Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frances Midori Tashiro Kaji Interview
Narrator: Frances Midori Tashiro Kaji
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Martha Nakagawa (secondary)
Location: Torrance, California
Date: September 21, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrances-01-0010

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TI: So let's sort of move on to December 1941. Now, how old were you when December 7th happened? Do you remember what grade you were in and how old you were?

FK: I was, I think I was in eighth grade.

TI: And so just as a, kind of a snapshot, so I understand, so you're eighth grade, what's going on with the rest of your family? So your father, mother, your older sisters, tell me what was happening.

FK: Well, my oldest sister had just started, enrolled at Santa Barbara State. She was in her third year of school, she was majoring in dietetics. And, let's see... I didn't even know where Santa Barbara was, but she was gone. And that Sunday morning, I know I got up and my older sister and I walked to church, because it was Sunday school. And when we turned around and walked home, we could hear on Gardena Boulevard this loud noise, My father was listening to the radio full blast. And, "What's he talking about?" That's where we found out the war had started. But other than that, that's all I remember.

TI: Do you recall your father saying anything about what was happening?

FK: It was hard to comprehend. Next day at school, we found out we had to go for assembly. And at that time, we were practicing for air raids, so we had to learn how to stand in the hallway where the lockers were and just stand there, and that was our protection, standing next to the lockers, that was it. And then all of a sudden, these people you were in school with, a few of them started calling you "Jap." But just a few. It wasn't all that bad in Gardena.

TI: But even with just a few, how did that make you feel when people started calling you "Jap"?

FK: Well, it was confusing, because I thought, "Well, I don't even know where Pearl Harbor is. Where in the world is Hawaii?" And this happened wherever, today's another day. I don't know, it was totally confusing. And then I think we had a special assembly and we had to listen to President Roosevelt. I vaguely remember, but it might be just my imagination, I'm not sure. I don't know, it's a total blank. It's so long ago.

TI: Now, were you still good friends with Pauline?

FK: Yeah.

TI: Did you ever, did Pauline ever say anything about what was happening to you? Did you ever have a conversation with Pauline?

FK: No. Well, in the meanwhile, her father had received a promotion in the LAPD, and they had moved to San Pedro. So I lost touch with her. But other than that, my other hakujin friends were, we were all kids, seventh, eighth grader mentality. That's all I remember. Of course, we had our own problems wondering, "What do we do now?" My parents didn't have any answers.

TI: Well, so how did the outbreak of war affect your father's ability to do business?

FK: Oh, boy. I don't remember. Well, in the meantime, my father, I think we had... I don't know if he was sick at that time or not, but he wasn't working. There's a big blank there, I'm not sure what was happening. I don't remember at all.

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