Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: June M. Hoshida Honma Interview
Narrator: June M. Hoshida Honma
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 9, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-hjune-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: Okay, so today is Thursday, July 9, 2009, and Densho is filming here in Torrance, California. I'm Megan Asaka, the interviewer, and I will be talking with June Honma today, and Dana Hoshide is our cameraperson. So, June, thank you so much for doing this interview.

JH: Oh, you're welcome.

MA: I wanted to start by asking where you were born.

JH: I was born in Hilo, Hawaii.

MA: And when were you born?

JH: Do you want my full birthdate?

MA: Sure.

JH: It's June 23, 1936.

MA: And what was the name given to you at birth?

JH: June Mitsuko Hoshida.

MA: And I wanted to ask you about your parents, starting with your father. What was his name and where was he born?

JH: Well, he legalized his name to George Yoshio Hoshida in '52. He came from Kumamoto... I can't remember the village, when he was four, with his parents and his older brother, to Hilo.

MA: And what were some of the reasons why the family came to Hilo?

JH: I suppose it's like all the other immigrants. They knew there'd be jobs there, probably a better future for their children. And they also left two behind.

MA: Two children?

JH: Two children, yeah. My uncle, the oldest one, and my auntie that's just below him. And they figured that if they earned enough money, then they could send for them, but they never came. Not enough money.

MA: And what did they do in Hilo? What type of work did your grandparents do?

JH: My grandfather, I believe, worked in the cane fields. My grandmother may have helped, but mainly she was, she raised the kids that she had. Because after arriving here, arriving in Hilo, they had my youngest uncle, Raymond.

MA: Okay, who was born in Japan?

JH: Yeah.

MA: And what did your father do, sort of as he grew up? What type of work did he do?

JH: He worked for the Hilo Electric Light Company as a salesman, and that was before the war.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: And tell me a little bit about your father. What type of person was he, and his personality?

JH: He was the best storyteller you could ever ask for. He used to keep all the children in church enthralled because they loved his stories. He was very active in the Japanese community, he also taught judo. I don't know how much dan he was, but he was a black belt. And took us around everywhere that we needed to go in our 1936 Lizzie is what I call it, it's a Ford. [Laughs] But, yeah, he was very nice to all the kids who came up to him to ask for advice, and he was always available for them. He did shibai. Do you know what shibai is?

MA: What is shibai, can you explain?

JH: Shibais are Japanese plays. And they would, the church would put them on, and all, I think all the actors acted as either sex. So my father would come out in a kimono with a wig, and I... ugh. You know, when you're young, you don't want to see your dad like that. [Laughs] He also played the violin, and my uncle Ray also played it, too.

MA: It sounds like he was, he had a bunch of different interests and was musical.

JH: He did, yeah. He didn't draw at the time, but he was a big man. I hope you edit this: I got his body. [Laughs] But I think, yeah, he was five feet nine inches tall. So he was very, all I know is he was very active, and then he met my mother when he took a cruise from, interisland cruise for the YBA, and he met her on that cruise.

MA: And tell me a little bit about your mother. What was her name and where was she from?

JH: My mother's name was Tamae Takemoto. She was born July 18, 1908.

MA: And was she born in Japan?

JH: No, she was a Nisei.

MA: Was she from Hilo as well?

JH: Uh-huh, she was from Hilo. My grandparents came from Yamaguchi-ken, okay, so my father used to say we were "yama kumas," which means "mountain bear." [Laughs] So I knew my grandmothers more, because my maternal grandfather died before I was born. My paternal grandfather was ill most of the time, so I didn't get to know him that well. But I really loved my two baachans, you know. My paternal grandmother was Obaba, my maternal grandmother was Babasan. She was such a neat woman, my maternal grandmother. My mother was injured when she was young, and she told me the story was that her father was what you call oppa, carrying her in the back. And he slipped, so she fell and injured her right, I think it was her right hip. Well, in those days, there weren't very many medical people to take care of 'em, so she eventually had, I think osteomyelitis in her iliac, you know, the bones in there. So she had a huge hole in her buttock, I remember. Because she was... I wouldn't exactly say crippled, one leg was shorter. But she was, I think, among the first patients that entered the Shriner's Hospital in Honolulu at age fifteen, I think. So they took care of her, but they told her she'll never have any kids. Proved them wrong, didn't she?

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MA: Well, how many children did she have?

JH: There were four of us, four sisters.

MA: And are you the oldest?

JH: Yes, I'm the oldest, because my older sister was in a car accident at age, about two months, almost three months. They didn't have, you know, those car seats or safety things, she was older than I. Had she lived, she'd be seventy-five. But she injured her head terribly, and the only doctor that did neurosurgery happened to be in Kona at the time. He just went around the whole island and take care of people. So she just was, she was blind, and she was very much crippled. One arm was like this, and she would crawl like this, she would bump off like this, I remember that. So when we were in camp, we had to put her in this place called Waimanu Home, which I visited during my student nurse days. And I said, "I can't believe this is where she was."

MA: So you had to leave your sister there...

JH: We had to leave her there.

MA: ...while you went to camp.

JH: Yeah, because my father was taken first, the first week in February of '42. And my mother was told, later on in that year, "If you want to see your husband again, you have to go to camp." So like the people on the West Coast, we had three days only, and she was trying to -- we were in a brand new house. So she didn't know what to do, and finally decided she'd better sell it. Because my dad never said, "Go see our lawyer." So she sold everything in there, except for her tansu. There's a beautiful Japanese one, that I think my relatives kept, for a thousand dollars. So it was really sad that we were gonna leave.

MA: And then, so your mother was sort of forced to leave your older sister.

JH: Yeah, in Waimanu Home. So what had happened was we were picked up, I think, in December of '42, then we were taken to Sand Island in the Pearl Harbor region on Oahu. We stayed there for a week, and that was when my mother went to see my sister for the very last time. Then, later, we were shipped up on the Lurline, which was the cruise ship at the time, painted all black, though. And then landed in San Francisco, and they crammed us into the ferryboat, and I mean crammed. All the kids had to just, we were just squeezed in there. And then when we got to Oakland, they put us on a train. So my first boat ride, my first train ride. And my mother was lucky; we got a Pullman. So I know I slept on the top, and my mother and my two sisters slept on the bottom.

MA: So, and then when did your sister end up passing away? Was that during the war?

JH: I'm trying to remember. July 22, 1944, I think. She was ten.

MA: And do you know what happened to her?

JH: Oh, well, in a simple word, murder. They just, she was blind, she was incapable of taking care of herself. And in those days, I guess, people weren't as humane as they are now to the developmentally disabled. So they left her in a tub to drown, and she did. My cousin, my mother's niece, was working at the Hilo Memorial Hospital in admissions when this person that worked at Waimanu Home came, and I guess they were exchanging stories. Then she rushed back to see my father and told my father, "There's a nurse that told us that Taeko" -- my sister, that whole thing I just told you about drowning. The next day she went over, that person was gone. So he decided not to pursue it, because this was ten years after her death. So, you know, it's hard without money to pursue that. Yeah, that was sad. I would have loved her to be normal and have a big sister, you know. So I adopted a big sister. She also was in camp.

MA: Well, yeah, and especially the war sort of breaking apart your family like that, with your father gone and your sister then having to be in this place.

JH: Yeah, and my youngest one was two months old, so it made it harder for my mother. But the thing that I found was so wonderful was when we finally reached Denson -- that's what they called it then. That grape vine is something. They found out that there was a two-month-old baby on the train. So by the time we got, we were put into those army, we called them busses, in a truck. So they took us to our block, and we were about the last ones to get off. And the women were all at the bottom of this ladder for us to go down, they wanted my sister. 'Cause I remember their arms were outstretched, "Give me the baby, give me the baby." Which was really wonderful for my mother, 'cause we landed late. And I found out later that I think they didn't want the locals to really know that there were internment camps, concentration camps there, so most all of us debarked at midnight.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MA: I wanted to go back a little bit and ask you about your memories of when your father was picked up by the FBI.

JH: Okay. I know it was a Sunday, because he was off. It was the first weekend in February, 1942. And I remember he was fixing our screen door. Hawaii has a lot of mosquitoes and flies, so he was fixing it. My uncle appeared on the porch, and my father looked at him and didn't know what he was doing there. So they were talking for a while, and they always called him Hosh-san. They never called him Yoshio or (George). So he said, "Hosh-san, the FBI is picking you up, but I begged them to let me come and pick you up." And I remember my mother telling me that her brother was just crying. And that was my favorite maternal uncle.

MA: I'm sorry, your uncle was a police officer?

JH: Yes, my uncle Riichi, it's (R-I-I-C-H-I), Takemoto. Very tall, elegant man. So they took him away and we didn't really know where they were taking him. I'm not sure how my mother got word where he was, but he was at Kilauea Military Camp up in the volcano area, Volcanoes National Park.

MA: On the Big Island?

JH: Yeah, there's an R&R area for the troops. And so they were put in this enormous room, because we managed to go and visit him before he left.

MA: Before he left for Sand Island?

JH: Left for Sand Island, yeah. So we went to visit him and there were cots one after the other, just lined, I remember. And my mother found my father so we spent some time with him. And he wanted, he wanted the notebook so he could draw. So that's, those are the pictures that are over at JANM, and I have copies in there.

MA: And was that when he first started drawing?

JH: I think he used to draw before, but he had done correspondence courses. And as I was reviewing the pictures last night, 'cause I'd forgotten I had them, he must have attended an art class in camp. Because he drew the faces of the fellow students that he was with. Most all of them were from the Big Island, or Hawaii. And luckily he labeled who they were and where they were from. I know there was one man from Kauai in there.

MA: And so you were able to visit him in this detention facility, but do you remember who else was there? Was it all, sort of, Issei men detained?

JH: Yeah, they were all Issei men. I myself don't know who the whole bunch was made up of, but they were mainly made up of people the FBI had made a list of. So they were either Japanese school teachers or people who ran the newspapers, Japanese newspapers, Japanese announcers for Japanese programs, who else were they?

MA: Probably Buddhist priests.

JH: Yeah, Buddhists, the priests were all picked up. Yeah, that's right. My classmate's father was picked up, too. But my father wasn't on that list. So I asked Aiko Herzig when I met her in Gila once... you know my father was never on the FBI list, so I said, "Why would they pick him up?" And I know that one person from the list of the FBI was told that, "If you give us several names of people that you think are subversive, we won't send you to camp." My father happened to be on that because -- I read this -- because he was "training those kids for the Japanese army." I mean, it sounds very funny now, it really does. [Laughs] But that's the charge.

MA: Right, so someone clearly pointed their finger at your father to get themselves off.

JH: Right, exactly.

MA: Okay, so then he was taken from the Big Island, then, to Sand Island in Oahu.

JH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: And can you tell me about your time in -- because you said you stayed in Sand Island for about a week, and what that was like, and sort of leaving, then, from your home and then going to Sand Island?

JH: Okay. Well, they picked us up sometime in the afternoon, I remember, in an army truck. We were taken down to Hilo port and put on the interisland boat. And I'd never been on this huge ship before, so my mother made friends with some of the people that were going into internment camp. And I remember my sister, who was only two months old, was very, very colicky. They couldn't stop her from crying. So this woman that we met on this ship, came and did reiki on her. And I think she literally saved her life, because my sister's abdomen was just huge, and my mother was having a hard time. When we left Hilo I was about five. And I always tell this story, that I faced the Hilo side, while we were in the bay, and I could see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. And then all the clouds were up there, but there were shafts of light that would shine on certain spots because of the cloudiness. And then we passed Coconut Island, which is a little recreational island that they have. And that kept me going for the three years I was in camp. I was so homesick, but without that memory, I don't know what I'd have done. I dreamed about it all through the three years that I was in camp.

MA: And what was Sand Island like? I know you were young, but what...

JH: It was a two-story building with fencing around it, barbed wire on the top, and there was a large enough grassy area where all the people that were kept there until it was time for us to go up. And since Aiko Herzig said we were POWs, I guess we were POWs in that Sand Island. They put the teenage boys and the young men in one room, they put mothers and children in another room, and the women, who were single, in another room. So it was like a dormitory. They had, like in the submarines they would have bunks, so they had bunks, one on top of the other. And there wasn't much to do. All I remember is my mother used to have to stand in line behind these women to heat up the milk for my sister.

MA: And who were the guards?

JH: You know, I never saw any. We were locked in there. So you couldn't get out. And I guess it's that gaman, shikata ga nai thing that they went through. But most of them knew that eventually they'll see their fathers and husbands.

MA: So your father, at this point, was not in Sand Island.

JH: Uh-uh, not while we were there.

MA: So you didn't see him, okay.

JH: Because he was... when I went through that book last night to see how his journey was, I went according to the dates. And he was taken to Fort Sam Houston, I think that's in Texas. But why they backtracked, I don't know, because they were there for a while, then they went to Lordsburg. When I visited Lordsburg, it's very desolate. But as the curator told me, almost nobody in town knew that there was a POW camp on the outskirts. So my father was there, and I believe that's the time when they shot two of the men from Hawaii. I'm not sure if the families reclaimed the bodies or not. So after Lordsburg, he went to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's another notorious camp, yeah, it was. And it was there that my surrogate big sister's father, who was a Taishoji priest, he died. And my father managed to have his wife and son, yeah, attend the funeral. So he was there for a while. Now, for me, it wasn't clear how long I was in Denson, Jerome.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: And so you, when did you go to the mainland? That was '42?

JH: We reached there in January of '43.

MA: '43, okay.

JH: We were on the train, and I asked my mother, "Where are we?" every morning, because you had to keep the shades down. And I'm curious, so I looked. And I remember this picture in my head, there's snow, and there's this dried brush or whatever, it looked like twigs, branches. And I remember seeing that but I don't know what state that was in. But she said we traveled through seven states to get to Jerome.

MA: And then got off the train, you said, at midnight?

JH: Midnight. We got off the train, but the thing that I remember the most, and which someone who had gone at the same time that we had, came up to me in Little Rock and said, "Oh, I completely forgot about the big bonfire that was there." 'Cause I told them that, I told them that when I was in the panel, that when we got off, there was this huge bonfire, and there were, some women were around it. I had a coat on, but the coat was what my mother had made with no lining, no nothing. It was freezing. 'Cause it was January, and there was snow on the ground, slushy. But I remember getting off and the bonfire. And the guy that came to me, at least I know that I wasn't dreaming that, 'cause I was just six.

MA: And was your father at Jerome?

JH: No.

MA: He was still in Santa Fe?

JH: My father was in Santa Fe. He didn't come back 'til the end, almost in December.

MA: Of '43?

JH: Of '43. He helped a lot of the men in there get their furloughs, because those that could read could only write in Japanese. So he would translate for them and write it in English.

MA: And I'm sure he was one of the few people who could do that.

JH: Yeah, the very few. And his handwriting's gorgeous.

MA: And were you able to correspond with him when you were in Jerome and he was in Santa Fe?

JH: He kept all the letters that were sent to him from my mother, myself, and any relatives, including his letters. Now, I'm not sure if my mother had kept those letters or if he made copies. But sometimes the letters would come there with holes in them, censor, censor it. 'Cause they didn't have markers, so they censored it by cutting it out. But all of these are intact, including my letters. So I was very shocked to have, when he handed it to me... when was it? Back in the '80s, and he said he's giving that to me because my letters are in there.

MA: That you wrote him?

JH: That I wrote him, too. But he gave me all the letters. So those letters are now at the Japanese American National Museum.

MA: I think that's great, that they're able to be preserved.

JH: Yeah, but it was so... I think I told you that the East West Players decided to read letters that were sent to and from families, and that they chose mine, they chose my mother and my father's. So the actors went up and they were reading it. Well, the way they read it, you're living it. I don't think I stopped crying until the end of it. It was just, it just hit home. They read my letters, too.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: So tell me about your time in Jerome, a little bit about your living conditions there, what you did every day.

JH: That'll be fun. [Laughs] Well, when we first arrived, we were given this barrack room that's about the size of this room, and the length. So my three sisters -- I mean, my two sisters, myself, and my mother were in there. And she had to get to know the area. During that time, I'm not too clear what we did after we got into that room, 'cause I know that we were supposed to go to school. Somehow or other I landed up in Miss Avery's first grade class. So we would walk to school, and then I remember we would go over these planks, because there were ditches, when the water runs off from the snow, it collects in there. So we would go through that, cut through the barracks. I remember when I was in school they taught us how to hold a baton. And one of the people from Hawaii made all these majorette hats, you know, those tall hats out of oatmeal boxes. So it was really neat. Somebody has a picture of that, I don't have it, though.

MA: And what was the relationship like between the people from Hawaii and the mainland? Because there was a large contingency from Hawaii.

JH: Uh-huh. In 38, 39 and 40 blocks. We stuck together more because we spoke the same language, but after a while we got to speak "good English," as they called it. In Hawaii they say "(haolefied)." So when I first met somebody, of course, I used my pidgin, and they didn't know what the heck I was saying. But I learned fast how to say, "What is your name? Where are you from?" Because those are the things that we usually used to ask each other in Hawaii when we first met other students, yeah.

MA: Do you think there was a difference even between people from Hilo, for example, and people from Honolulu?

JH: Oh, yes, great difference. If you go to Honolulu now, I mean, even my niece who was born in Honolulu has a distinct accent. It's not pidgin, but when they speak it's very different. It's not like how the kotonks speak either, but they speak "good English," but they have this funny accent. So I know when they're from Honolulu. Now, when we were in camp, though, most of us communicated with pidgin English. The reason they needed pidgin English was the diverse population in the islands, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, the Hawaiians, Portuguese. So in order to communicate, they had to make this pidgin English. And it's called creolized English, but it's a definite language, it's recognized as that. So that's what we did, we used to speak that. And then the kids started speaking "good English," so eventually the mothers would pick it up the same way.

For recreation, there was a forest there next to my block. And there were four barns, I remember, erected. All the time, I thought there were three, 'cause I think we never went in the fourth barn. But they were one after the other, and there was a drainage ditch. I remember when the Mississippi overflowed, they had swimming races in it, yeah. My one thought was, "What if they get bitten by the water moccasin? Because that's the first thing they told us. I'd never seen a snake before, I've heard about it, and I remember my mother bought me these boots that we wore when the place got flooded. And the people who had lived there long enough told us, "If you see bubbles in the water, stop." So whenever we went, we would look for the bubbles. [Laughs] So I never got bitten, thank goodness.

Then they also had to cut their own fuel for the blocks, so they would go out into the forest, cut the wood, and stack it. I think, I'm not sure, east, west, north or what. But anyways, on the back side of the laundry and the bathroom, so it was a huge building. So what we did, as kids, was we would go up on the woodpile and empty the middle. And of course we would play Cowboys and Indians and Cops and Robbers and Hide and Seek or whatever you want. But we used that.

MA: Did you ever go into town?

JH: We were allowed to go to this town that I don't even remember the name of. I asked Big John Ellington, "Was there a town near here before?" I said I remember that they were all black people there, and they had a boardwalk. You know, the sidewalks were made out of boards. So the first thing when I went there with my mother, I said to my mother, "How come got Hawaiians here?" Because I had never seen a black person before that. That was the first time.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MA: And so tell me about your reunion with your father and when he came back.

JH: Well, like I say, most of 'em had to come back late. They had to get off about midnight or so. I remember my mother telling 'em that he was arriving, and I think it must have been in December of '43 or '44, one of those years, I can't remember which year. And she made sure we were in bed and asleep because it was gonna be late. But I'm always curious. I couldn't sleep, but I didn't let my mother know. So we were in a bigger room, we were in, I think 39-13-A, I'm not sure what our address was there. But it was a larger room, and my dad came in the door real late. That's the first time I saw my mother and father hug each other. [Laughs] And I was very happy, but I went to sleep, because I was supposed to listen to my mother, I'm not supposed to have been awake. It's private time for them.

MA: And then the next day...

JH: The next day it was really nice to have him there. Because soon after, I think we had snowfall. We always had hail, which I'd never seen either. And it was just fun. During that winter when there were icicles on the eaves, I'm sure you people have that. Well, the people from Hawaii, where they got it, I don't know, but they had syrup. So the teens would get on the barrack roof and pour the syrup down each icicle and we'd have popsicles. I was, I mean, I don't know why I remembered that, but I remember that. We made a snowman, and we wanted to -- see, people from Hilo say "shave ice," right? People from the other islands say "ice shave." We had to be different, you know. So I remember where that block was where we got the popsicles from. In the morning, I think the morning that it snowed, one of the residents of that particular barrack went out and got all the fresh snow and made shave ice. We had shave ice in winter, which is weird.

MA: That's great, though.

JH: But we, they managed to bring a little bit of what we did, our culture back. And the kotonks -- sorry -- learned a lot of our language. So by the time we were in Arizona, in Gila, my father used to be the, one of the cooks in there. He was not very good at cooking, though. But they would ring this triangular bell, you know, when it's time to eat. Now, I think it's only our block in Arizona. When he rang it, with his loud voice, he'll say, "Kau kau, kau kau." Everybody knew what it was, "time to eat dinner." That's Hawaiian. [Laughs] But it was hilarious, you know. But in Jerome, I was terribly homesick, yeah. I dreamt about that scene I told you almost every night.

MA: And tell me about your, so you ended up transferring to Gila.

JH: Uh-huh.

MA: And why did that happen? Was it that Jerome was closing at the time?

JH: Jerome was about to become a POW camp. So years later, when I actually became very friendly with Big John Ellington --

MA: I'm sorry, who was Big John?

JH: He's now the owner of the land that Jerome was situated on. And he was farming -- when we first met him -- we took this trip for the southern camps, we met him there. And then I remember I was looking down at his driveway and I said, "That's the, those are the stones from the camp. May I have some?" Because the ones that I had brought home, so nicely wrapped, my mother threw away. So I have them now. But Big John is a wonderful, six-foot-six-and-a-half-inch-tall man. And he would come to every single reunion we had for Jerome.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: We were talking about how Jerome, your transfer to Gila...

JH: Oh, okay. John told us later that when they came, there were Italians and Germans. And they said, "You guys were lucky, you had your cots. They jammed them in the rooms." You know, they weren't treated very humanely, I think.

MA: Okay, so then Jerome was being turned into something else.

JH: Yes, was converted to POW. So people, most of them went to Rohwer, which is north of Jerome. Others opted for other camps, but we went to Gila. How we ended up there, I have no idea, unless the Hawaii people got together and said they would rather go someplace where it's warm. That's the only reason I can think of, but a whole contingent of us left for Gila in Arizona.

MA: And how did Gila, I mean, compare with Jerome? What was your experience like at Gila?

JH: That's the first time I ever saw so much sand in my life. We had more freedom in Gila. There were two camps, Butte and Canal, and I remember there was two hills. One hill had the names of the men who were killed in action in the 442, and the other held this huge tank for the water. And then the Kibei and bachelors, every time it was summer, they would sit at the base, 'cause there's a little ledge like this, and the water would be dripping over, that's how they kept cool. So the difference is the weather was different. We had to use swamp coolers during the summer. It got very, very hot in the afternoons. But being kids, hey, I'm not gonna take a nap. So what we did was we would go into the laundry room and fill up the tubs. And so all us kids would get into each washbasin, you know, like we're swimming. And other times, some of the fathers dug cellars under the barracks. And I remember I went down with one of my playmates, and the scorpions were that huge, okay. And I found out the little ones are the ones that really kill you. But the big ones, if you knew 01-41:40 how to catch them, they're very interesting. So they would get bottles from the mess hall and put all the scorpions in, and I'm thinking, "What are you gonna do with it?" But it was nice not to have them close and sting me.

MA: So when you say you had more freedom in Gila, was that...

JH: You know, it was on the Indian reservation. And they harnessed the Gila River in order for, to use for water. We could go on picnics, and I know that there's two hills, and then there's about three more taller hills. So we went around that, and they had this Hawaii picnic as they called it. Now, I don't know where they got the food from, but they got the food.

MA: What food did they have?

JH: Usually sandwiches and... did they have musubi? 'Cause I know they served us rice. But I guess they just, they just congregated together, 'cause we lived close to each other in the camps, or in the same block.

MA: And did you go to school also in Gila? Did you attend elementary school?

JH: Uh-huh. I... well, my first and second grades were in Jerome, and then my third and partially fourth were in Arizona.

MA: So really the, most of your education up to that point had been in the camp, right? 'Cause you started school in Jerome.

JH: I started school in kindergarten, but that was the Hilo Hongwanji, they had their kindergarten class, and that's the one I attended just when I went into first grade, was when my mother was told that we have to leave. So when I got back to Hilo, it was like going to a foreign land, 'cause I knew nobody. I didn't have any... except the people that had come back with us.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MA: And then how long did you stay in Gila?

JH: Until the end of the war, when the war ended.

MA: So August of '45.

JH: Did we leave then? No, we stayed longer than that. I think because they needed to find out a place to put us, you know, when we got out of camp.

MA: Because you were from Hawaii?

JH: Yeah. I believe I told you about this woman named Sherry, she said she was born in Gila, and that they, her family was the last one to leave camp. I mean, her family alone, because they did not have a place to go. But she says, "The Hawaiians left before us," right before they left. I remember that we were taken in Greyhound buses, and we were sent to California in that area called Santa Ana at the time. It became Tustin Air Base after that. But we were in barracks there, and there was an airfield right next to these barracks. So we used to watch the planes taking off, landing, and there was a blimp hangar at the other end, across the airfield. And I remember when we arrived, we went under a blimp, and then we went around that airfield, and then stayed in those barracks for three weeks. In the meantime, how did they did it, they arranged for us to go sightseeing in Los Angeles. I remember going to see Santa Monica, and there was a park that overlooks the ocean, it's like a cliff, and you see houses down there. I remember that part. We also went to the L.A. Zoo, and they had a gorilla. But the gorilla wasn't in an area like in San Diego Zoo or some of the other zoos. They had him in a glass cage-like thing. So when I went out to look at him, of course he went and spit at me. [Laughs] But I knew, I thought I would be safe because they have him in that glass thing. It was so weird. I'd never seen them put a gorilla or anything in a glass, like dome like this.

MA: Okay, so you were in Santa Ana for three weeks and then went back to Hilo?

JH: Uh-huh. We went on a troop ship. So they brought us down from what is now Orange County to L.A. port in Wilmington, which is just down there. And then we boarded this troop ship to return to Hawaii. There were a lot of soldiers on there, and there were, I remember as we were leaving the port, it was Long Beach, you saw the breakwater, and then there were two little lighthouse to show where the entrance and the exit is. It's still there. So as we went out, the water was fine. As soon as we got in, and there were no stabilizers in those days. So the boat was going like this and like this [motions rolling and pitching movement] but the soldiers pulled us up and we watched the Grapes of Wrath in there, you know, the movie. After that, I was sick. [Laughs] I was so sick, that ship was going this way, that way.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MA: And what was your first day like back in Hawaii?

JH: We were moored in Honolulu, okay. So we stayed a week with my auntie's friends. First thing I wanted was, I think I told you, chazuke and koko, is what we say. You know, takuan and chazuke. So I ate that. It was so good, but my stomach wasn't big enough for it and it wasn't ready for it, so I ran out of the kitchen over to the back side and vomited everything out. Oh, I felt so bad. But we didn't go too many places in Honolulu, we just stuck around the house. Did we see anybody off? I don't know. 'Cause each island, they would drop people off. So when we left, we left on the inter-island boat, I imagine it was inter-island boat, I'm not sure. But I can tell you one thing. We stopped in Maui and my mother said she wanted to go see relatives, so they got off the boat and left us. So the crew knew that there were a lot of kids on board, so what they did was give us a jitterbug show. It was one of the best jitterbugs I've ever seen in my life. They did all the things like going -- two men, now, under the legs, throwing over the back, and I have never seen anybody doing that in real life, except on TV. [Laughs] That I remember so distinctly. So when they came back on board, we left again, and then returned to Hilo. And as we're coming in, there's a breakwater because they don't have a natural reef. So as we got in and turned to go to the port, my dream was there. Shafts of light, you know, the clouds, and I think I stared at it until we moored. And my parents and I were looking down to see who came, and it was, her sister had come to pick us up. So we lived with my auntie for a while.

MA: Because your home had been sold, right?

JH: We didn't have any home. It had already been sold. My paternal uncle Ray had kept the family car, and my father decided, well, we don't have money, so he asked my aunt if he could repair appliances. He took appliance repair courses while he was in Arizona, it was correspondence courses. So he built his own radio and we used to listen to Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, whatever came on. But it was very good because we didn't have that in Arkansas. But so he began that. He started to repair appliances, and then decided that he would open up a shop in Hilo town to repair appliances.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

JH: That particular day is worse than World War II, I think, as far as Hilo is concerned. He was going to open on April 1, 1946. I never knew where that shop was. Because when my uncle came down with the car from where he lived, which is Kaumana Five Miles on the Big Island, he had, he looked... you can't help but see the bay because you're coming down. And he told us that the bay was completely empty, no water. So he stopped by where our old library was, which is next to this bridge, Wailuku Bridge is what we called it. Got out of the car and went to watch. Then the first huge tsunami came in and took away this railroad bridge. They used to use this bridge transport for sugar cane. So that bridge got washed out. And Hawaiians are superstitious. I mean, they have a lot of tales, but there's this huge rock in Wailuku River, and the Hawaiians always say, "If that rock gets covered, there is a lot of big trouble that's gonna happen." Well, that first wave covered it. So my uncle got into the car, came to where we were, and I'm washing dishes 'cause I'm getting ready for school, I was in the fourth grade. And my mother was standing -- I remember her first language was Japanese even though she's Nisei. So he came walking around the corner, 'cause we were living in the basement. And then she took one look at him and she says, he looked funny, she said. But what he said was, "Tsunami ga kita." And I'm looking at him and I'm saying, "What's tsunami?" And he's trying to describe it to my mother, "Good April Fool, no?" [Laughs] So we got in the car, and they were going to drop me off at school. But as we went down from my, on Lei Street and turned where my elementary school was, you could see this pond called Wailoa pond. And there were rooftops everywhere with people standing on it. So I said, "Uh-uh, I'm not getting off." So we went into Hilo town, and he parked the car across from the police station thinking that, "Oh, well, it'll be safe for us there." So we stayed in the car while they just dashed every which way. He must have gone to see whether his shop was still there. And no, everything was washed away.

MA: So the tsunami came and basically destroyed the town?

JH: It was three big tsunamis. They had little ones in between, but the third wave was the largest. Because we were in town, and facing the ocean, my sisters and I were like this watching out of the rear window. And I remember seeing this bus that was kitty-corner, and this guy goes in there. And then there's this house, two-story business underneath, living quarters upstairs, and he was shouting to all these people. Because Hilo opens early and shuts early, so it must have been about eight o'clock in the morning. Everybody's standing right here around the, and up like this and they're yelling at each other. And as they're doing that, I notice that this huge wall of water was coming. I'd never seen anything like that. So it lifted the house up, and the house floated away Telephone pole fell down, it went over that bus, and I always end up telling everybody that was the first marathon I ever saw. And they all ran uphill, and women wore heels in those days. I never saw so many people running up that hill. But that was the one that did the most damage, that third one.

MA: And so I imagine it pretty much destroyed large parts of Hilo, right?

JH: Oh, it took away the waterfront portion of Hilo, yeah, all of it. And then I had spent the weekend at this place called Shinmachi, which means "new town." It was like a Japanese tenement area. Lot of Japanese people lived there, and they had shops in front. One side's the ocean, the other side's Wailoa River and the pond. So I would have been there had it not been a weekday. Because I went to see my surrogate big sister's family, who was very close to us, the Odachis. And the three of us were there. My youngest sister was only three years old, so Mrs. Odachi said, "Why don't you stay over?" And then she thought about it and she said, "Nah, there's not going to be anybody there. Everybody's going to school."

MA: So did your family friends, were they okay?

JH: They were all okay. Luckily, when the wave came, the first wave came, it swept them into the Wailoa pond. And the pond isn't that deep; I didn't realize that the pond was not deep. I thought it was very deep. Now, the youngest in the family was a boy, and he couldn't swim. Mother couldn't swim, but they lived in that Tennrikyo temple. And then they had a bachelor that lived underneath, because her husband had died. And when that wave came in, there were people waiting outside, across from the ocean, and noticed that the ocean was getting, there was no ocean, in other words. And they saw fish flopping all over the place. So being April 1st, though, they never thought about it. They ran in, and then tried to warn their parents and tell them, "There's no water in the bay." And then the first wave came. So we lived with the tsunami survivors, because my father's business was taken away. So we lived with them in this old Japanese school, language school, called Dokuritsu Gakkou. And the classrooms were our apartments. And I got to learn a lot about what had happened to all of 'em. It was really sad. And there were others that had temporary housing near what we called Hoolulu Park. It was for horse racing or for other uses, recreational use. There were barracks around there that soldiers had used before. So a lot of the Shinmachi people managed to get a barrack home there, including the Odachis.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: So Shinmachi was pretty much gone after the tsunami.

JH: Oh, it was gone. Now, they do not build anything on the waterfront. The old Hilo is still there, but across the street, it's a highway. And then the main street in Hilo is called Kamehameha Avenue. So the homes that were facing the ocean, I mean, the businesses, are still there, but it's more like a tourist town now, more than anything. Everybody goes to Prince Kuhio to shop there instead now.

MA: So Shinmachi, though, was really the Japanese community?

JH: Yeah, it was a Japanese town concentrated with people that did not have enough money to buy their own homes. I think they were rentals. My father was lucky, my parents were lucky that we got that home. My old home is still there.

MA: In Shinmachi, were there also shops and little restaurants?

JH: Yeah, mainly shops. No, I don't think there were any restaurants. But it was like, the shops, like I said, were facing the ocean. And then behind them was the Wailoa River, and Shinmachi was like on a peninsula. Because if you go down Kamehameha Avenue now, there was a, there is a bridge. They built a new one over the old one, but we used to go over that bridge, and that's where the Wailoa River would drain out.

MA: And so your father's shop, right, was gone.

JH: Was gone. I have no idea where it was, except that it was in Hilo town.

MA: And what did your family do after that? You said you had to stay in, with the rest of the tsunami survivors?

JH: Yeah, we had to stay... so we managed to move from my auntie's house into Dokuritsu Gakkou. And there was this rich man who owned Moses Company, his name was Mr. Moses. He had a music section, he had a stationery section, and he had an appliance department. So he gave my father a job there. My father became the manager of the appliance department. He never, ever forgot Mr. Moses. Because when he went back to, I call it "Hellco" -- [laughs] -- he asked his old boss for his job back, and the boss told him, "I'm not hiring no Jap spy." That's why he had to look for something else to do.

MA: And this was the job he had before the war?

JH: Yeah. Wouldn't take him back. But Mr. Moses came to the rescue.

MA: And where did your family move to after that?

JH: Then... where did we go from there? Dokuritsu Gakkou?

MA: Because you had kind of been living with relatives and then...

JH: Then we went to that Dokuritsu Gakkou with the tsunami victims, then I think we moved to the naval air station. There were still barracks there next to the airport, and they were two-story. So some apartments were small, some were larger. So we got one on the second floor, and our neighbors were owners of Hilo Quality Cleaners, I think. So years later, I met their son. There was a couple and the sister that lived there, no children yet. So I have a lot of stories to tell him if I ever get to know him better. [Laughs]

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MA: So I'm curious about when you went back to school in Hilo, and how that was for you. You mentioned before that it was almost like going back to a foreign country or something.

JH: Uh-huh. The reason for that is I was "haolified." I spoke good English, my cousins made fun of me. They would call me upstairs to their living quarters and say, "Ay, go say something. Go say something." So I would say, "What do you want me to say?" and then they would start laughing, you see. And my sister thinks that they were amused just because I spoke like a kotonk, but they weren't making fun of me. I figured they were making fun of me, because I'm nine years old, I know. So when I went back to school, they put me in... they had A, B, C classes. A is where all the smart ones are, B is average, C is, you know, those that have some problems learning. Well, I went into the B because my parents couldn't produce the report cards. They were very accepting, very nice to me. I really enjoyed being in that class, my teacher was Mrs. Chalmers, she was a tall blond woman. And then the principal decides one day, after looking at the grades that I'd made there, apparently, to put me in A class. So she came one day, took me to that A class, left me outside and says, "You go in that room." So I waited for her to leave and I went back to Mrs. Chalmers. The next day, the same thing happened. She leaves me outside, I wait... the third day, she took me in there. I couldn't escape. [Laughs] But you see, when you have people who are very smart who are up in the social echelon, they're snobbish. So when I went in there, I didn't feel like I fit, because they were in their own little cliques. So I had a really difficult time psychologically. My self-esteem was low, I was always the low one on the totem pole. Didn't help that Mrs. Kealoha said she knew me when I was small -- that's my teacher -- when I was a baby, she knew my family. And her husband was Chairman of Hilo, which is like a mayor. She goes and she tells the class, "Oh, June was such a cute little baby. I've known her for a long time. She had the most cutest pug nose you ever saw." Where does that get you? So I really had a hard time fitting in. Even though I spoke pidgin, I was never totally accepted by a clique, you know.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: And did the children or the other students know about what had happened with you being sent to camp?

JH: No, they didn't.

MA: Did kids talk about that at all?

JH: They didn't.

MA: So really there was not a lot of awareness about...

JH: No. My father kept it alive, though. When I moved up here, I met some of the internees from the different camps. All of them would not talk about it. All of them felt hazukashi, very ashamed. So most all the kotonks that I used to speak to about camp, I'm the one that's saying, "Hey, I went to camp, too, you know." And, "No, nobody from Hilo," or, "nobody from Hawaii went." I said, "I beg to differ." And even when I went to college, much later in my years, I went to Harbor College and I took history there, 'cause that was one of the requirements. Never said a word throughout the whole thing, just listening and taking notes. And one day, we came, the book was open and there was just one line, one sentence: "All the Japanese were put away in camps on the West Coast." Okay, that would have been fine, but the teacher decided to qualify that. "But nobody from Hawaii was ever put into a camp." [Raises hand] First time I spoke in class, and I told him, "I beg to differ." And he said, "Why?" "Because people from Hawaii were put into camp." And he says, "Show me the proof." I said, "Right here." And I said, "Will you please teach people that people from Hawaii, about two thousand of them, were sent out. So he was one of the first ones that knew that people from Hawaii, I think, were sent out. And when the museum opened, of course, they started to try to get all the stories.

MA: But I think, still, there's not a widespread awareness of what happened in Hawaii.

JH: No. The reason for those conventions is because I think Arkansas was the first state that mandated the teaching of the internment camps. Even here, until the 442, I think, opened their exhibits and things, you know, the monument, up until that time, I don't think much was taught about the internment. People who were in internment camps would be asked to go to schools while they're learning if their kids knew about their parents or grandparents being in internment camp. I remember my son, while I was working, I had to take time off, my son said, "Can you come and tell my classmates in AP History about being in camp?" So he says, "And I'm gonna get a lot of points with this." [Laughs] So I went to Banning High School, and I spoke to them and told them my experience. So little by little, it was being brought out. I give my father a lot of credit for making me open. Because many of our friends who had been in camp never spoke about it even in Hilo. Never wanted to quite remember it.

In the Odachi family, I have a classmate. She's, that whole family is close to us. My father literally adopted them. So her name is like my name, she has the same name, June Mitsuko. So I was asking her, "Do you remember camp?" 'Cause she's a year older than I, but we were in the same grade. She says, "No, I don't remember anything." And so I made a tape for her, and I sent it to her so that she would try to get the memories out, you know, from her subconscious. But she has absolutely no memory.

MA: And did your father speak to you about camp or speak to the family?

JH: Uh-huh.

MA: Is that how he kept it alive?

JH: Yeah. Besides that, he had his paintings, his pictures. And when he used to speak to the Sunday school kids, I remember we were back in Hilo maybe, just about a month or so. And he was again active there. So I remember it was his time to give the sermon for the kids. And he started it something like this: "Once upon a time there was a man, and these people came and picked him up and took him to a place where there was barbed wire and camps, barracks, and made sure that he was safe." He turned it around. He said, "Then none of those bad people would come and kill us or harm us." So because of that, I was never bitter. But it took a long time psychologically to fit into, back into Hawaii's culture.

MA: I think especially because you spent so much of your childhood on the mainland.

JH: Yeah, those three years --

MA: Three years are important.

JH: -- really made a difference. Because my husband, who is also from Hilo, they would talk among themselves. And their words that they used, that I had no idea what they are, what does it mean? When we get together, though, you know we're from Hawaii because we just go right into pidgin. But there are words that, to this day, I have to keep asking, "What do they mean?" So those three years really made a big difference.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MA: I want to ask you about your father's art and what you, I guess, learned about his journey through his artwork. Because I imagine he documented a lot of what was happening around him during those years.

JH: The whole thing. He began at Kilauea Military Camp. And there's a... that particular picture he watercolored. So I remember Gary Okihiro asking me, "Where is that picture?" 'cause he wanted to put it on his, as a book cover. But he put cane fields or something on that one. And so he started with that, and then he would draw little portraits, all pen, and then some of 'em he would, it would be very detailed. Some were sketches. And then I know at the end of the books, he did portraits of all the Hawaii people, and then he drew a portrait of I think a corporal and the commander of the camp. And everyone autographed their pictures. So there is, there was a paper article, there was an article in Hawaii saying, "Do you know these men?" And they had all the portraits my father had put on. "Do you know what happened to them?" is what it is. So that article is in that book if you want to see it.

MA: But there was probably no photography or any other way to document the camp, right, other than these paintings?

JH: No, there wasn't. But how he did it was they took a picture of all the mothers and children in individual family units. Now, who took the pictures, I don't know, but it was done in Jerome. No idea who did it. No, you weren't allowed cameras, but I think like Toyo Miyatake, he put parts of it and brought in. And then I found out from one of my fellow internees who was also my classmate, that her father had taken reels and reels of movies. And they weren't stored right, but when she found them, she donated them to the Japanese American National Museum. And she said they could only save a little bit of it. So I'm not sure which film they used it in.

MA: But your father, being in Lordsburg and Santa Fe, his paintings were really some of the only documentation?

JH: Of Lordsburg, yeah.

MA: Yeah, of Lordsburg.

JH: That's why, as I told you about the Lordsburg museum, it's in, I think it could have been the camp auditorium. And like I told you, I never got to see the pictures in there. I'd like to return, but I'm not really sure where it is. But he does have it, I went through the pictures last night, and he has interior of the barracks, he has what it looks like, 'cause they were outside of town. And there are other pictures like Mr. Odachi lying in his bed and Mr. Odachi being sick. So he documents it according to where he was. Otherwise, I'd never have known where he would have been. And also Joe Ando, who lived in Santa Fe, wanted to have this plaque put up above Santa Fe, because Santa Fe now has all those tract homes. So he managed to get it because he had the support of the mayor, I think. But it took him a long time to get it, and he was very, very upset with me for not being there when they dedicated it. I couldn't go; I was promised to JANM, so my surrogate big sister, Masako, Ebisuzaki, she went.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MA: I wanted to go back a little bit and ask you about high school and how you met your husband, and then how you ended up in California.

JH: Oh, wow. [Laughs] Well, during my intermediate school days, things were better. I never talked about camp, but it was a regular, what do you call that, teenage years. We weren't as naughty as some of 'em are now, but we used to think we were. High school, it was exciting. We had a lot of fun, met new people. Students were bussed in from around the island, you know, along the Hamakua coast, because they don't have a high school.

MA: Which high school did you attend?

JH: Hilo High School. And we learned to dance in gym, I remember. My classmate's sister was the gym teacher, and she taught us how to dance. And I think it was a regular, normal time for me.

MA: What was the, like, ethnic makeup of your class? Mostly Japanese?

JH: Majority Japanese. I have a story to tell which she'd probably find amusing because her last name is similar to mine, my last name. [Referring to videographer] Well, my name was June Hoshida, and then I have a classmate, her name was Judith Hoshide, so I'm wondering if she has any relatives in Hilo. [Laughs] So in one class we sat, I sat first, and then she sat behind me. Regardless of what we told the teacher -- this is high school -- she would inevitably say, "June Hoshide" and "Judith Hoshida." Well, one day we both rebelled. That one letter made a difference. So when she said the same thing again, I didn't answer. And she called Judy, and Judy didn't answer, so she was kind of PO'd at us. So finally I said, "You have to get our last names correct. We don't know who you're calling." And thereafter, she was okay with that. She called us June Hoshida and Judith Hoshide.

MA: And then how did you end up moving to California?

JH: Well, my husband wanted to go to school here. So we moved up here, and a lot of, most of his family's up here anyway, even though they're from Hilo. So when he came up, he did go to electronic technician's school. But the idea of sitting down indoors did not appeal to him. So he was an auto mechanic and that was his profession until he retired.

MA: And what did you end up doing? You went to college?

JH: Well, I went to... no, I had gone to Queen's Hospital School of Nursing in Honolulu. It's now called the Queen's Medical Center, founded by Queen Emma. I spent three years in a dorm there becoming a registered nurse. They call us diploma nurses. Because I wanted to go to the University of Hawaii and be a public health nurse, but my parents couldn't afford the tuition. And when you compare the tuition now to the tuition then, you wonder, "How come he couldn't afford it?" [Laughs] It was later, toward the end of my career, that I went to work at Cal State University Dominguez Hills, which is maybe about ten minutes away from our house, and I worked at the Student Health Center. Now, while I was there, they didn't have all this conflict about the budget and things, so I decided I'll go and take courses and see if I can get my bachelor's. Tuition was three dollars for me, because I was an employee. And it took me quite a while, 'cause I worked there fifteen years and I was going to school most of the time, taking one course here, one course there, until I finally graduated in '95. And I'm proud to say to my father, "Summa cum laude, Daddy." [Laughs]

MA: That's great, so you graduated in '95.

JH: '95, and in Community Health, Health Sciences. But I haven't really made much use of it. It was before I graduated that one of my instructors asked if I would come on during, go on TV with him in order to teach them about STDs and things that we were counseling the people, the student there. So there were quite a few of the televised things that I did with him. I didn't like it, 'cause it scared the heck out of me.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MA: I wanted to ask you about Carson, and what it was like when you first moved there.

JH: Carson was not incorporated when we first moved. I moved there in '65, before that I lived in Los Angeles city. We moved into a tract home, see, it's a Ray Watt home. And most of the places around us were still agricultural. Roads weren't fixed or anything, we had no sidewalks. Now it looks like anyplace else because the roads have been built up, more homes have cropped up. But I've been there for... how old is Jeff? Forty-five years?

MA: What was, when you first moved, what was the ethnic makeup of Carson? Were there any Japanese?

JH: No, it was very diverse. I think we had one of the most diverse cities. There were equal amounts of Asians, whites, blacks and Hispanics living there, it's amazing.

MA: And does that carry over for these forty years? Is it still...

JH: I think there's, I think it's still about the same, except that now the Asians are Filipinos. There's a little tract just below Cal State Dominguez Hills. Around it, a bigger one was built, but right in the middle there's these older homes. That place, a lot of Japanese Americans lived there. I'm not sure if they're still there or not, because you know how, what's happening is as the black people started moving, these people would move out. Now the Hispanics are moving down, and so the blacks have gone. It's constantly changing. My tract, I think, now has a lot more Filipinos. And I have a Cuban next door, across the street a Hispanic family just moved in.

MA: So very diverse still.

JH: Very. And on the other side is a black family whom we're very friendly with, 'cause they've been in there a long time, too. But we were original owners, so we've been in there a long time. I guess we got too lazy looking for another house.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MA: Well, I wanted to ask you your thoughts about redress, you know, the government apology and reparations for the internment, and what you think is the importance of redress and the legacy of redress.

JH: I think the most important thing was the apology. I could use the money, but I was very sad because my mother and father had died, and of course they couldn't receive that, but my sisters got 'em. But I appreciated that apology a lot, and I have it framed. My one regret is I didn't copy the check. [Laughs] You know, then I'd have that and the check underneath it, even though it's a copy. But I wish my parents had their redress, 'cause they really lost a lot of money. They had a hard time. Once we moved back, my father got that good job with Mr. Moses. My mother worked for Y. Hata Dry Goods as a seamstress, and I think Mr. Hata also went to camp with my dad. Because when I was looking through his pictures, they have Y. Hata in there, dry goods. So he must have been one of the many.

MA: But those who, the Isseis and that generation really didn't, a lot of them didn't get to see the apology.

JH: Yeah, a lot of them didn't live to see that thing. Wasn't it George W. Bush? No, W.H. Bush?

MA: I think it started under Reagan, but it was officially signed by the senior Bush.

JH: By Bush, I think, yeah. And then by that time, 'cause my father died in '85 and my mother died in '61. So they never got to see it.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MA: And tell me about your... 'cause I know that you go to a lot of reunions and pilgrimages, and you're very active with JANM. If you could talk about that and what that means to you, your volunteer work with the community.

JH: I think the main reason I went was because my sister, who was my father's executor, decided that his pictures would be better up here. And so she gave the notebooks to Pam Funai, who used to work at the museum. So when Pam first came up, she brought those, and we donated it. Then I decided since my letters might deteriorate, 'cause he had 'em in these large folders, I donated that to the museum. Then my son copied the self-published autobiography that my father wrote, which is at the museum. Well, I put that in my son's name, because he had copied it. I mean, that book is that thick, and it has not been edited, it's exactly the way he wrote it, he typed it out. So there's a lot of repetition in there, but you get the gist of the story. So I gave them a copy, but I did not want to give them the original one, because he had leather covers put on that. So they have it in HNRC there.

MA: So your father's artwork really brought you to all of this.

JH: That brought me, yeah. And then discovering that nobody seemed to know that people from Hawaii were in camp. That was another reason. And what really urged me on was this woman who writes a column for the Daily Breeze, our newspaper. And one, she had written in there, years ago, that this man, who went to one of the camps, who was about my age, would go from school to school and he would recount his time in the internment camps. But he always said, "Nobody from Hawaii ever went in." And you know, I decided, "Hey, somebody has to tell the story about people from Hawaii." So this is why I've been active in the museum and participated in their panels. So there were two panels I really did participate in, the first one being the one at the... I can never remember the name of the, Bonaventure, the round hotels, anyway, in town. We had the all-camp reunion there, thing. So I was on a panel with Dennis Ogawa from Hawaii, professor. I remember sitting there thinking, "They told me there would be two others recounting the internment camp things." So I turned to Dennis, who was teaching in Hawaii, he's from... I don't know what's... from here, anyway, mainland. So I turned to him before we started and I said, "What am I gonna do? I hope your speech is long." 'Cause he gave the historical background about people going, everything that's historical. And then he finished and I went, "Oh my god, what am I gonna do?" So I'm looking around the room, pinpointed my friends, pinpointed the volunteers. But the Kirita sisters were sitting in front, and they went to camp with us, so I decided I'll speak to them. So the advice Dennis gave me was, "June, talk story." Because that's what they do in Hawaii, they say, "talk story," meaning, "tell stories about what happened," or your memories or anything. So I said, "Okay," so I "talked story." And I guess I must have filled that whole thing. I think I spoke for, I don't know how long, hour, longer than that. 'Cause Dennis didn't speak very long. But I did speak to the Kirita sisters and looked at some of the volunteers. 'Cause I was amazed to see who was sitting in there.

MA: Well, I think it's great that you've done so much work to really educated the public about the experience of Japanese...

JH: I want them to know because my parents went through so much. And as much as Hawaii is not supposed to be discriminatory, when we got back, we had that stigma. So a lot of the people that I knew who had been in camp, we kind of stuck together in school. But as the years went on, people forgot about it. Then they started saying, "Now, we have to let everybody know that people were interned and how they felt." So as it got more publicity, I think more of the people that were taken from the West Coast started speaking out. After my mother had died, my father met a woman in Honolulu from the Yashima family. So her sister is married to, was married to this man who lives in Madera, which is twenty miles above Fresno, if you know where Fresno is. Well, when I met him, he was the nicest man. So I used to call him Uncle Sunny, 'cause his name is S-U-N-N-Y. Then I talked to him about camp, and I asked him, "Where did you go to camp?" And he says, "I was in Jerome." I said, "Wow, I was there, too." So there was a connection there, it was really interesting. But he died, 'cause he was in his '80s, he died maybe about four years ago.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MA: Well, is there anything else you would like to share? Any other thoughts or memories or anything?

JH: Oh, not really. I know, I can tell you this: my sister Sandra was very active in trying to get the reparations in Honolulu. She is four years younger than I am, and she's a lawyer. First, she worked for the PUC, and then she opened her own firm and did telecommunications, and then she went from there -- 'cause the economy was getting bad -- and so she is now working for the Young Brothers, it's a barge company, they take goods between islands. So she's there in the legal department there, because she knows how to address the legislature. She used to go before the legislature for the PUC. So I asked her when she called me, I said, "Are you going to be working the rest of your life?" She says, "Yeah, I guess so." [Laughs]

MA: But it seems like her legal background must have been so helpful with the redress.

JH: She is a genius. My sister's IQ is very high. It was very difficult for my kid sister and myself because my father -- which you know now you're not supposed to do this -- my father would compare our report cards. Okay, if I came home with one 'B,' I had failed. My sister Sandra would come home with all 'A's. Every report card, 'cause she has a really high IQ. My younger sister, I asked Carole, "Did you go through what I went through?" when we were talking. "Yeah," she says, "Daddy always gets mad at me because I'd bring home low grades, and I was on the honor roll." I said, "So was I." But it didn't make any difference to him, he wanted all 'A's. So education was, I think, the core of his whole living. He was self-educated, he left school at eighth grade. My mother never left -- she didn't have much of an education, she went up until fourth grade. But she was such a good seamstress, my god, she was a good dressmaker. I give that woman credit. She was... physically she wasn't perfect, 'cause she always walked with a limp because of that osteomyelitis she had. Now, my kid sister, the youngest one, lives on Maui, and she was like me, a registered nurse. And specialized in eyes, so she worked for an eye clinic. And then had to retire because she wrenched her back. But she's doing okay, I saw her when I went back in September. And then she just became a grandmother, so she had to call me and gloat about it. So I asked her, "Is it a boy or a girl?" "Boy." So this is what I told her: I think Daddy put a curse on us because he couldn't have a son. I have all boys.

MA: How many boys do you have?

JH: I had five sons.

MA: Five sons.

JH: Uh-huh, I had five sons. My eldest was killed on the freeway at age thirty-seven. So that's... it's just like I'm in my mother's shoes when she lost her eldest. My sister Sandra has a boy and a girl, and my youngest one has two boys. See? There's a curse. [Laughs]

MA: You have quite a family, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

JH: Oh, you're welcome. I hope it educates people, and I hope they know that there were camps. There was a huge camp on Oahu, which they recently found, and that Sand Island was an assembly center, and the camps on the other islands.

MA: Well, I think your interview will definitely help educate people.

JH: I hope so, because I want them to know. After I'm gone, my knowledge is gone.

MA: Well, thank you very much. It was great, really great.

JH: Thank you for having me.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.