AL: Today is the 9th of August, 2011, this is Alisa Lynch from Manzanar National Historic Site doing an interview with Rose Hanawa Tanaka at Main Street Station Hotel. Mark Hachtmann is videographer. Also as observers are Rose's granddaughter, Anda Tanaka, maintenance worker John Kepford, Chris Smiths, he's a park ranger, and Les Inafuku, our superintendent. Rose, just before we start, I wanted to make sure that it's okay that we archive this interview in our site library, use the information for education purposes at Manzanar?
RT: That's fine.
AL: We'll also have you sign a form after the interview. And if it's okay, I'm going to take this piece of paper, only because it...
AL: It'll rattle, yeah. So this oral history is being conducted for the oral history program at Manzanar National Historic Site, and as I said, will be archived in the site library. So do we have your permission to record the interview?
RT: Yes, you do.
AL: Okay. I'd like to start out by asking your full name and when and where you were born.
RT: My full name is Rose Hanawa, maiden name, Tanaka. And I was born on October 11, 1926, in San Luis Obispo, California.
AL: And you said the other day that you were born in the hospital?
RT: Yes. My mother... I was the last of her, actually, six children in all. The first child died while he was in Japan, and so he never, in my mind, existed. But I was the youngest of the five children, surviving children, and they were all home births, being way out in the country. And so my mother, her advanced age, she thought, she was feeling a little uncertain about giving birth, and so she got into a maternity hospital in San Luis Obispo. And so when the time came, I went to San Luis Obispo and had the luxury of being born in a hospital for my mother's sake, too. And so I have to say I was born in San Luis, but I was never a resident there.
AL: Just passing through.
<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 2>
AL: Do you know your grandparents' names in Japan?
RT: Yes. My father's was Hanawa, of course, which was a family name, and they lived in Chiba-ken in Japan. Actually, I discovered quite a bit later on, in fact, only about ten or fifteen years ago, about my mother's background. I always wondered why she had a strange last name, and it was Zoza, Z-O-Z-A. And I knew she had some relatives there, she was one of many children. She had one sister who became a "picture bride" also in Hawaii, and another who went to Brazil, and I've never met those aunts. And my mother, of course, came to the United States and married my father. And I don't know if you want me to go into the Zoza part.
AL: Yeah, I'd like to get as much of a, we'd like to get as much as a background as we can on your history, so that's fine. Yeah, just whatever you can tell us is great.
RT: Well, I'd never heard the name Zoza before, I mean, among any of the other people, and even Hanawa was not a very common name. But a few years ago when a second cousin from Japan got in touch with me, and she sent a family history. And it turns out that over a thousand years ago, my mother was born from the family of Michizane Sugawara, and he was deified in Japan back in, before a thousand, 1000, he had been high up in the government and he had been thrown out by the ruling party. And after he died, there were all these storms that occurred in Japan, and they decided that his spirits were punishing Japan. [Laughs] And so they deified him, and I think I mentioned his name was Michizane Sugawara, and they started building shrines. He was a scholar of Chinese literature. And so he was banished to Kyushu island and he was down there. And he had a son named Zouzake, and Zouzake got shortened to Zoza, and then over the centuries, and thousands and thousands of descendants, my mother was in that, still in that line, and so she continued to have the name Zoza. [Laughs] It was kind of interesting to me that that's where the name came from.
AL: Can you spell the name, the first and last name, or the two names, of the man who was deified?
RT: Sugawara was his full last name. S-U-G-A-W-A-R-A. And Michizane, M-I-C-H-I-Z-A-N-E.
AL: Okay. You didn't know you were gonna be in a spelling bee today, huh? Oh, Arnold and Rosie told me you were the smartest girl in the class, so I figure...
RT: That's a lot of baloney. [Laughs]
AL: And so they became known as Zoza.
RT: Zoza, the family name became Zoza.
AL: How many people were in your mother's family? How many brothers and sisters did she have?
RT: She had a lot, but I really don't know the exact number. Seven, eight or nine, and they were very clannish, so they would adopt their nieces and nephews and that kind of thing. So I do have a whole list of things that this second cousin sent me, but I didn't memorize any of that.
AL: Would it be possible to get copies of any of that that you feel is relevant to your background?
RT: You really think that's relevant?
AL: You know, that's the kind of thing someone else could decide if they're looking for something. But any of those things we're interested in.
RT: I have not shared this information with many people.
RT: When I tell my kids about that, they say, "Oh, there are millions of people in Japan, they all say they're related to Michizane," so it doesn't really mean that much.
AL: Well, you know, I think it does in the sense that regardless of whether it's historically, quote, "accurate," it's how your family sees itself and its heritage. What is your mom's name, first and last name?
RT: Asa Zoza was her name.
AL: And I think we have her birthdate on the roster, but just for this interview, do you know when and where she was born?
RT: Well she was born in Kyushu, Japan, and Kumamoto-ken. You want the spelling of that? I'm sure you know that, K-U-M-A-M-O-T-O.
AL: Yeah, because I'm not going to be the one transcribing this, so that's helpful to whoever is.
RT: Well, that's commonly known.
AL: Yeah, Kumamoto. Do you know her parents' names?
RT: No, it's written down on that family record that was given to me, but I just don't pay any attention to... at my age, it's too much to remember. [Laughs]
AL: Do you know what her family's occupational and religious background was in Japan?
RT: Well, I think they were Buddhist Shinto. My father was Shinto. She converted to becoming a Southern Baptist in the U.S. [Laughs]
AL: I'm sure there's a story behind that, so we'll definitely keep to that. And you said she had two sisters who were "picture brides"?
AL: Did she have any brothers?
RT: Not that I know of, so who knows. I don't know.
AL: Do you know what her educational background was in Japan?
RT: She just had a sixth grade education. My father had an eighth grade education, which was, at that time, was considered as much as anybody had there, were considered educated.
AL: What about your father's background? His name, his parents, their family background?
RT: My (grandfather) was not very well. They had a farm in Chiba-ken, and it sounded like his mother did most of the work on the farm, or took care of the farm. His father made, was a barrel maker, you know, the barrel's very useful in having soy sauce, it's the kind of thing everybody had to have, and were used for, as containers. So he was a container builder, I guess.
AL: And do you know his parents' names?
RT: Not offhand.
AL: Okay. What was his name?
RT: Shintaro, S-H-I-N-T-A-R-O was his first name, Hanawa, H-A-N-A-W-A.
AL: And do you know where he was in the family as far as the youngest son, oldest son, middle son?
RT: I think he was the oldest. Back in those days, they tended to send their oldest child, it was their responsibility to save them. It was a period of poverty in Japan, and that was why we had, as I understand it, a large group of immigrants from Japan to the United States, because they were to come here and earn a fortune and ship it back. [Laughs] But that didn't happen. I think they did send back money as much as they could, but once they got here they wanted to stay here. Some people did go back.
AL: It's interesting, 'cause I know a number of people whose fathers and uncles came because they were not the oldest, because the oldest sometimes stayed in Japan and inherited the family home and business, and therefore these guys came because they didn't have any prospects.
RT: Oh, yes, there are different stories, too. Yeah, there are some where their parents said, well, he's a good-for-nothing, let's get rid of him. [Laughs] But there are different aspects. He may have been the second son. A lot of times the second son, as you say, might have been the one who got sent here.
<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 3>
AL: Do you know, you said he came when he was fifteen?
RT: Fifteen years old, uh-huh.
AL: What do you know about how he got over here and where he came to?
RT: Well, I think he was accompanied by an older friend. But at that time, because the country of Japan was careful about who they sent over, they also had some ministers, Christian ministers who came and who facilitated their getting to the United States, and they also, in San Francisco, for instance, the minister was also responsible to kind of watch over these young men and make sure that they conducted themselves well and had a community. So that's all I can say.
AL: So he came to San Francisco?
RT: San Francisco, yes.
AL: And you said that was about 1900?
RT: Year 1900.
AL: Do you know if he had any other family over here? You said he had an older...
RT: He might have had an older brother, not here in this country.
AL: Do you know how he made his living when he came to San Francisco?
RT: Well, he had no skills except what he knew what to do, being a craftsman's son. He was ready to do anything that was expected of him. In the year 1906, the great earthquake occurred in San Francisco, and I think he just went around helping with whatever cleanup there was to do. He worked... oh, I know, he worked -- oh, I know. He worked in a laundry, and back in those days, for hotels and other reasons, there was quite a large, of course, the Asian population were in charge of, were asked to do the laundry. And he mentioned that as a young man he was pushing these tumblers that tumbled the towels and sheets, the linens, and it was all done by hand, and he said he just did this practically all night long, or all day and all night. He said he could even take a nap while he was doing it, it was just a matter of physical, being able to have the sturdiness to do it. And he was, for a Japanese, I think, he was about 5 feet 5 or 6, and was well-built. So he did that kind of work. He didn't like doing work for other people, the language problem was probably the biggest impediment. And so never having learned English, he had difficulty dealing with employers and understanding.
So a lot of these young men wanted to just go out and be their own bosses, so he did different things. He would fish, he tried being a fisherman in California. We lived on the coastline, do you know abalone? You know what abalones are? There were abalones all over the place.
AL: Can you explain it for us?
RT: And he would go down and pry off the abalone and they would send them to the canneries. And, of course, abalones became almost extinct because they were so widely harvested. And I remember as a child that we ate a lot of abalone and clams and fish. We didn't have much money because he was, by then he was a farmer. And that's how we survived.
AL: Do you know where he lived in San Francisco? Not in terms of address, but did he live in the Nihonmachi, the Japanese section?
RT: Probably, I would guess, yes.
<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 4>
AL: And you said to us a little bit earlier that your mom was a "picture bride." What do you know about how that transpired? Or could you explain for someone who doesn't know what picture brides were, or how that worked?
RT: Well, because in the United States these young immigrant men were not able to marry outside of their own group, and it worked both ways. Not only did the American people want Japanese men to take American brides, but in Japan, they also frowned upon their people marrying Caucasian women, for instance. And so, of course, arranged marriages were part of the culture in Japan, throughout, and it persisted until even when I was a young person. And so he had, my father had come over with a friend, a slightly older friend, who happened to know my mother's family, and sort of got her interested in coming.
AL: So was he the baishakunin for them?
RT: I wouldn't say he was the actual baishakunin. The baishakunin was in Japan probably, and worked with this young man. And being that my mother's family had so many young women who needed husbands, I guess my mother decided she would try this. And they exchanged pictures, and if they decided just on sight that this was okay, then they would agree to this. Of course, they exchanged information also. But you can see that he probably dressed himself up for his picture, looked like something other than a laborer. [Laughs]
AL: Well, it sounds like at least he sent his own picture. I mean, you hear stories of men who sent some other guy's picture, or some picture of themselves ten years younger.
RT: Yes, I've heard about men who would send pictures of themselves standing in front of a mansion on Nob Hill and sending them over to Japan, and of course, that was very impressive to the young women over there, because they were interested in a very successful man. And I've also heard that when the ships came over with these women, and the fellows went down to the docks to greet the ships, then they would look and they would look the women over, and they decide, "Well, let's see, that one I think is better than the other one." They'd hold their pictures up and they decide. So I think sometimes that got mixed up in the process. There were all kinds of stories, but I don't know how true it is.
AL: Well, hopefully your parents got the right pictures. It sounds like they did.
RT: Well, yes, I think they did.
AL: Because if not, they have whole family in...
RT: They'd have a little trouble in the family. [Laughs]
AL: Do you know how and where they married? You said they married the day she arrived?
RT: Yes. Of course, she had to go to, what was it, Angel Island or something to get processed. And then they met, and I'm sure this Christian minister, the one that was there to help these young men, probably got, did the work and got them, their marriage licenses and performed the ceremony, and that was it. The next day they were husband and wife, and starting off on a long, precarious marriage.
AL: Aren't they all? It was interesting because people talk so much now about internet dating, and really, this is kind of like internet dating a hundred years ago. You don't quite know what you're getting, but...
RT: Well, they tried to do a little bit of investigating before.
AL: Do you know what their living situation was early on? Did they rent a room, did they have an apartment?
RT: Oh, I don't know. Probably had to rent a room, or had friends who were able to put them up. And they tried to become independent, and they didn't talk about it very much.
AL: Did your mom work at that time?
RT: I think she probably was just a helpmate, and it seemed like she, they had a shop or something, they tried doing a little shop where she cooked and made food and that kind of thing. But she was mainly just having babies and taking care of the family.
<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 5>
AL: So speaking of having babies, could you tell us the names of your brother and sister and their years of birth, or approximately when they were born?
RT: Well, my oldest brother was born, I think -- the oldest living brother -- was born in I think 1914. He's now ninety-seven and he still is alive. He lives in Los Angeles. Tom was born in 1919, and Henry must have been born about 1920... oh, got me there. My sister Machi was born 1923, so he must have been born in 1922 or so. And then I came along in 1926. Does that figure out all right, work out? [Laughs]
AL: That's a long span, twelve years. I mean, compared to some other families. You said that they had lost a child. Do you know where he fell or she fell in that?
RT: Well, yes. My father decided in reverse... in order to preserve the family traditions in the nation's history, knowledge of the country they came from, sent the two oldest boys back to Chiba-ken to be raised for a while with their grandparents in Chiba. And the oldest child, I think they called him Jimmy, I don't know. But anyhow, Katsuma and Jimmy, don't ask me how he got that name, but that was probably, for just ease of saying his name, were both sent to Japan to be raised by the grandmother. And I think they were on the farm, and there was a storm or something, and there was an accident and a tree fell on him, and so he died in an accident there, which was very tragic. But that left Katsuma as the remaining child in Japan. And he came to the United States when he was sixteen, and, of course, it was, like my father, he had no knowledge of English but he had an education in Japan and he had to go to elementary school at the age of sixteen and work through and try to gain his language skills.
AL: Going to elementary school in the States?
AL: Do you know... just to step back for a second, about how old Jimmy was when he was killed?
RT: Oh, he was only... I would say he was under five or so, five or six. He was quite young. But it was just one of these bad accidents.
AL: So Katsuma, for most of the time he was there, would have been alone?
RT: Uh-huh, yes, from then on he was the only child.
AL: So he would have come back when you were about four years old?
RT: I guess that figures.
AL: Approximately. Do you remember him coming back, yourself?
RT: Not too well. I do remember he was, my earliest memories are that he was, seemed like more of an uncle than a brother. And, of course, he spoke so much Japanese, he just had a different upbringing than I had. So it was like having an adult uncle in the family. My father also had a partner that came and helped work with him, who later went back to Japan to marry. He was a single man, and he worked with my father on the farm, and his name was Kagawa. And I didn't know his first name, but we called him Ojisan, which is "uncle."
AL: Ojisan, which is O-J-I-S-A-N?
RT: Yeah. Now, if you say ojiisan, that's "grandfather." But if you say ojisan, that's uncle.
AL: I always get those confused.
RT: It's like obaasan is "grandmother." Obasan is "aunt." So it's just a female name or a male name. And so we called people that we would meet who were young, or women, outside the family, called them obasan. But if we said obaasan, it either meant "old lady" like me, or grandmother. Or baachan. I'm your baachan.
AL: Do you know why they didn't send Tom, is it Tom and Henry, your younger brothers?
RT: No, they just needed one representative, or two in this case, two representatives of the family to Japan to get basic Japanese education and bring back the culture, to preserve the culture, I think.
AL: Okay, so it was not a...
RT: And sometimes it would be a woman if there were no older boys, that they wanted at least one person who went to Japan and brought back the culture.
AL: Do you think Katsuma was happy about being back?
RT: Well, it was just what he expected to do. He was reunited with his family, his natural family, so it was fine with him. We were all very willing to, we were raised to accept whatever came along, and we were all pretty obedient back in those days. [Laughs]
AL: Did your parents ever go back to Japan like before the war, did they go back and visit?
RT: Yes, they did go back and visit occasionally.
AL: Did you ever go?
RT: Not with them. I did not go until I was an adult. After the war happened, I said I don't want to have anything to do with that country. [Laughs] But I did, I became more forgiving and did go back later.
<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 6>
AL: What are some of your earliest memories, yourself, as a child?
RT: Oh, well, it was a very nice life. We were about one or two blocks from the ocean, our property was, where my father was farming, was just off the coast of California. And when I went to bed every night with the surf in my ears, and that was my playground. We were very poor, we were very, lived very frugally, as I said. But my friends and I went out and splashed around on the beach all the time. I mean, we didn't need any toys or anything like that. Of course, it was Depression-era days, so we lived very frugally. But I was happy, and I was kind of a tomboy, I guess. My friend and I, Maxine and I, and Maxine was of Italian descent, but she was my best friend. And we used to buddy around, she lived in town, her mother was the postmistress of the town. But Maxine and I were real close friends, and all our free time we spent, we were in the same class together in school and all that. So we went fishing together and clamming together, played in the creek and swam in the dam, all that sort of thing. So it was a nice life.
AL: And what was the name of the town?
RT: Cayucos, C-A-Y-U-C-O-S, Cayucos.
AL: And where is that?
RT: It's about halfway between, close to halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, about fourteen or fifteen miles north of San Luis Obispo. If you've heard of Morro Bay, it was about three miles of Morro Bay. Going northward, it was Cambria Pines and San Simeon. And San Simeon, of course, was where Hearst built his castle.
AL: Do you know how your family ended up there from San Francisco, like when and how that took place?
RT: Well, my father knew, or built relationships with other farmers, and they all helped each other. And he knew people in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria and various places, and located a place that would be a good farming area. And actually the land that we lived on, Cayucos, was leased land. And I don't know if people know too much, that the Issei -- my parents were Issei, first generation -- were not allowed by this country to own property, well, California. They were not allowed to be naturalized citizens. As a result, the alien land law that was enacted in California and probably other parts of the western states, did not allow, if you were not eligible for citizenship, you were also not eligible for owning property. And so he was not allowed to buy property, and therefore leased land. Now, he had a small farm in Morro Bay, for instance, but he bought it under the name of my brother, older brother, when he reached majority. Originally it was also owned by an even older friend's son, who was older than... before that, before our children reached age twenty-one, an older Nisei would offer to buy property in order to transfer it legally to a family member. And that was how they were able to buy property in Japan, I mean, in California.
AL: How much land did you have on your farm? How big was your farm?
RT: Oh, I really don't know in terms of acres, but I don't know, fifteen, twenty acres.
AL: Compared to the other farms in that area, would you consider it a small farm?
RT: Well, yes, it would be a smaller farm. In Morro Bay there was a rather prominent family of three brothers, two of them, they all had different names, but that's a different story. The Naganos in Morro Bay were known as the "artichoke kings" of California, because they raised artichokes there. They had quite a large piece of property, and did very well financially. And were also related to the Etos, I think, in Arroyo Grande. But you know about the way people get different names?
AL: Could you tell us?
RT: Well, if you have a lot of sons, and then there's another family that has all daughters, and they like to pass the family name on down. But if you have a daughter, you can't pass your family name on down to keep the family name if the daughter gets married, unless you find a family that has more sons, and the sons can agree to what they call go yoshi, and will take the woman's last name. And therefore any family that resulted from that would have, would maintain the woman's family name, and that's how they maintained their name. So if you had three brothers, and I always wondered why they all had different names. And only one retained the name, and then the other two went yoshi and were, gave their... well, became the husband and took on the name of, a woman's family name. And that's why they had three different names, but were really brothers. [Laughs]
<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 7>
AL: You said that in Cayucos that you were the only Japanese American family. Was there a Japanese American community in the larger area?
RT: It was quite spread out because... now, San Luis Obispo had quite a few Japanese people, but it was all pretty agrarian area. And so they, not too many of them lived in town, so there weren't clusters of people, but they maintained a community by having, for instance, a Buddhist temple. And the Buddhist temple would have movies that they would show, and so my mother and father were, I call them "wedding and funeral Buddhists" because that's all they went to, when they went. But once in a while there was a movie, I got to see a movie, but I didn't go to any of the services. They didn't go to regular services as much as the Christian and Catholic churches do.
AL: And was that based on work schedule or philosophy?
RT: Yes, it was just too far to have to go in twenty miles, or fifteen or twenty miles to go to church. So it was only for special occasions, so they would have, they would celebrate holidays and that kind of thing.
AL: Would you say that your upbringing, even though you weren't going to services regularly, was reflective of a Buddhist upbringing, though, as far as the traditions in your family?
RT: Well, of course, our big holidays were like New Year's, Oshogatsu. But that's more of a national holiday type of thing. And I remember my mother buying me all these little dolls, it was fun to have all these dolls, but you show the court of the emperor, and it was just kind of cute to have all these dolls. But you don't play with them, they were just display only. So that was the only dolls that I remember having, and I couldn't handle them, they were just for display, and you brought them out in certain times of the year. And they celebrated Girl's Day and Boy's Day, that kind of thing. But I think they were more cultural than they were religious.
AL: How would they celebrate Girl's Day? Because I know for boys they put out the koi fish to show how many sons.
RT: That's right.
AL: How did they celebrate Girl's Day?
RT: Maybe these dolls were displayed for Girl's Day. I don't know because they showed the queen, the empress and her court, and they were all dressed up and everything. But I don't remember that we paid much attention to the girls. [Laughs] Girls kind of got short shrift all along, as you know.
AL: Would you give us some examples of "short shrift" in your family? Because there's two girls, you and your sister, right?
RT: Yeah. Well, I don't think we suffered from it much. I think the boys had to work much harder, but we were, we had to play our female roles, that is, do housework and that kind of thing. But I kind of liked doing whatever I wanted. And being the youngest in the family, my mother had her hands full, so she didn't really check on me that much. Me and Maxine, Mackey I called her, Mackey and I would go off and go fishing and do all these things. It wasn't... she didn't have a lot of control over me. [Laughs]
AL: Did you spend a lot of time with your... well, your sister, it looks like she's about three years older than you. Did you play together a lot?
RT: Yeah, she was big sister to me, and I think part of the responsibility fell on her being the older child. And since I was the younger one, I got to do, I had a little more freedom, and she was the one that had to help Mama out a lot more. And my mother also worked out in the fields, she was very helpful to my father. And so my sister was in charge of the house more, and did more of the cooking and that kind of thing.
<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 8>
AL: What was your family raising on the farm?
RT: Well, my father became best known for lettuce, head lettuce, in Cayucos. The Morro Bay property, we raised beans that could be harvested for dry beans. But that didn't take this much attention as the lettuce did.
AL: So you said he was known for lettuce. Was he like the lettuce king of Cayucos? [Laughs]
RT: No, he wasn't the lettuce king, but he was very attentive with plowing and having the fields tended to, and taking out the weeds and that kind of thing. He was very meticulous in what he did.
AL: And how did he sell his lettuce? Was he a truck farmer?
RT: He was a truck farmer. In the early days... he, well, when the lettuce was ready for harvest, then it became very busy because everybody had to go out, cut the lettuce, crate them, and pack the crates on trucks. And he, at first, I think he had truckers come and truck them in, and he was able to earn enough with proceeds to buy a truck. And my brothers were growing older, so they would load up the truck with the lettuce, crates of lettuce, and then he would drive it two hundred miles down to market in Los Angeles and sell the lettuce. And then he'd come back, and just kept, until the harvest was completed, and then it was his job to make sure that the fields were plowed under and prepared for the next crop. The thing about California is that the weather was so mild where we lived, it never froze, it never got up above eighty-five, and so it was year-round farming. So I don't know whether it was two or three crops a year that he was able to get from that one piece of property. So it was a continuous job for him. And at first he had a couple of horses that he used for plowing the fields. And then later on, it was much later on he was able to get some farming equipment . So in the home we lived in, there was a hill behind us, and there were two horses that lived there. And they were the work horses, and when you had plowing to do in Morro Bay, he would climb on the cart afterwards, and the two horses would pull him, and they would go to Morro Bay and work the property over there. So he had a hard life; he worked continuously.
AL: So he had both of those farms at the same time?
RT: Yes. But as I said, the bean farming was a little less demanding. And he actually had some workers who lived in the farm property in Morro Bay, so they were good workers, and they also were able to live there. So he did have help, hired help.
AL: Were these Japanese workers?
RT: No. It seems to me they were mostly of Filipino descent.
<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 9>
AL: You'd mentioned earlier, I'm going to be skipping around just a little bit to fill in a few pieces. But your parents were Shinto, you said that your dad was Shinto.
RT: I think my father was more Shinto, I don't know that... it didn't make a lot of difference, they were very closely related. It's not like in this country. It's a little different setup. It was more of a cultural thing, but I didn't understand it very much, obviously.
AL: So things like... I know, at least in the camps, they weren't too enthusiastic about having Shinto because of the connection to the emperor.
RT: Yes, that Shinto was mainly a deistic... it had to do with the emperor, and also, as I said, Michizane was elevated to sort of a Shinto, in the Shinto fashion to a god. But to me it was just all very... well, how do I put it? I have a different take on religion, so I'm not a deist.
AL: So between... if you have Japanese culture on one end of the spectrum and Americanized culture on the other, where would you say your parents were in comparison to the kids? Like you said Katsuma was very culturally Japanese.
RT: I'm always grateful that my parents did not indoctrinate me, if that's what you're saying. I didn't have to believe everything the way they believed it. I mean, they had this feeling they were in a different country. Perhaps if they were in the country of Japan, they would have to be responsible for continuing that religious part of it. And I don't think that even in Japan that there's that much strictness in many families. And my parents never did impose that on me. So when a lady up the road who was a, who had missionary instincts, and saw this pagan child looking, we became friends and she came by and she wanted me to go to the Presbyterian church with her, I'm sure she got permission from my parents. "Could I take" -- I was going by Rosie in those days -- "could I take Rosie to church?" And my parents were agreeable. I mean, it wasn't that they were so addicted to... I shouldn't say addicted, but that tied to their religious background that they would object to my being taken to a Christian church. And my father also, going back many years, he had been taken, helped along in his younger days by a Christian minister, so they were very open-minded. And so when Mrs. Gannon came by and wanted to take me to the Presbyterian church, I went. And took me every Sunday, Wednesday night and Sunday to church. I got a big dose of church.
AL: How would you spell her name?
RT: G-A-N-N-O-N, Gannon.
AL: Did other members of your family, your sister or your brothers...
RT: No, I was the only one that got picked to go. [Laughs]
<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 10>
AL: Where did you attend school?
RT: In Cayucos. A two-room schoolhouse, first through eighth grades. And I think there were five people in my class who graduated from eighth grade, so it was a very small community, a small school.
AL: And Maxine was in that?
RT: Maxine was also in my class from the first grade on, and into high school.
AL: Were you involved in extracurricular activities in school or clubs or anything like that?
RT: Oh, everybody was in some kind of thing or not. We were all in. We were busy. When I got up to high school... well, in grade school, we were in grades one through four in the younger years, and then four through eight. We were all together, so it was more like community learning. You helped the younger children and the older ones helped the younger ones, and it was quite a busy school situation. And so I don't remember that we had any special activities outside of just studying.
AL: How were you treated by other students? You said you were the only Japanese American?
RT: Well, we were treated very... you know, there was no discrimination as such. My friends were all Italian, Portuguese, there was one Jewish boy. We were totally integrated and we all were equally accepted. My friends mostly were Catholic because they came from Italian and Swiss backgrounds. But they never tried to convert me to that religion, and it was all very integrated. And it was not until the war came on that we got disintegrated.
AL: We definitely are going to talk about that. Your family, you were talking about you went to the Christian church. Did your parents, when they weren't working, were they involved in any sort of other social clubs or organizations?
RT: Well, my father worked with the, sort of a farm coop or something, they got together. There was an organization of... the farmers would get together and share information on how to improve their farming skills and that kind of thing.
AL: Who was in that coop? Was it local farmers, Japanese American farmers?
RT: Those were Japanese, mostly Japanese American, because the Japanese, I should say, because they all spoke the same language which was Japanese. My father also did communicate with some of the people in the, farmers in the community. He was quite sociable, and he made friends with the Italians, and we had wineries around there, they raised grapes, and once a year they'd get together and stomp on the grapes and have a nice party and drink last year's wine and make next year's wine. And so I felt like that was kind of a social outlet for him. And he would always, he would go once or twice a year to those wine making parties. My mother was busy at home with the kids. [Laughs]
AL: How would you characterize, before the war, what their marriage was like, what you observed of their marriage?
RT: Well, Japanese marriages are very different than what you assume from current American marriages. They got along fine. I mean, they were... how would you say it? They were fine, but it was just like this is the way life is, and they were very accepting. And I know that they had their moments of not getting along, my father liked to drink beer and get down, he could drive his truck down to Los Angeles and have a good time with his buddies down there, that kind of thing. So I think my mother felt a little left out of the loop on that point. But she was able to look well, she dressed well, and she had a sewing machine and she made clothing. And so as poor as we were financially, we did fine. And she did a lot of gardening and raising flowers in the garden. We had chickens, oh, that's right. Talk about living in the Depression era, we didn't have to spend a lot of money on food. We grew vegetables in the garden for all our vegetables. The boys went out and surf fished and brought back fish or abalone or clams. We had chickens and we had eggs. And so the only things we needed were like milk and butter and that kind of thing, and meat. And my father would go to the slaughterhouse which was up the way and he would get organ meats that people didn't want. So we lived a lot on liver and brain and tripe and all that, so I have a very wide arrangement of food that I will not turn my back on. We had to survive on whatever was available. And we did a lot of cooking at home, everything. We didn't eat out at all, much.
AL: Maybe that's how you got to be the smartest girl in your class, by eating brain.
RT: [Laughs] People say, "Brain?" Well, that's the good food to eat. You ought to try it sometime.
AL: Just one question about Katsuma. You said that when you came back, he needed to go to elementary school to learn English. That would be close to the time you were in elementary school? Were you in school together at all?
RT: I'm trying to think. I think I was... yeah, I was probably, but we didn't have much contact. He would go in and it was probably... he had all the skills of math and other things, but it was just the language part that he had to learn. So he advanced very quickly through elementary school and ended up, was in high school as soon as he got the language skills. So we didn't spend a lot of time in school together.
AL: So he didn't have to go through with an elementary class.
RT: No, no. It wasn't like we were first graders together. [Laughs]
AL: Well, you know that's one of the things in the propaganda back at that time, you see where they're talking about the dangers of having these older Japanese students, they're caricatured as these sort of older men sitting next to fourth graders.
RT: Oh, well, I don't recall that at all, so I didn't get in on that.
<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 11>
AL: I was just looking at school... what do you remember of December 7, 1941?
RT: December 7th was a Sunday and I remember it well. We didn't have, of course, back in those days, TV. The only radio we had was the one that Tom had put together. He was quite skilled in electronics and mechanics, and he had built a radio and we would listen with headsets on when he invited us to do that. And, but on December 7th in the morning, Mrs. Gannon picked me up and we went to church. And at that time, because the World War II was happening in Europe, we had, we could tell that there was a lot of activity, militarily, there was Camp San Luis Obispo, and the soldiers from there would come to our church in Morro Bay to attend church services every Sunday morning. In the evening, for the evening service that she took me to -- and this was the first I discovered -- there were no servicemen there. And, of course, they were grounded in camp because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. That was my first knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor. And, of course, I was appalled that this had happened. So that's all I can say, and then, of course, we got the paper, the Hearst newspapers, and I can't remember which one it was, whether it was the San Francisco Examiner or something like that. But the headlines were just terrible, they were vicious as far as, of course, and that was to work up the patriotism on the part of Americans to fight the war against the "Japs." And it was very... then I started to feel very much the pressure of discrimination. I did not feel it from my schoolmates. People in town were just, did not, that I was aware of, did not discriminate against us. We'd lived our whole lives there and were accepted. But maybe I should bring up that Captain Williams at this point.
A few years previous, a military man, a retiree from the U.S. Navy, he was a lieutenant commander, and he'd also been a captain in the merchant marine, retired in Cayucos. He got the land that was next to where we lived, and proceeded to build himself a home. And how did he do it? He bought old railroad cars that he banged down and slapped down in his flatbed truck, and he tore them apart and carefully recycled the materials and built himself a very nice home, a small but modest home on top of the hill. And it was a very good home. He went down and dug himself a well for well water, and he also was a very friendly, sociable person, and he came down and made friends with my father and mother. And he was a man who was interested in many things and had done many things. He would follow my father around and relate all his tales that he had, his adventures from all over the world and everything he had done, and talk to my father and watch how my father farmed and all that. And he was very friendly to us. When the war started, Captain Williams heard about the evacuation order.
AL: This is Alisa Lynch with Rose Tanaka. This is tape two of an oral history interview on the ninth of August, 2011. And just before our break, you were talking about Captain Williams and his friendship with your parents, and his, building his house up on the hill.
RT: Captain Williams was a remarkable man in that he had this sense of community. When he came into the community, not only did he build his friendship with my father, which was, I thought was very unusual in that he extended this hand of friendship and was also very good to my mother, and treated her with high respect and love. And I don't know that she had ever seen that, living her life just in this secluded relationship with my father. Captain Williams also wanted to help the community he came to. He started up an American Legion unit there and named himself the commander of it. [Laughs] He was used to being in charge. And he also saw that the community could use some recreational facility. He went down to the pier and there was a, sort of a community hall that wasn't being used for very much, and he had it refurbished and turned it into a roller skating rink so that the young people in our community would have recreational facility. It was just a man who, there was no need for him to do anything, but he felt that there was a need there and wanted to help the young people.
AL: Did he have a family or wife or children?
RT: He had a woman who came to live with him and he married her. Her name was Gladys. But he had had a previous marriage, and I don't know what became of that, but he had grown children. So I would say Captain Williams was way up in his sixties somewhere. And so...
AL: What was his first name, just for the tape?
RT: Frank King Williams was his full name. And he was a captain in the merchant marine, and a lieutenant commander I believe I said in the navy.
AL: So would you say he was like ten years older than your father? Twenty years?
RT: Yeah, I don't know really, but I'd say about ten years older.
RT: So upon retirement he had enough energy and wanted to do things to help his community. He also used to go up on his flatbed truck and cut trees in the forest. And would open up a Christmas tree lot and sell Christmas trees, which we had never had before. If we wanted Christmas trees, we had to go and scrounge around and find a Christmas tree. But he wanted to serve the community, and that gave him some extra change in his pocket. So when World War II occurred, I think I mentioned that we were all shocked, of course, the whole country was in shock.
AL: Do you remember specifically how your parents reacted, anything that they might have said?
RT: I think they were not terribly surprised, I don't think, because there was such tension internationally. And I can go into what I learned in later years about that, but, of course, Japan was trying to expand its influence in the Far East, being a small island country, and having a lot of pride and determination to dominate, they were going out and were doing all this. And, of course, everybody thought the emperor was doing it while in actuality it was the military machine there that was doing that. My parents were very stoical and accepting of whatever happened, and they did not express a lot of feelings. I think they were torn because they had some allegiance to the emperor of their home country, but they knew the reality was that all the children were American citizens and they themselves were Americans. They had no intention ever of going back, and they knew that hard times were ahead. So I think they had a foreboding of what was going to happen as far as, just from the experience they have had, and that they had been looked down upon and were permitted to participated in the American life fully as they would probably have liked. But they were content with what they were, that they were able to survive financially and to raise a family.
AL: Do you remember Katsuma's reaction?
RT: I really don't remember his at all. I mean, his was like ours, I think, we were just in shock. And he accepted the fact that he was, after all, an American citizen, he was born in this country. And he never was very, displayed any emotions that I know of.
AL: And he would have been, at that time, back in this country for eleven or twelve years it sounds like.
RT: Oh, yes, yes. So he felt much as we felt that this was his country.
<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 12>
AL: So did... I know you were talking about Captain Williams, but just before that, after Pearl Harbor, did the FBI or anybody come?
RT: Yes. The FBI immediately after World War II started, after the attack, okay, and I digress just a little bit. As soon as the attack occurred, we had a couple of fellows in jeeps who came to the top of the highest hill behind Captain Williams, and each day they would go up there and watch, look over the ocean and spot, try to find any warships, any submarines or whatever they thought was dangerous like an attack approaching. So that was their job, there were two fellows who just went up the hill and stayed there night and day. And Captain Williams was very good to them, too, and invited them in for coffee and refreshments and that kind of thing. And at the same time he was kind to us. So after the war started, the FBI did come to check on my father. They came in and they asked for Nobutaro Hanawa. And my father said, "I'm not Nobutaru Hanawa," and he could prove that he was, from his papers, that he was Shintaro Hanawa, they had the first name wrong. So the FBI went away. And then, shortly after that, the Executive Order on February 19, 1942, came out in which they ordered the evacuation or the... first of all it was, not the evacuation, but we were declared in a military zone one and two, and we were in zone one which was the one next to the coastline, and that froze us from doing anything. The first, in the first couple of weeks it was possible for people, if they had the ability, to move out of this area and go out of that zone and take up residence in another place. Most of the population as far as I could tell had, did not have the ability to move out financially, and just pile all their goods onto a truck and move out. The other was that there was a high feeling of discrimination by all the states in the west, and people had tried to go and were stopped at the borders and were told they couldn't enter. I know that the Naganos were able to leave. They, as I said, were successful artichoke farmers, and they were able to go and move inland to another state in the Midwest, I believe.
My father heard from co-farmers that there was a place in Reedley, California, where we could sit out the war. And, of course, he felt that the war wouldn't last that long, and this being a large country, that there's no chance that Japan would take over the United States. He said, "We'll just go and sit out the war there." So he made arrangements for us to go to Reedley and live for a while. First of all, Captain Williams said to me, "Rosie, you need to finish your year as a sophomore in high school. You need to finish your year of high school, and so you could live with Gladys and me, and I'll take care of you." He said, "I'll write a letter and it'll be okay, I'll write a letter to General DeWitt," and so he did, and told him that he would be responsible for me. And, of course, the upshot of that was that he got an immediate reply saying there would be no exceptions, I would not be able to. But my parents had moved to Reedley and I stayed with the, Captain Williams for about two weeks, I believe, until we got the response back.
The second thing he did was he saw this field of lettuce that needed to be harvested that my father had abandoned in this move, and he went out there and, one way or another, he harvested that crop of lettuce, loaded it on his truck, I don't know, he may have had to hire some hired people, hands to do that. But he drove that truck down to Los Angeles to the market and sold the crop of lettuce. And by then, of course, farm produce was very much in need because all the young people were leaving, they had armed forces to feed and all that. So the prices were good, and so he received a certain amount of money for that crop, and he drove them with the money and took it to Reedley and put the money in my father's hands and said, "Here is the money for your crop of lettuce." So that was the second thing he did.
After my father had moved to Reedley, the FBI got their facts straight, and they indeed wanted Shintaro Hanawa, not Nobutaro Hanawa, and they went through our family belongings and looked at all the literature, letters, because my parents had also been in touch with the families back in Japan, and tried to see if there was anything in these letters that indicated that there was allegiance to the emperor there. But what happened is that they just went ahead and said, okay, the next day they came and said, "We're going to take you into custody." And my father knew that was the writing on the wall, that he would have to be taken in, as so many of the other heads of households were taken in, hundreds of them.
And when Captain Williams got word that my father had been taken in, he was up in arms. He said, "They can't do that. They can't just take him in and keep him without charges." So he put on his full dress uniform, with gold braid and all his military badges and everything on, and he went up to... I think it was Monterey where the camp was that they had my father at that time. And he said, "I'm Captain Williams and I'm here for a hearing. You're holding Mr. Hanawa here without charges, and I'm here for a hearing for him. I want to know why you're holding him." And the camp directors were quite surprised at this rather impressive looking man at the gate, asking for this, and so they said, "Well, we'll have a hearing this afternoon," so they did have a hearing to accommodate him. And Captain Williams sat and they had this hearing, and they questioned my father and asked him all these questions that could have been intimidating and accusatory, but that did not, but there was nothing. It turned out that their decision was that they had nothing that they could pin on him to justify holding him as a prisoner. And this was a prisoner, he was a prisoner of an "enemy alien prison camp," this was not a relocation center, but it was for "enemy aliens." And so they said, "Well, I guess we will release him. However, we can't just release him unless the family is already in a camp."
At that point, where we were living in Reedley was area number two, and it too became, came under orders to be evacuated. So the people knew that, all the Japanese Americans and Japanese people knew that they would be evacuated and have to go to relocation centers, and they would have to go to Poston, probably Poston or Gila, Arizona. And my mother said she wanted us to go into Manzanar because that way if we go early, then my father would be released to us. The sooner we were in camp, the sooner he would be released. And so she knew some people at the hospital at Manzanar and said, "I have a daughter who is..." I don't know how she put it, it might have been a language problem, but she said she is a nurse. And they said, "Well, we could use nurses here." Well, my sister was a nursing student, actually, at the University of Cal at Berkeley. And so they said, "Well, we could use people here at the hospital," so they, on our behalf were able to arrange for a place for us to stay in Manzanar. And so we voluntarily got ourselves to Manzanar, my brothers happened to have a truck available, farm truck available, put a few belongings on. So unlike some of the other people, we were able to take my mother's sewing machine and her bed. So we had a few more things, family belongings that we were able to take, and we went to Manzanar, and we were in Block 30. And that was the block where people from Florin and Elk Grove were, mostly. So camp was pretty much full at the time.
<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 13>
AL: Before we go into the camp stuff, I just wanted... if it's okay, to ask you a couple questions a little further back.
AL: And one was, you talked about your friend Maxine being Italian, and that you were close and that you did everything together. How did Pearl Harbor and the war affect your friendship, or did it?
RT: No, I did not, I could not tell that it made any difference in our relationship. You must understand, after all, that Italians were part of the Axis powers, and California was, had a large Italian population. I don't know whether the Italians were targeted much. I know that we were targeted because we were on the Pacific coast, which was just closer to Japan. And I have heard since that some Italians and Germans were questioned and were investigated. Maxine's family, the Genardini, was very popular, were a very prominent part of that community.
AL: Can you spell her last name?
RT: Genardini, G-E-N-A-R-D-I-N-I, Genardini. And her uncle was the constable of the town. Her father drove a truck that carried, well it was more like, just carried stuff up and down, and her mother was postmistress of the town. So they were, well, I mean, in a small town, everybody is prominent. There are all kinds of jobs to be done. The teacher, my teacher, Mrs. Minetti, was Italian. Her husband was head of the library, was head of the library there. So all these people had responsible jobs, and they have known us all their lives. And their attitudes remained very friendly with us, so we did not feel the sting of discrimination from them.
AL: Did you look at them at all, though, and say, "Wait a minute, we're at war with Italy and with Japan. Why do I have to go and not Maxine?"
RT: No, I didn't question that. I realized that there was a much stronger part on the part of the U.S. government, it was in the press and all that, that the Japanese were the bad guys, that the emperor and the military there were the ones not to be trusted. And this apparently is what the U.S. government parlayed to all their people in this country, that we had inherited the Japanese mentality, regardless of our birth, our natural birth rights here, that we had it in our blood. And this is what Franklin Roosevelt mentioned, that we were "unassimilable" is how he put it. And, of course, we had separate because of the way we were treated, and because of the way the Japanese did not want us to intermix, have intermarriages. And so it worked for both sides, both from the United States side and from the Japanese side, that we had not mixed, there were very few cases of mixed marriages here.
AL: It was interesting, I think it was DeWitt who said, in regard to Japanese, "A viper is still a viper no matter where it's hatched."
RT: Oh, yes, the "Yellow Peril."
AL: Yeah. Well, and you had the Hearst papers, I mean, your next-door neighbor down there, Mr. Hearst. Was he still alive during the war?
RT: He was alive, yes. He was living a great life up there at Hearst Castle. He had Hollywood girlfriends who came up, and they had big parties there. And when they had big parties, they needed help, and so the high school gals were hired to go and wait tables and do work at the Hearst Castle to entertain his Hollywood friends.
AL: Did you ever do that?
RT: No, I wasn't old enough. [Laughs] Some of the older ones, the seniors said they worked at the Hearst Castle for a party or something.
<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 14>
AL: You said that Captain Williams had harvested your lettuce crop. Who took over your farm, or was it just left abandoned?
RT: I don't know whatever happened. Since it was leased property, I'm sure it was a woman who owned the property in another town, and I'm sure they took care of it, whatever happened.
AL: So your family never went back there?
RT: No. And the property in Morro Bay, which was in our family name, we leased out. But much later on, when we were able to leave camp, we decided that, my father and brothers decided they would like to have some proceeds from that property, and they sold it, and they got very little money for it and were able to invest in a little farm property down in southern Colorado.
AL: The other question I had was after your father was arrested and taken in, did your family know where he was initially? I mean, what did they tell you they were going to do with him?
RT: Well, all we knew was that he was going to be in a prison camp, and that there were several prison camps. But we didn't know where he was, and I understand that they moved these men around from camp to camp. So they didn't give us much information.
AL: Did you get any communication from him?
RT: I think maybe my mother received a letter or two from him, but a lot of it was just blocked out. I don't know that she really heard much from him. But it all happened pretty quickly when Captain Williams went to get my father's release.
AL: How long was your dad there? Was it a matter of days, weeks, months?
RT: Maybe weeks, but it wasn't a long time. Because we went into Manzanar in, I believe, in July of 1942.
AL: And were you there before your father or did he come with you?
RT: We were there before. When we were able to let the prison camp people know that we were there, then they were good, they kept their word, and he was released to us quickly. And so he joined us very shortly after we were in camp.
AL: How did he get there? Did they send him under escort, or did he just show up?
RT: I really don't know. He just showed up. [Laughs] I suppose they just gave him a bus ticket and he appeared.
AL: How did you... I know that your brother brought some of your possessions. How did you physically get from Reedley to Manzanar?
RT: Well, from Reedley to Manzanar, that's all very hazy to me. But I think we took a bus.
<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 15>
AL: Do you remember your impressions when you first saw Manzanar? You came in at a time after most of it was built.
RT: Yes, it was mostly built, but I do remember arriving in the camp and finding that there were some ditches, sanitation ditches that were still, needed to be closed over. It was still in the process of being finished off for people to live in. But it was pretty much finished. I think I remember some of the ditches that still had to be leveled off, but all the facilities were there.
AL: Do you remember your emotions as far as seeing it, knowing you're going to be there?
RT: Well, I don't know, it was just really strange. My state of mind was, "What's going on?" It was like a dream, or a nightmare, whatever. And whatever happened, happened, and this was the way it was going to be. So I don't remember any huge emotions except I knew that this was wartime, and we were being affected by a war, and this is what happens when you're in the wrong side.
AL: Was your entire family going to Manzanar at one time? Were your brothers, your sister, everybody there in camp with you?
RT: Yes, except for Tom, who was in the military. It was Kay, Katsuma, and Henry, and my sister Machiko and me, so there were four children and my parents together.
AL: Could you tell us a little bit about your brother Tom and how he was in the military? Was he drafted, did he volunteer?
RT: He was drafted.
AL: When was he drafted?
RT: He was in April, I think, of 1941, he was taken in. He had to report for duty, and because the army was segregated at the time, they didn't know where to put him. He went through basic training and then they didn't have a unit for him, so he was shifted from camp hospital to camp hospital, wherever they needed him. And this is my recollection, it may not be accurate. But all I know is that he was very disgusted that he was made to work as an orderly in a hospital, and he wanted to be in the military and he had very strong feelings about the Japanese, he wanted to fight them, and why couldn't he go and fight them? But they, instead, moved him to a hospital where he carried bedpans, and so he resented that. So when the 100th Battalion and the 442nd unit was set up, he was placed there, he was very glad to be with them. And he was sent to the European front and spent all of his, the rest of his military time in Europe.
AL: We will definitely talk about the 442nd, I know your husband was also in that and lost his brother. But I just wanted to have an idea of who... when you moved into your barrack at Manzanar, was it just your family or did you live with another family?
RT: Well, the barracks room was about twenty by twenty-five feet, you know, there were four units to a hundred by twenty-five foot building. And if you had six people, they considered that a family, and we were all placed in that one room, so we didn't have to share it with another family. If you had a smaller family, you would have to share it with another smaller family. And if you had a huge family, then you may have, use two rooms. But we were just about the right size for one room.
AL: When your dad came back to join you, were you already, how long had you been there?
RT: Oh, it wasn't very long, maybe a couple of weeks or so.
AL: Did you notice any changes in him?
RT: No. He was subdued, but I didn't see that it had any bad, you know, there wasn't a real huge change. He was very grateful for what Captain Williams did in securing his release. So I think he was very good with that, and grateful.
AL: He was very fortunate. Did you or your family remain in contact with Captain Williams? Did he ever come visit you at Manzanar?
RT: No, he never came to visit us in Manzanar, but once we got out, I think he came out to visit the family out in Colorado. And he did come and visit, I think he visited me in Denver once.
<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 16>
AL: So what was life like in Manzanar in the early days, the first, say the first month you were there. What would a typical day be like?
RT: Well, it's just getting used to a new routine, getting used to the dust storms in the summertime, getting used to the snowstorms in the wintertime. Being from a part of the country that is very mild and has good weather, the surroundings were beautiful, right up against the Sierra Nevada Mountains on one side, and the Inyo Mountains on the other side, and the valley. But the weather was very hard on us, and that was it, and getting used to, all of a sudden, a whole new population of people, it was like going to a foreign country, to seeing all the... could you imagine? Everybody that looked like yourself. [Laughs]
AL: I heard a quote once about a child who was in the... I don't know if it was Manzanar or another camp, but a small child who said that, to his mother, "Take me back to America."
RT: That's right, I felt like I went to a foreign country. Well, of course, it was not out of choice, because it was, after all, a prison camp. I think I was aware that we were imprisoned.
AL: Were the towers constructed by the time you got there? Because four of them were built in July, I just don't know the date.
RT: As far as I could tell, everything was in place, barbed wire fences, the towers.
AL: And you were Block 30, so you were pretty close to the highway?
RT: Yes, towards the highway, towards the corner of the camp.
AL: Did you see the towers, did you see the people up there? What do you remember about the guard towers?
RT: Well, I didn't play much attention to them, actually. I mean, we knew that as long as we stayed within the limits of the camp there was no problem. The thing I do remember is that the place was, although it was a prison camp, the administration of that camp were humane. Except for the military presence, and that's all it was, was a presence, the people who administered the camp, the teachers who were there, and everyone there, treated us as if we were not harmful people, that we could be trusted. And I think that I really got to appreciate more the culture of where my family sprang from. Because the whole camp worked together to make a community that took care of each other and contributed in their own way, whether they were teachers or... they were coaches or musicians, or whatever skills they had. Religious leaders, they all gave their skills to make this a community that was tolerable and productive. So I think that from that standpoint, it taught me about community building.
<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 17>
RT: Of course, the first thing I did, or soon after I got there, the schools were opened, and they were deplorable. They were barracks, there was no furniture, there were no desks, we sat on the bare wooden floors, no books, no equipment. But it was shortly after that... and during that transition period, I felt the skills of the teachers who were there, I knew, I was aware, I think, that these teachers gave up something by coming to this community to work. And the journalism teacher, social studies teacher, the science teachers, and I'll always remember Clive Greenlee, he was a blind teacher, and he had to have a student who guided him to get anywhere, but he taught speech. And all these people gave their skills. And one study hall that I went in, one of the first study halls, I thought, well, what are we going to study? Well, we had a teacher who could practically recite whole books and stories, and teach us just by, just verbally. And I think I'll always remember these people who gave their skills in whatever way they could to this group of students who were probably not too happy to be there.
But soon afterwards we started receiving all the things we needed, desks were constructed and science labs were set up, and all the things we needed, all the equipment appeared. Made sports fields, baseball fields and volleyball fields and all kinds of things. So in a very short time, the whole community developed into a society that was livable and tolerable, and I think all our energies went into making that successful.
AL: For the teachers, I know when we talked last weekend, we were talking about Janet Goldberg, and you mentioned Rollin Fox, (the principal, and) some of the other people. Could you, by whomever, whichever names you remember, or positions, just describe a little bit about what you knew of their background and what your impressions were as a teacher? A number of people have mentioned Clive Greenlee as being a really, really good teacher, and people have mentioned Janet Goldberg. But you don't always have the specifics of what was it that, why is it that seventy years later, people still talk about...
RT: Well, you're impressed by people, then you realize that they probably gave up a lot in order to be there with us. I mean that the caring attitude for other people, and I often wondered about their backgrounds. They didn't talk about their backgrounds, so I can't tell you what their backgrounds were like. And we didn't feel like we should ask them, I mean, it just didn't occur to us that they had another life, too, which they probably did. All know is that Louis Frizzell, the music and speech... the music and, well, vocal music and drama, he went into television work. And I remember years and years later, we didn't have a television for a long time, I didn't watch television. But all of a sudden I saw him on television, he was an actor. [Laughs]
AL: You know he in Farewell to Manzanar? He's the only, in the made for TV movie, he's the only person who plays himself.
RT: Is that right?
AL: So he's this hefty middle-aged guy that shows up and says, "I'm Louis Frizzell." And it's... yeah, he played himself in that movie if you ever have a chance to see it. It's just a very small cameo, but it was him.
AL: What do you remember, though, about some of the other teachers, though, as far as your interactions with them and their interactions with other students?
RT: Well, I thought they were all very good teachers. Miss Kramer, I think, who taught Latin, and I learned Latin from her. But Janet Goldberg was journalism... there were some other teachers that I can't remember specifics.
AL: Did you have any Japanese American teachers?
RT: Yes, we did, our science teachers were Japanese. There were two, one in physics, one was chemistry.
AL: Do you recall their names?
RT: I wish I could.
AL: They're probably in the yearbook.
RT: Oh, yes, they would be in the yearbook, in the front few pages.
AL: Who was your favorite teacher?
RT: Well, I guess I didn't really play favorites. I liked Louis Frizzell because... he didn't teach me anything, I didn't take music or drama, but he was just there for everything, he was just a personality that was present and I thought he was great. And, of course, Clive Greenlee, the speech teacher, I respected him for his willingness to share his skills despite his disabilities. And Janet Goldberg was always a warm person. Oh, Janet Goldberg, once there was going to be a party, or sort of like a prom, what would pass for a prom, and of course I didn't have anything decent to wear. And on one of her leaves going out to L.A., she said, "I'll bring you a dress." So she went out and bought me this dress. [Laughs] It was a little wild for me, but I was grateful to have a new dress to wear.
AL: What were some of the extracurricular activities in the school?
RT: Well, I found that I... I was studying the trombone when I was in, back in, outside. And all of a sudden there was a man in our, I think he was either on Block 30 or something. He was an instrumental teacher, and he started teaching classes in music and formed a band. And I have a picture of that. But anybody who was interested in playing music, he brought up to the music hall up there by the, was it up by the hospital, Block 18 or something like that. That was one building they were using for music. And he would get us together and we would play. After all these years, a lot of my memories are fading, but I do remember that. I don't know where that instrument came from, but all of a sudden we had instruments. And Mr. Nakama was the teacher and director of that. Another, well, school activities were mostly athletics, volleyball, basketball, and we had a man on our block who liked to teach baseball and he let us play, we would play baseball. The firebreaks became our playgrounds, you know.
AL: You were pretty close to the big baseball field.
RT: Not too far, yeah. It was very easy to get to, that was very centrally located. Everything was close. [Laughs] In one mile square, everything was close.
AL: You said before that... in one year and out the other. Oh, you said that, on the phone we were talking, you played basketball. Was that a team for the school, or was it an outside team?
RT: No, it was just an intramural, within the schools, we just played. Partly for gym, mostly for gym classes and then we just did that for recreational purposes.
AL: Do you remember anything about a basketball game that was scheduled with Bishop High School?
RT: No, I don't, and I know what you're talking about, because I heard about that last reunion we had.
AL: There's actually a letter of apology from the student body president.
RT: Is that right?
AL: And I can... I'll bring that page tonight. I have it all marked up because it's in a manuscript, but I can at least let you read it. He's basically saying, "Our parents teach us about fairness and democracy, and they won't even let us to go play this game." And the kids basically begged the Parent-Teachers Association or the school board, whoever it was, to let them play. And they said, no, they didn't want any protests. I think the Big Pine game may have been before that, where Manzanar just trounced Big Pine, that was the football team.
RT: Is that right?
AL: So maybe Bishop didn't want to lose to the camp.
<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 18>
RT: Speaking of problems, I do remember the incident, although I did not see it firsthand, of the protests that went, a protest group that went towards the administration building, in which the military came out and stopped the protests, and two of the protesters were shot.
AL: What can you tell me about, why do you think that protest was happening? What were they protesting?
RT: Well, that's kind of a difficult thing, because I think there was a faction of people who were from a particular segment of the population who were, maybe they were just against being incarcerated. But they had a situation where they called people who cooperated with the government, in making it possible to have a smooth transition to allow the evacuation process to work, that they were called "dogs," in Japanese they called them inu. You've heard the term inu? All right. And there were, some of them were Kibeis, and they said these people were not trustworthy, or did not deserve our respect. And I think there was one person that was being targeted, and he was, I think the hospital had to protect him, and kept him from being exposed to this gang of guys who wanted to get at him, and they were rather violent people. But they also, I think that was the group that drew enough supporters and went down to protest this down at the administration building, and that's when things got ugly. And, you know, when people are cooped up in a camp, and they think it's unjust, they would buy into it, so it was mob psychology. And they started going down there, and when the military came and told them to stop, and I guess they were, they didn't think they were stopping, so they did open fire on them. So it was a bad situation and there were two people who were killed, I think, and that was the end of that. But I didn't have firsthand knowledge. I knew about it after it occurred, because I was living way in the corner of the camp, and it was very disturbing to hear about that happening.
AL: Jimmy Ito, the boy who was killed first, was only seventeen. So he would have been around your age. Do you remember him personally?
RT: [Shakes head].
AL: Did you know anybody who was involved?
RT: No. You know, to tell you the truth, I didn't know anybody who was involved. I think there were more people from the L.A., Terminal Island, people that... you know, the people from Terminal Island were really, had a difficult time. Because when the war started, they were the fishermen, and they were the people who had shortwave radios. And, of course, when December 7th, after it happened, those people were picked up, and I understand -- this is all secondhand knowledge to me -- that they just gathered those people up and took them to L.A. and confiscated all their fishing boats and everything. And, of course, the shortwave radios was a matter of safety for people at sea who were trying to communicate with each other in times of storms and sea conditions. So it was unfair to them, and they were treated, brutally treated by the government when they were taken into custody and then their families abandoned in the streets of Los Angeles as I understand. So there was a lot of injustice there, so maybe they had reason to feel strongly about the camp situation.
AL: Was your brother Katsuma involved in any of the Kibei groups?
RT: No, he really wasn't. He was sort of, he was much like my father, he was very stoic. Didn't get involved with them. And again, we were so outside of that community, because we didn't know anybody in the camp. We had no alliances with any, we didn't have friendships with people, and whatever friends we had, we made in camp. And he was very, he was very mature, and he never showed any ill feelings toward anybody.
AL: In the aftermath of the riot, a number of the camp operations shut down.
RT: I wasn't even aware of that.
AL: That's what I was going to ask, were you aware of... people have talked about that night, the mess hall gongs, that people beat the gongs all night. Stories where at one point in time, they were talking about the mess halls going on strike until they realized that people would... so were there any impacts to you as a result of the riot?
RT: No. I was just not aware of that. If it occurred, I was not close to the sources, I was not living in that part of the camp where that went on.
AL: One of the, probably the most famous crime in the camp was up here in Block 35 or 36. Do you know about the murder-suicide?
AL: Okay. There was a man who killed his wife and himself. They spoke at the reunion a couple years ago. The daughter's name is Sharon Kodama, I don't remember what her maiden name is. But that was, would have been a block right near you.
RT: Well, we would have been Block 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 was way up...
AL: Thirty-five and thirty-six are down by the highway because of the hospital, so it doesn't go all the way to the end. So it would have been adjacent to you.
RT: Oh, okay.
AL: But, I mean, it's... we don't know always know when everything... I was just curious if you knew anything about that.
RT: No. I'm kind of oblivious.
AL: I'm not trying to do your interview, I'm just curious...
RT: Well, I'm learning things from you. [Laughs]
<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 19>
AL: What was unique about Block 30? Was that the Florin and Elk Grove?
RT: Florin, Elk Grove group, uh-huh. They were country people, and I have a good friend, a lifelong friend who was in that block, and I still see her. She was the widow of Roy Takeno.
AL: So, yeah, you were talking about that the other day. She would have a been a little bit older than you, right?
RT: Yes. When I was getting ready to leave camp... no, it was in May of 1944 that she and Roy were married in camp, and again, it was an arranged marriage. And Roy being a journalist, and was well-educated, he was about, close to ten years older than she. So she was about twenty-two, or twenty-one or twenty-two. And they were married in camp and I remember that she looked beautiful.
AL: She still does.
RT: Oh, yes, she had a beautiful, white wedding gown and everything. And she and Roy moved to Denver. A month later, I was out of camp, and I came to Denver, and so she and Roy, I saw her in Denver shortly afterwards and we stayed in touch all these years.
AL: Do you know her brother is here?
RT: Yes, I was reading that list and I saw that George, Sei, that's what his Japanese name is, Sei, S-E-I, Sei. And he's younger, and Leo, I think, was maybe a year younger, or possibly in my class. Do you know if Leo was a '44 graduate or '45? Well, but anyhow, I saw on the list that they're both going to be here. I hadn't seen Leo at all.
AL: Yeah, I've only met George. Roy was the editor of the Free Press. Did you know him very well?
AL: Roy, her husband Roy? During the camp years, did you know him well?
RT: I didn't know him. He was just a name, and I think he was highly respected because he was the editor of the Free Press, so he, you know, had a good reputation.
AL: Did anyone consider him an inu?
AL: Did anyone consider him an inu for...
RT: No, no. I don't think so. His job was to go around and collect news, and he was up around the hospital with everything. So Sumi tells me about their so-called courtship, when someone recommended that she marry him, I mean, the go-between recommended... she wanted to go to a nursing school, and had, I think she had gotten in touch with Ohio Wesleyan or one of the schools in the Midwest to go to school as a nursing student. And when she told her father that, he said, "No, we have other plans for you." So then he told her that she was being considered to be the wife of Roy Takeno, and she was quite surprised. She was sort of a country girl, too, so she knew his reputation. So when they met, and she felt like she couldn't say no, she decided, yes, she gave up her nursing career and marry Roy, and she did and came out to Colorado and spent the rest of her life there.
AL: Did she work at the hospital?
RT: She may have worked at the hospital, I think, as a nurse aide.
AL: You said that your sister had worked at the hospital.
RT: My sister worked at the hospital. My husband's sisters, two of them, worked at the hospital. So that was where they got to know each other.
AL: Did your sister work at the hospital during the riot? Was she working there in '42?
RT: I think she was. No, was it '42 was the riot? She must have been, I don't know. Yeah, because she was there. And she was, I'd have to question her about it to find out.
AL: Well, you know, if she or your brother or anybody are ever willing to talk -- you know, we don't have to do interviews only here, we can do interviews in L.A., because we're always trying to get, even from the same family, people have different perspectives and stuff. So if she's ever willing to talk -- this is my little commercial.
RT: She lives in La Feria, Texas, that's a little ways away.
AL: Maybe we can talk to her on the phone. So she worked at the hospital. What about other people in your family? Did your parents work in camp, your brother?
RT: Yes, my brother Henry, who was a diesel mechanic, worked as a, worked on the farm equipment, keeping the motors running. In fact, in Ansel Adams' book, he is shown taking care of, tinkering with the motor, and it has a full facial picture of him in the book. Let's see. My other brother, Katsuma was working out in the fields, and my father was also allowed to work out in the fields. So they worked out in the farm.
AL: Do you know how much money they made?
RT: I think... I shouldn't say. Probably sixteen dollars a month, that was the experienced workers. Professionals were nineteen or something like that.
AL: Did your mom work?
RT: No, she never worked.
AL: How did she spend her time?
RT: I guess enjoying her leisure. [Laughs] No, I can't remember exactly much what she did, just socialized with the other women, did the laundry, and she had her sewing machine so she could sew, and that kind of thing, just household duties.
AL: How did she do the laundry?
RT: There was one building in the middle of the block that was for laundry facilities, and it was all hand laundry, of course, the washtubs. And I'll never forget my father, he makes an impression on me. The Japanese men are so separated in their work, I mean, they don't do "women's work." But my father, because he had worked in the laundry when as a young man, he would go in and help women do their laundry, because they were scrubbing sheets and all that sort of thing. And I just remember one incident where he was in there, and he was the only male in there, and he was going around asking the women if they would like to have their sheets wrung out, because he had big strong hands and everything. [Laughs] And I thought, hey, how come he's the only guy here doing that? None of the other men are doing that. They were playing games like go, the go game and different... you know about the go games?
<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 20>
AL: -- Lynch with Rose Tanaka on September, excuse me, August 9th, 2001. This is tape three of an oral history with Rose. And you were talking about how people spent their leisure time and the game of go.
RT: Well, many of the older men liked to play the game of go, which is a board game much like, well, looks like checkers, but you use black and white discs, and it's a matter of turning them over. But it's a very intriguing game, and demanding, and so they liked to play go competitions. But speaking of what older people did, many of them were very artistic, and I remember that they would go out and find pieces of scrap wood, mostly twigs or pieces of root and twisted trees, and they would polish them off. This gave them a pastime, so they could use their time productively. And they would scrape off all the outer bark and polish them up, and made these very nice, maybe they would be table legs or furnishings for the house. And it was something that men could do. Women did things like crocheting and paper flower making and that kind of thing, but men also found ways to pass their time productively, especially the older people who had no work to do. And having been gardeners and that kind of thing, they appreciated the form that, natural forms of plants and such.
AL: I'm sorry.
RT: Yeah, go ahead.
AL: I'm sorry. Did your father or mother do any sort of arts, crafts, things like that?
RT: No. My father wasn't a crafty person as such, but he liked to do things like wring people's clothes out. [Laughs] Well, I can't really remember much about what he did with his free time.
AL: See, now people pay big money to go to the gym to build muscles, and he was just probably building, exercising his muscles.
RT: Well, he worked hard on the farm there.
AL: What was your mess hall like in Block 30?
RT: Well, it was just a mess hall. I felt that it was a little sad that we had to eat in a mess hall because it sort of broke down the family relationships. The young people all gathered at their own table, the teenagers and other kids went to eat together. So some parts of the mess hall were for the older, the grandparents and the mothers with the babies and that kind of thing. So the siblings were always off seeking their own friendships, and so it really sort of broke up the family structure. But no, it was all right. I mean, what can you say about a mess hall where we all go and troop in and eat forgettable meals.
AL: Well, some mess halls had actual people who had been cooks. And then other mess halls had people who had been truck mechanics.
RT: Well, that's true. And you could tell that, which mess halls were the best, because we had young teenagers that checked out all the mess halls. And they would roam the camp and find the best mess hall, and they would go and eat there. They would find the ones that they liked, and so they had their choice. It's like picking out the best restaurant.
AL: Until they came up with the little tickets that said you had to stay in the block. Did... who would you eat your meals with?
RT: Well, with my family.
AL: So your family stayed together at mealtime? And that would not be typical then from what...
RT: Well, yes, because I did form friendships with other people, the girls in my block. And as I recall, we would go to eat together and we were all at the same table. So it was a group of families that ate together.
<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 21>
AL: What was the latrine experience like?
RT: Oh, yes, when you have all your privacy taken away, and the shower room was one large room with showerheads protruding from all four walls, and no partitions, and you just went in there and took your clothes off and showered. And so people liked to go at odd hours so that they would try to maintain their privacy. And the same in the toilet areas when I first went there, we had no partitions between the toilets, and sometimes people would hold up a towel or something between. But you just didn't have any privacy. And quite a while later, then people started building partitions between the toilets, but the showers were never partitioned off.
AL: Were there lines for the latrines, or was it pretty much you could just go in whenever you wanted to?
RT: No, you can go whenever. There was no, there was no curfew or anything like that, so you could just go in the middle of the night or whenever.
AL: Right, but the, like, when there were a lot of people in the block, was there, was the facility big enough to accommodate everybody when they needed it?
RT: Yes. I guess people just had to schedule themselves. [Laughs]
AL: You were talking about going at night. I know a couple of people have recollected that going out of their barracks at night, search light following them, which could have been because they were trying to help light their way, could have also been for security. Do you remember the searchlights at night?
RT: No. I didn't go out at night.
AL: Did you ever see them outside the windows of your barrack, though?
RT: I don't recall that at all.
AL: Interesting. Yeah, that's...
RT: That's interesting if it happened.
AL: Yeah, I can't imagine being a teenager and having such a lack of privacy. What were the inside... we don't have any photographs, well, we have one photograph of a latrine that Archie Miyatake took of the men's latrine in Block 20, and it's just got the row of toilets. We're hoping at some point to reconstruct a couple of latrines at Manzanar, and I was just wondering if you could sort of visually walk us through, like when you went through the door, what would you see to your right, what was ahead and what was... do you remember, do you recall what it was like on the inside at all?
RT: Oh, it's just a barracks with latrines, I mean, toilets facing one way, and then the two rows of toilets, each facing the other direction, and there was nothing different, and no partitions. That was the thing that struck me the most, no partitions.
AL: Why did they, what did they put partitions in the ladies' later, but not the men's, do you know?
RT: I don't know. I think probably the ladies probably said, "Enough of this." I think that probably the women were probably constructing their own sheets, or using sheets or blankets or something, or cardboard, whatever. But I guess if you got to go, you got to go.
AL: What did those partitions look like?
RT: I don't remember much.
AL: Were they plywood?
RT: I don't really remember seeing many partitions, even in our block.
AL: Did the partitions have doors, or just open? Do you remember? Not remember? You know what? Your memory is incredible. And if someone asked me about a restroom I used yesterday, I probably couldn't remember it, so that's fine. What about in your barracks apartment, the furnishings? You said that your mom wasn't able to bring her bed and her sewing machine. What was the inside of your barracks like when you first got there, what was it like later on in the war?
RT: Well, the only thing I remember when we walked into that room was to see the stove in the middle, that was for warmth. And when our furniture arrived, of course, up until then we just slept on cots. And there were four of us, so one, two... let's see, four of us. My sister and me, and my two brothers, and we constructed lines or wires to hold up sheets to partition us off. And then the other side of the room, my mother managed to put up some sort of a room that had walls that were made from blankets or sheets or some material. And I visualized that she got a double bed in there, and nobody else had a double bed because my brother, when they moved the truck of furnishings, she got her bed there. So we didn't get invited into other people's rooms, so I had nothing to compare it with. But I can't say much else except I think we constructed some rudimentary tables or that kind of thing, benches to sit on.
AL: Did you spend much time in your bedroom?
AL: In your barracks apartment? Did you spend much time there?
RT: No, we spent very little time. We spent most of our time outside. Of course, going to school, I was gone all day, and I did work on the sewing machine sometimes, and sewing, and invited friends in if they had something they wanted to sew. But I remember, speaking of the old stove, my mother missed having some kinds of foods, so she would get some packaged flour or something like that and she would make stuff on the heating unit, and made some kind of biscuits or something.
AL: How would she do that? Just set it on top?
RT: Yeah, set it on top with a cover on, because she had, again, because she was able to bring some kitchen utensils. She had a pot that she could bake something on.
AL: Like a dutch oven?
RT: No, it was just like a skillet with a cover on it. Set it on top, so we got to eat biscuits once in a while.
<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 22>
AL: You were the only one in your family who was going to school at the time, right? Your sister had already graduated?
RT: No. She had, she was in a nursing school at the University of Cal, and her schooling was interrupted, and she came to camp when we all did, of course. And then sometime before too long, the National Student Relocation Council, I believe, helped her go to Colorado Springs to Seton School of Nursing so she could continue with her nursing. And so she left early. And then Henry left, Henry and Katsuma left earlier to go to Ordway where they were able to get some money from the property.
AL: And that's in Colorado?
RT: In Colorado, yes. Ordway is in the southeast part of Colorado, very dry and arid area.
AL: And I know you also were part of the National Student Relocation Council, which I do want to talk to you about. Before we get to that, though, I was going to ask you a little bit about, talked about the teachers, and the other day we were talking on the phone about... I was asking you why is it that I always hear so much of the class of '44? Why is class of '44 so active? You don't hear much about '43 and '45, and you explained that. So could you tell us again why... what was it that made class of '44 special?
RT: Well, I think the class... let's go back to class of '43. The class of '43 had already been pretty much in session. I mean, they were... yes, they were still in a organizational stage, the school was in the organizational stage. And for some reason, there were students who were there for just a half a year, and the others for the other half of the year. I know my husband's class was, he was through mid-year, they called him winter graduates and summer graduates, and so they were sort of separated that way. But by the time our class came into being, we were all on the same level. So instead of being split -- because I noticed last night speaking to people, the class of '43, they didn't know Floyd at all. And I realized that they were just very separated because of the gap between the two semester groups. But our group now started in the fall and continued together as one unit through the year, and that's the way it happened for the other students afterwards, the class of '43. I think we were the only class that really had a full year and had stuck together and worked together. We had this knowledge that we were somehow different in history of the camp, and that we had a unique situation. I remember when I was a junior, in my junior year I heard about the class of '43, but not a whole lot for some reason. I think because of the two separate groups. But we were all one group, and we worked together, and for some reason the people in our group felt that we had a place in history, I'd say.
And when we wrote, and the big thing was writing the yearbook, and Janet Goldberg helped us with that. But the journalist class really felt like they had to do a good job with presenting what the camp stood for. It was not just our class, but it was about the whole camp. And then we also had the skills of the photographer Miyatake, and we could have pictures, and they went around and took pictures intentionally of events in the camp to put into the yearbook. It wasn't like a, just what happened on a high school, any high school campus, but they wanted to show the whole camp situation. And in the yearbook they wanted to present what the camp was all about as a whole community and not just a student population. So I think... and then, of course, they got the principal and all to write something about the camp in the yearbook. So it was not just a 1944 yearbook, it was a 1944 Manzanar book, and it was called Our World, because that was really our world.
AL: Were you on the yearbook staff?
RT: I didn't have that much to do with it, but I did take journalism. Yeah, I guess I was on the staff, but I don't recall that I had much of a hand in it. But there were other people who were very involved in it.
AL: Do you know how that yearbook was distributed? Did people buy it or was it given out for free? Did the co-op publish it?
RT: No, they just gave it out to everybody. I don't know where the resources came from, but everybody had a yearbook. And anybody in camp, I know that my sister-in-law had one, and she wasn't even in high school. So I think anybody in camp who wanted one could have one.
AL: Ralph Lazo was in your class. Did you know him?
RT: Oh, yes.
AL: What could you tell us about Ralph?
RT: We called him "Rafu." We made a Japanese name out of Ralph, called him "Rafu." [Laughs]
AL: Why was he there?
RT: Well, Ralph's, all of his buddies were Niseis in Los Angeles. And he was, everything he did was with them. And when they got the order to leave and he realized he was losing all of his very close friends, he went, and I think he told his family ahead of time, but when he went and got on that train or bus, he just went over and got on the bus and went with him and we came to camp. He wasn't going to let his best friends disappear from his life, and so he came. And he was an amazing person, very outgoing and engaged, and he was a real leader.
AL: And did you know him... how long did it take before you got to know him? Did everybody in the camp know about it?
RT: Well, everybody got to know Ralph. He was just a very friendly person, and he was very... just a very warm person and outgoing.
AL: Where did he live?
RT: I think he must have lived in a, what they call bachelor's quarters. Because they had family quarters and then they had bachelor's quarters for unmarried men.
AL: Do you know why there were so many bachelors in Manzanar?
RT: [Laughs] I don't know.
AL: Yeah, 'cause there was a whole bachelor block.
RT: Oh, is that right? I never knew about that.
<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 23>
AL: What about the "loyalty questionnaire"?
AL: The "loyalty questionnaire." Could you explain to us what that was and how it impacted your family, any discussions or observations you had?
RT: Well, my own personal feeling was that outside of it being an insult to be forced to ask, answer those questions, that it was just to be able to continue our lives. You had to answer in a way that allowed you to do so. And I respect the people who questioned its legitimacy, but I'm more of a practical person, I guess. And I felt like while it insulted you by asking you a question that assumed that you had loyalties to the emperor, that was the worst part of it. It was bad for the Isseis who had no country if they gave up their association after the way they were treated here and not allowed to become citizens here. And then they were asked to give up their loyalty to the emperor of Japan, or their government of Japan. And so if you put your feet in their shoes, then you could see how difficult it was for them. And I know of people who did say they would repatriate to Japan if they had to, and it was strictly because of the way they were treated here. It wasn't because they had loyalties, but they felt like that was the only alternative. Now for the Niseis, it was an insult to be asked if you would give up your allegiance, or forswear allegiance to Japan or whatever way it was worded, because it assumed that you had allegiance to Japan and that why would we have allegiance to Japan to begin with. It was the wording that bothered me. But I figured for practical purposes, this was my country and this is where I wanted to stay. And we were all questioned individually, you know, we were interviewed by a person, and I happened to know the person who... I mean, I was acquainted with her. She lived in our block, but she lived in a community, her background was living in a Japanese community. And I think she did the wrong thing when she showed a reaction to my answers when I said I would forswear allegiance, yes, I would forswear allegiance and I would fight for this country. And she looked at me and she said, "You would?" [Laughs] And I thought, well, that was not very impartial on her part to say that, like, "Why would you do that?" It's like telling me I made the wrong answer.
AL: Was she Japanese American?
RT: She was a Nisei like me, and that was a mistake to have, perhaps, but it was just a matter of allowing people to... she was a questioner, she had a job.
AL: I know a number of, like, teachers and administrators were questioners. I guess I didn't realize that other Nisei were questioners.
RT: Yes, this was somebody I knew that asked me that, and she expected me to be loyal to the Japanese government or something, I don't know, but I just didn't like the way she reacted to my "yes" answer.
AL: Do you recall, do you know how your parents answered?
RT: Well, they answered the right way, so that they were practical people. They just... my father was very practical and said, well, we have to answer it the way we want us to so we could stay in this country. The people who lived in the next unit to ours was a father, and he was widowed. And his oldest daughter was over twenty-one, his older son was over twenty-one, and they had three younger children. So Jeanette, the oldest daughter, was the surrogate mother. She took care of the younger children. The father of that family was so unhappy about it, he answered "no," and he forced his two Nisei children to say "no," and they got sent to Japan. Little story behind this. My brother Henry was friendly with, had made friends with Jeanette, I mean, they were just, they weren't in an intimate relationship or anything like that, they were just friends. But when that family got sent to Japan and Henry and Jeanette kept up their correspondence and decided they liked each other and loved each other enough that they would want to get married at some point, well, Jeanette had already answered "no" and had gone because of her father forcing her. He said, "You have to go with us." The younger kids were okay because they were under the ages of seventeen and younger, were allowed to keep their citizenship, but they had to go where their parents went. And so that became a problem, because after Henry got out of the service, he wanted to, he and Jeanette wanted to marry. He had to hire an attorney, and was able to negotiate with her, and, of course, they went through the Hiroshima bombing, because their land was in Hiroshima, and it was a terrible life. And her father realized what he had done to this family in making them go back to Japan, to a devastated country, and what he had done to them was on his conscience. And he said, "Well, do whatever you want to do," and he released her from her commitment to serving, taking care of the children, the younger children. And so Henry was able, through a lot of negotiation, and probably got a congressman to help or something like that, and so she was able to reverse her renouncement and then come to the United States and they were married.
AL: So she was actually a renunciant.
RT: Yes. She was over twenty-one, and so her father told her she had to renounce her American citizenship and go back with them. Because she had the duty of being the caregiver to the younger three children, and he was that much of a patriarch that he was the boss, and you didn't go against your father's wishes.
AL: There were a lot of renunciants, there was like five thousand people.
RT: There must have been. Well, anyhow, it happened.
AL: So they were able to marry?
RT: They were able to marry.
AL: Is she still living?
RT: No, both of them are gone. They married, lived in Texas, raised three boys. They had four children, but three of them survived. It was a difficult situation, but in the end it was good because she was able to come back to the United States. She didn't want to leave, but she had to.
AL: Do you think that was common for people who went to Tule Lake, that they didn't really want to go?
RT: Well, I think they had regrets, but it was what their parents decided.
AL: What was the camp like after those 2,200 people went to Tule Lake? Did it change the character of the camp?
RT: One of my best friends in that camp that I'd bonded with, I remember her on the truck and we were holding hands until the truck pulled away and we let go. And then when she got to Tule Lake, her family decided that wasn't the right thing and they reversed their decision, and they were able to stay. So they had one last chance to reverse their decision. So a lot of the people who went to Tule Lake were able to reverse their decisions. They realized what they had given up, what they were giving up, and changed their attitudes. And the parents decided what they were doing to their children was a large injustice to them.
AL: Did you keep in touch with her after she went to Tule Lake?
RT: For a few years. She married and had children, but eventually our lives, you know, we just couldn't keep up with each other.
AL: Do you know what her life was like at Tule Lake as far as how it would be different than Manzanar?
RT: It was probably similar to Manzanar, had she gone to, had she stayed there, she would have ended up going to Japan. Because she didn't, I think she was glad she was able to change her decision.
<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 24>
AL: So your brother Tom is in the 442nd while you guys were in camp, right? What kind of correspondence did you have with him? Did you know where he was, what he was doing?
RT: I knew very little. We felt so isolated. That's the one thing about camp, because the mail service was bad and all that, it was just like we were cut off from the outside.
AL: Did you get any correspondence from him at all? Did your parents get correspondence from him?
RT: You know, I don't remember that we got much correspondence from anybody. Sort of like a big blank.
AL: Do you know if your parents followed any of the activities of the 442nd, or were they...
RT: If they did, they didn't say very much.
AL: Did you know Floyd's family at the time that his brother John was killed?
RT: I must have known him, yes. I remember I knew Floyd, he had been in Denver, I knew his family. And word got in, I think it was in January 1945 that news came, and I remember his mother and his father. Yes, his father was still living, and he passed away right afterwards. But I remember his sister Carol and the mother, they went to Arlington Cemetery where he was buried. Yes, and Floyd was already back, I guess he was just being sent to the European front, because he was a later inductee into the army, and he went after John was killed, actually, to Europe. I read about it in his notes there.
AL: Did he volunteer, or was he drafted?
RT: He was drafted.
AL: So could you give us a little bit of background about Floyd? I know that some will be in his writeup, but as far as when and where he was born, where he grew up, any sort of sketch of his life?
RT: Yes, well, he was born in Colusa, California, and then his family went down to Los Angeles a few years before the evacuation, and were living down there. But he grew up in the farm country. And then, but that's about all I can tell you.
AL: And he was class of '43 in Manzanar?
RT: Class of '43, yes. I think he had done, he had spent one semester before he got to Manzanar or something. I don't know, it's getting very hazy here.
AL: Do you know if he worked at the camp at all?
RT: Yes. Actually, he actually worked at the hospital, he was an orderly at the hospital.
AL: Do you know, did he work there during the riot?
RT: If he did, he didn't talk about it much.
AL: Because there was actually a whole group, there were several hundred people that gathered up there during the riot. So some people have recalled that if they were working there that night.
<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 25>
AL: So you guys, class of '44, graduated in the auditorium.
RT: That's right, it's like they built that place for us. [Laughs]
AL: That was one of the first events there, I think. Sam Ono told me that you had a senior dinner with rabbit? Could you tell me about what it was like graduating, your senior dinner, the graduation ceremony? Where did you get the caps and gowns?
RT: I don't know, these things just sort of seemed to appear out of nowhere. I wasn't in on the arrangements of it. But it was just sort of amazing that all those things happened. And when I look back on it, I think about, as deprived as we were, somebody cared enough to take care of these details. And I always talk about it in the same terms, through the kindness of strangers.
AL: Do you remember the rabbit dinner?
RT: The rabbit dinner? What is that about?
AL: It was the class dinner for the class of 1944. Several people have talked about that they had rabbit, and Sam said he couldn't eat his, because he always had pet rabbits as a kid.
RT: Okay. You know, you have me confused because there was a classmate who called himself Rabbit. [Laughs] And when you said "rabbit dinner," I thought, "Well, what did Rabbit have to do with this?" He had a nickname of Rabbit.
AL: Did you have a class dinner, though, were you part of that?
RT: I don't think I was there, no. I wasn't included.
AL: What can you tell us about this room where you were the valedictorian. You don't think you were?
RT: I think I would have known if I were. [Laughs]
AL: Another question I meant to ask a little bit earlier, did you continue going to church in camp?
RT: I did for... well, I can't remember. Yes, I used to go to church in camp.
AL: Which one did you attend, do you know?
RT: I don't know, it was a Christian church. There's a picture of this man standing in front of the sign there, and I remember him as a minister. I didn't take religion that seriously. [Laughs]
AL: Did you keep in touch with Mrs. Gannon?
AL: Did you ever hear from Captain Williams in camp? You said he came and visited you guys after the war.
RT: Well, I think we must have kept in touch, but no, we kind of lost touch with everybody while we were in camp.
<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 26>
AL: So after you graduated, you were part of the Nisei Student Relocation project. Could you... for someone who doesn't know what that was, could you explain how it worked?
RT: Well, I discovered this later, that... all I know is the first I knew of it was that as a result of that project, I received word the week I graduated that I had a train ticket to Denver, Colorado. That first year at the University of Denver, which I didn't think even existed at the time, I had no knowledge of it, and I didn't even know if I had a college in view. And they said I had a train ticket and my first year of college paid for. And that was through the Presbyterian church. Now, the Presbyterian church is the one that Mrs. Gannon had converted me to. But I had not stayed in touch with them, and I don't know whether that had anything to do with the... but the Presbyterian church, the Nisei Student Relocation Council was made up of various churches, colleges, I think some civil rights organizations, most prominent were the Quakers, and they were the ones who really did a lot of the work that helped our population. And they even, they realized that up to four thousand students were graduating from the ten camps who had no chance of continuing or starting their college education. And they got busy in different communities, and it turned out, how was I going to live in Denver even if I got there? Well, they said they had a place for me to live. A family was willing to take me in as mother's helper, housekeeper, and give me room and board. So I had my tuition paid... well, it was almost a full year's tuition. I tell some students that and they are surprised. I said, "Do you know to go to the University of Denver, you needed less than two hundred dollars for a year's tuition?" And the church sent $175 dollars to the office at the university, and we found that it was going to be a 185 or under 190 dollars was the total fee. It was $62.50 per quarter, is what it was. And so we scraped up enough extra money to pay for the, what remained, and then I had my room and board, so I had food, and the place I was staying was easy traveling distance by bus or walking to the university.
AL: How did you get selected for that program. I mean, was it something you applied for, did they come to you?
RT: It was sort of a mystery to me how I've always wanted to go to college, but I didn't think it was really a possibility. But I had, again, the advisers, the high school advisers.
AL: Do you remember their names?
RT: I don't know who they were, actually. Maybe it was Janet Goldberg, was an adviser. I can't even remember who the adviser was, but she may have been the person who did that kind of arrangement.
AL: I've always been curious whether it was scholarship-based, like you had to have a certain GPA in order to be part of it, or if they would take anybody who wanted to go.
RT: Well, I think our advisers knew if we wanted to go. I remember looking at brochures from different colleges and sort of daydreaming about where I would go. But it was never a possibility as far as I was concerned. And so when they said Denver University, I said, "What's that?" It's not one that I'd even thought about. I'd thought about some eastern colleges, but I was willing to accept whatever I could get.
AL: Do you think you would have gone to college had you not been in camp?
RT: Well, if I had not been in camp, the war hadn't occurred, I was thinking of going to, like, University of California because my sister was there.
AL: And you said your sister was able to go out and continue her education? She went out early?
RT: Yeah, she left early. And again, I don't know what the procedure, the mechanics were of her, but she was allowed to go down to the school of nursing in Colorado Springs.
AL: And your family, your parents left at the same time as you, didn't they?
RT: Yes. And I don't understand how it all occurred, but I guess they knew that I was seventeen, I needed to go out, and my parents also, for some reason, were included in the travel arrangements, and they were able to come to Denver, go to Denver with me, and then go on down to Ordway where my brothers, my two brothers had already settled.
AL: Okay, so they weren't in Denver, but they just traveled...
RT: No, they had gone, yeah. They came to Denver, they went and stopped over at the place, the residence where I was going to stay, it was a doctor and his wife, and had two small children, and met my benefactors, and then they went down to live with my brothers.
AL: Did the Nisei Student Relocation Council have... I mean, I know they got your room and board, but did they have mentors set up or any kind of a social network, or were you just, you show up and go to school?
RT: I was on my own. I guess they assumed that all I needed was a place to stay and a college to be enrolled in, and the rest was up to me.
<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 27>
AL: What was it like to leave Manzanar, like the day you left?
RT: Well, it was sort of a celebration because several of the people in my class were also leaving. And so I wasn't the only one who benefited from this, so there were a number of people from my class who left.
AL: And did you go... how did you get to Denver?
RT: Well, there was a bus that took me to Reno, and in Reno the train brought me here to Denver. I keep saying "here" like I was in Denver. [Laughs]
AL: We can pretend. All the hotels look alike. So how did you start... I mean, this is, you came to Manzanar without any friends, had to start anew there, you go to Denver, start anew there. You had mentioned on the phone that Floyd's family had also helped you -- this is before you married him -- helped you. How did you connect with them in Denver?
RT: Well, Floyd's family was already living in Denver. His mother, but then his father passed on, so his mother and his two sisters. And because they were friends with my sister, the two sisters worked at the hospital in Manzanar, were good friends with my sister, and when I got to Denver, they knew that I was a hungry person. [Laughs] You don't have any money, you know... I told people I went to all the meetings because they always have refreshments at the meetings. [Laughs]
AL: What were his sisters' names that worked at the hospital?
RT: It was Carol and then there was Ruth. Ruth was older, and there's quite a story about Ruth, too. I took her material to the Japanese American National Museum, because she never married. And she went into the... became a U.S. Army nurse. She went to the same nursing school as my sister in Colorado Springs, and then she became a nurse, she worked... she became a polio nurse, and then she was a bit older, and she was right on the edge of the age limit, but she did get in and she became an army nurse. And they wanted her because polio epidemic was on, and her skills were very important, and she worked all over. She worked twenty years for the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, and she retired as a lieutenant colonel, and she was a very accomplished nurse.
AL: Is she still living?
RT: Oh, no, she died four years ago. She was up in her nineties.
AL: And her name is Ruth Tanaka?
RT: Ruth A. Tanaka, yes.
AL: So was she an army nurse during the war?
RT: Not during World War II, no. She went to the Korean War, she was stationed in Korea for a while. And then she served in Tokyo army hospital, she served in Frankfurt, Germany, so she had a wide overseas experience as an army nurse, received many citations.
AL: And you said your brother Henry also went into the military.
RT: Yes, just for a short while. So he didn't have a long history with them.
AL: Did Tom get out before the end of the war or did he stay in the 442nd?
RT: I think he... I don't remember. I think he must have finished out his term with them. Yeah, he became quite skilled in electronics, and was working in a company that... in the East Coast, in Newark, New Jersey, I believe, he had a career. And he worked actually, it turns out -- and I didn't know this, my family never talked about things much. My mother once mentioned that he worked on the Mercury capsule that was the first space capsule that went out.
AL: You had mentioned the other day -- and I'm sorry this is kind of random tidbits, but you had mentioned the other day that your mother had a nervous breakdown.
RT: Oh, yes. Well, coming out after she... we got back to Denver, and my mother was pretty high-strung anyhow, but she had a, pretty much a total nervous breakdown after they moved to Ordway. And I know that one quarter I stopped going to school and went down to help her. Then after that my sister who had finished her nurse's training went down and helped her out. But she recovered fairly well, but she was never the same person again. But having experienced the camp life and all the stresses, it was too much for her.
AL: So you think it was directly attributable?
RT: Oh, yes.
AL: When did your folks pass away?
RT: Oh, my...
AL: I mean a decade, sixties, seventies...
RT: Early '80s, late '80s and early '90s. My father was ninety-four, and then about three years later my mother passed away.
<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 28>
AL: So tell me about how you met and connected with Floyd. I know you were eating with his family...
RT: Oh. Well, he came back in the, his service, and he became a student at the University of Denver, and they started a degree in architecture and city planning at the university. And then I had known him... I graduated in 1948, and he started the university I think in 1947 or so. And he graduated in '51, but in the interim, we met, married, and he lived on the GI Bill and received a stipend, so it was possible to support me. So in 1951, his first job was to go down to Colorado Springs as a planning engineer for the city. And by them we had two children, third one in Colorado Springs, so four children all together.
AL: Did he talk at all about his experience in 442nd?
RT: He was a very quiet person, and he did not relate very much. I found out more by reading his papers. But he did say that he was inspired to go into architecture because at the end of the war, he was in Italy, and to spend the rest of his commitment to the army, he was in Florence, Italy, and they had classes and activities for the GIs who were there, and he was very much inspired by the architecture of, the Italian architecture in Florence and the art. And so I think that led to his making a decision when he came back and went to school on the GI Bill, that he would become an architect. But he went into city planning as well.
AL: Did he ever talk much about the loss of his brother?
RT: Well, I think it was a loss to everyone in his family, but no, he didn't have much to say. I mean, it was just, when you have people in the army, you know that they are exposed to danger, and if they die, that's okay. John was awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross, and so he died a hero in some ways. And so he was proud of him, and as a result, he wanted to work... he designed a monument which exists in Denver at the Fairmount Cemetery. The Nisei Veterans group or the American Legion there started these annual Memorial Day services at the Fairmount Cemetery at that monument that he designed every year.
<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 29>
AL: What did you study in college, and did you have a career after college? Besides raising kids, which is a career.
RT: Didn't accomplish very much. I studied social studies, and I wanted to become a social worker. But after I married and had children, well, I did work a very short time for the Bureau of Public Welfare in Denver, and then I worked for the YWCA as a Y Teen counselor. But then after I had children and was busy raising the children who came in succession, and when they reached school age, I decided to go into teaching. SO I went to the University of Colorado Denver Center and got my teaching certificate. And so I taught in the Denver Public Schools for about twenty-five years.
AL: What did you teach?
RT: Oh, I taught first and second grade, I taught Head Start for a while, and then my last assignment was with the bilingual education class with first graders. And again, it was something I had wanted to do. I took a break and studied teaching English as a second language, and then I decided, since Denver was a segregated -- not officially segregated -- but they had a segregated population and they were trying to assimilate with children. And I worked in the lower downtown area, and they had a plan for bringing children in from the south part of town, paired it with another school and brought these two populations together in hopes of trying to integrate the populations in Denver. And so the school was at was called Del Pueblo, "of the people." And so that was the school that brought the children in. The older children, the fourth through sixth graders were then bussed out. They bussed in the lower group, the lower ages to our school, so we had an integrated school, and we had a lot of Hispanic children, a lot of immigrant Hispanics there. So there was a need for bilingual education.
AL: So for your own family, how many children do you have and what are their names? You should know that one. [Laughs]
RT: Yeah, I think I can answer that. I have four children, the oldest one is Danny, and he is currently living in New Zealand. He majored in art at the University of Colorado. My daughter, the only daughter I have, is a public policy person, she works for Peter G. Peterson Foundation in New York City. My third child is a son, the father of Anda, and he's legal counsel at Iowa State University. And then eleven years later, another baby came along, and he is Ken. And Ken is a computer programmer, and he's the only one that lives in Colorado close by. He has two children. So altogether, though, I do have seven grandchildren.
AL: And you said that you had had a family reunion, or a group went back to Manzanar in 2006, what was that like to go back there?
RT: Oh, yes. I invited all of... well, many years ago I invited Breckenridge, Colorado, and that was both the Tanaka and the Hanawa reunion, and invited both sides of the family. It got to be such a... well, I had hoped that somebody would take it up and do it again but they didn't, so I decided this time I would have just the Hanawa reunion, I mean, the Tanaka reunion, sorry. The Tanaka reunion, so that meant all of my children and we went to Santa Barbara, where Floyd's sister lives, and we had our reunion there. And it was at that time that Carol wanted to go back and see Manzanar, and Anda and Kai, her brother, and Paul and Peggy, their parents, and we drove up to Manzanar so they could see Manzanar.
AL: What was it like for you to see it again?
RT: Well, it was very different to see nothing there except for the visitor's center. You call it the visitor's center? Okay. And, of course, the monument by where the hospital was. So we just wandered through there and brought back a lot of memories of what life was like there.
<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.
<Begin Segment 30>
AL: This is Alisa Lynch with Rose Tanaka, tape four of an oral history interview on August 9, 2011. We're talking about your career and your kids. And I know that you have done some educational talks, shared your story with young people today, and that's also what we try to do at Manzanar. And so I'm curious, from your perspective, when we think of Manzanar ten years from now, fifty years from now... you know, the National Parks, Yellowstone was created in 1872. I mean, Manzanar will be around for a long, long time, long after all of us. And so these interviews, I always like to ask people, what would you want people to know? If they didn't know you, any of the Nisei, what do you think it's most important that people know about Manzanar and the impact it had on your life and your community?
RT: Well, Manzanar taught me a lot; it was a great learning experience. I know that it is looked upon as a huge injustice on a large population of people that the evacuation occurred, and that they relocated... in a sense, it was targeting one ethnic group of people. But I've come to the conclusion, after many, many years, that we must learn from our history, and we must learn that history can teach us how to care for one another. I think back to the gift of how I got out of Manzanar, and I think about all the people who have helped me in my life, and how I tried to impress on my children to do public service. And this world has to care for each other, and I'm interested in world affairs, we worked through the... I think about what happened and then I compare it to what happened to the Civil War, I think about what happened to the Native Americans who were here in this country before the European population came, what we do to each other, and I see that it is still continuing. But I see the corrections that take place also. I think about people who have worked on correcting injustice, whether it was by marching with the Martin Luther King parade every year in Denver, I march with the Martin Luther King, we call it the "Marade" march/parade, "Marade." So we always march in the Martin Luther King "marade." My daughter, who was going through the civil rights period also as a college student, she went to Washington to demonstrate. My son, Paul, tried to help the Cesar Chavez period. So I like to work with young people to let them know that despite terrible times that happen, terrible things that happen, despite the things that happen, where you see cruelty or injustice to one another, that this country stands for doing the right thing. We have a constitution, we can choose to interpret it in different ways, but I think the basic thing is that if we are one people, one humanity, and even the people who wrote the Constitution were only thinking in terms of white people, that they are beginning to understand that this is a world population, that we have to take care of all people. So if we are going to correct the problems, we each have to vote. One of my big projects I've always been involved in is the League of Women Voters, because we believe in voting, but also being informed voters. And I try to practice that. And so if this is a true democracy, everybody has to participate and try to correct the things that are wrong with this society. And so that's one thing, having gone through the Manzanar and the evacuation experience only brought it home to me, helped me, educated me to the need for everyone doing what is good for each other. And I think it's important. I see the corrections that take place, people think these things happen, and how cruel people are.
And I speak to classes, I tell them I wouldn't be doing this anymore except that... because it's all behind me, I'm fine now, I've survived. But I said, you see something like 9/11 happen, and the hatred that came up against Muslims in our country, and we had to protect the Muslim women to go grocery shopping afterwards. We had to form circles around their mosques to prevent the rest of the population from attacking the mosque. These people were not responsible for 9/11, but there is all kinds of hatred in the world, and somewhere we have to try to correct the injustices that occur. And I speak to college students and I say to them that, "You're the future of this country and the world," and I'm pleased to see correction, because I see people who are of all different races in the classes now that weren't there fifteen years ago. The classes were for more privileged kids, but now we're trying to include everybody, and so I think inclusiveness and the correction, and it takes work on the part of everyone. It's not going to be perfect, but if we're going to have a true society that helps improve, we must all work on it.
AL: Well, I can't think of any better way to conclude. I just wanted to ask if there are any other things that people wanted to ask about before we conclude?
RT: We have to keep learning. [Laughs] We have to keep learning to do better.
AL: Well, Rose, on behalf of the National Park Service, especially all of us at Manzanar, just want to thank you, we all do, for the memories that you shared and the story. And hopefully, in years to come, all of us can look and learn, so I really appreciate all of the time you've shared with us and your willingness to talk to us.
RT: Thank you for listening.
<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.