Mizuta, Junko (10/4/2017)

Japanese American Service Committee Legacy Center


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[NOTE: This transcript has not undergone a final proofreading and may contain errors. It is being provided in draft form to enhance access to the video recording. As soon as possible, it will be replaced with a final, corrected transcript and will be synced to the video to provide clickable timecodes.]

Anna Takada: 00:00:00 Can you start by stating your name?

Junko Mizuta: 00:00:03 Yeah, I'm Junko Mizuta. And...

AT: 00:00:08 I won't leave you hanging. Can you tell me about where you were born and--

JM: 00:00:15 Yeah, I was born in Portland, Oregon, way back when. [Laughs.]

AT: 00:00:21 And when were you born?

JM: 00:00:23 I was born 1925. Is that which? Yup. Okay.

AT: 00:00:30 And um, can you tell me a little bit about your parents and how they ended up in Portland's?

JM: 00:00:39 Well, my Dad came from Japan is the teacher leader and he had a concession in Long Beach I think originally. And then he went back some place along the line and married my Mom, married my Mom in Japan and then he came back, but then this time he was in Portland, Oregon and he had a tea house in at Console Crest in uh, Portland. And from what my Mom said, I think he was supposed to go back, you know, after his two or three year contract. But he liked him back to Japan, I guess he worked for the company because he's so young. She's so gone. They're known for the tea. So anyway, um, he liked it here. So he decided to stay over there. My Mom wasn't here now, but anyway, they decided to stay in. Um, um, then the Depression came in, my Dad lost his job, so it's tough. So at the time in Japan things are good. So my Mom went back to Japan and my Dad stayed here while he tried to find something to support us and then we came back when things got better. So we were in Japan a couple of years and got to know my grandmother where she was. Great.

AT: 00:02:28 You're staying with your Mom's family?

JM: 00:02:32 Yeah, in Hiroshima. And then I came back couldn't speak a word of English and then I was six so then I started grade school speaking to everybody in Japanese and not understanding. No one could understand me.

AT: 00:02:54 And would you happen to know roughly the dates or the years, but your family was traveling during this time?

JM: 00:03:03 In the late twenties and we came back when I was six, so must have been 1931.

AT: 00:03:16 And so you were very young when you left for Japan?

JM: 00:03:21 Yeah, I was four. I came back when I was six and then by then my Dad had found this apartment that he was leasing you on the east side of Portland, on the east of the river and I grew up there until we were forced from our homes. But it was a street of a lot of businesses and I was like, when I was like seven or eight, I go to all these businesses and could I interview everybody and I come back with all this news about everybody and my Mom would always say to me, I don't know how you get all that news about these people, but you know, being seven, you're curious and you ask all kinds of questions.

AT: 00:04:15 So you must have picked up English pretty quickly then?

JM: 00:04:18 Well, my sister knew. I have an older sister. She remembered English. So you pick it up. That. How much older is your? My sister's four, was four years older then I.

AT: 00:04:34 I'm sorry, what was her name?

JM: 00:04:38 Her name was Haruhi.

AT: 00:04:40 And what were your parents' names?

JM: 00:04:42 My Mom's name was Saiei in my Dad's name was Kaiji

AT: 00:04:50 And those early years of Portland's. Do you have, do you have any actual memories of it?

JM: 00:05:01 Yeah yeah, it was nice. You know, we, you, well the neighbors are pretty nice. I don't really remember anything, you know, bad or anything, but um, I was young and you don't know about those things.

AT: 00:05:21 So when you and your Mom and your sister went back to Japan, were you going to school?

JM: 00:05:28 No. No, it's too young. My sister did, she went to a, well she went to a Japanese school like and they had her take their shoes off and she didn't like that. So, um, my Mom transferred her to a mission school where they spoke English and you could keep your shoes on.

AT: 00:06:00 And so what would you spend time with your Mom when you were in Japan or

JM: 00:06:07 No, I spend more of my time with my grandmother and my uncle. That was fun.

AT: 00:06:15 Hmm. So when you came back to the states that was around 31, can you tell me more about, um, I guess what, what life was like in Portland for, for your family at that time?

JM: 00:06:37 I don't really remember too much. Even the,

AT: 00:06:43 Your Dad had the apartments?

JM: 00:06:44 Yeah.

AT: 00:06:48 Were you going to school by then, when you came back?

JM: 00:06:51 Yeah, I went to Buckman grade school. And, it was nice. I don't, only thing was I couldn't speak English the first years I think. And that was kind of bad, but once that was gone I was fine.

AT: 00:07:11 Were there other Japanese American families where you lived?

JM: 00:07:15 Not that I know of. There were a couple where there was one family later on, another family moved in, but they were kind of far, you know, like, not like next door maybe they were, what? Portland six walk seven blocks away.

AT: 00:07:34 And did you and your sister, did you have to go to Japanese school?

JM: 00:07:38 Well, not really. I don't think that was in the plan, but my, um, these two other gals, they were going and I was around 12 I think and then I found out they were going to Japanese school and so I came home and I asked my Mom if I go to Japanese school because they were going to school and she said, well Dad and I all discuss it and we'll let you know. So a couple of days later my Mom said, yeah, well we decided you could go. So that's how I went to Japanese school. My sister never went.

AT: 00:08:25 Hmm. And were you speaking Japanese at home?

JM: 00:08:28 Yeah, with my parents, not with my sister.

AT: 00:08:34 Hmm. How long were you going to Japanese school?

JM: 00:08:38 No, too long because I started late around 11, 12 and then the war started when I was 16. So maybe four or five years at the most.

AT: 00:08:52 Did you, how were you as a student?

JM: 00:08:56 I don't know, I guess it was interesting, you know, we have to write composition and read and of course I was the oldest in the class because most of the kids start when they're probably a lot younger, but it was an interesting experience. I mean like today I can look at a character kind of looks familiar, which I wouldn't have had if I hadn't gone.

AT: 00:09:27 Hmm. Was Your family religious at all?

New Speaker: 00:09:30 I'm sorry.

New Speaker: 00:09:31 Was Your family religious at all?

JM: 00:09:33 My Dad was, my Mom too. I guess it must have rubbed off on her, but I was reading the, um, the, well, the DOJ report, it said that my Dad was a Christian from Japan. I don't know how that happened. I wish he were living in and I had known, I would have asked him. But yeah, I was raised a Methodist. My Mom was, of course my Dad was like a deacon at the church. Very active in the church.

AT: 00:10:11 And you said that you wish that you asked your Dad, was that, that he was religious in Japan?

JM: 00:10:19 You, yeah. Well, how he became a Christian in Japan, but I didn't know this until I read the report.

AT: 00:10:29 Hmm. Speaking about about your parents, um, can you describe them? What, what were they like when they were raising you and these,

JM: 00:10:46 I don't know, my Dad was fun. You know, I didn't know, can't really recall. You know, we used to do things together as a family. So, but my Dad was always busy, you know, who is always going to meetings and stuff like that. And uh, my Mom was, I guess she was busy with her business when she opened it, but, uh, she was a home, you know, home person, until then.

AT: 00:11:33 What was her business the one she

JM: 00:11:35 She opened the laundries in store, so she had her own business and my Dad had his.

AT: 00:11:45 Was your Dad's just being the, the apartments?

JM: 00:11:50 Yeah, he had the apartment. And when she first opened the business was about a block away, but then there was a vacancy on the first floor storefront. So she moved your business to the first floor of the apartment. So it was convenient. Yeah.

AT: 00:12:13 And then uh, can you tell me about, uh, your experiences? Um, the day that Pearl Harbor was?

JM: 00:12:27 Yeah, usually on Sunday we went out as a family. Yeah, well Sunday ride or we'd go someplace near the Columbia Gorge or Mount Hood or someplace. And so this was a regular Sunday and we were all planning to go out. And then on the radio we heard that, you know, Pearl Harbor was attacked. We couldn't believe it, but we thought, well, we'll just continue our daily or weekly thing. So we went out for a ride and we must have, come back about 4 and then we had supper and then, around, then my Mom went to take a bath. And around 6, my Dad answered the door. I don't know where my sister and I were, maybe we were in our rooms? And the next thing I know these two guys are taking my Dad away and my Dad said, well, they were taking down just to ask a few questions. And we said, well, Mom's in the bathroom so bathed up, so should we go tell her? And they said no, you can't do that. So, uh, yeah, I could still see him at the top of the steps, you know, going down with these two men on one, on either side of him. And so when my Mom came out of the tub, you know, we told her what happened and I didn't know what happened after that. I, I do remember we waited you late waiting for him to come home and he didn't come home. But then at that time I was in school. My sister was out of high school, so she, um, she knew what happened. But you know, I'll always really too dumb to even ask what was going on at the time.

AT: 00:14:47 How old? How old were you then?

JM: 00:14:50 I had just turned 16. I was a junior in high school.

AT: 00:15:01 That must have been really hard.

JM: 00:15:01 Yeah, because then I went to school and the next day and these two gals that were Japanese, I asked one, gee what, you know, did they come and pick up your Dad? And she didn't even know what I was talking about. And so I was kinda shocked because I kinda assume everybody's Dad was picked up, you know, but she wasn't. And then the other gal, hers, father wasn't picked up either and I couldn't understand what was going on. So, uh, yeah, that's the way it was.

AT: 00:15:41 Do you remember the, the conversations with your Mom after he left?

JM: 00:15:49 No, I don't remember anything at all. One thing I remember is we didn't know where he was and we used to talk about that in one week went by and two weeks went by, three weeks went by and then my Mom said she found out that they were in the county jail. So uh about a month, you know, we found out where he was, you know, I guess my Mom and sister must have gone to visit him because I was in school so I don't know what was going on and we didn't, I don't remember talking about it, but my Mom said, you know, Dad was at the jail so you better go visit him. And I did. I remember going down to visit him when he was in jail. I've visited him. You know behind bars and I don't remember what we talked about except when I was leaving he said to me, well we may never see each other again so take good care of yourself. And I remember leaving crying. But other than that I don't remember, you know much.

AT: 00:17:33 That must have been really, really hard.

JM: 00:17:33 Yeah.

AT: 00:17:39 So do you think it was about a month after he was gone? That you went to visit him?

JM: 00:17:43 Yeah, must have been a good month.

AT: 00:17:50 And

JM: 00:17:50 Well, the sad part of that was what he told me that I may never see him again. Is he died and I never did see him again. So.

AT: 00:18:09 And ah, so following that, it must've been the Executive Order was signed.

JM: 00:18:28 In February.

AT: 00:18:29 Shortly.

JM: 00:18:29 So then I didn't know how my Mom manage, I think about it now and think, you know, of course my sister was there, but I remember we had her piano. I remember going back, going to the piano store that we bought it, we bought it at and he was right next door to my Mom's laundry store and he bought that back and then there was a secondhand store on the other side of my Mom. I remember selling some stuff to him, but I think everything else she just left, you know, because I don't think she could handle all that. Although some of her good pieces that she brought back from Japan. She had packed and taken it to the church and to have a stored during the war. But I don't know, I think she just left it. Cause we could only carry, take what we could carry. I don't even remember that. I know my sister and I, we used to say, how did we get to the assembly center? You know, I don't know how we got there.

AT: 00:20:05 Do you remember first hearing about it or hearing the news that you would have to leave?

JM: 00:20:14 Yeah, I remember. And then the signs that went up on the telephone poles, but it's very vague.

AT: 00:20:23 The instructions?

JM: 00:20:25 Yeah. Well, the whole incident's kind of vague to me.

AT: 00:20:32 Hmm.

JM: 00:20:34 You know, not like not remembering how we got there. It sounds crazy but know I don't remember.

AT: 00:20:47 Hmm. Were there any other like what after Pearl Harbor was attacked, what else changed in your life? Obviously the absence of your father must have been huge,

JM: 00:21:13 Yeah.

AT: 00:21:13 But in your, like in your daily life or interactions at school did anything?

JM: 00:21:18 No, I don't think there was much different in school if there was. I don't remember. You know how the kids treat each and stuff like that. I don't remember.

AT: 00:21:37 And then so when your family got the orders to leave, do you remember having to figure out what to do with all of your belongings?

JM: 00:21:48 Yeah, and as I say, I think my Mom left everything. We had no relatives here and so it was just my Mom, my sister and I, we didn't have cousins or uncles or any, anybody like that, so she did everything and depending on trends, but I'm sure they were busy with their own packing and whatever they had to do.

AT: 00:22:16 Do you know if your Mom was in touch with them, her family in Japan or was there any like?

JM: 00:22:27 She was, yeah, during that time and before the war too. Yeah. She used to write to her sister and her sister used to tell her, you know, things that are kind of suspicious. Things are great, but she felt there was gonna be a war

AT: 00:22:56 In saying that from Japan?

JM: 00:23:11 Yeah.

AT: 00:23:11 So. So then where was your family assigned to go from Portland?

JM: 00:23:18 Well, we went to the assembly center first and, well we lived in cubicles. No, no ceiling. And ah, since there were only three of us, we weren't allowed one cubicle to ourselves. So we had to share with another family was a mother and a daughter. I think her father was a FBI pick up too. And uh, we didn't know them. All I remember as I slept in one corner and she slept diagonally from me, but it must have been close quarters, I don't remember.

AT: 00:24:02 And this was Portland Assembly Center?

JM: 00:24:06 Hmmh, Portland Assembly Center, where it used to be a livestock exposition ground and, you know, it was pretty bad. The smell and the flies--millions of flies and so they hung up a sticky flypaper we were just packed with flies and I got sick from the fly. I had upset stomach and threw up and everything from the fly and uh, didn't really do too much there, you know, I hung around with a couple of girls and we used to just go out in the lawn and sit and just, you know, teenagers just kinda sit and gab. Except this one time we were out there and um, this cook came out of the kitchen and um, you went to the fence and he put his, move his fingers through the fence and just hung his arm down. You know, like some always say stick from behind. And then the next minute we heard the shot and this cook got shot. By, I think a guard. And he was Japanese because I saw his black hair, he just fell backwards and it hit him in the stomach and blood was oozing out of there and the other two girls and I, we ran as fast as we could and yelling, they're shooting, they're shooting us. And then we didn't know why he got shot and we said, oh, we'll find out when we get inside because people will be talking about it. Not a soul was talking about, it was just hush hush. But I later found out it was because he went near the fence, you know, he was just hanging there looking out into space. Probably having a lot of thoughts you know. But he, he got shot by this guard, you know, it was terrible.

AT: 00:26:38 And this was all, you were not far from him?

JM: 00:26:41 No, we weren't far because we could see, you know, I think I even saw the gun in his hand, as he came down. No one seems to know what happened to this cook. You know, I've been curious ever since. And you know, I've been trying to find out, but no one seems to know.

AT: 00:27:02 Did you see the guard who shot him?

JM: 00:27:06 Yeah, well, he came down and he was coming down, but by then we just ran, you know, I don't know what happened after that.

AT: 00:27:16 Do you think he was um, like in one of the

JM: 00:27:20 I think he was in the guard house. Yeah, because I think there was a guard house near there.

AT: 00:27:33 Wow. Do you know about how old the cook was?

JM: 00:27:37 I don't know. He had his chef hat on, couldn't tell. He was kind of heavy set person. Well, you know, he had all white on, so you could see the blood coming, oozing out from his stomach.

AT: 00:27:58 And did you think because as you were saying that your friends were yelling, they're shooting us. Did you see that they were going to be.

JM: 00:28:06 Well we didn't know we were near there, so we just, all three of us just yelled out, you know, they're shooting. And we ran.

AT: 00:28:19 Hmm. And after there was no,

JM: 00:28:22 Nothing. It wasn't in the paper. No one talked about it. In fact, about 10 years ago, I was talking to somebody who was also at the assembly center and she said, I never heard about it, so I guess it was a hush hush.

AT: 00:28:42 Hmm. Do you. Should you try talking about it with your family?

JM: 00:28:48 Yeah, they

AT: 00:28:48 Did you tell them about what happened?

JM: 00:28:48 Yeah, they know because I talk about it for 75 years, what happened to that cook. I hope he didn't die, you know, his, his crime was going to the fence. I didn't even know that until about 30 years ago and um, this other gal I met out here, she said when she was 5, she went to the fence to get a ball because she was playing with her ball. And um, a guard came up to her and told her and balled her out for coming to the fence. And she said to me, gee, at that time I was only 5 years old. I didn't know any better. So.

AT: 00:29:40 So is that what month in 42 is

JM: 00:29:52 That was in May, end of May, I guess. We, we went there beginning of May.

AT: 00:30:04 And I know you said you don't really remember how you got there. Was it close to your hometown?

JM: 00:30:12 I don't know. I don't. I think it was, I think was on the Northeast corner maybe. And we were on the East side. I don't know.

AT: 00:30:25 And how long has your family that

JM: 00:30:28 In the assembly center? I don't know. I think we must have moved down in September or August or something.

AT: 00:30:40 And there, there wasn't school there?

JM: 00:30:42 No, not that, this was like summer vacation, you know. So...no, we just kind of, you know, enjoyed ourselves. I was a waitress who waited on tables and they had dancing there. I used to go dancing on weekends, you know, ballroom dancing. But other than that I don't really remember anything else we did there.

AT: 00:31:15 Can you tell me more about being a waitress? Was it like mess hall style or

JM: 00:31:19 Yeah, we had the long bench like tables and we just served people, I just, you know, I don't really remember too much.

AT: 00:31:34 Did you get paid for that?

JM: 00:31:37 I don't know. Maybe we did, but I don't know, I don't re, maybe $7 a month. We got paid.

AT: 00:31:51 And do you remember your first impressions when you first arrived to the assembly center?

JM: 00:31:57 No, no, I don't remember anything. I just remember having to live with another family.

AT: 00:32:11 And getting sick. Was there ah, was there a hospital or treatment?

JM: 00:32:16 I have no idea. I don't remember. There was a post office, but I don't remember anything else.

AT: 00:32:28 It seems like your, your most vivid memory was the but the shooting,

JM: 00:32:34 Yeah, the shooting and the flies and getting sick and living with another family

AT: 00:32:46 And then it so September, your family was sent to Minidoka?

JM: 00:33:00 I don't even remember leaving camp. Just, all I remember is going on this train with the shades pulled down and then I don't know how long it took or anything. But, once we got to Minidoka we were greeted with a huge dust storm and we, I think we had to wait outside for food, you know, food was just covered in sand. It was even not edible, but um, but other than that, I don't really remember the beginning part of Minidoka, but I do remember being greeted by a sandstorm or dust storm.

AT: 00:33:53 That must have been very different climate then--

JM: 00:33:57 Yeah, it was hot. Three figures in the summer, cold and rainy, and the mud was so bad. When you stepped in the mud, it would go up, you'd walk in, it would go up to your ankles. I mean your foot was sinking into the mud in. Eventually they put planks down so we didn't have to walk up it. You'd walk in the mud and your shoe back there, you know, it was pretty bad.

AT: 00:34:30 Were you prepared in terms of clothing and--?

JM: 00:34:34 I don't remember, but I know people used to order from Montgomery Ward. And I think that's probably what we did.

AT: 00:34:48 And when you were in Minidoka, did you start going to school again?

JM: 00:34:53 Yeah, because I had my senior year there. Which, school is really not much of a school.

AT: 00:35:04 In terms of--

JM: 00:35:06 Well I didn't learn anything, it was just kind of a waste of time.

AT: 00:35:13 Was that because of quality of teaching or lack of resources?

JM: 00:35:17 I don't know, it's just maybe, you know, maybe it was me, me, maybe I didn't apply myself, but I didn't learn anything. They had this core curriculum but I just didn't learn anything. I can't take away anything from my senior year. So...it was kind of, I took Home Ec. I took bookkeeping. I learned credit and debit there, but other than that I don't remember anything.

AT: 00:36:03 When you were in camp, were you still speaking Japanese with your Mom?

JM: 00:36:08 Yeah, I think so. Hmmh

AT: 00:36:11 Would you ever speak with other kids your age or was it

JM: 00:36:14 No, it was all English. Just my Mom.

AT: 00:36:18 Hmm. And what was the um, the living arrangements?

JM: 00:36:23 Well, we had only three in the family, so we had the end room of this barrack. There was 6 apartments, so to speak, depending on the size of your family, you got whatever size. And we had the end there, which is small. We didn't stay in there too much. It's crowded. We had canvas cots, I think and a little potbelly stove. And I think we had a card table.

AT: 00:37:05 And one thing I wanted to ask, when you are going from place to place, to, so say from Portland to the assembly center and then the assembly center to Minidoka, ah each of these moves, were you moving with people you knew or were you ending up?

JM: 00:37:25 I don't remember. I have no idea.

AT: 00:37:31 So you

JM: 00:37:33 I'm sorry. I don't remember anything like that.

AT: 00:37:37 No, it's fine. Um, so you didn't stay in touch with people you met in the camp?

JM: 00:37:44 No, I don't. No, I made new friends. My allergies.

AT: 00:37:53 Me too [laugh] I'm actually feeling that. Um, so by now. And then how long were you in Minidoka?

JM: 00:38:09 Oh, after I finish my senior year I lived in, that was 1943. I lived in August or September. I kind of decided I wanted to go to school. I didn't have any money. My parents had, had a college fund for me, but they couldn't pay the premiums, you know, since they were in camp. So that lapsed. So, um, I, I just decided to go out. And my Mom, she was in a state of shock I think. So she just said, you know, go ahead. Oh, I was only 18 and didn't know anybody but, uh, outside, but um, she said you want to go, go. And then in camp my sister almost died. So, uh, she, um, she was still recuperating and so she stayed behind with my Mom

AT: 00:39:25 And and she, so she didn't end up going to school?

JM: 00:39:30 No, well, she was that age I think when you just graduated high school and everything was in turmoil, you know, and you weren't applying to school, you were packing up your baggage, you know, so she never went.

AT: 00:39:52 And so where did you ended up going with your?

JM: 00:39:56 Oh, I went to Milwaukee is a domestic, and this woman had another Japanese girl before me and she had a family that lived there in Milwaukee. So weekends on her day off she'd go back home and I had nobody. I didn't know anybody. I never did domestic work and she and I, we didn't get along.

AT: 00:40:30 Did not get along?

JM: 00:40:30 No, uh, I got along great with the grandmother. But the young mother who was working for, she didn't like me in, I probably didn't like her. So one day she said, we're no longer want your service. And she asked this other girl that I took the place of to come back until she found somebody, but then I was homesick and you know, I kinda wish I hadn't left home and uh, and so anyway, I did know this one, couple young couple from back home, this was the son and the parents were good friends of my parents, so I called them and I asked him if I could stay with them for a few days until I find something new. And of course, WRA was great, I think was the WRA and anyway, they found me another job in uh, you know, three or four days. So then I went to this family and it was a young couple. She was 26 and he was 30 and we got along great. She had two kids and I was supposed to take care of the kids and then help her in the kitchen. So that worked out well and I was happy there. And so I was there. And then in the meantime, my Dad got released from the DOJ camps, so my sister was stronger. So she came out and she had a domestic job, so you know we communicate with each other. So it wasn't bad. And once a week on my day off I'd go to business school so then I wouldn't have to be domestic job for the rest of my life in. So things were going pretty good.

AT: 00:42:49 Which school were you taking classes at?

JM: 00:42:53 I don't know, I can't remember

AT: 00:42:54 Was it?

JM: 00:42:54 In Milwaukee.

AT: 00:42:55 And your family friends, who you had contacted?

JM: 00:43:03 Yeah

AT: 00:43:04 About staying with them, were they Japanese American?

JM: 00:43:06 Yeah. They were Nisei's

AT: 00:43:10 Living in Milwaukee?

JM: 00:43:12 Hmmh

AT: 00:43:12 So had they left camp? To find a job?

JM: 00:43:15 I think so, yeah. He was an engineer. Yeah, because I don't think before the war engineers, you know, found work on the West Coast.

AT: 00:43:31 And I wanted to ask you because of course we have the letter from your father requesting to join you. Can you, can you tell me more about what you know of, of that process and exactly what happened?

JM: 00:43:53 Well, I think that was the second or third attempt in asking for release. And each time he asked for a release, it would say, well that one, it said he's intelligent, he's a great leader, I can't remember what the third was. But the big but, you were in all these organizations and you took, you were chair of the charity group of maybe other Japanese Association, I don't know. But anyway, and because of that you cannot be released. That's what it says in his record. And so, but he was not well. And so, uh, well he went from Missoula to Fort Sill to Fort Livingston and then Santa Fe and I think he was in the hospital at Fort Missoula for a week. And then in Livingston, he was in the hospital for 6 months. And when he wrote that letter he said he was not well. And I don't know whether that made a difference. But anyway, he came home because his prognosis was not good.

AT: 00:45:36 And so while of course when your sister and your Mom were in camp, you didn't know, you still didn't know where he was?

JM: 00:45:45 No, we knew because we would get these letters from him full of holes. And I remember my Mom saying there was really no sense in writing to Dad because all his letters and nothing but cut outs and, you know, being censored, and she said probably ours is too. So I know she, she said, well, the only thing I can say is how are you? We're doing okay in um, so he used to write to us, but, you know, wherever, after I read that book, I guess paper was scarce. So I guess he knew he wrote whatever he could get hold of, a writing, you know, paper.

AT: 00:46:38 So that was, um, I actually wasn't familiar with that. That writing, that paper was scarce.

JM: 00:46:45 Oh, I'm sorry?

AT: 00:46:46 I, I haven't, I haven't heard about that.

JM: 00:46:48 Oh yeah, well that's what it said in that book I read yeah, that it was scarce, but you know, they all helped each other. You got the paper to write on.

AT: 00:47:01 Well, and that's, that must've been pretty big then that he had a little notepad. It seems like.

JM: 00:47:08 Yeah, I don't kn, that's why I wondered where he got the notepad, you know, after I read that I wondered, where did he get that notepad? They hit a canteen, I think. I'm not sure. But then according to that book, some families I think, were sending money, but I don't remember whether my Mom sent money or not. You know, these guys are, their assets are all frozen. So when he was taken then you know, we couldn't touch anything but my Dad had an account with me or I had an account with him at a bank. So I used to go every weekend or every month and sneak so much money on until the balance was zero.

AT: 00:48:04 When, at what point were you doing that?

JM: 00:48:10 That was after he was taken. So that was in '41.

AT: 00:48:17 And um, so from the reports that you read after this has happened, um, there were claims that his involvement with the charity work

JM: 00:48:35 Yeah

AT: 00:48:35 Ah, and a couple of other organizations

JM: 00:48:37 Yeah

AT: 00:48:38 Where the reason why he called you at least

JM: 00:48:39 Yeah, he belonged to about five organizations like the hotel organizations, the laundry organizations, the Japanese Association. This charity thing was bad because uh, this group got money to send to Japan, to the soldiers' families, and I guess government felt that was being unpatriotic. You know, he donated more than the rest of the people they claim. But then he was the head of it, s o maybe he did that just to show, you know, we should all donate money to the families. But those were the things that were against him.

AT: 00:49:38 Were you familiar with that work that he was doing before the war?

JM: 00:49:41 Well, I knew he was in a lot of organization and um, the Japanese Association. I know he started the Boy Scouts in Portland and my Mom was real happy about that because she used to tell me, you know, they finally got a Boy Scouts for the Japanese kids.

AT: 00:50:00 Hmm. And ah, when he was writing, did you have any idea where he was writing from or where he was?

JM: 00:50:14 Well, yeah, because it would say the camp he was from, you know.

AT: 00:50:19 So that part wasn't censored?

JM: 00:50:21 No. So we knew where were he was.

AT: 00:50:30 To go back a little bit.

JM: 00:50:31 Yeah

AT: 00:50:31 You were in Milwaukee?

JM: 00:50:35 Yeah

AT: 00:50:35 Uh

JM: 00:50:35 And then my Dad died. So then I went back to camp and it was strange because, uh, my sister called that day and she said, you know, I want to come over and you know, we never got together except on our day off and this was not our day off. So she came over and she was with me because it wasn't my deal. So she stayed with me. And then that night we got a phone call and from camp and it said, you need to come home, because Dad isn't feeling well. And so the couple that I was staying at was wondering how urgent it was because I had to get a plane fare and all this stuff. So we called again to find out how urgent it was and they told us that he had died. So then we decided it was urgent, so we went back when my sister and I feel bad, I think I left my stuff there at this house. I was thinking about it the other day I wonder what happened to. I think she wrote me and asked me what should we do with your things and I think I just told her just throw it away.

AT: 00:52:05 Hmm.

JM: 00:52:06 But I never really kept up with them. They were, you know, good to me compared to what happened with the first family.

AT: 00:52:21 And um, when your, when your father was released, and came to Minidoka was he just staying with your Mom? Had your older sister left already?

JM: 00:52:33 Yeah, yeah, because from Milwaukee, I went back to camp for the funeral and then I left again in August, I think. And I went to Iowa, and I went to a Methodist college, Simpson College. I went there one year. I worked in the kitchen, to make, so I could have room and board free and I had made enough money for the tuition. So then when the school year ended, in the meantime, my Mom had left camp and she didn't want to go back to the West Coast. So she said she wanted to start new out East, so she came out here to Detroit and so after my first year as Simpson, I went to Detroit and I was there in Michigan for about three months and I worked, I didn't like working, so I thought, well there must be a better way of doing things and working. And I thought, well I'm going to go back to school again. So in those days, it's not like today. And I went up to Michigan, University of Michigan, I talked to the administrative person, gave him my story and he said you can start this semester, which was like next week. And uh, but in the meantime he had to get my transcripts and stuff. So he got my transcripts and Michigan would not accept my high school credits from camp. So that meant what that meant, the one year that I did at Simpson, they took those credits and put it down to my high school credits. So that because of that then I was accepted. But then in the meantime I lost so many hours. So I went a couple of summers to make up for the hours that I lost in, but um, it worked, you know, it worked out fine.

AT: 00:55:01 When you were at Simpson, what were you, were you on any kind of track or what were you studying?

JM: 00:55:06 Oh I wasn't. I was just, you know, it was small. It was during the war. There were only 394 kids, it was smaller than my high school. I guess that's what I didn't like about it. It was like high school. I did live in a dorm, which was a good experience, but I don't know, I just, I didn't care for it. I mean you know, I guess I thought it was his college, you know, it's small. So then I went the opposite and went to Michigan with about 35,000 students, you know, but.

AT: 00:55:56 Do you know any, anything more about your mother's decision to move East?

JM: 00:56:02 No, because I really wasn't there. Just what my sister said. She just said Mom just didn't want to go back because there was nothing to go back to. She lost her business. My Dad lost his business. He wasn't around anymore, so she said there was no use going back. So she said it's going to start new. She wanted to go out East.

AT: 00:56:38 And um, as far as the rest of your schooling, um, did you finish at University of Michigan?

JM: 00:56:46 Yeah I finished at University of Michigan in '48.

AT: 00:56:50 Hmm. And hat was your degree in?

JM: 00:56:53 I had a BS degree, I don't know what it was. It was a long time ago. Yeah.

AT: 00:57:03 And, and where did you go from there?

JM: 00:57:05 Oh, then in the meantime, my Mom, uh, moved to Chicago because she really couldn't find a good job in Detroit. She was doing domestic and then she, what was she doing? She was working in a nursing home and she had her room and board there, but she, um, but had friends here and the friends said come to Chicago, you'll find a better job. My Mom was a good seamstress so she said, come to Chicago. So that's what she did. And when I finished I came here.

AT: 00:57:51 Was your sister still in Detroit?

JM: 00:57:53 My sister was here, but then she moved back to Detroit.

AT: 00:58:00 And um, where did your Mom end up in Chicago? Do you know which neighborhood or...

JM: 00:58:06 Well, she was on the South Side know, but eventually we moved North.

AT: 00:58:15 Hmm. On the South Side, would that have been Hyde Park area?

JM: 00:58:18 No. Further South.

AT: 00:58:22 Do you know the, what the area is called?

JM: 00:58:25 Well, it was, it was on Cottage Grove. She lived in this apartment owned by a Japanese where this friend that she was corresponding with in Detroit also lived in the same place. Yeah. It was in the Black neighborhood.

AT: 00:58:45 And when you arrived, what, what were you doing? Where did you

JM: 00:58:50 Well I stayed with her for. Yeah. And then then we moved North, so I had my own room and stayed with her. And where, where was that? That was on Grace street. On Broadway. There off of the drive.

AT: 00:59:14 Lakeview Area?

JM: 00:59:15 Lakeview, I think.

AT: 00:59:18 And were you doing anything for work?

JM: 00:59:21 I'm sorry?

AT: 00:59:22 For work?

JM: 00:59:22 Yeah, I, in the meantime then I found a job at Northwestern and always doing a research work.

AT: 00:59:32 Can you tell me more about that position? So you were commuting from?

JM: 00:59:38 Yeah, from there, on Grace to Northwestern and just doing kind of lab work, you know.

AT: 00:59:54 And so that's something that I've probably your degree helped you?

JM: 01:00:04 Yeah, yeah.

AT: 01:00:04 And what do you, what do you remember about that neighborhood at the time that you were living there? What was it like?

JM: 01:00:12 Do you mean on Grace?

AT: 01:00:14 Yeah

JM: 01:00:15 It was nice. You know, it was, I don't know how it is now, but it was nice then. I just remembered being safe and I used to go down to Lincoln Park and take a, what do you call it? Polishing stones, lapidary is it? I think. Yeah. And did enameling. I used to go to two or three times a week. It was convenient. The bus was right there on the corner and it was safe to come home late. And so it was a good neighborhood.

AT: 01:01:04 And so when you were commuting places, were you traveling mostly by bus?

JM: 01:01:10 Yeah. Those days it was pretty frequent. The buses came one right after another and it was cheap.

AT: 01:01:24 And what were the, at the time, what were the general demographics and living like you were there other Japanese Americans??

JM: 01:01:36 I don't remember. I don't think so. Not unl, well, I think this building had Japanese. Yeah. Yeah, they did. It was owned by Japanese person.

AT: 01:01:58 And so this, um, this was around the time where there were a few activities for young Japanese American folks in the city. Were you involved at all with

JM: 01:02:14 No, I wasn't, I just went to the church. I don't know what it was called. I think it's called Ravenswood now. But I wasn't involved in any of that.

AT: 01:02:27 And then did you know anyone else besides your family in Chicago?

JM: 01:02:38 Did I know?

AT: 01:02:39 Anyone else? Did you have any friends or

JM: 01:02:42 Not really. Well, I used to go the Resettlers, you know, you know make friends there. Well, yeah, I guess I did. Yeah. Yeah.

AT: 01:02:57 And what, what brought you to the Resettlers Committee?

JM: 01:03:02 I think just to get to know more people, you know, we were all kind of...didn't know anybody. Remember when we first came out here. First thing you'd ask would be which camp were you in? [laughs]

AT: 01:03:30 And do you remember how you found out about Resettlers Committee? Is that just something that people knew about or--?

JM: 01:03:37 I don't know. I had no idea.

AT: 01:03:41 And when you were going, where was it located?

JM: 01:03:43 I don't remember. I'm not much, not very helpful. I don't remember.

AT: 01:03:49 But did

JM: 01:03:49 Yeah

AT: 01:03:49 Go ahead.

JM: 01:03:53 No, I think Dan Kuzahara was a head of that. I don't know. Maybe we knew him or something. I don't know. I, I, I can't say,

AT: 01:04:10 But it, it helped you meet other

JM: 01:04:12 Other people.

AT: 01:04:16 And where did you meet your husband?

JM: 01:04:17 I met him at church.

AT: 01:04:20 And when, when did you get married or how long

JM: 01:04:27 We got married in '58.

AT: 01:04:34 And did you meet him when you first arrived in Chicago from going to church or?

JM: 01:04:47 I don't know when I met him (laughs), love at first sight. I don't remember anything.

AT: 01:04:51 And ah, when you got married did you move from Grace Street?

JM: 01:04:55 Yeah. No, what happened was when we got married, we were looking for some place to live and there was prejudice there. So we would go to these places that had "For Rent" signs and they would come to the door and just say, oh, we just rented the place. Well, we knew that they hadn't. I'd go by there a month later, the "For Rent" sign is still there. And we had, you know, several of those experiences. One time I called an ad in the paper and this guy answered. He is such a heavy accent. I could hardly understand him. And I asked him if he would rent to Japanese Americans and in his heavy accent he would say I'd like to, but if I did, my tenants would complain so I can't. So that was that. But then we saw another for rent sign on Grace Street, about a block from my Mom and we went there and it was a German lady. She had an accent and she was very willing to rent to us. So we had a third floor, three or four bedroom apartment, which was nice.

AT: 01:06:19 And has your work changed?

JM: 01:06:25 No, I was still down at Northwestern.

AT: 01:06:28 How long were you at Northwestern?

JM: 01:06:30 Oh no, I guess I had gone to work for a doctor and I was doing some of her lab work. I don't know, do you know of a Dr. Farnsworth?

AT: 01:06:45 Sorry?

JM: 01:06:45 Farnsworth. She had that Mies van der Rohe house. It's on the Fox River. It gets flooded. It's an all glass house.

AT: 01:07:01 I don't know.

JM: 01:07:01 Well, anyway, that was her house and she was going to a, a battle with him. She was suing him and he was well known architect and um, so she used to tell me the latest, uh, what was going on with her and the legal battles she was having. Now, I worked for her for about three years I think, but I didn't particularly care for the office environment, so I went back to Northwestern and got another research job and I stayed there until I got pregnant and then I left there.

AT: 01:07:54 And so have you been on the...Were you on the North Side through most of your marriage or?

JM: 01:08:02 Yeah, I consider myself a North sider even though we live on the South Side.

AT: 01:08:07 When did you make that move?

JM: 01:08:08 Well then my husband got a job in park force, which is pretty far. This was before Dan Ryan, so he did that for two years and by then our daughter was 2, so we decided to move up to the South Suburbs and that's how we ended up there. But my heart is always on the North Side. Yeah.

AT: 01:08:41 And do you just have one?

JM: 01:08:43 No, I have a son and a daughter. She, she lives in Downers. She has her own business.

AT: 01:08:54 And um, do you remember where they were going to school?

JM: 01:09:00 Yeah, yeah. When she got to be a, well we moved out to Harvey first. It was a real nice town. I loved the place, but the schools were not that good, and Homewood-Flossmoor had great schools. So we moved to Homewood cause my husband's friends or coworkers, told him to move there. But um we were kind of hesitant because we had heard there was an incident with a Japanese family there. Who lived there and they were not welcomed. But anyway, I'm the executive director where am I was my work and said there's a house rent for rent next door to him. So she want to look at it, you know, so it was kind of a or year old house, but it was better than living in Harvey and having our daughter go to a school that we didn't really think was that great. So we moved to, also, then I called the owner of the house and I gave her the same spiel. We're Japanese Americans and would you rent to us? And she says, oh, by all means, you know, you're welcome to rent the house. So, um, with those words we were, you know, we moved in and, well, my husband did a lot of work on the house because it was really in bad shape and uh, we moved there. And I made friends. Well, the neighbors are really nice to me. They were around the same age and when you have kids the same age and you know, your mother, the mothers, the parents that get together. And um, but uh, there was this one gal I was quite friendly with and later on she told me that there were some neighbors that were unhappy that you move in, but I figured, well we're renting so why would they feel bad? But actually, you know, openly, we didn't have any problems.

AT: 01:11:19 Hmm. Would you say that? Um, that was one of, that was the biggest challenge of life in Chicago was?

JM: 01:11:29 No, not really. I didn't really feel any prejudice except for the apartment hunting. Yeah,

AT: 01:11:37 So that, that kind of prejudice, it wasn't really. You didn't experience it sounds like you didn't experience that before your.

JM: 01:11:46 Yeah. No really, especially when we moved to Homewood, there were some people that are really happy to see us and they wanted to know about, about us and everything. So, and you know, my kids, they participated in the, what little league and my daughter was in girl scouts and they were well accepted so I don't think I didn't, I don't remember any really bad experience probably behind my back yeah, but yeah you know.

AT: 01:12:27 And in this area was there like, I know closer in the, in the city, like on the North Side. And also the South Side that there were things like, uh, the, that you've backed the basketball league, um, or a different baseball teams or bowling leagues or you know, things for, for young people of Japanese descent. Was there anything like that in Homewood or nearby?

JM: 01:13:07 No, I think we were the only Japanese in town, probably. You know, because they went to HF and there weren't any, maybe there were a couple of Chinese people, you know, kids, but I think they were basically the only Japanese students.

AT: 01:13:27 Hmm. And when your kids were growing up, did you ever.

JM: 01:13:32 Well, yeah. You mean the, the prejudice? No.

AT: 01:13:36 Oh, I was gonna ask if, um, you ever spoke to them about, um, your experiences during the war?

JM: 01:13:44 Oh, no, not really. Yeah. No, I never said. Maybe, you know, little touch here and there. I think when they were in high school we asked them if it was in their social studies book or history book and she showed us one little paragraph with maybe two sentences that mentioned evacuation. But other than that, I don't think so. I don't really remember talking about it. I may have, but I don't remember

AT: 01:14:25 At any point did they, do you remember them asking you about it or like maybe later in their life were they

JM: 01:14:32 Not really.

AT: 01:14:36 And then before I interrupted you, it's, you're going to say something about your kids experiencing prejudice.

JM: 01:14:48 Oh yeah in school. Yeah, there were some kids. I think my daughter, she came home one day when she was in second grade I think or third grade and she said she didn't want to go out in the playground and play and anymore. I think it was because people were calling her names and she didn't like that so she didn't want to go out. And I remember I went to the school, talked to the teacher, she was Jewish. She understood exactly what I was saying. So she said she would resolve it in some way. And then my son, I don't know what grade he was but similar kept calling him, you know chink, or you know what they used to do and he said he had had it. So he was taking judo at the time. So he took this kid and threw him over his shoulder and he said he's never said anything after that. So they uh, he solved his own problem. But those are the only two incidents that I can remember. Is basically I, I just feel, you know, things were okay, I think.

AT: 01:16:30 And uh, as we start wrapping up, I know you had mentioned that you took some notes for the things that you wanted to be sure to talk about. One of them was the incident at the assembly center. Was there anything, anything else? Well, and one thing I wanted to be sure to ask you about was about your research. Um, both what happened to your father and also his incident. Can you tell me more about what that process has been like for you when you started looking into these cases?

JM: 01:17:11 My Dad's stuff. Um well actually it's been behind my mind or in my mind for years. I uh, Portland had an FBI exhibit in 2010 or something and I, and at the time I found out I could get the reports on my Dad. So, um, I wrote and they sent me like 100 pages of this stuff and I just kinda let it sit in the closet. Well, since I can't move around too much anymore in June I thought well, and I found a note books in the house, archival, archival notebook. I thought oh this will be good for my Dad. So that's when I started in June and I, uh, I had the WRA report I sent for that, but there's nothing in there. He was only there 6 months and it was mostly about his disability insurance and there's nothing there. But in the DOJ report it told what happened to him and uh, you know, it helped me a lot because I've always wondered what went on and then I got to reading these books again and you know, I understood them, or I understood more what was going on and what happened. And this last book I read it was written by a Hawaiian guy and it's mostly about his Hawaiian friends in the camp, but still it tells about, you know, what happened to them and the abuses and you know, I didn't really know there was that much abuse, but I guess there was.

AT: 01:19:22 And what has that been like to kind of go back and dig into the details of

JM: 01:19:31 Well, it's been sad.

AT: 01:19:34 Hmm.

JM: 01:19:36 I um, someone asked me were you, are you bitter about it? And I thought, well, I might have been at one time, but I was more sad, you know, that something like this happened. That all of these things happened to these men. They were, they were held, held for no reason than being a leader in the government wanted them out of the community so the Japanese people that were left behind wouldn't know what to do, and uh, you know. And then some of the guys that got killed in these camps because they went to near the fence, like the cook. And uh, it's just, you know, I, I kinda feel satisfied after all these years.

AT: 01:20:34 Hmm.

JM: 01:20:35 That I finally found out. Right now I'm the, um, I wrote to the FBI and trying to get their, uh, FBI files. But you have to go through the Freedom of Information Act. So I'm trying, well, I'm waiting for them to give me a number so I can follow up on that. I don't know if there's anything there, but when I've written they tell me, well, I guess there are four files you can get. The DOJ the WRA, the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization, interested in the Immigration and Naturalization. I don't know what would be in there? But the other three I am, interested in. I got the two so.

AT: 01:21:31 And I, I think. Oh yeah. Because that the immigration, they were overseeing Crystal City, which he never went to a different department of Justice Camp.

JM: 01:21:46 I'm sorry?

AT: 01:21:49 I was just, um, we can talk about. Okay. And that that's been a very recent process it sounds like that you started.

JM: 01:22:07 Yeah, the DOJ files, you know, or not because I started that in 2016 and the WRA files probably around the same time, but actually going through the whole thing I'm making the scrapbook is since June and it seems every time I'm finished there's always something new. Now, I got the FBI files I'm working on, but then, you know, I got the translation of my Dad's memo. So like I have that in the script or, and, and the, the journal. Yeah, the job letter.

AT: 01:22:46 Where did you find that?

JM: 01:22:48 My Mom carried it around in, you know, we lost everything. We had some stuff in the apartment in the locker and someone broke in and took it and so there was nothing. We had nothing but my Mom did, you know, hang onto that and memo, so. But it was interesting because on one of the notes he wrote the Spanish Council was here today and I thought, "Oh that's strange." But then as I read the book, they were called, they depended on the Spanish Council to iron out things and I guess they had all this abuse. So in Missoula or I guess other camps, but he was in Missoula I think at the time. Either there or Fort Sill and he wrote Spanish Council and I thought, oh they must have come to see what the abuses were. Yeah.

AT: 01:23:59 And how does it feel to see, because you have a sweater that your Mom knitted you and also that book. Oh, how does that feel to see those in an exhibition is setting?

JM: 01:24:15 Well, I'm kinda happy because now people know. I mean it should be brought out. There should be a conversation on it. You know, I, I even myself, I never talked about it because I just felt uncomfortable telling people my Dad was picked up by the FBI because he was an enemy alien. Well, now with that exhibit from Portland and all this stuff, yeah, it's, I'm glad it's out I can talk about it. So.

AT: 01:24:53 And to you, why is that something that's important to share or that for people to know about?

JM: 01:25:04 I'm sorry?

AT: 01:25:04 Why, why is it important to you for people to know about it?

JM: 01:25:10 Well, it's a history and people should know what happened to the Japanese people, you know, people of color. It's a racist thing, you know. Yeah, like my Dad, he really didn't do anything. He was trying to help the community by being in all of this organization. He wasn't an enemy alien. He was going to say, I mean he stayed here when you were supposed to go back to Japan because he liked it here. You know. And we were raised to, you know, think American and be proud of our country and everything so people should know that, where even the shooting people should know what happened.

AT: 01:26:14 Um, as we wrap up here, one question I like to ask is, um, what are your, well, I guess first, what if you could leave some kind of legacy or message for your children and grandchildren? What would you want that to be?

JM: 01:26:39 I don't know. It will be a personal thing. Yeah. So like, you know, is that do to your grandfather. It shouldn't happen again.

AT: 01:26:55 And what kind of hopes do you have for, for your kids and grandkids?

JM: 01:27:01 Well, my kids, you know, they're doing pretty well, but I don't know, the climate that it is today. I kind of wonder. I hope that people care for each other more. You know, we're different, but we're the same. Yeah. I have a very good Black American. Yeah. What is it? African American friend. You know, we get into these discussions and she feels the same way. Yeah. Because I don't know too much about Black history, but I just finished reading the book The Other Half That Hasn't Been Told. Have you heard? Yeah. It gives a history of the Blacks, they were even treated rotten. I mean we were treated rotten but they were also treated rotten. You know, sad. So.

AT: 01:28:21 Is um, there anything else that you'd like to add or that I might've missed?

JM: 01:28:26 No, not really. I don't know. Just that one book that really didn't tell the true story of the shooting. That kind of upset me, but you know what, I wrote to uh Densho. They sent me an oral history of somebody I knew and he said the same thing that I saw. So I felt better about that, that I wasn't the only one who saw this.

AT: 01:29:08 Hmm. And what, what's the book that you're referring to that didn't have the

JM: 01:29:13 Well, I don't know whether I should say. So you can cut it out.

AT: 01:29:20 Okay (laughs)

JM: 01:29:22 It's called The Gift and it's a story that this grandfather told this Sansei in, on this one page, he says that it was a white cook. And that really upset me because it wasn't a white cook, you know. But then on the other hand when I was reading the Interment Odyssey Furuya, says that he, he lists a number of people that helped him, you know, like doctors and there was this one doctor, he was very appreciative of because of uh, here were two detainees that were shot in Lordsburg and um, he was in the government demanded that he put a different reason for their death and he didn't, he wouldn't do it. So I thought, well maybe that's what happened with this. What happened at that time? They were not supposed to say it was a Japanese cook.

AT: 01:30:44 Hmm.

JM: 01:30:47 You know, it was a hush hush. I could still see the guy with his in his white chef uniform with blood oozing out of his stomach. It was a horrible sight. Then at 16, you know?

AT: 01:31:06 Hmm.

JM: 01:31:08 But I'm glad that was, you know, cleared up now. I feel better about that.

AT: 01:31:18 Hmm. Anything else?

JM: 01:31:19 No, nothing really.

AT: 01:31:22 Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.

JM: 01:31:25 Oh, yeah.