Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki Interview
Narrator: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki
Interviewer: Valerie Otani
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: December 17, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-oetsuko-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

VO: So when you look back on that camp experience, what do you think about it now?

EO: Uh-huh, and there were some very good friends. We kept in touch over the years. I have good memories of that camp, even if we were behind barbed wire. Our grade school principal was really kind to us. I mean, all the teachers were kind to us, otherwise they wouldn't have been there. The principal went out and purchased all different fabric for each of the girls for our eighth grade graduation so we could all have new dresses, and I still have the picture of our graduating class. There were about twenty-three of us, most of them were girls, just a few boys. I think there were two German girls. So I had a brand-new dress. Her husband was the head Texas ranger that guarded our camp. I never met him, but I knew that he was.

VO: Do you remember the guard towers?

EO: Oh, yes. In fact, in Puyallup, the guard tower was right near our barracks. So they'd be standing there talking to the guard. 'Cause they had nothing to do, you know, so it was kind of boring for them, so we'd talk. They never pointed a rifle at us.

VO: Do you remember feeling afraid about them?

EO: Oh, no. I never felt afraid.

VO: And your parents, do you remember more about the discussion about whether to go back to Japan or not?

EO: We never had a discussion, my dad just decided to go back. I'm sure my parents talked about it, but we were just told we were going back. Because when we were in, talking about this teacher, she was my seventh grade teacher, when we went to Crystal City she wrote to me, and by then she had moved to Boulder, Colorado. She wrote to me and she said, "Why don't you come live with me and finish your high school, go to high school? So I asked my parents if I could go, and of course they said no way. [Laughs] They wouldn't let me go. But she was the one that was very kind to me.

VO: And she was not Japanese?

EO: No. All the teachers were hakujin or white, and I think a lot of them were Quakers, Friends, because they're the ones that really helped, they were probably the only group that really helped the Japanese in those days. You know, like when people would go out of the camp to work, they would be the ones that would kind of help them. So I have good feelings about the Friends.

VO: And so when you refused to sign and came up with that idea, was there an argument?

EO: No, my mother cried. [Laughs] My dad never said anything.

VO: And did you cry?

EO: No, I was terrible. [Laughs] I was a horrible teenager.

VO: But it all worked out for the best, it seems.

EO: I think so, I think so. My brother remembers that. He wrote about it. He's, my brother Sat is an artist, he's published a couple of booklets. Have you seen them?

VO: I've seen excerpts from them, yes.

EO: Yeah, the one on Crystal City is the one that he mentions that I wouldn't sign.

VO: Does he, what was his reaction when that happened?

EO: Oh, I can't remember. I wasn't very nice to him. I was too bossy.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.