Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Lillian Nakano Interview
Narrator: Lillian Nakano
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-nlillian-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: I was wondering if you could talk about your memories of when your father was taken by the authorities and sent to Sand Island.

LN: Uh-huh. When he was sent to Sand Island, it was kind of a stigma. Because they took so many thousand from the entire island. Now, that's only a handful. So in the neighborhood, he'd be the only one. So then people would be wondering, "What's going on? Is he a spy?" [Laughs] And things like that. So there was a certain amount of stigma attached to it. And, of course, we were worried about him. But my mother took care of everything, and she was always the type that, "Don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do about it." She was one of those. "I'll do the worrying." So we got used to it.

MA: Were you able to communicate with him at all?

LN: No. I think she was able to, she could. They would have, like, visitations. Not the whole family, but between the spouses. So she was able to see him. And then finally, after about a year, it became more liberal where they said that, "If you want to go to the mainland, to the camp, then you can go as a family and he'll join you guys." So we said, "Of course, by all means." So that's how we left for the mainland.

MA: So they said your family could be together, but you have to go to camp on the mainland.

LN: Right, right.

MA: And leaving for the mainland, what were you, can you talk about that and how you prepared to leave and what you were thinking? You must have been a teenager at that point, and what that was like for you.

LN: Yeah. I can only say there was superficial concern on our part. We were terrible. My mother did all, she was too efficient, and the rest of us were just so carefree, and we didn't worry about a thing. And she always would say, anyway, "Don't worry about it, I'll do it. I'm doing whatyoucall, so don't worry about anything." So there was some trauma, I guess, but not that much because of, you know, she being so efficient. [Laughs] Everything was kind of... yeah, to a certain extent, there was apprehension, especially with the younger ones. Because my younger sister Elizabeth, Liz, she said -- she wasn't quite, Grace was much more outgoing, but Liz was a little bit introverted or something, and sensitive. So the whole experience, she said, was terrible. She thought it was awful, what we had to go through. But none of us thought it was that bad. So we used to say, "Why do you keep saying that?" I don't know. She was very sensitive. She thought it was a horrible experience. Isn't that funny?

MA: It's interesting how even in a family, different people remember different things in a different way.

LN: That's right.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.