Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Cedrick M. Shimo Interview
Narrator: Cedrick M. Shimo
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Martha Nakagawa (secondary)
Location: Torrance, California
Date: September 22, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-scedrick-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: And so this was, I'm thinking chronologically, the timing. So about this time was when the mass removal...

CS: It was just beginning.

TI: was just happening.

CS: This was in March, I was in Camp Savage, and I think that's when the evacuation started, around March, right?

TI: March was, I think, Bainbridge Island was the first community, and they were in March. And so what, what was your reaction when you started hearing that the Japanese Americans on the West Coast were being removed and put into camps?

CS: Oh, we were angry, very much so. We had bull sessions, saying, "What are we doing? Why did we volunteer?" Like I mentioned earlier, the cadre, the Nisei soldiers that were running the camp administration and the mess hall and all that, they were calling us inus, I think, "traitors." "How come you guys volunteered for this when our family is being put into camp?" you know. And we were looked down upon at that time. Later on, of course, with the 442 and all that, their attitude changed and they were gung ho. But at that time, March of...

TI: '42?

CS: Yeah. But then, four or five of the cadre were Cougars. [Laughs] So I used to talk with them because they weren't mad at me or anything, you know. But that's where I got the news that, "You guys are considered a bunch of inus." And in fact, one guy, Cougar told me, "I was trying to get you a transfer so you could become a cadre member." [Laughs]

TI: So I'm curious, why did so many of these Cougars, former Cougars explain to the other cadre that you guys weren't, that it was just, it was almost a timing situation. You guys had all agreed to join the MIS before you knew about what was happening on the West Coast.

CS: Yeah.

TI: And so these Niseis who were part of the cadre assumed that you were just more pro-administration, sort of the same group that was rounding up these people. It just seems like an unfortunate sort of communication.

CS: Yeah, I think I mentioned this... did I talk about that? About this Takahashi, that nighttime, stoked the potbelly stove, the coal, so the room, kept it warm. And I was, my bunk was right next to the... but I could hear him muttering, "Damn traitors, inus," I think he was purposely making a big racket so we can't sleep, you know. Takahashi wasn't, no, he wasn't a Cougar.

TI: And so what was the reaction of this new class, the second class? I mean, being called inu, dog, and things like that --

CS: Oh, I don't think they knew. I don't think they knew, 'cause I knew because I had contact with the cadres because of the Cougar association. They probably didn't know.

TI: Well, how did you feel then? 'Cause you, when your friends told you --

CS: Oh, that time when the bull session was real angry, but we were prepared to go overseas. I kept studying and everything, but I guess that's the Japanese tradition, you would think, shikata ga nai, and we were studying, and I expected to go overseas and everything. But still, you see the injustice of it all.

TI: And when you say these "angry bull sessions," how many men do you think were with you talking?

CS: Well, right in the barracks there, there were about four or five of us. There was Clifford Tanaka, I don't know if you know him. He was the first Japanese American stockbroker. After he got kicked out, he got a medical discharge, went to Columbia, and along with Asaichi Hieshima, we were all in UCLA together, and he got a medical discharge and went to Tulane and became a doctor. So I tried to get a medical discharge, but I couldn't. And I don't know how they did it, so they were smarter than me.

TI: And so this group, you guys would sit around because your bunks were nearby, and you would talk about what was happening to your families.

CS: Yeah.

TI: And during this time, your family, what was going on with your mother? You mentioned she was --

CS: Well, my father was already picked up by the FBI, and my mother was all alone, so a friend lived with her. And then she moved to another big house with other Japanese just waiting for the order. In fact, I got a furlough when I was at Camp Grant, or was it... I forgot. Anyway, I got a furlough and I helped her pack and dispose of our property and all that.

TI: Okay, so you helped her kind of move, or get rid of her stuff, I guess.

CS: Yeah. And then I was amazed at all the Isseis, they're so stoic. There was no panic, there was nothing. They're just sitting and waiting, obediently waiting to be kicked out. [Laughs]

TI: And when you returned, I mean, so you saw the Isseis, what else was going on in the community that you observed?

CS: When?

TI: When you had enough furlough and you came back to help your mother. What else did you observe during that time? Anything else?

CS: I didn't see much difference. I guess even the Niseis, the stoicism, they were accepting, they were laughing and joking around and everything seemed normal. There was no panic or people complaining. Maybe they were complaining inside, within themselves, but they all accepted it, shikata ga nai.

TI: So it sounds like you were a little surprised by people's reactions. What were you expecting?

CS: No, I wasn't expecting anything. I just wanted to, got to help my mother. And I could visit my friends, and everything seems... if there was no war, you'd think it was still normal.

TI: Okay. So going back to Camp Savage, these angry bull sessions was where we left it off. So what happened after that, after the... so you're hearing about this, angry bull sessions?

CS: Just before graduation, we were given two weeks' furlough, so I applied for Manzanar. And at that time, already, the West Coast was closed now, and no Niseis, even soldiers, were allowed on the West Coast. So my application to go to Manzanar was turned down. And that's when my blood began to boil. Said, "Wait a minute. I'm going to go overseas and I can't go to California?" So immediately I wrote a letter saying, "I'd like to remain in the MIS, but I no longer am willing to go overseas, but I'd like to remain." That's why... you were talking about Aiso, I just summarily was kicked out. And I was so mad then, I said, "That damn Aiso didn't interview me." He probably gave the order, you know, to go out, not hearing our side of the story. So he was hated by a lot of the MIS people, too, he was pretty rough on them. So I didn't know at that time, but at that time, I should have put him on my hit list, but I didn't. [Laughs]

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