Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sumiye Takeno Interview
Narrator: Sumiye Takeno
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tsumiye-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. Today we're talking with Sumi Takeno. And the interview is taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Denver, Colorado. We are here as part of the Japanese American National Museum Convention, Enduring Communities. And today we'll be talking with Sumi about her experiences as a former internee at Manzanar War Relocation Center. And also we'll be discussing her resettlement to Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Roy Takeno. The interviewer is Richard Potashin, our videographer today is Kirk Peterson. The interview is taking... the date of the interview is July 5, 2008. And our interview will be archived at the library at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Sumi, do I have your official permission to record our interview today?

ST: Well, I don't care to, but I guess I should. [Laughs]

RP: Okay. We think you should. We're gonna start a little... our, a little discussion about your family history. First of all, can you give us your birth date and where you were born?

ST: November 17, 1922. And I was born in Florin, California.

RP: Which is located near Sacramento?

ST: That's, you know, about 10 miles north, south -- no, north of Sacramento.

RP: And what was your given name at birth, Sumi?

ST: Sumiye, S-U-M-I-Y-E.

RP: Okay. And you don't mind if I refer to you as Sumi today?

ST: Yes.

RP: Okay. Let's talk about your parents as well. Can you give us your father's name?

ST: Masaichi.

RP: Okay. And what do you recall about your father in Japan? Where was he from?

ST: He's from Hiroshima, and he came to United States when he was about sixteen. And there was nothing to do for him back there, really. He was a little adventuresome. So he came and then somehow he had two stores. And then he decided after he had two stores, worked on it, he wanted to buy a farm. So that's why we were on the farm. And we had about 80 acres, something like that.

RP: Now did he come from a village near Hiroshima or from the city?

ST: I think it was from, let's see... you know, I'm not positive on that. I thought it was just Hiroshima city. I'm not positive.

RP: And do you recall how many brothers and sisters your father had in Japan?

ST: Let's see... you know, I really don't know. But I know he had a few brothers. I don't... and one sister.

RP: Did, did any of his siblings come to the United States, too?

ST: His younger brother, I think. Older brother was here first. And so, but he subsequently died here.

RP: Can you give us the name of the older brother, if you remember?

ST: I don't...

RP: No? But he passed away in the United States?

ST: Uh-huh. I wasn't even...

RP: Born.

ST: ...born, I don't think.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: And when he came to this country, you mentioned to me that he actually jumped ship. That he...

ST: Yes.

RP: Do we know if that's in San Francisco or where he might have entered?

ST: I think it was San Francisco. He just snuck out. [Laughs]

RP: So he might have been --

ST: He couldn't afford anything.

RP: Right.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: There were some of, some Isseis who were going to Mexico because they couldn't get a visa to come to the United States and they decided while they were in port in San Francisco to leave the ship and, 'cause United States looked a little better than going to Mexico.

ST: Oh, is that right?

RP: Maybe, I don't know if he was booked to go to another country or...

ST: I don't think he went to Mexico. Not that I know.

RP: But he, he settled in the Sacramento area.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: And you say that he... did he actually own these grocery stores?

ST: Yeah, he, he had two stores. And then he decided he didn't... he said he wanted to be a farmer. So he bought the 80 acres.

RP: Okay.

ST: We've been there ever since. He's been there ever since.

RP: Is it still in the family?

ST: You mean...

RP: The, the farm?

ST: No. During the evacuation we had to sell. And the sad part is, sold for forty thousand. Two years later it was worth four hundred thousand. But what can we do?

RP: And what type of, what type of farm was, was it? What did your dad grow on, on his acreage?

ST: He grew strawberries and grapes, persimmons. And he had a few other vegetables, things like that, mostly for the family.

RP: What do you remember most about your father, Sumi?

ST: He was a very strict person. Whatever he said, went. So, none of us ever really argued with him. But he was not abusive or anything. All he had to say is, "Sumi," and I'd listen, or my brothers. They don't argue, they just listen to him. And he was a kind person.

RP: Did he have a soft side, too? His personality, was... could he be kind of fun-loving or --

ST: Oh, yes. Uh-huh.

RP: -- cantankerous.

ST: He was all that. But he was strict. So I guess that's why we all grew to be fairly good children, I think.

RP: What did you, what did you get from your father in terms of values or lessons about, about life or...

ST: You mean like honesty and things? Those are the things he always used to talk about. Our meals were always lectures. [Laughs] And we all listened to him. Of course, we chatted a lot. After all, there were what, thirteen of us all together. Because he adopted two cousins from Japan. So...

RP: So that was a pretty long dinner table.

ST: It was like a party every... And so, but see, we're talking English and so my father finally said, "Don't talk so much. I don't understand what you're talking about." [Laughs] He could understand some English but not the way we chat. So, we accompanied him and tried to talk Japanese a little bit.

RP: And that's why kids went to Japanese school, too?

ST: Oh yes, uh-huh. My Japanese school, one hour after the regular school and then about for three or four hours on Saturdays. So we learned quite a bit of Japanese.

RP: You probably were aware of this, but Isseis were not allowed to buy land. I think it was the --

ST: Yes, uh-huh, for a long time, but ---

RP: How did your father work out the arrangements to own land? Was it before the law?

ST: Some, somehow he was able to hang on to it. And then finally when the boys became age, it was put in their name.

RP: I see. So he might have bought it before the law came into effect?

ST: I beg your pardon?

RP: Did he buy the land possibly before the law...

ST: Oh, yes. He bought it, but he couldn't really own it.

RP: And then he put it in the name of the oldest boys?

ST: Uh-huh. Until he was able to name his sons.

RP: I see.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Now, there were eleven brothers and sisters in the family. Can we just go over them very briefly?

ST: You mean from the top to the...

RP: From the top, the oldest... I know, that might take a half hour, but...

ST: You want the married name, or just the first name?

RP: Just the first name.

ST: The, the oldest one was Mary.

RP: Okay, and could you tell us a little something about Mary?

ST: Mary was the oldest and of course the two oldest sisters were married because we were so many years apart. So, but they were really nice sisters. Really, they really took care of us, us little ones. But I think I was only about five, seven years old when they both married.

RP: Already?

ST: Yeah, because there are so many.

RP: Who is after Mary?

ST: You want to know about Mary? You mean where she lived?

RP: Right, where did she...

ST: She lived... she married a person in Florin, but he had a farm. So, she worked in a farm after that.

RP: So she stayed.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: She lived in Florin.

ST: Yeah. They stayed on the farm to evacuation. Most of us did, everybody who settled in Florin.

RP: And, and who is next after Mary?

ST: Ruby. Now she, she was sort of talented person. She used to win speech contests, things like that. And so she married a person in San Francisco. And he, he was from Japan, so he was bilingual. 'Course, my sister's bilingual, too, but... at first he was working at laundry. And then finally he, let's see... where did he work? Some office. And they lived there for several years until evacuation. And then, then next comes my brother.

RP: Elmer.

ST: Elmer. And of course we all lived on the farm and worked on the farm.

RP: Elmer and, and what do you remember about Elmer?

ST: He was a good brother.

RP: He would take care of you? Look after you?

ST: Oh yes. Took, looked after us. And of course he was active in local organizations, churches. We all were, actually.

RP: Right. Yeah, we'll talk a little bit about that in a few minutes.

ST: Okay. And then, oh, he and his friend owned a grocery store in Lodi. They both decided to, they were very good friends. His name is Harry. And I think they both owned two stores.

RP: Both in Lodi.

ST: In Lodi, together.

RP: And they kept those stores until evacuation?

ST: Yes, 'til evacuation. And then, of course after evacuation he married, and then of course he went to his family. They had nursery. So that's how we came to Los Angeles.

RP: Right.

ST: And then of course I came to Denver, but we all lived in Los Angeles for quite a while.

RP: Now, who is after Elmer?

ST: After Elmer was Ruth, but she was gone. And then Dan, he had a pneumatic heart disease so he didn't live too long after the war. And then came David. [Clears throat.] Excuse me. You didn't get to meet him. I think he's gone now. He was married to Florence. And then comes my sister. Then comes me. And then my sister May. She's gone. And then comes...

RP: Oh, Mieko?

ST: Uh-huh, May, Mieko, uh-huh. And then comes May, and then Leo, and then George. Eileen, oh... there's Eileen. [Laughs]

RP: I'm keeping count, you know.

ST: Yeah. Now do we have eleven children there?

RP: Yeah, we do. And then the two adopted kids.

ST: Yes, two adopted cousins.

RP: What were their names?

ST: Kazuo and Tatsuo.

RP: Okay.

ST: Kazuo, just when, after he became engaged, about month or so... no, maybe less, suddenly died of heart attack. It was a lady from Chico, California. And then, so the family asked would your, would your second cousin marry their daughter. And she was older but he said, he said, "Okay, I will." So he married her and they had a store, so he helped run the store. And then... let's see, did you want to know all the others? Are we finished?

RP: I think we're done.

ST: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Let's talk a little bit about life on the farm. What do, what do you remember... how early or young were you when you first started working on the farm?

ST: Oh, we were youngsters. You know, picked grasses, cleaned the yards and cleaned the grape vineyards, crawl on the knees and pick all those morning glories that just climbed on the vine.

RP: Getting the weeds.

ST: That was quite a work. But, it was fun.

RP: Did every, did every child have a specific responsibility or chore?

ST: Uh-huh, yes. That was our everyday. And then of course we had strawberries, too, so we had to weed the strawberry farm, too.

RP: Now did you also, were you also part of the harvest?

ST: Oh yes, uh-huh.

RP: Grapes and...

ST: Made sure that we don't pull off the roots. [Laughs]

RP: Some, some farm families or kids left school during the, during the fall --

ST: Yeah, uh-huh, yeah.

RP: -- so they could be part of the harvest.

ST: None of my brothers had really had a further education. They just helped on the farm.

RP: So after they graduated, they stayed on the farm?

ST: Yeah. But I was the only one that was fortunate to go to San Francisco first and then to Los Angeles when my sister and her family moved to Los Angeles and, and I worked in a home for about couple of years. And I went to sewing school.

RP: Tell us -- a few more questions about the farm -- tell us a little bit about the house you lived in on the farm.

ST: You mean like workin' on the grapes and strawberries?

RP: Oh, the house, the farm house?

ST: You mean the house?

RP: Yeah.

ST: We had a fairly nice home. But because there were so many, my father had to build another house for the boys. So the parents and the younger ones and the women lived in one house. And the boys and the cousins lived on the, in the other house. But we all ate together. It was like a party every meal.

RP: [Laughs] Now, did you have, did you have animals on the farm, too? Cows, chickens...

ST: Yes, we had horses and not much, too many others. Horses and I think he had some pigs. I think, I think that was all.

RP: Did your father have tractors, too?

ST: Oh, yes. Tractors, he always drove the tractor. Nobody else did. [Laughs]

RP: He was the boss.

ST: Uh-huh, yes. I don't think they really wanted to anyway, you know, the brothers. Yeah, they just did what my father told them to do.

RP: So what was your, what was your favorite thing to do on the farm?

ST: It was fun workin' with my brothers. Like weeding and picking the crops and crating them. And then like grapes, we would pick them and then in the evening we would all sit around and clean the grapes and pack them.

RP: You had to make your own boxes?

ST: Huh?

RP: Did you have to make your own boxes for your...

ST: Yes, uh-huh. Make sure that we did it right. And you have to have certain weight. So, they were pretty strict about that.

RP: Did your, did somebody come and pick up grapes and produce, or...

ST: No, we would crate them and then the brothers would take it to the place where they would ship out. I used to go with them sometimes, just for the ride.

RP: Would that be, would they ship out the produce from Florin?

ST: Yeah, right out of railroad station in the Florin, you know, little town of Florin.

RP: Okay.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Sumi, can you tell us the story about being adopted?

ST: Being adopted?

Off camera voice: Don't you remember, Mom? You said that there was a family couple...

ST: Oh. They wanted to adopt me.

RP: And who was this couple?

ST: And, and they gloriously told me what I could have and all that. But did you know, I didn't want to go. My father said, "If you wish to go, go." I didn't want to leave my family.

RP: And who was this other family who wanted to adopt you?

ST: They were, they were wealthy people. I don't know what they did. But they were wealthy people and they wanted someone to, I guess, carry on. But I wasn't interested.

RP: And you, you told your dad that you didn't want to be adopted but...

ST: Uh-huh, well, he left it up to me.

RP: Okay.

ST: He said, "It's an opportunity for you." But I just didn't want to leave the family. Maybe I lost a good opportunity, but I didn't care about that.

RP: Do you remember hiding in the trees?

ST: Yeah. I... so when they came again. I ran to the back about, it's about half a block away or maybe more. I ran up the tree, way up there, and I said, "Are they gone? Are they gone?"

RP: So that... they were...

ST: I guess as a youngster, you know, you take things seriously. Of course, my father wouldn't have forced me to go.

RP: So this was another Japanese American family?

ST: No, they were from Japan.

RP: Okay.

ST: They were more than just average family. I would have had a, probably a good life. But I just didn't want to leave the family.

RP: They were farming in Florin?

ST: No. They were city people.

RP: They were city people.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: Where did they live?

ST: From Sacramento.

RP: Oh, from Sacramento. So you would have lived in Sacramento?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. But I just didn't want to go.

RP: You just liked your family too much.

ST: Yes. I just didn't want to part with my family.

RP: And you had a lot of brothers and sisters to kind of watch by, look out for you.

ST: Uh-huh. Oh, we fought and everything. But, you know, I just didn't want to go. And my father said, "Well, you're missing the opportunity," but he said, "I'll leave it up to you." Uh-huh. So, I never regretted it. I was curious what kind of life I would have had. But I just didn't want to go.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Tell us a little bit about the area, the town of Florin. Was it primarily strawberry and grape branches?

ST: That's right. And some had vegetable gardens and oh, a few other crops. But mainly strawberries and grapes. And so sometimes when we finished with our work, they would want to hire more people to help with their farms so we used to go and work. Even we went to Loomis to work, on the grape farm.

RP: This would be during the summertime?

ST: Uh-huh. It was fun.

RP: Now, did your dad hire additional labor during the harvest season?

ST: Yes. He had hired several Filipinos, those days. And he had extra house about block away from us, our house. And they lived there. And there were about four or five of them.

RP: Filipinos.

ST: Uh-huh, during the busy season. And of course Father would always caution us, no socialization.

RP: And did you, did you, did the kids obey that?

ST: Oh yeah, of course.

RP: You had to.

ST: In those days, we obeyed if they said something. I don't know about youngsters nowadays, but... [Laughs]

RP: Oh, yeah. What about the Florin community, the ethnic makeup of the Florin community? It sounds like it was predominately Japanese American farmers.

ST: Yes, it was predominantly. Eventually, the neighbors were a lot of Caucasians. So they kind of joined. And eventually, at the very end, I think, it was predominately Caucasians.

RP: It was.

ST: Uh-huh. So I always wondered what happened to the church, 'cause I haven't been back there. And, you know, we had the usual programs and... Christmas holidays, and things like... it was fun.

RP: Okay.

ST: And we all took part. We had different organizations within the church.

RP: And the, the Methodist church, the Florin Methodist church...

ST: Yeah, it was a Methodist, Episcopal church. We called it M.E. church.

RP: Your father originally was Buddhist?

ST: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: But then he converted...

ST: But then I still remember, I could still picture him. See, I was a Buddhist, but since this is America, you go to the Christian church. That's how we started the Methodist church.

RP: He started it?

ST: Uh-huh. And so he baptized, too, finally.

RP: It was a way of... right...

ST: Becoming, you know...

RP: More, more American.

ST: Permanently living United States. He took his whole family up to David, to Japan. So I didn't get to get to go to Japan until I was able to afford myself.

RP: Oh, this was a trip before the war that you took?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. I was there a couple of times.

RP: But he was there before the war?

ST: Yes.

RP: He, he took your...

ST: Yes. Before the war he took his whole family.

RP: And how come you didn't get to go?

ST: Because I wasn't born yet.

RP: Oh, I see, okay. Right. Who, who was around got to go.

ST: Uh-huh. But after that, you know, things got hard on the farm, and so he couldn't afford anymore. So that was fine. So after the war, after we were married, we went a couple of times.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Talk a little bit about your mother.

ST: She was a very quiet person. Of course she would get angry with us sometimes, but very, you know, quiet person. And my father was the one that really ran the family. But, she...

RP: What was --

ST: She was gentle.

RP: You could, could you talk to her a little easier than your dad?

ST: Oh yes, yes.

RP: Confide in her.

ST: Yes. Because he was so authoritative. But he was tryin' to keep us all in, in line. With that many in the family, he had to be strict. And I realized that too. So my mother and I really talked a lot.

RP: And what was her name?

ST: Shizu.

RP: Shizu.

ST: S-H-I-Z-U.

RP: And her maiden name?

ST: Ushio. U-S-H-I-O.

RP: And she came from the same general area as your father?

ST: Uh-huh. I think it was arranged already. So after he came here and settled, I think he sent for her. At least that's how I understood.

RP: So they... right, so they knew each other before he came to the United States?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. They knew each other. The family knew each other.

RP: And so she was kind of spoken for when he --

ST: Yeah, she was kind of probably waiting.

RP: -- decided to begin a family.

ST: Of course, I never talked very... closely all what she went through. But it sounded as though she was kind of waiting.

RP: So what do you remember most about her besides being able to talk to her?

ST: She was a listener. And of course she had difficulty in hearing, too. But, no, she, she was a real soft mother. Kind mother. So...

RP: And... yeah, farm, farm mothers really had a lot to do with the kids and also I imagine she also worked.

ST: Whenever I can't talk with Father, I would talk with my mother and I'd try to get her...

RP: On your side?

ST: Uh-huh. But, no, I really thought a lot about her. Yeah. She, she was always... she didn't say much but she was ready to listen.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: So the Methodist church was a large part of your growing up.

ST: Yeah, it really was.

RP: And tell us a little bit in a social way how important it was for you.

ST: They had a women's, like a King's Daughters Club at first. And then a men's club. And then finally they changed to women's organization, not KDC any more, King's Daughters Club. We were quite active all through our years.

RP: There was a group called the Epworth League, too?

ST: Epworth League is a combined. King's Daughters Club naturally would be women. But then they changed that and they allowed women to join the Epworth League, which was really originally men's club.

RP: And what are some of the activities of the Epworth?

FS: Huh?

RP: What were some of the activities of the Epworth League?

ST: Oh, the usual thing. We helped the church and like for holidays, we helped plan things. And we would have our own outings.

RP: Where did you go?

ST: American River for swimming, a lot. And we would have meetings with people, like Loomis and different other churches. It was a very active group.

RP: And did you ever take trips, family trips to the mountains or vacations?

ST: Oh, yes, usually we had one annual Florin picnic. We all made lunches and go. And that was fun. But we had our private picnics, too.

RP: Oh, just your family?

ST: Yeah. Go to the American River or to the mountains or wherever.

RP: Did your dad like to fish at all?

ST: Oh, gosh, just fishing and his face lights up and takes off. [Laughs] Oh, yeah. And so even when we'd go on picnics, he would be fishing. So...

RP: That's a man's first responsibility to his family, is to go fishing.

ST: Uh-huh. Oh, he was really strict. The only time he spanked me was my sister Eileen, he just got through telling me, "Watch her," because there was a ditch in front of our home. Before I knew it, she was in there and my father was standing there. And he swatted me once. That was the first and last time. And I could see that he was kinda hurt that he swatted me. And so... but it was kind of funny because she was so quick.

RP: In the water like that.

ST: Before I knew it, she was there and my father was just standing there.

RP: How did he get here so quick?

ST: But that was the first time and last time he ever swatted me. And I was only about, what, seven, eight years old.

RP: So you already had responsibilities for watching somebody younger.

ST: Uh-huh, yes. I had the responsibility of... you know how three and four year olds are. That is one thing that always sticks to me.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: Florin also had a baseball team, too, didn't they?

ST: Yes. I played baseball and I was a pitcher a few times.

RP: Were you?

ST: And a catcher. And then I played shortstop.

RP: Was that a softball team that you played on or...

ST: Uh-huh. Softball, yeah. No, baseball was too hard for us.

RP: But the, but the town didn't have a baseball team?

ST: Yes, they had a baseball, they had a fairly good baseball team. They... the older men were very good ballplayers.

RP: Did any of your brothers play on that team?

ST: Yes, my brother Daniel played. I don't know about David. I don't think he did. And then of course Leo and Sei, they were too young.

RP: So would you go regularly to watch baseball games?

ST: Oh, yes. I still remember. I would be about two or three miles, I would walk by myself. Nobody else wanted to go so I would go and watch the baseball. I really liked the baseball. Hot day, that's what I remember.

RP: You were a very dedicated fan.

ST: Yes, I was a...

RP: Walked three miles.

ST: Maybe because I had a special friend, too.

RP: Who was that?

ST: His name was Bill and he was, he was one of the top players.

RP: What was his last name?

ST: Tsukamoto.

RP: Tsukamoto.

ST: Uh-huh. He, he was a very good ball player.

RP: Bill Tsukamoto was, was he related to Mary Tsukamoto?

ST: No. It's a different family.

RP: Oh, okay.

ST: He and I were classmates, too. He was a real nice guy but he died early, too.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Let's talk about, since you mentioned Bill as a schoolmate, let's talk about school a little bit. Where did you start grammar school, Sumi?

ST: I started the Florin grammar school.

RP: How far was that from your home? Was that a long walk?

ST: Oh, about a mile, a little over a mile.

RP: And you walked there?

ST: We walked every day. Sometime, rainy weather or, then my father would take us. But we walked most of the time.

RP: Now, the Florin grammar school was one of the few segregated schools in the state of California.

ST: It was segregated. We were segregated, that's right.

RP: During the time when you were going there?

ST: Uh-huh. And then eventually we integrated. And one Japanese class was girls... let's see, one grade. And another we went to the, the other American school, went after we segregated.

RP: Oh. Which school was that?

ST: Well, they had the American people there. They had their own school. And then finally we integrated.

RP: And you went to that school?

ST: So then we... one school took one grade and the other school took another grade. It was...

RP: Was there any, any efforts on the part of people in the Florin community to desegregate the school? Or was it just accepted?

ST: I, I think there were, there were other smaller cities. I think there were. But they soon integrated. Because we were asked to integrate. And it was nice.

RP: So, so you went... you were with Japanese American kids, farmers' kids, pretty much for...

ST: Uh-huh. So finally we get to know our American friends.

RP: After you got to...

ST: Uh-huh. And I think it wasn't our choice to integrate... I mean...

RP: Segregate.

ST: To be, you know, separated. It was the way the city was... But they finally decided that we should integrate.

RP: So what was school like for you?

ST: School was a fun place to go. I enjoyed school.

RP: Do you remember any specific experiences, teachers, incidents?

ST: Oh, I took part in baseball... not baseball, softball, basketball, whatever I could play. And whatever program they might have I tried to take part in it.

RP: And you went to Elk Grove High School?

ST: Elk Grove, uh-huh.

RP: And did you have to be bused to the, to Elk Grove or did you walk there or...

ST: No, we had, no, we couldn't walk, it's too far. So the, the bus came for us. So we, you know, we had a long walk from our house to the road, street, so, we wait for the bus, and they brought us back. Some drove.

RP: What are your fond memories of high school?

ST: I enjoyed school and I enjoyed integration. It was nice to be with others. I had a lot of... I think I liked home-making. And, let's see... I know I had other classes but I can't think of it right now.

RP: Besides Japanese Americans and Caucasians, were there other ethnic groups at the school?

ST: Oh, yes. By then everybody was --

RP: Going there.

ST: -- mixed. Uh-huh. I think at first, I think even the blacks were kind of integrated, I mean, separated.

RP: In that area.

ST: Uh-huh, so now when you go to high school everybody's there, which was nice. I liked it better. I see enough of Japanese. [Laughs]

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Just another question about the Florin community, were there a number of Japanese-owned businesses in the Florin, town of Florin?

ST: Yes. Well, there were several businesses, you know, owning stores, lawyers, people like that had their own offices. And...

RP: Do you remember places that your family used to go to shop?

ST: Uh-huh. We usually made a special trip to Sacramento to shop. There wasn't much to shop in Florin. So...

RP: So that was like a trip to the big city.

ST: Yeah. Oh, it was fun.

RP: What did you, what else did you do when you went to Sacramento?

ST: Went to movies or special programs. Uh-huh. And parks. So, it opened the world for us when my brothers were able to drive.

RP: So you would go with them?

ST: Uh-huh, yeah, they were, they're kind enough to take us. Yeah, especially, I don't know if you met Dan, but he was always ready to take us anywhere we wanted to go.

RP: Did they have their own, did your brothers have their own cars or did they use your...

ST: No, they usually drove the --

RP: Dad's car.

ST: -- family car. No, my father couldn't afford too many cars. So, usually we drove, my brother drove the family car. And it, it was better for them to take us because they understand us more, you know, we want to roam around. Yeah, it's my father, he just takes us to one place. And there was a photographer, a family friend, and he would always say, "When you finish shopping, you come over here and wait for me." This photographer is a friend, so that's what we used to do. But when my brothers took us we, you know, he kind of followed us and we had more...

RP: Freedom.

ST: Freedom. That's right.

RP: "Let's go there. Let's go there. This is all so exciting."

ST: Uh-huh. Yeah. So, that was more fun. But, these were very nice people, too, so I enjoyed them, too.

RP: You told me an interesting story about working on the farm and you would take the, the grape --

ST: Oh yes.

RP: -- wood that had been cut and, and what, what was done with that?

ST: We, we picked them, put it in the box, and then we would carry it out to the side where, to the road, and then we'd get another box and fill it up again, do the same thing over again. Same thing with the strawberries.

RP: Did you have a roadside stand?

ST: Huh?

RP: Did the family have a little roadside stand where they sold fruit?

ST: Not too often. I guess they didn't care to too much. We did a few times, but...

RP: Another ritual of farm life for Japanese families was the traditional bath.

ST: Well, we just do what the parents tell us, the father tells us to do.

RP: Did you have, did you have a bath, an ofuro?

ST: The bath? The outside bath? Yes. My youngest brother, Leo and Sei, that was their job.

RP: Oh.

ST: To start a bath. It takes a little time. You have to get the brushes, start the fire and get it hot enough. It takes a little time and that was their job. And I can still see them sitting there watching the fire. [Laughs]

RP: And so what would you use for wood for the fire?

ST: Oh, the brushes?

RP: Yeah, the grapes?

ST: Yeah, the grape brushes.

RP: Oh, the grape brushes.

ST: Uh-huh, or anything. Anything that has to be burned we just throw it onto that fire. That was a good way to get rid of things, too.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: How about Japanese holidays? Did you celebrate...

ST: Yes.

RP: 'Course New Year's..

ST: Most, Uh-huh, most of the holidays my mother would start fixing things so we would help her. And of course set the table and clean up the rooms so that we could have guests.

RP: That was, that would be New Year's?

ST: New Year's and maybe holidays, special holidays. Sometimes we would be invited so we wouldn't have to do much at home.

RP: What was your favorite holiday or the one that you remember the most?

ST: I guess New Year's. We had a lot of people over and of course we would go and visit them, too. And Thanksgiving was mostly at church. We all had big dinners at church. I think we spent a lot of time at the Methodist church, for holidays, too. And that was fun. We had programs, things like that.

RP: So what was your, your favorite food growing up? The thing that you liked your mom to make the most?

ST: Food? Oh, of course sushi and special Japanese foods. Because I wasn't very good at that when I was growing up. I wasn't much of a cook. My sister May was more of her helper. So she was a better cook. I liked to kind of run around.

RP: You did?

ST: Yes.

RP: With your brothers.

ST: Yeah, brothers or help at the church or whatever. So, but she stayed home more to help Mother. Of course you, you haven't met May. She was just a year or two younger than I was.

RP: Now your dad all the, had all these grapes that he grew. Did he make wine? Did he make his own wine?

ST: Oh yes.

RP: How about sake?

ST: One thing that I didn't do was they wear real clean boots and they step on the grape to make wine. That's one thing... I watched them, but that's one thing they wouldn't let me do.

RP: But you would be allowed to drink, have some wine during the, an evening meal?

ST: Uh-huh. So, naturally you have to clean the grapes and things like that. We did all that. And they would, and the men would get the clean boots and step on it.

RP: How about sake, did he make sake, too?

ST: I think my father kind of made it for himself, uh-huh. I think that takes a little more time and expertise, I think.

RP: So he would drink on holidays, he would...

ST: Oh, oh yes. He always had a wine and the sake. But of course, I don't think... I never saw him drunk, maybe once. And my mother didn't like that so that was it.

RP: Not a good example for the kids.

ST: Huh? Yeah. No, but, no, my father was a pretty decent person. Other than that one time. It's not very pleasant when they get drunk. [Laughs]

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: So tell us about your life after you graduated. Do you... I think you mentioned earlier that you went to San Francisco to live with your sister and her husband?

ST: Yes. I... my sister invited me and she said she thought that I should learn some sewing. So I started and then she moved so I moved with her to Los Angeles. And, and that's when, that's when I really went to sewing school. But you know I was kind of lazy. I wasn't that crazy about sewing school but I went because my father wanted me to, to learn how to sew. And I can make dresses and things but it's a chore.

RP: Did you, after you get out of high school, did you want to go to college?

ST: I wanted to go to college. And by then we were in camp. And so I finally was accepted at the Lincoln... see, there's a college there, Wesleyan college. I was accepted. So I told my father I want to go to Lincoln, Nebraska. Then he said, "No, you can't go." And I said, "Why?" "Because," he said, "I want you to marry." I said, "I don't have anybody." He said, "Yes we do." I didn't know they were arranging Roy. I didn't know that. So I was making my own arrangement. I wanted to advance my education a little more. And so then when he said that I didn't argue. I said okay. So I dropped this, all this, yeah.

RP: Right. So sewing school was kind of a, sort of a compromise.

ST: Uh-huh, yes. That's useful.

RP: Right. And was there a, was there a double standard in terms of parents wanting their sons to go to college and, and their daughters to become good homemakers?

ST: Maybe my brothers weren't that encouraged to go to college. They were... well, in the first place they had to stay and help Father on the farm. He, he needed their help. So I think actually... I never heard them complain.

RP: So your, you've lived on a farm, you grew up on a farm your whole life and now you find yourself in Los Angeles, what kind of shock was that like?

ST: Yeah. Well, I thought it was nice to be away from the farm, too. Not that I disliked it, but it was not for me. I wanted something other than, more for women to do.

RP: So you, you were able to live with a family in Los Angeles?

ST: Uh-huh. I lived with a very nice family. I had two families. One of them moved away someplace so then she found me this, another family. So they were both very nice families. And they were very kind. And sometimes they would ask me to eat with them and it's so, it was just not my thing to do but I did it. They were very pleasant. So it felt like a family.

RP: And what area did you live in? Was it west Los Angeles area?

ST: I'm sorry?

RP: What area of Los Angeles did you...

ST: Oh, this was near, near Beverly Hills, I think. I don't think it was in the Beverly Hills because that was elite area. But it was close to it. And it was very nice area. They had a bus system, too. Since I didn't drive. I made sure that I had a bus system. And they were very good to me.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: And then how did you, how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Sumi?

ST: Of course, it was a shock. And of course I wondered what was going to happen. So, I immediately had to go back home because of that.

RP: Right after...

ST: Yeah, uh-huh, the Pearl Harbor, Uh-huh. And the, these people were very nice and very sympathetic. So, so I immediately went back.

RP: And so did your sister?

ST: Huh?

RP: Your sister left and went back, too?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. We all...

RP: Went together.

ST: We had to because see, they were talking about evacuation already.

RP: And it was very uncertain what would happen.

ST: Uh-huh. So the family have to be together otherwise you'd be separated. So we all went back. And the evacuation wasn't that bad.

RP: Can you describe for us what you did?

ST: In the camp?

RP: Before you, during evacuation --

ST: Oh, you mean to prepare?

RP: -- to prepare.

ST: Well, I think, as I said earlier, he sold it for forty thousand, the whole farm, 80 acres.

RP: All the equipment and everything?

ST: Everything. And then it was sad because it was worth much more than that. But we had no time. We just... it was just have to take the first buyer or second buyer.

RP: And did your father put the money in a bank or what, what happened to that $40,000?

ST: You know, I really don't know. I think he must have put it in the bank. He had to have some money after the camp. So, I didn't question him at all. So, so when I was marrying Roy, he gave me some money. I think about a thousand or something. He said, "This is to help you get started."

RP: He might have taken some of that money with him to camp, a little bit, just to...

ST: Uh-huh, yeah, I think so. So, no, as I said, I was ready to leave for my nursing school and then I thought I'd better listen to my father, get married. And I never regretted it. We had a good life.

RP: What was, what were some of the thoughts running through your mind about this whole evacuation thing and that you had to leave your home?

ST: You mean how I felt about it?

RP: How did you feel about it and I know, I know the parents were usually very stoic and...

ST: You know, maybe I'm different. But I thought it was kind of a good thing for many of us.

RP: For your family?

ST: Uh-huh, for my family, too. We were just existing on the farm and I think this gave us opportunities to do, like my brothers, do whatever they want to do or be independent, and not be stuck on the farm.

RP: How about your father? He'd been farming for a while.

ST: And I think he was happy, too. I think he was getting pretty tired or it. And you know, when he bought a house, he can go fishing every day, which he couldn't do before. And he was very happy about that, I could see in his face. So, he probably did not regret it that much. And he, he helped my brothers doing the gardening. He, they gave him an easy job to do.

RP: After camp.

ST: Uh-huh. So, that was it. And then pretty soon I was, well then I was already married by then.

RP: Where did you assemble to be evacuated? Do you remember where you went? Was it the Florin area near the railroad or a train station?

ST: Oh you mean at the time of evacuation? I think we, we gathered at some place to get, get on the train.

RP: You went by train?

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: Were there any neighbors, Caucasians or anybody, who came by and offered support or...

ST: We only had one Caucasian friend which was across the road. We used to talk to each other and whenever we had crops, we used to take it to them. But that was the extent of it. We didn't go back and forth, have parties or things like that. But we were just good friends. And so, I think my father went to talk to them. And then the others were all practically all Japanese around us anyway. We were all evacuees.

RP: And was... the Florin area, from what I've heard, was divided up into four zones or sections and each section went to a different camp.

ST: Uh-huh, yes.

RP: But the area of your neighborhood or...

ST: Uh-huh, but the good thing was that most of our neighbors were evacuated to the same camp. So we felt at home. We weren't thrown in with all the strangers.

RP: Strangers. There were a lot of different people from Los Angeles.

ST: Oh, yes. Our block was mostly Florin people. But the next block were all L.A. and all strangers. So, so that made us, easier for us to get settled.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: And do you, which block do you, did you live in, Sumi?

ST: Block 30. We were at the very end corner block.

RP: Okay. And what, what were your initial impressions of the camp? Or what did... let's back up and what, what did you know about Manzanar or these camps before you went to them? Were there rumors or things that you heard?

ST: Well, it was situated in a, below the mountain. It was beautiful, Mount Whitney. And the camp life, since we didn't have to go out the farm work, it was, it was a nice change for us.

RP: It was a break?

ST: Uh-huh. And I worked as a nurse's aide all the time I was there.

RP: Did you start working immediately at the time you got there?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. Yeah, immediately, yeah, applied for a nurse's aide.

RP: And what made you decide to take that job?

ST: Because I wanted to take up nursing. So, that's when I decided to go to nursing, my father had this Roy lined up.

RP: Other plans. His secret plan for you.

ST: Uh-huh. So I didn't object. I thought I... and I don't regret.

RP: What was working in the hospital like? Can you tell us what were some of the...

ST: Oh yeah. It was something I liked to do so I enjoyed it very much, taking care of patients.

RP: And can you kind of go through a typical day for us? What were some of your duties and activities?

ST: Well, you take care of each patient, bathe them, make them comfortable, feed them if they need to be fed. And pass the foods and ask them if there's anything we can do for them. And we had a little free time. They, they take their naps and things like that. Yeah, it, it was something that I liked to do. And I... there were a lot of other ladies who --

RP: Did you make some...

ST: -- did the same thing. And men too, there were orderlies.

RP: Do you remember anybody in particular that you got to be really good friends with at the hospital?

ST: Yes, there were a few, but I can't remember their names now. It's been so long ago.

RP: Yes. What did you like to do together with the other hospital people? Did you just have little get-togethers or parties or...

ST: Well, yes, we used to have our own parties, uh-huh. And then of course our hospital would have parties too. So I enjoyed it very much. It's something I'd like to do.

RP: I'm gonna mention a few names of doctors and people that...

ST: Well, the only one I remember now is Dr. Goto. He was a head physician.

RP: Right.

ST: And, you know, I was thinking about the doctors. I couldn't think of others. I can see their face but the name doesn't come back to me. But they were all very nice.


ST: The camp life was, I think it's what you make of it. You can pout and mood around. Some people did. They were very resentful. But I thought it was a good place to make friends and we didn't have to work anymore. And that was nice for, for me anyway, not to get out on the farm and work in the hot sun or cold weather.

RP: And it was a different, different job that you took up there. And so did your father work at all in the camp?

ST: I think he worked in the kitchen for a while. And he enjoyed that, too. You don't have to go out and get the horse and...

RP: Quite a change there.

ST: Yeah, it was. I think he really enjoyed it and he looked much better, too. More relaxed. And of...

RP: Just, just to go back to our initial question of what do you, what were your impressions of Dr. Goto?

ST: Oh, he... of course he was very businesslike and very efficient.

RP: Some, some other folks who've talked about him say that he was very arrogant and very macho, very controlling.

ST: He, he may have been but I never had that kind of opportunity with him. I just pass him and he'll say hello and I'll say hello. I may, I may have asked him some question, but not closely. Maybe that's the difference. Some of them maybe had to work under him. Yeah. And of course when you're running a camp like that you have to be macho and all that. You can't be willy nilly. It's a business. So, no, I have no objections to Dr. Goto.

RP: Do you remember any of the Caucasian nurses that you worked with?

ST: Uh-huh. They were all very nice.

RP: Uh-huh. There was a, a Josephine Hawes. Do you remember?

ST: Yes. Wasn't she, was the head nurse?

RP: She was the head nurse.

ST: Uh-huh. She was nice and there was a few other nurses too but I can't think of their name now.

RP: There was one nurse there, Christine Little.

ST: Wasn't she a doctor's wife or...

RP: She was, yeah, she was the wife of Dr. Little.

ST: Yeah, yes. I didn't deal with her much. I had no business to. But I know who she was. So I can't say anything about her. [Laughs]

RP: No you can't. The hospital was, was part of a very important event in camp. After this riot or incident that occurred, and two people were shot and...

ST: Uh-huh. That was scary but I happened to be off work that night. So I missed a lot of that which I was kinda glad. It would have been very scary. Because they really ran in through the hospital and tried to do something.

RP: They were looking for a gentleman who...

ST: Uh-huh. So I heard about it after I went back on my duty that next night. So I, so I was very thankful I wasn't in that. So I don't, I can't really tell you what happened.

RP: So did you work primarily... did you have a special ward that you worked in?

ST: Yes, because I was a nurse's aide. I, you just go wherever they ask, they tell you to.

RP: So you worked with children and...

ST: Yes, I worked with the children. Not as much, but I worked with the children and mostly adults and I enjoyed that. Because my intention was to learn the trade as much as I can which I had in mind to go to nursing school. But of course I couldn't follow it through. But I don't think I regret it that much. I had a good marriage. I had a good daughter. [Laughs]

RP: Right.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: And how much did you recall about social life at Manzanar? Did you go to dances or movies?

ST: I think it's what you do for yourself. You take part in it or you don't take part in it. And I tried to take pretty much part where I could go. Now you, when you're on as a nurse's aide you have night duty, day duty, it depends.

RP: So you had different shifts?

ST: Uh-huh, that's right.

RP: Sometimes you had a graveyard shift?

ST: Uh-huh, yes. I have, I had every shift. Everybody had to take every shift. So, I enjoyed it and so I took whatever program that was available at the, when I was free.

RP: Now did you, did you do any dating in camp before you met Roy?

ST: Not, not that kind of a dating. There was a fellow that I liked, but what can you do on a date in the camp? [Laughs] You can't even go to a movie unless they have the movie for everybody. There's no separate movie to go to or maybe we might have taken a walk. He was a nice guy. But he, he died early. I don't know what happened, but he died early.

RP: Now, was your entire family, did your entire family go to Manzanar?

ST: Yes. We all went.

RP: Everybody.

ST: We practically took the whole, whole barrack.

RP: You took up the whole...

ST: In fact, I think three barracks, three rooms and then the fourth my brothers roomed with the other men who didn't have their own barrack. So they enjoyed it very much. They were friends.

RP: Like a little bachelor pad.

ST: Yeah, that's right, that's what it was. They enjoyed it.

RP: So, you said you were in Block 30 or 31?

ST: Thirty. It was at the very end.

RP: At the very end. And do you remember the barrack number and the room number?

ST: Mine must have been, it was the third one.

RP: Third barrack?

ST: Uh-huh. On Block 30, the third block, third room. I forgot the room number.

RP: Oh, okay. So Block 30, barrack three.

ST: Barrack something.

RP: Okay.

ST: I guess I knew exactly where it is so I don't even remember the number.

RP: So, who did you stay with in your barrack room?

ST: Oh, my parents.

RP: Oh, your parents.

ST: Uh-huh. See, the boys slept next barrack with their friends, my brothers. And then the girls, my sister and I, well, there, there were three of us, four of us? Anyway, May, myself, Eileen, so the three of us stayed with the parents in the third room. And the boys slept on the fourth room with the other men.

RP: Now you had these, you had these sewing skills that you had acquired from going to school. You know sewing, the sewing school?

ST: Sewing room?

RP: Sewing. Sewing school?

ST: Oh, sewing, sewing school.

RP: Yeah. So did you, when you had free time, did you sew clothes or curtains or anything for the barrack?

ST: Not much.

RP: Not much.

ST: Because as a nurse's aide I had different shifts. And whatever I could help I did, but not much. I was... and then the hospitals had their things going, too, so I would join them.

RP: Did you ever go out of camp on any hospital activities?

ST: You mean, to, for enjoyment?

RP: Yeah, outings.

ST: Well, let's see. Yes, they, they had some... not really outing. You know I, I can't remember that now. So apparently I didn't do too much of that.

RP: So what was your least favorite food that, in camp, at the mess hall? Something that...

ST: Well, everybody complained but I, having come from a whole big family, you're used to everything. So I didn't care. I enjoyed everything. I know a lot of people were complaining. But I ate whatever they served and after all, you're hungry, too.

RP: Right. You're very hungry.

ST: Uh-huh. And you don't have too many things in your apartment. The stores were pretty far from us at the, at that time. So, no I don't have much complaint about the camp. I made fairly good friends. And I enjoyed working in the hospital.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Let's talk about how you met Roy. You said that your... he came to...

ST: No, I was going to leave for Lincoln, Nebraska.

RP: You were going to go to nursing school.

ST: And then my father said, "No, we have somebody for you that we want you to meet." And I met him and then we went for walks around the camp several times. And I thought well, I guess, it's okay.

RP: Now, had you heard about this guy before you met him? Did you know who he was?

ST: I, yes, because he was a reports officer in camp so I used to... I knew his name, but I never met him. And he used to come around the hospital to get some news, things like that. I've seen him, but never talked to him.

RP: From what, from what Karen told me earlier, Roy had not shown any inclination to get married whatsoever. And so his parents decided to, to push him along a little bit and they hired this family friend, baishakunin, to try to find him...

ST: Uh-huh, yeah, well...

RP: You became, you were the key prospect.

ST: Well, I was the person that they suggested. And I thought, my gosh. He's a camp reports officer. They must have... you know there're a lot of women, I used to hear, that were interested in him. And I thought how, why me? And I thought about it and I thought about it, I thought maybe, maybe I shouldn't say yes. But as I took several walks with him, talk about family. He seemed to have a good family. So then I consented. And I never regret it. [Laughs]

RP: Well let's... I'd like to talk a little bit about the marriage.

ST: Yes.

RP: Where... who married you?

ST: Reverend... he was Japanese minister. Gosh, the name doesn't come out right now. He was a Japanese minister.

RP: And where were you married?

ST: In the camp.

RP: But, was there a Methodist church in the camp or...

ST: Yes. We had a Methodist church. So we were married in the Methodist. And of course his family was a very long Methodist family. Strong, strong... his grandfather started the Methodist movement in Hokkaido. So when I heard all that, I thought, well, I can't go wrong. [Laughs]

RP: So tell us a little bit about the wedding day. You had, did you have some of your close friends as attendants or...

ST: Oh, yes. I just had my... let's see, my sister for an attendant. Just one attendant. And we had, I had a traditional wedding gown and veil and everything. No, it was a very nice, I thought it was a very nice wedding.

RP: And so how did you get your wedding gown? Did you make it or...

ST: Yes. The lady there was a seamstress whom I knew so she made it. And the veil and everything. So...

RP: And who was Roy's best man?

ST: I think it was his brother from -- not I think -- it was Ken from, his younger brother. He came from Salt Lake City to be his attendant. So that was nice, too. So, and... who, who was my attendant?

RP: You said it was your sister?

ST: I think my sister, yeah. And we just decided to have one attendant. Clothes were kinda hard in the camp. So...

RP: And how about a reception afterwards?

ST: Uh-huh. So we had... everybody was sitting there so we just had refreshments passed out, while they were all sitting there.

RP: Did you have a cake?

ST: Yes, cake and the whole thing.

RP: Everything.

ST: Uh-huh. Yeah, and I thought it was... it's too bad we didn't have a table, but there's no facility for that. So, I thought it was...

RP: So you must have had, you must have had all your friends and neighbors from Florin...

ST: Uh-huh, yes. Practically my whole block.

RP: Block 30.

ST: Not whole block, a lot of my same block friends. Yeah, the church was full.

RP: That's a joyful occasion.

ST: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: In a place like Manzanar.

ST: And, and because he didn't have a family there, it was smaller. My family is so big.

RP: His parents, were Roy's parents in the camp, too?

ST: Parents?

RP: Roy's parents, were they in the camp?

ST: No. They, they were in Salt Lake City.

RP: Did they come...

ST: Yeah, so they didn't have to evacuate.

RP: Okay. But they came to the wedding, I assume.

ST: Yes. They came to the wedding. No, my father-in-law couldn't because he had a heart condition. So my mother-in-law came.

RP: I guess that's the first time you met 'em.

ST: Yes, that's right. And I thought, "Oh, I'd better behave myself." [Laughs] She, she was a school teacher and pretty proper person. But very nice.

RP: Right, you're definitely under the microscope in those situations.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: Yeah.

ST: So, because I was not a college graduate, I was very self-conscious. And I did even tell my husband that before. I said, "You know I'm not a college graduate and I don't know how your parents would think about me."

RP: What did he say?

ST: Huh? He said. "If I were worried about that I wouldn't have even asked you." So they get me, gave me a confidence. He was just taking me as I am. So... and our marriage lasted, what, forty-eight years, something like that. No, fifty-four years.

RP: Yeah.

ST: That's right. We celebrated our fiftieth and he had a massive heart attack at, when he was eighty-four. Yeah, that, that was a shock.

RP: And then a week later you left camp?

ST: A week later... what did you say?

RP: A week after your marriage you left camp?

ST: Uh-huh. Let's see... what happened. You mean after I married him?

RP: Right, how long was it before you went to Denver?

ST: Oh, one week.

RP: One week?

ST: Uh-huh. One week. It, it takes that long for us to get permission and everything.

RP: And Roy had told you that he had plans to...

ST: Yeah, and he already had a job here at the Rocky Shimpo. So, he had to be there a certain time so I had to hurry. I wasn't prepared for that, but it was, you know, in a camp you don't have much to take care anyway.

RP: So how did you feel about... you had just gotten married and now you're going to Denver?

ST: Well, you know, the excitement is there. Just married. I hated to leave the family but once you're married you can't think of the family. So, no, I... it wasn't hard. It was sort of exciting.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: And how did you feel about Denver when you got settled in here?

ST: I thought Denver was a very nice place.

RP: Was there a Japanese American community already set up here?

ST: Uh-huh. Because he was with newspaper, you do meet a lot of Japanese here, too. And of course since I grew up in a Japanese community it made me a little bit at home. I didn't feel as I was in a strange place. So, I was very easily situated here.

RP: Now Roy and you were kind of a, a team as far as these stories go. He'd have an idea and then you...

ST: Oh yes.

RP: Tell us about what you did.

ST: I did all the calls for him. Find out all their personal life or information. I did all the calls for him and got the information. I was able to do that, thankfully. And then so he would write the story out of that. So I had to be very accurate. But we, it was nice to know that I could help him.

RP: And what kind of stories did Roy tend to want to, tend to like to write? Human interest stories, kind of feature stories about...

ST: Yeah, I think several, several aspects of stories. But I think he liked to write about people and that was easy for me to get information. Others he had to look for it himself. But for about people, I called most of them for him and got the information.

RP: And you, and you had a chance to get to know them, too?

ST: Uh-huh, yes. That was a good time to get to know them because I was a stranger here.

RP: Right.

ST: And they were all very nice.

RP: And, of course another theme of your life has been your involvement with Methodist, the Methodist church. Did you find a Methodist church in Denver that you could kind of settle into?

ST: Oh yeah. I think we felt at home because we knew the minister from before. At least my husband did because he was from Los Angeles. And no, it was very easy to get acquainted with Denver, and become part of Denver. I didn't feel very lonely or anything. I thought I would.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: Another organization...

ST: The Japanese American Citizens League?

RP: The Japanese American Citizens League...

ST: Yeah, he was a representative for the Mountain Plains for about five years and that helped a lot.

RP: In what way? What did he do?

ST: He had Mountain Plains area, from Alabama, Arkansas, to Montana and up north, south, the states in between them. So like, Nebraska, Montana, all those states. So he traveled a lot.

RP: And what did he... was he trying to recruit members to the JACL?

ST: Uh-huh, recruit and talk to them and explain to them what the JACL is. Because they were completely ignorant about JACL. And amazingly, many of them joined. Because it pertained to their problems, too.

RP: Right, so many of these folks were farmers in isolated areas and might be dealing with issues of discrimination or prejudice.

ST: That's right. And I think, maybe not all of them, but some of them did have discrimination problems. So I think it helped them to have somebody there to go and talk to the people.

RP: So Roy was kind of like a missionary. That was his --

ST: Yeah, more or less.

RP: -- going on his mission.

ST: That's right. To try to...

RP: Bring some people into the organization.

ST: Inform people that we're just Japanese Americans like anybody else.

RP: He told me that that was very beneficial because occasionally these people would come to Denver and look you up and you were able to...

ST: Uh-huh, yes. Oh, I was busy. Everywhere he visited, they were gonna come to Denver, they would look us up, which was nice. It was a lot of work for me, but it was nice. And I got to meet a lot of people that otherwise I couldn't.

RP: And eventually you got involved in the JACL, too.

ST: Uh-huh, yeah. Therefore I was involved.

RP: What did you do?

ST: Well, I helped him and I, of course, I became a what? A secretary for several years and then I was a membership chair for about eighteen years. I just gave it up last December.

RP: And so you were responsible for increasing membership, too?

ST: Uh-huh. Yeah, at the time I think they had about seventy members. And then when I gave it up I, we had a little over two hundred. Which is fair, could have been more. But, at least I didn't decrease it. And I enjoyed it.

RP: There was, the other organization that was prominent in, in Colorado, was the Japanese Association?

ST: Japanese Association?

RP: And you had a, a role in that as well.

ST: Uh-huh. I think Japanese Association started kind of late, later after the JACL. I think it was probably about twenty years ago. And I was secretary for a while and then I was also membership chair, too. And I gave all that up, too. At my age I thought younger people should take over. [Laughs]

RP: That's always been the issue with those organizations. There're not enough young people.

ST: Yes, uh-huh. And some were receptive but some said, "Why should I join?"

RP: So what would the association do? What was their role or purpose?

ST: It's more of a community thing. Holidays, things like that.

RP: A social...

ST: A social. Tried to get people together. So, I guess I was always interested in being active.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: Now Roy worked on the Rocky Shimpo. He worked in the English language section of the paper?

ST: Uh-huh, yeah, English.

RP: So I assume that his Japanese was never very, he was never fluent.

ST: He read some Japanese, but not enough. But that was okay because his job was the English section. And so, so as I said, he made me call most of them to get information. And then he relied on my information to write his story.

RP: Yeah, that's a lot, that's the groundwork for...

ST: And, and if he wanted more he would call himself. More pertinent questions, he would call himself. But at least he'd get started on it. And it saved him a lot of time, too.

RP: So did you have any issues of prejudice and discrimination come up during the time that you spent in Denver?

ST: Uh, you mean issues like personal issues or...

RP: Personally, or...

ST: Community issues? I guess there was, but I, if you ask me right now I can't think of it. There were a lot of issues at the time, especially because people were new here. And they were curious about a lotta things, or wanted the information. So, much of them, I couldn't help them. But some of them he would have to take care of it. So I was pretty much a part of it for a while. And it was fun.

RP: Tell us about Roy, the person, during your marriage. What kind of personality did he have?

ST: My husband?

RP: Yeah.

ST: He was a little difficult, wasn't he? [Laughs] But, but he was willing to listen. But he was a little difficult person. He had a strong personality. So I had to be kind of careful.

RP: Would you say his personality kind of was similar to your father's personality in some ways?

ST: What?

RP: Your father's personality being strict and very --

ST: Yeah, he was very strict.

RP: -- traditional.

ST: Yes, uh-huh. He doesn't want any wrong answers or... answers have to be right. So...

RP: Accurate information.

ST: Yeah, uh-huh, that's right. Accurate, otherwise he'll be in trouble.

RP: Right.

ST: Yeah, so... that part he was very strict. So, so I had to be careful, too. But, but it was nice to know he trusted me enough to talk to all these people.

RP: Yeah.

ST: I think he, he enjoyed writing more than contacting people. I think that was his thing.

RP: There was another very influential Japanese American journalist in...

ST: He's what?

RP: I'm sorry, there was another, a very important Japanese American journalist in Denver?

ST: Oh, Bill Hosokawa.

RP: Bill Hosokawa. And I'm just curious as to Roy's... what was the extent of Roy's relationship with Bill?

ST: It was... what do you say? Okay.

RP: Acquaintances?

ST: Uh-huh. At first it was awkward.

RP: How? Why was it awkward?

ST: Because I think both of them were trying to do the same thing. And, and I must say I think Bill is a better writer. He really is. But, you can't be thinking about that, you know. You have, just have to do your best. And, and I eventually... and I don't think they were on speaking terms because of that. But eventually, at least I tried hard to be friendly with Bill and tried to make it a little easier for us.

RP: So they had two different approaches to their writing.

ST: Yes. Oh yes. Undoubtedly Bill was a better writer and maybe Bill thought that maybe he should be the one to be writing, I don't know. But of course he was writing for the Post, see.

RP: Right. The Denver Post.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: Was the Rocky Shimpo the, the only Japanese newspaper at that time, when you first came to Denver?

ST: It was strictly Japanese paper did you just say?

RP: Oh, was it, was the Rocky Shimpo the only Japanese paper?

ST: No, there was the Colorado Times. And a person by name of Henry, no, Tamura? I forgot his first name. Frank. He was running it. Of course, Frank was younger than Roy. And of course there is no competition. Roy just does whatever he has to do and Frank is doing whatever he has to do. But there was, at the beginning, there was a little bit something.

RP: There was.

ST: Because it would be a competition. I think that was kind of ironed out.

RP: And Roy wrote for the Rocky Shimpo for most of his time in Denver?

ST: Yes, until his death.

RP: Really? He was writing...

ST: Uh-huh. Actually, towards the end he was just writing an article. And, and that's how he wanted it. He, he didn't want to be responsible for that whole English section.

RP: Right. He'd be like guest columnist or...

ST: Yes, uh-huh. And they wanted that, too, so it worked out fine. So, so I think he was more relieved and I was relieved, too, because I didn't have to run around getting stories. [Laughs]

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: Well Sumi, I want to just kind of... we kind of left your family in camp. And I kind of want to backtrack and kind of follow them in their, their process of resettling. So, they... did the rest of your family all move to Los Angeles after Manzanar?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. They all did.

RP: And they settled in west Los Angeles?

ST: West Los Angeles.

RP: I think you said that your, a couple of your brothers became gardeners in west Los Angeles?

ST: Yes. They did.

RP: And your father helped them.

ST: Yeah. My father helped them. And so now I guess they're retired or they're gone.

RP: They stayed in the Los Angeles area...

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: ...the rest of their life.

ST: I don't know what Leo and Sei do now.

RP: Leo and George?

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: I think they go fishing.

ST: I guess they're all retired now.

RP: Uh-huh. I met George at a, I think one of the Manzanar pilgrimages a couple a years ago. And he came, he came up because he heard that the Florin group was coming to a pilgrimage there. And so he joined, joined the pilgrimage.

ST: So you know my brother?

RP: Yes, I know him. I met George there and then I met Leo at a high school reunion at Manzanar. Hopefully they'll both be at the reunion in, I think it's October.

ST: Which reunion?

RP: The Manzanar High School reunion.

ST: Oh, high school reunion. Are they meeting in Manzanar?

RP: No.

ST: No?

RP: Oh, no. It's always Las Vegas.

ST: Oh, Las Vegas. [Laughs] Of course.

RP: Yeah, you know, there's a lot more action, there's a lot more action in Las Vegas than there is at Manzanar. It's just the camp, but...

ST: Oh, I've been to Las Vegas a couple of times.

RP: So, did you get a chance... would you go down to Los Angeles to visit your family?

ST: Not lately. I haven't been back for about four or five years.

RP: But early on, you were visiting and...

ST: Yes, if I do, I'll be visiting over there. But, somehow I started my dizziness and so if I'm traveling alone and if that starts I would be in, have a problem. So I kind of have been staying home, closely to home right now.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: So have you been back to Manzanar since you left?

ST: It's been about four or five years since I've been to Manzanar.

RP: Really?

ST: Yes, uh-huh. So I haven't been back there. Are they having anything special?

RP: Well, we have, yes, we have an interpretive center, a visitor center, kind of a museum type of thing.

ST: Oh, uh-huh. Yeah, I don't think I've seen the new museum. Someday I'd like to see but I don't know.

RP: It would be nice to have you visit there.

ST: What kind of things do they have in that museum or are they going to have?

RP: We have exhibits and talk about the, about life in camp and some of the...

ST: Is this an ongoing thing?

RP: Uh-huh.

ST: Is that right?

RP: So, National Park Service runs or administers Manzanar as part of a unit of the Park Service. A few more questions about camp. One about Robert Brown.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: He was a good friend of, of Roy.

ST: Yes.

RP: I think he might have even been his boss.

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: But you mentioned to me that they both went to school together at USC.

ST: That's right, that I know of.

RP: Do you, did you know Bob in camp at all?

ST: Yes. He took us around and that's where you saw the picture.

RP: He took pictures of you at the...

ST: Yeah. He took us around and took all those pictures. Yes, uh-huh.

RP: I'm sorry, I forgot to bring some of those with me. But you might have them.

ST: I think I have some.

RP: There's a picture of Roy and you sitting on a couple of rocks near that park.

ST: By the bridge?

RP: Yeah, by the bridge. There's another picture by the bridge.

ST: Yeah, he took several picture of us and I think I have... that's the one I came across the other day. I don't know where... I was thinking, "Where did I leave the others?" I don't know if I have others or not.

RP: So that, was that the only time you ever visited that garden, Merritt Park?

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: Was when Rob, Bob took pictures of you?

ST: Uh-huh. Yes. He wanted especially there because there's a nice scenery.

RP: Like nice scenery. Yeah, it's a very beautiful picture of both of you.

ST: I don't know about that, but the scenery is beautiful. [Laughs]

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

ST: Was there anything else you had?

RP: Couple more questions just about in the 1980s there was an effort to obtain an apology from the government for putting Japanese Americans in camps like Manzanar, the redress. And the JACL supported that effort. Was Roy heavily involved in...

ST: Yeah, he was involved at the very beginning, he was.

RP: Was he?

ST: He was. He went, I think, different areas to talk to them about it. Yes. Because that was his job at the time. So, he was quite active in JACL for a while and then after a while, as you grow older...

RP: Did Roy have hobbies or other interests?

ST: I think, well, he liked to smoke which... but I think he liked to write. He, I think he had a book in mind. But I don't think he ever...

RP: He never actually started writing?

ST: No.

RP: Did you, did he give you any idea of what that book would have been about?

ST: No. I never asked. Book or something, he wanted to write. But, he, he never was able to do it. Yeah, he was what, eighty-four? I think if he had a few more years he probably would have done it.

RP: Both you and Roy received an apology letter from the President in 1988 or '90?

ST: Oh, like everybody else? Yes. I think we all did.

RP: And a, and a...

ST: I don't know if, I don't know where it is. But I know I have it somewhere.

RP: And there was a check too, reparations.

ST: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: $20,000.

ST: Wasn't that what, $20,000?

RP: Did you have any, did that trigger any feelings or thoughts on your mind about your experience during the war? Did you feel that that was something that was owed you, an apology?

ST: Well, I wouldn't say owed me, but I appreciated it. And it was a helpful thing for all of us. I think a lot of people lost a lot of money at the time.

RP: Including your dad.

ST: Uh-huh. During the evacuation. And, oh, I think we all appreciated that. We didn't expect it. And I think it helped us. So, and I think we were trying to educate her, too. [Indicating daughter] And that helped us, too.

RP: Oh, the money that was... so you see, sounds like you see your camp experience in a very positive light. That it was --

ST: Uh-huh.

RP: -- you were able to become...

ST: When you put it all together, for me, it was a good thing for us. I didn't want to live the farm. It gave me opportunity to do something a little easier. I think that's the main thing. And I think it was the same thing for my father, too, because he, he really enjoyed having to, having the chance to go fishing whenever he liked. And he said that he was very, he has no regrets about losing the farm or anything. He doesn't even think about the $400 that somebody would have offered, $40,000.

RP: Forty thousand.

ST: After the war, it was four hundred thousand. But he said, "I don't even think about it."

RP: Well, Sumi, we want to thank you very much for --

ST: Oh, thank you.

RP: -- giving us this opportunity --

ST: I don't know if it helped you any, but --

RP: -- to share some stories.

ST: -- it was interesting talking to you.

RP: Yes.

ST: I hope you can make something out of it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.