Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0056

<Begin Segment 56>

TI: So as the war ended, and you were going to go back to home, the United States, in your mind, where was home gonna be for you?

RT: Well, see now that's the part that, it's been, it sorta aggravates me to think that, here you fought through a whole damn war for the country, but your parents are still in this concentration camp. It's a concentration camp that you volunteered out of, and you volunteered out of there to try to change it. And so people like this friend of mine that I met up in Salt Lake City now, when I finally got here to the States and I got sent up to Fort Douglas, I was just very fortunate that the commandant of the Fort Douglas was, his son and I were good friends. So immediately, he called me down to headquarters. And he said, "You remember me?" Then he mentioned to me his name and everything. I says, "Yes, sir. How's your son doing?" And he says, "He never made it." And I apologized for it and everything. And he says, "Well, you're my son coming home. I want you to have dinner at our house, and I want you to sleep in our house tonight." So that's what I did.

So while this was all goin' on, then he says, "Where's your parents?" I says, "Oh, they're in Poston, Arizona." "Oh," he says, "what they doin' in Poston?" I says, "Well, that's the concentration camp that we were put in." To him, he thought it was terrible that I have to go back to see my parents, after all we went through, in the concentration camp. And he knew that my dad was a World War I vet. And he says, "And your dad was a World War I vet. What the hell's goin' on?" I says, "Well I don't know. When I get back to home, which I will call Poston, Arizona, my home for the time being, then we'll figure what we're gonna do." Well, in the meantime, they closed up Poston, Arizona, the concentration camp. So I'm callin' all over, tryin' to find out where my folks went. And the only answer I got, well, everybody had orders to pack up and move out, so they all moved out. So I said, "Well, don't you guys know where they went to?" "No, we don't know where they went to."

And it was real fortunate that I was at Fort Douglas and I got somebody there that could do me a lotta help. So we start talkin' about this, and he says, "Well, what are you gonna do?" I said, "Well, I have to go look for 'em, 'cause I don't know where they would go to." So he was real good about it. He says, "Well, we'll tell you -- " he started callin' me son -- he said, "Well, son, I'll tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna give you a ninety-day delay en route." Ninety-day delay en route, as far as army words are, you're on orders for ninety days, but you go wherever you want, you do whatever you want. You eat all your meals under the army. So I said, "Oh, that'll be great. Give me time to find my mom and dad, find out where they moved to."

So my father, one of the places he liked the most was San Jose. So I kept thinkin' about, "Gee, now where would they go? Where would they go?" I says, "I'll go to San Jose and see." So I hopped a bus and I hopped a train. And then I got to -- I didn't have brains enough to get off in Oakland and catch a bus to go down to San Jose. I took the ferry over to San Francisco. Then I had to go to the Greyhound Bus Depot. And I caught a Greyhound Bus Depot and went down to San Jose. And I'll never forget this, because I got off the bus, and so there was this Red Cross stand. So I walked up there, and I don't even know where to start lookin'. So I walked up to this lady behind the Red Cross place, and I said, "Ma'am, I'd like some help." She says, "What can I do for you?" I says, "Well, I just come back from overseas duty, and my parents were in one of those concentration camps. And the concentration camps are closed. So I'm tryin' to find them. My dad, at one time, lived in San Jose. So I'm just wondering, is there any way, place, or a way I can find, ask questions about it?" And I got real, well, I was aggravated. But the sailor was aggravated even more, because she turned around, and she says, "Oh, there's a place on Fifth Street, a bunch of Japs are livin' there." Oh, this sailor blew his top. He told this gal, "Are you calling this man a Jap? He's an American soldier. Do you see his ribbons and stuff? He fought overseas. You see those stripes goin' up his shoulders? That says how long he was overseas. Who in the hell do you think you are?" And he slapped her across the face. And so I stopped him. And I says, "Oh, no. We don't wanna cause trouble. All I'm doing, I wanna find where my parents are."

So I went outside with him, and he explained to a cabbie. "Oh," he says, "Yeah, I know where this place is. I'll take you there, son." So he took me to the Buddhist church. And oh, to be lucky as could be, the cab pulled up in front of the Buddhist church, and a fella that I knew comes walkin' down the street. So it was Star Fukuda. So I say, "Hey, Star, what are you doin?" And he looks, looks like that, and he says, "Oh, Rudy, what the hell are you doin' here?" I says, "Well I just got back from overseas." "You see your parents yet?" I says, "No." "Oh, they livin' upstairs." So I just happened to be very lucky that I was able to find my parents at this (Buddhist) hostel. And when I went up, I was very fortunate also, because all the Japanese, only thing they had was blankets goin' across the gym, and that was the walls. So whoever slept here, and it might be a man sleepin' over here, only thing that separated them was this blanket. But my mom and dad and my oldest brother, they were very fortunate enough that they had a room upstairs. They all slept in one room, but at least it was better than a whole mess of other people.

<End Segment 56> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.