Chapter 97

Kailua, Hawai‘i, Aug. 19, 1920

Haru stood at the rear railing of the Matson ship pulling away from the Kailua pier moorings and waved to the hundreds of well wishers blinking into the early rays of the sun skimming the ocean’s horizon. She inhaled the rich coffee aromas rising from the ship’s hold. While Kenta, strapped to her back, played with her right earlobe, Haru’s eyes roved about, trying to make contact with the picture brides she and Kame had recruited, all now waving at her. She recognized several husbands, once carousers and gamblers who had been transformed into responsible family men. How fortunate, she reflected, that she had matched up most of the men with wives before Japan had self-imposed a “Ladies Agreement,” banning picture brides. The postwar nativist movement sweeping America had cited picture brides, who worked alongside their husbands, as a sneaky way of circumventing the 1907 Gentleman’s Agreement banning immigration of laborers. Congress dropped efforts to stop all Japanese immigration once Japan had preempted the legislation with its own ban.

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