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Transcription below by: Jessica M (2010)
I used to be able to talk okay, but...
You sound great.
No, in 1973, I had a burn out. I'll tell you, you don't recover from a burn out.
You sound fine to all of us.
Do you remember what you were doing the first time you heard about Pearl Harbor?
Yes, I can tell you that I was in quarantine for Scarlet Fever for three weeks. Since my mother used to teach Japanese conversation and elementary Japanese, plus, let's say, what you should do, customs and how to act in the regular community. My father and I were loaned a place. One of the people rented a house to us and my dad took care of me for three weeks while my mother continued it. Just when I got out of the three weeks, then I heard that the owner told us that Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor. We didn't know where Pearl Harbor was. In fact, we didn't know where Hawaii was at the time.
What was your initial reaction to hearing that Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor?
We thought nothing of it. My dad, and the owner that owned the place that we were staying in, I think they were a little concerned. And then the rumors started. There were fifty families on Bainbridge Island, and the FBI made a raid on the different families. They had probably fifty agents that went to each place. The agent that came to our place was very nice. They would look at your books and all that.
I can remember one incident where the Seventh-Day Advents, I think at the church, but they are a Christian philosophy. They used to go out and bring these little books and you gave them a little contribution and as poor as we were, my dad would always give them something. It might have been a nickel. I don't think more than ten cents in those days, because ten cents, five cents wasn't a lot. So when they went through our house, they saw these little magazines that were printed in Japanese and one agent got real excited and went to my father and says "What's this?" and my father says, "That's the Seventh-Day Advents." He put it back, but some of the places, the agents were not that nice, they just tore out and pulled all the books and put them on the floor and kicked things around, but we have to say that the agent that came to our place was very, very nice.
Did you hear of anybody on Bainbridge Island who was treated that way?
Oh yes, most of them. There was a lot of them there that we met later when we met them in camp and they were talking about agents that came and made the raid. Then the agents made a raid and the farmers were clearing new land because the new land is more fertile and they had dynamite sticks around and they—most of the people that had that—they picked up the head of the household and took them to what they called a Justice Camp right away.
What was the reaction of the community to Pearl Harbor? Did any of the ways that your friends looked at you change?
First of all, I have to tell you the Japanese who were on the Island couldn't believe it. Who is bombing the United States? Here is a little island, that they can remember—who would come over and drop bombs on Pearl Harbor? The other people—at least outwardly—were very nice. Or, at least our friends. We did find, when the time of the evacuation, I remember one fellow - I was kind of surprised - one of them told the sentry that was taking us away, he says, "I'm glad you're taking them away." He happened to be a distributor for one of the large oil companies that used to supply the farmers with oil and gasoline for their tractors. But so many nice people came out to see us when we went, I guess it didn't even faze us at the time.
Once you learned more about the situation with Pearl Harbor, what was your families reaction? Did they think it was a mistake? And what did you think at the time?
Actually, they were saying it was the military. They didn't believe that the Japanese people were behind it, but it was the military that took over Japan and they were on the roll. They wanted to expand Japan. They went all over. But, of course, they didn't believe that Japan would do that. You know, attack the United States. That was really ridiculous for them. And they figured that the war would be over in maybe about a month or two, because they didn't think Japan would be able to hold up.
Then they froze our assets, if we had money in the bank or anything—and the banks were not that popular as they are today—they froze all the accounts. Now, all of a sudden, we didn't have any money, whatever they had. Then, of course rumors start circulating that they are going to move the Japanese out of Bainbridge Island. I remember when the rumors on that, but our parents said, "You won't have to go, you're an American citizen, but they'll probably"—and I have to point out that the parents couldn't become American citizens because of a law—the Oriental Exclusion Act in 1925—said that the Asians that came from Japan cannot own land or become citizens. But under the 14th Amendment the children, if you are born in the United States, the children are American citizens and that's how [gestures to self].
They said to us, "They won't move you." The way they talked about it, we thought maybe we were just going to go away for maybe three weeks. Actually, they kid about it. They said, "It's gonna be a vacation for you." So—people on Bainbridge Island—they left their things with their neighbors and their friends and got on the train. Actually, they told us we had to be ready and they came around with trucks and soldiers on the trucks, picked us up, we got on the ferry and went to Seattle. They put us on a train and we went down to Manzanar.