Sunday, September 11, 2005

Tukufu who?

I watched a segment of the PBS History Detectives tonight. Especially engrossing were the peregrinations gone through by one exotically-monikered HD regular, Tukufu Zuberi (If I---Bill Reed---had a name like that, I could die happy), to unravel the provenance of some signed WW II Japanese internment camp watercolors. I must admit that I was held captive---so to speak---by TZ's back-and-forth flights across the U.S., racking up gazillions of frequent flyer miles in his search to uncover the "mystery" of the delicate renderings. And I'll confess that my jaw dropped to the floor on more than one occasion as this road show Miss Marple peeled away subsequent layers of the picaresque tale.

The segment concludes with our inveterate sleuth, mit camera crew in tow, knocking on the door of a certain George Tamura in Washington state and revealing to him the portfolio of ten or so watercolors that he had painted more than sixty years ago while confined as a fifteen-year-old in the Tule Lake, CA camp and had not seen since then. Kinda brought a tear to the old eye.

Ultimately, though, I feel a tad had, because after HD was over I was able to immediately trot over to my pc and, with a mere two strokes of the keyboard on Google, i.e. "George T. Tamura" + "internment," solve the self-same so-called mystery.

It seems that Tamura-san had taken his reparations from the 1990 internment U.S. government settlement and self-published a book, Reflections, on his experiences as a detainee. Existence of which has been noted on the net for years in advance of the recent HD segment. (I wonder if this is the same GTT who wrote Smoke Control for High Rise Building Fires AND co-wrote Pressure Drop Characteristics of Typical Airshafts in High-Rise Buildings? Tukufu?. . . Anyone?)

To paraphrase the immortal words of the equally immortal Thelma Ritter in All About Eve, "What a story! Everything but the hound dogs yapping at his [Tukufu's] rear end." Maybe they should call the program "History Drama Queens" instead.

Makes me think of that old joke: Q. "What's a WASP's idea of a good time?" A. "Getting over a head cold." I guess I'm just no fun!

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