Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Don Maeda Interview
Narrator: Don Maeda
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mdon-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

CN: So your sister was able to leave after one year. You stayed how many years?

DM: Two years.

CN: Two years and your parents stayed...?

DM: I came out the same time as they did.

CN: How did your dad and your mother fare in Minidoka?

DM: Well, my dad worked at the hospital as a dental technician, And I don't know, I really don't know, they had a lot of friends, a lot of people to talk to.

CN: I mean, they certainly felt the depravation in terms of...

DM: I'm sure they did, but they didn't show it that I know, but my sister, not getting her degree from the University of Washington, just last year or two years ago, somebody in Seattle called me and wanted to know if I was related to Jane Maeda and I said, "Yes I am," and I didn't know this person but they had a baccalaureate ceremony in Washington so she got a diploma through the mail from...

CN: The University of Washington. What was her major there?

DM: Sociology.

CN: So that was good that she was, well...

DM: But she'd never, she was gone by then.

CN: At least she was able to come to Hamline. Was Hamline University accepting a lot of Japanese at that time?

DM: There are not a whole lot but... Macalester had more I believe but there were several at Hamline.

CN: So you're about nineteen, twenty, when you're leaving?

DM: Yeah, I was between eighteen and nineteen but I was drafted. You know, during the war they quit drafting the Nisei and then after they need replacements for the 442 they opened up the draft. And I was in the first -- there were eighteen of us -- and I was in the first group to be drafted in Minidoka so I went up to Boise and I had a, in the back of an open truck, we rode up to Boise, we were sworn in and everything, And the day I was supposed to go, actually go into the service was the day my folks were scheduled to come out to Minnesota. So they gave me a three-month extension to help them get settled.

CN: How did you feel about being drafted, because in Minidoka there was a lot of rumbling about...

DM: Not as bad as Heart Mountain. But there were, I think Minidoka had one of the largest number of volunteers.

CN: Did they? Did you have any misgivings about being drafted?

DM: Not really, I didn't think much about it.

CN: And how about your friends?

DM: I didn't hear of any.

CN: Oh, okay. So you were given an extension and then you brought your parents out to...

DM: Help them get settled.

CN: You brought some articles here about, I think leaving camp, right, and getting settled. I see here, we think this it, it says War Relocation Authority Evacuee Property Report. It's sort of interesting, your personal property, now this is your, Jane Maeda, would that be under, Jane would have had it under, for your parents?

DM: She handled all the legal or...

CN: Well, there are some things, you had refrigerator, washing machine. There's a cedar chest here and you're saying you built that?

DM: I built that in high school. And I have it now.

CN: How about this bedroom set?

DM: That was my folks' old bedroom set and that's long gone.

CN: They had a piano.

DM: Yeah. And my sister, she moved down to Austin, Minnesota, and her daughter has it now, down in Austin.

CN: And this was a piano that was in your home?

DM: My mother and sister took piano lessons.

CN: And then a china closet.

DM: Yeah, my sister got that.

CN: And so you were able to save some dishes and...

DM: Yes, Mother had some china and I'm sure my niece has all that.

CN: Now this personal property was kept for you in Seattle someplace?

DM: Yes, they were put in the warehouses.

CN: Did the government do that or did you...

DM: Yes, the government did all that and apparently they took care of it because everything came in good shape. A lot of people's stuff didn't but ours, I'm pretty sure ours came pretty good.

CN: Okay, I mean, they weren't they were limited. You had a card table, four folding chairs, a combination radio, one desk and one vacuum cleaner in addition to what I just mentioned.

DM: I'm sure we had other things. We had a sofa in the living room and I don't know how they selected what to pack.

CN: They didn't have much time, did they?

DM: No, The time was pretty limited.

CN: So they just selected the things they probably thought they would need.

DM: Right. There again my dad was fortunate. He had this house in Seattle, so when we came out here, Jane, my sister -- I don't know if my dad went or not -- but they sold that house in Seattle so he had the down payment for a house here. So he was able to purchase a house here. In 1945 he bought a house.

CN: Okay, so at nineteen years old, you and mother and dad then...

DM: And small brother...

CN: And little brother came out to Minnesota to join your sister.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.