Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: June Takahashi Interview
Narrator: June Takahashi
Interviewers: Beth Kawahara (primary), Larry Hashima (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-tjune-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

BK: Well, June, you had talked about how you had to pack up the house and how you had to just kind of lock the doors. And of course there were no men around by that time because your brother was already down here in Seattle going to the University of Washington. As you approached the day that you were to leave, can you tell us a little bit more about your feelings and what you knew about what was going on?

JT: Well, actually, it was like a big adventure for us but hard on my mother and the rest of the families because they were leaving behind everything they owned. You can't carry everything in a suitcase. And so... and like when they came home from jail, they, to pick up clothes, it was so bad because they were both crying and the kids and I were just standing around so bewildered, and so lost, we didn't know what to do. And then when she found out that I was cooking for them that even surprised her even more. But anyway... and as I say, then they had this lady whom they hired to help us out. And so I guess we're at the point where my father and all the men were taken, sent out first. And in the meantime my mom and sisters and all the ladies were able to come back and were preparing to leave because they told us that they were going to be, have to go down to the States -- we called it the States -- to be evacuated, and we have to leave everything behind except what we could carry with us. So we packed up what we could and borrowed the local young man who was married to my neighbor's daughter and he helped us tie packages and tie different things, and we were going to be shipped out.

But for some reason or other, the people, the Japanese people in the other towns like Wrangel, and Ketchikan, and Juneau were able to go down to Seattle first. It was where they usually to go to Seattle, and they went down via the luxurious steamers, the steamships, which was the Alaska Steamship Company at that time. But they forgot about us in Petersburg and so we were, we were, had to go down on a troop ship in this gray, old gray, big gray boat that had men in arms. They watched over us and they fed us meals, I guess meals, that we ate standing up on the deck. They fed the men on these army trays -- GI issued food -- and that's what we had on our way down. And we were stuck in the hold at the very bottom of the ship. And we were so sick, I mean, most of us were not sailors, and we were so sick all the way down. It was just, it was really trying and my mother was very, trying to do the best she could for us. And so...

BK: How were you treated on the ship? I'm assuming that there were other military personnel.

JT: Other military men. Of course, we didn't see too many and we were not supposed to speak to them. We're not allowed to make contact with them and there were always a couple of guards around who had carried rifles or guns, I'm not sure what they were, but they were always armed and had helmets on all the time. And they stood around, walked the ship all the time. So we didn't, there was no contact there.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.