Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Joe Ishikawa Interview
Narrator: Joe Ishikawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: January 10, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ijoe-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So let's talk about when you got the, the notice that you'd have to leave Los Angeles. So let's pick it up here, so what happened after, after that?

JI: Well, I don't remember whether we got written notice or whether we just found these posters on the telephone posts in the neighborhood. But anyway, we were told to, that we would have to report to such and such a place to board buses to go to Santa Anita. And that was, I don't even remember what date that was, April sometime, I guess, that we --

TI: So at some point, when you realized that Japanese Americans were going to be sort of removed, how did you feel about that?

JI: I thought, "This is insane." I felt like Rudolph Schudolf, this Czech friend of mine was right when he said, "Ach, they are crazy." [Laughs] I thought this is insane. And I guess I was kind of mad at the JACL, whereas I said my sister-in-law worked for JACL. But I thought the JACL should have fought this, and instead, they said, "Oh, of course we'll show our loyalty by going," and they passed out pins that said, "We also serve," you know, and that kind of thing.

TI: So did you ever confront or talk or discuss this with any JACL?

JI: No, I didn't know that many JACL people. I knew some of them, but I, no, I was just mostly in a funk. As a matter of fact, I had no intention of going to graduate school, but since that seemed a way out of... I started applying to graduate school, and that's where the guy from, my wrestling coach, who was really a converted, he was a football coach, but he, our regular wrestling coach enlisted, and so Ray came and coached us my last year. And he, when he knew that we had to leave, he said, "You should go to Nebraska." And I said, "Ray, you know, I was thinking of Cornell." And he said, "Well, you ought to go to Nebraska because I can get you a scholarship there." And I said, "Ray, this is my last year, I've used up my eligibility." He says, "Well, you ought to go there anyway." And I said, "You know, the thing is, I'm going to miss mountains more than anything, being able to look out and see mountains. So are there mountains around Lincoln?" And he said, "Gee, I don't know." [Laughs] He had been a lineman, you see, and he had grown up in Ponca, way in the northern, northeastern corner of Nebraska. So he turned to Bernie Masterson, who is another All-American from Nebraska, but Bernie had gone to high school in Lincoln. And says, "Hey, Bernie, are there mountains around Lincoln?" And he said, "Yeah." [Laughs] So I, anyway, long, short of the story is I finally get there in the middle of the night, and met at the train by some other Nisei and other people and taken someplace, and I don't even remember where now. But I got up early the next morning and went out to look at the mountains, and they had beautiful capitol that said, "Straight up," so I went to the top of the capitol, and I looked like I was in the middle of a platter and all the world just dropped off. [Laughs]

TI: They got you to Nebraska, right? [Laughs]

JI: Yeah. Well, Bernie came out to coach Nebraska, and I was going to go ask him, "Bernie, where the hell are the mountains?" [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.