Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rae Takekawa Interview
Narrator: Rae Takekawa
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Vancouver, Washington
Date: May 8, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trae-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: Well, you were saying about preparing, getting ready to leave. Do you recall very much about the actual day when you left? What happened that day?

RT: I know it was in May, and for some reason I had always connected it with my sister's birthday, which was May 16th. I'm told from more recent research that it was about the 20th, but someplace within that time, that we left.

And the one thing I recall about that day is that we left by train. We didn't go to Puyallup, we went to California. And they brought these old cars in on a siding. I'm not exactly sure where that siding was, maybe toward Kirkland. But at any rate, there we were, we all went to this siding where the train was, and we all got marched up into these cars. And they, of course, had to pull the shades on all the windows so, of course, we couldn't see anything. I don't know how many cars it took for our community, that they moved all of us. I'm pretty sure they had guards in the train. I don't know where they thought we were going to go, but I think they did.

Anyway, we did get on the train from that siding and I remember very clearly that the principal of the high school was there. And I don't know if anybody else from the school was there, but the principal of the high school was there, and he was, had been principal and my mother's algebra teacher. And he was so pleased because I was in his algebra class, and he was still principal, and he came to the train siding to see us off. And there were some kids, but not the good kids, but some of the kids that didn't mind skipping school and they were down there. I suppose, well, they were friends with a lot of the kids, and they were the ones that came out. And I know the principal saw them. I don't know if he was going to do anything about it. I'm sure that maybe he told them, but they were skipping school.

So it must have been during the middle of the day, and it must have been during a school day that they shipped us out. And we went down to California, to Fresno, which is really, I would say, south central California, and went to this little place called Pinedale. And that was the so-called "reception center." I think that's the euphemism that they used for these camps that they took us to.

AI: Had you known that you were going to be going all that way down there?

RT: Yeah, I think we did. I believe that they probably told the people where they were going to go, and I think that we also knew where, for instance, the Seattle people were going to go. Yes, I do believe that we were at least informed of where we were going to go.

AI: And what was your first impression when you got there?

RT: Oh, well, now, that's entirely different type of country down there. And the thing is, even in May, it was warm, and they put these camps, all of the camps were in out-of-the-way places and Pinedale was no exception. It was like a desert-type place. In other words, there was a lot of sand. I remember that. There was sand. It blew, the wind would blow and the sand would blow and, of course, we were assigned to barracks to live, and there was no place for a family to eat together. They had it all organized around the block plan, a mess hall for the block. I think there was a bathroom facility, showers, and the bathrooms in one building. It was a little different for us and, again, we were still fairly young. It was sort of like going to some outrageous camp. It was a camp experience all right, but since it was new, it was not -- we didn't realize that they were going to keep people in these camps for so long. We just got there and thought this was a big, not a party exactly, but you get to run around all over with people, with friends, and it was... it took a little while.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.