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

<Begin Segment 1>

BK: Well, June, perhaps you could start us off by telling us about your parents' life in Japan, just a short summary.

JT: You know, I really don't know very much about their life there. I know that they were just farming -- fishing village, actually, 'cause they lived in Kagoshima which is the fishing area of Japan -- and I'm not sure if they were fishermen or if they just had a farm there. But anyway, they came to the United States, I guess, in about 19', about 1916, I think it was they said. And my mother and my father came and it was a very rough voyage because I remember my mother telling me -- I asked her why she didn't go back or why she... 'cause she had, she had children over there -- and I asked her why she didn't bring them or go back to get them and she said it was just too bad a trip. She said it was so rough and she got so sick that she just couldn't even think about going back again. So therefore, that's why I have sisters in Japan now, 'cause to this day, they have never been over here and my mother, during her lifetime, never was able to go back.

BK: I see, so you had then... they had two children in Japan before they came over to America?

JT: Actually, there were two and my older sister so three all together, I just don't think about my older sister 'cause she's over here. But there are two remaining in Japan now and my oldest sister is here but she was, she was born in Japan and she came here. But, I have to take that back, because the two sisters that were over there, were born over here, so I'm not sure exactly how the sequence of that went. And Mom took 'em back to Japan and then left them over there.

BK: Then she returned to America?

JT: Uh-huh. And then they came back together, my father and my mother. And they left everybody over there at that time because -- for another thing, my uncles didn't have any children so they wanted for Mom to leave them there so they could raise the kids -- which she probably agreed to because of the wild, wild seas and everything when she came over, (as) she was deathly afraid of the water like that.

LH: And what year was this that your mother actually came over to Japan, came to the U.S. and then left your older sisters in Japan?

JT: Yeah, let's see, my sister now is -- the oldest one, is in her nineties -- she is ninety. So she came over when she was sixteen, I think she said. 1922. So that would have made that about 19... 19... well, she was sixteen and then she was, when came over here that would have been sixteen from twenty-two makes it, what, 6? 1906. They must have been born somewhere around 19... late 1900s, is that right? I mean, not late 1900s, in the 19... early 1900s.

BK: Early 1900s.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BK: So your folks were here in America, had the two children, returned to Japan and then came back. Do you know anything about when they had come the very first time?

JT: No, I don't know anything about that. I do know where they worked, I know they worked in Shelton, or they called it Oyster Bay. And they were shucking oysters at the very beginning. That's what the earliest part of what I remember her telling me, that they were in Oysterville, shucking oysters. And somehow or other, I don't know what their decision was to come to Seattle, but they did come to Seattle and my sister tells me they had a grocery store on Minor Avenue. And then during the early 1900s, later, of course, then 1922, the store did not do well, so they decided to go to Alaska. And what made them go to Alaska I have no idea. In the meantime, he had the grocery store and he was taking photography from a local man, Mr. Amano, who was a photographer, I guess, early, as early as that. And so he learned photography from them and when he went to Alaska, they went to Petersburg which is on a little island in the south, Southeast Alaska.

BK: Do you know how they selected Petersburg?

JT: Well, no, I really don't. I can't imagine unless there may have been someone who was recruiting from canneries in Petersburg, because Petersburg is mainly a Scandinavian village and they have fish canneries as well as shrimp canneries, and so they went and worked actually in the canneries at that time. So they probably either picked shrimp or worked in the fish canneries. And I don't know which of them they did but they worked in both. My mother worked in the shrimp cannery, I know that. And in the early days everything was done by picking the shrimps by hand, and so, which was a very tedious task, and so that's what they did. And then, and then my folks must have started this hand laundry after that and then my dad, since he knew photography, became the local photographer and he developed films for people and took photographs, portraits, and did the coloring. He knew quite a bit about it so he was able to put that to use and that's what supported the family, too.

[Ed. Note: After this Densho interview was conducted, Ms. Takahashi provided a written addendum to this section of the interview, describing her parents' early life in America.]

[Begin Addendum:]

(The year was about 1916 when Mama and Papa came to the USA to make a better life for themselves. They left the oldest sister, Tsuyo, in Japan with her grandmother on my mother's side. She later joined the folks coming to Seattle by herself in 1922 when she was 16 years old.

Mama and Papa worked on an oyster farm in a town they called Oyster Bay, and also in Shelton, shucking oysters. I don't know how long they remained there. During this period two more daughters were born to them, Ayako and Fumiko. Since they worked all day, the girls were boarded with a Caucasian lady during the week and Mama would go after them on Friday after work. I think Ayako and Fumiko were about two and four years of age then. They were so happy when Mama came after them, but cried on Sunday evening when they had to go back to their care giver. My parents felt so bad about this that they decided to take them back to their home in Japan until such time as they were in a better situation to bring them back again. I know Mom regretted this very much and in her later years often spoke to me of this.

Eventually they came to Seattle and opened a grocery store somewhere on Minor Avenue. This was during the early depression years. The store didn't do too well and they had to close down. In October, 1921 my brother, Kenny, was born and in 1922 my sister, Tsuyo, came from Japan to rejoin the family. My father had learned photography while in Seattle. So with his new vocation and addition to the family, he moved them all to Alaska to a small town called Petersburg.

[End Addendum]

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BK: So, now, where were you born?

JT: I was born in Petersburg and my brother was born in Seattle. So he was born in Seattle in 1921, I believe it was. And then after that, they went to Petersburg, apparently, 'cause I was born there in 1926, then...

BK: And your older sister had joined the family here in Seattle before you all went up to Petersburg?

JT: That's right, she did, uh-huh. I understand she came over when she was sixteen, and as I say in 1922, and so, and since she's so much older than I, me, she and my mother had secrets but I don't know anything about all that. They always, everything was kept from the little kids and my name was "Baby" for the longest time, they called me "Baby." So they always tried to protect us or always whispered when they were talking about things they thought I should not hear.

BT: So up in Petersburg, then, it was mom, your dad and your mother, and then your older sister and your brother...

JT: And my brother, uh-huh. Who must have, my brother must have been just in his early toddling age or something like that when they went to Petersburg, because I do have some pictures with him on the lap and I wasn't there, so it was before 1926 and after 1921. [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BT: Do you remember much about your life in Petersburg, growing up in Petersburg?

JT: Oh yes, well, I remember it was very carefree. We worked from an early age because I could work in the canneries, and I think I was working on the -- I don't know what they call the machine, but it's the machine that pops the cans open in the fish cannery -- so I was able to do that, work that machine. And I was, I think, thirteen at the time, so I was (hired) to do that. And we could also, we could work in the shrimp cannery almost anytime since our folks were there, we would just, we would just go in and help them out when we weren't in school, summer vacations and things like that. But, I thought it was great working in the fish cannery because I didn't have to mess around with the shrimp. [Laughs] They were, you'd get those little stickers in your fingers and you'd have little infections and you'd have to wait to get those cleared up and it was really kind of very tedious job. But it was a lot of fun at the same time. We enjoyed that we could mess around, play and somebody would start singing and it'd be round robin kind of singing, so it was fun for us. Work for them but fun for us. And then, of course, we started school there and went through -- until the war came -- we went through school. I was a freshman, I guess, I finished the freshman year, and then we came down.

BK: But prior to that, where did you live in Petersburg?

JT: Okay. Petersburg is a small town. I think the population at that time was like 1,500, and when I went up to visit it in 1946, it was still 1,500. [Laughs] And they just, it's just such a small town and you have to reach it by ship. You can go by airplane, too, but most of the time the Alaska Steamship Company traveled from Seattle to Petersburg and other towns along the way. So we traveled -- which I never did in my life until everything happened -- but they traveled by ship and it's located on the island so we're all surrounded by sea. And at that time when we wanted to go anywhere, we couldn't go all around the island -- you could ride a car but we never owned a car -- but you couldn't ride all around, clean around the island, because it was not, there was no road all the way around. But we were located on, near a pier that led to the cannery and on, the house was on pilings and it was on the beach. So the tide would come in and go out and when the tide was in, of course, we were up on top of the water and then when the tide went out, the beach was exposed so we did a lot of exploring on the beach, dirty though it was. [Laughs] It was not, there was not totally a complete sewer for people who lived along the beach, so I'm sure all the refuse was right into the water.

BK: But your particular place, and your particular, can you describe your actual living quarters?

JT: Oh, yes. Let me see... my folks had a hand laundry and my dad was a photographer. So the front part of the building faced, fronted on the street side where the water would come up to there, but was, and the house totally was on pilings and we could hear the water lapping underneath. But the street was on, was on the actual island part of it, on the mainland, a part of it. So the front part of the house fronted the land area and the back part of the house was over the water and the beach. So we had both. And the, our house had a tin roof -- I guess you call it tin -- because of snowfall. And when we were younger, we had a lot of snow and great deal fell. As we got older and when we came down here, it's just the weather is very much like Seattle now, I understand, and very little snowfall. But when we were little, we used to have great fun because the snow fell and the snowplow would come and pile the snow all in the middle of the street and we'd do all our sledding on the hills and try to avoid the street. But there wasn't that much traffic in those days anyway, so it was pretty safe. But we played King of the Hill on top of where they piled all the snow up and that was, that was one of our pastimes when it was snowing in the wintertime. And so I do remember that. And I even remember sliding down a hill one day and I hit a car, well, a car hit me -- it just grazed my hand. I don't know, for some reason it hit me on the arm but I didn't ever tell my folks about it 'cause I knew I'd be in big trouble and I really wasn't hurt. Scared me pretty good, so, but I wasn't hurt.

And then the front part of our house was dedicated to the business area and in the front part was, there were laundry equipment, like a big ironing table, two of them in the front and a mangle. And my job was to mangle, do the towels and do the sheets, and I'd put them through the mangle. And then my mother and dad did the hand ironing. And that was the front part of the house and we had a counter also across one of the ironing areas, and whenever customers came in for, to develop films, they'd just fill out all the information there and my dad would take the film. And as we went back further along into the house, there were... I should also say that upstairs of our business area we had little sleeping rooms, and they were rented out, I think there were about four of them. And we had fishermen who would live there or just people who came into town would live there, new people that didn't have any housings that they wanted to buy would live there and then they'd just go out and eat. Because we didn't have a cooking area, it was just strictly sleeping areas. And downstairs behind where we did the ironing and the other part where Mom and Pop did the ironing, we had a shower, two showers, and two baths which were open to the public and also family used, too. So the people upstairs would come down and bathe and there was a toilet facility upstairs but it was like a half-bath, there was no shower, just a basin and toilet bowl. So they were okay in that respect and then they come downstairs to take showers and then leave their laundry if they didn't want to do their own laundry. And then beyond that -- oh, and then on one side of the area where the folks washed their clothes, the floor was laid, cement floors, so that they could scrub that down. And on the other side was a nice warm room with a lot of lines in it where they hung the clothes up. And everything was strictly hand laundry.

And then behind, and then further back we had just our living quarters, which was basically just a sitting room and kitchen and a little pantry area. And the bedroom was upstairs beyond the rooms where, (where) the boarders lived, and that was one large bedroom where we all kind of stretched out the beds, ranch-style, you know. And then, and then on half of that area also was my dad's photo studio. And so that's where he took pictures and that was, I'd sit up there and kind of watch, peek and see what was going on up there. But that was pretty exciting, because when you wanted to come downstairs to the living area, they had a drop down door. You push it up when you go upstairs to get up there and when we came down we always had to hold it to bring it down and close it and that became part of the floor. So that was kind of a good hiding place for us. [Laughs]

BK: There was a lot of activity going on.

JT: A lot of activity, yes.

BK: You said that your job was to mangle. Then that means you helped out with the family business.

JT: Well, yeah, in just my little way 'cause I was probably just going into the teens about that time. And I didn't do any of the laundry, actual washing, because it was pretty heavy work and so I didn't have to do that and I was going to school and so they, I had an excuse to get out of that. But I did the mangling of towels and running the sheets through that and that was not difficult, just a matter of getting it in there and letting it go on its own. And then Mom and I would fold the sheets together and then they'd wrap them up there and had shelves and everybody's laundry was up there, I remember, stacked on the shelves and all had names on them as to who they belonged to. So, it worked out pretty well.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BK: In terms of the community, you had mentioned that it was a small town of Scandinavians, mainly. What other minorities were there besides the Japanese?

JT: Well, there were the Scandinavians, I'd say were mostly Norwegians, in fact, it was a Norwegian's town, I guess you'd call it. And the funny thing about that is that the gentleman who founded Petersburg was Peter Bushman, that was his name, and so I guess they named it Petersburg after Peter, whatever. And in later years I came to find out that my husband, who is a maintenance/gardener, worked for Egil Bushman who was the grandson of the founder of Petersburg. And I was never able to talk to him but that's what I found out. It was just, seemed so strange to find somebody or know someone who discovered our town or settled in Petersburg. And yes, but... so basically... and then, so...

BK: So in terms of the population of Petersburg, were there a lot of Asians?

JT: There were not too many Asians, I would say, maybe, six or seven families. And two of us were pretty close together. One lived right next door to us, and he had sort of a row house which had several rooms like six or seven cabins, we called them. And they had an outdoor facility right beside, behind their house. They had a little, the regular outdoor facilities with the little hole in the seat, for the seat. And I'm sure that there's no such thing as a sewer there, it kind of just dropped. And so, and then the front of that building, Susie's father had a restaurant and rooms upstairs also. So there was a restaurant next door to us on one side and on the other side -- as all over the town of Petersburg we had several taverns -- and next door to us was a beer parlor. It was called the Mitkof Beer Parlor and this great big man ran it. He was a very gentleman. He used to give me ice cream. The funny thing about it was that they had ice cream in the beer parlor so I was able to go through the back door and get an ice cream cone occasionally and potato chips which were very rare. And so in those days I think I was -- potato chips were a real treat -- so we would have potato chips and ice cream. [Laughs]

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BK: So, were there, did you have a lot of community events with the few Japanese families that were there?

JT: Not really, it was mostly Christmas and New Year's, oshogatsu for them. And at that time it was still a big event and everybody would travel house to house, just like they would do, I suppose, in Seattle, for instance. And everybody would join in and eat the food, and the men would have a few drinks, if anybody drank, and nobody really drank that much. So, but we'd always visit and wish everybody 'Happy New Year' and go around and eat the food.

BK: And you did have the whole New Year's Japanese spread?

JT: The whole New Year's, yeah, Japanese-style. When we were little, I remember we did that every year. And we had Christmas, they had Christmas trees for us and all that, and there was no such thing as a Buddhist Church or anything like that because the community was so small. Occasionally a minister from, wherever he came from, would come through and talk to them. And they'd arrange -- I don't know if it was Bible study -- but a few meetings with them and then go on. So they did, I'm sure, have some ties to the Buddhist religion and so it didn't make them completely, you know, away from it, didn't take them completely away from it. So they were fortunate in that respect.

BK: So the rest of the people, where did they go to church, the rest of the Japanese?

JT: The rest of the Japanese -- well, if they wanted to go to church, we had the Presbyterian Church, and there was a small Catholic Church, but nobody, they weren't really Catholics. And so, and the other church was the Scandinavian church would be the Lutheran Church where I attended Sunday school classes and catechism classes and things of that nature. But the folks didn't really go to either of those churches, so they just kind of didn't go to church in that way. They would, at New Year's, would put up the traditional omochi kazari and have the little cup of rice on the altar kind of thing although they didn't have an altar, they just put one up, a temporary type. So we did observe those things.

BK: Where did you get the omochi for New Year's Day and all the specialty Japanese foods?

JT: All the specialty foods was from, from Seattle, it was all imported. It had to be ordered and then came up by ship to Petersburg. So a lot of times the mochi would be kind of dry. And I remember when we were little we'd put, they used to put omochi in water to keep it. They'd cut it in squares -- or if they were already in squares but I think they had to cut it -- they would make omochi. And then the other types of supplies, rice and things, were all ordered from North Coast Company, I think here in Seattle. For many years, it was done that way. And I remember my mother made her own... what do you call it? Konnyaku? What is konnyaku anyway? [Laughs]

LH: That's the yam cake.

JT: Yam cake, that's right. I remember them doing that and they told me it was made partially from lye and I couldn't understand how come we're eating that. And I think there is something like that in there, I'm not sure, in the powder. But apparently it wasn't enough to kill you. [Laughs] So all the supplies had to come from Seattle.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

BK: Being from Japan, your parents came from Japan, did they stress much of the Japanese language at home?

JT: Well, that was one of the things that was missing. They spoke, they spoke Japanese among themselves, especially when they didn't want us to know something. But then my friend's mother, Mrs. Kaino, she had, she had books, she brought, ordered books, and then she would grab me by the ear and sit me down and say... you know those little books that used to have a nose and it would say hana underneath it and kuchi with the lips and mouth, and that mimi for ears, well, I started on those. I guess I did learn a little bit, but not a great deal. So there was, it wasn't a formal type of thing. But we learned a little bit, what the nose was. [Laughs] And we couldn't speak it, but we certainly understood, because, I guess because they spoke it all the time. My mother was very proficient in both English and Japanese, but of course, as time went on and when we got older and left Petersburg during the war era, things changed and pretty soon she'd forget her English. And so she never knew how to write but she could speak a little bit. And my sister was better, she went to night school after -- my oldest sister after she got, after they brought her here, or she was brought, she came by herself, I guess, actually -- and she went to night school so she was able to pick up the language. And so I tried to help my mother learn the English language and teach her alphabet and one thing or another. But it was a pretty hard job when you get a little bit older. [Laughs] It's difficult with sounds and everything. So she could write her name and things but beyond that she couldn't do too much in the way of reading and writing the English alphabet and language.

BK: And she really didn't, they didn't really stress that you must learn the Japanese language?

JT: No, they didn't, unfortunately. I learned a lot of it only when I got older and I lived with my husband and his family for a while, so they spoke a lot of Japanese and they were surprised how much I actually did learn through that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BK: Well, growing up in Petersburg -- being mainly a Caucasian community -- did you have any kind of feelings in terms of your own ethnic identity? Did you have any questions, any kind of feelings?

JT: No, I knew that I was Japanese, Japanese American, I guess you put it that way. And I always felt just like the rest of the kids that went to school. And there was some, there were Indians in Petersburg as well as the Japanese and I don't remember... there were no black people of color other than the Japanese. And the Indians, the local Indians there, I think, I think they were of the Tlingit tribe, and, but I never knew a black person. Oh, there was one Korean man there, I don't know how he got to be there but he was there and he was Korean. So he was the only Korean man I knew and the black persons were rare. If they came up, maybe one or so was there for a while. And I remember knowing, seeing one person there and knowing who he was but I don't know what happened to him. But there were no black people there. And so we mainly grew up among the natives and the Norwegians, and I'd go, we'd all go to the bazaars and things. The Norwegians were great for having bazaars and having all their native foods so that was interesting. But there was nobody to do anything for the Japanese except for the New Year's and things like that. They didn't really have many activities, no movies. The movies were all American and they used to go to those. But outside of that, not much activity, except visiting socially back and forth among the families, and their work.

BK: So at school, were most of your friends Caucasians?

JT: Uh-huh. They were all Caucasians and a few Indian kids. I used to belong to Salvation Army and there was this little group of girls called the Sunbeams and I was a Sunbeam. And I thought basically, "I think this is for Indian people," I remember thinking. But I was among them. I don't remember any Caucasians in there. And we had our little gray uniforms, and we had meetings, and we did different activities, and that was fun for us. And the Salvation Army was right nearby and so we used to, I used to go there for Sunday school occasionally, too. And as I got older then that's when I went up to the Lutheran Church and attended the adult services.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BK: Well, can you describe the relationships between Japanese and the other... the Scandinavians, and American Indians, the natives?

JT: The relationships were, well, it was really... we didn't go, the families didn't go visiting or things like that very much. They just kind of kept among themselves. But they would go to the local stores and all that type of activity, and they'd go shopping and it was no, no problem. And they got along fine. And my dad had a, he was pretty, he was pretty capable in English and his handwriting was just beautiful and so he was, got along just fine. He loved to frequent the card parlors so he learned a lot, I think. Maybe it was not always good, but he learned a lot that way, too. And through photography, he was, since he was the only photographer in town, he did the school annual pictures. And he didn't put the book together, but he did all the annual pictures and any class pictures and things like that that was necessary, unless the teachers took them and he developed their films and things like that. But he did all the graduations and whatever, have you, the wedding and things like that, he would do. In the old days, they had, they didn't have too much portable stuff so they'd come down to the house to have their pictures taken, so, unless he took a little camera but he never usually went to the weddings. They came down with their finery and changed their clothes upstairs and had their portraits taken there.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BK: Well, so then as we approach the 1941 time, do you remember much at all about December 7, 1941?

JT: No, but I was just talking the other night -- because I thought I'd better find out a little bit -- because I could not remember a thing about what happened. Except that I know that my father was taken right after Pearl Harbor day. And he was the first Issei Japanese to be imprisoned and he was held in the local jail. And then, must have been, oh, I don't know how long he was there, he was there by himself for a while before the local, the local... what do you call them? The local jailers or constable, I guess you would call him, came and they started picking up everybody -- all the Issei people, and they took 'em all to jail. And we were talking about how terrible that must have been for them because the jail actually was a residence and in back of the residence was this little 8 x 10 room for all these people. And I don't know how they housed them, had no idea. But my friend, Frank and I, we were talking about it the other night. And he said he remembers going past the jail and there's one little window there -- just like you see in the movies, a little barred window -- and they'd all wave from there when we were coming home from school. And so my mother and everybody was in there at that time.

BK: So first of all, your father was taken, and when you say Issei you mean the first-generation Japanese-born. So he was the first...

JT: First to go...

BK: ...first to go.

JT: ...first to be taken.

BK: Were you there at home when this occurred?

JT: I really can't remember clearly what happened at that point, whether I was home but I think I was 'cause I remember they came to the back door, this big burly sheriff, and he came to the back door and took my dad. And we had no idea that what was going on except that my mother had, we were, my mother and my sisters and all were speaking about the war, apparently. But we were not aware, we were not even near being aware of any war going on. Except the next day at school, Frank tells me that the announcement was made that America was at war and, with the Japanese. And he says he remembers the kids turning around looking at us, it was an assembly type of gathering. And I thought, oh, that's what it was all about. So the, and then we went home from school at that time and when Frank got home, he told me that he says the neighbors came and said, "Frank, you'd better go to the local jailhouse because that's where your mother and dad are, they're in jail." So he learned about it that way. But when my mother and sister went and my brother-in-law went, you know, they took them all, and my mother was crying, and my sister was crying, and they all went. And my sister had little children so she left her oldest daughter with me and she was about four, five at the time, I guess. And she had to take, she had a little one that was about three. And another little babe in arms, whom she took with her to the jail house because she said she wasn't, "I wasn't able to take care of them," and that she would be able to feed them and everything there because she was breast-feeding. And so they went with her.

BK: So they took men, women, and children, to jail.

JT: And children, uh-huh. Well, it was only her children because they were so little. The other kids were more my age -- well, they weren't even my age -- they were more elementary school, ten, seven, somewhere around there. And so they left, since I was the oldest -- I was at that time about fourteen, I think I was -- and they left them with me. And so I had to house them and feed them. And I just remembered them telling me that, "You don't know how to cook, this doesn't taste like my mother's food." [Laughs] And I said, "Well, it isn't your mother's food." And I just told them to shut up and eat. [Laughs]

BK: How did you feel with this kind of change, this massive change?

JT: I really didn't really have any feelings, I was just kind of just stumbling along, and I was just afraid. And my oldest, my niece -- whom I had with me -- in the middle of the night, she began this croup. And if you know croup, they have this bark type cough that is just so terrible. I couldn't imagine what was wrong with her and I didn't know anything about croup at that time, so I just kept her warm and did what I could for her. Gave her water and the next day we didn't even go to a doctor or anything because I just didn't know anything about it and she fortunately was able to get over it by herself. And then as the time progressed which was when they -- I think it was -- the women were not in too very long. The men, they took the men and the women together, according to Frank, but the men they sent out right away. I guess they went to, we don't really know, at that moment, they didn't know where they were going. And when we learned later, someone was able to call the Red Cross or something like that, to find out where they were. But we really didn't know that until we got down into Puyallup area 'cause they, that they were in Lordsburg, taken to Lordsburg, New Mexico.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BK: Let's just, if you can kind of go back, and if we can take it day by day. Your entire family, the adults, were taken to jail. You were left in charge of two, three children...

JT: Uh-huh, about seven children.

BK: Right. What happened? Could you go through a typical day? Did you go to school? Did you...

JT: I think I... I don't remember clearly, but I think I went to school. Well, no, I couldn't go to school, I couldn't go to school. Because my father went first and then when the rest of them were taken, it must have been -- as Frank says -- it must have been close to the time when we were being, going to be evacuated from Petersburg. Now he, that's what he's surmising and it seems to make sense to me, because they, because it was soon after that they we... when they went to jail, then the men were separated from the women at that point and they were shipped on ahead to go on to the internment camps. And so then the women came home, which was in a matter of about a week. So within that time, week's time, this all occurred, that they took the men. And my father was the very first to go, and he was in there, I imagine, about a month before they picked up the rest of the people. And it was still early in the year, beginning of the year, well, it was after December of course. Because I understand that we left Petersburg on April 12th of 1942. And so the women were able to come home after about a week. But in the meantime they had arranged to hire this, the wife of the foreman of the cannery who came in and cooked for us but we were on our own otherwise. But she came in and cooked for us. And Frank says he remembers that she was very hostile at the time and it was just not a great atmosphere. Things were just gloom, doom and gloom around that time. And then the men were all shipped back and within the end of that week, they sent our folks, mothers home to prepare, to get us ready to go to Puyallup -- or to the internment camps.

BK: I see.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

BK: There was an interval. Your father was taken soon after December 7th. Why do you think he was one of the early ones to be picked up?

JT: Well, we think... we think, and talking and thinking back on it, we think it was because he was a local photographer. And for some reason I think they think that he was passing information by photographs and things, to whom I don't know, the Japanese government I would assume, is what they thought. And prior to that, the folks would get Japanese radio programs on shortwave radio. So my father had erected -- in the back of our house down on the beach -- a very high tall long antenna. And that was so that we could get the reception better. He'd put wires up to the antenna and so his, the radio reception was much clearer. But I think the local townspeople were very aware of that. My sister tells me that she knows, and heard, and saw, that somewhere, in the middle of the night, one night, there were several townspeople down there digging around the pole and seeing what connection there might be or see if there was any type of access or whatever we had to other radio types of things that he could send messages with. And that's what I'm assuming the whole thing was about, that they thought he was passing information on about the area and all that. Which would be, I could understand it 'cause we were pretty close to being the polar route to Japan and all that sort of thing. So I'm sure they must have thought he was a spy of some sort and passing this information on. So we feel that he was singled out that way.

BK: I see. And did you ever see your father, once he was taken away?

JT: Never saw him again until, well, I said a year and a half I think previously, but in the overall picture it was about two years before we were able to see, before he was released to join us. And at that time, about that time, 'course, we were in Minidoka, so he came to Minidoka and stayed with us then after that.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

BK: But going back to Petersburg and your father was taken away right away, did your life... and then you went to school the next day, Monday. And there was this large assembly.

JT: Uh-huh. At which time they announced that America was at war.

BK: What was the attitude of other fellow students and teachers towards you and your other friends of Japanese descent?

JT: Well, we didn't feel that very much except that when the announcement was made, everybody, all the students would turn around to see what our reaction was, I'm sure. And, I don't think we stayed in school much further beyond that. I think we just stayed at home, and we didn't -- because then our folks were taken, and one thing led to another, and I don't think we ever returned to school again.

BK: So you, did your mother still continue with the laundry business and all of that while your father was in jail?

JT: Yes, they did whatever they could, you know, but it was very difficult. And I don't remember just how much business there was beyond that point, 'cause I wasn't really involved in anything. And I think it was just, when they learned, when they got out of jail and everything, they knew that they were going to be sent away, they had learned they were going to be sent away. So they were busy with trying to take care of the house and pack up household goods and do with the business what they could -- which was nothing, actually. Actually what happened was we just packed up everything, got up, and just left. And we were able to take a little bit more than people, I guess, according to my husband, people in Seattle were allowed a suitcase each or something like that. At the beginning, they were very tight about it, but I understand that as the evacuation wore on and they were taking more people out, they were a little more lenient with it. They just took whatever they packed up, they took as much as they could carry and then went on to camp and they didn't make them leave it there or anything. So, so we just packed up everything and we had no one to tie... my brother was in Seattle, going to school, and he couldn't, they would not let him, allow him to come back to Alaska so we just were able to pack up what we could. And there was one young fellow there who was married to a Nisei, one of us, and so he helped a little bit but he had his hands full with their family, so we were basically on our own.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BK: Let me back up again a little bit to... I know at an earlier time, you had shared a story about the last time that you had seen your dad in Alaska.

JT: Uh-huh. Yes, that was when I used to go home from school, and he'd wave to me through the windows, you know, of the jail. And when he was in there at the beginning, it was the most difficult time because it was just, he was all by himself and I just couldn't understand why he was there. And so he would wave to me when I came back from school. And it was just, kinda, I guess you'd call it embarrassment or whatever and I just would run past that window and I'd wave to him and run. And I don't know why I didn't have enough guts to go up to the window and talk to him... excuse me. [Cries] And to this day I just regret that. And of course, when everyone else went it was more understandable, to me, anyway. He wasn't alone and they were there, too, so it just, it wasn't as difficult then. But what my mother and my sister... because I thought, well, they just can't keep them there forever. What are they gonna do? At that time anyway, my dad and the men were gone, they sent them on ahead. So it was a little easier.

BK: But because he was the first one taken and you had nobody else --

JT: No idea.

BK: No idea as to why he was taken...

JT: Uh-uh. The women wouldn't talk much about it, and I don't think they knew exactly what was going on either and they were just frightened and scared. As Frank says, they were just too scared to even think about things, except getting us ready to go. So, so...

BK: So actually that was the last time you saw your dad, was when he was waving from the jail.

JT: That was the last time I saw my father, uh-huh, uh-huh, the last time I was, waving from the jail. This was several days he would do this to me and I didn't do that until they took them, sent the men away and I would find, much to my shame now, I would find myself going to school in a different route, and so I wouldn't have to see him like that. And then, of course, they all left so it wasn't quite as difficult. And they did release the women after that, and we didn't need to keep our housekeeper or whatever you want to call her, cook. She was there with us, but she was not there because of choice, but they did have to pay her, of course. And they put up a collection to pay her for caring for us, but that wasn't -- it lasted probably about a week only. And then soon after that, of course, we were evacuated in April. So that must have been in March, they were there until March... I mean, they weren't there until April, but they were there in March and then, and then... see, my father was first, and then they picked up the men, women and then the men were separated and then about the time the women were all released it was probably March, we assume. We're not really sure of the month but we assume it was March because we just had enough time to pack everything up and dispose of the house, which we didn't do. We just put things up what we call, in the attic and stored it away and just closed up the house, basically. And the foreman of the cannery, a man named Mr. Ohmer, was to take care and look after the houses, but as Frank says, he understands, it was just not a very good job. The houses were rented out and who knows who got the rent, and one thing and another. It was just taking advantage of a good thing, what you would call. And the house was in disarray, of course, when everybody wanted to return home. But they were able to fix it up 'cause I never came home with them. I mean, as years passed, of course, I got old enough to stay by myself and stay down in Seattle with my husband's family at that time.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BK: If you could kind of transport yourself back to the time that you had to pack up the things. Do you remember what kinds of things you felt that you had to take with you, as you knew you were leaving on this next journey?

JT: Well I, there wasn't really anything really dear to me that I wanted, that I could take with me. And all the things, now that I think about it, my Shirley Temple dolls and my games and whatever, oh, scrapbooks that I collected. I wish now those scrapbooks instead of being scrapbooks of movie stars I wish I could have, would have kept more a journal type thing of my life. [Laughs] But it was so insignificant at the time, that, you know, who wants to write about what you do every day. But when we were youngsters we used to collect or cut out pictures of our favorite movie stars and have our Shirley Temple dolls, and my bicycle, and those are the things that I was mostly concerned about. Bicycles and toys, skates and things like that. And I think when we were growing up in that time, we were babied so much and since I was the youngest in the family, I was never, never entered any family conversations. And I never, I could do whatever I want and I wasn't very disciplined. So I really didn't have anything significant that I would treasure so much, and except everything, and I tried to put everything I could into my suitcase. But...

BK: Do you remember a particular item that you took with you?

JT: You know, I really don't, I really don't remember anything. I can't remember a thing that was really that was precious to me. And I think I need a kleenex. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 17>

BK: What were your last memories of Petersburg as you left? How were the townsfolk?

JT: The townsfolk that came out... nobody came out. That was another thing that just irritated me was the fact that nobody came out to say, "Is this necessary? Do you have to, do you have to separate these people?" [Cries] And the people who came down to see us off were mostly the Indian friends that I had. They came down. And it was harder on them than it was for us because we were going on, as I say. To us kids it felt like an exciting adventure. But they were just crying and having a hard time but I didn't see any of my other friends who came down to see us off. So I really don't have too good feelings about that.

And my brother, too, when -- although he wasn't there -- in later years I talked to him and he said he was just not happy when we went back for, to get my father, I think it was, who had become very ill. He went back to pick him up and be with him. Nobody would even speak to my brother. He said it was so, it was so disagreeable. He got along fine with everybody during school days, but when he went back after the war to get my father and bring him down to Seattle to medical help, nobody would help him, nobody would talk to him. He was just so happy to leave. So when I look at all that, I think I figure now that it was pretty much, they just, they didn't want any part of us, they didn't want us back. But, after the war when everyone did go back, it was, they bought a home, because, as Frank says, his home was all trashed so they were able to get another home. I don't know if they rented it for a while, but anyway it became their home and things were better. But at the very beginning, they just didn't want you to come back there because your jobs were their jobs and nature, the same type of things that would happen anywhere. And so they had a very rough time for a while. But it was, it took several years before things got settled down again. But I know my brother said he'd never go back to Petersburg again and so he wasn't too happy about that. Although in later years, we did go back for one high school reunion, which was fun, but that's about it. I mean, I don't think that I would want to go back and live there again. The friends that I thought were my friends were no longer that cordial. They were nice during the reunion but they just weren't very cordial. Or, we had maybe one party where we went to, my girlfriend's house. But when I went out to Washington, D.C. -- this was much after the war -- but I remember calling up one of my girlfriends, close girlfriends. And I thought the least she would have said, "Why don't we get together for lunch or something," but there was nothing like that. It just really frosted me so I just didn't bother after that either.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

BK: Well, you're on the troop ship now and you come down. Where did they bring you?

JT: They brought us into Seattle, and I don't remember where we docked even. It might have been out on Pier 90, or whatever that naval port is out there. I'm not sure where we docked. But they had buses which transported us then to Puyallup, Assembly Center in Puyallup, yes, and that's where we were, that was our home for a while. And they had different areas in Puyallup and we were in Area A. And until that time, my brother didn't know anything much about us. And he didn't know where to look for us, or... but I'm sure he was able to find... he was in Area D, I believe it was, where the stadium is and the grandstand was. He was there so I'm sure he must have gone into the office and found out where we were located and told them that we had come down. And it was, and so it was in that respect... he lived over there all the time and we were in Area A, and he stayed in Area D, and so, but we did get to see him and everything.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BK: What were your impressions, your very first impressions, once you got to Puyallup?

JT: Once we got into Puyallup, after we got settled down, it was all very big-time stuff. [Laughs] It was exciting in that respect and I said, gosh, when we first got in there we saw all these Japanese people and we, who had lived in a town of seven families or eight families, couldn't imagine that many Japanese people all in one spot at one time. It was just amazing to me. And we lived up in the very last row, I think it was Eleventh Avenue -- they called it by avenues -- and I think we lived up on Eleventh Avenue which was the very last row of barracks in Puyallup. But at the front, there was a gate there where people could come and visit. And people from outside Seattle, Caucasian or whatever they were, whomever they were, would come in and ask to see certain people. And then they'd send a runner up and say, "There'd be someone at the gate who'd like to see you." But the only ones that came to see us were the people who'd liked to see people, kids and people who came to see... people who came from Alaska or who lived in Alaska, and they wanted to see what these "Eskimos" looked like and what they lived in. And they thought we all lived in igloos so we were, see, we were called down there sometimes and I'd say, "Well, forget it, I'm not going down there." [Laughs]


LH: So people actually thought that...

JT: They wanted to see an Eskimo, yeah. At that point, I guess we weren't as expanded as we are now and know a little bit more about other people.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

LH: Weren't some actually Indians brought down, too?

JT: Yeah, they were. There was this one family -- well, I don't know if the family, it was just the boys and I think their name was Foode, F-O-O-D-E. And I think their mother was Japanese and they were part Eskimo, and part Japanese and they looked pretty Eskimo to me. [Laughs] But they had to come down, I don't know why, there were three, two that I remember, and I think there was a third one. But one was a pretty good-looking kid and I remember all the girls were kind of... you know.

BK: Ga-ga?

JT: Yeah, ga-ga over him.

LH: Did the mother come down with them?

JT: No, that's the funny part of it. Only the boys came down. Maybe there wasn't a mother and father anymore, is what I was thinking. 'Cause they were just young guys by themselves, and one was pretty burly. But this one kid was a pretty good-looking guy. He looked more Hispanic than anything else to me. He was dark and pretty handsome but I know several, several girls that were chasing him. [Laughs] And I don't know, I think they probably went back to Alaska. I don't know, ever know what happened to them.

BK: Because, were they held very long in Puyallup?

JT: In Puyallup, and then I don't know what happened to them after Puyallup was closed. That's the part I really don't know. And I never heard of them again. And then there was Bill Sato and his sister Mabel and they were, they appeared to me more... Bill looked more Indian to me, his father, of course, was Nihonjin. And Mabel, she was almost kind of olivey skinned and different. She was quite... not a really beautiful girl, but an attractive person, very quiet where Bill was big and... big. Unlike a Japanese, he was tall and thin and boisterous, just a really fun guy. And I think they went back to Alaska. She, I think, is in Europe, married a professor or something like that, and she's very smart. She's in France, as I understand it, but Bill, I don't know where he is. I think, kind of think he's in Alaska again. That was interesting. I haven't seen them forever. And then the Kimura family lived in Anchorage and they're back there again, too, as I understand it. They had a dry cleaning shop, I think, and maybe a laundry, too, a pretty large laundry in Alaska.

BK: So were you all in Puyallup?

JT: Yeah, they were all in Puyallup, uh-huh. They were all in Puyallup together.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

BK: What do you remember about Puyallup?

JT: Oh, I remember that it was all barracks and tarpaper roof and everything, that type of a barrack, and kind of ship lap floors that were kind of wide cracks in between. And the walls did not extend all the way up to the ceiling and they were not insulated in any way, of course. I guess it was temporary so therefore it was just very temporary structure, too. And we could hear everything that went on because we could hear the bed squeak, and the arguments. I could hear my neighbor's arguments and they'd have big arguments next door to us. And it was not at all private, so that was interesting. And then the beds were all filled with this... mattress ticking was filled with straw, and so they would poke you along the way when you're sleeping at night. It just wasn't a very comfortable place. And our meals were in a common mess hall, of course. And the food, as I remember it, was Vienna sausages and mutton stew. Bad news. [Laughs] Mutton was terrible, it smelled so bad. And we'd take showers in a communal shower room and you'd have to go out and go to a shower place where they had shower rooms and laundry tubs. So we used to go there. But when it rained, it was terrible. We'd wear getas -- those getas are about two inches high, I guess -- and the mud was so muddy. I remember one time that the thong broke on that was holding your toe and that held onto the geta, and I stepped right into the mud and was ugh, it was terrible that way. And it was smelly, too, because it was a fairgrounds, is what it was, so it was not a pleasant place. In the summertime, I don't know if summer or what, but there was some sunshiney weather. Let's see, it was April so we must have gone through the summer, too. And then it was later that we went on into Minidoka. I don't really remember what month that we went to Minidoka.

BK: It may have been more like September.

JT: Yeah, I think so. I think it was about September. Because when we got there, we immediately had to go to school at the center there.

BK: Did you not go to school in Puyallup?

JT: Uh-uh.

BK: What was a typical day like?

JT: Let's see, did we go to school in Puyallup? I don't think we did in Puyallup because there was no facility for that. And then everybody was divided in different areas so I don't think we were there very long before we went on to Minidoka.

BK: What did you do every day in Puyallup?

JT: Every day in Puyallup, we just played, but mostly we played baseball. Oh, and I remember early in the morning, we'd get up at 5:30 in the morning and a whole bunch of us would get out in the free space and some people led calisthenics out there and that was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed that one. It was kind of fellowship and then getting some exercise there and that was fun. We met a lot of people that way. I didn't, we didn't know -- we knew nobody down there, so it was a matter of getting used to people. And since my brother was from the big city, he used to tell me, "Okay," he says, "You watch out for that guy," or, "You watch out for this guy." And I said, "No big deal. Just leave me alone." [Laughs] But, so it was a lot of fun and games. We had dances and things like that in the mess hall, I guess occasionally, but not often there. It was more after we got to Minidoka that we had all the social things going on. So the calisthenics was really an outlet for a lot of that.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

BK: And so do you remember then how were you told when you were going to be going to another place?

JT: You know, I don't remember how we were told, but they said it's just all of a sudden... they must have come around to tell everybody is all I can think of is that we had to pack up again because we were going to another camp. And before that, though, I had met Mits when I was working in the mess hall. You know George Kawaguchi Travel Bureau Agency? Well, we used to go out with a bunch of kids that involved George and several other fellows and girls, and he introduced me to Mits. And so that's where I met Mits, in Puyallup like that. And he used to come over on a truck, and I don't know what he did but that's where I met him, in the center. Then we went... then we were told, informed somehow or other, I think it was like a block representative at a meeting telling us that we were going to -- they would be moving us to a permanent-type, temporary camp, for the duration apparently. So we had to pack up again and we went on a train, this time to Idaho. But prior to that, Mits was telling me that he was going to go on an advance crew to help build the camp. But it wasn't actually building it. I think it was doing a lot of finishing things and just going out to get it ready for all the people to come out there. So he went on ahead and, but I wasn't really worried about that 'cause we weren't that together at that point. It was just a friendship and then he was saying he was going to go on ahead.

So then I don't remember the month we went, but I'm sure it was just prior to the beginning of school, because when we got there, we were immediately going to school. And our school was -- we moved it must have been a little bit early because our school, when we got there was, we were assigned to Block 23 and that became the school. So then from Block, what we call Block 23, we had to move quite a distance down, and we moved to Block 6 which was near to where Mits was living at that time. So that was okay by me. [Laughs] Except that in the summertime, we'd walk to school. Hot, it would be hot and the dust was like -- there was nothing there before and the dust was very fine and sifted in through all the windows and was just really bad. Dust storms would come up, and so we suffered through that in the summertime, and it was very hot. And then wintertime came, and then you had freezing rain and hail and sleet and snow, all of it. And so it was just from one extreme to the other in Idaho. And we'd walk through the sleet and as Mits told, I think he told you before that he used to kind of put his big coat around us both and we'd walk to school that way.

And so that's where I guess we got most of our high schooling, 'cause I was in, by that time I was in the second year of high school which would be sophomore in those days. I don't know how they say it now. But, so we went to school there. School was fun because it wasn't -- I guess it was because we didn't take it that seriously, therefore I don't think we learned as much either. I mean, we didn't pay much attention and -- I didn't, never skip school -- but I just don't feel that I got as thorough an education as I would like to have had. Although the teachers were very good. I can say that's where I got a lot of my secretarial skills, shorthand, and part of our teachers were, what do you call them, assistants, TA's, I guess, teacher assistants, and there were a lot of the Japanese people from the community who were in that field, I guess. I don't believe they were certified teachers but they were teacher's assistants. And they did most of the teaching as far as I could see. But we did have a lot of fun there. And then since I was about, not quite sixteen at the time, I just, they didn't ask me so I didn't tell them I wasn't sixteen so I was able to work, 'cause you can't work until you're sixteen. You couldn't work until you were sixteen in camp. But I just went ahead and got a job as a waitress and I worked up in the main administration area. It was up on the top of a hill, I can't remember what block it would be, but it was the administrative area and I was in the mess hall there. I was a waitress in the mess hall at that time.

BK: And this was to serve the camp administrators?

JT: The camp administrators were there, so we had pretty good food there. [Laughs] Beyond the Vienna sausages and the stews and things it was pretty good. And it was a nicer, just a nicer atmosphere, smaller, there weren't as many people. And so the cook was much better and the chef -- he was considered a chef almost -- and so in that way it was very nice, I was able to have meals.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

BK: So you were going to school?

JT: I was going to school...

BK: And this was your part time job.

JT: Yeah, and then worked in summertime, I worked in the mess hall. And then eventually, since we moved down to Block 6, then I think I went to work at the hospital. That's what it was. And I got a job at the hospital. I was first a tray girl and they have on these little pink uniforms, pink pinafores, I guess. And we took trays around to the patients in the hospital. And that was fine, I enjoyed that, too. And eventually then I got to know all the doctors and hung around the hospital a lot, so I got to become Dr. Akamatsu's secretary, doctor's secretary.

BK: And is this once you had graduated, that you became the secretary or was this also...

JT: Yeah, uh-huh. And see, Mits had graduated that year before me and then he left camp. He went out to work in, to work in the beet places, sugar beet farms, and bucking potatoes, and a lot of work. And so then I remained behind in school. But since I wanted to get out early, so that when he did come into camp, I could be with him, and just to hang out together. So I left school before graduation at that mid-term. You know how they could graduate early? So that's what I did. And I'm really sorry to this day that I didn't take part in the commencement exercises either, because we were out at that time. I can't remember if we were in Ogden or somewhere like that 'cause I went out to Ogden from camp, went out to Ogden on seasonal work. We went out and we did tomato plants. We didn't pick them, we processed them, we were in a tomato and a peach cannery. And that was okay, too, 'cause we lived in the city of Ogden. We had a room in the slum area, you might say, where rent wasn't quite so... probably wasn't the slum area, but was not the most desirable area. But it was in a Japanese establishment, so we felt, well, that would be okay. So we got a room there and that would be Mits' sister Pauline, and must have been Pauline, Yoshi and myself.

BK: And when was this?

JT: And that would be in 1944 after school, after finished high school.

BK: You had finished high school, you left camp early?

JT: Well, we left camp... this was seasonal work so we just went out for then summer and worked in the cannery and when that was over we came back to camp again, and then I'd be working at the hospital or something after that. And then that went on for quite some time and then in 1945, summer of 1945, Pauline was -- Mits' sister -- was planning to go to nursing school and she was accepted and was scheduled to go that fall. Was that June? About June I think was. They had the summers that she would start... but then it came that somehow it came necessary, that she said that it was all full and they notified her and said that she would not be able to start until the fall quarter. So that's when we went out to Minneapolis. She said, "I'm gonna go anyway," she was just angry and she was crying. I said, "Well," I says, "You could wait." She said no, she said, "I'm going to Minneapolis. You wanna go?" And so I thought, "Yeah, I'll go, too." Mits was gone into the service at that point. And so I thought, well, there was nothing else to keep me there, sort of, to speak, and so she and I went out to Minneapolis in the summer of 1945.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BK: Before we can leave camp, because we've already left camp, if I can bring you back to camp, because I think that... I'm really curious, you were what, sixteen, seventeen years old? What was the social life like in camp?

JT: Oh, the social life was just wonderful. [Laughs] I think they had dances every weekend and they have girl's dances because so many of the fellows at that point were beginning to go into the service. And so we had girl's dances and girls dancing with each other and that was pretty much fun. But we had a lot of dances and they had, they did have movie theaters in certain areas. They have a movie theater, but I didn't go much to the movies 'cause I was always working and messing around at the hospital afterwards even though I wasn't on working time. It was kind of a social area.

BK: Where did they have these dances?

JT: They had the dances in the mess halls. There were mess halls among every block and so I don't know how they determined where they were going to have them but each mess hall would have dances at various times. We just stuck around to the ones that were closest to us, which would be like Block 8 or wherever. And they had a recreation area also, but that was more like crafts and things of that nature so it wasn't good for dancing. So we just took over the mess halls and they moved the tables aside and we just had a grand time.

BK: So were these dances then open to everybody in camp?

JT: Oh yes, you could go to any of the dances that you want to as long as you want to walk that far, because some of them would be way up.

BK: But this way you had a chance, then, to meet some of the other...

JT: Meet a lot of the other kids, yes. We made a lot of -- I mean, if I thought Puyallup had a lot of people when we went to camp -- they were all together in one area so it was, it was very large, really. I don't know how many thousands there were there but there were a lot of people there. But to me, it was great fun. [Laughs]

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

BK: And as far as dating, where would youngsters go out on a date?

JT: Well, mostly, mostly to dancing and just running around. I don't know what -- I can't really remember what we, we just kind of stuck together and we'd go... well, there were baseball games and things like that. We used to just -- they had organized sports teams and basketball and things like that so we would go to the games, well, baseball, of course, was outdoor. Basketball I think they had in the recreation areas, I'm not sure about where they had basketball 'cause I didn't pay much attention to basketball. They didn't have football, either, really. And then in the wintertime we used to go skating on the irrigation ditches, which was rather dangerous. And I remember one point Mits had fallen in and he got pretty cold and got pretty wet. But he was fortunate because there were a lot of accidents in that irrigation ditch. It had swift undertows and I know that several children drowned. So I didn't really like -- I didn't go swimming, I don't know how to swim, that's one thing -- swim proficiently anyway -- so I just stayed away from that. But we did go skating and that was fun in the wintertime. If you had skates, and somehow or another we all had shoe skates at that time, so we were able to go skating and that was fun, I think.

BK: Being able to carry only limited things with you to camp, where did you get all of the special equipment, the special clothing?

JT: Well, I don't know how other kids did, but I think they all wore their jeans and at that time most of the boys were wearing those engineer-type boots because it was so dusty and everything. But we all had... I brought my things from home and I don't know where the other people got theirs. But there were a lot of skaters out there, it surprised me there were a lot of skaters out there. And yet, not everybody knows how to ice skate either, so it was kind of nice, just enough to make it fun. And then when it got cold, we'd roast potatoes out there and stuff, if we could find some potatoes and have a fire. Hot potatoes are really great when you're cold in the wintertime.

BK: When would young people find privacy?

JT: Well, that was the difficult part. There was just no privacy at all, so I think they probably went behind a barrack or something where there wasn't another barrack facing them. And they warned you not to go out too far because you could get -- they had ticks in the bushes -- and you could get lost if you went far enough. I mean, there were several men, older men, who'd go after that wood, grease wood they called it, and make various shaped things and canes. And I know that several men got lost out there so it was kind of dangerous. But I never went that way because I don't like to go out where there are bugs and ticks and all that sort of thing so we stayed just close to the home and we just go to the movies. And when nobody was home, we'd be home. [Laughs] Things like that, places like that but there really wasn't that many places to go to be alone, so to speak. And some of the older fellas might have had their own units but you didn't go there anyway, so I don't know where they all went. And then, of course, when the war broke out, a lot of the girls or guys who were old enough, they married right away -- due to circumstances they didn't want to be separated -- so a lot of the older, younger older Nisei would, got married just before evacuation, I know that. So, but we weren't in that age at all but I know that that was a fact. If you had a boyfriend, they got married because they didn't want to be separated and there were a lot of marriages like that.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BK: So then when did Mits join the army?

JT: I think that was in August of 19... oh see, that was 1944, I think it was. He was among one of the few, well the first selective service fellows that was called up for service.

BK: He was drafted?

JT: He was drafted, uh-huh. He was thinking of volunteering, but then he figured, oh heck, he would just wait 'til he got drafted, which was right after he got out of school, of course, high school. He was not quite almost eighteen then. So he would be eighteen in October so school gets out in June or so, so he was drafted almost immediately. And he was in Fort Shelby, Camp Shelby, I mean, for his basic training, he went there for his basic training.

BK: And where is that?

JT: That's in Mississippi and he said it was so hot. When it rained, it didn't just rain, it just came down in sheets. And so he got his basic training in Mississippi, Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Let's see... what else was I thinking?

BK: Because you had graduated at the beginning of 1944.

JT: Uh-huh.

BK: And he left...

JT: He left in, that's right -- oh, he graduated in '43, I'm sorry, 1943. I graduated in '44. So then he was inducted into the service soon after that, and I believe it was August, 1943. And so then he got six weeks or so of basic training, whatever it was, in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Uh-huh, in Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

BK: So he was gone by the time you graduated in mid-term and then that's when all of your different work experiences started to occur.

JT: Uh-huh, that's right, exactly.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

BK: During this time in camp, who lived in your particular unit? It was your mother...

JT: It was my mother and...

BK: And you.

JT: Yes, and where was my brother? He was there, too, 'cause he built, I remember he built a table. He's kind of like my father, he was pretty handy when he wanted to be. So he built a table for us, and that type of thing. And so whenever we could, we would cook a little bit extra, not extra, but something more to their taste if they were lucky enough to get the ingredients to do that. And in camp in Minidoka, if you got a pass, you were able to go outside to Jerome or Twin Falls for excursions or shopping. You were supposed to go out for just... well, I guess they just let you out if you were able to get a pass and that was the whole thing about it. It wasn't -- you could do whatever you wanted to. But I remember we just went out because we went to this No Delay Cafe which had chicken, really good chicken, so everybody would talk about that so we went out there to have chicken. But we didn't do that very often 'cause you got -- if you worked you got twelve dollars a month, I think it was. So, so it didn't go that far. But it was fun to get out there and get away. And so several of the people would do housework. Girls used to go to housework and they lived in and around Jerome. So that was nice, too, they were able get out. But I never went out for that type of thing. [Laughs] It was okay because a lot of them had sisters and the sisters would go out together and they had somebody to go with, and that worked out well for them.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

BK: So during this time, where was your father?

JT: My father at that time was... he came back, yeah, he came back, and so I guess we have to back up a ways, 'cause it was while I was working in the hospital that he came back and he was able to get a job as a cook in the hospital.

BK: But prior to this, where was he?

JT: He was still, he was still in Lordsburg, New Mexico. And I think my brother-in-law came home first. And I don't remember what month even this all was, but my brother-in-law came home and came directly to camp, and then he started to working and we resumed, they resumed, my sister... we lived in one room here, and then they lived in the barrack behind us so we were really close, and so she was able to resume her family life again. And then my dad came home a little later after that. And instead of coming directly home, he went, somehow or other went up through Canada, and my brother-in-law was just incensed, and I don't know how he ever found out about it. I think we were expecting him home just almost anytime but then when he didn't come home when he was supposed to -- which I guess my brother-in-law knew -- he came back -- when he did come in, he told us he was in Canada. And my brother-in-law just got so, mad because he said, "You're an alien there," and he could have been detained up there for the rest of who knows when. And so he was -- but he'd already had his little visit outside of the area and then he came into camp, and then became employed as a cook at the hospital.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

BK: During the time that you folks were separated, did you have any contact with your father while you were in Puyallup, Minidoka, and he was in New Mexico?

JT: I think I might have written him a few letters, not too many, I think, in Lordsburg. And he'd write back occasionally, but I don't remember receiving too many letters. We did hear -- I can't remember how we heard -- but we heard that when he was Lordsburg, he became seriously ill with a kidney failure type of thing. So the army doctors sent him to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for his... they had to have an infected -- removed his kidney and part of another, so he had just enough to function on, I think you might say. And, but he recovered from that okay, and that was just before he came home. He came back from Lordsburg into Minidoka. And I just can't remember what year that was when they came back, when everybody came back. I talked to Frank about it and he says that part is a blank for him, too, he said. But it was prior to leaving and we left in 1945, wasn't it? I believe, '45, camp I think it closed down.

BK: If you can remember back, how was it to have your father back into your life again?

JT: Well, it just seemed pretty natural. He was, course, very, more than happy, ecstatic to be back again and join the family. And he just, we kind of just all, it just kind of all blended together. But I think it wasn't too long before actually, before camp closed, which was in 1945, so we didn't have too much, we didn't have too much time together in camp. But I remember he was there for a while because the living situation had to be expanded a little bit. [Laughs] And he worked as a cook, as I say, and so, so we were all, then my sister's family was together, and our family was together and my brother was there, too -- what little we saw of him. He was gone so much of the time that I didn't see him all that much.

BK: What changes did you note in your father?

JT: My father was... well, I think he was more carefree. As my mother would say, he was not a person who really liked work all that much. [Laughs] He would rather be out playing with the fellows or I wouldn't say he was a playboy because he had to work to keep the family going, but he was very glad to be out and just seemed to settle -- he liked his job a lot, too. He liked that cooking and he was well enough to continue doing that, and his operation was all very successful. And so he just fit right back into the family life again. And he was happy when he was with the grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, and he'd take care, play with them. And he and my sister's oldest daughter, they're just baseball freaks so all they could talk about when they got together was... Rose knew all of the batting averages of different players and the two of them would get together. I hated baseball at that point. But my dad loved baseball. From the time we were little, I remember him listening to the radio and I couldn't listen to my favorite programs like the Hit Parade and all that type of stuff. So baseball to me was just a nuisance. [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

BK: But your father did come back and stayed just for a few months, it sounds like, before you then left?

JT: Before, yeah, then I left with -- Pauline was going, as I say, out to nurses training -- but since that didn't work out just at that particular time, she says we're going to go anyway, "I'm going anyway." So she said, "Do you want to go with me?" And so I said, "All right, then I'll go with you, too." And so we both went out to Minneapolis and we stayed in a hostel. I stayed in a hostel for a while and that was right downtown in Minneapolis. And that worked out fine for me. I got a job in a defense plant. Would you believe it? But I had no idea what was going on in that defense plant and I don't know why they even hired me because they didn't really have any work for me. I might have typed a few letters but that's about all. And so I thought, "Well, gee, this is no fun. I have to sit here all day and try to look like I'm doing something," when there was really nothing to do, so I left it. I was at the defense plant in Brighton, Minnesota, I remember that. And I thought it was a pretty good paying job for the time.

And then, so then Pauline and I went out and found work together in Munsingwear stocking and hosiery and underthings. We found a job in the, a sewing job in the Munsingwear factory. And at that time, they were still producing khakis for the men in service, so it was line type work for all of us. Everybody had a certain part of the pants and the pants passed along for each of us and my job was the pockets and I think Pauline said hers was putting the flies on the pants. [Laughs] And so that was the job to just tide us over, more or less, and then my father sent me money sometime, from time to time, from their poor little pittance of sixteen dollars a month or whatever it was that they made. And so it wasn't that really that good a job but it was enough that we paid our rent and made more friends out there, too, among the Nihonjins. There were quite a few Nihonjins in Minneapolis so surprisingly...

BK: So there was -- how were you received in Minnesota and Minneapolis? There seemed to have been no problem?

JT: No, no problem there. I don't think they really probably knew what, who we were or what we were, 'cause the Midwest, I don't think had too many people Japanese people at that time. Although there was a family that lived in Minneapolis for quite some time there and Kimi was a nurse out there in one of the hospitals, and I think she was the one that lived there. You didn't have to evacuate, I think, probably, if you were there. And so, but I knew that her sister was in camp because I knew Reiko in camp. So she moved out to Minneapolis, the family moved out, and joined her sister there in Minneapolis, and so I knew they were there. But we lived in a hostel and then we moved into an apartment unit. And I said to Pauline, "Do you remember all those cockroaches that came out of the kitchen?" They had an old kitchen queen in our unit and we opened the flour cupboard, well, of course, that's where they like to be, and they just exploded out of there. And we ran out of there quickly. And then we got our nerve back together again and got bug spray or whatever it was we did, and began stomping around in there, and tried to get 'em out of there. Oh, it was something, quite an experience. [Laughs]

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

BK: So then, how long did you stay in Minneapolis?

JT: I think Pauline and I were figuring it must have been just about three to four months before they decided they were going to close camp. We didn't stay there very long. And my dad wanted me back, and Mits' mother was alone at the time, so Pauline had to go back, too, to move us all out. And so we both went back. I went through, let's see, I went through... when did I go to Denver, now? See, I have that confused...

BK: It was probably after...

JT: After that I got... that's right. I went back to camp and we were going to move, Pauline was going to move back to Seattle, and that's when our folks moved, myself and my mother and father were moved to Denver. My brother went back to, was in the service, so we didn't have to worry about him at that time. And Mits was still in the service also. So Mom and Dad and I went to Denver because friends of ours had moved down there so we decided that we would go there, too. And that was fine for a while. My dad worked for a cigar company, smoke shop I guess kind of the warehouse for them, and I had a job at the YWCA, secretary there again. But that was a job I really enjoyed and made friends with the staff there, it was very nice, it was a good job. And my mother, of course, was home and we stayed there for another six months, I guess.

And it was during that time when Mits returned from service, when we were in Denver, and he came by to see me in Denver then. He was in, he landed, of course, in New York, got off the ship. He was on the Queen Elizabeth, came back by Queen Elizabeth, and landed in New York and so when they left New York, he and his buddies, Slim and this fellow that is now doing the Nissan ads, they all came back via New York. And, but Mits parted company then and was going to see his sister. His sister, Yoshi, was in Chicago at the time so he went to Chicago, and this was on his way back to Seattle. He was in Chicago, I don't think he spent much more than a day or two in New York and a day or two in Chicago. And then he traveled on south and west to see me in Denver and he stayed just a few days. And then he went on home and I stayed there until... then my folks, in the meantime, had moved from Denver to go back to Alaska.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

BK: At the time that you went to Denver, what kind of commitment had you made to Mits, or were you still as a couple at that time?

JT: Yes, we were engaged, I guess a long way back. I should have told you that when he was in Camp Shelby, that's right, when he was in Camp Shelby his friend, Ben Sugiwara, he had married before that -- no, he married in Camp Shelby, I guess he did. His wife at that time traveled to Camp Shelby to get married to Ben. And so she was married to Ben and Ben was Mits' first sergeant. And he got an engagement ring at that time and he asked Kiki if she wouldn't mind bringing it back to me. So Kiki always said, "Well, I got -- June and I are engaged, you know." She'd always say, because she brought the engagement back, ring back to me and gave it to me in camp and said that Mits had set it up. And so that was just before we were leaving camp. So we were engaged for quite some time, then, before the time -- well, couple of months before we went down to Denver and traveled on. So I had that engagement ring with me all the time. And so we didn't, we didn't... I didn't see Mits, but then I got the ring from him. [Laughs]

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

BK: So was there a major discussion with your parents as far as where to go after camp closed? I know you selected Denver.

JT: Uh-huh. Well, no, because I think since the other family was there, that the other family was from Petersburg also and were very close to us. And she was the one that always taught me what little Japanese I knew. But they were there so then my folks decided to go down, too. But then I don't know why they decided, but they left Denver, both of the families, and decided to go on back to Petersburg.

BK: But prior to that, then you had decided to leave Denver you had said.

JT: Uh-huh, uh-huh, because Mits was coming back and Mits then landed in New York, as I say, and spent couple days here and couple days there, and then he came down to visit me. And then he went on ahead to Seattle. So at that time, I decided okay, well then it's time for me to leave also. And that must have been about April, again of '45. May, May? '46?

BK: 1946?

JT: '46? Oh yeah, it was '46, yeah right. Gosh, how time flies. Yeah, it was 1946.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

JT: So then when I went on back, I went to Council or Mesa, Idaho, which was where my sister was living because they were working -- her husband was a cook for the apple orchard company that they were, that a lot of Japanese were working there also -- so he was a cook there. And so I went up to visit them for about three or four days or something like that, before I went on to Seattle. And then from there I went back to Seattle. And my folks had moved, about that same time, they had moved from, totally, too, from Denver and went on back to Seattle and they were living with Mits' family. They stayed with Mits' family. The Kainos did, too. So when the Kainos and my folks left Denver, they both went up to Seattle and they were able to stay with Mits' folks on Lucille Street, which is near Columbia Center there, Columbia City, Columbia City I should say, not Columbia Center. But they lived, the Kainos and my mom and dad stayed with the Takahashis for a while until we got back, both of us. And about that time, they were on their way to Petersburg but they just made that a short stopover. And that's when we decided, well, we were going to get married then while they were still there. So that was in the month of June. So they stayed long enough 'til we had the wedding, and then the four of them went back to Petersburg all together.

BK: I see. And you stayed in Seattle...

JT: And I stayed, yes, and I stayed and I lived with Mits' family then until we... for some time. And then worked for the, I went to school, I should say I went to the Seattle School District and applied for a job there and got that job. So I was able to work right away and was a secretary with the Seattle School District. And then my brother had not yet come back from the army, and he did come back a few weeks later, and then he too stopped over. [Laughs] So it was the stopover for everybody. And then I think he went... he got himself, I think he started -- I'm not sure where he lived, I think he lived, oh I know, he stayed down in Seattle and he lived with the family for, after that. He didn't go back to Petersburg. So that's why he was in Seattle, he was working and he was going to Burnley's Art School, that's what he did.

BK: And so you continued then with the Seattle Public Schools?

JT: With the Seattle Public Schools. And I stayed on with them for a short time then, until I started having my family. And then that just was totally out of the picture because I was so ill. [Laughs] I had a bad pregnancy. I mean, it wasn't bad in a sense of being pregnant, but I was just not feeling well all the time, so I just couldn't work any more. And so I decided that I would stay home for a while. And I did until the birth of the first two kids, Steven and then Vicki, and then I went back to work again.

BK: Again with the Seattle Public Schools?

JT: Uh-huh, with the school district again. And so I stayed with them. Mits, when he came back, he had been -- his father was a gardener before the war and everything and so Mits had worked with him for quite some time -- so when Mits came back, he didn't want -- he was not a student, he said, he didn't want to go to school so he went right to work and worked in the gardening business with his father. And that worked out just fine for us, anyway. So that's what he did all of his, the rest of his life and which he is still doing today.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

BK: Was it difficult for you to get jobs?

JT: It wasn't hard to get a job, but it was very difficult to find someplace to live, because we had been, they'd open the door and see that we were other than Caucasian and they say -- knowing that we were Asian -- they said, "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "We just can't sell to you." And we were turned down several times like that at the beginning so it was pretty discouraging. We couldn't live where we wanted to live, they wouldn't let us live in the Mount Baker district. They wouldn't let us live, Montlake area. And it was bad for a while. And then so we went out to Rainier Valley and rented that home there. And, well that's that was... they were there first, I'm sorry, I take that back, they were there first. I lived with them on Lucille Street and then we went out to look for a home to purchase, that's what it was. And we looked, as I said, in Mount Baker and Montlake, but we were refused a few times before we found this house right near Garfield High School between Fern, Alder.

BK: With these rejections, how did it make you feel?

JT: It didn't make you feel very good, but it sure makes you, it made you angry. You'd ask them, "Where do you think -- can you recommend someplace I could go?" Well, of course, they wouldn't, anyway, so you just had to keep, we had to keep looking and answering ads and looking for a place to go. And I don't remember why we chose that area but we just kind of toured around the area looking for homes and we decided that... I really wanted to live at the top like 30th right over Jackson. You know, that's such a nice area, and it was kind of going downhill, but the homes there were still in the expensive area of prices as far as we were concerned. So we didn't get what I wanted to get up there, and we came down to near Garfield High School. But that was, it was okay, it was the Jewish area, Jewish neighborhood. And I remember being called on many times, "Would you come over on a Sabbath" -- it would be a Sabbath day -- "and turn the lights on for me, and do this and do..." 'cause they can't -- apparently they cannot do almost anything on those holy days. So, but that was a good area for us. The kids grew up there, Steven and Vicki did, and we left when Steve was in junior high. And I think the little kids were just beginning, they were in first, second grade or stuff like that. And we left when it became a little rough and Vicki told me, "Mom, we got to move or do something," she told me. "The kids, you should hear 'em up on the porch. They're using every four-letter word they know." And I said, "Well, okay, well, we'll see about that." So we decided... and as, and they were the only Asians in the school at that point so we decided we'd better get into more metropolitan, more area where it was more different races and different people around.

BK: When you say that they were the only Asians, what were the rest of the students?

JT: The rest of them were more black, it was a pretty black community at that time. And after that, Garfield, I thought it was a very good school, really, and it was good for Steve. But the kids were getting the wrong sort of upbringing -- not upbringing so much, but the wrong types of friends, and the rough neighborhood. They were learning a lot of things they shouldn't be learning. So we decided, well, we'd better get into a more culturally spread area so we came out to the West Seattle area to look around since his sister Yoshi was out this way and we thought, "Well, we'll look around there." Not necessarily right by her or anything, but in the area. And the homes were more reasonable here than other areas at that time, too.

BK: And during this second house-buying time, did you face any discrimination?

JT: No, this time we did ask some questions. I said, "How do people feel out there? What are their feelings about races other than Caucasian?" And he said -- the buyer we talked to was -- he built this house also and he was going to live in it -- and he said, "You will have no problems." Besides which we didn't have any neighbors here at the time. And I had gone down the street where -- this house was built by two people and Bob was one of them and John was another and John lived down the street -- so we went down and talked to the people around there. And they were, they didn't have, I said, "We're going to be your neighbors and we just wanted to introduce ourselves." And they seemed pretty good about it so we felt that... it wasn't, even at that point it wasn't what you call a highly desirable area but it always has been good to us. We've never had any trouble. When we first moved in here, we did have a house break-in but we decided it was children, kids that came in, 'cause there was candy eaten and things just thrown around and that's not what real people want to break in for. [Laughs]

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

BK: To bring this a little bit closer to right now, in 1981, thirty-six years after the war ended, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians held public hearings in various cities of the nation. And in September of 1981, you testified in the hearings that were held in Seattle. Tell us more about that.

JT: Well, I was approached to testify and I really was very reluctant to do that 'cause it was just, I just felt I couldn't do that. And I didn't want to appear in front of a whole lot of people and tell them all my, all my problems and whatever. But the family thought I should do it. They thought that this should be brought out and just personal reactions is as good as anything is spreading the story and he said, "You've got to do that." And I really didn't want to but so I said, "Okay, I would do that." And so, so I did. I went up and I thought I was going to lose it, really. [Laughs] And it was the first time I'd ever talked about any of that, and the first time I had ever talked about my father and my family, and it was so hard. But I guess I managed to get through it somehow. And afterwards, after the testimony, I came out to the back, I was surprised how many people were waiting there to thank me for doing that. And I met friends there that I hadn't seen for years, and even a girl from Alaska and since lost contact with her, too. And that... I didn't realize how much... and they just all thanked me and I got letters thanking me, and I didn't keep those either, but it was just overwhelming. I was surprised, 'cause I thought, "Who would care how I felt about it?" But it was okay, it turned out okay. But I'm not going to do that again. [Laughs] But it was, and then, too, it was kind of self-serving, at least I got some of it out of my system.

BK: And to share your story is very important.

JT: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

BK: As you reflect back, since more than fifty years have gone by since the end of the war, and as you reflect back on your internment experiences, what were the best outcomes associated with internment?

JT: Oh, let's see. I think it was just growing up, just being able to grow up and meet the things... and stop thinking about myself. I thought about it, and I thought, gee, I depended so much on my -- more than my folks's support, I depended upon them to give me this, and give me that, and I think I got over a lot of that part of it. Knowing how hard it was for them... they didn't have anything when they got back and they didn't have any money when they left. They didn't have possessions and things when they got back either, and so it was very difficult for my mother. And my father was always, he got sick again when he got back here and got back to Seattle after the relocation, after Denver and after everything, he was very ill again, and that's when he had cancer. Eventually, he died of cancer. They lived in the Star Apartment, small unit. And for a while they lived with my brother and my sister-in-law. I said, "That's not a good situation," I told my dad. I said, "You've got to have your own place." I said, "I wouldn't want my mother-in-law living with me and you've got to move." And it's hard for my brother to tell them to move. So they did, they got a unit in another apartment in Baldwin or something like that. And they were doing fine there except that my dad got sick again. And so, but by that time it was just literally too late for him. So he died very young -- well, very young -- he had just turned sixty at that time. And he wasn't quite ready and that's one, another hard part for me. All this unresolved stuff I had... and so I just was never able to tell him or talk to him. But...

BK: It is difficult.

JT: It was difficult, it was difficult for my mother. Myself, it's just me, personally.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

BK: Also along the same vein, what were the worst long term effects of internment?

JT: Probably the... I thought our family was pretty good, but just looking at everybody else, I'm not sure how they were, but I think it brought us... the worst part probably for other people kind of served as a better part for me and for us. I think we got closer together because culturally, our folks never showed, demonstrated any kind of emotions and never really hugged the kids, the way we do now. We just smother them. But they didn't do that, and so I think we learned a lot from that, the closeness. And my brother, too. He just, he was so overwhelmed when he came back from the army and I threw my arms around him. He'd like to say, "Get off." [Laughs]'Cause he was just never used to anything like that. But now, he says, well just not too long ago, he said, "I really care about you." I said, "I know," and I said, "I'm not older than you either." He always tells everybody that he's older than -- I mean, that I'm older than he is. But I think the good part was that it just showed you how much togetherness there really is in your family and how much, if you needed support, they always would be there. So I find that... and the worst part, was just for me, it was a personal thing and unresolved things. So I think if I had something to tell anybody, I'd tell them to get it out, say it, if you have a problem. Just don't hold it. Let it be known, because it can be resolved. So that was the part that was the most difficult. But on the other end of the spectrum is the fact that we are closer together for that. And my mother died when she was ninety. I mean, she lived a nice long life. My sister is ninety now, and, heaven help her, probably we'll have longevity in my family, too, hopefully.

BK: How have your views about internment changed over the years?

JT: Well, I think, I think it's just a matter of maturing and I feel that I probably would never have wanted to miss it, had it have to happen, I wouldn't want to do it, because it teaches you so much. And I think you have to cherish the things you have. Make the most of everything that you have while you can because what I lost is lost. I never went to, went on to college, 'cause we just couldn't do that. My brother, he started, had the chance and he did what he could do and he didn't graduate, but he went into professional school, I mean, the arts and things like that, so that was great for him, but I never, I didn't get the chance to do that and I married young and I don't have any regrets. It's just that I would have done more with what little we had. But then that's kind of like putting the cart before the horse kind of thing, and you learn a lot from... but mostly I think just to express yourself and be yourself and don't worry about other things. What's possible is possible and what can't be done, can't be done, and you might as well handle it that way.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

BK: In closing, what would you like your children and grandchildren to know and remember about internment?

JT: I'd like them -- well, I'm surprised that... well, before, they didn't know anything about it and we had to, we had to tell them everything, whatever we could. But I couldn't tell them the parts that I'm saying now. I could tell them now, but I just didn't say it at the time. But that it could happen again and they need to be careful about everything and stand up when they think they should stand up for their rights and not be so quiet about it. That you're a person, a citizen, just like anybody else in the U.S. and your rights, their rights are your rights. And that I don't think that it, if you think it can't happen, they better think again. And really... but they're pretty comfortable in the way they feel about it and they're not, they're not angry or anything like that. But they need to be watchful and just express themselves and be good to each other. That's basically what it is and they're really good kids, all of 'em. So I think that's it, just be good to their elders. [Laughs] Take care of me when I get old, older.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

BK: Well, June, Larry and I and the Densho Project would really like to thank you so much for sharing your story.

JT: Well, thank you. That's very nice.

BK: Really, you've been so honest.

JT: I'm so surprised. I thought sure that Marsha might have said, "Well, come see my mother." I thought, "Did you do that?" [Laughs]

BK: No, no you have a very unique story and thank you so much for sharing.

JT: Oh, you're quite welcome.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.