Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Charles Olds Interview
Narrator: Charles Olds
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-ocharles-01-0005

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AI: Well, and then sometime in the early part of the next year, then, you went to Tule Lake.

CO: Yeah. We went there not too long before I was drafted from Poston into the army. My draft board was Baltimore, Maryland, but they finally caught up with me and with a couple others, and we had indicated that we wanted to go to Japanese language school if we were inducted.

AI: And what year was that that you were drafted?

CO: That was '45.

AI: '45. Okay. So it was probably early '45, then, that you went to Tule Lake?

CO: I think so.

AI: And when you went there and you were interviewing some people for potential relocation, what was the nature of those interviews? What would happen in an interview?

CO: In the camp, generally, what was going on?

AI: Uh-huh.

CO: Well, that, I cannot recall that there had been any wild incidents yet. I mean, there were people who, yeah, were supposed to be on the segregation list that would have to stay, but I didn't have any contact with them because they couldn't be eligible to relocate.

AI: Now, when you would have an interview with someone who was interested in relocating, what would you do? What would happen in an interview like that?

CO: Well, we would actually tell them about a specific job in an area, and then the data would be transmitted from that end as to the specific condition of the job. We would, you know, send communication back and forth as to fitting a certain individual or family to a specific job. And I wasn't there long enough to know how that would come out because that takes a little time.

One thing I recall while we were there, just to lighten things up, another guy and I, who's Caucasian, who speaks Japanese some, we put on a skit, and trying to make, either make fun of some of the WRA policies and the, or to influence the thought about getting out. Why stay out and, like we would speak partly in English and partly in Japanese, and it was quite entertaining. Some of the people felt they liked to, they got a big laugh out of it. I think these, our WRA people who could do that, because there weren't very many people on the WRA staff who could speak Japanese.

AI: Well, so then after four or five days...

CO: Yeah.

AI: Tule Lake, you returned back to Poston?

CO: Then I came back to Poston. Then in, I think it was in May of 1945, I was inducted into camp. And I went to, first step was to Ann Harbor, Michigan, at the University of Michigan, and that was a setting for beginning Japanese language, and most of the people that came were top students in their classes. They hadn't had previous training or knowledge of Japanese, but they thought they, it was thought they would learn fast. Anyway, we were there about six months and then went to basic training and then came back and went to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, for the advanced work.

Now, this afternoon or earlier, one of our speakers here at the conference had spoken of his getting into the Japanese language interrogation work, and the Nisei went to Fort Snelling also. I think my being there was after they had been trained. So I was there for about five months, and then, that was August of 1945, and the, we were in, no, we were in basic training when the atom bomb was dropped. And then we went back to camp, and the, my super, my supervisor or whatever it was, he said, "Don't think you're going to get out of the army just because the war's over," so on. So that wasn't very good for our morale at that point. [Laughs] But anyway, I finally did. I got a discharge from the army in order to go to China as a civilian with the United Nations. But many of my colleagues stayed on, got commissions, and went on to military government in Japan. So that was, let's see, probably the gist of my experience.

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