MILES AND SEARL FAMILIES
Mildred Alice Miles
Herbert "Bert" Hunt Searl (1912 - 2001) and his wife,
Janet Francis Searl 1917 - 1989) and their children,
Dorothy Janet Searl - Born in Santo Tomas July 12, 1942
Baby Girl Searl - Born in Santo Tomas April 16, 1944
June 7, 2005
In searching the web I found your site and would like to be added to your list of internees of Santo Thomas-STIC. I am sure that there are not many of us left.
My maternal grandparents - Frank and Mildred Miles, my parents - Herbert and Janet Searl, my older sister Dorothy Janet Searl and I - listed as baby girl Searl because my mother was angry with the Japanese and refused to give them my name were all in camp. I was born in April 1944 (conceived on my sisters first birthday when my father bribed the Japanese guard to let him spend some time with my mother and sister and the "no make babies" ban was not strictly enforced) so have no recollection of camp. I wonder if Frankie Lewey was one of the nurses who helped deliver me. I was very small - about 3 1/2 pounds and born with a tooth. My mother said that the nurses insisted on keeping me in a makeshift incubator and after two weeks I had a bad case of heat rash! She left the hospital and said that the rash cleared right up with my grandfather holding me in the palm of his hand in the sun. My parents and grandparents didn't talk much about camp as they had been asked not to by the U.S. authorities consequently my knowledge is limited but I would love to know more details now. I do know that my grandmother taught school in camp - probably 4th to 7th grade - as she was a teacher in the American School there for years before and after the war. My grandfather peeled vegetables and was a janitor in the school building. What I would give for a report card signed by my grandmother or to know where they had their shanty. My grandfather said that he slept in the chemistry room on a table but I do not know about my grandmother, mother or father. Is there any way of contacting others who might have written documents or memoirs?
Frances Searl Parker
2152 San Juan Circle
St. George, UT 84790
June 8, 2005
Hi Lou (Gopal),
In searching the web for information about Santo Thomas Internment Camp I was directed to your web site. I know I am probably too late to be of any help to you in the documentary but thought you might be able to help me find out more about my family. My maternal grandparents, Frank and Mildred Miles, my parents Herbert and Janet Searl, my sister Dorothy Janet and I (listed only as Baby Girl Searl as my mother was so angry with the Japanese that she refused to give them my name) were all interned in camp.(I was conceived on my sister's first birthday when my father bribed the Japanese guard so that he could spend a few hours with them and the "make no babies" rule was not as strictly enforced by jail time) My sister was actually born outside of camp and they came in when the Japanese got more strict as to who could be out on pass I know that my grandmother taught in the camp school (she taught in the American School before and after the war) and that my grandfather peeled vegetables for the camp kitchen as well as janitorial work in the school building. He slept in the chemistry lab on a lab table. They had a shanty together with my parents.My grandfather was a part owner of Philippine Power and Development Company and did not return to the States after liberation because he was concerned about getting the power back to many of the rural areas. My dad said that he was often out of camp because he was a "go between" (my words). He said that he would meet with the Filipinos who had met subs or small boats with money from the US, Australia and other friendly countries for the camps. He would then deliver the funds to the Japanese officers to purchase supplies for camp. He even had a code name as everyone tried to keep their identity a secret. He had been sent to the Philippines by the United States in about 1938 to supervise shipments so that oil or other "no-no" things would not be sent to Japan. He knew many of the local Japanese military men from that so he was a natural for the go-between job. (Years prior to that he had also worked under cover for our government to put Juan Bautista into power and was sent to Tokyo after the war to help in procuring material for the rebuilding of Japan. Unfortunately he got very sick, had major surgery there and had to leave in 1948 on the USS President Cleveland. We settled in Hawaii as business opportunities there were good.)
I would love to have some more information about where their shanty was in camp, what grade my grandmother taught, any people's recollection of them, etc. They did not talk much about camp life as the government had asked them not to.
I do have a bar of Yardley's Lavender soap that has quite a history. It had been a gift to my mother the Christmas of 1941. when the Japanese rounded everyone up for internment mother had tucked it in her bag. When my grandfather's birthday came around that March she gave it to him - still in the Christmas wrapping paper. He passed it to the next person and so on for the entire time in camp. Each time it was given a little note was included and it was never opened to use. After the war and we were in Hawaii it made many trips across the Pacific. It was finally retired from its many travels a few years ago as I am the last one alive in the family and my children aren't as attached to it and its history. My grandmother did write a brief sketch about the "much traveled bar of soap". When I read it I had to write my own memories of it because they were so different than hers.
Thanks for any help,
Frances Searl Parker
AND LOU'S RESPONSE...
June 8, 2005
Hi Frances -
Well, I've searched the following Kawayan yearbooks: 1941, 1948, 1949, 1950 and I can't find any listing in the faculty for a Janet Searl. What years did she teach at the American School ? I checked the interviews we held with about 20+ former internees on the slight chance they may have mentioned your folks but didn't find anything, sorry.
I did find the following listing for your parents and grandparents in the Santo Tomas roster:
Herbert Hunt Searl, age 30, occupation Stevedore, room SA-C-1
Janet Francis Searl, age 26, occ. housewife, same room
Dorothy Janet, age 1
Baby Girl Searl, age 2 wks
Frank C. Miles, age 53, occ. Public Utility, room 16
Mildred Alice Miles, age 53, occ. Housewife, room SA-D
Here are some other contacts for you - all American School alumni and former STIC internees. They may have remembered your mom.
Clif Forster -- midpacific@IGC.org
Evelyn Diehl -- email@example.com
Margaret Hoffman -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Curtis Brooks -- email@example.com
The Searl Family - 1945
(Pictures Courtesy of Frances Searl Parker)
December 26, 2005
Hello, my name is Mark Landess, and I knew Bert very well in Hawaii as did my father. We have been trying to locate some more information on his past life other than what we think we know. We knew that he had a brother named James that served in the air cav during WWII and later started Philippine airlines. We also believe that he and his wife and 2 daughters were interned on the island while their baby son was hidden with a wet nurse in the mountains. We were also told that Bertís family lived in the Philippines where he was raised and owned an Ice plant. I would like to know if this checks out and what other information you could pass on to me. I do know that his wife's name was Janet because he mentioned it a few times as well as his only son that died at age 32. I would appreciate all that you can tell me.
or would like to be on the POW/Internee e-mail distribution list,
please let the me, Tom Moore, know.