Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Sally Sudo Interview
Narrator: Sally Sudo
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ssally-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

SO: Did you finish third grade?

SS: Yes, right.

SO: And then were you released right after that?

SS: Well, we actually left in the summer of 1945, so when I moved to Minnesota I was here in August, so I was ready to start fourth grade in September when school started. So I didn't miss out on any schooling. Our schools pretty much stayed open in camp until June, you know, the normal time.

SO: And then how did you end up in Minnesota?

SS: Well, I actually had, some of my older siblings out already here. What happened was that my oldest brother Fred was the first one who, as soon as they opened up the volunteer system for the military, he was one of the early ones to volunteer to serve in the military. And they sent him to Salt Lake City for his physical but he didn't pass the physical, and so he didn't want to go back to camp, so what he did was he found a job in Salt Lake City as a bellhop at one of the hotels, and he was working there in Salt Lake while the rest of us were in the camp. Well, then the next one to volunteer was my brother Joe and he graduated, he was in the first graduating class of Hunt High School, and he volunteered right out of high school, not so much out of patriotism but because he just wanted to get out of the camps. And he qualified for the MIS, you know, they gave him the Japanese language test and so then he got shipped to Fort... well, at that time it was actually Camp Savage, you know, they weren't at Fort Snelling yet. He went to Savage and he was there being trained in the MIS, and while he was there he contacted my brother Fred in Salt Lake City and he said, "You know, I think you might enjoy living here, and there's a school called the Dunwoody Institute. Why don't I see what we can do about getting you into that school so that you can learn a trade and do something else with your life instead of being a bellhop all your life?" So then he got my brother Fred here, and once my brother Fred was here, because he wasn't in the military and he was just working here, then he was able to send for my sister Amy and she came here and she worked as a stenographer at Fort Snelling. And then he sent for my brother Tom. Now Tom was still in high school, but he refused to go to school while we were in Minidoka, so Fred said, "If you're not going to go to school, come on out here and we'll get you into school here." So they sent for Tom who worked as a houseboy for a family around Lake Calhoun. And then he went to West High School. So there were four of my siblings already here when the war ended, and my parents had no idea what to do afterwards. They had nothing to go back to in Seattle and so my brother Fred said, "I'll see if I can find a house for us," and he actually borrowed money from his employer to put a down payment on a house for us. And then he sent us a picture of the house and we thought it was just beautiful. As soon as we could make arrangements, then it was three days after Japan surrendered, August 18th, that we boarded the trains to come out here to Minneapolis.

SO: So then the whole family ended up out here?

SS: Yes. Actually, by that time, my oldest sister Marian got married while she was in the camp and she had a child, and so even she and her husband and the child came to Minneapolis and we all lived in this big house that Fred found for us in South Minneapolis.

SO: Okay. And then did your whole family stay? They didn't all stay in Minnesota?

SS: No, Marian and her husband and child were the first to leave. Her husband Isamu just couldn't take the cold winters here and so he found a job back in Seattle, so their family moved back to Seattle and they've lived there ever since. But the rest of us really stayed on until we either got married or went off to school or for some other reason left the city, but a good many of us grew up here. So I was here from fourth grade and all the way through the University of Minnesota.

SO: What did your father do?

SS: He went to work first at the Curtis Hotel, which used to be one of the big downtown hotels, and they worked in their kitchen. But he really struggled with that job because his English was just not that good. In Seattle he could get by because we were in this Japanese community, but here it was just a struggle for him and so he ended up being sort of like, doing a janitor's job at St. Mary's Hospital which is now Fairview University Hospital. It's down over there off of Riverside Avenue, and he did that for many years. But I would say of everybody in our family, for my father, that whole internment experience was really devastating. Because when you think that he had been in this country from 1899 and the war didn't start until 1941, I mean, that's forty years of living as a respectable immigrant, I mean, he only had his green card because he wasn't allowed to be a citizen. But he always obeyed the law and never got into any trouble, and then to lose everything like he did. And then he also felt like he was no longer the head of the family. The fact that more and more he had to rely on his own sons because of the language barrier and the fact that he couldn't earn the proper income to provide for us all. That really my brother Fred almost took over the role of being the fatherly figure in the family.

SO: Did your parents become citizens?

SS: My mother did. My father never did. But as soon as they were eligible in 1953 my mother went to those civics classes and she took the test and she became a citizen.

SO: Why didn't your father? Was he still alive?

SS: Yes, he was still living. I just think that he was, probably he was bitter still and then he probably felt like, "Is there any use to becoming a citizen at this point?" By the time we got out of the camp and we moved here, he was already sixty-four years old, so you picture someone at that age, when you should be getting ready to retire, having lost everything, having to work and try to build up something again, he was very discouraged.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.