Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Betty Morita Shibayama Interview
Narrator: Betty Morita Shibayama
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 27, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-sbetty-01-0011

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AI: Well, tell me, I want to go back, back up a little bit. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there were, the FBI came --

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: -- and I understand were arrested or picked up a number of the Issei men.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Or especially men who were very prominent in the Japanese American communities.

BS: Yes.

AI: And I'm wondering what happened with your family, what you heard about and how that affected you?

BS: Well, I knew, my father knew, had heard reports about the, some Issei men being picked up, and the reports of FBI coming to search the homes. And so I remember one day my father and my oldest brother, it must have been my grandfather, too, were tearing the house upside down looking for -- farmers, in those days, to get rid of the stumps of trees, they would use half a stick of dynamite or something to blow, to blow it up. And so my father thought he had maybe half a stick of dynamite somewhere in the house so he was searching the house. And my brother and older siblings were just tearing the house upside down and they couldn't find anything. And I remember coming home from school and then my parents saying that the FBI had come and searched and they didn't find anything. But our neighbors, Mr. Nishimoto, I don't know what they found in his barn, something that... I don't know what it was but something that, probably forgotten. And they found it and they arrested him and he was taken to jail immediately. And he was separated from his family for... I'm not sure how long. Eventually they were reunited in one of the camps. But I know that when they said that the FBI's going to come and search the house, well my grandfather, he says, "Well we gotta get rid of everything Japanese," right? And so he built a fire outside of our house and... and you know, during Girl's Day and Boy's Day they had the, what they called Hinamatsuri where they have the Japanese dolls on display and that. And he was burning all of those, all the Japanese and we have Japanese dolls and all the things that came with that. Anything Japanese he was putting into the fire, records, like records, recordings, we had a Victrola, and any children's Japanese songs and stuff, he was burning it. And I just stood there and I just cried because I'd see those dolls that we used to display. And I said, I said, "Why, why do you have to do this?" And he said he has to. And I was... my anger was directed to my grandfather instead of where it should have been. But I'll never forget that.

AI: What a sad, sad thing. My goodness. So, really, it sounds like your grandfather got rid of everything.

BS: Everything that was Japanese-related, but you know, when I think about it, in Tule Lake we used to have Bon Odori and I don't know where we got these Japanese dresses that we had in Hood River and they dressed us up in it and we joined in, danced. So they didn't destroy that.

AI: Oh, I wonder if maybe your mother or, maybe hid something away, that...

BS: Yeah, that I don't know how they got it because I don't know if they even put it in our suitcase when we left. But we did have kimonos to dance in.

AI: What a mystery.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.