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Listed below are the summaries of oral histories created by the Florin Japanese American Citizens League Oral History Project and the North Central Valley Oral History Project. These oral histories relate the personal stories of the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry. There is a wide variety of interviews of former internees, military personnel, people who befriended the Japanese Americans, and Caucasians who worked at the internment camps.
The oral histories are available for researchers at the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Library, California State University, Sacramento. Photocopies are limited to a maximum of 20 pages per volume. Complete volumes can be purchased through the local chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League.
MASATOSHI ABE. Mr. Abe (age 92) was interviewed in Japanese by Mary Tsukamoto. The book consists of 32 pages in English and 34 pages in Japanese text, one photo of Abe and Mrs. Schulze's letter. The transcription and translation were under direction of Dr. Kobashigawa of San Francisco State University. Son James assisted with the editing. Mr. Abe was able to recall coming to America at age 18 and working with his father in Utah copper mines with several hundred other Japanese. He talks about prewar anti-Japanese feelings in the Sacramento area, working hard for $1 a day for John Davis growing berries and grapes and sending any savings back to relatives in Japan. The postwar years were spent farming in the Elder Creek area. Son James operated the farm and cared for his father until his death in 1991.
ONATSU AKIYAMA. There are 59 pages of text out of the total 67 pages of this oral history of Mrs. Akiyama (89), a widow. The interview covered three sessions and was in Japanese with some comments from the interviewer and son Ryozo. She talks of doing many kinds of work, in many places in Japan, Jerome Relocation Center, with husband in Crystal City, Texas, and around Sacramento for very low pay, and pooling of resources among relatives and friends. As her four sons became older, they were a big help as the family tried to cope and survive in Japan and Sacramento, especially in her retirement years. The eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren bring satisfaction, as well as various religious literature. Living in Hiroshima after the atom bomb, defeat of Japan and resultant hardships were "the saddest time of our entire life."
FUMIKO AKUTAGAWA. Fumiko Akutagawa is a Nisei woman who was born in Madera, California in 1923 to the Hirahara family. She described the hardships during her childhood--growing up without a father, having no electricity, and using a hand pump to water the horses. She completed the local schools and was a student at Fresno State College taking a business course when the family was interned in Fresno Assembly Center and Jerome, Arkansas Relocation Center. She took classes at the Fashion Design School in Cincinnati, but her dream of a career was never accomplished. She married and had five children, was widowed and remarried.
BUNZO AND HARUYE ASOO. Bunzo Asoo was 86 and Haruye Asoo was 80 when interviewed in Japanese and both are now deceased. They migrated to California as young adults due to hard times but returned in 1919 to Okayama to get married. They felt America offered the best for their seven children but returned to Japan frequently, often to study. The war years were spent in Tule Lake, California and Topaz, Utah camps. In 1945, they returned to Sacramento and Bunzo, worked as a gardener from 7 a.m. at 25 cents an hour with a push mower. The temperature rose to 105 degrees at times. After retirement at 65, he engaged in yoga exercises, enjoyed all kinds of food and did much volunteer work for the Adventist Church. The appendix of the book contains many prewar and wartime documents, passports, travel permits, immigration forms, evacuation claims forms, personal property listings and family trees.
LARSON AND BUTLER. This brief oral history is about two non-Nikkei friends of Japanese Americans of the Florin area, especially of Mary Tsukamoto. There are two photos, one each of Larson and Butler; twenty pages of text (two devoted to Butler). Both spent their childhood and later life as friends of the Nikkei. Larson mentions association with Hawaiian Nisei in his military service of two years. Butler was a life-long friend of education and there is "Arthur C. Butler Elementary School" in his honor.
Mr. Coombs, 77 years old, is a Sacramento native, Stanford University graduate with a teaching credential and one of the first relocation center educators. He helped set up the school curriculum at Minidoka and taught English and Social Sciences. Teaching the Japanese American students was a job he took seriously with dedication and pride. He lived among them in camp, endured their hardships, shared their joys and became closely acquainted with students and parents. He remained in contact after the camps closed, after the war ended and even to this day. His late wife, Marguerite Askew, was also a teacher in
Minidoka, and taught Spanish and French.
BEVERLEE FILLOY. Beverlee Filloy is a Caucasian woman who had a collection of letters written by a high school classmate during the evacuation and internment in Tanforan Race Track in San Bruno, California and Topaz, Utah Relocation Center. Her book contains copies of many of those letters which follow the young man, Michihiko Hayashida, from the time he left his home in Berkeley on May 7, 1942. He describes the conditions in Tanforan Assembly Center, the move to Topaz Relocation Center, his experiences in college, medical school and the U.S. Army. Beverlee recalls that during high school, "He was a very shy and good looking young man, and we had some intensive conversations because we shared some other classes. And when the dreadful order came, that all of my classmates were to leave, I asked Mich if he would write to me." Beverlee was born in 1926, attended local schools and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. She was the wife of a serviceman, mother of two children and in private practice as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. And at age 75, she is still working.
MARGARET GUNDERSON & MARGERY FIELD.
This oral history is about Margaret Gunderson, her daughter Margery Field, and her star pupil Dr. Yuzuru Takeshita. The late Mrs. Gunderson (1903-1997) was interviewed in May 1997, and died a month later. She was an outstanding, dedicated teacher at Tule Lake Tri-State High School. Parts of her accumulated writings, documents, and students' essays are utilized in this book, and the rest is at CSUS Library, Japanese American Archival Collection. She wrote, "No teaching experience can compare with the joy and satisfaction of work at Tule Lake." Daughter Margery fully understood and supported her parents' work at Tule Lake. Her father, Martin Gunderson, was principal of Tri-State High School. Yuzuru Takeshita, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, a Kibei, discusses the need for understanding, healing and forgiveness.
MIYO FUKANO. An Issei woman, age 101, whose written responses were translated by Rev. Ishiura. Miyo Fukano was able to read magazines from Japan at age 101, but had great difficulty hearing. So, her interview was not oral, but she wrote responses to questions. Interned at Turlock and Gila River.
Mrs. Miyo Fukano was born in 1896 in Japan and was left by her parents with her grandmother. At age twenty, she came to the Stockton delta area and was married to a man fourteen years her senior. She wrote, "That evening, there was a welcome party and a wedding ceremony. There were a number of rooms upstairs and in one of them, a married life began." She also described her work, "The female cooked, worked ten hours and the pay was $5.00. Meals cost fifty cents." She described camp life in Turlock, California and Gila River Arizona. In 1953 Mrs. Fukano attended night school and obtained her U.S. citizenship in a ceremony in San Francisco. Her book contains a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Fukano at the ceremony and a copy of her Certificate of Naturalization.
JOY NOZAKI GEE. This oral history tells of Joy Gee (72) living in several places in Japan and America and her involvement in many activities. She was born in Fife, Washington, the family moved to Garden Grove, California, and thence north to Arroyo Grande. WW II years were spent in Gila River Relocation Center and the family (mother, Joy and one sister) was united with their father who was interned in the Crystal
City Internment Camp in and operated by the Department of Justice. After the war, the family went to Kyoto and managed to survive by working for the Sixth Army Occupation Forces during this period of extreme shortages. Now in retirement, Joy is enjoying her children and grandchildren, and activities of the Mayhew Baptist Church and CSUS Japanese American Archival Collection Committee.
WILLIAM HAMMAKER. William Hammaker was a Caucasian man who visited the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona. He was first interviewed by his daughter, Carol Stoughton, at his home in Camarillo, California and later by Joanne Iritani. This ninety year old man revealed a vivid memory of visiting the Gila River Relocation Center. Mr. Hammaker also shared his life story from childhood, through his college days at Penn State University, meeting and marrying his wife Twila, the various locations where he was the director of the YMCA and his activities in his retirement years.
YAEKO HATANO. Oral history of Yaeko, Issei widow, (35 pages) and family history album (24 pages) of Hatano, Fujimoto and Miyazaki families compiled after their 1993 Honolulu Reunion. Yaeko was interviewed by son Mas and daughter Gerry. She was born in Kumamoto, Japan; educated there through high school, married there and immigrated to Isleton and Newcastle in Northern California. World War II was spent in Tule Lake aware of the pro and anti-Japan factions around them and managing not to get too involved. The family then resettled in Loomis California and finally in the Sacramento area. This Hatano family lived in many places and did many kinds of work to survive. They are grateful that the children obtained American college education, found steady government employment and finally, are enjoying retirement.
Nisei man. Shuki and Marian Hayashi were
interviewed by Vi Hatano. Shuki was in
Poston Relocation Center and Marian
was supervisor of the Poston nursery school. Shuki
Hayashi was born in Salinas in 1918. His mother was widowed when he was seven years old and she
raised six little children as a cook in a Japanese labor camp.
Shuki was the major wage earner in the family when he was in high school.
At UC Berkeley in 1940, he was advised to change his major because no
Nisei could get a job as an engineer. When
the war began, Shuki and his family were interned in Poston, Arizona where he
taught high school physics and math. In
1943, he volunteered for the army and discovered that his brother had also
volunteered. They both served in the
442nd Regimental Combat Team and saw combat action. His brother died just before the war with Germany ended and is
buried in Italy.
Lind was a Quaker whose first job after college was at the Poston Relocation
Center. She was assigned to be supervisor
of the nursery school. About their
meeting, Marian said, "I used to see this thoughtful-looking young man
walking along with his pipe in his mouth and he interested me."
They met at his neighbor's place in Poston.
KUNI HIRONAKA. Born and raised in the Sacramento area, Kuni is one of eight siblings and has four children and three grandchildren. During WWII he had TB and spent some time in a sanitarium. He also received outside treatment and rehabilitation. Due to being of Japanese ancestry, he was under WRA (War Relocation Authority) even when a patient in the sanitarium. Resettlement was difficult due to poor health and loss of the family house to fire. Land was acquired in Mayhew area and family was engaged in farming. He worked at McClellan AFB for 37 years. During this period and in retirement he was active in fighting discrimination in employment. Kuni was active in the JACL, Consumer Affairs, Senior Concerns and election of Matsui to Congress.
IIYAMA AND ERNEST SATOSHI IIYAMA.
Nisei couple. Chizu and
Ernest Iiyama were interviewed at their home in El Cerrito, California by Joanne
Iritani. Chizu was at Santa Anita
and Topaz; Ernie at Tanforan and Topaz.
Ernest Iiyama was born in Oakland California in 1912, and in 1920 the family returned to Japan where Ernie completed high school. In 1930 he returned to America, completed high school and entered U.C. Berkeley, majoring in electrical engineering. He learned about civil and equal rights from members in the Young Democrats of California. In 1934 he helped organize the Oakland Chapter of the JACL and the Nisei Young Democrats of the East Bay. He was interned at Tanforan Racetrack and was elected to the camp council while living in a horse stall. At Topaz he was head of the Housing Department and was elected to the Camp Council.
Chizu and Ernie
were married in Chicago and relocated to New York City where both were active in
the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. The
family returned to the Bay Area and Chizu was later head of the Early Childhood
Education Department of Contra Costa College. She
was on the El Cerrito Human Relations Committee, Contra Costa JACL, and the
National Coalition for Redress and Reparations. Ernie
worked as a machinist and later became a computer technician. They are retired and lobby for Latin American Japanese redress and
are active with the National Japanese American Historical Society.
MINAYO AND SUMAKO IMADA. Oral histories of Minayo, in her early 90's (in Japanese), and Sumako (daughter), age 76, and autobiography (11 pages) by great-grandson Stephen, age 19. Minayo came to America as teenage picture bride, to "make money," worked in the fields for $1 a day, had two children, seven grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren, and died at age 98. Sumako tells of many hardships living in America and Japan, in Jerome camp, divorcing husband, getting her children into college. Though born and residing in Piedmont, California, Stephen Egawa reminisces about visits to his great-grandmother and other relatives in the Taishoku area of Sacramento.
FRANK IRITANI. As with most Americans, Frank (76) is a child of immigrants. His parents came from Okayama, Japan, seeking a better life. His education is rather broad, two years at Nichibei Gakuin, Tokyo, as a young teenager, two years in U. S. military with the Military Intelligence Service, a couple of prewar years at Colorado School of Mines, a couple of post WWII years at University of Minnesota, and three years at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley. Born in Denver, Colorado, he was not forced into a relocation center but, nevertheless, was subjected to discrimination. He is married to Joanne (Ono, Poston internee), and they visited all ten relocation campsites which resulted in the small book, Ten Visits: Brief Accounts of Visits to All Relocation Centers, 1995.
TED ISHIHARA. An Issei man interviewed by Bernice Endow. The tapes were translated and transcribed by Toyoyuki Fuka, a student from Japan attending CSUS. Interned at Pinedale and Tule Lake. Tetsuo Ted Ishihara was born in 1905 in Japan. His father left Japan in 1910. By the time Tetsuo came to American in 1922, immigration was limited to those who were related to resident aliens in the United States. Ted was a Yobiyose, or one who is called. He worked in the laundry business in Ogden, Utah and Tacoma, Washington. The family was interned in Pinedale, California Assembly Center and Tule Lake Relocation Center where Ted was a block manager. He described life in Tule Lake and his work for the railroad. He was a leader in his Buddhist Church.
WOODROW ISHIKAWA. This oral history reads like an "average Nisei." Mr. Ishikawa is now 78 and probably around the average age of Nisei today. He is a Sacramento native and youngest of five children. As with other Nisei, his life has consisted of getting an education, helping with the family grape crops, marriage and raising a family, a couple of years in Jerome camp, serving a stint in the military and coping with discrimination as was the lot of every Nisei. During these days of retirement with wife, Mary, he is concerned with his health, especially arthritis; travels, golfs and is enjoying his two grandchildren. He says the low point and saddest experience was "the preparation to leave for the relocation center."
REV. NEWTON ISHIURA. A Kibei man interviewed by Hiroko Tsuda. Santa Anita, Hillcrest Sanitarium and Gila River. Newton Ishiura was born in 1918 in Hawaii. His father was a Buddhist priest serving a sugar plantation population. He was educated in the local schools and in his sophomore year of high school the family went to Japan and he graduated from a Lutheran related institution for children from foreign countries. He then graduated from a university in Kyoto, studying Buddhist traditions.
In 1940 there was an all-Nisei conference in Japan. He heard others speak of the Japanese military. The Japanese police considered him to be an anti-Japanese thinker. He was ordered to report his activities to the police every three months. A friend at the American Consulate in Osaka warned him to return to America. In July 1941 he boarded a boat bound for San Francisco. That night going from Kobe to Yokohama, teams of Japanese police interrogated him, but his responses were acceptable and he was able to continue his journey. He was assigned to Buddhist churches in the Los Angeles area. When World War II began, all other priests in Los Angeles were arrested by the FBI. Newton was interned in the Santa Anita Race Track Assembly Center, where he became ill with tuberculosis. He was sent to Hillcrest Sanitarium where there were 168 Japanese persons and he conducted interfaith services for the patients. He was discharged to Gila River, Arizona Relocation Center and after a short stay, he left to work elsewhere. In 1943, he went to Yale University as Instructor in the Army Specialized Training Program teaching the Japanese language.
After the war, Newton was assigned to churches in Hawaii where he developed the Buddhist Wheel to be the symbol on gravestones of deceased soldiers. He also worked with the Boy Scouts to develop the Sangha Award merit badge and served on the National Board of Scouts. He developed the hospital chaplaincy program as well as serving as chaplain to the Hawaiian legislature. Newton was transferred to the Buddhist Church in Toronto, Canada in 1956. He increased the membership of his church, was involved in the Canadian Interfaith Committee supporting the rights of Indians, and became the first Bishop of the Buddhist Church of Canada in 1967. He related the treatment of Japanese Canadians by their government during the war. He was then assigned to the Buddhist Church in Berkeley where his wife died, and later to the Florin Buddhist Church. He is now retired from the ministry.
KAORU ITO. An Issei woman interviewed by Dorothy Okura and Chisato Watanabe. Interned at Stockton and Rohwer. Mrs. Kaoru Ito was born in Japan in 1904 and immigrated to Oakland at age 14. She attended school one year then worked for the mayor of Alameda as a schoolgirl. She attended sewing schools and opened her own school in Oakland. In 1926 she married a Stockton businessman. The family was interned in Stockton Assembly Center and Rohwer, Arkansas Relocation Center where Mrs. Ito taught ikebana flower arranging and tea ceremony. They returned to Stockton after the war and Mrs. Ito did housework and continued teaching her classes. In 1953 Mrs. Ito joined many Issei taking classes to obtain her American citizenship. A photo of this occasion is in her book.
KAZUO AND ISAO ITO.
This is a grand life story of a large family of 12 children, 40 grandchildren and 26
great-grandchildren. Mr. Kazuo Ito
passed away in Sacramento December 27, 1995 after a full life of 98 years. Mrs. Isao Ito died at age 77 in 1979. All 12 children survive and this oral history was obtained with assistance of eldest son, Paul, 73, and other children. The Issei migrated to America "to make money" and seek a better life but for some it was considerable hardship. In Mrs. Ito's words, "I thought the suffering in Japan was bad, but the suffering in America was worse."
SHIZUKO ITO, MITSUKO HIRONAKA & ALLAN HIDA. This book contains three oral history interviews conducted by Sue Hida. Mitsuko Hironaka and Shizuko Ito are Nisei women, great-aunts to interviewer Sue. Allan Hida, Sue's father, was a child of a Nisei mother, Hide Hironaka Hida, the elder sister of Mitsuko and Shizuko. His Issei father was born in Japan. Shizu was interned in Fresno and Gila River; Mitsuko in Walerga and Tule Lake; and Allan in Walerga, Tule Lake and Amache.
Shizuko Hironaka Ito was born in 1905 to Issei parents in the small town of Mayfield, California. It later became Palo Alto. She described her childhood in Mayfield where they were the only Japanese family. Her father was an Issei who was a janitor at Stanford University but was released when it became unionized and he became a cook. Her mother died during the influenza epidemic in 1919, so Shizuko, two older and one younger sister were left to take care of the family while their father worked as a cook. She went to San Francisco with her younger sister Mitsuko who completed high school. Shizu took classes at a business college and found work. In an arranged marriage, in 1937 she married an Issei man who had a dry goods store in Fresno's Japan Town. Shizu had two boys when the family sold the store and its contents including her wedding kimono before going to Fresno Assembly Center and Gila River, Arizona. She gave birth to a girl in cam. After the war, the family returned to Fresno.
Mitsuko Hironaka was born in Mayfield, California in 1910, the youngest of four girls. After moving to San Francisco with her sister Shizu, Mitsuko completed high school, took business classes and worked in a Japanese-owned company. With news of the impending evacuation, she moved to live with her sister Hide and her family in Sacramento. Mitsu described the condition at Walerga and Tule Lake. After internment, she moved to Philadelphia, worked with the United Presbyterian Church, then moved back to San Francisco and retired. Mitsuko never married.
Allan Hida was
born in Sacramento in 1929 to the sister of Shizu and Mitsuko.
He remembers many details of his childhood in Sacramento's Japan Town,
Walerga Assembly Center, Tule Lake and Amache Relocation Centers.
After a year in Amache, the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where
Allan remained. He graduated from
college, was in the Marines, and held various jobs before he became a high
school science teacher from which he retired in 1989.
The appendix of this book contains copies of articles published in
newspapers at the time of evacuation from Sacramento. These were
compiled by Sue Hida.
HIDEO KADOKAWA. One of the shortest oral histories, this has four pages of photos and twelve pages of text. Nisei Kadokawa (80) was local-born in Florin, went to grade school, returned from Jerome and Rohwer Relocation Centers to Sacramento. He raised grapes and strawberries, worked for a cannery and the Sacramento School District and raised a family of three daughters. He was forced, to drop out of elementary school but his daughters and grandchildren all went to college which is satisfying to him.
Bob was interviewed by Christine Umeda, his sister-in-law. He was interned at Merced and Amache. Bob was born in Hayward,
California in 1919. He graduated from
Woodland High School in 1937. In
November 1941 he was drafted into the United States Army but was rejected due to
what was later diagnosed as San Joaquin Valley Fever.
Although he was bedridden, Bob was discharged from the hospital and taken
with his family to Merced Assembly Center and later to Amache Relocation Center,
in Colorado. His father walked to
the neighboring town of Granada to buy meat to help Bob regain his health. He was bed-ridden for one year. In 1943, when the Army recruiting team came to Amache, Bob and his
brother volunteered to serve in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In 1944 he fought with the 34th Division in Italy.
In France, he was in the Rescue of the Lost Battalion, later was wounded
and still has the shrapnel which was taken from his leg.
He was evacuated to England and eventually to the United States.
Bob recounts the horrors of war in great detail.
Bob obtained a job with the U.S. Engineers in the motor pool and in 1947,
he was the first Japanese American hired by the State Division of Highways
equipment department from which he retired after thirty two years of service.
KOTONO KATO. Ninety-three years old Issei woman interviewed in Japanese. There are seven pages of photos and sixteen pages of text for the two sessions. Her four children live nearby, look after her, and one daughter helped edit the interview text. Her main interest and activity
was artificial flower making. In Amache Relocation Center her artificial flowers were in demand for funerals, especially for the "killed in action." Prewar living was very difficult, enduring death of two small children, working in fields all day, as well as cooking, laundry and other household chores with no rest. Her flower making tools have been donated to CSUS Library Japanese American Archival collection.
Issei man and his wife Michie were interviewed at their home in San
Jose, California by Frank and Joanne Iritani. Kaneto was in the Kern County Jail, Tujunga Federal Prison in
southern California, Santa Fe, NM Department of Justice Detention Center, and
Poston, Arizona Relocation Center. Michie
was interned at Poston.
TED KOBATA. Ted (73), a Sacramento native, spent WWII in Poston Relocation Center until February 1945 when the family moved to Ontario, Oregon and then returned to Sacramento. They are appreciative of the help of Jim and Evelyn Fairbairn who looked after the Kobata property. As a general contractor, Ted's outstanding supervised/volunteered projects are the Gedatsu Church, Mayhew Baptist Church, and Poston Memorial Monument and Kiosk. He contributed time, funds, technical knowledge, and the use of his construction equipment to these projects. A member of the Florin JACL, Ted participated faithfully in its annual Time of Remembrance programs with his leadership of the Internment Camp Barrack Replica project. During the years sons Glenn and Stanley were growing up, Ted was Assistant Scout Leader and helped with Scout and Little League projects. Ted and wife, Frances, also have a daughter, Hannah, and three grandchildren.
KURATA. A Nisei man interviewed by Arleen Mataga. Drafted in September 1941. The
family was interned in Rohwer. James Kurata was born in Lodi in 1918. He
graduated from high school in 1937 and worked on the grape farms. He enrolled in
engineering courses at College of the Pacific but was discouraged from pursuing
this career. In September 1941 he was drafted by the United States Army and was
at Camp Roberts when war began. He was reassigned to patrolling the Pacific
Coast with the National Guard and training as military police. Early in 1943, he
reported to Camp Shelby, Mississippi with other Nisei soldiers from other
locations. Jim was assigned to the
522nd Field Artillery Battalion, a component of the 442nd Regimental Combat
Team. After a year and a half they were shipped out to Italy and was in the
battle north of Rome. Jim related the battles he was involved in--Bruyeres,
Vosges Mountains, Rescue of the Lost Battalion and the separation of the 522nd
Field Artillery Battalion from the 442nd. They went across the Rhine River
chasing the retreating Germans
In May 1945 they
encountered a group of Jewish prisoners, still wearing their prison garments who
had been released from the Dachau prison camp. They were inadequately clothed
for the cold weather and were starving. Morris spoke seven languages so he
served as an interpreter for the unit. Jim drove Morris to many locations
searching for his wife who had been sent to another death camp. In 1946,
Morris found his wife in Italy and in 1949 they were able to immigrate to
the Bay Area where Jim visited them. After discharge in 1945, Jim returned to
Lodi to help on the family farm. He applied for a position with the State
Division of Highways from which he has retired.
RUTH ASAWA LANIER. Nisei woman interviewed at her home in San Francisco by Joanne Iritani. She was interned in a stable at Santa Anita Racetrack and at Rohwer, Arkansas. Ruth was interviewed because she had created many public sculptures in San Francisco and was working with a school in her area. She was born in Norwalk, California to Issei parents who farmed before the war. Her father was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at Santa Anita, Ruth was able to take art classes from volunteer Nisei teachers who had worked at the Disney Studios. After graduating from high school in Rohwer, Ruth attended Milwaukee State Teacher's College and later transferred to the experimental school, Black Mountain College in North Carolina where she developed her art. She met William Albert Lanier there and they were married in San Francisco in 1948 where her husband worked for an architectural firm. Ruth has a studio in her home and her six children live in the neighborhood.
DOROTHY LOVE MACK.
Mrs. Mack (1902-1996) was interviewed at age 90 by (non-Nikkei) James Carlson, Director of Library Services, American River College, and Lynn Kataoka. There are two pages of photos and 55 pages of text. Mrs. Mack grew up and went to schools in the Sacramento area. A
non-Nikkei public school teacher and real friend to Japanese Americans, she considers being a teacher to them as "a most satisfactory experience." With great empathy to their plight, she helped them to prepare for the forced relocation and resettlement after the camps were closed. Frequent reference is made to another
non-Nikkei Robert Fletcher and his friendly and helpful relationship to Al and Mary Tsukamoto.
An Issei woman interviewed by Bernice Endow. Interned in Manzanar. Mrs.
Aya Motoike was born in Japan in 1907. Her father owned a shipping vessel and
was in the export/import business. She met her husband, eighteen years her
senior, who was visiting Japan. They were married and departed for the United
States in June 1924, just before the Japanese Exclusion Act became effective in
July. Mrs. Motoike worked on the potato farm in the delta and raised two
children. An Italian neighbor took care of the farm while the family was
interned in Manzanar, California Relocation Center. Mrs. Motoike described the
conditions in the camp. The family
returned to resume farming and became active members of the Calvary Presbyterian
PERCY NAKASHIMA. Non-Nikkei are some of Mr. Nakashima's best friends. They gave him some of his best times and were with him when he needed help the most. George Carlisle "a most trusted Caucasian friend" is mentioned often in his oral history, during the depression years of the mid-thirties, during evacuation to camp, and during resettlement after the camps were closed. He mentions a Ben Parker who invited him often for chicken dinners. The 20 years working at the Del Monte Cannery in Sacramento with Caucasian co-workers were 'most enjoyable years." Another source of pride for him was when son Larry served in Vietnam and returned home with a Bronze Star.
MINORA NAMBA. This book contains many photographs detailing the experiences of Minoru Namba, a kibei. The interviewer of this oral history was the subject’s daughter, Eileen Namba Otsuji. The interviews began in 1992 during a vacation at Lake Tahoe with additional sessions in 1997 and 1998. The last interview was conducted at the hospital just prior to his death in 1999. Mr. Namba was born in 1916 in the Sacramento area, was taken to Okayama Japan as a child with his sisters, and was left to be raised by his grandparents. He recalled some of the difficulties he encountered as a child in Japan. After completing high school in Japan, he returned to the Sacramento area when he was eighteen years old and attended school beginning in the sixth grade where he learned to read and write English, but the depression came and he had to work on the farm. Mr. Namba received his draft notice in March 1941 and was in the first Military Intelligence Service class at Camp Savage, Minnesota. He related his wartime experiences in New Guinea, Admiralty Island, Woodlock Island and the Philippines, and his experience with a Caucasian soldier who threatened him with a rifle to his back. His commanding officer then oversaw the safety of his kibei and nisei men. Mr. Namba was discharged in1945 and worked at the Army Depot in Sacramento. He was married to Patricia Hashimoto and they had three children, Richard, Eileen and Mike
KAZUO NINOMIYA. Mr. Nmomiya, age 75, was born in Portland, Oregon, and taken to Japan at age one where he acquired his early education. He returned to the U. S. in 1921 and spent the ensuing years living in Caucasian homes while attending special schools to learn English. He did various kinds of work and lived in different parts of U. S. as well as traveling widely in the U. S. and Asia. His bilingual leadership qualities were put to effective use in the U. S. military, university faculty work, and community activities, especially in U. S. Japan relations areas such as
Matsuyarna, Sacramento Sister City programs with his wife, Hiroko.
YONEO ONO. A Nisei man interviewed by his sister Joanne Iritani. Interned in Poston. Yoneo Ono was born in Bakersfield CA in 1925. He attended the local schools until internment in Poston, Arizona Relocation Center. He worked in the hospital and read books on philosophy and sociology during the summer. He graduated from Poston High School and later the University of Connecticut. He was the Associate Planner of the city of Fresno at which time he was an active volunteer in the rural housing and assistance programs and founded Rural Community Assistance Corp. In 1998 he presented the "Yoneo Ono" Award for rural volunteers at a convention in Seattle, and he was interviewed by his sister during his visit. He returned to his home in Redding and died one week after the interview.
KOKAN OSHIRO. Oshiro (87) born in Okinawa was interviewed in Japanese. Due to age, language and involvement of several in the interpreting, translating and editing, the oral history is short with two pages of photos and 41 pages of text. After working as migrant laborer in Southern and Central California and
a couple of years in Jerome and Gila River Relocation Centers, family resettled in Florin and raised strawberries. Okinawans experienced discrimination from many and mention is made of the
"Okies." He is enjoying retirement with five children and eight grandchildren.
LYDIA OTA. A Nisei woman interviewed by her daughter-in-law Arleen Ota. Interned in Turlock and Gila River. Lydia Ota was born in Acampo, CA in 1923 to the Kanbara family. Her father died in 1933 and her mother moved the family of seven children to Japan for almost two years. She returned to California with three children including Lydia. Her mother remarried and among the sons in the new family was Bob Ota. Lydia and Bob were married in 1942 just before internment in Turlock, California Assembly Center and Gila River Relocation Center. They left the camp to farm with friends in Nevada and Idaho. After the war, the family resumed farming in French Camp and formed a family produce business in which Lydia was involved until her retirement.
A Nisei woman interviewed by
Joanne Iritani. Father was among the railroad workers who were fired after war
began. Nevada non-internee. Ida was born in Utah in 1922 to the Nishiguchi
family. She attended school in various locations in Utah and Nevada and
graduated from Gerlach High School where the family was the only Japanese
Americans. Ida attended college in Salt Lake City. Her father worked for the railroad until he was fired in February
1942. The family was forced to vacate their company-owned housing and Ida’s
father, mother and six year old sister were forced to stay in a small
two-wheeled trailer in the middle of the desert, and were warned not to return
to Gerlach until the sister in high school graduated in June 1942. The young
graduate was escorted to the ceremonies by an armed constable.
The family then moved to Reno where her father worked on a vegetable
farm. In 1952, her father, a self-taught scholar, was the first Issei in Nevada
to obtain his U.S. citizenship. In March 1998 the Office of Redress
Administration made families of miners and railroad workers eligible for an
official apology and monetary redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Ida
worked many years with Aerojet General Corp. and Sierra Community college until
FRED OUYE. Fred (85) is one of seven pharmacists of the two Ouye families of Sacramento. Born in Florin and after Lodi High School, he attended UCSF College of Pharmacy. His older brother Harold and daughter Carol (Hisatomi) were pharmacists.
Carol later went into
law, but her husband, Aki, is a pharmacist. Harold and Fred sold out to Harold's son,
Lloyd, who runs the business at
10th and V Streets, Sacramento. As with most Nikkei, Fred suffered considerable losses. Executive Order 9066 forced him to sell out his business in Lodi. In 1946, he again sustained great loss at
4th & L Streets, Sacramento, due to Redevelopment in 1960. All members of the two Ouye families are college graduates and professionals with most going into the pharmacy business despite hardships of obtaining education during the Great Depression as well as coping with various forms of discrimination.
EIKO SAKAMOTO. A Nisei woman interviewed by Thaya Mune Craig. Tulare and Gila River. Eiko Sakamoto was born in 1918 in Los Angeles to the Yoshihashi family. She grew up in Pasadena where her father was a gardener and her mother took in laundry. She related, “Our parents told us to work hard at school. It was very important among Japanaese families that we work hard in school. And we did.” In 1938 after graduating from high school, Eiko had a part time attendance clerk job in the high school office, but she was released because “some parents are complaining about your Japanaese heritage.” The family was interned in Tulare Assembly Center and Gila River Relocation Center. Eiko worked in the Community Service office in Gila River. Her father had died of cancer while interned. Eiko had an offer from the Quakers for a job with the American Friends Service Committee in Columbus, Ohio. She later had her family join her there. She met her husband at a JACL convention and lived in Loomis with his family. She worked for Sierra Community College and has retired
MIS - SERVED OUR COUNTRY: COL. THOMAS SAKAMOTO.
The "MIS Served Our Country" book contains two oral histories: of Hiroshi Tanabe and of
Sakamoto. The portion on Colonel Thomas T. Sakamoto (80), U. S. Amy Retired of Saratoga, California is mainly his speech delivered at the Florin Time of Remembrance program, March 6, 1993. His 28-year distinguished military career began February 1941 with the draft. He went through MIS Language School, saw from line duty in the South Pacific with General MacArthur, and was on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay for the Surrender/Peace ceremonies, August 1945. "Besides fighting the enemy on the battlefield and discrimination at home," he said, "the Nisei MIS soldiers had to contend with discrimination in the ranks." The Nisei were not fully recognized as to promotions, Purple Hearts earned, and for other acts of courage and devotion to country.
A Nisei woman interviewed by
Arleen Mataga. Stockton and Rohwer. Chiyo Shimamoto was born in 1921 on King
Island, California to the Mitori family. Her father was a farmer in the Escalon
area. Chiyo wrote a book describing her childhood experiences, To
the Land of Bright Promise: The Story of a Pioneer Japanese Truck Farming Family
in California’s San Joaquin Valley. After
graduation from high school, Chiyo worked as a maid in San Mateo and enrolled in
the Oakland School of Hairdressing. When war began, Chiyo was interned with her
family at Stockton Assembly Center and Rohwer, Arkansas Relocation Center. She
left to enroll in a Beauty School in St. Paul, Minnesota and was fortunate to
live with a lady, Miss Luella Miles, a retired World History teacher who
introduced Chiyo to music and politics. She
married a soldier in the Military Intelligence Service who went overseas before
their child was born. Included in the book is a telegram to her husband in New
Guinea. He was wounded and later the family moved to Lodi to a farm. Chiyo had a
beauty shop for twenty-one years in Lodi. Following retirement she became active
in various organizations and was a speaker at many events.
FLORENCE TAEKO SHIROMIZU. A Nisei woman interviewed by her daughter, Helen Honda. Manzanar. Tae Shiromizu was born in 1920 in Guinda, California near Sacramento to the Hatanaka family. She attended segregated schools in Courtland and Walnut Grove and graduated from Stockton High School after the family moved to French Camp. She was married in 1940 and gave birth to her first child on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 6, 1941. The family was interned in Manzanar, California Relocation Center. She describes the conditions in camp and the incident when her brother, Tom Hatanaka, was wounded by a military policeman. The family left camp to work on farms in Idaho. Brother Ben was drafted into the army, and before he went overseas, the family visited the parents who were still in Manzanar. They saved their gasoline coupons for the trip. The family returned to their farm in French Camp and although the house was still standing, it needed a thorough cleaning. Tae’s husband George died in 1958 and she was left to raise three young children.
Eighty-eight year old Caucasian woman supporting the work of her lawyer husband which included working among the internees at
Tule Lake Camp. He worked there six months with Japanese Americans about the Loyalty Questionnaire and she taught a year at the high school. A child of
Mormon missionaries with education at Brigham Young University and CSU, Sacramento, she understood minorities and related well. Tule Lake riots, breaking up of families because of the loyalty
questionnaire, the Kibei situation were stressful but she expresses satisfaction with her teaching of English, Drama to the internee children. She retired after 17 years at San Juan High School. Community activities include officer positions with
the League of Women Voters and the PTA.
HOMER YOSHIO TAKAHASHI. A Nisei man interviewed by James E. Craig. Enlisted in October 1941. The family was interned in Arboga, Tule Lake and Amache. Homer Takahashi was born in 1918. In the early 1900s, his grandparents brought the family from Japan and established a retail business in 1910. Homer attended the local schools, and Placer High School and Junior College in Auburn. In October 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and began his service in the horse cavalry. He had never ridden a horse before so he picked that. His father had been hospitalized and died before the family was interned. Homer got leave to help the family and took them to the bus to go Arboga Assembly Center. The family was transferred to Tule Lake and Amache Relocation Centers. Three of the other four brothers joined the military while they were interned and served in various units. Homer saw combat in Italy and France. The family returned to Loomis where there were signs reading, “We do not serve Japs.” Homer attended the University of Illinois on the GI Bill
PAUL TAKEHARA. This Nisei (73) is a strictly Sacramento/Florin resident except for the WWII period. He served in the military from
March 1941 - December 1945 and never spent
any time in a Relocation Center. He was at many military bases in several states and did a short stint in Europe.
Paul's family was interned in Tule Lake and his wife lived in Chicago. They resettled in Florin where two sons and a daughter were
born and raised. He was active in the Florin JACL serving as president many times and worked hard for Redress. Also, he is a charter member of Nisei Post VFW 8985 and was Commander
in 1954-55 and member of the Mayhew Baptist Church. He was in the grocery business and sold insurance during his later years before retirement.
A Caucasian man, Director of Welfare at Gila River,
Arizona Relocation Center. Interviewed
by Joanne Iritani. William Tuttle
was born in 1913 in Sacramento. He
attended local schools, graduated from Stanford University, received his MA from
the University of Chicago and worked in the University of California’s
Graduate School of Social Work in Berkeley in early 1942. When World War II
began, he was assigned to interview long lines of Japanese in Vallejo. He had to
inform them “you can only take what you can carry,” he was “so angry at
what had happened to the Japanese Americans” that he went to work at Gila
River, Arizona Relocation Center in November 1942 as the Director of Welfare.
Mr. Tuttle related various incidents during his work at Gila River. He also
explained the process he established by which three thousand internees were
moved to Gila River from Jerome Relocation Center, the first camp to close. In
January 1945, he worked for the War Relocation Authority to assist the Japanese
who were returning to the Oakland, California area. Mr. Tuttle is an active
retiree in Nevada City, California.
LILY UMEDA. Poignant stories of Japanese Americans like Lily Umeda are a part of American history. Mrs. Umeda (82) has made the best of difficult situations she had no control over. She was
born in Sacramento, and sent to live with relatives in Wakayama, Japan, where she went through elementary school. Then, she was brought back to Hollywood, California, where she attended high school as well as Girls High School in San Francisco. At age 19, she took on adult and parent responsibilities after an arranged marriage to Mike Umeda of Sacramento and raised four children. After time in Relocation center, the family came back to Florin. She became a valuable, dedicated Methodist Church member by helping with youth activities, bazaars, and
interpreting and translation work.
REVEREND LLOYD AND MARION WAKE. Lloyd Wake is a Nisei who was interviewed because he was an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and a leader in the Bay Area in matters of human and civil rights. He was also a leader in the Japanese and Asian Caucuses of the church in the northern California area. He was born and raised in the Reedley and Dinuba areas in the Central Valley near Fresno, California. After graduating from high school in 1939, Lloyd worked on the farm and played on the Nisei baseball team. He had assumed his role in the family of two boys and six girls was to take care of the farm for his parents. After World War II began and notices of the incarceration were posted, Lloyd went to San Francisco to move the arts and antique inventory of his sister and her husband who owned a store of imported goods. The articles were stored in the large family home in Dinuba. The family was removed by the government to Poston III Relocation Center.
Marion Wake was born and raised in Southern California to Issei parents. Her father served in the U.S. Coast Guard and was among the veterans who obtained United States citizenship granted with the 1935 Nye-Lee bill to about 500 Asians, mostly of Japanese ancestry, who had served honorably with the U.S. armed forces during World War I. He had various jobs among which was cooking for Cecil B. De Mille. Marion described the family's difficult times, the poor housing, and also the fun times of her childhood. Her mother became very ill and died of cancer when Marion was thirteen. Her younger brother was only three, so she became his caretaker. Her brother, Bobby, became ill with the chicken pox on departure day to Santa Anita Assembly Center and she was permitted to accompany her brother to the hospital. After a few weeks, their father drove the family in their car to Santa Anita Assembly Center and they began life in the unsanitary conditions of the horse stable.
Marion and Lloyd graduated from Asbury College in Kentucky, married and moved to Berkeley where Lloyd attended seminary. Marion worked in San Francisco and Lloyd was later appointed to the Pine Methodist Church in San Francisco. Marion obtained her teaching credential and worked in various schools and programs.
HIDEKO WAKITA. Short oral history of Issei widow (83) with four pages of photos, 19 of text, and 2 1/2 pages of biography by interviewer. Wakita was brought to America by grandmother at age ten, attended Sierra School and mentions difficulty learning English. Father already in Florin; died in 1991 and mother died in Japan 1933 at 52 years. Family raised grapes and went into raising cattle, which was more profitable. Had three daughters and eight grandchildren. Interned in Jerome and Gila River Relocation camps.
WATANABE. An Issei woman interviewed by Lydia Ota. Interned in Manzanar and Tule Lake.
Mrs. Chii Watanabe was born in Japan in 1905 and came to America after an
arranged marriage. She had to leave by May 1924 due to the Japanese Exclusion
Act, which was slated to be effective in July. The couple lived on Liberty
Island in the delta where her husband was a farmer.
She said of that time, “Whether I loved him or not, it can’t be
helped any more. I’m married now, and I’ve started my family....To go back
to Japan was a dream.” After their internment, the family worked in various
locations and returned to the French Camp area. The
family had a farm trainee program for young men from Japan.
MASA YAMAMOTO. Dr. Yamamoto (72), Kibei, is interviewed at length about a wide range of topics. He is Kibei but claims to be
more Issei and studied English even when taking pre-med and medical courses. There are six pages of photos, 114 pages of text and three
pages of documents. Text covers education, medical education, marriage, practice of medicine and sports in America of self and family and comparisons to such in Japan. In America, winning is most
important, but in Japan emphasis is on honor and respect. He volunteered as the
high school football physician for several years and was the local judo physician at their major events. He taught
kendo, for most of his adult life.
Nisei man interviewed by his daughter Aeko Yoshikawa Fenelon. Stockton and
Rohwer. Richard Yoshikawa was born in Stockton in 1920 to parents who owned and
operated a restaurant, then a barbershop. His mother was a picture bride who was
a barber with her husband in their shop. Richard recalled his entertainment at
that time was, “Work, work, and more work.” He attended the local schools
and the Art Center School of Photography in Los Angeles where he was enrolled at
the time war began. When travel restrictions were placed on Nisei in 1942, he
quit school to join his family in Stockton and was interned in Stockton Assembly
Center and Rohwer, Arkansas Relocation Center, where he worked as an X-ray
technician. In 1943, he went to New York City where he attended photography
school. He returned to the family home in Stockton in 1945.
He married in 1947 and opened a commercial photography studio, Yoshikawa
Studio. In 1964 Richard was appointed to be a Trustee on the San Joaquin Delta
Community College Board, successfully campaigned for re-election and served a
total of ten years. In 1974, he was
appointed by Governor Reagan to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. He won re-election and served ten years on this board.
The appendix contains letters, election fliers and newspaper articles.
HARRY YOSHIMURA. Issei widower (89) with good command of English and Japanese. There are three pages of photos, 46 of text, and 19 pages of Japanese documents not captioned/explained. Most of contents is about "shigin" (poetry in Japanese
chant) throughout the book and especially pages 17-33. He is the
master teacher and initially learned it in Tule Lake Internment Camp along with "senryu" (Japanese poetry). Shigin and Senryu require knowledge of Japanese language and culture. Prewar, he was in Portland, Oregon doing various kinds of work. Postwar spent in Northern California and especially around Penryn raising fruits; now retired in Sacramento.