Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Shizuko "Suzie" Sakai Interview
Narrator: Shizuko "Suzie" Sakai
Interviewer: Dane Fujimoto
Date: February 6, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-sshizuko-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

DF: So tell me about what happened, transition from high school?

SS: After I graduated from high school, I had received a scholarship to attend Washington State University, but I decided that I would go to the University of Washington in Seattle instead because there were more employment opportunities, and I needed to have a job in order to go to school. So I did go up to the University of Washington, finished my first year, and was, had started the first, the fall quarter of my second year when I had gone home for Thanksgiving, and my father talked to me and said that he thought maybe I should stay home because things were not looking so good on the international front, and he was concerned that if anything drastic happened, that if I were up in Seattle and the rest of the family was down in the valley, that we might get separated. So I just made the decision and didn't go back to school; and then, of course, December 7th happened. So I was almost glad that I didn't go back to school to finish that quarter. That was a pretty scary period for us. As we were pretty much isolated from the rest of the Japanese community, several of my father's friends, you know, would come and visit; and of course, they predicted all kinds of dire things might happen. And so after December 7th, it was a pretty scary, lonely kind of an existence, and we were wondering what was going to happen. Then of course, the President signed the Proclamation 9066, and we knew that our days as we knew them were not going to be anymore. So by May, I believe it was, we knew that we were going to have to be moved; and of course, signs started going up on telephone poles saying that we're in an exclusion area, military zone.

And pretty soon, we got orders that we were going to have to be moved out. My father turned over what machinery and crops he had to a next door neighbor. We had been neighbors for quite a years, and we stored some of our personal belongings with them and packed up to leave. It was a very uncertain time because we didn't know where we were going or what was going to happen. We had orders to appear at the railroad station in Wapato on a certain day, I think it was the first week in June with only what we could carry. So that was a dilemma when you don't know where you're going to go, you don't know what you're going to need. So we kind of just did the best we could, packed our clothes and some bedding and left most of our personal effects packed away in a shed that belonged to this neighbor not knowing whether we'd ever come back to claim them again.

I remember our neighbors took us to the railroad station that morning and that was probably the most desolate feeling I've ever had. I looked around, and there were other people like me standing on the platform. I really didn't know any of them. I think there were two families that we knew, and then we were herded onto the train by some soldiers who had guns and were pretty scary looking to us who were not used to this kind of procedure. So they finally got us aboard the train. We were told to pull the window screens down so we couldn't look out, and started on our journey. No one told us where we were going to go or how long we were going to be on the train.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.