Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura Interview
Narrator: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-keugene-01-0014

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TI: In those weeks following December 7th, it was a pretty confusing time for, for many Japanese Americans. Can you describe some of your memories during those weeks right after? I mean, what were some of the things that you saw? Do you remember any incidences or events during those two weeks?

EK: Well, curfew was declared, and we didn't, we weren't able to get out of the house before what was it, eight o'clock or something of that nature there. So that I noticed that things were tightening a little bit, screws were being put on a little bit to us. So I didn't notice the full extent of the, what shall I say, the plans being laid. Also, another interesting thing happened, was that when my father was, had his farm, he had bought a .32 caliber automatic for home protection and so forth. I knew, as a kid, where that gun was hidden. So when there was no one in the house, I went to the shelf, to the drawer, took the gun off of its furoshiki cover, and then looked at the gun. And I knew enough about the mechanism of a gun so I took the chamber, the extra chamber out, ejected the bullet in the firing chamber, put the bullet, rather, the gun in the nice leather holster attached to my side, and I walked through the house like John Wayne. [Laughs]

TI: And how old were you at this time?

EK: I think that was just shortly after my dad died. I was a kid.

TI: Yeah, as a teenager. But you knew enough to take out the bullets.

EK: Yeah. And then after about several episodes like this, I said to myself, "What's the use of my walking around with a gun? I better fire it." So I went to the basement -- it's not a regular basement -- it was still covered with dirt and so forth. So there was a block of wood. It's the kind of wood that you see in these movies when they're chopping up the wood and so forth. So I placed that on the stand and then stood about six feet away from there, took aim and pulled the trigger. And fortunately, I was a good shot, because I hit the piece of wood. And then I had an axe or something, a hatchet, broke it down until I recovered the bullet. I should have kept that bullet. But anyway, I didn't do anything, but that was the end of my gunslinger days.

TI: So you were just really curious about the...

EK: Curious. Kids are curious. Kids are curious about weapons and so forth. Plus the fact that I've always been fascinated with the properly engineered material, and a gun is really properly engineered. So as I said before, in the back of my head, I said, "This is wrong." On the other hand, I said, "Hey, I want to do it."

TI: That's interesting. So during these weeks after Pearl Harbor, you knew that inside your house, you had a gun.

EK: Yeah.

TI: And so what happened to that gun?

EK: Then, shortly after Pearl Harbor, I think it was a, probably FBI agent, government agent came. And after questioning and so forth, said, "Do you have a weapon here?" I said, "Yes, I have my father's .32 caliber Colt automatic." So he said, "May I see it?" and took down the serial number and handed it back to me. And I thought that was the end of it. But the following day, an army sergeant came with a gun on his side and said, "You have a Colt automatic .32 caliber serial number such and such? Hand it over." We handed it over, he looked at the serial number, and then he asked us to sign some paper, and gave us a dollar bill. So that was how the final transaction of the infamous Colt .32 took place. And then at that time, my brother chastised me, saying -- the older brother -- chastised me and said that, "You shouldn't have done that. That was Pop's favorite weapon," and so forth. But I said, "What am I going to do? What if you or I, I in the concentration camp, you working outside, were to have your gun found?" The consequences would have been draconian. They would have immediately thrown us in prison. So in a sense, I did the, I think I did the wise thing, but my brother was chastising me by saying, "You shouldn't have done that." But I think I did the right thing.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.