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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is Thursday, December 10, 2009, and we're in the home of Jim Tanimoto. Helping with interviews is Barbara Takei, I'm Tom Ikeda, and on camera we have Dana Hoshide. So, Jim, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. So I'm going to start from the beginning of your life. Can you tell me where and when you were born?

JT: Well, I was born Marysville, California, on June 3, 1923. And I don't think I was born in a hospital. It was probably a midwife thing, I'm not sure. But I think that's what it was in those days.

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth? What did your parents name you?

JT: My parents' name?

TI: No, what did your parents name you?

JT: My name is Minoru Tanimoto, and people that, when I started kindergarten, couldn't pronounce my name Minoru, so they had my neighbor change it, give me an American name called Jim. And Jim is what I did all of my life, is "Jim."

TI: Good. So let me ask you first about your siblings. Can you tell me your brothers and sisters in terms of their birth order?

JT: Okay. I have my mother and father, and I have seven brothers and sisters. My oldest sister is Shizuko, and my oldest, the next in line is my brother Mike, or Masashi, and then next to that was Jack. And next to Jack was Mori, Mamoru, and next to Mamoru was my sister Eva Kikue, and then me, and my youngest brother George. So there was five boys and two girls.

TI: Good, okay. So let's, in terms of age difference, how much older was Shizuko?

JT: What?

TI: How much older was your, the oldest one, how much older?

JT: Well, we're between one and a half years to two years apart. I don't know, Jack claims he's ninety-four, gonna be ninety-four, but it doesn't fit the formula between a year and a half. But that's what he says he is, he's ninety-four. The rest of us are about a year, year and a half apart.

TI: Okay, good.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let me ask about your, first your father. Can you tell me your father's name and where he was from?

JT: My father's name is Hikoichi, he's from Hiroshima. The community, I guess, is Nihonmachi or something, he said. I don't know the exact name of the place, but I visited Hiroshima, and it's a large place. And, of course, after the bombing, it was just big destruction, that's all it is over there. And he came to the Hawaiian islands when he was a young man, I think he was a late teenager, and he worked on the Big Island on Hawaii. Worked out in the sugar cane plantation. Two things he told me when he was working there was, "You never forget your lunch and you always carry a raincoat." Then he immigrated to the mainland.

TI: And do you know about when he went to Hawaii, about what year that might have been?

JT: No, I don't. You know, my kid says the same thing. "You don't talk about your relatives, you don't talk about..." you know. And my father has never mentioned the fact that he came over as a teenager or something like that, to the Hawaiian islands. All I know is that he was there as a young man.

TI: Do you know anything about his family in terms of brothers or sisters?

JT: Well, I know that he had one sister, and he had one brother in Hawaii, and he had another brother here that... he never owned real estate or owned property, he followed the crop, but he was like a transit worker. And my father, that's three, and his sister, that's four. That's all I know is just... the sister married a man named Matsumura, and his younger brother Iwasaki, he followed the crop. And he went back to Japan just before the war, and he had a real nice Model A sedan. And he says, "When I go to Japan, I'm gonna give it to you." And the thing was just like brand new. The day before he left, he turned it over on its side and he got a big old ding in the top of the, corner of the car. Other than that, it was just like brand new. And when I came back from camp, I didn't have it. Somebody had taken it.

TI: Wow, what a story. So at least we have a little bit about your background, so if your ancestors -- not your ancestors, but your descendants want to know more about this, I just wanted to capture some of that. But let's go back to your father. And how did he come to Gridley? What made him come to this area?

JT: Well, when they came to the mainland, they got into the rice business. You see the rice picture, the harvest. He was there, and then the rice, the whole agriculture collapsed, and then we had the Depression and he went bankrupt. And my mom told me, at that time, all she had, they had a horse and they had a buggy, and a case of Carnation milk. That's all they had.


TI: So, Jim, let's go back to the rice. And do you know why your father decided to get into the rice business? What was it about rice that he decided?

JT: I really don't know why he started in on rice. But this was before '25. 1925, that picture that you saw on the wall there, that was taken in 1925. When, I don't know, other than the fact that when the Depression came, they went bankrupt and they moved out of the rice. And because of the alien land law, they had to get somebody that...

TI: Yeah, before we go to the land laws, I'm curious about... because you're a farmer and you know this area, would rice be a good crop to have in this area? As a farmer, what do you think of doing rice?

JT: If I had to do it all over again, I would farm rice.

TI: You would farm rice?

JT: Oh, yes.

TI: So it's really a good place for rice?

JT: Not here. The rice farming is all west of town, and it takes heavier soil. It's adobe, it's clay, it needs clay. Because if you use loam type soil, it takes too much water. The clay would be like a pot, it would hold water while loam would, you know, let the water go through. So the guys that were farming rice are very financially well-off today.

TI: Okay, so your father was a pioneer, it was like the first one to do rice in this area?

JT: Well, he was one of the early ones. I don't know if he was a pioneer or not, but he was one of the early growers. And there were other growers that farmed rice also, and they did the same process that we did, getting somebody that was born in Hawaii or was a citizen. 'Cause they couldn't, they couldn't farm by themselves without having somebody that was a citizen. I mean...

TI: Right, so because of the alien land laws, they could not, unless you were a citizen, you could not own land.

JT: Yeah, that's right.

TI: And so did your father know this person in Hawaii that came here?

JT: Well, he's actually a relative of ours, and he was Hawaiian-born.

TI: Now, where did the money come from to buy land?

JT: We didn't buy land, we leased land. No matter what you did, buy it or lease it, you still couldn't do it if you was an alien.

TI: So this was just even to lease the land so you can do the rice, your relative from Hawaii came here, and the land was under his name.

JT: Yeah, yeah. The lease was under his name.

TI: And that was pretty common amongst the Japanese farmers up here? That's how they had to do things?

JT: I think most of the people that got into real estate, had real estate, that's the way they got their foot in the door.

TI: Good.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So earlier you talked about your mother. Tell me how your mother and father met.

JT: Well, I think my mother was a "picture bride." Those days, I guess that was pretty common. Because I think, I'm not sure where they were married, whether they were married in the States or they were married in Japan. I wasn't here at the time. But she comes from the same area my father came from in Japan. And she was a small woman, she's short in stature, but she worked like crazy. I mean, if everybody worked like her, you would have to hire anybody to labor work. I mean, she just loved to work. She had a passion to work, and she loved to garden. And she was real good. I mean, her thumbs was plain green.

TI: And what was her name?

JT: Riwa.

TI: And what kind of personality? She was a hard worker, but what was her personality like?

JT: She came from a very poor family, and she wasn't forward. She was sort of a conservative woman. And in those days, the male always said something and the female followed. So that's the way it was, it's the way she was brought up.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Talk a little bit about the family home. I mean, you had a fairly large family. What was the house like?

JT: We all lived in the same house. In those early days, my older sister, my brother, Shizuko, Mike, Jack, they went back to Japan. So there was three left, you know, and George, my youngest brother, was born in 1925. So he wasn't born yet, so the family eventually became large. But they weren't all together at one time.

TI: Okay, so you mentioned, you said three went to Japan, so Shizuko, Mike, and Jack?

JT: Yeah.

TI: Okay, the three older ones went. And where did they go in Japan? Who did they live with?

JT: An uncle back there in Hiroshima. In fact, my uncle, you know, in Japan, the oldest son inherits the property, and he also inherits the parents, to take care of the parents. Well, things have changed back there now, and a lot of people says, "We don't want to inherit the property. We would rather be on our own. In other words, what they're saying, "We don't want to take care of my mother and father." But my uncle's son thought that Jack was going to inherit the Tanimoto property in Japan. Well, Jack didn't want it, he wanted to come back. So he did come back.

TI: Okay, good.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So the three older, they were in Japan, so it wasn't as crowded as having seven kids. Let's talk about, a little bit about your childhood memories of growing up. What are some things that you did growing up?

JT: Well, you know, my father, after he got through the rice, he moved over here on the north side of Gridley, and he started to clear land. And I remember, I was just a little kid, too, and I remember him. And we were going out there, tried to help. Of course, we just got in the way, but we was trying to help. And they were removing oak trees to clear the land. And I remember one time they stuck dynamite to blow the roots out of the ground. And the dynamite didn't go off. And they waited for a long time, and finally they thought, well, the fuse is out, and it's not gonna explode. So they started to walk toward there and it did explode. And the piece of wood, of course, was blown out, and it hit my father in the leg. And I remember that because we had to level land, and we never had the tractor or something. This was all done by a team of horses, and he walked behind with a scraper, and he would scrape land he dumped it to the low spot. And then we lived close to an irrigation canal...

TI: You know, going back to that accident with your father, how badly was he injured with that piece of wood?

JT: It broke skin, and it was embedded in his thigh. It was right there on the thigh, and I don't know if it was the left side or right side. It was a piece of wood, piece of root about six, seven inches long, and maybe about an inch, inch and a half in diameter. But it went through his clothes and stuck into his leg. So dynamite was one thing you're not supposed to play with.

TI: It must have been terrifying for you as a child to see that happen.

JT: Well, I was too young to know things like being terrified or anything. All I know, there was a large explosion and my dad got hurt. And there was a canal, irrigation canal beside the house there that irrigated not only our place, but the canal was about four or five feet deep when, real deep. And during the regular time, it was only about two or three feet deep. And our project during every winter was to make it deeper. This was our swimming hole. And in the meantime, the county had started a junkyard right close to our property. And being kids, somebody would come in and dump something, we'd go out there and scavenge through there and we found some dynamite, we found some ammunition. And I remembered the dynamite thing my father went through, but we found some dynamite, and this was old dynamite, and it had blisters on the side of it. And I later learned that this was nitro glycerin, this dynamite is. So, anyhow, when we picked it up, it was real damp. And we took it home, 'cause we're gonna use this dynamite. We already had this thing all thought out, that we was going to use this dynamite to deepen this swimming hole. We couldn't buy dynamite, 'cause they wouldn't sell it to us in the first place, and we were too young to buy dynamite. So we couldn't get, but here was this supply of dynamite. And we took it home, we took it all apart, and it was (damp) -- I mean, it was all soaked with water, so we stuck it in the oven to dry it. [Laughs] Well, I'm still here yet. So anyway, the guy says, "You know, you guys did something that most people wouldn't even be here now to be talking about." This thing could have went off. We did things like that, but we did get a swimming hole, and we got the thing deep enough that we can have no problem with the diving board. Because we learned to swim in the canal, we were all good swimmers. We were fast. I mean, we could swim against the current. And in those days, the city of Gridley had a municipal swimming pool, and I think they called it the Pioneer Day, they opened the pool and they had races and stuff. All the Japanese kids, the one that lived in that row, there was about four or five families that lived in that row, they all had kids and all learned to swim in the canal. And they were all good swimmers, so we won almost every race.

TI: That's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Tell me about your friends. I mean, who did you hang out with growing up?

JT: Well, you know, this community was, comes under Marysville. Whatever... Marysville was the center of the community, and if you didn't live in Marysville, you was somebody that was out in the boonies. We were left out. We weren't one of the good guys. You had to be living in Marysville. Even people in Yuba City, which is just across the river of Marysville, they were not as good as people that lived in Marysville. And one of the papers that I showed Barbara about this lady that, she lived in Biggs. Biggs is about three miles north of here. And she says the same thing I said, that we were discriminated against because we lived outside of Marysville. And so most of my friends were Caucasians, not Japanese.

TI: And how would that discrimination... so you were kind of like country folk. How would they discriminate against you?

JT: Well, they didn't want to associate with us. Being country folks or farmers, basically, the whole population that that time, probably ninety-five percent had something to do with agriculture. There was, sure, a few (merchant) people, but basically most of 'em were in agriculture.

TI: And so your friends were mostly white, Caucasian friends.

JT: Yeah. The schoolkids that I went to school with, yeah.

TI: But in the city, Marysville, were there very many Japanese in Marysville?

JT: (Yes). At one time, in Japanese, they started the Japanese school. And they had as much as two hundred students. So if there was three or four student, children in the family, well...

TI: Close to a hundred, maybe, families or something there.

JT: (Yes). We had big families on those days, yeah.

TI: Maybe fifty families then. Did you ever attend Japanese language school?

JT: (Yes), we had, every Saturday, half a day, my father and my mother wanted me to learn how to speak Japanese. And we was growing up in a peach orchard. So if we went to school, we didn't have to go to work. So that was the gist of my education of Japanese. I went to school because I didn't have to go to work. I didn't go to school to learn how to speak Japanese or write, read or anything. It was a half a day off. So Japanese school, I went to, but I didn't learn anything.

TI: And when you went to Japanese school, was that with the other people outside of Marysville? You went, you said, like a Saturday, and did the town's kids go a different time? How did that work?

JT: Well, the Japanese school in Marysville, they had evening classes after school every day. The Japanese school in Gridley was just on the weekend, and it was just a half a day. We got our books and we opened the book in class, we closed our books when we got home. Next time we opened the books was next Saturday. So we never, never -- at least, I'm talking about myself now -- but never opened the book and studied. I just, to me, it was a half a day, half a day off. 'Cause we had, you know, a large family, and everybody worked. We did that as we was growing up.

TI: So where did you get a sense of Japanese culture, a sense of being Japanese? If you didn't really do much in Japanese language school, were there other places, either your family or other places?

JT: Well, you know, my father and mother were first generation, and they spoke Japanese. When we were growing up, before school, we spoke Japanese. But once we started going to school, we gradually turned the Japanese over to English and we lost our language. We don't speak Japanese. I don't understand Japanese. I can understand some of it, but very little. I guess that's the same with all cultures, that I know some Spanish kids that do the same thing, they can't speak Mexican or Spanish no more.

TI: So it sounds like it sort of kind of dissipated for you over time. You started maybe speaking Japanese as a kid, but then over time as you went to regular school, started doing work, it just sort of...

JT: That's the way it was, yeah. You know, we could talk to our parents in Japanese because that's how we learned to talk. And as we got older and started going to school, we spent more time with the Caucasian friends than we did with the mother and father. Even the younger brother or older brother, they went to school before I did. They come back and speak English, we know that we're going to go to school, so we were trying to learn English from them. And then when we finally went to school, yeah, we were able to talk English before we got there.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: How about Japanese community events like picnics or anything like that? Were there anything like that that you participated in?

JT: We had a picnic, they called it JACL, Japanese American Citizens League, they had an annual picnic. And they had, I think the landowner that had the picnic was by the name of Sperbeck. And it was a rolling hill up there east of Marysville. And it was probably, well, at least two hundred families, 150 to 200 families, Japanese. And each probably had, well, some business guests. And this is a spread. When they say picnic, Japanese food was all over the place. So they have a big spread of food, so they invite their business friends. And eventually the business friends invited their friends, and their friends invited another friend, and finally they put a stop to it. And so we don't have a picnic no more. But at one time, it was a great gathering, yeah. We had races and everything.

TI: And this was all before the war?

JT: This was way before the war, yes.

TI: Interesting. How about things like church? Did you go to church?

JT: Well, I'm not a religious person. My religion, when they (ask) "what religion are you?" and I put down "Buddhist." But I'm not, like I say, I'm not religious. I do have a religion, but I'm a board member... but our members, one time we had, probably at the peak, we had probably two hundred or more members that belonged to the Buddhist church in Marysville. Today, the Buddhist church of Marysville have about less than eighty. And we're just saying when we're gonna close the door. Because we can't, at one time, we could support a resident minister. Today, we can't support a resident minister no more. So we're under the Sacramento Buddhist church now, so we go through Bob Oshita, and we make all the arrangements through him.

TI: When you think of the Buddhist church in Marysville, when was its peak? Was it before the war or after the war, and think about the size, activities...

JT: Well, we just celebrated the hundred year of the Buddhist church of Marysville. So it started from somebody's house, inviting a minister to come. Of course, the minister had to come by train or horse and buggy in those days. And we just celebrated the hundredth year this year. And we had probably, like I say, we had two hundred people, members. And today, the young people, they're like I am, they don't believe in religion, at least in the Buddhist religion. And so when somebody dies, we just lose one member, we don't gain anybody. So we're just gradually dwindling to zero here pretty soon.

TI: Yeah, I mean, it's, that's pretty common in lots of communities around the country. You hear about not only the Buddhist churches, but the Christian churches that were pretty much Japanese before the war, they're all sort of getting smaller and smaller.

JT: That's what I understand, yeah. We're not the only religion that's going through this.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, let's go back to your childhood, and, sort of, your friends. What are some of the things you did for fun around here? You talked about some of the work things, but in terms of...

JT: Well, to me, in those days, it was fun, what I described about finding dynamite and stuff like that. We don't know nothing about dynamite, we don't know... we found, about that time I got interested in hunting. And my dad, he had a shotgun, and they had shotgun because they had rice. They had to chase ducks around because the rice, the ducks would consume their crop before the harvest time, so they used to herd ducks, and that's why he had a shotgun. He did a little hunting also, but the main purpose for the gun was to scare the ducks away from the rice. And, well, anyhow, we inherited, "we," my brother Jack and I, inherited the shotgun. So we wore it out. We shot and shot and shot and shot, but we did all kinds of things with this shotgun. Getting back to that county dump yard, we used to scrounge around that thing, and we used to find shotgun shells. And they were different gauge. We didn't have any spending money, so we took the lead out, the BBs out of the shotgun shell. Our shotgun was a twelve-gauge and the shells that we found was a different gauge. So we had to reload our own shells. And we didn't know nothing about reloading shells. It was just like the dynamite experience. We did it without any knowledge. And, yeah, we would push out the primer, we'd open the top up and take the cap off and take the BBs out and take the powder out. And eventually we'd take the primer out, and we'd take the primer out on one of our twelve-gauge shells that we shot, and we would put the new primer in that we just took out from the one that we found, and we would reload. And somebody must have been looking after us, because we had no mishaps. We did things like that. Looking back at it now, today, I don't know how we ever got by without getting hurt.

BT: It's a wonder you still have your hands. [Laughs]

JT: [Laughs] Yeah.

TI: How about, sort of, how did the different races get along? So you had a lot of white friends. Did it ever come up that you were Japanese, or were you ever, did you ever feel like you were treated differently because you were Japanese?

JT: You know, as far as the discrimination goes, there was no such thing as discrimination. This guy was, we never talked race, white guys, black guys. Fortunately, Gridley never had too many black guys now. Maybe a black person would have been different than the Japanese or Oriental. 'Cause everybody accepted everybody with no problem. Race was no problem until after the war, or during the war.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So I'm trying to think, you were born in 1923? Is that what you said?

JT: Yeah.

TI: So I'm trying to do my math. Did you graduate from high school before the war started or was it right, you were right around...

JT: Yeah. I graduated June 1941, and this was about six months before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. So we was out... my dad asked me at that time, says, "What do you want to do?" "Do you want to go to school, or do you want to farm?" And I chose, I want to farm. So we were farming, and when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, we was out in the field. When we came home for lunch, my dad says, "Something terrible has happened." And this is in Japanese now. 'Cause he had a hard time speaking English. He could speak English, but he had a harder time speaking English than Japanese. And he says, "Something terrible happened." He says, "I can't believe it. Japan has attacked the Hawaiian islands and bombed Pearl Harbor." And he was all shook up, you know.

TI: And when you saw your father so shook up like that, what did you think? What were you feeling at that time?

JT: Well, we couldn't believe it. So he had the radio on -- there was no TV at that time, at least we didn't have one. And we listened to the radio, and sure enough, the news was saying that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. We were like my father, we couldn't believe that Japan would attack America.

TI: And so what happened after that? Like the next day, Monday, how did... did anything change?

JT: Basically everything changed. It's just like turning on the lights or turning off the light. Just from daylight to dark. If you went into town, something told you, I don't know what it is, but something told you that you're different now. That's when the discrimination started. Until that particular time, we were accepted as just another, another human being. There was no such thing as race. I had people that come to me, that I knew, my father knew, that did business with them, wouldn't speak to us no more. Just, December 7th, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, December 8th, Monday, it was just altogether different. We were on the outside now.

TI: So then it must have made it difficult just to do business if people all of a sudden treated you that way.

JT: Well, I don't know if they really treated us that way, but we felt that... you could just feel that. It's just like you know there's a wall there. It might be a glass wall, but you don't know just where it is. It's a nice, clean plate of glass, so you put your hand up there so you don't run into it and bump your head. It was just like that. There was something different. You could just sense it. They never called you a "Jap" or anything, not yet, anyhow. But when you walked into town, people avoided you. Instead of walking straight towards you, maybe they crossed the street or maybe they went into a store, and there was nobody in front of you. It was just different.

TI: And when people treat you differently like that, I'm thinking, so did you feel like not going out as much? Were you kind of staying more...

JT: Well, yeah. You know, if it's somebody that got mad at you and not speaking to you, that's one thing. But this wasn't like that. This was, I don't know. It was something that I'd never experienced before. People that I used to talk to kids that I went to school with, all of a sudden, they didn't want to associate with me. They never call me any derogatory names, at least at that time. We had... eventually, like I say, I graduated in '41. My classmate, many of 'em, volunteered for the service, or they took some kind of a national job making war equipment. So they weren't around. And then we had, we talked to the parents of these kids. And some of 'em had stores, they were merchants. And they wouldn't talk to us on the street. Says, "Come on inside." They didn't want to be seen with me or some Japanese and be called a "Jap lover."

TI: And how did that make you feel? I mean, when you think about that time?

JT: Well, you know, I associated with these guys, I was eighteen years old, all my life, for those eighteen years. I was accepted as one of them, then all of a sudden I'm on the outside, they don't want nothing to do with me. And this is a small town. I could understand something that, if they didn't know me, and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and they says, "Well, it's different." But I knew these people. I knew their kids, went to school with their kids and knew the parents. But they didn't want to talk with me no more. They didn't want to associate with me.

TI: So that must have been really, in some cases, that must have been a really difficult time for you.

JT: Oh, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So, Jim, we're going to start this second section. I actually wanted to go back and talk a little bit about the land issues. Earlier we talked about how you leased land for the rice. Why don't you walk about the difference of why you would lease land for rice, and then later on buy land for other things. Like what was the difference?

JT: Well, the big difference was, first of all, it was finance. People were just getting started. You know, like my father, just getting started, he had no money. And, of course, the bank wouldn't lend him money, neither. So instead of buying, they leased. And then you don't grow rice on the same piece of land year after year after year, you rotate. You rest the land and you put in other crops, like other grain crops, like summer crops like barley, wheat, oats, something like that. And then after a few years, you come back and plant rice again. We had the mishap of the Depression and bankruptcy. He moved out of the rice field and moved to the east side. It was better land, but the land was unimproved and we had to remove trees. Now, this (...) was still under Harry Fukushima, and we were buying that property. This was not leased. And they cleared the trees, the oak trees off the land, and they leveled it the best they could, and they planted peaches. And they had to level because we have to irrigate peaches. It doesn't have to be perfectly flat, but you have to get water on the peach trees. We had small equipment. It's not like today that they have large equipment that they can... if you want your land perfectly flat, today, they can laser it perfectly flat. But you have to have some way of draining water like in the wintertime, if it was flat, it wouldn't drain. So they put a little high side and a low side, maybe it's one degree or two degree. And this helped drain the land and makes farming much easier. And eventually, the land was transferred. The one that my father was clearing was transferred to my brother's name, because he became older. We made payments on it until it was finally paid off, but it took a very long time because we couldn't plant large acreage, 'cause we had the small equipment to level land and you couldn't plant peaches on ground that was hilly, 'cause you couldn't get water to 'em. So after he got it down to where he could level, he planted some more. It took several years to do this. Eventually, my dad got enough money to pay off the land. But it took a very long time. I think it took about fifteen, twenty years before the land was paid off. And, 'course, in those days, the value of the dollar, one dollar was worth one dollar. Today, one dollar is not worth one dollar no more. But inflation and everything else has reduced the value of the dollar. And the land value at that time when my father was starting, clearing that land, I don't know what it was. Probably about five, six hundred dollars an acre. Today, that same ground is worth several thousand dollars an acre.

TI: And so going back to 1941, so right before the war started, what did your family control in terms of land, both bought, and, if any, leased land?

JT: Well, in 1941, the land that we got was under our name, under the Tanimoto brothers. And we had just purchased 55 acres here in 1940, and we grew our first crop, we harvested our first crop in 1941. And we had started our second crop in 1942 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and we evacuated in July. And peaches usually start harvesting in July, the early variety starts. So we had all the, all the expense, all the labor, when we had to evacuate. And this is, peaches is a lot of hand labor, which makes it an expensive crop to farm.

TI: And so it sounds like you lost a lot of money just by not being able to harvest that.

JT: Well, when we had to evacuate, we moved out in July. In fact, it was my brother's birthday that we got on the train. We arrived at Tule Lake a day later, July 10th. And July 10th usually may be about a week or so later is our first crop, first variety to harvest. And the rest of the varieties, it's just a matter of keeping it irrigated. So the expense is all put in there now. This is the time that you're gonna get some money back, and we didn't get any money back.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So talk about, so the weeks leading up to when you have to leave, what kind of arrangements did you make in terms of who would harvest the peaches when you were gone, who would take care of the land, the farm? Tell me all about that.

JT: Well, at that time, we had no arrangement. This was all done on a handshake. And actually, we were on the side that, "Would you take care of my property while I'm gone?" And my neighbor, he's a German, and he says, "Don't worry, I'll harvest your crop." Well, I don't remember if we got anything out of the crop as far as money goes. I don't know if he made any money or not. So financially, yeah, it was really a big financial loss for us. 'Cause we raised the crop, and we had put all the labor and all the expense in, and then we left. When the government says, "Get out," well, you got out.

TI: What about paying for the land? Was the land paid for, those 55 acres, or did you still owe money on it?

JT: No, we paid for it in one year. So it's different than when my dad did it. He planted little by little, and this particular piece of ground was planted already to trees, and it was during prime time, the trees were in prime. And the prices were halfway decent that year. You don't do that very often, but it happened. It happened twice to us, in fact.

TI: Wow. So if you have a good season, boy, it could really, you could really increase your acreage, too, you could buy more and more.

JT: Yeah. If you wanted to become very rich and stuff, well, you don't just keep on farming just a little bit. You just keep on increasing your holdings, you know. We weren't like that. We weren't looking for some retirement. In fact, I never did look for retirement. I wasn't going to retire. I was going to slow down, but I wasn't going to retire. But I'm retired now for over twenty years.

TI: So you said everything was kind of done on a handshake, so a neighbor was going take care of it, German neighbor was going to take care of the land and farm. And so with that, you leave Gridley. And where did you go? Talk about how you were picked up and where you went.

JT: Well, just before we were ordered to evacuate, our neighbor come over, and he knew that we were trying to move. Now, like I said, this is, his nationality is German. Now, I don't know if he had any affiliation with Germany in Europe, but he came from there, at least his family came from there. And we had a German friend and we had an Italian friend. We have Italians over here on one corner of our area, and we have a German friend over here right next to our place. They both sort of looked after our place, but the German friend, he's the one that did the actual farming and harvesting. That was the year that we left, but the next year, we had some friends that would, we leased the land to 'em. So there was... leased or contract. I don't know if that was the end of the contract, it was just when we got back, the contract would... if (they) had money in it, they would finish that crop and then we would get the land back. But there was a contract the following year. But the year that we evacuated, it was just a handshake.

TI: And I'm curious, how were you able to arrange for a lease? How did you communicate, how did you negotiate?

JT: Well, these people were friends, first of all, and they did come up and visit us at camp, at Tule Lake. And we knew they had, they had a dairy, they had a grocery store. There was three brothers, two of 'em had to do with the dairy farm, and one of 'em had a grocery store, and they were Portuguese. And we knew 'em real well. They says, "We'll do the farming until you guys get back." And says, "If we have to start a new year, and say you got back in the middle of the season, well," they said, "we'd like to finish the crop, and then you could have it back the following year after the crop was harvested." So eventually we got our, the lease expired and we got our land back and we started farming again.

TI: So was this a sense that they were trying to help the family out by doing this? Was this like a big help, or was it, like, mutual because it really helped them to make some money? Or how would you describe the relationship?

JT: Well, they made some money, yeah. When 20/80 split, the person that does the farming, they usually get about eighty percent. And in our particular case, when we were in here, they got a little bit more than that. They got, I think it was about 85/15. Today, I guess if somebody was gonna lease land, the guy that would be the person that's gonna farm, they would probably -- because agriculture is not very good today -- he would probably ask for 90 percent and negotiate that --

TI: [Dog barks] Jackson, come here.

JT: -- with the landowner. And the only good thing about agriculture is the rice today. Rice grower's gonna make some money. They got a good crop and they're getting a decent price. Peaches, there's too much rules and regulations in California. And people don't eat peaches no more. You eat peaches?

TI: I love peaches. [Laughs]

BT: Oh, I love 'em.

TI: But maybe not enough.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So let's go back to where you, so you were picked up, and where did they take you initially?

JT: What was that?

TI: So when you had to leave the area, where did they take you initially? From Gridley, where did you go?

JT: We got on the train, and a couple days later we were in Tule Lake. We didn't go to no assembly center; we went from Gridley to a concentration camp, that was it.

TI: And, yeah, because you said, sort of, July. So that's a lot later than... like up in the Northwest, I know people were leaving as early as March.

JT: We were probably, by the time we got up there, I think Marysville came in one day later than we did. So I think they might have been the last persons, last people to evacuate. We were darn close to the end then, maybe we were next to last. So it was just that we didn't go to any assembly center or anything, we went from where you lived to Tule Lake.

TI: And in terms of timing, it's interesting how you had to leave, like, a week before you would start to harvest. During that time, the months before, was there a sense that you would have, be able to harvest your crop?

JT: Well, you know, if we knew that we was gonna have to leave before we harvest, we would have probably made a deal with somebody else to lease the land to somebody else. But we figured that we was going to be able to harvest our crop before we had to leave. We knew we had to leave, but it was just a matter of when.

TI: And do you think you maybe were misled about that?

JT: No, I don't think so. I think it was just wistful thinking that we're gonna still be around 'til the crop's harvested.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Okay. So let's go to Tule Lake. [Addressing BT] So what are your... actually, do you want to do the... we did the land. Yeah, we did that. So let's go to Tule Lake, and what were your first impressions when you got to Tule Lake?

JT: Well, the first thing you do is when you got off the train, it was early in the morning. We rode the train overnight, and we got in, we got on the train in Gridley, and we got up to Klamath Falls. And probably, it was probably between seven and eight o'clock in the morning when we actually backed into Tule Lake. And all this time, the windows are drawn, the window shades are drawn, we can't see out. You're not supposed to have the window shades up. So we get off the train, it's daylight, early in the morning. Seemed like it was about seven or eight o'clock in the morning, and you get out, and all you see is just barren land. You see buildings, but there was no trees. You see sagebrush, but no trees. It was all, the ground, you look at the ground, and it's sand, real sandy. There was, it's just like being in a desert. I have a friend, he was from Placer, and some of the Placer people went to another assembly center called Arboga. And he was a fisherman, and he says, "You know, I just can't wait to get out of Arboga to go to Tule Lake. I'm going to do some fishing in Tule Lake." Well, he got a big surprise. Tule Lake is a desert. No lake out there. But, well, anyhow...

TI: Yeah, that's funny because I don't think about that, but that's right, it's called Tule Lake.


TI: Okay, so we're just starting, or talking about Tule Lake, when you first got there, how desolate, and you told that funny story about how the fisherman thought he was going to go up and go fishing at Tule Lake.

JT: Well, anyhow, Tule Lake was a desolate looking place. When you step out the train, you look out there, and all you see is tarpaper buildings and stuff like that. But you're looking at land. So the vastness of the area, you don't see any trees. Of course, I come from a place where we see lots of trees. It's just like going to Nevada. All of a sudden, the California side, the mountain, you got pine trees and everything. On the east side, very little trees there on the other side. So it just reminded me that I'm in a desert. It was just something that you see out there but you can't believe that it's there.

TI: Tell me about, because you got there, as you said earlier, most people were already there. Marysville might have been the last group, you were maybe second to last. Tell me about the people and how people were organized. So you're getting there a little bit late, people have already spent, have been there, they probably have their routines already. How was it for you coming into Tule Lake so late?

JT: Well, once we got off the train, they processed us, and we were assigned to Block 42. And my apartment, there was four brothers. Our address was 4204-A. That was our apartment. And when we got there, all they had was a door, and I think there was three windows. And inside, it was bare walls, just 2x4s. I don't remember if the ceiling had sheet rock, but I know the walls didn't have any sheet rock. And all we had was, this barrack was divided into four or five apartments. So if you get on one side and look down to the other side, you could see clear to the other. 'Cause none of the, none of the apartments had partitions. They had 2x4 partitions, but they didn't have anything like sheet rock or anything else. And so you could see from one end to the other end. So first thing the family did was they hung up sheets for a little privacy, you know, and stuff like that.

TI: So that's a little bit different than what I've heard. So you actually could see from one end of the barrack to the other, so there were no walls --

JT: No walls.

TI: -- between, just the 2x4s.

JT: Yeah.

TI: Now, do you know if that was true for the other barracks?

JT: Well, as far as Block 42 goes, that was pretty much just the way it was. Everybody eventually, they had sheetrocks out there, that we had to nail it on ourselves.

TI: It's almost like your block wasn't finished. It was almost like --

JT: It wasn't finished, yeah. And that's, the one reason why some of the assembly centers, they kept the people there, to put more buildings up and make it so they could move in. But the assembly centers like Arboga, I think it only lasted one month. But they had, I don't know, about a thousand people there at one time.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So what are some of the things you did to make the, your barracks more livable?

JT: Well, Block 42 is situated in such a way that on the west side, there was a big firebreak. There was no, no more building, we was on the west side. And the closest thing on the west side was the barbed wire fence and the guard towers. And there was a pile of lumber over there, lumberyard. And during the nighttime, you couldn't imagine all the traffic going over there, and they're bringing lumber back. I've seen it in the movies where the actor spots the spotlight coming and they all drop down to the ground. Well, over there, like I say, we had guard towers and they had these lights going back and forth. And every time the lights would come their direction, they'd stop and they'd lay on the ground. And just when the light passed, they'd get up and they were walking. And most people had lumber on... and they're using this lumber to build a porch or something that they want to put their, what they own, so they have more room inside the apartment and they wanted to make a little place to store something. And some of 'em was ingenious enough that they tied a long rope, and they tied the lumber with this long rope, and they'd walk. And then after they got so far, they'd pull the rope. But other people just put it on their shoulder and they carried it out. But we eventually built our porch, too. So after we got our porch built, it was nighttime, we'd just sit there and we could see lumber going by like you can't believe. And I'm sure the lumber pile that they had over there just diminished to nothing.

BT: Would you explain why it is that people were sneaking around stealing the lumber?

JT: Well, we couldn't get lumber if we asked for it. The only way to get lumber is to steal it. If we asked, put a petition in to get lumber, we would have never got it.

TI: Do you have a sense that it was kind of, almost accepted by the administration? Because they must have noticed that the lumber pile was going down. That the guards were there, they probably, even though people were going to the ground, they probably knew. If you knew all these people were coming, that they saw the same thing.

JT: Yeah. The lumber pile was on the opposite side of the guard tower. So you're inside, so the only thing that keeps you from going a little further to get on the highway is to get outside the camp. But I'm sure that they knew that all we wanted to do was not to escape, but to get lumber.

TI: That's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Again, you came a little later, how about job situation? Were you and your brothers able to get jobs at this time?

JT: Well, I can speak for myself. We got paid, if you had a job. If you was in a supervisory classification or a professional classification like a doctor or a dentist or something like that, you got nineteen dollars a month. This was top wages. And if you was just a common laborer, you got sixteen dollars a month. And I think we also got some money for clothing allowance, and I think that was two or three dollars a month. My job, when I got there, I worked in, they called it construction engineer. And what we did was, there was a pond out there, and we, we filled this pond with sand. And the thing was, we had a tractor out there, and we had dump trucks that backed in there. The whole thing was to see how far you can drive your truck over this sand and dump the load of sand into this pond. Well, nobody tipped their truck over, but everybody got their truck stuck and we had to pull 'em up with the tractor. But eventually we got the pond filled. And they built a, I think it was called the tent factory. And I think today, that building is still there. It was a permanent building, it wasn't a temporary building. And then I got a job, I had several jobs. These were all sixteen dollars a month jobs. And I worked in the freight crew for a while, and we unloaded produce that came in on the railroad. And sometimes we went out on the farm to pick up vegetable out on the farm. And then I got another... I think it was three or four jobs I did in there. I became a plumber. And anytime they had a problem, well, we'd go out and fix the problem. There was three of us in our block. So eventually, we found out that there was lot of showers, shower stall that weren't used. We dismantled all the pipes in those shower stalls. It wasn't a (used) stall. The men's shower was just all open, it was just pipes, and there was no privacy. But the showers that weren't used, we dismantled them and we took all the pipes and we brought 'em back to our block. My apartment was on the north side, 4204-A was on the north side, and the shower stalls, the toilet, bathroom was in between. So we got enough pipe, and we dug a hole in the ground, trench in the ground. And the first apartment we went up to the attic, and we had running water in our apartment.

TI: This is the first time I've heard of anyone having running water in their barracks. [Laughs]

JT: Yeah, we had running water. And this is because we took all this, the shower that weren't being used, we took 'em all apart and we saved... and since we had worked in the plumbers, as plumbers, we got all the couplings. And, you know, we're only talking about three or four feet. So it takes a lot of plumbing to go out there 120 feet in the barrack, and 50-60 feet on the ground between that. But we did have running water.

TI: And with running water in the barracks, what did that allow you to do?

JT: It didn't do nothing. It's just that we had running water. [Laughs]

TI: So just the satisfaction of being able to turn water on.

JT: Yeah, we could turn it on, turn it off. And, of course, we asked the people that, we're on top of their apartment, and we're putting this pipe together, and we asked them if they wanted water. I don't remember anybody saying that they wanted water, but we had, we had water.

TI: Now was there ever a sense that you might get in trouble if you did things like this?

JT: No, I don't think anybody even knew that we had water. And even if they knew, didn't mean anything.

BT: Well, I just wonder about the areas where you were taking the pipes from. Why weren't people using the showers?

JT: I think it was too close to the door or something.

BT: Oh.

JT: You know, we had the whole row of showers, and maybe there was ten, fifteen shower heads out there, maybe two or three of 'em were too close to the door or whatever the reason was, maybe they weren't working. I don't know, maybe it was plugged up. But if they weren't working, we took it apart and we brought it home.

TI: That's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Let's see, anything else? Any other memories about just general Tule Lake that you wanted to talk about before we move on to the "loyalty questionnaire" and things like that?

JT: I know in Tule Lake that eventually they got around to passing out this "loyalty" papers. I read in the article that you sent me, Barbara, about this man that's supposed to be the "troublemaker number one." Well, I don't know, I've talked to probably six or seven people that was in Block 42, and nobody remembers him. And the story went that he moved from Seattle to Gridley and started truck farming in Gridley, and nobody remembers that, either. We had one person that resembles his name, his name was Masaru Yoshikawa, but he was a very quiet person. He was Kibei, but he was a very quiet person and he never went out of his way to antagonize anybody. So I know it wasn't him, but he was the only person that had the name, as far as I know, of Masaru, the "number one troublemaker" in Block 42.

TI: Well, let me, yeah, let me just sort of summarize a little bit to give some background. So at some point, a questionnaire came out, and it was used for things like leave clearance in terms of if you answered a certain way, then possibly you could leave the camps and go to work and things like that. So it was used for several purposes. But you as well as the other adults were asked to fill this form out. And it was very controversial. It was confusing in many cases. And you talked about the "number one troublemaker," in Block 42, there were people who refused to fill out the questionnaire, and it was written up that possibly this "number one troublemaker" was the one who organized people not to sign this. And I think that's what you're referring to.

JT: Yeah, well, you know, my memory says that we never had a meeting, let alone if this "troublemaker number one" was in our block, we never had a meeting saying that we shouldn't sign this particular paper. Everybody, I think, made up their own mind, and pretty much we didn't discuss it too often, but we did, some people said, "I'm not signing it," and the other guys says, "I don't think I'm going to sign either." But we never had an organized meeting saying that, "Hey, we're not gonna sign this thing." Or somebody trying to say, "Don't sign it." We never had that. My reason for not signing was I was a prisoner. I never did anything wrong, I wasn't convicted. If I was charged with something and I had a trial and I was convicted that I did this, whatever it was, and sentenced to jail, that's fine. But I wasn't charged with anything other than the fact that the government looked at us as Japanese, we would help Japan rather than help the United States. That was all something that wasn't proven, we weren't charged with anything, so I said, "As far as I'm a prisoner, I'm not signing anything. Send me home to Gridley, and then show me the paperwork and I'll gladly sign it."

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

<Begin Segment 17>

BT: Can we back up a little bit, and what your recollections are when you first heard of and saw that "loyalty questionnaire."

JT: I know that each block, they dropped these forms off at the block office. And the residents of that block were supposed to go over there and pick up the form and sign it "yes" or "no" or whatever they wanted to do. There were some people in our block that did sign, but there was a lot of people in our block that wouldn't sign. They wouldn't sign "yes" or "no," they just refused to sign, period. And I think every day or every other day there was somebody from the WRA office that would come in and pick up the form, and the first day probably, maybe whoever it was that signed in our block. 'Cause there was about, well, the picture says there's over thirty people that didn't sign, and we were sorted out and carted away to county jail.

TI: But Jim, before that, I mean, what was the reaction of the administration? Did they, were there any steps before carting you off? Did they, like, warnings or other things that happened before that?

JT: Well, there was some pressure, I don't know if it was warnings or not, but there was some pressure that we should sign "yes" or "no." Regardless of if it was "yes," that was fine, if it was "no," it was fine. But they wanted it signed, and we wouldn't sign. So one evening, after dinner, our block was surrounded by military police. They had rifles with bayonets on them, and they surrounded our whole block. And we were having dinner when they did this, and as we came out the door, there was a soldier, there was a soldier standing by the door, and he directed us to... if we were young and... I think we had to be, in his eyes, draft age. They weren't picking on, like, my parents or anything, they were talking about the younger guys. And the soldier says, "Get over there, get over there," as we came out of the mess hall after dinner. And finally, when everybody got out of the mess hall, the mess hall was empty, the soldiers went in there and looked around, convinced himself there was nobody else in there, so then he came out and told us, "Okay you guys, count off, one, two." So we counted off one, two, and he says, "Okay, the ones over here, twos over there." And we ended up, I don't know which number I was, but we ended up in Klamath Falls and Alturas.

TI: So one group, like the ones went to one place, and the twos went to the other place, Klamath Falls and Alturas.

JT: Yeah. I don't know which group went where, but that's the way they separated them.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

BT: Okay, so would you describe a little bit more about how it was that the soldiers were pressuring or trying to encourage you to sign the "loyalty questionnaire?"

JT: Well, it wasn't the soldiers that was asking us to sign, it was the WRA personnel. According to the story that I read, our director at Tule Lake, Coverley, he was the director at our camp. And he was the one that wanted to get this thing done, more than anybody else. Our block, like I said, most of 'em didn't sign, and they wanted to make an example out of our block so other blocks wouldn't do what we did. After they surrounded our camp, I mean, our block, then we came out, the soldiers made us count off.

BT: And so why is it that you think that there was so much resistance in Block 42?

JT: I don't know. Because we did this on our own, individually. We didn't have a meeting saying, "Don't sign," or "sign," or anything. We didn't have a... this is one reason why I can't figure this guy out about our "number one troublemaker." If he was there, he would be the one that would be trying to convince the group not to sign.

TI: How about just within your family? Rather than talk about the whole group, let's just start with, you talked about your decision. Talk about your brothers and what they decided, and if there was any communication amongst the brothers or within the father, the family.

JT: You know, we didn't really take this thing as serious as what it turned out to be. And then we sort of laughed it off and says, "Here we are, American citizens, and they uprooted us. They did things that they're not supposed to do." And so we never looked beyond, that this was... it wasn't a joke, but something that shouldn't have happened that did happen, and we thought that we were, had, we were in the right and the government was in the wrong. So we didn't really put that much emphasis on what we did or what we didn't do. Basically, that was... most people in our block took it that way.

TI: So when the soldiers surrounded your block and they separated the men and put 'em in groups, that must have come as a surprise to you then.

JT: Well, it was a surprise when we came out of the mess hall to see this group of soldiers around our block. I don't know why the soldiers were there. What they expected for us, how to react, I don't know. Because they were just standing there; they weren't forcing us to do anything, except this one soldier that says, "Get over here." And we went, went along with just exactly what they wanted. When that guy says, "Get over there," we went there. And if the guy says, "Count off," we counted off. And they says, "Okay, you guys get in the truck," we got in the truck. We didn't know where we was going. Actually, some of the guys that I talked to that was younger than I was, they says, "I had a good time over there," in Tule Lake or in WRA camp.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So why don't you describe? So you said you were with a group that went to Klamath Falls. Why don't you describe what you found and where you went in Klamath Falls. Describe that.

JT: Well, when we got on the truck at Tule Lake at Block 42, the, it was a Dodge cargo truck, I think, there was more than one truck because we had, I think all together, we had about thirty people. And part of it went, half of it went one way and half went the other direction, so there was probably at least fifteen people, and I don't think they could have got fifteen people on one truck. So I think there was at least two trucks. And we had no guard. We had the truck driver, and I don't remember a soldier sitting in the front with a truck driver. We got up to (Klamath Falls), and the truck driver backed the truck up, right up against the door. We couldn't, the only way he could go is to get off the back end of the truck and go in the jail.

TI: So this is at Klamath Falls.

JT: This is Klamath Falls. And so we got off the truck and we walked into the building. At that time, we knew it was someplace they're gonna leave us, but we didn't know it was a jail yet until we got inside. Once we got inside, well, we saw it was a jail, and we could see bars and stuff like that. I don't remember being processed. I don't know... evidently they asked us our name, and we didn't sign in. Just one person did all the writing, and we told them our name, and we had to spell it out, we spelled it out for him so he could write it.

TI: Going back, so you gave your name there. Back when the soldiers sort of separated the group, did they identify you by name? Did they, like, know which ones had not signed the questionnaire at that point?

JT: No, I don't think the soldiers knew who signed and who didn't sign. All he went by was the fact that this man, or this person was young enough to be drafted. I don't know how they separated the person that signed, you know, before. Maybe they weren't in the mess hall, I don't know, that evening.

TI: Because at some point they had to, because you mentioned I think earlier that maybe some men did actually sign, they might have signed yes or no, but they actually went through and signed it. So at some point they separated that, those men from the ones who did not sign it?

JT: Well, all I know is at one point the people that did sign, I know one family that did sign. They had a son and daughter, mother and father was very fluent in English. They were looked at as inu, if you know was inu is, the stoolpigeon. And maybe for that reason, they weren't in the mess hall.

TI: Okay, so why don't we go back. So you're now in the jail, they're processing you, you give your name, so what happens next?

JT: Well, we was in the jail for, I think it was six or seven days. We can look out the window, we can see people walking in the street, and we talk to these guys. They look up and talk back, and I don't think they recognized we were Japanese. They wouldn't, you know, we'd say hello and, "What are you doing down there? Come on up and visit us," and stuff like that.

BT: Would you describe what the jail looked like?

JT: This is one room, it's got double deck beds, we're a bunch of young guys in the same room with nothing to do. And we got fed twice a day, breakfast and dinner, no lunch. I learned how to play bridge. And then there was one person in our, in our group, it probably affected him more than anybody else. He started to withdraw from the crowd, and eventually ended up with a nervous breakdown. I understand he's all right today, but he did have a nervous breakdown. Maybe the stress was too much for him.

BT: Did anybody come up there and explain to you why you were there?

JT: Well, we weren't charged with anything, so there was nobody there that could explain to us why we're here, other than the fact we knew that our group didn't sign these particular papers. And if, like I say, if we were charged with something and we had a trial and we were found guilty, that's fine. Punish us. But there's no charges, no hearing, no trial, no anything. It's just moving us from one place to another place to another place. And I don't think we ever took this very seriously. This is something that's just going on.

TI: So when, in that room with the other men, did you ever discuss about what might happen next? Did you guys ever think about that and discuss what was happening and what might happen next?

JT: No, we never gave it a thought. Like I said, we just thought... we were right and they were wrong, "they" meaning the government was wrong. They couldn't do this to us. And no matter where it went, we would win. So we really never give that serious thought what might happen to us if we kept on going. But I don't think, at least I didn't think that the charge, there was no charge other than the fact that they says, "You guys didn't sign."

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: And so you said you were there for about six days, and then what happened next?

JT: Well, after six days, I think it was six days, we still weren't charged with anything. They says, "We're gonna move you, we're gonna take you to this CCC camp." Well, they didn't tell us that we were going to CCC camp. They said they were going move us out of the jail. So they backed the truck up again and we got on the truck, and next thing we know, we're over there at the CCC camp. And the truck driver came out and says, "Hey, don't run away, because your guards are not here yet." And then he said something about, you know, "This is your new home, so you're gonna have to clean up the mess hall and clean up the barracks so you can use 'em tonight." So we were cleaning up the mess hall, half the group, cleaning up the mess hall, and the other half, cleaning up the barrack. And the CCC camp, that stands for Civilian Conservation Corps, they had closed the camp, and we had to open it. I think the other group from Alturas arrived about the same time, same day, anyhow, that we arrived. And we were cleaning up the camp when the soldiers came in. And when the soldiers came in, we couldn't do anything. We had to go for something over there, well, the guy says, "Where are you going?" And to go to the bathroom or go to the latrine, you had to have a guard. We couldn't go. And this was a long building, maybe about thirty, forty feet long. The soldier would, or guard would go take you right to the door. You would go in and do whatever you had to do. And if you didn't come out in a given amount of time, the guy would say, "You guys been in there too damn long. Get of here." And he wouldn't come in, but at least he, you can hear him. Says, "Get your ass out of there." Anyhow, when that started, we couldn't do anything without permission or without a guard. If you had to walk thirty feet to go someplace, well, you had to have a guard. To get something, you had to have a guard. So we started making, mimicking what the guard does. Instead of one guy going, two guy goes, one guy's mimicking, he's the guard, and the other guy is going, and then we got the guard behind us. So we played it like it was a joke. 'Cause we didn't realize this is serious. This, we shouldn't, we shouldn't take it as a joke. Our main objective was that we were right and the government was wrong. They can't do this to us. So regardless of where it goes, if it went to court, we says, "Our Constitution says we have rights. Civilian, we're not aliens, we're citizens of the United States and the Constitution says we have certain rights. Each citizen has a certain right, and they can't do this, what they did." And that was the main reason that we didn't really take it serious.

TI: Well, part of it is the treatment, too. It was interesting how you talked about when you first got to the CCC camp, and the guy just says, "Hey, you guys clean up, and don't run away because the guards aren't here yet," it sounded like you guys were cooperating, working, cleaning things up. And then when the soldiers came, it was a very different feeling, that all of a sudden you weren't trusted, guards had to show you everything. At that point, I could sense the bitterness coming through in terms of this is a joke and why do this? So in addition to your rights, it was just the treatment that you and the other men got, and how that affected things, too. That's what I'm hearing from you.

JT: Well, you know, like I said, we mimicked what the guard did to us. We started, one guy going after whatever he was going after, he had to have a guard to go with him. So instead of one guy, two guy went, and one guy was acting like he was the, he was the guard, and of course the real guard was behind us with his rifle, and he walked beside us, behind us, and we got what we got and went after. And we did things like that. Even though that, they were trying to, at least trying to make us mind them. I don't know what the right word is, but we were still not realizing that, how serious this was. We were still thinking, "This can't happen to us." But it was happening.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So you said a couple times how serious this was. What made you sense that this was very serious? I mean, what happened?

JT: Well, you know, the soldiers, they had bullets, and they had rifles. They were ordered, I don't know if they were ordered to shoot or not, but they took their business very serious, 'cause they're soldiers. When they get something ordered to do, they do, they don't ask questions. But we were, I don't know, maybe... I don't know what the word is, but we weren't really worried about what is going to happen to us. Until one night, we were asleep, and middle of the night, maybe it was around twelve o'clock, two o'clock, something like that, the soldier comes running through our barrack and he's shouting as loud as he can, says, "Get your ass out of bed and get outside." And when we got outside, it was still dark, they turned this light on, and we couldn't see for a while until our eyes got accustomed to the light. And we could see a line of soldiers, and we're only ten, fifteen, yards apart. And these guys are standing right under the bright light and we're, the lights are shining on us. And we could see the expression on the soldiers' face. There were some of 'em that looked like they didn't give a darn if they shot us or not. And the line of soldiers, there was probably ten or eleven of 'em. One side, say there was five soldiers, they were loading their guns, they were loading their rifles. And there was a machine gun right in the middle of the line, and there was another five or six soldiers on the other side. And we're only ten, fifteen yards apart, and we're standing there, middle of the night in our nightclothes, and you start to wonder, man, this is going to be it. Anytime, and we can see their face, we can see their reaction, some of 'em, looks like, "Hey, let's shoot 'em. These guys are animals," or whatever. We're not humans no more. I mean, this is what I thought when I saw these guys, some of these soldiers' expression on their face. And then I guess this was the officer in charge, he came forward and he says nobody's going to escape while he's in charge. And he said that several times, real loud voice, then he told us to go back to bed. And next morning, we understood that some soldier thought he heard somebody planning escape, and that's why we got awakened that night. And then as the morning progressed, we did the routine stuff, the normal thing.

And my job for the day, I worked in the motor pool. We had to start the trucks, charge the batteries and start the trucks up and all that equipment. And I was in the motor pool, so we got the truck out, we loaded the garbage onto the truck, we got our guard, and we went out to the garbage dump which was a couple hundred yards away from the mess hall. And that, the mess hall is where we got our garbage. We went out there and we unloaded the garbage in the garbage dump. And we asked the soldier, "Do you know any Japanese people?" And he says, "Yeah." He says, "I'm from San Francisco, and," he says, "my best friend was Japanese." And he apologized for the way that our government was treating us, and he says, "I'm really sorry," but he says, "I'm a soldier. I have to do what they tell me to do." So we talked for a while, and we finally got the garbage unloaded, and asked him, "Do you have any bullets in your gun?" And the guy says, "Yeah, I got one bullet." This is, I call it a Thompson submachine gun. It's like the machine gun that the gangsters used during the Eliot Ness time, the Prohibition time. And I asked him, "Can I see your gun?" And the soldier says, "Well, we got to get on the other side of the truck, because somebody might be watching." So we get on the other side of the truck, and he takes his one bullet out and hands me the gun. I did a little hunting before I went to camp, so I liked the gun, first of all. Then I asked him, "Have you shot this gun?" And he says, "Yeah, I've shot a few bullets through it." And I asked, "How about automatic? Can you turn it to full automatic?" And he says, "You don't do that. You only shoot short bursts, two or three bullets at a time." And says, "Then you probably can't hit what you're shooting at, anyhow." Says, "This gun doesn't shoot very good, or I don't really know how to shoot this gun other than firing bullets." And we looked at the gun a little bit more, and finally handed the gun back to him. He put his one bullet back, and we went back to the mess hall and unloaded our empty garbage cans, and that was it for the day.

TI: Boy, just as you told that story, I'm thinking of the roller coaster of emotions that you must have felt in that day. You started off talking about how it was kind of like you weren't taking it seriously, and then at night, when you were lined up like that, you thought that might be the end. And then the next day, you find someone who, a guard who is sympathetic and willing to show you things and talk to you. I mean, how were you handling all this?

JT: Well, you know, at least we knew we had one soldier that was on our side. He couldn't do nothing because he wasn't the officer in charge. He's just following the orders to do what he had to do, what the order said. But at least he was reasonable. He knew what we went through, what we were going through. And he even apologized. Says, "My government doing these things to do is not right." But he says, "I can't do anything for you." But as far as this roller coaster thing, I think we just took it in stride. At least we had somebody that we can talk to, even if he was just a private. It wasn't the captain or some officer.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So then how long were you in the CCC camp before you left?

JT: Well, I think we were there a couple of weeks anyhow. And then, after a couple of weeks, they started having informal hearings. They asked me, when my turn came, they asked me, "Will you sign the papers now?" And I says, "No, I'm not signing no paper." They're referring to the loyalty paper. And I says, "My answer is the same. Send me back to Gridley, and then I'll sign. But I'm not signing anything until... I'm a prisoner here. Unless you release me, I'm not signing." And there was more than one person asking the question, and they sort of got together after they finished their question, and they says, "Okay, you can go back to your block now." Says, "You were probably brainwashed by some of the older people." I was nineteen years old. But that's what he said, "You were told to answer, or not to sign, and you followed their, what they were telling you to do. You didn't do this on your own." So they said, "You can go back to camp." Well, after we got back to camp, it was sometime in February...

TI: And before you go there, so did they, did everyone get released at that point, or did they hold some people?

JT: No, everybody didn't get released. There was at least six or seven people from our group, Block 42, that was shipped to, picked on and shipped to another camp. They were shipped to Moab, Utah, and my brother was one of those, my oldest brother, Mike. And there was five or six other people that went with him from the group that was in the jail, Klamath Falls jail or the Alturas jail. And they, I think it was the time when we had that informal hearing, where I was told I could return. They were held back and shipped out to Moab.

TI: So six or seven were sent to Moab, you didn't sign. Do you know if any of the other men actually signed during these informal hearings?

JT: I don't think so. I think everybody stayed the way they did when they got put in jail.

TI: So somehow, the administration, it sounds like everyone pretty much answered the same thing, they weren't gonna sign, including the six or seven. But they, the administration decided that these six or seven were the ringleaders or the ones who were influencing the others and sent them to Moab? Is that how you would you see what happened?

JT: Well...

TI: And I guess the follow-up question is, and if they were able to do that, how would they know? I guess maybe I'm wondering, or if you guys suspected that perhaps within your group there might have been an informant, or someone that might have maybe targeted some of the leaders in the group?

JT: Well, if you look at the picture, you find out most of the people are older than I am. And like that person that was questioning me said, "You were convinced by some people older than you not to sign." And I think that's what they did, they picked on people that was older. Not because somebody says, "Yeah, this guy's a ringleader," or anything. We had no ringleader. We more or less did things on our own. I don't think we had a meeting to say, "Hey, let's not sign." I don't think we had anything like that.

BT: Well, what's interesting is that there is that group picture of people from Block 42 who all refused to answer the questionnaire, which suggests that there was maybe a group feeling.

JT: What?

BT: That group picture suggests that maybe there was a sense of being a group of resisters.

JT: Well, as far as I'm concerned, the reason I didn't sign was because I thought I was right and the government was wrong. They couldn't force me to do what I didn't want to do. I don't know what the other people thought, but to me, that keeps on staying in my mind, that I was right and they were wrong. And I don't know if that group picture, how many people thought that way, but we all ended up in the same place. The six or seven ended up in a different place, but eventually they all came back to Tule Lake, to their own apartments in Tule Lake.

TI: And I think what you said is a reason that maybe those six or seven were the older ones. Like the oldest one in the group, and that's maybe how they identified them. Is that what you... so I guess what I'm trying to get a sense is, how did they choose those, that smaller group to Moab, the six or seven? Was it their age, or were they somehow targeted as being leaders?

JT: Well, we had, we had this informal hearing, and I don't know. Like in my particular case, after they finished questioning me, two or three of the people that was questioning me, they got together and says, "This guy doesn't know anything. He was convinced not to sign by somebody else." So they sent me back. But as far as those other people, the older people, I don't know, other than the fact that they were older. I think that was the only reason.

TI: And you mentioned that one of them was your other brother Masashi. Did you ever ask him or did he ever have a conversation with you about why maybe he was selected to Moab? Did you ever ask him?

JT: No, he never said. I never asked, but he never said why he was sent to Moab. Other than the fact that he was, I think in that picture he might have been the oldest of that group of the six or seven.

BT: And there was nothing, perhaps, that he did while he was in the CCC camp that might have identified him as a leader?

JT: No. Like I say, we never got together and had a meeting saying, "Hey, don't step out of line," or, "We're going to do this all together as a group." No, we didn't have any kind of meeting like that. I don't even remember, we had a meeting before we got, after the mess hall thing, I think everybody did this on their own. At least I know I did it on my own.

TI: And earlier I asked, and I was just curious, because I don't have any other information, but I'm just curious. Were you careful at the CCC because, perhaps, you may have suspected there might have been a plant or spy within your midst that might have informed? Did you ever think or suspect that might have happened?

JT: I don't think so. Because the time that we were in jail 'til the time that we were in the CCC camp, we opened the CCC camp, this was the same group. We didn't have anybody that came from another block or another area. This was all the people that was in Block 42. If somebody, you know, was brought in from a different camp for the same reason, they didn't sigh, maybe we would have suspected something. But since this was the whole group, we never had a meeting before, we never had a meeting during, or we never had a meeting after. So I don't think we even thought about somebody that was in there that was spying on us or being an inu or stool pigeon. I don't think so.

BT: How did they, what did you do? I think you were there about three weeks. What did they have you doing to occupy the days?

JT: Well, you know, my brother Mori, one day, some Fish and Game people come by, and they wanted to know if they can get some labor. They wanted to dig a trench and put a cement floor on their garage. They came and asked, and they says, "Yeah." So they took those guys and they did that. That was one thing. But like me, I was working in the motor pool, and we were having a good time fooling around with engines. I don't know if we played baseball or anything, I don't think so. I don't think we had any physical activity.

BT: Did anybody ever tell you what you were doing there or how long you were gonna be there?

JT: No. All I know is after that two or three weeks that we were there, they started this informal hearing. And they started processing us. They sent most of us back to where we started, to our address, and they kept the five, six or seven people and they sent them to Moab. We just did routine stuff. We had things to do like cleaning up the mess hall, cooking, playing cards, stuff like that. We never really had to really... you know, it's a small place, and we had little things to do, but they were done within an hour or two, and the rest of the day you didn't do anything. You did what you wanted to do, you wanted to sleep or you wanted to play cards or whatever.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So we're going to start up again, and so you just talked about how you had these informal hearings at the CCC camp, and then you were then released back to Block 42. So let's get you back to Tule Lake. And I'm curious, what was the reaction of people when you returned to Tule Lake?

JT: You know, I had a girlfriend in my block, and eventually we got married. I don't, other than her, I don't remember anybody saying, "What was it like where you were?" "What was it like in jail?" or, "What was it like when you were in CCC camp?" We communicated by letter, that's the only way. We had no telephone, they had no telephone, so the only thing was, way of communication was writing a letter. And this... I don't think hardly anybody... they were sort of nonchalant. I don't think anybody really questioned, "What did you do?" "How did they treat you?" I think within the first five minutes, whatever was asked or answered, was answered, and that was it.

TI: And if people didn't ask, maybe, did anyone treat you differently? It's sort of like you were gone, I mean, was there almost, yeah, was there any difference in how people treated you?

JT: No. But when we came back, we just took off just like we had never left. Yeah. Maybe if they asked, "Were you treated okay? Did they feed you?" and stuff like that, and we says, "You know, the jail routine is they only feed you twice a day." And most people that we know have never experienced jail. So they says, "Oh." But the other stuff was just like what we do in camp. We had certain things, chores to do, or you're assigned a certain thing. You did that, when you finished, that was it. But we never got paid. That was one thing, we never got paid for what we did over there in CCC camp, or in the jail.

TI: So there wasn't any kind of, maybe not, "stigma" is not the right word, but you know how sometimes if someone were sent to prison and came back, people might be a little more careful around them for a while? Was there any of that kind of feeling in terms of people maybe just a little more careful around you and the other men?

JT: Well, like our block, they knew what we did or what we didn't do, we didn't sign. They knew that. They sort of saw it our way, too. And so there was no tension. They just accepted us, that we were back, they were glad to see that we were back. But I don't remember anything special that happened or things that could have happened.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BT: Did you notice that the WRA wardens would be visiting you more frequently?

JT: No.

BT: It wasn't like you were on parole, that they would be checking up on you?

JT: No. We had no visitors from WRA or anyplace else. But after we came back, it was still warm. Because that picture that we have of the group, the way the picture looks, nobody's got jacket or clothes, heavy clothes on to keep warm. So I think we got back, it was still warm. And then several months later, they told us that they're gonna send us home. We probably knew probably about three or four weeks before we left, that they was gonna take us home to Gridley. We couldn't believe it, because we says, "The war is still going on."

TI: And so in terms of time period, this is, you said cold, so like in 1944, like in the January, February timeframe? Is that roughly about when you're talking about?

JT: Yeah. When we left, I think it was still warm. When we took the picture, I know it was warm. But when the two or three months we spent before we came home, I think the weather, it was fall, and it was getting cooler. And finally when we did come home, it was February 26th, end of February. And the reason that I can remember February 26th was a certain variety of peaches bloom at a certain time. And that particular year, that particular variety was late.

TI: And that's 1944?

JT: '44, February 26th.

TI: So this is really interesting. Because from what I've read, the government really didn't open up the West Coast until after the Endo case, which was the very end of, or beginning of 1945. And so they released you almost a year earlier than they officially opened the West Coast.

JT: I think we were the first group of prisoners that was released. I'm not sure about that, but I think we were. And I don't know how they picked my father and mother and my sister and I and my younger brother, how they picked this...

TI: So was it just your family or was it a group that was released?

JT: No, it was just us. There was five of us. My mother and father, my sister, and my younger brother and me. We got on the station wagon, we got our baggage, and we loaded it on. And they drove us home, right to the door.

TI: And why do you think your family was released so early?

JT: I have no idea, other than the fact there was two things, or two or three things. First, when we got incarcerated, Japan was advancing. And when we were released, Japan was being pushed back. Another thing was we had a home, we owned a house, we had a place to go. And my father had asthma, and up there at Tule Lake, some mornings, we thought we'd lose him because he couldn't breathe. Maybe that had something to do with it, too. But other than that, I have no idea why they picked on our family. And it wasn't all our family, it was just part of our family. Why it was my brother George or why it was me, why it was my sister, I don't know. All I know is February 26th, we were home in Gridley.

TI: And how did it feel to be back in Gridley?

JT: Oh, it's just completely different. You can get out and do what you want, you can shout, you can holler, you can do anything you want to do. The only thing was that we didn't have a car. And my brother that was in Moab eventually got released from Moab and ended up back in Tule Lake, and eventually, I don't know what year that was, but he eventually got out of Tule Lake and came home. And we were still looking for a car. You couldn't buy a new car even if you had finances available. You had a list. The first thing we went, we had to buy equipment for farming, 'cause we were back in farming. Says, "Well, we can put you on the list," and our list is about ten, fifteen names ahead of us. And he says for a couple of hundred dollars, we can move up a couple of notches, you know. Anyway, we had to have a car, and my brother had just been released, Mike had been released. And that day it was raining, he went to Sacramento to buy a car. And he found a car that he thought was okay, and he bought it and was coming home, got in an accident. The funny part of it is... I don't know if it was funny or not, but President Roosevelt put us in jail, put us in the concentration camp, his wife Eleanor heard about this accident. And this guy that owned the car that run into my brother, or the accident, I don't know which, how it happened, but it was an accident. And that guy says, "I'm gonna make an example of this 'Jap.'" And Eleanor Roosevelt heard about this, and she wrote a letter to this lawyer, I don't know if it was his car or if he was the lawyer that this guy, the other car, and he dropped it because of Eleanor. And she wrote a letter to Mike, my brother. And I says, to my nephew, I says, "Can you find that letter? It's worth something. Even if it's just... you got the First Lady sending you this letter, the copy of the letter that she sent to this guy that says, 'You'd better drop it or we're gonna put the hammer on you.'" And, of course, they dropped it and nothing happened. One man put us in jail and the other man backed us up. Other lady, the First Lady backed us up.

TI: That's a good story.

BT: Let me clarify. So when you were, you got out of Tule Lake in February '44, and at about the same time, Masashi was released from Moab?

JT: No. He was eventually released from Moab. I don't know if it was the same time or not. All those people that's in that second picture, they were all released and they went back to their address.

BT: So, but did Masashi rejoin you before the war was over?

JT: No. The war was over when he was released.

BT: Oh, okay.

TI: Going back, so that you were released early, like February 26, 1944, the first family back. Did the officials give you any instructions like, in terms of restrictions? Like did they ever tell you, "Don't go to San Francisco," "Don't go to Sacramento," anything like that?

JT: No. We were free. There was no anything to... they says, "You guys are home now, you're free." And there was no restrictions, we could do what we wanted to do. But we didn't have a car, and they had gas rationing. If we had a car, I think gas rationing was probably, they had alphabets on it, I don't know what they stood for. A, B, C, D. And the farmers had, they were, they could buy as much gas as they wanted. I think the A was something like two gallons a week, it increased depending on what your business was or what you was assigned. But all I know is the farmers, they got all the gas they wanted. If they needed a hundred gallons, they got a hundred gallons. If they needed two hundred gallons, they got two hundred gallons. So the people that leased our land, the Portuguese friend, we used to ask them, "Can we use your car? We got to go grocery store," or something like that. And yeah, we just used their car. And then when Mike came back, I said, "It's time that we got our own car." And we couldn't buy a new car because we was on the bottom of the list, even if we could afford it.

BT: So Mike came back after the war or before the war?

JT: I think he came back after the war was over. I'm not sure about that.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: I wanted to bring you back to when you came back to Gridley, so you're the first family. When you would go, like if you'd borrow the car and go into town to buy the groceries, what was the reaction of the people when you returned?

JT: Well, Gridley is a small community. It had probably two, three thousand people more or less. And I knew a lot of Caucasian parents, 'cause I went to school with their kids. And I could call them by name, and they would talk to me and call me by name. But one day, my sister and I, we borrowed the car, we went up to the grocery store, and I knew the owner of the grocery store. And my sister picked out some groceries and carried it out to the cashier, to the front, and all the people that worked there all run back to the back of the store. They wouldn't wait on us, they wouldn't check our groceries. And the boss, the owner of the store wasn't there. And I looked at my sister and she looked at me and says, "Let's go," so we came home. After we came home, we told the people that we borrowed the car from, says, "Could you go back and pick up our groceries?" We told them, my sister wrote out what she needed. And so they went and picked up the groceries. Then the owner of the store came, came to the house, and he says, "Come on back." He says, "I'll wait on you personally." I knew this guy, and my brother, Mori, he knew his brother, went to school together, his classmate, one of his classmate. But I knew this man that he's already finished high school, and several years, maybe college, but he owned this store. The people that he hired wouldn't wait on us.

And another time, I met my high school coach. In my younger days, I was never a big guy, so I never got to join the varsity. I played on the B team or something like that, baseball, basketball, and I knew this high school coach real well. And Mori had gone through him, and he knew Mori real well. Well, anyhow, one day, I saw him, and I went up to him and stuck out my hand, and he looked me and he says, "You're on the wrong side." And that really bothered me. I still remember that, but he turned his back and walked away. And he was still teaching school at that time. And eventually, he quit teaching school and he became a peach farmer like us. And I think we had a peach meeting, and he was there, I was there. And I saw him coming towards me. And he started to say something and I says, "Get out of my face and just go to hell. I'm not talking to you." And I turned around and walked away from him that time. And all I know is that, I remember that. The rest of the stuff might be vague, but I distinctly remember that, that he wouldn't shake my hand. He just told me I was on the wrong side. And then I could see if somebody didn't know me, for the first time, and I put my hand out, I could see something like that happening. But for somebody that knew me that well, and told me that, looked me right in the eye and told me I'm on the wrong side, and he turned his back and walked away. For some reason, that still stays in my mind.

TI: Well, it had to be so personal. You grow up in this community, you know people so well, and before the war, they're your friends, and then something happens and it changes. It just shows you what life can do sometimes. But you would hope for better from people.

JT: Well, he's gone today, but even today, if he was here and he wants to apologize, I wouldn't accept his apology. And we lived out in the country, it was about four or five miles away, so I always had something to drive to go to school. And if I participated in spots, well, you practice whatever you was doing. And it was usually no way to get back other than walk, so I had a car. I had a Model A Ford. And this one kid, he played on the same team I played, and I used to take him home, because we would play together, and we got off at the same time, took a shower, and got ready to come home. Well, I used to take him home. Well, I've seen him since he got, after the war. He's not the same guy that I associated with him when I was going to school. At school, we were buddy-buddies, but now, after school, after the war, it's a little different. I spent a lot of time, and we, like I said, I had a car. And in those days, we did everything together. And today, I met him in a Ford garage one day, and he was getting his car serviced, and I was looking for a new pickup. The Ford didn't have what I wanted, but anyhow, I run into this old friend of mine. We just acknowledged each other and says, "Hello," that was about it, and "Goodbye." Nothing, notable communication, other than hello and goodbye.

TI: And do you think some of these feelings... from your side, I can still feel these feelings. Do you think other people in the community still remember all this and it's still there after all these years?

JT: You know, I would really like to have a crack at that, at the Rotary Club or something like that. I don't want to ruffle anybody's feather, but I would like to get up and talk about the way I was treated, how the government treated me, how "you people" treated me. I wasn't accepted as a citizen no more, I was an enemy. 'Cause when, the day after Pearl Harbor, when you went into town, you knew something was wrong. And after we got our land back, our lease back and we started farming, and in a number of years, everything was forgotten now. We're with the same group again. We started in the kiwi business, we had people coming in from all over the place. People from Gridley, people from Marysville, people from Sacramento, people from down south, people from out of state, we were one of the pioneers that pushed the kiwi. And yeah, we were rewarded. We made lots of money in the kiwis. We spent a lot of money, too. Uncle Sam couldn't believe a little minor crop like the kiwis, we spent about half a million dollars on the building and some equipment, and was taking depreciation out of that. And they sent an auditor out saying, kiwis, they can't... you know, it's such a small business, that what we're asking for for depreciation and all that, they sent an auditor out, and he came out and toured our plant, and it was harvest time. Well, that was end of story. He looked at that and he says, "Okay," it's all, what we claim is okay. They would allow it.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So it sounds like you played by the rules, it sounded like you helped people since the war, even though you probably didn't have to. You probably shared information about the kiwi growing with other farmers. And so you probably have added a lot to the community.

JT: Well, you know, we spent hours. We had, we did have production, and we had a nursery. So we had a reason to push kiwis and then we would talk to people that would ask questions, and, with the idea that they would buy nursery plants if they got the kiwi business from us. So we had a reason to talk to these people. But a lot of people were very inquisitive about the crop, and we were saying, at that time, you could grow it in your backyard. Because the first kiwis that we had, I think it was 1968, we had our first kiwi crop. And we're talking about a dollar apiece, hanging on the tree, hanging on the vine. This one's worth a dollar, this is worth seventy-five cents. And you can just, before you know it, you got 150 vines to an acre, and you can multiply that out. And the number becomes so astronomical that it's impossible to believe. And so after a while, we says, "Now's the time to cash in. We ought to sell it." And we had, at that time, we had probably about forty acres of kiwis, and we were trying to set a price. What are we gonna sell it for? Well, we're clearing a hundred thousand dollars an acre, and there's formula for something, and the real estate is something like ten times of what you, what you... I don't know if it was gross or net, but ten times anyhow. So we're talking four million dollars. And my brother wouldn't go along it with it. There was three of us. Two of us says, "Let's do it, and the third one says, "No," he says, "I have grandkids. Maybe they want to get into the business." So he wanted to leave his share for the grandkids when he retired, so he wouldn't go for it so we didn't sell. But in those days, the oil business was real good. We had people from the Arabian countries looking to buy real estate and stuff. 'Cause they, the OPEC countries, those guys had monies galore. And we weren't selling to John, Dick and Harry, we were selling to this guy over there. But we couldn't agree to sell, so we never sold.

TI: But you actually had a potential buyer for the whole place?

JT: Oh, no. We never really got that far. But we had some investors that come by, and they were the ones, they says, "We're here about kiwis," the grower. We were one of the few that already were in production. So just as soon as you start making money, you got these guys, investors, for some reason or another, they come in and say, "Why don't you buy this? You can have it as a tax write-off," and all that. So anyhow, we talked to these guys, and he was the one that said, "You should be able to sell this to the Arabian, those people that have that oil in the OPEC country. And the economy was real good at that time. So I think Mori and I decided we would sell, and George, my younger brother, says no, he's not gonna sell. He was the only one that had boys as grandkids. I only have one granddaughter, but it's a girl. And Mori had three girls, and he wasn't gonna leave his stuff to the girls, 'cause they was gonna marry and get out of the family. So Mori and I sort of agreed we ought to sell, and then if George wants to stay in the kiwi business, he can buy us out or he can start his own again. All three of us ought to get together and sell. But George just didn't want to sell, and so we never did sell.

TI: Yeah, so that was, opportunity back then when everything, you're supposed to sell high...

JT: Yeah. At that time, that was the peak.

TI: low.

JT: Eventually it came down.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: So I want to go back in terms of, when I think about what you went through as a Block 42 and that whole experience, do you... and I notice you have pictures of the group and you've gotten names, do you ever as a group get together? Do you stay in touch with any of the Block 42 men who went to the CCC?

JT: No. After we came back from camp, very few of 'em came back where they started from. Lot of 'em moved out and went to the city, and a lot of 'em didn't come back to California, they moved out of California. The people that, one of the people that signed the papers, the "loyalty" paper, they moved up to Seattle, they moved up to Washington someplace. In fact, I met her up there on top of the mountain, yeah, on Castle Rock. I didn't recognize her, but...

BT: Oh, on the pilgrimage, yeah.

JT: Yeah. She's a little bit older than I was to begin with. Not big difference, but a couple years. And we was up at Castle Rock. And she had her, I think these were her granddaughters.

BT: Rose? Was it Rose?

JT: Huh?

BT: Rose.

JT: Her name was Mae, and her maiden name was... I knew it before you came. [Laughs]

TI: But have you, other than the pilgrimage, have there been any attempts... I guess the question is, are people starting to hear about the story of the Block 42 group?

JT: Well, you know, I spent several hours over there talking about this, and there was some people that was there, and they were surprised that... I'm sort of withdrawn, sort of conservative, I don't go out and talk about it a lot. But they says, "Well, that was against your nature that you went out there and you talked about this." And this guy that told me, he was probably eight or nine years old when he was there, and he was in that pilgrimage. He listened to what I had to say and what Mori had to say, and he says, "I didn't know things like that even happened."

TI: Yeah, your story is not well-known, and so I think it'd be important for others to learn about this.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: I guess in... we're been here for now three hours. I just wanted to ask you, is there anything else that we haven't asked, or anything that you want to share in terms of either Tule Lake or Gridley after the war? Anything else?

JT: Well, the only thing I can say is, before the war, we were accepted as just another people. We were citizens, another citizen. And there was, as far as discrimination goes, there was none. After the war, or during the war, there was discrimination even in a small community like Gridley where you knew these people. They wouldn't talk to you, and you couldn't talk to them because they wouldn't, they wouldn't stand still. They'd move away. And then eventually, we became accepted again. We became friends again. I keep on saying "my so-called friends." They're not friends no more, they're just "so-called friends." They're friends for their convenience, or my convenience.

TI: So what would it take so that they would become your friends again and this wouldn't happen again in the future?

JT: I don't think they'll ever be my friends. No true friends. They're just... they knew me. If they didn't know me when I was growing up, that's one thing. But I grew up with their kids, I played with their kids, I visited their home when we were together and going to school. They came to my place, we learned, I tried to teach one guy how to swim, and the guy almost drowned. But he did actually learn how to swim eventually that day. But boy, we just had to chase him all over the place, and we caught him and we threw him in the ditch and we jumped in afterwards. But he did learn to swim that day. Things... they accept us now as good people again, somebody that they can depend on. If they ask us for donation, we usually donate. Like Gridley hospital was asking for donation. When they, when they created the hospital, they had a Thousand Dollar Club to get money to start the hospital, and it was about a twenty-bed hospital. So the community is only a little over three thousand at that time. And this is not just one town, it's Gridley, Live Oak, Biggs, and Richvale, three or four towns all together. And the reason that they chose Gridley was Gridley was the largest of the whole as far as all the other places combined. And the nearest hospital was Marysville or Chico. They had nothing in between. So this is why they started the hospital business. And my father donated a thousand dollars, and many other people donated to the Thousand Dollar Club, and we got the hospital going. Now, we're up to about a sixty-bed hospital. And I took a friend of mine that got hurt harvesting rice, and most hospitals, like Rideout Hospital is a much larger hospital. Rideout is in Marysville. It's a much larger hospital than Gridley. And they have to have the paperwork done before you do the patient. The administration side's got to get their things all done before you can see the doctor, even if it's an emergency. You could die before you... but Gridley hospital is the other way around. They would rather have the patient see the doctor, and then we'll do the paperwork. In Marysville, this one guy says, "I was there for six hours before I saw a doctor," and this was emergency. And so the Gridley hospital works different, it's closer-knit. And at one time, the Rideout group had bought Gridley hospital, and they were losing money. So they says, "Well, we're gonna close Gridley." Well, Gridley people didn't want 'em to close. And they needed something like a couple of million dollars to keep it open. Well, a small community like Gridley, Biggs, Live Oak and Richvale, we raised over two million dollars in about three weeks. You know, there's some well-to-do people, but not everybody's well-to-do in this community.

TI: So it sounded like you supported this effort, you believed in this hospital, you supported it. And again, so you have been a generous contributor to this community.

JT: Well, so now, we're being accepted as somebody that you can depend on. If you ask for help, you know...

TI: But the interesting thing is, your father did the same thing decades and decades ago, too.

JT: Yeah.

TI: And even before the war, he probably...

JT: Well, see, my father has great respect for the President of the United States, regardless of who it is. And when President Roosevelt signed the proclamation order 9066, my father says, "You know, it's not being right, it's not being wrong. But this is the top man at the United States, the head of the United States. He wants us to go to concentration camp, he wants to go to assembly center. And in my father's view, it's not being right or it's not being wrong. It's what the President wants. We should do what the President wants us to do." And I'm second generation, and we listen to our parents probably a lot more than my kids listen to me. And I know that we went along with my father's wish, that we should do what the President wants us to do. But my kids, they says they're not going. I know they would say that: "We're not going."

BT: Well, they're following their father's example, right? [Laughs]

JT: I could talk to 'em, says, "You know, you've got to do what the President wants us to do." They says, "Baloney." They're not going to do it. They would challenge that. And I think the second, third, fourth generation would do the same thing.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

BT: Jim, I just wanted to ask, it was wonderful having you at the pilgrimage in 2009 at the CCC camp. And I'm just wondering what impact that experience had on you.

JT: Well, you know, I don't know if you know that lady... what the heck was her name? Kitajima.

BT: Oh, Molly.

JT: Yeah. Her daughter --

BT: Taiko, yeah.

JT: I spent time in between the busses, and, and I talked to her and I talked to the people that came to listen. And after I got through, even after four hours, I felt different. I felt like something, something was off my back. You know, you don't realize that you're carrying a load until you take it off. And that's just what I felt. I felt like I took the load off my back after I got through talking. I never knew that I had a load on my back, but that's what I felt like.

BT: Yeah, a lot of people say that after coming to a pilgrimage. Is this something that you had shared with your children earlier?

JT: Well, I've taken my kids up there when they were younger. This is the first time they've been up there after they were adults. But they told me after they were there, they listened to one of my talks over there, and they says, "I didn't know that, things that you talked about there, that you never even talked about at home. You never even told us about it." I don't know what it is. My brother, he served in the MIS in the Pacific, and it took him, I don't know, seven, eight years before he could talk about war experience, maybe that was the same thing with me, I don't know. But he could, my brother could talk about the good times he had in the war experience, like when they pushed back the Japanese army and overrun their mess hall. He says he found rice and he found tsukemono and he found umeboshi. He says he really missed that, you know. And things like that he could talk about, but he couldn't talk about shooting and questioning people and all that, but he can talk about the good times that he had during the service. That's exactly how I felt, anyhow. After I got through with my part of that program, it just felt like I got a load off my back. And now I can forget. I don't know about you people, but if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember. But if you tell a lie, you got to remember what lie you told. And you can't tell one lie and then same stories tell a different way. But that was the truth of what happened to me. And like I said, there's many versions of what happened to different people, and this is my version of what happened to me. And so... but some parts that's sort of sixty-some years ago, you can't remember details. And when you're getting to be eighty years old, over eighty, well, that itself is... your mind isn't as active as when you were younger, so all the more reason that you can't remember details.

TI: And Jim, that's why we so appreciate you taking this time. Because for us, this is, we learn so much about... and not so much often the facts, but just these little stories sort of give this whole, you know, this whole story just much more meaning, much more feeling. And again, thank you for taking the time this afternoon.

JT: Oh, no problem, yeah. I'm telling the truth the best way I can, so if you guys can put this out in the public. We don't want the story of what happened to us during the war to go away. It should be history, and it should be in every school, every schoolbook. After the war, I bought a trailer, a fifth-wheel trailer, and we toured some of the National Parks. And one of the parks that we went to was over there in, I think it was in Montana. The place was Custer's Last Stand, and I met an Indian there. He was a full-blooded Indian, he was a great big man. He was probably six-foot-four, six-foot-five, and I don't know. He was selling Indian artifacts, and I don't know where the conversation turned to education, but anyhow, he was telling me, "Yeah," he says, "I got a couple of PhDs and stuff like that." I says -- and he's some kind of engineer, too. And I says, "What are you doing here selling Indian artifacts to the public with the education you have? You got six figure income anytime you want." And he says, "I do have a job." But he says, "My main job, it's not my money, it's I don't want the American public to forget what the Indians went through. And that's why I'm here. I'm talking about what we went through. And the old story about 'a good Indian is a dead Indian,'" he says, "that's not true." So he's, did the same, doing the same thing that I want to do. I don't want people to forget what we went through there.

TI: So thank you so much. Because by sharing this story, you are going to share with lots of people. So thank you.

JT: Well, I hope it makes sense.

BT: Thank you so much. Because the story of protest in Block 42 is really a very little-known story. So thank you.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.