Betty Toyota and Joy Trapnell, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald and Mike Abe, 12 October 2016

Betty Toyota and Joy Trapnell, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald and Mike Abe, 12 October 2016

Abstract
In this interview, Kyla and Mike Abe sit down with Betty Toyota, a Nisei, and her daughter, Joy Trapnell, a Sansei. For this interview, Betty shares her memories of growing up in Vancouver as a teenager before the war, having her father and brother being sent to internment camps, her family’s preparation before leaving, getting her high school diploma, being uprooted to Slocan and growing up during the internment like living in a tent and shack, eating in the mess hall, getting water, and getting work. Furthermore, Betty discusses her family history, how she met her husband Tak Toyota, reuniting with her brother, social life after the war, and moving to Creston with her husband. Joy and Betty also discuss Tak’s successful business ventures including Tak’s Home Furniture, community contributions, and legacy. Joy also shares her own childhood memories, her family, and about growing up in Creston and being Japanese Canadian. Finally, Betty and Joy reflect on the obstacles of fitting into a small town, the effects of the internment, and the importance of sharing family histories.
00:00:00.000
Joy Trapnell (JT)
Why don't you talk about what it was like when you left Vancouver when you found out that you were going to have to leave, how did that go?
Betty Toyota (BT)
It was kind of hard because by that time my dad was in the internment camp because, like I said, he was a Japanese National and being enemy aligned they have to send them to Petawawa. And then my brother ended up in Angler, Ontario, but another thing was this immigration building. They were taken into this immigration building in Vancouver that was right at the bottom of Granville Street. That's where the CPR Station was. And we could only go up there, they wouldn't let us in the building, but the first group of Japanese nationals that they rounded up, they were all stuck in this immigration building and the wives could go in and talk to their husbands, but then it was like a guard was standing in the room. This was the first group. And when that immigration building got full, then they shipped them all out to Petawawa. Then they started getting the second group, which was my dad, which was in the second group. By that time, they wouldn't let the wives into the room. We could only go outside and yell at them through the window and that's what we did just about every afternoon. And walk down to the immigration building and we yelled it. Somebody would say, “Oh Mr. Omakoshi, there's your family there.” So he would come out to the window and it's barred.
BT
But it's open so we'd just come in and wave your hands like. And then we found out that they were going to ship this group of people to the interment camp on the train so that afternoon we went to see my dad and all I could remember is my dad yelling and he's telling my mother, “Make sure you eat good food. Don't skimp on your food and stay healthy.” He was quite focused on eating good food like we did. And that was it. Well then after he got shipped to Petawawa, there were more groups. They took in the naturalized Canadians, they all got in and then after that they started getting the Japanese Niseis in. and while there was one group they kind of protested, that the food was bad or something. So they had a riot in there. They threw toilet paper out of the window and everything.
KF
Oh really? Laughs
BT
Ever since then, they stopped people from going to the building. They completely didn't let us go to the building. And the only way was here was your building, and this is Hastings Street and there's quite a lot of distance away and that's the only way you can see this building. So we would walk up to Hastings Street and there's kind of a guardrail and we would lean on and we could see the building down there. And you could see the people, but you can't see the faces, but you can see the men waving their hands out of the window. And then I got the idea I said one day, “Mom, we could send letters into the immigration building,” just a note, of course it would be censored. So I said mom, “Lets do something. I'll put a red handkerchief in the envelope and write to Johnny and tell him if you see a red handkerchief like us waving, you come to the window and wave at us.”
KF
And can I ask who was Johnny?
BT
John is my brother.
KF
Oh okay.
BT
Okay. Yeah so the next day we went and the three of us, like my two sisters and my mom and I, we went and raved this red handkerchief. And somebody must have said, “There's somebody waving a red handkerchief.” So naturally my brother came out and he was waving his red handkerchief. And then we knew he was okay that he was there. But then that story caught on and soon there was a white handkerchief, blue handkerchief – Everybody laughs
KF
A rainbow of handkerchiefs.
BT
White handkerchief. That's how handkerchief started.
JT
Handkerchief started...
BT
And then that place got full so they were all shipped out to the interment camp we found out. Then we found out that the instead of sending them to Petawawa they sent them to Angler. And that was it. But another thing was going out on the train. They send them out on the train. And every night at seven o'clock the CPR train would go by our Alexander Street. The train track is just down below Alexander Street. And our Japanese School happened to be on Alexander Street and every night – you know those days nobody wore watches. We didn't have any watches. And we had Japanese school from 6:00 to 7:30 and we couldn't get out at 7:30. But every night, twenty after seven the train went by so we could tell when the train went by, “Oh it's twenty after 7:00, ten more minutes and we'll be out of school.” And that was the longest ten minutes. But anyway when they started shipping all these people out, we couldn't go to the immigration building. All we could go was go down to Alexander Street and watch the train go by and then we could see the men in the train waving their hands. But you know what it's like a train going, how are you going to pick out your father or your brother just like that. You can't see anybody but somebody would say, “Oh I saw Johnny on the train, he was on the train.” Oh somebody would say, “Oh Mr. Omokoshi was on the...” but then every night, everybody used to walk down to Alexander Street to see the train go by because at that time they were sending people to ghost camp too. Ghost towns on the train, right. So that was another thing. Every other night we would go down Alexander and watch these people go down on the train and that was quite a thing too. And then we got the notice that we had to go to Slocan and you're only given 48 hours notice. And the reason we went to Slocan was see they were all told where to go. Like the doctors were told to go here, the dentists were told to go here. Ministers, Kaslo was the United Church minister, Greenwood was the Catholic nun, Slocan was the Anglican. New Denver was the Buddhist Priest and that's how it went. And my sister worked for this dentist in Vancouver and he was told to go to Slocan. So the dentist said, “Well if I go to Slocan, I want my nurse. Like my aid to go.” So that's how we ended up in Slocan.
JT
Because of Margaret.
BT
And then once we got to Slocan we had to live in this tent. And the tent you can see the replica of it in Unclear due to cough. And I remember the first time we went, they showed us our tent, we were each assigned a tent. It's only about that big. There were two double beds in the tent; it's just made of –
JT
Canvas.
BT
Four studs and a board across and that was it. That was our bed. And on each bed was this – they called it a palius. It's a ticking made of blue and white ticking. Mattress cover. And they called it a palius, double bed side. And the man said, “You take this palius, go out in the field and fill it up with straw,” out in the field there was a whole pile of straw or hay, I don't know what it was. But we had to fill this up and bring it back to the tent and that was our mattress. And we were each given a gray blanket, one of those itchy two, two itchy gray army blankets. And that was our bed.
Mike Abe (MA)
How many in the tent?
BT
How many in the tent? Just me and my sister.
MA
Okay.
JT
And your mother.
BT
Oh yeah and my mother. There was just the three of us, it was just the family. I don't know how many other people lived. But at least four people could live in the tent. And I can't remember what we did about our pillow or bed sheet. We brought it with us but it was still in the baggage car. But that's how we stayed and for two months.
JT
And then how did you get out of the tent?
BT
How did we what?
JT
How did you get out of the tent? Like, why did you get moved?
BT
We moved because we were in there. We left Vancouver the day after Labour Day, September, October, we were in that tent. And you know how cold it gets? And Japanese are smart. They think of something.
00:10:00.000
00:10:00.000
BT
They're always thinking of something. And we got to know this one young fellow; he used to come over every tide day. And he was the carpenter. So you know the nail kegs, they used to come in a keg. All the nails, got one of those nail kegs, made a little foundation made of wood and filled it up with rocks and gravel and put this nail keg upside down and made a hole in the front and then he made a hole in the top. And by that time the commission would give us stovepipes. You would go down to the head commission warehouse and there was this Japanese man in Vancouver. He was a tinsmith and he made these things called roof jack. You know how you have a roof and there's this tin and the pipe.
MA
Oh yeah.
BT
They called it a roof jack. So we were allowed to go down to the commission – the warehouse and get two pipes and a roof jack. So that roof jack would go out from the flat of the tin. So we had enough little fuel to burn in this little nail keg with the smoke going up the roof. And that kept our little tent warm enough. JOY TRAPNELL AND
MA
Wow.
BT
That's how we kept. And then naturally October the 31st it snowed. And out tent caved in from the snow, weight of the snow. And I thought, “Oh my god we got bombed.” And that was it. So the next morning there was no place to go so they moved us into the house. They're building this shack, but the house – it was the way they distributed people into the house was the way they came in. So you had to go by name like the people that were there first got the empty house. And the houses, they couldn't build these shacks fast enough for the people to live. And that's how we had to live in a tent 'til we got the shack. But then we managed and lucky to share a shack. But another thing was as long as you were living in the tent, you had to eat in the mess hall. How else can you get – there's no way of cooking. It was just the parent. So we went into the mess hall and this mess hall used to be this old skating rink in Slocan. So naturally the floor is dirt and they've just built tables out of old wood and benches. And that was the mess hall. And then you go in and you have to line up, like the working men ate first as soon as they came from their work about five o'clock or twelve o'clock. They would eat first. So the men and the women and children, old men and women and children, they had to line up outside. Wait in line 'til the men finished eating. But naturally we were working in the office right? So as soon as the men finished eating, we could go down and eat. But the first time we went to eat in the mess hall, you have to wait in line, walk in line and there's a stack of tin plates and I would swear, I'd swear that they must've picked it out of the dump at some army camp or something. They were dented, some were rusty and then every now and then you'd see this white rim and you'd think, “Oh it's an enamel plate, I'll get that.” And pull it out and you know how enamel is when it gets old you get this black spot, it's got black spots and knife, but that's what we had to eat. And then they show your food, you line up and you go and they line up and throw food in. And I remember I had happened to be in front of my mother and I looked at her and her face just turned white. I could still see her. I mean in Vancouver, my dad was quite particular about the food we ate. That's why he yelled at us, mom to make sure you eat good food right? And we ate out of good chinaware. We had the Noritake chinaware set, we ate good food. And to see all this slaw, to us it was slaw. It was just something else. Yeah. And then Japanese there was an old saying, tengoku, means heaven and jikoku means hell. Mom used the first, quite a while she was saying it was just like tengoku too, for her. And it was like that for us. And then here we moved into the house. Well it was a shack, but to us it was an old wood stove. We had a gas stove in Vancouver, we had oil heat. Mom wasn't used to cooking on a wood stove. So it was all a new experience for her. So I often thought, no wonder it must've been hard on my mother. But she never complained, not once. We would complain every now and then. But mom never did because she said, “Think of your dad and think of your brother. They'd be worst.” And no indoor plumbing, outside we had to go and fetch water with a pail. And for every six houses, three on that side and three on this, there was a washstand. And you'd go to New Denver and you see this replica of the washstand. It's just a wooden box, and then there's this pipe, it's sticking out. And you turn the water and you fill your pail and you come home. And it was – my mother and my younger sister, they looked after the water all the time. So after supper, it was my older sister and my turn to go and fetch water for the night. And I remember this one day, I told you.
JT
Yes you did.
BT
It was my turn to go fetch the water so I go get the water, fill it up, this is in the wintertime. Fill it up two pails and start to turn around and naturally it's all icy because everybody else is getting water and you know how it splashes, and everything is icy around and I turned to go and I slipped and I fell, two pails full of water just spilled. And I'm telling Joy, I told you, “I just swore my head off.” Joy laughs I don't know where the words came from. I just swore and I thought, “What did I do to deserve this?” And that's the only time I felt so angry about being in an interment camp like a ghost town. That's how it was, you had to get used to it. You had to fetch water every time.
JT
Tell the story about the money. About grandpa, your father and how he knew and he took all the money and gave it to grandma.
BT
Well I told you that didn't – Oh the money when the war started my dad knew right away. You know how rumors go around? That they were going to get all the Japanese nationals because they were enemy aliens and they were going to round them up and deport them. Japan. So naturally the first thing that my dad thought was the money. So he went took all his money out of the bank, I think there were two banks he dealt with. Took all the money out of the bank and then he had three insurance policies on his life. Got all the money out of the insurance policy because he lost quite a bit too, right? But at least he had the cash. And then he was going to sell his house and get the money, but by that time, they had frozen all the Japanese, they froze the houses, right? So he couldn't get the money. But what we didn't know was that my mother all during that time she carried all this cash with her. And that's how we were able to buy a few things and all that.
KF
Can we go back a bit Betty to your childhood?
BT
Oh yes.
KF
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? And your family, how many siblings you had, where you lived on Cordova?
BT
Oh we lived quite comfortably. And I won't say well, we were because my dad worked in the theatre.
KF
Yeah.
BT
There was a big theatre in Vancouver called the Beacon Theatre. It was one of the big three theaters in Vancouver. And the reason the Beacon Theatre was quite known was after the movies, they had the stage show. And hour and a half stage show after the movie. And all these great big bands, orchestra, or name performers came to play at the Beacon Theatre for a whole week.
00:20:05.000
00:20:05.000
BT
Like Roy Rogers, Sons of the Party, Gene Autry, they all came. Duke Ellington, Lana Hampton, they all came and played at the Beacon Theatre so we were quite well known about them. And that's how we grew up when we were young. I remember my younger sister and I we were going to grow up to be an usherette. That's what we thought, “Oh they look so smart.” And being a big theatre, the theatre was open at eleven o'clock in the morning and it ran all day long until eleven at night. So you could go in anytime. Anytime during the day to see a movie. And I guess this is why they had this theatre, I mean, these usherettes working. There were twelve of them. Six during the day, they worked in shifts. But every theatre the usherettes had their own uniform. And we thought the one at the Beacon Theatre had the nicest uniform. They had this satin top and satin pants and it was the same style but the colours were different. Sometimes it would be white stain blouses, red satin kind of a shaharazad pants, you know? And they would carry flashlight and show you your seat. And sometimes it would be a gold top and a blue pants and they really looked smart. And I remember Jean and I we were always saying, “Oh we're going to be an usherette when we grow up.”
KF
Now what about your parents. Where did they come from?
BT
My mother came from Wakayama kin. They both came from Japan. They lived in Vancouver Island for a while.
JT
Grandma was a picture bride, wasn't she? Originally?
BT
Well my dad was my mother's second husband. The first one was the picture bride, came to Vancouver and then my brother was born. And then right after my brother passed away –
JT
No your brother's father passed away.
BT
Oh yeah my brother's father passed away. My mother was single with this small boy and I guess dad happened to be working and they got married then. And that was it. So that's why my brother for a while his name wasn't Omakoshi, it was different name.
KF
It was another last name.
BT
Another name. And then after dad married, he decided to adopt him and that's how he changed his name to Omakoshi. But then he worked in the logging camp here in Vancouver Island so mom knows – What did I say one day? You mentioned... Fanny Bay.
JT
Oh Fanny Bay oysters.
BT
Yeah.
JT
He worked in Fanny Bay.
BT
He worked in Fanny Bay or something. And then he went to Vancouver and got the job working in the Beacon Theatre. And he started as a janitor or whatever, but then he went up and got to be more like a maintenance man. So working in there, we could go in for nothing every Saturday. Especially the Beacon Theatre was just on Hastings Street, one block away from Woodward's building in Vancouver. And every Saturday from eleven o'clock Saturday was the matinee was the kids used to go there. So whenever there was Roy Rodgers or Gene Autry there'd be a line up, half a block long. Waiting for the door to open at eleven o 'clock. And here's mom and us three girls would just slip in the side door. And we could go upstairs to the balcony, front row, middle seat. That was our seat. And we lived good. And I remember sometimes our friends would come over and they think they could come with us to the theatre for nothing, right? But mom would say, “No, we can't take anybody with us.”
JT
You'd have immediate friends.
BT
And that's how we grew up. And I remember going to the theatre when it was still black and white and no talking.
JT
Wow.
BT
Yeah you know how the words used to come out? And we would sit there and couldn't ready anyway, but we'd sit there and watch these black and white movies. That's how long my dad worked. And right to the very end. And when my brother graduated or finished grade nine, most of his friends went to work in a sawmill or a lumber camp or on a fishing boat, but my brother went to work for my dad. And every day at about 3:30, dad would have to go to the theatre to make sure everything was clean and in proper order and for that he used to wear his suit and his tie and go and check everything just for about three quarters of an hour or so. So when my brother started working, they took turns every other day. So dad didn't have to. So my brother, he just enjoyed that. He was quite the snazzy dresser. So he would dress one day, he would wear his suit and next time he would wear his sport coat and in those days those suit suits were in fashion with the big lapel and this port pie hat. He would get dressed up and go. And he always made – my dad went about 3:30, but my brother timed it so he would in about 2:30, that's when the stage show would end. So especially when there's a big band playing, he would go in about 3:30 and go backstage and get all the – like Duke Ellington, all Lana Hampton, Louis Armstrong –
JT
He got their autographs?!
BT
Oh yeah he got all their autographs. And my brother is very, very outgoing. He was a “Hi I'm Johnny! How are you? Can I have your autograph?” He had all of them with all their autograph on it. There was one Louis Armstrong, he just wrote such and that was it. And my brother really enjoyed it. And he used to say and this is after the war, some of his friends used to envy him because of his work. And I think my brother enjoyed doing that. But then when the war came, by war I mean, Pearl Harbor, all Japanese lost their jobs right away. By the end of, I think, December there weren't many people. The manager didn't want to let my dad go. He was very well known in the theatre. Even the usherettes used to call him Yuma. He was known as Yuma, “Oh you're Yuma's daughter,” like you know? Instead of Yumakoshi. And that was that. And then whenever there was one of the girls who would have a birthday, the management would give her a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolate or something. So every time when dad went to work and it happened to be one of the girls birthday, the girl would snip out a carnation from her bouquet and put it in my dad's lapel. And dad would come home with this flower. And my brother used to kid and say, “Oh he looks like a glorified floor walker.” So when my brother started working and he'd come home with this lapel, we used to joke at him and told him he looks like a glorified undertaker. Everybody laughs We used to call, “Yeah you look like a glorified undertaker to me.” But that's how it was and my dad was able to work 'til the end of February. But then he wore this Chinese pin on his lapel, right? By that time the Japanese were looked down on even when going to school. They called us yellow Jap and enemy whatever. So the Chinese community, they made out these lapel pins with a China . They all wore this and so happened that my dad happened to get one of the pins and he wore it on his. So when he was going to work, nobody bothered him, thought he was Chinese. And that was that.
KF
It's quite savvy.
BT
It was quite the thing then in Vancouver.
KF
Now can I ask about your home life a little bit? What was your house like?
BT
Oh my house is still sitting there –
KF
Yeah can you talk about that a little bit?
BT
In Vancouver. It's really – at that time we thought it was nice and big. But it went way back to the whole side. But you look at it now and it's small. But we all grew up and upstairs –
00:30:01.000
00:30:01.000
JT
What was the address?
BT
Hm?
JT
What was the address?
BT
It was 656 Cordova Street East. And mom and dad had their bedroom downstairs, there was a big living room, dining room, and a kitchen, and a bathroom at the back. And we stayed upstairs; the front was my brothers room. And at the back, us three girls. We thought it was a real nice house and it was well kept. My dad loved gardening. He was really into gardening. He would spend hours just sitting out in the back looking after his flowers. Gladiolas and dahlias were his favourite. He wasn't in not much for vegetables, but flowers. I remember the –
KF
Did you speak Japanese at home or did you speak English?
BT
Oh yeah we did. Always mom and dad just spoke Japanese all the time. Even before school. When we went to grade one we could hardly speak English. We always spoke Japanese at home and then when we went to English school we all had to go to Japanese school. Everybody from grade one to grade twelve. And Alexander Street and it's still sitting there, it's quite a big school now. But we all went to school. From grade one to grade six, it was from four o'clock 'til five thirty. So right after when we'd come home from our elementary school, we just had enough time to grab something to eat and go. And from grade eight, was it? No grade seven 'til grade twelve, it was from six 'til seven thirty.
KF
In the evening?
BT
Evening.
KF
Okay.
BT
So you know the Japanese kids didn't have time to play around much. You always had to go to Japanese school. And it was compulsory, we just had to go. But another thing was the Japanese, we all got the Japanese school. Even now they have this group reunion groups, right?
JT
Oh okay.
BT
And I remember the Expo that was '86, wasn't it? Expo '86 the Japanese School decided to have, what would it be about thirty or forty year reunion?
JT
Forty?
BT
Since the war.
JT
Forty.
BT
It would be forty. They had a big forty-year reunion because being the expo they knew all the people from Ontario would come. And they did and that's when Kay and Aussie, they all came from Ontario just to come.
JT
Did you go?
BT
I was there.
JT
Good.
BT
I went, Johnny came, Jean went and we all stayed at my sister, Margaret's house. And the reason Kay came was her husband Aussie went to Japanese school.
JT
Okay yeah because she was on the island.
BT
Yeah. Kay and Toyota family never went to a Japanese School. So we had a big reunion in 1986. And I think a couple of years ago they had it in Toronto again. Just the Japanese School reunion, but I never went. And that was it.
KF
What were your experiences like in the elementary school everyday?
BT
At the English School?
KF
At the English School.
BT
It was all right. Our Strathcona School, you probably heard of it, the Strathcona School.
KF
Oh yeah.
BT
To me it was like a League of Nations there because there were so many different nationalities. We had Italians, Japanese, Chinese, even Gypsies. Oh yeah Hindus. I never thought of racism then. French people, Italian people, got along real good. There were a lot of Japanese, Chinese, Italian kids. And then we go to our Japanese School after and got to know all the Japanese people.
JT
Did you have a lot of non-Japanese friends?
BT
Just at school. Not – well out of school we're into our own community, Japanese community. So we didn't have any friends, right? But at school we got to gather, you know how you get with your school chums. As a matter of fact, I got to know quite a few English kids, but just that school. And soon as the, this is 1943, was it? Most of the Japanese kids didn't go to school, they just dropped out because they were, what you call, hisiki, means...what? That word just doesn't come... you're looked against. Oh it will come later. So the kids all feared about going to school, so they all dropped out. They just didn't finish school. And here I was in grade twelve...
MA
Ostracized.
JT
Oh.
BT
Hm?
MA
Ostracized or boycotted.
BT
Ostracized. Boycotted that was it. That was it. And here I was in grade twelve and here we went to school for a whole twelve years. I skip one class, but here you denied the graduation, diploma – to me then it was important. And there was another Japanese girl, Marsha Yoshida, she lives in Vancouver now. She was really smart, real brainy. I couldn't catch up to her. Real brainy, she was always on the honour roll and all that. She said she had the same idea. You know we've got to finish school, twelve years and not having this diploma. So she says she's going, “I'm going to go to school two more months,” April May because end of May was the graduation. “Two more months I'm going to go to school.” So I thought okay I'll go too. So we went, our school was in Fairview Commerce, like we had to go on the streetcar for twenty minutes. But we went on the streetcar and went to school and of course they used to call us Jap and we got called names and all that.
JT
Oh really?
BT
Yeah. And then we finished, managed to finish school. And we were both recommended. That meant we didn't have to write exams. So we were both recommended and then we told we graduated, “You're welcome to come to the graduation ceremony,” but we couldn't go because we were denied – we were curfewed.
JT
You were curfewed.
BT
We couldn't go to the graduation ceremony, which was from eight o'clock at night in one of the small theatres close to our school. And this is what we wanted was the diploma. But one of my friends, her name was Joan Black, I got to know her. She said, “Betty we'll get the diploma for you.” So I remember the day after the graduation her father on a bicycle, came and brought me the graduation diploma.
KF
That's nice.
JT
Really?
BT
Yeah that was it. And to me that was important because it showed that we went to school for twelve years. Why give that up?
JT
Yeah. But that other, like you said, other Japanese students did drop out just because they didn't want to face all the name calling and criticism.
BT
I guess so. They were scared. Oh yeah they were scared. They said, “Oh you're silly, I wouldn't go to school, forget about it!” because by that time the Japanese school was closed too.
JT
Yeah.
BT
So I guess they didn't want to go to school, but I thought... Well I wouldn't have gone if I was by myself, but Masako she said she was going to go so I thought, “Oh I'll go with her.” And I was kind of glad I did.
JT
Absolutely.
BT
Just to get the diploma.
MA
Those who didn't that's almost a form of dispossession, right? You get denied that, your twelve years of school.
JT
Even if by choice, they didn't finish.
MA
Well, yeah.
BT
Well I went eleven years because I remember skipping grade three or four or something.
JT
Oh you were brainy. Come from good stock.
KF
Just to situate everything on a timeline. Can I ask you when you were born? What year you were born?
BT
I was born in 1925.
KF
1925.
BT
February.
KF
So by the time Pearl Harbor happened, you said you remember Pearl Harbor.
BT
I was seventeen I Think, was i?
KF
Yeah. So do you remember the day when Pearl Harbor happened? Do you have any memories of that?
BT
Well oh yeah everybody knew. We were all watching the radio.
KF
Yeah.
BT
Oh I mean not watching, listening.
JT
Listening to the radio.
BT
That's how we knew. Everybody especially being Japanese.
JT
So what was your reaction? What do you remember?
BT
It was just terrible.
00:40:00.000
00:40:00.000
BT
I mean, I don't know what the reaction was, but we knew what happened. And then when they said that all the Japanese were enemy, we were all enemies. We were all treated as enemy aliens, it was... And this was in December, remember, and the Japanese people were going to have a big Christmas, dance and every year, you know, every group had these big Christmas. The Buddhist people would have this great big Japanese and New Year celebration and all that. And all these young people were going to have this big dance and all that. Everything was just cancelled. Everything. We all had to surrender our cars. Oh the first thing was the fishing boats. People fishing up by the coast right away they were told to bring the boats down to Stanley Park. And some of them didn't even know why because they didn't have a radio in their boat. But they all had to bring their boat right down. And that's where it just rotted. It just rotted on the... And I remember the young fellow; he was a young bachelor living next door to us. He was a fisherman and he had to bring his boat down and he left his boat at Stanley Park. And he went everyday to look at his boat. And I remember coming over one night, just crying, he said that his boat was his wife. It was like a wife to him. And now it's sitting there rotting. And that's what happened. And then right away the Japanese people who had cars, they all had to take it to Hastings Park.
JT
Did your dad have a car?
BT
That was one thing we didn't have was a car.
JT
Okay.
BT
My brother was thinking of buying a car, but it's a good thing. Everybody had to just take their car and they just left there in Hastings Park. And another thing was radios and cameras. We all had to surrender, everybody who had a radio and camera we had to take it to the Mounties office. So when we went to Slocan, nobody had a radio, nobody had a camera. But there's always a funeral, weddings going on. And then I think Tad got the idea, we need a photographer and he was into photography so that's how he got to be the photographer in Slocan. And he took all, everybody's funeral and wedding pictures, and class pictures and all that. That was it.
KF
Can I ask, after Pearl Harbor happened, you were telling us about what you remember hearing on the radio and your feelings. Do you have any memories of listening to your parents talk about what was going on in Vancouver?
BT
No, not much.
KF
Yeah.
BT
What you did hear were just kind of rumors maybe, right? But all we knew was that they're – we were more concerned about my dad. They were going to pick up dad would be the first one to go.
JT
Because?
BT
He was a Japanese national.
JT
Which meant?
BT
Deportation.
JT
He had never become a Canadian Citizen.
BT
Yeah the Japanese National means men that came from –
JT
Japanese Citizen.
BT
Japan and never got their citizenship paper. And that's why they were called Japanese nationals. Now the ones who came and did get their citizenship were called Japanese naturalized. They were naturalized Japanese. And then there was the other group that were the Canadian-born Japanese and that was Nissei.
JT
All of you.
BT
So there were three classes of Japanese. And when the war – Japanese nationals, they would pick up all these Japanese nationals. It didn't matter whether you were the president of a big company or bank manager, you were a Japanese national, so you were an enemy alien so you're going to be deported. And that was it.
KF
Now when your family left, what did you take with you as a family?
BT
We were only allowed so much.
KF
Right.
BT
I can't remember 250 pounds per person, I can't remember
JT
No I think it was 75 wasn't it? Wasn't it like 75?
MA
150 I believe.
JT
Oh okay.
BT
500 per person or something.
MA
150 per person and one trunk.
BT
I remember about 75 pounds for under twelve years old.
JT
Okay that's what it was.
BT
That's why we sold everything. That was another thing my dad had in his mind, he says, “Sell everything, as much as you can. Get the money.” It was the money that was more important to him.
JT
He was smart.
MA
Yeah.
BT
Yeah.
JT
Very smart.
BT
So there was this... I don't know if you knew about this or not, but there was this Jewish fellow who would come down with his great big trunk and he would come and look at your – “I'll give you $100 for all of that.” And you know by that time people are getting desperate so “Okay take it, take it.” And they sold everything. That's why the Japanese didn't like the Jews. They didn't like it. And when we went to Toronto, the first time Tak and I went to Toronto. There were lots of Jewish stores and they would tell us like Kay or Kimi will say, “That's a kuichi store.” kuichi. And I'd say, “What's a kuichi?” Well you know Japanese ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, ku is nine, ichi is one. So nine and one is ju is ten. Mike laughs And kuichi in Japanese is like a scavenger; it's a dirty name.
JT
Oh my...
BT
And that's why they called all these Jews, that's a kuichi store. I thought you know we never heard of that being in Creston. We went to Toronto and you tell them kuichi and they'll know right away, that means a Jew.
JT
Oh...
BT
But what happened in Vancouver they would all come and I remember – we had a big piano. And I think it was forty-eight... four dollars or forty dollars or something. We just had to sell it. And we were told to go and then we had a real big dining room set. That all went with our Noritake chinaware. Everything. Just to get the money. But one thing, my dad was a carpenter, he loved making little doll, he used to make us doll houses for us. He had these tools so he made a toolbox with all his fancy tools. And he told mom, “No matter what happens, keep this. Don't ever sell it.” So that toolbox came with us.
JT
You guys took a tool box to the –
BT
Toolbox, heavy. And anything that's over your weight, you have to pay. Well mom did.
JT
Oh wow.
BT
And then another thing was mom had this real nice stainless steel wherever pots and pans set. The whole thing, she had the whole thing. And that was one thing she wasn't going to part with. So dad made a little cardboard box for her and told her, “Okay all your pots and pans will go in here. So we'll tape it.” So we took that. I still have the frying pan, remember?
JT
She still has the frying pan! You do!
BT
I have the frying pan. Oh yeah, I'll give it to you.
JT
And it still looks like it's brand new.
KF
Yeah...
BT
It's like brand new. And the pot, one pot, I still have one pot.
JT
Oh my goodness.
BT
It's this real thick wherever aluminum pan.
JT
Yup, yeah.
BT
And then somebody else told us already there in Slocan, would write letters, they would write, they said, “No matter what happens, bring your own mattress.” That was it. So we took two double mattresses with us.
JT
You're kidding?!
BT
Oh yeah, mom brought – we had our own mattresses –
JT
Oh because it all got put into storage while you were in the tent.
BT
Yeah. And another thing somebody said was being a fat girl you need your sewing machine, bring your sewing machine.
KF
You're not the only one. I've interviewed other families who brought – and not just portable ones, full-blown Singer Sewing machines.
BT
Yeah. That was ours. The single treadle.
JT
Oh my goodness!
BT
Brought that. Yeah. I think most people paid to bring their sewing machine.
JT
Oh wow.
BT
And that was the only thing. The others we sold everything. We sold everything and took the money.
JT
But you took blankets, sheets and towels and –
BT
Oh yeah. That we could manage. Just a few towels and blankets and just the ordinary Dinnerware set. Brought all that. And that was it.
MA
I was just wondering what your father's name was?
JT
I can't remember.
MA
Father?
BT
Tasoji.
MA
Tasoji, okay.
BT
T-A-S-O-J-I.
MA
Oh yeah, Tasoji. Yeah we have a file on him.
JT
Oh really?
MA
We're waiting for it from the Library Archives.
00:50:01.000
00:50:01.000
JT
I never knew your father's name.
BT
And my dad was, he was a real, they call it gambare?
MA
Yeah, gambare, yeah.
BT
Okay you know what that it, a die-hard. He was one of the gambare, I won't come out of the interment camp. So anyway he was in internment camp fro about four years, four and half years. And during that time my Margaret, me and my younger sister, we all got married. And here is dad in the internment camp. Didn't know our husbands, nothing. I mean life goes on and then they closed the internment camp. But there were about a dozen, maybe more, died-hards, gambare. They wouldn't go out for the internment. They said, “No we're not going,” like my dad he wanted his money back. In the meantime, they sold his house. He never got anything out of it. And he wanted – they were protesting against the Government because they weren't treated properly and unless they got, what, an explanation or apology they weren't going to go out. So they sent these group of men to Moosejaw.
MA
Right.
BT
There was an interment camp or something in Moosejaw. That's where he went and he was there for quite awhile.
JT
Really?
MA
After the war?
BT
Yeah and this is after the war. And by that time my mother and my sister they were all in Thunder Bay, Fort William, it was called Fort William.
JT
Because Johnny was there.
BT
Johnny was there.
JT
That's where he went.
BT
And he was on his own and he had a house so he called mom, Jean and Tak and I we got married and we were in Slocan. So they talked dad into coming, you might forget about all that.
JT
Wow, I never knew that.
BT
Forget about all that and come and live in Thunder Bay. So he finally decided to go to –
JT
Thunder Bay.
BT
Thunder Bay or Fort William then. And then years later I think they sent him a cheque. They sold his house and they sent him a cheque for about four hundred dollars – I can't remember what it was. They said, “We sold your house and here is your cheque.” And I'm sure Johnny said four hundred dollars. My dad was so mad. He started to tear the cheque. And at that time my brother was expecting their second child or something. First child? Anyway the wife was expecting. And he wanted to buy the house.
JT
Johnny did?
BT
Johnny did. So he said, “At least that money would pay for the down payment.” So he taped the cheque up. But I remember years later this girl in Vancouver, we used to go to school together, this is after the war we happened to be talking. And her dad owned a shoe shop on Powell Street. Her name was Kato. And they had a nice house in Vancouver too and he lost his shoe shop and the house and then later on just like my dad, the Government sent a cheque to her father. And she says her father was so angry when he looked at that. She says, “It was the first time I ever saw my father break down and cry.” Isn't it something? He cried, but then my dad was so mad he was going to tear the cheque up. And that's how it was.
JT
Wow. These are the stories you're hearing, eh?
MA
Yeah, yeah. Donna's father too. Grandfather.
JT
Oh...Yeah you said –
MA
He sent it back.
JT
Really?
MA
But he needed it back years later so he wrote again because he was sick and had no money.
JT
Wow...
BT
But then when you think about it, my dad just losing his house it was nothing compared to some other people. They had big stores and boats, businesses, they lost everything.
MA
Yes.
JT
That's incredible.
KF
Can you tell me how you met your husband in Slocan?
BT
Oh this was in Slocan. Everybody knew Tak in Slocan. I knew him, my older sister Margaret and I, we even went to the studio and got our picture taken and it was him. But then we didn't know him at all.
JT
Tell her what dad did.
BT
He was the photographer in Slocan. Like I said, nobody had cameras, right? So he was kind of an entrepreneur, right?
JT
Definitely.
BT
And he started the PA system. He was into music so he said, we'll put on a dance and he built his own PA system and he had a little group, they called him the SMC, Slocan Musical Co-op. And Kay and your Aunt Katie Suagar, they were all into it. And every Saturday they would have a dance and Tak would play all these music and put on the dances and everything, took pictures. So when my sister got married two years after, Tak came to take the picture. The wedding picture and the reception picture. And this was another thing if I go a bit astray. My sister got married to this fellow, he was in Fort William in the sawmill living in Fort William. And at that time he came to Slocan to recruit men to go and work in – see they were trying to get everybody out of the camp out east. So he came to recruit some people to work in this lumber sawmill in Thunder Bay and he was there for about ten days or something and then he met my sister. Although they knew each other in Vancouver. Like my sister and Harold, and they started exchanging letters and they got married. This was in October they got married and they went and had this reception in this school in Slocan. So during that reception we knew – my brother Johnny had come out of the interment camp and he was working in tobacco farm in Ontario. And that's how we knew he was out, but he kept saying he wanted to come to Slocan and get enough money to pain for his train fare to come to Slocan. So here during the reception it was just ready that Tak was ready to take the cutting of the wedding cake picture. The door opens and somebody yells. We look and here's Johnny walking into the room in his traveling clothes. He had just got off the bus with three other fellows and somebody went and picked them up and when he looked at Johnny, he says, “Oh your sister got married, they're having a reception at the .” So he brought them into this reception. And we're sitting there not knowing what's happening.
JT
Oh wow.
BT
And here he comes walking in and everybody's yelling because most of them knew Johnny and mother's all in tears and we're in tears. It was quite the thing. And then Tak was already to take a picture of them cutting the cake. So mom got up she wanted to be beside and then the Tarrow's parents were there so they all took pictures and here is everybody's in their ties and shirts. And my brother's standing behind mom in their traveling clothes. I think Margaret should just treasure that picture.
JT
I bet. Do you have it? Does she have it?
BT
I haven't, but I hope she because my brother – and then after that the lady, the bride, always used to change her clothes into a different dress. And my sister changed into her Japanese kimono and while he was changing, somebody had told Johnny you better change your clothes. He had his suit and tie in the suitcase so he took it out and he wore his shirt and tie. But he couldn't tie the tie. He didn't know how to tie his tie. Three years or four years in the interment camp he said, “I don't know how to.” And I remember Harold tying his tie for him.
JT
Wow.
BT
And then Tak was there taking the pictures. And I didn't know him then.
JT
Oh okay.
BT
I just knew that he was a photographer.
JT
That's who he was.
BT
And then I worked in the Slocan office. There were about twenty, twenty-five people and every Christmas, that Christmas we always had a dance and party. And every time whenever we have a dance and party, we invited Tak to take a group picture.
01:00:02.000
01:00:02.000
BT
So he was there. And he took a group picture of us. And I guess we danced. I don't remember.
JT
You obviously weren't swept off your feet.
BT
But we must've danced. He was dancing with everybody else, there were other boys. We all took our dates with us. But I can't remember, but he remembered.
JT
Oh really?
BT
He said the first dance we danced to was Artie Shaw's Music
JT
Was it the Begin the Beguine?
BT
Hm?
JT
Was it the Beguine? Begin the Beguine?
BT
No. Now you got me.
JT
Oh sorry. What are Artie Shaw songs?
BT
Dancing in the Dark that was it. Is that Artie Shaw? Yeah.
JT
Is that Artie Shaw?
MA
That's a Bruce Springsteen. Oh!
BT
Artie Shaw Dancing the Dark, that was it.
JT
He remembered.
BT
He remembered it, I never did. So I remember we went to Calgary one day. We stayed over at a hotel. We stayed in a hotel with this – no it was Lethbrideg. Went to Lethbridge on some business, Tak had to go... So we went to Lethbridge and we stayed in this hotel and downstairs was the dining room. And I don't know why but Tak timed it so we would go in for dinner for about eight o'clock or something. And I thought it was kind of late but he kept saying, “No we'll eat at eight.” So we go at eight and nine o'clock they have a little show in the corner, a little orchestra comes up to play. And I guess that's what he was expecting. So when the orchestra came and people started dancing, Tak goes up there and asks, “Would you play Dancing in the Dark?”
JT
What a romantic!
BT
Yeah. And we danced and I didn't think anything of it. Mike and Joy laugh But then he told me that was the first time I danced with you at the Christmas party in Slocan. Was Dancing in the Dark. So every time then every time we went anywhere – oh next time we went to Lethbridge stayed at the same hotel, we had dinner and it was the same guy in the orchestra. He remembered us, he start playing Dancing in the Dark for us. And that was our dance song.
KF
And so how old were you when you got married?
BT
Twenty-one?
KF
Twenty-one.
BT
Eighteen, nineteen, I think I was about twenty-one.
MA
Right after the war.
BT
And Tak was twenty- he was seven years older than I was. Twenty-nine, twenty-eight. But it was so funny that he remembered everything and I couldn't remember.
JT
So what do you remember about life in the camp?
BT
Life in the camp...
JT
The bath.
BT
Hm?
JT
The Japanese baths.
BT
Oh well that was fun. We enjoyed, you know, the Japanese bath.
MA
Ofuro.
BT
The bath is big, they hold about fifteen people. Margaret and I, and Margaret's my older sister, we would go after work. The bath opened at two o'clock everyday and closed about eight o'clock at night. So you go about two o'clock and it's mostly mothers like my mother, people. You go about three 'til five, six, they're mostly school kids. Girls. And you go from anytime after suppertime and they're usually people who were working in the office or something. So Margaret and I, as soon as we go home, we have our supper and then we go and take a bath. And that was one of the better things I enjoyed...in the Japanese bath. We just sit down and talk and chatted with your friends and all that. Oh and Tak had this old, old Jalopy, you saw the picture of it. It was a model Ford A Jalopy; it was just the canvas top and no side, its open. And he used to drive that up and down the road all the time. Because he was going to – well he even went to Lemon Creek in that old Jalopy. But going back and forth to Popoff and all that. And he always stopped and gave everybody a ride. Especially the older women, right? He would always give them a ride. And I remember mom and Mrs. Shimizu; she lived with us in the same house. They used to walk downtown to buy stuff. And they used to go and buy tofu. There was this Japanese man that made tofu in downtown. So they would always go down every now and then to buy tofu. So mom told me one day she went down to buy tofu and they put it in a cardboard container full of water. And it's always full of water. And they were walking home and Tak came, “Mr. Toyota, Toyota-san stopped and gave us a ride.” Mom didn't know Tak that well; it was Toyota-san then to him. And he stopped and gave us a ride so we got on. Every time you see Tak's car go by he's full of giggling old women. Joy and Mike laugh and she said by the time they got out of the car in front of their avenue most of the water was gone from shaking. And I remember he had an old battered up pail slung over the headlights. You know how the headlights used to stick out.
MA
Yeah, yeah.
BT
And every now and again he had to stop at one of the outdoor water tap to fill this pail with water and put it in the car because it would steam up. I remember going with him, “Oh I've got to stop the car!” he stops the car, jumps out, fills his pale of water, opens up and puts water in.
MA
How did he go about getting a car?
BT
I don't know. Kay knows more about it than I do. The tires were only about that thick. And Kay was telling how they had to fix the car up or something. But another thing, I lived in Fifth Avenue 21. They were all marked first, second, third. Fifth Avenue 21 was almost at the very end. There were twenty-five houses facing each other, twelve on that side and fifteen on this. And Tak would come and court me to see me. And he would stay for a couple hours and go back. But you could hear this chitty chitty bang bang, toot toot toot coming up the hill. Everybody laughs And right to the very end he would. And this happened about a couple of times, I think. Because the next day mom would go and take a bath and somebody would say, “I was sound asleep and about 10:30 woke up heard Mr. Toyota-san's car, woke us up,” or something. So from then on my mother kind of politely told Tak, do you mind parking out on the highway and walk. That's what he did. Park his car out on the highway and walk. Well it so happened that one of my closest friends, Amy.
JT
Amy, Auntie Amy.
BT
Remember. They lived right up the first house on the highway and she would look out and said, “Oh Tak was there last night,” “How do you know?” “His car was parked in front of our house.” I couldn't get away with that. Joy Laughs But you know he was quite well – you ask Kay about Tak's Jalopy, they all know. Kay and everybody. They had quite the time with his Jalopy. We called it Jalopy. But he went all over with that Jalopy.
JT
Crazy.
KF
What was day-to-day life like in Slocan? On a normal day what would you generally do?
BT
Oh like with us, I was working in the warehouse.
KF
And what did you do in the warehouse?
BT
Well we took stock and you know we were kind of busy.
KF
Yeah.
BT
They were busy. And finally after we had switched around and I switched from the warehouse to the general office. And then that's where you take all people coming asking for this and that, and all that. So we worked in the office until I got married. But it was –
JT
So you would get up and go to work?
BT
Mhm yea. And my sister was working in the Dentist Office, which was just across the road from the commission office. So we would walk down the railroad track every morning and then walk. And then I think it was the first five or six week or maybe about a month or so we all walked. Everybody walked to work from Bay Farm to Slocan. We all lived in Bay Farm. And there was just a few people living in town, but the office was right in town.
01:10:04.000
01:10:04.000
BT
So we all walked but finally they had a pickup truck that did deliveries. And they put a board across the pickup truck so we could all sit. So finally we were all able to ride on the – just the office workers. So we didn't have to walk anymore.
JT
How far was the walk?
BT
From Bay Farm to... oh it was quite far maybe about four five blocks?
JT
Oh okay.
BT
It was quite far. And then Popoff there were some people working, living in Popoff that was another couple of miles from Bay Farm.
MA
Yeah three miles I think. Can you tell us the story again about getting the job?
BT
Getting the what?
MA
Getting your job?
JT
How did you get your job?
BT
About the typewriter?
MA
Yeah.
JT
Did she talk about the money? The fact that grandma had all the money?
MA
A little bit, but –
JT
I think you kind of wandered off there. Talk about when your father made sure that grandma had a lot of money.
BT
Well he went and took all the money out of the bank you mean?
JT
And the insurance policies...
BT
Insurance money. And then he was going to sell his house to get the money, but by that time the Government had clamped in and they took – well like that man remember in that letter? Mr. Matsushita or something, I've got that bulletin there. He wrote and said, “they sold my house, but I couldn't get any of the money.”
JT
But then grandma did have money?
BT
From the bank. She had the money from the bank and the three insurance.
JT
So what did she do with it? And what happened when you went to the camp?
BT
She carried with her all that time and we didn't know. We didn't know anything. And even in Slocan, not Slocan, but Creston was it? I remember she came to visit me once – oh when..
JT
Ron?
BT
Ron was born. No was it in Slocan. Everywhere she went she had this purse with her, this bag. Carried it with her. And I remember saying once, “Why don't you leave that home or something.” “No, no, no.” And that's where all her money was.
JT
All those years.
BT
But we didn't anything about her having all that money.
JT
So when you went to Slocan, how did you get your job?
BT
The first day we went to go into the mess hall there was this man there. And mom recognized him from the school days; they went to school together in Japan. And they recognized each other and mom said, “What are you doing here?” And he says, “I'm looking after the mess office,” and he's got two girls who were working for him. But he was so busy he could use another girl. So my mother said, “Oh Betty just graduated, she can type, she can take short hand, why don't you hire her?” So he asked me, “Have you got a typewriter?” And I said, “No,” I had a standard in Vancouver and sold all that. So he said, “If you had a typewriter I'll hire you right now.” So after we ate dinner, mom said let's go down to the store and let's see what we can find. And in Slocan they just had that one general store that sells everything. And it so happened that they just had this one small portable typewriter. I guess you remember that. So mom said, “Okay I'll take it.” She didn't even ask how much it was. Took it and paid for it, we went back and mom says, “Here's Betty, here's a typewriter, did she get the job?” And he says, “Okay you start right now.” And that was it. But then afterwards, the two girls showed me these are the girls that wanted the job and here you come and you get a job right away. So the rumor went around that because of my mother's charm and her personality, she talked this man into giving me this job. But then a couple of days later another girl from Vancouver came in, like she had just got off the train carrying a typewriter asking for a job and she got a job right away. So it was the typewriter.
JT
It wasn't the charm, it was the typewriter that got you the job.
BT
No, I had nothing to do with it. That was it.
JT
So grandma having that money in the camp made your life a lot different from a lot of people.
BT
Well another thing was that Margaret was working. I was working and when I was working I was getting the same pay as the – there were about a dozen men working. Some of them were men and they were all married. They had family, we were all getting the same pay, so you know these men with that men, they've got to support their families. And that Mr. Matsushita –
JT
Seven kids.
BT
Yeah he had three, no four kids was it?
JT
I thought it was seven.
MA
It was seven, yeah.
BT
Oh was it?
JT
It was seven.
MA
And they all needed clothes.
BT
I could see he was a woodchopper it said. Well he would only get so much. So how can he feed his family of seven with just the money he was getting from the commission? So you can't go on welfare unless you got no income. So he had to live on his – that's how I took it when I read that.
MA
Yeah but he had a monthly stipend from there. So he couldn't – he would ask for more.
BT
Yeah.
MA
But he needed but he couldn't get it.
BT
No he couldn't get it -
MA
Even though he had money in the accounts.
BT
I could see that that so we weren't that – we were both working so we were quite comfortable.
JT
So you're bringing money in.
BT
Quite comfortable. And across the street from where I lived. There was the family, they were sharing a house. One woman had two kids about two and four and six years old or something. This side, this woman had three kids the same age and she had a baby about four months old. And their husbands were both in the internment camps because they were Japanese nationals. So here's this mother with two small - and they were on welfare. But I don't know how much they got from welfare, I wouldn't know. They couldn't buy anything extra. And when we first moved into our shack, for the first month and a half, we didn't have power because they couldn't bring the power in fast enough. And another thing was to get the material during the wartime. So for about a month and a half we didn't have any power so they gave us two candles every night. Two candles. Well this won't do. It was jus like when we were in the tent. They gave us two candles every night. And that just threw us off. So soon as we got in the house, mom went and bought a coal oil lamp. And dad helped a lot. But these two families they could afford. So I remember mom saying every night she took her two candles for one family. And that's how it was hard on–
JT
On some people.
BT
Another thing was there's a goke... intown goke, have you ever heard of that? Never heard it? Intown means Japanese were interned. Intern you know they call it intown in Japanese. Goke means widow.
MA
Okay.
BT
Okay so my mother was a intown goke.
MA
Oh because the husband was off working –
BT
No they were – it's not – the husbands are interned.
MA
Interned, oh okay. Yeah.
BT
These were the women who had their husbands who were all interned. And that's why we were interned window. So these two women across they were both intown goke. And that was another thing, like there was a lot of work for men there. One of the first things for the men was to go up in the mountain –
JT
Chop wood.
BT
Chop wood. Cut the wood. Bring the lumber you know there were lumber. Bring it in the truck and bring it in and they dumped it in front of the mess hall, which is empty now with all the tents gone. They would pile all these logs up in the front. And then there was another crew that would come with this machine and they would cut these logs so like and pile it all up to fit the cook's stove. And then there was a truck that would load the logs and take it to every house and dump it in front of every household. So here is this log, like wood, pile of wood. And then there was the woodchopper, like this man in Lemon Creek said he was a woodchopper.
01:20:02.000
01:20:02.000
BT
Well they worked in pairs. And these men would go and chop wood for all the intown goke family. Because there's no man in the family. If there was a man in the family they got to chop their own wood. So mom had these two woodchoppers come and chop our wood but that's all they did was just chop your pile of wood and just leave it. So it would go into your stove because they're logs. And I remember Jean, my younger sister, she stayed home. She used to complain that she spent all day piling wood so I guess this is what they had to was pile the wood by the side of the house.
JT
And then you had to make kindling.
BT
Yeah and then the kindling we have to chop your own kindling.
JT
My mom is a wicked kindling chopper to this day.
BT
I got used to chopping kindling. I used to chop kindling.
MA
How many years younger is your sister and how many years older is your older sister?
BT
They were older from my oldest sister and a year and a half for my younger.
MA
Year and a half.
JT
And how old was Johnny?
BT
Johnny was I think two years older than my –
JT
Margaret.
BT
My other sister.
MA
Oh.
JT
So six years older than you.
BT
Yeah I guess so. Though to us we had fun anyway.
JT
So- oh sorry.
KF
Oh no go ahead.
JT
So you'd go to work all day?
BT
Oh yeah we'd work everyday except Saturday was half a day. We worked from 8:30 'til 12:00pm. And then Saturday half a day we didn't have to work. And Sunday was all off.
JT
And in the evenings you would go for your bath?
BT
Every night we went for a bath and yes sit around. And we did our own thing. Oh by that time we had a radio. We could get a radio to listen to, but the reception was poor. And then another thing to make money see the women, there were two or three women that set up a dressmaking store, but then there were individual women that knew how to sew. And they had classes in their house. They would take about two or three women and teach dressmaking. Or there was another lady that taught Ikebana, flower arranging. Or some ladies taught cooking, Japanese cooking. Just to make side money.
JT
So everybody was doing their thing.
BT
Yeah, that's right.
JT
And then Saturday night was dances and movies.
BT
Saturday night was always a movie. They always had a movie. And then after the movie they'd have a dance. And every now and then they would have a big dance. Like the Valentines dance or the May dance or Sadie Hawkins Dance or something like that. Just an excuse to have dances. And Tak did all that, he looked after all that.
KF
Which dance was your favourite?
BT
Hm?
KF
What was your favourite dance?
BT
Well you know the big band, they used to – it was all records.
KF
I see.
BT
Like and they used all the Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, all those who – Woody Herman, he had all those. And they would all play and everything. My favourite dance - and the thing was whenever they had this special dances, the boys all dressed – we all dressed up. It was nice to see the boys dressed up with their ties and best outfit. And I remember the Sadie Hawkins dance we just wore shirts. You know plaid shirts? It was the –
JT
You dressed up like little Abners.
BT
Hm?
JT
Dressed up like Little Abners.
BT
Yeah, that was. And then the girls did most of the asking.
KF
Yeah that's what Sadie Hawkins is known for.
BT
You know Sadie Hawkins was a man chaser. So the girls do the asking.
JT
She has pictures of the Sadie Hawkins dance.
BT
Yeah, I have a group picture of the Sadie Hawkins. And even at the dances, they had all kinds of different dances like the spot dance or girls choice or something like that.
JT
Wow.
BT
It made it interesting. Yeah.
MA
Can I ask a question about the school in Slocan, you would have been finished, your sister Jean, was she still going to school?
BT
That was another thing, my sister Jean found out she had to repeat from when she was in Vancouver. So when she came to Slocan to continue they all had to get their transcripts from Vancouver School. And she found out that she didn't pass her grade. So she decided she wasn't going to go. But all the rest like there was a nun, Sisters, the Catholics nuns looked after all the high school.
MA
Okay.
BT
And then from grade one to grade three they built a school, and all the Japanese were teachers. They were all teachers. So there was a good school system.
JT
But you never went and Jean never went.
BT
No Jean never went.
JT
No.
BT
So I wouldn't know anything about school. And then there was a big hospital and then they had a big hospital staff. So they were all divided like Christmastime or anytime just the hospital staff would have their own Christmas party. The office staff would have their own Christmas party, and then the schoolteachers would have their own Christmas – it was a big affair.
MA
The hospital was in where? Slocan? In Bay Farm?
BT
It was right in Slocan.
MA
It was right in Slocan.
BT
But it looked after everybody.
MA
Everyone. Including New Denver or?
BT
No, no, not New Denver.
MA
They had their own sanitarium.
BT
New Denver had the sanitarium too. But no we were completely –
MA
Yeah, down the road, down quite awhile.
BT
Even Lemon Creek was on their own.
MA
Oh was it?
BT
Oh yeah, Lemon Creek. We were just on our own. So Tak was busy, that's why every time there was a dance or something, they always wanted him to take a group picture and this and that. And every time there was a wedding, and then a funeral. You know the Japanese Buddhist funeral? They're very elaborate. When Sandon closed that was the Buddhist. And they closed Sandon because –
MA
There wasn't very many there though.
BT
There were quite a few.
MA
Oh was there?
BT
So they all came to Slocan. So they put the Sandon – they built a big Buddhist Church in Slocan. And they had the alter and everything, great big church in Slocan. In Bay Farm. And then the funeral, we were Christians. My dad had nothing to do with Buddhists. So I don't know much about Buddhists, but I went to a Buddhist funeral and they take a picture with the coffin and everything. Yeah Tak has all those pictures. He took all those pictures, right? Joy's husband walks in
BT
So Tak took all those funeral pictures and –
MA
Where are all the negatives, all the pictures right now?
BT
It's funny how all these, I had a whole box full –
JT
Boxes of them, but –
BT
And negatives. But then every now and then we get visitors out from the east and they would look, “Oh I want this, I know this.” You want this, I gave them all away.
MA
Oh they're all given away.
BT
Most of them.
MA
Because if you were to donate them to Nikkei National Museum, they would archive them.
JT
A lot went -
BT
I sent quite a few to somebody in JCCL or something.
MA
Oh okay, could be.
BT
But they sent it back. Some of them came back.
MA
Oh they digitize them and then send it back.
JT
Oh!
BT
I think I've got some pictures. Yeah.
JT
Can you dig them out? How do you feel about?
BT
Oh I don't need them.
JT
Do you want send them.
MA
We would love to send them, yeah.
JT
Can you send them out to me and I'll get them to him.
BT
Yeah.
JT
Or I'll come out and pick them up.
BT
I think I still got a box, but I don't – like pictures of our Slocan dance and all that.
JT
Excellent.
BT
Everybody came and “Oh I want this! I want that!” so take it, take it.
JT
And I thought the National Archives?
BT
You know that picture- what's that book you have? Oh you don't, I send you that book about –
JT
The exodus of the Japanese? Joy gets up to get the book
BT
Yeah right on the cover that's all Tak's pictures. And it doesn't say Tak Toyota it says... the place that I donated to.
MA
Oh yeah because once they become a collection.
01:30:01.000
01:30:01.000
BT
Yeah my name – his name isn't on it. Property of whatever. But they're quite of few of Tak's pictures. Even if you go into New Denver. If you go into New Denver, what do you call it –
JT
The Nikkei Museum.
MA
Nikkei Memorial Centre.
JT
The first one.
BT
Memorial Centre. As you walk in there's a big picture facing you of this family. That's Tak's picture. And that's the family that was living across the road from me. The intown goke family.
MA
Intern goke.
JT
This is cool, maybe you'd like to look at this.
BT
That picture. Right on the cover.
JT
That's his?
BT
Yeah. That's his and that's the lady that lived across the road from me and the two kids.
JT
Oh.
BT
Her husband was interned.
MA
Oh yeah I know that book.
JT
You've got this one?
MA
Yeah.
JT
Um this one has some of his doesn't it? Flips though pages
BT
And there's a picture of people leaving on the train.
JT
This one's his.
BT
I don't know if it...
JT
This one says Vancouver Public Library.
BT
No, not that.
JT
That's not it.
KF
Sidney Archive.
BT
And there's a picture of two girls leaning out of the train?
KF
Mhm. I know the one.
BT
That's Tak's picture.
JT
Oh okay?
KF
It's a very famous photo.
JT
Really?
KF
Oh yeah, it's used quite often.
BT
You see that picture quite often and that one there.
JT
This one.
BT
No that was in Vancouver.
JT
This one's his.
BT
Yeah that's Tak's picture. That was in Slocan.
JT
Here you should look at these. Continues to flip through books
MA
There are seventeen photos of a Tak Toyota at the Nikkei National Museum.
JT
OH this is just a book.
MA
See these pictures here.
BT
That's Slocan isn't it? Yeah that one, that's Tak's picture.
JT
Oh that's this one.
MA
Yeah that's a very popular –
BT
Yeah that one too. And that's all pictures. He used to Tak. And that's Tak's picture. That's at the bus depot when they were all living there. That's Tak's pcture too.
MA
See so what happens is they're documented and they have a Nikkei National Museum and then they have this ascension number. So when it's printed, but if you go into their fonds, you'll see that it's credited to Tak Toyota.
JT
That's cool. This is neat.
MA
This is the Centennial. I remember when this is put out, but I hadn't had a copy of it. That's a great.
KF
I have a copy.
JT
Oh okay.
MA
You do, eh? Yeah.
KF
Yeah.
MA
I probably have one back in Burlington.
KF
So Betty can I ask, what happened dafter the war when you were allowed to move? Where did your family decide to move away?
BT
By that time my family – you mean my family?
KF
Mhm.
BT
They were all out east.
KF
And what part of?
BT
In Fort William, Ontario. And the reason was when my sister married her husband was living in Fort William looking after the sawmill. So by the time when my brother came out of the internment camp. He told him to come live with them. And while he was working he made enough money to get a little house for himself so he called my mother and my sister from Slocan. And that's after I got married.
KF
And then where did you and Tak go?
BT
We came to –
JT
Creston.
BT
Creston.
KF
To Creston, that's where you came after?
BT
That's how we got to Creston. Tak didn't want to go east. Tak sister wanted, you know, Tak said Fudge, do you remember Fudge?
MA
Yeah, Fudge yeah.
BT
Wanted Tak to go out east and look after the family like mom and dad. Tak said they had a war on letters with Fudge Mike and Joy laugh She wouldn't tell me but all he said, was “We had a war with letters.”
JT
With Letters laughs
BT
But Tak went – he wanted to stay in Creston so we stayed in Creston there. Everybody else by that time, Tak's family all moved out east.
JT
S they just go into the Jalopy and started driving? He got to Creston and went, “Beautiful I love it here.”
BT
He loved it there.
MA
It's probably that's as far as the Jalopy would go. Laughs
BT
No not that Jalopy.
JT
Oh did he have a nicer car by then?
BT
Oh by that time he had another car. I think it was a Buick. He had a real nice car. And we traveled and came to Creston. And went back again he really like it. So it so happened that we were taking a Nelson Daily news. Every night he would read the Nelson news. And here in the wanted ad was this radio store for sale in Creston. And he remembers that radio store right at the corner.
JT
That's how he got it?
BT
That little – That was a little wee radio store, Creston Electric. And Tak just loved it. And that's what he was into, radio repair.
JT
So he bought it.
BT
So he bought it.
KF
And what did you guys do in Creston later on?
BT
Hm?
KF
What did you do in Creston later on?
BT
I didn't do anything. Kyla Laughs
JT
Looked after the kids.
KF
Looked after –
BT
My family.
JT
But dad became a very successful retailer.
BT
Yeah he got well known in Creston.
JT
His little Creston Electric became Tak's Home Furniture.
BT
Yeah.
MA
Wow.
JT
It went from radio repair –
BT
Yeah we called it Creston Electric all the time and by that time he was into appliances and radios.
JT
And TVs.
BT
TV, yeah TVs. And that was it. And then people would say, “Where did you get it from?” and they all said, “Tak's we got it at Tak's.” They never said Creston Electric. So he changed the name to Tak's.
MA
And Ron told us a story about furniture moving through the valley, Okanagan.
JT
Creston Valley.
MA
Creston Valley and they would say, “Oh you got this from?”
JT
Tak!
MA
Tak and –
JT
And that was his store.
BT
That was it, it was just Tak's. All the store, the banner, the truck's would be called Tak's. even had a shirt with Tak's written on it.
JT
So then it went from the radio repair, to televisions to appliances, to furniture to started selling musical instruments and records and tapes. And then it grew Creston then he expanded to Cranbrook, expanded to Ferny, expanded to Golden, went to Castlegar, went to Grand Forks.
BT
But that's after Tak –
JT
Yeah, it was actually Ron.
MA
Oh okay.
JT
So when my dad passed there was Creston, Cranbrook, Ferny and Golden.
KF
And what was it called? Was it still Tak's?
JT
Tak's.
JT
Tak's Home Furnishes.
BT
It was Tak's and when he started selling furniture he called it Tak's Home Furnitures.
JT
Yeah.
BT
But everybody just said Tak's.
JT
And then he passed away in '73. Yeah and my brother who was 26, he was 26 at the time, he took over. He had been working in the store as a store manager in Cranbrook. And then my dad passed away very unexpectedly and my brother had to –
KF
Took over the business.
JT
He took over the whole business.
KF
So when you look back now with your experiences during the war and what you and your husband did, how do you feel about all your experiences?
BT
Well in a way it was better for us to get of Vancouver because even Tak said if he lived in Duncan, he would have never got to be the counselor. He was a counselor – he got into the town hall.
JT
Town politics.
BT
And look at Ron now, he's a mayor.
MA
Yeah.
BT
If we lived - you know...
JT
If you had never met.
BT
He would have been just another Japanese. But this way he – and I think it happened to lots of Japanese. They all went out east. They all got to be well-known lawyer and this and that. Designers. If they lived in Vancouver, they would have still been working in the sawmill or a logging camp.
JT
Fishermen.
KF
Do you ever miss your home in Vancouver?
BT
Hm?
KF
Do you ever miss your home in Vancouver?
BT
I miss the city life.
KF
Do you?
BT
They say you can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city of the girl.
KF
I totally get it.
BT
And I really – my sister lived in Burnaby after she married. So every now and then I would go and visit her and we would go down Granville Street and all that -
MA
Your younger sister Jean?
JT
No older sister Margaret.
BT
No Margaret, my older one.
01:40:00.000
01:40:00.000
BT
She lived in – after she married Harold, he passed away so she married this other fellow.
JT
Art.
BT
Art and he lived in Burnaby.
MA
Okay.
BT
I'm used to shopping in the big – you miss the big city. And another thing – well growing up in the entertainment world –
KF
Having those shows come because you worked in a theatre.
BT
Yeah well dad worked in a theatre so quite often you're reading the paper so and so's in Vancouver theatre and I wish I was there. Wish I could go and see. But that's about it. But small town is – you get to know people more. But now –
MA
Were there Japanese people living there?
JT
Oh, that was tough.
MA
Zero?
BT
Yeah there was just one family, but then they passed away.
JT
No when you first got to Creston – this is the reason – this is why I'm a white Japanese. Because when they got to Creston, there was – you know in BC there was still a feeling of Japanese are enemies. You were the only Japanese family in Creston. And they did everything to assimilate into the white society. So we never spoke Japanese at home. We had our token Japanese dolls. But we ate Western food, you know?
BT
Yeah, yeah.
JT
You never spoke Japanese to me. I never could speak to my Grandmother either. Because my grandmother never learned English. It's one of the things I really regret. Is that I didn't even get any stories. She knew how to say miruku, fwish –
BT
You know Japanese style. You know? Cheair, taberu.
KF
Yeah you can make anything Japanese sound.
JT
Tell the story of danburo. Laughs This is hilarious! Tell the story.
BT
You know the Japanese people, this is new to me too. When I was small, like basement mom used to say danburo. And that was basement.
MA
Danburo! Laughs
KF
That's so funny.
BT
And that's what I thought, until my sister told me, “That's not Japanese!” Everybody laughs
JT
But it was when you went to Japan.
BT
My cousin came from Japan. And these two kids were with us and they came to visit me and they wanted something. So my mother was with us. And mother said, they wanted to go in the basement, there was something in the basement and mother said to go and get it. In the basement, she said, “Danburo. Danburo ni aruta.” And they didn't know what it meant. So my mother said, “Here's a Japanese and she doesn't understand a Japanese word.” And my sister, oh my sister Margaret was with me. She started laughing, “Danburo isn't Japanese, it's down below!” Everybody laughs And that's it. But everybody called it danburo. And even then I thought it was danburo.
MA
There's a new book called out with a glossary of those words.
BT
I remember reading that somebody wrote it.
MA
And that is classic.
JT
Or taberu. Put it on the taberu. Laughs Miruku.
KF
That's the real deal.
BT
No we always called it miruku. Joy laughs We did. In front of mom. Miruku.
MA
So grandmother lived with you, your grandparents –
JT
My mum's mom because there were four children, my mum's mom kind of went to whatever child was having a baby and needed help at the time. So she lived with –
KF
It's very Japanese.
BT
Yeah after my dad died.
JT
And same thing with my dad's mom. Came and lived with us for awhile.
BT
Yeah.
JT
Yeah for a little white.
BT
Kay's mother.
MA
Okay.
BT
Yeah she came and lived with us for a little while.
MA
And Tak.
BT
Tak.
MA
Tak achieved so much but by my calculations he was quite young.
JT
54.
MA
55, 54.
JT
Yeah.
MA
Wow.
JT
Yeah he was 54. And he after he had – one of his philosophies or the way he lived his life, he said, “Every five years change or do something or grow, but do something different.” And that's what his thing was whether it was buying a new house or starting another branch of his business or whatever, having another baby. Whatever it was every five years. So when he was 50 he turned the reigns over to Ron to run the store and he went back to university. He went back to university of Calgary to get his grade twelve because in Duncan –
BT
He never finished school.
JT
He never finished school. So he went back and got his –
BT
High school.
JT
High school and then he was taking first year psychology and sociology courses. And his intention because he'd always been involved with young people and teenagers and holding the dances. When he was in Creston, my mum – they did all this for my older brother whose ten years older than me, then I came along and none of this was done. But for my older brother when he was graduating, they started hosting the grad teen dances, all night party.
BT
He started the all night party.
JT
What it was was a dry grad and they would have themes. So I remember one year was Hawaiian theme. So they'd walk into their hall where the dance was and there'd be waterfalls and palm trees and all the parents who were the chaperones are all dressed up in their grass skirts and luaus shirts and everything. And all the food was basic luau food, they had a roast pig and all the fancy fruits and everything. And then another year was I think, cowboys?
BT
Cowboys, western theme.
JT
Western theme.
BT
So made a swinging door to go into the legion, yeah and as you come in there's a roulette table. We ran it all night.
JT
And they did that for many years. My dad was part of the Creston Blossom Festival Committee and started the Battle of the Bands.
BT
Battle of the Bands.
JT
And the Queen ceremony, like you always elect your town queen.
BT
But this battle of the bands was very, very popular.
JT
Really popular.
BT
Each town that Creston had these ambassadors, Cranbrook had their thin red line, so everybody would come to cheer their...and this was all teenagers you know.
JT
Yeah and then they'd all come and it would be the Battle of the Bands.
BT
And this ran for about two days, wasn't it?
JT
Yeah it was over the whole weekend. And that went on for like years. Many years even after he passed away.
KF
It sounds like your father was quite community oriented?
JT
Oh totally. Well my brother takes after him. And so when he went back to university for sociology and psychology was he was trying to learn about teenagers and the way –
BT
Between the parents and the child.
JT
Yeah parent-child relationships. Yeah and then he was going to write a book. He was going to write a book about parent-teen relationships. Yeah he was awesome.
BT
Yeah and then our rec centre burnt down in Creston.
JT
Right. There was a skating rink.
BT
So there was nothing. So we had another referendum to build another rec centre. And then the referendum didn't go nobody wanted it. But Tak said, “We need a big rec centre. Let's just go direct to the people. And ask two hundred dollars each from every family. And if you can't afford it, it's okay. If you can afford even ten dollars okay”.
JT
So he divided the whole town into grids.
BT
And then with him, Japanese style, everybody that donated their name was going to go in the paper, that's Japanese style, right? Which the Hakujin people didn't like and there was lots of opposition, no way, no way. But he went ahead and did it. And they finally got enough money to build that rec centre, no mortgage no nothing. So after it was built and he had already passed away. They wanted to name it the Tak Toyota Rec Centre.
MA
Really?
BT
Yeah. There were three groups of people that came to talk to me and they wanted my permission, “Can we name it after Tak.” And I said, “No.” As long as I can remember, Tak had told me if there was anything good to say to me I want to hear it right in my face when I'm alive. Not after I'm dead. Don't name anything or do anything to me after I'm dead. He didn't want it. So that why I said no. And Ron agreed with me. So we didn't name it.
JT
But they did put a plaque in.
BT
The one year they made a plaque with his name on it and that was that.
KF
What made you think motivated Tak to do all those things?
BT
That was him. Even in Slocan, he started to the teen dance, and he started showing the movies.
01:50:04.000
01:50:04.000
KF
Did he ever say why he wanted to do those things?
BT
I think that was in him hey?
JT
One of dad's things was you – the purpose – everybody's purpose, this is always his philosophy about why we are is you look for need and then you fill it. And that you know... what he saw was that's why it was the referendum. “The kids need this, you don't want to pay but the kids need this.” Same thing with the dances in Slocan. And his biggest influence was his grandfather, not his father, but his grandfather who was really into – apparently his grandfather could take apart a car and put it back together in a week.
BT
He learned everything from his grandfather he said. Tak said he taught him how to fix radios and all that. And the sad part was that the first year that we moved to Slocan that was 1942, it was the worst weather, they even said it was the worst weather in Slocan and he died because of the cold. They lived in that old shack in Popoff and Tak said he died.
MA
Oh! This is Takejiro.
JT
Mhm, no Daigoro.
BT
No Daigoro's dad.
MA
Yeah. Takejiro. Because went back to Japan and they said Takejiro lived with your side, but he passed away –
JT
In the camps.
BT
In Slocan. Near Slocan and he couldn't stand the weather, that's all Tak said. The weather just got him.
JT
I think that crushed dad; I think that was really hard.
BT
But Tak often talked about his dad showed him how to fix a radio – I mean his grandfather. Talked more about his grandpa than his –
JT
And that was his grandfather's philosophy too. You look for need and you fill it. Whatever you can do to help others.
KF
Did the internment have an effect on your father or on Tak? I know you said he didn't really talked about it too much.
JT
Never talked about it.
KF
Yeah. Did he ever say anything to you?
MA
He did all that but he didn't talk about it.
JT
No I heard everything about what he did from her. That's what I mean; I've heard all the stories from her. But then I was only fifteen when he passed away. I don't know what I would have heard if he'd had, you know –
KF
When you were older too.
JT
Yeah, to be curious. I mean at probably at fifteen he's going, “Would you like to know?” No. God leave me alone!
KF
When you're a teenager, yeah laughs.
MA
Can I ask a family question? How long were you in Creston before you felt comfortable, accepted, I guess.
BT
I never liked Creston. I was used to the big city.
MA
Okay.
BT
To me it was a small town. And I never liked Creston, but Tak used to say, “Seven years, get over it in seven years.” I don't think I even did.
JT
She never did.
MA
But you said at the very beginning there was prejudice. Did that go away?
BT
Got to know a few friends and it wasn't bad.
MA
Was it tough for you in school?
JT
Oh sighs and I feel really – I don't even know because I've never even talked to my three older bothers what it must've been like for them.
BT
It was like I think I didn't know either, but this was after. I think they got discriminated a bit.
JT
I got –
BT
I know you did. I know she did.
JT
I got – when they talk about – oh yeah. When they talk about bullying today, it's like, “You call that bullying?” Like I remember coming home in grade three I remember telling my mom, “I never want to go to school again.” She'd make me go back.
BT
And I remember Tak telling when she grew up with Tak telling her “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Do you remember that?
JT
Oh yeah I said it –
BT
He was forever saying that.
MA
But it's tough when you're that young.
JT
But I can remember so well that I knew that poem before I even knew what it meant. So I'm saying these things, I remember this one, “Stare stare like a bear don't forget your underwear.” And just repeating that, repeating that, repeating that, repeating that a billion times in my head and just doing this with my fingers. Because everybody would stare at me. Everybody would stare at me. My mother dressed me like a Japanese doll. So it was staring not out of meanness or cruelty.
BT
No they were discriminating –
JT
It was just that, “Look at that little girl, look how cute she looks.” Because I had the little haircut and I had the little eyes and other kids would come up, “Why is her face so funny? Why are her eyes so funny?” Like all through right through to grade eight, nine, ten. I remember people making fun on me. Oh the boys picked on me, they drew pictures, they put notes on my locker, they would trip me in the hallways, oh they did things. Like you know, the girlfriends that I'm meeting this weekend who I graduated with, we went to kindergarten together and grew up together. They defended me. We would go to a school dance and a boy would come up and go, “You're never going to get asked to dance because you're so stupid looking.” And I would just break down in tears and I remember Lee Lane going up to one guy and just boom! Socked him in the face and dropped him. And I just...yeah...
MA
because your in BC. After the war.
JT
Yeah this was 1965, '69 all the way up. Teasing, making fun...
BT
But I remember Brian, he was the youngest of the three boys telling me after, “There was one boy that always every time I saw him, he would call me Chinky Chinky Chinaman.” And then he says, “Boy he was dumb. He didn't know I was Japanese.”
MA
Well in contrast I grew up in Ontario with – as maybe one of two families in my school. I must've been 'til 15 and I realized that I wasn't, I thought I was white all the time. I didn't have any prejudice.
JT
You're kidding.
MA
It was fine.
JT
What town did you grow up in?
MA
In Burlington.
JT
Holy crowly, seriously.
MA
I had a few bullies but that night we'd be playing hockey you know? Levels the playing field.
JT
Yeah, yeah.
MA
And you can nail the bully on the ice, he doesn't pick on you anymore. But it was, it was very little discrimination.
JT
So it must've been because it was BC. Small town. Although my husband describes Creston as redneck. Like he'll say it's a little farming community, there were First Nations because Kootenay band was there. So we had, I don't like calling them Indians, call them First Nations. There were no East Indians, there was one Chinese family who owned the Chinese restaurant.
BT
Where was this?
JT
In Creston growing up.
BT
Oh yeah.
JT
There were no East Indians, there were no blacks, there were no Jamaicans, no East Indians.
KF
So sounds like it was quite homogenous.
JT
It was very white, except for this one Chinese family who had a girl named Eva. And everybody would come up and say, “Hi Eva!” and I'd go, “Well I'm not Eva!” Laughs
BT
Well even when Tak came to Creston...
JT
It was brutal growing up.
BT
When Tak came to Creston and he wanted to start this electric shop he had to go to the council to get the license. Business license. There were about six people on the council, two people opposed him.
JT
Because?
BT
No way.
JT
Really?
BT
No way, nope nope.
JT
Because he was Japanese?
BT
Yeah. And all those years I lived – we lived in Creston these two people were really... one of them when I'm walking down the street and he sees me he used to cross the road.
JT
Seriously.
BT
Okay another thing is after Ron took over the business and he sold the business, came to live in Creston, he went into an insurance company. Remember?
JT
Mhm.
BT
And he went with another partner but after about two years his partner retired. So he sold some of his clientele to Ron. And Ron got this clientele, so one day he says to me, “Mom do you know anything about Mr. So and So?” And I said, “yeah, he's an old timer, he used to live here was in the council, blah blah blah,” and I said “I don't know why but he doesn't like me. He won't even talk to me.” And he's one of his new clients. Says, “He won't talk to me and every time I want to talk to him, he has a daughter in Cranbrook. He has to phone the daughter in Cranbrook. And then the daughter will phone him.” And he wanted to know why because he says, “I don't even know him.” And then I told him, “When your daddy came to Creston, - ”
JT
That was the guy.
BT
“Wanted a business license, he was on the council and he was one of the guys that said no.” but then I thought why carry it after war?
JT
Yeah.
BT
This is how small these darn – he was a and people are...
JT
Wow.
BT
And he won't talk to Ron all that time.
02:00:00.000
02:00:00.000
MA
And Ron said he spent like thirty years in Toronto area in between?
JT
Not thirty.
BT
Oh about a couple of years in Toronto.
MA
Oh well Cranbrook maybe?
JT
Yes.
MA
Oh sorry.
JT
Yes Cranbrook.
MA
A couple years in Toronto, but away in Creston for a number of years, but came back.
JT
Yes. He ran the business from Cranbrook actually.
BT
Cranbrook.
MA
Oh I see.
JT
And he had – yeah he ran the business out of Cranbrook. He moved there as soon as he got married. So he was –
BT
He was there, yeah he moved there. He was still training to be a manager when Tak was still around.
JT
So he was managing the Cranbrook store and we lived in Creston. My dad was managing, well actually, each store had its own manager. Ron was managing the Cranbrook store.
BT
Yeah because Tak was busy going back and forth to Calgary to going to get his education. So that was –
JT
Yeah and that was his routine. What my dad did when he started university was he rented an apartment. He would drive up on Friday night with a forty-foot long truck.
BT
Fill up his car with furniture.
JT
And he would go up. And he would go to classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday he would load up the truck he would go around Cranbrook and load up the truck with all the furniture that Ron had ordered and then he'd drive back down on Saturday unload it in Cranbrook. Come home Saturday night and then leave Sunday. He'd do it all over again.
BT
No Monday, yeah, Sunday.
JT
Or Sunday or Monday, yeah. That was his routine every week. He was driving for the store and going to university. And then Ron, our family had a cabin up at Kootenay Lake –
BT
Tak built it.
JT
Yeah. Our family owned it and when my dad passed away my brother sold that property and bought a private beach. Bought a cabin on a private beach. A much nicer cabin. And then sort of started, it was a summer cottage. And he just started renovating working on it and eventually winterized it and eventually just moved down there so that's where he lives there full time. Is kind of Boswell just off Kootenay Lake.
BT
That's where he's living there now.
JT
Yeah and the transition from Cranbrook to the lake was gradual because they'd only moved down there for the summer and then as it got more winterized he moved in. And then eventually he ended up selling the house to one of his kids, the house in Cranbrook and moved down to the lake permanently. So no he's never really been out of the Kootenays.
BT
The area. He's always in the area.
JT
He's always been in Cranbrook, Creston. But I think a lot of that is because when my dad passed away he was only – Ron was only 25 and –
BT
He took over everything.
JT
He had to look after – somebody had to look after my mom. My other two brothers were going to university, they were going to UVic.
MA
Okay.
JT
I was a rotten teenager laughs
BT
You were still in grade eleven.
JT
I was in grade ten.
BT
You were in grade eleven. I was having a time with her.
JT
Yeah and I was going through my hell man years.
KF
Yeah.
JT
So I think Ron was there to support her. I grew into something though mom, eventually.
BT
You turned out real good. She turned out real –
JT
We've got that recording!
KF
And then we put it in an archive and that's forever.
JT
We're done! We're done!
BT
Erase that. But you know there's that saying that says, “Son is a son 'til he gets him a wife, but a daughter's a daughter for the rest of your life.” And that's my life. Because I got three good sons, but they're different from a daughter.
JT
I got threatened more laughs
BT
And I've heard that from other mother's too. They would say oh they got a son but only time they phone when they want a favor or something. But a daughter will phone every now and then, “How are you mom, how are you doing?” It makes all the difference.
MA
I have one of each and they're very different and that's so true. I'm very close to my daughter. My son, I mean, he goes off and does his own thing, but he checks in once and a while.
JT
But only to check in.
MA
Yeah but that's about it.
JT
Yeah, yeah. And I think it comes in the development too. I mean we're getting off track here, but I keep in touch with my daughter more.
BT
And yet there are daughters that can't get along with their mothers. Laughs
JT
Yeah.
BT
So you can't tell.
KF
Is that why kind of bringing back to the whole reason we did was the story telling. So Joy said in her email that you would tell her all these stories about your life –
BT
Just coming here, just during our conversation I guess, it just pops out, right?
JT
And then like I said, there were times when it was just, “Mom I really want just sit down and just go.” And we'd just ask her questions and she'd talk and –
MA
The memory is amazing.
JT
That's what I love – I mean I can't even remember that kind of detail from last year.
KF
Yeah.
JT
Right?
KF
And was it important to you to share these stories with Joy and other family members or was it just part of your everyday life?
BT
It was just that's it. To other family members – like now when my older sister Margaret was alive we used to talk about “Remember we did this in Slocan...” We were close, we double-dated, right? That's why we were close. Jean my younger sister she lives in Golden now. She doesn't want to remember Slocan. She didn't have a – well –
JT
A very good time.
BT
Well I won't say that. She just doesn't remember. So she doesn't even tell her kids to go to New Denver and see the... You know like me I tell all my kids, even my grandkids, “You should go to New Denver and see what we went through.” And they go and read all these things.
JT
And that's what's really very cool is that her grandchildren have a real interest. And that's why this is perfect because they want to hear these things. Jessie, Brian is her grandson, Ron's daughter's son. He actually went to Japan.
BT
Yeah he went as an exchange student for a whole year just outside of Tokyo. And he enjoyed it and learned a few Japanese and all that.
JT
But they're interested in the history. They want to know about her stories.
BT
And then when they went to Vancouver he phoned me, “Grandma what was your house number?” So I told him and he went and the kids posed in front of the door. I thought that was very neat of him.
JT
Yeah. They very much honour you.
MA
We're really seeing that cycle as the assimilation in the second and third generation is going forward. But now it's quite vogue to be Japanese and Japanese things and people of the fourth generation are sort of mixed marriage so they're sort of losing half of their heritage so there's sort of this coming back in a circle. And I'm finding with my children and lot of their generation, there's this genuine interest in their heritage and their culture.
JT
Absolutely. Yeah that's very cool.
KF
Would you say when you look back, did the interment have an effect on you at all in anyway?
BT
No, not really. It was just part of an adventure I think. I guess I was just in that era of it. I just turned 18 and I had no regrets.
JT
One of the things she's – and this is like – always just amazes me, you always say, “We made it fun. We made sour fun.”
BT
Yeah I know we had to. That was the only time I swore was when I spilled those buckets of water and I just thought that was it. But that was the only time I thought, “Oh this fun.”
KF
You did the best that you could.
BT
I don't know what my mother thought.
JT
Yeah it must've been tough for her.
MA
Yeah it was tough.
BT
That was it. To us it was a new adventure and that was good. And everybody said, “Well at least you met your husband,” so okay.
JT
Yeah.
KF
Joy when you look back on your history and it sounds like the family is quite involved with this particular time period and sort of the events that have come after that. Being raised by your mother and father would you say that the interment had an effect on you and your family or maybe your siblings I should say?
JT
I don't know about my siblings because the brother closest to me is five years.
BT
Five years difference.
JT
Yeah and then seven and then ten. For me it's the comparison to everybody that hasn't gone through it. Of ... it gives me an attitude – my whole attitude is we're all equal. I hate war; I hate things that are divisive. We are all one. Period.
02:10:02.000
02:10:02.000
JT
And I think a lot of that comes from these things and when my white friends who had normal – growing up and normal parents and you know, “Oh the generational farm!” and “This was handed down and this has been in our family for centuries, look at this!” That's where it hurts me.
KF
Because of that disruption.
JT
Because there's no history. I might have a watch from my grandmother, I have no – well there's some pictures, not a lot. Like the Noritake China those kind of things that all my other friends have, things from their grandparents and their generations. That's where it hurts me. And it also makes me want to tell people. “ You're very fortunate, this is what my parents had to go through to get here.” And then the second thing is the racism and that whole thing. I still carry that a little bit.
BT
Oh you do.
MA
It's very hard for you, yeah.
JT
Yeah and I don't think I realized just how hard was until like in the last ten or fifteen years.
KF
You get to reflect.
JT
Well and you grow up as this damaged person and then you realize, “Oh this was nothing – it's not who you are.” It's not who you really are. Here is who is who you really are. Oh wow, wow. And that's the effect it has on me. Don't ever let this happen again. Be aware people. Love all. You are all one. And I just want to share that with everybody that I meet and my friends and let them know that.
BT
But I notice one thing with Ron and Gary. When they both decided to marry English. Race never came up with their family. You know Judy's family and Shirley's family. Oh he's Japanese sort of a thing. It never came up. You know they were just like another person. And that's what I was quite thankful about too.
JT
Right so the point is where does that, like, in hearing that where does that feeling of being inferior come from? If it's not from there it must be from here from something. From something in my past, right? And I think it is some of the stories, but the way I was treated when I was younger, right? I was treated different. I knew it and it was pointed out to me. That's the effect it's had on me. And growing up in a small town that was tough. That was really tough.
BT
Yeah that's it. That was another thing, everybody knew you.
JT
And then the whole little family dynamic part, which has nothing to do with being Japanese Canadian, but it has to do with the fact that my three brothers were brainiacs, successful, and everybody loved them. And then I came along and it's like...
BT
What?
JT
Oh yeah I was a...
KF
Because you're into music now, you had mentioned.
JT
I wasn't – yes, I'm the musician, the artist, the hippie laughs I was academic, but I never wanted to go that route whereas my brother did. I've got one who is the mayor, my second brother was a schoolteacher, principal of a school and an elder in his church and very high up in the community, my other brother lives in Australia, he's an architect. He's a very successful architect, he's co-owner of a very successful –
BT
But you're doing really good. Everybody loves you. She's got the personality.
JT
Well I went off I joined a rocknroll band. I went into fitness and I became fitness instructor, I went through a few marriages along the way. Laughs
BT
You're doing real good, yeah.
JT
I'm just been looking for myself, I'm not going to settle laughs
BT
But then I faced a lot of discrimination when I came to Creston.
JT
Yeah.
BT
I did. It was hard.
JT
And what was it, what did they do?
BT
Oh hated. That's why I hated going shopping. Well it was hard. It was hard. Some people are quite rude. When you, that's another thing, when you buy something, not just five ten dollars, when you spend over twenty dollars and you pay cash and they throw the change on the counter, don't even say thank you or anything and they turn their back and walk. I mean, how would you feel. I got that treatment quite a bit too. Or the one store they opened a new dress shop. And I thought, “Oh I'll go in and see what they've got.” So I walk in by myself and she looks at me, “We don't carry anything your size.” I could have gone in there looking for a scarf or a purse, but when they tell you and say – I'm very sensitive in one way.
JT
You noticed it.
BT
Never go in that store again. So there are several stores I won't go in. I don't care who it is. And Tak always used to say you should go to Supervalue and Co-op, there was Overwaitea and –
JT
SuperValue.
BT
And I always shopped at Overwaitea because they were really good and we knew the Overwaitea boss anyway. So always went there. And Tak always used to say, “You should divide your business. Go to Supervalue every now and then and buy something.” So I would say, “Okay I'll go to Supervalue today.” One of the women there was quite rude to me so I didn't feel like going. But I go to the store and I'm going to get my groceries at Supervalue. I go there I front of the door, my head says, “You got to go in there.” My feet say, “No way” and I turned back. That's how it was. It was some stores that I won't go. Like Mrs. Neko, she was my dear closest friend. She was the type that wanted to go to every store just to look around she said. And I'm not the type, if I want something I'll go to the store, buy what I want and come out. I'm not the type to browse. But she was the one that liked to go and “Oh let's go in and look around.” So I go in and look around and the storeowner would come and they would show her, “Oh we got this, we got that, new shoes.” Completely ignore me, right? And that's why I don't feel comfortable going to any store. That's why I hate shopping by myself.
JT
In Creston.
BT
Even in Creston.
JT
Well because it was a small town.
MA
Still? Until when?
BT
But now if they know me now I'll go. You know they're kind to me now.
JT
How long did that last? Or how long did that...
MA
Seventies, eighties...
BT
What do you mean?
JT
Well the feeling that –
BT
I still get it.
JT
Do you still?
MA
Oh you still. Wow.
KF
I was gonna say, that stuff never ends.
BT
Like if it's a new store I hesitate going in there.
JT
Okay.
KF
Yeah, that's stuff never ends.
BT
If I don't know the person. And then most people know Ron now.
JT
Yes.
BT
“Oh your Ron's mother?” But that was it, but otherwise.
JT
So it obviously tainted her...
KF
Yeah and I can also understand you were saying about liking bigger cities because there's more different people in big cities.
BT
That's why in the bigger city they don't know you!
JT
That's right.
BT
Yeah my mother used to say, “Oh let's go in there and tease them a bit.” And to me if you go to a small store you have to buy something. But no... that's why I like – that's why I don't mind walking into big store and just look around and come out. And in the small town they know you, they want o know what you want and this and that. So I rarely go shopping, just to get my groceries and come home and go to the bank and come home. That was it. And then most of my friends are all – you know have social life or they're all gone. Nobody's – even the men, they're all gone.
JT
Plus in being in a small town there was no Japanese community. Like she said there was one friend, but she moved there, Mrs. Yamamoto moved there quite late. So you had a brief friendship and then she passed away.
BT
It was nice when she was living in Creston. They were really Japanese so she would phone up quite often and says, “Oh I've got some salmon, come over and eat some salted salmon and rice,” And I would go and that was it. You miss that.
JT
And then also you hang on to Japanese tradition.
BT
In a way I still do.
JT
Very much, well the polite ones. Like when you go to someone's house you bring a gift. Thank you. Like this is where I fail. And but also that's how you are.
BT
Yeah.
JT
But also it reflects back on because you had nothing but white friends they would come to your house when you'd invite and not bring anything. And it would –
BT
It doesn't bother me.
02:20:00.000
02:20:00.000
JT
Well it would make you go scoffs
BT
No I got used to that.
JT
You had to get used to it though.
BT
Yeah and then this first time this Yamamoto, she's the Japanese lady that used to live here, live in Creston, they moved to Calgary. And she came over quite often just to stay over and visit the friends and she would come and stay with me. The first time she came over she comes walking in, very outspoken women. She says, “Hi Betty I came but I didn't bring any omiyage, you know, you're used to it.” You're used to it and I was because the people in Creston never did that.
JT
Yeah so that was an adjustment.
BT
Yeah you get used to it.
JT
Having to get used to the white community.
BT
That's something that doesn't bother me at all; it kind of bothers me if they don't. But at first it was hard getting used to all that. And the small city, I'm in a small town and I'm used to living in a big city. We went to the theatre every Saturday, they're open from eleven o'clock either 8'oclock, nine o'clock. Here you go to the theatre and its open from 8, one show. One show a night?!
JT
And it's some kids movie.
BT
And I'm like what? I'm not used to all that.
KF
The amenities are different.
BT
Yeah that's something I have to get used to. That's why I hated, that's why I didn't care for Creston at all. But Tak loved it. He loved the small town. He didn't like big city.
JT
My dad had a personality that –
BT
Didn't bother him.
JT
Didn't bother him. Everything just rolled right off his back. He was just so -
MA
That's a Toyota. That is totally.
JT
Is that right?
MA
Oh yeah.
BT
Who was this?
MA
Mas and oh yeah.
JT
It's a Toyota trait, it's very Toyota.
BT
Oh that was it eh?
MA
Yeah, yeah.
JT
Really? Just nothing bothered him? Laughs Yeah.
BT
And he was the president of the Kiwanis Club. International president of the- Governor General of the International Kiwanis Club. The whole north pacific and he was in the town council. And he always used to say, “If you go in and do your duty, if anything says anything bad about you, as long as you're doing your duty.” It didn't bother him at all. And he says he didn't go in to be complimented. He went in to do his job.
MA
To get the job done.
BT
That was it.
KF
What a strong sense of purpose.
JT
Very.
BT
And he didn't want anybody praising him after he was dead. Said, “If there's anything good to say, say it right direct to my face.” And I found that out because when he started this thing about collecting two hundred dollars from every family. There were several people that opposed it. They weren't for – especially this one fellow. I still remember it. He was dead set against it. And I remember one day the phone rang. Remember we had a phone upstairs and one downstairs. I happened to be upstairs and picked up the phone, well Tak was downstairs he had already picked up the phone and he was saying hello. The first thing I hear is, “You blah blah blah” swearing words.
JT
You're kidding?
BT
Oh no. And he just swore and he went on and on and on and I'm standing there. And then finally he stopped, dad said, “Are you finished?” and he says, “Well for now.” So dad just slams the phone down. And that was that. So anyway later on after Tak died, they built this rec centre just the shell and they had a dedication ceremony and they mentioned it was Tak Toyota's idea that this thing was able –
JT
Be built.
BT
Be built with no money owing. And this guy comes up and he was on the board or something. He says, “Oh Tak was such a wonderful man.”
JT
Are you serious?
BT
I'm not kidding. I just felt like spitting in his face. This is what Tak meant. I thought, “Why couldn't he have talked like that when he was still alive?” But here he said, “Oh he had a bright future, he could see the future and he had bright ideas and blah blah blah.” And I still remember that. And here he was swearing at him over the phone. So this is what Tak meant, if there's anything good to say, say it in my face not after I'm dead.
JT
Yeah, he was pretty amazing.
BT
So when they asked me if they could name it after Tak. No first they said, “We want to name it the Toyota something,”
JT
The Toyota Centre or something.
BT
Toyota Centre or something. And right away Ron said, no way you'll get sued by the Toyota Company.
MA
No the Toyota Company would love it laughs.
BT
Then they said, Tak Toyota Community Centre and I said, “No way.” And that was that. So now it's called the Creston and District Community Centre. So it was interesting.
JT
Yeah. He died way too young.
MA
Yeah.
JT
Died way too young.
BT
Hm?
JT
He died way too young.
BT
Oh he did. He brought the TV, cable into Creston. Until then we didn't have TV at all.
JT
Yeah I remember this I was probably eight or ten years old and we went down to Spokane. We went and visited the CBS and ABC studios. He went in there and talked to all the executives about how do I –
MA
Build your own market.
JT
Yeah he went in and then he got the radio tower erected on Mt. Thompson and they brought cable video in. They started a cable company and then all of the sudden the TVs were flying out of the store laughs
MA
That's amazing.
JT
Yeah you create the need.
BT
And he got to learn to fix TVs and in those days it's not computerized anymore.
MA
No, no, no.
BT
All of these hundred bulbs and everything. And if one bulb went out the whole TV would... So usually it was wrestling night. At those times there weren't many programs. And men was wrestling this one night this guys, “Tak can you come and fix my TV I'm watching wrestling.” I remember your dad, Tak saying, “Forget about, go to bed and wrestle with your wife.” Everybody laughs but anyway months after, months after this guy comes walking in –
JT
They had a baby?
BT
With a Mike and Joy laugh He wanted to know where Tak was. He was in the back. So I called him and he comes out and he says, “Do you remember the time Tak that I phoned to come and fix my TV and you told me to wrestle with my wife? Well here it is.” Mike and Joy laugh
JT
That's hilarious.
BT
I remember that.
JT
Oh my goodness.
BT
But they used to phone him all the time, “Can you come and fix my TV set.”
JT
Oh I know they phone him and he'd have to run off to Riondel and Windall and drive all over the place.
BT
Oh yeah. All the time. And he enjoyed it.
JT
Yeah.
BT
He hated fishing. He loved to eat fish, but he hated fishing. And we had a cabin up the lake and he would go out on the boat just to catch fish and an hour later he would come back and I said, “Did you catch anything?” No but he wished he was fixing TVs. “Waste of my time sitting out here. I could've fixed two TVs.” He would say. He enjoyed fixing TVs.
JT
Really? God the things I never knew.
BT
He enjoyed fixing radios and that's what he wanted.
JT
Tinkering.
BT
So I often think right now when you see all these things. I often wish Tak was alive. He would have just enjoyed. That was right up his alley.
JT
Well Ron, you saw that picture? Did you see the picture that was going around at the barbecue? It was a black and white photo that Carole had brought. And it was of the Duncan barbeque. They had these community barbeques or community –
MA
Ah I saw one picture and Auntie May was in it? Is that the one that says, “Oh can you pick out Auntie May.” And I said – Oh no was it all Japanese people?
JT
Yeah.
MA
Because this was a school picture maybe. Because it had everybody.
JT
Okay.
MA
And it says, pick out Auntie May, oh right there, she goes, “Oh yeah that's right.”
JT
My dad was in it and he's holding a box camera. He's probably fifteen years old so it was taken in, we figured it would be 1931 when the picture was taken.
02:30:02.000
02:30:02.000
JT
And he's sitting there with his box camera.
BT
Oh yeah.
MA
Oh yeah May would have been there that was a different picture, I didn't see that picture. She would have just been a baby.
KF
So we're at two and half hours.
JT
Okay.
KF
I don't know if you guys want to keep going or not.
JT
No.
BT
No you still got to drive.
JT
You've got to drive back.
BT
You've still got an hours drive.
KF
Yeah, no that's okay. I just wanted to make sure everyone was okay. But just to wrap up, I have a question for you and a question for you, which I think you've kind of answered a little bit. This interview will be placed in an archive, with the Nikkei National Museum for people to listen to later on. And it'll be – it's a digitized archive so people can access it several years down the road. Is there anything you'd like to pass on to future listeners about your experiences or life experiences?
BT
No I think I said everything.
KF
Yeah.
BT
Everything I – no, nothing.
KF
And what about you Joy?
JT
I'm just really glad that I think as many stories as possible get out there and as many experiences and as many perceptions of what it was all about is really important. Because everybody had a different idea. You know? And like I've said I've heard all my mom's, but I never knew anything about my dad's side until in just in the last two years. And even so much came out just last month. And I think it's so important. It's unfortunate that young people are born looking forward to what they have in the future, which is a good thing, but I wish I would have cared more about what my past family was like. Was all about when I was younger and when my father was alive and I could have asked him more. So if you're young and you're listening to this, go talk to your grandmother.
KF
Ask questions.
JT
Find out what your history is because it's important.
BT
If she can remember laughs.
KF
Absolutely.
JT
And memories go as the people go so hang on to them.
BT
Yeah.
JT
Thank you for doing this.
KF
Oh thank you.
BT
Yeah it was very interesting evening, thank you for your patience.
KF
Yeah glad we could capture it. All right.
02:32:28.000

Metadata

Title

Betty Toyota and Joy Trapnell, interviewed by Kyla Fitzgerald and Mike Abe, 12 October 2016

Abstract

In this interview, Kyla and Mike Abe sit down with Betty Toyota, a Nisei, and her daughter, Joy Trapnell, a Sansei. For this interview, Betty shares her memories of growing up in Vancouver as a teenager before the war, having her father and brother being sent to internment camps, her family’s preparation before leaving, getting her high school diploma, being uprooted to Slocan and growing up during the internment like living in a tent and shack, eating in the mess hall, getting water, and getting work. Furthermore, Betty discusses her family history, how she met her husband Tak Toyota, reuniting with her brother, social life after the war, and moving to Creston with her husband. Joy and Betty also discuss Tak’s successful business ventures including Tak’s Home Furniture, community contributions, and legacy. Joy also shares her own childhood memories, her family, and about growing up in Creston and being Japanese Canadian. Finally, Betty and Joy reflect on the obstacles of fitting into a small town, the effects of the internment, and the importance of sharing family histories.

Credits

Interviewer: Kyla Fitzgerald
Interviewer: Mike Abe
Interviewee: Betty Toyota
Interviewee: Joy Trapnell
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Joy Trapnell’s residence, Duncan, BC
Keywords: Vancouver ; Japanese National; Petawawa ; CPR Station; Immigration Building; Angler ; Ontario ; Alexander Street ; Japanese Language School; Slocan ; Pearl Harbor ; New Denver ; Cordova Street ; Beacon Theatre; Vancouver Island ; Japan ; Wakayama ; Strathcona School; education; graduation; diploma; Stanley Park; fishing; Powell Street ; Hastings Park ; vehicle; cars; Jalopy; deportation; naturalized Japanese Canadian; Creston; Thunder Bay; Fort William; Lethbridge ; Popoff ; marriage; Bay Farm ; Lemon Creek ; dance; radio; TV; Sandon ; Buddhist Church; archive; photographs; photographer; Nikkei Memorial Centre; Nikkei National Museum ; Tak’s Home Furniture; Cranbrook; Castlegar; community; University of Calgary; family; racism; prejudice; discrimination; culture; Pre-World War One (1900), Interwar Years World Two, Post-war (1948 onwards), Redress Settlement (1980’s), Present

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.