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

<Begin Segment 1>

Alice Ito: Today is December 29, 1999 and we're interviewing Kay Matsuoka. My name is Alice Ito and Dana Hoshide is the videographer. So Kay, thanks very much for coming here today.

Kay M.: Uh-huh. My privilege. [Laughs]

AI: I wanted to start off with, just with some family background and ask you a little bit about your mother, her family, where they were from in Japan.

KM: My mother's name was Yoshiyo Kutsunai, and then she married my father Nakahara. And she came in the early 1900s, sometime. I really don't remember exact date. But she was married in Japan for seven years and it was a real nice family. They all liked her, but one of the sister-in-laws, said that, well, my, her brother was a chonan, "the first one that carries the name," and said that (they) have to have a child. And she was married for seven years and didn't have any. So that was the only reason she was sent back. And when she was sent back she was kind of disgraced, and all her belongings put on a cart in broad daylight, taken back. So she says, "I'm never gonna get married." But, in the meantime, her folks said, "No, you're the only one in the whole family that isn't married, and for a parent it's kind of a concern." And somehow her story got around and somebody said, "Well why don't she go over to America as a picture bride? Would you like to start then?" And she said, "Well, then nobody knows me. I have a brand new start, so okay." And so that's how it started. And the pictures were exchanged. And in the (meantime), well, they got their permits and everything all arranged and she finally came, landed in San Francisco.

AI: Do you, now where did she grow up? Where did your mother grow up?

KM: In Hiroshima.

AI: Hiroshima.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: Was that right in the city?

KM: Uh, well, it was sort of in country. Right now, now it's all incorporated into city.

AI: But at that time it was more of the countryside.

KM: And my mother was very good in weaving. A long time ago then they used to weave their own material to make kimonos. She was telling me she was always so fast. And all the rest would say, "How come you did it so fast?" But she just loved it. And I wish I had a piece of that material. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, so it sounds like she had a special skill.

KM: Yeah. I heard that she was very good with her hands.

AI: Do you know much about her childhood, whether she attended school, or anything about what her family did?

KM: Yeah, well her family, their profession or whatever you want to call it, the father was a geta-ya. They made geta. And it was a special geta out of a certain kind of wood. And so all the high-class people put a order in. And then her name meaning, Kutsunai, kutsu is kutsu, you know, "shoes," and nai is "no more." And so I say, I used to kid her and say, "Oh, you didn't have any kutsu, but you had a lot of getas. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's funny.

KM: Yeah, so that's how they made their living. And my mother did lot of work, too, you know, out in the field. They had a little vegetable garden. And for that era -- now my mother was, her father said, some family, girls don't have to go to school, just the boys go. But they were allowed to go.

AI: Is that right?

KM: And so, she, so some people that I know, they don't even, they can't even read or write. But my mother wrote hiragana, katakana, and some other kanjis. So she was in the class of more educated.

AI: Right, which was unusual for girls at that time.

KM: Yeah, for that era.

AI: And for people who don't know, when you say that after her first marriage she was sent back, that meant that she was sent back to her parents' home.

KM: Yeah.

AI: Was that right?

KM: Yeah, Uh-huh.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Now, do you happen to know much about your father's...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...and, family?

KM: Yeah. My dad was the only son. And then when he came to America to make his fortune, well there was no one to take over the family name. So they adopted a man from, well they had several sons. And, but he never had gone back to Japan. And as a first son, for the namesake, he should have (taken care of) like a ohaka, cemetery for the, all the generation. (As) he was responsible, it was just left. And so he went back after I made the dressmaking -- I mean I was able to pay his way. But anyway, he was a farmer, and he just had a dream that he wanted to come to America to make his fortune. And his parents, because of being the only son, it kinda tore their hearts. And he never did go back until I sent him, and by that time the parents were gone. But he was a very educated man. And oh, his calligraphy and carving all this letter and (paint) it in gold. He did that in, while he was in camp. And then my mother gave it to me for my children, and they played with it and now I wish I kept it 'cause I could have donated that to the museum. All petrified wood, you know.

AI: So, what was your father's name?

KM: Gosaku, Gosaku Nakahara.

AI: And where was his family from?

KM: Hiroshima. They were both from Hiroshima. But you know, Hiroshima is pretty big prefecture.

AI: Yeah.

KM: So, but he was in a deeper country, countryside I guess.

AI: So, even though his family was a farming family, he was also educated and could...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: and write?

KM: He was sent to school. And like I said, both of them were for that period's time, very educated. And so, consequently when they came to America and we were born, they really wanted to educate us for bilingual.

AI: I see.

KM: So that was their goal all the time. No matter how poor they are, they sacrificed so much for us.

AI: Do you happen to know when your father immigrated to the U.S.?

KM: Well, it was the early 1900s. He was here several years before my mother was, as a picture bride came.

AI: And do you happen to know about when she came to the U.S.?

KM: Well, you know I really can't tell, but, you know I was born in 1917. And my mother came, she didn't have me for about three or four years. So I kinda estimated around 1912 or so.

AI: Uh-huh.

KM: And Dad was here before, so...

AI: Uh-huh. Right. So, around 1912 your mother came and she was about thirty years old at that time?

KM: Yeah, about thirty. Yeah. Well, maybe not quite thirty. Around, well, approximately. [Laughs]

AI: And do you know your dad's age, about how old he was at that time?

KM: When he came?

AI: Yeah.

KM: My dad was eight years older than my mom, so he was in the thirties, quite, maybe late thirties.

AI: I see.

KM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, now when you were born, where were they living?

KM: Where were we living?

AI: Uh-huh.

KM: In Moneta, Moneta, California, which is a little town. And it was, we were raising strawberries, I understand at that time. And a midwife, a friend delivered me.

AI: At the home?

KM: At the home. And I was so tiny that they thought, they said, "Well that baby's gonna die." But here I am. [Laughs]

AI: Oh my, oh my. What a situation. Well, if you were in strawberries then, did you, do you know did you live there in Moneta very long?

KM: Not long. The strawberry land that strawberries grow on, you know it's so many years -- well four years or so at the most, and they change. So I moved around a lot. And so our home was never a permanent home. And like I said, they thought it was work, and make some money and go back to Japan. So from Moneta to Compton, and Compton is where my brother and sister was born. And then we moved to Gardena, and Torrance, and Harbor City and the last one was in Lomita. That's where we evacuated from.

AI: Well, let me go back to your brother and sister, and what are their names and when were they born?

KM: Yeah. My brother is, was, is November 2, 1919, we were all two years apart. And his name is Chiyuki Nakahara. And my sister's name is Sadame Nakahara, Nakamori and she was born in 1921 in January. In fact, she'll be having her birthday pretty soon. [Laughs]

AI: Oh. Well, tell me about when, as you were growing up, did you and your brother and sister ever help in the farming at all?

KM: Oh yes.

AI: What were some of your duties?

KM: Well, as soon as we were able to work or do anything we had to get up early in the morning. What I remember vividly is during the winter, we used to have a lot of fog and frost. And because my parents were poor, they couldn't hire anybody and so we did part of the work at morning. And we would, like picking spinach and tying carrots and things like that. And because of the frost our hands were frostbitten and I used to have cracks, bleeding. And then, but we would put mineral oil on, and get dressed and walk to school which was only three miles one way. And my kids still don't believe me, but we did. And then coming home we would do our homework, [Laughs] walking to go to Japanese school. And so our time really, we didn't have any idle time. And my folks always taught us to make use of your time, 'cause that time lost will never come back. And, 'course we were very competitive with our Caucasian friends. And we didn't want them to beat us in anything, so we really, really studied, and... so, we did a lot of, like when we had a straw -- not strawberry, but boysenberry, and all this stickers, and we didn't have any gloves on, you know -- we just did it. And then we were competitive with each other, and my brother was a real fast picker. [Laughs]

AI: So...

KM: But we just realized that we had to do this, 'cause we realized our folks' position. And we never grudged them or -- some people you know, we hear, "Oh, do we have to do it again?" Or something like... I, we never, we just never thought of those things. We just did it because we wanted to, and to help them. 'Course, we get lot of praise, you know. [Laughs]

AI: Right, right. Well, now when you were first starting grade school, was Japanese your first language? Had you been speaking Japanese in the home?

KM: Yeah. I didn't know a bit of English.

AI: So what happened when you started school?

KM: You know, that's really a kind of a miracle I marvel at. I said, "Gee I wonder," you know. But we never were behind in class, and we were always listening. I always tell my mother, "Why didn't you learn English when we spoke English." But we, that was the primary language was Japanese. And when we went to Japanese school, once we get into the yard of the school playground, no English was spoken because the teacher forced us to learn Japanese. I think that's why we progressed so rapidly...

AI: I see.

KM: ...and also the fact that we talked Japanese at home.

AI: Right. So you always spoke Japanese at home?

KM: Yeah.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: And did you have Japanese school every day after school?

KM: Every day, five days. And Saturday was a Saturday school, and Sunday was Sunday school, so we got it all around. And then when I grew up into the early teens, teenage, my mother wanted me to learn flower arrangement and tea ceremony and how to dress with the Japanese kimono and everything. And how I hated it. And, but I know that I had the knowledge of it, and pictures that, you know, of it. I said I should've appreciated it, and put my heart into it. [Laughs]

AI: So did you have special lessons, or go to special classes to learn all this?

KM: Yeah. There was a lady from Japan that was interested and wanted to teach me. And then when I started learning, then my girlfriends' parents heard about it, and my girlfriends -- so we had about ten people in the class. And every year we would present a program strictly in Japanese, which I have a picture at home. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, my. Well now getting back to grade school a little bit more, I wanted to ask you what kind of memories you have from the grade school years? Were...?

KM: Well, grade school years, our school, Harbor City Grammar School, had a one night of Japan night. I don't really remember all the details, but we all get a notice, and it's in English. And 'course we brought it home. And then Dad said, "I'll volunteer." And then I was so ashamed because he was such a broken English. [Laughs] But now, today I realize I should have appreciated, because some parents, even if they don't -- do know English, they wouldn't go. And so he asked in his broken language, "What do you want me to do?" They said, "Oh, I want, we want lanterns," and so forth. And then, "Can you help us with the program?" And then we were going to Japanese school. And we had what you call gaku geikai every -- two times a year. And we would all learn different Japanese dances and so forth. And so he said, "Oh, I could get a group of girls to dance for you." And so I still remember they put a pompom on our ear, and then we all danced the song that we learned in Japanese school. And that's how my dad was just all out to help if it comes to education. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, how interesting, because, as you say a lot of the Issei parents...

KM: Yeah, and I was so ashamed because, you know, he just has the broken English. But they understood, somehow, and they communicated. We did that every year all through my grammar school years.

AI: My.

KM: Yeah, so he was automatically kind of a volunteer, always self-appointed. [Laughs]

AI: Well, now in the, in your grade school then, were there many other Japanese American kids?

KM: Oh, yes. See 'cause the most of the, where we were, I went to grammar school, they all went to Japanese school, the same Japanese school. So the advantage was that when we had a program we all knew the songs or dances. And so it was easy to form.

AI: Oh, so out of your class of maybe what, twenty or twenty-five...?

KM: Well, which class do you mean now? The grammar school or the...?

AI: The grammar school.

KM: High school?

AI: Grammar school.

KM: Grammar school. Grammar school, let's see, the average class was thirty-to-forty. And I would say, oh, maybe about six were Japanese. But in grammar school, I don't remember mixed ethnic group, like a African American or anything. But it was when I went to high school, then I got acquainted with Polish people, Jewish people and African American. He was the only African American, but he was a friendly, good guy. I mean, his name was McQueen and my name was Nakahara, so I always sat in back of him and we had, we were, got real friends.

AI: Well, now, so all along, in grammar school and high school it sounds like there were other Japanese Americans...

KM: Yes.

AI: your class.

KM: Yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Do you recall any negative incidents of prejudice or any kind of discrimination as you were growing up in school?

KM: Not between students. I don't recall anything. It was after I graduated and then I got into dressmaking, that's when I felt it. [Laughs]

AI: But as a child...

KM: No, no.

AI: really didn't affect you very much?

KM: No, no, no, no. But my parents always taught us that if you get into an argument, lose. Lose by -- and then win, by losing. Because you're different, and you're Japanese and you're never gonna make a, win any kind of case. And so that was kind of instilled into us.

AI: What other kinds of lessons did they teach you, especially about being Japanese?

KM: Well, they said that because we're different, and we're gonna be, have lot of prejudice, says, "Study harder, and do the best you can, and then compete and then get honors." And so most of the Oriental people got the honor, like honor society, or scholarship, because of the fact that they studied harder.

AI: And you were aware that because of prejudice your parents told you...

KM: Yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: would need to --

KM: Yeah, most of the parents encouraged us, and supported us.

AI: I see. Did your parents encourage you in any kind of religious or spiritual learning? Were you raised in a...?

KM: Yeah, well, see they were so busy in the farm that only time we went to church was when memorial service. And I used to think, well, I was raised as a Buddhist -- you know, every seven days, you know how they have the service. And I said, "My gosh, how long did it take to go [Laughs] complete this service? But, then all the people that they knew in Japan that were relatives and they hadn't seen for a long time, well they would say certain day that he passed away, well then we would hold a memorial service. And that's all I remember. But later on though when we had a Buddhist teacher come every Saturday to teach just Buddhists alone, we learned a lot of Buddhist songs and Buddhist way. But it was not through the parents more, but it was from the teacher. And all our teachers came from Japan directly. And then they went to USC or UCLA to learn English. And then for their spending money, well they taught Japanese.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: Well, I'm wondering about the Japanese American community. Did you feel there was much of a community? Were there community activities?

KM: Yeah. There was lot of community. Uh-huh.

AI: What types of things do you remember?

KM: Yeah, well we had bon odori and they had judo group and judo competition, and kendo. Very much in attraction to the, some of 'em that come, Caucasians even joined. And I don't know, oshogatsu was one of the highlights. Everybody in Japanese school, you know they had a long table. They would decorate it with matsu and take and ume. That's shochikubai.

AI: Maybe, for people who don't know that, could you explain that a little bit?

KM: Yeah. Well matsu (pine, sho) and take (bamboo, chiku) is longevity, and then ume (plum blossom, bai) is supposed to be fragrance. And it is one of the earlier blossoms. And so those three put together, they always get a little flower arrangement. And every table would have that arrangement. And we would all meet in our Japanese school. And the Japanese school would have American flag and a Japan flag. And then we would start with a ceremony of worshipping emperor in Japan. They had a picture of the emperor with a little sheet over it. It's all covered. And the teacher would say, "Saikeirei," (utmost form of bowing in respect) that means to bow your head. And we were never allowed to see the emperor's picture, 'cause that was very sacred. There was supposed to, it was, he was supposed to be treated like a god. And so we would have a one-minute saikeirei, and then (look) up. And then when they put this curtain back on -- the two PTA fathers would do that. They would have white gloves on, and very, very, you know, very right. Everything was -- and so we learned all these, how, the ways of Japan. But now I heard that it's all gone now, after the war. But it's amazing that I still remember all those things because it's, we were made to do it. I mean that was the only way to do it.

AI: And did you, did you ever wish that you didn't have to do that?

KM: No. Well, that part I didn't mind. But I didn't like going to Japanese school, or going to Saturday school because I, when I got into junior high school, I wanted to be active in athletics and after-school activities so that I could earn letters, and get my name in the school paper, and so forth. But I had to sacrifice a lot of that. But somehow toward the end I made all that up. I mean I finally got all the points, and 'course I had to be the highest, you know I'm always striving -- [Laughs] -- 'cause my parents always said, "Do the best and excel above the, your Caucasian friends." So I had a lot of competitive spirit. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, tell me about, especially as you got into high school. High school is usually a time where most kids are real concerned about fitting in and being part of a group.

KM: Yeah.

AI: Did you have a group? Did you feel like you had a group you were part of? Or was...

KM: Well, I had a, one Japanese girl -- we had four in our class, and I had one girl, she was from Lomita Grammar School, but we happened to be in the same homeroom. And so we became pals. And then we seemed to have the same interests. And so we took the same course. And so to this day we still write back and forth. And she's in Japan now. She married one of the executives of the Mitsubishi, and kinda had a nice position up there. And I went to see her. And her and I, well, the teacher always picked on us as a kind of a partner. And so we performed a lot of things during gym with this, well they called it dumbbells -- it's a, like different kind of drills and so forth. And then we kept such a good timing that every time they have a assembly (program) they asked us to do it. And those are the memories that I have. So I never felt like we were prejudice, because the teacher seemed to know who to pick and they -- and then we, when we did anything, we try to do it our best. And then we didn't skimp on practice and that made the difference. And we were always there when we were told to be there. [Laughs]

AI: What about, now you mentioned you were very interested in sports. What were your favorites?

KM: Oh, I had lot of favorites. I had, I like basketball, baseball, and hockey, soccer...

AI: Oh my. Were there girls' teams --

KM: And you know, I'm short. In those days the basketball was in three courts, if you remember. Well anyway, we can't go all over. The center has to stay in center, guard has to stay, and forward. Well I was a forward, and everybody says, "How come you're forward, you're so short?" But you know, when the other team, they're tall, and they're guarding me, well I would go under, sneak and make a ball. [Laughs] That's where I excelled. I mean I was a good sneaker. [Laughs]

AI: It sounds like you had a lot of fun.

KM: So our class, you know, got a lot of awards for being, from playing or classes together.

AI: Oh my. Well, let me ask you a little bit more. During your high school years and socializing and friendships, did you date at all?

KM: No.

AI: Was there dating at that time?

KM: Well, we never had a date. And then I never, somehow, I don't know, I just never was interested in boys. I was just studying and doing things. So I, but the only time that we had a social, I was going to a social was a junior prom and senior prom. And that time I went by myself or with my girlfriend. [Laughs] We didn't do much dancing, so, nobody hardly asked us. And we would kind of, we just sat around. And we volunteered to serving people.

AI: So serving punch?

KM: Just to be there, you know refreshments, and so forth. And our school was so strict 'cause our principal came from France. And she wanted us to be in uniform. So we had to always -- you probably don't remember this either -- midis (and) skirt. White top and then a (dark) skirt. And the skirt had to be a certain length, your knees can't show. And you can't wear any make-up. And we just abided by her rules. And the only time that we can wear dress was two weeks before summer vacation, 'cause it got kinda warm. And that had to be cotton, and had to have sleeves and high neck. [Laughs]

AI: And this was a public high school?

KM: Yeah.

AI: Well, I'm sorry, was that in Lomita?

KM: Well, she -- yes, Lomita. I think the reason was because she was from France, and France was very strict. And she was a very strict principal.

AI: I see.

KM: But that's when, that's the era that I was in. And there was no, hardly any discipline problems because they knew that she wasn't going to stand for it.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, now, during high school is a time when a lot of people are starting to think about the future, and what kinds of hopes and dreams did you have as you were growing up in high school?

KM: Well, I took shorthand and typing, and I loved it and I got several awards for being a real fast, speedy. But, so I had, what little movies that I was allowed to see -- 'cause my parents, like I said was poor, and I had to work -- I saw a few that, and the secretaries were always dressed. And then the boss would give them nice flowers, or take 'em out to lunch. And so I kind of idolized being a secretary. So when I had a scholarship I said, they said, "What is your desire? What is your goal?" And I said, "I'd like to be a secretary." But when I finally came to be senior, my mother and dad sat me down and said, "You know, if you're a secretary, you have to have a boss. And if the boss don't like you, or if his business isn't successful, you're gonna get fired. And then you have nothing." So he says, "Consider being a dressmaker and have a trade in your hand." And what amused, not amused me but really surprises me that my mother even went, said, "One of these days, maybe something might happen after you get married and have children and your husband might get sick, and then you're not gonna have anything to do. But if you have sewing, you could stay at home, you don't have to go out, and while you take care of your children you could make a living." And you know, that came out true. And I just, I mean I'm still to this day, "Mom, how did you know all this?"

AI: So she had a...?

KM: 'Course that would come in later you know.

AI: Yes, so at that time she was really thinking about...

KM: Yeah, uh-huh. And she wanted, so that's the reason I chose to go to Millie Merrill Dress Designing School. I just...

AI: I'm sorry. What was the name of the school?

KM: Millie, Millie Merrill Dress Designing School. She was, she was originally from Wolf Designing School. And all these designing schools are all on West Seventh Avenue in L.A. And we had lots of competition.

AI: Can you tell me about the school? What...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...were your activities?

KM: Well, when I went to this Millie Merrill School, she was just getting started. And so she told me all what her credits were. She had gone to Woodbury and then she went to Wolf, (also Charette,) then she started her own school. Then she found out -- as I learned different phases of dressmaking and designing and so forth -- found out that I could speak Japanese. And so she just decided that she's gonna advertise that we have a bilingual student here that can teach, you know help. And so I had lot of Kibeis and people that came from Japan to learn, and teach them in Japanese how to do this and how to do that. So...

AI: So, did you become like her assistant teacher?

KM: Yeah. Yes...

AI: Teaching the Japanese students from Japan?

KM: For a year after I graduated. So I was there two years.

AI: And I'm sorry. Did you start the dressmaking -- did you begin taking the dressmaking school before you graduated high school?

KM: No, no, no. Well, I did, in a way from private teacher, from private teacher. But, you know, I didn't like, because the fitting wasn't perfect. It was either too big, or too small. When I went to this dressmaking school, you take your measurement and then the pattern you make is just you, nobody else. And then I thought, "Oh, this is it. This is what I want." And so I got interested in designing, something different. And I used to go to like, in Los Angeles like Robinsons and Bullocks, they would have a free fashion show. And I would go there and take my sketch book, and take the designs that I like and I would design it for my students, I mean clients after I had my own shop.

AI: Hmm, I see.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, let me back up a little bit in time before we get too far into the dressmaking, and just finish up about your high school years. Because you've been saying about how your parents sat you down and talked to you about your future, and about the idea of going into dressmaking. And then you were finishing up high school. And, can you tell me about your senior year and your graduation?

KM: Oh, senior year, uh-huh. Okay, well, at the, when we have, we became senior, at the, toward the end, all the class votes for who wants to be the class speaker. And then, so my name was up for one of 'em. And, in fact, I got, the students voted for me. But I don't know about the rules those days but they presented this to the PTA. And they said that in all the history of Narbonne High School, they said they never had an Oriental valedictorian. So they said that this won't do. And so my next people, the next girl got it. And then she didn't want it. She said, "This is not fair." She said, "She should" -- I should have it. But the majority ruled. And so the next thing was that I said, "I'm gonna get my CSF." So I really worked and kinda crammed for my, and I got my CSF. And I became the first Japanese in that high school (and in my graduating class) to become a CSF. But kinda, after that, subsequently, there's a lot of, that got CSF. But they had a big plaque, you know, and then my name was on there.

AI: What does CSF stand for?

KM: Oh, California Federation Scholarship.

AI: Oh. And so even though rightly...

KM: It has to be an average of, average "A" for the four quarters.

AI: Oh, and even though you had the highest grades, and you should've been the valedictorian...

KM: Yeah.

AI: were not?

KM: Yeah. And then see, I got a lot of points toward my athletic ability too. But it just didn't...[Laughs] But that's what you call, what I now call prejudice. But at that time, I was disappointed, but I wasn't bitter or anything.

AI: Were you surprised?

KM: No. But, like my mother and dad always said, "Don't be surprised if they don't select you, because of being Japanese. Just accept it." And so I just accepted it. Shikata ga nai, you know -- [Laughs] -- as the Japanese say.

AI: Tell me about, shikata ga nai.

KM: Shikata ga nai. There's no way, well what can you do? That's actually, so we just have to accept it the best we can.

AI: And at that time, within yourself, did you feel American, or Japanese, both?

KM: Well, I always felt I was neither. I felt like I didn't have any, really. But then, toward the high school and so forth that I stayed, I was longer here, I felt like I'm an American. But I wasn't a pure American because I was half Japanese. [Laughs] I mean I never did feel one way or the other. I just felt like I was kinda mixed. But my Japanese schoolteacher taught us that, "You Niseis, the one that was born in America, you're very fortunate. You have the pride of Japan being born of blood in Japan, Japanese blood, then you have American citizen, and you're educated here, and you have both. And so, you're the best of all the humans. So be proud." And so he, each Japanese school had a school song. And then he wrote a school song, and he told us what it meant, and he told us to be proud and always think of this, and then never bring shame. Then don't, be proud that you have dual citizenship. Because my, when the war broke out, I had to cut my citizenship from Japan. 'Cause it didn't matter, 'cause I'm a girl, so I don't have to go to the army. But like my brother, it meant that he was called, that he would have been called.

AI: Right, right.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, so then at this point here you've graduated and you were going on to dressmaking and you started with Millie Merrill. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? It sounds so interesting that you became a teacher for some of the Kibei students. And at that time were you starting to get interested in designing also?

KM: Well, during the time that I was learning, I went to many fashion shows, like I said. And I didn't know that they had people watching over dress design and modeling. And one day I was sketching like this, and then this man came up and he tapped my shoulder, and he said, "What are you gonna do with that design?" I said, "Well, I'm just copying it for design." I was honest, and said that. And he said, "Well no, all this is exclusive. You're not to take this copy." And so I said, "Oh, I'm sorry." And he said, "Well, you give me that paper." And so he took it back. But from then on, when I go to the fashion show, I put the design in my mind and I go to the bathroom [Laughs] and I sketch it before I forgot. Then I go back and take a look. [Laughs] And that's the way I sewed. And then the teacher really taught me a lot of things that's secret. Because she said, "You have a talent for this designing." And an opportunity opened up when Shirley Temple's studio said that they lost a seamstress. Then each day they had to wait for the cameras and everything, they'd lose that $750. So they said, "If she can, somebody can make it in one day, that the teacher would get $750 for one dress, which is a big price at that time, 1937, you know. And so she appointed me, and of course I did that. And she came for a fitting one time. And then I found out that she was in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. That was the movie that she played in, but I never did get to see the movie.[Laughs] And another time was when I got to fit Jeannette MacDonald. And it was a real bright cerise dress. And when you fit, I was trying to fit her and she, around her bust especially, she said, "Not a wrinkle." Has to be done, I mean it has to be real smooth. And I don't know how many times I did it over and over again, and finally it got, she was satisfied with it. But I never got to see that picture either. But that's the nearest I got to a grownup actress. (Firefly was the movie.)

AI: Wow. Jeanette MacDonald was very big at that time.

KM: Yeah, she, yeah. And so when I realized how much the teacher was making -- she was giving me 25 cents (an hour) when I was an apprentice. And I thought, "Gee, this is dumb." I said, "I should, I ought to open my own shop and all that could be mine." And I said that, but my parents had been so poor for so long that I wanted to help them. That was, because they had sacrificed so much for me. And so one day I told the teacher, "You know, I think I've learned all the tricks of your trade, [Laughs] and I'd like to just quit and have my own shop." And, oh she would say, "Oh, I'll raise your price." Says, "Don't go." 'Cause she'll lose all the Japanese from Japan. And so, but I finally I made up my mind that I was gonna start on my own. Well, the problem was I didn't have any finances, my parents couldn't help me. So as I looked around, "Where do I locate my dressmaking shop." Well I found this flower shop, and it still had a flower shop on the side of it. But this, so I went to this boss, the landlord and he says, "Nobody's made good on that (property), in that shop." Everybody tried and they always went broke. So he says, "Well, I'll give it to you for $10 a month. And boy, that was just my price. So I said, "Okay, I'll take it." And so I didn't have any means then, so I didn't get to put dressmaking or anything. I just left the flower shop sign on there. And then the Japanese custom is, when you open a shop, you know they all bring you plants and flowers and so I had it all in the front, the big two windows in the front. And I got, they stop by, these clients and say, "Oh, how much is this flower or that flower?" And I said, "No, they're not for sale, they're for my, I opened this shop. I'm a dressmaker." "Oh, tell me about your dressmaking." And that's how I got, the flowers and the flower shop advertised for me. [Laughs]

AI: Oh.

KM: And so gradually I got like a neon sign.

AI: What year was that, that you opened your first shop?

KM: Where was it?

AI: When was it?

KM: When was it? 1938.

AI: And...

KM: And I had it until Pearl Harbor, '41.

AI: And what town was your shop in?

KM: Lomita.

AI: So you were still living with your family...?

KM: Parents, yeah.

AI: ...and you had your shop in town?

KM: Yeah, Yeah. It's between 101 and Sepulveda Avenue, now, the shop was. And, you know, I didn't have a telephone, I didn't even have a bathroom. And like I said, this landlord said, "Nobody made any good out of this. I'll just let you have it for $10." Well, after I had it for two years, said, "You know, I think we better install a bathroom for you." 'Cause I was going into the landlord's house to go to the bathroom and use the telephone. So he finally added a bathroom for me. And shortly after that, not even two years and then Pearl Harbor came. So he raised it to 2, 15, $12.50 with a bathroom. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, tell me more about how you were able to build up your business, from starting from really a bare shop, and...

KM: Well, it was, well one time the local paper came to -- what is that word I want to use -- interview me. And then they said that, "Tell me about it." And so I told them. And then that was the means of advertising. And then lot of my high school friends that were already married or above me, they all heard, and so they started coming, and then they would tell others. And so in the three and a half years, I had 250 customers, mostly from Santa Monica area and San Pedro area.

AI: Wow.

KM: Yeah. And so I was busy. So when I, as my students graduated, I gave them all the alteration work...

AI: Now tell me. Let's back up a minute, because you didn't say about how you started taking on students. Tell me about that.

KM: Oh. No, that was, when I opened I said I was gonna teach as well as sew for myself. And as they grew, well, out of ten students for instance, there was only two that I can really -- some people don't have a gift of sewing. But those that I noticed that they were capable, I would assign them, then gradually I would give them a higher, more complicated work, and then they started sewing.

AI: Oh.

KM: So I had mix of Caucasian and Japanese, but most of the students were Japanese.

AI: And what about your clients, your customers? Was that also a mix of Caucasian...?

KM: They were all Caucasian. They were all kinda higher up people. And they would tell others, you know, their friends and so forth.

AI: So you were doing custom work...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...for your customers.

KM: And by that time, by, just before Pearl Harbor now, I had -- let's see, I only had four machine beside my own. So there were five sewing machines. And then I had those students, and other students that were learning drafting -- drafting is pattern making, how they measure an individual. And one lady wanted her dress made to meet her husband in Pearl Harbor. And that's the first time I experienced prejudice. I had it all finished and I called her and told her that it's all ready, and, "Would you please come after it?" This was a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor started, and she says, "I wouldn't be caught in a Jap's shop." And that's the first time that I heard that word [Laughs] used negatively. And I just felt crushed, because I was not responsible for that. So everything was just left. And when I tried to sell all my equipments, they said, "You're not gonna be able to take it with you." And so, they offered like 5 cents, 15 cents for pinking sheers. And my showcase window, I mean, case I had, it was just left there.

AI: Well that's, that sounds really awful.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Before we go further in that, let's back up a little bit and tell me about the actual Pearl Harbor day. What do you recall from that day?

KM: Well Pearl Harbor day, it was on a Sunday. My girlfriend and I were in a bowling alley. And, you know we never listened to TV. We didn't have TV then, but I don't even listen to radio and I don't read the paper. So we went as usual, every Sunday we have an understanding to go meet at the bowling alley. And we were bowling away and we felt like all the eyes were just looking at us. So first we said that, "Gee, they must sure think we're good," you know. [Laughs] And then in the meantime after so many games, we thought, "Well, we better go to the bathroom." So we went to bathroom, and then we went to the newsstand. And there was a great big write up, "Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor." And so we said, "Hey, there's war going on. We better get home." So we went home. But that was what we were doing. To this day, her name -- she comes to visit me once in a while, she lives in Los Angeles -- and says, "Remember that Pearl Harbor day? We thought we were so good and everybody was just looking at us." And then it was just the opposite and they were just glaring at us. So that we were, really remember for a long time.

AI: What was your parents' reaction? How did they...?

KM: Well, they had lot of mixed emotion too. But they didn't really express it too much. But then one thing they did, "Whatever the government says to do, we're to obey 'cause we owe it to America." That's the way they, and so we never were told to oppose, or fight or be bitter, or anything. That we were to obey and do whatever. So whatever the new rules came out we just abided by that. We put the black curtain on the window and...

AI: For blackout.

KM: ...never did drive more than ten miles from our home.

AI: And that was because of the curfew...

KM: Because curfew, uh-huh.

AI: ...on the people of Japanese ancestry.

KM: Yeah. And one time, now you know, sometime when you're in dressmaking some customers come later and I can't keep the, and then wintertime, during the Pearl Harbor days, the days were short. And I looked and said, "Oh, this is six o'clock. I'd better get home." And as I was coming home I saw a red light in the back of my, and I said, "Uh-oh, what happened now?" And then he flashed his flashlight on my face, and he says, "Let me see your driver's license. Did you know that you're not to be out after five o'clock?" I said, "No, I didn't." And he says, "Well, what were you doing?" So I said, "Well I was in my shop and I'm just gonna go home now." But fortunately, he said, "Go ahead and go home. But remember, you're not to go out after five o'clock." And that was kind of a, I felt like a prisoner. Yeah, it just kind of gave me a real cold chill. I thought I wasn't gonna get home. I was, at first I thought, "Gee, I wonder if they're gonna put me in jail?"

AI: So for a moment it was...?

KM: Yeah, for a moment, yeah.

AI: Well, you know, I had heard that some Issei who had followed news, or kept up with news from Japan had some idea or worry that there might be war between Japan and the U.S. Had your folks ever mentioned anything about that?

KM: No. I never did correspond with anybody from Japan. So, now I do, but before I never did, so I don't know. And so I really met my relatives and everybody after the war. And my girlfriend that got married, we graduated together, we never did correspond until after the war. So I just lost track of her, and somehow through friends I got her address and started corresponding again.

AI: But, so at the time of Pearl Harbor it was a complete shock.

KM: Yeah, yeah. I lost lot of friends. In fact, to this day I have a friend in Hawaii and she came to learn dressmaking, to my school. And then she was gonna take different courses. And I told her, "This one isn't worth it," I told her. And said, "I'll give you the copy, you copy it." And so she's been sending me different Hawaiian artifacts for thank you. And then she got married and she built a new home in Hawaii, and I lost her address, and so I forgot which island she was in. And so with the Internet I've been trying to search, but I could never find it. I wish, those are the real cherished memories that we had such a good friendship and we lost contact because of the war.

AI: Well, what other kinds of restrictions or problems do you recall during that time after Pearl Harbor, soon after?

KM: Yeah, well...

AI: Did any other...?

KM: ...we couldn't travel. And time limit, and so...

AI: And did your parents have any problems during that time?

KM: Well, they, no, they kept believing in America and then they just kept harvesting. And you know, and when everything was just ready to harvest they were put into camp. Somebody else went and helped themselves. But when they, they gave them a chance to say how much damage it was, but you know, during the war the price went up. Only price they remember was when they were farming, so they say, "Well, we just estimate the best we can." But our ranch was just in perfect condition. I remember the green onions were ready to top, and... but, I told my girlfriend, one of 'em said, "Is there anything I can do for you?" But I still didn't trust her thinking, "Well if the government can't store our things, how can you trust them?" But she said, well I said, "If you want to, if you have time, if you can go to see what they did with our crop." And she said, "At that time the Italian people were in the farm and they say..."

AI: Italian?

KM: ...they got the permission, which wasn't so. And they really harvested and then they got all the money.

AI: So for your parents it was really, they took quite a loss.

KM: Yeah, yeah, it was very much of a sacrifice.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, I'd like to, before we continue on with what happened with evacuation, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about your mother. And if you could tell me anything that you recall of what she said about first coming to America, any of her impressions or experiences.

KM: Well when my mother came to America, my dad was raising strawberry. So that was what she had to learn first. And then they had to hire lot of people to pick the strawberry. They had to find a place for the workers to stay in a room and board. And Mama did all the cooking for them, and also outside strawberry farm. And so, well it didn't take very long when -- and then all these workers, they go from different farmer to farmer, berry growers or whatever you want to call it. And then it got to a place where every season, strawberry season, they said they want to come to my folks' place because the cooking is so good. And they all look for good food. And so whenever we move from place to another place, several families get together help people move. And right after they all finish, well then they would have a feast. And Mother would be the main cook. And Janis said, "That's where you got your cooking." [Laughs] But I wish I learned more. But anyway, she was always good in cooking. And she was a fast strawberry picker. And so when her strawberries were gone, other people would hire her because she was so fast. She was sort of known for being a very efficient worker. And she liked it. She liked those competitive work. I think maybe that's where I got my compet -- I don't know. [Laughs]

AI: [Laughs] Did she ever say anything about what her first thoughts were when she was first coming over to America -- if it was anything like what she expected, or...?

KM: No. Well, when she arrived in San Francisco, you know they give a thorough physical. And she said that they found some kind of a eye disease for her. So my dad had come from Los Angeles to San Francisco to meet her. And you know, in those days it was a horse and buggy. I can't imagine Dad coming on a horse and buggy clear over to San Francisco. And where did he stay while he waited all that time? That part I wish I was curious enough to ask. But anyway, so she had to stay in the immigration office until that eye cured. I think she said she had trachoma, trachoma. Is there such disease of eyes? Well.

AI: Yeah.

KM: And, 'cause it's very contagious. And so I think she stayed there three days. But she said she was treated very nicely, and matter of time that she'd be free. But everything was so new to her that I guess she was very curious. And I really never did listen to her telling me about the trip back home. But when she got home, she was surprised at the temporary house that she was gonna, 'cause, you know in Japan they had a nice, lovely home. She used to always tell me, "Our house had a tile roof on it. And over here was just a, such a thin lumber that when it rains or the wind blows, all the dust and the rain would leak." [Laughs] And then when she, bath, taking a bath they would have to warm, heat each kettle for hot water and put it in a tub, because they didn't have anything set up. But those were kind of a different experiences that she had. Gradually, they were able to set it up and...

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: What about getting used to American culture and American living?

KM: Well she didn't, she said that she didn't go out too much when she first came. Dad did all the grocery shopping, so forth like that, because she said that she wanted to gradually get used to. But she was never a shop going. She always wanted to stay home. When I grew up too, you know, when I had a dressmaking shop, I would stop and get grocery on the way home. She never did. But the only way that she would shop was the -- we had lot of peddlers, fishermen and lot of Japanese cookies and stuff. They would come once a month and that's when she would store up on all the Japanese things or different fish things. That's, I guess that was her means of shopping. But never out with the car or, and she never did learn to drive a car either.

AI: And then what about, you had mentioned earlier that she hadn't learned much English when you were a child...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...did she gradually learn more?

KM: No she didn't. She said that, their thought is that they're gonna only be here for temporary, and then that they didn't have to. And in the camp, when they're in the camp, that's when they had a great opportunity to learn, because so many Isseis learned and became citizens. But they didn't have a desire to learn.

AI: At that time, in the earlier...

KM: Yeah. I said, "You sure missed a good opportunity." Yeah. But, so she just relied on us to do all the interpreting. But my dad, he was something else. When we bought our first car, which was a Ford, you know. We were coming home, and we were singing away, three of us. All of a sudden there was a motorcycle policeman coming after. And I said, "Dad, there's a motorcycle coming after." He says, "Oh, never mind, it's not for me. I didn't do nothing wrong." And so he kept on going, and finally they did say, "Stop." And so we three just looked, "Now what's happened?" And so we were listening for my dad's English, seeing what he would say. And he said, "What's a matter?" [Laughs] I remember that. And then they got, and the policeman said, "You went so many miles over the speed limit." And Dad wanted, deny it. But then they said, "No, you did." And so he wrote a ticket and so forth. And then my dad says, "God damn." That the first word they learned, language they learned, and that got him another ticket. And so, to this day I remember that's the first bad language he's (learned), and he didn't use it in the right way at all, to a policeman. He came home and he says to my mother, "I got a ticket for saying... gee, in America you can't even use a word that you learned." He thought he learned something [Laughs] pretty good, 'cause I guess maybe he heard other people saying that. But he just didn't know when to use it. That's a recollection I have because I heard him and, oh, the policeman got so angry.

AI: Oh my.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, I'm really interested in, now you were the oldest child, and daughter. And it sounds like your mother had so much foresight in many ways. And was -- both your parents taught you lessons about life, and what was important to them, and how to live your life well. I was wondering if they gave you any advice about marriage and anything about...

KM: Uh, no... yes, yes she did. When I, after I graduated high school, my girlfriend wanted me to meet her cousin. And he was kind of a higher, upper class according to my mother's (thinking). And then so she always says, "Don't marry anybody that has lot of siblings, because when you kosai" -- you know you correspond and everything -- "It's gonna be a tremendous, tremendous burden if you're poor." So she says, "Marry somebody that has just few." And then, also she, lot of times she would say, "According to different family, when they're rich, your clothes have to be just so and your language would have to be just so. And so you try to get interested in somebody that would be same level." That's what she used to always say. And so my girlfriend went on to be a Japanese dancer, and she almost became a natori, which is a, getting a name. And then, but I used to love dancing. And so every time she performs, I would go. And so she tried to discourage me from going. She says, "You're never gonna get that way. So, we can't afford it. So don't go." But, anyway, so my girlfriend would teach me different things. And then I learned by picking it all up. So, you know, when I was in camp I taught lot of people from our block how to dance because I just loved to dance. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well now, somewhere after high school when you were in business, is that when you met your future husband?

KM: Well, yes...

AI: Tell me...

KM: ...around that time.

AI: Tell me how that happened.

KM: Well, some, oh I guess around that time, see, I had my shop from '38 to '41. Around '37, I guess, Hiroshima had a famine. And then being that my dad was from Hiroshima, got this letter from relatives. And so they decided that all the people from America, if they should donate something and send it and help them. And so he covered most of the Southern California -- that's where we lived. And then he got all this list of central California, where, Fresno area. And so during the time that he came to different, each home -- you know, it's really, I don't see how he could locate where people lived, 'cause even if I see a map I get lost. But somehow he found, I guess by asking somebody else, and then came to this Matsuoka. And during the conversation, they said that, "Oh, are you Nakahara from Hiroshima, where?" And he said, "Oh, well I'm from there." "Oh, we're relatives." See, my father and my husband's stepmother were kinda long distance cousins. And so when she came to America, they said that you have a relative there, so for her not to be discouraged, or that they could look him up. But they didn't know the distance between Los Angeles and Fresno. And all this communication, I mean the streets were narrow, and the cars were poor. [Laughs]

AI: So, she was in Fresno...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...and he was in Los Angeles...

KM: Los Angeles.

AI: ...but when he was...

KM: But he, she had the knowledge that he was... so, my dad came and everything kinda opened up. And they said, "Well how many children do you have? And how old are they?" So they decided well, my husband should come and see me. And he, my husband kept saying, "I'm gonna get my own. I don't have to have anybody select it for me." But, because he was raised like a Japanese, you know, obedient, he said, "Well, maybe I better just go. I can always turn it down after I come over." So one day he took a Greyhound bus and came over with a pretense of seeing my brother. But all the time, he never spent it with my brother, but he came to the dress shop. And, well, 'course, knowing him -- he's a, he doesn't speak much, he's like Paul, kinda quiet, doesn't say much. And I said, "Why is he just sticking around here for?" [Laughs] And then, ladies would come and I would fit them and go, they would come and go and he just kept sitting. And I said, "When are you gonna go visit with my brother? Go and let him take you around some place." But he just kept staying. But it was kind of, about one or two years later he says, "You know, my folks want me to get married." I said, "Oh? Who's the girl?" He says, "Well," he didn't say that time. And I said, "Well, what do you think about the girl?" He says, "Well..." [Laughs] Anyway, finally I said, "Who is the girl?" Then he says, "You." And I just said, "Me?" I says, "I'm just starting my career in dressmaking. I says, "I didn't have any thought of marriage." And anyway, he says, "Well, my cousin got married young" -- he was twenty-one then. "And my cousin got married young and so my parents want me to get married." And I said, "Well, now this is a real new one on me." I says, "Boy, I'm shocked. I'm speechless." [Laughs] That's the way it was. And he went home. Then, you know, so the parents decided well we can correspond by letter. And, you know, but I didn't have much to write, because I was so interested in my career. But he kept coming, kept coming. And then, they would always drive in the middle of the night and come home, arrive at my house real early in the morning, wake us all up, because it was easier driving at nighttime, they said. And then I thought, "Well maybe he'll start going out with my brother." Soon as I go to the shop, there comes his car. There he is. And I just couldn't make out why. But after I got married to him, knowing him, I thought, "Boy, with the, being so shy like that" -- and he even come out and said, when I asked him, "Who is this girl?" He says, "Me." I just still can't get over it. [Laughs] But anyway, his first impression of me was, "She's too Japanesey." But that's what the parents liked about me, you see. And they just fell in love with me.

AI: And what was your first impression of him?

KM: Well, I felt like he was too young. He just looked like a little boy to me. But gradually he matured and I said, "You look so young, can you support a wife?" [Laughs] I even asked him that.

AI: What was he doing at that time?

KM: He was a farmer. He was helping on his father's farm.

AI: And I'm sorry. What was his name?

KM: Jack Matsuoka. So that was a long... but one time though, just before the war, my mother came to visit. When this, our matchmaker was getting so pushy. She said, "Let me go and visit the family and stay one week. Then I'll let you know." 'Cause mothers, they have a kind of a intuition. They feel something, or they can see something. And then when she was there and then she came home, and she says, "You know, that isn't the family for you. And Jack may be all right," but the mother, who was the stepmother, and then -- from his real mother, it's his real mother's sister. But their age was so different that they didn't know each other. And so she said that, "When I stayed there one week, and she kept saying, 'Because you're a relative of mine, I'm not gonna do any cooking.'" Well, Japanese do lot of gochiso when they have a company, to impress, and so forth. And so she says she just kept on feeding the same thing over and over again. And so she, "You know, that isn't the way I was raised, that isn't the way I raised you. And you're not gonna fit into that family." So we finally put a stop to that at one time. And so much later I get a letter from his sister, which became my sister-in-law, saying that you sure broke Jack's heart. And she said, "He lost so much weight, and he doesn't eat any more." And shortly after that he wrote me a letter, says -- maybe you don't remember the song, Once in a While, Just Give One Little Thought To Me. That song was popular by -- oh I forgot the, some famous composer. Well, anyway, he wrote all of that out and I thought, "Gee, he's romantic." [Laughs] And I said, "Wonder where did he learn all these things?" But he heard that and he went to the record shop and got the words, copied it and sent it to me. And then, toward the end of that song it says, "...may the spark that we once had spark again." And, well, I'm going ahead of my story, but just before he died we were listening to -- we love Lawrence Welk Show, the old fashioned songs. And then this Norma Zimmer and her partner sang this, Once in a While. And then Jack and I looked at each other and said, "That's our song." So we held our hand, and said, "Oh, that's our song." And so ever since then, I been wondering, "Gee, I sure must've broke his heart." And in the meantime, Pearl Harbor came and they invited us to come to "free zone," which was Fresno, from L.A.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Could you explain that "free zone"?

KM: Well, "free zone," see, we were in the "A zone," right by the coast, Los Angeles. And then I guess the military divided the different place. And then because of the inland, Fresno was "B zone", and we were able to go traveling anywhere as long as it was in the "free zone." Before, though, there was a time limit, certain time you can't travel any more. So, Jack's parents told us to come over. "We'll find a rental for you." And you know, you can all... so all our relatives got together and we all came to central California under their leadership.

AI: When was that?

KM: And then, well Jack's folks rented a different place where he found places to rent.

AI: Excuse me. When was that? Do you recall when you and all your relatives moved to the Fresno area?

KM: Uh, '42. Early part of '42.

AI: So that's when really your parents left the farm...?

KM: Farm, everything.

AI: ...and left everything in the fields, and...?

KM: Uh-huh. It was early March.

AI: And you also had to leave your shop...?

KM: Job.

AI: ...and...

KM: That's when all these, I, they all came to buy different things. But they didn't really come to buy, they just came to offer a little. [Laughs] But, like I said, my parents like were always poor. And then by that time, by Pearl Harbor, I built up, at that time it was quite a bit of money. And prior, so I had already sent my dad to Japan to build this new cemetery for the family. And then I bought a brand new car. And I was thinking, "If anything should happen to me, I would give it to my brother." And then so I hired a Bekins Storage, and we put all our belongings in there, as much as we could load. And I forgot how much it cost, but anyway. So those are the things that I had bought and then by that time, my money was practically gone too. And we evacuated into central California.

AI: And that was what they called "voluntary evacuation"?

KM: Yeah. Voluntary evacuation. Uh-huh. But, so for a time, about a month now I worked in the peach orchard and everything you know. And boy my hand got fuzzy and itchy, but we had to make some money to prepare for evacuation. Eventually they said they're gonna go to evacuation. So we were buying, trying to get warm clothing so we'd be comfortable. And we went to all these neighboring cities like Sanger, and Del Rey, and Kingsburg, and it was all sold out because all the Japanese were buying it. [Laughs] And then, we didn't even have to use it. Just rumors. We just followed the rumors. (People that were in the camps much colder made use of their warm clothing.)

AI: What did you think was gonna happen? What were the rumors about what was going to happen?

KM: Well, you know, I felt, me myself now, when we went into camp, I felt like we weren't never gonna come back. Or, when we evacuated, we didn't know what our future holds. I mean we didn't know where we were gonna be sent, or where we were gonna stay. It was just a kind of a hopeless thing.

AI: And how, what actually happened that week leading up to when you actually left?

KM: Well...

AI: Well, left the valley, I mean.

KM: In the meantime they had a curfew, and then they had a deadline of no more voluntary evacuation. So we just had to stay put until we get the date that we have to go into relocation center.

AI: Right.

KM: But those days kinda went, now that I, it's kinda vague now. I guess we try to forget so much. But we had to get inoculated. And then we got a family number, different things, you know.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: What do you recall about the actual leaving? When you actually, that day, when you were...?

KM: Oh, well, we slept on the floor with just an empty house. It was, I don't know, it just, I don't, it just, I can't express that feeling. Jack and I were married for one month when we evacuated.

AI: Oh, tell me about that. How did you decide to get married at that time?

KM: Well, the two matchmakers -- my side and his side -- that was the custom. And they said that there's been a rumor that when you go to camp, we're gonna be all in one barrack. You don't know if you're gonna be all one family together, or some people that you don't know. So she said, "Best thing is that, if you're gonna get married, to get married before you go into camp so you'll be settled." So we, that's why we hurried our marriage. And then we're married one month before we got into camp.

AI: So, where were you living for that month?

KM: Huh?

AI: Where were you living for that month?

KM: In Fowler.

AI: The two of you?

KM: In a cam -- in a little, it wasn't a farm -- right next to a big barn. Kinda like a, where they put the hays and things. But they kinda cleaned it up for us to stay there. And at nighttime I could hear the rats going up and down. [Laughs] But, we thought, "Well, this is better than going into assembly center, 'cause if we had stayed in Los Angeles until our evacuation took place, we would have been in the Santa Anita Racetrack. And then there was a rumor you slept in the horse stall on the hay. And so we thought, "(This) was better," so that's why we opted for evacuat -- voluntary evacuation. But eventually we, everything was halted, so we had to go into camp.

AI: So, you and Jack were living together for one month after you were married, and you had to get rid of even the things that you had brought then. And you were just saying that the night before your house was empty, because you had gotten rid of everything.

KM: Uh-huh. 'Course, in that one month we had to prepare for evacuation. We had to get a duffel bag. Do you have a duffel bag? Oh, 'cause I have one of mine, yet. And Janis -- I was gonna throw it away, and Janis said, "No, don't throw it away. Give it to me. I'll go give it to the museum." [Laughs] But anyway, we can only take what we can carry. We had one suitcase and one duffel bag.

AI: What did you bring? What kinds of things did you pack?

KM: Duffel bag? Well, the one that we made was a big heavy gunnysack. Like almost like a canvas. And you can push and push and push, but it gets awful heavy [Laughs] the more you pushed.

AI: Did you bring your sewing machine?

KM: No. I didn't take. I got that sent later on. That's another story in itself. [Laughs]

AI: Wow. So what did you think was gonna be essential? Do you remember some of the things that you took with you?

KM: Well, first, the way the government gave us a list and says, "warm clothing and utensils that you could feed yourself." So we got those tin, not tin, but cup and saucer, and so forth. And we didn't even use it. And here we searched all over town because they were getting kinda, well, people were buying them so much that they ran out. So we had to take a next best thing. But I've got one cup left. A white cup with a little red edge on it. Enamel. But we didn't even use it. But I just kept that for, for remembering.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: And then, what were your instructions for that day? What did you do that day that you recall?

KM: For, you mean after we got into camp?

AI: No, when you actually left town to go to camp.

KM: Oh, well we, we all most of the central California people left in Sanger. And then when we got there, our neighbors or our friends would take us up to there. And then we would all line up according to our numbers and districts, and then they would put us on this train. And then we all got seated and left there. I, really wouldn't know how much time because we reached L.A. at dusk. So it must've been about early in the afternoon. And I wanted, before we left L.A., because I was raised in L.A, I wanted to see, get a last glimpse of L.A. So they had all these shades pulled down on this train and I was looking. Then the MPs told me right away, "Keep that curtain down." I said, "Well, I only wanted to have a little peek at what L.A. looked like, 'cause I may not be able to come back." He said, "No. Orders are orders," he said. So, you know, even on the train, we felt like we were really constantly watched. Like a prisoner. I never was a prisoner, but I felt like a prisoner. [Laughs]

AI: Did you recall any conversation on the train?

KM: No. Really, you know, it was, it wasn't a hilarious affair. I mean most of the people were sober and quiet. 'Course the little ones were crying. But as far as I remember with our bunch, we just sat in an orderly fashion and they told us not to move. We just sat there except for going to the bathroom, only time.

AI: That must've been a long train trip.

KM: Yeah. It was a long. And then finally when, they said we got to Arizona, and we had to transfer to a bus that would take us into the camp. Well it was barren land. You know, just cactus, cactus, sand, cactus. And I thought, "How far in are we gonna go?" It felt like it was even longer than the train ride itself. I mean that's the way it felt, 'cause we were on a jeep and different kind of a vehicle that the army used. And then finally it stopped and there was a barbed wire all around. And then we can see, way far, we can see this barracks, just row after row, and then MP tower. And so we were all put into the gate. And well really, just like these movies when they go to jail. It was just like that.

AI: What was your reaction?

KM: Well, you couldn't even cry 'cause you had to go. But, and then, you know I never thought, "How could they do this to us when we were citizens?" They put us all in one bunch. And yet we wouldn't dare separate from our parents. It was really a mixed emotion. But I never, I never became bitter. I often wonder. Maybe I was too naive, I don't know. [Laughs] I just, just followed the government's order. And again, my parents said, "We should, because we owe it to America, 'cause all the freedom that we got living, and we made our living here and education here." So they kept trying to instill into us that we owed it to be obedient.

AI: To America?

KM: Yeah. So we never thought of rebelling or, you know, 'cause there were a few that did rebel, you know, as, you can hear different history.

AI: Right.

KM: But it was a forlorn, desolate trip into camp. That's all I can say. [Laughs]

AI: Had you known, did you know that you were going to Arizona?

KM: Yeah, they told us it was, yeah.

AI: And that was the Gila River camp?

KM: Yeah, Gila, uh-huh.

AI: So then...

KM: And from what I hear, Gila was one of the better camps, too. But, you know the hot water system wasn't put up yet. And then we didn't, the barracks were all in one, no division. And there's four families to a barrack, sometime, so first two could be a relative, and next two could be total stranger, which it was. But we soon got acquainted.

AI: So in one barrack it was you and Jack and...

KM: One barrack was me and Jack, and his father and mother, and his sister and husband, and two of our nieces. I mean our nephews. So see, all of us was in that one. And the only means that we had was, if we were lucky to bring an extra bedspread, we put it up. But it wasn't soundproof or anything. And we were just married one month, and you can imagine, that was our honeymoon.

AI: Right. And you were all in this one big...

KM: Yeah, in one room.

AI: And what about your parents? Where did they...

KM: They were, my parents, and my sister and my brother were not married, so they were in one barrack. So they were all right.

AI: Boy.

KM: But, after we got settled and everything started going, we were separated, after Jack got sick. That's when we got separated.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: Before we go into that, will you tell me a little bit about the daily routine when you first got there, and what that was like?

KM: Well, there wasn't much until they got all this recreation center and school, everything put up. We just made the best we could. All we'd look forward was the three time we went over to mess hall to eat. [Laughs] And then gradually the canteens were open, and then school. So, it was a gradual thing. They really weren't prepared for us. Like I mentioned to you the other day, hospitals weren't set up, so lot of the TB patients were still in the county hospital until it was set up. Then they were sent couple months later. Maybe it was longer than that. So it, you know government wasn't really prepared.

AI: What about the sanitation there? And the...?

KM: Yeah, many times the latrines would flood over, and there would be no water coming out. It was, sometimes it was very, very, well what shall I say -- ? It smelled awful. It stunk. [Laughs]

AI: And when was that? What month was that, that you arrived?

KM: It was during the summer.

AI: In the summer.

KM: So see, Arizona heat and all that stench, and water not being available to, the way we wanted to.

AI: You had no water in the barrack, is that right?

KM: Yeah. No, no, not in the, we had to go get it.

AI: Oh my. Well, let me ask you a little bit about how your area was laid out in the barrack where you and Jack and his family first lived. Can you describe a little bit about that, the mess hall, and the other facilities?

KM: Well, we were, when we first went in we were in camp one. Gila River was divided into camp one and camp two. Camp one was Canal Camp and then camp two was Butte Camp. And then camp one was from Block 1 to 27. And then Butte Camp was from twenty-eight to seventy-four. So we made three moves during that three and a half years. Like, because Jack being in the hospital so far. So we first went into Block 26, and then we transferred to Block 31. I did, by myself. By that time he was in the hospital. So I went to Block 31. Thirty-one was at the end of the camp two, and the hospital was at the other end. And so I really was wore out. I just lost lot of weight. And they tried to give me extra milk and so forth, to fatten me up. But then I don't like milk and it didn't agree with me. But anyway, I walked all that time. And then there was a period where there was no nurse's aide that would go into that TB ward. So I had to, as a family go and take care of him, clean the sheets, give him a bed bath and so forth. And so, soon as there was a different, there was an opening that some of the people, if they want to they can relocate back East, when the chick sexing and all that was... and so as barracks in the seventy-four block emptied, I got a permission to move. And so the last, about one and a half year I guess, I was close by to him.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Well, let's back up a little bit and if you could tell me about his illness. How, what, how did it start and what happened?

KM: What was that?

AI: If you could tell me about the beginning of Jack's illness. How it started, and what happened?

KM: Oh. Well we were still in camp twenty-six. He got his job.

AI: And what was that?

KM: They offered a job, $12 and $16 and $19 that was the rate. And then being a carpenter, he liked carpentry work, and some of the barracks weren't quite finished. So he took that $16 a month. And then during the summer you go on a roof, it's pretty hot. That's when he came home, one day, exactly three months to the date that we were married. And then the ice cream came into the camp. So we said, "Oh, we'll go get a pint of ice cream and just cut it in half and we'll celebrate our three month." That's when he started hemorrhaging. And so we called emergency. [Laughs] And then emergency took a long, 'bout an hour or something before they came. And then we got some, I went to the kitchen to get some ice cube to try to stop it. But, and at that time, my mother-in-law came to me and says, "Don't take it bad now." See, I was only married three month, so she was afraid that I'm gonna just leave him. And, especially Japanese, when they detect if it's a TB or not, that was one of the dreaded disease. And then it ruins the whole family lineage. So she kept saying, "Oh, he was probably too hot and got sun stroke on the roof." And so, but I knew in my heart that he had TB. Because I knew when my mother and dad looked into background of his, that his mother died with TB when he was just three years old. And so I thought, "Well, I guess this is sooner than I expected." And that's when I realized, "Boy, I guess now Jack is sick, now I have to earn my own living. Mother was right." I mean it really sinked into me. I thought, "How could they -- ? I mean and I really appreciated that I had something in my hand. And consequently too, while Jack was in the hospital, I, the nurses saw my dresses and wondered where I ordered, in the Montgomery Ward or Sears catalog or what. And so Jack told them that I'm a dressmaker. And said, "Do you think that she'll sew for me?" So I started from sewing for, and they liked the way I sewed and everything, and said, "Can she, can you teach me?" And so that's how I had students in camp too.

AI: Wow. That's amazing.

KM: Yeah, and one of the students, her name was Miiko Taka, and she was a star in that Sayonara with Marlon Brando. So...

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, so tell me a little bit more about Jack and the emergency eventually came at...?

KM: It eventually came, but it's one of these paneled, kind of a, they called it panel truck. And, you know, it's better than walking to the hospital, I guess. [Laughs] And I went. And he was the first isolated case in camp and so they put him in this abandoned post office building, which was first used in the, camp outgrew it so they had us move. And it was a small place, like the size of a, how you say now -- ? Like a barrack, of a half of a barrack, regular half of a barrack. And it had a divided into two portions, a little cubby hole. And then I was able to visit him with a mask on and through the cubbyhole, because they were afraid. And then I was visiting long enough that the nurse's aide came to bring his lunch. And the nurse's aide would just take it and shove it to him and go out. And well, I felt like she, he was a leper or something. And it was really sad. And 'course nobody would come to visit him because they were afraid to, that he might be contagious. Probably was. So I really forgotten how long he was in there. But eventually, the real hospital in camp two finally got built up and finished, and so he was transferred. That was a really big hospital then.

AI: But for some time, he was stuck in this...

KM: Yeah, yeah.

AI: ...isolated room...

KM: Yeah.

AI: the abandoned post office?

KM: Uh-huh. But it was, it kinda hurt me, and it made me feel very sad, too, because when I lost all my friends that used to come and see me, nobody came. And then, especially when they, all the nurse's aide would go to any other wards, but they wouldn't come to the TB ward. And that's what really, you know 'cause we were all in together as a result of the war. All fellow member, and it, that kinda really hurt me.

AI: And why was that, that they were not coming?

KM: Well, they'd rather go to other wards because they didn't want to be -- I think they were afraid. But then there again, I really don't remember how long I helped. Those times just kinda...

AI: But then eventually the hospital was finished...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...and he was transferred over...?

KM: So all the wards were all separated. And then you get kinda used to the daily habits. So it wasn't bad. And I, today now, after we got out of camp, my husband and I, oh frequently say, "You know, if this happened when we were outside the camp, it would've cost us a bundle," 'cause he was in there twenty months. So our first part of our marriage we were separated because of the sickness. So we were together three months under the circumstances of living with all these in-laws and by-laws, [Laughs] and then he got sick, and he, we were separated.

AI: For twenty months...

KM: Twenty months. Yeah.

AI: ...while he was in the TB ward.

KM: Then he came back, and after a year or so, then we had our first baby. And our baby was the last baby in camp. We literally closed the camp.

AI: Well, we'll come back to that again.

KM: Okay.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: But, tell me a little bit more about, I have heard from other people that there was a lot of fear about TB, and especially as you mentioned, among Japanese people...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: ...that there was a real negative feeling about TB.

KM: Yeah.

AI: And, so tell me a little bit about that time and what happened, and what it was like while he was in the TB ward.

KM: Well, as a youngster growing up, I used to go to the Japanese movie with my folks. And lot of 'em had this TB and how the, all the families separated, or all the friends didn't come anymore. And so I kinda knew how the Japanese reacted to TB. And so when this happened to my husband, and then he being the first one to get TB in that camp, with no preparation ahead. It was really, well, I said, "If there was a God," I said, "Why did he make my husband get sick?" That's how I felt. I just kinda, almost kinda rebelled, thinking, "Why?" But, so I had this knowledge that Japanese don't like, or they think it a shame, and they hide it. In fact they hide it. But then my parents looked it up in his family roots and found this out, so they kinda prepared me for it. They said, "If, in case your husband does get sick, what would you do?" I said, "Well, I would stick by with him." And there was one Issei doctor -- that was our family doctor from Los Angeles that was working at Gila River -- and then he said when he heard about my husband getting TB, he called me in, and he said, "I wanna examine you." And then I said, "What for?" He said, "Well I wanna make sure that you're not pregnant. If you're not pregnant, I strongly urge you to separate from him." See, that, it's the Isseis' thinking. "Because, even if he recovers, he's gonna be an invalid and you're gonna have to take care of him. And you've only just been married three month," so he said, "I highly recommend that." Well anyway he examined me, and 'course I wasn't pregnant, and then he urged me. But then I said, "You know, doctor," I said, "what if this role was reversed, and I had the TB? And what if he left me?" I said, "No, I'm gonna stick by him. I'm gonna make sure that he gets well. I'm gonna do all I can. I'm not gonna get divorced." And then he said, "Well, it's your choice." But that's when I really got close to him, because I knew his mother and dad were so far away from him, especially his stepmother. So I just vowed that I'm gonna really stick by him. And so we've been, everybody says when we get introduced, "We can't introduce just Kay and Jack." It's always together, Kay and Jack, we go together. [Laughs] Yeah.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, can you tell me some about the practical daily realities of when he was in the TB ward? What kinds of visitation schedule did you have? And what kinds of daily activity would there be?

KM: Well, when they first opened this new TB ward, they decided to have two hours visitation once a week. And then there's two passes...

AI: Only once a week?

KM: Once a week, uh-huh. And then two passes. And only two can get in, go in at a time. This is at the beginning. And then my folks still lived in camp one and then I lived in camp two. Well, my folks somehow would always go half an hour before the tickets is released. And they'd go in to see my husband and stay there the whole two hours. And I'm waiting in the waiting room. Well, finally my husband got brave enough, and he says, "How come Kay isn't here? I want to see Kay." And then he says, "What do you mean? I'm your, we're your parents. Kay isn't that important." I mean that's the attitude my stepmother had. Before they just wanted me so badly, but they just turned right against me. They says that I took my husband away from her. Well anyway we had a real, it wasn't very beautiful [Laughs] harmonious family relation at all. And so they would do that a few times. And finally Jack got brave enough -- you have to really know my husband -- he got braver. And it's very hard for him to say anything out loud or do it by force to hurt somebody. But he finally told the nurse's aide, "Would you please take that two passes, or one pass, whatever and have it aside on the day of visitation and give it to my wife, 'cause I'd rather see her than my folks." And so then that way I was able to go see him. But that's the circumstance that we had during the visitation, during his sickness time.

And then my sister-in-law, which was from Utah, she came over and made special trip to come and see her brother. And then she came over to stay with me thinking that I was alone. So she wanted to kinda comfort me and so forth. And then my father-in-law came from camp one and said, "You gotta go home with me, 'cause you're our daughter, and the peoples gonna all see that you're at Kay's place instead of our place, and that doesn't look right." So they forced her to go back. And then afterwards I heard from her that my in-laws said that the reason that Jack is being treated so nicely at the hospital is because we gave 'em bribery to the doctors. And they, that was all false. They weren't allowed bribery, or they couldn't accept it. But they wanted to make her know that they're doing their part or something.

And you know, and there was lotta things that we couldn't tell anybody, and it was just lie after lie. It just, they, drifted us farther and farther apart. And then I really felt like, boy, this is really the way the Japanese bride gets treated, 'cause I read lotta stories about bondage of the daughter-in-law. And I said, in this day and age I'm still living the same, because she wanted to be that way. I had to be her slave. When she was sick, she gets a doctor's prescription every four hours. Now I had to measure that, and spoon it (to) her with ice water. And if I miss five minutes she says, "It's because you don't care for me." And all the things I had to take from her.

AI: That's since you were the daughter-in-law?

KM: Yeah. Daughter-in-law.

AI: That's what she expected?

KM: Oh, and she would tell different stories to my sister-in-laws, and then they would start turning against me. And then my mother when she made, she says for me to get, gave us the blessing to get married, she said, "Once you get (into) the family, no matter what happens you're not to come back." And so I said, "Well I never wanted to let them know," 'til I got so sick that they knew something was wrong.

AI: Now how did you get sick? What was happening to your health?

KM: Well, I was getting so run down that I had to have iron shots and things, 'cause you know, you're not happy.

AI: It must've been very difficult.

KM: It was really, well there was a period that I was eighty-five pounds. And, but I just kept going, kept going, 'cause I said, "I feel like I have to go take care of my husband. I have to go take" -- you know, that was my duty. So that's what kept me going. But it was really a hard period. And anyway somebody gave me a book of Daughter in Bondage. And I read that and I really said, "Hey, this is my life." [Laughs]

AI: Wow. That is so interesting, because you had said that your mother, before you got married, when your mother had gone to visit, she came back and said that she didn't think...

KM: Yeah, yeah...

AI: would fit in with the family.

KM: ...yeah, yeah. She said that I just didn't fit into that family. There's a lot, lots more, but you know, I mean that's all buried now. I mean I've forgotten it. Yeah.

AI: And so you didn't want to -- you also didn't want to...

KM: So, you know, I just, when I, when Paul and Janis got married, that was one thing was my prayer that I would not repeat that kind of a daughter-in-law, mother-in-law relation. I mean it really taught me a lesson, because I suffered. Yeah. But then now, I'm real happy now. [Laughs] 'Course I've lost my husband, I'm lonely, but then still I have good memories of him. And I always thanked him for being the way he turned out in spite of the way he was raised. Because, oh, if he was raised that way, I saw everything he would have been a bitter, bitter man. But he was a good, I mean such a honest, that's what, that's what turns him against his mother more, after he found out that she was telling all these lies. Even to Japan, when we visited, all these uncles and aunts told us, "Is it true?" And so we said, "We were just surprised." And so that's why my mother-in-law, she had her own group of friends. And every time we'd go by that kind of friend, they would just look at us as if, "Hmm," 'cause you know, they saw her side of the story. But I always, Jack and I both felt that God has the straight story, and that's all that matters, so we just kept it to ourself. But it was hard.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, let me bring you up a little bit further in time to the time when you were in central California, and Jack's parents had invited you to move to that area voluntarily, so-called "voluntary evacuation." And you were getting ready for evacuation, but also, at the same time you were getting ready to be married in July of 1942. Can you tell me about that time?

KM: Yeah. That was a hectic time. [Laughs] Yes. Well, first we decided for our date. And Jack and I said that well, since it's closest to Fourth of July, let's get married Fourth of July, then we would always remember that. But you know, Fourth of July, it was a Saturday that year, and so we had to wait until Monday until the license bureau opened. And so we got, we went there to get our license and got our blood tests. And I thought, "Well, I've been a dressmaker, and I've always dreamed of designing my own gown." And so I had all this idea in my mind, and here I was evacuated. I didn't have any equipments with me, and I had no way of going to buy materials that I liked. But the only place we could go was Visalia, 'cause Fresno was a no-no. It was restricted. So Jack took me out to Visalia and we looked around all the dress shop. And at that time they didn't have petite sizes and things like that, and so the dresses were either too big or too small. And then if I liked the top, I didn't like the bottom and so forth. And so I finally ended up at Lerner's shop, and that was a, have you ever heard of Lerner's shop? Well that was the last place that I would have gone for any kind of [Laughs] shopping, but that's where I landed. And I found a dress, and I put it on. It wasn't so bad, there was no alteration or anything, so I said -- and the color looked pretty good -- so I said, "Well, I'll just take this. I'm not happy with it, but I'll just take it." And so I brought that home and then I borrowed the shoes from my cousin. And a garter [Laughs], all that goes with it. And we went to Visalia and that's where we got married. And we met with a pas -- Reverend Kawasaki, who is now deceased. But the church was already closed. But so he said, "Well, my daughter can play the piano. And so she'll play the processional and the recessional and we'll make it the best we could." And so we were all lined up and ready and then all of a sudden I said, "Jack, am I gonna have a flower?" And he said, "Oh, I forgot." [Laughs] And so hurriedly he went to get a nosegay. And it was right around the corner. So we got that ready. And my dad took me down the aisle. And then after we got to the altar, I don't understand this Buddhist chanting. And then so whenever he said we were supposed to say, "Hai," well, he kinda went like this, nudged us to tell us to say "Hai," you know. And so I told Jack later on, "You know I really don't know what kind of vow I took." [Laughs] "I didn't understand what he said." But be that as it may, we finished that. And after we finished we had a family, our group picture taken. And we invited Reverend Kawasaki and the family to take a picture with us. So that was our whole wedding.

Shortly after, we went to a Chinese restaurant and we had a Chinese lunch I guess it was. And then we said, "Well, now we're gonna come home." And then when I was coming home, my -- oh, I forgot to tell you that we only could take two cars. And then we were limited to what road. We had to draw up a map ahead to see which road we were gonna take, and what time. And by the time we took the four nakodos, that's two for him and two for my side, well, there was no room in the car with my mother and my father on both sides. And so, my brothers drove the car, and Jack drove one car. And so both, one sisters on each side was left. They couldn't go. They wouldn't fit into the car. And so we went. And my sister-in-law, she said that well it was a hot, July, it was awfully hot. And then all the water cooler, swamp coolers, they were all closed and for the duration. And so, oh, it was 108 degrees that particular day. And I remember my husband during the ceremony, he took (out) his handkerchief and he wiped his brow and said, "Boy, this is hot." [Laughs] And so, you know I don't know whether we even listened to what the [Laughs] minister was saying. But that was all finished. And then when we were coming home, each of the two nakodos, the baishakunin, his matchmaker went into his car, and my side went into our, my brother's car. And then so when Jack's baishakunin went, this lady, the lady says she gets carsick. So without asking me or anything, she sat in the front with Jack. And so therefore I didn't have any seat to sit. So I went to my brother's side, car, and there was room there, 'cause I had been there going. So I, and then Mama says, "Hey," she says, "You don't belong here. She says, "You belong in the other car." [Laughs] But I said, "Well she won't move." So I said, "I came over here. And I can just go home." But anyway, they finally moved over and switched around, and I was able to come home with him. But everything was just upside down, because everything was not really planned. Well, if I, when on our fiftieth anniversary our kids wanted to write a story about the day of our wedding. And so I wrote all this, and they just laughed. And they said, "Well, boy, I would've just, or Sanseis, they were really very open.

But anyway, we came home. And then my sister-in-law had prepared, she said it was hot, so she prepared ice cream. And oh, we were so thirsty. And when we ate the ice cream, it was salty. She had done something that the salt poured into the ice cream part. And we had to heap sugar on it [Laughs] to eat it. And that was another hilarious part of our wedding. And then, that night, on our first night at home, I slept in the front bedroom with my husband, and then, 'course my in-laws slept (in the next room).

And then people had given us different gifts. And so we said, well Jack and I went into our room and we said, "Well let's open and see what it is and make a recording of who gave what," so forth so we will have a record of, to return, the Japanese custom is to always return. Well all of a sudden my stepmother called him. And then, so Jack went over and she says, "Bring all your envelopes," 'cause they gave us monetary gifts and so it was in an envelope, and card. And she says, "Bring all that back. Have you opened it?" And so we said, "Well, we just started to open." But she said, "You bring it back." And so he said, "Why? They gave it to us." And then she said, "It's because we did all the corresponding and the kosai. That's why they're returning it to us 'cause we did it first. So it doesn't belong to you." So he said, "Okay." And, we didn't question it. Jack said, "Okay." And he came back and got the whole thing, took it and we never saw it and we don't know who gave us how much or anything. That was the way that our marriage started out. And so finally, when I told my father he went to his side of a nakodo and asked them, "Is this the custom of the central California?" And he said, "Oh, no. That belongs to Jack and Kay." So he says, "I'll go and talk to them. And he did, but there was no result. So we just never did. So to this day we don't know who gave us how much. And so when their family got married, well, we had no way of finding out whether to go, or, as long as we don't get the invitation, we just let it go.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: For people who don't know, can you explain the custom of return a little bit more, and the kosai, and...?

KM: Oh. Well, the Japanese, especially when they were all immigrants, they had no relatives here. And so like at funerals or weddings, well the people that was neighbor or in that village or in that little village I guess that you would call it, they always, especially like a funeral, everybody would donate one dollar. And then that way, it would help them, burial fee and so forth. And then as they had children and their children grew up and they got married, then we would give them a gift. And then when our children grew up then they would return it. So it was very important to keep a record of who gave what. And we tried to always return what they gave. And in this way it helped each other because they all came, they didn't have anything when they came to America. They were trying to build up their finances. So they were very, very, there was a real closeness there to help one another out. And that's how it all started. To this day it still continues.

AI: So in your case, since you and Jack didn't see what you received, that meant it made it difficult for you?

KM: Yeah, yeah, especially 'cause it was in card and the card had all the names on it. Yeah, so it was very hard. And a couple of days, a couple of weeks, I guess later my cousins who all evacuated with us voluntarily to Fowler, 'cause we wanted to be all in one family, and they gave me a postnuptial shower. And here too, because we didn't, no use buying a gift because we have to take it into camp or leave it, so they gave us monetary. And then that night we were opening that, because I thought that belonged to me, 'cause it was my side of the family. And then again, my stepmother would call my husband's name, and he went and he says, "What is it?" And she said, "Well, whatever you got, you bring it here, because that's going to be our kosai." And Jack said, "That's Kay's. It's Kay's side gave it to you, to us." But anyway she wanted it and she, and Jack, very gently, 'cause he was so, he never was loud or anything, well in Japanese he was sunao. He did exactly what the parents told him to. So they opened it. And then that was the only money that they told us how much it was, but they were gonna keep it. And that was the beginning of our first day of marriage. [Laughs]

AI: Oh dear.

KM: Yeah.

AI: So what did you think?

KM: Well, my parents always said for us to endure. Especially a girl, when you go into a family, you do according to their custom. And then, never talk or repeat it to somebody else. And that's why I kept it so long. And as long as my in-laws were alive, I felt, "Well no, I..." and then, because Jack was so quiet, and I just didn't have a heart, because I didn't want to upset him either. But in his quiet way, he knew what was happening, so he was really seeking to be separated. And finally my side of the baishakunin or nakodo came over and said that, "You know, I hear that Kay and your mother-in-law isn't getting along, your stepmother isn't getting along. So, in case the worst comes to worst, I want to ask you a question as a nakodo, because I'm responsible for your happiness." He said, "Now when that time comes, will you go to your, would you stay with your parents, or would you take Kay and go out and be separated? And Jack, right away said, "Of course I'll never leave Kay, I'll be with her." And so they had the idea that one of these days that we were going to be separated, that is living apart from each other.

AI: Now, you mentioned a couple of times about the nakodo, about the baishakunin. And again, for people who don't understand that, could you explain that a little bit?

KM: Yeah. Well the Japanese custom is even if you fall in love, they always choose a real close friend and then they call them matchmakers. They really didn't do the matchmaking, but for formality they do that. And then the couple must be getting along real well. No divorced family, it has to be they're together, and be example for us to follow. And that's why they do this. They always have one from the girl's side, one from the boy's side. And in case something, some disagreement or something happens, we're to go to them and they're to get us all straightened out.

AI: And so that's why the nakodo...

KM: Yeah, uh-huh.

AI: ...talked to Jack in this way and asked him...

KM: That's right...

AI: ...what he would do?

KM: ...that he felt responsible so he asked him. And then people could see that this was happening too, 'cause we were in close quarters in camp.

AI: Right, right.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: Well, now you mentioned that all this was happening at the same time that you were getting ready for evacuation. And is there, are there some other details that you recall about that time?

KM: Well, you know, I had to do, we had to shop for our evacuation preparations, such as the clothings and how much... and then, of course we have to get this duffel bag made, and go buy suitcases and -- only in my case, I had a dress shop so I had to really think of what to do with my tools and equipments, and notify who are the good friends that was a customer at one time. But they didn't care less. [Laughs] They just, I just wanted to be, let them know that this is gonna happen, so I did that. And then, 'course we were looking for food that -- like sugar, because it was rationed, you probably don't remember. Gasoline, and sugar, and coffee, all those things were all rationed, and we all had a ticket. And so we kinda saved that, but have a supply for ourselves so that when we go into camp, that we would have that, that we can use. And so every family had a kind of a package or a care package, if you wanna call that.

AI: Because you didn't know exactly what you would have in camp and so you wanted to bring that...

KM: That's it. We wanted to be prepared. And so many times we took canned fruits, things that we can eat just by opening it, without using the stove and so forth.

AI: So, for a while you were really worried that you might not have certain things to eat?

KM: Yeah. We didn't know what was gonna lie ahead of us. It was just so, almost kinda hopeless thing the way we felt. So we thought, "Well, in case we don't like the food or in case we don't get enough, well we'll take certain things." Like dried fruit and things like that that won't be, that would be still good even in camp without refrigeration and so forth.

AI: Well, I'm wondering if your parents said anything when, just before evacuation, just before leaving Fowler. Did your parents say anything about what they were worried about or what they thought might happen?

KM: No. I think they just went along with the tide I guess. I mean they said, "Well, we just have to do the best we can, because, what can we do?" As the Japanese say, "Shigata ga nai." There's nothing we can do in our power so we just might as well just go ahead, and then be led to wherever and whatever. And so we just kinda followed their leading.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well then, yesterday you spoke about that period of actually leaving, packing up, leaving and taking the train and the bus to Gila River. And you also described about how very shortly after that Jack got sick.

KM: Yes.

AI: And you told us about how he was put in isolation...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: In the old post building, post office building. And then how they completed the hospital, the TB ward and he was then transferred to the TB ward. So, I think I'll bring you up to that time here in the TB ward. And you had been for a while visiting for a while and you said how far away it was you had to walk a long -- about, do you recall about how far it was that you had to walk to the hospital?

KM: Uh, you know I really don't know the measurement.

AI: Or, about how long it took you?

KM: Well, if I walked real fast, it took me almost twenty minutes. And then many time in Arizona, dust storm, it just comes all of a sudden. It'd be a beautiful day, and all of a sudden it would get dark and the clouds and dust. And so I used to run because I didn't want to get caught in that dust storm. But I did this for so long. And, well, after couple of years, now they all, government really realized that there was no sabotage going on, and that we were not really spies or anything. And so it got kind of loose, all the rules. And they said that whoever wants to, they could go out, seek some job. And there was some jobs coming in from back East and we can go. So some of the barracks in the, closer to the hospital was empty and I got a special permission to move. And I moved to seventy-four which was right next to the hospital.

But you know, I had a real wonderful time when I was in Block 31, which was in one end of the camp. I met my girlfriend, whose brother was shot to death at Tule Lake. He was on, the questionnaire was "yes" and "no," and he said, "No," and he was there. And he was near the fence. And the sentry says for him to not to go close to the fence. What his intention was, I don't know what that was, but then he wasn't really outside of the fence, but he was near the fence. And then, I guess he really didn't stop when he told him to stop, and he was killed. And we were just talking, and one day she says, "I remember you. Weren't you from Harbor City?" And I said, "Yes." She told me what her maiden name was. And she asked me, "Weren't you a Nakahara?" And I said, "Yes." And she said, "I'm a Okamoto." And I said, "Oh, which one are you?" -- 'Cause they had three girls. And she said, "I'm Tamaye," and she was near my age, so naturally. I said, "Oh." She says, "We used to go to your school every time you had gaku geikai, because we enjoyed the program that you people always put on." Because our Japanese school was noted for having a good program. And she said, "You used to be so good in dancing and singing. Do you do that yet?" And I said, "No, I've been here, I mean in camp. I can't do those things." [Laughs] And then she thought it over and she said, "You know, there's a lot of Isseis here. And they were told not to bring any records, not to bring any, anything." And said, "It'd be nice if you would do something, get all the kids together and show them the dances and songs that you learned and then have an entertainment for the Issei night." And then I kinda thought it over and said, "Well..."and she said, "Let me talk to the block manager. [Laughs] And so she talked to the block manager, and block manager just thought that was wonderful. So I got all the kids together that would be interested, and the parents that would be cooperating and supporting them. And I was surprised how many had brought their Japanese kimonos. I was really surprised, 'cause I left mine home. And then I asked 'em, "How many of you have umbrella?" You know the silk umbrella? "And then how many of you have fan?" Most of them said, "Well, we can borrow it or we have it." And so, "Oh, let me think about what dances I could teach you then." And so I got the groups into four groups, little ones, on, on up. And I had about twelve people in each group that was interested. And so I started to form a program. And I tried to recall all the dances and songs that I had learned. And you know I had one hour of entertainment. And I, tell you those Issei people had, [indicates tears] "Ah, omoidasu, omoidasu," They thought about the memories of the past and they said, "Oh, thank you very much." There wasn't much they could do, so they crocheted me little doilies and things. [Laughs] And I still have that to this day.

And so that was a happy time (for) me when I was separated into camp thirty-one. And then the nurse, one of, couple of nurse's aide lived in that same block and they saw that program. They went back to the tuberculosis ward and says, "Jack, I didn't know your wife was a singer as well as a designer." [Laughs] And then Jack said, he never heard me, so he says, "Did you sing?" [Laughs] And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Well, I heard that everybody was so happy about it." And I said, "Yeah." But I said, "I kept it a secret from you 'cause you told me when we first met, I had this little records you put 25 cents in it and you record that. And I said, "I wanted to sing you a song." And I sang you a Japanese song. And I remember you said that, "You sound like you're crying." So ever since then, I said that, "Because of that I never sang in front of you. So this time I thought I'm not gonna tell you, I'm gonna keep it a secret." But the nurse's aide went and told him. And they just praised me. So he thought, "Gee, was she that good?" [Laughs] And then later on, the other blocks heard about it, and they begged me to come, and, but I told them that all the parents learned the song while I was singing for them. So I said, "You can ask one of the parents, and take the group with you." And that's what they did.

AI: So they took the group from one block...

KM: From our block.

AI: another block to entertain for the Issei?

KM: Yeah, uh-huh. And then they taught the other group the same dances.

AI: Oh. Oh, so...

KM: That was the time that I really felt like I was really doing something to make somebody happy away from home. Because I know my mother always said they enjoy watching us perform.

AI: Oh. That must've been so wonderful for the Issei.

KM: Isseis. Uh-huh. So, I had lot of happy times there. And right after, soon after that I gave an oshogatsu, they would have, cooks would tell the government what kind of food the Japanese like. And then 'course they all knew how to cook Japanese food. And then we got our first oshogatsu, you know, regular Japanese style. And that was a real happy occasion too.

AI: Oh my. Well, I'm surprised that you were able to have an oshogatsu, a New Year's style meal.

KM: Yeah, it was after, I think they must've had a, what do you call those when you apply and make comments? -- Whether you, what you like, what you don't like, and what you would like. I think that was passed to them. And then they said that Japanese don't like everything put together. They like it separate. But at first I tell you, it was always a, curry things, stew-like things. And they put so much curry in there that you can't even taste anything. It was just so... so I developed a dislike for curry. [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, now that you mention it, about the food and some of the things in the earlier parts of camp time, I want to ask you a little bit more about the early part of camp, also. When you were first there, that fall of 1942, I understand that there were some other disturbances in some of the other camps. You mentioned how Mr. Okamoto had been shot in Tule Lake. And I heard that there were also some strikes in Manzanar...

KM: Manzanar.

AI: ...and Poston. And I believe that was about November of '42...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: a little, shortly after Jack got sick.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: Do you recall anything happening like that at Gila River?

KM: Well, there were, but I never did know directly. I just, it was just hearsay. But I have a niece by marriage, and her uncle -- his name is Tayama, he was in Manzanar, and he was a JACL leader. I don't know whether you heard about him or anything. But because of that, he was always in trouble because the disloyal ones wanted to kill him. But he didn't get killed. But then he was always guarding his life every time he goes out. And it was a quite a very stressing time for them, for him.

AI: Now, when you mention disloyal, and loyal, are, you're maybe referring to this questionnaire that came out, that...

KM: Yes.

AI: ...and as I understand it, the government gave out this questionnaire to everybody, and there had two particular questions that they wanted people to answer. Do you happen to remember that yourself, getting the questionnaire?

KM: Yes, I do.

AI: And what did you think about that?

KM: Well, it just says in case we had to make a choice to be on Japan's side or American side, which side would you take? Which would you be loyal to? And 'course, for me personally, it was to the American side. But some Japanese Isseis, they still felt like Japan was their country. And then, see that's where Niseis were kinda emotionally, just, they didn't know which way to go. But if they were underage, naturally they would follow their parents. And so I have a lot of family, personal family that they went to Japan. And Japan was so bad and the food was so scarce that they actually saw some of these people just starve to death on the train station, begging for food. But the American government is so forgiving that after the war was ended, they paid their way back. And if they want to come back to America, even though they were disloyal, they came back. And I know that kinda family too. So you know, it wasn't really fair even among us that was loyal. But somehow we just, wartime people get lost and they don't, they really sometime can't think straight because of hysteria and so forth. So we just became friends again.

AI: Well, and as I understand it, the Issei, at that time, they could not become naturalized...

KM: No.

AI: ...U.S. citizens even if they wanted to.

KM: Yeah.

AI: And so they were pretty much, they had no choice but to remain Japanese citizens.

KM: Yeah.

AI: Did any of the Issei ever discuss that? Or do you recall them...

KM: Well...

AI: that time of the questionnaire discussing what to do about the answers?

KM: Well, I think it's their children that kept them in America, to be loyal to America, 'cause otherwise we'd be separated. It's the same thing as when the parents wanted to go to Japan and the younger ones had, they wanted us to be American, but they had to go because of their age. So it worked both ways. But in my case, my parents wanted to stay with us, so they were loyal.

AI: So they answered, "yes, yes..."

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...even though they couldn't become U.S. citizens...

KM: That's right.

AI: ...and...

KM: But like in Tule Lake and Manzanar you know, they sent all the disloyal ones into those camps, but there was a lot of loyal ones still left, so see, that's where the confliction came. And so even you were among your own people, we had to be careful what we say about the war, concerning the war, 'cause then people that's disloyal well, they'll just tell the others and they gang up on you. And that's what happened to this, at Manzanar.

AI: Now, speaking of Tule Lake, did you mention in our earlier talk that you had a friend in Tule Lake that you corresponded with, that you wrote letters to her?

KM: No, no, no. I didn't have any friend. I just have a friend's brother, or friend's, somebody else that lived over there. And then she told me about what happened.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, let me move on here to another subject. And you were, all during this time, Jack is still in the TB ward, and you've been walking back and forth going to visit with him. And then came the question of separating from his folks. For a while you were still living...

KM: Yeah, together.

AI: ...all together in the same barrack. Can you tell me what happened about the issue of separating from them?

KM: Yeah. Well, my folks went to so-called matchmakers and said that it was kinda hard for me to commute the distance, and it would be more convenient for me to be right there in camp two. And so, "Would you go to the, my in-laws to give me permission to be separated." Because of Jack's sickness and the nature of his sickness, as much as, well they wanted me so badly as his bride, but soon after they turned against me. And I think what she was trying to do was she was trying to relive her life when she was back in Japan, and trying to live up to [Laughs] stepmother and mother and daughter-in-law, that connection. I just had to be almost like a slave to her. I think I said something about when she -- and then she was only thirty-seven years old, and she was going through her change. And every time she drinks the medicine, she gives me the instruction of the medicine, how many hours to take, and I'm supposed to remind her and spoon feed her. And if I miss that day she said, she'll tell me, "You don't think of me. You don't care for me. That's why you forget. If you really cared for me you wouldn't forget." And so it was really, and when she doesn't feel good, she'll go lay down. And then when she gets up, I'm supposed to go right away, be listening to her noise and put her clothes on, put her shoes on, comb her hair -- at thirty-seven years old. Can you imagine? As much as I wanted to express my inner feeling, I couldn't say anything. And then sometime, I would forget or I, especially like early morning when rising I would oversleep. And then my sister-in-law would come to the window and tap my window and say, "Hurry up and get up because my mother..." And she was really trying to prevent that bad feeling. And so those are the things that I remember of my sister-in-law, that she was trying to help me and yet she didn't want mother-in-law to hear about it. [Laughs]

AI: Oh dear.

KM: Yeah.

AI: And so the nakodo did help at...?

KM: Yeah, so they separated me. And upon separation they said, like I said before, we all took some food in case. And so they said, "You divide that in half and give her half, 'cause she's gonna have another family, separated." And she said she would. And after we got to my new quarters, and I opened it, she gave me everything -- 'cause I packed it too, so I knew what was in there. And I was expecting everything would be half. And all the things that was good like pineapple, canned pineapple wasn't in there. It was just like apricots and things like that. And then I thought, "Oh, she was so generous with the sugar," and I look and it was salt. And no sugar was in there. [Laughs] So I finally went to my uncle -- Jack's side uncle -- and I said, "Uncle, I want you to come and see what I got." And he went back and told. And she said, "We, I ate it all." And she, we didn't eat any of it when we were together. But she just was constantly telling lies. But nobody would stop her. My father-in law wouldn't stop her. And she always tried to do it when he's not around.

AI: Oh dear, what a situation.

KM: And so I was in a real tight, in-between. I would tell Jack, but Jack was in a position where he couldn't say. Sometime he did tell his dad, but his dad wouldn't believe it. And then what he would say is, "After all, she sacrificed her life, and came to take care of you. So don't say those things." He was just... so we had a real, it wasn't a real free life in camp. Then when Jack and I would walk together before he got sick, we would walk together. And then my mother-in-law would come home and say, "My aunt," our aunt, his aunt, "...saw you two holding hands and walking in camp." And says, "That doesn't look very good." So when I wanna go to canteen, or do something, I'm to take her, not go with Jack. And so, oh, Jack, he was kinda angry, he said, "Well, we're married, what's wrong with going together?" Why should I go and always go with my in-laws? But, I don't know what the custom was, but she was certainly different and I got a real taste of being bondaged. [Laughs]

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, one other incident in your relationship had to do with life insurance. Can you tell about that?

KM: Oh, she, shortly after Jack was transferred to camp one, I mean hospital, camp two. I was still in the camp one. And my things were in the same barrack that we stayed together, although temporary I was living with, I went back to home -- my mother's, they were in the next barrack. And so I, Jack said, "Go get that life insurance. You know, I think there's a clause in there that when I'm disabled, I don't have to pay the premium." And so that's the only reason I went to get the insurance. And she was home. And she saw me opening up the suitcase, and she could tell the insurance paper...

AI: Your mother-in-law?

KM: My mother-in-law. And then somehow she, where Dad was, but then she told him. And I went, just soon after I had taken that insurance policy and Jack had read it, and he had it put away, he, the father-in-law came and he said that, "I want that insurance policy." And Jack said, "I don't have it." And he says, "You big liar." He says Mother saw me bringing it. Well, what could he do? And it was, when he came to the hospital, it was a, between one and three, which was the rest period for TB ward. And everybody was resting and it was just as quiet as can be. And his voice got louder and louder. [Laughs] And Jack was so embarrassed and he said, "Well, here, take it." But the whole thing was, they were afraid that Jack was gonna put it into my name, 'cause they were the beneficiary. But it was just little small things like that. And here she's been telling everybody that he was the only son, and how important it was for them to take care of him, because he has to take the namesake and so forth. Yet, when it comes to insurance or anything like that, they wanted it for themselves. So whatever they said, it didn't really jive together.

And then I'm just recalling now, when Jack and I got engaged, we, the two in-laws and Jack and I went to pick the ring out. And when they were finally selecting the ring they told me to go to the car and wait so I wouldn't know what the price was. Well, I didn't know that was their purpose, but I went and I sat in the car. And then when she came home, she told my sister-in-law -- she wasn't married at that time -- that we bought Kay a ring that cost so much and so much. And then the bill came later and I saw it. And I said, "Oh, how could she tell such lies." She had doubled the price, making me feel that, you know. I didn't care. It didn't mean that much to me. And everything that she did was that way.

AI: Oh, how difficult.

KM: Even (on) the car. When her, my stepmother's insurance, life insurance, came due just before we went into camp, about maybe one year or two year. And then at that time, Jack and I was going back and forth. And my mother having visited, we were thinking, "Well, we better just put it on the shelf." It was that kind of a uncertain period. But she wanted to impress me. And so up to now he was always, my husband was coming to see me in a Greyhound bus because his old car wouldn't make it over the Grapevine and so forth into L.A. And so he came with his brand new car, and he says, I say, "Oh, where'd you get your car?" And he says, "My mother bought it for me." And I said, "Oh." And 'course later I found out that it was to impress me that he got it. She bought the car for him. That's how much she thought of him. But the time evacuation come and we were to sell that car, that's a story in itself. There was many people coming to buy the car and so the highest bidder was $600. And one day, my husband just went for errand and he had the car, and my stepmother and I was home by myself. And I went out, she couldn't speak English, so I went out and said, "What did he want, what did he come for." Well he came to see the car. And then she says he offered $600 like the other party did. And so she told me, she said, "You tell him that there's another party coming later on that they're gonna pay you, pay us $650. And if you can get that $50, I'll give you the $50." And so I thought, "Gee, I hate to lie." But anyway, just as I told him that another party was gonna come and they're gonna pay us $650, so we don't want to sell it 'til Jack came home. And then I told Jack this is what happened. He said, "Oh." And he didn't know what to say, whether they, which side to take, or what to do. And then, but anyway, my mother-in-law came out and says in Japanese she says, "Say $650. You can get $50 more." But so Jack finally said that and they were willing, and they came prepared, and they gave us, him $650. And do you know what happened to that $650? She took it. She had supposedly had bought it for him. See things, all our wedding gifts, everything was that way.

AI: Oh my. From the very beginning.

KM: Yeah, so we just had a real rough start. [Laughs]

AI: Oh dear, oh dear.

KM: Then he got sick on top of that. And everybody that we had friends, we thought that were friends, they kinda left us. And it was a real miserable time, until the missionaries come, came. That's when we realized the difference between different people.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Why don't we, maybe you could tell me how the missionaries came and a little bit about what they did.

KM: Well, the missionaries were, originally, they had gone to Japan. And they loved Japan and they loved the people. And then, Japanese people, most of them are Shinto or Buddhist. And they wanted -- they were Church of Christ people -- and they wanted them to know the Christ. And especially during the war, they wanted to have them have a hope. They don't want to be discouraged and go to camp, some people might even commit suicide, just give up. So they wanted to just encourage them. So they came to our family and different family and they said that they wanted to do whatever they can. Well, while we were still on the outside, there wasn't much they could do for us. But they followed us into, when they found out all the Fowler people in the vicinity went to Gila camp, they followed us and they moved to Arizona. And then they went to get a special permit. Like I said before, gas and everything was rationed, and then they would save their rationing ticket, and then walk for shopping for, and to, (do) their own thing, and then they would come out to the camp. And they would come every week, just week after week and try to visit all the people that was in need. And that's how they found me. And then they wanted to convert me to Christianity. But there was opposition because both our families were Buddhist. And, but, oh it took about a year, just one week after another. I saw something within them. And then they were poor. Their car was, they barely made it to the camp and then, in spite of being poor they adopted children that were homeless, or they didn't, something happened or disabled. And so I think, "Oh, they sure must have a real genuine love within themselves to think and care for others." And so it was through their life that slowly we both saw that they've got something that we don't have. And many times when they came, we didn't want to see them any more 'cause they keep saying, "Don't you wanna trust Jesus? Don't you wanna trust?" And we just didn't know what to say. We ran out of excuses. And there was one time that I even locked, when I saw the car coming, I locked my barrack and pretended I wasn't home, because I just ran out of excuse. And my mother-in-law was going to my mother and saying that girls can influence man. "So you influence Kay to make Jack change, and don't let them become a Christian."

And see all that was going on while the missionary was trying to... [Laughs] And here again we had all kinds of mixed emotion, and we just didn't know what to do. But as we gradually studied some of the tracts that she left and, it was really by their life that we saw the difference. And then we finally said, "Well, we'll be baptized." And so we were both baptized in a portable baptistry in the hospital. That's why, how come we came, we became Christian. And there was other phases, too. I mean, while he was in the hospital we saw when a Buddhist minister came to visit, they would never get close to the bed. And then, you know they would be far away, and very formally, bow. But when they came, they would sit on the bed, hold your hand and pray for us, put his arms around us. It was just entirely different. And also through them, we saw the other Christian people that came. And they put on a program for Christmas and Easter. And they always came to each patient. So we saw such a difference that we were convinced and we wanted to be that kind of people to help others, because we were so neglected in so many areas. It just taught us things that we have never heard before or learned before.

AI: That is so interesting. It must've been a very different way of...

KM: But it was a battle. Because between my in-laws wanting us to stay Buddhist. And then because Jack was the first child, first son, only son that to carry out the name, and that we would break that lineage. And oh, it was a terrible time. So when we got baptized we just didn't say anybody. But you know, in camp, one people hears it, everybody hears it. [Laughs]

AI: And what about your parents? What was their reaction?

KM: My parents, they, she said, "It didn't matter," because she said, "You're married out to the family. Whatever Jack says," she says, "...abide by it." But my mother, after our children were born, she used to come every summer, three months or so to visit. And she said she saw such a difference, the way we raised our kids because we would raise them as the Bible says, to honor your parents and so forth. And so they said, "Even though how poor you are" -- we are -- the kids never begged for things, 'cause they knew we would give them whatever it was needed, not what they want. There's lot of difference between wanting and needing. And so Mother says, "You guys sure did a good job of raising your kids." And she said, "Is this the Christian way?" And she even attended church with me once, a few times, because she was so (impressed) and yet, at the very end when this minister came and said, "Mrs. Nakahara, don't you wanna accept Jesus as your savior?" She said, "Jesus is good, but Buddha first." [Laughs] "...Jesus second," she said. And so I don't know whether she really accepted, but she was very, very affected by Christian people. How, because even during nursing confinement so many Christian people came to see her.

AI: Well, thank you for telling me...

KM: So it's really important to, your life is an example. And we have to, I mean, it's better to show by your action, through your life than to preach at them and nag at them. [Laughs]


AI: Well, you were just finishing telling about the missionaries that made such a big difference in your life. And can you tell me their names?

KM: Yeah. Their name was Mr. and Mrs. Owen Still. I don't know where they were originally from, but I just remem -- met them in Fowler before evacuation. They followed us into Gila River and then ministered to us. And that's how I got acquainted with them.

AI: Oh, I see.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the camp in general. You mentioned how there were the two camps...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: ...the Canal Camp and the Butte Camp, and how you moved from one to the other one that was closer to the hospital.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: Can you describe the camp a little bit more in general? What it looked like? The camp one and the camp two?

KM: Uh-huh. Well there was, camp one and camp two were similar. I mean, they were all barracks you know. Black tar paper on the wall, but then, some people said their ground, their floors were ground. But we had wood. But when we first went in there it wasn't a tight fit. And when the wind blows, or -- and we had lot of scorpions and Gila monsters and things like that come in. And some people, we've never had it in our bed, but they said they opened their bed and there was scorpions in there. And then I heard some people got bit, but I don't know anybody personally that got bit, it was just hearsay here again. But anyway, we would get up in the morning and clean up all our what little furniture we -- all our furniture was made by scrap lumber. And my husband, being a carpenter, he made me little vanity set and a little bench and things to make it look homey. But it was just white with dust. Because up there and down in there was -- and as we stayed the first winter, now it was cold, because whenever the wind blew through the cracks came in. But the second winter they had kind of like a pot belly oil stove and then floors were, had linoleum. And by then they had a division of the barracks and then we had separate door to go into. And so it was rather comfortable, I mean comparatively. And Japanese are noted for their gardening. And somehow, where they get all those plants, or maybe they brought seeds. Everybody was competing for their front part, garden. It was just a little square part, but they had flowers and trees. And by the time we left camp, it was like a park. But at first it was just kind of bare, nothing. And some people even had ponds and fishes in there.

AI: Is that right?

KM: You know, it was just their way of, they were, all the Japanese, they weren't idle. They made use of each, their time. And like Isseis, they went to English class to become citizens. And they went to sewing classes, or crocheting class, knitting classes. They really took advantage of all those things. And oh, the beautiful things they would make with their crafts, hands, you know. That's when I started my sewing classes at home. And then I got my sewing machine shipped.

AI: How did you do that?

KM: Well, the people that was taking care of Jack's farm was Jack's good friend. And then when we, we had agreement before we left that when, and he said, he's the one that offered. He said, "If there's anything you want us to send, send it, we can always deduct it from your expense." And so when Jack was in the hospital, I would make my different clothes, or I wore most of the clothes that I had already made. And nurse's aide, they were all young, some of 'em teenager, early twenties, and you know clothes meant a lot to them. And so they kept kinda giving me the once over and they said, "Gee, your wife sure dresses nice. And where does she get her clothes? Does she go -- ?" And at that time we were getting from catalogs, Sears and "Monkey Ward." And so, "Which catalog is it?" -- or something. And so Jack said, "Oh no, she's a dressmaker. She designs her clothes." And they said, "Oh, gee, I wonder if she'll do some sewing for me?" And then through that, they saw my work and said, "Gee, I wonder if she'll teach me?" And so, I think I had about six people coming at that time.

AI: As students...?

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...learning?

KM: And so, between going to take care of my husband, I had time enough to do different things. And that was after I had moved toward the hospital.

AI: So you were teaching dressmaking...

KM: Yeah, dressmaking.

AI: ...and also you were making...

KM: And also I was sewing.

AI: Sewing.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: And what would you charge for a dress? Or a...?

KM: Well, dresses, I, from $1.50 to $2.50. [Laughs] And suits that were lined was $5. You know, you couldn't ask for more when we only got such a small salary, and we've all lost something. But, I just made it enough. And then they said, "Is that enough?" And I said, "Well, it's enough for me," anyway. And while I was doing this sewing one of my cousin -- when I first opened the dress shop back in Lomita, I asked her that if she wants to learn sewing that, she could come and learn. And my father had borrowed some money long time ago from her father and was unable to pay that. So I said, "In lieu of that," I said, "...I would not charge her tuition." But they didn't want to send them to me. They wanted them to go to an ordinary school where it was kinda real noted, had a reputable reputation. And so they went there. But you know when they were gonna go evacuate on their own from the camp to Minnesota, that's where they went, everybody was getting suit to go so they could get interviewed. And then both of the sisters came over and said, "I want you to make me a suit." And I said, "I'm not doing any sewing here." They said, "Oh yes you are, 'cause we saw the suit that you made for so and so." And so that's how the word got around. And so I couldn't say I didn't do it. And so finally I said to her, "You know, when I was sewing and I had my dressmaking shop, I asked you, and I told your mother that my father owed your dad some money. And I wanted you to come, and I wanted to repay that. And you refused to come because..." Not her, but mother didn't want you to come. And I said, "What did you learn in your sewing school? Didn't you learn how to make suits?" [Laughs] That was the first time I got kinda, you know. And then she said, "Oh, we didn't go into all tailoring and things like that. In fact, I don't even sew. I didn't learn anything while I was there." And says, "Please, please, 'cause I saw that suit that you did and I want a (suit) just like that." And so I said, "Well, okay, this will be free then." So I just made it for free for the two sisters. And they were very, very happy.

AI: And that's what they wore when they went out from camp...

KM: When they were out.

AI: Minnesota?

KM: Yeah. But every one of 'em that went out for interview, they all dressed up in their suits. And oh, I was busy for a while there. Even if it was $5, you know, it was better than working for $12 a month. [Laughs]

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: Well, now, during this time, what about your brother and sister? Were, did they work also?

KM: Yes, uh-huh. My brother was an ambulance driver, and my sister was a waitress in the mess hall. So hers was a $12, but my brother's job was a $19, in a professional, just because he was driving. And that was a real handy thing for me. Sometime when I would go visit when I was living in Block 31, which was longest, he would be going and he knew what time I go and he would pick me up. And we always tried to help one another. And there was another friend that did a freight (collection), went to collect freight and bring it to the camp. And then my brother would tell him, "Well, if you pass by this Block 31 certain time, well, pick my sister up." And you know we always tried to help each other. And I really was grateful, 'cause that was a long walk. [Laughs]

AI: I'll say. Well, I also wanted to ask you about how the camp was run, and the hospital, and what you thought about the way that things were run.

KM: Well, I don't know. But the real, but I know that the head nurse, or head doctor, they had a different facility aside from ours. They had a separate administration section building. And they're the head, no matter if they're, how much training they got, and all the Japanese doctor has to be under them. And the Japanese doctors and dentists, they all got nineteen $19, nurses. Yeah. And then I think it was on a different schedule plan, they'd have three shifts. I think it was a morning shift, and a afternoon, and then a graveyard shift. I guess according to the needs of each section, ward, so many were assigned, and they had day offs -- something similar to over here.

AI: And how did you and Jack, what did you think about the treatment he received on the TB ward?

KM: Well, see Jack, Jack's lungs, well one side was completely collapsed, and the other side was halfway collapsed. And so many of the TB patients got what you call -- I forgot the name of that, (pneumonectomy) -- they would break the ribs to hasten the recovery. Well Jack was just to rest only, bed rest only. He just gradually got better, because it was already collapsed. But as far as treatment, they would have their sputum test, blood test, urine test. It was very regular, and they would keep a chart, and they would give him a chart, and then all the ups and downs or improvement. And then when they'd test the sputum, negative or positive. And then finally at close to year and a half his sputum all turned out all negative. And so that time he got a 24-hour leave. [Laughs] And that was a real big break. And then the doctor was a young doctor and he says, "You know, you guys need more break than that. You just have been married..." So he was really good to us. And so he would give us, give him more breaks because of his negative sputum test. So they got good treatment. As far as both of us was concerned I think, well, they were very well taken care of. 'Cause I don't know the TB wards out in the outside world, I don't know that, so I have nothing to compare it with.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: And he was in the TB ward so long. What would Jack do to pass the time?

KM: Well, Jack always wanted to be accountant. And when he graduated high school he had a scholarship that he could go to any school he wanted. Here again, the parents had a say so. And they kept saying that they were too poor. But they really weren't poor, they just wanted to just hang on to the money. And Dad was just barely sixty years old when...

AI: Jack's father?

KM: ...Jack's father. And then the mother said, "Look how old your dad is. You gotta help him." So he just sacrificed and worked out in the farm. But when he went to, when he got sick -- this is really, I just really praise him for this -- he, because he had this yearning to learn accounting, he looked up in these catalogs and he found a corresponding school. And so he took that and they accepted him. And then he would fill out the lesson and send it in and get a grade and get the next lesson. And in the twenty-month period, he completed that whole course. And that's why he got the job after he got discharged from the hospital and came outside, back home. But that's another story, too. When he first came back, doctor still said, "You must take it easy." Get a part-time job, but not a full-time job.

AI: This was still in camp?

KM: No, this is after he came back.

AI: Oh, outside.

KM: I'm jumping ahead of schedule. [Laughs] But anyway, he looked in all this job wanted and help wanted column, and he couldn't find it in the masculine section any more, so he went to the female. [Laughs] He said, "Maybe there's some openings in the female column." 'Cause he wanted to work so badly. And so he looked and he couldn't find it. But when, after we came out of camp, my, I had a lot of customers, I started to sew again after my first child was old enough to walk around and Jack could handle him. And I had a customer that was working in this employment agency in the state. And so I asked (her), I said, "Hey, by the way, is there any opening for accounting? " And so she said, "Oh, let me think about it." It didn't take very long. I guess she knew all the ins and outs. And she said, "Hey, there's a job for welfare department if you wanna work. But this welfare department won't last very long 'cause they're gonna close this. But if you want it for even for temporary, if you wanna get a foot in the state work, this would be a good opportunity." So that's what he did. And then 'course later on he would transfer into the Cal Trans, transportation department. That's where he worked for thirty years.

AI: Well, we'll get back into that again...

KM: Okay. [Laughs]

AI: ...when we return after the war.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: But, you were saying about how he worked so hard on this correspondence course. He actually finished it...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...during the time he was on the TB ward. Well, now can you tell me what happened? When was he discharged from the TB ward?

KM: Umm... I forgot the exact date, but anyway, it's twenty months, it was exactly twenty months after October the 6th -- [Laughs] '42. So...

AI: So it was in 1944?

KM: Let's see, 19 -- yeah, 1944.

AI: About summer, maybe early summer of '44?

KM: Uh. Around fall I think it was. Uh-huh.

AI: Oh, fall?

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: So when he came out then what happened? You were able to, you had your own room in the barrack at that time?

KM: Yes, we were by ourselves. And then I was still teaching the different ones, and sewing a little bit. And 'course, that's when we decided to have our child. And then the following, in '45 now, our child was born in October of '45.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Well now, before we skip ahead to that, lots of things happened in 1945. Because, of course in August, Hiroshima was bombed.

KM: Yes.

AI: How did you hear about that?

KM: Well, it was word of mouth. We didn't have any radio or anything like that. And at that time my father, [Laughs] he says, "That's just an old rumor." He says, "That can't be." And then even when President Roosevelt died, he wouldn't believe it that he committed suicide because Japan was winning. You know this was generally, you know, the Isseis still hung on to. They were in America, and they were in camp and everything, but they still had way in the back of their mind they were pulling for Japan, that Japan has never lost a war.

AI: And so they had rumors that Japan was --

KM: Yeah rumors, and so that's the rumors that we picked up. But then we said that how could the little island, Japan fight against the great big America? But, well we never talked about who's gonna win, or who's gonna lose, [Laughs] 'cause that would become a kind of a controversy with each other and... some families even had an argument, too.

AI: Well, when you finally did hear about the bombing, the atom bomb, and both your family and Jack's family, being from the Hiroshima-ken, how did they take that news?

KM: Well, they didn't know who got killed or anything until after all this passed and the letters started coming. And then we found out that different ones of our relatives, how they had perished in that atom bomb. And 'course, when we went back in (1967) to visit them for the first time, then our uncle's only daughter, and then like my side, I had one uncle that was an artist, and he was teaching art in school, and they had all perished in this atom bomb. And how hard it was for... and then one of my friends said that they couldn't find her mother. And then this Otagawa, that's where the bomb was centered on, and she said she went there and picked up, and looked all over and tried to see what, which was the closest to her mother's remains and picked it up. And she herself had to bury her, and how hard it was. And so we heard all these stories and how -- and then my aunt was still living where she had a baby on her back. And her back was nice, but all the rest of the body were burned. Her skin was still in keloids, or whatever, and she was still going back and forth to the doctor. And so hearing all those stories, and then going to the museum and seeing it, it was awful. And we saw that museum in the last day in Japan in ('67). And on the way home we stopped in Hawaii and we saw Pearl Harbor. I tell you, war is just awful. I mean it just did something to us. And we saw all those names that perished. No matter which way you see it, Japan or America, it's just, it's just awful. I just said, "Oh, I don't know." We just kind of cried. What they had gone through, you know.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: Well now, of course with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that was the end of the war.

KM: Yeah. Uh-huh.

AI: And what did you hear about what was going happen to you and the camp?

KM: Well, then 'course around that time, some of the people had already relocated. And then eventually, they said, they finally said, eventually by the end of '45 all the camps are gonna be closed. And so we knew that we're gonna have to go back home. And I think my folks were about the last to get out of the camp. And when they came over to say good-bye to me, Dad came first by himself. And then, that's the second time I saw him cry. The first time was when he had to sell his two horses. I saw him cry. He put his arms around the horse and says, "Thank you for taking, doing all the work for me and I have to give you up." And that's the first time I saw him. That was before we evacuated voluntarily to Fowler. Second time was when he was leaving camp to come back outside, to the outside world. He came up and he said, "You know, you went through a lot of hardship and now you're separated. And now everything's gonna be good. Now don't come back to Jack's home and start living together again." But we had no place to go. So we had, that's the only place we could go. From then, we could get separated. So and then, he just cried, he says, "Don't go through that anymore." And I could see, and then he couldn't talk anymore. And then he just patted me on, and then came home. And then my mother came to see me. And then around that time I was, I guess I was about mid, maybe it was six months or something like that, pregnant. She said, "I want to tell you one thing before I go." Says, "All the ladies go through labor, and then you have to gaman, you have to endure this pain. Don't yell and scream, 'cause the Japanese don't do that." And so I said, "Okay, okay." [Laughs] And so I had that in my mind when I gave birth. [Laughs]

AI: Well, so then where did your parents go when they...?

KM: They went back to Fowler too, back to, because see, they had left L.A. to Fowler, and the only, last place was Fowler. And so from there they had to find their... so they came back to Jack's folks' place, 'cause that was the only place they can, that was permanent.

AI: And Jack's folks left camp about the same time?

KM: No he, they left a little earlier.

AI: Earlier.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: And then what happened with you and Jack?

KM: Well we were, eventually we were the only ones left in the camp. [Laughs] And then John, the baby was delayed two weeks. And so they had to re-open the hospital and then the means of heat was, there was steam. They had to really work it up before the hospital could be occupied. 'Cause it was only one room that we occupied, but the whole hospital had to be heated, and it took quite a bit of time. But then they opened it up for us.

AI: So...

KM: And then my labor was so long. [Laughs]

AI: So John was originally due in September...?

KM: September, uh-huh.

AI: ...but he was two weeks late.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: And tell me about what happened with your labor.

KM: Well, the doctors there that was in charge for OB, he thought that so far that all the Oriental people didn't have that much of a hard time. But there was some stillborn. But not that they were laboring and I couldn't get the baby. And so he said, first day or so he didn't worry about it. But then when it became second day, and I still, and he examined me and there was no fetal heart. And the third day, so he consulted a Japanese doctor. But the Japanese doctor had his hand tied because, see, head, he was in charge. But he said, the head doctor said, "Tell me what your real opinion is. What can we do?" So he said, "Well then let's save the mother and we'll forget about the baby, since there's no fetal heart." And by that time, the third day, the head nurse, which I had never seen -- she told me she was the head nurse -- and then she brought an ice bag and put it on my head. And I didn't even know I was running a fever. And she, I could tell from their face that they were so concerned. And then this doctor kept coming midnight to examine me again. And then coming in early in the morning. And so, I think around third day I said, "Something's wrong." This is, and then I kept thinking about my mother. And my labor pain was constant. It was just constant. It wasn't so many minutes apart, it was just constant. And the nurse's aide came to put a thermometer. And first few days I would leave it in there, but boy, I just threw it. I said, "I just couldn't stand it any more." So I held on to the bed, and I don't whether I bent it or not. I said, "Oh, Mother, I said, "Is this what you all go through?" And I said, "How could they stand it?" 'Cause little did I know that I was having a extra special different kind. But finally, on Saturday, they broke my water bag to hurry it. Well, that made it worse 'cause it was dry. So Sunday, October 7th, that was John's birthday, at 10:07 -- I can't forget the time either. They put me out and then they just butchered me, and took me out, took the baby out with a forcep. And they thought the baby was dead so he has a big scar over here.

AI: And so they used the...

KM: And then he wouldn't cry or nothing after he was, so they put him in a oxygen tent for three days with a special nurse with the orders that, "As soon as the baby turns blue, immediately notify the staff." Well the third day he cried and he wet his diaper for the first time. [Laughs] And so they knew that there was a chance for him to survive.

AI: For the three days after he was born, were you breast feeding him, or how...?

KM: No, no. I didn't even see the baby.

AI: You didn't see...?

KM: They just kept him in the oxygen tent.

AI: And so you found out that he was alive when he was born? But...

KM: Well they didn't say anything.

AI: They didn't say...

KM: I said, "Can I see the baby?" And they didn't, they kinda silently... and then later on I found out he was in the oxygen tent, because the nurse came to tell me that I'm the one that had to keep watching. Was I ever scared. [Laughs] Yeah. So...

AI: And did they let Jack come in to see you?

KM: Oh yeah. Jack did. Yeah. And then they told Jack that we don't know about the baby, but we're gonna try to save your wife. But he didn't want to tell me 'cause they told him not to tell me.

AI: So here you were for...?

KM: Yeah. And then, so we had no one to tell it to or talk to. And poor Jack, he went back and forth, and then the nurse chased him home and he came back again. [Laughs] Even he goes home there is no one he can share anything with. And he said when we finally got the baby, he said, "No more baby after this." [Laughs]

AI: Well, how long were you in the hospital after John was born?

KM: Yeah, well because of this exceptional long labor and everything, they kept me for two weeks -- which was unusual. They usually send them out two or three days. But I wasn't able to breast feed him at all, because of the labor.

AI: And how about you? How were you feeling?

KM: Well, I was exhausted, to say... but, at least I was beginning to eat. For the five days now I just couldn't eat because I didn't have a chance to eat. And whenever the nurse's aide would, especially the Japanese nurse, she would come in the morning and she would say, "Oh, how are you?" And she would say, "Mada?" in Japanese, "Not yet?" And that would irritate me. [Laughs] And I said, "I wish she wouldn't say that to me." Bad enough to keep waiting and struggling. But two weeks after they discharged me they gave me instructions to take a shower, but be sure the sun is out, when it's warm. Don't go out when it's cold. So I waited until noon or around two o'clock. After I took the shower and came back in, I started to shake. And I thought, "Gee, I'm feeling funny." And then I'd try to see the baby and the baby would go up and go down and the room would go around. But I never realized I was having a fever. Because coming out of the shower and taking a hot bath, I thought, "That's what it was." And I laid down, and it just wouldn't go away. And so Jack said, "Let's take your temperature, 'cause you're shaking." So I took my temperature and with the thermometer that we had taken to camp and it was 108. And we shook it, and we did it again. I said, "I never had a fever this high." And so he went to the doctor and called him and told him. And the doctor said, "Your thermometer may be old and it could be wrong. So let's take a brand new one." And he brought a brand new one from the hospital and took it and it was still 108. And then when he took my urine specimen, it was kidney poison because of the labor. And so until the time that we left camp, I was sick. Just barely moving around and holding the baby. And I don't know whether I was up here, down here, I mean it was just an awful feeling. So they said that we will put you on a Pullman train. And that was the old, old fashioned. It was just like going on a train, chug, chug, chug. And then until the motor went so far the steam wouldn't come. And I was bottle feeding him. And the baby was crying until the steam came up so I can warm the milk. And it was a kind of a rough voyage home too. And then when we reached Fresno Station, Jack had already sent a telegram to his folks, somebody to come after us, because we'll be landing certain time. And then no, just an empty station. Nobody was there. And so we had to look for the cab. And then that's how we came home, on a cab.

AI: Oh my goodness.

KM: And so we, we just felt like weren't even expected. And we had sent a telegram as soon as the baby was born, and a date was set. So my husband was saying, he was kinda embarrassed, he says, "My folks." [Laughs]

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: When was that that you finally returned back?

KM: November of '45.

AI: November.

KM: Just one month after the baby was born.

AI: And what was the condition of their property, their house and their farm?

KM: Well by the time we came home, they came home midsummer, before the crop was gathered. And so they more or less had it all fixed. And so the house and everything was pretty much the way it was before we left. So they got that year's crop full.

AI: So in some ways they were fortunate when they came back?

KM: Yeah, in a way. Compared to our parents, their work and their business and everything. They were really, they had income coming in all that, during the war, although it was only 40 percent and the rest, the people that ran it got 60 percent. But at least our farm, or the property was there.

AI: So, after you got back in November, then I, it sounds like both you and Jack, your health was not too good.

KM: Yeah, yeah.

AI: You had the kidney poisoning...

KM: Yeah, I had, uh-huh.

AI: ...Jack was still kind of recovering.

KM: Yeah, yeah. And so, and then that following January, my mother was living in, they were living in Clovis. And then she had her shogatsu food. And then that night she started to have the diarrhea. And she had diarrhea for about ten days. And the doctors just couldn't find what was wrong with her. And so, because they weren't a resident of Fresno County, she couldn't go into the county hospital. And so the doctor that was in charge, who's a Japanese doctor, he said that there's a Japanese hospital right around his office that was closed during the war. He said, "I'll get a special permission to get it opened so we can put her in a hospital." By then she was so thin that, one day when she got better she was looking in the mirror and she said, "Who is that lady across where I am? She looks like a yurei," you know, ghost, "she's so skinny and everything." [Laughs] And she was looking at her own self. [Laughs] And she just lived on popsicles. That was only thing that settled in her stomach. But we, to this day we don't know what was wrong, but she eventually got well. And so during that time I had to go and take care of her and then my mother, stepmother took care of my little baby that was just one month old. And well, he had a little piggy bank. And we used to always put our loose change in there after we went grocery shopping. And then when my mother got well, and she got discharged and we were looking at all the things, that bank was empty. Isn't that something? A grandmother doing that to the... well, that's the kind it was. And then people would give us gift for the baby. And then my aunt and uncle bought us a crib, and then my sister-in-law bought us the mattress. And so we said, "We better go and buy some sheets." And then my mother-in-law said, "Oh, I got some sheet left over when Jack was a baby." Now Jack, when he was a baby, he didn't have fitted sheets. And so somebody had given it to her and she had it hidden away. And then she gave it to me at the right time, but I don't know who gave a gift to us. See? Oh, I tell you, so many things happened.

AI: Oh my. And so one thing happened after another. You came back from camp and then soon after your mother was ill. Then you had the, little John was just a little infant...

KM: Yeah, yeah.

AI: ...and you're still living with Jack's parents...

KM: So you know what my husband did? Because the doctor said, "You can only have a part-time job." He went around different places and asked the people for bronzing their baby shoes. And that's how he made his little income.

AI: And then you started up dressmaking again?

KM: Yeah, I did. Uh-huh. After the baby was about a year old and Jack could handle it. And then he did all my covered buttons and buckles as I sewed. And then our first son says I, when Jack passed away and he was giving his remembrance of his dad, he says, "I still remember Dad making buckles, covered buckles and buttons for Mama." And then even if it was, woman's liberation wasn't then, soon as we had dinner, he says, "I remember Dad going to the sink and washing the dishes so that Mama could finish up her sewing." He remembered all that. I was really surprised. [Laughs]

AI: So even as a little boy he...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...saw what his dad...

KM: Uh-huh. They're very observing.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: So now tell me how you were able to eventually separate into your own home.

KM: Well, I sewed for one year. And I had, yeah we put a little advertising in the Fowler paper, 'cause I didn't think people from Fresno would, they didn't know me either. So it was mostly from somehow that they knew Jack's family. And then 'course after that, then after I sewed once, then they would tell other people. And I was able to save a down payment and then buy a few furniture. And we had to buy the cheapest, because you know we just didn't have anything because we had to start all over again. And looking for a house was another problem too, 'cause so many people were against Japanese and they didn't want any Japanese neighbors.

AI: Was this still in the Fowler area?

KM: Well, we were looking in the Fresno area, because we didn't want to live too close. And so we told the realtor that we wanted to have a neighbor that would accept us. "So when you introduce a house or show us a house, be sure and ask the two neighbors." Because at that time people were throwing fire things and settin' barns and stuff on fire in the countryside.

AI: You mean...?

KM: The Japanese home. Uh-huh. So I didn't want that to happen. And so they all did. And so some of 'em said that they never had a Japanese, they don't even know what Japanese is. And lot of 'em said, "I'd rather not have a neighbor." So it was quite a long time that we had looked all over. And then the last house that, the first house was right near the city college, right near railroad track. They told us that eventually that railroad track would be taken out so it would be quiet. Well, it's still there. And so both neighbors said, "Oh," they said they would love to have Japanese. Some of them said that they're good gardeners, they're neat and so forth. And one of 'em said, "Well, I've never had one and I'd like to get acquainted." And so the one in the front and both sides, they all agreed. And we be, and to this day we're just corresponding back and forth. We're all far apart now. But when my husband passed away, they came to his services. And we just had a good memory, and we would talk about how our kids were growing up. So they were the best neighbors. But after nine years living there, and we had, we paid for all our mortgage and so forth. The two boys were to the age where they wanted a separate room, 'cause our first house was a two-bedroom house. So we looked and then we found a house that they were just building from the scratch. And that's where we went. And then we had a four-bedroom house, and I could use one for my sewing, and the two boys had their own. But this one, we didn't have to go around asking neighbors 'cause our house was the first one occupied, and all the rest came in later. But then unfortunately, uh not -- fortunately, our right immediate corner neighbor was a Japanese. And then after we got acquainted with, people that we knew way back in camp. [Laughs] Right next to each other.

AI: What a coincidence.

KM: Yeah. So we became real good neighbor. But both of them died now and now there's a Mexican family living there.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the attitudes of the Caucasians after the war, shortly after the war. And you mentioned that there were some Japanese farms and families that were vandalized.

KM: Well my cousin, Jack's cousins, he had a great big, I don't know how many acres he has, but it's a vineyard, and peaches and so forth. And then this, well, it started with Chavez, if you know who, that union. They came early one morning and put nail all where the tractor or the car would come, the workers would come. And all his hired workers' car would be flat when came in. That's how the first started. And so he had a hard, 'cause he came home rather, he was one of the first ones to come back. And he had a quite a hard time, 'cause they really, they didn't want them back.

AI: Right after the war?

KM: Right after war. Uh-huh. So I know that was one of the incidents. And then they would clean up all the nails. And then somehow during the night, they can't hear because the roads are kinda far apart for the workers. And there were all these tacks.

AI: So for a while there was...

KM: Yeah there was.

AI: ...a negative feeling?

KM: Yeah, and then even, we experienced it even ourselves when we were the last ones, end of the year in '45. We went to shopping, and you know when you go to the cashier, we all line up. And then we were next in line. And then there's another one that came later and then the cashier motioned to them to come first and they just kept us standing there. So we just walked out. That was the first thing that we... and then another thing was we looked for a church home after we came back. And then...

AI: What do you mean by church home?

KM: Well, we wanted to find a church that we could call home and that would be our home -- I mean our regular going or attending church. And since the Church of Christ people -- the missionaries were Church of Christ people -- they told us to go to Fowler's Church of Christ before you join any other church, because we want you to go there. Well, minister came to call on us the first day, and they said, "I have to go back and ask the congregation if they would accept you. But as far as I'm concerned you're welcome to join." And so he went back and I guess he had a congregational meeting. And he came back and he said, "I'm so sorry to tell you this terrible news. I would accept you with open arms, but my congregation, there was more opposition than yes's. So we can't accept you." And that was just, maybe just one or two months after we came out of camp. And so that was a real blow to us because, you know the Bible says, "In Christ there is no east, west, north, south." And so they said that everybody would love you, the way they were telling us. But there was still lot of war hysteria left that maybe they had, maybe their son were in the army and got killed or something. But just because we were Japanese, they kinda blamed it onto us. So that was a blow to us, too. But my, Jack's classmate heard about all this incident, and he belonged to a Presbyterian church. And he came over and he said he would be very glad if we would come there, and so we've been Presbyterian ever since. [Laughs]

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: Well, now then some time along during this period after the war, well you had established your dressmaking business, you got your first house, and then after a while you and Jack decided to have another child.

KM: Uh-huh. Well see, one of my good neighbors when we, the first house, they said, "You know, Jack and Kay, are you gonna have another child?" So we told her what happened to us, you know what happened to me. And I said, "We just, we're kinda leery about going through that again." And she said, "You know, John has a lot of markings of an only child." And I said, "What is a marking of an only child?" She said, "Well, he's kinda spoiled." [Laughs] Well naturally, you know, he was saved, you know the doctor gave up on him and he was saved. So we had a tendency to kinda, you know. And so said, "Is that right?" "Have you ever seen a spoiled child?" And I said, "Yes." I said, "I don't see anything so spoiled about him." [Laughs] And then we got to thinking, "Well, maybe." So then John wanted to have friends because he was five by then. And I thought, "Well, maybe we should." And so I thought, "Well, maybe if we go to a good doctor and get myself examined real good, and I follow his instructions, then I won't have such a bad time." But the mistake that we made was, here again we didn't know any Caucasian doctor or any specialists, and all we knew was a Japanese doctor that Jack was acquainted with and he was just a GP. And he felt that well, says -- he knew what kind of a labor I had before, and he had, I had to go to him for half year to get treated because of the labor. And so he said, "It won't happen again." And so he was supposedly supposed to be very careful, and I was supposed to have followed the instruction. But the baby wasn't, it was quite a bit smaller, and yet the labor was kinda prolonged again. And they finally had to cut me, not butcher me, but it still wouldn't come out. And my neigh -- another lady that was having a baby at same time, she came way after I did, and she had the baby before I did. And I said, "Oh," I said to the doctor, "Is it gonna happen again like I had in camp?" And he said, "No, we won't let it happen." But I guess he must've thought that I'm still gonna have a hard time. So again, he put me under and took by forcep.

AI: And when was Paul born?

KM: Paul was born on October 20, 1940 -- 1950, five years apart. Five years and two years, two weeks, I guess. So, but I'm so glad because they both have each other, and they're such, they're just like Max and Reid. They're so good to each other. But they never were in the same school together because the five years' difference.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

AI: Well, tell me a little bit as the boys were growing up, did you and Jack ever talk to them about the war or camp or anything like that?

KM: Our sons?

AI: Yeah.

KM: No, we never talked about, and we never had an opportunity to say anything. And they didn't, never ask anything either. But, see it's through Reid and Max's era that started asking me about back, where did grandfather come, and where did they come from, and all that. They became interested. I think because they started teaching that in school. And then that was around the time when college students and different people came and asked me for interview.

AI: Well, before we get to that, let me ask you a little bit more about how you and Jack decided to bring up John and Paul. And did you ever talk to them about prejudice? About the discrimination they might face?

KM: Yeah. Sometime, a little, but, you know Sanseis are more open, and they'll talk back and so forth. And so I don't, they had a little, but not as much as we did. And then, 'course, we tend to hold back whereas they would be open. But then we tried to raise them like I said, we became a Christian, so we tried to raise them as a Christian, going with them to Sunday school. And at this church that we still belong to now, they were the only Japanese. But you know my first son, John, was very loud and outgoing as he was small. And Paul was a real shy when he was small. And then they would always, because of his loud voice, for programs he would always be the emcee or have the main speaking part because he can talk. And then in grammar school it was the same way. They always, sixth grade or fifth grade was supposed to do, and he was still in the first, second grade, he got the part of introducing all these speakers in program because of his voice. So when I was going to give my testimony about camp, they would ask me to bring John for his solo part. And so he did all the singing for me.

AI: Oh now --

KM: So we were a program or team together. And we got into the paper, you know, different magazines. And then so one church would hear another for like youth rally or children's rally, they would feature him, and then have me talk to them.

AI: Well, now tell me how this got started, the testimony that you gave. The first time this happened. How did this come about?

KM: First time it happened, well we were talking, I was visiting somebody that was a Christian family. And then they asked me, "How did you become a Christian? How did you, what were you before," and so forth, and, "what happened?" And so I was telling them that through Jack's sickness, and being sent into camp, leaving everything, losing everything, just completely, was like a -- being naked, nothing. And then I was really torn and, after Jack got sick too, especially, I lost all my friends and I felt so alone and I felt like, "Gee, there must be a God that is fair," but I didn't know how to find Him and everything. And then, so they said, they invited me to church. And it was a gradual process. And through, like a missionaries and the, both combination together. And in fact I grew stronger and stronger through the church and the Christian people. And here again it was because I saw this through their lives. That they were interested enough, cared enough so that I could, I would know after I die. 'Cause I was afraid to die and get sick in case I die. 'Cause my father used to say that if you're bad here, you're gonna go to hell. And you'll get all burned up and this -- the oni thing is gonna, with a pitchfork, poke you around and so forth. I don't know why my dad ever said that, whether that's the teaching of the Buddhists or not. And I try to be good, but then you can't be perfect. But Christian says that if all your sins are forgiven, if you just believe Jesus, because He took our sins on the cross. And so that gave me a real peace in my heart.

AI: And so from time to time you and John would go to the different churches to speak about...

KM: Yeah. In fact for a while there when John was about three years old, every weekend we were in different churches, Shafter, Winton, all up and down the valley. And then they hear, somebody else would be there and they say, "Oh, we can get them." And then they say, "Give me your telephone number."

AI: Oh my.

KM: So we were really busy. And so I have a lot of clipping that was in the different paper. I made a baby book for John and he's got it all.

AI: Oh my.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

AI: Well, now then, the boys were growing up, getting older, and you and Jack had been together, almost twenty-five years, was it when you decided to take a trip to Japan.

KM: Yeah, on our anniversary.

AI: Could you tell me about that?

KM: Yeah. Well, because we didn't have any honeymoon or a regular wedding or anything, we kinda saved up our money. And then, but, you know raising two kids, giving them piano lesson, buying books -- it costs lot of money for, 'cause Jack had such a late start in life that he had to kinda gradually climb up. So I still did some sewing to supplement the income. And as we did different things, we said that well, we'll have to teach them and give them whatever we can. And we started from a regular teacher that only charged us a dollar a lesson, which we could afford. And it got to a point they were beyond the teacher. And said they wanted us to go to another special teacher that they would recommend, but she has to accept them to see what their talents were. And so they came to the recital, and then they said that they've got a potential. But then this was a $5 a lesson which we -- it was hard. We really squeaked on that. [Laughs]

AI: Oh my. So you really had to save carefully.

KM: Yeah, very carefully. So my two kids know how hard it is for us. And so whenever they, like if Paul was at school, UCLA, one time he came home for break. And then he saw a crystal candle, I mean, not crystal, salt and pepper shaker. And he says, "Mom, Dad," he says, "You got this crystal salt and pepper shaker, could you raise my allowance?" And I said, "This is a gift from our twenty-fifth anniversary." And I says, "We didn't buy this." And then I was telling him the other day, and he said, "I don't remember that." I said, "We remember and we know that you were noticing all we were using." [Laughs] "But oh, if we had extra, we'd surely give it to you." [Laughs] And he was laughing. He forgot about it.

AI: Well, so he went to UCLA. And then at that time, how did it happen that you ended up going to Japan then? You decided that you were going to do that since you hadn't done anything for your...

KM: Well, no, that's a story in itself, too. I got, I became sick, just before, about a year before the twenty-fifth anniversary. And the doctor just didn't know what was wrong with me. I had diarrhea and no medicine would stop it. And it was just constantly. I just got dehydrated and just lost a lotta weight. And then I couldn't even go to the bathroom on my own. Everything was stopped. And when I, so I was on a baby food, strained baby food for one year. And then they took my x-ray again and everything was healing. And so finally they diagnosed me as a ulcerative colitis, which I could have died with.

AI: Oh, that must have been scary.

KM: And so Jack thought that he was gonna lose me. So he, we started thinking about Japan, going to a trip on Japan because we always wanted to go to Japan. And so he borrowed money from the credit union and paid it by monthly in order to go. We didn't go to Japan because we were well-to-do, or we had the means. We had to borrow. And I couldn't see it, but he says, "No," he says, "After I saw that you were gonna almost be gone." He says, "That was the second time." The first time was the baby. And so he says, "I," he'll make arrangement. I said, "What are you gonna do?" He said, "I'm gonna borrow money. We won't feel it." And we didn't. And I'm glad I met all my aunts and uncles, because the second time we went, they were all gone.

AI: So, so this first trip to Japan, you did go to the Hiroshima area?

KM: Yeah, yeah.

AI: And met your relatives?

KM: Uh-huh. But I didn't get real close to them because, you know, we were on a tour and we didn't know how to extend it, or we didn't know enough, we didn't correspond enough that they would beg us to stay. [Laughs] I think they were just getting over the Hiroshima bomb, too. They were really hard up and they were just getting back on their feet when we went.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

AI: You were just about to tell about some of the things you found out about your family on your first trip to Japan...

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: ...and then you also took a second trip as well.

KM: On the first trip to Japan we met all my, mostly my side of the family. And then to this day we still correspond back and forth, and they send us a package. And I keep telling them, "Don't send any more packages because it costs more to mail it than the inside, because we buy everything on a bargain." But she say, "It's lotta fun to wait for a package, and see what's coming next. And so if you can still do it." Well while Jack was, my Jack was alive, he can carry those things. But now I can't carry 'cause I have back trouble. And so I wrote to her again, and she said, "Well we'll just keep on sending it anyway." And the reason she sends these packages is that, right after atom bomb, her, my cousin's first and only child was born. And then they didn't have any food. And so she remembered my mother and had the address. So she asked my mother to send a powdered milk so the baby could survive. And because of that obligation, she wanted to always return something to my mother. But my mother was never able to go to Japan. So when we went, they felt like I was representing my mother and they had a feast. I tell you, to this day I haven't, never had this kind of feast. Each individual had a kamaboko fan beautifully designed with shochikubai, you know for a happy occasion. And then they had a iseebi, it was a little red ebi with a long, and made with yokan, (jellied). And so I knew that I couldn't bring home the kamaboko because it would be spoiled on the trip. But I knew that yokan would last. And I wanted, so Jack and I had one each, so we were gonna bring it home for our two boys 'cause they love yokan. The way it was made -- it was about that thick and has a head and a long, just like a ebi. I think they call it iseebi, don't they?

AI And ebi means shrimp.

KM: They use when, New Year's, they put it on the table. And so I told my auntie, Jack's auntie to put it in the refrigerator for us. But as far as the kamaboko is concerned, she could give it to her grandchildren. But I said, "Please save this for my sons." And then after we did all the traveling and everything, were ready to pack up and go, and then I said, "Where is that ebi, obasan? And then she said, "Oh, I gave it to my grandchild." And I didn't know what to say. I said, "Now this is Jack's side." [Laughs] I said, "Something's happening again here." [Laughs] And I definitely instructed her to save this, but she could have the other. And so I was so disappointed that she was so greedy. And that was a complete surprise, 'cause when she used to visit America and she used to brag about how wealthy they were. Surely they could have afforded that. But I guess this was specially made for us, and she'd never seen it. And so she said she gave it to her grand... and here again I had to endure it and pretend that it was all right. And it wasn't all right. [Laughs]

AI: Oh dear, oh dear.

KM: And the second time that, trip, that we went to, was also, we centered mostly on Jack's side of the family. And 'course our uncle had his only daughter that was in school and got caught in that atom bomb. And she literally burned and then she -- they found her body in the river trying to get this all taken care of. And so for days later he said that every time he saw a girl about his daughter's age, he would just automatically follow her thinking that it could be his daughter even though he saw her dead. It just kinda haunted, 'cause he had three sons and she was the only girl. I guess she was just very dear to him. And that's, that's... and then on one other trips, the tour trip, we went to Hiroshima Castle. And I didn't know what was inside the castle, but my father-in-law, during the camp, when we were in camp, he would go around all the barracks and -- they didn't have anything to do so for conversational piece he asked each of the families if they were from the samurai clan. And then he came home and told me that out of all this block here there's only two people that was from samurai clan -- our family and another family. "So aren't you glad, aren't you privileged or aren't you honored that you married into a samurai clan?" And he always put that on me. To me, I didn't know what samurai clan was. I mean I cared less either. Well, on this last trip, after my father-in-law had passed away, we went to this Hiroshima Castle. And then my cousin says, "See, here's our name here." I said, "What name?" And she said, "Our samurai clan." And I said, "I didn't know we were samurai clan." And she said, "Well, didn't your mother tell you?" I said, "No." And so I says, "Well, my husband's side supposed to be a samurai clan. Now where's his name?" So she said, "What is it?" So I told 'em, "Asano clan." So she looked and she said, "Oh, he's way down here." And I said, "Oh, and ours is up there and his, there?" Here all these years I been put down that I was honored and privileged to [Laughs] get married into a samurai clan. And so when I came home from that trip I told my mother, "Mama, why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me? You knew that Matsuoka's dad was always telling me that you're very fortunate to be married into such a good family." And she said, "You know, when I was sent home embarrassed," and when she didn't have a baby -- "that's why I made up my mind that I was gonna never repeat anything of my (past), so that it wouldn't hinder anything." So she said that was the reason that -- she says, "What is a clan or something when you get disgraced?" And she said, "Who told you?" I said, so... well, 'course they all know in Japan. And so she said, "Well." I said, "You should have said something." I said, "Here I took all this -- " [Laughs] "All this time," I said, "I was just put down and made me feel so low in class, just because of that." But those are the two definite things that I remember the two trips.

AI: So you found out that you had...

KM: Yeah. Then, when I came home I didn't have nobody to talk to. But, you know, really, after you think you know, after MacArthur took place, they, all these, they call it koseki tohon, that's registration. All of them got where, samurai clans all crossed off. I brought most of mine home, ours -- it's all crossed off in black ink. MacArthur said, "Everybody's same, equal."

AI: That's interesting. And the koseki tohon is the...

KM: is the...

AI: ...registration...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...of the birth...

KM: Registration of the birth, uh-huh.

AI: ...of, for all the family members.

KM: Family background and so forth. [Laughs] So I, we learned a lot of things.

AI: Well, now speaking about, of your mother, your mother and father eventually left the central valley, and where did they resettle?

KM: Well my dad died, passed away in Del Rey in the central...

AI: Oh.

KM: ...'cause he had a heart attack. But my mother was still healthy. So when they had a opening for growing strawberry, which they originally started doing, they went to, what you call Capitola, right next to Santa Cruz. And then that's when they first got, saved enough to buy their own home after losing the one in L.A. long time ago.

AI: So your mother ended up living near the Santa Cruz area...

KM: Yeah.

AI: ...and farming strawberries again.

KM: Yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh.

AI: And then you mentioned earlier that she would come to visit later on...

KM: Yeah.

AI: the boys...?

KM: Well, in between crops she would come over to visit us. And she, that was her tanoshimi. She would always look forward to coming over. Yeah.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

AI: Well, I want to bring us up closer to the present and ask you about the time when some people were involved in the redress movement. Asking the U.S. government to review the wartime incarceration. And was wondering what you heard about that or what you thought about that effort?

KM: Well, like I said before, I really didn't expect it, to tell you the truth, after so many years back. When we first came out of camp with nothing, that's when we really could have used it. So I didn't depend upon it or I didn't even realize that, or I mean I didn't even think that it's gonna become a reality. And around that time then, my husband and I did a lot of traveling. We went to Europe and different places, and then the people that was in the tour, they would say, they all asked us, "What do you think about this redress?" And I said, "Well, we won't believe it 'til it really becomes a reality. I'm not even counting on it." "Oh?" And that was the really truth. I mean I just didn't count on it or...

AI: Why did you think that it wouldn't happen?

KM: Well, if it happened right after the camp, then it would be so fresh yet that we had lost so many things. But after we struggled and come back where, well, we weren't well off, but at least we were comfortable. And I just didn't think that it was, it just didn't come on time. [Laughs] 'Cause we had to start from -- used car, and everything had to be started all over again. And so we could have really appreciated it more I think, when it came, when we really needed it. And so when the time had elapsed so long, I really didn't think that all that effort wasn't gonna be, come to a fruition. I really didn't think so. But I was quite surprised. And so when they started to pass it on, everything, well, we said, "Well, if they're gonna give it to us, we'll just accept it." But what we did with our money was we donated it to tithed it, tenth of it to different missionary group. Because we felt so thankful that we got something that we didn't expect. Some people bought brand new car, some people bought new houses and so forth, with that, to make it count, but, that's what we did.

AI: Well, now that was about 1990 I think when the first payments started coming out. And so around that time there started to be some more publicity again about...

KM: Yeah, yeah.

AI: ...what had happened in the camps.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

AI: And then, was it some time in the '90s when you had an experience that you, you went to see an exhibit? Was it about Anne Frank?

KM: Oh, that?

AI And, you were, started to...

KM: Well, I don't know...

AI: Can you tell me a little bit about what happened?

KM: Well, see, during the camp, when we were in camp, everything was focused on ourselves and being in camp. I didn't know that other people in other parts of the world was going through, like a holocaust or like Anne Frank. And then, so when they had this Anne Frank's diary, I was very interested in what happened to other people and how they were treated. And not knowing that the day that we went, the reason we went was, they said that day was free. [Laughs] And so we went and it was a children's school day, so there were a lot of buses in front.

AI: At the museum?

KM: At the museum. And then as we went around and, then another, second thing that interested us was that the artist was from the Gila camp. His name was, Japanese name now, popular name, now I forgot that name, that name escape me. So I was looking at it and then this man, he was a docent, and he says, "Had you had an experience in camp?" I said, "Yes, I'm from this same camp." And then he says, "Well, would, do you mind saying something to the children if I put them in a circle?" Well I said, "Well I hadn't, I'm not prepared or anything, but I'll just tell them what I think." He said, "You know, it doesn't have to be long, just tell them what your thoughts were about going into camp." And so he gathered this one group of certain school, there were several school represented there, and I sat and I told them. And I just finished and another bunch came and sat down and they didn't get to hear it. So they left, and they, and I had to tell another one. And just kept on doing that, and finally I said, "You know, I really have to go home." [Laughs] In meantime, my husband was in the bathroom. And he said, "I'll meet you over here by..." Where we were looking at -- Ogata, his name was Ogata, the artist. And I was looking at it, and then he says, "Gee," he heard my voice. And he said, "What is she doing with all the children around?" And he finally saw me in the middle, and so he just sat down. And later he says, "What in the world were you doing?" So I said, "I was looking at this and this man came over and asked me to talk, and so that's what I was doing." [Laughs] So he kinda had a chuckle over that. But there were several teachers that came too late and they couldn't hear any of it. So they told me if I would come to their school on a certain day. That's how I got started in elementary school. And then in response the students, the pupils wrote a book of what they thought of my talk. And each in their own way, and picture of me, and picture of a scorpion. [Laughs] And then they sent it to me with my picture taken in front of the kids. They were really impressed.

AI: Wow. What were some of the kids' reactions?

KM: Well they felt, they felt very, very sorry. And then, that we had gone through the inconvenience. They hoped that, and they mentioned that war is terrible and that they hoped that this never will happen again. And it's all real nice, loving thoughts.

AI: Do you think any of these kids had ever heard about the camps?

KM: Uh, I don't know whether they heard about the camp. I don't know about that. It didn't seem like it. But when I, I took them my duffel bag and showed them, and then I showed them the family number -- we didn't go by names, but we went by our family number. And then we put whatever we can go, and that's what we lived on for three and a half years. And they said, "Oh, when we go on a trip we take a great big suitcase," and so forth. So they compared and they realized.

AI: Well, and so then with this beginning it sounds like you received more and more requests to come to other classes.

KM: Well, no. When the Anne Frank exhibit was closed, well then that was the end of me too. 'Cause see the subject, the interest was kinda, it was shifted to other.

AI: Right. But during that time period when you went to the classes, can you recall what some of the questions were that the kids asked you?

KM: Yeah, well, let's see. What did they ask me? They asked me, "Did they have a movies there?" Or what kind of food we had, and what kind of bed we had. You know, personal, living things. And so I told them the best we could.

AI: Well, and you had mentioned a little bit earlier, too, that then your grandchildren became interested in knowing what happened.

KM: Well, I still think they got it from the school. They got a subject to choose from and then, 'course being grandparents, they thought that we may know the background more. But, you know, they didn't, I couldn't get too far. They could get my father and my mother, and then their father and mother, that's as far as we got. But so they wanted to know a lot of traditions and customs. And so I told them lot about New Year's celebration and different holidays. And they were, so I wrote it all out. From that they took what interest them, and made report on that. And they gave me a copy, which I was very proud of. [Laughs]

AI: Well, so many things have happened that you've told us about. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention? Anything else that you recalled, or anything else that you'd like to say?

KM: Well, probably after I get home I'll have, think of lotta things, but I think I've covered most of the things.

AI: Well, thank you very much for your time and for sharing all your memories and experiences.

KM: Thank you.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

[Kay sings a Japanese New Year's song]:

Toshi no hajime no
Medetasa wa
Owari naki yo no
Kesa no sora
Matsu take tatete
Kado go to ni
I wau kyo ko so
Medete sa yo

KM: Now which means, "this is the first day of the year and how happy, medetai, how happy we are." And then, "it just seems like the world has no ending this beautiful New Year's morning. So we put our matsu and take, pine and bamboo in front of our entrance for longevity of happiness. And so we all celebrate together, how happy and medetai it is today." That's what it means.

AI: Thank you.

KM: Now this is a song that we always sang after all the class was ended. And then as we sang, we all held our hands. And then when we said "sayonara," we would all bow our heads. That I can't do here, so...[Laughs]

[Kay sings a Japanese song]

Tanoshiku kyo mo sumimashita
Yasashii mioya ni mamorarete
Tanoshii o uchi e kaeri masho

Sayonara minasan gokigen yo

Sayonara sensei o daiji ni

Tanoshii kondo no tsudoi made

KM: You can understand that one.

AI: Very little.

KM: Oh really? Well, "everything, came to an end with lots of memories and happiness." And then, "we were all protected by mioya which is mihotokesama. And now we're gonna go to our happy home together." So we say, "Sayonara, mina-san," all the pupils and friends. And then, "Sayonara (teacher), take care of yourself, until we meet again."

AI: Thank you.

KM: We were really, instilled so much custom and everything through songs and actions. I really, some of the songs I really remember. And then especially the little operetta things that you performed. I still remember everything.

AI: It really stuck with you.

KM: And then one time, you know one lady, girl that was a little older than me, she had the lead part in ningyo gokko. Pretending she had a doll that was a baby, and then somebody else was acting as the doctor and the baby got sick. Well, at the last minute, day before the program was to be, she didn't want to do it. She just didn't want to do it. She was about twelve or thirteen, at that age, they didn't... and then the teacher asked me, she says, "Do you remember all the verses," and all what you could say? And then she said, "Do it." And so I remembered everything from the start to (end). So I performed it the next day.

AI: Oh my.

KM: And it just came, Japanese came very easy to me. So teacher, at the program, he says, "We're so proud to have a special student that can take over in case of emergency." [Laughs] But that wasn't very nice to say, because the poor girl was embarrassed. [Laughs]

AI: Well, thanks so much for doing this for us.

KM: Well, I enjoyed myself. I just hope that everything comes out.

AI: I think it will. Thank you very much.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.