Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yone Bartholomew Interview II
Narrator: Yone Bartholomew
Interviewer: Tracy Lai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 8, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-byone-02-0038

<Begin Segment 38>

TL: On a different topic, in 1981 there was a commission that came actually to Seattle Central Community College to the Broadway Performance Hall, and they had the hearings where they invited people to talk about the internment. And I was wondering, do you remember when that happened, and what you thought about that whole process?

YB: I don't think we had -- 19... what was that?

TL: That would be 1981.

YB: Oh, Clarence wasn't here. Gone.

TL: Right, he had passed on, yeah.

YB: Personally, I don't think it's good to repeat over. I read a -- oh, I wished I had kept that paper. There was an article of one person that was about to relate of his experience that happened over at Port -- no, what is it across the Sound? Is it Port Townsend?

TL: Bainbridge Island?

YB: Bainbridge Island? Where the Japanese were evacuated?

TL: Right.

YB: And what took place. And then, below it were two letters from women. I forgot who they were or what they represented, but written in a very nice way, and they're true, "What about the ones in Japan, when our people, the Americans, were there interned and suffered and were mistreated." We don't bring it up all the time, in other words. And why repeatedly bring the same thing up over and over again. And I believe that they're saying the right thing. Why repeat it when it's all over? It's all behind. And the Americans aren't constantly repeating it over and over again. Or, I mean, we're not saying, we weren't mistreated here, we were treated well. They might have said something about it, but I don't see anything that we were mistreated in camp. We were lucky to have a safe place to stay in. And free to come and go when we had pass, passes to go in and out of.

And sometimes I was frightened because those who were against Clarence, because he belonged to the U.S. Army and was a member of it. And I was always in fear of that because there's always someone that can go berserk or say bad things. But we made it out okay. But he was in there representing them as a lawyer. And so he was overworked, and that's why he came down with the shingles. There was no one else in there that could help him. He had the American staff, but they couldn't speak Japanese, so he was the only one that had to do it. And it was a huge place.

TL: I think with the commission, the interest there was to have a better public understanding of what happened during that period. And eventually there was legislation, around 1988, where the government made kind a formal statement and apology and later on issued checks, reparations, redress checks to...

YB: Evacuation claim checks.

TL: Right, right. So, did you... how did you feel about that at that point?

YB: Well, I felt very grateful. I thought, "What other country does this for them?" And if people are complaining they didn't get enough, well, they're lucky they even got that. And I think there are still, though, Japanese among us that are very grateful. There are always two sides to the whole set up, and I don't care where you go, whether it's here or in another country, I think you're going to find two groups of people. One for, and one against, no matter what comes up. It goes on and on. But I don't think that we could have been as fortunate as we were if we were in another country. This wouldn't have happened. So I feel very grateful. But they will not pay you, and I think another thing that I don't think it's fair of them to expect it, is those who were evacuated and died and they tried to collect on that. But I don't think that's fair, because what's done is done; they're gone. And they're helping the ones that are living, that have to carry on. So there was some complaint on that, too. Like our little boy that died, they might have thought that at least they could, but it's not gonna' bring him back, and he's not gonna' be here to spend it. And if we get what they give us, that's covering that person, so I should think that would be enough. And more than enough because, lots of times you don't even get that. And another thing that was nice was they gave you the $20,000, and you didn't have to pay tax on it as an income tax.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.