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-01-0020

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TI: Now I want to go back and end with you in terms of after your boys were a little bit older I think you went back to work? So tell me about that what kind of work did you do?

BT: It was an insurance company and the reason why I took this particular company because I didn't have, it was just around the corner and maybe about a block down, and when I went for an interview, I remember this particular personnel man interviewed me and he looked at me and said, wanted to know if I was Japanese, Chinese, and I told him about being Japanese. Then we started to talk about our tradition, how we as children abide by what our parents said. And I said if a friend gives you something in a dish, whether it be a piece of cake or whatever, cookie. I said, "You never return this empty handed, you put something on that plate and return it." These are the little things we talked about and he says, "I like the Japanese tradition." [Laughs] And he found it very interesting because I was the first Japanese to be hired by this company and I've been with them for, what, twenty-six years.

TI: And it was interesting just from this nice conversation about Japanese kind of traditions and cultures. So I'm at the end of my questions. Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about?

BT: No, I think we just about covered everything in terms of my life aside from being grateful that I'm living as long as I am right now and trying to stay active and healthy. I think that's the main thing is to stay active and keep your mind alert and someone said, "Well, what do you really do at home?" And I said, oh I transfer DVD things and I make tapes for my friends and little things like that, and it keeps you aware.

TI: So you use like computers to do that, the DVDs?

BT: I do it with my copier. I invested in a copier where if I make a DVD and my friend says, "I like that," I got a copier that I can transfer and I do things like that. This one lady, she always brings me these Japanese or Korean movies and she'll say, "Can you make me a copy?" She borrows it from someone else but she wants a copy so I say sure so I'll make copies for her and these are the things I enjoy doing.

TI: And it makes you keep learning.

BT: Oh, yes.

TI: Good, so Betty, thank you so much to do this interview on your birthday. So again, happy birthday. So hopefully your husband will take you someplace nice now to celebrate.

BT: Well, I think tonight my son the optometrist, he called earlier and he said he didn't realize I was going for an interview and he said, "We can go out to dinner tonight," and I said, "Fine." I said, "I have an interview at one o'clock," and he said, "Oh, that's great." And I said I'm fortunate enough to be picked, and I'm able to converse a lot of things that I thought would be interesting. And we don't talk about it, so this way the children would know what's part of it.

TI: Exactly.

BT: And my husband was also interviewed by this one De Paul University, he had to talk about his military life, and that was interesting too because a couple of them came by as students and they came by to tell him that that was something that they didn't know about, Japanese American being interpreters.

TI: So he was also in the MIS, oh, you're talking about your brother.

BT: Okay, my brother was in the 100th.

TI: 100th, I see and your husband.

BT: My husband was with the MIS.

TI: That's right, okay, good. Well, make sure you tell your son tonight that you did a really great job on this interview.

BT: Well, I don't know [Laughs]

TI: We have it on the record so that I said this. So thank you so much.

BT: Well, it was nice talking about it.

TI: I really enjoyed it.

BT: Well, to be interviewed like this it's an honor too that I'm able to express a lot of my feelings and my thoughts.

TI: And the history, all the history. So again, thank you.

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