Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Irene Yamauchi Tatsuta Interview
Narrator: Irene Yamauchi Tatsuta
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Laguna Woods, California
Date: October 13, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-tirene-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: What are your memories of Minidoka, besides the end of it? But during the other years that you were there, are there people or places that stand out?

IT: Well, my, we had a friend -- I met her later, I think -- anyway, she was active in that Valedas, you know that college. She was a year ahead of me, and her sister was my second grade teacher, and she was a certified teacher. The rest of the people were from camp and they were, they must've gotten paid sixteen dollars, they were like aides. But I do remember my third grade teacher, Miss Queen or something, didn't care for her. And anyway, I ended up in the remedial reading club, or something, and because I'm a teacher I know this is really wrong. She used to have us read round robin, and when it's your turn you read until you make a mistake, so if you stutter or anything like that, then it's the next person. So here I was, the best reader in first grade, and then I was in remedial in third grade. Course that didn't help my confidence. [Laughs] Anyway, I, she was Caucasian, I'm sure she was certified but maybe like a beginning teacher, I don't know. Then the next, the fourth grade, I remember that teacher. We used to imitate her. She used to chew gum, get a big piece of paper, fold it in half, put her gum in there, and then we'd sing "America," and then she'd put the gum back in her mouth. [Laughs] Then we used to have pot-bellied stoves, and because my last name was "Y" I was near the end, but there a few girls behind me; they would get their pencils and heat the lead. I remember all those things. My cousin was in the class, she had some kind of candy or gum that was round, she dropped it and it rolled to the back, so she made it seem like somebody in the back dropped it. I remember all those things. [Laughs] But I do remember that in second grade they divided us by, I think age, or months, and I thought it was so unfair because during the math lesson I would always look back and look at that group in the back. So they finally invited me to move there, to that group, which was faster, and I guess maybe it's because math was my subject at that, later on I was going to become a math teacher, so... it just, the schooling wasn't that great, but at least we had school. [Laughs]

KL: Did you get in trouble ever when you, like when the candy rolled to the back or when you guys would poke each other?

IT: No, but I don't remember, I do remember Miss Queen putting me in the corner. And I'd sit there and peel whatever that wallpaper was, probably asbestos. [Laughs] Anyway, and I thought it was so unfair, but then of course I had no say. But that's all I remember.

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