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-1000-465-7

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

<Begin Segment 7>

BN: Now your father was, being that he was fairly active in the community and other Issei leaders were being arrested, was he fearful that that was going to happen?

CT: Yes. The Japanese were not allowed to be out of the house after eight o'clock, and you could not go more than five miles. And my father was a gardener, but he used his head, he just did gardening in Alameda. Many Japanese people said, "Oh, you could get more pay in Oakland," or whatever, and they, all of a sudden they couldn't work because they couldn't go more than five miles. So my father continued his gardening, and I don't think anybody fired him at the time. But when we got these orders that we had to be out in February, only Terminal Island and L.A. County and us. Because we had a naval air station, and Terminal Island was just all water around it. Ironically, many years later when I got married, I acquired a sister-in-law, and she lived in Terminal Island before the war, and they had a horrendous time like we did. And then when camp did not open 'til maybe May or June, we had to leave Alameda in February, and we moved. And this family who lived in the rural area near Turlock, California, they were all farmers, very successful farmers. This man knew my father, he says, "Just bring your family and bring what you need, that's all, because you're going to be going back to Alameda."

BN: How did he know this family?

CT: You know, before the war, they had matchmaker, baishakunin, matchmakers, and they trusted my father and his judgment. And they would come to us and say, "We have a son, and do you suppose you could see?" "Well, we have a daughter." So you know, he matched up thirty-two couples, one divorce in the whole thirty-two marriages.

BN: So they were one of the families that was connected with the...

CT: Yes, he and the other gentleman. Yes, he said he did thirty-two marriages, got them together, and one got divorced.

BN: And you said they were in Cortez?

CT: When we moved, we moved to Cortez, and that was the rural area, they were very successful farmers outside of Turlock, seven to ten miles outside of Turlock. So we went out there.

BN: And then you said your father had you pack up a lot of the things that you would need? And then what happened to the house?

CT: Well, we had to leave everything because we had to be out so quickly. So we thought we were going to come back, but a fellow, right now it's called Fremont here, but there were little farming towns there, and this fellow called and he said, he was in his twenties, he said, "Mr. Takano, we have a big truck, so I will come and help you move." And this family sent their son who was about twenty-one, twenty-two, he came, very strong fellow, he packed whatever. But we left the dining room furniture, piano, everything, and we just took the clothes. And amazingly, my father, I guess we entertained a lot. My father, when the new crop of rice would come in, in November, we would buy twelve hundred-pounds. It used to be hundred pounds, now they're ninety pounds. Hundred pound sacks of rice for the whole year. But he said, "Well, let's take that," so we did load up all the sacks of rice. And amazingly, when we went to the country, a lot of the farmers had not had a chance to buy rice, and already this was February. My father was so popular, we stayed with this one family and they said, gee, they have a big family and have children, but they're all running out of rice, so my father said, "Give it to them." So there a few, about maybe ten Japanese families, very successful, but no rice. They had to go into town, and they couldn't go five miles. But then the big town that sold rice didn't have any. So my father had, he did pack the twelve one hundred-pound sacks, and so the people we stayed with, they said we're very popular because, "You're giving the rice away." And we didn't know we were going to go to camp, but that was the one thing I remembered. That we loaded it up instead of furniture, we left the furniture, everything in the house, we thought we were coming back.

BN: So what ended up happening to all your furniture?

CT: Well, we went to Cortez, and then we were the first ones to go into the assembly center. Within two months, they said we were to go into some horse stables, and we said, "What?" And they said, "It'll be temporary. Well, temporary? So we thought from there we'll go home. Temporary meant we were going to be out of state later, we didn't know that.

BN: Because, yeah, when you moved to Cortez, you...

CT: Didn't take any of the furniture.

BN: But at that time, you didn't know you were going to camp.

CT: That's right, none of that. The only thing my father did was make us take big trunk with my Japanese kimonos, the Nihongi, all that kind of stuff he did. But furniture, everything, we just left there. And he had two cars, and he left one car there, and then we went in the newer car to the country. A fellow came, drove the truck, but whenever we needed heavy things, then we rode with my father in the newer car. And he left his other car just in the garage.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.