Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Annie Sakamoto Interview
Narrator: Annie Sakamoto
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-sannie-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AL: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. We're interviewing Ann Sakamoto today. This interview is taking place in room 301 at Main Street Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's August 12, 2009. The interviewer is Alisa Lynch and the videographers are Kirk Peterson and Nancy Hadlock. Annie will be discussing her experiences as a former internee at Manzanar War Relocation Center and as a resident of the Children's Village orphanage at Manzanar. And this interview will be archived in our site library. And I just want to confirm that we have your permission to interview you and to use the information --

AS: Yes.

AL: -- for education and research?

AS: Yes.

AL: Okay. Could you give me your full name?

AS: Annie Kaoru, K-A-O-R-U, Shiraishi, S-H-I-R-A-I-S-H-I, Sakamoto, S-A-K-A-M-O-T-O.

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

AS: Was born in Los Angeles, East L.A. in the Japanese hospital which is no longer there.

AL: Okay. Is that the one in Boyle Heights?

AS: Yes. I understand it was demolished years ago.

AL: And what date were you born, and year?

AS: January the seventeenth, 1939.

AL: Okay. Could you give me your parents' full names?

AS: My father, I don't know the, the name. My mother was Jane Shiraishi, S-H-I-R-A-I-S-H-I. And then she married and her last name is Yata, Y-A-T-A.

AL: Okay. What do you know about your mother's background? Do you when she was born or where?

AS: I believe she was born in 1928, somewhere in there. And she was twenty-seven when I was born. She was a gardener's helper and when she had me she, obviously I was born early, two pounds, and I was born cesarean. So apparently I stayed in the hospital for several months. So when I was born the government asked her, they, she would like be, retain me when I came out? And she said, "Absolutely not." So she didn't want to see me again.

AL: And your parents, I mean, your father and your mother, could you explain a little bit the unusual circumstance of how you came to be?

AS: Yes, my father was a gardener. He had a marketing business. He had like five kids. They were kind of in their teen age. And, of course, a wife, and he and my mother had like a one night stand. And as a result I came along. So I was just telling people, "Don't have a one stand affair." [Laughs] Because I obviously was one of them. So my father's family didn't know nothing about me. He didn't want them to know 'cause obviously he was married and here he has a baby. 'Cause, well, my mother told him naturally. So, he didn't, he didn't want his family to know so he didn't want me to come into his family when I came out of the hospital.

AL: And your mother, do you, she was living with his family? Or they just worked together?

AS: They worked together and then when she had me then they separated completely and they didn't see each other.

AL: Okay. Was your mother Issei or Nisei?

AS: She would be considered... well, she came from Japan so she would be Issei and I'm Nisei.

AL: Okay. Do you know anything about where she came from in Japan or her family's history?

AS: I don't know about the exact city. She was a seamstress. And she did go to high school at Belmont High School in Los Angeles. She did not go to college but she, I believe high school was her, her highest education.

AL: Do you know how old she was when she came to the U.S. approximately?

AS: That I do not know.

AL: Okay. And do you have your father's name, what his name was?

AS: I have it, but it's... I just don't want... his name is not on my birth certificate. It just says, "Father unknown."

AL: Okay, okay.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AL: What is your earliest memory?

AS: Of him or...

AL: Of your, in your life. Your earliest memory.

AS: Oh, when I came to live Miss Stuart, she was my foster mother, she told my father and he wanted to see me because he was no longer able to, to send money for me. He did send a small amount of money to Miss Stuart for my keep but he said he was sick and he no longer could send any money but he'd like to see me. So we met in downtown and I was about eleven years old. And on the street of L.A. I remember his being small, skinny, and dark-skinned, just sort of like me. That was the first and last time I ever saw him. Because he died of kidney failure shortly after and he was like in his in his fifties or sixties, probably in his sixties.

AL: So he was considerably older than your mother?

AS: Yes, yes.

AL: Okay. So, when you left the hospital as an infant, where did you, who cared for you?

AS: It was a Children's Village. I was placed there in the orphanage, Shoni...

AL: Shonien?

AS: Or Children's, uh-huh.

AL: So, is that the one that's the Shonien on Silver Lake Boulevard in L.A.?

AS: Yes.

AL: Before the war?

AS: Yes.

AL: Okay. Do you know how long you were there?

AS: From the time I came out of the hospital until 1942 when we went into the camp in Manzanar. So that was about like in June, 1942? So I was probably about three, three and a half years old.

AL: Do you have any memories of the Shonien on Silver Lake?

AS: Absolutely none. I don't remember playing with the children, no, absolutely, I don't remember about the orphanage.

AL: All right. And to your knowledge, you didn't have any contact with your birth mother?

AS: No. Because the government asked her if she wanted to take me back and she said no. So, I don't remember her. No contact except when I was born.

AL: What is your earliest memory in your own life? I mean, you said you don't remember Shonien. Do you remember going to Manzanar?

AS: No I do not. I don't even remember very much about playing with the other children. But I do remember going into the babies' -- they had a baby section with cribs -- and going on the stepstool and peering over the crib and laughing at the children, kind of tickling them to make them smile. But of course I was not allowed to pick 'em up.

AL: Yeah, so you would have been what, about three to six years old --

AS: Three and a half, yeah, yes, uh-huh.

AL: -- in Manzanar? Did you attend school in Manzanar?

AS: Yes, first grade.

AL: Who was your teacher?

AS: I think it was Ms. Brown.

AL: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

AL: Do you remember anything about the first grade?

AS: Well, I still have the report card from first grade believe it or not. And I received "unsatisfactory in behavior" so I think I was kind of naughty. I don't remember specifically the incident except being in a dark closet. I do mention it in my story.

AL: Could you tell us again?

AS: Yes, I was put in a closet for an unknown reason. And I was in there crying and then I saw an inkwell on one of the books so I took the inkwell and poured it over the books and then I don't remember what happened after that. I must have, probably, I must have been spanked because that memory's erased. So I was not a, an angel in first grade.

AL: And this is at Manzanar?

AS: Yes.

AL: The closet at Manzanar?

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: And, yeah that's, that's an interesting story. I read it in the book but, like I said, we want to have the stories also on this tape.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: If someone... because people may not have read that interview, so I might ask you some of the same questions. So when you, when you were at Children's Village, you don't have memories of, other than playing with the babies, you have any other memories there?

AS: No, I don't. I don't recall playing with the children or roaming... well, of course, being small like that I wouldn't be roaming around the camp. I just stayed in that section of the Children's Village.

AL: Were there any people on the Children's Village staff that you had a connection with? Any of the staff members?

AS: There was John Nakayama and then there was wife Taiko, I think, yes. She, they were the one of the caregivers, or they were among one of the caregivers. And I kept in contact with John Nakayama after camp.

AL: So did they live there at Children's Village?

AS: I think so, yes.

AL: Did you recall the Matsumotos?

AS: None whatsoever. I... being so young I don't recall them. I think they were sort of like the administrators. So they didn't, I don't recall their mingling with our, us children.

AL: Right. And, do you know anything about the background of the Nakayamas? Had they been at Shonien before the war?

AS: I don't know anything about them.

AL: When did you first meet Celeste, your friend Celeste?

AS: Well, it was actually... Miss Stuart was a schoolteacher and she asked the government for the last two foster children in the camp and Celeste and I were the one, last two.

AL: Had you, the two of you, bonded in camp at all?

AS: No, it was only when we came to be foster children with Miss Stuart.

AL: Okay. In your other interview you talked a little bit about, was it Miss Robbins?

AS: Yes.

AL: Yeah. And could you tell us a little about her and your memories of her?

AS: Yes, I remember going to her house, sitting on her lap 'cause I was just young, playing with a typewriter, or with a piano, and apparently she placed Celeste and us, and myself, into a foster home. And then she, I must have impressed her somehow because she kept in contact with us and she came and visited Celeste and myself. Took us out I think to the zoo and then I communicated by letter every year until she ended in a nursing home and passed away and then... so I kept in contact when she was in her nineties.

AL: Wow. So what, could you give us her full name and what her position was?

AS: Eva, E-V-A, Robbins, R-O-B-B-I-N-S. She was a social worker there and I believe that she placed children in the foster homes or parents before they left the camp.

AL: Do you have any recollection at all of the fact that we were at war, I mean, as a child, did you know why you were at Manzanar?

AS: No, I had absolutely no idea. It was only when I got out of the camp, in junior high and high school that I realized that we had been at war and that's why we were put in the camp.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

AL: Do you have any physical recollections of -- you talked about going into the, the room where the babies were. Any recollections of the physical layout of the Children's Village? Like where you slept, where you ate?

AS: Apparently we slept in the small children's portion. And then we had like the dining room. I don't even remember eating with other children. All I remember is the little crib.

AL: Would you know if the kids were segregated by age at all? Like the younger, did the older kids take care of the younger kids? Anything like that?

AS: Well, I think they played with them. But they didn't, because they had like caregivers, they were adults, taking care of the kids. But the older children might have mingled with the smaller kids and played with them. Because when we had our reunion in 1991 in Rosemead, they remembered me. I was absolutely astonished. How could they remember? They said, "Oh, you were just small, cute, like a monkey, skinny arms and legs, dark skinned." But they remembered me and that's, that's what surprised, that they remembered me after all these years.

AL: I've heard some people say that the Children's Village was their family. Or the only family they knew or the first family they knew. When you look back at the time that you had there and the people you were with, how do you feel about it? I mean, do you feel like they're your family? Do you feel like they were a bunch of strangers you lived with? What's your emotions about that group?

AS: They were just a bunch of people that took care of us. I had no difference between, like, we were orphans or, or the reasons we were put in the orphanage or Children's Village. I have no idea.

AL: As a child, did you have any sort of sense of difference that your family was different than other kids you knew?

AS: No, we were just all mingled.

AL: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

AL: So when, when did you find out that you were leaving? That you and Celeste were gonna be sent to Miss Stuart? How did you find that out? Do you recall?

AS: The only way, way I found out is was that we were put in the bus and then we came to live with Miss Stuart and then Celeste and I, we were in the front room and Miss Stuart had a bunch of other foster children. And they all sat on the couch and they just looked at us. And Celeste and I were on another couch. And we were boo-hooing and crying. And Celeste says, "I don't want to live here. I'm a Catholic." She had her rosary.

AL: Were you going, were you involved at all or was Celeste involved in church activities at Manzanar? Was that how she became Catholic?

AS: Well, I think she went to, she, being so sociable, she went to the different churches with the other kids just, just to do something. And she did mention going to the different churches, like I think Buddhist and Catholic and yeah.

AL: Okay. And just for the record, could you give us her name also?

AS: Celeste, C-E-L-E-S-T-E, Loi was her middle name in the camp, L-O-I, and then her married name is Teodor, T-E-O-D-O-R.

AL: Okay. And your connection with Celeste, you said you became, or came after you were relocated to Miss Stuart's house?

AS: Yes.

AL: 'Cause you were not close to her in the, in the Children's Village?

AS: We were not close at all. I don't even remember her, seeing her in the camp.

AL: What is the age difference between you and her?

AS: Three years.

AL: And who's older?

AS: She is.

AL: Okay.

AS: Yeah, she was born in, in June 1936.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

AL: What can you tell us about Miss Stuart's background? Give us her full name and what, what all you know about her.

AS: It's Wilma, W-I-L-M-A, and then C, stands for Clark, and then Stuart, S-T-U-A-R-T. She was a schoolteacher for many years and she lived, she took care of her elderly mother. And then she brought in, took in foster kids. And she had a heart for the Japanese people 'cause she would visit the sick people in the county, in the ward. And she stored some of their furniture in her garage when they went to camp. So, she was very strict. She had to be because she had all these kids with her and she had to be accountable for them. So she was really strict with us and didn't allow us to go to other people's homes.

AL: Do you know about what year she was born?

AS: She was born in 1900. December the fourth, 1900.

AL: Okay. So she would have been in her mid-forties?

AS: Correct. Yeah, she would have been in '45.

AL: Was she married?

AS: No, she never married.

AL: Okay. And how many, how many foster kids did she have when you went to live with her?

AS: Seven. [Laughs]

AL: Do you know when and why she started taking in foster kids?

AS: Well, probably... I'm not too sure why she took 'em in except that she felt sorry for these kids 'cause a lot of them, their parents abandoned them. The mother couldn't take care of 'em so the county asked her to, to be a foster mother. And she, of course, she could not adopt any of them because in those days they did not allow unmarried people to adopt kids.

AL: Do you think she would have adopted if she could have?

AS: She would have, yes. Not all seven of us, but she would have adopted probably myself.

AL: What do you recall about the other kids? Boys, girls, ages?

AS: All girls. And I remember one was a blonde and one had red hair and freckles. One was Hispanic, and Celeste and, and some of the others were like Hawaiian, different mixtures.

AL: And what ages, what age range were the other children?

AS: They were from like ages twelve, some of 'em were fourteen, fourteen down to us which was three years old. I was the youngest.

AL: Okay. So, but in 1945 you would be six.

AS: Yes.

AL: Right. Okay.

AS: Six and a half, uh-huh.

AL: Six and a half years old. Do you remember any of the other children's names or what became of them?

AS: Marlene was the oldest, the blonde. And I believe... they had parents too but for some reason they couldn't take care of 'em. They, I think she went to live with her mother and there was another one, Viviane, well, she was killed in a car accident. And then, and then there was one, Patricia, red hair and freckles, I still communicate with her once in a while. She lives like in Escondido. And then Terry was the younger one, too, and I still communicated with her. She lives in Huntington Beach. We exchange Christmas cards.

AL: And I know from your other interview that you lived with Miss Stuart through the rest of your childhood. Did those other children stay there or did they go back to their families? Do you recall?

AS: Most of 'em went back to their families. Celeste went to live with a, several foster children, with the families that she mentions.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

AL: Do you recall any of your emotions when you first went in there and saw the other kids? I mean, you've said that you and Celeste were on the couch crying. Do you remember why you were crying?

AS: Well, because we thought, we were Catholics and we wanted to go back to where the, to our Catholic roots and Miss Stuart, we didn't know she was Protestant, but she was Protestant and she went to a little community church and very active there. So we kind of grew up in the children's church up in, local church, it's still standing there, the community.

AL: And how did you become Catholic? Were you baptized as an infant?

AS: Oh, well we thought we were, no, we weren't baptized as Catholics, but because we went to a Catholic church once in a while or she did. She got a hold of some of rosary so I'm, I imagine it's probably from friends. But she wasn't really a Catholic, Celeste was not really a Catholic.

AL: Okay. So you, you were not necessarily part of Maryknoll in camp or you didn't have, did you have any of the interactions with the priests or the nuns or anything in camp?

AS: No. I thought at the interview by Renee that I thought I came from Maryknoll but it's, it wasn't. I came from the Shonien?

AL: Shonien.

AS: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: Right. And, I don't, from what I've read, Shonien was maybe, I don't know if it was non-denominational. But I think it was the man who founded it was Christian but I don't think, it wasn't like the Maryknoll home but it was a Catholic home for sure.

AS: No, uh-uh.

AL: Yeah. So, could you, could you tell us the story about Celeste and the rosary beads in, in a little more detail? 'Cause I know you talk about it in your other interview.

AS: Well, when we came and sat in the front room on the couch and we were crying and Celeste says, "I'm a Catholic and I want to go back." So, I thought, well, maybe we are Catholics. But we weren't. Because, and then we were raised in a very Protestant environment because we had to go to Sunday School and church, Protestant church.

AL: Do you know what Miss Stuart's response was to Celeste when she was saying she was Catholic?

AS: No, she didn't say anything negative or positive.

AL: Uh-huh, right. Did, did you all share a room at her house or did each...

AS: Well, we had, I had bunk, bunk beds. 'Cause there were like seven of us so we obviously had couple were rooms.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

AL: What, what was daily life like there?

AS: Well, of course, Miss Stuart had her elderly mother. And then she would give us a task like washing dishes or doing gardening. So I was washing dishes on a stepstool in the kitchen. Or washing or drying, probably drying the dishes.

AL: Did you get an allowance for that or that was...

AS: Oh no, no allowances.

AL: What did Celeste do?

AS: I believe, I don't remember what she did. She might have done some yard work.

AL: Uh-huh. Celeste sounds like she was a very lively child.

AS: Oh yes. Very lively.

AL: What do you, what do you remember about Celeste?

AS: Well she spoke her mind. She was very, she could con her way into or out of anything. Yeah, very quick on the mind. And outspoken which is, which is good in a way because she stood up for her, her own rights or own self.

AL: Right. And I know we're gonna be doing an interview her. Richard's gonna be interviewing her later today. But, could you give us just a very, very brief sketch of what you know of her background?

AS: Well, I believe, well, she must have had some kind of Japanese blood in her because she ended up in the camp. And I met her mother once 'cause she took her, she, her mother called herself Mrs. Young and she had long straight, coarse black hair. And she took us out I think to some kind of, like a ostrich farm which is not too far from us. And then that's all I remember about her. And Celeste said she didn't want to see her, her mother again.

AL: Was her mother Japanese American?

AS: I thought she was Chinese but she must have had some kind of Japanese in her because if a person had one drop of Japanese blood they were sent off to the camp.

AL: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

AL: Just to step back for a moment into, to your history, do you know of any contact between your mother and you or your mother and the War Relocation Authority? I mean I know there were some letters exchanged while you were at Children's Village between I guess it was between the WRA and your birth mother. Do you know anything about that?

AS: Well, they just asked her if she wanted to take me after the war was over and she said absolutely not. And she moved, she was then married, she moved with her family to Chicago. And sometimes I thought, well, I would like to get in touch with her in Chicago but I didn't make the attempt. So I'm sure she's passed away.

AL: Do you know why at that point she didn't want you?

AS: Well, for one thing she wasn't married. And then she, my father had a family of his own and of course she's not gonna reappear in the family and say, "Guess what, I've got a kid of yours." No, so she wanted nothing to do with my father or his family. She just wanted... or myself 'cause it reminded me of bad things in her life.

AL: Okay. And do, what do you know about any, you said that she remarried, do you know if she had other children ever?

AS: Yes, because when she went into camp, she went to Heart Mountain, she had an eight month old son called Kenneth that I, that I'd known and I'm sure she had other children when she, maybe in the camp or when she got out of the camp.

AL: Have you ever thought about contacting them? Or you feel just...

AS: Well...

AL: How do you feel about that?

AS: I thought of contacting her but I thought, no, I don't want to stir up resentment and bad feelings. I did not attempt to. I could have if I'd tried hard enough.

AL: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AL: Yeah, and I apologize for bouncing around a little bit.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: And also if you guys have questions please chime in. When, when you were at Miss Stuart's you said you did chores. You would be what, by that time about the second grade?

AS: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: Okay, where did you go to school?

AS: Bushnell Way School, that was a little community, very small school. It was like four blocks from where we lived.

AL: How, how do you say that?

AS: Bushnell, B-U-S-H-N-E-L-L. And then Bushnell and then Way.

AL: Oh, Bushnell Way, okay.

AS: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: School. Was that a public school?

AS: Yes.

AL: Okay. How was your behavior there?

AS: Good. I got, I got good grades, outstanding behavior.

AL: Uh-huh. What was your favorite subject?

AS: Drawing, art.

AL: Why do you think your behavior was, was excellent there and not so good at Manzanar?

AS: Oh, because I think I was insecure. I mean, there's a whole bunch of kids and no father figure, no real mother figure. And, like I said, and then I recall like at night the flood lights, the, the guards' floodlight would sweep through the windows and my being afraid, hiding underneath the covers. So I'm sure that was kind of unsettling, too.

AL: This was at Manzanar?

AS: Correct.

AL: Did you ever see the guards?

AS: No. All I know that there was a guard... 'cause they were high. So I did not see them or their guns. But I just recall the guardhouses. I think there were like maybe four or six of 'em around the camp.

AL: Yeah, eventually there were eight total, but they started out with four. The, the lights sweeping through your barracks, were they doing that intentionally, you think?

AS: Well, I think just to keep guard they would sweep over... I don't know if they did it every hour through the whole camp. Because after all I guess we were internees, prisoners.

AL: What did you think it was? Did you know it was a guard light?

AS: No. I didn't. I just, I just recall that there were just like these searchlights sweeping through the, through the window, through the camp at night.

AL: I can imagine that would be very scary...

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: a child. Going back to Miss Stuart's place, and you said that your behavior improved because you felt maybe more of a sense of security?

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: What was it that gave you a sense of security there?

AS: Well the fact that we, well, Miss Stuart had her mother so that was kind of like a family. She didn't have men in her life. But then there was other children. But we were not structured. We went to school, we had a routine at school. The teachers... so it was more of a structured life than in the camp.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

AL: And did you have a sense that she wanted to keep, I mean did you know when you went there that you would stay there the rest of your childhood?

AS: Well, I think she wanted to keep me. And she let the other kids go, including Celeste.

AL: So you were the only one she kept the whole time?

AS: Yes.

AL: Why did she let Celeste go?

AS: Well, I think she thought that Celeste, you know how Celeste is, she thought she'd be kind of a bad influence on me. Yeah, 'cause...

AL: Was she?

AS: No, she was not. But you know how Celeste, she was outspoken so she thought oh, she'll lead me astray. She'll have me roaming the neighborhood, too. But she never did that.

AL: Uh-huh. You told a story about Celeste throwing away or burning her rosary beads. Could you tell us that story? What you recall of that and why she did?

AS: Well I think she just threw 'em... oh, I hope I'm not offending the Catholic people, but she threw them in the fireplace I think 'cause she realized, well, you know, "I'm not, I'm not in a Catholic home so no sense having a rosary," so, yeah.

AL: Uh-huh. Do you, was Miss Stuart aware of that when she did it?

AS: I'm sure she did, yeah.

AL: Do you know what her response was?

AS: No. I have no idea. I guess she was kind of glad.

AL: But, but to your knowledge was that Celeste's decision to do that?

AS: Yes, yes, it had to be Celeste's decision. She wouldn't do it unless it was her decision. Yeah.

AL: What did, did you have rosary beads?

AS: No, I didn't. Celeste did.

AL: Celeste did. How long was Celeste at Miss Stuart's?

AS: I believe she was only like there for a year, year and a half.

AL: Uh-huh. And, when and how did you find out that she was gonna be leaving?

AS: Well, I, it was not a formal announcement but I think she went to live with a nearby foster home and then she lived there just for a short time and then she went to another one until that she ended up in the one in Baldwin Park.

AL: These were like group foster homes?

AS: No, they were just like, like individual...

AL: Families?

AS: They weren't like, they were like structured families.

AL: How would you characterize your relationship with Celeste? I mean, is she somebody as a child that you felt was a friend or a sister or just somebody else in the same boat?

AS: More like a sister.

AL: Uh-huh. So what was it like for you when she left?

AS: I really don't, I really don't know what was my reaction when she left.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: Or if I cried or what...

AL: Did you keep in touch through the, the rest of the time?

AS: Oh, yes. She would, one time she came to visit me and then through letters we kept in contact.

AL: Was she a bad influence?

AS: Oh no. She, she was a good influence.

AL: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

AL: So your, you said you enjoyed school. What was your favorite subject?

AS: It was art.

AL: Oh that's right. I'm sorry. You said that.

AS: And then English.

AL: Uh-huh. So did you do drawing?

AS: I did hours. I used to do portraits.

AL: Do you still?

AS: Once in a while. Like when I was a, a nurse and working with a family doctor, when they ever had surgery I would draw a picture in the chart where the lesion were or where the... they got such a big kick out of it. The anesthesiologist and surgeon would see my drawing and they, they really were impressed. I mean, I just did it because it was a fun thing to do.

AL: When did you start drawing?

AS: When I was small like I was about maybe eight years old. I would sit for hours and do portraits, you know, like just a pencil.

AL: Do you still have any of them?

AS: I think I have a couple of them, yes.

AL: Really. I know some people say they do art because it's sort of a form of release. You know, they channel their feelings or emotions or whatever.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: How would you characterize art for you? Besides just something fun to do.

AS: Well, it probably was a release, too. Because I would sit in the backyard, in Miss Stuart's backyard and draw away the hours under the tree.

AL: Uh-huh. Did you play with the other children there at her place?

AS: To be... I really don't remember playing with them.

AL: Okay. What was the, it sounds like she had children of all different backgrounds?

AS: Yes.

AL: Did you have either there or in school or other places as a child any sense of being Japanese or being different? Were there any... what can you tell us about that?

AS: Well, some of the kids would, would call me "Jap." And then when I was in junior high I think I said in the story, that I went... we were in a classroom and I went up behind a boy and I just, just to be friendly. And he turned around and he said, "What do you want, you Jap?" And, of course I was startled. That really hurt.

AL: What about the other kids at Miss Stuart's? Did they, did they treat you well?

AS: Oh, yes. Uh-huh. As far as I... I didn't get in fights with them or anything.

AL: Did, did I ask you where Miss Stuart lived?

AS: She, oh, she lived in Los Angeles.

AL: In what area?

AS: Well, actually we're living in the house. When she passed away she willed the house to us so we're living in a two story house in the, in our property.

AL: Where is that?

AS: That's in Highland Park, Los Angeles, near south Pasadena.

AL: Okay. Did you have interactions with other kids of Japanese ancestry or other Asian American kids in your area?

AS: Yes, I went to church and that was when I came out of nursing school. I started attending a Japanese church in Los Angeles and then in college. And then when we got married we attended the Japanese church for a while.

AL: Is this Japanese Christian church?

AS: Yes.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AL: So you graduated from elementary school from the Bushnell Way School?

AS: Correct.

AL: And where did you go to high school?

AS: In the same area, neighborhood. There was a high school called Los Angeles Pacific High School. It was just four blocks away.

AL: And what class were you?

AS: From freshman to high school. I graduated from high school.

AL: So are you class of, like, 1957?

AS: 1952, 1955.

AL: Okay. So you were --

AS: I graduated in 1956.

AL: Okay. Graduated in '56. In high school did you study art or take any specific classes for art?

AS: They were, no, they were just general college preparatory classes.

AL: When did you know you wanted to become a nurse?

AS: Well, I think Miss, Miss Stuart decided for me. [Laughs] I didn't want to be...

AL: Can you tell us about that?

AS: Well I didn't want to be a teacher because she was a teacher and I didn't want to be like her. So she called up Pasadena City College and said, "Well, I want to enroll my daughter in your classes." So I had to take the test. It was like an all day test and I passed it. I didn't really want, I didn't really care whether I passed it or not. So then I started taking the basic college classes. I graduated with an AA degree at Pasadena City College and I also took the RN courses and got my RN license, 1960.

AL: And was that your career? Your, did you remain an RN throughout your career?

AS: Yes, except I decided I wanted to be a teacher. [Laughs] So I went back to college, Los Angeles Pacific College, and, and took the elementary preparatory courses and got my elementary credential and taught at the public school for three years.

AL: And when was that?

AS: That was in 1965 to '68.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

AL: Just to go back a little bit to Miss Stuart. When you were talking about enrolling for college you said she referred to you as her daughter?

AS: Yes, foster daughter.

AL: Foster daughter.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: Did you consider her your mother?

AS: Well, I considered her my foster-mother. We always referred to as foster daughter, foster mother.

AL: Okay. What were the qualities that you most admired in Miss Stuart?

AS: Well the fact she had all seven of us, of us and she took care of elementary, she took care of her mother, elderly mother, and she taught kindergarten fulltime.

AL: Did, what do you remember about her personality-wise? I mean, was she stern, was she funny, was she serious, was she... I mean, how would you, for those of us who don't know her, how would you paint a picture of Miss Stuart?

AS: To me she was kind and she was strict. She did not, she did not allow us to roam the neighborhood. She did not allow us to go to other kids' homes. They had to come to our home. They didn't do that very often. And at least we had clothing and, and food... well, of course, the welfare helped a lot too. And then a lot of food. Yeah, she, she fed us adequately.

AL: Did you, did you have like social workers coming to visit and check on your status?

AS: I'm sure they did.

AL: Uh-huh. Do you know how much she received per child back in those days?

AS: I don't know. She, had seven foster kids so whatever the going rate.

AL: Uh-huh. What do you recall of her mother? Did you have any interactions with her elderly mother?

AS: Well, her elderly mother had Alzheimer's. But she liked to go out in the yard and just dig around the yard and hard worker, hard... I just remember her pushing a wheelchair full of stones and just dumping them out and, and that was her healthy outlook. 'Cause she was very anemic and of course she had Alzheimer's, was forgetful. And if she were allowed to go out the door she'd go down the street yelling, "Help me, help me." Yeah. I remember that.

AL: About how old was she, the mother?

AS: She was in her eighties and she died when she was about ninety, ninety-two, ninety-six.

AL: Do you recall her name?

AS: It's Ella C. Stuart. E-L-L-A and the middle initial is C, for Clark, and then Stuart, S-T-U-A-R-T.

AL: Okay. Do you know if that Clark had an E on the end of it? Or was it just Clark?

AS: No, it's just Stuart, S-T-U-A-R-T.

AL: How did, how did Miss Stuart make it with seven kids and an Alzheimer's mother and a fulltime job?

AS: Oh it kept her busy. So she didn't have a lot of time to socialize or to allow us to, she was very strict because she, the government, she had to account to the government. But then they all left so soon after Celeste and I arrived so it wasn't like she had 'em very long, all seven of us. She didn't have us all together very long.

AL: Was there a time when she had just you and Celeste?

AS: Yes, uh-huh. Just for a short time.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: About a year, year and a half.

AL: That must have been a big difference when all the kids... you had so many kinds and then just two and then just one.

AS: Correct, yeah.

AL: How did, how did your life change?

AS: Well, with Celeste gone... when I was in, when I was in junior high I was a little bit, not incorrigible, but you know, when you're at that sensitive age and you don't have any father or mother, you know like a structure, and you had these friends at high school and you want to go out with them and she'd say no.

AL: What are the qualities that you least admired in Miss Stuart?

AS: Being strict.

AL: So you think that she was strict just for practical reasons or religious reasons or, I mean...

AS: For practical reasons. Yeah.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: She didn't want my to get, my getting hurt or, you know, by other people or I guess she was afraid that I would not be kidnapped, but she didn't want me roaming around and getting into trouble like drugs or boys or whatever. [Laughs] She didn't like my going out with boys.

AL: Uh-huh. So she didn't date herself?

AS: No, she never dated, unfortunately.

AL: Do you know why?

AS: Her mother was kind of controlling. And then she took so much of her time to, she didn't have time to date.

AL: Uh-huh. Did she have siblings?

AS: Yeah, she did but they, they died. She like had seven siblings and they all died in infancy except for two sisters.

AL: Were those two sisters involved in her life or your life?

AS: Yes, they were both schoolteachers.

AL: Were they married?

AS: No. Except, I take it... the middle sister married a Chinese, and they just lived up the street from us. Yeah.

AL: What were the sisters' names?

AS: Elizabeth or, and then, was the first one. And then my mind is a blank regarding the other one, the other sister... Alice. Yeah, she's the one that passed away.

AL: Okay. Would that be unusual at that time for a Caucasian to marry a Chinese?

AS: Yes. In fact, her middle sister didn't, told her, the father, she met him on the bridge when he was coming home from work and said, "I married a Chinese." And she disappeared. I mean, she was gone like for a couple weeks and they were so worried. They thought maybe she was in a den, you know, the opium den, got kidnapped?

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: But they accepted him and he took such wonderful care of her 'til the end when she passed away.

AL: What do you know about Miss Stuart's father?

AS: I never met him. But I understand he was very kind. He was a minister for many years. And then when he retired, you know, to take care of Miss Stuart's mother, he passed away because he was crossing the street and the, and the dirt and he got tetanus, tetanus infected wound. And he passed away from lockjaw. But they took care of him at home.

AL: And that would be, do you know about what year?

AS: Probably, oh, that must have been in, before I was even born, in the 1930s.

AL: Do you recall his name?

AS: It was William Stuart.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

AL: So, bouncing back... and, and feel free to add, if there's something I haven't asked you about...

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: Feel free to share 'cause I'm just trying to fill in some pieces but, but you know your life better than any of us do. So, the high school, you said you graduated in '56 and you went to college...

AS: Yes.

AL: Nursing. How did you meet your husband?

AS: Met at church. He was, I had finished nursing school and, well, to take it back, we had, I had gone to the East L.A. Nazarene Church and I was just there shortly and I met him there and I thought... but we didn't have any feelings with him, with each other. And then he went to, to help out in the Chinese church, Nazarene Church. And he just called me out of the blue one day and then we started dating.

AL: What's his name?

AS: His name is Douglas, D-O-U-G-L-A-S, Sakamoto, of course. Yeah.

AL: Does he have a Japanese name also?

AS: Akira, A-K-I-R-A is the middle name.

AL: And what's, what's his background? I mean, where was he born? Where did he grow up? Was he in a camp?

AS: No, he was born in Molokai so when the war came of course they knew about that but they had to blacken their windows on Molokai. So he was not involved in the camp at all.

AL: So he's Japanese Hawaiian?

AS: Yeah, well, he's Japanese but born in Hawaii, yeah.

AL: Okay. How did he end up in L.A.?

AS: Well, he went into the service, in the Air Force when he got out of high school in 1957? And then he came to mainland and then, then he came to L.A. to go to school, Pasadena College, it was a Nazarene college. He graduated from there.

AL: Okay. When was he born?

AS: He was born in January 25, 1938.

AL: Okay, so he's just a year older than you.

AS: Yes.

AL: A year and a, oh I guess a week less than a year older. And when did you marry?

AS: We married in August the fourteenth, which is gonna be this Friday?

AL: Happy Anniversary.

AS: Thank you. In 1965. So we, we're gonna be married forty-four years.

AL: Congratulations.

AS: Thank you.

AL: You said that Miss Stuart was very strict and, and she didn't let you go out with boys. Did you get to date any boys before him?

AS: Oh yeah, I did, but...

AL: Did Miss Stuart know?

AS: No. [Laughs] I was in nursing school, too, at the time and I lived off the campus. I lived right across the street from the hospital. So then I would date boys, yeah. And she didn't know about 'em.

AL: What was her involvement in your life after you went to college? I mean, did she come visit you? Did you visit her?

AS: I visited her, yes.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: And, but when I went to Pasadena College, City College, I would take the bus from home to the city college and then back home. And then, but I lived in the nurses dorm for about a year 'cause I got a scholarship. Yeah.

AL: And did her mom pass away while you lived there?

AS: Yes. Uh-huh. She, she passed away from a stroke. She died at home.

AL: So when you left home was she living alone then by that time?

AS: She was living alone and then she brought her sister. Her sister was, had several strokes and was living in a, in a home. And she brought her home and then she passed away at home.

AL: Miss Stuart did?

AS: Her sister.

AL: Oh, the sister.

AS: Her older sister, Elizabeth, yes.

AL: Did Miss Stuart ever take in additional foster kids?

AS: No. I mean, we were enough. After Celeste she said, "No more foster kids."

AL: Where did, you said Celeste ended up in a foster home. Did you, you didn't go to the same schools or anything did you?

AS: We went to Bushnell Way for just, just a grade or so. And then she left, went to several different foster homes.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

AL: How come you didn't want to tell Miss Stuart that you were dating boys?

AS: Well, when I was going to the local school she, she would tell other people to kind of spy on me and see if I were going around with any boys.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: And then when I went to college the same thing. She would say, "Watch out Annie, for Annie and see if she's dating any boys." I guess she was afraid that I would get into trouble into trouble with boys, too.

AL: Uh-huh. Did she know anything about your birth mother's background?

AS: Yes, uh-huh, because they have documents, the county gave her documents.

AL: Do you think that's why she was so worried about you?

AS: I think so, yeah.... a special affinity for me.

AL: Uh-huh. So what did she say when you started dating Douglas? I assume she, she must have known about that.

AS: Oh, yes. Yeah she, she was okay with that 'cause he was Japanese and he was a nice Christian Protestant boy so she let him in the house.

AL: Uh-huh. Did he, did he bond with her?

AS: No, not really. He thought she was a little strange. [Laughs]

AL: In what way?

AS: Like, strict. You know, not like the normal mother. Yeah.

AL: Uh-huh. What is a normal mother anyway?

AS: Well, you know, one that would invite boys in, have dinner ready and talk to them. She didn't talk too much to Doug and he was kind of quiet so he really didn't have too much with her so, as far as bonding with her...

AL: What kind of, did she give you any sort of advice about boys?

AS: Or just don't have sex with them, that's what.

AL: I think all of our mothers tell us that. [Laughs]

AS: [Laughs] Don't ask us before we get married. Because she worried too because my mother had sex with my father and that's why I came.

AL: Right.

AS: And it was kind of unpleasant, a very unpleasant experience.

AL: Do you know -- and I know this is a sensitive question, so feel free not to answer it. But from reading the letters from the WRA to your birth mother, it, it's, I was trying to understand if it was a situation of consensual sex or rape or do you know in... 'cause it, it sounds like it says different things. Do you know what the situation was between your birth parents?

AS: All I know is that he, my father took her home one night and that's when I came along, when it happened.

AL: But you don't know if it was forced or...

AS: I don't know that.

AL: Yeah. You weren't there. Well, you were there but you weren't quite there.

AS: [Laughs] I was just like a twinkle in the sky or something like that.

AL: Yeah. Just a star over the house. Because I saw in the letters where your birth mother talks about it, that it was too painful to recall. And it certainly sounds like it was a difficult situation.

AS: Oh right, huh.

AL: So, other than not having sex with boys, did, did Miss Stuart have any other advice about life and relationships? I mean, did she, how did she help form your view of life? Did she help form your view of life?

AS: No, not really. Just get a good education. Become a nurse or become a teacher, get good grades.

AL: Was she proud that you became a nurse?

AS: Yes. She was proud I became a teacher, too.

AL: And did you end up nursing her later in life?

AS: Well, she, what happened was she broke her hip. And they said that she would never be able to walk because her bones were brittle because of her age. So she never walked again. So I was working full time, had a family, so there's no choice except to put her in a skilled nursing facility. Which was just a mile away from her so I'd go after work, I'd go and see her. In the morning I'd try to feed her, too. But then a massive stroke took her and, and that's what happened. She died.

AL: When did she pass away?

AS: It was 1996.

AL: So it was pretty recent. She was ninety-six years old.

AS: Somewhere, uh-huh.

AL: Yeah. Or about ninety-six years old.

AS: Yeah, uh-huh.

AL: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

AL: Was she involved in... well, I should back up. You have children, right?

AS: Yes.

AL: How many children do you have?

AS: Well, I have a son that's forty years old and he lives in North Carolina, works for the Bank of America. And our daughter, she's thirty, thirty-nine. And she lives with us.

AL: Okay. And what are their names?

AS: Robert Sakamoto and then Michelle Sakamoto. And she was married but after the divorce she took back her maiden name.

AL: Okay. And was Miss Stuart involved in their lives?

AS: Oh, yes. When they were small she would babysit for them while I was, went to, while I was working. And then she'd take them to the school, to the Bushnell Way school, walk 'em there. And then feed 'em lunch when they came back.

AL: So would you say she was a grandmother figure?

AS: Yeah, yeah.

AL: Uh-huh. Did she teach at Bushnell Way School or a different school?

AS: A different school, Euclid Avenue.

AL: Okay.

AS: That was in East L.A.

AL: When did she retire?

AS: In 1955, 'cause she had to take care of her mother, elderly mother.

AL: Okay.

AS: Yeah, failing health.

AL: Uh-huh. Would you say that, that there was anybody in your life who was a father figure in childhood or at any point that you looked at?

AS: No. 'Cause in the camp we didn't have a father figure. And Miss Stuart's certainly not a father figure.

AL: And she chased all the father figures away.

AS: [Laughs] Yeah, right, yeah.

AL: Did, how do you think that, or, or has it affected the way you look at families?

AS: Well, Doug thought I was a little weird. Because, well, for one thing, I'm kind of a different personality than he is. Like when there's something that has to be done I want it done right away, and organized. And he's kind of more like, takes life easy. Whatever in life, sad, bad, indifferent, he just takes it like it is. So he gets a little taken aback when I want something done like right away. And being in nursing, the decision had to be done right away. And in teaching school, the decisions had to be made right away.

AL: Right. You don't, yeah you don't want a nurse that procrastinates.

AS: No.

AL: That's why I'm not a nurse. [Laughs] All my, all my patients would die.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

AL: What was Doug's family background? Was it, did he have both parents? Did he have brothers and sisters?

AS: Yes, and his father was like a pineapple crane operator. And his mother cooked for the boys in the pineapple. And he had like a brother and three sisters. So it was a stable, pretty stable family.

AL: Was he, was he close to them?

AS: Well not real close where he... what happened was that he didn't confide in them. Like when some children and come to their parents and say hey this decision, what do you think? He didn't, he didn't do that. But he did confide more in his sisters.

AL: And he's, is he younger or older than his siblings?

AS: He was the older of the boys.

AL: Do you recall the point at which you told him about your background or how he reacted...

AS: Well, he ...

AL: ... about your history?

AS: What happened, what triggered it especially was when we had interview in ninety, I believe it was '97, when our story appeared in the front page. And I gave, gave him the article and then people starting calling us for interviews. So that's when he became, he was aware. I didn't tell him too much before that.

AL: So did, he didn't ask where your birth mother or your birth father was or anything like that?

AS: Well, if, I just told him briefly. But I didn't tell him the whole story.

AL: What was his reaction when he heard the whole story?

AS: Well, he says, "No wonder you act...' [Laughs] "No wonder you act like the way you are." Yeah, it was kind of, it was new to him. Because he came from a stable family and all of a sudden the camp and... yeah, it was very different for him.

AL: Do you think it was difficult?

AS: No. 'Cause he like, he takes everything like oh, it's bad or good.

AL: I've heard, just culturally, that there is a stigma, at least some of the kids in the Children's Village talk about that there's a stigma in Japanese culture with orphans because you don't know their, basically their pedigree. They're not, what is it...

AS: "Purebred."

AL: Exactly. I was trying to think of the name. The, the different classes of people.

AS: Oh. Uh-huh.

AL: Did you have any sense of that in the Japanese American community, of being ostracized because your, your pedigree was not known or whatever? Did you have any sense of that?

AS: No. They didn't call me a... what do you call it? People that... "illegitimate" or "bastard." They didn't, they didn't call me those names.

AL: Right. I'm trying to think of the word in Japanese culture. Is it, not ina, the, the... eta? The, there's different classes of people and they're, that, anyway, that's what I've read about and talked to some people about. That they say, I think it's maybe some of older orphans, that other parents in camp didn't want their kids socializing or dating people from Children's Village because you couldn't be sure of what their background was.

AS: Oh, yeah, that's very important.

AL: You know, whether they might be hapa or have some illness in the family or whatever.

AS: Oh. No, I didn't run across that.

AL: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

AL: When, when did you first hear about or think about Manzanar after the war?

AS: Well, that's when... the, the thing that opened up...'cause I did not tell my coworkers or friends about my background. It was only when that story broke open, with the Fox News and then the interview by the reporter, Renee.

AL: Okay.

AS: And the story appeared in, in the L.A. Times and I think in Orange County Times, Denver.

AL: Was this before or after the 60 Minutes special?

AS: This was, I believe, before.

AL: Uh-huh. How did they, how did they find you? Or find out about you?

AS: Good question.

AL: So you don't know. I mean they just... how somebody first approached you?

AS: Oh, Renee, from, from the L.A. Times interviewed me. Oh, and then those two girls from the Cal State Fullerton, they interviewed me.

AL: How did you feel the first time someone approached you and said they wanted to talk about it?

AS: I said, "Okay." Yeah, and then I started crying.

AL: That's understandable. Were you expecting the publicity that came?

AS: Uh-uh, no. No way.

AL: Would you have done it if you'd known that that was gonna open up your life as it has?

AS: Uh, I probably would have. The only thing is that, because it appeared in L.A. Times which is very widely read, I'm surprised that my father's family didn't recognize... because the name Shiraishi and then, and then my mother's name being Shiraishi, that they, they didn't connect. They probably didn't connect the two.

AL: Uh-huh. But your father's name is mentioned in the book, Twice Orphaned.

AS: Right. But when you had the oral history I just put "N/A" 'cause I didn't want it, I didn't want it appeared on internet or whatever, his name, full name.

AL: Right, right.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

AL: Just to back up for a moment. You were just saying, we were talking when the tape was off about Celeste and Miss Stuart. You said Celeste had a very dim view of Miss Stuart?

AS: Oh yeah, she did not like her at all.

AL: What did she think of her? What did she say about her?

AS: Well, she's very restrictive and she would, she would have been very difficult to handle. Oh, my goodness, being a teenager, junior high. She would have caused Miss Stuart grief 'cause she was very outspoken. And Miss Stuart was kind of... she thought she was too restrictive.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: Yeah, she would have been difficult.

AL: Was she difficult for her foster home, to your knowledge?

AS: I think the first couple of them, she did. I think she mentions that she was kicked out of the first couple of 'em. And then when she went to high school in Baldwin Park, she had the high school activities. She was so popular and so involved in sports and athletics and you know, she didn't like to, to study, but her social life is what saved she said, and shaped her to what she is now.

AL: What did she do as a career?

AS: She's a nurse, a registered nurse.

AL: Was that her own choice or did, I assume Miss Stuart didn't tell her to become a nurse.

AS: Oh no, because by that time she was way out and all.

AL: Right. Did you work together at all as nurses or talk about your careers?

AS: Well, we talk about our careers. She was a psych nurse and psych is not my field at all. So I said, "You be happy." And she was a psych nurse in Vegas for many years. And she loved being a psych nurse.

AL: Bet she'd be good.

AS: Yeah, she did. She talked to people and could talk them into or out of anything. Very good with patients.

AL: Uh-huh, yeah.

AS: No, psych was not my field at all.

AL: Right. Yeah, it's harder to draw pictures of the psych cases.

AS: Right, right. Yeah, very interesting, but no.

AL: Right.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AL: So we were talking before the tape stopped, I believe, about the, the publicity that came.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: From you doing the interview. How has opening up about your story changed your life?

AS: It hasn't changed that much because the coworkers I have not, I have not told one soul about my background. Where I previously worked, the only reason that they found out was that they saw the newspaper. So, my supervisor asked me about it. But other than that I don't tell my coworkers anything about my background.

AL: And why is that?

AS: Well, I don't want sympathy from them. "Oh, you poor orphan," they think I'm a normal nurse. I mean, you know, with a family.

AL: When, the first reunion of Children's Village that you talked about a little earlier was nineteen...

AS: I think it was in '97.

AL: Was it? Okay. What, what was that like for you? You said the other kids remembered you, but what were your emotions in going back and seeing people from the, those years?

AS: Well, I mean, we would talk about the, the families. Like Dennis and Tak and yeah. And they, well, they remembered and they were more vocal in their stories.

AL: Had you been in contact with any of them besides Celeste?

AS: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: Who were you in contact with before that?

AS: Tak. I would send, we would exchange Christmas cards.

AL: And could you give us his full name?

AS: Tak Matsu... Matsuno?

AL: Matsuno?

AS: Yeah. Tak, T-A-K. I think they call it Takato, T-A-K-A-T-O and then Matsuno, M-A-T-S-U-N-O.

AL: Had you kept in touch with him through the years or just...

AS: Yeah, uh-huh. I call him up once in a while. I just called him up several months ago. And we exchange Christmas cards, tell about what's happening with the family and...

AL: And are these connections that came from the reunion?

AS: Yes.

AL: Or had you been in touch with him in the '50s and'60s?

AS: No, it only came as a result of the reunion.

AL: Uh-huh. And did you meet Lillian Matsumoto at the reunion?

AS: Yes, at the one that was at the museum.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: Uh-huh.

AL: Who, were there other people that you remembered from camp that you saw there? Or was it all like a bunch of new faces, completely new faces?

AS: New faces.

AL: Uh-huh. Have you kept in touch with other people besides Tak and Celeste?

AS: Tak is... oh, Lillian Bonner.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: Yeah we, we e-mail each other.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AL: What, what came in your family from the interview... I mean, you talked a little about Douglas's reaction. What about your kids? I mean, how have they felt about your, your what, not notoriety, but you know, people knowing more about your family than they do about any of ours? Have they said anything about it?

AS: Well, our, my son, or our son Robert, he was very indignant as to what had occurred. He thought that was an injustice, a social injustice. And our daughter, she doesn't say too much about it.

AL: What were your feelings about the redress movement?

AS: Well, the only thing I know about it, Celeste told me, "Hey listen, you'd better, you'd better contact the government that you were one of the kids." So I did and I still have the letter that was sent to the government and then they sent me a notice back about the reparation. But, I thought hey, well, that's pretty good. I mean, we were just kids. I mean we, we're getting money from them.

AL: What was your, did you have a political feeling about redress? Or an emotional feeling?

AS: No.

AL: But you, but you still have the letter.

AS: Yes. I still have the letter and then when they gave us the money I sent a thank you to the government, to Bush, President Bush and to the House of Representatives, House of Congress.

AL: What did the money mean to you, or the, or the letter?

AS: Well, it's a good way to invest the money and... it came at a good time, too.

AL: Right.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AL: Did you ever go back to Manzanar or to the Children's Village site?

AS: Yes I did. We've made about four more journeys there.

AL: What's that like? And what was the first trip like and when?

AS: It was when they had established the, the center. Was it 2007 or 2006?

AL: We opened in 2004.

AS: Right, oh, we went to that one. Yeah.

AL: Was that your first time back at Manzanar?

AS: No, the, the one in ninety, it looked like it was '91, right after we had the reunion in Rosemead, we went that following April, April to the Manzanar site. And of course it didn't have, it was still that, the hall, the mess hall and they hadn't done the museum yet.

AL: What was it like to go back to the site though?

AS: It was like, well, it was like a bunch of rocks where they had the Children's Village. And they were telling us about the, the pears or apple orchards and the hospital in, right next, next to it. And they had a guide there. I forgot what his name was, Japanese guy that, that was making these tours.

AL: Uh-huh. And that would be about what year?

AS: I think it was, was it year two thousand and... not four? Or, I don't remember the year.

AL: What do you think... I mean, Miss Stuart was still alive until 1996 so she would have been alive when the redress was being done. Did she talk to you at all about her feelings in later years about, things about the camp? Did you ever talk about that?

AS: Well, she said she was, she had a empathy for the Japanese people because it was like she would visit the sick people in the county and then she had communication with some of the people 'cause she stored their furniture until after the war. So she said she was glad that she took in Celeste and myself.

AL: Right. Did she have ongoing relationships with the people? Like you said she stored furniture. Did she have Japanese American friends?

AS: A few of them. And there was one that lived in south Pasadena that she communicated with until she passed away, the one in south Pasadena. So aside from that, she didn't have too much contact.

AL: Did she do anything when you were growing up to encourage, for instance, connections to your Japanese cultural roots or did, did, were you involved at all in things like Girl Scouts or festivals or any sorts of things in the Japanese American Community?

AS: No, none whatsoever.

AL: Have you been involved in the Japanese American Community as an adult?

AS: The only, the only communication we have is our daughter was in the Obon, Obon dancing, Nisei Week.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: And she was dressed in all the costumes, the original, the hair, makeup, and everything. And she did that dance just one, one time.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: I think it was in August, down, downtown.

AL: Yeah, always on the hottest weekend of the year.

AS: Oh, yeah, it was pretty warm, hot. So we have pictures of, of that occasion.

AL: Uh-huh. When you look back now, I mean, you've been to Manzanar, you've been to the interpretive center, you've been involved in helping to preserve this story, what is it that you most want people to know about either your own life experience or the Children's Village experience or the war, I mean, what message would you want to convey to people in, people who hear this interview or see this interview or just to the public?

AS: Well, because the Japanese culture was family-oriented, no matter if there was orphans, but basically it was a pretty family-oriented community or, or culture. So they were more adhesive when they went into the camp, as traumatic as it was, and a lot of 'em lost their homes and property. But when they came out of camp, they rebuilt their lives. I called it out of the ashes of prejudice we became very productive, proud, American citizens. 'Cause we were Americans. And we were citizens. Even though we were treated like non-people. But I think it had to do with our background, that kept us together and united and, you know, the people that you meet today, even here, very few of 'em, they just take it like, well, that was life. Very few of 'em have real bitter memories as far as we know. 'Cause we've talked to several of 'em at our tables last night. So I think what happened, I want to stress that the family structure is, culture is so important. No matter what... and I know that there's been injustices to other races. But I think ours are, are unique. There was, I know there was riots in Manzanar and they were sent off to Tule Lake or whatever, but basically the people, I mean, they kind of took it. And, but then they became proud. They were proud people to begin with. And so I think that's what helped them.

AL: Have you ever been to Japan?

AS: No. One of these days, yeah.

AL: Uh-huh.

AS: We've heard people say it's a beautiful country. Very clean and the people are very polite, very friendly.

AL: Are you involved in any sort of Japanese cultural groups or organizations?

AS: No. We're not at all. For one thing, we go to a mostly Caucasian Nazarene church in Pasadena. And they have a few Japanese people but not, not really involved with them.

AL: So you've spent your life as a Christian.

AS: Yes.

AL: Are there any things about your faith that impact the way you look on your experience or you react to your experience? I mean, how does it, how has your faith changed how you view your life experience?

AS: You know, God set a place for us and no matter how bad it is He will help the faith to pull us through. And depend on Him and He's been the... I'm not a fanatic. But I just believe that God... I look at all the events in my life and I realize that God was in the midst of it, of them. And so that's why I'm sane or as sane as I am. I could have gone off the deep end and, but I didn't. So...

AL: That's great. Are there questions that you guys have? Anything else you want to share with us? Any questions I should have asked you and didn't? Any questions I did ask you and shouldn't have? [Laughs] There's probably two hours of those.

AS: Well, I hope this will be helpful to the people that, that see the interview and, and all of our stories still helped, will help them to see that these injustices could occur but hopefully they never will. And like I said, I wrote that, "Out of the ashes of prejudice, we've become proud and loyal American citizens." I think I mentioned that in the book.

AL: You can't say it any better than that. So, on behalf of the three of us and the National Park Service and just for the sake of history, thank you so much for your time and for opening your heart and I think it's always difficult for people sometimes to open and share and I think, I appreciate even more knowing that, that you've come a bumpy road and that you're willing to share that and be open and we really appreciate that. So...

AS: Oh, well, thank you.

AL: Thank you, Annie, very much.

AS: You're welcome.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.