Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Cookie Takeshita Interview
Narrator: Cookie Takeshita
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 11, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-465-12

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

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BN: You were mentioning, I was asking earlier how you got the nickname "Cookie," and you mentioned that was at Cortez?

CT: Yes. You know, amazingly, when I was in Alameda, most of us had names like Setsuko, Tomiko, Michiko, very few, if they had English names, it was Mary or Jane. That was about it, but most of them had all Japanese, when I got to Cortez, most of them had Japanese names, but I guess they had been in school all this time. So one Caucasian girl said to me, "What is your name?" I said, "Well, my name is Ikuko." "Ikuko?" and she said, "Can we call you Cookie?" I said, "That's okay." And I didn't care, the teacher was having a hard time calling me, "I-ku-ko," and sometimes it comes out, "I-ku-ku," and I just hated my name. And some of 'em had Japanese names, but a lot of them had simple English names, but mostly they were like Toshiko. But then a couple had May and June, if it was English it was May or June, they're named May or June. [Laughs] But, so one Caucasian girl said, "May we call you Cookie?" and I said, "That's fine." And then so everybody started to call me Cookie. And then somebody, we used to call in Alameda, for something on the phone, we're not supposed to use it, but we did. And somebody called for me, and my father said, "Shouldn't have anybody use their phone. We're like guests here, you should..." and they wanted to talk to "Cookie," and my father says, "No Cookie," he didn't know they were calling me Cookie, "No Cookie, no Cookie," and then he hung up. And then the phone rang again, they wanted to know, Cookie. "No Cookie, no Cookie," and he looks at me, and I went like this [points to self]. And I took it and I said, "This is Cookie," and she said, "Oh, how come somebody said there's no Cookie?" I said, "Because it's my nickname," I went like that. And then we had a little chat, and that was the only phone call. In town, in Alameda, we would call now and then, but there, it was strictly business, they didn't get on for social calls. But it was a hakujin Caucasian girl that called me, that was so unusual. And then I think I was there maybe, we were there in Cortez maybe two or three months, but that's the name this Caucasian girl gave me, and it stuck.

BN: Did your family start using it also at some point?

CT: Yes. My father said, "We gave you a perfectly good name." I said, "Nobody in camp in my class has that name. Nobody has that 'Ikuko.'" And he said, "Because you have to be educated to have that name." I said, "Educated?" I said, "Nobody in this whole camp, in my high school, Amache High, even in Cortez, nobody had 'Ikuko.' Michiko or Mariko or Setsuko, never Ikuko." And he said, "Because you have to be educated." Well, you know, after the war, I found out Tokyo Rose, her name was Ikuko. But my father said, "You see? She knew three languages."

BN: She was educated.

CT: Very educated, her name was Ikuko, Tokyo Rose, I went, oh, geez. [Laughs] But I never did find anybody else, except there was one lady in Alameda, and they had a big family. I would say, we would say, "Oh, they're poor," and I think they were having a hard time, they had a little grocery store. But the oldest daughter went away, and I didn't know where she went. It wasn't 'til after the war that she was so brilliant, she got a scholarship to Harvard, and during the war, she was at Harvard. And this family had a grocery store at Alameda, there were about eight children, and she was the eldest, and it wasn't 'til well after the war, I happened to meet this lady, I said, "She looks familiar." Because I must have been about five or six when she left. And it was a department store in Berkeley, everybody was admiring this little baby. And here I saw this lady, and she was the one that had left Alameda to go to Harvard. And so her... was her name Ikuko? I can't remember, but my mother had some connection with that, too. But Tokyo Rose's name was Ikuko, I remember that, and they said she spoke several languages. So I said, gosh, I said, I was the only one with the name Ikuko in camp. I have not met anyone with the name Ikuko, except this one Japanese lady. [Laughs]

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.