Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: M. Jack Takayanagi - Mary Takayanagi Interview
Narrators: M. Jack Takayanagi, Mary Takayanagi
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 11, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-tmjack_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: This is Kristen Luetkemeier, a park ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site, here in the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, Oregon, with Mary and Jack Takayanagi, to talk about their experiences in Los Angeles before World War II as children, and their experiences in Manzanar during World War II, and then their life and career after Manzanar and Iowa and in New York and other places. With us also is Tamiko Takeuchi, and Steve Kammeyer is operating the camera. Before we begin, I wanted to just ask for your permission to conduct this interview and make it available to the public through the Manzanar library. Is that okay?

MT: Sure.

MJT: Yes, sure.

KL: Okay. Well, thank you very much for agreeing for that, and for coming, and I have a list of questions, but I'll just start out with asking Mary to talk a little bit about your parents and how they came to the United States.

MT: My parents were college graduates in Japan, which was quite unusual, I'm told. And they left their home in Kochi, Japan, which is down in the crescent island, Shikoku. And lived on opposite ends of that, and I'm told that my father had traveled before, but he went back to Japan. And when he was presented with two ladies, he was given a choice of marrying one of them, and I was told by an auntie when we visited there in '76, that my father chose the more intelligent one rather than the really attractive one. And she had a laugh out of it, that he could have chosen the real pretty one. Well, I saw a picture of her, and she was very good-looking. But evidently my father knew that my mother had a, had gone to university, and so he chose her. And so my auntie had a laugh out of it, that I could have had another mother from the one I did have, and we laughed. But my folks came to the United States in... well, we're not really sure. We know now that we should have asked a lot of questions of our parents before they passed on, but it's hindsight and we just have to put bits and pieces together.

KL: What university did they attend, or universities?

MT: I should have written it down, but they were Japanese established universities in Tokyo, Japan. So they went many miles away from home to go to school. And my father was twelve years older than my mother, so there is that age difference. (My father's university was Takushoku Daigaku, 1899? And mother's was Nihon Shingako, 1914?)

KL: What were their fields of study?

MT: I'm really not sure, but it was higher education from the normal schooling that you would get. And evidently, they were there long enough that each of them, their Japanese language speaking actually was refined by the Tokyo... it's like another dialect, or another, just like between New York and the west, there is a difference in the way people speak. And I was told by relatives that their speaking was much more refined after they came back from schooling. And when I was there, I could notice the difference. There was a kind of roughness and a gruffness in the language that some of the relatives used, and it proved to me that their university experience was, enhanced their, it was an education. So that was kind of interesting to hear. So they came in, somewhere in 1918, about then, and because my first sister was born in 1920, and shortly after, they had another, a second child, was my brother, Ken, and then I was the third child. And then there were two others below me, a girl and a boy. And so the only ones who survived now are my sister and myself, my younger sister and myself. So my father was the third, actually the fourth child, but there were all together eight children in their family. And my father was the third son, and so according to culture and tradition, the older son takes over the family. So I imagine that played a role in their immigrating to America. And the, another brother underneath my father, he also came. But they were the only two Takemuras who came to this country. And they lived together so that our, they had five children and my father and mother had five children, so after a while, we moved out to Sawtelle, to West Los Angeles.

KL: Where were they before?

MT: We were in Los Angeles proper, and they had a nursery there, a plant nursery and florist. And so they all worked together to make that successful. Then when we moved out, actually, to Brentwood, California, we understand now that it was a closed community racially, but we didn't know that then. But so we were the only Asians in Brentwood at that time.

KL: When was that move?

MT: That move was in... let's see. It must have been '27, 1927.

KL: And you said that was, you had moved to Sawtelle and then to Brentwood?

MT: No.

KL: Oh, Brentwood was first?

MT: We moved directly. The Caucasian owner had property that could be developed into growing flowers, so my father got a horse to plow the land and began raising flowers for the wholesale market, flower market, and hired people to work for him. And she rented us this beautiful big house to live in, so there were only four of us then, and I know they had the fifth child there in Brentwood, so it had to be 1927.

KL: Tell me everybody's names, your parents...

MT: My mother's name is Kisei, K-I-S-E-I, and my father went by George Saburo.

KL: What was your mother's maiden name, do you know?

MT: Arao, A-R-A-O. And she had only one brother, and my father had one sister and several brothers.

KL: And your siblings' names?

MT: Florence, Ken, I was the third, Mary, Martha, and Herbert. And there were, I would say ten years between the first and the last.

KL: And what year were you born?

MT: 1923.

KL: And then when did you move from Brentwood to Sawtelle?

MT: We actually didn't move to Sawtelle, we were up at the upper edge of West Los Angeles and on Wilshire Boulevard, which was a few miles away from the center of Sawtelle.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: But did you two meet when you were both living in West Los Angeles?

MT: In high school.

KL: Oh, okay.

MT: He was a junior... no, were you a sophomore?

MJT: Yes. Mary came from junior high school to University High School.

MT: In 1938, I think it was.

MJT: And I was a year ahead of her.

KL: And you were what?

MJT: One year ahead of her in school. Came in as a freshman, and I was a sophomore.

MT: So we knew each other from 1939.

KL: And did you meet right away, the beginning of that year?

MJT: Well, the story goes that our friend and I were just hanging around at lunchtime when this girl came running up the steps. And I said to George, "Hey, did you see her?" I said something like, "I got to get to know her." And that's how it all began. And eventually we began to date in high school. Eventually I got to know the family, and by the time we were graduating from high school, we were going pretty steady, I guess, as they say. So that's been since our wedding was in ('43)...

MT: No, '43.

MJT: '43, that's been over sixty-nine years, this year. Of course, I've known her longer than that, since before... '39?

MT: I guess I was sixteen.

KL: Did he just find you and strike up a conversation?

MT: Oh, I can't remember now. There were dances, school dances, and we began attending them with our friends eventually. My family was a church family, Christian Protestant church family, and so his folks also were Protestant, and he began going to Young People's and we met. And I went to the same Young People's group. And so that's how we...

KL: How was University High? What were your impressions of your time at University High?

MT: We were both very active. He was active in managing sports, basketball and baseball.

MJT: Yeah, Uni High was very active in school. Did a lot of activities, sports-wise and well as academics and after school activities. They also had a very strong, well, in college they call it ROTC, reserve unit, and they had a training program for young men who were interested in that aspect of life. So Uni High was pretty well-known among the high schools. I think well-respected for its academic...

MT: It also was a school where the children, actually youth who were in the movies had to have tutors there, but they had to graduate from public high school. And so many... Judy Garland graduated in his class, and Linda... what was her name?

MJT: Linda Darnell.

MT: Linda Darnell was in my class, but they never, the movie stars never went and actually attended class, but they did have to attend the graduation ceremony. So every year there was always one or two students who were movie stars.

KL: Signing autographs? [Laughs]

MT: And would have to attend the ceremony. So it was known as the school for movie stars to graduate from.

KL: Was it a pretty diverse school as far as economics or ethnic background?

MT: It was a diverse school. It wasn't as ethnically represented by black Americans, by African Americans, but there was a strong Hispanic and a strong Asian, and mainly Caucasian, but we did have...

MJT: It was basically a middle class school. The parents of all the young people were mostly in kinds of work that would, you'd call blue collar work. But with the exception of the movie stars that graduated, it wasn't overly wealthy, but it was a very strong, I would say, middle class school. And the kids came from basically all walks of, different aspects of life. So it was a good mixture when it came to interaction between the students, and the activities that were provided.

KL: Was that new for you? Was your middle school or your elementary school also a mix of people or was it largely Japanese American?

MJT: Well, in Sawtelle, Sawtelle had a large population of gardeners who were Japanese as well as fruit stand workers who were mostly Japanese. Because of that, University High School had an Asian representation of young people in the high school. That was my experience at Uni High. I don't know, in elementary school, I went to elementary school in northern California, so I don't know what the circumstances were. But as far as Uni High was concerned, I felt that it was a mixture of, much a middle class school.

KL: Did people kind of choose friends based on individuality or on commonalities? Did people cross groups, ethnic groups? Was it easy to do, or did people kind of keep to themselves at Uni High?

MJT: Well, I think we had cross groups of friends at school, but after school was over, everybody went to their so-called separate places, and there would then be no interaction there, other than your own groups of people that you live with and so on. But in the school campus, I think the interaction was among everybody. But when the school bell rang, everybody went home, everybody went their different places. Their activities were governed by the local communities, Japanese language school, or church functions, Buddhist temple functions, so on, those which were basically a tribute to the people who lived in that community. We had that interaction, and then we had basically also the traditional community of the people who lived, ethnic groups that lived in those communities.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: And you guys went home to different neighborhoods, too, then.

MT: Mine wasn't that much of a neighborhood because we lived on a busy boulevard, and our business was there, so that I didn't have hardly any Japanese friends other than a few gals that were my age and taking some of the same courses. I had interaction with them at school and during lunchtime, but I didn't have too much of a social life afterwards because I went home and I helped in the shop, and so I didn't, my social life was a little bit limited.

KL: Did your dad grow things in Japan, or is that something he wanted to...

MT: No, he didn't grow in, that I know of. So he was a very bright man, knew how to do, if it was carpentry or sawing wood or making a little lean-to for the flowers and all, he could do most anything. He was very good with hammer and nail, and he grew, he could, the vegetable garden that he had was just tremendous. So he had that to grow up with.

KL: At your home?

MT: Supplemented our... although the supermarket was just a block away, he raised our vegetables right on Wilshire Boulevard. And he just seemed to have a knack. And he also, during this time, rented acreage in San Pedro, and had acres and acres of gladiola bulbs, and raised them for the flower market, and was one of the top growers. So that his bundles of gladiolas were choice, and they all hollered out and said, "Save me six dozen, save me ten dozen," and he'd be sold out before the market even opened, because he was known for the top quality of his flowers. So he did have a knack for doing almost anything. And then my mother, he helped her open the flower shop, so we did, sold flowers to the public like a flower shop.

KL: Did she grow things, too?

MT: No, we went to the flower market to supplement flowers that she sold in the market.

KL: So she didn't raise plants?

MT: No, she didn't.

KL: Did your dad have a... my grandpa was a farmer, too, and he had this kind of deep connection to growing things. Did your dad have a philosophy? Did he like growing things?

MT: Oh, he loved growing things and picking, harvesting what he grew. He just seemed to know how to thin things out and get more from the garden.

KL: What do you think he liked about it?

MT: Well, I think the satisfaction of being able to sell, and he also took first, blue ribbon for the flowers that he grew for the biggest and beautiful at flower shows that they had in Los Angeles, the main (flower organization), we had competition. And he'd get first prize for growing the biggest dahlias and beautiful things.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: I was reading in the book that you created, Jack, about your father, his becoming interested in learning to paint. Was that when you were a young man, too?

MJT: Well, the interesting thing about my father and his painting, I never saw him paint.

KL: Never ever?

MJT: I never saw him take... he always carried a sketchbook in his pocket, and a pen. And I would see him occasionally doing something in the sketchbook, but actually sitting down and painting these pictures that we found after Manzanar was a total surprise to most of us. Because he didn't exhibit them, or didn't say, "See what I did today?" or anything like that. But he evidently had time on his own when he either went out and sketched something and made it into a painting or whatever. But that was his painting. And then he went to evening classes in high school.

KL: When he was in high school?

MJT: No, when we lived...

MT: After high school.

MJT: After high school. And he would go, but I wouldn't know when, if you asked me, well, "When did he go?" I wouldn't know when he went. But he would go to the classes that they offered in watercolor, I guess, painting, and he would go between times, free time or whenever he could make the time to do it. So it was a pleasant surprise when we discovered these paintings.

KL: Where did you find them?

MJT: Oh, basically just kind of stacked in the house. My mother rarely said anything too much about them either. I have his sketchbooks, which are full of different kinds of... one of the saddest moments of my life after the war was that someone told my dad that, "You'd better get rid of those sketches that you've taken," or handmade books, "because if they find you with those sketches, they will accuse you of spying." And so one of the hardest things that I remember of my dad was that before, in front of the fireplace, he would take these sketchbooks and tear out the pages and throw them into the fire. I'm sure that was a hurtful thing for him. Though, for some reason, there were a lot of other sketchbooks that he didn't throw in the fire, and he kind of hid them, I guess, and that's what we have. But my dad was a very quiet man. He was a maverick, if you know what a maverick... don't know where he came from, but the story is that my mother's father ran a spring resort.

MT: Hot springs.

MJT: Yeah, hot springs resort in Fukuoka and Nagasaki. And it's said that my dad just arrived one day looking for work, I guess, and my grandfather, or my mother's father, gave him a job. And then like so many young people in those days, of his age, they heard about work elsewhere. And so he went to Hawaii and worked as a professional mourner, and he was hired out to mourn at funerals. And then from there he went to Alaska, and there he worked in a sardine cannery. And his job was to cut the heads off of the sardines as they came down the chute and into the can. And they would bake the can and send the can of sardines. And my dad said that after he had that experience, he never ate another can of sardines. [Laughs] Then he went from there to Chicago to work at Libby, McNeil and Libby company. And they wouldn't let him smoke inside the building, and so it was too cold to smoke outside, so he learned to chew tobacco. He admitted that he'd swallow half of it, so that cured him. He ended up down in the Gulf Stream to work in the shrimp harvesting business. Then for some reason, we knew that he was at the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, because he tells about he was irrigating the fruit trees there in a town called Alviso. And I could hear him telling right now how that morning, the water out of the ditch just jumped out of the ditch when the earthquake happened, just literally jumped out of the ditch. So that was 1906.

KL: Did he sketch, and was he drawing in Japan, do you think, and Hawaii?

MJT: I'm sorry?

KL: Did he make sketches or drawings in Japan or in Hawaii?

MJT: I don't know. But those we don't have, he's dead. But he went back to Japan, and no doubt went back where my mother's father gave him that job first, and he went back there. And as he went back there, he was so enamored by the opportunities of what was called in many places the promised land, the promised land, you go there to make your money and come home. And so he says, "I'm going back to America, and I'd like to take with me a wife. Do we have any volunteers?"

KL: How romantic. [Laughs]

MJT: Mary's father, no one said anything when he made that announcement. "Anybody want to volunteer to be his wife to go to America?" And so as the day came closer for the ship to leave, and he wanted to be on that ship. He announced once again that he was going to America, and he wanted a wife to go with him. Would anyone volunteer? That's when my mother, who was only eighteen years old at the time, volunteered. And I've kind of been thinking about that recently as I was thinking about some other things, how much courage it took for a girl of eighteen, against, I'm sure, the opposition of her parents, plus going to marry this totally strange man who was sixteen years older than she. But she married him, and that was the year 1913 rather, when the era of the "picture bride." In Oregon alone in 1913, there were a thousand bachelor men of Japanese descent in this state, and a large majority of them wanted to have wives, not only for companionship, but also to raise their family and so on. My dad and mother came to the States in 1913, at the very height of the picture bride era, and came to the Bay Area, to San Francisco. And what they had hoped to be the promised land turned out not very promising because the work that was available for them were those that the Chinese now had left. And they went to, the Chinese went to a little more progressive kind of work. And the manual labor work was what the Japanese came and inherited by coming to this country, and they became farm workers, most of them, or work in the fishery, or on the railroads. And the women were usually put in the house service as maids and working, cleaning homes and so on.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: Do you have a sense of what attracted your parents to the United States? Do you think it was similar?

MT: I think it was just to the excitement being young, fairly young, because they weren't that young either. Because my father was born in 1981 and didn't have children until he was (forty).

KL: You mean he was born in 1881?

MT: He was born in 1881. And so I think it was just the glamour of hoping to make it.

MJT: That was the same thing that everybody, you know, whether Europeans came as well as Asians who came because there was, for some reason, the feeling that there was opportunities in America that was not being afforded anywhere else. So the young came.

KL: And it is interesting, I mean, both of you have parents that, the fact that they met each other and married in Japan is different than what a lot of other people did in that time period with the "picture bride" thing.

MJT: Yes, that's right. Well, I always most of all, we figured only eighteen years of age, going on this kind of adventure, more or less on her own choice. That took a lot of courage and yet also, I assume, a lot of excitement as well, because they anticipated whatever it was that they were, freedom themselves, probably.

KL: When did your parents become Christian? Were they Christian in Japan?

MT: My mother came from a long line of Presbyterian, Protestant, and I attended the church that she grew up in. Of course, had gone through the war, so this was a new building. The Presbyterian church evidently sent missionaries a long time ago, and so my mother says that she comes from a line of Christian families. My father was converted probably in college in Tokyo, and a very strange thing happened with him was that when I relocated from Manzanar, my sister had already gone to Des Moines, Iowa, and Jack was my boyfriend then and he had also relocated to Des Moines, to Drake University, and gotten his permission to go there. And so he got me a job as a housegirl in a lawyer's family. And my sister was there already so that it was the logical place for me to go, too. So I went, and the first Sunday that I was there after relocating at the end of March, it was the first Sunday in April, and my father had helped start the Disciples of Christ Japanese church in Los Angeles. And so he had connections, and so partly that was how we got scholarships to go to Drake University. And when I joined this First Christian church, the Disciples of Christ have what's called an altar call every Sunday, even today, any Christian church, Disciples of Christ, have, at the end of the service, ask anyone who wants to be a member to come down and join. And so my sister nudged me and said, "Dad's here," Pop, we called him. "Pop's visiting us on his way to Chicago, so you should join the church while he's here." And so I went down when the minister had the, those who would like to join the church today, please come down. So I went down and joined the church then. And after the service, my father excitedly came up to my sister and myself and said, "Come down and see this portrait of one of the missionaries that were sent from this church, and there's the man who converted me, and his name was Reverend Guy." And I don't know his first name, and we were talking today that we should look it up through the denomination and find out a little bit more about this missionary who was sent from Central Christian Church years ago, and here he was the one who converted my father. And so I guess I was meant to Des Moines and to join this, the Disciples of Christ Christian Church is very predominate in the Middle West. And there were maybe ten other Christian churches in the Des Moines area, and my sister happened to live with the family in order to go to Drake University, who happened to be a member of this particular Central Christian Church, which it was one of the largest Christian churches in the city of Des Moines. And to have this one be the church from which this missionary was sent made such an impression on my father. And so that's how my father came to be a Christian, is through this missionary that was in Japan on the school days.

KL: That's wild. What was your church in Los Angeles?

MT: My church was the Japanese Christian Church.

KL: That was its formal name?

MT: Yes. And it was the Disciples of Christ, which is now called the Christian Church.

KL: Did it have a Japanese minister?

MT: Yes, we did have a Japanese minister.

KL: Did that person end up in Manzanar also, the minister?

MT: I don't know whether the Unoura... no, I don't think so.

MJT: Mr. Unoura?

MT: I don't think they were in Manzanar, I think they went to Santa Anita.

MJT: Arizona.

MT: Arizona, probably Poston.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MJT: My dad was converted in Hawaii to the Methodist church. My mother used to say that before he was converted, he did everything. Evidently he was a pretty loose man from that point of view, drinking and smoking and so on. But I never in my life, knowing my dad, did I ever saw him smoke or drink. Although my mother would say, "Your dad drank and smoked quite heavily," before he was converted. He was converted in Hawaii, and the strange thing was that when we settled in San Jose, California, the minister that was called to the Methodist church, the Japanese Methodist Church in San Jose, was Reverend Haruyama, who was the man that converted my father, and who happened to come then to San Jose to be the pastor. And my dad became a very active lay person for the church, and was a strong believer. But my mother, every New Year's, would put out tangerines and mochi, which was a Shinto ritual, greeting the new year and feeding, I mean, it was food for the gods. And that, my mother was a Shinto. But when she married my father, which is traditionally in Japan, you take your husband's religion. So when my dad became a Christian and joined the Christian church, my mother did likewise, and she became a lay person in the Methodist church as well, and very active in the West Los Angeles church. And so that's interesting that both of our fathers was converted.

KL: Yeah, and then encountered those people again later.

MJT: And to run into those who converted them sometime later in their life.

KL: You know, we do interviews sometimes at the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church. Yeah, Rose Honda, who's a member of the congregation there...

MT: Oh, we know Rose Honda.

KL: ...has helped us set some up. Tell me your memories of West Los Angeles United Methodist Church in your youth or before the war.

MJT: Well, my interest in the Methodist church in West Los Angeles was because of a girl by the name Mary. And her mother, Mary's mother, was very church-oriented. And because Mary worked during the day on Sunday at the flower shop, so kind of watched the flower shop so the parents could go to church. They demanded -- maybe that's strong -- asked Mary to go to youth group meetings. And the one that was available was the Methodist church youth group. And for some reason I got wind of that, and I would come by with my souped up car, which I had, Double Barrel Green Hornet, they called it, used to call it the Green Hornet. And it was all green and had two barrels, exhaust pipes and so on. And I would come by just in time when she got let out of youth group, and I offered to take her home. And, well, eventually what happened was when Mary's influence was such that I not only would come by and pick her up, she had me come in and be part of the group. And after a short while, I became the president of the group, and got so involved in the youth activity of the group. Many of my friends were Buddhist young people, we got along really well, and we had a basketball team that played in the Japanese basketball league. And most of it was a mixture of Christians and Buddhists, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was can we play basketball. [Laughs]

KL: What was the team name?

MJT: The Warriors. Uni High was... what was Uni High's name?

MT: I think Warriors were, we were the Warriors.

MJT: Well, anyway, we had a senior group and a junior group. The junior group we called the Papooses. Today that would not be allowed. And the senior group were the Warriors and the younger group were the Papooses. And we played in the church, the Japanese church. But I can say that we were blessed as a family that both of my parents were of Christian faith, or had religious aspirations in their life.

KL: And Shinto is very interested in landscape and in mountains and streams and stuff, I believe. That's interesting that your mom, your mom grew up on that hot springs resort, right? So they were kind of caretakers of the water is interesting, too.

MJT: Yes, well, she wasn't as involved in the management in terms of natural things. She worked, she worked in the berry business, she supervised the berry business while my father worked in the orchard. People in the orchard owned, usually had a berry patch, and my mother would be one who would supervise that as far as the program.

KL: Did you help in your dad's garden, in the vegetable garden at your house?

MT: Oh, not too much, no.

KL: It was his domain? But you worked in the store?

MT: In the shop.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: And I know you had graduated from high school already by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, but were you still at University High?

MT: No, I had graduated in '41, so I started school at Chapman, college at Chapman College.

KL: Oh, okay.

MT: And it now has a campus in Whittier, but it was on Vermont Avenue, and so my dad got me a little car and was driving to go to school. I guess it was fifteen miles into the city.

KL: What are your recollections of news of the attack?

MT: We were, we had gone as a family to the Japanese Christian church. We were all just a little bit older then, and so we went as a family and we were buying gasoline, and the attendant said that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. So it was quite a shock, and we drove home. Then things happened, the talk of evacuating Japanese and Japanese Americans, quite quickly developed before we knew it. We were told we'd have so many days before we would be sent.

KL: How did you... did you see that on signs, or how did you learn that news?

MT: It was through that... what was the name of the evacuation order?

KL: The 9066 order?

MT: Yes.

MJT: Executive Order 9066.

KL: How did you learn of the executive order?

MJT: Learned on by, being posted on telephone poles. We had no television, radio was something else at that time. They weren't making announcements, so what we saw was these posters got posted on telephone poles around your residence, throughout your residence. And that, there were copies of that available out, that shows... that's generally, and by word of mouth, that the President had signed an executive order.

MT: At that time I think the order was out that all homes had to darken your windows, I think that had already taken place for everybody, and so there was fear that there could be warfare on the United States. So we, I can remember putting the plastic up and darkening the rooms at night.

MJT: See, the thing that the war did was because the Japanese, that's my folks, were not granted citizenship rights, they couldn't become citizens. Because they were denied citizenship, they could not own property, and that also meant that they couldn't vote. So all these liberties that were rights of others that came to this country and were given naturalization privileges were denied to my parents. And so when the war came, my mother and father with hundreds of others became enemies. They were not aliens, they became "alien enemies" just by virtue of the act in Pearl Harbor.


MJT: You asked for, I was attending Sacramento junior college at the time, December of '41. And I was a houseboy for our room and board, for a junior senator called Mr. Roberts. And he had two sons, one was named Jack, so they couldn't have two Jacks in one house, and so they called me Jay. And Jack was the younger of the two boys in the house. And on this morning, which was a Sunday, I had gone to church. And I came back home because I had duties to do on the weekends, and as the houseboy I did... I won't go into that, washing clothes and stuff like that, cleaning house. But as I was doing that, the young Jack of the Roberts family came running into the house shouting, "Jay, Jay, did you hear that the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor?" Well, I hadn't heard it, I didn't have the radio on. So immediately I turned the radio on, and what he had said was true as far as the announcement came over the radio. Immediately my thoughts were for my parents, because I considered myself an American citizen by nature of birth. My folks were denied that right, so they were automatically now the enemies. So what would that mean for them and their future, or the immediate future? And so I drove home in my car, my Green Hornet, and I went up to Central Valley. On the way up, there's the Grapevine, which you may know, is the entryway into L.A. Valley, they had that, the military was out and stopping all cars. That's where he stopped me and went through my whole car before they would let me pass through. So after I passed that so-called test, I went home and the agreement was that I'd come home, I wouldn't go back to Sacramento, but I would come home, which I did, and was about ready to enroll at Chapman College.

KL: I have one more question about... did you talk to Senator Roberts at all?

MJT: About this?

KL: Yeah. Did he have a response that you know of?

MJT: No, I don't remember him devoting any opinions, you know, that I can remember. I think he was a little sympathetic in that he allowed me to go home. I knew that I had to get home and see how this was affecting my folks.

KL: Were there other cars that were searched?

MJT: There were other cars that were stopped along the highway, yes.

KL: Was your treatment the same as other drivers?

MJT: About as far as I could understand, it was, yes. Although once they saw that I was Asian, that may have changed their attitude a little bit. It was not evident that any of them enforced, any kind of force. They told me to get out of the car, and they searched the car.

KL: Do you think... both of your parents had been in this country for a while by that time. Do you think they would have pursued citizenship if it would have been open to them?

MJT: Oh, yes. When that was granted in 1952, my father was one of the first that went down and became a citizen, just on the announcement. He went right down and became a citizen.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: And you think your parents would have...

MT: Yes. They... I can't remember them talking about it, but I'm sure that, I know my mother did become a citizen. My father died... oh, he wasn't able to. My father died in 1945.

KL: Oh, wow.

MT: Of tetanus. He was working at a nursery in Chicago, outskirt of Chicago, and was sawing wood and buzz sawed his finger, his hand, and they failed to give him, the greenhouse work was with manure, and so he got tetanus. I think the doctor was negligent in not giving him a tetanus shot, the hospital, and he died three weeks later, a very painful death. And so that was 1945, so when my mother was able to, she did take out citizenship.

MJT: Because you had to realize that they, that was the only country they, basically they came when they were young, and by the time that, 1952, well, they've been a part of this country for over half a century if not more. They had no more allegiance to Japan and such. But they took... since the war, and a lot of inputting together to pass, to provide that right. It was not only for the Japanese, but all Asia -- it was Chinese, Indians, as well. It was inclusive of many people.

KL: And your parents wanted you close after the Pearl Harbor attack? So you came back to near home?

MJT: Yeah. So as soon as I got back after Christmas vacation, the rumors began that they were going to evacuate. There were people who wanted all Japanese to "go back home," quote/unquote. And so we said, "This is our home." Said, well that was always, you know, that you're here and so on. But... see, you were asking?

KL: Oh, I just wanted, I wanted to hear about, your parents wanted you close after the attack, and I wanted to hear about what your parents' response to the Pearl Harbor attack and then to the rumors and to the threats of being removed. How did your folks respond to, say, between December of '41 and March of '42?

MT: Well, the papers did tell us that things were going to be happening. So they're Japanese people are accepting of orders, especially when the government issues them. So I think we just listened and, for everything to fall into whatever it was going to fall into. And they obeyed, they didn't feel that they were guilty of anything, so we went, just followed whatever the government said.

KL: Was your sister still at home, or was she at Drake already?

MT: No, no. She relocated to Drake. She was a student in UCLA and got, I think she had two years' work at UCLA when the war happened.

KL: Were your parents worried, I know people were being picked up, other men were being picked up by the FBI?

MT: They didn't feel, my father didn't feel that he would be picked up, because any of the organizations he belonged to were to do with flowers and the church, and he didn't feel, I don't think he felt threatened to be picked up at all.

KL: What flower organizations was he part of?

MT: It was the Los Angeles wholesale flower market.

KL: Did he have an office in that, or was it all membership?

MT: Oh, he probably was, held an office in it, because he was so prominent. I remember going to flower shows and he was, had things to do for it. He was very active.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: I hate to skip around like this, but I also don't want to keep you here until midnight. So I wanted to hear from you, Mary, about your father's gardening at Manzanar. Do you remember gardens he worked on?

MT: Well, he had, this was the first time he ever had time to... I must say that as a father, he did take one day a week to take we children as we were growing up, we would go to a park and he'd let us ride the merry-go-rounds and roll down hills and everything, take time to play, let us play. And so when the war happened and evacuation took place, this was the first time that he didn't have a job to do. So strangely enough, he took his hammer and screwdriver and a couple of tools with him in his suitcase as we were evacuated.

KL: It must have meant a lot to add that weight.

MT: It must have. And he took nails with him, too, to the Manzanar. And he took his work apron and a smashed-in hat with him, and he was ready to do something. He didn't know what would happen, but he was prepared with tools. And so he immediately started going around picking up driftwood, and he built a fence in front of our barrack. He even took a few seeds with him, he took gourd seeds, and I don't know if they were, I think marigold seeds that he brought with him. So he was planning ahead to do something. But anyway, there was a picture in one of the books that has a gazebo that he built, built an umbrella and a table and benches which were in front of our barrack, and so everybody came by to see that, because he put it up almost the first week we were there, he had already built some outdoor furniture, and brought rocks in and built a little garden out of it. And from what I understand from the forester that Jack interviewed with, that one of the people that he had interviewed gave my father credit for teaching this young man how to build that rock entranceway monument that was there.

KL: That was built during the camp days?

MT: Yes. And that, the young man that was the architect for that structure gave credit to my father for having taught him how to stack and make the rocks hold for that monument. Now, this probably happened after I left, but my father didn't stay there that long either, so he must have... but there was time that this young architect, landscaper, gave my father credit for teaching him exactly how to do the stonework.

KL: The person I'm thinking of is Ryozo Kado, who became, he was one of the major landscape architects for the Holy Cross Cemetery in Los Angeles. Do you think they knew each other before Manzanar?

MT: I don't know, I don't know whether they met in Manzanar or what, but that's what the forester told me, he's quite sure that he gave credit to my father for teaching him as a young man.

KL: Do you think your father and other gardeners coordinated at all about what tools and seeds...

MT: I don't know whether there was time to do that or not, I can't remember him going to any meetings or anything. So a lot of the gardens that were farmed, because when we went they showed us remnants of waterfalls and streams that were built. And no one had done anything quite like that in a few... I was there just a year, and my folks were there maybe less than two years all together. So I don't know how much my father did as far as the landscaping.

KL: What was your address at Manzanar?

MT: It was 23-10-4. I'm quite sure, we both tried to remember our addresses, but figuring out the sixteen barracks configuration, I'm quite sure it was 23-10-4.

KL: I read somewhere that your dad was involved in the Block 22 garden also? Were you around or do you remember him working on other projects?

MT: No, I don't have... I was gone.

KL: I was interested because that was the block that Harry Ueno worked on, who was the person who started the mess hall workers union and was something of a leader in Manzanar, and he worked on the garden, too, and I wondered if they had known each other, if you had memories of Ueno at all.

MT: No, I don't know.

KL: But it was a priority for him, it sounds like, to kind of make a mark on the place.

MT: To keep busy and beautify. To beautify with what was there.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: Yeah, I wanted to hear also about the... I know you were real involved in gathering the Protestant congregation at Manzanar, and you talked some with Richard about the first Christmas Eve service, and you were talking also about how, kind of finding who would be interested in becoming part of the congregation. Were there other people, who else was involved in that effort to start a Protestant congregation?

MJT: Yes, there were a group of us, group that they had known each other before Manzanar, either at the First Methodist Church, or the church activities in the community in L.A. And when we found ourselves all together, well, the first thing that we thought that we needed to consider was to set up some kind of an opportunity for people to come together for worship and fellowship and to be together to find each other so we'd have the support that is necessary for that time. And so we did build a committee that was responsible for generally the Protestant Christian worship for Manzanar.

KL: Who were the other people?

MJT: Well, there was John Katayama, Taeko Yotsukura, and...

MT: There were a couple of others that I can't remember their names.

KL: What other Los Angeles churches did they come from?

MJT: Well, Taeko and John were members of the West L.A. church. We were quite active together.

KL: Were they about your age?

MJT: Yes.

MT: There were, I think, Herbert Nicholson, there were ministers who were active in some of the Japanese churches that came to Manzanar. I mean, they were allowed to come and help us, and so Herbert Nicholson was just one of the...

MJT: Yeah, he spoke, he was a Quaker missionary, spoke fluent Japanese.

KL: And he was kind of the senior pastor, acting senior pastor at West L.A., is that right?

MJT: Yes, he was. Prior to the war and after the war. And he did a lot during the time of transition and the time of the evacuation, Nicholson-sensei did a lot of traveling from L.A. to Manzanar bringing stuff in his truck to people who would write down, write down and ask him if he would bring this each time he came to Manzanar. And there's quite a bit written about Nicholson-sensei, both in the accounts of the evacuation and the accounts of the time when he was a friend, was really a friend.

KL: Did he help in other ways with establishing the church?

MJT: Yes. Well, he's been there... there's also another person, I can't remember his name, but he was a Baptist, the Japanese Baptist Church in downtown L.A.

KL: Was he incarcerated at Manzanar also?

MJT: Yes.

KT: And he was the minister at the time?

MJT: And his superintendent used to come. That is, the... in charge of the, overseeing the churches of which the Japanese Baptist Church was a member, and... Mayberry? Mayberry comes to mind. But he was very helpful, too, during this transition time. So yes, the churches were... although interestingly enough, when we left, the place of evacuation, the Japanese language school was where we were told to congregate, there were very few if any groups of people protesting or even being there. There was one group of women from the Methodist church, from the local Methodist church who was giving out coffee and doughnuts, but other than that, there was nobody there. The reason I ascertained that, the reason for that I gather is because at that time they didn't want to be associated with fear that they would be reported as being, aiding, quote, the "alien enemy," and so they didn't want that association established by coming down there and saying goodbye when things were not, or so tense. And so when the long line of red city buses with the evacuation in there began taking off, there were very few people that were present, other than the evacuees themselves. Whereas today you couldn't have one without a protest going in downtown, in the middle of Portland. Back then, that didn't occur. That's the reason I kind of think, that because they didn't want to have their written down associated with the Japanese movement.

KL: Did you coordinate with Catholic people or Buddhist people or anything in Manzanar to share ideas about...

MJT: Not until after they individually established their own community. And they all did, the Buddhists and the Catholics. They all more offered the ministry of the church and opportunity for worship and gathering in their individual... I would think that later on some of that came together for the common good of the whole camp, but I'm not sure about that.

KL: There's a copy of a sermon that a minister delivered, I think, on the last Sunday before his congregation was forced, the forced evacuation happened. And I wondered how, in Manzanar, how your experiences shaped the messages in church meetings or in your thinking. How do you think your Christianity affected your thinking about Manzanar and about the removal?

MJT: Well, of course the one aspect of that would have been the fact that the injustice and inequality that occurred. And the church recognizing that and at the same time giving hope, hope to the people that they live out their faith. And by living out their faith, that God would bring them through this dark time into the light, or a time of greater hope. Unless the churches at the same time had to call what they felt to be injust, to be injust, I would think that the last sermon would be a recognition of that, but at the same time, giving the people hope that there is a future for us someplace, and that we must stay together and we must live this hope and faith out until a new day comes. And I, for us, I don't know what others would say about us, but in a way, for us, that did happen. And that by the war and evacuation and so on, it did disperse the Japanese people to a larger acquaintance of people other than their own. Unfortunately in a very awkward and undemocratic way, but one of the results has been that more people got to know what a Japanese American was and is, and that they had the same goals and desire for life, and we need to help each other to attain them. So I hope that's one of the message.

KL: Were you involved in the work at Manzanar getting the Protestant congregation together also?

MT: Yes, by getting together with the young people that wanted to continue young people's meetings, gatherings, and choir, we had choir, and we all helped lead the -- those of us who were leaders -- helped with the worship services on Sunday.

KL: Kind of the other side of the question, I guess, that I asked Jack was whether Manzanar and the experience of having to leave your homes shaped your thinking about Christianity or about religion. How did affect your thinking? Go ahead.

MT: It did reinforce our beliefs, and I think Jack was already, had decided to go into ministry.

MJT: Oh yeah, when I went to Manzanar.

MT: So from, as time goes on, you make your goals and you go on to school to get your B.A., and he went on to seminary, and it's history from there. We served Caucasian churches, and we've had opportunities to serve Japanese churches, quote, "Japanese membership," but just our paths went so that we were called by Caucasian congregations to be the minister, so we continued that through his whole ministry.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: Were you gonna say something else, too, about how Manzanar shaped your thinking about...

MJT: One thing I remember is that the day I left Manzanar, and as I walked from behind the barbed wire fence and passed the guards at the entryway, and I turned around and all the kids were there, their bodies pressed against the wire fence. And as the bus came by, it was a commercial bus that was going from L.A. to Reno, and it was just so, the bus came and stopped, and I got on, and they, all those kids that were there at the fence, plus Mary and my parents and other people and so on were waving goodbye. I said, "By the grace of God, I will do everything in my power that this will not ever happen again." Unfortunately, it has repeated itself, and the most recently, we don't know how many Muslims were taken because they were Muslims, were taken in our, under come kind of incarceration today. Just like we didn't know how many Japanese were picked up in the middle of the night. I remember in West Los Angeles, someone said that Sakamoto-san was taken up, and Sakamoto, Mr. Sakamoto I knew very well. He was a man in his late seventies. They came and picked him up and took him away, and we don't know how much of that is even going on today, and that can be frightening.

KL: I was amazed when you said that you left in January of 1943 because that seems early. But your sister had already left to go to Drake. When did she leave?

MT: She left in December, I believe, and she was the first one to get permission to go out to school.

KL: How did she arrange that?

MT: Well, she wrote letters, and my father did have connections with some connected people and people in the Christian church, so she wrote to those office to get help, and it was accepted. And Drake University was a Disciple university. In those days, a lot of denominations had schools under their sponsorship, and Drake happened to be a Disciple Christian sponsored university. And so that was by writing to the heads of these office of that denomination, she got a scholarship to go.

KL: So she was a student there?

MT: Yes. She transferred from UCLA to Drake.

KL: And then you were there a month later.

MJT: Yes, I came. It was Florence who encouraged me to go to, to consider Drake. So I had worked, when I got into Manzanar and saw what it was like I said, first I said I'm going to get out. And it took me seven months to run all the papers through and get the okay, both from the school and from other authorities and so on, that I was granted what's called an educational leave.

KL: What did Florence say to you both about Drake and about Des Moines?

MJT: That it was cold in Iowa.

KL: I've lived in Nebraska, I know it's cold in Iowa.

MJT: I left Manzanar when it was just cold. When I got to Iowa, it was snowing, and I was cold.

KL: What did she think about the academics there or about people's response to her? I mean, it's pretty northern European in Iowa, I imagine even more in the '40s.

MJT: I've always said that once the Iowans got to know you, there was nothing that they would not do for you. But it took a while for them to get to know you. But once they got to know who you were...

MT: They were very genuine.

MJT: Yeah, they were genuine people.

KL: How quickly did you join Florence and Jack there?

MT: March, in March of '43.

MJT: Then eventually I brought my mother and dad from Poston, and my brother, older brother. You all had to have jobs. You couldn't leave the camp without a guaranteed job on the outside. So once I got out, I began working on that, trying to find work for my brother and my folks.

KL: What did people back in Manzanar say about Florence's and Jack's departures?

MT: Well, they thought, "Good, you can get out and continue your education."

MJT: There were three ways that you could get out of Manzanar. One way was to volunteer for the beet, sugar beet crew and go to Idaho and dig sugar beets. Second was to join the army, and lot of 'em did volunteer into the army. Then the third was educational leave, getting an education permit. So those were avenues that were open to you if you wanted to make any of those choices.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: Were you still in Manzanar when the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" was distributed?

MT: Yes.

KL: What are your recollections of that time?

MT: I think they expected that you would sign it, loyalty to the United States, and we did check the boxes.

MJT: It was sort of a...

MT: Kind of a strange time.

MJT: ...sort of a stupid questionnaire if you want me to be honest, because you could say yes to anything you wanted to say or no to anything you wanted to say, and that's what they were, yes and no. "Will you be loyal to the U.S.A.?" "Yes." Or you say, "No, no." And it had no relevance at all as to how you really had a feeling about being confronted and talking about what it is they wanted. And there were people angry enough to say no to all those, and they were shipped out, they were taken to Tule Lake. So the questionnaire really, as far as I was concerned or as far as many people, was of really no real value as far as trying to find the truth.

KL: And you said it was a strange time?

MT: It was. People didn't know really the purpose behind whether they were trying to trick us.

MJT: But I guess one would be that there were just enough people on the edge that were mad enough of this whole thing to just check that off, and that was one way of weeding them out. But it did not sound like a very valuable form of information.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Did you enroll at Drake also?

MT: Yes, after we got married in the end of December, so I had, Jack had gotten me this housegirl job.

KL: Oh, you were married, were you married in Manzanar?

MT: No, we weren't. We were married...

KL: A year later?

MT: ...a year later at this Central church that I joined, I went for, we went for marriage counseling. Jack and I decided to get married during Christmas or wait until Easter vacation when school break was, but we decided to get married in December and the minister was able to marry us the day after Christmas of '43, when he was through with the Christmas worship celebrations. He said, "I have time on Sunday afternoon," so at four o'clock, he put us through marriage counseling, and we were married then. My folks were already in Chicago, so they came, and my sister's host family that she lived with, Wanda Walker and George gave us a reception, so we were married. And at that time, he was already a student minister out in a little town outside of Des Moines. And our life, married life started then.

KL: When did your parents leave Manzanar?

MT: In the late part of '43, about August.

KL: How did they get to Chicago, I mean, logistics-wise, work?

MT: My father interviewed for a job at this greenhouse where they raised hothouse roses for the market, picked roses, and they grew the roses for the wholesale market. And my father did all of the writing and connection with Spandico and it was accepted, and so I think they went by train, probably, from Manzanar.

KL: And they stopped to see you on the way?

MT: No, just my father stopped when he was interviewing for the job. So I guess within, I guess he stayed less long than I thought they stayed, as I look back now, because they came to our wedding from Chicago. They had just been there a short time when they came to Illinois.

KL: And the company was called Spandico?

MT: Spandico nursery. There was a big rose grower, their name started with A, I have it on the tip of my tongue, but they were big growers, but the Spandicos had a smaller operation, and they hired my mother and father and my little sister and little brother were in high school, so they gave them an apartment in the basement of their house. That's where they worked after relocation.

KL: And when did your folks come from Poston and your brother to Des Moines? Was that in '43 also? When did they arrive in Des Moines?

MJT: Oh, they arrived there in end of '43.

KL: They were there for your wedding?

MJT: No, they didn't get there.

MT: No, I don't think they were there.

MJT: No, they weren't there. Must have been...

MT: '44.

MJT: ...early '44.

KL: You said it took a little while to get to know Iowans. Had you already made friendships?

MT: A few friendships. The Quakers have a house that they'd let.

MJT: Called a hostel.

MT: Hostel where relocates could stay for a few days before they went to, made final plans of where they were going to work and live. And so they were a big support group, the Quakers, Friends, we called them the Friends, the churches.

KL: And you were already pastoring a church?

MJT: In Granger, Iowa. I used to go out on a Sunday morning and come back Sunday night on the trolley, went to Granger.

KL: Did you talk to --

MT: The woman who was very active in his church and the woman that I worked for was, she worked for that group that supported the war, the women. There was a special name for them, and she'd go, she went out from the national organization promoting the mothers for the servicemen, and very active in this group. And she and the woman that was very active in the little church got together and they were arguing about each of us, and said, "Well, I hope Jack is worthy of Mary." And the other woman was putting up for him and she said, "Well, I just hope Mary is good enough to be a minister's wife." And so they finally got to know each of us and they decided we were both okay.

KL: You were a good match.

MT: But that was, they did value who we were. I think that's followed us all our lives, that we've never had any difficulty getting along with people because of hopefully who we are. And our children have always been accepted, and we're very proud of our children and what they each are doing.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: Has it been, I know you went to Rochester from Iowa. Has it been a surprise to congregation members or others that you've met in Iowa or in Rochester that this removal of Japanese American people happened?

MT: Some people didn't even know about it until they got to know us. They didn't know the West Coast had all that taken care of.

MJT: Yes, that's the first, lot of people, that's the first time they ever associated with...

MT: With an Asian.

MJT: And when I went to, then was called to a small rural church, Washington Mills in New York outside of Utica, the Utica paper, which was the city, in which Washington Mills was a rural community outside, came to send a reporter out to interview me. It was, the church said they called a Japanese American to be the pastor. So the morning, the next morning, I get a call from a woman who says, "My name is so-and-so, and I'm the president of the Herkimer..."

MT: Gardening club.

MJT: Oh, yes, Herkimer Garden Club. "Would you come and give us a talk on flower arrangement?" And I said, "What?" They said, "We just heard this story about you, and we thought it would just be wonderful if you'd come and tell us about flower arrangement." And I said, "Well, I know just about, as much about flower arrangement as you do." And I said, "What I will do is I'll go down a week before I came to make the talk, to the library, and take a book out on flower arrangement and tell you about it." "Oh," she said, "that's all right, come anyway." So I finally said, "All right, I'll come." So we set the date, and the week before I was to make the presentation, I went to the library and got a book on flower arrangement, got the fundamentals, and took my drawing board with me so I could draw a flower and what this flower meant, and when you put this flower, what that meant, and so on. And they told me it was just tremendous. I got home that afternoon, after the meeting, and no sooner than I lay down my drawing board, and the phone rings. And the lady says, "I'm the president of the Ilion Garden Club, and I just heard you made a wonderful talk on how to arrange flower at the Herkimer meeting, and won't you come and be our guest speaker next month?" Well, that's interesting because the association of flower arrangement and Japanese...

MT: They were stereotyping.

MJT: Stereotype that every Japanese was a gardener.

KL: Yeah, ikebana expert just by virtue of...

MJT: Yeah, every Japanese is something. But that's not only Japanese, we have stereotypes of all kinds of people. But just interesting because they had never seen a Japanese in the flesh.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: I picked up on your talk with Richard, too -- this is jumping subjects -- but he said, or you said there that you had gone over to Jeanne and John Houston's house as they were writing Farewell to Manzanar. And I had not heard that they had, I just don't know very much about their process in writing that book, and I wondered if you guys would talk about your conversations with the Houstons.

MJT: Well, they came over and interviewed us, because we knew Jeanne well when she was a little girl in Manzanar, and her family. And so when she was writing this book Farewell to Manzanar, she and her husband came to...

MT: Jim.

MJT: ...came over and interviewed us about Manzanar.

KL: What did they ask you, do you remember?

MT: Some of our feelings.

MJT: Yeah, pretty much like we're doing now. And our feeling about Manzanar.

MT: She did give us credit in the first part of the book, and so we met a lot of people who know us after the fact, and they were surprised that we were interviewed for her. But she was seven years old and we were nineteen and twenty, eighteen and nineteen when we were there, and so we were quite a bit older than she was. But then we connected again when we moved to Santa Cruz, California. She lived there, so that's when she interviewed us.

KL: Did they interview other people, do you know?

MT: I think so. I think they did interview a few people. And her children or her siblings, she was the youngest of about six or seven children, and so her brothers and sisters were our age.

KL: Did they talk in that evening or at other times about what it was like to write that book or why they were writing it?

MJT: No, I haven't seen her. Although when I see Jeanne Wakamatsu, I say, "Oh, hi." We haven't seen her for a long time.

MT: She died.

MJT: Did they?

MT: Yeah, they both died.

KL: James did. I think Jeanne?

MT: James did and Jeanne did, too, a couple of years ago.

MJT: James just died recently. Last year?

KL: He died about two years ago, but she's still living, but she, I think, just didn't go out for a year or more after his death.

MT: I think my daughter said that she did, she did die. I'll ask her when I, our daughter's going to call us soon, so I'll ask her. She was going to send me the obituary, but she didn't, so I know that, I'm quite sure she died.

KL: Oh, wow. I'll have to look at the news, too.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: This is tape number three of a continuing interview with the Takayanagis. And let's see, one other thing, and this is backtracking a little bit, but I wondered if your moms worked when they were in Manzanar, or if they pursued any projects like painting, like your fathers had painting and gardening.

MJT: No, my mother learned English. And the one thing she did in Manzanar was write to my brother while he was in the army, one letter, which was an accomplishment.

KL: Which was what?

MJT: And accomplishment for her. Not that she didn't talk English, she did. But she never undertook English classes. My father was self-taught. He read a lot, he did a lot of resourceful reading, devotional readings and so on, and he could write. He wrote letters and so on. But my mother never undertook to learn English. But this one time when my brother was in the army, she wrote one letter to him, which was really, I wouldn't say an accomplishment, but really a wonderful thing that she worked so hard to do. Other than that, she didn't have many... she did sewing and things of that sort, which women at that time were expected to do. But as far as taking up one particular project, or other, I don't know what you call it, like a craft or art, but whatever.

KL: And what about yours?

MT: My mother was a knitter, and she taught me how to knit. And she was sort of a student most of her life, attended English classes at adult evening schools. And even to the, she died at, I think at eighty-four or something, and she was still taking English classes and night school. She worked in a church, Presbyterian office in Los Angeles, Federation of Churches, Japanese Churches, up until two weeks before she died at eighty-four. But they didn't, I don't think they took any jobs while they were in, kitchen jobs or cooking, because they needed people to work in mess halls, and my folks didn't do that.

KL: Seems like they were focused on what was next.

MT: Yes, I think so.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: I mentioned that I had seen that citation of your being interviewed about your experiences of the March on Washington, and I wondered, I thought you would be good people to ask about how you think that the experience of being part of the forced removal from the coast and being incarcerated in Manzanar affected the modern Civil Rights Movement? How do you think that that played into Dr. King and others' work in the '60s and the '50s?

MJT: I think... I'm sure they were aware of that, of the incarceration when the Civil Rights Movement became a national movement. Because alongside of that was Cesar Chavez and his movements, so there were these movements, and I'm sure that they affected what had happened to the Japanese Americans and incarceration, that had some motivation for the kinds of things that Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for and endeavored to, more people, toward a better understanding of people with one another. And I'm sure that back there, though it came away in the '40s, like a ripple on water, it had a ripple effect on the movement that came to the leadership into eventually. Because I don't think it could eliminate any of those racial or other injustices that occurred that responded, brought back the responses of people who wanted to see justice done, to recognize what those ripples really were and where they came from. So there was, we can't maybe put a pinpoint like that, but I'm sure there's part of the total movement, civil rights.

KL: Did you encounter other people at that demonstration or at other marches who had histories similar to yours involving Manzanar or involving removal?

MJT: Well, the only ones that I would... would be the Native Americans. I worked on the Indian reservation for two summers with the Native Americans, and recognized that they recognized what the Japanese Americans had gone through, because they'd been going through it for a lot of their life. And they may have invisible fences constantly surrounding their enclosure. So their conversation with them and their, having a realization of a harmony with the Japanese situation, they knew what it was about.

KL: What reservation was it?

MJT: It was Fort Berthold, North Dakota, Mandan, Arikara tribes. And, of course, I was affiliated with Cesar Chavez and Coachella and the grape boycott. There, you talk to leadership, because the leadership back then, they knew about the Japanese incarceration. You know, the leadership was very much aware of what had happened. Because the farm workers had an affinity with the Japanese American workers in the fields, so they were aware of that struggle as well.

KL: How were you involved in Coachella? What was your involvement?

MJT: Well, I was attending the General Synod of the United Church in St. Louis when Cesar Chavez sent a telegram to the Synod that they were having a demonstration in the fields in Coachella, and that they would welcome any kind of help, participation that you can offer. And so the Synod put up a challenge of whether they could get two hundred persons to go on a flight to Coachella from St. Louis, so I volunteered. There were ninety-two of us that went on that flight, and we had to sign papers that if anything happened during the demonstration, that the General Synod of the United Church would not be accountable for it. That you were signing your life, too, for this. And so we flew to Coachella, outside Coachella, and were met by the farm workers who were singing early in the morning before we were assigned to, with the Coachella workers, we were assigned to certain segments of where the demonstration would be held. We went to these places where we were assigned, we would say, "Come and join us with the workers in the field. Viva la cosa, come and live the cause." And while we're doing this, walking up and down the side of the vineyard, the owners would have trucks coming back and forth, open trucks with men sitting in the back with guns, rifles, across their laps, until, just to tell the marchers that we were here, and we have guns to prove that we were here. So that demonstration went on for that whole day without incident, fortunately. But we flew back to the General Synod and gave an account of our participation there. And so every year since then, they've had an observance of the... in '92 they went to Coachella to have some recognition of the participation that United Church was supportive of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers and their cause. That was my own involvement of the march on Coachella and the farm workers.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: This is my last real question, and it's another big one, and it's for both of you if you care to it. It's what are your thoughts on how things like the United Farm Workers and other activities of the modern Civil Rights Movement affected things like the struggle for redress and Japanese American activism and other activism in the years after the 1960s? How do you think that the movement of the '60s has impacted redress and other struggles currently? Do you think it changed things, people's thinking?

MJT: Well, I think the younger generation, the generation now that has followed my generation, that was the one that spoke out for the redress because they felt that we were too passive, that we didn't protest the incarceration, and so we were more passive than active. We were too... I don't know what the exact word is, but we weren't active enough against the incarceration and so on. And so the redress was a forum to try to bring that to surface, to recognize that situation in American history. My own personal response to that was that they wanted redress and reparation of money. There was a push to have money and to make up for some of the losses that the Japanese and Japanese Americans endured during this time, and there were losses. But in America it's so easy to think that you can buy your forgiveness. "Oh, well, just give them some money and they'll forget about it." And American way is to buy your way. And when the, President Bush, that's the older Bush, signed, after Reagan, signed the reparation and apology, I think that was adequate. But because we just don't stop there, you continue to work for what is right and what is just in society, in the place you live. So I wasn't always favorably received because of that opinion. But I felt that if the government apologized and was sincere about the apology, they should be satisfied and move on. But the younger people felt that there was needed, more to be evident about their forgiveness, that would be talking in terms of dollars. So that's my general thought about that.

MT: We did both accept our check, put it into...

MJT: A trust fund.

MT: A nest egg for our old age, and probably that amount of money and a little bit more is what our children will inherit. But that was the way we used our, put that away.

MJT: The ones that really deserved to have that reparation would have been my mother and father. Most of that generation had died, but they're the ones who really suffered through this whole ordeal of incarceration and Manzanar and so on. They're the ones who lost a lot, struggled a lot through their own belief in what is right, and they, as far as monetary rewards were concerned, were not to receive anything in terms of that, because they were not here to receive it. Although there were those would say, yes, there are a few of us that are left, and that's true. But so many folks, the older folks, really deserve, if there was going to be a reparation, really deserved that reparation, it was my mother and father and their mother and father as far as generations go. But that's past history, but the tragedy of human life is that we keep repeating the tragedies of life. But every time I we repeat them, we pray that we will grow a little bit, not to do it again. So hard to learn.

KL: I lived in Boston for a year, and I can remember one of the city council people who was a veteran, he was a generation and a half older than me, and there was a person who was probably eighteen or so in the audience who raised his hand, and his question basically was, "What do we do in the face of injustice? What do we do?" and I do think that's our responsibility to today. I think it's a good question. How do we learn and how do we share?

MJT: Well, I think you learn by getting the story out and getting the truth out, talking to one another about it so that you know what to do, when to recognize what has gone awry, and to see if there's any way you can make truth prevail.

MT: And not take freedoms for granted. We mustn't just take our freedom for... be vigilant and right wrongs, because they go on all the time.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.