Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fumi Kaseguma Interview
Narrator: Fumi Kaseguma
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-kfumi-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: And so today is Tuesday, November 6, 2007. We're at the Grand Nugget -- Golden Nugget? Golden Nugget. [Laughs] Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, and we're here on the first day of the 2007 Minidoka Reunion. And so the first question I'd like to ask is what was the name given to you at birth?

FK: Fumiko Sasaki.

TI: And what was the date and location of your birth?

FK: My birthdate is April 20, 1924, Portland, Oregon.

TI: And do you, did you have any brothers or sisters?

FK: Yes, I had an older brother, Sam.

TI: And how much older was Sam than you?

FK: Oh, about six years.

TI: Okay.

FK: And I had an older sister, about, I think she was about three years older.

TI: And what was her name?

FK: Yayoi, which is Y-A-Y-O-I.

TI: And you were the third.

FK: Right, I was the, the youngest.

TI: The baby of the family, okay. And tell me your father's name and where he was from.

FK: Kaichi, it was K-A-I-C-H-I, and Sasaki. He was born in Hiroshima, Japan.

TI: Now, do you know why he left Japan to come to the United States?

FK: Well, I think like everybody else, you know, they thought maybe they can get better living over here, I'm sure.

TI: And do you know what kind of work his family did in Japan?

FK: No, I don't, I really don't.

TI: Okay, let's talk about your mother. What was your mother's name?

FK: Miye, M-I-Y-E. Uchida was her maiden name.

TI: Uchida. And where was she from in Japan?

FK: Hiroshima.

TI: And how did your father and mother meet?

FK: I think it's a picture wedding.

TI: Oh, so she was a picture bride?

FK: Yeah.

TI: And so your, your dad was already in the United States?

FK: And I think he went, no, I think he got married and brought her back.

TI: Okay, so he did that.

FK: And he, he was quite a bit older. I think he was about fifteen years older than her.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So do you know about when your father came to the United States?

FK: That I really... let's see. My brother was born six years before, '24.

TI: Yeah, so it'd be 1918 would be about your brother's...

FK: Yeah, so it must have been year before, somewhere around there, maybe it's 1917? I'm not sure.

TI: So that's probably when your mother came, probably.

FK: Yeah, I'm not sure.

TI: Okay. Now, why, why Portland? What was happening in Portland for him to go there?

FK: For him? I guess there must have been a job. But the first thing he did was work in the railroad, you know, like a lot of the Issei men did. And then they moved into town, and we ran a cleaning, cleaning and laundry shop, you know, those, that kind of business for quite a few years until he passed away.

TI: And so describe to me the part, or the location in Portland that the, this business was.

FK: Oh, it's a little ways, not too far away from the Japanese town, Japanese and Chinatown that, in Portland.

TI: So do you recall any of the, like, streets nearby?

FK: Oh, yeah, we were, we were on Glisan Street, G-L-I-S-A-N. It was between Broadway and Park Avenue, I think. Park Avenue.

TI: And in this neighborhood, were there other, like, Japanese who lived in this...

FK: Oh, yeah, 'cause there was, above us was a hotel, and so someone was living, Japanese were living up there. And there were quite a few in that area. They had either hotels or cleaning shop, grocery store, that type of thing. And it wasn't too far from Japanese town, so I used to have to go down there to shop for my mother, you know.

TI: And so how would you go down? Would you take a...

FK: No, just walk.

TI: Okay, so it was pretty close.

FK: Well, we all walked in those days, Tom. [Laughs]

TI: So, what kind of shopping would you do in Japantown that you couldn't do in your neighborhood?

FK: Well, they had... well, see, they had a fish market like Seattle, you know, and like Uwajimaya type of, I think it was Furuya Company where they, where they sold Japanese products. So I was usually sent there. And they used to have a meat market, too, where they, you know, just, everything was chopped right there.

TI: And so about how old were you when you'd make these excursions?

FK: Oh, I was quite young.

TI: Like about how, how old, do you think?

FK: Oh, maybe twelve, thirteen.

TI: See, this is the thing that always, I tell my kids. It's always amazing to me how much the Niseis had to do at such a young age, that my kids, when they were twelve, I mean, we didn't even let them play on the streets by themselves.

FK: Yeah, well, times were different, too.

TI: Watching, and here your, your parents were sending you to do a different part of town to go shopping and, with money, and coming back, things like that.

FK: Yeah, 'cause everything, it was pretty close, so, you know, we had to walk all the time. And we went to school walking, grade school, and we went to Japanese school every evening for one hour.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So, let's talk a little bit about school. Do you remember the name of the school, what school you went to?

FK: Yeah. From first to, first to third grade, we went to a school near, closer to me called Atkinson, A-T-K-I-N-S-O-N. But that school was demolished, so then third grade, I moved to Couch, but it's spelled "Couch." C-O-U-C-H.

TI: And so when you think of your classmates, what was kind of the racial composition of your, of your class?

FK: Oh, there were, see, three, three of us Japanese girls, but they were all Caucasians. And I don't remember any black people, especially in that Couch school. Now, Atkinson school was mostly Asians, but Couch school was a little farther, and it was more Caucasians.

TI: And so growing up, who were your best friends? Were they Japanese, or were they...

FK: Oh, Japanese, most of us. We had, you know, at school, Couch school, our friends, we used to go over at lunchtime to their apartments and things, you know, but we never, socially, we didn't associate with them. I think it was like that with most of us.

TI: And so what would be, kind of, a, like, in the summertime, for instance, when you're not going to school...

FK: Oh.

TI: What would be, yeah, what would be kind of a typical day with your friends, when you could just...

FK: When I got older?

TI: Yeah, when you got older and you played and stuff. What would that be like?

FK: Well, during the day, since my mother had a shop, you know, I used to help her. But for one year, when I was about thirteen or fourteen, thirteen, maybe, we were sent to the farm to pick berries, just like here. And my girlfriend, we had to cook ourselves, and so my girlfriend and I were in the one bunk, you know, it was like a... and then everything was, you know, outhouse, and one sink in the middle of the, the cabins, and the bath, bathtub was like a Japanese bathtub, you know, things like that. We went one year, we picked, I picked strawberries and raspberries, and after that, I told my mother, "I'm not going again." [Laughs] Because we had to, we had to cook and everything. And when we were about thirteen, fourteen, and then so I promised my mother I would help at home, at the shop, so I did. Ironing, and doing different things that she needed to have done.

TI: But going back to this farm experience -- this is interesting to me. Was it common for Japanese kids to, to do this?

FK: Uh-huh.

TI: But they, but rather than going on a daily basis, they would actually stay on the farm.

FK: Right.

TI: And where was the farm located?

FK: In Gresham, usually. I think that's where we were. Gresham and a place called Troutdale, too, but we were at Gresham.

TI: And so, to pick strawberries, how many, how many kids were there to pick, usually?

FK: Oh, gosh. There were quite a few. But in our cabin there must have been, I know my girlfriend's brothers were there, too, so there were quite a few. And I can't really say how many.

TI: So, when I was a kid, I picked strawberries, too. So generally, strawberry season started almost right after school ended, and it seemed like, like sort of in Seattle, kind of mid-June?

FK: June, yeah right.

TI: Is when it started, then you'd start with strawberries for a few weeks, and you would then transition to raspberries. Is that kind of the same?

FK: Yeah, and then they go to, well, blackberries, but not too, too many stayed for that.

TI: Yeah, we did, after raspberries, I think we did beans.

FK: Yeah, beans, too, yeah.

TI: Beans and then corn after that.

FK: Oh, really?

TI: So, if we wanted to, we could work all summer. But then we didn't have to stay. So I was curious, so, did they provide food for you to cook, or did you have to --

FK: No, we had to cook ourselves. But our parents, you know, the weekends, they come and they bring us food that we could, at least have food for the few days.

TI: And so was it, you didn't like it because it was hard work, or you were homesick, or what was...

FK: No, not homesick as much as, you know, working out in the field when you're not used to that.

TI: That sounds interesting. Again, I think about my kids today, and how much we spend on things like childcare and things like this. And I think of the Isseis, and they would send their kids out to the farm for weeks, and they would get paid. I mean, they'd actually make money.

FK: Right. But I was sent out to my mother's friend in Hood River, Oregon, had an orchard, and my brother was sent out there when he was a teenager. And so I was about eight years old, and my mother sent me out there with him, to stay with him, and I didn't work there, I just, just roamed around the orchard during the day and things like that. And I was there, and then one, first summer I was so homesick that I had to come home. [Laughs] But the next summer, I stayed, and Mrs. Tsuji, who was, later became a Japanese school teacher, but anyway, she asked me to... they cooked in the wooden stove, that wood, wooden stove. But she had two burners on the end, and so at lunchtime, she would send me to turn on the rice, and then I'm supposed to wait 'til it cooks, you know, lower it. But I was so scared, and I had this little dog with me -- their dog was, and I shut him in the house with me -- and I turned on the rice, and it soon as it came up, I turned it off and ran out of the house. [Laughs] The first time she said, she came back that evening, and the rice was still hard, you know. So she asked me, and I said, "Well, I just turned it off." So she had to re-cook it on the stove. It was real funny. So she never asked me after that to come back and...

TI: But you were only, what, nine years old?

FK: Eight.

TI: Eight or nine years old?

FK: Yeah.

TI: And again, that's amazing.

FK: So I stayed there... not all summer, I think about a month and a half or so with them, and they sort of took care of me, but that was the first experience away from home. [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So you said after the strawberry and raspberry season...

FK: That was before, after that, yeah.

TI: Right, after that, you told your mom that would work the shop, at the shop.

FK: Yeah.

TI: Describe the shop for me. What kind of work was done there?

FK: Well, she, the laundry part is, you know, mostly shirts and things. And the cleaner, cleaning part, you know, we sent it out to the Japanese, he did all the cleaning part of it.

TI: So, like dry cleaning part?

FK: Yeah, dry cleaning part. He had a, not a factory, but a place where he does all this cleaning for all these little shops like ours. And then we'd send it to him, he'd come and pick it up, and he'd clean it and bring it back, and then we'd, my mother, my dad had to start pressing all the pants and the suits and everything. So we had a big, you know, those pressing machines, and for sheets and things we had a big mangle, like, you know, that has to go through. And the shirts, we had to iron it. She had this heavy iron, I think, that came from Japan, and I used to help with that. And the shirts had to be all pressed, you know, and then you put this board in between and wrap, it was really fancy. And we had to do all that, so I helped with things like that.

TI: Now, how would you guys heat the iron back then?

FK: It was electric.

TI: Okay, electric. And then the cardboard, where would those come from? Would you just buy in bulk?

FK: Yeah, she buys, yeah, the cardboard and the, the one that goes through on the collar, yeah, they were all bought. And, but we had to put it together, you know, folding the arms and everything, so I used to help with that.

TI: And so describe your jobs.

FK: That's what I helped with, and then I sometimes --

TI: So the folding and putting the cardboard in?

FK: Yeah, and helping with some of the ironing, too. So she showed me how to iron the shirts.

TI: And so, like, how many hours a day would you have to do this?

FK: Oh, not, not very long. Just when, yeah, just when she needed, she needed the help, I did help.

TI: And so the customers of the shop, who would bring their clothes to be --

FK: Oh, all kinds of, mostly men, you know, of course. And not women; mostly men did. People who worked in offices, or anybody used to bring it there.

TI: And so mostly Japanese?

FK: No, no. They were all Caucasians.

TI: And so how would you guys get your customers? Would there be any promotion?

FK: Oh, they just come in. You know, like all these mom and pop shops here, it was just like that. Now, with the East Asians, you know, it was just like that. So people would just walk in and bring their things, and we'd take care of it. And shirts, cleaning was something like twenty-five cents for one shirt. [Laughs]

TI: No, I... that's amazing. So, just the neighborhood growing up, so you had to work a little bit, but it sounds like you had more time to do other things.

FK: Yeah.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Describe anything else about the neighborhood that you can recall, any memories.

FK: Oh, we, there was a city park close by. And when I was young, we used to go in the summertime to, they had activities, and, you know, they play softball and they had basket weaving and things like that. So I used to do that when I was younger.

TI: How about --

FK: And then --

TI: Oh, so go ahead.

FK: But as I, became teenagers, and we had, you know, joined clubs.

TI: So what, what kind of clubs?

FK: Well, my mother, my folks were Nichiren Buddhists, and they, they had a club there, a women's club, and there were quite a few of us Portland girls. And so we all, we had activities, and it was called the Risho Club, and the, there was the same club in Seattle. And we, I remember we had a conference one time, and all the Seattle people came, girls came down to Portland. And I still remember them when we evacuated and things like that.

TI: So, when the Seattle group came down to Portland, how did the two groups get along?

FK: Fine.

TI: Did you, did you think of, anything, difference that... when you think of Seattle back then, was Seattle, like, more of a sister city type of thing, or how did you think about Seattle and Seattle people?

FK: Well, it was just like us, you know. It wasn't, no difference. We all got along fine.

TI: So, so again, going back to this club, what would be some of the activities that you would do in this club?

FK: Well, we, I think most of, well, most of the time, it was, you know, having dances or things like that. And then it wasn't really associated with the -- it was associated with the church, but it wasn't like a religious club or anything like that. It was more like a social club. And you know Shea Aoki? Well, Shea was our president then.

TI: Oh, I didn't realize she was Portland.

FK: Uh-huh. She was Portland, and she was also in, she was the president of the Risho Club. Can you imagine that?

TI: I can't. [Laughs]

FK: She was a lot older, but we were, we had a lot of girls, you know, nice-looking girls, too. [Laughs]

TI: I'll get to that later, when we talk about Minidoka. But growing up in Portland, how about, like, Japanese community events like Obon and things like that?

FK: Oh, yeah.

TI: Did they have things like that?

FK: Oh, sure. We had -- you know, all the churches did, of course. And in fact, when I was young, I, my mother gave me, I went, I had piano lessons and Japanese classical dancing lessons.

TI: Going back to the Obon festivals, you said all the churches had those. Was there, like, one main one, or were they all kind of small?

FK: No, there were, they were all at the church itself, you know, the church members, and people came to watch, of course. But then all the church members, each church was, had their different Obon dances.

TI: So it would be similar to what happens in Seattle at the, the Buddhist Church in Seattle, the Betsuin there? Did they have, like, a street dance on the outside?

FK: Yeah, right. But in those days, we all wore kimonos -- not kimonos, but...

TI: Yukata...

FK: Yukata, yukata-type of things. And so it was pretty. It wasn't like everybody joined in wearing anything, so it was really pretty, that type of thing.

TI: And how about, like, picnics? Did you have, like, kenjinkai picnics and things like that?

FK: Yeah. There was, just like here. And then the Japanese school, too, also had picnics.

TI: Now, for, like, picnics in Portland, was there kind of a standard place that people would go?

FK: Yeah, they used to go out to this place called Johnson Creek, and it was, it was really a farm where they used to keep, you know, cows and things like that, so there were a lot of you-know-what in the fields. [Laughs] But that's where they had it, and they'd sort of clear it up and then the Isseis would, we'd have races, races and all kinds of things like that. When we were young, it was a lot of fun.

TI: Now, why did they do this at Johnson Creek? This wasn't like a standard park, this was more...

FK: No, it wasn't a park, it was... well, because I don't, I think in those days, there wasn't... in Portland I don't, I can't recall too many places where they could have it in town. It was a little ways, we used to take the streetcar and go out there.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So, so I'm going to switch gears a little bit and talk more about your family now. Tell me about your mother. What was she like?

FK: Oh, she was a, to me, she was very intelligent, and she worked hard. She was a very, she was an excellent cook, so I never was, cooked at home when I was young. But I learned a lot from her. And she went to, where they taught English, she tried to learn English, and then she also went to cooking class where this Japanese chef was teaching how to cook American type of food. I mean like roasting turkeys and making pies. So she went to all that, and then she used to, and then she, in those days, everybody canned everything, remember? I mean, you won't remember, but we couldn't, we didn't buy things. Everything was made at home. And when, I remember the time, one time, when my dad bought this chicken, a live chicken, and we had... back of our shop, we had a little, where they kept, she kept the, they kept the firewood where the shed was. And there's a big block where he'd chop the, the wood. And he put this chicken there and chopped the head off. And the chicken was chopping, running around and I was so scared, and then my mother would sit there and pluck it and clean it up. They did all these things which we, we never had to do. It's amazing what the Isseis did, really. And I think a lot of 'em did that. But I actually saw that, too. [Laughs]

TI: Now, when the two of you would talk, would it be in Japanese?

FK: Uh-huh.

TI: And how was that in growing up? Because especially, I'm thinking, when you're, like, in junior high school and you're starting to grow up and you have all these questions. Did you have those conversations with your mother at that time, or what kind of communication did you have with your mom?

FK: Oh, it was, it was just, most of the time it was about family and, or anything that we had to do. But she was very, especially when I was going to Japanese school, she, she helped me a lot. Because she was pretty intelligent, and then she used to work, what she used to do is she used to work all day, which I could never do, and then, then she'd, after dinner, and she'd put all of, after we all went to bed, and then she'd relax and take a bath, and then she'd read. She read all kinds of things, then she'd read 'til one or two o'clock. She loved to read. And then she'd get up at six o'clock in the morning, and then get us off to school. But the Isseis were, I think they were very amazing.

TI: No, I agree. So, what about your father? What was your father like?

FK: Well, he was very quiet. He really didn't say too much, but he worked hard. He was just that Issei type of a man, I guess. But he really treated me well, I guess because I was the youngest, you know. I always remember that.

TI: And so how would that come about? When you say he treated you really nicely, I mean, sort of like spoil you or give you, like, extra things, or how would that show?

FK: No, not anything like that. It was just, just his actions and his, you know, towards me, talking to me and everything like that.

TI: So, and then your older brother, Sam, what was, what was he like?

FK: Oh, he was, he was the... how would I say it? He was nice, too, you know. He was a good brother. But one sad thing was he couldn't go to college because my dad passed away when I was fifteen, yeah. No, wait a minute, fourteen, fourteen, I think. And so my mother, after that, she had to sell the, you know, sell the shop, and she worked for someone else. So anyway, my brother knew that he couldn't go to college because, you know, in those days, it wasn't like here, you could go from home to the U. We had to go down to Corvallis or Eugene, and so you had that board and room problem, too. So he knew he couldn't go, so had, he worked since he was about eighteen years old. First he worked at the grocery store, you know, for these people, and then he stayed there and he made a living that way until evacuation.

TI: And so did he help support the family with his wages, too, or was it pretty much he was just trying to...

FK: No, he didn't have to support the family at that time because we had the business.

TI: But then after your father died, though, at that point, did he have to help?

FK: I'm sure he did. My mother, well, we, I never felt that I, I was poor or anything, because we always had food and I always had clothes, you know, she would sew for us. And so that part, I know we weren't rich or anything, we all, pretty poor compared to these days. But then we didn't feel that. I mean, I didn't.

TI: And then your older sister, what was she doing?

FK: Well, she was handicapped, so my mother more or less took care of her until she passed away.

TI: And so what, what kind of handicap did she have?

FK: Well, she was... how would I say it? Mentally so, you know. Is it a retardation...

TI: And so how, yeah, how did the community look upon that? Was that a difficult thing back then in terms of...

FK: Well, it was sort of difficult for me at that time. I shouldn't have been, but I accepted it, and I used to take care of her. We, I used to do things for her, and take care of her hair and things like that.

TI: And then you said she passed away?

FK: Yeah, she passed away soon after the war. But my mother took care of her all that time.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So let's now jump to December 7, 1941. And how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

FK: I think, it was a Sunday, I think it was, and we were at a basketball game. And on the way home, I think it was on the way home, or just before we got on the bus, and we heard about it. So we all hurried home, and then listened to the radio, you know, that's all we had to listen, and so we were kind of shocked. Didn't know, my mother or the Isseis didn't know what was gonna happen, you know. But soon, soon after that, it was very evident that, you know, there was a lot of discrimination. But at the school, in the school, we didn't feel that way, while we were still going.

TI: So talk about that. So the next day is Monday, you go to school, what happened? Did anything happen out of the ordinary?

FK: No. To me, myself, there didn't seem to be anything extraordinary or anything like that. I didn't feel it, anyway.

TI: Let's see, you were about seventeen years old, about that time?

FK: Yeah.

TI: And so you were what, like a junior in high school?

FK: No, I was, no I was a senior, 'cause I turned eighteen in April, so I was a senior. And what happened was when I went to Japan, we were delayed, and we didn't get home 'til, it was the start of my senior year, and I didn't get home 'til November. So in those days, you used to be able to go back to school in January, the semester started from September to end of December, and then January to June. So I got back in school in June. And that's why I went to Minidoka to catch up the one credit that I had to get.

TI: Oh, that's interesting.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: But before we go there, so, in the summer, is it the summer between your junior and senior year, you went to Japan? Is that when you went to Japan?

FK: Right.

TI: And what was the occasion for going to Japan? Why Japan?

FK: Oh, my dad had passed away a couple years before that, so the relatives wanted my mother to bring back half of the ashes so they could bury it there, you know how they do in Japan. And so we took it, we took it back, not realizing that war was so imminent. Anyway, we went right after school, and we were gonna come back end of August, but they froze, remember they froze all these assets in July here, the Japanese assets. Anyway, there was no ship going or coming, so we couldn't get back. But in, so I thought we were gonna stuck, be stuck there, which was very frustrating for me. But end of October, I think it was, they only gave us about three days. They said the Hikawa-maru was leaving from Yokohama to come to Seattle, and if anybody wanted to go back, to get, make arrangements right away. So I was in Tokyo with my mother's friend, and she was taking me around sightseeing at that time. So I ran, rushed over to Yokohama and made arrangements at the American consulate, we had to go over there. And so we got on, on the boat, but they told us that they didn't guarantee us that we'd get here. So it was real eerie, because as soon as we got here, we were lucky enough to get here to Seattle, and they took all of us off, all the baggages off, and right after that, the boat had to leave. And then coming over here, we couldn't open the portholes, anything, it was just kept dark, I don't know, probably because air raids or whatever. And, but we got back, so we were lucky. But when I was in Japan, then I realized the war was really imminent as far as the Japanese were concerned.

TI: Yeah, that's what I wanted to ask you about. So in the United States when I talk to people, they were, like, totally surprised...

FK: Right.

TI: ...that there would be war with Japan. In Japan, it sounds like, they were...

FK: To me, it seemed like it, yeah.

TI: ...ready, or they knew that something was gonna happen.

FK: And Niseis were not that welcomed over there in those days. And especially when I was there and Mrs., this Mrs. Matsura, anyway, she, my mother's friend, took me around Kamakura, you know. And in those days, they had a horse and buggy, and so she put me on there, and we were going around. And these young kids came around and they called us foreigners, you know, gaijin, and "Get out," and I was so scared. And then she told me, Mrs. Matsura says, "Well, just be calm, don't, just ignore them." And she did, she told me to do that, so I just sat there quietly but it was really scary. I mean, that's how they were. And then...

TI: Now, how would they know that you were...

FK: The way, well, we had dresses, you know, I guess it was the clothes, the type of clothes we wear. Right away, and she was a, sort of a stylish woman anyway, but it was, I was scared. [Laughs] And then I had a girlfriend in Kobe who had gone back to Japan not too long before that, and when I was in Osaka with my uncle's place, I took a ride over there. She told me to come and visit her, so went over there and spent the whole day. And halfway back, returning the air raid siren goes on, and everything, you know, the train didn't stop, they put all the curtains, you know, they put all those black drapes and curtains down, and the whole city went black. But the train got into the station in Osaka and I didn't know what to do. I thought, "Now, shall I walk home? What am I gonna do?" If I walk home I was gonna be arrested or what. [Laughs] But I walked home, well, to where Uncle's home was, 'cause it wasn't too far from the station. And they were just worried where I was, I was at the time. But that's the things, those are the things that happened. And so I knew that something was gonna happen.

TI: Now, the air raid, when that goes off, air raid siren, who, who would they... who would be attacking Japan at that point?

FK: Well, I assumed it must be the Americans.

TI: So they were, so was it like... what's the right word, a drill, or is the real, they thought that it was real?

FK: Well, their practice, it's a drill, but it's like, if it's the real thing coming, you know. So the whole city goes black, it was real eerie. [Laughs]

TI: Did you ever talk to anyone while you were in Japan about a possible war between Japan and the United States?

FK: No, because you know, we were, I was still a senior in high school, and none of us here expected anything like that, no. But the funny thing, another thing that happened when we reached Japan, see, my mother and this other lady had, from the Nichiren Church, they were donating... I can't remember exactly what, but I think bandages and different things for the people in Japan, you know, to take to the main church, Nichiren Church. It was near Fujiyama Mountain, and so from, when we reached there, to Tokyo, we stayed at the hotel, and they were gonna, we took a train to that place, you know, wasn't too far from there. And then there was a knock on the hotel room, and these two men come in and started questioning my mother, just questioning her about why we're coming there and where we're going and, "What are you taking up there?" And my mother answered all the questions, it was like an FBI. And then same thing happened to this other lady. And so we got on the plane -- train, and there they were, somebody was following us all the way to the, to the, you know, the main Nichiren, where the church or temple. And it was, I just thought, "Now, what is going on?" So it was really, all the way through, while I was there, I thought that something was going to happen, and it surely did. It was really eerie.

TI: So when you were in Japan, who'd you stay with?

FK: Well, we, my mother had a brother at that time in Osaka, so we stayed there. And then Hiroshima is where she had a sister, a younger sister, so we stayed there, too.

TI: And do you recall your mother having any conversations with her siblings about possible war? Did she ever talk about that, like what other people were saying?

FK: That I don't know. I never I listened to, but I'm sure, I'm sure something was said, you know. They must have known in Japan.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: And so during this time, when it looked like it was hard to book a transit back to the United States, was your mother anxious? Did she try and, want to get back, or was she okay with staying in Japan?

FK: Well, she wasn't as frustrated as I was, I don't think, because, you know, she was born there and raised there. But she said if I really wanted to come back, there was this Buddhist minister, was on the trip there, too. And there were, there were some people thinking of going to Shanghai because the President Line was still running at that time, I think there was one boat. And so she said that I could go with him, my brother was still here, and that I could stay with him and finish school until something, you know, if the war broke out or something like that, if something happened. And so I said, "Well, that's fine." So she talked to him and everything, well then, in the meantime, this happened, they broadcast over the radio that they're sending one ship back to Seattle, so we got back. But there were these girls that came on our ship from California, they were from, there were some from Sacramento, in that area. And they were in Shanghai, they actually went over there. But then they went over there and they found out there was a ship from... so they came back right away on the ship, and then they got on at the last minute.

TI: And so when you were on the ship coming back, did you talk with anyone about their experiences in the sense of an impending war with the United States or anything like that?

FK: No, we didn't. I guess... well, when you're younger, you really don't think about, at that time anyway, none of us talked about it. And besides, everybody was sick. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, just seasick?

FK: Yeah, the sea was so rough, it was November. And, but I never got sick, so I was up all the time, you know. And the very few of us were up all the time eating, but most of them were all sick. 'Cause it takes about, oh, it took about ten days to come, to travel from here to Japan.

TI: Well, I think you're, it was probably one of the last ships to make it back to the United States from Japan.

FK: Yeah. Because the Tatsuta-maru that I said coming, the second ship had to turn back. That was really sad. You know Yoshi Mamiya?

TI: Yes.

FK: Well, Yoshi's mother and sister were on that boat. They didn't get onto the first boat, it was too late, so they were, they got onto the one to California. They had to turn back, and so they had to spend the whole wartime in Japan and it was really rough, I think. That's what Yoshi was saying.

TI: So when you got back to Portland, did you, did you still think that there might be war, or what did you think after you got back to the United States? Because this was November, this was still before December 7th.

FK: Right, but I didn't think it was, they were going to attack us like that.

TI: That was interesting. Well, thank you for doing this.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So let's go back to December 7th, you said you went to a basketball game, you went home.

FK: Heard it all over the radio.

TI: Yeah, did you talk at all with your, your mother about what was going on?

FK: Yeah, we talked about it, you know. She would say, oh, she was so disgusted, too, you know, and disappointed. And the thing was that they didn't know what was going to happen after that, but we certainly found out soon after that what was going to happen to all of us.

TI: Well, what did you think was going to happen during this, right after Pearl Harbor? What did you think?

FK: Well, gosh, I really don't remember exactly what I thought, but I think most of us were shocked about it, shocked, but we didn't ever think that we were gonna be put in a, a camp like that, be segregated into a camp or anything like that. We might, we thought we'd be facing a lot of segregation, you know, in town, but we never thought that we would have to evacuate like that.

TI: And so you mentioned right after Pearl Harbor, going back to school, things didn't really change that much.

FK: No, as far as...

TI: Did it, as those weeks went on, did it change at all, or was it still about the same?

FK: Well, I'm sure it did for people with business. Well, see, because by that -- well, we didn't have the business by then, so it was all right, but I'm sure it did. But we were still going to school, and you know, as far as my classmates, they weren't any different to me at that time, so I didn't feel that.

TI: Well, eventually there was notices put up that all persons of Japanese ancestry would need to leave Portland. So describe what Portland was like during that time for you and others.

FK: Well, I think the people who had businesses, it was kind of rough because they didn't know... well, homes, too, if they had homes, they didn't know whether to sell it or leave it. But I think most of them, if they had homes, I'm sure, I think they sold it. Because they didn't go back to their home after the war. And the businesses, too, they just gave it up, I think most of them that I know.

TI: And how about your family? What kind of things did you have to do to get ready?

FK: Well, see, my mother was widowed, we didn't really have much, we were in an apartment. So as far as we were concerned... but I had, we had to sell our, my piano and things like that, you know. But she, Nichiren Church where we stayed at the very end before the evacuation, it was close to the Nichiren Church. So the members stored most of their possessions or whatever they wanted to keep there. But most of them got rid of whatever they had, but whatever they wanted to keep, they put it in a trunk or whatever and then stored it at church. So that was there after the war.

TI: In that time after Pearl Harbor and before you were removed, the FBI came through and picked up a lot of the Issei men who were leaders in the community. Was that happening in Portland also?

FK: Oh, sure.

TI: And so describe what you knew about that, and what it...

FK: Well, it didn't affect us, so I really don't know. But my girlfriend's father was, Mr. Oyama was a publisher of the Japanese newspaper, he was taken and some of these leaders, you know, in the Japanese community, they were all taken. That's about all I know. Most of those men were all taken just like Seattle.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so Portland, you probably had to go to some meeting place to be picked up. Describe where that was and how you were taken to the assembly center.

FK: Now, where did we meet? We must have met at the church or something like that. They picked us up on the bus and then took us to the Portland Assembly Center. And then we were all locked up in there 'til September. But it was, you know, most of us young people didn't feel the effects as much as... I guess because we didn't have to lose all our possessions or anything like that. So none of us, I don't think, felt it as much as I'm sure the Isseis and the people, young, young adults who had children, I'm sure it was rough for them. Because they just put plyboard over the ground, and then sectioned off, like Puyallup, the rooms were all just sectioned off, and everybody, just a canvas door and cots.

TI: So what was the, the Portland Assembly Center, what was that before it became an assembly center?

FK: It was a livestock exposition area, so they had, they showed the livestock in there. So it wasn't a very pleasant place.

TI: Because I imagine the smells are pretty strong.

FK: Yeah. [Laughs]

TI: So do you remember those smells?

FK: I remember there were a lot of flies. They have these, in the huge dining room, they had all these, these flycatchers -- in those days, they had these, they hang these things, you know, where all the flies just come --

TI: Flypaper kind of stuff?

FK: Yeah. And then, and all attached to it, it was just black with flies. It was really a lot of flies in there.

TI: And so tell me about the food at Portland, what was that like? You mentioned the mess hall, do you have any memories of the food that you ate?

FK: It wasn't bad. It wasn't good, but you know, we all had to eat, so it wasn't bad. But everything was community, you know, community bathrooms, everything. It was... but, you know, the young people organized and started dances and things like that, and so we, we had lot of social things going on for the young people, which was kind of nice.

TI: And then for dances and stuff, what, did you play a role in putting them on, or what did you do?

FK: Well, I didn't do any... it was usually the, they had the older Niseis who would, you know, start community activities like this for all of us. And they played, they just played music, '41 music, and we all just danced.

TI: So at Portland in the Japanese and Japanese American community, who took charge inside, at Portland? Was there like a group that sort of became the leadership?

FK: Uh-huh.

TI: And who, and who were those people?

FK: Oh gosh, there was an advisory board, and I worked as a secretary to them, you know. They more or less handled lot of the, not only activities, but things that had to be done in camp, and they were leaders, too. There was... I don't think you know, you would know them, though. There was a Howard Nomura... let's see, what was his name? Uyesugi, Wesley, he called himself Wesley. And oh, Reverend, there was a reverend from Methodist Church, and Reverend Terakawa from the Buddhist Church, and people like that.

TI: And so were these Niseis or Isseis?

FK: They were Niseis, but so was Reverend Hayashi, I'm sure. I don't know about Reverend Terakawa, though. He might have been born in Japan. But those kind of people, they formed an advisory board for the whole camp. And I guess they handled a lot of the...

TI: And you were the, the secretary?

FK: Yes.

TI: So what does that mean? Did you go to their meetings and take notes?

FK: Well, I took notes, and they, things like that.

TI: And so what kind of things would they, they talk about? As advisory, what were some of the issues that they would have to deal with?

FK: Well, any kind of issues that came up between the, you know, the government and things like that. That was what the advisory board was. I really don't remember too well.

TI: So would it be things like food issues, or would it be about...

FK: Oh, anything.

TI: issues?

FK: Yeah, or anything.

TI: Or jobs, things like that?

FK: No, not about jobs. But anything that concerned us evacuees from the government, things like that.

TI: How about things like how much people should cooperate with the government in all this? I mean, what was their kind of stance in terms of, yeah, cooperating versus not cooperating?

FK: Oh, I don't recall things like that being talked about in the assembly center.

TI: And the people that were on this advisory board, were they part of a group before the war? Like in Seattle, many of them were part of the JACL.

FK: JACL, yeah.

TI: So was that similar in Portland?

FK: Yeah, I think so, 'cause Howard Nomura, I think he was in the JACL. Also Dr. Uyesugi, he was an optometrist, and he was, I'm sure they were active in there, too.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, so we're now into our second hour of this interview. So we're talking about, about the Portland Assembly Center. And eventually you got word that you were going to move from Portland to someplace else. Did you know where you were going and what it was going to be like?

FK: No, not really, no. We were all put on a train, and when we got there, my goodness, it was terrible. You know, the laundry room -- not the laundry room, but the toilets, nothing was finished, so we had outhouses. And I think your folks probably told you, too, in the wintertime it was just mud. Oh, it was just awful.

TI: Now, when you got to --

FK: Dust in the summer.

TI: Yeah, when you got to Minidoka, so this was...

FK: September.

TI: September, was it already filled with people, or was it, were you one of the first ones there?

FK: Well, no, the Seattle people went first, there was a group that went first. And they, they, I don't... so we came later, I think the early ones in Seattle went, I think, end of August or something like that. So we were later, so they were already there, you know, and I think working with the, the administration and everything by that time.

TI: So what were some of your first impressions when you, when you saw Minidoka?

FK: Oh, my goodness. [Laughs] The barracks were bare, it was two-by-fours and nothing, no... and the potbelly stove like you've probably heard, that was all. And cots, and that was all. So we had to... of course, we all had our own beddings, but my mother had got the closet, one closet, but she got, she bought the material to hang, to make the, you know, to at least to cover the closet, things like that, and curtains. So the windows, you couldn't see from the outside.

TI: And so when you first got to Minidoka, so what did you do? Did you walk around to see what it was like, or I mean, who did you, did you start seeing some people from Seattle that you knew, or was it mostly Portland people, or describe some of the things that you did.

FK: I, well, it was mostly Portland people. And my, then so I used to get together with my girlfriends in Portland. Because they were all in the same, sort of same area.

TI: And so they had the Seattle area and then the Portland area? So they're two different areas?

FK: Sort of, uh-huh. There were some, the later ones, I think, that came from Seattle were mixed farther up from us. But most of the original Seattle people were all down towards the, administration building is closer to them, and we were farther out.

TI: And so initially, you're just staying around with more Portland people, and doing things?

FK: Yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: You mentioned earlier that you needed one more credit to get your, your high school. So you had to go to school? Tell me --

FK: Yeah, I went to...

TI: Tell me when the school started in Minidoka.

FK: Well, it started... gee, I can't remember. It started that fall, I'm sure. And then I just went just the one class in the morning, because I needed just one more credit... otherwise, that's why I had to... the trouble was, when I went to Japan, and I lost the one credit. Before that, which I could have made up but I didn't realize it was when I had my appendix out, I had to, I couldn't go to the gym class, and in those days, you get credit for that. And so I had, I lost that credit, and so I had to get one more credit. And since the war started, everything was sort of up in the air, and I didn't even check my credits or anything, so I had to make it up in camp.

TI: And so what was school like in that one class? What was the class you took and what was that like?

FK: They call it the core class, and really, I didn't attend... I shouldn't say this too much of a... but anyway, I got my credits, because I just had to go to that one, one semester. And then I started working in the, I worked as a secretary to the Community Activities Director, who was Abe Hagiwara, did you ever hear of Hagiwara brothers?

TI: And so what, what would your group do?

FK: They took care of all the community activities in camp.

TI: And what would those be, like dances?

FK: No, not only dances, but you know, they organized the sports for the, for the boys and girls, and they started the newspapers, I mean, all that, activities that they wanted to start, to keep us busy.

TI: So it sounds like it was a really busy group then. I mean, there were lots of things that were happening.

FK: Well, yeah, he was the director, but he, we had several people on that staff who would take care of different areas.

TI: And then you --

FK: They were older, in fact, they were older Niseis.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: And so were you involved, other than being the secretary for this group, did you get involved in organizing anything or was it just pretty much...

FK: No, no. But we, we had a wonderful choir, you know. I can't sing, but we all, we all turned out for it. And we went out to the neighboring towns, we were able to go out to sing, sing for, in different churches and things like that. There were quite a few in that group.

TI: So, what was that like?

FK: It was fun. [Laughs]

TI: And so was this right away?

FK: It was pretty much.

TI: And what was the reaction of the people in these towns when you would come?

FK: Oh, they, they didn't discriminate or anything as far as I, we could see. They really appreciated us coming out there and singing.

TI: It just seems so odd that...

FK: I know.

TI:'d have this group sort of, essentially surrounded by barbed wire, and then you'd go out there and sing around these groups. And I was thinking, from the perspective of these townspeople, what were they thinking? Because I'm sure they were thinking that, "Well, they must be dangerous, we have barbed wire," and here this choir comes.

FK: I know. No, they didn't, they didn't treat us differently. They were very appreciative. Well, they were mostly churches anyway, so I think that made a difference.

TI: So generally, like on a Sunday, you would just take a bus and go to a church and sing?

FK: No, not only Sundays, different times, the evenings. They'll take us in the trucks, you know, that they'd transport us, and then we'd sing and then we'd, then they'd bring us all back.

TI: That's interesting.

FK: And your mother probably knows, Mae Hara was the director, directress of that choir and she was very good.

TI: Eventually the dances started and the sports started. Was there much, at that point then, mingling between Portland and Seattle people?

FK: Oh yeah, lot of it. [Laughs]

TI: So talk about that in terms of your impressions of Seattle people versus Portland. Were there any differences?

FK: No, no differences, but it was something new, you know. Different boys or different girls, so it was fun meeting different people.

TI: So I have to share with you, so this is what my dad says. So my dad always talked about the Portland girls, and he always said the Portland girls were, were prettier than the Seattle girls. So did you notice a lot more attention from the Seattle men or boys towards the Portland girls?

FK: I don't think so. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] I'll have to ask him more about that.

FK: Because Seattle boys were up with the Portland area, you know, looking at the Portland girls, and Portland boys were in the Seattle area, looking at Seattle girls.

TI: So the green is always...

FK: Right.

TI: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. So other than work and choir, what other activities do you remember in camp?

FK: Well, I worked. But I went out, see, I only stayed in camp 'til April of that next year.

TI: April '43? April of '43?

FK: Right.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

FK: And then that's the time that I went out on this National Youth Administration.

TI: Yeah, so describe that. How did you get selected for that?

FK: Well, this, he was Kaz Shitama, and I can't remember if he was working for the government and how that was, but they were recruiting young people for students, not only from camp but different areas like maybe people who weren't very well off, things like that, and so they took us to this school. We lived in the dormitory, all the girls lived in a dormitory, right by the University of Utah campus. And we all stayed there, and then they took us, we got on this truck, they took us to the schools, and the boys went to trade school. We went, the girls went to, I think I told you, sort of like a business school.

TI: And so what was the purpose of the National Youth Administration? What do you think that was, was...

FK: Well, give advantages to, maybe if you didn't know how to type or take shorthand or anything like that, well, then you give a chance to maybe, to work for a job. But I went to a school in Portland, at that time it was called Commerce High School, but it's Cleveland High School now. But at that time I went, it was more like a business high school, which was, they don't have that anymore. The reason my mother sent me there was because she knew that I couldn't go to college, and she said, "If you go there, at least you're able to, like a business school, so you're able to get a job, so that's what I did."

TI: So was it, you think the National Youth Administration was a similar thinking?

FK: I think so.

TI: That, "We'll get training to these students or young adults, and then they'll be able to then get jobs"?

FK: Yeah, I think so.

TI: So, was there --

FK: But...

TI: Go ahead.

FK: But what happened was, see, the funds ran out. The government only, you get, you get funds from fiscal, end of the, start of the fiscal year 'til the next fiscal year. Well, the funds ran out, and they didn't renew it. So they were all out of job, the people in the National Youth Administration also. But the last two weeks, the funny thing is, the last two weeks before, before they closed up, they offered me a job.

TI: The National Youth Administration?

FK: Yeah. Because, because the reason I went to the business high school, so I knew all my shorthand and I used to type and did all that. So the, the teacher -- I guess she would be a teacher -- she would tell me to go in and take dictation from the director because he needed some help. So I go in there, and so then they offered me a job, and so I had a civil service job for two weeks, and then I had, we had to leave, because no more. But that was on my records, you know, when I went back to civil service.

TI: That you had...

FK: Two weeks. [Laughs]

TI: ...two weeks of... so what happened to everyone, they would go back to camp?

FK: Yeah, so everybody went back to camp. There were some girls from Topaz camp, too.

TI: That's what I wanted to ask you. So there were...

FK: Not... just the Topaz.

TI: Oh, just Topaz and Minidoka?

FK: Uh-huh. And they were, there were about three or four girls from there. And our group, I think we had about eight girls, I think it was about eight girls from Minidoka, but we all had to go back. But in the meantime, I had worked in the National Youth Administration, and there was one lady who knew my, I wouldn't call it my ability, but she knew about me, said, "I have a job for you." So she got me a job as a secretary in the, it was a women's apparel store. And so I came back, I stayed in camp for a couple weeks or so, and then I went back to Salt Lake. And I worked in Salt Lake for a year.

TI: And so did you live by yourself, or did you live with someone else?

FK: No, I lived with this older Nisei couple from Seattle. No, not Seattle, what am I saying? Portland. Who, his, the husband was working as a mechanic in Salt Lake City, and I knew, I knew them well. So they had two boys, and they offered for me to stay with them, so I stayed.

TI: So that worked out well, so you had a place to stay.

FK: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And then kind of like a family, and then you had a job.

FK: Yeah, they were, it was good.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And what was it like, kind of living on your own in Salt Lake City like this?

FK: Oh, you know, I was, I went away from home since I was eighteen years old, and that was time, so it was, it was not fun, but it was fine. I made my own living.

TI: And so any, any sort of thoughts, in Salt Lake City, you're not in camp anymore. I mean, what type of activities did you do besides work?

FK: Well, you know, those people were never evacuated. There were, there were quite a few Japanese there, too, so I got to know a lot of them. And you know, one thing about Salt Lake City, I never felt discrimination there at all, anything about the war. Maybe because they were Mormons, I don't know. But because I worked in the women's apparel store, and they were all Caucasians, and the customers were all Caucasians, but they were all very friendly towards me. So they'll, I didn't feel any discrimination there. But when I went to Chicago...

TI: Now, so why did you leave Salt Lake City?

FK: Because I wanted to go to a bigger town, I guess, and quite a few of my friends were there already.

TI: In Chicago?

FK: Yeah.

TI: From Minidoka they had gone up there?

FK: Yeah. So I said, "I think I'll try." And one of my good, really good close girlfriend was in Madison, Wisconsin. And she wanted me to work there, but it's harder to get a job in a smaller town. So I went to Chicago, but I really felt discrimination when I started looking for a job. I looked at an ad, and when I went to apply, the minute they saw me, they would say, "I'm sorry, the job is filled," or something like that, and I knew it wasn't. That's the reason I went into civil service.

TI: In Chicago, you got a civil service job?

FK: Yeah.

TI: So what job was that?

FK: Oh, it was called National Labor Board, and they handled discrimination between labor and manage... what was it now? Management, something like that, I can't remember. With the government and labor. And I worked for the lawyer there, attorney.

TI: So how hard was it to get a civil service job?

FK: Well, you have to take an exam, civil service exam, and then if you passed it, then they'll, if there's a job opening, then you get a job.

TI: Okay, so you're in Chicago, and at this point, your mother's still...

FK: In camp.

TI: Minidoka with your older sister. So she's taking care of your sister. So when they start closing the camps, were you in Chicago at this point?

FK: Yes.

TI: And so where did your, your mother go?

FK: She went back to Portland, and she stayed with friends' place, and then she was in an apartment for, you know... and then I think my, by that time, my sister was in a, she was in an institution I think, because it was getting too hard for her. But I went, I stayed in Chicago a year and a, not quite two years, a year and a half. And I decided to come back to Portland because my mother was by herself. And then she was overseas, so I came back to Portland.

TI: So I just want to ask, so eventually your sister was put into an institution. Was it hard to care for her in camp, for your mother? Were the facilities...

FK: No, 'cause she was very, she wasn't... hard to handle or anything like that. She was very quiet, you know.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So, let's go back to your husband. Let's talk about the first time you met him. So when, when did you first meet?

FK: Well, he says he doesn't remember, but what happened was when I was working for Community Activities, director, this Mr. Hagiwara. Well, a bunch of boys used to come up there, you know, because they were helping with the Community Activities things in their own area. And so he used to introduce me to everybody, see. And then one day, I see this fellow, I was working, and I see this fellow sitting there, and I guess he came up for something or the other to do with community activities. And then all of a sudden Abe says, "Oh," and then he introduced me to Shig, you know. So I said, "Oh, hi," that was about it, then. [Laughs]

TI: So this was Shig Kaseguma?

FK: Yeah.

TI: And, so this was the first time you met him?

FK: Uh-huh.

TI: And then what happened? So he said, "Hi," and then what...?

FK: Well, then we'd go to dances, and he'd always cut in or something, you know. And then we started getting to know each other there. But the time that... then he, when he went to the University of Cincinnati, then he used to write to me, we used to write to each other, you know, on a friendly basis. But when he came back to camp before he went in the service, I guess, that's when, you know, it was a little bit more serious. [Laughs]

TI: And so at what point would you say that you were, the two of you were dating?

FK: Oh, that was the time, I think, after he came back.

TI: So he went, so he left camp and he was doing some work, or basic training? I mean, why did he leave camp?

FK: Well, he went to University of Cincinnati.

TI: Oh, okay.

FK: Yeah, for one year.

TI: For one year, and then he came back.

FK: He was, no, he was called, yeah.

TI: Oh, so he was, he was drafted.

FK: Yeah, drafted, so he came back to camp, and then went from camp.

TI: Okay. And he came back to camp to, to be with you?

FK: Well, see his family, too. You know, his mother and dad, everybody was there. But I, I was, then I was in Salt Lake, see. I was in camp for a little while, then I went to Salt Lake after, right after that.

TI: And so then he, from there, went into the service, and then I think he was, he went to, like, Minneapolis or Minnesota?

FK: Well, he went to Florida first for basic training, yeah. And then he was going to be shipped out to Europe, but the war ended. So then they shipped him to Camp Snelling, you know.

TI: Okay, okay, that makes sense.

FK: Then he went to Japan.

TI: And so during this time, you're just writing letters back and forth?

FK: Yeah, more or less, yeah.

TI: Okay. And so at that --

FK: Although I did see him in Chicago, when he had a time off.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: And so, so going back, you returned to Portland, you're with your mother, and describe what you did in Portland.

FK: Well, I transferred from the civil service job to Portland. And I first transferred to OPA, Office of Price Administration, and then, and then I got the job that I liked better at Bonneville Power Administration. So I worked there until I got married. And then when I, when I got married and came up here, I transferred my job to the Bonneville Power, BPA office here. So it was, so civil service, so you could transfer as long as there's a job.

TI: Going back to Portland, what differences did you see in Portland when you returned after these years being gone?

FK: Well, there was still a lot of discrimination. People had a hard time getting apartments, so after my, we, after I went back, before my brother and my, my brother had gotten married in Japan. When he was there also in the occupation forces, he got married in Japan to a Japanese girl. So before they came back, we moved to a housing project in Vanport, have you heard of that?

TI: No, I haven't.

FK: It's just... you've been to Portland.

TI: Uh-huh.

FK: Just after the bridge between Washington and Oregon. In that area where the horse races on this side, but the other side there were auto races now? Well, that's where they had a housing project.

TI: Okay.

FK: And it was down low like this, see. Columbia River's on the other side, and there was a dike there and railroad tracks on the... anyway, what happened was we were there, and in '48, yeah, in '48 they had a big flood. You don't remember, I mean, you never heard of that?

TI: No.

FK: Yeah.

TI: And so was everything just flooded?

FK: What happened was the Corps of Engineers, you know, in fact this was Memorial Day, the Corps of Engineers that morning, we had, they had a note under all our doors saying that everything is safe, they're watching the dike, and everything is safe. Well, I understand that there was leaking, the water leaking from below that they didn't, they ignored, or I don't know what happened. Well, if the dike breaks, just like in Louisiana, you know, the whole river came and wiped out the whole housing project. And luckily it was Memorial Day so we were all out to the cemetery, and so most of us were out. And the Caucasians, maybe they were on vacation or whatever, and a lot of people were out. So we were lucky because the houses, all the, not the barracks, but the houses were all tipped over. And that whole area just flooded right away. And these people, we were coming back from the memorial, the cemetery, and we heard all these sirens, you know, and we said, "What's going on?" And as we got nearer, well, we knew, we knew something happened. So we got out of the car and we walked over there. And the police were trying to get everybody out of the, the highway because they were, some people were stopped and watching the people trying to get away from, get out of there. And so we said, "Now, what are we gonna do?" what we had on, and that was all we had left. And so my mother says, "Well, let's go to the church," you know. And by golly, lot of people did, the church members went to church. And then says, "Now what are we going to do?" But this Japanese schoolteacher that we knew lived across from the church, and she offered for us to stay there couple nights until we found an apartment. So we stayed there, but we had to go out and get a toothbrush, I mean, soap, everything. [Laughs]

TI: So were there quite a few Japanese staying in this area?

FK: Yeah, because housing was not, housing was tight.

TI: That's what I wanted to ask. So coming back to Portland, what happened to the old Japantown area? Was that...

FK: Well, we were, yeah, that was no more. Now it's more, it was more Chinatown, but I don't know how it is now. It's still all the Chinese restaurants there.

TI: And so pretty much did the Chinese take over the housing and the stores and everything that was there before?

FK: I don't know if they took over, but they were also in that area, so, both the Chinese and the Japanese.

TI: So I guess the question is, so why couldn't the Japanese community move back to where they lived before? It was all, like, already...

FK: No, there was nothing really for them there.

TI: So places like, you know, where the churches were, they were all kind of located in that area, weren't they? And so...

FK: Not really. Our church was on the other side of the bridge, east side. So it wasn't, it wasn't anything near the Japanese town. And that church was still there.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So let's go back to the, the flood. So you're essentially homeless, I mean...

FK: Right, it was.

TI: You only had the clothes on your back, and you're there for two days at this, this woman's place. Then you find an apartment?

FK: Yeah, well, we, our friends who lived in town, up towards the west, west side, they had a cleaning shop in the bottom, but they had rooms up above, so they, we rented those rooms. And the Red Cross helped with some of the clothing and stuff that you could buy, but it was not much. Of course, they couldn't, but so we, I had to go out and buy some stuff.

TI: So what did the government do? I mean, it's kind of like their fault, right, that this dike broke?

FK: I don't remember, well, I don't remember their giving us... not that I can, maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember getting, getting anything from the government. At that time, because we were staying in a housing project, then the city should do something. But Red Cross helped us, you know, they were helping people. But we lost two Japanese.

TI: Oh, in that flood?

FK: Yeah, and one was my girlfriend, the Oyamas, you know, the father was a newspaper, put out the newspaper. Well, his wife, she didn't go to the cemetery because she said she wasn't feeling well. So she stayed there, and, but I think it was about three days after the flood, the city allowed us to go into the project where some of the homes were on the second floor was all tipped, but then they were still there. So they allowed the family to go in and look for whatever, you know. So the family, the son and the daughter and the father went on the boat to look, and she wasn't even there. I mean, she wasn't, the bed wasn't turned or anything, so they didn't know what happened. And when they, they found the family that lived downstairs, so they talked to her, and they said that Mrs. Oyama had had a coat on, and she had, she had gone out that day. But to this day, I know the daughter was saying that didn't know why she went out or where she went, but she was, she was caught in the flood. And her body came up, I can't remember, a week or two later. But she had that coat on, you know, they had to identify her from, I guess from the coats and stuff. It was sad. And then the man, one of the men, he was a single Issei man, you know, and they tried to get him out of there and he says, "No, I'm not leaving," and he died. And there was another lady who was on the second floor who didn't want to leave. But luckily, she was on the second floor, and her, her building was tipped but wasn't under. So right after the flood they, they sent out boats to look for people who were still in their... and then so she was saved. But it was sad when two people from the community died.

TI: Well, how was it for the community? Because during the war, the community was displaced, and then they finally get back to Portland, and then something like this happens, and lots of Japanese, and they're, again, displaced again. I mean, the trauma of that...

FK: It is, but you know, I think, I don't know, but we were all, we just picked up and just went on with our lives, and that's what we did.

TI: And it sounds like the community supported each other? That, like this woman who opened up her house and someone who rented.

FK: Right. Oh sure, they all... and then lot of 'em were able to find apartments, or their friends sort of supported them. And then we just went on with our lives, you know. Little by little, we had to buy our clothes and shoes.

TI: So how was it for you? At some point, did you just, like, "Oh, I just can't deal with this any more, it's just too much"?

FK: No, I just went on in my life. I figured, well, what else can you do? But one sad thing was, you know, when Ish and Gyppo got married, she had asked me to be a bridesmaid, you know. And so this happened on Memorial Day, she got married the first part of June, remember, and so, but the thing was, that night, that whole, the flood, the floodwater had broken the highway, and it went all the way to the Portland airport. And so there was no way of getting to Washington. Only way was to go way down to the Dalles, no, Hood River, and then... yeah, the Dalles, I guess, and cross up, cross that bridge, and then take that slow highway.

TI: So you missed the, missed the wedding?

FK: So I told Ish that I just couldn't make it, 'cause we were trying to find a place to stay and our, finding clothes to, all this, so it was pretty rough.

TI: No, I should clarify, so you're talking about my, my Aunt Ishi, who is my mom's sister, and they were married in Seattle. And you were gonna be in the bridal party.

FK: But, so Marty Fukuma took my place.

TI: So that must have been sad for you to have to miss that.

FK: Yeah, it was, it was sort of traumatic times, but we all made it.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Now during this time, was Shig still overseas?

FK: No, he had, he was going to school at UW. He came back to UW and finished school there, he was going to school.

TI: Okay, so he was in Seattle when you were in, in Portland? So at this point, were you still sort of dating each other, it was long distance?

FK: Well, yeah, we were, we were engaged by that time, I think, yeah.

TI: Okay. And then so, so why don't you talk about getting married to Shig.

FK: Well, so he, he finished school that December, December of '48, and so we got married the first part, 3rd of April.

TI: And where was the wedding?

FK: In Portland.

TI: And who, and so were there the same people in your, in the wedding party in terms of some of the people from Minidoka in both...

FK: My wedding party was from... mine was my sister-in-law and my two girlfriends from Portland. And Shig has his friends from Seattle.

TI: Good. And then after you got married, where did you live?

FK: We came up here to Seattle, and we lived in a duplex on Sixteenth, between Fir and Spruce. No... yeah.

TI: And then, so what kind of work did Shig do when he was in Seattle?

FK: Well, right after that, he went to the Metropolitan, I think it was Metropolitan Business College. He had, so he wanted to take more accounting, and then he worked at the College Club for, in the evenings, and he went to school during the day, for that one year.

TI: And then how about you? Did you work in Seattle?

FK: Yeah, I worked, I transferred to the BPA here, office here, until I had my, I had Rod.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So let's talk about your family. So I know you had two sons. So why don't you, what year was Rod born?

FK: He was born end of '49.

TI: Okay, and then your other son was born...

FK: Eight years later. [Laughs]

TI: So 1957?

FK: '57? '58.

TI: '58?

FK: I think it was '58.

TI: Okay. And that was, you just have two sons, right?

FK: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Okay. Well, so I'm pretty much done, but I want to just ask one last question in terms of, is there anything else you'd like to say? This is, when we're finished we'll give you a copy of this tape.

FK: Oh, dear. [Laughs]

TI: And so it's something that you and your husband and your family will see. Is there anything else that you'd like to, to finish off with? Last thoughts or perspectives?

FK: Well, you know, they talk a lot about this evacuation and how we were just segregated and all this. There are, some people are very, they're very, still had hard feelings about it. But I don't feel that way. It just happened and we just have to go on with our lives. And I, I don't hold it against anyone, the government, the times are, then and times and now are different, too, and I don't hold any grudge against it. I know some people have very definite feelings about that. And I like to know, I'd like to mention, too, to my grandchildren and my kids, you know, how the Isseis had survived, and it would be nice if they would find out more about them and then apply it to themselves and the children, too.

TI: Well, I think part of this interview, you've talked about the Isseis and what they did.

FK: Yeah, that's true

TI: And so I think this will be one way for them to find out. One last question, we're here for the reunion of Minidoka, and that was, like, sixty-five years ago, and there are over two hundred people here. What do you think it is that, that makes people want to come back after all these years to something like a camp reunion? What was it, what was it about Minidoka that you think is special?

FK: Well, I think a lot, to me, a lot of it has to do with the friendships that you created with, with the people in camp, and also what we went through together, and that will always be with us, and it's kind of nice to come back and be with the people. And a lot of 'em are gone now, which is sad, too, but so I think, like, this may be the last one, but at least we're still here, and be able to converse and enjoy ourselves together. That means a lot.

TI: Yeah, it does. So that's, that's a good way to end this interview. Thank you so much for taking the time. This was really a good interview, and I really appreciate it.

FK: Well, thank you.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.