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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Okay, so eventually you get the order that you have to leave Sacramento. So what did you do with all your possessions and how did you get ready?

BT: Well, we had a very good neighbor who lived across the street from where we lived, and Hazel and her husband, Howard, they said, "Some of your valuables, pack it and we will keep it in the basement." And so my mother who did all the packing left some of the boxes with this Caucasian couple. And after we were released from the center, my mother went to check on her items that she had the Howards keep for them. What happened was they both passed away and the sister cleaned the basement and she took a lot of our family's items and well, there's nothing we could do in terms of the items being disappeared. And some of the items were family's... that she wanted us to keep.

TI: So like heirlooms or keepsakes.

BT: Yes.

TI: Like china perhaps.

BT: Well, I think there was some other stuff that she wanted us to eventually receive, but all that was, either if there was any literature or whatever, all that was thrown out. So you know, it was a complete loss.

TI: So your mother must have been disappointed when she went back.

BT: Well, we didn't know that this couple had passed away because they even came to Walerga which was temporary. They drove in to see us and then when they went back, I don't know whatever took place but eventually I guess they passed away and we didn't know about it until my mother went back to Sacramento to retrieve some of the items.

TI: So were they quite elderly, this couple?

BT: I would say they would be more of maybe late fifties.

TI: Okay, so nothing you would expect in terms of something like that?

BT: No, and she always reminded me of this Kate Smith. She was a huge singer and this Hazel always had a beautiful voice and she would play her piano you could hear her singing with her voice just outstanding, very operatic type of singing. They were such nice people, it's a shame.

TI: Yeah, it's so unfortunate that when they died, but then if they had lived all those belongings would have --

BT: Oh, yes, that's right, the keepsakes.

TI: The sister that took over, and was she sort of mean about it?

BT: I don't know in terms... I don't know too much about her background, the sister's, Hazel's sister. All I know is that things had disappeared and my mother was rather upset about it, but there was nothing we could do. We didn't know where the sister lived or the background, so we couldn't even look into it which is very common what happened with a lot of the families that came back from the camp.

TI: And the couple, their name was Hazel and Howard?

BT: Howard.

TI: What was her last name?

BT: All I remember is Hazel and Howard. [Laughs] I can't think... I don't know their last name. All I remember is Hazel and Howard.

TI: And do you remember the address of your place in Sacramento?

BT: I should know.

TI: Or whereabouts?

BT: We lived on Second Street and that block there were one, two, three, four, five, six Japanese family. Either they owned the house or they were renting it out like we were, my parents were renting the house out.

TI: Okay, and did they do this with other Japanese families or just your family? Hazel and Howard, did they store --

BT: Just our family.

TI: Okay, so they were just close to your mom and dad. You mentioned already that you went to Walerga, so this was the assembly center that you went from Sacramento to Walerga. What were your impressions of Walerga?

BT: Well, offhand I know my sister who (now) lives in Denver, she and I were two years apart and we said to... we talked about Walerga and how there was no privacy. You had community washroom where there was no curtain, even for the john there was no curtain (...). Because it was considered a temporary camp and I don't have too much memory of Walerga aside from no privacy. (Can't remember) how long we stayed there (...) before we were transferred to Tule Lake.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.