Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Yukiko Miyahara Interview
Narrator: Yukiko Miyahara
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: San Diego, California
Date: April 10, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myukiko_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KP: First we'll slate the tape. My name is Kirk Peterson, and with me today is Richard Potashin, and we're shooting this interview for Manzanar National Historic Site, it will be archived at the site. And today we're interviewing Yukiko Miyahara?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And we are at... what's your address here?

YM: 3416 Hershey Street, San Diego.

KP: In San Diego, California. So let's, let's get started here. And today is April 10, 2009. So let's start, first of all, when and where you were born.

YM: November 29, 1919, Venice, California.

KP: And your given name at birth was?

YM: Yukiko Miyahara, I mean, Yukiko Nojima.

KP: Do you know what your first name means?

YM: It's supposed to mean prosperity or something like that. I don't really know.

KP: And what do you know about your mother and father? Where was your father born?

YM: I don't know what year he was born.

KP: Where? Do you know where he was born?

YM: Where in Japan?

KP: Yeah.

YM: Tottori, Japan.

KP: Where's that again?

YM: Tottori-ken.

KP: And can you spell that for us? I'll ask you to spell a lot of things, 'cause we're gonna have people writing these down. They might have trouble with some of the spellings.

Off camera voice: T-O-T-T

YM: Yeah, she knows. T-O-T-T-O-R-I, Tottori. I think so, Tottori-ken.

KP: And your father's name?

YM: Shikazo Nojima.

KP: Do you know what your father's family did in Japan?

YM: No, I don't. I have no idea.

KP: And where was your mother from?

YM: Same place, Tottori-ken, Japan.

KP: Was it an arranged marriage?

YM: No, she was, what you call that? "Picture bride."

KP: When did your father come to the United States?

YM: I actually don't know. All I know is my mother came in 1916.

KP: So what are the... in what order are your brothers and sisters?

YM: My brother was the oldest.

KP: And his name was?

YM: Roy. He had a Japanese name but we called him Roy.

KP: Do you know what his Japanese name was?

YM: Ryohe.

Off Camera: R-Y-O-H-E.

KP: And he was born in?

YM: Venice, California.

KP: And then there was you?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And who's next?

YM: Tomoko Yata. (...) She was the only one that wasn't born in Venice. I don't know where... they used to call it Greenmead, I don't know. I was only a child so I don't... I just know what my parents tell me. So, and so...

KP: And then after Tomoko?

YM: It was Nagatoshi Nojima, and he was born in Venice. And Harutoshi was born in Venice.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KP: So what are some of your very first memories of Venice?

YM: All I know is I was, you know, I went to school there and went to American school then we went to a Japanese school every day of the week. And that's about all we did was go to school or work on the farm.

KP: And your father was a farmer?

YM: Farmer, uh-huh.

KP: And what did he, what did he grow?

YM: Celery and string beans and lima beans and I forgot the other things. But... mostly celery and then the beans came in alternately, you know, like that.

KP: And did he lease that land?

YM: Yes. They couldn't own the land, so they leased the land.

KP: Were you, did you do a lot of work on the farm? Do you remember doing that?

YM: Yeah. I did as much of that as I could. I didn't do too much. I did most of the cooking at home instead. [Laughs]

KP: So did your, on your father's farm, did he have other help besides the family working the farm? Do you remember?

YM: Sometime during the heavy seasons, we had people. Well, we'd go help other people and they'd come and help us when we have big shipments like that.

KP: And where did you go to school?

YM: I went to Machado grammar school and Venice high school.

KP: And what's the grammar school you went to?

YM: Machado. I think that was the name of our school. It's been so long ago. [Laughs]

KP: What, what type, what was the racial makeup of that school?

YM: You mean...

KP: Were there Japanese Americans or...

YM: At our school we didn't have that many Japanese people, 'cause they had, we had other friends but our schools were separated by districts, so our school, we didn't have that many Japanese people.

KP: So the rest of your neighbors were...

YM: But when we went to high school, they all came to the same high school. But grammar schools were all scattered.

KP: So you would go to grammar school... when did you start Japanese language school?

YM: About the same time we started school

KP: Did you go to the regular grammar school and then Japanese language school every day or was it...

YM: Every day. The bus came to pick us up at our, we called it American school and Japanese school. And the bus used to come and get us at the American school and we'd go to school for an hour every day of the week.

KP: Then did the bus take you home or...

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: What did you... do you remember what your favorite classes in grammar school were or teachers or anything?

YM: No, I don't remember. It's too long ago.

KP: What do you remember of your father? What, what kind of, kind of man was he, if you could...

YM: He was the most gentle person I ever knew in my life. He was a very good man.

KP: Japanese was spoken in your home?

YM: Mostly, at dinner time anyway. But, they didn't complain if we spoke English but they can't understand us so we tried to talk Japanese to them.

KP: And what do you remember about your mother?

YM: Oh, she was just a regular mother.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KP: What was Venice like in those days? What do you, what do you remember? What stood out in your mind about...

YM: Well, where they call Marina del Rey, that was what we used to go clamming and things like that. But it's all changed now, you know. We used to go to the lagoon and things like that, but I haven't been there after they developed it. But a couple of times I have... I can't really recognize how different it changed, but economy there was really different than when we were kids.

KP: So aside from school and Japanese school and working on the farm and climbing occasionally, what else did you do?

YM: I used to belong to a girls club and we'd learn how to knit and sew and make flowers and things like that, and learn manners and tea ceremonies, for a little while.

KP: So was that kind of a Japanese community girls club?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And then after grammar school you went to...

YM: Venice High School.

KP: How was that different for you?

YM: It wasn't so different. It's just school.

KP: Were you involved in any school activities?

YM: No. Only thing, we belonged to a Japanese club and we used to have... that was the only thing I belonged to, Japanese club.

KP: What did you do in the Japanese club?

YM: I really forgot. The one that ran it was one of our homeroom teacher and he was a, I think, art teacher. And he was the sponsor for the Japanese club.

KP: Was he Japanese?

YM: Uh-uh. Mr. Weinberger.

KP: And you continued to go to Japanese language school or Japanese school after school in high school or...

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Which, which book did you get through?

YM: I don't know. I think I graduated seventh or eighth grade, I don't know. I got a graduation gift but I forgot what year it was.

KP: As you got older and were going to high school, did you take on more chores at the farm or did you continue... what were, did your jobs at home change?

YM: Yeah, I did, like I said, I did most of the cooking instead of going out to the field.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KP: Did you ever, do you have any other form of activities, recreation that you did outside of school?

YM: No. All I did, I went to what they call sewing school, designing school.

KP: This was after high school?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Did you ever go to town to watch movies or...

YM: Not too much. Farmers didn't have that much time.

KP: As a, as a teenager, what's the farthest you ever traveled from your home?

YM: I don't... all I know is we... as a teenager we didn't go too many places. So...

KP: So you spent most of your childhood in the Venice area?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Did your family celebrate any of the Japanese holidays, like Boys, Girl, Boys Day and Girls Day and...

YM: I think we only celebrated New Year's as a whole. I don't think we celebrated Girls Day and Boys Day. We didn't have time for that kind of stuff.

KP: So were you involved in the food preparation for New Year's?

YM: No. My mother did it. So...

KP: And when did you graduate from high school?

YM: February, 1939.

KP: Were you, were you glad to be done with school or...

YM: Yeah. [Laughs]

KP: And then you mentioned you went on to study sewing. Once you graduated from high school, where did you live?

YM: Venice.

KP: Still live at home?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Did your chores or duties at home change after high school graduation?

YM: No. Just same.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KP: So after you graduated, not a lot changed in your life?

YM: No.

KP: Were you dating at that time or...

YM: Yeah.

KP: Anyone in particular?

YM: The man I married.

KP: Where did you, where did you meet him?

YM: Well, he, he was raised in Japan and when he came to America, that's when I met him. So, I've known him about, more than five years before we got married. Five or six.

KP: Was he born in Japan or did he...

YM: No, he was born here and he was raised in Japan.

KP: So he's Kibei.

YM: And... he's a Kibei.

KP: Was he different from the other young men that you knew?

YM: No, I don't know. Well he was told when he left Japan to look up our family. So he... and then he, he was sponsored by my uncle so that's why I got to know him. He lived with my uncle for a while. And that's how I met him.

KP: Where was he born, do you know?

YM: In Seattle.

KP: So he went from Seattle to Japan and then came back to southern California. So, what did... it was Toshio?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: What did Toshio do? What kind of job, work did he do?

YM: Why he did mostly, like he worked for his brother-in-law and he worked for my uncle and things like that. But he used to be in the, the person that went to the wholesale market to take produce to a produce section of a supermarket. He was a truck driver at first.

KP: Is that how your, your father relied on other people to drive his crops to market or did he...

YM: Well, he worked for somebody that has a store and they had to go to the warehouse, I mean, the, wherever they sell the vegetables wholesale, he had to go pick it up and take it to the store. So that was... so it had nothing to do with the farming or anything like that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KP: So when were you married?

YM: 1940, June.

KP: And did you move at that time?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Where, where did you move to?

YM: I moved, I moved to Torrance, you know where that nursery was. That picture I showed you of the nursery.

KP: And who owned that, who owned that property?

YM: I mean, my uncle leased that property and, and he had that nursery.

KP: And you said when you first moved there you lived in the...

YM: Yeah, the back house. [Laughs.] But then we didn't live there that long. We moved to my parents' place and helped them on their farm.

KP: Did you work at your uncle's place?

YM: Yes.

KP: What did you, what were your...

YM: I just did transplanting in the greenhouse.

KP: Did you get a chance to get out with your husband and do anything?

YM: Oh yeah, we used to go to movies all the time.

KP: What kind of movies? What do you remember?

YM: I don't know. There were these, the kind that you saw every week or every... you know, we used to go see on this, I forgot, cheap, ten-cent movies.

KP: At that time, when you were watching the movies, were they showing newsreels about the war in Europe?

YM: No, not then. 'Cause it was after... when we used to go to the movies, that was before the war so you know... we didn't see any. We didn't go after that war started, so...

KP: So when you moved back and lived with your parents, what did Toshio do?

YM: We all, we all helped on the farm. Well, we didn't stay there that long 'cause we moved away again to work for a big nursery.

KP: Which nursery was that? Do you remember?

YM: It was Union Nursery in Inglewood. That was the last place we lived until we moved to my uncle's after the war started. 'Cause where we lived, they don't want any Japanese people living there so we had to leave.

KP: This was in Inglewood?

YM: Yeah.

KP: And you were working for...

YM: Union Nursery.

KP: And both you and your husband worked at the nursery?

YM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KP: So, let's... do you remember December 7, 1941?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: What do you remember about that day?

YM: Well, I was pregnant with Fred and my husband went to, they went to play pool and he came rushing home. He said, "They told everybody to go home, there's a war." And that's how I found out.

KP: And what did you...

YM: And then I was pregnant with Fred and he was born ten days after.

KP: So...

YM: He was born on the seventeenth. So, just a little boy.

KP: So soon after, was it soon after December 7th that you moved back to your parents'?

YM: No, we moved to my parents not too long after we got married. and then we went to work for this nursery and we stayed there from... let me see, yeah, '40 to '41. And we had to leave in, we left to go to my uncle's because they said no Oriental could live in that district, well, no Japanese anyway. So my husband says, "You want to stay here 'cause we're citizens, or do you want to move out?" And I said, "They're not gonna ask you where you were born? I'm leaving." So we went to my uncles' 'cause they didn't have any children so we went over to help them.

KP: Do you know why they wanted Japanese people out of Inglewood?

YM: I think it's because they had the air, airplane factories on the same street as El Segundo Boulevard. And so they didn't want any of us living there. They thought maybe sabotage or I don't know what, but you know. So we all... couple a families didn't move but they moved the next day.

KP: So Toshio wanted to make a stand? Is that what he was about?

YM: He didn't want... he said, "You want to stay here or not?" And I said, "No, I don't want to stay here." So... and I didn't go to my parents' because I didn't know if (my sister-in-law's) family was gonna come there or not. My uncle... and then when we called, my uncle didn't have any children so we thought we should go stay with them and help them.

KP: And where did they live?

YM: They lived in Torrance.

KP: Okay, that was at the nursery?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: So what was... it sounds like almost immediately your family was affected by moving? What were... were people worried? Do you remember that at all, or about what was gonna happen eventually?

YM: I, I don't know see, 'cause I went to go to my uncle's place. So, you know, all we worried about was what's gonna happen next. And we didn't know what to think. We just did what the government told us to do. Like they say, it can't be helped.

KP: So when you heard that you were gonna be sent away to assembly centers, what did you feel? What did you think?

YM: Well, we thought we had only five days to get ready. That's all we had. So, so they said you can't take more than what you can carry. So we really went by the rules, which my uncle almost killed me for later. But you know... so we took two suitcases apiece. We had a truck and a car with nothing on it but the few suitcases and a baby bed and, and one washtub. My aunt threw one washtub on at the last minute. That's all we took. And, so when we... we had, said they had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So we asked them, "Can we go in Sunday?" So we had more time. They said, "No, your district goes in on Friday." So when my friend came on Sunday, they came with a truck full, with everything but the kitchen sink. Because I guess they figured, you know, even they leave it home they're gonna lose it, even if they take it and they take it away, same. So then my uncle says, "See? You have to go over there and borrow things." Which I had to go beg on my knees and say, "Oh please, can I have some rice and can I have some of this?" And, it was miserable at the very beginning, especially being in the stables.

KP: So, your, what did your uncle do with the property he was...

YM: We just left it. And then they told us that we might be able to go home in two months. So we stored everything in one of the rooms of our house. Which we found out that people got into it and took things and things like that. So, but what we were able to save, my brother told me to put it in the storage so I, I had my friend go over and get all my stuff out of the room and put it in storage for us. So I didn't lose some of the things. But I lost quite a few things that was taken before we got our things.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KP: So you went to Santa Anita and you drove there?

YM: Yeah. Our group were... I don't know where we started from. I think it was near San Pedro. I don't know, I don't remember. But we lived in Torrance and everybody had to drive in to where we lived. So my husband sold his car and then he drove the truck in and my uncle drove his car in. And we drove to Santa Anita.

KP: And where were you put in Santa Anita?

YM: Well, I was lucky, I had a jockey's room, and so I had a floor and ceiling. But my aunt and uncle was next door to me and they had the first stable of our row.

KP: What was, what was that like?

YM: Oh, terrible. It was, they had like a tar on the floor. And then when it got warm, you know, the bed stuck deep into the tar. And it was miserable. And it had those, that open door, you know where the horses used to put their head out? And then they just added a, a top to that to make it two rooms like. But, but we didn't live there too long because they needed more space, and since we were registered as one family, they made us move. Wanted us to go into the stable together or go to a new barrack that they just built. So we took the barrack. And so we had six of us 'cause I had my aunt's brother and my aunt and uncle and then the three of us. So six of us.

KP: So, who was... you said that at one point you had to, to go try to beg rice from people. What, what were your other food options when you were in Santa Anita? What was the food like?

YM: Oh, the first meal, I'll never forget 'til I die. It was like a rice was like soup and we some kind of hash. That was our dinner. It was awful. I'll never forget that.

KP: You also had a three month old baby at the time?

YM: No, when I took him into the camp he was only an infant, about three months, huh? Little over a hundred days.

KP: What did you, what did you do for formula, or how did you...

YM: Well I nursed him mostly. So they had what you call a baby station and they give you a little cup of baby food and milk if you needed it. But I didn't need the milk because I nursed him. But I, they used to give a little cup of baby food, not a whole can, just...

KP: And where was this baby station?

YM: Well, it was between the barracks in Santa Anita.

KP: So it wasn't with the mess hall or anything.

YM: No, no. They had a, what they called a baby station.

KP: So it sounds like the barracks was a big improvement for your aunt and uncle, but for you...

YM: Yeah. But then they still ran out of room so they partitioned everybody's apartment in half. So I gave my aunt and uncle the bigger side and we had the smaller side. We barely got our bed in. That was all the space we had. But at least we got a real bed. You know, I mean, with a mattress. While we were in the stable we had straw and we had to stuff that, what did they call that? And we had those canvas cots. It was terrible.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KP: So what do you remember about Santa Anita?

YM: I don't remember too much 'cause all I did was nurse Fred, watched him and we didn't do much of anything. Sat around.

KP: Most of your, before you came to camp, most of your friends were Japanese? Or did you have...

YM: Yeah, most of 'em were Japanese.

KP: So you didn't have any people who were still outside come to visit you?

YM: No, no. I had one friend. They worked for my brother, and they came to visit me at camp.

KP: How was that?

YM: It was fine. I mean, they were Mexicans and when he went to try to get my stuff out of the house, the people that owned the land wouldn't let him on the land. So I went to the office and I told, I told the person that was the head of, in the... and he said, "Well, he's a Mexican." I was so, you know, angry. I said, "I don't care what you say. He might be a Mexican, but he's better than other people that I know." And then he got an okay. They gave him okay and he went back and he was able to retrieve my things for me.

KP: What kind of storage were they put into?

YM: I don't know, it's like government storage. I don't know where it was. But anyway, Alex came and got our stuff and he took it for me, took it for us and then I told Alex that with the furnitures, like sofa and those, he can have it because I don't know when I'm gonna come back. So, according to my younger brother he said they had your furniture in my house. And I said I gave it to them so it's okay.

KP: So when... this was Alex who came to visit you in camp?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: When Alex came to visit you in camp, did you, where did you meet with him? How did visiting work?

YM: Well, we went in the gate from one side and they came in another gate. So we're sitting at the table, but you couldn't even shake your hand, you know. 'Cause they might think you might give something, something so we, we couldn't even do that.

KP: [Coughs] Excuse me. So how long were you at Santa Anita?

YM: We were there 'til October, then we went to Arkansas. But my husband, I had to leave him in the hospital in L.A. So he joined me in, at end of November.

KP: Your husband, you had to leave him in the hospital?

YM: Uh-huh. He had a hemorrhoid operation and he was operated on Wednesday and I had to leave on Friday. No, he was operated on Monday and I went to see him on Wednesday. 'Cause they had Wednesday and Sunday or something for visiting, so, they let me go. But they said as long as... and he's operated already so all he has to do is heal. So they told me to take my son and leave with the crowd. And my husband came over a month after I went over.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KP: So how did you travel to Jerome?

YM: We, they put us on a train. So, so I was able to go on the Pullman because I had Fred. And so we had a berth to sleep in and all. But, my aunt and uncle, they all had to sit in a regular coach train.

KP: How was the... what do you remember of the train trip?

YM: It was okay. Only when we stopped, I don't know, it was in Arkansas or someplace, and they let us kind of stretch and everybody came and said, "They don't look like what we thought they'd look like." [Laughs] You know. I remember that remark very much. Uh-huh. They thought we were just short little things.

KP: Somebody had been listening to the propaganda too much, I think.

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: So, in October, you arrived in Jerome?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: What was that like?

YM: Oh, it was awful because they didn't have the blocks ready for everybody. You know, they moved us before the mess hall was ready or everything. But we were lucky that we got in a block that was already done. Except I had to stay with my aunt and uncle. Because they didn't have two rooms and they said they'd move me as soon as my husband get there, but we, we waited a long time before we got our own apartment. But... they give you a lot of promises but they don't work right away.

KP: Were conditions better or worse in Jerome?

YM: It was... the room was better, you know, but they had such muddy-looking grounds that when it rained it was just miserable. You know, so muddy.

KP: And what else do you remember about Jerome? First impressions of Jerome?

YM: First expression of Jerome, I didn't like thunder shower. They had thunder shower almost every night. You know, lightening and... it was scary. I used to take Fred and go under the bed. They said, "That's stupid. That;s a steel bed." [Laughs] But it sounded like it was just gonna fall right on your head. That's how loud it was. And I wasn't used to that kind of weather. And they didn't have snow but they had sleet. That was worse.

KP: What was that like?

YM: It just hits you, you know, like little icicles. Uh-huh. It was really different from California weather.

KP: How was the food in Jerome?

YM: It was not too bad. Uh-huh.

KP: What else, what else do you remember? What was, what were some of the other difficulties of being in Arkansas?

YM: Well, like I said, I didn't work or anything. All I did was take care of Fred. So, you know... and we were there only 'til, just one year. We left in October again.

KP: How were the winters there?

YM: It was very cold.

KP: What kind of heat did you have in your barracks?

YM: Pot bellied stove that you burn the wood in.

KP: And where did the wood come from?

YM: They had to go out in the forest and cut down the wood.

KP: Who, who did that?

YM: The guys in the block. My husband, 'cause they had to go. When it was their turn to go, your block to go, he was out there chopping wood when Fred got sick and I said to the doctor, "Well, my husband's not home." He said, "You can't be worried about your husband being out there. You gotta take him to the hospital." So I had to take Fred to the hospital.

KP: And this was the hospital in the camp?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Stepping back to your husband, when he went to the hospital for his surgery, where was that? Was that in...

YM: Los Angeles General Hospital or some... I don't know. They took me out there one time but we couldn't see where we were going because they put us on these army trucks with canvas. Then you can't even see outside. You know, so all I know is they took us to the hospital and then they brought us back. Uh-huh.

KP: What, were there insects in Arkansas?

YM: Oh yeah, they had chiggers.

KP: What are those like?

YM: I didn't get it but I know some neighbors had chiggers and they were taking showers every half an hour.

KP: Were there mosquitoes there?

YM: I don't remember, not too much, I don't think.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KP: So did Toshio work in Jerome when he finally...

YM: Yeah, he was a truck driver for, for the warehouse when they delivered food to all different blocks. He used to be the truck driver.

KP: And did your uncle work as well?

YM: No, my uncle never worked. He was already in his almost sixties, so he never worked. My aunt worked at a nursery, I mean, some kind of gardens for a while but...

KP: So, outside of raising your son and the work that your family was doing in camp, was, did you do anything for fun in camp or...

YM: We didn't have much time to have fun. Because everybody around you is either working or they're older people. So, you know, that's where Fred learned how to talk Japanese. 'Cause all the... my aunt went around with all the older ladies and he just listened and he learned. He never spoke English 'til we came out of camp and he was four. But he spoke good Japanese.

RP: Can I interrupt here a second?

KP: Uh-huh.

RP: You showed us a photograph of Fred in a, a sumo "diaper."

YM: Uh-huh.

RP: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

YM: Well, my husband used to do sumo and his best friend's son was a little bit older than him. So they had this children's thing so they made this and they put him on the mound but he was so bashful he came off before he did anything.

KP: [Holds up a photo] So that's Fred?

YM: Uh-huh. He's gonna kill me. [Laughs]

RP: The other question was, who took the photographs that you have here, Yuki?

YM: This one was taken by somebody that loaned us a camera that took this picture. And, so I don't know who took it.

RP: Do you know if cameras were allowed at that time in the camp?

YM: Well, if a soldier brought it in then it was okay.

KP: So by that time you were having soldiers come back to visit their families?

YM: Yes. Some friends... so I don't know who. Anyway, we had one, I have one picture of Fred. I didn't bring it out here but it was taken by... it was the first picture that was taken with our camera. It was when my uncle, when he died, see, they came and took pictures of him. And this man that came with the people from the funeral parlor, he showed me all these little pictures and I says, "You mean to tell me all these little kids died?" You know, he said, "No. But we could take pictures for you." So we had picture taken of Fred. And I, and I forgot to take that one out so I don't have it, but that was the first professional picture. I mean that, it was not really, you know, they did that on the sly. So, they took pictures of the dead person and then they took pictures of people. They took advantage of us, that's what, what I... so they said you have to order a dozen. So I said to my aunt, I says, "You know, why don't we just order half a dozen and use the other half to buy something to eat instead?" And then he says, "No, you have to buy a dozen. You can't buy six." I said, "Okay." So I had a dozen of the picture. But even then, you know, these people. then even if you died you get cheated out of something.

KP: So what else, anything else stand out in your mind about Jerome? The time that you spent in Jerome?

YM: No. No, not too much about Jerome.

KP: Where did your, where did your parents go?

YM: They were in Manzanar with (my brother and sister-in-law).

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KP: So, in 1943 they sent around, they did the "loyalty oath."

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And what sort of discussions did your family there in Jerome have about that?

YM: Well, at first my husband felt that he should go to Japan because he had a stepmother living there and he says, as the only son he should look after his mother. So we signed up to go to Japan because of that. Then when my husband thought it over, he thought, "Why should I take a wife and two children to Japan that doesn't know anything about Japan?" And also he asked that he's gonna change his mind and we'll stay in America. And we were okay. So...

KP: But you originally both signed "no-no"?

YM: No, we didn't sign "no-no" I don't think. I think we just signed "no" on one and then we told them why. I forgot how it went.

KP: And your, your aunt and uncle didn't go to Tule Lake?

YM: Well my... they, the reason we went is because he wanted to go and we couldn't send him by himself, their self, 'cause he was an ill man. So then he died. We got there in October and he died in April. And then when he was in Arkansas, my father asked if he could to go to see him and they said he's not sick enough for somebody to come to see him. So when we went to Tule, it's closer. So my father asked again and they said he wasn't sick enough for him to visit. So then when he died, my brother and I, we said the same thing. They're not brothers but they're closer than brothers and so I said, we asked that at least they let him come to the funeral. So they allowed my mother and father to come from Manzanar to Tule Lake for the funeral.

KP: So your aunt and uncle and you and Toshio and two children now...

YM: Well, my daughter was born after my uncle had passed away.

KP: Okay. So that would have been in Tule Lake?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: So it was just the five of you then who went from Jerome to Tule Lake?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And that would be another train trip across the country?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Anything memorable about that trip?

YM: Oh it was horrible. 'Cause this time it's not a regular train. It's like a freight train like. And then the dining room was just a long table in one of the things. And it was horrible.

KP: Where did you ride?

YM: Huh?

KP: Where, what kind of car were you in?

YM: It was in a regular car but we just sat. You know, there's no place to sleep or anything. You had to sit with the kids. They weren't gonna take us on a luxury tour, you know, so, anyway, I, all I remember is when we crossed Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, everybody said, they said nothing sinks and a lot of people threw their paper plate out the window, and I remember that. [Laughs] See if it really does sink or not.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KP: So do you remember the month you arrived in Tule Lake?

YM: Yeah, it was October.

KP: You always seemed to get places in October.

YM: Yeah, it seemed like October.

KP: And was, what was Tule Lake like when you got there?

YM: It was, you know, it was like moving into a regular barrack that we were used to. So, it wasn't that bad, you know. But, my aunt and uncle, we got adjoining (room) and we cut a hole in it and we, so we could go into my aunt's and uncle's room whenever they needed help.

KP: And your uncle was quite sick at this time?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Was the food better at Tule Lake?

YM: It was...

KP: About the same?

YM: It was okay, I guess.

KP: What about, what about the weather?

YM: Tule Lake was really cold in the wintertime. We had a little bit of snow but not enough to really call it a snowstorm. But it was cold enough to make an ice rink. And so my, my husband was a block manager and we had a open space next to our barrack so they made a big ice rink. And they all skated out there. And I don't know whose ice skate he wore but he had an ice skate to skate with and he learned by pushing a chair.

KP: Well, when Tule... when you came to Tule Lake, it was a segregation center. And there was a lot of conflict still there.

YM: Yeah I know, there was a lot of people that was pro, what do you call it? Pro-Japanese, but we weren't involved in that. And our, our friends were mostly like us. They didn't belong to that group. We had a few friends that was really for Japan, just like my brother-in-law. But, it didn't bother us. We just did our own stuff and if they wanted to go, they go. So we had a couple of friends and his sister was determined to go back. So, she went to back and they were sorry that they went back. But, you know, they came back. They were allowed to come back, so I forgot what year they came back. In the '50s, I think.

KP: So your uncle passed away with, when, when? What time of year?

YM: April, April 4, '44. Four, four, four. Exactly two years from the day we went in camp he was taken in a coffin, two years later to the day.

KP: And your parents came up for the funeral?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: What, what kind of funeral was it?

YM: It was a... [Holds up a photo]

KP: Hold it out there for Richard can get it. Looks like there's quite a bit of a turnout?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And you said just around this, this time, your husband decided that it probably wasn't a good idea to go back to Japan?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And what did, when was your second child born?

YM: January 30, 1945. So she was thirteen months old when we left camp.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KP: And Toshio became a block manager?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: How did that come about?

YM: They chose him. These are the people that was block managers and whatever. [Holds up a photo]

KP: Can you point out Toshio in there?

YM: Uh-huh. Right there. [Points to photo.]

RP: I'm going to go in a little closer. Where is he?

KP: Could you point him out again?

YM: [Points to photo]

KP: Thank you.

YM: Here's a much better picture of him. [Looks at photo]

KP: Well some of the, I'm not sure what the time period was, but some of the block managers were hauled off and jailed. Was that before the time that you got there?

YM: I don't, I don't know of any manager being hauled out. But I've heard of anti, whatever, Japanese or whatever, they had a lot of problems. But we didn't know anybody that was a block manager that was taken like that. I don't think so.

KP: So, the, the job as block manager was a full-time job?

YM: Yeah. They got $16 a month.

KP: What kinds of things would he do as a block manager, do you remember?

Off camera voice: It was $19 isn't it?

YM: No, professionals were nineteen. Well, I guess he got nineteen, huh? I guess he got nineteen. So I think he got nineteen. And...

KP: So what kind of duties did he have?

YM: Well they had, the duty was the, every week or so they had block managers meeting and he comes back and reports whatever they talked about and then that was about it, you know.

KP: Discussing problems in the block or what the block needed or...

YM: Yeah, uh-huh. So, we didn't have hardly any incident in our block. We had pretty good peoples there. But they had a lot of single person in our block. One whole, they were from Hawaii, these people. They came from Heart Mountain and they were all young. Hawaiian boys were in one of our whole barracks. And they all like to play mahjong and my husband learned how to play mahjong. I learned how to play mahjong. We had a lot of fun.

KP: Did they sing?

YM: No. They played... we, my husband used to sing. He used to even sing for talent show. He sang even in Santa Anita. I used to just ignore it. I don't go, I don't like to hear him sing.

Off camera voice: He was pretty good.

YM: Yeah, no, he used to love to sing. And then he learned that shigin, you know, that... and I couldn't stand that.

KP: Why, what, what didn't you like about it?

YM: It's a, it's not like really singing. It's more like singing words. You know, not like a song. It's more, I don't know, he used to go do that. So, that teacher, he used to come to our house after the class and he'll sit and he'll drink and he'll eat squid sashimi and stayed 'til two o-clock or something and I would sometime wish he'd go home. [Laughs]

KP: And where was this?

YM: In Tule Lake.

KP: So, your husband took up shigin in Tule Lake? Did you take up any...

YM: No, no. I have no musical talent. I have no artistic talent. I... my husband, he, he loved to sing. He used to... so all my kids are musically talented. They both, the two girls play the piano and my, my granddaughter plays the flute. And so, you know, they're all musical, but not me. I don't think Fred does much musical either, but he's an artist. He's artist and my husband used to like to draw, too. He was an artist.

KP: Did he take any art classes when he was in Tule Lake, your husband?

YM: No, no. He was too busy being block manager or playing mahjong.

KP: Or singing shigin.

YM: Uh-huh. That was at nighttime.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KP: So how, how long were you at Tule Lake?

YM: We left in 1946, February. We went to New Jersey.

KP: And how did you make that choice to go to New Jersey?

YM: Well, we didn't know any place to go. You know, 'cause we didn't have a home to go back to. And my father was telling us, "Why don't you come out?" where they are. And I said, "How could we with two kids? It's impossible." So my husband was first gonna sign up with the railroad and then they came from Seabrook to recruit people to come to their frozen food factory. So, my husband says, "I think we should go." 'Cause they promised us a beautiful house and this and that and everything free and this and that. But, so we went. And when we got there we almost died because it wasn't what they told us.

KP: What did you get instead?

YM: Oh, we had to go in a barrack, not this one, but a different barrack. And there was three families and they put us in the middle. And you know how kids are, they, they're not real quiet. And we had a neighbor that first night we were there we were told, not verbally but by knocking on the walls, you know, so that means "shut up" or whatever. [Laughs] So, so we tried to get a room change. Well, we couldn't get it changed. But they shuffled us around in Seabrook. Three times, four times. So this is the third time, the one that I showed you, the barrack of.

KP: Uh-huh.

YM: And then after that they took us to, like a, a row house made out of what you call cinder blocks.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KP: Right, we were... this is tape two of a continuing interview. And you were just talking about being in Seabrook and being shuffled around to different houses. And then you said you finally got into a cinder block home?

YM: Yes, a cinder block row house. And then we were, you know, they had bungalows, little separate buildings. So we wanted to move into one of them. And so we were waiting for a vacancy and when they told us, when they told my husband we could move it was such a busy season, at that time, so he said we can't move right now. 'Cause we can't, we don't have time to buy furniture or anything. So they start building two more rows of bungalows. And so my husband says, "You want to pay Seabrook rent or you want to buy a house?" And I thought, oh my gosh, buy a house? I don't know. Then I thought, well, I'll go with him and we'll buy a house. So, so we moved out of Seabrook in six years and we moved to our own house.

KP: And where was that house?

YM: It was in Bridgeton, New Jersey. And then it was on the other side of town. And, and then it was a house that we not really happy with, but that was the only empty house that our real estate person could find us so we moved then. And then in 1967 we built another house and we moved closer to the company, called, we lived in Carls Corner. And then from there we moved here, so... (Narr. note: In August 1953, Arlene was born in Bridgeton.)

KP: So what was, what was Seabrook like compared to being in camp? You're out of camp for the first time and...

YM: Yeah.

KP: And you are living in a bungalow again. What were... but your neighbors were different. What kind of neighbors, what kind of people were you...

YM: Oh, there was all kinds of people. You know, American people, you know, there was Germans and Estonians, and all kinds of people. It was a League of Nation. It was. After that, Japanese came from camp, then they had people come from the south and from Florida. Then when they ran out of that they start hiring people from Europe. The first foreigners that came was Estonians. And then they had from Germany, they had from, see, I forgot, there's so many different people came from this. But the Estonians were the first.

KP: What kind of people from Florida came?

YM: They're day workers or whatever, you know. They had a... before, before people came from camps and things, they had a lot of people working there from Jamaica. And then they had a lot of people working from, students from colleges down south and things like that. So when we first went there, the college people were living in that barrack I showed you. So they sent us to a little prison camp they had in Parvin Park and we lived there 'til the people went back to college. Then they opened the barracks and that's when we moved into that barrack I showed you. So we lived in two different barracks and we lived in Parvin Park in a little sixteen by sixteen.

KP: So a lotta different languages.

YM: Uh-huh. Yeah, we had...

KP: What was, what was that like after?

YM: It was fun. I mean it was, they were, everybody got along, even if they were from different companies, countries. So we got to be friends with Pollacks, we called them Pollacks. And I think my boss was from, I forgot where he was from. He was from a country in Europe. The last job I had, my last job was a timekeeper. And, and my boss was from, I think he was from Poland, I think.

KP: So you, you spent... your husband worked at Seabrook.

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Did you work there also when you first got there?

YM: Uh-huh. I worked there for thirty years.

KP: Who watched the kids, or...

YM: We worked night and day shift and a night shift. We worked on alternate shift so we could take care of the kids. And I never dreamed that I could work at night. [Laughs.]

KP: So was there... it sounds like there was no time for any recreation activity, if you're never together.

YM: Well, we had the winter off. I didn't work in the winter. I was a seasonal worker. And he didn't, he worked seasonal at times. And he was supervisor so he had to work longer than I did. So he became a freezer supervisor, where all the stuff were frozen.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KP: So what, what kind of, what kind of recreation did you do after the war when you were in Seabrook? Did you get a chance to go out to any movies? Did you...

YM: Oh yeah, we went to movies and we played mahjong a lot. We played a Japanese card game. And we had fun.

KP: Were there any kind of, like, picnics that people got together for or, I mean, are you celebrating still New Year's?

YM: Oh, yeah.

KP: Stuff like that? With the Japanese people there?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: Did you primarily hang out with the Japanese people or did you expand your circle of friends there?

YM: Well, I think primarily Japanese people. But I got to be a real good friend with my neighbor. She's, she's from West Virginia. And we'd been neighbors. We're still talking to each other. Anytime I go back to New Jersey I still visit her and I call her on the phone sometime. We, and we found out we have birthdays on the same day. So, so I've been friends with Darla for a long time.

KP: I've got a question. After your uncle died, what, what did your aunt do?

YM: She lived with us.

KP: Did she?

YM: And then she, yeah, she left camp before we did. And she went to work in an American home. And then she went to live with her brother, and then she passed away. She passed away pretty early. I went in, in 1948, we came out to California and we went to visit my aunt and she was supposed to come to live with me. Then her brother talked her out of it. And so I didn't get to see her anymore. Then she passed away about two years later or something like that, so...

KP: And your, your parents, they left the camp and came back to California?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: And where did they settle?

YM: They were in, where is it first?

Off camera voice: We were in San Fernando.

YM: San Fernando.

KP: Okay.

Off camera voice: Then we came here.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KP: So when you look back on your life as a, a journey, what part does the relocation take? I mean if, if you try to look back on that? How did that change your life or, what do you...

YM: Not... it didn't change my life that much because we didn't own any property or work for people. So it was just the same. And then I didn't work since 1975 anyway. That's when I retired.

KP: And you finally returned to California down here?

YM: Uh-huh.

KP: San Diego, in what year?

YM: '94.

KP: So in 1988, there was the redress movement and soon after that the letter and the checks came out. What did you think about that?

YM: I just said thank you. [Laughs] I didn't think about anything else. I thought, well, if they want to give it to us, okay.

KP: There was also recognition that what had happened to people of Japanese ancestry was illegal and not in the best interest to the people of this country. So did you have any feelings about that?

YM: I don't know. I know some people thought that we shouldn't get that, but I mean I... for what we lost, that was nothing. 'Cause we lost our home and everything. We had nothing. We just had the two suitcases that we got out of camp.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KP: Richard, do you have any questions you want to...

RP: Yeah, Yuki, going back to Tule Lake, did your husband have an office as a block manager?

YM: Uh-huh.

RP: Was that in your barrack or...

YM: Yes. End of our barrack. We lived in the room next door to the office.

RP: Now did he also have a secretary or anybody else who supported his work?

YM: Yeah, I had to help him. [Laughs] He's not home sometimes, I have to answer the phone and things like that. Go find him.

KP: Was that the one phone in the block, was in that block manager's office?

YM: Uh-huh.

RP: Do you remember if he was required to fill out reports every day or at certain times?

YM: I don't know. But I know they had block managers meeting and they used to go all the time. I don't know if it was once a week or... I forgot. Then whatever they discussed at the meeting he would come back and report at our mess hall. That's where he gave all the speeches, at the mess hall.

RP: While at Tule Lake do you remember hearing about a group called the Hoshidan?

YM: Uh-huh.

RP: What do you remember?

YM: Well, they're the ones that had these little things wrapped around their head and they used to march and, and make a lot of ruckus. We didn't even know what it was all about.

RP: Was there ever any pressure put on your husband by pro-Japanese elements in the camp to renounce his citizenship?

YM: No. Only his brother-in-law was so into that other group that we just left him alone. We don't even talk to them about it. 'Cause it's none of our business. Well he tried to persuade his sister not to go to Japan but she said, she said he was working for the American government and not thinking about them. So, he says well, he said, "You should think because you have all these children. You're gonna be sorry." But she said, "I made up my mind. I'm leaving." So, so we just let her do it. But they came back.

KP: And have you, have you talked to your children about camp?

YM: Yeah.

KP: And grandchildren?

YM: They ask a lot of questions. We tell 'em whatever happened. We don't keep it a secret.

KP: Anything else? All right, well thank you very much, Yuki, for sharing your stories with us.

YM: Oh, you're welcome.

KP: And on behalf of myself and Richard and the National Park Service I want to thank you.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.