Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Eiko Yamaichi Interview
Narrator: Eiko Yamaichi
Interviewers: Larisa Proulx, Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: San Jose, California
Date: July 15, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-yeiko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

LP: We're doing an oral history interview with Eiko Yamaichi. Present in the room is Larisa Proulx, Park Service staff at the Tule Lake Unit, and Kristen Luetkemeier, park staff at Manzanar. And Eiko, do I have your permission to record this interview and for the Park Service to retain it and use it for educational purposes?

EY: [Nods].

LP: Okay. Can we start off by talking a little bit about when and where you were born?

EY: Where I was born?

LP: Yeah.

KY: I was born in Seattle, Washington, and I went to school there 'til I was in the fourth grade. And during that time, Depression happened, 1933 and on. And my father lost his position, he was the produce clerk. And he was working for a Japanese family on Jackson Street, and he lost his job, so in order to keep a roof over our head and feed us, why, he said he'd have to look for another job. So he did find one as a lumber sorter up in Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, and already there were quite a few Japanese men working and their families were housed in what was like a barrack, somewhat like the camp barracks, only that it was sectioned off to be like an apartment. And because my folks were poor, we just had bare walls for a long time, and my father decided that, gee, we should do something. So every month, the lumber, I guess is must be an association, made a booklet, and the pages were real stark white, and had fine black printing on it, and it was like a form of Reader's Digest, and it was bound by string. In those days, they didn't have staples. So my father said, "Well, let's start collecting that from all those people who looked at it casually anyway and threw it away." So he went around asking the neighbors if they would just give that up if they wanted to. So accumulated quite a few of those booklets, and we had enough so my father said, "Why don't we just undo that and use the pages as a wallpaper?" So my job was to take the string off and stack it up, and then my father made a paste out of rice and squashed it off and mixed it with water. Then we started pasting one end through, then it was a wallpaper. But anyway, that's going way ahead of my time. [Laughs]

LP: So what are your parents' names?

EY: Parents? My father's name was Toshio, and people called him Tom, I guess it started with T. There was no connection otherwise. And my mother's name was Itsume, I-T-S-U-M-E, And he met her in Japan, and I don't know whether it was an arranged marriage or whether it was kind of like love attraction or what, but she was fairly good-looking, and my father was a good-looking man, too. And so I don't know what kind of a spiel he gave her, but anyway, she came here, and I think she was very disappointed. She had visions that America had lots of gold pouring on the street and this kind of thing, like fantasy, like everyone else. But my mother had to become a chambermaid. I don't know if they owned the hotel or whether it was part of someone's, and they were just managing it or what. But she became a chambermaid and my father, too. So when I came along, that's what they were doing. Unfortunate part about my story is that I never asked my parents what they did, how they grew up or anything, so that's a total blank for me, and I think it's sad. And I find that to be true with quite a few of us, and so when I do go out to talk, I tell the children, I said, "Just ask Mom and Dad, 'how was it growing up? What did you do?'" and all this kind of thing. Because I missed that. And as I said, it was sad. But anyway, that's done.

LP: So are they first generation?

EY: Yes. Actually, my father was born in Hawaii, but in those days, they didn't keep records, you know. So there was no proof that he was born there, so when war came along, he had to get a blue card like the rest of the Japanese men and women who came over here. So he has no proof to say that he was born in Hawaii, so he was considered an Issei. I never questioned it, even in my later life I never did. He accepted it, he never complained or anything. But now in my mature years, I think that I should have done it, but who's to say?

LP: Right. And then what about your mom?

EY: My mom, she was born in, I think, Kumamoto, Japan, I think it was Kyushu Island. And I really don't know her background, but from what my aunt says... how did she put it? There was a word she used. But anyway, my thought was that she came from a well-to-do family, but she really didn't. She's just from an average family. But she was just disillusioned about the whole thing, and I think her whole life she felt that way. She became a hypochondriac, so then by seven years old, I was cooking and doing all the house chores.

LP: Did you get a sense of how large their respective families were growing up? Did they have many siblings or do you recall any aunts, uncles?

EY: Most of our few friends that we did have, they averaged about four. Not like the Yamaichis where (there) were tens and then all those around there, all the farm people. I remember my father-in-law saying that every time he went from the ranch to the house, the neighbors thought that he was going at it, but actually, mother was working out in the field, so that was not true. [Laughs] But Jimi is one of ten, so that's okay, and there's many around here who did the same.

LP: And what about your siblings? It looked maybe you were one of a few kids?

EY: Yeah. I'm the oldest of three, and my next brother is two years younger, and then the other one was six years younger. Unfortunately, he died just before his sixtieth birthday. My other sibling, his name was Sam, and the one who passed on is Gary. My brother Sam lives down in Bellflower, but we don't connect together, unfortunately. Just the three of us.

LP: So were they all born in Washington?

EY: Yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LP: And what... can you tell us about some of your childhood memories in Washington?

EY: Let's see, how should I put this? Up until fourth grade, I was doing fine. I had a girlfriend, two girlfriends, they were both black, and I had no idea of their being different from me. It's just that they were a little darker than I, and I'm dark, too. So it didn't matter to me, but we were really good friends. And then when I moved away, then I went up to Snoqualmie Falls and most of those people were fair-skinned, which is okay. But I noticed there was a little discrimination because there were a lot of American Indians attending school, too, so that's when I really felt discrimination. And why? I mean, we're all the same. But I learned from then on.

LP: When you say discrimination, was there anything in particular that happened that caused you to feel that way?

EY: First of all, I think when I went to the stores, especially I think after I became a teenager, let's see, I was a junior in high school, so that wasn't too bad. But after I got married and I came to San Jose, I was in Los Angeles when I met Jimi, but before that, I would say that even at school, there seemed to be a kind of a fine line, and the fair-skinned people would be over there, and there was only six of us in the whole student body of about a hundred fifty. So it was a very small school. So when they had junior prom or senior balls, we were never part of it. Although for junior prom, I was asked to help serve punch or something, so I had a chance to see what really went on. Otherwise I would have never known what would happen at a junior prom or even a senior ball. But that was my first exposure there, and I thought, gee, these kids are lucky we don't have that opportunity, but that's the part of life kind of thing.

LP: During, like, elementary school and those years, what was the neighborhood like that you were in, or what was your home life like?

EY: My home life, I think, would be a little different because as I said, my mom was the way she was, and so at Depression time, too, we didn't have the money. And my job was to make sure that my brothers had enough to eat, and so I'd ask my mom, I said, "I think we need some milk." Okay, so she gave me four pennies. And I'd go to the corner store run by a Jewish man, and I said, "I need some milk but I can't afford that, so I'll buy Carnation canned milk," this small, and that was four cents. And come home and then she would put the milk in a cup and then we'd add hot water to it, put a little bit sugar, and that was our milk. Then on our bread, we lived close to the Wonder Bread, and they sold day-old bread, so I'd take five cents and go up there and look for the bread that the wrapping was not quite as torn as the others, and I'd give him the five cents and come home.


LP: All right, we're back from a brief break, and we were talking about the Wonder Bread factory and going in and...

EY: Yeah. And butter, we could only buy one cube at a time, couldn't buy a whole pound. And there again, I'd take four cents, four pennies, and I'd go to the Jewish man, "Okay, what do you want today?" So I'd say, "A cube of butter," that had to last at least two weeks, because there were three of us, Mom and Dad, they prefer rice, but they still ate bread and then jam, butter and jam. We survived.

LP: What did your father do to make a living? What was his occupation?

EY: Well, he was working at a grocery store, and then he decided, okay, maybe he'll be a peddler. So somehow he was able to get a truck and he fixed it so that he could put veggies and tofu and age and daikon, and he'd go out to the country and sell. And some days were good, some days were bad. So sometimes the leftover, he would bring home tofu, and said, "Okay, we got to eat these." Said, "Why? Leave it for next day." He said, no, tofu you got to eat that day. So I remember digging a hole in the center of this tofu, square thing, filling that with shoyu, kind of working toward it.

LP: Was there like a local farmer or something that he would get the vegetables and stuff from?

EY: No. In fact, we lived in a house off of Jackson, I think it was seventeenth street. And he just commuted. So I guess you'd call him a city person, he really wasn't a country bumpkin at all.

LP: And then your mom stayed at home and...

EY: Yeah, she was a stay-at-home mom. And because she was a hypochondriac, I was absent from grade school because of her more than myself being sick. Because for a little thing, like she would be sewing or darning socks or something and she'd prick her finger with a needle, "Oh, it hurts so bad, and I got to go to bed." Okay, so, I mean, now that I think back, maybe it was her escape mechanism. Then again, too, I don't know if she was depressed or what, but I keep thinking she was because she, as I said before, I think she was very disillusioned with America. I never got a chance to really talk to her about that, so I don't know.

LP: Did you get a sense of what her educational background was at all? Did she complete...

EY: Well, I thought she went to grammar school and high school, but evidently she didn't. The reason being, I was talking to my auntie a long time ago and she mentioned the fact about my mother didn't really take to going to school, so she never really completed her high school education. Wow, I didn't know that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LP: So what caused your family to move from where you had grown up, initially?

EY: Well, first of all, depression. And the fact that my father realized he couldn't find any jobs down in Seattle in the city, so he did have to go to the outskirts, and like I said, he found this job at the Weyerhaeuser lumber company, and they provided living quarters in a barrack-like thing. So we had a roof over our head and we were able to buy food with what he earned. And at the time, refrigerators, electrical especially were not that popular. So my job became one of making sure that the melted water from the ice on the top was emptied out continually so that they didn't have water on the floor. And just about the time war started, my father was able to buy this GE electric refrigerator, and boy, I was so happy, 'cause that eliminated my position. I did the other things, but I tell this story to the kids and they kind of chuckle. So I didn't have to work that hard and make sure the water wasn't overflowing onto the floor. But he bought it with cash because in those days there wasn't any credit, and I think he paid about $150. And then the war came along and of course we couldn't take the refrigerator with us, so he sold it for about ten dollars. And of course, I think the surrounding people who thought that, oh boy, here's our chance kind of a thing, you know, came down to our area and then bought a lot of things next to nothing, I think you've heard different ones tell different stories. But our refrigerator for ten dollars and the rest of the stuff, I don't remember. Because we could only take what we could carry, right?

LP: The lumber company, was that a really big company, were there a lot of other workers? Because you mentioned barracks, and so I was just curious what the setup was for that job.

EY: I really couldn't answer that, in that I never really asked. Although I think there was three others and myself in the same grade, they were all juniors, and there were a couple of girls who were seniors. And there were two boys who were sophomores at the time, and that's about it. The rest of the kids were in grammar school. There weren't that many Japanese either at the time. I think most of us really didn't know what was going to happen to us, being uprooted. Where were we going? None of us knew where we were going, I know we had to get on the train. But the army sent the truck, army truck with an awning on top, and military police on the end. Of course, Japanese people were proud, and so our parents said, "You got to wear good clothes so you got to make a good impression." I'm trying to think, "Who do we make an impression to?" But anyway, we all had to dress up nicely, (...) to get to the train depot to go to where we were being sent to.

LP: Was the lumber company, or the logging company that your dad worked for, you mentioned living in barracks there?

EY: Yes, Weyerhaeuser. W-E-Y-E-(R)-H-A-U-S-E-R. And his child got kidnapped, it was very famous during that time. I want to say about 1936, something like that. And so it was the Weyerhaeuser baby kidnapped, and a big to-do about it. But evidently, I never met them in person, so evidently he really liked the work ethics of the Japanese Oriental men, and so most of his workers were all Japanese men. And they were assigned certain areas of the lumber industry, some had to work in the section where they debarked the tree, some were in there slicing the log, a tree into logs, my father was there. Some were assigned sorting, and grading, and so I think the people who worked for the Weyerhaeuser and the family felt that we were really lucky and grateful, the fact that Mr. Weyerhaeuser provided a roof over our head and was able to hire our father so that we could eat.

LP: Did your dad know that family, or how did he end up getting the job over there?

EY: That's something I never did find out. I was very curious about that as I got older, especially after being married. And I often wonder about that, whether there was a recruiting thing going on at the time, or whether it was word of mouth, I have no idea. But one day he came over and says, "I got a job," but that meant us moving, okay. [Laughs]

LP: What were the barracks like there?

EY: Well, it's that crazy? It's interesting you would ask me that because when people talk about their home life before the war, and none of them say barracks. And here I am, I lived in a barrack. But as to your question, I can't even tell you how long it was, but in our particular section, there was one, two families, and then kind of a studio where a bachelor did have a photography studio there. So another family, four families in our thing, and each unit had two bedrooms and a kitchen with a wood stove, and we had a common community outhouse at each end of the barrack. And then we had a community bathhouse. And each family had to take their turn to clean the tub inside, and then scour it. And you know about the Japanese bath?

LP: Soaking tubs?

EY: Soaking tub like, yeah, made out of wood. And you had to clean it out every night, and then because the fire is on the bottom, and you make the water hot. But then there was this heavy platform that went inside the hot tub so you won't get burned. And then you washed outside like Japanese people did in Japan, and that would be used every night for the whole family, I think there was four, and five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. So there were ten families that used this community tub. And each family took their turn to take care of it and then get it hot for the night. On occasion when the hot spring was working, we could take a bath in this big... it's almost like a swimming pool, that men got together and dug a place, and then they lined it with concrete. And so that was a time, then I liked it because I didn't have to go scrub the tub inside, because it was my job, it was supposed to be my mom's job but it was my job to do this. So we would go to the hot spring and then naturally wash ourself outside and then soak in a tub, and so the whole family went in there. It was a community thing and so this is almost something that we did on an everyday basis before the war. So for me it was nothing too upsetting, whereas a lot of these families who were city dwellers had a hard time adjusting to it because there was no privacy. But you have to learn to put your towel over yourself so you have your own private, and then turn toward the wall so no one would see you, and do your necessities and then rinse off and then jump in the thing. But I know that a lot of the girls had a hard time, because when we went to camp, we were sent to an assembly center first, and there again, we had outhouses then, and there was only holes. Well, first of all, I should describe that. Or am I getting myself too far ahead?

LP: No, you're good.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: I actually have a couple questions about Seattle and Snohomish if it's okay.

LP: Okay, if we can make a note to, descriptive stuff, come back to it?

KL: Yeah, for the assembly center and stuff. I wondered, your dad was born in Hawaii, you said. Do you know how he got to Washington?

EY: For a job. Looking for a job, and he had a brother, younger brother, just two years younger than him, so somewhere along the line I think his father went back to Japan. So the two brothers had to kind of fend for themselves, so they were in their teens yet. So then they thought that, I think the mainland had more job opportunities, and I think that's how come they came. But there again, I never talked to him, so I don't know.

KL: Do you know if they came in through Seattle or if they were other places first?

EY: No, I don't know that.

KL: You mentioned that your parents may have met in Japan. What was the nature of your dad's time in Japan? Was he there for education, or was he just on a visit?

EY: I think probably purpose was to find someone. And not for education, but to find a possible mate. And I don't know whether... my uncle didn't find one because he married my auntie, she was up in Washington. And I can't... I want to say Bellevue but I'm not sure. But she was a country girl, too, and they had a hard life, too. So I don't know, I cannot answer that question, that's something.

KL: I did wonder about your auntie, too, you mentioned her a couple times. She was your father's brother's wife, is that right?

EY: Yes.

KL: What can you tell... was this the brother who came with your father then?

EY: Yes.

KL: Can you just tell us a little bit about both of them, what their work was, what their marriage was like?

EY: You mean my uncle?

KL: Yeah.

EY: Yeah, well, he, I think, was... I don't know if he was two years younger or four years younger, but I know that they were quite close. They belonged to a baseball league and their team evidently were all men that they knew one another from the beginning, they got together, and I guess they had enough members to form a team and said, hey, we got enough here, let's call ourselves so-and-so, and became a baseball team. And then they participated in this league. So there's a few pictures of my father with the brother in a baseball uniform, and there's a picture of them. But as far as education, I think his brother had a chance, somehow, to go to a mechanic school where he learned auto mechanics, so he became that. And so when he went to camp and relocated to Chicago, he worked for a firm that had autos, and he put that back to practice. And then when he relocated down to Los Angeles, then he started a business of his own. And because my father had such a hard time in Washington and also he wanted to be close to his father, his brother, when we were in Gila, Arizona, then he said rather than go back to Washington, he's going to relocate to California and Los Angeles. So that's how come he ended up over there.

KL: What were your aunt and uncle's names?

EY: Pardon?

KL: What were your aunt and uncle's names?

EY: George Yoshito, Y-O-S-H-I-T-O, Tanaka, T-A-N-A-K-A. And my auntie's name was Mary. I think she was Yoshiko, Y-O-S-H-I-K-O, I'm not sure. And then her name was... her maiden name was Hayashi. No, Higashi. Higashi was her maiden name, so she became a Tanaka. And she had four kids, too.

KL: What was your mother's maiden name?

EY: Last name? It's pretty long, it's U-C-H-I-G-A-S-H-I-M-A, Uchigashima.

KL: It's as long as mine. [Laughs]

EY: [Laughs] Is it? What's your last name.

KL: Luetkemeier. It's got eleven letters, too. Did you know your grandparents, the Hawaiian grandparents ever?

EY: Never had a chance, unfortunately.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: You mentioned your two girlfriends in Seattle. What did you guys do for fun?

EY: What did we do for fun? That would be fourth grade, so after school, I really didn't... see, did I... no, I didn't see her after school. During school we all got along together, but after school, I don't even know where she lived. But we really got along together, hung around together at school. But after school let out, then we all went our own way, and we were pretty close, two dark hair and then me.

KL: What did you three like about each other? What drew you together?

EY: I guess our minds kind of were in synch together and everything we did, because okay. [Laughs] And we go into one section and we just, okay, ate lunch together and talked.

KL: What was the name of your school?

EY: Washington grammar school. It was located near Wonder Bread, so I didn't have too far to go to get the bread. Once in a while my mom would give me a few pennies and I'd buy Twinkies, but that was rare.

KL: And then your school in Snokomish...

EY: Snoqualmie.

KL: Snoqualmish. What did the other students' families do for work, or what were their backgrounds? So they were mostly white and a few Indian people?

EY: Yeah. I think some were store owners and pharmacy owners, or they worked or managed for the owner, I have no idea there. Let's see. I think one was dry cleaning... no, that's about the extent I know.

KL: And you said it was pretty divided, the groups weren't really friends?

EY: Yeah, they weren't.

KL: What was the name of the school there?

EY: Snoqualmie, S-N-O-Q-U-A-L-M-I-E, it's grammar school, and then the high school was, I guess Snoqualmie high school. Because North Bend was the next city over, just like here, and then Willow Glen, same kind of a thing. So Snoqualmie High School, I think that's what this is. No, that's Tule Lake, that's Tri-State, that's right. Snoqualmie High School.

KL: Thanks.

EY: Okay, you're welcome.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LP: So we're talking about the barracks at the lumber yard, or not the yard, but where your dad was working. And so we were talking about the bathhouse area, and you were reflecting on the assembly center and that...

EY: Back and forth.

LP: Yeah. So... I forget specifically what you were talking about.

KL: She was just describing the latrines.

LP: Okay. So what were the differences and similarities, I guess? Because you were making a connection between those two, and looking back on it and using the word barrack and all of this, it seemed sort of odd, but was there any similarities in the barracks that you were living in with the...

EY: Of course, the only similarity was the roofline, and the ones in camp were tarpaper, but we had wooden ones around, and then we did have a porch, so that it wasn't quite stark as the one in camp. And then the fact that there was the outhouses, and we had outhouses here, too. I guess for me, it wasn't that quite of an adjustment like for a lot of the city folks. They talk about graffiti, especially in Tule Lake. That's the first time I was aware of graffiti, I didn't know that word then. But the Japanese people from California and the Japanese people from Washington and the Japanese people from Oregon were all, came from different areas. So in the girl's room, there were some naughty words about the Washingtons, Washingtonians, and then the Californians. So I said, what's going on here? I never really knew that we Japanese were that expressive out in public, especially, because we're taught to, we don't do things like that. So when we got into camp and went to Tule Lake, for a while it was nice and clean and then all of a sudden, all of these graffiti like things, wow. SO within our own Japanese culture, nationality, whatever, race, there's this thing about the feeling of being so different. Never occurred to me, talk about naive, I was very naive.

LP: Was the residential area with the lumber company, was there a community to that? Were people close with each other at all, or what was the...

EY: Yeah, well, there was a man who came to the camp once in three months or so to show Japanese movies, especially for our parents who spoke Japanese mostly. And so at that time, then we would all meet at this one, it wasn't a hall per se, but it was a unit, it was still a barrack, but it had a larger room, just plain big room. So I guess you could call it a gathering place, and he would show the movie and play the part of the characters on the film, and if it was a woman he would change the tone of his voice and he would speak like the women was talking. And then when the man was talking he would change his voice and talk like a man was. And it kind of fascinated me, I was in fifth grade, sixth grade, and that was our more or less entertainment. And then as the young kids, we had a chance to go see an American movie once in a while. And in my particular case, the man next door who had the studio was friends with the family on the very end, my girlfriend, and he would volunteer to take some of us to the theater. And whether he stayed to look at the film I don't remember, but anyway, we got a chance to see some of the American movies. But as far as entertainment and things, there wasn't that much, but the kids got together and they made their own little baseball team and maybe not quite a full team, but you know how children get together, they just start playing. That's about what it was, no set thing, no basketball or anything like that.

LP: Did you tend to play with your siblings or were there other kids in the area?

EY: Yeah, there were other kids, and my youngest brother, he liked to fish, and the Snoqualmie River was across the way. And our barrack was down here but there was this railroad crossing, and I think the lumber company must have made this division where the railroad track went through our place. And then in order to go to town or anything, you had to go up and then cross the railroad track, go down and then be the regular street. And then for us to go to high school, that's what we had to do, go up and cross the railroad track, go down and then get to school. See now, my train of thought just... what was I talking about?

LP: Oh, playing with other kids or socializing with other kids?

EY: Yeah. My youngest brother, he did play with the kids, but he liked fishing so well that my father provided a long bamboo for him. And he was really good about fishing, and he would go, there was a picture of him, he's sitting there, he's just sitting like this and then the fish would come along, and he'd always come home with a fish. And my second brother, he never was that lucky. He used to get upset, because my younger brother was getting all these fish and bringing it home, and we'd have our dinner with it. But when he goes, he can't bring home a fish, you know. But I wouldn't say that he was a loner, but he enjoyed fishing, and so occasionally they would play baseball together, and then we girls, I don't know, I was too busy doing my chores, so I really never got to play with the rest of them. Only time was going to and back from school. In fact, it's funny talking about this, when I was in the fifth and sixth grade, had to go through the lumber mill and then go up to go to school. And because the lumber mill was the way it was built, they had flocks of sheep. Well, like any animal, they did their business, and it looked like marbles, black marbles. I didn't know any different, so I'm walking along and I see them, and then finally my girlfriend, "Don't you know? That's poop." I said, "What?" [Laughs] "That's sheep poop." Talk about being naive or dumb or stupid, I don't know. So we had to go around and find our way to school, and I'm tiptoeing like this with my books in my hand. Finally got so, the heck with it kind of a thing, but that was funny.

LP: Were the sheep being used for wool?

EY: No, they ate the grass, so that they kept the weeds down, so it was okay. I didn't know what they would be used for at that time.

LP: So how long in total was your family at that area or living in that area? Was that where you're at up until World War II?

EY: I guess we were there about eleven years, just about the time the war started.

LP: And your dad stayed in the same position for that eleven-year period? It sounded like he was milling boards.

EY: Yeah, I don't really know whether he did get any different position or not, all I know is he'd go to work. That's another thing I never asked him.

LP: Were they harvesting wood really close to where you were living? Could you hear anything, or was it being trucked in from somewhere else?

EY: I know that I'd see big trucks with huge logs sometimes, sometimes I'd see it all stacked up nice, so I had no idea.

LP: Somebody that I interviewed in Washington, D.C., they have this fond memory or memories of growing up in Oregon and their dad was a lumberjack.

EY: Is that right?

LP: Yeah, he had no training in it but he would climb these trees and do all the stuff and he could hear, they had this house in the woods, and the person that owned the company or whatever lived up the hill from them, they were real nice people, but it was just this really country kind of living for them, but he could hear the trees being, fallen and stuff in the woods. And so I was thinking of this mill and wondering what the environment was like or if it was, you were just processing the boards and they were harvesting it somewhere else and trucking it in?

EY: I think it was processing, yeah, because for us at home to get the firewood to burn the stove for cooking, my father did get permission to cut one tree down. And I know he made a back thing for my brother and myself to pack in the wood that he chopped out there to the house, and we had a little shed in the back. I don't know what happened to my second brother, he was never in the picture. But it was my younger brother and I that did that. So my father made a small one for him and one for me, and he would chop the wood. He would get the tree down and take all the branches off and then he would cut it and saw it to the length, and then he would chop it. Sometimes he wouldn't chop it and I had to chop it at home. I still have a scar from it, but anyway, that's the first time I got a little axe. But yeah, in order for us to make, or get the food cooking and everything, we had to chop the wood in order to get the fire going and then also the same stove created the same heat for the whole unit. And so my younger brother and I carried the branches of chopped wood sometimes on our back. And like I say, my job sometimes, big one, chop it up and all this.

LP: Was your dad into carpentry at all, being around all this building material?

EY: No, he wasn't that way. Actually, I don't know that he even had a hobby, now that I think about it. Either that or he was just too tired after all that. But eventually my youngest brother became an optometrist, that's how he made his living.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LP: Did your parents have any religious background that you were aware of growing up? Were they Buddhist?

EY: No. At the time I was growing up, let's see, while in Seattle, I think my mom went to, they call it Tenrikyo, it's a take off of the Buddhist religion, not the Jodo Shinshu like it's over here, it's a branch, just like, I guess, Presbyterian, Baptist and all that. Tenrikyo, I don't know, a different way of doing things.

LP: Did your dad identify that as well, or is that where your mom...

EY: She never talked about it. And I don't remember that he ever went. It was the three kids, and occasionally my mom would go with just the three of us. Then one time I think I rebelled or something and my friend, she was, where was she? She was a fair-skinned girl, she said, "Well, why don't you come to my church and see?" So I went to a Christian church, said, "Hey, this is pretty nice." I think I remember going there a couple of times, and they had the Bible. All these things I've never thought about before, it's all coming back.

LP: What about, was there any sort of special occasions or anything that your family intended to celebrate, thinking about the beginning, during the Depression, rationing things and being very frugal and whatnot. Did your family tend to recognize birthdays or were there any holidays that they...

EY: No, nothing like that. In fact, I think after I got married and had children of our own, then I realized too that people do this, and I was unaware that they really made a big to-do about it. Because my folks never did. In fact, as I'm talking, I can just see my oldest daughter, she said, "You know, Mom, you don't love us." And I said, "Why? Because we provide for you." But her remark was, gee, most of her friends' parents, they come and hug you, and they kiss the children, "You never do that." Well, I grew up knowing, not knowing that. It never dawned on me because I was never exposed to it. But that was a rude awakening when she said, "You don't love us." [Laughs] Because we never were very demonstrative.

LP: Did she understand, have you shared with her some of your family emotion and attitude toward all of that? Did she understand it?

EY: She finally did. But it took her some time, the fact that, "All you have to do is extend your arms, Mom," kind of a thing, which is true. That's all I needed, but I didn't know any different, because my girlfriends were the same way. Her parents never did that. Maybe it was part of the culture, I don't know. Maybe my parents never did that, so maybe they didn't know any different either.

LP: Yeah. There are people in my family, too, that are the same way, or they know they were really sensitive, and so they kind of...

EY: That's right, because some people, even today, I find out that some people, they don't like to be touched, so there's that, too. But I think we're... I don't care how old you are, we're always getting educated for something. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LP: So it sounds like Pearl Harbor and the news of that was disseminated while your family was working and staying at the mill area. So could you talk a little bit about that and how the news was disseminated to your family and what you recall about that?

EY: Going to camp you mean? Or before?

LP: Just the news of Pearl Harbor and maybe even leading up to that, was there an atmosphere at all of worry about war?

EY: Well, there really wasn't, internally within the family there wasn't really that much discussion. We just, because we were Washington and everything mostly was happening in California, and the Life magazine had several pages of photos about people in California being rousted from the house and the luggage and all that thing, and when we'd go to school, we'd talk about that, gee, too bad. Right after December 7th when it happened, it never occurred to us that it would affect us. We figured we were in Washington, they were in California, so two different states. And we were commiserating the fact that, gee, it's too bad that they have to go. And before long, it affected us because the notice 9066 was posted and we came to the camp and looked at that and said, "Oh boy, that's us," and "non-aliens," too. Well, who's "non-aliens"? Well, it was us. So anyway, the fact that we thought we would be spared and not have to go, then to be surprised at the fact that we had to go, I think it's kind of unbelievable for us at that time. And I don't know, I guess when we heard December 7th, we all kind of went outside to see what was going on, and most of us gathered on the lawn over there and, gee, what's going on, kind of thing. Of course, the discussion, oh, it's not going to affect us because we're up here, they're down there kind of thing. But helpless, and wondering what the future was, really. Especially when we got the notice. And I think it was the hardest on our parents because they were finally able to say, wow, we finally could see ourselves getting ahead a little bit after the Depression, and then to have that happen and then find out that you could only carry what you could take with you. How can you discriminate what you're going to take with you? Because we had the outhouse, all the things pertaining to Japan, each family took it there and dumped it. The other day we were talking about that one time, he said, "Yeah, my folks had an outhouse too, you know," and they were saying the same thing. It's too bad we lost of things that way, but that had to be... but I think on the whole, it made us wonder why the government could do what they did, that they had the power to say okay, military people, go out there and make sure that the Japanese people made our, to be all rounded up together and sent to wherever they were. Those were the days.

LP: Do you recall the news on Pearl Harbor being bombed, like, over the radio or anything, or does that seem just real fuzzy to you?

EY: Yeah, well, for me, I heard it, because I was doing my homework, and I had the radio on, typically teenagers. And interrupted, so the President came on and he said that. So right away I just put my pencil down and I ran outside the door to see if anyone was doing the same thing I was, and sure enough, most everyone came out of the house, "Can you believe that?" No, we can't believe it. How stupid can they be to come all the way over here to Pearl Harbor, you know.

LP: Was your mom or dad home at that time, or your siblings home?

EY: That was Sunday, so my dad was off work, too, yeah. I remember looking for my father and I said, "Hey, Papa, you know what?" We were all speaking in Japanese, right? Couldn't believe it.

LP: Was there any concern before Pearl Harbor of any, with World War II being what it was, or did it seem just like a general concern about what was going on, but nothing of that magnitude or gravity would have happened.

EY: Our parents didn't talk about that to me, so I had no idea about that. But I'm sure they must have had some kind of discussion between the two of them, if not shared with us, because I didn't hear anything about it. Just that first day we went to school on a Monday, already there was a tension, as if to say, "Okay, you Japs go back home," kind of a thing. But to this day I wondered why the principal of the school didn't even come to the area and say, "Gee, I'm sorry to hear about this," nothing like that. And so there's this thing of, for me, anyway, of feeling like, well, actually, the principal didn't even care whether we were there or not. And we were just a student making money for the school. We were there to get education, but at the same time, he's getting paid to hire a teacher to teach us, right? So in the same time, okay, the teachers were there to teach students and we're of a Japanese nationality, so whoopee, kind of a thing. At that time, didn't think anything of it, but as I talk about it now in my mature years, that does come up, and I think, gee, he really never cared. Some friends said that some of the teachers, if not the principal, made a special effort to come to the house made a special effort to say that they were sorry about this whole situation, and had hoped that nothing like this severe thing would happen. But in our case... [shakes head].

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LP: All right, we're back on tape two after a brief break. And we were just talking about the treatment that you received after Pearl Harbor, going back to school and the principal seeming aloof and to not be too concerned. Were the teachers or your peers, besides the principal, did they react any differently?

EY: Yeah. I don't know whether it was us or what, but you could feel the tension. Somehow, you know, without even talking about it, I know that the persons that I thought were friends avoided me, that's when I really felt it. I wanted to go up there and ask, "How come? I'm still the same person." But it could be something they discussed at home. Because to me, to this day, I think the way young people really act, they say, discriminate the other people is something that they heard the parents talk about, not necessarily pounding it into their brain, but the fact that they discussed it at the table. Although when you read about this young man who killed many people in the theater, remember, now they're saying he had a mental problem. So my statement saying that it stems from parents, that's not true when you read about that. So anyway, at that time, because the students who I thought were friends kind of shied away, that told me differently. And in a way it was kind of said that they acted the way they did, 'cause I wanted to tell them, "I'm still the same person." But the teachers didn't say a word, not one.

Although now that we do go around talking to different schools, some of the friends that I have who don't do what I do, they tell me that talking about it doesn't necessarily tell myself that it was okay, and that they would rather not be, share their experience, so I respect that. But I think Jim and I think that if we don't talk about it, people will not know. And I think the young people should know that the government has this capability of saying that and it'll take effect, and not take your freedom so casually. That's my feeling.

LP: Were there any Italians or German, like, immigrants or first generation from those groups in your area at that time? I was just curious if these other groups that had been potentially concerned about being discriminated against or what would happen to them if you remember encountering any of those?

EY: Not in my situation, because it was such a small community. And I don't know that even if they had associations where they wanted to get to know one another, in that aspect, I have no idea.

LP: Did any of your friends or family experience any of the FBI arrest stuff? I know some people that had...

EY: No, I don't think so. I think ours was kind of a different setup from the other, it wasn't like this open... because we were kind of in a nucleus there. They knew that, they call them... not "Jap camp," but referring to "Jap" something or other. The parents worked for Mr. Weyerhaeuser and we were housed there kind of a thing, and I think there was just kind of a given thing, and let's leave them alone, kind of stuff, I think. At the time, growing up, I didn't know any different.

LP: Did the Weyerhaeuser company, did they react in any particular way with that news?

EY: You know, I never did find out. It would be interesting to pursue that, but I'm sure by now Mr. Weyerhaeuser is gone. But it would have been nice to find out how they felt at the time.

LP: Especially with the operation, you're saying so many people were employed by them that had Japanese ancestry, I'm sure to him it would have been shocking on an emotional level.

EY: I would think so.

LP: But also his company's as being affected. So what, from the time that news was delivered, from December 7th up into the 9066 posters and all of that, what was that time period like? Could you describe what you recall about that?

EY: Well, I know that we didn't go to school because it was outside the five mile radius. And I don't think we went anywhere. I look back and I wondered, where did we get the food to eat? Because we didn't have any grocery stores, how did we manage that? Because December 7th, and then we were evacuated in May of '42. So there had to be something between December, January, February, March, April, May, at least a four-month period, but I can't recall that.

LP: So for the four months you didn't go to school, you stayed home?

EY: Yeah.

LP: And what did you do at home? Were you just doing chores?

EY: Well, I guess I really, can't really remember what I really did, but once we got the notice that we had to evacuate, well, of course, we had to go through and decide what we're going to take, what we were going to leave behind. So that kept us going and they kept me going. But like I tell people, in my situation, I only had one skirt, and I only had a couple of blouses which I wore to school and then I washed and wore the same thing over and over again. So then we'd talk about shoes, I only had two pairs of shoes, one to go to school with and one just in case something nice was going on or going to a theater, wear the good shoes. But my father always made sure that he got the tire, old rubber tire, and then he would make a shape of my shoe and then he'd cut it out and then put it up to my new shoe. And once that wore out, then I'd have my new soles from the already made shoes, then if there was a hole in the sole of my shoe, and put a cardboard inside, and somehow we managed, and that's how we lived. So my brother, same thing, his shoes, my father cut it out and pounded it. He had a stand, the shape of the show, and used that every time we got a new shoe and made sure it lasted a whole year. So we managed that way.

LP: Do you remember your siblings' reaction in this time to that news or what they did?

EY: No idea. My brother was six years younger than me at that time, so it would be... I was fifteen when I went to camp, so six years, he'd be nine years old then. I don't remember that.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LP: So how was your family physically moved from the lumber yard and mill to the assembly center? What was the... because it sounds like you were fairly remote, what was the setup?

EY: Yeah. Once we got on the army truck, then they drove us down to the train station, and I don't know which train station it was to this day. And all I know is the military police sitting on the outside so that I guess we wouldn't get out of the truck. I don't know how we could have done that, but anyway, yeah, they were there on each side. And they had guns, and I guess we transferred to the train and it was really dirty. Because I was a junior in high school, they decided I could be the so-called train monitor to make sure that everyone had a seat, and if we were to eat, that we would all be going to the so-called dining car to eat. And we couldn't use the bathroom facility on the train when it stopped, but while it was moving, we were able to use it. And I think most of us all wore our good clothes, really regretted it because the train was so dirty, it was a vintage old train, and we had one of those old lamps on the inside, you know, that kind of a thing. But we rode it from Washington all the way through Oregon, all the way through California down a place called Pinedale by Fresno. And each time when the train went through the city, you'd hear this ting-ting-ting because the arms were coming down. And we'd all say, most of the kids would say, "Hey, we're in some kind of a city." And, of course, we had to pull our shades down so no one would see us. And we'd look, and finally when we went to California, we saw the palm tree, that's when we realized, hey, we're in California, that kind of thing. All of us couldn't believe it because up in Washington, you don't see palm trees, even in Oregon. And so when we saw the palm trees, we're someplace in California, I'll tell you that. Sure enough, when the train stopped, it was down by Fresno. And as I grew older, I didn't want to talk about it, the government spent all that money just to bring us to this place, all the way down to California, all stupid, all that expense. But anyway, there we were.

LP: What feelings were you experiencing when you saw the army truck pulling up and saw people with guns and all of that?

EY: Oh, gee, it just surprised me, shocked me, we're no criminals, we're not criminals, we are just citizens just like everyone else, we never did anything bad. Why are you people there with their bayonets ready and like this, in the end, to make sure that we wouldn't get out of the truck. All this is going down through my mind. We never talked it verbally. I don't know about other people, but that's how I felt. And we're American citizens, we're born here, we're raised here, and just like you people, and why are you treating us, just because the color of our face is so different? That's how we surmised it, but there was nothing we could do. Of course you know, when you talk about it today, young people will say, "Why didn't you fight, why didn't you do something?" We couldn't because there was no one to support us, no one, they could care less. So there we were.

LP: What was the attitude or demeanor of the military that was there in transporting people by truck and on the train? Some people that I've interviewed remember a very stern...

EY: Quite a few were that way, then there were others who really felt sorry for us. Some were very nice, they tried to help you. And also I could see that they were looking at their superiors, and I'm thinking well maybe they're not supposed to be doing that, but they're doing it because of their own feeling. I don't know whether on the whole they were all that way, but...

LP: Were the instructions to keep the shades down for any particular reason?

EY: We were told, "We don't want the public to see all you Japs' face," that's what they told us. So I'm thinking, "What difference does it make?" We're on a train, we can't go anywhere. But that's what we were told.

LP: And what was the concern of seeing people on the train? Do you feel that that was because they didn't want, they were concerned about espionage and all this, or was it just that they didn't want the public to know that this is happening to people?

EY: Well, at the time I really didn't give much thought to it, except the fact is I guess the government doesn't want the general public to be aware that they are doing this to one type of group of people. That was my feeling then, but as I got older and both espionage and all that, and also letting the general public not know that that's my own interpretation.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LP: So after this long train ride, you got to Fresno, and what were your first impressions of what you saw when you got to Fresno?

EY: Well, dry, hot, there was also many Japanese people in my whole life, all black heads. Our parents weren't quite gray yet, and maybe the great grandparents might have been, but majority of parents were not yet. So when I got there, and then we were assigned our living quarters. Fortunate for our family, we were assigned a barrack that had concrete floor. So when it was hot, as long as we lifted the few things that we had off of the floor, they could get a bucket, get water on it, and throw it on the floor. Then from the end you just sweep all that water out and it cooled the floor at little bit, so that was okay. But my girlfriends, I don't know how they separated us, but we were from the same area, from Weyerhaeuser. We were sent over here, my girlfriend were sent from far away, and their barrack had asphalt tile. So when it was hot, and the only thing we could sit on was our cot, no chairs. On the cot we sit, you could feel yourself kind of go down a little bit. Because the tar was getting so soft that it made it... so the bed would sink about half an inch or so. Well you don't dare drop anything, boy, that tarpaper would stick on your clothes, you can never wash it off. They found out the hard way. So we were lucky. Although we had outhouses, and the outhouses, they built, from the ground they had wood slats, and from there on up, they had fine screen, and one door that opened up, and we had five holes? Five holes and no partition. I think it was men and women, and then once a month, it was very difficult for us girls. And then coming from Washington where it's much cooler, then you go to a hot country like that, then your body changes. So when you have your period, it's really difficult. So quite a few of us from Washington had a hard time adjusting to that, even if it was for a few months, because Fresno was so hot. But anyway, you learned to make do. Then I think about five months later, they moved us to Tule Lake. It was okay.

KL: We often have high school students and middle school students come visit Manzanar, and a lot of times the girls especially are curious about how people dealt with having their period and female hygiene. Would you be willing to speak a little bit more about how people dealt with that?

EY: [Laughs] Yeah. Well, in my own case, I tried to go either early morning when people were sleeping, or a little later in the evening. If I could just take care of needs, but because there was no privacy, it was very difficult. But most of us knew when we had it, it was oh boy, we got that. We never specifically talked about it, but we'd say, "Oh, darn it," kind of a thing. But the boys got a hold of a napkin, I remember one time they got a hold of a napkin, and they were, "Hey, girls," you know. And it used to upset me, how nervy they are. Just because they don't go through it, they don't understand that. [Laughs] So they were flagging it. And I remember one time I got upset, I said, "You know what? You guys, you don't respect us at all, just because you don't go through it." Oh, and then one of 'em, he really felt bad. It was very difficult. And some, of course, naturally depending on all of us, each of us were so different, some had it real bad, some had a light case of it, so it wasn't too bad for them. But boy, once a month, we dreaded it.

KL: How did you get supplies?

EY: How did I get what?

KL: How did you get, like, the napkin that that the boy found?

EY: Oh, the supplies? I wonder how we got that. I wonder if whether the main administration realized that that's what needed to happen. We had to get supplies, something, 'cause we didn't have canteens then, we just moved over. Gee, that's a good question, I really don't know we got it. Or we went... unless we had a manager, I know that in Tule Lake camp we had a block manager, but when we went to assembly center, we might have told someone in charge. I don't know how we got the supplies, but we were lucky to get it, otherwise we would have had to fend for ourselves.

LP: Was there like a hospital or first aid station or anything like that?

EY: I'm sure they had established one, and it could be that they provided it, I couldn't answer that. But we had to get supplies from somewhere, and especially how the guys got a hold of it, I don't know. [Laughs] That's something I never really thought about.

LP: So what was Pinedale prior to being used as the assembly center? I'm not as familiar with it. Because I know, like, some places were fairgrounds or racetracks or things like that, did it seem like it was something prior to...

EY: All I saw was a lot of barracks, I guess, not really full barracks. All I know is it was hot in there.

LP: Besides the barracks, if you looked out, what would you see? Was it, the landscape, was it...

EY: Yeah, I was going to say barren, yeah. In fact, just yesterday, I went on a trip with a group from the hospital, and we went to a succulent garden landscape place, and it's a nursery that just raises all these different type of succulents, and I see these ladies buying it. For me, it just reminds me of camp too much. I could never put... in fact, my neighbor has succulents there, it just reminds me of camp so much. But I just figure, okay, she likes it, that's for her. But I never talked about it to her, I figure it's none of my business. It just means I have to change my way of thinking, but it does, it reminds me of camp too much. And then like people who have friends who bought homes in Las Vegas, there again with all that dry and all that tumbleweeds, that's another thing that reminds me of camp too much. It's okay.

LP: So was it pretty isolated where it was, or did it seem...

EY: I felt isolated, yes. And I thought, well, yeah, I'm not surprised that the government would locate us in such a place. But then when you think about Tule Lake and Manzanar way out there in the boonies kind of thing...

LP: Had you ever been -- it doesn't sound like it -- but had you ever been to California before that?

EY: Never had.

LP: Did you, later in life, associate California as being that as a whole, or did you, in your mind at that time seem like... because I think of, I'm from the East Coast, so I had this vision of what California was, and if California the first time I saw it was Fresno, I might have thought California wasn't really pleasant. So I don't know if you thought...

EY: Yeah, I had an idea, almost similar way, yeah. Somehow California depicts hot, warm, and not too much vegetation kind of thing. But boy, now, you go everywhere, you got vineyards here and there and all these crops, this and that. Interesting, isn't it?

LP: Yeah. So what was... since it was only a few months there, was there anything that really stood out to you about Pinedale in terms of just how people passed the time or the, were there any friendships that developed over that four or five month period?

EY: Actually, there wasn't too much chance to... at least for me to establish a good friendship. Because I guess I was more busy making sure that my mom got her food and back and forth and doing the laundry and what have you. So I tell people, when they say, "I want to hear your story," I said, "My story is very non-interesting. My daily life was so different from other teenagers." And they said, "Oh, come on and talk about it," but it's because I did all the domestic stuff that most of the young teenagers don't do. So at that short period of four to five months, I really didn't make that many friends. Although I made an effort to go see my friend, because she was from the same area. And then when I found out she had the asphalt flooring and I had concrete, I said, "Wow." I was lucky to be assigned to that. I don't know how many barracks had concrete, not too many. I think when they realized there were more evacuees than what they thought, they probably hurriedly made the asphalt flooring, and that's why my girlfriend ended up there. But how they came about splitting us, I have no idea. Then, see, we were sent to Tule Lake, my girlfriend was sent to Minidoka, Idaho. So after that, I never got to see her.

LP: Could you share her name?

EY: Let's see... sister's name was Kiyo Yamaguchi, I think she's still in Seattle, but I don't know her health status. And her sister Miyo, Miyo and I were in the same class, she just passed on, Miyo Yamaguchi. And there was a Masako Abe, she was very intelligent, brilliant, she relocated to Los Angeles, no, to Chicago, she relocated to Chicago.

LP: Is she related to Sahomi?

EY: Pardon?

LP: Is she related to Sahomi Tachibana at all?

EY: I don't know, I couldn't tell you. She had a brother named George, George Abe. Then there was the Tanaka sisters, they relocated to Los Angeles, Lillian Tanaka and then the other one was, I want to say Dorothy, but I don't think it was Dorothy. I haven't seen her since then.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

LP: Was your mom's condition the same as when you were in Washington, or did it change at all with this pretty epic thing happening to her?

EY: Let's see. In Washington she was okay because during the summer, every summer we worked out in the ranch. We went to Kent -- Kent is a city in Washington -- and there were quite a few Japanese farmers. And in order to make money to buy school clothes, we had to go pick strawberries or any crop that needed help. So I remember picking strawberries, blackberries, loganberries. And at that time, they didn't have pants. So I just had a dress on, and my knees would just get so scarred up because to pick berries you had to get on your knees to pick the berries. And by the time school started, I had black knees, and the skin was so thick there it was hard to keep it clean. But my mom somehow had pants, I can still visualize her wearing her pants. She had a towel on her neck, and she had a straw hat. Me, I just had a dress on, and my mom had one of those arm protectors, and there I was just with a dress, and then my knees, oh, my gosh. So anyway, we did that almost every year, four years, every summer. And I don't remember if I ever got to wear pants or not, picking berries. But anyway, I managed. [Laughs] So she was okay then. So when we got to camp then, I don't think that she took any hobbies or went to class or anything like that. Because when Jimi showed me what his mom did and all that, I was really surprised, because my mom never showed any interest. As far as I was concerned, she was always in bed. I don't know a person could be in bed like that, but anyway, she did. But somehow she survived that. But that was one thing, I was never going to be like my mother, never.

LP: I was wondering if camp made her feel more, like, kind of depressed or helpless or anything like that, or if she just sort of stayed that same...

EY: I think status quo, I think. Because the people in the whole block, you know, people talk about the block, you know what the block was, and they would see me carrying the plate home to the barrack, to our room. And they'd always say, "Well, there goes the Japanese person." My maiden name was Tanaka, so they would say, they don't verbally come out and say so, but I know from the way they expressed their face that they were saying, "There she goes again, I guess Mom's in bed," kind of a thing. And then once a week I would do the laundry and the sheets. So in Tule Lake, in our particular area, we had the laundry sinks all along the wall. Some camps had it in the center, but ours was all along the walls. So I would take up three units early morning when people were still sleeping, so I wouldn't bother the others. So I would have cold water and hot water, soap, rinse, rinse, rinse, and that was it. Then I'd start out with my white one and the colored ones and dark colors, like everyone else does. Then I'd hang it out there and on cold winter days, the sheets used to get stiff like this. The summer, it's like of like this. But anyway, we survived. [Laughs]

LP: Was your dad's attitude and demeanor the same, or did you notice any change in his...

EY: Seemed like he was okay either way. I guess he made up his mind while he brought her over here, so he had to make the best of the situation, I think so. He didn't have enough money to tell her to home if that's what you want to do, but I don't think... I've never heard him talk to me about that. In fact, she still was in bed even after we got married. My husband finally said -- because at first, after we got married, my father-in-law says, "I think you should go home once." So Jim and I went down there, she was in bed, she wouldn't get up. So finally Jimi went to the bedroom and he finally told her, "If you don't come out and say hi to us even though we come all the way down here, I'm never going to bring your daughter home again." So after that, when she found out that I was coming down, she made sure she was up when we came over. [Laughs] But that was her. It was all about her, so I accepted it, but I think it was hard for Jimi. She didn't have respect for him by not showing up, and I felt the same way, too. He finally woke up, and I'm glad he did, but it was her loss, unfortunately.

LP: Was there anything else about Pinedale that you wanted us to make sure to capture on film? I was going to transition into Tule Lake unless there was anything else.

EY: I don't think so. Because it was so (temporary), and of course, at the time, we were not sure whether we were going to be relocated. We thought it might be it, that this is the way we're going to live. We didn't know how long, and so when they told us that we were going to be moved to Tule Lake, we wondered what's going to happen now? We didn't know what to expect over there. I didn't have much more to say on that.

LP: Did Tule Lake, did that phrase mean anything? One lady I interviewed thought, because it had "lake" in it, they were going to go to a lake, and she actually had brought, like, a bathing suit and different swimming things with her. Did Tule Lake...

EY: It was really different because it was so large. And we did have a firebreak in between our boards. And the fact that... good thing is that they established, the fact that all of us needed to continue our education. And I think if it weren't for the college students who were there and those who were about to get their degree, but because it happened, they couldn't get it. I think because they got together and decided all these kids were just doing nothing, floating around, spending their day doing nothing. And I think they all felt the need to do something, and the fact that they established a school, and then the administration got on the wagon and said, "Hey, yeah, they're right, they need to have something." So to this day, I still wonder how they got accredited, that those of us who graduated from high school in camp were able to get accreditation to be accepted to the outside college which has happened. And like I graduated here in Tri-State High, you know why it was named Tri-State? Washington, Oregon, California, so we all voted on that. There were other names given out, and then we said, "No, I think Tri-State explains all of us," because we were all from three different regions, so that's how it got. And how Aquarius got their name... I don't know how that came about, but I kind of figure aquamarine's the water, so the Tule Lake Basin maybe, and I don't know what the, how that came about. I never did question it. But anyway, we were the first graduating class.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LP: Did you recall the time period of moving from Pinedale to Tule Lake? Was that by train?

EY: Yeah, we went by train. Talk about the train, when we left Washington to go down to California, we had a regular dining car, believe it or not. And then when we transferred from Tule Lake to Jerome, Arkansas, we had a troop train. And the troop train is where you faced the wall, and they have this wooden barrier so that when a train rocked back and forth and your food doesn't slide toward you, so it stopped the plate from coming to your lap. So we had that, and then from Jerome to Gila, we also had to go on the troop train, because that's how I went. Tule Lake to Jerome, Jerome to Gila. But dining, yeah, coming, we had a dining car. I don't talk about it because I feel kind of... not ashamed, but maybe those other people who had to go from California to, well, say, Heart Mountain or California to some other... they didn't have the luxury of a dining car, so I don't say too much about that. But yeah, believe it or not, we did have a dining car from Washington to going to Fresno.

LP: Wow. And then from Fresno to Tule Lake did you have a dining car, too?

EY: No, not a dining car. See, what did we have then? Maybe it was a troop train, too, that's where we were first exposed to it. I think so, 'cause all I remember is that the dining car... because four days, yeah, I think the troop train Fresno to Tule Lake.

LP: And how was it conveyed to you and your family that you would be going to Tule Lake?

EY: I sure don't remember that. All I know is we were going to be moved again. I didn't know where, I didn't know where. And the fact that we were still in California, that was interesting.

LP: Did you go to school while you were in Pinedale or that was just, you said it was four or five months, or five months of just sort of being there, right? There was no school or anything. In Pinedale?

EY: Pinedale? There was nothing.

LP: Right.

EY: We were left on our own.

LP: So then you took the train up to Tule lake, and what was your first impression of seeing that landscape?

EY: Big, hot, barren. And what are we gonna do there? Because at that time there was no crafts or language school. I don't know if even churches were established when we first got there. I'm sure there was a Catholic one, there was a Christian one, there was a Buddhist church, so they established that eventually. Of course, the school... I lived in 52, the school was over in 71 or something. So then we had two firebreaks to go through, to go to school every day.

LP: And what apartment were you... like if you were to describe your barrack and all of that, where were you living?

EY: I think our particular barrack, we always had the end room. I don't know why, but we were lucky in that way. Although not lucky when the sandstorm started coming up, and hit our door, and then the windows were... and it went up, and so then of course the floor, the slats were still about quarter of an inch apart so then the sand would come up here, our beds would be full of sand before we got in bed, so we made sure that we shook our blankets off and got rid of the sand before we hopped in bed. But usually there's a family of five, I don't know about six, but five, we were all assigned end barracks. And so this one... there was us, two, three, I think there was four families to a barrack. And I think you've heard them say that the walls were only up to... how should I say it? Midway so that you could hear the conversation, someone speaking loud enough from here to the end of the barrack, or someone who had an electric -- Jimi tells the story, I don't know about it, but he tells the story about this one family who had lots of money so that they never ate at the mess hall, that they were able to go to the canteen, buy the meat or whatever, and cook in their barrack. And that smell would permeate from their end room all the way to the other end. So then the kids asked their parents, "How come those people get to eat the nice-smelling food, and we have to go to the barrack and eat that crummy food?" kind of a thing. I never had that, so I didn't know that until Jimi started talking about it. And I know that in our particular barrack, this one family had two boys and they were playing instruments, so every so often they'd get together and they played the melodies of some of the familiar tunes that I was familiar with, and I could hear them, and that was kind of neat. But in Tule Lake, the doors faced this way so that the next barrack, the doors faced the solid side, so you had a little bit of privacy. Although this top part was open all the way, until, like he says, they finally put a top on for it, some of them. But I wasn't there that long, because when they sent us to Jerome, then things changed. He came in from Heart Mountain to Tule Lake. Then he was in the construction crew, so he knows what he did. Because when I left, there was nothing like that.

LP: The landscape and all of the mountains and the buttes and all of this stuff, there's quite a bit today like Castle Rock and Abalone Mountain and all this. But is there anything... when you have visited that site today and you look at it, you probably see through a different lens than I would looking at it.

EY: Because you know, when we were there, we still were able to leave camp and climb Castle Rock without any kind of a, signing or anything. And when Jimi moved in there, that's when all the security and all that added, the guard towers went into effect. So my time was more free time than when he went in there. So when he tells his story, it's hard for me to really understand that. But slowly I'm getting to that point where, yeah, I guess so, because they made that a segregation center, so they had to put more security around that. When I was there, yeah, I climbed Castle Rock. People can't believe that. "You mean you were able to get out of the camp and do that?" I said, "Yeah, I didn't have any trouble." But things changed.

LP: Going up there -- because I know that was a popular place to hike, and sometimes people had religious services and whatever up there, there's graffiti and writing and whatnot. Do you recall seeing anyone write anything, or do you anyone by chance that had written a name or done any...

EY: No, I can't recall. And I don't even remember when the cross was placed on Castle Rock. It might have been after I left, because I was there just about a full year. Because I finished my junior year and then full senior year there, so about a year and a half at Tule Lake. And then after that, when they made that into a segregation center, then things changed, so whether the cross was placed after I left or it was there when I was there, I can't remember that. I don't remember seeing the cross when I went to climb that. So I would not be the person to say so. And the landscaping... all I know was dry. [Laughs]

LP: Did you ever encounter any rattlesnakes or scorpions or anything like that?

EY: No, fortunately, no, thank goodness.

LP: What about the birds? Because it's a migratory bird area, right?

EY: Yes.

LP: Do you recall seeing any wildlife? Coyotes, bobcats, birds?

EY: No.

LP: What about something that's really common is the collecting shells or finding projectile points, did you ever find anything like that while you were there?

EY: You know what? There were a lot of shells, but I was too involved going back and forth. My life was very, very boring. I would get up and do what I had to do, then I'd go to school, I'd go to school, and then from there, when school was over, I went to the hospital and I worked as a tray girl making sure that the patients who were there got the proper diet that was assigned to them. And then my father worked as a cook over at the hospital, but I made twelve dollars a month. And so that few twelve dollars went toward the family coffer. I didn't even know there was a beauty shop, there's a barber shop. I knew there was a canteen, but I wasn't sure. And then they had dances, they had band, they had an orchestra. But I knew that they had stage shows where classical Japanese dancing and stuff, and musicals that they placed, and I remember taking a chair over there out in the firebreak, that's where they had that. And so I would go there when they had it, when I could get away. But other than that, very naive. Like a teenager, we didn't know what was going on.

LP: Do you recall the night sky at all?

EY: Pardon?

LP: The night sky?

EY: Yeah, I remember it was really beautiful, really nice. Stars, it was so clear.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LP: I'm curious about the hospital because I've read a little bit from other interviews, people that were nurses there and just the lack of supplies, and the unnecessary, in some cases, death and illness that people didn't really have the opportunity to deal with. What do you remember about the hospital in general?

EY: Not very much because my role was such a small role, and I just did what I was told to do. And I never made an adventurous curiosity to look and find out, so I really don't know the whole history there. And if the supplies were rare and all that, I believe it. Because I don't think the government really provided the way it should have been. From what I understand, though, that because we only had one telephone for each ward, instead of a block, why, if you were sick, you would have had a hard time to have the ambulance come pick you up and take you to the hospital and all that. So I really don't know.

LP: Do you remember any of the names of the doctors or nurses or any staff that were there?

EY: No, I don't. I never had any interaction with them.

LP: Were there any cases of any illness that you were aware of there? Anyone, maybe even like in your family, anyone getting sick?

EY: No, I don't remember.

LP: I'm asking, there was one lady I interviewed who, she did a lot of dancing and was very athletic, her parents had her do everything, you know, it was just 24/7, having to do some extracurricular thing. And she had a really bad stomach pain one day and so they went into the hospital and the doctor was really certain it was her appendix, and her dad asked if they could wait on doing any surgery until after she performed.

EY: Is that right?

LP: But it turns out that this one doctor had a reputation for misdiagnosing people, and the next day it went away, it wasn't her appendix. And so he was trying to prevent her from being operated on because he was concerned about what would happen to her. So I was just curious if there was anybody that was, had a reputation of being good or bad, anything.

EY: I have not heard.

LP: And it's escaping me what year this was, but the Hitomi murder case, were you at Tule Lake when that happened, the man who was killed and there's still no identifying information about what happened really?

EY: I think I heard someone talk about it, but I'm not fully aware of that, no. Like I say, I'm very naive. [Laughs]

LP: One of the other things I was just curious about was, so Barbara Takei recently was kind of talking about some of the cellars potentially at Tule Lake, I know some of them have been found at Manzanar. Do you recall anyone having a cellar or basement that they dug out underneath their barrack. Did you ever see anything like that?

EY: I think I remember just one barrack that had a hole in it, but I was unaware of what they were using the hole for. That's all I know.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

LP: Do you remember any personalities of administration staff, teachers or anything like that? It sounds like you have a memory of maybe graduation, you'd be able to talk a little bit about graduation?

EY: I never really thought about that. [Laughs] Never did. Although I remember in English class, had to do something, and somehow I was gonna be a broadcaster, and I had someone make me one of those old fashioned microphones, you remember, kind of like the thing... and I had a stand made, I put it on the desk, and I still don't know what I spoke about, but I got up there, normally I'm an introvert, and I kind of tend to just stay back and observe. But that one time, I had enough guts to get up there, speak in front of the class, and I don't remember what I spoke about. But that's about all that I remember on that, of my education over there in camp.

LP: Did you do any extracurricular activities? It's interesting that you spoke, did you have, like a certain honor or anything, with grades or anything like that?

EY: Can't think of anything.

LP: Where did graduation take place?

EY: I think it was in one of the firebreaks, and I don't know whether we were on the stage or whether we were on the ground. That's interesting, I'm going to have to think about that more. I never did before. [Laughs]

LP: The same person that donated the yearbooks donated one of the graduation tassels. Her husband was forty-two, she was forty-three, so they were kind of slightly different shades, but they were yellow with, like, blue. Do you remember the robe or anything that you wore, what color that was?

EY: Yeah, it was blue and gold, that's supposed to be blue and gold. That's why the cover is supposed to be gold, yellow, right? And then the blue printing, I remember that, but I don't remember. And after I left, they built the high school, but they still don't know whether it was arson or not, but someone... so the high school was really short-lived.

KL: Yeah, I had a couple questions about school, so maybe I'll just ask them. What was your schedule in school? What was a typical school day like? Did you change classes or have different teachers, or what subjects...

EY: Yeah, we changed classes, we went to different rooms. I was taking French, 'cause I was taking French back home, so I wanted to take French, too, so that I could get my units. I don't know how I did it, but anyway, I still don't remember half of what went on. So I took French and English literature. I don't know if I took math, whether English and literature was together or whether English and literature was separate, I don't remember that either. And I wonder if we had PE, physical ed. Maybe we did have physical ed., but that's only four classes, there should be one more class. French, English, math somewhere in there, maybe.

LP: Science? Did you have a science class?

EY: Oh, yes, science. There had to be in order for a student to get full credit, I think so. And for a while the college students were teachers, and then when the administration really found out that it really needed to be serious about this, then they started hiring non-Japanese from the outside. So I remember going across some article that they paid the teachers x-amount of dollar, and we only got nineteen dollars a month, that kind of thing. And today you think how unfair it was when just because we were interned and then the college students took over the instruction part of it, then they hired someone from the outside, and so unfair, that kind of thing. I remember reading something like that. But those were the times, it happened.


KL: So this is tape three, we're in an interview with Eiko Yamaichi, and I wondered if you could describe the school facility, what the classrooms were like. You said it was around Block 71, but what kind of buildings were they in?

EY: It was barracks converted into schools, so instead of just... well, wait a minute, that's not true, too. It was already sectioned off for families, so I think they left it as-is, and they assigned teachers to each room for whatever subject. So as far as I remember, the walls were bare like when we first went to camp. In fact, we didn't even have a desk for a while, we just had chairs. And the books were one of those discard kinds, and eventually I think that they were able to get a hold of more up to date subject books for all of us. I don't know that every class had those updates or not, but I think in our English class we had an update. And eventually desks but not the modern kind, it's just a table, one table, and we shared... I think some of the classes might have had individual tables. I remember one class, but not every class had that. So it might have been a budget sort of thing, so that maybe one class or one subject, I don't know, got certain equipment or not, I don't know. I don't remember microphones per se, I think teachers got up and spoke and told us what to do. They had regular blackboards, let me see now. I don't remember the science class, whether they had microscopes and stuff like that, I can't recall that.

KL: Did the teachers have desks?

EY: Maybe a table, but not a desk per se. After I left they may have had it, but at the time when we first started, there was none. It was very scarce, just enough to say that this was a classroom. Like some had tables, some we just had chairs. Like in English class, I think we had chairs facing the teacher, but in my language class I think we had one long table.

LP: Do you remember who your individual teachers were, any of their names or their backgrounds?

EY: No, can't think of that. I think it might be in the annual. They just got the picture part of it, right?

LP: Yeah. There is a faculty area of the yearbook.

EY: Yeah, Miss Righthart or Miss somebody.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: So we're back after a quick break.

LP: And so we were talking about the names of specific people that you might remember. Did you take any music classes by chance, or art classes or anything?

EY: I wished I did, I had no chance to do that.

KL: You were talking about how there were Japanese almost college students, Japanese American teachers, and then the administration got on board and brought in credentialed teachers. Can you say any more about that? Because that had to have been a pretty interesting dynamic. What do you remember about how the teachers reacted and how the students reacted?

EY: On the whole, I think all of us accepted the fact that there had to be a change eventually. Because in order for us, especially because we were seniors, that we were more aware that if we were to go on to college, and we needed some kind of a person who would fulfill the credential, whatever had to be done, and then earn our credits so that we could be accepted outside. So I think we were more aware of that more than the younger ones. And we did have a student body, there were quite a nucleus of so-called "in kids" that got together, and so it was kind of like a regular high school. I think they got approval from the administration to do that, to make it more like a high school back home, if we were still normally back there. As far as I was concerned, I thought it met the needs of a typical school. I've not heard any negative things from different people who did attend Tule Lake High School at the time. So I want to think that we were all accepting whatever it was offered to us, and that it was okay. I couldn't elaborate too much because I was not really aware, but it would be interesting to find out.

KL: So when you graduated from high school, what did you foresee for your future?

EY: Not too very much. Although just about the time we were to graduate, then this questionnaire came up. And I said, I was going "yes-yes" because I wanted to go to college out east, and I thought by answering that way, that I would have a good chance to do that. Well, it turns out, my father didn't want the families to be split yet, we were too young. And I think in the back of his mind, he knew that he needed someone to take care of Mom, and I was it. So he said, "If you're gonna go out to college, then you can't do that." I asked him, "Why? I want to go to college?" "No, you can't do that." So then in the meantime, how he answered, I have no idea, never talked about it. So we got the notice that we were going to be sent to Jerome. So I thought then that my chance of going to college is out the window, I couldn't go. And in the back of my mind, I also knew too that he needed me to take care of Mom. So anyway, we went on to Jerome.

KL: Did anyone ever approach your family about offering social services or medical care or anything for your mom?

EY: Nothing, nothing. And I think we were too naive even before war, that there was such things available for us. And if I had known then what I know now, that would have been the place to go to find out what was making her do what she was doing, and spending so much time in bed. But now that I think about it and I'm talking about it, and then I found out later on that when her sisters came from Japan, then she made herself go to a hospital. To what extent, I don't know, but this is what I'm hearing from my sister-in-law. And when she was in the hospital, her sisters from Japan went to visit her, but she never turned around and talked to them all that time. And she never went back to Japan. My father had enough money to send her there many times after the war, but she refused to go. So sadly, she passed on here, but that was her choice. I think that if she had maybe made up her mind more or whether she was in depression or what, I have no idea. But maybe if there was help, maybe she might have just gotten out of that, but I don't know. Actually, when I think about it, she had a sad life, because she never helped herself. It's kind of bad, bad in that she didn't realize how it affected my father, myself, and even the boys, you know. But I guess maybe if you're in a state of that, maybe that's the way it goes, I don't know.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

LP: Yeah, and I have, actually, questions about just your brothers and that whole dynamic. What were they doing in Tule Lake? They were, it sounds like, probably elementary school age, or maybe even getting into middle school age? So what was life like for them at Tule Lake?

EY: You know, I never had any communication with them because that's when the family structure broke up, right, in camp. So then I don't remember that my brother, especially the one next to me, whether he ate with us or not. And my younger brother, I more or less was able to say, okay, you have to be, and eat with us in our block, not go elsewhere and eat. Once in a while he would go with this friends and go eat some other block, but more or less he was pretty good about it. But my next brother, I have no idea.

LP: Was the extent of your family at Tule Lake, that was it? It was your mom, your dad, and your brothers? Was there anybody else that was in your family at Tule Lake or moving around with you?

EY: Yeah, there was just us. Because my uncle was from L.A. formerly, see, and so he was evacuated to, I think, Santa Anita assembly center. Then from there, I think, they were shipped directly to Rohwer. So I was given liberty to visit my auntie, because I told my father I'm going to go see my Auntie Mary. So they said, "Okay, you go ahead." So then I went to the office and I got a permission, that's when I found out what real discrimination was, the South. I was just totally... how would I say it? That people could be so callous and so discriminating, just because they were black over there. And my only experience, and I have to tell you, I got on the bus, which was fun, and we got to the bus depot, that's when I found out they had a drinking faucet for the blacks, drinking faucet for the whites. I didn't know where I belonged, so I figure, okay, I must be dark, so I started to do the faucet. And somebody, "Hey, you." And I looked, I was the only one happened to be at that time, so I looked around, and I went like this, and he said, "Yeah, what are you doing?" I said, "I'm drinking water." He said, "No, not there, over here." So he told me to drink out of the faucet. Okay, fine.

So then in order for me to get to Rohwer from the depot, I had to take another bus. So I paid for the ticket and I got on, and I was the first one on there, and in the bus it says, "blacks sit in the back, whites sit in the front," it says. I didn't know where I belonged, so I just paid my ticket to the driver, and I was the first one on, no one's there. And I could see the driver looking at the mirror, and eventually he says, "Where are you going?" and I'm looking around. And I turned around, I went like this again, and he said, "Yeah, you." So I pointed to the sign, and I said, "I'm going back here." He said, "No, you sit behind me." "You want me to sit behind you?" He says, "Yeah." Okay, so I sat behind the driver. So a few more got on and the black people sat back and the white people sat there. Then he started driving, we were in the highway, not a freeway, highway. And there's a family about five, parents and three kids, so the father gets out there and he's going like this to stop the bus. So he stops and he lets them on and they sit in the back, and we went on. And there were more blacks that got on than white. By the time, about the fourth stop or so, he's muttering to himself, he said, "These goddamn blacks," he says. And I heard him and I said, "How could he say that?" but that's what he must be doing every day. He passed them up, he wouldn't let them on. And I thought, "How cruel," and I thought, "Discrimination of me? That's worse." And it just stayed with me, and I think today, then I look at the Muslims and all this, so I says, "Hey, they're just the same as I am, there's no need to discriminate. And it just struck me and stayed with me, it still does. And people in the South lived like that, and I just thought, "How could they?" But that's the way of life for them, they don't think nothing of it. And when the couple of workers from the outside, white people came in to adjust our doors because our doors were not fitting correctly in the camp, in a barracks. The workers were discriminating among their own self, there were some dark carpenters and white carpenters. And I could hear the white, the cussing is saying bad things about the black carpenters, and I'm going... it's terrible. And to think that they put up with that all these years. Of course, we put up with our kind of discrimination, but to be like that and live like that, it just struck me. So when I compare that and then to myself, we were much more fortunate. Even if we had to sit way up on high, we'd go to the theater, and we want to sit down with the rest of the people, at that time, they said, "No, you have to go upstairs," where the film machine is and it's real hot," you had to sit there and watch the movie. That's discrimination, too. But they put up with it, because that's the only way we could see a film.

LP: Where was that? Where did that take place with the film?

EY: The film thing? I think Jimi was talking about being treated that way here in San Jose at that time, way back before the war. And how he was discriminated, he paid the same price as the next person, but because of his face and color, he had to sit upstairs. And so he says, "Don't tell me about discrimination, I know what it feels like." [Laughs] But I think about those people, it must hurt.

LP: Within Rohwer, was that also noticeable, the attitude of African Americans at the time and I'm just curious, even though the camp is in a setting of the outside community dealing with those things, did that permeate into the camp at all? Or did people within the camp see, like, your being observant and having this experience of recognizing discrimination just happening to another group of people? Was there any attitude at Rohwer that you noticed about African Americans?

EY: I never spoke about it. But if others did, I have no idea. I think if I was more extroverted and more sharing with people, maybe it might have been different, but I never did find out. But boy, that just hit me smack in the face, and I'll never forget it. And how they could tolerate... that's why when I read the papers today and then, you know, this so-called picking on dark people and shooting them and all that, that's so uneducated and not tolerable and understanding. In fact, a couple of years ago, down here... technology center something, and they had a showing of our bodies, anatomy and all that, and mostly it was Oriental faces, but they had the same anatomy. And when I was there, there was a grandmother and a grandson and this little boy, must be about eight years old, maybe ten, and he looked at her and he said, "You know, Grandma, if you take the skin off, we're all the same, aren't we?" And I heard that and I said, "Gee, this guy is really smart," you know? And the grandma said, "That's right." And I just, I had tears in my eyes then, I still do. But if people stop to think that, we're all the same. We shouldn't treat each other that way.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

LP: What do you recall about visiting Jerome?

EY: My auntie, visiting my auntie?

LP: Yes.

EY: Well, I was glad to see her and she was glad to see me. I hadn't seen her for quite a number of years, and so we tried to catch up on a few things. But she had three boys and the one girl. In fact, the girl was my flower girls when I got married. Now she's gone.

LP: Were there any real different things? Because I'm thinking it's kind of swampy, muggy...

EY: Yeah, it's the same as Jerome, humid, hot, swampy, very humid.

LP: In terms of just the layout, did everything seem very similar to Tule Lake?

EY: No, more like Jerome. Jerome and Rohwer were about the same.

LP: What was, when you were visiting her, what did you talk about? What was it like to see her?

EY: Yeah, I was trying to catch up on what was happening with the family, because the kids have grown, and they're about... in fact, the oldest is about my age now, so not quite, they're a couple years younger than me. It was just a one-day visit, I turned around and came home.

LP: Were you particularly close with her and that's what caused you to want to visit her?

EY: Yeah. Because she was the first one who told me about menstruation, my mother never told me. Had it not for her, I would have been scared and said, "Something's going on with me," I didn't know. My auntie explained to me, she said, "No, that's a natural thing for a girl to go through," so I said okay. She provided me the supplies that I needed, so that was okay. She meant a lot to me, because my mother never said anything.

LP: And this is your dad's sister or your mom's?

EY: No, it'd be my father's sister-in-law.

LP: Oh, okay, that's right.

EY: Because his brother's wife.

LP: And what was her demeanor? Was she very, it sounds like she was pretty nurturing.

EY: Yes, she was. She was a very caring person, very caring. Even if she suffered, she had a real hard, harsh childhood. She too had to take care of her parents, go out there and do her farmwork, and expected to do a lot of things that a grown adult would have had to do, but because she was the oldest daughter, her father made her do all these things. But by having done that, just like me, having done what I did while I was young, even as I got married and much older, it doesn't bother me to do these things. In fact, we have a lot of functions, and I'm surprised that some of these ladies, they don't like to wash the dirty pans or dishes, they don't want to get their hands dirty. It doesn't bother me. And I go out there and clean the tables with all the debris, it doesn't bother me. But a lot of the ladies, they just shy away. And there are certain ones I know, that's the way they are, so it's okay. I'll just go in there and do it. So what? Everything turns out clean later on anyway. Yeah, I've got to put with some garbage, but it's okay. Just like my auntie, said, hey, take (it) in stride, that's all part of life.

LP: And throughout your life you remained close with her in that way?

EY: Uh-huh. Because I kind of associate what I was going through and I did go through with what she went through, she had a much harsher life than I did, but both of us survived. So we have this commonness that we understand each other. So when I could, Jimi and I would drive up to a home that she was staying, and the unfortunate part of it was the home she stayed in didn't have too much activity, so all she did was sit and look outside, that's all she did. Didn't even interact with the other patients, why I don't know, but that's how she spent her life and I said, "I'm not gonna be like that."

LP: So you went back on the same day that you went to go see her, or did you spend the night there and then go back?

EY: No, I went back the same day. I did not stay there. I knew there was no bed for me, you know, being in the barrack like that, there was no spare room.

LP: How long did it take to get over there? That's quite a trip for a day.

EY: A few hours, I think. I think Jerome to the bus station wasn't too very long, and then from there to Rohwer, I don't know, might have been a half hour ride, something like that. It wasn't too far, so that I was able to spend the majority of the day there and then turn around and come home.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

LP: [Addressing KL] Do you have any questions?

KL: A few quick ones. When you took the questionnaire in 1943, where did you take it? Was it in a block manager's office or were you able to leave with it and return with it, or can you talk about that day?

EY: I don't remember how we got it, but I know that I went home and talked it over with my dad, and that's why I said, "I'm gonna say 'yes-yes' because I want to go to school outside." If I say "yes-no" or "no-no" or something, I may not be able to leave here. So by saying "yes-yes," okay, that's what I'm going to do. I remember telling my dad that that's what I was going to do, and I did do it. Then that's when my father said, "No, you can't go. If you say 'yes-yes' and then you get to go and I say 'no,' then the family will be split." And he didn't want that. So I said, "I'm still going to go 'yes-yes,' and if something happens, then that's the way it's going to be," so he said, "No, you can't do that." So he reluctantly also said "yes-yes" and my mom said "yes-yes." And, of course, the boys were too young, so they said "yes-yes." That's how come we had to move, to make room for the other dissenters to come in. However, there are families who didn't answer at all, they were not going to answer, they were going to just stay put, and whatever the government was going to do with them, that was okay with them, but they were not going to move, so they stayed in Tule Lake. So today when people say, "Oh, Tule Lake, that's a bad camp," right off the bat without even considering the fact that there were many of them who just didn't want to move anymore, so they were still okay. But sometimes it hits the wrong button, and then you want to say, "Hey, wait a minute, that wasn't a bad camp. But sometimes you think, "Why waste your breath?" kind of thing. But that's the wrong attitude to take, you need to explain to them why they made it sound like it's a bad camp, it's not a bad camp.

KL: What did your dad plan to answer before this conversation with you?

EY: Well, I think he was going to go "no-no," and I wanted to move, too. I think he started moving, although it was just one tip, but he knew that if he was sent to another camp, something might happen. Although we never really thoroughly discussed it, but the fact that I wanted to go to college and go outside, but like I say, I think my mom had a thing in there, so I never did get to go.

KL: Do you remember any broader tensions outside of your family but within Tule Lake, public discussions or pressure to...

EY: Yeah, some of my friends were saying, "Gee, I don't know how to answer that," 'cause my folks, this and that. So there was a lot of turmoil and a lot of dissensions within the family. I think especially the boys who were of the age to be inducted, I think they had a harder time. It was really a bad questionnaire, but it happened.

KL: Do you remember any specific stories from your classmates who were wrestling with that, and the repercussions? Are there any, sort of, like case studies of either draft eligible young men, or just young women who...

EY: At that time? At that time, no. But different stories are coming out now. But at that time, no, don't know. We tend to be, "don't talk about it," "do it yourself," kind of thing, attitude from our parents. "We don't want the neighbors to know," this kind of attitude, the thinking, as part of our culture. And so maybe that had a lot to do with it, too. So like Jimi says when he went to the front gate, that was when he saw some of the guys. But they never talked to one another, but in Heart Mountain they had this group where they all got together and discussed it this way and that way. But at Tule Lake, that didn't happen. Each guy had their own reason for doing what they did. And then when they got to the gate, that's when they first saw each other, "Oh, you feel the same way," kind of thing. So that was a little different. And then the fact that his group got exonerated as against all the other groups. And it's the same question that was asked of everyone, and yet, Tule Lake people were exonerated and all the others, the guys had to serve time. So it depended on a judge, they had already made up their mind that these guys said "no-no," so they're draft evaders, that kind of a thing.

LP: Was there speculation as to why the government was... I mean, there's like the actual words and the questions, but was there speculation as to why the government was asking people if they would serve or to renounce loyalty to Japan and the emperor? Do you recall any sort of conspiracy theory or any kind of hypothesis as to what...

EY: I think there was, at one time I think there were some people who were thinking that it was a conspiracy, and then also to find out who was thinking that way and who was thinking the other way and all that, kind of thing. I think there was some of that, but I was not ever involved in that, so I have no idea. Because a lot of the guys that appeared at the gate, they were totally unaware of each other's thinking until they got there. So I'm not surprised that it would be the same in other camps except Heart Mountain, because they had that group.

LP: When you say "got to the gate," I'm not sure what that means. Is there a line?

EY: No, gate being that when they got to Tule Lake, the entrance gate to the camp, that's when they first saw each other. Up until then, each person who went, or showed up because they had to show up, did not discuss with each other how they answered that question. So some of them were surprised to see each other. In fact, there was one friend that I know personally who was one of them, but he never, never spoke about it to his family, to no one. And the only time I think they found out was after he passed on, something in his belongings, the kids were going through, and that's where they found out, "Gee, Dad was 'no-no.'" But never once talked about it. Of course, Jim knew who he was, but he never said anything to anyone. It was none of his business. So each guy had their own reason for not talking about it, nor telling who was there. They never revealed, and I think that's out of respect for each other. But of the whole group, Jimi's the only one that come out and said it, that he was one of them.

LP: Do you think that your parents, when they got this questionnaire, they might not have talked about things in detail to some extent, or it was kind of, you're having this sort of elephant in the room kind of conversation with your dad about why you should or shouldn't be answering a certain way because of your mom. But do you think, putting that aside, there was any concern over eventually, like, the 1945 renunciations, did that just seem, like, so far out of the picture that that wasn't even part of the equation?

EY: You know, I can't even recall even discussing about it. So I really don't know what their true feeling was, except the fact that, about me staying with the family. So I really couldn't answer that, but it'd be interesting to find out from different ones how their parents discussed this, or did they. I think a majority of the families rarely discussed it. As far as I know, most of my friends, I don't think they even talked about it. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. I'm assuming, but my own family didn't.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

LP: I think the last thing about Tule that I was wondering, if you could describe, you mentioned the auditorium where the school being burned down, was that after you left?

EY: After I left. I read about it in the camp paper, and I see different pictures of it. Very unfortunate that it happened, because at last we had a building that was a school, like back home school, not one of the barracks. But whoever torched it or how it happened, I don't know, but they still claim it's an arson. But whoever did that wasn't really thinking, I think, that it symbolized so much more than just a building, it meant more.

LP: Were there any other, kind of, major events that transpired on that level that you recall while you were at Tule Lake, like rioting? Because I'm just thinking of how tumultuous the latter half of Tule Lake becomes as a segregation center, with more outward protesting.

EY: No, 'cause while I was there, none of that happened. Although I found out later, at one of the pilgrimages, that they had a Japanese school, and there was a man who taught Japanese, and he was teaching the way they did it in Japan, which is okay. But if a student was not performing the way he expected, he would get this bamboo thing and slap him on the back. And do you know that one pilgrimage, this one lady came, she was one of the students, and she was picked up. And also, the professor who was teaching, was also at the pilgrimage the same time. So how she got herself onto the program, I don't know, but we were sitting in the bleachers in the gym at Tule Lake there, and anyway, she got up and she told how she studied Japanese while everyone was learning English, so that when she got on the outside, she was two years behind, because she concentrated on Japanese. Although she became fluent in Japanese, she could read and write and all that thing, but at the same time, she says she was disciplined so bad, it carried on into her marriage. And do you know that the professor was sitting there, he finally got a hold of her after all said and done, he looked her up and he just apologized, he cried, and she said, "I didn't know that the way I treated the students would mar the child so badly that it would carry on to adult life like it did her." And he apologized profusely. And she finally was able to let go of it, but all those years she carried it with her, and because of him, she's acting the way she did in her everyday life. And once he apologized, she said she felt like a rock just rolled off her shoulders. Isn't that amazing? And the fact that he apologized to her, it meant more to her than... "All these years," she said, "I carried it." I talked to her afterward, and she said, "All these years I carried that with me, how cruel he was, just to learn Japanese. For what?" But she said, "I learned a lot, I have to admit that. But boy," she said, "that scar never went away until that pilgrimage."

LP: I have one quick question about the pilgrimages before we get into going to other sites. But is that typical? I'm like a newcomer to attending the pilgrimages, and I know that they've been something that's been this multilayered process for people, there's healing, there's learning, and it seems like over time it's also evolved so that people that are totally ignorant to incarceration during this time period in general, or even Tule Lake are able to learn and to engage and whatnot. So since Jimi is like poster child for this pilgrimage and he's really involved, and you're obviously very close with him, and you're someone who was at Tule Lake pre-segregation, and probably has attended many, many pilgrimages and been heavily involved in them. Is that typical that people who were at Tule Lake have these experiences, all go to a pilgrimage, or is that really unique that that person is able to make a connection?

EY: I want to say that it's unique, but I think it depends on the individual. And like my sister-in-law went, but she took it like, "Well, so?" And I was kind of surprised that she took it that way. Then there's others who had a couple from Santa Cruz, she said her husband was always angry, he was bitter at the government for having taken away his freedom and liberty those years that he was young then, and he was always not really a happy person. So when she went to the pilgrimage, then had the intergenerational discussion, then he found out that he was not the only one who felt that way and it was okay for him to feel that way, but found out it was not fair to those who were around him. That included his wife and his children. So she said, when we had our reunion, she came to me and she said, "Do you know that after I went to the pilgrimage and even on the way home, my husband was a changed person?" And he admitted to her and even apologized that he was just an angry person that he took it out on her. Then he finally realized that he was not the only one, and that the government did not just choose him to be treated that way, that there were so many others that were treated worse, and that he apologized for being the crummy guy that he was. [Laughs] And then she said, "I have a happy camper now, our marriage is much better," and going to the pilgrimage was a really healing experience for both of them. And that was kind of nice to hear, and there's more stories like that. And so I would like to answer your question to say that I think it's more like a healing process for those of us who really experienced it. And hopefully those who, young people who come to the pilgrimage will get a little bit of why it happened, how it happened, and why the grandparents are the way they are, and maybe some of their parents are the way they are. And hopefully they'll understand that some of the things that we do and say may not be natural, but because of our experience, we just automatically react the way we do. So there are a few people who admit that, yeah, in fact, Jim was saying that in his group one time, there was a couple who couldn't understand why his parents were the way they were, and finally found out that they sacrificed so much in camp that they were more on the skimpy side and not very free with their money and all. And the kids couldn't understand why they couldn't get this or that. But the father suffered so much that he was really counting his pennies, you might say. And in fact, at the generation, both of them, husband and wife, cried, and they finally found out why their parents were the way they were. And it's kind of nice to hear things like that, and that when they go home, they're going to be much more kinder to their parents because they found out what sacrifice they made while in camp. It's good to hear that. So on the bus going up, we always ask, "Why are you here?" and some older generations said, "I'm here because my grandkids want me to come." [Laughs] And the grandkids would say, "Oh, no, what happened to Grandma, she never talks about it. But if I go, I might learn something," that kind of a thing. So then on the way home, we asked, "Well, how was it? Was it worth all that?" Said, "Yeah." That's good. And even the young ones say, "Yeah, I'm glad I came. Now I know where Grandpa was, and gee, what a barren place it was, and how he experienced it all." So to me, I think pilgrimage is worth having, even if it creates so much work for all the young ones, but they're willing to give up their time knowing that they still work eight hours a day and still they're willing to come out and help process all this. So we old timers really appreciate what the young kids are doing, because they want history to be told and not just sit there. So sometimes I ask, "How come you're volunteering? Your plate's full already, why do you want to add some more to it?" "There's good history there and people need to know that the government could do these things." Okay.

LP: The pilgrimages are so... well, the one that I went to was so amazing, and everything I've heard from everybody else who's attended them has really been moved by them. So I feel that they're incredibly important.

EY: Yeah, you know, for the longest time, I didn't think it was. In fact, we didn't talk about it to our kids, they didn't know about it. Then we went on our first trip, then we realized the necessity of it all, because there wasn't much out there. So we've been involved since then.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

LP: So, I guess, let's talk about leaving Tule Lake and what you recall about Tule Lake and putting that behind you physically and moving on.

EY: The question was?

LP: Well, what do you recall about leaving Tule Lake?

EY: What was my...

LP: What do you remember about leaving Tule Lake?

EY: Well, another was, "Here we go again, going to another camp." I was still fifteen and a half, maybe sixteen. "Now what?" kind of a thing. Still not knowing what's going to happen to us, because we didn't know our future. Would we ever get out of camp? Are they gonna keep us there? What's gonna happen to us? What if I don't get accepted to a college? What's gonna happen? That kind of question.

LP: Where did you go to after Tule Lake?

EY: To Jerome. And then the government decided they needed a place to house the German prisoners, so they said, "Okay, Jerome." So they said once again we were moved from Jerome to Gila, Arizona. So we had to pack up and go again, and we went to hot country. Arizona was hot, dry, with all the succulents and all that.

LP: How long of that time period were you at Jerome?

EY: Not even a whole year, I think. Or maybe it could have been, I don't know. But I was a dishwasher. [Laughs] It was close to home.

LP: Had you ever, you had never been to the South I assume? So what was your impression of that climate?

EY: I thought, oh boy, this is hot. So like Fresno, Pinedale, it seemed like it was hotter because Pinedale, you didn't see succulents. Over there in Arizona, you see a lot of succulents. Dry, hot, sandy.


KL: Okay, this is tape four, it's Kristen Luetkemeier who's taking over as interviewer for an interview with Eiko Yamaichi. And I wondered first, so we started talking a little bit about your time in Jerome. Would you just compare Tule Lake to Jerome, how were they different, how were they similar?


KL: You were saying the weather?

EY: Yeah. First of all, the weather was so different, so humid and hot, and muggy. In fact, I got a bloody nose at Jerome and it just wouldn't stop, so I ended up in the hospital, and I just remember eating jell-o. And I don't know what they did to it, but I was there a whole day from a bleeding nose. Such, I don't know whether it was an adjustment between Tule Lake and Jerome or what it was that caused it, doctors never told me, but I landed in the hospital for that, bleeding nose.

KL: Was the hospital similar or different to Tule Lake?

EY: Seemed like there was more at Jerome than there was at Tule Lake, I don't know why. But of course, at Tule Lake, I never did wander around to find out anyway, but the fact that I was a patient at Jerome was a little different. But I was treated very cordially, and the nurses were good.

KL: What about the population at Jerome and Tule Lake? Did you notice any differences?

EY: Oh, much more. Tule Lake had too many, but yeah, there were many, many people at Tule Lake compared to Jerome. And our living quarters was much more nicer in Jerome, they had a lot of flowers and bushes because of the humidity, I think, they thrived. And our porches... in fact, the barracks were like so, but we had porches that faced each other, so that when we got up in the morning and got out the door, "Good morning," it was just like everybody else around here. Whereas in Tule Lake it was different. So they had the porch and we had the doors for each one close together, so if you opened the door, you could just say hi to your neighbors. Whereas the other camps, even in Gila, the doors were not that way. Just the Jerome, Arkansas, was that, so it was just kind of neighborhood friendly kind of thing. So that was nice, we got to know each other there.

KL: Who were your neighbors?

EY: Gee, I can't even remember their names. One was a professor, I remember that. They always dressed nicely, too. No, I can't remember them.

KL: When you moved from Tule Lake, it was the same time as, I assume, a number of other people came from Tule Lake. Were you integrated into Jerome or was there a separate Tule Lake section?

EY: Separate. Once we left, then we vacated our barracks, then I think the groups were, I think someone coordinated that, so that we left as they came in, the "no-nos." I don't know that for a fact, but I think that would make sense, because we had to make room for those incoming persons.

KL: Do you recall your Jerome address?

EY: No, I don't, but I have that.

KL: Would you describe the location of where you were in the camp, in Jerome?

EY: I want to say I was close to... it's not that either. Let's see, the swamp...

KL: That's okay, we can look it up later. So I think you guys, the roster says you arrived in Jerome in September 25, 1943, does that sound about right?

EY: Yeah, that's about right.

KL: So right after that, in October of 1943, there was a group of lumberjacks coming back into the camp and a truck overturned and a guy was killed and other people were hurt, there were calls for a strike and some other strikes had been going on.

EY: In Jerome?

KL: Yeah.

EY: I don't remember.

KL: Do you remember any tensions in Jerome?

EY: [Shakes head].

KL: Do you remember Hawaiian people in Jerome?

EY: No. Very naive, I'll tell you.

KL: You mentioned, you were thinking about attending college at that time. Did you work with any student relocation group? How were you pursuing college?

EY: Nothing, actually, just my thought was I want to get out of here and I want to go to school. I never really made any active inquiries or anything like that. But in the back of my mind, I knew that I could not because of my mother. That's why I really didn't pursue it. Verbally I'm telling my dad, "I want to get out, I want to go to college." But I never really pursued that. In fact, I was even thinking of joining the WACs, remember, Women's Army Corps or WAVE, Women's Navy thing. But always in the back of my mind was my mom, so I never really pursued it.

KL: You mentioned the trip to Rohwer to visit your aunt. Did you ever leave Jerome any other time?

EY: No, never did. That was the one and only time.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: Did you have a job in Jerome?

EY: Yeah, I was a dishwasher.

KL: Oh, that's right. Were you washing dishes in the same mess hall as where you lived?

EY: Yeah, it was in our block, so it was hop, skip and jump, I didn't have to go anywhere too far. So that's how I chose that. Although I'd rather prefer being in the office, that's where I was in Gila, I was in a canteen.

KL: So what was a typical daily routine in Jerome?

EY: Well, washing dishes three times a day, right? Morning, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and that was all, it was just a short span, but it was something to do, and gave me twelve dollars a month.

KL: Did the twelve dollars continue to go kind of to the family pot?

EY: Family pot. Everything was in the family pot. Even my two brothers didn't work, so it was just my father and myself. So he made sixteen and I made twelve, so how much is that? That's all we had for a whole month.

KL: What was his job in Jerome?

EY: Let me see, I don't know if he went back to the hospital as a cook or not, or whether he worked as a cook in the mess hall, I don't remember.

KL: Larisa asked basements in Tule Lake. Do you remember any basements in Jerome?

EY: I don't know. I don't think so, because if you did, it would be the swamps down below, and so I don't think so. And because it was so humid and hot, I don't know that they would even take the time to do that, knowing that there might be a swamp on the bottom. So maybe there were that I was totally unaware of.

KL: What about gardens or other landscaping or fish ponds?

EY: Oh, yeah, there were, like in Manzanar, there were people who were active doing that. That's why there were, some blocks were much more prettier and homier because the evacuees were much more into gardening or making little ponds or something.

KL: Do you remember any specifically? Can you describe what they look like or where they were?

EY: No. Just very picturesque. [Laughs] It's such a short stay, too. I wasn't going to school.

KL: What else were you... were you taking any classes, or was it pretty much work and caring for your mom?

EY: Yeah. I didn't go take any classes at all. Too bad, because there were so many offered. In fact, I think that's the first time that all the farmers' wives had a chance of doing something that they enjoyed doing instead of, you know, like Jim's mother, like being a farmer's wife. And when the weather was bad, she would take apart the jeans and mend the jeans and put it together so the kids could all have good wearable jeans during the summer and all that. My mom never did things like that, and I didn't have the time, looking after her and all that. So I regret that part, because a lot of people were involved, the men were involved, the women were involved, kids were doing whatever, and I never had that chance. So then when this chance came up to go to class, I said, "Oh, go." So even if I worked, I didn't work eight hours a day. Sometimes I did, but mostly six hours a day, so I had a chance to go to class for this.

KL: How many hours a day did you work in Jerome?

EY: Probably maybe six hours, huh? Because doing the dishes, probably two hours, two hours a day. Two, four, six hours a day times seven.

KL: How was the cook in your mess hall?

EY: In my mess hall? He was okay. Actually, he was a gardener, he wasn't really a cook per se, but he was trying to be creative and do whatever. So it was okay, it's a little bit better than Tule Lake, but it was edible. I wouldn't say delicious, but at least we filled our tummies, anyway.

KL: Do you remember his name?

EY: No, I don't.

KL: But he was a gardener?

EY: Yeah, by profession he was a gardener. And another person was a farmer, so they had a variety of people making our dinner, breakfast.

KL: Did your mess hall have any kind of garden or pond outside of it?

EY: See, the one in Jerome, it seemed like it was a little fancier than the one in Tule Lake, in that I felt that their equipment was more modernized. I don't know whether it was just me or whether I wasn't that observant while I was in Tule Lake or not, but seemed like it, I don't know. But it was all picnic tables everywhere we went, Tule Lake, Jerome, Gila, it was all picnic tables.

KL: Are there other places in Jerome that you spent any time besides the mess hall or your barrack?

EY: Uh-uh, just in our barrack and the mess hall, that's about it.

KL: Were you part of any religious community in Jerome?

EY: No, not at all.

KL: Do you remember ever soldiers from Camp Shelby coming into Jerome or having any connection with Nisei soldiers?

EY: No. I heard about it, I don't know how the conversation came up with someone, "Did you know that they were there?" I said, "No." [Laughs] News to me. No, I didn't know. So I think that the ladies who were involved had to be a little older, maybe in their early twenties.

KL: It sounds like you were pretty busy with work, both at home and in the mess hall. And it's kind of a weird time after you were done with school, but were you able to make any friends in Jerome, any good friends?

EY: I knew faces, but not to establish a friendship.

KL: So there are two people who became pretty well-known activists and writers who were in Jerome. One is Yuri Kochiyama and one is Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga. Did you ever hear their names?

EY: Yeah, I heard their names after...

KL: Later?

EY: Yeah, relocation. Is Yoshinaga the person who writes for the Rafu Shimpo? Not him? Or is he the musician Yoshinaga, I don't know.

KL: She wrote one of the first books about Japanese American incarceration, sort of, start to finish, and she discovered evidence about, you know, the reports that said that it wasn't necessary to incarcerate Japanese Americans.

EY: No, I'm not familiar then.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: [Addressing LP] Did you have questions about Jerome? Are there other things you want to include about Jerome, either people or... like when someone says "Jerome," is there any kind of an image or even a smell or anything that comes to mind?

EY: About the South, that's it, brings it back.

KL: Yeah, that was really eloquent, you guys already covered some of the deep questions about how you dealt with this very black/white segregated society.

EY: Yeah. So when they say Jerome, I think of that all the time. Because had I not experienced it myself, I would have a hard time really believing that people could do that to each other. But having experienced it, more so.

KL: Was the army presence or the security any different between Tule Lake and Jerome?

EY: When I was in Tule Lake, it wasn't that bad. Although at one time I remember the army tanks facing Tule Lake camp. And I don't know how long they were there, but that one time when I saw that, I wondered why it was so necessary, because we were not criminals. But as far as Jerome was concerned, there was no such thing. I think they were free to come and go if they wanted to do so. But the thing is, where would you go in the swampy land, and be eaten by a crocodile or something. So why not just stay put, kind of thing. I don't have too many memories about Jerome.

KL: Did you hear any rumors there about local people felt about the camp, the Japanese Americans?

EY: I know I heard rumors after Tule Lake. When we started the pilgrimage and how the local peoples felt about it, they resented the fact that we were there, because some of them were uprooted because they were in the way of the camp. So those people were really angry because, "Why, just to house the Japs, we had to give up our land? And we had rationing, you people had food." We had food, but what kind of food? Not like what you had, you had a choice to buy whatever you want, even if it was rationed. We didn't have any choice, we just had to eat what was given to us. So it's different. And I remember this one lady, she was going on and on about how rough a time she had outside and how we had it so good in camp. But I tried to explain to her nicely that, "It was your choice to do whatever you want, you could go wherever you want, you could get in a car and go wherever you wanted, or if you want to walk to wherever, you could do that. In a camp, you couldn't even do that. And she finally realized that there was a big difference. Yes, I had more freedom than you, but you didn't have the freedom I had. That's what I'm trying to tell you, that's the difference. And even if you had to ration your sugar, we didn't have any rationing book, the government took care of that, so we don't know anything about rationing. So she really started backing off when I tried to explain to her what we had to put up with. And you people, you had a choice. You could do whatever you wanted, we had no choice. So please understand that yes, we had it rough just like you had it rough, but it was different. She finally backed off and she said, "I'm sorry." And it was good to hear her say that, because she was out to get, and ram it into me that you had it better than I did. I said, "I beg your pardon, it's not that way."

KL: And she was a Tule Lake resident?

EY: She was a Tule Lake resident, yeah. And Jimi and I went to their Rotary Club and went to their different organization they had, to say, "How do you feel if we continue with our pilgrimage?" and all this kind of thing. Some of them were really, "I'm a redneck and I still carry a gun in my truck," that kind of people. And there were others that was, "Oh, maybe it's okay. And some of these people like her blamed us because they were uprooted. It wasn't our choice, the government did that. You can't take it out on us, it's not us. So she finally realized it, but some people still don't realize it.

KL: Have you been back to Jerome or the new museum of McGehee or any of the Little Rock exhibits or anything?

EY: Yes. We went when they had the all-camps reunion when Japanese American National Museum put it on, we went to that one. And we also went to another one where they had Jerome reunion, Jerome and Rohwer combination reunion, we went to that. We went to the Arizona reunion, too.

KL: Were those, the Arkansas reunions, were those out in Arkansas or were they here?

EY: It was in... yeah, it was in Arkansas.

KL: What were those like?

EY: It was nice in that also it brought back a lot of memories for us. We talked about the swamp land and all that. Other than that, it wasn't bad because there was not that many security or guard towers around, like Jimi keeps talking about that. But because it was not a segregation center, it was just a regular camp-camp, so it was okay.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: So you went from Jerome to Gila River, why... I know you mentioned the POW camp, but do you know why Gila River had that happen?

EY: I don't know. Because Gila River had two camps, Poston had three camps within itself. And we were in Camp 1 in Gila, that's where I met my girlfriend and we were real good friends. And even after we relocated and I was a housegirl, she was a housegirl, and that's how we made our ends meet. Then she worked for a Jewish family, I worked for a Jewish family, we became good friends.

KL: How did you meet?

EY: In Gila. And she's actually from an entertainment family. Her father played the shamisen, Japanese guitar, and mother, I think... I forgot what she did. And then she sang, and sister I think played an instrument. And so I don't know, we just clicked together. And then she worked in the canteen, I worked in the canteen, so we really got along. She was more entertaining, but me, naive me, I just went along with her. But we did get along, our personalities were almost the same. So all these years we've kept in touch, and she lost her husband about four years ago, so here we are. And Jimi's more involved in the community than her husband ever was, so there's a fine separation there. But I never talk about it. And she's in the entertainment field, and she's with the Chidori band, (they are) the local band that we have here in San Jose. She's retired now, she doesn't sing anymore.

KL: What is her name?

EY: Masayo Arii, A-R-I-I.

KL: Is that her married name?

EY: Yeah, married name. Her maiden name was, oh boy, Yasui, Y-A-S-U-I.

KL: Is Camp 1, is that Canal camp or Butte?

EY: Pardon?

KL: You said you were in Camp 1 in Gila River. Is that the one people refer to as Canal or Butte?

EY: I don't know how they separated camp 1 and 2, but anyway, we were assigned to go to Camp 1 and Block 4, that's where I was, Block 4. She was in, I forgot what block she was in.

KL: What was your job in the canteen?

EY: Something to do with invoices. When the manager ordered something, then we had to make sure that the item that he ordered coincided with the invoice that was listed there. It was a fun place to work, there was quite a few of us. [Laughs]

KL: Lots of young people?

EY: Yeah, young people.

KL: Who else do you remember from there besides the South?

EY: Well, we got together and just chitter chattered like teenagers do. And I think that was more fun than anything else for me, yeah. So it's nice to be with young people my age.

KL: Better than washing dishes.

EY: Oh, yeah. [Laughs]

KL: Did you ever have any encounters with tribal members?

EY: With who?

KL: With tribal members, with Indian people?

EY: No, I didn't. In fact, when you're talking about tribal, I had a girlfriend in Washington before the war, her name was Regina Moses, she was a tribal member. And she was quiet, she didn't say too much, but she was in all my classes. Said, "Hey, Regina, how you doing?" kind of thing. But we never really talked one to one. Too bad, because I could have learned a lot about her tribal culture and all that, but didn't do that.

KL: Did you hear anything in Gila River about the tribes or other local people or what they thought about the camp?

EY: No, nothing.

KL: What about when you went back to visit? Did you have any encounters at that time?

EY: No... yeah, we went to former barracks of a certain block, I didn't know what block it was, but they had converted it into part of a store. And they didn't really keep up the barracks, and I was making the comment that there were so many children, why didn't they continue to use the barrack as classrooms for the tribal kids. Never got an answer, but they had, used one barrack for something, and we got to go in there. I think we just used part of a sail thing, I don't know what it was, I couldn't make sure what it was. But they were all members of a tribe, yeah. And I think... where were we? They were still primitive in that they don't use... the government didn't provide electricity for them, and we were talking to some of the kids, and, "Where do you live?" Said, "Over there," and they're pointing at it and I couldn't tell where it was. But there was no telephone poles or nothing, so I guess they still live primitively. And I thought, gee, this day and age, what is it, year 2000, by now you would think that the government would provide something. But I don't know.

KL: Yeah, that's one of the things I read about Gila River, that there was no electricity for preexisting local residents, and then when the camp closed, the government took everything useful away and just left, like, the concrete slabs and stuff, so people couldn't even farm or do anything in that area.

EY: That doesn't make sense, does it? But that's what they did.

KL: Are there any other people that stand out about your time in Gila River, either that you knew personally or that were kind of leaders in the camp?

EY: Gee, I don't think so. Because the person that I did know, I think he passed on. He worked in the canteen with me, couldn't even think of his name. But I used to see him occasionally in San Francisco.

KL: He was in the canteen, too, you said?

EY: Uh-huh. He was much older than us, he used to flirt with us all the time. [Laughs] You think I remember his name? No, but I still see his face, though, always smiling. But no, I can't recall any other person.

KL: What about... these are some of the same questions I had for Gila River, but what about landscaping or gardens or ponds or anything?

EY: Gee, not as much as... at least the few places that I went, I didn't see as many as the one in Jerome. Whether it was because of the weather, or whether the people just were not active, I have no idea, but there wasn't as many.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: Overall, how did Gila River compare to Jerome and Tule Lake? Same kind of what was different, what was similar, question?

EY: First of all, I think all of us were all in the same situation, we're all in camp, we're confined. So I think majority of it was, I would like to think that we all got along, there might have been dissentions, but outwardly we were very respectful of each other. I don't think there was any animosity unless there was a personal vendetta or something going on. I was not aware of those things. Of course, the weather had a lot of difference there, and camp life... I talk about firebreaks in Tule Lake, but I can't recall firebreaks in either of the other camps. And I don't know whether it was because Tule Lake was so large whereas Jerome and Gila was not as large. Maybe it was, but in my eye, it didn't seem that way. Although I would think that if the government felt it needed one over in Tule Lake, they would do so in all the other camps. I don't know about Heart Mountain, Jimi would know that, I don't know. But in Jerome, I don't recall a firebreak, nor do I recall one in Gila. I think that, like in Tule Lake, when we went in, there was a group from Washington, so we were kind of in a section of our own. And then when people from Oregon went, they had a piece. And then so all the barracks and blocks, I should say, were more people who knew one another. But through, I think, school, and I think with social life, I think they started too, so that was nice. For me, I have to say that had it not been for the camps, I would not have met him in the first place. He was in... I never knew him during my time in camp.

KL: Jimi?

EY: No, I never knew him. But it was interesting that when Tule Lake had the reunion, class reunion, well, the 250 people who did attend, there was only one couple who married. But those others, they knew one another, and eventually got married outside, not here in camp. And so it was interesting, of all the 250 people there, when they ask, "How many of you are married?" most of us were married. [Laughs] Lot of times just majority, more singles than there are married people, but this time most of us were married, and few still single. So that was interesting. Who came from the furthest away, some were from Japan that came, so that was the furthest away, that kind of thing.

KL: I kind of am curious about how you and Jimi met, but I want to save that for a minute and ask you first if you have any memories attached to nighttime at Gila River.

EY: No, I can't remember. All I know is once in a while I'd see, like she asked about the sky and all that. Each place I'd see the sky and the stars. But other than that...

KL: Pretty bright stars in Jerome, too?

EY: Uh-huh.

KL: And what about encounters with unusual animal life in Gila River or in Jerome?

EY: Animal life? None.

KL: Well, are there other things you wanted to record about Gila River, about your time there?

EY: Well, only thing is that I was real happy that I met my girlfriend Massie, that we connected so well. But other than that, sometime at the canteen in the office, those two things are more memorable.

KL: Was that an eight-hour a day job?

EY: Yes, it was.

KL: What was your salary there?

EY: Sixteen dollars. And professionals got nineteen, right, the doctors?

KL: Yeah, and you said your father worked in Gila River but you're not sure what his job was?

EY: No, I don't remember what he was doing. Probably cook, but I'm not sure.

KL: [Addressing LP] Did you have any questions about Gila River?

LP: There is one story that somebody shared with me was about a man, an elderly man, missing from Gila River? He liked to wander outside of the camp or something and they never found him. Did you ever hear anything like that?

EY: I heard that story, but I didn't know whether it was in Gila or where, which camp it was. That he was hard of hearing and he didn't hear the MP telling him to stop, and he got closer to the fence, and so he got shot at. I don't know whether he had a dog or he was chasing something that one of the child, or a ball that a child had thrown and got close to the fence and was trying to retrieve that. I don't know whether that's the same story or not, whether it was the dog there or whether it was a ball. But I heard that story but I don't know which camp.

LP: Was there ever a story about someone wandering outside of Gila River, like getting outside of the fence and just disappearing and never being found again?

EY: No, I'm not aware of that.

LP: The dog thing though did give me a question. So one of the, I think it's the Tulean Dispatch, at some point references a dog show happening at Tule Lake. Are you, how did people get dogs in camp? Because people couldn't take their pets, right?

EY: Well, that's a question, because I sure don't know. I mean, unless their friend on the outside was able to sneak it in or something. It's just like they say about bootlegging in Tule Lake, you heard that story?

LP: No.

EY: Oh. You know when a party passes on, and they get put into a coffin, but before they do that, they have to take the body to the mortuary. I heard stories about having that put into the cavity, or when the mortician came back and the coffin was there with the body, then it was loaded with alcohol, and that's how the body came in, with the alcohol in the coffin, and that's how some men got their liquor, I don't know whether that's true or not.

LP: Were you aware of anyone, like I know some people were able to ferment things and brew things and stuff. Do you remember anyone being able to do a home brew of some kind in their barrack?

EY: I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. No, I don't know, I haven't heard that one. But could be, I'm not surprised.

LP: I would have done it. [Laughs]

KL: Well, you could have.

EY: You read that? Then I'm sure it happened.

KL: I think I have a guess about what your answer might be, but I asked what you, when you hear the words Jerome, what you think of. I had the same question for Gila River. When you hear the words Gila River, what comes to mind instinctively?

EY: I think I would say that my time at the canteen, yeah, because that was nice. I was able to meet different people, then I made this friendship with my friend, lasted all these years, and I think that's neat. Although I don't see her that often now, but I don't know. Of course, hot. [Laughs]

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

KL: So when did you leave Gila River? It says in the roster August 27, 1945. Was it pretty late?

EY: Yeah, I think so because it wasn't, I think it was kind of in the fall kind of thing. And we all each got twenty-five dollars apiece, and okay, you're free to go where you want to go kind of thing. And since my father had already expressed his desire to go to Los Angeles, I said, "Okay, we're not going back home to Snoqualmie, and that's fine with me." And so we got there... I don't know how he found a place for us to stay, but it was with this Jewish family in Pasadena, and Grandpa lived with them. And I forgot what the father of the house did for a living, but he had a nice house in Pasadena, and he was willing to take all... see, four of us, 'cause my brother next to me was in Chicago just before he was inducted. So there was just the four of us. My brother Gary and my folks and myself, so there was four of us, so Grandpa took three of them, my mom and dad and then my brother Gary. And he even told my brother that his job was to make sure the wastebaskets were always empty every day. That's all he had to do, and he also wanted my brother to take a musical instrument, so they had a piano, a grand piano. So my grandpa made arrangements for my brother to go to the piano teacher and learn now to play piano. He was so gracious about that. So my brother, that's how he got trained to play piano, and that was his recreation. But we were very impressed because he didn't have to do that, but Grandpa wanted to do that for my brother. Because my brother liked to sing, too, so maybe he heard him humming or something, and I guess he decided that no, Gary, he just can't go to school and just do nothing. So that's how he learned to play the piano. But after that, then in the meantime, I looked for a job in a home, too, and worked for a Jewish family in Pasadena. But they decided to take a vacation the first two weeks of when school started, Pasadena junior college. So after I registered and I got my books, then I came back and I went to school. But I had to catch up because I lost ten days already. And I stayed up and studied 'til one, two o'clock in the morning, and finally by the tenth day, it was just too much, I couldn't catch up. So finally I had to quit. In the meantime, over here my mom was calling me saying, "We need money, we have to survive, we can't live like this." So I finally quit college, and then I moved to another home and I worked, this was in Beverly Hills, I worked for a producer who made horror films. It was a teenager, so I had to kind of keep an eye on them, son and daughter. Stayed there for a while. And I moved again to another home in Beverly Hills, and then the man of the house was working for his father who invented the first nylon hosiery.

KL: We owe him so much.

EY: Yeah. I still have a couple pairs that he made, and I haven't worn it, it's still there. Anyway, so I was all around general person, and they had a nanny from, I think she was from Scotland, and she took care of two little ones. And one day she said, "Eiko, let me..." we were having tea, and she said, "Eiko, let me have a look at your tea leaves." I said, "What for?" She said, "I want to see it," so I did. And she looked at it and she said, "One of these days you're going to meet a fellow from the north," she says. I don't know anybody from the north, so I let it go. [Laughs] Then I was at my girlfriend's place, she was also a housemaid at another place, and her parents were well-to-do, that they were able to put a down on a home in... there's a section in L.A. But it was a small house, but it was their own. And so my friend would go home on the Thursday, we all got a day off on Thursday, maid's day off on Thursday. So she said, "Why don't you come visit me and relax at my mom's house?" I said, okay, so I got on the bus and I went over there. And she was there, so while she was there, we visited with her brothers, and then Jim comes along, and he knew the brothers. And at the time, I thought, oh gee, he seems like a pretty nice guy, but that was it. So anyway, we all went back to work, and six months later. But in the meantime, my father decided that he didn't want to work for the family, so he found a place to stay in Japantown in Los Angeles. And it was in the slum area, and the man had enough money to put a down on this hotel in that section off of First Street in Los Angeles. And he made the lobby into two rooms, so the man agreed to let my father rent this two rooms. One was the bedroom, the front part, and then the other part was my bedroom, which was just army cot, and it became a kitchen and living room, which was okay, because I was just, I was the only daughter, so it didn't matter. Anyway, one day the hotel owner knocks on the door and said, "There's a telephone call for you." Said, "I don't know anybody." Said, "Well, anyway, there's a telephone call." And he says, "This is Jim," says, "Okay." So he says, "I want to come by someday." "Okay, that's fine." Okay, so I'm going about my life, I was working at a produce house where they handle wholesale produce, the produce market. So this one evening, I'd just taken my bath, got into my pajamas, and I rolled up my hair, I had long hair then. And I rolled it up, put it in curlers, and I was ready to hop in bed. Then I get a knock on the door, and I peeked in, there was Jimi with another friend. I said, "Oh, my god," I just slammed the door, took the curlers off my hair, jumped out of my pajamas and wore my everyday clothes, and I said, "Okay, come on in," kind of a thing, you know. [Laughs] And then we started going out together, and he always had a friend named George, and those two guys, they were close friends. And so wherever we'd go, there was always three of us. That was fine. And we'd go to a restaurant, we'd ordered food, and George and I are slow eaters, but Jimi comes from a large family. And we're still working on our first food, our dinner yet, and I think he felt a little embarrassed so he ordered another entree. To this day I still talk about that. And then by the time he finished his entree, we were finally finished with our first one. So we talk about that a lot. And then took me to Santa Monica, and Frank Sinatra was just getting started, skinny kid, and he's up there, and Tommy Dorsey was laying, you know, that band leader? Then Tommy Dorsey started to sing "Stardust," are you familiar with "Stardust," that song?

LP: I think so.

EY: Anyway, he started singing "Stardust" and we were dancing, and then I guess that became our theme song. And after that, six months, we went around together, and six months we were engaged, and then we were married, here we are. [Laughs] Anyway, it was a short romance, but we've been together sixty-nine years now, so I guess it's okay.

KL: What year was it that you married?

EY: '49. 1949.

KL: Where did you guys live right after you were married?

EY: Here in San Jose. In fact, we got married in the Buddhist church, that minister, he speaks more Japanese than English, so in his so-called broken English, he married us, but I didn't know what he was saying, 'cause his accent was so offbeat. But at the end, I guess, I figured, okay, we're married. That was funny, we talk about that, too.

KL: Did you ever find out what you promised during the ceremony?

EY: No, we just took it for granted. And we didn't have a place to stay, so my father-in-law, they still had the ranch, so the bunkhouse. Actually, during the war, the bunkhouse housed the workers that were helping the people who kind of rented the ranch while we were incarcerated, and then also it became a chicken coop. So then when the family returned, the renters were still there, so they had no place to go, so they had to live in the chicken coop. SO they had to clean that bunkhouse chicken coop, cleaned it all out, and then they lived there, all eight of them. Because two girls got married in camp, so eight of them lived there. And then when we got married, then parents were already, the family was already in the main house, so we had this bunkhouse, and then we had the outhouse. So the this bunkhouse became our so-called honeymoon house. We didn't have any money, we were so poor, between the both of us we didn't have any money. So we had to have a bed to sleep on, so we bought six peach cans, #2, and we put it on the floor, and we put a springboard, that's all we could afford. We couldn't afford the mattress itself, just the spring, so we slept on that for a while until he earned enough to buy the mattress. So that's how we got started. [Laughs]

KL: And the bunkhouse was here in San Jose?

EY: Yeah, it's still... no, it's gone now because they sold the property and not their homes, they're not... in various...

KL: I have a few questions about your life in San Jose because I know you're involved in a lot. But backing up there a few more from what you said, you mentioned that Sam, your brother, went into the military in Chicago?

EY: Yeah. He was inducted from there, but I don't know which infantry or what he belonged to. We just don't communicate, so I never knew. But I remember my auntie was saying that he had a hard time getting up in the morning, so she'd always wake him up every morning. So she said, "I don't know how he did that in the army, because boy, in the army, you don't oversleep, right? So we had no idea how he managed it.

KL: The repercussions may have been more serious in the army.

EY: Could be.

KL: Was he drafted?

EY: Yeah, he was drafted.

KL: Was he ever deployed, was he part of the occupation of Japan?

EY: No idea, nothing.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: I'm curious about what the climate in Pasadena was like right when you returned in late 1945 toward Japanese Americans. What did you encounter? I mean, the family you stayed with sounds like it was friendly toward you, but beyond that, what was it like in Pasadena?

EY: I don't think I really experienced any prejudice there. The people who hired us were very kind, they were, they treated each of my friends nicely. We didn't feel that we were being used, that we're just there to help them, and they were willing to pay us. And we were live-in housemates, you might call it, so we had a bed and a little room for ourselves. Then we got every Thursday off, so that's where we got together.

KL: It sounds like your employer were mostly Jewish people?

EY: Yes.

KL: Did they ever say anything to you about, you know, what their experience of World War II was or their feelings about anti-Jewish behavior?

EY: No, never brought up the subject. And I think all of us girls, we never brought our situation up either. We were just fortunate to be under a roof where people were kind to us, and so we never so-called, what's the word? Rocked the boat.

KL: What is Jimi's friend George's last name?

EY: Iwanaga. He passed on. He was quite a guy.

LP: What were the names you mentioned? It sounded like there was a man whose kids you were watching that made horror films or something in L.A.?

KL: In Beverly Hills.

LP: Beverly Hills. What was his name?

EY: Watching what?

LP: What was the name of the man who was making films while you were living in, he said, Beverly Hills?

KL: The filmmaker who employed you in Beverly Hills, what was his name?

EY: You know, I can't think of his name. I see his face, but I can't think of... and I don't even recognize it when it's in the, something's written in the paper. I just don't recall his name.

LP: Do you remember, do you recall any of the movies that he made?

EY: All I know is this man makes horror films and he has two kids of his own, what's he doing, doing that? I remember thinking that, but I can't think of his name. It's too bad.

LP: Okay.

EY: It's too bad.

LP: I was just curious if he was famous. And then what was the name of the man that did the pantyhose thing?

EY: Nylon hosiery?

LP: Yeah.

EY: Wittenberg, W-I-T-T-E-N-B-E-R, Wittenberg. Very nice people.

LP: Were you working with, like, an organization to place you in those jobs, or how were you...

EY: I guess it was more word of mouth. Yeah, said, "Hey, you know what? There's a party that was looking for some help, and just go see, apply and see if they want a Japanese houseperson. So just call them up, we get the phone number from somewhere, I don't know how we got it. And said, "I'm a Japanese American, just came out of camp, would you like to interview me or whatever?" We were lucky we were able to get hired.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: This is tape five, is that right? We're finishing up an interview today with Eiko Yamaichi. And where we left off, it was 1949, you and Jimi had just married. I wonder what you can tell us about just the rest of your lives. What's been important to you in the years since, how have you spent your time?

EY: Well, I worked in a school district, San Jose Unified School District, and I started out in the cafeteria. And then I changed schools and I washed pots and pans, and then I got promoted to be a cook at the high school level. Then I thought, you know what? This is not what I want to do all the time. So while I was going to work, I decided to take adult education and I went to Del Mar High School where they were teaching it. So after I finished school, working, I only worked six hours a day at that time. So after I finished school there, then I would take the car and we'd go over to Del Mar and start taking business classes. And once I finished that, then I applied at the district office if I could find a job in the office, so I ended up at Leland High School as a registrar's assistant. Then from there I heard that Unified was building a new high school, Gunderson High School, so I thought, well, I'll try applying there, which I did. They needed a media person, so I said, "I don't know too much about media," but they needed someone, so I said, "Okay, I'll try," so I did. So I took care of the overheads and PA systems and what have you. From there, I moved over to career center, and that's where juniors especially and seniors come for help about colleges and about job opportunities and what have you, so it was a real fun position. I worked there 'til I was seventy. And then in the meantime, I had cramps in my legs, and so my friend said, "Well, take quinine." So I took quinine, which took care of the cramps, but in the meantime, I lost my hearing. And I found later, at different hearing conferences, that quinine is the worst thing to take because it affects your hearing. It does something with your fine hair follicles in there, and it deadens it, which it did for me, so I lost my hearing. So when I had to go to different campuses to find out the update of new courses, I wasn't really hearing everything that I was supposed to, and I realized that it was not fair to the students who came to me, and not being able to communicate what was offering by the UC system or the state system or what have you. So I decided I better quit when I was seventy years old. I didn't want to leave because I had such a fun place, and the kids, it was really interesting and fun place to be. But reluctantly, I gave up my position. And since then I have retired, so then they gave me a nice party and all that.

But I've been in the background for Jimi because he became active in all the community things that happened. And some people said, "Well, Jimi's out there just to make a name for himself," but it is not that. It's because when he was fourteen years old and he was driving his father to different organizations where his father was involved, they would drink and discuss things and Jim would just sit there and just listen. He was exposed to that at his young, tender age, so he felt the need to be active within the community to help the public realize some of the things that are going on, so that's why he's out there, not just to have people say, "Oh, there's Jimi, he's out there to get his name out," it isn't that, but that's how they interpret it. So he doesn't type or anything, so then I'm the one that does that kind of... so that's how I support him. And when he needs to go somewhere, then he's, fortunately, he always asks me, "Would you like to go?" Some of the guys I know, they never ask their wives to go with them, but Jimi always asks me and I'm very, very fortunate.

So then I've been exposed to different people that way, too. So now, like we just had the bazaar, and I'm sitting there and they go, "Hi, Eiko." "Who was that?" kind of thing, then I could recall. But that part has been an asset for me because of him. So I've been kind of helping him out that way, so that's my life. And then also I try to keep myself healthy, so I take different classes and health, exercise and all that. And I've made quite a few friends because of the exercising classes. I don't go to any gym or anything like that. But after we exercise, then we go to Greenlee's market, Greenlee's bakery, the girls drink their coffee, and sometimes they'll buy a pastry. But I have my hot water, which is fine. I don't drink coffee that often, once in a while. And so we do that every Monday. They do that Wednesdays, too, but Wednesdays I go play Scrabble. I try to keep my mind... and I'm not as alert as my younger players, but they put up with me, so I appreciate that. But it makes me think, so that's good for me. And they realize that and they're very kind to me, so I go every Wednesday. Then on Fridays I volunteer my time at the senior center, Yu-Ai Kai in San Jose. What we do is just open up the newspaper, and then we stack it up into twenty-five pounds. And then the main guys pick it all up and they roll it up and tie it up. And that's bought by flower growers and some farmers. So that's how we raise money for the senior center, so I volunteer every Friday about two hours or so. We used to do six hours, but because of lack of paper, we just do about nine o'clock until eleven-thirty, and that's all we do. It's a no-brainer job, but we just stand there, we chitter-chatter and we just stack up the papers. We have a platter made, a board, and we just open it up and just flip it in there, pick up the paper. So it's a no brainer, but it's okay, we were raising money for a cause, so it's okay. Then we have our lunch, then I go to the museum and we have a group that makes different crafts. We make cards of all kinds, and little things that she wants us to make, we'll do. So that's my whole week, that's how I spend every week. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays are my free days, so those are days when I schedule my dental or doctor appointments. So I have a full days, and Saturday and Sunday give me time to take care of my house and stuff, washing, laundry stuff. But that's typical of my day.

In the meantime, Jimi has to go here and there, so, "You want to come along?" kind of thing, I tag along. So I'm exposed to that part of it, too, so it's helping me. Yeah, we're out there, and the to the public, maybe they think that, "Oh, yeah, Yamaichi's out there to get a name," but it's not so. We're just out there continue what our first generation did, and hopefully the third and fourth generation will continue to keep it going, that kind of thing. And the museum was started with Jimi and some of the other fellows, and it was their vision together, and that's how it came to be. So that's a plus.

KL: That's the Japanese American Museum of San Jose?

EY: Uh-huh. And both of us realize that we're getting older, so we need to slowly pass it on to younger ones. So he's doing that, so training some of the younger ones to slowly take over the museum.

KL: That's great that those people are there, that museum is really, it strikes me as really special, all volunteer effort.

EY: That's right. And they're willing to give up their time to help promote the museum, so it's just wonderful. They know they're not going to get paid, but they come after work sometimes, and some of them are already retired, they give a full day, and it's really heartwarming to see that happen.

KL: Who were some of the other people who helped start it?

EY: You got to ask him. One of them was a professor... what's his name? Okazaki? Anyway, they had a vision. So they started out as Japanese American Resource Center, JARC, resource center. And then they moved to... there was a house where the museum stands now, and used to be the residence and also office for Dr. Ishikawa, both of them passed on. And so a friend of theirs, Sakauye, he bought it from him and he donated the land to the museum. So because of that, the museum happened. Actually, the museum could have used a basement, because it's growing so much, with so many information, but they didn't have the money, when they borrowed the money to build, they only had enough money to build the two story buildings. That's the way it had to be. But anyway, it's nice that... oh yeah, Ken Iwagaki was one of them. So about four guys had this vision, and to see that come to fruition is really nice, heartwarming. Gary Okazaki, I guess that's his name. He's a professor now at some college. So Gary, Ken Iwagaki, Jimi, I wonder if there was a fourth person. You got to ask him.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: So we were talking about the museum, you mentioned passing things on to the next generation. Do you guys have kids or grandkids?

EY: Yeah, we have four children.

KL: Have you talked with them, or what are their thoughts about your wartime experiences?

EY: I don't think they're ready yet. So we're not talking about the museum to them yet. But I think the people who are involved right now, I think they would be the ones to carry it on.

KL: What do your kids think about your experiences at Heart Mountain and Tule Lake and Gila River and your having to leave their homes?

EY: We never discuss it. We have never discussed it.

KL: In the 1980s there was a movement for redress on a national level. Were you guys involved in that at all, or do you have any memories of those...

EY: We wanted to be involved, but because Jimi had a business and all his clients were all Caucasians, if he were to do that, we felt that his business would... because there were some people already who thought that making the noise that those who were involved... how should I put it? Was not necessary. "Why should you get it?" kind of an attitude. So I think both of us felt that we better not make any involvement in that, and we were supported in our own quiet way financially and everything, but we could not voice our opinion verbally because of that. Otherwise, I don't think we could have carried on our business because of that.

KL: How did it feel when you got the presidential apology letter and the check, or that it had been successful with the educational fund?

EY: Well, we were grateful for those who volunteered their time to make it happen, and we really appreciated their efforts. And on the other half, for me, I felt that it was too bad that our parents had passed on, 'cause they were the ones who should have gotten the money, not us. Although we did help in however way we tried, but both of us, his parents passed on and my parents passed on, so then next would be us, so we did get it. But financially it helped us in our life, so we were grateful for it. But really, it's the first generation should have had it. But the majority of them had passed on.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

KL: Well, that was one of my other few questions, was we talked about your parents, your aunt and your two brothers. I know you may not know about all of them, but would you just fill us in on what the rest of, what you know of the rest of their lives?

EY: Let's see. Uncle George and Auntie Mary passed on, and then the daughter passed on. Kenny's and optometrist, and Ray, he repairs... what do you call those? Machines for a Japanese firm down in Los Angeles. Then the other one, I think he's retired, too. Then my brother Sam, he was retired, but he used to take groups of people traveling, and he used to be what you call travel agent for groups and took care of their needs when they were traveling. And my younger brother, like I say, he passed on, but he was an optometrist. And the family was planning for his sixtieth birthday and he had an aneurysm the day before he was to have the birthday party, so he never made it. So he was alive in the morning and that night he was gone. The surgery supposedly was successful, but something happened and he died. So my sister-in-law became a widow at a young age, but now she's in one of those senior homes. So she's very active, she was a teacher, so she still even went to Japan to teach the (expats), what do they call them? The American family that go over there and then bring the family, he teaches...

KL: International school?

EY: Something like that, yeah. So she did that for five years over there, now she's back and she's in this home. But it's one of those where in case you have health problems, you could go from one stage to another, but she's in a good place right now, so she's active there. And, let's see, our own kids, our oldest one is Janice and she lives in Vallejo with her husband Ron. And the second one is Denise, she lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and our son George over here, he has a set of twins and a daughter, and he's the one that really looks after us when we have a problem. And then my youngest son Steve, he's down in Nipomo and has one daughter, so we have four granddaughters, that's it.

KL: Did your dad continue to have jobs working for families in their homes?

EY: No, he ended up working for a big supermarket and I think he worked in produce over there, too. And he became acquainted with all the guys that worked there at the supermarket, and he's quite happy. But he was into racing, which my mother didn't quite like, ponies, horses, yeah, horses. So when he went, he would bring the winnings home to my mom and she'd be so happy. [Laughs] But other than that...

KL: Did they stay in Southern California?

EY: Yeah, in Los Angeles. And my father went with us to Japan because we were delegates for our church to the mother church in Kyoto, Japan, and I lost my father there. So we went through the whole process of taking care of one who was deceased, that was quite an experience. And Jimi was always the fourth person, he had to carry the coffin. I washed my father down. When he died, then the hospital told me, "Your father's dead, he's gone." So then my auntie, who was my father's youngest sister, was with us, and she was the one who said, well, she'll take care of us, so she calls her friend the mortician, and he says, "Well, what size is your brother." So my auntie's trying to describe him, and I'm listening to her and I'm just chuckling how she described my father. So the mortician brings the box that fits him. In the meantime, anytime when a person dies, then you bring them back to the home where he was supposed to be, so in this case, it would be my auntie's house. And I had to take care of him, so I got a wad of cotton, I poured alcohol on them, I talked to my father as I was cleaning him. And I used to tell him while he was alive that you always have to take a bath or shower every day now so you won't offend anyone, make sure you do that every day. He says, "Every day?" I said, "Every day, wash your hair, too, keep clean." So in the meantime he was taking quite a few ladies who were single already, widows, here and there on his car, and he was so happy, and they would take care of his meals. But anyway, when he died, then I talked to him and I said, "Papa, I'm going to clean you for the last time, you're going to be clean now." So I took care of his face, wiped him down and his arms, and I got up to his waist, and then I just couldn't take it anymore, so I had (my auntie) take over and she took care of his legs. Then we put him in this wooden coffin, just like a mummy thing. And we had three cousins, and Jimi was the fourth one every time. So we put him in there, and to hold the body, because they didn't have any formaldehyde, dry ice under his armpits. After he got in there, we shifted him and fit him in the coffin. And then we drape him with a, where the face is, there's a glass there, and so you could see who the person was. So anyway, we put this satin covering on there, and that part there is open, so you could see who the person... then we put him on the Japanese, like a carpet, what do they call it? Anyway, it's made out of straw. And then the neighbors come, they pay their respects, they throw money to the deceased, and we were up there, staying up all night. But because we had just come in, my auntie said, "Eiko, you just go there and sleep on my bed." And it turns out to be like a storage counter, and so her daughter-in-law really mistreated my auntie. But anyway, she said, "This is my bed, so you sleep on it," and it was just the top of a storage thing. So anyway, Jim and I got up there and slept. Well, she stayed up, all the neighbors came.

And the following morning, we had to take it to the church. So Jimi was the fourth person again, so we took it to church. And uncannily, it was the same sect as ours here in San Jose. So they had the hymn on tape, so they played it, and because they were way out in the country, boonies, they only could afford paper flowers, so we had paper flowers on the main altar. And so they played the hymn, and we went through the ritual that we usually do in the temple. Then we had to cremate him because I couldn't take him back to the U.S. that way. So the mortician said, okay, we're going to take him to this place, so fine. So they take body out of the... let's see, what happened? Oh yeah, they put the whole body on the gas stove, I guess it was. Anyway, they didn't take him out of the... anyway, the crematorium, he said someone, the relative has to light the fire, I'm supposed to light the fire, I couldn't do it. So I don't know whether it was Jimi or if it was my auntie, but she lit the fire to have his body cremated.

In the meantime, I fell in the running water of the community bath, in kind of a ditch, and I hurt my ribs. So my auntie says, "You better go see a doctor." So while he's being taken care of, then my uncle or my cousin takes me to the doctor. And over there, as far as I'm concerned, it's still primitive. I'm undressed because they're trying to take an x-ray, right there in the open, for everyone to see, the x-ray machine is right by the... say this is the door here, the x-ray machine is there, I'm standing there half naked, and patients are coming in the doctor's office. So Jimi just stood there kind of like this so that I would be hidden. And then when we get up on the table, they don't put any paper sheet or nothing, it's just there. So you lay on there, and he's probing me around. He said, "I think you'll be okay with just a net." So he goes to this machine and he unrolls this netting and he first figures me out, and he says, "Here, put this on," and you could go the rest of the trip. So I went to the side and I put this on and it did feel good. So then we go back to the place where he's being cremated, and they have a little house that has a television in it and a bath facility and you're waiting there. And when it was done, the man calls in Japanese, "He's done." So then before you put the ashes into the container, you use a mismatched chopstick. Not a pair, but a mismatch, that's the one and only time you use a mismatch. Up until then, all those years, I never knew why my mother would yell at me when I picked up a mismatched chopstick and then she said, "No, you got to have a pair." I didn't know why, she never explained. So that was the first time I found out. So then my auntie says, "Okay, certain certain part goes in first," and I'm asking why, she said, "Don't ask me why, but that's the way it's done." So the last part that goes in is your adam's apple. And before they did that, the man who took care of it said, "This man was quite ill." "How can you tell?" Because my father had a rupture and he always wore this belt, and it held this thing in. So that part was, remained red. And he had a heart problem so he was taking medication for it, that part was red. And so then he had a bad leg, so he was taking medication for that, so then that part there was red. The rest of the body was all white, skeletal. And so when he said that this man had a lot of problems, I could see it. I'm watching this from a distance, I just didn't want to go close to him. I didn't want to remember him that way. So anyway, that happened. And so she put the... since I was supposed to be doing it, I couldn't do it. So my auntie did it for me, and she put the adam's apple in. And then put the container in there, I don't know who picked out the container or anything, because over here, they tell you, "Well, you have this choice, that choice of containers." Over there, I didn't know, so my auntie took it upon herself to take care of it. And then you put the container into this brocade container so you could carry.

So when we went to Tokyo, our final destination, I was told that I had to go the embassy, U.S. embassy, to get that cleared. So both Jimi and I get on the train and get to the embassy just about closing time. Okay, where's the ashes? Oh, we left it in the hotel. So we looked at the clock, said, "We're going to close in half an hour, so if you could take the train back and come back again, we'll stay open for you," since we were going to depart the following day. So we thanked them, "Okay, please do stay open." So both of us get on, and then we go to the hotel, pick up my father, and then they put a wax seal on it to say that it was cleared by the U.S embassy, that now I could take my father back home. So I did that, so we go to the airport, said, "Hey, where's your dad, where's your dad?" "Right there." "What?" So I had to tell him he died. [Laughs] No one asked me what I went through, I said I didn't want to talk about it then. But after that, when I came home, we had another service for him here in the U.S. But anyway, those who want to know about it, I'll tell them what I went through, and you know what they told me? How beautiful that I was able to take care of my own father. Because over here and even in Holland, they stack up the deceased and then turn the thing. So when you get your ashes, you don't know if it's your father or not. You might have somebody else's ashes. But I was able to know that that's my father. So they tell me, "Eiko, you're so lucky that you took care of your own dad that way." And it never occurred to me until it was pointed out to me over here, that gee, I guess I was. Because I knew it was my dad's ashes.

KL: To have your aunt be part of it, too, so special to you both.

EY: Right. So when I tell the whole story, like sometimes I skip it. But when I tell the whole story like that, it gives the person who's asking me something to really think about. So I said, "If you really want to know that it's your own personal, like in my case it was my father, you need to ask the mortician if it's going to be that way or not." And if you don't like it, then you may have to pay extra to know that that's your father or mother. Because from what I understand -- and I don't know how true it is -- but I understand they stack at least four deceased before they'll turn the oven on. Because I think it's expensive over here. But that's what happened to me, so Jimi and I, we've experienced it. And when I think about my dad, I think that I was lucky that I was able to take care of him that way.

KL: You guys had to have had a pretty close partnership with those circumstances in your family.

EY: Yeah, tried to.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

KL: What's the name of your church here in San Jose?

EY: The church that we go to?

KL: Yeah, you said it was same sect in rural Japan where your dad died. What's your church here, what's its name?

EY: Yeah, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. So it was really uncanny. And then the only fruit that we had to offer to the altar was a bunch of bananas, that's all we had. Whereas over here, they want an inside, like a biscuit with the sweet bean in it, the white, and they want flowers that are white, and they want candles that are white. But I didn't have to provide that, my auntie took care of that, and I was in no shape for it. But anyway, we had that.

KL: Thank you for telling us that in such depth.

EY: You're welcome. Because I don't think many people get to experience that. And, of course, it depends on who's asking me, if they're really sincere in wanting to hear about it, but I thought I'd say it on tape because not too many people will have had that experience.

KL: Yeah, and you're here to speak about it too. The last question I think that Larisa and I both had, you've been involved in Tule Lake over so many years and in such different ways. I wonder what, and Tule Lake has been part of the National Park Service now since 2008, and I wonder what you hope to see at Tule Lake as it develops. In fifty years, what do you hope will be there, and what experience do you hope people will have when they go to visit?

EY: We've always talked about an interpretive center, somewhat like you folks in Manzanar have. But because it's where it is, will there be enough people who would pass through there to warrant an expensive building such as that? I wonder -- I don't know what Jimi thinks -- but I wonder, on the other hand, if it was there and it becomes somewhat like a rest stop like thing, maybe they'll get up and wander in and find out what truly happened there. Because I think it's important that general public find out that it did happen, it is history. We're not asking for sympathy or anything like that, we just want the facts straightened out and that the government could do that. And to enjoy your liberty and freedom and all that. So the committee is working on it toward raising money to help that to become a reality, but everyone's asking for money so it's quite hard. But it would be nice if we could do that. And local people are quite receptive now, so the whole atmosphere is good, if we could get that to fruition it would be nice.

KL: Is there anything that we've left out that you kind of expected to record today or that you want to include on the tape? Those are all of our questions, I think, but if there are...

EY: No, I don't think so, I think I've said enough. [Laughs]

KL: Well, thank you very much, this was something I've really wanted to have happen, and I'm so glad it did. Thank you very much.

EY: You're welcome.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.