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-01-0025

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KL: You mentioned that you sort of took notes of the two WRA men. When did your feelings shift about trying to get back at them?

IT: I don't really know. Well, I think what I was, what made me really happy to be here in America, which is, to me it doesn't make sense because we were thrown in camp, so they put me in that position. But what made me feel happy about being American -- well, I was from the beginning, but even more so was the opportunity I had to get out of the rut that I was in and go above it. Like I could get, if I was educated and I could be a teacher. Although being a teacher, when I went to New Jersey on that... I went with this gal that's ten years older than me. She had a lot of threats in the mail. She was a teacher at the Bailey Gatzert. And I came ten years later.

KL: You taught at Bailey Gatzert?

IT: No, I didn't, but I did a lot of studies there. You know how you have to do projects? And I went to the same teacher I had in first grade and studied a kid in her class, and I got to some of the teachers. I think, yeah, when I was a teacher, sister, one sister was teaching in junior high and one was in Bailey Gatzert.

KL: Did they ever talk to you about what it was like for them to watch the Japanese American students taken out of school and out of Seattle? The teachers that you connected with as a --

IT: No, but let's see... it, I think it was in, oh no, it was in high school that one, he was a young teacher. He asked me, "Why are you Japanese such good students?" And I said, "'Cause we're scared." [Laughs] And he just, he just wanted a whole classroom full of us. I mean, he just, we were so obedient. But we were pushed down so much that we were very obedient. But I think that's how Japanese tend to be. I mean, that's the culture, to adults, they're... nowadays not.

KL: I've heard that rumor.

IT: But in that, in that time, yeah.

KL: Can you tell me the name of the Methodist church that was the hostel, the Japanese Methodist church in Seattle?

IT: I don't know if it was the Blaine Methodist Church. They could've changed it to that when they, I don't know if it was the Methodist church. They could've bought that place. I just know it was the same building.

KL: Where is it?

IT: It's near the Buddhist church they have in...

KL: Betsuin?

IT: Yeah, betsuin.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.