Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Joyce Okazaki Interview II
Narrator: Joyce Okazaki
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Santa Ana, California
Date: December 12, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-ojoyce-02

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: This is Kristen Luetkemeier, we are here at Video Resources Incorporated in Santa Ana with Joyce Okazaki to finish up an interview that we started some time ago, a year or a year and a half ago. Today is December 2, 2013, and Whitney Peterson, also of Manzanar National Historic Site, is operating the camera today, and Jeff Rudd from Video Resources may come and go. And Joyce, I just want to confirm that we have your permission to continue this interview and record it.

JO: Yes, you do.

KL: Make it available to the public?

JO: Yes.

KL: Okay, great, thank you. I'm glad we're finally making this work to finish up.

JO: Because it's been a long time.

KL: Uh-huh, yeah, it's been a while. We talked a lot last time about your sort of family background and your parents' experiences and a little bit of your younger life in Southern California. And I think I just want to pick up the thread with asking you what you recall about the day that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I know you have some memories and I wonder if you could share with us what your recollection of that day is.

JO: Well, I didn't know anything about... because there was no talk about the actual attack. We were as a family having dinner in Little Tokyo in a Chinese restaurant celebrating my grandfather's birthday. And I don't know why we were doing it on December 7th when his birthday was October the 4th or something like that. It was in October anyway. But he was a very busy man with his store, and so this was, I guess, the time he had set aside so we could all get together and celebrate his birthday. And when he got home, my mother received a phone call that he was arrested, the FBI were waiting on the doorstep of his home, and he was taken. I guess he could take a few things with him, but I understand he was taken to San Pedro federal prison. And it could have been on Terminal Island, I really don't know for sure. Mainly because I tried to get his records, and so far I have not been able to find any information on him from the time he was arrested until the time he was released and sent to Manzanar. So he was taken on December 7th, and we didn't know where he went. And I guess a day or two later, my aunt, his older daughter, my mother's younger sister found out where he was, and they eventually went to Fort Missoula, Montana, and spent the time there until he was released, which was in June of 1942, went to Manzanar, they brought him to Manzanar.

KL: Who made that phone call to your mom? Was it your grandmother?

JO: Probably my grandmother. Well, there were two other... actually, there were three... my grandparents lived in a huge home, it was one of those mansions on Twenty-seventh Street and Seventh Street (near) Adams (Blvd), and so even though the daughters got married, they lived there. Two daughters were married... no, they were not married yet. They got married after. That's right, the chronology is a little different. There were four daughter still living there, one of them was my aunt, the doctor, and the other three were sisters, and then one uncle. So they were all still living in that house.

KL: Were they all at a dinner with you too that day?

JO: Yes, they were all at dinner. It was a whole family dinner, and I guess that's one of the reasons why it was so late, because everybody was every which way. And I think my aunt who was the doctor just came, returned from her internship in Indiana.

KL: Oh, I didn't realize she had done an internship in Indiana. Do you know why Indiana?

JO: I don't know.

KL: Oh, that's interesting.

JO: I do have her interviews and things, but I never really asked her that question. But she was in Indiana, and my other aunt, who was also older, drove out to Indiana and picked her up, and they both drove back.

KL: And that was late in '42?

JO: Yeah, late in '42. It was probably late in October, whenever her internship was finished. And then she went to work, I guess, for the County General.

KL: When your mom got that phone call, do you recall anything about her response?

JO: No, she just...

KL: Was she calm?

JO: Well, I think she was a little excited, but I really... I was only a kid. I was like seven years old.

KL: Did she tell you about it? Were you aware of what was going on at that time?

JO: Well, I don't think she told me directly, she just told all of us my grandfather Jiichan was arrested by the FBI, and we all got, like I would get really concerned, "What happened?" So that's what happened.

KL: Do you know if she learned news of the attack at the same time, or did you guys have any clue what prompted that arrest?

JO: Well, they probably knew of the attack, but they didn't tell us. I mean, they figured we're too young. Well, my sister definitely, but you know, I didn't really know anything about it until Jiichan was arrested. We called him Jiichan, he was my grandpa.

KL: And then when and how did you find out, or your family found out that he was in the prison at San Pedro?

JO: Well, I think my aunt, the doctor aunt, she was the one that really took care of everything at the house, and so she probably called wherever, whoever, they must have told them something, I don't really know. And asking her now, or even five years ago or so, it was impossible to get any kind of a story about what happened to my grandfather from her. It was always what she did and how she did it. And she takes full credit for everything. But she, of course, married subsequently after December 7th, she married Dr. James Goto.

KL: But she was, Masako, before that time she was not --

JO: Yeah, Dr. Masako Kusayanagi. Just for a short while. She got her degree in 1940, and then a one-year internship in '40 to '41. And apparently she was, she got a job at the County General.

KL: Yeah, I'm sorry, I made a mistake on the date earlier, saying '42, this is the end of '41.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: So that's a pretty immediate change, that phone call and the news that your grandfather had been arrested. Were there other ways that your life changed after the attack that you recall, or how did that... are there other ways, or how did that story play out?

JO: My life didn't change that much. I mean, I just went to school every day, and I went to Maryknoll missionary school, and it was all Japanese. And so I think... I really don't know the timeline, but I think after the Executive Order 9066 was signed, our school was closed, because it was all Japanese, so you can't go to school anymore. Now, I don't know if it was the end of February or sometime in March, but I know that we couldn't go to school anymore.

KL: Did you sense anything different about school, like when you went back that next Monday, was there a different feeling or do you have any recall of that?

JO: No. Everything seemed normal. I think people were, kids were talking about it, but I was not aware, and just went along my usual routine until there was no more school, then I didn't go to school anymore.

KL: How did you learn that you were gonna have to leave home?

JO: Mother, I guess, Mother and Dad. But I really don't... I really don't remember. I mean, I don't really remember what happened there because we never talked about it. I remember, all I remember was we're going to Manzanar. They announced we're leaving April 2nd, and she said that Baachan, my grandmother, and family were leaving on April 1st to go to Manzanar. So, because they wanted to stay together as a family, my mother said because we want to be together as a family, we're going April 2nd.

KL: You may not know the answer to this, 'cause you said you guys never talked about it, but do you have any idea if your parents ever considered just leaving the exclusion zone before the order into the camps? There was that real narrow window...

JO: Yeah. No, I don't think they did, because... I just don't think they did.

KL: Yeah, it sounds like your life was in California.

JO: Yeah, it was in California, relatives were here. We had nowhere to go to, where would we go? We did have a car, my father bought a '41 Dodge or something like that, '41. Yeah, it was '41, because it was new.

KL: What did he do with it?

JO: We had to sell it. I imagine he sold it for a song.

KL: He never told you anything about the buyer or that process?

JO: [Shakes head] But I know he sold it. And he was happy that somebody bought it, because we couldn't store it. He wasn't going to drive it up to Manzanar.

KL: When your folks told you, "We're going to Manzanar on April 2nd," what did that mean to you? What did you think, what was your response?

JO: I didn't know where Manzanar was. I didn't have... I just figure we'll just go with my parents. Very naive. You know, in this day and age, my grandson is seven years old, he's a lot more inquisitive about life in general than I ever was. To give you an example, seven year olds don't, especially girls, don't play with dolls. And I had my dolls that I just loved, and I had to leave.

KL: What happened to them?

JO: Well, they had to be put into storage, 'cause we couldn't carry them. Said, "There's no room for them, you have to leave your toys." So I had to leave all my toys. And I had a playroom full of toys in our house. We had a lot of things to play with.

KL: Where did you store them?

JO: Our next door neighbor owned their house. So we rented ours, but our next door neighbor owned their house, so we put them in boxes and stored them in their basement. But unfortunately, when it came time to retrieve them, when I was... 1946, they were not in very good condition. Or it could have been 1952, but it was a while before we took a look at what was stored, and it was all broken up and dried up. One was a rubber doll, and the rubber all crackled and broke apart, and the other was a plaster doll with a plaster face, and, of course, fine paint job, and that was all crackled, too. So I didn't want to save any of it, it was just too horrible looking, and threw it all away. All of it was thrown away.

KL: Who were the neighbors?

JO: The neighbors were the Ikedas. I don't know the parents' name, but the one I remember, her name is Mutsuko, and her name is now Mutsuko Okada and she lives in Seattle. And so when I went to the conference in Seattle and the convention in Seattle, first of all, the JACL convention a year ago, and this year, the museum conference, I met her and talked to her and she invited me over to her house. Because my friend that I travel with is her in-law. Her husband was the brother-in-law, so she's the sister-in-law.

KL: Were the Ikedas in Manzanar, too?

JO: No, they were in Poston, I believe. Because people, we lived in East L.A., and the people who stayed there eventually had to go to Santa Anita and then to Poston, that whole area of Boyle Heights.

KL: Yeah, I know East L.A. was kind of split up, so how, what was responsible for the difference? Your family's desire to stay together?

JO: Yes. We stayed together and we put our names in, because we had to go anyway, put our names in early, end of March, to go by April 2nd, and I think it was just a few days, maybe five days. Of course, my aunt, who was a doctor, married Dr. James Goto, and they were asked by the health department or somebody to start up the hospital there, and so she went with him. Because she was the one that was more organized, she knew exactly how to set up an office or hospital and what was required. He was the chief. [Laughs]

KL: So you think she... do you know anything about the logistics of that... I don't know if volunteering is quite the right word, but of your kind of enrolling and going early to Manzanar? Was it Masako who did that?

JO: No, my parents had to go and do it at the... I'm sure they had to go and do it themselves.

KL: Do you have any idea -- I know you were young, but do you have any idea where they did that or what it was like?

JO: I have no idea. I have no idea, we never talked about it.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JO: All I know is on April 2nd we were there on a railroad track siding, you know, railroad tracks.

KL: Where was it?

JO: I don't know. I thought it was somewhere under the First Street Bridge, or under one of those bridges. There's a lot of siding, the tracks, railroad tracks. It's still there. And so I asked my mother, "Why aren't we at Union Station? Why can't we catch the train at Union Station?" but she never answered. And I guess there were soldiers there, too, marching up and down with their rifles.

KL: Did that register in your memory at all?

JO: It did, but it didn't make that much of an impression because I was a girl. I think boys would have taken more notice of soldiers than me.

KL: Did you have any interaction with them?

JO: No. I just hung by my mother.

KL: So are you aware if there was any public building or any reason for that location where you caught the train?

JO: No, I have no idea why we were there. I don't even know how we got there, whether somebody picked us up or whether we went on the bus. Maybe... I have no idea. All I know is we were standing there at the side of the railroad.

KL: How many other people were there?

JO: It was crowded, there were a lot of people there. So everybody boarded the train to go to Manzanar. But I guess a lot of the people, I find out later that the Bainbridge Island people went to Manzanar, 'cause I went on that trip and I found out...

KL: Oh, with the JANM conference?

JO: Yes, that they traveled by train for two days or three days, got off the train and got on the bus and went to the train station to board the train to Manzanar. I thought that was pretty unusual, that was really shocking to me.

KL: Do you recall anything about the people's demeanor, or kind of what it was like to be there boarding the train? Did it take a long time, were people sad, were they impatient? I know there were cameras in some cases where people were boarding. Was there anybody there to say goodbye, or what do you recall about sort of the scene?

JO: Well, nobody came to see us, that's for sure, to say goodbye. We just boarded the train. But I don't know if it was... I know all the trains seemed to be filled once we were seated. But I just don't remember that. I don't remember how people reacted, because I just was not aware of it. Really didn't... was not cognizant of any of that.

KL: What do you remember about the ride to Manzanar?

JO: It was long. And I don't remember about the shades, I guess the shades were pulled, but I don't really remember too much. I think it took a long time to get to wherever we ended up.

KL: What time of day did you depart? Do you have a sense for that?

JO: It was, I thought it was morning, but I really don't know. It could have been later in the morning, but I know wherever we went, wherever we arrived, whether it was Lone Pine, I guess it was Lone Pine, we got off the train and we got on... we had to wait a while and then got on army transport trucks, and they took us to Manzanar on trucks. And I remember, I said, "What happened to our luggage?" Because all the luggage was being taken on a separate truck, because you couldn't pile everybody and their luggage when there was only benches on the side of these... there were two row of benches on each side of the truck, and that's how we were transported.

KL: Did you see any local people along the road or at the train station or anything?

JO: No. And by the time we got on the truck, it was nighttime, because this was April 2nd, so I guess it must have got dark fairly early.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: What do you recall about actually arriving at Manzanar? What happened when you got there, what did you see?

JO: It was dark, couldn't see anything. But my uncle met us at the departure point, the disembarkment point, I don't know. I don't know how he... I talk about this now and I figured, "How did he know when we were gonna arrive?" Because there were a lot of different... so he must have just stood there and waited for all of the different trucks to have the people leave. And he was there and he carried some of our luggage for my mother, because, of course, my sister and I didn't carry anything.

KL: Do you remember where you did disembark from the truck?

JO: What I did?

KL: No, where you did. Do you have any idea where it let you off?

JO: Somewhere in the front, but I don't know where.

KL: Like close to the highway, close to where the sentry posts are now?

JO: Oh, I think it was close... yeah, it must have been. Not close to the highway, I think they drove in a ways. Because there were a lot of ditches, so there was a lot of construction. And my uncle said, "Watch where you're going, you don't want to fall into a ditch," because the ditches were like five feet deep, I guess, four feet deep. And so we're keeping our eye on the ground, and I don't know how we could see, but somebody must have had flashlights. Maybe we brought flashlights, I have no idea. But we were walking and walking, and my uncle fell into a ditch, that was the funniest thing, of course, he fell into a ditch and we all laughed.

KL: The one who had given you the warning?

JO: Yeah. But we had to walk from there to Block 12, because our first unit was 12-9-4, my grandmother was there with her children, my aunts, my two aunts. Aunt Masako was in a separate unit with her husband, and my aunt Kimi, who also got married, was in another separate unit for married couples. So we were, we stayed with my grandmother and two aunts that were still living with her. And I guess the son wasn't there, although I found out later by looking at his records, he didn't arrive at Manzanar until December, because he was in a hospital.

KL: Your grandmother's son? Who was the uncle who met you?

JO: Oh, he was my aunt's husband, my aunt Kimi's husband, Uncle John (Hasegawa).

KL: So you walked from the bus to, or from the truck to Block 12?

JO: Block 12, which was pretty far.

KL: Did you go immediately to the apartment?

JO: I don't know, we might have checked in someplace, or maybe my uncle took care of all of that for us. But I think they might have had to do that, I really don't know. You know, how we know where to go... but he knew where we had to go. We had to stay with my grandma.

KL: Had he arrived the day before, the group that came on April 1st?

JO: Yes.

KL: So what did you... I don't know if you have a memory for this or not, but what did you see when you first walked in to the barrack?

JO: Well, I saw that there were beds there, but I really don't remember, I think there were some beds that didn't have mattresses. I don't know if there were beds for us there. There were... you know, it might be that there were eight beds there already because my uncle Johnny (Hasegawa) and his wife stayed for one night in that, and then they were moved. It could have been that, because my aunt that was there with the doctor, and she had to stay close to the area where there was a hospital. So I think they just had some kind of a barrack set up for them there. Well, I don't really know, I have no idea the living arrangements, but all I know is we had to stay with my grandmother, and there were seven of us in the room.

KL: Were you glad to see her?

JO: Oh, yes. But my grandmother spoke Japanese, and we didn't really communicate that much, but I was always glad to see her, but I was more happy to see my aunt Irene, because she was younger, and I liked to play with her. Irene, who was the class of '44, by the way.

KL: Do you recall your parents' reaction to arriving at Manzanar or arriving at the barrack apartment or any of that first night?

JO: I don't remember what they said. I don't even remember what my sister said, but she said afterward that she still remembers to this day her first impression of that room, and she told my mother, "I want to go home. I don't want to sleep in a garage." So that was kind of touching and sad.

KL: It's a hard thing to hear from a five year old.

JO: Well, she was four. She had just turned four in April, her birthday's in March, so she had just turned four. And of all things, she doesn't remember very much about Manzanar, but that was the one thing she remembered. I guess maybe my mother might have told her, repeated it to her also, because it's hard to remember things unless it's repeated over to you.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: How did the barrack apartment change over time? People, some people talk about ordering things or having things delivered, other people say we didn't have the wherewithal to do much to change it.

JO: Well, in the beginning there was no changes made in the beginning, and it took a while. We had no wallboard in the beginning, I don't know when the wallboards were put up, but we had that open framework thing, really looked very rustic. And the floor with the knotholes and everything, and sand creeping in all over the place. I don't really remember too much about, but all I know is pretty soon it got to be more livable. And what my mother did was she went and took sewing classes, because they were, this one fellow... and I think Ansel Adams took his picture, he was... oh, and there was a sewing instructor also, I can't remember her name. But anyway, she must have taught my mother how to sew, and my mother then was able to sew curtains and things like that, and she would buy things from the coop, or order things from Sears, whatever they needed. She sewed our clothes, so that's why when my father bought the two little dresses, it was so nice and different, because it was store-bought. But she sewed our clothes.

KL: Had she sewn before she went to Manzanar, or was that new?

JO: I don't really know. I think she had a sewing machine.

KL: I know you said she was real stylish.

JO: Yeah. She's real stylish because my mother came from a wealthy family. You should see her, we looked at her pictures, her albums when she was young and going to college, she dressed with fur coats and stylish flapper looking things, she drove a Nash, she had a car when she was sixteen. She always, my sister says, "My gosh, she really dressed in the latest fashions for that day," she was always well dressed. But in camp it wasn't that way, but she still, I noticed that she still had a skirt on and a sweater when Ansel Adams took her picture.

KL: People look so polished in so many of the pictures, you know, those hairstyles and stuff, I mean, we wonder how people pulled it off, because my hair doesn't look like that. [Laughs]

JO: Well, my mother did the, our curls, she did rag curls for us. But the other things, like my aunt would do her own hair for the yearbook picture. Her picture's right next to Ralph Lazo's picture. Irene Kusayanagi, Ralph Lazo, class of '44. So they had the, pulled back, and the pompadour.

KL: Do you have memories of him, or did she ever tell you stories about him or anything?

JO: No, I didn't know him at all. She knew him but she didn't know him that well, and I think they asked her questions at the time, they had the high school graduation, Manzanar people were there and asked, and I don't know what she told them, I think she said she didn't really know him that well.

KL: So did you say you started off in 12-9-4?

JO: Yes.

KL: Okay, but did you move then?

JO: No, we stayed there the entire time.

KL: Okay.

JO: My aunt... no, no, my grandmother moved, they moved to Block 29 to be closer to the hospital, and my aunt Masako was living in Block 29.

KL: Did your grandmother live alone there?

JO: No, with her three children, two daughters and the son who came to Manzanar.

KL: So then it was just the four of you who remained in your original apartment. Do you recall any neighbors?

JO: Oh, yes, neighbors were relatives. So it must have been that our relatives all came on April 2nd, because they came from different areas, but we were all in the one barrack, two barracks, 12-8 and 12-9. And I thought... I didn't think of anything at that time, but after I'm an adult and talking about all of this, how did we ever manage that, to have all of the relatives? And it's not, it's my grandmother's brothers, and my grandfather's brothers who were in these units. So it was something, because I got to see them all the time.

KL: Yeah, what was that like? That proximity was different?

JO: Yeah, that was nice, because I always liked to go visit them. I was always treated like a young kid, and they would play with me, so I had a lot of people to play with. And my most favorite great aunt lived next door to us, and she was the wife of my grandmother's brother. And her two kids were also living there, I think, because they weren't married. And I used to just love all of them, they were all close by. It was really nice.

KL: What was her name?

JO: Her name was Hoshizaki, Tsuyu Hoshizaki, and her daughters were Mae and Alice and Roy. I think they're all gone now. Roy actually wrote articles for the Manzanar Free Press.

KL: Oh right, yeah.

JO: Roy Hoshizaki.

KL: Oh, okay.

JO: I didn't know about it, but when I bought the copies that the store sells, I read all that, and I wanted to talk to him and tell him, "Oh, I read your articles, but I never got a chance to, then he died.

KL: Did he ever talk to you before you found those articles about what it was like to be part of the Manzanar Free Press?

JO: I didn't even know. I didn't even know. So that was kind of funny, unusual, interesting.

KL: What do you recall of the garden in Block 12?

JO: Oh, I thought it was the most beautiful place. I know we didn't go there very... oh, the garden at Block 12, oh, that was very nice, it was small. But I liked Merritt Park, because I thought it was beautiful there. But I didn't get to go there very often, because that was too far away.

KL: When did you get to go there?

JO: Not very often, because it was too far away. I don't recall walking there by myself, where Block 12, we saw it all the time, because we had to line up for the mess hall.

KL: Do you remember it being constructed or anything about who built it?

JO: No, I don't. All I know is that I remember they were building the garden, because you know, we had to go every day to eat. And the interesting thing about that is there's a picture in the book called Manzanar that the interpretive center put out, and there's a picture of a garden there that Ansel Adams took, he's not credited with it, but he took it, because he took it of my back. And I told him, "I want to face the camera," and he said, "No, you're going to face where I told you." And I said, "But my sister's facing the camera." "No." So there I am with my back to the camera, but my sister was looking down, too, so maybe that's how he posed us. [Laughs]

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: You know, people talk about like the Bainbridge Island block or the Terminal Island block or certain blocks have kind of reputations or defining characteristics, did Block 12 have any sort of identity, do you think, that made it unique?

JO: I don't really recall. I know that there were not a lot of kids my age in the block. There was only two young girls in the block, but they were older than me. One was two years older, and one was a year older. So I made friends with them, because girls kind of stick together, and we played.

KL: So maybe it was the quiet block. [Laughs]

JO: Yeah, there may have been boys there, but I don't know. I think all the boys were in Block 11, because my husband was in Block 11. I didn't know him then. He was in Block 11 and this other fellow that was my mortal enemy was in Block 11.

KL: What made him your mortal enemy?

JO: Well, it all started at Maryknoll, and I was in second grade, and I was kind of smart, so the teacher, the nun, told me to be a tutor for this one kid who was from Japan and couldn't read English. So I would sit there and help him read English, and his name was Kazuo Kitani. I'm giving him more publicity than he deserves. [Laughs]

KL: I know, he could be immortalized in this.

JO: Anyway, I remember the name because then, that was in Maryknoll. In Manzanar, I was, of course, I left second grade in February, didn't go to school, any school at all. I notice that I have pictures of people in some kind of school situation, but I don't know if that was Manzanar, where parents and volunteers were teaching kids outdoors. But when I went to third grade when school started up, and of course, this is a big thing, but I think it all started up after Dr. Genevieve Carter was hired, and she hired a bunch of teachers and started school in the fall. And I don't know when school started, but it started in the fall. And I went to third grade. I said, "I'm not going to second grade," I told my mother, "I'm going to third grade." So I went to third grade, and third grade was fine. I had Mrs. Sandridge for my teacher, she was really nice; I really liked her. And Mrs. Sandridge was the wife of Jay Sandridge who worked with my father. But anyway, Mrs. Sandridge was really nice. And so I was in third grade, and by golly, this kid, Kazuo Kitani was in the same class with me. [Laughs] He used to tease me a lot, I guess. But I just proceeded along, and I don't know when, but they gave a test, I don't know what kind of test, it might have been some kind of an intelligence test, IQ test, and they tested everybody. And they told me that I scored high enough that I could just go to summer school for fourth grade and go into fifth grade. I already skipped -- I was supposed to be in second grade I guess, and instead I was already in third grade. So they told me I could go into... so I said, "I'm gonna do that," I told my mother. "I'm gonna do it." And so my mother let me, and I was in fourth grade in the summer time. I don't remember who the teacher was.

KL: Did everybody take summer school, or was it optional?

JO: It was optional. I think it was optional, it was optional for me. You know, if I went to fourth grade summer school, then I could go to fifth grade. What a good thing, so I said, "Okay," and I did that. Well, Kazuo Kitani did the same thing. [Laughs] So there he was in summer school fourth grade and my fifth grade class. But before that, while I was in third grade, there was a big pageant. I don't know if you've heard of that pageant, but it was a big pageant where all the elementary schools were involved, all classes. And it was called... I don't know, what was it called? It was called the Whirlwind or something. And we were assigned to do... we learned all of the patriotic songs, but in addition we learned other songs about America, and that's where I learned Beautiful Dreamer, no, Beautiful Ohio. We sang that song, "Beautiful Ohio in dreams again I see visions of what used to be," and some other songs. But we were, as a class, assigned to learn the Irish jig, and, of course, my partner was Kazuo Kitani, terrible. Anyway, we were practicing, and he would just do nasty things to me like squeeze my hand, and sometimes it's okay, but once he really did it hard. He did something to me that really hurt me, and so I cried, and the lady said, "Why are you crying?" I said, "He hurt me," and we got dismissed early and the boys had to stay and practice. And he really hated me after that. [Laughs] And then the pageant went off really well. I really enjoyed that, we got to sing as a group, all those songs we learned.

KL: Where did you present it?

JO: In some outdoors, it must have been outdoors. But I don't know how we did the Irish jig outdoors, but I guess we did, because everybody was there, I think, I don't know. But it was fun to do that.

KL: You said that you think Mr. Sandridge worked with your father?

JO: I think so. I'm not really sure, but I think he knew my father.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: What was your father's work?

JO: He worked for the Department of Public Works, he was a draftsman. Because, of course, he was an architect, graduated UC Berkeley as an architect, so he worked as a draftsman.

KL: Do you know any of the projects he worked on at Manzanar?

JO: No. But eventually he got to working on the auditorium, but when he worked on it, he said the idea was it was going to be a Quonset hut, but he said he didn't stay long enough, he left in May, but he said it got changed to... because it needed to be taller and have sides, but it was adapted from the Quonset hut design.

KL: When did he start that job?

JO: Shortly after he went to Manzanar. I think they assessed everybody by, I don't know how, and he applied for work and got the job at the Public Works. And he worked with other people who were also very artistic, because my father was artistic. He met Henry Fukuhara there, they were lifelong friends.

KL: But that's where they met, you said?

JO: Yeah, Henry Fukuhara.

KL: Was Henry also working for the Public Works?

JO: I think so, because he was... I think so, I'm not sure. I don't know if he gave art lessons then, but he might have shown my... no, my father knew how to do watercolor, being an architect, he did watercolor. So he did watercolor.

KL: Did you spend any time with Henry Fukuhara in Manzanar? Do you have memories of him?

JO: No, not while I was there. Because they didn't have "bring your children to work" days that they do now, and I never went to see him work.

KL: What about from later? What can you tell us about his... I mean, I never met him, I have an idea of his personality...

JO: Oh, Henry Fukuhara?

KL: Yeah.

JO: I really didn't know him, but I met him at the opening, 2004, I said, "Oh, hello, Henry Fukuhara. I'm the daughter of Gen Nakamura." Said, "Oh, yeah, he died." [Laughs] I said, "Oh, yeah, I know that." And this was in 2004, my father died in 1999, and actually, Henry was quite a bit younger than my father, like ten years younger. So my father was ninety-four when he died. I think Henry was quite a bit younger. Anyway, that's the first time I met him. The second time I met him was in Riverside at the Appeals Courthouse in the judge's chambers. But anyway, he's a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge, and he knew Henry Fukuhara and had an exhibit of his paintings in his chambers, and they had this Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing about the Korematsu case way back in 1944, whenever the hearing was, and it was reenacted. So because my son was an employee... well, let's see, he didn't work for Riverside at that time, but he lived in Riverside and worked in Riverside, he knew about the... he was a lawyer also, my son, he still is. He knew about the Court of Appeals reenactment, and he said, "Let's go." The two of us, put in a reservation for the two of us, because he wasn't married at that time. And we had, you know, it was very interesting, because I was always interested in all of that for when I give my talk. But at that time I didn't incorporate a lot of that information, but I do now.

KL: Did Henry Fukuhara have anything more substantial to say about your dad or anything at that time?

JO: No. By then he was in a wheelchair and he was not really all that clear in his mind, so I didn't say anything. I had met his daughter, Grace Niwa, and had, keep in contact with her. She's the mother of Paul Niwa who was going to Japanese school with my son when they were in middle school, elementary school and middle school, Orange County Buddhist Church dharma school. So that was kind of unusual, you know, we just kind of crossed roads that way. So I met her and her sister, and her sister was taking care of her father that day, and she said that he's not real good with talking anymore.

KL: Yeah, Alisa actually interviewed Grace Niwa at the Manzanar reunion this year, and I got to interview her husband.

JO: Yeah, class of '44, Ujinobu Niwa. He was also a student of my mother's.

KL: Oh, really? How did he do?

JO: [Laughs] How did he do? He and his brother -- he has a brother Ujiaki Niwa, younger brother, I guess, by a year -- they were both little rascals. Even though they were in high school, they were not, well, he was probably more well-behaved than his brother. His brother threw a ball at my mother, and not good, she failed him, and I think she gave Ujinobu a D. They didn't get good grades because they were not good, well-behaved. It was a matter of behavior and how they treated her, because she was this five-foot tall little teacher and they were all huge kids. But he remembers her.

KL: What do you know about the Sandridges' background if anything? Do you know what motivated them to come to Manzanar or where they were from or anything?

JO: No, I never really found out, I never really talked to her later on. I really don't know. I think they had a little boy, too.

KL: Do you recall your fifth grade teacher?

JO: Miss Bailey.

KL: What do you recall of her?

JO: I recall nothing of her. I remember I didn't learn a thing in fifth grade, or I think I didn't learn a thing in fifth grade. Maybe my math, I don't know, because when I went... after fifth grade, I left, my parents left for Chicago, we moved to Chicago, so I went to school in Chicago in sixth grade, and I really did poorly. Oh my gosh, I was so dumb. I didn't know anything. Probably math was the only thing I knew, and that was because my father could always tutor me in math, he was really good at math. So he tutored me in math all the way through high school, because I wasn't very good at math.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: This is tape two of a December 2, 2013, continuing interview with Joyce Okazaki. And we were talking some about your elementary school attendance in Manzanar, and since your mother was a teacher, I was curious to hear if you know what her take on education in Manzanar was. Did she ever make comparisons between education in Manzanar and Los Angeles?

JO: She never did, or I wasn't aware of it. She didn't have a credential, so she was given a provisional by Dr. Carter so that she could teach. Apparently, that first month of the school year, the teacher that was hired to do the PE looked at the classes and quit, so that they, Dr. Carter had to have somebody else, and she took my mother and gave her a provisional and had her teach. My mother was really very strict with the health classes. She gave tests and she really gave hard tests. Her sister was in her PE class, gave her a B. She didn't even get an A. But Mary Nomura got an A, Mary Kageyama, who was also in her class, and she got an A, because she was very good at drawing, that's what she told me. She was able to draw the insides, the heart and the stomach and all of that.

KL: What did your mom teach, what grades?

JO: She taught from seventh grade to senior year in high school, twelfth grade, both boys and girls. I don't know exactly how many students she had all together.

KL: Did she teach both years you were there?

JO: Yes, she taught both years. I looked at the records that Manzanar had of her, and it doesn't show that she taught for two years, but she did. She taught from 1942 to '44.

KL: What did she think of it? Was it what she expected?

JO: Yeah, I think because she didn't have any other experience other than student teaching, she did her student teaching, but she was not able to... no, she didn't get the job as a student teacher that you have to have for one year because they wouldn't hire her.

KL: You said she did kind of a practicum or something, I think, through her program, through the degree program, but couldn't student teach until Manzanar.

JO: Yeah. Well, I think the... while you're in school, they assign you to a certain class, and then she taught at Foshay, but it was the eight or ten weeks or two months or whatever. But then when you have to teach for a year before you could get your credential, she couldn't do that.

KL: You mentioned that your mom took sewing classes. I was curious if you took any classes other than academic ones at the school, like did you ever take any dance or violin?

JO: Well, I remember taking ballet class, but I didn't go for very long, and I don't know why. I remember signing up for ballet lessons and taking them maybe two, three times, but maybe a teacher said I was... I don't know. But anyway, that didn't continue. And the other thing I took was piano lessons. The piano was like a board with painted keys, and I don't think I liked it, so I didn't continue that.

KL: Yeah, that would be kind of unsatisfying.

JO: Yeah.

KL: Where were those classes held?

JO: Oh, in some other block far away. I remember having to walk, so it could have been, you know, across the firebreak.

KL: Was it in someone's barrack apartment or the rec. hall?

JO: No, I think the rec. hall. I think it was the rec. hall.

KL: Do you remember the ballet teacher's name?

JO: No. I don't remember any of those teachers' names.

KL: Were you part of a church congregation in Manzanar?

JO: I had to go to the Christian church Sunday school, reluctantly.

KL: What do you remember about that, except that you would rather have been elsewhere?

JO: Reluctantly. We did not like it, I guess, I don't know. It was not one of the things I was enthused about doing, I don't know why. There was nothing else to do, you know, but I just didn't like going there. And I think that was in Block 5. But I know Block 5 had my fifth grade class, so I don't know where they had the Christian church.

KL: You said your fifth grade class was in Block 5?

JO: Uh-huh, I think so, but I don't know where the third grade class was. I have no idea.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: Your father had an operation, I think, in the Manzanar hospital?

JO: Yes, uh-huh.

KL: Would you tell us about that?

JO: He had a hernia operation, and I remember he told me he had to go to the hospital and be there for a while. I can't remember his doctor's name. I would recognize if I saw it in print, but I don't remember.

KL: When was it?

JO: This was probably in, sometime in 1943, I would think. Because he went to pick potatoes in the fall of '43, oh, the summer of '43, I guess, whenever potatoes are harvested. And then he sent us the dresses, and then Ansel Adams came, we wore the dresses.

KL: So he had the operation before he went?

JO: It could have been before, it could have been after. I think it might have been after, only because after doing this strenuous work, he hurt himself.

KL: But your aunt and your husband were already gone?

JO: Oh, yes, they were already gone. In fact, they didn't stay in camp very long at all, as you know. They were gone by December of 1942.

KL: What did she tell you, or did she, about what it was like to set up that hospital and what the dynamic was like among the staff?

JO: Well, it's only what I read, she said they didn't have anything. Even when she set it up, there still wasn't enough, because there was no money to buy the needed equipment and things like that.

KL: Did your dad give any reviews of his care there or his time there?

JO: No, but he had good care. He had to stay for two weeks, though, for an operation. And so we missed him. We went to the hospital, my mother took us to the hospital outside his room, and we yelled through the window to talk to him, because we couldn't go in, we were too young. In those days, they didn't let young people into the hospital.

KL: So you yelled from outside?

JO: To talk to him right by his window where he was.

KL: Was that allowed, did anybody care?

JO: Nobody. That was allowed. Well, we didn't... it wasn't that loud. And he was right there, but we couldn't see him because the window was up high, I think, so we couldn't see him.

KL: Your aunt, I think, had two babies in Manzanar, two if I have that right, Kimiko (Hasegawa)?

JO: Yes.

KL: Do you remember that, or what did she say about that?

JO: Yeah, I remember when she had the babies, Jeanene and Arlene. We loved it because... well, we were able to go and see her and feed them, I was able to feed them. Actually, I didn't do it because I was too young. Arlene was born, let's see... Jeanene was born in '43, January of '43, she lives in the valley. They have nothing, they will have nothing to do with Manzanar. They don't want to know anything about it, don't want to see any pictures about it. Arlene was born a year and a half later, I guess, so that must have been '44. I don't remember what her birthday is, it must have been in the fall. See, we had left in August of '44, so it might be that she was born after that, I don't really know. Anyway, they quickly moved to Chicago, because we moved to Chicago, they moved to Chicago also.

KL: Did she ever say anything about the Manzanar hospital or quality of care, or what it was like to give birth? Those were her first babies.

JO: I didn't hear anything from my aunt Kimi about it. She was not one to complain about anything, everything was just, she was a very positive, upbeat person, happy, so she didn't say anything.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: Are there other places that you remember from your childhood, places in Manzanar that stood out?

JO: Well, I talked about everybody was growing a garden, so I thought, oh, I would grow a garden, too. And I got some gardening tools and I made rows and I planted corn. And I watered it, and pretty soon the corn stalks grew. I didn't have any kernels, but I had cornstalks. I didn't fertilize, I guess, so I didn't get any corn, ears of corn. I think I got one. But it was an experience, I mean, I tried growing something.

KL: Where'd you get the seeds?

JO: Probably got them from the store, the co-op. But I think my father and my mother went and bought it for me. Because everybody was growing things, and well, why not me? What else do I remember? I had another grandfather there, my father's father was also in Manzanar. I think he lived in, he also lived in Block 12, but where the bachelors lived, wherever that was. But he raised rabbits, and so he had these cages of rabbits, and I don't know how he got these cages. Because I think about it now, how did he get those cages? The rabbits, of course, they multiplied, so he had a lot of rabbits. And apparently he was going to be leaving camp, so he had to get rid of the rabbits. So in late '43, around Christmas time, it was just, oh, maybe November or early December, they decided to kill all the rabbits, and brought all the cages there to Block 12, and I stood and I watched them slaughter all of the rabbits, chop off their heads, stick 'em in hot water, and skin then. They saved the skins to sell, and the rabbits for later on to eat. So I didn't eat any rabbit at Christmas time. I could not eat a rabbit, sorry. [Laughs]

KL: Had you been around them much before that?

JO: Rabbits?

KL: I mean, his rabbits, your grandfather's rabbits.

JO: No, I didn't even know... he must have had them somewhere else, because I don't know where they were growing.

KL: Where did he go when he left Manzanar?

JO: He went to Salt Lake City and he started his own business of making shoyu out of soybeans, and the stuff that's left, the mash that's left after you make soybeans, that's made into something else that's edible for Japanese people to eat. And he was doing that, and he made... I don't know how he did all this, but he also made the Japanese crackers, the sembei, the cookies. And what he did was he made the ones with the ginger flavored frosting on it, the covered, ginger flavored cover on it. He said that was something he... he was a really inventive person, but never had the money to make a success. But he had these ginger crackers, and they were so good, and now everybody has it. He was a, he said he made this himself, and he did something else himself, too, but I don't remember what. But I remember the ginger crackers, because they were so good. And he did that for a while, because it was a, I guess, a large enough population of Japanese there that he also made tofu.

KL: And this is in Salt Lake?

JO: Salt Lake City.

KL: Did he ever come back to California?

JO: Oh, yeah. I guess after his... he probably didn't take good care of his books or something, things catch up with you, and he had to come back but as a pauper, he came back to Los Angeles and he became a nuisance for my other grandparents, because they had to take care of him. [Laughs] Which they did, because my father, we were all in Chicago.

KL: Oh, he came back pretty quickly then?

JO: Yeah. Well, he was maybe in... let's see, we were in Chicago until 1952, so probably late '40s he went. Let's see, because 1950... we came back to L.A. in 1950 for my aunt's wedding, my aunt Irene got married. But we took the train, and I think going back we took the Union Pacific and got off at Salt Lake City. But I don't think my grandfather was there anymore, but some other friends were there.

KL: Did he say anything about the climate in Salt Lake City for Japanese people? It sounds like he had a market, to...

JO: Other friends went from Manzanar, they went to Salt Lake City to... my friend from Block 12, her family moved to Salt Lake City and they had a... they didn't have any problems there. I think mainly, I don't know why, but there were the prejudices they had in California.

KL: You mentioned on the phone when we talked, I think, that you remembered Bairs Creek.

JO: Oh, yes.

KL: Tell us about that.

JO: I thought Bairs Creek was far away from camp, and I thought we had to walk outside the gate and far away to get there. I didn't realize that it crisscrossed a quarter of the actual camp, and that's where we walked to. And it was... but I only went there a couple times, which was kind of sad for me, because I really liked going there and walking on the rocks and in the water. But I didn't go there very often.

KL: I got to see just a trickle of water in there a couple of days ago, it was the first time I had seen any water since I started working -- I mean, I'd never seen any water there.

JO: Well, maybe this was... there was a lot of water running there at that time. Water running down the rocks, and I remember sitting on a rock and putting my feet into the water. But it was for just a brief moment in my life there. I also climbed apple trees.

KL: Oh, yeah?

JO: We lived in Block 12, and then the next area was the apple orchards, so we always went up there and climbed the apple orchard trees.

KL: Did you pick apples?

JO: No, we didn't pick the apples. I don't know why we didn't pick 'em, but I guess I didn't really like eating apples all that much. Probably didn't like eating all that much. But I don't remember picking apples.

KL: But you liked climbing trees?

JO: Yeah, climb the tree and sit there and then jump down. It was something to do.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: So you are the poster girl on the front of the Ansel Adams reprint Born Free and Equal. And I wonder, I want to talk about that for a while and just, I guess, to start off, what do you remember about Ansel Adams and being photographed by him? What struck you about his presence?

JO: Well, I just remember that he was a man in a hat, and he had this camera. And he wanted his poses without any question, so I remember complaining to him about that one feature, "The sun's in my eye." He didn't pay any attention, he just let me sit there and then finally, I don't know, he must have taken a lot of different poses, I mean, pictures, but that one photograph he took, he must have really liked it, because he used that same picture in a textbook that he wrote a chapter for on developing negatives or something. So he was really concerned about how you develop a negative, and my picture was in there. And the reason I know that is my friend saw my picture and she actually showed it to her photography instructor. And this was at Cypress College in Cypress. He said, "Oh, I've seen that picture before," and he brought out the textbook. And my friend then went and looked for the textbook and bought it and gave it to me, so I have that book.

KL: Do you know how it happened that Ansel Adams connected with your mom and your sister?

JO: I have no idea, but my mother was saying it was probably Dr. Carter who recommended. Because she was very friendly with Dr. Carter. But it was fortunate for us, because of that experience, even afterward, many years down the road, when our photographs were used for exhibitions all over, it just made life more pleasant in remembering the days of Manzanar.

KL: In what sense? Can you talk a little about that?

JO: Well, because our pictures were taken by Ansel Adams, and he was so famous, and not very many people have that to look back on. And then to have... of course, he also captioned our names in the book, where a lot of the other people were anonymous. I think he only captioned one other person or two other people.

KL: How much time did you spend with him, or how long were these shoots? How many days?

JO: Oh, just one day, maybe an hour or two in one day. But actually, the one day that I have the same dress on, he took at different locations, so it must have been like a half a day, I don't know. Because I don't know how we got... we must have had to walk to all these places like the store, while he drove his car, I mean, his station wagon, he had a station wagon that he used for his supplies, I guess.

KL: Did he have a staff with him, any assistants?

JO: No, just himself.

KL: Was Ralph Merritt part of the photo shoots at all?

JO: He just went by himself. And when we went to the store, when we went to Merritt Park, where else did we go? Oh, the Toy Loan Center, I guess that was the other place. And then in front of our house, our unit.

KL: Do you know why those locations?

JO: That was just his choice. Oh, and then he also took my mother's picture doing the calisthenics, because I remember she said, oh, that probably was the next day because she had to get people down to the volleyball court, and she had to get a class down there.

KL: Where was it, the volleyball court?

JO: It was in the firebreak area where they're playing volleyball, the picture where they're playing volleyball, and she's standing on the sideline. You can't tell that it's her, but I can. She doesn't stand straight, she always stands a certain way, but she's doing the calisthenics. And Ansel Adams has that picture, too, I don't know, I thought it was somewhere also in his archives with all those pictures, but I didn't see it there, and I'm not sure. But I saw the picture actually, the Quaker Journal in 1992, the Quakers, Friends Journal that they put out has her picture there. So what I did was I took a picture of a picture to include in my PowerPoint.

KL: I'll have to look for that publication, the 1992 Friends Journal. Is it part of a larger story about Manzanar or about Japanese American removal?

JO: No, about the Quakers helping the Japanese, and it's different people writing their stories about how they helped. Because they were instrumental in getting a lot of people into colleges, three thousand students who had to leave college, they had them going to colleges in the Midwest and East Coast, mostly Quaker colleges, I guess, places where they would be acceptable, so they wouldn't have friction.

KL: Yeah, I remember places where they would be acceptable so they wouldn't have any friction. Yeah, I remember the first, 2012, the Manzanar pilgrimage, I didn't catch a lot because I was kind of just circulating, looking for health issues and stuff, but I do remember as part of the interfaith service, someone giving thanks for Quaker help. It's amazing how tie, how strong that impact was. I was impressed by that.

JO: Actually, in the JANM museum, they had a program all with the Quakers, and there was somebody from the Friends Service Committee came down and talked, and then handed out these journals. And I also go and speak to a seventh grade class at, it's called Los Angeles Academy, and the teacher that's teaching that class is Quaker, so I had him attend that, and he was very, he said that was wonderful. He had never known all of that information. So, you know, even the people who are Quakers don't know how much the American Friends Service Committee helped with the students, and how grateful they were. Some of them couldn't get transcripts, and I'm thinking that it must have been through the Quakers that people that went to SC and couldn't get their transcripts got them, because they went on to college, Dr... what's his name? Kleinschmidt or something, he would not allow transcripts to be released for the Japanese, because he thought that was aiding the enemy or something. Well, anyway, some of those people, they must have got it somehow, and I think it might have been the Quakers that got it for them. I'm assuming that because the Quakers...

KL: It'd be interesting to know.

JO: Yeah, the Quakers helped an awful lot. Yeah, it would be interesting to know, and if these people that went to SC and didn't finish and went on to finish their college education back east, it would be interesting to find out.

KL: Yeah, or if they had to just make some other way of demonstrating those. Did Ansel Adams come back to take photographs of your dad, or did I make that up?

JO: Yes, he did. He came back a second time, but I think it was in the spring of '44, and my father had already left for Chicago.

KL: Okay, so it never happened.

JO: It never happened. But he took pictures of us again. That's when he took a picture of me at the Block 12 garden, that's the time he took it of me there.

KL: So things hadn't changed, he still didn't care if you had to look into the sun or look the other way or whatever.

JO: I couldn't even look into the sun, I had to face the other way from the camera. But he wanted his poses a certain way, and so that was it.

KL: You don't recall the photography exhibit in Manzanar or the response to it?

JO: Oh, I wasn't there, we weren't there. We had left before the exhibit. I think the exhibit was after, because we left in July of '44.

KL: And you didn't hear anything about it showing in the Museum of Modern Art or any response to that?

JO: No.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: You told me about an interaction you had with Ansel Adams when you were an adult? Would you tell that story?

JO: Oh, yes.

KL: Would you tell that story?

JO: Well, I wanted to buy... first of all, my mother bought three copies of Born Free and Equal, and they were a dollar each, from Ansel Adams, and she ordered some photographs, of which I lost track of now. I can't believe I lost track of them. But after she moved for so many different places, we just, her stuff got all messed up. But these three books were magazine format, they were really, some of them were written in, because my mother loaned it out to people, and my mother was like... they're all falling apart. So actually, one never got returned, and there was two left. And that would have been one for my sister and one for me, because she wasn't gonna get it. Anyway, so I did have this one raggedy copy, but it wasn't mine yet, because my mother didn't give it to me. This was in '83, 1983. In '81 I had gone to Washington, D.C., and I heard that the archives was selling the Ansel Adams book for two hundred and fifty dollars each, and there was only one copy left, and I figured, by the time I would ask for it, it would be gone. So I decided I would write to Ansel Adams and see if he had any extra copies. So I wrote this letter to him asking him if he had any extra copies, and he wrote back a nice letter to me, oh, I should have brought it, I didn't bring it.

KL: I took pictures of it last time.

JO: Oh, you did? Okay. I have this letter that he returned to me saying that he's sorry he didn't have any extra copies, and the book is a very book, and he gave his copies to the University of Arizona archives. But would I accept a picture? So I got a photograph of him, autographed photograph, of myself signed by Ansel Adams. And I showed that to a high school photography teacher, because I worked at the high school in Los Alamitos, and she says, "Oh my gosh, that is so valuable." And I said, "But it's of me." [Laughs] She said, "Doesn't make any difference, it's an Ansel Adams photograph. It is valuable." Well, I didn't believe it, but I knew that I went to one of his exhibits where his, some of his photographs were selling for twenty and thirty thousand dollars, and it's not worth that much. But that was when I was teaching, working at the high school, which was 2005, and, but my son, he wanted to buy the picture that the Fresno museum put up for sale on eBay, I guess, or Amazon, somewhere. They put it up for sale anyway, so he goes, "Mom, I'm going to buy you your photograph." And he went to ask, and he found out it was fifteen thousand dollars. [Laughs] And he says, "I don't think I can afford that," so he just gave me the copy, the printed copy that was on, in the catalog. He says, "This is," and he framed it, "this is in place of that photograph."

KL: Was that before you had written to Ansel Adams?

JO: No, it was after. No, Ansel Adams died in 1984, so this was in '83 that I wrote. And my son did this in 1999. He didn't know that I had this photograph, because he was never that interested in all my doings. So he didn't know I had the photograph, but he did this when he was, this was in... well, shortly after the Fresno museum had their exhibit and then they put all the photographs on sale.

KL: How was it writing a letter to Ansel Adams?

JO: Oh, well, I just... I had to hunt for his address, and I don't know how I happened to find it. But I found it and then I just wrote a letter. But it was, I think it was handwritten, I wrote a handwritten letter to him. But he typed his letter, of course, back to me. His secretary, Mary, typed it. But I think I might have typed it. I didn't have a computer in those days. We had a computer, but it's not the kind that, with word processing.

KL: When people that you don't know very well, or even people that you do, when they connect you to that book initially, do they have any kind of a response to that? How do people react to your connection to that project?

JO: Well, they're happy. I guess happy is the one thing. Because it was so long ago, but my very latest experience at doing just that thing, I was at the museum for member appreciation day, and we get twenty percent off of whatever we buy. So I'm buying all this stuff, and then I finally told the cashier, I said, "See that book up there?" Because it's right up there, I said, "That's me." She said, "Oh, my gosh," you know, surprised. So that was my very latest experience at doing that. But I try to do that whenever I'm at Manzanar and I talk about it, people go and rush and buy the book. Or if people come by and they hear about it, because I bring a book and I display it there and I say, "No, it's not for sale, you have to go and buy it at the store."

KL: I brag on it sometimes, too, I tell people, "I've met that lady." It's kind of unusual because I don't know whether to say, "I've met that girl," or, "I've met that woman."

JO: "I've met that girl, she's now an old bag." It's been many years now.

KL: You wrote an essay, a short essay that's on the fly of the reprint.

JO: Yes, uh-huh.

KL: How did that happen?

JO: How did it happen? Well, Wynne Benti became very friendly to me, because we talked back and forth, and every time she came down I would meet her for lunch or dinner. And she just said, "You want to write something?" and so I said, "Oh, I can." I had written different things, you know, just different essays for her. And then she said, "Oh, I think..." and then she told me what I should do, and then I wrote that about my father, because my father was not in the book. And I wanted to write about my father and about the dresses. I never asked my father if he read that, you know, I never asked my dad. Oh, it came out after he died, that's the problem. He died in 1999, and the book was published in 2000, right? Yeah, so that's why he never knew. He never knew about the dresses, I never told him.

KL: It's hard to know.

JO: I don't even know if my mother read it, although we all had copies and we had her sign copies of it, all the family members.

KL: Did she keep in touch with Dr. Carter at all?

JO: No, I don't think so. I don't know, she may have, you know, they might have exchanged Christmas cards and things like that. Because that's what my father and Henry Fukuhara, they exchanged Christmas cards. And you know, Henry Fukuhara used to draw these really nice Christmas cards, I threw them all out. I should have saved some of it. But they remained friends and went to family gatherings. My father went to his family gatherings, his anniversary parties and things like that. My parents didn't have anything like that. Oh, they did have, they did have a fiftieth anniversary party.

KL: The workshop, the Fukuhara workshop is a really neat event. He's got a lot of legacy.

JO: Yeah, he does.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: So this is actually kind of related to that, and it's not surprising, but when I was flipping through Born Free and Equal the first time, I noticed that Ansel Adams talks a lot about the mountains and the valley, and he uses this really poetic imagery sort of to describe it. And I know you had a reaction, kind of strong reaction to the mountains when you were there as a girl, and I wonder if you would share what the mountains meant to you or what you thought about them.

JO: Well I really didn't pay too much attention to them other than they were huge, tall mountains, that we were surrounded by mountains on both sides, and that we couldn't escape. That's what I thought. And it wasn't until later on that I could appreciate the beauty of the Sierras and Mt. Williamson, but at that time, they just looked like mountains, two very tall mountains that we couldn't escape. I don't know why I was thinking of escaping when I was a little kid, but I really... that's what I thought. And then I remember being told on the other side of the other mountain was Death Valley, so that was not a good place to go to either. And the other thing, I don't know if I mentioned this before, that we were told what to be afraid of, what to look out for, is rattlesnakes and scorpions. Well, I knew what a rattlesnake looked like, or what snakes looked like, but I had no idea what a scorpion looked like. So when school time came around, what they had us do, what I remember is that they had us draw a scorpion and a snake. So that's how I learned what a scorpion looked like.

KL: Was there a model for you to follow?

JO: Well, they drew it, I think, the teacher drew it, or somebody drew it.

KL: I'm sad, I thought that there was gonna be this picture of this beast of what you imagined the scorpion to be. What did you think they were before you saw that picture?

JO: I don't know, some huge bug. And then it turned out to be this little thing. [Laughs]

KL: Did you have any interactions with snakes or scorpions?

JO: No.

KL: You mentioned the rabbits, were there any other animals that you recall from...

JO: Well, my grandfather had a dog. When he returned to Manzanar, I don't know how he did it, but he got his dog that lived, I think he had the friend bring up the dog, the next door neighbor, they were really good friends, and brought up his dog. So he had his dog there and his bicycle, and he rode the bicycle with the dog in the basket all around. Or the dog would sometimes just run behind the bicycle, but he went all over like that. And I'm thinking, "That's really strange."

KL: When do you think that was?

JO: Huh?

KL: When do you think the friend brought those things?

JO: I have no idea, but you know, pretty soon Grandpa had his dog. And it must have been right away, because my grandfather, looking at his records, he was able to negotiate roofing, new roofing on his property, he had property all over. Negotiate roofing on his property, and if he had flooding or something, he would be able to go and take care of that. So somehow or other, he was able to leave the camp. [Drops something] Whoops.

KL: Oh, this was your maternal grandfather who was arrested?

JO: Yeah.

KL: Was he any different when he came back to Manzanar than you remembered?

JO: No, I don't really remember, because... I don't really remember, but I think he was the same. I don't know, I would hate to think that he was beaten or anything like that. Oh, the other thing I never told people, and I don't really like to tell people is about the typhoid shots?

KL: Do you want us to stop recording?

JO: No, not really. No, because it shows what kind of stubborn person I am. [Laughs] I had my own mind. Everybody had to have typhoid shots, so we're all lined up. I said, "I'm not going to get a shot." I took off running around the barrack, and, of course, I got caught. I made my sister run with me, I said, "Come on, let's run." She got caught first, and then I got caught. So we both had to get our shots, but I made that effort.

KL: Did any other kids follow?

JO: No, just my sister and me.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: So did you ever hear anything from your grandfather about what his time away was like?

JO: No.

KL: You said he was in Missoula for most of it?

JO: That is my one regret. My grandfather, although he came over at age nineteen with just Japanese, and the education that he got in Japan, he spoke, at the time that I would have been able to ask him, he spoke Spanish and English. And I could have asked him anything and asked him, and I didn't. And I just regret not asking him about what happened in Missoula, Montana, and how he ever came over to Los Angeles and what he did and how he made his fortune. I mean, I'm assuming a lot from what my mother said and all of that, but nothing is really from what I learned from him directly, how he was able to buy all this property. Did he put it in his children's names, like because of the alien land law?

KL: But those were enacted in the teens, so he may have...

JO: No. When he came in 1899, he had to work his way... he leased property, and he was in Pasadena then, that's where my mother was born, Pasadena. But that was 1909, he could have had property then. But the other property that he had, he had property on Normandie (Ave.) and Thirty-fifth Street. His home was Twenty-seventh Street. And something that I really did not know enough information about. Even my father, I could have asked him more. I did get a lot of information from my father, but my grandfather is the missing link. And, of course, his papers, I figured if they interviewed him like they interviewed my father and got his information about his grammar school and high school, where he went and all of that, if I had that kind of information about my grandfather, that would be really helpful. But I can't find any of it. Went through Freedom of Information Act, camps, all sorts of...

KL: Yeah, channels.

JO: ...channels. And whatever file they referred to whenever the person that I had looking for me at the facility over in Laguna Hills, said all the folders were empty, not a paper there.

KL: That's weird. We should talk more about that maybe afterwards, because I don't know, there might be some other...

JO: You know Aiko Herzig the researcher? I asked her if she could help, but I don't think she can. Because I've tried all the channels that she knows and got nowhere. So the only other one that I was told that it would be the immigration files.

KL: Yeah, the alien case files stuff is what I was thinking of.

JO: Yeah, the case files.

KL: But Aiko Herzig would probably be knowledgeable about those. One more question about Manzanar and then if there's anything you want to add before your move, and my last question about it is what were nighttimes like at Manzanar? We don't hear as much about that.

JO: Nighttime? Well, nighttime I had to go to sleep, you know, I was young, and my mother made me go to sleep because I had to get up to go to school. But there was nothing to do at night, that's the other thing. After you eat, you play a little bit, and it gets dark and you go to bed, or you, maybe you have to take a bath or a shower. I don't even remember when I took baths or showers, whether they were in the morning or the evening or the afternoon. But we all had that Japanese ofuro.

KL: Oh, you did?

JO: Yeah.

KL: In Block 12?

JO: We had that, so we would take a shower and then go to the ofuro and get nice and warm, then walk back to your unit.

KL: How did people decide what times people would be able to use the ofuro and stuff? Is there any kind of system?

JO: I think... I don't really know if it was a schedule or anything. I think if you just were there and took a shower, you could go in, and the water was always warm, which was kind of amazing considering how they had to heat it up.

KL: I guess I lied, I do have one more question about Manzanar, and that's, you know, people sometimes talk about their families, either bonds kind of strengthening, or more often kind of dissipating because of the living conditions. What effect do you think Manzanar had on your family dynamic?

JO: Well, because we were so young, that did not affect our family. Our family always went to eat together, my mother and my sister and myself, we never went running around with friends to eat. And we always stayed together, my mother was very strict about that, and made me eat my food. My sister would eat anything, and I would not. I was very stubborn. If I didn't want to take a bite of food, I would sit there for an hour, she would make me sit there and finally give up because I wouldn't eat. So anyway, it didn't affect our family at all.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

Off camera: Do you recall anything about the "loyalty questionnaire" and your family discussing it or talking about it?

JO: That's an interesting question. I didn't hear about it directly, but when my parents went to request permission to leave, because they had to request permission to leave the camp, I think part of it was signing that "loyalty questionnaire." My father was approved, fine, he could go, but my mother wasn't. And the reason was that her father was arrested, because she was loyal, there was no question about her being loyal, she was also a citizen. But they would not approve of her permission to leave until she went through further interrogation, so they asked her more questions, talked to her, I guess, I don't know. And then finally she got approved. But until she was approved, my father would not leave. She had to be approved to leave before he would leave. So once she got approved to leave, then he went first, he went and got a trip to New York, a one-way ticket to New York and twenty-five dollars, and he went to New York and found a job that would take him to Chicago. So the job then took him to Chicago and he went and settled there in Chicago and called for us, and then we went after school was out. So we went in July, in July of '44, I think it was July of '44, because we were there when August, you know, the VJ Day, August 6th.

KL: In '45?

JO: Yeah.

KL: But you went to Chicago in '44?

JO: Yeah. There was something that happened in August of '44, and I think it was called VJ Day. It was something to do with the attacking of Japan, just like VE Day was attacking of Europe.

KL: Did your dad have some sponsorship or some organization that helped him get to New York?

JO: This friend of his that worked at the Public Works, I guess he had gone earlier to New York, and he sponsored him, but he didn't really need the sponsor because he stayed at the Y and then I think that's what it was, I was reading his records. And he moved to Chicago, got a job on his own, but that was the only thing about the questionnaire and being questioned about your loyalty and whether they could leave camp. Because actually, that loyalty questionnaire was supposedly a questionnaire to, for the application to leave camp.

KL: Right, that's what the intended purpose was. It's interesting because I found this quote in Born Free and Equal attributed to your mom, saying, "I'm glad my faith in America is strong enough to stand the test of evacuation." And I'm curious, we'll wrap up this tape with this question about what do you think was responsible for her faith in this country?

JO: Well, she lived a comfortable life in this country, because her father was wealthy, she went to SC, graduated in 1931, and she just... she had a car to drive when she was young. She didn't have it anymore when she got married, but she just had a very nice life, I think. If you talked to somebody else, maybe a farmer's wife or even like Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's mother, they had a completely different life than our family.


KL: So you guys had determined to... this is tape three of a December 2, 2013, interview with Joyce Okazaki. And we left you kind of in Chicago, where you guys had just relocated, and I wonder what you found when you arrived there. Where did you go in Chicago and what did you think of it?

JO: Well, my first impression, my father had rented a one-room above a bar on Clark and Division for us to live there, because there was a housing shortage. So we stayed there for a month while they looked for other places, and because there was a housing shortage, Chicago, the city of Chicago I guess opened up this tenement type place and had it, it was sort of condemned, but they repainted the inside. And one of the units was still available, so my parents took it and we moved there. This was 1007 Oakley Boulevard, Chicago. It's no longer there. University of Illinois, Chicago, took over that whole area, I guess. But we lived there and we went to elementary school, my sister and I. And because the school system, the public school system in Chicago was very poor, we went to parochial schools. My mother, I don't know if she knew the reputation of the public schools, but just from talking to the other parents, because actually, this tenement building was also filled with friends and relatives from Manzanar, so go figure. I never did figure that out. But anyway...

KL: What was the rest of the neighborhood surrounding?

JO: The rest was Italian, mostly Italian, and some Polish and Irish at school, but it was mostly an Italian neighborhood. Italian stores, pizza stores, grocery stores with the cheese hanging, and things like that, typical Italian. And the women, mothers hanging out the door, windows, and yelling at their kids, swearing, it's fun. Anyway, we went to parochial school because my mother always was concerned with our education even though I don't really think she was aware of it, but she was, because we also went to, I went to a private high school, Catholic high school there. The public high school in my neighborhood was like the Blackboard Jungle high school, you know, Up the Down Staircase. I don't know if you saw any of those old movies, but it's with the students throwing tomatoes at the teachers and at the walls, kids talking back.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: That's what public school was like in Chicago?

JO: Uh-huh, yeah. It wasn't very good in those days. Anyway, that's what I heard. Because we had lots of that stuff even in our -- kids would run through the halls of our tenement building and throw food, tomatoes and things, so there was stuff all over the walls. Even when it was newly painted the kids would do that.

KL: Were they kids from within the tenement building?

JO: No, it was from the neighborhood. So that's what we did, and we walked to school. And close by was a juvenile detention center, and it was split into two buildings with a walkway in between, and we would walk right through that as a shortcut or as a longcut, however, we felt walking through the detention center with all those kids, the naughty kids.

KL: Did you interact with each other or were they closed off?

JO: They would yell things at us, and we'd just yell back. But I don't know, I was not... I was always a good kid, so I never did any of that. I would just walk quietly. But we would always walk in a group, either because of other people that went to school, we all, all the kids went to the same school. We didn't go to the public school, we went to the parochial school.

KL: Was it predominately Japanese American?

JO: Uh-huh, in the building, Japanese.

KL: It was in your apartment building?

JO: Yeah, but the school was all Catholics, Caucasians, Catholics. We were the, mostly non-Catholic. But we kind of went along with the, whatever we were supposed to do. Like when they required everybody to attend mass, we would go.

KL: But the school was physically located in your apartment building?

JO: No, no, no.

KL: Oh, I see.

JO: We had to walk to school. It was about ten blocks away.

KL: And you said the school was mostly Caucasian and then you guys. How did that go?

JO: Oh, it went fine. I never encountered any prejudice in Chicago. Not from the students, they didn't know what I was, or who I was, or how I happened to get there, because all of a sudden I appeared in sixth grade. But they didn't treat me any differently, they were very friendly. I didn't get invited to sleepovers or anything like that, though, but I don't know if they had that kind of thing in those days.

KL: Was sixth grade the highest level in that school?

JO: No, it went to eighth grade. Elementary school was K through 8, and high school was nine through twelve, so that's what I did. But I did come back in 1946.

KL: Did you live anywhere else in Chicago?

JO: Later on.

KL: Oh, I'm sorry, you said 1946 you came back?

JO: Yeah.

KL: Okay.

JO: 1946 we came back to Los Angeles to see, visit my... my mother wanted to see her family, actually. But we stayed at my grandparents' house, because it was a large, lovely house, and they had a TV, they had all these nice things that we didn't... I don't know if they had TV in '46. They certainly had it in 1950, we came back in '50 again. But in '46 we stayed for like four months. So I went to Mt. Vernon junior high school, and I was in seventh grade there.

KL: Did your folks consider just staying, do you think?

JO: My mother came with... my father was in Chicago. My father, my mother came with the two of us, and we went to school. She was in second grade and I was seventh grade.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: So how long did you stay in Chicago?

JO: We stayed until 1952 when my father was transferred. He asked for a transfer, and they finally granted him a transfer to work in Los Angeles, which made my mother very happy, because she'd finally get to go home to her family, be with her family. Her mother, father, sisters, brother.

KL: So did everybody from your mother's family end up back in California?

JO: Eventually. But two of the sisters came out to Chicago, and my aunt Kimi, and my aunt Sally. My aunt Sally was married in camp.

KL: Did you attend?

JO: Yeah.

KL: Where was the wedding?

JO: At the Catholic church. Her husband was Catholic, so they got married at the Catholic church. And actually my mother made, I think she made... well, she made their hats, I know she made their hats, and I don't know if she made their gowns. She may have made their gowns.

KL: Who is her husband?

JO: My aunt's husband was Mas Okabe, the Okabe family, that's another group that was there in Manzanar.

KL: Yeah. I know a different Mas Okabe, that's interesting. Okay.

JO: Mas Okabe, well, you mean... he owned a fish store after the war.

KL: And they went to Chicago also?

JO: Yes, for a brief time, and then he came back to L.A. They all actually returned to L.A. You know, when everybody was able to return back to L.A., they all went back.

KL: What was your dad's job?

JO: He was a draftsman for American Brake Shoe.

KL: And that's what he started in New York?

JO: Well, he got the job in New York and they transferred him to Chicago and paid his way back to Chicago, because, of course, he didn't have any money. [Laughs] And then he went to work, and he worked there until he retired, for American Brake Shoe, but that was in Los Angeles. It was a larger company in Chicago. What American Brake Shoe did, really couldn't understand. He would draw, he would be drafting, drawing, the frogs and switches for railroads. What? Never knew what it meant, but...

KL: Yeah, brake shoes are weird.

JO: So it's the frogs and switches for the railroad tracks that he would draw.

KL: What was it like for you to be back living in California?

JO: For me, we skipped over a lot of my life in Chicago, because, see, after I graduated high school I went to the University of Illinois, Navy Pier, for a year. So I was a college student. And then I transferred to UCLA. And, of course, I wanted to go to SC, but we didn't have the money, so I went to UCLA. And UCLA charged non-resident fees at that time, so my father objected to that, and he asked for an appeal, and they said, "Well, you didn't come back soon enough." But you know, a lot of it has to do with whether you have a job or not, so he wanted to make sure he had a job. So I had to pay non-resident fee for a year, which was two hundred dollars a year, two hundred dollars. And tuition, of course, was free in those days. So if you had to pay the resident, non-resident fee of a hundred and ninety-nine dollars a semester, it was quite a bit of money. I think it was a semester, must have been a semester.

KL: So did you graduate from UCLA?

JO: Yes, I graduated from UCLA.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: What were some of the kind of milestones of the rest of your life? I know you had jobs, I know you were married.

JO: Well, when I graduated from UCLA, I kind of delayed my graduation because I would have been twenty years old when I graduated, because of my skipping of the grades and stuff, and my birthday being in July. So I thought I'm going to wait until I'm twenty-one. And so I waited until I was twenty-one to graduate, so I graduated a little bit later than my normal, took me a little longer. But I also majored in business administration, and it's a BS degree. And for a BS degree, you're required 128 units, and I only had 120, so I had to go for another semester, eight more units. And I didn't want to go through summer school, so they stressed going to summer school, so I graduated. And when I went to look for work, because I was a business administration major, I couldn't really type that well, they immediately would give me a, hand me a sheet of paper and, "Go take a typing test." And, of course, I wouldn't do well. I could type thirty-five words a minute, I couldn't type the sixty or sixty-five required. So then when I applied for a junior administrative assistant, that was not available to me, because I was a female. And then I was Japanese, so a lot of companies wouldn't even look at a Japanese application. So I went all over applying and didn't get jobs.

So I finally applied for an accounting clerk job. I went to, I think I went to an employment agency, got sent to apply for accounting clerk job, and this life insurance company, Pacific Mutual... I don't know if it was Life... Fire Insurance. I think it was some kind of insurance, insurance, and I worked as an accounting clerk. But the guy sitting next to me was working as an accounting clerk but making a hundred dollars more per month. I thought this was unfair. But in the meantime I had applied for civil service, because I figured that if I went to work for civil service, I would get equal pay for equal work, and no discrimination on my sex or my gender or my nationality. The only problem was I wasn't a veteran, but I didn't know that at that time. So anyway, after working at this insurance company for three months, I already arranged to work for civil service, Department of Employment, they had this position called Employment Security Trainee, and they said, "If you have a degree you're qualified, or you have so many years of work." So I said I'll apply for that, and I applied for that. And the salary was a little bit more than I was getting. So when I quit this other job, I told them that I'm not getting the same pay as the guy, so I'm leaving. I didn't tell them I was getting another job. So I just told them, "I'm not getting equal pay for equal work, so I'm leaving."

And then I went on to my career as an employment security officer, which is handling unemployment insurance claims. But this was... things were so different in those days. We worked at the counter or you worked at a desk, people came in to apply for work, you review their application, you could send people out to work. And if you worked on the unemployment insurance side, and you got six months' training on each side, so unemployment insurance and employment security. Employment security meaning looking at applications and classifying them according to their work experience. And then the other one was unemployment insurance, see if they were qualified for unemployment insurance. After a couple of shootings with crazy people, they discontinued all of that, and everything was by mail. And they do have employment security, but I don't think it's like it used to be, where we have counseling, and there used to be testing with general aptitude test battery. So my career after that had to do with that kind of work, general aptitude test batteries and validating aptitudes required for certain occupations.

KL: So you stayed in that field for a career?

JO: Yeah. I worked at the department for thirteen years, but two of those years I spent working on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and revising it. They were updating it from the 1939 version to the 1952 version, and so we were sent to Washington, D.C. for three weeks of training, and then I came back and we would write, we'd interview people in their workplace, observe them working, and then write descriptions and classify them according to data, people, and... things, data and people. I still remember that.

KL: Thirteen years.

JO: Yeah, I did that for... I did it for two years, but that was a really interesting assignment, and it involved a little more mental capacity than the stuff in the office, and it was just really... it's the same thing over and over, especially when it's paying out claims. They actually had people, less of a clerical staff do the paying out later on.

KL: And what about family? You said your husband was also in Manzanar. When did you meet?

JO: I didn't meet him until quite a bit later. I was living... my parents had an apartment, so I was living in one of the units. And my mother's friend, next door neighbor, who is, incidentally, was a class of '44 graduate of Manzanar, Terry Tsubota, I don't know if you know her. She's... she was part of the class of '44, she always goes to the Manzanar reunions, school reunions.

KL: I'll look for her.

JO: Terry... I don't remember, Terry something. Anyway, she was a friend of my husband's sister, who lived in the neighborhood, they're about the same age. No, they're not, she was a lot older. She's older. This is my husband's younger sister, so she was a lot younger, a lot younger than me. She told Terry that she had a brother who was coming to L.A., but he lived in New York, and he was coming to L.A. to live, and so did she know anybody? Said, yeah, the next door neighbors has a daughter, and that was me. So eventually my mother and Terry fixed me up with Terry's (friend's) brother, who was (James Okazaki). So that's how I met.

KL: It worked out.

JO: Yeah, I met him in November of 1962.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Where in here did you start to realize that your Manzanar experience was unique? I mean, you were a child when you were in Manzanar, and now you're a member of the Manzanar Committee, so I assume at some point...

JO: Oh, it was a long ways after that.

KL: ...your thinking changed.

JO: Actually, I didn't know anything, I did not know anything about what was going on. I got married in 1963, so it was before all of that, the pilgrimage started, even. I was not... I read about Warren Furutani in my mother's Rafu Shimpo, my mother used to get it, but I never really knew anything about it. I know he was kind of a rabble rouser, but that's all I knew. I didn't really follow along with what anybody did. And not until Wynne Benti wanted to reprint the book, did I even think anything about it. She contacted me and needed to get my approval, and so that's how that happened. And then she was telling me that, "Oh, I might not put your picture on it," and I said, "Well, that's fine. If you don't, that's okay. It doesn't make any difference to me one way or the other." Then when I saw how nice the book was, I felt kind of like obligated to do something. But still, you know, I didn't do anything.

But before that, before the book came out, I think it was in the pilgrimage of 2000, my father had passed away, and my son said, "I want to take Grandma to Manzanar," out of the clear blue. "I'm going to take her on this, to the pilgrimage."

KL: Had any of you been back?

JO: No. I wasn't even interested in going. "Okay, okay, I'll go with you." So, well, I would have to go with her, so we went. My father had passed away in April of 1999, so I don't think it was in April of 1999, because it was the first year that they started to honor all the camps. So the first camp was Amache, and the very last... Amache and the last camp, which was... which was the last letter of the alphabet? Tule Lake?

KL: Oh, probably. Probably Tule Lake.

JO: Tule Lake. Yeah, so I think it was Amache and Tule Lake. And she was at Keiro at that time, living at the retirement home. One of the board members was Tom Shigekuni, and he was from Amache. And so he, my mother, she loved talking to everybody, so she talked to him, and she was going to go to Manzanar, to the pilgrimage, and he said he was going to be there, he was going to be speaking about Amache. He says, so he says, "I'll look for you." So we went to the pilgrimage, and Tom shouts out from the stage, "One of the people that was here, she's a PE teacher, she's here. Is Yae Nakamura here?" (we shouted). "Yeah." And so then the park rangers came to her and wanted to talk to her, but after that pilgrimage, they didn't contact her at all. So time passed, she's no longer here. That was from 2000... she was all right to answer questions for a long time. Her memory was really good, and then that became, after about ninety-five, she was like ninety-one then.

KL: What was your son's response to being at Manzanar?

JO: Oh, it was just a plain desert area. We did stop by Block 12, the foundation there, we looked at the foundation, we checked things out. He took us all around, we drove all around, and we went to, even to Independence to see the museum there. And I think, on the way back, maybe even before we went, we also stopped and looked at the auditorium, and we talked to the rangers that were there, said, "Boy, this place really looks a mess." Because in 2000 it was really a mess, all kinds of stuff all over, everything looked really dilapidated. But, see, he's never been back.

KL: Your son? You were at the opening of the interpretive center and the auditorium, and I wonder about your memories of that day.

JO: Oh, I just really marvel at how wonderful it was, because the last time I had seen it, it looked so bad, so shabby looking.

KL: So was that your next time back, was in 2004?

JO: Yes. I don't think I came back after that.

KL: What was the mood?

JO: Well, I came with some friends... see, I really wasn't a dedicated Manzanar Committee member then. I had joined and I had done a few things, but I came with friends who wanted to see Manzanar, Caucasian friends. So we did, we looked all over, we went all over and looked, and it was very nice. I didn't really pay attention to the pilgrimage too much, I'm afraid. But I remember the book being out, you know, the book was out.

KL: When did you become... when and how did you become more involved with the Manzanar Committee?

JO: After that. After 2004, I... well, you know, there was a panel set up, I think, at Manzanar, or was it at the museum?

KL: There was a panel sometime around there at the museum.

JO: At the museum?

KL: I don't know if it's the same one.

JO: I think it was 2003, and I remember Dr. Hansen was... maybe that was afterward. There was an earlier one with Sue Embrey on the panel, and it was at the, I remember it was at the old museum part, it was at the old part of the museum. There was another one at the newer part with Dr. Hansen. But I just really did not do anything about the Committee until after 2004. I started going, and I started to see that Sue's health was failing, you know, she was getting weak. And so I thought, well, I'd better help a little bit, felt kind of bad, I wasn't doing anything hardly. Well, I was still working then, still worked until 2008. Until 2008 I just really attended meetings and stayed on the sidelines, and when I worked at the high school, I started talking to the classes there, world history class, and then the librarian there put my PowerPoint together. She dug up all the photographs from the archives, the Library of Congress archives, or our... what's that other one? The other one.

KL: The California one?

JO: Bancroft, the Bancroft Library.

KL: What school were you at?

JO: Los Alamitos High School. I still go there, and once a year they have me come and talk to all their history classes, and I've increased it to two teachers now, but they've been my loyal group. Most of the others don't care to have me back, I guess. But anyway, they have used my...

KL: What's been the response to those presentations? Are there any memorable questions students have asked or responses that stand out? How do people react?

JO: The kids, the kids all... they seem to really be interested, especially when I show them a PowerPoint, you see the pictures, the old pictures. I also, because I like to preface things with the background, I showed this video clip I took from a documentary that I won't name, and it really, in a short period of time, talks about how we were not able to, how Japanese were not able to become citizens, about the alien land law and about the exclusion act, and then EO 9066. And so I showed that to them, but I noticed that a lot of kids would sleep during this period. So I said, "You know what? I'm going to talk about it instead." Well, they sleep through it anyway. Some kind of will just put their head down and fall asleep. But anyway, I have since spread to other areas like the Los Angeles Academy with my Quaker teacher friend, who became a friend... I also helped him with getting money subsidized for a school bus, he's the one that drives the school bus up to the pilgrimage. And the kids just love it, they love going on the school bus. But they liked it even better when the bus broke down.

KL: I was gonna ask, they weren't the ones who broke down, were they? Oh.

JO: Well, a different class broke down, but they got to ride the coach. And when I went back to talk to them, they said, "We really like the bus we were taking to Manzanar." But then they had to wait a really long time for their bus to come for them.

KL: They did. Yeah, I felt guilty leaving the building that day, I recall that, because it took them a couple more hours.

JO: Yeah, seven o'clock or seven-thirty.

KL: Is it the first time most of the students have hears about this, or are they pretty knowledgeable?

JO: No, they've been coming. Every time you see the school bus there, they've been coming. And I think this year is the third year, because the first year I taught, he sent a bus, he went up with a bus, and I had asked the Manzanar Committee to donate money. And they also had applied for a grant. They got the money for the grant, but they didn't give the money to the guy because I then had my problem with my breast cancer, and I couldn't be there, and they didn't give him the money. They charged him, they gave him three hundred dollars, and they charged him two hundred dollars for lunch, so that left him a hundred dollars, and the school bus cost him nine hundred, and he used his own money out of pocket. Oh, he got some money from one of the city council people that was two hundred and fifty dollars, so he then used the rest of the balance from his money. So I was kind of upset with that, especially after they got the grant, and they didn't give him the money. And I didn't know, you know, I didn't realize that, I didn't keep track of it because of my health problems. So anyway, then after...

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: I want to back up for just a moment. You have mentioned Sue Embrey, and I wanted to ask you about her, just what, how you knew her, what stood out about her, would you give us kind of a description of her, what she was like?

JO: Unfortunately, I met her... well, I met her at the panel discussion at the museum in 2003, or 2002. It was when the book first came out, I think it was 2002, but I really didn't say anything to her. And so... but when I went to the committee meetings, she really was too, not too well in 2005. In late 2004, 2005, in time for the next pilgrimage, and so she wasn't really all that well, and never talked to me.

KL: What about in 2002? What stood out about her in those panel...

JO: She was really, you know what stood out most was Archie Miyatake talking too much. He really liked to ramble on, and I would really rather have heard her talk, but she had very little to say as compared to Archie. So it was kind of like, uhhh.

KL: Yeah. She's someone I'm so curious about, I never met her.

JO: But you know, you can see her interview online. But she was always a very soft-spoken, and but I think she was also very determined, too. Because I attribute Manzanar being in the National Park system to her, because of her insistence. If she had let California run the program, it would have probably been nowhere near what it is now. And, of course, all through the nation, I mean, all throughout the camps, all the camps that are now part of National Park, all because of her and her insistence, right? It's really true, it's true. And, of course, if you talk to Bruce Embrey, he's actually the best authority about his mother.

KL: I hope to someday have a long conversation with him about her.

JO: Well, I keep telling... and you know this pilgrimage is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the interpretive center. So I said it is a very good time to honor her for her thinking, for her forward thinking, but I don't know what's gonna happen, because I'm not that influential with the Manzanar Committee, I don't know if you heard all of my problems.

KL: I haven't, I'm not sure... you can share them if you want to, or we can talk later.

JO: I don't care who knows, because I really feel like I want to continue what Sue Embrey started when she used the terms "concentration camp" to refer to our, where we were. She said it's, it was a concentration camp, and she wrote an essay on it. But I also, before I even read that essay, I had read Lost and Found (by Karen Ishizuka).

KL: Michi Weglyn?

JO: No, no, no. I read Michi Weglyn's book also, I did a lot of this research work, and coming up with my essay on the use of the term "concentration camp," which was on the blog. And so this last... you know, after we, okay, so JACL then put out The Power of Words, and we adopted it, I mean, we went along with it, we said we approved, this is a good thing to have, a documentation of uniformity of words, that we won't use the term "internment" anymore, "internee." Refers to alien, "enemy aliens" in a time of war, and we were citizens. I was not an "internee." So with the last pilgrimage, I reviewed the DVD that our videographer took, and the emcee used the term constantly. And, in fact, emphasized it: "internee." Excuse me. And something that we had discussed, I mean, discussed all along. And Bruce is very adamant on using the correct terminology also. So I brought it up at the meeting, that I thought it was not appropriate for us to use this after all of our discussions about this sort of thing. Well, some of the committee people did not like what I said, mainly the person who said the words. [Laughs] Plus somebody else who doesn't do very much for the committee, I don't even know why she's on the committee. But some people were very vocal and think that I was out of place, and I really don't think so. And so I stand my ground, and I don't need to be very involved with the committee if they're going to be that way. So that's mainly what the beef is about.


KL: I've caught you at an interesting time, obviously.

JO: Yeah, and no matter what I say, if I put out a little memo about when we're going to meet, all this criticism comes back, like what's the criticism about a memo? "Oh, you're confusing the issue," excuse me. We're going to, not willingly, but we're being co-sponsors of that Block 14 project, songfest, the community songfest, I don't know if you're going.


KL: So we just took a quick break, and Joyce was, we were talking about prompts to get involved in Manzanar and preservation and stuff. And we were saying that the reprint of Born Free and Equal was one, and then Joyce was going to tell us another thing.

JO: Well, it got me to thinking was, when I went to the pilgrimage in 2000, we went to visit the Independence Museum, and Rose Ochi was there. I didn't really know her, I just knew of her, and she said to me, "You have got to get involved." I don't know why, but it just got me thinking.

KL: You don't have any idea why?

JO: No. I have no idea. But, you know, when somebody says that to you, you start thinking, anyway, I did. "What did she mean by that, I've got to get involved?" And I thought maybe she meant the Manzanar Committee. But you know, when I attended the meetings at that time, it was at this Rei Kai's Kitchen in Little Tokyo (Towers), and there was always a lot of people there, all these different people there, and they were all people that helped at the pilgrimage every year, you know, selling things, bringing flowers, whatever, making food, helping with the musubis, which I don't even do to this day. I don't like making any of that stuff, so I don't do it. But anyway, that was the start of it all. But the main interest was after I saw that Sue was getting weak, and she was being hospitalized, then I thought, well, at least I could come and maybe have something to say. But most of the time, the pilgrimages were kind of a set routine, and everybody had things they had to do. So it really didn't involve me that much. And only recently, after Fred resigned as treasurer, Fred Bradford resigned as treasurer, and I took over, then I became more involved in the meetings and things. That's when I discovered that money wasn't paid to L.A. Academy.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Well, I have just sort of two big picture wrap up questions, and then if there's anything I've left out, I definitely want to hear it from either of you. But one is just to you, what is the significance as Manzanar? And there's many ways you can answer that, but for you personally, what makes that a significant place?

JO: It makes it a significant place because it was a time when citizens were denied their civil rights. Our rights were taken from us, we were not free, not only our rights, but future, everything that was taken from us. And I'm not speaking of me personally, but my parents, citizens who are older and who are really impacted by having had to go to camp for three years and denied their freedom. And I think I have to emphasize the civil rights as the basic thing being denied. I tell that to schoolkids. You know, when you're denied your civil rights and you're denied your freedom, you're really an American citizen, and you should be allowed your rights, and they're not taken away by the government. Of course, they have since apologized, but still, Manzanar is that symbol of this could happen again. Because there's no law that prevents it from happening again. And I think it's interesting that I saw on Japanese television -- and this is NHK -- a documentary with Oliver Stone, I don't know if you've seen that, but he refers to, he goes to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, goes to the, Vietnam, and he goes to other places in Southeast Asia, and he said that we should always be aware of these places so that this could never happen again, and he referred to the relocation, called it "relocation." But I didn't see the whole beginning of the film, and I'm really wanting to see the whole thing, and I'm thinking maybe it'll be repeated again. But I think it was a special documentary.

KL: Well, you answered both of my questions with that answer. [Laughs] So were there things that you wanted to hear about, Whitney? Were there things that you wanted to talk about that didn't come up?

JO: Oh, I think I've said everything. [Laughs] I think I've said everything in my head that I could possibly say, in my memory, I think I've included almost everything.

KL: Well, it was... I probably have told you this story before, but it was really exciting for me to have the first conversation I had with you on the phone. I kind of got off the phone and hung up, and was like, wow, I've really arrived. I've just spoke on the phone with someone who was photographed by Ansel Adams, lived at Manzanar, she's agreed to let me come in person and conduct an interview with her. I went home and called my parents, so it's been great for me to get to do these interviews with you, and I know the National Park Service really appreciates your spending the time and sharing your story.

JO: I should have told you the names of the two girls that I knew in camp.

KL: Go for it.

JO: Her name was... the lady that moved to Salt Lake City, her name was Alice Aramaki, and she married and her last name is Endo now. Alice Aramaki Endo, and she lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

KL: Oh, really?

JO: Yeah, and I contact her every year at Christmastime. And the other lady is Kazuko Akahoshi Watanabe, and she lives in Monterey Park. I think Monterey Park, yeah. But she stayed until the end of camp, where Alice left with her family to go to Utah.

KL: And they were contemporaries of yours?

JO: Yeah, they were my friends that I played with. We played pinochle together, I learned how to play pinochle, and played whatever, whatever other games, outdoor games, paper dolls, did a lot of paper dolls.

KL: Did you make your own?

JO: Yes, made our own costumes. Now, dolls we got, like I got Brenda Star and some other doll, cardboard dolls, and then we made them clothes out of paper and crayons.

KL: And you're still in touch?

JO: Yeah. Actually, I've been in touch with Alice all along, but Kazuko I met at a reunion, a Manzanar reunion in '95, I think it was. I went with my parents, and my sister and I went. I don't remember when the reunion was, it was at... oh, Bonaventure. it was at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A. And I went looking through the directory, and I said, "Oh, I wonder if somebody I know... because I didn't know anybody. And then I found her name, and so I said, "Oh, she's here." [Laughs] So, and then, that was the first time we got in touch with each other.

KL: And she was back in California, too.

JO: Yeah, she's been here all along. But we don't go to the Manzanar school reunions because it used to be high school reunions. Although she was two years older than me.

KL: Yeah, now they've even dropped the school part, it's just Manzanar reunion. Well, good, yeah, I'm glad you thought of those. Birmingham is... Alice has seen some travel, California to Manzanar to Salt Lake City and ending up in Alabama.

JO: Yeah, she married a traveling salesman, I guess, and ended up in Birmingham, and then got left there. So she just made her life there. She goes to Japan often because her daughter lives in Japan, but she has two sons who live in the southern part of the United States, North Carolina or someplace, South Carolina.

KL: People's lives are kind of amazing.

JO: That's it.

KL: That's it, are you sure?

JO: Yeah. Well, I thought, gosh, I have to include them, because they were my friends for two years, a little over two years, actually. And the other girls I met I don't even remember. I mean, I had girls in my class, and I don't remember any of them. Isn't that awful?

KL: You were young, and some people stand out.

JO: Yeah, it was just my friends from Block 12.

KL: Well, thank you, Joyce.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.