#25 Sugar Beet Farms

by Laurie Ann Mangru

Sugar beet farms meant no separation.

That year they moved us to Slocan where we sat huddled together in one of the makeshift homes that had been hastily nailed together. The tents outside, of those less fortunate, blew violently in the bitter wind. My teeth chattered as I watched my mother preparing dinner in her yellow dress. It was then that I learned what the word “betrayer” meant. Strangers overseas had labeled us “betrayers”. Here, we were simply “the enemy”.

Papa was sent to a road camp. Mama told stories about Papa and his work on the highway. Her voice took the frosty bite out of the air as we sat envisioning Papa laboring far away.

Then came the CUSTODIAN OF ALIENS ACT. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew what happened. Mama cried silently when she thought we were asleep. She loved that yellow dress, but it disappeared along with everything else. Some days Mama would search for her yellow dress and cry when she remembered it was gone, along with Papa. Papa would buy her a prettier dress after the war, we said.

“Sugar beet farms mean no separation,” Papa’s letter read. We were to meet him out east where we would work together on one of the farms in Alberta. Mama wanted to pack her yellow dress.

These are torn fragments of a lost time. A painting awakens those memories. A foreign, red flag obliterated by a white light. Memories rekindled. Japan. Canada. War.


Anonymous said...

This one's very moving. Wonderful splashes of color for metaphor.

Dino Parenti said...

This one's very moving. Wonderful splashes of color for metaphor.

Sam Knight said...

Nice mixture of hope and despair. The use of the yellow dress is almost a shock in the middle of the loss. At the end, though, I wasn't sure I like being pulled forwards into the future without any knowledge of what had eventually happened.

Flutterby said...

Nice portrayal of this family hardship.

JRVogt said...

Excellent cultural piece full of strong emotion.