Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Hiratsuka Interview
Narrator: Frank Hiratsuka
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-hfrank_2-01-0007

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TI: Well, eventually the orders came out for anyone of Japanese ancestry would have to leave the area. Do you kind of remember that time? 'Cause that was about the time --

FH: Yeah, I remember they got together -- there was another family that was in Piedmont, and the name was Nishi. He used to drive the school, Japanese school bus. That's why I went to Japanese school for the year, 'cause I knew him. They got together and then they hired a truck and they went, they moved everything to Reedley, inland to Reedley, which is supposed to be safe zone.

TI: That was still in California, though.

FH: Yes, it was still in California. It wasn't a safe zone after all, but it was at that time, so that's why we went there. There were quite a few Japanese in that area. Well, of course that was a farming community, anyway.

TI: And it was, it was through the, Mr. Nishi that you went, with his family?

FH: Yeah. And our family went.

TI: And the thinking was that Reedley would be a place where you could stay and, and which, you mention a safe zone, so it was out of the first, the first exclusion zone.

FH: The first zone, yeah. 'Cause I remember going to see my grandmother and grandfather at, where they were interned at their separate, their, whatever that first section was, where they got pulled in the beginning. We went to see 'em and we had to stay on the other side of the fence and talk to them.

TI: Okay, so let me make sure I understand this. So when, so earlier on your family left with the Nishis to go to Reedley. Meanwhile, your grandparents were removed from their area and put into, like an assembly center?

FH: Yeah.

TI: And do you remember which assembly center they were at?

FH: No. It was down, Tanforan maybe? I don't remember.

TI: Might've been Tanforan. But the interesting thing was you were able to go visit them.

FH: Yes.

TI: And so that must've been...

FH: That was something else.

TI: Yeah, it must've been odd to, to have a fence sort of separate the two of you.

FH: The families, yeah. I remember that part.

TI: And it almost seemed kind of odd that here they had Japanese families behind the fence and then families like you able to be outside.

FH: Outside the fence.

TI: Outside the fence, going in and out. Did, did your family have any difficulties traveling during that time, like people would stop your father and ask for papers or anything during this time?

FH: No. Never.

TI: Even the guards, I mean, wouldn't they kind of, kind of scratch their heads thinking, here we're supposed to guard these people, but then there's this family that's just walking outside?

FH: I didn't remember even seeing any guards there at that fence. We just went up to the fence and we didn't look around.

TI: Now, how about you? What were you thinking when you would see your grandparents and, I guess, other family members behind the fence? What did you think?

FH: It wasn't very pleasant, but it was, it was upsetting, but at that time, what could you do?

TI: Now, was there any talk about having them stay at Reedley with you, Reedley?

FH: No. I didn't hear them talking about, I think by that time it was too late. If you're in, once you're in the assembly center you're in the, you're in that slot and they got you lined up.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.