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Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview II
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-03-0014

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TI: In terms of your family in Jerome, did they correspond? Did you write letters back and forth?

AH: Yeah, we eventually did. And then when I found out my father was really deathly sick, I asked for a transfer to Jerome. They were in Santa Anita first, and then they were moved to Jerome. So I asked for a transfer, and I was permitted to transfer with my baby and I said I wanted my husband to go, too, Jake. They said, "Oh, no, he's not your father, so he can't go." So he was not allowed to come with me. So it was a long, hard five-day train ride across country, and I didn't have a seat.

TI: So that seems unusual or somewhat harsh that they wouldn't let your husband go with you. Here you're a family unit, husband, wife, child, asking to be transferred, and they separated you. They treated you more like, still, your previous family, there's this kind of division. Do you know why the government did that?

AH: No. I don't know why, they just said, "He's not, he's your father, not his father, so he can't go out." I don't know why. And there was no chance to appeal it because they said my father was really critically sick. So, but he finally was able to join me months later, quite a number of months later. But then he got drafted to go into the army, so we didn't have too much time together. It was a very cruel decision, and I just never could understand it. Was never given a reason except that he was not his father.


TI: So, Aiko, where we left off from the first section was you had just returned to Jerome because your father was deathly ill. And you arrived with your newborn child and you. I'm curious, what was the family reunion like when you got to Jerome?

AH: Well, it was traumatic. When I first got, when we first arrived in Jerome, I was getting off the bus and my, they were taking my father on a gurney into the hospital ambulance. And so I was coming in and he was going out, but I grabbed my daughter to run over to him and that was the one and only time he got to see her, because he was (sent to) the hospital. That was the tenth of December, 1943. So that was the one and only time. I couldn't take her to the hospital, they wouldn't let the baby in the hospital at the time. But I went every day to see him. But it was, that was a very traumatic moment. Of course, we had no idea he would be dying, so I thought, well, get a chance to see her once and then maybe when he came back, we would be, chance to get together. Because I was able to get one of those apartments in the barracks across from where my mother and father were. But it was not to be, because Christmas Eve, ten days later, my father passed away.

TI: And what did he die of?

AH: Well, he had complicated conditions, but mostly heart, yeah. I think that he had a failure of other vital organs, but it was primarily his heart. He was only sixty-nine years old. At that time, I thought he was very old, but of course, now that I'm almost eighty-five, "Hey, he died young." [Laughs]

TI: And what about the rest of the family? What was the reception for your mother, your sisters, your brothers?

AH: Oh, they were okay, you know. They were glad to have me there. They were glad to see the baby, because that was one of the few grandchildren my mother had. At that time, there were three grandsons (who) were my sister's kids, and my daughter was the fourth grandchild. Of course, since then, there have been more, but it was okay. They forgave me my transgressions.

TI: And how did you know they forgave you? What happened?

AH: Because they were just, they acted like they always did. They didn't chastise me or put me in a corner with a dunce cap on. They treated me fine.

TI: How about discussion? Was it ever discussed what you had done?

AH: No. As I recall, no. Even my oldest brother, with whom I didn't get along too well, he never got on my case, and he didn't say, "Why did you do that?" or all that. Come to think of it, I never thought about the fact that when Jake finally joined me, what was their attitude about him? Isn't that funny? I hadn't even thought about that. I must try and reflect to see if I can reconstruct what the family's reaction was. I guess they thought we were just misguided kids, and they were right. [Laughs]

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.