Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kay Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: Kay Matsuoka
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 29 & 30, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mkay-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Okay. Today is December 30, 1999 and we're continuing an interview with Kay Matsuoka. I'm Alice Ito and Dana Hoshide is the videographer. And, Kay, I wanted to take you a little bit back in time again to shortly after Pearl Harbor. And I wanted to ask you, you mentioned that you and your parents and your family started getting rid of some of your things. Can you tell me about that?

KM: Well, the first thing, you know we were told was get rid of everything Japanese. And we were sort of interested in lot of Japanese things. And we had a whole pile of records, 'cause all of us liked to sing. And boy, they really burned real fast. [Laughs] And Japanese books, just anything Japanese, we just burned it all up. And then in the haste of everything, we had burned, by mistake all our certificates too, like our graduation and so forth, which I don't have anymore -- like high school graduation, and my CSF certificate, and athletic certificate. So we don't have anything like that. And so when I tell my grandsons, or my sons what I had accomplished, they say, "I can't believe that, because you don't have any proof." [Laughs] And all the newspaper clipping, we just burned it all up.

AI: Why was that? Why were people saying you had to get rid of these things?

KM: Well, whether the government said it or not, but people, just the Japanese people said that if you have anything Japanese, education or anything, proof of that, they can put you in a, what do they call it -- ? Concentration camp, in like Missoula, and different places like that. And so they said, "Best to get rid of it." And so that's the way, we just followed the hysteria.

AI: Did you know any families who, where the fathers were taken away?

KM: Oh yes. Uh-huh. I had a, my girlfriend that I was bowling with while I was, you know, when the Pearl Harbor struck. Her uncle, they were very interested, navy, and then the naval ships would come in and she would entertain the different ones. And so they had that record and he was pulled into Missoula, and that's where he died.

AI: At the Missoula internment camp?

KM: Yeah, because of the, it was so cold. And I guess his health finally broke down.

AI: So, after he was taken away, they never saw him?

KM: They had no correspondence. I mean she just, no letter, and all the letters were censored too at that time.

AI: That must have been very hard for her.

KM: Yeah. Yeah, it was.

AI: Oh my. Well, that certainly was a difficult time.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: I want to thank you for explaining that.

KM: Yeah, yeah. But you know, all these difficult times is like giving birth. After you see the baby, you forget. And that's the way with me. I just forgot. But at that time we did have a bitterness, and wondered why? And then we kept saying, "How come the Germans and Italians didn't have to go in?" But of course we knew that because of our facial characteristics we, they could point us out right away.

AI: And they couldn't as easily pick out the Germans...?

KM: Yeah, no, yeah.

AI: ...or Italians?

KM: But through all this, my parents kept saying, "We just have to obey the government and do the best." And then that's why we kept going.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.