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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

VO: So what was, do you remember when you saw your father for the first time?

EO: Yeah, I think I was excited. I saw him through the window, and I can't remember where we were, but I saw his face and I was very excited.

VO: So that was, you all went to Crystal City to reunite, or did you go to... you didn't pick him up in Santa Fe, you all met...

EO: No, he was already in Crystal City, so we went there. I think I already told you that my youngest brother didn't know him, called him ojisan, which means "uncle." He didn't know his own father, because he was just a baby.

VO: He was born...

EO: Two days after Pearl Harbor, so he was just months old when my dad was taken.

VO: And then describe that life in Crystal City.

EO: Oh, Crystal City was a lot better because we had our, we cooked. So we didn't have to go to a mess hall. And they had American school, which I enjoyed, and we went to Japanese school afterwards, which I enjoyed. We had a very good teacher. And then half day Saturday.

VO: Were you able to have church services again there in Crystal City?

EO: Uh-huh. They had big services, Sunday services, would pack the whole hall.

VO: And was your father leading those, or there was a group?

EO: Well, there were other ministers, so he was just one of the many ministers. Ministers would be standing all around the hall. [Laughs] Many ministers.

VO: And were there other families from Seattle there?

EO: Yes, there were a few families from Seattle.

VO: And were there Peruvians?

EO: Yes, they had Japanese from Peru, and I think some from Bolivia, if I'm not mistaken. And they all went to the all-day Japanese school, because there was no other school for them to go to. And the German kids went to, most of them went to the German school. And we had a couple of Germans in our class. We all got along real well.

VO: And what else do you remember from that time in Crystal City?

EO: Well, let's see. We had a lot of parties. [Laughs] One time we were going to have, was it the junior prom, and some of the Isseis, I think they didn't want us to have it. I can recall that.

VO: Do you know why?

EO: They just didn't do things like that in Japan. And I was trying to remember, we had our class parties. Oh, I can still remember, my friends and I skipped school so we could make popcorn for our class party, and I still remember there was a German cook at this center where we were gonna have the party, He showed us how to make caramel corn. [Laughs] So we made caramel corn popcorn, so of course when we went back to school, we were disciplined.

VO: For missing school?

EO: For missing classes.

VO: And what was the discipline?

EO: I can't remember. [Laughs]

VO: And your mother, was she more traditional, or she let you, she accepted your, the parties and American upbringing?

EO: Yeah, they allowed us. There were some parents that wouldn't let their kids go to any of these functions, but our parents were very, very tolerant of us.

VO: You mentioned earlier when we were talking that you celebrated the Emperor's birthday?

EO: Yes, at our Japanese school, they made us, they would line us out in the field and we would have to celebrate the Emperor's birthday and face the east towards Japan and do, "Banzai," three times. You'd have to say, "Tennouheika, banzai, banzai," and it just about killed me. [Laughs] And we also helped celebrate Hitler's birthday.

VO: You did? Tell us more about that.

EO: We didn't have to do "Heil Hitler," we just observed.

VO: That was for the Germans?

EO: The Germans, they had their own celebration.

VO: And you got to participate.

EO: So we would go just to help them celebrate, I guess, the Japanese school.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.