Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sakaye Aratani Interview
Narrator: Sakaye Aratani
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 11, 2017
Densho ID: denshovh-asakaye-01-0005

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TI: So backing up a little bit, on December 7, 1941, what were you doing, or how did you hear about the attack at Pearl Harbor?

SA: Well, it was a big shock. And there's a place called Terminal Island, and we had several friends living there, and they had to leave within twenty-four hours. They had no other choice, so we opened up our home and invited three families to come and live with us until they were able to relocate. And then after that we all relocated, but in the beginning, that's what happened.

TI: Where were you when you just first heard?

SA: Oh, this was in Gardena.

TI: Tell me how you heard. Who told you, or how did you hear about Pearl Harbor?

SA: I think my father told me. It was unbelievable at the first.

TI: And what were you thinking would happen?

SA: Well, I never thought we would have to evacuate, so I thought we were gonna just stay put, but things have changed.

TI: And how about your father, was he worried? Because he wasn't a U.S. citizen, you were a citizen.

SA: No, no, he was not worried.

TI: But then when they had people leave Terminal Island, how about the people who stayed with you? Did you talk with them?

SA: Well, it was very temporary, but they had to leave so quickly that they only stayed a few days. But yeah, it was chaos.

TI: And when you started hearing about the instructions that you had to leave, so tell me what you did or the family did. You have this big nursery, you have all this business, all this property, the chickens...

SA: Everything had to be sold. Rock bottom price, yeah, it was just like giving everything away.

TI: So you said you were maybe the last Japanese in Los Angeles.

SA: I think so, because I had to take care of the chickens before I could leave.

TI: So everyone else was sort of rounded up and left on buses and things, so how did you leave Los Angeles?

SA: How did I what?

TI: Yeah, how did you leave Los Angeles, as the last person?

SA: Oh, well, I... oh, my uncle, he took a group to Reedley first, and then came back after me, so that I could leave with him.

TI: And so he had a car and just picked you up?

SA: And so I enjoyed the family in Reedley.

TI: But at this point, all the other Japanese had already left.

SA: Already left.

TI: And they left to, like, the assembly centers and places like that?

SA: I really don't know.

TI: And do you remember kind of the date that you left, about when?

SA: Hmm?

TI: Do you remember like the time or the date, what day you left Los Angeles?

SA: No, I have no record.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright (c) 2017 Densho. All Rights Reserved.