Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kinge Okauchi Interview
Narrator: Kinge Okauchi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Ridgecrest, California
Date: July 16, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-okinge-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Tell us a little bit about your remembrances of Pearl Harbor Day and what happened to you and your family after, after the war broke out?

KO: Well, let's see. At that time, my mother had died, so it was just my father and I. And I heard about Pearl Harbor, I was doing my homework, on Sunday morning, with the radio on, of course, and I heard about Pearl Harbor. And it seemed a little strange, I wasn't too sure what was going on. Well, nobody knew what was going on. I think the radio broadcast on there was completely hashed up. Everybody was broadcasting rumors, and it wasn't 'til, I guess, later in the day that it was officially announced that Pearl Harbor had occurred. But then that, that was essentially, another, weekend was war news and that was about it for that moment. But the next couple of days... oh, yeah. The next day, we were able to go to school without any trouble. But about three or four days later, the people of our ancestry couldn't get on the train. We couldn't get on the buses and we couldn't get on the train to go to school. They just cut us off. They wouldn't allow us on public transit, transportation of any sort. So we wound up, I guess I missed about a week's worth of school, partially, because of that. In fact, I think the first day we found out about it, I couldn't get home from school. But we found, got transportation, some people had cars and stuff that we were able to ride home on. Then, then we had the problem of how do we get to school the next week? Fortunately, some people provided us with transportation by private car, so we were able to commute by car for a while. Then about that, I guess about that time, I was able to get our family car available, so I was able to drive to school for three or four weeks.

RP: And how far was it from your home to school, roughly?

KO: About twenty miles.

RP: Twenty miles?

KO: Yeah. And it was a normal commute on the commuter train, so, normally at that time. So it took us, I guess, by train it took us most of an hour, 'cause we had to wait for the train, and then we had to go from the train station to the school. By car, it was about three quarters of that. But fortunately, they didn't turn us off on the cars. But we couldn't take public transportation of any sort.

RP: So that, that ban on public transportation to Japanese Americans continued for quite a while?

KO: Oh, yeah. That was total, period.

RP: That was total. Were there other restrictions that affected you such as the curfews or some of these mileage restrictions? Do you remember any of that?

KO: Toward the end, I think toward the, before the evacuation period, we wound up with a curfew. We couldn't go out at nights and stuff like that, or over too far a distance. I think they made allowances for having to get, people having to get to work and stuff, but that was about it.

RP: For school?

KO: The whole thing was a bureaucratic mess in that sense. They made no provisions for anything. It was just a blanket, they cut it off, period. It made things awkward. I think at that time, let's see, when they started talking about evacuation, my father's sister's family, they were over in, living in San Leandro. And they, they moved down to where we were, lived in the same house, the family, whole bunch of us in that one house. 'Cause San Leandro was gonna get evacuated first, that side of the bay, they were gonna pull everybody else. I guess what they did, they moved them down to, that side of the bay down to Manzanar, I think it was.

RP: San Leandro?

KO: Yeah. And the San Francisco peninsula side, San Francisco got moved to Topaz. And I guess we picked up various fringe groups from the other parts of the state north of us. But it was sort of strange. The boundary was apparently the San Mateo county line and Santa Clara county, and the East Bay got moved down to Manzanar or elsewhere. I'm not sure where everybody went to. But most, mostly it was Manzanar. And then the San Mateo county and San Francisco county and probably bits and pieces of the other county north of us got moved to Topaz.

RP: Topaz. So the family consolidated, the two families came together?

KO: Yeah, yeah. We consolidated before things went to pot. It was a good thing that we were able to keep in touch with them.

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