Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Michiko Frances Chikahisa Interview
Narrator: Michiko Frances Chikahisa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-cmichiko-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Any other memories from Rohwer?

FC: Hmm?

TI: Any memories from Rohwer you want to talk about?

FC: Well, having boyfriends for the first time. [Laughs]

TI: So talk about that. So like dances, or what would you do with a boyfriend?

FC: At the beginning I was really leery 'cause I was sure that my father would not approve of it, but, so I would say I'm going to the movies with a girlfriend and then we'd meet the guys at the movie. And so it was, we were sort of sneaking around, but it was not something I did a lot of because I didn't have a particular boyfriend. In fact, in the ninth grade there was some guy I was interested in, but his family went to Tule Lake, so he was gone. And after that I wasn't particularly interested, and was active in school affairs, student council and stuff like that. And in the meantime, because we were so close to Camp Shelby, it was across the Mississippi, and my mother had cousins, my mother's cousin had a family that lived all their lives in Texas. And they had six boys and six girls, and the boys began to go into the service, and so one of the sons was at Shelby and every weekend he'd find a way to come into camp because there're all these young girls and they'd have camp dances. And so Goro would come every weekend with his buddies and they, I didn't go out with them 'cause I was too young, but he'd stop and we'd, my folks may have had dinner with him, and then he'd take these buddies and they'd go out to the dance wherever it was at. And every time the weekend was over he'd come over and say, "This is probably the end, Ojisan. Thank you very much," 'cause they didn't ever know when they were gonna get shipped out. But the next weekend he'd be back. [Laughs]

TI: Now, would he bring anything back from the base, anything like that?

FC: No. Not that I remember. I think he probably did bring some, maybe tobacco or something for my father, but he, he would come with these guys. And then he got shipped out. And then his younger brother, Saburo -- oh, he's actually his older brother -- got into a fight with his dad and he signed up to volunteer, and he, but see, he was, what do you call it? He was able to dodge the draft because his father was a farmer and he needed him as a, so they...

TI: So there's some exemption.

FC: Yeah, he got exempted from the draft, so in spite of the fact that he was Saburo and older than Goro, he wasn't drafted, so when he got into a fight with his dad he was nineteen, I guess, twenty maybe, and he went to, he was sent to Shelby. He was there a very, very short while. He never made it across to camp with us so I never met him, but he died as soon as he got to Italy.

TI: Oh, so he was killed in action.

FC: And he's the first Nisei to be buried at Arlington, so he was one of the early casualties.

TI: And what was the last, do you remember the last name of that family?

FC: Tanamachi.

TI: Okay. And they were from Texas.

FC: San Benito, Texas. The Rio Grande Valley, there were Japanese farmers there.

TI: Okay. Yeah, there's a woman, I think, who's related.

FC: Yeah. She's one of the daughters that was the one that worked so hard to remove "Jap Road."

TI: Right, right.

FC: Sandra.

TI: Sandra, yeah. And what was the family connection again?

FC: Her grandmother is my mother's first cousin.

TI: Okay, so you're related. Good. Okay, so anything else for Rohwer you want to talk about?

FC: Well, the Tanamachi's second son -- the oldest son, Ichiro, spent a lot of time in L.A. 'cause he would have trouble with his father, so I recall when I was like five years old he stayed with us so I always called him Niisan, and then he would go back home. And in 1940 my parents arranged for him to marry a Nisei woman from L.A.

TI: So they were kind of the go-between for that?

FC: So they came and got married, and he was living in L.A. when the war came along, but as soon as we had to go inland they went to Texas. So that was Ichiro. And then the second son, Jiro, was of marriage age, so they came to camp and they arranged a marriage. This is Sandra's mother. So my parents arranged for this family that were famous for being baishakunin, so they arranged to have him meet Kikue and they arranged this marriage. And so that took place in camp, so she, they came, they went back and forth for a while because of the wedding and all of that.

TI: That's a good story.

FC: So she got to, he got his bride from Rohwer camp. [Laughs]

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.