Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0014

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ME: I'm wondering what happened, what arrangements did your family have to make when it was time for evacuation? What were they going to do with the apartment?

AK: Well luckily, my brother was at the university, and his classmate lived in Everett. And so he'd come and study with my brother and he'd drive back to Everett. And my mother and dad said, "Curt, why don't you stay with us? Because you, it's so inconvenient, and you know, just stay with us. You don't have to pay rent or anything." And so they fixed up a room for him, and so he was living with us. And so when the war broke out and then the word that we were going to get evacuated, he, Curt said, "Well, I'll take care of this place for you." Which was very nice. And then there was a deacon from the Methodist church that came, and asked us if he could help. And we were, we were kind of leery of him, because he kept saying he needed to have the power of attorney. And my father said, "No, I can't give you the power of attorney." And he kept insisting, "What, you don't trust me?" And so finally on the day before -- and Curt had suggested, "Don't do that, don't give it to him," but Curt was a student and whatever. And so, this man was a real estate man, and a deacon of the Methodist church. And so finally my father gave in and gave him the power of attorney. Which was not very bright, but anyway he did. And so when we went to camp, we kept hearing pretty soon from Curt that furniture was disappearing, and of course the money was being depleted from the bank account. And after a couple of years, the apartment was being sold for tax default, because the man had not been paying the real estate taxes, so it was up for it. Curt reported it immediately, and luckily if you're a GI, your property cannot get sold. And the apartment was in my brother's name, because, you know, my parents could not own it. And so he was able to save the apartment from being sold, but all the furniture had disappeared and the money had gone and everything. But the apartment was still there, and Curt was able to take care of it until he was drafted into the service. And so things were pretty bad, but then, it was... people were still living in there although the apartment was falling apart. And then we were given the release to come back to Seattle, and we were the first family to come back. And now, we came back to the apartment. And that's when Floyd Schmoe and Reverend Andrews, and everybody came to meet us, and helped us and got the place ready. That's what happened.

ME: Is that when you first met Floyd?

AK: I had met him before. Because he was protesting the evacuation of the Japanese, and all that. But then that's when I really connected with him, and then I worked with him.

ME: What about your parents' other belongings? Were they stored in the apartment as well?

AK: Yes, and we stored a lot of the things there, and all the valuable things were there. And when we returned, naturally most of them were gone. And it's very ironic, and I'll be bringing you way back into 1990, '89, when my mother was in the hospital and she was dying, she had pneumonia, she was dying. This nurse came, and she was a weekend nurse and a lovely young lady, and she said, "Mrs. Kato, are you from Elnor Apartments?" My mother said, "Well, yes." She identified herself, she said, "I want thank you so much for all those lovely Japanese things that you gave us." She says, "We have treasured them, my mother and I have treasured them so much." And she says, "My daughter's getting married in June, and I'm giving her the nice silk kimono and the nice plates that you gave us." My mother looked at me, and they had these beautiful dolls in the cases and everything, and my mother looked at me and I looked at her. And as soon as the nurse went out, she said, "Now I can die in peace." She said, "Isn't it wonderful that all our belongings have been treasured so nicely?" She said, "Please don't tell her that they don't, they didn't belong to, you know, that her father had taken them." And so it was very nice, and my mother was able to die in peace, saying, "If we had taken those to camp, they would probably would have been broken and destroyed. At least somebody's treasured them and taken good care of them and still honoring them." And she got very pleased, because so many people had things destroyed just because they were Japanese. And at least these were treasured, and so that was very nice. And so, we, I must say that we have been fortunate in not having the real tragedies that so many people had undergone in camp. And returning also, there were suicides, and you know, break... breakage in the families and really hard, a lot of hardships, but our family was together and we were able to continue. So that was good.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.