Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Nancy Shimotsu Interview
Narrator: Nancy Shimotsu
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 7, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-snancy-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

SY: Today is February 7, 2012, and we're talking with Nancy Shimotsu at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. My name is Sharon Yamato, and Tani Ikeda is on camera. So Nancy, can we start by you telling us your full name?

NS: Okay. My first name is Nancy, Natsuko is my Japanese name, and my maiden name is Inatomi, and my married name is Shimotsu.

SY: And so Nancy, how did you get the name Nancy from Natsuko?

NS: My sisters, we all wanted English name. So my oldest sister decided to give me an English name, so she said Nancy. So I said, "Oh, that sounds pretty." So I said, "Okay, call me Nancy." So since then, my name became Nancy.

SY: And tell us where you were born and when exactly, which date?

NS: I was born in a place called Dominguez Hills. It's a hill, it's a country site. My father was a farmer in Dominguez Hills, and that's where I was --

SY: And it's south of Los Angeles?

NS: Gee, I guess... well, you know where Compton is?

SY: It's near Compton?

NS: Compton, so that next town is Gardena. Between Gardena and Compton, it's between, right in the middle of it. It's a hill, like a hill.

SY: And that's where your father farmed.

NS: Yeah. It was my father's, when he came back from Japan, first farming land.

SY: And what was the date that you were born?

NS: 1922. My birthday was July 23rd.

SY: So you're coming up to your ninetieth birthday.

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: In a few months.

NS: Yes, I'm an old lady. [Laughs]

SY: Congratulations.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

SY: So let's go back then and talk a little bit about your parents. Can you tell about your father, start with your father and his family, where he was from?

NS: Well, my father is from a place in Fukuoka, but I don't really know the name of the place. But I went to Japan, but I've forgotten the name of the... it's in the, way in the south, I guess, the end of Japan before they go to another ken. They had a ken, what they call ken, I guess, in Japan, different town. I guess it was a city or a town.

SY: Was it Kyushu?

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: That was the city?

NS: That's the... Kyushu is the place that people live in, it's a town, I guess you would say, just like when we say Dominguez Hills.

SY: So that's the town.

NS: That's the town.

SY: And he had a family, a big family in Japan?

NS: Uh-huh. He was a young boy, I guess, from Japan. He started... I guess he really was a young boy, so what he did with the father I don't know. I guess farming, probably, that he started. In Japan they had to do farming to make a living. I don't think they had a store or anything like that.

SY: So he had brothers and sisters, do you know whether your dad had brothers and sisters in Japan?

NS: Yes, they did, but they all were in Japan.

SY: So he was the only one?

NS: He was the only one in America.

SY: And do you know when he came to America?

NS: I really couldn't... I wish I knew. But...

SY: And do you know, do you have any idea why he came?

NS: Well, because so many people are poor in Japan, so he heard of going to America. This is where he heard about everybody going to America to live because it's a beautiful country they said. And so my father decided he wanted to come too as a young man, and he wanted to explore the place, and so he said, one day he told his parents that he was going to go to America. I think, well, according to my father, he said he didn't want to take responsibility, the parents didn't want to take responsibility, so it was up to him to go to America, that they're not going to do anything about it because they're not gonna be there. So he was a brave man that came out by himself to America. He landed in San Francisco, I think that's what he said, at that time.

SY: And when he first came here, that's when he started farming?

NS: No, not in Dominguez Hills. I mean, in San Francisco, that's where he was, landed. And so then after that, he came to Los Angeles, and then he heard of the farming land, so then that's when he started farming in Dominguez Hills.

SY: And your mother, was she...

NS: Well, she was, she came later, later in America. So then they met through, I guess like a fixed marriage I guess you'd call it.

SY: Arranged?

NS: Arranged marriage, uh-huh.

SY: And they met in Japan?

NS: No, they met in America, yeah.

SY: So how did that happen? Who was the person who fixed, who arranged the marriage?

NS: Well, I mean, I guess they must have had friends in... I mean, Japanese people all had all these people, they called it baishakunin or something like that. And so they arranged it.

SY: So it wasn't his family, but it was more a friend.

NS: Friend, I think it was his friend, or met a friend or something through people coming to America. It's not just one person, there were so many came there all at one time. So that's how my father said that's how they...

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

SY: And so your mother, when she came to this country, she had never met your father?

NS: No, no.

SY: But they had a mutual friend.

NS: Yes, yes, yes.

SY: And so he's the one that recommended your father to him. And so was there any objection from either family?

NS: I guess not. And then evidently they got married and they had all the children, twelve children. I mean, you know, she had a lot of miscarriages, and nine lived through all these years. Of course, we lost so many brothers and sisters.

SY: So your mother had twelve children altogether?

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And who, can you tell us who the oldest one...

NS: Yes, his name is Harold Inatomi. My sister was the oldest, her name was Fusako, but later on, as we went on, got older, she had American name Jean.

SY: So all your sisters and brothers have American names?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: And I'm sorry I forgot to ask your father's name and your mother's family name. Your father's full name?

NS: My father's full name is Kametaro. Kametaro Inatomi.

SY: And your mother's full name?

NS: My mother's name is Misao... oh, gosh, her family name... what was their last name? I can't remember.

SY: Do you know how long it was before they actually got married after they'd moved to this country?

NS: Well, I guess it was arrangement, so they got married right after that. When she came to America she got married right away because she wouldn't know where to go otherwise. So my father picked her up and came to...

SY: Did your mother talk to you about the...

NS: Oh, yes, uh-huh. Often, she often talked about it. She didn't really like it; she didn't like America. She said she wanted to go back, she cried. [Laughs] She was scared, more or less. And then my father was good to her, so I guess right after that they got married and look how many children she had. So must have loved each other.

SY: So she didn't say anything about your father being...

NS: No. Yeah, my father was good to her, I guess, and had all the children, and they were happy.

SY: She didn't say anything about it being difficult not knowing him?

NS: Oh, yes. First she was scared, she said, but then he was good to my mother, so I guess they loved each other. After all, she wouldn't have all those children. [Laughs]

SY: And did she have any friends when she came?

NS: No.

SY: She was totally by herself.

NS: By herself.

SY: She came over all by herself.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: So I'm assuming they met in San Francisco.

NS: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

SY: And so they came to Dominguez Hills.

NS: Dominguez Hills after that.

SY: Directly from San Francisco.

NS: Uh-huh, directly.

SY: And do you know when your first sister was born, how soon after they got married?

NS: Well, then they got married, my oldest sister got married. Gee, I really don't know when she was born.

SY: It was fairly soon after your --

NS: Yeah, right after.

SY: -- they were married. So it was your older sister and then you have an older brother.

NS: Yes. Right after that he got older brother. Mama was real busy having all those children right away. They're not even... I don't think, I think two years apart, I guess. Most of them are two years apart.

SY: And where are you in this...

NS: I'm in the middle.

SY: You're in the middle.

NS: Uh-huh. My oldest one is Fusako -- oldest one is Harold, and then Fusako, and then Richard and myself, so I'm right in the middle. And then Jimmy and Bob and Harry and Sadie. There was a sister, my sister was there, too, but she passed away, baby sister.

SY: And she was older than you or younger than you?

NS: The younger. She's next to the youngest.

SY: So of the twelve children that your mother had...

NS: Uh-huh, the nine of us lived.

SY: And the three, did they pass away in childbirth?

NS: Well, the one that was nine months was between myself and my other sister.

SY: So she was younger than you.

NS: Yeah, yeah.

SY: And she was nine months old, so you remember?

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. I was old enough to know.

SY: And the two others, do you know how they passed away?

NS: Miscarriage.

SY: Oh, they were both miscarriage.

NS: Miscarriage, yes. That's what Mother told me. Hayai umare, I guess that's what they call hayai umare, they were born too early or something. She said, "Hayai umare," she's always talking about, she said she lost two.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

SY: So because your mother was always having children then, did you become the person who took care of...

NS: Well, I was twelve years old, I took care of the whole family. [Laughs] So I remember that.

SY: And what exactly were your jobs?

NS: Well, cooking, especially cooking, cleaning, washing. I did generally everything because in the country when my father was farming, everybody had to go help work out in the field. So there would have to be somebody in the house to help cook and clean and do the yardwork.

SY: Who was... so what about your older sister?

NS: Well, she was always working out. She went to work, being the oldest. Yeah, she was the oldest, so she always worked outside.

SY: And your older brothers, same thing?

NS: Uh-huh, yes. They're all same. They all worked. And then later in the years, like my sister became a dress designer, so she got a job in Beverly Hills, so she worked out there.

SY: So you really had to take care of cooking for the whole family?

NS: The whole family, yes.

SY: And do you remember the kinds of things you cooked?

NS: Oh, yes. Oh, big pot of stew, that's a pan about... I guess you would call it how many gallons? About four gallons, I guess. Because twelve of us, don't forget, and they eat like a horse. They all work out on the farm, they're hungry. And then okazu, I guess you'd call it okazu in Japanese, it's different kind of mixed vegetable with meat. Very few meat but a lot of vegetable, that type of thing. And mostly, and then Dad used to love to buy us roast, so I used to roast the beef, chicken.

SY: So did you eat the things that were grown on the farm? Do you remember what he was growing?

NS: Yes, oh, yeah. We had farm, so all kind of vegetable was grown. On the side, Mama used to raise all different kind of vegetable also, you know. And we always had nappa, Japanese nappa, Mama would grow that, and then we used to eat that all the time and then make tsukemono. My mother made that tsukemono for me, so she helped me. And then we had all the... we never missed out on that because Mom always made that.

SY: And so how... I still don't understand, did your mother just sort of say it's your job to do all the cooking?

NS: Well, because she had to go out to work in the field. So she told me what to cook today, and she'll tell me what to have. So we usually had... we had what they call a storeroom that put all the vegetables and canned goods and stuff. So my father used to buy all these things in boxes because we had so many kids. So I had to go look in there to see what we could cook.

SY: Did you all sit down and eat together?

NS: Oh, yes. My father, that's the only thing my father made us do was all sit together to eat at the same time.

SY: And you would serve them?

NS: Well, yes, and Mama would help, too, but then I would serve.

SY: And do you remember your mom always being, having, being pregnant?

NS: Oh, yes. I remember... well, especially my younger, after me, after I became about two or three years old, I used to remember Mama having big tummy, and then a little baby coming and sleeping next to her. And I still remember those kind of things.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

SY: So were there other big families like yours during that time?

NS: In Dominguez Hills? Oh, definitely. There was one with fourteen and there was one with sixteen.

SY: And their parents were Issei just like your parents.

NS: Isseis, yes. And then my brother met this girl in camp, and they had sixteen in the family. Just imagine. They lived in Pasadena. My brother met this girl in camp, same camp, and he said, "I met somebody," and said, "Oh, who?" "Kimi, her name is Kimi." And we said, "Oh, what kind of family they have?" "They got sixteen in the family." [Laughs]

SY: So this was... so your father supported you really with the money, with the farm?

NS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

SY: I mean, do you remember it being a struggle?

NS: Oh, yes. At first, my father had so many children, and it wasn't easy. I remember Father going to a Japanese store to buy rice, and he said he couldn't afford a whole sack. Of course, a sack was big, and it cost, it didn't cost more than eight dollar for a whole big sack. But then he said that he could only get half at a time because it was too expensive, 'cause he was having a hard time buying all those vegetables plus meat and fish, they had a Japanese store that sold fish and he used to buy all those things. But they were, in the country they used to come to sell, too, you know, on the truck. So we used to buy it from them, too.

SY: So he would raise vegetables and then take them and sell them, too?

NS: Yes, in the market. They had a market downtown Los Angeles.

SY: And it was vegetable market?

NS: Yes, vegetable market. And then later on, my father decided to raise flower also. And my older brother helped with the vegetable, like they had cabbage, they used to have, say, five acres of cabbage, five acres of celery. And so my brother, my oldest brother was old enough to more or less take care of it, too. After he'd come from school, came home from school, and he'd take over.

SY: So this was a lot of land that your...

NS: Oh, yes, we leased it, a place called Dominguez Hills was owned by this man, Dominguez or something, what his name was, I forgot what his name was. Anyhow, it's called Dominguez Hills. And he leased it to all these Japanese families. Nobody could own a land. Japanese could not own the land because they were Issei, they were not citizens.


SY: So in talking about Dominguez Hills, so was it all Japanese farmers in the area?

NS: At that time, yes.

SY: So all your neighbors were Japanese farmers.

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. There's no hakujin, I mean, there's no one. But later... no, I didn't see Mexican, they're all workers, Mexicans were workers. We used to have Mexican workers. They didn't lease the land, they just worked.

SY: So your father would hire Mexican workers to help?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: Then what kind of house did you live in?

NS: It was a wood, country house that was there. My father, just before, not too many years before the war, he built a house, another house, because the family was getting so big and they needed another house. So we had a separate house in the back, a big house, four bedroom house. And so we had two house.

SY: So the first house was there when you moved in?

NS: Yes, it was small house, but we, I don't know, somehow... of course, the kids were small yet at that time. So three of my brothers used to sleep together in one bed, another three would sleep in another bed, and then I slept with my sister, and baby sister was sleeping with Mama. So nine of us were all together.

SY: In one house. And then the second house he built...

NS: Yes. That's when the kids were getting older, my brothers were getting, six brothers, so the youngest... well, there was a difference, Mama seemed to have every year, so they're about two and a half year apart.

SY: So that was nice to have more, all that extra room.

NS: Yes, oh, yes.

SY: Did your parents end up staying in the front house or the back house?

NS: Yes, yes. The back house was all for children, especially boys.

SY: So do you remember when that, when you were able to move into that? Did you live in the back house?

NS: No, no. I had slept with my sisters in the front house. That was a three-bedroom house.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

SY: And so how many, do you remember roughly how many families were in this Dominguez Hills area?

NS: Gosh. The ones that I know would be about ten, ten families that I knew. Moritas and Kurashiges... don't forget, they have brothers and another family together now. They didn't live in the same house, they were all separate houses.

SY: And they all were farmers?

NS: Yes, they were all farmers.

SY: And so where did you go to school?

NS: It was about four miles away from our place, called McKinley grammar school. McKinley and then what was the other one? High school was... I forgot.

SY: It was... four miles is quite a long way to go to school.

NS: Oh, yeah, we had to walk. And then to the bus stop was two miles. And then from there on it was a four mile. The bus took us, so it was about six miles away from our house.

SY: And then as you got older, you had to go further way to go to school?

NS: Yeah, Compton, place called Compton.

SY: So you ended up going to school in Compton. So you went to Compton High School?

NS: Uh-huh, finished there.

SY: And you had a junior high school in between?

NS: Yes. It was in the same area, so we didn't have to walk too far. I mean, we still had to walk, but what I'm saying is around that same area.

SY: Did you go to school with your brothers and sisters?

NS: Yes, oh, yes. I had to take my baby sister because she was in grade school. Junior high school and high school separate, so after that, she was old enough to go on her own.

SY: So how would, how did you like going to school?

NS: Oh, I used to love it. I didn't have to work. [Laughs] And then come home and work. I used to love it. But the only thing was hard because we had to do homework. They didn't give you homework in those days. I mean, I don't remember doing homework; we did it at school.

SY: So at school.

NS: At school, oh, yeah, we had to study real hard. I did pretty good; I had pretty good grades.

SY: And then when you came home, you had to cook.

NS: Oh, yeah.

SY: That was your only job.

NS: But then we had little things. You want to say that... the teacher say, well, you had to make a story with this and this and that, then you had to write your own story at home, like composition.

SY: So you did have a little bit of...

NS: Not too much. Teachers didn't give us that time... I don't remember that much homework that we did, like say that you did a lot of arithmetic or something like that. Of course, after high school I did, but not the grammar school.

SY: And do you remember, were most other kids that you went to school with, were they mostly Japanese?

NS: Yes. I don't remember having hakujin friends. [Laughs]

SY: Even in high school?

NS: Yes, in high school, oh, yes, 'cause they came from all over. Dominguez Hills, the kids all went, was Japanese, so very few. Maybe one, two.

SY: And then this man who owned this area, did you ever meet him?

NS: Hardly. I didn't know 'til after, I mean, just before the war we went to say goodbye to them, and that was the only time. And they never came to see us. The helper used to come to get the money for the lease. You had to pay the lease money once a year, so he's the only one that used to come to get the money from my father.

SY: Just once a year?

NS: Once a year.

SY: Do you have any idea how much he paid?

NS: Sure don't. I sure don't. Not much, not much. Because we all live in the same house. I mean, it was our house, they just leased the land, so it wasn't that much at all.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

SY: So when the war broke out, how old were you when the war broke out?

NS: The war broke out... gee, when I went to camp I was eighteen, so...

SY: Just before that?

NS: Yeah, just before. So maybe I was... I mean, actually, I think I was about fifteen, I guess, and then the war started and this and that, and then we had to go in camp when I was eighteen.

SY: So can you remember that day that you heard --

NS: Oh, yes. My father got the newspaper, we had radio, you know, you hear, you listen to them on the radio saying this and this and that.

SY: So your father actually subscribed to the newspaper?

NS: Yes. They used to, my father used to have to go pick it up in Gardena every day to pick it up. He read everything, and that's how we got the news. But we had radio.

SY: So you actually had a lot of conveniences.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: Did you feel like your father was struggling to make...

NS: Well, yeah, oh, yeah. When we were young kids, my father wasn't doing... everybody, not only our family, everybody was having, struggling time. Some couldn't even find a food to eat. So my father used to go help them. We were lucky that we had farm, so my mother raised all the vegetable and we made our own food. Only thing was to buy the rice and meat. And then we had fruit trees, and gosh, I don't remember starving. We didn't get everything, we didn't get to eat any fancy things, but my father put food on our table. I mean, I was the cook so I know.

SY: So your family, because you have such a big family, did you have a lot of friends or did you...

NS: Oh, yeah, that's what I'm saying. My brother would bring their friends to eat, too, because some of 'em didn't find food in their table so they wanted to come eat with us. So my father used to complain about, "Don't bring them over anymore," or something like that, 'cause not enough food or something. I used to hear him. And my mother would say, "Orai desho, aru kara," or something. Because I used to make a big pot of vegetable dish, okazu, and stew and things likes like that. And my kids brothers are all young yet, so they didn't eat that much.

SY: So did you enjoy growing up with all these...

NS: Oh, yeah, we had a real good, uh-huh, we had a real good relationship. We never fight, we never... well, my father made sure we didn't fight or anything. Of course, my young kid sister, I mean, my brothers, they would fight with my sisters and pull hair or something like that, but that was about it.

SY: And you got along with your brothers and sister.

NS: Oh, yeah, 'cause I was older, and they mind me 'cause I was always the cook.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

SY: Let's talk about all these names that your brothers and sisters had, because they were all American names.

NS: Yeah, well, that was later on. My sister named them, my older sister. My mother and my father was real Japanesey so they had to have Japanese name. Everybody had a Japanese name.

SY: Did they speak any English?

NS: My father and my mother? Oh, no. My father was pretty good 'cause he went to market, and he had all the people that come to buy the flower was American people, so he had to learn to speak English. Well, he was broken English, you know how it is. Because when he comes home, all he talks is Japanese.

SY: And so he called you all by your Japanese names.

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes.

SY: And your sister was the one who came up with all of these American names?

NS: Yeah, my sister, my older sister.

SY: Your oldest sister. And so she came up with...

NS: Jean, my brother Harold, and Dick and Harry and Bob, Jimmy.

SY: And did she have, did she give herself an American name?

NS: Uh-huh, Jean.

SY: Jean, and so that was Fusako.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And so that was something that she did when... she just came up with these names as you got older.

NS: Yeah, as my sister got older. Well, she was the oldest.

SY: So you were never referred to outside of your house by your Japanese name.

NS: No. No one knew my name as Natsuko. Like I told you, at home, when I still was younger, my brothers used to call me "Nuts" because Natsuko was, sounds like "Nuts." Na-tsu-ko, "nuts." So I used to get mad at 'em and chase 'em all over the house. "Don't you dare call me Nuts." [Laughs] I still remember that, especially my second brother, he was so bad.

SY: So you had an interesting time growing up with so many people?

NS: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. They were all good, though. We never fought that, what you call fight. We picked at each other, yes, but not that much.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

SY: And so when you ended up having to go to camp, that must have been very difficult for your parents.

NS: Oh, yes, yes. It was real... my father and my mother crying, "Mou, ii desho." And she was gonna separate us, "They're gonna separate us," that's why.

SY: That's what she thought was going to happen because there were so many of you. So do you remember exactly, from the time that Pearl Harbor happened, were they worried then?

NS: Yes, oh, yes. My father was, right away he said, "Oh, they're going to do something to us because we're Japanese." Right away when the newspaper, all these American people want "Jap" to be out of... I remember that, too, you know. Every time I got on the bus, said, "Hey you, Jap, what are you doing? Get out of this country." When you talk like that, all these years you're going school together with American kids, and all of a sudden the war started, they're mean to us. They were so mean.

SY: So it was it usually people that you didn't know?

NS: No, students. My classmates. Oh, yeah.

SY: So when you first went back to school, 'cause it happened on a Sunday...

NS: Well, this kid named -- I still remember his name, Charles. I used to fight with him. And I was tough because I had six brothers, don't forget, and they all took judo. And so I was with them to do the judo all the time, so I just really gave it to him one time and oh, the teacher got mad.

SY: You actually physically fought with him?

NS: Oh, yeah, because he was so bad. And so after that he stopped teasing me.

SY: And was he worse when the war broke out?

NS: Yes, that's when he started calling me "Jap," see, that's why.

SY: And there were other people? Like how were you treated by other...

NS: Well, on the bus going to Chicago, this American guy saying, "What are you doing, Jap?" like that. But I didn't pay attention because my brother said, "Don't talk to them. Just don't say anything. So then I didn't say anything and they stopped saying anything.

SY: And how did the teachers treat you when you went back to school?

NS: They were nice. They were very sad. We had, the science teacher was real good friends with my brother, he used to come over to my house and I used to feed him food. He used to like Japanese food. So they were sad; they were really sad. Mr. Crane was his name.

SY: So your oldest brother was how many years older than you?

NS: Well, they're all two and a half year apart, see, and so...

SY: Five, seven... seven years old?

NS: Uh-huh, about seven or eight years older.

SY: So was he just working on the farm?

NS: My brother? No, he had a job in school, because he was already getting good grade, and teacher made him do some work in the school. So he had a little job, and then later on, he had a weekend job working at... I think he was doing work in a store or something, I don't remember that well. I know my second brother was working in the store, grocery store.

SY: So your older brothers and sisters, were they all going to school and working, or just working?

NS: Yes. No, they all had to work on the farm, so they were helpers in the farm for a while. 'Cause they didn't give you jobs at all for a while, and being Japanese, they said you can't work anymore and so they let them go. And then just before the camp, they start hiring again because they needed helper, 'cause we were cheap, don't forget. And then we work hard. They wanted workers like my brother.

SY: And none of them were going to school.

NS: At that time? At that time, no. Yeah, they were working.

SY: And what were you doing? Where were you when the war broke out?

NS: Oh, I was still going school. I just graduated high school. And then I wanted to go to junior college, I started, but then my father said no, not to go out of the house. We couldn't go out of the house.

SY: So you had graduated from high school...

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: And it was summer vacation? And then you were going back to your farm?

NS: Uh-huh. And my father was happy 'cause we didn't go to school and help in the farm. But then we had to quit because we got a notice from the government that we all have to go to camp.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

SY: Do you remember how long it was between the time that you got the note -- that Pearl Harbor happened and then you --

NS: Not too long, 'cause we had to get ready. We had to get rid of all the stuff, we had to clean the house and get ready to go to camp. So it wasn't too long. Right after it seems. 'Cause I remember Mama buying a lot of things, you know, to get ready to go to the camp because we didn't want to go with old clothes and stuff, so we had to go shopping. When you're in the country, you have old clothes, all the old clothes, the brothers all had torn pants and everything. They don't care, they wear like that in the country. They'd rather wear torn pants, and not too many had too nice clothes, so Mama took us shopping and Papa took us shopping to buy clothes.

SY: Because you knew you were gonna go away, so they actually bought things.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And what about the things that you had to sell?

NS: Well, nobody bought it. We had to leave it, that's why they were sad. They were so sad. My father bought all those new refrigerator, and we had nice refrigerator at that time. And not too many people, inaka didn't have electric ones, they all had those ice ones. Do you remember ice box? I guess so. I guess you won't remember that. Your mother would probably, ask your mother, if you have your mother, to tell you. Well, anyhow, it was the kind that had, you buy ice. They come to sell it. In other words, delivery people will bring it to you. You put this ice in there, in the box on one side and then that keeps the food cold. But then my father bought one small electric one just before the war, small one. Not big. Oh, we used to... oh my god, it was still new, and when we thought of leaving that, we were sad. So we stocked that up into the back stockroom, when we came it was gone. Everything was gone; nothing was there, everything.

SY: So you packed up things and then you left them in this back house?

NS: Uh-huh. Not a thing. There wasn't even a thing left in there. They took everything and it was gone.

SY: So you don't know how it got...

NS: So my father and mother was so mad, they said, "Oh, my gosh, new refrigerator and all this stuff was gone."

SY: So instead of selling things...

NS: We couldn't. We had no time. Nobody wanted to buy anything at that time, especially Japanese stuff.

SY: So you stacked it all in this back house.

NS: Uh-huh. Everybody, same thing. Not just us, all the Dominguez Hills people did the same thing. And when they came back, there was nothing.

SY: So did your father make an arrangement with the man who leased the land?

NS: No. He wasn't even around. He was dead already by the time we came back. He was an old man.

SY: So do you think he just assumed that you would have a house when you came back?

NS: Yes. No, right away we found out. So then my brother was old enough to come to West L.A. to buy a house, so that's where we bought the house.

SY: That was after the war.

NS: Yeah.

SY: So before the war did you have a car?

NS: Yes, oh, yes. We had two car. We had a truck for the farming, and then my father had, for the flower he had one of those, what do you call those? Covered one. They call it...

SY: Some sort of truck. So he had the flower...

NS: Yeah, yeah. Because the flower get ruined if you don't put it in there.

SY: And do you know what happened to those?

NS: They're gone. We had it all packed up in the back of the house, had the garage, too. Packed, locked up.

SY: So you left the cars?

NS: Everything. You can't take anything to the camp except your clothes. They tell you, they have a list of things you could only take.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

SY: So how did you pack up for all your sisters and brothers? Did you each carry something?

NS: Yes. Well, we all had to buy suitcase. We all had to buy, had nine of us, but, see, Mother used to go to Japan, and she had quite a few suitcases already. So it wasn't too bad. But I think, I remember... my suitcase was brand new yet, and my brothers [inaudible], 'cause they didn't have it either. We bought a cheap suitcase and packed it. Lot of people, we didn't realize, but then they had it in a bag. I said, oh my god, they said they had to put a suitcase, they told us. So my father said, "No, you got to buy a suitcase." We went to where we had to go, all these people had all these in a sack, I mean, you know, one of those things, packed in there. My father said, "We didn't have to have suitcase." After we got into camp, we didn't know what to do with the suitcase, it got in the way. But then, don't forget, we had a, underneath the barrack, there was open. So that's why we packed it in there.

SY: So you had, must have had eleven suitcases.

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah. So we didn't know how to take it, so we had to put it in a suitcase. But my brothers, they all had small, they didn't have that many clothes, so it wasn't that bad.

SY: Do you remember choosing what you were going to take?

NS: Oh, we had to take everything what we had.

SY: What did you bring? Do you remember packing...

NS: Yeah, the pants and dresses and everything, what I had.

SY: That's all...

NS: That's all. Oh, no, you couldn't take other things. That's why I was so sad, we couldn't take our annual. When we came back, everything was gone, I told you. Oh, it was so sad. None of those annuals and things, that was a real... and books and things that we had from school, high school. I mean, I graduated from high school and my honor thing, all those things were gone.

SY: So you had to really make a choice, and there were certain things that you...

NS: Well, I wish I, if I had known that we're gonna be gone like that, we could have packed. But we had only limited thing, don't forget. We could only take one suitcase apiece. But I could have put it in my brother's, 'cause they didn't have that much clothes. I'm the only one that had more clothes.

SY: And so your brothers, and so during that time between Pearl Harbor and you were told to go to camp, did you stay at home all the time?

NS: Oh, yes. We couldn't go out. You were not allowed to leave home, see. That's why it was very sad.

SY: So you went to school -- oh, but you weren't going to school.

NS: No, no school, nothing. We're not allowed to leave home, but we were ready to go to camp.

SY: And that was after...

NS: Pearl Harbor.

SY: But for a while you went to school and then you stopped?

NS: No. After the notice came to us, we couldn't go. Besides, it was summertime, so there was summer school, anyway.

SY: So there was a period...

NS: Yeah, so that's when we got ready.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

SY: And do you remember when they told you where to report?

NS: Yes, it's the Gardena... there was a, where they had the train, train station, it was on the train station, Gardena had a train station. We'll meet over there, so we have to get on the train to go to camp. See, we had to go to a place called Tulare Assembly Center. Tulare Assembly Center.

SY: So they told you that you were going to Tulare.

NS: Yeah. Oh, yes.

SY: So you drove, did you drive to Gardena?

NS: No. Our teacher came after us. We didn't have no car anymore. I mean, we can't use the car anymore at that time.

SY: So who was your teacher?

NS: Mr. Crane, I told you he was a real good friend of ours, my brother's friend, my oldest brother's friend. He used to come over our place all the time, he used to eat our food all the time I told you? He's the one that helped us out. And then after that, my brother lost his address and everything, we couldn't get in touch with him. He had passed away and we didn't know it. So it was so sad. He was, nice family, he got married and had children. He was so good to us; he was happy with us.

SY: So were there other people like that that helped you, that helped you? Do you remember other nice...

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah. Lot of people that was like that. After all, we were real good people around there and we all got along real good. So I just... it was so sad. I still remember.

SY: What was the worst part for you during that period?

NS: Well, to be apart with those people that came to say goodbye to us.

SY: At the Gardena bus station?

NS: Yeah, uh-huh. It was so sad. It was so sad that... not just me crying, everybody else crying away. [Laughs] So it was okay.

SY: So there were other families, too?

NS: Oh, yeah, not just me. Mr. Crane was so good 'til the end. He was a teacher, but my brother's real friend, real chummy that went all over with him, you know. Used to go bike riding together and go mountain climbing or whatever, they're fishing together. Just like brother and sister. So it was sad.

SY: So once you got on the train, they took you to Tulare. Do you remember how long that would take?

NS: Oh, gosh. I thought we'll never get there. I tell you, it was so long. The train was so slow, I guess. And then it stopped on us one time. [Laughs] It didn't move or something, they had to fix it. I still remember that. And it was so hot. It was so hot I was just dying.

SY: Did they tell you, in that ride did they tell you to keep the blinds down?

NS: Yeah, oh definitely. It was all, what do you call? They had the black thing on there already, can't take it up, you can't put it up. So it was always blind anyway.

SY: And do you remember the guards, were there guards?

NS: Oh, back and front. And then they come through the center like this. But they didn't find nobody doing anything, they just behaved so well. I asked the man, you know, "Hey, you guys are good." We didn't fire anything, we just sat there and behaved. Well, somebody told me that some fresh guys were Japanese, real bad guys were on the other train and they had a fight or something. On our train it was good. Nobody fight.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

SY: And where... when you arrived at Tulare, what was that like?

NS: Well, we were all scared, what we're gonna do, where we're gonna do it and everything. So we were kind of excited and yet scared. All of us were scared and we were hungry. Because they only gave us sandwiches on the train and that was it.

SY: And the ride was, do you remember, roughly how long?

NS: Oh, gosh. Just seemed like we never get there. It took so, junky old train, and it was so old that it was just barely making it. It took us, I don't know... anyhow, it seemed like a whole day.

SY: But you didn't sleep overnight in the train? It was one... you got there...

NS: Yeah, yeah. Because from Dominguez to that area it wasn't... well, that was pretty far for us, though. About eight hour, I guess.

SY: And then when you got off at Tulare, did they...

NS: Well, they told us where to go. We had a number already, what barrack we had to go. Each family had their own place to go, so then we had to look for it. So then it took us time for that.

SY: And what was Tulare like when you first got there?

NS: Well, I was kind of excited to see. It was just nothing, it was just a barrack. Said, "God, we're gonna live here after all that?" You had a home after all, you had a bed and everything. Well, just had cot. Where we have to sleep was a cot. There's nothing on there, just a cot. And that day, they gave us one blanket each and that was it.

SY: What was the living arrangement for your family?

NS: That's what I mean, it was all one room.

SY: So you all got...

NS: All got into one room.

SY: One room, and there were nine?

NS: And if the family didn't have family, they have to share. Say that you and your husband, okay, you had to have another family come to your barrack and stay together.

SY: So there were eleven people then in your, in your room?

NS: Right, yes.

SY: And there were people on either side of you? Were there people on either side of you?

NS: Well, the barrack was pretty big, so say about this size. From that end to... so there's two, like us, we had four bed because of big family, they gave us four beds, so just imagine that. Because the barrack, because don't forget, the bathroom and everything is outside, the dining room is outside. It's not in the room, so that room was about that big. We had four beds.

SY: Four beds, but you must have had two rooms if there were so, because there were so many of you.

NS: No, it was in one.

SY: All in one room?

NS: Uh-huh. Like my sister, she only had a baby, her little baby and then her husband. So they only had a small place. They only could get into one place, small, see, up to here, half of this place and that's all. Because, don't forget, dining room and bathroom and everything outside. All we got was a place to sleep. There's no place like, say, bathroom was separate. So just the bedroom.

SY: And who did you sleep with?

NS: Well, I had to sleep with myself because I had a single bed. My mother slept with my sister.

SY: Sharing?

NS: They have to be together, they have to share, and my little brother. So Mama had three sleeping in one bed.

SY: So she shared the bed with your younger...

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And how old were they?

NS: My sister was not quite five, and my other brother, my second brother was about seven, I guess.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

SY: And then your father had...

NS: No, my father was taken. We didn't see my father for a long time.

SY: So when did that happen?

NS: Well, before the war, don't forget, some of these people was taken in to another camp. He was... I said why did they take him, and he said because he was, my brother was taking judo, and then all my family was going to Japanese school. And then all these committee that my father was in, Japanese committee, he was in Japanese what do you call, kenjinkai or whatever it was, I don't know. So my father was taken in. So I never saw Father right after the war.

SY: Do you remember the day that he was taken?

NS: Well, right after the war, yeah.

SY: No, I meant when they took him.

NS: Yeah, oh, they came after him, yeah. I saw him going, yes.

SY: And who came?

NS: Hakujin guys with a guard.

SY: So there were two guys?

NS: They took him and we didn't know where he went. Then finally, later on, they took him to Tujunga or someplace. So we went to see him after that. It was a guarded place; he was in a cage. He was in a cage-like place. So we say, "Hi, Papa," and we can't go inside, 'cause they won't let us inside.

SY: So it was a prison.

NS: Yeah, yeah. It was prison.

SY: And he was with other...

NS: Japanese, other Japanese, oh, yeah.

SY: Do you remember how many?

NS: Oh, yeah. Well, Papa's group was about maybe a hundred.

SY: And he was in his own little...

NS: Well, they just had one room together with everybody else.

SY: But it was, it had bars around?

NS: Oh, yes. This place was, the bar was high. So we can't, we can't even shake hands, we just say, "Hi, Papa," and that was it.

SY: And your whole family went to see him?

NS: Oh, yeah, we went to see him.

SY: And so you knew that he was, that's where they took him.

NS: Yeah, they took him. We found out where he was, so we went there.

SY: So he was not even involved in...

NS: Well, like I say, he was in Japanese community thing, and we went to Japanese school. That's what it was also. And like I said, he was taking charge of the Japanese Nihongakko, parents thing and things like that. And then my brother used to take judo and kendo and all that.

SY: But when your father was taken, then he couldn't help your family move and pack up everything, right? So he was not involved in packing up and getting ready to go to camp. So was it your oldest brother...

NS: Well, it wasn't much of a deal. We didn't have that much... we could only take clothes, don't forget, we couldn't take any furniture. Just clothes only. It wasn't hard, we just have to buy the suitcase and pack the clothes.

SY: So how did your mother get along without him?

NS: Oh, yeah, she was sad. She was worried. She got sick, she wasn't eating, and I said, "Mama, shimpai shinasai, Papa's okay." So she was worried about my father.

SY: And the only word you got was that he was in Tujunga?

NS: Yeah. That's when my mother got sort of better because they thought they're gonna kill him or something. She had no idea.

SY: No idea.

NS: Well, I didn't know either. They didn't tell us anything. I mean, it has been happening, being killed and everything.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

SY: And then when you went to camp, when did you hear where he went after Tujunga? Did you hear anything about after...

NS: Oh. Well, they were still there when we went to camp, and then they released them. The government released all the people that was in camp. They released them to go to the family, so then he came to the camp.

SY: And you remember how long that was after you got there?

NS: About a month or so.

SY: So he then came. Do you remember him arriving at camp?

NS: Yes, oh, yes. Not just my father, all the people that came, too. So we went after him at the station. So my brother went there.

SY: Did he ever talk about how he was treated?

NS: Oh, no. He was talking to Mom about it, not too much.

SY: You didn't know.

NS: I guess they were told not to say anything or whatever, I guess.

SY: But he seemed fine?

NS: Oh, yeah. He was happy that we were there, I mean, we got together. He got so thin, he got sick, you know.

SY: While he was in Tujunga?

NS: Yeah.

SY: So he lost weight.

NS: Lot of weight, but he was okay.

SY: But he didn't say that he... I mean...

NS: Well, he said they were treated mean. Not mean, but they didn't treat him properly. Sometimes they won't give him food, or sometimes they just won't pay attention to them or anything. And they found that Nihonjin people had, Japanese used to say gaman, you know. You can take it, in other words, what they did to them. So they behaved, and none of 'em tried to fight or anything like that. So I guess they let them go.


SY: So you think it had to do with them all being farmers?

NS: Well, being Japanese, and being concerned, like my father was in the Japanese community thing. He was very active, always took part in it, so this is why. His name was on... I think there was, they call it, afterward my father said they call it inu. I don't know how you would explain it, like a person telling...

SY: Someone who's...

NS: What would you say? Like Japanese, you say inu, because they're the ones that telling other people, to the people, said, "That man is doing this and this and that." So my father was so mad. He wanted to find out who it was because how would they know? How would those hakujin people know what my father was doing?

SY: So was he... but did he, we he upset enough that he would talk about it with other people, the whole...

NS: Oh, yeah, afterward. Oh, yes. Then when they get together and say, "Inu ga konna koto shita," and they want to find out, and they'll say, "Koroshite aru," he'll say, "kyoshite aru." [Laughs] He's telling, Papa and Mama say, "Sonna koto iwanai no."

SY: What does that mean?

NS: Well, he wants to kill this person that reported for my father to go in camp. How otherwise they would know that my father did all those things?

SY: So he was kind of...

NS: Upset.

SY: But he was kind of vocal about it. He was not someone who just sat back and said everything is okay.

NS: Oh, no. He said, "Inu ga otta kara," or something, Japanese people... he said if he found out, he's gonna kill him, he says. [Laughs] Mama said, "Sonna koto iwanai no." My mother was so... my father was so mad.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SY: So before the war, were your parents active in church?

NS: Yes, and Japanese school. All of us went to Japanese school. He was... take care of the parents, parents association, he was in one of those, he was head of it.

SY: Oh, he was head of this Japanese parents association.

NS: Well, they have to have head so they could have all these different things going on in Japanese school.

SY: And what church, what was the church then?

NS: Well, the Buddhist church was in Gardena. Well, he wasn't too active there, but still, his name was in there to be in the, as the parents. He wasn't too active with the Buddhist church, but he was with the Japanese school, he was very active, taking part in parents association.

SY: And where was the Japanese school?

NS: In Gardena.

SY: So it was the same...

NS: Yeah, same area.

SY: And how often did you go to Japanese school?

NS: We go every Saturday, 'cause we had to go to American school, so my father was, it was too much to go every day.

SY: So your whole, all your sisters and brothers --

NS: All my sisters and my brothers all went to Japanese school on Saturday only.

SY: Not the younger ones, but the ones that were...

NS: Yeah, yeah.

SY: Do you remember when you started Japanese school?

NS: Well, I was in fifth grade, I guess. Well, actually we started Book One, so first grade, I guess you would say first grade, but I was older when I started.

SY: And the Buddhist church, did you go to church every Sunday?

NS: Yes, I was a member of the Buddhist church and I was in the women's society. I was very active with the Buddhist church.

SY: And that was a very...

NS: Gardena?

SY: In Gardena, so there was a large Japanese community.

NS: I guess so. I never went back there after the war, so I wouldn't know what they're doing now. I was very active then.

SY: But at the time it was pretty --

NS: Do you remember Sakaye Inouye, have you heard of her? She's very active; you see her in the newspaper, in Japanese newspaper all the time. Aratani, you don't know them?

SY: The Aratanis?

NS: Yeah, she's married to George Aratani. She was my old girlfriend. And she was very active with...

SY: Gardena.

NS: Gardena.

SY: The Buddhist church there.

NS: Yeah.

SY: So there were quite a few Japanese.

NS: Oh, yes.

SY: And in included all the people from Dominguez.

NS: Dominguez, Compton, and just all over. They had quite a few people there. Of course, not everybody went to Japanese school, but most of us all did.

SY: So the same people who went to Japanese school went to the Buddhist church?

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And was there a Christian church?

NS: Yes, oh, yes. My sister was a Christian church, my oldest sister. She's the only one in my family that was Christian.

SY: And what church was that, in Gardena?

NS: Baptist church, yeah, in Gardena. That's a big Baptist church now in Gardena. Real nice, rebuilt that here. I should tell 'em my sister was there before the war.

SY: So there were the two churches then that most Japanese families went to.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And your father would go to church?

NS: My father was a Buddhist.

SY: So he would go to Buddhist church.

NS: Yeah.

SY: With you?

NS: Uh-huh. And they used to have some kind of get-together during the wartime. What did they have, those things that they... they have some kind of religious thing, and they used to do it at home. Home religion, some kind of home religion. Do you remember anything? My father used to go to that, and I just wondered, I don't remember the name of it. He used to walk and go to my friend's house.

SY: So it was really, and he was involved in the kenjinkai, too.

NS: Yes, Fukuoka Kenjinkai. He was in that. So that's why they have names all over, so that's why my father was taken. That's what they told me, they told them.

SY: But the people that farmed in Dominguez Hills, these families that farmed there, it sounds like quite a few of them were taken.

NS: Oh, yes.

SY: So do you think there was something special about being in Dominguez Hills?

NS: Not exactly. I think it was easy for them to get hold of them, I think. Quite a few people were taken no matter where, in Gardena, 'cause my father knew some of the people that was in Gardena. And when they went to camp, I said, "Oh, omae wa tsureta na," start talking about them. He told my mother, "So and so was there, too."

SY: So you did know quite a few people.

NS: Oh, yeah.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SY: And so when your mother was reunited with your father, do you remember her...

NS: Oh, yeah. Well, it was, I guess... well, Papa and Mama was happy, but being treated okay, she wasn't so sad. Before she just couldn't even eat because she thought that they were treating my father mean. They heard about it, see, that's why. But I said, "No, no, sonna koto nai, Mama." So she was okay.

SY: So when you got to camp, it was your mother and all your brothers and sisters?

NS: Except my oldest one, he was in, he was in Chicago during the wartime. My oldest brother was in Chicago. And then he got a government job after that, so he went to Washington, D.C. He was a scientist, see, so they wanted something like that, kind of job, so he got the job.

SY: So he had left.

NS: He just left. So we didn't see him at all during the wartime. He was in Washington.

SY: I mean, being Japanese, that didn't prevent him from getting a job?

NS: I guess not. They took him. I don't know how he got it, got a good job.

SY: Was it with the government?

NS: Yeah, yeah. Maybe they wanted to get something out of him, I don't know. That I don't know. But he spoke Japanese and English. But I don't think my brother didn't know anything about government thing anyway.

SY: And you don't remember the name of the place he worked in Washington?

NS: No, because they wouldn't let you know. He couldn't... he wouldn't even write to us.

SY: You didn't correspond with him at all during the war?

NS: Yeah, after everything was released, then we got it, but not during the time that he was in there.

SY: So you didn't know what happened to him?

NS: Yeah, Mama was worried about him. Then after he got the note, I mean, letter saying that he's fine, then Mama got it, she was happy. All that time he was in Washington, but he had a good job. I guess he was about the only Japanese working at that time.

SY: So he... it was then your oldest sister and your older brother and you that were in camp with your mom, and then the younger kids were there, too.

NS: Oh, yeah. See, and then after third year, my brother, three of my brothers, Harry, Jimmy and Bob had to go in the army. They took him in the army from camp, mind you. Isn't that something? Japanese being in the camp. And Papa was so mad: "Nani ka." Said, no, otherwise they'll go in jail if they don't

SY: So they didn't volunteer, they were drafted.

NS: They were drafted.

SY: All three of them. At the same time?

NS: Yeah, in camp, from camp.

SY: And they... so they were all at the same time taken in as soon as they opened the draft, then?

NS: Yeah, my three brothers went.

SY: And what happened to them?

NS: They went in the army and they went overseas. But they didn't go with 442, though. They were not in 442 because they were separated.

SY: So where did they end up?

NS: In Minneapolis.

SY: Oh, so they went to the MIS, Military Intelligence?

NS: Yeah.

SY: So they were in there trained to be interpreting service.

NS: That was later on, though, much later, though. Practically time he was gonna come out already. And during the other time, they were in different camps.

SY: So they went, like, through basic training.

NS: Yes, yes, that's what I mean.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

SY: So then... okay, so when you first arrived in camp, what was the first thing you did? Did you end up getting a job?

NS: No, I worked in the mess hall right away as a diet tech.

SY: How did you get that job?

NS: Because one of my girlfriends was a dietitian. She was a real dietician, she went to college for it. And then she wanted a helper, in other words, she can't do everything herself, making menu and then getting diets for people, special people. So she wanted me to help, so I became a diet tech.

SY: So what exactly was that...

NS: Well, not much. You just have to help make food, cook certain things for certain... say that you can't have sugar. You're taking care as a diet person, so say that we have to make you a special lunch or a special food. We have to cook it for you.

SY: So you actually cooked?

NS: Yeah.

SY: Did you cook in the mess hall?

NS: Yeah, we have to. There's no other place.

SY: And you brought it to people?

NS: No, no, no. This person comes to the mess hall. Like the camp, you went to the mess hall to eat? Well, that's what they did. They came into the mess hall to eat.

SY: So you got a list of people with your special...

NS: Yes, I had about sixteen people.

SY: And then you cooked something special...

NS: Yes. I had about sixteen people.

SY: And then you cooked something special?

NS: Special. But then the cooks will help, so it was not bad. The cooks over there, they make the bulk amount for everybody, then... I mean, I take the food out of their food and then make it special. Take the sugar out... I mean, don't put sugar in or salt, or no oil or whatever. Special diet was that, that's the only thing, and no spices or whatever. Depends on the patient's diet.

SY: So you did that at every meal?

NS: Three, yeah, breakfast, lunch and dinner. But then you make ahead of time so it's not so bad. Your diet is made ahead of time, day ahead of time. So then by the time the patient comes, then the tray's already made. Because I have the diet already. Unless a new person come in, then they have to wait for it. You know what I'm saying?

SY: And you were trained by just this friend of yours.

NS: Yeah. It took me six months to learn because I have to know, I can't give the wrong thing, so I have to know what to give.

SY: So how did she teach you?

NS: Well, she had a book and then I had to read through all this book. It wasn't hard. It took me six months; it wasn't that hard.

SY: So that was, but you had no experience before that.

NS: Yes, I did. I went to school, I was at school, and I used to help at the diet office. So I kind of... I wasn't not a diet, I was working, helping at the... so in a sense I kind of got used to it, seeing the tray and everything, looking at the tray. I said, "Oh, that kind of food, that looks lousy." [Laughs] So anyway...

SY: So you had a little bit of knowledge.

NS: Yeah, at junior high school, I mean, high school, rather. I had a job and I got paid sixteen dollar a month.

SY: In camp?

NS: No, in school, at school.

SY: At school you got paid --

NS: Oh, yeah, don't you remember? They had what they call NRN... no, what was it? The kids had a job and they got paid sixteen dollar a month. You don't remember?

SY: It was like a student program?

NS: Yeah, yeah, something like that. I forgot what it was.

SY: So that was what you did...

NS: Yeah, during the time I was going school.

SY: When you were in high school?

NS: Well, somebody asked me, that's why, and I said, okay, I'll do it.

SY: So that was like a side money as you were going to school.

NS: Yeah. And the school paid, the school paid, every month they gave me sixteen dollars. Boy, sixteen dollars went far that time. Buy myself, weekend I'd go someplace to buy something. I was happy. [Laughs] My father wouldn't give me any money, so...

SY: That's great. And then it was like government check that they gave you?

NS: Oh, yeah, school. It's government.

SY: And then when the war happened, then you lost that job?

NS: Oh, yeah, because I had to go to camp, remember? I went to camp.

SY: Right. But before camp --

NS: But in camp I did almost the same thing. I did the same thing, I got extra job doing that.

SY: And so that was kind of like what you did, that was kind of your job.

NS: Yeah, so it wasn't hard.

SY: And how much did you get paid in camp?

NS: Fifteen dollar, same thing.

SY: Same thing.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

SY: And then what else, did you do other things while you were in camp?

NS: In camp? Yes. I took care of a baby. I don't know if you know or not, but I took care of this principal's baby. He was the principal and the mother had to go, the mother went to teach. So she was pregnant at that time and then she had the baby, and then she was looking for a Japanese girl to do babysitting. So somebody told them about me, so she asked me. And I said, "Oh, sure, I'll watch the baby." I had a lot of brother and sister that I took care of, babies, so I said, "I have experience," I told her. She wanted to know if I was experienced watching babies and I said, "Oh, yes." I took care of my baby sister. [Laughs]

SY: And who was the principal, what was his name?

NS: Mr. Richard... Richard was his first name.

SY: That was the baby's name, right, Richard?

NS: Yeah, uh-huh.

SY: And the principal was the --

NS: Well, his father's name was Richard, too. What was his last name? I can't think.

SY: I think it was Strickland.

NS: Yeah, Strickland, that's right. How do you know?

SY: You told me.

NS: Oh, that's right. See, I have the paper, that's why, that time.

SY: And what school was he the principal of?

NS: This was in camp.

SY: Right. Which school? Was it the grammar school or the high school?

NS: Oh, it was junior high school.

SY: Junior high school, so he was the principal.

NS: Yeah, he was principal. Well, he was principal for the whole school, camp, dakara. You only have one principal, you know.

SY: There was only one principal for all the schools?

NS: Yeah, because he took care of all the class. Although we had two camps, don't forget, one and two, so he was one camp no principal.

SY: Camp One.

NS: Camp One principal.

SY: And do you know how he ended up at the camp?

NS: Well, I really don't know. He had a job, that's, as a job. I guess looking for a job. He was a young man at that time, he just got married, and so there was a job that they wanted, hakujin, principal with knowledge of being a principal, and he asked for that job and he got it. And then he got married, and then Mrs. Richardson wanted me to... 'cause she got pregnant after that, and then I became the babysitter.

SY: And this all happened while they were in camp?

NS: Camp, yeah. And they were lucky because don't forget, they got to stay in the camp, too. They had separate place, naturally, they got their own place of their own. They had kitchen. So I was able to stay in there and babysit. I used to walk from my barrack, though. It was kind of far, but it was hot in Arizona, so I still remember that. I had umbrella, carried umbrella and walked over there every day.

SY: So how did their place compare with where you were living, in the barracks?

NS: Oh, it was nice. They had a separate bedroom, living room and kitchen, place to cook. It's like a house; it's like an apartment.

SY: But it was still, from the outside, did it look like a barrack?

NS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

SY: But they just had better inside.

NS: Oh, yeah. Separate thing, like I say, the kitchen. Like in the camp, we didn't have kitchen. We just had one bedroom and that's it.

SY: And it was far from where you were.

NS: Yeah. Because all the people that worked, hakujin people that worked in camp had their own place way on the end of the camp, so I had to walk. And then the hospital was on this side.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

SY: And how many hours a day did you do this?

NS: All day, eight hours. She was there eight hour.

SY: So you would walk there in the morning and come back at night?

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And how did they treat you?

NS: Oh, nice, they were nice. They were happy that I was taking care of the baby. Every time the baby, every time I have to go home, the baby would cry 'cause I'm going home. They would say, "No, you cannot go, Honey. She'll be back again." And baby would cry and cry and cry. Little Richard would cry and cry. "Bye, bye," he would cry and he won't say goodbye to me. I remember that. [Laughs]

SY: So you never went to school...

NS: After that.

SY: In camp?

NS: No. I was graduated high school.

SY: So you didn't know him as a principal.

NS: No, no.

SY: But he was --

NS: He taught the Japanese kids.

SY: And did other people like him?

NS: Oh, yeah, he was nice to the kids.

SY: He was a popular principal?

NS: Oh, yeah, he was real popular.

SY: And so he paid you separately for this?

NS: Oh, yeah. I forgot how much it was, not much. I forgot.

SY: You got paid, so you were getting paid in the mess hall as the diet tech, or did you --

NS: Oh, in the mess hall? That was diet tech, yes. I got fifteen dollar, I told you.

SY: So then did you, were you still working as a diet tech when you babysat?

NS: No, no, I was a babysitter. They paid me. I mean, their own money, the ones that babysit. I think it was ten dollar a week or something like that, I forgot.

SY: So you left the other job as a diet tech.

NS: Yeah, yeah. I mean, they didn't need it and they wanted babysitter.

SY: So you took that on instead.

NS: Yeah, yeah.

SY: And that was, did you like that better?

NS: Oh, yeah, it's easy. Easy job to watch the baby.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

SY: So were there a lot of people in camp that were the same age as you?

NS: Oh, yeah. I mean, family, it depended on the family, what family went in camp.

SY: So did you make a lot of friends in camp?

NS: Oh, yeah, lots of friends. I missed them. Of course, I don't know them now. [Laughs]

SY: Now how did people get together that were about your age? What would you do...

NS: Oh, we used to have fun. We used to go out and... we had to have picnic sometime, we'd go to movie sometime, we had all kind of activity in camp. Too bad you didn't go in. We had lot of activity, we had dancing... we had dancing, we had parties, we had, gosh, what else did we have? Movie was every night. You got tired of going, though, 'cause you see every night.

SY: So once you got settled in camp, once you got settled, then you had a... then it got better?

NS: Oh, yes. Get to meet friends. All my friends went someplace else, so I have to start brand new.

SY: So you didn't know really very many people when you got there.

NS: No. But I got friendly with everybody. And then we went to... nighttime we always had movies, so in the barrack, I mean, our camp they call it "boot," it's a hill, and they have the movie thing set up. And so we could see from the, where we were sitting, the movie place is down, so we're sitting high. So you could see real good. We used to have, we used to have fun doing that, and climbing up and down.

SY: So there were, did you end up being around people that were the same age as you?

NS: Oh, yes. Oh, there's lots of people. I mean, some people were going school, see, some of 'em are going school yet. The ones that my age, there were quite a few. There were quite a few in camp. I was surprised. They all graduated about the same time.

SY: And all your friends were working, too?

NS: Well, they got some kind of job, yes. They didn't want to do nothing. If they didn't, they went and helped in the mess hall, clean up. Like my mother used to go help. And then she got, later on, she got fifteen dollar too for washing the dishes and setting the table and things like that. So they were happy. Next door neighbor, Mrs. Sato, she went and picked up my mother every morning and she used to go work.

SY: So because you didn't go to school in camp, then you have a lot more free time.

NS: Oh, yes. That's why I had this kind of job that I did, odd jobs. Taking care of the baby and everything.

SY: And so that took up a lot of your time.

NS: Oh, yeah, every day. That school was on every day except for weekends.

SY: And did you have to help take care of your family, too?

NS: No, no. My baby sister was five and Mama was there, so I didn't have to take care of her.

SY: So in general, how would you describe your experience in camp?

NS: Well, it was very boring because you can't do everything what you want. But like I was lucky that this lady that helped take care of the baby took us, took me outside of the camp to go shopping. We were in Arizona, so she'd take me down in the town, what do they call that town? Arizona.

SY: It was the close town?

NS: Yeah, I forgot the name of the place, closest town. They were big town. I mean, for the country it was a big town.

SY: And she would drive you outside of --

NS: Yeah, she would drive me and I'd watch the baby at the same time.

SY: She would go shopping?

NS: Oh, yeah, I got to go out. I had to get a permission.

SY: And do you remember how people treated you when you went out?

NS: Oh, yeah, they were nice. They were real nice. They thought I was Mrs. Strickland's daughter or something 'cause I was holding the baby all the time. [Laughs]

SY: So you never got any kind of racial...

NS: No. I never had that experience at all.

SY: During camp?

NS: During the camp, no.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

SY: And do you remember exactly how long you were in camp?

NS: Well, like I said, not more than two years because I went out to Chicago. My brother wanted me to come out. I was going to go to college at that time, then I went out and I got a job right away. So then I missed out going to college.

SY: Were you planning on going to college before --

NS: At that time, yes. Well, I just graduated high school, remember? I told you that summer I graduated high school.

SY: So before camp, were you thinking about going to college?

NS: Yeah, I wanted to go, yes.

SY: So then you ended up going to camp.

NS: Yeah. And then I said, oh... I mean, once you stay away from school, it's so hard to go back. So I said, "Oh, I don't want to go." Instead, I worked and made money. I was making money so I was happy. [Laughs]

SY: And how is it that you decided... what was it, what made you decide to go to Chicago?

NS: Because my brother was there already. He didn't go in camp, he was going school over there in Chicago. He was in University of Chicago, my oldest brother. And so he called me. I mean, he wrote a letter telling me to come.

SY: Now is this the older brother --

NS: My oldest brother Harold.

SY: So this is not the brother who ended up in Washington?

NS: No, he's the one. He was going to school to become a scientist, remember I told you? He did and he graduated, and so he got a job in Washington later on. That was later on, now. Yeah, he got a good job in Washington.

SY: And so he just asked you of the whole family to go to Chicago?

NS: No, my other brothers went, too, but they had a job elsewhere. I mean, he went to join my brother, too, in Chicago.

SY: In Chicago. So then it was your...

NS: Second brother.

SY: Your second brother was there and then you left...

NS: And later on, my two other brothers came, but they didn't like Chicago so they came back to camp. And then they stayed in camp until the camp ended, and then went back to West L.A. where my oldest brother bought the house for them.

SY: So how did your parents feel when you decided to leave camp?

NS: Well, she was kind of scared that I shouldn't go, being a woman, young girl. I was only eighteen. So she kind of worried about it. But I said, "Shinpai nai, Mama." Then I wrote to her and I called her up. They had a telephone, so I told her to go to a certain place at a certain time to go so I could talk to her. So then she was okay. She was kind of worried, but she was all right. I was sending, giving her money, so she was happy. [Laughs] I was making money.

SY: And your brother... your parents weren't able to leave camp at that time?

NS: No, nobody could. Not 'til the government said okay. Then the notice came and said anybody that wants to leave camp may go, and that's when the notice came. That's when my brother went out.

SY: So you were able to go before that point?

NS: Yes, because I had a place to go. I had to get a permission, though. You had to go into the office and ask for permission, and then they had to get my brother's address. It was such a hectic thing for a while, but it was okay. It wasn't too bad.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

SY: And how did you get from Gila River to Chicago?

NS: On the train. See, from Gila I went to train in town, there's a train that goes to Chicago. Oh, my gosh, how many days it took me. I was so tired.

SY: And how was that train ride?

NS: It was rough. It was old, junky... it's during the wartime. The train was old, junky.

SY: And you traveled all by yourself?

NS: Oh, yeah.

SY: Alone?

NS: Alone.

SY: And you got no...

NS: Well, there was hakujin guys, and there were kind of, some of them were asking, "You want a date?" or something like that, and I didn't pay attention or anything like that. I was a young girl at that time, so after all, some desperate guys come around and say, "You want a date?" I didn't pay attention, I just looked this way and didn't pay attention. They went away. [Laughs]

SY: But they didn't think it was strange --

NS: I was kind of scared, though. I thought they would do something to me. I didn't pay attention.

SY: And then when you arrived in Chicago, your brother...

NS: My brother came after me, so I was happy.

SY: So what was it like...

NS: Well, he had an apartment in south side, but it was two bedrooms. One was, he was staying with my other brother, and then on this side, the kitchen side, there was a place where they had a bed. So I used that as a bedroom. So, you know, I had to go to bed at nighttime and everybody's sleeping anyway, they go to bed early, they have work, so they had to go to bed early anyway. And then the shower room was separate anyway. So it worked out fine.

SY: So it was the three of you in this apartment?

NS: Yeah.

SY: And were there a lot of Japanese in the area?

NS: Oh, yeah. I was surprised, I met so many nice people at the apartment. Yeah. They were sad for me to leave because we got acquainted so well. We used to go out together and stuff. My girlfriends, "Oh, you're going to leave? How come you're gonna leave?" I said, "Oh, my mother wanted me to come back, so I'm gonna go back." So I met them and I still kind of write to each other, yeah.

SY: So how is it that all these other Japanese, did they all leave camp and move to Chicago?

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah. Most of 'em left, oh, yes. There was, when I left, there was a whole bus full of Japanese.

SY: And so they, all the people you met, they had been in camp?

NS: Yes. Oh, yes.

SY: They weren't people --

NS: But they get a job different places. They lived far, and then you kind of lose contact. So all my friends sort of, I got, lost contact with them.

SY: But they were there when you got there.

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah. We went together.

SY: Oh, some of them came at the same time?

NS: Yeah. For a while we used to get together and everything, but then I said, they got married, some got married and then went away. Even now, I don't know where they are.

SY: So you had actual friends from Gila that ended up in Chicago?

NS: Oh, yes.

SY: So was there a hard time finding work there?

NS: Well, at first, my girlfriend called me up, she gave me the phone number where she was staying, said, "You know what, Nancy? I got a job." I said, "Oh, how wonderful." Then the following day I went out to look for a job and I got a job, too, in this place where they make pattern, company. And they wanted a secretary, so I worked as a secretary there. It wasn't much of a pay, but I started working there, and start giving me raise, so it was nice.

SY: Did your friends or... it wasn't hard finding a job?

NS: No, there's always a job. There's some kind of job, always. If you look for a job there's always a job.

SY: And there wasn't any problem because you were Japanese?

NS: No, no. They don't care. And said, right away, they said, "You want to start tomorrow?" "Tomorrow?" I said. I wasn't ready to work tomorrow. [Laughs] But they were nice people. Chicago, they didn't have no prejudice at all. Even on the train, store, no matter where you went, they all really welcomed you.

SY: So you were well-treated, then.

NS: Yeah. I was really happy. I was surprised. You know, when you read, sometimes you read things, somebody got treated bad, you kind of get afraid to go out of town. Not one time. Not once. All the time, three years that I stayed in Chicago, not once. They were all so nice to you.

SY: So did you want to stay there?

NS: Yeah, but then my mother wanted me to come back. She didn't want me to stay too long. She'd keep writing to me to come back. She was getting lonely, too, you know.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

SY: By this time, after you left for Chicago, then shortly after, your parents went back to Los Angeles?

NS: Yes, went West L.A. Because my brother bought the house for them, remember I told you?

SY: So they had the, so they were able to... so you were in Chicago when they went back to Los Angeles, when they moved back?

NS: Oh, yeah, yeah, right. I was still in Chicago, yes. So then I came back to my mother's house in West L.A. My brother bought the house for them.

SY: So do you know how they managed to leave camp?

NS: Oh, well, like I said, they were able to, the government said you can go out, remember I told you? And then my brother said, okay, he took care of my parents.

SY: But had your brother been there already? He had already left camp and so he was already on the West Coast?

NS: My brother never went in camp. He was in Chicago, I told you.

SY: Oh, so he --

NS: He's the one that bought the house for my mother and father.

SY: Oh, so he left Chicago, went back to Los Angeles, bought the house, and then they moved in --

NS: Yeah. He had a job. He's a scientist, so he can't leave the job, so he just came back just to buy the house for Mom and Pop.

SY: And that was where in Los Angeles?

NS: West L.A. We still live there. I mean, none of us lives there, I'm sorry, but we lived there 'til all this time, and Mama and Papa died. I don't know who's living there, they sold the house.

SY: Now, at the time, then, your father, did he want to go back into farming after the war?

NS: No, my father was getting too old. No, he was happy that he was... and then my brother kind of took care of them, so he didn't have to work. After all, they were in their late '80s, so too old.

SY: When you got out of camp again. And did they go back to their house in Dominguez?

NS: No, no, there's no house in Dominguez Hills, no, no.

SY: But you said everything was gone.

NS: Oh, remember when I told you we went to just see it? Because we had left the house. My father built the house in Dominguez Hills, that was our house because he built it. But then when we left, it was gone. It was all torn down. Not a thing left in there.

SY: Completely gone.

NS: It was completely gone and so we were so shocked. We thought we could go back there. So that was it. Nobody told us that it was gone.

SY: So when they got to West L.A...

NS: Well, then my brother was in Chicago, the one that was in Chicago, I don't know why he went to West L.A., but he heard that there were some Japanese coming back to West L.A., he heard. So then he came to West L.A. to buy a house for Mom and Pop. And then the house that they moved into, it was open at that time. And so my brother bought that house. So then he just put a down payment on it and he started paying and then I took over and made the payment on the house. It wasn't much, eight thousand dollar for the house. Eight thousand dollar in those days. Yeah. It was a three bedroom house, it's a big house. I was shocked. Eight thousand, my brother only paid eight thousand.

SY: And the area that the house was in in West L.A, was it in that area where lots of Japanese American families were living?

NS: Yes, yes. Right now it's nothing but Japanese. They have Japanese school there, Buddhist church there, Christian church. My Methodist church is there, everything is there.

SY: How did that... was that area there before the war, too? Do you know if it was there?

NS: According to my sister-in-law, there wasn't that much, but they did have church there, small church there.

SY: Small church.

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: And do you know why people decided to pick this area?

NS: Well, like I said, in Dominguez Hills... I mean, when you say there's Japanese there, Japanese will start moving in. That's how it started, in West L.A., too, there isn't that many Japanese there. But then they slowly start moving in, and then before you know it, there's a whole town of Japanese. Right now, too. During the wartime, nobody was there. But now, it's nothing but. They have Japanese school now, I mean, everything now. Japanese store, everything. Store, restaurant. West L.A. is big now. [Laughs]

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

SY: But now, when you came back to the war and you settled in this West L.A. area...

NS: Yes. Well, like I said, I didn't know West L.A. at all because I was from Dominguez Hills, because of my brother buying the home in West L.A. Then I found all these Japanese ladies and friends I made that was so nice. Oh, I'll stay here. [Laughs]

SY: It was quite a distance, though, from Little Tokyo.

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Definitely. Well, even from Dominguez Hills it was always far. It took two hours to get there.

SY: Two hours from Dominguez Hills to...

NS: Well, my father driving, yes. It took more than two hours. [Laughs]

SY: To get from there to downtown.

NS: Yeah.

SY: So Dominguez Hills at the time was a two hour drive going to the market every day?

NS: Oh, yeah.

SY: And then from West L.A. it was probably...

NS: Yeah. Well, see, Papa didn't do any more farming after the war. But he always talked about how he went to market every day, how he said he still doesn't want... he said, well, that's because he was young, yet. Said he can never do it now. "Of course not, Papa," I told him.

SY: But at the time he would do it every day?

NS: Yeah. Oh, he used to drive fast or something. He even got a ticket one time.

SY: Before the war?

NS: Yeah. He said he went too fast or something. Papa driving fast, I didn't realize that. He was a slow driver. [Laughs]

SY: So when did you end up coming back to L.A.? Do you remember the year you ended up?

NS: Well, right after the... no, 'cause I was in Chicago I told you, remember?

SY: Right. But when did you finally come back?

NS: I stayed in Chicago three, almost four years. Almost four, not quite four years. So when my brother bought the house in West L.A., that's when I came back, after four years in Chicago.

SY: So it was the late '40s.

NS: Yeah, yeah.

SY: Not quite 1950.

NS: No, no. War ended when?

SY: It was probably '44, '45?

NS: Yeah, something like that. So it must have been close to '50, I guess.

SY: You were in, 'cause you were in Chicago quite a long time.

NS: Yeah, for almost six... no, let's see. About that time. Four to five -- well, five year maybe. Not six year I don't think.

SY: So by the time you got back here, your parents were already settled.

NS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. As soon as... the year after I got back here, my father passed away. So he wasn't well. And then so many years after that, Mama passed away. So that house was empty. And nobody wanted to live there, 'cause most of my brothers all bought their own house.

SY: So everybody by this time, almost at the time you moved back, was on their own.

NS: On their own, yes. They're on their own. They got married and have children, too, you know.

SY: And so how long did you, did you actually live with your parents for a while?

NS: Just a little while, because I was already married, getting married. I mean, I was married now at that time. I was in Chicago at that time, too. I went back to Chicago after I got married.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

SY: So when did you meet your husband?

NS: In West L.A.

SY: In West L.A. So when you came back...

NS: Yeah, West L.A., uh-huh. I had... his sister was coming to our church, and that's when I ran into her, she told me to come on over to her house one say. And then she said, "My brother's coming," she said, and "I want you to meet him." I said, "Oh, yeah? I didn't know you have a brother." And she said, "Yeah, I have a brother, and he's single," she said, trying to match me with her brother. So I said, "Oh, okay, I'll meet him." And then that day I went to her house, she told me to come over. And so then I met my husband, future husband at that... I didn't know him then.

SY: And what was his name?

NS: Shotaro Shimotsu. Sho, they used to call him just Sho.

SY: And where did he spend the war years?

NS: He was in the army. He was in the army, yes. He was taken before the war. So all that time he was in the army.

SY: So he joined the army before the war?

NS: Before the war, yeah. He was taken. He was lucky 'cause he didn't go in the battle. He was always inside.

SY: So he was in, he stayed in the United States.

NS: Yeah, yeah. And then remember they were taking Japanese to be in the 442nd? Well, he didn't join that one. He was already in the other one, MI something. What was that?


NS: Huh? MIS? Yeah, yeah. He was in that one.

SY: But he stayed in this country, he didn't go overseas at all.

NS: No. He didn't get to go. He was working in the office all the time, see, that's why. He was an office worker all the time.

SY: So he volunteered, then, before the war? He volunteered to go?

NS: I guess so. He never did say anything about that. But I think he, that's why he was in, I think.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

SY: So do you remember during camp when they gave, everybody had to sign that "loyalty oath"? You know, the questionnaire, the "loyalty questionnaire"?

NS: Oh, yeah, yeah.

SY: Do you remember that coming up and you having to fill it out?

NS: Uh-huh. I think I did, but gee, it's been so long ago I kind of forgot what I wrote. [Laughs]

SY: So it wasn't, like, controversial.

NS: No, no.

SY: Everybody just filled it out and turned it in?

NS: Filled it out. We didn't turn anything back because we're in America. We want to stay in America. We didn't want, anything about America. That's why my brother told me not to do any kind of word that you don't want America. Because otherwise they'll send you someplace else, so my brother told me not to, my oldest brother.

SY: And how about your parents? Your father, he was fine with that?

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah. They wanted to stay. They didn't want to go to Japan. Good thing. Good thing that we didn't go, you know why? My brother-in-law went, he starved. When he went to Japan, they wouldn't give him food. Japan was so poor, and then the parents told him, "Nani shinikita ka," that means, "What did you come out here for? Why didn't you stay in America?" And he was so sad. He just came back to America right away.

SY: So he was able to come back?

NS: Yeah.

SY: So he didn't get --

NS: He was American citizen.

SY: He just chose to go to Japan.

NS: Yeah, because he was a Kibei, like. He was sort of raised in Japan for a while. Not all the time, 'cause he was in America most of the time, but he was raised as a Japanese, so that's why.

SY: So he wanted to but then he changed his mind and came back?

NS: So he wanted to come back. He knows American life. In Japan, they didn't have anything to eat.

SY: And so your parents...

NS: It's a good thing, it's a good thing that he himself went and my sister didn't go. He was married to my sister, and she had a little girl, and she was a baby yet at that time. That's why she didn't go, because she wanted to wait to see how he was gonna be. I told her, when I went to camp, I came back from Chicago, I went to her camp right away, not to go, because she was gonna go to Japan and I want her not to go. So that's why I came to see her in camp and I told her, "No, you're not going to Japan." Because Japan is so bad, they can't even find food to eat. And sure enough, she finally got a letter from her husband, and my sister sent the money for him to come back.

SY: So you kind of were in charge of your younger brothers and sisters.

NS: Yeah, oh, yeah.

SY: You kind of told them what to do.

NS: Because I knew what's going on. I was outside.

SY: And your sister, your younger sister was with her husband in another camp?

NS: Yeah. Don't you remember, Tule Lake? That's where all going to Japan, you don't remember?

SY: I do.

NS: Uh-huh. Well, okay. They were there.

SY: So he chose, and that's why he ended up in Japan.

NS: That's right, and he suffered. So he wrote to my sister he wants to come back to America.

SY: So they left from Gila River to go to Tule Lake, and then he went to Japan.

NS: Uh-huh. Well, he's a Kibei, he was a Kibei and he thought he could, he could get away with living in Japan or something, I guess. But when he went to Japan, it was just this... oh, it was so bad that he wanted to come home the next day.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

SY: So when you ended up back in Los Angeles, you met your husband at the church, you said, through your friend.

NS: Yeah. Actually, first time I met him with my sister-in-law at her house. But then I didn't see him, I didn't talk to him or anything like that. I just said, "Oh, hi," and that was it. And then I met him at church, and then I said, "Hey, how are you?" this and that. And he said, "You want to go out to movie?" And I don't even know him, I said. I said, "Well, okay, I can go out with you." So then I went out with him, it was nice, and he seemed to be a friendly guy. He wasn't working at the time, he didn't have a job, so he said he's looking for a job. He'd just come back from army, so he was looking for a job and wasn't working. So he said, "You want to go out to lunch?" and this and that and started coming over every day. "Urusai na," I said. [Laughs]

SY: Now, you switched then from being, going to the Buddhist church, when you got to West L.A. you went to Christian church.

NS: Yeah, uh-huh. That was because of my husband. My husband was a Christian. He was a West L.A. member.

SY: So you just decided...

NS: Uh-huh. Because I was not a member of the Buddhist church anyway. It was my, whatever I wanted to do. I'm old enough to know, and I was gonna get married, so it's up to me.

SY: And how was that changeover?

NS: Well, I really was not a real Christian, because I was not brought up as a Christian. I was a Buddhist, remember? So I was kind of scared. But I studied and I really got interested in it. I read some of the bibles, and the term was so much easier than Buddhist. Buddhist you had to read Japanese. So I didn't really learn... I mean, you know, the idea of being any kind of religion, you mind everything and it was okay. But when you read the Christian bible, it was really interesting. So then I said, oh, I think I'm going to become a Christian. Then when I married my husband, I said I want to be Baptized. So I went and I got Baptized.

SY: And that was when? Was it before you got married?

NS: I was going into thirties. I met him four years before, but I didn't have nothing to do at that time. Then when I decided to get married, I was already thirty or thirty-something.

SY: So you were not, most of your friends were probably already married.

NS: No, no. Because the wartime, see, don't forget, it's the wartime. So they were kind of reluctant. Where are they gonna stay and what are they gonna do? So most of my girlfriends were unmarried that time. Matter of fact, some are still not married. [Laughs]

SY: I didn't realize... it seems as if people got married younger back then.

NS: Well, that was before. That was my sister's time. My sister's time, everybody was getting, left and right they were getting married. My older sister.

SY: But during the war...

NS: During the war, nobody was getting married. They were scared. They don't know what to do, they don't know what they're gonna do, unless they really fall in love and they want to get married, that was different. They got away and got married.

SY: So it was very common, then, for people to get married right after, right?

NS: Yeah. 'Cause it used to cost a lot of money to get married, so people had object of that, too.

SY: And you got married in the Christian church?

NS: Yes, yes. No. You mean married? No, no. I got married in Koyasan Buddhist church, yes. But then I became Christian later. I was a Buddhist. Remember I told you I was a Buddhist? 'Til I got married.

SY: Oh, so even though your husband was Christian...

NS: Uh-huh. But then it didn't matter to him at that time. I guess he wanted to get married to me, so he got married at Koyasan. I got married in Koyasan.

SY: Downtown.

NS: Yeah. I think my father was kind of doing something with it, giving money there or member or something, my family was.

SY: And your parents were still living when you got married?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: And so they were able to meet your husband?

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

SY: And then at the time, were you working when you got, when you came back to Los Angeles?

NS: Oh, yes. Yeah, I was working at... I had several jobs, that's why. What was I doing that time? I forgot.

SY: So was it hard when you came to Los Angeles to find a job?

NS: No, no. I got a job right away doing... first job was. I had several jobs, that's why. First I went to office, the little factory, they had a factory. Oh, I know where. My mother, they had a factory near my mother's place, and I went in as a, they need a secretary, so I got a job there. I didn't work that long over there, 'cause I wanted to, I didn't want that kind of, that small job like that. It didn't pay that well, either. I want a better job. And then later on I went out to... some office I worked for a while, and then I worked a few years there. And then after I got married and then I went to Chicago I worked in an office there again. And then when I came back, then I worked someplace, where else? I think I was working in a factory for a while on Sawtelle Boulevard. They had a big factory. They said, the man said they want workers, so I worked for a while there. My mom wanted to work, too. It was making something, I forgot what it was. But I was in the office part, my mother was in the, putting some things together. I don't know what it was, I forgot now. It's not there anymore on Sawtelle Boulevard. And then I got married and got a job at UCLA, diet tech, and became a dietician.

SY: So the job as the diet tech, how did that come about?

NS: Because I had a girlfriend that was a dietician and she taught me what to do.

SY: In camp.

NS: No, this was in the office.

SY: Oh, later.

NS: Later after I got back from Chicago. And I met my girlfriend and she said, "Why don't you work in the kitchen with me as a diet tech?" I said, "I don't have that much experience." I did work in Chicago for while as a diet tech, but I didn't know too much about it then. I just read the book and everything. But she taught me what to do. It took me six months to be a real diet tech. So then I got a job at UCLA, worked twenty years over there.

SY: And so I think we got a little confused, because in camp you worked as a diet tech.

NS: Yeah. Because another friend, this Japanese girl was a dietician, and she wanted somebody to help her.

SY: So there was another friend --

NS: Yes, this was another girlfriend of mine.

SY: After the war you had a friend who was an actual dietician?

NS: Yeah, yeah.

SY: So there were two people who helped you to learn about...

NS: It's funny how I meet all these dieticians. I don't know why, but I guess something to do with the food all the time, I guess. [Laughs]

SY: So these were two separate people?

NS: Yes, yes. That's two separate people.

SY: And so she, the one here in L.A. was, that's where you actually ended up going to school.

NS: Yes. I took, in six months I took. But there's nothing to it, you know. Read the book... giving diets, you got to, everything has to be different. It depends on according to the patient, what you want, right? If you're a diabetic and if you're salt-free diet, sugar free diet, I mean, there's not that much. And if you have some kind of illness, you can't eat this, you can't eat that, you just take out on the menu that's already written, you just cross out all these different things that you can't have, and that's about it that you learn.

SY: And you sort of had some training?

NS: Yeah, yeah. I had an experience in working actually that way. So it was easy for me when I came back here.

SY: And cooking for your family...

NS: Yeah, and making food and stuff like that. Well, some of it, like Chicago, I had to cook, too. But most of the time it was only, lot of time for lunch like that, it was only sandwiches, just make sandwiches.

SY: And you always kept up the cooking no matter what?

NS: Yeah.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

SY: So you ended up working as a diet tech for twenty years then?

NS: Uh-huh. At UCLA.

SY: And was it something that ever got boring for you?

NS: No. Except every day, just same thing, and I have to... it was fun because I meet lot of people. I had to go into the sickroom and I'd talk to these people, too, you know. And then, "What would you like to have today?" and then a lot of people are interesting, those people in the hospital. So that was very, the twenty year went fast for me.

SY: And I remember you saying that you never took a day off?

NS: Never. Not one day I was sick.

SY: You've never been sick?

NS: Lucky. [Laughs] I don't know what cold is. I don't know what cold is, I never had a cold.

SY: Never in your whole life you don't remember ever having a cold?

NS: No, no.

SY: Is that something that ran in your family?

NS: Well, Mama was strong, very strong. She was never sick until she died. And she died quickly. We didn't know what's the matter with Mom. I think she kind of got old and just went fast. Heart attack, I guess, or something. Doctor didn't find out what's wrong with her.

SY: You never knew the cause?

NS: Never knew. Never knew why she died.

SY: And how about your dad?

NS: Because she had twelve kids, don't forget. [Laughs] She had no kidney trouble. Yeah, I was surprised. We were shocked when Mom was in -- she didn't feel good, she told me. "Doushita no," I asked her. Funny, she said, she didn't feel right. Before you know it, she's gone. And my brother said, "You know what? Mom's lying down." And my gosh, she's gone. Just like my husband. My husband had a brain hemorrhage, though, but that's why I didn't know that he -- I'm sleeping with a dead man. Just imagine, all night. And trying to wake him up in the morning. He was gone. He's cold and hard. Isn't that something? And he didn't make a moan, and I'm a light sleeper, and when he snores, he snores. I used to push him and put him to the side. But that night, not a sound. Isn't that something?

SY: So how old was she when she --

NS: Seventy-nine. And my husband was sixty-five. Yeah, so Mom was... I don't know, she went so fast.

SY: So you had a lot of... well, I guess your older, and your older brother is now --

NS: My oldest brother, he was in Washington, D.C. He worked over there.

SY: Oh, so he passed away.

NS: Yeah. Well, I didn't even know, he never did say anything. And my other brother told me he passed away and I said, "How come?" I said, didn't he want to come back and bring his body here? He said, no, he wanted to stay over there and be taken care of there. So we didn't even see him. We didn't say goodbye to him, we didn't get to see him at all and how he was, that I don't know anything about him, because he wanted to be kept quiet.

SY: But yet you have never been sick.

NS: Knock on the wood, where's the wood? [Laughs]

SY: And so when you left -- oh, maybe you could talk a little bit, you mentioned that you were in a bad car accident.

NS: Oh, yes. Well, I told you my father was sick and he went to the hospital. And he was in Japanese Hospital downtown.

SY: Tell us when it was? This was before the war?

NS: Yeah, this was... let's see, when was it? Well, anyhow, I remember we went to see my father, and then before, I didn't get to see my father because the automobile accident was just before we met my father. So like I told you --

SY: So it was on the way. On the way to the hospital.

NS: I told you my brother was going on East First Street around there, Second Street, East First or Second Street. Anyhow, downtown. Anyhow, this car was coming awfully fast, and I told my brother, "You know, that car is not gonna stop, you know." He said, "Oh, yeah," and he put on the brake. But then he didn't make it. I mean, the guy went right through, but he tipped the car, my brother's new car, just imagine, but it was a big car. So anyhow, he turned over two and a half times, and he and I was thrown out of the car. Both of us, not even a scratch. I looked all over myself to see if I got hurt or not when I got outside, out of the car. Not a scratch. I look at myself, feel my head, see if I got hit or something. I was fine, my brother was fine. And he was so worried because... I was worried about him because I couldn't find him. He was on the other side of the street, see. He was knocked down that much. He said, "No, I'm not hurt." God must be with us.

SY: So you weren't even, you were conscious the whole time.

NS: Not even a scratch. Yeah, I think so, or something. No. But then I saw the car coming, though, and then I knew the car turned over, so how could I be unconscious? I mean, I didn't get hit. That's why 'til now, I still remember the car turning over two and a half times. And then the car went on the other side of the street, and then my brother was on the other side of the street. I was there, right there by the car. And I said, "Oh, my gosh, the car is all beat up." It didn't look like a car, I remember that.

SY: So he lost his brand new car.

NS: Brand new car. And two of us, not a scratch. I look at myself, I look at myself, I hit myself, hit my head and everything, I'm fine. Amazing.

SY: And your brother, this was your older brother?

NS: Yeah, right above me.

SY: Okay, so not the oldest brother.

NS: No, my oldest brother... no, not the oldest brother.

SY: So your older brother somehow had managed to, this was before the war, had bought this car?

NS: No, no, no. No, no, no. My brother was always in Chicago, my oldest brother.

SY: No, the one that in the car accident?

NS: Oh, no, yeah, he bought the car, my brother bought the car.

SY: So he managed to buy a new car before the war.

NS: Yes.

SY: And it was a brand new car and he got in this accident.

NS: Yeah. It was a Chrysler, it was a big car. He got a bargain... I said, "How come you want to buy a big car like that?" Well, he had a girlfriend and he wanted to take his girlfriend out, so he bought a big car. I said, "How come you bought a big car like that?" I didn't like the car, it was so big. It was a Chrysler, I remember.

SY: So he was working.

NS: Yeah, yeah. He was... now, what kind of work was he doing? He had a good job. Gee, I forgot what he was doing. But he was getting good pay, too, so he wanted to buy his own car, he saved up enough down payment. And then poor guy. I don't think he even had it for one week.

SY: And your father was, do you remember why he was at the hospital?

NS: Well, see, he got sick all of a sudden, and he couldn't take the pain. Oh, I know, he had an ulcer. He used to drink, you know, and he was so, he couldn't sleep at night 'cause hurting stomach so much, so he said, he'd hold his stomach like this, then Mama said he had to go to the hospital. So he was in the hospital already, Japanese hospital right away. We thought he might have cancer. I don't know what happened.

SY: So is there a reason that he went all the way to Little Tokyo to the Japanese Hospital?

NS: Well, because there was no Japanese hospital in Gardena. He wanted to go there.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

SY: Is that where most of you were born?

NS: Yes, yes, before the war, most of us, most of the Japanese people all went to Japanese Hospital.

SY: And you were, where were your sisters and brothers born?

NS: In Dominguez Hills.

SY: But they were born at home?

NS: At home. My father delivered.

SY: Oh, your father delivered.

NS: Yeah. I think my oldest sister was the only one at the hospital, but the rest of 'em were, all eight of us was all born at home, my house. My father delivered. Because I remember delivering, my father delivering my sister, baby sister.

SY: Would you have to help?

NS: No. Yeah, or helping afterward to dress 'em, maybe. Because my mother was in bed. My father told me to come and give the baby bath and, "Hold the baby for me." My father was giving bath already, but I was holding the baby for her. I still remember that.

SY: I wonder when you learned how to do that.

NS: When you have twelve kids, you learn somehow. [Laughs]

SY: But he never asked anybody to help, but he did it all by himself?

NS: No. My father was real good. He really knew what to do. Well, Mama had it just like an animal or something, gosh. She had twelve kids.

SY: And she never had any problems?

NS: Well, not... she had twelve, but then nine lived, you know. It was early... what is it early...

SY: Premature.

NS: Premature baby.

SY: So then the miscarriages, though, do you know if that happened while he was trying to deliver?

NS: Yeah, I remember one of the miscarriage because she said she was bleeding, and she said, "Papa yonde chodai," ask for Papa to come home from work. So I remember that.

SY: So it wasn't as she was delivering, it was before?

NS: Yeah. So she was having a miscarriage at that time. Well, I didn't see the rest of the stuff out because my father had to clean it. But she didn't go to the hospital. She must have had a miscarriage at that time.

SY: So she never went to the hospital ever.

NS: No.

SY: Only your dad that one time with the ulcer?

NS: Uh-huh. Because I don't remember her going to the hospital. All my kids, I mean, all the family that I had.

SY: And none of your sisters and brother ever went?

NS: [Shakes head] My father delivered. I guess he was a good doctor, I guess. [Laughs] I don't know why he didn't become a doctor. Still work out in the country.

SY: Yeah. But the Japanese Hospital was, do you remember that?

NS: Yes, oh, yes.

SY: It was all Japanese doctors?

NS: Oh, yes, oh, yes. And my father's doctor was from Gardena, but he went to, he went to Japanese Hospital to take care of my father, because he's a friend of his. So during the time he was becoming a doctor, he was good friends with my father. So he knew the doctor real well, Tashiro. Dr. Tashiro, he's well-known in Gardena, or all over, actually. When you say Dr. Tashiro, everyone knew him, because he was about the only Japanese doctor that they had.

SY: It sounds like your father was very connected.

NS: Oh, yeah, he was real good friend of his.

SY: He knew a lot of, like, people in the Japanese, that were active.

NS: Yeah, yeah. He was real active. He was really, he used to help so much. Mama used to get mad because he wouldn't come home to work. He said he'd be helping community. But then he did so well, everybody liked him. It meant a lot of things for my father, I guess he liked it. He was well-known for being helpful. And then when somebody gets sick, my dad would go see him, take care of the person that's sick. You know what he used to do? He used to give enema, then the man will get well. Isn't something? "Yoku natta, Morita-san's okay now. Kaete kuru," he comes home and tells me. I said, "Oh, my goodness."

SY: So he was, he had medical skill.

NS: Well, that's why... I think he wanted to be a doctor one time, but then he never, he was so poor that... and then got married and had so many kids that he never became a doctor. I think he wanted to be a doctor. He was always looking into book things and reading about medical things. But I think he would have been a smart doctor but he didn't have the money to go to school.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

SY: And you never met any of your father's family?

NS: No, because they're all in Japan.

SY: Did you ever go to Japan?

NS: Yes, after all these years, how many years is it? How many years now? Not quite five years maybe, I went to Japan first time and I saw the... they're all gone, most of 'em, his parents are gone. Only one was our second cousins.

SY: On your dad's side, only one family?

NS: Yeah.

SY: And they were still in Kyushu?

NS: Yeah, they were in Fukuoka. They had a nice... because the older son was an architect, so they built a beautiful home. In Japan they have a floor that's, you sit on the floor. Oh, I tell you, they don't have wood like that out here. Beautiful, just beautiful and shiny. And then you have to take your shoes off to go up there.

SY: And how about your mother's family?

NS: Same thing. Yeah, they were nice people, too. No, they're all my cousins, second cousins. They were so tall, I was just surprised. They were six footers. You'd never know with my family. My family's all short. [Laughs]

SY: So you never really met anybody like aunts, uncles...

NS: No. Before, uh-uh.

SY: But you think --

NS: First time.

SY: You're pretty sure, though, that they had, your mother had siblings?

NS: Yes, yes. Well, she told me about it anyway, all the time. And then she went back to Japan couple times when I was still at home.

SY: So did she miss her sisters and brothers in Japan?

NS: Oh, yeah. That's why anytime she had enough money to go back to Japan, she'd like to go. At least we sent her two times, anyway, before she died.

SY: And you never, they never came here? You never got to meet them?

NS: No, none of them. I told them, I said, [inaudible], you but they said they don't like to ride the plane. And then she said she don't want to ride the boat because it takes too long. So they never came. [Laughs]

SY: I'm just wondering where she got that strong constitution. She's very strong.

NS: Yeah, I know.

SY: And so are you. You're very strong.

NS: Well, I don't know where I got mine. I guess Mom. [Laughs]

SY: And when you went back, then you met some cousins, second cousins?

NS: Oh, yes, second cousins. They're nice-looking, oh, they're tall, six footer. I said, "If I was single, I'd marry you," I told my cousin. He said, "Heee?" He's laughing. [Laughs] He's nice-looking. Both of 'em was so nice-looking, tall. They didn't have too many girls. I guess like me, we had six brothers, just like in Japan, too, they had nothing but boys. Only one girl.

SY: And so of your family now, are you the oldest?

NS: Right now? Yeah.

SY: And your younger brothers and sisters are all still alive?

NS: Yeah, well, Sadie, my younger sister Sadie, she's still alive. She's the youngest one, see. She's the last one from the nine of us. And I still have four brothers.

SY: Four brothers still... and your younger sister, so the six?

NS: There's nine of us.

SY: Yeah, but there are six of you living?

NS: Yeah.

SY: And they're all doing well?

NS: They're strong so far, knock on the wood. They might catch cold or something.

SY: And so you have all, I'm sure, you must have big family gatherings.

NS: Oh, gosh. Some of 'em, my second cousins, my little niece, nephews, "Who are you? Whose child are you?" I don't even know them because they don't come. They live so far away, so you don't come. And matter of fact, I have only met one time, my great granddaughter or is it grandson? Grandson. I don't know them because I don't see them, they live so far away.

SY: So you have great grandchildren?

NS: Uh-huh. Only one great grandson is, what do you call? You know, his wife's son.

SY: Oh, so it's a grandson-in-law.

NS: Yeah, my, I have one great son now.

SY: And of the family members that are left... I've lost my train of thought. So do they all live in this area, too?

NS: Uh-huh, Culver City.

SY: So your family really stayed pretty much in the same...

NS: Yeah, uh-huh. Except I have, my brother, one of my brothers lives in Chatworth. His name is Bob Inatomi. I'm formerly Inatomi, and they live in the valley. They have kids, too, and great-grandkids and everything.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

SY: And all this time that you've been a member of the West L.A. Methodist Church.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: How has that been?

NS: Methodist church? Yeah. Well, I mean, I've been very active with the women's group, and I've been president of the club and everything. I don't want to do these things that take responsibility, so I told them I don't want to do any kind of job anymore. After all, they're young people, let them do it.

SY: So the church has changed over the years?

NS: Oh, yes. The minister changes...

SY: You've been a member for how many years how?

NS: Gosh, I've been here sixty-something years.

SY: You've been a member of the same church for that long?

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And talk a little bit about how it's changed, other than the minister?

NS: Well, we changed the ministers. For a while we had a minister that didn't do anything, and we were so disappointed. We didn't have no, you know, no meeting, just not interested in doing it. So what are you gonna do? So finally she left. Then we got this new minister, oh my god, he's such a wonderful person, just wonderful.

SY: How has the congregation changed?

NS: Oh, it's getting more and more now that we got a new minister. Gosh, they're getting so full. There's an opening on one side, there's the brand new side. Now half of that is open and this side is all packed on this side. So we got quite a few coming now.

SY: So you think it has to do with the minister?

NS: Oh, definitely. I mean, if they don't talk, what are you gonna do? You go there and open your mouth, you go to sleep.

SY: And what is, like, the racial character of the church? Is it all still very Japanese American?

NS: Yes, yes, there are still very few hakujin. One or two maybe. We try to welcome them. They come back, though, but once in a while. They don't come constantly. They're not a real Christian, I guess. [Laughs] They're not interested.

SY: And the area that the church is in, still very, very Japanese?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: And so do you have mainly the same friends?

NS: Yes. Well, I wouldn't say that because we got, last weekend, gee, there was about three or four new ones coming in. So I welcomed them and told them, "Make sure you come next week," and this and that. Oh, sure, they liked the church. The church is new now, see. And my brother designed this thing that's in the front, what do you call that thing?

SY: Pulpit?

NS: The one that goes up on the window? You know, it's a beautiful design, and the designed it, my brother that passed away, Charlie. And so it's a good memory for me to always look at that every Sunday because it was right in the front, the design. And then everybody say, "Don't you like your brother's design?" I said, "Yeah, I always enjoy that when I come to church," I tell 'em. [Laughs] He's gone, but he designed it. They used it, so it makes it nice. Means a lot.

SY: Now all these years that you were married and you're going to the church and you're raising a family, what kinds of activities were you involved in?

NS: Oh, different activity, women's group.

SY: So you had a church, were you very involved in the church women's group?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: Now were you a member -- did they have any kinds of clubs?

NS: Oh, yes, uh-huh. You mean separately from the women's group?

SY: Yes.

NS: Oh, yeah, they had different groups to do different things, too. So they had their own clubs, too. Like my daughter-in-law's group is another group, too.

SY: But it wasn't all affiliated with the church or separate?

NS: Oh, yes. Has something to do with the church.

SY: So were you a member of any kinds of clubs after the war? You know, if they had women's groups, or did they have those in West L.A.?

NS: Oh, yes. You mean like JACL or anything, you're talking about?

SY: No, they were more like women's clubs.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

SY: No, but I was just curious, after the war, when you settled here, when you were in this area of West L.A., were there a lot of Japanese Americans?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: So what kinds of social activities did you have?

NS: Well, mostly church activities with the women's group.

SY: So everything revolved around church.

NS: Yes.

SY: Socially. So you would go to church, but then you'd also have other activities.

NS: Yes, like JACL had a women's group, too.

SY: And you were involved with them?

NS: Uh-huh. Not too much, they don't do too much, but we had some things, most of the time some kind of dinner project and stuff like that, money making project.

SY: So you were more involved in the church, then?

NS: Yes, yes.

SY: That kind of activity, did it take up a lot of your time?

NS: Well, yes, sometimes, because you had to make things. You had to say that you're gonna make money, then you had to do baking, you got to bring knitting, things like that. Now they're asking us to knit again, I said, "Oh, no, eyes are bad now," I told 'em. [Laughs] After all, I'm getting to be old, you know, don't forget. "I know, I know, but can't you make it?" "I don't know about that," I said.

SY: So did you continue cooking for the groups that you were in?

NS: Yeah, well, whenever they need that, potlucks, they always do. I'd make a big pot of onishime, now they're asking for me to make it again. I said, "Oh, no, come on. Get somebody else," I tell 'em. [Laughs]

SY: But when you were raising your family and going after... and working as a diet tech, did you do a lot of cooking for everybody then?

NS: Well, like I say, if it's a group thing, yes. I had to make potlucks, yes. They want me to make a lot of things, baking. Lately, they haven't been asking too much 'cause they got a younger group nowadays, so not too much. Just once in a while. We had to do it four times a year, though. That's a lot for me now. [Laughs] We just had a meeting yesterday and they said we have to do it again. Said, "Oh, no, Nancy, you got to do it, don't forget now." Says, "Nancy, you got to do it." I said, "Oh, no, not anymore." Said, "No, you got to do it, you got to help us." I said, okay, okay.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

SY: And tell us a little bit about your family. So you had how many children?

NS: Well, I had three kids. My daughter's gone, but I still have two boys.

SY: Your two sons.

NS: Yeah, and they have their kids.

SY: Tell us their names?

NS: I don't know. Stanley, do I know Stanley here? [Laughs]

SY: Stanley's here.

NS: And Stuart, these are the only two boys I have.

SY: And Stanley's the oldest and Stuart's the youngest.

NS: Uh-huh.

SY: And tell us, can you talk about what happened to your daughter?

NS: Well, she was sick one day and she said she didn't feel good. And before you know it... we didn't know that she had cancer. But she was complaining about her stomach all the time, and so finally she went to doctor. First time they didn't know what it was, and second time they found that x-ray. Before you know it, she was gone.

SY: She was how old?

NS: She was thirty-one, huh? I thought she was thirty-one.

SY: In her thirties, anyway.

NS: Yeah, something like that.

SY: And she had a family?

NS: Oh, yes, the two boys. They're grown now. Justin and Brandon, they're my two favorite kids. But the grandma took care, brought 'em up. The baby was only three, not even four when she passed away.

SY: So Stanley and Stuart are still around and...

NS: Yes. Stanley comes around once in a while, huh, Stan? [Laughs]

SY: Are they both, are they all active in your church, too?

NS: Oh. Well, Stan is doing pretty good. Stuart is an usher, head of the usher, so he have to do that all the time.

SY: So they grew up in West L.A.?

NS: Yes, oh yes.

SY: And went to the...

NS: Yeah, Methodist church.

SY: And so they were very active as young people, too?

NS: Well, not too active, but then... well, are you, Stan? I don't know what you do. But he's, he tries to do things for the church, anyway.

SY: He's active in the church as well. So you set that example for them.

NS: Well, that I don't know, but I guess they need somebody to help, I guess.

SY: That's great. And when did you end up retiring? When was that?

NS: When I became sixty-five.

SY: So just when you became sixty-five?

NS: Yeah, I retired.

SY: And what do you do with your time now?

NS: I still go out, lunch, anything. I'm never home. I should stay home and clean house. [Laughs] I don't do that. I was out all day yesterday. I told the girls, I got to go home and clean the house. "Oh, who wants to clean the house?"

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

SY: So I know there are things that we didn't talk about, and I want you to think about that, too. Is there something that we didn't talk about that you'd like to say about your life in general, about looking back at your life, is there something that you miss?

NS: Such as what life? Because I'm ninety years old, and that's a long time, you know. [Laughs]

SY: Did you feel like the going to camp and being in camp and that whole experience made you a better person? Did it help you or did it hurt you?

NS: Well, at first, I thought, gee, that was real sad to be in camp. When you're life is so young, you want to do things that you want to do. Like, for instance, I lost interest in going to school anymore. I'd just graduated high school, I wanted to go to school, but, and, you know, I wanted to go to business school, too. And then work, find a job, work and make money. So there was quite a disappointment when the war started.

SY: And you think it affected your parents in a... how do you think it affected your parents?

NS: Well, they were getting old, so, you know... as long as my kids are all grown, I mean, their children are all grown up, so I don't think it affected that much. But I don't think they were that happy either, being lonely, getting lonely. Most of us away from home. Mother always said, she said she wanted to die because it's time for her to go and this and that. Always used to say, "No, Mama, it's not time yet," I used to tell her.

SY: This is after camp or during camp?

NS: Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, she lived quite a bit after camp.

SY: So by the time all her kids had gone, she felt like --

NS: Well, she got to see all my grandkids, I mean, her grandkids, so it wasn't that bad. She looked forward to that. Matter of fact, I used to make her take care of my kids. [Laughs] I'm always out.

SY: So you don't think... did it affect your father in terms of losing the farm?

NS: Oh, yes. Definitely, when they went to camp, definitely my father was quite upset, but what can you do? As Japanese would say, shikata ga nai. Everybody said that, not just my father, everybody. All my Issei friends all said, shikata ga nai."

SY: And that was something that they actually said during the war?

NS: Yes, oh, definitely. Because of the war.

SY: They used that expression.

NS: Oh, yeah, shikata ga nai, that's the word.

SY: And then your brothers all, I remember you said that all your brothers except for one went into the military. Is that right?

NS: No. Two of my brothers went in... no, three of 'em went in from the camp, Jimmy, Bob and Charlie. So three of my brothers.

SY: And the oldest one did not.

NS: No, no. Harold was never in the army. He was working for the government.

SY: But there was one who enlisted before? Oh, no, that was your husband, who enlisted before the war.

NS: Yeah, yeah. He was in the army already before the war, my husband.

SY: So only the... so there were only three of your brothers who actually served in the army.

NS: During the war, during the war.

SY: During the war. And they all came back?

NS: Yeah. They didn't go to the front. They didn't allow them to go in the front, being a Japanese, I think. That's what happened.

SY: So before the war, I know you mentioned that you always stayed together as a family?

NS: Uh-huh. Oh, yes, definitely.

SY: So do you think that camp had... because you...

NS: Yes. My mother was quite worried about that, because we were not together, that we're not bringing our family life together, so she was very upset about that. Because we went to eat anytime they want. My brothers would go out to have their lunch or breakfast or dinner different time, they didn't eat together. That's what upset my mother.

SY: And your parents never made an effort to try to keep you all together?

NS: Because they were working in camp, doing something. And they have different hours, so they had to eat out separately. And I was working, too. I was working taking care of this little boy, so I have to hurry up and eat and then go. So I didn't even get to eat with my mother. But my mother was a waitress in camp with Mrs. Sato, her friend Sato. Mrs. Sato, she would come after my mother and my mother would go right away to the mess hall to start helping serve.

SY: So she would be gone, too.

NS: So there's no such thing as family life anymore after that.

SY: And did that...

NS: That affected my mother.

SY: More so than your father.

NS: Yeah.

SY: And so when you look back on it now...

NS: Well, like I said, we lost the family life.

SY: So there's this... so there was...

NS: We lost so many, several years that happened, so we kind of... I mean, we were always together. Family life was always together, but what I mean is after that we were together.

SY: And do you think you would have chosen a different career if you hadn't gone to camp?

NS: Yes, 'cause I wanted to go to college and I never got to. 'Cause I didn't have the money after that, so we all did work, so remember how we were in camp and we got, what, sixteen dollar a month.

SY: So your life might have been different?

NS: Oh, yes, definitely.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

SY: And so again, as you look back on... how would you characterize the happiest time of your life?

NS: Oh, I think bringing up kids, I got married and had kids, that's the time that I was happy.

SY: That was the happiest. Yeah, so it was after the war?

NS: Oh, yeah. And the kids, kids getting married, bringing up the kids.

SY: So fond memories you had of camp, the social life and all that, it didn't...

NS: It didn't affect me that much. I mean, it was fun. At that time it was fun, but I mean, what kind of fun is that? You forget about it. You had fun at that time, yes, but you forget it because it's not a true kind of fun. It's a daily life thing that they had in camp.

SY: So do you talk about this with your kids and your...

NS: Yeah, that we did this and we did that sometime. Well, my kids were asking me, too.

SY: So you're very open about all your experiences in camp. That's wonderful.

NS: Well, I hope that our kids don't have to go. [Laughs] I hope we never have that kind of life. I mean, it was, I can't say we didn't have fun, we didn't have to work. Of course I did, I worked, but then what I'm saying is we had fun. It was not like working out on the farm. Otherwise I'd be working out on the farm.

SY: I wanted to mention, too, that you were reunited with the little boy you babysat.

NS: Yeah. That was really something. It was in the newspaper, it was everything, it had a big party, and they had a big party for me with him. Oh, gosh, he's grown. He's an old man now. I saw a picture, Christmas picture, he's an old man. [Laughs] I can't picture him that. He was such a cute baby.

SY: Because when you left him, how old was he?

NS: Oh, gosh. He was a year old, maybe.

SY: Not even a year.

NS: He was born in camp, see. And I wanted to leave right away, but then I was taking care of him. I guess a year old, I guess.

SY: Was it difficult leaving?

NS: No. I think he didn't know it. But when I used to go home and say goodbye to him, 'cause I was taking care of him, then he used to cry, and he didn't want me to go home.

SY: But as far as leaving camp, it wasn't...

NS: No, because he was getting older and he was going to school. I left, when he was in school I left, so he didn't know. I didn't want to say goodbye to him.

SY: And his parents, were you very close to his parents?

NS: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.

SY: So were they sad to see --

NS: Only son, too. She never had a baby after that.

SY: But were they upset when you left?

NS: Well, she said, "I hope I could see you," she said.

SY: And so what did she say to you when you met them again?

NS: Oh. Well, he says... you mean at the thing?

SY: It was a reunion.

NS: He doesn't remember. He doesn't remember me. I mean, he was a baby, so he doesn't remember me. His mother talked about me, but he never... unless you see him, you can't imagine anything. He was a baby, so they don't remember anything.

SY: But you did say that his mother talked about you.

NS: Yeah, all the time. He has a picture of me. I have his picture, too.

SY: As a baby.

NS: Yeah. That's what I talked about it and said, there's a babysitter. I have a picture of me with him, so that's a babysitter, so tells about being a babysitter.

SY: So really you have a lot of people who were not Japanese that you became friends with throughout those years, right?

NS: You mean during the war?

SY: Yeah, during the war.

NS: Well, not in camp. I mean, there's no...

SY: Well, but the Stricklands being one.

NS: No. There's not that American people living in camp, so they were the only one.

SY: They were the only one.

NS: They were the only ones. So I didn't get to see any other people, except for some of the nurses and doctors, some of the hakujin doctors. But mostly it was Japanese, so they all hired Japanese people instead. Later on, that is. They changed.

SY: And since you weren't in school, you didn't have, they were teachers, I think.

NS: No, no. But I don't know. When you think back, I had a good time, I thought, meeting a lot of friends. Of course, I don't know where they are now, they're dead or what, I don't know. We didn't contact each other that well. I often wonder, the ones that we used to go to movie together, we did things together. We had picnics together. Those are the thing that we come back thinking about them, but I don't know where they are. It's too bad that we didn't contact. Of course, they have their own life, so...

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

SY: And the change from being a farm girl to going to camp, was that something that you were glad that you...

NS: Well, in a way, yes, but you know, 'cause I didn't think it was that hard in farm. Because my father raised flowers, so I helped mostly doing the flower work. So it wasn't that hard.

SY: So your childhood was not that terrible.

NS: No. No, I'm mostly cooking. [Laughs] That was my life. Cooking for the big family. I started from when I'm twelve years old, little bit younger than that, I guess. Mama put me into charge. Oh, boy, sometimes they'd complain about my cooking, I'd say, "Okay, then you have to cook," and they shut up. [Laughs] But they ate it all up. They never saved any. They ate everything up, so it must not have been bad.

SY: Well, unless you can think of something we didn't talk about, which --

NS: I don't know what you want me to tell you.

SY: I know I have to rethink of questions, but anything in your life that we missed?

NS: Such as what?

SY: I'm looking at my notes. I think we...

NS: You mean having Stanley? [Laughs] He was a bad boy. No. I was happy when I first had him. Oh, my gosh, I barely had him... in a taxi, my pregnancy's so fast, I mean, the deliver, I thought I'll never make it to the hospital, but I finally made it. And boy, as soon as I went to the hospital, I had him, just like that. The nurse said, "Oh, my gosh." I'll never forget that. She was holding him. [Laughs]

SY: That's the way you do it.

NS: I was going, we had to go on a taxi, and I was holding my stomach like this, and I couldn't hold it anymore. By the time I got off, oh, I thought I was gonna have it right there. But the nurse, they brought the chair, so I rode on that, what do you call it, those long chair thing. And as soon as they put me in my room, I had him. I tell you, the nurse couldn't wait, said, "The baby's out already," and the nurse was holding the baby to me. [Laughs]

SY: And you would have never made it to the operating room.

NS: No, uh-uh. Hope they didn't charge me. I forgot. [Laughs]

SY: That's a wonderful story to end, okay, Nancy?

NS: Well, I tell you, he sure came fast.

SY: Well, it sounds like you, maybe from your father doing all those deliveries...

NS: Yeah, I guess so. But my three pregnancy was easy, I don't know. It just seemed like I didn't have a hard time like other people say, "It's hard to have a baby," but I never did.

SY: I wish we could bottle your health.

NS: Yeah.

SY: We have to find out the secrets to your health.

NS: Yeah, thank God that God gave me my good health, so I can't complain. I'm really fortunate to have my good health. Like I say, I never catch cold. Knock on wood, I better not say that, might catch cold. But I don't really know what cold is. And I don't know what flu is, I never had a flu. Lot of people suffer with flu, what is that?

SY: Yeah, I wish we could figure out what the secret is.

NS: I really don't know. God gave me this health, so I don't know. You have to ask God, I guess.

SY: Okay, we'll have to do that. Thank you so much, Nancy, this has been...

NS: Well, I hope you got things out of me that you could at least get something out of it.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.