Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: And then, as you were, say a senior in high school, I guess that would've been 1939 to '40, of course the war in Europe was going on.

AO: Yes.

AI: And the war in Asia. I was wondering, as a high-schooler, did you, were you very aware, much aware of the war, or had any thought that the U.S. might get into World War II at some point?

AO: No, I didn't. I was very much surprised... all the times I was growing up and in high school, I had no, no prejudice feeling towards me, and all my friends were mainly Caucasians. And then when we moved to Glendale, then I worked part-time at a fruit stand in Glendale. Then on Sunday, September -- December 7th, one, one man came up to me and says, "You know we're at war with Japan?" And I was very much surprised. He says, and he says, "We're at war with Japan, bang, bang." [Laughs] So I still didn't apprehend that we were, that Japan was at war with the United States. And then when I went home, then the radio, it was announced that U.S. was at war with Japan.

AI: What was your reaction when you heard that on the radio?

AO: It's just that, I didn't know what to do. I was devastated. And so all I could do was to, any instructions from the government, that's about all I had to wait for. And at that time we were living at 711 South Glendale Avenue in Glendale. And that's the main boulevard. And so we just waited for instructions, and the borderline was Glendale Avenue. On the east side I couldn't cross. There was a little momma/papa store across the street and we couldn't cross to that, to go to the store. And then my father was working, still had a gardening route in Whittier so had to go to Los Angeles at the attorney general's office and get a permit to go beyond the ten-mile radius. And so we would have that permit to do some work in Whittier and also he had some gardening routes in Glendale.

AI: Well, let me ask you, even before December 7th, do you think your parents had any idea that war between the U.S. and Japan might be coming? Maybe they read Japanese newspapers or heard through Japanese radio that diplomatic relations were getting worse. Do you think they had any idea that this might happen?

AO: I don't think they realized it because they made no preparation because of that incident. And I had no indication that there'd be a war.

AI: Although, let me ask you, I think, let's see... so before you graduated from high school you turned eighteen. Did you have to register for a selective service draft?

AO: Not at that time. And all I remember is that soon as, soon after Pearl Harbor attack, we had to register our cameras and any firearms that we had. And we had to discontinue our shortwave radio. And I don't think they confiscated our knives yet, but when we went into camp they took away all of our knives if you had 'em.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.