Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Misa Taketa Interview
Narrator: Misa Taketa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 20, 2016
Densho ID: denshovh-tmisa-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So you mentioned how your brothers had left the camp to do work outside in eastern Oregon is where they went.

MT: Yes.

TI: And you went to actually go join them at some point. Can you describe why you went to eastern Oregon?

MT: Well, I was not planning to go to eastern Oregon, but my family received a telegram saying my oldest brother had an acute appendicitis operation and needed somebody to care for him when he left the hospital. And so my mother said, "Well, you're next, you're the only one that's available," and so we very quickly made arrangements for me to leave camp, and I did.

TI: Now where was your older sister?

MT: She was already in Chicago.

TI: Okay, and she was the one with medical training, so she would have been perfect if she were available.

MT: Yeah.

TI: So she's out already, okay, so you're next in line, and so you... and how did you feel about that, leaving Tule Lake to go to eastern Oregon?

MT: Well, it was kind of sudden, but there wasn't any choice other than me, for me to go.

TI: But were you excited about leaving camp and going there, or more scared?

MT: More scared, I think, because I didn't know what to expect, especially in an area that was really farmland. But Vale is close to Ontario, and Ontario apparently had a lot of evacuees who had relocated there. So it wasn't as bad as I thought. Well, as it turned out, you know, that wires got crossed, so the bus dropped me off at two o'clock in the morning.

TI: Okay, so this is the bus from Tule Lake.

MT: Tule Lake.

TI: And I think earlier you mentioned that on the bus ride, she didn't get off at Vale, but you rode with another woman? Who was that?

MT: Nobi Kodama.

TI: And where was she going?

MT: She was going to Spokane.

TI: Okay, so the same bus would drop you off there and just continue on to Spokane.

MT: Yes.

TI: And so the bus goes to Vale, Oregon, drops you off you said at two a.m.? So what happened?

MT: Well, I fully expected someone to meet me there because they had wired from camp saying that I was gonna be arriving, and there was nobody at the hotel where they dropped me off. And I panicked because I didn't know what to do, being two o'clock in the morning, I knew the name of the family that owned the farm where my brothers were, but this is two o'clock in the morning and I didn't know how to get in touch with my brothers. I didn't want to call the family. So I sat in lobby for the longest time wondering what I should do. And then it dawned on me that this block manager and his wife that I worked for in camp had, I knew that they were living in Vale in the town, and so when daylight came, I took a chance and went out and walked the streets. But you know in Vale, it's strange, I don't know why, but the houses, if you're walking on the sidewalk, the houses are here. They're all lower than the street level. So here I was walking on the street level and walking back and forth, and I heard my name. Sally, the wife of the block manager I worked for, she saw me. [Laughs] She saved my life.

TI: So you were just relieved.

MT: Oh my, yes.

TI: But you would walk along that path so people in the houses below could see you.

MT: Yeah, it just so happened she was in their kitchen she said, and she looked up and she saw me. So she got in, well, by that time it was daylight, so they got in touch with where my brothers were. And as it turned out, they said, "Didn't you get the telegram that we sent saying you didn't need to come?" [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so they weren't even expecting you?

MT: No.

TI: So they were surprised when you showed up?

MT: [Laughs] Yes.

TI: Oh, so the telegram never made it to you.

MT: Well apparently I was on my way out when the telegram came, but it was too late.

TI: Interesting. Oh, that would have changed your whole life. So you get to... I wanted to ask you, when you were at the hotel at two a.m., from two a.m. to sunrise, did you sleep at all in the lobby or did you just stay up?

MT: No, I could not sleep because I was too anxious.

TI: So you were just up sitting there waiting?

MT: Waiting for the sun to come out because I didn't want to go out in the dark.

TI: Now, was there a desk clerk at the hotel?

MT: There was.

TI: Okay, so you were just waiting there by yourself.

MT: Yes. Fortunately they weren't friendly, but he was not anti, so I felt pretty safe staying there. But gee, I know that on the ride out, coming out of camp, that we had a bus stop, and went into the ladies room, people made all kinds of remarks.

TI: So they were rude or...

MT: Well, negative, you know. Calling us names.

TI: And in those situations, what would you do?

MT: Ignore them. I mean, we felt that it's not going to do any good to talk back or do anything, so we just walked away. It's not a pleasant thing.

TI: And I'm thinking of your story up to now, you probably hadn't heard too much of that up to that point, or had you? Kind of these negative remarks to you directly? Was it something that you had experienced before, or was this kind of a newer thing for you?

MT: It was new.

TI: And how did it make you feel?

MT: I don't know, I just feel... well, I just wanted to hide. [Laughs] You feel small, you know, when people call you names like that. I'm not usually the kind that's combative, one that talked back, so I didn't.

TI: Now it must have been, again, frightening. I mean, one, you're in a confined space at Tule Lake, so I'm not saying that was better, but then when you're out, to face that would have been really, really difficult.

MT: Yeah.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.