Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Chizuko Norton Interview
Narrator: Chizuko Norton
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nchizuko-01-0026

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AI: And then, at that time, as some people had left to go to the other camps, others came from the camps and came to Tule Lake as it became the so-called "segregation center."

CN: And some, some of the Kibei men and women got together and started their own Japanese school. So what my friends and I did, there were three of us, we decided that we would enroll in the Japanese school while we were working, too. And it was run just like a regular Japanese school in Japan is run. And we'd all get together, they would have us get together early in the morning to do sitting up exercises, and we would learn all these patriotic songs. And we learned a great deal. My one good friend from Bellevue still is able to read and write Japanese because after she came back here -- she's the one, I talked her into helping me out by taking over my job as a domestic and that was when she met her husband, well, she met him in camp, was married, and then moved to Hood River, Oregon. Her mother lived here so she would write letters to her mother and her mother would respond by writing letters in Japanese to her. So she still reads and writes Japanese extremely well.

AI: So it sounds like there was really a rejuvenation of a lot of cultural pride with the influx of so many Kibei.

CN: I don't know whether there was pride, but it was one way of existing and learning. Because we weren't, we couldn't get out. And so, and we learned a great deal. I have a lot of respect for those people, but they were the gung-ho Japanese, you know, almost samurai types.

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit about that because from things that I had read, I got the feeling that some people maybe such as yourself who really in your heart did not... answering "no" on the questionnaire had nothing to do with your loyalty to the U.S. You were, definitely identified yourself as a citizen, as an American, that I read that some people actually felt somewhat intimidated after segregation by some of the folks who were perhaps feeling negative about America. Did you ever have any of that sense?

CN: Uh-uh. Yeah, they were feeling very negative, pro-Japanese and anti-American, of course. But I didn't feel that they took it out on us. And maybe it was because we were going to this Japanese school and the emphasis was on teaching Japanese culture and Japanese language, and we also learned about geography and we did math using the metric system and all that. So it was like a regular school. And though we did learn some patriotic songs, it was patriotism to Daihichiko, which is the Ward 7, Ward 7 school. So it was patriotism to that school and not so much emphasis on -- at least I didn't look at it that way -- on you've got to be Japanese and you have to be this way or that way.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.