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-1000-465-14

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

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BN: One of the big milestones or episodes in the camp everyone talks about is the "loyalty questionnaire."

CT: Yes.

BN: Was that an issue at all in your family? Was there any discussion?

CT: Gratefully, we did not have that problem. My sister was the oldest, she was four years older than I, and when she turned eighteen she went out to Cleveland to go to school. And I was about four years younger, I was fourteen, and my brother's three years. But I know many other people that had problems, I didn't quite understand what it was. And some of them, they called them "no-nos," and the whole family went to Tule Lake, and then we had a whole bunch of people coming from Tule Lake. And it wasn't until much later that I realized what it was, and some people after the war felt ashamed that they were "no-nos." And yet you read why they were "no-nos," but I think that was one of the biggest things except for the fact that one of the friends that we were in school with, in fact, many of the boys we were in high school with, before they got a chance, they got out of high school and they were inducted in the army, they were drafted. And there was one fellow, he was such a nice fellow, he was a favorite, well, he's a tiny guy. He just barely made it, you know, five-something, five-five or whatever, and he was drafted. And he came back, and we all greeted him and all, and when we left, we all shook hands. And three months later, he was dead. And we cried and cried and cried, we didn't realize, we were thinking, gee, these fellows are going off to war, and they come home for just one visit to see the family.

I was just so sad, and that reminds me of Senator Inouye, we became very good friends because the JACL passed the redress and all, and he was in the 442nd, so was my husband. And so every time he came, and he'd call my husband, "I'm coming, pick me up at the airport," or, "Meet me at the hotel, let's go to dinner, I want Japanese food." So for a long time we were very good friends with him. But I don't know how I got on that subject... oh, he said, "You know, Chuck, you're one of those. Were you in Arkansas? You volunteered into the army, you were one of the ones they said were stupid, those guys who would volunteer. And if you were drafted, go." And there were two distinct groups, the ones that volunteered, and then the ones that were "no-nos." And he said, "We were the ones that were gung-ho, we're gonna go." So he said, "You know, Chuck, before I ever met you, I had the biggest regard for the mainland. Mainland fellows, we didn't get along." Remember he said at the beginning? We fought and fought and fought until, he said, "We got sent from Hawaii and we were in this camp with the mainland guys, and we didn't get along at all, we thought you made fun of us the way we spoke. It wasn't 'til we had this one weekend pass," and they went to the camp in Arkansas, and he said, "Well, we realized that you fellows volunteered living like this." He said, "We came straight from Hawaii, and those people in Rohwer, Arkansas, they gave up their rooms to sleep in the kitchen so the soldiers, the 442 boys, could all live in their little barrack." And they said, we refused, we said, "Oh, no, no," but he said, "And when we saw that you fellows from the mainland came out of this kind of situation, we had a different respect for you." I remember he said that to us, and he said, "We used to all play the uke and then go back to camp in the convoy truck," and he said, "None of us sang. We felt so ashamed that you fellows volunteered, you were coming out of these situations to fight," And he said from then on.

And the next day they all had to ship out, a week or so later, and had a big fight with the Caucasian people, did I tell you that story? He said it was the last night they were there, and he said, at this big place in New York City, so he said the Niseis would get out, and these ships were going to be there, so they were assigned these places they were staying. They had a big dance, and he said, "There were no Nihonjin, there weren't any Japanese people." And he said, "So we went anyway, because we were going to ship out the next day." And he says, "We just sat and watched when all the people danced." There weren't any Japanese girls, they were all in camp, and he said, one boy from Hawaii, but Hawaii people, they were all friendly with the Caucasians. Went up and he tapped on the shoulder of one Caucasian, and he wanted to dance with this Caucasian lady. And this Caucasian fellow was flabbergasted that this Japanese fellow had the nerve. He said, "We had a brawl the night before," he said they just had a brawl. And my husband and we were standing on the sidelines, and we saw, we all got beaten up everybody, and they were beating us up. And he said, "Do you know, that was the time when the Nisei boys from the mainland and from Hawaii got together?" They said the Hawaii fellows said, "You guys came out of those kind of a situation, and yet you decided to fight for this. We had a different respect for you. So when we had that fight, all the Nisei guys were..." and he said when they got on the ship the next day, my husband says, you know, they had huge ships, and we had several thousand. "Our group, we got on the last ship, and there were only about twenty of us Japanese, all the rest were Caucasian we were fighting with." He said, "Boy, were we scared." [Laughs] He said, "I don't mind telling, we were scared. But we all had patches on us." They did have to go, they had such a brawl, and some of them really got hurt. He said, "Boy, were we scared, but," he said, "nothing happened." He said, "Only about twenty of us, all the others were, 442, they're all on the big ships, and we got onto this little one." He said, "Gosh, were we scared." [Laughs]

BN: But they got along after that?

CT: They got along, he said not one little thing. So I thought, my goodness. Somebody says, "Hey, we ain't gonna get killed over there, we're gonna get killed here."

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.