Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fumiko Uyeda Groves Interview
Narrator: Fumiko Uyeda Groves
Interviewer: Larry Hashima
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 16, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-gfumiko-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

LH: Well, then let's go right to the war. I mean, what do you remember about or did you hear anything about sort of conflicts between Japan and the United States before the war actually began?

FG: None at all. The only thing that I remember I was playing outside when it was announced over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and so my mother called me and she asked me to listen to it. Didn't make any sense to me. I wasn't quite sure what that was all about.

LH: Because it was in English and your mother...

FG: That's why she thought maybe I could tell her what it was saying, but she didn't understand it as well. Her understanding of English was really pretty good 'cause she worked in a store, but I think this was in an area that was very different. It wasn't selling anything. [Laughs] It wasn't selling brewery supplies or anything.

LH: So the language was quite different which is why she didn't really understand it.

FG: Yes.

LH: And then but you didn't really understand it yourself, you're saying.

FG: No, I didn't understand it. I mean, I didn't understand the concepts. I could kind of hear it and if it said, well, the president has declared war, whatever it is that he said, I didn't know what that meant, not really.

LH: So when did you first actually understand what was going on? What had happened?

FG: I wasn't quite sure. I knew things different, very different, were happening because I believe about a month after Pearl Harbor, suddenly my father came home in a car with two FBI agents -- who incidentally were very impolite -- but they kind of... and my mother, my brother and I were at home. Yeah, my mother, my brother and I were at home. And they searched the house for, I'm not sure what they were looking for, probably films or maybe weapons or something. I don't know, but they kind of opened all the drawers and emptied them out and looked in the stove and the refrigerator and everything and went up and down, and they went in the basement and everything, and then they left. They took my father and left.

LH: So what were you thinking as this was all going on and you were watching this?

FG: I thought it was very frightening and I didn't think it was right because they were treating -- what they did was actually they had my father handcuffed, and I couldn't figure out what my father had done. I asked my mother and my mother didn't know. They must have picked him up at the store, and then they took him directly to the immigration office on Airport Way. And then shortly after that I think about three, four days afterwards, my mother got a call from my father asking her to bring toilet articles and change of clothes because they just took him. And so we went down there and that I remember very, very vividly because the doors on the, there was a iron gate there and the ceiling is very high so there's a lot of echoing. And so we go, all of us and anybody that went to see the people that had been taken, the Japanese that were taken, we would go up and tell them who we wanted to see. And then we'd go and sit and wait and, then they would... when the person that they were letting, that they called upon, they would call out in a very loud voice and that echoed all over the place so you knew who it was that was coming down the hall. And then right after they call his name then you could hear the doors open up and it goes clang and then he came walking down the hall. To me it was very vivid. I had never seen my father walk all by himself -- [laughs] -- and he has a very, he had a very funny way of walking I thought. [Laughs] That was very strange. No. He had short arms so he walked kind of like Charlie Chaplin, but these are the impressions that I have. And then my mother gave him the toilet articles and the clothes, and then we talked for a while, I mean, they talked for a while. We said hello and good-bye. My brother and I said hello and good-bye.

LH: And that was all that your father said to you at that time?

FG: Uh-huh. Oh, he told me to be good and he told my brother who was -- how old was he? Four years old, no, let's see -- three years old. He says, "Now you're the man of the family." I'm sure my brother understood that. [Laughs] He says, "You have to take care of your mother." So that was it. But he told both my brother and I to take care of my mother, which of course we would. [Laughs] And then that was the last we saw of him for what, two and a half, three years, because then he went to his camps and we went to our camps.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.