Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mitsuye May Yamada - Joe Yasutake - Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrators: Mitsuye May Yamada, Joe Yasutake, Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Jeni Yamada (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 8 & 9, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ymitsuye_g-01-0071

<Begin Segment 71>

AI: And Joe, what about you? Were you in school in Minidoka in the fourth grade?

JY: I was, they just moved me to the fifth grade.

AI: To the fifth grade.

JY: And so, while I was in Minidoka I finished the fifth grade.

MY: When did you start?

JY: That, I think that fall. And I don't know when we got to --

MY: '42.

JY: Minidoka, but it was in '42, fall of '42, yeah. September, probably.

MY: Yeah, we got there in the fall of '42.

TY: Fall of '42?

JY: Uh-huh.

MY: And then you finished out the fourth grade through, fifth grade.

JY: I finished out the fifth grade in June of '43, and then we went to --

MY: To Crystal City.

JY: To Crystal City.

AI: Any memories of that fifth grade in Minidoka?

JY: Yeah. Actually, again, it's kind of ironic, I guess, but my memories of that were not -- except for the evenings when I'm, there was a family discussion going on and I knew there were some serious things being talked about, about him going to the army and stuff like that -- my life was pretty, we went to school and played sports. We had an organized, like a Little League kind of thing. People would set that up, and we were playing games against other blocks, and things like that. I remember ice skating. We got ice skates, we played ice hockey, because I think the -- I'm not sure how --

AI: The canal?

JY: -- but I think everything just kind of froze over. And so there were places where we could play ice-, play ice hockey.

TY: And you say you bought your ice skates in Montgomery Ward?

JY: I think so.

MY: Yeah, we ordered it through Montgomery Ward.

JY: Yeah.

TY: Is that right?

JY: Yeah. And I remember going to the canal. I'm not -- we were talking about that -- I'm not sure why we went there, because there were rattlesnakes and all kinds of bad stuff around there. But we used to go out to the canal and play, play out there. Played Monopoly. I bet you to this day, I can still recite every piece of property around that Monopoly. [Laughs]

MY: [Laughs] And how much they cost.

JY: Yeah, right. Because we played that every day. You know, we wore out the money. And we, we figured out ways of speeding up the game by just shuffling the cards and handing out --

MY: No wonder you were so good at winning Monopoly. [Laughs]

JY: [Laughs] And I have, and my, the schoolteacher, I remember her name was Ms. Erickson. They had obviously brought her in from the outside. Very nice lady. And she used to use the Hardy Boys. I don't know if you ever read the Hardy Boys or not, but they're, chapter by chapter, at the end of each chapter there's some crisis. And then you have to wait 'til the next chapter to find out how they got out of it. And she used to read that every day if we were good. If we weren't good, then she didn't read it, and so forth. So, and my memories of school were very pleasant, from that regard.

TY: Were the classes, did several classes, first, second, third, combine in one class?

JY: I don't know. I don't know. In fact, years, in fact, after I moved to San Jose, I met a woman who, we were, turned out we were classmates in that school. And she had a picture of the girls in the fifth grade. And then I have a picture of the boys in the fifth grade. But somehow, they segregated us in terms of, by sex, when they --

TY: Not in the classroom?

JY: -- took the pictures. But in the classroom there were girls, we were all together. So I never did figure that out. 'Cause she did have the same teacher I did. So for some reason they just separated --

MY: Did you, did you remember her?

JY: No, I don't.

Jeni Y: Did anyone --

JY: But there's a picture where we're both in the same, same picture.

Jeni Y: Did any of the teachers have children that went to school with you?

JY: Not that I'm aware of. She did not. She was single, I know. In fact, I kept in touch with her for fifteen, twenty years after camp. And they, exchange letters and stuff. But she was a single woman. Apparently, she became a librarian in Detroit or something, after she left camp. But she was a very nice lady.

MY: She wrote to you years later. Is she the one who wrote to you years later?

JY: No, that was my teacher from the sixth grade, in Crystal City.

MY: Oh, I see.

JY: That, that I got in touch with. And she's still alive to this day.

MY: Yeah.

JY: Yeah.

<End Segment 71> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.