Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0009

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AI: Well, another thing that happened before you, after you volunteered but before you were actually inducted, you got the notion to try to visit your father.

TY: Oh yes. We, I told May that I think maybe I, we ought to try arrange, arrange a visit with my dad. I think he was at that time he was in Lordsburg, New Mexico. And so we decided to do that. But we had one problem. The problem was that my sister was not a citizen. She was born in Japan. And so we had to get special permission for her and I really can't remember where it was that we got the special permission from or to whom we wrote, but we did finally get the permission to go and we -- I think sometime in March of 1943 we went down to visit him, which was a very interesting experience. One reason was that one of the major stops that we made was Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that was the time when they had the Bataan Death March, and they activated the National Guards unit in New Mexico -- in Albuquerque. One of the group that was involved in, group that was captured in was involved in Bataan Death March and so the feeling, anti-Japanese feeling was very, very strong there. And when we got Dr., I mean Father (Kitagawa) in Minidoka, the Episcopal minister --

AI: Excuse me, was that Kitagawa?

TY: Pardon?

AI: Kitagawa?

TY: I said "Katagiri." I'm sorry. Yeah, Kitagawa made arrangement to, for us to be met at the Albuquerque train station by another Episcopal minister, canon of one of the church there, the Episcopal church in New Mexico. And when we got to New Mexi-, when we got to Albuquerque it was after dark and like -- and must have been about seven o'clock in the evening and he met us at the airport and he immediately escorted us to his car. And when we got into the car he said a strange thing. He said, "Would you mind gettin' in the back and, and lie down so that people can't see you?" And I thought, "Oh that's kinda strange." I said, we said, "Okay." My sister and I looked at each other and we got in the car and I got on the floor and May lie down on the seat and once we got to the church and got inside the church, the Reverend, I think it was Snyder, said, "Well, I'm sorry I had to ask you to do that," but he said, then he explained to us why. He said that the feeling was very high in Albuquerque so we just didn't want to take any chances so we -- so very next morning, very early, we caught the train to go to Lordsburg. I remember going down but then coming back I'm not sure how we got back. And then what circumstances, how we got from the Lordsburg camp to Albuquerque and back to Idaho. We, going down, I remember vividly for some reason. I can't remember anything about going back. And when we got to Lordsburg, they, it was -- the camp was just like Minidoka, with barbed wire fence except that they seemed to have more guards and the barbed wire fence was much higher. But they did have a visitors barrack there, a visitors barrack and we went in there and we waited for our dad to come. And the experience that we had there I guess we've already mentioned in the other tape so I'm not sure whether I need to go over that.

TI: Did you talk about your decision to volunteer?

TY: Pardon?

TI: Did you tell him that you were going to volunteer? And...

TY: No, that word wasn't even mentioned. I think he was -- well, as we mentioned before in the other interview, Dad seemed to be... outwardly it seemed like he was trying to act like he was very, taking light of the situation. He was talking about mundane things like the weather and he's feeling fine and everything has been going okay and things like that and we never talked -- nothing too serious. And May told about going to college and Dad asking what she was going to major in and she said English. And he said, "English?" As if to say, "What good is that?" [Laughs] And he told her, "Well, that's all right for minor but you ought to take something more serious so that you can use it, more, be more useful in your life, getting jobs and things would be much easier if you would major in something else." But, and other than that we didn't talk -- I think we purposely avoided my volunteering because... for obvious reasons, I guess, he just didn't want to talk about it and I didn't, we didn't bring it up either. So we just talked about family and superficial things.

AI: But he was aware that you had volunteered because he knew that's partly why you were able to come and visit.

TY: Yeah, that's why, he knew that that's why -- I think we had written to him that we were gonna be coming to visit him because, before I go out to basic training. So he was aware of it but, and the last word was, he says, "Well, Tosh, be sure to take it easy. Don't do anything foolish." So I think he knew. But other than that he didn't say anything.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.