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-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Yeah, so at this point, how large, how many members of your family were there?

NA: Well, there were four brothers, three sisters and my mother and father and my grandson. And so four... and then the four brothers and my father, that'd be five that were male that were able to work, and then my sister May and Betty, who was about ten years old, she even had to help on the farm. But Marie and the two wives for the twins and my mothers stayed home. And so, so we all had to work just to make enough money, and that's all we got to live from day to day. We had to pay the rent -- that was another thing. And the farmer didn't even have a place for us to stay, so the first place he said, "Oh, I have a place for you," it was a chicken coop. And the ladyfolks were the only one that went to see it, and when they came back, they were madder than a wet hen. And so we said, "We're not gonna move into a chicken coop," so the, our boss-to-be said, "Oh, there's a vacant home in middle of town next to a grocery store," so we moved into there but we had to pay the rent, and we had to pay for our food there, so it was just like, you know, being in California, only everything we, everything that was paid for in California, here in Idaho, we had to pay it out of our own pocket. WRA wouldn't help us, and so while I was...

TI: Well, and during this time, were there any restrictions on the family in terms of movement, like could you have gone someplace --

NA: If they, if there was, we pretended like we didn't know about it. The only restriction was the, we had to have a coupon or whatever to buy sugar because it was rationed, beans was rationed and the meat was rationed, and there were a lot of restriction in that effect. But for us not to be able to travel more than two miles, we pretended like if there was such a thing, we pretended like we didn't know about it. So we were living just like we were before the war in Lindsay. The only difference was in Lindsay, all the properties were paid for because Dad paid cash as he'd start buying up all the land for us kids. Well, he couldn't own the land, anyway. And then, so here we were in Idaho, and a new territory, and first thing we had to do was, other than find a place to live, we also had to have transportation. So we sold our car and pickup and everything so we had no transportation, we sold it for fifty dollars, hundred dollars or whatever. And so as soon as we got there, we had to buy a car. And that car cost more, twice as, twice, two, three times more than what we got out of the car we sold in California. And so we had a rough time. It was no picnic for us, and then, and then we might have had four thousand dollars in our pocket that we brought from California, but we went through that pretty fast because another boy was born and another girl was born so it went for hospital bill, and our clothing, and four thousand dollars just went like fire. And so we had to live, finally live on our income from the labor that we were doing. And that farmer wouldn't pay us in full, so we really had a rough time there.

TI: So I'm curious, in town, how did the townspeople treat you? Was there any, sort of, discrimination because of the war?

NA: The kids our age were real friendly. We had no problem with them, there was a big canal running behind where we were living, and we used to go swimming in that canal with the kids in town and then... and we used to go to St. Anthony seven miles away with the kids, and then we, with the kids in town. And we went roller skating, which was about five miles away, and we'd pile into the family car and go roller skating. So it was just, and then we went fishing in, at the head of Yellowstone we went fishing over there. So it was just, just like during, before the war, and we pretended like it was, that there was no restriction on Japanese American. If there was, I don't know.

TI: And was this in Idaho Falls, or what town was this?

NA: No, it was in Parker, Idaho.

TI: Parker, Idaho.

NA: It was one post office, one grocery store, and one gas -- well, the, and one gas station. That made up the town.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.