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Dear America Wiki

"It's kind of funny. At Washington Junior, I saw mostly white faces. Here, at the camp school, there are only three of us–me and the principal's sons. It made me feel kind of itchy in my own skin. I wished I could be like a snake and shed it, to look more like everyone else. I wonder if that's what Betty felt like sometimes, back in Seattle."
—Piper Davis[3]

Piper Brown (née Davis; born August 17, 1928) was the daughter of Pastor Emery Davis, and the younger sister of Margie and Hank. Her father was a pastor for the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Piper became friends with Betty Sato and later her brother Jim. When the Japanese citizens were relocated, she moved with her father close to the Minidoka facility.


Early life[]

Piper was born on August 17, 1928.[2] Her mother passed away when she was a baby. Piper's older siblings, Margie and Hank, picked out her name.[5] Her father, Emery Davis, was the minister of the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church.

World War II[]

Hank was stationed at Pearl Harbor a few months before the Japanese army attacked the base in December 1941. Piper and her family were not informed that he was okay for several days, likely due to mail delays. In the meantime, Piper began witnessing an anti-Japanese attitude from strangers as well as her peers. She befriended Betty Sato, whom she had known for a long time since her family attended her father's church. Betty's father, like many older Japanese men, had been detained by the FBI. On Valentine's Day 1942, Margie married Stan Robinson, whom shortly left for basic training. The same day, Piper's crush Bud Greene took her rival Debbie Sue Wilkins to the Valentine's Day Ball.

For nearly a month, Piper avoided Bud until he explained that his mother pressured him to take Debbie Sue to the dance. She forgave him and later agreed to "be his girl." The couple, however, had another fight when it was announced that Japanese citizens were being evacuated from the the west coast. The Japanese living in Seattle were sent to "Camp Harmony" in May. From then on, Piper and her father frequently came to visit their Japanese friends. She also met the Matsuis there. A few months later, the incarcerees were moved to a permanent facility, called Minidoka, in Idaho. Piper began the eighth grade, but her father soon pulled her out after deciding to move near Minidoka.

Margie remained in Seattle, which upset Piper further. Then, before leaving, Bud broke up with her. In Idaho, Piper's father found a home to rent after being evicted from their first by a bigoted townsperson. Piper soon began attending school at Minidoka, bringing her closer to Betty's brother Jim. When Betty revealed that Jim had a crush on her, Piper felt awkward. She admitted that she saw him as "big brother" and he agreed to remain friends. In early 1943, Jim enlisted for the army's all Japanese unit. Piper later learned that her father had attempted to volunteer as a chaplain for the unit. She felt upset that had not thought of her. Before Jim left, Piper learned that Hank was returning home for flight training.

Later life[]

Piper and her father returned to Seattle after Minidoka closed its doors. After graduating from high school, she went to University of Washington to study journalism. She met an artist named Seth Brown on campus. They married in the senior year after dating for a year. Piper then went on to work at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a photojournalist. Her photo essay, "Moving Toward Hope: Migrant Workers in Eastern Washington" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967. Piper retired in 2003, but continued taking photos regularly. She also wrote a memoir about Minidoka with good friend and sister-in-law, Betty.

Personality and traits[]

Piper was smart, but not exactly a "whiz kid" like her sister or Betty. She was talented at photography, which she originally started doing in fifth grade. After Hank left, her interest in photography was renewed. Her teacher Miss Wyatt praised her, saying she had a "real eye" for photography. Her role model became the famous photographer, Margaret Bourke-White, whom she did not a class project on. Piper disliked her father's strictness, which included her not being allowed to wear lipstick. She often felt that her father cared more about others, particularly his Japanese congregation, than her. Piper never expressed these hurt feelings to him.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst for Piper maturing in her emotions. Things were put in perspective as she was so worried about Hank. Piper also felt "mixed-up" about the growing anti-Japanese sentiment. She began to strongly feel that the treatment of the Japanese was wrong. This would lead to conflicts with those close to her, notably her then boyfriend Bud Greene.

Family tree[]

The Davis Family Tree
Emery Davis
Mrs. Davis
(d. 1929?)
Mr. and Mrs. Sato
Stan Robinson
Margie Davis
(b. 1921)
Hank Davis
(b. 1923)
Betty Sato
(b. 1927)
Piper Davis
(b. 1928)
Seth Brown
Jim Sato
Mikey Sato
(b. 1934)
Tommy Sato
Three children

Behind the scenes[]



See also[]

Dear America characters
Main characters

Remember "Mem" Whipple | Deliverance Trembley | Lozette Moreau | Catharine Logan | Prudence Emerson
Abigail Stewart | Lucinda Lawrence | María Rosalia de Milagros | Hattie Campbell | Mary Driscoll
Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder | Susanna Fairchild | Clotee Henley | Amelia Martin | Emma Simpson
Sarah Nita | Phillis "Patsy" Frederick | Libby West | Priscilla "Pringle" Rose | Mary "Polly" Rodgers
Nannie Little Rose | Angeline Reddy | Sarah Jane Price | Teresa Viscardi | Anetka Kaminska
Zipporah Feldman | Minette "Minnie" Bonner | Angela Denoto | Margaret Ann Brady | Kathleen Bowen
Simone Spencer | Lydia Pierce | Nell "Nellie Lee" Love | Bess Brennan | Minerva "Minnie" Swift | Grace Edwards
Julie Weiss | Madeline Beck | Amber Billows | Piper Davis | Dawn "Dawnie Rae" Johnson | Molly Flaherty

Supporting characters

Antoinetta Viscardi | Leon Nasevich | Daniel Pierce | Erma Jean Love | Patrick Flaherty

Lists of characters by book

A Journey to the New World | I Walk in Dread | Look to the Hills | Standing in the Light
Love Thy Neighbor | The Winter of Red Snow | Cannons at Dawn | A Line in the Sand
Valley of the Moon | Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | All the Stars in the Sky
Seeds of Hope | A Picture of Freedom | A Light in the Storm | When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly | The Great Railroad Race
Down the Rabbit Hole | Land of the Buffalo Bones | My Heart Is on the Ground | Behind the Masks
My Face to the Wind | West to a Land of Plenty | A Coal Miner's Bride | Dreams in the Golden Country
A City Tossed and Broken | Hear My Sorrow | Voyage on the Great Titanic | A Time for Courage
When Christmas Comes Again | Like the Willow Tree | Color Me Dark | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Christmas After All | Survival in the Storm | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
My Secret War | Early Sunday Morning | The Fences Between Us | With the Might of Angels
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?