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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Wednesday, January 20, 2016, and we're in San Jose at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. And on camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And so, Misa, I'm going to start at the beginning. Can you tell me where and when you were born?

MT: I was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 18, 1925.

TI: Oh, so your birthday was two days ago.

MT: Yes, it was.

TI: I'm sorry, what year were you born?

MT: 1925.

TI: So that makes you, you just turned ninety?

MT: One.

TI: Ninety-one, wow. Congratulations. And where in Seattle were you born? Was it a hospital?

MT: At home.

TI: Okay, so it was like a midwife?

MT: Yes.

TI: By any chance, do you know who the midwife was?

MT: A Mrs. Uyeno, I think. I'm not sure, but it sounds right to me. [Laughs]

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth?

MT: The only name I was given was Misae.

TI: No middle name?

MT: No.

TI: And let's start with your father. Can you tell me your father's name?

MT: Kinuta Uno.

TI: And where was he from in Japan? Where did he live in Japan before he came to the United States?

MT: From Okayama, Japan. I can't remember the village, or I don't know how they classify them, the area.

TI: Do you know what kind of work the family did in Okayama?

MT: I think they were more like farmers.

TI: And do you know why he decided to come to America?

MT: Oh, I'm not sure, but I think I heard stories about they think that, well, you know, life was very difficult for them, and I think they hear stories that if you go to America you can make money. And the idea was to make money and take it back, go back to Japan.

TI: And in his family, did he have any brothers or sisters?

MT: My father, he had, I think, sisters, but I'm not really sure. I know they died early, so I can't remember how long they survived. But I think he did have a sister.

TI: Okay, but no brothers, no younger brothers?

MT: No.

TI: Because oftentimes I hear about how it was oftentimes the second or third son that left. But in this case he was the oldest son.

MT: I think he was the oldest son, yes.

TI: And do you know about how old he was when he came to America?

MT: I'm not sure, but the story I think we were told was that he was in his teens, but I'm not sure exactly.

TI: Yeah, that always amazes me when I think about these teenagers going to a whole new country and not knowing the language and doing that, just astounds me.

MT: Yes. I was rather surprised to hear that when I learned that myself. [Laughs]

TI: And do you know about what year he came to the United States?

MT: That I cannot remember. I'm sure I must have heard it somewhere, but I can't recall.

TI: Okay, that's fine. And then when he came to the United States, what did he do?

MT: Well, I know that he worked for farmers, he didn't have any real talents otherwise, and it was the only thing he probably knew. But I think they somehow find out about Japanese farmers who were already there, established, who could use workers, I think that's how he started.

TI: And was this in the Pacific Northwest that he was farming?

MT: Yes.

TI: At this point, was it kind of like in the South Park area?

MT: Yes. Well, I'm not sure about that either. Actually, I can't remember, but I think they must have been in that area. Because he had never talked about living in another area in the Seattle area.

TI: Okay, so this would be just a little bit south of Seattle proper and southwest of there.

MT: Yes.

TI: Kind of currently where Boeing Field is right now in Seattle.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So how did your father meet your mother?

MT: Well, I think it was sort of like a "picture bride" thing where he lived in one mura, village, I don't know how they're, what they're called, but anyway, I know that he did not live in the same mura as my mother. But somehow there must have been contact between the people and their families back in Japan, and it was kind of an arranged marriage.

TI: So like a baishakunin?

MT: Yeah, I think.

TI: And before we go on with her story, what was your mother's name?

MT: Ryoko Kawata.

TI: Kawata, okay. And do you know what her family did in Japan?

MT: The same. But she had lost her mother when her young brother was born, and so life was very difficult for her, but I think it was basically like farming work.

TI: So she lost her brother, did she have any other siblings?

MT: Yes, she had a younger sister, and the brother survived, but the mother passed away.

TI: Oh, I see, that's right, her mother died with the brother. So she had a brother and sister. And do you know how long your father was in the United States before your mother joined him?

MT: He was here for quite a few years, because I think he was already in his thirties, early thirties when they got married. I might be mistaken about that. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, so it sounds like maybe about fifteen years or something, if he was a teenager when he first came.

MT: I was surprised to learn that he was that young when he came, but I may be mistaken about that. But I think he was in his thirties, early thirties when he got married, when my mother came.

TI: Now how about the age difference between your father and mother? Was your father older than your mother?

MT: Yes.

TI: About how many years?

MT: Well, she was twenty when she came, so that would be...

TI: Over ten years.

MT: Yeah, I think so, ten or twelve years maybe.

TI: Now, did your mother ever tell you any stories about when she first met your father, or what it was like for her coming to America?

MT: I don't remember that she had said very much about that, but I think she did say that when she came to America she didn't know what to expect, so I think it was someone that she had not met face to face. I don't think my father had gone back before they were married to meet her or anything.

TI: Do you know if she was surprised? Oftentimes I read about or hear about how when these women would get off the ship and they would meet their husband for the first time, that oftentimes the picture wasn't quite what...

MT: Yes, my mother had told me stories about that. [Laughs]

TI: Right, especially the age, sometimes they thought that they were going to marry someone younger, and I was wondering if that happened with your mom.

MT: I don't know that she, if she had any disappointments or anything like that. I don't think she had ever mentioned that, so she probably knew how old he was.

TI: So before I talk more about you, let's just talk about your siblings. Can you tell me your siblings kind of in the order, their birth order? So like who was the oldest?

MT: Oh, my sister was the firstborn, Kazuko, and then my brother, Tsutomu, then my brother Kiyoshi, then my younger sister Iku and my youngest who was Heidi, Hiroko.

TI: And your oldest sister, how much older was she than you?

MT: Four years.

TI: That's right, and then it seemed like almost every year after, you would have, your parents had children.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: When you think about your earliest memories, can you remember the home that you kind of first lived in and what that was like, the house?

MT: It was really just kind of a shack, you know. I couldn't even hardly say it was a house, they just refurbished the inside to make it into different rooms. But it was really just... I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: So when you say different rooms, so how many rooms were there? Like how many bedrooms?

MT: Well, you know, actually, we just had one large room that was kind of portioned off, partitioned off, so that, where they put the beds. But literally it was like living in, sleeping in one big room.

TI: And in that big room, did they have an area to eat, like a kitchen area and things like that?

MT: Well, no, the kitchen was separate from the bedrooms, but the rest of the house was, well, if I had to put it into words, it was kind of like a living area and then dining, and then they had a kitchen and then the bedrooms.

TI: Okay, but one bedroom, just one big...

MT: More or less, yes, it was quite a large room.

TI: And when you say "shack," did it have things like running water?

MT: Oh, yes, we did have running water.

TI: How about indoor plumbing for, like, a bathroom?

MT: No. We had a Japanese bath, and the toilet was outdoors.

TI: So like an outhouse?

MT: Outhouse, yes.

TI: And what kind of farming did your family do?

MT: Well, they called it truck farming, you know, growing vegetables for the market. And I don't know how many acres he had, acreage. Their property was all in one, but there were six families that they divided the property and they were each working their own area, growing crops. But mainly it was all market crops. My father used to take it to the market first thing in the morning.

TI: And when you say the market, was this down in Seattle?

MT: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: So like the Pike Place Market?

MT: Sort of, yeah, I don't know if it was Pike Place, but it was a market where the farmers would take their vegetables. I don't think... he didn't stay there to sell it like Pike Place now, so they must have had another market where it was...

TI: Yeah, there was another street, I think it was like Western Avenue where you would, the farmers would, I guess, sell to wholesalers there and then they would then distribute it to the stalls.

MT: Uh-huh, I think that was...

TI: But every morning he would do that.

MT: Yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So he would harvest the day before and then package all up, and then first thing in the morning, okay. So you mentioned six families. Were these all Japanese families?

MT: Yes.

TI: And how were the houses arranged on that property? Were they houses nearby or were they all scattered?

MT: Kind of scattered. But walking distance from one to the other, because it wasn't a really large acreage that was there. But for truck farming, I think you don't need a large acreage to do the farming. So each family had a little share.

TI: Now I'm curious, did each family, did all the families pretty much plant the same kind of vegetables or did they specialized in different types of vegetables?

MT: There might have been some differences but basically they were all for the market, so I think it was about the same.

TI: And what would that be? What were some of the vegetables your family raised, do you know?

MT: Carrots, onions, lettuce, sometimes it's seasonal vegetables, too, but basically I think those were spinach... let's see, what else? Green onions.

TI: And what would happen in the wintertime? Because I'm thinking in Seattle you probably don't raise very much in the winter.

MT: No, no. Yeah, in the wintertime there wasn't that much going on. I think there were some winter crops, but not a whole lot. So basically it was summer, spring and summer work.

TI: And so what would your dad do during the winter months when he didn't have to farm as much? What did he do? Did he still work the land?

MT: No, not so much.

TI: So maybe a time for him to take a break or something?

MT: Yes.

TI: Going to now your life, so a typical day, what type of things would you do? Like let's think of it as a school day. So describe from the morning kind of your routine on a typical day.

MT: Well, I'm trying to recall. Well, basically I think we just got up in the morning and had breakfast and we walked to school.

TI: And so when you had breakfast, what would be kind of a meal for breakfast?

MT: It was kind of a combination. Like my parents probably liked some Japanese-style food, but I know growing up that we were more peanut butter and jam kind of breakfast.

TI: And in the morning would you have to make a lunch for school or things like that? Did you pack a lunch?

MT: Well, when we were younger my mother used to pack a lunch for us, and I can still picture the bags lined up for each of us.

TI: So describe that. So when you say lined up, so there were... and yeah, there were six of you, but then maybe not all of them were going to school at the same time, but say there were four of you, four or five of you. What kind of, would there be bags, would they be boxes?

MT: Mainly I think we had bags, but she used to probably put in a sandwich or fruit. I don't remember getting too much in the way of desserts. [Laughs]

TI: So you wake up, get ready, have breakfast, lunches, you now, to go to school, how far was school?

MT: We walked to school, so it couldn't have been that far, but I can't remember... having to put it in mileage, I don't know. It wasn't that far.

TI: And the school you went to, was it South Park elementary?

MT: That's where I went to kindergarten and first grade, and then they closed that school and we started going over to Concord, up on the hill, it was a little farther.

TI: Now, to go to Concord, I'm trying to think, I may have this wrong, but did you have to cross the Duwamish River?

MT: Yes.

TI: Yeah, so you were on the other side of the Duwamish River.

MT: They had that drawbridge, I don't know if it's, I'm sure it's not there anymore.

TI: So you had a pretty long walk then. It wasn't like...

MT: Yeah, it was a pretty good walk, actually, to Concord.

TI: Yeah, from the bridge to Concord is a pretty decent walk. You were on the other side of the bridge.

MT: Oh, you know that area?

TI: Yeah, I know that area, I've driven through there. It's still there, and the bridge is still there. I think the elementary school is still there, too.

MT: Oh. That's right, I think once my husband and I, I think we did drive up there to the school on the hill.

TI: Yeah, so it's kind of an interesting neighborhood. When I first went through there, I wasn't expecting all these kind of old buildings. Because a lot of that area around there is more industrial, but here was this little pocket of South Park, and right by the bridge. So after school, what did you do on a typical day?

MT: Well, that all depended, I think, on what was there for us to do on the farm as far as that goes, but I don't remember having to work too much on the farm during our school year. It was more during the summer that we tried to help out.

TI: So the school year it was pretty much focusing more on your studies?

MT: Yes, because as it turns out, we were going to Japanese school after the regular elementary school. So by the time we got home it was dinnertime.

TI: So regular school would maybe end around three o'clock, and then after that you would, I guess, walk to Japanese school?

MT: Yes.

TI: And where was the Japanese school located?

MT: Well, it wasn't... well, you know where the Duwamish River and the bridge is. There was just, oh, just real close to there, there was an area where there were homes, and the school was built in there.

TI: Okay, so pretty close to the bridge and the river.

MT: Yeah, uh-huh, that area. So it was not too far out of the way to go to Japanese school after leaving. After you crossed the bridge, we'd just walk over to the school from there.

TI: And after school would you go home first and then Japanese school, or did you go directly?

MT: No, go directly.

TI: Now would you guys have a snack or something between regular school and Japanese school? It seems like a long time from lunch to dinner.

MT: [Laughs] I don't remember that we did, but I might be wrong, but I don't remember.

TI: Oh, so the Japanese school, who ran the Japanese school?

MT: There was a couple, the mister established a school. But that school, besides being a Japanese school, they had built... well, I'm sure it was part of the community, but they built a building that was sort of like a hall where the community could gather for programs or movies or whatever. And they used that building for Japanese school.

TI: I see. So describe that building. How big was it? Was it just like pretty much one large room, or was it more like a house, or how would you describe it?

MT: Well, I think it was, they had a wall dividing it, so that part of it was for the Japanese school part and then the other part, it was just open. Because they didn't need, we didn't have that many students actually, I mean, there weren't that many students there.

TI: And so like about how many? When you say not that many...

MT: Maybe about twenty or more, somewhere around there.

TI: And did they divide the class into different levels, too?

MT: Yes. Sort of comparable to our English school.

TI: But they only had two teachers, though, or did they have more teachers?

MT: No.

TI: Just two, okay. Going back to your school, regular school, how large was a regular class for you, a regular classroom? How many students were in your class?

MT: You mean grade school?

TI: Yeah, grade school.

MT: Oh, jeepers. [Laughs] I don't think there were... let's see, if I count, I really can't remember. I know it wasn't a very big class.

TI: So maybe under twenty or under fifteen?

MT: Well, maybe twenty, I would say.

TI: And your class in terms of the racial composition, like I'm curious, of that, say, twenty, about how many were Japanese?

MT: Maybe three or four.

TI: Okay, so kind of in the minority.

MT: Yes.

TI: And then who were the other students? Were they all white or were they other races?

MT: Yes, mainly white.

TI: And of that white population, I know the South Park area, and it used to be a heavily Italian community also. Were there very many Italians in class or was it about the same?

MT: Well, I'm sure they were Italians, but as long as I remember, I don't think we thought too much about their nationalities, but I know by the names that they were Italian.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Going back to the farm where the six families worked the farm, do you remember who owned the land that you worked?

MT: He was an Italian man.

TI: And do you recall the name?

MT: Well, I think in our conversation the other day and I think I said Desimone, but it was Desmond, I think.

TI: Desimone.

MT: Desmond.

TI: I think they pronounce it Desimone, D-E-S-I-M-O-N-E.

MT: I'm not sure, but I thought it was D-E-S-M-O-N-D, Desmond. I might be wrong on that, too. [Laughs]

TI: Now, as you grew up you talked about kind of the work you had to do on the farm mostly in the summer. Tell me about that. What kind of work did you do in the summertime?

MT: Well, a lot of it was bunching, we would peel onions and make them into bunches. We used... I can't think of what they were called, but it's the kind of, a weed that grows in water, and it was a place outside of Seattle in the country. Orillia, is there an area called Orillia?

TI: I think so, yes.

MT: Well, anyway, there was a Japanese farmer family that had this property that had like a pond, and this weed would grow in there. So every year my father used to go there and cut it and bring it home and dry it, and that's what we used to bunch onions, tie them.

TI: Oh, so it was strong enough after it dried out to be like a little tie.

MT: Yes, uh-huh, that's what we used. So we'd bunch onions, we'd bunch carrots, and our work was sometimes we'd have to weed new crops, whatever work needed to be done, we were asked to do or help out. [Laughs]

TI: And when you were done with your chores, or that work, it's summertime, and in the summertime in Seattle, the days are pretty long, I mean, it could be light until nine-thirty, ten o'clock. What would you guys do for fun after your chores were done?

MT: Oh, I suppose we got together with our neighbor friends and made up games when we were younger.

TI: Do you recall any games that you played?

MT: No, I don't really.

TI: How about -- and this may be because you're a farming family, you may not have done this, but do you recall any vacations? Did you guys ever go on a vacation someplace as a family?

MT: No, no. When we were out of school it was in the summertime when we were so busy on the farm. The only thing I remember is that Fourth of July was one holiday that my family, my father seemed to enjoy, and they used to have this baseball game at Columbus, is it Columbus Park or Columbia Park in town?

TI: In town? Yeah, there was a field, maybe on Columbia Street, but yeah, there was an old ballfield that my dad told me about.

MT: And they used to have Japanese teams there playing, and he really enjoyed that, so that would be the start of it. And then we'd go to this Chinese restaurant and have dinner before we came home or we'd go to the theater, see a movie, what was it, Atlas Theater.

TI: But this was like only the one day that...

MT: Yeah, that was kind of like a treat for us, so we look forward to every year, because it seemed like it worked out to be kind of a pattern.

TI: And when you would go to, like, the baseball game, was it pretty much, did other farmers also come into town and you had the city folk, was it pretty big?

MT: I don't remember seeing any friends that lived close to me that went to that. But my father, I think, is the one that kind of enjoyed it, so that's where we ended up. We looked forward to that.

TI: How about things like, in South Park they had the parks area, like a community center. Do you remember anything like that? Like basketball, things like that, a community hall?

MT: Well, I don't remember my family participating in anything like that, and I don't really remember too well what actually was there. See, my brothers never participated too much in sports.

TI: I interviewed the son of Gene Boyd who, that was his first job was working at that community center in South Park, so he remembered lots of the Japanese Americans there, so I was just curious if you remembered anything there.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: When we talked earlier, you mentioned how your house was nearby Boeing Field, and at one point they needed to expand Boeing Field and do more buildings, so the family had to move?

MT: Yes.

TI: About how old were you when that happened?

MT: Let's see. I must have been about fourteen or fifteen. Oh, wait, no, I was older. I was sixteen, I think.

TI: Sixteen So this is like right before the war started, okay. And so where did your family go?

MT: Well, my father found property that was about a mile and a half away from that, right by the Duwamish River.

TI: And when you say your father found property, was this something that he leased, he bought, or do you remember what kind of property it was?

MT: I don't know if I should say that, but he bought it. But in those days aliens were not allowed to buy property.

TI: Right, because they had the alien land laws, so unless you were... yeah, so a Japanese immigrant or Issei would be able to buy land.

MT: Yeah.

TI: So how did he buy land? It's okay, they won't get 'em now.

MT: [Laughs]

TI: I'm curious about how did he get the land then?

MT: Well, then he asked a family friend if he could use his name, asked him.

TI: Oh, so like an older Nisei?

MT: Older Nisei, yes.

TI: And so, but this was right before the war he did this.

MT: Yes.

TI: And do you know if he, when he bought it, did he have like a mortgage and all that?

MT: Oh, yes.

TI: So he was planning to pay it off over time?

MT: Yes.

TI: Okay, that's good to know. Before we go to the war, I'm just curious, do you recall, you talk about the Fourth of July, which is kind of a nice, fun day. Where there any other community events in South Park where the community got together and had maybe a picnic or other kind of...

MT: Yes, we had our annual Japanese school picnics, and I think there were other community picnics, too.

TI: So when you think about the language school, Japanese language school picnic, where would you have the picnic?

MT: That's a good question, I can't remember now. [Laughs] You know, I'm sorry, I can't remember.

TI: What would happen?

MT: Well, they would have a program of races for the kids, and we all packed big lunches, our parents did. So it was kind of a nice outing. I can't remember exactly what time of the year it was scheduled, but it was kind of like an annual affair.

TI: And generally it was kind of like in South Park, do you recall, did you go outside of South Park?

MT: Well, I don't think it was too far if it were outside of South Park there, but I'm sorry I just can't remember exactly where we used to have these picnics.

TI: Yeah, because I'm thinking of the area, and now it's not too far away, but might have been far then, but you had like Jefferson Park where I know they had a lot of, other people in Seattle would use Jefferson Park for picnics, but that'd be up on Beacon Hill.

MT: Yes, I remember that.

TI: And then more Lincoln Park, which is more by the Ocean and West Seattle, was another place that I heard serviced picnics, so I was just curious.

MT: No, I'm sure we didn't go that far.

TI: Yeah, today with the freeways and everything, those places are not that far away. But back then, it was probably more of a trek to do that.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I'm going to now go to December 7, 1941, and want you to kind of describe that day as much as you can remember. What were you doing when you first heard the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

MT: I can't remember what I was doing. It started out to be just an ordinary day until we heard on the radio what had happened. I suppose we spent the day more wondering what was going to happen, and I can't remember exactly when it was. There was a knock on the door, it was the sheriff, county sheriff who came.

TI: And just by himself or was he with anyone else?

MT: No, I think it was just... I just can picture just the one guy, but I didn't know if there were, there may have been two.

TI: How did you know he was a county sheriff?

MT: Well, the uniform. And he asked to search the house.

TI: And were you present, were you there when he was going through the house?

MT: Yes.

TI: So describe what he was doing.

MT: Well, he would pick up books, things like that, and whatever he felt that it was necessary for him to take, he did. I don't remember how much he took, but I know that he did take some things.

TI: And do you recall what kind of things he took?

MT: I couldn't say. Because at that time, I think we were just kind of an a daze, we didn't know what was going to, what was happening, you know.

TI: And while this was happening, what was your father doing?

MT: Well, I can't really recall what he was doing, except maybe kind of following the sheriff as he went through the house. But after his search was over is when he asked my father to go with him. So he was taken that night.

TI: Do you remember any reactions or responses from your mother or your older siblings or any of your siblings when this was going on? I'm trying to get a sense of the scene or what was going on when all this was happening. So your father was sort of following the county sheriff around as he was searching through things, and you mentioned how you were kind of in a daze. But when they decided to take your father away, were people just kind of watching this or did anyone say anything, do you remember?

MT: I don't remember that there was much said. I think we were all in shock, but we didn't know what was happening.

TI: So for your father to be picked up on December 7, 1941, the officials had these lists of people that they were going to, that were perhaps, they thought were suspicious, and generally they prioritized that list in terms of the people who they felt were more suspicious than others, and they would pick up people who were the most suspicious first. And so for them to pick up your father on December 7th, why do you think that was so? What was your father in the community that had the officials pick him up so soon?

MT: Well, I don't really know for a fact because I don't have the source, but I think that the main reason was that he was prominent -- not prominent, but he was participating in what they call the kenjinkai, Japanese association that they established in the area, and so he and the other members, several of them, they would attend fairs in Seattle and meet with people whenever there was occasions.

TI: And so within South Park, was he one of the community leaders?

MT: Well, like I said, it's a small community, but they did have the kenjinkai, and he was one of the members who, well, if he were elected to take office, he would help.

TI: So do you know, was he like an officer of the Japanese Association, like maybe, I'm not sure, the president or something?

MT: Well, I don't remember if he was ever president but I know that he did participate in that group.

TI: And do you recall if there were other men in South Park that were also picked up?

MT: Yes.

TI: And was it kind of that same night?

MT: Yes.

TI: Okay. And by chance to you know about how many?

MT: Well, I know of two others for sure, and my memory is kind of fading. [Laughs]

TI: No, you're doing really, really wonderfully. I'm asking really detailed questions, but I'm just trying to get as much as I can.

MT: Yes, I understand that. Like I said, there might have been about three or four that were picked up that night, but I know of definitely that one, two of them.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Yeah, so this is a good point to ask, what was your father like? If you had to describe sort of his personality, how would you describe him?

MT: He was a man of few words. He didn't say very much, but I think through his actions you can tell, or sometimes he didn't need words to say. But he was... he was someone who really believed in doing his part to help whatever, wherever help was needed. So that's the reason why he participated, but he wasn't a go-getter, a real outgoing personality, so I think it was kind of difficult for him, but he did whatever he could.

TI: And so same question about your mother. How would you describe your mother?

MT: She was more open, a very caring person. And, well, being my mother, the relationship is a little different than with a father.

TI: So describe that. When you say it's different with your mother versus your father, I think I know what you mean, but can you explain that a little bit more?

MT: Well, like I said, he wasn't really open, so sometimes you want to say something but you don't know if you should, whereas with my mother, I could, because I know that she would not react differently or wrongly or whatever. [Laughs]

TI: So you could be more open with your mother.

MT: Yeah.

TI: Now, if one of the children did something that they weren't supposed to, who in the family, your mother or father, who would be the disciplinarian?

MT: If it were something that was serious, it was my father. [Laughs]

TI: And what would he do, what would happen?

MT: Well, it would all depend. I don't remember what my crime was. [Laughs] But I ended up in the horse barn.

TI: So would he be just really stern with you?

MT: Yes.

TI: Essentially direct you to the horse barn?

MT: Yeah, I remember that.

TI: And how long would you have to kind of be in the horse barn before you could come back?

MT: Well, I think I was in there for quite a long time, but eventually I think my mother came to get me.

TI: So quite a long time, like an hour?

MT: Yeah, I don't even remember how old I was, but that kind of left an impression on me. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, it sounds more harsh, but I know they call it, like, time out, where you give a child a time out, but this sounds a little more harsh than a time out to the horse barn.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So after your father was picked up, do you know where they took him?

MT: Well, all we were told was he was being held at the immigration station and I can't remember, well, in Seattle. I can't remember how long he was there. But you know, there was no communication from them, from the people in charge, and when they moved him. I know we had a Filipino working for us who stayed with us, and I remember that it was kind of an awkward situation. He felt so sorry for us that he went to see my father and was able to see him. But before we knew it, he was transferred out.

TI: And so this Filipino, I guess, worker or friend, sort of drove into Seattle and saw your father at the immigration center. So what did he say? Did he say anything about how your father was doing?

MT: Yes. Well, as I recall, when he came back, he said that he was doing okay, but there wasn't really much that could be said because the future was unknown, they didn't know how long he was going to be held there.

TI: Now why did this Filipino man go visit your father?

MT: Well, because he felt so sorry for us because we were helpless. My mother didn't, she had no way of going to see him, and she can't converse with anyone who was at the immigration station.

TI: But did any family member go with this Filipino man?

MT: No, he went by himself. He took it on himself to go see him.

TI: Now how about like your older brother or older sister? Did they drive, could they have gone?

MT: My sister was going to college then, so no, she was driving. But I don't know, it's just that he, well, we didn't know whether we would be allowed to see him anyway. I think that was the thing that probably held us from making an effort. So that's why this worker decided that he would take a chance and go see if he can...

TI: If he was able to see him. And so what was that comforting to the family to know that when this Filipino man came back, that he could tell you that your father seemed to be okay?

MT: Well, whatever, I think that it was some consolation, but still, the future was so uncertain for all of us, too, at that time.

TI: And then you said after a few days your father then was moved someplace else.

MT: Yes, when they... I don't know how we found out, but they said that he wasn't there anymore.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Okay, now going back to you, so the next day, December 8th, I believe you were going to Cleveland High School at this point?

MT: Yes.

TI: So tell me what it was like on December 8th when you went back to school.

MT: I remember that day so well because I was afraid. I didn't know what the reaction would be from my classmates or whatever. I don't know why I felt that way but I remember dreading having to go to school that day. And then I had a classmate also, a Japanese girl, and we got together as soon as we saw each other in our classroom, and she was telling me that her father was picked up, too. Well, he was very active in Seattle. So it was a very difficult day, but we didn't encounter any problems, actually. Our classmates were tolerant enough.

TI: And at that time, Cleveland High School, like in a typical class, how many other Japanese would be in the class?

MT: I think in my class, well, the classroom, they were divided by alphabet. But it must have been about four or five, not too many.

TI: Okay. And the class being about how, like thirty students or so?

MT: Yeah.

TI: So about a sixth or so, fifth or sixth. And in the days following at school, were there ever any problems or discussions or incidents about the war that you can remember?

MT: I don't remember that. I think... I don't remember any, well, I just don't really remember that we discussed it openly or anything like that.

TI: How about things like school assemblies, talking about the war or anything like that?

MT: No, I don't remember if there were anything like that.

TI: Do you recall any of the teachers or anything, saying anything about Japanese or Japanese Americans?

MT: You mean during that time?

TI: Yeah, while you were at Cleveland High School.

MT: I don't think anybody really approached me.

TI: Now, I was curious, so Cleveland High School is pretty far away from your house. How did you get to school? Was there a bus, or how did you...

MT: No, there was no bus. Some of them must have dropped us off.

TI: Yeah, because it's pretty, it'd be a long walk to go.

MT: It is, it would have been, especially where we were living right before the war.

TI: So you must have gotten a ride from someone.

MT: Yes. I think my brothers, I think my brother was driving.

TI: Now when you were going to high school, did you still go to Japanese school after high school?

MT: Yes.

TI: So you were still taking... so then you would have to come all the way back into South Park and then go to Japanese school. So now thinking about your family during, after your father was taken away, how did your mother cope? I mean, your dad did so much, he was the head of the household, pretty much take care of the farm, how was your mother handling all this?

MT: Well, let's see. I think she sought help from family friends like the fellow who helped us buy the property and all. So our friends helped us as much as they could. I don't remember.

TI: And what happened to the farm? Because I'm guessing that with your father gone, the family could not make the payments.

MT: That's right.

TI: So what happened?

MT: Well, the main arrangements with this Italian man, they would take over the farm and work the farm. But I don't know what the financial arrangements were, and no way could my father make payments on that, the ones who were in camp. But during the war, an agent came into camp and said that, "You asked my father to sell the property," so that's what happened. My father had no choice.

TI: Do you know how much he sold it for or if it was, whether or not it was a fair deal?

MT: Well, like I said, we had just started buying it, so I don't know the details. It was more like a total loss, I'm sure.

TI: Was your father bitter about it or did you ever get a sense of how he felt about having to sell?

MT: No. Well, he may have had regrets, but by that time, I had... no, I'm sorry, I'm getting my timing kind of confused here.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so I'm going to bring you back to when your father was, first went to the immigration center in Seattle, and then he was then taken someplace else, but eventually the family found out where he was, you weren't sure how, but where did they take your father after the immigration center?

MT: As far as I know, he ended up in Missoula, Montana. I don't think there was any interim area where he was taken, I don't recall that. But it took a while to find out where he was.

TI: And do you recall whether or not your father was able to send the family a letter? Do you recall correspondence?

MT: Not right away, but I think that eventually we started the correspondence.

TI: As part of that, I mean, when he was at Missoula, you were able to write letters to your father. And let me get these in order here, but we were able to see four letters that you wrote to your father. And your niece actually typed them out for us, and so I was wondering if you could just read these letters. The first one is dated January 6, 1942, so this is about a month after he was picked up. So here's the letter, could you read that for us?

MT: "Dear Papa, how are you getting along? We are all in good health, so do not worry about us. Here in Seattle it is still very cold. There is ice everywhere, and everybody goes skating, even on Hashimoto's garden. We sent you the boots today, also your nightgown, four pairs of wool stockings, handkerchiefs, pen and ink, writing paper and envelopes. We hope they will reach you safely. Mother wants to know if you need any shirts or overalls. Please write us for anything you need. We couldn't get licenses for our cars yet. We are now trying to transfer the car titles to Yoshi's name, then we can get the licenses. We will send the cards to you to sign. We borrowed one thousand dollars from Carlo and five hundred dollars from a friend to pay Jimmy. Mama got the rest. We got the signature card a few days ago, so I think we can get the five hundred dollars from your account. All of your friends send you their best regards. Goodbye."

TI: Do you remember writing that?

MT: No, it was so many years ago, but I was kind of surprised to see this.

TI: It's almost like your role was communicating for the family all this information, that you were the one that, I guess you probably talked with your mother and you figured out what needed to be communicated to your father, and you wrote it down and mailed it to them.

MT: Yeah, I was wondering where my sister was, the oldest in the family. [Laughs]

TI: You mentioned she might have been in college at this time?

MT: No, no. Well, she was going to school, that's true. I think she went to the university until the war, I mean, not the war, but evacuation. And this is while we were still living right in Seattle.

TI: Yeah, so we're still in Seattle. So here's another one about almost three weeks later, on January 25, 1942. So why don't you go ahead and read this one, too.

MT: "Dear Father, how are you? Here at home everyone is in good health and we are getting along all right. On Friday, the signature card you signed reached us, but we are still waiting for a letter from you. For the first time since the cold weather started, we planted some onion and radish seeds. Snow spoiled most of the vegetables except spinach and onion. Tomorrow is the day when the trial starts, isn't it? We don't know when yours begins. Mother says that she wants to go and see you soon. We are all waiting for the day when you will be able to come home to us. Tell Mr. Hisayasu that his family is all right. Please take care of your health and write to us as soon as you can. Goodbye. P.S., Mama might go to see you very soon."

TI: So this is when he was still in Seattle, he was in Seattle and they were going to do a hearing for him. And then there's a break, so after the January 25th, your next letter comes in April. So you're still in South Park, but I think at this point your father probably has been moved at this point, this is April 3, 1942.

MT: "Dear Papa, how are you getting along? At home we are all in good health. Mama wants to write to you, but she is quite busy now. She will write later. We are cutting spinach, but it is cheap. We have an order for two hundred boxes Monday. Radishes are big now, too. Papa, all the other fathers write that they are working in camp, but you don't say anything about what you do during the day. Don't you do any work? Mama wants to know all about it, and she says to write us more often, maybe once a week. This week is spring vacation for us, but Kazuko is still going to school. We are sewing some clothes. We have begun a little packing for evacuation, but we do not know when we have to go. I think it will be quite soon. They will put us on the Puyallup Fairgrounds for a while. If Iku bakes some cookies this week, we will send them to you. We also have a box of Girl Scout cookies saved for you. Please tell us if you want anything and we will send it. Papa, I have written several letters to you, but you don't give me any, you send them all to Mama. We want some letters from you, too. We received the property reports you wrote about on Wednesday. I guess that is all, take care of yourself and please write to us soon. Goodbye."

TI: Are these kind of reminding you of anything as you go through this?

MT: [Laughs] I'm surprised, I'm really surprised reading these letters.

TI: What surprises you?

MT: I don't remember them.

TI: How about the information there? Is there anything that... I mean, you mentioned names of people, do they kind of bring back some memories?

MT: Yes, yes.

TI: So what kind of things?

MT: Oh, I'm really wondering how people that we knew back then, whatever happened to them, because it's been so long, I especially have lost touch with everyone.

TI: In the first letter when you mentioned, like, borrowing money from Carlo and a friend to pay Jimmy, do you know what that, was that for the land, or do you know what that was for?

MT: Yeah, it must have had something to do with it because Jimmy is the person whose name was on the property.

TI: Okay. And then one more letter, this is right before you go to, or not Puyallup, but probably leave for Pinedale, and this is April 30, 1942.

MT: "Dear Father, we sent your suit and hat today. We hope they will reach you safely. Also, we are sending ten dollars in money order with this letter. Please let us know if anything new turns up. Last week we received typhoid shots about four days apart in preparation for evacuation. My arms got sore and I stayed out of school two times. From tomorrow noon we can't go inside the city limits, so we can't go to school anymore. We quit yesterday. The principal told us we can get our credits and grades and that I can get my diploma without finishing the course. Kazu is quitting tomorrow. Today the Higurashis' left to go Puyallup and the Hisayasus' went to Spokane. We didn't tell you very much about what has happened in South Park. Tetsuo Nobuyama got married to Kiyo in March, and Takashi Mukasa married again last week. About a week ago Tsu sold his car to a boy, and he's awfully lonesome without it. Maybe we might sell the Plymouth, too. I know you wrote me a letter, but I couldn't read it. Would you try to write in English next time? We are all very well and are getting along okay. Do not worry about us. When we learn when we are moving, we will let you know right away. Goodbye." Oh, my.

TI: Yeah, I mean, it's like there's lots of things you probably have forgotten about, but these letters are precious.

MT: Yes, I know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Do you remember kind of like the last day of school at Cleveland?

MT: There's one thing that I remember. We had a vice-principal, and he never... I mean, I always thought that he was kind of stern-looking, and I never really got close to him. But on the last day of school, he called me into the office and I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect. But what I remember is that he apologized for what was happening. I think that really touched me, you know, and he wished me well. I'm sorry. Somehow that has always remained with me.

TI: Yeah, that's a special story. Do you remember his name?

MT: Yes, Mr. Imus.

TI: I'm sorry?

MT: Imus, I-M-U-S.

TI: And do you know if he did this with other Japanese American students?

MT: Not that I know of.

TI: And when he apologized, did he talk a little bit more about what he was apologizing for?

MT: Well, he was sorry for what was happening, that we were being evacuated.

TI: Did he say anything like it was wrong or anything like that?

MT: No, he didn't say that it was wrong, but I was in my senior year and it's right before graduation. Anyway, I do remember that.

TI: In the third letter, you wrote about that, I think you said, "They will put us on the Puyallup Fairgrounds for a while." And I know you didn't go to Puyallup, you went to Pinedale.

MT: Yes. I don't know what that was about now.

TI: So I wonder if they somehow changed, because all the Seattle folks went to Puyallup, and maybe South Park they weren't quite sure where they...

MT: Well, I think they took the city limits line and sort of, you know... so I don't know if there were people in the South Park area that were within the area and went to Puyallup with the rest of the city people or not, but I know that definitely we were not.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So let's... so when you're leaving the farm, how did you prepare the farm when you left? What did you do before you left the farm? Did you find like a tenant? You said I think you had an Italian or something that was going to take it over?

MT: Yes.

TI: And like the equipment and all that?

MT: We left everything.

TI: How about personal things like your furniture or extra clothing? Where did all that go?

MT: Well, it must just have been dumped, I would imagine, what we couldn't take with us, because we were so limited what we could take.

TI: But were you able to store things?

MT: Well, I think my mother said that she had a trunk of some things, whatever she could put in there, and she did. And so I'm sure there were things that she had hoped would remain. [Laughs]

TI: So she left those at the farm.

MT: At the farm, yes.

TI: And do you know if she was able to recover those things?

MT: Well, I think she said that they did recover the trunk, but there were things missing out of it, you know. But I think as far as most of the things, I think she did. But I don't think there were, it was a whole lot, but whatever they could.

TI: How about things like you mentioned the Plymouth, the car? Were you able to sell it before?

MT: Yes, they got rid of all the cars.

TI: So as you, you may not have known this, but because your father signed the papers in camp or something, there was nothing to come home to. The farm was sold and you got the trunk, your mom got you the trunk, and there was nothing else left for them in South Park.

MT: That's right.

TI: So going to the day that you leave South Park, can you describe, some people call it "evacuation day," or the day that you had to leave South Park. What was that like?

MT: Well, all I remember is that we all kept saying, "Where are we going?" because they don't tell you where.

TI: Because you knew you weren't going to Puyallup at that point, you were going someplace else.

MT: Yes. So when we got on the train, there were there military people, and we noticed when we got on the train in the cars, they had all the blinds down on the windows, so you just keep wondering, "What's going on? What's gonna happen to us?"

TI: And when you say "we," were all six children and your mother traveling together?

MT: Yes.

TI: Any memories of the train ride down to California that you can remember, that stands out?

MT: Well, of course, I think everyone remembers that they had these military people with their rifles, so it was not a pleasant ride. And mainly the thing is we didn't know where we were going.

TI: Now, did anyone talk to the guards or the soldiers?

MT: I don't know if anyone did or not, they might have, but I didn't. I don't remember. [Laughs]

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So you reached the Pinedale Assembly Center. What were your first impressions?

MT: Isn't that strange? I don't really recall. Well, it was altogether a different experience for us, being taken to a place and having to live in a barrack, and I remember those barracks were not finished well. They had walls, but then the top was all open all through the barrack.

TI: So you could pretty much hear...

MT: Everything that went on within that whole barrack.

TI: Those different rooms, yeah. And describe your living area in the barrack. I mean, what was it like for the seven of you?

MT: Well, it was pretty miserable, I mean, because we had all our cots lined up, but then there's no room for privacy or anything because you're limited to amount of space.

TI: And so during your time at Pinedale, what did you do?

MT: I don't remember anything that really stands out in my mind about what we did. As much as possible, I suppose, you try to get together with your friends, people that you know, and think of something to do. Eventually they did try to organize something so they would have programs or something periodically, but since it was a temporary thing, I think it was very difficult for them, the leaders to really establish anything that was more in-depth.

TI: Now, did you spend more time with your friends or family? Who did you spend your time with?

MT: I think mostly with friends.

TI: And how about like eating or the food or mess hall? What was that like?

MT: Well, it takes a little getting used to, the kind of food that we were eating.

TI: And why was that? What was it about the food that was different?

MT: Well, for us, basically, we grew up on Japanese food but you're not getting Japanese food in the mess hall.

TI: And you were probably used to really fresh food, too, coming from a farm. In my notes, when you were at Pinedale, your father was released and reunited with the family at Pinedale. Do you remember that?

MT: Yes. My mother and us... excuse me. My mother and we were in line at the mess hall to get in, and one of our family friends, she wasn't in line but she came to my mother and said, "Someone dropped off a suitcase in front of your room," so it apparently had my father's name on it but there was no word from anyone as to what was happening. So my mother rushed back to our apartment and saw the suitcase, and I think she almost fainted because she didn't know what to make of it, you know. But it was not too long after that that my father came. So what was a frightening thing turned into a happy occasion.

TI: Oh, interesting. So I didn't catch this the first time. So when your mother rushed back and just saw the suitcase, what do you think went through her mind?

MT: Well, something had happened to him and then they delivered his belongings.

TI: That maybe he had died or something?

MT: Yeah, there was no word from the office saying that he was being returned.

TI: And so no one told her anything in terms of what was going in.

MT: No.

TI: And so how long did she have to wait until she saw your father?

MT: You know, I can't remember that. I can't really say, but he wasn't too long. But I thought, gee, if they had taken time, the office had taken time to let us know that he was being returned, it would have helped my mother along. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, I didn't think about that when you first told me about that, but yeah, what would go through a person's mind when a suitcase would just show up?

MT: Yeah.

TI: And when you saw your father, how was he? Did he change at all during that time?

MT: You know, I can't really remember if I had any... right now I can say that I don't remember if there were that many changes in him. There must have been, but I don't remember.

TI: How about changes in the family routine? You mentioned spending more time with your friends and probably eating with your friends or hanging out. Did the routine change when your father returned or came back to the family?

MT: Not so much. I don't think at that time that we ate too much as a family in camp. I think you have the tendency to eat with your friends, especially at my age, I mean, at that age. But it was nice to know that my father was back.

TI: So I'm thinking about you and your, just graduated, graduating from high school, what was the social scene like for you? All of a sudden you have lots of Japanese Americans your age with a lot of time on their hands. What was the social scene like? Were there things like mixers or dances or things like that?

MT: Yes.

TI: How was that for you?

MT: Well, I don't know that in Pinedale that I participated that much in dancing or going to dances or anything like that, unless you already had a boyfriend or whatever. [Laughs] I don't think we went out too much as a bunch of girls to dances, but they had programs and they tried to find some kind of entertainment.

TI: Okay. Before we go to Tule Lake, any other Pinedale memories? Any other events or anything, memories about Pinedale?

MT: No, nothing that really stands out. I think a lot of my memories are fading. [Laughs]

TI: No, you're doing really well.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So let's go to Tule Lake. So the family is now transferred to Tule Lake, do you remember kind of that first day at Tule Lake and what that was like?

MT: Well, there's nothing that really stands out in my mind, but we were probably among the last group to go to Tule Lake, so we were put into the barrack that was at the very corner, and there was a row of barracks on one end of the camp, but there was like a ditch separating our row of barracks, and so they named us "Alaska." [Laughs]

TI: So you were Alaska.

MT: Yeah, everybody that lived on the other side of the ditch, they called us Alaska. So we were in the very corner of that camp, the last barrack, honestly.

TI: And do you know why they called it Alaska? Was it just because it was so far away?

MT: Yeah.

TI: Now, were there any, I was wondering if there were any... I think people from Alaska actually went to Minidoka, but do you know if anyone from Alaska was in your area?

MT: No. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, it was just being really, really on the end.

MT: Yeah.

TI: So what's it like being on the very, very end? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

MT: Well, I don't think it really bothered me that much. I don't know if it was any different than being across, in the barracks across from... well, I don't know if it was a canal, but anyway, it was just that name kind of reverberated. [Laughs]

TI: And how many, when you say Alaska, that area, how many, I guess, blocks were in that area?

MT: Four. I think there were four blocks, there were four.

TI: So as you, if you're in a different part of the camp, Tule Lake, and you just told people you're from Alaska, they would know where you were from, way up on the end there. So describe your, the living quarters. Did they improve going from Pinedale to Tule Lake?

MT: Not much. Of course, the walls were unfinished, whatever you call those, two-by-fours were all exposed. The only thing is that in Pinedale, they had walls up to a certain point and then the rest of it was all open, so like I said, you could hear from one end of the barrack to the other what was being said in the room. But then this was...

TI: So here they built the walls all the way up to the top?

MT: Yeah, they did. They were finished up to the top. I don't know that I felt that it was much of an improvement.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: When you were at Tule Lake, did you have a job?

MT: Yes, I worked for the block manager.

TI: And what did that mean?

MT: Kind of office work, you know, I mean, did whatever, little bit of typing.

TI: And what would a block manager do?

MT: Well, he'd more or less oversee any problems within the block, actually.

TI: And then when you would do typing or reports or office work, what kind of forms or information would you handle?

MT: I don't know what they had too much in the way of forms, if it was just a message that he wanted to get out or correspond with somebody, a department or whatever. There wasn't a whole lot of work as far as that goes.

TI: And so what would you spend most of your time doing then?

MT: Probably talking. [Laughs]

TI: Now were you there when they did like the "loyalty questionnaire" at Tule Lake?

MT: Yes, I was.

TI: And so describe that process. Did the block manager have to do different things and you helped him with that? Describe the whole process.

MT: You know, I'm sorry, I don't really remember too clearly anything that stands out in my mind right now. I know they had meetings within the block to tell people what to expect, and then you were given the forms.

TI: And during those meetings when they explained what was going on, what were those meetings like? Was it like a camp administrator just talking, or was there discussion questions?

MT: Well, I think if it were a block meeting, it'd be in the mess hall with the block manager addressing the group.

TI: And were there lots of questions?

MT: Not a whole lot. I think it became more kind of an individual thing within the families, what they decide to do about it.

TI: And what did your family do when it came to the "loyalty questionnaire"?

MT: Well, there was no problem within my family, we all agreed it was "yes."

TI: I think... and I'm not sure, at some point I know your older brothers left camp to go do work outside. Was it after the "loyalty questionnaire" or before? Do remember about when that happened?

MT: It was after.

TI: Okay. The thing about the camps, Tule Lake and the other ones, brings Japanese Americans from different parts of the country, bring 'em together. Here you grew up in kind of a farming community in South Park, and now at Tule Lake you're with people from different parts of the country, I think in particular California, I think a lot from Sacramento area. Could you, were there differences between the Japanese from like the rural areas around Seattle and maybe the Japanese from like a Sacramento? Were there differences that you saw in terms of how they did things?

MT: You know, right offhand I can't think of anything. I think there were differences, but I can't really put my finger on anything to bring it out.

TI: Like in the Alaska area, were they all from more the Pacific Northwest?

MT: Yes.

TI: I wonder why they... yeah, that's so funny they called it Alaska. Before we move on from Tule Lake, any other memories or things that you recall about Tule Lake? Maybe with your parents, did anything happen with your parents or your siblings, do you recall?

MT: No. We pretty much tried to do what we can to keep ourselves busy. And my sister worked in the hospital. She went on to a medical career.

TI: And which sister worked in the hospital?

MT: Well, my oldest sister, yes.

TI: Okay. How about at Tule Lake, I asked earlier about Pinedale, the social scene. How about Tule Lake? There must have been more dances and things like that.

MT: Yes, yes, there was more organized entertainment and that type of thing, more activities.

TI: Now, did you date when you were at Tule Lake?

MT: [Laughs]

TI: I'm going to put you on the spot there.

MT: Not too much, but some. [Laughs]

TI: And so what was that like? How would you date at Tule Lake? What would a typical date be?

MT: Well, you could have been, there wasn't too much choice actually because you're within the limited space. But if you, sometimes we would go to a dance if there was one that we hear of. But it was pretty limited.

TI: But would the boy come to, like your room, the barrack, and pick you up and go, or would you just meet at the dance or how would that work?

MT: Generally he would come pick and pick me up.

TI: So it was really a date then.

MT: Sort of. [Laughs] But you just feel confined, there isn't much you can do.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So you're now in Vale, or Ontario, I'm not sure exactly how close they are. But you now see your brothers, and they're surprised to see you. So what happens next?

MT: Well, fortunately there was a family friend, it's a couple, they were the ones that took my brother in and took care of him. And if I had known, I wouldn't have left camp. Anyway, they took me in, too, until I was able to find work, since I was out there now, you know. So I found domestic work.

TI: Was it kind of a live-in domestic work?

MT: Yes.

TI: So describe the family that you did this with. Who were they?

MT: It was a Jewish couple with one child. They were okay, but you know, you just always keep wondering what really, how really they feel about having us, because that Ontario was, there were a lot of people that were not afraid to call us names. You'd be walking, you'd go in a movie theater and they'd kick your seat and call you a dirty name.

TI: So was this kind of the place that you got the worst treatment when you think of name calling and things like this?

MT: Yes.

TI: Now why do you think Ontario? You mentioned earlier there were quite a few Japanese Americans who moved there.

MT: And I think that even made the situation worse when they came in, made themselves more visible, and I think maybe the people that were living there just felt that way, I don't know. I did have one bad experience. This home that I was working in was on a hill, and it was not a long walk, but then down the hill I could walk into town when I had time. And one day, I was passing this field, and the whole field, lot was empty, and so there was homes on the other side that would have been another street. And I was walking along going towards town and I saw this dog coming across that field, and it attacked me and tore my coat. So I know the people that were living in those homes let that dog out.

TI: They set the dog at you?

MT: I'm sure. Otherwise the dog wouldn't have seen me from way over there, why did he come and attack me?

TI: So that's really dangerous, that was a physical attack.

MT: Yeah, tore my coat. So that was not a good feeling for me.

TI: And how was it for your brothers? Did they feel the same type of things?

MT: They didn't say very much, and I think they may have heard things, but they maybe were able to brush it off, which is about what you have to do in most cases, because it doesn't do any good to really talk back.

TI: Did you ever have any conversations with the family you were staying with, this Jewish couple? I'm wondering because oftentimes Jews are also discriminated against because of their religion. Did they feel similar things in Ontario, or did you ever talk about...

MT: No, I never did get into a conversation with them about that.

TI: And did they ever, you get a conversation about the camps or anything, where you came from? Did they ever ask you questions about that?

MT: No, nothing more than, "What happened to your family?" or, "Where is your family?" Because at that time they were still in camp. So they knew about it.

TI: But no discussions about it.

MT: I don't recall.

TI: Going back to now your parents, after the "loyalty questionnaire," I think you mentioned how they went from Tule Lake, and then they transferred to Minidoka?

MT: Yes.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And then from Minidoka they came to Ontario? And was this when you were still living there in Ontario, the area?

MT: Yes, I was still doing housework.

TI: Okay. So when they came, did you all then come together back as a family or did you stay in your job and they did something else? Or what did they do? What did your parents do?

MT: Well, it was very hard for them, they found work, whatever they could find, day work, more or less. My poor father. [Laughs] I think he got a job helping shear sheep or something, and he was a small man, he wasn't very tall, and I don't know how he was, but when he came home, he was so tired, I just felt so sorry for him. But that wasn't the only kind of work, they did whatever they could, it was very difficult for them because most of it was really manual, and he wasn't used to the heavy labor.

TI: But then eventually they went from Ontario to Spokane?

MT: Yes. Well, eventually what happened was they, well, initially when they came out there was no place for them except they had these farm labor camp type of things, they temporarily put up barracks, and they were staying there. And they eventually moved, they found some small piece of land, and so they wanted to try farming on their own.

TI: And this is in Ontario?

MT: It's still in, yeah, it wasn't Ontario, it was Nyssa, which is a neighboring town, but that's what they did. They worked that for a while until they were told about property in Spokane.

TI: And this farm labor camp in Nyssa, did you ever go visit?

MT: Yes, I did.

TI: And what was it like? Describe the...

MT: Sort of like, well, it was almost like being back in camp again. [Laughs]

TI: Because they had barracks again?

MT: Yes.

TI: And so about how many barracks did you see?

MT: Not a whole... I can't remember, I couldn't tell you right now. It wasn't that big.

TI: But similarities in terms of barracks, but then I suppose no barbed wire, though, no fencing.

MT: No.

TI: And generally were they families or were they more just workers?

MT: Well, I think it was a mix. There were some families but there were some that were just groups of people that were there to work.

TI: And how did your parents feel about being at a farm camp like that? Was that something that they thought was a good thing, they enjoyed it, or it was something they wanted to move away as quickly as possible?

MT: Yeah.

TI: So why was that? What made it so difficult for them?

MT: Well, for one thing, my father was not used to doing the kind of work that he was forced to do, because there was no choice if you wanted to work. I think he was always a farmer, I mean, his own farm, so they did find a small piece of land and they moved and they ran that farm for a short time before they moved to Spokane.

TI: And so why just for a short time? Why didn't they stay longer?

MT: Oh, because they bought the property in Spokane.

TI: Okay, so a better piece of property.

MT: Yeah. And by that time, my brothers were old enough to take over the farm, so it wasn't so much my father's responsibility.

TI: Okay. And so is that where after the war the family settled?

MT: Yes.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: But then you went a different path, so let's go back to your life. So from the Ontario area, where did you go next?

MT: Well, for a short time I did stay with the family in Nyssa, and by that time my sister was already in medical school and she came home on vacation one year. And I told my mother that I wanted to go back to Philadelphia with her. And they said okay, so I went to Philadelphia to work. Although my excuse was that I was going to go to school, I never did really get to school, but I did start working.

TI: Oh, so you said you might go to college or someplace in Philadelphia? And what kind of work did you find in Philadelphia?

MT: It was office work.

TI: And how did you like living in Philadelphia?

MT: Well, it's a big city, but having my sister close by was kind of nice. Then I met some girls at the... what did they call that? Well, the place to stay, the Quakers were running this house where they put up people coming from camp until they found...

TI: Kind of like a hostel?

MT: Yes, yes. I met a couple of girls, and so we decided to find an apartment and room together, so the three of us found a place.

TI: Were there quite a few Niseis in Philadelphia then?

MT: Well, apparently there were, but then the city is so big that it was hard to really get to meet people. So they had this International House, there was a Japanese girl working there, and she knew the problem. So she scheduled sort of a get-together once a month and they had kind of dancing or whatever. So we met some people through there, go down there.

TI: And in my notes they said that this is where you met your future husband in Philadelphia. So was it at one of these kind of events that you met him?

MT: Yes. He was stationed in Baltimore at Camp Holabird.

TI: Okay, so he was, was that with intelligence, or what kind of work did he do in the service?

MT: Well, sort of intelligence.

TI: And so the two of you started dating from that?

MT: [Laughs] Yes.

TI: So tell me about that. What was that like? Because he's Baltimore and you're in Philadelphia, so it's kind of long range.

MT: Well, yeah, we met at this dance and started corresponding. And he told me that he was getting discharged at the end of the year, and he wanted to know if I would marry him so he could bring me home. [Laughs]

TI: That's pretty fast.

MT: It was.

TI: And so what did you think about that?

MT: I guess being young, you're innocent, so I went along with it. And we contacted our parents, and it was kind of strange because my mother said, "If it's the Taketas that had a lot of children, I remember meeting his mother in camp in the hospital." My mother-in-law had a lot of health problems, so apparently she was in the same hospital room with my mother.

TI: This is at Tule Lake?

MT: At Tule Lake. So she said she knew the family.

TI: So it was okay with her?

MT: Yeah. I mean, there was no reason for her to object.

TI: Well, kind of a small world that your mom knew his mom from Tule Lake, and then you meet in all places, Philadelphia. So it seems fast to me, but I'm curious, so how many dates did you go on before he proposed to you?

MT: Not many. [Laughs] Once a month maybe.

TI: For about how long? For about a year?

MT: No, not even a year because I think it was a St. Patrick's dance that we met, and that was in March, and we got married in November. [Laughs]

TI: So half a dozen dates or so and you're married. Wow.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: And so after you got married and he's discharged, what happens next?

MT: Well, we came back to California.

TI: And so this is where he was from?

MT: Yes, his family was here.

TI: In the San Jose area?

MT: Yes.

TI: And what kind of work did his family do?

MT: Well, his parents were more, they were elderly and they didn't do any work. But the girls, well, the older daughter was doing housework and the younger ones were still finishing school.

TI: And then your husband, what kind of work did he get into?

MT: Well, he didn't know what he was gonna do because we were only twenty-one when we got married, and he hadn't had much experience actually. But he found work with this trucking outfit and he started driving.

TI: And then what about you, what did you do?

MT: Well, I worked for the county, did office work.

TI: And did the two of you have children?

MT: Yes, we did.

TI: And how many children did you have?

MT: We have three.

TI: Three, okay. And, boy, I'm thinking of your life, because I know South Park quite a bit, and it is more kind of rural, and then to end up in San Jose, California, what are the differences in terms of when you think about the different communities of like a South Park and now San Jose? What would you say are the big differences between maybe the Japanese American community from what you knew in South Park to here?

MT: Well, South Park... you know, San Jose when I came, when I first got married, was nothing like it is now. It was farm town.

TI: How about the historic area, though? They have the downtown San Jose, or the Japantown San Jose. Was that here?

MT: Yeah, that basically was here. They had a few more Japanese stores like the dry goods store and all. So I didn't feel that it was so different when I first came here. I think that if I came here now, there'd be quite a contrast.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. I suppose you're right, because then maybe it wasn't that different, but I just see it now and I see San Jose as much more developed and urban than South Park, so that's why I think that.

MT: Yeah, because San Jose was like, you didn't have to go far, you'd find a fruit ranch or orchard, but things are so different now, you don't see anything like that anymore. Everything is built up.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So I've come to the end of my questions, and I wanted to ask, is there anything else that you want to share that I haven't asked about, about your life? We went all the way from the beginning all the way up to San Jose. Is there anything else that maybe I missed that you wanted to talk about?

MT: I don't think so, I think you covered just about everything. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, I'm going ask your niece if there's anything else. Paula, anything else that you could think of that I could ask about? Okay. So let me ask this on camera. So we're going all the way back to when the war started, you were a student at Cleveland High School, a senior. But when you left, you had to leave before you actually graduated at Cleveland. And I think they said that you would get your credits and you would still get your diploma. One question, did you ever receive your diploma?

MT: Yes, I did.

TI: And how did you get that?

MT: In the mail.

TI: Okay, and you were at Pinedale, they sent it to you?

MT: Yes.

TI: Okay. I guess the question is, if the war had not happened, what do you think you would have done after you had graduated from Cleveland High School? What do you think, what would your life have looked like?

MT: That's a good question. I've never really thought about it because I remember when I was growing up, when we were asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and you know, it was a time when very few Oriental people were able to get the kind of jobs they wanted because so much of it was closed to them. So people used to say it's better if you stick to the kind of work that anybody can get. You don't set your sights on something that is not open to you. But... I'm losing my train of thought.

TI: So when you were asked that question: "What do you want to do when you grow up?" how did you answer that?

MT: Well, I was, I can't remember what it was, what would have been my first choice, but I started thinking in terms of maybe being a stenographer or something like that, the possibility of getting a job working with someone in that kind of a field, but I don't know what I would have...

TI: So possibly doing office work maybe in downtown Seattle or something like that?

MT: Yeah.

TI: Okay. Well, so Misa, thank you so much, you did a really, really good job. I learned a lot from this, it was really interesting, so thank you.

MT: Oh, I tried my best. I hope that, well, I'm trying to relay what I feel is my, in my mind what happened. I hope it's pretty much to the truth.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.