In Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford writes:
[a black man and Chinese boy are traveling through Eastern Washington on their way to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho]
“He and Sheldon finally stopped at the grand entrance of what must have been the tallest building in town, the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Inside, a coffee shop could be plainly seen. ‘What do you think?’ Henry asked.
‘This is as good as any. Let’s go around back and order something to go.’
‘Out back?’ Henry asked.
‘Ain’t no need to be taking chances, Henry, we’ve come this far–‘
‘Can I help you two with something?’ An older gentleman must have crossed the street behind them. His question made Sheldon bolt upright and Henry stepped behind him. ‘You two aren’t from around here, are you?’
Henry swallowed hard.
‘No sir, we’re just passing through. In fact, we’re heading back to our bus right now…’
‘Well, since you’ve come all the way down, might as well go on in and grab a cup of something warm.’ Henry watched the man crane his neck and look down the street to the bus depot. ‘Looks like you’ve got time. Welcome to Walla Walla, and I hope you come back and see us again.’ He handed Henry and Sheldon a small pamphlet and tipped his hat. ‘God bless.’
Henry watched him walk away, confused. What place is this, he wondered. Does he think I’m Japanese? He looked at his button, then up at Sheldon, who was skimming the brochure and scratching his head–a surprised yet relieved look on his face. The small pamphlet was from an Adventist church, a group Henry knew was lending charitable aid to imprisoned Japanese families. Volunteering as teachers and nurses. As it turned out, there was a large congregation, even a private church college, here.
As he and Sheldon grabbed a quick meal of coffee and toast, they looked around and made eye contact with the folks around them. Not everyone was afraid. Some even smiled back.”