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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

ME: I'm wondering, Aki, for evacuation you could only take what you could carry. What, what did you take?

AK: I'll show you and I have kept this for a long time, because I have treasured this. This is the suitcase that my mother went and bought at Crest Ten Cent Store. She, and perhaps it's because she's so little and she couldn't carry so much, she got this suitcase because she was, you know, purchasing things for all four children and themselves. And so we were able to take whatever we could carry in our two hands. And so this was one of the suitcases I had and another little bag. And these are my whole worldly possessions that went with me.

ME: How old were you at that time?

AK: Yeah, and so I naturally took some underclothes and my pajamas and whatever and some books. And then I took my clarinet and... but it wasn't very much. And so we missed a lot of things. And in camp, it was very interesting, that Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward's said, "We will not discriminate against you people." They sent all kinds of catalogs. They didn't lower the prices and they made a killing. [Laughs] But people were ordering things from the catalogs, because, you know, and whatever limited money we had we spent it on purchasing things to make the camp life a little more comfortable. And one of the most popular things that people purchased, and the stores kept running out of, was chamber pots. And you may not know what a chamber pot is, I did not know until then, and they're little pots, and they're called chamber pots with a lid on it and that's what you used to defecate and to urinate in. Because our toilets and bathrooms were way far away and in the middle of the night, people didn't want to go in the freezing cold to go to the bathrooms. And so they'd use those. [Laughs]

ME: The chamber pot.

AK: Yes. [Laughs]

ME: Straight from the Sears catalog?

AK: Yes. [Laughs] As you know, all modesty is gone because there is this little closet, you're hiding behind a curtain, using this... and hoping nobody could hear all this tinkle, tinkle and whatever. [Laughs] And so it was a new way of life.

ME: You mentioned your clarinet, what -- when, when you're trying to figure out what you're going to take, what were you thinking? "This is my prize possession, I can't live without..." what? What else did you have to bring?

AK: Well, I thought it would be fun to at least make music. You know, a group of us that were in the band and orchestra together would just get together and play. And I carried that clarinet wherever I went. And now I gave it to my grandson, and he's... the same old clarinet, he's using it. It had to be reconditioned somewhat, but... uh-huh.

ME: What books did you bring with you?

AK: And, The Secret Garden was my favorite book, so I had The Secret Garden. And I had those Nancy Drew mysteries. That was very popular, so that's what I took. And we would share it on the train with other kids. Many of us took Nancy Drew and Andrew Hardy mysteries. That was the popular thing, but I always liked The Secret Garden, that's always been my favorite, so I took it. As I read it now, I realize there's a lot of racism in there, but it's a beautiful story anyway.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.