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

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

<Begin Segment 1>

BN: Okay, we are here on March 11, 2019, in Emeryville, California, and we're interviewing Mr. Ikuko "Cookie" Takeshita today. Dana Hoshide is the videographer, and Mrs. Takeshita's brother, Mas Takano, is also with us observing. So, good morning, and thank you so much for joining us today.

CT: Thank you.

BN: So as I mentioned, I think what I'd like to do is to start the interview by asking you about your parents and what you know of their life in Japan and reasons for coming to the U.S., maybe starting with your father. And then also mention his name.

CT: Yes. My father was from a family of about five or six children, and he was the youngest, and it was in Fukuoka city, actually, Hakata. But he came to America because his sister owned the movie theaters in Japan, and I think they were kind of getting interested into some movies from the United States. So he said initially he came here to buy some film, but after coming here, he realized his non-knowledge of English didn't get him very far. So he was about to return to go back, although he did contact some people here. But he met some people and they said, "Well, you can always go back to Japan, so why don't you stay here and just see, you may want to go into something. But he was the youngest of the family, so he met some very nice people. And one man said, "Why don't you come and help me? Don't you need some money?" He said, "Well, I have enough to keep me going, and when I run out, I'll go back to Japan." He said, "Well, why don't you come and help me?" And he went into this big hothouse, and there was this gentleman that had little plants, he had hundreds of little plants and said "You can help me with these." And my father said, "What are those little plants for?" And he said, "Well, the Japanese people here found that it's not like Japan, you can't just get a job, and most of us are doing gardening." So my father said, "What do you mean by gardening?" He said, "They work for Caucasian people, hakujin. And so I make all these bedding plants, and then they buy these plants from me," and that's how my father first learned about gardening.

BN: And was this in Alameda?

CT: That was in Alameda.

BN: And what was his name?

CT: Yasutaro Takano.

BN: And then do you know about when he first came over?

CT: Let me see, it must have been around 19... around 1921, 1921, '22. And he was supposed to go back, but he decided, well, he can always go back. So he decided he'll stay here, and because he was the youngest of several children, that he certainly wouldn't be missed, it was an adventure for him.

BN: Did he ever go back?

CT: He never went back, never went back. But on top of that, after he learned about all these little gardens, these little pots of plants, and that the Japanese were gardeners, then someone took him under his arms and he says, "Oh, if you're going to stay here, you might as well come and help me. And she says, "I'll teach you gardening." So that's how my father learned the, if you want to call it professional gardening, he became a gardener.

BN: Did he have any background in that at all?

CT: None at all. And all his life, he never told his family, he never went back to Japan. We went back a couple times, but he never did, and he never told his family he went into gardening. But apparently, he did very well. He was a hard worker, he did very, very well. But he did send us back to Japan to visit, but he never went back.

BN: When you went, was this before the war or this is later?

CT: Before the war, when I was a year old. My father eventually got married, because he was a bachelor, and rather than go back, people were fixing, you know, women, and he finally ended up marrying my mother, but she had come here to go to school. And then she had a sister and brother-in-law, and they didn't have any children, and they were quite wealthy themselves. So they were living in San Francisco, and they knew many Caucasian people. And this one Caucasian couple said, they were in the movie industry somehow, they said, "We have to go down to Los Angeles, can you hold onto our house for us? You live here free, just take care of the house." So my mother's sister and brother-in-law lived in this big house, which now is called Haight-Ashbury. So my mother went to live with them, and after a while, they said they came here to learn English, "You're certainly not going to learn English from us, because all we do is speak Japanese," and they put her in a Caucasian home. And she said she felt terrible, because she said she was like a little maid. And so she decided, well, she started to learn English, she wanted to go back to teach English, but she realized that this was a hopeless case, so she came back to her sister's house and she lived with them for a while. And in the meanwhile, they apparently did very, very well in what they were doing. Oh, I know what it was, the people they were holding the house for, this gentleman was connected with some Hollywood movie stars and movies, and he had some kind of a cleaning business on the side. And so it would come from Hollywood, these feathers, big feathers on the hats, in the times of the early '20s. And so he had that cleaning business. And so they took it over, and then they see it about one or two years, I guess, and they eventually went back to Japan and they amassed a fortune. They didn't have children and they decided to go back to Japan.

BN: This is your...

CT: Mother's sister.

BN: ...mother's sister.

CT: Older sister, and she stayed with them, and they said, "Well, you're not going to learn English being here," they put her in the Caucasian home. And then it turned out that it was horrible for her because she didn't speak English at all, so eventually she came back, six months or so, and she stayed with them. And they said, "Well, while you're here, stay a year."

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BN: Just to go back, what was your mother's name?

CT: I-N-E, Ine. Ineko or Ine.

BN: And then what was her maiden name?

CT: Ando.

BN: And were they from the same part of Japan?

CT: They were from Kyushu. My father was from Fukuoka, the city, and she was from Oika in Kyushu.

BN: So then how did they meet? She was already here.

CT: Well, my father had been here for some time, I guess it would be four years by then, and my mother had come. And then her sister said, "We're not going to stay here, and the people are giving up the business, and we're just going to go back to Japan. So if you want to go back, you can come back with us." But in the meanwhile, I guess there were many single Japanese men from Japan, and she had met a lot of women friends and families, and they arranged for her to get married to my father. And she said, oh my gosh, she didn't intend to get married, she was supposed to learn English here and go back. But she never did learn to speak English enough to teach back home in Japan. So she married my father.

BN: Was it purely arranged, or did they know each other?

CT: No, they didn't.

BN: It was purely arranged.

CT: Purely her sister-in-law and some friends, and he was living in Alameda, my mother was living in San Francisco. And they arranged for them to meet, and my mother knew it was the hottest day of the year, and she was living with her sister and brother-in-law, they said, "We're going to go to Alameda, they have a famous beach called Neptune Beach, and it's much cooler now in Alameda." And so they put my mother, and they drove over to Alameda, and they stopped at this house. And my mother said, "Uh-oh, this is funny," and they said, "Look who's going to go in, and we have a friend here and he invited us to come over." And she thought, "Uh-oh," she said, "I'll wait out here, I'll wait 'til we go to Neptune Beach." And she sat in the car, and her sister and brother-in-law went in, and they came out and they said, "No, come in, the person here wants to meet you," and they were trying to fix him up. And my mother knew something was funny, she said, "No, I'm not going in." And then she said, "I'll wait 'til we're ready to go to Neptune Beach in Alameda," that was famous then. Surprisingly, the Japanese in Alameda did go to Neptune Beach, they had a beautiful swimming pool that everybody swam in except the Japanese, they were not allowed even then, that many years ago. So finally, my father came out, and he introduced himself, and she was sweltering, and she thought, well, how rude, so she went into the house and met him for the first time. And I guess they were trying to raise some kind of thing at the time, and my mother was not interested at all, but he was. [Laughs] And that's how my mother and father got together eventually, I think, a year or so later, they did manage to get married.

BN: And then by the time, he was in, was he already in business at that time?

CT: He was doing the... I know, he was helping with those little plants, and then this man said, "You should learn gardening. People here don't know how to do gardening, but the business is wide open." And so he met some people who were gardeners, and my father said he had never cut the lawn or anything in Japan, but he learned from the others. And he said, "My gosh, you're your own boss? You make your own time?" And so he just thought this is what he wants, his own business. So he said before he knew it, everybody who was Japanese was either a gardener or working in a restaurant or something, a Japanese restaurant, because they couldn't speak English. So my father said he learned gardening from some others and went into gardening, but he never told his family.

BN: In Japan?

CT: In Japan.

BN: And then did he do that...

CT: He continued to do that, and you know, I guess he must have been good, but somebody said to me, "Oh, Cookie, your family was rich before the war." I said, "Rich?" I said, "Why would they be rich? My father was a gardener just like our father." "Oh, no, no, your family was rich." And I said, "Why do you say that?" She said, "You had two cars." She said, "You have a brand new big Dodge, and another car that your father drove around for his work." And you know, it never dawned on me. And then I got to thinking back, and this is after the war, well after the war, she said, "You used to go on vacation," and we did. On Fourth of July weekend, I remember my father taking, he had a fellow who worked for him as a gardener, and he would take him and he would do the driving. And I remember we went to Lake Tahoe for a vacation, we went to Yosemite, we went to Santa Cruz, and we stayed. And it didn't dawn on me that we were doing that and nobody else was, but this was after the war, someone tells me, "You people were rich," I said, "No, we weren't rich." My mother couldn't work, she was not well, she wasn't healthy, and so my father was by himself.

BN: And you mentioned you had gone to Japan, too?

CT: Yes.

BN: Which not everyone could afford to do.

CT: When we were little, yes. I was a year old, and my sister was not quite one. My sister was going to be four, my father sent them to Japan. He said my sister will be starting kindergarten, and so, "Why don't you go to Japan?" So he sent them and they were there, my mother was there nine or ten months. And my father, for a minute, he thought she wasn't going to come back. Because a month later, my sister started kindergarten.

BN: And then can you talk about where you were in the order of the siblings?

CT: Oh, yes. I had one older sister, she's four years older, and her name is Teruko, we called her Teri in later years. And I came four years after my sister and my brother Mas, we called him Mas, Masaki, came three years after. And that was just it, three children, but my father was overwhelmed when he had my brother, they had my brother, because he was the only boy, and that was all. And other families had so many children, and we were so envious. Down the street they had brothers and sisters, and we thought, "How come we don't have any brothers and sisters?" And we were so, age-wise, three years apart, four years apart. But somehow or other it worked out. And I always wondered why my father never went back to Japan. He said he wouldn't go back unless my mother would go with him. But she had poor health, she came down with arthritis, and I can remember my mother, most of our lives, she was not physically well, she came down with crippling arthritis. So my father, you know the Isseis, the women did all domestic, in towns and cities, and the fathers did gardening, most of it was like that. But in San Francisco where people had little shops, and there were some proprietors, Japanese, otherwise they were doing gardening, too. I guess that was the only thing the Japanese Americans, because of lack of the knowledge of English, for one thing. And then the florists started up, so connected with the gardeners and the flower growing business, I think the Japanese Issei men went into gardening.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BN: Then where did you live?

CT: In Alameda.

BN: I mean, was it a house?

CT: Yes.

BN: And did your family own the house?

CT: No. You see, Japanese Isseis were not allowed to buy homes. And so I remember this Portuguese man would come with a bottle of wine every month, and my father would pay him cash. And he said, "Mr. Takano," and he had an accent, they both, broken English, "You give money, I give house." I still remember that conversation. And my father said, "No, go to jail." "You no go jail. Give me money, I give house." But my father tried to tell him it was illegal, he could not buy a house, he was Issei. And a lot of Isseis did put it in their children's name, and during the war, that was confiscated, because they bought, it was illegal, they put it in their children's names. So I still remember when this man would come and say...

BN: To be clear, was he, essentially, offering to buy the house for your father?

CT: No, no, he owned the house, this Portuguese man.

BN: Oh, I see. So he was trying to sell him the house.

CT: Yes. And he would come and my father would give him the rent.

BN: So he was renting from him, and the guy wanted him to buy it, but he couldn't.

CT: And the man didn't understand that the law was my father could not. Now, a lot of Japanese did buy the house if they had someone turn twenty-one. Then they would buy the house.

BN: So your father refused to kind of skirt the law by buying --

CT: That's right, he was afraid that something might happen. And the families that had many children, but if the eldest turned twenty-one, the just got their money together and bought a house.

BN: And then did you stay in that house throughout, all the way up to the war?

CT: Until the war, exactly. Because when the war started, I was twelve years old, and my sister turned sixteen.

BN: Do you remember the address or what street it was?

CT: Oh, yes, 2316 Eagle Avenue. And on that street, we had about four Japanese families, and all the others were Germans, Italians. And they all spoke in broken English, and when they found out that we had to be removed in February, we had to leave Alameda in February. Terminal Island in Los Angeles County and Alameda were the two towns that we were surrounded by water, and we had to leave, we had to move out. There were no camps, we had to move out. And so we left everything in the house, we just thought it was going to be temporary. And somebody came with a huge truck and put our necessary things in, thinking we'd come back again, but we never did. Once we moved to the country, to a place called Cortez, which was Japanese farmers, and one of the families said, "Why don't you just come stay with us?" And we said, "Oh, the war will be over in no time, and we could go back." And so my father just packed the things he could, but from there we went into the camps.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BN: Yeah, and I'm going to get back to that in a minute, but before we do, I wanted to ask you a little more about before the war, Alameda. So you mentioned it was kind of a mixed, it was Japanese families and German and other families.

CT: Yes, in our block, particularly.

BN: Did you play with all the kids? All the kids kind of played together?

CT: Yes, we did. We played out in the street, and we did. But yes, at that time, I didn't realize that they too were from the old country.

BN: So you were all kind of Nisei in some ways.

CT: Yes, so we played. And at that time, I did not realize that there were certain areas Japanese couldn't get into. And so we didn't, those fifty blocks or whatever, twenty-five blocks, that's where the Japanese lived, and there was only one Chinese family, and there were no black families. There was only one year that this black family moved in, we used to call them Negroes, and there was a little boy and a little girl, young couple, and they went into this house across the street, well, they were our favorites, we never saw black children. And so they started grammar school, they were in grammar school, but they were not there more than maybe six months and they moved again. We did not have one black family in Alameda, so we were not acquainted. But we called them "colored people."

BN: At that time.

CT: At that time. And then there were two Chinese families, but all the rest were Japanese. There was a big colony of Japanese families. And we had a Japanese Methodist church and a Japanese Buddhist church, they were right across the street from each other.

BN: And did you go to the Japanese language schools?

CT: Japanese school, yes.

BN: Was there more than one?

CT: You mean the Japanese school?

BN: Yeah, language school.

CT: There was, the Christian church, they used to come to us, but they started their own later, so they had their Japanese school and we had Enbun, which was right across the street from each other.

BN: And this was the Buddhist...

CT: Buddhist church, yes, and the Methodist church started theirs. I remember that we started ours first, and then so the man from the Methodist church came over and he said, "May we be allowed to have our children come?" And my father said, "Anybody, it's not who... in fact, we have one Caucasian boy who wants to learn." So then the Methodist church, about maybe two years later, started it. And so there was only one Methodist family that came to our Japanese school, but they stayed with us. They said, "We started with you so we're going to stay." But both the Methodist church and the Buddhist church had Japanese school.

BN: And then it sounds like your dad was active in the church?

CT: Yes, he was active in a Japanese Association, and then the Buddhist church, and then the Fukuoka-ken, whatever. So yes, he was pretty much active in the Japanese school, especially. We had Japanese school every day.

BN: Did you go, did you have to Japanese school continuously?

CT: Every day, even summertime.

BN: Did you enjoy it?

CT: You know, yeah, I loved Japanese school. Yes, we got out of grammar school at three-thirty, we would go straight to Japanese school every day. And even in the summer, they gave us maybe a month off, but then they gave us homework. But yes, my father had us speak Japanese at home because he said rather than, they would speak improper English, and we would then speak improper English, so he said, "We won't speak English at home, we'll speak perfect Japanese." He said, "We'll teach you Japanese," but he said, "We would be speaking improper English and you would copy us, so we're not going to speak English." So we spoke Japanese fluently, and that's how me and my brothers, they just, when we went to camp, we spoke fluent Japanese as well as English. But most families, we spoke English, even if it was not proper English with the parents, and my father didn't think that was going to be too good for us, so we had to learn Japanese. So consequently, we could speak Japanese fluently.

BN: You were pretty good.

CT: Yeah, even has kids...

BN: And it's fairly unusual, it seems, that many Nisei did not like Japanese language school. What did you like about it?

CT: I loved it. We went straight from grammar school to our Japanese school.

BN: How far apart?

CT: Well, we could walk from our, maybe about four blocks from our grammar school, and the Japanese school was like two blocks, I mean, it was all in this one area.

BN: What grammar school was it?

CT: My school was called Porter, P-O-R-T-E-R, and then about five families were on the other side, and they went to what they call Haight school, and we used to say "Porter hates Haight." But basically two schools where the Japanese went. But amazingly, when my sister went to high school, Alameda High School did not have a swimming pool, but they had to learn to swim, so they went to this famous place called Neptune Beach in Alameda, that's where they learned to swim. But the Japanese were not allowed in Neptune Beach, so my sister and them, when they finally got into high school, my parents said, "That's wonderful, you're more at an advantage than the others. It's not so important you have to learn to swim, because you could take another course for college." That was the thinking of the Issei. Amazing to me when I think about it, oh, you get to take an extra course for college.

BN: Putting a positive spin on it.

CT: Yes. And anybody could learn to, we lived in Alameda, it was water all around us. They said, "You don't have to go to Neptune Beach to learn to swim, you could take another class instead," and they did. So that was the Issei thinking.

BN: Did you also go to, I mean, were there Sunday services at the Buddhist church?

CT: Oh, yeah, the Methodist church had theirs, and right across the street was the Buddhist church, and every Sunday both churches were full. And we looked forward to it, we loved it. And when I think of it, we really did have an active... because we went to regular school and then we went straight to Japanese school in the summertime when we had summer vacation, public schools, we still had Japanese school. But then my father went one more, he wanted us to learn calligraphy, shodo, and so at nighttime, he would take us to Oakland, there was a really famous calligrapher, woman, very famous. And so he had my sister and me, and there was another family that sent their daughter. And at night we went there, I think twice a week, and we learned calligraphy. Although we learned it in Japanese school, basic Japanese school, but this was much more intensive.

BN: Boy, you had all kinds of activities.

CT: And we had piano lessons. [Laughs]

BN: Did you do things like Japanese dance?

CT: You know, I did learn, we did. But my father... I know, after the war they wanted, and my brother says no. When you learn Japanese, that was just part of it, but not as a living, he says no. So after eighteen, just stopped.

BN: And then what about things like sports?

CT: Well, after college, well, before that, I learned to bowl. No, I guess it was during that time, and I did bowl. I bowled for about thirty years, and my father couldn't understand why.

BN: Yeah, I know your husband was a big bowler later on.

CT: Yeah, he was a bowler. He was very athletic even while he was in the army, I didn't know him then.

BN: We'll get to that later.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BN: Okay, what about things like, you mentioned your dad was active with the kenjinkai. Were there... many of them had these annual picnics.

CT: Yes, exactly. The Fukuoka and Hiroshima-ken, Alameda, I would say, three-quarters were Fukuoka-ken, but they did it to get in the kens.

BN: Meaning, was from all other areas?

CT: No, just Alameda.

BN: It was just Alameda.

CT: Alameda had a big contingent of Japanese from Japan, yes, we did.

BN: But you mentioned the Fukuoka, a lot of the Alameda Japanese were from Fukuoka.

CT: It was Fukuoka or Hiroshima.

BN: So when they had the picnic, was it all from Alameda, or was it kind of the surrounding...

CT: No, just Alameda.

BN: Just Alameda?

CT: But there were a lot of Japanese in Alameda from Fukuoka and Hiroshima.

BN: Because I know in the Issei period, there were kind of, people from different prefectures had kind of a stereotype, or was there a Fukuoka stereotype?

CT: Well, I remember hearing they have certain things that people told, and they used to say the Fukuoka people are not rich because they spend all their money on food. [Laughs] I remember I didn't understand what they meant. And so my girlfriend said, "How come you get to eat so and so all the time? We have it once a month." And she was Hiroshima, but it never dawned on me. And I thought, "I don't know." But then I heard some Issei people saying one thing about Fukuoka people, we never get rich because we spend everything on food. I remember they used to say that, how true it is, I don't know, but they talked about themselves that way.

BN: Did your family eat well?

CT: We ate well. I think about it now, and we did eat well. And even if my mother was not a hundred percent healthy, my father had something connected from the kitchen into the dining room, some pipes, so he could get gas into the living room. And so when we had company from Japan or something like that, we had four burners on the stove making sukiyaki and things like that in the dining room. You know, we didn't have electric frying pans then, and so my father had this kitchen connected up to the dining room when we did have people coming from Japan and cook on the table.

BN: So who would come from Japan?

CT: Well, it would be, one of 'em was, we later found out, we think he died. He was like an admiral in the navy. And we got contacted by the, there was not a Japanese embassy, they would be in Washington. But in San Francisco...

BN: It would be a consulate.

CT: Yeah, a consulate, that's what it was, and they would call my father, and they said, would you come, and we're going to go. Or else they'd have them come to us directly, and I remember when my mother and father and three of us, we were little then, and the gentleman was an admiral from Japan. And he said he had heard about the fish area, what is it in San Francisco? I can't think of it. Where they have seafood.

Off camera: Fisherman's Wharf.

CT: Fisherman's Wharf, Fisherman's Wharf. And so we got all decked out, and when we went to the first place that was supposed to be the finest, they refused us service. And so we went to another restaurant and then we didn't get in. And my brother remembers that, and he said it was DiMaggio's. You know, we had a Joe DiMaggio there, and they were from San Francisco, but one of them opened up a restaurant, and my brother insisted it was DiMaggio's, and I don't remember that. But I do remember we were not allowed, and we went somewhere else at Fisherman's Wharf, and we were served. We just never realized. But we did have those things that were very silent. But you know, Isseis were not prone to go out to eat in restaurants anyway. If there was a Japanese restaurant they might go there, which was in town, but we took this gentleman to Fisherman's Wharf. And I never forgot that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BN: So now, when the war broke out, you were twelve.

CT: Twelve years old, yes.

BN: Were you still going to the same grammar school?

CT: Yes. You know, I was in Porter school, we used to have low first, high first, like that, I was in low eight. And it was Sunday, we were in Sunday school, the Methodist church, people were having church, and I was at the Buddhist church. And when we got home, my mother and father said, they were all dressed up and they said, "Mrs. So and So passed away in San Francisco, lunch is on the table, so we're going to there right now, but we will be home by four o'clock." And they got into the car and they left, but they told us we were to go across the street to this Japanese family, they had some grown children. And, "We've told them, so after you have lunch, you go over there until we come home about four o'clock." So we thought, fine. None of us knew the war had started because of the time difference, three hours' difference, and we home from Sunday school about eleven, eleven-thirty, and they left. So we ate our little lunch, and then we went across the street, and they we stayed with that family because they had grown children. And we were reading the funnies and all, and this radio thing was on, and they were saying, "You know, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor." And we said, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" and we didn't think anything of it. We just didn't give it a second thought until four o'clock came along, and five o'clock came along, and six o'clock came along, and my parents hadn't come home. And we were still staying with this family, they finally told us to eat dinner with them, we didn't know what had happened. But it turned out that when they finally got home to pick us up at eight or eight-thirty, they had not known when they left Alameda at eleven-thirty in the morning, they were stopped at the Bay Bridge. And they were frisked, they were held for about an hour, and they inspected under the car, everything. And the Bay Bridge was only about a couple of years old then, and they finally, after about an hour and a half or two, they finally got to their friends' place where the lady passed away, and they told them of their experience, and they didn't know that the war had started. And it was during this little, planning the funeral service for this woman and all, that one of their sons came home and they said, "Japan bombed Pearl Harbor." They said, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" They said, "Hawaii." "No," they said, it's a rumor." They said, "No, it's on the radio." Well, they didn't think anything of it, but on the way home, when they were going to be home by four o'clock, they didn't get home until about eight-thirty and we didn't know what happened. They got stopped on the bridge again coming back, and then they realized that the war started.

And the next day was Monday, this was Sunday, and the next day was Monday and we all went to school, we felt terrible. And then the principal, we all went into, I think the bell rang at nine o'clock and we were all called into the assembly hall, and the principal got up and he said that, "We will excuse the classes today, and you may all go home, but come back tomorrow. But we have called all the families, so somebody is home when you get home. We are at war now, but all of you are not to go meandering, you go straight home. But we will have school tomorrow." And then he did say, "We have many Japanese American students here, and they are not to be blamed. So they are Americans." I still remember our principal saying that, and I'm so grateful. His name was Mr. Lajeunesse, and a very nice man.

BN: What was it?

CT: L-A-J-E-U-N-E-S-S-E, Lajeunesse, Mr. Lajeunesse. And he was one of the teachers, and then he became principal.

BN: About how many, what percentage of the students were Japanese there, would you say?

CT: I'm sure every class from kindergarten up, there were at least maybe three to five children, Japanese, in every class. And then we had another school called Haight school where the Japanese were over there, but ours was the bigger one. Something very interesting about Mr. Lajeunesse I might mention later. But so he said, "Remember that our students here are Americans just like you, but we will have class tomorrow, but you are all to go home. Don't go meandering down Park Street or anything, go straight home." And so we all went home, we were so happy that we got to go home and play. That was December... we went back to school the next day, and December 7th and December 8th and December 9th. And within a short while, we found that Alameda and Terminal Island in Los Angeles County, we had to leave in February. There were no camps, and we had to leave.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 8>

BN: So you said you were in Cortez for a couple months before going to, what was it, Turlock or Merced?

CT: Merced assembly.

BN: So did you go to school and stuff in Cortez for that timeframe?

CT: Yes, and it was only about two months. And so I was in Alameda, low eighth, and then I would have been high eighth. But they only had eighth, they didn't have low eighth, high eighth, and so they gave me a test because they didn't want to put me back to seventh grade because I was in low eighth in Alameda, and I took the test, very simple, and they said, "Well, you belong to the eighth grade." And so that way I moved up a half a year, so to tell you the truth, in camp, I also, somehow or other, skipped or whatever, I graduated. I turned sixteen in April and I graduated two months later, I was sixteen in two months, and I graduated. Oh, my. So not good to graduate too young.

BN: Too young, huh?

CT: Nobody wants you.

BN: So with Alameda, all the families had to go. So what happened to, like your friends families and others? Did you keep in touch with people?

CT: Do you know what happened? We had to get out because everybody was trying to find places to go. A lot of Japanese people, we didn't have cousins and all that. And if they had brother, if they found a friend there, they said, "Well, if you could come to Sacramento," or some of them did have relatives, the FBI came every day, it was scary. And then one lady called, and my father said, "All right, all right, I'll be there." And my mother said, "Who was that?" and he said, "That was Mrs. Maruyama." He said, "The FBI just came and took her husband," and she had three little, the oldest one was my brother's age, about nine years old, and she's crying. They broke the door down, and she doesn't know what to do. It was about eight-thirty at night, and my mother said, "It's a trap, please don't go, please don't go. They're making her do that." He said, "She's by herself, I could hear the children crying." And they lived about two and a half blocks away from us on another street, and my mother said, "It's after eight, you'll be arrested," and she was just panicked, but my father said, "I have to go." And he went over there and he saw the kids crying, the door broken down, and she was a much younger lady, her husband was the younger brother of another family that we were very good friends with, but they had already moved to San Jose. So my father said, "She said, 'We were going to move next week to so and so,' but she said, 'but they took my husband, so we can't go now.'" So my father said, "What is the phone number of your brother-in-law that moved last week to San Jose?" So he got the number and he came home, and he said he came home, maybe he was within an hour and a half or two, and he tried to close the door. He said, "Do you want to come and live with us?" She said no. The children were crying, and so then he, oh, there, he got on the phone and he called San Jose. And we were told they were tapping the phones. It was a very fearful time for us. But he said, "The FBI came and took your brother, your younger brother, and your sister-in-law has three children here alone, and I'm not supposed to be out of the house after eight o'clock. But I'm here, and you've got to either get someone to come to Alameda and help take her to your place, or you can call me, but she's in big trouble." And so he thanked my father profusely and he said, "Let me talk to her," and then my father waited, and then after he hung up, he said maybe he'll get some people from San Jose, some people who are Niseis, and they'll come to Alameda and pick her up. And so she said, "He told me to just pick up the essentials, that's all." And so then my father, in the dark, he walked over, because we were not supposed to be out of the house after eight o'clock, and we all had to pull down our shades. It was a scary time for us.

BN: It seems like the community was really on their own to try to figure out what to do with families like you describe.

CT: And when the head of the family was taken by the FBI, she called my father, and he's not supposed to be out of the house. But it was nighttime, and all our shades were down, we had to pull down the... and my mother was so worried when he didn't come back for a long time, she thought, "Oh, it was a trap, he was picked up by the FBI." It was just the active people in the group that were being taken by the FBI, and several already had been taking people from Alameda, the FBI.

BN: But fortunately your father was not.

CT: He was not. And so he said, "I'm going to be here to the last day, to make sure everybody's out, the church is taken care of." And my mother says, "Why would you worry about that? We have to get out, they'll come after you because they'll come after you, because you're active in this community." And he said no. And so the very last day, the 22nd of February, and we left the 22nd of February. But it was a horrendous time because on that very last day, the 22nd of February, my mother sent us out to buy last minute things, and we were walking down to the main shopping area, and we looked down the street where our church was. And right next door to our church was the Nakata family, he was very active in the Japanese community, he belonged to the Methodist church, but he and my father would give the Japanese community the help they did. We looked down that street, right next to the Buddhist church, there's a huge house. We saw Mr. Nakata coming out with handcuffs and the FBI. My sister -- and the children would come out and they were crying -- we didn't even get to Long's, we ran all the way back, and we told my mother, "Mr. Nakata was just taken by the FBI. They just had him, and they took him." And right next door was the Buddhist church where my father was cleaning up the place having people put things away, all the Isseis were gone. But the older Niseis, a few families stayed behind to help close up the church. But my mother tried to call the Buddhist church, and we didn't get through. Well, they had stopped the phones already. And so I said, "Never mind, I could run fast." I said, "I'll run to church and tell him hurry up and come home because the FBI took, next door, right here, Mr. Nakata." And he was with the Methodist church, but he was active in the Japanese Association and all. And so we told my mother and that panicked her, so I said, "I'll run to the church." My mother said, "No, everybody stay home, stay home." Do you know, he didn't get home 'til six-thirty, dark. And he did not know that next door, the FBI had taken him that day around noontime. My sister and I saw that, we ran home, we didn't even go to buy the last minute things. And my father came home and it was dark, and we said, "Did you know Mr. Nakata next door was taken?" He said, "When?" We said, "While you were at the church right next door." And my mother couldn't get through to him, the phones were disconnected already.

And so he got on the phone and he called someone, it's called Fremont now, it was called Centerville, and little towns, but now it's called Freemont, all these five towns. And my father said, "Can you come early tomorrow?" We were going meet her and we were the last Issei family to leave. And he said, "Can you come early?" and half Japanese, half English, and he said, "I'll be there five o'clock in the morning." And so this fellow came with this big truck, and he was a farmer so he had a big truck. And my sister was the eldest, she was fifteen then, I guess I was barely twelve, and my brother, and so he, that's how he came, helped load his truck. And five o'clock in the morning, and by six o'clock, we just took off, and it was Sunday, the 22nd of February, and so it was still dark. And we didn't have daylight savings time or anything like that, it was still dark. And you know, we left five-thirty in the morning? Now we could get to Cortez, that town, hour and a half. We left five-thirty in the morning, we got there five-thirty in the evening. Of course, he had the truck. When we got there, they were standing outside, it was dark, they said, "We thought the FBI picked you up today because they were all over the place here and they just left a half hour ago, and they took several families' fathers, the FBI. We thought, wow, we were lucky. We just got there and the FBI just left. But you know, people lived in fear, that's what's so different right now, it was so fearful. And a lot of them, when we got to camp, we had families where there were little children, their fathers were taken by the FBI, and they didn't know where they were. Some of them went to Crystal City, Texas, some were somewhere else, and then not only that, every one of the Buddhist ministers, I think, every one was taken. And after the war, we had something at the Methodist church, and they talked about it, they said there was not one Protestant or Catholic Japanese. There were not very many Catholic Japanese, but there were many, many of the Christian faith. But they said none of the Protestant churches were taken, so that was gratifying, but horrible. And so when we went to camp, most of the camps did not have the ministers, but eventually some were let out maybe within a year or so, but ours didn't come home 'til three years.

BN: Yeah, because a lot of... not a lot, but some were let out of the Justice Department camps and were able to rejoin families in camp.

CT: Exactly.

BN: But not everybody.

CT: Not everybody, yes, some came 'til the very end. So it was frightening times.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BN: Let's, we've gotten to Cortez, so maybe from there, can you talk about now going to Turlock?

CT: Okay, when we went to Cortez? Okay. We moved from Alameda, and we didn't have any relatives. And other people who had relatives moved to San Jose, as long as you got out of Alameda. And this family said, "Mr. Takano, come. This war will be over, or it's probably temporary, you'll go back to Alameda in three months, just come and stay with us." So like I say, we got to Cortez, it took us twelve hours, now you can get there in an hour and a half. And they said my father had said that the FBI had been in Alameda, and they said they just left a half hour ago, and they took several of the Issei men. And it was a very frightening time for us. So the one son had gone into the U.S. Army, so they gave my sister and me his bedroom, but they had this big tank house, and it was very big, so they had three beds in there. And they said, Mas and my mother and father, "You could say here." And then for mealtime, "We bought a stove for you here so you could cook, but Teri and Cookie could stay with us here and they'll eat with us if that's all right." My father said, "My goodness, they could eat with us, you don't have to feed them." "No, no, it's no problem." And so we were there, and they truly thought that we would be going back in two or three months. And what a low blow when we got this thing about, we're going to have to evacuate somewhere, and everybody show up at this one place because you have to have shots. We said, "Shots for what?" They said, "Well, we're going to have to leave here, and you're going to be put in another place." So we all had to go to one place, and then we got these shots, both arms. And then within a week, we ended up in the Merced Assembly Center they call it, which was for horses. They had horses and they called it Merced Assembly Center. In Los Angeles, what was that one in Los Angeles?

BN: Santa Anita.

CT: Santa Anita, there's was a horse place, too. Well, all places were horses were. And Tanforan, San Francisco, that was a horse, yeah, stables. And they said in San Francisco it rained, and when it rained, they couldn't even get into where the horses were held. They said the smell of manure was so horrible, they stood out in the rain rather than go inside those. So gratefully, we were there about three months.

BN: And were you in a regular barrack?

CT: No. We... was it assembly center? No, we were in a horse stable, too, but they had painted it, and it was clean. But some of them got into, I think, some better, but they had painted it and it was much better. And they had the grandstand, but it was a horse stable. And do you know what? But it's open on top, so my brother and I, we'd get on each other's shoulder and look over to say, "Hi, hi," when we're kids. Somebody swatted us, "Get down here. Nani shiteru?" But we could see all the way over. But that was temporary, but were there only, I think, maybe two to three months. And at that time, my father had left most of our things, furniture, and everything, in Alameda, and we went to Cortez, but he did take Japanese kimonos and things in the footlocker, and we took it to Cortez. So when we went into the assembly center in Merced, the official said, "We wanted to make it as pleasant for you," which was very nice. We have a stage, and you had Japanese dancing and things like that, and they said yes, but they didn't have all the Japanese, and my father did. He brought it from Alameda, it was a big trunk. So they took my father and the owner of the place where we stayed in Cortez, and he let my father bring his trunk full of Nihongi, the Japanese kimono. So you know, we were lucky my father was able to salvage that, so when they had, anybody wanted to dance, Japanese dance, the Japanese kimonos...

BN: So he was able to bring that with him to camp.

CT: So they took him back to the house with the owner of the house and came back with his footlocker of these Japanese kimonos, and so we still have them, but everybody else had to leave them, and so that was one nice thing. But then my father got into there, they said, "Would you do the recreation?" and my father said, "Well, what's that?" "Well, it's entertained..."

BN: Wait, is this at Merced?

CT: This is Merced, yes, Merced.

BN: I'm sorry, Turlock. No, you're in...

CT: You see, there was a town of Turlock

BN: Right, but you were in Merced Assembly Center.

CT: Yes. And then Cortez was the country, and the townspeople lived in Turlock, but we went to the country where people were farmers.

BN: Yeah, I get mixed up, 'cause there was also a Turlock Assembly Center, but you were in Merced.

CT: Do you know the Turlock people ended up in Merced Assembly Center? And people from Fresno came up and went into Turlock. And they had a Fresno Assembly Center, too, I think.

BN: Yes, and Pinedale was also in Fresno.

CT: Yeah, and they ended up in Turlock, but the Turlock people ended up in Merced.

BN: Confusing.

CT: We could never understand that.


BN: And then before we leave Merced, I'm always interested in things like the bathrooms and so forth, do you remember what the situation was at Merced?

CT: Yes, it was terrible. When we first... was that Merced? Did they have bathing for us? I don't think they did. Was that Merced or was that Amache? No, that was Merced. It was one room, this was Merced, yes. We went into this one room, and there was a long chain. And the tallest person, there were about ten or fifteen women, they would pull the chain and then the water would come out from the ceiling. But if you were short, you couldn't pull it, so you had to go to the... well, you know the younger, twenty, twenty-one years, they didn't want to see us in with them, and they wouldn't go in when we went in. So we couldn't reach the thing, so finally they did succumb to having a shower with us, and there would be about fifteen people, twenty people, somebody would pull the thing. I remember that. We brought the toothbrushes in... was that Merced? I don't remember too much about Merced.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BN: You were there a very short...

CT: Yeah, very short time. But I remember that we were fenced in, and there were grape vineyards, and that was farming grape vineyards, and two or three of us girls, we saw these wire fences, and in between, we'd reach down and grab the grapes, and you're stealing, but we thought, oh, we could get them, we were eating the grapes. And they did have the sentries, and they said, "Get away from that, get away." So we ran, and I ran back into the barracks, and I was eating it. And a day later, there was a notice on my door, and it said, "Ikuko Takano, report to main gate." And I thought, oh, we were stealing those grapes, and I thought I'd better go, and I didn't know where the others, we were all living in different barracks. And I got that, and says, "Bring this, bring this notice." And I didn't tell my parents, no one, nobody. And it was time to eat, and the bell rang, and you line up, but I was so scared. I went straight to, it's the main gate, so I went to the main gate. When I got there, I showed this, and they said, "Go in there." I said, "Do you know what it's about?" "No, just go there," so I did. And there was my teacher from Cortez grammar school, she brought me my report card. I was amazed. She said, "I got you your report card for you." And the others had all gotten it, but because I came from Alameda and I was there only two months or whatever, and she said, "Is there something I can get for you?" She saw how we were corralled. And it was hot that day, and said, "Would you like to have a little Coca-Cola?" I said, "Yes, please." And so she took me into this little place, and she put a nickel in, and she got this Coke for me, and I drank it down. She said, "Would you like another?" I said, "Yes, please." [Laughs] And she got it for me, and I said, "Well, thank you very much." And she said, "Are you doing all right? Are you fine?" I said, "Yes, thank you." And she said, "Well, I'm not supposed to be here very long, but I wrote before I came. But because you came from another town," and I was there only two months or something, "so I had to get your records from there, and that's why the others got theirs before they came into here, but I wanted you to have yours, too." So she came all the way and brought me my report card. That was nice of her.

BN: So you thought you were in trouble, but it was actually good.

CT: Yes, I thought because I was stealing the grapes, I thought, what am I gonna do if they jail us? It'll be like when our fathers disappeared with the FBI, I was so scared. And then I was just thinking, "Never steal anything," we were always told, "Never steal anything," but we didn't think we were stealing, we were reaching between the wire and getting the grapes. Never did it again. [Laughs]

BN: Do you remember much about the food, the mess halls at Merced?

CT: The Merced Assembly Center food was terrible, and I could even name the chief cook, but the Isseis were all saying, "He's not a cook, that's why the food is so horrible." And it was Nisei people, I guess they got paid, I don't know. But he was the chief cook, and they said he never cooked in his life before, it's horrible. But it wasn't that he wasn't a good cook. You know, as Japanese, we didn't eat liver and things like that, we didn't eat lamb, kind of food, and we got a lot of that kind of food, which I remember very well because I couldn't eat it, I couldn't eat it. But what was interesting is the ladies room was right next to the mess hall, everybody lined up. But you know how the bathroom was? Let me tell you. You go in, it's a little small building, not even a building, just a roof, and there's a board with four seats, and then another big one with a big hole. And then there was a board, I mean, there was a board, so partition, so I think there were four. And then you had no flush. On the other side, there was a bucket, and it filled up with water and it turned, and it flushed. It was on one end, so it flushed everything, so everybody stood up when that water goes, it's flushing under you. I thought that was the most horrible thing, and so everybody wanted to sit where the water was, because it's clean. But where it dumps, you didn't want to sit at the last seat, and that was right next to the mess hall. When you were standing in line, there you saw people's seat, it was that close. I remember my mother saying, "If they had to build, why would they build right next to, we're standing in line to go eat, that was horrible." Merced Assembly was not to... it really was temporary, thank goodness.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

CT: And then we were first ones to move, they said because people from the country, they were not troublemakers like city people, so then we were the first ones, you know, then they shipped us, and we didn't know where we were going, but they said, somebody said they heard Colorado. So we were all put into the trains and my mother did get, before we went to Merced Assembly Center, this big thermos thing, it was round, with water, because they said we won't have water in the trains. And we were just getting on the train and my brother was little, he was nine years old, and that was only, he was to carry, he fell on the tracks and the whole thing broke open, no water. They said we won't have water on the train, and we had no water. That was my brother, I still remember that he tripped on the tracks, and the thing just broke.

BN: This is going to Amache?

CT: Amache, when we had to leave Merced. That was terrible. But food at Merced was terrible, I thought it was horrible. But when we got to Amache, it was better. But I thought that Merced, I don't have very good memories of Merced, but it was very temporary, it's just a couple of months, I think, yes. I think we went in by June or so, and by September we were in the camps, the permanent camps.

BN: Amache.

CT: Amache. You were too young for all this, weren't you?

BN: Yes. [Laughs] Although sometimes I just tell people I was at such and such a camp just to mess around.

CT: Well, at least you weren't born in camp, were you?

BN: No, no. Well, let's go to Amache.

CT: Okay.

BN: And you mentioned the story with your brother, but you got there eventually, and what was your...

CT: Do you know now you could get there in no time? But we rode on these trains as they took 'em out of wherever, and we were pulled off, and would sit for two hours and three hours, it was hot summertime. And the windows wouldn't come down, and we were supposed to pull the shades if regular trains went by, but we had to take a, go on another track, and we sat there for an hour, two hours, three hours sometimes. And then finally we would backtrack and go. But many times, it took us three and a half days to get to Colorado, because we had to pull over.

BN: It's not that far, really.

CT: It's not that far. And on the train, and I remember before we... we got off the trains, and they put us on buses. Then there was someone that got on the bus, and they said, "You'll be dropped off at whatever addresses you're given, and we want to warn one thing. This is the desert, so every morning when you get up and every night, you shake out your shoes because you will find these tarantulas," or what are the spiders?

BN: Scorpions?

CT: Yeah, scorpions, "And they come right out in the desert, and so you will find them, so always shake out your shoes." And here when we were in Alameda, if we saw a moth, we got hysterical when we saw a moth, you know. [Laughs] But that was something that we religiously did.

BN: Do you remember your block address at Amache?

CT: Yes. In Amache it was 9-E-7B. But because my mother was bedridden, and they had a little room for two, and they gave us that for my sister and me. And so my mother, my brother and my father stayed in the bigger room, and we got the end room, which is right connected with them, for just two.

BN: Just the two of you?

CT: Just two. Married couples had those, they were on both ends of the barrack, and then they had a bunch of people with five or more. But because my mother was bedridden, then they felt, well, so they said, "We'll give you that." So we were lucky that way. But that was quite an experience.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

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.

<Begin Segment 13>

BN: Now, at Amache, a lot of the people there were from Los Angeles. And did you get along okay with the L.A. people? Because in many camps, they were seen as kind of "troublemakers."

CT: It was half and half. And the people from Northern California were mostly farm people. But we were brought up in town, cities, so I was able to really come together much faster, although the people from Cortez were so kind to us, and we all lived in the same area. But once we started school, all my friends, every one of them in my class were from L.A. And yes, the first time the L.A. people came in, and they were going to have a football, they had a horrendous, what would you call, row, with the L.A. boys and the people from northern California. And they did not really bond. I don't think even the women as much. But I was just one of the few that came from, like an offshoot, like I think there might have been ten families, three families from Alameda eventually ended up in Amache. One had gone to Yuba City, one had gone somewhere else. But in camp, we said, "My gosh, these people from Alameda," we saw the list, and so I think we had three families from Alameda. Most of them stayed within the Bay Area and they went to Topaz, and we wanted to be in Topaz so badly, but most of them went to Topaz.

BN: You had mentioned earlier that you had kind of a group of girls that you had a name, can you talk about the group?

CT: Yes, and you know, I think of this now, I think we weren't very nice. We got together in junior school and high school, and I guess we were active in school. And none of them were from my block, it was when I went to school and we just became friends through our classes. And so we formed this group and we said, "Gosh, there's too many." And they said, let's divide it into... and the one below the school and above the school, and so we called the Juniorettes that I was in, and then the other one, WeeTeeners, W-E-E-Teeners. But we did things together, but in my group, I said, "Well, can I pick some of the kids that lived in my area? So we did have some of the people from the, not from the city, but our two clubs did everything together and we became the best of friends. And I think the ones that were in the Juniorettes... no, no, I think there were about five people left now, one I just found out moved up to Seattle, and I guess she's not well, so her family up there, she went up there. And there are three of us, four of us that live in the Bay Area yet. And then Rumi Tonai, did you know someone... you're from L.A., aren't you? Did you know someone that we called Pachuk, we used to call Pachuk? Pachuko, she was tall and she had this... and she was like a fellow, so we called her Pachuk, "pachuk" haircut. Did you know Lane Nakano's wife, Fumi Sotomura, Fumi Nakano? You know Lane Nakano? She was my best friend. And Toshiko Aiboshi, she's the only one left of our group, and she's in Los Angeles, Toshiko Aiboshi. And Min Tonai, Rumi was in our group, but Rumi passed away.

BN: Rumi was in the junior...

CT: WeeTeeners.

BN: She was in the WeeTeeners.

CT: WeeTeeners, because the L.A. group was above the school and we were below the school.

BN: So about how many girls were in each group at the time?

CT: I would say about twelve. Maybe when we got together, about twenty-five together.

BN: Both groups.

CT: We did things together.

BN: And then were you all the same age?

CT: We were all the same age, all the same age.

BN: When we think about this house, we wanted to have our own little dances, and so we signed up for a reservation for one of the empty recreation rooms, and then we'd have a party. And it would be like, back to school social, school was going to start, and so before we started we had a back to school social. Or we'd have a Valentine's Day, and you had to reserve it from where that recreation hall was. And then we'd have a dance, just the girls, and we were only about fifteen, sixteen then, maybe fifteen. And we'd only invite the boys we liked. [Laughs] Nobody else got to come, and we invited the boys we liked, and then we'd have our own party. And of course we didn't have any food, but each one of us had an assignment, you bring two eggs, you bring four slices of bread if you could get it. So in every block, we'd manage to... and I had a friend who was much younger, she was my brother's age, and then, but she was an only child, and I kind of befriended her. So she stuck with me like glue, and her father was the chief cook in our block, and he always was so kind to me because this was his only child. And we worked together all the time because she came to me all the time, except when we were in school, she was much younger. But so whenever I went to our chief cook, I would say in Japanese that we're going to have a party, and can we have two eggs or whatever it is? Could we have half a loaf of bread, or any leftovers? And he always gave it to me. And he'd say, "Is Masako going to go?" I said, "No, she's too little, too young yet." And he said, "Oh, okay. Next time?" Because he wanted to make sure she was at the party, but she was three years younger than we were. And at that time we were fifteen or so, and then so we had little parties that way, but we invited just the boys we liked. We talked about that later, we said, "Weren't we terrible?" It must have made some people feel so badly, and I have a book here, my autograph book that it's 1942, I kept it. And then some of these kids, we were 1942, we just got into camp, they have written little notes to me. There's one fellow, the first year we were there, we were in the eighth grade, but it was very different. The teachers were from the Midwest. So when the first graduating class was going to graduate, the junior class presents them, so they picked me, the faculty, and this other fellow, Eddie Kubota, he was a nice fellow, very, very studious, very bright, but they picked him and me from the junior class, when the first class graduated, and we had to march them down, he wrote something so beautiful, I'm thinking, you know what? After camp, he committed suicide, but he has a page with beautiful writing, Eddie Kubota, I just can't believe it.

But 1942, and then when I finally was going to leave camp to go to Cleveland, and somewhat did in 1954, but I kept that. And one of the teachers, everybody used to say, "Mr. Montgomery, you're his pet." I said, "I am not," and they said, "Yes, you are. Look, he made you sit right in front of him." I said, "Well, that's because he hits me on the head all the time when I'm talking too much," and they said, "Oh, no, you're his pet." By golly, he wrote something in there for me. And you know, I was at one time very active in JACL, and there were a hundred, ninety-nine of us that went to Japan when Reagan was elected. At that time, I was not a Reagan fan, but we represented the Japanese, it was the first big group, and we went to Japan. And so the Japanese people were doing all this banquet, they asked us to be the receptionist because they were going to have some Caucasian people, and would we man the desks as they come into this restaurant? So I and this other girl, she was in the camp with me in Amache, we were there with all these cards, and told them where, seat they were. I said, "Gosh, it's starting, the orchestra is going to start, and we better close up." There was one envelope, and it said "guest." And I said, "Who do you suppose it is?" I said, "Who do you suppose?" but it said "guest," so we started to fold up the table and we were about to go in, and this man comes running through, and said, "I'm sorry to be late," he said, "but I am a guest to this occasion." And I looked at him and I said, "Mr. Montgomery," he was my teacher, the one that everybody said I was his favorite. Then I looked, opened up the thing, I opened up the thing and it said "Melvin P. Montgomery." And he jumped over the table, I had not seen him since camp. And that was the most wonderful thing for me, but he wrote something so nice for me in there. I was just looking it over yesterday and I thought, my gosh, I have some people who've since passed away, a lot of them. But when I think of this Eddie Kubota who took his life, I can't imagine, I had such beautiful, beautiful handwriting, and we were just kids. So I guess it affected people different ways.

BN: Different ways. Did your parents do any work at the camps?

CT: Well, my mother was not well, so she did not. But my father, what was he going to do? Oh, he was not a carpenter, he was not a cook, he was not anything. So the one thing I thought he might get into was in the newspaper business, but somebody came to him and said, "Mr. Takano, we understand" -- he's straight and narrow -- "will you work with the police department?" And my father saw the FBI and he said, no way, he didn't want that at all. "I don't want to do anything to where you're arresting people, I don't want that." This isn't FBI, they said, "But we need something that could speak Japanese and still understand English."And my father said, "Well, my English is not good, it's strictly Japanese." They said, "No, but can you join us? We need somebody of your character, something." And my father said, "Because of the police always arresting the Japanese?" He didn't want to have anything with it. They said, "No, no, you're not going to be everything, you'll just be keeping sure everything's quiet. But we have several people, so somebody suggested that you should be." And so my father came and talked to my mother, and my mother said, "Oh, dear," she said, "It's going to be like, if somebody's arrested, it's like when the FBI came around." And that's how he felt, he didn't want anything to do with arresting people." Well, he never had to arrest a person but he finally decided, okay, there's a lot of reports we have to write, and once you do that, you'll be doing that more. So he said all right, that's fine, so he did. But you know what? He would say, well, we'd have dances in our high school, my father said, "I'm going to be, I have night duty tonight, and are you going to the dance?" I said, "Yes." [Laughs] I said, oh, shoot. He said, "You know, you'll be home by..." they used to end it at ten o'clock or something. It was from eight o'clock to ten o'clock, and so I still remember that he would be in the police department. [Laughs]

BN: The last thing you want at a party is having your dad being a cop.

CT: Yeah, you're right.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

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.

<Begin Segment 15>

BN: I want to get back to that later, but before we... I wanted to get to leaving Amache and talking about going back to Alameda, but I know you had a little interlude before that, you mentioned your sister had left camp to go to Cleveland.

CT: Yes.

BN: Was she going to college?

CT: She was going to go to college, but she stayed and decided, well, she wanted to work a little, and she stayed with a Caucasian family, and then my teacher, he wrote, well, not this, but he came to see my mother. And he said, "Cookie, your mother's a lovely..." and very complimentary. And then he came to see my mother and he said, he talked to my mother about something and she didn't quite understand. So he said, "You know what I told your mother? I don't know if you could afford it, but I'd like you to leave this camp. You will finish school at sixteen, and your birthday's April, but if you can get out of here and take one semester in Cleveland, I understand your sister's in Cleveland, you will graduate at sixteen." And I think, at that time, they knew something was going on, and so he said, "The only thing is your sister's in Shaker Heights, but he said, "I investigated, but whatever," he said, "the tuition, you will have to pay tuition," it was thirty-five dollars. Our parents were getting eighteen dollars a month. "And your mother said that she would talk to your father, but he's working outside somewhere," he was taken out somewhere. So my mother wrote to him and he said, "Well, if the teacher said that, send Cookie out." So I left my class and I went to Cleveland. And the only thing was I turned sixteen in April, and by June I graduated, I was sixteen a couple of months. And I graduated, and then the war ended. So they started closing the camps, so my mother wrote and she said to come back. "Your father said they're going to be coming, you come back. But Teri wanted to go out to school, so you leave with her." But when I went to school, a very interesting thing happened to me. The family I stayed with, he was a doctor and my sister was staying there, so they said I could stay there temporarily. I got to Shaker Heights, and when I went in there, there was this little girl came in, and she had a bike. Very nice girl, she introduced herself, and then I told her my name and I said, "Everybody calls me Cookie," real nice looking girl, blond girl. You could tell they were wealthier. And this girl said, "Her name is Cookie, da da da." Then pretty soon all the students came, and finally the door opened. And so I started to follow the girl I met first. And then the blond girl said, "No, you come on this side of the room." And I said, "Oh, all the new people come on this side?" and she didn't answer me. And so this girl, this side, said, "Go ahead." So I didn't know what it was. And when I got in there, she said, "I thought of all the new people coming in here," and this blond girl, beautiful, nice, "all the Jews sit on that side of the room." I said, "The what?" And she said, "The Jews." I didn't know what that was. So when I came home, I said to my sister, "Teri, what's a Jew?" And she said... [pantomimes putting finger to lips]. I said, "Is that a bad word?" and she said, "No, but I don't know, I think it's a religion." In Alameda, we didn't know anything about that. And she said, "But I don't, some people, I think it's a religion, and the people who are Jews and people who aren't, I don't know whether they get along, but I don't think they get along too well. Don't say anything, but yeah, it's a religion." I said, "Oh," I said, "are we staying with the Jews?" and she says, "No, we're not," but that's it. And she said, "But don't use the word 'Jew,' she said, "Kuichi, ku ichi, 'nine' and 'one,'" Japanese kanji, ku ichi, nine and one. We say kuichi, "nine and one," which is "Jewish," we never say "Jew." They had a Japanese word, kuichi, meaning "ten." Juu ichi, "ten and one, ten and one." Excuse me, nine and one, nine and one, ku ichi. So we say, when we refer to them, we say kuichi, nine and one in Japanese, means "Jew." And I said, "I don't get it. You mean it's a religion?" And she said, "I don't know. Some people don't like them, but I don't know what it is." I said, "Did we have them in California?" She said, "I don't know," she said, "I guess so, but I think they have a lot in the East and Midwest." I said, "Oh." So that's the first encounter I ever had. And yet, all of a sudden, I was in the majority, this girl said, "The Jews sit on that side of the room."

BN: So you were, as not a Jew, you were on the...

CT: That's right, on the side with. And I thought, when I got home, I said, "What's a Jew?" And she said, "You could tell by the name now, somebody told me." So you know, I thought back when I was in grammar school, not to be a braggart, but I'm with the brightest. Most of the Japanese in grammar school were the brightest. And yet, the ones that were right with me was Arthur Kahn, K-A-H-N. And we later found, that's a Jewish name, was Fischer, Fischerman, and another was... so then I later found out, being back east, what names were Jewish, and the ones that were right behind me were the three fellows that were Jewish. And coming from Alameda, we didn't have any of that. Anything, the Orientals, we were called, were prejudiced because we didn't have one black family in all of Alameda. And so it was mostly Japanese and maybe two Chinese families.

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<Begin Segment 16>

BN: So how long, so when you were in Cleveland, it was very short, then?

CT: Very short, I just took one course.

BN: And you were called back by your mother?

CT: Yes, the war ended, and, "Come back," she said, because we had to pack and they were closing Amache first. Amache was the first camp they were closing. So my sister stayed behind, and then I went back, and then they recalled all those men that were taken out of camp to help for, whether it was farming or whatever it was, my father never farmed, but they took out the men who held enough, I guess my father was in his fifties at that time, and they took him out. And he came back because Amache had to move out first, they were closing it first. So that's when I came home, my father came home, and we packed up and then we left.

BN: And then where did you... you went back to Alameda?

CT: Well, actually, we got a telegram from a camp in Arkansas. And one of the boys had worked for my father, and they had this huge house. They owned it because their children were much older than we were, and the father and mother bought, the minute one son became twenty-one, they bought the house, and they had about eight children. And they said, through the Red Cross, they contacted us and they said they are letting two of the people from Jerome or Rohwer, to Alameda to open up the house because they said they wanted you, they contacted my father, to live there because, "They're closing your camp first," and you have nowhere to go, because we weren't allowed to buy a home. My father was so happy, so they left one day before we did, and they opened up the house. This is the oldest sister and brother, and they opened up the house. The neighbor was taking care of the house, and so I guess it was about, they gave them a month. And so this family said, "You have to vacate that house," because the families are coming back. So when we got back to Alameda, the house was empty, and the two from Rohwer had come back the day before.

And that's when we were lucky, we got dumped off on University Avenue. And we thought, my gosh, where will we go now? We had nowhere to go. But they just dumped all of us from the Bay Area that was in Amache in that train, dumped us out in Berkeley and whatever it was. But most of the Berkeley people, they all went to Topaz, so I don't know what the others did. But luckily for us, they gave every family fifty dollars, that was it, I don't know if I told you this. So he said, "Get a cab," and he said, "We'll take a cab." So we got in the cab and we went all the way to Alameda, and I think that just about was enough that what was an omen to me was, it was a University Avenue train station. I looked at the street and coming up, University of California, the Campanile, everything, I thought, wow, that's the University of California, that's right, I remember that now. And then that was like an omen; I went there and I worked for forty-three years at UC Berkeley. Can you believe that? That very first day out of camp, and I saw that building, it's amazing. So that's like my second home.

BN: Then when you came back to Alameda, what did your parents do for a living?

CT: Do you know, my mother couldn't work, but my father, the only thing he knew how to do was gardening, and his equipment and stuff was all gone. But he went, and I didn't realize this, but this is Nihonjins for you, he rang doorbells and he said, "Gardener, cut lawn," you know, limited English, little better. And they say, "Are you a gardener?" "Yes, ma'am." "Oh, where have you been?" One time I was with him, and I didn't want to tell him we're in a concentration camp, because I said, "Well, we were out of state and came back to California." "Oh, I need a gardener." And so my father, he went to every door, he took the whole block across the street. You know, my father was so smart that way. And some of the men told my father, "Oh, Takano-san, that's not good, we went into Oakland." And my father was going to get a dollar an hour, and they said, "We're going to get a dollar and a quarter or a dollar fifteen, you get more." And my father said to me, "No, I could walk. I had two cars, but I could still walk as long as they had the equipment, and then I'll buy my equipment." But they had to get a car, then they had to travel and pay gas. And later years, they said, "Takano-san," they told him, "you were smart. You didn't go one day out of Alameda," so he had blocks, across the street, the whole block. And I was floored that he had thought that much.

But in the meanwhile, my father comes home and tells me, "I want you go to this address, she needs some help." And I said, "Oh? What does she want me for?" and he said, "I don't know." I thought maybe she wants me to clean the house, I wasn't sure. So he gave me the address the next day, and he says, "Go from the back," you know, I'm so subservient that, "don't go and ring the doorbell." And I said, all right, I went to the back and rang the doorbell, and this woman said, "Yes?" I said, "Mr. Takano, Taka, sent me. You needed some help today?" And she says, "You're going to help me?" Because I was only sixteen. She was expecting my mother, I guess, Issei lady. "Oh, dear, well, it's too late now. Well, you come in." And she said, "Do you know how to clean house, vacuum?" I said, "I do, because my mother is not well, so I have to do the cleaning." She had a nice house, and she told me she wanted me to mop the kitchen, literally cleaning the house, and then vacuuming, and then doing the ironing when I finished. So I thought, "She expects me to do that? I wonder how many hours." Then she said, "So when you leave at five, you'll find the envelope on the table." I said, "Oh, so I do have a whole day to do it in." I'd never done anything like that. So I worked hard, da-da-da, and I ironed everything after keeping house, then I picked up the envelope, I went home. And about seven-fifteen, we were living with this big family, we were in the back house, they were living, and they had the phone. And they said, "Cookie, there's a phone call for you from a Caucasian lady." "Oh?" so I went up there and then she talked to me, I came down. And my father said, "Who was that?" and I said, "The lady I went to clean house for today." He said, "What did she want?" I said, "Bakatare," I said, "she's so stupid, she said to me, 'Did you clean the bathroom?' and I said, 'Yes.'" I said, "You know, I cleaned that bathroom twice, twice, on my hands and knees," I told my father. I said, "Yes, I did it twice." And then my father said, "But she had to ask you, 'Did you clean the bathroom?'" I said, "Yeah, bakatare," I went like that. I had given him the envelope, I didn't even see what was in it. I gave him the envelope, he put it in his pocket. He took it out, and he gave it back to me and he said, "You take it back." I said, "What?" "I said, you take it back." I said, "What? I worked all day, eight o'clock to five o'clock," I didn't stop for lunch because you didn't tell me to take my lunch. I wasn't going to open up her refrigerator and eat her food, so I worked straight through from eight o'clock to five o'clock. I was so flabbergasted that my father would tell me to take it back. And then not only that, when I left the house, I started to... and my mother felt so terrible for me, but she wasn't going to say anything. Anyway, he says, "Go from the back door," you know what I mean? That did it. I thought, oh, so I went from the back, she has a bell, and a couple of times I rang it, then the lights came on, and I see her peering out to see who's coming from the back, and she sees me. So she opens the door and she said, "Yes?" She thought I forgot something. She saw that I had been crying, I said, "My father told me to return this to you," I'm so stupid, I'm going to... and she said, "What?" I said, "He said I didn't do a good job, so he told me to return it to you." So I gave it to her, and she could tell I had been crying, and then I turned around and left. And so I went home and I told my mother, "I'm never gonna go do domestic work again, ever, ever." All the Isseis were doing that, I'm not going to do it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

CT: I got the San Francisco Chronicle, the people in front, the house, I read there was a civil service test taking place in San Francisco, so I told my father I needed a quarter, I'm going to go to San Francisco. I took my civil service test, I came home, it was easy. You know why? When we were in camp, all the Nihonjins were so smart, you know, and we didn't have to study like crazy, everybody was smart. And so within a week, I told my father, "I'm not going to go clean house, I'll do anything, but not that." But within a week I got this thing, and it said, "Job openings," Alameda Naval Air Station, Treasure Island, Oakland Army Base, all this around, gosh, the Alameda Naval Air Station. So I got my money to get on the bus, transferred twice, and I went to Alameda Naval Air Station. I was the first one there, and they opened at quarter to seven, the employment office, and the next shift was quarter to eight, but I said, "Early bird gets the worm," so I was there at six-thirty. And when it finally opened up, quarter-to, I went in and there were women. And so I said, "I came to apply for a position," and they said, well, they were very nice, they just slipped me a paper and it had all this, and you filled it in. And I finished it and I brought it back. And so I waited, they said, "We'll call you." There were about eight people, one by one, I was there, the first one, for at least half an hour, and then people came in later. Then pretty soon they started calling people, they did the same thing, and they started calling these people, I was there first. And everyone went up, and they were going out for an interview, I knew that, they said, "Go to Building so and so," and I'm there from quarter to seven, this is almost quarter to twelve. And I'm thinking, well, we've been through this, they're not going to hire me.

So I thought, I was so angry, and I was about to leave, then three officers came in, navy men, and then this one has stripes, and I looked again, and I thought, "I know him." I said, "Excuse me, Mr. Lajeunesse? And he looks at me and he said, "Yes, oh, yes, young lady, what can I do for you?" I said, "You may not remember me," said, "You're I-ku-ko," he remembered me. He was my principal in grammar school. I forgot to tell you, when we left, my mother sent the school See's candy, a one-pound box, my brother took to his third-grade teacher, I did to my low eighth teacher, and then a two-pound box to the principal, he was our principal. And when I saw him, I recognized him. Yeah, and I said, "You probably won't remember me, but you were my principal at Porter school." He said, "Of course I remember you, I-ku-ko," he went, "I-ku-ko." He said, "What can I do for you?" And I said, "Well, I think they're prejudiced." I'm just this dumb sixteen-year-old kid, I didn't have any gift of gab. And I said, "I've been here since it opened, I was here since six-thirty, and I was the first one at quarter to seven to put in my application. Everybody went out for an interview, but I've been here since six-thirty. I think they're prejudiced." [Laughs] You know, stupid me. And he said, "Don't worry, young lady, I-ku-ko, I'll take care of this." I found out he was the head of employment on the whole base, and he was right under the... there's an admiral, there's a full admiral, and there's two other admirals. But he was right below that, captain, captain was right below the admiral, and then vice admiral and the something admiral. But, "I'll take care of that." And I saw him get on the phone, came back out, and I heard him raise his voice, and all were looking at him and they were looking at me, and I knew. And he came out, got on the boat and came out, he said, "You go here." And he took me outside, the stopped a jeep, a sailor on a jeep, "Take this young lady to Building ONR, and direct her to the office." So I said, "Thank you very much, Mr. Lajeunesse." And so I thought, well, I won't get the job. Well, I'll go over there and that'll be it. Well, the sailor jumped off, he led me into this building, had a code, and then the guard in there opened it up. It was huge, it was the biggest building on Alameda, over a thousand people in that building. And so he said, "Go up those stairs, and this office, you're to go to, it's there.

So I went in there, by then it's about five to twelve, and there's a woman in uniform, and she's called a WAVE, they were called WAVES, and the women in the army were called WACs, W-A-C, and the women who joined the navy were called WAVES. And she looks, and I said to this gentleman, "I was sent from the employment office," and he said, "Yes," and he said, "Oh, you came just in time." And she said, "You're taking my place?" [Laughs] I mean, sixteen, here she is. "Well, I'm out of here." And by then it was noontime, and she said, "I'm out of here." And this man said, "Well, good luck to you," something, he called her. All she said was, "Well, everything's on the desk, you have to do this, this, this." In five minutes she told me what to do, she didn't care, but she was insulted. Not only an Asian, Oriental, but a kid, and sixteen... sixteen, they look like twenty-eight now, but at that time, I looked like fifteen. And so he said, "Well, it's lunchtime now, would you like to have lunch?" And I said, "Well, whatever you think I should do." And he said, "Let's have Millie help you out," and he had a girl come in. And then that lady said, "You've got to do this," she just yelled at me, everything, and in five minutes, I got there five minutes to twelve. And so she took off, and she was discharged that day. So I had a notebook, my shorthand notebook, and in camp we took shorthand. Was I glad, everything she told me, I was writing down in shorthand, this tablet. I thought, boy, I hope I could transcribe it, here she took off, she was so angry that a kid like me was taking her place. And so this man said, "I'm sure you're going to have not much time to read it over, so why don't you just have lunch with Mille or something, unless you want to leave, you may leave if you wish, and come back tomorrow. But our shift is seven forty-five, would that be all right with you?" I said, "That's fine." I thought, "I'm not going to be choosy." And they started out with a hundred and forty-two dollars, and you know, that was a lot of money then, hundred forty-two dollars? When I was thinking my father got eighteen dollars a months in camp, I get there, I'm sixteen, hundred forty-two dollars a month I started out. But I had passed my civil service test, so I thought, I can't remember if they tested me, it's okay.

And so the next day I got up early, went to do my job, and my boss said, "Did you understand what so-and-so said?" 'Yes, I think. May I ask you?" But I had written down in my notebook, thank goodness I took it with me. And so I did all this kind of stuff. The only thing, the board that I had to write on was real large, and she was a six-footer, this WAVE. And so my boss calls downstairs, and then he'd say, "I want a three step, da-da-da," and within about fifteen minutes, these two sailors came running up, and they had a stepladder for me. So I got to write on it. And I wrote everything, what I saw the reports, what was supposed to put down. And then it was about part numbers, what was wrong with the aircraft. And so then pretty soon, about ten men came, and my boss introduces me. And I said, "I think I did it right, this is for..." and one man said, "Well, goddamn, it's the first time I could read the damn thing," he went like that. I was flabbergasted. And the Japanese as a whole had good writing, neat writing. And so he introduced me to all of them, and they were so happy, and so it was a report on what they needed to do on their particular aircraft. And so they were so nice, and they were so happy, and, "Are you going to stay?" I said, "I think so." I wasn't sure if I was going to get fired or what. And then the girl named Millie next, and she said, "Did you bring your lunch today?" I said, "Well, no, is there a cafeteria?" She said, "Well, we have a cafeteria, but we have a truck that comes here, same food. Just run down there and you pick what you want and you pay and bring it up." She took me down. And the job was so easy that Millie said to me, that WAVE, that work, took her all day to do it." You finished by ten-thirty." But ten-thirty, quarter to eleven, I was finished with the job. I said, unless there was something I wasn't doing. And so my boss, I was in a private room with him, he yells to this other supervisor, "Do you need some help?" And h said, "Do I need some help?" He says, "Well, I've got here, Cookie, would you like to have her help you?" He said, "Oh, please, please." And so then Millie was in that room, so he says, "Millie, have Cookie do, da-da-da." I finished my job before noon. I thought, unless I didn't do something, but that's how long that WAVE was getting, she was working there, took all day. But the Nihonjins were a little different, you do the best you can. And I thought, boy, I hope I did it right.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

CT: And then I told them, they were going to promote me, and I said, no, the most I can work here is one year, because I wanted to go to college, and I have to commute to Berkeley. And, so, well, then, can you take, they said, "You could come in the afternoon," I said, "No, I have to go to college in Berkeley." Now, I was going to go to UC Berkeley, but this lady who was very well-informed, she was an older Nisei, she told my mother and father, "Cookie-san could go to UC for four years, but if she wants to be a teacher, so she's going to have a heck of a time getting a job. You should send her to Armstrong College." But Armstrong College tuition was like a hundred dollars every quarter, it was very expensive. Cal was $29.95 a semester, twice a year. Armstrong was quarter basis. But, she said, "She will be so well trained that, forget the prejudice, she'll be so well trained at Armstrong, that they'll hire her, they know Armstrong." And Armstrong was two blocks from Cal, but the tuition was so expensive. And Cal, like I say, was, at that time, $29.95 a semester, I guess I remember. But Armstrong every quarter, we had to pay over a hundred dollars. So my father took the advice of this lady, Nisei lady, she was much older, she was in her fifties already. And so I went to Armstrong, I was floored when I went to Armstrong, I didn't know anybody because I was in another camp, and most of these people in Berkeley, San Francisco, were all Topaz people. But a lot of Japanese people, girls were there, and they were all there at least one semester there, because it was still 1945, '46. And so I realized, when I went into that class, we had this screwy teacher in Amache, I took shorthand and we thought she was crazy, but people would dictate to you and write down, da-da-da. She made us memorize, on the back of a short book, they have all these short forms, you know. And if the teacher reads it, you're supposed to write it down, she didn't. She made us memorize it, she never called it out. So I knew that by heart as though somebody was dictating to me, she never, we had to memorize them, and we had four hundred and thirty-two or something of those characters, we had to memorize it.

But after Armstrong, we had a tough time getting a job, too, the Niseis. But this woman at Armstrong College, knew people in UC Berkeley, so she sent me for an interview. And so this one lady who interviewed me was very nice to me, and then she knew I was well-trained from Armstrong, they have an outstanding school. But then she changes her mind and she says, "Do you know Mary Tamaki?" And I said, "Oh, I graduated Armstrong with her." "Oh, no, I don't think so," she says. She says, "She's my cleaning lady." And said, "Oh?" So I thought it's an Issei lady took on, she said, "She's the best cleaning woman I've ever had." And she said, "But you know, I like you better because you speak perfect English, Mary Tamaki does not. I said, "Well, I went to Armstrong College with Amy, but on the campus Mary's getting her degree here, but the younger sister Amy and I are at Armstrong. And then she's thinking of hiring me to do her custodial work, you know, domestic work. I thought, "What is this?" and I left. She had me come back two more times, and then she hired me in this department. So when she took me, she finally hired me, I went two more times, she opens the door, she said, "I want you to meet a new member of our staff, we'll call her Cookie Takano." And one girl jumps up and she says, "Cookie." And this Caucasian girl jumps up, and she said, "You know Ms. Takano?" and she said, "She was my tutor at Armstrong College." That girl and I graduated at the same time same time. For us, it took us two or three months to get a job, and she got hired on the... and she said, "I would have flunked out if it weren't for Cookie." Well, yeah, she was from a rich, rich family, so Armstrong, there was a Mr. and Mrs. president, and called me in and said they've donated so much to the college that, "Would you kind of give her extra tutoring?" So I did. They didn't pay me, I didn't think of it, my mother and father thought, "How wonderful that they ask you. Don't even ask about money." I said, "Well, they should pay me, don't you think?" and they thought that was terrible for me to even think that, that I was even asked was honor enough. So I did. I didn't know when she was going, she got a job two months before I did, because, you know, we all had a hard time getting a job. And she said, "Well, since you know Ms. Takano," she said, "We'll move your desk." You know, that girl said to me, she started at like thirty, forty dollars more than I did for this position, same position, but you know what? She only lasted two more months. She wasn't the sharpest, but I don't think this job was for her. Because I tutored her at Armstrong. Anyway, she said, "I can't stand this job." And I said, "Well, you learned everything at Armstrong, it's not tough." "I don't like it," she said. So she stayed about two or three more months and then she quit, but she was from a wealthy family. But I was the only Japanese, I think, for months. But you know, UC Berkeley was the first ones that started hiring the Japanese coming out of the colleges. I was there forty-two years. I had to teach the PhDs how to get their thesis, you know, their PhD dissertations. We became the number one department in the country, my department, it was amazing. But I loved my job. But the Japanese people that came out of Armstrong, well, even out of camp, if they got a job at Cal, they took it. We had a lot of Japanese got hired, and you know, most of us worked for over forty-two years. I worked there forty-two years, most of the other Japanese people that I know, they worked at least forty years.

BN: How old were you when you first started there?

CT: I came out of college nineteen, maybe?

BN: You were so young, you graduated high school early.

CT: Yeah, that's right.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BN: But I just want to end by just asking you about why you feel it's important for people like you who've lived through that time period to talk about the camps and those experiences for the younger people.

CT: Yes. Do you know that the thing I think is from our parents. No matter what, you do the very best you can. I mean, you just don't say, "Oh, well, that's okay," you did the very, very best. Then you're not like the rest of the crowd. And if you have to do one more than that, where nobody will, "Oh, don't do it," do it. And at UC Berkeley, I think they were the biggest employers of Nihonjins after the war. Of course, some people were lucky enough to get... I had many parents that went across, they went to San Francisco and they couldn't get a job. And the ones that did, then they were paying twenty-five cents to get there, twenty-five cents to get back. For us, it was just ten cents to get on the streetcar. But I would say that it was the... of our parents, that they expected us not to just do mediocre, you have to do one better. And we said, "Well, why do we have to do one better? We're same as anybody." They said, "Well, for one thing, the prejudice against you, but not only that, it's just, you do better than you're expected to." The Isseis all had this thing that they pounded on us, do the best you can, just don't say, well, she did it. And I got hired there, but you know, I became the head of that department within two years. And the people were older than I am, and people I hired, I would say to them, "I have to train you a solid year, so I'm not going to hire you unless you promise me you will be here a minimum of three years." You know, they all stayed with me a long time. There's a woman came to me, she says, "I've had fifteen years of experience," so she said, well, I said to her, "You'll have to forget everything, I'm going to teach you da-da-da." And she said she went home and told her husband, "I don't know about this gal, and she said she's going to teach me? You know what? I'm ten years older than she is." She said after the first week, she went home and she told her husband, "I'm glad she didn't fire me." Armstrong College was meticulous, absolutely meticulous. It was expensive, but you got one comma wrong, or one whatever wrong. So she said, "I had told you I had ten years' experience, didn't I say that to you?" And she said, "You had to teach me like we came out of kindergarten," she said to me. She worked for me thirty years. And people I hired later, if they were putting their husbands through school, or they would get a master's, they stayed at least six years or eight years. So I can honestly say that people, many people worked for me for at least twenty, twenty-five years. I was so grateful, I worked there forty-two years, but that's my second home.

But a lot of Japanese people did work at UC Berkeley because they went on to college and all and they couldn't get a job, they came back to Berkeley and they were hired. So my girlfriend Nancy Fujita, Nakayama now, she worked in the president's office, and I worked in the building where it was called Giannini Hall, and my department was very rich because Giannini was A.P. Giannini, Bank of America. He started the Bank of America when he was, it was called Banca d'Italia, Bank of Italy, but later became bank of America. But during the depression, he was a farmer, and he brought his cart in from the country and he sold it to the people. And then he lent them money and the charged them interest, and he started this little bank called Banca d'Italia, and then became the biggest bank in the world. And then so our building is called Giannini Hall, because A.P. Giannini, Amadeo, whatever, and a big portrait of him. So that's the building I worked in, in Giannini Hall. But there was an Italian man during the depression who made all this money. So it's amazing, so they were surprised when somebody said to me, "Did you know Mr. So and so?" And I said, "Yes, he was the Rice King before the war." They said, yes, Koda, I said, "They were in our camp, and my father knows him well." He said, "Well, he was just here in our building today." I said, "Oh, for heaven sakes, the Kodas, and the rice king. And I said before the war, there was a Potato King, Potato King was Japanese also. And then Hirasaki, did you know Sumi and Manabi?

BN: Yes, very well.

CT: Yeah, he started the big strawberry... in fact, I just talked to his wife, she called me, she's in a rest home, but she all of a sudden didn't want to see anybody. But her daughter called me yesterday, and I talked to her. Manabi and my husband were like this, they were in the army together. And so when my husband died, Manabi was one of the, took part in the funeral, and Senator Inouye, we all did. It was nice. So two Jewish people came to speak on behalf of my husband, because my husband was with the group that saved the Jews. And then we went to Israel, so when I think of it, it was really interesting meeting up with the Jewish people in Israel. And we hired people from Israel as professors, visiting professors, and they said to me, "Know that you have a friend in Israel," and they said, "Please come." So my husband and I, a group went to, they're from JACL, about twenty-five of us went to Israel, and we were treated so nicely. You know, the Jewish people have kind of the same kind of... the Japanese.

BN: Well, and I think there was a special connection with the 522 guys because of that.

CT: Yes, exactly, 522 Charlie. So Manabi and my husband, he just passed away. He was teaching at Harvard, he was a good friend of ours, he was a professor at Harvard, he just died last year. If I say the name... and they put him on the float last year's New Year parade.

BN: Yeah, thank you so much.

CT: Well, not at all.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.