Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Helen Harano Christ Interview
Narrator: Helen Harano Christ
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-chelen-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: So about your father in camp, did he have, did he work, did he have jobs in camp?

HC: In Tanforan, he did things like whittling and, 'cause he made our little nameplates for each one of us kids, at least the girls, and put on a, put a safety pin on the back, you know, could wear it. I wore that (proudly) for quite a while. I don't know whatever happened to it. And he taught landscaping because he had been taking night classes in landscaping before we moved from Berkeley. He taught bridge because the guys, there was a big group of people who played, played bridge. He, and when, and then when we were in Topaz, he... I don't know that he had a job, steady job until he decided to go outside of the camp, to move from the camp, and he went, moved to Delta where they needed some people to work in the alfalfa mills, a new industry that was developing, pellets to feed animals, alfalfa pellets.

MA: So he actually moved out of Topaz and kind of lived temporarily in Delta?

HC: Yeah, he was given temporary leave first, to live in Delta and come back to camp. But then, even then, when he came back to camp, he had to pay rent because he was no longer living in camp. He had to, I think he had to pay for his meals, too.

MA: Oh, so he had to pay Topaz to come back and stay with his family?

HC: And, and then, and this was especially true when he decided to go out on permanent leave, and he went to someplace in Utah, I think it was American Fork, to, to pick apples and peaches and other kind of fruit. And then he... I don't know where else he went to, to work, but eventually he did go to North Platte, Nebraska, to visit his brother. And that, and then he, that's where he found, he found out that there was a, must have been about 1945 by then, or maybe '44, '45 by then, and he found out that there was a florist that wanted some help with his business as he was just buying a business. And my dad was offered a job with the florist. 'Cause with the florist there was also a house that was next to a greenhouse, and my father was supposed to help to revive that greenhouse business, 'cause the greenhouse was really in bad shape. But as it turned out, my father basically just did the florist part and didn't have much time for doing the greenhouse business because, of course, it takes a lot of time.

MA: So your father then left sort of permanently. Was it to find work or to find a place for his family, for you all to move after the war?

HC: Actually, I think he was hoping that we could move before the war was over, but the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki before, I think it was about the fifteenth of August when we moved, so the camps were being declared that they were going to be closing about that time. So, so it wasn't that we were out of the camp any, any much... at all before the end of the war.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.