Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Helen Tanigawa Tsuchiya Interview
Narrator: Helen Tanigawa Tsuchiya
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 16, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-thelen-01-0013

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MA: So one thing I wanted to talk to you about is the photos from Gila River. Can you talk a little bit about how you had access to the photos and your principal's role in taking the photos?

HT: Yeah. When I first went to school and then he had the only camera and he was taking pictures and he told me that, you know me, I'm so talkative. I said that, "Boy, you're lucky that you have the camera." He says, "Oh, yeah." And then he said that they're gonna, he's gonna take all kinds of pictures and he's going to make a yearbook. And he made a yearbook, three yearbook, '43, '44, '45. And then he said that, "When I can't take it, I want you to drive the car and take it." And here I am the only one driving a car. They said, "How come you're driving a car?" I said, "I'm just..." And it was not a box camera. It was one of those real expensive cameras that you have to adjust it and do all kinds of stuff. And me, I'm not very good when it comes to stuff like that, but the pictures came out good. It was, it really did. I couldn't believe it.

MA: And these were some of the only photos that were taken in Gila?

HT: In camp, in Gila at the time.

MA: At the time.

HT: Later on the soldiers started coming in. Then they brought their camera in and they started taking pictures, so there'll be a lot. They, the ones that he took for the school, he took our senior picture. And it came out pretty good. And then he sent it to Phoenix and then he can get it developed. But, so then they had a committee for the annual, I called it an annual, but you call it yearbook now I think. After they, they set it up which picture goes where, which picture goes there. And then they set it up and then they send it in, and then the annual would come out. But he said that, "All these pictures, they're extras. You could keep them, Helen." I said, "Oh, boy." I said, "Great. I'll make a book out of them." So he, I think he sold some, too, but, there might be others, but not that I know of, that I think I'm the only one that has 'em right now. There might be others that would, might say something. They'd say, "Hey, I think I brought some, too." He might have done it too, but I can't remember. But most of 'em are real. And, in fact, when I was showing it to the kids, the teacher said, "These are real pictures." I said, "They are. They're not reprints, they're not something else. It's real, real pictures." In fact, one was a funeral of a friend of mine, like I was talking to Tom... David Masumoto is, is an art, he's an editor, he wrote a book about camp. And when his brother -- not his brother, his uncle, passed away in the war, it appeared in a book and says, "photographer unknown." And I talked to him myself, Mr. McVey took it because I have the original. So someday I'd like to send it to him, but...

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.