Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Shirley Nagatomi Okabe Interview
Narrator: Shirley Nagatomi Okabe
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 30, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-oshirley-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

AL: As far as your experiences in camp, we talked a little bit about school, did you do any special things like picnics? We have some pictures of kids at North Park picnic area, we have pictures that Miyatake took of the first grade visiting the fire station, did you do any field trips in camp that you recall?

SO: No, I don't remember any field trips.

AL: You can't go too far.

SO: I know, you're confined. [Laughs]

AL: Well, and the fire station was pretty close to you.

SO: Yeah, I don't remember visiting it, though.

AL: Yeah, it was in Block 13, the east end of Block 13.

SO: Yeah, I saw that in the picture. I didn't realize it until I saw that.

AL: But you had a picture in your scrapbook of a fire in camp. Do you remember that at all?

SO: No, I don't. When I saw that, the smoke coming up, I remember you referring to the fire that was there, that you had pictures of, I thought, oh, that must have been the one.

AL: Do you... I know that your father and Toyo Miyatake were friends. What can you tell us about their relationship and what you know about the Miyatakes?

SO: Well, we were social friends, because I remember Minnie and Tabo. I think Tabo was in my class at one point. But their friendship continued through camp after the war also, and so that's why he was a baishakunin for it, because the Maedas were in Manzanar also. They were just good friends.

AL: So your father and Toyo, did they keep in touch after the war?

SO: Yes, they came and took our family pictures, and anytime we went for our graduation pictures there, and they were very generous to us.

AL: And your father was not only the baishakunin for Archie and Take, but he also married them, right?

SO: I don't think so.

AL: He's in the pictures.

SO: Yeah, he's in the pictures but he's wearing a tuxedo.

AL: Oh, I thought he was, Archie said he married them.

SO: I don't know. I just saw the pictures of him wearing a tuxedo, because they took pictures of my mother and father all dressed up.

AL: That was a big wedding.

SO: It was a big wedding.

AL: So you were there?

SO: I went to the reception.

AL: What do you remember?

SO: I just remember they had Chinese food. All the weddings had that.

AL: Where did they go, Far East?

SO: Maybe. But there were a lot of people, so it had to be one of the bigger ones.

AL: They showed me their album once, I think I was telling you that, but it was very fascinating. Because that's 1949, so it's just as people were getting resettled. What do you recall about the end of the war? How did you find out about it?

SO: I think my parents told me. Other than that, I don't remember too much, I just knew that my mother said, "Pretty soon we'll be able to leave." But other than that, I have no recollection.

AL: So you don't recall anything that they said about Japan or the defeat of Japan?

SO: No, no. I think my mother thought, "Oh, I'll get to see my son."

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.