Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elsie Uyematsu Osajima Interview
Narrator: Elsie Uyematsu Osajima
Interviewers: Brian Niiya (primary); Karen Umemoto (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: November 29, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-451-9

<Begin Segment 9>

BN: So anyway, with Gila, there was the two camps, Butte and Canal, and you think you were in Butte, you said?

EO: Yeah.

BN: And you were talking about movies.

EO: What?

BN: You were talking about movies?

EO: Yeah, they were all shown at Butte. That's where our graduation ceremony was also.

BN: So you did graduate in high school first?

EO: Then I went to Doane college.

KU: Do you want her to say, "I was at Butte"?

EO: What?

BN: Sorry, can you say which camp you were in?

EO: Oh, I was in Butte Camp, Gila, Arizona.

BN: Do you remember your address?

EO: 61-B, I think.

BN: That was for Gila?

EO: Gila.

BN: Okay, so that wasn't Tulare.

EO: Oh, I said that for Tulare? I think it was Gila. I don't remember Tulare.

BN: You were not there too long. At Gila, do you remember what your parents or brothers did? Did they work?

EO: Oh, well, my brothers never stayed in there.

BN: Yeah, 'cause they were there a very short time.

EO: Hmm?

BN: They were there very briefly.

EO: Very short time. And my dad's a politician. Since he speaks English, he went to the director of the project and became friends with him. They asked him to be... I don't know if he volunteered or what, but he was a truant officer in the school. So that's what he did. But the director tried to help him get into... he applied to be a Japanese instructor in Minnesota, and his friends also applied. He was accepted, but it depended on FBI clearance. His friends were all cleared and they got to be instructors, the FBI wouldn't clear him. No one knew why, and I thought about it, and I think I know why. My dad, we lived in a white neighborhood, and one of the people in the neighborhood was a white bachelor, and he was a Communist. And he talked my dad into subscribing to the Daily Worker. So they probably saw that on his record, that he subscribed to the Daily Worker. That would be kind of suspicious, I think. So that's why the FBI never cleared him, I'm sure. He'd never read the magazine, he wasn't a Communist, and he never read it, but he did it as a favor to a friend.

BN: You mentioned he was kind of politically active. Was there any... because in many of the camps, there was tensions between the pro-Japan and more patriotic Issei who took more of a patriotic stance, and your dad seemed to be in that second category. Did he ever get into any trouble in camp?

EO: No. I think everyone knew he was very pro-American.

BN: But he didn't have run-ins with the pro-Japan Issei or Kibei that you know of?

EO: No, nothing like that. What impressed me most about my father, is when we first went to Tulare, he started a morning exercise class. He had about two or three Isseis when he started. By the time we left Tulare to go to Gila, it filled a whole football field practically. I saw that, I was impressed. I thought, doggone... [laughs]. And so when we went to Gila, he continued with his exercise class. But there were Niseis and Isseis both, every morning they'd go out there.

BN: Quite a leader.

EO: Hmm?

BN: Quite a leader.

EO: I guess. [Laughs]

BN: Was there any discussion in your family regarding the so-called "loyalty questionnaire"?

EO: My sister says she remembers hearing my father talk to my two brothers about it. And they were going to, were not going to say "no-no," they were going to go if they were drafted.

BN: So everybody answered "yes."

EO: I guess they answered "yes."

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.