Susan Nunes
Published with Permission
Sketches by Ryo Shinoda

Editor’s note: In observance of Veterans Day, we are pleased to share with you this excerpt from writer Susan Nunes’ short story, “Biffontaine.” It is part of her collection of short stories titled “Paradise Café: A Family Memoir in Stories.” Nunes is a Hilo native who now lives in Berkeley, Calif. Her mother’s brother, Ryo Shinoda, served in Italy and France with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He kept a sketchbook of drawings from his basic training days at Camp Shelby, Miss., and through combat in Italy and France. Ryo Shinoda’s ink drawings and watercolor paintings — pictured throughout this story — depicted the daily life of his fellow soldiers. Susan Nunes said her uncle would send his sketches home to his sister (Nunes’ mother), Shiho Shinoda Nunes, with his letters. Another of her uncles, Minoru Shinoda, served in the Military Intelligence Service in World War II.

Naniwabushi. A way of telling a story in song interspersed with drums and clapping for dramatic effect.

Hilo, April 1, 1942. As Henry Iwashita rounds the corner near his law office, he sees an elderly woman in a white apron standing beneath the barber’s pole across the street. It’s Mrs. Nakamura, and she’s waving her copy of the same newspaper Henry has under his arm, only this one she purchased in front of the gas works on the other side of town. The Japanese newspaper that used to be delivered to her shop was shut down in December. Henry glances at his watch, sighs and crosses the street.

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