Densho Digital Archive
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Title: Elaine Ishikawa Hayes Interview II
Narrator: Elaine Ishikawa Hayes
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 18, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-helaine-02-0001

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AI: So, today is May 18, 2004, and we're continuing with another interview session with Elaine Ishikawa Hayes. And Elaine, as we were just chatting earlier, you said that you had an incident to, to relate about when going back in time to Tule Lake camp in 1943, was it?

EH: (Yes)... I think that's right, '43.

AI: When your mother was leaving camp and, and about your mother and what happened when she decided that she was ready to leave Tule Lake.

EH: Uh-huh. My mother did not want to go into another camp. She was supposed to go to Amache in Colorado because high elevation was supposed to be good for people with TB connections or affiliations, and because my father was in a TB sanitarium, they assigned her to Amache, and she just wasn't going to go through with that, again, that process. So, at this point she's ready to drive out of Tule Lake because she is ab-, was able to get a job at the Winnebago missionary boarding school. And as she, you know, she, she must have had to work horrendously fast to pack everything they had into the Oldsmobile. And as she drove to the gate, here were a mass of people determined to stop her because they envisioned all kinds of dast-, dangerous situations that they might encounter. And a lot of them were our friends, the Inais, who, whose building -- you know, we were renting an upper flat from them -- were among them. And they literally tried to push the car back, and my mother just gingerly kept honking the horn and inching forward and, and then they realized that there was no way they could stop the car because my mother had the, the ability to keep going. And it was just -- my sisters say that was just an indelible memory. All these frantic people pleading with my mother to not do this.

AI: So, it sounds like these people were just convinced that it was going to be very dangerous, that, as Japanese Americans, and Japanese-appearing people --

EH: Well, especially someone like my mother with young children. Now, John Yoshimura was in the car, 'cause he was going to University of Minnesota. But still, you know, they were saying, "You're (going to) be raped, you're (going to) be attacked, the kids are (going to) suffer." But once she gets a notion... and, you know, maybe she had confidence in... because there were missionaries, for instance, one of the things that happened in the relocation process was the government, the U.S. government made all the, the missionaries, for instance, or people, Americans who were in, in dangerous situation -- dangerous areas or... come back because the whole world was in a, going to be in a war situation. So, missionaries were a major part, not the major part, but a good significant part of the teaching staff, were missionaries who were coming back from all over -- so my mother had some connections. There was a Mrs. Topping, who -- Miss Topping -- who apparently was, Toyohiko Kagawa was secretary or something. She was an American person. And, she knew Tohoku, the north country which, where my mother came from. So they were good friends. And there were people like that, you know, in camp. I had developed a good friendship with Harriet van Buskerg, who was a missionary in Turkey, and she was in Tule Lake teaching English. There was an, there was an English -- an American couple by the name of English. He was a Chronicle -- San Francisco Chronicle -- reporter. And she came from Issaquah, Washington. And I don't know what, she may have been a teacher, but they both came into camp to teach. And there were a lot of good people like that.

AI: Excuse me, it's, seems that most of the folks that you've mentioned and also that from what I've heard and read from other people, that many of the teachers in the camps, and people who worked in the administration in the camps were white Americans, European Americans. And I was wondering, at Tule Lake, were there other Americans of other ethnicities and races? Were there any, do you recall any blacks or Latinos?

EH: Oh, no, I think in prewar days, I think the country was not willing, or ready to hire blacks particularly in administrative kind of positions, as with Niseis that weren't able to get white-collar jobs, I think blacks were maybe even more handicapped. Certainly no Chicanos.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.