Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toyoko Okumura Interview
Narrator: Toyoko Okumura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 6, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-otoyoko-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Before we talk about this next place you went to, can you tell me a little bit about your father and what kind of person he was? If you were to describe him, what was he like?

TO: He was a person that always loved to help others. I think my dad helped about twenty families from Japan. They didn't have any place to go, they'd come over our place, stayed with us, and then Dad would find a job for them.

TI: And was he kind of a talkative person, or was he a quiet person?

TO: No, he wasn't...

TI: He must have been a strong person, as a judo instructor, he must have had this presence.

TO: Yes, and he was very liked by... I don't know how he'd get in touch with the banks, and they were all willing to help him. So that's why he was able to help the other Japanese that came over, financially, that is. We didn't have the money, but the bank, you know, they trusted him, so he was able to help the others.

TI: And so when your father wanted to go back to Japan, why do you think he wanted to go back to Japan?

TO: Well, he was into Santa Fe, New Mexico, after... let's see, now, after we left Santa Anita. We were separated, and he thought that he would have to go back to Japan.

TI: Okay.

TO: Gonna be sent, you know, back.

TI: Yeah, so I actually forgot that. So your father, did he rejoin you in Jerome, or was he still in Santa Fe?

TO: No, he was in, no, he went with us to Jerome, not from Santa Anita, that's right. It was Jerome, he was sent to New Mexico. It wasn't...

TI: So let me make sure I understand this. So earlier, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a week later, the FBI came and picked him up, and then they brought him to Santa Fe?

TO: No. Then he was able to join us at Santa Anita.

TI: Okay, so they released him to Santa Anita, and then he traveled with you to Jerome.

TO: That's right.

TI: And then from Jerome, they decided to send him back to Santa Fe?

TO: That's right.

TI: Do you know why they, they did that?

TO: Well, being a leader of the Japanese, I guess.

TI: So even within Jerome, he was viewed as a leader?

TO: More or less, yeah.

TI: And they decided, for some reason, to... because already he's in a camp, I mean, he's under guard at Jerome.

TO: Yes.

TI: And they decided to remove him to Santa Fe. Were there, were there kind of events where, where there was either fights or arguments that your father was involved with that led to this?

TO: No. I'm sorry, but I didn't -- it was not in Jerome that he was sent to New Mexico, it was in Tule Lake. And when we got there, there was some young boys...

TI: Okay, good. Okay, so it wasn't Jerome, so he went from Jerome to Tule Lake.

TO: To Tule Lake, yeah.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.