Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Doris Nitta Interview
Narrators: Doris Nitta
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 10, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ndoris-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral interview for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This morning we're talking with Doris Taketa and our interview is taking place at Main Street Station in Las Vegas, Nevada. The date of our interview is August 10, 2010, the videographer is Mark Hatchmann and Joanna is recording notes. Your last name Joanna?

JB: Blial.

RP: Blial. And Richard Potashin is the interviewer. We'll be talking with Doris about her experiences as a former internee at the Fresno Assembly Center, the Jerome War Relocation Center, and the Rohwer War Relocation Center and framing our discussion with her experiences before and after World War II. Our interview will be archived in the Park's Library, and Doris, do I have your permission to go ahead and continue our interview?

DT: Sure.

RP: Thank you very much for -- time today.

DT: My pleasure.

RP: To come up and share your family history with us. First of all can you give us your date of birth and where you were born?

DT: December 28, 1929, in Florin, California.

RP: Were you born at home or at a hospital nearby in Sacramento?

DT: I think at the midwife's home. We had midwives... my mother, I mean a lot of the people didn't go to hospital. It was either home or midwife, 'cause she had a place that all the kids were born.

RP: Like a birthing home?

DT: Yes.

RP: She serviced the Florin, Elk Grove area?

DT: Yes, I believe so I was there but I don't remember exactly. [Laughs]

RP: And what was your given name at birth, Doris?

DT: Doris Yukiko Taka Nitta, N-I-T-T-A.

RP: And you always used your American name?

DT: Well, let's see. My relatives called me Do for short and then my mother's friends called me Yuki-chan and "yuki" is snow, white, I mean I guess I was born in the winter time so they called me Yuki.

RP: And who gave you the name Doris, do you know?

DT: I believe it was my mother's cousin. 'Cause they didn't know too much English so I understand her cousin gave him the name.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: We'd like to get an idea of your family background. Can you share with us what you know about your family? Who came first to America?

DT: I really don't know exactly, but my grandfather came I think about 1913. It's approximate because I should have asked my father before he died but I didn't think anything of it but now I'm sorry that I didn't ask him. But I believe he came about 1913 and he became a barber and he made enough money so he went back about 1919 to Japan. 'Cause it was not his intention to live here, just enough money to make to make it easy for him in Japan.

RP: Where did he come from in Japan?

DT: Hiroshima.

RP: And he never came back to the United States?

DT: No.

RP: Do you know what he did with his money there? Did he buy land or set up a business?

DT: Well, he had land... now I don't know if he bought it after or before. But my father was the oldest but he came to America so he gave the land to his younger brother who became a doctor. My father sent money to Japan to let him become a doctor but during the war he took his family and I can't remember exactly, but either went to Manchuria or someplace to get away so he didn't have to go fight for the army. And then after the war they sneaked back to Japan but I don't exactly know where he went, someplace.

RP: Do you recall your grandfather's name on your father's side?

DT: No, those are the things I'm sorry that I didn't get from my father 'cause he was willing to tell me a lot of things.

RP: And your father's name was Joichi Nitta? And do you know roughly when he came to America?

DT: He came to America about let's see about 19 -- let's see 19 -- it must have been about 1915 or '16 because his sister was born, I mean, was married to a man who was kind of crippled. In Japan they... everybody they have a little coal or coal stove or fireplace and everybody puts their leg, feet in to keep warm and then they covered themselves with blankets. And he got burned so he was crippled a little bit and so when my father came he wanted to go to school. He started school and he wanted to become a pharmacist but his sister was working so hard helping her husband that my father gave up going to school to help his sister.

RP: Where did he go to school?

DT: Florin Grammar School.

RP: And you said he was interested in becoming a pharmacist? Did he also go to a high school?

DT: No, I think he quit when, after fourth or fifth grade.

RP: Do you remember his sister's name?

DT: No. Oh, she died when during World War I they had that bad flu and she died of flu. So her children, well, her husband remarried another woman and so this lady, my father wanted to take the three kids that his sister had, but this lady said she'll take care of them, the stepmother said she'll take care of the three kids. And so she got her -- well, that's when her husband died, but anyway when her husband died, I'm getting a lot of, out of sequence, but when her husband died she was supposed to take care of the kids. And then she had insurance, three or four thousand, but at that time insurance, I mean, that was a lot of money and my father said, "Keep the money for the kids, to educate the kids," because they were his nieces and nephew. Well, she went out and bought a car and totaled it so there went the money. But she sent two of her stepchildren, my father's nieces, to Japan so she was able to live my side of the family, I mean, my father's side of the family and my mother's side of the family 'cause my father's sister married my mother's uncle so they all knew each other in Japan. And in Japan they say, they're very class conscious and so you have to be very careful who you marry especially in Hiroshima.

RP: Why is that?

DT: Well, that's the way it is. Where, you don't marry below your class. We were just plain middle class so it really didn't matter, but they were very conscious. And people like funeral directors were lower class so when there's death in the family they won't allow you to take the body, they wouldn't allow you to come in, only to the porch. Because dead body and things like that, that's really kind of a low class job even if they make a lot of money. But I guess in Japan they didn't and in Hiroshima there's a lot of them so they kind of make sure you don't marry below your class. And my mother and father even to this day were very conscious and when my nephew got married they had to check the family out. And the other side checked our side too.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: You mentioned your mother. Let's talk about her a little bit. First of all give us her name?

DT: Shizuko Kadokawa.

RP: Spell her last name for us?

DT: K-A-D-O-K-A-W-A.

RP: And where was she from?

DT: She was from Hiroshima too.

RP: Do you know the circumstances of their getting together? Did your father go back to Japan to marry her and bring her to the United States or did she come as a "picture bride"?

DT: No, my father knew her because his sister and my mother's uncle got married and I'm sure they saw each other. They're not blood relatives but, and I think my father had an eye on her. So he had a go-in-between, everything in Japan is go-in-between so he had a go-in-between and they came to my mother's side and asked for her. And my mother I think liked my father too so they got together and they got married December 25, 1920 and then I guess couple weeks later she came to America with him.

RP: What do you remember about both your mother and your father? Tell us a little bit about their personalities, their physical appearance and your vivid memories of them.

DT: Oh, my mother was a very attractive woman but she was highly opinionated. And I think her oldest daughter was her favorite and I was her least favorite. Usually the youngest is... but I didn't have the beauty that my two sisters had and I was dark, and if you're dark you're not as pretty. And my two sisters were very, very light so she favored them. And my father favored me but my father, they were both very strict and I always say that if they were living today they would have been stuck in jail. Because it was nothing to spank us or like me, if I even talked back or didn't finish dinner, they just yanked me and take me outside and then lock the door and wouldn't let me in the house until I apologize. And I'm still scared of the dark to this day. But that's how it was and we didn't have to have police when we were young because church was our main police and everything we did they said, Well, what would your neighbors say?" there were so many Japanese neighbors. They were the one that ruled the community. They'd say, what will the neighbors say, don't put shame to the family. Everything was don't put shame to the family. They were very Japanesey. And before we ate we had to say, itadakimasu, that's "may we eat" and after we ate we had to say, itadakimashita desu, that's "thank you for eating." And when we went to school we had to say, ite kimasu, that's "we're going" and then we came home we had to say, tadaima, kaerimashita, you know, "we're home." It was very... they were very... my mother was very Japanesey but she was a very capable person because she came when she was about seventeen I guess but she was able to sew and she cooked. Everything she did she was a perfectionist, so she never let me into the kitchen. When I said, "Well, could I help?" she says, "No, you go, you don't have to come in," and she did everything. And when we went she had all the food all prepared for us to eat. And then after we finished she says, "You can go home now," we didn't have to do the dishes. And my father got after her told her that she should teach us but no. So I never knew how to cook until I got married and then I made the same simple things. But then when I was about seventy, my sister wouldn't cook, my other sister didn't cook, my sister-in-law wasn't too well and my mother and my mother-in-law were gone so I started to cook. And my husband said I was a late bloomer because I was making all the Japanese dishes for New Year's 'cause my mother made it all... my mother and my mother-in-law.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Eventually your father was able to acquire enough money to purchase some land? And where was that?

DT: Well, he helped his brother-in-law. But one year they made a lot of money and his brother, in Japanese homes they have a bath with a tin bathtub and little pallet on top because you had a little fireplace and you burned woods and things and heated the water. Well, that year they made so much money that his brother really worked up this fireplace and all the men were drunk, they were celebrating and they got drunk and the house burned down. The bathhouse, it's a separate place but it was attached to the house and it burned and it burned the whole house down and all the money. And my father, the only thing he could think of was what he's going to sleep on next night so he said he tried to drag the mattress out through the window, nobody even thought about the money. Of course the rest of them were drunk, but my father could've got the money but he didn't get the money, he was more interested in the mattress. So the house burned down, the money burned down and nobody got paid and then they had to start anew.

RP: And your father purchased forty acres?

DT: And I don't know when he did that. He must have done it about 1922, 1921, no it had to be 1922 'cause my sister was born in 1922 and he already had the land bought.

RP: He was an Issei and he was ineligible for American citizenship. How did he work around that?

DT: No, let's see, we figured about 1913 they had a land law, I don't know exactly, but immigrants couldn't buy land. And so my dad couldn't buy land so he had his neighbor's son buy the land in his name and then when my sister became eighteen then they changed it to my sister's name. But all the Japanese people did that. If they bought it before 1913 or something they could buy it in their name, but my father wasn't eligible. And then when I can't remember now where they were able to become citizens and our minister at church, must have been about 1950 so I can't remember. But anyway, minister conducted a class and they all became citizens and my mom and dad went to that class and became citizens and my dad was able to change the name to his name.

RP: Do you remember that day when they became citizens?

DT: Yes.

RP: What was that like?

DT: Well, I guess they were thrilled but it was kind of, it was okay, you know. 'Cause I don't know, I should have been real excited for them but I wasn't. 'Cause I was a citizen and so I didn't even think of it, I don't even know if I went to the graduation. I can't remember going to their graduation but I know there were quite a few people that the minister taught.

RP: Just to go back a little bit, when your mother and father came to the United States or your father was bringing your mom back to the United States, you have an interesting incident that occurred relative to Angel Island. What happened?

DT: Well, something, I guess some disease or contagious disease or something was going on over there and Mama and Papa didn't have to stop there and everybody else stopped there but I don't know. I understand that Mama and Papa didn't have to stop there they just came directly to the states.

RP: And your father, like many of these Issei guys, worked really hard to get their land in shape. Can you describe to us how your father worked the land to get it into a condition to plant grapes and strawberries?

DT: Well, Papa's land was very hilly and it wasn't level at all. And he had to use a small scraper and a horse and I don't know how he was able to level that land and see that it was level. Because it was just through his eyes I don't think you were able to measure like laser now you can... and then you have that great big equipment. And I don't know how long it took him to do that but he was a very small, you know, small man so he must have really worked hard. But there was a creek right in the middle of this land, forty acres, and you can't change the contour of the land so he moved that creek to the end of his land 'cause otherwise he couldn't plant a lot of things. And it's Elder Creek and they made it into a canal now, it's pretty deep but my dad moved that over. To this day I can't imagine how he did it and his land was all level 'cause he had strawberries, first he planted strawberries and then he put little grape vines in it. But only my mom could... he was such a perfectionist everything had to be measured and she was the only one who could do it for him. Because they had Caterpillars going through and you have to have everything so that you don't run over your grapes. But they planted grape in the strawberry field and so first they had strawberries and then by the time the strawberries were no good they had grapes, kind of coming up. But that land was pretty level and where it was not level he would put little mounds of dirt and then put newspaper to kind of hold back the water. Every so often he had but not very much so he was... and then he was a carpenter and I don't know where he learned carpenter 'cause he came here and he used to build his own buildings. But he had a man who knew how to work carpentry and I guess he learned from him. And he did plumbing, he did electrical, he just did everything and I guess he just learned from somebody else or just by reading, I don't know. But my mom and dad were perfectionists and they were able to do all that.

RP: Did you have farm animals too?

DT: We had chickens and they fought over who was going to chop the chickens' head. [Laughs] Mama wouldn't do it and Papa wouldn't do it 'cause Papa was kind of a soft hearted person and Mama ended up doing it. And they chopped it... well, Papa did sometimes, and they'd chop the head and the chicken would just be running around, no head. And then one of us would have to put it in hot water 'cause you can't just pull the feathers. So then we got the job of picking the feathers, then Mama would put a newspaper or something so that all the little pin head or whatever would burn off. But that's what we had for animal, but my dad had horses, two horses for the land before he bought a Caterpillar but that was just for farm work. But then we had eggs and we had the job of going getting the eggs. We didn't want to do that 'cause the chickens didn't like you going in their hen house. [Laughs] And then my mom always had vegetables. After work she'd work from sunrise to sunset just about, but they always had all kinds of vegetables. And then she canned it and she like cured it and so we had vegetables. And then my dad, somehow he was I guess they must have... everybody like him 'cause he had all kinds of unusual fruits and he had a fruit orchard just for the kids. And so we had chestnuts and we had pomegranates and cherries and persimmons, that flat persimmon, I think we were the only... first ones to get that flat persimmon. And then we had that persimmon that puckers. Well, Mom used to peel that and you peel... you have to cut it certain way and she peeled it and she hung it up and then she would massage it and all that sugar would come out and she would send it to her friends. But they just... so we never did go without eating, we always had fruits or vegetables and then we had the eggs and chicken and I guess they bought fish or sometimes she'd go over someplace and she'd bring home things, you know. But families all kind of shared everything that you didn't have.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: So you grew up during the Depression years and it sounds like you weren't for want of food.

DT: No, and then my mother would drive. She wasn't the best driver and they didn't have license or anything, but she would drive to a certain place and then she would take the bus and go into town and get material and we always had nice clothes. She would sew coats and dresses for us.

RP: Now was there any type of a downtown Florin area with stores and a community?

DT: Yeah, they had a grocery store and it was a one horse town and if you blinked you might miss it. But we had five, ten, fifteen cent store and I think we had three grocery stores and then a shoemaker and then a tofu factory and a basket factory for strawberries. And we had a gas station and let's see, and a mechanic, garage.

RP: And that was all in Florin?

DT: Just, you know, two or three blocks. And then we had two churches, Buddhist church and a Christian church and also a Caucasian church across the street, Methodist Caucasian church. But the whole community was centered on Buddhist church or Christian church.

RP: You said those two churches sort of had a competition with each other.

DT: Yes, basketball and things like that was, you know. But I was... I guess I played one or two years but that was... the older played and then our church was... our minister's wife was a very educated lady I guess because they all kind of this Japanese opera, well not a Japanese opera but stage show and they put wigs and dresses and every year she had that.

RP: So where in Florin did your... where was your farm located in Florin?

DT: It was on Florin Perkins Road and let's see, it was northeast of the town. But Florin is a very big area.

RP: It's primarily a grape and strawberry growing community and predominantly Japanese American families.

DT: Yes.

RP: Who were some of your neighbors do you recall?

DT: Well, my neighbors, one side was Okamoto and then next was Tsukamoto and then next one was Nishimura and next one was -- I forgot that one. But then on the other side was Hirabara and then back of that was Yasui and oh, they were all Japanese but I can't recall all of them but I have a map with all the names on there.

RP: Was your father part of a cooperative? Some of the farmers got together and formed co-ops.

DT: Well, I really don't know if... well, I really don't know because I know he borrowed money from them to have grapes and then he paid back. But I don't know if it was a co-op or if it was... what they called it association, so I don't know.

RP: Doris, you were talking about the kind of social life of the Florin community revolved around the churches, particularly in your case the Methodist church, Japanese Methodist Church. Tell us some of the activities, how involved were you in the church, how much did that mean to you at an early age?

DT: Well, everything for us is either before the war and after the war, everything. So before the war, well, I went to a segregated grammar school until... let's see now... and then we went to an integrated school, seventh and eighth grade. And everything was geared at church and we had picnics and then Easter we had Easter egg hunt and Easter sunrise service and movies, we had Japanese movies. And even the Buddhist church had it but we had it and we used to have it inside the church, I mean, inside the social hall because we had a big social hall. And I don't know afterwards we had it outside but at church my mother and father would go along all around the area and try to sell tickets and everybody who bought tickets or... I don't know how the amount went but my father would write all this on the butcher paper 'cause he had nice handwriting. He would put all their names and how much, just you know, that was one thing about Japanese. Well, you see somebody giving so much, well, you don't want to be less than that so then you give more and that's how they ran the church. That was one of their fundraisers. And then we were a school so we would take blanket and we would save, right after school we would save all the... and people used to be really upset about us but that's what we did, we saved for our parents 'cause they had to come, they had to go home after work and then they would have to take bath and eat and come. And by that time somebody else might beat us to it so bunch of us all put blankets so we could save places for them. [Laughs]

RP: At the church?

DT: Well, Buddhist people did the same thing. But then our picnic was a big deal too, you know.

RP: Where was that held?

DT: Sometimes at William Ladd Park, it was usually at a park but, oh my mother would go to one neighbor, close neighbor, now what are you going to bring. And then they'd go the next neighbor and say, what are you going to bring. they all would get together but it was such a big deal that she had to go to all of her neighbors to plan. And she wasn't supposed to be driving but you know, no license and no traffic and she could've been driving right in the middle of the road or going around and no traffic so it didn't matter. [Laughs]

RP: So what do you remember kids doing at the picnic?

DT: Well, playing games, they always made sure that there were plenty of games, plenty of prizes and things. But that was really a big deal. Or races and things like that.

RP: Both of your parents came from Hiroshima, was there any type of a prefectural association in the area?

DT: No, just the church. Because there were people from Hiroshima in all these different places, but after the war now there were but not that I remember. My dad was very active in church and he would go to all these conferences and everything. If they have it in Florin he would make speeches, he or Mom, well they made speeches with such fancy language we didn't even know what they were talking about. It was really high class but when they talked to us they talked to us in Hiroshima voice and Hiroshima is different, I mean Tokyo is different and you know, Tokyo is very fancy but Hiroshima is kind of a common. But we had to speak Japanese at home. So when we went to school we'd go hide in the corner they told us we couldn't speak Japanese, well, we'd just go hide in the corner and speak Japanese. But even in grammar school a lot of my friends got held back just like Bill on first grade they had got held back. But he wasn't dumb but he was just slow in learning English I guess. But luckily, even if my sister, she was held back but she never spoke English at home so I don't know how I was lucky to have not held back.

RP: We should mention your siblings. You had two sisters? And Miyoko?

DT: Miyoko. It was Connie Miyoko Nitta and she was --

RP: How old... how much older?

DT: She's seven years older that I am. And then Grace Nobuko was three years older than I am. She got held back just like Bill, so Bill and Grace were, we call them, crib mates because his mother used to come pick strawberries and they would put both Bill and my sister in different cribs but they never ended up together. [Laughs]

<End Segment 5> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Let's talk a little bit more about your experience at the segregated grammar school. That was the Florin East School.

DT: Yeah, Florin Grammar School East. We didn't know any better so if it was segregated that was okay. And the teachers were pretty strict but we learned a lot.

RP: And were your teachers Caucasians or Japanese?

DT: They were all Caucasians, very good teachers.

RP: Do you remember any of them in particular?

DT: Yes, Mrs. Kauflin, she was real, real nice, she was an older person and then one night I guess when it was dark, I mean cold in the wintertime, my mom must have put that wine jug and wrapped it in a towel to keep us warm and I got a great big burn here. And so Mrs. Kauflin would change, kind of doctor it up for me and that I remember about her, but she was very nice. And then next teacher was Miss Thomas, I guess Miss Kauflin had first and second grade and Ms. Thomas was third grade. Very, very strict but we learned a lot. We didn't say boo in there, I mean none of the class we spoke back 'cause if they ever sent home a note, we'd get it from our parents. And then my fourth and fifth class was Mrs. Jenkins and then so I guess fifth and sixth I must have gone to... fifth and sixth I must have gone to the segregated school. But I guess it was Mrs. Jackson, I can't remember now but I remembered the first four grades.

RP: Now where was the school that the Caucasians kids, the white kids went to?

DT: It was... our school was west... no, east side of town and the integrated school was on the west side.

RP: How far was the integrated school from your school?

DT: Couldn't be more than five miles. 'Cause there was a railroad and people on the east side of the railroad went to Manzanar or Jerome and people on the west side of the railroad track went to Tule Lake.

RP: So you, like you said, you didn't know any better as far as you never asked your mom why were all Japanese in this class at school?

DT: Mary Tsukamoto I understand was the one who fought to integrate the school.

RP: It was integrated I think in 1939.

DT: Let's see now. Two years before we left so '40, I think around '40.

RP: So she was a strong force in integrating the school?

DT: She was not... no, she was an educated lady but everything, I think she was born with it. Like public speaking, she was really well-known and she was a big force in helping everybody.

RP: What was the difference like having attended segregated school and then going to an integrated grammar school?

DT: I guess they didn't like us but we didn't know any better 'cause there were so many of us. [Laughs] I think there were more Japanese than the Caucasians I don't know. they didn't like us it didn't bother me because we had so many friends I guess we kind of stuck with each other and then eventually everything worked out. 'Cause I'm sure they didn't like us.

RP: Well, yes I know you were still pretty young but you were sort of in the... sort of epicenter of discrimination and hatred towards Japanese.

DT: Yes.

RP: The newspapers, the politicians the exclusion law in the 1924, there was even a reference in Mary's book about your father listening to one of the speeches that was given by the U.S. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, about dealing with the "Japanese problem."

DT: Well, everything was political and in Florin, maybe the young kids, our classmates, didn't like us but their parents were worse. Because some of them have money and they were pretty powerful but some of them didn't have money, they were just as powerful and they didn't want us around. But I didn't know any better.

RP: Do you have any ideas or opinions why there was so much hatred towards Japanese Americans at that time?

DT: Well, the way I understand, there were a lot of farmers, very successful farmers, and they wanted them out. That's all I understood but I think it was all political. They said that they wanted to protect from being... from us fighting with Japan. There wasn't any spy or anything, none of the Japanese Americans did that. We were all for... as far as we were concerned we didn't know any better and we were Americans. And being kind of young, I just didn't even think about it, and when we went in camp I didn't even think anything of it because my mom and dad, we were with them so we didn't care. But I'm sure it hurt them because the strawberries, we hadn't even picked, and they were just ripe on the plants and they had to give that up, they had to leave that, they never even picked the strawberries. And the grapes, there was a lot of work and we just had to... we were just lucky that Bob took care of it, otherwise we would have just had to leave it.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: We'll talk about Bob in just in a few minutes here. I just wanted to go over a few more sort of prewar questions here. You attended Japanese language school, you said you spoke Japanese at home so you pretty well, knew the language.

DT: Yes, I think... I don't know... let's see now it must have been about second or third grade our minister, all the parents wanted to have Japanese school so the minister and his wife taught the Japanese school and it was all on Saturdays. Buddhist church was every afternoon but Saturdays we went, well, I didn't learn anything. [Laughs] I think I was pretty good maybe first or second grade because it was easy. After that, but Mama and Papa used to give us, I can't remember, ten or fifteen cents for lunch money and you could buy anything you want. Boy, that was a big thing and that's what we went to the grocery store and bought whatever we wanted and took it to Japanese school. And I should be ashamed because our minister's daughter was my best friend but I didn't do so good. I can't write, I guess if I saw the character I could write, but my sister, she wrote to Japan all the time after the war and she spoke very nicely but I was too Americanized I guess. [Laughs]

RP: It was more important to eat lunch and mingle with your friends.

DT: That's right, that's right, and play, we had all these different plays we never had toys so you cut up sticks and you make little puddle and then just play sticks you know. And if you hit somebody's stick and you try to make that one go down, that was kind of things we played, 'cause none of us had toys and that was okay.

RP: Did you have any dolls growing up?

DT: Not that I know of 'cause my, you know, my mom couldn't afford it and nobody else, I didn't see anybody else, but I think maybe before the war my brother -- no, that was after the war. My brother-in-law bought me a teddy bear and everybody called me "teddy bear" but it was after the war, not before. But we made little like lumber, there was a little thing that pops out, I don't know what you call it... anyway those are the things we use for money and put five cents and we'd play store or we'd play hopscotch or we got ball 'cause we used to throw it over the barn and run across and try to hit someone. We made our own thing but we had marbles, oh, we played marbles for keeps. [Laughs]

RP: So most of your girlfriends were Japanese American. You had very little contact with Caucasians until you got into the integrated school. How did you get to school? Were you bused to school?

DT: Oh, we had to walk. The buses didn't run our way, they went around different places but I don't know why they didn't run on Florin Perkins Road 'cause there were two families that had kids, so I guess not enough people so we had to walk. And there was one man that went to work and if we went out to the road in time because our road, our driveway was one-fourth mile you know, that's a long drive. So we had to time it so we'd get out there before he did and we'd be sure to get a ride. And then there was another man that went to work about certain time well, if we were little away from his driveway, he would never pick us up. But if we were beyond his driveway he would pick us up. So we hurriedly got there so we got a ride and then on rainy days is the only day my dad took us. And it was about five miles I guess, four or five miles to school but there was... it wasn't scary 'cause you didn't see anything. It was nothing like kidnapping or anything like that. And then my girlfriend and I we might meet and then on coming home we'd go through this ranch and they had red, dark red pomegranates and we'd steal them and then eat them. And then there was swimming pool that was deserted and someone had a raft there and we would play on the raft. If we got... if we drowned my parents wouldn't even know where to look for us because those are things we played on the way home. Then there was a walnut, black walnut tree and we didn't have black walnuts and then the cars would run over the black walnuts and then then we had a rock and I think a brick or something and we'd break that and we'd eat the black walnuts on the way home. [Laughs] And then we'd go to my girlfriend's and they had leftover rice that was burnt, I don't know why her mother always burned her rice but we would go in there and eat a snack of burnt rice. [Laughs]

RP: Did your father ship his produce, the berries and the grapes, did he bring his produce to Sacramento or did somebody come and pick up his produce? Do you know how he worked that out?

DT: He was a member of some kind of association I guess and he would take it to the association and they would sell the strawberries and then the grapes was some other association. So he never took it to town.

RP: He never had to haul it?

DT: No.

RP: Okay, what kind of grapes did he grow?

DT: Tokay.

RP: And were those, those are --

DT: Table grapes, and then after he was through with table grapes then we would haul it to the winery. But that was to Elk Grove but we... great big huge boxes. we'd have to pick it, just strip it and then he would take it to winery.

RP: How did those grapes and strawberries taste to you as a kid?

DT: We had so much of it that it didn't even phase us, and the strawberries we had at that time were very, very tasty, it was Oregon plum or something, you can't get that now because it doesn't last too long. And then we'd pick it when it's nice and ripe so, but when you have it so much you just don't even think about it. And grapes too we had that but the strawberries you buy in stores you can't compare it. But they don't sell grapes now I don't think in stores, I haven't seen it. And then my dad had Thompson seedless and boy was that ever good.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: So how did you find out about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

DT: Well, I think we were all at church and my mother's cousin came and made the announcement. But being kids, I don't think we were in church, we were probably in Sunday school. 'Cause he came to the worship service or someplace and told everybody. But Pearl Harbor meant nothing to us until I guess my mom or somebody explained it.

RP: Did you see any changes in your parents' behavior after Pearl Harbor? Any changes when you went to school the next day? And at that time you were going to the integrated school right?

DT: I'm sure there were a lot of talking behind our back but we didn't notice and my mom and dad they tried to shield us from a lot of things so I'm sure they whispered. But until they started packing I didn't think too much of it.

RP: Your father was involved heavily in the church. Were there other community groups or associations that he was a part of?

DT: Just church and the Japanese school, so he had his suitcase all packed because they said that certain people were going to be picked up and he thought he was going to be picked up. But a lot of our friends were picked up, but not my father.

RP: Was your farm ever visited by the FBI?

DT: No, not that I know of. But they said, oh, be looking out for a black car. [Laughs] They thought that they were going to pick my dad up. But luckily he didn't have to go but I don't know what my mother would have done 'cause she was really dependent on him.

RP: How about your older sister? Had she married by this time?

DT: Yeah, she was already married. I guess she was married about one or two years and she was living in Lodi and then when evacuation came she came back from Lodi to be sure that our family stayed together. A lot of people moved from the east side of the railroad to the... to east side from the west or back and forth because they wanted to stay with their relatives or family or something so they were moving back and forth.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Doris Taketa, and Doris, we were talking about the days, the weeks, the months after Pearl Harbor and how your life began to change. You said that the strawberry crop was ready to pick.

DT: Yes.

RP: And that had to be left behind. What arrangements did your parents make or your father to, as far as protecting his land? Was he able to find somebody took over the farm for him?

DT: Al Tsukamoto asked Bob Fletcher who used to be an inspector at the grape association to take care of his land. And I think that Al said he'll take over Al's -- I mean Bob said that he'll that he'll take over at Al's land and then next land, Bill Okamoto's land and my father's land, Joichi Nitta. And luckily we had Bob take care of it because otherwise we would have lost it because Papa still owed money for the land. And so Bob took care of three properties and I don't know how he did it because that was about 120 acres. And he must have worked I would say about sixteen, eighteen hours a day, 'cause I'm sure he did all the tractor work and then... well, when we left I think it was irrigation time and there were a lot of things to do like tying the tops and [inaudible] in and taking the leaves so that the leaves won't be stuck on the grapes to make the grape ripen, same time. Well, and I don't know where he got the workers 'cause everybody, all the Japanese were in camps and all the able-bodied men were in armed forces. So he must have gone to downtown recruited all the Mexican or Filipino people or maybe the high school boys. I never asked him but I'm supposed to have an interview, I mean, have another video taken at Bob's place one of these days and I have to ask him questions because there are questions that I have that I haven't got answered. But anyway, that was a humongous job I think for Bob and I'm sure his wife, Teresa, had to go and recruit all the kids for workers because it was so much work. But he managed and then he kept all the books, separate books, and sent my dad fifty percent of the net -- no, he didn't send -- fifty percent of the net profit he paid the taxes and he paid the mortgage, and for 1942, '43 he paid the mortgage and in 1944 he paid mortgage and the balance of the money he sent us a check. And so he was really helpful, otherwise we would have no place to come home.

RP: Did Bob have a farming background previously?

DT: No, he was just a UC Davis graduate and he took up agriculture. And so he was an inspector so he, just being an inspector you wouldn't know how to run all that farm and all the detail and everything. So it was amazing what he did and he said it was hard work and I imagine it was very hard but anybody else would have quit in the middle I think. But I'm sure it was just a handshake, I don't think it was a contract or anything. At that time it was just handshake or we'll take care of it and that was it. He could've walked away but now you even have a hard contract and people could walk away.

RP: Did your father have previous contact with Bob before the war?

DT: Well, he did inspecting of Papa's grape so he knew what kind of grape Papa had. Because Tsukamotos and Okamotos, their grapevines were older but ours were quite the young grapes so I think we was interested in Papa's work, I think 'cause my father, he did real good job and I'm pretty sure Bob knew that.

RP: And do where Bob Fletcher lived while he was caretaking the three farms?

DT: He might have lived at the Tsukamotos' I'm not sure, he might of but might of he and Teresa were already married so they might have lived in Florin but I'm not really sure. But all our furniture were stored at Tsukamotos' and so when we came back... our house was a real old, old house it didn't have any foundation or anything it was all built in 19 about '22 or '23 so we didn't have air conditioner or heat or air conditioner you just open the windows on both sides and the air went through. [Laughs]

RP: So during the time that you were gone to camp, nobody lived in your house?

DT: I don't think so. I don't think anyone wanted to. [Laughs] They could have bought any house you know.

RP: Are you aware of other Caucasians like Bob Fletcher who took over Japanese American farms in the Florin area?

DT: No. I think Jerry Kara I think might of rented my brother-in-laws father's land, but no one took over the way, and send us the net profits. Now that was really nice of Bob.

RP: Were there other Caucasians who came to support you or help you in any way before you left?

DT: Well, Jerry was, Jerry Kara was I guess my brother-in-law's friend, I think he's the one who took us to the train station. But Bob came after us after the war when we came back in August, 1945.

RP: And what was Jerry's last name again?

DT: Kara, K-A-R-A.

RP: And who was Jerry?

DT: Well, he was born to a very wealthy lady and he was not a farmer, he was a postman. But I think he took care of my brother-in-law's land but his wife was from a very wealthy family so I think they bought up a lot of the land. And he ended up running a grocery store, a big grocery store in Florin.

RP: Now how did you find out that you were going to have to leave your home? Did your parents talk to you about that or do you remember at all how you found out about that?

DT: Well, I guess they must have mentioned it but I never thought anything of it 'cause we were all going together and they were packing and everything and I didn't help pack, you know, my parents and my... I guess my sister helped but all I know is they were packing and we were leaving.

RP: Do you remember what they took for you or what they packed?

DT: No, but whatever they packed was enough for us I guess.

RP: Did you have any pets?

DT: No. Oh, we had a dog, we had a dog and Bob took care of it but it got run over while we were in camp.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: So Jerry Nara, he was the one who took you to the train station in Elk Grove?

DT: Jerry Kara, yes.

RP: Kara, right. And can you take us back to that time at the train station? What it was like, what do you remember about just what the scene was like at that time?

DT: Well, the only thing I can remember was it was pretty hot. And we had to wait here, wait there, everything was wait and everything was in line. And you have to wait for... it's funny, when your mom and dad is with you, I guess you feel pretty secure. If I was sixteen or seventeen or married I guess I would really resent it and I'm sure my mom and dad had bad feelings but they never showed it to us.

RP: And tell us, you began to describe a little bit how a community of Florin was sort of divided up and who went to what camp and also maybe you can work in Mary Tsukamoto because there was apparently some ill feelings generated by the perception that she was in charge of telling people where they went.

DT: Okay, people living on west side of railroad track went to Tule Lake and people living on east side of the railroad track went to Manzanar or Jerome. They first went to Fresno Assembly Center, but everybody who went to sign up in the morning on the east side of the railroad track were all going to Jerome and anyone after Jerome was all filled up, no let's see, okay, everybody after Jerome certain number of people were assigned to Jerome and we did not, our family did not go to sign up in the morning. Well, Mary was in charge, kind of, she was really, she was very active in JACL and she was there trying to make sure everybody got assigned to different places. Well, all her relatives were... we're her relative too because she is my mother's cousin's wife. Well, she made sure all the relatives went to Jerome, Fresno and Jerome, well, we showed up late and she forgot about us. There were so many details and she says, "Oh my goodness, Nittas, I forgot get them signed up to Jerome to go with the relatives," so she had to cross off a family that was signed up to go to Jerome and she got 'em off the Jerome list and put 'em into Manzanar. And so they found out that Mary was involved so they were very, very unhappy so when we came back, they were working at my dad's grape, I don't know, I guess they were, I don't know where they were living I guess they must have been living in Lodi and they came from Lodi or maybe they were renting in Florin. But anyway, this lady was, oh, my mother's good friend and she says, "I am going to kill that Mary Tsukamoto because she cut us off from Jerome and put you people in." I think to the day she died she hated Mary Tsukamoto. But it was too bad that we were the one that knocked them off.

RP: Knocked them off.

DT: But she really resented it and there was nothing we could do, it was all over and done with 'cause we didn't know she did that. After the fact we found out but she was telling my mom, she says, "I'm going to kill that woman." Well, they really wanted to go to Jerome but they ended up in Manzanar.

RP: You got on a train at Elk Grove to go to Fresno.

DT: Yes.

RP: Was that your first train ride?

DT: Yes, I think it was.

RP: What was that like for you?

DT: Well, there was no air conditioner, it was pretty hot, but that's all I could remember. I think it was straight shot, when we went from Fresno to Jerome they stopped us, put us on the side when there were troop trains we had to put our shade down and everything. But I don't think that happened between Elk Grove and Fresno.

RP: Were there soldiers in the train cars?

DT: Yes, there were soldiers with guns at Elk Grove, you know, there were soldiers all over because we were the enemy and we could've all got shot if we didn't behave.

RP: Do you remember wearing the little ID tags on your clothing?

DT: I'm sure I did but those small details kind of, I can't remember. Yeah, 'cause when I see pictures of other people, they all have tags so I did too I think but I'm sorry I didn't save it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: So a lot of the Florin community was sent down to Fresno and you weren't there very long before you came down with measles?

DT: Two weeks. Two weeks when I was there I caught the measles from my girlfriend in Florin, so two weeks later I caught the measles and they wouldn't allow me to stay in the barracks because there were too many kids around and on the top of the barracks, you know, we didn't have any ceiling so the partition went up so far and then the top it was all open. And I think one side they had a family of kids so they thought that they will have to take me to hospital and I hated it and I cried, and my mother wanted to work at the hospital and they said she couldn't work. She says I'll take a janitor's job, anything to please me, but they said no. So only way, she couldn't even come into the hospital so we had to hang out over the window you know, have to stand up and hang out over the window. And I cried every day and she would bring popsicle and anything. So the two weeks went by... no, and then before two weeks went by they moved me to another bed and it was a bed... no, I got mumps the first time so then when I moved, I moved to area where the boy had measles and when I went home two weeks later I got the measles and I had to go back in the hospital. Oh, one month out of... let's see May, June, July, August, one month out of five months I spent my time at the hospital. [Laughs] Miserable, but they just thought everybody would get it.

RP: Doris, describe for us the hospital, was it in a barrack building?

DT: It's a barrack and just partition.

RP: Did you have your own separate room or area?

DT: Oh, no, it was just a partition around my bed and if there was a partition I think it was just between my bed and next bed I guess and it was all open. So I could've got that kid's measles anyway. I don't know but I know I moved there and I was hanging out the window so I figured I caught it from him.

RP: And what did you do to pass the time while you were in the hospital?

DT: Just slept. There's no television, nothing, no one to talk to, the nurses wouldn't, I mean they had no use for a twelve year old kid. So I don't think my mom, I think all she brought was candies and popsicle I guess, I can't remember reading. Well, she doesn't read English so I don't think she gave me any books. [Laughs]

RP: No air conditioning either.

DT: No air conditioning, no heater, or no nothing. The only thing is bedpan. [Laughs]

<End Segment 11> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: So when you did get out of the hospital, can you tell us, how did you deal with your barrack room in terms of you had your older sister and husband and then you had your parents and you and your sister. How did you work out a sense of privacy in a room that had no privacy?

DT: When we went, three of us were assigned to that room. And my sister were assigned to another place with a stranger, I don't know who they were. And so they made arrangement for my sister and my brother-in-law to move in with us, but we had blankets and sheets and things like that just partitioning just around the bed because it wasn't too big of a room. And then even the next door neighbor, the walls had holes on it so we have to hang blankets and things, otherwise they can just peek through those holes. And then one day we were minding our own business and our neighbor, one side was from Fresno, and their friends came to visit them and brought them cucumbers and you wouldn't know that cucumbers tasted, I mean, smelled so good. They would be chopping it and it just come over the ceiling, I says oh my goodness they're having cucumbers. [Laughs] And when you think of cucumbers you don't think, but it was so fresh, and so when they cut it you can smell it. My mom says, "Oh my goodness, they're having cucumbers, wish we had cucumbers too."

RP: Were there other smells that you remember wafting into your room there? What about the noise, the sounds of people in the rooms next to you?

DT: Well, with the ceiling or rafters or whatever it was open I guess but it didn't bother me 'cause I was only twelve years old. Imagine if you were young newlyweds, you wouldn't like it. Well, my sister was living there but never bothered us 'cause we were sleeping, you go to sleep you just don't even think anything of it. But I imagine young people, it was very embarrassing for them.

RP: Did you have to stuff your own mattress?

DT: No, I can't remember what kind of mattress. Must have been straw but I can't remember now. But I'll tell you I'll never sleep on straw or if I have to I'd probably have to have about four or five blankets on top of it now.

RP: How did it feel?

DT: It'd be terrible but it wasn't comfortable, but when you're young and you're just sleeping, you just accept things the way it is. But my poor mom and dad, my mom wasn't the most... she wasn't strong so I imagine it was very uncomfortable and then she lived on a farm, and then to be cooped up in...

RP: They, your parents worked hard and they worked long hours they were busy on the farm and then suddenly they have nothing to do. What did they do in Fresno? Did they work at all?

DT: Fresno I don't think Mom and Pop worked but they worked in Jerome. But Fresno was so hot and mess hall, you have to go to mess hall and eat and they had lamb stew with curry with grease on top. And before you even went to the mess hall you can smell what they were having. But then if you're hungry, that's what you eat. It was rice with curry, lamb curry, I mean, lamb stew but I don't think I could even eat lamb stew with curry today. But I guess if I'm hungry I guess I have to.

RP: Did you eat with your family in the mess halls?

DT: Yes, I think we did. Jerome I don't think, you know, well, especially when you're twelve years old, you're scared to eat with anybody else. You know, you didn't know anybody so I'm sure I ate with my mom 'cause being there was pretty scary.

RP: Was there any effort to set up schools at Fresno?

DT: No, it was May to September so we didn't have school but they had baton lessons and dancing lessons and things like that and I took baton lessons. They just cut a broomstick and you know.

RP: That was your baton?

DT: Yeah.

RP: Did you have any of your old friends from Florin in Fresno?

DT: In Fresno... most of them must have been on the west side 'cause they didn't go. And then like George Uchida, the one from... but he was in Manzanar but boys and girls had nothing to do with each at twelve years old, but we remembered each other in class and now we're pretty close. You know, he would at least talk to me. [Laughs] But I can't remember any of the girls and I guess if they were there, they must have been living kind far away but my cousin's kids were there but they were about two years old, three years old and Mary Tsukamoto's daughter was there 'cause she was about three or four or something. I didn't play around with them.

RP: What do you remember about the latrines?

DT: Oh, that was terrible. You had this bathroom and there's holes, about five holes and I think there was a partition, maybe there wasn't any partition, but they put in a partition between the holes. And then you sit down and do your thing but you don't flush it yourself. There's a tank at the very end and the water goes into the tank and then it turns over and it flushes all the five holes. So if you're at the very end it'll backfire and you better stand up. [Laughs] And you didn't want to be sitting over there 'cause the water fill up and oh man it can turn, run down and hit the wall and then come back and then it flushed. But that was the most terrible thing, and then they didn't have any curtains or anything just partition between the holes.

RP: How about showers?

DT: Showers I think eventually... well, the latrine is what I will never forget, but the showers I think must have been just as bad. And then I think they put in curtains I think. But you try not to take shower if anyone was there. You try to take it early in the morning or late at night so you're the only one there.

RP: Did you find that situation very embarrassing?

DT: Yeah, for a twelve year I think it is. But we came from the country so we had outhouses; we didn't have any running toilet. But even that was worse than an outhouse. [Laughs] At least you had your privacy.

RP: Is there any other vivid memories that you have of Fresno?

DT: Oh, the latrine and the lamb stew and the heat and the hospital, yeah, it was pretty hot there.

RP: So how would you characterize the care that you received in the hospital while you were there?

DT: Well, okay. I guess everybody got treated the same way and I expected the worse I guess so it was okay. They fed me and I was glad to get out of there.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Then you were on a train to Jerome and you said that your sister at this time was pregnant?

DT: Yeah, I guess she was 'cause when she went to... in September she was pregnant and she and her husband, they gave her a Pullman. We were in the coach but she they were given a Pullman.

RP: That was a pretty long train ride.

DT: It was, 'cause every time the soldiers came by we were on the side and our shades were all... and soldiers going back and forth making sure we don't peek out. And then every time the regular trains went by I think we were on the side more often than we were going so it took a long time I think. And then the toilet got all plugged up and they didn't clean, they didn't clean toilet, they just got plugged up and it was a mess. And I think in Denver, I think Denver or Salt Lake I think they did let us get off and go eat, I think, I remember something like that, one of those. But a lot of people were peeking through, to see the soldiers go by. You know, when you're told not to do something.

RP: You do it. So you went from Fresno which was really hot to Jerome which was hot and humid.

DT: It was.

RP: Do you remember getting off the train and going into camp? What were your first impressions or feelings?

DT: Well, some of the details, I guess, well... I guess maybe Jerome wasn't as bad as Fresno. And we were so glad to get off the plane, I mean train, anything was better than a train. [Laughs] But I think what they did was... I can't remember where the train stopped but they must have put us on a truck or something 'cause we couldn't have walked from the train station to our area. But we must have got on a truck but we were on a corner, not on a corner, next to a corner I guess. And then there was a fence and a guard house and then they had spotlight going back and forth. Well, we would wait for the spotlight to go a certain place so we could sneak out under the fence and we'd go catch fireflies, the lightning bugs. It was so fascinating, I've never seen anything like it. And about two, three or four girls we would get out. Well our parents didn't know. Well if they did we would've really got a spanking, sneaking out, but that was so much fun. I'd like to go back to Arkansas again just to see that firefly and I can bring it home for my kids or have them go with us.

RP: Did that there were snakes and all kinds of other creepy things out there while you were...

DT: Well, fireflies didn't stop us from going out there and the guards didn't stop us from going out there. [Laughs] Yes, they did have a lot of scary snakes and they would have contests, they would go and capture that and then they would have shows.

RP: Snake shows?

DT: [Nods] And then they would go out and cut off trunks and then polish it and have a cane or vase. Oh, you should see some -- they had nothing else to do so they just made do with whatever, so they'd go out there and cut it and then they take the bark off and polish it and then they have shows. But and also the men folks from the block had to go in and cut trees for the boiler, they had to take turns 'cause the boiler for the mess hall and the laundry room and everything 'cause we couldn't cook in our room. We just had a pot belly stove. Well after a while we started to cook, if you had food. And then like I was sick, my mom would bring home things and then she would go to the PX or whatever, buy things. But there was no sink or anything you just made do with the pot belly stove.

RP: And how did you heat that stove? Was it with wood or coal?

DT: Weather, it was wintertime, it snowed and it rained, well, we had to walk to school quite a ways to a block. It was muddy and everything but you just went to school, you never stayed home. You didn't dare stay home. But my mom and dad, Papa was a cook and Mama was a waitress so we had a lot of free time. But we weren't bad kids but we did things like going out to firefly or they couldn't keep track of us. But I was too scared to get caught doing bad things.

RP: Did you go out just once or several times to catch fireflies?

DT: Oh, if we could get enough people we would go... I wouldn't go myself. Then we played ping pong. I guess I learned how to play ping pong 'cause in our recreation hall when they had dances, well, I wasn't interested in dances but we would play ping pong and they had seesaw and things like that. We were still kids, twelve year old kids nowadays are into dances, well, we weren't. And I had two left legs so they tried to teach me but I couldn't learn. [Laughs]

<End Segment 13> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: You said that when we talked earlier that your dad kind of accepted the camp experience but your mother had a nervous breakdown.

DT: Yeah, but Mama had a... she had a breakdown. She had a breakdown, it was too much for her but she was always not a strong person. But my dad couldn't deal with all of this, well, I mean, did any man had a breakdown even if it was hard on him? My mom was kind of weak person so it was just too much for her. But we didn't put her in the hospital I guess there was... maybe there was a hospital, I don't know but we kept her at home.

RP: Do you remember what did she... do you remember what she said or how was she acting?

DT: Well, she acted... she said crazy things and she acted... well, she was in bed most of the time depressed. She never went out, well, we wouldn't let her go out. I don't know if she wanted to go out or not but she was in bed all the time.

RP: How long was she in this kind of condition?

DT: I guess about three months.

RP: And did she eventually kind of come out of it or what changed?

DT: Yeah, she came out of it. But she was not a well person so it was kind of rough on the family to have someone be sick like that. 'Cause I don't know if any other family had that problem and Papa was trying to kind of hide it and everything. But you can't hide anything when the people are living right next door.

RP: And in your opinion, did the camp experience contribute to that, to that nervous breakdown the fact that she lost a normal life and was living in the situation?

DT: I think so. 'Cause living on a farm, coming and going as you please and then you're cooped up in this small place. I'm surprised not very many other people... but maybe there were, I don't know.

RP: Your sister also had a difficult experience.

DT: Yeah, let's see. I can't remember exactly when she went to the doctor and she was okay when she was pregnant. And then she went to the doctor and they said that they can't hear the heartbeat, the baby. And so I don't know maybe about three months or so after we went there she had her baby, normal birth, but the baby was stillborn. So they had a funeral but she carried the bones or the ashes 'cause she didn't want the baby buried in Jerome, so she carried it wherever she went and she brought back to Sacramento and she had the baby buried at Sacramento Memorial. And then when her husband died, she buried him in Lodi, so she moved her baby, her firstborn to Lodi. And I noticed when I went, my brother-in-law's casket was... and then the baby was buried on top. It was kind of sad but then maybe a couple years later she had a boy that was born on Boy's Day, May 5th in Japan is Boy's, five-five he was born.

RP: He was healthy?

DT: Yeah, and then about three months later her husband... well, right after he was born, her husband moved to Detroit because he didn't want to go in the army so then he went to work for some army installation and my sister took her son who was about three months old or something. And she had to carry him on the train on the outside 'cause he cried all the way. He wasn't used to it. But the first born they named him, my brother-in-law's first Japanese name is Katsumi, no Katsuji, and my sister's name was Miyoko so they named him Katsumi, part of my brother-in-law's name and part of my sister's name. I guess my dad did that suggested what to name.

RP: You attended the funeral of your --

DT: Yeah.

RP: How did that affect you?

DT: Well, I don't remember too much about it and I don't even know if sister went because I think they probably kept her in the hospital. I can't remember her going. It wasn't a big funeral.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: Tell us about going to school in Jerome. What was that like?

DT: Jerome we first started, we just had benches and we sat on benches and a lot of our teachers were Japanese. And they were pretty strict and Japanese is so competitive, everybody had to get a best score. Well, I guess I wasn't that competitive but I guess I did alright. But I guess my mom didn't know what the other people's grades were so I guess it didn't matter. [Laughs] You know, very competitive. My sister-in-law, Bill's sister says she was very competitive but I guess even today she is competitive but I never was... but all Japanese that way.

RP: Did you have a favorite subject in school? Something you're really attracted to?

DT: No, not that I could think of. They weren't too hard. Only thing I had problem was typing I don't know why, I just could not type, but the other things just came naturally. I didn't study that hard.

RP: Did it feel like a normal school to you or just something that was kind of artificially created?

DT: No, I guess it's normal because they gave grades and things. And it was something you had to go, you know, school, you just had to go to school.

RP: Were you in any clubs or involved in any school activities? Plays? Sports?

DT: No, I'm not a sports person. Ping pong was about my speed. [Laughs] And dance was out and I didn't go to church. My parents before the war, everybody went to church every Sunday but my mother was too busy working I guess she couldn't keep track of us but I never went to church. My sister, all she'd do was go to dances.

RP: Your sister was the popular one.

DT: Very. And they were clique-ish, there were about four boys and four girls, and they would dance every Saturday night. She was very popular and I guess she was a good dancer too and her friends were pretty nice looking and the guys were very nice looking. [Laughs] I remember them; they really stood out. But she doesn't remember anything about camp, she says, "I can't remember." And I said, "I remember you being so popular." She says, "I didn't know I was." [Laughs]

RP: Was there any particular person besides your family or friends that really stuck out in your mind in Jerome?

DT: Our barrack was sitting this way, facing that way and the other barrack was facing us. And when the questionnaire came out about, was it "no-no" or "yes-yes" or something, anyway, the people across the way, they all were going to go to Tule Lake. And our side it was a family that was going to go to Tule Lake and so our family and another family were not going to go to Tule Lake. And so my dad said if you had to go to war we are loyal to America, well, our family all did. But the others, they didn't want to be loyal and they didn't want to send their kids to army so they signed up "no-no" and they were to go to Tule Lake. Well, when my father came out they belittled him and they called him inu, that's a dog and I guess if it's a dog you're a rotten person I guess. And every time he came out to go to work or anything they'd call him inu and they just belittle and they were all around us. And when it came time to go to Tule Lake, that whole bunch went but they didn't... "no-no" went to Japan. They're all back. They were all back. They changed their mind after they went to Tule Lake. But oh, they treated my dad terrible. But I didn't sense it because they never called me "dog" or anything, they just called my dad. But after the war, after we came home he says it was pretty bad. But I think it was... that's really the bad thing that I remember about after we came home. But I had girlfriends and we went to school together so I made a lot of friends from the class from Fresno and everyone, but I never did contact them afterwards. But it was fun making new friends.

RP: For you, was that the most positive part of your Jerome experience? And what would be the most negative? What you just described?

DT: Yeah.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Then they decided to close Jerome and then where did you go?

DT: Well, after Tule Lake went... I mean, after people went to Tule Lake and Tule Lake people came to Jerome, well, there was a lot of empty spaces and then people were going out to Chicago and New York and everything because the young people, they all left camp. So they had to close the camp and we had pretty close friends at Rohwer so we ended up went to Rohwer but we had a choice I think. Everybody kind of scattered.

RP: What was the choice between Rohwer and another camp?

DT: Well, we wanted to go to Rohwer and I guess there was space and then we had friends so we were able to go there. There was no question of going anywhere.

RP: Do you know if your parents ever considered going out of Jerome, relocating like some of the other folks were?

DT: No, well, for one thing my dad couldn't speak English and for another we knew we were coming back home. Otherwise I think we would've gone to Seabrook, New Jersey, where they have that cannery or something. I think we would've gone 'cause a lot of Florin people went there.

RP: Do you remember them coming into the camp to recruit people?

DT: No because I imagined they did that otherwise they wouldn't know where to go and they had no place to go so they chose to go there but they didn't, some of them ended up coming back to California. I don't know if it closed or what, but anyway.

RP: How did you get to Rohwer from Jerome?

DT: I don't think it was a train. It must have been a truck or something 'cause it wasn't that far.

RP: Do you remember what block you were in?

DT: Not in Rohwer 'cause we were in one block and then we decided we wanted to move closer to our good friends so he made arrangements for us to move into his block so I can't remember.

RP: What was his name?

DT: Nakamura, you mean the friend's name? Nakamura and they were from Acampo and they were in Rohwer. Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura.

RP: They were from Florin?

DT: No, they were from Acampo.

RP: Acampo.

DT: Acampo, close to Lodi, and they went to Rohwer.

RP: So what was it like for you in Rohwer? What did you do there?

DT: [Laughs]

RP: You got into some mischief there.

DT: Yeah. A bunch of us people, kids, we were, I guess, close to the gate and so we found out that there's a store outside the gate about a mile or so away. And so instead of going to the canteen or PX or something I'm sure they had the same kind candy or better, we'd go out... well by then there was no guard so we'd go to the store and I think we were their best customers. That man, he never reported us 'cause we all went and bought his candy.


DT: Okay, we were living close to the end of the camp and there were no guards anymore so we would go out, sneak out and walk about a mile and buy the... I don't know how we found out where that store was but somebody must have told us. A bunch of us would go to that store and they had nothing but off brand candy, but that's what we bought and that man never reported us because he was getting a lot of business from us. [Laughs] And I guess a lot of people went because there was a pathway so I guess we weren't the only one. And then one time we never got to ride anything so this guy and a bunch of guys said, "Hey, Doris, you want to go out have watermelon?" I don't know where they got the watermelon so we took me and we had watermelon and boy, that was the best watermelon. But those are the things we did because we just didn't have anything else.

RP: You went outside to eat the watermelon?

DT: No, no, I don't know where they took me 'cause it was kind of in the woods. It must have been part of the camp or maybe they tore down the fence, I don't know.

RP: And then those boys you ran into 'em later on after camp didn't you?

DT: Yeah, they called, couple of 'em called me and they were going to come play basketball at the Buddhist church and I guess they called me and said, "Well, meet us there." I said oh, okay, I never went because I was going around with Bill. I had no use for those guys. [Laughs]

RP: So you were able to just kind of do your own thing in Rohwer?

DT: We were only there one year, yeah, only one year. And then my sister was very popular. She knew the beauty queen and I don't know, she just had a way with people... well, she was nice looking too so I guess but she always got in with the right group. But that beauty queen became Bill's, she married Bill's cousin.

RP: What was her name? Do you remember?

DT: Let's see now, well, she married Tom Taketa, but it slipped my mind.

RP: She was the beauty queen of Rohwer?

DT: Yeah, class, but I didn't know her. But she was going around with Bill's relative and then she ended up marrying him. Well, he came, he was at Mississippi or someplace the soldiers, and they ended up coming to... they were invited for a dance or something and he met up... small world that she would end up with him but I didn't know him then.

RP: Do you remember seeing the soldiers come into the camp?

DT: No, well, I didn't go to the dances.

RP: But did you see the soldiers at all?

DT: [Shakes head] Well, by then Japanese soldiers were coming into camp I mean from the Mississippi training camp.

RP: Camp Shelby I believe it was.

DT: Something like that, yeah. Tom Taketa came. Oh, it's Terry, I can't remember her maiden name. She just ended up becoming... but I says, oh my, what a small world 'cause I didn't know her but I knew of her and then my sister knew her. So I go, my goodness my sister always kind of got in with the nice group.

RP: Now was Rohwer very much like Jerome? It was sort of a lot of woods around and forest kind of environment?

DT: Yeah, it's just like Jerome but we weren't there that long so I can't remember them having all those shows. I'm sure they had kind of wood working shows and snake shows.

RP: And did they have talent shows in camp?

DT: Oh, yeah, they had it in Fresno and they had it in Jerome, yeah.

RP: Did you ever get into those?

DT: Well, they tried to make me do the jitterbug and they cornered me and got me but I gave up. The other girls danced the jitterbug but not me.

RP: How about the baton twirling?

DT: No, we didn't have... I can't remember talent... it was just lessons. We weren't that good I don't think.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: This is a continuation of an oral history interview with Doris Taketa and this is tape three. Doris, we were talking about some of your experiences at the facility in Rohwer, and did you go out and did you escape to capture fireflies there too?

DT: No, I guess maybe there were there but I guess the season must have been different, I don't know, because I guess maybe we outgrew that. I don't know, maybe I outgrew it.

RP: Were there any differences or changes in living in Rohwer and Jerome in terms of the food or the latrines or did it feel different to you?

DT: It was the same between Jerome and Rohwer.

RP: How about school in Rohwer?

DT: Yes, I went to sophomore in Rohwer and it was the same.

RP: Did you also have mostly Japanese American teachers there or did you also see Caucasian teachers?

DT: I think some were more Caucasians I think because I can't remember too much. I remember way back but....

RP: Did your mother or father take up any hobbies while they were in camp?

DT: Oh, my mother was... my father went outside and got those... in Jerome he got those barks and he took the... no, the branches and took the bark and he polished it and made a cane and vases. And my mother in Jerome, she... you folded the crepe paper certain way and then she drew this great big crane and then she pasted the crepe paper red and white and black, it was just gorgeous and they wanted to put it in the Smithsonian but by then... well, we didn't put it in the glass case like a shadow box. If we did that it would've been preserved but we just had it just plain and then all the crepe paper fell off. Mary Tsukamoto asked me and she said she wanted to take it the Smithsonian because she was really impressed but it was gone by then.

RP: Was it just... was it in your barrack room? Where was it kept?

DT: In the barrack and then we brought it home. She made it in Jerome but it was really a nice piece of artwork.

RP: Now Mary Tsukamoto was in Jerome?

DT: Yes, and then she went, I can't remember where they went. When they left Jerome I don't know where they went. We went to Rohwer.

RP: Do you remember since she was very well-educated and she was kind of involved in the community, do you know what she did in Jerome or Fresno? Was she an organizer or did she help in any way with the transition to camp?

DT: She must have, she must have done a lot. But I wasn't aware of it but I know she is not a type of person to just sit back and so I'm sure she was always involved in things.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: When do you remember leaving Rohwer to go back home?

DT: Oh, before we left Rohwer my sister went to live with my older sister in Detroit. So Mama and I took her to Detroit on the train after she graduated so it must have been around July because we came back in August and we went to visit my sister and my brother-in-law and they were living in a dark, dark apartment and my sister went to work from there. I would've never walked in... stayed in their apartment. There was a stairway, they were on the second floor, no light and it was so scary and it was in a real, real bad area but they didn't seem to mind. So we left them, her and my sister in Detroit and Mama and I came back, we cried and then we came back to St. Louis and we had some time in between. And Mama says, "Let's go kind of look around." I says, "Oh, no we're not going to miss going home," so we just sat at the train station. And then August we came home and the Okamotos came home, you know, we came home on the same train and Bob Fletcher came after us. And it was nice to be home but he cooked for us and everything so I was kind of spoiled I think. [Laughs] And I think Mom and Papa went to work for Bob because he had to finish off 1945 and then we got our land back, I mean, the farm back in 1946. Then grapes went downhill but I can't remember exactly what year but they pulled out all the grapes, grape vines and then they just had about two acres, two or three acres of strawberries and they made a living off of them.

RP: And how long did they continue farming?

DT: Let's see now... they must have been about 1960 or '61 because Bill and I got married in '53 and Mama babysat Karen in '58 and we had a house moved over on Mama's land we bought an acre off of them. It must have been about 1961 or '2 when they stopped growing strawberries.

RP: There were other folks that you were familiar with who had sort of difficult experiences in coming back to the Florin, Elk Grove community. One in particular was I guess a girlfriend of yours and her husband, can you share with us what happened to them?

DT: Well my girlfriend, Florence Wakita, came back about March or so of 1945 so she had to go to Elk Grove High School and she took a bus, she had to take a bus and this other fellow, Max Mizoguchi, took the same bus. And they were the only two that came home early and went to Elk Grove High. And the kids called them Mr. and Mrs. Tojo... no, anyway, and made fun of them, and then they wouldn't let her sit anywhere they would all sit on the edge of the seats and won't let her sit and they would just leave two spaces so Florence would have to sit there. And then they would force Max to sit there and they'd poke fun at her and so she got to a point where she says she wasn't going to school. And I guess it was okay with her father because they were so mean, the students were so mean and I'm sure the parents were the ones that... the kids don't know any better unless the parents talk so she says, well, she wasn't going to go to school. So the vice principal of Elk Grove Union High School came and talked to her and she says, well, she wasn't going back anymore. And he says, "Well, you won't graduate," and she says she didn't care. She said at that point she didn't care whether she... and she was a junior and she had to finish junior and so she went back again and I guess it was pretty bad. But we came back in August so I started in September and by then there were quite a few students, I mean, Japanese back so I never felt anything. Maybe they talked about us but all the Japanese stuck together, so, and then that was junior year. And senior year a lot of the girls were in 4H, they were good basketball players and so they were being accepted, we were all being accepted. And there were boy... one boy that was such a good baseball player and he was a pitcher so they forgot about all the discrimination so she graduated and it was okay but she says, oh it was terrible. And then there was a community hall around that area that they burned down, they burned down... I think it was during the time we were gone and then some people they people shot into their home. So people were really scared.

RP: And this took place around Elk Grove or Florin?

DT: Florin, well they call it Mayhill so it's outskirts of Florin. A lot of people experienced a lot of bad things, but by the time we came home there were more of us so it was okay but it was pretty bad. And Elk Grove was one of the bad places 'cause my husband, when he went to work, they put him as a teller at Bank of America and he says, there was one lady, his line was short so the lady got in his line and when she saw that it was a Japanese she just got out of his line and went to a longer line. And I felt so sorry for him but there wasn't much you could do. And then after that the lady got to know him and there were shorter lines, but his line was longer, but she got in his line and she would bring him gifts. You know, they were kind of ignorant and they didn't know any better and then when they got to know us I guess it was okay.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: You had a... your personal experience was kind of similar too because you graduated high school 1947, right? And then you went to college for a while and you got a job with the federal government, same government that put you into camp. Where did you end up working?

DT: Well, when we came home, 1945 August, they were building this army depot, Sacramento Signal Depot about one-third... about one-third mile from our place. And so when I graduated college, two year college, I went and applied for a job there and it turned out a friend of mine... no, the boss, the big boss was a Caucasian man but he was on vacation and a fellow who worked for him was a friend of mine, a Japanese. And he interviewed me and gave me a test and everything and he told the big boss that I was okay so they hired me so I had no problem getting a job. And I got in as a clerk and thirty five years later I moved around and I retired when I was a program analyst. But when I went to work there I knew I was going to retire from there. Nowadays, kids just move on all over and jobs you don't know when you're going to lose your job. But I knew I was going to work there forever and my husband got transferred over and then we moved from that house, 'cause my dad told my sister that said, if Do would move that he says, I could, Mama and I could move into that house. So I went home and told Bill, I says, "Well, if Papa wants to move into our house we're buying a house," and we moved to another place about five six miles away. And Papa and Mama moved into our place but we didn't charge them rent or anything. And when we sold it, when they sold their land they paid us what it was just minimal. But anyway, when we moved to another place Bill was working in Sacramento and then he got an offer to work Bank America in Woodland and so he accepted it but he had to move to Woodland. So we had to move thirty miles away and I commuted from Woodland until I had my thirty-five years. And I got out of there because the commute was terrible with the fog and then the carpool, oh, I could write a book about the carpool, the weird people I rode with. [Laughs]

RP: Doris, did you face any obstacles in locating housing?

DT: No, my sister did.

RP: What way?

DT: Well, when they got married apartment, it'd be advertised and then she'd go there and they says, "Oh, it's already taken." But then they wanted to build a home and the people who tried to buy it before they weren't vets so people around there they signed up and wouldn't let 'em buy but when my sister, my husband, her husband, he was a vet so they allowed. And then people liked 'em. And my sister and my brother-in-law were neat and they kept their place real nice. But people didn't know so people were real nice after my sister and brother-in-law moved in but we had no problem.

RP: Was that your sister Grace?

DT: Uh-huh, 'cause when we got married we moved into Bill's second cousin's apartment so he's not going to discriminate against us. And then we moved... then my sister wanted, she was running a grocery store and she was having so much problem with the people living above her. So when they moved out she asked us to move in, so we moved in her place so we had no problem.

RP: Before the war Florin was a very thriving farming community. How did the war, the evacuation, the camp experience change the community when you returned? What was the impact of incarceration on the Florin community?

DT: Well, not even fifty percent of the people before the war came back 'cause they lost their land. But I feel like that was the best thing that happened. We would all be farmers yet and after the war, we had Bob Matsui who was a congressman and a lot of them that became congressmen and everything. Well, I think it's the best thing. That's my -- oh, people will get mad at me if I said that but there were good things and bad things.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So how... when you reflect on your experience, how would you like to see the story told by future generations? The story of what you went through?

DT: Well, we shouldn't have gone to camp really because we didn't have due process. But some of the people I talk to said that we should have protested. I says just no way. We didn't have anyone fighting for us, even Mary helped us to go in peacefully and even she didn't protest. Just the other day I had an argument with a guy and I said, "You weren't there at the time." He says, "Well, I would have protested." I said, "Your mother didn't," his mother and father went to the camp, and I said, "How come you didn't complain?" He says, "I was too young." Well, I said, "Times were different so we did what we knew best." So I don't know, it worked both ways. There were things that came out but it shouldn't have happened but I'm not going to sit here and say well, I resent it, you know. Just like my mother-in-law, she lost her land and it was eighty percent paid but she never complained. She was a good Christian. And if you complain and be bitter you're just going to make yourself sick. But I think it shouldn't have happened but it happened. And I think we all learned from it, I hope everybody learned from it.

RP: Are you still active in the Japanese American community in Florin?

DT: I'm not.

RP: How about the Methodist church? Do we still have a Methodist church?

DT: Well, I go to church but I'm not a... I'm a follower, I'm not a leader. But our Florin JACL is the one that one guy wasn't supposed to... was supposed to go to camp or something and he protested, they made a hero out of him. Well all these 442nd people died and they all went to, served in the army when their parents were in the camp but this man refused to go into the camp and he, I think they pardoned him or something, he went into jail. And I can't remember it was just recently that they made him a hero and I said, "Well, he shouldn't be a hero," but they say, "Well, he did the right thing." But I said, "Well, if we all fought like he did we would've been shot," like my husband says, we might have been shot or we might have been all sent to Japan. And Japan didn't want us because they didn't have enough food and everything and we wouldn't want to go to Japan. But if you protested well, they might have sent us all to Japan. So I don't know, it's just one of those things that happened and we should just forget about it and just go on.

RP: Last question, if you were going to share any lessons that you learned from your experience during the war in the camps to young people or future generations, what would that lesson or advice be?

DT: Well, let's see... I would just say, let's learn from what happened and now I don't think it'll happen like it did, things have changed, I would say. But like the Iran's or people, they are being discriminated, but that's what happens you know, they take the whole group for few of the people and so I don't know. I know the JACL is fighting for them. See, I'm not active in the JACL so I don't know what to say.

RP: Speaking of the Muslims?

DT: Yes, I know it's wrong, but I'm not a lawyer and I'm not going to go up there and fight, speak up. I'm not going to go out there and walk and carry a plaque or anything. I'm just not that type of person.

RP: I lied; I have one more question. What would your feelings about the letter of apology and the reparations payment that was given to all surviving members of the camp experience?

DT: Well, I thought that was pretty nice that they did apologize 'cause they didn't have to. And the $20,000 wasn't much but it's the thought that they, so I thought that was pretty nice of the government to do that. To admit that they were wrong 'cause they didn't have to. I don't think any other country would do something like that, only this country would do it. That's how I feel.

RP: Do you have any questions? Doris, did we cover everything? Is there any other stories that you feel that are important to share before we conclude our interview?

DT: No, I don't think so.

RP: Alright, well, on behalf of Joanna, Mark, myself and the National Park Service, thank you so much for a great interview.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.