Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Shimako "Sally" Kitano Interview
Narrator: Shimako "Sally" Kitano
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: October 15, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ksally-02

<Begin Segment 1>

AL: All right. Well, today is Wednesday, the 15th of October, 2008. And we are at the Main Street Station Casino in Las Vegas. And Sally, this interview is for Manzanar National Historic Site to preserve the stories and to share them with future generations. So I just want to confirm that we have your permission to use your interview for education and historic purposes.

SK: Yes.

AL: Okay. And, if you could start out by giving us your full name.

SK: Shimako Sally, Nishimori was my maiden name, Kitano.

AL: Okay. And when and where were you born?

SK: I was born in Winslow on Bainbridge Island, 1932. April 6th.

AL: April 6, 1932. Okay. And what are your parents' names?

SK: Kirohachi and Tsue Nishimori. Kirohachi is K-I-R-O-H-A-C-H-I. And Tsue is T-S-U-E.

AL: Okay. And your parents, I assume, are Issei?

SK: They were Isseis.

AL: Okay. Do you know when and where they were born in Japan?

SK: They were born in Kumamoto-ken in Japan down in Arao, I think that's where it was.

AL: Okay. About what year?

SK: My dad was born in 1880... let's see, it was '79 or '80, he was ninety-three when he passed away. Anyway, and my mother was born in 19'... gee, when was Mom born? She was ten years older so, okay. So my dad was born around 1879, my dad, my mother was born in 1889. I think that's the way it went.

AL: And were they both from Kumamato-ken?

SK: [Nods]

AL: Did they marry in Japan or in the U.S.?

SK: My dad came over in the early 1900s and then my mother followed about ten years later or something like that.

AL: Do you know what brought your dad to the United States?

SK: He went into farming. His... they were farming in Japan and there were three sons and my dad was the youngest and there was no place for him there. So he decided to venture off and come to the United States. Then he went, he did go to Alaska and came back to Bainbridge.

AL: That's what I was gonna ask you. When he came to the United States where did he go, come to?

SK: I think he came to Tacoma and ended up on Bainbridge Island. That was because they came through, I think the ship landed in Tacoma. And then he decided, he thought he'd try Alaska.

AL: What did he do in Alaska?

SK: I'm not sure. He just did odds and ends of jobs and then he ended up going into strawberry farming on Bainbridge Island.

AL: Did he know anybody on Bainbridge Island before he went there?

SK: No, I don't think so.

AL: Okay. And do you know what year he immigrated, approximately?

SK: Probably in the, gosh, before 1900, yeah.

AL: And when he went to Bainbridge Island, do you know what year that was?

SK: No, I don't.

AL: Okay.

SK: I used to remember. I should have kept all that information.

AL: That's okay.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AL: When he went to Bainbridge, do you know what his original occupation was? Did he go straight into farming?

SK: I think he worked for people on the farms and then he eventually went into strawberry farming and he, he bought a piece of property near the center of the island and went into strawberry farming.

AL: Do you know names of any of the farmers that he worked for before he...

SK: No, I don't.

AL: Okay. And you said he bought his own land. How did he do that? Did he buy it in the name of someone else, or did he buy it himself?

SK: He bought it through one of the neighbors. And this neighbor was very kind to a lot of the Japanese and he helped them get started. And then my dad... and then, there were times when he had a hard time making payments, and the gentleman said that's okay. And he just made sure my dad... and we eventually, my dad eventually paid it off, paid off the property.

AL: How many acres?

SK: We have five acres. And then after, in the early '40s, my dad had leased some land and he had about 20 to 40 acres of strawberries. And then, yeah, he had quite a bit of berries in cultivation and then when the war started he had the Filipino neighbors take over and of course things didn't go too well after that. [Laughs]

AL: Right. And we're gonna talk a little bit more about that. Before we get up to the war I wanted to ask you when and where and how he married your mother? Was she a "picture bride"?

SK: Apparently he was, the way I was told that his brother married my mother's sister. Okay, and so they had to make a trade and so my mother had to marry him. And that's the way, that's what I was told.

AL: Okay.

SK: And so, I mean, because he was the youngest son and so anyway, and he had come to the States and so they were sure that he needed a wife.

AL: Did they marry in the United States or in Japan?

SK: Yes, in United States. I think they got married in Tacoma.

AL: Okay. Did they know each other before they got engaged?

SK: They were neighbors, neighbors in the sense that, real close, I think close by, I think.

AL: Right. Do you know what year they married?

SK: My brother was... it's in the 1900s, I think. Gosh I can't remember when my brother was born. 'Cause he was born in... let's see, he was born in 1917. So okay, my mother came over in 1916, I think it was.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

AL: And, that was my next question is how many children are in your family and what are their names? And if you can remember the years of their birth.

SK: There were, there were originally eight of us. Two of 'em died at childbirth, the very first two. And then, no, the very first one. And then my brother was... when was he born? Anyway, he was born and then there were five girls after that. And my brother was Tike. And then...

AL: How do you spell that?

SK: T-I-K-E. that's how, that was shortened his name, they shortened his name to Tike. It was Tairoku.

AL: Tairoku?

SK: Uh-huh.

AL: How do you spell that?

SK: T-A-I-R-O-K-U.

AL: Okay.

SK: And then there was Masako. And she was about two years younger. So there's about two, two and a half years between each of my, each of us. And then there was Kiyoko, and Sueko, and Matsue, and then there was a girl that was born between my sister and I. Her name was, I think her name was Hisako.

AL: Hisako?

SK: Yeah. And then I was, I was the last one.

AL: And what does Shimako mean?

SK: Island. Island child. And Nishimori means west fore, so my name is apropos. I was born on Bainbridge Island, on the West Coast. And we were among trees.

AL: Okay. Your sister, Matsue, what is her last name now?

SK: What is her, her...

AL: Is her name now.

SK: Watanabe.

AL: I know her. I know Matsue Watanabe. Okay. I was not making the connection that that was your sister.

SK: Yeah. She didn't come this year.

AL: That's interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

AL: Okay, so you were born in 1932. So you had quite a range of ages in your family. And when you were, when you were growing up, what are some of your early memories? I mean, can you think back of your earliest childhood memory?

SK: We, the folks, my parents moved to Winslow just before I was born. And so I grew up in Winslow. And then, and my parents bought a house there. And that was the first house that they bought and it was the, and they fixed it up so that it was, it accommodated all, all eight of us. And then, yeah, and then my dad farmed it there and then he eventually began to lease land.

AL: Okay. And where did you go to school?

SK: I went to Lincoln grade school. I went to McDonald school in Port Blakeley for kindergarten and then first through fourth I was at Lincoln grade school in Winslow. And then the war started so we shipped off to Manzanar.

AL: How would you describe the community on Bainbridge Island at that time, as far as the Japanese American community and the other ethnic communities that were on the island, what was it like as a community?

SK: It was a real community because the Japanese lived in different places on the island, okay, 'cause they had, were farming and they, they either leased land or bought land and lived where they farmed. And so they were among most of the Caucasians on the island. And so the kids all grew up knowing English and of course we were, we were told that we had to learn English and so my, my parents were very, very good about that. But we also went to Japanese school. And my mother was very determined that we learn Japanese.

AL: Did your parents speak Japanese at home or English?

SK: Yes, they spoke a lot, mostly Japanese.

AL: Could they speak English also?

SK: They, my mother learned to speak English more than my dad because my dad was very hard of hearing.

AL: What was your family's cultural background in terms of, you know, religion and any kind of observances, like did you celebrate Girl's Day, and Boy's Day, the Emperor's birthday?

SK: We were, my parents were Buddhists and so they would celebrate certain things, Boy's and Girl's Day and so forth. But we took on much of the American ways. I think it was because my parents felt that we should be very American, too.

AL: Did your parents ever go back to Japan before the war?

SK: No, they didn't. They wanted to go back but they never had time or could afford it.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

AL: So what do you remember of December 7, 1941?

SK: December 7th, I remember I was standing in the living room by the radio and listening to all the reports of what happened at Pearl Harbor. And that was very scary. And, to me, I was only eight years old. And then of course the family got very concerned about it. And then, but we kept on doing whatever we had to do.

AL: Do you remember anything about your parents' reactions? What they said or did at the time?

SK: No, I don't. I know they were very concerned that... I was too young to really understand the whole picture.

AL: Did anybody, do you recall and comments or actions from people, either adults or other kids, towards you or about you and your family?

SK: When, before we left the island, the people were very, very nice to us. We never had any real problems with the people because we grew up with all of our neighbors, our Caucasian neighbors and so forth and they, and we did our, we did our own thing. But I had some very, very good friends living up the street from us. And we used to, we used to play a lot together.

AL: Do you remember their names?

SK: One was, the one that was closest to was Drisella Pratt. And I think her sister still lives on the island. Her, the rest of the family is gone, I think.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

AL: What do you remember about the days and weeks after Pearl Harbor? Where, did the FBI or the authorities or anybody come to your house?

SK: The FBI did come to the house in January. And I came home from school one day and I saw this big black shiny car sitting in the yard. Of course I ran in the house and I said, "Who's here? Who's here?" you know, fourth grader. And my mother says, "Shhh. Don't say anything." I said, "What's the matter?" She says, "It's the FBI here." And they were, they searched our five acres of farm. Okay, they even, they checked the strawberry sheds, they checked everything. And they, well, they tried to check everything. And they didn't check one part and that was, there was a building, it was a building that had a windmill on it originally. And at the very top we had stored some things. Anyway, the FBI went through the place and they didn't go up there. Or at least they didn't spot the problem there. But anyway, they... and my brother was out someplace and he came home just before the FBI was ready to leave. And they started asking, "Well, do you have any explosives or anything? Do you know where they are?" And, "No, we didn't..." You know, and then my dad said something about, "Oh yes, we do have some dynamite," because it was used to clear the land. Okay, they didn't know where he had hidden it. And they couldn't... nobody could find it. So, anyway, that was one, that was the main reason why he was taken. And of course he, the dynamite was just to clear land and that was... and I think he had only one stick. And they couldn't do too much damage, but he was taken because of that. And that was, that was very hard. It was very, very hard on my brother. And of course to him it was, you know, my dad couldn't hear and he was always bent over in the strawberry fields. He never went to any kinds of meetings or anything, you know. And when they had the community, Japanese community activities, he really, he might go just because he had to go. But he couldn't hear and he didn't... so he never really got and participated in anything specifically.

AL: So he would have been in his early sixties, approximately, if he was born in 1870...

SK: He was sixty-five.

AL: Sixty-five.

SK: Yeah.

AL: Okay. And did you know where they were taking him? Did your mother know where they were taking him?

SK: They took him to the immigration building in Seattle. And he was there for about a month, I think. Or several weeks anyway. And then he, and then they shipped him to Montana, Missoula, Montana. And the fact that he was taken affected... well, it did affect the family, but I think it was my brother was the one that was really taken by that. And that's the first time I've ever heard him cry. And I thought, you know, my big, my big brother, he was quite a tall fellow. And he was a very, very capable fellow. Anyway, he... but I remember seeing him sit there just in tears. And I says, "That couldn't be my brother." But, you know, he was, he was in, it was, it affected him a lot. And from that day on he never talked once about that, the whole problem. People would ask him, you know, over the years, "What was it like?" And he says, "I'm not talking about it."

AL: Is he still living?

SK: No, he passed away a few years ago.

AL: When did you, when did you first hear from your father? I mean, how did you know that he was at Missoula?

SK: Well, we used to go into town to visit him at the immigration office where they kept him. And, well, and the family did. And then just before he left for Missoula, they brought me into town to see him. And that was the one and only time I saw him before he went.

AL: What do you remember about the visit?

SK: Nothing much other than, you know, first of all, my dad couldn't hear so I just, I kind of talked to him, but that's about it. I don't remember too much about that incident other than seeing him.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

AL: When did you first learn that you were gonna be moved off the island and how did you learn?

SK: March. We were told in March that we were to leave in two weeks. We were, and I know we left on March 30th... no, March 29th, I think it was. Yeah, March 29th, because we got to Manzanar April 1st, April Fool's Day.

AL: And you went across on a ferry, right?

SK: They... they had some nice, I got to ride in a jeep. The army trucks were there. They went around the island and they picked everybody up, and they had trucks and jeeps. And of course I got to ride in the jeep and I got to sit right next to the soldier driving the jeep. And I was, I thought, "Well, that's really interesting." I mean I thought that was a great thing, 'cause I never rode in a jeep before.

AL: What do you remember about the soldiers? Do you remember any person or...

SK: I don't... the only thing I remember was they were very, very nice. And they were just as confused about what in the dickens was going on because they were just told to come pick us up, take us to Seattle, put us on the train, in fact, and I think they went down with us. And they really didn't know too much about exactly where we were going. And so they made -- from what I was told, they made friends with the people on, with us on the train. And they were very, very nice, you know, and they were young fellows, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen year olds. And so they had, everybody had a good time on the train. Well, then we got down to, we got down to California... I forgot where that was. Anyway, we got off the train and then we were loaded onto buses and taken to Manzanar. And of course everybody says, "Oh, this is interesting." You know, we didn't know where we were going. Well, we got down there and we saw this barren desert. It was strictly desert. We were, it was the first, Manzanar was just being built. And they... and I think it took them two weeks just to put up the buildings and do some tarpapering. And we, and so we had, we had wooden floors with spaces in between like this where the dust would come up and then we had those awful windstorms. And the house was just covered with dust.

AL: What was your apartment and barrack number?

SK: We were in Block 3. We were the first group to be there other than the workers. It was Block 3, Building 4, Apartment 3.

AL: And how many people in your apartment?

SK: There were... let's see. There were, yeah, seven of us. Let's see, there was five kids, six of us, and then my Dad, my dad was in Montana.

AL: When did your dad rejoin the family?

SK: He joined us on June 27th of forty... let's see, when did we go to Manzanar? 1942. It was my sister's birthday, that's why I remember.

AL: So he joined you three months after you got there, about?

SK: Yeah.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

AL: What do you, what do you remember about how you spent your early time at Manzanar? Before there was a school or anything, what did you do during the day?

SK: Oh, we used to go out to play and then I thought, "Gee, this nice." I saw my neighbors across the way and we'd get out there and play. And then they tried to start a school for us but we went in as a group of kids into one of the buildings, and I'm not quite sure what they tried to teach us. But it took them a few months to really get things organized and I had a... I had a fifth grade -- I don't remember too much about my fourth grade -- but I remember when I went into fifth grade I had the, I had a fifth grade teacher who was, wasn't very nice. She would just come in and just yell at us. And then the superintendent would come into the classroom and she and the superintendent would walk out and they would be talking and pretty soon, my teacher came back in, in tears. And I think, I don't know what the problem was but I presume it was because of the way she was teaching us, working with us. But...

AL: Do you know what her name was?

SK: No. I don't. I did remember once upon a time. But then after that I had some very good teachers. I had an eighth grade teacher who was a, a very attractive teacher, and she was, she knew English very well, you know, and so she really went into the business of teaching us English. And the teacher who was next door to her was a Spanish teacher. And of course being in the, I think it was in the seventh grade, seventh or eighth grade, we used to just tease the heck out of both those teachers, thinking, you know... oh, about different things and we thought that those two would eventually get together. Well, they never did. But they, the kids just, they just ran, did all kinds of things and they would write things on the blackboard while the teachers were out, you know. And I decided I'd better stay out of that. [Laughs] I didn't want to get, I didn't want to get into trouble at home.

AL: What did your mother do in camp before your father got there?

SK: She stayed home and then eventually she went to work at the mess halls working in the kitchen. And then when my dad came back to camp, he needed something to do 'cause he couldn't just stand doing nothing. So he went and worked on the farms there where they produced fruits and vegetables for the camp. And he loved that.

AL: What do you remember about the day he returned? Or when you found out that he was returning and then when he actually returned?

SK: We were, we met him down I think in Block 2 where the bus came in. And he and Mr. Kojima were the ones that came back together. Mr. Kojima was another islander. And it was, it was very nice to have my dad back but that's all I can remember about it.

AL: Was he the same man that had left Bainbridge Island?

SK: I think so. 'Cause he, well first of all he was hard of hearing so he wasn't the kind of person to get into a lot of conversation or a lot of things with people.

AL: Did your brother work in camp?

SK: Yes, he did. And he was, he was... on Bainbridge Island before he went to camp, he got interested in radio. He just loved monkeying with all those things. And he had so much fun with that and then when my dad was taken, of course, the FBI had looked over everything that he had there because they thought, "Oh gosh, he might be sending messages, etcetera...." But he had never done that, he enjoyed just having fun with it. Well, right after my dad was taken, it was a very traumatic thing for him and I remember one of my sisters told me that he went out and took all of his radio equipment, whatever he had, and he just threw it out on the, in the ditches because he felt that that's what was the reason why my dad was taken. But I don't think that was the case.

AL: Do you remember anything in particular about the dynamic between he and your dad when your dad got back? I mean, were they, were they close? Had their relationship changed?

SK: They were, they were always, we were always very close. We were a very close family. So there was no biggie. It was, I think it was, it was hard for my dad to come back into the community. But he may... I don't remember too much about it.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

AL: When... you said you had a very close family, when you were in camp did that change at all? I mean, did you eat together? Did you... what was your daily life like?

SK: What happened was we used to go to eat together as a family and then my mother went to work in the kitchens. And then the kids from across the street, across from us, we'd say, oh gosh, we were having... well, it's time for lunch or time for dinner. So we'd all go together. And we never really sat with the family. And I think that's what kind of broke, you know, the manners and so forth. The family eating was different. I know my sister at first used to take me and she used to always say, "Now do this and do that." And I was, she was about five years older than me. And she'd always make sure that my manners were just so.

AL: What do you remember about the food in the mess hall?

SK: I thought it was fine. A lot of people didn't, but the only thing I can think about with the mess hall was that I had these heavy, heavy plates to carry, and these heavy mugs. And I found it very difficult to carry because I was only, I was just a little kid. And that was the only thing I... the food didn't bother me at all.

AL: What was your --

SK: I know my brother and my sisters it did. But for me, nothing new.

AL: What was your favorite meal in the mess hall?

SK: I don't know. I like my breakfast. We had pancakes and eggs and we had everything. And I remember they kept saying... well, there was a shortage on eggs and there was a shortage of this. But we had all the things that we wanted.

AL: How come?

SK: I don't know. I mean we just, I just know that we had it, and I remember hearing about all that.

AL: Right. Well, you know, you had a chicken ranch at Manzanar. They had 10,000 chickens there so that might have explained why they had eggs.

SK: Yeah, we had eggs and of course we had lots of fruits and vegetables because it was, it was a nice place to grow vegetables and fruits.

AL: One of the things we're working on this year is restoring a mess hall that we returned back from Bishop Airport. And it's actually placed on Block 14. But we're always... we have some photographs of the inside of the mess hall, but we're always curious about what people remember about the physical layout of the building, what you saw when you were in there, any clues that might help us in restoring our mess hall of what you remember from being inside of one.

SK: All I know is we were always in long lines. That's all I can remember other than... and then carrying those heavy, heavy plates and mugs and... the food never bothered me.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AL: And the... most of the people in Block 3 were from Bainbridge Island?

SK: Yes.

AL: So I... the people who worked in your mess hall were they mostly Island people also?

SK: There were a few who worked there. I don't remember who all those people were. But it was after the Bainbridge people left that my mother went to, I think, went to work in the mess halls.

AL: Okay. Who did you socialize with before the Bainbridge people left? I mean, did you mostly socialize with people in your own block or other people?

SK: Yes, with the people in my own block.

AL And who else lived around your block?

SK: Well, basically it was Bainbridge Island people. There were a couple of... there was one family from California that I knew of. And they had a, they had a daughter about my age. And then there was, there was another family that had a daughter that was a few years older. And so when the Bainbridge people left, there were only three of us girls played together and then some others moved in.

AL: So Block 3, I've always thought is kind of an interesting location because you're next door to Block 2, which is the bachelor block. And then you're next door to 9, 10 and 11, which is the Terminal Island blocks. Do you remember any of the interactions you had either with the Issei bachelors or the Terminal Islanders?

SK: Okay, the Terminal Islanders were in Block 9. They were across from us, right next door to us, basically. And they were, they spoke a lot of Japanese. We spoke mostly English. And it wasn't too long before the Terminal Islanders and the Bainbridge Island kids got into fights, especially the younger fellows, I mean, the teenagers, I don't know... I was too young to really understand all that, but I do know that there were some fights. And I was told, but I'm not sure if that was the real reason why people from Bainbridge moved to Idaho, but I think, I really think that Bainbridge people moved to Idaho because they were, they knew the Seattle people. But the Terminal Islanders, they were... I went to school with them and they were very nice. I never had any real problems with them. I just made sure that I didn't get into trouble with any of them. [Laughs] 'Cause I heard so many stories of fights and things.

AL: And would these be like fistfights or verbal fights or gang fights?

SK: Both, I think. They had some fights, the older kids did.

AL: Do you know what they were fighting over?

SK: I don't know.

AL: Was your brother ever involved in any fighting?

SK: No, no. My brother was quite a bit older. 'Cause he's about fifteen years older than I was and he was, and he was very busy working and...

AL: And what was his job in camp?

SK: He worked as, I think as an electrician. See, he liked, he liked to do all those things and, you know, he liked his radio and things. And so he got into being an electrician and he learned a few things and then of course after the war he went into something similar to that.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KP: Can I interject a question here real quick? You know, you landed in Bainbridge, or, Block 3. So you were like the earliest people in the camp and you watched the camp fill up, the different groups come in. What was that like? What... did you look forward to each bus coming in? Did you want to try to, I mean...

SK: I thought, oh, gee there's, you know, there was a lot of kids and I thought gee, that's nice. I just thought this was great that I, we'd be among a lot of kids. And I did get to know a few kids 'cause we went to school with them. And they were from all over. Some were from L.A., some were from Terminal Island. But I was, I tended to shy away from anyone who got aggressive. You know, I mean, into fighting things, I decided that's, that wasn't for me. We as kids in our own block, we used to fight all the time over little things. But with the Terminal Island, with anybody else we just decided that we didn't want to get in, I didn't want to get into that.

AL: Did you make any friends in camp that are still friends?

SK: Yes. One of Kay Nakao's niece moved into our block. And she was just about a year or two older than me, but because there were only a few kids in our block after the Bainbridge people left, Eileen and I became good friends. And there were two other girls there.

AL: So why didn't your family go to Minidoka with the rest of the Bainbridge people?

SK: My dad was, my dad was the kind that didn't like to move around. But he was sent to, he was sent to Seattle because he was taken by the FBI, and then he was sent to Montana. And he came back and then he says, everybody said, well, we should all move to Idaho. And my dad says, "Forget it." He says, "I'm tired of moving." And that was his one reason he didn't want to move. And he wasn't the kind of person to be traipsing around either.

AL: And which other families stayed behind with... I mean, there were several Bainbridge families that didn't move. Is that correct?

SK: Yes.

AL: Do you remember what the, who the families were?

SK: Okay, the Nakatas, the Hayashis, the Furukawas, and us, and one other family. I can't remember. Anyway, there were five families that stayed behind. And so of course the Nakatas were, they were a big family and they were, today they're, they run a lot of grocery stores around Puget Sound. But they were... so we got to be very good friends with them. Of course, they were one of our neighbors.

AL: Do you know why they stayed behind?

SK: I don't know why anybody else stayed behind. But my dad was, my dad was the only one that said, "I quit. I don't like moving."

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

<Begin Segment 12>

AL: So how did, how did life in Block 3 change? I mean, that's probably the biggest, other than the people who went to Tule Lake, I mean, that's probably the biggest departure is the people from Bainbridge Island all leaving at once. Do you remember that day when they left?

SK: Oh, yeah. I was... of course, I was about nine or ten, and of course the kids... you're at that stage where, "Oh we get to move and you don't get to move," kind of thing. And so that was, that was a big thing with me. You know, how come I have to stay behind and I don't get to go traveling on a bus and a train, etcetera. The kids got to move and... but it was, it was kind of traumatic for me. But then it wasn't too long after some kids moved in and we just had fun by ourselves.

AL: Who moved into your block?

SK: Well, Kay Nakao's sister-in-law and her family moved in. And Eileen, who is just a couple years older than me, she moved. So she and several other kids that were... there weren't any other families that, real families, that moved in. There were mostly bachelors that moved into our block.

AL: So that must have changed life on the block.

SK: Yes. It was... 'cause all of the, all of our neighbors were bachelors in the building across from us and then our building. And I was, I was always told, you know, be careful of these people, these men, you know, single men, etcetera. But they were very, very nice people. And they...

AL: Were they mostly older?

SK: Yes. They were older gentlemen. And they were, they were very good. They taught my mother some things, you know, and they used to help each other out. And it was... and then, of course, some of the men used to play their, play go which is a Japanese chess game type thing. And so that was nice. But they were, they were very nice people and, and they grew, our neighbors grew flowers and vegetables right in, right in the grassy area. And so we never had any problems.

AL: Did your father make any new friends with all the new bachelors moving in?

SK: Yeah, he did, because he used to play, he used to play his little chess game.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AL: Did you keep up with news from Bainbridge Island? Did you guys subscribe to the Review?

SK: Yes. And one of the, one of the neat things was that Walt Woodward, who was the editor of the newspaper on the island, he kept in touch with us. And he had Paul Ohtaki be his correspondent. And so Paul would send all of this, all the weddings, deaths, etcetera, births, to Walt. And so Walt would have a special column just for that and, and so we always, a lot of us got the newspaper and that's how we kept in touch with the people on Bainbridge Island. And I think that's what made it so easy for us to go back to Bainbridge.

AL: Did you correspond with people on the island besides the newspaper?

SK: For me, I was a kid, so I corresponded with one or two kids. And one of 'em was, one of 'em was a daughter of the owner of the drugstore, the one and only drugstore on the island. And so we used to correspond, yes.

AL: Did they send you Christmas presents or packages or anything...

SK: No, we just sent letters back and forth between the two of us. The people who stored our things for us when we left for Manzanar, they were an older couple and they, and they owned the farm that we, my dad, had strawberries on. And so they, they, when we were told that we can have certain things, you know, Mr. and Mrs. Hyde would send us some of our things. And one thing they did send was my box, the box camera, the family box camera. Wellm by that time I think most of my brothers and sisters were out of camp. They had moved to Chicago. And of course I had this camera. No one else had a camera. So I had more fun with the camera. And so that's why the picture I have is from that box camera of mine.

AL: And you mentioned early on about, after your, your farm, I mean, that, I guess it was Filipinos that took over your farm?

SK: [Nods]

AL: So the Hydes kept your possessions?

SK: Yes.

AL: And then, so what happened to the farm?

SK: The farm was, the farm was still there and it wasn't sold or anything. They did take care of it and I don't know how well they did but they did, they kept the farm for us. And they, I'm not quite sure whether they farmed it themselves or they leased it out or what. I don't, I don't...

AL: Was this the Filipino family? Or the Hyde family?

SK: Yeah, the Filipino.

AL: Do you remember their names?

SK: No, I don't.

AL: Did you always know that were gonna go back to the island?

SK: I didn't know whether we would or not. I just know that when we were in Chicago we were, you know, we found out that we could go back. And my dad was very determined to go back to Bainbridge.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

AL: How did you end up in Chicago?

SK: My... during the war, they said that the young people can leave camp, or anybody can leave camp, and go east, but they couldn't go to the West Coast. And so I think one of my, well, I'm not quite sure whether it was brother or my sister that decided to move to Chicago. 'Cause that's where a lot of the Japanese had moved to. And so we, so then one by one my sisters all left camp. And, and my sister Mats was the last one to leave and she was a senior in high school in camp. And she decided, they decided, well, her sisters, my older sisters said that maybe she should go out there and finish high school out there. So she, she ended up in Evanston and graduated from there and eventually got a nice job out there.

AL: Did your family live together in Chicago or live separately? Your brothers and sisters?

SK: We had... we lived in an apartment building, and we were right next door to each other.

AL: And so your parents also were relocated out of camp?

SK: Yeah, we went to Chicago and my brother found a place for us.

AL: Did your dad get a job?

SK: He worked as a janitor and I can't remember who he worked for or anything. And he was, he worked nights, of course.

AL: Just going back to camp for a second. What do you remember about the "loyalty questionnaire"? Do you remember any discussions about, with your parents or neighbors?

SK: There was a lot of discussion about the loyalty and I was too young to understand all of that. But I do know that my sisters all said yes, they were going to sign it "yes-yes" instead of "yes and no" or whatever. But they decided that that was the thing to do.

AL: What about your brother and your parents?

SK: My brother, my brother did the same. He was not about to raise the roof on anything. [Laughs] He's not that kind of a person.

AL: Where were you when the war ended?

SK: Let's see. The war ended when we were in Chicago.

AL: Do you remember any feelings at that time, or thoughts?

SK: I was, all I know is I was glad the war was over. And I was, and once we knew that the war was over, well then my dad was talking about coming back to Bainbridge Island.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

AL: And how did you get back to Bainbridge? I mean, when and how?

SK: Yeah, we took a train back. And I think it was... gosh, I don't remember too much about that. I just know that we came back. And then because my dad wanted to come back to Bainbridge, my brother felt that he had to come back and help him. And it was very difficult for him because he had a very good job and one of the jobs was, at that time, was working in the, working with television. And television was just starting to come up. And so he learned a few things and he decided that was the thing to do. So when he moved back to the island he got into the television business and he learned to fix people's television. So he was on call constantly.

AL: What was it like the first time you saw the island? When do you remember first seeing it? Were you on the ferry?

SK: I don't remember too much about that. I think I was more concerned about starting back to school. And it was, because I had heard, I had heard so many stories about the discrimination and so forth. And I was, I wasn't quite sure how the islanders would accept me.

AL: And how did they accept you?

SK: I started... I think I was in the eighth grade or ninth, ninth grade I think it was. Anyway, my sister got me enrolled in school and I remember being given a locker. And I thought okay, that's fine. And then I went over and I met with some of my former classmates. And these were kids I had grown up with, I mean, in school. They were... 'cause we started kindergarten together. And I was, I was very, very concerned, 'cause I thought, oh, they wouldn't accept me, etcetera. Well, one of the most popular fellows in the class came up to me and he says, "Welcome back." And I thought that was so neat because I thought, gosh, you know, to find the most popular kid in school come up to me and say, "Welcome back," was really something. And then...

AL: Who, who was that?

SK: Ray Lowery. And I think about him and I really appreciated what he did. And then, so I went over to meet with the kids and the, and some of the kids who had lived on the island for a long, long time or were born and raised here, they were, they said, "Welcome back," too. And I was, I thought, "Wow." You know, I was, I was really frightened about starting school. 'Cause I had heard so many stories. And I had heard kids would write on the, write on the mirrors in the girls' room, you know, about, "Japs go back to where you came from," etcetera. I mean, I had heard stories like that. But on Bainbridge it was a very different story. And I think I can give, we can give Walt Woodward, the editor, for making sure that we weren't gonna have that kind of a problem.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

AL: Did you have any incidence of discrimination when you returned to the island?

SK: Two things. When I got back to the island, a lot of the kids were, belonged to the Rainbow Girls. And that was, that was the thing to belong to. Okay, and then the other thing was joining the Girl Scouts. 'Cause I was in the scouting program before the war. And so I went up to the lady who ran the scouting program and I said, "Can I get back into the scouting program?" And she said, "Well, the kids are too far advanced now so I don't think that you would fit in." And I says, "Okay." I mean, I accepted it. I was disappointed, very disappointed, but I said, "Okay. I understand that." And then, but it wasn't too long after that I found out that anybody can go join the Girl Scouts at any time.

AL: Did you join? Did you ever get to...

SK: I never did join.

AL: Did any Japanese Americans join the Girl Scouts?

SK: Not at that time, no. And then the Rainbow Girls, that was a Masonic group, and that was a big group that the kids were all into and, and of course you want to be a part of a group. And I remember Remo, my classmate, said, "Well, let me see what I can do." You know, so she, so she had her mother call headquarters. And they said no, Japanese are not accepted. And that's when I practically broke down and cried, 'cause I couldn't get into anything. That was, that really hurt, I think.

AL: And what, what age are you by that... you would be about...

SK: I was...

AL: Fourteen?

SK: Let's see. I was about twelve, thirteen. Something like that. That's a rough time for a teenager.

AL: Were you involved in school activities back on the island?

SK: I always felt I was kind of behind in, in school because Bainbridge had a good school curriculum and the kids were doing, you know, they were very well advanced. And of course coming from Manzanar and from Chicago, it was a totally different story and I was way behind. And I don't think I was... I think I was able to keep up, you know, in most things, but when I came back to Bainbridge I was totally lost. And one of the neat things that happened was a, one of my eighth grade teachers recognized the fact that I was having problems and she offered to help me. Like I say, the Bainbridge people were really good people.

AL: How did your parents adjust to going back to the island? How was life different after the war for them?

SK: They didn't have many problems. They just went back to farming. And we generally, my parents generally kept to themselves other than among the Japanese community. And my dad was, and my dad started raising strawberries, and then we'd send them to, we didn't have too many acres of strawberries and so it was just enough to keep him busy and to keep him with a little bit of extra money. And so, you know, like I say, he did enjoy that. And I, and I used to help, we used to help take the berries to the cannery, etcetera.

AL: Okay. Did... do we have two or three minutes? Okay. We're just about out of tape. I guess a couple... one question I wanted to ask is, in thinking forward of people seeing this interview in years to come, people learning from it, what is the most important thing that you want people to know about this whole experience? That you think people need to know.

SK: I think they need to know what happened. And I think most people recognize the fact that this can't happen again. Because something came up, probably about ten years ago, and I remember they were saying they were gonna ship these people off someplace. And I, and they said no, you know, they put a big stop to that.

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