Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Sumi Uyeda Interview
Narrator: Sumi Uyeda
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-usumi-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

RD: So do you remember the day that you were told that you were going away?

SU: I knew that it was sometime in May of 1942, I think 1942. And it was after my school, after school, and I was walking in the schoolyard, and the principal flagged me and said, "Come on in, we have a little meeting." So I went to a little meeting in my school, it was a one-building school, it's a small school. And that's when we were told that in May something we will be moving to some camp.

RD: So what did you think was going to happen?

SU: I didn't know. I didn't know because I was only nine years old, and so...

RD: What did your parents tell you?

SU: My mother just told me that we would be moving and that was it. I don't really remember...

RD: One of the things we've talked about is how nobody questioned their parents, it was not in their culture.

SU: That's right. If we're going to move, we have to move.

RD: Exactly. Where did you go first?

SU: I went to a camp in Marysville, California, it was called Arboga. And it was hot and barren, no grass, no greens, just barracks.

RD: That was a pretty small one.

SU: Yes.

RD: And you weren't there for very long, I'm sure you don't remember a lot of this.

SU: I don't remember how long we were there, but it was not very long.

RD: And then where did you and how did you get there?

SU: And then we were shipped to Tule Lake, California.

RD: This is where we are now.

SU: That's right, it's this room. Except this room looks a lot bigger than when I first, as I recall it. I think, I just feel it was a smaller room than this.

RD: You can't shake that and neither can anybody else.

SU: I know. And there were five of us in the family, so actually... yeah, five of us, so we had five cots lined up.

RD: And there's only six in here and it still isn't very big. So that wasn't too long a trip, really.

SU: You know, we went on a train, that's all I remember, and I think it was an overnight ride and I don't really remember that much.

RD: Was it your first train?

SU: Yes.

RD: So that must have been exciting. So some of the kids at Heart Mountain had a good time. Did you have any fun when you were at Tule?

SU: You know, as a child I had fun, because I really didn't know anything else. We didn't have to worry about food and all that, so I did have fun. I did a lot of things. I took tap dancing lessons and I went to the recreation center and played with different people.

RD: Was it unusual for you to be, because now you're with all Japanese people. Was that weird?

SU: No, actually, because Penryn was mostly all Japanese, you know, in Penryn. So all the businesses were run by Japanese, and the Buddhist church was right across the street, and we all gathered as a Japanese community. So it really was sort of a lateral move except not as...

RD: Yeah. Did your mother lose everything, did she own anything?

SU: She had to rent, she was renting the house. She was a barber and she was renting the house that she was doing... so she really, she might have lost some things, but it wasn't a big thing like a property.

RD: And do you remember when you first came, I'm sure the barracks were very plain. Did she fix it up over time?

SU: No. No, it was, she didn't have the knowledge or skills to fix it up, so we were just there as-is.

RD: Yeah, some people didn't and some people did. So you were there three years?

SU: Yes.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.