Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sue Takimoto Okabe Interview
Narrator: Sue Takimoto Okabe
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 3, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-osue-01

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: And what do you recall about the day that you actually left home?

SO: My mom getting upset is all I remember. She was sick pretty much throughout Puyallup. She did not adjust well.

AI: Well, when you got down there, what did you see at Puyallup?

SO: Oh, boy. [Laughs] Nothing that you could ever imagine, the hastily erected barracks that's inside the racetrack, the ovals. That's where we were. And then we did see some of the grandstands, underneath the grandstands, which were animal stalls. And actually we were very lucky that we weren't in there.

AI: Right.

SO: But those -- to eat, the lining up for the mess halls. Yeah, Mom wasn't very good at that. It was, it was a lifestyle that she had, had a great deal of difficulty adjusting, if ever she did adjust. I'm not sure that she ever did. I think she did maybe later somewhat.

AI: It must have been very difficult.

SO: My dad was more flexible.

AI: Well, for, for both of your parents. They had, had their own business which they had had to leave and -- was that, was your building that you lived in --

SO: We owned it, and it was in the name of the Nimis, who were citizens. So we kept the building throughout the war.

AI: But still, having to close up and leave everything must have been very difficult for them.

SO: Uh-huh. I'm sure it was. I'm sure it was.

AI: Well, what else stands out in your mind about Puyallup while you were there?

SO: Well, it's our -- from junior high school, Washington Junior High School, Miss Sondegaard was our gym teacher. And of all things, she brought -- I don't know why -- she brought some records of square dancing. So my friends and I were teaching that at -- Puyallup was divided into areas, A, B, C, D, I think. I think we were in D. But I remember taking a group into another area, doing the square dance.

AI: Is that right?

SO: Uh-huh. And I sang in our area. I didn't go outside to sing to the other areas.

AI: On what occasions would you sing?

SO: They had a big assembly kind of a hall because Area D was the main one. And the Mikados of Swing, what guys were in that particular area, did practice. And Michi played with them for a while. And I think it was Mother's Day, I sang. Yeah. I think, I'm pretty sure it was Mother's Day.

AI: So there was a kind of a program on Mother's Day?

SO: Uh-huh. I can't recall who did it or why or anything, but yes, because I do remember singing in Puyallup.

AI: And was there any kind of, of school or any kind of structured --

SO: Oh, no. None at all.

AI: So as a child you were much freer, your time was much more open?

SO: Yeah. My friend who lived across the way, he lives in Kent now, Frank Nakagawa and I used to just fool around and watch the older kids dance and learn how to dance.

AI: Well --

SO: We had not much to do, to be honest. We got into a lot of mischief.

AI: Well, and then did you have any idea what was going to happen next? What was going to happen to you?

SO: None. No. No, because that's what my mother got kind of ill over, was the thought of, are we staying there permanently? For how long? Where are we going, if not? And then the train ride to Minidoka.

AI: What was that like?

SO: That was pretty bad 'cause they had the curtains down. And it was dark for quite a ways. No one knew where we were going. My sister, Kay, remembers some of it. I don't recall some of her recollections. She remembers seeing people, but I don't. The only thing I remember is that they had an open window, and I had my elbow in the window. It came down, I didn't break anything, but I was bruised pretty badly. So I had a hard time carrying the things when we got off. That's the only, only memory I have. But I do -- I was shocked when we got to Minidoka. The stuffing of the mattresses, the straw. It was -- it's almost like, you expect me to sleep in that? Or sleep on that? That was a shock. I remember that.

AI: And were you all together with your whole family, there also?

SO: Yes. Yes. We were in Block 17. That I remember.

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