Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kay Aiko Abe Interview
Narrator: Kay Aiko Abe
Interviewer: Shin Yu Pai, Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 2, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-akay-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

SP: So can you tell us a bit about your memories of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941? What are your memories of the time around your removal or evacuation from Beaverton?

KA: I remember we had a tiny little radio, no TV at that time. And when we heard rumors that there was a war, my parents were really shocked. But because God had prepared them, they trusted in Him and thought we would just look to the Lord and not panic. And sure enough, the FBI didn't come to our house. But I think they were visiting some of the other homes. And anyway, it was truly a time of spiritual lessons that we've learned, which has impacted each one of us. Especially the older ones, old enough to understand what was happening, my brother, my sister. And when we were evacuated, we were sent to the Portland Assembly Center, and that was the first time that really, my parents had a vacation. I shouldn't say this, but with a baby coming, my brother was born in July.

SP: In the assembly center.

KA: In the assembly center. It was an animal exposition center, where they had...

SP: Like a state fair, kind of, fairgrounds?

KA: Uh-huh. And I can see now what a blessing it was, because being pregnant and harvesting strawberry would have been very, very hard on my mother. But here she was interned just in time to be spared, because he was born latter part of July.

SP: Well, what were the living conditions like at the Portland Assembly Center?

KA: In Portland Assembly Center? Well, because we were kids, we thought it was kind of exciting and interesting. We didn't have to work on the farm. But we had, I think we had one huge room with all the beds, curtained off from one family to the other. But we could hear voices and things like that. But the meals were prepared for us and everything. And so it was an experience. We had never been in such a huge complex with so many Japanese. It was an experience. But the Lord was with us, and we made friends. And then we were sent to Minidoka in September. We were evacuated May the 20th, I believe it was, and left in September for Minidoka. And enrolled in school right away, attended. So I attended high school for three years and graduated in Minidoka. And I took an early graduation in January because I had enough credits, and I felt like I needed to work to help my parents. So I got a job as a nurse's aide.

SP: While you were still in camp?

KA: Uh-huh.

SP: Okay.

KA: After I graduated. And then later on, I got an office job working in the clothing allowance, where we used to figure out how much each family would be entitled, according to age and the children and everything. But it was a good experience; I enjoyed it.

SP: Now, were there other Christians in Minidoka? Was there a community of...

KA: Uh-huh, yes. There were many Christians. And we used to attend the fellowship meetings. Reverend Fukuyama was the minister. And there were quite a few young people.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.