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

<Begin Segment 1>

KP: Today is October 19, 2008. We are at 6929 Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento at the Japanese United Methodist Church. We're doing an interview of Jim Tanaka for the oral history program at Manzanar. The interviewer, myself, I'm Kirk Peterson, and with me today on camera is Richard Potashin. And this interview will be stored at Manzanar, or on file at the Manzanar library. And Jim, do I have your permission to continue with our interview?

TT: Yeah, you sure have.

KP: Thank you for that. So to get started, let's start with you. When and where were you born?

TT: Sacramento, 5th and O Streets, Sacramento, California.

KP: What year?

TT: 1926. I'm sorry, 1926.

KP: And what was your name at birth? Your name, what name were you given at birth?

TT: Oh, Taketora Tanaka. The "Jim" I got when I started going to school.

KP: Do you know what your name, your Japanese name meant?

TT: Yeah. See, "Take" means "bamboo." "Tora" is "tiger." So what happened is, what the meaning is -- at least that's what I was told -- is, see, the bamboo (is strong). And tiger (because I was born in 1926 which is the year of the tiger). But I think my... one of my relatives gave me that. That's all I remember.

KP: And you said you don't like the name?

TT: No, not really. Especially the first name. Because they had a hard time pronouncing it. You go to school, anywhere, they can't pronounce it. So I've been called all kinds of names. [Laughs]

KP: So Jim's better.

TT: I like Jim better.

KP: What do you know about where your father came from?

TT: He came (to Sacramento) from, (...) Hilo, Hawaii, born in Hilo, Hawaii (in 1899).

KP: So he was Nisei.

TT: Yeah. I'm Sansei, really, because my father was a Nisei. My mother was an Issei from Japan. She was from Hiroshima (...).

KP: What year was your mother born?

TT: (1902). She was thirty-three years old when she died, and she died in 1935. See, my father was born 1899 in Hilo.

KP: Do you know anything about your father's family, where your grandfather came from?

TT: He's a, they called him "Kanaka boy," he's a Hawaiian boy. So he went to the -- I don't know how my grandmother and he got together, but anyway, my grandmother came from Japan. That's all he told me, he's a Hawaiian boy, that's all I was told. So I don't know when he went to Japan to go look for a bride or come back, but I don't know how that worked.

KP: So what brought your father to the mainland?

TT: As far as I know, (...) my grandfather (and) grandmother (came for a) better life. Because I don't know if you know the history of the immigrants from Japan going to Hawaii (to) work. They were treated almost like slaves, when they worked in the sugar cane and all that. But for a better life, they came over.

KP: And where did your... so when did your father come to the mainland?

TT: That's all I know, that came here late 1900s, that's all I know. I think it must be about early 1901, 1902, somewhere in there.

KP: And where they come to?

TT: That I don't know. That's all I know. I think they came through... I think they came to San Francisco, Angel Island, I think. I'm pretty sure it was Angel Island, that was an entry point.

KP: What was your... so let's see. Your father would have been about twenty then, roughly?

TT: Gee, I really don't... that's all I know. That's all I know, he was born in 1899, that's all I know. [Laughs] I never did figure that out.

KP: So what did your grandfather do when he came to the mainland?

TT: He was a typical farmer.

KP: And he farmed in the Sacramento area?

TT: Most of it, yeah, Sacramento. It's like over there by that... if you're familiar with the 5th and Broadway (near) Southside Park. Somebody, my father used to tell me, he says they used to have (horse stables at) Chavez Park (...). That Southside Park is what's left of the city dump. I go pretty far back. They used to farm over there (...) by Southside Park, when they first came here.

KP: So how did your father meet your mother?

TT: I think one of those setups, the "picture bride" thing. Because that's all I know, is he went to Japan and stayed for about six months, they got married and they came back over to Sacramento. That's all I know.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KP: So what are your earliest memories of growing up in Sacramento?

TT: Well, that's all I know is I had to do chores in the morning and chores after school. But when I was growing up, naturally, we lived on a farm, so my grandfather had a strawberry farm on Twenty-fourth, and we used to help on the farm picking strawberries or making boxes, whatever. Then we were there, I think, just before my mother died, I remember I thinned sugar beets out there at Woodland, (California). I must be about seven or eight when I thinned sugar beets. Then we went to grammar school, it was Lockenar School, if I recall, over there.

KP: So what do you remember about... so you were living with your grandfather's house?

TT: Yeah. We had a typical family, we more or less lived in different houses, live, huh.

KP: So your grandfather was the head of the household?

TT: Oh, yeah. He said, "jump," you ask him "how high"? [Laughs] You know, typical Oriental, his word was law. That's one thing that, when we went to camp, we lost that structure. Because, you know, like eating in the mess hall, the control was gone. You didn't have a family structure no more. I ate with my friends, we'd chase around. It was pretty sad.

KP: So Japanese was spoken in your house?

TT: When I spoke to my grandparents and my mother, I'd speak Japanese, but mostly all English. But with my, when we went to Tule Lake, we separated there, we went our way, we spoke nothing but English. Because everybody else understood English. But as long as we were with my grandmother and my mother when she was alive, we spoke both Japanese and English. But after they'd gone, spoke nothing but English. So you tell me, I could understand a little bit of Japanese, but speaking Japanese, forget it. [Laughs]

KP: So your mother died in 1932?

TT: 1935.

KP: '35. What were the circumstances?

TT: Oh, she had childbirth. You know where that UC Davis medical building, that used to be County Hospital, that's all I remember. She died in 1935.

KP: So how many children in your family?

TT: We had three boys, I mean, five of us. We had three boys and two girls.

KP: Starting with the oldest.

TT: I'm in the middle.

KP: Okay. So who was the oldest?

TT: My sister.

KP: And what was her name?

TT: She was, we called her, her name was Fumie, but Bessie's her American... and Bessie, then we had Tadashi, that's my older brother, or Johnny. And we had my younger sister, her name was Sumako. And then we had Masayoshi, my younger brother. We used to call him Jumbo because he was fat and plump when he was born. But he passed away, though. He passed away when he was only forty-nine. Diabetic, he had diabetes, and he didn't take care of himself.

KP: So what, what kind of Japanese community did you have? Did you go to Japanese language school?

TT: Yeah, for a while. But you had to pay extra money. So finally, I used to cut school, and I wasn't getting anywhere, so finally... you know, you have to pay extra for that. And back in the '30s, pretty rough. So I didn't last very long. I went to first and second grade, that's about it. That's why you tell me to write Japanese, forget it.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KP: And you went to, what was your grammar school?

TT: What?

KP: What grammar school did you go to?

TT: I went to Fruit Ridge. The school is still there. When I was living in -- I went to that Lockenar School that they had over there, then I went to Fruit Ridge school, then I went to Stanford junior high school. Then I went to Tule Lake, Tule Lake and Topaz, Tri-State High School both places.

KP: What was, at the Fruit Ridge school, what was the ethnic makeup of the school? Were there a lot of Japanese kids there?

TT: Oh, no, oh, no. I think there was maybe a couple, three blacks. There was, I would say maybe a half dozen or so Japanese, maybe ten. Very few.

KP: Other ethnic groups?

TT: Oh, yeah, we had... at that time as I recall, like you see all the Spanish people from Mexico coming after the... there wasn't that much Mexicans, but there were a lot of Okies, we used to call 'em. But as far as people from Mexico, there were maybe a few, but not like it is today.

KP: Did you... what sort of activities did you do in school? What were your favorite classes in school?

TT: Pardon?

KP: What were your favorite classes at school?

TT: I used to like math. I didn't like English. [Laughs] I liked math the best. But you know like now they have the physical ed., we had that. But we had, naturally we had history and all that. But I had a good history teacher, I'll tell you one thing. Because we had to learn about the Constitution. I think seventh and eighth grade, we had to learn about the Constitution.

KP: Do you remember that teacher's name?

TT: I think it was, her name was Mrs. Moore. They had a good math teacher, her name was, I think, Mrs. Warnkin. She was a math teacher.

KP: Were you involved in sports when you were young?

TT: No, not too much. We used to play baseball, not organized -- when we went to camp, we played a lot of baseball, but not when I was going to school.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KP: So it sounds like your life was mostly work at the, on the farm, and school.

TT: Oh, yeah. Because before school and after school, if you didn't come home to get ready for next day market, and then we'd do our homework. Saturday, we would go to the market. Usually Saturday, Saturday afternoon, we got about a half a day off. Sunday we had to get ready for the Monday market. But it's not bad.

KP: And you were growing, you said, strawberries? What else?

TT: We had a truck farm that we used to raise tomato, pepper, cucumber and things like that, vegetables. We didn't have just one crop. We had a little strawberries, little bit of everything.

KP: So what was, what was the town, the big town that you went into?

TT: Oak Park, Thirty-fourth and, I think right now it's Thirty-fourth and Broadway. There used to be a market there. Right up the road from that Sacramento High School. Stanford junior high school burned down, that was on Sacramento Boulevard, and, I think it was Twelfth Avenue or someplace, that burned down. That was a nice school, brick building.

KP: So any other stories from your childhood working on the farm?

TT: Oh, yeah.

KP: What stands out in your mind?

TT: As soon as I was old enough to work, I had to work, you know. Pick tomatoes or thin sugar beets or whatever, oh, yeah. Plant, plant tomatoes, peppers.

KP: Did all your siblings work as well?

TT: Oh, yeah. Oh, my brothers, we all work in one farm, you know. We had ten acres, berries and all that, so blackberries, raspberries, strawberries.

KP: And all of this produce was taken to markets?

TT: Yeah.

KP: Did you ever go into town to help deliver the produce?

TT: No. Oh, yeah, in the morning, yeah. We'd deliver to a produce market. But almost every morning we'd get up about six o'clock and take it, come back until we can go to school.

KP: How far away from your house was the grammar school?

TT: Oh, that was about walking distance. Well, you figure Forty-fourth Street and Twenty-third Avenue, it's maybe three or four blocks. See, that used to be all open land, 'cause we used to cut through the neighbor's field. Can't do that now, but...

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KP: So when did you... so next you went to, from the grammar school Fruit Ridge grammar school, right?

TT: Yeah, then we went to Stanford junior high school. That's when the war broke out.

KP: And Stanford junior high school, what grade was that that you started at?

TT: I was ninth grade. Because I think ninth grade, from there, you went to Sacramento High School.

KP: So it was just a one-year school?

TT: No, that was two years, I think they have junior high school now. What is, it, seventh and eighth, or something like that.

KP: How far away was that from home?

TT: Oh, that was quite a walk, I remember. I would say maybe about a couple miles. At first we walked, but then we worked part-time, we got ourselves a bicycle, that's all I know. [Laughs]

KP: Did you walk with other kids in your class, or did you walk by yourself?

TT: No, no. I had neighbors, we had a couple of neighbors, so we walked there. We never had to worry about getting kidnapped or anything like that. That's one thing we never worried about. Even out at Woodland, middle of nowhere, guy offered us a ride on a hot summer day, we just jumped in the car and went, he'd give us a ride home. You dare not do it now, but we used to do it then. You're out in the farm, middle of nowhere, I kid you not. You got a ride on a hot summer day instead of walking a mile, mile and a half, give you a ride, we used to get a ride.

KP: So who were some of the kids you played with?

TT: Well, my neighbor's kids, and then the other kids that come to school lived around in the Oak Park area. I had far friends, 'cause we had no problem. You know, I don't know why right now we have a lot of prejudice things, but I didn't have that problem when I was growing up.

KP: So you had Caucasian friends and Japanese friends.

TT: Oh, yeah. I don't know. To me, you mentioned that now, you think about it, we didn't have no such thing as black or white or Caucasian or Mexican, things like that, I don't remember that. At least I didn't watchacall... but when the war broke out, oh, yeah, then, but not before.

KP: So what kind of church did your family go to?

TT: Well, we used to get to the Buddhist church in Sacramento, it used to be on 4th & 5th on O Street, that used to be a Buddhist church there. Used to go there. Not all the time, but when it was...

KP: Sounds like you were pretty busy on Sundays.

TT: Oh, yeah. 'Cause we had to get ready for the next day market, Monday morning market.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KP: Did you celebrate some of the Japanese holidays?

TT: Oh, yeah, we always celebrated New Year's. Back then, that used to be a two-day celebration. Like now, lot of people don't celebrate it. They're too Americanized. They celebrate, they have a little party for Halloween and Christmas, things like that, but back then, the New Year was a big thing, but shindig, man.

KP: How was it celebrated? How do you remember it being celebrated?

TT: Oh, well, they usually cook the typical Japanese food, like sushi and things like that, they just buy it now. Over there, they had to make it. Barbeque chicken, and kill our own chicken and prepare it. Matter of fact, we raised all our own poultry and everything. So all vegetables. Naturally, like fish, we had to go buy that, but outside of that, mostly we raised our own.

KP: Where did your, where did your family buy your rice and fish from?

TT: We used to go into, this used to be a Japanese store, they called Oshima Brothers. They carried Japanese produce, rice and certain Japanese things. Or if that, you go into Sacramento, what was that, Fourth and... Fourth between L, M, something like that. There used to be a Japanese community there. Used to have a lot of Japanese store in there.

KP: Did your family also celebrate Girl's Day and Boy's Day?

TT: No, I don't remember that before the war. I know after the war, my wife did. But before the war... but we celebrated New Year's, I know that. That's for sure. Christmas, well, you know, we're so poor, especially our Issei parents, it didn't mean much. But Halloween, like Halloween, we celebrated Christmas, Halloween, Christmas. We're Americanized, so like Fourth of July, you know, we used to have a good time then. Times changed now.

KP: Any other memories that you have of those early days before World War II?

TT: Well, besides our, the holiday, rest of the time, that's all I remember, lot of work, that's all I remember.

KP: Did you have the traditional Japanese bath at your house?

TT: Oh, yeah. That's something that our Issei parents, that was a must. They call it furo, you know, they call it hot tub nowadays. We had a redwood siding, and I think galvanized, and then we had a wooden flooring on the bottom.

KP: Whose job was it to keep that going?

TT: That was, we used to burn wood. Once you got the water hot, you didn't have to worry too much. You just get a slow fire, you know.

KP: And who got it, who --

TT: Well, one of the kids had to do it, because the parents would be working. After we come home from school, one of us would have to do it.

KP: It fell upon you sometimes to do it?

TT: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. No matter how young, starting the fire, it was your job.

RP: Jim, did you, were you involved in kendo or judo at all as a young kid?

KP: Were you involved in judo or kendo as a child?

TT: No. We didn't have time for that. Don't forget, we lived out in the country. And the city people like my cousin, they lived in the city, they had the kendo and things like that, judo, but out in the country, we didn't. We lived too far apart. And besides, I don't think we could afford it. [Laughs]

KP: Did you see much of your cousins and other family members in the area?

TT: Once in a while, yeah. It was all scattered out, see. And I remember one was living in Isleton, one of the girls, scattered. Don't forget, they were mostly all farmers. But we used to see 'em quite often. At least maybe, at least three of four times a year.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KP: Well, let's... December 7, 1941, it was a Sunday. What were you doing when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

TT: Well, a neighbor came over and told us. We were getting ready for market for Monday morning. I remember we were washing the carrots. We had a big old tub, we were washing carrots, I remember that. Came and told us. Then the first thing, like Pearl Harbor, said, "Where in the hell is that?" [Laughs] Now I know, but back then, '40, '41, we found out real quick where it was at, though.

KP: And what did you think about that? I mean, did you ever get a chance to see movies when you were a kid? Did you go to the movies?

TT: Well, at that time I said, once I found out what it was, I knew goddarn, we were in a lot of trouble. That much I knew. But I didn't know how bad of a trouble, that I didn't know. But I knew we were gonna be hurtin', I knew that.

KP: So you knew there was a relationship between the Japanese army attacking --

TT: Because don't forget, we were more or less discriminated, we couldn't live in certain places, we couldn't own land, they had a lot of restrictions for our Issei parents. That much I knew.

KP: Even as a kid, you knew that.

TT: Yeah. See, like people that had property, they had the first son or daughter, they put it in that children's name, child's name. But I think about, like my folks, Dad was a citizen, but we didn't have the money to buy the property.

KP: So what was the talk around your family? What were your father and your grandfather and your grandparents' reaction? Do you remember what their reactions were?

TT: Well, that's... that's all, first thing, they said they was worried. Minute they bombed that U.S. property, they knew we was gonna -- my grandfather, my grandmother and my grandfather said, "We're gonna be, there's gonna be lot of trouble," he said. And he was right. The minute we knew where they bombed, we knew we were gonna be in trouble.

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

<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.

<Begin Segment 9>

KP: So did your, when you said that almost immediately, your father and your grandfather said that they were scared, they knew they were in trouble, did they start burning or getting rid of things from Japan?

TT: No.

KP: Didn't have any.

TT: That's one thing, we didn't have too many of that, things like that. So we didn't... some families, they had a lot of things, Japanese, but we didn't have all that much. I think, I think my grandmother had a picture of the emperor and the royal family, but I don't remember... maybe they burned it. At least, I didn't see 'em burn it. But we had very little Japanese, you know. Flags and things like that, we didn't have that. At least I don't remember. I know a friend of ours, our neighbor had it, and I think they burned it and buried it or something.

KP: Did you have any guns or radios or cameras that you had to turn in?

TT: Oh, yeah, we had guns. But you know the funny thing? They said guns and cameras you have turn in, that's all I remember, we got two guns back. We had a .22 and a shotgun and a couple other guns. But we got those, we got two rifles back. But you know, the people that had these samurai swords, I know my neighbor had a beautiful samurai sword, gold inlaid on the handle and all that, they never got it back. You know, that's how it goes. But one thing I still remember, we lost everything we had, our farm equipment. Don't forget, we didn't own land, we didn't own the house. We had a house built, but that was our house, we built it. And then we had the farm equipment. They said they had evacuation sale, that's a big joke because if you know that evacuation poster, everybody could read that whatchacall, top of that tell you, and the bottom it tells what to take and cannot, but it tells you date and time we're gonna leave. So the evacuation sale meant nothing. That's all they, smart people wait until we leave, and they help themselves. That's right, like tractor and cultivator, things like that, we lost everything. That's one thing I watchacall... but see, the trouble is, you only could take only what you can carry, don't forget, and one bedroll. I still think about those family I know of, they had youngsters, I think the oldest one was nine, three or four kids, nine years old, and they had, even the grandfather and grandmother, they had to carry the clothes for all of 'em. I don't know how they did it.

But what really surprised me was that, anyway, we stayed in the Arboga Assembly Center over there by Marysville. We stayed there about one month, then they put us on a train at night to go from Marysville to Tule Lake. But you know, to this day, little babies, infants, I don't know where they got the formula. I don't know how they ever managed. Because that's all I remember, they had two MP, one on either end of the car with fixed bayonet, and they had no facility for the kids. I don't know how the mother did it, unless they made some and stored it, I don't know. Because it was an overnight trip. We left in the evening and we got there middle of the next day. So I don't know how they did it, but they did it.

KP: So how long did you have, when they posted the notice, to when you had to --

TT: We had ten days. (...) It was better than... some people, they had forty-eight hours. Worst one was, I don't know if you ever heard about it, at Terminal Island they had twenty-four hours. I talked to one fellow, I couldn't believe it. Twenty-four hours.

KP: So I guess your grandfather and father tried to sell some of their stuff but couldn't?

TT: Yeah.

KP: Were you able to store anything?

TT: Lot of people stored, we stored some things, but what good is it? The cop would look the other way, they come vandalize, take what they want, lot of places they take what they want, they burn the barn down or shed down or whatever. But that's how it goes. In other words, like on the farm equipment, first come, first serve, they come and help themselves. Because if you've seen the posters, because they knew the time and date when we had to go, so that's all they have to do, wait.

KP: Kind of a burglar notice. It was a notice for the burglars.

TT: [Laughs] Yeah. Because just like they say, because we didn't get it through mail, the posted it on the fenceposts, everybody could read it.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

KP: So you went to Marysville.

TT: We went to Arboga. See, we didn't go to Walerga in Sacramento here, they sent us to Arboga in Marysville.

KP: And where did you gather to leave? Where did you meet to leave?

TT: I didn't catch that.

KP: When you, when you went to Marysville, how did you get to Marysville?

TT: Oh, they took us to, we had to meet, I think we had a packing shed in Florin where I think we had... what is that big market there right now, by the railroad tracks? It's that lumberyard there. That used to be a packing house there, on the railroad tracks. So we had to go there, then they put us in an old Greyhound bus and took us Marysville.

KP: And what was Marysville like, the assembly center?

TT: Well, Marysville was, the camp was, it wasn't a permanent camp, it was an assembly center. So what they did is, as I remember, they had an outside shell. You could see the (1x12) tarpaper on the outside, well, you've seen the building. Nothing on the inside, and they had a wall partition, but the top was all open. You had no -- that's one thing you missed, privacy. Then they had, it had an outhouse set up. But that was one of the hardest things to get used to. Men it wasn't so bad, like females, they sat side by side, back to back. That was one of the hardest things to... and taking a shower, like Issei like my dad, they're used to the hot tub, they had to take a shower, and you never had hot water, because they took the hot water in the kitchen. I think that was one of the hardest things. Another thing was, for the Issei parents, the family structure was gone. In other words, you eat in the mess hall, like on a picnic table. Like us, you made new friends, so you go eat with them, other family or they come and sit with you. The family structure was gone.

KP: Who all went to Marysville in your family? Your grandfather...

TT: Our whole family went over there.

KP: So it was your grandfather, your grandmother.

TT: Yeah, because we were living together, don't forget. My grandfather passed away the year before, good thing he did.

KP: Okay, he passed away before you...

TT: Oh, yeah.

KP: So how many of there were you in your room in...

TT: Well, in our family, we had five, five, twenty by twenty-five. Then if you had, let's say newlywed, they had a fifteen by twenty-five, the width of the barrack. Anyway, that's all they had room for, one cot for each person, and a potbellied stove, sixty watt light bulb. But at better than... see, we went to Marysville and Tule Lake, so it wasn't too bad. But you get like, you go to Heart Mountain, you heard about Heart Mountain, it gets thirty below there, and that's all you had, no insulation. Had a stove there, but you could... got a lot of bugs and all that, swampland. They had to cut their own firewood. [Laughs] Like us, we had coal.

KP: So you were only in Marysville for about a month?

TT: Yeah, about a month.

KP: What did you do while you were there?

TT: Almost nothing. But I go around and talk to schoolkids and say, "You know, it was one of the hardest things to do, sit around and do nothing." You know, you talk about the prison riot, when you don't have nothing to do, I could understand why. You go crazy. There's no magazine to read or nothing, don't forget. And then eight hours a day... we used to play cards, pinochle and bridge or something, but you could just do so much of that. That's why when I went through that, and then you hear about the prison riot, they had nothing to do, bored, I could understand why. You go crazy.

KP: Did your dad or anybody work at Marysville?

TT: No. See, don't forget, Marysville is an assembly center, so they didn't have no, like warehouse, like Tule Lake they had warehouse, packing house, carpenter shops, paint shops, things like that. It was like a village in itself. But in Marysville, just assembly center, so they had absolutely nothing. That's all I remember they had. And hastily put up, they had one, one by six and one by twelve. [Laughs] They had a window, one of those, what they called Oklahoma, that old building they had, the shuttered thing. There was no screen, nothing. And I still remember that, the Arboga assembly center, it was next to a slough, and it was in the springtime, boy, you turned that light on, about forty-five minutes, there was so much bugs in there, you couldn't even see the light bulb. Because there was no screen on the window. But one thing you missed, you lose your privacy. Everything was communal, don't forget. See, like over in the assembly center, the whole top was open. They had partitions, but the whole top was open. So that's why if a couple had an argument, you could hear the whole barrack, 125 foot, everybody could... [laughs].

KP: Any stories about the assembly center that come to mind?

TT: Oh, yeah. You had a lot of family argument, you could hear that. [Laughs] And then you get that, old man, middle of the night, about nine, ten o'clock, every night, he'd get gas, and the whole barrack, "Okay, now, we can go to bed." [Laughs]

KP: How was the food?

TT: Food was just like a, similar to army, because don't forget, the army controlled that. So you didn't have no Japanese food. Towards the end we got a little rice, but as far as the food goes, it's edible, but as far as the cook go, because, like, we had farmers cooking for the whole block, what is it, twelve, fourteen barracks. So it wasn't all that great, but it was edible. But at least once a week, we had this, I still remember the doggone fish. I think it's codfish, it was terrible. Either you eat it or go hungry. But then some of those mess hall, don't forget, in the one camp, what we, like us, we were sixteen, seventeen years old, we hear that we're gonna have something else, we have some beef stew or something, we'd run over there. To hell with our mess hall, we'd go somewhere else, wherever we heard that they have good food that we like, we used to run over there. But then they give, start giving the card for meal ticket for the block, we had to cut that out. Because each kitchen had a limited amount of food for so many, amount of people. We used to chase all over heck for food. [Laughs]

KP: So anything else come to mind about...

TT: But one thing, you know, as far as getting a girlfriend, wasn't bad at all because you're sixteen, seventeen years old, each block, if you want to meet somebody, it was simple. But then you see some good looking gal you want to meet, you find out what she lives on, that's all you had to do. So far as that goes, I was seventeen years old, sixteen, seventeen years. Like us, we didn't have no chores to do, so that's all we, more or less go to school, that's all we had to do. So if you want to cut school, you cut school, whatever. Another thing we used to do is you get a, here we had a test. And what we do is we had a lot of the sulfur in the coal, you have a hot fire going, we stoke that stove and that sulfur, that smoke come in the classroom, it gets so bad, no class. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KP: So you were only in Marysville about a month.

TT: Yeah, yeah.

KP: And then you shipped out for Tule Lake.

TT: Yeah.

KP: How did that go? Where did you go to get ready for that?

TT: With what little we had, we had enough to buy the pack, so pack our thing and we left at... they got a train station over at Marysville, that's all I remember. From Marysville overnight to Tule Lake, we got there the next morning. Then from there, they truck us from there to a block. I was in Block 19-17-D, I think it was.

KP: Had you ever been on a train before?

TT: That was the first time.

KP: What did you think?

TT: Hey, that rickety, dirty train, MP standing on both sides, long as the train was moving, you had to keep the shades down. Once you stopped you could open it up. But you know that track, click, click, you know? That rickety old train, the shades would go up, and I kid you not, they had people come down and, "Hey, you keep that down." [Laughs] But you know how we are, you're sixteen, seventeen, you cheat and peek.

KP: And it was the middle of the night, too.

TT: Oh, yeah, what can you see?

KP: So you arrived at Tule Lake in the morning.

TT: Early morning, yeah, around ten o'clock, nine, ten o'clock. It was daylight when we got there, that's all I remember.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KP: What did you think when you first saw Tule Lake?

TT: Well, I thought, gee, I said, "Jesus, God, what's this?" Because it was more uniform. You could see it wasn't slapped together. The guard towers, gee, it wasn't just a makeshift affair. It had a searchlight on top, and it had a chain link fence, and it had a barbed wire fence, then they that overhang so you can't get out, things like that on top. I knew right then, I said, "Oh, boy." [Laughs] It was eye-opening, I'll put it that way. You picture it as like a prison. But we had fun. We used to give those MPs a bad time. You know, you're seventeen years, sixteen, seventeen.

KP: What'd you do?

TT: Oh, well, they had a main fence here, they had a little fence, a warning fence, and what we used to do is a bunch of us guys go there, the guard towers every three hundred feet, so that's we used to do. Run up by that warning fence, we'd stand there and the MP would get excited, then we'd give him a one-finger salute and we'd walk... [laughs]. But the best thing is that, we used to, another thing, we used to go over there and jump on the other side, "We're just going to the other side of that fence," because it's low, you could jump over there. We'd go over there, and boy, the MP get by, and pretty soon we'd see the dust flying and we knew a jeep or somebody coming with a jeep, so we'd just go on the other side, and once we got on the other side, we scattered. Hell, they didn't know who in the hell we were. We all look alike, so they didn't know. [Laughs] But if you're incarcerated, you do anything to get after the authority as per se.

KP: Do you remember what month you got into Tule Lake?

TT: I think it was May. I think it was May.

KP: So school hadn't been, wasn't organized or started yet?

TT: Oh, we had nothing. We had no school in Marysville because we only stayed a month, it was a temporary camp. Once we got to Tule Lake, even then, they didn't get school going until, it took about six months, a year, before they got the school going. Because they had to get the teachers. We had some good teachers there, but then we had a lot of these college grads, and people that was going to be a teacher, so they started teaching. Then we got books, I think the Quakers or something, they sent a lot of supply in to us. But we had school there. And I thought we had to, like I said, no chores, that's all we had to do was go to school.

KP: So that first summer you got there, you chased girls, harassed the MPs, and tried to find the best food.

TT: Yeah.

KP: What else did you do? [Laughs]

KP: That's about it. [Laughs] Because as far as the entertainment, towards the end we started getting movie once in a while, they used to hold dance in the mess hall, things like that. But that was, it took over a year to get organized, because we had to get teacher support. We had a lot of whatchacall, we had a lot of sports, though. We had, like baseball, we didn't have too much football, we had a lot of baseball. But like our Issei parents, that sumo wrestling, that sumo, we used to have that Fourth of July. That was a big thing, they used to... they used to make a typical wrestling ring, they build up, built it up high, they did that. But outside of that...

KP: Did your father work in camp?

TT: Oh, yeah. My father was a railway express agent. Don't forget, it was like a little village, though. We had a tractor shop, truck shop, then we had a warehouse, distribute food and things like that, (...) carpentry shop. It was like a city by itself. But we didn't have no medical insurance, it was no problem because the doctor's only getting paid nineteen dollars a month. [Laughs] Then the professional people were getting nineteen, next one was sixteen, and like flunky like us, we used to get paid twelve dollars a month. What did you do when you were in camp?

TT: Well, like us, we were sixteen, we get a job either working unloading the truck warehouse, unloading the truck from the warehouse, boxcars that used to come into camp, unload the boxcar or shovel coal. If you had to shovel coal to haul it on the truck, we had to dump it to each block. But you ate pretty good, though, because if you work in the (coal car), they had a twenty-four hour kitchen for the night crew people, and we used to get pretty good food compared to the... so you wanted to eat middle of the night, you work on the coal crew. But that's one thing. As long as you... that's all you had to do, was go to school. You didn't have no chores. So in that sense, it was pretty easy.

KP: What classes or teachers did you find most interesting while you were there?

TT: Oh, I had a good math class. Math teacher was good. And then we had another... I can remember the one, I think she was a math or history, but Mrs. Gunderson. I remember that. She was a good teacher.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KP: Any other stories about the early time in Tule Lake? Any other stories about Tule Lake you'd like to share?

TT: No, not really. They had the, you heard about the segregation? That's all I know, is before the segregation, we had these Kibeis, and they used to raise all kinds of ruckus, that's all I remember.

KP: And that was before the segregation?

TT: Yeah. You know, the word came out they're going to separate, "Will you be loyal to the United States or Japan?" and they had quite a ruckus. Then after the segregation, I heard there were, those radicals more or less took over. [Laughs] I guess you probably heard about that. I wasn't there at that time, but I heard stories of that.

KP: So did you graduate from high school while you were in...

TT: No, I goofed off. I went over, I went to Topaz, (Utah), I got drafted, then I came back and finished my high school in Oakland.

KP: So when the "loyalty questionnaire" came out, that didn't affect you, then. You were too young for the "loyalty questionnaire"?

TT: I had no problem with, we didn't have no problem with that. (I was seventeen years old and answered yes-yes.)

KP: But did you have to fill it out?

TT: Oh, yeah.

KP: Because you were seventeen? What was the age on that?

TT: I think it was seventeen and older. But like us, it's all American citizen, we didn't have no problem. And my grandmother was the only one that was, you know. So she said, well, the way she put it, "This is your country." Like us, we spoke very little Japanese. As far as being in Japan, never been there. So it's like she said, "This is your country, you stick with it."

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

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: Jim, you told a story about when you were in Tule Lake that you remember the seagulls and you used to paint the seagulls red.

TT: Oh...

KP: Yeah, could you tell the story about the seagulls?

TT: Oh, yeah. Kinya Noguchi was also the, he did the same thing we did. What we did is that we get a little, middle of the block, we used to have that ironing room or whatever. So we'd get a long string, prop it up, then get a little rice and put it underneath the box, and then we'd sit there in the washroom or the laundry room and catch a seagull. Then what we used to do (...). But what we did is we'd take it, we'd spread eagle that seagull, we'd go to the paint shop, and then get a can of red paint. That's when if you go down to (paint shop), we got a contact. Said, "How much you want? A gallon?" Said, no, no, we just want a little bit. So we, anyway, get that paint, we get the biggest potato we can find, okay, then we cut it in half and we dip that into the red paint, spread eagle the seagull, and put a "rising sun" on that thing. Then we'd go underneath the guard tower and turn it loose. [Laughs] You'd get a, because towards the end there, we'd get a lot of these shellshocked guys from the South Pacific, they think it's a Jap zero and they shoot at it. [Laughs] We used to stand there and holler, "You missed, you missed, you missed." [Laughs]

KP: So they actually shot at them?

TT: Oh, yeah. But you get the shellshocked guys, you know. You're seventeen years old, you'd do anything, you know, to get at the authority. But long as you do something, you don't get caught by the... we used to have a police department, we used to call 'em wardens. As long as you don't get caught by them, you're fine. Because they take you to the, take you home, and boy, then you really get it from your folks. But that very seldom happened. Because they do things like that, they look the other way. [Laughs]

KP: So what else did you do? Anything else?

TT: No, besides chasing girls. But that's one thing, (...) there's no problem meeting girls, though. Because find out what block they live in, that's all you had to do is go to the block and wait. That's why a lot of these people, like California, Oregon and Washington, especially in Tule Lake, they got to know each other, you'd be surprised. Californian marry a Oregon or Washington girl, natives and all that, so it was like a melting pot. Like in Topaz, it was mostly from Bay Area people.

KP: So you came from a, when you lived in the Fruit Ridge area...

TT: Yeah, Fruit Ridge, Forty-fourth street (and Twenty-third Avenue).

KP: You had a fairly small Japanese American community.

TT: Yeah.

KP: And suddenly you find yourselves in Tule Lake with a huge Japanese community. What did you think about that?

TT: Because every once in a while, we used to get together at, we used to have festival once a year.

KP: So you knew they were out there.

TT: Because that Oak Park area, that Fruit Ridge, Forty-seventh Avenue, Franklin Boulevard, we had quite a few, a good-sized contingent.

KP: Did you participate in any -- well, you probably wouldn't -- prefect picnics when you were a kid?

TT: No.

KP: No, 'cause your dad was from Hawaii, and yeah, you were probably way far away from that.

TT: But we had, one thing, about a year or so after, they had a lot of things for sports, like, especially baseball. Not too much football, but we had weightlifting, then we had martial arts. Then like women have sewing class, dance class, singing, things like that.

KP: What did you do?

TT: I didn't do much of anything. [Laughs] Played lot of baseball.

KP: Did you? What position?

TT: I used to play third base, second base.

KP: Were you any good?

TT: [Laughs] I was below average.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TT: But one thing, you know like Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, we used to order a lot of mail order. As long as you work, you got paid twelve, twelve, sixteen, nineteen dollars a month. So you had some money to, you want to buy some clothes through the mail order.

KP: What kind of stuff did you buy? What did you look forward to buying?

TT: Well, you know, a lot of times we buy slacks, Levis, things, regular clothes. Because they didn't give you any. The ones they gave to us, I remember Tule Lake they gave us this once, and they got this from the CCC camp, they had a camp over there, and they had a Mackinaw jacket. God, you get a five foot four, 125 pound Japanese guy, he's got a six foot something, two hundred pounds...

KP: That's not good for chasing girls.

TT: No, heck. That's, I see some of those Issei men, they had it rolled up double. Great big, oh, my god. But one thing, that scrap lumber in camp, that was a premium. Because they used to do a lot with the scrap lumber. They just make shelves, make cabinet, things like that. And a lot of times, we used to make that thongs, geta, they used to call. Because that used to be pretty rough, that sand is pretty rough on shoes. One thing about that wooden thongs, you could go in the shower, didn't have to take 'em off. Wear it right in the shower because, besides, you never had hot water, so we always had cold water. That's one thing you always miss, you didn't have no hot water. Because the mothers used to get up early and go do their laundry.

KP: Let's see, you did sports, some. You did some sports while you were in camp, right?

TT: Yeah. We played, I played a lot of baseball. And football, even our Issei parents, lot of 'em played baseball. Because football, we didn't have the equipment.

KP: Was the, was the food better in Tule Lake than at Marysville, or about the same?

TT: Well, that permanent camp was about the same, but slightly better.

KP: And you were eating, working the night shift, you were eating in a different mess hall.

TT: Oh, yeah, if you work in the night shift, you go to another, they had a special kitchen for that, and you go there. But like us, we had a, we had a warehouse, hospital, and all that. That's all I know, you used to get coal. And we had a folding cot and a cotton mattress, that's all I remember. They gave us two blankets, that's right, wool blankets. Army wool blankets, they give you that. At least we got a folding cot, you know. But you get like Poston or Gila, they got a canvas cot. Of course, it's just as well because that thing used to get so hot. And then on top of it they (made) straw mattress. We didn't have straw mattresses, we had a cotton mattress. But you know, a good friend of ours that was in Gila, and what they said is they dump a truckload of straw in the middle of the block, "Go make your own mattress." Okay, that's fine to make a mattress, but what you stuff it, they give you a bag, and they found out later that they were body bags. But you couldn't sleep on the straw mattress, 120 degree (...), 110 degree weather anyway. They had a canvas cot, too, on top of that.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KP: All right, we're on tape two of our interview with Jim Tanaka. And we are in Tule Lake. Any other stories come up about Tule Lake for you, memories?

TT: Only thing I remember is that we had, you know that in camp, they used to go to that, there used to be lava bed over there, cinder. I remember we used to cut school and go over there, get on the truck and haul those cinder (...), make roads for the camp, things like that. But school, that's one thing I regret, which was bad, but you used to cut school and all that. That's one thing I (regretted). But that's why, so what little education I had in camp, after I went to serve and come back, that's why I went to, on the GI bill, I went to trade school and finished my high school education over there. Thank goodness for the GI bill. If it weren't for that, I don't know.

KP: Who was your best friend in Tule Lake?

TT: Well, that's pretty hard to say because I had quite a few. Fortunately, we were pretty lucky. We got our neighbor and few of our friends were from our own neighborhood, so it wasn't too bad, we had quite a few. Lot from the Oak Park area. So it wasn't too bad. It was like, say you come from, when they had segregation, we went from Tule Lake to Topaz, Utah. See, Topaz, Utah, was mostly Bay Area people, and we didn't know nobody. But you know, being in the same situation, you get to know, you know. We had a fellow from, family from San Lorenzo over there, we got good friends with. So after the war ended and the camp closed, I was overseas at that time, but my family went out to, they closed the camp, they went to, I think it was Provo, Utah. And the friends that they made in camp, they said they found a job and a place to stay for my dad and my family, so they came, that's how they got back to California. In that, and sent there, our people would help the people that come back, they had a property or land, they would call their friends back. That's how we got by, we helped each other come back. But like when we came back, converted horse barn, housing was pretty scarce, so we stayed in a converted horse barn and places, things like that. But usually was helping each other out. But otherwise, like I said, I go around to school and talk to kids, and the student said, "I think Japanese American was the first homeless." Because when they closed the camp, they said, "Okay, you're free to go, we'll give you twenty-five dollars and a bus or train ticket. You're free to go." Now, where the hell would you go? But then again, you look at it this way. With that, they were in camp, so they went to Chicago, went back east, lot of 'em got to be professional people. They went to school, colleges and university, they got to be professional people.

KP: What was your, in Tule Lake, what were your brothers and sisters doing? Going to school...

TT: Yeah.

KP: Did any of them work?

TT: No, I don't think, I think we were all going to school at that time.

KP: So the "loyalty questionnaire" comes around, they decide to make Tule Lake a segregation center, and it sounds like, you said that you didn't know anybody in Topaz, it sounds like some of your friends stayed in Tule Lake.

TT: Quite a few did. It all depended, like I said, because you're seventeen years old, don't forget now, you signed that "loyalty questionnaire," you're renouncing your citizenship, and heck, you're seventeen years old, pretty rough.

KP: So a lot of it had to do with what your parents wanted to you to do.

TT: Yeah. See, like our parents said no, we'd go out...

KP: Did you talk about that with any of your friends, or was it something the families decided?

TT: Just the families. But you know, we said, well, the main thing is you meet a stranger, first thing you ask is what camp he was in. So then the, our conversation would also go before the camp and after the camp. That's a common question, "What camp were you in?" But the most, weather-wise, the camp was, I think it was Amache, Colorado, the weather was more mild. The coldest one was Heart Mountain. So all the camps were hot, cold, dusty.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

KP: When your family was ready to leave Tule Lake, did you have a choice of which camp you'd go to?

TT: Yeah.

KP: Did you, okay. And you chose...

TT: We had a good friend of ours... see, my dad was a railway express agent, so he had us stay. So when my dad and a good friend of ours from Sacramento, we'd go with them, so he'd wanted to look after us, guardian-like, look after us. We went to Topaz.

KP: So your dad stayed in...

TT: My dad had to stay, one of the last ones, one of the last few to leave Tule Lake after the segregation, because he was a railroad express agent.

KP: So once again you're back on a train?

TT: Yeah.

KP: How was that?

TT: That was just as bad as the first one. [Laughs] I still remember the middle of Utah, they let us off near Salt Lake, I still remember that, it was at a stockyard. You know, you could just see the fence and all that, but they let us off over by the stockyard to stretch our legs, I remember. Just before we crossed the Salt Lake, I remember that. Then we landed up in Topaz, seventeen miles outside of Delta, Utah.

KP: How did that compare?

TT: Well, that's middle of nowhere, the sagebrush, but all the camps had in common, it's hot in summer, cold in winter, they all had dust storm. But like I say, lot of times you didn't need the dustpan because you just swept across the board and dust would go down there. Because don't forget, it's made of green lumber, and it'd go through the cracks.

KP: So did you get up to your mischievous ways in Topaz again, or where you... did you get in trouble there? Did you harass the MPs?

TT: No.

KP: Or were you a little older?

TT: No, we had things to do. We made a good friend with that, couple of Bay Area families, so we didn't get in too much trouble. But see, they were more or less very lenient because you're in the middle of nowhere, you're in the sagebrush country, you can't go anywhere, it's the middle of the, like a desert place. So they had a low barbed wire fence, we used to go over there, there used to be a canal way back there. We used to go fishing over there. Once in a while, it was a long walk, we used go out there and go fishing and come back. But the main gate, well, they had guard towers there, but they were more or less a lot more lenient than in Tule Lake. So we used to go over the fence, and we used to go fishing in the canal out there. We used to use a, made hooks out of that stick pin. [Laughs]

KP: So any other way that Topaz was different from Tule Lake?

TT: Well, they were a lot more lenient, I'll put out. See, because like Topaz was, like I say, seventeen mile outside of the little town of Delta, the railhead there. Supposed to be a small town. So all our supplies used to come in on the train, you had to send a truck to get 'em and bring into camp. So then the same token again, we had our own cattle ranch, we had our own, few, like our own farm there, so Tule Lake was set up sometimes that we would send, between the camps, they used to send different vegetable, you know. So like in Topaz, Utah, we used to raise cattle, and we used to take it to the slaughter house in Fillmore, Utah. They had a slaughterhouse there. So we used to get, I used to bum a ride on that and just go one day trip, go ride on the truck, go to the slaughterhouse out there at Fillmore, Utah.

KP: Just to get out of camp?

TT: Oh, yeah. That boss, he had to sign for a number of guys. They were a lot more lenient than in Tule Lake.

KP: So your dad joined you in Topaz, finally?

TT: Oh, yeah, he did. He worked as a plumber over there. Because that camp was still set up, they were laying that sewer line, the water line, and all that. See, that wasn't complete. So I forget what he did after they got that, all the water line and everything, I don't know what the heck he did. He might have ended up in that auto shop or structure, I don't know, I don't remember.

KP: Didn't paint any seagulls?

TT: No, they had a lot of seagulls there, but we didn't fool around with seagulls no more. Utah they had a lot of seagulls.

KP: Did you kind of avoid school again, too?

TT: No. Pretty much by that time, I was draft age, so I got drafted. I didn't stay too long in Topaz.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KP: You got drafted out of Topaz?

TT: Yeah.

KP: And where did you, what did you feel about that?

TT: Well, you know, when I signed that "loyalty questionnaire," I knew I was going to get drafted. It was a matter of time. So I had no qualm about going. I went to Fort Douglas, Utah, from there I went to Camp Blanding. But the hardest part, you know, they give you leave before you go overseas, see, like us, most of us, we come out, they give us a few days at home. But the hardest part was when you're leaving, you know you're going overseas, but you know, I still remember saying goodbye to (my) family through the barbed wire fence and be standing there. That was the hardest part. As far as going into the army, it was nothing. But you've got to figure you might not even come back, see. That was the hardest part outside of that. But going into the army, I didn't... because once we signed the "loyalty questionnaire," I knew I was subject to the draft.

KP: Did any other brothers, were they of age or were they too young?

TT: I was the only one in the family to go.

KP: Were your brothers younger? I don't remember.

TT: My older brother was, he had a bum leg, so he didn't get... my younger brother was too young at that time. So I was the only one in our family. I didn't volunteer. They asked for volunteers, I said, "No, no. You put me here, I'm gonna stay here." So they come after me. [Laughs] But once they came after me, see, I was willing to go. So I spent fifteen weeks in Camp Blanding, Florida, basic training.

KP: Why Camp Blanding? I thought most of the people...

TT: That's in Florida.

KP: Yeah. Why, why there and not Shelby?

TT: Camp Shelby? They had two camps, Camp Shelby and Blanding. Lot of people went to, original people went to Shelby first, then they opened up the camp -- anyway, I headed up to Camp Blanding. That camp is still there, incidentally. But I ended up in Blanding.

KP: And what year was that?

TT: 1944, middle of '44.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

KP: And you mentioned before that you knew you were going in as replacements for the 442nd?

TT: Oh, yeah. Because all the Japanese Americans, the only place, because the MIS, they started after that. So we knew doggone well we're going to Europe, that was for sure. That's the only place they could send us. But we knew that we were the "suicide unit" anyway, so... but I had no... But I knew quite a few people that didn't make it, but I knew people made it. But then again, I know people that was in that southern France campaign, I got to know 'em pretty personally. That's one reason why I know quite a bit about that southern France campaign, because I got real good friend that, he was one of my, we go around speaking to the schools. He was one of the (speakers), so he was in on that rescue of the "Lost Battalion" bit.

RP: What's his name?

KP: What's his name?

TT: Oh, that was Bob Kashiwagi. I think he got wounded three times, as I recall. But he came back home, though. [Laughs] But he was quite a man, though, but very modest. Unless you ask point blank, he would not talk about it. I think he got wounded three times, anyway. So I ask him about that "Lost Battalion," and he said, you know that one they had the "Go for Broke," that rescue of the "Lost Battalion," what is that movie they made? It's nothing like that. He said it was cold, winter, dark, they had to dig a foxhole, there'd be about two, three inches of water. It was so pitch black in there, they had used to have white handkerchief in the back so you could see the guy in front of you. Oh, yeah. I went to, on the pilgrimage over there, the fiftieth anniversary, and that wood is still there. They can't harvest that forest because they have too much shrapnel in the trees, they cannot harvest it. But I tell you, you go from the clear ground, you go inside about a hundred yards, it gets pitch black. You've got to use the flash on your camera. It's really thick, I was surprised. But that's why I know quite a bit about it. But go around and tell the schools, students, that they went in there, that southern France campaign with a good six thousand people, started, and after, I think it was about two months of fighting, they come back with eight hundred and twenty-five. Because I was a replacement, that's why I know.

KP: So what time did you, what year and month did you -- well, '44, what month did you get into Europe?

TT: Jesus Christ. I know I got in on the last push. They just finished the southern France campaign, and I was a replacement. Then I went over in Italy on that push through the Gothic Line. I was in on that. But those guys, the Germans are good soldiers, that's all I got to say. [Laughs] There were soldiers, of course, from eleven, twelve years old, they march, you know. But I hate to say it, but that machine guns and the... machine guns were lots, far superior than our machine gun. That's all I can say, boy, that thing can really spit it out. You spit out thirteen hundred rounds a minute. Because that first night I joined them, we're going up in the dark, there's a firefight shooting across the (canyon), chasers used to come about that far apart from the gun. And ours used to come by at least five, ten feet apart, every fifth round. I think that machine gun used to spit out about thirteen hundred rounds a minute. Like ours, if you keep on doing that, ours would jam. Our heavy machine gun are water cooled, you'd probably run out of water and get overheated. But that German machine gun, uh-uh. So they push a button. The reason I know is I saw it. You push a button, the (barrel) comes out, [inaudible] got an extra (barrel), they pop that in and boom, they really go. And the cartridge belt is a link. You know like a fifty caliber on that, like on airplanes and whatchacall, they got a link chain, that's how the bullets are. They had big piles of clips on there. But they could really spit it out, that's all I know. Then the blasted German .88, oh my god, that used to be fast. Oh, I still remember that. Because you hear firing over there, you look on this mountain, it's exploding on this, about the same time you hear them firing, you hear 'em exploding on your end. Boy, those guys, they could shoot that thing, too. I still remember that.

Like a greenhorn, I first joined that day, still remember this. They shot, they hit the mountain way over there. And these old timer, they pick it up there, that first hot meal we had in a month, they start picking up the mess kit, see. Like me, I'm a greenhorn, I'm still sitting there taking my time, boy, the next shot was right in town there, in the plaza. That's all they had, get a bearing, and boom. But hey, they could shoot that. That thing was fast, too, boy. But you know one thing, toward the end, I don't know that slave labor or what, but they had a lot of duds, especially the motor, they had a lot of duds.

KP: Which was a good thing for you.

TT: Good thing they did, because I wouldn't be here. I had dirt all over me, but that's nothing compared to that, that dud was about (twenty-four feet) away. Because we got caught in that barrage, I still remember that. They had us zeroed in, but another funny thing, I don't think anybody got a scratch. We were pretty lucky. Because the war was winding down, see. I was in the battle, but it was winding down, so that's all I can say. I know what war is like, but that's enough for me, that's all.

KP: So were you still on the lines for VE Day?

TT: Well, you know, the VE Day, we were in, I think it was the little town of Ghedi, Italy. But you know, like I don't know what the other guys did, but like our outfit, you know what we did? We heard it was all over, I remember most of the guys, we sat down on our helmet. Some guys (were) crying because maybe they lost their buddy day before or whatever. But we never celebrated. Like us, like me, I sat on my helmet and leaned against the wall. I still remember that. I think it was up in Ghedi, Italy, northern Italy. But back here, they have all kinds of celebration, but way I looked at it, there's nothing to celebrate. We lost, we lost too many good people.

KP: So how much longer were you in Europe after the end of the war?

TT: Pardon?

KP: Did you, were you shipped home immediately?

TT: No, no. I spent, oh, a good six months after the war. Because I came home in '46.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

KP: And what about your family? You mentioned that they...

TT: Oh, after the camp closed, they got their twenty-five dollars and they say, "You can go wherever you want." Anyway, they were in Utah, they ended up in Provo, Utah. I got a letter from my sister, I still remember, Provo, Utah, they were working on the farm. And like I said, the good friend we made in Topaz, they had their own place in San Lorenzo. They called my dad, they found a place for them to come back, too, and that's how they came back to California. So although it was converted horse barn, but better than nothing. So when I came back, they were over there. But that's all I know, they were struggling. See, so I had, I just had a high school education, under the GI, I wanted to go to college. But I had to help the family out. So I went to the trade school under the GI Bill. And soon as I got over, in about six months to a year, I got a job and helped the family out. That's typical, you know, we all did that.

KP: So you lived in San Lorenzo at that time?

TT: Yeah, lived in San Lorenzo. Then about a year later, I moved 'em up to Sacramento here. We found a place over in Sacramento, found a job, a farm and all that, moved them to Sacramento.

KP: And your dad continued farming?

TT: Yeah. See, my mother died in 1935.

KP: And the rest of your family, your older brother, sisters?

TT: Yeah, I got one older brother, older sister.

KP: What did they do after the war? Did they stay with the family for a while?

TT: Oh, yeah. We all went moved together. See, my older brother worked as a gardener in San Mateo. Because don't forget, they have fairly upper class neighborhood, and you had a lot of these Japanese gardeners, and they didn't have no gardeners during the war. So my dad was, they were in demand over there, San Mateo. He got a good job over there. But we survived, like I say.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

KP: So where, how did you meet your wife?

TT: I went to a... anyway, my wife -- well, before, I didn't know, but he was her uncle, and he was a good friend of the family. Their son was in the service, he was in Cuba, and he sold insurance, he had to go to L.A. I still say it was arranged, anyhow. [Laughs] So I went down to L.A. and then went to the house there. And (...) that's how I met her over there in L.A. They just moved in from, it was in Santa Maria, and they moved to L.A.

KP: You mentioned earlier, did you say that your wife had been in Crystal City? Your wife had been in Crystal City, did you say?

TT: Oh, yeah.

KP: Their whole family went?

TT: Yeah, oh yeah. Because, see, what happened is my father-in-law got picked up from the FBI. That was run by INS, Immigration and Naturalization Service, not the War Relocation, that was different. So anyway, he got picked up, and so they got together, anyway, they get to Gila, Arizona, they got together over there, and then something happened, and anyway, he got picked up again and he ended up at... got picked up again so he was sent to Crystal City, Texas, then his family went over there. Because the FBI had a list of, boom, boom, boom, they picked 'em up.

KP: So you met your wife in Los Angeles.

TT: Yeah.

KP: Then you went back to San Lorenzo?

TT: No.

KP: You stayed?

TT: By that time I was in Sacramento.

KP: Oh, that's right, Sacramento.

TT: Yeah. That was back in 1951. So it wasn't... I went through about the same thing a lot of other guys went through, family went through. So there's nothing unusual.

KP: So what did you, what did you end up doing for most of the years between 1951 and when you retired? What kind of work did you do?

TT: I was a machinist for twenty-eight years.

KP: With who?

TT: With Electro-Coating Precision Engineering. Precision Engineering sold it to Electro-Coating, and I retired from Electro-Coating. And retired in 1988. I worked, I think, over twenty-eight years there.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

KP: So 1988 was also the year of the redress.

TT: Yeah.

KP: Retirement bonus?

TT: Not much of a bonus.

KP: What did you think about the redress?

TT: Well, don't forget, as far as getting it and appreciating it. But you know, like I think the twenty thousand, I don't think, it never could replace the freedom we lost. Like we said, I could tell the students that, when I go to talk to 'em, said, "You know, you lose your rights, your constitutional right, you don't realize it until you do," I said. You get stuck back there in the fence like that, losing your own constitutional right and all that. Because technically speaking, man without a country. And that apology, I think just as much about the apology as I do about the twenty thousand dollars. [Laughs]

KP: How did the apology make you feel?

TT: Well, I felt a little better. But it'll never take away the years I lost in camp. But a lot of people ask, well, they says, some people tell me, I meet on this, in this job or something, well, they said, "For your protection." I said, "Protect me from what?" I said, "I would have taken my chance outside." And besides, look at the labor shortage they had, the farm and all that. It didn't make sense. But that's part of war, I guess. But I think most of us survived.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: Jim, how did you get involved talking to the school kids and college kids?

TT: Well, I don't know if you know Mary Tsukamoto, she was with the (JACL), and she asked the VFW, she was doing that, you know. And she asked us, so that's how I got started. That's why a lot of 'em, a lot of our speakers, they dropped out. But we get a call, we still get calls once in a while. We still go, but there was, oh, there was about ten, twelve of us used to go around. But we're down to about four now.

RP: And who do you speak to? Who do you speak to?

TT: Oh, anybody that give us a call. We go to college, college and high school, grade school. But every now and then we get a call from (fourth) grade schoolteacher, that's hard to get down to that level. But one of our speakers, she works with, she's a public health nurse, and we let her do most of the talking when we do that. [Laughs] But as far as high school and colleges, we have no problem. But we go, whoever asks us, we go. We went, we went on a trip to Quincy one time, we got a call. She got us on the internet. I don't know, whoever got on the internet. She called us from Quincy, we went on an overnight trip out there. Like I say, whoever calls, we go. We go to Grass Valley, Nevada City, Placerville.

RP: Did the children seem interested in your stories?

TT: Pardon?

RP: Did the children seem interested in your stories?

TT: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. But you know what really gets us, there's some people that ask us, "Did it really happen?" I said, "You better believe it. We're survivors," I tell 'em. [Laughs] I went to a, what is the high school in, over there by Marysville, and there's a, I was surprised, there was a lot of Southeast Asians. I don't know whether they're from Vietnam or Cambodia, I was surprised. And I was talking to them, said, "You went through about the same thing as we went through," he'd tell us. You know the "boat people." And it's very interesting. They had it a little rougher than we did, but basically the principle was about the same. It was very interesting.

KP: Anything else, Richard? You do go around and talk to children.

TT: Yeah, whenever they call us, we go.

KP: So how do you sum up the camp experience? What has it contributed to who you are? I mean, how does that fit in with who you are?

TT: Well, it's quite an experience. Because unless you lived through it, it's pretty hard to explain. But they said, "How do you feel? Weren't you mad?" and all that. I said, "Sure, you were mad. Lose all your rights. But what being mad for? You're not going to hurt nobody but yourself. Once you get over that, you're fine." But we go and let the people know what really happened. Because a lot of the stuff they, it's not in the book, that's one thing for sure. Because when we first started this, I think it was one little paragraph in the book. At last now there's lot of books written that, what we went through right now. But when we first started, one little paragraph in the history book. And we went to, what is that, high school over there by the other side of Marysville. We went over there, they had a history, but one little paragraph. So the next I went, a few years later, they had a whole book on that. Quite a difference. Yeah, over there by Wheatland. We went to Wheatland High School. I was quite impressed with that difference a few years made.

KP: Do you think this is an important American story? Do you think this is an important American story?

TT: Well, I think it should be told. I don't know important it is, but I think it should be told, people should know about it. Because you get in the East Coast, I don't think they know about it. I think it should be told so you don't help -- in other words, because what I heard, what is it, Iranian war or something, the first on, Iraq or something, the hostage deal? I heard they had a camp already built, ready to go. Because I remember we had in our VFW hall, we called it NAACP, and the Jewish whatchacall'em and all that, we had a regular conference. So what our theory was, "In 1942, what you did to us, haven't you guys learned anything?" We had KCRA, we had all the radio, media and all that at the VFW hall, we had a news conference. And so I don't know what became -- maybe it helped, I don't know, but they didn't put 'em in... they already had a stockade built. I was shocked when I heard that. The way I look at it, no matter what, they didn't do nothing wrong. They're still American citizen regardless. According to the Constitution, we're all equal. But like I always tell the student, I says... every now and then, ones in high school, especially high school, they tell you that, about the "Constitution failed us." It's not the Constitution. The Constitution is a well-written document put in play. But the elected officials are the ones that... that's why. "Go vote," I say. "One vote will make a difference. Because it's up to the people that you elect to uphold the Constitution. They're the ones supposed to enforce it," I tell 'em. But you'd be surprised. I couldn't believe it. Some of these people lived in California all their life. I guess they were too young or something, but they said, "It really happened?" I said, "You better believe it happened."

KP: Anything else you'd like to share?

TT: If you ask me, I don't know. [Laughs] But it was quite an experience. You know, one thing that I might add, that I don't know if it's important or not. You know, they put us in camp, and then a lot of 'em realized that, went back, went to school, became a lawyer, doctor and all that. I often wonder, if that didn't happen, whether you'd follow your parents' footsteps, be a farmer or doctor or dentist. We wouldn't be what we are today, diversified as we are today. But if you look at it that way, in a way, it helped. Because they all went, realized they have to get an education and all that, and all went.

KP: I've also talked to people who were in Colorado and didn't go through the camp, and it's the same story. They all grew up on the farms doing all the chores you were doing. And many of 'em went off to become doctors and professors and stuff like that, too. So I think it's probably just the emphasis on education.

TT: But you hear some funny stories. You lived through it. But I can't complain. Like I always say, no sense complaining when nobody will listen. [Laughs]

KP: Well, on behalf of myself and Richard and the National Park Service, thank you for sharing your stories with us today.

TT: My pleasure, my pleasure. Thanks for asking me. I hope it helped.

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