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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Okay, I want to back up just a little bit. On the day December 7, 1941, describe that day and how you heard and the reactions of your parents when they heard.

BT: Well, they were more concerned about my... one of my brother who was in Hawaii. He was one of the few mainlanders that was shipped to Hawaii and eventually he came back with the 100th Infantry.

TI: So was this like Fred?

BT: Tom.

TI: Tom, okay.

BT: Thomas.

TI: And so he had already been drafted?

BT: He volunteered and then he landed up in Camp McCoy and then he was shipped out to Hawaii and there he had to join the 100th Infantry, one of the few mainlanders that was considered as part of the 100th.

TI: Is Tom still alive?

BT: No, he passed away about four, five years ago (...).

TI: That'd be so interesting because you're right I mean he was one of the very few mainlanders.

BT: Right, in fact when the Senator Inouye came and he came to Chicago and I went up to talk to him and I mentioned to Inouye about my brother being with the 100th. And he said, "Oh, he said let me talk to him," and I said, "He's deceased." But he thought maybe he was at the banquet or luncheon and he wanted to talk to my brother, but unfortunately...

TI: I would have loved to asked him his impressions of the Japanese Americans from Hawaii and you hear all those stories about the mainlanders having a hard time understanding the pidgin and all that.

BT: Right. Not only that, when he was shipped to be with the Hawaiian group, there was a certain amount of prejudice. In other words, the Hawaiians didn't care for the Niseis here in America.

TI: I think they call them "Kotonks."

BT: Yeah, "Kotonks." And he used to tell us about... well this was after he was discharged, what he went through to be accepted as part of the Hawaiian group. Because they were a rather... there's an outsider, I think they couldn't have been more than... three offhand I know (of) besides my brother and two other fellows. I don't think there were too many Niseis (from us) with the 100th.

TI: Now what would... do you recall any of his stories about what he would do to be accepted by the Hawaiians?

BT: He was a man who never drank, beer or anything.

TI: So that probably was different.

BT: And he had to learn how to drink beer to be part of just what they did on their free time, they did a lot of drinking. And he said, he used to get sick, and eventually he was accepted which made him very happy. He says, "I didn't have to go through it again," but he used to tell us these little funny stories about what took place while he was with the 100th, mainly being accepted by the Hawaiian soldiers, which was great because eventually after much, much, how many years later they had a reunion in Hawaii for the 100th, and how there weren't too many left from the 100th, right. So he said he had such a good time and they were all very good to him when they found out here's a Nisei from U.S. coming all the way for the reunion.

TI: Especially one who served with them.

BT: Yes.

TI: I'm sure again maybe he had to drink a little bit then, too. [Laughs]

BT: That I didn't ask. [Laughs] But he said that I always remember how he had to learn how to drink.

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