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Title: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura Interview
Narrator: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-keugene-01-0020

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TI: So let's, let's go to how you left Puyallup. Because you mentioned earlier that you had written these letters trying to leave or to get permission to go back to Wyoming. So describe that. How did you leave Puyallup?

EK: Nothing, we heard nothing from the agencies that we had written to until about a month or so after we had been there in Puyallup, we received word that we were free to leave and to go Sheridan, Wyoming. So that they did not hospitably arrange everything for us to go, I had to go use the phone and get the railroad tickets, find out the railroad tickets and so forth, using the phone in the office where there were Japanese, Niseis had, doing some paperwork. And they could, of course, hear every word of my conversation. And then when it was evident to them that we were leaving camp, I could see them raise their eyebrows, saying, "These people must be crazy, leaving the safety of this camp to go out into the wild woods," and so forth. They didn't ask me any questions, I didn't answer them, I just walked out.

TI: Oh, so that's interesting. So you think the, when people would find out that you were leaving, they thought that it would be dangerous for you to, to go.

EK: Yes.

TI: And that you were crazy.

EK: Yeah, you're crazy. "We're safe here behind barbed wires."

TI: And so what was it like when you left the confines of the barbed wire, and stepped out, essentially into the exclusion zone, and area that you weren't supposed to be, what kind of reaction did you get going to the train station, on the train?

EK: I don't remember much of the, what shall I say, of the reaction of the local populace seeing us. Because I was more concerned about, "Hey, where are they taking us? How long is it going to go?" and so forth. But I do remember that when we got on the train there, there was absolute dead silence. People looked around and stared at us. As I said before, it was the same kind of a whole gamut of emotions, from sympathy to hatred and so forth. Not a word was exchanged between them and us. And then after about so many days, we finally reached Sheridan, Wyoming. But it was in a "hostile" quote/unquote territory, but at least we were free, anyway. Because my mother had said, long before, said that, "We should not stay in this camp here and become like sheep," and so forth. But it was better to go outside and meet whatever the outside was willing to offer us. So I give credit to my mother for saying that.

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