Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Dave Tatsuno Interview
Narrator: Dave Tatsuno
Interviewer: Aggie Idemoto
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 20, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-tdave-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: But I need to back up in time, just a little bit. After you were notified about the attack in Pearl Harbor, your family needed to move. Were they kept together?

DT: Who is this?

AI: Your family. Were they kept together or were they split up when they had to move on?

DT: Well, first we went to Tanforan racetrack, and then we stayed there for five months.

AI: Together, your whole family.

DT: Yeah, all together. We were in barracks, of course. Now, the people who got there first were sad. They were housed in horse stalls, and my wife's father and mother, they had to stay in horse stalls. We got there later, they had new barracks that they had built, so we got in the new barracks. But that was sad, going into horse stalls. Stench of all that.

AI: So the first arrivals were in horse stalls because the barracks were not complete?

DT: Right.

AI: Is that...

DT: Right.

AI: And this was at Tanforan.

DT: Tanforan.

AI: And when was it that you went to Tanforan, and how long did you remain?

DT: Well, we got there on May the 11th, I think, of '42. And then I left for Topaz in September of '42. And before that, you see, what happened was this: we were scheduled to be moved to Topaz, but what happened? We had rented our house in San Francisco to a couple. We didn't know, we're in a rush to get out, we had to have somebody come in. And so we didn't know this couple, we rented it to them, and they seemed like a very nice couple, and they came to Tanforan with a gallon of hot chicken soup, the first time. Two weeks later they come with a crate of strawberries. And we said, "Gee, these are nice people." We don't know, didn't know them from Adam. Well, one day an announcement was made that, "Those of you that have property in the Bay Area, there may be an opportunity to check with a guard." And I said, "Huh. These are nice people, I don't have to go. Hey, I want to eat some chow mein at the King Inn Restaurant in San Francisco," so I signed up. Well, the whole story short, I got there, found out they had broken into the back and broken into the basement, they were selling some things. It was a long story, but I found out. And so anyway, it was quite a story.

AI: So you had some losses?

DT: Pardon me?

AI: So you had some big losses.

DT: No, we didn't. We got there just in time to catch them before they had gone into the complete, the cellar. Now, if we got there after the war, three years afterwards, it'd be like many other people, nothing left except albums.

AI: So this was during the assembly center time?

DT: Assembly center time.

AI: While you were at Tanforan.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.