Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Taketora Jim Tanaka Interview
Narrator: Taketora Jim Tanaka
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Richard Potashin
Date: October 19, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ttaketora-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

KP: Well, right after Pearl Harbor, the FBI started going around...

TT: They didn't bother us too much, but we had lot of our friends that, you know, they used to visit Japan and things like that. Because even in Sacramento, they had a list of who to go, so boom, boom, boom, they went right... because my wife comes from Santa Maria, they had all the lists. Like my father-in-law, they had a history of him. They knew what club he was in in Japan and all the money he was donating, he had all the... don't ask me, but they had it. So he got picked up, that's why he went to... he got picked up by the FBI, and he got sent to Bismarck and Lordsburg, they moved him around. But it all depends. If the Issei parents, especially the male, if you had that business with Japan, like he had a store, see, import... not export, but import, so they got picked up, I think, within the week or two, so I heard. In Sacramento, like my wife's uncle got picked up the day after. Because he was selling insurance, very close contact with Japan. They had, the FBI had a list. Anyway, the key people anyway.

KP: So almost immediately, curfews went into effect?

TT: Oh, yeah.

KP: And travel restrictions, did that affect your family at all?

TT: Well, yeah, in a way, because don't forget, we had a produce whatchacall, and we couldn't travel. Especially like going early morning market, I think it was six in the morning to eight at night, and we used to get up five o'clock in the morning, to go to the market, but we had to wait until six. And then we only could travel five miles, that was another restriction.

KP: Did that affect the business?

TT: Well, see, we lived in, our main business was in Oak Park, so it wasn't too bad. But we lived right on Forty-fourth and so it wasn't too bad. We used to get away, it was a little further, but we used to get away with it. But the people that lived in, like in that Folssom and Perkins area, it was over five miles.

KP: Well, what about school? When you went back to school on Monday, what was...

TT: Oh, that was another horror story, man. But then one thing, that Friday night, Monday morning, you didn't have no friends, man. I was going to Stanford junior high school, I still remember that. All of a sudden, you're walking, all your friends, you didn't have no friends. Could you imagine walking down the hallway, all your former friends stand outside, you have to walk down the middle of the, middle of the hallway, they call you name and all that. I went through that. I never forget that. But you can't blame the kids because the whole country was up in arms. One of those things. But I survived, what the heck? But a lot of people ask you, "Weren't you mad?" At first I was mad as hell, you know, all that treatment we had. But just 'cause you're mad, so you're not hurting nobody, just yourself. So you learn.

KP: So I guess school was pretty rough for a while?

TT: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. But most of the teacher was pretty whatchacall, but some of the kids were pretty rough. So in a way, it got to the point where evacuation order come out, in a way you were sort of glad to get out of that environment, you know. Pretty bad. Especially like at school, you got to go down the whole school, go down the hallway and all that, it's pretty rough. But, you know, you survive.

KP: Did your Japanese friends and you become...

TT: Oh, naturally we got closer, oh, yeah, at school. Because even at Stanford junior high school, we didn't have that much Orientals in that school at that time. But there was one school there, I still remember, I think it was Pacific high, Pacific grammar school on Forty-seventh and Franklin, I think, you know, at that age, Japanese congregated. When the Japanese evacuated, there was only seven students left in school. [Laughs] Yeah, because the eighth grade graduating class, only three or four Caucasians, the rest was all Japanese. You hear some stories like that.

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