Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jim M. Tanimoto Interview
Narrator: Jim M. Tanimoto
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Gridley, California
Date: December 10, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-tjim-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

BT: I just wanted to go back to Tule Lake, because about the time that you got out of the CCC camp, that was when all the shifting was going on to create Tule Lake as a segregation center. And did you notice any change, did you sense Tule Lake becoming different after segregation?

JT: Well, we had a group we called the "Wassho gang." And they used --

BT: Oh, you were gone by then.

JT: No. See, they had already sending in the "no-nos" into Tule Lake and the "yes-yes" if they wanted to get out, they could have got out. But there was some group already in there, and they had this group that was, early in the morning put hachimaki on their head and run around. And I remember seeing them, I never joined them, but I remember seeing them. And I don't know if anybody in our block joined their group. We, 'cause after... it was starting to get cold, and these guys were bundled up with sweatshirts. They had their hachimaki on, and they was running around. And I think that probably was in November, December, something like that. 'Cause it was starting to get cold. And just about sometime in January, we got notification that they was going to take us home.

BT: And that was during martial law, right?

JT: Huh?

BT: Martial law was going on during that time.

JT: I'm pretty sure it was, yeah.

BT: Do you remember anything about that period of martial law?

JT: The only thing that I know, that they declared the martial law and said that, "We could do this because the military's taking over, the Constitution doesn't come in effect like if it was civilian, under the civilian rule." The military takes over, they said, it's different. That's what my understanding was.

BT: Did they come and search your barracks?

JT: No.

BT: Because, I mean, this was the Block 42, these were all the protesters. I would think that they might think you might be harboring some of the people who were hiding.

JT: They picked on our block, but they didn't follow up. They didn't question us other than the fact that during that informal hearing that we had, I don't remember even talking to anybody about why we were here or why we were in jail. The only time that I talked to anybody was at that informal hearing where they asked me if I would sign, and I says, "No." And they says, well, they got together and they says, "This man was, this guy was..." they can't call me a man, 'cause to them, I was a kid yet. That I was convinced by some of the older persons and couldn't make up my own mind.

BT: So in Block 42, you don't feel like it got any additional attention from the military during martial law?

JT: I don't think so. Well, they declared martial law when they incarcerated the citizens, the Japanese citizens. Civilian law didn't do that. So did they actually declare another martial law in camp?

BT: Well, yeah, the army took over the camp, and that was in mid-November of '43. But...

JT: Well, you know, there's so many different stories. There was people that signed "yes-yes," they have their story, and the people that signed "no," they got their story, and the people like us that wouldn't sign, we have our story. And I was a resident of Tule Lake, there's a lot of things I didn't know. The book I read, I didn't know those things happened. They talk about, got so bad that they had tanks, and I didn't know that.

BT: I guess you weren't out there at the administration area. [Laughs]

JT: I was there one time. I was in there, and I see people running all over the place. Sometimes there was a group of people running away or running to it, I don't know which way they were going. But all I know is there was a group of people running. Whether they was going to where something was happening, or something happened and they had to run away, I don't know. But I did see a group that was running. Either that... I wasn't that curious of what the heck was going on. To me, that's none of my business.

BT: When you came back after the CCC camp, were you working?

JT: Was I working?

BT: Yeah, did you get a job after coming back?

JT: Yeah. I worked on the freight crew again, and these people that signed "no-no," they were being, coming in to Tule Lake, and we had to move their baggage. Again, we had a group of soldiers that was there, too. And this one soldier, he had only one bullet, too. And the other guy was asking, "Did you get mine?" And he says, "No, I only, they only give me one." He says, "I don't have any bullets." So... and we can hear them guys talking amongst themselves, and we talked to some of the people. All we handled was their baggage. So the baggage, we unloaded from the train, and they assembled at the high school gymnasium, or the big building in the high school. And we would just unload all the baggage there, and they picked up their baggage, I don't know where they left, where they were supposed to go. But they picked up their bags and left.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.