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Continued from Lovesick again

Yry pressed on through the month of February, alternately mooning over the tragedy of love and throwing herself into her studies. Her Farm Materials and Tools projects drug along as she waited for supplies for her spurs and chaps to arrive. “Because of the war, one needs to be prepared,” she wrote in Yry Press. “I bought 2 pair wool pants, 2 pair cotton gabardine, 1 pair boots.” The plan was to be fully stocked with cowgirling necessities by the time her classes were finished. She spent hours in the library reading about horses and horse training, and she stockpiled fistfuls of pamphlets and government bulletins on horse and cattle range, feeds, vegetation, etc. Her friend Mrs. Miller warned that she would have to buck many prejudices along her path to cowgirling and ranching. But Yry was optimistic. She was excelling in school, and her professors seemed impressed with her spunk, some rather grudgingly so. Her dairy professor gave her a lead for a job, but she wanted to hold off till her coursework was completed rather than grabbing the first thing to come along.

April 2, 1943: Well, I’m off again. I expect to land in Cody, Wyo to get some more experience at ranching, practical this time. But first I’m going to Sheridan for a few days, mainly to see the Dentist as I’ve a silver filling coming out. I hope I’ll get to see Claire and family.

Ya, I bet she wanted to see Claire and family! She wrote copiously in Yry Press about the bus ride through Cheyenne, Torrington, Lusk, Newcastle, Gillette, Sheridan, Billings to Cody. In her notes she described the sights and the people she encountered.

From Gillette to Sheridan was a very long ride. Saw 2 dead cows on the way. Road bad as a result of snows. The Bighorns were in sight long before we got there. Sheridan to Cody! The wait in Billings was 7 hours—very long. Waiting room not comfy . . .

Notice how she mentions Sheridan in once sentence and without a pause, she’s on to “Sheridan to Cody”? She filters her ramblings even in her own diaries. But as we shall soon see, she spent several days in Sheridan before resuming the bus trip.

Utterly surprising and disturbing are the comments about two Japs riding the bus on their way to the Jap camp near Cody. This terminology assaults the very principles this woman taught me. But it was written in a journal and it was the common vernacular of the time; she made laborious copies of the Yry Press and mailed them to her friends back east, so perhaps she amended the ethnic slur—or perhaps the slur never occurred to her at that time. When I was a child, she corrected my friends when they recited, eeny meeny, miny moe, catch a nigger by the toe!

“That’s catch a tiger by the toe!” she would reprimand with a penetrating stare.

I assume Japs was an abbreviation to save her pen hand. But I’m also surprised to find no diatribe about the Heart Mountain detention camp in her papers. I wonder—was she so eager to assume a cowboy identity that she turned her back on her previous convictions? Is it possible she did not know that America was dumping Japanese Americans into concentration camps? But she knew about the Jap Camp. She’s not here to defend herself, but it is difficult to accept her apparent racism.