Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Tats Kojima Interview
Narrator: Tats Kojima
Interviewer: Debra Grindeland
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: October 22, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ktats-01-0001

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DG: Okay, Tats, we're going to start off, if you could just tell me about your family back in 1942, members of your family, their occupations, where you were living, that sort of thing.

TK: We were living in Port Madison at Maude Beaton -- we were renting from Maude Beaton -- and we were raising strawberries when the war broke out. And this was on a Sunday, I remember, and I can't... I think I was out in the field when... seven in the morning, yeah, I'd be out there about eight or nine in the morning. Other than that, I can't remember what happened after that day. That's all I remember is the war. And I was wondering, well, how is that going to affect me and what are they gonna do to me, or, you know, a lotta questions come up. But I can't remember. Yeah, it was a long ago. I can't... I don't know what else to say. [Laughs]

DG: Now so, can you... this, you were eighteen years old...

TK: I was eighteen years old.

DG: And tell me how you found out about...

TK: It was on the radio, and I think we heard it on the radio. It was on a Sunday, wasn't it? Or was it Monday? Sunday, wasn't it? I'm pretty sure it was on a Sunday. I, I can't remember exactly what I was thinking, but, you know, I'm thinking, "Wow, we're at war. What's gonna happen to me?" and all that. But I didn't realize what the government was gonna do to us. And I knew we had to just raise the strawberries and go on from there and, but then they told us we gotta get rid of all our contraband, which was binoculars, radios... shortwave, well, we didn't have shortwave radios, but radios, and anything to do with dynamites. We used a lot of dynamites in clearing our land, so, we gave... I don't know where we had to take it, we had to take it someplace. But there was one cap and a little bit of fuse left out of all the things that we used, and that's when, that was illegal, so they picked up my dad and took him to Missoula. Or, they took him away. I don't know where they took him first, but then at the end he was in Missoula, Montana. And then I think Art Koura and, God, I can't remember, Sam Nakao came by and told us, "We're gonna take, you can take one suitcase full of whatever you're gonna take to camp. And that's all you can take, whatever you can carry." Then who else? And then I had that... well, I didn't ask anymore, so, I think Sab Hayashida come by, but we didn't know really what to do. You know, you're just eighteen year old, what are we gonna do, you know, you got everything packed, just enough to carry on. But then you have all this strawberries you gotta harvest. This was in April, April, yeah, we ended up in April. So we had beginning of April to, April. And we, I have to know, what are you gonna do with the horses, and who's gonna run the farm, you know. But I don't know how we got Tony Bucset in there to run the farm. And he... supposedly we said, "Okay, you run the farm, we'll leave it..." well, we don't leave everything, it's just gotta be left there.

But the horse... I thought, I asked Maude Beaton, "What are you gonna do with a, what can you do with a horse?" And Maude says, "I don't want the horse." That's when she... I decided, "Well, what am I gonna do with the horse?" And I said, "Well, I better go and kill the thing." And I took him in the woods and I don't know whether I shot with a... what I had to shoot him with, but anyway I shot him, killed him, and left him there. Come back out and Maude says, "Well, what did you do with the horse?" I said, "I killed him." "Did you bury him?" Says, "No, I just left in the woods." She says, "That's gonna smell up the place, so you gotta do something." So, I had to go to Suyematsu's, and Mr. Suyematsu says, "Oh, we'll burn it." So, he came over and helped me and we piled all kinds of wood on top and we burned him. That's all, and I don't know if it burned down to the bottom or not. We just piled a bunch of wood and then burned him, and that's all I could remember. And Maude didn't say anything. And then we, I think we just got ready. Because it's only a week, I can't remember whether it was two weeks or one week that we had to get ready to go to camp.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.