Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Esther Takei Nishio Interview
Narrator: Esther Takei Nishio
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 21, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nesther-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

SY: And you don't remember your impressions? Was it an improvement, do you think, over Santa Anita?

EN: I don't remember our room at Santa Anita at all. I guess I was too traumatized, so I don't remember what our quarters were like at all.

SY: Right. So this was, I mean, you were clearly aware of how horrible the whole situation was.

EN: Right. Well, being a senior in high school, we were studying civics and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and how you're so lucky to be born in the United States, and so when this happened I was really shocked. I couldn't believe that our government would do this to an American citizen and her parents, you know?

SY: And do you remember talking, were there, what the reaction from people who were not Japanese American was at school? Did you get --

EN: No, I don't remember at all.

SY: Was there reaction in your neighborhood or that area?

EN: Well, I wasn't living in my neighborhood at the time.

SY: When, after Pearl Harbor. But when, when --

EN: I mean after...

SY: After you --

EN: We were taking care of my cousin's nursery, so we'd moved away.

SY: But I think it was in Venice, though, where you had black out the windows?

EN: Yes.

SY: So obviously you're aware that there was a possible danger of... and probably, did it have anything to do with anything that happened, or was it just because --

EN: No, it was, that was the order, the government order. You had to cover up your windows so that no light would escape, 'cause we were right next to the ocean.

SY: I see, it was because you were by the ocean that the government was extra concerned.

EN: Yes.

SY: So you had a strong awareness, obviously, that this was something terrible. By the time you got to camp, then how, how were you feeling? Did you have, did you, were you given any idea of what was gonna happen next?

EN: No. I guess I couldn't, I can't recall because I think until about 1999 I just didn't want to talk about it, and in that process I just couldn't remember. So I still can't remember a great deal of what happened.

SY: I see. Yeah, that's understandable.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.