I was born in San Bernardino. My parents came from Japan way back in the beginning of the 1900's. I thought they came about 1903 but my sister claims it was when he was 25 which would make it around 1904. My father came over and worked in farm labour, and finally settled in San Bernardino. I know by 1911 because I have a city license showing that he had a restaurant with someone as a partner and then had a hotel business which was the site of the first hotel in San Bernardino, across the street from the present courthouse, and later on he settled with a general merchandise store, a general on 3rd between D and Arrowhead. We had that business for another 30 years then we had to evacuate when the war broke out.
My father called his wife from Japan. She was a picture bride. She had sent pictures and he had sent a picture of himself. She finally came in 1912 and then helped him with the store and raised a big family. There were my older sister and two other sisters and my brother that survived. I went to the old 4th street school which is no longer there because they tore it down to make Court Street. We were the last graduating class from the 6th grade school before they tore it down. We also had a reunion of the teachers and some of the class members at a restaurant some time ago. And then I went to Sturges Jr. High and then to San Bernardino High School. That was the only high school then. And I went to Valley College then the University of Redlands where I got a scholarship. But I did have to change my major: they insisted that I wouldn't have an opportunity in the teaching field being oriental. And at that time the prejudice was quite strong. I changed to sociology. I did some settlement work after camp in New York.
I stayed in camp three years. It was a trial to get ready to go. We didn't have much time to get rid of the business. My father had been picked up by the F.B.I because he had served as president of the Japanese Association at that time. He was up for questioning because of his backround. He was not a citizen yet because Japanese 1st generation, the Isei, were not permitted citizens of the United States. There was a law that prohibited that. So both of my parents were not citizens until after the war when a new law came into effect that they could be citizens. And they both became citizens and I' m real proud of them for having done so.
When Pearl Harbor occurred, I think I was in Riverside at that time, visiting and we were shocked. And we immediately came home and we wondered what was going to happen to my parents, not being American citizens, and we were American citizens. We didn't think anything would happen to our parents. We just pondered and then some time later we found out about the proclaimation that President Roosevelt signed that put us under the command of the army and we had to evacuate and go go to these 10 different camps. We went to Poston, Arizona. We left early in the morning from our church which was on First Christian church, on 5th street near Mt. Vernon. As we went over the viaduct I know my heart sank, wondering, "Will I ever see the roundhouse again?, Will I ever see the Santa Fe? What will happen to us?" We went all the way to Riverside and picked up another contingent of Japanese and we rode on the bus for hours. The shades were pulled down. No one could see us as we traveled aross the desert into Poston, Arizona.
We blew in with the wind. It was almost dark and we were all so very tired. And what we had to do once we got into camp was sign and give information and then given a tick to fill with straw which served as a matress for a time. Later we were given better mattresses. We lived in the barracks. There were about four different rooms to one barrack. There were about five people at least to each room. My brother stayed with another family for awhile because their father had been interned and they didn't have enough people to fill a barrack. They were allowed to go out of camp for labor like that. Soon there were extra rooms so they didn't limit us to the number of people in a barrack.
While at last in the barrack I'm thankful for the one thing: that it permitted me to get into teaching which I had hoped to do. But knowing the limatations of an oriental teaching in California I didn't have the opportunity but in Poston I did. In the three years that I was there I enjoyed every bit of it. My pupils were great. They were very industrious, sweet, very driven. They had motive to do their best and I enjoyed that. A quilt that they made is traveling with the "Stength and Diversity" exhibit that the Smithsonian is sending to different parts of the United States. It traveled since 1990. I don't know exactly where it is now. The last I heard they were trying to raise enough money to send it to Japan for an exhibit. It has been in Hawaii, New York, the Field Musseum in Chicago and to the---I can't think of the name of the museum in Los Angeles. At that time I had some of the pupils now in their 50's and close to their 60's and we had a great time. We get together now and then.
When I was growing up there were ill feelings toward the orientals. The orientals were excluded from many things like restaurants, from the public pool, plunges. Maybe we could go on the day they changed the water but on the whole we were excluded. Only "White Trade Only " at the restaurants so my parents wouldn't take us out to eat. The only place we went to eat was the Chinese restaurant and they allowed us all the time. There were so many limitations.
I had to be very careful that I wouldn't cause any shame to people of our race. I abided by those rules and didn't make make myself obnoxious or cause difficulty in any place. We like to be peacemakers and not troublemakers.