Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Tamiko Honda Interview
Narrator: Tamiko Honda
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Redwood City, California
Date: April 15, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-htamiko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This afternoon we're talking with Tamiko Nakano?

TH: Honda.

RP: Honda? Honda. And Tamiko resides at 306 East Oakwood Boulevard in Redwood City, California. Date of our interview is April 15, 2010, interviewer is Kirk -- I'm sorry -- Richard Potashin, videographer is Kirk Peterson. And Tamiko will share her experiences and stories as an internee at the Topaz War Relocation Center during World War II, as well as her experiences before and afterwards. Our interview will be archived in the Park's library, and Tamiko, do I have permission to go ahead and record our interview?

TH: Yes.

RP: And can I refer to you as Tami?

TH: Tami, yes. All my friends know me as Tami.

RP: Then that's what I want to refer to you as. Tami, thank you for sharing this time with us. And first of all, we want to talk a little bit about your family background, and especially you. Can you give us your date of birth and where you were born?

TH: September 14, 1924, Santa Clara, California.

RP: And what was your given name at birth?

TH: It's very unusual. My birth certificate reads: "Thomasine Tamiko Nakano, September 14, 1924," I think I mentioned that before.

RP: Thomasine, huh?

TH: Yes. There's a long story that goes with it, but that's okay, that's another story.

RP: And were you, were you born in a hospital or at home?

TH: I think I was born at home with a midwife in attendance.

RP: Tell us a little bit about your father, first his name.

TH: My father's name is Hajime Nakano, and he was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1897.

RP: And his father originally came to the United States?

TH: Yes. His father, Ichitaro Nakano, went to Hawaii to labor in the (sugar cane) fields. And that was on a contract basis and it was for three years. He did his three years, then decided to come to the United States instead of returning to Japan, 'cause Japan was in a deep recession then. And he saw a future in U.S.A.

RP: And where did he settle in the United States when he first arrived here?

TH: He came to Santa Clara, California. I don't know why he chose Santa Clara, but he's been in that area since. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in 1915, just a year after my father came from Japan with his mother.

RP: They came in 1914 and he passed away in 1915?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Was your father an only son or did he have other siblings?

TH: He was actually the first son of the first son of the first son. And at that time it was unusual for first sons to leave Japan, but he did come.

RP: And do you know roughly how old he was when he came with his mother?

TH: He was seventeen years old.

RP: And his father, you mentioned, settled in Santa Clara. Was he involved in farming at that time?

TH: Yes. He was working as a... mainly an orchardist. He was quite proficient at pruning fruit trees, and so at that time, Santa Clara Valley was noted for its fruit trees. And so he had a lot to, a lot of work.

RP: And your father was involved in the same type of work?

TH: Yes. When my father came at seventeen years old, his father said, "You must learn English." And so my father went to work as a houseboy, and at that time it was quite common for young people who want to learn English to live with a American family, learn their customs, and he did go to night school. But unfortunately, when he was nineteen, his younger brother, who was born after they came to the U.S., he was, he had to take care of him because his own father died. And so my father raised this baby as his own, but he was really his brother, eighteen years apart.


RP: Your father, you said, was about seventeen when he came, and he... he was encouraged to learn English.

TH: Yes.

RP: And was taken in as a houseboy by an American family. And then later on he had a, sort of a responsibility thrust upon him?

TH: Yes, raising his younger brother and taking care of his mother. And so he worked very hard, but he spoke English and wrote English.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: How about your mother? Her name?

TH: Tsutaye, T-S-U-T-A-Y-E Nakano. And she came to the U.S. in 1920.

RP: Was she a "picture bride"?

TH: Yes, she was a "picture bride," which was very common at that time. I think they were married in, by proxy. It was recorded in the Japanese courthouse, their local courthouse, and so she was able to come to the U.S. and raise the family, immediately started a family.

RP: Do you know if any, if you or any of your other siblings were registered as dual citizens? Did you have dual citizenship?

TH: Actually, the three oldest of us five siblings, and I'm the middle child, we had dual citizenship, which was expunged -- I don't know if that's the word you call it -- but anyway, we gave up our Japanese citizenship when the war started.

RP: Did your mother ever talk about what it was like to come over from Japan --

TH: Yes.

RP: -- and enter this strange new culture called America?

TH: Yes. She came at a young age of... I believe it was about eighteen or nineteen. She had no Western clothes, she came in her kimono. And she said when she first went shopping -- oh, the day they arrived in San Francisco, my father took her to Japantown where there was a merchant who sold Western clothes to Japanese women. And so from top to bottom, she was introduced to Western clothes, and of course she didn't know which one to wear first, so they were all numbered, "number 1, number 2, number 3," and so forth. And that was the last time she wore Japanese kimono.

RP: Did she share with you some of her feelings or opinions about America? Was it, she had difficulties fitting in, becoming a wife?

TH: Well, she was young, of course, but she had friends who had written her telling her that it was quite comfortable. And so I don't think she had any real apprehensions, maybe too young to even think about it.

RP: Now, one of the stories about these picture marriages was the guys would often send a picture of themselves about ten years, when they looked ten years younger than they really were?

TH: Yes, I've heard stories like that. But in the case of my mother and father, she knew who he was. And she's lucky my father was good-looking and a nice, kind man.

RP: There was no false advertising.

TH: No, no false advertising.

RP: The real thing. And your mom also came from...

TH: Fukuoka, yes.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Tell us about your siblings. Maybe you can list them starting with the oldest first and their American and Japanese name?

TH: Yes. I'm one of five, the middle child. My oldest brother, firstborn, was fifteen years old when my father took us to Japan, the whole family unit of (eight) of us to tour Japan and to visit relatives. And my brother, who was fifteen at the time, decided he was going to stay in Japan to study because he realized that his opportunities in the U.S. was very few. And so he looked to getting an education in Japan for his future, and so he stayed of his own volition. My father and mother encouraged him to come home with us, but he decided to stay, and he was caught during the war in Japan. And he, of course, was struggling because he had no funds. But in the university where he was attending, he looked for some kind of a scholarship and he found something that was offered by the Manchurian railway. Now, he took it. And so the Manchurian railway gave him the scholarship, and he was exempt from the army, and he graduated the year the atom bomb was dropped. And so he had no more obligations to the Manchurian railway, so he was fortunate in that respect. And he came home after the war and joined us, and that was my oldest brother. My sister and I relocated to New York City just to get out of camp, because camp had become such a stifling place with no future. And because my brother Jim, younger than I, was in Connecticut attending university, he met a fellow who had a nursery in Long Island, and they became good friends, and his friend invited him to come to work and visit during Christmas vacation and spring break, and he did, and Jim met the family, (the Yamaguchis). And the family asked Jim all kinds of questions about camp. They happened to be Japanese Americans, and they invited my sister Mary and myself to Long Island, and they would be our sponsors. We had no job offered to us, so we had to have a sponsor to get out of camp, which we did. And that was in June of 1944.

RP: So there was Nobu was your oldest brother?

TH: Nobu was the oldest brother.

RP: And then there was Mary.

TH: Mary, and then myself, and then Jim, who went to university, and Kei. Kei was still in high school at the time. And in our family group we had a grandmother, my father's mother, who was sixty-four when we entered camp. And that was our family unit. Of course, my uncle who my father raised, he and his wife and their baby girl, we were one family group, number 21835.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: What was life like for your grandmother in the United States?

TH: My grandmother (Haru) was born in 1875, and unfortunately, she did not have an education in Japan, she was illiterate. Couldn't read Japanese. She labored most of her life at the family farm. And so when war broke out and we went to the relocation centers, she renewed her health, and she studied Japanese. My father wrote out simple katakana and hiragana characters, and she read them, and so every opportunity she got to read a Japanese newspaper or a magazine, she was reading.

RP: So the whole world opened up to her.

TH: A world opened up to her.

RP: What values did your parents try to instill?

TH: They tried hard, bless 'em. The usual: gratitude, honesty, work hard, study hard, honor your parents, etcetera.

RP: How were they with you kids? Were they pretty strict?

TH: Excuse me?

RP: Were they very strict? Was your upbringing pretty...

TH: No, I don't think so. I think they were pretty reasonable, which I appreciate.

RP: So your father stayed involved in agriculture until about 1938 when you moved to Redwood City?

TH: Yes. We were, at that time he changed his business, and we were now engaged in the flower growing business in Redwood City. And it was very comfortable for us because we lived in a little Japanese community of flower growers, of like flower growers. And Redwood City was very, very friendly to us, so we were very comfortable.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: What are some of your earliest memories of growing up? First in Santa Clara area as a kid.

TH: Santa Clara at that time was the Valley of Heart's Delight. Known for its pretty scenery in the spring when the fruit blossoms were in full bloom. And we lived in a community in my grade school years anyway, of mainly white people. And we were, I didn't feel any different.

RP: Did you have a Japanese American community in Santa Clara?

TH: Yes, we did. We went to the Buddhist church in San Jose, and of course we attended most of the community activities together. I would say it was fun years.

RP: And language school was a part of your upbringing?

TH: Yes, yes. We all attended Japanese language school. I don't think I put my heart and soul into it, but it's something we all did.

RP: And did you learn to read and write Japanese?

TH: Yes.

RP: And how far did you get?

TH: I hate to say. [Laughs] But anyway, we did not speak Japanese amongst the siblings, my father spoke to us in English.

RP: At home, too?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Where was language school located in Santa Clara?

TH: Where was language school located? We went to a language school nearby called Agnew Japanese Language School. And so it took in a community of about, oh, maybe a radius of about five miles or so, but Japanese farmers mainly, orchardists.

RP: And do you recall if your teachers were from Japan or were they folks, Isseis who had been in this country?

TH: Well, of course the Japanese teachers had to have their education in Japan, but we were fortunate in having a Japanese language teacher who was also attending local University of Santa Clara and so he spoke English, too. But of course he tried to teach us Japanese.

RP: Was the school kind of the core of social activities as well as to...

TH: Oh, yes. Our social activities, we had school races and school picnics. And because we went to our Japanese school after spending, what, (six) hours at our regular public schools, it was kind of a get-together session with our other Japanese friends.

RP: Do you know how the schools were financed? One gentleman yesterday was telling us that all the farmers would kick in a certain amount of money every month.

TH: Well, of course, yes. We had to pay the teacher's salary and give him housing.

RP: Was your father involved in community activities?

TH: Not really. He was very supportive of the Japanese language school we went to and even while we were in public school, my father attended all our open houses and was very supportive of us.

RP: How about holidays? Do you celebrate both American and Japanese?

TH: Yes we did. Yes we did. We celebrated, of course, Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and the American holidays, but we also celebrated New Year's especially in the Japanese, traditional Japanese style.

RP: Was Girl's Day a big day for you? Girl's Day? Was that celebrated?

TH: Yes. Girl's Day was big. We dressed in kimonos, played battledore and shuttlecock, ate pink mochi.

RP: That sounds like a great time.

TH: Yes, it was.

RP: Was there a Nihonmachi in the Santa Clara area?

TH: Not in Santa Clara. Nihonmachi was in San Jose, which is about, what, five, seven miles away? That was the hub of our activities with the Japanese community because the Japanese church was located there, Japantown, the tofu factory.

RP: How often would you visit that area?

TH: We went to Sunday school as children, so it was once a week for that. And, of course, for our parents it was... and I went to the movies, Japanese movies and activities at the church.

RP: You also took a number of trips to visit family and friends?

TH: Yes. Motor trips to, we had some relatives living in Monterey, we had friends in Petaluma, Belmont, Dinuba in the valley. So my father was good about taking us places. He took us to the circus, he took us to the zoo in San Francisco and across the Bay Bridge when it was first built, so we had a lot of fun experiences.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: And what, what grammar school did you attend?

TH: Grammar school, Santa Clara, the city of Santa Clara had a grammar school called Fremont school. And then to intermediate school for my middle years, and when I graduated intermediate school we moved to San Mateo for my father to start a new business.

RP: And what was that?

TH: 1939. Then we moved to Redwood City a year and a half later, so we've been in Redwood City since.

RP: And you were one of three Japanese families?

TH: About three Japanese families in Santa Clara that attended the local public schools.

RP: What type of student were you?

TH: You might not believe this, but I was good student.

RP: How about your personality as you were growing up? Were you outgoing, introspective, shy?

TH: I was a tomboy. I played with my younger brothers most of the time.

RP: What did you like to play? What did you play, sports?

TH: Oh, we played Kick the Can, we played Land, where you take your pocketknife and you drop it into the soil and you mark your territory. And flew kites, made kites, flew them. I enjoyed it all.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Now, when your father got into this flower growing business, did he have help financially just to get started with that? Or was he a very thrifty man who saved his money?

TH: My father was a pretty thrifty man. He was a good businessman, so I think he was able to start. And, of course, one of the reason he wanted to start a business was he saw his family growing up, and we were his labor source. And the flower-growing was, at that time we were in chrysanthemums, and most of the work was, labor was done during the summer months so we were able to help. [Laughs]

RP: And what did you do to help out?

TH: Well, there's such a thing called disbudding of the flowers. When you wanted just one large chrysanthemum to bloom at the top, you had to disbud the local shoots, the suckers, and that was our job. And we tied them to the stakes, and there was a lot of jobs for us.

RP: How many acres was your father farming? How many acres of flowers did you have?

TH: Oh, the flowers, when we came to Redwood City the first time, he bought the property. This was 5 acres in Redwood City.

RP: Now, there were these alien land laws, but people got around that?

TH: His brother had just turned twenty-one, he bought it in his brother's name.

RP: And what was his brother's name?

TH: George.

RP: And your father had never grown flowers before, had he?

TH: He had never grown flowers, but he had a very good friend who lived in Belmont, (Mr. Nagatoishi), who was in the chrysanthemum business, and this man was so kind to him to show him how. And so it's been pretty, it was pretty successful at that time.

RP: And so he specialized just in chrysanthemums?

TH: Yes, chrysanthemums. At that time it was only chrysanthemums.

RP: Where would he market his flowers?

TH: Well, it was sold in the San Francisco flower market, or we had flower shippers come directly to us 'cause we were in the wholesale business to buy the flowers, and they were shipped throughout the country.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: You talked a little bit about the Santa Clara community, how about the Redwood City community? You said it was very friendly, very receptive to Japanese Americans?

TH: Yes. Redwood City, we did not feel any animosity, at least I didn't. And so we were very comfortable going to Sequoia High School. We were very, very open with the teachers, we had our own club, and it was really very, very friendly.

RP: What kind of club did you have?

TH: The club was a Japanese American students club. And we had, let's see, the year I was there, about maybe forty students as members of the Japanese American students club, and we had our socials. But we were recognized as a legitimate club in school.

RP: It sounds like the Japanese Americans had kind an ethnic niche on the flower-growing business in the Redwood City area. There were predominately Japanese Americans growing flowers?

TH: Yes, predominately Japanese Americans. So we lived in a community called Horgan Ranch, and each, there were about eight families living there, and each one owned his own plot of land, say anywhere from five to ten acres. So it was a community that was very close-knit. And we were very comfortable.

RP: Did the flower growers form a cooperative or any type of...

TH: Yes, we had a cooperative.

RP: And that's how they used to cooperative to market their...

TH: Well, we did individually. However, we were able to buy supplies as a cooperative.

RP: Your father had tractors and all types of...

TH: Well, in this particular farm, we didn't need the large tractors, so everybody had rotor tillers, but whenever we had to have a large piece of, plot of land plowed, we hired a commercial plower, (Frank Osorio).

RP: How about water? Was that purchased from the city, Redwood City?

TH: Yes. Water was purchased from the city, and it's good water. Hetch Hetchy water.

RP: Can you describe the house that you lived in on this flower farm?

TH: Okay. Before the war, we lived in a very small house on the property. We had some, a flush toilet, but we had a Japanese-style bath, a furo. And so we were used to it, it was comfortable. But to my mother and father, they wanted more, so after we came back from camp we all worked hard to build the house.

RP: And in high school, did you, were you involved in sports or scholastic clubs? You said you were a very good student.

TH: Oh, I was a good student, as I said before. But my courses were not difficult because I was in a general course as I said before. My father thought that we would be better off just planning to be good housewives. But we did... I did not participate in any after school sports, 'cause we had to come home and work or go to Japanese school.

RP: Can you tell us why your father had the attitude that he did about the girls becoming just housewives?

TH: Yes. There was no future for Japanese girls in the workplace. I might have mentioned before to you about the four daughters this friend of his had, and we were college graduates, could not find a job anywhere. This was before the war, of course. After the war, it was a little bit easier, but still there were some drawbacks. For example, my sister and I, when we came from camps, and we weren't fully engaged in our business yet, we applied for several service jobs with the U.S. Navy, that had offices in San Francisco. But they said we may find jobs there.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: Tami, we were talking about your... well, just about trying to break into service jobs. When you came back to the Bay Area, can you share with us your efforts?

TH: Yes. My sister and I applied for civil service jobs with the navy in San Francisco. We didn't hear from them for about a month, and finally they sent a man out to interview us. Now, this man said, "You must come down to the U.S. post office, local post office. In this room, we will interrogate you separately." And the interrogation was so simple and so idiotic, like, "Were you born here?" I mean, that was, everything was in the application, of course. We finally found out that we were not accepted, for what reason, I don't know.

RP: Did you have any speculation about why you wouldn't...

TH: No. No, but still I felt that, uh-huh, we were still under suspicion.

RP: Did that change a little later on in your life? Did you have opportunities to...

TH: By then, my father had gotten back into the business, to a point where my sister and I would be of help to him. And so we dropped all those other ideas of looking for a job elsewhere.

RP: While you were attending high school, maybe after you graduated, what aspirations did you have? If you could have gotten into a professional field or anything, what did you want to do?

TH: Well, you know, I really didn't get that far, because I thought my future was still, you know, as a helpmate. Thinking back on it now, I wish I had gone on to something else, but then... like a National Park ranger.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Just another couple of questions about this trip that your father took the entire family to Japan. Do you know what year that was? How old were you?

TH: Yes. My father took the whole family to Japan in 1935. We stayed five months in Japan. And at the end of five months, that was when Japan was really showing its militaristic tendencies, and the military is taking over the country, and there was a, some kind of an incident in Japan in February of 1936. And my father said, "Oh, we must get back to the U.S. immediately." And so we came back and left Nobu behind.

RP: Was that... Nobu's decision, sort of sudden decision to stay in Japan. Did that initiate a lot of discussion between your father and him? Was it kind of a confrontational situation?

TH: No, I don't think there was. My father and mother trusted Nobu, that was his decision and he was going to stay with it. And so they let him stay. Of course, he was criticized by his friends for doing that, but it turned out okay.

RP: Did you hire other help? I know you had your own family labor force, but did you hire seasonal help on the flower farm at all?

TH: Actually, we had a Filipino man, (Delfino Montecalvo), who lived on the premises, and he was a very good employee. And my father was very fond of him and vice versa.

RP: Did you have, were you taking newspapers, or did you have radio at your house? I mean, how much did you keep up with events in the world, especially towards the later part of the '30s?

TH: We were great radio fans, and of course we took the San Francisco Chronicle since the time we moved up to the Bay Area. And the Japanese American dailies as well, and Life Magazine.

RP: And so you graduated from Sequoia High?

TH: Yes, I graduated from Sequoia High in 1941.

RP: June? What month?

TH: June.

RP: So were your parents and you aware of the collision course that the United States and Japan were on?

TH: I think my father, of course, he's reading the papers and listening to the radio and talking with other people, he was very aware that something bad could possibly happen, but of course, I was oblivious to it.


RP: Tamiko, you had talked about this, this student club you had, a Japanese American Student Club at the high school. Were you also aware of the Japanese American Citizens League at that time, and did they have a chapter in the Bay Area?

TH: At that time, I was not a member of the Japanese American Citizens League. Of course, I was too young for that, but they were not as strong then as I recall. The Japanese American Students Club in Sequoia High School was strictly a social club and a service club. And that was it.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: What do you remember about December 7, 1941?

TH: December 7, 1941, was an unbelievable day. Something I thought would never happen, of course, we never dreamed of anything like that happening. But I know the relations between U.S. and Japan were, was pretty bad at the time. Just couldn't believe that that happened. Shocking. And of course, first thing that came to my mother and father's mind was Nobu. Was he safe, was he okay? And was he... they knew that he was not in the army at that time. But after that, they didn't know what happened anyway. So there's a lot of unanswered questions that day.

RP: When was the next time that you got correspondence, heard from Nobu?

TH: About in 1943 or '4, 1944, early part of 1944, my parents finally got word from the, two of the International Red Cross that my brother was safe. He was still a student, and so they were very relieved about that.

RP: After Pearl Harbor, there were a number of restrictions that were placed on Japanese Americans.

TH: Yes. It kind of hampered our social life. We had a curfew, of course, we had to be in between the hours of eight at night to six in the morning, and couldn't travel beyond a radius of fifteen miles. I don't know if it was even fifteen miles, but anyway... we had restrictions.

RP: Did you, were you still able to go out and attend movies and events and things?

TH: I'm sorry?

RP: Did you still, were you still able to go out and attend social events?

TH: Yes, we did. We visited our friends. Fortunately, we had close friends nearby, and so we visited with them. Went to some movies, but tried not to go to highly, shall we say, events that could possibly be uncomfortable for us.

RP: Were you aware of Issei community leaders being rounded up by the FBI?

TH: Yes. That was the first thing that happened after Pearl Harbor was this burst of news saying, "Did you know that the FBI had picked up so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so?" And fortunately, my father was not one of them.

RP: Were, did the FBI ever visit your home?

TH: No, the FBI did not come to our home. My father was apparently not on their list.

RP: But you knew others that were? You knew other men that were picked up?

TH: Yes, but they were active in the community, and maybe had ties to some pro-Japan groups.

RP: What about, let's see, had you already graduated by the time the war broke out?

TH: Yes.

RP: Do you recall any acts of violence against Japanese Americans in...

TH: There was no recorded violence against Japanese Americans in the community of Redwood City. But we, as I said before, we stayed away from a lot of downtown activities.

RP: Was there a concern on your part as to what was going to happen to Japanese Americans? Or were you aware of some of the propaganda?

TH: We were aware of the propaganda, yes, and it was uncomfortable, but we kept our mouths shut and just tried to avoid any confrontation. But there was none that I know of.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: When did you learn of the... about an evacuation order for your...

TH: About in February, I think is when we finally found out about our possible future. Until then, my father thought perhaps he and my mother and my grandmother, because they were aliens, may be sent somewhere else, but he never thought his children, the citizens, would ever be incarcerated.

RP: So that was quite a shock.

TH: That was the shock, that was a shock.

RP: You were included.

TH: Yeah, so he felt sorry for us, but I felt sorry for my mother and father as well, that they had to go through this. We thought, well, we were young, we're strong, we can bear it somehow. But for my father and mother, after they worked so hard, I really felt sorry for them.

RP: How did your family prepare for the forced removal that came about?

TH: I don't know how they did it, but like everybody else, we could only take what we could carry. Fortunately, we were all healthy and we didn't have any special needs, so we were able to carry our, what we thought we needed, which included bedding, eating utensils, and of course, our clothing and any other things we needed that was essential. That I think what my mother and father did was very smart in that we had some late model cars, and I remember them saying, "Well, we need these cars when we get back, so let's store them." I thought, "Store them? What are they going to do?" Well, they took the tires off, drained all the oil out of the cars, motors. So when they came back and they restarted the cars again and went downtown shopping with car that's in good shape with good tires, the people downtown were jealous that we had such good tires on the cars.

RP: How did you, or how did your parents deal with the flower farm? How did they, how did they work out with that?

TH: What was that again, please?

RP: How did, what arrangements did you make to, for the flower farm?

TH: The flower business, most of our business was, the financial part of it was through the bank, local bank. And the local banker, who was very sympathetic to our cause, was very good about being very careful that all of our taxes were paid. And that people who leased the business and the land, would get paid. And so we are very secure knowing that we had a place to come back to.

RP: And that gentleman's name?

TH: Was, that gentleman's name was J-period-E-period Morrish. M-O-R-R-I-S-H.

RP: And he did this to not only your property but other family property?

TH: Yes, most of the flower growers.

RP: And roughly how many flower growers would there have been at the time that...

TH: You know, I'm not sure. Maybe thirty. I'm not sure.

RP: And who did you find to lease the property while you were...

TH: We had a flower shipper whom we did business with, a Chinese fellow named Harry Lee, and he agreed to, he needed the flowers for his business, too. So with his crew, he grew flowers. And when we returned, we had our business back.

RP: Now, another act that was taken after the war broke out was to freeze the assets of Isseis, I guess, assets that were in Japanese banks at the time.

TH: I'm sorry?

RP: The assets of the Issei were frozen?

TH: Yes.

RP: In the Japanese banks?

TH: Yes.

RP: But eventually they were unfrozen.

TH: Yes. I don't know exactly where my father, if he had funds in the Japanese bank, but the local bank, J.E. Morrish First National Bank, of which he was their representative, was able to help us out again and restart the business.

RP: Mr. Morrish was quite a story. What do you think motivated him to take an action like that?

TH: I don't know, but I would say he was a humanitarian. We owe him. And the community, the flower grower community rewarded him and his wife with a trip to Japan. And several years ago we had a big celebration using the church facilities to honor him and his family. He was gone by then, but his family. But a lot of the flower growers came to pay their respects.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Where were you, where were you sent first? Or actually, before we ask that question, tell me where did you have to assemble to go to the assembly center?

TH: Our assembly center was Tanforan racetrack, which is located fifteen miles away from home. And, of course, the racetrack was still in business when the war broke out, but they hastily made that into our assembly center, because it has a railroad siding so that they could whisk us out again later.

RP: Do you remember the day that you left to go to Tanforan?

TH: We left to go to Tanforan on May 9, 1942.

RP: And where did you gather?

TH: We gathered at the Horgan Ranch where the Japanese flower growers had their properties. And so we gathered at a place where it was not really public, so we didn't have people gawking at us or saying anything. And it was a very quiet trip to Tanforan. All of us were still in a state of shock. So there wasn't much conversation going on.

RP: Did you travel there by bus?

TH: Yes, bus.

RP: And do you recall any of the emotions or feelings that you had on that trip over there or during that day?

TH: Yes. Of course, when we entered the gate we knew it was pretty vile, I could say. When you entered the gates, and the soldier, armed soldiers standing guard and there's barbed wire fences all around, we thought, "Well, this is it." And again, I felt sorry for my mother and father. And while we're at our first mess after we were, men were separated from the women, we went through very perfunctory health checks, we had our meal, our first meal, and it was sad to see my mother holding out a plate. Because she always thought that holding a plate in your hand and asking for food was begging. She had seen newsreels of the, at that time, before that, during the Great Depression, how people had to line up with a plate in hand and beg for food, and so for her it was humiliating, it was just degrading. That look on her face said it all. But we had two pieces of sausage, this canned sausage, Vienna sausage, two pieces of canned Vienna sausage, one boiled potato, and some canned spinach that was yellow green, and a piece of bread.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Tamiko Honda. And Tami, you were just describing some of your first impressions of your first meal at Tanforan. Did it get any better?

TH: I don't believe we really said, "Oh, this is delicious," but we realized it was a hastily set up situation. And our food rations at that time was, the food budget was probably about thirty cents a day for each individual. The thing about Tanforan is, you've heard from others, too, that those of us in the horse stalls were really aghast at the setting. It was smelly. If you swept in the corners, manure would come out. The walls were only about seven feet high, and there were knotholes in between the partitions, so there was no privacy at all. There must have been about 250 in that one horse stall barrack with about, oh, I don't know, forty or so tiny apartments. And so two of the rafters, everything can be heard. There was no privacy. Babies crying, I remember one... first night, I heard a child saying, "I don't like this place, Mom. Can we go home?" And, of course, sobs, but that sob continued throughout the whole stall, the whole building. But it was quite an experience.

RP: Had you ever seen so many Japanese Americans in your life?

TH: [Laughs] I had never seen so many Japanese Americans in one place in all my life. And so we all had that same hangdog look, I guess, wondering, "What is going on here?"

RP: There were nine of you and you were assigned to two horse stalls?

TH: Yes. Each horse stall, they called it an apartment because it had an inner sanctum and an outer sanctum. And the inner sanctum was the original room where the horse, one horse with groom, it was about 9 x 9. And the front of that was his, where his fodder was, and he would stick his head out the window and eat his food there. And then they'd put up a temporary wall in front to make it a two-room apartment, but you could imagine how tiny that was. So we had two of those apartments for nine of us.

RP: And like you were mentioning, you'd see the manure when you swept the floor, and the stench of it?

TH: They hastily covered the dirt floor with a linoleum, but if you swept into the corners you'd get manure, little dead mice. It was not... and it smelled of Lysol.

RP: And so you were there for how long?

TH: Four months.

RP: How did you deal with that situation, lack of privacy, deplorable conditions?

TH: Like everybody else. We had to. We had no choice.

RP: Is shikata ga nai...

TH: Shikata ga nai, that was, that meant, "It can't be helped."

RP: Did you have anybody from the outside visit you in Tanforan?

TH: Yes. We had some teachers who were advisors of our Japanese Students Club visit us at Tanforan a couple times. And, of course, Harry Lee and his wife who were leasing our property, they brought us care packages. And so anything we wanted, we could ask them and they could bring it in, provided it wasn't contraband, of course. But we were very happy to see 'em. But we met them at the grandstand, 'cause Tanforan was a racetrack, and so it was a nice grandstand. So that was the meeting place.

RP: Did you have any responsibilities in the camp to work or volunteer?

TH: Not in Tanforan. It was a temporary place.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: So what did you do to pass the time in Tanforan?

TH: Oh, walk around the racetrack, go to the grandstand, watch the P-38s fly around there. We had the coldest summer I ever spent. It was so cold with the fog coming in every evening. We had movies, we had talent shows, baseball games, things like that, just to keep us busy.

RP: Your family remained in the horse stalls that whole four months?

TH: Yes, we did.

RP: And you had the address as Barrack (21), apartments (23) and (24)?

TH: I think it was.

RP: Did your parents or your siblings work in Tanforan? Have a job at all?

TH: No, not that I... oh, my uncle George was the barrack manager. His job was to take roll every evening and every morning. Visited every apartment and made sure that the head count was still there.

RP: Oh, a check.

TH: Yes.

RP: Was there also a curfew? Do you recall a curfew in the camp?

TH: Well, we had to be in our apartments at the time designated for the bed check, the head check. So I don't recall that -- at five o'clock, I think, in the evening, and eight in the morning or something like that. I'm not sure. But twice a day.

RP: So a very extremely regimented situation.

TH: Well, yes, it was.

RP: And did you eat in a common mess hall? Was there one large mess hall, or were there several scattered through the camp?

TH: Each, between each barrack, there was about a mess hall that would serve maybe 250 people, and a latrine, shower room, and laundry room. But those were not effective until about a week after we got into camp. And so latrine facilities were very, very strained, 'cause we had to go down to the grandstand until they built our local facilities.

RP: And those facilities were very temporary and very primitive.

TH: Yeah, very, very. Nobody was comfortable with them, of course. But we had to endure gang showers and gang toilets, and a long tin trough that served as a sink where we can wash up.

RP: Were you aware of guard towers? You mentioned...

TH: Of course. There was always that guard tower and the barbed wire fence.

RP: So were there times in Tanforan where you felt not like an American citizen but a prisoner?

TH: From the day one. From day one I felt like a prisoner.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: When did you leave Tanforan to go to Topaz?

TH: We left Tanforan on September 15, (1942), for Topaz. And it took two days to get to Utah by train. We were put into a real old early 1900 train with a straight-backed chair, and I think it was gaslight. But I knew we had two MPs on each car, and we had to pull the shades down and keep them down. And when we got to the Utah desert, there was a designated spot where they stopped the train, let us off, and we could walk around and shake our legs. Nothing in sight for miles, but it was designed that way, quote, "for our protection."

RP: That was the only time that the train stopped was that one...

TH: Yes.

RP: And were you confined to your particular car or could you walk...

TH: We were not allowed to go to other cars except during mess, when we were allowed to go to the dining car. And I can't remember what we ate then. It was, I'm sure, not memorable. But we were confined to our cars. If I remember, those seats folded down, and so there was four of us in our family group sitting opposite each other, we were able to make a bed somehow out of them and sleep like sardines, head and toe. So we wore the same clothes for two and a half days.

RP: Was there a restroom in each car?

TH: There was a restroom, but it was pretty foul.

RP: And the train went to Delta?

TH: Yes. Train went through Ogden and then went south through Utah to Delta.

RP: And you got off in Delta and then took a bus.

TH: Yes, then we took, not buses, trucks, army trucks, the canvas-covered trucks that we had to climb by way of a ladder, wooden ladder. But again, each truck had its own MP.

RP: With a rifle and a bayonet?

TH: Probably.

RP: So was Topaz any improvement over Tanforan?

TH: [Laughs] Well, I would say the only happy point when we entered Topaz was seeing my brother Jim's face. He had gone a week earlier to help set up the camp so we could, the rest of the family members can come. And so he was sunburned, red-nosed, 'cause he had done a lot of labor to make it easy for us to find our way.

RP: Where were you, what block and barrack were you assigned to?

TH: Our family was assigned to Block 5, (Barrack 5), Apartments C and D.

RP: And what impressions or feelings did you have those first few days in Topaz?

TH: Well, the vastness, the nothingness there in Topaz, dust storms, of course, and admonitions, be careful for the rattlesnakes and the scorpions.

RP: You just mentioned about Tanforan, that you felt like a prisoner the first day you entered there. Did you have a similar feeling about Topaz, and did you resolve yourself to, "I'm going to find a way to get out of here as soon as possible?"

TH: Topaz, at least, was a more open space, and the barbed wire fence was not right up against our block, our barracks, but they were there. The guard towers with the armed soldiers and the barbed wire fence, but it's a larger area, so I wasn't immediately aware of that.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: So what did you do at Topaz?

TH: Oh, at Topaz, I did get a job. I was working as a clerk typist in a warehouse office. And so I worked for my sixteen dollars a month.

RP: Your father also, father and mother...

TH: My father was, worked as a camp carpenter. And so he had privileges like getting scrap lumber, so he made us furniture. And my mother worked in the mess hall, and so she got used to the idea of people handing out, walking by with plates and looking like we need a handout. And of course Jim was a student, Kei was a student, and my sister and I both worked as clerk typists.

RP: In the warehouse?

TH: In the warehouse office, yes.

RP: So you worked with some of the administration, Caucasians who...

TH: I had no contract with any of the administrators. Oh, my supervisor was a Caucasian man, (Mr. Bennet) from the town of Delta, a very nice man.

RP: Was that the only Caucasian you --

TH: That was the only contact.

RP: Did you have a social life in camp at all?

TH: Oh, camp, we had our dances, we went to the movies, we did our shopping at the canteen, and we had our... people our age, my age, so I met a lot of people my age. So I had a little social life.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: You were fortunate that you could go out of camp and take an occasional visit to Delta. And what was your feeling on leaving camp that first time to go into Delta? How did you feel?

TH: I had gone out on little shopping trips to Delta. And then a few months after that, I saved up all of my money and went to Salt Lake City for a shopping spree. And I had friends living in Salt Lake City so they put me up for the night. But we were able to go shopping in Salt Lake City. This was towards the beginning of 1944. So we had a little bit more freedom then.

RP: Did you feel any apprehension on your first trip to Delta?

TH: No, I didn't. I did not feel any apprehension. The town was, I think we put Delta on the map. It was the second biggest town in Utah at that time, Topaz was. Delta was just a, really a one-horse rural town.

RP: And you shopped there?

TH: Well, shopped there, just simple groceries. But my biggest shopping spree was in Salt Lake City when I went to the department store called ZCMI and bought a coat.

RP: You bought some five-dollar shoes, too.

TH: Yes. We were wearing five-dollar shoes then, but we dressed alike because, of course, we bought clothes through the Sears-Roebuck catalog. That was our main source of outside wear clothing.

RP: At Manzanar, they gave people these peacoats and army, old khaki World War I uniforms. Did you see any of that in Topaz?

TH: Yes, we received World War I surplus mackinaws and navy peacoats, and so we all dressed alike. And the men even had leggings, so they wrapped these woolen, I guess, strips around their legs, and keep them warm and keep the snakes out and scorpions out.

RP: You said it was a very open place, but also very bleak, too. How are the, how did you adjust to the, coming from the Bay Area, a lot of vegetation, milder climate, and then you're in Topaz with the extremes of summer and winter.

TH: Well, it was bleak. It was cold, it was dusty, it was hot, it was everything we in the Bay Area did not experience before. But, you know, the desert sunsets are beautiful, and we saw a lot of that. And I think we had a white Christmas once, so that was new and it was fun. And the pond froze over and so the people who had ice skates were out there ice skating. So there were some new experiences.

RP: Were you one of those?

TH: No. I couldn't skate.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: You said that your dad made furniture for you in the barrack.

TH: Yes, my father made chest of drawers, he made chairs, he made an Adirondack chair, he made me a, he made my mother a little sewing box, and I have it here now. But he was quite clever and he was an industrious man, so he did that.

RP: Did he help other families as well? I mean, what else did he do with his carpentry skills in camp? Did he actually help build other structures?

TH: No. As a matter of fact, that carpentry group was formed. When we first went to Topaz, we did not have the inner wall, we just had it tarpapered, framework on the outside, and it was getting very, very cold. And so they got the sheet rock, and they installed the sheet rock in all the barracks before they froze to death. But that was his carpenter job.

RP: Do you also recall linoleum on the floor?

TH: Yes, we had to lay it. They laid masonite on the floors.

RP: You remember what color the flooring was?

TH: Brown, ugly brown.

RP: Do you recall any other improvements that you saw in your barrack, your room?

TH: Aside from the furniture that my father made, there was nothing else. Of course, my mother was, by then, was into making crafts out of old shells, seashells that were found on the desert floor there, 'cause it was once a sea. And so she got into that, of course, she was knitting, of course. They kept busy.

RP: Did you take up any hobbies or arts and crafts?

TH: I did. I took up knitting also.

RP: Did you try your hand at the shell jewelry?

TH: No, I did not make the shell jewelry. My mother also took ikebana, which was, I don't know where they got the flowers, but they could make beauty and arrangement out of anything, any desert twig, whole rock or anything.

RP: Do you recall efforts to beautify the camp? Gardens or planting trees?

TH: My family didn't have the, shall we say, the talent for that, but there were a lot of landscape artists in the camps. And they made beautiful gardens using what they found locally, and carrying buckets of water out of the laundry rooms to water the plants, and some people tried to grow vegetables, but actually, the alkaline soil there was just not conducive to growing vegetables, nice fresh stuff.

RP: Your grandmother, you'd mentioned she was able to learn to read and write in Japanese, and that happened at Topaz?

TH: That happened in Topaz, 'cause she had plenty of time then.

RP: Now, did she take classes at all?

TH: No, my grandmother did not take up any crafts, but she went to church regularly.

RP: And what did you have at Topaz? Did you see a Buddhist church?

TH: Yes, there were Buddhist church, and of course, Christian churches. They were quite active.

RP: Did the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" have an impact on your family?

TH: You know, that wasn't a big problem in our family because we knew in our hearts how we felt about it. And we pretty much agreed to be "yes-yes."

RP: Your family never, your parents had, never any plans to, for your father to go back to Japan?

TH: No, no plan at all.

RP: Topaz was characterized as a pretty tame camp, but there were some incidents, one of which was the shooting of a elderly Issei man.

TH: Yes, that was unfortunate. From what I understand, it's the Issei man had a dog that he loved dearly, and he would walk the dog. And this man was hard of hearing, and the dog was getting too close to the guard towers, and he called the dog. But anyway, the sentry shot the man, killed him. And that was the biggest incident in Topaz as I recall.

RP: Were there any demonstrations or outward signs of disgust with that, other than people who were grumbling about it?

TH: Oh, there was a lot of grumbling. I don't think it came to a riot, but there was a lot of complaints and grumbling.

RP: How about rumors in camp?

TH: There were rumors everywhere. You just have to sort it out, take it for what it's worth. But what else could they do in camp but think of these things? It would go like wildfire at times.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So when, when in your time at Topaz did you begin to realize you were stagnating and needed a change? When did that...

TH: Well, people were leaving the camp. My friends, a lot of my young friends were leaving the camp because they had job offers in Cleveland or Chicago or you name it, someplace, they had legitimate job offer and they left. I didn't have a job offer. And I thought, "I'm really stagnating here. I've got to get out." And that's when the opportunity arose, and so my sister and I quickly left camp with my father and mother's blessings, of course.

RP: And you traveled to Ozone Park?

TH: Yes, Ozone Park is in Long Island.

RP: This was... was this the first time you'd ever been out on your own?

TH: Yes, yes. So it was an adventure, but I'm glad we did it and I'm glad we experienced what we experienced. Learned to love the theater, Broadway plays, Radio City Music Hall and things that we were never exposed to before.

RP: Tell us about the, your trip from Topaz to New York.

TH: The trip from Topaz to New York took a few days, more than a few days. We were stranded in Iowa because of a flood, this was in June. And so we had a twelve-hour delay and reached Chicago quite late. We were supposed to meet with friends there. We cut that short, then when we went to New York, we just told our friends, the Yamaguchis, that we would be arriving in New York at such and such a time. Well, I didn't know that New York had two railroad stations, Long Island, I mean, Grand Central Station and Penn Station. So they went to two stations to look for us. But we made it, but it was really nice to see people welcome us. And we were able to freely walk the streets. But I have to tell you one incident, this happened about a month after I had been in New York. I was waiting for the subway train, and a woman kept staring at me and staring at me, and she finally approached me and she said, "Who are you?" I was taken aback, so I couldn't answer. And she said, "Where did you come from?" I said, "California." She said, "But you speak English."

RP: And that was the end of the conversation?

TH: Well, I finally -- in fact, she says, when she asked, "What are you?" and I looked at her blankly, "What race are you?" That's when I said, "I'm Japanese American." "But you speak English."

RP: So you were sponsored by the Yamaguchis, and where did you find work in New York?

TH: Oh, so through the War Relocation office, I forgot what the name of, official name of that office was. We had to report there when we reached New York. They had an employment department, and through them I was able to get a job working for Le Atelier Chic, that is a shop that made very fancy French-style accessories like French-style, I mean, cute little cocktail aprons, cute little lace doily boxes and things that the average person wouldn't even look at. But this was a very small company run by a refugee couple, German refugee couple who came to the U.S. just two years prior to that, and they started this little business. And they were very, very sympathetic to me and my other Japanese friend who worked there. And besides the two of us, there was only one black girl and another Caucasian girl who worked in the place. And the interesting thing about this is this black girl was not able to ride that elevator to the fifth floor where the lofts shop was. She had to climb the stairs. Not because her bosses said so, but because the black elevator man said, "Fannie, you don't belong here. You walk up the stairs." We had a ride every day up and down, but she had to walk it.

RP: So you went from a sixteen dollar a month salary to twenty-five dollars a week.

TH: [Laughs] I got the big salary of twenty-five dollars a week. And I had to set aside five dollars for the rent, five dollars for the food we had in our community kitchen, and five dollars for my lunch money. And then I had some leftover, that's what we spent on the shows and things. And the kosher delis. I loved the, I loved the kosher delis. That was new to me.

RP: A country girl in Manhattan? A country girl in Manhattan?

TH: Oh, yeah. I mean, here I was, this country bumpkin, going to Manhattan. I learned to walk very fast in the city, and keep my elbows out, especially in the subways, so that I can just turn my body around and free myself of a lot of things.

RP: And your sister Mary, was she, she was with you, right?

TH: Yes. We went together. She worked in a couterier shop. But as soon as California opened up, we came home.

RP: March 1945?

TH: Yes. Oh, but I have to tell you, when we went to report at the relocation office in New York City, we were admonished not to congregate as Japanese people. "Don't get together in the street and make a group. Be very discreet." We were.

RP: Did you come across other Japanese Americans who had left camp in New York?

TH: Yes. New York wasn't that popular a destination for the people out of camp, because I said before, jobs were, there weren't any real job offers like there were in Cleveland and in Chicago and the Midwest had better job offers.

RP: So what happened to the rest of your family during this time? Did they all remain in Topaz?

TH: In 1944, my uncle (George) and his wife (Tamaye) and daughter (Carol) left to work in Nebraska in an ordinance depot. My father was in and out of camp as a seasonal worker. Jim was, of course, in school, (UConn), that left my mother, my grandmother, and my younger brother Kei in camp. And before we came back to California, my sister and I stopped in Topaz and we came home together as a family unit. My brother Jim and my father had a pickup truck they drove home from Topaz to Redwood City, and so they met us at San Francisco at the Ferry Building where we came home by train from Topaz. So we're finally together in 1945.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: Tami, you mentioned that the WRA office in New York told you that you shouldn't gather with large numbers of other Japanese Americans. Were there any other statements or advice that they had to share with you about how to conduct yourself?

TH: Other than not making yourself an obvious group, but there were no other admonitions. We could go wherever we wanted to, but don't gather as a large group, as a conspicuous group.

RP: Did you have to report any changes in your situation to the office?

TH: No, no. We just reported when we wanted to come home again, when it was open for us to come home. Then we checked in with them, and we were given twenty-five dollars to come home, and a ticket home.

RP: Is that what you got when you left Topaz, too?

TH: Yes. When we left Topaz, we each got twenty-five dollars and a ticket.

KP: And you got the same when you left New York? When you left New York?

TH: When we left New York it was the same. We got twenty-five dollars and a train ticket.

RP: I'm sorry, my memory may be getting shorter as we conduct this interview, but was the WRA instrumental in helping you find this job? This sewing job?

TH: Yes, they had an employment office there.

RP: And this was the only job that you held in New York?

TH: I had a... this was it, I guess. I was only there in New York, what, eight months?

RP: What was it like to come back to Redwood City?

TH: Pure joy.

RP: Tell us, maybe kind of lead us through the first days and weeks of your return to Redwood City. Who came to welcome you or support you those first couple of days and weeks?

TH: As I recall, we came home rather quietly. We didn't want to attract a lot of attention, but it was really nice that our car was in good working order and we can go to the store and shop for our groceries and anything else we needed. We felt very secure.

RP: Did Mr. Morrish visit you?

TH: Yes, he did. So it was nice to see him, and, of course, Harry Lee and our Filipino man who was working for my father before the war. So it was nice to see old friends again.

RP: Had Mr. Morrish sent you money while you were in Topaz?

TH: I don't think so, but anytime my father needed funds, I'm sure that he was able to get them from whatever account he had there.

RP: Were you able to return to your residence right away when you came back to Redwood City?

TH: Yes, 'cause Harry Lee's employees were living there. But they left soon after, after we decided to come home.

RP: And did the other, the other families that were part of the Horgan Ranch also return? Or what, how did their lives change, do you know?

TH: Everybody returned to Horgan Ranch, yes.

RP: So as a group, you were very fortunate.

TH: We were very fortunate. We had scattered to different camps and different areas, but as soon as the war was over and California was open to us again, they came back.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KP: Can I ask one question? It sounds like your father and your family were pretty well-informed before the war. You had radio, listened to radio, you received the San Francisco Chronicle, kind of stayed up on world events. When you came back, this was before the war ended, correct? When you came back to Redwood City?

TH: Yes, yes.

KP: And so... did your family, did your father still follow the world events and the course of the war at that time?

TH: Of course, yes. We read the newspaper daily, listened to the radio. So I would say my father was well-informed.

KP: And another thing that happened at that time... when did that happen? When FDR died?

TH: Oh, when FDR died, that was in about February of... of 1944. I think it was in the spring. And FDR was responsible for putting us behind barbed wires.

KP: So what did you and your family think?

TH: Well, he was getting old, he was sick.

KP: So also following world events, by the time we got into late summer of 1945, they dropped the atomic bombs. Was there any discussion in your family about that?

TH: Yes, of course. Fortunately, we didn't have any family relatives in Hiroshima. But I guess that in a lot of the Isseis' eyes was akin to Pearl Harbor to the Americans.

KP: And your brother was in what part of...

TH: Okay, my brother was in Japan in Kyushu, in the southern island. He was attending the university in Fukuoka.

RP: When did he officially return back to the United States?

TH: He came back in 1946.

RP: And did he share his experiences with you?

TH: Oh, yes.

RP: And what did he have to say about it? What was his life like during the war in Japan?

TH: Yes, it's interesting, he himself wrote a memo -- I mean, not a memo -- a memorial... I can't think of the word.

RP: A journal or diary?

TH: Yeah, yeah. He wrote one several years ago about his experiences during the war, and it was quite interesting. We didn't know what had happened to him, of course. My mother and father were worried about him, and without funds he was left in Japan. But fortunately, things worked out well for him.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: Oh, we were talking about your brother's experiences in Japan.

TH: Oh, yes. Of course, it wasn't a bed of roses for him, either. A lot of the Japanese Americans who were caught in Japan during that time were drafted and did serve in the army. So he felt very, very lucky that he was not. But he did experience a lot of hunger, because food was getting very, very short, and he knew that -- Japan was losing the war, and he knew that they were doomed. So I don't know, exactly how he felt about the bomb dropping, but it did end the war. I mean, it was gonna end anyway, pretty soon, because they were starving.

RP: What was his adjustment to the U.S. like coming back from Japan?

TH: When he came back from Japan, of course, he was a guy who never worked in the fields with his hands. And so he knew this was not his future, and my father quickly learned that, too. And so my father told him to go to Chicago, go to university there, follow up, or get a job. Anyway, so Nobu did go to Chicago in 1947, '46. End of '46. Anyway, he was able to find a job there, and came back to California about in 1951 or '2.

RP: Did he stay, did he settle in the Redwood City area, or was he somewhere else?

TH: Yes, he got a job at Lockheed. He was an engineer, a chemical engineer. So he had something to do, some work with the rockets. So he had an interesting life.

RP: How did you and the rest of your brothers and sisters relate to him? Was it, was there a little bit of a distance?

TH: No, I don't think so. Of course, he didn't fit into our family lifestyle, because we were flower growers working with our hands, and he worked with his brains. And so that was about it. But to this day, all five of us are very, very close to each other. Fortunately, we live close, so I feel a real sense of support from them.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: Your father just got right back into growing chrysanthemums?

TH: Oh, yes, yes. My father, and in partnership with his brother.

RP: And the rest of the family kind of...

TH: Helped along.

RP: ...helped out.

TH: Uh-huh. We all did it, we all worked.

RP: And how successful was the business after the war?

TH: Essential. Essential in that we made a good living. And we were respected in the area, because the flower growing business in San Mateo county was a huge, huge industry that brought a lot of attention to the county, and we were known as the flower growing capital of the country. Participated in local Fourth of July parades and other celebrations, so we're very well-respected in the community. So we felt very comfortable.

KP: Can I ask a question? You talked about that after Pearl Harbor, that you had to keep a low profile, and you wouldn't go out and kind of go downtown and stuff like that. When you went to New York, the WRA said, "Keep a low profile. Don't gather in groups." When you first came back here, there was probably some hesitancy about... you know, you said you didn't want to stand out. When did you feel that you part of the community again and didn't have to back off and keep a low profile? Did that ever happen? Do you remember that change?

TH: Oh, I think after I got married, started a family, and my children (Susan and Patti) were going to an all-white school, and they wanted participation. And I didn't want my children to miss out on any of that. So I felt like, hey, we're part of the community.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

RP: You got married in 1951?

TH: Yes.

RP: And your husband's -- oh, was he also in a camp?

TH: Yes, he, (Hiroshi Honda), was in camp. He also served in the army, and he also came, he was in the flower growers business, so for me it was not that big a change in lifestyle.

RP: Where was he incarcerated at?

TH: Topaz. Yes, he was a Redwood City resident.

RP: Did you know him?

TH: Yes.

RP: Previously?

TH: We went to school together.

RP: You didn't do any dating in Topaz, did you?

TH: Oh, yes. I think we had a social life in camp.

RP: Did the opportunity ever come up with your children to share your camp experiences with them? Was that difficult?

TH: As I look back, once when my daughter was in the fourth grade, she had a teacher who knew about camp. But there was nobody else who knew about it, and I thought, "No, I'm not going to talk to the fourth graders about it. They're not going to understand the situation at all." I think they have to be a little bit older to understand. So I refused, and I kind of regret that now. But at that time, I was not speaking of my camp experience to any Caucasians, 'cause I figured, "They're not going to understand. A lot of 'em don't even know, didn't even know that it happened to us."

RP: So what changed, has changed in your attitude regarding that? You're talking now, and you're talking recently?

TH: Oh, as I got older, and my children got older, I would talk to my friends about some camp thing, and they would overhear something about camp. And so they would ask me what camp life was all about. So we had some discussion, but nothing really huge. And I didn't want them to feel inferior to their Caucasian classmates, so I didn't want them to think that, "Gee, my mother and father were incarcerated." Not everybody would understand the situation, so I didn't talk about it.

RP: Did your, when your father spoke English and had sort of an Americanized, American outlook on things, did he ever become an American citizen when the opportunity came?

TH: When the opportunity came, of course, he and my mother studied English, enough English to pass the test, and they did become naturalized citizens.

RP: Do you remember that day?

TH: No, I don't. But I know a group of them, the Issei, got their citizenship together on the same day. They were sworn in.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RP: In the 1980s, with the support of the Sansei, the kids, questioning their parents and trying to keep these stories, these experiences in the minds of people, the redress movement sort of developed and was successful in securing an apology from the United States government and a token payment. I guess first of all, how did you feel about that?

TH: Well, I felt that since I wasn't in all that movement, but when I learned that so many of the Sansei were so active in that movement to get redress for us, then I realized that they do have a cause, and I was very proud of them, that they pushed forward on that. And so we were able to get our redress and apology.

RP: And what did that mean to you personally?

TH: That meant... well, there was four years of our lives that were taken away from us. So $20,000 is, well, not much. But when we got it in 1987, I think it was. But, oh, I was grateful it did happen. And I felt that I owe the Sansei and a lot of the Nisei who suffered, actually suffered along with them and pushed for that redress, I owe them.

RP: Was it a little late in your eyes? It was a little late coming?

TH: A little late, because by then, half of the evacuees had died or were gone.

RP: Have you attended any of Topaz pilgrimages or returned to the site?

TH: Yes. Kei and I and my daughter Susan (Eady) went to Topaz a couple years ago when they dedicated it as a national monument or national site, national (historical) site. And again, I was very moved, walked around the camp and went to Block 5 where we lived. I picked up a stone, it's just a nondescript stone, but it's the only thing I have of camp. So I keep it in my pot in the kitchen.

RP: Did you have any reactions to 9/11 and what happened after 9/11?

TH: Well, we all have memories of 9/11. And the thing I remember is as soon as I learned about it, I walked over to the gas station where my husband used to take his car to get repaired, and it was run by some Muslim people. And I went over there and I said, "Don't let what happened to us happen to you." And I don't know what I did, but that was the first thing I thought about it. They may be targeted. And that was about it. But having lived in New York and seen the twin towers, and gone up to the twin towers a few years ago, I couldn't believe what happened.

RP: Based on what you went through during World War II, do you have any insights that you could share with young people about civil liberties?

TH: I hope they never have to go through anything like this, that they have to hold it inside for a long time, wondering why did it happen. But we just can't let it happen again.

RP: Just step back to Topaz, first Christmas in Topaz. You received some gifts from somebody from outside the camp. Who was that?

TH: Yes. Harry Lee sent us a care package, candies, things from home, this area. So nostalgic, it was very, very thoughtful of him. It's nice to be remembered.

RP: Also, I just wanted to have you mention the teachers that showed up at Tanforan to visit you. Do you remember any of them?

TH: Yes, these teachers were advisors to our Japanese Students Club at Sequoia High School. It's Angelina Burns, Julianne Wolters, and Ed Kaufmann. And there were others, too, and I can't remember their names, but they boosted our morale. They were true friends.

RP: How did that club get started?

TH: I think way back in the 1930s, early '30s, perhaps, you know, there were Japanese students in Sequoia High School. And I guess because they went to Japanese school after finishing their regular public school hours, they got to know each other, and they're in high school, and they wanted a social club of their own. And they wanted to be of service to the school and community, and they were.

RP: Well, thank you for a most compelling interview. On behalf of Kirk and myself and the National Park Service, thank you.

TH: Thank you very much, Richard and Kirk. It's my pleasure.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.