Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Dorothy Kuwaye Interview
Narrator: Dorothy Kuwaye
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 13, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-kdorothy-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history interview for the Manzanar National Historic Site. And today we're talking with Dorothy Tamaki Kuwaye. And the interview's taking place at her sister's residence, Sachi's residence. I believe it's, can you give us the address of, the address of where we are?

Off Camera: Sure. 3939 Marleton Avenue.

RP: Okay. And this is in Los Angeles, California. The date of the interview is May 13, 2009. Interviewer is Richard Potashin and the videographer for our interview is Kirk Peterson. And we'll be talking with Dorothy about her experiences at the Heart Mountain relocation center as well as her experiences before and after camp. Our interview will be archived in the park's library, and Dorothy, do I have permission to go ahead and record our interview?

DK: Yes you do.

RP: And, can I refer to you as Dorothy?

DK: Yes, of course.

RP: Okay. Thank you very much for spending time sharing some of your --

DK: Oh, thank you.

RP: -- very important stories. Let's start with a little biographical information about yourself. First of all, can you tell us where you were born and what year?

DK: In Covina, California, 1928.

RP: Okay. And can you give us your given name at birth?

DK: Dorothy Tamaki.

RP: Tamaki. And where did you get the name Dorothy?

DK: From my sister, Sachi. Because Dorothy Lamour was very popular at that time, so they decided to give me that name. And I never did have a Japanese name, which is unusual.

RP: And, Dorothy, do you recall later on, do know whether you were born at home or at a hospital?

DK: Gee, I don't know. Was I born at home?

Off Camera: Yeah. You were born at home.

DK: I was born at home.

Off Camera: I was the only one that was born at the hospital.

DK: Oh, okay. So, I was born at home.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: And tell us about, I'd like to get a little bit of family background about your parents. First of all, can you share with us their names and maybe where they came from in Japan?

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: And what you know about the family maybe through conversations with your mom and dad in Japan.

DK: I think maybe you can get that better from Sachi because I know their names but I don't know too much background.

RP: Uh-huh. Give us their names.

DK: Kamihachi --

RP: Uh-huh.

DK: -- is my father's name. And Hana, H-A-N-A, is my mother's name.

RP: And do know where in Japan they came from?

DK: Okinawa.

RP: Okinawa?

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: Both of them.

DK: Uh-huh, yes.

RP: From the same village?

DK: No, different villages.

RP: Probably not too far away.

DK: One was Naha and the other was Nago, Nago.

RP: Can you spell those for us?

DK: N-A-H-A and N-A-G-O.

RP: Okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Now, you were roughly about eighteen months old when, when you had a, when you were...

DK: Run over. I was run over, yeah, at eighteen months old.

RP: Uh-huh.

DK: And, I guess they were, I was taken to Covina hospital for care. And Sachi was the only one who was old enough to speak. Maybe she was only ten.

Off Camera: Nine, yeah.

DK: Ten... no, you were a little older than that I guess.


DK: Let's see, where were we?

RP: Dorothy, you were sharing with us some of...

DK: Oh yeah, I was run over when I was eighteen months. And the Lanfears used to come and buy produce from my parents. They had a roadside stand and they would see me and I wasn't able to walk. I was just crawling around on the ground most of the time I guess. And so she, Mrs. Lanfear took pity on me and they asked if they could take, they asked my parents if they could take me to the orthopedic hospital in Los Angeles. And they, parents agreed to that. So she took, took me there and then they decided that I needed some surgeries on my hips and that's what, and then I guess the doctor had said that there were too many kids running around, that I wouldn't get the rest that I needed at home. So Mrs. Lanfear decided that she would take me. And they took me into their home and raised me as, as their own practically.

Off Camera: You, you were in a full-body cast too. So...

DK: Well, not, not full-body. From the waist down, all the way to my toes and so on. But, that, that was the first of, I guess, three or four surgeries that I had on my hips. That, she took care of me all this time. And of course Mr. Lanfear did all the lifting and so on. And even as I got bigger and heavier he was able to -- he was a big man -- so he was able to transport me around and this and that. So, they really took good care of me.

RP: Who paid for the surgeries?

DK: Well, I guess it was on welfare, but I don't know. I don't think they, they did. They took care of my everyday needs but it was on Medi-Cal huh? Whatever was Medi-Cal?

RP: Whatever it was at the time.

Off Camera: I don't think they had Medi-Cal at the time.

DK: Well, they had something though that...

Off Camera: Yeah, some kind of social service.

DK: Yeah.

RP: Some type of assistance.

DK: Yeah. Right, right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Tell us a little bit more about the Lanfears.

DK: Well, he was, as I was saying, he was a big strapping rancher, and he used to be out in the orchard many hours a day and night. When it would get cold he'd have to put out the smudge pots, I remember that, and light the smudge pots and, he worked very, very hard. And hardly made a living I think on, on the oranges. But, they just made it, made a go of it. And the two boys, Glenn and Clarence, were in college. They were going to college. And they treated me like a little sister. They called me, they nicknamed me Dukie. So I was always Dukie to them. And up until the time that they passed away I was still Dukie. Yeah, the referred to me as Dukie. But, that was because they, they felt I was being treated like a Duke, I guess, I don't know. [Laughs] But, anyway, that was... and of course Annie, Mrs. Lanfear, was from Sweden. She had been here since she was a teenager I guess. And I think she was married to Mr. Lanfear for years and years and years. And they finally, well, he passed away in 1945 and I was in New York at that time so I was able to, I took the train all by myself to California and it just so happened on the way back from, the, after the funeral, it was V-J Day. Did you know I was on the train on V-J day?

Off Camera: I don't remember.

DK: Yeah. Yeah, so that was quite exciting. And there were all these soldiers on the train and everything and I was kind of scared 'cause I was what, thirteen, fourteen. Somethin' like that, anyway. But, anyway, he passed away in '45 and then Annie passed away about, she was in the 1980s huh?

Off Camera: Right.

DK: Yeah, she was close to a hundred, I think, when she passed away. But, she was, she was a hard working woman and just lovable. Everybody loved Annie and what else can I say? They were just a great family.

RP: Yeah, right. If you have any other memories about growing on that farm.

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: Earlier memories of...

DK: Yeah, I just remember that I was in this cast and I had to be turned over every once in a while so I wouldn't get bedsores. And they had a front porch that was screened in and I -- on the second floor -- and I used to be out there all the time in the, during the day most of the time. Let's see...

RP: How long, how much time did you actually spend in bed with the cast and how long was it before you could actually get up and move around?

DK: Well, in between I was up, I was able to walk after they take the cast off. I had home-schooling. Not home-schooling, but what do you call it, teachers coming to the home.

Off Camera: Tutoring.

DK: Yeah, home tutoring, during the times that I was in the cast. My last surgery was in 1941. Just after, just before the war started. And that's why I... when they started the evacuation I was, I wasn't at home. I was living at Rancho Los Amigos. I don't know if you know where that is, but it's in Downey. It was a rehabilitation place. And so I was there, I guess, for a couple of months maybe. And then they got ready to move people from the relocation centers. Not relocation, what where they?

RP: Assembly centers?

DK: Yeah, assembly centers, to the relocation centers. So they, they figured I guess that I was ready to go. So, I was on crutches but I still had to, they took, they took me and another Japanese girl from the center to Pomona just about three days before we went to Heart Mountain. So when Annie and Ari, the Lanfears, found out that I was, that I had been taken to camp... they didn't know that I was, they were gonna take me. Because she was trying to, she was trying all different angles to keep me here but they, they, excuse me, they took me to camp and this was the first time that I had actually been with my biological parents in ten years or so I guess it was, huh. And then they came to the camp. They came to Pomona because they lived here in, in Covina. And 'course, it was very traumatic because they knew that I was leaving and there was nothing they could do and I knew it and there was nothing I could do. So, they came to the camp and we had our goodbyes and that was, then we went on the train to Heart Mountain. And after we got there it was so, so different and it was just, it was very hard. I know I cried a lot of nights to sleep. And there were letters... of course, Mrs. Lanfear was not a letter writer. She could not write letters so I was doing all the writing practically and telling her what I was doing, this and that. And, but I finally got settled in so... and then we're... it was just my two brothers and my parents and myself at the beginning, and then Sachi came later on. So that, that helped me too because I had nobody to talk to. I mean, you know, my brothers were eleven and fifteen or something like that and they weren't much help to me, huh. But my, my older brother did. He used to take me to the mess hall and things like that. But I had no friends. I didn't know any, any people at, in camp hardly at all. And...

RP: Earlier you were, you were sharing the fact that you really thought you were white and...

DK: Well, yeah, uh-huh, I guess I did. Because I just, nobody ever said that anything to me until later. But, as a little kid I didn't, I didn't realize that I was different.

RP: You maintained some connection with your biological family during the time that you were with the Lanfears?

DK: Yes. They, they wanted me to make sure that I would know my family so they used to take me about every week to see them. And we'd, my folks grew vegetables and things like that so they would always go home with a carload of, of vegetables. So that...

RP: What was that like for you to, to meet, be with your...

DK: I was always ready to go home. I always said, "Let's go home." And, I didn't realize that that was my home. But, I know I used to, I liked to play with my little brother, Paul, when he was little, and, but we used to fight, 'cause we were both spoiled I think. And yes, I was spoiled as a kid. 'Cause I used to get my way all the time.

RP: And the Lanfears lived how far away from, from your...

DK: Maybe about five miles. Yeah, five miles or so. It wasn't far.

RP: In talking about being aware of your ethnicity and that type of thing, school kind of gave you a little bit of awareness of that too. Can you talk about that?

DK: Right, yeah, yeah, yes. Yes, I felt a little different in school. 'Cause I was the only Asian or I would say, the only "off-colored person" in the school most of the years that I was there.

RP: Where did you go to school?

DK: It was called Lark Ellen.

RP: Lark Ellen?

DK: Uh-huh, grammar school.

RP: And that was in Covina?

DK: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: Did you walk to school or did you get transportation?

DK: No, no. I think that they had school bus, a bus that used to come pick me up. And I think maybe he dropped me, Ari used to drop me off, too, at school sometimes.

RP: And what were your, do you remember some of your early interests in school? Did you gravitate towards arts or anything in particular growing up?

DK: I don't remember. I just remember that I wanted to be accepted, you know, by everybody. And I had one, one good friend that used to, well, yeah, she used to take the bus with me and they lived, they lived close to where my folks lived. And I used to get off all the time with her and then Ari would have to come and pick me up. He wasn't very happy about that. Muro Lavady. Uh-huh, yeah. And so, I had, but I didn't have a lot of close friends in school.

RP: You mentioned that a difficult situation was revolving around some of these school dances?

DK: Yeah, yeah. They weren't exactly school dances. They were teaching us how to dance and everybody else would be dancing and I would be the only one sitting, you know, by myself, for, unless the teacher would tell one of the boys to come and dance with me. So, that was kind of, it hurt. And I --

RP: Did you find yourself...

DK: -- and I remember that.

RP: Did you find yourself trying even harder to be accepted then...

DK: Yeah, well, maybe I just kind of went into a little shell on my own. I don't know. I just, I just kind of... then when I went to camp, I didn't know anybody except... so that was really hard on me.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: And you're, you're in a camp with 10,000 Japanese people.

DK: Yeah.

RP: And...

DK: Right, right.

RP: And what a, what was that like? I mean, what a shock that was?

DK: Well, it was, it was a shock, but I mean, just going to the bathroom or something like that and these ladies would start talking to me in Japanese and I couldn't answer them. I didn't know what they were talking about. And, course they thought I was, I guess, being stuck up or, maybe not paying any attention or not wanting to talk to them or something. I don't know, but I felt real bad 'cause every place I went everybody was talking Japanese, I mean, the older people were. Of course, all the young kids were speaking English. But, it was, it was, that part I think was the, one of the hardest parts. Was getting to, and to be able to communicate with my own parents was hard.

RP: Did they speak any English?

DK: My mom used to speak. She would understand quite a bit. And, but not where I could talk to her on a, I don't know what you would say, on a real close relationship. We didn't have that.

Off Camera: I think you learned from each other. I mean, because they, they were alone so much together that they were forced to... Mom was, began to learn more English.

DK: Uh-huh.

Off Camera: Dorothy, although she never spoke it, began to understand Japanese.

DK: Yeah, I could understand a little bit more, yeah. But it was, it was a hard time for me. For everybody.

RP: The transition to a new family...

DK: Uh-huh, right.

RP: Your original family must have taken a little...

DK: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: Did you ever develop a sense of closeness with your, with your parents?

DK: Uh, yes, oh yes. I think after several years and after we went to New York. We became much closer. And after Sachi came, of course. That helped, too.

RP: Now you, how old were you when you went to Heart Mountain?

DK: About twelve.

RP: Twelve years old?

DK: Uh-huh. Yeah.

RP: So, still, it was sort of junior high school age, getting close to it.

DK: Yeah, right, right. Uh-huh, yeah, yeah. I had just started, I think I just started... oh, I did graduate. Did I graduate Lark Ellen?

Off Camera: No, you went to public school in New York.

DK: No, I went to high school.

Off Camera: Yeah. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

DK: Julia Richmond, yeah, yeah. Let's see, did... I graduated grammar school, that was it. 'Cause we went up to the eighth grade and then we started high school. Yeah. So I had graduated from grammar school and started high school in camp. Which was another...

RP: Traumatic?

DK: Yeah.

RP: In what way?

DK: Well, I wasn't a very good student. And, so it, it was hard on me because I couldn't keep up with the, with everybody else, I think. And, it was, it was, again, hard.

RP: Just to back track a little bit, you had a, a surgery in 1941.

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: Was it December did you say, 1941?

DK: Yeah. Right, right. I think it was just, it was before, just before the war started.

RP: And then you rehabbed a little while --

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: -- and then you find yourself at Pomona.

DK: Right, right.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Did you, did you need any additional attention or care and did you receive that at Heart Mountain?

DK: No. No, I didn't have any further care in Heart Mountain. I did start working as a nurse's aide after school which, which helped, which was a short period of time. And that, that kind of helped me too. But I didn't have any further surgery until after I got married, I guess.

RP: How about social life in Heart Mountain? What did...

DK: Oh, I didn't have any social life in Heart Mountain, come to think of it. No, the only thing we did was... uh, I, we, we had a little girls group in, in our... I know there was an upper and lower Block 20. And we were the upper Block 20. And kind, it was kind of a little pettiness between the girls from the lower block and the upper block. That was it. But, I don't remember having, I don't even remember what we did. I just remember that there were a group of us, about seven of us I think. And...

RP: Was, do you recall any, do you have any memories about the landscape around the camp? Anything in particular that...

DK: I just remember it was very dirty and dusty when we got there. And hot. And, I remember seeing this Heart Mountain was beautiful. I thought it was very, very pretty. But I couldn't remember that much about camp. I remember being very cold walking to school. And we had these, these GI peacoats that they had issued us. But those were even not that warm in that cold weather. It was twenty below a couple of times I remember going to school. That was really cold. And... let's see.

RP: Another popular topic of camp always comes up is the food in the mess halls.

DK: The what?

RP: The food in the mess halls?

DK: Oh yeah, yeah. That was, it wasn't the best. But it was edible. So, yeah, I remember the first couple of times going to the mess hall, I didn't know what to expect. And so my brother, my older brother who was two years older, took me to the mess hall and he went with me a couple, a few times so I got used to it, huh. But it was just, just one table and everyone, people, like picnic-style. That we all, that, that's what I remember anyway. And waiting in line for your food, which wasn't that good. But that's about... I don't remember too much about camp life. That's the thing. I just remember it was hard.

RP: Having, not being really connected with your Japanese --

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: -- "Japaneseness," did, did that, or was there a void there that you wanted to fill? A curiosity or a longing to know more about, about the culture, about...

DK: No, not really. I don't know. I just wasn't thinking at that time. I just, 'cause there's so much that I've, I can't remember.

RP: Uh-huh.

DK: I think I blocked out a lot of it.

RP: You're an American kid, too.

DK: Yeah. Right.

RP: So you started high school in Heart Mountain.

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: What do you remember about that?

DK: I don't remember much about that either. Then when I went out to New York, then I started high school again. 'Cause I don't think I went... did I go a year? I don't think I went a year. Maybe I went six months to Heart Mountain. See, these, these kind of things I don't remember. It's just terrible.

RP: Was your, this is a, this is a difficult time for you in a lot of ways. Was there any, a particular person or something in the camp that kind of kept your spirits going or gave you some, a little bit of reassurance?

DK: Well, I think maybe my brother George really helped me a lot. He's the one who is two years older. I think he kind of felt my needs and he tried to help me as much as he could. But, you know, a kid at fifteen is, is gonna be trying to have some fun himself so he couldn't pay much attention to me.

RP: Uh-huh.

DK: And, but, yeah.

RP: Did you have any connection with a, a religious organization in camp?

DK: No, not in camp at all.

RP: How about with the Lanfears?

DK: Periodically we went to church. Not regularly. She used to send me with the neighbors sometimes, but not, not real church-goers.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: And can you tell us a little bit about the circumstances of how you ended up in New York from Heart Mountain?

DK: Uh-huh. Okay, well, I think I told you that my sister, Mary, who was living in New York, came to camp to visit. And she found that my brother and I, Paul, were under sixteen so we could, she could take us out without any red tape or anything. So that's what she did. She took us out from camp to New York. And Sachi and my other sister Aki were also there. Sachi had gone from, from camp earlier. But Mary and, and Aki had gone prior to the evacuation. They went to New York to be with, with my uncle who was, who was living there. And, so, as I said, we were all living, five of us, in a one bedroom apartment, sleeping here and there and everywhere. [Laughs] And I started school, high school there too, Julia Richmond.

RP: You go from Heart Mountain to New York City...

DK: Right, right.

RP: How did New York City hit you when you first...

DK: Oh, it was exciting, 'cause something different and all these people and it didn't seem to matter to, to them that you were Japanese. Everybody was Chinese to them, it seemed like, huh? Going into school, nobody, there, there didn't seem to be that much discrimination in New York that you felt here in, in California. 'Cause everybody was different there. So, yeah. So, I enjoyed New York. And being the age I was, I was able to get around and do a lot of things. So...

RP: Where, where did you go? Where are some of the places you went?

DK: Well, I started going to church there, too. And, oh, we used to go see movies a lot and stage plays and...

Off Camera: Perry Como.

DK: Oh yeah, Perry Como was my favorite so we used to go to Perry Como show. He was on every other night, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, this, these other two girls and I used to go every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see him. And, we became real big fans of his. Yeah.

RP: How about any, any movie stars or anybody that you sort of glommed onto?

DK: No. No, nothing...

RP: Nothing like that?

DK: Yeah, it was like all the singers at that time, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby and 'course, Perry. What else did we do? We used to do, we were always busy in New York. There was always something to do in New York, huh?

RP: Did you go with your sisters too?

DK: No. They were older than me so they had their own...

RP: Their own life?

DK: Yeah, their own life, uh-huh, yeah.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: How about your uncle? He had established himself...

DK: He had a business, yeah, he had a business. He went to New York in...

Off Camera: 1927.

DK: 1927? Yeah, okay.

RP: Was it an import-export business?

DK: Yes.

Off Camera: Yes, uh-huh. Yeah, initially. But during the war he had trouble, yeah...

RP: Not too much...

Off Camera: Yeah, no ships were, were...

RP: Not too much being an importer.

Off Camera: So he went into domestic, a gift shop. A gift shop, so...

DK: Yeah. So, he was well-established there.

RP: Did he help you find the apartment or that was already existing?

DK: Or, Aki and, and Mary had the apartment, huh? When you went.

RP: Okay.

DK: And then, that was the same apartment when we went, too, so. And then he, did he buy the rooming house?

Off Camera: No. He leased it.

DK: Okay, he leased it.

Off Camera: Rooming house.

DK: Rooming house. So that my mother took care of the, took care of all the cleaning and everything. And we rented out rooms to people coming out of camps.

Off Camera: Yeah.

DK: After...

RP: Like a hostel.

Off Camera: Yeah, like a hostel.

DK: Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah.

RP: Oh.

DK: So that was, that's when I was going to high school too.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: And when did your parents come out of Heart Mountain?

DK: Oh, yeah, they came out about a year after we did. Yeah, I think so, yeah. So, of course, we couldn't all live in the same apartment so he found us this rooming house that he leased and there were four floors and so I guess, I guess he had it in mind that we could accommodate the people coming from camp, too, so that's what happened. We had about four, five, six, maybe about eight people there?

Off Camera: Six. Oh, maybe yeah, uh-huh.

DK: Yeah.

RP: Eight people in the rooming house?

DK: Yeah, from camps.

RP: Did you have any, any, was there any jobs that you had involved with the rooming house? Did you have any...

DK: No, jobs? No, no, no. No, after I graduated from high school then I started working at the telephone company. And I worked there about a year before I went to, moved to Hawaii. But...

RP: Was there any type of an established Japanese American community in New York the time that you were...

DK: Oh yeah, I think so, yeah.

RP: What was it? I mean, what did the community revolve around?

Off Camera: Well, our experience was with the church. 'Cause a lot of the ex-internees would go to church to, to meet people and just mainly... but they, they did have a, athletic groups, uh...

DK: Oh yeah, Church of All Nations, uh-huh.

Off Camera: Church of All Nations, uh-huh. But that's also church related.

RP: When you say church, are you talking about a specific denomination?

DK: No.

Off Camera: No.

RP: Church of All Nations?

DK: Yeah.

RP: Anybody.

DK: Right. Right.

RP: So did you...

DK: But there were, there were a lot of Japanese in there.

RP: Did you have other groups as well?

Off Camera: Yes. Right.

RP: Other ethnicities? Who? Who else was, who else was in it?

DK: I don't... well in, in their group there was just, just the Japanese.

Off Camera: There were a couple of Japanese Americans too.

DK: Yeah.

Off Camera: In the Church of All Nations.

DK: But the Church of All Nations was, they had their headquarters downtown or something?

Off Camera: Yes, downtown. Uh-huh.

DK: Yeah. But we didn't know the other people.

RP: So the church was a big part of the community. Did you have any Japanese oriented stores in the area or...

Off Camera: Not that I know of. You mean where they taught Japanese?

RP: No. Merchants, selling Japanese foods or...

Off Camera: Oh, oh yes. There were stores. Not, not many. But there was, there was one near Columbia University I remember where they carried Japanese goods, groceries. Uh-huh.

DK: Well, Kuni's folks too. Huh? They had their own business there.

Off Camera: Yeah. Our, our sister-in-law, her parents had a gift shop. So...

DK: And then there was that Japanese store by Emi Kujo's place.

Off Camera: Uh-huh.

DK: I forgot the name. But, anyway, yeah, there were stores.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: So you mentioned, you felt a lot less prejudice in New York.

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: Can you, maybe offer me a few thoughts about why?

DK: Well, you were just, just another person. People don't --

Off Camera: Yeah, New York has such a polyglot population anyway that, we didn't stand out.

DK: Yeah, they didn't seem to realize that...

RP: There's so many people, too.

DK: Yeah.

Off Camera: That's right, uh-huh.

RP: How did your academic, academics work in, in high school? Did you get a little more interested in school? Were you involved in any clubs or activities?

DK: No, not really. Not... I just went to school every day.

RP: Uh-huh.

DK: And...

RP: How about your, what was your feeling about your ethnicity, too? Were you feeling a little more comfortable with that or was it still kind of strange given your upbringing?

DK: Yeah. You mean in New York?

RP: In New York.

DK: Yeah. I did feel different. I did feel different after. Even with, with the Japanese American people that I was in contact with, I felt different. Because, maybe I, they would use some Japanese phrases that I wasn't familiar with and I, they would be laughing and I wouldn't know what they were laughing about. Things like that. But, otherwise, it wasn't that, it wasn't that bad for me.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Tell us why you ended up in Hawaii, Dorothy?

DK: Oh, my folks decided that... my, my other sister went. She was married to a 100th Battalion person and...

RP: Would that have been Mary?

DK: No, Aki.

RP: Aki.

DK: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: Okay.

DK: And, she was living in Hawaii. So my folks decided that they would, they wanted to try it over there. 'Cause they didn't care for New York. So I went with them, thinking that I was gonna help them adjust. But they didn't like it there. And then I met my husband over there, so I stayed. And I raised my son, well, I didn't raise him over there, but until he was about five then we came back here. But I met my husband in Hawaii.

RP: Uh-huh. And was he Japanese American?

DK: Uh-huh. Yeah.

RP: He had a camp experience or...

DK: No.

RP: He lived in Hawaii.

DK: He lived in Hawaii. So, they weren't, they didn't know anything about camps, hardly. They, they knew that we had been put in camps, but they didn't realize what kind of life we had in camp. They, it seems so funny because they were so much closer to Japan than we were and yet they were just running around free. And we were in camp. But that, that's how I got there.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: And then you came back to California. Did you settle in Covina?

DK: No, we settled in Los Angeles. And, yeah, we came back in about, when was it? 1955 I guess it was. Yeah, and been here ever since. My husband passed away in '93.

RP: And did you continue your education or pursue a career or just raising your...

DK: Oh, I worked in Los Angeles for a Dr. Wagner for thirty-six years. Soon as we came back I got a job with him and I stayed with him for thirty-eight, thirty-six years. Then he, he retired. We both retired at the same time. And then he passed away a few years ago.

RP: What did you do for him?

DK: A medical assistant.

RP: Medical assistant?

DK: Yeah.

RP: And, did he have a specialty or...

DK: No, he was general practice, uh-huh. So we had, I had thirty-six good years with him. It was real, very nice working with him.

RP: You mentioned that, that Mr. Lanfear passed away in 1945 and you made this special trip --

DK: Uh-huh, right.

RP: -- from New York to come visit to the funeral.

DK: Right, right, right.

RP: What was that like?

DK: I didn't make it for the taxes because... what was it? I was... some reason. I couldn't make it for the funeral, but I did come right after it. So I thought maybe I could be a little comfort to Annie and so, yeah that was, it was a scary experience. Just coming on the boat, on the plane -- on the train.

RP: You said there was soldiers...

DK: Oh yeah, there were a lot of soldiers. Everybody was, I don't think there were any civilians on that train at all, it seemed like. But they didn't, they were all cordial. And they didn't bother me.

RP: You heard the news about V-J Day on the train?

DK: Yeah, yeah.

RP: What happened?

DK: Well, of course, every, everybody was all excited on the train. And, I kind of stayed by myself and tried to be invisible. But, yeah, I was, of course, I was happy. On V-E Day I remember going down to Times Square and being in Times Square on V-E Day. 'Cause this other girl and I were supposed to, we ditched school. And, we were down in, in Times Square. So, that was exciting too. And this girl that we, that I ditched with, we're still in touch. We see each other. I mean, not see each other, but we correspond all the time. She's in Florida now.

RP: What was the atmosphere like in Times Square?

DK: Oh, it was wild. [Laughs] But I always remember that.

RP: So you hadn't seen the Lanfears for, what, three years or so when you came back after the funeral.

DK: Right, right. From the time we went to Heart, Heart Mountain to the funeral, yeah. And then she moved up to Modesto, so I hardly got to see her after that. We, my son took, took me up there one year and we visited with her. But...

RP: [Looking at a photograph] Oh, she looks Swedish all right.

DK: Yeah.

RP: And that's you.

DK: Yeah.

RP: Wow. He is a tall man.

DK: Yeah. He was big. He was not only tall, he was broad, too.

RP: Yeah.

Off Camera: He was six-two, yeah.

RP: Six foot, two.

DK: Yeah, but he was very gentle.

Off Camera: Uh-huh. Gentle giant, we call him.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Do you still have contact with the Lanfear family?

DK: With the, with her grandson who is in New Mexico now. But just occasionally he'll call or I'll call him.

RP: What, you said that the boys were going to college --

DK: Uh-huh.

RP: -- before the war, about the time that you were actually taken in by the family.

DK: Right, right, uh-huh.

RP: Did they, did they go into the military during the war? Do you know what happened to them?

DK: No. They didn't go in, huh? I don't know...

Off Camera: They're, they're past the, the age limit I think, right?

DK: No, they wouldn't have been under in the war huh? Because that was, they were both married. I don't know why. They, I don't think they did go into the service at all.

RP: Were you able to keep in touch with them a little bit?

DK: Yeah, oh, yeah. Not, not frequent, but every once in a while, yeah.

RP: They visited you at Pomona and you said you had some correspondence with them from Heart Mountain. Did you --

DK: Not the boys.

RP: The, the...

DK: The Lanfears, yeah, yeah. Uh-huh, yeah.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KP: Can I ask a question about the visit at Pomona? What were the circumstances of the physical... I mean, we've heard about people talking through fences and that sort of thing.

DK: Yeah, oh yeah. We had, we had to talk through a fence. We weren't allowed to get to really embrace or anything like that. Yeah, we talked through the fence.

KP: Were other people there doing the same kind of thing or was it just...

DK: At that same time, no, I don't think so. I know this other family came with them. The Garrels went, came with them. And they brought a cake, I remember. She brought a, Annie was a baker and she had baked a cake and she brought that, and we were able to get that. But, that...

KP: How did you, how did you get that? How was that...

DK: I don't know if...

KP: Did it pass through guards or do you remember?

DK: I don't remember. I just remember the cake that she had baked. But I know that we weren't allowed outside the fence and they weren't allowed inside, so...

KP: And the other question I have is how did things in Heart Mountain change for you when Sachi arrived?

DK: I had somebody to talk to. Yeah, before that I didn't have anybody to talk to. I had, I had made a few friends, girlfriends, but they're not my sisters. And when, and then when Sachi came I was so thrilled to have her there and have somebody to be able to talk to and be with. But then she didn't stay very long. [Laughs]

Off Camera: A few months, huh.

DK: Yeah. Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh.... okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: How do you, you know, in talking about your experiences, your camp experience, how do you look, how do you see them now, looking back sixty some years?

DK: Just as a very traumatic experience. And, there was some good times, too. After I had made a couple of friends, then it was more comfortable. But just going into a, like going into the latrine and there were no shower curtains or anything. It was just, I wasn't used to all that public display. So that, that really bothered me until I got used to it.

Off Camera: It bothered all of us.

DK: Yeah, yeah, 'course, yeah.

RP: The barbed wire and the guard towers? Did that have any sort of psychological impact on you as well?

DK: Yeah, I didn't really, I knew they were there, but I didn't, it didn't bother me because I didn't go near them. I guess I was just, just knowing that they were there just...

RP: Have you had an opportunity to share your story with school groups or any organizations?

DK: No, uh-uh. No, no.

RP: Camp-wise. The redress came about in 19', I think it was in 1988.

Off Camera: '88.

RP: It was an apology letter and...

DK: Oh, I kept the apology letter and I used the redress money to take my son and his wife and my husband to Alaska, on an Alaska cruise. So we did that.

RP: Do you have any feelings about the apology letter?

DK: No. I'm, I was glad to have received it, but it doesn't mean that much to me. I mean, it's nothing real personal. But I'll keep it. [Laughs]

RP: A historical document.

DK: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Do you have any further questions? Dorothy, if you have any other stories or memories you would like to share...

DK: Okay, I'm sorry I don't have more to tell you, but I just can't remember so much of it, so. Okay?

RP: Thank you very much on behalf of ourselves and the National Park Service --

DK: Well thank you for...

RP: -- we appreciate you sharing your story.

DK: Yeah, thank you for sharing all this.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.