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

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Today is October 27, 2003. We're here at the Densho office in Seattle with Betty Shibayama. Thanks, Betty, for being with us today.

BS: It's my pleasure.

AI: And I'm Alice Ito with Densho, and videographer is Dana Hoshide. And Betty, I just wanted to ask you to think back into the past and tell us about the background of your family, and where they are from in Japan, and a little bit about how they're related.

BS: Okay, my father was from Okayama, the countryside, 'cause they farmed, I guess the family farmed. And my mother was from Okayama city. And they were related in, I guess they were like second cousins, because, I think it was my father's grandfather was a sibling to my mother's grandmother. And so they knew each other, but there's seven years difference. So my father was, would maybe take her with a group of people, they'd go playing and things like that. She was a little kid. [Laughs] But they knew each other. And my great-grandfather on my father's side was a farmer. But I guess in those days they had sake speculation and he lost his money on that. So he remembers, my father remembers his sister crying because he had lost, the father had, his father had -- well, not his father, his grandfather, had lost money and they came to take, take... or they lock up, I guess they lock up your possessions. And he remembers his sister crying because she couldn't get into her dresser to get out a kimono. And so, I guess that's why my grandfather came to the United States. But he was yoshi, which is adopted. He... my grandmother, who he married, was the only girl, well, I think, only child, and so my grandfather took my grandmother's name. His name was, last name was Terada, but he took the Morita name. And I've heard stories about yoshi, are, they're maybe not the strongest person 'cause, willing to give up your name, and they're kinda spoiled by the family that he marries into. And my grandfather was rather, I guess he was kind of weak and he was spoiled. And, but he had to... so he came to the United States. Well he, my father had told me that he, I guess he signed a contract; my grandfather had signed a contract to work with some company in Mexico. So he was signed to go to Mexico. But when his ship, my grandfather's ship landed in Seattle, they said that they needed workers in Seattle, too. So my grandfather jumped ship. And so he landed, so he remained in the United States instead of going down to Mexico. Otherwise, we'd be Japanese Mexicans, I guess. [Laughs] And so I guess he worked on the railroad. I think that's what he must've done. And he was kind of irresponsible, so he was supposed to send money home, and I guess he didn't send money home as often as he should have, so eventually my father came. He was... my father came when he was seventeen years old. And that was 1910. And so he came to -- he worked, and, on the railroad.

AI: So, that was a little bit unusual. There were some other cases of that, but it wasn't real common for a father and a son to come over at the same time and be both working in the United States.

BS: Uh-huh. Well, they came separately.

AI: Oh, that's right.

BS: My grandfather came, my grandfather came early. I'm not sure what year he came. But another thing is -- which is unusual -- is my father's grandfather, which would be my great-grandfather, came to the United States, it had to have been in the 1800s and he worked as a schoolboy, or a houseboy in Watsonville. And I don't know how long he was in the United States, but my dad would tell me that his grandfather would tell him stories about working in Watsonville. And he even spoke some English, my great-grandfather. And so, when my father decided to come to the United States, his grandfather told him that, "When you go to the United States you have to learn English. You have to learn English, so whatever method you have, you have to learn English because you will not be successful." And so that remained in his mind. And so my dad, I guess, once he settled in Oregon... there was a Caucasian, I think she was a German young girl, blond, pretty girl, was tutoring him, English. And her family liked my dad. And so my father spoke English. And so we spoke English to my father. And, but he would tell us that the family, the girl's family really liked him and when the family decided to leave Oregon they wanted my father to go with them, and I guess probably, eventually marry their daughter. But my father knew that he had the responsibility of relatives in Japan, his, his grandparents. And so he didn't go.

AI: How interesting. Well, do you happen to know how your father got to Oregon?

BS: I don't know.

AI: Or what drew him there?

BS: I just know they worked in the railroad. And then, I don't know when they decided to, he decided to go to settle in Oregon. But I think, like, well, we call Mr. Hachiya, his... well, his, they're kinda related, in-law kind of a thing, cousin. He was married to my father's cousin. And they came down together, I think, to Hood River.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Well, and then also, if you could tell about your mother, and about how your father and your mother got married?

BS: Oh, well, my grandfather... my dad was, well, in his mid-twenties, and my grandfather said, "I think it's time you get a wife." And in those days you had to, I guess you had to be married before the mate could come from Japan. And so lot of 'em were picture brides. But my dad was married, my mom and dad were married by proxy. But he chose my mom because he knew her as a child. But he would tell stories about his... my mother came from a family of beautiful, there were three beautiful women. My mother was the third. And he said that when he left Japan he was seventeen years old. He said that he eventually wanted to return to Japan and marry the oldest one. Well, he took too long so she married a doctor. And so he said okay, well, he'll get the second one. Well, he took a little bit too long and she married. [Laughs] And so he says, so then he said, well he had to take the "worst of the lot," he would say. [Laughs] But he would say that kiddingly. And so, when my grandfather told him that, "It's time for you to get married," then he said, "Who would you like?" And he would say, "Well," and my dad said my mother, 'cause he knew her, but she was seven years younger. So when he left Japan he was seventeen and she was ten. So, but, he knew her and so my grandfather, my grandfather went back to Japan and he asked for my mother's hand. But my mother was more or less promised to take care of an aunt who was, who had married, but since the family, the in-laws were so cruel to her, she left and came back to Okayama. And so they didn't have any children, so she was promised to take care of the aunt. And the aunt was a very strong woman and she had a very good business sense. And she ran a business, something to do with... I don't know if she was a hairdresser or what, but... and so, since she was promised to take care of the aunt, they said, "No, we can't let her go to the United States." And, but my grandfather was very persistent. And he kept going back and kept going back. And they said, "Well, we can't let this older man, we can't make him unhappy," so they finally allowed her to come. But my mother was willing to come because she said, as a child in grammar school, her teacher impressed on the children that, for the good of Japan -- because it's a small nation with a lot of people -- that to help the country you should immigrate from Japan and go to the United States or wherever. And she was impressed by that, so she was willing to go to the United States.

And when my husband and I went to visit Japan in 1984, and we met my mother's, two of my mother's sisters were still living. And they said that they were just amazed at the courage, that she had the courage to leave her family and homeland to go all the way to the United States, and you never know if you'd return again. And the younger, the younger sister... there were four sisters and there was one younger than my mother, several years younger. And she said, oh, she cried when my mother left. She says, because she said, "I'll never see her again," 'cause it seemed so far. But my mother was determined and when she, when she arrived, it was a shipload of, lot of picture brides. And it landed in Seattle, my dad went up to Seattle. And he had, he had been spraying in the apple -- I guess it was apple trees or pear trees. And it had... that was maybe a week or so before, and the spray had gotten on his face and then, then, being, being out in the sun his face got black, and then by the time my mother came to port in Seattle, his face was peeling, you know how you get sunburned and it was peeling? [Laughs] And so, when my mother got off the ship and she saw my father, she looked at him. And my father said, he says, "If you're unhappy by my appearance, it's okay if you want to go back to Japan." And she said, "No," she says, "because," she says, "I know what you look like," so, this didn't mean anything to her.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, you have some photos of your mother. Want you to tell us who is in this picture.

BS: This is my mother. I don't know how old she was. And I think this is the aunt that she was promised to stay and take care of.

AI: And you have another one here.

BS: And this is my mother, and this is my grandmother, my paternal grandmother, and my paternal... great-grandmother. And this is my father's sister. But, so they were related, second cousins, so they knew each other, even as, she knew them as, even as a young child.

AI: And what was your mother's name?

BS: Masano Sakakiyama was her maiden name.

AI: Here's another one.

BS: And this is my mother. This was before, must have been just before, maybe it was when my father -- my grandfather, this is my grandfather and my grandmother. This must've been, maybe when he came and asked for my mother's hand. And I think this is the aunt that my mother was supposed to take care of. And this is my great-grandfather, who worked as a houseboy in Watsonville, California. And this is my great-grandmother, they're husband and wife. And this is my father's sister and her husband. And the other two boys must be their, their sons.

AI: What a nice picture.

BS: Oh, and another thing is, is my mother... I guess my grandfather came back to the United States and then I guess they had to go through the proper process, papers and things for my mother to come. So they were married by proxy, so then she was able to come. But when she was scheduled to come, they, 'cause they said she had an eye infection, something, and so she was not permitted to come on that date, so she had to wait. And it was while she was waiting that her father died suddenly, unexpectedly. So it was kind of a blessing in disguise that she was able to be with her father. And then he passed away and then she came after that.

AI: Well then, and after she came, then, here's another photo.

BS: This picture is my mother and father and my paternal grandmother and grandfather. So this must've been taken in, must've been in Hood River, Oregon.

AI: And what were their names, your grandparents?

BS: Seki Morita and Kashichi Morita.

AI: So, did you hear very much from your parents about their early life in Hood River?

BS: No, just what I said about... oh, you mean the two of them, when, after they married. Well, they, I know they... oh, when he brought my mother back to Hood River from Seattle, you know, I don't know what kind of a place they stayed, but it must've been a little shack or something and furniture was like orange crates and things like that. And it was kerosene, kerosene lamp. And my mother came in and she says, "Oh, you have kerosene lamps?" Because in Japan they had electricity where she lived, and so he said, "Yeah, it's kerosene lamp." But my mother stuck it out. She said she was determined, she made the choice so she was determined to stay.

AI: And so do you know if your mother and father, were they living together with your father's parents at that time?

BS: At that time... they must've been, oh gee, I don't know. I think, because they must, my grandparents must have had their own place. Oh, because my grandparents, my grandmother was very business-oriented. And they ran a tofuya in Hood River. And, because my oldest sister says she remembers -- she was a child -- going to the tofuya. And I guess it was pretty successful for my grandfather also was fooled by con, con men, and lost money there. But I think they did, yeah, so they did live separately. And then, they must've... I know my dad would go and work at, live on people's, you know, Caucasian people's farmland, and I guess worked for them, because it's like my older siblings, they were named after the owners of the land. Because, even I was, the place I was born, the owner of the land was the, it was Mrs. Ehrck and her name was Betty and that's who I was named after, after her.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: So, what was your full name when you were born, the name that, were you given a Japanese name also?

BS: Uh-huh, it is Betty May Chieko Morita.

AI: And was your birthday, when were you born?

BS: Oh, May 30, 1933. And, at that time, at that time they must've been, my grandparents must've been living with my parents. Because when I was born I was, all of us who were born in Hood River were born at home. And when I was born, I was, I came out and I was, like a blue baby, and I wasn't breathing. And I was pronounced dead. And the doctor didn't even clean me up and he just... and he told my father, "Well, you have so many children," -- 'cause I was the eighth -- "and one more or less shouldn't matter." And he left, and didn't even clean me up. And so my grandmother was there and she said -- well, my mother, I guess, was sleeping and resting, and he felt, she felt sorry for my mother. So she got two washtubs, one with hot water and one with cold water. And she kept alternating me back and forth, I don't know for how long. And then put me in the basket that they had prepared for... and then, and put a hot water bottle on me. And the next morning I was crying. So they said, "Oh," and so they called the doctor and he was shocked to see that, that I was alive and breathing.

AI: Wow. What an amazing...

BS: Uh-huh, so I owe my life to my grandmother.

AI: Oh, my goodness.

BS: Because, you know, from a large family, we came from, at that time there were eight of us, lot of large families. They had deaths in the family, children that were young that died. But my brother, Junior, who is, he's four years older than I am, when he was, well, he must've been about two or three years old, he got pneumonia. And the doctors had given up hope on him. And so my parents brought him home and they took care of him at home and he survived. Well, my dad always wanted to be a doctor. That's what, that was his goal, anyway, he turned out to be a farmer then he had so many children he could... but he always, I guess when he would take a child to the doctor, he would observe the doctor and see what he would do. And he would use, use those methods. Well, when the doctor told him there was no hope for my brother, of course, he asked the doctor, "What should I do? What could I do?" And he followed the advice, so...

AI: And so Junior survived.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, tell me about your older sisters and brothers and, see, your, the oldest one was born in 1920, was that right?

BS: Uh-huh. That's Dorothy. She was born in 1920. And then in 1921 my sister Fumiko was born, exactly a year later. And then my sister Ruth was born the following year, but in December. And then my brother was born, my brother Paul was born two years later, a year and a half or two years later.

AI: So Paul would have been born 1924 then?

BS: Yes. And then my brother Claude was born 1928, '28. And then my brother Junior, I think, was born 1929, and my sister Flora 1931, and I was born 1933.

AI: And you said that you were named after these Caucasian folks who also lived in the valley --

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: -- that your father knew from working for them.

BS: Yes. So, 'cause I was, I was born, at the time I was born my dad was working on their farm, on their farm. And so that's, and that, 'cause my sister Flora and Claude are very unusual names for Japanese. And it's because they were born on, the couple's name was Mr. and Mrs. Copple. And their name was Flora and Claude. And so that's where they got that name. But, I'm not sure about the other, the other brothers and sisters.

AI: And what about Fumiko? How did she get that name, and how...

BS: Well, her name is actually Laura, Laura Fumiko. And I don't know how she got that name 'cause that's very difficult for Japanese to pronounce, Laura. And so, because it was difficult to pronounce they called her Fumiko. But she was, when she was two years old she was sent to Japan with one of my mother's relatives who was visiting. And she was sent back to live with the aunt that my mother was supposed to take care of. And so, she went back and she was two years old, and, but the aunt... I guess she became ill and passed away suddenly. So then, so my sister Fumiko went to live with my great-grandparents.

AI: And then did she stay in Japan?

BS: Yes. She remained in Japan and she became a schoolteacher. And so she was there during the war years. And it was, then she married and she finally was, came to United States in about, uh, late 1950. And we didn't know her. It's only my, my brother Claude went to Japan with the occupation forces and he was the first one to see her. And so that was a very nice reunion. And then she eventually... course, of course there was, I'm sure there was resentment because she was the only one that was sent to Japan and she had to, she had to take care of these older people. They were very kind to her. They were very kind to her, but she, and then she suffered during the war, but she felt that if you have a family together, it's easier, you know, with the large family that we had, it would be easier for her to survive and that, with a family. But she felt, I guess alienated. And it took a while for her, 'cause she kinda felt like an outsider because she spoke Japanese when she came to the United States. And we spoke Japanese, but it was not the... it was like a child's Japanese speaking to parents. So we did communicate, but I think she felt like an outsider. It took many years, but now she feels like she's one of us.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: Well, speaking about Japanese and the language, tell me about when you were really young, when you were growing up in the family, did you speak much Japanese at home, or did you speak mostly English?

BS: Well, when we spoke to my father we spoke in English. But when we spoke to my mother we spoke in broken Japanese-English, and my grandfather, we spoke to him in Japanese, because my grandmother returned to Japan in the late 1930s. And she went back the same time, I think Mrs. Hachiya did, and with the younger son. And then they were caught in Japan because of the war.

AI: And couldn't get back.

BS: Uh-huh. And then after the war my grandfather did not want to go back to Japan and she didn't want to come to the United States so they were separated.

AI: Well, as a really young child, do you remember a time when you, do you remember learning English, or did you just, since you were one of the youngest kids -- you were the youngest child then, did you just speak both Japanese and English as a little kid?

BS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh, because with my siblings, we spoke English, but it was just like, to my mother and grandfather we spoke in Japanese.

AI: So, tell me about starting school. What are some of your early memories?

BS: Well I... gosh. It's just that, because of our family, I was the youngest, it was just, I followed the rest of the family. So it was something to look forward to. And the teachers, the first grade teacher, we didn't have kindergarten in those days, and so the first grade teacher was, knew my older siblings. So it was, she was very kind. She was very kind. And my first best friend was a Caucasian, well, a Caucasian girl. Her name was Nancy Odell. And we were real good friends and she remained friends with me, even when we went to camp she corresponded with me all through camp. And even when she went to college and when she graduated from college she came to visit us in Chicago. And she remained a true friend.

AI: Well, I'm curious to know a little bit more about the composition of the community there where you lived. I know there were a number of other Japanese American families in the Hood River valley.

BS: Yes.

AI: But where you lived, were there other families nearby and in your school also?

BS: Okay, the closest Japanese family was the Nishimotos, and they lived maybe half a mile, not even half a mile away. And they had two sons, Koe, who was, I think he was like my brother Paul's age or maybe younger, and then Tim was the same age as Junior. And so he, he hung out with us all the time. And then, but the community, we did have, we went to Japanese school, but it was my older brothers and sisters were going and then I, I just started going maybe a year or two before the war broke out. And we held Japanese class and the Nishimotos, they had, they had cabins for workers, transient workers, and so one of the cabins was used. And we had, I think it was once a week, we had Japanese lessons. And it was our minister, it was Reverend Isaac Inouye. And he would come out and teach us. And he was, he was a funny minister. He was a reckless driver. And he, my sister and I, we'd be walking home from school and any time we saw his car, because he, I mean he would, I mean, take corners like on two wheels, and, 'cause he wouldn't slow down. And so we were afraid. And so every time we saw him coming, and we could hear his car and then we would go and hide because, where we lived, between our house and the grammar school there was a steep, a very steep hill. It's the steepest hill in Hood River valley. And that's right out of, right next to where I was born, the Ehrck's Hill, they called it Ehrck's Hill. And he would, he would stop in the middle of the hill and he would tell us to get in the car and so he had done that a few times so every time we heard his car we'd go and hide so he wouldn't see us and then he'd, he'd go on his way. But one time, he would, from, I think he lived close to town, so from the Nishimotos, to go home, he would have to go by our house so he would drop us off. And then there was another family, it was the Hishinuma family. I think it was a brother and sister that attended the class, too. And they lived beyond us. So one day we all got in his car and then one of the Hishinuma boys was hanging on the (running board). And to go between the Nishimoto's and our place you have to make a sharp right turn. And he was going so fast he didn't make the turn and he ran right into a ditch. And it was fortunate that the boy that was on the (running board) was thrown so, and so he wasn't hurt. None of us were hurt, but it was terrible. [Laughs]

AI: That sounds scary. Oh, my goodness.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

BS: But we had, so we had church. It was in... I think it was in the Japanese Community Center in the town of Hood River. And then we would have programs like shibais and things. And then, I don't know if there, they must have had a Buddhist Church, too, but I don't know where that was, or if was held at someone's home.

AI: So, what church denomination was this that you attended?

BS: Methodist.

AI: And why, why was it that your parents decided to send you to the Methodist Church?

BS: Well I, well, because they felt that the children are all American citizens so they wanted us to be, do what other American citizens do, and did not... because I don't think they really were committed to one religion or another, so they wanted us to just be more Americanized. And so, I guess they felt we should become, attend Methodist Church.

AI: Well, that's interesting because it sounds like, if your parents wanted you to become more Americanized that they really... did they ever talk about returning to Japan themselves, or that some day your family would move to Japan?

BS: Well, I think my father's intent when he first came was to earn enough money and to help and send money home and eventually return to Japan. But after he got married and had so many children I guess he figured that, well, this is their country. And so, and then we're all American citizens, so that we would remain here.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, so how was your father able to support all of you kids? What was his work life like and how did he make a living?

BS: Well, farmer, farming. And so even though a lot of us were born during the Depression we never went hungry because we had, well, it was apple, mostly it was apples and pears and cherries and it was strawberries later on. And my mother had a garden, and then they had, we had chickens and pigs and we had a cow and that, so...

AI: So what did your place look like as you were growing up, your home and the area, farm area around it?

BS: Well, it was a, I guess typical, I mean, typical farm. And we, my older brother and sisters went to school, and then they worked on the farm after school. And as they got older, then when my father needed more help then they would delay going to school in the fall. But they were able to, managed to keep up with the class even though they might be a month or two late in starting school again.

AI Well, the Hood River valley is, even now, it's very well-known for its wonderful fruits and pears and apples, so... and at that time I, also, I guess, it was very well-known.

BS: Yes, yes, and my father used to take the, I guess deliver his apples on a truck, by truck up to Portland. And he would stress to us that you have to be honest in your work, and in, and don't... because, he would see some people who would put the bad apples on the bottom of the box and just have the good ones on top. But my father said that he had built a reputation of having all good apples, and so he had no problem selling his fruits and vegetables.

AI: Well, what other kinds of things did your parents or grandparents stress to you as you were a kid?

BS: Well, being responsible and, I think, because he says, "If you aren't a responsible person it will affect your whole life," because he realized that my grandfather, his father, was not very responsible and it affected his whole life. He always had to support him and his... and my grandfather's responsibilities, my father had to take over. And then so, so he wanted, like especially the boys, to be honest and be responsible and when we married he wanted us to marry responsible men, honest, responsible men.

AI: And what about your mother? Were there things that she emphasized that were...

BS: Well, she was the disciplinarian, and, because my father would be out busy in the fields and that, so she was the one that, with so many kids. Just being honest and being respectful and, you know, to authority and work hard and...

AI: I'm wondering, did either of them, or your grandparents say much to you about being Nihonjin? Did they ever talk about, "Well, you need to act this way or not act that way because you're Nihonjin?"

BS: They probably did, but I can't remember, as a child. But I think I was more or less insulated because I had, I was, well, they called me "Baby" for eleven years. My name was Baby for eleven years until my little sister was born and then my brother Paul said, "I think it's time we called her by her real name instead of calling her Baby." So I was more or less protected, spoiled and that, and so...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, and also I was wondering, you were mentioning that you had a good friend in school, a good friend, Nancy, and whether you had... what the social life was like for you as a young child, if you mixed a lot with other, with the Caucasian kids, or if you had some sense that you were different because you were Japanese American?

BS: Well, I really didn't, I really didn't feel that way. But we didn't, we didn't socialize, like Nancy and I, we didn't socialize other than at school because we had our, my family. And then our neighbor down the street, I think they were transient workers, but there was a girl around my age that we hung out with and I didn't feel any different until after the war broke out and then you realize you were different.

AI: But at that early age, the early years in school, you didn't really feel that?

BS: No, no.

AI: Well, you have a couple of photos I wanted you to show.

BS: Okay, this picture is, well, it had to have been probably not too long before the war broke out. This is my grandfather, and this is my brother Claude and Junior. And this is our nearest friend Tim Nishimoto and then Flora and me. And this was, this was our house, and there's the road alongside the house. And we, the five of us hung out together and we, during the summer we went crawdad fishing and had weenie roasts and did things. And my brother Claude, who was five years older than me, he was more or less responsible for me. Because my sister Flora, she had three brothers above her, so she was a tomboy, but I was more, he was protective of me and he was responsible for me. My parents would expect him to watch out for me.

AI: And what was the name of your town or the town that you were closest to?

BS: Okay, well actually, I was born in Odell, Odell, Oregon, which is in Hood River valley, in Hood River County. But I would say -- because people don't know where Odell is -- I'd say, "Oh, I'm from Hood River." People know where that is.

AI: Here's another photo.

BS: And this is a picture of Nancy Odell, my best friend in, in Oregon. I think she sent this picture to me while I was in camp. I think the first picture of her that she sent to me in camp.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, and then, let's see, you were in the third grade then in 1941 when...

BS: When the war, uh-huh.

AI: ...when war broke out, when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And I'm just wondering, what did you recall that -- were you aware of what was happening that day when the bombing was announced?

BS: I really don't remember. All I know is maybe not specifically of that day, but later on that I could hear my parents saying that oh, that Japan is at war with the United States and the effect that it would have on all of us. And my dad, because, I guess he had this grandfather who had worked in Watsonville, I guess they had discussed things, and I guess the grandfather had told my father that people from Japan need to travel outside of their, their island and come and see the United States because they see what a vast country and all the resources it has. And so that must have impressed my father because my father said, "Japan is foolish to declare war with the United States because they don't know, the military people, they don't know what the United States, how vast it is and all the people." And he said, "It's foolish because they'll never win the war."

AI: So --

BS: And of course they have ties because at that time my grandmother was there and my sister Fumiko was there and my great-grandparents were still alive. But --

AI: So, it must have been painful for them.

BS: For them, uh-huh.

AI: Well, and then, so, that was a Sunday that Pearl Harbor was bombed and the next day was Monday, a school day. Do you recall anything from that day?

BS: I don't recall specifics that day, but you could tell certain classmates did not act very friendly. And, but there was, in my class, there was one Japanese American boy and his name was Johnny. We were the only two Japanese in our class. And actually his mother came with my mother on the same ship. And they remained friends, well, she was a picture bride, and she remained friends all the time we were in Hood River, or even after, remained good friends. But I know later that -- not me specifically -- but my brothers and sisters would say that people would call 'em "Jap."

AI: And --

BS: And they'd get in fights.

AI: Oh. Well, and what about your teacher? How did your teacher treat you?

BS: Oh, okay, at that time Miss Sovern was my teacher. Well, I don't know, she was, I can't say she was either way. I didn't feel that she treated me differently or anything. But my second grade teacher, when we were in Tule Lake, Mrs. Heaton was her name. She came to visit me. She was in Klamath Falls and she was visiting Klamath Falls so she knew Tule Lake was close there so she came and visited me. And even when we lived in Hood River, they never, she never came to visit our house, but it, this was something different. I just felt ashamed that she would have to come and visit me in a place like that. And she did visit me and then I just didn't know what to say to her. I was very happy to see her and then I took her to see the other classmate, Johnny Tameno. And then I don't know what his feelings were, but I was happy to see her but I just did not feel comfortable.

AI: So they actually allowed her to come into Tule Lake camp?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And you and your classmate were able to sit down with her and have a visit?

BS: Well, yes, well, I don't even remember sitting down and talking to her, but I... just seeing her and talking with her. And then I think I took her to where Johnny lived. And then she had a visit with him.

AI: It sounds like it was very brief.

BS: It was, it was very brief, though.

AI: It sounds like it was really painful for you.

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: So, even at that young age you really felt bad about being...

BS: Yes, yes, uh-huh. Well, I guess when we were in camp among the Japanese, 'cause we were all in the same situation, that it didn't... well, we figure you're in the same boat, so... but then when you see an outsider come it's just like, "Oh, we're different." And there's something... can't express it.

AI: It sounds like it made it very obvious to you --

BS: Yes.

AI: -- that, why you were in the camp?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And that was because of that difference.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, that is really an interesting story that she would make that trip.

BS: Yes. And she was very kind. But even, this other teacher, Miss Sovern, she was younger, a younger woman. And she was pretty, and then she'd wear sweaters that, I was a kid, so I don't know, but then all these older boys would say, "Oooo." [Laughs] And they would tease her with the principal and that. But she was young. But the last day of school, during... well, we had like a half a day because my parents wanted us to come home, I guess at lunch break. So, at recess she had all my classmates go out and pick wildflowers and then they made a bouquet for me. That was very nice.

AI: And that was your last day of school?

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

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.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: So we're continuing our interview with Betty Shibayama. And Betty, just before the break you had talked a little bit about some of the... all the Japanese things that your family had. And you had the Japanese dolls that are traditionally set up at New Year's time and you had some kimonos and Japanese clothes and other things. And that reminded me to ask you about, as you were growing up, did your family do a lot of celebrations for, with Japanese community like Bon Odori time during the summer and New Year's time and that kind of thing?

BS: Well, I remember New Year's, that a few families would get together, and I assume they came to our place. And the families would come and then the parents and older siblings would do mochitsuki. And then the younger children like us, we'd get together and we'd just play and have, have a lot of fun. And that was something that we looked forward to. And...

AI: Oh, for people who don't know about mochitsuki, could you explain a little bit about that?

BS: Well, it's traditional for Japanese celebration to have this rice cakes, pounded rice cakes. They're rice that's, it's rice that's steamed and then it's pounded, there's a big, I don't know, what would you call it? They'd make it out of wood, I guess, and it had to be carved out and then they'd have these big mallets, mallets, wooden mallets. And there'd be two men that would pound into this rice, they would put rice in this wooden... I don't know what you call it.

AI: Kind of a large bowl-shaped thing.

BS: Uh-huh. And then they would pound it, and someone would be in there to turn, turn the rice and then it would be pounded to a certain consistency, and then it would be shaped into... I think they'd roll it first and then they'd cut it off and then the women would make little cakes, and some of 'em may be filled with azuki, the red beans, and some of 'em would just be plain. I think they would make larger ones for decoration that... I don't know if that's Buddhist or Shinto, that they would put it... they would have like a graduated, like three I guess, three of 'em, larger, three pieces. And then, and then they would have like maybe a tangerine on top and they'd put it in front of the Buddhist altar or whatever, or it'd be part of the decoration, New Year's decoration. But it was something to look forward to, very good to eat, too. [Laughs]

And then we had picnics. I remember picnics and what would you call, undokai? I don't know if that's races and contests and we would have picnics. And that was a Japanese community celebration that, in the summer that sometimes we'd go to Lost Lake, Oregon. And then they would have things at the Japanese Community Center. I guess that's where we had our Methodist Church services. Then they would have, I guess they would show movies, and then they have talent shows and plays put on by Japanese school, 'cause I remember my older brothers and sisters being in plays. And I can't think of anything else that we did as a community.

AI: It sounds like quite a bit of activity.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so did you have a feeling that you and your family were part of this larger Japanese American community?

BS: Oh, yes, yes.

AI: Well, and what about interaction with other, the larger Caucasian community?

BS: Well, we really didn't, other than my parents' work, with work, but other farmers, but I don't remember socializing with them outside of school.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, so then going back to this time period after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, then fairly soon after that there were some restrictions that were put in place, restricting the Japanese Americans. And do you recall that time?

BS: Yes, they, I know they had a curfew where we were supposed to be in the house at a certain time and remain there until, I don't know, I think I have the little flyer or whatever that the --

AI: Yes.

BS: -- the Hood River chief of police put out. And I don't, I'm not sure if there was a time on here. My sister had saved this in a scrapbook and I don't know... but some of the remarks on here were very insulting.

AI: Well, in fact, would you read some of those remarks?

BS: Let's see, well, "As you are well aware" -- this is to the Japanese nationals, but more or less it was the Japanese community -- "As you are well aware, the sentiment of the American people at the present time is not as friendly as it was some time ago. This feeling has not been brought about entirely by the American public alone but by the CARELESS and NEEDLESS"-- now that "careless" and "needless" in capital letters -- "action on the part of Japanese Nationals and those citizens of Japanese decent. Therefore, at this time, I wish to take this means to give you a few suggestions as to how it would be best for this public sentiment to be curtailed to some extent." Well, it goes on to say "the following rules if carefully followed, help your situation and my stand. Stay at home except for those occasions when you must absolutely come to town for business reasons. If you must go over to your neighbors limit your visits to daytime travel. If another neighbor is already there one of you should leave so only one is there at a time. Even then do not visit as freely as you did prior to December 7, 1941. We are at war now. When using the telephone, do not converse in Japanese. Use the English language if possible. If you feel you cannot speak English good enough" -- [laughs] -- grammar -- "have your son or daughter talk. Do not drive about for leisure. There is a rubber shortage and tires are now rationed. People without tires will be irked to notice that the Japanese are able to have tires on their cars. When in town you meet Japanese, do not greet him in the Japanese custom by bowing. You are in America! Greet him in the American manner by shaking hands. This is less conspicuous than numerous bows." Oh, let's see, oh, "Do not congregate in one place. Meetings should not be held. Even church should now be limited. You should not be considered a sinner if you limit your church activities to a minimum." And then it's "Stay at home and work! A busy body has no time for idle gossip. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Let's see, then it says, concludes by saying, "Do not heed rumors of evacuation. Orders to that effect will be given by the army and only by the army. In the event of evacuation you will be notified in ample time." So, I'm not sure when this went out. But it must have been shortly after war was declared.

AI: And this was from the Chief of Police?

BS: Chief of Police of Hood River, uh-huh.

AI: And it's interesting to me that it says here, "Do not heed rumors of evacuation."

BS: Yeah.

AI: But, of course, there were rumors and people were --

BS: Oh, yes.

AI: -- concerned and talking.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: And I'm wondering what kind of discussion your family was having?

BS: Well, I know, I guess my dad had probably read in the paper, I guess. He had seen pictures in the paper about Portland, how they were preparing for people to be put, I don't know, their fairgrounds, or something. And so, he, my father felt that because my mother and father were not American citizens, well, actually they weren't permitted to become American citizens. And they felt that they were going to be sent to Japan. And so that, but we were American citizens so we would be permitted to remain here. And so my, I could hear my parents talking late at night. I guess they thought we were all asleep but I, I overheard them talking to my older, my brother Paul and my sister Ruth and saying that if they are sent to Japan that they would be responsible for taking care of the younger ones. And at that time I couldn't imagine being separated from my parents. And I, I just used to worry so much about that, you know, about being separated. And I, it really worried me until... and so when people would ask me about evacuation, you know, "Were you sad in that?" And I said, "No, I was happy because I knew we were gonna go as a family, that my parents were not going to be sent to Japan." And so, I didn't care as long as we were together as a family. And so I was happy as long as we remained together.

And well, going back to the curfew, my oldest sister, Dorothy, was married on March 15, 1942 and I had always hoped that I would be a flower girl, and my sisters, we would talk about it and say, "Oh, you'd be able to be a flower girl." And so I was excited about that. But then, because the curfew, people were limited to how many people could travel so far. And they were getting married in Brooks, Oregon, which is right outside of Salem. And so only my sister, I think my two older sisters, I think Dorothy and Ruth and my brother Paul and my parents and my grandfather were allowed to go, and the younger ones were not allowed to go. We were just, the Nishimotos watched over us, and that. So that was a big disappointment. And that was the first marriage in the family. And then they had to take a specific route, a roundabout way to get to the Salem area, because I guess they weren't allowed to go along the Columbia River. Is the Bonneville Dam around there? I guess, so they had to take a long roundabout way.

AI: So there were quite a few restrictions that really affected your family?

BS: Oh yes, uh-huh.

AI: Well, then after, after your sister was married, and that was in March, then it wasn't too much longer between then and the time that you were all forced to leave. What do you remember about that time, those last few months or weeks or days before getting ready to go?

BS: I can't remember. Well, I know that my dad would see pictures in the paper about the Portland people were taken already. And then see them, they had pictures of them lining up to eat and they had plates and whatever, tray and stuff. And so my father thought that we had to provide all of that so he went out and bought these baked enamel kind of, baked enamel over metal type of plates and got silverware, and then those cups, mugs, what would it be? Not stainless steel but metal, something that wouldn't break, he went out to buy those and he didn't realize that the government was going to provide those things. And we had, because we never traveled or anything, so we had to go out and buy some suitcases and all that.

AI: Well, tell me about what happened to all the things that, in your house, your belongings and the farm things?

BS: I really don't know. I think, like farm equipment and things, I'm not sure if he stored them or where he was able to store them unless he was able to take them over to the Nishimotos'. 'Cause I think my father leased the land. And so he may have taken them over to the Nishimotos' place or, I really don't know where he stored some of the things. But then other things you just had to leave, 'cause we can only take as much, what, one suitcase, what we could carry.

AI: What kinds of things did you take?

BS: I don't know. I just, I really don't know. It must've been just clothing as far as... well, I do remember, I think we took a Monopoly set. I think we took that 'cause I think we played with that in camp. Someone had given it to us for Christmas, a good family friend, and I think we took that. But other than that, I don't remember.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, and then, when was it that you actually did leave Hood River?

BS: It was May 13, 1942. And I remember because that's my sister Flora's birthday. And her best friend was Margie, was Margie Bryan. And her, Margie Bryan and her mother came to the train station with a cake, with a birthday cake. And she and Margie remained friends with my sister all through camp and even after, after the war she came to visit my sister in Chicago. And when I took my mother back to Oregon in the '90s, we did get to meet with Mrs. Bryan. I think she, she might have been a year older than my mother, but it was very nice to see her and for my parents, my mother to get together with her.

AI: So there were some good friends and neighbors among the Caucasians?

BS: Yes, yes.

AI: People who helped out and...

BS: Uh-huh

AI: ...who were still friendly?

BS: Oh, yes. And I don't know if I mentioned about the, that one picture that we took the day before evacuation. This was taken in front of our neighbor, they were, I guess they were about the closest Cauc-, in proximity; they were the closest Caucasian neighbor. And it was Alfred Detman. And this was his house and he took our picture the day before evacuation and it's of my grandfather and my parents and my siblings and then Mr. Hachiya. And I had heard, it was only like last year, or maybe the year before, 'cause my brother Paul passed away last year, and he remembered a lot of things. And he, he mentioned that Mr. Detman told my father when, that we're gonna be evacuated, he says, "You don't go. You and your family don't go. I'm going to hide you." And I don't know how he was planning to hide us, but he was really a very good friend of the family. He was a very good friend.

AI: And so here you were, a large family, with all these kids and he was still offering to help you.

BS: Uh-huh, he was willing to. And even, took my parents back to Hood River, I think it was 19... was it 19-, anyway, it was in the '90s and we did see... who was there with him? I think it was the son, his son, Alfred Detman's son, son or grandson, and we visited with him and he, and my dad and he had a real good time remembering the good times.

AI: Well, that is, is so interesting to me that you have some of these positive memories of people right during that time when there was so much negative --

BS: Oh yes.

AI: -- sentiment. And I'm wondering, as a young child, were you aware of that negative anti-Japanese feeling also in the community?

BS: Well, yes because we'd hear people calling out "Jap" and that. And then, and I think my older brothers and sisters probably felt it more than I did. But we had a dog, my brother Claude, someone gave us a dog for Christmas. It must have been the year before. And, well, he was still a puppy, it was, I guess it was a mutt. Anyway, 'cause he got it for Christmas, he called it Chris. And he and the dog were inseparable. But after the war broke out, one day the dog came home and it was -- my sister said she heard a gunshot, and then the dog came home with a bullet wound. And so, my brother Claude nursed it back and he stayed up nights and nursed it back to health. But my dad was, he assumed it was one neighbor and my dad would say, "Wow, must've been because he was chasing chickens or something." Well, we had chickens, too. But he said it must have been that. But I would think, Well, why did he wait 'til December, after December 7th to shoot it?" And so my brother, because he didn't want it to happen again, he tied the dog up, tied it to a tree and figured he could keep it safe that way. But you know, after seeing, the dog had the freedom and then being tied up, he couldn't stand it so he let it go. And then shortly after that he didn't return home, the dog didn't return home. And then my sister said she was working out in the strawberry field and she said she thought she heard a gunshot and she said she saw the dog walk, walk, at a distance, across the field and go toward a swampy area. And the dog never came back. And we assumed that the same thing happened, that he... it's just too bad that the dog had to suffer and you know, because of that. But I guess it was, you'd read in the, I guess my parents would read in the paper about, there was certain names that would come up that were really anti-Japanese.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, so then as you were getting ready to go, and all the Japanese American families had to leave, on that day itself, how were you actually taken out of the valley? Where did you all go?

BS: We, we went to the train station, to the Hood River train station. And then we boarded the train and then we had, of course you see all the soldiers and that. And then we had to keep our, the shades, shades down. And I don't know if it was down all the time or when we were gonna go through a town, we had to keep it down. But my sister, who was married in March, she and her husband must have heard reports of us going through, the train was gonna go through where they lived, in Brooks, near Salem. And so when we went by there, there were all these Japanese Americans standing along the railroad tracks. And so we were able to see my sister and her husband. They were standing on the railroad tracks. But they, so we were sent to Pinedale, which is right outside of Fresno. And they, they went directly, my sister and her husband and his family went directly to Tule Lake. They didn't go to an assembly center. So they went to Tule Lake before we got there.

AI: So what was going through your mind as you were on this train trip and, and then you saw your sister?

BS: Yeah, well, I, well I, to me, like I said, I was happy that our family was together and that we weren't separated from my parents, so it was like an adventure. Me being the kid, right, a kid, and being protected by my older siblings, it was something different 'cause I was getting to ride on a train, and the train was nice and we ate in the dining room and that. And, but I know I saw the porters. They would look at us kind of inquisitively or look at us like, oh, that we're different and that, but, but it was just that we were a family, so... and then I would see our friends on the train, too, our Japanese community friends.

AI: Right, because you were all on the same train.

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: And did it, what went through your mind when you were noticing the guards that were there, that were guarding you on the train?

BS: Well, it was just... that, well I, I knew that there was something wrong because they had guns and they're guarding us and that, so... but I just felt that I was with my parents and my siblings, so...

AI: I wonder if it, did it go through your mind that maybe your family had done something wrong or there was something wrong with you because there were these guards with guns?

BS: Yes, yes, yes, because otherwise they wouldn't have guards on a regular train.

AI: So even as a young child you had that sense?

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: Well, the trip from Hood River down to Pinedale, that's a, quite of a long trip.

BS: Yeah, I really don't know how long it took, but it was, but it was coach and, I don't know how long it took, could be a day and a, could be a day and a half, or maybe longer, maybe one night. I assume it was one night.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: What was it like when you got there? What happened then?

BS: It was hot, hot. I don't remember exactly getting off of the train and if we went on a truck, on trucks to the camp. But all I remember it was so hot and then the, of course, the older siblings had to prepare the mattresses. I guess you had to stuff it with straw or whatever. And there were like army cots. And it was concrete, bare concrete floor. And it was so hot in there, and I remember my grandfather would get water, I don't know with a hose or with a bucket and he would just throw it on the floor to cool it down. And I remember the, I don't think they were really prepared because the mess halls, we would have to eat in shifts. But you know, out in Fresno, it's so hot that we'd have to stand in line for how long, especially lunchtime. And you'd see these, Issei ladies standing in line and fainting because you had to stand out, there's no shade to protect them. And you'd see these ladies fainting from the heat. And, well, I remember I was shocked when I saw the bath, well, the bathroom. And it, 'cause it was... well, in the country we had outhouses, and so you'd have like two holes and that. But they had, this was like, you go there and you look and it's like a piece of board with, I don't know how many holes on each side. And so you're back-to-back but there's no doors, nothing to separate. So if you sit on one side you're back-to-back with someone else but there's no doors or any partitions or anything so you're sitting... so it was makeshift. And I'm sure, like a kid it doesn't matter, but you know, the older, my older sisters, I'm sure it was very embarrassing for them. Then we had to take, the showers, I don't remember Pinedale, but there were showers, I think, and it was all open and that. And we weren't used to taking showers because we had ofuro in Oregon. My dad had made the hot tub, I guess you would call it, and that, so that was something different.

AI: And were all of you all living together in the same room at Pinedale? What was that, what did it --

BS: I think we had two, we probably had two rooms, but there were how many of us, all in that picture, including my grandfather. And, see, so it was, we must've been there for about three months, I'm just guessing, about three months. And then, course they'd give us, vaccinate us with a typhoid shot. Oh, and people would get so sick from that, you react to it and they'd get so sick and with the heat. And I remember that, I don't know if it was a series of shots or what, but I remember when we were being transferred from Minidoka to Tule Lake that I had gotten a shot --

AI: From Pinedale to Tule Lake?

BS: Yes. I was, is that what I said? Or did, I don't know if I said the right order. But I was so sick that I don't know if we were delayed going, or what, but I knew I was really sick. And then I was shocked, I think it was between Pinedale and Tule Lake where, you know, coming from Hood River we had the dining, dining car with the white, I guess white linen and that. But this was like a boxcar. And then they had these long, like what, a picnic tables, long ones like that, and so hot. And we had to eat in there. I don't think I, I think I went there once and I got so sick that I couldn't go, I couldn't.

AI: It sounds miserable.

BS: Oh yeah, that, I was shocked when I saw that, and it was so hot.

AI: Well, the time that you were in Pinedale, what, what were you doing all day long? Because it was...

BS: Summer.

AI: ...summertime and you didn't have any school in Pinedale, did you?

BS: No, no we didn't. So we just found our friends and just hung out with them. I don't know what we did. We must've played hopscotch or something like that. I don't remember.

AI: Did, do you remember anyone talking to you about what was happening to you or what this was about or anything, explaining anything to you?

BS: No, no.

AI: So for you, as a young kid it was just kind of a mystery, of you were just going where you were told to go.

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. We just had to obey the authorities.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: So then tell me then about the, leaving Pinedale and going to Tule Lake. Did you have any idea what, where you were going or why or what was gonna happen?

BS: Oh, I just... well, I would hear other people talking. And like our neighbors, she was saying that her family was going to Poston and then I didn't realize that we were just in assembly center at, at the time, but we were all being sent to different places and we were, we were sent to Tule Lake.

AI: And my understanding is that many of the Hood River people all went to Tule Lake at that time.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so, when you got there at Tule Lake, what did you see? What was that like?

BS: Well, it was larger than Pinedale. And I guess we were one of the later ones because my sister, my sister that was married, Dorothy and her husband had arrived earlier. They were in Tule Lake and they were like on the opposite end of the camp. And so, there were, it was a larger camp and there were, we were the last, what I felt were the last arrivals there, so...

AI: And what was your living space like at Tule Lake?

BS: I think we had two rooms, two rooms. So it was my grandfather and then my brothers had one room and then the girls and my parents had the other room. And then we had, we had our meals at the mess hall. And then we had, well, there was community shower, to do the laundry; the laundry tubs were in the same building as the washroom and showers.

AI: So when you first got there, I think all the rooms were pretty bare.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: What did your family do with these two bare rooms?

BS: I guess we just filled them with beds, with whatever we had. I don't know if we had, I'm not sure if we had to do the same thing, have like army cots and stuff the bedding and then we had a stove. But I think they, they had, half of it was coal or something because they would have to go and get the coal. It would be dumped in the center of the block and they'd have to go and get the coal. I don't think it was wood.

AI: And do you remember, were you nearby other Hood River people there in Tule Lake, or were you scattered around?

BS: We were scattered, but my best friend, Japanese friend, was there. She was in the same block. Oh wait, no, she wasn't in the same block as we were. They were in a different block. I'm thinking, I'm getting confused with Minidoka. They, well, they were mixed here and there. There were Hood River people, and there were, there were some in a couple blocks away.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: Well, so then eventually you started school in Tule Lake?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Tell me about that.

BS: Well, it was, I'd say they weren't prepared, 'cause all they had were chairs. I remember chairs, but they weren't folding chairs, they were like, oh, I don't know, they were made out of plywood or whatever. So we sat in those but when we wrote we had to kneel on the floor and write on the seat of the chair. That was... I don't know how long that lasted until maybe we got more furniture.

AI: And you had finished third grade in Hood River, so you would have been starting fourth grade?

BS: Fourth grade.

AI: In Tule Lake?

BS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

AI: And who did you have for a teacher?

BS: There, I think it was, I think she, I think it was Mrs. Harkness. I think that she was, she was our teacher. It was a Caucasian. She was very kind. I think she, maybe her husband was something to do with the administration, but she was very kind.

AI: And so then what else do you recall from school there?

BS: I don't remember that much in Tule Lake school. I don't remember, I remember more Minidoka than Tule Lake.

AI: So as you were going to school and in some ways having, not really a normal life, but you would get up and it would...

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: What would a typical day be like at, when you were going to school in Tule Lake? You'd get up with your family and go out for...

BS: For breakfast. See, I don't remember that, but I know for breakfast I would go with my parents, with my mother and father and maybe my grandfather. And they had, they had different shifts. And my brothers and my other brothers and sisters, I don't know when they went, but I always went with my mother and father. And then my older, my sister Ruth was the oldest at the time and she was like a waitress, she waitressed. We were in Block 67 and she waitressed in Block 69. And I don't know what my, I don't know what my brother did, my brother Paul did, if he, if had any duties. But my father was like foreman of the janitors, so I don't know, he, if he, somehow he had a bicycle. And he would deliver like Dutch cleanser and brushes and toilet paper and Fels Naptha soap to the different, I don't know what, how large of an area he covered, but he would deliver those things. So I remember that, on my birthday, which is Memorial Day, we would get, they would close the mess hall for, must have been lunch, so we would get a box, box lunch. And so, for my, on certain holidays; and so on Memorial Day, which is my birthday, we would get a box lunch so my friends would come over and then my brother's friends and my sister's friends would come over and we'd have a birthday party. And my sister Ruth would, I don't know what kind of game she had, probably Bingo or something. And the prizes were like some of the supplies that my dad had like toilet paper, and, at least we had prizes anyway. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's something to remember.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, what about other kinds of celebrations? Even though you were in camp and this was Tule Lake, do you recall anything from Christmas, that first Christmas in camp in 1942?

BS: See, I don't remember...

AI: Or New Year's of '43?

BS: No, I don't remember at Tule Lake.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: Well, soon after New Year's of 1943, in January is when the government and the administration wanted everybody in camp, the adults to sign these questionnaires, to answer the questionnaires and sign the so-called "loyalty oath."

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so that would have affected you grandfather, your parents, and your older sisters and your --

BS: Brother, Paul, uh-huh.

AI: -- brother Paul, right. So do you recall any discussion of that or what at that time?

BS: All I knew were the adults would say, well, they answered "yes-yes" or "no-no" or "yes-no" or they're varying, and everyone's like, "Oh if you said 'no-no' you're disloyal." But the questions were phrased that it was difficult to answer. And, but my father said that he had to answer according to his children, 'cause he wanted to remain with the children. And so that's why he said "yes-yes" and I'm sure he, that's why my brother probably answered the same way.

AI: Well, that's so interesting because some families had some real disagreements and trying to figure out how they were going to answer.

BS: Uh-huh, because they would, the way that one question was phrased, they could, like my father, who couldn't, was not allowed to become an American citizen, would be a man without a country. But he, for our, he said for his children's sake he would answer that way.

AI: So then also, your brother, he was draft age by then.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: So do you recall any discussion of that? About, because also in 1943, that's when, they weren't drafting Japanese Americans yet, but they were calling for volunteers into the army asking the young fellows in camp to volunteer for the service.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Do you recall anything about that, discussion of that?

BS: No, because my, I think my brother Paul was drafted in Minidoka. And then our -- well, we call him our cousin, Frank Hachiya, I don't know if he was, I don't know why he... he must have been drafted before we went to camp, 'cause he was older. I think he was drafted. 'Cause he was, I think he was going to college and must have been drafted because in Tule Lake I remember him coming to visit his father and he was in uniform and he was with the MIS but, of course, we didn't know at the time. And I don't know why he was on a furlough, I don't know if he was being sent overseas or whatever, but he was on furlough and he came to visit his father and I remember saying goodbye to him. I remember going out to the railroad tracks, so I'm assuming the railroad tracks were just right out of the gates of camp, and saying goodbye to him.

AI: So, that's interesting, because while you were in Tule Lake you had a couple of visitors then, Frank Hachiya came on his furlough.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Your second grade teacher came.

BS: She came... oh that's right. Yes, she came. Uh-huh.

AI: To Tule Lake.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Were there any other kinds of incidents that stand out in your mind about that time in Tule Lake?

BS: No, I don't remember anything. Well, I know that in Tule Lake, I think they used to have talent shows and, oh that's where they had the Bon Odori, and I don't know where my mother got these kimonos but we had kimonos on and we danced and then they had beauty queen contests and things like that. I remember that.

AI: Well, so Bon Odori was probably, that would have been July or maybe early August of 1943.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And then some time soon after that, probably, then you were moved to Minidoka.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Were, did you have any understanding of what was happening, why you were being moved to another camp or what was going on?

BS: No, I didn't know at the time that Tule Lake was going to become a segregated camp where the so-called "disloyal" people were being sent. And my dad, I don't know if he knew, but he never explained. But, so we were sent to Minidoka. But later on, in his later years he told me that he had, I guess they had a choice. You could tell the authorities that, he told them... 'cause we were a designated to go to Heart Mountain and my father told them that he wanted to eventually return to Oregon when he would be released. And so he figured Idaho is closer to Oregon than Wyoming so they allowed us to go to Minidoka.

AI: Well, now before you actually left for Minidoka, did some of your older sisters --

BS: Oh, yes.

AI: -- go out to... because after answering the so-called "loyalty questionnaire," that was another way that, that was one of the things that was used to decide who would be allowed to go out.

BS: Oh.

AI: And so I'm wondering, now what happened with some of your older siblings?

BS: Well, okay, my sister who was married, Dorothy and her husband Hiroshi Kaneko, they, I guess you had to have a sponsor to be able to go out and find work. So they went to Barrington, Illinois as, I guess she was a cook and a maid or whatever, and my brother-in-law was, became a gardener, to these wealthy suburbs of Chicago. And then, then through that they, I guess they got a job for my sister, my sister Ruth, and she more or less became babysitter, cook, whatever.

AI: So she left Tule Lake also.

BS: Also.

AI: To go to the Chicago area.

BS: Uh-huh, to, that was, I think Arlington Heights. And she and one of her other friends went, the two of them went and they worked in that area, Arlington Heights. So they were, guess they were the only ones from my family that was on a job, that left Tule Lake.

AI: And did you recall any discussion of that? Was that, did your parents encourage or support your sister to go out?

BS: I don't know.

AI: Or, because I know some families were kind of reluctant to --

BS: Yeah, because my sister was, I think she was nineteen. She was, I think she said she was nineteen, and she says, "Oh, my gosh, this is," you know, being from a small, country, she's a country girl to go on this train to big city and... she said she was afraid but she said that when she got on the train and she saw all these soldiers, they were, the soldiers were on there, but they were very kind to them. And so, I'm sure my, my father was concerned, but I guess he probably encouraged them, 'cause to get on with their life, their lives.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: So, in the meantime then, the rest of you then had to pack up and leave Tule Lake and get on another train and go to Minidoka.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: So tell me about that then, going to Minidoka and arriving there.

BS: Ah, I don't remember. I don't even remember the train ride or anything like I remember the one between Pinedale and Tule Lake. I don't...

AI: Kind of a blank.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: So, what's the first thing you remember about Minidoka after getting there, your impression of that place? Did it seem similar to Tule Lake or different?

BS: Yeah, because, well, I don't know what time of year it was but it was hot and dusty and then we, and we had two rooms again. And I think the barrack, I'm not sure if the barrack was longer because we had two, four, there were six, six rooms to a barrack and some of our friends, you know, from Oregon, from Hood River and Portland area, my parents knew some of the people there.

AI: So they were, it was similar, probably, to your father that they had decided they also were hoping to return to Oregon so they also requested Minidoka?

BS: Probably, because a lot of them went to Heart Mountain. Like our closest neighbors, the Nishimotos, they were sent to Heart Mountain.

AI: But there were still a few people that you knew then, at Minidoka?

BS: Yes. Yes.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Well, let's see, so then you were in Minidoka, that would have been the fall of 1943.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And probably you would have been starting the fifth grade.

BS: Uh-huh, yes, I think so.

AI: And I understand that Minidoka had two grammar schools?

BS: Grammar schools, uh-huh. I went to Stafford. There was Stafford and Hunt and I, Hunt was on the other end of the camp and so we went to Stafford.

AI: And what was that like when you were going to school there at Stafford?

BS: Well, let's see, I think I was a patrol, what do you call, patrol girl where you, between, we had to stand between the blocks. I don't know, direct kids or whatever to school. And our teacher was Caucasian. And I felt she was, she didn't like being there. I just had this feeling. It's because she would, you know, you'd have the current events. I think kids had weekly readers and then as you got older you had the current events paper, weekly, kind of a weekly paper telling you about the news. And so of course they're gonna be talking about the war. And so she, I know she'd have her back to us and she'd be looking at the map on the wall and I guess, talking about the war and then she'd say something like, "And the Japs..." you know, like ready to say "Japs" and then she'd turn around and she sees they're all Japanese and then she'd add the word "-anese." You knew she was going to say "Japs," but she would add "-anese." And so, I just felt that she really didn't want to be there, but she was there. And, but she got ill, I don't know when it was, but she became ill and she, she was in the hospital for a while and so a group of us went to visit her. And she kind of changed after that. When she came back she kind of... appreciated that.

AI: Well, I had heard that there were also, at the Minidoka schools, some assistant teachers who were Japanese American.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Did you have some assistant teachers?

BS: Yes. And in fact, our gym teacher was... oh, what was the name? I think it was Bill Ogasawara, he was our gym teacher and sometimes he would you know, like when the teacher was sick or something he would come in and be a substitute. And I think it was another woman, a woman that would come in, a Japanese American, an internee who was also teaching.

AI: And do you recall much about your class itself, things that you were doing in school, or...

BS: I remember when, when people were going to leave the camp, people were being permitted to go. And then one of the, one of the projects, or whatever, was, we would write a story or a poem about relocating, in other words, relocating from camp to the outside world. And I remember writing a poem about that. So, you know, you just imagine what it's going to be like. I remember that, and, I know we'd have Christmas programs, I would prepare for Christmas programs and giving book reports. I think we had, must have had summer school because, I think we had to attend summer school, too, because I know it was, get awfully hot and I'd get bloody noses because, 'cause it's dry. And I used to get bloody noses so I couldn't attend classes because I would get bloody noses. And my mother had terrible asthma in Minidoka. She'd have to get a damp handkerchief and put it, cover her face because her asthma was... I think it was the dust and the sagebrush.

AI: Well, I had heard and read also that some of the teachers at the Minidoka schools really emphasized democracy and Americanism and saluting the flag and things like that. Do you recall anything like that?

BS: I don't remember. I know we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day. But I don't... maybe high school, but I don't recall. But I remember one, one day... you know Ben Kuroki, was it a Nebraska war hero, he came and visited the camp and we, everybody was out and we were waving flags or whatever and I remember him coming to visit camp.

AI: So that kind of made an impression on you.

BS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

AI: Yeah, I remember seeing some photographs from that day.

BS: Oh, uh-huh.

AI: And lots of people coming out for these gatherings.

BS: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: So, we're continuing our interview with Betty Morita Shibayama. And Betty, before the break you were telling about Tule Lake and that you were, your family moved, were moved to Tule Lake -- from Tule Lake to Minidoka. And then in Minidoka, you were there from about, you were thinking late summer or early fall of 1943. And a lot of things happened to your family while you were in Minidoka. One thing that you had mentioned earlier was that your brother, Paul, was drafted. So, I'm wondering, what, as a young kid, what was your understanding of that, what was happening?

BS: I, well, I didn't think anything of it because there were other families whose sons went, were drafted, too. And, but he, I don't know what point he was drafted because from Minidoka I knew he went out to work, too, help out on the farms and that. So I don't know when that occurred.

AI: So, at some point before he was drafted, he went out on work leave.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And a lot of people were allowed to do that. And then at some point he was drafted.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And, do you recall anything, your parents talking about that or any of your other siblings discussing that?

BS: No, I don't, I don't remember.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Well, and another thing that you had mentioned earlier, too, was that while you were in Minidoka, you received news about Frank Hachiya.

BS: Oh, yes.

AI: You mentioned earlier how he had been drafted from, probably from before the U.S. entered Word War II and then you didn't know at the time, but he was in the Military Intelligence Service.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: So what happened when you heard this news?

BS: I really, all I know is they were talking. But somehow my sister must have gotten a hold of the Oregonian paper and there was a big write-up about him, you know, like full-page article. And my sister says, "This is kind of funny," because you know how the Oregonian was anti-Japanese, and wondered why he got such coverage. Well, I don't know, later, later we found out that... I think he was... it was like, what do you call, enemy fire? They described it as a Japanese sniper in, had, in a tree, had shot him. Well, he, I guess the Nisei soldiers because they were fighting the enemy that looks just like them, the Caucasian soldiers could not tell the difference between the enemy or friend. And I suppose that a Japanese soldier could get a hold of an American uniform and pretend that he was an American soldier. But they were supposed to have bodyguards, a Caucasian bodyguard with the Nisei soldiers. And, but he had outran his bodyguard and was supposedly killed by a Japanese sniper, but as it turns out, I think it was friendly fire, and he was killed. But then we got word about him, and Mr. Hachiya, who we called our uncle, he was in the same block as we were, but they had like a bachelor quarters, certain end of the block they had where the single men lived, and he lived, but he lived in the same block as we did. And so I remember them having a funeral service in the mess hall. But at that time, my little sister was born, my little sister Diana was born in 1944. And so, in the picture that I see, everyone's there except me and my little sister so I suppose I had to babysit my sister and that's when we had, they had a funeral service there. And then, and then it was Buddhist service because, I don't know what Frank was but the father was, and mother were Buddhist. And I'm not sure but I think Buddhists, after so many days, they have another, is it forty or so many days. And I guess during -- they have another service. And this is the way I understand it, but I'm not sure, where the reason they have that second service is because the soul is not at rest or something until you have that other service.

And so this forty-day service was held in our barrack, where we, in our living quarters, 'cause it wasn't a large group. And our neighbor, who was the Hatas, and George Hata was with the 442. And he was on leave because he was wounded in action. And he said that when he was coming home from the shower and they were having the services at our, in our barrack, he says he was walking from the shower to his, to his place of residence, which was next door to us. He says he was walking and all of a sudden -- oh our barrack was this way and then there was a rec. hall on this end. And he said he saw this red fireball, red fireball that he says he, it was coming from above the recreation hall and came over and lit right on top of where our apartment or whatever it was, where the, where the service was being held. And he said he saw action, right? He says, well, he says he was, he never was so afraid for his life until, when he saw that. [Laughs] He says that, 'cause that's the first time that he had experienced that. But, and then he says it rested right above our place, living quarters, and then it rested there and then it just slowly came down and disappeared. And then, and so, he had told my father that and my father told me that. And so they feel that I guess that was his soul or spirit and it was finding rest there. Because my father said as, you know, as a young kid growing up in Japan, he said he had seen fireballs like this, and my grandfather, too, so, so I guess there must be some truth to that.

AI: Isn't that something?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Wow. Well, so that was, must have been just a very sad time.

BS: Sad time, yes, yes.

AI: And for Mr. Hachiya.

BS: Oh, yes, yes.

AI: Because he also had his family members in Japan.

BS: In Japan, his wife and younger son was in Japan.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, that was... and then in 1944 you mentioned that your, your younger sister had been born.

BS: Born, yes.

AI: And so, what kind of, how did that change, it must've been a big change for you, 'cause you had been the youngest for so long.

BS: For eleven years I was the baby. [Laughs] And so, then I became like a babysitter. And I, and when, when my father told the older siblings, my brother would say, "That's impossible" -- 'cause my mother was forty-four -- he said, "That's impossible, she can't have a baby." And I'm thinking, "Why can't she have a baby?" [Laughs] But then, see, she had -- 'cause when I was born I was, right, pronounced dead, 'cause I was black and blue. Well, I was a breech baby. And then my sister, when she was, my mother was pregnant with her, she had problems with her and she was, like, sideways. And she's, of course, camp had a hospital so she was, my mother had to remain in the hospital for, I don't know, several weeks, I guess, and hoping that the baby would turn. And I know, I remember going with my father to the hospital and he'd be, I'd be standing in the hallway and I could her him talking to, my dad talking to the doctor. And the doctor said that because the baby won't turn, that either the baby could die or my mother could die, or both could die. And that, but, but I guess just before delivery, turned, but she was also breech. But it worked out fine. But she was the only one that was born in a hospital. [Laughs]

AI: Isn't that something? She was the only one born in a hospital and it was the hospital in the camp.

BS: Camp, uh-huh. And it was the, the doctor who delivered her was from, a doctor from Portland. So my father knew him.

AI: Well, so during this time in Minidoka, of course, your mother was busy. She had this new baby. And you were going to school. What about your father, and was he doing any kind of activity or did he have some work?

BS: He was, I think, doing kind of janitorial or something.

AI: He was continuing that kind of work?

BS: Uh-huh. And then, I don't know, at one point where my, my father went out to work, when they were allowed to go out to work and he went to work at Twin Falls which was the closest town from Minidoka. And he, he lived out there. And I don't know if he, it was something to do with the railroad or what, but he worked out there. And then at a certain point we were allowed to get a day permit or pass and then we could go visit him. And they, I know they had a bus that would take us from camp to Twin Falls. And then even other times, if you could get a pass and just spend the day in Twin Falls. And so we would, I remember going and visiting my father, my two brothers above me and my sister Flora and I went to visit my dad out there.

AI: Oh. So, well, so then as time was going on then, we, we're coming up into 1945 and let's see, from 1944, 1945, that probably would have been sixth grade for you.

BS: Uh, I guess so, I guess so. And then I know my, my, then my dad, I guess he came back from Twin Falls, and then he and my brother Claude and Junior and then my sister Flora, they went to work in... was it Eastern Oregon? It, I think it was Nyssa, Oregon. And a family friend had bought property on a little island that was out there. And so they went to work for them for a while. And so, so that's why my mother and my grandfather and my sister Diana and I were the only ones left in camp. And then gradually people started leaving camp and they were going to different places. And, but my father said that, he told my mother that, to remain as long as possible in camp because we're all dependents, the four of us, and that he wasn't sure where he wanted to settle. He didn't know whether he wanted to go back to Oregon or move elsewhere. And so, so we were there, we were there 'til October and people were leaving. And I was upset because all of my friends were leaving and I said, "When are we gonna leave?" And finally my father decided -- after visiting Hood River a couple of times and he saw the racial prejudice, even then -- that he decided to move to the Chicago area because my two older sisters lived in that area and they encouraged him to go out to Chicago because, so we could start a new life. And she said, and they said that there wasn't the prejudice out there like back in Oregon.

AI: Well, before you got to that point of actually leaving camp, of course, the, in 1945 the atom bomb was dropped and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed and then there was the end of the war, Japan surrendered. And I'm wondering, do you, how did you hear about that or what did you...

BS: I don't remember. I really don't remember.

AI: Do you recall anybody talking about that, or any news about...

BS: No, I, I just, I don't remember that.

AI: Well, and of course you were probably not in school at that time because that was August.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: And so then, as you were saying, a lot of your friends and other families were leaving and you were still there until October.

BS: Yes, and then, in fact, towards the end, I don't know why there were Caucasian families. You would see them in camp, in the, you know, boundary of the camp. And we would sometimes see them in the mess hall. You know, well, because there were less people, less Japanese Americans there, and we see them in the mess hall. And they would look down on us and we were resentful of them intruding, and then they, but they lived within the boundaries but they were farming in, in the camp. And right, right next to -- 'cause we were, we were right next, I guess were towards one of the boundary lines and so there was, they were farming around there and they had... we'd seen them raising corn. We'd see corn out there. And so, a few of our kids my age, and then there were some, there were two older sisters, they were from the Portland area and they were in their, probably late teens or so. And we, we all resented them being in camp with us and then treating us, look down on us. And so, we got together and we said, "Oh, one night we're gonna raid that corn field." And then we said, "Oh," you know, like me, I'm a chicken. [Laughs] And then they said, "Okay," so we says, "Okay, we get, we get our flashlights and we get bags and we're gonna go." So then when it's dark we went out there and then we got the corn, whatever we could in our bags. And I was so scared. I didn't use my flashlight, I just took anything. I was so afraid, I just took anything. So then when we got back we went back to their barrack, to the older, to the older girl's place and then she just laid out everything that we got and then she just divided it among us. And I'm sure all mine were green. But I said, "Oh man, we stole some corn." [Laughs]

AI: That's quite a story. My goodness. Well, so, then the time did come for you to pack up and leave. And so what did, what was going through you mind as you were doing this, getting ready to go?

BS: Well, I was, I was glad we were leaving because most of my friends had left camp already. And then I would think oh, I'll be reunited with my sisters. So I was looking forward to it. And so we went from camp to, I think it was Shoshone, Shoshone or Shoshone Falls and then my father met us there. So, so it was just my grandfather, my mother, sister and I. And we had, I think it was lunch or breakfast with my father and then we boarded the train to go to Chicago. And then because my grandfather and my sister were (dependents), so we got a compartment. So it was small but it was nice because we had our own room and that.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: So, gosh, then once you got to Chicago, where did you stay? Where did you go then?

BS: Well, my sister Dorothy was married to Hiroshi Kaneko and his, his father had bought this huge apartment building. So I'm not sure what year he went out of Tule Lake, the father. And so he bought this big apartment building. Of course it was probably dirty and everything else, had to be cleaned up. But his plan was to help the Japanese Americans who would be coming out of camp and resettling in Chicago, they would have a place to stay. So that's where we, that's where we went. And then, so, so the four of us were there and then my, my dad and my two brothers and sisters came. We went in October. We left camp in October and then I think my dad and other siblings met us in, came to Chicago, I think it was early the next year.

AI: So then you got to Chicago a little bit later in the fall, then, of '45.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And then, so you must have missed the beginning of the school year?

BS: School, uh-huh.

AI: What, what was that like? Sometimes it's hard for any kid to go to a new school and --

BS: It was.

AI: -- here you're in a completely new city, a completely new environment. You're outside of camp for the first time.

BS: Uh-huh, so it was, it was difficult to catch up. It was kind of difficult. But, you know, like math was my best subject, but it was like... it was terrible. I, I could, we'd have to go up to the blackboard and figure out problems and I could see where the teacher, like she would put two people at one time. And I could see that she was putting me next to one of the girls who was not very, very good in math. And I said, "Oh my gosh, I got to get back to where I was before." So my sister Ruth was, was living in... she had, oh, she had married. She had married Susumu Hidaka and he was stationed in, they were having... in Minnesota, I'm not sure if it was Fort Savage or, where they were having the MIS. And so he was stationed there, so she was living in the same apartment building as we were. And so she, so I said, "You have to help me because I'm one of the dumbest ones in math and that was my favorite subject." So she would give me problems and things and so, so then I was able to get back into...

AI: To catch up.

BS: ...where I felt comfortable, yes. And the I, then I, there was a Japanese girl in my class. Well, there were, I think it was a Japanese boy, Japanese American boy in my class and then there was the Japanese girl in my class and we became real good friends.

AI: And what was the composition of the rest of the class? Was it --

BS: Well, there was a Chinese girl. I think there was a Chinese girl, oh, there was... well, sometimes we had -- we were on semesters so there might be a grade below us that's mixed with us. So there was, there was, I think there was... so maybe there were about five of us who were Japanese American in our class. The rest were, let's see, Caucasian, and there was a Chinese girl. I don't remember if there were any blacks and... but there were in our school, there were some blacks in our school, grammar school.

AI: So, after coming out of the camp situation where all of you were Japanese American except for the teachers and the government workers, the administrators, what was this like for you to be in this situation that was more mixed, there's some other racial minorities?

BS: Well, I remember I just felt comfortable.

AI: And so how were you treated, you and the other Japanese Americans? Did you feel any kind of prejudice or anything?

BS: No, no, we didn't.

AI: So even though it was very soon after the end of the war, you really didn't receive any anti-Japanese...

BS: I didn't, I didn't feel any. The only thing is that because -- well, until my, my father joined us and I was more responsible for my mother and grandfather and little sister, so I would have to go to, you know, being from farm, country girl, I had to do the shopping, grocery shopping and, I didn't know. I'd look at the different cuts of meat and stuff, and I didn't know, I'd just say, "Give me that, give me that." [Laughs] So I had more responsibility until my father joined us.

AI: And the apartment building that you lived in, you mentioned how the owner had set it up to be a place where Japanese Americans could come. So was it almost all Japanese Americans living there?

BS: No, it was mixed, it was mixed because I know the...we were kind of the annex, and it was, I'm trying to think. I guess there were, I know there was a Jewish couple that lived on the first floor and I think the rest on that side were, maybe, I guess we were all Japanese Americans. But it was mixed but I'd say maybe the majority were Japanese Americans.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, so then as you got settled there in Chicago and you were getting used to being back in school at, in a public school, and getting caught up with your studies, then, and also your little sister, by that time she was what, about two years old or so, a year and a half?

BS: About three, yeah. Oh yeah, a year, she left when she was a year and a half.

AI: Right, right. Well, so then, then what happened with your family? Did you stay in the apartment building or did you move out to another location?

BS: No, we lived in that apartment building. And then, then, of course, my mother had to go work, had to go work. So she, you know, she always worked on the farm and that. So, and she didn't speak English well. She understood but she didn't speak it well. But, so she went to work where all the other former internees went, like lot of 'em went to, I think she went to work at Hart, Shafter & Marx 'cause she knew how to sew. So they, lot of Japanese, Isseis were working there. And then, so then other people could interpret for her. And she worked there for a while and then my grandfather became the babysitter for my little sister because we went to school. And then she, I know she went to work for ShenYu, which was a cosmetic place. And eventually she, I think she, she went and looked for employment in this one building. And then she went in the wrong entrance and she went to the wrong place and so they said, she said she was looking -- I don't know how she said it -- but she said she was looking for such and such. And they said, "Oh, well, we're also looking for workers, too." So, because it was after the war and the men were gone and they, and most of the people were, it was women working and in that company it was handicapped people like deaf-mutes. And so -- the men were deaf-mutes. And so they said, "We're looking for work," and so they hired my mother. And she was such a good worker he asked her to bring other people. So my mother would bring other Japanese there and then she would bring people from the church. And he appreciated how, how industrious these Japanese were so he was very good to them. He gave them bonuses and he appreciated 'em and it was, through the years, he was, he would donate to the church and he really appreciated my mom and her bringing in all the people.

AI: What kind of work were they doing there?

BS: It was, it was called WrapOn Company. And I know they made insulation and then they, I think they made things like thermostats and I know my mother worked with fiberglass and things like that. Sometimes she would bring work home so we could do it and help her.

AI: And then what was your father doing at this time?

BS: At that time he was still, well, he was working on the farm, our friend's farm. And then later the following year they came and joined us. And then he was working, I think he was working for a furniture... oh, why he worked for a furniture, yeah, he worked for a furniture factory. I know he worked as a elevator operator, and then we were going to school and then my two brothers above me would find...'cause they were going to high school, so they worked part-time as busboys or something while my sister, then my sister was working at the YWCA as a, not a waitress, but, 'cause they have cafeteria, she worked in there. And then when I was fourteen then I was able to work at the YWCA, too.

AI: So that would've been, what, 1947 when you turned fourteen?

BS: Uh, yes, yes.

AI: And so then tell me about, there, I got the feeling that there were quite a few Japanese Americans who had resettled in Chicago.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And I'm wondering, did you, because you lived nearby so many also, did you have much of a community activity or church activities, or things that... did you start forming another Japanese American community there?

BS: Well, they had the, what they called the Resettlers which became Japanese American service committee, to help the people resettle. And that was very close to where we lived. But we had girls clubs and boys clubs, like the boys had basketball teams and that and so then they became like, have clubs. And the girls would have girls clubs and we'd socialize and have dances, throw dances and stuff. And then there, some were from the north side and some were from the south side. And we were in the north side.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, then as you moved into high school, your high school years, did you have some thought about what you might be wanting to do after, after graduation? Did you have, sometimes kids have some picture in their mind if they're going to become a teacher or do something.

BS: No, I think because, because my other siblings did not go on to college, weren't able to go to college, so I just thought, "Well, I'll graduate from high school and get a job and eventually get married and have a family." That was...

AI: And that's what a lot of girls did at that time.

BS: Uh-huh. That's what -- yeah, lot of, lot of the Japanese American girls did not, my age group or little bit older, did not go to college, and that's what they did, they went out to work and got married.

AI: Well, tell me a little bit about your high school years. What high school did you go to?

BS: We went to Wells High School which was on the northwest side of Chicago. And that was a mostly Polish, Polish neighborhood. So the school itself was Polish and there were blacks and then, of course, there were other minorities. But I don't know if it was my freshman year or something, they did have a strike where the whites did not come to school because of the blacks in the school. So, of course one, the whites just strictly didn't go school. Well, we didn't know what to do. We didn't know where we fit, so we just went to school. And just mingled with the blacks. But I know there was someone that had drawn a knife or something I think at one time and I'm not sure if it was the white or the black but someone had drawn a knife and that's what started the strike. But it didn't last very long and they just went back to school there.

AI: Well, Chicago was known for kind of a history of racial conflict between blacks and whites. And so this sounds like this was just one small part of that, that happened in your high school. But as you were in your high school years, were you very aware of this kind of racial conflict going on in the city and...

BS: No, just other than that. And then, like in my classes there were blacks. Well, even in grammar school -- oh yeah, in grammar school there was a black girl in my class and we were friends. And then even in high school we had blacks in our class.

AI: So did your high school start from ninth grade, then?

BS: Yes, yes.

AI: And then, I'm wondering, too, the teachers in your high school, were they mainly white teachers? Or did, were they racially mixed also?

BS: Oh, let's see. They were all whites, I think. 'Cause I don't remember having a... no, they were all whites, white teachers. They were Polish and... I don't know what other nationality the teachers were. But they were, I think there were, I think they were, majority were white teachers.

AI: Well, I'm interested in whether you ever got questioned by either other students or by teachers because I imagine that many of them had never met Japanese Americans before and didn't really know anything about Japanese Americans. Did you get questions, or funny looks?

BS: No, just my sister. My sister Flora said when she went to -- 'cause I was going to grammar school when we got to Chicago and she was in high school. And she said some girls came up to her and they were so curious because they hadn't seen anyone with black straight hair. And they would feel her hair and say, "Is that real? Is that real?" But other than that, no. And I, and I remember in one of my history classes we had to write an essay about something and so I wrote about camp. And, of course, people thought it was summer camp. And then when, when I wrote it, then he had me read it in front of the class and then that was the first time some people had even known about that. And then the thing is, that I became friends with a Filipino girl, girl from the Philippines. And we were best friends. And she, and so when they wanted me to talk about that they had questions. That he knew that she was in the Philippines during the war and so she gave her side of what, what went on because the Japanese, I guess, occupied the Philippines. So, so it was interesting.

AI: That was interesting. So then did people believe your story that the U.S. government actually did that?

BS: Well, I guess...

AI: Did anyone question you that...

BS: No.

AI: Wow, that is really something.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, is there anything else about your high school years that kind of stands out in your mind or getting adjusted to Chicago, growing up and...

BS: No, it was just that it was different because we were so used to the country and then being in a big city and plus my mother was not home. She had to go work. But, of course, we all had to go work. And it was just my grandfather and my little sister that stayed at home.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, so tell me about graduation and what you did after that.

BS: You mean the actual graduation date? Well, it was, the graduation was in the evening, in the evening. And I don't even know who attended the graduation, if my parents attended or what. But I don't know, we just had the graduation. We said goodbye to our friends and then I think I was going with someone so then we just went with his friends and we just went out for something to eat or something.

AI: And that would have been in 1951?

BS: '51, uh-huh.

AI: Right. So then what did you do after graduation?

BS: Then I went to work at Traveler's Insurance Company. My sister Flora, it's like I followed her everywhere she went. She worked, she worked at the YWCA when she was in high school and so when I was fourteen years old, then I worked at the YWCA. Then she went to work on at the YMCA and then she went to work at a collection agency. So I worked at a collection agency, too. Oh, but then my father and my uncle, Mr. Hachiya, and my brother Paul -- he was married at that time -- they ran a business, a launderette. And so I used to work after school over there. It was on the west side of Chicago. And I worked there for a while. But after graduation I went to work at Traveler's Insurance Company. And then on Saturdays we worked at the laundromat.

AI: Well, in the meantime, then, you had met the man that you ended up marrying.

BS: Well, I met Art in 19-, oh, when did I meet him? 1950. Well, we met at, we used to just, we weren't Buddhist. But our friend, one of our friends, high school friends was a Buddhist and so she belonged to the Junior YBA and so Fridays they would have socials. So she said, "Come, come." And I said, "But we're not Buddhist, we're Christians." And, but my friend May and I were Christians. And she says, "No, no, come join, we just socialize." So we started going there. And then we started going bowling sometimes on Sundays and that's where I met Art. He was, he had, he and his... oh, 'cause before he joined, there were two other Peruvians that were attending the Friday night socials and so we knew them. And then they said, "Okay, we're gonna go bowling," and I guess one of them invited Art to come bowling. And so Art said that he had never bowled in his life and he had gone the night before and bowled his first game. And so my friend May and I were, we were late 'cause we had gone to church and by the time we got to the bowling alley we were later than the other people. So we were put on the same bowling lane as Art and someone else and so they introduced us to them. I said, he, we were introduced, he said, "Hello," and that's the one and only word he said to us all this time. We said, my gosh, he wasn't, he wasn't very friendly or anything. Well, later on he tells me, he says, well, that was, the night before was the first time he had ever bowled and he was concentrating on his bowling. [Laughs] But we were just friends, 'cause I was dating someone else so I... it was later on, and I think after I graduated from high school in the fall I started dating him.

AI: Well, and so you mentioned that, you just mentioned that there were a couple of other Japanese Peruvians that you had known earlier. So what did you know about their experience and what had happened to them?

BS: Well see, I didn't know. All I knew was, oh, these people, they look a little bit different and they speak Spanish, and they speak Japanese and they speak broken English. So we knew they were, but I don't know if it was, if we found out through them, or maybe it was through Art that we found out that they were... well, we knew they were in camp but I didn't know the details.

AI: And so you just kind of knew that they were different, that they had come from Peru.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And that, but you didn't really know how that happened.

BS: The whole story, uh-huh. And then we knew that most of them came from Seabrook.

AI: Right. Well, so then as you then did start dating Art and you started hearing more about his story and his family's experience, what was your reaction?

BS: Well, I couldn't believe it. I said, "Why, why?" And, of course, Art was, he's kind of a private person about that so he, he wouldn't say a whole lot and just say that they were just in camp in Crystal City. And we knew, well, what we knew of Crystal City was oh, all the notorious people went to Crystal City. [Laughs] That was the reputation because we really didn't know. But, or the dangerous ones were in Crystal City. But it was later that I found out more detail and it made me angry. And then when I told my brothers and sisters, they couldn't believe it, either. But we saw these three pretty girls which were Art's sisters and they spoke perfect Japanese. They were pretty and then they had this accent. [Laughs] And a lot of people were curious.

AI: You mean when they spoke English they had an accent? Or their Japanese was accented?

BS: No, the Japanese was perfect but then they didn't speak English as well. They spoke more Japanese than English and then when they did, they spoke with an accent.

AI: And so it made people curious, then?

BS: Uh-huh, and then especially 'cause they were pretty. [Laughs]

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, then as you and Art were becoming more serious about possibly getting married, well, getting engaged, and you found out about his, his legal status, that he didn't have legal status in the country yet. Did, were you concerned about that or did you have some worries?

BS: Oh, yes, because I wanted him to become a citizen but he said that he was going, he was reporting to the immigration office and they wouldn't give him any, really, solution. All they did was on, was it January, in January they have to fill out that alien form and that, but, yeah, I was concerned that, I was hoping that he would eventually become a citizen.

AI: But at that point, that, when you became engaged, he could still be deported to Japan?

BS: Uh-huh. Well, when we became engaged he was in the service.

AI: Oh, already.

BS: He was drafted in... we started dating in late '51 and he was drafted in April of '52. And then we became engaged because he was gonna go overseas. We became engaged in September of '52. So we thought, "Well, he's in the service so he'll get his citizenship," which we thought would be automatic. And so I wasn't concerned, so concerned with that.

AI: Because you figured once he was in the service they were not going to deport him to Japan.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: As long as he was in the service.

BS: Service, that's right. [Laughs]

AI: And little did you know that his citizenship was not going to be granted right away.

BS: That's right, that's right.

AI: Well, so then while Art was in the service and he went overseas, then what were you doing during this time? You were still working in Chicago?

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. I was working and living at home and waiting for him to come back. And then when he came back, he, we were engaged for a long time, 'cause he was gone for a year and a half. Then when he came back he wanted to go to school, some kind of trade school. So he went to mechanic school so that was like another year. So we were engaged for about two and a half years and then, then we got married in '55, April of '55.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, now tell me about your honeymoon and the trip that you took after that. I'm very interested to hear about your travels.

BS: Okay, we didn't have any money. We kid our kids, they say, "Well, why did you marry Dad?" Or, "Dad, why did you marry Mom?" We say, "Oh, we married each other for money but we found out too late that neither one of us had any." [Laughs] Because it was like, because we're struggling from camp so anything that, our paychecks, we were giving to our parents and he was doing the same thing. And then anything we needed we'd ask my dad and he'd give us the money. But I was the kind of person that I wouldn't ask. I figured he must know what my needs are, so I wouldn't ask. And my sister above me, she's the one that would ask and she'd get everything. [Laughs] But then Art, too, he was giving his paycheck, 'cause he was the eldest. And he, being the man, he gave his check to his dad, too, so we didn't really have any money so to speak and actually we went on our honeymoon. We went, we drove down to Florida and we were planning to stay in Miami Beach. But when we went to see how much it cost to stay in Miami Beach we said, "We're not staying here," so we just went on to Fort Lauderdale and stayed there in Palm Beach and then we came back up. But we came back because we ran out of money. [Laughs]

AI: Well, you had never been to the south part of the country, had you?

BS: No. Oh yes, so when, when we, during that time they were still white, blacks and white drinking fountains and bathrooms, restrooms. So when we would come to a rest area I wouldn't know where to go because it says "white" and it says "black" and I'm not white, I'm not black, where am I gonna go? So I figured, well, the safest thing is to go, to do is to go in the black. And the black woman says, "No, you don't come here, you go over there." And so that's why I went to the white --

AI: Tell me about that. Why did you think it was the safest thing was to go the black side?

BS: Because I'm not white. And I guess because of what happened, our camp experience, I felt I wasn't equal as a white so I must belong with the opposite. So that's where I went.

AI: But when you did go there, then the black --

BS: The lady told me, she said, "No, you don't belong here. You go over there." But you still felt like, oh, uncomfortable because that, "Do I really belong here?"

AI: That must've been kind of a shock.

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: And this was in 1955?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: That you were in the South and you saw this.

BS: Yes, yes. But in Chicago, see, they didn't have that segregation.

AI: Looking back on that, it's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago.

BS: Uh-huh. That's right, that's right.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, so then you finished your travels and came back to Chicago, and then tell me, where did you and Art settle in your, for your home?

BS: Well, we first, well actually, we rented an apartment. It was a friend of my father-in-law had this apartment and it was like cut in two. And it was, I mean, it was the funniest apartment, but it was reasonable. I don't know how much we were paying by the week but it was reasonable. So the landowner, who was a friend of my father-in-law, he and his wife lived in the front section of the main floor and we were in the back. And you'd have to go through the back and you'd go in there and the kitchen sink is in the living room. [Laughs] So there's a kitchen sink, and it was a furnished apartment, and then there was a sofa and then there, and then in the next room they had the stove and the refrigerator. It was very small, there wasn't enough room for a table, so there was a stove and a refrigerator. And then there was a bathroom, a very small bathroom. And the bedroom was so small that a double bed fit in there and you'd have to kind of go sideways to get into the bed. [Laughs] But we, we stayed there, I don't know how long, how long did we stay there? We stayed, gosh, I can't remember how long we stayed there. Oh, it wasn't very long because we were married in April and then Art's mother had a hysterectomy in June so then we went to live with them to help her. To help her and then we lived there for, let's see, a short time. We lived, I can't remember how long we lived there, oh maybe, I'd say maybe six months or so. And then, we, then as she improved we went and got, rented another apartment which was near Wrigley Field. And we lived there for a while and then my father-in-law bought this apartment building and he wanted us to move in there and kind of manage it. So we did that. We did that, I can't remember how long that was. And then, then, I don't know, he must have sold that building and then we went to move into one of my, Art's, Art's sister was married and they owned an apartment building so we went to, we moved in there. And we eventually bought the building from them when they, they moved to California.

AI: So, and what area of Chicago was that, the apartment building?

BS: It was on the north side, well, it's like what would they call it? Closer to Evanston, close to the lake. But there were... I'm trying to think, were there Japanese? Yeah, there were Japanese around there.

AI: So it was mostly a Caucasian area but some Japanese Americans --

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: -- in the neighborhood also?

BS: Uh-huh, they had apartment buildings, too.

AI: So kind of a mixed residential area?

BS: Yes, yes.

AI: Well, and so then, then you started a family, too. And so when was your first child born?

BS: She was born in 1960. She was born on our fifth anniversary. [Laughs]

AI: Oh. Well, and what did you name her?

BS: Bekki, Bekki Jo. And we, we didn't give her a Japanese name. It was like, well, Art didn't care. But I, I feel I didn't want to give her a Japanese name because I didn't want her to be -- well, with "Shibayama" you know it's Japanese, but I didn't want her to be identified as Japanese or something because there was no... it was just a decision. I just made that decision that no Japanese name.

AI: So were you a little afraid or worried that if she had a Japanese name that would affect her life?

BS: Well, kind of, kind of. Because people nowadays say, "Well, why don't your children have Japanese names?" And I said, "I just didn't want to give it to them."

AI: And then you had another child.

BS: Uh-huh, two years later. And his name is Brian Arthur and he has no Japanese name.

AI: So after your kids were born, did you continue working outside the home or did you --

BS: Oh, no, after Bekki was born I didn't work. I stayed home. And then Art worked. And we had the apartment building.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: We're continuing our interview with Betty Morita Shibayama. And Betty, before our break, you had been talking about your kids, but I wanted to back up a little bit and ask you about this picture. If you could tell us about that, about when that was?

BS: This was in April of 1952, well, it was probably May because Art was drafted in April of... what did I say? '52? And he had to report to Fort Sheridan and so I went to visit him at Fort Sheridan and from there he was going to be sent to basic training in Arkansas.

AI: Well, so then, getting back to the 1960s when your son, your daughter and your son were little kids and then starting, going to school, I was wondering, you had mentioned how you really didn't want for them to have Japanese names. Were you concerned at all that they might face some prejudice in school, or did you have any sense that they, that they experienced any kind of discrimination?

BS: Well, I don't know, but when I think back to it, it was like, I think because of our camp experience, I just wanted to be removed from anything Japanese. And, of course, you think about it, with "Shibayama" you can't help but say it's a Japanese name so I shouldn't have had any, you know, any fear or doubts about that, but...

AI: And as they were growing up, did they ever say anything to you about any, that they had experienced any harassment for being Japanese American or experiencing anything like that?

BS: No, no.

AI: Well, that's fortunate. That's good to hear.

BS: Yes, yes.

AI: Another thing I was wondering about was also as they were growing up, what the race relations were like in Chicago at that time, in the 1960s.

BS: '60... I think the only thing were, you know, the discrimination against the blacks. And they used to, I don't know when it was, but one of the... it must have been in the '60s when they had the riots and I vaguely remember the... I think they had the convention, the national convention there when they had rioting. And then I don't know what sparked the rioting where, on the west side of Chicago. What was it? Martin Luther King? When was he... that was the...

AI: 1964.

BS: Or Malcolm X or Malcolm X was, I don't know when he was killed, so, but there was rioting on the west side of Chicago and that's where my sister Ruth and her husband had a laundromat on the west side, that was West Madison. And I think there was quite a bit of looting and rioting around there, too.

AI: So, and during this time, were you concerned at all that this might affect you or your kids?

BS: No, I really didn't.

AI: Well, because you were farther north, is that right?

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: In the north part of Chicago.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Tell me a little bit about your kids as they were growing up. Did you and Art ever talk to them about what had happened during World War II? Or being in camps, anything of that sort?

BS: No, I, we really didn't. And I think they would overhear our conversations with our, with our siblings, with my family, with my grandparents, with my parents, talking about camp and they probably overheard those conversations but they never asked us questions or anything about that.

AI: I'm wondering, too, if, if they ever asked anything about... had any questions about being Japanese American, that there were not that many Japanese American kids in their school, so --

BS: No, I guess, I guess they probably didn't even feel Japanese. I guess they just mixed in with everyone else.

AI: And I know I had, from talking to other folks, have heard similar comments that their kids didn't really grow up thinking of themselves as Japanese, or Japanese American too much. And, did you and Art have them join in any kind of Japanese American community activities or celebrations of any sort?

BS: No, except the church that they attended when they were kids, it was a, it was a Methodist church in Chicago and it was a Japanese congregation, but other activities, no, except family, family.

AI: Right. So a lot of that would really be family gatherings, family get-togethers.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, is there, is there anything else about your time in Chicago when the kids were young that you recall that you wanted to mention? Anything that stands out in your mind?

BS: No, I... no, not really.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Well, then at some point you and Art had discussed moving and leaving Chicago. And how did that come up? Why were you, why did you consider that?

BS: Well, because Art was a mechanic, auto mechanic, and, you know, the winters are terrible. And summers are terrible, hot and humid. And it was coming to the point where he worked for a dealer and the ventilation was not that good. In the wintertime it's cold so they close all the doors or they're supposed to be, they would put hoses to the exhaust and that, but it wasn't, there were still fumes. And so he would come home from work and he would have headaches, headaches that wouldn't go away with aspirins. And so we figured it's carbon monoxide poisoning. And so, and then the summers it'd be so hot and then he'd, they don't have air conditioning, and then you're working on hot engines. And this one place he was working, he was working right below a skylight. And so it was hot. And he said someone had put a thermometer, I don't know what it was, it was like hundred fifteen, hundred twenty or something. And we knew that he should get away from that. And then his, one of his sister's husband, Joe Nishimura, he had been born in Los Gatos, which is near San Jose. And he wanted to return to that area 'cause the weather was so nice and everything. So he moved in, around 1962. And then one of Art's other sisters, Susie and her, her husband worked for Lockheed -- he was being transferred to Lockheed in California, so they were moving. And so his brother-in-law, Joe, moved out to San Jose and got a Shell dealership, 'cause he also was a mechanic. So then he, and then another good friend of ours, five years later, who also worked with Art at the same dealership, he moved five years later. And he got a Shell dealership. And he kept calling Art and saying, "Oh, you gotta move out here," and that and so we were kind of hemming and hawing. And I don't know how many years it took us to finally decide to move, because we figured we had to move before the kids got too old, then it would be difficult for them to make the change. So they were still in grammar school. So we decided to make the move, although I really didn't want to in some ways because my family was in Chicago, plus I didn't know how to drive and I knew if I moved to California I'm gonna have to learn how to drive. And there were reports that California was gonna slide in the ocean from the earthquake and that was another, because we had a friend whose -- that I knew from the PTA -- whose brother lived in Southern California and I think he was a dentist or something. He had a thriving business. But because of the fear of earthquake and sliding into the ocean, he actually moved from Southern California to Michigan. And so, I said, "Oh, I'm afraid of the earthquakes plus having to drive." But for Art's health we felt that we should move so we made the move in '71.

AI: Oh, and then I think Art had mentioned to me that he also got his citizenship.

BS: Yes, just prior to moving. Well, when we, after, well Art had, you know, while he was denied citizenship even though he served in the army during the Korean War, although he was sent to Europe. And he was refused citizenship. But when he, they told him to come back to Chicago and go to the immigration and so after we were married in '55, in 1956 he had, from the Chicago immigration office, he was directed to go to Canada and report to the immigration there and then return. It's just like go across, same day, and come back. And then we'd have his papers signed so that would be his legal entry in 1956. And then they told, then he brought the papers back to Chicago Immigration office. And so Art said, "Can I have my citizenship now since I served in the army and I got legal, I have legal entry now?" And they said, "No, you have to wait five years and become naturalized on top of it." He would have to take the test. So at this point he was so... he said well, at least he got his permanent residency. So he would, he was putting it off but I told him, I would kind of nag him and say, "I think we should get it." And he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." But when we finally decided to move he thought he better get it so he did get it before we, we moved.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: And so then when you did make the move out to California, where did you, where did you first move to?

BS: San Jose.

AI: And once you got there, what did you think about it? How did you find it?

BS: Oh, the weather was really nice. It was very nice and we got our own house. And then he worked for, Art worked for our friend, Harry, at his Shell dealership. He worked there for about, maybe about a year and then he got his own station.

AI: And then I understand there's a fairly active Japanese American community in San Jose.

BS: Uh-huh, yes.

AI: So did you get connected with that community?

BS: Well, we, we joined the, it wasn't the San Jose chapter but the West Valley chapter which was, it wasn't in the downtown. The San Jose chapter was in downtown San Jose and ours was, well, the West Valley chapter. So, oh, the reason we joined that one was because our friend belonged to it. And they were having enrollment where we could get insurance right away. If we joined the, if we had joined the San Jose chapter, since we moved in October of 1971 we'd have to wait 'til June the following year to be enrolled in the insurance, group insurance. But if we joined the West Valley chapter we would have been effective December 'cause that's when the enrollment was. And fortunately we joined there... and it was fortunate because I had a mastectomy the following year and actually it was in June, June 15th of 1972 so I was fortunate that I had the insurance.

AI: Right, had the coverage.

BS: Yes.

AI: Oh, my goodness.

BS: So, so that's how... so we were connected to an organization there.

AI: Oh. So then, so you joined the JACL and then the kids, of course, were enrolled in school.

BS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: And then, let's see, about this time in the early 1970s was also the time when, I think, some of the early redress activities were starting up. And I'm always interested to ask people, when you first heard about this idea of trying to get redress for being in camp, what did you think about it?

BS: Oh, I thought that would, it was a... overwhelming kind of a task to get the redress. But we didn't really get that involved in it.

AI: I know --

BS: But we were glad that someone was doing some work on it.

AI: Well, because I had heard that some people in the early days were not sure it was such a good idea. That possibly it would be, could possibly cause a backlash against --

BS: That's right, but we didn't really get involved in it and, but we were glad to see that somebody was working on it.

AI: And so then, let's see, I think it was 1981 that there were the hearings, the redress commission hearings happened. And at that, so then at that time, of course, there was quite a bit more publicity about the fact that the Japanese Americans had been forced into the camps in World War II and things were much more public, public information. So, then at some point, did you then apply for your redress? How did that, how did that happen?

BS: Well, it was signed in, Reagan signed it in 1988. And this, the day it was signed, which was August 10, 1988, I was on the airplane going to Chicago to help take care of my dad because my sister, my oldest sister was going on vacation and so she wanted someone to be there for my parents. So I went to Chicago and my dad was so happy. He says, "Reagan finally did it." He says you know, he says, he says, his faith in the U.S. government was, he believed that justice would prevail, and he believed in the U.S. government and that. So he was, he was so happy. And the thing is, he died the following month, in September, the beginning of September. But he was alive when it was signed, so he did get... my mother got his redress.

AI: That's amazing that he had that faith in the United States government.

BS: Yes, he did.

AI: And it's wonderful that he lived to see that.

BS: Yes, that was, we were so happy that he was able to see it, to see it.

AI: That it was signed into law.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, what about you, when you finally received you letter and your check, what was your reaction?

BS: Well, I can't remember when I got mine. I think, I must have got mine like in '90, '90... I don't know when they started paying it. But --

AI: 1990 for the oldest.

BS: Okay, so then I must've gotten mine around '93. I was one of the younger ones '93, '93 or '94. But then I was glad to receive it but I felt that Art and his family deserved it. Because actually, they suffered more than we did. And I, and so he was still appealing and that. And so I was upset that he, he didn't get it.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: And as this was going on, I'm wondering what your kids thought. Did your son or daughter have any thoughts or comment on this whole redress situation and Art having been denied?

BS: Well, I don't even recall even really discussing it with our kids. And I don't recall.

AI: And at some point in this process, then, after Art and the other Japanese Peruvians had been denied redress, then I think it was 1996 that the Mochizuki case was brought and the campaign for justice for Latin Americans effort was going. And then Art began, he was speaking and giving interviews?

BS: Yes. Yes. And then, then our kids, it got their attention. Because Art is not the kind of person who likes to go out and speak. And he more or less had to, to represent the family and the Peruvians who, Peruvians who were denied and who were unable to tell their stories, so he was... and his was such an unusual case and that. So he started making speeches and going to colleges and...

AI: Was that surprising to you?

BS: Kind of. [Laughs] It was... I can't remember. I did start attending the, when he would go speak at community colleges and stuff. I was very surprised to see him tell his story but I was glad, I was very pleased that he was willing to do it.

AI: And when you were in the audience at times, what kinds of reactions did you see from other audience members, what...

BS: The surprise and shock and, there were people, a lot of people curious and... even Japanese Americans didn't know the story and they were just shocked.

AI: Well, also in, now, over these years I understand that the Japanese Peruvians got together from time to time and they started having some reunions. Did you attend some of those reunions?

BS: Oh, yes. Well, we attended the first one because it was supposed, 'cause it was held in San Jose and it was like, the Shibayamas, I guess, were supposed to organize it and that. And so I attended that one. And it was nice to meet all the Peruvians and... they're such a friendly, charming people, really. And I was just accepted. I just felt like one of them. They're very nice people.

AI: Wow, that must have been quite a gathering, the first time that they got together.

BS: I really don't remember what, the number of people that went. And then they had other reunions, too. And hopefully next year we'll be going to Okinawa for a reunion.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, now I know that, unfortunately, the Mochizuki case, it had been going on for a couple of years and the U.S. government had offered a settlement that was not, not equal to what other Japanese, the Japanese Americans had received in redress. And so Art and his brothers and some of the other members of the class decided not to accept the settlement. And did you and Art discuss this, or did you hear some of the thinking of the folks who decided to opt out?

BS: Well, Art and I discussed it because I felt it was an insult. Because the letter did not even mention Japanese or Japanese Peruvian, it really didn't explain. So it was like a letter that, an apology that could have been written to any group, any group of people. And I, I didn't think that was right because the apology I got, at least it mentioned Japanese Americans. And then, and then to, they offered five thousand dollars, it wasn't, it wasn't the money, it's just the principle of the thing. And I said, "You suffered, you Peruvians have suffered more than Japanese Americans because you were taken from a country that was not even at war." And here they were living their life and all of a sudden they're taken and brought to a foreign country. They didn't speak the language, they didn't know where they were going, and for what? And I said, "That was terrible." So I really supported him to opt out. Because that was one of the options, that you could accept it, and if you accepted it then you couldn't sue any further. But if you opted out, you were free to opt out and file your own individual suit against the government. So we, so I think there were, Art and his brothers and, I think seventeen in all that opted out.

AI: And then they did go ahead and sue the government again.

BS: Yes, yes. But it was, I think it was earlier this year. You know, they... it was dismissed.

AI: Right. And so then, I understand now, Art was saying that their lawyer has brought their case to the international arena.

BS: Yes. Because it was a war crime because they were, they took a group of people who were, the country was not at war and brought 'em into a war zone, to a country that was at war. So that would be considered a war crime.

AI: It's, it's hard to believe, I think, from a person who hasn't heard this history before.

BS: Uh-huh. Yes.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, I wanted to back up a little bit, because another thing that I understand that you and Art were involved in was one of the very early pilgrimages to Tule Lake.

BS: Oh, yes.

AI: And I wanted to ask you about that. Because you and your family had been in Tule Lake, and how this came about that you went to visit --

BS: Well, it was 1979, it was the 1979 pilgrimage and when I heard about it, well, our friend who was actually the younger brother of my brother-in-law, my oldest sister's husband, it was Harry Kaneko. He was in Tule Lake, too. So he was, and he lived in San Jose. And he was saying, "Hey, let's go." And then there was his friend that Aki Sasaki, he was in Tule Lake, also. So we were saying, "Oh, let's go." So, and I wanted to go 'cause I was just curious, hoping to see other people, maybe, who, friends from camp that I might see. And I just wanted to see the place again. Because in Tule Lake there was this mountain that was called Castle Rock. And that was like a landmark. And then there was another mountain that looked like an abalone so it was called Abalone Mountain. And so I said, "Okay, let's go." So we decided to go.

AI: And you took the bus, is that right, from San Jose?

BS: Yes, to Tule Lake. And there were several, there were several buses because there were, I think there was a bus from Placerville, and I guess maybe from Oakland. I can't remember how many buses. And then some people actually drove themselves there. But that was quite a group there.

AI: And so tell me about it, once you got there.

BS: Oh, well, it was, well, there's no barracks or anything, but, well, we did see a guard tower that was kind of laying on its side. And they still had the stockade, was concrete. And what else? Well, seeing Castle Rock really, the mountain Castle Rock just, I said, "Oh, we really were here." And it reminded me of the times that we were given special permission and allowed to hike up Castle Rock. But it was, but there wasn't any, I didn't see any foundation or any... well, you saw buildings which were barracks that I guess people bought for, residents of that area bought for ten dollars or something. And they were using it for maybe a warehouse or maybe even a residence or shed or... so you'd see a few buildings around there. But I was disappointed not to see very many Niseis. And it was more, I think the people who were sponsoring the group were mostly Sanseis and there were Isseis, there were Isseis there, too. But very few Nisei.

AI: So what was your main feeling that, as you were there in that same location, even though it looked so different?

BS: Glad I'm not living there anymore. [Laughs] And that it was something in the past.

AI: 'Cause at that point, that was, if that was 1979, that would have been a little over thirty years.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And you had never been back there since you had been in camp?

BS: No, that was the first time.

AI: And then have you gone to other, to Tule Lake again, other pilgrimages since that, that first time?

BS: No. Art's been, Art went after that and, because they had something special for the, they wanted Peruvians to speak, so Art spoke, spoke there. But I, was planning to go but I had fallen and broken my shoulder so I wasn't able. It was, it usually is around the Fourth of July weekend and I had just broken it a few days before that so I wasn't able to attend.

AI: Ouch. That sounds painful. Oh dear.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: Well then, let's see... another thing that I wanted to get to ask you about was in the 1980s. You and Art took that trip to Japan.

BS: Oh, yes.

AI: And you had mentioned going there. And was that 1984?

BS: '84, yes.

AI: And so tell me about that trip.

BS: Well, we, we went with a group that was, that we joined in Japan. So there were, there were about, I'm trying to think... one, maybe about five Nisei couples. All the rest were Caucasian. And they were from, some, there were a few from England, from Florida and L.A. and, but it was, it was mixed. And because, I think because we were mixed with Caucasians, we got better service than if it was a Nisei group, if it was an all-Nisei group. And, let's see... at that time, in Japan they were having, you know how they have serials, every day on TV, like they had the Oshin. Well, they were having, I think it was called Amerika Monogatari and it was telling about the camp. And so we became like celebrities, every time, we would visit our relatives or something, they'd introduce us to, like one of Art's cousins took us to a karaoke bar and then... well, Art's family, they sing, I don't sing, but they asked him to sing so he sang. And then they introduced him and they said, "He's a Nisei from America," and then everybody clapped and they were... we were like celebrities because they were watching this serial on TV.

AI: How interesting. What a coincidence.

BS: Yes.

AI: Did you, did you watch any of the serial?

BS: I think they showed it later on in the States, in the... we have Japanese program on the weekends and we saw some parts of it.

AI: Wow, my goodness. Well, so, as you were traveling around in Japan, I'm wondering what... how did you... did it seem familiar to you, some of the things that were Japanese that you had never, you had never been to Japan before. But did it seem like a familiar atmosphere or did it seem kind of foreign and... I'm just wondering how it struck you.

BS: Well, we went on a tour first, which was, the tour was the Ura Nihon tour which is on the Japan Sea side, which was a fairly new tour. And so, 'cause we wanted to see the old Japan, not the Tokyo, the big city and that. And so that was nice to see people working in the rice paddies and that. So we liked that. And then after, well, and seeing the different, going to Tokyo and going to, was it Fujisan and different places. And then after the tour we, the tour ended in Kyoto. And then I have a, my oldest sister's daughter is married to a Japanese and they live in Kyoto, outskirts of Kyoto. So we went to visit them. And then, then we visited relatives. And I had a cousin, my mother's oldest sister's daughter lived in Osaka. And we visited with them. And then we went to Okayama, which is where my mother... we stayed with another cousin on my mother's side. And there were my father's side relatives, too, in Okayama. And then later on we went to Fukuoka which is Art's cousin's side. But it was going there and seeing the things. Well, there was one, one man who, I think actually he was my age and he seemed to, every time the Morita relatives would go, he would take us to the graves, to the grave sites and to different, where the old home was and everything. So it, there were familiar areas that we had seen from pictures and my dad telling us about. And then we would see, like I would see my cousin and so, and then you would see the resemblance. One of my cousins looked just like my oldest sister Dorothy and then someone said that there was another cousin that I looked like. And you would see the family resemblances.

AI: That must have been so interesting.

BS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. It was just really neat.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: Well, let's see, then we're kind of coming up more to the present and we had just talked earlier about some of the redress work that Art had been involved in trying to get redress and also trying to educate the public.

BS: Yes.

AI: And I wanted to ask you just, show this and explain a little bit.

BS: Oh, this was, this was after the lawsuit was filed, the class-action Mochizuki lawsuit. And a group of us went to lobby, lobby at the congressional people. And so that was my first experience. Art had gone several times prior to that, but it was the first experience for me to, to go there and to... actually it was the first, I guess it was the second time we went to Washington, D.C. but it was quite an experience.

AI: Tell me about that. Some of your impressions when you went there to talk to some of the congresspeople.

BS: Well, we had little groups that we were assigned to go different places and there was mainly one person who would be a spokesperson. It would usually be a Peruvian, one of 'em would be a Peruvian. And I can't remember who I went with. I think I went with one of the attorneys, the group that I went with was with the attorney. So since there wasn't actually a Peruvian in our group, sometimes I spoke up and told Art's, Art's story. And then, and then Art's sister, Rosie, is in one of those pictures and she was, sister Fusa was eleven years old and so she must have been nine, I think, when she went to camp. And she, she gets very emotional and she said that she would go with the lobbying group but she didn't want to have to speak. Well, the group that she went with was the, Robin Toma was in that group. And he says, "No, you don't have to speak." Well, I forgot what, was it Moynihan's office that they went to? And I guess, well, Robin Toma was speaking and I guess they wanted Rosie. So Rosie had to tell about her experience and she just broke down crying. And it really moved them, really moved the senator. And so it was pretty good.

AI: So that was a difficult experience for her.

BS: Yes.

AI: But it had a positive impact on the...

BS: Yes, yes, uh-huh. We took, we had letters that we had people sign, individuals who had signed and that would be like an introduction to go to that senator or congressman's office.

AI: So as you were going around visiting in these offices, what kind of a sense did you have? Did you have a sense that they really were listening to you or that, that there was a chance that you could persuade them to support?

BS: Well, some people would just, just took it and they really didn't ask many questions or anything. But well, I figure, well, they heard our story and hopefully they would carry the ball from there.

AI: Well, I know that as you've been very active with Art and his side of the family and the Peruvians' Campaign for Justice, but you also have stayed in touch with your friends and colleagues from Chicago. And so I wanted to ask you about this picture.

BS: Oh, this is Chicago. We attended a Chicago, well we call it All Club's reunion because when we were teenagers going to high school and they'd, like I mentioned that they had the, men had the basketball teams and the girls had the clubs for dancing and socializing. And so they have a reunion about every year and a half. And usually it's in Las Vegas. And so this was, I forgot when I said it was, about 2000, did I say it was like, 2000? And these are some of the people who attended Wells High School, the high school we went to. And some of the members here are, was in the same club as I was. And so, at that, at that reunion I was able to get up and tell about Art's ongoing struggle and I was able to get letters, get the letters and have them, encourage then to sign them. And everybody was very supportive. So I had a batch of letters that were signed and we were able to send to Washington.

AI: That's great. That's great to hear.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

AI: Well, then of course, things have, had changed in the world, too. And just the year after that, 2001, we had the attacks of September 11th. And I'm wondering, when you heard that news, what did you think? What went through your mind?

BS: Well, in the beginning it was such a shock, but then when, after things kind of quieted down, you see, it was a certain group of people and they looked different and people were getting taken in and stuff. And it was like oh, it's like what we went through. And they looked different, and of course, I don't know if some were, most of 'em probably were innocent but they looked different and maybe they belonged to an organization or they were leaders, or, and they were taken in. And it was like, it's happening again. And it was good because Japanese American groups did speak out in support of the Muslims and Arab Americans.

AI: Did it bring back some bad memories for you?

BS: Well, it was... well, kind of thinking that, well they, well even, was it during the first Gulf War they were talking about having internment camps and things and I was saying, "Oh no, it's happening, it could happen again."

AI: That's very true. And it's... as time has passed, then there have been some changes made to the laws, the Patriot Act was passed.

BS: Yes.

AI: And now they're considering further legislation on civil rights.

BS: Uh-huh, that's why -- yeah, their rights are being violated. And 'cause it's still on the books that they can still do that and that has to be removed.

AI: Well, I'm wondering, as we, we're here in the current situation with these kinds of events going on, if you were going to give some thought or some message to younger generations of people, younger people now, what kind of message would you like to give them or thought you'd like to give them?

BS: Well, that they, if they see an injustice that they shouldn't stand by and let it happen. Speak out and be supportive of groups that, whose civil rights are being violated. And, 'cause... they need support. And having experienced this, gone through that, that we needed someone to speak out for us and encourage us and give us support. So don't be the "quiet American," and speak out for any injustice that they see. And oh, I wanted to mention that while we were in camp, the Quakers were very supportive. And I mean as a child, Christmas time they said, oh, there would be a Santa Claus at the mess hall. And we would, children would get gifts. And I understand that they were from the Quakers.

AI: So that was one group that did --

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: -- stand up and help. Is there anything else that you recall that you wanted to mention or any other comment that you wanted to make?

BS: No. That I'm proud of Art that he is willing to go out and speak and he's not the type who is a public speaker but he has to speak out for his grandparents, all those who suffered being pulled from their country and being interned and some being sent, sent to Japan. And he, and they're gone. His, his father and his grandparents and friends. He has to speak out. And I'm glad that he is.

AI: Well, you've shared so much with us and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

BS: Thank you.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.