Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Betty Tanakatsubo Interview
Narrator: Betty Tanakatsubo
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-tbetty-01-0014

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TI: So in your case you eventually left camp. And so let's talk about that, so what, I have my notes that you got a job offer in D.C. but your mother didn't want you to go.

BT: Right.

TI: So tell me about that job offer and how you found out about it?

BT: I took a civil service test in camp and evidently I don't know my score, must have been good where Washington, D.C. sent me a form to apply for a job out there. And my mother said, "No, there's no one in Washington, D.C.," and she was very protective and knowing that, we abide by our parents. We didn't argue. We said, "Alright, I won't go," type of situation so when this other application came and I told my mother, "I have to leave camp. Eventually they're going to request everybody to leave, go back to their own place or relocate," and a lot of young people decided they didn't want to go back to where they came from. And they wanted to venture out to different states, right? Well, I decided I'll go to Cleveland, so my mother said, "Yes, you can't go to Washington, D.C. but you can go to Cleveland," because one of my older brothers was living in Cleveland. And so I got a release form to go to Cleveland and when I got there I had to look for a job, and that's where I landed up with the WRA office, which was interesting because you had all these people coming out from camp. And you knew some of the people, some you didn't know but they came from various camps, and we always asked them to register because sometimes their friend may be looking for them.

TI: So I'm sorry, explain that register, what does register mean?

BT: Register your name, we had a booklet, so anybody that came into the office we asked them to register their name, their address, if they had a phone number. Because maybe someone may be looking for them, right, and we would have the info. Now my husband was discharged from the army, and he came into the office and I asked him, "Would you please register?" He said, "What for?" He said, "That's all I've been doing is doing paperwork." And I said, "Well, in case one of your friends want to contact you at least we have your info, where you live and whatever." So my kids always laugh they say it sounds like dad.

TI: So this was first time you met him?

BT: Well, he's originally from Sacramento too but the age gap where we're five years apart. So I didn't know him and he didn't know me. You figure when he was seventeen I'm only twelve years old. So this was interesting because in camp, in Tule Lake, his father and one of his younger brother lived in the same barrack... you have how many families living in one barrack, right, and his dad lived in one of the barrack.

TI: The same barrack as your family?

BT: Yes.

TI: Okay, so you knew the family.

BT: We knew the family but I didn't know my husband at that time.

TI: So when you found out his name, did you put that together that you knew that he was --

BT: Well, I knew that they had a brother, Nob, his brother, and other than that I didn't really know him personally. I knew of them but that's about the extent of it.

TI: Now did he know who you were?

BT: No.

TI: So did you tell him like, "I know your family"?

BT: Yes, I told him that, "We lived in the same block and your dad used to work in the mess hall as one of the cooks." And his younger brother we knew and his other younger brother, Bob we graduated together in Tule Lake.

TI: And so what was his reaction when you told him all of this?

BT: He said, oh no big deal. [Laughs]

TI: So I'm curious, did he register? Did he write his name and address?

BT: Yes, after... and I always used to tell this story, I said, yeah, I would mention something about dad being so grouchy, so my children said, "He hasn't changed a bit." They kid about it... well, you know when you have boys, they're comical. We all do a lot of laughing.

TI: So the two of you meet, is that when about you started dating?

BT: Not for a while because one of my classmates, they shared a room and board in Cleveland with this Japanese family and they opened up to these single people so Steve and my husband were like roommates and I used to know Steve. In fact, I went out with him a couple of times, Steve, then he said, oh, I have my friend and he mentioned my husband so I said I know of him but I don't know him personally. Well, then after that one day he called, he came over and he said, my husband said, "Hey you want to go out to a tennis," my husband was a very good tennis player. So he said, "You want to go see a tennis game?" I said, "Sure, why not." So we went to see, I don't know there was a Don Budge he was a good player, tennis player.

TI: Yeah I think I saw some tennis rackets named after him or something.

BT: Yeah, right so we went to see the tennis and then from there off and on we would go out on a date.

TI: Okay, so this was all in Cleveland?

BT: This was all in Cleveland right.

TI: That's good. And then did you get married in Cleveland?

BT: Uh-huh, yes, we've been married, what, sixty-four years. It's a long time.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.