Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Grace F. Oshita Interview
Narrator: Grace F. Oshita
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: June 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ograce-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: So I wanted to talk about your father. At this point he was in Fort Lincoln, right? North Dakota?

GO: Uh-huh. And then he was moved soon after to Livingston.

MA: Louisiana?

GO: Louisiana, uh-huh. There was a Japanese photographer, professional photographer in Louisiana, it was where Camp Livingston was, and so they had a business of taking soldiers' pictures to send home and all that. And I know my husband's kid brother, when he graduated high school, asked for a job, and he was hired by this lady, the mother was operating a floral shop. They were fortunate enough to go out and work for her. When my mother -- and soon after they settled in Tanforan... or was it Topaz? I don't think, no, I don't think she went to visit my dad until we moved to Topaz, I think. And they did give her a pass to see him.

MA: In Louisiana?

GO: Yes, once in, once or twice in Louisiana, the camp there, and that's when she stayed with Mrs. Kohara. And let's see... another time, my father and a group of other men who had families in Topaz came to visit us, you know, and so they allowed that. They had to pay their own way, plus pay, divide the cost of the guard. It was just one guard, that's all. I don't think they had more than one guard.

MA: Oh, so they had to pay their, their fee to get to where they were going. What kind of, was there some sort of security clearance that she had to get to be able to leave? Do you know how that worked?

GO: They do check, what they call a "loyalty check" and all that, they had to pass that before... and it turned out to be that there was a whole camp registration on this "loyalty," so that they would, if it was, well, it was, the war was turning now and they could see that it might end sooner than expected, so they decided to register everybody in camp so they'd be ready. And sometimes, it caused friction.

MA: Right, you were talking about the so-called "loyalty questionnaire," right.

GO: Uh-huh. Well, like I said, it was very few problems, but that was one time.

MA: So your father then was, you know, being transferred from camp to camp. Was he eventually released and able to join you?

GO: Okay, "release" meant he was paroled to Topaz just to join us.

MA: Okay, so he was paroled to Topaz.

GO: Uh-huh. So I assume that most of the internees were sent back, joined their family.

MA: And were you, did he just kind of show up one day, or were you, did you know that he was going through this paroling process and he would come back to Topaz?

GO: Well, they don't give you a lot of time, you know. Maybe his letter and he came at the same time, I can't remember. But it wasn't a preparation for his arrival and all that, we didn't know for sure.

MA: How did it feel to see him again after so long?

GO: Oh, it was wonderful. And the thing is, he says, "I have been doing nothing." I think some of the men got together and they were operating a breakfast business, in other words, fried eggs, and they didn't get that, we never did either. So they would have coffee and toast and whatever, but he talked about serving and washing dishes and doing whatever, I'm one of the boys now, and so they didn't ever do hard work, they're not allowed to. See, government is not allowed to work them. So they just assumed that the people would enjoy having coffee, I mean, regular fried eggs and bacon breakfast, so I know he was doing that for a while, helping out. And so, and then, and then requests came in for golf clubs so they could practice. [Laughs] Balls and golf clubs. So we were glad that he was enjoying it, except when the letters didn't get there in time, and he sounded so desperate, just imagine, wow.

MA: So when he came back, or when he arrived in Topaz, did you notice, was he different at all? Had he changed in that time when he was away?

GO: No. Well, since he was with just men, you know, it might have changed him, but I guess he was working with his friends, anyway, so that didn't bother him that much. He came and I know he was swinging on the bar. You know, in Japan -- well, I guess here, too, they not only used double bars, but the single, you know, the one you could twirl all the way around, I think he was one of them that, I guess the whole school does it. You don't see too much of that in the American school, I guess because of accidents and things like that, they worry about. But in Japan, I think that was included. And so the boy who lived next door to us liked my dad, and there was a camp area, which was one-mile square, and then there was a huge area that was fenced in, and you could walk out there. It's a regular, you know, what they call desert around here, has sagebrush, it isn't just a sand dunes, but people walked out in that area and found maybe a small tree or something, or just starting up, and they would bring that home and make it into a vase or something. Men would do that, well, or women helped them, too. But they found something artistic to do, and it was wonderful.

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