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"I was born in Seattle, Washington. My parents had a grocery store, and we lived above and behind the grocery store. Those were my beginnings. Eventually, I had six brothers and sisters. And in addition, my grandfather, grandmother, and their son (that is my uncle) also lived with us. So, we had a total of 12 people. And I don't recall feeling cramped or anything to have that many people in the building [laughs]…
   "It was the first of May 1942 that we were evacuated. So, that was December to May. We had about four months to take care of everything… We were informed that we were going to be moved out. They had signs posted – not in our neighborhood because there weren't that many Japanese [where we lived] – but I'm sure that in the Japanese neighborhoods they had the signs up…
   "I considered myself an American citizen [and he was]. Now, my parents could not. They couldn't – they were barred from naturalization. It wasn't until after the war that they [the government] changed that so they [his parents] could be naturalized, which they did, of course…
   "The first move was to an assembly center. And this was to the state fairgrounds… They pounded together shiplap and put it up and that was the wall. And the inside walls of them didn't go clear up to the ceiling. I swear that if you were going fast enough you could see in through the cracks. You know that affect of going by fast you could actually see inside [laughs]. But we were there from May until September, first of May until the first of September while these permanent relocation centers were being built. They rounded us up and we got on the train and we rode all day, all night. And then the train stopped. It had to because it was the end of the track. As far as you could see in every direction was sagebrush. And they had a fence across the front of the entrance to the camp. But there was nothing, no fences other than that. They didn't need to have any fences because it was all just all wilderness…
   "Oh, it was tough. It was cold. The only heating we had was a coal burning stove, one to an apartment. And one of the important jobs there was delivering coal. But that was it. We huddled around that thing. We slept in cots. As I say, half of our family was in one room and the other half in the other room…
   "Heck, you had to do all the work – all the jobs yourself. As I said, delivering coal was one. They had doctors and nurses. As I said, my dad was a co-op store manager. The education was one area which was not taken care of by the evacuees themselves. That's because there weren't very many Japanese that would ever be accepted as teachers. So had to rely on outside help for that"
   Question: "So it wasn't totally like a concentration camp. Did you feel like you were in a concentration camp?"
   "No, not really. Not really. Gosh, we were all together there, and we would eat together. We would shower together [laughs]. I didn't feel that way about it… There's a Japanese feeling – or whatever you want to call it – it's called Shikata ga nai which means, 'There's no use.' You know, 'Go along with it. Don't fight it.' And for myself, I think that was pretty much my feeling. Heck, in the first place I didn't know what else I could do…
   "The only thing was, of course, it would have been nice to get out of there and not to continue living that way. That's when I started looking for a school [to continue his college education]…
   "Minidoka [the relocation camp] was closed October 28, 1945."

Kaz Tada – Internment

   

Other Excerpts from Kaz Tada’s Interview:

Pearl Harbor
College Days
A Nation’s Apology
College Basketball