Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Miyoko Uzaki Interview
Narrator: Miyoko Uzaki
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Fresno, California
Date: September 11, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-umiyoko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: My name is Kristen Luetkemeier, I'm with the Manzanar Oral History Project, and today is September 11, 2014, and I'm here in Fresno in the home of Marion and Saburo Masada with Saburo's sister, Marion's sister-in-law, Miyo Uzaki, for an oral history interview. And Mark Hachtmann is in the room, Saburo and Marion are also in the home, and we're going to be talking today about Miyo's experiences growing up in Caruthers, California, and her time in Jerome and Rohwer, Arkansas, and then her, the rest of her adult life later. I'm really happy to be here. Miyo, I just want to confirm that we have your permission to record this interview and make it available to the public.

MU: Okay.

KL: Okay. Well, thank you. Just so we can place you in time a little bit, would you tell us first your name at birth and when and where you were born.

MU: My name is Miyoko -- people call me Miyo, short -- Uzaki. My birthday is January 15th, I was born 1920. Yeah.

KL: And let's, I want to ask you about your parents and your grandparents, so let's start with your mother. What was her name?

MU: Her name was Nobuye Onishi.

KL: Would you spell Nobuye Onishi?

MU: O-N-I-S-H-I.

KL: And Nobuye is N-O-B-O-Y-E?

MU: N-O-B-U-Y-E.

KL: And where was she born?

MU: She was born in Japan, in Kagawa Prefecture. That's the little island just south of Osaka.

KL: What do you know about her family?

MU: She has two sisters. She's got a number of nieces and nephews. Her mother was, let's see, she was, she died when, after coming back from Manchuria.

KL: Her mother was in Manchuria?

MU: Yeah.

KL: Why?

MU: A number of Japanese, when Japan was powerful, many of the Japanese went to Manchuria.

KL: Do you know what she did there?

MU: No, I have, I hadn't heard.

KL: Do you know her name, your grandmother's name?

MU: Her grandmother? Her mother's name was Hatsu, Hatsu.

KL: And Hatsu was the one in Manchuria?

MU: Huh?

KL: Hatsu is the person who went to Manchuria?

MU: Yeah. My mother was just a young girl, coming back to Japan.

KL: So your mother was in Manchuria, too?

MU: For a short time.

KL: What do you know about Hatsu? Did you meet --

MU: Hatsu? I really don't know too much about her.

KL: Did your mother say what kind of mother Hatsu was, what their...

MU: She was, she was mother of one son and three daughters, and she was a very gentle type of person. Other than that, I don't know too much about her.

KL: Do you know who Nobuye's father was?

MU: I don't know. My father had a brother.

KL: Your father. What about your mother's father?

MU: Mother's father? He was, I think he was a mayor of the, Toyohama, that's the little town that they lived in.

KL: Do you know his name, your grandfather?

MU: No. I have a picture of him, but I don't know his name.

KL: Do you know what their family background was? He was a governmental official, but did they have a type of work that was...

MU: No, I don't think so. He was in the public office, and so other than -- oh, I think my mother's family had a shoyu, that's, shoyu factory. That's the Japanese liquid that they use for, in cooking. Other than that, I'm not, I'm not aware.

KL: She had a couple siblings.

MU: Me?

KL: Your mother had --

MU: Oh, my mother had a brother and had two sisters.

KL: Did they come to the United States, too?

MU: No, no, they stayed in Japan. My mother's the only one that came. Actually, her aunt was here, married my father's brother and she was lonesome, so she was told -- this was before Prohibition went into effect, and so she said, "You can come and your husband could make wine and get rich on it." But then Prohibition went into effect, so... [laughs]

KL: Did he know how to make wine already, your dad?

MU: Well, I remember his having a great big vat with Muscats and trying to make wine. I remember helping him make beer, and sometimes the cap wasn't on good and it would shoot up. [Laughs]

KL: I've been making cider at home, and I'm worried about exploding caps. What was your aunt, what was Nobuye's aunt's name?

MU: My aunt's name?

KL: Your mother's aunt.

MU: My mother's aunt?

KL: The one who called her here.

MU: It was her sister-in-law that called her here.

KL: Okay. What was her name?

MU: What was her name?

KL: I hear Marion saying Kiyo.

MU: Kiyo, yeah, that's right.

KL: Kiyo Masada. And were they close already?

MU: Yeah.

KL: Your mother and her --

MU: Yeah. And then we lived just a few miles from each other, so we always got together for special things.

KL: Why do you think your aunt thought to invite your mother to come?

MU: She was lonely.

KL: And had they known each other in Japan?

MU: I think so. They lived in the same area, so...

KL: Okay, so let's talk about your father a little bit. What was his name?

MU: Ihei, I-H-E-I.

KL: And who was his brother, that Kiyo was married to?

MU: Teisuke, T-E-I, su, S-U-K-E. Teisuke.

KL: And who were their parents? Or what was their life like in Japan?

MU: I don't know too much about that.

KL: Do you know why --

MU: My mother's father was a, he was the mayor in the little town that they lived in. That's about all I know.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: Where was your, what, say your father's name again?

MU: Ihei.

KL: Ihei. Where was Ihei from?

MU: He was from the same prefecture, Kagawa-ken.

KL: Did he know your mother before she came?

MU: I don't think so. I don't think so.

KL: What brought him here?

MU: His brother was here too, and the relatives were here.

KL: Who was older?

MU: My uncle, Teisuke, was older.

KL: Do you know if they had other brothers or sisters?

MU: I don't think he had any other sibling. Mother's side, well, my mother had a brother and a couple sisters. My aunt, I don't know too much about her family background other than that.

KL: Was she from Kagawa also?

MU: She was from Kagawa-ken.

KL: Did, where did she and Teisuke marry?

MU: Probably San Francisco when she came over.

KL: She was a "picture bride" also?

MU: I think so.

KL: Before we started the camera, we were talking about how your mother felt about coming to the United States. What did she tell you about what it was like to come?

MU: She wasn't very happy. [Laughs] With all the farm work, she wasn't very happy. But after the war, or during the war, she became a Christian and she was able to help her family back in Japan get civilized by sharing her faith, and so she was happy that she was able to come.

KL: Was she exposed to Christianity in Japan?

MU: Yes. Her father was a Christian. He was living in Tokyo, and one day, once, I guess it must've been Sunday, he took her to church. He was sitting toward the front and she was in the back, and he turned around and she was nodding, and he was upset and never took her back to church. And she regretted that very much.

KL: Do you know why he was a Christian?

MU: I don't know. He was a member of a well-known Christian leader, what's his name, Abine... his name was...

KL: How do you spell Abine?

MU: A-B-I-N-E, Abine. Japanese names are easy to, they just go in syllables.

KL: Once you know the rules.

MU: [Laughs] Yeah.

KL: Why was, what was he known for?

MU: I guess he was a quite... I don't know whether he was well-known, but he was a very staunch Christian. That's about all I know.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: So do you, how old was your mother when she came to this country?

MU: When she came here? She must've been about eighteen or nineteen.

KL: Did she have plans for her life?

MU: I don't think so.

KL: You said she wasn't very happy to come here. I wonder what --

MU: [Laughs] When she found out what kind of work she had to do, yeah. Farm work, it wasn't easy.

KL: Did she expect to be farming? What did she think...

MU: I'm sure she knew. I'm sure she knew. And with the kids coming on, and had to work in the field, wasn't easy.

KL: Yeah, and probably it was new to her, right? If her family was...

MU: I'm sure.

KL: What did, did your dad come from a farming family?

MU: I don't know what his background was, even if they were farmers. Japan is small, area that they came from was very small, so I don't know what his background was, or the family background.

KL: Do you know what port he came into the United States through?

MU: I think San Francisco. I remember something about Seattle, but I'm not sure.

KL: Did he talk about the journey, what his first impressions were?

MU: No, no. I don't recall.

KL: What did he do for work when he came?

MU: He was a farmer.

KL: Right away?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: Where did he settle?

MU: In Fresno. Well, out in the country, about twelve miles due south of Frenso, in, closest little town was Caruthers. And that's where the other relatives were, too.

KL: Did he or your mother ever talk about what they thought when they first saw each other?

MU: No. I've never heard her, or them talk about it. You know, we, growing up in English, being the oldest, I knew a little bit more Japanese than siblings, but then, but there's that language barrier.

KL: Did your folks ever learn English?

MU: My parents? Very limited.

KL: So your mother came straight to the Fresno countryside.

MU: Yeah.

KL: And tell us about the farm.

MU: Farm, we had, Japanese were not allowed to own land, so just they, all they could do was rent it, and we had forty, our farm was forty acres, about ten acres in Muscats and about ten, eight acres in Thompson, seedless Thompsons, and then we had some, a little bit of open land.

KL: Did you have a kitchen garden?

MU: Oh yeah, we've always had a garden.

KL: You said there was other family around Fresno. Who were the other family members?

MU: There were a number of families. There was one family right behind our farm, and there was another family down the street, and there were quite a few.

KL: Were these part of your father's family?

MU: No, no, only one.

KL: Okay. So they weren't related to you.

MU: No. There was another two families that were somehow related through marriage. Most of the relatives all lived in the Fresno area, close to us.

KL: Were there mostly Japanese American people in your little community, or who else was there?

MU: There were a number of different nationality backgrounds. We had, the next door neighbor was a Portuguese, family across the street was French, and we had Italian friends.

KL: How did everybody talk to each other?

MU: It had to be in English, limited English.

KL: Did, like your Portuguese and Italian neighbors, did they come to the United States around the same time as your parents?

MU: I think so. I think so.

KL: That's kind of neat to imagine everybody, they might've made kind of their own language with some English.

MU: When their whole group got together, it was in their native language. So our grammar school -- we called it grammar school then, not elementary -- we had quite a few national background, nationality background. So it was interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: So you were born 1920.

MU: 1920.

KL: What are some of your earliest memories?

MU: Earliest memories? Helping parents work in the field. We had --

KL: When did you start doing that?

MU: Probably around first grade.

KL: What was your, how did you help?

MU: We picked grapes, we helped turn it, we had to turn it so the back side would dry some.

KL: Turn the bunches?

MU: The trays were about this size, and there would be two of us, one on one end and the other person, and we would flip it. We'd go flipping all the trays down the row, so that the bottom side would dry, too.

KL: You have other siblings, too. Tell, would you tell me their names in the order that you were born?

MU: Okay. I'm the oldest, and then next is Toshihiro, T-O-S-H-I-H-R, H-I-R-O, Toshi, H-I-R-O, Toshihiro. And then next is --

KL: When was Toshihiro born?

MU: 1921.

KL: Okay.

MU: And then Yuriko, Y-U-R-I-K-O, Lily. She's the one that got the both Japanese and American name. Yuri is, in English is lily.

KL: So she got both. She was Yuriko Yuriko, or Lily.

MU: She was born in '23, and then Katsumi, I think he was probably about two years younger than Lily. And then Aiko, she's a sister, and then Saburo, and then how many years later, six years later, the youngest brother, Tokio. We called him Timothy.

KL: When was Timothy born, the youngest?

MU: Well, war broke out and we had to evacuate, I was carrying him, so -- he was an invalid -- he was about four. So...

KL: About 1936. Did all of your siblings help on the farm?

MU: Yeah, the older ones did.

KL: Did you have certain tasks that you each did? Or what was your, you said you helped flip the grapes.

MU: We helped pick grapes. A lot of people say cut, but we picked grapes, although it had to be cut. The younger ones didn't help that much.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: How else did you help out at home? What was, so when you, when did you start school?

MU: When I was six.

KL: You started with first grade?

MU: My birthday's January. By the time school started in September, we, I was, what, over six and a half. And so there was, we had another family living right behind us; her birthday was just one month later, and so when we got into sixth grade the principal had us take sixth and seventh grade work together, and so -- one, two, three -- three of us were passed onto eighth grade. So actually, we were in elementary just seven years, instead of eight.

KL: What was her name, your friend behind you?

MU: Noriko Hoshiko.

KL: And what school did you attend?

MU: Alvina. Alvina Elementary.

KL: What do you remember about Alvina Elementary?

MU: What do I remember? We had good times with our friends, during recesses, but I enjoyed the study.

KL: You did?

MU: Yeah.

KL: What did you like to study?

MU: I enjoyed geography especially.

KL: Why did you like it?

MU: Learned about different parts of the world.

KL: How many students were in your elementary school?

MU: In the elementary school as a whole, I don't remember, but I think each class had about, between ten and fifteen. So classes were very small.

KL: And you said recess was good. What did you do during recess?

MU: Recess, we played baseball. [Laughs]

KL: What did you play?

MU: I don't remember, different, different positions on the team.

KL: Are there any teachers who stick out in your memory?

MU: Yes, Mrs. Fike. She was the principal, but she was always sixth, seventh, eighth grade teacher.

KL: She was busy. What do you remember about her?

MU: She was very kind. Very stern also, as a teacher. And her son was also in my class.

KL: Were they neighbors?

MU: No, she lived in Raisin City and we lived in Alvina area.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: Tell me more about Alvina. You guys were growing grapes. What did other, what did your neighbors...

MU: They all, we were in a vineyard area, so most of them had grapes. Let's see, maybe one or two had dairy, small dairy, but most were farmers.

KL: Where was the market for the grapes?

MU: We made raisins. We dried them, and about eight, seven, eight miles away they had a packing house where we delivered it. And some of the people delivered it on a wagon, horse-drawn wagon.

KL: What kind of equipment did you use in your operations?

MU: We had, of course, to begin with we had to prune the vines. We had shears, and then they had plows, they had [inaudible], kind of break up the soil.

KL: What was a typical year in grape growing? I assume maybe in the spring you just --

MU: Yeah, in the spring we would prune, and then we would, if you have seedless grapes, we would tie the vines, tie the branches, and then we'd wait for the grapes to ripen. We would pick it and lay it out on the tray, paper tray, and then when it, top dries, we would flip it over and dry the bottom, and then we would harvest it, or take a truck with boxes and gather them up.

KL: How long does it take to dry?

MU: I would say probably a couple weeks, depending on the weather. And toward the end, they usually start picking about August, early August, and by the end of the month it should be pretty dry, and then we would roll it, and then have the wagon come around and pick it up.

KL: You would roll the grapes?

MU: Roll the tray.

KL: I see.

MU: We would, we would fold it like this and then roll it. Yeah.

KL: What did that do? What was the purpose?

MU: So we could pick it up and put it on the truck.

KL: Okay.

MU: Instead of having an open tray. And then when you do that and leave it out in the sun, it kind of, the hard ones would, real dry one would soften, and the ones that were not completely dry would dry.

KL: Who planted those vines?

MU: I think our first farm that we were on, I think the people that lived there before planted them. On that farm we had a nice backyard with all kinds of fruit. We had lemon, we had oranges, we had apricot, cherry, pear, persimmon, peaches. We had a wonderful backyard.

KL: Who, do you know who your family rented that farm from?

MU: I think there were Japanese that were now living, at that time living in Parlier. I don't know too much about it.

KL: What age were you when you lived there?

MU: I was born there, and I was, we lived there until, let's see, '41, so I lived there about twenty, nineteen, twenty years.

KL: Okay.

MU: I went to elementary school, grammar school and high school from there.

KL: Okay, so that's almost all of your, all of your memories, early.

MU: Yeah, growing up years.

KL: What street was it on?

MU: Rose Avenue. 375 Rose Avenue, West Rose Avenue.

KL: You said when you were picking grapes your mother would tell you stories?

MU: Yeah.

KL: What do you remember about your conversations?

MU: Not during picking grapes, but when we were pruning. Picking grapes you don't have too much contact where you can talk to one another, but when you're pruning, especially the Muscats, they just grow in separate little vines, so we would be around one and she would talk.

KL: What did she tell you?

MU: She told me about her growing up years and the hardship she has to endure, working on the farm.

KL: Would you share some examples of her growing up years and some of those hardships?

MU: Well, in Japan she, I think she was educated to be a teacher, and her aunt was here in the States. She was kind of lonesome, so she called my mother over to marry her husband's brother.

KL: Are there other stories that you remember?

MU: Yeah. She mentioned about her childhood, growing up years.

KL: What did she say about them?

MU: She was happy. She lived in Tokyo for a little while, and then came back. I think they had a young fellow that the family hoped that she would marry, but she wasn't interested in him, and besides, I think he died from something, so it never turned out.

KL: What was she doing in Tokyo?

MU: Her father was in the, I think government work, some kind of government office. And after that he moved back to Kagawa-ken, and I think he was in the office, city office there, too.

KL: Did she --

MU: Other than that, I don't know too much.

KL: Did she like living in Tokyo? What did she say about it?

MU: She was just a young girl, so she didn't say, other than that one experience where her father took her to church, other than that, I don't know too much.

KL: That one stuck out, huh? What about Kagawa-ken? What did she, did she like living there?

MU: Oh yeah, that was her hometown.

KL: What did she like about it?

MU: I don't remember what she, what she liked about it. It was home, so...

KL: Your aunt, Kiyo, was she a big part of your childhood?

MU: Yeah, they lived close by. They had one, one daughter, three sons, and so we were -- and they had apricots, so we used to go over there and cut apricots.

KL: What was, what were Kiyo and Teisuke like? What was their personality?

MU: They were kind. Teisuke, I don't know how, but he had TB, he contracted TB, so he, the family, they made a little place for him to live on the same yard but in another building. And so we didn't have that much contact with him. But my aunt, of course, there's a language barrier.

KL: So did she have to really take on responsibility for the whole family and for him, when he had TB?

MU: Well, he was there, he was able to do work, some work. And so, and the kids were growing up, so they were able to manage the farm.

KL: Was he still able to have friendships and be part of the community?

MU: Not really.

KL: Was it because of his health, or were people afraid of him, or why?

MU: Well, having TB, you don't want too much contact.

KL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: What about your parents, what defines them in your memories? What were their personalities?

MU: My father was, he loved children, and so he was, he would take us on a picnic. Mother would make us a little lunch, and the pump house for the farm was way on the other end of forty acres, and he would have Mother make lunch and he would take us kids way out there and we have picnic. He loved kids. He was real good with us. Or he would take us fishing.

KL: What did you do on the picnic?

MU: When you go out in the field there's not much we could do but run around.

KL: What was your --

MU: And of course there's a language barrier, too.

KL: But you could sense that he loved you and loved...

MU: Oh yeah.

KL: What was your mother's personality like?

MU: My mother, she was gentle. She grew up to become a teacher. I don't know how long she taught in Japan, but when she came to the States the Japanese community had the, they wanted the children to learn, understood English -- Japanese, so they had Japanese schools on Saturday, and she taught one of those schools.

KL: Was she your teacher?

MU: No, no. We had someone else from Fresno.

KL: What did you think of Japanese language school?

MU: It wasn't easy. Of course, we grew up speaking English most of the time. So we endured it. [Laughs]

KL: Where did you learn English, if not from your parents?

MU: At elementary school, at Alvina.

KL: Was it difficult?

MU: First, I think there were, during the year there were six times when they, we received a report card. The first three times, just a blank, there was nothing there because teacher didn't know how to grade us when we didn't speak English. But after that, I looked at the report card and it said, "Very satisfactory," so I guess I was doing okay. [Laughs]

KL: Good, yeah, you caught on.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Where did you go to school after Alvina Elementary?

MU: Went to high school in Caruthers.

KL: Was it just Caruthers High School?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: What do you recall about Caruthers High School?

MU: It was, wasn't very big. We had multi-racial background. We enjoyed the sports. Of course, I worked hard, so I was on the honor roll.

KL: Being a multi-racial school, how did people relate to each other?

MU: By high school most of 'em spoke English, and we were friendly. We were friends. I don't recall any racial prejudice. There might've been, but I wasn't aware.

KL: Did you, how did you choose your friends?

MU: We had good times. They were friends, didn't think about the racial background.

KL: Who were your close friends?

MU: One was a Japanese that lived, whose farm was behind ours, Hoshiko, Noriko Hoshiko. She's ninety-two. She's still well, living up in state of Washington. What was the question?

KL: I asked who were your closest friends. Noriko was one.

MU: Yeah, Noriko was one. We had another one, Fumi Yamamoto, Mildred Sorenson, Anna Leoni, she's, background is Italian. I think those were the closest ones.

KL: What did you do for fun?

MU: Well, our contact was mostly during school hours, and at home, being the oldest of, with six siblings, I didn't have much time for fun. Had to take care of them and work.

KL: You mentioned that Tokio couldn't move around and you cared for him a lot.

MU: He had cerebral palsy.

KL: Would you tell me just a little bit about each of your siblings, sort of what was important to them, what you remember about them as kids?

MU: The brother next to me, he had to sacrifice part of his schooling because Father had become ill, couldn't work.

KL: When did that happen? How old were you?

MU: I was probably, just graduated high school, so seventeen. I was about seventeen. And I took both commercial courses and college preparatory courses, but wasn't able to go to college then, so I worked in the field. That's the only work that was available to help support the family.

KL: Did you work on your property?

MU: Hmm?

KL: You worked on your own, your rental property?

MU: No, we worked out. We didn't have our own ranch. We lived on the ranch, but it, he didn't own it, so we worked out.

KL: On that ranch, the forty acres.

MU: Yeah, that ranch and some of the other places. And then when I became of age where we could buy our ranch, we bought twenty acres in my name. We had seedless Thompsons and open land.

KL: Where was the ranch that you bought?

MU: On Caruthers Avenue. It was twenty acres. And then when our, the work on the ranch was done, we would work for other people and get some, earn some cash.

KL: How, when you, when your family bought the ranch on Caruthers Avenue, how involved were you in that decision and in choosing the parcel and stuff?

MU: My brother and I did most of the... my father had a stroke, and so -- no, he didn't have a stroke yet, because... no, he did have stroke, slight stroke, so he wasn't able to work, so the kids did most of the work.

KL: And you and Toshihiro were kind of leaders in that?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: So he was partway through high school when that happened, Toshihiro.

MU: Yeah. He had to sacrifice.

KL: How did he feel about that? How did that affect him?

MU: He couldn't help it. The family, it depended on our working for survival, so... he gladly sacrificed it.

KL: How did your, how did your father's stroke affect him and affect your mother?

MU: Well, it was hard. It was hard on the family.

KL: How did they cope with it, how did things change?

MU: Well, we were getting older. And then my mother had, my youngest brother was a cerebral palsy, and so she had her hands full, and with other siblings, younger ones, so she had her hands full. And so my brother and I had to do most of the work to bring money in. We didn't mind. We enjoyed it.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: Tell me a little bit about Yuriko?

MU: About who?

KL: Yuriko, and your other siblings.

MU: After high school, we had a, we started to go to church, Christian church, after we came back from camp. But, let's see... anyway, Lily went to a small school down south called American Soul Clinic, and with that group she went to Japan as a missionary. She went to Kyushu. That's the little island west, on the west. And that was 1945, 1944 or '45.

KL: Did she finish high school?

MU: Yeah, she finished high school.

KL: What was she like as a kid and a high school student?

MU: She was kind of serious. She had good friends.

KL: And Katsume?

MU: Katsumi.

KL: What was he like as a kid and as a young teenager?

MU: He had a sense of humor. Yeah, he was a good kid, good brother.

KL: Did he make you laugh?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: And Aiko?

MU: Aiko? Aiko, when she was -- we had just come back from camp, 1945 -- she was a senior, and they would not allow her to -- we came back in May, so just before graduation. She went to classes for a while and when it came time for graduation, they would not allow her to graduate with the class. So she got upset and left home and went to Watsonville, and we didn't know about it, actually, the reason why she left, until much later.

KL: Saburo showed me her letter that she wrote to the editor in the newspaper, and some writing about her high school experience, and she sounds, she sounds very, very confident of herself and very sort of sure of what she wanted to say. Was she like that as a kid? Was she --

MU: I think so, yeah.

KL: She was pretty strong.

MU: Yeah.

KL: How did you notice that in her as a kid? What kind of, is there anything that sticks out, any example?

MU: No, when she wanted to do something, she did it.

KL: And what about Saburo, what was he like as a kid?

MU: Being the oldest, you had all these other responsibilities, so I don't remember that much.

KL: Yeah, he was, the other younger kids were kind of different than you. I mean, with you being an adult and being school kids and stuff. Was there kind of a divide, the older kids...

MU: Not really. Not really, but the older ones had responsibilities. The younger ones were more carefree.

KL: And do, is there anything that really defined Saburo or Tokio, in terms of personality or having, what they liked to do with their time?

MU: No, not that much.

KL: I don't know a lot about cerebral palsy. What was Tokio's life like before you guys had to leave?

MU: It depends on the severity of the case. My brother Timothy, or Tokio, he couldn't do anything for himself. Everything had to be done for him. And my mother was short, but she used to get him off of bed and put him on a wheelchair. It's amazing, I think maybe one time he kind of slipped off the bed and landed on the floor, but then other than that, she managed quite well.

KL: Was she his primary caregiver?

MU: Yeah. And my brother Kats was the only one at home, so he did a lot of, gave a lot of help.

KL: Can you tell us what your parents' relationship was like with each other? Sometimes one person kind of makes the decisions and another takes care of the kids, one's quiet. How were they with each other?

MU: Living on the farm, doing farm work, I think my father did, had, made most of the decisions. But when war started and he had his stroke, Mother had to take the lead.

KL: How was that for her? Did she talk about that, or did you observe how she felt about it?

MU: Well, I think it was hard for her, but she had to do it.

KL: What do you, what do you recall about -- oh, first of all, I wanted to ask you, you, how were you as a student in high school? You mentioned that you worked hard.

MU: I enjoyed school. I graduated co-valedictorian. I planned for both business course and college course but wasn't able to go to college, because --

KL: Did you --

MU: -- had to work, to support the family.

KL: Did you think you might attend college some day? Why did you decide to take those courses?

MU: Yeah, I had hoped to at least have the background, so if I do go to college I'll be ready. In, I graduated in '37, in 1949 I decided to go to college, and so went two years down south and then finished up in Seattle, Washington.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: We are back in an interview with Miyo Uzaki. This is September 11, 2014, and I was gonna ask you at the end of the last tape, what your memories are of learning that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and then that the United States had declared war?

MU: I couldn't believe that the small country would attack United States. It was a shock. Because our parents came from Japan and they planned to stay here forever, but not allowed to become citizens, and so they were like people without a country.

KL: Did they ever talk to you about what that was like? Did they want to become citizens, or tell you anything about that?

MU: Well, there was a racial prejudice ever since the Orientals started coming to the States, and... no, they didn't say much. But I'm sure all of them felt that restricted, not free as a citizen.

KL: You said they didn't say much, but do you, were there any ways that you ever witnessed that that affected their just daily life?

MU: Did I what?

KL: Did you ever witness ways that that racism affected your parents' daily lives? I feel stupid asking that because of course you had to buy the property.

MU: Yeah, I think they felt limited. Of course, with the language barrier, they couldn't do too much, like the other people that spoke, had the language. So they depended on kids, so they wanted the kids to do well in school.

KL: You said you were surprised that Japan had attacked this big country. Had, did you have any idea that the countries were on this collision course? Did you, were you worried about a war at all?

MU: Well, hearing news on the radio, and we didn't talk about too much in school. But then the question was, how can a small country attack United States? And of course, our parents were not allowed to become citizens yet, and they're away from their country, native country, and so they were kind of trapped. And then with our parents feeling that way, it was hard on those of us that understood a little bit of the situation.

KL: Did you have fears for your parents or for your family right away, when you heard that?

MU: I don't think we had fear, but we had question as to what might happen or what's going to happen.

KL: Did you talk to other Japanese Americans at that time, and did they also have concerns?

MU: I think they all felt that way.

KL: Did people get together, like that evening or in the days afterwards, to...

MU: I don't know that we did that, or they did that.

KL: There were a lot of arrests of people by the FBI right after news of that attack.

MU: Yeah, innocent people. There might have been some connection with organizations that had contact with Japan, but then most of the first generation people, if they had children they would stick with the children's nation, country. So it was hard for them.

KL: Did that happen in your community? Were there people who were taken right away?

MU: I think there were two leaders that were questioned, but they were not incarcerated.

KL: Who were they? What, why were they questioned?

MU: They were just leaders within our small community.

KL: I wondered about your mom, because some of the people who were questioned or detained were connected to Japanese language schools. Did she, no one questioned her, or did she have any fears?

MU: No, she didn't have any problem.

KL: Do you know what happened to your teacher from Fresno?

MU: I think nothing happened. We all went into same assembly center at the fairground, and then we were shipped to Arkansas. I don't think there were any special problems.

KL: The two community leaders --

MU: Huh?

KL: The two community leaders that were questioned, were they, who were they? Were they ministers or were they store owners?

MU: No, no, they were just regular community leaders.

KL: What made them leaders?

MU: I guess there was no one else who'd do it.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: So what else can you tell us about the months between news of the attack and having to go into the assembly center? How did life change, or did it?

MU: It was a very unsettled period. We didn't know what was going to happen. Because the first generation, Isseis, weren't allowed citizenship here, yet, and then it was very unsettling time.

KL: You mentioned travel restrictions in your writing. How did travel restrictions affect you, or how, what can you tell us about those?

MU: We weren't able to go into Fresno to buy Japanese food. We just survived. I don't remember all the details.

KL: Did your siblings ever talk about if things changed in the high school for them, in those months?

MU: Yeah, my sister -- this was after we came back -- my sister was not allowed to graduate with the class, so she left. But we didn't know the reason.

KL: In 1941, were there problems for your siblings who were in school, or '42, before you left?

MU: I don't know about that. They may have looked upon as being, with suspicion, but I don't think we had any direct comment or...

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

MU: Of course, I think it came out in the Japanese paper and in the, I don't think we were taking the Fresno Bee at that time. I don't recall. I remember there were posters on the telephone pole.

KL: You mentioned the Fresno Bee. What can, what was that paper like?

MU: I think it was kind of prejudiced.

KL: Where did you guys get your news? Did you take a paper?

MU: We heard it on the radio. There were posters put up.

KL: What did you think?

MU: How dare them, you know? [Laughs] Of course, our parents were aliens, and most of the second generations were still young, very young, and so it was a time of confusion.

KL: Did you think it would actually happen?

MU: Well, before we knew it, it was happening.

KL: How did you prepare to go?

MU: How did we prepare? I think anything that had Japanese writings and things, we either burned it or buried it.

KL: Were there things that you, do you remember particular things that were burned or buried?

MU: I know the phonographs with Japanese songs, they were all destroyed. Anything that, well, anything that had, connected with Japan, Japanese, we got rid of them.

KL: What was it like to get rid of the phonographs and those things that...

MU: They were songs that, innocent songs, children's songs. It was ridiculous. It was, to destroy all that cultural things... but what do we do? Because people think, "Well, they've got all these things that's Japanese. They could be suspicious."

KL: What about your property? How did you deal with that?

MU: Actually, when the war broke out we, two years before that we had bought a twenty-acre ranch, and we had one family, the Sorensons, do the tractor work. And so we just asked them to take over.

KL: And they were willing to do that?

MU: Oh yeah. They were very good about it.

KL: That was the last name of one of your good friends, wasn't it? You had a good friend who was a Sorenson daughter.

MU: Noriko Hoshiko.

KL: I thought there was a, let's see... Mildred?

MU: Oh, Mildred Sorenson.

KL: Was that her family?

MU: Yeah, it's her brothers that took care of our ranch.

KL: And they had worked for you guys before?

MU: Yeah, they did the tractor work, all the tractor work on the farm.

KL: It looks like, at least after the war, there were people actively trying to keep Japanese Americans out of that region. Was that risky for the Sorensons to help you and to work for you?

MU: I think these people that shot, fired into the homes or caused little bit of problem were people not who lived there from way before the war. They were people that came from other states. We had a lot of people coming from Texas, Arkansas, that Southern part, and they did not know the Japanese. I think they were the ones that were cause of the problem, if any.

KL: So the Sorensons operated your farm while you were gone. Was there anyone else who had responsibilities for your affairs or your property?

MU: Ted Nielson took care of the paperworks, took care of the farm paperworks. The Sorensons just did the physical work on the farm.

KL: Who was Ted Nielson?

MU: He was a friend. It was a couple, no children, but we had worked for them before. And their neighbors, two of their neighbors were Japanese and they were very friendly, cordial, sympathetic.

KL: Did they help the other neighbors, too?

MU: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: So you left to go to the assembly center. What was that -- I shouldn't say you left, you had to go to the assembly center -- what do you remember about traveling there, or actually leaving home?

MU: It was a mixed emotion. We had just bought the ranch two years before, and we felt, well, now our life is going to be secure, and then you get uprooted. You don't know what the future's gonna be. It was very unsettling.

KL: How did you, how did you go to the assembly center?

MU: We were put on a truck with a few belongings.

KL: What was Fresno assembly center? Had you been there before?

MU: It was the fairground. I don't think I've ever been to the fair, Fresno fair. We have our own in Caruthers, nice fair in Caruthers, so I think it was the first time I'd been in that area.

KL: What did you see when you arrived at the Fresno assembly center?

MU: We had, saw barbed wire fence around and all the barracks, and we had sentries posted here and there. It was, it was scary.

KL: Were, what was your barrack like?

MU: We had the end barrack at Fresno assembly center, tarpaper, boards with grass comin' up, iron cot beds. Not at all homey or comfortable.

KL: Was it an old building? Had it been part of the fairground, or was it new?

MU: I think they were all new buildings built for this.

KL: Did you have visitors ever while you were there?

MU: I can't remember that we did.

KL: Did you interact at all with any of the soldiers or the guards?

MU: No. They checked us at night, at ten o'clock. Everybody had to be in. We knew, we knew the rules, so we abided by that. So I don't think there were any problems, violation.

KL: When you say they checked you, what did that mean?

MU: Knock and see that everybody was in.

KL: What was their demeanor? Did, was there ever a conversation that was part of that, or was it always very quick and just...

MU: No, there wasn't too much conversation. Rules and we just obeyed it, not much else we could do.

KL: When did you arrive there, what month?

MU: I think it was May. Yeah, I think it was around May.

KL: And how long were you there?

MU: Until October.

KL: What did you do with your time there? What were the days like?

MU: Well, some people worked in the mess hall. I had, my youngest brother, helped Mother take care of him. Wasn't much we could do.

KL: How, did he have special things set up in your home to help your mother care for him or make his life easier? And how was he affected by coming into the assembly center?

MU: I don't know. I took care of him, carried him most of the time while we had to register, sit in line a long time. But I don't think he understood at all what was going on.

KL: Did your father have medical needs in the assembly center, because of his health?

MU: Yeah.

KL: Was there any treatment, or what was his situation?

MU: No, there weren't any special treatments. He probably got some medicine from the clinic, but...

KL: Did you have a job there?

MU: When we moved to Arkansas I worked as a block secretary. The highest pay in the whole camp was nineteen dollars, and the next wages were sixteen, and I think I got sixteen dollars a month.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: What do you recall about the trip to Arkansas?

MU: First time on the train, got to see part of the country. We went down from Fresno, I think we went through Colorado and then down to Arkansas. We didn't know what was going to happen. We didn't know exactly where we were going. It was very unsettling.

KL: Did people talk much on the train, or was it a pretty...

MU: They must've, but I don't recall any special conversation.

KL: So when you arrived at Jerome, would you walk us through those couple of hours from getting off the train to...

MU: I can't remember if we had been assigned, I guess we were assigned our barracks, or at least we were, I think we knew when we got off.

KL: What was your --

MU: I don't, I don't remember how, actually, we wouldn't know... they had, our barrack was number forty-five, forty-four, forty-three. Forty-three. It was on the corner surrounded on two sides by forest, and I don't remember how we got there with the belongings that we had. We must've been taken there by bus, but I don't recall.

KL: What was the barrack like?

MU: Cot beds, nothing else.

KL: And who was in there with you?

MU: We had the end barrack, which was the largest among the five, six rooms, and then we had the smaller one, so we had two rooms in the barrack.

KL: How did you divide, it was, so it was your whole family, all of your siblings and your parents?

MU: Yeah, we were able to be together.

KL: In two rooms. How did you, how did you decide who, did you all sleep in one room and kind of have the other free?

MU: The two young, the older boys took the small room and the rest of us took the bigger room. So there was Father, who was ill, and Mother, and three girls, and one brother.

KL: And it was October when you arrived?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: What were your first impressions of, how did it feel? What was it like to see that?

MU: Surrounded by forest, muddy ground. I thought, "What a terrible place," wondered how long we were gonna have to be there. It was very unsettling.

KL: What about your parents? What do you remember of their reactions?

MU: The Japanese has the word "shikata ga nai," can't be helped. What else you gonna do? Orders are orders.

KL: So they were stoic.

MU: Yeah, so we just had to go along.

KL: Well, what are your memories of those first couple of weeks?

MU: It was... they said there were rattlesnakes around. In fact, we had two young men that caught rattlesnake and -- where they got the container, glass container, I don't know, but they had snakes in their apartment. So there were, I didn't see any, actually, within the compound, but we were surrounded by forest, so we knew that they would be out there. I don't recall some of the earliest feelings.

KL: Who was around you, in the rest of the barrack building or in that part of Jerome?

MU: There were people from, well, we moved from Fresno and then some were people from the community in neighborhood in Fresno, and there were people who were from other communities. They were, we were all mixed.

KL: Were you, were dating anyone? Was there anyone special that you were attached to at that time in your life?

MU: No, not really.

KL: You sounded really busy on the farm and just focused on that.

MU: We knew the people, but not that attached.

KL: So the people around you in Jerome were people from before, from your life before.

MU: There were some people that we didn't know. They were from Sacramento, Florin area. But most of them were from the community, so we knew each other.

KL: You mentioned the soil in Arkansas being different. What else, what else was different about Arkansas?

MU: The weather was different. We didn't have that much contact with the people in the neighborhood. We were hemmed in, so...

KL: Were there -- you mentioned that you got your barrack assignment -- were there other things that you remember from your arrival, like did you have to get inoculations, or were you told to go other places, report?

MU: I don't remember if we had, had to be inoculated. We had to, we ate in the mess hall, so we got to know some of the people from other communities that were in that block.

KL: Did you hear any --

MU: There was a lot of adjustment that we had to make.

KL: Yeah, I wondered what the conversations were like in the mess hall in those first couple of weeks. Do you remember any?

MU: [Laughs] I don't remember that. I don't remember.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: Would you talk to us about how your father's health was affected by coming to Jerome?

MU: He had his first stroke after I graduated from high school, or before, just before. He had his second stroke after we went into camp. He couldn't do anything. He would sometimes wander off. Mother had to watch him very carefully. Other than that, we just had to be careful that, watch so that he didn't fall or, you know.

KL: He died pretty soon after you arrived.

MU: Yeah, he died in October, shortly after we arrived. It was the first, at least the first Christian funeral that they had in camp. I don't know if there were any others, because some of the people from San, south, southern California, Santa Anita, had been moved in earlier than when we moved in, so I don't know if there were other deaths in the family, or in the community. But in the Fresno area, from the Fresno area, our father's was the first death.

KL: What do you recall of the memorial service?

MU: Huh?

KL: What do you recall of the memorial service?

MU: There were a lot of people there. They had it in the barrack. The place was full. And I recall, I was sitting in the back, and my mother, I don't know, for some reason came to the back and she said, as she looked over the congregation, she saw like a flame here and there, and she said, over the people, I didn't see it.

KL: Do you have a sense of what that meant to her?

MU: I think she had, she had some Christian background, so I think she realized that God's spirit was there.

KL: That's a pretty profound beginning to your time there.

MU: Yeah, it was.

KL: I'm sorry about these questions. They're, they've got to be somewhat difficult to answer, and they're hard even to ask, but what did, what was the experience of your dad's death for you? It sounds like you were close to him.

MU: Well, we had just moved in, and so a lot of things were still unsettling. We, he had been ill for some time, so... and the life in camp for him was difficult. And when he had his stroke, we knew that it wasn't gonna be too long before he'll pass away. But it was hard, very hard.

KL: How was it different to have him die in the camp than it would've been if he'd died at home?

MU: I don't think there would've been too much difference, but dying in a strange place and dying at home, or in the community, I think there's a lot of different feeling. Not maybe to him, but to the family, being in a strange place, a new place.

KL: Was there anyone, any people or anything that was a support or a comfort to you?

MU: Yeah, we had, look at all the people that came to his funeral. [Holds up photo] Those around here were all relatives and from the community, and of course, being the first Christian funeral, I think there are a number of people here that, we didn't know who they were, but out of sympathy, I think, they attended. I don't, I don't think the funeral, if we had it at Fresno there would've been maybe half of the people. There were a lot of people there.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: What else do you, what are your other memories of the Christian community in Jerome?

MU: Christian, we started two churches shortly after the funeral. We had one missionary leader that was, was a wonderful person. He had been in Japan for a number of years, and he was very understanding, very compassionate, and so going to church for the first time, I thought, "If that's what a Christian is, I want to be one." And so my first impression of the church and Christianity was through this particular missionary, and it was very wonderful.

KL: What was that person's name?

MU: Dr. Maxwell Garrett.

KL: And did you say you set up two churches, or there were two leaders in Jerome?

MU: Huh?

KL: You said that there were two congregations, or two leaders in Jerome?

MU: No, it was just one congregation. There were a number of ministers, because they came from southern Cal. The biggest group was from southern California, and we had several Christian ministers from this area, Fresno area.

KL: Are there others besides Dr. Garrett who made a strong impression on you or that you remember being leaders in Jerome?

MU: He was, well, there were other ministers that led, Japanese ministers. But he was the only Caucasian minister.

KL: Did any of the Japanese ministers make a strong impression on you, or do you remember other people who stand out?

MU: No, no. And I was new to Christianity, too.

KL: Did you have a particular role in the congregation?

MU: Did I what?

KL: Did you have a particular role in the congregation?

MU: No, no.

KL: What were the services like?

MU: It was in English. It was all new to me. We...

KL: Was there any guidance...

MU: Any what?

KL: I mean, I always wonder what it was like to be a minister when you have to lead a congregation through having to, being told to leave their homes or being incarcerated in this situation. Do you remember there being sort of any guidance or any message, any ideas for coping or for how to live?

MU: I don't recall, but I'm sure there were messages that would comfort and help us get settled in the new situation.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: You mentioned your work as the block manager's assistant.

MU: Secretary.

KL: Secretary. How did you find that job, get hired?

MU: I don't remember exactly, but I think the block manager asked me.

KL: Who was the block manager?

MU: Mr. Kamikawa, Kaoru Kamikawa. He used to have, or his family had a fish market in Fresno, and a grocery store.

KL: Did you know him in Fresno?

MU: Not him, but I knew the store, I had heard about the store.

KL: Did he tell you why he asked you?

MU: No.

KL: What was your, what were your job responsibilities as secretary?

MU: Take messages, telephone calls, deliver mail. Not too much responsibility other than that.

KL: Did he, what was it like to be block manager? What did you sense about that? Was it a difficult job?

MU: I was just the block secretary. I enjoyed it, got to know people better.

KL: What kind of things would they telephone about?

MU: Some of the problems they were having with the facility, the barracks.

KL: Do you remember any of the problems?

MU: No.

KL: Was it a pretty busy workplace?

MU: Huh?

KL: Was it, how many people would you interact with in a day?

MU: We had twelve, I think we had twelve rows of barracks, and each row had, two on the end were large rooms, next were small, and then two in the middle was medium-sized. So we, there were five of us in the large room -- we have iron cot beds -- and then two in the middle, three, I think the middle one had, could get three or possibly four, so you have quite a few in a row, one row of barracks.

KL: Was Mr. Kamikawa the block manager the whole time you were at Jerome?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: And how long were you the secretary?

MU: Until the, Jerome closed.

KL: Okay, so you were secretary a long time, too.

MU: What, about, we were in Rohwer one year, so probably, what?

KL: About two years, I guess.

MU: Two, two, three years.

KL: Did, what did you think of the job?

MU: It was just a job. I enjoyed it because I got to see, as I'd deliver mail I could meet the people, and if there was any problem they would come for me to call wherever for help. I enjoyed it.

KL: What was your relationship with Mr. Kamikawa? Did you see much of him?

MU: No, not that much. Just official.

KL: Yeah, he had to be kind of counselor and handyman and leader. I mean, that was a, that was a multifaceted job.

MU: Yeah.

KL: Did he ever, or did you have your own ideas about the management of Jerome?

MU: No, no.

KL: You didn't have an opinion, really?

MU: No, I had nothing to do with that. Just some of the minor problems that we had within the block.

KL: Did you have any contact with people's, with people's politics or people's thinking about being incarcerated in Jerome?

MU: No, no.

KL: Did you observe, as an observer, did you see any tensions as a result of the incarceration? Or ways that it --

MU: There were always some minor conflicts, but nothing major. Like some of the blocks had major conflict.

KL: What, would you talk a little bit about those? What caused them and why was it in some blocks and not in others?

MU: Well, I think it depends on the people who were living in the, in those blocks. Some came from southern California, Santa Anita, where they've had, they had constant problems, conflicts, and then, like from our Fresno area, people were not that aggressive. So it all depended on situation and on people.

KL: Were there any particular moments that you remember, of conflicts? Like at Manzanar there was the uprising known as the Manzanar Riot, at Tule Lake there were strikes. Was there any real flashpoint in Jerome that you remember?

MU: I don't think we had any. I don't recall any. There might've been some minor ones, but they were probably settled. We had a few evacuees from Hawaii in our camp, and I understood that Hawaii is nice and warm, and people came without shoes. I can't believe that, but they didn't, they were barefooted. I don't know if that's true or not, but we had some people from Hawaii.

KL: Did you get to know any?

MU: No.

KL: But they were, they were a curiosity.

MU: Yeah. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: What, in 1943 there was this leave questionnaire, Selective Service form for young men. What do you remember about those forms, those questionnaires being issued?

MU: I thought how dare they, government make us, after putting us into camp like this and then questions our loyalty. But anyway, the last, 27 and 28, those were the two questions that we had to answer, and people that answered no were sent to Tule Lake. I think I answered yes with, qualified it, saying that we were loyal citizens and how is that you have to put us into camp, questioned that.

KL: Did you ever have an interview about that in Jerome?

MU: No, no.

KL: In Manzanar there were a lot of, if people answered no or left it blank, most of those people had an interview with a staff person and there was conversation about the repercussions. Do you remember --

MU: I didn't have any interview at all.

KL: So even though you qualified it, there was never, no one ever addressed that or asked you about it or anything. Were there other, were there any interviews in the block manager's office regarding those questionnaires? Or did the block --

MU: No, I didn't have any. I didn't encounter any.

KL: Did you have conversation with other people about what they would write or how to respond?

MU: No, I think, I've heard comments, but not actually...

KL: Did you talk to your mother about it, or know what she thought about it?

MU: Yeah, I talked to her. They wanted to be with the children, and so they just answered it "yes-yes."

KL: So she kind of checked with you to hear your thoughts? Did she have a job in the camp?

MU: My mother? She worked for a very short time in the kitchen. But then she had to take care of my invalid brother, so she didn't work very long.

KL: Did she have friends in the camp?

MU: Yeah, she had friends.

KL: You said she was caring for your brother, but can you just walk us through a typical day for her in Jerome, where she went, what she did?

MU: Well, we had our breakfast in the mess hall, and lunch and dinner. My mother became a Christian. She, we lived right on the edge of the forest, and so -- and there was no, I guess there was no barbed wire fence on one side where the forest was, so she used to go out there and pray. It was her place of prayer. She worked in the kitchen for a very short time, but she was busy with my brother. I was around, but I started to help in the manager's office.

KL: Was that a forty-hour-a-week job for you?

MU: It was, yeah, regular hours.

KL: So did you have leisure time in Manzanar?

MU: Huh?

KL: Did you have free time -- I'm sorry, did you have free time in Jerome?

MU: Oh, yeah. Oh, yes.

KL: That was kind of new for you. [Laughs] What did you do with your free time? What was that like?

MU: I usually had something to read or... yeah.

KL: What did you like to read?

MU: We did not become Christians, church members until Christmas, just before Christmas that year, so we didn't even have a bible, and I can't remember what we read.

KL: Was there a library in Jerome?

MU: I think connected with school.

KL: But you didn't really use it.

MU: I didn't.

KL: [To MH] Do you have questions about Jerome?

MH: No.

KL: [To MU] Have I left things out about Jerome that you think are important to record?

MU: I think I mentioned people, we had people from southern California, Santa Anita, we had few people from Hawaii. The rest were from central California, from Fresno assembly center. And that's about it.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: You, Jerome closed earlier than the other camps. Do you know why?

MU: I think some of the people were relocating, and the Rohwer, where we were transferred to, people were leaving camp also, to go to school or to relocate, and so I think the number became smaller, so they combined it.

KL: What do you recall about traveling to Rohwer or having to move again?

MU: Huh?

KL: What do you remember about leaving Jerome and going to Rohwer?

MU: I don't remember much.

KL: How did Rohwer compare with Jerome? How was it different, how was it similar?

MU: I don't think there was much difference. In both camps we were, our barrack or our block was at the end, at the edge of the camp. I don't think there was much difference. People in Rohwer were from mostly Stockton. Well, there were people from southern California, too, but...

KL: Did you have a job in Rohwer?

MU: No.

KL: What was a typical day in Rohwer? What did you do with your time?

MU: [Laughs] I helped take care of my brother. I didn't have a job of any kind in Rohwer, so I didn't do much, I guess.

KL: Did you take classes ever, in either camp?

MU: No, no.

KL: You, we were talking about the questionnaire and stuff. Do you, what were your thoughts on people who went to Tule Lake? Did you --

MU: Tule Lake?

KL: What was your take on that question of people answering "no-no" or going to Tule Lake?

MU: I could understand their feeling to question their loyalty. And of course, that irritated people, to have their government question their loyalty. I think some of them went to Tule Lake answered no just to oppose or show their feeling, how the government was treating them, so I didn't criticize them. I said, well, if that's the way they feel.

KL: What about people who went into the military from the camps or after relocating? What did you think of that?

MU: I thought they were very patriotic. They were citizens of the United States, that was part of their responsibility.

KL: Were you close to anyone who made either of those decisions?

MU: No, no.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: We're back with tape three. This is an interview with Miyo Uzaki, and it is September the 11th, 2014. And to start this tape, Mark had a couple questions that I'll let him ask.

MH: The questions are related to both Rohwer and Jerome, and with the responsibilities that you had at home, taking care of family, what did you do for recreation, and what did you do for additional pastimes?

MU: Actually, I didn't have much time for recreation. There was no library nearby. I took care of my brother, I guess, giving my mother some relief. Other than that, well, we had some activities in the recreation hall in our block. Each block had a rec hall, and they had some programs there that we took part in.

MH: Music?

MU: Huh?

MH: Were you involved with music or anything of that nature?

MU: No, no.

MH: You're a young lady there in camp, in your early twenties. Were you dating?

MU: Was I what?

MH: Dating. Young men. You were, you were --

MU: No, no, no.

MH: You were a young woman at that point.

MU: No, I didn't have anyone. [Laughs]

MH: Okay. Those are the three that I had that were related to both of those sites.

KL: Did you have anything else you thought was important to include about that year in Rohwer?

MU: In Rohwer? Not really.

KL: Was there a Christian community in Rohwer that was different from Jerome?

MU: Rohwer, well, in Jerome too, we were on the edge of the camp. I think I was more involved in the block activities, the little that we had.

KL: You were more involved in Rohwer?

MU: Rohwer, I didn't have any block responsibilities. I guess took care of my brother, relieved my mother some work.

KL: What was your, what was your address at Rohwer?

MU: Address?

KL: Or your block.

MU: I think it was 46, Block 46. We were on the corner, and I don't remember the barrack number.

KL: You said your block in Jerome was mostly Fresno area people, and it was pretty quiet, pretty...

MU: Yeah.

KL: What was, what defined your block in Rohwer?

MU: Rohwer? It was a mixed group. Most of 'em were from Stockton area, northern California. Not too much difference as far as people, activity within the block. I was probably more involved in the church, camp church in Rohwer than I was in Jerome. Jerome I was just started, we were just baptized and everything was new for us.

KL: How were you involved in Rohwer, with the church?

MU: Rohwer? In the church, well, I didn't have any responsibility. We attended church. I had my brother to care for, give my mother some relief. Other than that, life went on. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: When did you leave Rohwer?

MU: May of '45.

KL: And where did you go?

MU: We came home. We came home. The Sorensons said, "Come on home. We'll just release, give back your farm." We came home in May, and we started to go to church. We weren't welcomed as... but we kept on going. And I think it was in, around February, I can't remember the time, there were some shots fired into our home. My sister was -- it was around midnight -- my sister was still up. She was sitting on one side, and the bullet hit the chair on the other side across the table. But we were all okay. And I understand they think it's the same people that went to Selma -- that's, what, about ten miles east of Caruthers -- and they shot into the home there, and it hit the baby bed. Everybody was okay, but... so there were incidents like that.

KL: Were those the same night, those two shootings?

MU: I think it was the same night.

KL: Was it two houses, or were there more than your two houses?

MU: I think, as far as I know, there were the, our home and the one in Selma.

KL: Was there a police investigation?

MU: They came to ask us a few questions. That was it.

KL: You didn't hear anything further.

MU: No. So we don't know who they were. I think they were probably people from -- after we left, during the war, a number of people came from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and so they think it might've been one of those people. I don't know.

KL: Did the Sorensons have any trouble from the newer residents, because of caring for your property?

MU: No, I don't think so.

KL: They didn't get threatened or...

MU: They were good people. Yeah, no problem.

KL: Were you in contact with them from Jerome and Rohwer? Did you write letters or anything?

MU: I think we did. Not that often, but yeah, we were in contact.

KL: When you returned to the outskirts of Fresno, did you have any face to face encounters where you were threatened or where people spoke badly to you?

MU: I don't recall. Some of the stores in Caruthers, one store in Caruthers would not sell groceries to the Japanese -- although he had a team of boys that formed a baseball team, they had some Japanese on that team. But at the store they wouldn't sell to us.

KL: That's weird, I think.

MU: Yeah. [Laughs] And then we, my sister and brother went to one church, and some of the congregation said, "If those Japs are gonna come, we're not coming back," and so of course they didn't go back. So we started to go to Methodist church, and I don't think the people were very happy, but we said, "We're gonna go. We're worshiping God, not people." And one Sunday my brother was there, and this man's son, in uniform, was visiting, and he gave my brother Tosh a hug and welcomed him warmly, and the father saw that. He was standing right next to me, he saw that and said, "If my son in uniform could treat you folks like that, I had no right to treat you the way I did." So he apologized. I thought that was wonderful.

KL: What's the name of that church, the Methodist church?

MU: It's United Methodist Church, the First United Methodist Church of Caruthers.

KL: And would you tell us the name of the other church that you attended, where the people told you to stop --

MU: It was, it was Assembly of God that my sister and brother had gone to.

KL: In Caruthers.

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: And the name of the store that you said would not sell to Japanese?

MU: I think it was, I don't know, Andersons were the owners. The store isn't there anymore. It's someone else's, has it.

KL: In Aiko's letter and the other letters to the editor, it talks about this chamber of commerce survey about whether stores should sell to Japanese Americans or not. Do you have any memories of that?

MU: I wasn't aware of that, if there was a survey.

KL: Were there other stores besides Anderson's that wouldn't sell to Japanese Americans?

MU: No, I think the other -- well, it was, it's a small town. Caruthers only has, what, two or three small places where they sell groceries. I don't think we had any problem with others.

KL: That may actually have been in Watsonville. I may be, yeah, that survey may have been, may have been in Watsonville. That's a powerful example, of that soldier who gave your brother, and then his father would respond to that. Were there any other encounters where you saw people's feelings change?

MU: No, I don't recall any other specific encounters.

KL: Did that, did other members of the church eventually warm to your family?

MU: Oh yeah, we went regardless.

KL: You started to know people.

MU: We were very active, so we were accepted.

KL: Was there a Japanese American Christian church around?

MU: In Fresno, yeah.

KL: Why did you choose to attend the local one?

MU: It's closer. Fresno is what, twelve miles. Caruthers is only a couple miles. And we're familiar with the people there.

KL: Did most of the Japanese American community of Caruthers return to Caruthers?

MU: Yes, I think everybody did.

KL: Did others attend churches like you guys, integrate churches?

MU: Our family is the only Christian family, so others belong to the Buddhist church. Although maybe one or two members of a particular family may be Christian.

KL: Was there a Buddhist church in Caruthers?

MU: No.

KL: Where was it? Where was the Buddhist church?

MU: It's in Fresno.

KL: Did that church, did the Buddhist or the Christian church in Fresno have a role in storing people's belongings or in helping people reenter --

MU: I think the Buddhist church did.

KL: What, do you know what they did or how it was...

MU: No. We kept our things stored in the little building that was on our own property, and of course we had asked the Sorensons to watch over our ranch, so we didn't worry.

KL: What, when you came back, did Noriko and Fumi come back also to Caruthers, and were Mildred and Anna still there, your friends from high school?

MU: What was that?

KL: Your friends, your girlfriends from high school, that group of about five of you, did, were they still around Caruthers, or did they come back, too?

MU: Yeah, they all came back.

KL: How was your, what was your reunion like? When you saw them again after those years away, what did you talk about or what did you do?

MU: We didn't have that much contact. They either went to school or went to work, so...

KL: And what did you do? Did you go to work or to school?

MU: I went to work to support the family, and of course, it was all farm work.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: So that was from 1945 until, when did you say you started attending college?

MU: '48.

KL: What changed to enable you to go to college?

MU: My brother had taken over the farm. And I was free, so I decided to go to college.

KL: Was it your oldest brother who took over?

MU: Tosh?

KL: Was it Tosh?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: What was college like?

MU: It was kind of overwhelming. [Laughs] Being older, about nine, eight, nine years older than the rest of the kids, students. But I enjoyed it.

KL: What did you study?

MU: In junior college in L.A. I just took the basic, and then I went to, finished up in Seattle.

I took --

KL: What junior college were you in?

MU: Huh?

KL: What junior college did you attend?

MU: Los Angeles Pacific College. It's a church related college. And then, then up in Seattle was a sister college, Seattle Pacific. It's a Free Methodist related college.

KL: And did you have a course of studies in Seattle?

MU: I took college preparatory. Well, I was in college -- I took religion and, general plus religion, yeah.

KL: That must've been interesting to take religion courses about a religion that you had chosen as an adult. What did, what do you remember learning in your religion course, and what was that like?

MU: It was interesting. It was helpful. Growing up, well, my mother was a nominal Christian, but then you got details about what it meant to be a Christian, so it was very helpful.

KL: Were you able to talk with your mother about that, or was the language barrier still...

MU: No, not that much.

KL: So what about after you graduated?

MU: I, my mother hadn't been to Japan for, how many, some thirty years, so I stayed home and took care of my brother, invalid brother, and so she was able to visit her mother and her sisters and others. And then she was able to visit my husband-to-be's mother, parents, their family, because she thought, "My son is going around with some woman that's..." you know, they don't know American young people, Christian young people. So her picture of Nisei was quite different from actual, what it actually was, and so she was very hesitant to give my husband an okay. But my mother went to visit her, and after that she understood a little better, and that was '54. We were married in '55. Yeah, so everything turned out okay. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah, that was, that was good timing.

MU: [Laughs] Yeah.

KL: What did your mother say about her trip?

MU: She enjoyed it. She hadn't seen her mother since she left Japan, and then while she was in Beppu, which is the westernmost, western island in Japan, while they were doing, handing out tracts, one girl came while my mother was with her sister and her nephew, and while they were handing out tracts one young girl came and insisted that she be given a tract from this boy, which is my mom's nephew. And it turned out to be his sister who was given away to be adopted, and so that was quite an incident.

KL: And your mom witnessed it. Wow.

MU: Yeah, and my mother witnessed it.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: Well, what was your, what are some important parts of your married life, after 1955? And I guess, who is your husband? Tell us who your husband is.

MU: Jundo, Jundo Uzaki. We went to -- Keiko was born in '59, that's my daughter -- we went to Japan in September of 1960, and we lived with his parents at that time. And then in January --

KL: How was it meeting his parents for the first time?

MU: It was kind of scary, but we did okay. And then the following January we went to -- we reached Japan in September, in January he died from cancer, and so we were, my daughter and I were left, you know. But we stayed with the family, tried to help as much as we can, and I got a job teaching conversational English in a girls' school in Osaka. I was able to help financially a little bit. And of course, my daughter was their only grandchild, and so they enjoyed that.

KL: Did you ever talk with people in Japan about being Japanese American?

MU: No, no. I don't recall that we had specifically talked about that.

KL: What did, what did they think of you? What was your students' and your friends' reaction to you?

MU: Coming from the States, I think I first wore dresses and they always wore a two-piece, like a suit, and they thought, "That's different, wearing a dress." And then I would play with my daughter in the backyard or backstreet with another of my daughter's friend, a fellow living right next door, and they would hear me playing, laughing, talking out loud with the kids, and the neighbors thought, "She acts like, just like the people I see in the, on TV." [Laughs] I guess Japanese people are reserved.

KL: I have heard that. [Laughs] But you were Hollywood kind of.

MU: I was very, we were having a good time.

KL: How long were you in Japan?

MU: From, let's see, I came back in '63. Yeah.

KL: I thought it was longer. It was just about three years?

MU: I stayed what, we went in '51.

KL: Okay. I thought you went in '59 or '60.

MU: Let's see...

KL: You said you were married in '55, and Keiko was --

MU: I was married in, yeah, we went to Japan '65, and then I came back '73.

KL: So Keiko was about first grade?

MU: She grew up in Japan. She, yeah, she was thirteen. I think she was about thirteen.

KL: What did you like about Japan, and what was difficult about being there?

MU: I liked Japan. The food was, was good. Being able to speak some Japanese, we got along well in church, at least, not deep conversation, but we were able to communicate. And I started, my father-in-law contacted the Osaka Jogakuin, that's a girls' school in Osaka, and I got a job teaching conversational English. And while there I made many tapes so that students could listen in the laboratory, besides... then I started to teach English, conversational English in junior college when they began that. So I was busy.

KL: And you lived with your husband's parents the whole time?

MU: Yes.

KL: Why did you decide to come back to the United States?

MU: Keiko had, was, had asthmatic condition, and it wasn't good for her in Japan, so she came back. And I came back... she came back in September, I came back at the end of school year, which ends up in March, so I came back in, I think around April or May.

KL: Of 1973?

MU: Yeah, (next) year.

KL: And where did you come? Did you come back to California?

MU: In Fresno, my mother's place, our home.

KL: Was she still living?

MU: My mother? No. No, she passed away, what year was it? (1985).

KL: Did she ever naturalize as a U.S. citizen?

MU: She, yeah. She got her citizenship paper.

KL: Did she tell you why or what it was like taking the exam?

MU: I think they had a class for anyone who wanted to get citizenship paper, and I don't know whether that was done in English. Not, I think it was all in Japanese, but then they got the gist of the constitution. So she became a citizen.

KL: Did she tell you what that meant to her?

MU: No, I don't recall.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: When you came back to Fresno, did you have, I guess you found another job. Were you still teaching, or what was your life like?

MU: I had some, a classmate who was a head teller in the local bank, and so I wondered if there was a job at the bank, so I went and she got me a jump, a job as a teller. And then when that particular office closed and moved to another building, I was, I worked as new accounts, opened new accounts. And I worked how many years, thirteen years.

KL: And then retired?

MU: Yeah. And I had, my mother died, so I had to help take care of my brother, too.

KL: How long did he live? This is your youngest brother?

MU: He lived until (1992), so he was some, what, he was about fifty-four years. He lived a long time for a cerebral palsy person.

KL: What, where did your other siblings lives take them after the time in Jerome and Rohwer? I know one of them was a missionary. Would you just go through your siblings and...

MU: I have one sister, Lily, went as a missionary.

KL: What about Tosh? What was the rest of his --

MU: He was a farmer. He worked on the farm.

KL: Did he keep that twenty acres for all of his life?

MU: Yeah, and he worked for other people, too. He worked for a neighbor.

KL: You started, I interrupted you. You said he was a farmer, but what were you gonna say? I didn't mean to interrupt.

MU: He was also Boy Scout leader. He led the young people in different things.

KL: And Lily was a missionary. What about Kats, Katsumi?

MU: Kats was a farmer. He wanted to go to bible school, but then the family needed him, so he stayed on the farm.

KL: In Fresno area.

MU: In Caruthers, yeah.

KL: And Aiko?

MU: Aiko was married and down south. She and her husband were in Japan. He went as a military person and she went there, they spent quite a few years there in Japan. And she tells the story of, they went to one, I don't know exactly what it was, but the prince, the prince... what was his name? Anyway, the Emperor's brother, prince, helped put on her jacket, and she said it was quite an experience to have somebody from the Imperial Palace do that for her. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah, I guess so. Your family strikes me as being pretty bold and pretty committed to, to responding to their experiences, being sent off the farm and being confined. Like your response to the questionnaire, qualifying your answers, your sister's letter to the editor, all of Saburo and Marion's --

MU: I guess we were pretty independent. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah, do you, why do you think that is? Why are guys as cool as you are? [Laughs]

MU: I don't know. I don't know whether it's in our, part of our nature to respond that way.

KL: Were there --

MU: But I think it was the situation, whether right or wrong, you have to decide, do what we think is the right thing to do.

KL: How did you think that played out in all of your adult lives? Were there campaigns that you participated in or conversations you had that were rooted in your experiences early on?

MU: I think it helped us to make, not go along with the general public but make our own decision, yeah. And having gone through evacuation and the war, it changes us and the way we think.

KL: Have there been other times in your life when you have been reminded of what it was like in 1941 and '42? Do you ever worry, or have you ever worried that something could happen that's similar again?

MU: I don't know about the siblings, but I think, I think it had an effect on the way we felt, way we thought, dealing with people.

KL: Do you, what can you tell me about your memories of the redress movement in the 1980s?

MU: The redress movement? I, the government treated her people, citizens, unjustly. I don't know that the monetary was the, the best solution to that, but the Japanese people suffered a loss. They had to leave everything. Some were more fortunate than others, but I think the government needed to help the people get back on their feet by giving some money, yeah.

KL: You have visited a lot of the sites where people were confined. Would you tell us about those visits, why, where you've been and why you went, and what it was like to be there?

MU: After the war?

KL: Yeah.

MU: After the war. Well, in 1949, I decided to go to college, and I wasn't thinking, I was thinking of missions, but not necessarily missionary to Japan, but I met a fellow from Japan and after, well, we got married and I went back to Japan. I went to Japan, and he died the following, we went back in September, he died in January, and I decided to stay on and continue teaching conversational English and ended up staying thirteen years.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: I know you guys, did you go to the reunion "Life Interrupted" in Arkansas?

MU: Uh-huh.

KL: Tell us what, tell us what you did there. What was that reunion about? What was it like?

MU: It was, it brought back a lot of memories, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. But my daughter said, she was hesitant about going back, or not going back, going to Arkansas, but it was quite a, had quite an impact on her, and she wrote a wonderful article. I should bring it and let you read it. It helped her understand what the older Japanese Isseis and Niseis had gone through, with the evacuation and all that. It's quite revealing. She said, "I'm sure glad I went." Yeah. I'll let you look at it.

KL: I would like to.

MU: Yeah.

KL: Yeah, her perspective is a unique one, being born in this country after the camp time, and then living so much of her early life in Japan, and now living here in the U.S. and having, having her family background, it's a unique perspective. How many people were at that reunion, and what did, how long did it last?

MU: There were quite a few. I don't remember the exact, but there were, I'm sure there were over a thousand people there.

KL: How long did it last?

MU: About, probably what, three, four days. Three, four days, yeah.

KL: What were, what did you do during those three or four days?

MU: We had speakers, we had... what was his name? Member of the congress from Hawaii.

KL: Daniel Inouye?

MU: Yeah, he was there. We had some colored lady from Arkansas, well-known lady. We had a number of speakers, yeah.

KL: What was that like to hear the colored lady from Arkansas who had, I assume she saw Jerome and Rohwer but was living outside of the camps?

MU: I think I felt that she really understood what the Japanese went through, because we had faced racial discrimination here and she knew all about hers, their, the colored people's discrimination.

KL: You know, there was a teacher who brought his students to Manzanar, and he said that one of the things that he really valued about that visit is that his students, who were mostly Latino, saw that they weren't the only ones, and that he thought that was really valuable for them.

MU: Yeah.

KL: Are there, I have one kind of wrap up question, but are there other things that you, that I should've asked about but didn't, that you want to talk about?

MU: No, I don't think so. But I was hope -- thinking that the government learned what they've had, make us go through, that won't happen ever to other groups of minorities. Because, like California, it was discrimination; it wasn't for safety purposes, because those who were, led the evacuation were anti-Japanese. It was a racial thing.

KL: Mark, do you have questions? [To MU] I think you just answered my question. I was gonna ask you something about what you hope people will take away from your story if they watch this in several years. What, you said it changed you, it changed --

MU: United States is made up of all immigrants and their descendants. It's the only country where we can grow and develop, and among all different races and still be American, U.S. citizens, and help one another. I think this is the only country where that can happen, because it was built on democracy. Yeah, so we're fortunate to be living here.

KL: Well, thank you so much.

MU: You're welcome.

KL: Thank you for sharing all those stories and for always having been willing to sort of write and speak. I appreciate you for that.

MU: You're welcome. [Laughs]

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