“But [Father] always mentioned, ‘This is America. They won’t treat you badly,’ all the way through the time that the FBI came and took him, arrested him separately . . . Our date of evacuation was—and ‘evacuation’ is the wrong word—I wasn’t hurt . . . and we’re being sent to somewhere ‘safer.’ Anyway, that’s what, I guess, kept us going, my dad’s last words of, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, this is America.’ ” —Grace F. Oshita[1]

Student Papers from Tule Lake
Although not at Topaz, these essays are a collection of students’ perspectives of evacuation and life at Tule Lake, a relocation center in Northern California.
[click the image to enlarge; click the image again to browse all pages]
(Courtesy of University of Utah Special Collections & Archives)

In a paper for her English class at the Tule Lake Relocation Center, a girl named Mineko wrote:

May 21, 1942 is a day which will live in my memory forever, for this was my last day home. My last day in my hometown, Auburn, Washington . . . On this day my head was filled with many problems. Problems, I’ve never experienced before. Problems like would I ever come back again to the town I knew so well; would I ever see my friends that I had grown up with again? This with the last minute shopping and every other thing on my mind made this a day which was everything but a happy day.[2]

After they left their homes, Japanese Americans from all over the West Coast were transported to assembly centers which would house them until the relocation centers were built.

[1] Grace F. Oshita, interview by Megan Asaka, “Grace F. Oshita Interview,” June 4, 2008, Densho Digital Archive, Topaz Museum Collection, accessed January 28, 2020, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-densho-1013/ddr-densho-1013-4-transcript-3fadde549d.htm.
[2] Mineko, “My Last Day Home,” in the Japanese American relocation collection, University of Utah Special Collections & Archives, MS 144, Box 4, Fd. 4, pg. 2.