in full equality for all races, creeds, and skin colors. My grandparents were entrepreneurs engaging in what were normal business practices,” he penned in the essay. “They left behind artifacts, popularly called ‘Black Memorabilia,’ that serve as reminders that this particular part of history must never, and will never, be repeated.” (The History of Coon Chicken Inn)

Utahns of Salt Lake City must ensure this sentiment rings true.

Devon Alexander Brown is a senior at The University of Utah and is majoring in journalism. He is pursuing a career in writing and photojournalism and is primarily interested in art and culture. Devon is also interested in documentary films and the tiny house movement.

Sources

Sadie McIver, “Files Protest Against ‘Coon Chicken’ Advertisement,” Northwest Enterprise, July 16, 1931, 8.

Candace Black, “Chicken Inn Dodges Suit with Blue Paint,“ Northwest Enterprise, March 17, 1932, 6.

“Big Crowd — Little Profit,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 8, 1937.

“C. of C. Helps to End Dispute,“ The Seattle Times, March 18, 1937.

Advertisement for Coon Chicken Inn, Utah Chronicle, February 1, 1940, 4.

“Joe’s Country Store,” Lake City Citizen, December 8, 1949.

The History of Coon Chicken Inn.” Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University.

Strausbaugh, John. Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Reeve, W. Paul. Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

McFarland, Sheena. “Whatever happened to … the chicken restaurant with the racially charged name?” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2015.

Malouf, Mary Brown. “Behind the Beehive,” Salt Lake Magazine, May 2, 2016.

Griffiths, Casey Paul, et al. “The myth about Brigham Young’s ‘this is the place’ quote,” LDS Living, July 25, 2017.

Auerbach’s: The Department Store That Advertised Customer Service and Quality Products

By Diana Rubio

In May 1943, The Utah Chronicle featured ads from Auerbach’s Department Store, a family-owned business that gained name recognition in the Western United States. (Auerbach, end page)

In 1864, Jewish brothers Frederick H. Auerbach and Samuel H. Auerbach gave rise to what would become a 113-year legacy of quality products and services. (Rudd, 234) Auerbach’s was initially named “The People’s Store: Auerbach & Brothers” and began welcoming customers in downtown Salt Lake City after the Auerbach brothers came to an agreement with former LDS leader Brigham Young. (Williams)

The difference in culture the Auerbach’s introduced to the business landscape in Utah connected non-Mormons and Mormons. When the store first opened on Main Street, the south end, where Auerbach’s was located, became a hub for non-Mormon shoppers, whereas the north end was known for catering to Mormon shoppers. (Stone, Introduction)

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Image courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Auerbach’s began as a small shop but as time progressed, the business gained popularity due to its merchandise and customer service that touched its customers. (Auerbach, end page) These two characteristics were not only experienced in the store, but also promoted in advertisements. It is due to Auerbach’s advertising efforts and positioning that the family business distinguished itself from other retailers. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5, 7)

“You can count on the fingers of one hand the stores in Utah that have had a continuous life of eighty years,” said Herbert S. Auerbach, one of the successors of the company. (Auerbach, end page)

When the company observed its eightieth anniversary, the celebration was a testament to the company’s integrity, customers service, and its progress, despite the changes in the political atmosphere. (Auerbach, end page) Auerbach’s advertisements positioned the store as a retailer that carried high-quality goods and provided retail prices for consumers with various budgets. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)

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Image courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The first advertisement spanned two inches and appeared in the issues of the Daily Telegraph and described the merchandise as “Staple and fancy.” The advertisements promoted the following merchandise: dry goods, shoes, groceries, notions, clothing, and home accessories. An example of how merchandise was initially promoted advertised blankets imported from California as “the finest quality … offered at little over original cost.” (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)

In an ad published by Goodwin’s Weekly, the ad expressed that Auerbach’s had gained confidence and courage from experiencing success over the years. Such accomplishments had encouraged the company to import 100,000 handkerchiefs for the holidays that were packaged with care. In addition to providing details about “the world’s greatest production of handkerchiefs,” the ad was a cordial invitation for customers to experience these handkerchiefs for themselves. At the bottom, the ad read, “We invite you to make yourself at home among these new handkerchiefs of ours.” (Auerbach’s, Folder 7)

While Auerbach’s advertisements focused on the quality of products, other advertisements highlighted customer service, such as an ad that featured a sketch of the Auerbach store in Salt Lake City. The ad promised to deliver products within five days. If not, customers could return the items in store. Another ad with the sketch of a woman wearing a hat guaranteed a free purchase once customers had made fifty-seven purchases. Exceptions to this offer included: groceries, meats, phonographs, candy, and patterns. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)

The Auerbach’s company recognized it had built a reputable name over the years and believed the store had become an inspiration to Utah history. (Auerbach’s, Folder 7) Although Auerbach’s reached its end in 1977, it was a Salt Lake City landmark for over 100 years. (Williams) The company’s focus on service and merchandise are marketing tactics still used today by marketers who position companies to increase revenue and eventually build strong brands.

Diana Rubio is a senior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with a focus in strategic communication.

Sources

Auerbach, Herbert S. Auerbach Co.: 80 years of service, 1864-1944. Salt Lake City, UT, 1944.

Advertisement, Auerbach’s Man’s Shop Advertisement, The Utah Chronicle, May 20, 1943, 6.

Rudd, Hynda. “Auerbach’s: One of the West’s Oldest Department Stores.” Western States Jewish History 11, no.3: 234-38.

Stone, Eileen Hallet. Auerbach’s: The Store that Performed What It Promises. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2018.

Various advertisements, Herbert S. Auerbach papers, Box 10, Folder 5, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Various Advertisements, Herbert S. Auerbach papers, Box 16, Folder 7, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Williams, Carter. “Auerbach’s to ZCMI: 4 historic Utah businesses that no longer exist,” ksl.com, November 16, 2017,

 

Lucin Cutoff Tragedy: Greek Contribution and Sacrifice in the Mountain West

by JONO MARTINEZ

Greek immigrants were among the last Europeans to make their way into the United States during the late 1800s. Toward the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of young Greeks fled to Utah to live what they would consider their first years of exile. Facing continued Turkish control in their own country, many of these people, young men and boys mostly, sought to live a life elsewhere with hopes of returning to a more promising Greece. (Papanikolas, 45)

Finding solace in the American West, Greek immigrants quickly took to labor on railroads and mines as a means to survive. These men endured long, isolated seasons of strenuous labor with payment as low as $20 for a single month. Although California and Nevada would provide bountiful labor for immigrants, the railroads of Utah would be of special interest to them and would also tragically cost some of their lives. Among the places where extensive Greek contributions took place are the Carbon County mines, Murray-Midvale smelters, Bingham Canyon mines, Magna mill, Garfield smelter, and north of Ogden for railroad-gang work on the Oregon Short Line (later Union Pacific). (Papanikolas, 46-48)

On February 19, 1904, 24 men—16 of whom were Greek immigrant railroad workers—died in a train collision near the Lucin Cutoff crossing the Great Salt Lake. The Lucin Cutoff is a 102-mile railroad line in Utah that runs from Ogden to its namesake in Lucin. (“With Dead”) News reports at the time provided varying numbers of victims and gave inconsistent details regarding the details of the crash. By most accounts, the air brake system failed on the eastbound train, which contained a boxcar of black powder, and the locomotive collided with a dynamite-laden westbound train attempting to clear the mainline. (“Air Brakes”) The magnitude of the explosion was such that the adjacent small town of Jackson was destroyed and 1,000 feet of track were blown up, leaving an excavation 30 feet deep. One engine was blown over in the flat and almost buried in the salt earth; one of the drive wheels was found nearly a half-mile away. (“Dynamite Wrecks”)

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An unidentified group watches a woman shaking hands with a railroad worker. Greek Archives photograph collection, 1900-1967, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

The disaster would quickly gain the attention of local newspapers, with Ogden’s own Standard dedicating at least one piece a day of coverage for the weeks following the event. Accounts in the paper were graphic, with descriptions of decapitated bodies and scattered limbs. (“Dynamite Explosion”) Even the hailed New York Times would mention the half-mile radius of damage in its February 20 issue. The article listed by name the three American victims, but the immigrant workers were lumped into a single group with little to no recognition. While the tragedy was indeed covered in the news, the loss of the eight Utahns would ultimately overshadow the loss of Greek immigrant life. As The Salt Lake Tribune would make sure to mention on February 20, 1904, “A majority of those killed were Greek laborers, although many of the victims were English-speaking people.” The emphasis on “American” life over immigrant casualties in news accounts of the 1904 wreck ultimately reflected views that foreign laborers were expendable. (“Memorial Honors”)

Misfortune for the victims’ families only grew in the days following the accident. The designated coroner charged various undertakers, including Larkin & Sons, with handling the 24 bodies. Larkin opted to remove the bodies under his care to his own establishment in order to better prepare them for burial. This raised a protest from the assembled multitude of Greeks, many of whom had cousins and other relatives under the coverings inside the improvised morgue. They declared the bodies should not be moved. Richey, the other undertaker, later burned the blankets in which their bodies had been wrapped for transportation to the city. The Greek community had their own blankets that they wished to use instead, which were traditionally used for bedding. These were often hand-woven of superior material by them in Greece and brought to America with them. (“Dead are Brought”)

It was clear that there would be a long process in both identifying and treating the bodies, yet unique issues arose with regard to the extant language barrier between immigrants and local authorities who hoped to discover the cause of the accident. Two Americanized Greeks, John McCart and Arthur Mitchell, were sworn in as interpreters. Even so, they were unable to communicate much information to the authorities due to the conditions survivors were in. According to a story published in The Salt Lake Tribune on February, 26, 1904, “very little information concerning the accident could be elicited from the wounded Greeks.”

Other obstacles in the investigation came in the form of English-speaking witnesses who refused to give their full testimony. For example, Sam Courtney, the conductor of the water train, was questioned to no avail. Courtney’s hips and back were badly injured in the accident; yet, when he was asked who, in his opinion, was responsible for the makeup of the train and for the accident, he refused to make any statement. Ultimately, no blame would be placed on a single party and all persons interviewed would be absolved. (“Verdict of Jury”)

George N. Tsolomite, vice-consular agent for the Kingdom of Greece, arrived two weeks after the accident in Ogden. He then decided to contest each of the probate proceedings, which had just begun in Weber and Box Elder counties for the appointment of administrators in the estates of the Greeks who were killed in the recent railroad disaster at Jackson. (“Verdict of the Jury”) For many people at the time and now, it was evident that immigrants were misused as employees, especially those who could not speak English. Tsolomite’s involvement was to lessen aggravations felt by the families. Yet it was disasters like the one at Jackson and countless others that eventually energized immigrants to force employers to improve working conditions through labor unions. (“Memorial Honors”)

On October 22, 2000, nearly a century after the Lucin Cutoff tragedy, members of Utah’s ever-growing Greek community gathered in Ogden to witness the installation of a granite monument in memory of the deceased workers. (“Memorial Honors”) The tragedy and suggestion for the memorial were brought to the attention of the Utah Hellenic Cultural Association by Stella Kapetan of Chicago, who discovered the episode while researching her family history. (“Memorial”) This commemoration was seen by many as long overdue, considering that the majority of the men were buried without a headstone. For many, those Greek railroad workers who lost their lives are an example of the undervalued efforts and sacrifices undergone by immigrants in the United States of America. The memorial now serves as a reminder to both Greeks and non-Greeks of an otherwise downplayed moment in Utah history. Furthermore, their contribution as immigrants to help build the American West now receives the credit it has deserved.

Jono Martinez graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

Sources

“Action of Greek Counsul,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Verdict of the Jury Judge Pritchard in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, March 1, 1904.

“Coroner’s Inquest Continued to Thursday,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Inquest in Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 26, 1904.

“Verdict of Jury in Cut-off Disaster,” Standard, February 26, 1904.

“Air Brakes Failed,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 24, 1904.

“Dynamite Explosion Brings Havoc and Death,” Standard, February 23, 1904.

“Dead are Brought to Ogden Sunday,” Standard, February 22, 1904.

“With Dead of the Jackson Explosion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 22, 1904.

“Dynamite Wrecks Town,” The New York Times, February 20, 1904

“Memorial Honors Forgotten Victims of 1904 Railroad Tragedy,” The Salt Lake Tribune, October 23, 2000.

“Memorial,” Deseret News, May 29, 2000.

Papanikolas, Helen Zeeze. Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1970.

 

The Media’s Role in Citizens’ Perceptions of Topaz, the Japanese Internment Camp in Utah

by Elizabeth Fields

The media have always played a role in our history. More than simply relaying the news, media dictate which stories deserve our attention, whether or not we are aware of it. Sometimes subtle and sometimes not, the media mold our values and opinions through careful choice of language and selection of which stories to tell. In the case of the Japanese internment facility located in Delta, Utah, the media’s influence over the public proved to be no different. Through the alienation of Japanese-American citizens and normalization of internment facilities, Utah media placated its citizens and prevented them from being able to recognize Topaz as being inhumane and unjust.

WRA official

Internees began arriving at the Central Utah Relocation Center, known as Topaz, on September 11, 1942. This article from the August 27, 1942, issue of the Millard County Chronicle, was typical of the coverage.

Described as being “one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history,” the upheaval and relocation of many Japanese-American citizens during World War II was set in motion on February 19, 1942, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. (history.com) This order authorized the creation of military zones along the West Coast and stipulated that individuals who were considered a threat to national security could be relocated to internment facilities located farther inland. The order soon was used to justify the removal of Japanese-Americans who were suspected of having an allegiance to Japan. Forced to put their jobs and education on hold and to give up their homes and most of their possessions, more than 120,000 citizens were sent to internment camps in states including Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado, where they were closely monitored to ensure that they could not assist the enemy. The Central Utah Relocation Center, more commonly known as Topaz for the mountain to the west, officially opened on September 11, 1942. By the time it closed, it had housed more than 11,000 detainees. (topazmuseum.org)

American citizens who did not have ties to Japan had been primed by the media to distrust and dislike Japanese culture, both domestic and abroad, since the beginning of America’s involvement in WW II. In the months leading up to the opening of Topaz, Utah citizens were exposed to hateful, racist terminology degrading their perception of the Japanese. On January 6, 1942, the Salt Lake Telegram reported that American soldiers were “killing the cocky little invaders like flies,” quite literally dehumanizing the foreign enemy. On January 5, 1942, the Salt Lake Telegram relished the thought of American allies writing “in rivers of Japanese blood.” This violent rhetoric set the stage for internment camps to open without question or opposition from the American public. It is important to note that Utah media consistently referred to the Japanese enemy as “Japs” in nearly any article written about the progress of the war.

In September 1942, when Japanese-American citizens began arriving at Topaz, the media also referred to these camp residents as “Japs.” On August 27, the Millard County Chronicle published an article under the headline, “WRA Officials Arrive to Take Over Jap Camp.” In the same issue, a separate article advertised cheap labor provided by internees and provided details about “how the Japs can be got, the regulations, and other information.” In this particular story, the language is eerily reminiscent of historical articles advertising slave labor. Utah media did not even bother to differentiate between the Japanese enemy and the Japanese-American citizen. Instead, the media lumped the two populations together using the same racial slur. Immediately, citizens living outside of internment camps differentiated the Japanese-American citizens as being in a separate category from themselves and associated them with the enemy. In some cases, citizens may not have even made a distinction between citizens and the enemy because the two shared the same epithet.

To further Utah’s ignorance to the injustice at play, Utah media completely normalized the Topaz internment camp by publishing mundane, day-to-day happenings at the camp, none of which included any of the harsh realities of life at Topaz. One of the most insulting articles was published in the Salt Lake Telegram on December 30, 1942, with the headline, “You Wouldn’t Trade Places.” It suggested that those living outside internment camps were actually experiencing some kind of envy. The article observed: “There are all sorts of rumors—that the Japanese evacuees from California live there in style, that they are being fed far better than most Americans.” The article described the minimalistic lifestyle of internment camp, but then assured readers, “Certainly they are being treated decently … the food is wholesome…. Although not being pampered, they are being very fairly treated.” It even claimed that the Japanese-American citizens enjoyed the work they did at the camp, saying, “Work becomes desirable as a pastime.” In reality, life at Topaz was anything but fair. According to the Densho Encyclopedia,

“Many of the apartments were not finished when inmates arrived. The prisoners had to endure especially cold conditions until gypsum board was installed on the walls and ceilings… Ill health was common at Topaz… Several prisoners reported how this … traumatized them and prevented them from ever feeling fully secure in camp.”

On December 17, 1942, the Millard County Chronicle published an article detailing the plans for a Christmas party to be held at Topaz: “This will be a large scale operation, purposed by the WRA [War Relocation Authority] to promote good will, [and] to show the proper Christian spirit.” The brief article clearly applauded the righteousness of the WRA and completely dismissed the fact that internees could not be in their own home with their friends and extended family to celebrate. Many of the internees were not Christian and did not even observe Christmas as a holiday. This article reinforced the concept that they they were comfortable and happy, perhaps even lucky. This complete misconception of the reality of living in an internment camp prevented Utahns from recognizing the injustice of the situation.

The last and perhaps one of the most significant elements in keeping Utah citizens silent was the Espionage Act. This act prevented anyone from publishing material conveying “anti-patriotic” sentiments. More than an act of censorship, the Espionage Act reflected a deep-rooted fear that citizens of Japanese descent felt a stronger alliance to Japan than to America that would cause them to betray their country. On May 28, 1942, the Millard County Chronicle wrote,

“What shall we do with Japanese aliens to prevent possible espionage and sabotage?… Many of the Japanese, especially those of American birth, were loyal to the United States. But their fathers and mothers were aliens. It was to be expected that a considerable number of these would be tied to Japan by bonds of race and nationality.”

The Espionage Act only encouraged feelings of distrust toward the Japanese and furthered the media’s contempt for them. To write in opposition of Topaz would be to risk interrogation or even detainment. Simply put, it was unsafe to openly protest Topaz. Had it not been for the Espionage Act, perhaps Utah media would have exposed the truth about Topaz and the public would have had the ability to resist.

As Americans when we think of World War II, we think of bravery and sacrifice. We think of the grainy, black and white footage of victorious soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima. We think of Rosie in her red bandana, proudly pulling her denim sleeve across her flexed arm and proclaiming, “We Can Do It!” We think of the famous photograph of a young soldier home from war, in the streets of New York kissing a stranger out of pure elation. We do not think of an American Japanese family leaving their home in San Francisco to be locked away in an internment camp in Utah. We do not think of a young American Japanese student, forced to halt his education to be unjustifiably imprisoned. We do not think of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, careers, and aspirations to satiate the racism of a fearful country. We do not think of it, but we should. Through alienation, false justification, and writing within the boundaries of the Espionage Act, Utah media placated citizens and manipulated them to believe that Topaz and facilities like it were just and necessary.

Today still, our country faces prejudice every day that is perpetuated by our media. With the understanding of the injustice of Topaz, we are better able to critically analyze the sources we rely upon and protect those who our media would wrongfully have us fear.

Elizabeth Fields is studying strategic communication at The University of Utah.

Sources

“They Fought Like Demons,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 5, 1942, 8.

“The Japs Take a Beating,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 6, 1942, 6.

“The Story of 112,000 Japanese in America,” Millard County Chronicle, May 28, 1942, 8.

“WRA Officials Arrive to Take over Jap Camp,” Millard County Chronicle, August 27, 1942, 1.

“Utah County Wants Topaz Jap Laborers,” Millard County Chronicle, September 27, 1942, 8.

“To Hold Xmas Festivities at Topaz,” Millard County Chronicle, December 17, 1942, 1.

“You Wouldn’t Trade Places,” Salt Lake Telegram, December 30, 1942, 6.

“Japanese-American Relocation.” History.com, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation.

“Topaz.” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Topaz.

“Topaz Camp.” Topaz Museum, http://www.topazmuseum.org/topaz-camp.

 

The 1965-66 Runnin’ Utes

by STEPHEN LINDSEY

If Disney’s 2006 major motion picture Glory Road had had the time to tell the whole story, there would’ve been a team in red getting a pretty fair amount of screen time. The NCAA’s 1966 storybook championship game between little-known, mostly Black Texas Western and widely celebrated and all-white Kentucky was preceded by an equally enthralling Final Four, featuring head coach Jack Gardner and his University of Utah varsity squad.

Before the NBA’s 1980’s Bird versus Magic, Celtics versus Lakers golden age, college basketball was king, and in 1965-66, the University of Utah found itself very near the throne. Behind the strong showing of a 23-8 season and a Western Athletic Conference title, the Utes managed to make it all the way to the NCAA semifinal game, losing to Texas Western in a thriller, bookending a season that, though it ended in disappointment, was indeed, as the Daily Herald said in March 1966, “a campaign that won’t soon be forgotten.”

Jack Gardner and Jerry Chambers

To truly understand the magic of that season, one must understand the preceding few years in Utah basketball, and more importantly, that of the coach, James “Jack” Gardner. Recruited to become the Utes’ new coach in 1953, in 18 seasons at the university Gardner would compile a 339-154 overall record good for second all-time in Utes’ coaching history. After varying degrees of success for seven seasons, Gardner helped the Utes climb to the apex of college basketball’s proverbial mountain, getting them to the famed “Final Four” in 1961, behind the strength of All-American and future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Billy “the Hill” McGill. Though that tournament too would end in another fourth-place finish for the pride of Salt Lake City, the Utes had discovered a key element of success, one that would help them years down the road: recruiting and signing to scholarship Black players, a habit not widely practiced in those days. (Sports-Reference)

Basketball was a burgeoning sport in the 1960s. Riding the waves of the somewhat recently created National Basketball Association (NBA) and the success of college programs like Kentucky and UCLA, the game was especially noteworthy for the number of Black athletes found in its ranks, as compared to other sports. McGill’s recruitment and subsequent acceptance of scholarship to the university, though not the first such incident of a Black man coming to play on “the Hill,” signaled the dawning of a new era for the Utes. Gardner, along with several other coaching counterparts, including Don Haskins, against whom he would coach in the 1966 semifinal, didn’t necessarily pioneer the signing of Black players, but they were some of its larger and more well-known champions. For the University of Utah’s part, Gardner was absolutely instrumental. “Bud” Jack, an employee in the athletic department during Gardner’s tenure and a future athletic director at the school, reminisced on his early days at the University of Utah in an interview with Everett Cooley. He reported that there was some level of worry concerning what was deemed “the black issue.” “We were very concerned,” he said then. “[But] I think Jack Gardner had all this planned very well. And we had very little problem. That’s where you have to give Jack Gardner credit.”

Gardner’s reputation as a man willing to be fair and sign anyone with talent was evident to everyone. In an interview granted to the Los Angeles Times in 1995, retired Black coach and Washington, D.C., resident Bill Butler said he was impressed by the Utes coach, whom he met in 1968 at a practice for an all-Black all-star game he had organized and invited Gardner to attend. After watching the practice, Gardner was noticeably impressed with the quality of play on the court, and went to work offering scholarships to a few of those present. “Those kids had D averages,” Butler was quoted as saying in the Times article. “They couldn’t have gone to Utah right away, so Jack Gardner arranged for them to attend junior colleges before they went on to play at Utah.” With a whole demographic of players available to him that many other coaches had never considered, Gardner and the Utes went to work on winning.

The seasons immediately following 1961 proved more difficult than to be expected, and the Utes were a middling team. The arrival of Jerry Chambers to the University of Utah in 1964, however, proved a steppingstone to the grand achievements that awaited in 1966. Chambers, a 6-foot-4 athletic guard, terrorized defenses during his time at the “U.” No season of his would prove more special than 1965-66.

“Smooth-shooting and lanky,” as he was described by the June 16, 1966, edition of the Daily Herald, the college transfer from Trinidad, Colorado, was voted Western Athletic Conference (WAC) player of the year after averaging around 28.8 points a game. According to the February 4, 1966, edition of the Daily Herald, “the guy, percentage wise, is the finest shooter in Ute history.”

The Start of Something Special

Utah’s schedule that season was fantastic, even by today’s standards: the Utes would play most games in their home gym, the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse, seemingly avoiding road trips to better their record. The few road trips they did make, however, would find them playing in some of the more prestigious gyms in the world, against some of the more prestigious teams. Not including the NCAA tournament, the Utes would play away games against Arizona, Arizona State in conference, as well as against Cincinnati, North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Miami (Florida) on their lone East Coast road trip. Though the Utes would only manage one victory in that four-game stretch, against NC State, their play dazzled local newspapers. Of their sole victory, the New Years’ day 1966 edition of the Ogden Standard Examiner would report, “The fast-breaking Utes, amazingly quick for their size and their height, dominated State as few teams ever do.” Chambers would manage 30 points, key to postseason recognition and accolades, as national press got to see the Utes star.

RunninUtesImage

The cover of the 1965-66 Runnin’ Utes men’s basketball team guide. Pictured are George Fisher (top) and guard Jerry Chambers. Courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

As the regular season wound down and the Utes were crowned WAC champions over the likes of nemesis Brigham Young University, the “Redskins,” as they were frequently called in those days, had astounded even the local pundits. A March 21, 1966, edition of the Provo Daily Herald reported, “In gaining the title, the surprising Utes [had] lifted themselves from last place to first place in a year.” Their status as WAC champions would afford them an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, where they would face off with the “underrated” Pacific University Tigers.

The Utes, though, had been dealt a blow in the conference clincher. Starting forward George Fisher, one of the team’s best players, was lost to a broken femur against New Mexico. There was doubt surrounding the Utes, who, despite having already been guaranteed the conference title, had lost to BYU in their regular season finale. The lone bright spot, according to the March 9, 1966, Daily Herald, was Chambers, who had torched the Cougars for 48 points. Luckily for the Utes, his hot play would continue, and he rang up 40 points against the Pacific University Tigers, spurring his team to a nine-point, 83-74 victory in round 1 of the tournament. Chambers’ good play continued, and after a 70-64 win over Oregon State University, the Utes were headed to the Final Four. Battling injuries (Lyndon Mackay, another Ute starter, hurt his knee in the OSU game), a lack of national respect, and constant fatigue due to lack of reserves, the Utes had made it to the big time. “This is a hungry basketball team and they’ve suddenly developed a lot of pride in themselves,” Gardner told local papers. “They think they can get the job done.” (Smilanich)

The Final Four

“The rag-tag Redskins,” observed the March 15, 1966, edition of the Standard Examiner, would “find themselves in the familiar role of underdog against tough and talented Texas Western, and that’s just the way the Utes like it.”

The Utes and Miners, though separated by what many considered a talent gap, shared a unique history, one begun by their coaches. In the fall of 1965, and less than six months away from a fateful matchup in the NCAA semifinals, Gardner and Texas Western head coach Don Haskins shared a weekend of basketball discussion and philosophy when the Miners football team traveled to Salt Lake to face the Utes. Haskins made the trip, and during his three-day stay with Gardner, picked his brain. “Jack was very nice to me. He couldn’t have been nicer,” Haskins told Deseret News sports editor Lee Benson in 1993. “I’d always been so impressed with him growing up. Back then, we weren’t in the same league. Utah was in the WAC and we were independent. Anyway, I came up to meet him and learn something about the fast break. He took me to dinner the night before the football game and we talked for hours. The next morning I went to (basketball) practice. Jack took me in his office, he showed me all kinds of break films, he showed me his drills.” As Benson so cheekily wrote in his 1993 article about the story: “Basketball historians know where this is going.”

Fate had now guided the two teams back together, and armed with a heavy scouting report on the Utes and their tactics, Texas Western managed to squeak out a victory over the underdog Utes. Chambers opened the game with a 24-point first half, and the Utes were in it as they headed to the locker. The second half would prove more difficult, though. Chambers cooled down, the officiating tightened, and the Utes just couldn’t stay with the bigger, stronger Miners. The team lost 85-78. A total of 47 fouls were called, none of them more critical, according to Gardner, than the technical foul called on him by official Lenny Wirtz late in the first half, something he would lament in his post-game press conference. “The little guy, Lenny Wirtz, has rabbit ears and big ones,” Gardner told the Daily Press after the game. “The technical foul he called … I didn’t get off the bench … I didn’t swear. I don’t swear. He has big ears to call a tech on me for saying you missed that one.” Said Haskins, “I can’t believe they would call the game that tight.”

Nonetheless, the Utes had lost. The team would get a chance at consolation glory facing off with Duke in the third-place game, but still couldn’t manage a victory. Chambers was yet again fantastic, scoring 32 points, but it wasn’t enough, as the Utes lost 79-77. Still, the senior collegian had established what was then the all-time tournament scoring mark, posting 143 points in four games, good enough for a 35.8 average and the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. (“Utes Return”) In addition, the Daily Herald reported on March 29, 1966, that Chambers had been recognized by Texas Western as the best player they had faced all season, even after the Miners’ win over Kentucky.

Filled with accolades and boasting a tremendous individual repertoire, Chambers would go on to the NBA. The Utes, meanwhile, had performed admirably. Said the March 21, 1966, Daily Herald, “The Utes returned home with the satisfaction of a job well done since no one expected the running Redskins to get as far as they did.” Unfortunately, they would never again, at least during Gardner’s tenure, make it to the top of the mountain.

The Squad’s Legacy

Gardner would remain at the University for five more seasons before retiring, none of them as successful as that of 1965-66. Though his 1967-68 squad would attain an AP ranking of 5 during the season, even it couldn’t match the success of the previous team. (Sports-Reference) Chambers’s 1965-66 campaign was dubbed by local press as the best shooting exhibit in Utes history to that point. The March 10, 1966, Daily Herald reported that Chambers had broken at least five standing WAC records, including leading the league in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage. Though not officially listed by the Associated Press, he was also considered by many outlets an All-American, and invited to several All-Star games before being drafted No. 7 overall by the Lakers in the 1966 NBA Draft. The Utes had surprised many, but not themselves.

For Haskins’s part, he would name Gardner one of the best he’d ever coached against. “I still put Jack Gardner in the top five coaches all-time,” he would tell Benson in 1993 (Gardner was scheduled to be inducted into the WAC’s Hall of Fame days later). “He deserves everything they’re giving him.” Gardner remains the only coach to ever lead a WAC school to a final four. (Benson) He died in 2000 at the age of 90.

Strangely enough, the 1966 Utes were largely forgotten, until just recently. Fifty-one years after their historic run, they were honored at the halftime of Utah’s March 4,  2017, game against Stanford (the Utes won 67-59). Honorees included assistant coaches, among them Jerry Pimm and Morris Buckwalter, and players such as Chambers, Mackay, Fisher, and others. (Facer)

Nearly half a century later, the 1965-66 Runnin’ Utes legacy still stands, enduring through the ages. A few of the members of that famed squad have died, yet those who remain continue to impress all, especially those employed in continuing the fine tradition of Utah basketball. “Pretty neat,” Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak said of the honored squad in his post-game remarks. “We got a good dose of all those parts of some Utah basketball tradition.” (Facer)

Stephen Lindsey is a junior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in journalism.

Sources 

Steve Smilanich, “Jerry Chambers Named WAC Athlete of the Year,” The Provo Daily Herald, June 16, 1966, 11.

“Chambers Gains Another Honor,” The Provo Daily Herald, March 29, 1966, 9.

“Utes Return from NCAA Test,” The Provo Daily Herald, March 21, 1966, 6.

Tommy Seward, “Texas Western Conquers Utah, 85-78, Despite 38 by Chambers,” Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), March 19, 1966, 15.

Steve Smilanich, “Utes, Miners vie in semis,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 15, 1966, 9.

“Utes Advance in Western Cage Tourney,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 12, 1966, 4.

“Chambers Breaks 5 WAC Records,” The Provo Daily Herald, March 10, 1966, 8.

“Redskins’ Hope Lies with Gangly Center,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 9, 1966, 13.

“Utes, Cougars Poise for Big Cage Tilt,” The Provo Daily Herald, February 4, 1966, 6.

“Running Utes Upset North Carolina State,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner, January 1, 1966, 4.

Sports-Reference. “1965-66 Utah Roster and Stats,” http://bit.ly/2oA1TYn.

Benson, Lee. “Haskins Learned Well from Gardner.” Deseret News, March 14, 1993, http://bit.ly/2ooVih9.

Fulwood III, Sam. “Blacks Find Support in Sports but Not as Scholars.” Los Angeles Times, July 25, 1995, http://lat.ms/2opabQD.

Jack, James R. (Bud). Interview by Everett L. Cooley, August 13, 1984. Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project. J. Willard Marriott Library Manuscripts Division. The University of Utah. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=822251

Facer, Dirk. “Utah notes: 1966 Final Four team honored at halftime,” Deseret News, March 4, 2017, http://bit.ly/2o79cCQ.

Iraqi Refugees Flee to Utah: The Human Consequences of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

by BONNIE ADAMSSON-VORWALLER 

Introduction:

On March 19, 2003, U.S. troops invaded Iraq. The initial siege lasted only 41 days, but it marked the beginning of a protracted and acrimonious struggle that would come to be referred to by military analysts as a “quagmire,” (Warnick) and by some journalists around the world as “Viet Nam-like.” (Dalleck) The comparisons were unavoidable. Urged on by U.S. President George W. Bush, who insisted “God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq,” U.S. troops invaded a country that had not made a single military strike against the U.S. (MacAskill) The Iraqi people also had not requested any humanitarian intervention. As armed U.S. troops rushed into Iraq to “bring them Freedom” (Artyukov) in what Bush called a “preventive war,” (Klein) an internal crisis and then collapse resulted, forcing nearly 2 million Iraqis from their homes and, ultimately, from their country. This event in the Middle East was about to have significant consequences for the people of the State of Utah.

Findings:

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees flooded into neighboring Jordan in 2004. (Amos) Forty percent of Iraq’s middle class fled their homes and their businesses at the rate of nearly 3,000 Iraqi refugees per day seeking safety in Jordan and Syria through December 2006. (Lockhead) In Syria alone, some 50,000 Iraqi girls and women, many of them widows, were forced into prostitution just to survive. (Hassan)

Most Utahns remained unaware of the massive upheaval occurring on the other side of the world. The Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, Utah, first began to track the building pressure in the January 3, 2007, issue. In the editorial “Allow more Iraqis into U.S.,” the newspaper reported that, according to the New York Times, 8,100 Iraqi refugees had asked for asylum in western nations in 2006. According to the editorial, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts was preparing to take over the subcommittee for immigration, border security and refugees. The Deseret Morning News editor suggested that Kennedy focus first not on Mexico, but on the Middle East and particularly Iraq. The editorial pointed out that immigrants historically have brought diversity as well as economic benefits to the U.S.

The Deseret Morning News continued its coverage of the Iraqi refugee problem in the February 15, 2007, edition. Middle Eastern countries bordering Iraq, especially Syria and Jordan, were being overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi war refugees flooding across their borders.

U.S. government and State Department officials announced on February 14 that up to 7,000 Iraqi war refugees would be allowed into the U.S. effective immediately. The U.S. decision was in response to the proposal of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007. In an effort to stabilize the region, the United States Senate would later pass the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 into law on June 19, 2007. The brief Deseret Morning News story, headlined “Iraqis in the U.S. cheer war-refugee clearance,” was picked up from the AP newswire and featured interviews with Iraqis in Nashville and Chicago. One paragraph, consisting of a single sentence, offered an almost prophetic glimpse: “In several cities with Iraqi communities, officials promised to welcome the newcomers.”

On April 17-18, 2007, an international conference on Iraqi displacement took place in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference approved a Strategic Framework for Humanitarian Action in Iraq. The Salt Lake Tribune had still not picked up the story when the Deseret Morning News ran its first feature-length article on the Iraqi refugee issue on May 15, 2007. The article, bylined by Elaine Jarvik, was headlined “Dozens of refugees Utah-bound in fall.” Jarvik wrote, “Several dozen of the estimated 2 million Iraqis who have fled to neighboring countries since the U.S. invasion will probably begin arriving in Utah some time next fall, according to local refugee resettlement workers.” Jarvik interviewed local refugee coordinators including Aden Batar, director of immigration and resettlement at Catholic Community Services, and Patrick Poulin, resettlement director of the International Rescue Committee. She also quoted Cassandra Champion of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services headquartered in Maryland, underscoring the local, national and international aspects of the developing story.

The Salt Lake Tribune ran its first article about the Iraqi refugee issue May 16, 2007.  In her article, “Iraq war refugees heading to Utah,” reporter Jennifer W. Sanchez wrote, “The UNHCR [United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees] also estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes each month.” Of those, only a few dozen were expected to make their way to Utah. Sanchez interviewed Poulin and Batar. Poulin described the refugee relocation process as “very slow” and said the Iraqi refugee problem was “getting worse and worse.” He said many Middle Eastern countries that were dealing with the refugees couldn’t afford or handle the population influx. And Batar told Sanchez that his agency was going to work on informing the whole Salt Lake City community about respecting the new refugees. “We need to educate the community because we don’t need any backlash,” Batar said. “They need to start a new life here because of the Iraq war. It’s not safe for them to go back home.”

At that point, the “tipping point,” the debate began. A series of feature articles, opinion editorials and letters to the editor followed in both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News. Many Utahns were in favor of this new group of “immigrants.” Some were cautious. A few were vehemently opposed.

As the specter of Iraqi refugees fleeing to Utah loomed, support for the war in Iraq began to wane. On November 2, 2007, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a news feature headlined: “Even in Republican Utah, support for Iraq War and Bush fading.” On November 9, the Tribune ran an article announcing: “Utah to open office to aid refugees.” Tribune writer Sheena McFarland reported, “A new Refugee Service Office will open in the Department of Workforce Services by the time the Legislature begins.” The Refugee Working Group, convened by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, announced that the new Refugee Service Office would open by January 2008. Huntsman said refugees would continue to come to the United States and to Utah “because we are a land of opportunity and hope, and that will always attract those fleeing oppression.”

Newly appointed Utah Refugee Service Office Director Gerald Brown wrote in Refugees 101, “The Utah Refugee Service Office was created as a result of the community’s demand for better support and services for refugees resettled in Utah.” Brown pointed out that refugees are survivors who deserve our help and support. “Giving refugees assistance in the beginning of their new lives in the U.S. ensures productive, contributing citizens for the future,” Brown wrote. “The best thing that a person can do for refugees is to befriend them.” Huntsman described the office as “a clearinghouse of information for the 20,000 refugees currently living in Utah and specifically for newly arrived refugees.”

Conclusions:

United States foreign policy resulted in nearly 2 million Iraqis being forced to flee from their homes. While at first the conflict in the Middle East did not directly affect most of the residents of Utah, over time more and more Iraqi refugees sought asylum in the United States and, in some cases, in Utah. The forward-thinking of former Huntsman and Corroon resulted in the establishment of a new Utah State government agency, the Utah Refugee Service Office, which aimed to help Iraqi war and other refugees arriving in Utah to adjust and thrive. As turmoil around the world increases, Utahns can expect that more and more refugees will find their way to Utah and seek assistance from the Utah Refugee Service Office.

Bonnie Adamsson-Vorwaller is a nontraditional student at The University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in documentary studies. Ms. Adamsson-Vorwaller has worked professionally with refugees since 1989. She worked with Christian refugees from Russia and Buddhist refugees from Cambodia and Viet Nam while living in Portland, Oregon. She worked with refugee survivors of domestic violence while living in Chicago, Illinois. And she worked with Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Iraq while living in Austin, Texas. As a young woman, she studied International Relations at BYU for five years. Adamsson-Vorwaller has been a resident of Utah off and on since 1966. She is a widow and a single mother of an “absolutely beautiful” teenage daughter. Adamsson-Vorwaller and her daughter actively and publicly protested the Iraq War while living in Austin.

 

Sources

Sheena McFarland, “Utah to open office to aid refugees,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 9, 2007.

Matthew D. LaPlante, “Even in Republican Utah, support for Iraq War and Bush fading,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 2007.

“530 Iraqis admitted, but pledge may fall short,” Deseret Morning News, September 5, 2007.

Richard Warnick,“Strategic Reset,” OneUtah.org, June 25, 2007.

Nihal Hassan, “‘50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution: Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria,” The Independent, June 24, 2007.

Laura Hancock, “UVSC prof has mission in Mideast,” Deseret Morning News, June 2, 2007.

Robert Dallek, “Robert Dallek: Iraq and Vietnam: Inevitable comparisons,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 21, 2007.

“Welcoming Iraqis: Refugees deserve our compassion, help,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 2007.

Jennifer W. Sanchez, “Iraq war refugees heading to Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 2007.

Elaine Jarvik, “Dozens of refugees Utah-bound in fall,” Deseret Morning News, May 15, 2007.

“Iraqis in the U.S. cheer war-refugee clearance,” Deseret Morning News, February 15, 2007.

Carolyn Lochhead, “Conflict in Iraq: Iraq refugee crisis exploding, 40% of middle class believed to have fled crumbling nation,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 2007.

“Allow more Iraqis into U.S.,” Deseret Morning News, January 3, 2007.

Rick Klein, “Kennedy book blasts Bush, ‘preventive war,’” Boston Globe, April 5, 2006.

Ewen MacAskill, “George Bush: ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq,’” The Guardian, October 7, 2005.

Deborah Amos, “Flood of Iraqi Refugees Strains Jordan,” National Public Radio broadcast, July 16, 2004.

Oleg Artyukov, “George W. Bush: We Bring Freedom to the Iraqi People,” Pravda, January 4, 2003.

Gerald Brown, “Refugees 101,” Utah Refugee Services Offices, Utah Department of Workforce Services, April 10, 2012.

Rhoda Margesson, Andorra Bruno, Jeremy M. Sharp, “Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Report No. 7-5700, February 13, 2009.

Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007: House Bill S.1651-IS,” June 17, 2007.

“Refugee Resettlement in Utah: 2000-2009,” Utah Refugee Services Offices, January 2010.

Status of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Processing for Iraqi Nationals,” Middle East Regional Office, United States Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Office of Inspector General, Unclassified Report, Report Number MERO-IQO-08-02, July 2008.

2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons,” United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), Field Information and Coordination Support Section (FICSS), Division of Operational Services, Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2009.

Topaz Internment Camp and how Japanese Citizens were Portrayed to the Public

by CLINTON CURTIS

In 1942 Millard County was very different from the way it is viewed today, because it was home to the Central Utah Relocation Center, commonly known as “Topaz.” Many residents of Japanese ancestry were relocated and isolated at Topaz as a safety precaution to the United States entry into World War II. A total sum of “120,000 Japanese Americans were placed in concentration camps, 70,000 of these internees were United States citizens by birth.” (Sundquist, 532) These residents of Japanese ancestry were rounded up by the United States Army and forced to leave their homes, occupations, and lives. They were told to pack one suitcase per person and be on their way. This Executive Order had been passed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, along with the support from the Justice Department and the War Department. Ten different Relocation Centers were erected in California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, and Arkansas during the spring and summer of 1942. (Sundquist, 532)

Just a couple days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps. One of these camps was right here in Millard County, Utah. Through all of this mayhem the news media were able to collect information and print what they found in their articles. Much of this information was very valuable to many Americans; knowing that the Japanese Americans were contained in internment camps helped them think that they were safe. The print media printed articles surrounding the entry into the internment camps, movement of internees amongst the internment camps, and the selective service for the Nisei who were currently held in the internment camps. The articles that I focused on were articles written and published by the Topaz Times, the camp newspaper that covered many important moments through WWII.

Photograph taken inside the Central Utah Relocation Center, commonly known as Topaz. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

An article titled “The Nisei and the Selective Service” discusses the options that the Japanese Americans had concluding their placement in the internment camps. The Japanese American citizens who chose to work in war plants had to acquire a “War Plant Clearance,” although these permits were not given out to them frequently. The few who had been granted a permit had very strict rules to their release from the internment camp. The citizens were not allowed to return back to their homes, and they were not allowed in the Atlantic, Gulf, or West Coast. With this permit that they had been granted they were simply allowed to work in the war plant. The Japanese American men who decided to join the Armed Forces had very strict rules as well. “Other than a very small group of Japanese American troops who were allowed to serve with the Americans, a majority of the Japanese American troops were not allowed to serve with the other Americans and were enlisted to the 442nd battalion.” (Sundquist, 533)

Another article titled “Court Convicts Nisei on Draft Charge” helps give a picture of what happened to many of the Japanese American men who had signed up for the Armed Forces, but decided not to show up. George Jiro Sugihara, who was only 19 at the time and felt that he owed nothing to the United States Armed Forces, was charged guilty under the Selective Service Act for not showing up for his induction into the Armed Forces. This was only one article, but this article explains the consequences to the decisions that many Japanese Americans made, whether they decided to join the Armed Forces or stay in the internment camps.

While the Japanese Americans were staying at the internment camps their mail was supervised. An article by the Topaz Times titled, “Instructions Released on Internee Mail,” explained the process that the internees along with the internment camps took before sending their mail. All of the internees had to send their mail to New York with the title “Prisoner of war mail—free” at the upper right-hand corner. This new rule was established to censor what the Japanese Americans were allowed to say to either others in internment camps or others outside of the internment camps.

I was able to find two articles published by the Topaz Times that discussed stories by families who were reunited in internment camps. One of the articles was titled “5 Internees Here From New Mexico”; the other article was titled “9 Internees Join Families.” In both, the Santa Fe internment camp sent family members to the Topaz internment camp, so the families could be reunited. These two articles give you a background idea that the American internment camps did have sympathy. The internment camp directors made an effort to make sure that families had the opportunity to be reunited.

External view of Topaz. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

During the year of 1945 when World War II ended, the Japanese Americans were allowed to leave the internment camp. Although this was a very joyous time for many of the internees, there were articles published about the dangers that the Japanese Americans faced upon returning home. A Topaz Times article titled “Shots Fired on Returnee’s Home” gave the readers an insight to the prejudice individuals were subjected to once they were released from the internment camp. Late one night at the Fresno, California, home of Setsugo Sakamoto, two shots were fired at his house. Mr. Sakamoto had just returned from the internment camp a month prior to this event with his family. This article shows that even though the Japanese Americans were released and freed from the internment camp, they still faced many dangerous hardships upon their arrival back to their homes.

The last article that I found very interesting was titled “A Letter.” This article explains that the government had started to compile the information about the Japanese American internees. This compilation would serve as a “permanent reference file of America’s history.”

These articles were a great representation depicting the news coverage during wartime. It is very important to see how the news coverage has varied from the past to present day. As communication majors the past affects our present and future. To see how the news was covered in the past can help you either adopt or revise the past and create a new style of news reporting for the future. I have been very surprised to read about the Topaz internment camp. Even though this was during a time when everyone was very suspicious, the internment camps still tried to make it easier on their internees. For instance, they would transport their internees in order for them to reunite with their families.

Clinton Curtis is graduating in August 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication and a minor in psychology. This information is very important to myself and to my family history. My grandfather was placed into an internment camp in Idaho and shortly after he was drafted into the war. My grandfather was specifically drafted into WWII under the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Sources

“5 Internees Here from New Mexico,” Topaz Times, November 2, 1943.

“9 Internees Join Families,” Topaz Times, July, 13, 1943.

“A Letter,” Topaz Times, July 17, 1943.

“Court Convicts Nisei on Draft Charge,” Topaz Times, November 26, 1945.

“Editorial,” Topaz Times, August 15, 1942.

“Instructions Released on Internee Mail,” Topaz Times, February 12, 1943.

“The Nisei and the Selective Service,” Topaz Times, April 1, 1944.

“Shots Fired on Returnee’s Home,” Topaz Times, May 15, 1945.

“Photograph 1 inside Topaz internment camp”. Marriot Library Special Collections.

“Photograph 2 taken outside of Topaz internment camp”. Marriot Library Special Collections.

Robert Shaffer, “Opposition To Internment: Defending Japanese American Rights During World War II” Historian 61, no. 3 (1999): 597.

Dolores Flamiano, “Japanese American Internment In Popular Magazines,” Journalism History 36, no. 1 (2010): 23-35.

Eric J. Sundquist, “The Japanese-American Internment,” American Scholar (1999): 529-47.

Iosepa: The Polynesian Colony of Utah

Iosepa, Utah, residents celebrating Pioneer Day, August 28, 1914. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

by PENI TAGOAI

History—The LDS Church sent missionaries to the South Pacific as early as 1844, three years prior to the pioneers settling the Salt Lake Valley. When the first LDS missionaries arrived in Hawaii and other Polynesian islands, they were unsuccessful. None of the native Hawaiians and Polynesians were interested in their message. As the missionaries were able to learn the language and culture of the people they served among, they began to see more Polynesians interested in their message and eventually many of them joined the LDS Church. The Hawaiians, Samoans, and other Polynesians who were converted to the LDS Church desired to join the saints in Utah in the settling of the Salt Lake Valley. Unfortunately, due to the laws of the Hawaiian government, they were not able to leave the islands until the laws relaxed in or around 1875. (Panek)

By 1889 there were about 75 Polynesians in the Salt Lake Valley. With the majority being Hawaiian, they settled in Warm Springs, Utah (Beck’s Hot Springs). Language barriers and culture differences made it difficult for these Polynesians to adapt to life in Utah. As a result, this led to difficulty in finding employment, which then led to a difficulty in providing for their families. (Panek)  Also challenging for these Polynesians was the fact that rumors had spread about the islanders having leprosy. The Salt Lake Herald reported on June 20, 1896, that “although rumors prevail to the effect that one had appeared ere they were settled on the lands composing the small settlement.”

On May 16, 1889, the First Presidency of the LDS Church put a together a committee to find a permanent home for these Polynesians. This group included three men: Harvey H. Cluff, William W. Cluff, and Fred A. Mitchell. They presented the plan to the Polynesians in Warm Springs to find them a home. The Polynesians selected three men of their own to join this committee: J. W. Kaulainamoku, George Kamakaniau, and Napela (First Hawaiian convert and first Hawaiian to visit Utah). (Atkin) This plan was welcomed warmly and with excitement to have a place they could call their home.

The land unanimously voted on as the home for these Polynesians is located at Skull Valley in Tooele County. Tropical landscapes filled with beaches and greenery were traded for desert farm land. George Fredric Stratton of the Salt Lake Herald described a trip into Skull Valley in 1915 from Salt Lake City: “Forty miles to an early breakfast at Granstville [Tooele County], then another forty miles across the desert took them into Iosepa.”

The land in Skull Valley was owned by John T. Rich. Chosen over three other locations from Utah, Cache, and Weber counties, it provided the best farming land that could potentially provide financial means and accommodate growth. Their new home was named Iosepa after the boy missionary, Joseph F. Smith. He was called to serve a mission to the Hawaiian Islands when he was 15 years of age. The colony was named in his honor using the Hawaiian translation of Joseph. (Atkin)

Life in Iosepa—The Polynesians, numbering about 50 people, moved into their new home August 28, 1889. Work immediately started on the layout plans of the town. In an interview with the Daily Enquirer November 5, 1889, Harvey H. Cluff pointed out that the newly established colony was part of an incorporated company named the Iosepa Agricultural and Stock Company (IASC). Cluff pointed out that the colony would have the opportunity to work for IASC and in turn have a more comfortable home. He added that a public square had been laid out, four center streets designated, a day school had been planned, and homes were being built for the community’s increasing numbers.

In time Iosepa expanded and the LDS Church purchased 800 additional acres. This increased the land that was being cultivated from 200 acres to 400 acres. The ability to provide sufficient water played a major role in this expansion. On November 9, 1908, the Deseret Evening News reported that the irrigation canal that was under construction was now complete. The newspaper describe the irrigation engineering as “remarkable, of passing through the mountains with the canal by which the waters of the different streams were intercepted and brought together.”

Due to financial pressures, the LDS Church and Iosepa were tempted to rent out part of their farmland to Samuel Woolley of Grantsville who would hire the Polynesians to work the land in return. (Panek) In 1904, colony president Thomas A. Waddoups spoke about the signs of self-sufficiency. The Deseret Evening News reported on the productive harvest of the year: 1,000 tons of hay, 250 beeves [beef], several hundred stock of cattle, 5,200 bushels of wheat and barley, 800 bushels of potatoes, 50 tons of squash, 600 bushels of corn. Similar to other colonies, there are financial difficulties at first and it can take time to become self-sufficient. The Iosepa colony of the LDS Church was no exception.

Life in Iosepa was affected by the economic circumstances because of the need to survive. The need to educate the people of Iosepa was also made a priority within the first year of its existence.The Daily Enquirer interviewed Harvey H. Cluff, who was  then president of the Iosepa colony, on November 1, 1889. He said,  “A day school will be set in operation as soon as the people are properly located for the winter, when such class instruction to the more advanced male and female population as will conduce to the improvement of the people socially, religiously, morally, and in cleanliness, will be given from time to time.”

On September 3, 1910, 21 years after that initial interview with Harvey H. Cluff, the Deseret Evening News reported that the school in Iosepa had been very successful. “All these years a good free school has been maintained…. The native Hawaiians make rapid progress from 6 years up to 16 and 17 years, outstripping the white children.”

They also had to make sure their culture and identity remained intact.  Social activities were planned around LDS Church activities because the colony was under the direction of the LDS Church. Every year the same important dates took place:

  • Hawaiian Pioneer day, August 28
  • New Years Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Polynesian day, celebrated every time LDS Church officials visited—about four times a year. (Atkin)

Festivities included a pig roast, traditional Polynesian food, and traditional Polynesian music and dance from each island represented in Iosepa. The Deseret Evening News reported on September 2, 1905, about one of the annual celebrations commemorating the Polynesian’s first arrival into Skull Valley: “7 o’clock this morning two dressed pigs weighing over 100 pounds each, were placed whole in a pit, where a fire, hours old, had heated stones in the bottom to an intense heat…. At 8 o’clock a dance commenced in the amusement hall of the colony, and the fun was furious until 12 o’clock midnight.” By cooking in the methods of their homeland, they preserved their culture and educated their youth about their native cultures.

In 1915, the LDS Church announced the building of the Laie, Hawaii Temple on the island of O’ahu. This announcement ushered in the closing of the Iosepa colony along with the offer from the LDS Church to pay the settlers’ fares back to Hawaii. (Atkin) By 1916, several of the Polynesian residents of Iosepa returned home. The Maui News reported on November 3, 1916, that 17 of the Iosepa pioneers arriving on the ship, Sierra, as “going old and gray-haired” moving into yet another “Mormon colony” this time in their homeland located at “Laie, windward O’ahu.” By 1917, Iosepa was almost entirely abandoned save a few residents (Atkin), breaking up one of the oddest pairings of the 20th century: the tropically-grown people of Polynesia and the desolate farmlands of Utah.

Peni Tagoai is a senior at the University of Utah, graduating in August 2012. His major is in speech communication with a minor in international studies. He grew up on the North Shore of O’ahu.

Sources

“Iosepa, The Kanaka Colony in Tooele County,” Daily Enquirer, November 1, 1889.

“Leprosy in the Kanaka Settlement,” Salt Lake Herald, June 20, 1896.

“Conference at Iosepa,” Deseret Evening News, November 26, 1904.

“Iosepa, Hawaiian Celebration,” Deseret Evening News, September 2, 1905.

“Big Event for Iosepa Colony,” Deseret Evening News, November 9, 1908.

“Hawaiian Village of Iosepa Celebrates Twenty-first Birthday,” Deseret Evening News, September 3, 1910.

George Frederic Stratton, “From Salt Lake to South Sea Islands,” Salt Lake Herald, September 5, 1915.

“On The Other Islands,” The Maui News, November 3, 1916, 5.

Tracey E. Panek, “Life at Iosepa, Utah’s Polynesian Colony,” in Proclamation to the People: Nineteeneth-century Mormon and the Pacific Basin Frontier, ed. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp and Reid L. Neilson (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2008), 170-81.

Dennis H. Atkin, History of Iosepa, The Utah Polynesian Colony (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1958).

The World War II Japanese Relocation Center in Delta, Utah

by WES A. HANCOCK

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, a large Japanese naval fleet attacked the U.S. Navy that was docked in the pier at Pearl Harbor. Most of the crew aboard these ships was still asleep when the attack began. The attack would last two hours, but in those two hours nearly 20 ships and 200 aircraft were destroyed, more than 2,000 men were killed, and nearly 1,000 more wounded. The following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war. Congress approved the declaration of war against Japan, with only one vote against. The United States was now a part of the Second World War, with enemies on two fronts; the U.S. would have to fight two wars, one in Europe and the other in the Pacific. (History.com)

Within only a few months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American government and its citizens would succumb to the fear that Japanese-Americans were working for the enemy. On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt would issue Executive Order 9066. This order would become one of the darkest stains in American history. This order allowed for the creation of what were called relocation camps. In reality they were not much different from the concentration camps found in Germany that were holding Jews. The U.S. camps were not for captured POWs; they were to hold Japanese-Americans, most of whom were citizens of the United States, and many of them were “Nisei,” the Japanese word meaning second generation, or Japanese who had been born in the United States. (HistoryMatters.gmu.edu)

The United States would build ten of these relocation camps, but for the  purpose of this paper I will focus mainly on the camp located in Delta, Utah, by Topaz Mountain, which is how the camp received its nickname, the Topaz Internment Camp. This relocation center would be in operation from September 11, 1941, to October 31, 1945.

During my initial research I was surprised to learn that a newspaper was printed at Topaz during the years of the internment camp. The paper was called the Topaz Times. The paper was started in an internment camp in California, the Tanforan internment camp, but when the Japanese-Americans who were living there were transferred to the Topaz internment camp in 1942, the paper changed its name to the Topaz Times. (Utah Digital Newspaper)

I could not imagine life as an interned prisoner, and that is exactly what the Japanese-Americans who lived at these internment camps were. They were not guests at a social club for a visit, they had been taken from their homes in America, relocated across the country and forced to live in these camps. But when you read the first issue of Topaz Times, those who wrote the articles in the paper try to paint a very different picture.

The first thing you see on the front page of the first issue in large letters along the banner is, “Welcome to Topaz.” The project director of the camp, Charles F. Erast, wrote a column on the front page called “Greetings,” in which he wrote, “You will be shown every respect as befits the dignity and importance which belongs to every human being.” Many of the articles in this issue followed the same pattern, trying to convince the Japanese-Americans that they were in the best and most humane internment camp, and that it was in their best interest to be there. (Topaz Times, September 17, 1942, 1)

Comments were made that the Japanese-American who resided at Camp Topaz would enjoy luxuries such running water and toilets that flushed. The writers of the paper even went as far as changing the language and terms that the Japanese-Americans had become accustomed to at other internment camps. The “Mess Hall” became the “Dining Hall,” “Internal Police” would be known as the “Safety Council,” and the “Evacuees” were to be known as “Residents.” All these changes were attempts at creating the illusion that the American government/people had done nothing wrong by imprisoning Japanese-Americans solely on the connection that they were descendants from Japan, and could be a potential enemy inside the borders of the United States. (Topaz Times, September 17, 1942, 2)

Though the United States believed that interning Japanese-Americans was the right thing to do during a time of war, the United States was exactly that, at war, and not just a war on one front but two. The United States needed men to fight on these two fronts, and they needed them badly enough that the idea of those who were in the relocation centers that could prove their loyalty to the United States would be allowed to enter military service and leave the camps.

It would seem that many Japanese-Americans who were at Topaz elected this option, for not only if they entered the service, those with family would be allowed to leave and live in homes outside of the relocation centers. An article in the Topaz Times called “Restrictions on Evacuees in Utah Counties Relaxed,” informs those who are considered fit for military service that they will be allowed to leave the camp with their family, and that when their husband leaves for the military the family will not be expected to return to the internment center. Simply put, they had earned their freedom; it might only cost them the life of their husband as he fought on the frontlines, for a freedom that had been taken away from them. (Topaz Times, April 19, 1944, 5)

I found it interesting that the United States had excluded an entire group of people from living among the general population, unless individuals proved their loyalty and served in the military. But the rest who could not serve or would not take the test to prove their loyalty would still be used in other facets. One article noted that the Japanese-Americans who were living in the relocation centers would be allowed to vote during an upcoming election. Here we have a country that was afraid that the enemy had people living within the United States borders, but would allow them to vote and influence who would be elected to office. The United States treated these people as an enemy by locking them up, taking away the basic right to live freely, but yet they were expected to vote in an election for the same government that had just taken their basic right of freedom away. (Topaz Times, April 12, 1944, 4)

As the war neared an end in the Pacific Front, opinion toward those interned in the camps would change as well. An article titled “The Nisei will Rise Again” gives light to those who elected to serve in the military. Even though they had been discriminated against they answered the call to rise and fight a war against what was called “a common enemy,” despite the fact that they were descendants of Japanese immigrants. It was said in this article that these men had proved beyond any doubt that they were faithful to the cause of democracy. (Topaz Times, April 6, 1944, 2)

At this same time in the nation, the war was coming to a close, though it was not known how the war was going to end. A published article discussed that the American people needed to start readying for the return and release of the Japanese-Americans who had been interned in the relocation centers. The article gave the sense that the American people now missed their American-Japanese neighbors, and that it was now time to make them feel welcome at home upon their return. (Topaz Times, April 12, 1944, 5)

I don’t know how I would react upon my release from a prison sentence, especially one that was imposed against me just because of my race or ethnicity. I don’t know how I would feel about the country that had just imprisoned me or if I would have any loyalty left toward such a nation. I wonder how many Japanese-Americans left the States, or even returned to Japan due to their treatment at these relocation centers. We have to remember the treatment of those that were forced to relocate to these camps, mainly so that we never make this same mistake in our history again.

Wes Hancock served in the United States Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon discharge from active duty, he began his studies at The University of Utah, majoring in mass communication/new media with a minor in art and entertainment.


Sources

“Restrictions on Evacuees in Utah Counties Relaxed,” Topaz Times, April 19, 1944, 5.

Donald Culross Peattie, “Persecutors of Nisei Denounced by AAF Captain In TIME Magazine,” Topaz Times, April 19, 1944, 4.

“Nisei May Still Register for November 7 Elections,” Topaz Times, April 12, 1944, 4.

“Nisei Feels Like a Child ‘Kicked Out’ from Home,” Topaz Times, April 12, 1944, 5.

“The Nisei Will Rise Again,” Topaz Times, April 8, 1944, 2.

Charles F. Ernst, “Greetings,” Topaz Times, September 17, 1942, 1.

“Pearl Harbor,” History.com, http://bit.ly/h7rEKt

Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Executive Order No. 9066,” HistoryMatters, http://bit.ly/ft7KZ8

“Teaching with Documents: Documents and Photographs related to Japanese Relocation During World War II,” National Archives, http://1.usa.gov/695LHZ

“Topaz Times Archive,” Denso Digital Archive, http://bit.ly/yIjX9i

“About World War II Japanese-American Internment Camp Documents, 1942-1946,” Ancestry.com, http://ancstry.me/zfFSxh

“Topaz Times,” Utah Digital Newspaper, http://bit.ly/GZcdy3

Fortunato Anselmo

by LAURA NIELSON NEWBOLD

From 1890 to the 1920s, Utah became home to thousands of Italian immigrants. This second wave of Italian immigrants exerted by far the most influence on the development of Utah, and the development of Italian culture in Utah. Unlike the first wave of Italian immigrants, in the late 19th century, this second wave included immigrants from all parts of Italy, most notably Calabria and Sicily and the northern regions of Trentino and Piedmont. As a result of this increase of Italian Americans, a Little Italy soon developed and spread across the western part of Salt Lake City near the Rio Grande railroad station. Due to the influence of a devout Catholic following, a parish began holding meetings at St. Patrick church in downtown Salt Lake City. (Notarianni) It was this enviroment in which Fortunato Anselmo, one of Utah’s most famous Italian Americans, raised his family and thrived.

"Italian fighter Primo Carnera (left), visits Italian Vice Consul Fortunato Anselmo at 164 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, May 1930."

Born October 1, 1883, in Grimaldi, Italy, Fortunato Anselmo immigrated to Pueblo, Colorado, in the early 1900s. There he met and married Anna Pagano, and the couple had three daughters, Gilda, Annette, and Emma. In 1911, Anselmo and his family moved to Salt Lake City and started F. Anselmo & Co., an imported wholesale Italian food store. With the store’s success, he opened another in Carbon County, where many Italian immigrants had settled to work on the nearby railroads and mines. With so much interaction with fellow Italian immigrants, Anselmo started La Gazzetta Italiana in 1912, to give a voice to the concerns and interests of his fellow immigrants. He quickly established himself as a representative of Italian Utahns, particularly those in the Salt Lake Valley. (Notarianni)

In 1915, he was appointed vice consul of Italy of Salt Lake City and the official adviser to Utah and Wyoming Italians. As such, he presided over all the official documents that required the approval of the Italian government, such as requests for visas, passports, and other papers and documents. He also served as a representative of the Bank of Naples, a prestigious institution and one of Italy’s oldest banks. This position allowed him to help local Italians send money orders to friends and relatives in Italy as well as provide the proper paperwork for traveling immigrants. (Notarianni)

Beyond these responsibilities, Anselmo also participated in many of the local political and social issues of the community. One endeavor he is well known for was his lobbying of the Utah State Legislature to have Columbus Day proclaimed a legal state holiday. While his efforts ultimately failed, Columbus Day did eventually become a holiday in 1919. (Notarianni; Chiariglione)

In addition to being a businessman and diplomat, Anselmo was well known for his magnanimity. Despite not being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -day Saints, his generosity was spread to some of the most prominent Mormons at the time. In 1943, J. Reuben Clark Jr., a member of the Church’s First Presidency and namesake of Brigham Young University’s Law School, wrote Anselmo a letter thanking him for the cheese he sent him. Clark wrote, “As I am sure you like cheese (you can hardly like it better than I do), and as you know as well as I how hard good cheese is to get just now, I feel very certain that you will understand me when I say I am most thankful to  you for your thoughtfulness in sending to me that large portion of Gorgonzola cheese.” (Clark)

Similarly, the entire First Presidency of the Church wrote Anselmo in 1946 to thank him for the olive oil he gave them. They noted, “We are all beneficiaries of you gracious kindness in the matter of a supply of pure Italian olive oil. It has been so long since we were able to secure any of this oil that it is a real luxury. Please accpet our thanks for this splendid gift and accept also our sincere wishes for your welfare.” (Smith, Clark, and McKay)

One of his sadder diplomatic duties took him to the site of a mining accident. In 1924, Castle Gate suffered a mine explosion in which 172 men were killed, twenty-two of them Italian immigrants. As one of the most well known Italian Utahns at the time, Anselmo traveled to Castle Gate to offer his services and condolences to the devastated town. (“Castle Gate Relief Fund”)

At other points in his career, Anselmo rubbed shoulders with celebrities and dignitaries from around the world. In 1922, Anselmo and his wife entertained Vittorio Rolandi-Ricci, the Italian ambassador to the United States. Governor Mabey, the Utah governor at the time, was so impressed with Anselmo’s hosting abilities that he wrote him a letter saying, “I would indeed be remiss in my duty if I did not convey to you my cordial appreciation for the splendid reception accorded your esteemed countryman, Ambassador Ricci. In every respect the ceremonies and entertainment were commendable, and the committee in charge is to be heartily congratulated.” In 1930, the Anselmo family was treated to a visit by Italian heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera, who is depicted in the photograph. Probably the most distinguished guest Anselmo had the opportunity to greet was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would eventually become Pope Pius XII. (Notarianni; Mabey)

Anselmo’s favor with the Italian government and their diplomats actually began early on in his career as vice consul. On Feburary 3, 1920, after only five years of being vice consul, he was made a Knight of the Crown of Italy and Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy. These awards, much like being knighted in England, are only given to those believed to have offered great service to the Italian government. Most who are awarded with such an honor are military men or important political figures. The fact that Anselmo was awarded with both honors speaks volumes of about how valued he was as a diplomat. (Notarianni; “Italian Consul Honored By King”)

Despite these honors, Benito Mussolini forced Anselmo to resign from his position as vice consul in 1923 after Anselmo completed the naturalization process and became a United States citizen. However, he was ordered to maintain the position until a successor could be appointed.  Nobody else was ever appointed, and in 1941, the US government ordered the office to close entirely. (Notarianni; Monson)

In addition to forcing him out of his position as vice consul, becoming a naturalized citizen incited distrust in terms of Anselmo’s allegiance to America. Some even went as far as to claim he was un-American and began a movement to denaturalize Anselmo. These rumors and defamations caused many to speak out on behalf of Anselmo and his family. One notable writer, Secretary Gus P. Backman of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to Burton W. Musser. Backman writes:

I have been personally acquainted with Mr. Anselmo for fifteen to eighteen years …. During the entire time I have know Mr. Anselmo, he has always conducted himself in a most outstanding manner, has also been rated by me, as well as by the people of the community in general, as a forthright, honorable business man. His business ethics have always been above reproach and any question as to his Americanism and loyalty to American ideals has never to my knowledge been raised …. This letter is written due to the fact that I understand some one has started a movement to denaturalize Mr. Anselmo which, in my opinion, would be outrageous …. (Backman)

Fortunately for Anselmo, the movement to denaturalize him failed. In 1950, the office of vice consul was reopened, and the position was returned to Anselmo. He served in that position until he died on July 15, 1965. (Notarianni) Zopito Valentino, an Italian American author, has since eulogized Anselmo with the following:

For how long have the Italians of Utah known Anselmo? For how long have they looked to him for help, protection and advice? Who ever saw his door closed? Who ever found his heart indifferent? He is always ready to extend the glad hand, to help and protect, to offer his counsel and to give liberally. A more generous heart does not exist and a better soul is not to be found. (Valentino)

Today, visitors can learn about Anselmo Fortunato and his family by visiting his home, located at 164 S. 900 East in Salt Lake City. His house has been preserved as a historical monument by the Utah State Historical Society. Visitors may also visit the Utah State Historical Society for more information about Anselmo and other notable Utahns.

Laura Nielson Newbold is a communication major at The University of Utah. She will be graduated this year with a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication and plans to attend the University of Utah S.J. Quinney Law School in the fall. Her husband, Sean Newbold, translated all of the Italian documents into English.

Sources

Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Folders 1-15, Box 1, 1917-1963, Utah State Historical Society.

Governor Charles R. Mabey to Fortunato Anselmo, May 19, 1922, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

Secretary Gus P. Backman to Burton W. Musser, March 19, 1943, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

Secretary of State E. E. Monson to Fortunato Anselmo, July 12, 1941, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

Salt Lake Tribune article, “Italian Consul Honored By King,” February 3, 1920, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

J. Reuben Clark Jr. to Fortunato Anselmo, March 30, 1943, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay to Fortunato Anselmo, November 29,1946, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

Prop H. Chiariglione to Fortunato Anselmo, January 6, 1917, Fortunato Anselmo Papers, Mss B 103, Utah State Historical Society.

Philip F. Notarianni, “Italianità in Utah: The Immigrant Experience,” in Helen Z. Papanikolas, ed., The Peoples of Utah. Salt Lake City: Utah Historical Society, 1976.

Zopito Valentino, Italian Activities of the Intermountain Region (1965-1975)

Castle Gate Relief Fund Committee.” Division of Archives and Records Service, Department of Administration Services.

Ordini Cavallereschi del Regno d’Italia, Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana.

Statutes of the Order of Merit of Savoy