Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Betty Fumiye Ito Interview
Narrator: Betty Fumiye Ito
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 5, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ibetty-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is April 5, 2006, and we're at the Densho studios. And on camera we have Dana Hoshide, and I'm Tom Ikeda, the interviewer. And today we have Betty Ito. And so, Betty, I'm just going to start from the beginning. So can you tell me where and when you were born?

BI: I was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1918.

TI: Okay, and what was the name given to you at birth?

BI: Fumiye.

TI: And so it's Fumiye...

BI: Sakaguchi.

TI: Sakaguchi.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: And then can you tell me what your father's name was?

BI: Yotaro.

TI: And where in Japan did he come from?

BI: Kumamoto.

TI: Okay. And can you tell me, sort of, when he came to the United States and why he came?

BI: Well, I think he came in the late 1800s, and I'm sure he came thinking he'd make a fortune and go back to Japan and live comfortably, but it didn't work out that way. [Laughs]

TI: So do you know what kind of work he did when he came to the United States?

BI: I think he first worked on the railroad, and then after that, he was in Seattle, and he worked for the Seattle Bakery for a while. And I think Mother and he had a boarding house, and at one time, they had a little restaurant.

TI: And these were all in Seattle?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And a restaurant. So you mentioned your, your mother. So how did your father and mother meet?

BI: I'm not sure, but I think it was a picture marriage. Probably the family knew each other in Japan, and arranged the marriage. That's my understanding.

TI: So your sense is that they probably didn't see each other for the first time until they met in the United States, and they were already sort of arranged to be married.

BI: I think that's the way it was, uh-huh.

TI: Okay, so what was your, your mother's name?

BI: Chima.

TI: And so...

BI: Last name was Murata.

TI: Murata?

BI: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Okay, so they're in Seattle, your dad worked at the Seattle Bakery for a time, then they had a boarding house and then a restaurant. Let's talk about the children, because they had quite a few children.

BI: Yes. [Laughs]

TI: So why don't you tell me sort of the children, going from oldest to youngest, the children that they had.

BI: Well, they, first was twin girls, and then about three years later they had a son.

TI: Well, so let's go back to the twin girls, so what were their names?

BI: Hatsumi and Hatsuyo.

TI: Okay. And then after the twin girls, was next...

BI: Was Takeshi.

TI: Okay, so that was the first son. And then after Takeshi was...

BI: I think there was a Haruko.

TI: You said you think there's a Haruko, because...

BI: Yes, because she died in, during the epidemic, flu epidemic. She was about two years old when she passed away.

TI: And what year was that, the flu epidemic? It was 1918?

BI: Somewhere around there, uh-huh.

TI: I remember because, just because of all the information about the pandemic and the flus, I've read about that, so that was around then.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: Okay, so Haruko died of the flu, and then after Haruko was...

BI: Hirotaka.

TI: Hirotaka, so that's another son.

BI: Son, uh-huh.

TI: And then after Hirotaka is...

BI: That was me.

TI: Okay, Fumiye, and then after you was...

BI: Sam, Sadayoshi.

TI: Sadayoshi?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. And then after Sadayoshi is...

BI: Is Amy.

TI: And did she have a Japanese name?

BI: That's her name, Amy.

TI: So how would that be, how would you spell --

BI: Oh, we spelled it A-M-Y.

TI: Okay. So two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, eight children, and one died when she was...

BI: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: I'm just curious, was it common for there to be twins? I don't hear too many about twins.

BI: They're unusual, very unusual.

TI: So did the, your older sisters sort of stand out because they were twins? Do you recall attention being placed on them because they were twins?

BI: I think so, uh-huh. Yes.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So after you were born, let's talk about where you sort of grew up. And so where, where did you grow up as a child?

BI: Well, my first memory is our first farm in Medina. I think I must have been about four years old.

TI: And what was, what were those first memories when you were about four, of Medina?

BI: [Laughs] The memory I have of that place was I got a terrible stomachache from eating tomatoes off the patch, and I don't know what happened, but I really got sick. And I remember having to go to the bathroom outside, my mother had to take me. And the another incident was the horse --

TI: Well, before we move on, so when you say "bathroom outside," a lot of people who will see this are schoolchildren today. And so when you say "bathroom outside," what does that mean?

BI: Outdoor toilet, I guess.

TI: So it's like an outhouse.

BI: Yeah, outhouse.

TI: It's like a hole that's dug in the ground.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: Covered by a wood enclosure.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: And then you mentioned, I just wanted to clarify, so Medina is a, is sort of, if you live in Seattle, it's across the lake, Lake Washington.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: And currently, if you go to Medina, you have a lot of expensive homes by the water.

BI: No, it was just open field, and it was a, we had a small farm.

TI: Okay, so you were talking about, okay, so one childhood memory was that stomachache, going to the outhouse, and then you were continuing with that, some other memories?

BI: Well, I remember going to school with my sisters. I don't remember being in a classroom, I remember going to school, so it might have been kindergarten or preschool. I don't know if they had preschool at that time, but I remember going to school.

TI: And do you remember how you were feeling when you went to school? Was it exciting?

BI: No, I don't remember.

TI: And when you say your sisters, so you're talking about your, your twin older sisters?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And they -- I'm trying to do the math here -- they were about, they were quite a bit older, they're about how much older than you?

BI: You know, I think they must be... when they were married they were about eighteen or nineteen and I was about five or six.

TI: Okay, so about twelve years older than you, roughly. Okay, so they're, they're quite a bit older, so you really looked up to them.

BI: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

TI: Okay. And then, so that was a early memory, going to school, and you're in Medina. So then what happened? Did you stay in Medina?

BI: We stayed at that farm for not more than a couple years, then we moved to another place in Medina and stayed there for a couple years, and then we moved to Bellevue.

TI: Now, do you recall where, where in Bellevue you moved?

BI: (Narr. note: The first house we lived in caught on fire during the first year. It was an old two-story frame house with a pot-belly stove in the living room. It had 1 bedroom downstairs and 2 upstairs. I was taking care of Sam and, I think, Amy, and I kept stuffing papers in it to keep warm. I was about 8, and Sam was about 5 and Amy about 2. It was daytime, so we were playing, banging on the piano and raising Cain. Burning paper landed on the roof, and farmers quite a distance away saw the house on fire. They ran to warn us and put the fire out. We then built a new house somewhere else in Bellevue; it had 4 bedrooms and a furnace.) Well, let's see. We were, right now, our farm is the telephone company, and they weren't sure, but they thought the City Hall might have been, was going to go up, or is there, I'm not sure. But we had ten acres there, and then my brother sold it (in the late 1950s).

TI: So, but it sounds like your, your Bellevue farm, those ten acres, were really in the heart of downtown Bellevue.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: You talked about City Hall, the phone company.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: So it's, again, sort of prime real estate that you had.

BI: Right, uh-huh. Right.

TI: And so this was a, ten acres, so this was a larger farm. And do you recall the type of crops that you had on your farm?

BI: Well, I think we were known for our strawberries, but we also grew tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, cauliflower. Later on they grew a little celery, but it wasn't very much celery. Mostly, mostly strawberries and peas and beans. (Narr. note: When Queen Mary visited Seattle in 1939, they chose our farm's strawberries for the banquet.)

TI: And who were the customers for your, your products? Where did you sell your...

BI: Well, my brother used to take it to the commission house in Seattle, and that's how we sold our produce.

TI: And so which brother was this, Takeshi?

BI: Uh-huh, the eldest one, uh-huh.

TI: So he would bring 'em over to Seattle to be sold. Okay.

BI: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, you mentioned you were known for your strawberries, and I've read that there used to be a large strawberry festival in Bellevue?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: Do you, do you remember that?

BI: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

TI: And so tell me, what was that like?

BI: Well, it was... let's see. I was in the Court, Queen's Court one year, and I can't remember too much about it, but I remember going to, we were going to the Seattle baseball stadium as the Bellevue Queen's Court. [Laughs]

TI: So when you're Bellevue's Queen's Court, is this, is it mixed? I mean, there's Japanese, Caucasians, or is it all Japanese?

BI: No, no, it was from, there was, we were selected from high school, and so it was both Japanese and Caucasian.

TI: Okay, and so was it, was it normal, or, yeah, was it normal to have a Japanese American on the Queen's Court?

BI: I think I probably was the first one.

TI: And how, by what criteria did they use to, to choose people for the Queen's Court?

BI: You know, I don't remember.

TI: Boy, that must have been sort of an exciting time for you then, to be on the Queen's Court.

BI: Well, it was different. [Laughs]

TI: Now, how did people in the community feel about you being on the Queen's Court?

BI: I have no idea. [Laughs]

TI: So do you recall any of the, like the Issei saying anything to you when they saw you? Because you would have to wear like a, would you wear like a little tiara and things like that?

BI: No, I don't remember. I didn't wear that, I'm sure. The queen did, but I didn't.

TI: Do you recall your, your parents saying anything about you being on the Queen's Court? Your mother, your father?

BI: Not really.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Well, let's talk about your, first your father. What was your father like?

BI: Well, he was a rather quiet man with a little temper. [Laughs]

TI: So how would you know he had a temper? What would he do that would indicate that he had a temper?

BI: Well, when we first moved out to Bellevue, the community used to help each other on the farm. And we had a group of the community members come out to help plant, probably strawberries, I'm not sure, but they were all working out in the field. And since Dad was, knew how to cook, he would come home and make lunch. So he was cooking a lunch and my neighbors, who were Caucasians, came down around lunchtime and we were playing. And Dad said it was time to set the table. So I said okay, but my friends were there and I didn't go in to set the table. And he called again and I didn't go in soon enough, and he got very angry. And he came out with a poker -- [laughs] -- and chased me across the ten acres. That I will never forget.

TI: So he chased you in front of all the community members, too, who were working in the field?

BI: Yes, looking all, looking at me. [Laughs]

TI: That must have been a sight. [Laughs]

BI: That I won't forget.

TI: So were there, were there other cases where he would show his temper, or was that just kind of an unusual sort of --

BI: That was unusual. I'm sure he was under a lot of pressure, and other than that, I don't remember him getting very angry. (Narr. note: Dad was sentimental and always remembered my birthday. When I would come downstairs, he would say, "Today is Fumiye's birthday." And he would always roast a chicken for dinner and bake a birthday cake for me. He always wanted me to look nice. Once when I was wearing my brother Taki's clothes, he asked me, "Don't you have anything better to wear?")

TI: But in telling that story, that was interesting. So when, was it pretty common, when someone, like, bought a new farm, like in this case you had ten new acres, that the other Japanese Americans in the community would come out and help that, that family get started?

BI: Yes, uh-huh. Yes, uh-huh. Yes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So let's talk about the Japanese American community. How, about how large was it during this time, do you remember?

BI: Well, I think at one time there were about... I'm not sure, but say three hundred. And then they built a Japanese clubhouse, and so we had a lot of activities at the community house. Then we had a baseball team, basketball team, we had Japanese school there, they had ikebana courses, I think they even had tea ceremony, but I, I didn't participate in that, but I did take some flower arrangement classes.

TI: So it was, it was a very active Japanese community in Bellevue?

BI: Yes, yes, uh-huh.

TI: For it to be so active, who, who sort of, who was the leadership that made this all sort of happen?

BI: I remember there was a gentleman named Tsushima, and Yamagiwa, Aramaki, those three stand out in my mind.

TI: And these were Issei men?

BI: Isseis, uh-huh. And they were very concerned about the second generation, and I think they were the ones that got us interested in dance, so we had ballroom dancing, we used to get together for dance practice.

TI: And so this, this Japanese club, you have dances, was it just for the, the second generation, the Nisei?

BI: Right.

TI: Or did they ever have other, other races or anything come into...

BI: No, it was mostly just for the Niseis.

TI: So you, you mentioned earlier how when you were in the Queen's Court, you came to Seattle. And so Bellevue is, again, across the lake, and back then, the only way you could sort of come to Seattle was by ferry.

BI: Ferry, right.

TI: So how frequently did you come to Seattle?

BI: Well, I went there quite often, to the dances, and we had friends in Seattle. And my sisters were living in Seattle at one time, so I used to go visit them.

TI: So when you would come to Seattle, just describe how, what it would take to, to go to Seattle, that journey.

BI: Well, of course, we had to get to the ferry dock, and I think someone drove us to the dock. I don't think there was a bus. And the ferry was, it wasn't very long, maybe fifteen minutes, I'm not sure. And then we landed at Yesler Park, and then we took the streetcar up Yesler Way, and I remember going shopping with my mother in Seattle.

TI: Do you remember any of the stores that you would shop at, the type of stores?

BI: No, I can't remember the names, but I used to, going from one store to another. Poor Mom was tired, but she was very patient. And she took, she took a lot of interest in how we appeared, since she was a seamstress in Seattle. She enjoyed sewing, so she made me, many clothes for me, sometimes tearing apart my sisters' coats and things and then making me something out of it. So I always felt very well-dressed.

TI: When you were sort of dragging your mother from store to store, do you recall what kind of things you were looking to buy?

BI: Usually clothes.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So, let's go back to Bellevue, and you talked a little bit about when you first started school in kindergarten, but you went to school, all the way through Bellevue. So let's, let's go to, let's go to high school. What was going to high school like? About how many students were in your class, and how many were Japanese? Just describe your student body.

BI: I think high school at that time, enrollment might have been about three hundred. And maybe there were four or five Japanese in each class.

TI: And how would you say the Japanese were sort of accepted by the student body, the rest of the students?

BI: Well, I didn't feel any different. I was very comfortable with them.

TI: Now, I'm guessing -- this is, I'm just guessing, but you mentioned earlier that you were on the Queen's Court. And so I'm guessing that you were very popular in high school, and perhaps boys would want to date you, things like that. Was that how high school was like for you?

BI: Well, yes, of course, in those days, our parents didn't want us to marry Caucasians, and they didn't want me dating Caucasians, so I didn't date anyone. I was invited by a young student to attend the junior prom, and my mother shook her head, so I didn't go.

TI: Now, how did you feel about that? Did you, 'cause these were your friends, and when your mother said not to date sort of non-Japanese Americans, how did that make you feel?

BI: It didn't bother me, because there were other Japanese young people. Since we had that Japanese club, we used to call Seinenkai, and so dating was not a problem. I had, I had a lot more fun in my youth than my daughters did.

TI: Well, we'll get to that later, but... so you had lots of fun. So let's go, so your mother was the one who said not to date non-Japanese Americans. Earlier you talked a little bit about your father, about him being a little quiet and maybe a temper every once in a while. Tell me a little bit about your mother. What was she like?

BI: I remember Mother as being very, very conscious of raising me to be a good Japanese girl. [Laughs] I was always not to do things to bring shame to the family, or, "Don't, don't do that, people will laugh at you." I worked alongside of her, with her on the farm, so we had a lot of time to talk to each other. And she was always trying to teach me what was right and what was wrong. The Buddhist minister used to come out about once a month to lecture at the community hall, and then Mother would explain to me what he said. She was always trying to lecture me on, on being morally right.

TI: So would you say the two of you were pretty close? It sounds like you guys communicated with each other quite a bit.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: Now, when you talked with each other, was it in English or Japanese?

BI: No, Japanese.

TI: So you, your Japanese was good enough so that you could understand and converse in Japanese?

BI: Yes, oh, yes.

TI: And the same with your father, it was all in Japanese?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And then amongst your siblings, your sisters and brothers, was it Japanese or English?

BI: English.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Is there anything else about high school that kind of stands out in your mind, what it was like?

BI: Well, not really.

TI: Now, I just wanted to ask, by having older brothers and sisters who went through school before you, did that, did people know you as sort of the younger sister of, of your brothers and sisters, or were you far enough apart that people didn't really talk about, like teachers?

BI: No, because my sisters didn't go to school in Bellevue. They were, they were already married when I was going to high school. And my oldest brother, he didn't finish high school. He had to help out on the farm, so my, Taki, or Hirotaka, was in school at the same time. And he was a good football player, and so I guess maybe they knew I was his sister, so it was nice to know that my brother was on the football team.

TI: So when you said he was a good football player, why don't you, can you tell me kind of what that means, when you said "good football player"?

BI: Well, at one time, I think he was named the best quarterback for the league. And he used to say that his co-players were such chickens. [Laughs] He was very respected for his skills in playing football.

TI: So, so your brother, your older brother, was the, was the all-league quarterback on the football team, and you were on the Queen's Court. So the two of you were pretty popular kids in high school.

BI: Well, if you, at that time I didn't think about it that way, but I felt very comfortable in high school, uh-huh.

TI: Now, besides being on the Queen's Court and your brother being on the football team, how were the two of you as students?

BI: Well, I wasn't a very good student. I don't know about my brother, but certain subjects I did, I was interested in, but I certainly wasn't what you'd call a scholar. [Laughs]

TI: And what did your brother do after he graduated from high school?

BI: He worked on the farm, and he didn't go on to college. In those days, the farmers needed the help from the kids, so he helped out on the farm and then got married.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Okay, and for you, after you graduated from high school, what did you do?

BI: Well, I think the first year after I graduated, I went to work as a housemaid in Seattle.

TI: So describe that. Housemaid for who and what was that like?

BI: I worked for a family, Nat Drucksman, he was a boxing promoter of Seattle at that time. And he lived on Montlake Avenue. Right across the canal was the University of Washington, and I used to enjoy watching the... what do you call those, those long boats?

TI: Oh, the crew, the crew racing?

BI: Yeah, crew racing, I used to watch them. And they had four sons, and they were all very, very good to me. And I enjoyed the work, but when the summer came, I had to go back on the farm to help. (Narr. note: Mr. Drucksman wanted to adopt me, and Mrs. Drucksman went to our farm in Bellevue to buy strawberries.)

TI: So when you're in Seattle, did you spend more time with the Japanese Seattle community while you were here, to get to know them, like go to more dances, things like that?

BI: When I was working in Seattle?

TI: Yeah, working in Seattle.

BI: No, I think that's when I met Ken.

TI: So when you were working as a housemaid at the Drucksmans', that's when you, you met Ken.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: So let's talk about that. So tell me, who was Ken, when you say, "Ken"?

BI: My (...) husband.

TI: So how did you meet, how did you meet Ken?

BI: Well, I think it was at a ballroom dance, and a friend of mine introduced me to him. And started from there, he asked me for a date and called me to see if I still wanted to go out with him. [Laughs]

TI: So when you first met Ken, what was he doing? What was... was he working, was he a student?

BI: You know, I knew he was a lawyer, but at that time he was making speeches, public speaking. And I remember he came out to Bellevue and gave a talk.

TI: So when you say public speaking, what topics would he talk about, and what would he, yeah, what would he talk about?

BI: Usually it was about the war between Japan and China, war in Manchuria, I guess it was at that time.

TI: And do you recall if, who sponsored these, these talks, when he would do that?

BI: Yes, they were by the Lion's Club, Chamber of Commerce, some of the service clubs.

TI: And how would you describe him as a speaker? What kind of speaker was he, a public speaker?

BI: Well, I thought he was good. [Laughs]

TI: And so did you, so you kind of knew who he was before you started dating him, because he would speak at these functions?

BI: Just vaguely I remember, uh-huh.

TI: So what was it about Ken that sort of made you say "yes" to go on a date with him?

BI: I think it was because he reminded me of my brother-in-laws, my older sisters' husbands. 'Cause they were, I was very young at the time, and they married my sisters, I think at the time they were both going to the university, and they treated me like a little queen. [Laughs] And so I, I think it was the age. I had been dating other boys in my community, but I always felt like they were like a brother to me. But I always felt Ken was like my brother-in-law.

TI: So Ken was already a lawyer, so he was older than you.

BI: Yes, uh-huh, yes.

TI: About how much older was he than you?

BI: I think about nine years older.

TI: Okay, so Ken was already a lawyer, about nine years older, and so tell me about how the dating went. I mean, when you first started dating, after you graduated from high school you were a housemaid, so did you guys, what would be a typical date for the two of you?

BI: Usually it was going out to eat and to a show. We saw a lot of shows, and then dances, we'd go to dances.

TI: And then how long did this go on?

BI: I think we dated for about two years before we got married.

TI: So two years, you got married, so what year did you get married?

BI: I think it was, (it was December 1939).

TI: Can you, can you describe to me what the wedding was like?

BI: Well, I didn't want a fancy wedding. Everybody was having big weddings, you know, with a lot of attendants in gowns and whatnots, but I didn't want that kind of wedding. And so I got married at home with just relatives and one bridesmaid. And then we had a reception in Seattle and invited friends, I think probably about 150, 200 people.

TI: And do you remember where you had your reception?

BI: I think it was Kinka Low, I'm not sure. Chinese restaurant.

TI: And what would a wedding reception be like with 150 friends? What would you, is it like everyone sits down and eats?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And then dancing afterwards?

BI: No, no, there was no dancing, just reception.

TI: Now, was there a program, were there little speeches or anything like that?

BI: You know, I don't even remember that. I don't even remember that. I must have been awfully nervous. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] That's exciting.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So 1939, at the time you married Ken, what kind of law practice did he have?

BI: I think it was just mostly business, helping the Isseis with their business problems.

TI: So most of his clients were from the, the Japanese or Japanese American community?

BI: Oh, yes, uh-huh. Yes.

TI: And so after your, I mean, what role did you play? Did you help him out with his practice, or what was, what was your relationship in terms of work like?

BI: Well, I used to act as a receptionist for him for a few months before we got married. And I would have to speak Japanese. My Japanese wasn't very good, but I learned to speak Japanese working for him and having to speak to his clients. As a matter of fact, I was once asked by someone, "Were you born in Japan?" And I thought, oh, no. They said that they thought I spoke very good Japanese, but I can't speak it now. (Narr. note: I continued working for Ken after we were married -- until I was about 7 months' pregnant.)

TI: That's interesting. So -- and I'm curious, so Ken was a lawyer, most of his clients were, were Japanese. Were there very many other lawyers like that in the community that focused on the Japanese community?

BI: Yes, there was (Thomas Shinao) Masuda and Bill Mimbu. I think they were the only three that I know of.

TI: And then were there other lawyers who focused more, like, on the Japanese American community, or is it -- I'm trying to think, there's, so like your husband and Matsui and Mimbu focused more or helped more the Japanese or the Issei?

BI: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

TI: Were there... I'm just wondering if there were other Niseis who were lawyers who were more English-speaking?

BI: No, no, at that time, I think they were about the only ones in L.A.

TI: Or in Seattle, you mean?

BI: I mean in Seattle, uh-huh.

TI: So how prominent were these lawyers? Were they pretty important people in the community, because they, they had the training, the education to help?

BI: I think so, uh-huh. Since the Isseis couldn't speak English, Mr. Masuda and my husband spoke Japanese, so I'm sure they were very helpful in that way.

TI: Right. And Mr. Masuda was the other lawyer. I think I said Matsui earlier. Okay.

BI: Let's see. Bill, did I say "Matsui"?

TI: I think you might have said Masuda, and I said Matsui.

BI: I think it's Bill Mimbu.

TI: Oh, yeah, Bill Mimbu?

BI: Yeah, Bill Mimbu, uh-huh. And Masuda.

TI: And Masuda, right. So after you were married, where did you live?

BI: Well, we lived in South Park in a little farm house.

TI: Okay, so South Park is I guess south of downtown, again kind of more of a farming...

BI: Yes, uh-huh, it was a farming, more of a farming area, very close to the Boeing airfield.

TI: And so why, why did you choose South Park?

BI: Well, I think he was living there when we were dating, and I don't know if his father lived there at one time or not. But probably the father lived there also at one time, but the father was living in Seattle when we got married.

TI: Okay. So when, just a little bit about South Park, were there very many Japanese who lived in South Park?

BI: Yes. There was a regular Japanese community there, farmers.

TI: Kind of similar to Bellevue?

BI: Yes, uh-huh. I don't think they had their own clubhouse, but there was a community there.

TI: So here's just a question. When you look at the communities in Bellevue, the Japanese community in Bellevue, the Japanese community in sort of Nihonmachi, Seattle, and then the Japanese community in a place like South Park, how would you compare them? I mean, how were they alike, or were they different?

BI: I didn't know too much about activities in South Park. Our, I think there was a community in Kent, Auburn, in that section, too. But as far as I know, I think Bellevue was the only one that had our own community hall.

TI: So do you think Bellevue was, because of things like that, a more cohesive or tighter, a tight-knit community than some of these other ones?

BI: I, I think we had a lot more activities than Bellevue, organized activities.

TI: Okay. So, okay, so I'm thinking, so you're living with your husband in South Park, and you also, your parents are living in Bellevue and Ken's practice in Seattle. So I just wanted to get that clear in my mind. So I'm going to... well, let me ask you this: I mean, your first child, when did you have your first child?

BI: Let's see. We were married in '39, and she was born in '41, February of '41.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so February of 1941. So, so you were a young mother in 1941 with a daughter. So at this point, I want to jump to December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Describe to me sort of where you were when you first heard about the bombing at Pearl Harbor.

BI: Well, I was at my mother's home the day before. My husband took a friend from Alaska who was an acquaintance of my mother's sister, and he came to Seattle and my husband took him out to Bellevue. So we had dinner there, and I had the baby, I had Ayleen, and he said, "Well, why don't you stay here and I'll come after you in the morning?" or the next day, which was Sunday. So that's what I did, and he took the friend back to Seattle. And waited for him to come back the next day, he didn't come 'til towards the evening. In the meantime, my two brothers had gone fishing and they came back very early. And we wondered, "Oh, my goodness, they're home already," and they came running into the house, says, "War, war. Pearl Harbor was bombed," and that was the first time we heard. My parents and my sister-in-law and I were home, and we hadn't turned the radio on, so we didn't know what had happened until they came home. So, "Where's, where's Pearl Harbor?" [Laughs] We were shocked to hear.

TI: Do you recall any comments or discussions you had with your mother or father, after this had happened?

BI: No, I think we were all just in a state of shock, and didn't know what was going to happen.

TI: And so as you heard this, so you're with pretty much your, your family, and your husband and his friend were off sort of touring or visiting different places, so there's no way for you to get in touch with him at this point.

BI: No, uh-huh.

TI: So you're just waiting for him to come back.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And so what did you do during the day while you were waiting?

BI: Oh, I think we were just visiting and cooking dinner.

TI: Were you, were you worried at all about your, the safety for your husband while he was out there, or anything like that?

BI: No, because I didn't know the war had broken out.

TI: Oh, but after you found out, though, after you found out --

BI: Oh, yes, after we found out, "Where's Ken?" Yes, we were wondering, where in the world is he?

TI: But eventually he did, he made it back to the farm.

BI: Bellevue, uh-huh.

TI: In Bellevue.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And do you recall what his, his thoughts were about the war?

BI: Well, he didn't have much to say, but he was really kind of in a state of shock. After dinner, we left early to go home, and we thought, "Well, let's go by Welly's house and see if he's home."

TI: I'm sorry, you went to whose house?

BI: Welly, Welly Okamura. (Narr. note: We just wanted to visit with Welly. "Welly" was Shoji Okamaru, an American-born 1939 graduate of the University of Washington, who was then the Chancellor of the Japanese Consulate in Seattle.)

TI: And who was that? Who's Welly?

BI: He was our, he was Ken's best man at our wedding and a close friend, and he used to work for the Japanese consulate. So we used to socialize together, so I said, "Well, let's go see if Welly's home." Looked at his apartment window, it was dark, so we went home. And went, I think, yeah, we went to bed. Then the telephone rang, and wanted Ken to come to the office.

TI: I'm sorry, so who called that night?

BI: The FBI called and wanted him to come to the office. So that was around midnight, and so he --

TI: When he got the phone call, or after he got the phone call and hung up and says he has to go to the office, did you, did he seem concerned or worried about anything?

BI: Well, he looked like he wondered why, uh-huh. So...

TI: And do you recall how you were feeling when he left?

BI: Well, I was nervous, I didn't know what was going to happen. And so, but he said, "I'll be back in a little while." And I waited and waited and went to bed, but I don't remember sleeping. Then there was a loud pounding on the door, and I didn't know who was at the door at that hour, and I was afraid to open the door. So I went upstairs to get my brother-in-law, who was living with us at that time, and I asked him to come down and see who was at the door. And there were two men, said they were FBIs, and they wanted to come in. I don't even remember showing us their badge or... they just said they had to come in, so we let them in. If I were alone I would never let 'em in, but my brother was, brother-in-law was with me, so we let them in. And they said they had to search the house, so they wanted to know where Ken was. And I said, "Well, he was called to the office." And I think they called the office to see if he was there, and he was there, so then they wanted to search the house. (Narr. note: My brother-in-law was Henry Ito, who was about 11 to 12 years younger than Ken. Henry was born in the U.S. but had just returned from Japan.)

TI: Now, did they have any, like, a search warrant or any papers to...

BI: Now, that I don't remember.

TI: But they probably, then, asked your permission to look around the house?

BI: Well, they just said they had to look in the house.

TI: So what was that like? What did they do?

BI: Well, of course, I was in my nightclothes, and so I went to close the bedroom because Ayleen was sleeping, I didn't want her to wake up, and they followed me in and looked around the bedroom. And I had to go the bathroom and they followed me to the bathroom and wouldn't let me close the door. And then they started pulling out the drawers in the living room, and so I said, "What are you looking for?" You know, I was very ignorant and innocent, and I said, "What are you looking for?" and they wouldn't say. And then they wanted to search the upstairs, so they went upstairs and looked around and came down. I don't remember much conversation, and they left.

TI: Do you remember if they, if they found anything that they took with them?

BI: I don't think so. I don't think they found anything. (Narr. note: Year later, after the war, Jim Inouye, Hatsumi's husband, asked me whether we received a Christmas present they had sent to Ken's office. It was a doll for Ayleen and a permit to get into Ken's office so no one else could have gotten in.)

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So at this point, you must have been pretty... what's the right word? Pretty frightened?

BI: Oh, I was, I was shaking. And then when he didn't come home, I kept waiting for him to come home, and he didn't come home and I thought...

TI: And about what time was this, when you were waiting for him?

BI: Well, it was practically all night, you know, it was, I think the, it was about two o'clock when they left, and Ken hadn't come home yet. And in the morning he still hadn't come home, and I thought, "I wonder what happened to him." Then I went, started to think, "Gosh, did he leave me? He said he'd be home," and I didn't know what to do. I kept thinking, "My God, would he desert me?" And it was about nine o'clock in the morning, my mother called and asked me if Ken was home, and I started to cry. [Cries] Excuse me. I said, "No, he isn't, he didn't come home." And so she assured me that there were other Japanese that were taken away, and so not to worry, he was probably taken away by the same people. Before that, I guess I called Bill Mimbu's (home) to see if Bill had gone to work, and I talked to his wife and she said, "Yes, he went to work," and I thought, well, then I wondered how come Bill went to work and Ken wasn't going to work. And then I think that day, that morning, I got a call from some man that I didn't know who he was, offered to help me, he said he knew Ken, and if I needed help, to please call on him. (Narr. note: According to an F.B.I. report dated December 20, 1941, Ken had, in fact, returned home, but he was arrested as he was entering the house through the back door).

TI: And was this someone from the Japanese community?

BI: No, it was a Caucasian man, he gave me his name, but I didn't know who he was. So I thanked him, but I didn't get in touch with him.

TI: But at this point, because of your mother's conversation, you knew that other men had been picked up.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: And so you felt that he was probably with the, the FBI.

BI: Right.

TI: And so, still, you must have been very frightened.

BI: Yes, uh-huh. And of course then the newspaper came out, and big headlines, you know, about all the "Japs" being rounded up. And "Kenji Ito was accused of being a spy." And I think it was about, it seemed like about two weeks, maybe.

TI: Let's go back to that, still, December 8th. Did anything else happen that day, that you can recall, other than calling around? I mean, you're just, pretty much just waiting on that day. Any more conversations with family members?

BI: No, it's just Mother called.

TI: And so you're pretty much alone with your baby, Ayleen, and then I guess also Ken's brother was there.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: So you guys were just sort of unsure what was going on.

BI: Yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Okay, so where we are is on, sort of, December 8th when you were just waiting. Your husband had been called down to the, the FBI office the night of December 7th...

BI: Not to the FBI office.

TI: Or to his office.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay, so the FBI met him at his office.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: Okay, and then, and then furthermore, a couple FBI agents came to your house and searched, and then you waited all night and worried about where your husband was. And I'm curious, so your husband was a lawyer for the Japanese community. What, what organizations did your husband belong to during this time?

BI: The only ones I know is the Japanese American Citizens League and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

TI: So let's start with the JACL, the Japanese American Citizens League. What role was, did your husband play with the JACL?

BI: Well, I think he was president at one time, I'm not sure if he was president at that time. And I remember going to a meeting with him where he spoke. That's about all I remember of his involvement with JACL. (Narr. note: He was President of the Seattle Chapter of JACL at the time of his arrest. He was succeeded by Clarence Arai.)

TI: What can you tell me, the JACL, or what type of organization the Japanese American Citizens League was. Can you tell me what, what they did?

BI: I'm not really sure, but I thought they were to help the Japanese citizens, to help them integrate into the American community. That was my understanding of what it was, was for.

TI: So it was a organization for citizens, U.S. citizens, so it'd be the second generation, sort of set up, organized by Niseis, or second generations.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: And the JACL was a relatively young organization at that time.

BI: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

TI: And so some of the, the early leaders and founders of the organization were, I believe, still in Seattle at that time. People like Jimmy Sakamoto, Clarence Arai. So did your husband know these, these individuals?

BI: Oh, yes, uh-huh. Yes.

TI: And so he, it was, it was common for him to meet with them, talk with them?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: And do you recall him talking at all about these men and what their dream was for the JACL?

BI: Not really, no.

TI: Okay, well, and the other organization you mentioned was the Japanese Chamber of Commerce?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: And do you recall what role Ken played with them?

BI: Well, I think he was helping them with business problems, and that's about all I know.

TI: Now, both those organizations in the community, the Seattle community, they were both pretty prominent organizations.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And your husband was with both of them. Do you think that may have been the reason why the FBI sort of targeted your husband? His involvement with these organizations?

BI: I'm not sure. I thought it was probably because he was speaking, you know, he was making a lot of speeches sponsored by service clubs and different organizations. That was the reason I thought he was...

BI: So you think probably the FBI or the government had been sort of tracking people in the community, what they were saying, what they were doing, and your husband was one some list.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: And was, and that's why he was picked up the night of December 7th.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: So going back to the JACL, so there were people like Jimmy Sakamoto, Clarence Arai, and other leaders, Nisei leaders. During this period when your husband was, was picked up by the FBI, that's a little unusual because from my research, almost all the pickups were of Japanese nationals, of Isseis.

BI: Right, right.

TI: And your husband was a U.S. citizen.

BI: Right, uh-huh.

TI: Was there any protest or anything to, to the fact that because he was a U.S. citizen, he shouldn't be treated this way?

BI: Not at all, no.

TI: And so did, did people from the JACL or the Japanese Chamber of Commerce ever contact you in terms of what they could do to help?

BI: Nobody did. (Narr. note: Ken told me to go see Clarence Arai, so I went with my sister Amy to see him. He just ignored me. I said, "Ken wanted me to see you," but he just went about his business. I also went with Amy to see James Sakamoto, but he brushed us off.)

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, so let's just talk about the days after, now, December 8th. I mean, when, when were you able to see Ken for the first time?

BI: It was after he was transferred to the county jail (on December 20, 1941).

TI: So, so explain to me where he was initially, so when he was first picked up, where did they take him?

BI: Well, he was held at the immigration department, and he was held there for it seemed like two weeks but I'm not sure just how many days. And...

TI: When he was held at the immigration, was there confusion on whether or not he was a U.S. citizen or not?

BI: I don't know why they held him there. I think when they realized he was a citizen, they transferred him to the county jail. And there was a big picture of him in handcuffs being taken to county jail. It was in the LA Times -- not, the Seattle Times.

TI: And, and in this article, was it, that the time they identified him as a, as a Japanese spy?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: So that's when they transferred him... so, okay, from the immigration center on, I'm guessing on Airport Way over to the county jail. So when this happened, did you get any comments from, like, your family or the people in the community about, about Ken?

BI: Not from the community. My family was horrified, you know. And of course, we were so mixed up what was going on, and we didn't really know what in the world, why all this was happening. And so... anyway, after he landed in the county jail, I was able to go see him.

TI: And can you, can you tell me about that meeting? What was, sort of, what it was like?

BI: Well, it was, it was horrible, to tell you the truth, because I had to take the elevator to the jail, it was in the county courthouse, I guess it was. And I had to take the elevator that said "jail," and I thought, "Oh my God." So embarrassing, and I just felt terrible having to take a elevator up, up that elevator, and I looked around to see if anybody was watching me. And I saw him, but behind bars, and I think that's when he asked me to get in contact with some lawyers. I can't recall exactly, but...

TI: But do you, do you remember what you, what he looked like when you first saw him? Did he look the same, or did he look any different?

BI: Oh, he looked, to me he looked nervous.

TI: And so he, he started, when you guys were talking, it was more about ways or trying to find help for, for him.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: Now, your husband was a, a lawyer, he knew other lawyers in the Japanese community. Did any of them, were any of them able to help? Like you mentioned earlier, Mimbu and... what's the other one? Mimbu and Masuda. Were they, were they...

BI: They were also held.

TI: So they were also being held at this point?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: Were there any other lawyers in the Japanese community that were available to help?

BI: Well Bill Mimbu was also an attorney, but he, he was not held.

TI: So was he available to help, then? Did he help?

BI: No. (Narr. note: I didn't ask Bill Mimbu to help. Ken didn't suggest it. He didn't associate with Bill Mimbu because Bill was a younger attorney.)

TI: Now, was Bill also, Mimbu, a member of the JACL?

BI: That I don't know.

TI: So your, your husband, Ken, gave you some contacts for lawyers. What else did the two of you talk about?

BI: Well, he didn't want me to mention Ayleen. He said, "Oh, don't talk about her." It was too hard on him, so he wouldn't let me talk about Ayleen. Oh, we talked about what might happen to him.

TI: Do you recall what types of things you talked about in terms of what might happen to him?

BI: That he might be railroaded and might... oh, I can't remember too much. We didn't talk about the case, and we didn't, we didn't talk too much. He would write something and then put it on the window and then I would write something back so he could read it. We didn't want people listening to us so we did a lot of writing back and forth. But it wasn't so much about his case, but what was happening to the Japanese. (Narr. note: We also talked about money -- where we were going to get it to pay attorney fees. We borrowed the money from my parents and brother Tak and were not able to pay it back until about 1950.)

TI: And so Ken just wanted information, news about what was happening, kind of, out there?

BI: Well, I think he knew, but we would talk about, So-and-so was gone, and... I can't even remember what we talked about, really.

TI: When, when Ken talked about possibly being railroaded, did he ever talk about who might be behind that?

BI: No.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So after the visit, then what happened? What did you do next?

BI: Well, he wanted me to, he said he was going to send a lawyer out to Bellevue to take, bring me to Seattle to have, take me to the bank to have the, our bank account was frozen, and the lawyer was to help us get some money out of there. And he came, the lawyer came out, a big red-headed Irishman, and I got in the car to go to Seattle with him and he wanted to know who owned the farm, and asked me all kinds of questions about, mostly about the farm, nothing about Ken. And I thought, it sounds like he was more interested in, in how much money it was worth. But as we drove along, he reached over and put his hand on my lap, and I thought, "Oh, God," and so I got close to my door as possible, and I was just so nervous. But we went to the Sumitomo Bank in Seattle.

TI: I'm sorry. So when he did that, did he say anything?

BI: No.

TI: But it was an obvious sort of advance, sexual advance on you?

BI: Well, that's what I felt. He wasn't trying to console me that he'll take care of everything or anything like that, he wanted to know who owned the farm, and I don't know if he asked me about the finances, but to me, all he had in his mind was putting his hand on my lap. And I got so nervous, so when we got to the bank, I didn't even, I was afraid to even stand next to him, so I stood far away from him. And I guess he realized he wasn't going to get anything out of me, so he didn't bother me going home. And then, and then my husband called, or the... must have been my husband called and said, "Get rid of him." And he didn't even know that he had, this man had done this to me. He said, "Get rid of him, pay him off, give him..." I don't remember, it was fifty dollars or 250 dollars, anyway, some money, and just pay him off. And then he wanted me to contact other lawyers. So I went into Seattle and called several other lawyers, but the response was, "We don't handle Jap cases," or, "We don't handle criminal cases," and I was just shaking when I was calling them. Amy, my sister, was with me, and it was... I was very young, very inexperienced, in a sense ignorant, so it was a real ordeal for me. But we finally, finally told me to go see Hammond and Agnew at the Smith Tower. So I went, shaking, and the receptionist was very kind, and she told me to, "Please sit down. Mr. Agnew or Mr. Hammond will be with you very shortly," and they were very cordial. And I went in and I... I was very, very nervous, and they assured me that they would go see Ken, and not to worry, "We'll take care of everything." And they did go to see Ken, and then they took the case.

TI: So do you know much more about Mr. Hammond or Mr. Agnew and who they were and why they took this case?

BI: None. At that time, I didn't know anything about them.

TI: Because the other lawyers you contacted all refused, and this was a, a high-profile case. The press had, had taken the story up and accused your husband as a spy. This was right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, so there was very high anti-Japanese sentiment. So for them to take this case, I'm just curious why they did. So you're not, you don't know anything more.

BI: You know, I'm not sure. They probably, they probably thought, well, he's a citizen, and... I'm not sure, but they wondered why a citizen was being held in the county jail, I guess. I have no idea, but they were very reassuring that everything would be okay.

TI: Now, during this period, how did, how did you support yourself?

BI: Well, I was living with my parents.

TI: So that was, so that was good in that they could help you take care of your daughter, Ayleen.

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And it allowed you to go back and forth to talk to lawyers, to see your husband. But -- and you've mentioned this a couple times -- you were very young, very inexperienced in these matters. Was there anyone in the community that could help you sort of go through this? Was there any support?

BI: Not at all. Everybody had their problems, you know.

TI: So it was just whatever support your family could give you at this time.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: So this was, it must have been one of the most difficult times of your life.

BI: Oh, yes.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So let's, let's continue. So this is this period, while you're now, the lawyers are preparing for the case, and what was this period like for you? What type of things did you do?

BI: Well, I continued to come into Seattle to see him, I think twice a week, and he worried. He wanted my brother-in-law to come with me. He was afraid somebody might, there was so much publicity, he was afraid someone might attack me. So my brother-in-law did come with me a few times.

TI: And your brother-in-law's name was...

BI: Henry.

TI: Henry.

BI: But Father Ito was living with a lady that was, they weren't married at that time, but she was living with him, and she didn't want Henry to do that. She said people will think that, people will laugh, that his brother and I were going around together, and so Henry stopped helping me. And so I took the bus into Seattle and one time, going home from seeing Ken, the bus was loaded with passengers, and there was one man that was, got up and started ranting and raving about the "damn Japs," and, "we ought to get all the Japs and send them to the island and sink the island," and oh, he carried on and on and on. And I'm the only Japanese on the bus, and I just kept going farther and farther down in my seat, just felt terrible. And then suddenly he says, "Oh, where are we?" And the bus driver told him where we were, and he says, "Oh. I missed my stop," and then people laughed. But it was the most uncomfortable experience.

TI: The other people on the bus, what was their reaction when this --

BI: They didn't say anything.

TI: So no one told him, or no one, was there a sense of supporting what he said, or telling him to be quiet?

BI: No, no, no. They didn't support him. They were all very quiet.

TI: Were people sort of looking at you as he was...

BI: I don't know, because I think I was just looking down and looking out.

TI: Now, did this man sort of, was he fairly close to you when he was ranting like this? Was it clear that he was sort of directing this towards you?

BI: Oh, yes, surely, uh-huh. So that experience I remember it being, never forget.

TI: And this was on the bus ride from Bellevue to Seattle?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: During this time, you mentioned how you would visit Ken maybe twice a week. Over the course of this time when he was in jail and you would see him, did you notice any differences in his, sort of his demeanor, how he handled this?

BI: Not really.

TI: Was he generally pleased with how Hammond and Agnew were handling the case?

BI: Well, you know, we didn't talk too much about the case. It was just... just reassuring me that things would be okay. He didn't want me to, to abandon him or anything, just giving each other moral support.

TI: Earlier you mentioned that you got no support from the, the Japanese community in Seattle. I was wondering, how about in Bellevue where the people that you grew up with? Was there any support for...

BI: No.

TI: When you saw people in Bellevue, did, what was their reaction? Did they ever talk about it, did they ask you how you were doing or anything like that?

BI: No, we didn't see, we didn't see the people. I don't remember seeing any of my friends. I can't remember anybody calling me or writing to me. The Japanese were all, had their problems, and so I was pretty much alone.

TI: How about your parents? Do you recall any conversations you had with your mother and father during this period?

BI: Well, they just wondered what it was all about. And, of course, they, nobody knew what was going to happen, so everybody was just wondering what next.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So let's, let's go to the trial. So in March, late March, there was a trial. And why don't you tell me about that, describe what that was like.

BI: Well, you know, it was the first time I was, been in a courthouse. And everything was very new and frightening to me, but the proceedings, it just seemed to me that they were just going through this trial because, because they made these accusations and they couldn't just drop it, so to me it just seemed like they were just going through it.

TI: Yeah, before we get to that part, describe like who was there. Was it, was it a very, did very many people attend the trial, was it a big courtroom?

BI: Well, it wasn't in a big courtroom, but they were, of course, all Caucasians. Thomas Masuda's wife and Chika Takahashi, (wife of Charles T. Takahashi), attended the trial.

TI: Now, why did, why did the two of them attend?

BI: Because their husbands were incarcerated and they, I guess, wanted to know what was going to happen. So they supported, supported me in court.

TI: So the three of you would talk, because you were sort of similar situations. Your husbands were...

BI: Right, uh-huh. But they kept calling one witness after another, and it was mostly, well, many of them were people who had worked at the consulate, and they were asked if they ever saw Kenji, and they said, "Yes." "How many times?" Just didn't seem like they had any real evidence that he was a spy.

TI: At this point -- and just to give some overview -- your, your husband was being sort of accused of being an agent of the Japanese government, and not necessarily a spy, it was even doing anything in terms of, of helping the Japanese government from, I think, the late '30s to the early '40s. And so an agent being someone who would... what's the right word? Have kind of the authority to speak on behalf of, say, the Japanese government, would be one type of agent. But not necessarily spying, is my understanding.

BI: No, no.

TI: It was pretty narrow kind of, and they were just trying to show that your husband had this connection with the Japanese government. And in doing so, he also didn't register as an agent, because you actually can help another government, but you just have to let the U.S. government know you're doing it. So they were trying to, are accusing him of helping the Japanese government. In, almost it could have been in its day-to-day operations, but also not telling the U.S. government. At least that's my understanding. So, so it wasn't like, necessarily, as you mentioned during the trial, it wasn't very sensational in terms of all these spying accusations, it's just like, "Were you at the embassy," they were just trying to establish that he had some relationship --

BI: Some connection, uh-huh.

TI: -- with the Japanese government, and nothing really...

BI: Concrete.

TI: Concrete, or even damaging in any way. So, okay, so let's continue. So they brought this parade of witnesses one after the other, and they were just talking about things like whether or not they saw him at the embassy or things like that. Now, there were a couple of Japanese Americans who were asked to testify, people like Bill Hosokawa. Do you recall any of that?

BI: You know, I don't remember that.

TI: Okay, I was curious what they were asked to testify.

BI: No, I don't remember.

TI: Okay. So while this was going on, and you're, because it goes on for days, what are you thinking as you hear about this? Because again, you really probably didn't have a good sense of what your husband did. And as you heard all this, what were you thinking?

BI: I just kept wondering what's going to happen.

TI: Did the lawyer say anything to you as the trial was going on about how they thought things were going?

BI: Not during the trial, but before the trial there was a lot of publicity. And one time there was an article that came out in the (Seattle Times) that he was going to get 250 years in prison. And I was going home from visiting him, and when I got home, my family said there was a call from, from the lawyer, and said, "Ignore the article in the paper." They wanted to assure me that, "Don't worry about that." They were very, very concerned for my well-being as well.

TI: And so during the trial, were you just commuting from Bellevue to Seattle every day?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And when you got home from the trial, from, yeah, the trial, and got home, what did you do? What was it like when you came home?

BI: It was just, just being nervous. We didn't talk too much about it or wondered why all that was going on. You know, it was something so foreign to us, you know, farmers, farmer daughter, farmer's daughter going into court like that, so I don' t think they even knew enough to ask any questions, it was so new to them.

TI: But it must have been really hard because people really didn't know what was going on, they weren't talking to you, their only information was the papers, and the papers had essentially accused your husband of being a spy, saying that he should, would get 250 years in jail. So there must have been this sense in the community that he was guilty of something.

BI: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And they, and you would have to walk around that kind of environment. Again, so it must have been very, very hard for you, especially being around people who, who kind of knew who your husband was. And do you recall any incidents or anything while the trial was going on?

BI: Not really. (Narr. note: Sometime before the trial started, I was walking down the street going toward Jackson, and Bill Mimbu was coming up the street. My sister Amy was with me. When Bill saw me, he crossed the street to avoid me.)

TI: Okay, so let's continue. So anything else you can remember about the trial as it's going on, in terms of either a witness or anything the lawyers said that stand out?

BI: No, I really don't. A few times something was asked, and the people in court sort of giggled, and the judge reprimanded them. But there was nothing real sensational, you know, during the trial.

TI: Now, the, when, after the prosecution rested, the defense, the defense case, they didn't really call very many witnesses. I think you were one of the few people that they called to the stand. And do you remember what they asked you when you were on the stand?

BI: Oh, they asked me my name, I don't know if they asked me my age. I think they asked me if I had a child, and I said, "Yes." It was only two or three questions.

TI: And did the prosecution ask you any questions?

BI: No.

TI: And so after the defense, I think, had you, maybe, maybe your brother might have been there, or someone else -- I looked at the court records -- but it was either you and maybe one or two other people, but it was very, very short in terms of the defense.

BI: Oh, yes.

TI: And then they rested their case.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: Do you remember anything from the closing arguments, either the government's closing arguments or the defense?

BI: Not really.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So at that point, the case goes to the jury. And I believe this is on April 1st that the jury essentially was able to go off and deliberate. So explain to me what that was like, when that was happening.

BI: Well, I was with Ken during the deliberations, and he said, "If they don't come back in three hours, I could be railroaded." And he said, so he warned me not to, to be prepared for the worst. And it was, three hours had passed, and he got a little... can't say he was nervous, but I guess you'd say he was a little, wondering what was going on. And it was four hours, and so thought, "Oh," but when we went back into the courthouse and the verdict was read, it was a great relief. Count one: not guilty; count two: not guilty; count three: not guilty; count four: not guilty. (Narr. note: He was tried on just 3 counts, not 4.)

TI: And so when you said it was big relief, do you recall what, what happened, what you did?

BI: Well, I had my head down, I just didn't know what to think. And when I heard "not guilty," I raised my head and of course smiled, but you know... you may think I'm a little weird, but I looked up and I could see a white figure, and I didn't know if it was Christ or who he was, but I saw a vision. And it just made me so happy, I was smiling.

TI: Are you, at that time, were you a very religious person?

BI: Not really. I was more Buddhist than Christian, but Mother was a very devout Buddhist, and to please the family... well, they had their little temple in the house, and we were expected to say, "Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu," in the morning. So I did, and was in, I didn't know what it was all about, but it was kind of a tradition in the family, so I followed that. And, but this white figure always stayed in my mind. I thought, "Well, there's something spiritual."

TI: Can you describe that feeling when you saw that, that image?

BI: Momentarily, momentarily you don't know where you are. I see this figure, and then it disappears.

TI: How about your husband? What was his reaction when they read the verdict?

BI: Oh, of course he was, he was very, very happy. So I called the family --

TI: Oh, before we go there, what about the rest of the, the courtroom? Did anyone else react that you could recall? Did people come up to you and Ken and say things to you?

BI: No, no. We were all leaving on the same elevator, and so I wanted to thank the jury, and my attorney said, "No, don't do that." He said, "It's better not to." So that was it.

TI: And do you recall any conversations between the lawyer and Ken as, after the trial, after the verdict? Was there any comments or anything you could recall?

BI: Well, if there was, I wasn't with them. (Narr. note: I remember we took Hammond to lunch at Maneki after the trial.)

TI: How about the two women that were watching the trial? Did they come up to you and say anything?

BI: No, not that I remember. I don't know if they attended every session.

TI: Okay, you were going on, then you said you called your, your family?

BI: Yes, I called them to say that Ken was acquitted and we're coming home. And they said, "It's not an April Fool's joke, is it?" [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's, yeah, it was April 1st. I'm sorry, who said that? Your, who said about the April Fool's joke?

BI: I don't know who answered the phone, but it might have been my older brother.

TI: So they must have been very happy.

BI: Oh, yes.

TI: What, what did Ken want to do? Because he's been locked up for months now, what did he want to do when he got out?

BI: Well, you know, he volunteered for the army, for the service, and he was turned down.

TI: So I'm sorry, as soon as he got out, he volunteered for the service?

BI: Uh-huh. Not right away, but within a few weeks.

TI: But before we go there, I mean, just the, that day, when he was released, was there anything that he wanted to do, like go eat a certain food or see a certain person?

BI: No, we went home, I think he wanted to see Ayleen, and I kept reminding Ayleen, "Daddy, Daddy," you know, because she was, she was less than a year old, I guess. Yeah, she hadn't turned quite one. (Narr. note: Actually, she turned one in February 1941.) But, so she called him, "Daddy, Daddy," and of course that just thrilled him.

TI: And this was back at South Park, or in Bellevue?

BI: No, in Bellevue. I never did go back to South Park. The reason I didn't stay in South Park was it was so close to the Boeing airfield, and then very, almost across the street from our house was the Japanese language school. And that area was all, FBIs were standing around watching, and then I had to get a permit to go into that area. And it was just, it was so unpleasant.

TI: So it was kind of a restricted area.

BI: Yes, so Ken didn't want me to stay there, and he said, "I want you to go to Bellevue," so I went to Bellevue.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: During, right about the time of the trial, the Bainbridge Island community was removed and shipped to Manzanar. Were you aware that this was going on at the same time? I know you had so much for you to think about, but were you aware that, that this was happening?

BI: Yes, vaguely. There was so many things going on, wondered what it was all about. Not knowing that we were going to be evacuated, too.

TI: Well, because then shortly after the trial, they did start removing people from this area.

BI: Right.

TI: And so when did you find out that you would have to also leave the area? Do you remember that?

BI: Well, I can't remember the exact date or how it happened, but I think, I think Ken and I went separately from my family. Yeah, we went to Puyallup, and my family were sent to Minidoka -- no, to assembly center somewhere.

TI: Possibly to Pinedale?

BI: Yeah, I think, uh-huh.

TI: And went to Pinedale, because Bellevue people generally went to Pinedale.

BI: Pinedale, uh-huh.

TI: But you went with the Seattle people to Puyallup?

BI: Yes, we got sent to Puyallup. I don't know why we got sent to Puyallup.

TI: Well, it's kind of interesting, all the people in Seattle were sent to Puyallup and then Minidoka, and then Bellevue was sent to Pinedale and then Tule Lake. So, so this must have been hard for you to be separated from your family.

BI: Yes, uh-huh. Yes, it was.

TI: Now, was it, was there any, was it hard to, to sort of get back to your husband after being away for those months? Was it difficult in any way, or was he changed in any way?

BI: Yes, I guess you could say that he... before, he was very positive, a very positive outlook on many things. But after he came out, there was a lot of indecisions, if he felt, I could feel that he wasn't quite sure what was gonna happen.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: During this period, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, some of the leaders of the JACL became very active in the community, becoming spokespeople for the community. Did your husband ever get back with people, with the JACL, do anything with the JACL or people like Jimmy Sakamoto?

BI: Not actively, no. (Narr. note: According to an Office of Naval Intelligence report, Kenji Ito actively opposed the JACL at Puyallup. The military authorities had delegated the internal administration of the assembly center to the JACL. Kenji Ito and Thomas Masuda, later joined by William Hosokawa, challenged the JACL's authority, asserting that the leaders had usurped the administrative authority instead of having been duly elected by the internees.)

TI: Did he ever talk about, about them during this period, about, or see them?

BI: No.

TI: How about the reaction of the community after he was released, acquitted, and you're in the community, and if you see someone, did you, did people ever talk about the case or anything? Or was there any reaction at all?

BI: Uh-uh.

TI: So how did that make you feel?

BI: Well, it didn't bother me. I was, I didn't care what other people thought. I knew my husband, and we were together.

TI: How about your husband, how did it affect him? Because before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was a prominent lawyer in the community, people looked up to him, went to him for help. And then now, after the trial, how did people treat him?

BI: Well, when we went to Puyallup, I had the baby, and at that time there was a very bad case of diarrhea, and Ayleen had diarrhea for weeks. And I was so busy trying to take care of her, and he was busy. I don't know what he was doing in Puyallup, at the assembly center, but suddenly one day he came home around noon, I think it was, and he says, "Oh, you've got to start packing. We have to leave by four o'clock." And I said, "Leave? Where are we going?" And he said, "Well, I don't know, but you better start packing. They're going to pick us up at four o'clock." And I had wet diapers and whatnots, so I threw everything in the buckets and packed up, and there were at least another family, but maybe two families and us, that got on the train, I think, yeah, on the train. And we didn't know where we were going. I guess we did eventually find out we were going to Tule Lake. And it was a long ride, you know, Seattle and Tule Lake, Tule Lake is northern California. It shouldn't be too long, but gosh, we went all over to Montana, down through Idaho, and along, I think we were on that train at least two nights and three days or three nights and two days. (Narr. note: At Puyallup we were given mattress size canvas bags to fill with hay. It was our mattress to put on the army cots. It was infested with fleas and did I ever get bites! I had to pull my pajama sleeves over my hands and tie them shut to keep the fleas out. It was an old train that probably had not been used in years. It was infested with bed bugs. We sat up during the whole trip. The train stopped to let us stretch, in the middle of the desert. The M.P. stood with their machine guns as they counted heads as we boarded the train. Who in the world would want to run away in such a desolate place?)

TI: And how many people were on this train?

BI: You know, there were quite a few Japanese on there.

TI: I haven't heard about this. So there was a group from Puyallup that went to Tule Lake? And do you recall who this group was? I mean, did they go because they had family that went to Tule and that they were reunited?

BI: I really, I really don't know.

TI: Because in your case, it was nice because you were reunited with your, your family. And I was curious if the other families were like that, or what their reason was to go to Tule Lake.

BI: The only, only thing I know of is apparently my husband didn't like the idea that the assembly center was run by the Niseis. "Why are the Niseis running this when the government was responsible for putting us there?" you know. I'm not sure, but there was some, some conflict there, and they didn't like Ken's point of view and so they thought, well, get rid of him, so they sent us off, out of camp, to Tule Lake. (Narr. note: It was the JACL Niseis he objected to.)

TI: But not only your family, but there was a whole group that went down there also.

BI: Not my family. My family went to Minidoka.

TI: Well, yeah, I'm sorry, but you, Ken, and Ayleen.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: So the three of you, plus, plus other, other people. But again, you weren't sure if they were also, were they sent because they disagreed with how Puyallup was being run, or do you know why?

BI: No, they were just sent there, uh-huh.

TI: Now, was Puyallup overcrowded at this point, was that another reason?

BI: Well, no, not that I know of. But it was such a sudden order.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So when you got to Tule Lake, what was, what was that like? Was it Pinedale or Tule Lake you went to?

BI: Tule Lake.

TI: Okay, Tule Lake, so what was, what was that like?

BI: Well, after being on that train for so long, and we got to Tule Lake at evening. And they picked us up on a truck and they took us to the, to our barrack. And at that time it wasn't full yet, and so they left us at a block that was not occupied yet. And I went into this barrack and there's a bed, you know, cot, nothing else. And I thought, "Oh, my God." And then Ken said, "You wait here. I'm going to go check out something," so he left me in this barrack with Ayleen. And at that time, there was a rumor about the Hawaiian group that was raising some problems, and I thought, I was frightened that, because there was nobody around, the barracks were empty. And eventually, the barracks began to fill up, and we stayed there almost a year, I guess. But it was such a desolate place, and dusty, and my husband became the block manager of that particular block. The block manager handled the mail and whatever problems that came up.

TI: Now, when you were at Tule, did it, did it ever come up that your husband had a, a trial in Seattle? I mean, here you didn't have very many Seattle people at Tule Lake, and I'm just curious if it was, if people knew about that.

BI: You know, I don't, I don't recall, I don't think so. But there was a Dr. (Yamato) Ichihashi, he was a professor at Stanford that was either in the same block or next block. And then there was a Mr. (Noboru Shirai) from Sacramento. I think Ken had met Mr. (Shirai) when... no, anyway, he became very close friends with them. And so, of course, I think they knew what had happened, but nobody else, they couldn't care less what happened, they had their own problems.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Okay, so we're now at Tule Lake. But before we talk more about Tule Lake, I want to go back to your daughter, Ayleen. She was born February 1941, and so let's start with, how was she delivered? Was she delivered in a hospital or a midwife?

BI: In a hospital.

TI: Which hospital? Was this in Seattle or Bellevue?

BI: Seattle. What was that hospital?

TI: So was it Seattle General Hospital?

BI: No, it was... was there some kind of religious hospital?

TI: Oh, maybe Providence? Well, I'm not sure which one.

BI: Anyway, it was in a hospital. (Narr. note: It was Providence Hospital.)

TI: And what was it like being a young mother with a, a new baby daughter?

BI: Well, I didn't expect to have a child so soon, I was surprised that he wanted to start a family. And we didn't, I didn't get pregnant right away, but he was very happy that he was going to have a child.

TI: Because you had to raise Ayleen in South Park, and so you were kind of alone.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: You didn't have your, your mother or your sisters there.

BI: No, uh-uh.

TI: So what was that like? Was that hard?

BI: It was for a very short time, because she was born in February, and then the war broke out in December. But my, we used to go to Bellevue quite often to visit, and then that year I had my sister there, was living in California and they came up to visit, so I had visitors. So it wasn't too bad.

TI: So let's jump to when you had to go to first Puyallup. How difficult was it to take care of Ayleen in those circumstances?

BI: Well, it was very difficult because at home, we had a washing machine and everything was so convenient. And had to wash diapers on a scrub board and all that, and I was very busy just taking care of washing clothes. And the food was horrible and she got diarrhea and it was rainy and muddy and very depressing. Just, just... it was an insult, you know. I just felt like, "Why do I deserve this?"

TI: Yeah, it seems, especially when she had diarrhea, it's just like a full-time job just, just trying to survive in those circumstances.

BI: Oh, yes. And the doctors really got concerned because it wouldn't go away. And then I think the doctor asked someone to bring in some dried apples. I don't know how I got those dried apples, and he said the dried apples would probably help some, and it did help and finally stopped.

TI: How did you feel about the health care in, at Puyallup for, for you and the others?

BI: There wasn't any that I know of. [Laughs]

TI: So there really wasn't medicines or anything like that, it was just things like that.

BI: No.

TI: When you went to Tule Lake, so let's go back to Tule Lake, did conditions improve?

BI: Well, by that time, we were sort of used to camp life. It wasn't easy because most of my time was taken up washing diapers and washing sheets and washing Ken's corduroy pants on the scrub board and wringing it out. Oh, it was horrible, especially when you were used to a washing machine and whatnot. And half the time I couldn't dry it outside 'cause it was so dusty, so I had to hang things in the barrack.

TI: And so what would you do with Ayleen during the day? Were there places for her to play? What did you do?

BI: Well, when we were at Tule Lake, of course, she was pretty young. But she was... I was very strict about raising my family, and if I would discipline her, she'll say, "I'm going to go far away." I said, "Oh, okay, goodbye," [laughs] knowing that she couldn't go anywhere, we're in camp, you know. And she'd go and go around away from our barrack to another barrack, and somebody will come and say, "Oh, Mrs. Ito, did you know Ayleen is in Block so-and-so?" and I said, "Yes, I know. She said she was running away." [Laughs]

TI: And then she would just eventually come back, is that...?

BI: Yeah, she'd get closer and closer to the barrack and then Ken would go after her. [Laughs] I was mean.

TI: Were there very many other young mothers or mothers with young children?

BI: Yes, uh-huh, there were lots. And then she was too young to go to nursery school, but she would sneak over there and go into the classroom, and then they'd come and tell me, "You know, Mrs. Ito, your, Ayleen is over here." It was pretty hard for me to keep her away from that school because the children were there.

TI: Well, it sounds like Ayleen's a very independent, strong individual.

BI: Uh-huh. She always was.

TI: Oh, that's interesting.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So you mentioned, so at Tule Lake, you were there, and then at some point, the government passed out a, what's called the "loyalty questionnaire." Can you talk about that in terms of what the reaction of you and your husband were when you first saw this?

BI: Well, around that time, I think after talking, after he had made friends with Dr. Ichihashi and Mr. Shirai, at that time he mentioned, "Well, maybe we'll go to Japan." And I said, "Well, I'm not going. If you're, if you're going to Japan, you're going alone. I'm not going with you." [Laughs] I didn't want to go to Japan.

TI: Now, why did your husband consider going to Japan? What was he, what was he thinking or saying?

BI: I, I don't know. I think he just felt that he would be of better service in Japan. I think he always wanted to get into diplomatic service, and when he volunteered, I'm sure that he thought that his language skills would be helpful because he could read and write Japanese quite well.

TI: Earlier you mentioned that he, he tried to volunteer but was refused. But later on they opened things up, and in fact, they were recruiting people with Japanese language to join the military intelligence service. Was he ever contacted about that or considered...

BI: That I don't know. That I don't know.

TI: So let's go back to the, the questionnaire. So he, you said you didn't want to go to Japan, he was considering, so what, what did the two of you end up doing?

BI: So, well, we signed "yes-yes," and then, of course, then they started segregating the "yes" and "nos," and so he asked me where I, I wanted to go, and I said, "Well, might as well go to Minidoka," where my mother and my parents were.

TI: Did your parents to directly to Minidoka, or did they go to Tule Lake first? I thought...

BI: They were in Tule Lake for a little while.

TI: Okay, and then they transferred to Minidoka.

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. And they transferred to Minidoka because more friends were there, or why did they...

BI: I think most of the Seattle people were sent there.

TI: So they, so you wanted to go to Minidoka, and your husband said "yes-yes," so you went to Minidoka. And what was Minidoka like compared to Tule Lake?

BI: Well, it was much smaller, and we were at one end of the camp. And there were, by that time, just sort of got immune to all the problems. Couldn't let everything bother you. So, but Ken was working for the administration down there, and then I got pregnant with my second child and became very ill. I started having -- you know, with almost two years of being under stress, and I started developing heart palpitations when I was pregnant, and passing out, so they had to hospitalize me. And I was in the hospital about six months, and Mother took care of Ayleen -- well, Dad and Mother took care of Ayleen while, while I was in the hospital. And delivered Glenna at camp.

TI: And so how would you describe the health care in those six months while you were in the, it was a camp hospital?

BI: Uh-huh.

TI: What was that like?

BI: Well, you know, it was just a barrack with beds, and well, for a while they put me in a private room, but I can't remember too much, just being there.

TI: Now, were the personnel, were they Caucasian or Japanese?

BI: Japanese.

TI: So the doctors and nurses were...

BI: Japanese, uh-huh.

TI: And so you said you were pregnant, so did you deliver your second child?

BI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And what, what was the name of your second child?

BI: Glenna.

TI: Okay, so any, any, now that you're back with the Seattle people, were there any, again, any comments about the trial? Did people bring it up?

BI: [Shakes head]

TI: But people knew about this, right? I mean, they just --

BI: Well, I would think so, but it was never mentioned.

TI: It was never mentioned.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Okay, so you're in Minidoka, and then let's... so what happened next, after you delivered Glenna?

BI: Well, then shortly afterwards, Ken decided that he wanted to leave camp, and they were recruiting farm help. And so he went out to the sugar beet fields, and of course he couldn't take that kind of (physical labor). And then came back in and then went out again, got a leave to leave, and went towards Sacramento. By that time, Sacramento people were going back to Sacramento, so he went out back there to help the evacuees.

TI: And during this time, what was, I'm curious what your older brother was doing, Taki. Was he in camp, and was he...

BI: They were in camp, but they left camp. My brother's wife had a friend that had a farm in Idaho, somewhere in Idaho, and so they went to his ranch or farm, can't remember. So they left camp and left Mother and Dad in camp, and they, my brother and his wife and the children went to Idaho.

TI: Okay, I just wanted to follow up on that. Going back to your husband, was he ever drafted for the U.S. army?

BI: No.

TI: And why, why was that?

BI: I don't know.

TI: Hmm, okay. So he's in Sacramento helping farmers and Japanese sort of reestablish themselves, and then what happened? What was the next thing that happened?

BI: Then they wanted to close the camp, and of course, he didn't, he didn't know what to do. He was helping those people, he couldn't practice law in California, but he didn't want to go back to Washington. So they kept closing one block after another and I would move from one block to the next because everybody else was leaving. And many of the people in camp wondered if, if Ken was ever gonna come after me. [Laughs] He finally came and said that, that we were going to Los Angeles. And so my brother-in-law was living in camp, same camp.

TI: And this is Henry again?

BI: Yeah, Henry. So Henry helped me move from camp to L.A.

TI: Because Ken went ahead to...

BI: Yeah, Ken went ahead to see if he could find a place to live.

TI: Where did your parents go after, after camp?

BI: They went back to Bellevue.

TI: And you said earlier that you didn't want to go back to Washington?

BI: Well, no, I don't remember... I didn't care where I went as long as I got out of camp. I was willing to go, only I didn't want to go to Japan. I thought if I go to Japan I'll be really isolated, and you know Japanese, they stay out all night and the wife is left home. And I thought that was not the life for me. I didn't want to be left alone in a foreign country. [Laughs]

TI: Well, how did you feel about going to the big city, Los Angeles? Here you're a Bellevue girl, and now you're, you're gonna move to Los Angeles.

BI: That didn't bother me at all. I was just glad to be able to get out of camp.

TI: So you, you go to Los Angeles, and during this period, were there a lot of other Japanese and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles?

BI: Yes, they were all coming back.

TI: And so describe that. What was the community like in Los Angeles?

BI: Well, you know, when I came to Los Angeles, I thought we were gonna live in Los Angeles. But the housing was, there was such a shortage of housing, we landed up in Long Beach in a trailer court. And at that time, it was about an hour's drive on the red car from L.A. to where we were living, and Ken had his office in Los Angeles. (Narr. note: The red car was similar to a street car or train.)

TI: So in the Little Tokyo area?

BI: Yeah, in Little Tokyo. And so he'd leave in the morning and wouldn't get home until midnight, very late. And here I'm left there with the two kids in a trailer, and that went on for about six months. And that was almost worse than camp, because I was alone there. Henry had another trailer there in the same camp, but raising those two kids in a trailer house. And now we're on our own, we have to buy our own groceries and whatnot. And they had a community laundry but everybody was using laundry and sometimes the machine was broken, and it was raining, there was no place to hang your laundry. That went on for six months and I thought, "Oh, to heck with this." And then my brother-in-law (Jim Inouye), my (sister Hatsumi's) husband, they were in Manzanar. But his wife and children went back to Bellevue, and he stayed in L.A. Well, he came back to L.A., so he was a, had a very successful business in Los Angeles, and he came back I guess with the idea that maybe he could pick up that business again, but he ended up as a houseboy. And for six, well, I guess for the last six months he did that, and then he decided he was going to Seattle. So I said, he came and said he was going to Seattle, so I said, "Oh, you're going to Seattle? When are you going?" He said, "Tomorrow or day after," or something. I said, "Wait, wait for me, I'm going to go with you." [Laughs]

TI: 'Cause you were tired of living in a trailer park alone, and going back to -- well, because your family had the farm.

BI: Yeah, uh-huh. So I told Ken, "I'm leaving with Jim." And he was a little shocked that I was leaving, but I left. We drove, he drove his car with the two kids and went to Bellevue. Of course, Bellevue, his wife was there, they were living in the old house, and then my sister-in-law was in the new house with her three kids, and then my two kids. And that wasn't a picnic either, so Jim found a place in Seattle and he moved his family to Seattle. So I went there for a while, but he had two kids and I thought, the kids were always, they don't always get along, you know, like adults, so I thought, "Oh, God." Couldn't stand that either, and then Ken wrote and said he found a house in Los Angeles, and that he wanted me to come back. So I decided to go back to Los Angeles.

TI: Before we go to Los Angeles, what was, what kind of shape was the farm in, in Bellevue when you, when the family --

BI: It was pretty bad. My brother had leased it to, I think it was some Italians. And when they got back, the hothouse glasses, glass was broken and then the tractor was gone, and it was pretty, pretty bad shape. So they didn't farm very long after that.

TI: So they sold the land, and then what?

BI: Uh-huh, they sold the land, and they built a house near, closer to Renton.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So you returned to Los Angeles, to the house, you had a house there. And where in Los Angeles was that?

BI: In Boyle Heights where there were a lot of Japanese.

TI: Okay. So how was that?

BI: Well, it was okay, and my neighbor, two neighbors were Japanese. And Ken was busy, he was studying for his bar exam, he said, well, it may be six months or longer before he gets his license. But fortunately he got it much sooner. I put the children in a nursery school -- well, yeah, it was a nursery school, and I went to work in a sewing factory. And did that for a while until he got established. We were there about two years, and then he had a big case and was able to build a house. So we looked for a house to buy, but didn't see anything. I wanted to, I wanted to move where there weren't too many Japanese. I said, "I've had enough of Japanese, I want to get away from them." You know, they're very gossipy and urusai. So I said I wanted to go where there aren't too many Japanese. So we moved to Alhambra (in 1950), there was only one Japanese family there. (I have no regrets moving to Alhambra.) But we had looked in West L.A., and I just, I just didn't like it. So we looked for a house to buy out in Alhambra and around, but they wouldn't sell it to a Japanese. And so we decided, well, if we can find a lot, we'll build. And we found a lot, but they wouldn't sell to Japanese. So we had our contractor buy the property, and then the contractor, bought the property from the contractor and built the house. And then when the neighbors found out Japanese were going to, "Japs" were going to occupy the house, they got up a petition to keep us out. And so there was, it was in the Pasadena newspaper about this petition, and they called me and asked me if I had changed my mind about moving there. And I said, "Absolutely not." I said, "I have a right to live where I want to live, " and they said, "Oh." They hung up. [Laughs] (Narr. note: Another reason for not wanting to live among Japanese: three years or more living so close to them and never feeling really comfortable; didn't make any close friends in Tule Lake. In Minidoka, Jack and Dorothy Yamaguchi were my closest friends. Saw Chika Takahashi, Charles T. Takahashi's wife, but she was in another block. Other people were usually from the same community so they felt comfortable with them. In both Tule Lake and Minidoka we lived at the very end. It was 1 mile to the administration building and 1 mile to my parents' barrack. Mother walked to my barrack when I was pregnant and in the hospital. Ken made a stroller for Ayleen, but it was too cold, too hot, too dusty or too windy to walk with her very far. When I was pregnant in Minidoka, the administration picked me up in a truck to go to the hospital, and Ken made a tray for me in the mess hall and brought it to me to eat in the barrack.)

TI: And so after you moved in, how did the neighbors treat you?

BI: Some of the neighbors were very kind, they were very nice. Others... the instigator didn't talk to us for a while, but years later, I was, had taken the kids to school and was walking back, and I saw Mrs. Seymour at my front door. I thought, "Oh, gee, I wonder what she wants," because she's never come to our house before. So when I got into the house I called her and asked -- she had gone back -- so I called her, she lived across the street so I called her and I said, "I saw you leaving my house. Was there something I could do for you?" And she said, "No, Mrs. Ito. This morning I woke up and decided it was time for me to apologize," for what she had done to start the petition. So I said, "Oh, well, that's very kind of you, but don't worry about it. We've been friends, we've, there is no hard feelings."

TI: But how did that make you feel when you got that phone call and talked to her? Or you, you called her and talked to her?

BI: Nothing. You know, those things didn't bother me.

TI: In a similar vein, did anyone from the Japanese community ever, years later, talk about maybe apologizing for not supporting you during the trial or anything like that?

BI: No.

TI: During all this time, so your husband established a successful practice. Did he ever reminisce about the trial or talk about that?

BI: We never talked about it; we never talked about it.

TI: Do you, do you sense that the trial, though, stayed with him in some ways?

BI: I'm sure, I'm sure.

TI: And how, how do you think it stayed with him? What do you think, how did the trial affect him?

BI: You know, there were times when it became very quiet. And, and I wondered if he was thinking about... well, at first I thought it was something I did, that he was unhappy about something. But I realized that he must have, some flashback must have occurred, and became quiet and acted sort of depressed. One time we had an argument and I said to him, "Well, they say jailbirds never..." I can't think of the word. Well, "they never reform." [Laughs] He kind of laughed, but that's the only time we ever talked about his experience. (Narr. note: At times he became very quiet and looked depressed. I'm sure when things weren't going as well as he wanted -- he must have thought of his past and that dream he was not able to attain. When Ayleen was doing a paper on him for school and was asking him questions, he started pacing the floor and actually turned pale.)

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: Thinking back to your life and the things that have happened, what have you learned from, from this? When you think about sort of being put into these very difficult situations, you've done nothing wrong and you're put into these, you and your husband are put into difficult situations, anything that, any learning that you can share?

BI: Well, I think, I think politics really turned me off. For a long time, every time I saw a Caucasian, I'd get a feeling of some resentments. Not that they had anything to do with it, but kind of a flashback. I thought, "All these white trash people think they're so great." [Laughs]

TI: How about your feelings towards the, the Japanese community over these years, that you wanted to move kind of away from it.

BI: I never felt very close to them. See, I grew up on a farm, but we were surrounded by Caucasians. My best friends were Caucasians. As a matter of fact, one of my best friends that lived near the farm has sent me Christmas cards every year. Now, that's sixty years. Well, not during camp, but when I moved to California, she's been sending me Christmas cards. And you know, we were very close. We spent most of the time together at her house and ate cookies and whatnots at her place. So I... I feel almost closer to some of those people than I do to the Japanese community that didn't help me out at all. Didn't give me any moral support.

TI: No, I can see, I can understand that. Trying to think. We've covered a lot of territory. Is there anything else that you want to talk about in this? I mean, I've asked all the questions I have on my list, and I'm just trying to think if there's anything else that I'm leaving out that we should talk about.

BI: Well, I can't think of anything right now.

TI: Let me make sure. So did you just have two children?

BI: No, and then I had two boys.

TI: Okay, two boys. So let's talk about that just a little bit. So when were they born?

BI: They, the first boy was born the year we moved into Alhambra.

TI: Okay, so that's, what year, early '50s?

BI: Yeah, uh-huh. (August 1950.)

TI: And his name is?

BI: Clyde Ron.

TI: Okay. And then another one after Clyde?

BI: Was Brad.

TI: Brad. And do you know when he was born?

BI: About five years later. (December 1954.)

TI: So kind of like '56 or so? 1955, '56? Okay. And grandchildren, do you have grandchildren?

BI: Oh yes. I have four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

TI: Wow, six great-grandchildren.

BI: Yeah.

TI: That's, that's pretty impressive. Where are your great-grandchildren?

BI: Well, let's see. Randall, Ayleen's son, is in Los Angeles, and her daughter is in Davis, which is close to Sacramento. And then my second daughter passed away when she was forty and left two children, and her son is in Los Angeles and her daughter is in Redwood City.

TI: Now, how much do your children and grandchildren know about this incident in Seattle right after, after the war started, in terms of the trial of your husband? Do they know much about this? I know Ayleen knows a little bit.

BI: Well, I think, I think Ayleen's son, her son is a lawyer, so I think he knows. And I'm sure the daughter must know a little bit. But the other one, I doubt if they know very much.

TI: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It was a pleasure getting to know you.

BI: Well, it was nice meeting you. I don't know if this is, amount to much, but it was kind of nice to go back and think about all the things that have happened.

TI: Well, and I, and I really appreciate it because I realize this was a painful time that we talked about, and I so appreciate you sharing that. So on behalf of Densho, thank you so much.

BI: Well, you're welcome. [Laughs]

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.