Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George Kiyo Wakatsuki Interview
Narrator: George Kiyo Wakatsuki
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: July 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-wgeorge-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AL: Today is the 22nd of July, 2014. This is an oral history interview with George Kiyo Wakatsuki at the Main Street Station Hotel in Las Vegas. The interviewer is Alisa Lynch, videographer Mark Hachtmann, note taker Larisa Proulx and Bernadette Johnson is also present. So, first off, Kiyo, I'd like to thank you for being willing to sit down with us and also get your permission to record this interview and to use it for education and historic purposes.

GW: No problem.

AL: And we always start by asking when and where you were born and what your full name is.

GW: Well, I was born in a little town near Santa Maria, California, called Guadalupe, on December the 10th, 1931. This little town in California still exists, but it's right on the coast, and I really haven't been back there, but it still exists, real small rural town, farm town. And it's near Vandenberg Air Force Base. But I haven't been back.

AL: What's your full name?

GW: My full name is George Kiyoshi Wakatsuki, and I've been known as George, Kiyoshi, Kiyo, Junior, Tsuki, Wacky, all versions of my name. [Laughs] But I'm predominately known by my family as Kiyo. When I was young, they called me Junior.

AL: And what are your parents' names?

GW: My father is George Ko Wakatsuki, my mother's name is Riku, her maiden name is Sugai, Wakatsuki. I don't know what their age were when they died or when they were born, really.

AL: So what part of Japan did your father's family come from?

GW: My father came from Hiroshima, and he came over when he was around sixteen years old to, I think it was up in Washington, Spokane, Washington. That's where he met my mom.

AL: Do you know why he came over?

GW: I think he came over, the story goes is that his family wanted him to go into the military, become an officer in the army, and he didn't want that, so he came over. I don't know how he came over, if he got on a freighter or what, but he came over, settled in Spokane. And he got a job working for, I guess, sort of like a governor at that time. He may not have been the governor, but he worked as a houseboy and cook, chauffer, did all that kind of stuff before he met my mother and then they moved from Spokane down to another part of Washington, I'm not sure. But they started migrating down south, and my sisters were born... well, my brother was born, and I don't know if it was in Oregon or... that's where it's so far back I don't remember what the story was. Anyway, they ended up in Watsonville, California, that's where my sister was born. One of my sisters, maybe more than one of my sisters, but he had a strawberry farm in Watsonville. And then during the Depression, they moved further down, they lost the ranch and they moved further down to Guadalupe, and that's where I was born. And from Guadalupe down to Inglewood, California, that's where my sister Jeanne was born, the last.

AL: The baby?

GW: The baby. And then from Inglewood, our family moved to Santa Monica, and that's where he started to fish. He started with a rowboat, caught fish and sold it on the pier, and he made enough money to buy a bigger boat, a 30-foot boat. And then around 1939, he got his biggest boat and they went out and started fishing for mackerel. And he was one of the fishermen that went after mackerel because when they caught the mackerel, they sold it to canneries to make dog food. So that was, mackerel was being fished, and my father was one of the beginners. And then they moved the boat down to Terminal Island, and that's where, in 1941, the war started, and they confiscated the boat, confiscated my father, we didn't see him after that until maybe a couple a years.

AL: So we're definitely going to cover... I want to get to Pearl Harbor, I'm going to ask you a few more things about earlier life for your folks. Because I know you're trying to race, you said you don't talk more than a half hour. [Laughs] Just going back a little bit, you said your dad was a houseboy. And a lot of people say, "Oh, my dad, my grandfather was a houseboy." Could you describe, for someone who doesn't know what that means, what a houseboy... what is a houseboy?

GW: A houseboy is, to me, at that time it was like a valet. He'll take care of the cooking, he'll cook, and in fact, he was even taking care of the car, he was acting like a chauffeur. He would act as a mechanic to fix cars, and that's where I found out that how did my dad know how to... when we had a car, he'd go in and fix up the engine and all that stuff. And I said, "How did you learn that?" From experience taking the car apart and putting it back together when he was a kid, or working as this houseboy.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AL: So in, I'm assuming most people who see this interview will know that your family is profiled in your sister's book Farewell to Manzanar. And in there she talks about your father's family, or your father being of samurai lineage. Is that true?

GW: Yeah.

AL: What do you know about that?

GW: Well, as far as I know, when they went back and... see, some of my nephews, or even my brothers, are Mormons, were Mormons, and they go through your family history and they try to trace back your family tree. So they, that's one of the requirements for the kids, that they traced their heritage back, and then we found out that on my father's side going back, back, one of the fathers at that time was samurai. And before the samurai, one was sort of like a governor or a lord or something. But I understand in Hiroshima there's a park called Miyajima where they have this torii standing in the water.

AL: Orange torii gate?

GW: Some of this trace back to our relatives who built that, and that's... I don't know how true that is, but that's what they say. And then there's a village in Japan near Hiroshima where the relatives were like the owners or the head holders, or that time, the lord having a castle and all that stuff.

AL: Where did he fall in his family? Was he the oldest, youngest, middle?

GW: I have no idea. But I don't think he was the oldest, otherwise they wouldn't have let him come.

AL: Did anybody else come over with him or did he come by himself?

GW: I think it was just himself. Because we tried to trace and see if there were any other relatives of his that we could find here living in California. But because that name Wakatsuki is, it's not well-known, or it's not like a Smith and Jones where you can open a book and find a lot of them, you don't find too many that are not relatives of us.

AL: What do you think about... I mean, what you knew of him as an adult, what would drive him at sixteen? That's really young to go halfway across the world by himself.

GW: I guess the thought of having to serve in the military, and not very fond of war or whatever, that he would have to go into.

AL: Do you know when he was born?

GW: When?

AL: When, what year?

GW: No.

AL: So it would probably be around...

GW: Eighteen-something.

AL: 1888.

GW: Is that it? You know, huh?

AL: July 31, 1888. No, I was just trying to think of his age at the time, like at the Russo-Japanese War, he would have been about military age, if he was born in 1888.

GW: It could have been that there were, Japan was warring with somebody at that time. But he didn't want to go into the military as far as I know, that's why they came over.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AL: What about your mom's family, you said Sugai?

GW: Sugai, yes. Now, we don't know too much about her family as far as the tree, family tree of hers. We know that she has some relatives still living, and we keep in contact with them. But we don't know how many are left.

AL: Is this back in Japan?

GW: No, here in the States. We don't know any of her relatives back in Japan. In fact, I guess (Woodrow, aka) Woody, when Woody was in the army, our brother Woody, he was able to visit our family, the Wakatsukis in Hiroshima, but he wasn't able to trace any of the Sugais. So I don't even know what prefecture they came from or nothing about Mother's side.

AL: And your mother is Nisei, is that right?

GW: Well, she was born in Hawaii, so I guess you can classify her as a second generation. They were, her family was traveling from Japan, they stopped in Kauai in the harbor there, and I guess that's when she was born, on a boat in Kauai. And then from what I understand is that when they had the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, they were on a boat in a harbor or someplace like that, and they survived from there. And then she moved up to, I guess their family moved up to Spokane.

AL: So when she was born in Hawaii, they weren't living there, they were just passing through?

GW: Yeah, that's what I understand. They didn't work, the family didn't get off and work in anything there.

AL: So what did her family do in Spokane?

GW: I think they were farming. Is that gonna go on it? [Laughs] But I think she was farming, but I know she was going through a nursing school, she was going to become a nurse. I have some pictures of my dad in a baseball uniform. I guess he was playing baseball in Spokane. But my mother had a nursing uniform on, though I don't think she graduated herself.

AL: About how much younger was she than him?

GW: I think about ten years younger. In fact, I think her parents didn't want her to marry Dad, so there was a conflict there.

AL: Why not?

GW: I don't know. I don't know what the thing is. I don't know if they eloped or what, because we don't see any formal wedding pictures of Mom and Dad at all. They could have ran away and got married. Did Jeanne never talk about that, about Mom and Dad getting married?

AL: I've never interviewed her, I've just read the book. And she talks about one of your mother's brothers putting a ladder up, I think she tried to escape several times, and then finally a brother took pity on her and put a ladder up and they ran off. That's what the book says, but it's a book. I don't know if that's...

GW: Well, she's heard more stories than I have, so it's probably true.

AL: What do you think they saw in each other?

GW: I don't know. The only thing I can think of is my father was kind a rake they called him at that time. He's rakish. I think he was more forward because, like I say, he was playing baseball. I don't know... it wasn't professional, like semi-pro baseball. So he's an athlete and popular and probably with the girls or whatever at that time. You might say he's a playboy, I don't know. But at that age when they got married, he wasn't no young chicken or anything like that.

AL: Do you know about when they got married?

GW: No.

AL: And could you tell me the names of your brothers and sisters and approximately -- if you don't know the years they were born, just sort of their ages?

GW: Chronological? Well, the firstborn was Bill, William. Then came Eleanor, and then came Frances, Martha, Lillian... oh, Woody's in there someplace. Woody's after Eleanor. So Woody's the third born, and then there's Martha, Frances, Ray... no, Lillian, then Ray. And then Mae, me, and Jeanne. Did I leave somebody out?

AL: Is that ten?

GW: I don't know.

AL: I mean, you had ten kids in your family?

GW: Yeah. There were four boys and six girls. Is that ten? Okay.

AL: You passed, you passed the test. [Laughs]

GW: You know, as you get older, it's kind of hard to remember everything. That's one of the bad things about life, I guess, when you get older, you can't remember too far back, like what I did last week even. But there are some things that always come up. Like I can still remember my service number, you know, when I was in the service, 4257401. I can never forget that, I don't know why. Something you just can't forget.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AL: What is your earliest childhood memory?

GW: My earliest childhood memory I guess was when we lived in Ocean Park, California, near Santa Monica there. And we used to live, there's a beach, sidewalk, and then our home was a rental. And I guess summertime come, I'm out the door. I go sit with the lifeguards all day. And then they'd send me out to buy their lunch and then (they would) buy me lunch, staying out in the beach all day long, from sunup to sundown. I go home, but my family, I guess, never missed me. They knew where I was anyway. But that's what I remember, spending summers on a beach all day long.

AL: With ten kids they probably couldn't have kept track anyway. [Laughs] Were there any of your brothers and sisters that you were particularly close to either in age or emotion? That's a big range of ages.

GW: I think Jeanne and I were very close. And then my sister Mae, who was just older than I became closer as we grew older. Because May went to, when she got out of college, she worked in Long Beach with a family and she worked as, I guess, a maid. So she went to school from working, and May sent her to school more or less. So when she got out of college she went to teach English in Japan as far as on a, I think it was a naval air force base. So when she got out of there, she came to live with us in San Jose, and she became a secretary for the University of California working for the football coach there at that time. And at that time I was working at Lockheed and I had a, one of my guys working for me. I introduced him -- he was a Caucasian -- to Mae, and they got together and they married. So I joined her with my friend who worked for me. But when happened later on is that May got cancer and died at a pretty young age. That's why I thought that was being close to May is that we were closer in relationship because I introduced her to her husband.

AL: When you were growing up at the house in Santa Monica, what was your neighborhood like in terms of, like, economics and ethnic groups, economics?

GW: Well, Ocean Park is where we lived, and there's predominantly Jewish families living there. So I went to school with some Jewish boys, became friends, and one of the things I loved was that his family had a pastrami stand. [Laughs] I remember going out and getting a pastrami sandwich, I loved pastrami sandwich. And I try, every time I get down to Long Beach, I try to get into, go down to where we used to live and look for that pastrami place, but it doesn't exist anymore. And they don't make pastrami sandwiches like they used to. See, they used to put the bun in a steamer, and they steamed the bun and they put just pastrami and mustard, and they throw a dill pickle on the side and that was the pastrami sandwich. You can't get 'em that way anymore. I wish we could.

AL: Maybe if you make it. Were there... in terms of the neighborhood, was it common for different ethnic groups to interact?

GW: No. In fact, I think we were the only Asians around at that time in that neighborhood. But we didn't have any animosity or anything like that towards us as far as I remember. I had no problem assimilating or going out and play with the kids.

AL: What was your... one of the things that was interesting in reading your parents' case files is in some blocks in religion they say Buddhist, some say Christian, some say Catholic for the same person. And I'm curious just if your family had any sort of religious practice or tradition?

GW: As far as I remember, when my father was fishing, we never went to church. And this was the period before he went to before the war started. But anyway, we never went to church. It was during camp that my grandmother went to a Catholic, the Maryknoll, that's a Catholic church there, and she was being baptized as a Catholic. And then my mother went to Catholic school at the same place in camp. And my father, as far as I know, he was a Buddhist, at least, that's what I thought he was. And, in fact, when we got out of camp, he went, they started, we went to live in Long Beach and then they moved to San Jose in about 1950 and raised strawberries. And they used to have, I guess there was a priest who used to come around the house, and he wanted to convert Dad to become a Catholic. And I don't know what it was, my father never wanted to become a Catholic. He said he's a Buddhist. But you know when he died, I don't think we had a Buddhist ceremony for him. You know, Buddhists normally get cremated and they're put in an urn and then they're kept in a, sometimes in a house or in a church. But as far as I remember, no, he was never cremated. So I don't know whether he died a Buddhist or a Christian. In fact, what happened is later on my mother became Baptized in the Church of Christ. But that was primarily because, I think, Jeanne's husband's mother was going to the Church of Christ and that's when my mother was going there with her and got baptized into the Church of Christ.

AL: So when you were, when you kids were young, you didn't necessarily identify with any one tradition.

GW: No. In fact, when I went in the service, they ask you what religion, I put on there just plain Christian, I don't have no denomination. In fact, I would go to Presbyterian church sometimes, Baptist church another time, but I was Christian. But I always told them, I says, "As long as you believe in God and you treat other people correctly, like you would want to be treated, you don't need no denomination. You live a good life and you're clean, so you're a Christian, but you don't need no denomination."

AL: What kind of holidays did your family celebrate most? I mean, did you do the Buddhist holidays and the, or I should say Japanese holidays and...

GW: Well, you're Christian, of course, Christmas. That's the holiday that you always celebrate. But then the next one was New Year's, but to us, the New Year's was Japanese style, which was not the lunar one but January the 1st. There you would have your regular normal Japanese fare, sushi, roast pig, that kind of stuff. Like the movie showed, just like that, that's how a big feast.

AL: Did you guys celebrate Boy's Day and Girl's Day?

GW: I don't remember doing that, no. When I was, there was too many of us, I think. [Laughs] I didn't tell you this about the story of when we were in camp. I had to go take my birth certificate in to the teacher, and I took it in. And I always told her I was born on Christmas, but that's when I, they celebrated my birthday. So she said, "First of all, you were born in Guadalupe, that's in Mexico." I said, "No, it's in California." She said, "No, there's a Guadalupe, Mexico, so you're not an American citizen, you're a Mexican citizen. I think I can adopt you and take you out of here." [Laughs] And then she said, "You know, your birthday is not on Christmas, it's on December the 10th." And it wasn't until I was in camp that I knew that my birthday was on December the 10th.

AL: Did your family celebrate the emperor's birthday?

GW: No, as far as I know. I don't think they even knew when the emperor was born, and we didn't celebrate that. In fact, at that time, my father, when the war started, had nothing to do with Japan.

AL: Did he follow the news of Japan, like, you know, through the '30s and things started building up?

GW: I don't know, because if he did, he never talked about it, or he never talked about it or I never heard about it.

AL: When did your grandmother Sugai start living with you?

GW: Right before we went to camp she stayed with my mom. And at that time she had cataracts and she was basically blind. Because I remember when she lived in the house with us and she didn't, I couldn't communicate because I couldn't speak Japanese and she couldn't speak English. And the wonderful thing about it is when we went to camp, she got the cataracts removed and she was able to see again. And it was in camp that she regained her eyesight. And then when we got out of camp she lived with my sister Frances, took her 'til she died. She was like ninety-eight when she passed away.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AL: It's interesting, when you were visiting in April we talked a little bit about the movie Farewell to Manzanar versus your real life. Because in the movie, it shows her as dying in camp.

GW: No, she did not die in camp. Well, the movie shows versions of my brother, not all the brothers because I had (three) brothers. Well, there were four of us, six sisters, but then in the movie, how many girls were there? I think there was only two or three. So they had to make the, I guess, the story fit in the timeline, they made composites of sisters and brothers.

AL: How did your sisters and brothers feel about that?

GW: I don't know, we never talked about it. But I think to make the movie pliable or sellable to the TV people, they had to change stories, change the storyline. But it was basically made to show the plight of the Japanese going into a camp, and what happens in camp. That's basically, I think, the storyline that they wanted to show. Because John Korty, who was the director of that movie, just before that produced Jane Pittman's story, which was an Emmy-award movie and all that stuff. So he knows how to make a storyline palatable to the people, and at least to television.

AL: I think I told you when you visited, I first saw the movie when I was like nine or ten, and I read the book. So it's like in my mind, that was my first introduction. And we were talking about like the actor Yuki Shimoda and the woman Nobu McCarthy?

GW: McCarthy.

AL: Who played your mom. So if somebody has seen that movie and they think that's your family, could you just sort of characterize what about Yuki Shimoda's performance really was your father and how was it different, and the same thing with your mom.

GW: The, I think his name was... was his name Yamada was his last name, who played my dad?

AL: I think it was Yuki Shimoda.

GW: Okay, Yuki Shimoda, he's passed away since. But we thought that was, he did a great job portraying my dad in that movie. We look at it and we say, "That's Dad." He had the... the way he talked, the way he reacted, and we said, "Oh, that's Dad." He did a great job.

AL: What about the actress who plays your mother?

GW: Well, first of all, it didn't look like our mom, because my mom was about five-foot-one and kind of chubby. And in the movie, the woman, McCarthy, who played her, she's tall, thin, very graceful and thing, which is maybe just the opposite of my mom. So right there, the physical comparison wasn't there. We didn't see Mom in her.

AL: But did Yuki Shimoda look like your father?

GW: In a way, in a way. His actions and all that stuff was like Dad. But Dad, I consider Dad as tall and thinner than Yuki Shimoda. But it was just his actions and the way he played that we felt was remarkable.

AL: It was very impressive. You know, it was interesting, in the book Jeanne says that your father was very tall for Japanese, she says almost six feet. His record for Manzanar says he's five-foot-five. And I thought, I wonder how much of that height was his personality. Because his medical record says sixty-five inches.

GW: Yeah, he's not... he wasn't six feet. But to her, I think she felt like he was six feet because Jeanne at that time was small, and Dad is up like that, but he can act like, you know, a very powerful man and be tall. But this action is that he was thin, but he seemed tall to me. He felt like he was tall.

AL: Well, for that time he might...

GW: Have been tall.

AL: Yeah. Yeah, like I was telling you before, it's interesting because as somebody who's read the book and seen the movie, you feel like you know your family, but you don't. You just know this Hollywood portrayal, which is one of the reasons I most wanted to talk to you is just... one of my favorite series is this thing called "History and Hollywood" and then they show a film and then they show the real story, and it's fascinating.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AL: So when you're talking about your mother and father, as far as your interactions with them, because you're pretty far down the chain, right, you're nine out of ten? What was your relationship like, for instance, with your father as compared to your older brothers? Were you close to him?

GW: You know, when I think about it, at the beginning when I was young, I wasn't close at all. Just after when I got out of the service, and he started raising strawberries in San Jose, and I got out of the service and I stayed in San Jose, and I helped him on the farm. And when he... normally they leased the land for four years and raised strawberries for four years, and they get another plot, they lease another plot and grow for four years. At that time, my father had a plot, and he was growing strawberries and I was helping him. And then when I got out of the service there, I said, "Dad, I don't want to be a farmer." But he wanted to lease another plot. And because I didn't want to farm, he couldn't lease another plot. So that's when I think his goals decreased, and he no longer was a head of the household, like to keep money or to keep the family together. But then I was the only one left to stay with them. Jeanne got married and I was the last one left, and I really didn't want to become a farmer.

AL: How did he take that?

GW: I think he took it pretty bad, really bad. Because that's when this house went down, it was maybe three or four years later that he passed away.

AL: Did he ever say anything to you about it?

GW: No. In fact, we never thought about it or him demanding that I help him do farming or help him with the farm.

AL: What was your relationship with your mother like?

GW: I guess I was her pet, because me and Jeannie I guess were her pets because we were the last ones, last ones around. And more or less she would do anything for us, we would do anything for her.

AL: What characteristics as an adult do you think you have of your dad? What part of you is your dad, what part of you is your mom?

GW: I think my personality is my mom. Because she was the quiet one, and my dad was the very strong and demanding one, and I didn't have that characteristic. So I think I took after my mom. In fact, I probably picked up all her DNA genes that are not too good, like I got diabetes now, high blood pressure. But as far as my dad goes, his personality, I think Jeanne has picked up more of his personality than I have.

AL: That's very interesting. So when you were a kid, where did you go to school? Like when you were living in Ocean Park, where did you attend school?

GW: We went to... I can't remember the elementary school's name, Dunbar? Maybe that was in East L.A. I don't remember too many of the elementary schools. The only thing I remember is when we had to leave Terminal Island, and right after Pearl Harbor, it wasn't too long that we had to leave there, and we moved into East L.A., Boyle Heights area. And I remember going to school, and that's when I, first time I felt the pain of being discriminated against because of the kids calling me "Jap" or "go home," or being picked on by the kids. And I think we stayed there about three or four months, and then they said that we had to relocate and go to camp. So we'd leave from Boyle Heights, because my sister Eleanor, oldest sister, was living in West Los Angeles, the family wanted to be together so we left Boyle Heights, I remember, about three o'clock in the morning on a truck. So driving down to West L.A. and then stopping at the Buddhist church there, and that's where we got on the bus and drove to Manzanar.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AL: So before that, what do you remember of December 7th?

GW: Before that?

AL: Yeah, what do you remember of December 7th?

GW: Just the fun I was having on the beach. When we lived in Terminal Island, I remember not too much of that because I don't think we were there very long. Because all I remember is when I would go out and take my fishing pole and go fish by the... there's a cannery, and then they have this outlet with water coming out, the cannery, and then that fish blood and all that stuff going out in the water, so all the fish are out there feeding. So that's where I would go fishing because that's where all the fish were. And I remember going fishing like that living in Terminal Island.

AL: So your family, this is one of the things that confused me, because there's like five addresses listed for your family right before Pearl Harbor, or four. Your family, were you living in Ocean Park when Pearl Harbor happened, or were you already on Terminal Island?

GW: No, we were on Terminal Island, just moved to Terminal Island.

AL: So why did your family move to Terminal Island?

GW: Because that's when my dad was fishing, moved his boat to Terminal Island, and that's where the canneries were. He would go out from Terminal Island and then come back and drop his fish for the cannery.

AL: What was it like moving from a Jewish neighborhood to Terminal Island?

GW: I guess it was like night and day, because a lot of the Terminal Island kids, the only thing they spoke was Japanese. I didn't speak Japanese, so I was like an outsider to a lot of the kids, and we'd get picked on, Jeanne and I at that age going to school. That's why they called the yogores when they came out of Terminal Island, Terminal Islanders when they left for camp, they were the rough ones. [Laughs]

AL: How do you translate yogore?

GW: As "hoodlums." [Laughs] That's the best description, I think, is we call them hoodlums because they were very rough and tough.

AL: So they were rough on you?

GW: In a way, but I never got into too many fights. I don't remember fighting too much when I was in Terminal Island.

AL: How long were you guys living there before the war?

GW: That's what I can't remember. I don't remember if we stayed there almost like six months or more than that. But it's just like a period of time just went like that, to me, that we lived in Terminal Island.

AL: Did your mom work away from home at that time?

GW: Yeah, she was working in the canneries.

AL: Do you know which one?

GW: No, not really.

AL: Was your whole family on Terminal Island together, or were they already married out by that time?

GW: I think they were all married out. The only ones, I think Jeanne and I and May were the only ones living there. I don't know if Ray was there with us?

AL: How much older is Ray than you? Because it says he was in school in camp.

GW: Yeah, Ray was in school in camp. And then I remember when he left camp, he was old enough to get in the Coast Guard, so he joined the Coast Guard. He must have been seventeen or eighteen at that time when he joined the Coast Guard. But as far as Ray, let's see, he maybe was four years older than I was.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AL: So what do you remember of the actual day of Pearl Harbor? How did you hear about it and what did you see?

GW: You know, it always goes back to the movie. [Laughs] I don't think it was like that at all. As far as I remember of Pearl Harbor, I don't remember people running around saying, "Pearl Harbor," or nothing like that. All I remember is that the next day, that we were, we were told that Dad was picked up, the boat, we don't know where the boat is, don't know where Dad is. And Mom had to start packing up stuff and we were going to move.

AL: It's interesting, well, of course, in the book, it talks about him, your father, owning the boat and that your brothers worked for him. In the paperwork, it says that he was a deckhand for your brothers who owned the boat. Do you know which one that is?

GW: No. As far as I know, the story goes that my father bought this boat called the Nereid, and it was financed through the cannery. And his, I think my mother's brother put some money into the boat. So that when the boat was confiscated, my mother's brother for a long time was trying to get his money out of it, and if we ever got any money from the government for the boat that he wanted his share of it because he put money into it. But as far as the ownership of boat, what I heard was that it was partly owned by the cannery, financed, and my dad and this brother.

AL: So when you said your dad was taken away, how did you find out he was taken away? He just didn't show up?

GW: Yeah. Didn't appear the next day, he was gone. You know, there wasn't anything like going to the jail to see whether he had... as far as I know.

AL: Were there other men arrested at that time?

GW: Oh, yeah.

AL: Like how many?

GW: I have no idea, but I know that all the Japanese fishermen in Terminal Island were all picked up. And I'm presuming they went to the same place that Dad was, which was Bismarck, North Dakota.

AL: When did you first hear from him and know where he was?

GW: I didn't know until he came back. I'm sure that my mom and my older, the older people in the clan would know where he was and all that. But as far as I was, I didn't know when he was coming back or any of that 'til I saw him.

AL: Were you scared?

GW: Not really. You know, when I think back to those years, I don't think I was afraid or anything. The worst thing I guess that happened to me was after camp, as far as the prejudice and all that feeling, hurt me a lot because we were sent back and lived in Long Beach in these projects where they had put up these shipbuilders, workers there. So we lived in this project in Long Beach. Sometimes my mom and I would take a bus and go downtown, and that's when the older generation of (Caucasian) people spit on Mom, and you can't do nothing about it. They tell you to, "Go home, go back to Japan," and things like that. It's very hard to take.

AL: When your dad was taken away, who stepped in to run the family? Was that your mother or your brothers?

GW: Woody. Woody basically became the man of the family. Bill was the oldest, but he relocated to New Jersey, Seabrook, New Jersey.

AL: That's after camp he went to Seabrook?

GW: No, no, that was before camp (closed). In camp, when they started allowing people to relocate back east, he left. And then my sisters and brothers went back, but during that time, Woody was the only one left in camp.

AL: So was Bill also on Terminal Island before the war? Was it just Woody or Woody and Bill?

GW: No, Bill wasn't there.

AL: Okay.

GW: But I don't think Bill ever got involved with fishing. It wasn't 'til after the war. No, it was during... it was before the war, my father actually had two boats, he had the Nereid and the Waka. The Waka was the smaller one, that's the one he gave to Woody and Bill to run. That's why maybe you heard about the storyline is that they had Woody and Bill as the owners of the boat. Well, they were, the small boat, the Waka. But the Nereid, Dad ran.

AL: Yeah, I was confused. [Laughs]

GW: And one of the things that's funny, I remember when Dad first got the Nereid, it was a pretty big boat, it was a forty-footer, and it had a diesel engine and that's what normally boats didn't have at that time. And he was gonna use it as a party boat, you know, boats go out and fish with people on them. And I think he took one trip and I went on that trip, and that was the first time I caught a barracuda. [Laughs] I can remember that, when I was that young and I was trying to reel it in. But, yeah.

AL: So what happened to the party boat plan?

GW: Well, that went away because he started making more money from fishing for mackerel.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AL: So -- and I'm sorry I sort of jump around a little bit -- but after Pearl Harbor, of course, the Terminal Islanders, I think, from looking at the records and the history, got sort of the short end of the stick. Because where other people had a week's notice to pack up and leave and the army moved them, and Terminal Islanders, they just told you to get off the island, right?

GW: Yeah.

AL: So where did you guys go?

GW: That's what I'm saying, we went from Terminal Island to Boyle Heights.

AL: Oh, okay, that's right.

GW: Went to, I guess we rented a house on Boyle Heights, but that's when in Terminal Island is where we had to get rid of most of the... that's where the storyline goes where Mom had to get rid of everything for a refrigerator, sell it for five dollars, plates, she'd get so mad, she broke 'em up.

AL: She really did?

GW: Yeah.

AL: Did she ever express any concern or fear or anything during that time before you guys went to Manzanar and after your dad was taken away? I mean, how did she handle that?

GW: You know, that's the funny part. I can't remember if she was afraid or what really happened. Only thing I can remember is that she was packing up and getting everything that we could together. And I don't know how she arranged for us to move to Boyle Heights or what, but we got there.

AL: Was your grandmother with you the whole time?

GW: You know, I think she was. I think she was, and I think she was with us when she went up to Boyle Heights, and I think she was with us when we went to camp.

AL: What do you remember about the day you left for camp?

GW: What I remember is that the day before we left for camp, Mom took me out, went to the store, bought some boots, some jeans, flannel shirts, and it was like getting dressed to go to a camp, summer camp. But the frightening part is that we had to get up at three o'clock in the morning and get in the back of this truck, and he put a tarp over it, the back of the truck, so you can't see what's inside. So I guess we were trying to sneak back into West Los Angeles or get out of harm's way and whatever.

AL: So you weren't supposed to leave Boyle Heights?

GW: I'm not sure. Only thing I know is that we were really doing it sneaky-like to get down there without being seen.

AL: Because some of Boyle Heights came to Manzanar, some.

GW: Yeah, I think what was happening is that Mom wanted us to get to West L.A. because of my sister and their family, they wanted us to be together.

AL: Did all of your parents' children end up in Manzanar, or did they end up in other camps?

GW: Other...

AL: Camps. Was your whole family in Manzanar?

GW: Yeah.

AL: So how did you get there? Did you go by bus or train?

GW: Bus. Went by bus, I remember the bus.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AL: This is Alisa Lynch with Kiyo Wakatsuki, tape two of an oral history interview on July 22, 2014. Mark Hachtmann is the videographer, Larisa Proulx is taking notes, and Bernadette Johnson is also present. So, Kiyo, we were just talking about the bus to Manzanar. What do you remember about the bus ride?

GW: The bus ride, as much as I can recall, wasn't bad at all. I mean, it was a bus ride. I don't know how many hours it took, but we had what they call bentos, the water to drink. But I remember that we had to close the windows, or shades, so we couldn't look out and see where we were going. But the bus ride was uneventful as far as I was concerned, nothing happened to me.

AL: Were there any soldiers?

GW: I don't recall. So maybe there were soldiers there to watch us get on, but as far as on the bus, no. I don't think they rode with us at all.

AL: Did the bus make any stops?

GW: That I don't recall. They must have, because you got to go potty once in a while. So we didn't, as far as I know, I don't think we stopped. [Laughs]

AL: What did you think when you stepped off the bus and saw Manzanar?

GW: You know, it was kind of dark. There wasn't much of anything. All I remember is it was dark and we had to line up and get this mattress with hay in it, with straw, and then I don't know whether it was the next day or what, but we had to get, they gave out blankets and clothes for us to wear, which was, I guess, surplus GI stuff. It wasn't long after that, though, maybe a week later or so, that I got measles. And I remember lying in a barracks, and I had fever and everything. They had these panel trucks that were ambulances, and I remember being trucked back in this ambulance to the hospital. I had measles. [Laughs]

AL: So if it was when you first got there, that was one of the first hospitals there, right, not the big old, the big hospital, it was the...

GW: No, as far as I know, I was being trucked in an ambulance, but it wasn't no ambulance, it was whatever, a panel truck.

AL: Going to a hospital in a barracks, probably.

GW: Yeah.

AL: Because the first hospital was in Block 1, no running water, barracks. Then they moved to Block 7, running water, barracks. And it wasn't until August that they built the big hospital.

GW: It was up further, yeah.

AL: So you were probably in one of those.

GW: Yeah.

AL: You lived in which block first?

GW: Block 16, Barracks 12, I think that's it. I think we took up the first unit, the first apartment, that was Jeanne, I, Ray, Mae, Mom and Dad, and then Woody was next door to us with his family. Then the last two ends were some other family. So we weren't all together. Frances was married at that time, and Eleanor was married at that time, so they had, lived in different units.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AL: Did you get together as a family in camp, though, like for meals?

GW: As far as I remember, no. As far as I remember, I was running around with the kids, going to other mess halls, we never ate together with the family after that for a while.

AL: Did your parents try, did your mom try to get you to eat with the family?

GW: No, not really. Because she was, she got a job as a, because she had nursing experience as a dietician, so she would go to another block that was further down the street, I don't remember the number, maybe Block 30 or something like that. And they had a special menu for, I think for diabetes people, (...) so she was the dietician at that time. So I didn't see much of her.

AL: What were the mess hall meals like?

GW: Our first meal maybe was the first meal that we had together was... at that time, our mess hall had the Caucasian soldiers as cooks. So we were, you know, they didn't hire cooks from the camp at that time, so we were eating army rations more or less. And one of the first things we saw was they gave us rice and then they gave us apricots, and put the apricots and syrup over the rice. [Laughs] And that to us like you, we're putting mashed potatoes and some other stuff on it, not gravy, maybe ice cream or something on your mashed potatoes, see.

AL: I would eat that.

GW: [Laughs] Anyway, that wasn't, our first meal wasn't that enjoyable.

AL: Did it ever get any better?

GW: Oh, yeah, a lot better after they started recruiting people from camp who used to be chefs or something like that, to teach everybody how to cook. Then all the mess halls had camp people cooking.

AL: What was your favorite meal in the mess hall?

GW: Well, my favorite meal in the mess hall, I remember, and I still cook it myself sometimes, is fried rice and an egg, sunny side up egg. Put the sunny side up egg on the rice. I like that. [Laughs] I eat that all the time now. In fact, you go to Hawaii, that's one of the breakfast meals that they have, is fried rice, sunny side up egg and Spam on the side.

AL: What is the meal that you remember as being the worst meal in Manzanar?

GW: Mutton. They call it lamb stew, but it's mutton. That's sheep, I guess, very, very strong tasting. Some people like mutton, but I think it's the way you cook it. As long as you... they're old, and sheep, it's gonna smell and taste like sheep unless you cook it right. [Laughs] That was the worst meal. Whenever you hear that they're gonna have lamb stew, we stay away from there.

AL: You said before the schools started that you'd play games, run around with kids. When did, what grade were you in when school started in Manzanar?

GW: I was trying to think about that last night, because I met this... did I tell you about who I met? Sam Toji? He was in Block 16, and he was registering the same time as I was. And I heard him say, "Block 16," and I said, "You from Block 16?" And he says, "Yeah." I said, "I am, too." And he recognized who I was. He knew my name as Junior at that time, and we used to hang around together because he was maybe one or two years older than I was. And he remembers us going out and trout fishing and sneaking out underneath the barbed wire to get out. And he said we hung out together. I thought, "You know, I can't remember that." But then I asked him, "Do you remember the days that we used to go around the mess hall and try to find the best mess hall to eat at? And he said, "Yeah." So that's what we used to do. A bunch of us kids go around at lunchtime or dinnertime, run around to these different mess halls, we found out who had the best cooks to eat. That was fun. But then they, later on they caught on to that, so they had meal tickets so that we couldn't go in and eat.

AL: Yeah, you guys probably caused that.

GW: Yeah. [Laughs]

AL: We have some of the meal tickets in our museum collection.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AL: So you were talking about your friend said you went out to go fishing, but you don't remember that? Going out fishing?

GW: I just remember going out fishing with Woody. We used to make (hooks), get a straight pin, make a little curve at the end and tie a string on the end, other end. And he had me go out with him to look for grasshoppers because that was our bait.

AL: This is in camp?

GW: Yeah. Go out, that's when they'd let us out of camp. After a while they took the guards off and said, "Now you can go out, give you passes so that you can go out and come back in." So they gave you a pass so that they know that you, you're out there, and then if you don't come back, then you have the pass there, that way they keep control over, or know where you're at, if you're lost, have to go out and look for you. But my brother and I used to go out.

AL: You were talking about passes and security and the guard towers, what do you remember of the guard towers when they were staffed? Did they have lights, did they have people?

GW: When we first got to camp, they would have a guard up there with a machine gun. And we know, we were told, "You don't go near the fence," because there's a little break between that and the barracks and so forth. You don't go play around the fence, so we never did. But they took them off, I don't know how many years after that, they allowed us to leave the camp. But the guards were taken away from there. I don't know if the records show that it was one or two years after that that they took 'em away.

AL: I think it was in '43. Because Merritt said that they left the lights in the front towers on the highway, they left those on. And he said, "For the comfort of mind of local citizens," that they would light those towers at night and staff them, I guess. But the ones on the back... I mean, they always had MPs there, but the staffing changed. That's what it says, anyway. So you never had any interactions with military police?

GW: No.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AL: And what grade were you in at that time?

GW: This is what I was trying to remember. I was ten when I went in there, ten, so I got out when I was thirteen. So when I started in Long Beach, I started in the seventh grade. So I must have been in the fourth grade when I got in camp, either the fourth or fifth.

AL: Do you remember any of your teachers?

GW: That's it. I remember this one teacher who took a liking to me, wanted to take me out of camp, but I can't remember her name. And there was another teacher, let's see, it was in the fourth, fifth... the fifth grade. I think her name was Cramer. And I remember her mostly because when President Roosevelt died, they had a memorial service for him in the auditorium. And we, all the kids went in there, like in assemblies, and they had this memorial service for the President. And my brother Bill, this is that story where he sang the Lord's Prayer. And he had such a powerful voice that he didn't need a microphone to fill up that auditorium. After he sang, my teacher cried and cried. She grabbed me and asked me if that was my brother who sang. I said, "Yes," and she gave me a big hug. And when I think about it, here we were in camp, singing for President Roosevelt, the man who signed the declaration that put us in camp. And the irony of it all was this memorial service and my brother singing so well. I think that was the biggest moment that I remember of camp, was that service that we had for President Roosevelt.

AL: You know, it's mentioned in the Manzanar Free Press. I think I might have given you a copy of that, and it says that Bill sang a beautiful rendition of the Lord's Prayer.

GW: Bill was talented in that way, he could sing. He was very, very, he was a good singer. In fact, every year in Los Angeles they have what they call this Nisei Week, and they have the talent shows. Well, in 1939, he won that talent show. I think he sang Old Man River. But he has this real deep, baritone voice, and it could carry through the room with no microphone at all, very strong.

AL: Do you know if there's any recordings of his voice?

GW: I have I think a recording he made of the Lord's Prayer, Old Man River, and stuff like that. But it's on an old vinyl, I don't think it's any good anymore. But yeah, I do have that.

AL: I was just thinking it would be incredible, like if you have the Prayer, sometime on that anniversary of that memorial service, to play that in the auditorium again, I think would be very powerful. And I've seen the pictures from that memorial service, and Reverend Nagatomi's speech and Merritt's speech. And there's certainly, even in Tule Lake, of all places where you'd think Roosevelt would not have had quite so many fans, they had a very elaborate memorial service for him. Just stepping aside for a second, you were talking about President Roosevelt, what responsibility do you think he bears compared to, some people say it was the army pushing it, he just signed it. From your personal perspective, what do you think of him?

GW: I think he had to do what he had to do, and he was very courageous in that respect. And the background of it all is that, yes, he was influenced, or Congress is influenced by outside forces, all these people in California, especially the people with money like the farmers and all that. Because it turned out that's what happened is that they came in and grabbed the land for pennies that today are worth millions a dollar, property-wise and all that. That's what he had to do. But I don't think we, Japanese Americans as a whole, hate Roosevelt because he did that. He's just one of the people involved, and the fact that that happened. And this is why we talk about not, this thing should not happen again maybe for the Muslims or the Arabs or whatever, or Chinese if they ever have war again, that this is something that I don't think will ever happen again. It shouldn't.

AL: So just going back into talking about camp a little bit, didn't Bill start the Jive Bombers?

GW: Yep, he was a trumpeter. He played the trumpet... he played quite a few instruments, but he played the trumpet, sang a lot, but his type of singing was classical. In fact, he trained... when he worked for Seabrook, he became a, what do you call it, a refrigeration engineer, and he set up all the freezing companies or factories for Bird's Eye and all those companies back east, and they sent him to Europe, to Italy, to set up plants for freezing. And when he was in Italy, he was, he took some singing lessons from these operas, these maestros that teach you how to sing and all that. So when he came back, he was better. He had what they call training. I don't know if you remembered this church that Reverend Schuler has at the glass cathedral?

AL: Crystal Cathedral?

GW: Yeah, Crystal Cathedral. Well, he signed a contract to sing with the choir. And every once in a while, they televise it every Sunday, and if you watch, every once in a while they'll focus on Bill's picture when they're singing because I think he became their lead baritone singer. And you couldn't miss him because he had white hair. [Laughs]

AL: And I think, wasn't one of your sisters in the country western band the Sierra Stars?

GW: Lillian.

AL: Lillian?

GW: Lillian sang. She's the one that was so close to Frizzell. It was Frizzell, the teacher that was in the movie also, but he taught music at Manzanar. So Lillian became close to Louis Frizzell, so she was in that western singers. They got some pictures of her in that Japanese museum in L.A.

AL: Were any other members of your family musical? I mean, was music an important part of your family?

GW: Not really, it's just Bill and Lillian seemed to stand out the most because nobody else went into that profession.

AL: And Lillian was, was she in high school?

GW: She was in high school.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AL: Because her name has come up here a number of times, and I was thinking, you know, you come to this reunion, you won't be Jeanne's older brother, you'll be Lillian's little brother because those are her classmates. Or you'll just be Kiyo. So what about... I know in the movie and the book there's a lot where Jeanne talks about when your father came back. Could you tell us from your perspective what you remember of him coming back and who it was that came back?

GW: Well, what I remember, when Dad came back, he was not what you might call warm anymore. He was more like by himself, separated himself, standoffish, you know, wants to be isolated. And that's when he started to brew his own liquor. He made this, in the movie they called it moonshine, but he had a crock pot, and you put fermented rice in it, and you put a stone on it and with a cover, push it down. And what it does is it takes the alcohol out of the rice, and from the rice it drips down and is clear. I think the Koreans called it shochu, rice wine, or rice liquor. Anyway, it's almost a hundred percent alcohol when it drips out, and he was drinking that all the time. And that was when he became alcoholic, like he was drunk all day long. He would cuss at my mom, and that's where the problem became with him and Mom, was he would accuse Mom of infidelity or talking to other men and stuff, because she was working at this other place that they called nutrition because she was a nutrition aide.

Anyway, and the movie depicts my father hitting my mother, and that is true, he did hit my mother. But then it showed me getting up and hitting my father, striking my father, hit him in the nose, but it wasn't me. [Laughs] I was only, what, eleven, maybe twelve years old. Anyway, my brother Ray was living with us at that time, and it was my brother Ray, who was maybe fifteen years old, sixteen, who got up and struck Dad. And I remember that night Jeanne and I were in bed, and we covered up our head. And Dad had this bat in his hand and he's looking for my brother Ray. And Ray by that time fled to my other sister's house. And in the book, Jeanne had to write that... well, at that time when she was writing the book, she asked Ray about, can she write that Ray was the one that hit Dad. But Ray at that time was a Mormon deacon, in the Mormon church, and he didn't want that to be known that he struck Dad. So I think Jeanne asked me if it was okay if she used my name to be the one that hit Dad. I said, "It doesn't bother me at all, that's all right." Because I know I didn't do it. But as far as to keep that in that in the storyline in the book, it's there. But that's what actually happened.

But Dad became an alcoholic and he stayed an alcoholic until we lived in Long Beach when we got out of camp. And one day when I came back from school, Dad used to have this bottle of liquor on the ice box, and every time, in those days, it wasn't a refrigerator, it was an ice box. You put a big ice thing in it. Well, anyway, he had this bottle of liquor on top of the ice box, he would take a swig before he'd go out, take a swig when he comes back in. And then one day I came back from school, I didn't see that bottle there. And I asked Mom, "What happened to that bottle?" "Dad had a stroke today." He had a lifesaving stroke in that he bled through his nose. The, I guess, pressure, let the blood come out of his nose, so he didn't die of a hemorrhage. So the doc told him, "You cannot drink anymore." Lo and behold, the bottle was gone and he became a sober man.

AL: Did he drink before the war?

GW: Oh, yeah. But you know, he wasn't drunk all day long like in camp. He just occasionally, his fisherman buddies would come over and he would drink a lot of beer.

AL: So do you think camp had an impact, you think the camp caused his alcoholism?

GW: I think his experience from when he was in Bismarck... there was a story going around that because Dad could read Japanese and speak English, he was interpreting this American newspaper to the Japanese prisoners that were there with him. And the guys were saying, the prisoners I guess were saying that he wasn't telling them the truth or whatever, so they called him an inu, a rat, or a dog. Inu is another word for dog, so he's like a traitor. So I think when he came back in camp, that was following him. So I think he had a feeling that that would follow him in camp when he's with us, that he's a traitor. That's my thought. And after that he just drank.

AL: So in the movie, it shows the actor coming off, it shows your father, the character, coming off the bus looking twenty years older than he did.

GW: That I can't remember. I don't remember seeing Dad come off the bus or whatever, but I remember seeing him when he's in the barrack with us.

AL: In the, I think it's in the movie, they show that you hit him, not Ray, but that after that, he straightens out, sobers up, puts on his tie and stops drinking. So that's, he did not stop drinking in camp.

GW: No, no. I don't think... maybe he slacked off a little bit, but as far as drinking, because I remember in Long Beach, when we moved to Long Beach, he was still drinking. But he wasn't belligerent to my mom anymore, you know.

AL: Did that change after Ray punched him?

GW: I think so. I think he realized that he shouldn't be doing that to Mom.

AL: What was your mother's response?

GW: That's hard to say. She wasn't very demonstrative or anything like that, so I don't know how Mom felt about that. Like was she gonna leave Dad or whatever, but I don't know.

AL: Do you think it was common in camp to have domestic violence?

GW: I think so. I think our family wasn't, my dad wasn't the only one that had this feeling that they're useless or whatever. Everybody at that age who were in camp. Because they have no job, no way of taking care of the family. It has to be some sort of feeling of uselessness.

AL: Do you know if the community welfare staff ever got involved in your family's situation?

GW: No, I don't think they ever had a community welfare, did they?

AL: They did, and they dealt with domestic abuse and different issues, but I'm sure it's probably like now, you don't know all of it.

GW: Yeah, because I don't think anybody came to our house talking about it or asking us about it, the kids about it.

AL: Was he abusive to your grandmother also?

GW: No. Because I think during camp, the grandmother stayed with my sister Frances. She wasn't in our barracks.

AL: How did her life change when she got her sight back?

GW: I have no idea how she felt. But we felt a lot better because now we didn't have to take her around like you would a blind person, you have to take them everyplace.

AL: Did your mom have much of a social life outside of work?

GW: I don't think so. I don't think anybody in camp had that, mothers at that age had any kind of social life that I know of.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AL: Did your father, that accusation of him being an inu, did that follow him through camp or did it go away?

GW: I think it followed him through camp, because other internees that came out of North Dakota came back to Manzanar, so I'm sure that the story is still there, that they brought back with them.

AL: Of course, one of the things that every family there dealt with was the "loyalty questionnaire." And I know in the film it shows him going up against the character who is the fictional Joe Kurihara. Do you know, did he have any interactions over that publicly?

GW: As far as I know, no. As far as I know. I don't remember anything about the "no-no" questions, what happened or what transpired. My memory of that wasn't... I wasn't concerned. I didn't know the meaning of it really.

AL: How did your life change when your dad came back? You're talking about the abuse, but was it... I hate to say better or worse with him or without him in camp, but just your own daily life, how did that change when he came back?

GW: Well, you know, when I really think about it, it didn't change my life or my feelings at all. Because he was gone, and he was never there when I was growing up as far as I was concerned, because he's always fishing. It's not like you have a dad that went to work at eight and came home, work eight hours and came home, five to eight or that kind of a nine to five job. So family life that I remember with Dad is only when, weekends or maybe on holidays. But I was living my own life, I was gone all day.

AL: Did you and Jeanne socialize much in camp, or were you in different groups?

GW: No, we had different groups. I'm gone, I got my guys to play with. She went with what she had to do.

AL: So when you were there in April, we were talking a little bit about, I think it was Sister Bernadette?

GW: Yeah.

AL: And I was wondering if you could tell the story about Sister Bernadette and your dad, and just their relationship and interactions.

GW: [Laughs] Well, Sister Bernadette was getting my grandmother, trying to get her baptized, you know, going to catechism and all that stuff, and my mother was doing that, too. But she wanted to get Dad to go into the Catholic religion, but Dad was a devoted... I guess, I think he was a Buddhist, and she couldn't change his mind at all. So that was a conflict there.

AL: In the book it talks about her coming over to talk to him about Jeanne, because Jeanne wanted to...

GW: Go.

AL: Go, and there's a showdown between her and him. Did that really happen?

GW: I don't know. I don't recall that at all. I didn't know that Jeanne was really into that, going to take catechism and all that. But I had my own world I was living.

AL: Yeah. In the book she talks about seeing a little girl having her first communion, how she wanted to do that, have the pretty little white dress and be the center of attention. So I'm not sure how much it had to do with theology versus being the center -- I don't know. But it's just interesting because there is a lot of, between the book and the movie and just curious, what things are real and what things are Hollywood. Because in the movie it shows that you have a brother who goes into the military and gets killed. Did you have brothers in the military?

GW: Yeah, Woody. Woody was... in fact, this is the surprising thing about it, here we were in camp, Woody had two kids I think, and he was drafted. He didn't volunteer, he was drafted. And they put him in the CIC, Counterintelligence Corps. He was telling about his training back east and I forgot what the name of the camp was, but he was playing a Japanese soldier. He was playacting, said, "What am I doing here playacting like a Japanese soldier for the army?" But he went overseas and he went right after the war was over. He went into... in fact, they're trying to track down now, an uncle is trying to track down some records to see if he was in the MIS or CIC, so far they can't find the record of his name in there. So he could have been in some black-ops that they don't know.

AL: So your dad obviously had been away from Hiroshima for forty years by the end of the war, or about forty years. Do you remember his reaction or anything he said when the war ends, of course, and people started finding out about the bombing of Hiroshima?

GW: You know, that's the funny thing. We never did talk about that, the family as a whole. But we knew that we had relatives there, had relatives that survived that explosion. But we knew some relatives that died from it. But as far as I recall, there was no family conversation about Hiroshima during the bomb.

AL: On some of the records it's interesting because it shows your mom being a citizen because she was born in Hawaii. Other places it says she's an alien. And I know there was, I don't know the years, but I know for a while there was a law that if a citizen married an alien, she lost her citizenship. Do you know if, do you know, was she an alien or a citizen?

GW: I have no idea. I thought she would be a citizen because she was born in an American territory like Hawaii.

AL: It'll be interesting to talk to you after you read those, because it may make more sense to you. [Laughs] But I saw her, I think she was listed both as a citizen in some places and alien in others.

GW: Well, maybe that's true, because at that time under law, aliens can't own anything. That's why they have their sons as property owners.

AL: Were you ever treated in the hospital, besides that first bout of measles, were you ever treated in the big hospital?

GW: No. You know, in fact, I just met somebody from camp who said he knew my dad, because his father was a dentist and Dad was working in the dentist's office in the big hospital making false teeth. And one of the things that I remember is that there was this Indian that lived on the reservation close to camp who came into camp and my dad made him false teeth. And this Indian guy would come over at least once a month with deer, deer meat for us. We would have venison, and Dad and this Indian would drink his home brew and get drunk.

AL: Do you know if he was from Lone Pine or Independence or anything about him?

GW: I have no idea. All I know is that it was... this place was an Indian reservation at one time, so I guess there was Indians still living around there.

AL: Yeah, there are still reservations in Lone Pine and Independence, Lone Pine and Bishop.

GW: So they're still living there.

AL: There's actually some of your father's wage statements in there about when he was making dentures. He made sixteen bucks a month, but at that time your mother was making nineteen dollars, which was an interesting dynamic. And you also will have a case file that you can write to the National Archives and get it, and yours is probably going to be very thin because you were a kid, but it will have things like report cards. I saw, Hanako showed me the one that Ray had. He had some issues with behavior in school and not applying himself and stuff like that will come up. But in your mother's file they keep listing him as Roy.

GW: Not Ray?

AL: Yeah, typo. I know that you had some nieces and nephews born in Manzanar.

GW: Yes. We tried to get 'em to come up for this reunion, but they wouldn't come. I think George Ko Wakatsuki number two, we saw him Saturday. We came up for my niece's, we had a memorial service for my niece there in Oxnard and we told them about the reunion. Then there's Gary, my other nephew born in camp. I can't remember who the other ones were. Larry... but they're all in their sixties now.

AL: Maybe they'll come next year after you tell 'em about your experience.

GW: Well, I'm just wondering, are you gonna have one next year?

AL: Well, we don't have it, but we hope they will. How... you had such a big family in camp. Were there any other major life changes that you recall that took place in your family?

GW: Well, other than the births? No.

AL: Nobody died in camp?

GW: No. The only revelation that came out is that they had cataract surgery on Grandma and she could see again.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AL: Tell me the story of how you guys left camp.

GW: Well, it wasn't like the movie where we got in this jalopy and Dad drives off. But we did have, I don't know where he got it from, maybe he went to Lone Pine. But he got this Nash sedan, I think it was about a 1938 Nash sedan, and it had a gearshift on the dashboard. And must have been a twelve-cylinder, and we drove from there to Long Beach. I don't think it was packed with stuff all over, but the only thing I remember is we left camp and we ended up in Long Beach.

AL: How many of your family went to Seabrook?

GW: It was Lillian, Martha and her husband, Ray, Bill, Tomi, Bill's wife and son. Did I say Lillian? Yeah, I think that's it that went to Seabrook. And Lillian used to tell us about the story, they're working out in the field picking vegetables and here were these Italian prisoners of war right beside them picking vegetables, trying to make out with all the girls. [Laughs]

AL: Yeah, that's interesting. When did they, your family, did any of them stay in New Jersey or did they all come back west?

GW: Eventually they all came back west. Bill stayed the longest because he had the best job, so he stayed the longest. In fact, I guess he was considered an expert on refrigeration and freezing, and next job he came out, he went to Los Angeles and he became a, he set up the freezing plant for Carl's Jr.'s hamburgers. So he set up their plant to make their patties, freezer patties.

AL: How long did your father live after the war? You talked a little bit about him in San Jose and strawberries and his stroke, how long did he live?

GW: Let's see. I got out of the service in 1956, '57, I went and started work in July, and so it must have been... '58, '59, he must have died in '60, early sixties.

AL: And what did he die of?

GW: Cancer. He had cancer of the esophagus. He was sick for quite a while, but he didn't show too much signs of it, but he didn't become bedridden until maybe four or five weeks before he died.

AL: Did he ever recover from his losses, you know, during the war or during camp?

GW: As far as monetary-wise, no. But my father was like a dreamer. He wanted to, when we got out of camp, we lived in Long Beach, he became... well, he became an influence of, he knew a lot of people who wanted to start businesses and stuff, so he wanted to, he was talking about setting up a park, home park. Like he visualized shopping centers and stuff, and he wanted to build a home, homes for Japanese residents who came after camp. But he used to talk about it a lot. And he used to go to canneries and get tuna, they call it... I forgot what the name of it. Well, anyway, they make this katsuo they call it in Japanese, it's made of detritus tuna, parts of the tuna, they dry it and then they, it's almost hard as a brick, you can hit it. And you scrape it and you get the flakes and that's what you make your tuna, what they call dashi or soup. He had a plan of setting up a plant to do that. And he started, at least he started to get the tuna and started to smoke and dry it, but there's no plant, he's doing it in the backyard. Then he was getting abalone from Mexico, and he was drying it and slicing it, making this dried abalone, but he was doing it in the house and drying it outside in the yard. He wanted to start a plant for doing that, but it didn't work out.

AL: When you were there in April, we went out to Block 28 where you guys moved after 16. What was it like to go there and see the rocks that he placed there?

GW: Well, you know, Block 28 I don't have too good memories of, for some reason. Because when we moved from Block 16, all my friends are gone now, they didn't move to the same block as I did. Like I talked to Sam, and he moved to Block 22 and I moved to Block 28. So now we parted, we don't have friends close to us. And only thing I remember is we were so close to the pear orchards that I would go out and pick these pears, green pears, wrap 'em up in newspaper and we'd put it in cartons and put it underneath the house and wait for them to ripen. That's the only thing I remember of Block 28.

AL: Did you have a basement?

GW: Not per se as a basement, it's just that you could get underneath the house. Some people actually dug holes and made a basement, but I don't recall us digging a hole, but I don't remember digging a hole.

AL: So when you lived in 28, you were right next to the Children's Village orphanage. Did you have any consciousness of that being there or of the kids?

GW: No, this is what I'm saying, I don't remember much about 28 at all. Only thing I remember is this orchard that we were able to get pear from.

AL: What about your mom's life after the war?

GW: Mom after the war, she had it harder because Dad wasn't the breadwinner anymore. So she had to go out and work, so she worked at the cannery. And so she was, became the moneymaker, but then my other brothers and sisters of that age went out and tried to get work, so that supported the family. Jeanne and I were the only ones that couldn't contribute because we were too young, we were going to school. But Lillian, Ray, they found jobs and were able to support the family.

AL: How long did your mom live?

GW: You know, I can't even remember what year she died. But she must have lived at least eight, maybe ten years or longer than Dad. But she would live with my sisters, she would change homes, she would live sometimes in Oxnard for a while with my sister Lillian.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AL: So unlike most people in Manzanar, the book, your sister's not the first person to write a book about camp, because there were other ones that came out in the '40s, '50s. But probably I think it's safe to say the first really well-known book that got known in the larger public. What has it been like for you to have your family portrayed first in the book and in the movie? Were you involved at all in creating the book?

GW: In creating the book, Jeanne and her husband Jim Houston were... well Jim was mostly, he's the writer in the family. And Jeanne would, they would come over and get us together and we would talk, and they would tape record everything. And from all these ideas that they get from the family, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law that were in camp, that it would be recorded. I don't know if Jeanne has these recordings anymore, but then that's how the book became. And then the movie was something different because this guy, like I said, John Korty, read the book, he liked it, and I guess he contacted Jeanne and really wanted to make a movie from the book. And so they collaborated and they wrote the movie script and all that stuff. But I think the biggest point that became well-known to the public, they had a... when they made the TV, they had a special showing for the Congress in Washington, D.C. Did she talk to you about that? They had a special screening for Congress, so after the Congress saw it, they never knew about, as much as, at that time, what happened really in camp, camp life and all that. And that's what started the ball rolling I think for reparations and all that stuff from that movie. And then when the movie was released to the public, it played on NBC, and it was the first time that NBC ran over the two-hour limit for showing it. I think it lasted two hours and fifteen minutes. So I think the television station knew the importance of this movie, and I think it really opened up the door for more discussion, maybe reparations would happen, and then Reagan was the one who pushed the reparation bill and Bush was the one who signed it.

AL: Was there anyone in your family who was not happy about having your family be portrayed to a national audience?

GW: As far as I know, no.

AL: Has it changed your life at all?

GW: Not really. Well... not really at all. In fact, I worked at, I was working at Lockheed, which was a major defense contractor at that time when it came out. And they made a story in their monthly newspaper that comes out for the company, they had a storyline on me and the book and the TV program. It made me well-known in the company itself.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AL: This is tape three of an oral history interview with Kiyo Wakatsuki, it is July 22, 2014. The interviewer is Alisa Lynch, videographer Mark Hachtmann, notes by Larisa Proulx, and Bernadette Johnson is also here. So we were just talking about, you were talking about your postwar career working for Lockheed. When were you in the military and where were you stationed?

GW: I went and volunteered for the navy in 1951, January 1951, it was during the Korean War. I didn't want to be drafted and go in the army, so I said I would volunteer to go in the navy. I spent five years, my normal term was only five years -- four years. But during my naval career I ended up in Okinawa, I was stationed there for thirteen months. I met my first wife there, I wanted to get married, and it took me eighteen months to get my paperwork through to get approval to get married. So we were married in Japan, and brought her over in 1956, and that was my naval career. And I was discharged in 1956, January of '56. I started to go to school, and I worked on the farm, the strawberry farm, during that 1956, and then went to school at (San Jose City) College while I was working. And in '57, July of '57, I got a job with Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California.

AL: What did you do there?

GW: I first went in as a draftsman, and then I worked there for thirty years. And I progressed, got my college degree and I became what you call a designer and then I became a production design expert, production design senior. And then I became a group engineer, which was like a supervisor of engineers. And then retired in 1987, March of '87. But it was during this... when I was working at Lockheed that the movie came out that they did an article on the movie and myself because I was an employee of Lockheed, Lockheed newsletter, and it was a nice article. It told about the movie and all that. So I became known on that fact because of the movie, because there's a lot of people working for Lockheed at that time, in Sunnyvale there was twenty thousand of them. It was during the 1960s where they had the Cold War going on, and we had to build this missile that would deter the Russians from attacking, so it was an important job.

AL: Did you ever have anybody react to... I've had other people say, well, "The first time I told somebody about this happening they said, 'Oh, no, that didn't happen,' 'No, we wouldn't do that.'" Did you ever have, like when that article came out, anybody doubt?

GW: No. But I had a lot of people come up to me and said they saw the movie and they read the book. They liked the book. I guess I became more well-known or famous because of the book that people read, that people were reading. And in fact, guys bring in the book, they wanted me to autograph it for them. So it was interesting.

AL: What do you think the biggest differences are between the book and the movie? Do you have a preference for one over the other?

GW: Oh, the book. I have preference over the book. The movie only because it can depict visually what life was like in camp, but in the book you can't see everything. You could picture it in your mind, but it isn't there. But in the movie, I had a bit part in it. The scene where we take this guy and beat him up when he's in the latrine, I'm one of the guys that grabs him and punch him. [Laughs]

AL: I'll have to go back and look for you.

GW: You can't see me at all, just hear me grunting.

AL: Is there any other members of your family who were in the movie?

GW: Oh, yeah, my brother-in-law Kaz was in there, he's the one that's playing the shakuhachi. They had pictures of Lillian in there, my niece Cathy was in there, my nephew Randy was a spectator in there. Quite a bit of the family.

AL: And that opening scene where they're driving their Volkswagen to the camp, is that really Jim and Jeanne and their kids?

GW: No, that isn't them, but it almost looks like them.

AL: It looks like her. That's not her?

GW: No, that wasn't Jeanne or her kids.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AL: So this trip in April, was that your first trip back to Manzanar?

GW: Yeah.

AL: What was that like?

GW: It was mind-boggling. You know, it was very, very... I don't know what you might call it, but it impressed me so much that I had to stand there and take it all in, because it was mind-boggling that here I am, standing sixty-seven years later, in a place where I was a kid running around, no fence around it anymore, but it's someplace that I lived and endured my childhood there for a while. It was quite an experience. And I want to thank you for taking us through there, because it really brought back memories.

AL: Well, it was an honor, is an honor to meet you.

GW: Thank you.

AL: Your parents were both gone by the time the book and the movie came out.

GW: Yes.

AL: What do you think they would have thought about it?

GW: Well, I think my father would have been in an uproar. [Laughs] Because showing that scene of him getting drunk and hitting Mom and getting socked in the face. But other than that, I think he would, they would be proud of that. They would be more proud of the book really than of the movie.

AL: Jeanne says in the book that she was the first of her generation to go to college, she was the first of her generation to marry a Caucasian. So did she marry before May married?

GW: Yes.

AL: And what was your parents' reaction?

GW: Well, as far as I know, that they didn't approve of the marriage. That's why Jeanne and Jim had to go to Hawaii to get married. They got married on the beach, beach ceremony in Hawaii. Because Jim very rarely came over to the farm, because of Dad, I think. Dad would probably shoo him away.

AL: Did they ever reconcile with him?

GW: I don't know. I don't know if they did. Because Jeanne wasn't around when Dad died, as far as I remember. I don't think Jeanne was in town. Because when Dad died (when I was) working in the post office, and I got a call, and I had to take Dad into the hospital. He passed away that same day. So I don't remember seeing Jeanne at all.

AL: Yeah, he's certainly larger than life in the book. When Jeanne and her husband were writing the book, do you have any idea, sort of, how they divided the labor? Like she pulled the memories together and he wrote them, or they co-wrote, do you have any idea --

GW: No.

AL: -- how they created it?

GW: No. As far as I know is that Jim was maybe more of the prose writer, you know, the prose in it, how the words were spoken and all that. And Jeanne is... she can write, in fact, she was a journalism major when she was going through college. So Jeanne has written some books of her own already, which are presentable, I mean, good that she's able to write. She does well. But Jim is the one that, I guess, put things together, because he taught that in college really, he had some classes in writing.

AL: I've read her book Fire Horse Woman, and I actually am a Fire Horse. [Laughs] I think... that's interesting.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AL: So your family, after the war, could you give us just sort of a quick synopsis of what they went on to do in their lives? I know there are so many it would take you probably ten hours, but just sort of the quick synopsis, we talked about Bill was a singer, just who they were and when they left us.

GW: Well, Bill, being the oldest, let's say that he went from Seabrook, he came out, he's a refrigeration expert, he got some first-time jobs of putting up new plants. He put up plants in Sanger for processing fruit and stuff, and then they moved to Los Angeles and came to work for Carl's Jr. He became more of a consultant in L.A., and he passed away with prostate cancer when he was seventy-two years old. And next in line is Eleanor, who is now ninety-two years old.

AL: She's still alive?

GW: Yes. In fact, we saw her this last weekend because we went to the memorial service together. So Eleanor left camp with her husband Shig, and they lived in Reno for a while. Then after they moved to... they came to San Jose, too, and worked on a strawberry farm. But Shig was also drafted in the army out of camp. And Shig passed away maybe about ten years ago with old age, I guess you might call it.

AL: What is Eleanor's married name?

GW: Nishikawa. She's the one that had Gary who was born in camp. And next in line is Frances, who was married right before we went to camp, her husband was named Babe Nishida, and they went to Seabrook. After Seabrook they moved out to Hawthorne, California, he worked as a welder, she never did work, she was a housewife most of the time. And I'm not sure when they passed away. Anyway, next in line after Frances is Martha. Martha was married right before war started to a Terminal Island guy, Kaz Takade. So they were, lived in Block 9. They went to Seabrook also, and after coming back from Seabrook, they relocated to Long Beach and they lived in one of those housing projects from there. Kaz died of cancer, I don't know what year, I don't know what year, but maybe twelve years ago. And Martha is still living. But she's pretty old now where she can't remember anybody anymore at that age. And after Martha there's Lillian. No, no, I forgot Woody in there, didn't I? Woody is before Martha. Woody was drafted in the army, Georgie and... right before went in camp, Patty was born. And Georgie was born in camp. He served in the service, I don't know, maybe three or four years.

And they moved to San Pedro or close to San Pedro, when we got out of camp. He's the one that they had a boat, the Waka. No, not the Waka. He had the Waka before the war, but after the war, in 1947, him and his brother-in-law would go out and fish off the Santa Monica pier. The guys would hire them, they'd go on as, take a boat out and they'd fish for mackerel and come in. And one time they went out, they caught so much fish, they sank the boat. Yeah, they were scooping the mackerel up, and the boat started settling, and the water came over the gunnel, over the sides. And it sank up to the top of the cabin, they sat on top of the cabin yelling for help because they fish at night. And that story made Look magazine as a big joke, fishermen go out and catch so much fish they sink the boat. [Laughs] Then they got offers by all kinds of people to come fish for them, they want their boat sunk. [Laughs] But anyway, Woody was the, became famous. In the 1960s, there was a wrestling, Japanese wrestler called Mr. Moto, and they'd travel around the United States wrestling. But he was a villain at that time, Mr. Moto was, but he had his assistant called Professor Tsugi, that was my brother Woody. He would have on this these wooden slippers, the getas, and a robe, and he was always the one that throws salt on the ring, sterilize the mat and stuff. But he was the one that was always hitting the other wrestler over the head with this wooden shoes and stuff, and he's the one that gets thrown in the ring and thrown out of the ring. So he was the traveling partner of Mr. Moto.

AL: It's kind of like the modern World Wrestling show?

GW: Yeah.

AL: Is there any video of that? Do you know if it was ever filmed?

GW: I haven't seen it, but it must have been on video because we could watch it, we watched it on video in those days. You could probably find it.

AL: So when did he pass away?

GW: You know, on these death things, I'm not really sure, but it's been quite a few years maybe. He died before Bill died, so that's maybe twelve years ago, maybe more than that. Then his wife Chizu passed away. Woody had seven kids, and it was surprising when we went to this memorial service for Patty, who is Woody's daughter, and she was married twice, but they had all these kids lined up on the side. We had to go ask each one, "Who are you?" "Who are you?" We didn't know that she had that many offsprings that had offsprings. And she had offsprings, offsprings, offsprings, so she was like a grandma times over.

So Woody... and I talked about Martha, didn't I? After Martha is Lillian. Lillian also was living in San Jose with her husband, Tok had... they had one daughter, one daughter and a son. And they did strawberries, and then after strawberries they went to Oxnard and raised strawberries in Oxnard. And since then, Lillian passed away, her husband Tok passed away. Their daughter happened to marry Ray. Ray married Hatsu, which is Lillian and Tok's daughter.

AL: Ray your brother married his niece?

GW: I guess you'd call it that, huh? No, no, no.

AL: Wait, I'm getting confused.

GW: No. Hatsu is Tok's sister, sister-in-law.

AL: Okay, that's a little better.

GW: Okay, yeah, there you go. [Laughs] See? That's what happens when you get old.

AL: So brothers married sisters.

GW: Yeah.

AL: And what was Lillian's married name?

GW: Katayama.

AL: Katayama?

GW: Katayama. And then after Lillian came Ray, and then Ray married Tok's sister. He has a son, three sons and a daughter. Most of them live in Oxnard, and are no longer farming, though, they don't farm. And after Ray came Mae, she's the one that happened to... I introduced her to her husband, and passed away, May passed away pretty young. She was like forty-five or so, she got cancer and passed away fast. And then after May comes myself, and we're talking about myself already, then Jeanne.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AL: And how many kids do you have?

GW: From my first marriage I have... well, that's the only kids I have, is from my first marriage, is Lisa and Janet. Janet is like, close to fifty-eight, fifty-nine now, she lives in Maui, she's not married. My other daughter is Lisa who lives up in Chimacum, Washington, which is near Port Townsend. She has three sons and a daughter. The daughter has already made my, her mother, Lisa, or my daughter, Lisa, a grandma four times over. So I'm a four-time great grandfather. [Laughs] And then I divorced my first wife who was from Okinawa, who was Lisa's and Janet's mother, and I married Charlotte, who is my current wife, in 1978. And she has a big family herself, she's got two sons and a daughter from her second marriage. She's got a son from a first marriage, and not too many grandkids, though. But on her side, she grew up in Hawaii, she was born in Hawaii, so her family in Hawaii is pretty big, they're well-known. But one of her older brothers, who used to be the president of Aloha Airlines, president of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, and then her brother's a lawyer, one's a doctor, but they're all retirement ages, but they're still working. She had a, what do you call it, her auntie died at the age of a hundred and four.

AL: Wow.

GW: She was rich, she had millions of dollars. She bequeathed about five million dollars to the University of Hawaii. She has another aunt now, still living, who's a hundred and two, and she has some, I guess you might call it her uncle's wife, are pretty old. So they must live long in Hawaii. And what I'm afraid of is Charlotte's got that gene, is gonna last a long time, longer than I am. [Laughs]

AL: What do you care if she lasts longer than you? [Laughs] And then so Jeanne has, Jeanne and Jim have three kids?

GW: Yeah. Josh, twins... yeah.

AL: I wanted to ask you also a story about Woody, and that is, Jeanne talks in the book about him going and meeting your aunt, I think her name was Tomi? No, Tomi's your sister-in-law. An aunt in Japan who tells him a story about how they buried his father, how they buried your father in the cemetery. Is that a true story? What do you know about Woody --

GW: I don't even know that story. I haven't heard of that.

AL: Didn't you read the book?

GW: Was it in the book?

AL: It talks about Woody going to meet your father's favorite aunt in Japan. This is like in the '40s. And in the book it talks about how happy she is to know that Ko lived and had a family and that they had buried, they had a grave for him there because he never came back and they never heard from him.

GW: Hmm, I never heard that one.

AL: Maybe it's just in the book, but I just was curious if that was...

GW: Well, I've heard stories of... I don't know if any records have been made of Woody, but it was overseas, he would, I don't know if he went on these excursions and stuff, but I think he was... I heard that he was one time, he gave sugar to his aunts or something in Hiroshima, and they found out about it or something, they were gonna court-martial him for giving sugar to, sugar out for black market or whatever. I don't know whatever came of that. In fact, Ray's son, Greg, works for the government and somehow he's been trying to track the records and see where Woody would show up. They can't find him in the MIS files or in the CIC files. So he's trying to see where he can dig his name up, if it appears anyplace.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AL: What would you say to, like there are so many schoolkids who read the book. It's required reading in some fourth grade classes, I think. Is there anything you'd like to say to people now or in the future just about your story and your life as you reflect back on it?

GW: I've made... the couple of times they've asked me to, well, this church school, I remember my nephew's wife was a teacher at this church, Sunday school, and she wanted me to talk about camp. Because this was, it's a Methodist church, but it's a Japanese Methodist church in San Jose. And I made a couple talks there and I told him my experience in camp. And my experience has always been a good experience because at my age when I was there, it was like summer camp. So I tried to talk to 'em at their age there now, that's how old I was, and how was it like to go to summer camp, and that's it. There was no way of telling them about this feeling that could occur later on, when you think about it, that didn't appear, this is what I tried to tell them that, that experience in camp, to me, myself, was not bad at all. It's for these people who were fifteen or sixteen, seventeen, college age or high school age that could be a problem because there was nothing for them to do after school. But for me it was fine. That's what I try to convey to the kids when I talk to them, that my experience, that was my experience, but I told 'em it was not everybody's experience, it could be different than mine. That's all I can tell 'em.

AL: You got to see Manzanar briefly in April, I know we were just sort of running around, and I hope you get to come back sometime with more time.

GW: I am going to come back, I'm going to try to make it next year because I want, Lisa's the one that lived in Seattle, and she's the one that found out all these books that she's been sending me about camp. And so she says her kids are now interested about camp, and she found this DVD that she played the DVD to them, so they're interested in it. So she wants to get her family. So I said sure, let's make a trip, we'll try to stay maybe Lone Pine or Independence, stay overnight, take a trip out to Manzanar.

AL: Yeah, let us know if we can help with anything. We just had a family come up a couple weeks ago, and we didn't know who they were, just a family reunion. We've had a number of family reunions come up. And one of our colleagues, Ranger Rose, was doing a tour, and it wasn't until the end that they said the name of the family members, it was a guy named Taira Fukushima, who passed away about a year and a half ago. And Rose knew him, and he's going to be in the interview in our barracks, and he's, they were amazed that we knew who he was. It was like, of course, we love Taira. So we always are happy, if there's anything we can do to facilitate connections or tours, or you can just, obviously, come up and do your own thing. But from what you saw or coming back, could you describe what your vision of an ideal Manzanar as far as a historic site or teaching place, what would you like to see Manzanar be or do?

GW: Well, what I've seen so far, and you're gonna be putting up examples of barracks, right?

AL: We hope the latrines, we have two barracks.

GW: Okay. Well, what you're showing is exactly what people need to see, because it will visualize for them, get the feeling of what life was like, you get that feeling. But trying to restore the ponds and the park, that's a good idea, too, because that was part of life. And as far as having to go back and put up more buildings, I don't think you need to do that, myself. What you've got there is beautiful, the auditorium set up is fantastic. We went to the Japanese museum in L.A., and to me, that has a lot of camp scenes, different camps. But to go to Manzanar, and you have that feeling and your visuals, what you're seeing, that mountain back there, you can't beat that. You do not have to put up a bunch of barracks, and your exhibit in that auditorium, it's good for the amount of time people will have to spend at Manzanar. Because people are just coming by, and they're going to go in there, and they're going to see, they're going to spend maybe one or two hours. And what you got in there is perfect for that. And especially when you get in there first and you see the video, that video that you have showing camp and all that stuff, that's good. The only thing I would say is maybe expand that a little bit, but that is really good. Because you get a general description of what it was like there, and then they go out and look around the auditorium, and then you take a trip around into the barracks and stuff, and then you feel that.

AL: Do you think there'd be any benefit to building, like, the latrines?

GW: One. Latrine and maybe the laundry, but the latrine will give them the sense of what's it's like to go in the latrine and have no privacy at all. We had the stool and all that, commodes, and no partitions between them, for the women it was horrible, and then open showers and all that. Yeah, especially the latrines, if you can make one. But you don't need to make it look dirty. [Laughs] I remember in the movie they made it look pretty dirty, and it wasn't really that bad.

AL: What did you think of the redress movement? I mean, you talked about how the film may have helped to encourage, get that on the radar, the congresspeople. But for you personally, when you got the apology and the check, what did that mean to you?

GW: To me it meant that it's over, the fighting is over of trying to get reparations. We got what we were fighting for, recognition that a wrong has been fixed. Whether... it could have been just a letter saying, you know, apology, it didn't need the money. Money meant nothing to us as far as I'm concerned, just a formal apology that they know that it was a bad thing to do and it shouldn't be done again.

AL: Were you involved in the redress movement at all?

GW: No. In fact, the funny thing is, I didn't get involved in the JACL or any of that stuff at home. I guess it goes back to like the beginning, we never talked about it. We want to hide it, we want to bury our heads and forget about it.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AL: Were you surprised when you came to Manzanar and we knew who you were?

GW: Yeah. [Laughs] I really was. But I was interested in finding you, because I read the book The Children of Manzanar. My daughter Lisa sent it to me. She said, there's a quote in there of you reading Jeanne's book, and that's what got you into, involved in all this Manzanar stuff. So when I went to Manzanar, I wanted to seek you out and see you, tell you what a wonderful thing you're doing.

AL: I think about, like I said in the book, about being there in the eighth grade, and before there was anything there, and just standing out at that sentry post, and I mean, even as a kid, my hair was standing on end, and it's almost like this vibration of the power of that place. And I think that's what... and I mean, I'm not the only one on the staff who feels that, it's just something special about it, even though it's a place of pain and misery and so many things people went through.

GW: You know what I attribute that to? The Indian reservation that was there. Because when I was there when I was a kid, when the windstorm come up, there was one tree, big tree there, that they used to tell stories about the Indians, and you see these Indian ghosts around that tree. And I remember going by that tree and feeling all creepy and stuff, and almost feel that spirit of the Indians around there. And here I was ten, twelve years old, I didn't know nothing about that, but you could feel it. And one of the favorite things I liked to do was when the wind was blowing, go out in the sandstorm and stand in the sand breaks and look for arrowheads.

AL: Do you have any left?

GW: I used to. But when we got out of camp and we moved to Long Beach, we had to put a lot of stuff in storage. You don't pay storage, well, they get rid of it. I had all my arrowheads and all my souvenirs from Manzanar in that place.

AL: You know, there are burials there. We don't advertise that, but there are... yeah.

GW: I wouldn't doubt it. You can feel that spirit. I believe in that kind of stuff.

AL: Are there any things that you wanted to share that I didn't know to ask you about or think to ask you about, or just anything you'd like to... we still have some time left on your half hour. Anything that you'd like to share with us?

GW: There's nothing that I can say other than the fact that I'm very grateful for what you're doing. Because when I'm gone, my kids will be able to talk about it and see it, and I hope you keep it up, I hope it doesn't go on the wayside.

AL: Do you think you'll come back to the reunion next year if there is one?

GW: If there's going to be one, I'll be back, if I'm alive. Because I'm getting old, too. [Laughs] When I see all these guys at the reunion, not too many that I remember. In fact, you ever met Sam? He remembers me, but for the life of us, I can't remember him. And we used to go out and play together.

AL: Do you think... well, you said your sister Martha, that her memory's gone. Your sister Eleanor, do you think she would ever be willing to consider doing an interview?

GW: I was trying to get her to come, to come to Manzanar, but she might, if she's living next year, maybe I can drag her down.

AL: Or we also sometimes take trips and go to people's houses and talk with them if they're interested. I know it was a little pulling teeth on my part and a lot of shoving on Charlotte's part to get you to do this. It wasn't so bad, was it?

GW: No. I can't believe how... holy mackerel, it's four o'clock, I've been talking this long.

AL: What has it been like to talk about it?

GW: I don't know. It makes me think more now about Manzanar. I sort of forgot about it over the years. And I'm grateful that I'm alive enough to come for this reunion and see things. But this is part of my life, an important part of my life. Glad I came.

AL: What do you think Woody would think to know his granddaughter's working at Tule Lake?

GW: You know, even I'm surprised. I didn't know that she was working up there, and we just saw her this week, and Hanako says she was, her friend is going to be down there instead of her. So now her family is going to be more tied in with this stuff, with Manzanar stuff. And by rights they should. All the family should, I think the Wakatsuki clan should look into more, look at Manzanar. It's part of their heritage.

AL: And you know, she has the... as I was mentioning last night, she has the case files for Bill and Tomi and Woody and Chizu, Ray. I don't think she has everybody's, but...

GW: She sent these down, right?

AL: Yeah, she went me those and I printed them. You know, like Tomi's has a lot of medical stuff, and so I thought it's up to you if you want to get them from her. Because these records, we never know, we the Park Service don't get them, only families can get them. And so the only ones we have are the ones that people have shared with us. And so Hanako knows I have an interest, and I correspond with Jeanne, and so she had sent them to me back in May. I think it might have -- so it was after I met you, because I wrote to her and Jeanne, I said, "Guess who was here?"

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AL: Did your family have any interactions with the Protestant church, or was your dad just busy fighting with the nuns?

GW: No. As far as I know, there was... we really wasn't a churchgoing family per se, like everybody, I didn't go to church on Sunday. I still don't go to church every Sunday, just once in a while. And my daughters don't. So as far as religion goes, it's not something that's a serious topic or anything in our family. Nobody's overzealous with Christianity or Buddhism. We follow a lot of the Buddhism things that you're supposed to do if you're Buddhist, like a person dies, you cremate 'em and then you wait one year, you can't travel and stuff like that. And some families do that, and you put their ashes in the Buddhist church and you have to go visit every seven years, and every seven years you'll have some kind of ceremony for 'em. Myself, I don't follow that.

AL: Are your folks buried over in San Jose?

GW: My father and mother are in the same gravesite, May is in another gravesite, three are located in San Jose. That's something I've been thinking about because I'm getting kind of old, I said, "What am I going to do? What shall I do?"

AL: Go to Vegas.

GW: I figure I'm the believer of something simple. You don't need to bury me, just get me cremated, take my ashes and throw me in front of Santa Cruz over there where I go fishing and throw me out in the ocean.

AL: That's where you live now, Santa Cruz?

GW: No, I live in San Jose.

AL: San Jose.

GW: But that's where Jeanne lives, in Santa Cruz. It's only thirty minutes away from our house in San Jose. I go fishing all the time.

AL: So are you and Jeanne still close?

GW: Not really. That's the funny thing about it, I very rarely see her. I haven't seen her in maybe two or three years now. I haven't even talked to her. I try to talk to her and I can't get her on the phone. Send her emails, she doesn't answer me on email. Won't answer Charlotte, Charlotte tries to get a hold of her. But the funny thing is, we live so close together, my sister Eleanor lives close by, I very rarely see her.

AL: So you should tell Jeanne, "Hey, don't you know me? I'm in a famous book. Call me back."

GW: Oh, I'm going to tell her, "Hey, I'm going to have a video out, you'd better watch out."

AL: That's right.

GW: I'm going to tell the whole story about the book.

AL: That's right, the next book I'll put your video in. "Oh, I talked to this guy Kiyo." Bernadette, did you have any questions?

BJ: I actually do, and I'll try to be short about it. But early on in your conversation, you mentioned when your mother and you were on the bus after leaving camp, and that you think that was the first time you felt the pain of discrimination. And you also had mentioned earlier that you and Jeanne would have done anything for your mother because she would have done that for you, yet you said you couldn't do anything about it. How did that make you feel?

GW: Well, you got to remember how old I was. With my mother, this experience I had with my mother, I was junior high school, and we were walking down the street in downtown Long Beach, and some lady, we walked past her, stopped in front of Mom and spit on her and said, "Jap, go home." And here I am, I'm just a kid. I respect elders that much that I ain't gonna try to hit her, that old lady who spit on my mom. And all we can do is walk away. And that's what hurt so much, is that there was so much I want to do but I can't do. And even riding on buses, I used to stand waiting for a bus, and some guy called me, come by me and says, "You can't get on that bus, you're a Jap. Go home. Don't get on that bus." So I stand there, I don't get on that bus. There's nothing I can do. That was the most painful part of being a Japanese American is being discriminated like that where you can't do nothing about it.

And I remember walking with Woody, we were walking down Long Beach and we went to a movie and we were coming back, and Woody was in uniform. And some guy bumped him, and Woody turned around, he was going to hit him and says, "Look, I'm an American, I've got this uniform on. I'm working on saving your country." And the guy didn't say anything, but you know that he was trying to pick a fight or something like that. It's things like that happened that sort of make me, I think gave me that inferiority complex that stayed with me for a long time. But I was able to work that through because when I went to high school I was, I played football, I was a football captain, I made, I got a scholarship when I got out of high school, so I did things that helped me recover to show that I don't need to be inferior, that I'm not inferior, I'm just as good as the other guy. But I think that's where deep down, at that age, you feel this power of inferiority complex because of my race, of who I am, and it's hard. It's hard. But it's different now. I feel I'm just as good as the other guy.

AL: What did you think after September 11th when you saw what was happening?

GW: Right away, first thing hit my mind, there's going to be talk about putting all the Arabs in internment camps. There was some talk about it, wasn't there? Rounding up the Muslims and putting them in camp. That's what I first thought. But it's a good thing it never happened, and it shouldn't happen. That's enough talking. [Laughs]

AL: Well, Kiyo, on behalf of all of us and the National Park Service, we are beyond grateful. I can't even tell you how honored we are to talk to you, and have a chance to help preserve your recollections. And for me, personally, it's really interesting because that book changed my life as a kid. It got me interested in something I never knew anything about, and it stayed with me for a long time. It's why I'm at Manzanar. So it means even more to me to have a chance to talk with you and meet you, and love spending time with you. Like I said, on behalf of all of us and on behalf of anyone who hears this in years to come, thank you for your time, for sharing your heart, your memories, and for bringing your family to life.

GW: Thank you, it's been a pleasure.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.