Sadie and Eva discuss their experiences being Japanese Americans in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Taking turns answering the questions posed to them, they discuss their removal from California for life in the internment camps, what childhood was like there, and how they finally were permitted to leave. They later discuss the compensation approved by the government for their wrongdoing. The 442nd Volunteer Combat Unit of mostly Japanese American soldiers is covered near the end.
Yamane, Sadie Tami (interviewee); Hasheguchi, Eva (interviewee)
Ziemnik, Sara (interviewer)
Unknown Speaker [00:00:02] Whenever you're ready.
Sara Ziemnik [00:00:03] Whenever you're ready. OK. Well, today is August 14th, 2006, and I'm here with Eva Hasheguchi and Sadie Yamane, so I will just start by asking you maybe just tell me a little bit about the town you grew up in on the West Coast, which town it was and what it was like to grow up there.
Sadie Yamane [00:00:23] Oh, I grew up in a little town, it was called Delano Delano, California. It's grape country, a very, very small town. It had two movie theaters and, oh, three or four churches and well, it was just a small, small town. It didn't have a hospital, but we had a little country doctor who had offices in his home and there was one elementary school and one high school. And it was just a, you know, a small little town in central California. Anything else?
Sara Ziemnik [00:01:30] What did your parents do there?
Sadie Yamane [00:01:32] Oh, my father. Yes. My father was a farmer and my mother was a seamstress. But she also helped out on the farm. And so we basically were a farm family.
Sara Ziemnik [00:01:54] OK. Eva what about you?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:01:56] I'm from Florin, California. I was born in Clarksburg, which was a suburb of Sacramento. But my dad wanted to farm in Florin. Also, strawberry, grapes, and different veggies. And ours is, I think, smaller than Delano is because we only had one Buddhist Church, one Christian Church. And but I lived far enough from Florin, the town of Florin, that I went to a grade school that had all different people, nationalities, whereas the town of Florin was one of those cities that the Japanese were segregated from the white students. It was separated. And luckily I was far enough that I went to one where every... all the students were mingled. I don't know what else. My father farmed, my mother. We all helped on the farm. And when I was 16, that's when the evacuation orders came. So it really effected my life quite a bit.
Sara Ziemnik [00:03:16] I was just getting it. Before I get to December 7th. I'll just as one more question. What was your favorite childhood memory in California, what was your favorite time that you remember was there a particular day or moment that you really remember being a favorite memory?
Sadie Yamane [00:03:30] My favorite memory. I remember always loving the fields. There were a lot of, you know, open, open spaces. And we had next to our house a field of poppies and well all the wildflowers and the kids. We used to always play in that field with all the poppies. And we used to call them... The Golden Poppies. And then you have the the Indian Paintbrushes. And then we had these Purple Tiger Toes. They were beautiful colors. And I always remember those fields, playing in those fields. Oh, and then we used to always have these community picnics. Those were fun. There were a lot of fun. And oh, I used to like it on the weekends the Buddhist church used to show movies samurai movies, from Japan. And my mother and father. And although we weren't... We were Christian, but a lot of our relatives were Buddhist and a lot of our friends. So we used to always go to the Buddhist church on the weekend and to see those movies. And that was fun.
Eva Hasheguchi [00:05:15] My favorite was playing basketball, baseball with my brothers because there were seven of us kids. So we always formed teams and played games. And that's why I guess athletically I've always been top in my high school and everything else. So. My favorite thing is playing games with the family.
Sara Ziemnik [00:05:43] And how many brothers and sisters did you have Sadie?
Sadie Yamane [00:05:45] Oh, I just had one older sister.
Sara Ziemnik [00:05:50] So what do you remember about December 7th? How old were you on that day? And then what do you remember? Just maybe about how your family was reacting, how you were reacting. What was that day like for you?
Sadie Yamane [00:06:03] Well, I was in first grade. I was six years old in December of 1941, and December 7th was a Sunday. And on Sundays are our whole family, aunts and uncles and cousins. We used to have... Sunday was family time. And we always had our big dinner together. And I remember the radio being on, and then all of a sudden the adults got very, very quiet and made all the kids be quiet. And I really didn't know what was happening. I remember just being very confused, but I could feel it that something was... something terrible had happened. But I didn't even know what Pearl Harbor was. And I wasn't... I wasn't really sure. All I know is that we were all very quiet. I mean, the kids had to be quiet and. I still can picture my aunt. The expression on her face and you know what... what will this mean. Like my father, I remember going everything will be all right. I mean, we're American citizens. But he was worried about his parents, my grandparents, because they were not citizens, not because they didn't want to become citizens, but because of the Oriental Exclusion Act, where if you were of Asian extraction, you could not become naturalized citizens. So he was a staunch American, 100 percent American. And he said well there's... we don't have anything to worry about. But our... his mother and father... he was worried about the Issei, the first generation who were not naturalized citizens. And of course, then... the realization that just because we looked like the enemy, we were going to be equated as the enemy. He didn't think that was going to happen. So he was quite devastated by the fact that he was no longer considered an American citizen, but an enemy alien. That hit him very, very hard. And it was fairly quickly that all this happened that we knew we were going to be evacuated. And I learned a new word. I didn't know what that meant, you know. And that everything had to be sold or stored and that we were only going to be able to take what we could carry, and that would be just clothing and bedding. And so it was...I was just always just confused. I was not understanding what was happening. And... But I knew that the kids at school treated you differently. They weren't allowed to play with you. And we were taunted and called names. And the climate suddenly changed. And that was hard for me to understand why they couldn't play with me anymore. And I was always crying and whining. Coming back from school and getting pushed around. And my father used to tell us. Don't be afraid. And just run away or if you can't, he... he was a black belt. And he would show us some moves and then run... which worked. As getting people off balance and then running. And I had... the boys would be getting beat up, but he didn't think his little girls would get it. So that hurt him a lot. And he had a Chinese friend. Well, Chinese friends. And they used to wear buttons because white Americans can't tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese. And the Chinese, of course, were our allies and were friends. But the Japanese, of course, were the enemy. And so the Chinese kids were getting beat up by mistake. And so they had these buttons that said, I am Chinese and my father got two of those buttons. And so he wanted my sister and I to wear those. And so, you know, we would wear those. But it was very hard and I always remember those words that people would say, well, sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. But I learned that words hurt very, very much. And they last a lifetime. And so that didn't make any sense to me. But a lot of adults would say to you, don't worry you're all right. Words don't hurt. You're... physically you're all right. But, yes, words to hurt a lot. And so that was a very, very difficult time for everyone selling... People were having evacuation sales, yard sales. And some people were... The government did set up storage buildings so that things that you perhaps couldn't sell, you could store and. I remember my sister and I taking out all of our toys and things and putting them in the things to be sold. We gave our dog away to friends who live further out in the country. And that was sad because the dog kept coming back. And we kept... We kept crying. Giving Buddy back. And it was just a very... for me a really a traumatic time. I didn't know and I couldn't fully understand what was really going on. I knew there was a war and that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. And. But I always felt us so American. And that one day I was... I could be... friends would play with me. And then the next day they weren't allowed to play with me. So that time was a very difficult time for the family. My aunt Haruko had a yard sale. And she had the first Frigidaire. I always remember that because we all went to her house to see it, because we all had ice boxes in those days and we've always got the ice man came and we had blocks of ice and and she got this electric refrigerator. And it was I mean... we all went to see it. It was wonderful. And she was very proud of it. She was our artist in our family. Her home was very beautiful. And she prized all of her... I always remember she had across her... She had that molding. That was maroon and gold trim and beautiful home. And she had oriental rugs. And in our house, we had rag rugs. And in some of her rooms, she had wall to wall carpeting. And she had drapery. We had curtains. I mean, she... and I just loved her because she was always so... she was very animated and very... she always ran up and hugged me. And all the other relatives were much more formal. There was no hugging and kissing. It was always bowing or... but aunt Haruko would grab you and hug you and kiss you. And she had beautiful crystal. And we had glasses. My mother always called them glasses when we drank out of it. But Auntie had this beautiful crystal and she always set this most beautiful table. Whenever everybody came she had China. And mom said, we have dishes. And. But everybody loved aunt Haruko. And anyway, I couldn't. I remember crying, watching her at the... at her auction because people were there for bargains, of course. And I remember her jumping up on the pickup truck where her refrigerator was. And because people were, of course, trying to get bargains. And she... I remember how she went up there. And she's small lady. And she pushed off the refrigerator, off the truck. And I actually remember seeing the refrigerator bounce and then she went to her boxes of China that I knew she loved. And she broke them one by one and all of her crystal. And she was crying. And I remember I was crying, too, in the background. And I remember my father and my uncle going to aunt Haruko and trying to make her stop crying to be less hysterical. And I remember thinking, let her cry because it was nuts. It was just such a... it was just so sad. I realized how much my auntie loved all those things. And I saw her breaking all of them. So those were just some of the things. That was very hard. That have always stuck in my memory, but then the time came that we left. I remember at once... at one time we were all mass inoculated. Well I... and I'm not exactly sure what that was for. I think it was typhus shot or something like that. And so we didn't know where we were going. And we remember practicing, carrying my bag and my father ending up carrying it for me. And I remember the soldiers at the railroad station. This was the first time I rode a train. And I remember in the trains, whenever we pulled into a station, we had to pull down our shades. I never understood that. But anyway, we had to pull down the shades whenever we got to a station. And then we arrived and we arrived at night. So we were in Arizona, middle of the desert, Poston. We were in camp one block three in Poston, and it was the largest of the ten camps. We were the first to arrive, and the facilities were not quite finished. The barracks, the tar-covered barracks were there, but the water and electricity wasn't in yet. And I remember that first night we were all herded into the center of the camp. And there was a search light I believe because I remember funny shadows across the desert, and I remembered a lot of sand and we were herded into the center. There was a high pile of straw or hay and we were each given a canvas bag and then we were to stuff it with the straw. And then we were... each family was assigned a barrack room in a barrack. And we slept on the floor on our canvas bags that first night and. I remember there were knot holes in the wooden floor, and so the sand during the night would filter in through those knot holes. And on the sand you could see these little footprints or little tracks of insects, and snakes and animals of the desert. And that was that was interesting. Waking up to look at all those little tracks and. It was very, very hot. Of course, my mother... I always remember hanging onto my mother's skirts all the time. And I remember we... since there was no water the latrines, of course, were quite unbearable. And everybody was very thirsty and everybody was given a tin cup. And the water was brought in across the desert in these open garbage cans, very, very shiny silver garbage cans. And we were all given a one cup of water. And of course, they had the women and children first in line. And my mother got me first in line because I was whining that I wanted water and that I was thirsty. And I remember, getting the water. And I... it was... the water was warm. It was even hot. And it was disinfected. And so when I took the first drink, I dropped my cup and started crying that wasn't water. I wanted real water. And I kind of set off a chain reaction of of crying. My mother started crying and all the women and the kids all started. We were all crying. And in a weird way, it was kind of nice because before that it had been so quiet there was no sound. Everything was always quiet up until that point when everybody started crying. And of course, things got better. The water got connected. And we didn't have to have our water rationed. We didn't have running water, of course, in the barracks. But outside there was a spigot outside of every barrack. And all the barracks were divided into about, I guess, four rooms. And at the end of the barracks, there was a spigot so we could take our cups and get water outside from the faucet. And then I learned a new vocabulary [word]. Where we ate was called a mess hall and where we went to the bathroom, a large communal, that was called the latrine. And life went on in the camps under kind of primitive conditions, but things gradually got better. But it was a big adjustment to living without any privacy because there were no privacy in the latrines. They were just open freestanding toilets and a large shower room with shower heads. No, no stalls or anything for privacy, just large communal. So that was difficult. Even... I was just... I turned 7 that summer. Cause let's see, December 7th from December 7th by May. We were in camp by the spring of the following year. So it was a relatively short period of time and a lot of adjusting. But life became livable in the camps. We got used to the mess hall and going through a line for food. We had the tin plates. And my mother worked in the kitchen and my father was elected block manager. And I remember one of the things that he did was assign each family a table to sit at, because prior to that all the kids would run in and get their food and they would sit with their friends and the teenagers would run and get there and then sit with their friends. And the parents were looking for their kids. But what he did was assign each family a table. So that's where they had to sit so that the families would eat together. Many, many years later, when I was living in Cleveland and a gentleman came up to me, it was Mr. Kawhi. And he asked me, are you John Caetano's daughter? And I said, Yes, I am. And he asked how my father was. And I said, I'm sorry. He passed away. And that was in 1959 that he passed away. And Mr. Kawhi, said to me that he was in Poston and he remembered my father being the block manager. And he said one of the things that I never thanked him for. And I asked him what. And he said when he made all the families sit and eat together, and he said, I wish I had thanked him for all the things that he fought for us to have in the camps. And I said, oh, well, thank you very much for telling me. And so that's how I found out that he was I never knew that it was my father's ruling that had set up that system. But anyway, we... our family stayed in the camp not as long as many of my relatives who stayed there for the entire duration of the war. Our family left after one year. Now, my sister, who is the writer of our family, she said we were there one year, one month, one week and one day. I don't know if that's true, but she swears by that. She said we were there and we left and went to Alliance, Nebraska. And my father was able to seek... get employment there. I think he was one of those that saved the sugar beet crop. There was a shortage, a man shortage at that time because all of the young men were in the service, of course. And a lot of the farms needed help in harvesting and things like that. So he was employed there for a while. And then there he got a job in the city in the dry cleaning establishment, which was owned by a Japanese American family. Them living in Nebraska, they were not affected by the evacuation. Only the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were evacuated and put into the ten camps. So the Ushios took us in and my father and mother worked at his cleaning, dry cleaning plant. And then from there we went to Chicago where we had some relatives who had gone to Chicago. And then from Chicago in the early 50s, '51, I believe. Oh, we came to Cleveland. My father had heard that jingle Cleveland is the best location in the nation. And so that's how we got to Cleveland.
Sara Ziemnik [00:31:21] How about Eva about you being a little bit probably more in high school on December 7th?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:31:25] Right. Your original question was... what was it?
Sara Ziemnik [00:31:32] How do you remember that day? How did it affect your family?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:31:34] OK. December 6th was a Saturday, I was on a girl's athletic association from Sacramento we went to San Francisco on a play day and had a good time. Naturally, I said I would enjoy playing games with my brother, so I was an outstanding athlete. So representing our Elk Grove Union High School, we went to San Francisco, had a good time. That was Saturday. The next day we heard that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and my dad apparently reading the newspaper sort of had an inkling that there was going to be turmoil. So we were sort of prepared that something was going to happen, but we didn't think that Japan would go into Pearl Harbor like that. But it did. So it was quite a shock. That's how I remember December 7th as really a shock to my family because they are... they were born in Japan. Both my mother and dad.
Sara Ziemnik [00:32:50] How did... what do you remember about their reaction to that day? Do you remember? How did they handle [inaudible]?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:32:56] Well, he said he and mother were aliens, so probably they would get picked on. But you, the rest of you, the seven of you are citizens, so they won't touch you. So be confident of that. So that was our attitude in our household.
Sara Ziemnik [00:33:15] Ok. And then when did you get the notice that you would need to be relocated?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:33:21] I think it was April. The following year, '42 in April, we were told that you have one week. Well, first of all, we didn't think we would be evacuating because of this it started from the south L.A. area and we're Northern California, Sacramento. And we didn't think we would be evacuated and we thought we were inland enough that it wouldn't effect us. But no, it just came through. And by April 1942, we were told we have one week to get rid of our farm. Now, my brother was old enough to be in the future farmers of America, and he had spotted Poland Chinas, which are pigs, which had birth certificates and things. So it was quite hard to try to get... within a week to get rid of our possession. But we stored a lot of our things into the next door farmer's shed. He had all different sheds, so we started most of it there. We had the livestock, the chickens, the pigs, the horse, the cows. We all have to have neighboring farmers come in and either give us a few dollars for it or whatever. But I know they lost a lot. We had a tractor... a trailer or tractor that will plow the fields. Well, all those who had to be left. And so it hurt like Sadie said, her dog. Well, we had a dog named Curly that the neighbor said he would keep for us because we didn't think we would stay that long in camp. We thought maybe a few months and we'll be back. So we said, keep Curly. And he wouldn't go. He wouldn't go. So we had to drag him there and finally tied him to a tree and. It was sad because as the days went on, the farmer who had... Well, first of all, Japanese were not allowed to buy farm land. And so when my sister became 18, my father started buying the land from this farmer that we left our things with. And but when we were put into camp, he came into camp, gave my dad a check saying that this is all the money I had put in towards the land. So someone else wants it. So he gives them a check and then also comes in and tells us that he had to shoot our dog, Curly. And it was sad. We felt that if he fed him, the dog wouldn't have been chasing his chickens. So there's two sad things. The check that the farmer gave was not valid. And so my dad lost everything. It's not a good experience and I lost all my friends from school. Ironically, one was German descent. The other was Italian. And here I was. I'm the one that's going into camp. And I said, my gosh. I said only because I look different. I have to go. And they said, no, you'll be back in three months. Don't worry. And I went to a reunion into the Sacramento area in about 1950s and '50. And the Italian girlfriend came to see... to the reunion. But the German girlfriend didn't come. And I said, well, what happened to Marjorie and she said. Didn't you know that her younger brother got killed in a Japanese camp. One of those marching camps that they had. And so she sort of, I guess, blamed me for it. And I said, gee, I'm innocent. I don't know Japan for anything but my life being that I was a lot older than the rest of the people that you're interviewing. It really affected me quite a bit. I have no college education because I was in camp from 16, 17, 18 and 19 years old. Three years in between. And so I have no college education. But doggone it, I fought to be wherever I got by using my brains and fighting for what I wanted.
Sara Ziemnik [00:38:13] What camp where you... your family relocated to?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:38:16] Well, the assembly center was in Fresno. And from there, I guess Jerome was being built at that time. And so from Fresno, we went into Jerome, Arkansas, and I happened to have enough credits from my high school. I was a junior, but I had enough California credits compared to the Arkansas school system that I graduated in one semester, just going by one semester, got my high school diploma there. And like I said, being athletic, my goal from a young time was supposed... I wanted to be a Phys Ed teacher and I never got to the college. But in camp I got a chance because the Phys Ed teacher there was married to a soldier and he was being transferred out from that area. So she says, Eva, you're good enough that you can take over. And I said, doggone it, at 18 years old, just have my high school diploma, I can be a Phys Ed teacher. So here I went and both joyously thinking I could do it. Well, I found out a lot of the girls were a lot older than I and they weren't going to listen to me. So if I have a loud and clear voice, that's where I have to learn to become a strong person. So some good and some bad, mostly bad. But I do have good memories in camp.
Sara Ziemnik [00:40:00] Can you describe what your barracks was like or just what it looked like [inaudible]?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:40:04] Well, I think ours... all barracks were the same, but ours was divided into five. And I remember in Fresno Assembly Center, all nine of us were crowded into a about a ten... No, let me see about... Yeah, ten by about fourteen feet or something square and nine army cots had to be placed in there well my brothers thought, well, put up the laundry ropes and take our bedspreads and partition it so the girls could stay in one place. The three brothers in one and my father and mother and the other so they. And when we first went to the Assembly Centers Fresno, I remember having a box camera and that was confiscated. My mother's sewing scissors was confiscated, her knitting needles. They said it was dangerous weapons. So those were taken. So I have a lot of memories from Jerome, Arkansas but the Fresno Assembly Center. I have no pictures because I had no camera. And so the only thing I have is a championship basketball picture from Fresno. And but in Jerome, they had given my camera back. So I do have a lot of pictures from Jerome, Arkansas, Jerome was one of the first camps to close. So my dad thought he wanted to keep the family together. So he chose the closest camp, which was Rohwer, Arkansas. So I went to three camps different and in Rohwer. I decided, well, I'm saying goodbye to all my friends. And my friends had graduated high school, so they were transferring into Chicago, St. Lewis, Cleveland, New York. And I asked my dad. Can I go? And he said, "No, I'm going to keep you together as long as I could." So he chose Rohwer Arkansas. And I decided, well, heck, I'm always saying goodbye and not being able to keep new friends that I made. So I'm going to go on strike. I wasn't gonna make any friends at all. So I'd sleep, eat, and go to the mess hall and no athletic or anything. I didn't do anything there. And Dad thought gee she's over there just reading a book in her cot and not doing anything, so he just said... I said, I want to go to Cleveland. He says, you can't go. I'm want to keep you kids together. Well, finally, it ended up that he said, all right, we have a six month trial work bases that you could go to wherever you want. He says if you can talk your older sister into going, you could go. Well, it didn't take me about a minute to talk her into coming to Cleveland with me. So we were here for six months on a work thing. We had to go back. Rohwer. And then my future Farmers of America brother decided there's a man that came and said that there's a farm in Dubach, Louisiana. So would you like to try farming there? So my dad says, well, okay, we're going to be together, so we're going to go to that farm. Well, my younger brother by that time graduated high school in Rohwer and was inducted into the Army. As soon as he got his diploma, the next day, he was inducted into the army. So now the eight of us decided I mean, I didn't want to go, but the family decided we were gonna farm in Dubach. Well, California farming and Louisiana farming, it's a lot different in Louisiana. They put their corn and salt, sweet potato, whatever, and they sit on the front porch and they decide, well, the rain's gonna take care of their irrigation. Whereas in California, you had a pump and you had water coming out. You know, we irrigated it with a pump. But the difference was there was no irrigation system. They had to depend on the weather or rain. Well, my dad says we're not gonna farm like that. He went and bought buckets for each of us and to the bayou we went. We carried water from the bayou to water our plants. So naturally, our produce was a lot better than anybody else around us because of us putting in that much elbow grease. And that farm also had dairy. So one day the two older brothers while the one was in the army now, so the two older brothers said, well, we're doing the dairy you go and prune the pecan trees. I've never pruned anything before in my life, but they gave me the scissors to do things. I hacked and I wacked and I did everything to the pecan trees. Well, I didn't know if I was doing it correctly. But I knew it was thinning, pruning meant thinning, so I did that. Then in the meantime, my brothers would ride the horses and go into town and they got to meet people and they went to movies, whereas all the girls stayed at home. We never left that thing. And one day I shampooed my hair and here I am drying in the sun in the back porch. And my dad says, Well, Eva how come you don't curl your hair anymore? What for? To go carry water from the bayou to the corn crops. And so he finally says, "Well, you know what? It's not for you girls." So my older sister and I came back to Cleveland at that time and I've been here ever since.
Sara Ziemnik [00:46:22] What did kids do for fun in the camp? Kids your age and then kids in high school, what kinds of things did they do to pass the time?
Sadie Yamane [00:46:37] Oh, well. We had a rec hall, a recreation hall. And eventually we got things like balls and they set up nets and they had baseball teams that they made so they played all the baseball, basketball, volleyball. And I remember playing with all the kids kick the can and our red rover. And we became very good at jump rope with the girls. We do the double Dutch. And we played jump rope and oh, jacks. We used to have jacks tournaments. And we played jacks. Then I remember we used to have movies that came and we'd take our chairs and go sit out. They made a large screen so everybody would take their chairs and we would make rows. We would watch Hollywood movies. I remember the teenagers had dances in the rec hall. So we did all of the games that we used to play back home or tried to play all the the things that we used to play. I remember I got very good at jump roping and especially double Dutch, which I had never done in California then. And playing jacks and somebody we got like games that we could take out from the rec room. So we used to play Monopoly and we could... It was like a little library we could take them out and then we had to take the games back. But so we found a lot of games and things to play. At Christmas I remember we had this big Christmas party in the rec hall and we each got, the children, got gifts and there was some of the churches would send in gifts and my sister corresponded because there was a return address and she corresponded with Elaine Bowermaster. I remember her name ... for up until the day she died. They corresponded. And my sister when she got out of camp. They were about the same age, and I remember when my sister went to her wedding. So they corresponded for 50 years. And so, I mean, we each got a gift for Christmas, which was really very nice. Except I remember I got, I loved it, I got paper dolls. But I didn't have any scissors. So I had to wait to be able to get scissors from the officer that they had there. So I could cut out my paper dolls. But yeah, I remember. And having big sing along and they it was as nice a Christmas as they could do. And it wasn't bad. It wasn't a real Christmas. But they had a tree that we decorated with, I guess origami stuff. And so the adults tried to make it as nice a Christmas for the kids as possible. And I remember that the schools, the classroom, we had to bring our own chairs. And my teacher. There were teachers who volunteered, accredited teachers, from K [Kindergarten] to, I think probably teaching the high school. But I remember that the teacher that we had was a young... Her name was Mei Hiroki and she I guess everyone knew that she had been a very good student, like valedictorian of her graduating class. So they felt that she could teach in the second grade. And I thought she did a very good job. I don't know what kind of curriculum she used, but I remember when she would give us the spelling list. And I came home with a spelling list. And I remember my mother looking at it going extinguisher for second grade, I always remember that, because we were studying community helpers. And there were... it was the policemen and the firemen. And we had to list all of the things for fire prevention. And the teacher talked about a fire extinguisher. And so she put that down as a spelling word. And I remember my mother going, "that is an awful big word for a second grader." That was one thing. I don't know why I remember that, but I remember. So I'm not sure what kind of curriculum they used or if it was just up to the individual discretion of what... But anyway, when we came out of the camps and we were going into the public school system, we had these a little report card, sort of a mimeograph paper thing. And we weren't sure if they were gonna accept that. And so my sister and I were tested to see what grade they should put us in. And so my father and mother were impressed that we were able to be in our own grade. So they said the school must not bad because they were worried about the school, how well we would do. But we both went back to our regular grade. So they said, well, maybe that school system wasn't... maybe our teachers weren't that bad. Even though they weren't accredited teachers.
Sara Ziemnik [00:55:00] What did you do?
Eva Hasheguchi [00:55:01] We had organized basketball leagues for different towns and softball leagues and guys had baseball and they had basketball. They had sumo, they had judo and all that. So we did have a recreation department that organized these things, and I have to brag, I made every All-Star team there was because I was just at that age where, you know, and I really played hard. And so we had movies and dances. High school had all different dances. And I think I missed my prom because I was sick. I don't know how. I think my girlfriends went, but I didn't get to go to the prom because I was sick. My one and only chance. But I kept myself busy, very busy by organizing a lot of the teams I captained and brought them to a championship things. So I think fun wise, I had it even if I was internally hurt. And I think I'll never forget it. But I try very hard to overlook the bad.
Sara Ziemnik [00:56:39] When and how did your family receive compensation for the time in the camps? How did that work?
Sadie Yamane [00:56:46] Oh, well.
Eva Hasheguchi [00:56:48] There was no compensation.
Sadie Yamane [00:56:50] Well, yeah, in 19... If you were alive. Oh, it took a long, long time. But.
Eva Hasheguchi [00:57:01] Not in camp.
Sadie Yamane [00:57:02] Oh, not in camp. But in 1989 the compensation started. But it passed Congress in 1988. So if you were alive in 1988. Then you received compensation beginning in 1989. And they started with the eldest, the oldest people and until the youngest and I think it took like three years before everyone was paid.
Eva Hasheguchi [00:57:37] Twenty thousand dollars.
Sadie Yamane [00:57:39] Each survivor or each person who went into the camps received twenty thousand dollars from the government within a letter from the President.
Eva Hasheguchi [00:57:55] I have a sad experience on that. My dad came to the United States when he was 19 years old. He came because they had freedom of religion, freedom of speech. He wanted his kids to grow up in a free country. Well, the poor guy passed away before this apology came. And that's one thing I get sad about, is he never knew that a president would write an apology for putting us as citizens into camp. He never... He died before that.
Sadie Yamane [00:58:35] Yeah, that was yeah. That was always the ones that had passed on. And for me, especially my father, because at one point he said, now wait a minute. He says, when this is all over, I'm suing the government. And everyone was going, oh, my gosh. Because they were taking dangerous people or suspected or suspicious people to Tule Lake and Prenim. So I remember my uncles would say, John, would you keep your mouth shut? You know, because you have a loud voice and someone's going to overhear it and report you and you'll be gone and we won't know where you are. But he said no. He said when this is over. He said they're gonna realize how wrong they were. And everyone would laugh at him. So I regret that my father didn't see that there was a compensation and an apology. Well, it started. And my mother's letter because she. Well, my mother's 97. So she was one of the first. So her letter was signed by the first George Bush. And then when I got mine, it was from Bill Clinton. And the letter and so they went from the eldest to the youngest. But you had to be alive. And in 1988. Now my father-in-law just made it because he didn't see the money but he was alive in 1988. He passed away in 1989. And so I guess we had to just send in his death certificate and so his twenty thousand went to his widow to you know my mother-in-law. And so he knew that it had, that Congress had passed it but he didn't receive his check personally or his letter of apology. But that was a time where I wasn't sure if it was going to pass it took how many years I think it was. [crosstalk] Three Congresses. I mean, we... And it finally passed. So that was a lot of.... they had a lot of testimonial hearings, congressional hearings, a lot of people putting in a lot of effort.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:01:58] But the question you asked in camp, the people who worked in the mess halls maybe made $16.00 And the ones that had college education and taught got $19.00. That's a compensation in camp.
Sadie Yamane [01:02:13] Yes. Yes. Yeah. I think.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:02:19] They made no more than that.
Sadie Yamane [01:02:21] No, no more than that.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:02:22] I know it was 16 and 19.
Sadie Yamane [01:02:25] Yeah, something like that. I thought the highest was 25.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:02:28] I don't know. I never... [crosstalk] well, all I know is...
Sadie Yamane [01:02:37] But they got a monetary monthly payment if they worked in the camp and because they had the kitchen workers and.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:02:51] Teachers.
Sadie Yamane [01:02:52] Teachers.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:02:54] And College grads got to teach.
Sadie Yamane [01:02:56] Yeah. So.
Sara Ziemnik [01:02:59] I always try to explain to my students, they're 15, you know, they say twenty thousand. That sounds like a lot of money. I say, well think, how much is your house? How much is your car? How much are you? And then they go, oh, you know, and then they realize that its really not that much if you think about it.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:03:14] Having been uprooted and everything gone. Don't forget everything gone. Except what you could carry, which was your clothing. So we lost... I think we lost a lot more than that. Twenty thousand means nothing.
Sadie Yamane [01:03:31] Yeah. Well, I remember when we were going for the redress there were a lot of people who helped. And, um, this one man from the government, he had said you will probably get a monetary amount, but don't expect an apology because it's.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:04:00] Right the opposite. I didn't want the money. I wanted the apology [crosstalk]. That was the number one thing I was looking for.
Sadie Yamane [01:04:08] If you read the letters written both by well from the Bush staff and from the Clinton, both of them, they apologize. They do apologize. So I was stunned because you said that wasn't their policy. They could say that they are trying to right a wrong, but don't expect an apology. That is not the policy. So evidently the policy has changed because they do say they are sorry that they apologize for the wrong that was done and so that was very gratifying. The letters of apology was something that was an extra bonus because I didn't think it was going to happen. So those are very treasured letters. Oh, I just... [be]cause my sister-in-law and her husband were just here. They just went back to the West Coast, but they were just here and we were talking about my sister-in-law is married to Frank Yatsu and his father passed away at age 109. [crosstalk] And. Yeah. And his. He, uh. And Frank was saying there was... his check was 000001. He was number one. So he was the first oldest to receive his compensation.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:06:02] He made the papers.
Sadie Yamane [01:06:05] Yeah. Yeah. He made the papers then of course, Frank has the same name. And he says that some of his friends were shocked that they thought he had passed away. And then they saw 109 and then they realized it was Frank's father.
Sara Ziemnik [01:06:23] What do you think are the most important lessons that my students or students anywhere can take away from your experience? What would you like to just say to them?
Eva Hasheguchi [01:06:32] That no citizen should be treated as we were. That's number one, I think. Appreciate your citizenship. Make use of it. Do everything good with it because they've got the... we've got the power to do it.
Sadie Yamane [01:06:54] Yes. And it.. that... like my father. Remember, he. He wasn't afraid because he was an American born citizen and. And he just felt that freedom was his birthright. And that all the courts were open. I mean, things like this can happen and that freedom. Our freedoms are a very... it's a fragile thing. I mean, you've got to be very proactive in defending it. And how could this happen in America? And so I think the lesson is that everyone has to be very vigilant. This should not have happened. But in time of. Well, it was wartime hysteria.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:07:59] Hysteria.
Sadie Yamane [01:08:01] You know what? Things like this can happen. And even every time there is a there's a crisis you'll hear somebody say, hey, we got these 10 camps. You know that we put the Japanese that says they were going to round up all the Arabs and all of the Muslims and put them away. That kind of mentality. I mean, we have to be very, very, very careful. And some of the Muslims and Arab Americans are having a hard time. They said that everybody looks at them like they're terrorists. I mean, where doing... it happens again. And we have to be very, very careful.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:08:54] Well, one thing was that there was no Japanese American that was brought up as a spy or anything. Now, in England, look at that. They're English citizens and they're being they're terrorists. So there is a lot of difference between our, well, I would say culture, I guess, and discipline. I don't know what it is. But times are different right now because you hear that the terrorists that were caught in England are English citizens.
Sadie Yamane [01:09:31] Yeah. I was very surprised.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:09:32] So but we. There was not one.
Sadie Yamane [01:09:36] No. And everyone talks and we are very proud of the 442nd, that is the all volunteer Japanese American combat team of World War II. And they were the most decorated combat unit of its size during World War II.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:10:05] Don't you think the boys did that because of the camp? I think deep down, you know... [crosstalk]
Sadie Yamane [01:10:11] Yeah, they wanted so much to... [crosstalk]
Eva Hasheguchi [01:10:12] I think they wanted to prove... [crosstalk]
Sadie Yamane [01:10:13] To prove their loyalty that we were... [crosstalk]
Eva Hasheguchi [01:10:15] That we were Americans. [crosstalk]
Sadie Yamane [01:10:15] That we were Americans.[crosstalk]
Eva Hasheguchi [01:10:17] I'm almost certain. [crosstalk]
Sadie Yamane [01:10:19] And, of course, you know, some people say, you guys are crazy. Let the government treat you like that and you go out. But that was a way of proving their loyalty. Some of their heroic feats were unbelievable. And what they did and they saved the lost battalion. After all, these other troops tried to save them. They were the Texas battalion in Italy that were surrounded by German machine guns. No one could save them. They sent in the three other teams and then they decided, well, we'll send in the Niseis, [crosstalk] the 442nd, and 442nd went in and saved the Texas battalion. Now they saved what? They saved 200 men. They lost 600 by saving them. 600 of them were killed to save 200. And I mean, that's how they went in. And it was do or die. Whenever they were given a mission, they accomplished it. And the dispensary and in the camps, the doctors and nurses say that on the eve of any battle, there are a certain percentage of soldiers who are so sick. I mean, because of the mental prospect of death and dying of all this. There's I don't know what the percentage is, 18 percent or something are in the dispensary and don't go into the battlefields. And the report came out that in every 442nd one hundred percent, zero in the dispensary, they all went without fail in every battle. They- I do use my hands- in every battle. There was never anyone in the dispensary. No one was ever in the sickbay. And I was reading... I didn't even know this know. And they would certain battalions and units would get the presidential flag, a presidential flag and in the time that they got the presidential flag. Usually a general or a higher in command would come to present the presidential flag to the battalion. But Harry S. Truman himself, when he had heard about the background of the Japanese American combat team and where their families were in camps in the desert and into swamp lands and in the mountains. He made a point to come himself, which was a big honor. And when he gave the presidential flag to the unit. So that was... And he said that Americanism isn't a race. You know, Americanism is... it's in the heart. It's not what you look like. But anyway, it was an honor, that they appreciated.
Sara Ziemnik [01:14:34] I think we've covered all my topics. Is there anything else you'd like to add that we haven't discussed?
Eva Hasheguchi [01:14:41] Yeah. You know that pecan tree that I pruned? [crosstalk] That year I had heard from Dubach that they had the biggest pecan thing.
Sadie Yamane [01:14:51] Oh. You didn't know how good you were.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:14:55] Yeah, I was in Cleveland. I got a letter saying, hey, do you know Dubach produced the biggest...largest pecans this year. And I said, well, that's my pruning I cut everything. And maybe two pecan grew on each tree.
Sadie Yamane [01:15:09] You doubled it.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:15:13] Yeah.
Sara Ziemnik [01:15:20] Thank you so much for sharing your stories. And I know my students always appreciate when you come to class and I know they'll appreciate hearing your stories too.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:15:26] Thank you.
Sara Ziemnik [01:15:26] Thank you very much.
Sadie Yamane [01:15:28] You're welcome.
Eva Hasheguchi [01:15:30] Ok.
Sara Ziemnik [01:15:30] That's it.
Japanese American Citizens League
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"Sadie Tami Yamane and Eva Hasheguchi interview, 14 Aug 2006" (2006). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 906003.