Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Takae Tanino Walts Interview
Narrator: Takae Tanino Walts
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Yasui (secondary)
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 21, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-508

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is April 21, 2022. We're at the Lakeshore retirement community. Helping the interview is Barb Yasui, on camera is Dana Hoshide, and then I'm Tom Ikeda doing the interview. And so the first question I have for you, Tak, is when and where were you born?

TW: I was born in Bellevue, Washington, on a farm.

TI: And what was the date of your birth?

TW: August 4th. Do I have to give the year?

TI: [Laughs] You don't have to, but I have it written down.

TW: 1930. [Laughs]

TI: So that you make you...

TW: Do your math.

TI: Ninety-one? Ninety-two.

TW: Ninety-one. Ninety-two this year.

TI: Ninety-two this year. Wow, you look fabulous.

TW: Thank you.

TI: And what was the full name given to you at birth?

TW: Takae Tanino.

TI: And growing up, did you have any nicknames?

TW: I went by Tak mostly, "Takae" was sort of hard for some people, especially if you're not Nihonjin. So I went by Tak.

TI: And how about your family? What did they call you?

TW: Tak.

TI: Tak? Okay. Okay, so for this interview, is it okay if I call you Tak?

TW: That's fine, that's what I'm used to.

TI: Good. So let's talk about your, first your father's family. Tell me first, what was your father's name and where was he born?

TW: Mitsumasa Tanino, and he was born in Okayama, Japan.

TI: Do you know anything about his family in Japan? Like what they did in Okayama?

TW: Well, I know my dad was an only child, and I think what he was familiar with was farming. And my mother was from Okayama, and she had three sisters. And when I was flying for Pan American I went to visit them.

TI: Yeah, before we go there -- we'll get to that, so I just want to make sure. So you just talked about your mother, what was your mother's name?

TW: Shizue.

TI: And her maiden name?

TW: Ono.

TI: Ono, okay. So she also was from Okayama?

TW: Yes, she was a nurse in Japan before coming to the U.S.

TI: Well, since we're talking about both of them, how did your mother and father meet?

TW: You know, I have no idea.

TI: And do you know if they met in Japan?

TW: Oh, in Japan, yes.

TI: And did you ever have a sense, was it like an arranged marriage or anything?

TW: I don't know.

TI: Do you have a sense, you were talking a little bit about visiting, how close the families lived to each other? The Japanese families like your dad's side and your mom's side?

TW: Well, they were in the same city. But other than that, I don't recall how they met.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let's talk about how did your father come to America?

TW: Well, he came around, like, 1915, the both of them together. And then my dad's father, which would be my grandfather Waichiro, came up from Mexico through, into Arizona. And I never really understood that, why he came up that way and by himself, especially when he couldn't speak English. My mother was good at English, but then she was not with him when he came up, but sort of a mystery to me.

TI: Yeah, it's kind of interesting. So it was your grandfather on your father's side. So your dad's father actually came to the United States through Mexico. So from Japan to Mexico...

TW: And to Arizona.

TI: Any stories about Mexico? Did he stay there very long?

TW: I don't know.

TI: And this was before your father and mother came to the United States? Your grandfather came first?

TW: No, he came after.

TI: Oh, interesting. But he didn't come through... okay.

TW: Yeah, he didn't come through the usual way.

TI: Okay. So your father and mother came to the United States, you said, around 1950?

TW: I would say.

TI: Yeah, I looked at the records, and they have your father... interesting. The records, when I looked at the records from the war years, they had your father coming in 1915. But for whatever reason, they had your mother coming in 1913 if that would make any sense. I'm not sure why, maybe the records are different.

TW: I don't recall that.

TI: And they had your grandmother Matsu arriving in 1912. So it was all these different years in the records. They may be wrong, but I just wanted to share that with you.

TW: I don't think Grandma could have traveled, Mom spoke English.

TI: Anyway, those were some of the records. So going back, your mother and father were married in Japan.

TW: Yes.

TI: And then they came to the United States in 1915. And where in the United States did they...

TW: They first arrived in Seattle, and I remember they stayed... I have a picture of them back home, a home in Seattle. And after that they moved to Bellevue, but I don't know how long they stayed in Seattle.

TI: And when you think about Seattle and Bellevue, were there any family or village or friend connection that brought them to Seattle or Bellevue? Do you recall any stories of your parents saying, "Oh, so and so was from the same village," or things like that?

TW: In Bellevue, most of the people were from Okayama-ken or Hiroshima-ken. I don't know that they knew them before. They were definitely friends after arriving, but I don't know that they knew them. There were not necessarily contacts for them to come to the U.S.

TI: Okay, that's always interesting. I always like to ask that question, because it's kind of what you just said. Oftentimes, in these farming communities, they oftentimes came from the same ken, and I always ask that question to see...

TW: I don't think they knew them before.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So you're in Bellevue, and going back to you, you were born in 1930. Let's talk about your siblings.

TW: Okay.

TI: So starting from the oldest and going through the family, tell me their names and about how much older they were than you?

TW: Okay. Rye Tanino was my oldest brother, and I guess he was five years older than I was.

TI: So born 1925.

TW: And then my brother Kats, that was here, he's a couple of years older. Then it was me, and then my sister Tsukiyo, and then my younger brother Tom.

TI: Okay. So I have Rye, or Ryomi, born 1925, Katsumi, born 1928, you were born 1930, Tsukiyo 1933 or about three years younger, and then Tom or Matami, 1936, which would be about six years younger.

TW: And they're all gone now.

TI: So five kids.

<End Segment 3 - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Do you know any stories about your family when you first started farming in Bellevue, how they first got started? Was he able to get land or did they work for someone?

TW: Well, it's a mystery to me that they were able to have a 20-acre farm in Bellevue. I never, in fact, before my brother passed, I wanted to get some answers. And I said, "Do you know how Mom and Dad got this 20 acres? He said he had no idea, but that's what they had. It was a lovely farm, it had a river flowing through it, it was really nice.

TI: What river would be flowing through, do you remember? Was it like a stream or a river?

TW: Yeah, a stream, I should call it, it was a stream. We used to go down and catch salmon there.

TI: Oh, so you actually had salmon in that stream?

TW: My brother used to use pitchforks.

TI: Probably not a legal way of catching salmon these days. [Laughs]

TW: Well, they won't come after him. He'd get a pitchfork and my brother would throw 'em up on the bank my sister and I would get gunny sacks and put 'em in. And then we'd dry it like the Indians used to do and have it.

TI: Wow, so he would catch quite a few?

TW: Oh, yeah. And then the rest of it went to fertilizer.

TI: That's a good story. And was this, the stream went on your land?

TW: Yes.

TI: So you just went down there with a pitchfork?

TW: Yeah.

TI: Any other fond memories? Let's go back to the farmhouse. You said it was twenty acres, talk about the farmhouse.

TW: Okay, there was a main house. It was a big barn, there was a bathhouse, it was heated outside with wood fire. And alongside there was a sake house that my grandma made sake for grandpa. And then there was a greenhouse, and then there was another house that was for workers that came to work during the summer. Oh, and there was a big silo there, and I remember we had a black horse called Ichi. And Dad tied the silo to Ichi, and they knocked the silo down, and then it became a great, huge pond and we put goldfish in it.

TI: And did your dad do that intentionally? He had the horse pull the silo?

TW: Oh yes, he wanted the silo gone because it had no purpose anymore.

TI: And before, it held maybe water or something?

TW: I don't know, but it was empty.

TI: Oh, that's a good story. So it seems like it was memorable when your dad did that.

TW: Oh, yes, big excitement.

TI: And going back, it's curious. I haven't heard too many stories about sake houses. If you walked in there, what would be...

TW: Well, there'd be a big barrel there, and then a long pole and a weight. I don't know how that weight... but anyhow, that's how it fermented. And then Grandma would gather it up, bottle it up. You want some, Tom?

TI: Yeah, I'm curious. [Laughs] I'm a chemical engineer, so I always wondered, "How did they make these kind of things?" And so big barrel, fermented...

TW: They knew a lot of things that we no longer know.

TI: Well, they say they would brew it or something. Is it a brewery, sake brewery? So I'm trying to figure out they would do that. And so she would make this sake for whom? Who would drink it?

TW: For Grandpa. Grandpa drank a lot.

TI: [Laughs] Now, did she share it or he share it with other...

TW: Oh, friends.

TI: Other friends.

TW: Yeah, we'd have friends.

TI: And so do you recall that, that people would come over and drink Grandma's sake?

TW: (Yes).

TI: And what would they say about her sake? Was it pretty good?

TW: I don't know. [Laughs] I didn't get a taste.

TI: Now, when they would drink sake, when your dad or mom's friends came over, where would they drink?

TW: They'd be in the kitchen sitting, we had a four-by-six table in the kitchen because the family would sit there and his friends would come there and drink with them.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: And how big was the kitchen?

TW: It wasn't very large, barely fit this table. And then there was a wood stove next to it, a sink. It was not a large place.

TI: Now, you said sink, so did you have running water into the house?

TW: Yes.

TI: Okay, so that's the kitchen, big kitchen table, so I'm getting a picture of it. Tell me about the bedrooms, how many bedrooms were there?

TW: There were two downstairs, and then there was an upstairs that had three bedrooms.

TI: Oh, so a total of five bedrooms?

TW: Yes.

TI: And so there were seven of you. So I'm guessing your mother and father were in one room?

TW: Well, it's really... in one bedroom on the lower floor was my mom and dad, and Kats slept there. And the other bedroom, I slept with Grandma and I think my -- no, my sister slept with Grandma because there were two double beds and I slept with Grandpa. And then Rye, being the oldest, had the privilege of having a bedroom near the kitchen all by himself.

TI: Okay.

TW: Funny arrangement, huh?

TI: And then Tom, where did he sleep? He was like the baby.

TW: Where was he? Oh, I guess Tom, yeah, Tom and Kats slept together, and then Rye had a bedroom of his own.

TI: You mentioned your grandfather. So was this Waichiro?

TW: Yeah, he was Waichiro.

TI: And I noticed, when I looked through the records, he didn't go to camp during World War II. So what happened to...

TW: He had died just prior to camp.

TI: Okay. So tell me about that. How did he die?

TW: You know, I really don't know. I just know he was gone before we went to camp.

TI: And do you remember the memorial service for him, or what kind of service?

TW: I don't.

TI: So let's go back to the house. So you talked about five bedrooms, there's upstairs, three bedrooms, two downstairs, you have a kitchen. What else did you have in the house? Like a bathroom? How many bathrooms were there?

TW: There was one downstairs and one upstairs. What else was there? There was a pantry. We had a big living room and a large porch off the living room.

TI: Describe the living room. When you say a large living room, what was in there? Were there couches and chairs?

TW: Yes. And, like, when we 'd have a gathering of the Japanese people, you can put about, I think about three large tables in there and accommodate friends for a party. And then the sun porch was really nice, right out of the living room that looked out to the yard.

TI: And in terms of the floors, were they carpeted or rugs?

TW: I think it was wood, as well as the porch being wood. Then they had a big stove in there, like a potbelly stove to head the place.

TI: When you think of other Japanese families in Bellevue during that time, how would you compare your house to the houses of your, like, Japanese neighbors?

TW: You know, I couldn't say. I don't recall visiting many, visiting other Japanese families in their home. We had a community, the Buddhist church community house in the Buddhist church, and we would meet there. But I don't recall going into their homes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: And so the location of your farm, I forgot to ask that. Where was the farm located in Bellevue?

TW: It's now 140th NE but it was called Route 2 at the time we were there.

TI: And on 140th, what were some of the cross streets?

TW: Well, now I think it's, is it 116th?

TI: Okay.

TW: Or something like that.

TI: So 140th.

BY: So outside of the downtown area, then it sounds like it was east of the downtown area.

TW: Yes.

TI: And the family, to get around, like to go to the Buddhist church or the community center, how did the family get around?

TW: Well, we had a car and my mom was the driver, so she would drive us into Buddhist church for our Japanese lessons on Saturday. And it was a weird looking car, it's like a van with the back door open. It didn't have a door. And I was sitting there in the back, and I fell off, and I still have a scar under my chin from it. [Laughs] But Mom was the one that drove, and that's how we got around.

TI: Do you remember what kind of car it was?

TW: I have no idea. I know it was black.

TI: And then the back, you said, just kind of opened up?

TW: Yeah, there was no door there. The door was gone.

TI: And so it was just wide open.

TW: But it was like benches alongside the van, and that's where we sat.

TI: And what other vehicles were at the farm? Did you have, like, a tractor and trucks and things like that?

TW: No, we just had Ichi, the black horse.


TI: So where would the people who slept upstairs, where would they sleep then?

TW: We had three bedrooms upstairs.

TI: Okay. But then I thought during the year, the winter, didn't your other siblings sleep upstairs or were they empty, the bedrooms?

TW: There wasn't anybody up there except for them when they were here, or they were there to work.

TI: And when you say Japanese workers, are these, like, workers from Seattle during the summer?

TW: Yes, in the summertime.

TI: And these were mostly Niseis?

TW: Niseis.

TI: The reason I'm asking, I think my dad used to do that from Seattle. He lived in Seattle and then he talked about, in the summer, going to Bellevue and working on a farm.

TW: Oh, is that right?

TI: He said he wasn't a very good worker so they didn't keep him, but he talked about taking the ferry across and staying there. They would get paid kind of piecemeal based on how much work they would get paid if they paid more or whatever?

TW: I don't have any idea what they got paid.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Well, so 20 acres, your farm. What type of crops did your farm raise?

TW: They had tomatoes and peas, and beans, and they tried rhubarb down below, and it just didn't work, didn't survive. And then they had a big greenhouse, bring the tomatoes in when they're still green and ripe, and then they had a workhouse next door where my brothers put the boxes together for the tomatoes and pack 'em in there and take them down to the collection place in downtown Bellevue.

TI: Okay, so describe that collection place. So after they would raise these crops, I was going to ask, so where did the crops go?

TW: Yeah, there was a place, well, all the Japanese brought their products down there, produce down there. And I'm trying to remember, do you know where Phantom Lake, have you ever heard of... well, it was right near Phantom Lake. I guess Phantom Lake still exists, doesn't it?

TI: I'm trying to remember this, I know I did an interview earlier. So it was kind of like a collective of some type that the farmers all kind of got organized? And they would bring it here and then that was kind of like a, they would then distribute it to the Seattle market or wherever. Now, do you know if your father was active in terms of the Japanese community in terms of things like the collective or the Buddhist church, all the different things in Bellevue?

TW: No, I don't recall that at all. If they were, I don't.

TI: How about your mother? You mentioned earlier that she was the driver of the family, and you talked about this van. That's a little unusual.

TW: Well, it was, she was unusual in that way and being able to speak English, too. So she did all the business.

BY: How did she learn English so well?

TW: I don't know, except that she was a nurse in Japan, but I don't think she was taught English, but I think she was a fast learner.

TI: And was she involved in any community activities? She could drive, she spoke English. Did she get involved in any community?

TW: They must have been, but I don't recall. I don't recall. Because they would have gatherings every year and things, and they were always present for that. I don't know how much she was involved.

TI: Now, do you recall your mom ever having friends over, like women friends over to the house where she'd have, like, a lunch or something like that?

TW: I don't recall that, my mother doing just that, but we did have friends that did come over. But the Muromotos and the Mizukawas that lived close to us in Highland at that time. But other than that, I don't recall women getting together.

TI: How about your family's interactions with non-Japanese? Did they ever associate or do things with the white population?

TW: Well, we had a German farmer, dairy farmer across the road from us, but I don't think Mom and Dad had anything to do with them, though the kids, their daughter and us, we would play together. But other than that, then I had friends, Loretta Hill about a mile away, and Joy Armstrong that was up another mile away. And those were my friends.

TI: Okay. And do you ever recall community members ever talking about people like the, some of the business leaders in Bellevue? Like oftentimes I read about one of, he's known as one of the founders of modern day Bellevue, Miller Freeman, the Freeman family?

TW: (No).

TI: Did you ever come across that family?

TW: No, I don't think any of us knew at that time of the Freemans.

TI: Okay. I was just curious because historically, they were very prominent Bellevue families and they helped get the floating bridge put in across the lake. I was just curious what kind of interaction you had with maybe some of the Japanese families?

TW: I have no idea.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So let's go back. Earlier you were talking, it was that delightful story of your older brother with a pitchfork, salmon fishing. What are some other memories of growing up in Bellevue?

TW: Living in Bellevue?

TI: Yeah, yeah, as a kid.

TW: Well, I think I told you the story about trying to hit the ball over the red barn?

TI: So go ahead and tell me the full story.

TW: Kats was standing next to me and I hit him on the back of the head. He had a big swelling in the in the back. It's a wonder he... and then we had the wood, about the wood stove, and Grandma would say, "Go get some wood from the barn." And okay, we'd go to the barn to get the wood, and I'm the one pushing the wheelbarrow and my brother's standing behind me telling me, "Okay, get going."

TI: So how would you characterize your relationship with your brothers? I mean, it sounds playful, or was he actually making you do all the work and he was watching?

TW: Well, you know, it's strange because of the war. Okay, I was eleven, and then when we came out of the war, I guess I was thirteen. And I went on my own, went to live and work as a...

TI: Schoolgirl?

TW: Schoolgirl, as many Japanese my age did. And my brother also did that. So there was a period there when we each went our own way.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TW: And, of course, in 1941, my brother had already got on to Colman State College, and he was a freshman there. And from there he volunteered. His freshman year, he volunteered for the "Go For Broke" 442nd group.

TI: So this is Rye we're talking about?

TW: This is Rye. And he graduated valedictorian of Bellevue High School. And it was really strange because he never told anybody anything. And then they said, "Now the valedictorian will speak," and it was Rye. [Laughs] He didn't tell Mom or Dad or anything.

TI: And so this was before the war.

TW: This was 1941.

TI: And so he was, he was pretty young. So if he was born in 1925...

TW: He was eighteen in '41, I would say. Does that figure?

TI: No, he's like sixteen or seventeen.

TW: He might have been seventeen.

TI: Yeah, maybe he skipped a grade because he was really smart or something.

TW: I don't know.

TI: And he was valedictorian. And then you say from there he went to Washington State?

TW: Yes.

TI: And why Washington State and not the University of Washington? I'm curious.

TW: I think maybe because they had agricultural classes.

TI: Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, they have a really strong agricultural...

TW: Yes.

TI: And staying with Rye a little bit, so when the war started, he was in Eastern Washington, so outside the exclusion zone. And so what happened to him after the war started? Did he just stay at WSU?

TW: No. On his freshman year he volunteered like a lot of Nisei boys that age did, the 442nd group. And then when he got out, he went back and finished his college as an architectural engineer.

TI: Okay. Then meanwhile, the rest of the family...

TW: Went to camp.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: But before we go there, I still... there's just so many stories about Bellevue that you have that I want to keep talking about this. You also mentioned you had a big furo also, and I'm just curious, like, what the routine was? Like how frequently you and the rest of the family took a bath, and was there, like a sequence in terms of who went first and second? Like who made the fire, who heated the water, can you just describe all that?

TW: Yeah, Grandpa made the fire, and he got the, it was a huge tub, this square. So the whole family can get in. There were stairs that led up to it, and there was no rail on the side, but there was a great big fall if you were to fall down. And then we all soaked in the tub at the same time.

TI: Wow, so it was like a big hot tub then?

TW: Yeah, well, exactly. That's what it would be called now.

TI: So that's different than the more traditional furo where they're smaller.

TW: No, it was for the family.

TI: And generally what time of day would the family...

TW: Eveningtime.

TI: So this is after dinner, everything gets put away and then you would go soak in the tub?

TW: (Yes).

TI: Any fond memories of soaking in the tub, I mean, what types of things... because you were still a kid and you're with the grandfather, the parents, I mean, what types of things would happen? People would just sit there, or would you guys talk?

TW: I think mostly we sat there. I don't recall any important conversations.

TI: [Laughs] Yeah, this is just unusual, because I usually don't hear of the whole family taking the bath. Usually it's a smaller tub and there's like, maybe the kids go first.

TW: No, the whole family can get into this tub.

TI: And I'm guessing, before people got in the tub, there was an area to wash?

TW: Yeah, like they do in Japan.

TI: Yeah, so this is almost like a public bath size in terms of, I'm thinking of, in Seattle, I've seen some of the bathhouses and that's more like a hot tub.

TW: (Yes).

TI: Now, did any neighbors or anything ever come and use the hot tub?

TW: Never.

TI: Okay, it was strictly family.

TW: I think they had their own.

TI: And what about chores? I know you were pretty young, you were still, like you mentioned, ten or eleven when the war started off. But before the war, did you have any chores that you were responsible for?

TW: Well, I was responsible for taking food to the (Filipino) people we hired, because they lived in a (Filipino) house away from the family house. So Mom would cook the dinners, the meals, and I'd take it to them. But then one day, one guy got fresh and I just told Mom, "I ain't going there anymore," and I never had to. But I do remember that.

TI: Oh, that must have been hard. Can you tell me a little bit more about what happened? So you were... and what kind of food were you bringing and what happened?

TW: Well, I think we didn't cook that much Japanese food, it was just American food. And whatever we had, we shared it with them, the workers. And then we also had, like I say, the Seattle boys come, but they stayed in the main house upstairs.

TI: When you told your mother that you didn't feel comfortable going back there, what was her reaction?

TW: Well, I just said I wasn't going back there, and that was the end of it.

TI: And so she didn't make you go back after that?

TW: No, no, she never questioned. I'm sure she knew what had happened, I think, because she never made me do it again.

TI: And was it, sort of, just an inappropriate touch?

TW: Yeah, that kind of thing.

TI: Okay. Describe the building that the workers lived in. You said it was sort of a house for the workers. Is it like a bunkhouse?

TW: Oh, it was quite large, if I remember. But I don't think, I think it just had sleeping areas and not cooking facilities or anything like that. So I think there were like four of them that could sleep in there.

TI: So like just maybe a big room with, like, four beds?

TW: Four beds, bunkbeds.

TI: And how about your older brothers? I mean, did they have to help out on the farm?

TW: Oh, they definitely did.

TI: Describe that. What did Rye and Tatsumi...

TW: Oh, they had a lot of work to do. Well, they had they truck to bring the food in and things, so I think Tats was like fifteen, underage for driving, but he was able to drive the truck and bring the produce into the barn. But they worked hard being boys out on the farm.

TI: And then how about your younger sister? Did she have to do anything?

TW: No.

TI: Yeah, Tom was really young, so he was a kid. There was something else talking about the house. The farm had, it was actually bought in the name of a man named Kumagai, I think you mentioned? Who was this man?

TW: He was a person that Mom and Dad knew that was old enough and was a citizen. You know, the Isseis, not being citizens, couldn't own property. And Rye wasn't old enough yet, so that's how we put it in Kumagai's name. And then Kumagai went back to Japan right before the war, and didn't get back until after the war.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: And so we'll talk about the house during the war and what happened to it. But before we go on, Barb, do you have any other questions?

BY: I'm really curious about school. So what school did you go to, did you have, was it, like, all Japanese or it was a mix of Japanese and white kids? Just talk about school.

TW: I went to Highland grade school, which was in Redmond, California, and we can walk there, you could walk on the street or through the woods and get home. And then, of course, that's all I did was go to Highland school before camp. And then like I said, my brother was going to the Bellevue High School.

BY: But so what was Highland school like? How many grades was it, how many kids were in your class and who were the kids?

TW: Well, there were grades one through six, it was primary. And I don't remember any other Japanese being there. But like I said, I had my friends Joy and Loretta. I don't remember how large it was. I remember our principal's name was Mr. Stevenson and the recess was over I was still doing cartwheels. And I was very embarrassed because he saw me doing cartwheels. [Laughs] That's about all.

BY: Do you remember any of your teachers in particular?

TW: No, I don't.

BY: I'm assuming they were all white?

TW: Oh, yes, very definitely all white.

BY: And how did... did you feel well accepted and a part of the school being the only Japanese family there?

TW: We didn't feel, I had no feelings about discrimination. Like I said, my good friends were right up the road and I didn't feel discrimination. Of course, and then every Saturday we would go to the Buddhist church in Seattle for our Japanese school.

BY: In Seattle or Bellevue?

TW: Oh, excuse me, in Bellevue.

BY: So then that's when you would see other Japanese American children?

TW: Yes. It was where Nordstrom is now. That's where the Japanese school and the Japanese community center was.

TI: And so that's, for people listening, so that's, Nordstrom's in Bellevue square.

TW: The most expensive, I have to believe, department building.

TI: And so Japanese language school, did all your siblings also attend on Saturday, or your other siblings?

TW: Yes, we all attended.

TI: And just describe what Japanese school was like for you? What was it like?

TW: Well, I think there was three in my class, but then all the grades were in one room. I think we had a teacher from Seattle come and teach us.

TI: And by any chance, do you remember any of the names of the teachers?

TW: No, I don't recall.

TI: So I want to -- before we go to the war, you mentioned how your grandfather had passed away right before the war. But in the pre-interview you mentioned, I think that you made a comment that you were like a grandmother kid. And so it sounds like your grandmother and you were pretty close?

TW: Well, that was after... my mother died in '43 or '2 in camp.

TI: Okay, so this is after the war that you and your grandmother...

TW: Yes.

TI: Okay, okay. And then so before the war, you weren't as close. It was really after the war that you and your grandmother got closer?

TW: I think we were always close because Grandma and Grandpa were right there with us. So I was always close to Grandma, she did a lot of cooking, because Mom did a lot of work on the farm.

TI: And just to make sure I'm clear about this, so your grandmother and grandfather that were living with you in Bellevue before the war, that was your father's...

TW: Mom and dad.

TI: Mom and dad, okay.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So let's go to December 7, 1941. Do you remember when you heard about the Japan attack at Pearl Harbor?

TW: I think I do vaguely. I think Mom was out in the strawberry patch. It's December, but that's the way I remembered it. And being told Japan had bombed the U.S., and that's the only thing I remember about it. Of course, things happened after that.

TI: And was there any talk about... because Rye was at Washington State, do you remember any conversation about Rye and what's going to happen to him or should they bring him back to Bellevue?

TW: No, there was no question that he just stayed there. But I remember they were confiscating guns or anything that could cause problems. But I remember Dad had a gun and he went and buried it out in the field. That's all I remember about it.

TI: Do you remember if he buried anything else besides the gun?

TW: I just remember the gun. I don't think he had swords or anything like that, just the handgun.

TI: Did anyone ever visit the farm to look at, like the police or any authorities come?

TW: I think they did come by, but there was nothing taken. We weren't threatened in any way.

TI: Now, I'm curious because you mentioned your mother able to speak English. So for many Japanese families, this was a difficult time because if they didn't speak English, everything was happening and there was a lot of confusing information. Did you notice your mother maybe helping other families a little bit more during this time period? Because she could follow what was going on with the news and things like that?

TW: No, I don't recall that. I think parents were busy working.

TI: Now, you mentioned you were going to the Highland grade school. So the week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, do you remember going back to school and did it change at all?

TW: I hadn't thought about that. No, I don't remember feeling anything, any different.

TI: So no questions or comments around one of your classmates or anything?

TW: (No). And we were never called names.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So at some point, there's word that Japanese families are going to be removed from the area. Do you remember that period and what the family had to do?

TW: Yes, I remember when we had to have, Dad had a family by the name of Johnston lived there, and our furniture, much of our furniture was left with the Shimogaki family that lived a couple of miles away, but when we got back, those things were all gone. And things like refrigerators, they would pay five bucks for it, and people would buy them as cheap as they can because had to get out of there. So we left the farm.

TI: And so the Johnston family, what were they supposed to do? So they were going to live there? Were they renting the place?

TW: They were supposed to pay the taxes, and that didn't get done. So when my dad came out of camp, he no longer had the farm or our home.

TI: Oh, so the Johnston family, there was some arrangement so that they could stay there rent-free, but they just need to pay the taxes.

TW: I think they paid their taxes, yeah, as far as I can recall.

TI: And in addition to that, it sounded like some of the things like refrigerators and things, your dad trying to sell as much of that as he could.

TW: Yes. Or some of it got stored with a friend, but things were gone before we got back.

TI: Any other memories of preparing to leave? Like did you have to say, or did you say goodbye to your friends, your white friends or anything like that, do you remember?

TW: I don't recall that. No, my good friends Loretta and Joy, I don�t remember any sad partings or anything like that.

TI: Do you recall any of your feelings during this period? Like a sense of, maybe, uncertainty or just anything that you can remember?

TW: You know, our parents were wonderful. They never gave you the feeling of being frightened, everything's going to be fine. I don't know how they did it, but they let us know, things are going to be okay, don't worry, and I can't imagine what's going through their mind not knowing where they were going or what was going to happen to them. They were brave.

TI: And do you remember any talk that your mother or father gave to you and the other kids about that? Was there like a dinner conversation? When did this sense that everything was going to be okay, when did that come across?

TW: I don't think that happened until we actually were moving with our one bag that you were allowed. And that was getting on the train, letting you know. We were sent to Pinedale Assembly Center first.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: And before we go there, like from your farm, do you remember where you had to go to get picked up?

TW: I think it was in town where the produce collection place was. I think we went there and then was on the train to Pinedale.

TI: And do you remember the scene at the collection point? Were there a lot of other Japanese there waiting?

TW: I think I don't recall that being a crowd there or anything.

TI: And then from there, a train to pick you up? And had you ever been on a train before?

TW: Never.

TI: So what was that like for you?

TW: It was fun. But the shades were down, and then you didn't see anything. But it was just this child, it was just fun, and I guess, I don't know how Mom and Dad survived all that, especially with four of us. Because my brother was at school already but there were four of us to look after.

TI: Now, do you remember anything like guards with you on the train?

TW: (No). I didn't feel threatened at all, I was never afraid.

TI: How about food? Do you remember what you ate on this train ride?

TW: I don't remember being hungry.

TI: [Laughs] So there must have been.

TW: There must have been plenty of food and where it came from.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So you're on this train and you mentioned, from Bellevue, you went to the Pinedale Assembly Center. So what were your first impressions when you got to Pinedale?

TW: When we got to Pinedale, you know, I don't recall a first impression. I think it was dusty, if I remember, seeing the barracks. Other than that, I don't recall much.

TI: How about the weather? Because it's going down, Pinedale is in the Fresno area which is a very different climate than Bellevue, do you remember much about the weather?

TW: I remember it being hot and dusty. You know, it wasn't like Washington.

TI: And, for you, kind of a farm girl from Bellevue, all of a sudden going to the Pinedale Assembly Center. What was that like to see so many Japanese in one place?

TW: Well, of course, we had the Buddhist church in the gathering there. So I was used to Japanese gatherings. But mostly I recall, as a child of eleven, just having a lot of fun.

TI: And so describe that. What were some of the fun things you recalled?

TW: Oh, Rose Kishi, who was also here now, her name was Takeda. In Tule Lake, not at the assembly center, there wasn't anything really provided. But in Tule Lake, we took odori lessons, and we would perform onstage. And like I mentioned, Rose Takeda Kishi, who's here now, she was a very good dancer. So when we performed on stage, Rose played the man's part and I played the woman's part. The man's part is a lot harder to dance, so that was one of the things. Oh, we made taffy, we got syrup from the kitchen. And we would make taffy candy, and when we got the syrup, we would hide out in an empty apartment and boil that syrup up and really pull and pull. And we were very selfish, Rose and I. We had another friend, Kazzie. We didn't want to share our taffy with her, so we wouldn't include her. Wasn't that cruel as a kid? [Laughs]

TI: But it was just the two of you in an empty apartment with, it sounds like, maybe a hotplate or something?

TW: Yeah, we'd go in there.

TI: And you just did it on your own? And what kind of adult supervision, as you start doing things, at either Pinedale or Tule Lake that you recall? Were there a lot of organized activities for you?

TW: Other than the odori dance classes we took, they had, after a while, I didn't go to the American English school, I went to just Japanese classes.

TI: I'm sorry, this is at Tule Lake?

TW: Tule Lake.

TI: Okay, so you stopped going to the American school and just went to the Japanese school?

TW: Yes. So I got, like, a year behind. I was nineteen before I graduated from high school, but my brother kept going. They had names for you if you were... because they had separated people that wanted to stay, go to Japan, go back to Japan, or wanted to stay in the U.S. My mother was ill at the time, we couldn't make a move, so we stayed in Tule Lake. Though we did not desire to go back to Japan... I'm trying to think. So anyhow, they separated the people from pro-America to pro-...

TI: Well, and one of the ways they separated people was they had two different schools, right? They had the American school and then the Japanese school. And my understanding is the Japanese school was more for people who thought they might be going back to Japan. And so how did you end up in the Japanese school when you thought you weren't going to go to Japan?

TW: When we were not going back?

TI: Yeah, you were not planning to go back. It sounded like you weren't planning to go back to Japan.

TW: No, the family was not planning because of Mom being ill. My brother kept on going to...

TI: The American school.

TW: American school. So he did not get behind.

TI: But why did you go to the Japanese school?

TW: I don't know, I guess all my friends were.

TI: So it was more, kind of, almost like your peers were doing that?

TW: (Yes).

TI: Did you feel, any time, pressure, maybe through your friends to go to the Japanese school rather than the American school like your older brother?

TW: I don't think so.

TI: So it was pretty, like you could choose one?

TW: (Yes).

TI: Thank you for sharing that. Going back to Pinedale, before we talk more about Tule Lake, any other memories of Pinedale? You mentioned it was sort of hot and dusty. Anything else that you can recall?

TW: No, I really don't. It's almost, I've never been there, but I know we were there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Okay, so let's go to Tule Lake. So, again, kind of a different climate than Fresno. But what were your impressions of Tule Lake when you first got there?

TW: Again it was a dusty dust bowl, and so many barracks, let's see, we were in Block 54. And I remember a big canal that ran between our block and the blocks, 70 or something that was across from the canal, we called it "Alaska." It was just the massive amount of Japanese that were weren't used to.

TI: So it felt like, much larger, much bigger than Pinedale?

TW: Yes, of course.

TI: And with it being larger like that, what other differences did you notice at Tule Lake?

TW: Well, we were educated. We had the English, American schools, and then we also had the Japanese school.

TI: And so at Tule Lake, when you first got there, it was sort of like the other WRA camps like Minidoka?

TW: I think it was the largest, though.

TI: It was, yeah, probably the largest. But then at some point after about, a little less than� a year or so, the government tried to make it into what was called a segregation camp. And I think you were talking about this where others who were maybe planning to go to Japan or just felt that their treatment wasn't appropriate, a lot of them were sent to Tule Lake and then other families were actually moving to other camps. Do you remember that time period? Was that something that created a lot of, or made a difference at Tule Lake?

TW: Well, like I mentioned, my mother being ill at that time, we really had no choice but to stay there. And yet my brother was in the 442nd, in fact, he visited with his army uniform on one time, and nobody seemed to be upset about it. Actually, maybe it was just me, but like Rose Kishi and I, we had a bunch of fun in camp. Like I say, I can't imagine what it was for our parents.

TI: So let's talk a little bit about your mother. You said she was ill, so what type of illness did she have?

TW: She had cancer of the cervix

TI: And did the doctors know right away what she had?

TW: She was diagnosed and they sent her to, I think they sent her to Oregon on a train by herself, and I thought that was terrible that she was going by herself. She was not that ill, even if she had cancer, but she was going there for radiation treatments and then she came back and was hospitalized in Tule Lake, passed away there.

TI: And were you able to visit her very much in the hospital?

TW: Yes. Except I do remember they didn't have enough morphine to really keep her comfortable, and there were times that she didn't get her shot when she was hurting.

TI: Oh, that must have been very difficult for you.

TW: It was. I remember sitting out on the stairs of the hospital crying a lot. It's almost hard to mention. I think the hardest thing for my dad, my mother had requested that he do the after death care for her, and that's what Dad did. Now, I can't imagine how hard and sad it must have been for him.

TI: Do you recall any conversations with your mother during this time period, anything that she told you or said to you?

TW: I don't recall anything.

TI: How about your father? As you were going through this, the family's going through this, you mentioned earlier how your parents were very, I don't want to say protective in terms of saying, "Everything's going to be okay," as this is happening, what's being told to you and your siblings at this point?

TW: I don't think you really had to be told. We were sensing what was going on. Except for sitting out on the stairs, or outside on the stairs crying. And I think my sister Tsuk was two years younger, and Tom was another, quite a bit younger. But I don't think they felt it as much as I did, but it was (sad) that occasion.

TI: And you mentioned Rye visiting Tule Lake. Was it partly because of your mother's, either illness or her death that he visited?

TW: No, he was on a leave and he was able to come, so he... and there was no, the people, they were not upset that he was there or anything, his army uniform. But it was a short visit, if I recall, three days or so he was here, and then he was gone.

TI: While, after your mother passed away, do you recall any service for her? You mentioned your father doing the after death care. Was there like a memorial service or anything?

TW: Yes, I believe there was a service there, right there in our block. I believe they had a service, if I remember correctly.

TI: Thank you for sharing this. Is there anything else that you can remember or want to share about this very difficult time?

TW: You know, you say a difficult time, but really for kids, it was a fun time. Because you lived on the farm, and your families usually just... you didn't have many friends that came over or anything. And here we were with all these other kids. And I met a lot of, like Rose was my best friend there, and now she's here and we're best friend here. So all I recall was having... oh, and one thing I recall, the toilets were in the middle of the block all together, no privacy. And one day I was out late and I came home and I thought they had locked the door on me, well, they hadn't. So I was in the bathroom crying because I thought, oh, they locked the door on me, they're not going to let me in because I was late. Well, they hadn't done that, but I was... and then Mom came out and says, "Come home."

TI: That's a good story. And so any other stories at Tule Lake? You mentioned this, having fun, the taffy, going to Japanese school.

TW: (Yes).

TI: Anything else that comes to mind?

TW: No, not really.

BY: Talk about your grandmother after your mother died. You had said that you became very close to her, and so talk about your grandmother, what your relationship with her was like in Tule Lake.

TW: Yeah. After Mom had passed, of course, Grandma took the place of Mom. She was my father's mother. All grandmothers do is love, right? And I got a big mound of love from her, all of us did. She was a very caring person, hard worker. That's what I remember, mostly.

BY: Do you remember anything in particular that you did with her in Tule Lake?

TW: In camp? Not with her. I know they used to knit a lot, but I never learned how to knit.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: And, Tak, there was one thing that you mentioned during the preinterview, I just wanted to touch upon. There were some tensions at Tule Lake, especially amongst people who were going to Japan. And there were some families who had maybe brothers or people in the service. You mentioned an incident where maybe you or someone in the family was called the term "inu"?

TW: Yeah, "dogs."

TI: Can you share that story of how that happened?

TW: You know, I know that happened, but I don't recall myself being so offended about it. I don't think it meant that much to me at that age. I don't know what it did to Dad and Grandma. And, of course, Kats... Rye never went to camp and Kats left camp early because he had a friend in Bellevue, Dean Matson, that invited him, his family invited him to stay with them, so he went out early about a year earlier than we did when we were allowed to go out, August of '45.

TI: So let's talk about that a little bit. So Kats left Tule Lake early and was able to go back to Bellevue. When he did that, did you hear how, what he thought of Bellevue going back? Did he write letters or anything?

TW: I don't recall that.

TI: And so tell me about Dean Matson, this friend. Was this like a classmate of his?

TW: Yes, they went to school together.

TI: And the Matson family, did they have a farm?

TW: I don't recall a farm. They had a home, but other than that, I don't know that they had a farm. And I don't know what Kats did there.

TI: But it sounds like this was a case where the Matson family was really reaching out and trying to help the family and having Kats come. Because he lived in their home, right?

TW: (Yes).

TI: Do you recall any stories from Kats when he talked about going to Bellevue and living with the Matson family?

TW: No, I don't. I don't remember a letter from him or anything.

TI: But I'm thinking afterwards when you would see him, did he ever talk about what Bellevue was like when you first got there?

TW: No, I don't. I'm trying to remember what age he was. We sort of went our own way when we got out of camp.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay. So let's talk about leaving Tule Lake. Where did you go after, where did the family go? So at this point, it would be your father, your grandmother, you, and your two younger siblings, Tsukiyo and Tom, right? So where did the five of you go after?

TW: Well, as I mentioned before, we couldn't go back to the farm because he no longer had it and we had no home. So when we'd first come back, there was a Reverend Andrews, and I guess he was a minister for the Japanese Baptist Church. He helped us by finding a place, and he had a friend, Mrs. McCullough, that had the big house in Seattle. We stayed there for about two weeks with them until Dad could find a place. And then we settled in Seattle.

TI: And before going to Seattle after Tule Lake, did the family know of Reverend Andrews? How did they get connected with Reverend Andrews at the Japanese Baptist Church?

TW: I think we got, he would visit Tule Lake.

TI: Oh, see, I didn't know that. I always think of Reverend Andrews' connection to Minidoka, because had what was called the "Blue Bus," that he would go back and forth between Seattle and Minidoka a lot. So this is interesting.

TW: I wasn't aware, but I know he visited Tule Lake once or twice that I know. So we knew where our help would be when we got out of camp, since we didn't have a place to go to.

TI: So Reverend Andrews was kind of providing a connection to Seattle, that he had this network of people that could help Japanese families. And came down to Tule Lake probably to let people know or connect with some of the local, or the local people.

TW: Local people, yeah.

TI: Oh, that's interesting, I didn't know that. I'm glad you shared that. I interviewed Reverend Andrews' son. They lived in Twin Falls right by...

TW: Are you talking about Idaho?

TI: Yeah, Idaho. I mean, they moved there during the war just to be close to the, the congregation from Seattle. Because most of them went to Minidoka.

TW: Oh, I see.

TI: But yeah, he was going back and forth a lot, so this connection to Tule Lake I wasn't aware of until today.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So tell me about Mrs. McCullough, you stayed at her house?

TW: Yes. She had a large home, and I would say a woman about forty-five or so. And thank heaven for people like them. We stayed a couple of weeks before Dad was able to find a place for us in Seattle.

TI: And do you recall where Mrs. McCullough's house was located?

TW: No, I don't.

TI: Okay. And then after a couple weeks, your dad found a place where he could stay, where the five of you could also. Do you remember where that was?

TW: I don't remember the address. I think it was downtown somewhere. And we finally ended up in the home on Beacon Avenue.

TI: Now do you recall how this was for your father? This must have been... I'm just thinking of all the things that happened. Your mother passing away, the taxes on his farm not being paid so he lost that. Do you recall what this time period was like for your father and how you dealt with that?

TW: Well, I think he... fortunately he had his mom. My mom died, but he had his mom. They were very supportive for each other. And he found a job on the railroad cleaning freight trains. It must have been a hard job for him. But like I said, Kats went on his own and I went on my own. And then I guess I went home when I started the UW. I was home... yeah, when I started UW I went home, but before that, I went to Garfield High.

TI: Okay. At what point, when you said you were on your own, was this the time period you were, like, a schoolgirl?

TW: (Yes).

TI: And so how old were you when you first started?

TW: So I was thirteen.

TI: Thirteen?

TW: Yeah, and Kats was fifteen.

TI: Okay, so this is pretty much right after you got out of Tule Lake, went to Seattle, it sounds like you became a schoolgirl. And so who did you stay with, who'd you work for?

TW: I lived in Dr. Baker's home in the Mount Baker area.

TI: Oh, Dr. Baker. Dr. Baker in Mount Baker?

TW: Bill Baker and Sylvia Baker.

TI: And do you remember where in Mount Baker, do you remember the house?

TW: Now, I see Mount Baker, but is Magnolia area Mount Baker?

TI: No, that's different. So Magnolia is...

TW: I remember it was the end, I was taking the bus all the time, end of the bus line and down the hill and on the water. Isn't that...

TI: Yeah, so the water, was it on Puget Sound or Lake Washington?

TW: No, Lake Washington.

TI: Mount Baker then, it'd be Mount Baker. Yeah, Mount Baker would be Lake Washington. Magnolia is more Puget Sound.

TW: Oh, okay.

TI: But that was Bill and Sylvia, you said?

TW: (Yes), he was a psychiatrist.

TI: And how many, how long were you a schoolgirl for the Baker family?

TW: I was still there when I was in... I would say about three or four years.

TI: So this was, you said you went to Garfield, so while you were attending Garfield?

TW: Yes, I was living with the Bakers there when I went to Garfield High.

TI: Yeah, I'm just thinking of the school districts. So Mount Baker is traditionally Franklin High School and you went to Garfield. You might have been a little more east, maybe toward Leschi and that area? But still by Lake Washington. But I'll actually do some research, that's kind of interesting. And so what were your duties as a schoolgirl? How did that work?

TW: Well, I recall mostly looking after... they had a Jacqueline, a daughter, and Jonathan, a son. And I recall mostly sitting with them when they were gone. I don't remember... well, I did dishes, served meals. I don't remember particularly working hard.

TI: Now, who would do the cooking? Did they have a cook?

TW: Oh, they cooked.

TI: They cooked, okay. So you were kind of helping out with the kids and some of the cleaning? And did you have, then, your own room?

TW: Yes, I had my own room.

TI: And do you recall how you got this job, how it came about?

TW: That's a good question, how did I get the job? It might have been through Andrews, I'm not sure how I got it.

TI: And while you were doing this, how often were you, did you check in with the family, with your dad and your younger sister and younger brother and your grandmother?

TW: Not very often. I don't recall being off very, having off time. I remember my brother Rye and Kats came to visit me there at the Bakers' home, and I remember taking chicken, offering them chicken. And that was probably the only time they visited me. Of course, my sister and my younger brother were too young.

TI: And how was this time period for you? Thirteen... the sixteen or so, three years. How would you characterize this time for you?

TW: For me it was a good learning experience. I learned how to set the table properly, things like that. They were very kind to me. I remember they bought me my first coat, first raincoat. They were good, they were good people. Sylvia was especially nice, and I think when I was living in Honolulu, flying for Pan American, I got the word that Sylvia, the mother, passed away. And they couldn't understand why I couldn't come to her funeral. I couldn't go. Just because I worked for Pan American didn't mean I can get off any time. And Jacqueline was very disappointed that I wouldn't come for her mother's funeral, but it was unavoidable.

TI: So it sounds like you were very close to the family, they really respected you and wanted you to be at the funeral.

TW: But I was trying to track down Jonathan Baker when I got up here in 2019. I understood that he was a doctor, but I can't track him down. He was Jonathan Baker, but I can't find him, I tried.

TI: And so he would be, I guess, you were taking care of him, so younger than you.

TW: Yes.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So when you came back to Seattle and you were staying with the Baker family, what school did you attend?

TW: I attended Garfield High.

TI: Okay, so you started right at Garfield High School?

TW: No, I started junior high school somewhere, and then I went to Garfield High.

TI: So would it be Washington?

TW: I don't recall. Broadway, did I go to Broadway?

TI: Broadway was a high school, too. Washington would have been one of the junior high schools.

TW: I don't know where I went to junior high.

TI: But then you went to Garfield.

TW: (Yes), I graduated from Garfield in 1949.

TI: And when you went to school, like at Garfield, did people ever talk about what happened during the war with the Japanese, Japanese Americans? Did you ever share that you were at Tule Lake or anything like that?

TW: No, I don't recall.

TI: Do you recall any other Japanese Americans talking about the World War II experience?

TW: No, I don't.

TI: Do you think anyone knew? Did any of your classmates or teachers ever ask about what happened?

TW: I don't remember being asked about it.

TI: Well, I'm a Seattle native. So Garfield during that time period was a very, I'll call it "happening place." I think, wasn't Quincy Jones there?

TW: Yes, he sure is.

TI: So he was a classmate?

TW: (Yes), he played, at noontime he'd play for us. [Laughs] Isn't he something?

TI: Yeah.

TW: Is he still alive?

TI: Yes, I think he still is.

TW: Oh my god, he was good even then.

TI: So you remember Quincy Jones?

TW: Yes, I sure do.

TI: So Garfield was a very happening place for music, I mean, Jimi Hendrix was there also, maybe not the same time period.

TW: Well, I heard that, but Jimi Hendrix is much younger, isn't he?

TI: Yeah, he was much younger.

TW: He's a Tacoma... a Renton guy.

TI: (Yes), but Quincy was there.

TW: Quincy was there, Quincy Jones.

TI: Because now, when I, because I live in that neighborhood, when I drive by, they have Quincy Jones, is it auditorium? Or some kind of performance hall.

TW: Oh, really? Named after him?

TI: Yeah, named after him.

TW: How nice.

TI: But I noticed that you were there at the same time he was.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Any other memories of Garfield, what that was like for you?

TW: Well, you know, like I say, I was a housegirl. And I really didn't have much time on my own. But I know there was... do you know Kazzie Takahashi Kitayama? Was married to Mits Kitayama?

TI: Yeah, I do.

TW: (Yes), well, he passed away a couple of years ago. But she was in this girls club, the Japanese girls club. And she made it possible for me to be Miss Nisei Teen, because they were gathering money and votes, and Kazzie really worked on it. She's still here in Seattle. And she collected the most, so I was Teen Queen.

BY: So she chose you, then, to do it?

TW: Well, no, you collected money and votes, and she got the most. In other words, she was the popular one, so she got the votes for me. And do you remember... I would guess nobody's talked about it, but...

TI: So is this the precursor to the... we have the Japanese American...

TW: Festival?

TI: Yeah, and part of that, there's a Japanese American...

BY: Or Seafair?

TW: Seafair, (yes).

TI: Yeah, Seafair, that there's a Japanese Community Queen that the community then, they become part of the bigger Seafair, and from Seafair they choose the Seafair Queen.

TW: (Yes), I was in that court with Ben, do you know Ben and Helene and May, it it Tsutsumoto?

TI: Oh --

TW: Ben Tsutsumoto?

TI: Tsutsumoto, yeah.

TW: May was the queen and we were in her court. Marian Kono, is gone, and Phyllis and I were in her court.

TI: And this was when you were in high school or graduated?

TW: It was '49, I think.

TI: Okay, '49.

TW: If I'm not mistaken.

TI: Okay, because you graduated in 1949.

TW: High school.

TI: In high school. Okay, so you were essentially in the Queen's Court for the Japanese community.

TW: (Yes), for the Japanese, for the parade that they had.

TI: And so how was that for you? Or how were Japanese... so 1949, this was only four years after the war ended with Japan. And you have something called the Japanese Community Queen's Court on a parade going, I think on Fourth? Jackson? How was that? Were people accepting of a Japanese community float?

TW: I guess so. But I remember May Tsutsumoto's mother dressed, we were all dressed in kimono. And, of course, you can't dress yourself in a kimono anyhow. So May Tsutsumoto's (mother) dressed us all in kimonos, so that's what we were in when we paraded down the street (in a float).

TI: It's so interesting. Interesting to be part of the conversations of the community doing that. I'm sure there were probably discussions like, "Is this too soon?" Because interesting from a historical standpoint, this time period is really interesting because not as much is known.

TW: And it hasn't been that long before the war was over.

TI: Yeah, and that's why. So my understanding of what I read is oftentimes the community was very, kind of, what's the right word? Kind of trying to stay under the radar a little bit.

TW: Kind of being tiptoeing?

TI: Yeah, tiptoeing. But here, it's kind of the major parade in Seattle. There's a float with Japanese young women dressed in kimonos just a few years after the war ended, so that's really interesting to me. And do you recall any conversations about that, or did any of the elders kind of explain this to you, that maybe there might be a comment or something thrown to you or something like that?

TW: No.

TI: And do you recall any kind of comments or any kind of taunts or anything towards you or anyone on the court?

TW: I remember that's the time, I think the JACL group interviewed us. Not in kimonos, but just in regular dresses. And I remember I was asked who the governor was, and I didn't know.

TI: Would that be Rosellini? I'm not sure who was the governor back then.

TW: [Laughs] I don't know.

TI: You could have responded, "Well, it was because I've been in a camp in California over the last several years, that's why I don't know."

TW: Or, "See no evil, hear no evil." Anyhow, I didn't know who it was. But I don't think the other girls knew either.

TI: Yeah, when you mentioned the parade going down Jackson Street, so that, before the war, was Nihonmachi.

TW: (Yes).

TI: And, again, thinking about that neighborhood after the war, what I've read is that it got pretty run down during the war. And so it became a place of a lot of nightclubs, and so the community kind of disappeared during that time period. Did you have a sense of the Japanese American community in that Jackson Street corridor after the war?

TW: No, not really, because I was a Bellevue person, so I really didn't know Seattle.

TI: Know the difference of how it changed?

TW: No, no. I didn't really have that experience, because, not being a Seattleite.

TI: Oh, it's so interesting. I'm so glad you're sharing this, because it's giving me a richer picture of what happened in Seattle.

TW: I'm sorry, I don't seem to be able to help you.

TI: No, this is good. These are great stories.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So after you graduated from Garfield, what happened next?

TW: Then I went to UW and got my BS in nursing. And then I worked for half a year at Harborview Hospital on the medical floor, and then Pan American.

TI: Okay, so let's slow down, let's talk about your University of Washington time. During that time period, there were Japanese American clubs, like there was SYNKOA House, for instance. And I think there were some Japanese American women's clubs, too. Were you part of any of those, did you join those?

TW: I had no time. I was working. Did I show you my...

TI: Yes, I was going to talk about that.

TW: That's UW.

TI: So this is the homecoming, picture of the homecoming finalists, May 18, 1954.

TW: '54, long ago.

TI: So explain how you become a homecoming queen finalist.

TW: Well, I was at Harborview Hospital in the living quarters there for the nurses, and they had selected me to run as homecoming...

TI: So these were student nurses? I mean, you were, at that point, a UW student?

TW: I was a student there at Harborview, and I represented the Harborview nursing school.

TI: So I noticed, when I looked at the picture, you were the only nonwhite contestant. At that point, was that unusual for a Japanese American to be considered for homecoming queen at University of Washington?

TW: Well, I wasn't aware of it at that time, just felt like one of the girls. But I was surprised that I was selected. I thought, "What am I doing here being selected for that?"

And I didn't especially think it was such a big thing.

BY: So you said that you were really busy when you were a college student. Is that because while you were going to school, you were also working at the same time?

TW: Yes. I worked for, in the Magnolia Bluff, there was a Chinese man, Tim Chin, that had a restaurant there. And so I was working there as a waitress. All the time I had, I would be there. And while I was working there, Tim thought I was going to medical school. And when I told him, no, I'm in nursing school, he was very disappointed. He thought I was going to be a doctor like your dad. [Laughs]

TI: And so you were juggling a lot. You were working...

TW: I was working and...

TI: Going to school.

TW: ...trying to make tuition to go to school.

TI: Also running for homecoming queen. [Laughs] And so I'm curious, during this social scene, did you have time to date? Were you dating in college?

TW: Well, I had a boyfriend in high school. I'm trying to remember... no, not really.

TI: But in high school, you were dating? But in college, you...

TW: No.

TI: Okay. So any other memories from your college days you want to share? Because you surprised me when you brought me that homecoming, you're so modest, you said, "Oh, by the way, look at this." I mean, is there anything else we should know about?

TW: Well, I found this, and I thought, well, maybe you'd be interested in it.

TI: Yeah. So we were very interested in those little pieces, little stories or anything that you can remember from college.

TW: No. You know, Tom, I really had to work a lot to make my tuition. And so I spent a lot of time working on my spare time, working at Tim Chin's restaurant, or afterward, I got a job working in the hospital. So most of my time was spent working trying to make my tuition for school.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Now, your selection to go to nursing school, why nursing school?

TW: I guess probably because I was assured of a job when I got out. Teaching or nursing, that was about it.

TI: Okay. So this was something that your father supported? He thought you going to nursing school was a good idea?

TW: Well, (yes). They were very supportive. Grandma... because in the beginning, I was staying at home. Grandma and Dad were there, so I had a home there for a while before I went into the dorm, which was not until the third, fourth, fifth year of nursing.

TI: You mentioned you graduated, and you said you worked as a nurse for half a year. And then what happened?

TW: And then that's when Pan American came to the Olympic Hotel to interview Nisei girls that can speak (Japanese). So I went down to be interviewed, and they said I was hired except I had to pass the language part. So they sent me to Mr. Takahashi. His name, he had changed his name from Mr. Takahashi to Mr. Highbridge.

TI: So a translation...

TW: Literal translation. And he quizzed me on my Japanese and he said that I was acceptable for Japanese speaking. But I don't know if I was that good because once we got hired, I became good friends with Eunice Kubota, and she and I had to take lessons with a special Japanese man who was assigned to Eunice and I because our Japanese was so poor. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story. But then you told me another good story. I want you to share how your father found out that you were...

TW: Oh, did I mention that?

TI: You mentioned that. It's a great story, so I want you to tell this story. So you talked about going to the Olympic Hotel to interview for this... and before we go there, so the terminology, "stewardess" versus "flight attendant," which one do you use?

TW: I think, at the time, "stewardess" was used. And then after that, people were called "flight attendants" versus "stewardesses," but we were called stewardesses.

TI: Okay, so back then they called it stewardess. So you were, back then, applying for a position for stewardess. So tell the story of how your father found out.

TW: Oh, okay. Because it was a new thing, they had televised it. And so my dad always watched the news at six o'clock. On the very end of that, they showed me. And my dad looked at me and said, "Was that you?" I said, "(Yes), Dad." I said, "I went to go interview." Twenty-five years old and I have to ask permission from my dad if I can go. And he said, "(Yes), you can go if you promise to keep up on your nursing." And I'd gone to school and all that. "If you keep up on your nursing, you can go." So there it was.

TI: And do you have a sense that he was concerned about it at all, or was he excited about you being a stewardess? What was his reaction?

TW: I was very excited. I'd never been to Honolulu. And so, oh my god, getting to Honolulu for the first time is just paradise. Beautiful weather and all those familiar faces, Oriental faces. I just really love Hawaii, it was a good time for me and a wonderful place and wonderful friends.

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: And you talked about also you got special tutoring for your Japanese. So what else happened when you were a stewardess with Pan Am? I guess the story of how you met your husband. So how did you meet your husband?

TW: Okay. Well, they first hired the Nisei, Japanese stewardesses, to fly from Honolulu to San Francisco, Honolulu to Tokyo. That was our route, naturally, because Japanese people taking the plane there to the U.S. But then I was a union member. They based us at Honolulu, the Nisei girls. But being union members, we can transfer out to other stations. And I transferred to San Francisco because I got to go to more places. After about a year and a half in Honolulu, I transferred to San Francisco base, now I was able to fly to New Zealand, Australia, London, Paris, a whole lot more. So I enjoyed that for another year and a half and then I retired. When did I retire? Anyhow, I retired after about a year and a half flying out of San Francisco, and got married in '58.

TI: Well, so explain how you met your husband?

TW: Oh, okay. Well, it was on a Boeing Stratocruiser, December 20, 1955.

TI: [Laughs] Do you remember the flight number?

TW: Just about. Well, anyhow, Fred Walts was captain, he had come back to chat to some passengers, and he'd come back to meet the flight crew and the cabin crew. And he says, "What's your name?" And I said, "My name's Takae Tanino." And he says, "What does it mean?" I said, "It means 'expensive.'" [Laughs]

TI: And what was his reaction when you told him that?

TW: Well, we got married, so I guess he didn't think I was.

TI: That's funny. So "takai" is, yeah, the Japanese term for "high" or "expensive."

TW: But he wasn't sure about me. So then he had a friend in Yokohama, Caucasian friend, and he asked... but he was married to a Japanese girl, Naoko was her name. And so he had her ask Naoko, "What does it mean?" And she said, "It means 'expensive.'" [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so he was interested in you.

TW: (Yes).

TI: So you met him in 1955, married in 1958, you said after you retired from Pan Am? You said you retired from...

TW: Yes, after.

TI: And so after Pan Am, what did you do?

TW: Well, after we got married? Okay, I had my two daughters.

TI: And what are your daughters' names?

TW: It's Melody. Her last name is Jackson now, married to Randy Jackson. And my other daughter, Mary, is married to David Brinkhurst. They live in Santa Rosa, my older daughter Melody lives in Mesa, Arizona.

TI: Okay. So you had two children, and where did you live when you were raising your two daughters?

TW: Well, for a while there we lived in Novato, and then we bought a home in Sebastopol, which is out in the country. So I think we lived there in Sebastopol in that home for about thirty-seven years.

TI: And during this time period, did your husband continue to be a pilot?

TW: Yes. He commuted to San Francisco.

TI: And I have in my notes that you actually honored your father's request and that you went back into nursing?

TW: Yes, I did. After my daughters were in school, six and eight, I went back to nursing. I was a school nurse for the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District in California. I retired after sixteen years, I retired in 1988 from school nursing.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Good. Any interesting... I mean, you've lived such a rich life, and I'm trying to... I guess, when you think of your life, and you think of what you'd want to tell your daughters, and do you have any grandchildren?

TW: Yes, I have five.

TI: Okay, five grandchildren. When you think of the generations down the line, what do you think is important for them to know about you and your life in terms of what you've learned, in terms of what's important?

TW: Well, they're mostly interested in the Japanese side. They want to learn a lot about what being a Japanese is. So they would ask questions, they want me to write letters to them, and that's very difficult for me to do. I don't remember that much Japanese to be able to write a letter, but I tried to do that. And they are also interested in learning the language, and there are two kids that are attending Japanese classes. And I really, I have a difficult time trying to remember the kanjis and the hiragana and katakana, but I try. Because they wanted, I guess, for souvenirs, to say, "Grandma wrote this."

TI: Well, so there's the Japanese language, but when it comes to maybe the things you learned from your parents or grandmother in particular, what are some of the values of when, if a granddaughter or grandson said, "Grandma, what Japanese values are important to you?"

TW: I think honesty is very important. To work hard, and mostly to get an education. I think that was stressed to us as well as my children. Mary and Melody also, they stress education in their family. But though they stressed education, they really didn't have the funds to send you to school. Fortunately, my daughters can do that, but when I was growing up or when my brothers and I, we had to fend on our own and make our own tuition. But it was good for us, I don't regret that part. I think one can handle it if... you do what you have to do to get by in this world, and I think that's what we did. I think they stressed things like, be on time for your work, and honesty, like I mentioned. I don't know. I think things just came naturally, to do the right thing.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: That's good. There's one thread I forgot to tie up. Going back to the Bellevue farm, you said earlier, during the war, the Johnston family didn't pay taxes, so you lost the farm.

TW: Yes.

TI: But your older brother Rye actually kept pursuing the case. So tell me what happened to the farm.

TW: Well, I think I mentioned, I remember Rye working, he had graduated from Washington State. I think he worked twelve years on it before he was able to get the farm back and then it got sold. But I don't, he never told me... Rye wasn't much to tell you anything. And like I say, when he was valedictorian, he didn't even tell his mom and dad. But he worked twelve years to get it back, and I remember each of us, well, my sister and I got twenty thousand apiece. And she grumbled about that because she said, "That isn't fair. The boys got more than we did." [Laughs] But that's about all I remember, they did get the farm back for Dad.

TI: So who took over the farm during those twelve years? Was there another family or someone living there?

TW: There was the Johnstons that lived there.

TI: Oh, even though they didn't pay the taxes, they were getting to stay there?

TW: They didn't get... no, and that was my understanding, that's why Dad lost it. And then, of course, it was in the name of a fellow named Kumagai that went back to Japan.

TI: Okay. So your brother Rye, it sounds like, through the court system, challenged the...

TW: And somehow he got it back. I guess he can prove that Kumagai didn't belong, just his name, because Rye wasn't old enough to have it in his name.

TI: Okay, thanks for sharing that. That clears that up.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Barb, any other questions before we go?

BY: I guess one question is, so if your children live -- you lived in California for a very long time, and both your daughters live in California. So why did you come back to Seattle?

TW: I came back here because my brother was here and I wanted to be by him. But he passed away.

BY: Very shortly after you came.

TW: About a year. Well, Terry, his wife was here, too, and she passed away soon after I got here, and then my brother last year. I love this place, actually, I think it's got a wonderful view, wonderful residents, wonderful staff. So I'm going to stay here.

BY: It's so bittersweet for you that you come back so that you can be with your family and then they all...

TW: Well, he was the only living family left, and now they're all gone. So it's a very lonesome feeling to have them all gone. But Tsuk was really more than just a sister, she was my best friend. She was the greatest sister ever. She would run the Elegant Affair beauty salon, she had that in Bellevue.

BY: And who is this?

TW: My sister Tsuk.

TI: Her younger sister.

BY: Oh, I see.

TW: Do you remember her?

BY: No, I don't. And you now you have your friend, your friend Rose is here, though, too?

TW: Oh, yes, and her husband, what was his first name? Anyhow, her husband has...

BY: Just recently, during Covid.

TW: No, it's before Covid.

BY: Was it before Covid? Yeah, I remember that was...

TW: Rose and I were good friends, so I'm back here with Rose.

TI: And have you been able to connect with any of the prewar Bellevue families that the family knew before the war?

TW: I think the closest Bellevue family was the Mizukawas and the Muromotos. And Miyuki lives in Des Moines. And I think, last time I talked to her, her son... I tried to get her to come here, but she has, now has her son living with her, so she's very comfortable staying in her home. I said, "If you get ready, this is a good place to be." Of course, in the Muromoto family, Kim, the oldest daughter, of course, she's gone. Because the boys, the oldest boy was the same age as Rye, my brother. And about four years ago he was still here. And then they had a younger son, Min, and I don't know what's happened to them. And the Mizukawas came to Des Moines, I think the older son, Hiroshi, had a, I think he had a (nursery) in the middle of Bellevue, in town. There was a garden, a nursery or something, he used to have, like maybe fifteen years ago. And I don't know what's happening there.

BY: Bellevue, I'm sure, is unrecognizable to you now.

TW: Oh, absolutely, right. And even Redmond is just... Kirkland, it's all changed so much.

TI: Well, I just read a recent article that said Bellevue house prices are the highest in the whole country.

TW: That's what I heard. (Yes), I wish we had that...

BY: Yeah, your property.

TI: Your twenty acres?

TW: There are a lot of nice homes on the property now.

TI: Well, with that, we're going to... thank you so much for this interview.

TW: Oh, you're welcome. It's a delight to talk to you, too.

BY: Yeah, it's really interesting. I don't know that much about Bellevue, so it's really interesting to hear that.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.