Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Nelson Takeo Akagi Interview
Narrator: Nelson Takeo Akagi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: June 3, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-anelson-01-0013

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TI: So let's go back, the U&I people have now, are now bringing you up to Idaho, is where we left it. So you've agreed to, your father agreed to go farm up in Idaho with the sugar beet, with U&I.

NA: Uh-huh.

TI: And you were just leaving Lindsay.

NA: Okay. Eight o'clock in the morning, I think we had breakfast that morning, I don't know if we did or not. But anyway, eight o'clock in the morning, the WRA sent out a army bus out with two armed guards with sub-Thompson machine guns. The whole family, and the youngest was a seven-month-old nephew, and the, in my family -- that was in my brother's family -- and in my family, the youngest was my sister Marie, she was only seven years old. And how can the government say they were security risk? That's why we were being moved out, they thought we were a security risk. But anyway, we were of no security risk, so to this day, I say evacuation was never a, never should have happened. But anyway, we got on this bus, and we were bused seventeen miles to Visalia, that was our next big town from Lindsay, and put on a train with the blinds pulled down, and it was an old dilapidated coach. And that was eight o'clock in the morning, well, by the time we got to Visalia it was nine o'clock. And then we were the only family on that train, and then it was coupled up and, with the blinds pulled down, and it was coupled up on an all-freight, we were the only coach on it. And then we traveled another thirty miles to Fresno and picked up three more families. And one of the families, the mother, father and two girls, and the girls weren't, the older one might have been fifteen, the younger maybe twelve, thirteen years old. Well, they're no security risk. And how could they work on the farm? But there they were, willing to go work on the farm. We didn't know where we were gonna go in Idaho, but anyway, we traveled there after picking up the other three families. And all the time we were traveling, we traveled from eight o'clock in the morning 'til the following day in, following day twelve o'clock we traveled. And then it stopped. Well, it made other stops (on) other sidings, but it was to let the trains, other trains, priority trains go by while the all-freight just stopped on the siding. But this time it stopped during the daytime, and so I was wide awake, and I said, "Oh, the train stopped. I want to see where, where we are." So I lifted the shade up just enough to be able to read the... what does it say in Reno? "The smallest..."

TI: "The largest little town," or something like that?

NA: "Largest," oh, that's right. "The smallest little town," or, 'The largest little town in the world." And I said, "Oh my gosh, we're in Reno." [Laughs] And so, so I said, "I know where we are now, we're in Reno. But all the time that we traveled from Lindsay to Reno, we had no food, no water, no heat, no blanket, we were cold. Because even in June, going over the Sierra was cold. And so we were, from there, we were put on the siding and then a man entered. We don't even, we didn't even know who he was, and then the two armed guards, they disappeared. And so we thought, "Well, even, what else could they do to us?" Even if we protest that we were hungry and cold and everything, what else, we said, "What else could they do to us now?" So we got guts enough to complain, and after we told that one man -- I still don't know who he was, except he must have been from the WRA, he couldn't have been from the U&I Sugar Company. But anyway, after we complained, he left and was gone for about half an hour and came back with enough bread and baloney for us each to make one baloney sandwich apiece, and that was our meal. And then we got heat and water in our compartment. And then we proceeded on. We came to Ogden where we were, where we were able to disembark for the first time since the day before, and we stopped at the Ogden Depot for about half an hour and then we proceeded on to Idaho. And lo and behold, we ended up in Idaho Falls, and while we were in Idaho Falls, our destination, the farmers were waiting for us, and we were picked out according to the size of the farm and the size of the family. And our family being the largest, we went to the largest farm. And where the others went, we don't know, and we, since we didn't communicate while we were on the bus because the armed guards were watching us and we didn't want to get shot or anything. So we just stayed to ourselves. So to this day, I don't even know their names. But anyway, that's the way it was with our train ride, and then we were picked out according to the size of the farm and size of the family. Just like slave labor.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.