Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Carolyn Takeshita Interview
Narrator: Carolyn Takeshita
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 15, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tcarolyn-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: So you then went to elementary school, you were saying, in Denver.

CT: In Denver.

MA: What was the name of your school?

CT: It was called Twenty-Fourth Street School.

MA: And it was primarily Japanese Americans?

CT: You know, just because of the nature of how the housing was. There were many, many Japanese American students there.

MA: And the other ethnicities were white?

CT: They were Caucasian and then Hispanic. Which was kind of the same, because then we left when I was in fifth grade and went back to Boyle Heights. So when I was there, it was kind of the same makeup. Lots of Japanese American students in the school, Hispanics, and then when we were in there, I remember there were lots of students of Russian ancestry in the Boyle Heights area, and Jewish. So, it was kind of similar to what, what you have in any minority community, or maybe the poorer section, too. I think economically, that you had more mixed races.

MA: So when you were in Denver in elementary school, were the Japanese Americans that were fellow students, were they mostly people who had been at camp and come to Denver like you?

CT: Most of them were. But then as I got older, I mean, after we moved back again to Colorado and I was in junior and senior high school, a lot of the people did not go to camp because Colorado had that people outside the barbed wire and people within. And because there were so many Japanese and Japanese Americans living here prior to the war, there were, I would say half and half, people have camp in their experience, and fifty percent that maybe did not. And we found that to be true. Another woman, Marge Taniwaki, and I wrote a proposal to do a Colorado women's quilt project, and it was connected with the Smithsonian traveling exhibit on strength and diversity. And I had seen the original quilt that was part of the exhibit with the National Japanese American Historical Society and the Oakland Museum. And that quilt depicted an immigrant woman coming on a boat, and then the barbed wire, and then something about the present time. But I realized that in Colorado, everybody doesn't have the camp experience in their background as a family.

MA: In general, how was the relationships among the Japanese Americans? Especially, I mean, I guess when you're in high school, those who had been in camp and those were more from prewar families, was there a sense of a difference?

CT: No, I don't think there was any tension, or anything like that. Because you were more united because you were Japanese Americans. I noticed it more as later, as I got older. And then, again, back then, we didn't talk about camp that much. But as I got older, people would say, "Well, I can't relate to that because my family didn't go to camp." And then I think the division -- and it wasn't a division -- but the noticeable came when redress was awarded. Because then some people got redress money that lived here and others did not. And I think that's when it was much more noticeable.

MA: What were some of the reactions of people who, maybe prewar, from prewar families, who didn't receive the redress?

CT: The only comment that I think I can remember was that I heard stories about their suffering here, too, and the racism and things. And especially from the people who were my peers, they got teased a lot and picked on.

MA: Right, so they experienced hardship and...

CT: They did in a different way.

MA: In a different way, right.

CT: But it didn't mean that they didn't have that same emotional kind of trauma of being picked on and teased and, I don't remember too many people talking about having to move away from certain restricted areas in Colorado. But I know that in Nebraska, speaking to Japanese Americans there, that they were displaced from certain areas because it was a restrictive thing. And so then they had to move, but then they didn't qualify for any redress because they weren't interned.

MA: Right.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.