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

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: Well, this is tape one of an interview with Irene Tatsuta. My name is Kristen Luetkemeier, I'm a park ranger with the Manzanar Oral History Project. Today is October, I think it's the 12th, 2014, and --

IT: Isn't it the 13th?

KL: It may be. Is it the 13th? Yeah, it is the 13th, October 13, 2014. And we're gonna be talking today about Irene's experiences growing up in Seattle and then being sent to the Puyallup Assembly Center and to Minidoka, and also her life afterwards in Seattle and here in southern California. We're in Irene's home here in Laguna Woods today. And Irene, before we go any further, I just want to confirm that I have your permission to talk to you today and record this interview and make it available to the public?

IT: Yes.

KL: Thank you for that. I'm glad, I'm glad this has worked out. I want to start out by asking you a little bit about your parents' lives. If you could, just kind of introduce us to your mother, tell us her name, when and where she was born, and what you know about the family she grew up in.

IT: Okay, my mother was born in Seattle. She was the eldest of five kids, and I think the, I figure that the family was fairly -- her name was Hatsuye -- was kind of, not wealthy, but better than the average. Because they used to take her to Japan for visits, and I guess she went to school there off and on, but she told me she just got to the fifth grade, but I don't think so, I think she had gone on in Japan and then transferred back and forth. So I really don't know, but she knew quite a bit, so... like she knew about the writ of habeas corpus when she was in camp, so I figured she knew something.

KL: Did you know your grandparents at all, her parents?

IT: No, when we got to Minidoka, our only grandparent that I knew was my mother's mother, and she died right away, so I remember the funeral. But I do remember her in Puyallup, the assembly center, where she was really kind of bossy and wanted us to pay allegiance to her, kind of. We were kind of scared of her. But my father had a sister in Japan, who was older than he was -- and his name was Sunahiko Yamauchi -- and his mother in Japan died a week after my mother died, so it was, and I'd never met them. He rarely talked about his side.

KL: Do you know what motivated your father to immigrate?

IT: I, probably a better life. I think he came here, I thought he said eighteen, but I don't know. I'm not sure, I never did figure it out.

KL: Where was he from in Japan?

IT: I don't know. [Laughs] I don't know too much about Japan. I don't have any more relatives there. But when we were adults, we found out that when we were born we were given dual citizenship, and so my aunt told us, or especially my brother, that, "You better change it, because Japan could call you in to fight for them, because you're a citizen." Well of course, I was angry with Japan anyway, for starting the war, so I didn't want that citizenship, so the three of us, I remember going to -- I was down here already -- I went to a lawyer in L.A. and got that removed. Yeah, but what was I going to tell you about that?

KL: Was that difficult to do?

IT: No. It seems like we went -- you mean to change the citizenship?

KL: Yeah, I've never heard an account of renouncing a...

IT: It seems like we went to a Japanese lawyer. I don't know why. Anyway, and he was not too friendly, and it seems to me, I felt he probably didn't make much money on this deal, so he probably thought he'd rather be doing something else. I don't know, that's just my thinking. But I was really glad to drop that. But my father's sister was still living, and she had a beautiful, she had a beautiful house and property in Japan, and she wanted to give it to one of us three kids, or split it or whatever. And there was something that you have to live there to buy it or inherit it or whatever it is, and I was still angry with Japan, so I said, "No, I'm not gonna go to Japan." So we gave it up because... and so she looked for somebody with the same last name. I think she gave it to a nephew or something. I don't know. I don't know much about Japan.

KL: What did your, switching back to your mother's side, those grandparents who also were in the United States, what was their work?

IT: They owned a place on, what do you call that, where you have homeless, that type of place, down there. And they rented baths and they, the same outfit had a barber shop, so all my mother's side learned how to cut hair, and apparently my dad learned too from them. We have pictures of them with a smock or whatever they wear, wore. Anyway, my mother, yeah, all the women cut hair in her family. She had, the in-law did too, they were all barbers.

KL: The in-laws...

IT: My uncle's wife, she learned how to cut hair. I don't know whether she worked there, but they, I don't even know if it was a school. I don't think so. I think it was just a family thing. But that's the reason they had money to go to Japan to visit and back, because we didn't have that kind of money. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: I noticed you said your parents were both musical, too. Would you tell us about that?

IT: Okay, my mother played the koto, Japanese harp, and when we were in camp my sister and I took koto lessons. And we owned two kotos. I sound like a, my accent sounded funny. Anyway, we lost them because when they packed everything my mom didn't want to go after them, when they forced us out, so we lost them. But her sister played the shamisen, the, I don't know what you call it in English.

KL: I think shamisen. [Laughs]

IT: And the, both husbands played the, what was that, the bamboo flute?

KL: The shakuhachi?

IT: Yeah, that's right, good. And my dad had a, when he died and his, my brother died too, we saw the set that he had and everything. I got one, just, I thought maybe I'd frame it or some, use it for decoration. But when I moved out here I gave it to my brother's wife to give to the kids. And I saw the little one playing it, so I thought, "Oh well." But anyway, the four of them, and there could've been a fifth, they would get together and play together, so they were quite musical.

KL: Where did they play?

IT: Just in the camp. Well, I just remember camp, and they would just get together and whoever's house and just play. So to me, it was kind of, I thought it was a nice family thing.

KL: Yeah. What are some of your earliest memories, then? Or I guess, first I should ask you when you were born.

IT: In, on May 3, '35.

KL: And do you have memories from before...

IT: Before camp?

KL: Going to Puyallup?

IT: I do remember nursery school and being sickly until I had my tonsils out. I still remember the Christmas tree when my mom, when I was kind of sick and sad, she hired a babysitter. But that was, I'd been pretty healthy since my tonsils came out and I didn't miss a day of school. And I remember being in college, going to class when it snowed, and the teacher had said to us that it was, it made her feel real good that some of us students felt that school was important enough to come through the, to school. [Laughs] And we had to take the bus, forty-five minutes one way, to University of Washington. Of course, they don't pay, we didn't pay as much as they did. The tuition was much lower.

KL: Do you remember, let's see, you were born in 1935, do you remember elementary school?

IT: Yes, and I was in the first grade... it, I don't know why I kind of remember second grade. Maybe I had started second grade. And the principal came out to Puyallup, because she felt badly we were taken in the camps, and she gave us some things, I don't remember, but it was through the fence that we had to talk to each other. And I remembered thinking, my mom said, "We're going to camp," and so I thought we were going to like a Boy Scout camp, and we had an Italian friend, his name was Joe, little guy, and I kept saying, "It's too bad Joe can't come with us." And then when we got to camp, I said, "Where are the tents?" I didn't realize what was happening, but I do remember going to a location where they picked us up.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: Let's back up a little bit before that, 'cause I want to get kind of a picture of just your, your recollections and what your family life and your neighborhood and stuff were like before, before they were so disrupted, before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

IT: Well, my dad used to, he was like a, what do you call a janitor like, at the medical building downtown. And my mom worked in the barber shop. We went, they spoke Japanese at home, my mom spoke good Japanese, and so we spoke Japanese, but when we went to, I think it was the Baptist school nursery, we learned English. And it got to a point where we wouldn't speak Japanese at home and it would irritate my mom, but we'd keep saying to our parents, "Speak English!" [Laughs] And it was even more so when my dad got the stroke. But anyway...

KL: Did your dad, was he bilingual?

IT: Not really, but he'd try, and he was quite friendly, because they called him Teddy at the... no, this was, okay, I'm getting ahead of myself. No, he, I don't think he was bilingual.

KL: Do you know how your folks met?

IT: Well, only thing I could remember, I asked my mom, and he would -- now, I don't know why he wasn't working then, but he would play some kind of go or, not go, some kind of Japanese game with little wooden things, or I don't know what they were, but he would go over and play with her dad, at the barber shop, I guess, in front. And he also worked behind the fountain somewhere, because have a picture of him, and we don't, I don't know much more about that. Anyway, my mom told me that, "I called him Ojisan," which means, I guess, uncle, somebody older than she is, and so she kind of laughs and says, and then she ends up marrying him. But that's about all I remember about them, I mean of what she told me. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: What do you, did she ever talk about what drew her to him or what...

IT: No, I don't.

KL: Why they decided to marry? What was their relationship like when you knew them, as a little kid? How did you...

IT: Well, I remembered my mom -- well now, wait a minute. This is, sometimes my mind skips after the war. But okay, he used to take us to the public library, and we checked out three books, we went once a week, and I thought the librarian was gonna get mad if I didn't read the three books, so I was a pretty good reader in first grade. And...

KL: Did the librarian take an interest in you when you would go in? what do you remember about the Seattle library?

IT: I don't remember too much except just going there, and I was so glad he took us. She must've helped us find books that I could read, because I remember I could read the books when I got home. And my dad was quite a sportsman, so he'd go fishing on, sometimes on Sunday, and I do remember my mom getting mad at him, saying, "And you'd have to kill the fish on Sunday." [Laughs] And she was more, they sent us to the Buddhist church. She didn't take us, though. She might've once in a while, but she had an adult pick us up and we went to the Buddhist church. But my mother was quite religious, and her mother used to scold us, because when we were in Puyallup this gal would come by and gather everybody for Sunday school, and she was Baptist, and my grandma I remember getting mad at us for going there. Well, we didn't know. Of course, that was a short thing. [Laughs]

KL: She thought you should stay Buddhist only?

IT: Yeah. And you know, it didn't make any impression on us one way or the other, but we were, we went to church every Sunday, and so I think my mother was more on the religious side.

KL: How did she practice religion, if she wasn't, she didn't go with you guys to a congregation?

IT: She might have gone, but I know after the war, on Sundays she went three times. She went to the Sunday school service, the young adults, and the Japanese service. So she was quite religious, but I guess having a mother like she had, my grandmother, she couldn't escape it. [Laughs] But the whole family was Buddhist.

KL: Your dad also?

IT: He, yeah, he went. But it was so sad because he lost so much when we were in Puyallup and he was hammering the crates. He didn't, really didn't get much help. But when we went from Puyallup to Minidoka, and of course we were told nothing, we just got on the train and they pulled the shades, my dad and my father were on the hospital train because of his stroke. And my mom had a bad heart and she had high blood pressure. And my uncle had, I don't know, on this trip if he, I think he had four kids and we had three, he took care of all of us because, you know, we had a room near the dipper and they gave us the wrong room for a family of five, it was really supposed to be for a couple.

KL: This is in Minidoka?

IT: Yeah -- no, Puyallup. So we had to have two double beds from wall to wall, and if one of us wet the bed, then it just, course they had to change everything. But anyway, I can't remember if, they might've moved us. Anyway, they had to make hot water -- I don't know how she had, she must've packed it, a burner, a small one, and she had a basin on there warming up hot water, and she had a bucket with water on the side. I guess she went after water to... and it was on an apple or orange crate, wood. My brother, who's two years older, was chasing me, I went back, sat on that hot stove, and the basin, I don't know if it went into the bucket or anything, but I got burned on my seat. So when we went to Minidoka, I remembered my uncle had to help me go to the bathroom. Felt like a dog. [Laughs]

KL: Were you, did that happen, the burning happen in Puyallup?

IT: Yeah. Because we had, we were in such a crowded space and we, we had to make use of everything. So, like the box had to, and my mother had it in, kind of in the middle of the floor, so we were running around of course and I backed up and sat on it. And then the whole neighborhood would come and look when they treated me. I don't know if they, it felt like they were peeling something, but I don't know.

KL: Where did you get the treatment?

IT: I don't even remember going to a hospital, but I must have. They wouldn't, it must've been something, they must've had some kind of first aid or something over there. I don't know.

KL: Yeah, I don't know the specifics either.

IT: I have no idea, but I do remember them putting bandage, big pieces. And now I laugh about it. It's like I had one of those target things. [Laughs] But I know I went to, my uncle had to take care of us, and I felt sorry for him, but, and very grateful by the time I was old enough to realize how much they were helping us.

KL: This is your mom's brother, I guess, 'cause your father was the only --

IT: Brother-in-law.

KL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: Would you, tell me again about your mom's siblings. Did she have more than one sibling?

IT: She had, she was the eldest of five, well, five children. So she took her, okay, under her was a sister that's a year and a half, and she's the one who really helped us out.

KL: And what was her name?

IT: We call her Mrs. M, Matsumoto. I can't, Ayako I think her name was. But she and her husband just really helped our family out. We couldn't have survived, because when my mom died I was only fourteen, and she really helped us out, because my dad couldn't do too much. And I'm forever grateful to her. And right now she has, she had four children, two of them already died.

KL: What was her husband's first name? Do you know?

IT: I know he -- Shigeru, Shigeru. He went, I think he went by George, but Shigeru, yeah.

KL: And then did you mother's younger siblings stay in Seattle area?

IT: Okay, he, underneath her was Mitch Shinoda, and he was in the 442. He was like an interpreter or translator or something like that. Then underneath him was Miyo, who my mother, I guess, helped raise.

KL: Miyo with an M?

IT: M-I-Y-O. And she married a guy in Hawaii, and they own, right now they own -- well, he's dead now, too, but they owned a bunch of supermarkets. At that time she married him, I think they just had one store. She told me that they wanted her to head the clothing or the, they had the clothing section, they sewed material, and she had already made up her mind not to work for the family because there's gonna be trouble later on, and later on she felt she did a wise thing. She became, I think a vice president or something of a bank like in Hilo. But she died. They all died, I think she died at fifty. My mom died at forty-one. Her, and then there was a younger brother who was eighteen, I think, and joined the army and the war ended so he didn't, I don't think he went. But he died at forty-five, with a heart attack.

KL: Was he still in Washington state? Did he go to Minidoka also?

IT: Yeah. And then they went back to Seattle. But my, the brother's family had a house and I don't know if people took things from it. I mean, I don't really know the situation.

KL: What was your mother's maiden name?

IT: Shinoda.

KL: Okay. And the fifth brother, what was his first name?

IT: Ted.

KL: Ted.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: And then you've mentioned a couple of siblings. Would you introduce, for the tape, your siblings, where you...

IT: My siblings?

KL: Uh-huh.

IT: My brother's name is Howard, he's two years older than I am. And my sister is two years younger, her name is Jean.

KL: And when you were in Seattle, what was the name of the neighborhood, or do you remember the address of your mom's family's operation? What was your neighborhood like?

IT: You know, I don't know. I just remember that from our back porch or wherever we were, we looked down and there was a little white house. I thought the president lived there because it was a white house. [Laughs] We must've lived, well, I don't know if, the bus could've picked us up for nursery school. There's the Baptist church around there. I don't know if we lived around there. But we weren't wealthy at all. I know we had a car, and of course we had to get rid of it.

KL: Did you live right downtown?

IT: I don't think so, not downtown. I have no idea.

KL: Did you live -- sorry to keep asking you questions about stuff so early in your life.

IT: No, that's fine.

KL: Did you live at the place where your grandparents had the barber shop and the baths?

IT: No, that was way down First Avenue or whatever. It seems like we lived in a residential area, like Fourteenth Avenue. I don't know.

KL: You wrote down the name of your elementary school. I wonder if you'd tell us its name and what, anything you remember.

IT: Bailey Gatzert. All three of us went there. And then during the war of course we weren't there, but when we went back, I was in fifth grade. And then when my sister -- my sister's two years younger, but when she was in the fourth grade they double promoted her, or whatever you call it, not double, I don't know what you call it, half year, half year.

KL: Skipped a grade or two.

IT: And then they decided, no, I guess in fourth grade they decided to put her back, or she could go forward, and it was her choice and she wanted to be back with her friends. So she went back, but it was half year promotion, promotion or something, whatever you call it.

KL: Yeah, I don't know. We just called it skipping.

IT: Then, yeah, then we went to, so I was in fifth grade when I got there and it seems like it was November, but I'm not sure. It had already started.

KL: February, I think.

IT: Okay, then...

KL: What about the Buddhist church that you attended as a kid?

IT: Okay.

KL: Before --

IT: Our Buddhist church had built a new one just before the war, and then when the war came, the military took over and they used the gym for, I guess bunk, there were signs still painted up there, bunk so-and-so, number so-and-so. It was disheartening because it was brand new and of course it wasn't kept that way. But anyway, we went back there and then my mom, after the war my mom found this hotel, it was an apartment hotel, very, half block, I think it's south of the church. And there was a public playground across the street, Collins Playground, so we didn't have anybody taking care of us. We always went to the park, joined all the classes and baked cookies, I remember. And the place that we stayed, you look out the window and you looked down Mount Rainier, I mean Rainier Avenue, and you, on a good day you could see Mount Rainier. I mean, it was just beautiful. But then the place was terrible, had cockroaches and... of course, we couldn't afford anything, so we didn't -- in those days there was no TV, at least for us, and we did our washing with a scrub board in the tub, so we hated washing because, you know [mimes scrubbing clothes]. And of course, we had to help do that. I still remember the, we were on the apartment side, well, the hotel side, one day somebody madly knocked on the door, and this gal was running down and asked us if, my parents weren't home, somebody's after her and they had people with guns, so... [laughs] And then you go downstairs and there's a garbage pail with rats all over. I mean, it was, it was ugly. But I was glad I kind of came out of that level, but after I, when I started teaching, I was looking for a place and all I could afford is rat-infested places. Luckily I had a teacher friend that offered me to rent a place.

KL: What was your church's name, the Buddhist church.

IT: Seattle Buddhist Church. They call it Betsuin now, B-E-T-S-U-I-N, betsuin.

KL: Do you have any... first I guess I should ask, are there any other memories of before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entering the war that you wanted to share, about Seattle, about your parents or anything else? Before I ask you what your memories are...

IT: Yeah, well, I went... before, I don't remember. Well, I'd remember quite a bit, but nothing special happened.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: Do you have recollections of December 7, 1941?

IT: You know what? As an adult, I didn't even know what, what that was. And somebody would tease me -- I think I was an adult already -- about December 7th, and I didn't even know what it was. I just knew we were in camp because we were in a war, and that was about it.

KL: There was a forty year history of Japanese immigration and Japanese American kind of development, and there was a lot of racism that people encountered. Did you ever have any experiences, or did your family tell you later about any experiences before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor?

IT: No.

KL: Where they were treated --

IT: I didn't know anything.

KL: You were, as far as you knew, you were just growing up in Seattle.

IT: Yeah, right. Because I didn't even know why they were taking us. I thought we were going, like on a vacation. I just...

KL: What do you, what did your parents tell you, or what are your memories of those couple of months in between the attack and having to go to Puyallup? How did life change?

IT: All I remember is we're going to camp, and we have to, they were gonna pick us up at a certain spot and we were supposed to be there. I don't think they had much notice. I'm not sure, but I don't think so. And of course, we weren't anywhere near wealthy or even middle, I don't think, so I know we had a car, and I don't even know, I didn't know that we had to sell it, but of course we didn't have a car. We were, I'm sure we were renting this place. I don't know too much about the house we were living in except that's, that's our home. That's all I, and we had a friend in the neighborhood that we played with, his name was Joe, and that's about it.

KL: Was he Japanese American, too?

IT: No, he was Italian. That's what kind of, I kind of chuckled about it later.

KL: I pictured Joe as an adult, but he was another child?

IT: He was a little child. And I don't even know if he was my brother's friend or we, I guess we just played together outside. And so I kept thinking about Joe, wishing that he could come to camp with us, and then here I find out later about the war and the Italians on the other side, and I thought, "I can't believe this." [Laughs]

KL: Was there anything else besides Joe that was hard to leave, or that you remember wishing you could take?

IT: No. And I do remember my mom sewing us dresses. She was very good, she looked at the catalog and then she would make us a dress from it. And she had this sewing machine, but I can't, I don't know how she got it. I don't know whether she had it before. I don't think so. But she had a sewing machine.

KL: In Minidoka or in Seattle?

IT: In Minidoka. And she was really into me learning how to sew and being a good housewife, whatever. But she was really good in sewing. I'm sure she was a good cook and everything, but she couldn't do any of it when she came back 'cause she had to work.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: You said that people were gonna pick you up to take you from your home into --

IT: Yeah.

KL: What do you recall about going into Puyallup? What was --

IT: Well, I do remember the post having a sign, and of course I couldn't read all that, but it was that sign for us to evacuate and they were gonna pick us up. And I don't know how my mother found out from the sign or somebody came, I don't know, but anyway, we did go to the place and they put us on a bus. And I think from there we just went straight to Puyallup, and I remember there was Area A, B, C, D. D was the big one, and we went to D. I remembered we had to have our own plates, and they must've passed it out, 'cause I don't think we would've brought it, plastic plates. Every meal, we had to bring. After we ate it, we washed it and bring it back, brought it back the next meal. But there was somebody who wrote about our evacuation in the Northwest, the book, something about Hotel Sweet.

KL: Yeah, yeah.

IT: Okay, and he never went, but he described it pretty well. I could remember things when I was reading that.

KL: Like what? What were some of your pictures or sensory memories?

IT: I remember walking toward, I don't remember if it was the grandstand or somewhere, and we'd pick up our food. We ate there and then... so in that book, they brought the food in and I thought, "I bet you they did that." I didn't know that then. But they wouldn't let, like, the principal come. We had to talk through the fence.

KL: Yeah, I was curious about that encounter. Who, do you remember the principal's name, or do you know her...

IT: Mahon, Mahon.

KL: What, why did she come? What did she say, what did she bring you?

IT: I think, like, she gave us candy, but I, in the book it said she threw, or somebody from the park, I think, gave us balls, too, over the fence. I don't remember that, but I think she gave us little candies. I think she just was sad that we had to go. She liked the Japanese, and so she was...

KL: How did you know she was there to visit?

IT: I don't know how we found out, but it must be from word of mouth and everybody runs to the fence. And I don't remember too much except there was a guy in our, in that area that, he was not mentally stable, and my dad used to smoke, so he used to look for ashtrays and take those little stubs. And we were scared of him. He was tall, lanky, but he didn't, I don't think he spoke much. But anyway, so we would just sit back and watch do that, and then he'd take off, but he'd walk around, go to people's places and pick up stubs. But that's, that's all I do remember.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: Do you recall other visitors? Was that pretty common, like when the principal came?

IT: Yeah, and I do remember my aunt coming in later with the baby. She lived in Tacoma, my sister, my aunt.

KL: Mrs. M.?

IT: Matsumoto, yeah. She had a baby and they brought her in... the baby was born in April or May, I can't remember which one it was, but --

KL: Of '42, was when the baby...

IT: I think '42. I think that's the youngest, so she was born in May. I don't think she had a baby at Minidoka. I think this is the one that's... well, no. I'm writing to the one that's... I shouldn't say because I don't really know. Yeah, I think she's about five years younger than I am. But there was another one below her, born in May. Anyway, I do remember she coming in -- but before, the parents knew about the war coming and, I don't think they knew about the evacuation, but they knew something might happen, so they -- or maybe they did -- so they wanted to stay with the whole family. So they moved from Tacoma to Seattle, so we could be moved to the same area.

KL: Ayako and Shigeru moved to Seattle?

IT: Right. Yeah, so they moved to Seattle, and she had a baby and I think it was the young... anyway, I remembered in the spring she came with the baby.

KL: To Seattle.

IT: Yeah. I know about another baby, but I won't say because it's not my family.

KL: Did your aunt or your cousin ever tell you anything about what, how that was to have a baby in those circumstances, with all that uncertainty and...

IT: No, this is, this is my aunt, and she was like a mother to us, so she didn't say much. But I did talk to another one that, well, I won't say it because it's not my family and...

KL: Well, if you, I mean...

IT: She told me how she had to, she had a baby and they had some kind of childhood disease and she had to hide it or something like that, 'cause they were afraid they would take him. In fact, that was my biggest fear, was when we went to Minidoka. My biggest fear was we were gonna be orphaned. I thought, 'cause we didn't know what was gonna happen, and I thought they were gonna take my parents away, split us. So when we were evicted, I wrote, I'm getting ahead, but I wrote a thank you note to my parents for taking care of me. And my mom used to give us ten cents every month, if we got to the mess hall for breakfast, and every day you didn't go she minuses one. My brother never got any money because he figures after ten days he might as well stay out. And my sister and I got ten cents, so I had an old candy bar, 'cause we had a canteen there. I wrapped that up with my note to my parents thanking them, because I was so scared they were gonna take them away. And when they came in to take my mother and then take us to the hospital and we had to go back to pick up something, one of the packers tore it up, ate the candy bar, left the letter just on the floor. I just was heartbroken. So they never knew I had written that, but that's how sensitive I was about being taken away.

KL: Do you know why you had that fear so strongly?

IT: You know, I don't know why. 'Cause both my parents were okay. I mean, my mom was on the sickly side, but I don't know why. I wonder, even now, why I felt that, but then I feel like I turned out much more grateful because they were with us. But when my mom died, then my aunt kind of looked after us, but she would do it in such a nice way, kind of stand back but still she would look after us, that I'm forever grateful to them. And I love her kids, my cousins. I feel very close to them.

KL: Yeah, well, and you mentioned that other lady who had to hide her child because the child was ill. I mean, there's a lot of reasons I can think why you would've had that fear potentially.

IT: Because, well, for one thing, they would separate them, right, if it was contagious or whatever.

KL: Yeah. I know someone that happened to. He was very young.

IT: Yeah, but I was told that story, but I'd rather not have it for others to hear. I mean, as far as her name.

KL: [inaudible] this recording, you don't need to tell me who it is.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

IT: But that's how they were, too. I don't know how they found out, like my aunt, found out to move to Seattle. It could've just been a suspicion. I don't know.

KL: Yeah, there were a lot of rumors. I mean, I do know other people who, and people, aliens were asked to register. I mean, there were a lot of signs that something was gonna happen.

IT: That thing was terrible.

KL: Do you remember that?

IT: I remembered that no-no thing.

KL: Later, yeah.

IT: Yeah.

KL: This was even before, though, in early 1942. People were told to go and register if they were Japanese citizens. Or maybe it happened with Italian and German citizens, too. I don't know a lot about that history.

IT: No, I don't know.

KL: But there were, there were a lot of signs that something, that some things were gonna happen.

IT: What I don't understand is, I thought first that they must've taken my mother's citizenship away, but, because she went to the Edison High School...

KL: You know, there was a law -- I forgot about that -- if U.S. citizens, if women, female U.S. citizens married a Japanese national, many did lose their citizenship.

IT: Okay. Do you know what year that was?

KL: I don't know.

IT: Okay. I wondered about that.

KL: But it probably would have affected your mother. I forget about that sometimes.

IT: Yeah. And because she studied history, or constitution or whatever, and she's so busy, and I thought, "Why is she doing that?"

KL: So she later was seeking U.S. citizenship?

IT: Well, I don't, I don't remember she going anywhere. I think they passed a law saying she was already, I mean giving it back, if they took it away. I'm not sure. But, I never did look into that, but I was told that they...

KL: Yeah, I forgot about that.

IT: My dad did go to school, and he got naturalized. But my mom died in '49, so...

KL: Yeah, that was before.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: You said, you told me before we turned on the recorders that you had vivid memories of your father having a stroke at Puyallup. Could you, would you tell us your memories of that?

IT: Well, we were told that we had to get ready to move to another place. I don't think they told us where. And so they told us to pack our goods, so my dad, who was very healthy and capable, was packing these crates. And I still remember how all of a sudden his hammer went, he was holding his hammer up here [holds arm up] and he just went [mimics spasm], something like that, and later found out that he had a stroke. He lost, I think his left side or something, his mouth was, you know. And his speech, he must've lost some of that speech because he talked funny. So when we got ready to go, I guess, I'm sure my uncle finished packing for us, because we didn't have any men in the family that could hammer that. Anyway, my mother was sickly. I was told she had heart problems after I was born, so she was sickly. And my dad was also, after the stroke, they put them both in the hospital train and our uncle had to take care of the rest of us. Then my dad -- oh, okay, you go to camp, Minidoka, everybody has to work and you get sixteen dollars a month, in any job.

KL: Let me ask you two more questions, if I can, about Puyallup.

IT: Sure.

KL: Did you attend school in Puyallup?

IT: I don't remember. I don't think so.

KL: What was a typical day like there? I mean, you weren't there for very long. Maybe it wasn't a typical day, but like...

IT: I think it was a few months, wasn't it? I think so. You know, I don't, I just remember... I really don't remember too much. What I was going to say, too, earlier, was we had mattresses full of hay, and I think the three of us were allergic to that, the women were. [Laughs] My mom and I had hay fever, and my sister had asthma. But anyway...

KL: That reminds me, it would be good to get a description of your living quarters in Puyallup. You said it was small and told me about your burn experience, but as you, did you live in a piece of new construction or was it existing from the fairgrounds?

IT: I think it was existing. I think.

KL: As you walked in, what would you see in there? I'm just kind of --

IT: It was just a small room. I just remember the two double beds were put together wall to wall, no space in between, and all five of us slept that way. And then there was some space in front. I don't think they gave us chairs or anything. I don't remember. They had to use boxes tipped over or whatever to put things on. Although I do remember a shelf there where that guy got some cigarette stubs. But that was near the door, I just remember that. 'Cause I know when we went to Minidoka, they went, they got lumber, I guess it was, I don't know if it was surplus or they had to look for it or whatever, and my -- now, see, I don't know how my dad did it. Maybe he was able to... Somebody made us a sofa-like.

KL: In Minidoka?

IT: But it was with wood slats, with space between 'cause we didn't have that much wood, and then my mom would put an army blanket over it. But I don't, of course, we had the beds. Well, I shouldn't say "of course," but we had beds. But everything was one room.

KL: In Minidoka? This is in Minidoka?

IT: Both. And when I think about it, we, they could've moved us to a bigger place in Puyallup, and we didn't have much baggage anyway, so moving wasn't that big of a deal. But I don't think we could've run around with that, and me sitting on that, in that small space. 'Cause the room was, I can't even imagine. I mean, when you're small the sizes look different. But the width was, I remember the two double beds were hitting the wall. So we put that in the back part.

KL: Did you have any encounters in Puyallup with military police or army or other staff?

IT: No.

KL: Was there an evening, like, check, room search or anything that you recall?

IT: Not in Puyallup.

KL: Do you remember other parts of Puyallup than your living quarters?

IT: No. You know, I think the government was in such a hurry to get us in there -- in fact, when they sent us to Minidoka, things weren't even done there. Then we lived in barracks with cracks and the wind comes through and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, we didn't...

KL: Did you guys go outside in Puyallup, like you and your siblings? Did you, did you play?

IT: No, they wouldn't let -- you mean out of the gate?

KL: No, no, out of your living quarters. Out into the other parts of the...

IT: We'd go outside. But I don't remember what we did. We must've played with some little kids that were there too, just make up games. But in that book, it said we didn't have balls, so that guy from the parks rec or something brought us balls. That could be true because, I mean, I could believe that.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: I know in Portland there were people from the school system or the library or some county people who brought books and supplies and stuff. And it sounds like with your principal coming to visit you, there were some people who were empathic or sympathetic to your situation.

IT: Yeah, right, right. There was, they used to censor the letters, too. My mom, in Minidoka I think it was, I don't know whether she actually wrote to... now, I'm not sure how to say his name, Ickes? He was the Secretary of Interior or whatever who's in charge. I remembered she talked about him and she would write letters, and she would write a letter that she thought would be helpful even on the outside, a Caucasian. But she'd write it so it, he had to read between the lines. And I don't know why she wrote. What could they do?

KL: She wrote to someone in the government, or like a Caucasian friend?

IT: Both, I think. And so she was gonna write to this -- I heard his name on TV, he was Secretary of Interior or something like that. He was kind of in charge.

KL: It was Milton Eisenhower and Dillon Myer who were in charge of the WRA.

IT: Okay, but this guy's name was I-C-K-E-S.

KL: Oh, Ickes. Harold Ickes?

IT: Yeah, yeah. He's in charge of something. And I don't know whether she thought he didn't know what was going on or, well, she was so mad at the way she was treated, we were treated, really.


KL: Okay, we're back. This is tape number two on October the 13th, 2014. It's Kristen Luetkemeier again, with Irene Tatsuta. And you were talking, when I had to stop tape one, about your mother writing letters to Harold Ickes and other people, and I wondered what more you could tell us about those letters, if you ever saw them or how you knew about them.

IT: I don't think I saw them, but she knew, well, she said she knew they were reading it -- "they" is the government -- and censoring things. Later, somewhere I read that they did do that, I mean they censored the letters that were going back and forth. But I don't even know if she heard from this guy. Later I found out that he was also, he liked the Japanese and some of the people in camp knew this guy.

KL: Did she get responses?

IT: I don't think so. But she just, I guess she just couldn't believe the government because of what they did to us, and nothing seemed believable to her anymore.

KL: I hope you do write for you parents' case files sometimes, because it would be amazing to see copies of those letters, if they survived. I don't know if they would've ever caught up with your mom's record, but...

IT: Would they have copies of the letters?

KL: I don't know. They might have copies of them somehow. I don't know, if she wrote them to the Department of the Interior, I don't know if they ever would've made it back to her record, but it would be incredible to see what she, what she said.

IT: I remembered the name, but I knew it was mispronounced.

KL: Yeah, it's a really unusual name. I mean, there were debates within the president's cabinet about whether this was appropriate or legal.

IT: Yeah.

KL: So it's very, that's interesting that people knew Ickes and, by reputation, and others were talking about --

IT: See, that's what surprised me, because I didn't know my mother knew all this stuff. I mean, even in camp, when she told me she just went to the fifth grade, later I found out she did go to school in Japan, too, but that's not English.

KL: Yeah, she sounds very worldly.

IT: Yeah, and she under-, she seemed to, when she told me she asked for the writ of habeus corpus, I says, "What's that," you know? This is after.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Are there, let's see, I wondered if you remembered, this is still in Puyallup, what your parents' response was to arriving in that setting, or just to daily life in there? Did they act any differently? Do you have any memories of how they responded?

IT: No, they, they must've kept a lot to themselves, and if they talked about it maybe between them, but not to the kids. And we were just kids playing all the time, so... but yeah, that's true, though, I don't remember school. We might've gotten, they might've gotten us together, but it's not anything fixed or planned. It's just, I can't remember school there.

KL: Do you remember you and your siblings or any other kids, what you thought about Puyallup, how you reacted? Did you think it was exciting or scary or...

IT: No, I just didn't understand. I didn't understand the situation, 'cause first of all, there were no tents and it was not a fun thing, I figured later. But I mean, when I was there... but I can't even remember asking my mother what, why we're there. I guess I didn't really, I mean, I just took life as it came.

KL: I moved before first grade and I didn't ask my parents why. [Both laugh]

IT: Yeah.

KL: You know, when you're a kid you just kind of...

IT: You just go along with 'em. And I felt comfortable with them, so somewhere in between there, I was scared they were gonna split us.

KL: Did your relationship with your father change as a result of his stroke?

IT: Not really. But we were kind of cruel sometimes and said, "Speak English!" and he'd struggle. But no, he picked up enough to communicate with us, so, although I know, I felt sorry for him because he had to cook when we got out. He had -- oh, I was telling you, in camp, in Minidoka, when he got there, he went in the hospital train and then they made it seem like everybody had to have a job, so because he couldn't do much they gave him a job of checking in tools, work tools, and passing, checking them out. I think that's what he did. And my mom, I think she was a barber. But she was, I think she was pretty good, so some of the guys said to her, "We'll pay you. Would you cut our hair for us?" So she did that, in our house I think, and somebody reported her and told her she can't do that. [Laughs] So then she just quit.

KL: Did she cut hair in Puyallup at all?

IT: You know, I don't think they worked. But it seems like we had to do something, I mean they, the adults. I really don't remember. 'Cause she wasn't -- well, I was going to say she wasn't at home all the time, but I don't remember too much of what happened in Puyallup.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: Do you recall the, you've mentioned the trip to Minidoka a couple of times, so of course you do recall it. What can you tell us about leaving Puyallup and traveling to Minidoka?

IT: Well, it seems like we weren't told where we're going, but maybe they were and they didn't tell us. And then they had to pull down the shades, so we couldn't even see out, because people hated us and they were afraid, I think, what they might do as we were going. I don't know, but we had to pull down the shades, and in that book it said so, too. Then when...

KL: Were you, so you were separate from your parents on that trip?

IT: Well, they were in the hospital train, but I wasn't afraid then. I don't know why I was so sensitive about it. It could be that, well, I'm not sure, but my mom used to take us, they used to have a theater in Minidoka, they showed Japanese films. And all the films that she took us to -- or I don't know if she took all three of us, but I went with her -- they had kids, it was in Japan, they were Japanese films, and something like that might've happened, I don't know, and maybe that frightened me. But I sure didn't want to go to Japan when I saw some of those films, because it just seemed kind of insecure, and I think they had, they could've had, well, I don't know if they even showed one with earthquakes, but something sad about the little kid. And I don't know, I probably put some truth to that, seeing the film. It could've been that.

KL: I just want to make sure this is actually counting -- yeah, it looks like it is. Your mother was in the hospital car on the train also.

IT: Yes.

KL: Was her health worse than usual? Had something changed with her health?

IT: I don't remember about that, but I do remember in Minidoka, about three times, she was in the hospital with a bad heart. And my dad would come home crying, saying, "I think she's gonna die." And she didn't, but I guess she looked pretty sad and he thought this is it. Maybe that had something to do with it, because at that point he couldn't do too much 'cause he had that stroke, and then my mom being the one that was the bread-- well, in camp, though, you couldn't tell that. Well, just to see my dad crying and he was so sad because he thought she was going to die. So, see, he was able to get around, so he wasn't, well, I'm glad he wasn't that bad.

KL: How would you characterize their relationship at that point?

IT: How would I what?

KL: How would you characterize your parents' relationship at that, at that point in Minidoka?

IT: Seemed the same as ever. I used to ask, my mother's very strong-minded and after she died I asked my dad, "Why do you always give in to her? Or if you didn't believe it or something?" And he'd say he doesn't want that trouble. He meant confrontation and just, so he said he just kind of went along with her. But they --

KL: Figured bigger struggles, right?

IT: Yeah, but they got along, but I keep wondering, sex-wise, I think it ended fast, because I slept with my mother when, after the war, and I don't know if he slept with the brother. Later I was sleeping with my sister, but for some reason I remember sleeping with my mother and she telling me a lot of things. But then I did sleep with my sister, so I'm not sure what the situation was. But when we got back, she'd come home about ten o'clock at night, and then we'd go to school the next day and then she must've gone to the shop maybe nine, but she'd go by bus. But those people, she found a little niche in Chinatown, and those guys, I think a lot of them were Filipinos, they'd call her Mary. But anyway, my mom says that they'd come by, I guess they respected her, they liked her, so they would sit around, keep her company, almost like protection. And then there was a Japanese guy that, I think his wife had passed on, but every night he would go, bring my mom home by bus, and then my mom, we had nothing to serve, so she would, I remembered, serve him coffee or tea with buttered toast and then he'd take off and go back by bus. And he lived in, I think he lived in Chinatown, I'm not sure. And I think my dad was not too happy about it, but my, I know my mom's made a comment to me saying that it's just, "He's protecting me, it's nothing." So I think my mom and dad didn't have any disagreements, I mean, 'cause he was always willing to go along with her. [Laughs] But when my, I do remember my mom telling me that her doctor told her that she would die soon if she didn't quit work, because her heart's so bad.

KL: This was after the, after camp.

IT: Yeah. And she said she thought about it, and my dad couldn't do anything, couldn't work or whatever because of the stroke, but at least it's guaranteed that he would live on, whereas she would cut her life short because she has to make the money. And she was not gonna get anything from the government 'cause she was mad at them for putting us in camp. So she knew she was gonna die soon, and she said, "At least you guys are still young yet. You have Dad around." And that's what happened. So we did have to go under welfare, which my sister could not accept. I felt so sorry for her because I kept saying to her, "It's not our fault. We were put in that situation." But of course, we got out of it as fast as I could get a job and support them. But she's so ashamed of it, 'cause that's how we felt. We do our own stuff. But I said, "We couldn't help it." So I'm, I accepted it, but we had to live in federal housing and get welfare help. Then they were gonna take my brother away, and that's, all that stuff. But anyway, I couldn't believe that they were doing all that, after they made us penniless and then, then draft him when he was a breadwinner. But they took him for two years to Germany, as soon as I graduated.

KL: Your mom seems to really, yeah, she does seem to have been very farsighted in kind of looking out. I mean, it sounds very deliberate, that she made deliberate choices of, about how to --

IT: Right. And she explained it to me, so I, she did tell me a lot of things here and there about camp that...

KL: Did she ever talk about medical care in Minidoka, what the hospital stays were like, what her impressions of the doctors were like?

IT: No. I do remember, I had a lot of troubles with eczema and my face was all broken out, but I was this type where I couldn't miss school, so somehow the principal called me in and said, "I want you to go see the doctor." [Laughs] And then I was kind of shy, I guess because of the way it was all over, that my mom was working and she said, "I'll take the bus and I'll meet you at the doctor's place." I was too shy. I ran down, way down, I don't know how many miles --

KL: This is back in Seattle? IT: Yeah.

KL: Okay.

IT: And I ran there to see the doctor, and she told me she had kidney problems. That's all she told me. And in the same waiting room was an allergist or whatever, so she took me to see him, and we couldn't afford anything 'cause we had no plans, medical plans. He gave me treatment with, I don't know if I paid anything at all or not, but for years I got shots.

KL: What was that clinic's name?

IT: What was his name?

KL: Yeah, the doctor or the clinic.

IT: The doctor, it was that medical/dental building, his name was Thomas Gerrety. And once I looked up his name and called, it was his son. I should've gone further, but I didn't know if this, his son would trust me. But I just wanted to thank him, to get me this far, and I invited him to our wedding, but he didn't come. I was a little bit disappointed, but I wondered if he go the invitation that I sent. So anyway, but he was a Catholic guy and he, I think he had a pretty big family, and his wife died and he married his nurse or receptionist or somebody in the office.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: You mentioned that he was Catholic and that reminded me, I wanted to ask you about Buddhist community in Minidoka. Did you continue to attend Buddhist church or any, any religious...

IT: Yeah, we had a church. You know, they took all the ministers before we even went to camp, because they were leaders in the community and they were afraid.

KL: What can you tell us about how that worked for your minister?

IT: Our minister was taken. The reason, well, I read about it in our church book, but his middle daughter is my best friend, so, and then I talked to her mother a lot, too, who was the same age as my mother. But they took him, according, I think, well, I knew that they had taken him to, I don't know if it was Crystal City or they moved him to Crystal City, I think they moved him, but they took all these men that were leaders in the community, which were priests and you know. So he was taken right away, away from his family and then, I think the family has seven kids. Anyway. I don't know who did the funeral for my, my grandmother in camp, because they took all the priests. It must've been somebody who knew a little bit more about Buddhism or something, I don't, or maybe they didn't have a regular service. But anyway, they took these guys and then I think he was moved to Crystal City and the first year, I think, the family moved to be with him, or something like that.

KL: What's his name?

IT: Ichikawa.

KL: Yeah, that would make sense.

IT: Something like that happened.

KL: I mean, [inaudible] was arrested and then moved around and then ended up in Crystal City.

IT: Right. He was, he was a head of the Buddhist church then, and before the war I remember he'd tell these stories with expression and all. Sometimes, I think sometimes it would be in Japanese, I don't understand, but it was fun listening to, watching him. They do now have reunions, and my girlfriend says they go sometimes.

KL: For Crystal City?

IT: Yeah.

KL: Did she tell you what it was like to have her father taken, how she felt or what she remembers about it?

IT: Not really, but... No, she never said too much. I asked her mother sometimes, once, when she came down to California to visit, then I talked to her a little bit. But she speaks Japanese and I speak English with a Japanese accent, so she thinks I'm speaking Japanese. It's so funny. She says she loves to talk to me because I speak Japanese. I don't speak Japanese. [Laughs]

KL: Communication's funny.

IT: Yeah, but I put on a little accent. And my mother-in-law was, from Hawaii, was like that, too. She says, "Ooh, your Japanese is getting better," she says in Japanese. And I, I could understand a little bit.

KL: So Reverend Ichikawa never came to Minidoka?

IT: No. I don't remember he coming. I think they kept him down there. And then, I do remember going to school -- well, maybe she wasn't in our class. Well, they took, they sent for the family, I remember. Then I met her again at Bailey-Gatzert. I think that's where they went.

KL: What do you remember about her leaving Minidoka?

IT: I don't remember when she left. And we became real good friends from junior high school, seventh grade.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: You said your grandmother died shortly after you arrived in Minidoka.

IT: Uh-huh.

KL: I mean to ask you what your memories of her in Puyallup are. Do you have any memories of her?

IT: Just that she was real strict and she was upset when we went to another church. That's about all I remember.

KL: How did her death affect you?

IT: Not really. I didn't know her that well.

KL: Do you remember her memorial service?

IT: I just remember we went to the church and, 'cause she had died. Well, I don't even know if it was a church then, but it was, I think it was, I don't know why, I think it's Block 13, I don't remember. And I think she's the one that, we put a, they gave me a flower to put on her, her casket. And in those days we had open caskets, I think. Nowadays they keep it closed, it seems. I don't know.

KL: I'm sorry, these are kind of hard questions to ask and I'm sure, in some cases, to answer, but what happened to her body? Was she buried at Minidoka?

IT: No.

KL: Or was she cremated?

IT: Buddhists usually cremate, yeah. When my mom died, we cremated her and we had her ashes in our house for quite a while. Then we buried her in her brother's place in Seattle. Well, this was in Seattle, and then when my brother bought a plot they transferred my mom's ashes. But my mom had a son, or my parents did, four years before my brother was born. I asked my aunt, well, it's four years to the date, so it was kind of interesting, but I asked her, "How come they waited so long?" or something. And I think she had, I don't know, they just couldn't hit it on the right day or something. He was born at home, and I think he was premature, but anyway, I think he lived a week. That's what I recall, but I don't know.

KL: Did you have your grandmother's ashes in your home in Minidoka?

IT: No, because in Japanese culture the first son takes care of things, and I think he probably took care of all that.

KL: I see. Did you have an altar in Minidoka, a household altar?

IT: I don't think so, no.

KL: Do you remember any other Buddhist holidays or services or anything about the church or the community in Minidoka?

IT: I don't remember. I'm sure we went to church, but I don't remember it. Not in Minidoka. I should have remembered it, but we did spend a lot of time in Seattle afterwards.

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

<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.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: Where was the school?

IT: It was in one of the blocks. We lived in Block 8, which had the most kids, which was fun. I don't know why I remember 13, we had a rec hall and I think, like, they taught piano lessons. Of course, I don't, I didn't take it, but they had a, they also had a little store that you could buy candy bars and little things.

KL: In Block 8?

IT: No, this was centrally located. Our whole camp was divided into two, up to Block 20, 20 or something, and then after 20-some, I remembered we used to go to I think 22 for our lessons in, what do you call, koto, the harp lessons.

KL: Who taught you koto?

IT: Her name was Nakashima or something like that.

KL: And where were the lessons?

IT: We had to walk through, there was a dirt path through the sagebrush and all, and it was in the second section of the camp. And we went to her place and she taught us koto, my sister and I, and my cousin. My cousin was same age as me. I still remember, we would bring out little nails and whatever you, you hit...

KL: A pick or something.

IT: Pick, yeah. My, we'd get almost home, then my cousin would say she lost it. We'd walk all the way back, looking, couldn't find it, came back, it was in her sweater pocket. [Laughs] I remember that. And then my mother also had me take flower arrangement lessons. I think I was in the second grade, and I hated it because everybody spoke Japanese and I didn't speak Japanese, I didn't understand it. And just to be with all these old ladies, it was not fun for a second grader, you know? But what was interesting -- oh, and we also, my sister and I took tea ceremony lessons. She was gonna make us ladies. [Laughs] Anyway, we used to demonstrate, and I don't know if we were the only two kids, or maybe there might've been, but we would put on these demonstrations or recitals or whatever, and there's a certain way of folding the napkins and stirring it and all, and then you would say something in Japanese, "Please help yourself," or "Would you like this and that?" One day they started laughing, and of course we don't know what we're saying, and so I asked my mother, "How come they laugh?" Says because I, when I was serving, I gave the answer and she gave the question after I gave the answer. But what this teacher would do is put cocoa and sugar and that's what she'd do for the kids. Well, when my mother died she offered my sister and I free lessons, and I think she was also the flower arrangement teacher, so take a pick, tea or flower arrangement. We didn't either of 'em, so we didn't take any. [Laughs] But that was her way of, she was, my mother was, I guess she liked my mother as a student maybe. I don't know, something, there was some closeness there, so she offered us free lessons.

KL: What was her name?

IT: Otani. I think that was her name.

KL: O-T-A-N-I?

IT: Yeah.

KL: So the lessons were intergenerational, the cultural lessons like the tea ceremony and the flower arrangement?

IT: Actually, it was for adults, but my mom had us taking lessons. Tea ceremony, there might've been other kids, but I still remember we were the only ones who were performing, so it was like a recital. I don't think there were people taking tea lessons. The flower arrangement, she didn't even put my sister in it. She put me in it, and I hated it. What, the koto lessons, I remember taking those until she said we had to sing. And that was it, I didn't want it anymore. [Laughs] But that was near the end.

KL: Did your mother already have, your mother took the tea ceremony and the flower arranging classes, too?

IT: Yeah.

KL: Did she already have skills in those areas, or was that a new endeavor for her?

IT: I think she knew how to play the koto, because, you know. And we weren't good enough to read anything, we just memorized. But she always liked things like flower arrangement and things, and when we came back from camp, when I was like twelve -- I came back, yeah, like sixth grade or something -- she sent me to a Japanese lady to learn how to sew, 'cause I was supposed to learn all these womanly things. [Laughs] But my sister didn't go.

KL: You said you had two kotos with you in Minidoka?

IT: Yeah. I don't know how that -- it had to be in Minidoka, yeah -- I don't know how we got it there. I have no idea, but I remembered when they came and busted, they really busted in the door. There were cracks in the, the wood where the door was. The way they took my mother, it was scary. We didn't know where they were taking her. They just grabbed her and took her. Then, I don't know where we went, but we had to come back and pick up something, then they took us to the hospital to stay, and they had a crew that came in and packed our stuff. We didn't know what had happened, that's when the kotos left. So we don't even know if they really had it, because they could've taken it, too, the people who packed and all. But she, they wrote a letter to her saying they have it in the warehouse and, "So come and claim it. And if you don't by such-and-such date," I don't know if they're gonna auction it off or whatever. Well my mom was so mad at the government, so we never, she never looked into it. And I thought those harps are pretty precious, but of course I didn't want to take any more lessons and my sister didn't either.

KL: Did your brother take any special lessons, or --

IT: No.

KL: What did he do with his time?

IT: You know, I don't remember. Because we were, in Minidoka we were in the block with the most kids, out of forty-four blocks, we always were busy playing.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Was there anything else that defined your block? You know, a lot of blocks, like in Manzanar it'll be, this is the Venice block or this is the bachelors' block or --

IT: No.

KL: Or this is the, this block is loud, this block is quiet.

IT: Yeah, it was the most kids, and I remembered this guy, one of the fathers, built a big, big swing, and it's like, I don't know if it was a log or what, but it was one swing and everybody got on. I'm not sure how it worked, but I just felt like we're so lucky because we have the most kids. And I used to gather the kids and we would do exhibits and, for our parents, and we would do programs. Of course, we didn't know how to do anything, but we just, like we thought we were tapping, we were just shuffling our feet. [Laughs]

KL: And you were the organizer?

IT: Yeah.

KL: That's awesome. I like that.

IT: And then for crafts, we'd get toilet paper squares and trace something and show that. I mean, it was stupid, but our parents came. And then we bought little candy bars, cut them up, wrapped them up, and we gave that for refreshments or something. And I still remember getting, I don't know what you call those fish, minnow or something, from the... what do you call those, where the water is, but it's...

KL: A drainage ditch?

IT: No, it's something, canal or, well, I don't know what you call it. Anyway, water's dangerous there, it rushes, but we caught this little fish and that was my fish, and I remember it died, so I buried it and made a cross because that's what I see in all the movies. And then I acted like the priest and [holds hands up as if praying], and so here's a Buddhist and the cross, Christian. [Laughs] But I remember doing that, and then I remember, too, going to the canal or whatever you call it, my brother was going to teach me how to swim or something. So he told me to lay out like that with my face in the water and he'd hang onto me. I started sinking, and I thought I was drowning. I couldn't believe it, but I remember thinking, opening my eyes, seeing the blue water and the bubbles, and I said to myself, "Goodbye, sweet world." So dramatic. [Laughs]

KL: Did you read Shakespeare in the library?

IT: Not really, but it's just funny some of the things you do, you know? [Laughs]

KL: Well, I think there were a couple drownings at Minidoka.

IT: Yeah.

KL: Do you remember, I mean, you said the water was dangerous, did you get cautioned about that? Or was it --

IT: No, and they had rattlesnakes too, I remember. I think my brother saw one. But I had a friend that, the mother committed suicide, and I remembered as a child I didn't understand that and I asked my mother. Anyway, I guess she was quite sickly, but my mother said, "That's no excuse." You learn a lot.

KL: What happened to your friend whose mother it was? Did she just stay with her father?

IT: Yeah, she, and I think she had older sisters or something. Yeah, she's still living.

KL: Did your mother give you anymore kind of explanation of that situation?

IT: No. It, it's, well, I was, my grandson is very intellectual, smart, he's eight now, and I've been trying to teach him how to play with a string. I can't recall all those years, but I said, "We used to make up games." And I thought that was created in Japan, so they had an au pair that was from Japan, and she didn't know anything about it. In fact, she didn't anything about us being taken into the camps, so she asked to read the books I had, 'cause she thought it was so interesting. Anyway, my grandson just loves to do, make things with string, and we used to just entertain ourselves like that. Then when I, my first year teaching they asked me to do a workshop on rainy day activities. And I couldn't, I could remember doing those kind of things. It didn't cost anything, you just get string, tie a knot. So now I think they were very creative in camp, and it's amazing how, what they did. They built that farm there and grew --

KL: Did you go out on farmland at all while you were there?

IT: No, but I saw, I think I saw it. But we didn't have any transportation either, so it was, I don't know, I can't remember how I got to see it. But we also had, which was kind of funny -- well, I shouldn't say funny -- we had heroes coming in from the war to our schools and everything, and somebody who shot down so many planes and all this. But then they're not supposed to have, what do you call that, radio, shortwave radio, and I think some people did. But they just wanted to know what was happening, but I guess they were afraid we were gonna do, connect with Japan or something, I don't know.

KL: Yeah, I didn't understand when I started working at Manzanar that radio used to be two-way a lot.

IT: Yeah, well, they --

KL: I mean, it's different than...

IT: Well, they just didn't trust us. And I couldn't believe it because, well, they didn't find any case of it either, but...

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

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: You said you had heroes come into school. Can you tell us some more about who those people were and what kind of reception they got from the kids or the adults, if you know?

IT: Well, they came to our school, we took a picture with them. It, that was it. We figured we were supposed to say, "Yay!" or whatever, and it just seemed funny because here we were in camp, and then it was a Japanese soldier, I mean American, Japanese American, that came in. and I also remember somebody on the radio -- at that time I think maybe we were able to use the radio, I'm not sure -- and about getting shot. He was in the hospital talking over the radio or the something, and he happened to be related to, by marriage, to one of my cousins. I never met him, but it just seemed kind of, a funny thing to do, or a strange thing to do after they put us in the camps.

KL: Do you remember the guy's name who came to your school? It was just one, one man by himself?

IT: One man, I think, earlier, and I don't, I had his name in my mind, but I'm losing it all.

KL: And he was a, he was in planes? You said he shot down, he was involved in shooting down planes.

IT: So many planes in the war, during the war. But they didn't keep too many Japanese Americans in the military.

KL: Yeah, there was a guy named Ben Kuroki --

IT: I think that's it. No... Kuroki...

KL: He was from Nebraska. He's very unusual.

IT: That name, I think that's the one.

KL: And he did go visit the camps, and I don't know if he was in Minidoka or not, but that'd be interesting to look into.

IT: He's, I don't think he was, he was put in there.

KL: Ben Kuroki was from Nebraska.

IT: Yeah, Nebraska they could stay there, because --

KL: He enlisted. He was never in a camp.

IT: It's inland, so they could stay there. But I think that's the name.

KL: Do you have the picture still?

IT: No. Well, did you know that we weren't supposed to have cameras? As little kids, we see, we might see a radio in the house or camera, and then you get scolded because you might be talking about it just without thinking, and we didn't know it was banned. But cameras were banned for a while, I think.

KL: But you saw people who had them?

IT: Yeah. I don't remember -- well, we were so poor, anyway, that we didn't have much of anything. But that's the reason why my mom refused to go back to Seattle. We're used to this life, we'll stay here. I remember she saying that to me, but she must've said it to them, too, and that's why they came after her. But, to me it was without warning, but she must've gotten warning. I don't know. But they took my dad without warning, and threw him in a cell. That's when my mom asked for the writ of habeas corpus, and I said, "How'd you know to ask for that? How do you know?" I don't, she never, I don't remember her answer. But of course, they just threw her in, they cared less. Then my dad, too, they came after him.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Would you, I keep putting this off 'cause I want to hear sort of a step by step detail --

IT: Okay.

KL: -- the account of your memory of it, but you've also given really amazing descriptions of, like your walks to the koto lessons and your kind of pranks in the school room and stuff.

KL: Are there other, other memories you have of Minidoka that are... like you mentioned hanging out by the, by the canals and going to see the Japanese movies. Where did you see the movies?

IT: Rec hall. They had one place where they showed movies. We saw Flash Gordon and those kind of movies.

KL: What was the rec hall like? What was the inside like?

IT: It's, you know the camp is, well, they have, I'm sure they have it at Manzanar, a model, and they have barracks that go this way. And I think it's similar to the ones we were living in, only it's the whole barrack, and they used that as a movie theater. So my mom used to go to a lot of Japanese movies. I don't know how often they showed it, but they were all sad, and so earlier, early on I sure didn't want to go. I was glad I wasn't living in Japan because everything was so sad and the kids, there were kids in the movie, and they must've been, they must've been separated or something. I don't know.

KL: You mentioned also your mom kind of giving you an allowance if you would go to breakfast.

IT: Yeah.

KL: What can you tell us about the mess hall and about meal times?

IT: Okay, we had to go to the mess hall, and it really, like mess hall food, it's, the bread was dry and, you know, the toast and all. We didn't like to get up to go. In fact, we didn't have a, what do you call, restroom in our house, we had to use pots. My mom used to -- well, I don't remember using one of those, but they, most families had a pot and they, they must've put a little bit of water in there and then they'd leave it overnight for anybody to use. And then in the morning they'd go and dump it in the toilets and come back with a fresh one. So the laundry room and the bath room and the showers, that's another thing, too, it was all open. And Japanese are really, they don't like to expose themselves that much, as I understand it. And I remember as a kid, taking a shower and looking at this woman and asked her if she had a baby. [Laughs] And now, well, then too, my mom was upset with me for saying that, but it's just a kid's curiosity. She had a [indicates a potbelly]. And I remembered we had, we had these scrub board things that we had to wash clothes there, and then on the side there was a door to the toilets. Well, somebody put a napkin in there, and whoever was cleaning it hangs it on the doorway for everybody to see, so that's a no-no.

KL: Like a sanitary napkin?

IT: Yeah. And of course I didn't know what that was, but my mother was so upset when she saw that, how disgusting. So the, with the barracks being on both sides and then there were two buildings in the middle, and one was the laundry and the bathroom and the shower, and then the other one was the mess hall. And we'd have to get in line and pick up our food and sit down. And my, I remembered, we used to go on picnics, my mom used to, or our family. So we'd get the dry toast, wrap it up in a napkin, and I don't know if it was my sister and I or my cousin and I, we walked up to the ad building where there was the only grass that we could find, and there was a mound, and right above the grass you could see the sentry with their guns, rifles or whatever, guarding us. And we'd sit there and we're gonna have our picnic. We needed something to drink. Well, we felt like we were stealing, but we went into the ad building, got that, you know that little cup with the water that you could get from the machine. We brought it out and we had that for our liquid, and we had a little picnic. [Laughs] But we were just kids and we just wanted a picnic, so we used to do that.

KL: What's the "ad" building?

IT: Administration building. Of course, those, well, I don't know who was working there, but it's just like offices here. So they had that in the hallway, and that's really fancy compared to what we have.

KL: You mentioned also the guards in the towers.

IT: Yeah.

KL: Did you, what are your memories associated with the guards or with the fence? Was that --

IT: That was the entry to our camp, I remember, or our side. I don't know if the upper side had it or not, on the other entry. But there was barbed wire fence all around and then there was this, I think it was a wooden structure. And they were up there making sure that we wouldn't escape or whatever. And of course, we really couldn't understand it, so we just went ahead and had our picnic. But I know that some sentry up there shot somebody in another camp. I think something about his dog or some, I don't know, anyway there were a couple accounts that I heard, read somewhere, that some people were shot.

KL: Did you get any caution from your parents or anyone else about --

IT: No.

KL: -- how to interact with that, or how to...

IT: No, and they didn't talk to us. But they had their fatigues on and they were, I think they were, what do you call rifles with the, seems like the...

KL: Bayonets.

IT: Bayonet on the end. We just ignored them and had our little picnic.

KL: You said that was the only lawn you could find. Do you remember any ornamental gardens, like stonework or ponds people built or anything?

IT: No. It was really desert, sagebrush. I remember my cousin getting a tick in her neck. Scorpions and desert type things. I don't remember, we, it was all dusty, and then winter was cold. And I don't think the barracks were finished.

KL: When you arrived?

IT: Yeah. Well, I don't think they finished it. That's why everything came through the cracks.

KL: You don't remember that changing ever. It was always...

IT: It was always like that. Once we got in there, that was it. Near the end my dad figured out how to trap jackrabbits and, with a wire coat hanger or something, and I remember him stripping it. And my mom, she had that burner, so she cooked rabbit. It was the first time I ate rabbit and it, to me it tasted like chicken. We thought, when they, everybody was moving out, we felt, well, we'll just have to go catch some rabbits. Then they turned off all the electricity, trying to get us to get out. I don't, we, my mother's stubborn and she, I just thought, "She's just gonna sit around and we'll just figure something out." Well, then they came in forcefully and grabbed her. Just scared the daylights out of me.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: This is Irene Tatsuta, tape number three, we're continuing an interview on October 13, 2014. And you had mentioned that you have memories, I think, of the, there was a leave clearance or a selective service form, sometimes it gets called the loyalty questionnaire in people's discussions of it in 1943, that was issued throughout the camps. Do you recall anything about that questionnaire?

IT: I just remember that there was a lot of discussion going on among the adults. And I wasn't quite sure what it was all about until I read about it as an adult. But what an unfair question it was, you know? And some people got sent back to Japan because they answered that they weren't going to -- you're supposed to denounce the government, Japanese government and take up the American government, but after they're treating us, by putting us in prison, what do you expect people to do? And so they call it no-no or something, and I really didn't quite understand it. 'Cause my mom was so upset. And so, and I remember she discussed that, I guess, with my dad and maybe with the neighbors, I don't know. But she thought something was really, and she just didn't trust the government. Because every turn, something, they did something to her or something. She really thought that Japan won the war at the end, because she thought the government was giving us lies. And she wanted to take us back to Japan, thinking we'd be treated fairly. Of course, the kids were all American. "We're not gonna go back to Japan," or to Japan. Of course, she didn't have the finances to take us, so we never went. I don't know, if she did, I don't know if we had to go because we were under their care, we were still juveniles. But we said, "No way."

KL: I wonder if she regretted ever, like in 1945, when you were still in Minidoka, if she regretted not having answered no-no.

IT: No, I don't know how she answered, but I remembered she thought what a stupid... whoever wrote it up didn't make sense. But I know there was a big discussion. That's all I know about that.

KL: People came in, I think about two thousand people came into Minidoka from Tule Lake, after that questionnaire shook out.

IT: Is that right?

KL: Do you remember a bunch of people coming in?

IT: I don't remember. No.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: I wondered if you would describe the inside of your barracks in Minidoka.

IT: I think, well, family of five, the two end ones, rooms, were small. They were for couples, I think. And then it seems like, I don't remember how many units there were, six maybe? I can't remember which ones we had, but we had a fairly big room. I think there was a little, like... I don't remember separate rooms, but I kind of remember a smaller room. But anyway, it was one big room and most people had to divide it with curtains. It seems like we had a side room, a smaller one, but it could've been, maybe no one was living there and we were able to use it. I'm not sure.

KL: Did your mom cut hair in your barrack?

IT: Not in the barrack. She tried, but she got caught. [Laughs] Yeah. So she... I just remember that one couch that was made, and now I think, I can't see my dad making it. Maybe my uncle helped. And then she had the, what do you call, this stove, the burner or whatever, one unit. And most of our tables were, like, boxes turned. But it seems like that was kind of on a counter. We didn't have counters and things. They had to build it, build it. So it could've been stacked up boxes or something.

KL: You, I feel okay asking this because you had mentioned that you think your parents' sexual relationship changed. Do you have a sense, I know you were a kid, but looking back as an adult at how people navigated sex in Minidoka --

IT: No.

KL: People are amazed sometimes that there were hundreds of babies born in Manzanar with a lack of privacy and stuff.

IT: Yeah.

KL: You don't have any sense for how people dealt with that under those circumstances?

IT: As an adult, later I, when I learned about the birds and the bees, I figured they must've waited 'til the kids went to sleep. But sometimes you do have older kids in the family. And then, because my dad was partially paralyzed, I mean, I didn't sleep with my mother in Minidoka. But I don't know how, you know. I have no idea if they had sex. But they didn't, in those days did they have, what do you, contraceptives? I mean, the pill and --

KL: Yeah.

IT: That came later, didn't it?

KL: Well, the pill came later, but --

IT: Yeah, they had some other means.

KL: I don't know a lot about it, but there were other...

IT: I wonder a lot, I wondered about it. I can't...

KL: Someone who was a kid in Manzanar said that they, either his parents or his friends' parents or someone, every afternoon would say, "Okay, we need to take a nap, so you need to go play outside now and be quiet." [IT laughs] And looking back on it, they were like, you know. So I just wondered if there was something like that that you remembered.

IT: I wonder, because... well, she wasn't supposed to have any more, probably after me, because she got sick. So I wondered if they had any form of stopping it. But I never did give it more than that thought.

KL: Any other people in Minidoka that's important to mention? You were talking off camera about an artist. Would you tell us...

IT: Oh, okay. I didn't know, I don't remember this artist, but I do remember the family, kind of. And the mother, the, okay, he's an artist and he's pretty well known, so they gave him space in the Smithsonian to have a display. At least that's what I understand. And the oldest son, or the oldest child is a son, and we, his name was Shox, I think that's a short, but he's a couple years or so older than I am. He called my sister and said for the display, when they put snapshots or whatever up, they had to identify each person. And we used to go on picnics with them because my mother, the both mothers were good friends, so my sister told me that if I ever go there I should look up this display. I did see some display there, but this happened after I went, so I never did go back and see anything.

KL: And his name was Tokita?

IT: Yeah.

KL: And you said he kept a journal, so about life before Minidoka.

IT: Somebody sent me a video of his father, or this artist, writing a journal about being taken into camp and his feelings, and it was really interesting 'cause it's the first of its kind that they published. And he knew how to express himself, so that was really interesting.

KL: Are there any other figures from Minidoka besides your parents and your aunt and uncle that you think are important to mention?

IT: I just, I still hang around with -- I shouldn't say hang around, well, kind of -- hang around with some of my classmates. But we're all dying off because we're all getting old. [Laughs] I don't remember too much of anything special that happened. I mean, that was the way we knew life.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: So what are your memories of people leaving Minidoka? You were, if not the last, among the last to leave. What do you remember about watching others go out of the camp during that...

IT: You know, that didn't, I guess that didn't bother me. Because I was with my parents, and like my auntie and Matsumotos, they went before. And everybody seemed happy to leave, except our family. And I just was gonna stick with my family. But in a sense it was good because when we were evicted and I had the dress I had on, nothing else, my cousin, who's the same age as I am, was already here, so she lent me some of her dresses. And of course it's real important to be educated with these Japanese parents, so we started school right away.

KL: Would you, we've kind of touched on it many times, but I wonder if you would just walk me through your memories of that so-called eviction.

IT: What happened?

KL: Yeah?

IT: Okay. Well, my mother probably was notified. I didn't know she was, she never said anything. But one day -- we had locks on our door. I don't even know who put them up there, but anyway, they really physically man-handled it and pushed it open, and they were, what, the wood was all shattered and all. And they walked in, and two big guys -- of course they're all big because we Japanese, most of us, are small -- they grabbed my mother's arms and walked her out to the car. And the kids and my dad were home; we walked out to see what was happening. We were just dumbfounded because everything happened so fast. They put her in the car and took off. We didn't know what happened to her. Then, I don't, I think we were outside or something -- anyway, they brought us back in, probably to pack a few things. Well, I don't think so, because I didn't remember having anything to carry. But we went back in, and that's when I saw my note. I was thanking my parents for taking care of me in camp because I was so scared that I'd be orphaned. And I put an Old Nick candy bar in there, wrapped it up. That was all torn apart and the Old Nick eaten. And this is when we got back, and I guess they had packed our stuff.

Well, they took the three kids and my dad to the hospital ward. We had to eat in the kitchen with the workers, and it was silent. They didn't, I guess they didn't know what to say. I guess because they were all not Japanese, they all left. I think. Yeah, I'm sure they'd left, because we were supposed to be the last ones. Then they told us where our room is, all four of us had a bed in the ward. And we turned off the lights and then about, I think it was around ten, but I'm not sure, they busted in the door. And this is the War Relocation Authorities. They look like FBI with the hat and the trench coats, but they were the War Relocation Authorities. And they just bust open the door, turn on the lights, and pointed to my dad and said, "Get dressed. We'll take you to see your wife." So he obediently got ready. They took him, and the three of us are sitting there wondering where they're going. Nobody tells us anything.

The next morning, they pick us, they picked the three of us up, and in the car they said, "We're gonna go pick your parents up." And they were at the Shoshone jail. So we go there, park, and this guy gives us quarters to try to get on the good side of us. We just threw it back to him because we were taught not to take money from strangers. Anyway, they went after my parents, and my mother comes out first, and I can't remember if it was two men or one, but she just looked awful, because she was sick, she was thrown in a cell. And she asked for the writ of habeas corpus, but they just threw her in, locked her up, and that was it. So I don't think they even gave her time to wash up. I mean, she looked awful. And then behind her comes my dad, and I'm sure he was escorted. My mother turned around and she was shocked to see my dad, so they didn't meet at all. So they both got in the car, and I remember the two guys that came after us, and I thought at that time I'd get even with them. Course I don't feel that now, but they gave my mother a hundred dollars and said, "You buy tickets to Seattle or we will put your kids in jail." Well, that did it. So they took us to the Shoshone depot -- I think it was Shoshone, and, I mean, wherever the depot is -- and she bought the tickets, we went back to Seattle. We had no idea what was gonna come of us. We just went back to Seattle.

Well, there were some Japanese American men that came to pick us up, and they took us to a hostel or whatever you call it. And I guess they had this program all set up, but we didn't know. It's at the, they use, they turned it, or maybe it was, a Japanese Methodist church in Seattle. And they had a balcony. The women slept up there, the men slept down below on cots. And it was a community kitchen, but you had to buy your own supplies. We had nothing. So my mom had to get sheets and all, and she got remnants, material, sewed it together, made sheets and then she had to send it to the laundry. And at that time she was mad because they charged her for a bedspread instead of a sheet because it was heavy material, I guess. But anyway, she had to get a job real quickly because we had no money and we had to buy food. Anyway, then that's when I met up with my cousin and she lent me some clothes so I could start school. But she had all kinds of jobs trying to support the family.

KL: Did your mother ever talk to you, maybe later, about her, and you kind of touched on this too, but did your mother ever talk to you about her reasoning for why she, or your father, stayed in place so long at Minidoka?

IT: I think, I think her reason was -- and I think this is what she told them, well, she told me that she was, that's her answer. "We're not leaving. We got used to this place. You've, you made us get rid of everything we own." Which wasn't the house, but still. "And we don't have money to start over. We're used to this place, we'll stay here." And it couldn't be because they had to close the camps. But they threw us in there, took everything away, or we had to get rid of 'em, so I could understand her reasoning. If I have nothing, well, I'm gonna stay here and camp it out kind of thing. We were thinking of, how are we going to live if they turn off the electricity, 'cause we were shocked they did that. But they were thinking of all methods to get us out.

KL: What was that night like for you three kids?

IT: Night life?

KL: That night, without your, when your mother had been taken and then your father was taken too.

IT: Well, I guess because we were together, I wasn't that afraid that we wouldn't see them, but I couldn't understand... I mean, everything was so fast, when they took my mother and they said they were gonna take him to see his mother, I mean his wife, so... I guess we just went to sleep. And then the next morning they came to get us. I guess we just felt we were gonna see our parents. But I had no idea they were gonna put her in jail. And then they pick him up and put him in jail, too. It just didn't... and he had a stroke and all, he couldn't do anything. And my mother being so sickly, although she was outspoken and she was sickly too, but it's a good thing nothing happened to her. The government would've been in big trouble. But maybe not for us, because we weren't free.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

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.

<Begin Segment 26>

KL: I'd love to ask you, like, three hours' worth of specific questions about the years immediately after Minidoka and your adult life, but I can't. So I'll ask you if you would kind of walk us through what the years were like right after you came back to Seattle, sort of significant events in them and how you felt about the events. And then also kind of the same thing for your adult life, where, how you've ended up here in Laguna Woods, really significant parts of your adult life. So starting with Seattle and the return from Minidoka, what stand out about those next, like, five years?

IT: Well, Seattle, we, I went to junior high school. Bailey Gatzert, we finished that, then we went to Washington Junior High, and we were all, most of us, I'm sure, were good students. Although we did our little pranks. [Laughs] We used to do a few little pranks to teachers. Then we went to Garfield High School. And I just remembered how, well, at Garfield they had the people from the, I guess they're wealthier, from the gated community and all. But the kids were, from there, were very nice to us. Course, they led the school and everything, and we just went along. But I think there I just felt we were, we were right before the blacks, because they pushed down the blacks and I always felt for them because I know how it feels. And so we were one step ahead of them, and people, real estate didn't want to sell to us because they figured right after the Japanese come in, then the blacks come in. Housing was quite segregated, and I knew a, I met, one of my classmates was a black girl who spoke beautifully. You couldn't detect any black background or anything in her. And she called one of the newspapers, or maybe it was a realtor -- anyway, they didn't know she was black and she was trying to sell -- oh, I know, she was working for the school paper, I think, and so she tried this and, to see if she could get a house. And then let them know she was black, of course she couldn't get a house. So she just wanted material to write about. Anyway...

KL: What was her name? Do you remember?

IT: [Shakes head] Cute, pretty girl.

KL: Your high school was Garfield?

IT: Yeah.

KL: Were there ever any tensions between Japanese Americans returning to Seattle and black people who had maybe moved into some of the neighborhoods?

IT: No, because, well, they wouldn't let the Japanese -- I was teaching third grade my first year, okay? And we still --

KL: So this is in the '50s.

IT: Yeah, I graduated '57. They, I had, I was teaching in a black area, and the Japanese consulate or whatever, vice, I guess he was a vice-consulate or something, his child, they had to live in the black community because they wouldn't let Japanese anywhere else. Can you imagine someone like up there in the country that, you'd think that they'd get better housing. But he, the little, the boy was in my class, and I just thought, man, this is pretty bad. But I did enjoy teaching there, but I, it doesn't bother me. I like teaching the underprivileged because I feel like I could understand them and they are sweet.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: When did you leave the hostel, and how did you find housing, your family?

IT: I don't remember, but we left as fast as we could, because, well, I guess they encouraged it, too. And then being the last family out, we're probably holding them back from closing up. I don't know.

KL: So it was like a couple of weeks, or was it longer?

IT: You know, I don't remember. But I know my mom just tried everywhere to get a job. And she got one. I mean, jobs were there, but she had to work at places where, like the first job she had was with a, stuffing toys, it was factory-like stuff. She's allergic to that [inaudible] thing that they stuff it with. But she took it because she needed a job. And then she went to the hospital, she was a maid, then found out that they do have a barber coming in to cut the patients' hair, so she tried for that and got that job. Then somehow she got this little place in Chinatown. It was just a little, little room kind of in the lobby, and so she set up shop there. But everything was by bus.

KL: You said people in Chinatown treated her okay?

IT: Yeah.

KL: There wasn't a problem?

IT: It was, it kind of scared me because they had gambling and all that kind of stuff down there. But they liked the way she cut hair, and I think they were the Filipinos that, they called her Mary, and I figure it's because they're, most of them are Catholics, but I don't know, I'm just guessing. But they would sit around and just keep her company or kind of in a protective way. And she tells me, and they'd bring her cakes and stuff like that. Then she had a friend that came home with her, brought her home by bus and she got home like 10 pm. So my sister was already, she was younger than I was, so she was already sleeping, so she rarely saw her mother. So I felt like I was a mother and a sister to my sister, 'cause I really kind of looked after her.

KL: Did your father stay home, then, pretty much, during the day?

IT: Yeah, he had to cook, and then because we had no money he had to cook, he made things like wieners and always rice, and he made, or hamburgers 'cause you could buy it for a dollar for the family, for the day. This really makes me laugh, but he made potato salad and his potato salad was, he boils the potatoes, peels it, cuts them up, or slices them, and mixes it with mayonnaise. And that was what we were supposed to eat with the rice. So all of us [holds arms out to indicate gaining weight, laughs]. But we didn't know anything about nutrition. And then my mom had, was supposed to stay off of salt, so she got some kind of liquid salt, I remember. She was supposed to eat meat. Well, we couldn't afford the good steaks, so she got pork steaks, and she ate that. But it probably had something to do with the kidneys or blood pressure or something. I don't know. But he didn't like staying home, tried to work, but he always ended up sick. So we couldn't afford the doctor, so we told him not to work anymore.

KL: What about your brother? You were talking off camera a little bit about how his and your and your family's lives were kind of intertwined. When you were about eighteen, with military service and supporting, financial support.

IT: When I turned eighteen, ready to graduate from high school, they were going to, they were going to draft him because the draft was still working, and send him to Germany. I don't know why they already had Germany planned, but it seems like we knew that. And then my uncle who was in the 442, he went to the draft board and said, "Please don't take him. He's the breadwinner." And of course, being a woman, I wouldn't get a good job anyway. But I had a chance to go to college 'cause I had a couple scholarships and I couldn't go otherwise, because we don't have any money. "So let him stay until she graduates." So they made it clear that I have to start bringing in the bacon when I graduate, and I wanted to be a teacher, so that's what they said. And they said I also have to send in my grades every time, to make sure that I'm gonna graduate, I guess. So right after I graduated they took him for two years and sent him to Germany. And I desperately was looking for a cheap housing for, and there were rats and things. Oh my goodness. But I taught with this teacher who just, they just built a home next door and their old home was, she said, "I'll rent it to you." And she said she'll give me the price, the low price that I'm looking for. And that was up in, no, I can't remember the name of it. Baker or something. It's a good area, residential area. So my sister, my dad and I moved in there. But I had no money, so my girlfriend would say, "You should put drapes up." I said, "I don't have money to buy drapes." It was, people just don't understand when we don't have money, even friends, they would, Japanese friends, you would think that they would. But then one gal even said to me, "You should take your dad places." I couldn't afford to give him, I mean I gave him some money from my check, we would separate everything and give him some money for the month. But I'd have no money for myself. And so every last week of the month we would eat pancakes for dinner because we had no money. But we survived. Then after my sister, she was in the same field in college, two years later she graduated, so we both saved like a hundred dollars each, 'cause we're used to scrimping. We know how to do that. And after a year we sent my dad back to Japan for a visit. And poor guy, he wanted to bring back a wife, but I couldn't get him under insurance, medical insurance. And I said, what if she gets sick? So I felt sorry for him, but, 'cause he's lonesome. He, they said he lived longer as a single man, without a wife, than with my mom.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: And you said your mom died when you were fourteen?

IT: Yeah, and she was forty-one. So yeah, that was pretty young.

KL: Your dad did marry in Japan, or he just wanted a wife?

IT: No, he, I don't know if he wrote us, anyway, he -- yeah, he must've written to us 'cause he can't use the phone. We don't have that much money. And he asked if he could bring back a wife. It broke my heart, but I said no, because what if she gets sick. We can't even get you under insurance. What are we gonna do? And he understood, but I felt sorry for him because he was so lonesome. And there were people that tried to fix him up right after my mom died. well, that was hard for the kids to take, 'cause we didn't want anybody replacing her, at least not right away like that. So anyway, we didn't know if she was, if she would've been capable of earning her, earning her living and his. It'd be fine, but you never know what's gonna come up.

KL: So he came back...

IT: He came back. He came back after thirty days, and we asked him, "Why didn't stay longer?" 'Cause it was the first time we felt kind of like we were on vacation. But he was very cooperative. Poor guy, though, you know. That stroke just took his life away. But that's the way it goes.

KL: You said he became a U.S. citizen?

IT: Yeah, he became a naturalized citizen. He went to, I think Edison, at night, or... he didn't drive, so I don't know. Anyway, he went to class.

KL: Did he ever communicate to you why he did that, or his thoughts about that?

IT: Well, I think he, you mean to become a citizen? Well, I think he wanted to be because we were all Americans, and I think before he couldn't do that. I don't know about the laws, I can't keep up with it. But when he was able to, and of course it takes him a long time to learn all that stuff because of his stroke and all. And I think, I don't know, but I figured they might go easy on him a little bit because... I don't know. But he got a lot of his speech back, and a lot of it was on his own, his own work or doing. 'Cause they had no therapy in those days. But then, my mom died of a stroke, which was, her stroke, I think she was unconscious, and I think I saw her in the hospital and I, it was different from my dad's stroke. But she knew it all along, and she made me understand why she was doing it, 'cause she didn't want to get welfare.

KL: She sounds like an amazing person. And your dad does, too. Anyways, the closeness and sort of the, I don't know, the, how to describe it. You said earlier that a lot of people liked being around him because he was just a, brought, kind of, cheer to people.

IT: He was. It's cute the way he walks and, "Hi!" [waves, laughs]. And they call him Teddy, "Hi, Teddy!" He used to love to bowl. But this was after his stroke. Before the stroke he'd golf, he was a champion doubles tennis player in his club, which meant he was pretty fast. And he loved to go fishing, just all kinds of sports, golf.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: I was saying, you've already talked some about, you were saying you felt some empathy towards your students who had struggles, economic struggles or racial struggles, because of your experiences. But I just wondered if there were other sort of, you know, real significant moments in your teaching career, or things that you thought were important to record about your work as an adult, in this recording. And also if there's things you want to share about, about family or just other parts of your adult life that you wanted to be recorded.

IT: Well, we been... what was I gonna say? Okay, when I was teaching fourth grade, there was a little paragraph in the social studies book that said about the camps. So I told them a little bit more, about my experience, and I had this boy in my class who looked me up later. He said, "How could you stand there and smile and tell us about how you were treated?" And so I gave him the reason that I talked to you about that, because I'm speaking, or I feel an American, as an American first. And I don't feel like I'm holding any grudges. I think, well, I wouldn't have wanted camp to make me a better person, but that's what happened, I think. And I found some real close friends through it. But I think America has given me a lot of chances to move up, and I was just so happy when I felt like I got out of the rut that I was in, because when my mother was sick and then my dad couldn't work and I thought, and I need, for instance, a car. I couldn't save the money because, well, this was before I wanted a car to go to work, but anyway, I kept thinking, how can I save? Because then they get sick and then the money's spent. But with the help I got from scholarships, and I did have really understanding teachers. I got encouraged by them, too. I just, I just felt so American that I feel like I'm an American first. And I said, I say to my friends, and I don't think too many friends think this way, that went to camp, but I think of the camp incident as an American, thinking that was such a stupid move, that was inhumane, and I'm ashamed that America did that. But I don't feel any grudges. It's, to me it's kind of water under the bridge -- although it really wrecked our family, so to speak. But life goes on.

KL: What was your student's response?

IT: He just couldn't believe that I looked so happy up there telling them about the experience and teaching, and he remembered me for that more than anything. And when I was substituting a teacher, or he mentioned to the kindergarten teacher that his boy was in that, who was Japanese and she was younger, she's younger, he said, "Oh, I had a Japanese teacher that I really liked." And so that's how we met. She gave, she called me and you know. So they took me out to dinner, I met his wife, and he's Polish and Korean, and then he met this Japanese girl that he chased to Japan, married her. But the sad part is he had a heart attack and died a few years ago. But he said to me, "Oh my gosh, if I knew how happy I could've made you earlier and looked you up," because not too many kids, especially in the type of classes that I, type of kids that I teach, they don't look teachers up usually. And so when he took me out to dinner and we were talking, she says, he says, "I want you to meet my sister and I want her, you to tell her all this stuff." I mean, he was, and so finally I said to him, "You mean I didn't teach you anything about reading?" [Laughs] But those are the thrills.

And then I have another gal that I told you was a, she became a forest ranger, but I think she, I think that was a part-time job. I'm not sure if she's an architect now or... real smart. I have a few, and I can't remember all the kids I had, but I used to remember every single teacher I had. Now I don't know.

KL: I remember a lot of mine. Some of what you're saying about your, your sort of looking back at the camp experience as an American and taking thoughts, and reacting as an American, reminds me of what I've heard some people who were involved in the redress movement say, about the meaning, the reasoning and the meaning for pursuing that.

IT: Yeah.

KL: Do you remember the campaign for Japanese American redress and what, what were your thoughts? Were you involved, did you see any testimonies in the '80s?

IT: Yeah, and I can't remember where or how I saw them, but... maybe I heard somebody speak about it. And they, at first I didn't know how to take it because I thought, well, you can't bring it back. But whoever was speaking and was involved said, "That's the way to hit the people, is their pocketbook." So they should, we should ask for some, whatever you call it, money for being in the camps. I thought, gee, this comes so late. It's my parents that really suffered, but I just hope that it doesn't happen again. That, when I think about it, it just gets, I mean, as I get older I, there's more thought that goes into different thoughts, deeper thoughts, and I think gosh, what a big mistake. But I still don't hold any grudges. I mean, it's, to me it's, what can you do? There's some people bitter, but you're gonna be bitter all your life.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

KL: This is tape four. We're just gonna wrap up an interview on October the 13th, 2014, with Irene Tatsuta. And I wanted to ask you, you have children, I think, and I wondered if you'd introduce us to who they are and, and if you've ever discussed your experiences during World War II with them and what their thoughts are about them, their reactions.

IT: Right. Well, my, let's see, my first one is Cindy, and she became a specialist in dentistry, root canal. I forgot what it's called already. And she is married to Matt Okui, and his father is the curator of Manzanar and he and his wife both used to be teachers. We're about the same age.

KL: I had forgotten that connection to Mas Okui. He's done, I don't know that he was ever the curator, but that he's done so much as a spokesperson and is included in our film and was a very early advocate. I've seen videotapes of him from like 1992 walking around the site and telling his sto ry, just has been so involved. I forgot that.

IT: Yes, and he has been on TV being interviewed, I think 60 Minutes, I'm not sure. But anyway, I think he was on, well, maybe he wasn't, but they had one on Manzanar and the kids, the orphanage. And I didn't know they had that until I saw that. They called him to, they did something, they had a display or something where the Statue of Liberty is and he took a trip there and he had to give some advice or something. Anyway, but I haven't been to Manzanar yet.

KL: I hope you come sometime.

IT: Yeah, I'd like to go. And I'd like to go see the camp I was in, in Idaho, but I don't know whether, when I'll ever go up there, because my family's gone from Seattle now. So she has two kids, so I have a boy and a girl from her, grandkids. And then my son, he graduated from West Point and he did very well. And he has, this is kind of, he married a girl from Taiwan -- and what a smart girl -- and they have two smart kids, boys, full of, full of activity. And they think Grandma still could run. [Laughs]

KL: That's good. [Laughs]

IT: I spend a lot of my time with the grandkids, or I look forward to seeing them and cooking for them or whatever.

KL: Have you had conversations with your kids ever about this aspect of your background? What are their, or have they shared with you any thoughts that they have about your World War II experiences?

IT: Well, you know, I like to read about those days. My son asked me, I think when he was going to school or something, and he went for his Master's, so I think it was then, but he doesn't say too much. But my daughter is exposed to this camp thing, and she's the one who told me to write in and that's how you got my name, I think. So I think she's more interested the older she gets. But she's getting old now. [Laughs]

KL: Please thank her for me, for suggesting that you write that.

IT: I will.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

KL: We were talking as I was walking up about your love for National Park Service units and some of the places you've been, and I, so National Park Service, Manzanar National Historic Site was authorized in the '90s and the National Park Service has owned that land and managed it since the late '90s, and also the National Park Service manages Minidoka. And I wonder what you -- and you've never to them, so I wonder what you kind of would like to see at those sites. What, how would you guide the National Park Service in managing those sites and talking to visitors about what went on there? It's a big question, but...

IT: It's kind of hard for me to visualize what's there now, 'cause I haven't even been to Manzanar and I hope to see that. I think one of my kids will take me for a drive over there. I'd like to see Idaho, where I was. Oh, on one of my trips, I think it was, I went to see the hot air balloon, and they said our hotel was located where they had the Japanese Americans in the camp. And I can't remember which --

KL: In Santa Fe?

IT: Yeah. No, wait now... well, I can't remember where it was. I mean, it was... I can't remember the --

KL: Somewhere in Idaho, or is it in New Mexico?

IT: No, this one, this one, remember I was telling you about Crystal City and --

KL: Oh yeah, in Texas.

IT: 'Kay, it wasn't Texas, though.

KL: I know Albuquerque.

IT: It was the camp you went to first. Yeah, there.

KL: Albuquerque?

IT: Do you know the name of the camp?

KL: No, there were camps in Moab and Leupp, and there was a detention center in Santa Fe in New Mexico. But it might just be that I don't what...

IT: Okay, it could be Santa Fe. Well, it was, we were in New Mexico, or where the hot air balloon is, Albuquerque.

KL: Yeah.

IT: Around there. And they said that's where the camp was, so then I asked the tour guide about what camp was there, and they didn't know much about it. But anyway, it just surprised me how the land they picked was desert, I mean not much, and I was so proud of the people that made our camp livable. I couldn't believe the farmland and, it was not land to be farmed, but they made it into farmland and grew the crops and, I just couldn't believe how they built a city, or whatever you want to call, community, out of nothing, you know? It the land was, or the weather or whatever, was pretty bad. Of course, we'd just get used to it 'cause we were stuck there anyway.

KL: That was gonna be my last question, is, in fifty years, a hundred years, if people go to Minidoka and visit, what do you want them to know or remember about that place? But maybe that's part of an answer.

IT: Yeah. I just don't want America to make that mistake again. That was so sad. And we all came out with different experiences, so a lot of my friends can't talk about it yet. But I'm blabbing away because I want people to know that was history and that's what happened in our country, that I still am an American and I plan to die one. [Laughs]

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

KL: Well, I really appreciate your willingness to, as you put it, blab on, but to talk to me about it today. Are there things that I left out that you kind of expected or wanted to talk about?

IT: No. We covered quite a bit. [Laughs]

KL: We did, yeah.

IT: Yeah, things, as I, people send me videos and things about camp, which I like to see, and I usually learn something from them. And I, the one they had about the 442 guys, it breaks my heart. And that was when my son was in, at West Point, when I got the video, and they were about the same age he was. And I kept thinking, those young guys sacrificed their lives to show America that we were citizens. I mean, it really hurt me, but that's what happens. You have to, we had to prove that we were -- well, we didn't have to, but that's how it turned out. So I feel for those guys, and I think about them often, grateful to our military 'cause those guys are young and they're saving, they're really saving our freedoms.

KL: The legacy of people's decision to go into the 442nd is still really active. Sometimes people will come to Manzanar and they'll just be talking to me kind of calmly, and then they'll start to talk about the 442nd and they'll lose it emotionally. It still has a lot of power for people.

IT: Yeah. It hurts, it hurt more because when I realized that they were the same age as my son when he graduated from high school, I thought gosh, they're babies. I mean, you know? And they just grew up like that and helped us out. And some of their parents are in camp. So that, a lot happened in those three years. Then I start thinking about the Indians and the blacks and how unfair life has been to them. Anyway, in a way we're coming out of it, and still there's other things cropping up, so I guess that's life. But I'm still happy to be an American. You know? [Laughs] And I do love the national parks, oh my gosh.

KL: I'm glad. I hope you do come to Manzanar, and let me know beforehand. It would be great to meet up with you guys and show you around the first time. At least say hi and stuff.

IT: Good.

KL: Well, I think I'll turn, turn this off, unless there's anything you want to add.

IT: No, that's it. Well, thank you so much.

KL: Thank you so much.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.