Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ruth Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Ruth Sasaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-sruth-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So let's move to December 7, 1941, that's the date that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Do you remember that day?

RS: Yeah. It was a big thing, you know. But, see, I was an eighth grader when that war broke out. And so we... and another funny thing is my mom and dad, they never talked much about it. And I remember them, because you know how Japanese people are, they would have the picture of the emperor and all that. And all I remember is they took those pictures down and burned them just in case they got into trouble. And that's all I remember.

TI: Do you remember where you were when you first heard about it, or what you were doing?

RS: I was at home.

TI: And did you and your brothers talk about what was happening?

RS: Not really. I think, you know, when you're older, like if you... see, where I was still young, it didn't affect me. I mean, I just figured it was another war, gonna be, what happens, Pearl Harbor being attacked, but I didn't take it as seriously. When you're older, then you hold that bitterness.

TI: How about that next week when you went to school?

RS: Oh, yeah, it was bad.

TI: So can you tell me what happened?

RS: Well, you got, used the word "Jap," you know, they used that a lot to us. "Jap" this, "Jap" that. And then they would try, they would avoid you. They won't play with you.

TI: Did that happen with some of your friends, the ones that before the war that you were friends with, did some of them change?

RS: Some of 'em were, yeah, there were just a few that they didn't, they just had feelings for us. But others, it was sad. Because when, like, on the swings and all that, things like that, they won't even let you use it because they said, "Well, it's saved for my friend," or something. And so you're just left out. That was sad.

TI: So it was a definite shift. I mean, after December 7th, then all of a sudden you were, it sounds like you were excluded from that.

RS: Yeah. But... and another thing too is that they... things changed along the way. And then that's when they told us we had to leave all, because we were on west of the Cascades.

TI: Before we go there, I just want to ask, so your classmates, some of them who excluded you, how about the teachers?

RS: You know, they never... I didn't notice any changes. I think they were all nice, the teachers were good to us.

TI: And that didn't change after December 7th? They were still nice to you?

RS: Uh-huh. I guess it was their job to be nice, I don't know.

TI: Did you ever see them reprimand any of your classmates who were mean to you? Like when they called you "Jap" or something, did they ever...

RS: No, nothing was corrected. Because otherwise it would be a big deal, and so, like me, I just accepted it.

TI: How about your brothers? Did they ever have difficulties or fights about this during that time?

RS: I imagine they did, but I never saw it.

TI: And your parents after December 7th, did anything change for them in those weeks after?

RS: Well, some of them, they were good to them. And some of them were hostile. But... because the main thing is my parents didn't speak any English. So it didn't, they just kept to themselves.

TI: You mentioned earlier this Japanese minister. Do you know if he was picked up by the FBI or anyone else in the Gresham area, Troutdale area?

RS: Uh-uh.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.