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The Idaho Homefront

The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Idaho Homefront: Camps and Combat

The story of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Idaho Homefront: World War II

How did WWll affect life in America?

Camps and Combat Interviews and Speeches


Bethine Church grew up in Idaho Falls and moved to Boise when she was in high school. Her father, Chase Clark, moved the family to the Treasure Valley when he was elected Governor. At Boise High she met future US Senator Frank Church whom she would later marry.

Jim: Tell what that was like growing up there, because that's really where you grew up, you didn't grow up in Boise?

Bethine: Well, I grew up in Mackey in the mountains of the Sun River Mountains and in Idaho Falls. For Idaho Falls in those days, I was 17, it was the middle of my senior year in high school, and suddenly my father was elected governor. Idaho Falls was a potato place, a quiet little farm community. It didn't have the INEL, it didn't have any of the big push from anywhere outside of the state, and so coming to Boise was just like uh well maybe like years later going from Boise to Washington, D.C., when Frank was elected. It seemed to me I was always uprooted.

Jim: That is, much like the potatoes?

Bethine: Yeah.

Jim: Actually getting dug up and thrown somewhere else.

Bethine: I was always dug up and thrown out.

Jim: How would you describe to people what Idaho Falls was like back in those days before you came here?

Bethine: It was really a wonderful place to live. It, we marched over by the . . . I was in the marching band for the Idaho Falls High School . . . and we marched over by the river and the wind blew off of it and it was either icy cold or full of dust and I didn't play a clarinet very well anyway, but we kept winning as a marching band and my school was wonderful and I was in, I think I was the federal court judge in it. So that's how I first met Frank. I came over here with the people who were elected in school, and my best friend was the student body president and she still to this day I talk to her in Idaho Falls and she's still one of my best friends. So it was a very personal life I was leading, and suddenly, boom.

Jim: Everything changed?

Bethine: Uh huh.

Jim: You grew up sort of on the, on the edge of the depression. I wasn't around back then, but I read history and you read the books and it talks about how hard it was, how horrible it was, how awful it was for everyone; I've gotten a completely different view when I talk to people.

Bethine: Well, in Idaho, in a way you did get a different view. It wasn't like the dust bowl where people just had to put everything on the wagon and haul out. It wasn't like the early pioneer days when it was such a struggle. But I have to tell you at a movie one night they used to have drawings and we were trying to figure out what we were going to have for Thanksgiving dinner and I drew a turkey so I was the famous one. I think it's one of the few things I ever, ever won, but it was really nice. But my dad, my dad had this terrifically optimistic view — when the banks crashed and we lived in uh Mackey he put all of his money that he had into helping people who had no, no security because you didn't have any federal insurance. So he put all the money that he had into that. The only thing he didn't sell was the ranch in Stanley Basin. Then we moved to Idaho Falls and he started his law practice all over again. But my mother was one of these people that we always used to laugh — she used to make what we called Ice Box Stews, everything that was left over went into a casserole and, and but it was wonderful.

Jim: Well and, and it has been interesting. When I've asked people about that time period usually the first thing, and it happened with you and I wasn't, I wasn't going to say it, I was waiting to see if it happened, I mention those years and there's a smile that crosses your face.

Bethine: Yeah it was, it was very, it was wonderful. My father was always giving my mother presents he couldn't afford and my mother — I give her the best credit in the world — she never said when she was worried about when the, where the next meal was coming from. He'd give her, he gave her an extravagant watch for Christmas one time and I remember her saying, Oh this is really beautiful Chase. She never said we can't afford it, we should take it back; she always said thank you.

Jim: Was, was the depression, depressing?

Bethine: I think it must've been to lots of people. There were people on the fringe in Idaho Falls that my mother would help out and that just never got on their feet. You know, I guess it just depends. Pop was a lawyer and a very good one and managed to come back after the crash, but I think for lots of people it's like now, there are people who have just fallen off the, the record, maybe they say the economy is doing well, but think of all those people down at the bottom of the economy who have fallen out of terribly good jobs, had too expensive of house, had too much to pay for and are just out of it.

Jim: What was your childhood like, what did you do for fun?

Bethine: Well, we got together at the church and after church went out skiing on terrible equipment. I remember getting a black eye just before one of our, I think it was my junior high dance, and my mother made me a patch to go over it to match my dress I was going to wear, so we went out anyway. But just all got together — we'd have popcorn, we'd talk and I had a, a unique upbringing, upbringing. My dad — when you think of how long ago that was and I'm 83 now, so you know it was a long time ago — my pop would talk politics, he would talk religion, he would talk about everything that was happening in the community, what needed to be done for people, what needed to be done for the community. We didn't have the kind of dinner table conversation that left all the, the problems out; we talked 'em over so I was always part of it. From the time I was in grade school I remember being involved. The only thing we never talked about was sex.

Jim: Probably just as well. When you moved to Boise from Idaho Falls, you were kind of a celebrity; I mean people knew who you were?

Bethine: Well you know it was really funny. Once after I, I'd been going with a basketball player and, and things sort of came apart and of course I was going with Frank and all of his friends too because they'd come to the house on Sunday night and we'd talk politics. But when I sort of broke up with this one guy I sat on the steps at our house and told my father, "He ruined my life." I was in tears and Pop for once had the smarts of laughing at me and said, "Bethine no one worked harder to have me become governor than you and you've had more celebrity than you'll ever have again." And he said — of course it didn't happen that way, but he said it — and he said, "So you just roll with the punches and tomorrow will look a lot better." And that was his philosophy. He loved people and I think the reason I've always loved campaigning is my father taught me that everybody, whether they were in the kitchen, whether they were helping out, whether they were attending something, they were all equally important, that you should go talk to all of them and be part of whatever they, they had as problems or cared about.

Jim: And, and really be in touch with the people I mean.

Bethine: That's right.

Jim: You know, representing the people in Washington, not vice versa.

Bethine: That's exactly it. I never left home in that way, my mind never left home. When I decided in '89 to come home I'd been 33 years in Washington and I had waited about five years after Frank died because I just didn't feel comfortable not coming home without him, coming home without him. But the main thing was all my friends there said you've been in the Potomac for so long, everybody gets Potomac Fever you can't go home again. I said you just watch my dust. And I went home and it's been the best decision I ever made. I've been gloriously happy here.

Jim: There must've been something about Boise that you came back to Boise and not Idaho Falls?

Bethine: Well, I had left Idaho Falls when I was 17, I was really connected here, we had a house on Idaho Street that after Pop was defeated as governor he became a federal judge and we stayed with that house, when pop died Frank and I helped my mom keep the house and be there, she was 96 when she died so I used to fly back and forth to be at Idaho Street house and to be in Boise and I had always just wonderful friends. Frank's friends that used to come over and raid my kitchen on Saturday night, we'd talk politics and everything and you know when, when Pearl Harbor happened uh I remember Pearl Burke and Frank Church were lifelong friends from grade school, came rushing over to my house to tell me how it was going to change their lives, how they'd be in this war and how it would change everybody and you know when you start thinking about it from a personal point of view you know what a change it made in everybody's life. For example, even when we came over here in '41 pop as governor had started to build the basement of the museum over at Julia Davis Park, the History Museum and he had to stop because the money ran out, everything was going into the war effort. All of us, the same kids and several cousins of mine in town and everybody went out and thinned beets because they didn't have enough workers, of course I'm not sure how much damage we did to the beet crop, but we were there and, and Life Magazine uh covered us, we have wonderful pictures of it, but we were aced by some very much more important thing in the world. So we were never printed.

Jim: You talk about you moving here from, from Idaho Falls. What, what did you think when you, when you got to Boise and this was, this was like, the difference between going from here to D.C.

Bethine: Well, you know I was covered by the newspapers. My two best friends from Idaho Falls came over for the inaugural ball and we were all dressed up like princesses. I've got the picture hanging in my house to this day of the three of us — there was so much magic in it, it was like uh changing from Cinderella and going to the ball.

Jim: What was Boise like, what do you remember about it back then?

Bethine: Oh I remember so many things. I came over here when I was in grade school, when pop was in the legislature, and then there were places like the Cherry Blossom and the Mechanafe and everything, but there was still these old buildings downtown and there was still, there was still a feeling of real, real close community. The people I knew in high school were families that had been here, most of them, many years, so there was always a good community feeling. I remember loving it. I just had a great time and, and our house was right across from St. Margaret's and it, it was just sort of the center of everything. And because my pop and my mom didn't have any time I was one of the few people in, in school with a car because they didn't have time to get me anywhere. So I used to take all my friends up to Lucky Peak picnicking and you know it was just wonderful.

Jim: Was it the kind of place where when you walked around downtown there were a lot of strangers or did you know everybody, or what was it like?

Bethine: Well you know you really knew almost, there were people of course you didn't know, but you kept running into people you'd, people who you knew in stores like Falk's, like The Mode, C.C. Anderson's and they were all sort of part of an established part of the city. So people that worked for them — Mary Lou Burn's father was named Diamond and he worked at Falk's so there were always these connections.

Jim: You know I've talked to some of the folks that you went to school with and I wanted to go over a couple of things that they said about you, and it's all good stuff don't worry.

Bethine: My friends are generous.

Jim: Well they're generous when it comes to you, I definitely got that. One of the things that they said was that when you came to Boise and Frank was there that regardless of what else was going on, he set his sights on you and never took 'em off.

Bethine: Well you know it was funny, everybody said that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but we were really more like just really best friends. Even after — I was a year older, I had laughed years later and said I helped raise him, but he, he was not affected by my politics because even though his family were Republicans he had changed his own mind in high school and I used to go to the ROTC dances with him even after I was out at BSU I was going with him — even after that all of his friends were still coming on Sunday evening and we would raid the ice box and talk non-stop about the world and the war, all the things that were going to happen.

Jim: Did you feel that as teenagers? Did you feel a connection back then, did it grow, was it just always there? What do you think?

Bethine: It was really always there, it came apart various times. He wrote me, I have all of his letters, they're really wonderful. I keep thinking I should publish them because he was so articulate about being a young soldier at 19 and the China and Burma Theater and he wrote me all through that. We had a small altercation by mail. I remember one year I was out with friends who had been at Ann Arbor and were staying in New York for a summer and we had an altercation by mail and that's the only time we sort of came apart. So when he came home he thought that I was involved with someone else, which I had been, and he, he sort of gave up. Stan Bird says you can't, if that's who you want you've gotta call her and tell her and then we were engaged practically that night.

Jim: You talked about Pearl Harbor and how that changed things. Take me back again to what that was like when you heard that it had been bombed, what that meant to you?

Bethine: Well, you have to understand we were all terrific supporters of Roosevelt. He was my dad's hero and the things he did to put the country back on its feet for my father was just the most important thing. And it isn't like today with the things that we're involved in abroad. We had a feeling that FDR told us not to be afraid, but to be strong and it made us feel good. They didn't say fear everything, they said the only thing to fear was fear itself. So when we heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed we knew that the boys were going to . . . Frank enlisted right away, even though he was going to Stanford. He thought he might have a year, but they pulled him in right away. They were all involved in it, every one of the young men that I talk to. We had one friend that was 4F and he went ahead to do other things to help with the war. But everybody was just, they knew that we wouldn't have life like it had been the, the kind of college careers, the kind of steadiness, the kind of, it just was going to go right then.

Jim: You talked about FDR saying the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but were there times when you were scared?

Bethine: Well, I was frightened for my friends. One of our young friends that we used to Bobby Wardwell who was our only friend that was killed during that time and it was right after the war and he used to fly a fighter plane that he names Clarkie's Kitchen, after the evenings we'd have and they didn't feel good and fortunately he didn't die in that plane. They had rented a plane to go to Northern Japan, he and a friend did and so it, you know . . . I wasn't afraid for me although I was often lonely and if I hadn't read all of Shakespeare that year that I came home from Ann Arbor from graduating from the University of Michigan at night I would, I had all these little collections of Shakespeare that the people who had sold the house to the folks that left and I read through the whole bunch of them. You know there's nothing to feel a spot of loneliness like a really good book.

Jim: You talked about everybody being involved and I get the sense that it truly felt like the whole country was at war?

Bethine: Oh absolutely and they were. Dad Church for example ran a thing where you distributed tires and stuff and things, people really gave up something, lives really, really changed. Well sure our guards had been sacrificing our families of soldiers over there are sacrificing, but every household is not sacrificing like they did then. You ate, my mother for example used to get a little mad at my father because he had never taken sugar in his coffee, but he did then. Of course sugar was rationed so she was very careful cooking everything, you know. There were just, it affected everybody not in, in a huge way except for those who were fighting and dying, but every household had certain things that they did for the war effort. And women, women went back to work in factories that had never worked in anything like that. You know, it changed from a mom and pop and pop brings in the bacon kind of family environment, it changed entirely.

Jim: I've heard there were, there was actually quite a lively scene going on back during the war with dances at Gowen Field and Mountain Home and things like that. Did you?

Bethine: Well I never did that, but I went out with a couple of the soldiers that came into town and didn't have any place to go to have dinner or things like that. I remember telling one that made a slight move on me, I said my parents are asleep in the, in the little room above us, the little, little outdoor bedroom and if I yell they'll hear me. No, it was fun and you know it was.

Jim: You didn't have to go screaming into the night?

Bethine: I didn't. And he almost did, but I didn't.

Jim: Was it fun dating then? I mean there were all these, I mean some of the folks we've talked to talk about the fact that there were always young servicemen coming through?

Bethine: Yep, well actually a number of my friends dated a lot of them — Bev Pratt who lived next door with a singing teacher that we'd always known; she went out with lots of the fellows from Gowen Field. I didn't. I was writing Frank, I was writing Bobby Wardwell, I was writing Carl Burk I, I just had a different sort of kind of life. I did have a friend who was taking his flying lessons that I would see regularly. In fact he gave me his first little wings and he said, Don't ever lose these or I'll crash, and I have them to this day. But you know it, but it was friends and when people who'd come back from serving or getting ready to serve and they'd call on me we would go out, but it, I never had the dating scene that most people did; I just had all these other connections.

Jim: What was, what was Frank up to at that time? I know he was overseas you said . . .

Bethine: Well he was in India, Burma and China. He actually when, when he left and was called into the service he was part of the ASTP program and he was uh he was learning Spanish in an accelerated way uh back in uh I'm not going to be able to think of it, back in the east in this, in a college and Lafayette College and he suddenly they realized that we were not at war with any Spanish speaking country so they stopped the program cold and were just getting ready to ship him overseas. I got ready to leave Ann Arbor and go visit cousins in Washington D.C. so I could say goodbye to Frank and instead his professor said he's too bright just to dump him to the service right now when he's not trained and so they sent him to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, for intelligence training and he was barely 19 years old and he finished that training and though his commander was not thrilled about it sent him on to Fort Benning to take Officer's training because he said that you're just too young, but by the time Frank was 19 he had his First and Second Lieutenant bars and was immediately shipped out to Burma and went into India and took a team over the Burma road he was the only infantryman so when the Chinese got slightly drunk one night they thought they were going to be attacked this small team of and Frank moved them carefully back to the riverbank and then he called under his blanket which was you know one of those army blankets because he found out his gun hadn't been cleaned like it should be and he turned on a flashlight and afterwards, after the scare was all over and everybody came back and everything was fine he looked at this light under this blanket and thought he'd have been the first one shot. So Frank said he, he, he could laugh at himself no matter what happened Frank could laugh and that happened all of the time he was in the Senate, all of our married life which was 36 years, he had cancer early one when my son was very young, but Frank could laugh at things and he could put things in the funniest possible way although he was a terribly serious human being. So it was good and all of our friends were that way, just really good.

Jim: When you read his letters from over there, was it, did you feel like you were part of this grand adventure that he was on?

Bethine: Oh sure because he never, he never other than it was never personal other than Dearest Bethine or Dear Bethine and Love Frosty, because we called him Frosty in those days and um in fact when we started campaigning he said Bethine you can't call me Frosty anymore; you'll have to call me Frank or else nobody will know who you're talking about and I said they'll think I'm mad at you. But that was all in it excepting from the moment he arrived he told me all about India, about the Officer's Club, how very British they were and how snobbish they were about it and how then they finally welcomed him and then he talked about the Chinese children and he wouldn't do any of the things that he was supposed, you know don't eat the food, don't mingle with the local people, he did that all because he said what's the use of my being there if I'm not going to find out what it was really like and so that was the way his letters went and when they had to surrender at Nan King I was there with him, I knew exactly, I knew about the banquet, I knew about the Mayor he met that they went out on the boats and sang because the mayor had been Chinese Mayor had been a graduate of American school, they sang I want a girl just like the girl who married deal old dad. So you know and then when he got to Shanghai and got so frustrated because he was there so long after the war and took troops up to Yang Sea which didn't do any good because they just sold the stuff to the Chinese marching down and you know and the effort over there with the, with the Chinese communist in Shang was just a big laugh and I think it's what made Frank immediately doubt Vietnam. He said you know if the local people don't want it you can't do it and I think we're in that same position today. If the local people don't want it, you can't do it. And if you don't have friends worldwide you cannot, he, he always used to say it's not the might of our arms, it's the might of our ideas and our ideals. So this is the kind and so I was always immersed in it, every letter he wrote was just I waited anxiously to get 'em and wrote him back all the time.

Jim: What was it like to be, to be here, you said you were immersed in it but obviously the news of the day was not always good, everybody was, optimistic, you talked about not being too fearful of things, but what was it like to be here and not know?

Bethine: Well at first I was at Ann Arbor and so involved in getting my, my, my degree that I was just so busy I, I just couldn't and Pop came through on a train and took me back for Christmas one time, but other than that I, I came by train to Ann Arbor and there wasn't any chance to fly and so then I, I was, I was aware of it and, and reading about it and we were all worried and a friend and I went over to sculpture lab the night that Roosevelt died and both of us cried together and I still hear from her regularly and she still remembers that night. But then when I got back to Boise I knew I had to be busy and I had no talent, so I went down to Fritchman's and I sold gifts part of a day and learned to frame pictures and, and the senior Mr. Fritchman was a gem of the old school it was just wonderful and then the, then I went to work for Boise Junior College because they were out of anybody to do anything and the English Department with Mrs. Hatch who everybody speaks well of Mrs. Hatch, gave me the job of setting up their files, you know I've always wondered about that, I didn't know a darn thing about setting up a, a set of files I wondering could they find anything for years after and then they, they ran out of teachers. So I would have to substitute although I didn't have any training in that, I just had my degree. So I'd sit up all night practically at Idaho Street in front of the fireplace learning verbs and adverbs and adjectives I was, I had a great minor degree in English, but I had you talk it's the little things that you don't, if you're going to have to teach 'em you have to know 'em, what are nouns, what are adjectives, what are adverbs and it was fun and lots of the people were coming back from the war going to school so many of them were my age. I can remember a Davidson who was in my class and decided he would put me down and so I said you can, you can put all of this on the Board for us and after that he stopped nagging me.

Jim: Do you ever get flashes, driving around town here, of what it used to be like? Are there things that strike your memory and take you back to that era at all?

Bethine: Probably the most is when I come down Depot Hill toward the Capital and it used to be clear and beautiful, you could see right from Depot Hill right to the Capital and it was just a beautiful vista and so and also when we'd have dates I can remember one time we were coming in from some place or other and Frank was driving, I was with him and Stan Burns was driving ahead of us and he got picked up by a cop and we just left him there and he complained vividly about it, you know and I, when I drive certain streets and they're just full of traffic and I remember being the only, the two of us were practically the only two, two cars on that street.

Jim: Does the music bring back memories?

Bethine: Oh you know I have a friend that was a wife of a Senator and she said Bethine you shouldn't listen to the old songs they'll be the things that make you sad. They are the things that make me the happiest. I love the Paper Moon song from the war, I, I love the music, I love the early when Frank was in college the, the beginning of those wonderful musicals. I each of the musicals going on through and later into my Fair Lady are just the joy of my life. I often just get them on so that I can go back and, and Brigadoon that came out about the time that Frank was in, in college and you know it's just wonderful.

Jim: We were starting to talk about listening to music and how it takes you back when you want to go back, do you like going back?

Bethine: Oh absolutely, you know I have the best memories, you know you can be alive on or dead on your memories. I have such good memories that I'm really happy most of the time. I have a friend who said Bethine how can you be as happy as you are? I said well because I really have terrific memories and terrific friends here now and I worry about my children, my eldest son is a minister in New York and has suddenly been diagnosed with cancer, but I just have to be optimistic about him because Frank and I went through cancer twice, the first time he, he lived and had 36 years, the second time he wasn't that lucky, but I just have this hope that it will all work out that way for Forest.

Jim: You talk about the memories that you have and, and the people that you miss, what, what is it like to, to get to this point in your life and look back on all that's happened and, and know that, that you're one of the one's who's still here with the memories and still thinking of it?

Bethine: Well actually I'm one of the lucky ones, because I loved my dad, I loved my mother, I had a fascinating life, I often think back to for example with the Korean thing that's just happened, I think about spending Thanksgiving on a DNC with Frank with some young Idaho soldiers and so I, I can envision it. I know what it's like to be out there on the edge of North Korea, when I flew into China for the first time in through Taiwan and went out to the islands of Kumoi and Matsu and then heard heard the debate with Kennedy about Kumoi and Matsu I'd been there. Uh it, it's wonderful to think I was, I was the luckiest of all people I had terrific parents, I had a great marriage, in fact it was so good that in Washington they were always trying to find something wrong with it, they fortunately never did, but you know it, it's always been once I was not feeling terribly good and my eldest son said to me did you say to yourself why me? And I said no I've always wondered why not me? And he said well then you're, you're mentally pretty, pretty solid, but, but you know it's easier to be solid if you've had all the breaks. You know I worked hard for 'em, we campaigned during the '76 presidential campaign I campaigned 18 hours a day for about three months and was on the worst airplanes you ever saw and nearly crashed going into to Washington on an Alleghany, don't ever fly Alleghany and then we had a old prop plane that we named the Flying Turtle and all the lights went out just as we were about to land some place in Montana and they came on just in time and we never had any extra money it was a mom and pop operation and the, the all the people who were following us, all the reporters went out one time and bought sandwiches for everybody because they said it was the only campaign that we never had any food on. You know so I, yes I love thinking about it.And the alternative is saying well my, my hip doesn't move very well, and I don't move very well I'll just sit here in my chair and eat bon bons and, and be miserable. But that isn't, that would not make me very happy.

Jim: Well and it seems that some people do that though they, they dwell on the negative and they think about what's wrong with them, they think about death. Are those things you think about?

Bethine: Oh well I've always thought about death because my father was an older father and he was always telling me how he was preparing for mom and myself if he died. And at first it sort of bothered me, but then I got used to it, we organized things, we prepare 'em so I've never had that fear of death, in fact they've, they've finally found out that there's a whole era of people who never ever contemplate the fact that they were going to die and my son's as a minister always says you have to approach life and handle life knowing that one day you'll live, but you live because you're going to die. And that's the way I face it, and maybe I wouldn't be brave, I'm not a really terribly brave person, but if something really bad happened to my health I think I would know. I think probably the only thing that scares me is not dying, but the way some people die. I would hate for example to have a stroke, my dad had a stroke, but he died in two weeks and I think to have a stroke and be on the hands of say my youngest son who lives here would be just dreadful. So there are things like that, but I don't dwell on them because I'm too busy living.

Jim: You talk about how some people get the, the sort of the why me thing you know?

Bethine: Uh huh.

Jim: And some of the people we talked to for instance Vernon Baker who is a Medal of Honor winner from up in North Idaho, said he looks back and thinks why, why am I the one left telling these stories?

Bethine: That's exactly it. You see, I think of Bobby Wardwell and what kind of a life he might have led, I think of Frank who died before he was 60 and how much he had to offer and I think how could I have been left when he had all that talent and could help everybody and every once in a while when I'm so frustrated particularly in these last six years I look at the ceiling and say where are you when I need you, because I just like that clear voice about things that are happening now.

Jim: And yet you have to keep going.

Bethine: Yes.

Jim: Why me, but in a sense it's not something to dwell on.

Bethine: No, no and I have to do it because it makes me I'm not unhappy working on things, I had 90 people in for a pep rally for the Democrats on Monday night because I wanted to, of course that would be Monday night months ago before the election, but nonetheless.

Jim: So by the time this runs we'll know whether the pep rallies really brought enough pep or not.

Bethine: Well yeah we'll yes and it's hard when everybody's in our in this state you don't need to have that on TV, but it is hard. But it is hard pursuing it, I came back and everybody's known what a staunch democrat I am, but, but they still call on me locally to do other things and to support other causes because they know I'm fair about it and I'm really not ever mean to anybody. I'd like to be occasionally, but I'm not.

Jim: Well feel free now if you want to, because you know it's just us. I'm getting off topic here, but what happened to the democrats in Idaho?

Bethine: It never has been a democratic state.

Jim: There were democratic governors.

Bethine: Yeah well I know, but each time it was because of the person often or the person on the other side, like Frank you know when he first ran he was not known, we ran for nine months and Herman Walker was known to be, they thought to be a drunkard, he, he did drink a lot, but it he had a brain tumor and Frank would never campaign against him on that, just on his ideas. But you know you have to have, everything has to fall out just right and the thing that's happened now is they dump so much money in here uh Gary was just telling me as we came they have listed the Larry Grant/Sali Race as one of the one's that the Republicans are going to target. Well they've already targeted to the tune of three to four hundred thousand dollars have come in for him from other from out of you know different groups and you're not supposed to have any connection with those outside groups. I understand now that Risch said on his debate that the NRA was, was doing some independent funds for him, well he shouldn't know that. So every once in a while funny things happen that help you.

Jim: Well politics always keep it interesting.

Bethine: I love it, I just love it.

Jim: Going back to the war. When I say FDR what comes to mind?

Bethine: Oh just a most wonderful person. And I knew Mrs. Roosevelt well because she used to do a lot of the women's things I did after I was early in Washington, but Roosevelt was my hero, he, he, he couldn't move his legs, he had those awful braces they hadn't developed any of the things they have now and so it was a great agony to stand at a podium I knew that, I just knew it and I admired him so much and everything he did when you think that he came from this privileged background and he knew what it was not to be privileged just to me is, is, is my view of public service, it's to know that you've got more than anyone else and that you have to help those who don't have.

Jim: It was really something, it was really something when he would come on the radio and, and speak to you.

Bethine: Oh his radio and do you know my mother who never drank anything in her life and never had anything in the house never ever was put off at all by you know there were always pictures of him with two or three martinis lined up and a cigarette and my mother never mentioned it.

Jim: It's amazing.

Bethine: I know because she was just more impelling than that.

Jim: And there was something about how he spoke about fear, and bringing the country together, he really did sort of wrap a warm blanket around America in those days.

Bethine: He did and, and no matter how bad things looked, for example I really, I've been reading back of that time I didn't realize that, that Churchill actually stayed at the White House almost three months to the point where Eleanor was really furious at him and my funniest story I've ever heard was FDR was so excited about something that was going right one time and as soon as he got up and in his wheelchair he went in to the bedroom where Churchill was staying and just threw open the door and there was Churchill just having crawled out of his shower stark naked and, and the President apologized profusely and Churchill said there is nothing the President of the United States cannot know about, the head of the English Government, it was just wonderful.

Jim: Because apparently that was true after that moment that would be.

Bethine: Yes, but you know there was a, everybody, he had people around him that thought it out the reason I like Doris Kerns Goodman's book is that Lincoln had people who had contested him, people who did not believe as he believed, people who you know they were unexpected to be his main cadre of people that he depended on and it was because he got different advise from them and he listened to them. It's just as different today as you can imagine. No other, no advisors saying you really shouldn't be doing this, everybody spouting the same line. How do you, how do you govern that way?

Jim: Well, and talking about FDR, he actually was in Idaho, he was up at Farragut.

Bethine: Yeah, yeah with my dad. I've got a wonderful picture of them both raving.

Jim: People forget that Farragut was so plugged in to everything that was, now it's a Park and I think forget about the role it played.

Bethine: Yeah oh he went to the Yellowstone Park that's where I first met him and I met him with his wife and then they'd gotten him out of this touring car which was open and they were both dusty and undoubtedly tired and he was standing there you know and they'd locked his brace he was standing there against the car and she was standing by him with this sort of chiffon thing around her head and I'd always heard she was ugly, to me she was just beautiful and, and they treated me like an adult human being and he thanked me for my part and I always remembered it. You know there are people who can reach out and touch anyone from little teeny people to big people and, and make them feel better and both of them could do that. And when he couldn't move she took a lot of flack because she went out and was his eyes and his ears to the soldiers, to the poor, to the black, she did everything for him.

Jim: I wanted to ask you about the internment camps here.

Bethine: Oh yes and, and they were probably the thing that my father you know he and the governor of California and the president they were so sure that, that we were in imminent danger, they had, had those little subs hid up in Washington State and along the coast. They were so sure we were in imminent danger that they just panicked and did this. I . . . my dad never talked much about it because it happened when he was governor and he said some things he probably regretted his whole life through, because everybody was really very awful about it, but I know, I know that his way of making it up was when he was Federal Judge, he never liked anything more than making Japanese Americans citizens and I, the best pictures I have him are with little Japanese children of the parents he'd just made a citizen in his office. So I think it was his way of trying to give back.

Jim: You said he didn't talk about that time much, it was a different time, there's a feeling now I think sometimes people look back at the interment camps and with, with a kind of collective guilt about that.

Bethine: Well you had guilt, but, in that time they didn't because they thought they were protecting the country. And you know we did do dreadful things, thinking we're going to protect the country, look at all of the awful things that are being done now and, and it doesn't always work.

Jim: Knowing your father and again you said he didn't talk about that much, but how do you, what do you think it was like for him to make that decision to say yeah we're going to do this?

Bethine: I just think that he followed Roosevelt, just exactly like uh why can't I think of the, I'm having a senile moment the uh Governor of California who became Chief Justice Warren was Governor then. He did and said exactly the same things my dad did, the same way and therefore about the time that he was going on the federal bench people were remembering that and thinking maybe he shouldn't serve and of course he turned out to be a simply terrific uh Supreme Court Judge.

Jim: What was it like when the war ended?

Bethine: Oh it was just sort of magic. You know everybody felt good. Just everybody felt good and, and of course you know when you think that right now we've been in this thing almost as long as World War II it's fairly scary because there are no good answers, then there was a good answer and it was over.

Jim: And then it was, I think there was a feeling that I mean we wore the white hats in that?

Bethine: Yeah absolutely.

Jim: And so when it ended it was?

Bethine: It ended and it was good and everybody thought so.

Jim: Not everybody was happy with the bombs being dropped though?

Bethine: Oh no, but you know a lot of that was later, but some of it was during that time. But there were never the mass protests and there was never the feeling that, that it's not like now where, where we're all so intimately connected uh by television with it. It, it wasn't you know for example Dresden only became horrible to us years later.

Jim: But, but Frank knew about those bombings and knew what had happened?

Bethine: Oh yeah, he was in China when they dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his mother said it's the wonder of age and he said no it's not mother, we'll have to be careful or the whole world will have them and it will terrify the world and he was what 20?

Jim: What did he think about the thought that was, we had to do it, it was, not that it was great in the sense of the good thing, but that it was, we had to do it, it was great that we did it?

Bethine: Well you have they're exactly, they're every, every viewpoint on this in Idaho is different, there are those who absolutely believe we had to do it, they didn't realize that they were intoxed right then, but they felt like at least the first bomb that it ended the war. The second one people were more iffy about, but in general everybody thought it had to be done and, and now you'll find in your conversations I'm sure people who thought it was just the right thing to do, people who thought it was just the wrong thing to do. I look at it in the perspective that Frank did of it was overkill, with, with something that was already going down. Now Stan Burns would think the other way I think, because we talk occasionally about such things.

Jim: There, there's been a lot of talk, when I hear people talk about World War II and, and I read things about it I think there's tendency for people to paint it with a sort of golden brush of nostalgia that it was this wonderful time and everybody was proud that they were an American, there was all this patriotism is that, is that fair to what it was really like do you think?

Bethine: Oh absolutely I think you know if, if any war is justified and I'm not sure, but this one if there ever was one that was, with the things that were happening in the Holocaust and all of that, if there was ever a justified war this was probably it and basically it was done with everybody's help and everybody's belief. I mean just think of it in comparison with now, or even with Vietnam, I mean just look at it, it was entirely different and there was a golden glow in that everybody felt pretty good about themselves, they'd been attacked and that was the way to respond.

Jim: There's been a lot made out of it being the greatest generation?

Bethine: Sure.

Jim: Agree or disagree?

Bethine: Well oh I agree, I the people I knew then the elders that I knew then were beyond a doubt, here was dad Church who couldn't stand Roosevelt later and had voted for him once and always regretted it and here's my dad that he was hero, but they were so honest about how they felt and they were so straightforward and they were such good Americans you know I you hate to, to waive a flag in front of a generation, but they were. And the people who went out to fight were so terrific and Churchill and, and how the English were hit and were so amazingly brave. You know you put it all together and, and it sort of rubbed off it was as though we were part of England about there being bombed and therefore it was okay to bomb back.

Jim: When you look back and, and think about those days what do you miss?

Bethine: Oh I just miss I miss government honesty, I miss people who serve because they are natural servants, not because of all the money thrown into things. I hate the way politics has become a money-run thing. We ran the whole race for the Senate on about $45,000, and the first seed money we had was because we had about $6,000 in the house that was a $12,000 house and we had paid off six of it and so we sold the house, lived with my pop and mom and ran on it. That can't be done today; you almost have to be a millionaire or be willing to ask everybody for money and, and our the people who represent us have to spend so much time asking for money and so much time running for the next election that serving the people becomes only secondary and I despise it and the fact that little TV clips, instead of half an hour forums in which they really say how they stood. Frank used to do half hours saying exactly how he stood on foreign aid or how he stood on foreign entanglement, or how he stood on agriculture or any of those things. So it, it's just not the way it should be and I worry about it a lot. I worry for the next generation. The one good thing is I think young people are beginning to realize this uh maybe, that's these citizen movements that have started that they're beginning to realize that, that you can give a dollar and be involved and that your dollars all, if there are a lot of them, add up and will help against these big monies. I think the only reason they kept that Foley in is because he was giving so much money to various candidates and he had a sure seat and they could count him as a sure count in this election and that's why they just went like this, see no evil, hear no evil.

Jim: If you were trying to talk to some kids today about what the war years were like and what that era was like . . . Is there any way to say anything you think that conveys what the spirit of the day was like?

Bethine: Well you know I talk to young people all the time. People will call me and say they want to bring a young person over that's really interested in politics and I tell 'em how it was back then and how different and how we respected each other's ideas of what kind of life we were leading then, like it's only a Paper Moon song. Yes it's so easy, but it's easy for me to talk about the past, it's always with me just like the present is.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

As a young woman, Fumiko Hayashida was moved from her home on Bainbridge Island, Washington and placed in the Minidoka relocation center.

Jim: Now where were you born?

Fumiko: I was born on Bainbridge Island, January 21, 1911.

Jim: I know you ended up in the Minidoka camp. Tell me a little bit about how that happened.

Fumiko: Well, that's when the war started. It was decided that we had to evacuate but we weren't sure because we were both American citizens. My husband was born in Bellevue, Washington and I was born on Bainbridge Island in Washington and we had two children at the time - a son, Neil and daughter Natalie and I was expecting my third which I was disappointed but lucky. We had a baby boy and we called him Leonard and I'm sorry to let you know I lost him last year. He was born in Camp Manzanar, California and older man, a friend of ours, he was Isha, born in Japan and came to congratulate us and he said, "Oh my, I hear it's a little boy," and we were happy for it because I had a boy and a girl and I was wishing for another girl but it didn't work that way. We named him Leonard and he was born in August fifteenth. That was happened to be - the war ended on August fifteenth too. And anyway, this old friend of ours came to congratulate us and he said, "Ah, a little boy. That's good but," he said. "He'll be right in time for next war," he told us and I said, "Oh, no." I wasn't too happy about it but we found out he went too of course.

We lived in Seattle at that time because we moved from Bainbridge Island. My first two were born at Bainbridge Island and after the war evacuation we had a big farm, a strawberry farm, but we lost it and we tried to keep the farm but you know, after two years of not working on the land we couldn't afford to start - he tried to start it but he decided he better work. He's getting older too so he applied at Boeing and he got a job at the Boeing and he commuted one year from Boeing to Bainbridge Island with the ferry and expensive and a day's long and we decided well, buy a house and move to Seattle. That we did and the kids were all young. They went to grade school and they all graduated from the University of Washington but when you know, as I was saying when Isha man came and congratulated us he said, "Oh, it's a boy. Well, he's ready for next war." I said, "Oh, no." And that came out true because Leonard had to go to Viet Nam war and he came back wounded and at least he was back and - you know, changed man. He didn't want to talk about wars, he didn't like to hear about it. Well, anyways, so we helped him along.

Jim: How did you find out that you were going to first have to go to the camps? What was that like when they told you that you were leaving ?

Fumiko: We didn't find out until last week or so because he had a soldier - I mean policeman friend - my husband did. He came to see us almost every day and he says, "You're a citizen. They can't do that to you," but ended up citizen or not, you were to evacuate so he kept working until the berries are blooming or almost ready to harvest but we lost everything.

Jim: Why did you end up going to Minidoka? Why did you have to leave Manzanar?

Fumiko: Well, my sister who married and who lived in Seattle was in Minidoka and her husband was an editor of a Japanese paper and so he was - the day or next day or must have been that day - he was arrested and put into prisoner - not evacuation camp but prisoners and so my sister - she had five children and she was alone in Minidoka with five children so - and we were in Manzanar. We decided to transfer to Minidoka to help her but otherwise we would have stayed in Manzanar. It was a better camp. We found that Minidoka was cold and wet and hot. Well, anyway and -

Jim: What do you remember about going to Minidoka the first time? What do you remember about that?

Fumiko: I was disappointed because it was so cold and. Manzanar was our first camp and it was a good camp. I mean, they were demanding to the government that Seattle people and they were putting the lawn between the barrack and they were improving it. On top of that, after about a month later my brother-in-law who was in Texas prisoner, Crystal City, was able to get his family together so my sister moved to Crystal City so we really didn't have to move because - but that's okay. We didn't like the climate out in - well, we didn't like Manzanar either because it was too hot but then we're not working.

Jim: What was that like trying to raise your family in this camp in Minidoka?

Fumiko: Well, as a mother everyone saying you stay close to home when children are small so I went to the camp but I stayed around our area, own block and always at home. Today I went to the Minidoka. I heard about canal but it's the first time I saw it because we were up in Block 44 way up at the end. I heard about canal but never walked toward it, sagebrush, and we had to stay within our block because I want to stay - watch the kids all the time.

Jim: Today when you went out and you looked out at the area where you used to live I heard you got out of the little shuttle car they had, and you looked out and you said, "Wow!" What were you thinking when you saw that? That used to be your home.

Fumiko: That was sixty-five years ago I was here. Wow, and I was kind of disappointed with the barrack. It wasn't that neat and I think it was smaller - something about it. Of course everything was small and when we moved in the flooring was just bare woood. It wasn't like flooring there - knot holes was all over the place and I don't know if they're a lot alike. We didn't want the children to walk bare-footed because they get sliver and I don't know, it seemed like - If I remember right those stoves, little pot belly stove they had in the cabin here - only thing big was - if I remember that stove was really big, the one in the camp but this is different. Of course we didn't have no ice box, no running water, no toilet and when we went inside we saw empty cots, bag of straw. That's about it. When I first went in I just cried. I didn't know that's what we were to do with our strawberry pickers - give them a cot and straw and tent and they themselves put up a tent and oh, I don't know. I was so disappointed today when I saw it but I think - young people, they could look around and - but I don't know -

Jim: It seems like when I look at that and I've seen the pictures where it was, it was like tar paper on the sides and it looks like it was a tremendously hard life to step into from what you knew, from leaving your home.

Fumiko: Oh yeah, but we weren't the only ones. My family was together so I thought at least we're together. A lot of - the first generation father was interned in Montana, a lot of some families didn't have the father but the children were older and teenagers had fun because they didn't have to help, they don't [do] cooking or washing or - I guess mother did everything but -

Jim: You did everything.

Fumiko: No, I was really lucky. My husband was real helpful. He did the washing for me and brought the water in and although they were looking for workers in the camp but he didn't work until I had my baby and he was home about two, three months. He stayed home and helped me so I was real fortunate. Of course we don't have to cook, got to go to mess hall when the bell rings.

Jim: Were you angry?

Fumiko: Well, no. In a way, but you know you do your duty. If the President wants us to do it. My husband always says, follow the government and you won't go wrong because we could have moved to inland so we don't have to evacuate but no, he says. Children are small, we're going to stay with the government, do what we have to do, what they want us to do and - we didn't like it but that's okay. I think no use fighting the government.

Jim: How do you feel now? I know some people sometimes feel a little bitter?

Fumiko: Well, I feel now that we're okay and my husband died early. We were married for 47 years. We couldn't make - last week I went to 50 year anniversary party. Well, I realized gosh we didn't make it to 50. That's a long time too, you know, because I lost him with the bone cancer. We can't fight that. Then I lost my youngest son that was born in Manzanar. He went in the service and came back changed man, you know? He doesn't want to talk about the war and he was changed.

Jim: When you think back to the years in the camp, when you think about those days, what are some of things that you think about from being there at Minidoka?

Fumiko: Well, I think I just felt sorry for ourselves but you can't blame it on anybody - blame it on the war I guess. We didn't have any trouble with babysitters although we don't really need it because I'm home all the time but I had time to learn how to knit and crochet.

Jim: What was it like when you found out that you were going to be getting out, when you knew that you were no longer forced to stay?

Fumiko: Oh, we were really happy to go home because we still had our land. In fact I still have the land, part of it, you know, and we had the house so we came back and my brother-in-law came back early and cleaned the house before the rest of the family came home so it was all clean.

Jim: You were one of the lucky ones that came back to a home.

Fumiko: We were lucky. We were really lucky because we had our land, we had our house. But a lot of the other farmers could not come home because they were leasing or they didn't own it so they didn't have the home to come home to. But of course we lost our dog and cat - not cat but we had two dogs - a lot of chickens and turkey and two horses and we lost everything but - we couldn't have insurance. That was cancelled you know. Our friend was Asian but she said notice from the headquarters to cancel our insurance and we had one car and three trucks but they weren't all insured. But we had our health, that's good.

Jim: What have been some of the nice parts about coming back here for this, with talking to people and things like that? What have you enjoyed about this experience?

Fumiko: Because my neighbor came and welcome home us back and we had - like linen and good china, they sort for us you know.

Jim: If you talk to kids today, younger people, they've read perhaps about Minidoka, they probably haven't been out here but they know a little bit about it. What can you tell them to make them understand what it was like for you and your family?

Fumiko: Well, when first my daughter was about, I think about third grade she came home from school. She's the first one to mention evacuation and she asked us, "Did we? Did you go into camp, you know?" That was the first child that asked because I have a lot of nieces and nephews who are older than her but they haven't heard about it. Somehow she was the first one. Then we told her because of the war we had to leave home and she said, "Mommy, Daddy, you are American citizens. How come? That's against the law." But she - you know, you know - war, there's a lot of things. Just like a war. Someone started bringing lumber on the top of our hill and I said, "What's going on there, the lumber?" And then, so my husband wrote a letter to Kitsap County asking what's going on because you know, they're unloading lumber and so they were making a station, look-out station or something like that. The government was and they didn't even ask you if they could do it or not and then of course I think they just took it because - and they promised that when they were through with that we could get the land back. But instead of giving it back the government kept it, made it into park so it's just Strawberry Park now but that's part of our land. But we didn't fight it because we didn't know how and I know lawyers and all that will cost more than - so it's still government park.

Jim: What do you remember about when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed? Do you remember that day? Where were you?

Fumiko: Yeah, I remember that day was Sunday. Of course no television in those days just radio. My brother-in-law came. It was Sunday morning, we were looking at the funny paper and our Sunday papers and he says, "Did you know that," - we didn't have the radio on - "that the war started with Japan?" And that was the first time I heard because we didn't have the - and then we turned on the radio and sure enough blasting - I said, "Gee, what for, what a small country like that attacking the U.S.?" He said, "No chance." That's the first thing we all said. What the heck are they doing? But - I don't know. That's what happened and then about a couple months later I guess was evacuation.

Then - it was hard for us because Bainbridge Island is just a small island. It's a city now but before it was country. There was no bank on the island, everything was in the city. Our bank was in Seattle and we were - we couldn't go to Seattle, we can't use phone. Could use phone but certain times - I know I was talking to my sister one day and the operator said, your time is up and - I don't know. We were enemies right away but not the neighbors. We were lucky.

Jim: What was that like? You said you were enemies right away. What did that feel like?

Fumiko: Well, you feel sorry for yourself but we're Americans so we were all educated in America.

Jim: Are you glad that you came to this, to Minidoka back now?

Fumiko: Well, this was first time. This is my first time. We were here sixty-five years ago. I was glad to see and sad in a way because I know, I remember how sad I was. I see one day, see a bag of straw and the cot and my husband and me and two children, we didn't know where to put them and they had Army blankets and the kids were scared because it's the first time they walk on the bare floor. At home they, you know everything is rug but no running water, no latrine. I was lucky. I had my husband. He was really good. He brought in the water. The bucket alone was heavy. I couldn't carry it and we had to get the water from the latrine. No, he helped me a lot and the children were in diapers. Oh, I don't know - we made it. We made it and - well, that's what the war does to you. So I wish this war now - I feel so sorry for them and every day I say, "I wish you would quit it." Nobody is going to gain from it. I guess I don't know why they are fighting for right now. The world is getting too small.

Jim: There's a wonderful picture out there with you and your daughter. Everybody was looking at that and taking pictures of you looking at that.

Fumiko: I remember. They asked for signature so they could put it in a book or something. My daughter - she got married. She finished - she is a UW graduate in business and she worked just one year at UW and she met a fellow who was working at Boeing, an engineer and they got married. He's Chinese and he wanted a federal job because you know they have a better - and that's when NASA was getting started to open and he's a graduate of Texas A & M so applied there and he got hired right away so after not even one year she had to move to Texas and I didn't like that because - I cried every night and my husband got mad at me. He said, "No, she's married and she's gone but she can always come back." Anyway, as long as she was happy there. Well anyway, she's happy and they do real well and she worked a little bit but she decided not to work because it all goes to taxes. So she played tennis. Right now she's a city council woman. She's really busy and doing lots of outside help and volunteering a lot.

Jim: Look at that picture of you holding her. What do you think about when you see that picture?

Fumiko: I wish it was colored because she had a pretty red coat and outfit and she looked real cute but she was asleep too and she was daddy's girl. She hated to walk. She rather be carried. Meanwhile my oldest son, he'd rather walk. He didn't want to be carried. It worked out good. But yeah, I enjoyed the kids. And she was a smart girl.

Jim: That's a wonderful picture. Everybody looks at that and they are just taken by that so much.

Fumiko: Thank you. Yeah, just happened that was taken. I didn't know when the picture was taken. Evacuation day Seattle newspaper had photographer there. I didn't know. But it was a sad day. You didn't know how long we were going to be away, what is going to happen to the children and we were a country family. I think the first thing we went to Portland for honeymoon and that's the only time I went out of city, out of state, and first time for us to go to California, first time to ride a train. I was kind of excited but you know, it was the first time but I didn't know what to do with the kids because in those days our suitcases are full of diapers because my oldest son was still using diapers and they didn't have no disposable diapers. We all brought our own and all that. I don't know -

Jim: Can you believe it's been sixty-five years?

Fumiko: Sixty-five years?

Jim: Can you believe it's been that long?

Fumiko: I can't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen it for sixty-five years. I can't believe it. Well, I'm happy to be living and to see, come back again but - this vast country, I'm really amazed to see that all that was covered with barracks. The government sent lots of money to feed us and all but that's what they thought would be the best and I think it's better to - of course you can't say what would have happened if we'd stayed home.

Jim: This was the first year that you've been back.

Fumiko: Yes.

Jim: Do you want to come back again or was once enough?

Fumiko: I think I saw enough. Who knows, I might be dead by - I'm taking day at a time and I'm ready and I'm happy. I've got enough to live on. Life has been good to me. Really good. I'm proud of myself and my children. My daughter adopted two children. They are an international family. She is Japanese American, her husband is Chinese American, they adopted a boy from Korea and a little girl from China so - and they all grow up and my children on their own now and they have two grandchildren. The daughter is not married and they have their life but ready to retire. They may come back to Seattle but they may not. I don't know. Of course he's from Texas. He'd rather stay in Texas. My daughter wants to come back.

Jim: So for you coming back this one time you think was enough you think?

Fumiko: I think so. I think so. I'm glad I came. I'm glad I have my life. It's just a number. I'm happy, I have a lot of friends. I don't drive, I never drove, but they come and see me and I have lots of nice nieces and nephews. They are all retired - most of them are retired and they are all more or less professional. I mean, school teacher, nurse, I have three - let's see, Frank is a dentist and two others are doctors. They all did well. And my son-in-law is an engineer and my own son is working and my daughter is more or less retired now. I mean she never worked but a month or two but she was honored recently in Texas as one of the persons that volunteer, helping the poor, helping the older people. They called it "gate" was it? I don't know, some - any way she was one of the honorees that had a big dinner -

Jim: You must be very proud of them.

Fumiko: I am very proud of her and working for NASA engineer, he was a head of a - what do you call it, what you bring up the space - so they travel quite a lot to other countries. Went to Japan, go to Italy, Spain, France and every time she could - she's not working so she could go with him so she is happy.

Jim: I know you want to get back out with all those people and I appreciate your talking with us.

Fumiko: Well, thank you. I am really honored. I'm glad I came and I'm glad I have so many friends. They are all good to me. I'm just another person. I didn't go to college. I never worked in my life but I'm okay. Now I'm alone in the old house and I think there, in that house, but I'm happy. A brick home was my dream but you can't have everything. I have you now. I made a lot of friends. I'm so happy I came and thank you very much. I'll be okay and I hope to see the tape.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Dale Hopper was a teenager living in Jerome, Idaho when he watched the internees unloaded and taken to the Hunt Camp. He runs the Jerome County Historical Museum and lives in Jerome.

Jim: Did you grow up in this area?

Dale: Yes.

Jim: When we talked the last time I was here you told me a little bit about how you were there when these folks started arriving. Tell me a little bit about why you were there and what was going on.

Dale: Well, I was about eighteen or nineteen years old and thought I should know everything I guess so we wanted to go see what was happening so we did. And it was something I'm glad I did do but, it wasn't really as bad as it could have been, I guess, but it wasn't good either.

Jim: When you say it wasn't as bad as it could have been but it wasn't good, what do you mean?

Dale: Well, when we went down there we had no idea what was going to happen and we thought sure there would be problems, but there wasn't - that I knew of any way - but as a bunch of young guys we just thought that had to be something we had to see.

Jim: You were talking about going down there. What did you see? What was it like when you got down there?

Dale: Well, it was the middle of August sometime in that area and it was hot and dirty and when we got there all we saw was a train loaded with people. They unloaded them out of the train with their baggage and threw them in the back of an Army truck then headed for Hunt.

Jim: I can imagine what August was like out here.

Dale: And the railroad tracks where they unloaded them was right out in the middle of the desert between here and Eden. And it was bad of course.

Jim: You had said that you and a bunch of your buddies wanted to go down and see, thought it was something that you should see. How did you know that this was going on? Were people talking about it?

Dale: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it was known everywhere that this was the day that they were going to arrive; the first ones would arrive to be put out there.

Jim: What kind of stuff were people saying? Were people scared?

Dale: They weren't especially scared but they weren't happy. Well, of course there's that certain few that said, "Why don't they take them and shoot them and let them go at that?" but very few. Most people weren't happy about the situation and so forth.

Jim: Was that mostly because of what happened at Pearl Harbor or not? What do you think?

Well, it was the middle of August sometime in that area and it was hot and dirty and when we got there all we saw was a train loaded with people. They unloaded them out of the train with their baggage and threw them in the back of an army truck then headed for Hunt.

Dale: Yes. It was Pearl Harbor. It was all tied into Pearl Harbor and everybody was different, same as now. Why everybody has a different idea about this Afghanistan and Iraq. Just the same story.

Jim: You said when they brought these people in on the train and put them on the trucks and sent them off, this was the first load of people who went in there?

Dale: Yes.

Jim: What kind of place was that like to be living do you think?

Dale: (laughs) Well, I'm glad it wasn't me. I'll put it that way. Dust! The people who built that camp; they brought them in here by the hundreds and they stayed anywhere in Jerome they could find and when they came in I don't know if they could get the dirt all off of them in showers. Just trying to clean themselves up, you know how it is in the desert when you start driving through and everybody walking and working in the area. What it's going to do - dirt about six inches deep, loose dirt I should say - and it was a mess. And it hadn't been quite completed when they put them out there but they put them out there and they lived through it.

Jim: Who do you think it was the hardest on to live out there?

Dale: Well, I would presume the seniors. And there were people who were my age now I'm sure when they went out there because there were some of them was hauled in on stretchers and go put you in a tar shack and four or five families in a barracks, nothing but curtains between you and it had to be hard on everybody. I could say this - after the war was over I was in the Army and went to Japan and I met a family out there in Japan that they were out there and the father said, "I'm not staying here. Send me back to Japan." Or anyway, I don't know just what was in to get him back but anyway they went back to Japan. They sent them back and I met this family while I was in Japan after the war and they were some pretty sad people for going back instead of staying here. So it wasn't I guess as bad as they thought it would be or what but anyway that was their feelings.

Jim: What was it like - how old were you when you saw them go into the camps that day?

Dale: Out here?

Jim: Yeah. How old were you?

Dale: Well, I had just graduated from high school. Eighteen or nineteen.

Jim: What did these people look like? What did their faces look like?

Dale: Well, of course I'm sure I kind of was laughing because they would send them out there. Everybody - you know when you're young and you don't think a lot of things but they looked pretty sad - and it didn't - and I'm sure when they arrived out there and unloaded they didn't change them any.

Jim: You said you were young and kids sort of don't have a lot of wisdom I think when they are eighteen or nineteen. It was a tough time. It was a different time in the world back then. When did your feelings start to change or when did you start to realize what these people actually went through?

Dale: Well, I think my feelings were there when they started unloading them and the way they handled those people. I think I changed a lot right there but - after I was in the service and over in Japan and met those people, so many of them, I came home and I thought ever since it was a crying shame to have happen to anybody.

Jim: I was surprised when I started talking to people about this whole issue, about the Japanese being put into camps, talking to people who lived here in Idaho like you did at that time who were in high school or older or younger and I asked them what they thought about these people being put into these camps. I was expecting to hear sort of what you said, that I felt bad, we shouldn't have done it. But a lot of people said just the opposite. They said it was the right thing to do, we needed to do it, we were scared, we were worried. What do you think about that?

Dale: Well, I think it's just people. Everybody thinks differently but at that time too I think people were scared, after they snuck into Pearl Harbor and they - well, nobody had any idea what was going to happen after that and they went right to work on it and got them off the coast and we had two or three families here in Jerome that I went to school with and of course they didn't put them out there. They were locals here and they stayed on their farms and helped out all they could - but I guess the people who did it feel it's the right thing to do and I've got different feelings. Some day I might think it was wrong and sometimes I think it's right because it's just something that happens. Of course we have to accept it regardless if it's right or wrong but I've heard of incidents - well, I'll tell you one is a cousin of mine worked in a feed store over in Gooding and there was a Japanese man came in over there and he threw him out. Picked him up and threw him out. He didn't have a job anymore but that was his feeling. He wasn't going to help those Japs.

Jim: There were a lot of feelings like that weren't there?

Dale: Yeah, there was a lot of people who felt that way. Like this display we have up here in the corner, there's a license, free license to shoot the Japs. Just all kinds of things like that. I mean but it's real hard to say what anybody really felt because everybody was so different.

Jim: And it was a different time in America.

Dale: Oh yes, very much so.

Jim: I think people don't realize maybe what it was like after Pearl Harbor happened. How big of an impact that had. Did you feel that after it was bombed?

Dale: Well, yeah, we felt like it was going to be something big and it was. In fact the day after they bombed Pearl Harbor I walked in the schoolhouse there - I went to school in Wendell - and it was one of my classmates standing atop the stairs and he said, "Well Hopper did you bring your shot gun?" He said, "We'll be over there with them too." And that's what the kids were thinking anyway the day after.

Jim: Did you have any Japanese kids in school with you?

Dale: There was none over there but there was here.

Jim: What was that like for those families living around here?

Dale: Well, I think everybody accepted the ones who were here. We've got a young lady, a doctor over in Wendell. She was raised here and went to school here. Her mom was one of that family that was here. She's half Japanese and she gets along well and of course now it's altogether different. So many at that age really don't know anything about it. It's amazing how many schools we have coming in here now bringing their kids to try to learn something. That's their history and it's quite amazing at the number of people we get through here.

Jim: That just don't know anything about it?

Dale: Right. They know nothing about it. They come in here and they start asking questions and I try to answer what I can. I can't answer them all but I do the best I can for them. But we had a group from up in American Falls not long ago. We had a group from the Deaf and Blind School in Gooding just a few weeks ago and they know absolutely nothing. They know World War II. That's all they know.

Jim: No idea that all of this stuff happened right here? You talk about being there when these folks were put into the camps. After they were in the camps were you aware of them? Did you hear much about what was going on out there?

Dale: Yeah, because they were on the streets, they'd get passes and come to town. They were on the streets. They had athletic teams out there. They had the biggest schools out there, bigger than any in the valley and we had our personal doctor, medical doctor. He was in charge out there while they were there and we would talk to him a lot and we were quite friends of him. And many people questioned, well, what did the ladies do out there? Well, they had their clubs and they had everything and had it not been for them for the Japanese people, here for two years in a row, we would have lost most of our potato and beet crop because we had nobody here to harvest them. But they came out, they made their money, they got paid the same as anybody else and I think a lot of them felt real good about it. And I'm sure others like the gentleman I met in Japan, at the time he didn't feel good but he sure wished he had of.

Jim: Mostly there was nobody to deal with the farms because everybody was off serving in the war and there were no young men back in town?

Dale: Right.

Jim: You talked about having clubs and the schools out there. They had yearbooks and things like that didn't they?

Dale: Yes. We have the yearbooks right here. I've got them right back behind me here and we have their newspaper. They had a newspaper they published. Our weekly paper printed it for them after they got it ready and they had that and they were undefeated in their baseball team for a long time around here. Everybody accepted them I think. Maybe not wholeheartedly but they did help out with it.

Jim: Looking back at what the country did to these folks, do you feel bad, do you feel embarrassed? As an American do you feel any of that?

Dale: Well, right now I don't think I do. I don't think I'm any smarter now than I was then by any means but at the time every day you'd have a different feeling. It was just according to what happened. But I think it was something that the people thought had to happen. The President and his group felt it had to happen and we'd better accept it that way because anyway, they're supposed to be smarter than we are.

Jim: Supposed to be.

Dale: Yeah.

Jim: Another interesting thing in talking with folks who were out there, a lot of them don't want to talk about it.

Dale: Well, it doesn't bother me. I mean, it's gone, the past is the past and the Japanese people are fairly good friends of ours right now or I feel that way anyhow and I think it's just a fight that's over and forget it and get along the best we can.

Jim: You mentioned earlier about the people in Afghanistan, how we see some similarities now. Do you see some of that same stuff? After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, do you see things that are similar there?

Dale: Well, yes I think they are. Yeah, after 9/11 why we thought everybody should be grabbed and they got a lot of them and I guess there are still some that haven't had their chance to prove right or wrong but I felt that way. They had better be careful. And I think they've caught - well, over in England they just got some a couple of weeks ago that were ready to blow something up and right now I think there are supposed to be more security here now than there was back then. I mean, when they came into Pearl Harbor, why I don't think anybody ever thought anything about it. But now and after 9/11 and all these other goings on why it's, it's scary. I tell you, on myself, for oh, a couple of years ago I couldn't watch the Federal news, national news because when they'd start to fight, why, tears started rolling down my cheeks and I've gotten over - well, in today's paper a young man from Jerome was killed and that gets to me real bad.

Jim: People talked about in World War II how it felt like the whole nation was at war, that everybody was fighting, that everybody knew somebody who was serving and sometimes I don't feel that people feel that today. But from what you are saying it seems like you are there with them and feel that.

Dale: Definitely. I'm with them. I'll never forget it. It's something that is just there and the things that happened to me that I can't forget it. One thing that really bothers me, if you get a family, wife and kids talking about a husband and dad that had just been killed and I turn the television off real quick because I cannot - better be careful, it will start here.

Jim: Did you serve yourself? Did you serve in the service?

Dale: Oh, yes.

Jim: Where did you serve? How long?

Dale: In the Philippines. I was in the Philippines and after the war was over I was in Japan for about three months - and then I got to come home.

Jim: Why was World War II so different, the way people felt about it, do you think, than now? And different from Korea and Viet Nam and The Gulf War and this war have a very different feeling?

Dale: Well personally I don't feel any different than any of them. I kind of feel like that they were probably necessary but now sometimes I change my mind about this one that is going now because well, there's more of the boys been killed after it's all over - supposedly over - and they're still over there - three or four every day practically. But people - I don't remember back in World War II of anybody saying we shouldn't be there. I don't think I ever heard that.

Jim: And now you do.

Dale: Now I do. You hear it a lot now.

Jim: I noticed that the flags were flying at half-mast today and it must have been because of the boy that you mentioned.

Dale: Well, it could be. I don't know for sure but I saw it when I went to the post office to pick the mail up, I saw in the paper that says, "Jerome boy loses his life" or something on the headlines and so I bought the paper and I usually don't but I did. I wanted to see who he was. I personally don't know the family but I feel for them.

Jim: Do you sometimes not want to pick up the paper and not turn on the news?

Dale: My wife is real concerned about me turning on the news and we try to watch the local news and if it gets too deep we turn it off.

Jim: How come?

Dale: I can't handle it.

Jim: You've said you had the chance to meet some of these folks who were in the camps and the Japanese folks who were in this area back then. What do you talk about when you see those folks? Do you talk about those days?

Dale: We see quite a few people come in here and yes, they talk about what happened when they were out there. Most of them here now were little kids when they were out there and they talk about the jobs they had, they had victory gardens they called them, that they planted out there and all kinds of things but we never get too deep into it. At one time here we had a young man - well, there were two young men and their mom. One of them was from Hawaii and the other one was from Washington DC and we talked a little about the situation and with her being out there and the boys were raised out there for three years. I don't think I can remember any Japanese people saying anything too bad about the thing. The camp wasn't good. We know that. Have you seen the barracks? Okay, you know too what they lived in.

Jim: Not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination.

Dale: No, no. (long pause)

Jim: You talked about how kids now don't know much about what happened out there. What should they know?

Dale: Well, they know what happened. They should start from bombing of Pearl Harbor and what we did then, they should learn what we did then. Around here in our local schools, fourth and fifth graders is primarily we get so much about and they ask some pretty good questions about why this happened. They don't know that we were bombed and started the war and what did they do with them after the war was over and that's something that we don't know. I guess they were each given so much money and they turned them loose like me when I got out of the service. They turned me loose and said, go home or wherever you want to go. And that's what happened to them. But some of those kids can get pretty personal and have some hard feelings.

Jim: What do you think about those guys who were in the 442nd?

Dale: Well, the most decorated in the war so they must have been good.

Jim: A lot of those guys came from Idaho.

Dale: Yeah, yeah. I've got a file upstairs of all of them that were from around here. In just a card that they were enlisted or drafted or volunteered, whatever they did.

Jim: Pretty amazing when you think of guys going from being in the camps to being heroes. They were heroes in combat.

Dale: Yes, they are. Definitely. Those people had some pretty hard feelings, not hard feelings, good feelings about this country or they couldn't do that.

Jim: That part of it is an interesting story too. A lot of people don't know about that either, about what happened to these guys -

Dale: Yeah. Hardly anybody knows that. You can talk to people, oh I guess one out of ten might have heard of the 442nd or whatever but - the others - well, "What's that? Who were they?"

Jim: That almost seems like it's kind of a shame or something.

Dale: Yeah, yeah, it's just another one of those problems with the whole situation.

Jim: Well hopefully we'll let people know more about that with this show. Anything else you want to tell us?

Dale: I think we've covered it quite well.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Toshi Ito was taken from her home in Seattle and moved to the relocation center in Minidoka as a teenager. She makes her home in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Jim: Tell me where you were born and grew up.

Toshi: Well, I was born in Seattle, Washington and I grew up there and went to school there until the war broke out.

Jim: Do you ever miss it? Do you get back there much?

Toshi: Not really. One of the reasons I never went back was I don't have any fond memories of Seattle and my childhood or eventually what happened when the war broke out.

Jim: No fond memories because of what happened?

Toshi: Probably I would have left Seattle anyhow whether the war happened or not.

Jim: The rain just drive you out?

Toshi: Oh, the rain didn't help any and the weather certainly didn't as you well know. You know it can be real foggy in the morning.

Jim: Definitely. Tell me a little bit what it was like, where you were, and what happened when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

Toshi: Well, actually I think I was at home and we heard it over the radio. My brother who was going to the University of Washington happened to be home. And when we first heard it, we just couldn't believe it but I remember thinking, Well, even if there is a war between the United States and Japan it wouldn't affect us. We're American citizens. You know, we really had that in our mind.

Jim: You weren't living in Japan, you hadn't just moved here from Japan. I mean, you were Americans going to American schools, speaking English. Did you speak a lot of Japanese growing up?

Toshi: Well, actually my parents spoke Japanese so we had to. So it was more like my parents spoke to us in half and half, you know, mostly in broken English and we spoke broken Japanese. And both my brother and I attended Japanese school all the years that we were there.

Jim: What was that like going back to school after Pearl Harbor because it happened on a Sunday - I think it happened on a Sunday?

One of the worst things I thought was, before we were told to pack up and everything, my father and my brother went to a place where they had to sign up to do this and they gave us all a tag and it didn’t have our name on it. All it had was 17337. I still remember the number. And so we were all numbered. We didn’t even have a name. And to me — you know, a lot of this is the indignation of having to go through something like this and not being a person any more, just being a number.

Toshi: Well actually it hadn't really sunk in yet you know, because we didn't have any fear about any kind of backlash at that time because we felt we weren't Japanese. Fortunately when we went to school no one reacted in that way either. It was only later as the war progressed that the the Caucasians began to react. In the first place when we go to high school you're kind of divided into your own group just like it is today and so you don't really have a lot of Caucasian friends. You'll have the occasional but not a lot and so that became even more evident after the war.

Jim: That split?

Toshi: Yeah, the split.

Jim: As a Japanese American did you feel that when Pearl Harbor happened there was a major difference in the way Japanese Americans were viewed? It's my impression that it wasn't so easy for Japanese Americans even before Pearl Harbor in some ways.

Toshi: Well yeah, there is definitely a lot of discrimination but you know when you are born with that you automatically assume that role as being the second citizen. What I mean by that is, that you know that there are certain things you can't do and you know there are certain people who are not going to treat you equal and that is something you grow up with so you just accept that as part of your life.

Jim: How old were you when Pearl Harbor happened?

Toshi: Oh, I must have been about seventeen.

Jim: It must have been odd to feel like a second citizen. You said you didn't know anything different but still you saw other people who didn't feel that way.

Toshi: Well, how do you mean that?

Jim: What did you think when you would see the Caucasian kids not going through the same things you were going through but in the same community, you're doing the same things. Were you aware of that? You said you grew up with it but at a certain point there must have been a time where you felt, Well, this is different.

Toshi: No, actually no. Because it's like when you are born poor, you know there are certain things you can't do and so it's the same thing with discrimination. There are certain things you know that is not your right and so you just accept that.

Jim: But you weren't expecting to have this happen because you were -

Toshi: No. Actually this part was a big shock and so when President Roosevelt signed that bill to intern us, I felt so betrayed because I thought, This is my president doing this to me and I really you know, felt betrayed.

Jim: In talking to some of the other folks when we did the other World War II show, there's that feeling that when Pearl Harbor happened Americans were united and there was this rallying cry and there was a swell of American pride. Kind of like what we had a little bit after 9/11.

Toshi: Right.

Jim: There was that "We're all Americans, we're in this together." A different experience if you were Japanese Americans when Pearl Harbor happened?

Toshi: It is. It is and it isn't because we know that just by our face we're Japanese and so I remember telling my brother, I said, "Well, what is going to happen to us? What kind of backlash are we going to get?" And that was kind of fearful - that we didn't know how our Caucasian friends would receive us after this happened.

Jim: And how did they?

Toshi: Actually at school like I told you, you know at first it was okay, but as the war progressed then the feeling toward us was not very friendly. My mother did housework for the Caucasian people but there was no discrimination there at all. They were very kind to us.

Jim: Did you find that there were people who treated you differently who you weren't expecting it from? You know, people who had been friends who were Caucasians who all of a sudden -

Toshi: Oh, yeah, there was a lot. One incident that I wrote in my book about and this is true, about this one lady I used to babysit for her. When we knew that we had to go to camp I had this beautiful Japanese doll and I wanted to keep it because it was from my uncle in Japan and so I took it to her home and I asked her to keep it for me until I got back. And she wouldn't open the door for me. She just kind of cracked open the door to speak to me and she said, "You can't be here. You have to leave. My friends around here all work for the FBI and if they see you here they are really going to be angry at me." And I remember taking the doll and just leaving it on her porch and leaving. And I was so disappointed because before the war she was so friendly to me and she accepted me into her family and she trusted me with her children and now it was totally different.

Jim: How did you happen to hear that you were going to be going to the camps?

Toshi: Well, because they had posters all over the place. These huge posters that - you probably read about it - saying that we were going to be interned and of course you know that sort of thing goes through the community like wild fire. And when that happened we just couldn't believe it, you know. They were saying all people of Japanese descent will be sent to the internment camp and we're saying, Well, how could they do that when we're Americans? We had a kind of an understanding of why they would want to do that to our parents because they were not American although they weren't allowed to become American, but that's another story. And so things got pretty heated there and so we had a lot of meetings down at a place called Nikofan. The JACL tried to explain to us what was happening.

Jim: They, the Caucasians or they, the other Japanese?

Toshi: The Japanese.

Jim: You said they were trying to explain what was going on and tell you after you had seen all these posters.

Toshi: There was a lot of controversy there, you know, and we did have a lot of meetings down there. You know the thing is, when you are that age - seventeen and eighteen - you don't think about the political part of this, you know. In fact, we were so naïve. Most of us weren't savvy about the politics of what was happening but all we knew was we were Americans and the question was, Well, why are we being treated like this? But in spite of all this, many of us didn't think that they would go through with it, with internment and so when they said that we would go to a temporary camp we all decided that we would go. Then they sent out messages saying that we'll be sent to a permanent camp which would be better, but it wasn't. It was the same.

Jim: What was it like packing up and leaving? Did you take a bunch of stuff?

Toshi: Well, we were just told to take what we can carry so mine was the bedding that I had and one suitcase full of clothes. See, one thing about being poor is you don't have a lot so that was not a problem.

Jim: What were some of the thing that you had to leave behind?

Toshi: Well, for one like that little doll that I told you about. I had a piano that was really quite nice and we had to sell that and we sold that for twenty-five dollars. And I remember my mother put an ad in the paper and there were three Caucasian adults who came over to look at it and they were from a local school. I can't remember which school it was. And so she told them she would sell it to them for twenty-five dollars. She said, "But before you take the piano away I want you to hear my daughter play the piano," and they didn't want to do this. She made them sit down and then she made me go to the piano and play. For me, I knew how these three Caucasians were feeling and they were very uncomfortable sitting there watching me play the piano but that was my mother's revenge. And so when they left she slammed the door and goes, "Humph!"

Jim: Do you remember what you played?

Toshi: No, I don't. That was the worst five minutes of my life.

Jim: I get these images in my head reading your book and hearing what other people said. We hear about people leaving their homes and getting in trucks or trains or things like that and heading for the camps. Help me understand what that day was like, when you actually knew you were leaving. Was it a truck or a train? What happened? What was it like for you?

Toshi: When we left I remember taking everything down to the corner of East Alder. We had to walk about a block and it was pre-determined exactly where the bus would be and when we got to the bus stop there was a soldier with a rifle. He didn't point it at us, he just had it, you know. He had it slung in the back of him and one of the worst things I thought was before we were told to pack up and everything, my father and my brother went to a place where they had to sign up to do this and they gave us all a tag and it didn't have our name on it. All it had was 17337. I still remember the number. And so we were all numbered. We didn't even have a name. And to me, you know, a lot of this is the indignation of having to go through something like this and not being a person anymore, just being a number.

After we packed what we can carry then, going back to the bus, for some reason we all decided that we're going to make the best of this. We were kind of joking with each other and laughing and got on the bus to the train station. And I thought one of the worst things that I can remember about that was how the soldiers were lined parallel to the train as we walked to the opening of the train to get in, to go in.

And the ride - I don't remember too much about it except that my mother kept telling me, sit up straight and everybody was quiet. No one spoke. It was a really lonely ride all the way to Idaho.

Jim: And then when you got there was it better or worse than what you expected?

Toshi: Well, you mean to Minidoka or to Puyallup?

Jim: When you got to Minidoka.

Toshi: Oh, to Minidoka. When we got to Minidoka, my gosh, it wasn't any different than Puyallup when in fact they had built it in such a hurry that a lot of things weren't done. Like we still had to use a regular outhouse type of thing you know, that sort of thing. And we're still talking about these barracks you know were just tar paper and you could see the slats in the walls where the greenwoods don't match and many times during the sand storms - they had many sand storms in Minidoka - it would just seep right through the wall.

Jim: When we were back at the National Archives in Washington I saw some old films. Old films that I would almost call, almost like propaganda films of the Japanese couples showing up with their suitcases and the soldier would come up and smile and take their bags and walk them to their -

Toshi: Oh yeah, I'm sure.

Jim: Not exactly what it was like?

Toshi: No. No, it wasn't. No. You know a lot of the memories have dimmed but there are certain things you know you do remember. I felt more like cattle being shoved into one area. You know, that kind of a feeling. To this day I hate to wait in line. You know when you have lots of people that's what happens you know. Everything you do you have to wait in line. Wait in line to have your physical, wait in line to sign up.

Jim: Do you remember the living quarters with your family? Were you in a big barracks or what was that like?

Toshi: No, we were in a small room since there were only four of us so we had the end room which was not very large. It had four army cots in there and at that time they didn't have the regular mattress so they gave us a kind of a mattress cover and we had to go to a barn there and fill it with straw. That's how unprepared they were. When you are young you really don't think those kind of things are terrible so you just learn to live with what you have. But I do recall that first night. You know the straw isn't the best thing to sleep on and you can hear it, you know just the straw squishing away.

Jim: What time of year was that when you went in?

Toshi: It was in the summer time.

Jim: In the summer time. It was pretty warm out there.

Toshi: Yeah, it is warm out there.

Jim: What was it like for your parents? You talk about being your age and not being that bad, but what was it like for them? What did it do to them?

Toshi: Well, you know when you are at that age, you're young, you are so involved with your own life. Your parents are kind of the - how would you say it - they are the ones that you look up to and they never showed their feelings about anything. Except that with me, I don't know why, but my father decided he didn't want to stay with us and he moved up to the bachelor quarters. And I think a lot of that has to do with his manlihood being challenged as a person and as a man.

Jim: What was that like for you as a young girl and for your mom and your brother?

Toshi: Yes, my brother was there. Well, actually it was a relief for me because the family no longer had to put up with his rages which he used to go into. You know, looking back now I'm sure that his rage had a lot to do with what was happening and what he could not control.

Jim: Did that happen to many men or was he one of the only married men with a family that ended up in the bachelors' quarters, or was that - ?

Toshi: I don't know of any other. Most of the families that I know, that I'm aware of, stayed together. I know that there have been some suicides. I don't know personally.

Jim: What was day to day life like there? At some point I assume you got into some sort of a routine with things you did.

Toshi: It was boring because there is nothing to do. But eventually we all were able to find some kind of work to do and my brother and I actually ended up in the hospital ward which was very gratifying.

Jim: How old was your brother at the time?

Toshi: My brother was a couple of years older than I was.

Jim: Did you get much news of the outside world, what was going on?

Toshi: No, not really and I don't think I was that - I'm just speaking for myself - but I didn't have that interest because I was trying to deal with every day life you know, in camp. It was a readjustment in learning how to cope with camp life.

Jim: What were some of the hardest things that you had to readjust to and cope with being out there?

Toshi: I think it was more mentally than anything else. Physically, we never had much anyway because our family was very poor. What we had in camp was even worse. But the physical part I don't think is as bad as just the indignation that you feel, the feeling of being rejected and losing your dignity and being rejected by your own country. And that's the kind of feeling I had and so I could not even socialize with my peers. So I kind of cut myself off from my friends although I had a small group of friends that I used to be friends with.

Jim: What was it like for your mom? It sounds like she sort of ended up being the head of the family?

Toshi: Yeah. Actually thinking back now I thought she handled it pretty well. There wasn't much she could do and she found some things to do also. In fact all of us did.

Jim: You talked about not feeling like a person, you were just a number. You had this tag assigned to you and number assigned to you and feeling like it took away your self, kind of like you were a non-person being in there. In talking about the camps some people have used the terms that they were like concentration camps and some people are very uncomfortable with putting that name on it. Do you think that's appropriate or not appropriate?

Toshi: Well, Roosevelt himself called it a concentration camp. I don't know why I can't. And I do call it a concentration camp. No, we were not put to death or anything but it didn't take the guards very much excuse to shoot someone if they wanted to. You know, if they felt they had to. So when the guns are turned into the camp, what do you call that? It wasn't to protect us. The funny part about this is that as time went by the guards also started to relax. I remember the first day at camp I had to go to the latrine and this was probably about ten o'clock and I can feel the flood light following me all the way to the latrine, and followed me all the way back again.

Jim: There's a historical society out there that has pictures and things from those days from the camps. One of the things they had was what I would almost think of as yearbooks from the camps.

Toshi: Oh, yes.

Jim: And everybody was sort of out in front and sitting and smiling. Do you remember that? Taking those pictures and things like that?

Toshi: You know I didn't stay very long and so I think they did that after I left but I do have a copy that my mother had.

Jim: From the outside, like I talked about, these sort of propaganda films they had of everybody looking happy and smiling doing their jobs and all that. Did you ever feel that you were sort of being propped up to look like it wasn't so bad or was there any of that going on?

Toshi: Well, we didn't know that they were doing that type of thing. It was never brought up to us. In fact, this is the first time I'm hearing about it.

Jim: It was interesting, I mean it was funny because we were back looking for film or video tape of the camps and all that we found were these sort of bizarre films with smiling and the guy saying, "And they moved into the camps." It was very like you'd see on the old newsreels or something. How long were you in the camp?

Toshi: I was there about a year.

Jim: How did you end up getting out of the camp?

Toshi: Well that was my main mission in camp, was to get out. So when I heard that as long as you had a job that was not in California that you can apply for it. And I didn't have any skills of course at that time so I applied for a house girl and many of the young girls did that in order to get out and I found one in Toledo, Ohio and that's how I got out.

Jim: What was that like - leaving and heading out and leaving your family behind?

Toshi: Yes. Well actually I was glad to get out. That was my main purpose was to leave camp. By then my brother had volunteered so he was gone and my mother seemed to be satisfied staying there and I knew nothing would happen to her and so like a typical teenager I just went out on my own.

Jim: Thoughts of leaving your father?

Toshi: Yes. I did go to him before I left and I said goodbye to him.

Jim: What did he say? What was that like saying goodbye to your father?

Toshi: Well, he didn't say much. He just said, "If that is what you want to do then you should do it."

Jim: The title of your book is Endure. In reading the book I know there is the Japanese term for that.

Toshi: Yes. It's called Gaman.

Jim: Tell me about that. What it means and why that was so important to you.

Toshi: Well, when I wrote this book I really wrote it for my granddaughter because as she was growing up she heard about the internment camp and wanted to know about it. And like many Nisei, I didn't want to talk about it and I finally told her, I said, "You know, if you stop pestering me I'll write you a book on it," and she made me hold my word you know. So I did. I did write it. It took me a long time. Took me almost eight years. In between time I had, you know, writers block and I didn't want to really write it but I finally did it before she graduated from high school. And so it was for her that I wrote the book. And as I was writing it I realized that you know, she needs to know about this. It's important. And so I wrote it in the third person which was much easier for me to deal with. So I took all the experience I had and also from other people, the experience that they had. I wanted to call the book Endure. Actually, I wanted to call it Gaman but the publisher thought that was not a good word because the Caucasians would not - people that buy the book wouldn't understand it and so I look in a dictionary for a long time trying to find another word but it just wouldn't come up. There was no other word for gaman except endure and that's how endure came about.

Jim: Why is the word "gaman" so important to you?

Toshi: Because that's what we did from the very beginning. We endured. And the thing is there wasn't anything else we could do. It was part of the way I was raised. It was something that you needed to do. That's why it's important to me.

Jim: Part of the way I started working on this show is I was talking to people who had grown up in Idaho during World War II. I wasn't planning on talking to them about the camps and all that was going on, and I started asking them what that was like, did they know of the camps? They all knew about the camps. And today there is a lot spoken about that sense of sort of collective guilt about what happened. I think that people feel bad that we did this to other Americans. However, when I ask these folks during these interviews, "What did you think of these camps and seeing these people sent in there and put away for their own safety, what did you think of that?" All of them said basically some version of, "We felt bad but it was the right thing to do. We were worried. We didn't know what they were going to do to us."

Toshi: It depends on who you talk to. I notice that even my friends - if they were even two or three years, even one year younger than I was, they had a totally different take on what I had. So it depends on where you were coming from and where you were at that time. In fact many of my friends tell me, you know, that are two or three years younger than me, "Oh, I had a blast. I played." And they did. So it depends on the person.

Jim: What do you think of the Caucasians saying, "It was the right thing to do. Well, it's too bad but we needed to send them away. We were scared that they were going to come after us or something."

Toshi: Well, I think they are victims of the politics of that day. They didn't know all the information so I can't fault them for that. It's like anything else you know, I mean you believe whatever the media and the government tells you.

Jim: Someone said, "We didn't know, we were afraid, we didn't know what was in their hearts."

Toshi: Well, I lay that down to discrimination and not knowing us the way we are. It's the same thing that is going on today.

Jim: In talking with Hero Shiosaki, he said that when he was going in the Army and his father took him aside and said that he needed to fight bravely for America, that he was an American and die if you have to but fight as hard as you can. And to hear that balanced against people saying we didn't know what was in their hearts, it's an interesting juxtaposition.

Toshi: Well you know, when my brother George volunteered for the Army - actually the Army came into the camp to find volunteers in spite of what they tell you. And my brother actually went up to tell them off, said, "Well, why should I?" And so when he came back I said, "Well, did you tell them off?" And he said, "No, I volunteered." I was so angry at him. I said, "They do this to us and you are volunteering?" And I really got into it with him but after a few days I realized that he really had to go to prove something. It wasn't right but he had to go. So I had to accept it so I was going back and forth on this. But I knew that I had to support my brother and I couldn't let him leave with him thinking that I didn't approve. So we did make up and he did volunteer and fortunately he did come back. But it was a very difficult time for us. It split up a lot of the families in camp.

Jim: When the sons decided to go?

Toshi: Yes.

Jim: Volunteer? Why was there such a split?

Toshi: Because some of the parents, and rightfully so, didn't feel like their sons should have to go - especially to volunteer when they were put in camp. That's where the "no-no boys" come in as you know about them. So you see it depends where you are coming from. There is no right or wrong about this. I don't fault the no-no boys for doing what they did.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about that because I think some folks don't know what that is about.

Toshi: Oh, okay. The no-no boys are the ones that refused to go if they were drafted or they didn't want to volunteer because they were saying, If you want us to go then you should release all our parents from camp. We shouldn't be in camp and that's not the way the government looked at that and so they were called the no-no boys. If I were a young man at that time I probably would have -

Jim: I've heard some people say that their families were very proud of them.

Toshi: You're talking about the volunteers?

Jim: Yes.

Toshi: Well, here again I think it was an individual thing. Remember my husband Dave saying that when he volunteered there were a lot of people that were very angry at him and so they had to kind of sneak him out. Otherwise he would have been attacked and beaten up by these people who were opposing that type of thing. There were a lot that were not in camp they probably will never hear about. It's not all this rah rah thing that you hear. There are a lot of thoughts that are never put out in the open.

Jim: Why is that? Why don't we hear more about that?

Toshi: Because we are Japanese Americans and we don't always say what we think probably. And you are dealing with many, many people who are coming from different backgrounds and of course they are going to have different ideas and the way they interpret things.

Jim: And as you said there's a reluctance from many people who were in the camp to talk about this at all.

Toshi: Exactly. They still are.

Jim: And why is that? Because people go through other things that are terrible tragedies in their lives and things happen and injustices and people talk about them. They go on Oprah you know.

Toshi: Yeah, right.

Jim: We live in a society where so much of that is so out in the open. Why not this?

Toshi: It's probably a cultural thing because I think most of us felt like we were ashamed that this happened to us. That we were ashamed. It's something that we don't want to bring out in the open. That's the only way I can explain this but it is a cultural thing.

Jim: One thing that people have said that it's remarkable how many of the people, the men that were in the 442nd, with the rah rah and the patriotism that we talked about and a lack of bitterness. Do you think that that is genuine or do you think there is more bitterness there than we're seeing or hearing?

Toshi: I think there is bitterness there but I think we've learned to live with it. I know I had a lot of bitterness and I had to work it out. It took me about ten years to get over it before I realized what it was doing to me. The boys that went into the 442nd did it for a good reason and I'm sure today that if they hadn't gone, we wouldn't be where we are today. They had a lot to do with the acceptance of the Japanese Americans being where we are today.

Jim: There were many discriminatory laws back then. There's no avoiding the fact that they were discriminatory. Not everyone saw them as bad back then but things like what kind of property you could and couldn't own and -

Toshi: It's a matter of being equal.

Jim: And that you were equal enough to go fight for the country.

Toshi: Right.

Jim: And that a lot of those laws did eventually get broken down.

Toshi: Yes.

Jim: Because of what happened and the 442's contribution to all that. Your husband was in and you certainly know people who served and friends and family. How do you think back on those men who did serve, who joined and fought over there?

Toshi: How do I think back on them?

Jim: Is it pride?

Toshi: Yes, it is. A lot of pride. I think it took a lot of courage to do what they did knowing that they may not be accepted. As it was they were formed into one group, just the Japanese Americans. They weren't assimilated into the different groups. So that tells you there is discrimination there if you want to call it that but in the long run it did work out. Oh yeah. If you talk to any Nisei they are very proud of the 442 and what they did and what they stood for.

Jim: There has been a lot made lately of the Tom Brokaw book The Greatest Generation and talk about all the boys who served back in World War II. Does it feel to you like it was a great generation? Do you have a different perspective on that, do you think?

Toshi: Can you clarify that?

Jim: I think sometimes you talk to people about World War II and it's almost painted with this golden brush of nostalgia. There was wonderful music and people were happy and while the war was hard it was this wonderful golden age for America. People go back and they like to think about. Do you feel like that or is it something different?

Toshi: Well, you have to be realistic about that kind of stuff you know. We lived in another world and the Tom Brokaw of that generation of course lived in their world, so you are talking about two different worlds. So I never even tried to analyze that because my world is totally different. It doesn't belong there.

Jim: That's interesting because people who lived through that who are old enough to remember it, I think so many people hold on to that as if that was their generation. That was the time when they felt the most alive.

Toshi: Well, that's their perspective.

Jim: How is it different for you?

Toshi: Well, I think it was a growing period for me, going through the internment and having to accept it and having to come out and then start a new life again. In a way it was the best of my world too because I'm where I am today because of that.

Jim: What was it like for your parents on the other side of the camps?

Toshi: Meaning?

Jim: Once they got out.

Toshi: Oh, once they got out. At that time I was living in Chicago so when they closed the camp then my mother came to live with me and we found a small little apartment in Chicago and shortly after that my father joined us and we were a family again.

Jim: What was that like for you and for them to try to pick up again after that many years?

Toshi: It was like it never happened. He just walked in, and nothing was said and they picked up where they left off. At least in my family that's the way it worked. Nothing is ever said. You just pick it up where you left off. It was as if it never happened. As if he never left.

Jim: Did you ever talk with your parents about that?

Toshi: Oh, you didn't do that in those days. We didn't have that kind of relationship that my daughter and I have today where we can sit down and talk things out. You didn't do that with your parents. That was their business, not mine.

Jim: You talk about talking with your daughter, writing the book for your granddaughter. When kids ask you about those days, being in the camp, how do you explain it to them? Other than saying, "Read my book." How do you sit down and tell what it was like one-on-one?

Toshi: Well, I just try to tell them the truth, what it was like to live in those days of discrimination. I try to be honest with her. With her it's a lot easier because she's a third generation and her mind is more open to different aspects of politics, the government and what is going on today. They are much more savvy than we ever were so to me it's a lot easier to talk to her.

Jim: And what about the personal things that you went through as far as what that was like for you as a girl living there?

Toshi: I don't find that difficult anymore to talk about it. It has been a lot easier. My granddaughter and I have a very close relationship and so it makes it a lot easier to talk to her.

Jim: Living in the camp on a day-to-day basis when you think back you said some things have sort of faded away into time. What do you remember? What are some of the things that stand out the most about the time you spent in there?

Toshi: Well, the thing I remember the most was all I could think about was how much I wanted to get out of there. That was my main thing.

Jim: When you say getting out. Did you ever think of escape or just -

Toshi: No. I knew that would be impossible. Trying to escape would have been a death sentence. No. Nothing that dramatic. I just wanted to get out of camp. I was not happy there. I was never a student. Never was in Seattle and I wasn't going to finish my senior year in camp. Fortunately this one teacher, Gladys Gilbertson, talked me into finishing school. So thanks to her I could do what I did later.

Jim: That is an intense time of your life. Seventeen, eighteen years old. That's when a lot of things are going on personally and socially.

Toshi: Exactly.

Jim: And to go from that and be put in the middle of nowhere Idaho -

Toshi: Yes. I was one very angry teenager.

Jim: More so than most angry teenagers?

Toshi: I think so because a lot of them didn't feel the way I did. I'm just speaking from my experience.

Jim: You said you went back to a pilgrimage a couple of years ago. You said you don't go every year but what goes through your mind when you go back there now and see that country because there's not much there.

Toshi: No, there isn't much there so actually I had visited Minidoka many years ago and it was practically the same as it is now. The reason why I went to the pilgrimage is because I had just written the book and I took my granddaughter to Minidoka. And I was a little bit disappointed that there wasn't more to show her because here she's looking at this lush land there with all this green grass growing there and the farmlands there and I don't think that they gave her a very good you know view of what her grandmother was talking about. But what she did get out of it was the stories that people told and meeting other people who were there. So I don't think that the impact of the visit will hit her until she's a lot older.

Jim: What about for you going back and seeing it? Does it hit you at all?

Toshi: The only time it hit me really bad was when we got on the bus and they have to have that long tag again only this time it had pictures on them you know and I could remember I just felt this real pang of anger that just swelled up in me when I saw that. But other than that, because Minidoka is what it is today, it was just very sort of nostalgic.

Jim: What do people need to remember about what happened out there, do you think?

Toshi: Well, that is hard. There is a lot that you could say but to sum it up, we need to know that people are all the same. They are not really that much different no matter where they come from. We all have the same kind of feeling, we all have the same kind of discrimination and we need to learn to know each other better and to love each other as people. One of the sayings in the Bible says, love one another.

Jim: We talked about the bitterness. It certainly has its place, but do you think it's worth hanging on to that?

Toshi: No, I don't. When you hang on to bitterness it destroys your life, my life. It's not worth it.

Jim: So if you could sit down with FDR and talk to him what would you say to him now?

Toshi: I forgive you. You did what you had to do.

Jim: And no more -

Toshi: No more.

Jim: Anything else we should know? I don't want to take up your entire day doing this. You've been so gracious.

Toshi: No.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Dr. Tetsuden Kashima is a Professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington. He gave this speech at the "Civil Liberties Symposium II: Presidential Powers In Wartime" at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, June 2007. This symposium was held in conjunction with the 2007 Pilgrimage to Camp Minidoka organized by the Friends of Minidoka, a group that supports the Minidoka Internment National Monument.

I'm a sociologist and I've followed historians before but following these two historians in particular - Dr. Sims and Dr. Robinson - is a pretty formidable task. So I'm up here with a great deal of trepidation, especially because what I was going to say about 9066 has been covered so aptly and so I'm sort of rearranging my thoughts. At the university we often are told to be able to be flexible in class although what my main problem I think in class is, that the issue we have with students in a sense that we talk until they go into slumber, and so fitting the apt description of a college professor as someone who talks in your sleep. Before I do that then I'd like to just say a few words so I catch you when you are sort of wide awake.

I want to, this morning, talk about two particular points with respect to the presidential authority during war time - and the first is to talk about two measures. Certainly you've heard about EO9066, but there is another one that has a very close relationship with EO9066 that also affected persons of Japanese ancestry and other persons of non-Japanese ancestry as well. And I want to go a little bit more into that.

And then following that, maybe to make some comments about certain areas of the Second World War under 9066 and the second measure and how it affected various other kinds of individuals, including Jewish refugees from Europe, including people who were designated and labeled as the most troublesome or recalcitrant or the most difficult persons who were taken and the kind of treatment meted out to them under the auspices of these two particular wartime measures signed by, authorized by, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

So, let me just quickly start with the fact that during the Second World War President Roosevelt inaugurated two measures - the first EO9066 but the second one was called the Alien Enemies Act about two months even before the signing of EO9066 on February 19, 1942. This Alien Enemies Act was signed in terms of the official proclamation on December 7, 1941 after the naval forces of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. But there is some, I think, legitimate reasons to believe that perhaps it was signed after that date, on December 8th and again later for another group on December 11th.

Now the Enemy Aliens Act is one that was started way back in 1798 -under 1798 as a third article of the Aliens and Sedition Act and then also sort of re-worked in 1918. The Alien Enemies Act is one in which in terms of the Declaration, it says, "Immediately upon declaration of war and if and when an invasion or predatory incursion is perpetrated, attempted or threatened against the Territory of the United States by any foreign nation or government, natives or citizens of the hostile nation 14 years and older may be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed as enemy aliens." After December - actually on December 1st - December 7, 1941, the government of the United States authorized especially its military and justice department to apprehend persons who had been in the main pre-designated as persons who were dangerous enemy aliens and to secure them for what came out to be - for some individuals until the end of the war and for others as well - until 1947, or two years after the war. Included in this group, which is separate from EO9066 came a total of about 32,000 people - actually, 31,899. Of this number the majority were persons of Japanese ancestry. Mainly Japanese Issei men.

Let me make a point here. Japanese Americans and Quid Americans are perhaps the only two groups in America that designate groups of individuals away from the original immigrant generation. Most of us in America - all coming from immigrant stock come from areas in which we designate - only have two designations in terms of the people who come over. The original immigrants and then later we call them American born. And in fact the humorous point among the Chinese is that they have two labels: FOB and ABCs, Foreign born Chinese and American born Chinese. But the Japanese and Koreans designate generations away from the original, so they do it numerically in terms of the Japanese and for the Koreans in terms of the Korean. Japanese first generation immigrants are called Issei. Their children are called the Nisei and they are American born. Then we have third generation, Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei. I'm a Nisei by birth. My mother and father were both Issei. My wife is a Sansei and so our children really are fourth generation Yonsei and we know in Hawaii that there are people who are already fifth and sixth generation Japanese Americans and these generational classifications are not something that sociologists made up. They were part of the classifications used by the community persons and so to indicate different characterological traits, especially social histories. So the Isseis who came were from Japan, spoke Japanese and really could not become American citizens until 1952. They were ineligible for naturalization after the Ozello case and that was allowed in terms of the McCarren-Walter Act in 1952. The Niseis were American citizens and so are the Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei. Is that okay so far, if I just say Nisei and Sansei? I hope some of you understand that. The point is that under the Alien Enemies Act then with 32,000 persons taken the majority, or 17,400, were Japanese Issei men. There were also some women and also some Nisei taken as well. And along with the 17,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, there were 11,500 German, mainly aliens, a few women and a few German-Americans as well, 2,730 Italian Nationals. No women as far as I could find and 183 others living in the United States. They were taken and interned in Justice Department camps and War Department camps usually for the remainder of the war.

This alien enemy situation resulted in about thirty-four different camps of different types and of different duration of existence. Initially, just as with the Japanese Americans who were taken under 9066, there were temporary detention stations and most of them were in the Immigration Naturalization Service stations that were like in San Pedro or in Seattle or in Sharp Park down in California. They are the equivalent to our Tanforan, our Santa Anita Race Track or euphemistically called Camp Harmony up in Seattle. There, the people were taken and then given a hearing. Now a hearing was not one in which it is going to a particular court of law. The people who were brought and given their hearings here were sat down before usually three persons plus an FBI agent and three persons were really community folks. In Nevada for example there was the newspaper editor. There was also a local judge and I think a business person and then the FBI agent. And they heard the evidence and the evidence was prior FBI investigatory findings that had been then reviewed by a committee within the Justice Department called the Special Defense Unit.

The person who was an alien who was picked up after December 7th - and it went on for months and even for years - could not be represented by council. All they could do was to say yes or no to certain kinds of issues and to answer certain questions. "Were you a member of the Kokuryu-ko, the Black Dragon Society?" probably the most famous one that we have that filled the yellow journalism of the World War II period. The Black Dragon Society. I mean just that name is - it evokes terror in all Americans. Or they asked questions such as this, "If you were standing on the beach and the Japanese Navy was coming toward you and in back of you were the American soldiers defending the Pacific coast, which way would you turn and fire?" For the Germans, one question was, "If you are in the Mississippi and the German submarine was coming up the Mississippi River and the Americans were behind you, which way would you fire?"

These are actual questions. You could not be represented by council and Edward Ennis who was head of the Alien Enemies Control Unit told me that all a person had to say was, 'no' and if there is evidence that there was no prior difficulties with respect to their suspect or dangerous classification status that they could be let free. And numbers of them were let free. However, for especially the Japanese, we now know that people who had been asked and acted as translators for these people in the hearings - because they were first generation folks and so they didn't have a very good command of English - we find some very anomalous situations.

As Herb Nicholson, a missionary from Japan, helped translate and he had helped and saw the results of folks, he gave one particular case in Nevada in which I think there were about fifty Issei men who were brought in because they were suspected to be dangerous because they had allowed about a dollar of their paycheck to go to the War Relief Fund for Japan when Japan was fighting China before December 7, 1941. What happened is that of the fifty then, twenty-five of the people were let go and twenty-five were kept for permanent internment and Nicholson asked why these twenty-five people were let go and twenty-five people were kept with the same kind of record and received no answer and Nicholson also then told the FBI, "Folks, you know all these hearings that I have been in you haven't found one shred of evidence as to the real danger to the United States." Moreover Nicholson said, "I don't think you found a single speck of evidence in all your hearings about the dangerousness of these Isseis. They are fine folks." And what Nicholson didn't tell the FBI person in that Nevada hearing was that he had been talking to other Justice Department figures and they had told him that they hadn't found any information - but Nicholson couldn't say that to the particular FBI agent he was talking to. But the FBI agent just shrugged him off and people were sent for permanent internment just as our War Relocation Authority camps and kept there for the duration of the war and more than that. These folks who were taken - before I get into that let me give you and make it up close and personal with a particular story:

There's a man named Genji Mihara from Seattle and later I'll tie back into EO9066 and his consequences because my assertion is that there is a relationship, a very close relationship between actions that occurred under 9066 and those that occurred with respect to the Alien Enemies Act. Mr. Genji Mihara had a small restaurant in Seattle on December 7, 1941. When he was arrested, there were four charges brought against him:

One was that his mother, father and sister were living in Japan. A second one was that he was a member of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Seattle. A third was that he had given money to the widows . . . as he was the Vice President of the Seattle Japanese language school PTA and the Justice Department had made the conclusion that being a member of a Japanese language school meant that you were helping to propagate Japanese nationalist ideas to Nisei children who went to the Japanese language schools because all the texts were in Japanese and the text was written in Japanese, and so that was true.

Based upon this then they kept him for permanent internment. We now know that later when he was re-investigated after a number of years in the camps the Justice Department gave him a triple plus rating as being an outstanding individual who posed no threat to the United States and therefore he was released. But before that - so he was arrested on December 7, 1941 and he stayed at the Seattle Immigration Naturalization Service Station until December 23rd. From there he was taken to Missoula, Montana and stayed there until June of '42. From there he was taken to an Army camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico where he stayed there until 1943 and then he was released. But he couldn't go home so the only place he could go was where his families were at, and that was in the War Relocation Authority camp in Minidoka. Was Mr. Mihara a dangerous person? I don't think there is any shred of evidence that in fact he was, but he was kept separated from family and his friends for years.

What happened in the camp? Here I think I would like to quote a story of a man named - or the father of a man named - Mr. Jim Okutsu. Jim Okutsu is also from Seattle and he also - and his family without the father - were also in the Minidoka War Relocation Authority camp. Mr. Okutsu, testifying in front of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, said, quote "News came that my father was sent to the Maximum Security Prisoner of War Camp in Louisiana and that he was very sick. This was a most trying time on my mother. I could see it tearing her apart - mentally, physically - and there was nothing I could do. In the winter of 1943 we got a wire instructing someone to meet my father at the gate by noon. On the way an old man asked me where the Okutsus lived. I pointed to the direction for him but after waiting three hours at the gate I returned to my barrack. I couldn't believe my eyes. The old man whom I had directed earlier in the day was my father. We hadn't recognized each other. Although my mother felt relieved that my father was back it was a shock to see him in such an emaciated condition. Shortly thereafter she started to get weaker and finally succumbed to a total physical breakdown. My mother's death a few years later was directly attributed to the evacuation."

And so Mr. Mihara and Mr. Okutsu came to the War Relocation Authority camp in Minidoka, the residents there being held under Executive Order 9066 and Public Law 503 as Professor Sims and Professor Robinson so aptly gave you the details. That event has called this the defining event in history of Japanese Americans. That statement is I think true and also can be modified in some way. What we see is that the defining moment really as Professor Robinson talked about was one that didn't occur after December 7, 1941. Its beginning for me started way back in the 1920s when in the Pacific - quite rightly so - the American Government Special Naval Intelligence saw Japan as probably the only military militarily able to threaten the United States in the Pacific and they started to gather intelligence as to what Japan as a particular nation might do. After all, Japan was a nation that was the first Asian nation to win against a European or Caucasian nation in the Russo-Japanese War. It surprised everyone and scared many people outside of Asia.

And so Japan was seen to be a nation in which we had to look out and watch what they were doing. Certainly as part of this then the investigation of persons of Japanese ancestry in America was a logical case. But what I'm not trying to say is that the initial investigation targeted American citizens of Japanese ancestry - the Nisei. After all, in the 1920s and '30s the Nisei were hardly born or those who were born were quite young. The target was Iseis and it wasn't until the late '30s and 1940, '41 that the expansion of persons of Japanese ancestry started to include the Nisei, especially the older Nisei.

My interpretation of this then is that when we talk about the effects of Executive Order 9066 that to me it gets sort of complex in the sense that initially what was going to happen if a war came was aimed at Isei and that is why from the 1939, 1940 period there were discussions between Justice Department and the War Department on what to do when we were going to have a war and initially the war would be concerned with Europe but in the Pacific it was against Japan. And in 1941, in about the middle months, there was agreement between Justice and War as to what to do with people of nationalities of countries with whom we were at war and that is why the Alien Enemies Act was already ready to be signed by the President on the Declaration of War.

However, see the problem to me is that President Roosevelt declared war on December 8th but hadn't proclaimed a war until then publicly and the Alien Enemies Act requires that there be a public proclamation of some sort. And yet people, both German, Italian and Japanese people who were pre-designated were summarily arrested on December 7th and taken as enemy aliens.

But in wartime as Professor Robinson quite aptly points out, things occur when you have that kind of situation but I think in terms of the Constitution and legally, the cart came before the horse in this situation. It's because then of the Alien Enemies Act and then later of the Executive Order 9066 that we find a plethora under the authority of the President of different kinds of holding establishments that authorized various individuals to be placed in certain categories that they could placed in - out of harm's way - for some and in one particular case for humanitarian purposes. Under the Alien Enemies Act, under the proclamation with respect to Germany, Japan and Italy they could be taken and put into the detention stations and the Justice Department camps like Missoula, like Lordsburg that I had mentioned before. And in fact there are about thirty-four of them.

Before the Japanese there were six main camps, especially places like Lordsburg run by the Army and Santa Fe run by the Justice Department. For the 9066 we have obviously the temporary places, the assembly centers and the War Relocation camps. But under 9066 we also have other camps in which individuals who were seen to be different in some way were taken out.

There was a riot in Manzanar in December of 1942 and because of that the "troublemakers" were taken out of Manzanar in mid California and then taken to three particular places, one which is in Utah, the Moab camp right about five miles north of Arches. It's a desolate place now. It used to be an old CCC camp and there they were held until it became too small, they thought because more people would be designated as troublemakers within the War Relocation camps and then a new place was created in Loop, Arizona and taken down there. These people were American citizens. If in fact they were aliens then they could be taken under the Alien Enemies Act out of Manzanar and some were and taken to an alien enemies camp. Is that clear?

Now for those folks then they were the troublemakers. There were also people who were considered to be pro-American in Manzanar who were then threatened by the quote "anti-American." And really it was not anti-American so much as the people in Manzanar and all the camps by December '42 were people who had been subjected to extreme circumstances and actions. They were summarily taken from their homes after EO9066 in April, May, June, put into assembly centers, horse trailers, horse stalls and things like that then put into desolate areas, at that time Minidoka, and people were angry, scared, because they didn't know long they were going to stay. They were forced to suffer conditions they weren't used to with respect to what happened from their homes in southern California or Bellevue or whatever. And quite naturally many of the tensions started to boil by December of '42 and so that to me is one of the reasons why we have this riot, quote "riot", in Manzanar. I won't go into it because there is not much time but there are plenty of books available that describe what happened there.

The end result, however, was the creation of the one camp with respect to Moab and Loop for the troublemakers. Another camp for people who were seen to be pro WRA, pro-American in Death Valley called Cow Creek. These people were allowed to leave there and then to enter into places outside the West Coast, especially like in Denver and places east. There weren't too many of these, only a handful, but what happened is the government created these other camps under the 9066. And then after that, the 9066, then Tule Lake was re-designated from a relocation camp to a segregation camp and I think many of you might know that story but there are plenty of books available. In fact out there, there are two fine books, "Personal Justice Denied", the report on the commission on wartime relocation in terms of civilians, and then "Confinement and Ethnicity" an anthropological book giving you pictures of before, during and after the whole - especially at the War Relocation Authority camps.

So the story is well known but my point is to show and to talk about and to give examples of certain other camps coming under 9066 or Alien Enemies Act. Then where the Tule Lake Camp was re-designated as a segregation camp, the Justice Department also had a camp for their troublemakers - German and Japanese. There are only about seventeen Japanese by the way who were seen as troublemakers and these were often the people who were at Tule Lake as part of the people who had protested the issues there. And because of the turmoil that had gone on there, the government in 1944 allowed Niseis to renounce their citizenship in time of war.

. . . . as aliens and they be treated as if they were Isseis. They were then taken - all five hundred - and Tule Lake about five thousand Niseis renounced their citizenship and we now know that it was because of the turmoil and the internal conditions that were so horrendous in the segregation camp fostered by the Tule Lake camp director, a man named Raymond R. Best and also by the Justice Department folks who in a telegraph said, "The reason why we want to have this renunciation law is so that we can get rid of the Nisei troublemakers." As American citizens they couldn't do what they could with the aliens on the Alien Enemies Act but once they renounced their citizenship then they were aliens that could come under the Alien Enemies Act and thus removed - and even deported as some people were.

And so these people, five hundred of them, were taken down to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and alien enemies camp, and from there many of them, about seventeen, were seen to be the most troublesome people, they were taken to Fort Stanton, New Mexico, the Justice Department segregation camp where a few of the German prisoners with respect to aliens also were there. And the German segregates were there because they tried to escape from the alien enemies camp in Germany. Or in one case, this guy was starting a boxing school ostensibly perhaps, thought the Justice Department, so they would box and fight against the Justice Department guards and so they were considered to be troublemakers so they brought them out and they were kept in this place called Fort Stanton. And interestingly, Fort Stanton was a place in which the Justice Department decided that they would not tell the relatives of those Japanese sergeants where this camp was. They just called it Japanese Segregation Camp #1. All mail was supposed to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico and then routed back to the Fort Stanton camp. But because of the way our bureaucracy works, some of the relatives found out where their fathers, oldest sons were held in Fort Stanton. The point however is, this is another type of camp created under the authority of the Alien Enemies Act.

I think the question was raised about Jewish refugees and Professor Robinson knows more than he has said here obviously, but we found that the refugee camps in Europe were being overflowed with Jewish refugees and also other groups who were fleeing Nazi tyranny. And so President Roosevelt was asked to open up some places in America, in the United States, to take care of this overflow, but he met with various kinds of resistance from Walter Winchell and from other people who saw this as a way that President Roosevelt was trying to bring in an inordinate numbers of persons of Jewish faith into America. And so there was political pressure there and so the end result only a thousand Jewish - well, mainly Jewish refugees from Europe - were allowed to come in. And they were kept in an unused Army facility - I think it was New Jersey - anyway, on the East Coast. The point here is that the authority with respect to their treatment was given to the War Relocation Authority because they had the most immediate experience in working with the civilian population who could be seen as civilian prisoners of war and again, the authority for the WRA comes from eventually executive order 9066 so that's the tie-in with respect to the Presidential powers.

And then with the internment hotels. Luxurious places run by the State Department to hold especially the ambassadors and the consulates of nations with whom we are at war and we treated them well. They had soirees and ate steak and drank champagne and could order things from Montgomery Ward catalogues and Sears Roebuck catalogues. Was it because we were benign? No. It was because if we didn't treat these people well, the State Department argued persuasively, that in fact our diplomatic folks in Germany or Japan or Italy that were kept there as well under their Alien Enemies control unit would face perhaps harsh reprisal as well. But if you compare the treatment of the Japanese ambassador and the German ambassador and others to what happened in Minidoka, Idaho there is really no comparison in that sense of looking out for the interest of the individuals.

Now, under 9066 there is another part that I think bears some introduction. This is the fact that there were some German and Italian individuals who might have come under EO9066. We know that there were because there was a program called an Individual Exclusion Program that was promulgated from August 19, 1942 to really the end of the war but it was sort of ended in July of '43 and into '44. The Individual Exclusion Program was aimed at picking up American citizens of German and Italian ancestry but not to put them away. It was only to exclude them out of the areas designated in terms of an exclusion area and this went across both the Western Defense Command, The Southern Defense Command and the Eastern Defense Command. In all, about 563 mainly German Americans were then picked up and their cases were reviewed and of that number, 254 were actually excluded from the either Western Defense Command especially but the Southern Defense Command and the Eastern Defense Command.

Now there are some differences between the treatment of these German and Italian Americans when you compare them with the other Japanese Americans under EO9066. First, each of these persons had individual hearings and at the hearings they could be represented by council. And when the first people protested, what happened was that the Army decided if anyone was going to institute any lawsuits they sort of just dropped the lawsuit and let the person go. In fact, Attorney General Biddle objected to this whole program on the grounds that it was probably unconstitutional and he refused to prosecute persons that the military wished to exclude from certain areas. It got to the point where one person, Andrillo Silvianno was excluded from the West Coast and the Army found out that he had traveled to Washington DC and was talking to some Justice Department officials and so the Army sent a military police to the Justice Department to try to arrest and to take Silvianno and apparently the Justice Department just told Silvianno to leave by the back door and so they couldn't get him. Eventually however, the action of the Individual Exclusion Program really didn't amount to much because by that time in '44 the commanding general of the Hawaii Defense Command became head of the Western Defense Command. General Eamans took over General Dewitt's position and General Eamans reviewed all the Western Defense Command individual hearings and cases and rescinded pretty much all of them. It is in deep contrast to the arrest and exclusion of nearly 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, from that which took place with respect to certain Italian and German ancestry folks.

The other point that I want to make is with respect to presidential authorized measures and this is that whatever the President signed, it must be enforced either wholeheartedly or with some reluctance, or all reluctance by other individuals. And here as Professor Robinson aptly points out, Hawaii can be seen to be - must be seen to be - another kind of case in that situation. He and I were privileged to be in Hawaii together to see a film by Tom Kaufman called "The First Battle: The Battle for Equality in Wartime Hawaii." And as you now know as he reported to you, the general in Hawaii was under orders to do something about persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii and there, there were more persons of Japanese ancestry than on the West Coast. They had been bombed by Japan. It was a strategic military place in the Pacific but there was no mass incarceration. Now, General Eamans did not disobey the order given to him by the War Department. What he did however was, selectively enforced the order and he sort of trumped the War Department's orders by saying he had other things to do like winning the war in the Pacific.

As such then, we hear on the mainland that one of the reasons why Hawaii never had this type of mass incarceration was because of the labor issue. People said, Well, if General Eamans had taken all persons of Japanese ancestry and put them, as one suggestion was, to put the Isseis on a deserted island in Hawaii - the Molokai Island I think it was, where the leper colony was and then later to remove persons of Japanese ancestry, the Niseis, to the mainland - it would have decimated the labor force in Hawaii and therefore Eamans didn't do that. That's what Eamans wrote in his telegrams to the War Department to say, "I'm going to go slow," but as an FBI agent had reported to J. Edgar Hoover, Eamans had made the decision quickly - oh no, a little later on - that he wasn't going to do this mass expulsion and I think he did it using the extensive labor issue as the reason but it is more complex than that. As Tom Kaufman points out, during the second World War, over a million people went through Hawaii and so people came through and Kaufman so argues I think - to me persuasively - that the mainland could have supplanted and replaced all the labor that would be taken out if we had removed the Japanese ancestry folks. So labor certainly would have caused a problem but it's not, I don't think, necessarily to be seen as the only issue.

What else happened in Hawaii was this. The Japanese constituted a large segment of the population of Hawaii. They were more integrated in Hawaii than on the West Coast. Their social history was such, it was more recognized by persons in Hawaii, and also there was much better and frequent interaction between persons of Japanese ancestry, Chinese ancestry and non-Asian ancestry there, so that they knew each other and had no necessary fear that there would be a mass uprising by persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii to do harms way into the Second World War.

Again, this film is an important way to show that what happened on the West Coast didn't have to happen because it didn't happen in Hawaii. And moreover, the valiant record of the 442nd and the military intelligence people attest to the loyalty of persons of Japanese ancestry and the people in Hawaii knew that. When the call went out for volunteers in Hawaii, ten thousand Niseis in Hawaii volunteered. When the call went out for volunteers from the West Coast, it was a dismal number but you are asking people who are behind barbed wire fences like Minidoka to volunteer for service? Daniel Inouye, senator said, "You know, we from Hawaii, once we found that out, realized how differently we were treated from the people on the mainland, although the people on the mainland spoke more weirdly than we did in Hawaii."

I want to close this really by talking only about the issue - to me the larger issue here - and this is to say that it is something that I hope we don't forget. That we all as Americans consider that the most important principle that to me was lost during that time was a violation of civil liberties but based on the issue of the lack of equality. And I had written before these words:

"Of the many lessons to learn from the incarceration and internment of Japanese Americans in the Second World War, these are the most prominent: the United States has practiced equality for some since its founding days yet equality for all is the goal. Obtaining this lofty end requires at least a modicum of understanding of others. We as a nation must take care not to base our actions on prejudice and stereotypes. The doors to equal treatment have widened in the last seven decades but securing equality for all is still a distant and we hope an achievable goal. It is therefore important to know not only why the expulsion and imprisonment of the Japanese Americans during World War II took place but also how that terrible process unfolded. I'm saying this process requires insights into the methods by which a nation could carry out such a large scaled miscarriage of justice. Only by making the American populace aware can we assure that such injustices will never affect another group of Americans."

And allow me to close with the only joke that I've heard that originates in the nearby war relocation camp. Although many of you have heard me say it before, it bears repeating and since it's a pun I'll say it and then explain it:

What did the Japanese American Mickey Mouse say to his girlfriend? Minnie Doka.

For those of you who didn't laugh, although you maybe did not laugh because of the translation, the Japanese word "doka" means in English "how are you?" Thus Minnie Doka means, "Minnie, how are you?"

And the answer from I think at least all the Niseis who were in Minidoka during World War II was, Get me out of here.

Thank you very much.

The nephew of Fumiko Hayashida, Frank Kitamoto was put in the Minidoka relocation center as a young boy. He is now a dentist on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Jim: Tell me your name please.

Frank: I'm Frank Kitamoto.

Jim: And what town do you live in now?

Frank: What town? I live on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Jim: When were you in the camp?

Frank: Uh, let's see. Bainbridge Island was the first group to be sent to concentration camps so we went to Manzanar and we were there from April first, April Fools Day, until February and then we were transferred to Minidoka, so we were in Manzanar for about eleven months and then came into Minidoka in February of the following year.

Jim: You were pretty young. You don't have a lot of vivid memories?

Frank: No, I was two and a half when I left Bainbridge Island, six when I came back from Minidoka so I probably remember more about Minidoka than I do Manzanar.

Jim: We're focusing on Minidoka from the Idaho standpoint. What are some of your early memories?

Frank: Uh, boy, you know mostly things kids remember. I remember playing in the sand around the barracks. I remember my cousin liking to eat sand and I don't really know why but she always ate sand. I was always getting into trouble. Memorable things - I know I took a pack of cigarettes from my dad's dresser once and went into the barrack and smoked the whole pack and I was really sick for maybe a week or so but I did give up smoking when I was five years old. I remember that. I remember going to a Miss Minidoka contest and sitting in the front row and when the winner was announced everybody surged forward and trampled me into the gravel so I ended up in the hospital. That's where they picked gravel out of me. Uh, gee, what else? I remember the older kids having ping-pong. I mean, having spit wad fights with rubber bands and paper that they rolled up into spit wads and they would tip the ping-pong tables over and shoot at each other and when they were out of ammunition they had us little kids run out there and pick up all the ammunition for the next round. I remember some of the kids had dug a big network of tunnels. We were in the last block so they dug a big network of tunnels and they let me go in the tunnels. It was kind of amazing to see what they had done. So just kind of things like that, you know.

Jim: It's different talking to you. The folks we have talked to - there's a wide range of memories.

One of the things people say when they come to Minidoka is, "This doesn't look anything like it was when we were here before," because a lot of the areas are so green and some of that greenness I think was possible because of the irrigation ditches that the people who were incarcerated had to dig.

Frank: Yes.

Jim: Some hard memories, some nice memories.

Frank: Yes.

Jim: Your memories are kind of like those - sounds like any other kid. Do you feel that way?

Frank: Yeah. Well, you know when you are little you are pretty resilient and you don't really know there is anything else. I mean, my earliest memories of childhood are in concentration camps so I wouldn't have known whether I was missing out on anything or if there was a better way to be living or not because that's just the way things were. That's where I was and that's how things happened.

Jim: What was it like for your parents do you think, probably different?

Frank: Oh, I'm sure it was terrible for them. In my mother's case, we were taken away from the island. My dad had already been rounded up by the FBI so she was left with us four kids and I was two and a half, my youngest sister was nine months, my next sister was five and my oldest sister was seven so she had to contend with us four kids at the same time, having to get her affairs in order at home, because he was taken away on about the fifth of February right after Pearl Harbor and we got our notices on March 30. So it was probably almost a good two months that she had to cope without my father being there.

Jim: How did she do?

Frank: I think she did well. She was a very resilient woman, very intelligent. She only went to sixth grade but I always wondered how come she was smarter than I was and I went through college. I think she was the type of person who just felt like things had to be done and you just did them.

Jim: One of the things I heard was at the beginning you weren't allowed to take very much with you when you went to the camps.

Frank: No. We could only take what we could carry and of course in those days you didn't have these big suitcases with wheels on them so it was just a question of what you could fit into the suitcase that you had and in a lot of cases they had to actually go out and buy suitcases because they didn't have suitcases so you tried to get the biggest one you could get but at the same time if you got a big one you wouldn't be able to carry it so it was kind of like juggling what you wanted to bring and not bring and it was a big decision to decide.

Jim: What's it like coming back here? You have childhood memories. Coming back here and watching you with your Aunt, what's that like?

Frank: You know, the first time I came back I had kind of mixed feelings about it. I didn't know what I would think and how I would feel but there is just something about returning to a place where you knew that your childhood was and coming to a place that you know wasn't that good of an experience for a lot of adults and that it was a place where we were confined and had to be, and it was almost like being in a sacred place. A place that you just wouldn't have that feeling until you came back to visit it again. I don't think I really had any experiences where I feel like I can finally let anything go or anything like that because I was so little when that happened but you can almost feel the things that you had to go through while you were there and maybe understand more about what the adults talk about when they talk about being in "camps".

Jim: There was a moment when your aunt got out there where the old potato thing was and she got up there and she could kind of look over where the barracks were. She said "Wow, all I can say is wow."

Frank: Yeah. You know, when she was here she had kids that were really young. Her youngest daughter was about the same age as my youngest sister so she was about eleven months when she left and she was actually pregnant when she left the island so her youngest son was born in Manzanar and her oldest son was the same age as I was so she had kids that ranged from a few months to about two and a half, three years old so she had three kids in diapers. She said she just didn't get very far away from her barrack because she spent all her time looking after the three kids. So, I think although you kind of knew this is really a big place, to really get back and sense how gigantic it really was when you think about it, I think that and a lot of other things probably made her say "wow," yeah.

Jim: Is it possible for you to see some of this through her eyes, when you come out here?

Frank: Yeah, I can in a sense because you know she is my mother's sister and it's nice to be able to talk to someone who remembers some of the things that went on because a lot of the things that were there are things I've either never known or have forgotten or have just blocked out because if anybody asked me about details I probably wouldn't be able to tell them other than these snippets of things that happened to me. Like I wouldn't know what our room looked like, where the bunk beds were. Those kinds of things I probably wouldn't know at all or wouldn't remember so it's very gratifying for me to be able to see things through her but at the same time I can see where it had really, really been tough on her - to have the kids so young and having to be stuck here. I think she said before that it's not something she would wish on anybody and that wars aren't good for anything and they never will be. I've heard her say that before.

Jim: Did your parents talk about this much?

Frank: No. I think in general, not. I think in 1983 three of us third generation guys that were older tried to start an oral history project to interview people to talk about their experiences here and we really had a hard time. Not very many people wanted to talk about it. They actually called us angry young men you know and thought that we were really out of line trying to get information about what happened. But as the years went by and more people became more supportive of that it became easier for people to talk about it. I know my mom talked about it quite a bit in her later years but I never had the opportunity to talk to my father about it because he died in '67 and I don't think I was even interested and I was struggling with my own identity as far as who I was and maybe going through school wishing I wasn't Japanese because I didn't feel like it was a good deal to be one - or of Japanese ancestry anyway.

Jim: You talk about your identity, and trying to find that. I know there was a time when everybody's identity at one of the camps was limited to these little things you wore but these have names on them. What were those like?

Frank: They had numbers on them. No names. Numbers. In our case they were probably family numbers but they also were tied into where you would be put in the train when you were eventually put in the train to be sent to concentration camps so they were I.D. tags. I know because we could only take what we could carry I chose to carry my rubber John Deere tractor because that's what I thought was most important to me but I can see pictures where my tractor had a tag too. So I think everything was tagged.

Jim: You talked about coming into the camps on trains. I know some people came in trucks and stuff. I was thinking about that today when you guys were rolling in on the bus.

Frank: Yeah. When we went to Manzanar we were trained for two days and then I think we went into Mojave, California and then we were bussed from there to Manzanar so we were bussed probably for a portion of the ride too.

Jim: All the people that are here today, taking a bus with the tags on…. There have to be some similarities there…

Frank: Very much so, very much so. You know, I didn't ride the bus from Seattle this year but I've done it in the past and it's really a good experience, a lot of it because of the things they do on the bus to make everybody know each other and the things, exercises and the things they do. But that ride itself makes you more aware of how far we had to come to go to the concentration camp and how desolate it was. One of the things people say when they come to Minidoka is, "This doesn't look anything like it was when we were here before," because a lot of the areas are so green and some of that greenness I think was possible because of the irrigation ditches that the people who were incarcerated had to dig. But it's true, it looks so much more fertile here than it did when we were here. And also I think Twin Falls has come closer to us by the way it has grown, because you get surprised because it's only fifteen to twenty miles away from Twin Falls and we're thinking it was just miles and miles away from everything. But with transportation having improved and the city here, right now it just seems like, gee, you weren't that far from civilization. But it was really like another world being there.

Jim: You use the word concentration camp. That is sometimes controversial.

Frank: Yeah, it is. Yeah. It is controversial because I think it just immediately brings up visions of the death camps in Nazi Germany but it really is the proper term because that's the term that was used at that time by President Roosevelt, President Truman, most of the Cabinet members. In Life Magazine they actually called it a concentration camp and if you look at the definition of a concentration camp in the dictionary, it just really fits us to a tee. We were there for political reasons, we were an ethnic group that was singled out so it does fit us and I think it's more of a proper term to use than a relocation camp because relocations are usually done for people's benefits and this just wasn't done for our benefit, so -

Jim: But they said it was.

Frank: Yes. Yes except the barbed wire was around us and the guard towers and the machine guns and the search lights were pointed in at us instead of away from us so it made you kind of think maybe it wasn't for our protection.

Jim: There is lingering bitterness, there is anger. Do you feel that or not?

Frank: You know, that's an interesting question because I think there is no definite answer you can give to that to a person. Myself, I was probably too young to really feel bitter about it. The same time I know it affected who I was as a person and my perception of myself. Some people ask me, "Why don't you speak Japanese? It's kind of a shame you don't," and I say "Hey, it wasn't popular to speak Japanese." And our parents, when we got back from concentration camp, did everything they could to make us try to assimilate and fit in and they didn't see teaching us Japanese as really a good way to go and we didn't see speaking Japanese as a good way to go. In a lot of ways it was probably difficult, very difficult for us.

Jim: It was a decision President Roosevelt made. Ever thought about if you had the chance to talk to him what you'd say?

Frank: About this decision about sending us to concentration camps? Gee, I've never really thought about that other than I know things like that are kind of going on now and there are some things I feel like I would like to say. I guess in a lot of ways I'm thinking as Japanese Americans we talk about the injustice that was done to us, we talk about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and those are legal bases for saying this is wrong for us but at the same time I'm also thinking those have been in existence for a lot of years and even if they are in existence this stuff just keeps happening. So, I think there is more to not letting this happen again than just the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Laws are kind of made to protect us from each other and I think they are fear based. They are not caring based and I think the missing element is us caring for each other and the more fear we have of who we are and losing our own powers or being seen as a person less than we'd like to be, the less possible it becomes to think about the other person and I'm thinking there's got to be a way for people to somehow get over that fear of self protectionism to be able to care for each other and say, Hey, this is a human thing and not particularly a law thing where we need to accomplish to have something like this not happen again.

Jim: It was interesting, we did a World War II documentary about World War II in Idaho and talking to some of the folks who were around back then, just regular folks who lived in Idaho, I asked them about the camps and I have to admit I was expecting this sort of sense of collective guilt that you hear from Caucasians in those days. Instead what I got was, Well, it's too bad but we didn't know what they were going to do. We didn't know what was in their hearts.

Frank: That's right. Yeah, I think when people are under the stress of fear for themselves a person becomes very self centered and worries more about themselves and how an action may affect another person and a lot of times when we become so fearful of losing our power or our identity or our safeness, it becomes important for us to be able to find a reason to defend that by doing something and I think in a case like that it becomes hard to identify that you may have done something wrong to a group a people that may not be justified so maybe somewhere along the line here we'll be able to help people realize that power is not really military or strength or the Patriot Act or home security. Really the authentic power is really how you care for each other and the more human you can be and the more soulful you are, the better this world will be because you know when you get right down to it that's the purpose in life, is caring for each other, not how you can influence someone or manipulate someone.

Jim: One of the groups that came out of this whole experience were the guys that went into the 442nd. What do you think about those guys?

Frank: I think they really feel strongly to go out and fight for their country would justify their loyalty and to show that they were really true Americans and that in a lot of cases I think they were fighting for their families back in the concentration camps and at the same time I know there were people that didn't want to go in the service and they refused and protested and say, "We won't go in unless you free our parents and our brothers and sisters," and I know in a lot of cases they were chastised by not only the public in general but also other Japanese Americans or Americans of Japanese descent who felt that they were being either cowards or not being good Americans by doing that. When I think about it now as an adult I'm thinking that the people who protest and refuse to go in, in a lot of ways are probably braver than the person that went in because they were willing to stand up for their beliefs and to risk being incarcerated even further in federal prisons and penitentiaries and I don't think that's an easy thing to do - to stand up for your rights, especially when the pressure from the group in general is for you to volunteer or be drafted and serve in the military. I think that was really hard to do

Jim: Those guys were called something, weren't they?

Frank: They were either called resisters - they weren't really conscientious objectors, they were resisters - and there were also people that were called no-no boys who refused to sign a loyalty oath for the government but the ones who refused to go into the service I think were called resisters.

Jim: Kind of a dicey place to be in back in those days.

Frank: Definitely. Yeah, I think most of them ended up in federal prison for even a longer term than we were in concentration camps, so -

Jim: One of the things I've heard, when we've talked to folks is we talked about the resistance to talk about this stuff and now you talk about how people are talking about it more and there seems to be sort of a spirit of - I've heard people say we need to spread the word.

Frank: Right.

Jim: What word? What does that mean to folks, do you think?

Frank: You know I've heard people say before that as far as groups that have immigrated here in the United States, the Americans of Japanese descent were probably the only group that have had that happen to them where they have been singled out, sent to concentration camps and so forth. And in a lot of ways that has kind of stunted our growth, mostly because made to lose a lot of things, but also because they felt like they were beat back. Although in nature, it was from the way most Japanese grew up they tended to be people that were not supposed to show their emotions, not supposed to show their bitterness because that means you were blaming other people for your station in life or to show anger against authority because that was shameful to do because if you did that it meant you thought your leader or your supposed leader was not good enough a person to be your leader. For it was hard for undue criticism but in a way though, we have probably experienced more than any other Asian group anyway, how to get along, how to assimilate, how to work cooperatively with the majority. And although you'll find a lot of the new Asian immigrants will progress two or three times faster than we ever did economically, the skill of being able to be human, to relate and so forth is something that we've had to learn and we've had to do. Because of that I think our legacy really is to help other groups - get along is not a good word. It's more to be more non-confrontive - and I don't mean being meek - I mean being able to work things out, being able to work in a consensus rather than through anger and I think because of that it's very important for people to know the things that have happened to us so we can show people what can happen if we're not careful about our own liberties and the possibilities that can happen if people tend to become overprotective. And I think that's our legacy - to be able to help people work things out in a way that may be more peaceful than through anger or violence or those kinds of things.

Jim: What do you carry back out with you?

Frank: You don't get very much opportunity to really get together with people that have had common experience especially of your own ethnic background. We live in a world now where we're not isolated into a community where we're all Japanese Americans or Americans of Japanese descent and it is nice once in a while to be able to get together with people that you know have a common background with you, although they're not all the same, and to feel that commonness. I know one time at a meeting a person that was younger than me who never went through internment was sitting there while the rest of us were talking about our experiences in concentration camp and he got up and said, "You know, I envy you," and I said, "You envy us?" You know, we went through this thing that was kind of horrendous. He said, "Yeah, you know because you know I'm sitting here listening to you talk, you guys, and you have a common feeling and a commonness and a feeling of closeness because you've gone through this experience and you've been able to overcome it that I may never have." And I thought, Well you know he's got a point there. He really does and in a lot of ways when we get together with each other you kind of admire each other, you kind of feel like, What was your experience, this was mine, and just the sharing and being able to be together just kind of renews you in a certain way.

Jim: Do you wish your mom could be here for this?

Frank: Oh definitely, yeah, definitely. My mom was a real great person. She only had a sixth grade education but my dad had a jewelry story in Seattle so my mom ran the farm and she was a very innovative woman. She would start out with strawberries and because she was competing with everybody else with strawberries she went to raspberries which was the next season and then she started her own irrigation system and when the raspberries got too hard for her as she was getting older she pulled up all the raspberries and planted Christmas trees and had a Christmas tree farm for a lot of years. So she was just a woman who was very innovative, a very kind person, very strong person although I know she had her times of self-doubt. She just was a person who saw what she had to do and just did it so, yes, I really miss her. Yeah. And it's been a lot of years since she passed. I think she passed away in '96 so it's been about eleven years. But yeah, it would have been really great if she and my aunt could be here and, not just my aunt. In a lot of ways I think my aunt who is here, who is 96, and she's next to the youngest child. The youngest child is still in Japan. She actually went back to Japan with my grandfather after being born on Bainbridge. He went back in 1935 before the war but she and my mother were probably the closest sisters. They were very close together as far as talking to each other. I remember them talking every day on the phone and so it was, in a lot of ways, I was very sad to see my mother go.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Cloris Knox grew up in Boise and attended Boise High during the war years.

Jim: You moved to Boise from South Dakota, right?

Cloris: And I remember traveling in a Model T Ford and I remember coming across the mountains and I thought, "Oh we're never going to get there." It was this long, long trip and I finally . . . I knew in my brain that it wasn't true . . . but I'd look at those mountains behind us and think, "Well home is just on the other side of those mountains." I really knew it wasn't true, but it kind of consoled me to realize that I wasn't that far from home.

Jim: What was this area like in those days?

Cloris: It seems like too big of city sometimes. When we came it was not too different from Rapid City. They still used the drive-in to the curb parking and if you see pictures from those days there were a lot of old, old cars, Model T's and so forth that didn't even have windows, I mean didn't have roll up windows. But in those days the stores downtown, the main part of downtown was just from 8th street to 10th and there were other buildings, but I mean that's where this main shopping part was and mostly on Idaho Street a few, on Main and every store had nice big display windows and used to be fun to drive through at night, just to see what the displays were. They were always pretty and always lighted. And so its kind of not much fun to drive through downtown Boise anymore.

Jim: What were the big stores back then?

Cloris: No Macy's. Where we have a Macy's today was CC Anderson and CC Anderson was a person that lived on Warm Springs Avenue and everybody knew which house was his, so it was much different. Woolworth was here and Woolworth's had a little soda fountain at the front of their store, Cresse's didn't have that, but they had clerks behind every counter. There was no self-service kind of thing, even grocery stores didn't have self-service, well maybe, by '41. Albertsons opened their first door in '39 and Safeway's was here and those grocery stores were like today where you had a basket and you picked up your own things. We lived out east of Garfield School and that was just farmland and country and now I go out there it gives me claustrophobia, just so crowded. We did a lot of shopping at the what would be called a shopping center now. On the corner of Broadway and Boise Avenue there was a little business district and you shopped with the same people you knew. You'd go into the store, you knew everybody and they knew you. In that little grocery store you told ‘em what you wanted and they went and took it off the shelf for you. In fact, and if you didn't have the money that day, they'd put it on a tab.

Jim: Did they have restaurants downtown?

Cloris: Not very many. There were restaurants in the hotels and we had the Idanha and the Owyhee of course was there and the Hotel Boise had been built in in the early 30s. In fact it was built after we moved here. So I watched that go up and that was pretty exciting. And of course all those hotels had restaurants and then there was a place called the Mechanafe, if anybody hasn't mentioned that before. You sat in a booth and then beside you there was a window with little glass doors and this mechanical belt just kept moving past with food on it and there was an upper level that you took your food out and a lower level that you put your dirty dishes in and that went back to the kitchen. That was here for two to three years, but that was a fun place to go and it was fairly cheap.

Jim: And where was that?

Cloris: It was downtown, right downtown Boise yeah, it was called the Mechanafe .

Jim: Somebody mentioned that there used to be a big city hall.

Cloris: Yes, the old city hall was something that I think was a real shame that was torn down and I think that's what got the citizens of Boise interested in preserving what we had because everything was being destroyed. I think they called that a Romanesque structure, it was almost like a fortress and kind of a round front but it sat back from the sidewalk enough that there was a great big water fountain in the corner of it. It was on 8th and and Idaho.

Jim: And I heard it's been replaced by a lovely parking garage?

Cloris: Well for a long time it was nothing, I think there was a drug store in there for a while and it was years before they even got around to putting the parking garage in there.

Jim: A great trade, wasn't it?

Cloris: Well it took up a lot of space and it was probably in pretty bad condition, but at the same time it was something that was historic and interesting architecture and something different.

Jim: What was a big Friday or Saturday night in Boise like back then, what would you do?

Cloris: I don't remember for sure, but I remember I was always busy lots of times if there wasn't something that we wanted to do, there were dance halls around. My father wasn't crazy about the idea of me going to that. I wanted to be usherette in this movie theater and he wouldn't let me do that. We had the Drive-In places, but I wanted to be a Car Hop and he wouldn't let me do that. But we were allowed to roll up the rug in our living room and have parties and danced on hardwood floors. So it made a pretty good dance floor. We'd go ice skating at the east end of the pond at Julia Davis Park. It was not all developed and landscaped like it is today. And it would freeze over and there was nobody there. I think maybe they did put up signs if the ice wasn't safe, but I think when we first started using it we had to test the ice ourselves. I lived out far enough that several neighbors had ponds for their animals and they would freeze and we'd skate there or hay rides and snow, take the horses, because practically everybody had horses out in that area. And we didn't have television to watch, but I do remember we had radio. I used to listen to Orphan Annie when I was, this was when I was still a kid before I went to high school. I'd come home from school and I'd sit on the floor right in front of the radio and see what Orphan Annie was doing that day. When I was in the second and third grade we lived on Woodlawn and of course most people had ice boxes. And the iceman came, and they had little signs that you'd put in the door if you wanted ice and how big, sometimes 100 lbs, 50 lbs, but when he was taking the ice into the house we would usually be out, in the summertime of course, out in the yard playing and we'd hear the truck coming and so we'd run over and while he was in the house we'd get a handful of these ice chips off the back of the truck. And if there weren't any handy he'd chip some off for us. It was very convenient.

Jim: Describing those days, it sounds like it was a pretty nice time to be a kid.

Cloris: I think as far as I'm concerned it was the best. I feel like we've got a lot of memories of doing things. We played together and we played tag and we played hide and go seek and we played Annie I Over . . . we'd toss a ball over a shed, a lot of people had sheds that or barns or something that were low enough and the toss the ball over and hop scotch and jacks and so forth and we were more active, much more active than we are today and the children are today.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Cloris: Well I had graduated from Boise High in June of '41 and that summer I worked out at Gowen Field. I quit when it was time for school and went over to Eugene and went to Northwest Christian College. I enrolled there and I took some classes at the University of Oregon. The Sunday Pearl Harbor was bombed I had walked to church with some friends. And we were on our way home and it happened to be a really nice Sunday. Hardly seemed like December. And we got close to the dorm and we heard all this yelling and we looked up and girls were hanging out the window yelling, "We're at war, we're at war, war has started." And of course we had been on edge about war for a long time because we were aware of what was going on in Europe and in the uh Asian countries too. Because Japan had been invading other countries, but the idea that Japan would ever get across the Pacific was the farthest thing from our minds. Of course everybody was in shock even though we just kind of were half anticipating it was going to happen. So then of course the young men all started enlisting.

Jim: What was that like? After the bombing happened was everything the same or did everything change do you think?

Cloris: Oh everything changed. The whole atmosphere, the attitude of everybody, was so different after that. There were times when you'd be having fun and forget about it, but it was never far from your mind. And there were so many, so many people . . . I've seen pictures where house after house would have a star in the window and I knew, I knew people whose sons or husbands were gone and overseas.

Jim: And it seems like, unlike now, it seems like everybody was part of the war effort, I mean everybody?

Cloris: Everybody was involved. You couldn't escape it, you know, because the blackouts and the rationing. You couldn't buy things and even, even if things weren't rationed they were hard to find usually because everything had been converted to the war effort.

Jim: You talk about how everybody was involved. Every single person we talked to talked about friends, loved ones, guys they dated that went over and didn't come back, everybody we've talked to has that experience.

Cloris: Well there were nine boys from our class that never came back and several people I knew other than the ones in our class that didn't come back. Our family was very lucky. My brother went and I had an uncle who had been in the National Guard and he went as an officer. My brother was private first class and then he got promoted to be a corporal, but he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He was always in trouble . . . and then he'd be a private first class again. But he came home and he was not wounded and my uncle was not wounded

Jim: What was scarce, what did you really want that was hard to get?

Cloris: Nylons. Nylon had been invented and it was used primarily for parachutes. And then they discovered how to make a grade that you could use for hose. Up to that time our stockings, our hose, were made out of either silk or cotton, different degrees of thickness and they weren't really pretty and, they were silk and silk was very fragile. The least little thing would snag it and then it would run. Our class happened to be the first class that went all through four years of high school where we never wore long stockings. We were allowed to wear, we called them anklets at the time, bobby socks today, so we were the first bobbysoxers.

Jim: Really?

Cloris: I mean Idaho is a fairly cold climate in the wintertime and so our mothers always . . . and I think in those days people thought that if you got cold you would catch a cold . . . and so we'd hide . . . I mean as soon as we'd get out of site we'd roll our stockings down and then before we got where our mothers could see us again we'd roll ‘em back up before we got home. We were wanting to wear bobby socks, and we didn't like the long stockings even the finer grade cotton I think they called it lisle, and even silk, we saved those for Sundays because they were so fragile. But when they invented nylon hose they were so much stronger and so much more durable and prettier because of the strength of the nylon's thread they were able to have a more sheer hose that would hold up than any of the other things. But nylons, they were hard to find and expensive even before the war. So they were a really welcome Christmas gift. I think I had three pair at the time of Pearl Harbor and one pair was still in good shape. But the others had gradually seen their better days. We were in an automobile accident on a Sunday, and no shatter proof windshields in those days, and besides most of the guys had old cars, and the windshield broke and I was surrounded by glass. The driver got out, my husband got out and here I was. I was afraid to move because I didn't know what would happen with all that glass and my husband looked at me and he said, "Are you okay?" And I said, "I don't know," but I could see my nylons had been ruined. There's a big chunk out of my leg and t turned out to be a fairly minor wound, and I was bleeding from a head wound . . . a piece of glass had hit me on the scalp . . . but all I could think about was that my nylons were ruined and that was my last good pair.

Jim: You talk about the flip side of things. You have a cash register slip for 32 items for?

Cloris: $6.00 for 32 items, that was my first grocery bill after I was married in '43 and the most expensive thing was 31¢, 25¢, 27¢ but there were items down 5, 6, 7, 9 cents and 32 and I don't I should have made a copy of that and marked down what they were, but I know some of that had to be meat.

Jim: It's just amazing that you could get anything, we can't buy anything for a nickel anymore.

Cloris: Well of course wages were commensurate with that too; they were pretty low in those days.

Jim: Was it really a wonderful time?

Cloris: We thought so, yeah. We had a good time. There was always something fun. We were aware that there was trouble in the world, the depression was no fun, but it was a whole lot less of a problem here in Boise. We always had a garden and even in town people could dig up part of their backyard or something and raised vegetables. I would have hated to be in a big city like New York or Chicago or even smaller places than that where you were crammed in with lots of people in tenement buildings and so forth. I can't imagine how awful it must've been for those people.

Jim: It's so memorable to people why do you think?

Cloris: Well because it was all consuming.

Jim: Was there a lot of, of worry?

Cloris: Oh yeah. They say some people beat their head against the wall because it feels so good when it stops. Well it's kind of like that. We were beating our heads against the wall there wasn't a whole lot we could do, but what we could do we did. We couldn't avoid it, there was no way to avoid it. I mean I guess if you were a hermit and went up in the mountains someplace and had no telephone, no radio, lived with the animals . . . and a few people did that or went to Canada . . . but if you were in civilization you were aware there was a war going on. Now today I think . . . of course this war we're in now is . . . it's a different kind of war. But I think that everybody needs to be aware that it is a war.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Genevieve McLaughlin Ison grew up in Pocatello and served with the WAVES. She worked on flights bringing soldiers, and often the wounded, back to their homes in the United States from the fighting overseas.

Jim: Tell me about where you grew up. You said you grew up where?

Genevieve: Grew up in Pocatello, grown and reared in Pocatello. In fact, I'd gone away to business college and it was still Pocatello, little town of Pocatello, and I was gone for three months, four months something like that. In the meantime, when I came back they had built the Pocatello Air Base and the town has never been the same. It was just climbing, swarming with the cutest little Army guys you've ever seen. Oh, I was so busy. Anyway, and I had so many of my dear friends of the guys I've dated, they end up working down overseas and were killed so I just decided that I got mad and I decided I had to -

So my dad, who's a very conservative Irishman, had a sporting good store and I told him I thought I was going to join the service and he nearly blew his top. "Good girls do not go into the service." He was, you know papas in those days, they were the boss of the house, so I had to outfox him. I went down to his store when it was full of his fishing buddies and everything, with the Navy chief and said I'd like to join and I remember the Chief said to my dad, "Oh, Mr. McLaughlin, don't worry she'll have a good time," and my dad grabbed the form and he grabbed the pencil and he says, "I hope she's miserable," and he signs his name, threw the pen down, and I was in the Navy and then I couldn't get out.

Jim: And for how long were you in?

Genevieve: I was in from January until the fall, for a year and a half.

Jim: What years?

Genevieve: God, you know I lie about my age so much I have to stop and figure out when it was. When was the war over?

Jim: Forty-six.

Genevieve: Forty-six. Okay then, I went in '45, '46 until June of '47.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about what you talked about, Pocatello, how you went, what was it like back in the '40s, I guess pre war.

Genevieve: Very quiet, very, very quiet. As I say, my dad had a sporting goods store and I got out of high school and went to business college. When I came back the town had completely changed and I got my first job on the railroad which was just marvelous. I had the best office in the Depot downtown. Of course it's closed now, which just breaks my heart when I go there, but we had just such a lovely office and a marvelous boss. I worked for Division Engineering. Troop trains would come through and whenever they did, all us gals, we'd walk out on the balcony and watch all these cute guys and they'd whistle at us and we'd whistle back at them and then after the train left we'd go back to work.

Jim: Now, I was thinking this was going to be another one of these, "Ah, shucks, I was just a small town girl from Pocatello and I was far too demure to ever whistle at any of these."

Genevieve: Oh God, I had a ball. I didn't miss a dance. My father, after he got over the shock and to realize that I could still be a good girl even if - I went to all of the dances at Memorial Hall and they had a bus that went out to the air base. I had one girlfriend that he approved of, one he didn't like, but one he approved of. And if I'd go with Alice I could get away with almost anything. Of course, I didn't drive. Kids didn't drive like they do now and we'd catch the bus and go out and dance out there. Then one contingent would be sent overseas and some new guys would move in and back to the drawing board.

Jim: Everybody I talk to about the '40s looks back and they get this sort of wistful nostalgic look in their eye like it was just this -

Genevieve: I'm not wistful. I'm a depression child. It was not a wistful time for me. My father had a sporting goods store, there were four children in the family and it was a struggle. The air base being built in Pocatello really relieved a lot of our financial anxieties and then, as I say, I got a job at the railroad. My sister, my older sister, was teaching school for eighty bucks a month and I got a job as a messenger at the railroad for $125. She was so mad at me because she had gone to school for two years at Airmo. and here she was teaching for eighty dollars and I got this great job. That was the hardest thing about going to the service was to leave, and by then I'd worked my way up as a secretary and I was making a hundred eighty bucks a month. Hog heaven! Boy, I couldn't get to the stores fast enough on payday and so it was hard to leave that. It really was, it was hard to leave that money. But as I say, it was an emotional decision. I had so many friends who had been killed and I just thought -

Jim: Gonna go get 'em?

Genevieve: Yeah.

Jim: Well, it's interesting that you say that it was hard times because I think there's a tendency sometimes for people to talk about the war years, and not just during the war, but the time leading up to the war, and through the war, that it was this sort of wonderful time painted in golden light and it -

Genevieve: Oh, it was.

Jim: But you hear that, don't you?

Genevieve: When I think of my very early years before the depression, I think of painted in light, for some reason. Isn't it funny? My memories all seem bright with sunshine, playing in the front yard, out in the street because there wasn't enough traffic or anything. But then after the depression hit, my dad - and he had a fairly successful store in Pocatello and then he lost everything and had to start all over again - and from then on, my memories are gray. I can't and I wouldn't think of it except you mentioned sunlight and there was just no sunlight until when I came back from business school and got my job. And by then the air base had been built and the town, when I came back, was just completely changed. You couldn't get into a restaurant, lined up to go into the Chief Theater or the Orpheum or whatever and it was very exciting.

Jim: I'm taking notes as we're talking just because one of the things I want to do is try to find pictures of some of these places. The old depot is still there isn't it?

Genevieve: The old depot's still there. The last time I saw it though it'd had been abandoned. I went up to my old office.

Jim: Yeah, it's just kind of boarded up.

Genevieve: Oh, it just broke my heart because that was such a lovely place.

Jim: What was the feel of the town when you walked around and saw people?

Genevieve: Camaraderie, camaraderie. As I said, my dad had a sporting goods store and he was also on the council at Fort Hall so he was quite an active sportsman and well respected in Pocatello. We weren't very well off, but my dad was highly respected and everybody in town would come in to Ben McLaughlin's Sporting Goods Store and shoot the bull and then there was always somebody in there. I knew everyone in town of course because everybody had been in dad's store. We kids worked in my dad's store from the time we could look over the top of the counter and help one for sale of licenses or whatever or watch the store when dad had to do an errand and so everybody knew us, Ben McLaughlin's kids. So we had to toe the line because if it got back to dad we'd be in big trouble.

Jim: First of all, what'd you do for fun though? You talked about the dances, but what did you do for fun?

Genevieve: Well, I mentioned about playing in the streets. Every neighborhood had a vacant lot and you played marbles or jacks or ran and I was the fastest runner in the neighborhood so I always got to play in all the games. And when we had the money we went to a movie once a week and as I said we helped my dad at the store and my mother worked at the store too. There were three of us and we had a kid brother, three girls and a kid brother, and we took care of him and helped keep up the house when mother was at the store and -

Jim: What was it like, dating in those days? You talked about all these servicemen coming through and all that stuff, but what was that like? You make it sound like a feeding frenzy.

Genevieve: It was for me because I had never dated anybody. I never had a date in high school or anything. I was very shy and when I came back I sort of blossomed and went to the dances, went to movies. Of course my father was a very strict Irishman family man, we were a tight family. Although I dated and I enjoyed it and everything, I was always a good girl. I never went further than I think a few of the girls did. I wouldn't have had the nerve. If my father would've found out I would have been thrashed for good.

Jim: What was it like? You talked about how the servicemen would come through and it was obviously a lot of fun. And at the same time it must've been tinged with a certain something because they were headed off to war.

Genevieve: They were going, yeah. Very emotional all the time. I met quite a few of the guys in my dad's store. In fact, my early first love was somebody that came into my dad's store to find out about fishing and then when he was killed, that kind of threw me for a loop for a long time. And that was another reason why I decided to join the service, that I was going to go do something.

Jim: Obviously we have a war that's going on now, but virtually everybody I've talked to who's of a certain age from the World War II era talked about that. They knew people that went over, they dated people that went over, almost everybody you know either knew, went out with, dated, was in love with somebody who went over and didn't come back.

Genevieve: And didn't come back. There were other boys, other guys later on that I went with and -

Jim: But it was typical, I mean.

Genevieve: Finally, I got so superstitious I wouldn't date anyone. I said no, not going to go with anybody whether they went to the South Pacific or England. And of course Pocatello was a bombing - you know B24s and later on B17s - and they were there, the last stop before they went overseas. And it was inevitable of course that a lot of these people would get killed, but you'd get to know a crew and dance and talk to them and get acquainted with them and then next thing you'd hear, you'd write them a letter and it'd be returned.

Jim: It can't be the sort of thing you ever got used to.

Genevieve: Oh, of course not, very hard.

Jim: You said you wanted to do something and joined up.

Genevieve: So I joined the Navy. Took boot camp in Hunter College in New York. Don't ever go to New York in January and go to Hunter College because the wind blows off that - what is the bay there? I can remember we'd be marching in poor dumb boot camp but we did have a nice heavy blue overcoat. We had to chip the ice off of our buttons to unbutton our overcoats. It was a terrible time, terrible time. Then I went from there after boot camp and they just opened this new thing called Specialist V. You were stewardesses, but they called 'em flight orderlies. They had these up till then, just sailors, just the guys were able. And they were going to open it for WAVES, and so out of the whole company and of course everybody wanted to do it. I think everyone in the company - there were 2,000, 3,000 gals - we all applied for it, we're all interviewed. Speaking of good 'ol Pocatello, my theory is when I walked in shaking like an aspen and I walked in to the WAVE officer, I got the sympathy vote. And then I think she thought, Pocatello, Idaho, we've got to have somebody from Idaho. Because out of the whole company with two or three thousand people, there were five of us who got that training. One was from New York, one was from California, one was her dad, a big shot in some international thing, then she had lived in Rio and she'd come up and joined the Navy.

So there were five of us went to Olathe, Kansas for flight training and got flight trained there, learned about airplanes and all sorts of stuff. And then from there we went back to Putuxant River, Maryland, which was a Naval Air Station, a huge Naval Air Test Station, big station. I saw my first jet there. I'll tell you, so I went with this Navy pilot and of course enlisted people weren't supposed to go with officers, but that's the only people I met were the guys I flew with so I used to sneak out and go anyway. But anyway, somehow I met a Marine pilot. Navy and Marine - we didn't get along at all - and so he said he was going to fly the next day and be down at the terminal. They had some new planes at Putuxon and he was a test pilot. They were called jets. He said he was going to fly it the next day at noon, to come on down to the air terminal and he would fly over. So anyway we were down there and he flew over just like an airplane should, and all of a sudden he goes into this spiral going up and he must've turned on the afterburners. Then God I thought his plane was on fire. Oh my God, he's blown up, he's going to get killed and some of the guys that were standing there watching it too and they said, That's the jet, that's the afterburner. That was my first jet.

Jim: Wow.

Genevieve: So one day I was at the barracks and my girlfriend Bea who had worked at the air terminal, in fact worked in flight control, she called me and she said, "Gennie, Gen, get down to the terminal right now," and I said, "Why?" She said, "Get down to the terminal right now and if it's secured, come in through the cargo door. You've got to come down to the terminal." And I said, "Okay." So I went down there and I walked in and she said, "Go upstairs," and there was a room upstairs with a big window in it. She said, "Sneak upstairs, Lindbergh is landing." So I did sneak upstairs and they secured the terminal. There wasn't a person that made it, and we're talking about a regular naval air transport service, it was the largest airline in the United States. We had terminals, we had flight crews, we had a - I'll show you - we had published schedules that we flew that we kept our schedules. Most of our pilots were commercial airline pilots that had been pulled into the service. Anyway, so of course the terminal was always full of people drinking coffee or waiting for a plane or da da da, a lot of activity out there and they cleaned 'em all out. They all had to go into a back room and they locked all the doors.

And so there I am up peering over through the glass and Lindbergh walked in with a couple of these escorts and they came across and I watched 'em walk across the terminal. I peaked over the top so they couldn't see me and then there was a VIP lounge and they walked him into the VIP lounge and I think it was when he was going overseas for Roosevelt. Remember? He was supposed to go over and inspect the airports or something there and I'm not sure, but that must've been what it was. So he was up in the VIP lounge while they were refitting the plane and gassing it and everything for the next leg of the trip where they'd go from Putuxon. Probably Newfoundland I think, and then to London. So anyway, I got to sit there and I couldn't leave so I sat there and I watched him sitting there drink coffee and they took him up a sandwich and he talked to all these people. And one by one the officials of the base would go up and meet him. He seemed very gracious, but no one was allowed in the terminal while he was there.

Jim: Oh, well that is a story.

Genevieve: Isn't that nice, isn't that nice?

Jim: That's very nice. For people that are watching this that don't know, you said you were a part of what?

Genevieve: It was the Naval Air Transport Service.

Jim: About the WAVES.

Genevieve: Oh, about the WAVES.

Jim: First off, you said you were part of the WAVES?

Genevieve: I was in the WAVES, yes, and I had boot camp and then from boot camp, as I say, they picked out five of us for this flight training and we went from there to Olathe, Kansas, for the flight training.

Jim: Okay, that's where I was getting.

Genevieve: Okay.

Jim: So you started out in the WAVES and then got - ?

Genevieve: Oh, I'm still in the WAVES.

Jim: You're still in it. Now tell me what the WAVES are, for people who don't know this.

Genevieve: Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlistment, I think that's what it stood for. I never did know I don't think. Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlistment Service, Emergency Service. Okay, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service that's what it stood for.

Jim: The WAVES.

Genevieve: To Olathe, Kansas, for flight training and after that, then they were just then opening the billet - I think that's what they called it in the Navy - for WAVES to start flying. And they flew us from Olathe, Kansas, back to Putuxon River, Maryland, which was the headquarters for the Atlantic wing and the up and down wing from Boston down to Miami. Big outfit. I went back there and worked in the terminal for a couple of months before I got my flight skins and then we, I started to fly.

Jim: Your flight skins?

Genevieve: That's what we called it. When you got to fly, you got your skins, you got your flight skins. I have no idea where it came from.

Jim: Was it a piece of paper, was it a jacket?

Genevieve: No, you were just called in. You were called into somebody's office and I got my leather flight jacket. I still have it. I gave it to my son last year for Christmas because he's always admired it, my leather jacket and my boots. Oh God, I thought. I used to, when I worked in the terminal, I'd watch these guys, the crews come in the terminal. We had terminals just like a airline terminal now. They all had coffee bars. You had to check in, we had scheduled flights. Putuxon was Washington and we'd go fly to New York, Cherry Point, Boston, and on down to Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami and then they started - and those were in the smaller planes the R4D, the two engines that just carried how many passengers?

We used the R4Ds. The Army calls 'em C47s and the British called 'em the Dakotas, but they were two engine planes. Then when they started the hot shots and I'll tell you about that. That was originally set up to bring prisoners back, terrible flights some of 'em.

Jim: I know that's making you emotional. Why does that strike a cord with you?

Genevieve: Well, I was just a kid and of course every plane, every flight I got I was hoping there'd be somebody that I knew that had been reported missing in action would be on. It was an eight hour flight, eight, ten hours by the time we stopped, gassed up and everything like that. A lot of the kids were in stretchers, had been prisoners for - I'll tell you about some of them later on, not right now maybe. And it was a very informal flight. In fact, we'd put a blanket down on the back of the plane, down on the floor, and they'd get back there and shoot craps and drink milk. They couldn't get enough milk. Go out and we'd load up with the whole crates of milk and by the time we landed at Olathe, the line crew would come and unload those empty cartons, those empty things and bring in more milk and they'd sit back there, stand back there and shoot craps and the ones who weren't shooting craps would exchange stories.

I don't suppose a lot of them ever talked about it after they got home. I've heard people say they never discussed it, but they did discuss it on my plane and they just absolutely weren't even aware I was standing there handing them milk or coffee or sweet rolls or whatever. In fact I remember one time my favorite pilot, William Shannon McNamara - God I loved him - he was a commander and he knew how to throw his weight around when he had to and he buzzed me up and he said, "Gen, I'm flying the plane with the nose straight up. You've got that tail end so full of passengers. Make some of 'em go back to their seats, will ya?" I did some, but they'd get back there and they would talk and I'd stand there in the corner and listen to 'em and they talked about the Bataan Death March. It was rough and as I say, anyway I'm Irish so I'm a walking tear duct anyway.

Jim: I come from a long line of those Irishman, so I know.

Genevieve: So you know what it is, don't you?

Jim: Yeah, I do.

Genevieve: And I detest it. I just detest it when I'm trying to say something halfway intelligent and I fog up. Anyway so -

Jim: But those were tough times.

Genevieve: They were tough times, they were tough times.

Jim: And again, sometimes there's a tendency to talk about World War II as if everything was just wonderful.

Genevieve: It was the most exciting time in the world because we knew what we were doing, we felt we were doing right. Now, this is what bothers me so much. We were so admired by the world then, and I resent like hell the fact now that we have been demeaned and we're the bad guys.

Jim: Why, what was exciting about it?

Genevieve: Oh, okay, so I'm from Pocatello. I never thought I'd get further than Salt Lake or Rupert where our cousins lived and we occasionally went for dinner. We'd get in the car and drive over to Rupert. Big damn day. Boy, all day over, dinner there, all day back, get back in Pocatello at nine or ten o'clock at night, just exhausted. And here we were, in Pocatello, just starting out, meeting kids from California, God, Long Beach, California, New York. I remember the first time I danced with a guy from New York. I couldn't believe it. And then my mother, my dad would go down on Sunday. Mother would fix dinner. There were rations of course, but my dad was a hunter and a fisherman and we always had fish or something like that and also there are a lot of farmers around there that needed shotgun shells and black market. So my dad would drive downtown and if he'd see a serviceman that looked like he's lonely he'd ask him if he wanted a home cooked meal and he'd come home with a car full of service guys and we'd have dinner. It was exciting, you know, when you're in Pocatello. I did go away to business college in Salt Lake and came back and got my job at the railroad, which I really hated to give up to go for $74 in the military.

Jim: It seems like it was such an exciting time to be alive.

Genevieve: It truly was because everyone sort of had a common goal, and don't put this, but you know we were going to kick the shit out of the Japs and they were primary for some reason. They were primary and beyond that, I suppose it's because most of the kids who were in Pocatello - the B24s and everything - went to the South Pacific. When we started, of course I was just a kid, but I wasn't aware of the atrocities the Germans had committed until afterwards and I had German blood.

Jim: What was it about them?

Genevieve: Well, of course they were different, right off the bat. And that's a silly thing to say because in high school there was a fairly large population of Japanese in Pocatello. My very favorite friend in Pocatello in high school - not socially or anything, but we played basketball - was Shita Tenabie and man, we could whip anybody that played us in basketball and we were quite close. But on the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed, I felt so sorry for the kids the next day in school because of course we all stood up and we listened to Roosevelt and they piped it in on the high school. Roosevelt made his speech and everything and then we all sang the National Anthem and pledged allegiance and I looked over and watched some of those kids that we had and they looked so, I felt so sorry for them. And quite a few of them were killed. The boys were killed in that Japanese Nisei thing in Italy, but they were different. The rest of them, when you talked about the Japs and you heard off the bat of the atrocities and the cutting off of heads of prisoners and even before the war you'd hear about the rape of these Chinese cities, how the Japanese had acted over there. They were just bad people.

Jim: I talked to somebody who was saying that after Pearl Harbor, living over here sort of on the west side of the United States, that it was even heightened, that was such a fear.

Genevieve: Oh yes, there was a fear. I remember going out at night. Wow, that's been so long ago, but I know we were afraid. There was good information that they were going to come over and bomb Seattle and not Portland and then we were watching pretty carefully. And we're talking about darling Japanese people that used to be my dad's customers and I knew in high school, but boy they'd better not be sending out any radio messages or anything like that because were watching. It was a bad time, it was a wicked time.

Jim: And it was, and it was. They ended up putting a lot of these people in internment camps.

Genevieve: Yeah, they did.

Jim: There's been a lot of collective guilt over that.

Genevieve: I don't feel guilty, I still don't. I'm sorry, but I don't. Maybe a little, maybe just a little. But we were convinced that if you're Japanese you owed allegiance to the emperor. I didn't feel guilty because I felt we were protecting ourselves and we had been so badly done when they had attacked Pearl Harbor, and it was such a dastardly thing.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Genevieve: You know, I couldn't remember but I happened to be going through some stuff and I found my high school senior class diary and I happened to flip it over and I had put a big black circle around December the seventh. So, I reread that and I found out where I was. Our neighbor boy, Buddy Loveland, ran over to tell us, "Turn on your radio! They've bombed Pearl Harbor! What the heck is Pearl Harbor?" I think it was time to go to Sunday school or something and then we didn't even do that. We stayed home and turned on the radio and listened.

Jim: Was it morning or do you remember?

Genevieve: Well, it was morning when we found out about it. But that doesn't sound right for the timeline does it?

Jim: Yeah, but maybe sort of the way you remember things.

Genevieve: But, it's just the way I, it must be the way I remember it.

Jim: You talked about after that and flying during the service. Are you glad you did it?

Genevieve: Oh, the best, the smartest thing I ever did. Oh, oh yes. I made friends then that have - of course they're all dying off so fast - but I made friends then that we've had and especially our squadron, we all got together every other year we had reunions. We had reunions all over the United States, oh gosh, Florida -

Jim: But friendships that stuck with you.

Genevieve: Friendships that stuck, absolutely. Nora, Nora O'Conner from Pebble Beach, Bea from Long Island, she was reared in Brooklyn, boy could she be tough, Ruth from Rio De Janeiro.

Jim: You mentioned that a lot of these folks are gone and you know this was many, many years ago.

Genevieve: Many, many.

Jim: How does it feel to sit here now and look back at that, and you're still telling these stories?

Genevieve: It's surprisingly fresh, isn't that funny? I can't believe it's that long ago. I can't believe I'm as old as I am. I can't believe they're all gone. And I used to lecture Bea and Nora and Ann and smoke - they used to smoke five packs a day. Damned if they didn't both die of lung cancer and the last thing Nora did was to turn off her oxygen thing and run into the bathroom and have a cigarette. She was such a bad girl, oh, she was so bad.

Jim: Did you think you'd be one of the ones still here thinking about those days, keeping those memories alive?

Genevieve: Oh, how can you ever? You're not as young as I was at that time, but still, do you even contemplate being an old man? It sneaks up on you.

Jim: But you said it still feels fresh.

Genevieve: I can still get excited about it. I think of Nora and Bea and I just want to love 'em. Bea was such a funny little thing. She's the one that took me down and called me, she said, "Gen, get down here. Lindbergh's landing." One time we were coming in for a landing in Putuxon and there was something wrong with the plane. We couldn't get the wheels down so we were going to make this big emergency landing and we were loaded with gas and so we had to fly around and fly around and fly around and burn all the gas out and then go out over the ocean and dump as much as we could and all of that sort of stuff and we finally land. Of course, we didn't have passengers at that time. We'd been down to the Miami Air Show. There's another historical thing - I was in the first Miami Air Show.

Jim: Oh, wow.

Genevieve: Yeah, they sent the R5D down to the Miami Air Show and flying down it was so fun. We were going along, just you know, big four engine plane. We just thought we were the cock of the walk, flying along and passing up all these planes. And by the time we left from Putuxant and by the time we got back down into Florida, we had all these little planes we were just passing up like dirty shirts. And I was up standing in the cockpit with my pilots and we were just laughing and snorting away, and then all of a sudden, first appearance of the Blue Angels. They whipped past us like we were backing up. Man, voom, voom.

Jim: You were talking about the excitement of the whole thing, when you knew that the war was over?

Genevieve: Well, there again, I'm Irish. Everybody else, they set up a special plane and went to New York. And for the first time when I was in the service, I went to church. I sat in church and cried. And that was my little chapel right there in Putuxon.

Jim: Why'd you cry?

Genevieve: It was just so marvelous that this terrible, terrible thing was over. All these people had been killed and injured and I told you I flew hospital flights. Oh, I had one passenger - usually you got a heads up when there was a special passenger aboard. They didn't say anything to me and I went up and it was an R5D. It was a big plane and I went on as I go up and got on the plane and I talk about the ladders. You've seen pictures of presidents coming out and standing? We had those same kind of ladders because the door at the back was about ten, fifteen feet off the ground. We'd go up the ladders. So I went up the ladder and I walked in and I could see this head up. Somebody had brought somebody aboard and you just never do that and so I walked up and he was sitting in the front row, right in back of the bulkhead. And I went up and here was this best looking young Marine, so handsome, sitting in this chair and he had no legs, none at all. And my first thought was, How do I buckle him in? But I helped him and then we filled the flight up and then we got to Olathe. He was getting out at Olathe. He was going to the hospital in Kansas City. What is it, the Fitzsimmon Hospital or something, I can't remember, but we used to get some of the passengers there.

But anyway, so we landed and all the passengers got off he of course had to wait. And I looked down and there was the ambulance and his mother and the stretcher. They came up the ladder and they couldn't get the stretcher around into the plane they were having trouble. I'd gone down to talk to the mother and that's when I found out how he'd - he's nineteen years old, he'd gone in the service when he was fifteen - run away from home and had been a prisoner the entire time he'd been in. So I went back and they were still jerking this stretcher around and I went up into the cockpit and my pilots of course had been shutting the plane down and I said, "You'll have to wait a minute. There's still a passenger there." I can't remember who it was, but I had some of the nicest, nicest pilots. They were just dolls. And he came out. I remember they were both tall and they came out and here was that poor 'ol kid sitting there and the guys back there struggling with that stretcher and I remember the pilot looked at him and he said, "Hey son, would you trust us if we made you a chair and the kid said, "Yeah." So they made a chair and then he said, "Put your arms around our necks," and they did and they carried him out and down to his mother and the ambulance.

And I told you we had reunions. So about ten years ago, about our last reunion, we were in the ready room just telling lies, you know, having a great time and most of the guys had flown overseas before they came back to Putuxon. They had a lot of overseas experience and they were telling about what they'd gone through and been shot, da da da. This one pilot, and I still can't remember his name, he said, "You know, of all the experience I had overseas, the one thing I remember the most," he said, "the one thing that affected me most when I carried a young Marine off my plane." And I said, "Oh, was that you? That was my flight too." And we just grabbed each other and hugged each other. It was the highs were higher than they are, and the lows were lower than they are.

Jim: Adelaide McLeod.

Genevieve: Oh, yes.

Jim: How long have you known her?

Genevieve: Oh, man. Addy showed us our house when we moved to Boise in - what'd I tell you - '59? And we ended up buying from somebody with it not going to a realtor. But that was when I first met Addy and then we were on the bench and then we moved down and lived on Warm Springs for 25 years. And well, when you live in Boise awhile, you know everybody anyways.

Jim: Well, I was going to ask you about that. It's nice that you're talking about Pocatello because this is sort of a statewide thing that we're doing and all that. In Idaho, no matter who you talked to, from where they lived a lot of the stories were the same it seems like. I mean, the growing up in that era and kind of stuff, there were a lot of similarities.

Genevieve: It was a quiet era. I think most people were broke and there weren't the pressures, and I do think that the war changed that. It brought everybody in. Like I said, I was so excited the first time I met somebody from New York, New York City, my God.

Jim: I guess in some ways you can break this up into before the war and after the war. When the war happened, was it the same or did everything change?

Genevieve: Gosh, I don't think I can answer that question. It did for me because I got my job. Well, of course I grew up seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.

Jim: Everything changed for you?

Genevieve: Everything changes for everybody at that age doesn't it? You go from a kid to being an adult and earning your own money and then go from there.

Jim: When you're back in Pocatello, do you ever go places and get almost flashbacks of those old days?

Genevieve: I haven't been in Pocatello in so long and the last time I went it nearly broke my heart. Our neighborhood was such a nice little neighborhood and it was so run down and the house looked so shabby and I haven't been back in a long time.

Jim: Do you ever get flashbacks to those days? I find that I'll be driving in the car and it's like, for some reason, something will spark a memory and then it's just like, Wow!

Genevieve: My happy memories started after I started my job. Before then it was a struggle except for my very early years. Like I said, I can remember until I was two or three years old everything seemed to be laughing and sunshine and everything, and then from then on it was nothing but gray.

Jim: What about during the war when you were up in the sky and flying and - ?

Genevieve: Oh God, I love to fly. That is the most marvelous feeling in the world. I used to love to hear those old wheels whamp, whamp, you're coming in for a landing and feel those wheels go down and walk along and take care of the passengers, loved it. All men, all military. No, except for, as I say, the civilians. We had those reporters at one time and I had one woman one time. She flew from Washington to New York. Yeah, you know a half hour or whatever and she was a WAC officer and she was going to be discharged because she had been married. She was married and she was pregnant. She spent the whole time saying, "Am I going to have a miscarriage because I'm on the airplane?"

Jim: It was unusual back then. People didn't fly all over the place.

Genevieve: I think so, and yeah, no forget it lady. Will it be deformed? Forget it lady. Is this strap too tight on my stomach? Forget it lady.

Jim: It's been called the greatest generation. What should people remember about those years, do you think?

Genevieve: Getting out of 'em. I know Tom Brokaw, the greatest years. Well, they were hard, but they did teach you to be tough and that you had to do what you had to do and that's a good lesson for anyone to learn. I hope I've taught my kids that and if you make a commitment you do it. I have to tell you one more passenger I had and then I'll go. So I got a heads up one time, San Francisco to Washington. They called me up into the office and they said there's a passenger aboard now he's, he's been a prisoner the whole time. Of course, most of these hot shots started to bring back prisoners of war who had been rehabilitated, but this one didn't speak English, he was Dutch. He had been a prisoner of the Japanese from Java or whatever forever and he was dying and the only thing they wanted to do was get him back to his family before he died. So they showed me how to use a portable oxygen mask and they said, "Keep him alive." So I got on there and he was in one of the passenger seats and after we took off I put him up in the crew. There was a bed up there so then when they landed in Washington he didn't have to get off, but then Washington said he had to.

So he landed in Washington and of course they had the ambulance down there for him from Walter Reed Hospital and the doctor and everything like that so they could take him and let him rest before they put him on the next leg of the plane. Of course we'd been flying all day and traditionally when the crew landed in Washington, the NATS terminals was just a little way away from the commercial terminal. We'd always go in and had something to eat because we'd been flying all day and hadn't eaten. So we started to go and I could hear this real, you know upset to-do and I went over to see what it was and these poor guys, the guys from the ambulance of Walter Reed were trying to put this poor Dutchman into the ambulance and he wouldn't let them. As sick as he was, he was holding on bracing his arms and everything and he wouldn't let them put him in the ambulance. I could see right away he was scared to death and he thought they were unloading him there and going to take him to a hospital.

I had learned to communicate with him in our flight so I went over and I explained to him, "No, no, don't worry. They're just going to take you," and I showed him the time, "to the hospital and you're going to sleep for the night you come back here." And then of course they were loading up other planes and everything and I said, "And tomorrow, you come back and you'll get on that plane and go further." And I got him calmed down, so he did go. And I didn't realize it - I hadn't paid any attention - there was an admiral on my flight and he had been watching this. So a couple weeks later, a month later I was called into the main office, the headquarters, and I thought, Oh, I'm in trouble, I've done something so bad. And I had a letter of commendation and not only that, but that sweet old admiral had kept track of the Dutch person and he let me know that he got home alive and he lived for a week at home before he died so he got to see his family. And it was the Captain who was telling me and he said, "And I have a note here that I am to tell you for sure that Mr. Whatever-his-name-was got home and spent a week with his family." I was so thrilled.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Adelaide McLeod grew up in Boise and attended Boise High in the 1940's along with Bethine Church.

Jim: What was Boise like in those days, what do you remember?

Adelaide: Well Boise was really small, if you went downtown and there was someone you didn't hadn't seen before you knew they were from out of town, it was like that. Things were, were quite different, people wore, or women wore hats and gloves and always a dress to go downtown and there were maybe oh three restaurants is all and there were oh I guess you'd call 'em dry good stores, and some dime stores and a bank or two and that was about it.

Jim: What was it like here at the edge of the depression, what were those years like?

Adelaide: I didn't know anything else really and I had a very good time growing up. We made our own fun and everyone else was in the same boat. I never, I don't think any of us ever felt like we were deprived. The neighborhoods were full of children and we all got together and played games in our alleys. It didn't seem to matter and, I don't know, it was just a really nice time to grow up I think.

Jim: What was nice about it? When you say it was a nice; I mean you sort of smiled a little when you were thinking about those years.

Adelaide: Well let's see what was nice about. Well first of all families were close and I don't know . . . the simplicity of it I guess. When I compare it to what exists now, I had lots of friends and, well, simple things. Like I can remember my mother pulling taffy and all the neighbor children would come in and pull taffy and, and things like that.

Jim: When, when you say pulling taffy, I'm not even sure what that means.

Adelaide: Oh well, making candy, and when you make candy, when you make taffy, you have to pull it before its ready to eat or its all kind of sugary and so it gets to a certain point and then, and then you take it on a spoon and, and take it in your hands and pull it and, and that's actually, well it was a kind of a tradition, it was one things my mother did that the children came in. My father saved string and, and paper from everything and made kites for every kid in the neighborhood and we had my grandmother living with us for a period of time and then my grandfather and so we were never really just my immediate family, there was always some relative there with us. I guess that's what I meant by the simplicity of it, we made our own fun, we didn't have a lot of things because that just wasn't the way it was and, and I think we were probably better off for that.

Jim: You talked about how some of downtown's been preserved and some of the areas kind of feel like they did.

Adelaide: Yes.

Jim: Are there ever moments when you walk around or you're driving around, and you get a flash of something that reminds you of the old days?

Adelaide: Oh all the time and I can't help that and of course as I was a realtor for 35 years and had my, my own company and I was hopefully a little instrumental in trying to preserve some of those buildings. Probably the saddest one was the City Hall. We had an adorable kind of gothic looking building down on the corner of 8th and Idaho and it's where the parking garage is now. It was, it was just classic. It was just a wonderful building and we were gone, we were living in Montana and we came back to visit and it was gone. And it just totally undid me. You know it just made me really sad, because it was, it was part of the downtown and, and much of what a town is, is its own history and they just wiped out a piece of it.

Jim: But certainly you must look at the parking garage and think oh my god it's magnificent?

Adelaide: Laughing Well it's a lovely parking garage, as parking garages go yes its fine.

Jim: Not quite the same?

Adelaide: No, not quite the same thing. But that's probably the most dramatic thing I can think of. Oh, the Eastman Building we worked really hard at trying to save the Eastman Building. And then some people who were cold in the wintertime, some street people, went in there to stay warm and they built a fire and it burned it down, it got away from them.

Jim: One of the buildings I always look at is the old Depot.

Adelaide: Yes, and at one time it was just a tremendous wide view between the depot and the capital building. And it's kind of too bad that it's blocked a little bit, because you could see the entire building, the entire capital building at one point.

Jim: We're talking sort of just in general about the years leading up to the war, before Pearl Harbor was bombed. That's obviously the big dramatic event.

Adelaide: Yes.

Jim: As things were leading up to that, was there a feeling that something was coming? I mean did you know that there was this big change on its way?

Adelaide: To some degree because my parents were really involved in what was going on around them and, you know, they discussed it at the dinner table. So yes, we were aware about the Nazis and about Germany and we had some fear about what it meant to our country and that sort of thing.

Jim: Was there that sense of looking back, wow, everything changed?

Adelaide: Yes it did. And it's rather odd to say that you had a golden time during the depression, but its sort of true, it really is. And it's kind of hard to explain, I guess it's not just that we lived in a small town. It was a very good time in our country and I can remember when the war started . . . my parents were staunch republicans and yet they were just squarely behind Franklin Roosevelt because he was president. And it bothers me that, that attitude doesn't still prevail you know. I mean it's . . . it's really sad what's happening in the country right now.

Jim: Sometimes I know it's hard not to look at what was going on then and look at what's going on now. I mean the country is certainly in another difficult spot.

Adelaide: Yeah well you know it. I guess it was a lot simpler then in a way, but there was a tremendous amount of patriotism and I think part of it came from the fact that we were all terribly involved in the war itself. I mean our friends were fighting the war and, and we were doing the things that we could do at home.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Adelaide: I was riding my bicycle and one of my friends, a young man, stopped us and he said, "Did you know we're at war?" And I thought, "What is he saying?" He said, "Yes our country's at war we're all going to go fight it." And I never will forget that.

Jim: What did you talk about at school?

Adelaide: It was definitely part of what we, what we were doing at school, I mean it wasn't like every minute of everyday, but you know there was a certain awareness about all of it and as soon as the war broke out well there were, I guess Juniors and Seniors boys were leaving school to go fight the war. Some of them didn't wait until they graduated, some of them did. You know we were all writing letters to them. Marian Falk who was a wife of a doctor here in Boise started a group of girls to sell war bonds and that's what we did. It was called the Minute Maids, kind of a take off on the Minutemen. Some of us were on bicycles or horseback or however and we would meet the trains and we would go to churches and we would go to the concerts and to the fair. Wherever there was a gathering of people to sell our war bonds. And we had kind of little halo hats that we wore and it was kind of an interesting thing that we did. But I always felt really good about that, I felt like I'm contributing a little bit.

Jim: I know when the war got started they had dances and things like that. What were those like? Did you go to those?

Adelaide: Oh absolutely. There was a lady by the name of Mrs. Trueblood that had dances at the YWCA. In the basement. They were for enlisted men and so we would go and dance to records, you know, canned music and we weren't allowed to leave with them. I don't know, I made some friends there did that for quite a while. Also there were the USO dances and of course we had both Gowen Field and Mountain Home Air Base so we had a lot of young officers here as well as enlisted men. It was a lot of dancing, a lot of dancing. I never was involved in the bar scene, but there was a big bar scene, I mean that the fellows would come in, you know, looking for something to do and so there was very often live music in the bars. They were more like cocktail bars not like a western bar you know.

Jim: What was it like when you were dancing and meeting these guys that were in the service and knew where they were probably headed?

Adelaide: Well you know, nobody seemed to dwell a lot on fear. Everybody felt like it was their job to do and they were going to do it. I can't say that's across the board, but that's the general feeling that you got. There were a lot of just really nice young men from all over the country and, and it was fun getting acquainted with them and some of them wrote letters and in fact at one time I had something like 17 correspondence and it was taking a whole lot of time.

Jim: You must've been very popular.

Adelaide: Oh I don't know about that, but I was involved.

Jim: When you hear that music does it take you back?

Adelaide: Oh we had the best music in the world, we really did and I don't know it sort of, if you wanted to know what we were like listen to that music because that's what we were like it really programmed all of us, it was wonderful.

Jim: When you say it programmed all of you, what do you mean?

Adelaide: Well it was, it was romantic music and it was, it was sweet, it was moral, it was . . . oh beyond that I can't really exactly explain it, but it was, it was nice to listen to and yet it was lively. Not all of it was, there was a lot of very romantic songs and I think the fact that in modern movies they're using a lot of that old music still, it kind of tells you something.

Jim: There's been so much attention paid to the World War II generation and there is this idea that it was this sort of golden era. I wonder sometimes if that's completely fair. You talked about the end of the depression having sort of a golden feel to it, but I think sometimes people tend to paint the whole war experience with a golden brush. Was it that wonderful, I mean is that fair to those days, to those memories you think?

Adelaide: You know, having grown up in that, it's hard for me to really say what it would be like growing up during another time, but yes, yes I guess so. There were certainly people who were phony just like there are now and that kind of thing and yet there was, there were a tremendous number of people who were, oh I don't know just, just real people, caring. And I guess we all had a little more time, things keep getting more and more rushed and it wasn't that way and I think maybe that if there was anything that may be, be it in fact the depression probably caused a certain amount of simplicity for all of us that was a huge benefit. It wasn't a bad time to grow up.

Jim: People are very nostalgic about those days, why do you think that is?

Adelaide: Well you think about it, there aren't very many generations that first go through a depression and then a big war and we were all very involved in the war, it, it was entirely different than anything that's happened since because we were all really, you know, living it with the soldiers. I think maybe just well . . . that and the music. I think the music had a great deal to do with it, but the music had to come from somewhere so it's a chicken and egg sort of thing. I don't know, that's a hard one to pin and I was kind of surprised the first time that Brokaw came out with it being The Greatest Generation because I always thought so because it was my generation. But you know, I can see that, that younger people would feel that same way about their own. So maybe that isn't fair. Maybe it isn't fair at all. The one thing I do think though, I think that the value system during those years was absolutely at its peak and I think it's been declining every since.

Jim: In what sense?

Adelaide: In what sense? Oh in just what's important to people, what matters. I'm not talking about religion, but that too. It seems like a lot of people have gotten away from thinking that there's anything bigger than themselves, I suppose, that would be what I would have to say that during that period of time there was this very strong sense of values and, and it came from our parents and then was just repeated and ground in with our teachers, but that's probably not quite the way it is now I don't believe.

Jim: You talked about some of the fun things, with the guys that were going off to war. I'm trying to imagine what it was like to know that, well, some of these guys didn't come back and some of these were kids you went to school with.

Adelaide: Oh we certainly did have that, in fact I was, I was in love with a, a Bombardier who was killed in a mission and that was very difficult, that took a while for me. I think I was probably 17 when that happened and it, you know it made me grow up a little. It was hard. I mean when you're that age, if you've known death at all its been with a grandparent or something like that and I hadn't even had a grandparent that had died so they were all living, well all except one who had died before I was born. So you see what I'm saying.

Jim: And now this was something that was sort of all around. I mean, you'd see these people get the telegrams and you'd see this.

Adelaide: Yeah it was, it was . . . it was dramatic and painful.

Jim: I've heard about these little flags that they used to put in the windows.

Adelaide: Everyone that had a service person in the war had a flag in their window, a special flag, we all flew flags, but if you had a son that was fighting in the war you had a special flag.

Jim: How did you get your news about the war when it was going on?

Adelaide: Well mostly the radio and the newspaper, of course there wasn't any television back in the dark ages.

Jim: You talk came up through the depression and then the war and you talked about that sort of exhilaration and that feeling of relief when the war was over. And in some ways that was the end of a long line of hard years for a lot of people wasn't it?

Adelaide: I think it was. I think it was hard, but here again I think people kind of rose to the occasion. That's what we had to do and life wasn't meant to be easy and nobody thought they were going to have a free ride. It was kind of the philosophy at the time.

Jim: Did you feel plugged into the, the national war effort living in Idaho? Did it feel like Idaho was as much a part of this as anybody else was?

Adelaide: Well you know Idaho was, is, kind of remote. It isn't as much anymore as it was then, but, we maybe got our news a little later and that sort of thing. We were isolated to a degree, there's no question about that. In fact, the whole west was, in a sense, and I think probably people on the Eastern Seaboard were kept better informed about day to day things. But of course there wasn't anything like television so you could get a vision of the battle.

Jim: Maybe that was good?

Adelaide: I think maybe it was. I think maybe so, I don't know that's, that's a good question. You'd think that would make people live it more, seeing it on television. But we certainly had a total commitment to what was going on.

Jim: Did you have things like Victory Gardens and all that kind of stuff?

Adelaide: Oh my yes! We had rationing and we had victory gardens, I kind of forgot about all of that. But we did, we grew vegetables. And there women who knitted sweaters for the boys overseas. There were a number of things that were rationed and rubber was one of them. So tires were few. You had to have a real good reason, like be a doctor, to have access to tires. And also gasoline, gasoline and tires and coffee and sugar. You had ration stamps. You could only have your share of all of that, but . . . I don't know . . . it was just the way it was.

Jim: You spoke earlier about how there was a great feeling of patriotism. How did people feel about these guys when they would come back? What was that like when they would come back and they were done with their service?

Adelaide: Oh they were all heroes every last one of them. There were huge parades and national parades you know like in New York and in Boise. They were honored, they were highly honored and I think they all felt really good about having served. There was a number of, well, two of my friends who were in a German prison camp and lived to tell about it, which was good. And then a couple of older fellows that went out with Morrison-Knudsen that were friends that were in the Japanese prison camp. And in fact, one of my husband's cousins was in the Japanese prison camp and they didn't fare as well. They probably lost years off their life expectancy because of it. Terrible time it was awful. It was, it was a little different I, I don't know, I don't think that the conditions in Germany were good, but, they weren't that bad. They didn't seem to be anyway. I mean I remember one of the fellows that was in a German prison camp made a bracelet for me out of coins, German coins. And he'd just fasten them, he'd drilled holes and fastened the coins together with little wires and I was just so thrilled with that.

Jim: What do you remember about the war wrapping up?

Adelaide: It was a big day of rejoicing. I can remember where I was and what we did and it was really funny everybody was downtown and we were all, we were all just, you know, running around in the street having a wonderful time and shouting and waving the flag. And a group of us girls decided we would go down the fire pole at the fire station, which used to be right downtown and so we did, and they let us.

Jim: How do you tell people what it felt like when that happened?

Adelaide: Well it's just such a relief, I mean when you realized that it was over, because it was oppressive. I mean that's probably why the music meant so much because there was always this concern about would somebody dying and some of them did.

Jim: And it sounds like there was a part of you guys that sort of had that patriotic feeling that we're doing this for the right reasons. But there had to be a lot of fear and worry beneath that.

Adelaide: Oh there definitely was and yet maybe it got buried a little bit in the need to be there to protect the country and this very, very strong feeling of patriotism that we all grew up with and the young men that went and fought in the war had.

Jim: I'm sure that you if you talk to younger kids today they might say, "What was it like?" What do you tell 'em? How do you sum it up to people what that was like?

Adelaide: Wow, that's a hard thing to sum up. It's kind of elusive to start with. It's not an easy thing to define. Oh dear, I'm a little at a loss to, to really say. It was, it was not a horrible time, it was, it was difficult and it was . . . there was some sadness, but there was also a whole lot of fun. And . . . I don't know it was . . . it was an interesting, interesting thing that it seems to have stood out as a different time.

Jim: Are there things you miss?

Adelaide: Things I miss. Not really, not really. I miss people, I think we all do. You'll lose your parents, you'll miss them. But as far as you can . . . you can make your life whatever you want it to be and if you want to live it in a way that things that you treasured as a child you actually can do that to some degree. So I guess not. It's a matter of progression and, and growing and hopefully becoming more spiritual.

Jim: When I started working on this project, it was important to me not just to focus on the war itself. I didn't want to just look at what was going on overseas in the war. Do you think its important to remember what people went through back here at home, I mean the Homefront, if you will?

Adelaide: Yes I think so. I think it's unique in that it was the last war that really involved the citizens. We haven't had one since that has. I mean the wars go on and we just seem to just live our lives and it's different, it's really different. Yes, I think probably it is important.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Dr. Greg Robinson is a Professor of History at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada. He gave this speech at the "Civil Liberties Symposium II: Presidential Powers In Wartime" at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, June 2007. This symposium was held in conjunction with the 2007 Pilgrimage to Camp Minidoka organized by the Friends of Minidoka, a group that supports the Minidoka Internment National Monument.

Thank you very much all for coming. I'd like to thank the conference organizers for having me come. It's great to be on the program. You know, I told everybody that they've seen CSI Miami and CSI New York. I'm very proud to be at CSI Twin Falls.

It's a particular honor to be speaking alongside Robert Simms and that's why it's a little painful to be having to differ with my distinguished colleague because he said that all of these events that we are describing and commemorating are well nigh unbelievable. Unfortunately, I think they are all too believable and that if there really was no possibility of their recurring, we all wouldn't be here. So, my job here is to give the first key note.

You know, in French where I come from in Montreal, it's called a d'ouverture, which means an opening speech. Not just opening in the sense of beginning but opening in the sense of opening up the questions. I'm sort of like the overture that precedes the play so I'm here to set the table and put you in the mood.

I named this presentation I'm giving today "Sights along the Evidentiary Trail." I know the Oregon Trail goes right near here so this is my tribute to that but I wanted to talk about what goes into FDR's decision. What happened? In the weeks following the beginning of 1942, a movement took shape among military officials charged with defending the Pacific coast to the United States for the summary removal of Japanese aliens. This movement was reinforced by local nativist groups with racist agendas and by commercial groups anxious to get rid of their Japanese competitors. And in the face of these civilian demands and by the phalanx of opportunistic West Coast political leaders, the Army commanders were encouraged to expand their own agenda to include demands for removal of all Americans of Japanese ancestry - both citizens and long term residents. The fact that there were no documented cases of sabotage or espionage by any Japanese American on the West Coast did not calm the fears of their neighbors. Fears that by the way had led to rumors and stories and false claims long before Pearl Harbor. Rather as General DeWitt himself said in a formulation that would later be borrowed by California's Attorney General Earl Warren, the future Supreme Court Justice, the very fact that no sabotage or disloyal activity had occurred only proved that Japanese Americans were organized into a conspiracy to strike at the signal was given.

The pressure from the West Coast brought the matter into the White House. The War Department led by the aged Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and his Deputy Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy took up the case. Despite having - as Professor Simms mentioned - definite misgivings, they both felt obliged to back mass removal, not only in support of local defense commanders but to placate the region's political establishment. McCloy himself admitted to a colleague soon afterwards that there was no suspicion against most Japanese Americans and he complained that the Japanese Americans - and here I'm quoting - "removed largely because we felt we could not control our own white citizens in California."

So the War Department chiefs faced off against Attorney General Frances Biddle who as Professor Simms mentioned, considered such a step unnecessary and harmful to morale, although it's important to note he did not consider it unconstitutional or illegal if handled as a war time military action. So he was a kind of a weak reed against the pressure. On February 11, 1942 Stimson made the decisive call to Franklin Roosevelt to ask for a meeting so that he could resolve the dispute between the Justice Department and the War Department. FDR said that he was too busy for such a meeting, the subtext being that it was not that important to him. But that afternoon Stimson reached the President by telephone and no transcription was made of the conversation, but Stimson reported to his diary that the President was very vigorous and told him to do whatever he thought best. And according to McCloy, who may have been on the line or at least heard it from Stimson, Roosevelt had said that if the Army's proposal involved removal of citizens, "We will take care of them too." And Roosevelt added, "There will probably be some repercussions but it has got to be dictated by military necessity." And Roosevelt had said, "Be as reasonable as you can."

So McCloy then interpreted this to the West Coast Defense commanders that they had carte blanche to act as they thought best. With that consent in hand the Army planners went to work and eight days later on February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066.

Now this order did not mention Japanese Americans, the West Coast evacuation or confinement. Rather, the order simply permitted the Secretary of War to authorize military commanders to designate military zones from which any person might be excluded and authorized the Army to provide food, shelter and transportation for the persons affected. It did not give the Army authorization for mass incarceration and it would appear that nobody was thinking in such terms at that point, although neither the President nor his military advisors decided to grant more explicit authority for such confinement as that policy evolved, nor did they object to the idea. But for the moment it was simply removal.

The Order is bland language, nonetheless concealed, an unprecedented assertion of executive power and that's what we are here to discuss. Under its provisions the President as Commander In Chief imposed military rule on civilians without a declaration of martial law and he sentences a segment of the population to internal exile and eventually involuntary confinement under armed guard notwithstanding that habeas corpus had not been declared by Congress, to whom the Constitution, except in very limited exceptions, granted full authority, sole authority to do that. The Order did not specify Japanese Americans but everybody understood that it was meant so that the Army, as Biddle later quite acerbically put it to Roosevelt "to take care of the Japs." What the Order meant in substance was that the President and his military advisors determined that the racial background of 112,000 Americans made them such a danger that they were collectively presumed disloyal and summarily deported from the military theater.

Who were these people? Seventy percent of them were American citizens of an average age below eighteen years old and the rest were long time residents who had spent their entire adult life in the United States. Yet the order presupposed that none of these people could be usefully distinguished from the Japanese enemy and that's why the Army, even the Army which had originally thought to institute loyalty hearings once the people were removed, abandoned the idea because it would mean abandoning the very premise that they pose an indiscriminate danger. While individual German and Italian enemy aliens, deemed dangerous were detained and tried in hearings during the war, no other alien population was subjected to confinement without a hearing let alone on the grounds of their ancestry. If the removal and later confinement of some forty thousand Japanese immigrants on a group basis as enemy aliens was therefore both arbitrary and unconstitutional or discriminatory - actually it's probably not unconstitutional and it's certainly not unprecedented. After all, the Federal government and the states had deported and detained alien populations before on a racial basis or other group basis, notably the case of black slavery, the expulsion and driving out of Chinese immigrants from the West, or the removal of the Indian Nations from the southern United States in the 1830s.

In contrast, Executive Order 9066 applied equally to American citizens supposedly covered by the constitution. It thus represented a new and dangerous violation of basic rights in a democratic society and that's why it deserves particular scrutiny. And what I wanted to focus on today is the role of Franklin Roosevelt. I mean, what led Franklin Roosevelt, a president justly renowned for his attachment to human rights and the principles of democracy, to such an action? Now his ostensible motive was military necessity or at least satisfying the expressed or at least perceived needs of the military. Certainly he defended his decision exclusively in terms of military necessity. When Attorney General Biddle later related that he told the President that evacuation was unnecessary, FDR responded that it must be a military decision and he repeated it in Cabinet meetings. The Army might be wrong but Roosevelt considered them the best equipped to decide what was needed to win the war. This view was seconded by John Franklin Carter, a rather unusual fellow who Roosevelt named the head of a secret White House spy unit after the 1940 election. Carter was then commissioned by Roosevelt in mid-1941 to send secret agents to the West Coast to investigate the loyalty of Japanese Americans on the West Coast and Hawaii and his agents reported that Japanese Americans were overwhelmingly loyal and the Nisei particularly were desperately anxious to show their loyalty. Well, Carter never wrote memoirs on the subject but he did write a novel a few years after the war, The Catoctin Conversation, in which he presented fictionalized conversations reflecting his informed knowledge of the circumstances, and Carter's fictional Roosevelt explains the decision as a matter of Martial Law, and here I'm quoting, "The Army asked for special status on the Pacific coast. After Pearl Harbor they were entitled to get what they said they needed. Once they had the status they decided that the Japanese Americans must move east of the Rockies. I had no choice but to back them or discredit them." I should add that Carter's version of Roosevelt admits that mass removal was unjust while none of the surviving evidence indicates any such hesitation or regret on the real FDR's part. But nonetheless I think that it's a fair representation of Roosevelt's view of the situation.

Yet the question of military judgment is by no means so clear. Biddle himself later noted that in military terms the East Coast would have been a more logical theater for mass removal of aliens. He said there was more reason in the West to conclude that shore-to-ship signals were accounting for the very serious submarine sinkings all along the East Coast which were sporadic only on the West Coast, but Biddle made very clear that, "These decisions," he said, "were not made on the logic of events or on the weight of evidence but on the racial prejudice that seemed to be influencing everyone."

In any case, the President's decision was clearly not based solely on military demands and we can think of three reasons why this is the case: First, the President was not faced with a clear-cut military consensus but chose between different factions of the military in making his decision. There was dissension within the military over dealing with Japanese Americans. Roosevelt was in a position to know, if he didn't know, that Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Ringle and other naval officers responsible for the West Coast did not favor evacuation and the President also failed to consult General George Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff before signing Executive Order 9066. Marshall himself had detailed General Mark Clark - later the commander of the Italian campaign - to look into the matter and Clark had testified before Congress just a week before that evacuation was completely unnecessary. There wasn't a rat's chance in hell of the Japanese invading the West Coast.The Joint Chiefs were conducting their own investigations.

Similarly General Douglas McArthur, responsible as the Pacific commander, was not asked his opinion. Now an aide to McArthur a few years later said that McArthur had considered the entire mass evacuation completely absurd. No, that is based on second- or third-hand evidence and with hindsight but I think that we can at least conclude that McArthur did not institute mass removal of Japanese residents of the Philippines in the weeks before the Philippines were invaded by Japan. Roosevelt also did not attempt to weigh the military case for evacuation. Unlike Secretary of War Stimson who asked Dewitt to present a specific recommendation for evacuation with a detailed basis for the claims of military necessity, Roosevelt simply waved his hand and hastily granted Stimson blanket approval to proceed even without awaiting Dewitt's final recommendations completely spurious case for evacuation. Furthermore, FDR did not support military judgment in all matters concerning evacuation or Japanese Americans. Most notably, when the President, under prodding from Navy Secretary Franklin Knox, ordered mass confinement and removal of all Japanese Americans in Hawaii. He went against the recommendations of his Hawaii martial law commander, General Delos Emmons. Emmons then countered with a masterful campaign of passive resistance that eventually scuttled the plan and if I can do a little self-endorsement, I would recommend my book on that.

But similarly if military demands had been his main criterion for action the President would have approved Army proposals for similar control of others who posed a significant or perceived threat to national security. Roosevelt was certainly aware of the problem of espionage or disloyal conduct by German and Italian enemy aliens, and it's worth noting that several months before Pearl Harbor the Army was already constructing concentration camps to hold enemy aliens in time of war. In fact the place where the Japanese aliens after Pearl Harbor were sent, Fort Missoula in Montana, was built as a concentration camp in early 1941 to hold enemy aliens. So it was clearly a problem that he had considered. However, the President refused to allow General Dewitt his request to remove German and Italian aliens en masse from the western defense zone and he similarly refused General Hugh Aloysius Drum, the East Coast defense commander - that is Dewitt's eastern counterpart - when Drum wanted to remove selected German and Italian aliens under Executive Order 9066 during spring 1942.

Finally, we should be skeptical of any claims that military necessity was behind Executive Order 9066 and governing the removal of Japanese Americans for the simple reason that such was not the case north of the border where twenty-two thousand Japanese Canadians were removed from their homes in British Columbia and placed in camps and subjected to mass incarceration. The very same elements that marked the creation of Executive Order 9066 are featured in the situation in Canada. The heritage of racial prejudice against Japanese ethnic people on the Pacific coast, strong calls from politicians and commercial groups to get rid of the Japanese, accusations of disloyalty and a beleaguered national government concerned over national security. Yet in Canada the vice chief of the Army staff, General Maurice Pope and his naval counterparts in Ottawa all agreed with the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] that Japanese Canadians unarmed and scattered posed no particular threat. They were overruled however by Canadian Prime Minister W.L. McKenzie King and his advisors who stated that military needs and conditions were irrelevant. In fact I recently discovered McKenzie King had told his diary that he was unable to trust any Japanese Canadian, even one naturalized in Canada, even Canadian born and that the Japanese Canadians were all just waiting to help Japan once the signal was given. Based on these considerations we may conclude that military necessity is to say the least, an insufficient excuse or explanation for evacuation.

What elements then did determine Roosevelt's order? It's hard to know because Roosevelt was such a secretive man. His Interior Secretary, Harold Ickes told him to his face that even with his closest advisors he kept his cards close to the vest. However, we can make some educated guess based on indirect evidence. As Milton Eisenhower, who was the first director of the World Relocation Authority, supervised the building of the camps such as Minidoka and the confinement of Japanese Americans later perceptively stated, "The President's final decision was influenced by a variety of factors - by events over which he had little control, by inaccurate or incomplete information, by bad counsel, by strong political pressures and by his own training background and personality." So in order to determine how the decision came about let's take a minute, or few minutes, to examine these elements in turn which will enable us to make reasonable determinations as what weight to give to each of them in influencing the final decision.

So the first two of Eisenhower's factors - the course of events and the lack of reliable information - are quite familiar because as Professor Simms said, they have historically been used as a means of justifying the government's actions. According to the following narrative the attack on Pearl Harbor, they said, led to widespread fears over possible Japanese invasion of the West Coast and in the emergency atmosphere Army officers did not have sufficient information to make an informed decision about whether Japanese Americans represented a security threat and so they acted hastily to protect the country.

It's precisely on this basis that the Supreme Court - first in the Hirobioshi vs. the United States decision, then in the Korematsu decision - upheld the constitutionality of the military's actions. However, not only has this narrative been discredited by numerous historians but by the courts themselves. As Professor Simms mentioned the convictions of Fred Korematsu and the others whose cases were heard by the Supreme Court during the war were vacated in the 1980s on a writ of Corum Nobis by Federal Government judges who explicitly found that Assistant Secretary John McCloy and other Army officials had knowingly presented false information to the court and had suppressed evidence - notably, evidence that the press of time and the emergency situation were not a factor in evacuation.

Because the importance of events has been so inflated and distorted any argument about their role in Roosevelt's decision is suspect and is difficult to resolve fairly. That said, it does not appear that they made much of an impression on Roosevelt since his policy on Japanese Americans did not evolve in direct response to the course of the actual military situation. If it had, his priorities and his time table would have been quite different. Action against Japanese Americans would have started immediately after Pearl Harbor and would have centered on Hawaii which was in an actual military danger. Throughout 1942 Roosevelt expected an imminent invasion in Hawaii, not on the West Coast where most informed authorities considered an invasion considerably less probable. Similarly, the question of access to information is complex and delicate because of its politicized use.

The military on the West Coast justified its call for control of Japanese Americans by spreading demonstrably untrue stories of Japanese American signaling of Japanese submarines even while Navy Secretary Knox and the commission investigating the Pearl Harbor attack shifted responsibility for defense lapses in Hawaii by blaming Japanese spies without making clear that these were not local Issei or Nisei. In fact a pair of German agents named Kune and his wife were later convicted of spying for Japan. The President was even led to believe either by private sources or by newspaper accounts or his advisors that Japanese saboteurs who had been arrested on the West Coast had been discovered with serious contraband. The President's visitors and cabinet officers likewise repeated stories of Japanese Americans on the West Coast poisoning people's vegetables. This tide of misinformation no doubt contributed to FDR's belief that dramatic action had to be taken to curb Issei and Nisei subversives.

At the same time though, Roosevelt was willingly misled. Even before the war with Japan began, Roosevelt was closely informed on Japanese activities in Hawaii by the FBI and on the West Coast by Naval Intelligence. Actually a Naval Intelligence agent who was caught passing information about Japanese Americans to the Russians was convicted and his case was brought before the Supreme Court, so we know that there was plenty of information available on the real state of the Japanese community on the West Coast.

In addition as mentioned, Roosevelt had his own secret intelligence network headed by John Franklin Carter that reported on the loyalty of West Coast Japanese Americans. He chose not to accept the repeated findings of loyalty that all these people gave him. So if the President believed unsubstantiated reports about fifth column activities by Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, it was not simply from lack of hard information but also because he was prepared to believe the worst and did believe the worst about Japanese Americans.

So the question of bad counsel is a more substantial one. It's undoubtedly crucial in bringing out evacuation. The evidence reveals that even the opponents of removal failed to emphasize to the President that there was absolutely no truth in the hysterical stories about Issei and Nisei fifth columnists and that evacuation was anti-democratic, morally wrong and racist in its inspiration and support. Rather, they based their argument primarily on the premise that evacuation would lower morale and interrupt food production - which may have been a wise strategy with as pragmatic a man as Franklin Roosevelt but was not very forceful in its inspiration. They were also prepared to recommend arbitrary action against Japanese aliens so long as the Nisei, the Japanese American citizens, were not harmed. They thus confirmed the canard that there was something to fear and played into the hands of the extremists. But even a more central figure in giving bad counsel was Secretary of War Stimson. As a former Republican Secretary of War and Secretary of State who had come out of retirement to devote himself to the strenuous task of directing the war effort Stimson had enormous prestige. Roosevelt and Stimson had a long standing relationship of mutual respect and trust. So influential was Stimson that Attorney General Biddle later stated that, "If Stimson had stood firm, had insisted as he seemed to have suspected that this wholesale evacuation was wrong and needless, the President would have followed his advice."

Well, even assuming for a moment that this assessment is true I think that it ignores a larger reality. Stimson was indeed the most important advocate of evacuation yet he was himself torn over the idea as again Professor Simms has ably summarized for us. He had strong elitist prejudices against all racial minorities yet he was very aware of the racial discrimination inherent in mass removal of Japanese Americans. So it is thus equally likely that if Roosevelt had even questioned the necessity for mass removal, had studied it for a moment, Stimson would have abandoned the idea or encouraged McCloy to find some sort of compromise. Even as it was, the Army hesitated greatly before designing a full evacuation plan and considered, again, instituting hearings for those who had been removed and letting back those against whom no evidence could be found.

But I have to confess, I'm rather wary of Biddle's judgment here because he had an interest in favoring Roosevelt, his political patron, by laying blame on Stimson, and elsewhere in his memoirs he downgrades Stimson's influence where it serves his argument. For example, where he praises Roosevelt's order not to evacuate German and Italian aliens from the East Coast, Biddle says the President knew at once when mass evacuation simply would not do. He would have made the same decision irrespective of any recommendation of the Secretary of War. So then if Stimson was not responsible for Roosevelt's actions on the East Coast, he surely could not have alone been responsible for Roosevelt's actions on the West Coast.

So, we then come to political pressures. The political pressures on the President were enormous and must be assigned significant weight in explaining the final decision. In fact I must confess that I don't know if I - facing these kind of political pressures and dangers in 1942 - would have been able to withstand so easily the pressure for evacuation, although I sure as heck wouldn't have sentenced people to mass incarceration in deserts. There were political considerations in FDR's relationship with the War Department as Roger Daniels has pointed out. Stimson and McCloy were both prominent Republicans who helped assure bipartisan support for the war effort in Congress. Similarly there was strong political consensus for evacuation among West Coast congressmen and political officials. The Leland Ford Clarence which claimed to represent the entire West Coast congressional delegation even sent Roosevelt a plan for mass evacuation and people like California Governor Culbert Olsen and Attorney General Earl Warren - both recognized as liberals and moderates - supported mass evacuation and Roosevelt was aware from government sponsored polls and from the letters and lobbying he was receiving that a solid minority of Americans on the West Coast favored military control.

Archibald McLeish, the poet who was head of the Office of Facts and Figures, sent Roosevelt several polls indicating that the majority of Americans on the West Coast believed that the existing efforts were sufficient to contain Japanese Americans and the danger. In contrast, before Executive Order 9066 was signed there was only a handful of letters by liberals or religious groups opposing evacuation and in the weeks after even only a few prominent Americans such as the writer Pearl S. Buck, the black civil rights advocate W. E. B. Dubois, and the Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas publicly defended Japanese Americans. Even the Japanese community, itself divided and demoralized by the arrest of its community leaders after Pearl Harbor, failed to make a visible protest.

Now, without adopting Wharton Grodson's influential book often-questioned thesis that West Coast pressure groups were primarily responsible for the evacuation, I think that we can accept that public outcry was a crucial element in the President's decision. Biddle himself said that public opinion was on the military's side so that there was no question of any substantial opposition which might tend toward the disunity that at all costs the President must avoid. In the face of such pressure it [does not] require any great sense - let alone FDR's consummate political skills - to determine that some form of action against Japanese Americans would be prudent. Now, realize I'm not saying that FDR ordered evacuation simply out of political expediency but public support is the engine of democratic government, especially in war time, and Roosevelt needed to keep up the morale of people on the West Coast where the main ship building and port facilities for the defense of the Pacific were located and where there was a large amount of war industry as well as the lion's share of the nation's fresh produce. He was aware that racial tension and hysteria over the Japanese problem - so called - interfered with the production of food and essential goods and detracted from the fragile sense of national purpose after Pearl Harbor which was crucial to the success of the war effort.

So, what we can say is, actually in the circumstances it's perfectly plausible - and we don't have evidence either way - but it's perfectly plausible to believe that Roosevelt could have considered a large scale evacuation of Japanese Americans even without any evidence of disloyalty or guilt, a less costly maneuver than paralysis of society due to low morale or race riots, and have acted accordingly. After all, Canadian Prime Minister McKenzie King ascribed much of his decision to approve evacuation of Japanese Canadians to the fear that racial violence against Issei and Nisei in British Columbia would trigger mistreatment of POW's in Japanese hands. That said, while various apologists, most recently North Carolina Congressman Howard Kobol have excused evacuation as a means of defending Japanese Americans from mob violence. There is no evidence at all that such protection per se, was ever a consideration in the government planning.

Also, because - maybe because protective custody is such a repellant doctrine, constitutionally - something in me rebels against the thought that Roosevelt's entire policy revolved around appeasing West Coast politicians and preventing riots. Also, if FDR had ordered Japanese Americans relocated simply for, as he would have later called internal quiet, he would have had no reason not to let the Federal Security Agency handle resettlement on a case to case basis as he had when Biddle provided for the removal of Japanese aliens in the weeks before Executive Order 9066, and certainly he would have had no reason not to make some statement defending the loyalty of Japanese Americans as he failed to do during all of 1942.

So that brings us to the final element in the decision - Roosevelt's own training, background and personality. This is the hardest part to analyze. The psychological portrait of any individual let alone somebody so enigmatic and cagey as Franklin Roosevelt is a very difficult task. Also in relating a President's decision to previous events in his life, particularly his inner life, the historian must be wary of ignoring the specific circumstances of an action and overdetermining by extrapolation from past events. But what a historian can do, and what we can do is to look and see if there is a pattern, a fixed pattern in somebody's previous life that make them liable to behave in a certain way. I mean as the philosopher David Hume said, if you throw up a coin fifty times in the air it's not a guarantee that it will come down the fifty-first time but it's a good way to bet. So by this standard the President's past feelings toward Issei and Nisei must be considered to have significantly shaped his decision to evacuate. FDR had a long and unvaried history of viewing Japanese Americans in racialized terms as innately Japanese and of expressing hostility toward them on that basis - something I go into at great length in the book.

In the years before World War I, the youthful Roosevelt feared Japanese immigrants as part of a larger Japanese military threat to the West Coast of the United States. During the 1920s when Roosevelt urged better relations with Japan he nevertheless endorsed immigration restriction of Japanese and legal discrimination against Japanese immigrants because he claimed that such measures helped preserve racial purity against inter-marriage - his words. In the years before the war FDR told friends all Japanese had aggression in their blood and he personally ordered surveillance of Japanese Americans and the preparation of plans to put all those suspected of contact with Japanese, in Hawaii and concentration camps once war with Japan started. He also okayed discrimination against Nisei in defense areas in Hawaii on the assumption that they could not be trusted. In the months before Pearl Harbor, again Roosevelt enlisted his intelligence network to report to him on the loyalty of Japanese Americans on the West Coast and in Hawaii and even after being reassured that no significant threat existed, he increased his efforts to identify and control saboteurs.

Throughout the period of evacuation Roosevelt retained and even expanded his belief in innate racial character, even though by then such ideas had been discredited by the anthropological writings of Franz Boaz and his students. During 1942 for example, Roosevelt maintained an extended correspondence with Dr. Alice Hurdlika, the Chief Anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Hurdlika who was himself an immigrant was an expert on skulls so Hurdlika and Roosevelt had a very interesting correspondence on the skulls of the Japanese and they agreed that the reason that the Japanese race were also innately war-like and evil was that Japanese skulls were less developed evolutionarily than other skulls and Roosevelt pondered various means of interbreeding to make the Japanese less of a problem. FDR's attitude toward the Japanese as a race was also reflected in his private conversation.

As his assistant Bill Hasset recounted in August 1942 - and here I'm quoting - "The President related an old Chinese myth about the origin of the Japanese. A wayward daughter of an ancient Chinese emperor left her native land in Asampan and finally reached the islands of Japan then inhabited by baboons. The inevitable happened and in due course the first Japanese made their appearance." These words and actions all point to Roosevelt's acceptance after Pearl Harbor of the idea that Japanese Americans, whether they were citizens or long-time residents, were in reality Japanese, on a racial basis and thus presumptively disloyal on racial grounds, even without any evidence of sabotage or wrong doing.

There might well be loyal individuals. I'm not saying that Roosevelt hated all Japanese. I mean he was perfectly prepared to make exceptions for Japanese Americans of demonstrated loyalty once properly vouched for, but in the absence of evidence of loyalty, and sometimes in the presence of, the presumption remained. When John Franklin Carter's fictionalized character of Roosevelt is asked about the feelings of Japanese Americans who were deported he said, "Because they had slant eyes and yellow skins," Roosevelt simply remarks coolly, "their patriotism was suspect."

Roosevelt's race-based hostility toward Japanese Americans also provides a partial framework for understanding his casual attitude toward the constitutional questions in his decision to approve evacuation. Now as Professor Simms quoted Attorney General Biddle - no wartime president cares too much about the constitution - and admittedly it would have required enormous faith in the constitutional rights of all citizens to have over-ridden the clamor for action against Japanese Americans. However, FDR gave very little evidence in any constitutional scruples. In his view, buttressed by Biddle, the President had authority, under his war time power, to take whatever action he deemed necessary to the defense of the country.

In February 26, 1942, a week after signing Executive Order 9066, Roosevelt wrote to Knox approving mass evacuation in Hawaii. He said, "I do not worry about the constitutional question first because of my recent order - that is Executive Order 9066 - and second because Hawaii is under martial law." So if the government could declare martial law in Hawaii, it could clearly take less extreme steps on the West Coast to make less disruptive measures to solve the situation. Certainly Roosevelt was not troubled by the violation of the Japanese Americans' civil rights. Biddle later related in fact, that FDR was actually hostile to the entire concept of civil rights. Quote, "In anything he was a little afraid they might be too soft in nurturing rights. He disliked any theoretic approach and the word rights conveyed to him something that was visionary and impractical and had none of the urgency of the tasks ahead."

So as Biddle's comments suggest perhaps the most decisive impact of Roosevelt's feelings about Japanese Americans on his decision to approve evacuation was in fostering indifference, I would say. You know, he may have been pressured and he may have been badly advised and he may have been in a difficult situation but the President was not uninformed. He was not ignorant about the Japanese problem. However, in the final analysis he didn't care enough about Japanese Americans to become deeply involved in the question, especially if it meant opposing the military advisors who were close to him and West Coast public opinion.

Already during the 1920s Roosevelt had refused to acknowledge discriminatory intent by Californians in the race based exclusion of Japanese immigrants and the discrimination against them. His willingness to pander to popular prejudice against Japanese Americans in a time of peace logically anticipates his refusal to defend their citizenship rights in the face of a popular war time hysteria for their incarceration. The famed historian James McGregor Burns - a great admirer of Roosevelt - has argued because that there was no compelling moral opposition to internment so Roosevelt was not faced with the compelling choice or alternative but was instead confronted with a War Department memo designed, quote, "Simply to put the onus of decision on him, one which he refused to accept."

This is an inventive defense worthy of a fine defendant of FDR but even such an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt as myself would have to say that it's not very valid. A President's task is to make ultimate decisions and to be responsible for them and it is his task to seek the information that will enable him to make those decisions. Unlike various of his advisors, Roosevelt endorsed evacuation without making any effort to determine what the necessity was or whether a less extreme policy could be designed. Unlike various of his advisors, Roosevelt was unwilling or unable to imagine any real alternative to the policy. As long as the Army promised to be reasonable in eliminating the Japanese American menace, FDR was prepared to sign orders to give them a free hand. Moreover, the President's attitude toward the consequences involved was shockingly casual. Unlike Stimson who was tortured by doubts over the morality and constitutionality of making racial distinctions and removing American citizens, the President displayed no worry or hesitation over such questions and he was similarly indifferent to the practical considerations of the policy.

To be sure, none of the Army and government officials involved seemed to have foreseen that removal would inevitably lead to mass incarceration but Stimson himself complained a week after Executive Order 9066 that at a cabinet meeting Roosevelt had . . . "given very little attention to the principal task of the transportation and resettlement of the evacuees. In particular FDR failed to respond decisively to repeated requests from his advisors both before and after Executive Order 9066 was signed to appoint a powerful alien property custodian to guard the property of those removed, with the result that the evacuees lost millions of dollars of property through theft or through fire sales or vandalism."

So, in the end, Roosevelt's failure was primarily one of compassion or more precisely of empathy. As James McGregor Burns himself conceded, FDR either did not consider the consequences of his order for Japanese Americans or he simply wrote them off as part of the price of winning the war.

Dr. Robert Sims is Professor of History, Emeritus, at Boise State University. He gave this speech at the "Civil Liberties Symposium II: Presidential Powers In Wartime" at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, June 2007. This symposium was held in conjunction with the 2007 Pilgrimage to Camp Minidoka organized by the Friends of Minidoka, a group that supports the Minidoka Internment National Monument.

I was thinking that the runway would have been a better route up with my bad knees but I thought that was too dramatic so I'll just - I'll do it this way. It's really great to be here. I think of all the effort that so many of you have put into this - not just this specific event but all of the things that were prelude to where we are today and that includes those of you, those scholars and participants in the organizations like the JCL who have kept this idea alive and bring us to this point today. It's extremely important.

I'm going to begin with what may seem a rather curious way to start but I want to talk about Edgar Rice Burroughs. Many of you, certainly those not from Idaho, may not know that Idaho has a claim - particularly Pocatello - has a claim on Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, but you may also not know that he spent a lot of time in Idaho. Although born in Chicago, Burroughs spent part of his youth and a good portion of his young adulthood in Idaho, and although he's best known for his Tarzan series, Burroughs was also the author of fantasy literature or early science fiction. His titles, for instance, include A Princess of Mars, At The Earth's Core, The Eternal Savage, The Monster Man, Pirates Of Venice and The Land That Time Forgot.

Now my reason for mentioning him in the context of this event is that he also wrote a fantasy titled Minidoka. Like many of his works - indeed most of them - this is a work of expansive imagination, a work about people, things, places, events that just really could not exist or happen. About people persecuted by their gods, gods who sent plagues and fevers and then more fevers. His story is actually set in this region of Idaho and is quite simply unbelievable. There is another story we call Minidoka about a people persecuted and upon whom were visited great calamities. Like Burroughs' story, this one can be read with great incredulity and a suspicion that these things could never have happened. If a visitor from another time and place looked at this country, studied its basic documents, its values, it would truly seem impossible that what happened could actually have been.

And yet in 1942 about 120,000 people were removed from their homes and sent to distant isolated and harsh places in an action by our government that the Attorney General of the United States at the time characterized as unnecessarily cruel. One of those places was a site about eighteen miles northeast of here, the Minidoka Relocation Center. This happened in the context of war time and war fever often translates into xenophobia. That fever peaked on February 19, 1942 when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 and over the next few months almost 120,000 persons of Japanese descent were ordered to leave their homes in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska and two-thirds of those individuals were American citizens. No charges were brought against them, there were no hearings.

Initially they didn't know where they were going, how long they would be detained, what conditions they would face or what fate might await them. First sent to temporary detention camps set up in converted race tracks and fair grounds, they lived in crowded, often unsanitary conditions with barbed wire fences and armed guard towers surrounding the compounds. From there they were transported to one of ten permanent camps, including Minidoka, where they remained for many - most remained for three years. It was a story line worthy of the most extreme of Burroughs fantasies.

The Minidoka camp was opened in August 1942 and ultimately housed thirteen thousand Nikkei, mostly from the Seattle and Portland areas. The camp was filled up at the rate of about five hundred a day in the heat of summer, the first group arriving on a day of one hundred twelve degrees, brought by train from western Washington and Portland.

Those first inhabitants at Minidoka arrived to find a camp still under construction. There was no hot running water and the sewage system had not been installed. The initial reaction to this harsh landscape by many was one of discouragement. Upon arriving one internee wrote, "When we first arrived here we almost cried and thought that this was a land that God had forgotten. The vast expanse of nothing but sagebrush and dust, a landscape so alien to our eyes and a desolate woe-be-gone feeling of being so far removed from home and fireside bogged us down mentally as well as physically."

And underneath this reaction to the physical reaction which was characterized by the extreme heat in the summer, extreme cold in the winter and always the dust, there was a feeling of being abandoned by this country. How Nikkei conducted themselves in this tragic situation is testimony to their inner strengths and courage. One must remember that it was more than just the physical hardship and deprivation that they endured. It was also the rejection and the loss of liberty from their own country - the country with which the Issei had cast their lot and in which the Nissei had been born. As one writer put it in talking about this, he said, there was the hurt of the thing and the way he expressed that seems to me to capture the essence of it.

Yet in spite of their treatment at the hands of their government, Japanese Americans remained loyal to the United States and many demonstrated that loyalty by volunteering for military service. They were segregated into an all Japanese American combat unit and fought in France and Italy and some with the military intelligence service in the Pacific. The story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team is one of the great historic stories of World War II.

Well, why did this happen? Why were the constitutional rights and civil liberties of these people so easily disregarded? Many things contributed to this, obviously. Fear of possible Japanese sabotage and espionage was rampant, and an outraged public felt an understandable desire to lash out at those who had attacked the nation - but for many that target expanded to those of the same nationality here in the United States. But these anti-Japanese feelings did not appear just over night. The imprisonment of Japanese Americans was in many respects merely an extension of more than a century of racial prejudice against the "yellow peril." Laws passed in the early 1900s denied immigrants from Japan the right to become naturalized citizens, to own land and to marry outside their race. In 1924 immigration from Japan was halted altogether. Idaho had its own episodes of expression of xenophobia with an anti-Japanese land law in 1923 and an anti-miscegenation law prohibiting Japanese from marrying Caucasians passed in 1922.

In the action implementing the intent of Executive Order 9066, where was the concern about keeping faith with the Constitution? Only a few raised questions. Attorney General Biddle who called the action ill-advised, unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel was one of very few voices. J. Edgar Hoover opposed it as well and even Secretary of War Henry Stimson had grave doubts about the constitutionality of a plan based on the racial characteristics of a particular minority group. In his diary he wrote that he doubted the military necessity of such an action and that the removal of all Japanese Americans from the West Coast would "make a tremendous hole in our constitutional system".

One of our keynote speakers to follow I think will deal with this issue in the role of Franklin Roosevelt and there is very little I can add to his scholarly contributions in that area but I do have a few comments on the question. Robert Jackson, who had served as Roosevelt's attorney general before being appointed to the Supreme Court once observed that Roosevelt was "a strong skeptic of legal reasoning" and despite his reputation was not a "strong champion of civil rights". Jackson's successor as Attorney General Francis Biddle, whom I mentioned earlier, speculated about why Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. He wrote in his memoir that he did not think "the constitutional difficulty plagued him" and he went on to say this which is a mantra for our time, "the constitution has never greatly bothered any war time president".

Opposition to this action was very limited. There were very few public officials, among them Senators Sheridan Downey of California and Mayor Harry Cain of Tacoma who opposed it. And even most civil liberties groups kept relatively quiet, presumably in the interest of national unity. In the years immediately after World War II attitudes about the Japanese incarceration began to shift and over time many participants in that action have reflected on the roles they played. Some even had misgivings at the time that it was unconstitutional and immoral. In April of 1942 Milton Eisenhower who was the National Director of the War Relocation Authority - the civilian agency responsible for running the camps - lamented that " when this war is over we as Americans are going to regret the injustices we have done."

Throughout the 1950s most of the legal discriminations against Japanese Americans were lifted including the bans on Japanese immigration and naturalization. One by one, state laws against alien Japanese owning or leasing land were also set aside as was Idaho's law in 1955. In 1959 Idaho lifted the racial intermarriage ban as well and six years later in 1965 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled all anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.

The immorality and unconstitutionality of the internment have continued to reverberate. In 1970 the first legislative plan for redress for those imprisoned in the camps was initiated by the Seattle Evacuation Redress Committee under the sponsorship of the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. As part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the Constitution in 1976, President Gerald Ford issued Presidential Proclamation 4417 in which he acknowledged that we must recognize our national mistakes as well as our national achievements. February 19 he noted is the anniversary of a sad day in American history and observed that we know now what we should have known then - that the evacuation and internment of loyal Japanese Americans was wrong.

Four years later the Commission on War Time Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established to review the implementation of Executive Order 9066. The Commission was made up of former members of Congress and the Supreme Court and the cabinet as well as distinguished private citizens. It heard testimony from more than seven hundred witnesses. It reviewed hundreds of documents that previously had been unavailable. And in 1983 the Commission concluded that the factors that had shaped the internment decision were "race prejudiced, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership and not as had been claimed, military necessity." It recommended that Congress pass a joint resolution to be signed by the President which recognizes that a grave injustice was done and offer the apologies of the nation for the acts of exclusion, removal and detention.

The same year Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Min Yasui filed petitions for writs of Corum Nobis to have their convictions set aside for manifest injustice and the following year Federal Judge Marilyn Patel granted Korematsu's petition and found that the government had knowingly and intentionally failed to disclose critical information that contradicted the government's claims. She declared that the Supreme Court's decision in Korematsu "stands as a constant caution in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees. It stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability. And it stands as a caution that in times of international hostility the judiciary must be prepared to exercise its authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused." And in 1987 the Federal Court of Appeals granted Gordon Hirabayashi's petition and vacated his conviction. Min Yasui's case was in the process of moving in the same direction but he died before its final resolution. In the last year of his presidency, Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which officially declared the internment as a grave injustice.

In a recent book, Jeffery Stone, the former dean of the University Of Chicago Law School, commented that in times of war fever we are likely to lose our perspective and needlessly sacrifice fundamental liberties, particularly the fundamental liberties of those we already fear and despise. In World War II the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court all failed in their responsibility to preserve and protect the Constitution and the public sat silently by or worse, cheered them on. He then goes on in the book to pose the question, How do we get it right in the future? And if all of this is so patently clear how do we get it right? Part of the answer he offers is that a critical determinant of how a nation responds to the stresses of war time is the attitude of the public. Citizens in a self-governing society are responsible for their own actions and the actions of their government. They cannot expect government officials to act calmly and judiciously without regard to their own response. In 1944 the eminent jurist Learned Hand wrote, "I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes. Believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there no constitution, no law, no court can save it."

Well, in the discussion over these issues Minidoka has played a continuing role. For many years after the camp closed, most associated with that experience seemed intent on letting the memories die. By the mid 1970s interest was quickening nationally to revisit the decision imprisoning Japanese Americans including those milestones I just referred to. By that time only a limited number of acres of the original camp site remained in Federal hands and then through the work of very enterprising and dedicated members of the Pocatello/Blackfoot JACL [Japanese American Citizens League], working with the staff of Senator Frank Church the site was named a National Historic Site. Interest in Minidoka grew throughout the '80s as the Commission continued its work and issued its findings.

The public awareness over the Hirabayashi, Korematsu and Yasui cases also heightened interest and in 1990 through the work of Idaho's Centennial Commission the Intermountain District Council of JACL and once again the Pocatello/Blackfoot JACL, additional memorializing was done at the site. It was named an Idaho Centennial Site and some of the very fine plaques you see there now were placed at that time.

And then as Neal mentioned earlier the most significant event of all is the naming of Minidoka as a National Monument in 2001 by President Clinton. The Presidential Proclamation called the site a unique and irreplaceable historic resource which protects historic structures and objects that provide opportunities for public education and interpretation of an important chapter in American history - the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

So we have President Ford's Proclamation of Apology, the findings of the Commission, the rendering of decisions in the Yasui, Korematsu, Hirabayashi cases, the passage of the Civil Liberties Act, the establishment of a National Monument. What else is there to do? It seems that that should be enough. Unfortunately the answer is that it's not enough. And we need only look at the public reaction to the naming of the site as a National Monument to see that it is not enough.

In 2001 when the camp was designated as a National Monument it became painfully clear. Much of the early public reaction as evidenced in the newspapers was negative - ranging from a rather benign view that it would be better just not to talk about those things to a repetition of the arguments used in 1941 and 1942 supporting the decision. This language from one letter to the editor makes the point and when the letter ran the newspaper editors put this caption on it: Concentration Camps were Justified. And the letter contained this statement, "It is unrealistic to think that racism was a factor in the government's decision to relocate West Coast Japanese Americans to camp. Only extremely naïve people would not suspect that there were Japanese secret agents among them since Japan had been planning to bomb Pearl Harbor for years." A lot of disconnects in there but I think you get the idea. Unwittingly perhaps the editorial writer and some of the writers of letters to the editor at that time actually helped underscore the need for Minidoka as a National Monument and for its historic and educational mission. There was clearly a need for public education on the subject.

In his proclamation, President Clinton echoed the sentiment embodied in the last words of the plaque that had been placed there in 1979 when it was named a Historic Site. "May these camps serve to remind us what can happen when other factors supersede the constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens and aliens living in this country." After the designation the Park Service then had the task of assuming control of the site and the development of the general management plan which Neal has talked about and I had the good fortune to be a small part of that process as a member of the planning team. It was an interesting process. It ranged over many years and as Neal said, one of the issues that kept coming up were issues the issues relating to civil liberties and constitutional rights and we find that embodied in bold relief in the plan. It is a venue for engaging in a dialogue concerning that violation.

Other language from the plan refers to the National Monument offering a unique setting to reflect on the incarceration experience and the relationship of this experience to contemporary and future political and social events. Early in the life of the monument a non-profit organization was formed now headed by Jim Osomono, who spoke to you earlier, whose purpose is to support the Park Service in the management of its site. And a significant part of the mission relates to the education of the general public about the history of Japanese American internment, particularly as it relates to civil liberties and current parallels and we're working with the Park Service and CSI [College of Southern Idaho] to accomplish these goals which brings us to this forum.

Well ahead of the development of educational opportunities on the site the sponsors of this forum have felt it was important to get the work going as soon as possible. This is our second effort and we're still trying to get it right. We understand that the task is formidable but we believe that it is critical that citizens understand and internalize the values of civil liberties and why we must protect them. They must understand that in war time, even well meaning individuals can be swept along by the mentality of the mob and the current day McCarthys of the media whose rants appeal to the worst rather than the best in the American people.

In every war there is always a struggle in achieving a balance between security and liberty and much of the responsibility for that rests directly in the President's office. Our record as a nation shows that liberty has always come out on the short end of that. In order to achieve a proper balance we need strong political leaders with a sense of right and wrong, judges who can stand up to public pressures and the press, members of the bar and academics who help us see the issues clearly, a Congress safeguarding the separation of powers and most of all an informed and tolerant public who will value not only their own liberties but the liberties of others as well. And I hope we can accomplish some of that in these two days. Thank you very much.

Hero Shiosaki lives in Blackfoot, Idaho. He joined the Army and was part of the 442nd RCT.

Jim: When did you join the service? You joined right? You weren't drafted, is that right?

Hero: I got drafted March - I took my oath of allegiance March the 12th, 1942.

Jim: Was there a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment at the time?

Hero: Well, there was. We had some good friends but people who didn't know us, you know, thought well, them guys might do sabotage like the Hearst Newspapers were putting out and everything, but those who knew us defended us, you know. I remember the chief of police coming over and said, "Anybody gives you any trouble just let me know and I'll take care of it." And then my brother. He was the salutatorian and they didn't know about having a Japanese guy up there delivering the salutatory address so they didn't have one and sixty-three years later when I went to a high school awards assembly, somebody had gotten a hold of the principal and told him all this and the first thing that happened they called him up and gave him the salutatory award. And right here in Pocatello there was the Yamashta family that had five guys, five of the six boys in the Army, and you know how they used to hang out their blue stars on the red, white and somebody thought it was a pretty good thing to shoot at it with a rifle and I think things like that caused Mrs. Yamashta to not feel very good and she passed away I think at an earlier age . . .

Jim: What was it when Pearl Harbor was bombed? Did that change the way people looked at you?

Hero: Well, it probably did change the way some people looked at me, you know, but we had other kids because they played with us all the time, I remember going to the funeral of Russell Paxton and his sister was telling me, "Mom told the little boys go over and live with the Shiosaki's. You are over there all the time anyway" and we had friends who would come and eat, sit down and we taught them how to eat with chopsticks and they would eat rice and the Japanese food that my mom cooked, you know. So, for those people the fact is some of those just decided they were going to help us, you know. We might have been just friends. They became protective of us.

Jim: What was it like? I know you weren't in the camps, but when they started bringing these people in and putting them in the camps, what was that like for your family to watch that happening?

Hero: Well, they didn't get to watch it. My dad got fired you know and got kicked out of the section house and things like this. I think as far as newspapers were concerned they could not read English. Just very limited and we didn't subscribe to a paper and we didn't have a radio that they could understand so they probably weren't even in some ways not even aware that that camp even existed, see?

Jim: So that wasn't something that you guys knew about and everybody talked about and that kind of thing?

My dad told me he’d rather see me come home in a casket than come home in disgrace. My dad, on my last furlough as I was saying goodbye to him, kind of grabbed my arm and said, ‘Hero,’ in a Japanese I could understand, ‘you are an American soldier. You go fight for America. And if you have to die for America, so be it.’

Hero: No. Not until after it started happening and then some of the communities here they were going to be placed, they became kind of concerned. What's all these - what's going to happen with all those Japs or Japanese in here? Our governor Chase Clark didn't do us any favors. The fact that he said that they ought to take all of us people and all these Japs and put them on an island in the Pacific Ocean and sink it, sink the island and you know when those guys make "patriotic statements," just to get the people's spirits up, sometimes they say things they shouldn't be saying.

Jim: What is that like when you hear that from the governor? What does that feel like when you hear the governor say something?

Hero: The sad part of that is we had that governor at our Japanese American Intermountain District Convention in Pocatello on the Thanksgiving weekend which was just about two weeks before Pearl Harbor and they told him, "If war breaks out, we are going to fight for the United States of America." But sometimes politically you know, you let your mouth get ahead of your brains or something.

Jim: Do you think that was something he regretted later?

Hero: I don't know. I've read where he apologized or anything else.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about joining. I know you talk at how you joined, you moved around. What was it like when you actually ended up in the 442nd? What was that like for you at that time?

Hero: Well, we were going to go on a pass to Nebraska, some friends you know that were with us at Fort Warren, Wyoming. Said, well we're going to get a pass and go to my place which is probably a hundred, hundred fifty miles away and we were all set to go and they cancelled but they didn't tell us what was going to happen and in the Army they don't tell you even if you ask where you are going or what's happening and they just said, yeah, all the passes and leaves are cancelled and that was it and so we wondered, Well now what is going to happen? And on the appointed day, we left Fort Warren, Wyoming, got on a train and headed there. We didn't know it was Camp Shelby, Mississippi either till we got there.

Jim: What did you hear when they said there was going to be this thing called the 442nd? What did they tell you? How did that happen?

Hero: Well, we wound up and they had picked the cadre, you know the people who were going to be non-coms who filled the positions and because I worked in a garage they made me a motor transport person. Then we went down there and trained so that we could be ready for the new recruits and after we had arrived there and right after the people had arrived, Colonel Pence had us all gather around and he told us, "You are here training for combat," and even then it probably didn't sink in what we were going to do. And we'd just go do whatever they asked us or told us to do.

Jim: Were you surprised to look around and see all these other Japanese fellows?

Hero: Yeah. I never saw so many Japanese in my life.

Jim: They hadn't sort of known what to do with you guys from what I heard?

Hero: Well, they had officers who had been trained you know who came in and I don't know whether some of the officers really wanted to be with us but there were some who were really nice. You watched that video, didn't you? I think Colonel Hanley was speaking, telling that he had read this article that some newspaper person in his hometown had written saying that the only good Jap was a dead one and Colonel Hanley answered him and things like that. And he made the statement when he first saw these guys. He said they were the sharpest guys he'd ever seen, in this book you know. And how they worked hard and everything else without any complaints and did what they were asked to. That's how we got started.

Jim: What was the spirit of the day? You said at first when you found out it was going to be a combat team, you didn't know exactly what you were getting into but as you started to realize it, what did it feel like? What was the spirit? What were the attitudes of people and stuff?

Hero: Well, good. That's what they were in the Army for. I'll have to tell you a little story about the 100th Battalion. I don't know if that video showed much of the 100th but when Pearl Harbor broke out there were a lot of Japanese Americans in the 198th and 199th Regiments. Those were the guys who went down to the Waikiki Beach and built the fortifications in case the Japanese were going to land there and after a few days they got to wondering whether they could really trust them and I understand they took their rifles away from them and kind of put them in, you know, in limbo. And they decided to take most of or maybe all of them, I don't know, the National Guards out of the 198 and 199 and they brought them to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and this was done very secretly that relatives who went to visit one Sunday and nobody was there. Nobody knew where they went. They didn't tell anybody and they rode this Matson Liner into San Francisco - about a five day trip they tell me - and when they got there they would not let the 100th Battalion disembark. They didn't want the public to see so many Japanese at one time. And it was about midnight one night that they decided to unload them. I guess they had to get the trains in there. And I read the story where they had three different trains. One went the northern route, one went the central route, and one went the southern route through Texas and then came back up to Wisconsin. The other one of course went toward Omaha and the other one probably went northern through Missoula and those places like that. And these guys had to train in the snow banks and if you can imagine a Hawaiian who lived where seventy-five was the coldest it ever got and it was about eighty-five to ninety all the time. And they were about eight months ahead of us.

They shipped out before we did and the 100th went to Oran, Morocco and they were guarding that port and I read where the colonel went into the division headquarters and said, "Well, when do we get to fight?" He said, "We came over to fight, we didn't come over to guard this blessed airport, you know." So when they were attached to the 34th Division and when they went into Sicily and southern Italy, they were committed to battle. But that was the attitude and a lot of the guys who came into our company wanted to go to the 100th. They didn't want the 442nd , they wanted the 100th because the 100th Battalion originated in Hawaii and this was their goal. Fact is one of my Jeep drivers wanted to go to the 100th and he got his wish.

But that was the spirit and I know that a lot of times our parents were not trusted because they were not able to speak English and I used to be kind of embarrassed that my father and mother hadn't learned too much English, but later on when I got older I got to thinking, where could they have learned English? And anybody who was capable of teaching them and my dad had to work six days a week to make a living so when could he have gone to school and learned English? As I look back, why I think for what he did, he did a great job coming over here uneducated as an American, you know, and adapted to things. And I know that almost all of the Japanese Americans, whether they were in the camps and went into the military or living outside the camps were admonished. Don't ever shame or bring disgrace onto the family name or the Japanese race.

My dad told me he'd rather see me come home in a casket than come home in disgrace. My dad, on my last furlough as I was saying goodbye to him, kind of grabbed my arm and said, "Hero," in a Japanese I could understand, "you are an American soldier. You go fight for America. And if you have to die for America, so be it." And of course he never lived to see us come back.

I remember a remark that (inaudible) made. There were two Japanese Americans who after about fifty-five years after the war ended were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. One was posthumous and the other one was still living and he said - his words were really good - he said, "You folks were not in the camps with the (inaudible). Fight for your country, survive if you can but die if you must." And I think that's the spirit that made our combat team become recognized for being the most decorated and the most decimated unit of its size and time in the annals of American military history. There were some companies - I don't remember whether the video tells you that - but when they rescued the Lost Battalion, we saved 211 and we suffered 811 - over 800 casualties. And some companies that at full strength are about 190 were down to nine and seven people. In name we were still the combat team but we didn't have any soldiers left.

Jim: There was a general who was listening to people, looking at the Japanese troops and sort of evaluating them. Remind me of the statement that he made about, you know, if this is what these guys - send me ten thousand of them . . .

Hero: General Mark Clark. When we were trained I understand that General Dwight Eisenhower did not want us in the operation like France and England where he was. General Mark Clark took us and the Pentagon naturally was wondering if these Japanese Americans were unloyal. We hadn't raised a lot of resistance to fighting and so somebody called General Mark Clark and he used the Lord's name in vain when he said, "They are the best blank soldiers in the United States. Send me all you've got." And after the first battles in Italy, the Japanese Americans had established themselves as being very formidable soldiers. And most of the guys were in their nineteen to twenties. Physically they were up. I was one of the older guys and I was about twenty-two, or twenty-three I think.

Jim: When you hear about Pearl Harbor and what was going on - Pearl Harbor happened and there was this great swelling in spirit and we're going to go over there and we're going to get them. What I've heard from some of the Japanese Americans I've talked to is when that happened it changed their lives in a completely different way. What was that like? How do you explain that to people what it felt like when that happened?

Hero: Well, when it happened I didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was you know. I didn't even know where the Hawaiian Islands were because we didn't have TV coverage and things and my father never subscribed to an English paper. He got a Japanese paper out of California which was about a week old before it ever got there. And of course when they found out it was actually a real war then I figured that I was going into the Army. Period. Of course I didn't think about where I would be going to fight or anything else. I don't know whether we were caught up in events just like everybody else but we were probably more reserved I suppose in many ways than the rest of the people. After my dad got fired and that we didn't know what was going to happen to the family.

Jim: Did your dad get fired because he was Japanese?

Hero: Yes.

Jim: What happened?

Hero: Well, we found out that the FBI had ordered the railroads and the mines to fire all the Japanese people. Period. A little side story is I met Fumi Shimata. I didn't have any idea about what was going on but while this reparation was going on after the war was over the JACL [Japanese American Citizens League] worked on getting some compensation for those who had lost all their valuable farms, businesses, land, homes and jobs and everything else. Kind of a payback for them and at the end Fumi Shimata was a two and a half year old girl when her dad got fired in Sparks, Nevada and it just burned her to a crisp to think you know, as she grew up and she kept thinking about it. It just burned her to a crisp to think that something like that would have happened to her folks and when they got fired nobody wanted to rent them a home to live in in Sparks. No job, no house.

So she made a one man committee, you know, a one woman committee so she could get this right. Right it. And one day she ran into Andy Russell and Andy came and interviewed some of us in Jackpot a little over ten years ago and she and Andy got talking and he said, "I've got a photocopy of that memo from the FBI," and Fumi took that and ran with it. Toward the end of Bill Clinton's administration and they ruled that the Japanese section railroad people and the mine people were entitled to this coverage or this act, the House Bill 442, and made Fumi happy.

And the way that I got to know Fumi is when they were reading this "Pacific Citizen" that Fumi Shimata they had quite a write-up about her and how she had done all this work. She was in Sacramento so I called directory assistance and got the number on the Shimata family and called them and I met Fumi. I thanked her for what she had done because as one of the surviving people of my father I got that money too, see? Just out of the clear blue sky I thought, well I'll send her some Idaho Russet potatoes and I sent her a fifty pound box and we, you know, calling and talking we became good friends and two years ago we met in Elko, Nevada. She wanted to come to Blackfoot because her grandpa worked on the railroad in Blackfoot and she wanted to see what kind of a town it was. I said, "Well Fumi, they've torn the round house down, they've torn the section houses down and everything. There isn't anything for you to see." But she still felt we should meet so I said, "Well let's meet in Elko, Nevada," and I met Fumi. And she had just retired as a school teacher down there and she and I are good friends.

Jim: Did your dad work for the railroad?

Hero: Her dad.

Jim: Your dad.

Hero: My dad was a section foreman.

Jim: Was a section foreman for the UP? For the Union Pacific or who was he with?

Hero: Union Pacific.

Jim: Okay. When did you first get over to Europe and where did you go?

Hero: Well we landed in oh, Naples, Italy. It took us a whole month to get there. Four good weeks. We got on the ship the first of May and we sat in that harbor for about five days and then finally shipped out and zig-zagged all over through the ocean to get to Naples and we landed there the very last part of May or first part of June.

Jim: When did you first see combat?

Hero: Oh, I don't remember the day.

Jim: What was it like and where was it?

Hero: Well, like I say, we probably didn't know what we were doing to begin with. You know we get unloaded, the arms and everything else like trucks and whatever you need and then the 100th Battalion became our first battalion. And we had three battalions and our first battalion moved Camp Blanding, Florida to train Japanese American soldiers as replacements for our combat teams, see? And I might have told you this story about (inaudible) coming out of the café. His dad had the Silver Grill Café. One day one of the guys found some flour and I threw this out to the kids. What would you do if you found a sack of flour? Some kids don't even know what flour is. Well he's coming out of the café went around and picked up this GI tooth powder which had baking soda and salt in it and he whipped them up some pancakes and boy did they like that. They had been eating out of these cans, C-ration cans and boxes, you know, K-ration boxes and I still cooked a pancake like that near his dad's café. Dad would have booted him out the back door but to those people who had not eaten any food like that it was just absolutely out of this world.

Jim: So when you got over there you said they outfitted you, you got armed up, they got your trucks and all that. When did they first move you folks into combat?

Hero: Well it was - Rome had been declared an open city and the Germans had withdrawn. It was somewhere around Sovita Vecchia and those places. I should have written down all those places I went to and the dates but, you know, sometimes you don't even have time to do that and you forget the towns. The first day of combat our first sergeant got shot. He got a million dollar wound. That means that you know, you never have to go back to combat. And like you say, our headquarters was out ahead of some of the line companies and we're supposed to be in the back coordinating all the battle scenes.

Jim: So tell me a little bit about what that was like when you guys got into it.

Hero: Well, I was not a rifleman. I had charge of the motor pool you know, to make sure all the majors and the colonels and that had Jeeps going all the time and the drivers and what not and it was the people in Companies A, B, and C, E, F, and G, I, K, and L, and you know where the line companies that carried the rifles, machine guns and things like that. Dog Company D, H, and M were the heavy weapons that had the water cooled machine guns and the 81 millimeter mortars instead of the 60 millimeter mortars. Because I was not a member of any of those companies sometimes we were always behind the line so to speak but we did get shelled sometimes by the Germans with their 88's and things like that.

I think the biggest thing that bothered a lot of us - we didn't know - they'd load up...The lieutenants would tell you that and lieutenants would get it from the captains and the captains would get it from - and the other thing that I think - I know will always live in my mind is we were not big enough to have a quartermaster company for our funeral detail, you know, our (inaudible) registration and our company executive officer, Lieutenant Gilmore, the colonel said, "You are it, you are the registration officer for this regiment. That means Lieutenant Gilmore had to account for every Japanese American soldier that was killed, you know, so we took him to the disposal area or can't find him or whatever.

Jim: You were talking about getting into combat and what that was like and -

Hero: Well, some of the fighting you know, it took some days to move forward and I think Hill 140 was one of the first ones that we went into and we had the job of - Lieutenant Gilmore was a nice guy, he came over and asked us. He didn't say, "You, you and you go with me." He said, "Well, Shiosaki, can you help me this afternoon?" or whatever and we would go with him wherever the maps indicated that the casualties were. And it was quite an experience, speaking of dead American soldiers.

You know, here in America when somebody passes away and have a funeral they're all decked out and dressed up and everything else but in battle it's not that way and I think one of the first ones that we went on, Sergeant Goshimoto and I and I think First Sergeant (inaudible) and we were calling around there looking for the people on the on this map and we finally asked Goshimoto if he'd found any and he said, "There's a fellow, a soldier here but he's a krombo," and a krombo means a black man and we went over there pulled his dog tag out and a Japanese name, but he had laid in the sun long enough that he turned bluish-black, you know. Others he could pick up that might have had a clean wound. I remember one major, a Caucasian major had stepped on a mine and his leg was gone and he'd been disemboweled and of course the beautiful thing about that is he never knew what he'd stepped on. And others that had lain there for several days were nothing but maggots crawling out of them, you know their orifices, out of their sleeves. If you get through one of those details in the afternoon you don't feel like eating supper at night.

These are the things that I think about when I think about patriotism and love of country and things like this, the fellows who gave their lives in this manner and a lot of our young people when you tell them, mention it, have no inkling of what is going on. Just say if it happened, the Germans - I know that we passed some tanks where a German tank had been shot and you know the fuel gets on fire and the guys get out of there as fast as they can. I saw some German guys who were just burned and another thing that I remember is we were going up the Alps Mountains, you know, the French Alps and those hairpin turns were so sharp that the American trucks could not get around them and they'd have to back up and go ahead and back up, you know. And there was one truck that must have backed up a little too much and it might have been towing a big cannon and it just pulled it right on down to the ledge where they had come up from and it killed all the guys that were riding in that truck. And at that time when the French people were just thankful and I remember the French were there...France and these guys died for France you know.

Jim: People talk about the 442nd and they talk about being a whole group of heroes. People always tend to think of heroes as storming the top of the hill or running through the town or shooting and dropping the bombs but the things that you talk about seem to me to speak more to real heroism.

Hero: I'd like to say that there are quite a few people who got the medal but there's probably a lot more of them that deserved and that did not get them you know, because there was nobody to substantiate what they had done.

Hero: He had wiped out two machine gun nests and then the Germans threw a hand grenade in the fox hole that he was in. He covered that with his body. In a couple of seconds he was gone but the other two guys in there lived and he received the only Congressional Medal of Honor during the war time. And Eric Stahl said, "Well, it was pretty hard for the United States government to say that the Japanese were disloyal and then to give them medals, you know.

And in the late 1990s Senator Dan Akaka probably was a member of a group or a committee that started reviewing the Congressionals and they reviewed fifty-three Japanese American soldiers' records that had gotten the Distinguished Service Cross which is under and when they compared that to Audie Murphy's record, these guys had done more to get a DSC than Audie did to get the Congressional. So a committee that reviewed those promoted I think nineteen more, nineteen or twenty more, to Congressionals and so we got twenty or twenty-one Congressionals instead of one. And the same thing happened to the 92nd Buffalo Division, Vernon Baker. He didn't get his until 1997 for the fighting he did in '45 and they promoted six and he was the only one living. The five people had perished. And in the case of the Japanese Americans, eleven of them had gotten killed getting the DSC so that left nine out of the twenty and out of the nine, three had passed away and one was unable to come but President Clinton gave the Congressional to five of the attendees there.

Jim: You mentioned Vernon Baker and we talked to him when we were working on the last program that we did. One of the things that struck me about him and about you is that I don't feel a lot of bitterness from either of you, though it would certainly seem to me that you have the right to be a little bitter about some of these things - you and Vernon Baker.

Hero: Well, I guess just to make the best of it. What's happened, happened, you know.

Jim: But that's tough -

Hero: And bitterness is not going to solve anything. Fact is, it will go the other way really.

Jim: You talked about the memorial that is here in Pocatello for these guys and the medals. And I know you don't go over there to fight for medals but why is it important to recognize with -

Hero: Well, I think we're trying to do it for the generations that follow, like my grandkids. When I start talking about discrimination, well, what's that, you know? I don't feel any of it or anything else but they need to know that you should know history so that you can plan the future and things like this. There probably are some people that you open their eyes. I know when I've spoken at schools I've had people go, my god, I didn't know we did things like that, you know?

You talk about the internment camps, you probably never heard of Crystal City, Texas at the 11th Camp. The United States government bartered with Peru to send some of the Japanese Peruvians up to this camp in Texas. They wanted to use those people to barter in prisoner exchanges and when the war ended Peru didn't want those people back again. They didn't want them so there they were, stuck in the United States. People without a country because we thought that was the thing to do and right now they are working on a Latin American reparations program to honor these people that we, you know, kidnapped and brought to the United States of America.

Jim: You talk about people without a country. Do you think that some of those Japanese Americans felt like that?

Hero: Well, there were some Japanese Americans that were probably upset you know. Here we're American citizens. We haven't been charged with a crime yet they were being treated like prisoners. No trial and the Supreme Court ruled that President Roosevelt's executive order 9066 was constitutional, it was okay. So they didn't charge anybody with anything yet they imprisoned them but these people had no appeals process because they weren't convicted. And there were people like Gordon Hirabayashi - there were three of those guys. Anyway, Fred Korematsu and a fellow from Portland, Oregon. This fellow from Portland, Oregon worked for the Japanese consulate in Chicago. The day after Pearl Harbor he resigned his job. He came back to Portland to get back into - he had a second lieutenancy in the reserves and found that he couldn't get in and things like this and it made him angry that he was being discriminated against, you know. I'm going to have to jot these names down so I -

Jim: That's all right.

Hero: Anyway, those three people really fought with the government and Gordon Hirabayashi was convicted in the court in Washington because he consulted - he was a law student and he consulted his law professor and the professor said, "Well, that's unconstitutional. We'd better go fight it," you know. And he was convicted and he was sentenced to go down to Arizona to serve his prison time. I hear the story that Gordon asked, "Well, how do I get there?" "Well, you're on your own." Can you imagine a felon being on his own? And he hitchhiked through and I read stories where he slept in some onion patches and when he got down there the word hadn't gotten down to the authorities down there to expect Gordon. The guy said, "I don't have anything on you." So, I don't know exactly what happened after that, but anyway these are some of the goofy things that happened, you know, during the war.

Jim: We were in Washington DC at the World War II Memorial. Have you been there?

Hero: I went to the Japanese American World War II Memorial.

Jim: I was going to ask you. We didn't go there. I think we're going to be making a trip back and go and see that but why go to that one and not the World War II Memorial - for you?

Hero: Well, I only went there for two days. I was appointed by or selected by Senator Craig for this two day symposium, Asian and Latinos conference, you know. And they kept us busy and the only time I went to the Japanese one was at night and I saw it under the lights.

Jim: I guess it's a pretty neat thing. What did you think when you saw it?

Hero: Well, I didn't know what I was expecting, you know. All I knew, they were trying to raise money and all of a sudden they had the thirteen million bucks, by God. Everybody must have chipped in a lot of money. And they have all the camps in it, you know. The ten camps and the granite wall there with the inscription, they've got waterfalls and all these things like that. It's quite artistic. It's near the Hyatt Hotel.

Jim: Inspiring or -

Hero: It makes you proud that it's something - it's an educational thing for anybody who visits Washington DC, who goes in without too much knowledge, you know, and just like going through the Smithsonian. My brother's got his picture in the Smithsonian. When I went there we caught a taxi cab. We want to go to the Smithsonian Institute. "Well, what building do you want to go to?" We didn't want to walk down so - and they had this Japanese American exhibit in this one building. It's a humongous thing.

Jim: Interesting. And his picture is in there?

Hero: Well, his picture is. I didn't get to see Mike's picture but I've had people tell me it's hanging there in the Smithsonian. "I saw your brother's picture."

Jim: That's funny. You talked about the Japanese Memorial in Washington DC and not going to the World War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial - we went there and it's huge and grand and the lights and water and stars and all that kind of stuff. Does that feel like yours also or not?

Hero: Well, I would have like to have gone. If I had been using my brain I would have probably said, "I won't come back." I probably should have stayed for several days and gone to Arlington National Cemetery and places like that. The Supreme Court Building. They showed me where Watergate took place and things like this but I missed a lot of spots and I missed a chance to do that.

Jim: One of the things you talked about was talking to kids and about why it's so important. You talked about it's so important to get the message out. What's the message? What do they need to hear?

Hero: Well first of all, they need to read history, hear about it so that if anything like this is trying to happen they can identify it and if they believe truly that everybody has equal rights here then they've got to get on the bandwagon and say, "Hey this is discrimination. It's not right." Historically I think it's nice to talk to the young kids because they can learn so much about history, about things that happened. What happened to the Japanese Americans is not in any books hardly. At least I've never been able to find it.

Jim: Not much. What does it mean for you to be able to talk to them, do you think?

Hero: Well I think I'm doing something I should be doing. I don't know whether the Lord is telling me to do it or what but it's something that I enjoy. I don't consider it a burden. I spend quite a bit of my own money you know, traveling and I've been up to Montana, Eureka. Do you know where that is? Way up there. And I've been to St. Maries and over toward Nampa and just wherever they ask me to come.

Jim: It's so much more meaningful when you can actually talk to someone who was there rather than just read the book or something - even if it's on television - that it's much better to hear from you than an expert on World War II sort of thing. What is it like - you talked about friends, buddies from the Army that are no longer with us. What is it like now to be one of the ones that's left that is telling these stories?

Hero: Well, I hate to think that I'm growing old but that's exactly what's happening and I don't know of anybody who can share the experiences that I've had and I think it's important. And the other thing that I try to get over to the kids is you are here to get an education. Your parents are not the most important people in your life. The most important people in your life are sitting right here in front of me and you've got to pick up everything and put it up here and get to work. And tell them to respect the teachers and help each other out.

I'll never forget John D. O'Brien. I never met John he met me in the parking lot. I asked John, "How long would you like me to talk," and we had no conversation before that. I thought he'd say, "Oh, a couple of classes. They're about 45 minutes." He said, "Well, our lunch hour ends at 12:40 and you can have the rest of the day," and he had an assembly arranged and when I was telling the kids, "You respect your teachers and your family people. You listen up, you ask them questions, you help each other out in school," and he was just sitting there grinning from ear to ear.

I think when somebody from the outside comes in and tells those kids the same thing that the school teacher has been beating on maybe they will listen up and there are two or three more people get to work, why, I've done something good.

Jim: One of the things that Vernon Baker talked about was that - I'd asked him about bitterness and those things and he said, "Fighting each other doesn't work." That you've got to find ways to come together. Is that something that you want to tell kids, and is that important do you think?

Hero: That's true. And I told Vernon I read his book and I said the one thing I really remember about you is you had to go hunt jackrabbits when you lived in Cheyenne you know so he'd have something to eat at night. He and I hit it off, I mean just like that when we met each other. I'm in a reading program. But last year and this year I've been going to the Southgate School, I mean I.T. Stoddard School four days a week and having the second graders read to me and it just makes me feel good to see these kids. They would have improved even without me but I think I've taken them maybe a step higher and gotten a whole bunch of good young kids as friends who come up and speak to me and give me a hug and things like this you know, for what I've done. They put a booklet together, with pages that each kid has written out and things like this and thank you for coming and helping us read and all these things like this.

Jim: We talked about some of the folks that are no longer with us. Do you ever think about why you are one of the ones that is still around telling these stories?

Hero: No. I figured I'd be dead by about sixty-five. I used to paint automobiles, spray painting, see? Grinding dirt off of the - dead paint off of the fenders and coughing it up and spitting it out and stuff like this and I thought, Heck, I probably won't live much past sixty-five. I mean I'm completely amazed. I had hepatitis in the Army and the doctor that checked me over - I would never drink or anything - but he said, "Don't you ever start drinking because if you do you'll get cirrhosis of the liver and it will kill you." I didn't believe in smoking because my dad did and he had a horrible cough all the time and I just decided those things aren't for me. Believe me I won't deny it, I've lost thirty pounds, thirty-five pounds, in the last year and I have to because I'm not as stable as I used to be and things like this and I guess it's the Lord's will.

Jim: What should people know about what that time was like? You know Tom Brokaw wrote the book about "The Greatest Generation" and we've heard people talk about the heroes from that war and other wars. Sometimes I get the feeling that younger people today don't really understand what it was like back then. Is there any way to sum it up to let them know what it was really like when you were there?

Hero: Well I think if you summed it up they still won't believe you. They think you're telling stories you know. I told my grandkids one time, you know, "The first job your grandpa got he got ten cents an hour," and they go, "He must be lying a little bit or something or he sure needed money real bad," and they've all lived with this no money down, no payments for ninety days you know and pay a small sum of $295.00 a month for forty-eight months you know and you own this big gas guzzling SUV and they've all fallen for it. Credit cards. A lot of them don't have financial stability or they don't even know how to figure it out. And it's like I asked one of my fellow adjusters one time how he figured his budget out. He said, "Well, we take my paycheck, we cash it and we pull out all the money for all the bills we've got to pay and then we live on the rest of it." He said, "Sometimes we eat a lot of spaghetti and cheese."

But these kids haven't done that you know. They go put it on a credit card and go to the restaurant and what not and then say, "My God, I sure owe a lot of money. How am I going to pay it?" It's got to slow down somewhere because I can't see where this economy is so doggone great you know like the President and some of the people would like you to believe. Well, I haven't compared Idaho with other states but there were other states that were pretty bad too. You know, the dust bowls and things like that.

Jim: Do you ever miss those days? Back in the service, do you ever miss being there with those guys?

Hero: Well, we became very close you know because we lived together for almost three years. Our company didn't get many replacements because they didn't get shot up like others and everybody that was in there pretty much had a stable job and so we became very close. I call Honolulu every once in a while or Kauai and people that I've known for years. And I think one of my nicest moments is when I went to a reunion in Hawaii in 1968. I think it was twenty-five year reunion and there was a Jeep driver by the name of Edward Yoshiro. I don't know why and when I was in Honolulu here comes Yoshiro walking up on me. He came up and gave me a big hug and kissed me on both cheeks and said, "I want to thank you for taking care of me when I was young." But when he came back and told me it just made me feel real good. They finally decided I wasn't picking on him.

Jim: What was it like to finally come home?

Hero: Well, it was nice. I hadn't [seen] mom for quite a while. Of course dad was gone but it was homecoming. I was the first one home. My brother that volunteered before I did didn't come home until December sometime and we did not have communication because my dad probably would have written in Japanese and I couldn't have read it anyway and so I think that our communication was a letter once in a while to June, you know.

Jim: How did you find out about your dad's passing?

Hero: Well, the Red Cross notified us. It was about a month after he'd passed away you know. Mike and I wound up in the same company. I tell people we kind of got together for a few minutes and shed a few dry tears you know and then went back about our own jobs.

Jim: It must have been hard to be away from home.

Hero: And you know, you look forward to going home when the war ended and everything. Well, the war ended in let's see - July or August the Germans surrendered. Well, we didn't get sent home till October. Just poopin' around and things like that and when we finally got on the boat at Naples, it was one of these Henry J. Kaiser ships. Went over on a ship and came back on another one and everybody was just happy, chattering like a bunch of magpies and stuff like that. About two and a half hours out somebody says, "We're going to stand up and sing Aloha to the guys we left behind," and Aloha is love, goodbye and several other things and all of us faced Italy you know toward the back end of the boat and said, "Aloha Oi." I don't think there was a dry eye on that boat.

Jim: And still a good memory.

Hero: We still live in the best country in the world but if we want to keep it that way we've got to do our part. You can't let George do it all. Them guys are disappearing I think. And this is what I tell the kids. You don't know how damn lucky you are you live here in America. You don't like the school lunch you jump in your car and you go to McDonald's, Wendy's, Pizza Hut or something and I tell them about I had seen people pick up one grain of rice off of the ground and go like that and eat it. They don't even wipe it off or anything. They haven't had anything to eat forever almost. Pakistan and Bangladesh.

And I tell the people about this girl. We had just freed this Italian town and she came out to eat lunch. I said, "You know what she had? She had a piece of bread that was tattle-tale gray. They don't bleach the flour over there. This was in April. She had three onions that had to have sat in that storage cellar for six months. She stood there and picked all the rotten and you know dried up parts of that onion off, cut - tore probably the tops off. She had three pieces of onion about this long on this slice of bread. She poured olive oil on it, sprinkled salt and pepper. She ate that like you guys eat Angel Food Cake. That's all she had. There was no more. There wasn't anything else." I said, "How would you like to eat an onion sandwich once?"

And then I relate the time that we were on our D series maneuver. They wanted us to get used to combat conditions. We ate baloney and bread for twenty-one days, three times a day. There was no such a thing as a bath facility or anything. After about ten days or so I found a cold creek, some water creek. This was in January. It gets cold in Mississippi and the water was still rushing but it must have been a few degrees over thirty-two and you know you just have to make the best of it. And as far as food is concerned we were up in the De Soto National Forest in the mountains and every once in a while you'd find a country story about as big as this room. And of course when we went there we practically bought everything the guy had. We bought some pickled pigs feet and this Hawaiian guy looked at it and said, "Pei lou." That means dirty you know in Hawaiian. Eating pickled pigs feet? After it was all over we went looking for Eto We called him Snafu. Snafu Eto and he was a colonel's driver, head officer of our regiment and he used to do the colonel's hair cuts. He was real good. He'd cut hair with a pair of scissors. And we looked for Eto and guess what? We found him in the weapons depot eating the pickled pigs feet. There were a lot of fun things. Entertaining things.

Jim: I guess you have to find some times to laugh and smile in the middle of all that stuff.

Hero: I was kind of pleased. Well, they wanted to send us to the Pacific Islands because they wouldn't be able to identify us and I heard stories how the Japanese soldiers would come in the early morning chow lines down in the islands, you know South Pacific. Go through the chow lines and get American food because they were probably hungry.

When I went to Italy I had studied Latin for two years and I knew about the Coliseum and the Tiber River where Horatio defended Rome you know on that bridge and all these things and we did a lot of walking around but I got to go to St. Peter's Cathedral three different times. And one time our company captain was there and he sent the Jeep over to the rest center, the Mussolini rest center. That's where the Olympic Games were held I think in '36 or something like that and a Jeep full of gasoline - go see the town and we went to the catacombs, and all those places like that. If I hadn't been in the Army I had never even thought of St. Peter's or those places and have to go to Venice and -

Jim: When you guys got back or when you were over there, did you ever start to realize that all you guys really were heroes?

Hero: Never did. I just went out and done the job and the chips fell where they did. Going over and coming back and in between was just part of the days work.

Jim: I know people talk about you now and "hero" is always in there. Aside from the fact of your name - but they think of you guys as heroes.

Hero: I don't think we ever did. And my name was spelled H-i-r-o to begin with and that was pronounced "Hee-toe" in Japanese and when I started going to school and they started calling me "High-ro" and "High-ru" so I just changed the i to an e and went into the Army that way.

Jim: So you went in a hero and came out a hero?

Hero: But I think even before - I know that when we trained at Camp Robinson, Arkansas our first sergeant came out and when he'd say, "Forward, march!" he'd say, "Forward, yo!" and when we completed basic training he was afraid to staff with these Americans. He said, "Boy, I wish I had a company of you guys." The rifles we turned in were the cleanest and everything else like this.

Jim: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about those old days?

Hero: Well, you can't forget them. I'll tell you and Sergeant Dale when we were in Fort Warren, Wyoming he knew every one of us by our first name and last name and there must have been about three hundred guys and he'd see somebody falling out late. He knew who was going to do KP. And you'd go to get your money, he'd know. "Shiosaki, Hero. Right here. Sign right here for your paycheck." And it was just amazing that Sergeant Dale had such a fantastic memory.

Jim: And you said you don't want to forget those times.

Hero: Well, you can't. I mean you think about people like Emi and them. Some of the guys you served with. We served and done things Emi thought was important like picking up cigarette butts, raking the lawn and cutting it and things like this. And Emi was always an optimist. I don't know how he ever got into the Army. He had athletes foot so bad they'd make him go to sick call and soak his feet in this potassium. He would turn them purple you know. And Emi would always say, every day he would say, "Shiosaki, I'm going to make through this war. Just like every day he'd tell that and sure enough, went through training, went through Italy -

Hero: Quite a few, about ten of my friends from Hawaii didn't make it home. They made it back to the United States but they never, ever, ever made it home. And you know people never hear these kinds of stories. And you stop and wonder well what future would those guys have gotten into? I found a book - the 442nd 1943 - and I loaned that to the guy that is going to speak Monday, see, so I don't have that and anyway I'm going through our company and I can identify a lot of guys in there.

Jim: To never forget.

Hero: Never will forget. Never will forget the officers that were so - and when Lieutenant Gilmore wasn't feeling too good they were going to have a reunion in California. They moved it up a month and I got my plane ticket and everything else and he passed away three weeks before the reunion. And anyway, they called me and said, "Well, Lieutenant Gilmore passed away, are you still going to come?" And I said, "Heck yes. I've got my ticket," and we had a memorial service for him and everything else.

And this pall bearer for all Japanese Americans and you know that was a good feeling because he had a house burn down and we got letters saying we think everybody ought to donate a hundred dollars to the Gilmores. And since there were a hundred left of us that would be ten thousand bucks and there might have been even more than that. And anyway Lieutenant Gilmore and this Okagaki came in with this shit-eating look on his face you know carrying a great big manila bag and gave Lieutenant Gilmore - Gilmore was a colonel then and he was teaching at San Jose State College - but anyway, Lieutenant Colonel Gilmore sent every one of us a money order back. He would not accept any. He said the insurance company treated him good and stuff like that. But this is how well we bonded. When the big typhoon hit Kauai we sent money over, about fifteen hundred bucks a piece and they distributed it and got all kinds of thank you letters from guys that we had forgotten about. It's been real good. I mean we were in a segregated unit but I'm glad for that in the way that we bonded so well and everything else. In that movie - heck, I'm closer to my friends than I am to my family you know.

And every time we've gone to Hawaii - one time when we went over there, out of eleven days we only had two events booked and my wife said, "Well, what are we going to do?" Well when we left we only had two nights that we didn't have something to do and we were damn glad that we could go to bed.

And a lot of the guys - I'd like to take you to some place you know and they found out somebody else had spoken ahead of them, see? And they weren't too happy about it. And we went to Pearl Harbor and one of the Tamigouchi was there. He was piloting a small yacht for the admiral. He wanted to take us right on out to the Arizona Memorial but we had already bought tickets and gotten in line, see? They were just wonderful to us.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat

Interviews


Horace Axtell (Isluumce) grew up in Ferdinand and went on to become the Spiritual Leader of the Nez Perce tribe after his service in World War II. He was one of the first ground troops on the scene after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Jim: When were you in the service, from when to when?

Horace: From about the 28th, 21st or around there in February of 1943 until about February about five days after the first it'd be like the 23rd maybe in 1946 is when I got discharged.

Jim: Okay and where did you serve?

Horace: Oh I spent a lot of time in the, in the south in basic training and stuff and I had quite an experience from there on I uh I uh when going overseas to Europe with my first unit and I come home for a leave to visit for before we went across and I came home then on my way to the port of invocation I come out with the mumps and I got left behind by my first unit so then I banged around on the replacement centers for a while and finally got reassigned in Alabama again, now I was in Texas first and then I come back to Alabama and I got put in the Combat Engineer Battalion so this first unit I was in was a, a good unit it was a bridge building unit that was into engineers and we built floating bridges and all kinds of bridges you know and most of the guys were from the northwest here and I, I really miss them and I got into this other unit and then and then I, I uh had to take basic training again, but that made me a soldier that I really didn't care what the hell happened after that.

Jim: How come?

Horace: Because I missed my guys, I went and played ball against a lot of them up on the prairie up here down here in Lewiston and places and I knew a lot of 'em good friends so with this new unit they had guys from all over the country and. But then I, I made it I knew how to be an engineer and also had to in a Combat Unit they had to learn how to bayonet drills, all kinds of drills, hand to hand combat, combat. So I that's the outfit I went overseas with.

Jim: Let me back up a little bit. Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

Horace: I was at home. In 1941 it was a Sunday afternoon in December and a rather nice day out there where I used to live on the ranch and uh I don't know for what reason we had company and we had friends come over and we had dinner at our house and, and after dinner we was out playing marbles outside, it was a nice sunny day and we was right by the window where the radio was and we kind of turned it up so we could listen to the music and then the, all of the sudden they had a news break and they announced that Pearl Harbor was bombed and we listened to that and then uh that was before I went into the service and some of my uh relatives were already in the service so uh when uh the Philippines fell well my uh one of my uh role models would got into the death march and got put in prison over there and, and he died over there so that's made me want to get into the service.

Jim: That was one of the things in talking to folks that . . . what happened with Pearl Harbor and then what they knew that happened to friends - people seemed like they wanted to do something.

Horace: Yeap, and then there was others from the tribe that were uh you know in the service and some of 'em were already hospitalized and why, why in the hell does it have to be all of them so I thought well I might as well go see if I can help some way so I was a Senior in high school when that happened, I never got to finish high school so.

Jim: Sometimes I think you look at television and movies and things and it seems that everybody talks about World War II and that time period, not just the war, but that time in America, that it was this kind of Golden time when everybody felt very, you know, now everybody's very nostalgic about it. Was that true or is that, is that not fair to what it was really like?

Horace: Well life in the old days was I think a lot happier than they are now days, we've got too much confusion going on now it, it bothers me to see in the paper everyday some of them guys getting killed over there for what? For somebody's mistakes. What we done in our war was not a mistake because we was defending our country for sure. And now it's a, it's a money making project the way I see it. Some of his friends are making a lot of money over there.

Jim: Did you feel good about joining the service and going?

Horace: Yeah I wanted to get in, I tried to get in the navy and the marine corps and my I had an accident when I was boy on a horse, riding horses, and I, I uh my cinch busted when I was galloping and I landed on my eye and damaged my right eye and that's why it's like it is now and uh that kept me out of the marines and the navy and I finally ended up in the Army so I made that all right.

Jim: You ended up with the second unit and, and went overseas . . . did you take a boat over there, is that how they got you? Was it like a troop ship or is that how they got you overseas?

Horace: Oh I had to go by ship, we had to come from Mississippi, up to Portland, Oregon, by train that took us a few days and then it was a long ride and then finally we got to Vancouver Barracks over in Vancouver, Washington and that's where we took our final shots and all the other things that we had to do and we shipped out of there and went down the Columbia River to the last time we seen land was, it was still just about getting dark so they made us all go down, down below and the next morning we woke up we was out in the high seas, way out there and it was like that for 14 days, nothing but water all different directions where you looked.

Jim: What was the feeling on the ship when you were headed over?

Horace: Well uh for one thing that made our trip longer was we had to zig zag on kind of torpedoes and that was a precaution we'd go so many minutes this way and turn and go like that back and forth all the way over until we got in within the, within the range of the uh protection over in Honolulu and then that, and we went on in straight, but that was not like a few hours, kind of a boring ride.

Jim: I can't imagine . . . how did you feel, were you scared, were you excited what, I mean about, about the bigger trip?

Horace: Well I was kind of excited because we don't have to be messing around the states just after we uh finished our basic training and everything and we was we was considered as Combat people and then we still had to stick around there and play baseball and volleyball and all kinds of stuff, if you didn't play anything you had to do, do closed order drill so I learned how to play volleyball and all kinds of stuff there, but I did like softball, I used to play a lot of that and horseshoes and stuff, but that, that same kind of stuff everyday gets boring too after a while.

Jim: So you must've been excited to finally get going.

Horace: Yeah I wanted to get the hell out of here so that's the way we all felt.

Jim: Did you think about the fact that you were heading into war?

Horace: Not really we, we, we were so uh grilled into combat situations and all kinds of stuff we had to take like helping our wounded you know helping all kinds of things, helping each other, taking care of one another that was the main thing so uh yeah we done uh a lot of training on hand to hand combat because that's the, the Japanese were more experts on that than, than the, than I think the Germans were and then they had different kinds of mine and bubby trap sets up and uh and than the other people the Germans, see I learned all most of that about the German side before I went over, went over with the first unit because they, they went over into Normandy and I could've been there, but then I ended up going to the Pacific and then we had to learn a lot of the things about the Japanese um set ups on booby traps and land mines and all kinds of the little different.

Jim: What happened to those guys from your first unit; did you ever find out what happened to those guys?

Horace: Yeah, yeah it was several years back uh about three years they were here right in this hotel we had a reunion here, they wanted to come back and see what kind of country I came from. A lot of 'em knew they were from around here and we had a good uh good reunion here, some of the guys that were from local uh already had passed on.

Jim: Were there lots of guys from the tribe there, were there lots of folks from other tribes or, or did you kind of stand out back in those days?

Horace: Oh I think I kind of stood out mainly because most of the guys that are on the first unit knew me because I used to play basketball and baseball against a lot of the uh nearby towns. And I had good friend with them, with a lot of the people and also uh I uh when I when we were going over to, to uh the Port of Embarkation to go to Europe I was bunking with a good friend from Craigmont and uh I give him the mumps too, so he and I got left behind. He was also here for the reunion when we had our reunion; he lived some place in Washington now.

Jim: That's funny all those years later.

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: Did you feel that in the service that, that . . . they, were they used to Native American folks or, or I mean was, was there, were there differences then or . . . ?

Horace: Well I had a little problem, my own personally, but uh the second unit I had a, I had a problem that involved my whole squad and uh the staff sergeant and the platoon sergeant we called 'em every time we was on uh maneuvers and stuff where like out in the field they always picked my squad to go and do the dirty details like digging a place for the uh what they call the latrine, now I get my squad to do all that stuff and so naturally uh some of the boys in my squad start complaining about it so uh they asked me how come they always do that to us, I said well I think it all I know why, I'll go check it out. So I went down and I caught that platoon sergeant and I told him what happened and why my boys were feeling that way and he stood up and he looks at me and he says well if you don't like it you know what you can do about it. So he gave me the license so I busted him, knocked him on his ass and, and finally some of the guys came over and helped him up and, and he didn't want to go anymore so, but then we got sent to the company commander. So the company commander decided that, that he wasn't going to pay favoritism so he, he busted both of us. I was a Corporal and that guy was a Staff Sergeant and then uh before we shipped out to the Pacific that guy became my good friend because uh I never held any grudge against him I was sticking up for my men and uh I think he finally figured that out. I had good support from my squad.

Jim: I can imagine, I can imagine, you were probably a hero to those guys.

Horace: Yeah, so uh that's one of the problems, I had a few others and, and like in a shower room, but then or some guy uh one guy I remember uh made fun of my penis because it was darker than all of them so and they start to call me you know like uh like the black people they used to call 'em so I didn't like that and I was ready to hang, hang into him, but some of my own friends were there and they, they busted it up, they broke it up. That's the only time, them two incidents.

Jim: Well, you talked about how you stand up for the boys in your unit and, and . . . I guess you sort of have to have that kind of closeness and the camaraderie?

Horace: Yeah, well to begin with when I was a kid I had an uncle, see my father never raised me, he left me when I was a baby and I used to have an uncle, he was a good uncle, in fact his name was Sam, I'd call him Uncle Sam and uh he told me one day he said uh he used to tease me a lot, and, and after a while one time he teased me and I got a little mad, so he said well he said let me, let me lets just sit down and I'll talk to you about it, he said uh I, I've been teasing you a lot and you've took it for quite a while until this one reason uh got you a little mad. I said no you're not going to be a very big guy he said uh you'll probably have a lot of people pick on you so, so he got on his hands and knees, I mean on his knees and he picked up a pair of boxing gloves and he said well I'm going to teach you how to defend yourself so that's where I learned how to do some boxing. So I wasn't afraid.

Jim: When you were on the ship after you left, after you left Honolulu did you head right for the . . . front or where, where were you?

Horace: Yeah we're headed out, our mission was uh we was headed (inaudible) to Japan we was going to invade Japan Proper and we had a big task force a lot of LSD's uh what they called 'em ships that open up when you land, I was on one of them and we had a, oh battleships and destroyer escorts, quite a lot of ships I can't remember exactly how many there were now, but it took us a long time to get from Honolulu to Japan, but on our way over they the guys with them big bombs dropped 'em in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but, but we went on there anyway. I think uh I can't remember what day it was we landed in, in uh Nagasaki, but I spent pretty close to nine months over there after, after that whole thing. So in a way I was glad and in another way what I seen over there in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, was pretty sad.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about what it was like when you got over there.

Horace: Over there?

Jim: Yeah in, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and . . .

Horace: Well what made me uh think a lot was I turned back to my own tribe, I seen like a, a vision of my people being slaughtered like that, like in Big Hole and Bear Paw Battlefield especially. The reason I had thinking that way is I had a, I had some relatives that were in that war in 1877 and one that I really didn't know about, but in later years I found out and then, then I felt that what I thought over there was okay. I mean I, I gave it a lot of thought, but then to see uh little children all banged up and part of their face all scared and part of their hair gone and no clothes and all that crying looking for their parents that's what made my thoughts that way. And then uh I'll get back to the other part of that later on when I, I talk about reuniting with my father.

Jim: You must've been, when you got there, part of the first group that went through those areas I would think, right?

Horace: Yeah we went there long after uh after the uh signing of the treaty there on that Battleship Missouri, I seen that ship over there and then I come back here on vacation one time over in Olympia, Washington, that way, by Bremerton and that uh same ship was at bay there and got to go look it over.

Jim: What was the main thing that you had to do when you first got to Japan?

Horace: Well I was uh, I was on the, uh the crew uh I wasn't Squad Leader anymore, uh and then uh after I got busted uh anyway I was became a truck driver, and I drove the big uh Diamond T Dump trucks 4-Ton'r, big guy. We had a lot of fun doing that, but we repaired roads, we built warehouses, and we built uh oh a lot of things for, we were going to build a radio station, a cemetery and all kinds of stuff, been help clean the Mitsubishi plant in Nagasaki.

Jim: What was it like . . . pretty much, those bombs basically ended, ended the war.

Horace: Powerful yeah, well I gave that a lot of thought to because uh they had to take lives to save lives so I don't see much, much sense in that, but then that's the way it ended, it did end it, but then I'd say we were, we were gaining, we were gaining pretty much and then uh, but that was one way to end it and what, what gets me is that now we're so much against them kind of weapons that and here we, we're the ones that started all that.

Jim: Well you think of it . . . the kids that you saw and the thing that happened to the people there.

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: Up until that point people didn't really know what these weapons were going to do, it was kind of in the abstract. Do you think the fact that people like you saw this makes people a lot more afraid of 'em now?

Horace: Well I don't know about right now, uh a lot of people that knew about these two bombs over there and, and heard a lot about it in the news and, and uh understood some of the words that people seen over there actually with their own eyes come and talk about it they, they, they know, but some of these people nowadays they don't think nothing of that. Some, some people see my (inaudible) and say were you really in the war like that? I say yeah, they don't even know, no concern of theirs.

Jim: You talk about the bombs and, you know, it makes me think about the fact that obviously there were people that were hurt right out and killed and hurt, but what do you think it did to the Japanese, to their people? You talk about the battles that for your people and . . .

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: And those battles have echoes that still last to this day.

Horace: Yeap.

Jim: What did those bombs do to the Japanese do you think?

Horace: Well you ever uh see the pictures of uh this Katrina deal down in, it was worse than that. I mean some of the scenes you see down there, the houses are still standing, but them things were flat, completely flat especially in Hiroshima it was, it was a flatter area, Nagasaki had a lot of hills and some of the homes and the places weren't hurt at all, but Hiroshima was a flat area and there was just a big, big junk pile.

Jim: Talk about the effect that it had on the area and the Japanese people to see that kind of destruction, realize how horrible it was.

Horace: Yeah well it was a, the little ones that bothered me the most. Standing around there looking, looking at everybody to see if they could recognize somebody and uh some of them little kids they'd look at me and they, they took to me because of the color of my skin and they uh and they come up to me and they look at me and some of them cry and I couldn't understand what they were saying. And uh that's the way I felt about my uh, my own people see the during that time most of my people never spoke English they spoke uh the language there, our own language and, and so they was probably begging for things and, and see a lot of 'em got shot my, my relatives, but even when they were small.

Jim: Go ahead, you were talking about your people.

Horace: Oh yeah so there again I had to uh like a comparison uh I'd feel all of that, so when we first got set up in our area where we, after we moved from Nagasaki we moved to a place called Fukioka and there we was building a hospital so we had to set a new area or a new place to camp and so I come out of this mess hall after we had our dinner there and, and I, I looked up ahead and the garbage can where people dumped the food that they didn't eat and uh see some of the guys that were coming out of the mess hall already and they pushing these little kids away and uh so when I got up there I didn't, I seen what they were doing then, and they was trying to reach in to the mess kit so these guys that were throwing stuff away and stuff cramming it in their mouth so I held mine out there so the next time I come out of there after another meal I, I didn't eat all mine, it kind of spoiled my appetite to see that so I left more food on my mess gear so they could grab and it, just grab anything by hand and stuff it in their mouth and they was hungry and some of the kids were crying there and uh there was a lot of difference between hearing a baby or a boy, little boy or girl crying just plain crying, but when they're hungry that cry is hurt, it hurts you worse. So then after that I, I began to do a little more I'd take a dish out a little more and take out more to the one then they was waiting for me, they wouldn't even mess with these other guys they'd just run right over to me. So finally some of my friends seen that and they started doing the same thing and pretty soon we had a lot of kids there after we got, they'd tell each other, they'd give each other the signal and they was all there waiting and one good thing our, our company commander never said a word about it, he didn't stop us and we just kept on doing it.

Jim: Did you ever see any actual combat?

Horace: No.

Jim: Were you glad?

Horace: Well in a way because uh I don't know it's a, you know it's a, it's a more than 50/50 chance for when you get into combat you're going to come out of it and I've uh I've got a lot of friends that were in combat and I didn't actually uh, actually fire anybody uh at anybody, but uh I had all the training and I wasn't afraid if I had to do that I would do it. And I, we made a few training films uh with uh like us attacking a, a tank or with grenades and all things like that and these were training films we made for other, other trainees, but uh you get that feeling that and you're careful when you get close to that ground you feel like you're, you're still not enough protection, but you're right there as far as you can go and we learned how to dig uh dig a foxhole laying down and all that stuff. I mean there was a lot of training and uh I think that builds your confidence up there you can, if you do the right things you can come out of these things and I uh I wasn't too much worried about that, I mean uh why worry about it after you, you'd done what you wanted to do and get in there, realized we had to do stuff. I think one of the most important parts to my life then was my mother was uh with a, a man that was a soldier during World War I and I, I spent a lot of time with him, he was like my step-dad and he taught me a lot of things about uh using the rifle and being careful with it and, and I used to like to go squirrel hunting and stuff and then uh I shot a squirrel one time and he said well this is what happens if you get shot, you could see the blood coming out of there and it, and its dead. So you got to defend yourself and I learned quite a bit about guns from him, actually before I got in the service.

Jim: You're talking about your mother and this fellow and other people . . . what was it like for them at home while you, while you were over there?

Horace: Well uh my mom died when I was, when she was uh 45 years old in 1945, she was uh born in 1900 and uh I was born in 1924, so uh when I went in the service in 1943 she was only 43 years old and then uh she was already uh with another man that I, I really liked because he taught me a lot of things, he would anyway uh my mother uh when I was leaving, when I was at home going to school yet I got hooked on this big band music and there was a radio show on every night called the Chesterfield Program and uh, uh I can't remember this guy's name now uh huh, I know it, anyway he had this uh theme song called moonlight serenade, Glen Miller, I used to listen to that every night when I was at home, and I got hooked on that kind of music and I still am, I still listen to that kind of music. Anyway uh after I left home well people told me that they'd happen to come visit my mom and she'd have to run and turn that program on and every time she heard that, that theme song it made her cry, made her think of me. See I was the only child she had. I begged and begged for her to let me go into the service, I guess I really didn't have to, but I did. But then I don't know to me and nowadays I feel like I was the one that made her sick, she worried about me too much, because uh 1945, January 1945 she died, she got a goiter in her neck right here and it got cancerous and of course back in them days cancer wasn't being dealt with like it is now, so much amazing stuff they can do with cancer now. In fact I had my youngest son had cancer and they, they took care of him and he's back on his feet again living and working again. So that's the difference. Anyway it took her life and she was only 45 years old.

Jim: How did you find out that she had died?

Horace: I found out in after some of my mail came late uh you know it took a long time for mail to get over there, I was about ready to come home when I got my news and so that's the tough part of my coming home I, I had a hard time dealing with that and besides that the house where we were living in at in 1943 uh it must've been three or four months after I left that our house burnt down and we lost everything we had in there. So then that was the tough part of my coming home, uh so that part of my life was not too good for a while.

Jim: Before you left you said you had to practically beg your mom to let you go in the service?

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: How did she feel when you actually left . . . what was that like?

Horace: Well in way I was glad to be gone, to be going because that's what I wanted to do, and then being along with friends that I knew already was more comfortable and I, it wasn't so hard on me that way to be like, like you probably had a feeling sometimes when you get into a strange crowd and you don't know anybody and you're, you're there and it takes a while to make friends and all that.

Jim: What was it like for her when you left?

Horace: I don't know it must've been pretty lonely for her; I was still going to school when that happened. That was uh in the 40s and rationing was on and things were hard to get, gasoline you couldn't buy very often and uh the home front was pretty near shut down all together because the war effort, them days was a lot different than now. I mean everybody had something to do with the war them days and uh and then she had a lot to do with a lot of things that during that time, but uh I have one picture, maybe I should've brought that down of my mom, she was pretty proud of me in a way, got a picture of her she's sitting there and she's got that, that little flag with the one star in the middle, that was my service flag, she had that on her lap. I didn't think of that until just now, but that's she had that in her purse everywhere she went.

Jim: You were just saying as we were talking about hearing that music bothers you . . . so many, so many people would say oh that music is just you know I love that music and not, not the same for you?

Horace: No, but I listen to it oh I'd say an average of about once a week I'll go listen to that song that uh it makes me feel good now, I uh find that I'm, I'm alive and I find out that I, I learned many things and, and I have a position in the tribe now that makes me do a lot of good things for my people and a fact that, that I earned my respect by doing what I do whereas before I was, I was completely hurt when I come home and I, I start doing things that weren't right and got mixed up with alcohol with my friends and I got into a lot of trouble so, so uh a little over a year of my life was in prison so that's what caused it and I know and uh finally it took a lot of thinking when I was incarcerated to overcome all them things and I decided I had, had to change. So I'm the only one that had to decide that, so while I was in there I, I made my mind I was going to find a job, good steady job and earn my home and find a woman that would help me and through life and after I got out I, I began to do that.

Jim: Do you think if your mom was here now or if she's looking down on you do you think she's proud of how you've done?

Horace: I think so. It was uh wasn't the way I was brought up though, I was brought up in a, in a Christian faith and the things I do now is all uh, uh tribal things, tribal spirituality is a lot different than Christian ways, but I think the belief is a lot stronger and my way of thinking now because there's so many good things that come out of that way of life that I, I really enjoy doing.

Jim: Do you tell [people] about what you went through in the war?

Horace: Yeah, yeah I uh was privileged by a young lady uh when uh she interviewed me just like you are about, about the power of our dances, the kind of dances we do in our tribe and uh she interviewed me and, and then uh she had done a documentary on it, the call it the Power of our Dance, so after a while we uh she come back and later uh called me up and she said I think you have a lot more stories to tell, how would, what would you think of uh writing a book? I kind of laughed and I said write, writing a book? And she says yeah, I've talked to a lot of people about you and they, and they know, they told me a lot of things about you so I asked my wife and my kids and they said yeah dad do it, so we done a book called a Little Bit of Wisdom and uh it says conversations with a Nez Perce Elder that's the title that they give it and uh I guess we sold a lot of books, it's out of print now, I guess you can still find it. I still have some down here at the Art Center I think.

Jim: You do have so many wonderful stories . . . why do you think that people keep coming back to World War II? Why do you think people are attached to that? It seems that people want to know about it, I mean we're doing this show about it, we're doing about it in Idaho which is a little different, but why, why do you think people are so interested in this? What was it about it?

Horace: Well for one thing we had two wars going at the same time, I mean big wars and then it took a lot of our men, young men and a lot of women, and uh it was a, it was a hard time because uh but I think what makes it more uh more uh powerful is uh the support the people gave like had to do without a lot of stuff, but they never, they never moaned and groaned about it like, like we do now. I mean see some of the people hollering about taxes and all kinds of stuff now that, but the president was, was a different man and uh I felt bad when he died uh in one way because we had to get out on a dill field and we stood at attention while he was having his funeral all the way through the whole thing and, and we was far, far away from where he was at.

Jim: Hold on one second. You were talking about when the president died?

Horace: Yeah that was a, we didn't actually hear anything, but we, we stood at attention in his honor and uh we stood there so long uh a couple fellows just keeled over from standing so long.

Jim: Where were you, where was this?

Horace: Uh some place in Mississippi I think. I think that was before we shipped out going to Japan. . . . But then uh they uh the war effort was just as powerful I think as, as the people that were in the service, it was a, we knew we was getting support from home.

Jim: Well and people at their home had you start to talk about that rationing of almost everything weren't there.

Horace: Yeah they couldn't get new tires, they couldn't get new cars and everything was going to one reason, they took all these cars that being manufactured in them days they, they turned to the war effort and started making tanks and all kinds of things.

Jim: People talk about things like Victory Gardens and all that, do you remember all that stuff?

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: What was that like?

Horace: Oh it was like uh, like people uh didn't complain about it they just went ahead and done what they had to do. I think if you did that now, did that now well you'd get a lot of, a lot of flack.

Jim: Do you miss those times?

Horace: No I, I think we uh if it hadn't been for a lot of them what we, we used to get in the service we appreciated because they was, they was helping us. You hear about things now uh even at these times our people, our soldiers over there got bad, bad stuff, I mean worn out stuff and its depleting and, and yet you see all these car lots full of new cars. I don't understand that. They've got so many cars down here I don't think they'll ever sell 'em, but why when they, it wasn't like that during the war, people were giving money to us buying bonds and all kinds of things. I know a lot of people the farmers had to do with a lot of out, with all their machinery going haywire and still they was farming, but all the other stuff was being built for the war. That, that's what you call I think I would call democracy or whatever it was, everybody was pitching in.

Jim: What was Idaho like then? Did it feel the same as it does now or what?

Horace: No things are so different now I, I uh I like a lot of things about the schools and a lot of things about uh the other things and, but um as far as uh as far as our government is there's something wacky there somewhere it, its just a matter of one side against the other side and then at that, that's making us look bad I think.

Jim: This area was, I mean it's still pretty rural, but it was even more rural back then wasn't it?

Horace: Yeah, yeah there wasn't all this new technology stuff and uh most of it all pretty good, but when you get back to the people like in my day and never ever dreamed of things like we have now and uh of course I, I don't uh get into a lot of that new stuff.

Jim: Before you went in the service you were in school . . . what were things like dances like in those days in the war years . . . events and holidays?

Horace: Oh yeah, oh yeah we had uh we had uh Valentines Day and uh Christmas and things like that, but even on Christmas time you didn't get all the kinds of presents we people get nowadays. We didn't have toys like they have nowadays. I just went to a birthday party for my great grandson last night and they, they got a whole room full of toys I mean back time when I was a kid and I was lucky to get one toy for Christmas, it seemed like it well things were tough already.

Jim: There was the book that Tom Brokaw wrote and everybody talks about, you being part of the Greatest Generation; we, we keep hearing that. Do you think you were, do you think that's true?

Horace: Well yeah in my, in my growing up years we, I think, I think we had just as much fun and it wasn't as dangerous. I mean galloping around on a horse was a lot of fun. Galloping into town to get the mail was a lot of fun and then riding to school on a horse I used to go to high school on my saddle horse. That was fun I thought and that's something I liked to do, I still can't ride like I used to, but I get on a horse once in a while.

Jim: Where did you grow up, what town were you in?

Horace: Well Ferdinand, Idaho.

Jim: Where's that?

Horace: Its up on the Camas Prairie, it's about maybe 65, 70 miles from Lewiston.

Jim: What was Ferdinand like back in the 40s?

Horace: Oh it was a nice little village, there used to be quite a few people there, but now I, I see the, the sign that says like only 170 people or 124 I think now. There used to be like uh when I was going to school there in high school it was like uh almost 500 lived there, but uh I still go home once in a while.

Jim: You knew everybody and all?

Horace: Oh yeah I did then, but now there's a lot of different people there and.

Jim: But back in the days it was?

Horace: Yeah, yeah when we used to have gatherings like a basketball game, all the people from around town came to see the game, they all knew each other and that was fun, it'd get our high school spirit up, there's a lot of support and then uh it was uh more fun to be on a ball team in them days and all the, the students I never had any trouble in high school there was uh other people that were you know Nez Perces in the school and, but then I ended up I was the only one in school, all the others were already graduated or, or moved back to Lapwai or Kamiah, so I was the only Nez Perce in high school because there's only four, four families that lived up there that weren't around the area and then a lot of them uh already finished high school and went on.

Jim: You talked about the flags that had the little star on 'em and stuff like that; what did they used to do? Didn't . . . families hang those in windows or something?

Horace: Yeah.

Jim: What was that?

Horace: Well that uh, uh it was like a symbol of uh from this home we have a man in the service, some of them uh people that had three or four family members in they have a more stars, and when you got a gold star that meant uh a person had died in the war and I had a blue star and my mother had a blue star with the colors around it and that's what she carried in her purse all every place she went. And uh and she also had a little handkerchief uh I forgot what it says, I have it put away, I still have it, but she used to pin that on her coat all the time, you can still see the pin holes in it. She was proud though, yeah she died so young. She was born in 1900 and my father was born 1899. But uh part of my father I, after the war he was in World War II also and I found out about it and, but after the war was over and when people started coming home and I found out he came home and he spent 32 months overseas. He was in the aviation engineers, he spent time in North Africa and Italy and a lot of different places and uh so after I uh I come home and I dealt with all the problems I had with my mother being gone and my house burned down and, and then uh also my grandmother died soon after I got home and that caused me to go the wrong way for quite a while and, but after I, I got myself back together and I started working for Potlatch Mill down here in 1951, so I was working there maybe a couple years already and some people from Kamiah told me they said your father is getting very alcoholic up at Kamiah, that's up the river and they said uh you should help him. So I had an answer for that, but I didn't say anything because he never helped me. I could've said that, but I didn't. So I was working night shift, so all that time I was on that shift that special night I, I kept thinking about that and I said well he's my father and he's going to be my father after he dies and even after I die he'll still be my father forever and ever. So I was thinking about that on my way home from work and I caught myself driving to Kamiah, looking for him. I found him and he was drinking, I got him into my car and I sat down and told him I want to talk with you, so he come and sat with me and I told him I, I said I come here looking for you and I want to take you home and take care of you. He said for, for how long? I said the rest of your life. I said you're my father, you'll always be my father, but first before you make a decision I want to tell you, I want to forgive you for all these things that I didn't learn from you and forgive you for everything, but I want you to live with me, I'll take care of you. So after I was talking for a while it, it hurt him, he started crying and so he finally decide okay I'll go with you and he was drinking, but he said first you get me a case of beer and I'll go with you. I said okay and I bought him a case of beer and we come on home and, well for a while it was tough going because I, I'd come home from work and he'd be gone, I'd go look for him and bring him back, put him to bed, but one day uh he wanted to go to a church meeting up here at Spalding, they was having what they call a revival meeting of some kind, so I said okay yeah I'll take you. So I had a car and I bought a pretty good car when I began to work and so I took him up there and he went on to church and I went in also and I, I sat kind of back in behind and he got about halfway and he sat down. I didn't sit with him, I let him sit by, wherever he wanted to and I, I sat in the back with some of the guys I knew. So I figured well it sounds like church is about over so I, I went out in the car and I warmed the car up it was late November then, so the car would be warm after dad comes out so, went out and warmed the car up and waited and waited, people come out and got in their cars and went home and still nobody coming out of the church, but finally he came out and then he told me that he was, I just become a Christian. I said well good. He got home and he, it turned his back completely around the other way and he start, he start remembering a lot of things and uh the time I came home and he was reading the bible so that made a change. So that's about in 1963 I got married again to a younger woman and she had three little girls and I had three children already myself so we put our families together and our house was too small, I already had dad and one of my older boys, so I bought another house up here in Orchards where I still live and I had a full basement and I built him a room there and I took care of him. So when uh I come home from work I'd go sit down there and talk with him, I wanted to learn a lot of things from my side of the family, I never did know. I knew I had an aunt that was nice to me all the time and it was his full sister and she used to come and get me and take me to her home and she'd take care of me for a while and buy me clothes and things like that, but as far as he was he never, never really provided for me. But anyway I start asking him questions and, and I told him about a man all these men that used to come and visit my grandmother and that were people that didn't know how to read or write or speak English and I got to know them and several of them were warriors that fought in a Nez Perce war. So they couldn't speak English. So I, I always could understand, I knew my language already just a little (inaudible), but grandma couldn't talk either English. So they start telling me stories about a man, it was a warrior he said, they was a good warrior and they told me that in Nez Perce, but they didn't tell me the whole thing, but they told me his name, so I was telling my dad these stories about what these men told me and, and I was talking about a man called Timfousman, Timfousman that was his Indian name and uh that's the only name he had, he never had an English name so uh I was talking about him and I happen to look over and dad was sitting there with his head down like that and I seen he had tears in his eyes, I finally asked him what's the matter and he says uh he says that was my grandfather. That's when I found out that I had a great grandfather was in the war 1877. So I kept asking him more things about him and they had some of the stories that he heard about his grandpa, so that's what gave me the feeling that I want to be like that. Everything back in the old times when spirituality was the only thing we ever had here, we never had any Christian people come into our land, everything was free like most of the people were like that here in the old time, old spirituality and its powerful and its strong. So I, I sat aside that Christian that I grew up with and I took up this way after my dad died, he died in 1977, he got, developed sugar diabetes real bad and uh had a bronchial asthma and then he went blind, so then he died. So I, I, I took care of him, kept him in my home and I still I, I done the right thing.

Jim: You talked about a book you wrote and, and about the idea of wisdom; we've been talking about that time period and what you saw in the war and what you learned . . . did any wisdom come from that for you do you think?

Horace: Oh yeah, one of the worst uh best things I ever learned is how to get along with everybody, because when you're in a tough situation you've got to, you've got to listen to each other and have good ideas and good ideas and use a plan. So that's what I did, I got these ideas and I made a plan I wanted to be somebody so I uh I worked for Potlatch Mill for 36 years and I come out of there and retired in 1986 and I had my home paid for, had my vehicles paid for and all the stuff that I wanted to do and I, I uh I found a good mate and we're still together, its been it'll be 43 years for us this fall. So we have all our children gone, just her and I at home and all my kids all have their own homes and their good jobs.

Jim: Do you ever think about your time in the war anymore?

Horace: Not hardly, once in a while, I get asked about it, I have to, but uh I still spend some time uh listening to the music and I, I collect a lot of the old songs that I heard my younger days and some of that performers and I've had the opportunity when uh my wife and I would take a vacation we'd go to Las Vegas or Reno and see some of these performers that I, I uh have records of theirs. I got to see uh, uh oh Tony Bennett one of my favorite and of course I've seen Red Fox too.

Jim: But you can't repeat any of that.

Horace: No. I've seen Henry Mancini and few quite a few of them uh.

Jim: The music was important back then wasn't it?

Horace: Oh yeah, yeah we used to listen together and uh people is uh USO's and everybody's used to send records to us overseas every once in a while they'd give us a pack of records and we'd go through them to see if there something there we, we'd like to hear and some of the guys would hear a song and make 'em cry, yeah of course I, I did that too after I found my mom was gone. So its just the way music is, brings back a lot of memories and I got a song that I, I heard when I was going home from my mother's funeral I mean talking about it and uh I hear that once in a while, I picked, I got a record of it, or not a record, but a disk now, like all of these songs I, I like to hear and some of my favorite band leaders and performers and singers like uh Nat Cole and Tony Bennett and oh quite a few of them.

Jim: It seems like there was a real richness to the movies and music and . . .

Horace: Uh huh I like uh Barbara Streisand; she sings a lot of good music, she's one of my favorite singers.

Jim: You said people ask you a lot about the war and that kind of stuff; is there anything that you'd really want people to know about it?

Horace: Well uh I feel a lot of things about some of the mother's and fathers that lost children I the combat. I know how they hurt because I had this one good friend that was from Ferdinand and he was older, older than us and he was in a war before us and he got captured in uh Philippines made him do the death march and then he died in a prisoner of war over there and I seen how his father, he was an older man, he was Indian, Nez Perce Indian and I'd see him standing or sitting by himself like he was like in a, in a daze, he didn't show much emotion, but I could tell that it, it was hurt inside and I've seen other people like that from our tribe, I think our Indian people take things a little harder than other people because uh it always brings that memory back of our people being slaughtered. Like uh every year I go down to the Big Hole Battlefield and we have a ceremony that I uh I do, I lead uh, I take care of the pipe in our tribe, I, they call it a peace pipe, but we don't, we don't we call ours a different thing, it's a power that we go to have a ceremony there every year, same way at the Big Hole uh the uh the battlefield at the Bear Paw Battlefield and that's where my great grandpa's still over there. He got killed on the last battle over there and I got visit his place where they have his marker every year I get reminded of a lot of things that from that war and that takes me right back to these people that were their people that got killed there in the war uh and they was always so glad to see me come home you know my relatives that I was, came home safe and sound and but that, that's the one memory that I, I remember that this man was walking around like it he was in a daze and he was kind of like that until he died. Because it was his youngest son, he never did come back. They asked him if he wanted his son to be brought home and he said no just leave him where he's at, that's where his life ended. So he's somewhere in the Philippines buried over there, died in a prison camp. So things like that I, I think a lot about and, and then uh then I look at myself and say well I'm glad I, I came through okay whereas others a lot of my friends, my relatives too that never come back. Some of my high school friends that I went to school with never came back. If I sit back and think about the, the ones that I used to play ball with, the ones I had a lot of fun with, never got to come home. So that uh I still get that hurt in my heart from all that. So I feel for these people now that you read in the paper now, how many soldiers got killed today, how many yesterday, how many thousands do we have now that died.

Jim: You talk about the friends and the people you knew that didn't come back . . . How old are you now you said?

Horace: I'll be 82 in November.

Jim: Do you ever wonder how you're the one that's still here?

Horace: The what?

Jim: That you're one of the ones still here.

Horace: Yeah, yeah I think about that a lot because I wonder if uh a certain friend of mine that didn't come back or would have a privilege and honor of having children and raising them and helping them. That was uh one of my reasons for taking care of my family after I became reoriented and uh making 'em get educated, helping 'em get education, I know my friends would've done the same thing and they never had that privilege and uh it would be uh it would be hard, I think it is hard for some of the uh people that uh were survivors of their young men getting killed and women uh missing out on being a grandfather or a grandmother, it takes, its takes to mind a lot of things like that you've got to consider. I had some very good friends that were, they were not Indian in fact I have a lot of friends that I worked with out here that I always had this knack of making friends. I try hard to make friends. Where I live now I got some of the I think nicest people uh good neighbors and we get along real good, have fun talking and over the backyard and we help each other and that's the way I grew up on prairie where I grew up my neighbor was a German man, he had uh 10 kids, that's where I got to learn how to speak a little German and I used to teach them how to speak a little Nez Perce. So we'd play together, but this man every time he butchered a beef he'd bring like pretty near a hind quarter to my grandma every time and she used to uh make gloves for him, buckskin gloves and he, he wasn't a rich man, during the summertime he wouldn't let his children wear shoes, all barefooted and my grandma got so feeling so sorry for them that she made a pair of moccasins for every one of them and they still talk about it. They called her grandma too, they remember her. So that's how people were way back in time, now its like some places you go you don't even know your neighbors, but uh I made that, I made mine uh when, whenever I go somewhere on trips now that I take part in a lot of things and I tell my neighbor I'm going to be gone for maybe four or five days will you get my mail and paper, oh yeah sure and I came, when I come back they've got 'em all saved for me so I don't have to worry about it. I've got a mailbox that sits right next to his so he checks mine at the same time.

Jim: Well it's wonderful getting a chance to talk to you again; I don't want to take up your whole day doing this . . .

Horace: Well yeah.

Jim: . . . because I could talk to you for hours. Is there anything, is there anything else that you'd like to tell us?

Horace: Yeah uh you know in, back in the world of uh of uh our time I'd say uh there was a, a lot of uh generosity, I mean it was like I was saying that man used to come and give us stuff and, but everybody was like that, they all wanted to share with each other. I remember when I came back from the army and this one man that used to be our neighbor he lived oh a couple miles away, but he got sick in the wintertime, so uh she came into town where I was living with my uncle and uh they wanted to know if I would come out and work for them, take care of the farm while he was sick. So I used to go out there everyday and help, so one day I told her your wood pile's getting pretty slim out there, so I told her I said well I'll, I'll call around and see if I can get a few guys to come and help and you know make some wood. So I made a few phone calls and the next day I come out there to her there were guys there with their, with their equipment and everything and we had a whole wood shed full of wood that day and oh man he was so proud of that, he was older than me, he said I'm glad I asked you to come and help me work, take care of my farm, I used to clean out the barn and take care of his cows and of course we used to have that when I was growing up, but when my mom got sick she had to sell a few cattle and stuff to get along, so uh I still had a few horses left and, but then when I moved back down here I, I had to leave that stuff and so I sold some of it, but that was living in the, in the past. I remember journeys going with saddle uh horses and wagons from Ferdinand clear down to New Meadows, Idaho. That's with wagon and horses. Now I can go down there and make it in a couple hours, but that used to take us days to get down there, camp over and move on for 15, 20 miles and camp again, but that was fun, to get to ride a horse all the way down there and back, but I always did like horses and I always will and dogs, I used to have a couple dogs, uh the story about my dogs when I had to leave for the service I had two dogs I used to everywhere I went with my horse they was there with me, everywhere, so I had to leave my horse and I had to leave my dogs, so I was, had to walk into town because the snow was pretty deep, we couldn't use our car, it was parked out on the highway uh where the highway was, it was about three miles over there, but anyway I had to walk into town to catch, catch the bus to take me over to the town and seed in Grangeville where all the inductees were going to leave from that day. So I, I told her before I left uh I told my mother I said don't let the dogs out for a couple hours after I leave, so they was uh laying by the stove asleep you know and mom used to let them in every morning, because I had to leave early, so when they woke up, they woke up and they run upstairs, couldn't find me up there and they used to run up and wake me up in the morning, run upstairs and they come back down and they looked around the house and they scratched on the door, they wanted to go outside and run over to the barn and all places and then she says pretty soon they disappeared, I guess they went into town looking for me. So late in the evening they come back scratching on the door and as soon as she let him in they run upstairs again and they couldn't find me, she said they done that for about three or four days and says oh they was here about two weeks, until one day they took into town I guess, never ever come back, she don't know what ever happened to them. So I told her well maybe they joined the navy I don't know, but she missed my dogs as well as me when and then my horse. The story about how I got that horse too and it goes on and on, time I start talking like this all these memories come back and once in a while I remember something when I'm eating breakfast with my wife and I'll have to tell her a story and, but she remembers a lot of things too. Both of us grew up with our single moms, that's how we met each other. In fact her mother helped me marry her daughter.

Jim: Nice gift.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Vernon Baker lives outside of St. Maries in rural Benewah County. He is the first black man to receive the Medal of Honor, awarded more than 50 years after his heroic deeds in Italy.

Note: Mr. Baker uses language that, while common in military settings, some may find offensive.

Jim: Where did you grow up?

Vernon: I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was born and raised there and I left Cheyenne when I was 21 years old joined the Army and I haven't been back maybe a couple of times. The first time I went back I was coming back from overseas in 1947 and I was by myself and I was driving and I turned off the highway and I got lost because the place just it just grown up and spread out all, all over the prairie there.

Jim: How, how did you end up joining the Service?

Vernon: Well I couldn't find a job. I finished high school in Clarinda, Iowa. I went to Clarinda by reason of my grandfather's brother died - Uncle Will - and when I went back and I went back with him to Clarinda, Iowa, for my Uncle's funeral and I found out that was half full of Bakers and I never knew I had so many relatives. I had another a cousin named Vern Baker also and he convinced me that the best thing to do was to come back to Clarinda and go to school. Which in-between doing porter jobs on the railroad in the summertime I went back to Clarinda and I stayed with my grandfather's older sister Aunt Elsie and I went there and I finished school in Clarinda, Iowa.

Jim: And how did you get from Iowa into the Service?

Vernon: Well after I finished high school I went back to Cheyenne and I was running on the road as a railroad porter and I after a while I quit because of how I was being treated, I didn't like to be a servant. I was living with my sister in Cheyenne there and so she had told me to look in the newspaper and see some of those ads and dress up, put a tie on and go see if you can get a job. Which I did and it was very discouraging, because of the fact that my skin color was not right. I would go in and I'd sit and people or youngsters, young ladies and young men, would come in and be interviewed and I'd still sit there until all of the interviews were finished. I'd be told "well the job is taken, the interviews are over with." I never got an interview and I became very, very discouraged. I told my sister that and she said, "Well why don't you join the Army. And you'll join the Army and you'll go into Quartermaster and, and you'll stay right here brother." Well at that time Fort Russell was a Quartermaster base outside of Cheyenne there so I said oh okay I'll try that. So I went in and the first time I went to the recruiting station I walked in and this big fat ugly rascal sitting there, a big sergeant. And he looked at me and said, "What you want?" I said, "I'd like to join the Army." And he went on back to what he was doing, said, "Well we ain't got no quarter for you people." So that kind of discouraged me a bit. I went back and kept trying to find a job and couldn't find a job so my sister said, "Go back to it and see if you can join the Army." So I did and this time there was a young man sitting behind the desk of the Sergeant, but he was about my age too and I had my hand on the knob to leave when he would tell me we ain't got no quarters for you people. So I said, "I'd like to join the Army." He said, "Oh well come on in and sit down," and I sat down and I said, "Well maybe," and so all the questions you know were, where were you born, how old are you, how much education do you got and this, that and the other and then he said, "What branch of the service would you like to enlist in?" I said, "Quartermaster." And I watched him write Infantry. So, so but I didn't protest because I was in.

Jim: You watched the guy write down infantry?

Vernon: Yeah, uh huh. And I didn't protest because I was in. And so I left Cheyenne on the 26th of June 1941, and went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, received my uniform and then at the post there was a nice swimming pool and we were allowed to go in the swimming pool and have ourselves a lot of fun while we were getting ourselves set for our Basic Training Unit. I said to myself, "Boy, now I'm sure glad I joined the Army because this, this is it!" You know? But I didn't know. I didn't know what was coming.

Jim: A lot of people have the feeling that people joined because they had a real sense of patriotism or they wanted to pitch in and help. Was that part of it also or were you just trying to find a way to make money?

Vernon: I was trying to find a job so that I could exist because I was living off my sister and she and her husband had jobs. But we weren't living like I would say like the rest of the people because we were poor, very poor. And we were just getting by. And I didn't want to become a bump on the log with my sister and my brother-in-law. He was a fairly nice fella, but I could tell that he wasn't very happy because I was there and so I said I might as well just get the heck out of here and find myself a job and or do something and I followed my sister's advice and joined the Army.

Jim: How long were you in Kansas and how long before you ended up overseas?

Vernon: Quite a while. I finished basic training at Camp Wallace, Texas, and I went from Camp Wallace, Texas, to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. When I finished my basic training at Camp Wallace they took us to Fort Huachuca. We stayed in a train overnight and the next morning the sergeant came and lined us up and marched us up the hill. And as we were standing out there he walked by and looked at each one of us and he said, "Can anybody here type?" And I raised my hand with four other people. And he said, "Okay come on out here." And I will never forget that sergeant's name, his name was Sergeant Espy, E-S-P-Y. He lined us up and marched us down to the area that they were building and he dropped us every one of us off from A to D Company 25th Infantry and I was the last one in line and I my first assignment was Company D 25th Infantry. I walked in the room and Sergeant Espy said to the First Sergeant, the First Sergeant's name was Allen and he walked in and said, "Sergeant Allen, here's your new clerk," and Sergeant Allen looked up at me and said, "Okay, sit down over there," and I went to work. The company commander's name was Captain Green and I did all the paperwork for the supply room and for the unit itself. So one day the supply sergeant took off and went to OCS because the war was just getting ready to go and I was sitting there behind my clerk's desk. I heard Captain Green say, "Private Baker come in here." And I got up and walked in. He said he had a pair of sergeant's stripes sitting on the desk. Well I didn't pay any attention to ‘em and he said, "Put those stripes on, you're my new supply sergeant," just like that. And I did. I became the supply sergeant and when December of 1941 came around we were all brought another stripe, and I loved my job. I don't know what whether you know anything about being a supply sergeant, but you could wheel and deal and I really liked that job. And so in the summer of 1941, our unit was sent up to Washington to furnish security for Geiger Field you know where Geiger Field is?

Jim: Yes.

Vernon: Well we stayed up there until about September of '41 and then we were sent back to Fort Huachuca. But I fell in love with this part of the country because the people up here were . . . well they were human beings and treated us like human beings and I put it in the back of my mind, I said, "I'm coming back up here when the war is over."

Jim: And that's something it sounds like you had been looking for. I mean, the place where you felt . . . I mean its funny to say, "to feel human," but that's what you're saying?

Vernon: Yes. Yeah I was looking for a place like that and I found it up here in this northern part of the country. And we went back in September of '41, we went back to Fort Huachuca and in the process I was called up to the regimental commander's office. Well I was a young man then and I had, I did a lot of Dido's if you want to call ‘em that.

Jim: Explain what that is.

Vernon: You've got yourself in things. And being a supply sergeant, I did a lot of wheeling and dealing. And so this particular day I was called up to the regimental commander's office and I went in to report. He said, "Sergeant Baker?" "Yes sir!" And I was waiting for either an ass chewing or a court martial or something. And he shoved this set of papers at me and said, "Sign these," and you didn't argue with a full Colonel. When you were told something by a superior officer you did not ask questions. And so I signed ‘em and I wondered when I was going to jail. He said, "These are your application for OCS. You're going to OCS and become a second lieutenant." And I said, "Oh shit," because I was a supply sergeant I had it made. I could wheel and deal and I said, "Well I hope," said to myself, "I hope to heck that they lose these dang gumb papers!" But it didn't happen. So in October of 1942 I went to OCS and on the 11th of January 1943 I graduated from Staff Sergeant to Second Lieutenant.

Jim: You were talking about graduating from OCS. I want to take you just back for a second. Tell me where you were and what was happening when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Vernon: I was a Supply Sergeant at Fort Huachuca and when Pearl Harbor was bombed I just said, "Well lets go whip the shit out of ‘em and come on back home," and at that time on the 7th of December 1941 everybody in the Army, I think, was promoted one grade higher and I was promoted from buck sergeant to staff sergeant and like everyone else was, was promoted. PFC's were promoted to corporal and so my feeling was, well, lets get it on and go over there and kick their ass and come on back home. And our whole unit, the whole regiment, was packed up and sent up to Spokane, Washington to furnish the security for Geiger Field. And we stayed up here about three months and when we went back to Huachuca I got my orders for OCS and I went to OCS in October 1942 and I graduated Second Lieutenant on the 11th of January 1943.

Jim: What was that like to make that step? You'd gone from not being able to get a job, to getting turned down by the first recruitment officer to going into infantry, which wasn't quite as you requested. And now you're graduating from OCS and you've got all kinds of stuff on your arms and all that stuff.

Vernon: Yes. Yeah well things went pretty fast then. I think because of the war and when I graduated Second Lieutenant I can't remember what we went from, no they sent me to Fort Huachuca, I went back to Fort Huachuca and then they packed us up and sent us up here to furnish security for Geiger Field and then we left and we stayed up here about three months, about three months or so and we went back to Fort Huachuca, went to OCS, I graduated on the 11th of January 1943 and I came back to Fort Huachuca. Then they packed us up to get ready to go overseas and this was late 1943. And we went through some of the most exhausting training that I had ever seen. So one day all the officers were called up to headquarters. We were in the 92nd Division then, and the officers were called up to headquarters one morning. The chief of staff came out and he said, "Well all the white boys have been going overseas and getting killed now its time for the black boys to go get killed." Half of the Officers or I would say half or a little more than half the officers that were in that group requested a transfer out to the 372nd, the 371st and 372nd. Our unit was in the 370th and was packed up to go overseas. And that, that trip overseas, was the most pleasant trip I ever took in my life. We were all packed on one ship called the Mariposa which is a converted luxury liner. The 370th Combat Team which consisted of about 5,000 men were packed on that one ship and when we left Newport News, Virginia, the sun was shining and the sun shined all the way across the ocean. It didn't seem like there was a ripple in the ocean, it was smooth as glass, you could look down and see the fish swimming. And then the question came up about why are we out here by ourselves, just this one ship in the middle of a war? The answer was that we can outrun any submarine there is. But we made it, and in June of 1943 we landed right outside of Naples, Italy. And every ship that I saw at that time was sunk in the harbor of Naples. And we walked from one sunken ship to the other, across gang planks to get to get to shore. And they gave each officer a manual of the Italian language so that we could study and learn to speak the language, which I didn't learn a word. And we went from outside of Naples to a place on the east shore of the Mediterranean Ocean. We set there for, oh, maybe two or three weeks and then one morning, or one night at about 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning we heard airplane, after airplane, after airplane going over. They started at about 1:00 in the morning and it kept on until about 4:00 the next afternoon. We finally found out that, that was when the invasion of Normandy had begun.

Jim: When did you first see battle after getting there?

Vernon: We first, we first saw battle at the Chingqually Canal just outside of Viareggio. That was our time to say, "Well we're going to kick the German's in the ass and then we're going home." But it wasn't that simple. We when we moved into battle that was when I began to realize that we weren't over there to play games. And looking back on it everybody was told that black soldiers were afraid of the dark, they couldn't fight and real ironically that all of our action for the first three months of battle we were in were night patrols, night excursions. I never did anything in the daytime, but sleep, but all of our action was at night.

Jim: So that sun that shone on you on the whole trip over, you didn't seen it much after you got there?

Vernon: Didn't see it much after that no. And then we were . . . we were slated for night patrols when I first began to realize that war wasn't a game. That war was a very serious thing. We had some pretty tough times then. It's kind of hard for me to talk about it. I'd like to take a break.

Jim: Sure.

Jim: You were talking about seeing battle and the fact that iit's difficult to talk about. And at the same time, I think people want and sometimes need to hear some of that stuff. I think that there's a tendency, especially with World War II, to sort of think about it as a golden time when everything was wonderful in America and everybody felt great about everything that was going on.

Vernon: Yeah as far as I'm concerned it wasn't great because the people that I trained, the people that we were close together in the beginning it was, it was kind of rough on me because I was the youngest man in my platoon and most of the men were 7 to 10 years older than I. I was only 23 years old. And we had a heck of a time because they figured that they knew more than I did and what in the hell is this, this little nigger out here trying to get smart with me? Well going back, it happened to me when I was a staff sergeant in Fort Huachuca. Most of the men, this was before the war, most of the men in the unit had been in the unit maybe some of ‘em been in 15 and 20 years, had never got any farther up the ladder than maybe a Corporal or POC. Well the majority of ‘em were illiterate, they couldn't read or write and then all of the sudden here come these real young niggers in here, they think they're smart, they've been to school, and but we've been here longer than they have and they come in and take our job. I had the misfortune of coming back from a movie one night at Fort Huachuca and I was jumped on by three of the older fellas and I got my butt whipped because I was a smart nigger. They say, "Here you come in here and take our jobs and you think you smart. Well we'll show you how smart you are." And I got the hell beat out of me. And then shortly after that we got orders for heading out and going overseas. Well I'm glad those guys didn't go with me because they would either shot me or I would've shot them. It was that simple. It was just a simple thing of . . . one side and a little bit of education on the other which doesn't go together. But I weathered it and on the boat going over those particular guys didn't go overseas because they were over 35 years old and anybody over 35 or 35 and over didn't go overseas at that time.

Jim: And those were other black men as well?

Vernon: Yeah black men. And it kind of rankled me a little bit. And then I began to look at those men as they didn't have the opportunities that I had coming up and getting an education and learning how life was and on the boat going overseas we got together and I spent more time with my men down in the hole where they were than I did up on the upper decks with the rest of the officers because I figured when we got overseas these people in my platoon and I'm leading ‘em supposed to be leading ‘em, I'd better find out what the hell is happening. And the most joyous thing, and I can remember, I was down in the hole talking to the platoon one day and one guy stood up . . . these are about 30, between 30-35 years old . . . he stood up and he said, "Lieutenant you got, you got an accent." I said, "What do you mean I got an accent?" He said, "Well, when you talk you, you don't pronounce your R's right." I said, "What do you mean I don't pronounce my R's right?" "Just like I said there Lieutenant. You got an accent." And from then on we were together. That was it.

Jim: So what was that like, with these guys? By that point you guys had come together. Then head into what you guys had to head into?

Vernon: We well we got together. And most of those guys couldn't read or write and I began to write letters for ‘em. I read their letters from home to them and it was as if I was their father. And when we . . . when we landed in April in Naples . . . we were together. And we took that all the way down on the front lines. When I said something, it was done.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about the front lines.

Vernon: What do you want to know?

Jim: What was it like? What happened?

Vernon: Hell. I was in the first battalion, the 370th, and when we got up there the second and the third battalions were to take Hill X. There were three hills they called X, Y and Z. The 370th, 1st and the 366th had tried to take the hills away. And the second and third battalions were given the mission to do this. The third, second and third battalions failed after several attempts to even get halfway up Hill X. The hill was only about 400-600 feet high, but it was . . . it was some tough terrain. And the second and third battalions were given the mission to take Hill X, Y and Z which they never could do. And after we set and watched, and set and watched, this one particular day I was told to go to the OP and watch what was going on. And I never seen . . . I never seen so many people lose their lives on that one little hill, going up it, trying to get there. The word was that the Germans were running short of ammunition and it wasn't . . . it wasn't going to be anything to take that hill. Well the second and third battalions got up on the Hill they took. They took the Hill that day. And I remember looking through the binoculars from the OP, the second battalion's OP. And I could see the men cleaning out dug outs, taking prisoners out of fox holes, shooting people and I was real happy. I said, "Well shit, they're going to do this, we don't have to go." But when evening came about, just about sunset, the word was that the Germans were running out of ammunition and just about sunset . . . I call it . . . the lion roared. There was a third, second and third battalions half way up the hill and the Germans started at the top of the hill and they covered that whole hill with artillery fire. They started at about ¾ from the top of it and they moved that artillery or that fire or that artillery fire from ¾ of the bottom of the hill down. And they piddled around on the bottom of the hill and then they . . . they went back up. But the thing about it is that the second and third battalion in essence took the hill, but they couldn't hold it and the Germans were supposed to be short of ammunition, but they covered all three of those hills from the top to the bottom and then they went back up and we lost practically two battalions of men. They just chewed ‘em up. I never seen anything like that before in my life. And I was in the OP. It was our turn next and I don't know what happened, but we got lucky and I think because the second and third battalions missed cutting communication lines. We went up and we cut the communication lines all the way up. And when we got up to the top the corpses that we found, there was a strange thing, everyone, every one of the corpses up there was barefooted. Which I'm I guess I meant that the Germans were running short of essential supplies. We cut communication lines going all the way up to the Castle. When we got up to the castle Captain Runyon, my company commander, I didn't know where he was on the way up, but I was sitting on the edge of the draw that went up to the castle and he appeared and then we were sitting there figuring out how to go. There was maybe a 100 foot draw between us and the castle and we were planning on getting our troop down in that draw and, and get ‘em up to the castle before they knew we were there. And we were trying to figure out how to get there, but there was a path . . . maybe down or 15-20 feet below us, but we couldn't see it, it was brush covered. And a German came out, came out underneath us and I looked, saw him and Captain Runyon saw him at the same time and he jumped and I was swinging my riffle around to shoot him and he knocked the rifle out of my hands almost. I was lucky enough to get a hold of it and he took off and I shot the German in the back . . . which I didn't like to do . . . and I followed. I went down and followed the path down to where he was, where this dead German was laying there, and the only thing I wanted to do was to see what he looked like. And I turned him over . . . and guess what? It was a kid about 15 or 16 years old. He was so young he hadn't even began to shave yet. And to make a long story short I went down and got a couple of dugouts out and I came back up and when I came back up Captain Runyon was gone. I don't know where he went and I saw Sergeant Dickens and I asked him, "Where where's Runyon?" And he looked at me like he didn't know who I was talking about. I said, "The company," I said, "Where's the CO?" And he said, "Oh he's in the, he's in the that house up there." And there was a couple of stable houses, stone stable houses and he, Captain Runyon, was sitting in there and when I walked in he looked at me and said, "Baker can't you get those men together outside?" And I'm not going to tell you what I said to him, even though he was a Captain.

Jim: You can tell us.

Vernon: Well I told him, "Shit Captain, I'm doing the best I God Damn best I can out there!" And he said, "Oh, oh well okay, okay." And then about two minutes later he said, "Baker, I'm going back for reinforcements." And he didn't know how close he come to getting killed. I couldn't . . . company commander going back for reinforcements . . . and he did. He left. And we fought up there on that hill for two or three hours. I went up with 26 men and I came back with six.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Isabel Brassey and Helen Gebhardt are sisters. They grew up in Boise and attended Boise High School.

Jim: Did you grow up here or where'd you grow up?

Helen: Moved here in 1928, three years, I was three years old and Isabel too, our dad was um a banker and he came to work for the state and then he went to work for Idaho First National so we were fairly permanent after we moved to Boise.

Jim: What was it like back then, when you moved here?

Helen: To us having come from Malad it was a big city, though I think we were keyed into the neighborhood you know, but our parents had found an apartment first in the on North 6th Street and I think of it now and drive over there once in a while its near a little park, but we stayed in that part of town then for quite a few years.

Jim: And what was the town like, what do you remember about those years?

Helen: Well then I remember we moved to North 10th Street, where we rented a house and it was just across the alley from Longfellow School and I can remember the only time I was ever late to school in my life was when I went from home to Longfellow right across the alley.

Isabel: That house was torn down and now the activities center for Longfellow stands where our house did.

Jim: Things must've changed a lot I mean, when you walk around Boise now. Does it look familiar to those days, would people from there recognize it today? What do you think?

Helen: I remember the things in Hyde Park uh our folks bought a home on North 12th Street, fairly close to Camelsback Park and we used to spend a lot of time at Camelsback Park, but we walked to and from school, but I remember where the, the shoe shop used to be up where there was I can't remember now what's in there, an estate shop or something like that, but Dave Reibe and his father operated the shoe shop and now the grandson operates it, but I remember the Hyde Park Market and I remember the drug store, remember when we used to?

Isabel: It was important; every spring we went over for a short hair cut to the barber shop.

Helen: Yeah, but I think the thing now that you notice when you drive through those old neighborhoods is what wonderful things they're doing with some of those old houses, the people who can take an old house and know just, have the vision to see what it could look like uh is just fascinating and wonderful what has happened to the north end.

Isabel: Well and it seems like part of it I think, I, I not here, but I used to, in another town I had a house that was built back in the, in the late 20s and sort of became the life of the neighborhoods in the 30s and the 40s and I know one of things I liked about working on it was that you felt like you sort of connected to that time period you know living there you almost feel the echoes of those friendly ghosts if you will.

Jim: Why do you think people want to connect to that time period? What was so special about living back then?

Helen: You know we didn't use cars like they do now, we walked when we went places and we developed friends in the neighborhood and we played kick the can and you know all of those wonderful games, hop scotch, I don't think kids do that anymore and after school from in high school days we'd walk downtown maybe just to shop or for some reason one reason or another, but we would know almost everyone on the street, we knew the older generation too uh because Boise was small enough I guess and friendly easy.

Jim: And I heard if there was somebody who stopped in from out of town everybody knew right away.

Helen: Uh huh and you know we all had lots of entertaining in our homes, I can remember mother always had teas or luncheons for us when there was something special going on.

Isabel: I always felt she was the first room mother because when we went to Longfellow School uh she always took cookies for the different holidays and they didn't do that in those days with room mothers like they do now, but she became a very good friend of our second grade teacher Katherine Caesar who remained a lifelong friend of all of us and uh that camaraderie was nice.

Helen: In fact I still visit Katherine's grave and I'm sure you do on Memorial Day?

Isabel: Yes.

Helen: She was such a dear friend. So you know you, teachers were not impersonal.

Isabel: Speaking of houses you know moving when we moved to the 12th Street house all our friends came over to see where we lived and we were so thrilled because it had a laundry chute that went from the upstairs to the basement that was the thing we took them to see first you know you opened a little door and put your dirty laundry down there and it landed right near the washing machine.

Jim: Did you put your siblings down there.

Helen: No didn't try that.

Isabel: But I can remember the war years and we had a telephone that was in the hallway that could be totally contained, we'd close all the doors and we could talk on the telephone when we were supposed to be having a blackout.

Jim: Well now that you mention blackouts that's the thing, people are going to hear that today and they're going to go what's, what's a blackout?

Isabel: Its funny I'm not remembering the blackouts as much as Helen, I didn't think of that right off the bat when I started thinking about war years, but we did have them for sure.

Helen: Yeah we did.

Jim: For people that didn't, that don't know what those are, what, what was it like out, why do you need 'em, what, what would you do?

Isabel: We had to leave the house completely dark in case there were enemy planes flying over, it was just a practice thing I guess.

Helen: Yeah.

Isabel: But we did have them and I can also remember you know we didn't have television and at night after we got our studies finished we could listen to the radio on Fibber McGee and Molly were on and you know.

Helen: Little Orphan Annie.

Isabel: Yeah we had our favorite radio shows.

Jim: And I've always seen those sort of you know Norman Rockwell kind of images of families around the radio, was it like that or not like that?

Helen: Absolutely.

Isabel: We knew that the minute dad, he walked back and forth to work and he was like a clock you know he'd come in at 10 minutes to 6:00 and he'd turn on the news immediately no matter what you were watching, we all listened to the news then.

Helen: Yeah.

Jim: And the radio was a big part, kind of like television today maybe?

Isabel: Uh huh.

Jim: But its like when I, you know when I listen to radio, good radio not like just music and stuff like that, but when you hear good news or stories there's something about listening to the radio that makes it awfully vivid doesn't it?

Helen: And you know one of, one of the things that has been a lifelong passion of mind is listening to opera because I had a 7th grade music teacher who used to give us extra credits if we listened to the opera on Saturday and so you know we became familiar with the opera music which was great Ms. Henshaw.

Isabel: Yes she was a good teacher too. I've always liked the radio and actually preferred it to television to this day I think you get your own mental images, but for some reason its easier I guess than just sitting down in front of a set.

Jim: Okay well since we're doing a TV show I guess we can let you guys go. Thanks a lot cut that part out all right?

Isabel: We have grandchildren who are always at the TV.

Jim: You talk about walking downtown and walking the streets, what was down there what stores, restaurants . . . what all was around?

Helen: Well there was a store called the Mechanafe that everyone liked so I'll mention it first, but I think normally when we'd walk from high school we'd stop at C.C. Anderson store, the department store and look at everything you know, but the Mechanafe had food coming by on a moving chain or what do you call it a moving tray and you could reach in and get what you wanted, you paid a small amount for your dinner and, and then when the desserts came you know you could have as many as puddings or ice cream as you could handle.

Jim: That sounds like the Jetsons or something. In Boise back in those days to have something like that, but almost like the Automat.

Isabel: Well you know walking was something you did, there were, there were buses, but I can remember walking to and from school and we'd go home for lunch everyday.

Helen: We'd go home for lunch and have five or 10 minutes is all to eat quickly and we'd worry about our hair.

Isabel: And go back.

Jim: Why would you worry about your hair?

Helen: Well walking home and back you'd want to look descent when you got back to school so you'd have to decide whether you wanted to spend the time eating or combing your air.

Jim: I have a feeling you two got into trouble as sisters, I don't know, just looking at you guys.

Helen: Nope it was our little sister, our younger sister.

Isabel: Helen was the, the older sister so she always had the private room and the other two of us shared a room so we, we became a little closer growing up because Helen was a little more efficient too she wanted to get through the dishes in a hurry and, and we were fooling around singing songs, dancing.

Jim: What would've been a big Friday or Saturday night around here back then, like what would you guys do what was, if you were going to go out and have a great time what, what sort of thing?

Isabel: Well we always went to Murray's Drive-In at some point. We had a lot of school dances, a lot of Job's Daughter dances.

Helen: We had a group that we did things with if we didn't have a date, I'm thinking now more into high school, but the group of girls that we started with in grade school and then picked up some more from a neighboring neighborhood in Junior High School and there were 15 of us in high school and we have never stopped meeting through all these years even when some of us were away at school there was a core of them still in Boise and now at this stage of life we've picked up one or two friends from the same class maybe who have joined us to meet monthly for lunch.

Isabel: Well I'll tell you what Helen did for parties, I mean Helen was more into social life than I was, but uh she, we had a neighbor who told fortunes, Bee Reichert a nurse.

Helen: Who read our palms.

Isabel: And Helen would invite her friends over and have Bee over to tell fortunes.

Helen: Well and, and I remember too on Christmas morning, Isabel had a little core of friends and Mr. Vandenberg would bring Margaret over and they'd go from house to house looking at what everyone got for Christmas.

Isabel: But that really started at Easter and Mr. Vandenberg was a great guy and they didn't have the rules we have now because we'd have 14 people hanging on his car to go up to Sunrise Service at Table Rock and then he'd take us breakfast at the Methodist Church. I'm sure they were glad to have us all show up.

Jim: You know its interesting when I've talked to people about those years and I ask what was it like, everybody, before they answer, everybody gets a little smile across their face. Why is that? What was special about that?

Helen: You know we, we had a lot of camaraderie and everyone supported each other and one of the things I remember I was on my way to early church on December 7th and I heard the news boys yelling Extra Extra Read All About It that is indelible in my mind, and the war years I remember I was a senior in high school in '43 and I remember so many of the boys who were old enough enlisting and leaving before they got their diploma, those were, and you know we all supported the war effort we, I remember knitting sweaters for the red cross and doing all kinds of things, but, but everyone was committed to seeing it through.

Isabel: But maybe they were all over once the war started, I mean who knows, but a small town I suppose has more chance of togetherness as they work on things like that.

Jim: You talked about when you heard about Pearl Harbor about how that happened?

Helen: Uh huh.

Jim: Were things just the same after that, did everything change?

Helen: No everything changed. There was rationing you only had so many gallons of gas, you couldn't, you had coupons for different kinds of food and I remember this is something that I think people today miss out on, we had a neighborhood grocer and when he got cocoa and sugar and butter and everything he would save a small amount for the people who regularly traded with him and I can, and I can remember sometimes dad would let us use the car for dates because he had enough gas, he always walked to and from work. We, we grew up walking wherever we went.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Bethine Church grew up in Idaho Falls and moved to Boise when she was in high school. Her father, Chase Clark, moved the family to the Treasure Valley when he was elected Governor. At Boise High she met future US Senator Frank Church whom she would later marry.

Jim: Tell what that was like growing up there, because that's really where you grew up, you didn't grow up in Boise?

Bethine: Well, I grew up in Mackey in the mountains of the Sun River Mountains and in Idaho Falls. For Idaho Falls in those days, I was 17, it was the middle of my senior year in high school, and suddenly my father was elected governor. Idaho Falls was a potato place, a quiet little farm community. It didn't have the INEL, it didn't have any of the big push from anywhere outside of the state, and so coming to Boise was just like uh well maybe like years later going from Boise to Washington, D.C., when Frank was elected. It seemed to me I was always uprooted.

Jim: That is, much like the potatoes?

Bethine: Yeah.

Jim: Actually getting dug up and thrown somewhere else.

Bethine: I was always dug up and thrown out.

Jim: How would you describe to people what Idaho Falls was like back in those days before you came here?

Bethine: It was really a wonderful place to live. It, we marched over by the . . . I was in the marching band for the Idaho Falls High School . . . and we marched over by the river and the wind blew off of it and it was either icy cold or full of dust and I didn't play a clarinet very well anyway, but we kept winning as a marching band and my school was wonderful and I was in, I think I was the federal court judge in it. So that's how I first met Frank. I came over here with the people who were elected in school, and my best friend was the student body president and she still to this day I talk to her in Idaho Falls and she's still one of my best friends. So it was a very personal life I was leading, and suddenly, boom.

Jim: Everything changed?

Bethine: Uh huh.

Jim: You grew up sort of on the, on the edge of the depression. I wasn't around back then, but I read history and you read the books and it talks about how hard it was, how horrible it was, how awful it was for everyone; I've gotten a completely different view when I talk to people.

Bethine: Well, in Idaho, in a way you did get a different view. It wasn't like the dust bowl where people just had to put everything on the wagon and haul out. It wasn't like the early pioneer days when it was such a struggle. But I have to tell you at a movie one night they used to have drawings and we were trying to figure out what we were going to have for Thanksgiving dinner and I drew a turkey so I was the famous one. I think it's one of the few things I ever, ever won, but it was really nice. But my dad, my dad had this terrifically optimistic view — when the banks crashed and we lived in uh Mackey he put all of his money that he had into helping people who had no, no security because you didn't have any federal insurance. So he put all the money that he had into that. The only thing he didn't sell was the ranch in Stanley Basin. Then we moved to Idaho Falls and he started his law practice all over again. But my mother was one of these people that we always used to laugh — she used to make what we called Ice Box Stews, everything that was left over went into a casserole and, and but it was wonderful.

Jim: Well and, and it has been interesting. When I've asked people about that time period usually the first thing, and it happened with you and I wasn't, I wasn't going to say it, I was waiting to see if it happened, I mention those years and there's a smile that crosses your face.

Bethine: Yeah it was, it was very, it was wonderful. My father was always giving my mother presents he couldn't afford and my mother — I give her the best credit in the world — she never said when she was worried about when the, where the next meal was coming from. He'd give her, he gave her an extravagant watch for Christmas one time and I remember her saying, Oh this is really beautiful Chase. She never said we can't afford it, we should take it back; she always said thank you.

Jim: Was, was the depression, depressing?

Bethine: I think it must've been to lots of people. There were people on the fringe in Idaho Falls that my mother would help out and that just never got on their feet. You know, I guess it just depends. Pop was a lawyer and a very good one and managed to come back after the crash, but I think for lots of people it's like now, there are people who have just fallen off the, the record, maybe they say the economy is doing well, but think of all those people down at the bottom of the economy who have fallen out of terribly good jobs, had too expensive of house, had too much to pay for and are just out of it.

Jim: What was your childhood like, what did you do for fun?

Bethine: Well, we got together at the church and after church went out skiing on terrible equipment. I remember getting a black eye just before one of our, I think it was my junior high dance, and my mother made me a patch to go over it to match my dress I was going to wear, so we went out anyway. But just all got together — we'd have popcorn, we'd talk and I had a, a unique upbringing, upbringing. My dad — when you think of how long ago that was and I'm 83 now, so you know it was a long time ago — my pop would talk politics, he would talk religion, he would talk about everything that was happening in the community, what needed to be done for people, what needed to be done for the community. We didn't have the kind of dinner table conversation that left all the, the problems out; we talked 'em over so I was always part of it. From the time I was in grade school I remember being involved. The only thing we never talked about was sex.

Jim: Probably just as well. When you moved to Boise from Idaho Falls, you were kind of a celebrity; I mean people knew who you were?

Bethine: Well you know it was really funny. Once after I, I'd been going with a basketball player and, and things sort of came apart and of course I was going with Frank and all of his friends too because they'd come to the house on Sunday night and we'd talk politics. But when I sort of broke up with this one guy I sat on the steps at our house and told my father, "He ruined my life." I was in tears and Pop for once had the smarts of laughing at me and said, "Bethine no one worked harder to have me become governor than you and you've had more celebrity than you'll ever have again." And he said — of course it didn't happen that way, but he said it — and he said, "So you just roll with the punches and tomorrow will look a lot better." And that was his philosophy. He loved people and I think the reason I've always loved campaigning is my father taught me that everybody, whether they were in the kitchen, whether they were helping out, whether they were attending something, they were all equally important, that you should go talk to all of them and be part of whatever they, they had as problems or cared about.

Jim: And, and really be in touch with the people I mean.

Bethine: That's right.

Jim: You know, representing the people in Washington, not vice versa.

Bethine: That's exactly it. I never left home in that way, my mind never left home. When I decided in '89 to come home I'd been 33 years in Washington and I had waited about five years after Frank died because I just didn't feel comfortable not coming home without him, coming home without him. But the main thing was all my friends there said you've been in the Potomac for so long, everybody gets Potomac Fever you can't go home again. I said you just watch my dust. And I went home and it's been the best decision I ever made. I've been gloriously happy here.

Jim: There must've been something about Boise that you came back to Boise and not Idaho Falls?

Bethine: Well, I had left Idaho Falls when I was 17, I was really connected here, we had a house on Idaho Street that after Pop was defeated as governor he became a federal judge and we stayed with that house, when pop died Frank and I helped my mom keep the house and be there, she was 96 when she died so I used to fly back and forth to be at Idaho Street house and to be in Boise and I had always just wonderful friends. Frank's friends that used to come over and raid my kitchen on Saturday night, we'd talk politics and everything and you know when, when Pearl Harbor happened uh I remember Pearl Burke and Frank Church were lifelong friends from grade school, came rushing over to my house to tell me how it was going to change their lives, how they'd be in this war and how it would change everybody and you know when you start thinking about it from a personal point of view you know what a change it made in everybody's life. For example, even when we came over here in '41 pop as governor had started to build the basement of the museum over at Julia Davis Park, the History Museum and he had to stop because the money ran out, everything was going into the war effort. All of us, the same kids and several cousins of mine in town and everybody went out and thinned beets because they didn't have enough workers, of course I'm not sure how much damage we did to the beet crop, but we were there and, and Life Magazine uh covered us, we have wonderful pictures of it, but we were aced by some very much more important thing in the world. So we were never printed.

Jim: You talk about you moving here from, from Idaho Falls. What, what did you think when you, when you got to Boise and this was, this was like, the difference between going from here to D.C.

Bethine: Well, you know I was covered by the newspapers. My two best friends from Idaho Falls came over for the inaugural ball and we were all dressed up like princesses. I've got the picture hanging in my house to this day of the three of us — there was so much magic in it, it was like uh changing from Cinderella and going to the ball.

Jim: What was Boise like, what do you remember about it back then?

Bethine: Oh I remember so many things. I came over here when I was in grade school, when pop was in the legislature, and then there were places like the Cherry Blossom and the Mechanafe and everything, but there was still these old buildings downtown and there was still, there was still a feeling of real, real close community. The people I knew in high school were families that had been here, most of them, many years, so there was always a good community feeling. I remember loving it. I just had a great time and, and our house was right across from St. Margaret's and it, it was just sort of the center of everything. And because my pop and my mom didn't have any time I was one of the few people in, in school with a car because they didn't have time to get me anywhere. So I used to take all my friends up to Lucky Peak picnicking and you know it was just wonderful.

Jim: Was it the kind of place where when you walked around downtown there were a lot of strangers or did you know everybody, or what was it like?

Bethine: Well you know you really knew almost, there were people of course you didn't know, but you kept running into people you'd, people who you knew in stores like Falk's, like The Mode, C.C. Anderson's and they were all sort of part of an established part of the city. So people that worked for them — Mary Lou Burn's father was named Diamond and he worked at Falk's so there were always these connections.

Jim: You know I've talked to some of the folks that you went to school with and I wanted to go over a couple of things that they said about you, and it's all good stuff don't worry.

Bethine: My friends are generous.

Jim: Well they're generous when it comes to you, I definitely got that. One of the things that they said was that when you came to Boise and Frank was there that regardless of what else was going on, he set his sights on you and never took 'em off.

Bethine: Well you know it was funny, everybody said that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but we were really more like just really best friends. Even after — I was a year older, I had laughed years later and said I helped raise him, but he, he was not affected by my politics because even though his family were Republicans he had changed his own mind in high school and I used to go to the ROTC dances with him even after I was out at BSU I was going with him — even after that all of his friends were still coming on Sunday evening and we would raid the ice box and talk non-stop about the world and the war, all the things that were going to happen.

Jim: Did you feel that as teenagers? Did you feel a connection back then, did it grow, was it just always there? What do you think?

Bethine: It was really always there, it came apart various times. He wrote me, I have all of his letters, they're really wonderful. I keep thinking I should publish them because he was so articulate about being a young soldier at 19 and the China and Burma Theater and he wrote me all through that. We had a small altercation by mail. I remember one year I was out with friends who had been at Ann Arbor and were staying in New York for a summer and we had an altercation by mail and that's the only time we sort of came apart. So when he came home he thought that I was involved with someone else, which I had been, and he, he sort of gave up. Stan Bird says you can't, if that's who you want you've gotta call her and tell her and then we were engaged practically that night.

Jim: You talked about Pearl Harbor and how that changed things. Take me back again to what that was like when you heard that it had been bombed, what that meant to you?

Bethine: Well, you have to understand we were all terrific supporters of Roosevelt. He was my dad's hero and the things he did to put the country back on its feet for my father was just the most important thing. And it isn't like today with the things that we're involved in abroad. We had a feeling that FDR told us not to be afraid, but to be strong and it made us feel good. They didn't say fear everything, they said the only thing to fear was fear itself. So when we heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed we knew that the boys were going to . . . Frank enlisted right away, even though he was going to Stanford. He thought he might have a year, but they pulled him in right away. They were all involved in it, every one of the young men that I talk to. We had one friend that was 4F and he went ahead to do other things to help with the war. But everybody was just, they knew that we wouldn't have life like it had been the, the kind of college careers, the kind of steadiness, the kind of, it just was going to go right then.

Jim: You talked about FDR saying the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but were there times when you were scared?

Bethine: Well, I was frightened for my friends. One of our young friends that we used to Bobby Wardwell who was our only friend that was killed during that time and it was right after the war and he used to fly a fighter plane that he names Clarkie's Kitchen, after the evenings we'd have and they didn't feel good and fortunately he didn't die in that plane. They had rented a plane to go to Northern Japan, he and a friend did and so it, you know . . . I wasn't afraid for me although I was often lonely and if I hadn't read all of Shakespeare that year that I came home from Ann Arbor from graduating from the University of Michigan at night I would, I had all these little collections of Shakespeare that the people who had sold the house to the folks that left and I read through the whole bunch of them. You know there's nothing to feel a spot of loneliness like a really good book.

Jim: You talked about everybody being involved and I get the sense that it truly felt like the whole country was at war?

Bethine: Oh absolutely and they were. Dad Church for example ran a thing where you distributed tires and stuff and things, people really gave up something, lives really, really changed. Well sure our guards had been sacrificing our families of soldiers over there are sacrificing, but every household is not sacrificing like they did then. You ate, my mother for example used to get a little mad at my father because he had never taken sugar in his coffee, but he did then. Of course sugar was rationed so she was very careful cooking everything, you know. There were just, it affected everybody not in, in a huge way except for those who were fighting and dying, but every household had certain things that they did for the war effort. And women, women went back to work in factories that had never worked in anything like that. You know, it changed from a mom and pop and pop brings in the bacon kind of family environment, it changed entirely.

Jim: I've heard there were, there was actually quite a lively scene going on back during the war with dances at Gowen Field and Mountain Home and things like that. Did you?

Bethine: Well I never did that, but I went out with a couple of the soldiers that came into town and didn't have any place to go to have dinner or things like that. I remember telling one that made a slight move on me, I said my parents are asleep in the, in the little room above us, the little, little outdoor bedroom and if I yell they'll hear me. No, it was fun and you know it was.

Jim: You didn't have to go screaming into the night?

Bethine: I didn't. And he almost did, but I didn't.

Jim: Was it fun dating then? I mean there were all these, I mean some of the folks we've talked to talk about the fact that there were always young servicemen coming through?

Bethine: Yep, well actually a number of my friends dated a lot of them — Bev Pratt who lived next door with a singing teacher that we'd always known; she went out with lots of the fellows from Gowen Field. I didn't. I was writing Frank, I was writing Bobby Wardwell, I was writing Carl Burk I, I just had a different sort of kind of life. I did have a friend who was taking his flying lessons that I would see regularly. In fact he gave me his first little wings and he said, Don't ever lose these or I'll crash, and I have them to this day. But you know it, but it was friends and when people who'd come back from serving or getting ready to serve and they'd call on me we would go out, but it, I never had the dating scene that most people did; I just had all these other connections.

Jim: What was, what was Frank up to at that time? I know he was overseas you said . . .

Bethine: Well he was in India, Burma and China. He actually when, when he left and was called into the service he was part of the ASTP program and he was uh he was learning Spanish in an accelerated way uh back in uh I'm not going to be able to think of it, back in the east in this, in a college and Lafayette College and he suddenly they realized that we were not at war with any Spanish speaking country so they stopped the program cold and were just getting ready to ship him overseas. I got ready to leave Ann Arbor and go visit cousins in Washington D.C. so I could say goodbye to Frank and instead his professor said he's too bright just to dump him to the service right now when he's not trained and so they sent him to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, for intelligence training and he was barely 19 years old and he finished that training and though his commander was not thrilled about it sent him on to Fort Benning to take Officer's training because he said that you're just too young, but by the time Frank was 19 he had his First and Second Lieutenant bars and was immediately shipped out to Burma and went into India and took a team over the Burma road he was the only infantryman so when the Chinese got slightly drunk one night they thought they were going to be attacked this small team of and Frank moved them carefully back to the riverbank and then he called under his blanket which was you know one of those army blankets because he found out his gun hadn't been cleaned like it should be and he turned on a flashlight and afterwards, after the scare was all over and everybody came back and everything was fine he looked at this light under this blanket and thought he'd have been the first one shot. So Frank said he, he, he could laugh at himself no matter what happened Frank could laugh and that happened all of the time he was in the Senate, all of our married life which was 36 years, he had cancer early one when my son was very young, but Frank could laugh at things and he could put things in the funniest possible way although he was a terribly serious human being. So it was good and all of our friends were that way, just really good.

Jim: When you read his letters from over there, was it, did you feel like you were part of this grand adventure that he was on?

Bethine: Oh sure because he never, he never other than it was never personal other than Dearest Bethine or Dear Bethine and Love Frosty, because we called him Frosty in those days and um in fact when we started campaigning he said Bethine you can't call me Frosty anymore; you'll have to call me Frank or else nobody will know who you're talking about and I said they'll think I'm mad at you. But that was all in it excepting from the moment he arrived he told me all about India, about the Officer's Club, how very British they were and how snobbish they were about it and how then they finally welcomed him and then he talked about the Chinese children and he wouldn't do any of the things that he was supposed, you know don't eat the food, don't mingle with the local people, he did that all because he said what's the use of my being there if I'm not going to find out what it was really like and so that was the way his letters went and when they had to surrender at Nan King I was there with him, I knew exactly, I knew about the banquet, I knew about the Mayor he met that they went out on the boats and sang because the mayor had been Chinese Mayor had been a graduate of American school, they sang I want a girl just like the girl who married deal old dad. So you know and then when he got to Shanghai and got so frustrated because he was there so long after the war and took troops up to Yang Sea which didn't do any good because they just sold the stuff to the Chinese marching down and you know and the effort over there with the, with the Chinese communist in Shang was just a big laugh and I think it's what made Frank immediately doubt Vietnam. He said you know if the local people don't want it you can't do it and I think we're in that same position today. If the local people don't want it, you can't do it. And if you don't have friends worldwide you cannot, he, he always used to say it's not the might of our arms, it's the might of our ideas and our ideals. So this is the kind and so I was always immersed in it, every letter he wrote was just I waited anxiously to get 'em and wrote him back all the time.

Jim: What was it like to be, to be here, you said you were immersed in it but obviously the news of the day was not always good, everybody was, optimistic, you talked about not being too fearful of things, but what was it like to be here and not know?

Bethine: Well at first I was at Ann Arbor and so involved in getting my, my, my degree that I was just so busy I, I just couldn't and Pop came through on a train and took me back for Christmas one time, but other than that I, I came by train to Ann Arbor and there wasn't any chance to fly and so then I, I was, I was aware of it and, and reading about it and we were all worried and a friend and I went over to sculpture lab the night that Roosevelt died and both of us cried together and I still hear from her regularly and she still remembers that night. But then when I got back to Boise I knew I had to be busy and I had no talent, so I went down to Fritchman's and I sold gifts part of a day and learned to frame pictures and, and the senior Mr. Fritchman was a gem of the old school it was just wonderful and then the, then I went to work for Boise Junior College because they were out of anybody to do anything and the English Department with Mrs. Hatch who everybody speaks well of Mrs. Hatch, gave me the job of setting up their files, you know I've always wondered about that, I didn't know a darn thing about setting up a, a set of files I wondering could they find anything for years after and then they, they ran out of teachers. So I would have to substitute although I didn't have any training in that, I just had my degree. So I'd sit up all night practically at Idaho Street in front of the fireplace learning verbs and adverbs and adjectives I was, I had a great minor degree in English, but I had you talk it's the little things that you don't, if you're going to have to teach 'em you have to know 'em, what are nouns, what are adjectives, what are adverbs and it was fun and lots of the people were coming back from the war going to school so many of them were my age. I can remember a Davidson who was in my class and decided he would put me down and so I said you can, you can put all of this on the Board for us and after that he stopped nagging me.

Jim: Do you ever get flashes, driving around town here, of what it used to be like? Are there things that strike your memory and take you back to that era at all?

Bethine: Probably the most is when I come down Depot Hill toward the Capital and it used to be clear and beautiful, you could see right from Depot Hill right to the Capital and it was just a beautiful vista and so and also when we'd have dates I can remember one time we were coming in from some place or other and Frank was driving, I was with him and Stan Burns was driving ahead of us and he got picked up by a cop and we just left him there and he complained vividly about it, you know and I, when I drive certain streets and they're just full of traffic and I remember being the only, the two of us were practically the only two, two cars on that street.

Jim: Does the music bring back memories?

Bethine: Oh you know I have a friend that was a wife of a Senator and she said Bethine you shouldn't listen to the old songs they'll be the things that make you sad. They are the things that make me the happiest. I love the Paper Moon song from the war, I, I love the music, I love the early when Frank was in college the, the beginning of those wonderful musicals. I each of the musicals going on through and later into my Fair Lady are just the joy of my life. I often just get them on so that I can go back and, and Brigadoon that came out about the time that Frank was in, in college and you know it's just wonderful.

Jim: We were starting to talk about listening to music and how it takes you back when you want to go back, do you like going back?

Bethine: Oh absolutely, you know I have the best memories, you know you can be alive on or dead on your memories. I have such good memories that I'm really happy most of the time. I have a friend who said Bethine how can you be as happy as you are? I said well because I really have terrific memories and terrific friends here now and I worry about my children, my eldest son is a minister in New York and has suddenly been diagnosed with cancer, but I just have to be optimistic about him because Frank and I went through cancer twice, the first time he, he lived and had 36 years, the second time he wasn't that lucky, but I just have this hope that it will all work out that way for Forest.

Jim: You talk about the memories that you have and, and the people that you miss, what, what is it like to, to get to this point in your life and look back on all that's happened and, and know that, that you're one of the one's who's still here with the memories and still thinking of it?

Bethine: Well actually I'm one of the lucky ones, because I loved my dad, I loved my mother, I had a fascinating life, I often think back to for example with the Korean thing that's just happened, I think about spending Thanksgiving on a DNC with Frank with some young Idaho soldiers and so I, I can envision it. I know what it's like to be out there on the edge of North Korea, when I flew into China for the first time in through Taiwan and went out to the islands of Kumoi and Matsu and then heard heard the debate with Kennedy about Kumoi and Matsu I'd been there. Uh it, it's wonderful to think I was, I was the luckiest of all people I had terrific parents, I had a great marriage, in fact it was so good that in Washington they were always trying to find something wrong with it, they fortunately never did, but you know it, it's always been once I was not feeling terribly good and my eldest son said to me did you say to yourself why me? And I said no I've always wondered why not me? And he said well then you're, you're mentally pretty, pretty solid, but, but you know it's easier to be solid if you've had all the breaks. You know I worked hard for 'em, we campaigned during the '76 presidential campaign I campaigned 18 hours a day for about three months and was on the worst airplanes you ever saw and nearly crashed going into to Washington on an Alleghany, don't ever fly Alleghany and then we had a old prop plane that we named the Flying Turtle and all the lights went out just as we were about to land some place in Montana and they came on just in time and we never had any extra money it was a mom and pop operation and the, the all the people who were following us, all the reporters went out one time and bought sandwiches for everybody because they said it was the only campaign that we never had any food on. You know so I, yes I love thinking about it.And the alternative is saying well my, my hip doesn't move very well, and I don't move very well I'll just sit here in my chair and eat bon bons and, and be miserable. But that isn't, that would not make me very happy.

Jim: Well and it seems that some people do that though they, they dwell on the negative and they think about what's wrong with them, they think about death. Are those things you think about?

Bethine: Oh well I've always thought about death because my father was an older father and he was always telling me how he was preparing for mom and myself if he died. And at first it sort of bothered me, but then I got used to it, we organized things, we prepare 'em so I've never had that fear of death, in fact they've, they've finally found out that there's a whole era of people who never ever contemplate the fact that they were going to die and my son's as a minister always says you have to approach life and handle life knowing that one day you'll live, but you live because you're going to die. And that's the way I face it, and maybe I wouldn't be brave, I'm not a really terribly brave person, but if something really bad happened to my health I think I would know. I think probably the only thing that scares me is not dying, but the way some people die. I would hate for example to have a stroke, my dad had a stroke, but he died in two weeks and I think to have a stroke and be on the hands of say my youngest son who lives here would be just dreadful. So there are things like that, but I don't dwell on them because I'm too busy living.

Jim: You talk about how some people get the, the sort of the why me thing you know?

Bethine: Uh huh.

Jim: And some of the people we talked to for instance Vernon Baker who is a Medal of Honor winner from up in North Idaho, said he looks back and thinks why, why am I the one left telling these stories?

Bethine: That's exactly it. You see, I think of Bobby Wardwell and what kind of a life he might have led, I think of Frank who died before he was 60 and how much he had to offer and I think how could I have been left when he had all that talent and could help everybody and every once in a while when I'm so frustrated particularly in these last six years I look at the ceiling and say where are you when I need you, because I just like that clear voice about things that are happening now.

Jim: And yet you have to keep going.

Bethine: Yes.

Jim: Why me, but in a sense it's not something to dwell on.

Bethine: No, no and I have to do it because it makes me I'm not unhappy working on things, I had 90 people in for a pep rally for the Democrats on Monday night because I wanted to, of course that would be Monday night months ago before the election, but nonetheless.

Jim: So by the time this runs we'll know whether the pep rallies really brought enough pep or not.

Bethine: Well yeah we'll yes and it's hard when everybody's in our in this state you don't need to have that on TV, but it is hard. But it is hard pursuing it, I came back and everybody's known what a staunch democrat I am, but, but they still call on me locally to do other things and to support other causes because they know I'm fair about it and I'm really not ever mean to anybody. I'd like to be occasionally, but I'm not.

Jim: Well feel free now if you want to, because you know it's just us. I'm getting off topic here, but what happened to the democrats in Idaho?

Bethine: It never has been a democratic state.

Jim: There were democratic governors.

Bethine: Yeah well I know, but each time it was because of the person often or the person on the other side, like Frank you know when he first ran he was not known, we ran for nine months and Herman Walker was known to be, they thought to be a drunkard, he, he did drink a lot, but it he had a brain tumor and Frank would never campaign against him on that, just on his ideas. But you know you have to have, everything has to fall out just right and the thing that's happened now is they dump so much money in here uh Gary was just telling me as we came they have listed the Larry Grant/Sali Race as one of the one's that the Republicans are going to target. Well they've already targeted to the tune of three to four hundred thousand dollars have come in for him from other from out of you know different groups and you're not supposed to have any connection with those outside groups. I understand now that Risch said on his debate that the NRA was, was doing some independent funds for him, well he shouldn't know that. So every once in a while funny things happen that help you.

Jim: Well politics always keep it interesting.

Bethine: I love it, I just love it.

Jim: Going back to the war. When I say FDR what comes to mind?

Bethine: Oh just a most wonderful person. And I knew Mrs. Roosevelt well because she used to do a lot of the women's things I did after I was early in Washington, but Roosevelt was my hero, he, he, he couldn't move his legs, he had those awful braces they hadn't developed any of the things they have now and so it was a great agony to stand at a podium I knew that, I just knew it and I admired him so much and everything he did when you think that he came from this privileged background and he knew what it was not to be privileged just to me is, is, is my view of public service, it's to know that you've got more than anyone else and that you have to help those who don't have.

Jim: It was really something, it was really something when he would come on the radio and, and speak to you.

Bethine: Oh his radio and do you know my mother who never drank anything in her life and never had anything in the house never ever was put off at all by you know there were always pictures of him with two or three martinis lined up and a cigarette and my mother never mentioned it.

Jim: It's amazing.

Bethine: I know because she was just more impelling than that.

Jim: And there was something about how he spoke about fear, and bringing the country together, he really did sort of wrap a warm blanket around America in those days.

Bethine: He did and, and no matter how bad things looked, for example I really, I've been reading back of that time I didn't realize that, that Churchill actually stayed at the White House almost three months to the point where Eleanor was really furious at him and my funniest story I've ever heard was FDR was so excited about something that was going right one time and as soon as he got up and in his wheelchair he went in to the bedroom where Churchill was staying and just threw open the door and there was Churchill just having crawled out of his shower stark naked and, and the President apologized profusely and Churchill said there is nothing the President of the United States cannot know about, the head of the English Government, it was just wonderful.

Jim: Because apparently that was true after that moment that would be.

Bethine: Yes, but you know there was a, everybody, he had people around him that thought it out the reason I like Doris Kerns Goodman's book is that Lincoln had people who had contested him, people who did not believe as he believed, people who you know they were unexpected to be his main cadre of people that he depended on and it was because he got different advise from them and he listened to them. It's just as different today as you can imagine. No other, no advisors saying you really shouldn't be doing this, everybody spouting the same line. How do you, how do you govern that way?

Jim: Well, and talking about FDR, he actually was in Idaho, he was up at Farragut.

Bethine: Yeah, yeah with my dad. I've got a wonderful picture of them both raving.

Jim: People forget that Farragut was so plugged in to everything that was, now it's a Park and I think forget about the role it played.

Bethine: Yeah oh he went to the Yellowstone Park that's where I first met him and I met him with his wife and then they'd gotten him out of this touring car which was open and they were both dusty and undoubtedly tired and he was standing there you know and they'd locked his brace he was standing there against the car and she was standing by him with this sort of chiffon thing around her head and I'd always heard she was ugly, to me she was just beautiful and, and they treated me like an adult human being and he thanked me for my part and I always remembered it. You know there are people who can reach out and touch anyone from little teeny people to big people and, and make them feel better and both of them could do that. And when he couldn't move she took a lot of flack because she went out and was his eyes and his ears to the soldiers, to the poor, to the black, she did everything for him.

Jim: I wanted to ask you about the internment camps here.

Bethine: Oh yes and, and they were probably the thing that my father you know he and the governor of California and the president they were so sure that, that we were in imminent danger, they had, had those little subs hid up in Washington State and along the coast. They were so sure we were in imminent danger that they just panicked and did this. I . . . my dad never talked much about it because it happened when he was governor and he said some things he probably regretted his whole life through, because everybody was really very awful about it, but I know, I know that his way of making it up was when he was Federal Judge, he never liked anything more than making Japanese Americans citizens and I, the best pictures I have him are with little Japanese children of the parents he'd just made a citizen in his office. So I think it was his way of trying to give back.

Jim: You said he didn't talk about that time much, it was a different time, there's a feeling now I think sometimes people look back at the interment camps and with, with a kind of collective guilt about that.

Bethine: Well you had guilt, but, in that time they didn't because they thought they were protecting the country. And you know we did do dreadful things, thinking we're going to protect the country, look at all of the awful things that are being done now and, and it doesn't always work.

Jim: Knowing your father and again you said he didn't talk about that much, but how do you, what do you think it was like for him to make that decision to say yeah we're going to do this?

Bethine: I just think that he followed Roosevelt, just exactly like uh why can't I think of the, I'm having a senile moment the uh Governor of California who became Chief Justice Warren was Governor then. He did and said exactly the same things my dad did, the same way and therefore about the time that he was going on the federal bench people were remembering that and thinking maybe he shouldn't serve and of course he turned out to be a simply terrific uh Supreme Court Judge.

Jim: What was it like when the war ended?

Bethine: Oh it was just sort of magic. You know everybody felt good. Just everybody felt good and, and of course you know when you think that right now we've been in this thing almost as long as World War II it's fairly scary because there are no good answers, then there was a good answer and it was over.

Jim: And then it was, I think there was a feeling that I mean we wore the white hats in that?

Bethine: Yeah absolutely.

Jim: And so when it ended it was?

Bethine: It ended and it was good and everybody thought so.

Jim: Not everybody was happy with the bombs being dropped though?

Bethine: Oh no, but you know a lot of that was later, but some of it was during that time. But there were never the mass protests and there was never the feeling that, that it's not like now where, where we're all so intimately connected uh by television with it. It, it wasn't you know for example Dresden only became horrible to us years later.

Jim: But, but Frank knew about those bombings and knew what had happened?

Bethine: Oh yeah, he was in China when they dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his mother said it's the wonder of age and he said no it's not mother, we'll have to be careful or the whole world will have them and it will terrify the world and he was what 20?

Jim: What did he think about the thought that was, we had to do it, it was, not that it was great in the sense of the good thing, but that it was, we had to do it, it was great that we did it?

Bethine: Well you have they're exactly, they're every, every viewpoint on this in Idaho is different, there are those who absolutely believe we had to do it, they didn't realize that they were intoxed right then, but they felt like at least the first bomb that it ended the war. The second one people were more iffy about, but in general everybody thought it had to be done and, and now you'll find in your conversations I'm sure people who thought it was just the right thing to do, people who thought it was just the wrong thing to do. I look at it in the perspective that Frank did of it was overkill, with, with something that was already going down. Now Stan Burns would think the other way I think, because we talk occasionally about such things.

Jim: There, there's been a lot of talk, when I hear people talk about World War II and, and I read things about it I think there's tendency for people to paint it with a sort of golden brush of nostalgia that it was this wonderful time and everybody was proud that they were an American, there was all this patriotism is that, is that fair to what it was really like do you think?

Bethine: Oh absolutely I think you know if, if any war is justified and I'm not sure, but this one if there ever was one that was, with the things that were happening in the Holocaust and all of that, if there was ever a justified war this was probably it and basically it was done with everybody's help and everybody's belief. I mean just think of it in comparison with now, or even with Vietnam, I mean just look at it, it was entirely different and there was a golden glow in that everybody felt pretty good about themselves, they'd been attacked and that was the way to respond.

Jim: There's been a lot made out of it being the greatest generation?

Bethine: Sure.

Jim: Agree or disagree?

Bethine: Well oh I agree, I the people I knew then the elders that I knew then were beyond a doubt, here was dad Church who couldn't stand Roosevelt later and had voted for him once and always regretted it and here's my dad that he was hero, but they were so honest about how they felt and they were so straightforward and they were such good Americans you know I you hate to, to waive a flag in front of a generation, but they were. And the people who went out to fight were so terrific and Churchill and, and how the English were hit and were so amazingly brave. You know you put it all together and, and it sort of rubbed off it was as though we were part of England about there being bombed and therefore it was okay to bomb back.

Jim: When you look back and, and think about those days what do you miss?

Bethine: Oh I just miss I miss government honesty, I miss people who serve because they are natural servants, not because of all the money thrown into things. I hate the way politics has become a money-run thing. We ran the whole race for the Senate on about $45,000, and the first seed money we had was because we had about $6,000 in the house that was a $12,000 house and we had paid off six of it and so we sold the house, lived with my pop and mom and ran on it. That can't be done today; you almost have to be a millionaire or be willing to ask everybody for money and, and our the people who represent us have to spend so much time asking for money and so much time running for the next election that serving the people becomes only secondary and I despise it and the fact that little TV clips, instead of half an hour forums in which they really say how they stood. Frank used to do half hours saying exactly how he stood on foreign aid or how he stood on foreign entanglement, or how he stood on agriculture or any of those things. So it, it's just not the way it should be and I worry about it a lot. I worry for the next generation. The one good thing is I think young people are beginning to realize this uh maybe, that's these citizen movements that have started that they're beginning to realize that, that you can give a dollar and be involved and that your dollars all, if there are a lot of them, add up and will help against these big monies. I think the only reason they kept that Foley in is because he was giving so much money to various candidates and he had a sure seat and they could count him as a sure count in this election and that's why they just went like this, see no evil, hear no evil.

Jim: If you were trying to talk to some kids today about what the war years were like and what that era was like . . . Is there any way to say anything you think that conveys what the spirit of the day was like?

Bethine: Well you know I talk to young people all the time. People will call me and say they want to bring a young person over that's really interested in politics and I tell 'em how it was back then and how different and how we respected each other's ideas of what kind of life we were leading then, like it's only a Paper Moon song. Yes it's so easy, but it's easy for me to talk about the past, it's always with me just like the present is.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Elna Grahn was a professor of mathematics at the University of Idaho until she retired in 1969. Grahn was a major in the US Army and worked at the Pentagon after her years in a secret training mission for woman who learned to operate anti-aircraft artillery. She lived in Moscow until her passing in late 2006 at the age of 92.

Jim: What years were you in the service?

Elna: I was in the service from '42 to '46, regular or active service and then I was in the reserve for (inaudible) years.

Jim: Then you were in the WAC, is that what you were in?

Elna: Yes I was in the WAC.

Jim: The whole time?

Elna: Well it, it . . .

Jim: You were active?

Elna: Well it was was all the same, it was WAAC originally from uh '42 until '43.

Jim: Okay.

Elna: And then the second A was knocked out of it.

Jim: Oh, okay.

Elna: And then it was.

Jim: Good, the one other thing I want to talk about was you were in a sort of secret experiment, weren't you?

Elna: Yes I was.

Jim: Tell me about that.

Elna: Um along in January of '42 General Marshall was in Europe and observed the ads in England the women in the service working in anti-aircraft and he wanted to try it in the United States, so that was the source of it, but it was also very secret, I didn't know he was behind it until way later, yet the Officers under me knew Colonel Havee had mentioned it to them, but everyone assumed I knew, I didn't.

Jim: So now what did they actually train you to do?

Elna: Uh what we actually were to determine if WAC could be trained in fire control aspects of anti-aircraft batteries.

Jim: And was that?

Elna: They wouldn't be on the guns, but they would be like in an airplane for tracking a plane for tracking a plane, you would be tracking and the thing we found out after only a couple of months training was that the women were better than men in the process and we couldn't figure out why because they were trained by the men, but we by observation uh by some Officers from New York we found that whereas the men would over (inaudible) and come back under (inaudible) and zero in on the target, the women seemed to sense that they were getting on target and would just creep up and stop dead on target and we found that out when uh General Jarman who commanded the Eastern Defense Command uh for anti-aircraft was down with his staff to inspect and I was the head of the experiment, I was standing next to his G-3 and I noticed in the uh trial as soon as the officer in charge said on target he started his stopwatch and then when she said on target then he stopped it. I get, did I say in range, it was in range that's when they uh were on target and uh so he stopped his watch and then he said impossible, I said what's impossible sir? And he said they just equaled the time of the best battery in the Eastern Defense Command and I think he suspected that one of the Officers was fudging a bit when she called out on target or something that's why and so he went over breathed down her neck both her and another test and they did it again and they did it again so then he believed it and uh found out the nature of it and that was it, but that was a, we fired down at uh Bethany Beach in (inaudible) and uh did very well down there. Our battery never had an official designation, we were referred to as Batteryettes we had to have something to talk about so we'd know what was being talked about and so we called 'em Batteryettes, but officially it never was on paper.

Jim: Why was it so secret?

Elna: It was so secret because we were WAAC's, Civilians in Uniform and there was a certain amount of antagonism to having women in anything that might be associated with combat. So that's why it was top secret, in fact it wasn't declassified until '68. 01 58 42 28

Jim: I saw that, that's amazing, I mean over more than, almost 25 years.

Elna: Yeah the uh it was successful in late May it was ruled successful and it was near that month that the bill was passed President Roosevelt was (inaudible), the bill was passed that cut out the auxiliary and it became (inaudible) corp. . . . But it was just this plain general antagonism because the idea of women in combat.

Jim: Did that make you mad?

Elna: It didn't make us mad, but it was as far as recruiting or anything they figured it was important.

Jim: Was the plan that sometime you might go into combat, or why did they want to train you?

Elna: It the training was in case the United States was attacked by air. There was no thought of the combat.

Jim: So it was in case the planes started coming over to the homelands?

Elna: No we uh in our trials we actually shot down the targets, but they were just (inaudible) out about 40 yards or so behind the plane and we didn't know that the little planes that were flying were flown by women, but we didn't know it.

Jim: Was that exciting, I mean to be a part of something that was secret and you're using guns and, my goodness!

Elna: Yes it uh we really were famous to keeping our mouths shut, uh and I know one time I was on a plane going home on leave and I was in the dining car and there were two civilians at the table and there was a young anti-aircraft officer from one of the men's units and the uh the 45's weren't involved in the experiment, uh and so there was nothing about that because uh with the 45s see how should I put it, um those batteries were ones that had the (inaudible) on one tower and the fire control on another and the two crews had to be interchangeable and therefore we could not have women on the gun part of the crew, so he was in that part of it uh the uh oh I can't remember the numbers of the . . . of the airplanes now, but uh because they could not be interchangeable he just knew there was an experiment, he did not know the exact nature of it, but he kept prodding to get more information out of me and I knew I couldn't give it, and finally I got up and left the table in the diner before I completed my dinner.

Jim: Wow, wow. How did you end up joining up in the first place?

Elna: I was teaching at a Junior College in Iowa, I was teaching mathematics and Fort Des Moines was to be the training grounds for the uh WAAC and so there was probably more in the Des Moines paper than any other about it. So I read about it and I got thinking teachers (inaudible) are going in a (inaudible) at that time and my dad could not be in the service because he was a train dispatcher and he was needed for railroad transportation work that was important uh for that reason and uh my brother was a diabetic so he was deferred and my sister was the arty type, she wouldn't have been interested in it and uh my grandfather dad's dad had served in the Civil War and somehow I just had the notion that someone in the family should be there and knowing about it, it rather enticed me with a mathematical background (inaudible).

Jim: Interesting. So when you went to join were was anybody surprised, I mean were people used to seeing women coming in and and saying that they wanted to join up?

Elna: Oh there were lots of people putting in for it, uh the idea originally was I think that something like only a 1,000 women would be taken in originally, but the caliber of the women applying for OCS was such that they raised the amount that they took in. They were only going to take one class of four companies I think it was, which would've been about a 1,000 women, but they took actually about seven classes.

Jim: Oh wow.

Elna: But they weren't as large, but uh, uh my class was 400 about and that was just the one class.

Jim: Other people we've talked to have talked about the effect that the bombing in Pearl Harbor had; when that happened it seemed like people were really motivated to go into the service and do that.

Elna: That was a factor right at the beginning that was important, but I think it was beginning to taper off.

Jim: What was it like when you heard about Pearl Harbor getting bombed?

Elna: Well I remember where I was, I was on a davenport watching an opera on TV and it was about 1:00 or so it came over the line in Iowa, it was just kind of an Oh you know thing that were quite surprised by it and uh it changed things rather drastically right from the beginning. Uh I remember Jerry Ryan an English Instructor was called in, he was a Reservist, he was called in so we had to add a class to the day and we actually had a 7:00 class in the morning and a 4:00 class in the afternoon to cover.

Jim: Wow.

Elna: Because I think someone else was to or an assistant and I remember on in January at a basketball game at the Junior College someone came and gave a note to the Coach just before half and one of the players was not suited up the second half, because they were calling them in very quickly and, but uh it was all very, very top secret and one thing for sometime we didn't wear uniforms because there weren't sufficient (inaudible).

Jim: Right, sure, I can imagine that. Pearl Harbor, we were talking about that and how it really changed things. What was the spirit in America like at that time?

Elna: That we had to retaliate I'd say, that was my impression, know I understood that in some places that was not the case, they were more reluctant, but uh in many places it they were all gung ho.

Jim: People have talked about the book that Tom Brokaw wrote about the Greatest Generation and things like that. Do you feel like it was the greatest generation?

Elna: In a sense yes. I think there was a, a national spirit there that there hasn't been in sometimes later conflicts (inaudible) on uh Chief Officer's side, but uh for example I think I would not have gone in (inaudible), I don't know since it didn't actually come up for me to consider it, but I just have a hunch I wouldn't have been for it.

Jim: You were trained with the guns and the firing and doing all that stuff; is there any part of you that wishes you had gotten to use that in for real?

Elna: No, because we knew we'd do it if we had to, so there wasn't any necessity, the, the States weren't fired upon by anti-aircraft and that was the idea originally just for protection was the, the, the States.

Jim: People who are watching this I think might have a hard time realizing that in the United States at that time a lot of people were truly worried that we were going to be attacked.

Elna: Yes they were and we were ready for that, uh steps were taken to maintain secrecy as far as the women were concerned and naturally it covered some of the men's units too anything to protect them from counter attack on the we had some British Officers that injected us because they had the units in Britain where other than that I don't recall ever having any foreign officers involved in any way and we had uh well I can think of two or three in particular.

Jim: Back in the 40s obviously everybody was aware of the fact that the war was going on; I think there was that feeling that it was the kind of war that everybody was fighting even if you were at home. What was the feeling like at home? It seems like people really felt that they were fighting this war also or am I wrong about that?

Elna: No I think that's the way we feel. It uh I don't think there was doubt in our minds that we were being used or anything like that, we were doing what we could do such as working on the fire control and the experiment and uh then later I had most of the, practically all of the WAACs that works in the Pentagon under me and we had very strict uh laws about them, and what they could say and couldn't say.

Jim: This wasn't something that you just did for a little while and then left; I mean it wasn't like somebody who just pitched in for a couple years during the war; this was, this was a big part of your life?

Elna: Yeah the uh when uh the experiment was ending in May of '43 uh there was women who were assigned in various other places and uh at the time during that experiment there was a WAACs I don't know how much of this should be written, there was a WAAC Staff Director for the Military District of Washington and she was on a trip to England with Colonel Havee she was Deputy Director on the WAAC and uh had shall we say a personal family background on the (inaudible) and she got the flu while she was England and our troops were coming in on the 8th of January and we had to get camps ready for them to receive them and assign them and she wasn't back the Friday before so as (inaudible) experiment and with the advise of the other officers we assigned which officers would command at which installations in terms of who could best service the SEAL and that kind of thing and she got back on a Tuesday from her tour and found the orders assigning these people which was her prerogative so I was out inspecting for her (inaudible) so I had gone directly home and I got a call that I was to see her at 8:30 the next morning so I went I think its written up in the book and I went to the office about 8:00 in the morning and Colonel Havee came or not Colonel Havee, Colonel uh what was his, I've heard it, his picture is there.

Jim: That's fine, yeah.

Elna: Yeah and anyway he was came in the office early about 8:00 which is unusual because he usually stopped at places along the line coming in and he said to me I understand you have an appointment with this Officer at 8:30 this morning. I said yes I do. He said then (inaudible) remember two things one think twice before you say anything and second no matter what you say General Lewis and I will back you 100%. So that was kind of odd advise I thought, but I went down and saluted and reported she didn't tell me to stand at ease, so I stood at attention for it all and uh I uh she, she accused me of Usurping her authority and so she was had an appointment with Colonel Havee at 10:30 to request that I be dismissed from the service for insubordination and uh I had my notes with me and told her the basis on which we had assigned each officer to the job she was to hold, but she just kept saying you Usurped my authority. So finally she excused me and I went back to my office and I think I just plain set down stared into space and uh couldn't help thinking of the fact that my folks hadn't seen me in uniform yet and things like that because this was just in December and uh Colonel Kimberly that was his name, came in again and sat down on the edge of my desk and I really didn't see him at first I was just kind of away and he said damn you, you forgot what I said. And I just looked kind of blank, he said she didn't go out to get your head chopped off, she went out to get her own head chopped off. It seems that the afternoon before, Tuesday afternoon when she'd read this news of it she turned down to his office and stood there and shook her finger under his nose and as she put it she backed me up to the radiator, its not often I've been on the hot seat and uh so anyway he said it was all okay I was still in the job and he said uh well get your hat and coat on and go out on your inspection as you planned today. So I did and as I went down the hall I met General Lewis who commanded the military district of Washington and she had been the WAAC Staff Director for his command and he stood at (inaudible) I want to apologize to you. Apologize sir? He said yes for what you went through this morning and he turned and walked away, so.

Jim: Wow.

Elna: That was one reason I always liked General Lewis, that I learned more from him than anyone else in the Service.

Jim: Oh I can imagine.

Elna: He uh he was a person that never said do so and so, he was the Commanding General for all of Washington, D.C., but he never said do it, he always said what do you propose?

Jim: Interesting.

Elna: And then when you gave him some of your ideas of how you'd solve we had so many problems to solve and when you told him how you thought you might go about solving the problem he uh fix on it somehow, but uh I know one time uh we later found that (inaudible) was against the rules and yet previous officers weren't (inaudible) of the log outfits in the war department to skip KP they were so busy they just couldn't have their people on and so gradually found that KP was and on a Monday afternoon I was discussing it with Captain Keffer who had replaced Thomas and uh we were talking about how we could lick the problem and General Lewis was leaving and he stuck his head in the door, said what's wrong now? And sometimes it wasn't that, but what's wrong with you or what's next on your litany, I was always (inaudible) something and uh so I told him and he said well don't be silly he said you know the war department, I had said we take them all and put 'em on a rotating basis, we take 'em all up through Staff Sergeant, he said don't be silly you know the war department, they'll promote 'em all to Master Sergeant and uh so I said well then we'll taken 'em all. He said you may have a point. That was Monday afternoon 5:00, Tuesday afternoon I got a call from Captain Keffer I was on his staff, she said you may be interested to know General Lewis willing to work with General (inaudible) today he was a Assist Troop Commander its okay with him to take them all.

Jim: Wow.

Elna: And she said he's going to ride to work with General Marshall tomorrow and Wednesday night I got a call from her that it was okay with General Lewis and that the next day I would have a letter from the, from the Deputy Chief of Staff. I think it was about the second, first or second person or personnel anyway. . . . And so that was what was okay by General Marshall and Friday morning I remember it was St. Patrick's Day so my Irish was, the Chaplain came and told me that four (inaudible) from the Air Force WAACs were going AWOL Saturday night and I asked, they had been enlisted with the idea that they would be in the Air Force, but somebody hadn't bothered to make out the papers to implement it, so they'd been sent where they were needed the most which was War Department and yet they didn't have the uh the help or the qualifications that they actually needed.

Jim: Right.

Elna: So uh they were the ones going AWOL so I had this letter from the Deputy Chief of Staff, I went down to the vessel and knew they were on duty, had 'em set down, told them that as of the 1st of April that KP, permanent KP would be over with and one of these Air Force (inaudible) said just another promise to be broken. And I, I (inaudible) and I said before you pull KP on the first of April I'll pull it myself, but I didn't pull it.

Jim: What was the general sort of feeling toward women in the service at that time; were people very accepting of that or not?

Elna: Some very much resented this business of being on KP, they didn't have quite the call for (inaudible) so there was a certain amount of resentment on so you could understand the way they felt.

Jim: Sure. How did the men react to having women learning all the . . .

Elna: Some men resented 'em because they felt, because they were there they'd be going overseas so that was one type. . . . So some of the men definitely resented the women because they felt they were taking certain desk jobs, KP and items of that sort which kept them from staying in the states, that they'd get asked to go overseas whereas the women weren't to be in combat.

Jim: When you tell people that you served, do you feel nostalgic about that time? I mean is it something that you were?

Elna: What came up?

Jim: When you talk to people about that that time period during the war and during those years, is it something that you feel warmly about or, or how do you look back on it?

Elna: I don't think I was home enough other than just strictly family and they were interested in other things.

Jim: Right. What about looking back now, how do you think about it?

Elna: I don't think they felt so much about it, because now they're in a lot of that. So it's not a question now. . . . There are relatively few that I still keep in touch with. A lot of 'em are dead (inaudible). So uh but uh they didn't resent it or think, they were quite willing to go, they didn't some of the men may have resented them, but I don't know.

Jim: When, when you think about those times now was that um, was that to you uh you know when you look about it, look at it and think back I mean we're talking it was almost 60 years ago that was, that was going on. Um do you remember that as being?

Elna: That was over 50.

Jim: Over 50, yeah almost 60 years ago.

Elna: Yeah.

Jim: Do you remember that being was that a happy time for you?

Elna: It was for me, I didn't feel any resentment or anything, uh once in a while there were a little hardships of one sort, like getting something you needed, but that was true for everybody. I had, I always felt we had a job to do and we had to do it. I think our feeling was we knew what we were getting into when we did it. It's strange the way I think feelings changed later, quite a bit, but uh I don't think people resented it too much except some of those that had cushy jobs and then couldn't keep them.

Jim: In looking at some of the information about you and your late husband, he's buried at Arlington, is that correct?

Elna: No.

Jim: He's not.

Elna: No he, I don't know now how much you should put in about this.

Jim: Okay.

Elna: Um he was militant and knowing he was about four years old he had polio and was paralyzed and he made transitions switches like he'd write saw for a was, things of that sort so later after we were married and he'd be writing recommendations for some student he'd have me write it out from his manuscript and correct the spelling, because his secretary would write it down, would type it the way it was written and uh that was one way we handled that situation and then um he was doing grad work, (inaudible) grad work here at Idaho and some fellow was drafted and apparently Ed would start talking about it and then he'd clam up so I never got the, quite the whole story, but I just had a feeling that this fellow kept egging him on that he'd somehow avoided the draft and was deferred and anyway Ed uh volunteered and because of his thing he was sent to basic and they said, said he should be in OCS so they sent him to OCS, but at first, one time when he marched troops with his reversal business he marched 'em into a wall for (inaudible) of OCS.

Jim: Oh my.

Elna: But he insisted on staying in and the only thing he could be in was the medics and he was with a station hospital in (inaudible) Germany was one place I know. But (inaudible) close another, but uh he stayed in as long as we needed him.

Jim: Oh.

Elna: So uh there was that about him that he had a different feeling than some of the others did, but uh he uh he never seemed to think that he was over the line in doing that, he just was showing his Swedish temper.

Jim: When you um when I don't, I don't want to take up a lot of your time, we've already taken up a lot today so I'd like to stay here forever with you, but um the um with girls today that think of, I mean there's so many more opportunities for them in the military and in life in the world, um but do you have any, any advise you think that you could give to those young girls that are thinking about doing something, with all that you've done and all the women that were under your command and all of that?

Elna: I'd say get all the information you can about the type of duty you might be assigned for to and see if it's within your ambitions for yourself. You probably have some ambitions of where you want to go in life and check out and see if the same thing is true going in to any profession.

Jim: But I think, I think a lot of women would you look at you as kind of a pioneer with what you did.

Elna: Oh I don't think I was. I just did something that came along and I felt I could do it and I did it.

Jim: Well that's wonderful.

Elna: I felt it was within my, my possibilities, I'd been teaching math in high school and in Junior College and I had well most of my work towards a Masters completed so I didn't think anything of it, but uh the thing I when General Lewis I think he judged me, I don't know how much chance he had to judge me when I first took over the anti-aircraft experiment, but from then on anytime it came up he'd step up for me. I know that and at first before I was assigned to the experiment, see I had a math background and that was needed for anti-aircraft so that was one thing in my favor and the other girl that was being considered had more the um statistical rather than the theoretical side of mathematics, but uh I, my first assignment in Washington when I was sent there was in the schools division of the training division and there they had staff coming from all sorts of colleges wanting training division to get ready for using my work and it was significant he always brought it just to me and it turned out later that he had been assigned to check on me to see if I was capable of doing it.

Jim: Well like I said I don't want to take up your whole afternoon and evening, but I appreciate all the time you've spent with us.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Richard Hagerman makes his home in Wendell and served overseas in France during World War II. He has gained national notoriety for his letters to his wife during the war, some of which were published in Smithsonian Magazine.

Jim: I do want to ask you right off the bat about Pearl Harbor, about where you were when you heard about that.

Richard: I was in high school economics class.

Jim: And what was that like when you got the news?

Richard: Well, we heard it on the radio, and it really didn't register that deeply because we were still kids and we weren't involved as far as thinking about joining as yet, I think I was a junior in High School and that was about it.

Jim: What was the reaction from people?

Richard: I don't remember that there was any real exciting specifics, it's just that it happened uh the war was on and the only thing we had was a lot of rationing, but that had been going on before so I don't remember any real ear shattering moments to tell you about.

Jim: You talked about the fact that when you heard the news about Pearl Harbor you were still kids and so it didn't really register, but it wasn't too long after that, that you went from being a kid to...

Richard: Two years.

Jim: That's not real long.

Richard: No, it's not, and things build up as you went on, but you know as a high school kid you weren't real ready to jump into a lot of the world doings and uh so you don't think that much about it. You've got your sports, you've got your friends, you've got band, I mean you're doing a lot of other things and it hasn't touched until your family. I, I was an only child, my dad had died a couple of years before and so really home was kind of where I was.

Jim: What was it like to step from that into the service?

Richard: Well my first day in the service I was on KP and I, I wrote a letter and told my girlfriend that I must be a real soldier because I'm on KP. So I was awakened at 4:00 in the morning and worked until 8:00 at night and uh getting into the service I walked into the whatever center it was, stripped off all my clothes, walked into the next room they started throwing stuff at me, had me put it on as I walked along, got to the end and then they gave me a pair of shoes because I had my backpack and everything and they wanted to make sure the shoes fitted.

Jim: You were drafted?

Richard: I was drafted.

Jim: Some people talk about that feeling that you know they wanted to do something and pitch in, did you have that?

Richard: No, I didn't have that feeling so much. I was in the pre-medical study and I figured that doctors were as necessary as soldiers and so I didn't really get ready to jump in, but when the time came I know my mother was pretty excited because I was an only child. I was all she had, and she really wasn't too excited about my going to war because my dad had been in the service in World War I. So I guess I just figured it was something that had to happen, and uh I guess when the Lord decides what's going to happen you do as he lead you.

Jim: You know you talked about, it was sort of what you did, it wasn't this monumental thing, it was just what you did and there's been a lot made lately of this, the idea of this being the Greatest Generation. Do you buy that?

Richard: I think Tom Brokaw really stretched things. It was a great time and there's no question of what the nation was held together and excuse me, but there wasn't the media to make the people like the Hezbollah and the other enemies such great people who were being tortured by the United States. It was a case of going in and cleaning up the mess that was there and so we accepted that.

Jim: Did you have a feeling that . . . you mention the war now and, and I don't want to get too deeply in the war in Iraq, but at the same time it's hard sometimes not to think about some of those parallels. Did you feel kind of the white hats versus the black hats back then?

Richard: Oh yeah, yeah and the only, the only thing that happened when we left, I mean as far as the nation not being behind us and this was a joke, but when we got on the boat to head overseas the band was playing "Somebody else is taking your place." And I don't know what that was supposed to be because feel, but . . .

Jim: I know how it would make me feel.

Richard: Well of course I'm still a Lawrence Welk fan and we listen to him every Saturday night because it's the music that I was sort of brought up with and it's the music that for me is, is relaxing rather than disturbing. I have trouble handling some of the modern music because it's so noisy and so loud and it just creates a tension within me rather than a relaxation.

Jim: Were there songs that you remember back from those days?

Richard: Oh my, no. I, if I heard 'em I would, when I was Welk I remember 'em I can see 'em, but uh for me to remember some of those that I'd have to have some help.

Jim: It seems that sometimes we talk about the music and some of the things people are going through, it seems that at times it's very easy to sort of paint that whole era with a sort of golden brush, like this was just this sort of wonderful time when everyone was having you know listening to music and going to wonderful movies and there Bing Crosby and Deanna Durbin and all these people that you know that there was this sort of golden time. Do you think that's fair? I think sometimes it makes it sound a little too simple, or was it?

Richard: Well I, I think as far as I'm concerned I think it's fair, but I also think that there was a lot of sacrifice that went along at that same time and the sacrifice was not something that everybody felt, you know, "Man I'm doing this thing for my nation." I mean it was just something that as a member of the United States of America you did these things.

Jim: You talk about sacrifice . . . when did you start to feel, you talk about being in high school, you were going into medicine, you went and got your boots and all this stuff and you're doing KP and you're thinking about all that . . . when did you start to feel that you were sacrificing something for what was going on?

Richard: I didn't feel that way until after the war was over and we had to wait for points in order to get back home.

Jim: What does that mean?

Richard: That means that if you had been in, overseas, for a certain number of years you got so many points; if you had been in combat you got so many points; if you had kids back home you got so many points; and you had to have a certain number of points before you'd get in line to go back home. I was at a point where it took me about I think I don't know four or five months after the war to get enough points to get on a ship to come back home. Then that's when I was, was bothered I spent my time actually seeing things around there and there was an American University that was set up by the services that I went to for a couple of months so I could get some more credit when I got back home to college. We could take trips. I went down to Nice and saw what the French Riviera was like, and I enjoyed that part of it, but I still I was, I wanted to get home and I don't know that I cried, but I screamed you know why don't they do this faster, but up to that point it was just a case of getting a job done and not complaining about how you could help.

Jim: Why'd you want to get home so badly?

Richard: Well, I had a girlfriend back there that I wanted to get back to, I wanted to get back to school, I'd always every since the 8th grade I'd planned on getting into one of the medical practices and so I wanted to get back to get to school so I could finish that. In fact, I was taking correspondence courses during that time also in order to pick up more credit so that I could get through faster, so I could get in to helping people. As far as actually . . . at that time I thought medicine, I, I changed it into dentistry, but uh.

Jim: That's still medicine.

Richard: Yeah it is.

Jim: My grandfather was a dentist, and my Grandmother always used to get upset when people would make a comment like he wasn't a doctor.

Richard: How come you're not, yeah a doctor. Well I'll tell you I, the one thing about dentistry is you're getting me off on the subject. One of the things dentists do is to create smiles for people, and I think one of the greatest things a person can present to anybody else is a smile and I just feel that I did that for people and uh as a result that was a part of my uh doing. My other part that I think can bring smiles to people if they so desire and that is that I believe that Jesus Christ is my savior and by believing that I've got all kinds of things to look forward to. Man, it's exciting so I can smile when I've got problems, I can smile when I haven't got problems, and I can think about smiling another later on.

Jim: They always talk about how there are no atheists in foxholes.

Richard: Yeah, I've heard that. Now I'm not sure, I would think, I wasn't in foxholes, I was close enough to draw combat pay, the artillery shells could go over the top of me, but the rifles couldn't reach me, but I still was what in a combat zone. So I didn't get into the, the foxholes, but I can believe that something like that would scare you into believing, I don't want to go to hell I've got it right here.

Jim: When you were over there, was your faith a big part of your life then or was this something new?

Richard: Yes. Yeah in fact the night that I was to leave England for Europe we were lined up waiting to get on a boat and then we were told, "No, that boat's saved for somebody else." I guess that they needed that on the front better more than us, so we were turned around put back in the barracks for the night. The next day we did get on a boat, going across the channel. It was Christmas day and we had C-Rationed Turkey, C-Ration you know is a cans, and I was complaining and then I heard about what happened to the ship that we were supposed to have gotten on the night before, it had hit a mine in the channel and about nine guys had died and I don't know how many get wet. So I thought, "Well, hey you know ,maybe somebody's looking out for me." Got into Europe, we did a night jog to get where we wanted to go and that's where you're traveling with a little tiny lights and all this sort of stuff. The German's have they, well we called it the Bed Check Charlie, it was a pursuit plane that came over every night just about bedtime, and if there were any lights it shot 'em up. It went over us, we heard it shoot up a convey behind us and I thought, "You know, the Lord's got a message here for me, maybe I better say thanks and, and plan on serving him as I can." So that's, that was part of my build up as far as my faith is concerned.

Jim: It sounds like knowing a little bit about what you went through over there that, that something else it must've been on your mind was that girlfriend.

Richard: Well of course. That's why, let's see, I wrote a letter about every day and that's why you see those two boxes of letters, she saved 'em all.

Jim: What did setting down to write those mean to you?

Richard: Well, it was a case of telling her that I was thinking about her, that I was planning to make a life with her and that I was hoping that she was doing the same thing. And I figured you know she was in college. At the college there were about 5,000 red hot air cadets, you know, I thought, "Man, she's got to fight those guys as well and keep me in mind." So I thought, "Well maybe if I can write enough good stuff she'll read that instead of paying attention to them."

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Genevieve McLaughlin Ison grew up in Pocatello and served with the WAVES. She worked on flights bringing soldiers, and often the wounded, back to their homes in the United States from the fighting overseas.

Jim: Tell me about where you grew up. You said you grew up where?

Genevieve: Grew up in Pocatello, grown and reared in Pocatello. In fact, I'd gone away to business college and it was still Pocatello, little town of Pocatello, and I was gone for three months, four months something like that. In the meantime, when I came back they had built the Pocatello Air Base and the town has never been the same. It was just climbing, swarming with the cutest little Army guys you've ever seen. Oh, I was so busy. Anyway, and I had so many of my dear friends of the guys I've dated, they end up working down overseas and were killed so I just decided that I got mad and I decided I had to -

So my dad, who's a very conservative Irishman, had a sporting good store and I told him I thought I was going to join the service and he nearly blew his top. "Good girls do not go into the service." He was, you know papas in those days, they were the boss of the house, so I had to outfox him. I went down to his store when it was full of his fishing buddies and everything, with the Navy chief and said I'd like to join and I remember the Chief said to my dad, "Oh, Mr. McLaughlin, don't worry she'll have a good time," and my dad grabbed the form and he grabbed the pencil and he says, "I hope she's miserable," and he signs his name, threw the pen down, and I was in the Navy and then I couldn't get out.

Jim: And for how long were you in?

Genevieve: I was in from January until the fall, for a year and a half.

Jim: What years?

Genevieve: God, you know I lie about my age so much I have to stop and figure out when it was. When was the war over?

Jim: Forty-six.

Genevieve: Forty-six. Okay then, I went in '45, '46 until June of '47.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about what you talked about, Pocatello, how you went, what was it like back in the '40s, I guess pre war.

Genevieve: Very quiet, very, very quiet. As I say, my dad had a sporting goods store and I got out of high school and went to business college. When I came back the town had completely changed and I got my first job on the railroad which was just marvelous. I had the best office in the Depot downtown. Of course it's closed now, which just breaks my heart when I go there, but we had just such a lovely office and a marvelous boss. I worked for Division Engineering. Troop trains would come through and whenever they did, all us gals, we'd walk out on the balcony and watch all these cute guys and they'd whistle at us and we'd whistle back at them and then after the train left we'd go back to work.

Jim: Now, I was thinking this was going to be another one of these, "Ah, shucks, I was just a small town girl from Pocatello and I was far too demure to ever whistle at any of these."

Genevieve: Oh God, I had a ball. I didn't miss a dance. My father, after he got over the shock and to realize that I could still be a good girl even if - I went to all of the dances at Memorial Hall and they had a bus that went out to the air base. I had one girlfriend that he approved of, one he didn't like, but one he approved of. And if I'd go with Alice I could get away with almost anything. Of course, I didn't drive. Kids didn't drive like they do now and we'd catch the bus and go out and dance out there. Then one contingent would be sent overseas and some new guys would move in and back to the drawing board.

Jim: Everybody I talk to about the '40s looks back and they get this sort of wistful nostalgic look in their eye like it was just this -

Genevieve: I'm not wistful. I'm a depression child. It was not a wistful time for me. My father had a sporting goods store, there were four children in the family and it was a struggle. The air base being built in Pocatello really relieved a lot of our financial anxieties and then, as I say, I got a job at the railroad. My sister, my older sister, was teaching school for eighty bucks a month and I got a job as a messenger at the railroad for $125. She was so mad at me because she had gone to school for two years at Airmo. and here she was teaching for eighty dollars and I got this great job. That was the hardest thing about going to the service was to leave, and by then I'd worked my way up as a secretary and I was making a hundred eighty bucks a month. Hog heaven! Boy, I couldn't get to the stores fast enough on payday and so it was hard to leave that. It really was, it was hard to leave that money. But as I say, it was an emotional decision. I had so many friends who had been killed and I just thought -

Jim: Gonna go get 'em?

Genevieve: Yeah.

Jim: Well, it's interesting that you say that it was hard times because I think there's a tendency sometimes for people to talk about the war years, and not just during the war, but the time leading up to the war, and through the war, that it was this sort of wonderful time painted in golden light and it -

Genevieve: Oh, it was.

Jim: But you hear that, don't you?

Genevieve: When I think of my very early years before the depression, I think of painted in light, for some reason. Isn't it funny? My memories all seem bright with sunshine, playing in the front yard, out in the street because there wasn't enough traffic or anything. But then after the depression hit, my dad - and he had a fairly successful store in Pocatello and then he lost everything and had to start all over again - and from then on, my memories are gray. I can't and I wouldn't think of it except you mentioned sunlight and there was just no sunlight until when I came back from business school and got my job. And by then the air base had been built and the town, when I came back, was just completely changed. You couldn't get into a restaurant, lined up to go into the Chief Theater or the Orpheum or whatever and it was very exciting.

Jim: I'm taking notes as we're talking just because one of the things I want to do is try to find pictures of some of these places. The old depot is still there isn't it?

Genevieve: The old depot's still there. The last time I saw it though it'd had been abandoned. I went up to my old office.

Jim: Yeah, it's just kind of boarded up.

Genevieve: Oh, it just broke my heart because that was such a lovely place.

Jim: What was the feel of the town when you walked around and saw people?

Genevieve: Camaraderie, camaraderie. As I said, my dad had a sporting goods store and he was also on the council at Fort Hall so he was quite an active sportsman and well respected in Pocatello. We weren't very well off, but my dad was highly respected and everybody in town would come in to Ben McLaughlin's Sporting Goods Store and shoot the bull and then there was always somebody in there. I knew everyone in town of course because everybody had been in dad's store. We kids worked in my dad's store from the time we could look over the top of the counter and help one for sale of licenses or whatever or watch the store when dad had to do an errand and so everybody knew us, Ben McLaughlin's kids. So we had to toe the line because if it got back to dad we'd be in big trouble.

Jim: First of all, what'd you do for fun though? You talked about the dances, but what did you do for fun?

Genevieve: Well, I mentioned about playing in the streets. Every neighborhood had a vacant lot and you played marbles or jacks or ran and I was the fastest runner in the neighborhood so I always got to play in all the games. And when we had the money we went to a movie once a week and as I said we helped my dad at the store and my mother worked at the store too. There were three of us and we had a kid brother, three girls and a kid brother, and we took care of him and helped keep up the house when mother was at the store and -

Jim: What was it like, dating in those days? You talked about all these servicemen coming through and all that stuff, but what was that like? You make it sound like a feeding frenzy.

Genevieve: It was for me because I had never dated anybody. I never had a date in high school or anything. I was very shy and when I came back I sort of blossomed and went to the dances, went to movies. Of course my father was a very strict Irishman family man, we were a tight family. Although I dated and I enjoyed it and everything, I was always a good girl. I never went further than I think a few of the girls did. I wouldn't have had the nerve. If my father would've found out I would have been thrashed for good.

Jim: What was it like? You talked about how the servicemen would come through and it was obviously a lot of fun. And at the same time it must've been tinged with a certain something because they were headed off to war.

Genevieve: They were going, yeah. Very emotional all the time. I met quite a few of the guys in my dad's store. In fact, my early first love was somebody that came into my dad's store to find out about fishing and then when he was killed, that kind of threw me for a loop for a long time. And that was another reason why I decided to join the service, that I was going to go do something.

Jim: Obviously we have a war that's going on now, but virtually everybody I've talked to who's of a certain age from the World War II era talked about that. They knew people that went over, they dated people that went over, almost everybody you know either knew, went out with, dated, was in love with somebody who went over and didn't come back.

Genevieve: And didn't come back. There were other boys, other guys later on that I went with and -

Jim: But it was typical, I mean.

Genevieve: Finally, I got so superstitious I wouldn't date anyone. I said no, not going to go with anybody whether they went to the South Pacific or England. And of course Pocatello was a bombing - you know B24s and later on B17s - and they were there, the last stop before they went overseas. And it was inevitable of course that a lot of these people would get killed, but you'd get to know a crew and dance and talk to them and get acquainted with them and then next thing you'd hear, you'd write them a letter and it'd be returned.

Jim: It can't be the sort of thing you ever got used to.

Genevieve: Oh, of course not, very hard.

Jim: You said you wanted to do something and joined up.

Genevieve: So I joined the Navy. Took boot camp in Hunter College in New York. Don't ever go to New York in January and go to Hunter College because the wind blows off that - what is the bay there? I can remember we'd be marching in poor dumb boot camp but we did have a nice heavy blue overcoat. We had to chip the ice off of our buttons to unbutton our overcoats. It was a terrible time, terrible time. Then I went from there after boot camp and they just opened this new thing called Specialist V. You were stewardesses, but they called 'em flight orderlies. They had these up till then, just sailors, just the guys were able. And they were going to open it for WAVES, and so out of the whole company and of course everybody wanted to do it. I think everyone in the company - there were 2,000, 3,000 gals - we all applied for it, we're all interviewed. Speaking of good 'ol Pocatello, my theory is when I walked in shaking like an aspen and I walked in to the WAVE officer, I got the sympathy vote. And then I think she thought, Pocatello, Idaho, we've got to have somebody from Idaho. Because out of the whole company with two or three thousand people, there were five of us who got that training. One was from New York, one was from California, one was her dad, a big shot in some international thing, then she had lived in Rio and she'd come up and joined the Navy.

So there were five of us went to Olathe, Kansas for flight training and got flight trained there, learned about airplanes and all sorts of stuff. And then from there we went back to Putuxant River, Maryland, which was a Naval Air Station, a huge Naval Air Test Station, big station. I saw my first jet there. I'll tell you, so I went with this Navy pilot and of course enlisted people weren't supposed to go with officers, but that's the only people I met were the guys I flew with so I used to sneak out and go anyway. But anyway, somehow I met a Marine pilot. Navy and Marine - we didn't get along at all - and so he said he was going to fly the next day and be down at the terminal. They had some new planes at Putuxon and he was a test pilot. They were called jets. He said he was going to fly it the next day at noon, to come on down to the air terminal and he would fly over. So anyway we were down there and he flew over just like an airplane should, and all of a sudden he goes into this spiral going up and he must've turned on the afterburners. Then God I thought his plane was on fire. Oh my God, he's blown up, he's going to get killed and some of the guys that were standing there watching it too and they said, That's the jet, that's the afterburner. That was my first jet.

Jim: Wow.

Genevieve: So one day I was at the barracks and my girlfriend Bea who had worked at the air terminal, in fact worked in flight control, she called me and she said, "Gennie, Gen, get down to the terminal right now," and I said, "Why?" She said, "Get down to the terminal right now and if it's secured, come in through the cargo door. You've got to come down to the terminal." And I said, "Okay." So I went down there and I walked in and she said, "Go upstairs," and there was a room upstairs with a big window in it. She said, "Sneak upstairs, Lindbergh is landing." So I did sneak upstairs and they secured the terminal. There wasn't a person that made it, and we're talking about a regular naval air transport service, it was the largest airline in the United States. We had terminals, we had flight crews, we had a - I'll show you - we had published schedules that we flew that we kept our schedules. Most of our pilots were commercial airline pilots that had been pulled into the service. Anyway, so of course the terminal was always full of people drinking coffee or waiting for a plane or da da da, a lot of activity out there and they cleaned 'em all out. They all had to go into a back room and they locked all the doors.

And so there I am up peering over through the glass and Lindbergh walked in with a couple of these escorts and they came across and I watched 'em walk across the terminal. I peaked over the top so they couldn't see me and then there was a VIP lounge and they walked him into the VIP lounge and I think it was when he was going overseas for Roosevelt. Remember? He was supposed to go over and inspect the airports or something there and I'm not sure, but that must've been what it was. So he was up in the VIP lounge while they were refitting the plane and gassing it and everything for the next leg of the trip where they'd go from Putuxon. Probably Newfoundland I think, and then to London. So anyway, I got to sit there and I couldn't leave so I sat there and I watched him sitting there drink coffee and they took him up a sandwich and he talked to all these people. And one by one the officials of the base would go up and meet him. He seemed very gracious, but no one was allowed in the terminal while he was there.

Jim: Oh, well that is a story.

Genevieve: Isn't that nice, isn't that nice?

Jim: That's very nice. For people that are watching this that don't know, you said you were a part of what?

Genevieve: It was the Naval Air Transport Service.

Jim: About the WAVES.

Genevieve: Oh, about the WAVES.

Jim: First off, you said you were part of the WAVES?

Genevieve: I was in the WAVES, yes, and I had boot camp and then from boot camp, as I say, they picked out five of us for this flight training and we went from there to Olathe, Kansas, for the flight training.

Jim: Okay, that's where I was getting.

Genevieve: Okay.

Jim: So you started out in the WAVES and then got - ?

Genevieve: Oh, I'm still in the WAVES.

Jim: You're still in it. Now tell me what the WAVES are, for people who don't know this.

Genevieve: Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlistment, I think that's what it stood for. I never did know I don't think. Women Accepted for Voluntary Enlistment Service, Emergency Service. Okay, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service that's what it stood for.

Jim: The WAVES.

Genevieve: To Olathe, Kansas, for flight training and after that, then they were just then opening the billet - I think that's what they called it in the Navy - for WAVES to start flying. And they flew us from Olathe, Kansas, back to Putuxon River, Maryland, which was the headquarters for the Atlantic wing and the up and down wing from Boston down to Miami. Big outfit. I went back there and worked in the terminal for a couple of months before I got my flight skins and then we, I started to fly.

Jim: Your flight skins?

Genevieve: That's what we called it. When you got to fly, you got your skins, you got your flight skins. I have no idea where it came from.

Jim: Was it a piece of paper, was it a jacket?

Genevieve: No, you were just called in. You were called into somebody's office and I got my leather flight jacket. I still have it. I gave it to my son last year for Christmas because he's always admired it, my leather jacket and my boots. Oh God, I thought. I used to, when I worked in the terminal, I'd watch these guys, the crews come in the terminal. We had terminals just like a airline terminal now. They all had coffee bars. You had to check in, we had scheduled flights. Putuxon was Washington and we'd go fly to New York, Cherry Point, Boston, and on down to Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami and then they started - and those were in the smaller planes the R4D, the two engines that just carried how many passengers?

We used the R4Ds. The Army calls 'em C47s and the British called 'em the Dakotas, but they were two engine planes. Then when they started the hot shots and I'll tell you about that. That was originally set up to bring prisoners back, terrible flights some of 'em.

Jim: I know that's making you emotional. Why does that strike a cord with you?

Genevieve: Well, I was just a kid and of course every plane, every flight I got I was hoping there'd be somebody that I knew that had been reported missing in action would be on. It was an eight hour flight, eight, ten hours by the time we stopped, gassed up and everything like that. A lot of the kids were in stretchers, had been prisoners for - I'll tell you about some of them later on, not right now maybe. And it was a very informal flight. In fact, we'd put a blanket down on the back of the plane, down on the floor, and they'd get back there and shoot craps and drink milk. They couldn't get enough milk. Go out and we'd load up with the whole crates of milk and by the time we landed at Olathe, the line crew would come and unload those empty cartons, those empty things and bring in more milk and they'd sit back there, stand back there and shoot craps and the ones who weren't shooting craps would exchange stories.

I don't suppose a lot of them ever talked about it after they got home. I've heard people say they never discussed it, but they did discuss it on my plane and they just absolutely weren't even aware I was standing there handing them milk or coffee or sweet rolls or whatever. In fact I remember one time my favorite pilot, William Shannon McNamara - God I loved him - he was a commander and he knew how to throw his weight around when he had to and he buzzed me up and he said, "Gen, I'm flying the plane with the nose straight up. You've got that tail end so full of passengers. Make some of 'em go back to their seats, will ya?" I did some, but they'd get back there and they would talk and I'd stand there in the corner and listen to 'em and they talked about the Bataan Death March. It was rough and as I say, anyway I'm Irish so I'm a walking tear duct anyway.

Jim: I come from a long line of those Irishman, so I know.

Genevieve: So you know what it is, don't you?

Jim: Yeah, I do.

Genevieve: And I detest it. I just detest it when I'm trying to say something halfway intelligent and I fog up. Anyway so -

Jim: But those were tough times.

Genevieve: They were tough times, they were tough times.

Jim: And again, sometimes there's a tendency to talk about World War II as if everything was just wonderful.

Genevieve: It was the most exciting time in the world because we knew what we were doing, we felt we were doing right. Now, this is what bothers me so much. We were so admired by the world then, and I resent like hell the fact now that we have been demeaned and we're the bad guys.

Jim: Why, what was exciting about it?

Genevieve: Oh, okay, so I'm from Pocatello. I never thought I'd get further than Salt Lake or Rupert where our cousins lived and we occasionally went for dinner. We'd get in the car and drive over to Rupert. Big damn day. Boy, all day over, dinner there, all day back, get back in Pocatello at nine or ten o'clock at night, just exhausted. And here we were, in Pocatello, just starting out, meeting kids from California, God, Long Beach, California, New York. I remember the first time I danced with a guy from New York. I couldn't believe it. And then my mother, my dad would go down on Sunday. Mother would fix dinner. There were rations of course, but my dad was a hunter and a fisherman and we always had fish or something like that and also there are a lot of farmers around there that needed shotgun shells and black market. So my dad would drive downtown and if he'd see a serviceman that looked like he's lonely he'd ask him if he wanted a home cooked meal and he'd come home with a car full of service guys and we'd have dinner. It was exciting, you know, when you're in Pocatello. I did go away to business college in Salt Lake and came back and got my job at the railroad, which I really hated to give up to go for $74 in the military.

Jim: It seems like it was such an exciting time to be alive.

Genevieve: It truly was because everyone sort of had a common goal, and don't put this, but you know we were going to kick the shit out of the Japs and they were primary for some reason. They were primary and beyond that, I suppose it's because most of the kids who were in Pocatello - the B24s and everything - went to the South Pacific. When we started, of course I was just a kid, but I wasn't aware of the atrocities the Germans had committed until afterwards and I had German blood.

Jim: What was it about them?

Genevieve: Well, of course they were different, right off the bat. And that's a silly thing to say because in high school there was a fairly large population of Japanese in Pocatello. My very favorite friend in Pocatello in high school - not socially or anything, but we played basketball - was Shita Tenabie and man, we could whip anybody that played us in basketball and we were quite close. But on the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed, I felt so sorry for the kids the next day in school because of course we all stood up and we listened to Roosevelt and they piped it in on the high school. Roosevelt made his speech and everything and then we all sang the National Anthem and pledged allegiance and I looked over and watched some of those kids that we had and they looked so, I felt so sorry for them. And quite a few of them were killed. The boys were killed in that Japanese Nisei thing in Italy, but they were different. The rest of them, when you talked about the Japs and you heard off the bat of the atrocities and the cutting off of heads of prisoners and even before the war you'd hear about the rape of these Chinese cities, how the Japanese had acted over there. They were just bad people.

Jim: I talked to somebody who was saying that after Pearl Harbor, living over here sort of on the west side of the United States, that it was even heightened, that was such a fear.

Genevieve: Oh yes, there was a fear. I remember going out at night. Wow, that's been so long ago, but I know we were afraid. There was good information that they were going to come over and bomb Seattle and not Portland and then we were watching pretty carefully. And we're talking about darling Japanese people that used to be my dad's customers and I knew in high school, but boy they'd better not be sending out any radio messages or anything like that because were watching. It was a bad time, it was a wicked time.

Jim: And it was, and it was. They ended up putting a lot of these people in internment camps.

Genevieve: Yeah, they did.

Jim: There's been a lot of collective guilt over that.

Genevieve: I don't feel guilty, I still don't. I'm sorry, but I don't. Maybe a little, maybe just a little. But we were convinced that if you're Japanese you owed allegiance to the emperor. I didn't feel guilty because I felt we were protecting ourselves and we had been so badly done when they had attacked Pearl Harbor, and it was such a dastardly thing.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Genevieve: You know, I couldn't remember but I happened to be going through some stuff and I found my high school senior class diary and I happened to flip it over and I had put a big black circle around December the seventh. So, I reread that and I found out where I was. Our neighbor boy, Buddy Loveland, ran over to tell us, "Turn on your radio! They've bombed Pearl Harbor! What the heck is Pearl Harbor?" I think it was time to go to Sunday school or something and then we didn't even do that. We stayed home and turned on the radio and listened.

Jim: Was it morning or do you remember?

Genevieve: Well, it was morning when we found out about it. But that doesn't sound right for the timeline does it?

Jim: Yeah, but maybe sort of the way you remember things.

Genevieve: But, it's just the way I, it must be the way I remember it.

Jim: You talked about after that and flying during the service. Are you glad you did it?

Genevieve: Oh, the best, the smartest thing I ever did. Oh, oh yes. I made friends then that have - of course they're all dying off so fast - but I made friends then that we've had and especially our squadron, we all got together every other year we had reunions. We had reunions all over the United States, oh gosh, Florida -

Jim: But friendships that stuck with you.

Genevieve: Friendships that stuck, absolutely. Nora, Nora O'Conner from Pebble Beach, Bea from Long Island, she was reared in Brooklyn, boy could she be tough, Ruth from Rio De Janeiro.

Jim: You mentioned that a lot of these folks are gone and you know this was many, many years ago.

Genevieve: Many, many.

Jim: How does it feel to sit here now and look back at that, and you're still telling these stories?

Genevieve: It's surprisingly fresh, isn't that funny? I can't believe it's that long ago. I can't believe I'm as old as I am. I can't believe they're all gone. And I used to lecture Bea and Nora and Ann and smoke - they used to smoke five packs a day. Damned if they didn't both die of lung cancer and the last thing Nora did was to turn off her oxygen thing and run into the bathroom and have a cigarette. She was such a bad girl, oh, she was so bad.

Jim: Did you think you'd be one of the ones still here thinking about those days, keeping those memories alive?

Genevieve: Oh, how can you ever? You're not as young as I was at that time, but still, do you even contemplate being an old man? It sneaks up on you.

Jim: But you said it still feels fresh.

Genevieve: I can still get excited about it. I think of Nora and Bea and I just want to love 'em. Bea was such a funny little thing. She's the one that took me down and called me, she said, "Gen, get down here. Lindbergh's landing." One time we were coming in for a landing in Putuxon and there was something wrong with the plane. We couldn't get the wheels down so we were going to make this big emergency landing and we were loaded with gas and so we had to fly around and fly around and fly around and burn all the gas out and then go out over the ocean and dump as much as we could and all of that sort of stuff and we finally land. Of course, we didn't have passengers at that time. We'd been down to the Miami Air Show. There's another historical thing - I was in the first Miami Air Show.

Jim: Oh, wow.

Genevieve: Yeah, they sent the R5D down to the Miami Air Show and flying down it was so fun. We were going along, just you know, big four engine plane. We just thought we were the cock of the walk, flying along and passing up all these planes. And by the time we left from Putuxant and by the time we got back down into Florida, we had all these little planes we were just passing up like dirty shirts. And I was up standing in the cockpit with my pilots and we were just laughing and snorting away, and then all of a sudden, first appearance of the Blue Angels. They whipped past us like we were backing up. Man, voom, voom.

Jim: You were talking about the excitement of the whole thing, when you knew that the war was over?

Genevieve: Well, there again, I'm Irish. Everybody else, they set up a special plane and went to New York. And for the first time when I was in the service, I went to church. I sat in church and cried. And that was my little chapel right there in Putuxon.

Jim: Why'd you cry?

Genevieve: It was just so marvelous that this terrible, terrible thing was over. All these people had been killed and injured and I told you I flew hospital flights. Oh, I had one passenger - usually you got a heads up when there was a special passenger aboard. They didn't say anything to me and I went up and it was an R5D. It was a big plane and I went on as I go up and got on the plane and I talk about the ladders. You've seen pictures of presidents coming out and standing? We had those same kind of ladders because the door at the back was about ten, fifteen feet off the ground. We'd go up the ladders. So I went up the ladder and I walked in and I could see this head up. Somebody had brought somebody aboard and you just never do that and so I walked up and he was sitting in the front row, right in back of the bulkhead. And I went up and here was this best looking young Marine, so handsome, sitting in this chair and he had no legs, none at all. And my first thought was, How do I buckle him in? But I helped him and then we filled the flight up and then we got to Olathe. He was getting out at Olathe. He was going to the hospital in Kansas City. What is it, the Fitzsimmon Hospital or something, I can't remember, but we used to get some of the passengers there.

But anyway, so we landed and all the passengers got off he of course had to wait. And I looked down and there was the ambulance and his mother and the stretcher. They came up the ladder and they couldn't get the stretcher around into the plane they were having trouble. I'd gone down to talk to the mother and that's when I found out how he'd - he's nineteen years old, he'd gone in the service when he was fifteen - run away from home and had been a prisoner the entire time he'd been in. So I went back and they were still jerking this stretcher around and I went up into the cockpit and my pilots of course had been shutting the plane down and I said, "You'll have to wait a minute. There's still a passenger there." I can't remember who it was, but I had some of the nicest, nicest pilots. They were just dolls. And he came out. I remember they were both tall and they came out and here was that poor 'ol kid sitting there and the guys back there struggling with that stretcher and I remember the pilot looked at him and he said, "Hey son, would you trust us if we made you a chair and the kid said, "Yeah." So they made a chair and then he said, "Put your arms around our necks," and they did and they carried him out and down to his mother and the ambulance.

And I told you we had reunions. So about ten years ago, about our last reunion, we were in the ready room just telling lies, you know, having a great time and most of the guys had flown overseas before they came back to Putuxon. They had a lot of overseas experience and they were telling about what they'd gone through and been shot, da da da. This one pilot, and I still can't remember his name, he said, "You know, of all the experience I had overseas, the one thing I remember the most," he said, "the one thing that affected me most when I carried a young Marine off my plane." And I said, "Oh, was that you? That was my flight too." And we just grabbed each other and hugged each other. It was the highs were higher than they are, and the lows were lower than they are.

Jim: Adelaide McLeod.

Genevieve: Oh, yes.

Jim: How long have you known her?

Genevieve: Oh, man. Addy showed us our house when we moved to Boise in - what'd I tell you - '59? And we ended up buying from somebody with it not going to a realtor. But that was when I first met Addy and then we were on the bench and then we moved down and lived on Warm Springs for 25 years. And well, when you live in Boise awhile, you know everybody anyways.

Jim: Well, I was going to ask you about that. It's nice that you're talking about Pocatello because this is sort of a statewide thing that we're doing and all that. In Idaho, no matter who you talked to, from where they lived a lot of the stories were the same it seems like. I mean, the growing up in that era and kind of stuff, there were a lot of similarities.

Genevieve: It was a quiet era. I think most people were broke and there weren't the pressures, and I do think that the war changed that. It brought everybody in. Like I said, I was so excited the first time I met somebody from New York, New York City, my God.

Jim: I guess in some ways you can break this up into before the war and after the war. When the war happened, was it the same or did everything change?

Genevieve: Gosh, I don't think I can answer that question. It did for me because I got my job. Well, of course I grew up seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.

Jim: Everything changed for you?

Genevieve: Everything changes for everybody at that age doesn't it? You go from a kid to being an adult and earning your own money and then go from there.

Jim: When you're back in Pocatello, do you ever go places and get almost flashbacks of those old days?

Genevieve: I haven't been in Pocatello in so long and the last time I went it nearly broke my heart. Our neighborhood was such a nice little neighborhood and it was so run down and the house looked so shabby and I haven't been back in a long time.

Jim: Do you ever get flashbacks to those days? I find that I'll be driving in the car and it's like, for some reason, something will spark a memory and then it's just like, Wow!

Genevieve: My happy memories started after I started my job. Before then it was a struggle except for my very early years. Like I said, I can remember until I was two or three years old everything seemed to be laughing and sunshine and everything, and then from then on it was nothing but gray.

Jim: What about during the war when you were up in the sky and flying and - ?

Genevieve: Oh God, I love to fly. That is the most marvelous feeling in the world. I used to love to hear those old wheels whamp, whamp, you're coming in for a landing and feel those wheels go down and walk along and take care of the passengers, loved it. All men, all military. No, except for, as I say, the civilians. We had those reporters at one time and I had one woman one time. She flew from Washington to New York. Yeah, you know a half hour or whatever and she was a WAC officer and she was going to be discharged because she had been married. She was married and she was pregnant. She spent the whole time saying, "Am I going to have a miscarriage because I'm on the airplane?"

Jim: It was unusual back then. People didn't fly all over the place.

Genevieve: I think so, and yeah, no forget it lady. Will it be deformed? Forget it lady. Is this strap too tight on my stomach? Forget it lady.

Jim: It's been called the greatest generation. What should people remember about those years, do you think?

Genevieve: Getting out of 'em. I know Tom Brokaw, the greatest years. Well, they were hard, but they did teach you to be tough and that you had to do what you had to do and that's a good lesson for anyone to learn. I hope I've taught my kids that and if you make a commitment you do it. I have to tell you one more passenger I had and then I'll go. So I got a heads up one time, San Francisco to Washington. They called me up into the office and they said there's a passenger aboard now he's, he's been a prisoner the whole time. Of course, most of these hot shots started to bring back prisoners of war who had been rehabilitated, but this one didn't speak English, he was Dutch. He had been a prisoner of the Japanese from Java or whatever forever and he was dying and the only thing they wanted to do was get him back to his family before he died. So they showed me how to use a portable oxygen mask and they said, "Keep him alive." So I got on there and he was in one of the passenger seats and after we took off I put him up in the crew. There was a bed up there so then when they landed in Washington he didn't have to get off, but then Washington said he had to.

So he landed in Washington and of course they had the ambulance down there for him from Walter Reed Hospital and the doctor and everything like that so they could take him and let him rest before they put him on the next leg of the plane. Of course we'd been flying all day and traditionally when the crew landed in Washington, the NATS terminals was just a little way away from the commercial terminal. We'd always go in and had something to eat because we'd been flying all day and hadn't eaten. So we started to go and I could hear this real, you know upset to-do and I went over to see what it was and these poor guys, the guys from the ambulance of Walter Reed were trying to put this poor Dutchman into the ambulance and he wouldn't let them. As sick as he was, he was holding on bracing his arms and everything and he wouldn't let them put him in the ambulance. I could see right away he was scared to death and he thought they were unloading him there and going to take him to a hospital.

I had learned to communicate with him in our flight so I went over and I explained to him, "No, no, don't worry. They're just going to take you," and I showed him the time, "to the hospital and you're going to sleep for the night you come back here." And then of course they were loading up other planes and everything and I said, "And tomorrow, you come back and you'll get on that plane and go further." And I got him calmed down, so he did go. And I didn't realize it - I hadn't paid any attention - there was an admiral on my flight and he had been watching this. So a couple weeks later, a month later I was called into the main office, the headquarters, and I thought, Oh, I'm in trouble, I've done something so bad. And I had a letter of commendation and not only that, but that sweet old admiral had kept track of the Dutch person and he let me know that he got home alive and he lived for a week at home before he died so he got to see his family. And it was the Captain who was telling me and he said, "And I have a note here that I am to tell you for sure that Mr. Whatever-his-name-was got home and spent a week with his family." I was so thrilled.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Cloris Knox grew up in Boise and attended Boise High during the war years.

Jim: You moved to Boise from South Dakota, right?

Cloris: And I remember traveling in a Model T Ford and I remember coming across the mountains and I thought, "Oh we're never going to get there." It was this long, long trip and I finally . . . I knew in my brain that it wasn't true . . . but I'd look at those mountains behind us and think, "Well home is just on the other side of those mountains." I really knew it wasn't true, but it kind of consoled me to realize that I wasn't that far from home.

Jim: What was this area like in those days?

Cloris: It seems like too big of city sometimes. When we came it was not too different from Rapid City. They still used the drive-in to the curb parking and if you see pictures from those days there were a lot of old, old cars, Model T's and so forth that didn't even have windows, I mean didn't have roll up windows. But in those days the stores downtown, the main part of downtown was just from 8th street to 10th and there were other buildings, but I mean that's where this main shopping part was and mostly on Idaho Street a few, on Main and every store had nice big display windows and used to be fun to drive through at night, just to see what the displays were. They were always pretty and always lighted. And so its kind of not much fun to drive through downtown Boise anymore.

Jim: What were the big stores back then?

Cloris: No Macy's. Where we have a Macy's today was CC Anderson and CC Anderson was a person that lived on Warm Springs Avenue and everybody knew which house was his, so it was much different. Woolworth was here and Woolworth's had a little soda fountain at the front of their store, Cresse's didn't have that, but they had clerks behind every counter. There was no self-service kind of thing, even grocery stores didn't have self-service, well maybe, by '41. Albertsons opened their first door in '39 and Safeway's was here and those grocery stores were like today where you had a basket and you picked up your own things. We lived out east of Garfield School and that was just farmland and country and now I go out there it gives me claustrophobia, just so crowded. We did a lot of shopping at the what would be called a shopping center now. On the corner of Broadway and Boise Avenue there was a little business district and you shopped with the same people you knew. You'd go into the store, you knew everybody and they knew you. In that little grocery store you told ‘em what you wanted and they went and took it off the shelf for you. In fact, and if you didn't have the money that day, they'd put it on a tab.

Jim: Did they have restaurants downtown?

Cloris: Not very many. There were restaurants in the hotels and we had the Idanha and the Owyhee of course was there and the Hotel Boise had been built in in the early 30s. In fact it was built after we moved here. So I watched that go up and that was pretty exciting. And of course all those hotels had restaurants and then there was a place called the Mechanafe, if anybody hasn't mentioned that before. You sat in a booth and then beside you there was a window with little glass doors and this mechanical belt just kept moving past with food on it and there was an upper level that you took your food out and a lower level that you put your dirty dishes in and that went back to the kitchen. That was here for two to three years, but that was a fun place to go and it was fairly cheap.

Jim: And where was that?

Cloris: It was downtown, right downtown Boise yeah, it was called the Mechanafe .

Jim: Somebody mentioned that there used to be a big city hall.

Cloris: Yes, the old city hall was something that I think was a real shame that was torn down and I think that's what got the citizens of Boise interested in preserving what we had because everything was being destroyed. I think they called that a Romanesque structure, it was almost like a fortress and kind of a round front but it sat back from the sidewalk enough that there was a great big water fountain in the corner of it. It was on 8th and and Idaho.

Jim: And I heard it's been replaced by a lovely parking garage?

Cloris: Well for a long time it was nothing, I think there was a drug store in there for a while and it was years before they even got around to putting the parking garage in there.

Jim: A great trade, wasn't it?

Cloris: Well it took up a lot of space and it was probably in pretty bad condition, but at the same time it was something that was historic and interesting architecture and something different.

Jim: What was a big Friday or Saturday night in Boise like back then, what would you do?

Cloris: I don't remember for sure, but I remember I was always busy lots of times if there wasn't something that we wanted to do, there were dance halls around. My father wasn't crazy about the idea of me going to that. I wanted to be usherette in this movie theater and he wouldn't let me do that. We had the Drive-In places, but I wanted to be a Car Hop and he wouldn't let me do that. But we were allowed to roll up the rug in our living room and have parties and danced on hardwood floors. So it made a pretty good dance floor. We'd go ice skating at the east end of the pond at Julia Davis Park. It was not all developed and landscaped like it is today. And it would freeze over and there was nobody there. I think maybe they did put up signs if the ice wasn't safe, but I think when we first started using it we had to test the ice ourselves. I lived out far enough that several neighbors had ponds for their animals and they would freeze and we'd skate there or hay rides and snow, take the horses, because practically everybody had horses out in that area. And we didn't have television to watch, but I do remember we had radio. I used to listen to Orphan Annie when I was, this was when I was still a kid before I went to high school. I'd come home from school and I'd sit on the floor right in front of the radio and see what Orphan Annie was doing that day. When I was in the second and third grade we lived on Woodlawn and of course most people had ice boxes. And the iceman came, and they had little signs that you'd put in the door if you wanted ice and how big, sometimes 100 lbs, 50 lbs, but when he was taking the ice into the house we would usually be out, in the summertime of course, out in the yard playing and we'd hear the truck coming and so we'd run over and while he was in the house we'd get a handful of these ice chips off the back of the truck. And if there weren't any handy he'd chip some off for us. It was very convenient.

Jim: Describing those days, it sounds like it was a pretty nice time to be a kid.

Cloris: I think as far as I'm concerned it was the best. I feel like we've got a lot of memories of doing things. We played together and we played tag and we played hide and go seek and we played Annie I Over . . . we'd toss a ball over a shed, a lot of people had sheds that or barns or something that were low enough and the toss the ball over and hop scotch and jacks and so forth and we were more active, much more active than we are today and the children are today.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Cloris: Well I had graduated from Boise High in June of '41 and that summer I worked out at Gowen Field. I quit when it was time for school and went over to Eugene and went to Northwest Christian College. I enrolled there and I took some classes at the University of Oregon. The Sunday Pearl Harbor was bombed I had walked to church with some friends. And we were on our way home and it happened to be a really nice Sunday. Hardly seemed like December. And we got close to the dorm and we heard all this yelling and we looked up and girls were hanging out the window yelling, "We're at war, we're at war, war has started." And of course we had been on edge about war for a long time because we were aware of what was going on in Europe and in the uh Asian countries too. Because Japan had been invading other countries, but the idea that Japan would ever get across the Pacific was the farthest thing from our minds. Of course everybody was in shock even though we just kind of were half anticipating it was going to happen. So then of course the young men all started enlisting.

Jim: What was that like? After the bombing happened was everything the same or did everything change do you think?

Cloris: Oh everything changed. The whole atmosphere, the attitude of everybody, was so different after that. There were times when you'd be having fun and forget about it, but it was never far from your mind. And there were so many, so many people . . . I've seen pictures where house after house would have a star in the window and I knew, I knew people whose sons or husbands were gone and overseas.

Jim: And it seems like, unlike now, it seems like everybody was part of the war effort, I mean everybody?

Cloris: Everybody was involved. You couldn't escape it, you know, because the blackouts and the rationing. You couldn't buy things and even, even if things weren't rationed they were hard to find usually because everything had been converted to the war effort.

Jim: You talk about how everybody was involved. Every single person we talked to talked about friends, loved ones, guys they dated that went over and didn't come back, everybody we've talked to has that experience.

Cloris: Well there were nine boys from our class that never came back and several people I knew other than the ones in our class that didn't come back. Our family was very lucky. My brother went and I had an uncle who had been in the National Guard and he went as an officer. My brother was private first class and then he got promoted to be a corporal, but he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He was always in trouble . . . and then he'd be a private first class again. But he came home and he was not wounded and my uncle was not wounded

Jim: What was scarce, what did you really want that was hard to get?

Cloris: Nylons. Nylon had been invented and it was used primarily for parachutes. And then they discovered how to make a grade that you could use for hose. Up to that time our stockings, our hose, were made out of either silk or cotton, different degrees of thickness and they weren't really pretty and, they were silk and silk was very fragile. The least little thing would snag it and then it would run. Our class happened to be the first class that went all through four years of high school where we never wore long stockings. We were allowed to wear, we called them anklets at the time, bobby socks today, so we were the first bobbysoxers.

Jim: Really?

Cloris: I mean Idaho is a fairly cold climate in the wintertime and so our mothers always . . . and I think in those days people thought that if you got cold you would catch a cold . . . and so we'd hide . . . I mean as soon as we'd get out of site we'd roll our stockings down and then before we got where our mothers could see us again we'd roll ‘em back up before we got home. We were wanting to wear bobby socks, and we didn't like the long stockings even the finer grade cotton I think they called it lisle, and even silk, we saved those for Sundays because they were so fragile. But when they invented nylon hose they were so much stronger and so much more durable and prettier because of the strength of the nylon's thread they were able to have a more sheer hose that would hold up than any of the other things. But nylons, they were hard to find and expensive even before the war. So they were a really welcome Christmas gift. I think I had three pair at the time of Pearl Harbor and one pair was still in good shape. But the others had gradually seen their better days. We were in an automobile accident on a Sunday, and no shatter proof windshields in those days, and besides most of the guys had old cars, and the windshield broke and I was surrounded by glass. The driver got out, my husband got out and here I was. I was afraid to move because I didn't know what would happen with all that glass and my husband looked at me and he said, "Are you okay?" And I said, "I don't know," but I could see my nylons had been ruined. There's a big chunk out of my leg and t turned out to be a fairly minor wound, and I was bleeding from a head wound . . . a piece of glass had hit me on the scalp . . . but all I could think about was that my nylons were ruined and that was my last good pair.

Jim: You talk about the flip side of things. You have a cash register slip for 32 items for?

Cloris: $6.00 for 32 items, that was my first grocery bill after I was married in '43 and the most expensive thing was 31¢, 25¢, 27¢ but there were items down 5, 6, 7, 9 cents and 32 and I don't I should have made a copy of that and marked down what they were, but I know some of that had to be meat.

Jim: It's just amazing that you could get anything, we can't buy anything for a nickel anymore.

Cloris: Well of course wages were commensurate with that too; they were pretty low in those days.

Jim: Was it really a wonderful time?

Cloris: We thought so, yeah. We had a good time. There was always something fun. We were aware that there was trouble in the world, the depression was no fun, but it was a whole lot less of a problem here in Boise. We always had a garden and even in town people could dig up part of their backyard or something and raised vegetables. I would have hated to be in a big city like New York or Chicago or even smaller places than that where you were crammed in with lots of people in tenement buildings and so forth. I can't imagine how awful it must've been for those people.

Jim: It's so memorable to people why do you think?

Cloris: Well because it was all consuming.

Jim: Was there a lot of, of worry?

Cloris: Oh yeah. They say some people beat their head against the wall because it feels so good when it stops. Well it's kind of like that. We were beating our heads against the wall there wasn't a whole lot we could do, but what we could do we did. We couldn't avoid it, there was no way to avoid it. I mean I guess if you were a hermit and went up in the mountains someplace and had no telephone, no radio, lived with the animals . . . and a few people did that or went to Canada . . . but if you were in civilization you were aware there was a war going on. Now today I think . . . of course this war we're in now is . . . it's a different kind of war. But I think that everybody needs to be aware that it is a war.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Charles Lish grew up during the Depression in Salmon, Idaho, which was hit hard in those years. He joined the Navy and served at Farragut Naval Training Center in North Idaho before heading overseas.

Jim: You were talking about the depression . . . what was it like in Idaho during those years?

Charles: It was very rough, very, very, very rough. Idaho has . . . it took quite a, quite a while to get back to where you could at least have a little something of your own. I come from a very poor family and so if it hadn't have been for a little farm we lived on we, we, we would've been some of 'em that didn't make it, but we did.

Jim: You talked about the depression being hard. Do you have hard memories from being a kid growing up or do you have happy memories?

Charles: Well, they were both you know . . . although we never had much. Yes, it was very much happy times along with the hard times. My dad was a, he was a musician and he was a violin player so he taught me . . . my uncle and him taught me to play the guitar, so for recreation when the chores was all done and we'd have a little jam session so that was our happy times.

Jim: It seems like in talking to people about those years, even though sometimes they were hard years, that people have fond memories.

Charles: Oh yes, oh yes. I come from . . . all of my uncles and my aunts was musicians, my grandfather, so that was our recreation. We'd get together when we could and we'd have jam sessions and so I got to be a fairly good guitar player. I wasn't great, but I'd say fairly so I, I stayed with it. I had an uncle that was a violinist and I used to play around with different kinds of instruments and he used to say to me, Hey if you're going to be good then you pick out one instrument and you stay with it. So I did; I picked the guitar.

Jim: Where'd you grow up and what was that like?

Charles: I was born in Hanson, Idaho, Twin Falls County. When I was a baby we moved to Salmon, Idaho, and that was the worst place to move to, that's where the depression was really bad, but we had a . . . my dad had an uncle who had a little farm there so we moved there, which I can't remember you know, but the mines started to open up in about 1937, a few mines around there. I went to work in a mine when I was 14. And I'm glad I could because it helped the family out. Anyway I worked there off and on in the mine and forming until I went in the Navy. I can remember my first paycheck when I was in the mine was $124.00 for a month's work and that was 9 hours a day, but it helped my family. We got something besides beans and potatoes, but them was bad times and good times.

Jim: I know you're obviously, you're getting emotional about it and, and you get choked up, how come you get choked up thinking about it?

Charles: Well, that's pretty rough, you know thinking back. Thinking about how maybe, how maybe things could've, would've been better . . . so you had to cope with it and that's, that's hard to cope with when, when you don't have the things of life that you need, but that's life. When I went in the Navy I thought to myself . . . I well, it'd be less, one less mouth to have to feed. I left my mama and I the Navy was my mama then so that was good for me, that was good for me, it was good for me. But my dad stayed a working in the mines and on the farm and until well I guess it was 1947-8 somewhere along there, and he moved to California. He was a hard worker my dad, my mother too. I was the oldest of, of seven boys. And my mother lost four boys, which that was rough right in the depression time and they were, they were from about a year or 18 months to 2 ½ years so I'm six years older than my nearest brother. There's part of me in there that's not there. But then I got a brother and I, I got two or three other brothers and my third brother he died of cancer about five years ago. So that was number four for my mama, but anyway they go back if you want to.

Jim: How old were you when you joined the Navy?

Charles: I just turned 18. I knew I was going to the Navy, I knew that, I had a friend that served, a hitch in the Navy, and he got out just before Pearl Harbor. He and I become very good friends,. He was a Second Class Gunners Mate so we were talking one day and he says, Lish I know that I'm going to have to go back in the Navy, they're going to call me back pretty quick, let's go and enlist together. And that's all it took. So we left together and and we headed up boot camp together and when I got to boot camp I you know I'm green I didn't even, I didn't even know this was going on up here and I lived just over the you know. I didn't know nothing about that, we never had newspapers or that radio with a battery you know that you, you only used it when it's news time, so anyway, that's how I got in the Navy.

Jim: What was it like up here in those days?

Charles: You know when I landed um here I got I had to report a Pocatello, Pocatello and Pocatello. I went around to Boise and around up here. I got here at 4:00 or at 1:00 in the morning on a train to Athol and they took us to the base on a little jump train they had going to the, and I was a green kid you know I didn't, I didn't know nothing about this or nothing about that and if it hadn't been for my friend Bill who had been through it through the ropes you know he, he taught me a lot right fast. But when I got to the they gave us a three hour sleep, got us up at 4:00, took us down to chow hall and fed us beans, spiced up beans. I can still hear the guys holler, Beans for breakfast, no way! I ate the beans, I like beans, I ate 'em. Beans for breakfast, good for anybody I guess. Anyway I went in there to our last final physical examination and I got pulled out of line because I had this arm, left arm broke and when they sat it, it was so bad that they sat an half a turn, or not a half, about a quarter of a turn so it's comfortable when I'm setting like that than like this. So they pulled me out of line and put me in a little room and said, Wait there until we want to talk to you about that arm. Well, I said, well here I am; I'm going to go home, I'm going back in the old mine again I guess. Three or four doctors come in and they twisted and pried and just kept asking me, Does that arm hurt you? No, it don't bother, which it didn't, it didn't bother me; just had kind of a little handicap, but nothing. So they finally passed me. Well I'm late getting in, so I had to go through the clothes line yet to get my clothes so I learned what the Navy was right there fast. I went in and to get my clothes and this Gob I call him, Sailor, he says to me, Take that shirt and unbutton three buttons on the top, slip it over your head. Well, I started to unbutton on my kin. He said, I didn't tell you that. He says, I told you to unbutton the first three buttons and slip it over your head. So he made me button it back up. I buttoned it back up. Now I said take three buttons up and slip it over your head. I did. So I got over to the shoe line and opened my mouth again. I says, There's no use measuring my feet; I wear 8 ½. And the guy says, Oh you do, do you? So he runs it out there to 11 ½ and give me two pair of 'em. So after a while when the rain and everything hit 'em they turned up just like skis and my company commander every time he'd say About Face I, I didn't make it, I didn't make it. So he said, one day he come back there and he says, Lish, what in the H is the matter with you, you can't stand up on your feet? I said, No sir. He said, Why? I said, Well, my shoes. So he took a look at my shoes and he says, What, how come you're wearing those? I said, Well, that's what he give me. And he, I told him what size I wore and he round up 11 ½ and gave me to pair of 'em. So he says, Get some new shoes, NOW. So I beat it down and get. So that's where I learnt to never speak up. They know everything, so you just keep your mouth shut and you'll be fine. And so that's, that's how I met the Navy.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Adelaide McLeod grew up in Boise and attended Boise High in the 1940's along with Bethine Church.

Jim: What was Boise like in those days, what do you remember?

Adelaide: Well Boise was really small, if you went downtown and there was someone you didn't hadn't seen before you knew they were from out of town, it was like that. Things were, were quite different, people wore, or women wore hats and gloves and always a dress to go downtown and there were maybe oh three restaurants is all and there were oh I guess you'd call 'em dry good stores, and some dime stores and a bank or two and that was about it.

Jim: What was it like here at the edge of the depression, what were those years like?

Adelaide: I didn't know anything else really and I had a very good time growing up. We made our own fun and everyone else was in the same boat. I never, I don't think any of us ever felt like we were deprived. The neighborhoods were full of children and we all got together and played games in our alleys. It didn't seem to matter and, I don't know, it was just a really nice time to grow up I think.

Jim: What was nice about it? When you say it was a nice; I mean you sort of smiled a little when you were thinking about those years.

Adelaide: Well let's see what was nice about. Well first of all families were close and I don't know . . . the simplicity of it I guess. When I compare it to what exists now, I had lots of friends and, well, simple things. Like I can remember my mother pulling taffy and all the neighbor children would come in and pull taffy and, and things like that.

Jim: When, when you say pulling taffy, I'm not even sure what that means.

Adelaide: Oh well, making candy, and when you make candy, when you make taffy, you have to pull it before its ready to eat or its all kind of sugary and so it gets to a certain point and then, and then you take it on a spoon and, and take it in your hands and pull it and, and that's actually, well it was a kind of a tradition, it was one things my mother did that the children came in. My father saved string and, and paper from everything and made kites for every kid in the neighborhood and we had my grandmother living with us for a period of time and then my grandfather and so we were never really just my immediate family, there was always some relative there with us. I guess that's what I meant by the simplicity of it, we made our own fun, we didn't have a lot of things because that just wasn't the way it was and, and I think we were probably better off for that.

Jim: You talked about how some of downtown's been preserved and some of the areas kind of feel like they did.

Adelaide: Yes.

Jim: Are there ever moments when you walk around or you're driving around, and you get a flash of something that reminds you of the old days?

Adelaide: Oh all the time and I can't help that and of course as I was a realtor for 35 years and had my, my own company and I was hopefully a little instrumental in trying to preserve some of those buildings. Probably the saddest one was the City Hall. We had an adorable kind of gothic looking building down on the corner of 8th and Idaho and it's where the parking garage is now. It was, it was just classic. It was just a wonderful building and we were gone, we were living in Montana and we came back to visit and it was gone. And it just totally undid me. You know it just made me really sad, because it was, it was part of the downtown and, and much of what a town is, is its own history and they just wiped out a piece of it.

Jim: But certainly you must look at the parking garage and think oh my god it's magnificent?

Adelaide: Laughing Well it's a lovely parking garage, as parking garages go yes its fine.

Jim: Not quite the same?

Adelaide: No, not quite the same thing. But that's probably the most dramatic thing I can think of. Oh, the Eastman Building we worked really hard at trying to save the Eastman Building. And then some people who were cold in the wintertime, some street people, went in there to stay warm and they built a fire and it burned it down, it got away from them.

Jim: One of the buildings I always look at is the old Depot.

Adelaide: Yes, and at one time it was just a tremendous wide view between the depot and the capital building. And it's kind of too bad that it's blocked a little bit, because you could see the entire building, the entire capital building at one point.

Jim: We're talking sort of just in general about the years leading up to the war, before Pearl Harbor was bombed. That's obviously the big dramatic event.

Adelaide: Yes.

Jim: As things were leading up to that, was there a feeling that something was coming? I mean did you know that there was this big change on its way?

Adelaide: To some degree because my parents were really involved in what was going on around them and, you know, they discussed it at the dinner table. So yes, we were aware about the Nazis and about Germany and we had some fear about what it meant to our country and that sort of thing.

Jim: Was there that sense of looking back, wow, everything changed?

Adelaide: Yes it did. And it's rather odd to say that you had a golden time during the depression, but its sort of true, it really is. And it's kind of hard to explain, I guess it's not just that we lived in a small town. It was a very good time in our country and I can remember when the war started . . . my parents were staunch republicans and yet they were just squarely behind Franklin Roosevelt because he was president. And it bothers me that, that attitude doesn't still prevail you know. I mean it's . . . it's really sad what's happening in the country right now.

Jim: Sometimes I know it's hard not to look at what was going on then and look at what's going on now. I mean the country is certainly in another difficult spot.

Adelaide: Yeah well you know it. I guess it was a lot simpler then in a way, but there was a tremendous amount of patriotism and I think part of it came from the fact that we were all terribly involved in the war itself. I mean our friends were fighting the war and, and we were doing the things that we could do at home.

Jim: Where were you when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

Adelaide: I was riding my bicycle and one of my friends, a young man, stopped us and he said, "Did you know we're at war?" And I thought, "What is he saying?" He said, "Yes our country's at war we're all going to go fight it." And I never will forget that.

Jim: What did you talk about at school?

Adelaide: It was definitely part of what we, what we were doing at school, I mean it wasn't like every minute of everyday, but you know there was a certain awareness about all of it and as soon as the war broke out well there were, I guess Juniors and Seniors boys were leaving school to go fight the war. Some of them didn't wait until they graduated, some of them did. You know we were all writing letters to them. Marian Falk who was a wife of a doctor here in Boise started a group of girls to sell war bonds and that's what we did. It was called the Minute Maids, kind of a take off on the Minutemen. Some of us were on bicycles or horseback or however and we would meet the trains and we would go to churches and we would go to the concerts and to the fair. Wherever there was a gathering of people to sell our war bonds. And we had kind of little halo hats that we wore and it was kind of an interesting thing that we did. But I always felt really good about that, I felt like I'm contributing a little bit.

Jim: I know when the war got started they had dances and things like that. What were those like? Did you go to those?

Adelaide: Oh absolutely. There was a lady by the name of Mrs. Trueblood that had dances at the YWCA. In the basement. They were for enlisted men and so we would go and dance to records, you know, canned music and we weren't allowed to leave with them. I don't know, I made some friends there did that for quite a while. Also there were the USO dances and of course we had both Gowen Field and Mountain Home Air Base so we had a lot of young officers here as well as enlisted men. It was a lot of dancing, a lot of dancing. I never was involved in the bar scene, but there was a big bar scene, I mean that the fellows would come in, you know, looking for something to do and so there was very often live music in the bars. They were more like cocktail bars not like a western bar you know.

Jim: What was it like when you were dancing and meeting these guys that were in the service and knew where they were probably headed?

Adelaide: Well you know, nobody seemed to dwell a lot on fear. Everybody felt like it was their job to do and they were going to do it. I can't say that's across the board, but that's the general feeling that you got. There were a lot of just really nice young men from all over the country and, and it was fun getting acquainted with them and some of them wrote letters and in fact at one time I had something like 17 correspondence and it was taking a whole lot of time.

Jim: You must've been very popular.

Adelaide: Oh I don't know about that, but I was involved.

Jim: When you hear that music does it take you back?

Adelaide: Oh we had the best music in the world, we really did and I don't know it sort of, if you wanted to know what we were like listen to that music because that's what we were like it really programmed all of us, it was wonderful.

Jim: When you say it programmed all of you, what do you mean?

Adelaide: Well it was, it was romantic music and it was, it was sweet, it was moral, it was . . . oh beyond that I can't really exactly explain it, but it was, it was nice to listen to and yet it was lively. Not all of it was, there was a lot of very romantic songs and I think the fact that in modern movies they're using a lot of that old music still, it kind of tells you something.

Jim: There's been so much attention paid to the World War II generation and there is this idea that it was this sort of golden era. I wonder sometimes if that's completely fair. You talked about the end of the depression having sort of a golden feel to it, but I think sometimes people tend to paint the whole war experience with a golden brush. Was it that wonderful, I mean is that fair to those days, to those memories you think?

Adelaide: You know, having grown up in that, it's hard for me to really say what it would be like growing up during another time, but yes, yes I guess so. There were certainly people who were phony just like there are now and that kind of thing and yet there was, there were a tremendous number of people who were, oh I don't know just, just real people, caring. And I guess we all had a little more time, things keep getting more and more rushed and it wasn't that way and I think maybe that if there was anything that may be, be it in fact the depression probably caused a certain amount of simplicity for all of us that was a huge benefit. It wasn't a bad time to grow up.

Jim: People are very nostalgic about those days, why do you think that is?

Adelaide: Well you think about it, there aren't very many generations that first go through a depression and then a big war and we were all very involved in the war, it, it was entirely different than anything that's happened since because we were all really, you know, living it with the soldiers. I think maybe just well . . . that and the music. I think the music had a great deal to do with it, but the music had to come from somewhere so it's a chicken and egg sort of thing. I don't know, that's a hard one to pin and I was kind of surprised the first time that Brokaw came out with it being The Greatest Generation because I always thought so because it was my generation. But you know, I can see that, that younger people would feel that same way about their own. So maybe that isn't fair. Maybe it isn't fair at all. The one thing I do think though, I think that the value system during those years was absolutely at its peak and I think it's been declining every since.

Jim: In what sense?

Adelaide: In what sense? Oh in just what's important to people, what matters. I'm not talking about religion, but that too. It seems like a lot of people have gotten away from thinking that there's anything bigger than themselves, I suppose, that would be what I would have to say that during that period of time there was this very strong sense of values and, and it came from our parents and then was just repeated and ground in with our teachers, but that's probably not quite the way it is now I don't believe.

Jim: You talked about some of the fun things, with the guys that were going off to war. I'm trying to imagine what it was like to know that, well, some of these guys didn't come back and some of these were kids you went to school with.

Adelaide: Oh we certainly did have that, in fact I was, I was in love with a, a Bombardier who was killed in a mission and that was very difficult, that took a while for me. I think I was probably 17 when that happened and it, you know it made me grow up a little. It was hard. I mean when you're that age, if you've known death at all its been with a grandparent or something like that and I hadn't even had a grandparent that had died so they were all living, well all except one who had died before I was born. So you see what I'm saying.

Jim: And now this was something that was sort of all around. I mean, you'd see these people get the telegrams and you'd see this.

Adelaide: Yeah it was, it was . . . it was dramatic and painful.

Jim: I've heard about these little flags that they used to put in the windows.

Adelaide: Everyone that had a service person in the war had a flag in their window, a special flag, we all flew flags, but if you had a son that was fighting in the war you had a special flag.

Jim: How did you get your news about the war when it was going on?

Adelaide: Well mostly the radio and the newspaper, of course there wasn't any television back in the dark ages.

Jim: You talk came up through the depression and then the war and you talked about that sort of exhilaration and that feeling of relief when the war was over. And in some ways that was the end of a long line of hard years for a lot of people wasn't it?

Adelaide: I think it was. I think it was hard, but here again I think people kind of rose to the occasion. That's what we had to do and life wasn't meant to be easy and nobody thought they were going to have a free ride. It was kind of the philosophy at the time.

Jim: Did you feel plugged into the, the national war effort living in Idaho? Did it feel like Idaho was as much a part of this as anybody else was?

Adelaide: Well you know Idaho was, is, kind of remote. It isn't as much anymore as it was then, but, we maybe got our news a little later and that sort of thing. We were isolated to a degree, there's no question about that. In fact, the whole west was, in a sense, and I think probably people on the Eastern Seaboard were kept better informed about day to day things. But of course there wasn't anything like television so you could get a vision of the battle.

Jim: Maybe that was good?

Adelaide: I think maybe it was. I think maybe so, I don't know that's, that's a good question. You'd think that would make people live it more, seeing it on television. But we certainly had a total commitment to what was going on.

Jim: Did you have things like Victory Gardens and all that kind of stuff?

Adelaide: Oh my yes! We had rationing and we had victory gardens, I kind of forgot about all of that. But we did, we grew vegetables. And there women who knitted sweaters for the boys overseas. There were a number of things that were rationed and rubber was one of them. So tires were few. You had to have a real good reason, like be a doctor, to have access to tires. And also gasoline, gasoline and tires and coffee and sugar. You had ration stamps. You could only have your share of all of that, but . . . I don't know . . . it was just the way it was.

Jim: You spoke earlier about how there was a great feeling of patriotism. How did people feel about these guys when they would come back? What was that like when they would come back and they were done with their service?

Adelaide: Oh they were all heroes every last one of them. There were huge parades and national parades you know like in New York and in Boise. They were honored, they were highly honored and I think they all felt really good about having served. There was a number of, well, two of my friends who were in a German prison camp and lived to tell about it, which was good. And then a couple of older fellows that went out with Morrison-Knudsen that were friends that were in the Japanese prison camp. And in fact, one of my husband's cousins was in the Japanese prison camp and they didn't fare as well. They probably lost years off their life expectancy because of it. Terrible time it was awful. It was, it was a little different I, I don't know, I don't think that the conditions in Germany were good, but, they weren't that bad. They didn't seem to be anyway. I mean I remember one of the fellows that was in a German prison camp made a bracelet for me out of coins, German coins. And he'd just fasten them, he'd drilled holes and fastened the coins together with little wires and I was just so thrilled with that.

Jim: What do you remember about the war wrapping up?

Adelaide: It was a big day of rejoicing. I can remember where I was and what we did and it was really funny everybody was downtown and we were all, we were all just, you know, running around in the street having a wonderful time and shouting and waving the flag. And a group of us girls decided we would go down the fire pole at the fire station, which used to be right downtown and so we did, and they let us.

Jim: How do you tell people what it felt like when that happened?

Adelaide: Well it's just such a relief, I mean when you realized that it was over, because it was oppressive. I mean that's probably why the music meant so much because there was always this concern about would somebody dying and some of them did.

Jim: And it sounds like there was a part of you guys that sort of had that patriotic feeling that we're doing this for the right reasons. But there had to be a lot of fear and worry beneath that.

Adelaide: Oh there definitely was and yet maybe it got buried a little bit in the need to be there to protect the country and this very, very strong feeling of patriotism that we all grew up with and the young men that went and fought in the war had.

Jim: I'm sure that you if you talk to younger kids today they might say, "What was it like?" What do you tell 'em? How do you sum it up to people what that was like?

Adelaide: Wow, that's a hard thing to sum up. It's kind of elusive to start with. It's not an easy thing to define. Oh dear, I'm a little at a loss to, to really say. It was, it was not a horrible time, it was, it was difficult and it was . . . there was some sadness, but there was also a whole lot of fun. And . . . I don't know it was . . . it was an interesting, interesting thing that it seems to have stood out as a different time.

Jim: Are there things you miss?

Adelaide: Things I miss. Not really, not really. I miss people, I think we all do. You'll lose your parents, you'll miss them. But as far as you can . . . you can make your life whatever you want it to be and if you want to live it in a way that things that you treasured as a child you actually can do that to some degree. So I guess not. It's a matter of progression and, and growing and hopefully becoming more spiritual.

Jim: When I started working on this project, it was important to me not just to focus on the war itself. I didn't want to just look at what was going on overseas in the war. Do you think its important to remember what people went through back here at home, I mean the Homefront, if you will?

Adelaide: Yes I think so. I think it's unique in that it was the last war that really involved the citizens. We haven't had one since that has. I mean the wars go on and we just seem to just live our lives and it's different, it's really different. Yes, I think probably it is important.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Jane Oppenheimer grew up in Boise and served with the Red Cross in Europe during World War II.

Jim: Where were you when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor and what was that like?

Jane: I was in New York and I had, I used to work in New York and then I'd come home for the summer, I had a list of jobs I wanted to do and then I'd uh come home, I, I wouldn't go back to the same job, I'd try a different occupation, but this particular time I had worked for American Airlines and I liked it so much and I was in their personnel department and so I told this man that I worked for, he was the head of the Personnel Department, Victor Vernon was his name and um so I said I'm going home. I wasn't his assistant I was his assistant's assistant, I was two down, but I liked him very much and uh so I told him the truth I was going home and he said well we can't hold the job for you obviously you know I was going to be home for three months so uh but he said we'll always have a job for you so I didn't have, I could come back and do it you know whenever I wanted there was no specific job. So when I went back I just played around New York for a month or so and while I was playing around New York uh Pearl Harbor happened, but before I came home uh I had this friend who was a man and he uh was with the uh Navy Reserve and he said to me, this was in the spring time, and he said, he wanted me to go down and talk to this Lieutenant Tweety by name who uh just to get on the thing, just in case they ever need, it was very perceptive of him, just in case they ever wanted somebody he just thought it'd be a good thing you know to that I might want a job down there sometime so I didn't think, get me on the books and the security checks and all of that. So I did it and then I came home and I didn't think any more about it, but then after Pearl Harbor came the next day I called him and uh he said come right down this minute you know because I was secure, I'd been checked, I was ready and so um I went to work for the Navy and it was Press, Press Censorship was what it was.

Jim: You know I've heard people talk about where they were when they heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed and what that was like because it was my sense that this was something that everybody knew something was going on obviously over in Europe and Africa and all over the place.

Jane: Yeah.

Jim: Where were you and what were the things that went through your mind when you heard that it actually happened?

Jane: I sort of thought the end of the world had come. I was actually at the (inaudible) Club for Women which is where I was staying and uh I just thought, I was absolutely stunned and I was going out for dinner, my sister lived in New York and her husband I had a date and the four of us were going out for dinner and we went out for dinner and um my sister and I went into the ladies room and I started to cry. I just thought the world would just never be the same and then I thought I've got to do something about this so then the next day as I said I called Lieutenant Tweety and said here I am. And so I went down there and . . . Now tell me if I'm going into too much detail.

Jim: It's fine.

Jane: So uh I went down it was down at 67 Broad Street down in the Financial District and it was very hush hush, very and so much so it was almost funny, but uh and there was this man named Commander Mikeler and they I was just this building bare, no furniture, no nothing and they sent me to Commander, Lieutenant Tweety sent me to Commander Mikeler so he said okay he was a very gruff man, and he said okay I'll tell you what go get a typewriter, a desk and uh get it, do it all before lunch because after lunch I want a typewriter on your desk and I want you ready. Well I didn't have a clue I just stood there, and he left, so I just stood there in this great big baron place and this man named, Skid Moore was his name, and he was a uh Yeoman and he'd been hear the conversation and he came over and he said what are you going to do and I said I have no clue and he said I'm going to help you so he, he knew his way around and he got a desk and he got a typewriter and when Commander Mikeler came back there I was sitting there with the thing so I worked for him for quite a while and then his assistant who I liked tremendously and I kind of ended up working for him for the rest of the time, but it was all these people from the New York Times, from the Sun, from the you know all the, from the newspapers and they would sit at this huge desk and they would read all these cables for they were censored and for instance if there was ever anything that said like heavy water which had to do with the you know with the (inaudible) then they'd delete it. But these men were all kind of high powered, one was named Pop Buyers and he was from the New York Sun and my uncle was with the New York Sun and uh I didn't want my uncle to know who I worked for you know because it was a secret and my uncle, like Pop Buyers this man he had a very good job at the Sun so this was a form of patriotism that people dropped everything because that's the way people were about the war.

Jim: You said just a second ago, you said when you heard about Pearl Harbor and what had happened that your first, your first impulse was that this was going to be the end of the world, but the next thing you said was that I got to do something about it.

Jane: Exactly yeah what can I do, exactly. And you know that was the case during the, that attitude you've heard this of course, but the attitude of people, it was the last good war, you know that people really you know, Rosie the Riveter and um it was something very inspiring about people giving up and changing their lives so completely for the good of their country, it's a form of patriotism that its gone away I think.

Jim: You said that Pearl Harbor when you heard about that, you thought that this is, this is going to change the world - did it?

Jane: It did yeah, yeah I was right on that one. But some of it about mixing people up you know and getting 'em out of their ruts and stuff was good, getting women out of the kitchen was good I think.

Jim: What did people think - I've seen these pictures - you were this lovely young lady who's living in New York, you're from Boise, and you decide to do something about this war. Did people think you were nuts, did they?

Jane: I don't think so and my, my parents understood, my father after I'd worked for the Press Censorship for a couple of years and enough was enough and I wanted to go oversees with the Red Cross and I felt very keenly about it and my father came back to New York and we had lunch at Francois Tavern and I explained to him I was going to go oversees and he said I was wrong and I wasn't. So he was very fair and he said um I'll tell you what we'll make a deal stay at this job, which I really kind of liked, stay at this job for a year and um I'll come back in a year we'll have lunch and if you still want to go okay. I thought that was fair. So and it wasn't such (inaudible) so I did, I guess I'd only worked for the Navy for a year then, so I stayed another year and he came back and I said I'm going so then he asked me one more thing would I come home for the summer and I said yep. So I did and I got in the Red Cross and um oversees I went.

Jim: You said you came back for the summer; help me picture a little bit what Boise was like then, you know, with the spirit of what was going on overseas - it always seems kind of like almost like this magical time in the world, but, but was it that way?

Jane: Yeah I think so and I think I did tell you a little about uh my mother and she was very active in the Red Cross she just always had been, not to do with the war, she just was one of her big interest and the March of Dimes she was very community minded. So when the war came she and other people uh started this, it was like a canteen at the Depot and uh she got church groups and clubs and everything and they would take one day and homemade food and all that because when the people, when the troops would come through on their way to the West Coast you see to go over to the CVI Theater uh lots of times, sometimes they wouldn't even let 'em get off the train, they'd have to take it you know and hand it to 'em, occasionally, sometimes they would let 'em get off, but uh Boise just I mean I don't think anyone every turned 'em down you know that the everybody wanted like any church group or any club wanted to be a part of it and the volunteers and the homemade food and every once in a while through the years I've bumped into people who uh who when I'd say I was from Boise, Idaho, they'd say oh that's where we got that wonderful, wonderful homemade food and the ladies that uh I don't know, they probably did it other places, but I don't know.

Jim: This town obviously wasn't as big as it is now, goodness.

Jane: Oh no, no, no it was you know very, you know I don't know figures, but I'd say more like 35 or 40,000.

Jim: It felt like a small town?

Jane: Oh yes and when you'd go down town you'd know everybody and it was a small town, it was a wonderful, I like what's happened to Boise because I think if, if it hadn't my, two out of four of my children live here, a lot of my grandchildren I know will come back, it's a much better place for people. People used to grow up and go away because it's a wonderful place to bring up children and it's a wonderful place to grow up in, but there was a gap in-between for single people or that where it wasn't, there was an age thing there where people didn't have that good of time.

Jim: Sure, no, I've lived in towns like that where it's kind of like, why stay, you know?

Jane: Exactly.

Jim: But you said you'd go downtown and everybody would know who you were . . .

Jane: Yeah.

Jim: Did people feel anymore united because of the war? I mean was that, that summer you came home that was kind of right, that would've been in the summer of '42 is that right, and they made a movie about it. Um what was, what was the spirit like you know in the streets.

Jane: Well we had Gowen Field and uh so Gowen Field was quite a presence here, in fact when I was home for the summer I almost married a man from Gowen Field and then I wouldn't gone oversees and met Arthur so it all worked out better the way it did, but um and we didn't get married because he thought he was going to go to China and I was going oversees and it didn't seem like the thing to do at the time, but I'm so glad I didn't, and when I came home, married, pregnant and so forth he was still here, he never, he never left Boise.

Jim: So you got to see what you missed?

Jane: Yeah.

Jim: Were you thrilled to go overseas? How'd you feel as you were heading over, did you take a boat over?

Jane: Yeah I went over, I'm never sure which is which because I went over on the Queen Elizabeth and came back on the Queen Mary or vice versa, but I went over on one and came back on the other one and uh so when I came back I came back with uh like 11,000 men or something I mean there was a big crowd. Arthur had gotten home before me, but it was a big crowd.

Jim: When you were on your way over - you're sitting there, you're heading over, I'm sure there was the excitement of the trip, there was excitement to be going over - but what was going through your head?

Jane: Excitement and it was something I knew I wanted to do and it was parts of it were very funny because um as I say it was so secure, you would've thought that the war was going to be won or lost by if they found out where these Red Cross girls and they took us over to a place in Brooklyn and kind of hid us and then they did say we were there for a few days waiting for transportation I guess and so um they did say we could call one person, make one phone call and meet somebody you know before we left and I called my sister and her and so we went to Longchamps, I was meeting with, but I mean the whole thing was like a bum movie.

Jim: Had you (inaudible).

Jane: Oh absolutely, absolutely you know and talk out of the side of your mouth and stuff like that.

Jim: Did people realize the gravity of the situation? There was a lot of good spirit, people were certainly galvanized and united, but, you can tell me, I'm not sure how fair it is to think of the war era as being all wonderful and everybody had a great time and all this stuff.

Jane: No, no there was a huge amount of gravity and people were very concerned and people were getting killed and no there was a tremendous amount of gravity, appreciation of the gravity of the situation. I hear what you're saying, but no I think people definitely, I think that's one of the reasons that people were so eager to serve, because they did realize they've got, or why you know women would go and work in the factories because, because of the gravity of the situation. I've, maybe some people did it for a (inaudible), but uh I don't think most people did.

Jim: I think we have a tendency sometimes to think of it as a, as a wonderful sort of golden era where there was wonderful music and, you know, there's so much nostalgia surrounding World War II and that era.

Jane: Yeah.

Jim: But I always wondered if it was like that at the time or did that mostly come as we got a little distance from it?

Jane: I think it, I think it came after we got a little distance from it. I think people uh were aware of the gravity, maybe not everybody, but I think, I think that people had a big, you know because they were losing people, you know people were getting killed so and I was at this rest home for flyers and that was kind of interesting because when you, well you can cut out some of this anecdotal stuff, but uh when I was in Washington they, you could, you know when you sign-up you go wherever they send you so they uh issued hot clothes so I knew I was going to the CBI you know over to the, that, well in the meantime Arthur and I'd gotten together and so I really didn't want to go to the ETO because you know I, I just didn't, but there's nothing I could do about it and I was going to get my shots and when you went to that part of the world you got Cholera you know I mean really Yellow Fever you got serious shots and I was lined up with all these people, all these other Red Cross people and this doctor, this is kind of a miracle and this doctor who was giving the shots when he came to me and he kind of looked at me funny and he said uh, he called me out of the line. I didn't know what I'd done wrong, so he said uh he took my temperature and I had 103 temperature or 104 some high temperature and he said you're not going any place so he said you're, you can't go with this group so uh he said you know you've got to wait and get a, I probably had the flu or whatever so uh my group, so the they went to the CBI and the next group that went, went to the ETO I was, and see I probably wouldn't have married Arthur if I'd gone to the CBI because we would've been, we wouldn't have seen each other for so long.

Jim: Now tell me what CBI and ETO stand for.

Jane: Oh China Burma Indian Theatre that's the over in the Far East and the ETO, you're just a little baby aren't you, European Theatre of Operations.

Jim: Gotcha, okay, say that to me again.

Jane: Chinese Burma India was over in that section that was in the far east and that was hot and (inaudible) and the um that was the Japanese part of the war and the European Theatre then ETO was the European Theater of Operations which was Europe you know the Germany part.

Jim: What did you do when you were at the rest home?

Jane: Well I'm glad you asked.

Jim: Well, I don't get the big bucks for nothing Jane, come on!

Jane: That's a good one. Well when I got to England and we were all kind of lined up with our gas masks you know ready to fight the war, but the first thing they did, they had us go to, well they had me go to be interviewed for um it turned out it was rest homes for flyers and it was a very small group, there were only 60 of us in the whole thing, which is a small group, and so when I got to there for my interview it turned out, all these things were so amazing that it turned out that uh one of the people, in fact she was here a couple of weeks ago, uh Katy Regan who lived, the Regan family lived in Boise and they were big and I'd always known the Regans, in fact Skip and Ester live in their house now. So Katy Regan was, she wasn't the one that interviewed me, but she was the, I suppose she put in a good word for me and um I still see some of these people in San Francisco, but uh so then I got into that rest home group and they sent me down to an Officers, see they take over these beautiful castles or homes and it was not exactly a rough life, but you could get tired of pleasure I found out too, but, but they sent me to (inaudible) and it was Officers and you, I just didn't like it I thought this is not what I came over here for it was just you know I, it was just nothing about it I liked, but we would go for, we'd have baseball games see the, the purpose of rest homes was that flyers like um sometimes there'd be if they'd had an accident or a nervous breakdown or something like that uh so or their mission, just something had happened, or sometimes they'd just felt they needed it, so at some point like usually halfway through their missions they'd send 'em to the rest home to one of our rest homes and so there was Officers rest homes and enlisted men. So, but we'd have ball games when I was at this Officers thing, I was only there for about a month, and uh go over to Hampton House and I never wanted to leave, I wanted to stay with those people and they had, there were, we had about 60 men every week that would come in and they, they were having a rotten time and it was just and they loved, they were so appreciative, so I put in for a transfer and I got it. So and so I served the rest of the time at Wall Hampton.

Jim: What kind of stuff were you doing when you were over there?

Jane: Just fun things, but as I say you get tired of like Monday we'd play volleyball, it was just and we'd give 'me civilian clothes and we'd call 'em by their first names you'd have to learn the 60 names every Wednesday and uh then we would go to the isle, we were right across from the isle of white, we'd go over to the isle of white was one day, horseback riding was one day, I've never liked horseback riding since it was so awful because these crazy, crazy boys they'd just let their horses run, oh it was awful a little how I learned, how I learned to dislike horseback riding. But uh um and oh we played games with 'em and we'd have um singing and we'd play bingo the it was just.

Jim: That was part of their rehabilitation?

Jane: This was rehabilitation for them and uh then also and we worked very hard on this, we wanted them to feel they could come back when they wanted to, which was hard to do because we were always full, but sometimes they'd come back and stay in the town and come and, and you know get to, so they felt and quite a few of the people I knew were killed that and one of them who was a very good friend of mine was killed uh after V.E. Day and uh they hadn't gotten the word you know so there were a lot of very sad moments, but uh I think it was, I felt it was a very needed thing, because I think it helped a lot of people uh and that book I can't find one of the people was from Idaho, he was the best looking man you ever saw, and he uh, he was from Northern Idaho, but I don't, I kind of lost track of him.

Jim: It must've been kind of an up and down thing; I mean there were parts where obviously you're doing wonderful work and trying to sort of (inaudible) these fella's spirits and things, but then they're going back to something pretty horrible?

Jane: Yeah it's a week out of their life, but uh you know and it's not like they're going to go home from there, but then the fact that they could come back, it gave 'em a little base to over there and the people in this little town, Limington, Enhampshire and uh it was uh they were just the English people were just darling, just wonderful and very good with the boys and then there was a butler and his name was Crooks and he looked, he was just perfect for the part and his wife was the housekeeper and so he'd um and he would treat the boys like the butler in the movies, sir you know, I mean this was you know somebody from Minneapolis who probably hadn't had a butler.

Jim: Now, you said if you hadn't gone to Europe you wouldn't have met your husband, how did that happen?

Jane: If I, what do you mean?

Jim: You said if had stayed in Boise, if you hadn't have gone oversees, you wouldn't have met your husband?

Jane: Well I wouldn't have married him.

Jim: You wouldn't have married him, okay.

Jane: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: How, how did that happen?

Jane: Well I actually had met him, but uh actually at a dinner party and I was with this, this person that gave the party's younger brother and I thought he was just darling and I kept looking down the table at him, but he wasn't looking back and so I'd met him and I went home and wrote in my diary and I still have the diary, I have finally met a man, and I was like 20, I have finally met a man I would like to marry, I didn't know I'd been looking that desperately, but uh so he and he used to take out, we had sort of connections and so uh we got together and got engaged, but we just kind of got engaged because, because we liked each other, but I don't think either one of us thought that chances were too good that we were going to ever get together with it, but we did. You know I mean that it was going to work out that we'd be in the same place and we didn't get married until we came back to New York and um got married.

Jim: So he was over in Europe or is he?

Jane: He was with OSS so he was going back and forth, Officers Strategic Services, which was a pre-runner of CIA and uh so he was kind of around so we used to occasionally meet in London, but the Red Cross and the Army did not like people to get married, they made it very difficult because they didn't want people to go around getting married you know making mistakes so we'd actually didn't get married until we got back to New York and he got home before I did and he was engaged to my mother because my mother came back, they planned the whole wedding at the plaza, they borrowed my a wedding dress for me and uh then I showed up and uh had a nice time at the wedding.

Jim: I'm thinking about what it would've been like to have been over there with this guy you're engaged to . . . did it almost feel ever like, like you were in some sort of a movie? I mean it had to feel, have a special feeling to it.

Jane: Well it was funny because and Arthur always teased about this I wouldn't let him come down to Wall Hampton House because he was a Major and I didn't want some Major coming down there and I have some funny little quarks, he was a very understanding man, but um and he had some narrow escapes, but um in London actually that uh, but uh he came through it.

Jim: Did the war bring people closer together do you think, I mean, not just families, but people - friendships and things like that?

Jane: I don't know that it did, um I can't think of a for instance that uh well I don't know I still see those Red Cross friends of mine, which says something, maybe it does. They live in San Francisco and they're not exactly spring chickens, but the one who was my boss at Wall Hampton House I saw her last month and um those have been very enduring, I guess it did because those have been very enduring friendships, you know much more than my college friends or any of that, so I guess it did.

Jim: Yeah, I would think it would. Is it for you a time that stands out in your life or does it sort of blend in to the tapestry of everything else?

Jane: Well I don't think about it a lot because um you know that was a long-time ago, I've thought about it more right now than I have in, and this morning when I was trying to find the books, but uh and one of the reasons that I'm doing this with Skip is I think it'll be interesting to my grandchildren at some point and they sometimes ask me questions, but I don't discuss it with them much. I had an uncle whom I liked very much and he was in World War I and every time he'd start to bring it up I'd say oh I think there's someone at the door you know what I mean.

Jim: Just didn't like hearing about it or just (inaudible) too much or . . . ?

Jane: It just, I think it just was not that violently interesting to me and I think I wouldn't want to overdue talking about it, occasionally in the pool one of my granddaughters says you know tell me some World War II stuff, but uh.

Jim: What do you tell her when she asks you about it?

Jane: Well actually she doesn't say, that's not the truth, she doesn't say tell me World War II stuff, she tells me tell me about when you had Polio she has, she has specific stories that she's. I don't know that they're violently interested in the war, it uh and lots of times something comes up and I say well if you want to know about it you have to buy my book.

Jim: What do you tell people when - I mean we're talking about the war and all these different parts of it - but when people [ask] you, what was it like? How do you answer that question?

Jane: Well actually it's so different for everybody's thing, because mine was not a typical oversees, even with the Red Cross mine was not typical because I was in that particular branch, which was a pretty choice branch and uh I think that some, in some ways I'm sort of sorry that I didn't get out giving out donuts because what I was, I liked what I was doing, but I don't think, I wasn't in the front lines. They were bombing it, I was halfway between South Hampton and (inaudible) and they did do bomb South Hampton and I, I did get up to London when they had the buzz bombs and stuff, but I didn't have to so uh and I was so impressed with the courage of the English, its generalizing, but uh they were so gutsy. And lots of times you know we'd go up there people would go in the shelters because they'd just figured it wasn't going to hit them and with the buzz bombs there wasn't warnings so it wouldn't have helped, you couldn't get in the shelters really, because you didn't have warning.

Jim: What did they think of Americans when you showed up? What did they think, how were you received?

Jane: Oh they loved us, oh you see England was just oh they loved us, we were kind of the saviors that uh and Churchill was and Roosevelt was so close, oh no we were very, very popular. And uh the nicest thing I ever did for my husband, I never let him forget it either, was he was a great admirer of Churchill's and we were in London one weekend and somebody had given me two tickets to go and hear Churchill at Parliament and I mean one ticket, one ticket and I gave it to him. I was glad I did, I said I'll have other chances, well I didn't, but uh so he got to hear Churchill who was his hero so that was nice.

Jim: When people talk about World War II they talk about Pearl Harbor and D-Day and V-E Day and all that; do those, do those days mean things to you when they, when they come around on the calendar or when you hear people?

Jane: No, no that was then and now is now, but uh in fact I don't even know what the date of V-E Day is. But we know I don't do dates that doesn't mean anything.

Jim: Do you remember where you were on D-Day?

Jane: No, but I sure remember V-E.

Jim: What was that like?

Jane: Well we just were celebrating like crazy and we all got, we got, we all put on our best clothes and, and you can imagine it was just, it was thrilling.

Jim: It must've been thrilling, sounds like it's sort of an understatement.

Jane: Yes, yea it was, It was, but then VJ day (Victory over Japan day) that didn't, I was married by that time and living in Washington, and that didn't happen, I'd been married I guess about a month or so and Arthur was going overseas to that part of the war and I was coming home on my little sojourn, Boise, and Arthur never let me live that down, because, after VJ day he said I said, I don't think I said this but he said I said does that mean I don't get to go home for the summer, I don't think I said that.

Jim: That's alright, it makes a good story.

Jane: Yea I always like to tell by the story.

Jim: I know you were you were all over the place during the war; if you were trying to tell your grandkids what Idaho was like then - what was it like, were there dances . . . ?

Jane: Yes, and um, there was a very active social life here because of Gowen field, and so people were entertained at Gowen field people, there was a fellow, oh I think he was Mountain Home, but named Killer Kane because he'd been in one of the big battles I guess killed, oh I don't know, but anyway he was referred to as Killer Kane, but ah, oh there was, Boise was very entertaining the troops. . . . I think Killer Kane was at Gowen Field.

Jim: What do you remember about stuff like the music back then? It seems like we had some great music that came out of that era.

Jane: Well one was, uh, that the boys used to sing all the time and one of the Red Cross people, see we'd have sing-a-longs after dinner and Jeanie and I and this friend of mine kind of played the piano and kind of improvised and it was lovely, and one, do you want to hear one, I won't sing it, I don't sing, um, I want to go home, I want to go home, those P51's they rattle and roar I don't want to fly over Berlin no more, take me out to LA, let me watch those war workers play, oh nuts, I ain't got no guts I just want to go home. I can't remember what the tune was obviously, but. I haven't thought of that for a long time.

Jim: Today the war going on overseas has a whole different feel than it did back then, it seems . . .

Jane: Totally, totally, it's so different that it's almost impossible to even compare them, that and a soldier then, as I say people wanted to wine and dine and would do anything in the world for them, just anybody in uniform was really revered. And that's hard for you to picture that, but um, really revered.

Jim: It seems like there was almost a sense that all those people were heroes.

Jane: Yeah, just the fact that they were, and people that didn't go to war you know, 4F's and why were they 4F's, um, I had one cousin who I always kind of liked, but I didn't like him as well cause he tried to get out and it was the only person that I know in that whole thing, and I knew a lot of people, I think he was the only person that didn't, that was trying to find ways to get out. It was so universal, you see and that was of course not true of Vietnam or any wars that you'd know about.

Jim: Was there a sense that you really knew what you were fighting for back then?

Jane: Yes, I think so, I think so, that's a good question. There was some vent, or people wouldn't have felt so (inaudible)

Jim: When you talk about Pearl Harbor being bombed and wanting to do something and then other people went and people didn't try to get out of it . . . what was the essence of the (inaudible)?

Jane: I think that people felt we could loose America, you know, if Germany and Japan won, I think there was a feeling that we could loose America. I think there must have been that kind of feeling that um, and I think that uh, there was a huge patriotism and revered the flag, you know, all, it was a whole different ball game, I don't know exactly where it, well, it was maybe a more understandable war, kind of good and bad and right and wrong, but it certainly, that's one of the biggest changes that's happened in life, I think when you, when people they revered the soldiers and Roosevelt was a very good war time President because he is, fireside chats and um, it appealed to people, he put it, and Churchill, it made people want to do something I think.

Jim: We were back in D.C., one of the places we went was the Roosevelt memorial, have you been there?

Jane: Yes, fairly recently.

Jim: There's that bronze cast of the guy leaning over and listening to the radio like with the fireside chats; that was something I think people don't even know what that is.

Jane: Yeah, see I went at spring break last year with some of my grand people and Doug, and we did all the tourist things, and you know I've been in Washington a lot and I'd never done all those tourist things and it was just wonderful. I'd never seen the Vietnam thing,

Jim: That was some great stuff.

Jane: And I'd never seen those huge Korean soldiers.

Jim: Yeah where they are walking across the field kind of thing.

Jane: I didn't even know about that.

Jim: Well, what was it like when the radio would come crackling to life and Roosevelt would come on and talk about this stuff?

Jane: People would kind of hang on his every word, but uh, a lot of people didn't like Roosevelt at all, my father didn't, he was a big Republican, but uh, I think Roosevelt did an awful lot of good.

Jim: When he came on everybody knew it and it seems life kind of stopped.

Jane: Yeah, people wanted to hear him and I think the same was true of Churchill over there, that uh, and we'd have British girls come over, we'd have dances at our Walhampton house, we'd invite some of the, I forgot what they called him, it was like our WAF, but you know, they'd come over and uh, it was very much, we were very in tune with the British at uh, and they wanted us to, they wanted those boys to have a good time, it was, I make it sound like a, but it was true, it was very much more like the world should be and I'm sure that I was in a pocket where things, you know it was a small town and everything, I'm sure there were places that weren't as ideal as this, but.

Jim: You went and did your part, other people, your husband or future husband at that time - what was it like for the people that were left back at home, I know you were here, but, what did you think, what did you hear from them?

Jane: Well, one thing there was very active here and they did a wonderful job with the gray ladies, and they were um, volunteers like in the hospitals and stuff, and I can't remember exactly , but there was a very strong feeling about the gray ladies that worked in the hospital. People, um, that were here, you know, like my mother and people, they did, people tried to find something to do for the war effort.

Jim: It seem like this would have been one of the towns, that the way some people describe [it] almost seems like it has a Normal Rockwell feel to it. Was that true?

Jane: I think so, I think so, 'cause everybody was sort of, and as I say I think the fact that Gowen Field was here, and I can't remember when Mountain Home really got going, whether um, 'cause I think most of this was Gowen Field.

Jim: What was that like . . .?

Jane: You mean VE Day?

Jim: Yeah

Jane: Well see, it was still going on with Japan, so it wasn't really over. And, I mean there was all that joy, cause I was over in that theatre, but um, and then as I say, Japan, my reaction was, can I go home, but um,

Jim: What was it like going home?

Jane: Well, I was married and pregnant and all kinds of things, my life, you know, another chapter was great. and my interest had changed, we were staying in this house actually, but we were going to have our first child and we didn't want to have our first child with mommy and daddy, and so we bought the only house in Boise that was for sale, and it was on North 23rd street, in fact I went by it just last week, somebody wanted to go by it, but so you know, I, life was completely different and lovely.

Jim: I bet it was different in a lot of ways, wasn't it, at that time

Jane: The re-entry?, Yea. I think maybe if I hadn't been going into such a, you know, marrying Arthur and having kids and stuff, I think some people like even my Red Cross friends, the re-entry could be very difficult. And one friend of mine joined the Quakers and went, worked with the Quakers in Europe, and um, it's a funny thing, because out of the group of my friends, you know like that I still see and stuff, I don't think, there was only one that was happily married. I think that there was re-entry problems for a lot of people.

Jim: I guess when you look at the landscape of your life, um, how does that fit in, the war era, I mean not just the being over there, but that time period? You said earlier that it's not something that you think a lot about, but what kind of a piece if the puzzle is it?

Jane: I don't know, 'cause I really don't think about it, you see, that was then and now is now, and that was a long time ago and so many things have happened to me in the meantime that it would, it would be very seldom that it would come to mind probably, you know, and then I married Arthur and he took me on a trip around the world, he never let life get very dull, so I was very lucky, you know, that I went into a wonderful life.

Jim: I think everybody that we've talked to, their view of WWII and that era has been a little different, it's definitely not a cookie cutter kind of thing.

Jane: Yeah.

Jim: And some people really feel it is the thing that stands out in their life.

Jane: I think so. I think so and now I haven't finished my part of the Tom Brokaw book, I haven't, and I, you know, the Greatest, what is it?, the Greatest. I have to read that again. But I think for some of them, and maybe I'm wrong cause I haven't read it that thoroughly, that was the high spot in their lives, which is too bad.

Jim: Why, how come?

Jane: How come . . .

Jim: Why is it too bad?

Jane: I wouldn't want WWII to be the high spot in my life, I think that says something about the rest of your life, don't you? If WWII which was quite a few years ago, was the high spot in your life, something is missing, I mean, it was a chapter, and it was an interesting chapter and I've never had a moment's regret that I did it, but I certainly wouldn't want to think that it was the high spot in my life.

Jim: Is it fair to call that the greatest generation?

Jane: I don't know, that's a good question, I don't know that it's fair, I think, probably, I never thought about it, I think there are just as many greatest people now as there were then. No I don't think it's the greatest generation, I think for sure there is just as many great people now as there were then.

Jim: That seems like a very optimistic view of the world.

Jane: Yeah, I've got to read that, like I said I read that a little then I put it down and I've never really gotten back to it.

Jim: Well, sometimes I almost feel like it's said that this was a wonderful era and everything else kind of . . . I guess when I say you almost seem more optimistic when you say that [is] because I think some people think that we've been on a long slide since then . . .

Jane: Yeah, well there has been such radical changes and when people talk about the good old day, I can see how they do because there were an awful lot of things about the good old days that were, but I think that right now, things are very, there are quite a few things I'd change, but um, there are an awful lot of good things right now that, you know, when I want to tear myself up when things are not good, I may have told you this, I read history, because I think it's encouraging, you know, when the industrial revolution people thought that was the end of the world, they were loosing there jobs, or the depression people, you know, just thought, it seems as what I'm trying to say is, it seemed as bad then, if you were in the depression, as things now, when things are bad in so many different way, but to the people who were living through the depression that seems as bad to them as you know, things seem bad to people now.

Jim: And as good to them. I hear people talk about the depression, and talk about the good things that happened during the depression, how it brought people together and how it had these moments that were so wonderful . . . [but] you know, it was a tremendously difficult time period.

Jane: Yeah, or the Civil War. I mean I've always thought that would have been the worst time to live through, you know, brother against brother, and um, so I think probably, um, I'm sure people that lived through the civil war thought things were just (inaudible). We came through it.

Jim: Was the war era, was that really a simpler time, were they really the good old days>

Jane: WWII? No I think they really were, because the good old days is a form of nostalgia, you know the good old days were when you went downtown and everybody knew ya. But um, I'm sure there were the same number of problems you know, little itty gritty problems that there are now and I think that a lot of people now look back on this as the good old days, it's a little harder to figure why but

Jim: And as you said a little bit earlier, the war wasn't always the sort of wonderfully golden nostalgia thing, it was a reward . . .

Jane: And people were getting killed. And if you had a son or a loved one over there, you know, of course it wasn't the good old days. Or separation, to have your husband you know, back to Rosie the Riveter, to have your husband overseas and the separation, so they really weren't the good old days. The separations, the deaths, you know, I was talking in kind of a light minded way, but all those other things, those are not good old days.

Jim: Well, and people used to put up - what were the flags people used to put up? They had a star on them - and people would hang those in windows and things like that.

Jane: Was that if somebody was killed?

Jim: I think that's what they were, like if you had one if you had someone in the service and if they were wounded or killed or something like that.

Jane: I don't know.

Jim: But you hear about friends that never came back, and family members that never came back and so it couldn't always have been such great old days.

Jane: Or, came back so changed. You know, of course, you hear more about how people came back from Vietnam so changed, but I think a lot of WWII veterans came back and were not ever the same, or for some of those boys I knew as I say, that friend of mine that was killed after war and that just seemed, somehow they didn't get word and so they went on a mission and the war was, VE day had come and gone, I can't remember all the details but that just seems to awful to me and I got a letter from him, after I heard he was killed, and that was so spooky, you know, that whole thing like that was so spooky.

Jim: We talked a little bit about your grandkids, and even your own children; there must have come a time, especially with your own children and perhaps it will still come with your grandchildren, where they say, Grandma, what was the war like? I know that I talk to my grandparents about that stuff . . . What do you tell them? Is that too long and complicated of an answer or is there a way to sum that up to tell people?

Jane: I say, read my book. Buy the book. . . . . I told you to Skip, when he said I was getting a little ahead of my time, I said should I go on Oprah, that was when Katie Curric was, I said which one do you, Skid thought maybe we should have more than 80 pages before I made my plans.

Jim: Probably so, before the press agent start really working.

Jane: Yes, I agree, we may have to have a little more than that.

Jim: But I know that something, when they ask you a question like that, something must come to mind for you.

Jane: Actually, they haven't asked me.

Jim: Well, I'm asking.

Jane: And what's the question?

Jim: How would you sum that up? Is it a huge answer or is there a way to say it was this or that?

Jane: It's a huge answer. I couldn't answer you because it was different things to different people and um, I can only do it from my desk, you know. So, I couldn't, it's to big a question and it depends on sort of, um, well what would we be discussing, are you talking about you know, was it depressing, was it sad, it's different things to different people at different times.

Jim: When you were in the middle of it all, did it seem that you would look back one day and think of this as nostalgia?

Jane: No, no I was too busy living and then also I was never frightened, and it's not that I'm so brave, it's human nature or youth or whatever, even when I went into the Savoy that night and all these peoples houses had been bombed because it was a section where the people that worked there and they'd had all these terrible bombings, even then, you never think it's going to hit you, I think that's human nature. Your not going to get run over, the buzz bomb isn't gonna come down where you are and I think that's why people are such survivors cause you know it's not gonna hit you.

Jim: Did you ever think we were going to lose?

Jane: I think there was some frightening moments when England you know, like the song, "There Will Be Blue Birds over the White Cliffs of Dover" - do you know that song? I'm not going to sing it, don't worry. No I think there were moments that it were frightening that it was possible to loose the war or that England would have had it, you know. Yeah.

Jim: Knowing what happened I think there is always the feeling that, from younger people maybe who don't think about it that much, well yes it must have been bad, but at the time you didn't know if you were gonna win or lose, or how it was gonna go.

Jane: No, there were definitely times, when, so, when I say it was kind of nostalgia and happy, you know, there were, I didn't make that clear that there were times when it was very worrisome, whether we were going to win or not. But ah, yeah I kind of overlooked that fact. Good point.

Jim: Was that something people talked about? I mean, was it sort of taken for granted that when it's over and we all go back to our lives, or was it a big question mark, kind of an open ended thing?

Jane: Well you know that famous quotation, there is nothing to fear but fear itself, so people did have fears, have I got that right? Nothing to fear but fear, I've got it almost right, close enough. Was that Churchill or Roosevelt?

Jim: I think that was Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. And fear can be kind of scary, if you don't know what . . . I mean this being a true world war and the different time . . . I guess what I'm trying to ask is - were people confident that it was going to be won, or did you think that the world truly might change and that everybody in Boise would be speaking German or Japanese?

Jane: I don't think that I ever got as far after that first night, I don't think that I ever got as far as thinking it was going to be fought on our soil, you know, now we think about it, but you know, cause the missiles and all that, but I don't think I pictured in my mind that it was ever going to be fought on our soil.

JIm: Were you aware, did people talk about Hitler and Mussolini and all that? Was that a regular conversation that people talked about?

Jane: It depended on the person. My grandmother who was a darling woman, I loved her very much, but she never went out and she was kind of an invalid, and she had 6 children and she lost her husband early on, and she was just a wonderful wonderful woman, but she worried herself to death. For one thing, she had some relatives that were still in Bavaria or still in Germany and my grandmother was a real worrier, and then she did bring over some people, you know the family did, but oh I think some people particularly if they had kind of connections over there, did worry, a lot.

Jim: Did your husband talk about it much after the war?

Jane: No not really, it was more antidotal, that, you know, more about his experiences and stuff. And his experiences, well the OSS was like CIA it was, kind of hush hush, so uh.

Jim: When you got back, you're married, you're pregnant, and you're on to the rest of your life - it must have been kind of an interesting and exciting time I would think.

Jane: Yes, I don't think we spent too much time thinking about, ah, you know we were moving onto other things. You'd have like my husband, he was darling, if I do say so. 55 years, I ought to know.

Jim: Well, he certainly had good taste in women.

Jane: Oh, that's very suave.

Jim: Well, it's just honest. You must have felt that being over there with him, you must feel like you guys went through some really interesting times together.

Jane: Yea, well I had a cousin who lived in London, she was actually American but she lived in England, married an Englishman, and her name was Eanne and she was a wonderful woman, and their house was totally bombed, I mean total. So they took an apartment at Grovener House, Grovener Hotel which is also where the officers club and a lot of things were, so sometimes when I'd just get sick of all those people, I'd go up there for the weekend and stay with them and stuff. And she was the head of, I guess it ran in the family, I think it was a Houston Station, one of the biggest railroad stations, she did that over there, and she had three children, and her children, that was when they sent children away you know, and so she sent her 3 children with their Aunt, typical English woman, oh she was so pretty, she was born in Britain, but so they came over and they came to visit us in Tahoe, this was before we were in the war. That was so hard on people like Eanne Lewis because they didn't see their children, they didn't know if they were going to ever see them again. The separation for English people and it was kind of their duty to get them out of there, that's when they thought England was going to be so totally bombed and those children really, I kind of lost track of them, it's to bad, cause when I was in London I thought I shouldn't just let that go, but I really don't even know exactly how to find them, but I may do something about that, but, the daughter did come to visit me in Boise within the last few years and she was a kind of an odd little duck, and you could see she's never married, it had a very bad effect on a lot of those children, their lives, you know, separated from their family and not knowing what there, it was awfully tough on people like Eanne Lewis.

Jim: Are there any things, as you look back, and I'll wrap this up with you soon, but are there any things you look back on from that time and kind of miss?

Jane: Like what?

Jim: Um, events that used to happen, stuff you used to do, people you used to know, places you used to go to, the way things were.

Jane: No. And when I was in London, you know last week, week before last, I don't know my way around London at all anymore because it's so different. And London, have you been to London? I mean recently?

Jim: Um, I'm think it's been about 5 years.

Jane: Because for some reason, I imagine that's about what I had been, it's so light and bright. They've cleaned it up somehow. And I don't mean from the war years cause you know we've been back a few times since, but ah, I don't know the buildings all look cleaner and I had a different feeling about London.

Jim: Think they did a bit of scrubbing?

Jane: Something that just happened, and maybe because I was staying with John and Dee Dee and I was staying in a residential area and it was so pretty, so that may have been part of it. Oh and this house, all John ever says it's so small, well he is sorta right, the house isn't so small but the rooms are so small and you know there 4 flights up and my room, I was the only one who got to stay there because I fit in better because I'm not that big I guess, but my room was smaller than from here to that wall, and it had room for one double bed, well I kind of liked it because I'd just sit there on the bed and reach for this and reach for . . .

Jim: It was so small you had to go outside to change your mind. Well, like I said, I was going to wrap this up, but is there anything, for people who are listening to what you have to say, is there anything, or any thoughts you want to leave them with as to what that time was like or anything that occurs to you.

Jane: Well, I'd like to say something brilliant and inspirational so, could you tell me something brilliant and inspirational.

Jim: See that's why I'm talking to you because I'm empty. Is there anything you think people should know about what that time was like, maybe that they don't quite grasp?

Jane: I don't know, I don't think I could sum it up in a sentence 'cause I don't know exactly what I think would, I'd like to say something brilliant, but you'll have to see me on more of a brilliant (inaudible).

Jim: Do you think people understand what it was like, what the war time was like?

Jane: What age group are you talking about?

Jim: I guess anybody, anybody who looks back at it.

Jane: I don't think so. I don't think you can, I don't think my kids can, I'm sure my grandkids can't, um, no I don't think there is anyway really, you can read about it and get an idea, you know, a lot of books have been written about it, from different view points, so you can read about it. I think it's the sort of think you really had to live through, cause there was so many different facets and it depended on who and where you were. So I don't think that there is anyway I could capsulize it because it would depend so much on the person, does that make sense?

Jim: It's interesting, it sounds like something that no matter where you were [or what] you really did, people seemed like they didn't float around the periphery of life, but [as] you said you had to live through [it], and that seems sort of an apt way to put it I guess.

Jane: Yeah, because there is nothing I can think of right this minute in your life or mine that would be comparable to then, you see, cause you certainly can't compare the wars or any war since, so, there is no way to compare it, and you know a lot of things we make up our minds about is because we are comparing it with something we've experienced. So I don't think there is any way that a person could have much understanding about it, they could read about it and get some understanding, but I think you had to be there, so what do you think of that?

Jim: I like that.

Jane: Is that profound enough for you?

Jim: Well I think it's more profound, 'cause I think that sometimes people think that they do understand it, but I think that's sometimes why it comes off seeming so, or people tend to write it off as being such this wonderful golden nostalgic era, because they weren't there.

Jane: Yeah, and which it wasn't you know, as I say, I've gone on the light side on some of it, but it wasn't. OK the interview is over because when you start repeating yourself, it means that the interview is over.

Jim: Well but it's interesting that people seem to almost want to put it in this little golden box, I think.

Jane: Are you talking about people like the greater generation, the people that were there?

Jim: Those too, but I think it's more the historians, the collective . . .

Jane: Like Tom Brokaw and the Greater Generation?

Jim: Maybe yeah, and I don't mean to trivialize that, but it just seems from the people I've talked to that it was something you lived through; it wasn't something that anybody could necessarily ignore.

Jane: Yeah, and I think that people rise to the occasion, look at Churchill who rose to the occasion, Roosevelt, you know people rise to the occasion very often. We need somebody to rise to the occasion right now.

Jim: No, this is it, just when you start thinking about these things I always have to remember to (inaudible). It was an interesting time, and I think you're right - you can't get it unless you live through it and I think people enjoy hearing these kinds of stories and that's one of the things I hope that when people watch this, they get a different perspective from it; that it's not just the same old, Pearl Harbor was horrible and this and that, that it doesn't become trite.

Jane: Yeah, well you know, I kind of lost that thought there. Oh, I think, that I used to feel sometimes sort of guilty, I'm not saying I was having a good time, well I was having kind of a good time, but um, I think, I hope I was accomplishing something with some of those boys and I, but I feel sort of guilty because I wasn't out in the trenches and I feel guilty because I wasn't suffering. But , my suffering wouldn't have changed anything, I wasn't suffering, I wasn't hurt, I was doing the best I could, but I was having kind of a good time. Which gives you the guilts.

Jim: Sure, sure, but it seems like you were helping folks that were . . .

Jane: I hope so, and I think so cause I used to hear from them quite a bit afterwards and stuff, in fact, it's a wonder that Arthur didn't divorce me, because he wrote me some beautiful letters but I destroyed them, but I saved the ones from the boys, and he couldn't quite understand that, but I said I was going to be with him the rest of my life and I thought it was important to save those of people I'd never see again. It was a little hard for him to grasp. Where were his letters, gone.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Robbie and Joan Robinson live in Boise. They met in high school and were married just before Robbie was sent overseas. Robbie wrote the book, Navy Wings of Gold about his experiences in World War II and those of other notable veterans such as George H.W. Bush.

Jim: When we talked a couple weeks ago, you talked about being up in Alaska and wanting to join; why did you want to join up and get into this?

Robbie: Well, I had gone to Alaska, of course it was during the depression, and we sailed up in an 18' sailboat, we only had seven and a half dollars when we got there and were gonna live off the land and that was pretty naive because it was wet on the coast and cold in the interior, so by the end of that fall I decided I'd go on and go to the University of Alaska, and made my way to Fairbanks and went up to the president, and told him that I didn't have any money but I'd like to go to school and he says would you clean the blackboards and sweep the floors and there's an old cabin down at the end you can throw out a sleeping bag and there's a stove in there and sign up, so I did. But there's no way I could learn to fly but an army pilot flew in and they were recruiting people to take CPTA training because I guess they figured they needed a pool of flyers sometime and they'd select 20 in the university and that's the only way I'd ever get to learn to fly and I was very fortunate to be selected as one of the 20 and that started me on my flight career and finished that year with a commercial rating.

Jim: How did you end up getting into the service?

Robbie: Well, I got back and I, when the war started we were really impressed with the British holding off the Germans, you know, in the early days of the war, so I volunteered to go into the Eagle squadron, that was Americans that would fly, and I got a letter back saying that they would keep it on file and so I thought it was best, I just had one more year at the university, so I went back to University of Southern California where I had started and had 2 years and ah, graduated in Economics. And I graduated in February but on December 7th I was working for Douglas at nights to pay to finish up my college at USC and so the next day it was logical not to go into the Eagle squadron and so on the 8th, the day after Pearl Harbor, I went and signed up to apply as a naval aviation cadet at the Long Beach Naval Air Station.

Jim: What went through your head when you heard the news about Pearl Harbor.

Robbie: Well, working nights and then going to school full time was very difficult, physically on me, so I'd rest up during the weekends and my folks lived in Long Beach, so I was there for the weekend on Sunday morning and I remember very well the upstairs apartment where they had a condominium and hearing the news over the radio while we were eating breakfast and it was a great shock to us because we knew it was gonna change our lives so as I went back to the University that afternoon, well I drove back up there to go to school again next week, why I realized that the thing for me to do is probably to go down and sign up. That's what everybody, well I wasn't alone you know, people were anxious to get in and do what they could to help.

Jim: It seems like there was that kind of spirit in the country, people heard about what happened and, well obviously people were aware of what was going oversees in Europe and in Africa and Asia and these things, but when the Pearl Harbor attack happened there was a spirit that people really did want to pitch in, sort of what can I do?

Robbie: It was totaled, and we had the recruiting officers were running DSC camps, I remember that Monday morning when I went to class, why they were already out and people were lined up there and I joined what was known as the Navy Flight Squadron after we were chosen from USC, it was just a gimmick because we never saw each other after we finished training, we weren't sure it was a squadron at all but we went into various phases of flight training, but you know, that spirit carried over for the entire 4 or 5 years that the war went on, there was never any question, I begin to wonder now if they had had the television today if we'd ever won that war. It's just a different feel, these women would help and build the ships and worked and we had tremendous curtail was put on in terms of gas and food and a lot of things and I don't remember anybody ever complaining about.

Jim: When you signed up, were you confident that you were going to be able to fly and do all that stuff?

Robbie: Well I hoped that I would, I was more confident than some because I had a commercial rating when I went in there and I've heard tales, you had to fly the Navy way and so I never let on that I was a pilot at all and that was a great advantage to me because I'd get in and say, what's a stick, or what's a rudder, how do you make this thing go, you know, I really felt sorry for the young fellows that got in there and never had any experience in the air, because that was the place of elimination training, when they washed you out, they didn't want to waste time on somebody that didn't have the ability to fly and I got through without a lot of that pressure, and so I gave a lot credit to those fellows that made it without any previous experience or background in flying.

Jim: Where was the first place that you were sent when you were in service and started really getting into it?

Robbie: Well, elimination training was in Long Beach at the Long Beach Naval Air Station, and that lasted about 3 months and then in April I remember I finished my final flight check and was sent to Corpus Christi which was the University of the Air and that was quite an experience because it had just been built and there were 3,000 cadets down there and uh, it was the first time I had been in a, kind of a military environment.

Jim: And then from Corpus Christi where did you go? What was the next stop?

Robbie: Well we went through primary trainings at Corpus Christi and then after primary training we went through basic training and then when we went into our specialized training they asked us what squadron's we wanted to go into and be trained, well that was right after the battle of Midway and all of the torpedo bombers had been knocked down at that battle and they were in need of torpedo pilots and so they asked our class how many would volunteer to go into a torpedo work. And I don't know why, it's kind of a stupid thing to do as I look back on it, but you know, there was about 30 of us stepped forward and we were the first ones every to be trained and specialized torpedo work, before that time all the torpedo pilots had come out of dive bombers and fighters and us, so we went through that specialized training and so I got my wings and then was sent to Opelika Florida for operational training and uh, there I flew some of the remaining planes that the Navy had, that was the first time we were actually got into operational planes.

Jim: We talked about Pearl Harbor and everybody wanting to join and then you talked about being in training when Midway happened, what was it like to be training and in the service and going through all that and hearing about all this stuff that was happening overseas that most likely you were going to be headed to?

Robbie: Well, it was very sobering, I think when we first got in, why it was a big kind of lark and adventure but when we got the reports, you see both Germany and Japan were stronger military powers than we were after Pearl Harbor. And so, here we we're having to fight war on two fronts with forces and equipment that wasn't up to the par as far as the Japanese and the Germans that we had to face, so it was pretty sobering. And yet I don't remember any hesitation, it was just taken for granted that that was what we were to do, so then I was assigned, after qualifying on the carriers, as a carrier pilot and assigned to an operational squadron, VC7 which was organized at Sand Point Naval Air Station in Washington and we got some of the first in Avengers torpedo's and that was the plane that I flew. Ah, as far as combat was concerned that was the plane that I flew on the carriers.

Jim: Now it was sometime right around then that I think, and my chronologically may be a little off here, but sometime right around then you met somebody who ended up being pretty special to you.

Robbie: Yes, I realized after I came home, well it was a very difficult time because the day that qualifying on the carrier, there was 12 of us that went off, it was an English carrier out of, in Norfolk Virginia, a cold January day, and that morning, of the 12 of us, 3 of them were killed and one of my friend spun in right in front of me on his approach and I can remember that I came on in and landed on the carrier deck, and I don't know why we were on an English carrier to qualify, never did figure that out, but anyway that's what we were told to do and this English crewman got up on the deck and he said, keep up your speed up, we've lost already 3 today, you got 3 more landing to shoot and I think I was more terrified than any time, really in the war, and finished up that qualifying and then brought the wife of my friend who'd been killed that morning, back to Nebraska, they'd only been married 29 days, so I guess when I got home, I went to a girl I had known but never gone with or seen actually for 2 years, but was a very special girl in our High School, we went to Long Beach Poly, although I was older than she was when we first went out and I hadn't seen her for a long time and asked her if she'd come up. I sent her a ticket if she'd come up and we'd get married. So, that took a lot of courage.

Jim: It took more courage than landing on the English carrier.

Robbie: No, not for me, my part, but for her part I think, because actually we thought we would go right out, we'd probably have at the most 30 days together and that we would go out and of course torpedo pilots were pretty expendable at that time, so but we were pulled out at the last moment and not sent out because they wanted to send us out for special training in night work in the dessert out of El Centro California and we were lucky our squadron didn't go because the other squadron that went out, they went out and were on Allisca Bay and they all got killed when Allisca Bay got hit in the morning and they were sitting over all that high test gasoline and the whole squadron was wiped out and then after we were trained for this first night attack, that kept us in the states, we had almost a year together and during that time, that's when our squadron was pulled out and they said there was some special work we want you to do with Cal Tech and that's when we developed the first air to ground missiles and I had the privilege of being sent out there to work with Cal Tech and to fire the first missiles that were fired from an aircraft and that was December 3rd, 1943, and we were married on March 23rd so we'd had 10 months together, and so we didn't go out until January 2, 1944 on the aircraft carrier Manila Bay, so we had almost a year together.

Jim: And you thought at the time, that that could be it, you didn't know what was gonna happen, you didn't know when and if you were coming back.

Robbie: No, in fact we didn't even know where we were going, even after we got to Pearl we knew we were going somewhere, but then we flew off from fort, after the carrier left Manila Bay and in the morning, and then that evening we flew out and landed on the Manila Bay and there was a tremendous task force, hundreds of ships and they were going somewhere, and we was coming into land and we would let the fighters land first because they didn't have the fuel capacity that we had in the Avengers and the first plane that landed crashed and blew up and I was flying wing on the skipper and he was just shaking his head, you know at the beginning. Fortunately the pilot jumped out before he was injured, before the plane, and they just through it over the side of the carrier then we came in and landed and it was that night before we knew where we were going and they told us we were going to Marshall Islands for the first major invasion of the Pacific War.

Jim: What did you think when you found that out, because I'm sure they could have sent you almost any place, but to be part of something that significant?

Robbie: Yes, it was a special feeling and I remember going up in the evenings and sitting in the cockpit of my plane on the fan tail and just looking at the sea and thinking about a lot of things. Because, and I wasn't alone, we were young, I was one of the older ones in the squadron, actually outside the skipper I was 24 but we had kids 18 years old, 19, 20 all of our, I don't think there was any of our flight or cover pilots that were less than 20 years old, I mean they were less than 20, so they were pretty young kids.

Jim: So, what did you think about when you were sitting out there?

Robbie: Oh, home, and wondering what was going to happen and there was some apprehension because, ah, we weren't sure what was ahead of us.

Jim: Tell me about the first time that you really got into combat.

Robbie: Well, the first ah, I remember flying because I was leading one section, there were 220 planes around us and uh, there was a pretty amazing feeling to be a part of an amazing striking force, but it's pretty impersonal, and you could drop the bombs as directed by the officers, we didn't have any aerial, by that time the, any air opposition had been knocked down and you could feel the concussion of the bombs after they went off, but uh, it was right after that that I, we were always assigned on patrol for prowling submarines and so I was sent out on a patrol and loaded, and it was a plane I hadn't flown before because in the Navy you don't get your planes, it was TBM3E but you had to be catapulted off and I had a full load of 4 500 pound torpex bombs, and 8 rockets and went out for 300 miles on this search and when I got back, well when I took off I knew the plane didn't have the same feel as my old plane because it was a catapult shot but it was touch and go when if I could hold that off the water just above stalling speed and he finally, after a full minute or so, began to climb, but I thought if I got rid of all my gas being out that late, but when I came back, it was on my down wind leg, and uh it stalled and flipped on it's back and we dove in at 100 MPG and then the whole plane exploded, and that was I guess my apprehension ahead of time was warning, but I was picked up by a destroyer, it was a hard time because the plane completely disintegrated and I had 2 crew men that were never found. And then it was hard because my wife and they got, my parents got notice that I had been seriously hurt and that when they got more details they would call in, but there were 4 months after that, they knew I was hurt but they didn't know what happened to me because I spent a week on the destroyer and then I was transferred to a hospital ship and then I was in Pearl Harbor at a hospital there for 5 months I guess, and they wouldn't let me come back until I could walk and it was a long time before I could walk.

Jim: And eventually you went back out again.

Robbie: Yes, after I'd just got out of the hospital and they were in need of pilots so they went me back out and uh, that was a hard time, that was a lot harder than the first time.

Jim: How come?

Robbie: I think it was harder on my wife too, although she was really amazing, she seemed to know that I was gonna get back. But, it was hard in many ways, but on a carrier I don't think it was nearly as hard as if you're a soldier or marine on the ground because they were out there in those conditions for 2, 3, 4 years and never did get home unless they were wounded or something, it just seemed intolerable that anybody could do that, but they did.

Jim: One of the things some of the people we talked to that were on the ground and engaging the enemy at that time talked about was what it was like to see these guys. In an airplane, did you have that same kind of feeling of when you saw people, when you saw planes, did it feel personal to you?

Robbie: Well, you did have a camaraderie as far as the squadron was concerned, and there was a great feeling of being a part of a team, and that was hard on me to know that I never did get, until after, long after the war that I saw some of my squadron mates again cause I never got returned to my squadron. So it was a loss and it was a loss for the wives too, because they became very close when we were in the squadron in training, they had almost a year together and my wife can talk more about that than I can, but they became very very close and then when we were left and they were on the dock when we left North Island to go off to the war and it was a very emotional morning because they didn't know if they ever see them again and then they never saw each other again because they all went back to their own homes and nobody really could relate to some of the things that they had been through that year, so you have to give the wives a lot of credit, I don't think I'd like that.

Jim: Well and it makes me, you know, talking about the fellows you were with in the squadron and thinking about the guys on the ground, do you think you had it different, was it different for you to be in combat in a plane versus the guys on the ground?

Robbie: Oh absolutely, I was, when I, I didn't realize that until later, when I got onto the USS Relief at Quadulene, I was taken to a launch there, I was the only one in the room and the bunks were 4 high in this little room and there were about 100 bunks there and I was the only one there, and then when these soldiers from division 7 came in from the assault and I saw what had happened to them and what they had been through, the war became very very personal, where in the air it was very impersonal, you never, sometimes a pilot didn't get back but you never saw mutilated bodies and the smell of the place, or the suffering that went on, and I remember that first night that I was, the fellow in the bunk above me was a handsome young lieutenant from Montana and he had been shot through the neck and paralyzed him and he just kept calling for his mother all night and then he died that night and the next day it really shook me and I told the coreman, cause I'd been in there several days and I say you know, I'd rather be out on the deck could you get me a cot, and he says well we are getting over crowded in here and he says that would be fine and they put a cot out on the deck for me, because it was so different, I'd never seen anything like that before and that was really hard and I stayed out there on that cot until we got clear back to Pearl Harbor. Because I couldn't walk you know or anything.

Jim: I hear people I think who weren't in the war, talk about World War II as a very nostalgic time and it's sort of painted in this, this golden brush of, of nostalgia or you know the good 'ol days and that kind of thing. Do you think that's fair?

Robbie: It wasn't, it wasn't my experience although you know like I, I read the obituaries everyday I never thought I'd do that, but and to look to see how many World War II or, or veterans are there because there's something that you've been through or experienced that you kind of not want to know what they did so it isn't as there is a tie with a generation that has experienced a great depression and, and uh then a war and the war that we didn't know whether we were going to win or not and then coming through that and then there's something special about that to me. Because if they've experienced that they'd have something in, it's a generation that has something in common, that was very special.

Jim: There's been a lot of talk about this, your generation being the greatest generation and that's used an awful lot and I think to the point where people don't necessarily think about what those words actually mean they just say 'em, this was the greatest generation.

Robbie: Well I, I, I never think about it being the greatest generation, I think it was a special generation in what we experienced. And I don't think any other generation that would've been in that period of time would've reacted any differently than we did because it was no great heroic thing as far as we were concerned, we just did what we thought we were supposed to do and I never thought of being heroic or anything like that.

Jim: And yet you, you've won medals you've been commended for, for your service.

Robbie: Well that you know if you've gone through that you got a few medals you know. Well I didn't do much you know fly, you read my book maybe wings of gold, but I did have the privilege of being associated with fellas that had amazing stories and I've been privileged to be able to recapture those stories and uh meant a lot uh to me to be able to see that they didn't die uh in that just pit of lost memories, we will be preserved.

Jim: What do you hope is, is preserved from that time? I think today it seems like people tend to focus on it was this sort of great time for America and there was great music and people talk about the movies that came out and, and all of this stuff but is, is that, is that what we should remember about the World War II era, not just the war itself, but, but that time period?

Robbie: No, but I think that there was a, a uh a time when or the selfless uh of kind of thing that uh, uh having gotten back we were I was idealistic and went into education you know and, and teaching and I saw things changed and uh so much in the, the 70s when I was principal of Beverly Hills High School and we were having all these demonstrations and here I was, I would never even mention that I was in the War because they think you're some kind of a killer or something because you'd been in the war and you wouldn't even mention it to them and, and uh and I think that the value system has, has uh changed, we just thought there was such a thing as loyalty and patriotism and we just took it for granted, it was no big deal with us, it was just a part of us and I think its that they've lost a, a and you know its almost with a feeling of, of pity that uh some of the young people oh haven't experienced uh those deep feelings and uh that they lost a, just on the quality of life that would be there for them if they wanted it.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

June Williams Smith grew up in Boise, went to Boise High and the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Jim: Where'd you grow up?

June: Well, I was born in Calgary in Alberta and came down when I, right after the third grade and been here ever since and Calgary's very nice, but Boise was such a wonderful place to live.

Jim: What was it like in those days?

June: Well when I came down I uh before we bought on Whitney Bench which was really pretty farm like it uh we lived you know down near town just for three months until they found the house they wanted, so I went to Central School which is no more, but uh some people I met, well one in particular that I met in the 4th grade I still see all the time and uh it was fun then to North Junior High which was known as Boise Junior High then the only one and then on to Boise High School.

Jim: And there wasn't a South then?

June: There was no South until I was having children of my own and we lived right in their backyard so to speak.

Jim: In those years coming off the heals of the depression what was this town like, what was the feel?

June: I didn't know there was a depression, but I know that when I see all the clothes and all the shoes and everything that people have now I guess we were in a depression and uh we had two cars and people had one, some had none and uh you went downtown and you would see people you know, well that doesn't happen anymore, you always knew somebody and even at the mall its even worse and uh the weather was about the same and I took a bus to school in Junior High and High School it uh was a bus for us, but in the and maybe I'm going back too far this is, cut out anything you want, um in the 5th Grade Whitney School all of the sudden became, I went to Whitney after Central when we, my folks bought on Owyhee Street and they were so full that they had to send some of us into the city, meaning back to Central School so there were four boys and five, I was the only girl they drew five names out of the hat and they gave us little tickets everyday for the bus and uh five of us would go down and go into Central School and so that was fine because I knew some of the you know students there already.

Jim: What was the town like? Did it feel like a big town and a small town, a western town?

June: Well, it didn't feel like a western town to me, I was Calgary was a larger town and this did not seem like a small town, but when we got out in the bench I was living in the country on Owyhee Street. You know 10 acres to the left of us, cows, my goodness in Calgary I was a city girl and, and Owyhee Street was paved and so was Rose Hill, Vista was not and uh you know we had a lot of uh farm people in our school and that was fine, we all had a good time there and it was only four rooms then and now its about maybe 10 or 12.

Jim: I know people talk about that era before the war, before Pearl Harbor, before all that stuff, and whenever I ask that - and I've asked that of a bunch of people and I'll ask a bunch more that question -

June: Right.

Jim: . . . you all get a little smile in your face.

June: Oh well just growing up in Boise, Idaho, is why we have a smile on our face and I was a little more aware of the war than some of my friends because my mother and I had been visiting Calgary in the summer of 1939 and the war started you know in Europe and so mother and I headed back hoping we would get across the border. I mean you had, we were novices, we had no idea what to expect so that's why I think I uh you know was a little more aware and then you know had an uncle that went and things like that in the Canadian Army and uh so I couldn't believe it when here you know the Japanese bombed us and I can remember where I was its just like you know when one of the presidents dies or something like that and I just knew we would win it anyway, oh I was naïve and it was so hard and we were just sophomores in high school in 1940 so in '41 it was maybe we were into our Junior year by then and uh I just you know was sorry that the boys had to go up and I knew they'd all come back and I knew we would win the war you know naivety.

Jim: Where were you when it . . . ?

June: I was at home and we heard it on the radio, we didn't hear it you know first thing as I remember it was maybe even early afternoon or maybe when I when we heard it in Boise and uh I, it was amazing and the boys started well you ask your questions I will be still. I was at home and my and dad were there and they were having guests and you know they knew so much more about it than I did.

Jim: After you heard about that, was everything the same as it or did it all change?

June: Uh well now I've got to think about that, yeah many things changed uh the fellows that were Seniors in, in well is Cloris in her class you know they'd gone off to college well they were all leaving school to go in the Army and we had some leave and I was looking through the Courier today or last night and uh I looked at all the, the '43 courier, the boys in the class of '41 how many of them were in the service, less in '42 and some of us in the class of '43, well that means that they quit school to go in the service and uh, I don't put this on the air, but I always wondered if they just wanted to get out of school and it was such a glorious, glorious excuse.

Jim: No, I have to put that on the show . . .

June: Well I think that they'll probably all gone by now.

Jim: One of the things I noticed in going through those old yearbooks - I don't mean to say old yearbooks . . .

June: They are.

Jim: They listed the students who were in the service?

June: Yes that's the page I'm referring to you know and because we were the class of '43 that was the small, because they had left before we graduated and then it got larger and then the class of '41 there were lots of them gone by then.

Jim: There were even little stars next to some that had passed away, that already had been killed in action. What was it like to see those kids go away?

June: Well uh I you know I was then a junior in high school and my friends were not involved at that point and then it was after, in '43 and '44 that you know that's when my class and my friends the fellows started going to war.

Jim: Um one of the things that seems interesting when we talk to folks who were, who were alive and were, were aware during those days is it seems to me so different from the way it is today I mean we're in a war overseas and, and you hear about it, its on the news, but, but in World War II it seemed like everybody was plugged into it.

June: Well they were plugged into it, but they didn't hear anything until after the fact. I mean here you know two people die and you know about it five hours later and when you look at all the people that were killed in World War I and World War II when they say well you know 3,000 people now, which is awful and the people in you know in Iraq the natives that are you know being slaughtered that makes you sick, but we didn't, you know we were not living that close to it, at least and I was young.

Jim: In some ways it seems like when I listen to folks, it seems that the whole country was truly at war.

June: Truly this is right and we were all for it because we had been attacked like we were in New York City.

Jim: What was that like to have that feeling you said you were attacked, what was that like to be alive and know that, that I mean it had to, you, you talk about being naïve that, that naivety had to take a little shot when that happened?

June: Well it, it did, but as I say I just knew we were going to win it and didn't worry how or why and then the fellows starting going and you know this one was killed and that was killed now this is by the time I got to college I don't remember anybody, maybe one I don't know, nobody in my class, but uh that brings it home pretty fast and they were by the time lots of us went to Moscow and various schools and the fellows were all being drafted or signing up in mostly in the fall of '43 and the spring of '44 that's when they all left.

Jim: Was it scary to hear about the bombing on Pearl Harbor? I mean because we're sort of close to the west coast over here.

June: Well I didn't think so because it was pretty far away you know, but then when they you know were coming over to the Oregon Coast then you thought wow, you know they didn't do much, but they were over there. I mean these times are much more scary than that was because you know it instantly and you know the devastation they can do.

Jim: It seemed like there was a lot of fear of the Japanese specifically in those days?

June: Of the Japanese people? That's a shame that there was, because the ones that I knew and there weren't very many were just wonderful dedicated people.

Jim: What about the internment camps and all that stuff that were here in Idaho?

June: Well I you know they were down in Eastern Idaho and uh at the time I thought gee this is, you know is this necessary because they'd lived in the United States, been born here, but I, I didn't know and then the Gowan Field you know was opening and Mountain Home was opening and that, that changed Boise a lot.

Jim: I heard that they had dances and stuff?

June: They did, they did and uh I guess I went to Mountain Home first because there was this lovely doctor's wife, oh you must come over and dance with the fellows well I loved to dance and it was you went over on a long bus ride and you stayed for maybe two or three hours or so and danced with anybody that wanted you to dance with and then you came home and that was fun and then they started, when I was in college, well I must've been in college when I was going over to Mountain Home too, my mommy would not have let me go otherwise and so we went to Gowan and that was so easy and uh lots of the girls around here married fellows from Mountain Home and from uh Gowan and uh I see them to this day and some of them are very happy and many of them got divorced and many of them had to move to timbucktwo, well not quite, but to the south and you know various places.

Jim: Sometimes the south seems like Timbuktu.

June: I think it might have to some of them.

Jim: Well and even Jimmy Stewart was here for a while wasn't he?

June: Yes and he used to go to a club in the Hotel Boise oh its had so many names and now its shops and uh I don't know anybody that dated him because he was so much older, but I did see him once and that was pretty exciting because he was very debonair.

Jim: I don't know how much people were aware of him being stationed [here] but I was actually doing a little checking and he was here for a while?

June: Yeah I think so, yeah.

Jim: Where did you see him, what was that like?

June: Well I think I probably saw him coming out of the Hotel Boise because he I understand and I can't remember the name of the club that was in there, here are the elevators and you went straight back in and uh apparently he was at that club sometimes that's all I know.

Jim: But you saw him and?

June: Once yeah.

Jim: It's kind of a brush with greatness.

June: Well yeah sort of remote and then I think I heard that Lena Horne's husband was here for a while and so she may have stayed at the Owyhee and I don't know whether he was at Mountain Home or Gowan or whether he was even here and I never saw her, but I, I think I remember hearing that once that she had come to town.

Jim: What was it like having all of these servicemen around, I mean young guys in and out of town and flying off and . . . ?

June: Oh gosh well it, it was busy and anybody that wanted to date they could certainly find a date and my only brush with 'em was going you know on these dances with this lovely lady that would take us out and chaperone us and bring us home safely.

Jim: You make it sound like such a simpler time.

June: It was for me. I was an only child and uh, uh I just thought well this is the way things go and that was my bit I didn't do anything else, I didn't roll bandages, my mother did and uh, you know, but some, many of the girls did marry fellows from the service that came to here.

Jim: What about all the, like somebody was talking about taffy pulls was that something that?

June: Oh gosh I, my friends and I this would be Junior High I think did taffy pulls and uh we walked so far you know I mean I'd stay with my friend in the north end and then walk you know up to some other house and uh you didn't think about going to town you know or walking the streets at night it was a much safer time and maybe it still is in parts, but with your children particularly grandchildren I think I'm much more concerned now that times have changed.

Jim: What was a big Friday or Saturday night in Boise back then?

June: Oh well sometimes the LDS would have Friday night dances and that was fun and we'd go to a lot of shows and people would have private parties you know, come over and we'll have you know maybe people to dance and because I lived on the bench if ever I had a date and there would be one car and lots of us in it I always got taken home first, well June lives the furthest away so I always had to come home early and that was fine.

Jim: Were you a part of the Minute Maids?

June: No I was not I did other activities I was an activity girl, but I looked in all those pictures today and Helen was one, I don't know whether Isabelle was or not. . . . That was by another doctor's wife that started that.

Jim: Oh there was.

June: And I was a little bit envious I wasn't invited to that, to join that, I have joined other things since so it's okay.

Jim: (Inaudible).

June: Yeah they were fun and they were very crisp and very white.

Jim: But they didn't ask you to?

June: No, its all right I you know we all have a little disappointment. No I was really busy with activities so I really never missed it I don't think, but I was aware that I wasn't invited to it.

Jim: I'll ask them about that and see.

June: Yeah why wasn't June in there.

Jim: Get them to feel a little guilt afterwards.

June: No they won't.

Jim: Did you ever go up to the troop trains at the Depot and all that stuff?

June: No, no.

Jim: What music do you remember from the day?

June: Oh gosh give me Glen Miller anytime, he may have died early, but that was what we all you know enjoyed and still do. I'm in the oldie moldies, they'll never be replaced.

Jim: And if they I mean I, I know at least for me when I hear music from certain times of my life it just zips me back there; does that happen to you?

June: Instantly, instantly yeah, and what you said what else did you do because I lived a long way out it was never to get to my house and uh, uh I had a couple of friends that wonderful dancers and they'd come out maybe one or, one now and then and uh we would dance on the rug to Glen Miller, oh its glorious.

Jim: Music isn't the same these days?

June: Oh well they've got some interesting music now, but those were the best. Well the 50s were good too, because I heard that with my children so much so I learned to love some of that.

Jim: What do you think about (inaudible)?

June: Oh it gives me goosebumps today. Yeah it's Glen Miller all the way and uh I, I did like the other music I mean there were lots of wonderful records then you know the records and, but literally I got Goosebumps when you serenaded me.

Jim: Is it fair, people, people have referred to it as the greatest generation, do you think its fair?

June: Well there's so many great generations you know I, I've heard it and you know read parts of it, but every generation is great in its own way, but we had some wonderful people that did wonderful things.

Jim: Did you feel that it was any particularly special time when you were in the middle of it?

June: No you know, but there again I was young and uh I just thought well this is what you do and this is how you react until the boys started getting killed and there were a few of them and uh it, it was sad, but those guys were gone for a long time and when they came home it was a whole new ballgame, I was up at Moscow by then and the first year there were, not that you are interested in this, but there were 900 girls and 100 guys, well at the end of my, was it my Sophomore year or my Junior year it was such a reversal of fortune the, the fellows all came back and they all wanted to get back in school, they all could be on the G.I. Bill and uh that's you know what I remember I there's one thing that maybe nobody else would tell you, Helen might, they had a Senior Sneak and you always wanted to go some place, they probably still do have the Senior Sneak well this was during the war so one of the girls could get her dad's car, but we each had to give her a gallon of gas from our dad's ration so we all gave Doris our gas and off we went up toward Idaho City some place and had a lovely picnic, but uh you just you know you did have to consider what you did and when you did it.

Jim: What do you remember about victory gardens and rationing and all of that?

June: Well rationing I was interested in and my dad had a gentlemen that would come to help put a victory garden in out back and we ate some of the vegetables, but you were limited in shoes and girls liked shoes and there, you know those little tickets were interesting and nylons were gone and uh lets see I, I don't we were never short of sugar or things like that and when you go to Moscow you would take your little book with you so the cook could have all those you know things too.

Jim: Yeah I heard that nylons were a big deal.

June: Oh boy when Carol's got some in and I don't even know what year, and they were not a good color, but they, it was so nice to be, the rayon ones and you'd wash them and they'd take hours, days practically to and they bagged on you oh nylons they were wonderful to be back in production.

Jim: What kind of stores were downtown Boise?

June: Oh the Mode was there and that was wonderful and C.C. Andersons was there and Willicks was there and I'm just trying to go and up down the streets during World War II and the oh the place where we went to dinner so often across from the Owyhee oh my gosh we used to have supper there a lot, The Royal, the Royal was a big, a wonderful place to go for dinner and then there was a hamburger place and what did, across from the post office on Bannock and Smokey Davis owned that and then he went out and started his other you know business at the other end, but uh and people bowled and they went to movies a lot because there was no television and you saw a lot of movies.

Jim: When you go around town today or uh or even around Idaho today do you still see sort of the ghosts of those old times?

June: Well I, well I've tried, I went from here to Moscow a lot and uh that hasn't changed you know going up there, the road is so much better now that's what I think about most of all changed and it took a long time for the road between north and south Idaho to become passable otherwise it was go up this hill and down that hill and uh you know you took the bus back and forth to school sometimes you know to get, get to Moscow.

Jim: What was Moscow like in those days?

June: Uh small town, very small, the University you know made the whole thing go round but it was fun because even though we, 900 girls and 100 fellows uh you just did everything with the girls and you danced a lot you know because that was fun and I was a very good leader so they liked to dance with me and we went to movies you know and uh went to Spokane, that was the big thing to get on the bus and maybe weekend a semester or something to go to Spokane because then you could do some shopping.

Jim: Do you remember places you used to go in, in Moscow?

June: Oh my gosh well I didn't go to the bars particularly I and uh the Moscow Hotel was important because that's where your folks would stay when they would come up and your mothers would come up for Mother's Day that was right after the war I think though and oh there was a wonderful candy store I'm trying to think of the name of that, I can't think of it, but it was not too far, you came down from the University and you went there for the candy and you went up there to the Moscow Hotel and David's Store, that was uh the store and then there was a place called Cratons that had some nice things to buy too.

Jim: People on the street friendly?

June: Oh yes Idaho's a friendly place as you know and Moscow they like the students and we you know sort of ran our own little world, but we helped them all along it was nice.

Jim: Sometimes some of the people that I've talked with when I, when we talk about the war years, the war era, they talk about the excitement, they talk about what it was like and talk about some people it seems like that, that's the kind of the time in their lives that defined them was, was that, do you feel that at all?

June: Not particularly, no, I never even thought about that either. I enjoyed it I you know when everybody was off fighting the war it, it was a good time, but I was awfully glad when our gentlemen, our high school friends came back and they all came back about the same time and uh it was nice to have them all home and 99% of the ones I knew came home safely.

Jim: What did your parents say about the war when you talked with them?

June: Well they were from Canada and they'd become aware of it because of England you know being in the war so soon and oh this is another thing you might want to know, because we were foreigners, all three of us we'd come down from Canada and uh when the war came the three of us had to go down and be fingerprinted and I was, I don't know I suppose around 16 and that was interesting, but any foreigner had to go down, so we went to the post office downtown and all three of us were fingerprinted, my folks never did become a citizen, I did. I mean by then you know they were having everything except the right to vote and I they were older and I knew I was staying forever.

Jim: What when you talked about um grandchildren and stuff like that, do they, have they ever asked you about what, what that time was like?

June: Huh uh, huh uh.

Jim: Well what how do you, if they did how would you describe it to 'em how would you?

June: Well I might do it selfishly, I don't know until you have somebody else asking you, or answer that.

Jim: Well, but you're right here so I figured.

June: Well I would tell 'em that you know grandpa went to war and grandpa came home safely and Richard was in Europe for a long time, well quite a while two or three years and his dad was sick so he got to come home a little earlier than some of them because his dad was really became sick. But I think its so interesting to think of the friends I known in high school and I still see a lot of them, I'm very fortunate and uh I, I see how well they've done and I see how much how hard people worked to make their own way you know they said no Helen, I'm getting tongue tied, huh, it uh they worked hard and they've stayed around and they've made Boise what it is today. There's so many people well you said Bethine she came to town and boy Frank zeroed in on her in a hurry and uh he was student body president you know about the time shortly after she came and they were a wonderful, well Bethine still is a wonderful person and Frank was really so outstanding in high school and its been fun to see them and then I look at my husband and I look at his good friends that he still has lunch with you know every once in a while and how they all made Boise a better place and I would say that about almost everybody that stayed in Boise has helped make it what it is today.

Jim: You were talking about Bethine coming here from . . . ?

June: Idaho Falls.

Jim: Yeah, from Idaho Falls. Today I know with my kids people come and go in their classes all the time, but that was something special when she started?

June: You bet. The Governor's daughter came to our town you know and uh we all knew where she lived and she was very friendly even then, so you just got to know Bethine in a hurry.

Jim: What was she like in high school?

June: Very much like she is now, very outgoing, very friendly and uh you know she was only here I suppose about one semester and then she went off to college, but uh she just uh has been a pleasure to have in Boise, Idaho, because she was the, she was the celebrity, I'll tell you, when she came to Boise High School.

Jim: Really.

June: Yeah.

Jim: And you said Frank zeroed, he didn't waste any time?

June: Well I think they started dating when you know about the end of his junior year and I'm not positive about that, but as I remember she went with a couple of other guys too, but anyway it was a very nice marriage.

Jim: Tell me a little bit about Helen; you said she was one of your good friends?

June: Oh heavens Helen was my bridesmaid at our wedding and we met in the 8th grade and uh we were you know doing this together and that together and sort of our gang, Isabelle was a year younger, but a wonderful, wonderful friend anyway and Helen's always been queen of the hill, she's so bright and she's so friendly and she works very hard. Helen and Isabelle uh Mrs. Jones married I mean raised three lovely girls and I just know the sister that lives in Oregon too and she's darling and, but Isabelle and Helen are really special people.

Jim: Somebody else that we were talking to said the same thing. What, what do you think, what makes them stand out to you?

June: Well they're very compassionate, they work very hard, uh they give so much to their family and also to their community and uh I just you know get a smile on my face when I think about the Jones' girls.

Jim: Is it fun to think about them as little kids?

June: Well I didn't know, my life began when I in the 8th grade when they, it did socially at least uh having always gone to Whitney School they took 'em there through the 8th grade, well finally in the at the end of the 7th grade we got to go into this big school and that is when my husband, 90% of our friends I met there at Junior High School and because I've been fortunate to live here all these years, my school days really you know they say everything you've learned you've learned in the kindergarten or something, well my learning experience was in the 8th grade going to Junior High School.

Jim: That's very cool. Anything else you want to tell me about?

June: . . . . I got a little quarter or whatever it was to high school because they sold stamps and war bonds and that was done like every Wednesday or something like that two outstanding people of Boise, Idaho, ran that thing when we were seniors in high school, my husband Richard B. Smith and Bob Hendrin and they both went on to be sign salesman and I know it started in that booth in the main hall of Boise High School.

Jim: Probably a lot of good stuff started back in high school?

June: Yeah it did.

Jim: Traditions and . . .

June: That's what I'm saying, you betcha, thank you and remember Jack (Inaudible) he was the goer in our class he was the Senior Class President, he went on, he ran KIDO here and then he ran maybe do you know Jack Link?

Jim: I don't.

June: Well he has more spirit than anybody I've ever known and he was our senior class president and he's kept us together and our reunions with Helen and June and many other people running them uh for all these years and then he was the MC over at the Fiddlers Contest for like 35 years, but he's live in Seattle for many, many years.

Jim: Interesting, interesting.

June: So I wish you could interview him.

Jim: Well I wish we could too; they're wonderful people.

June: Well thank you.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Al Sweetman lives in Hauser, Idaho and served at Farragut Naval Training Center in North Idaho.

Jim: It sounds like you have a lot of really great memories.

Al: Oh yeah. Yeah there was more, more good times than there was bad times. Yeah I always considered it a great adventure. We're just like a big bunch of brothers is what we are. We are.

Jim: Why is it like a brotherhood do you think?

Al: Because we all done the same thing and we've got close.

Jim: Do, do you think about the guys that aren't around anymore much?

Al: Well I, I don't because, like I say, we didn't see a lot of combat and we never lost a man on the ship.

Jim: What about guys that you were friends with and served with, guys you probably wish you could sit around and dig it up with?

Al: Well I never run into anyone that I was in boot camp with, nor in the different schools I went through or anybody off my ship, I can't even find 'em.

Jim: There must've been something about Faragut though because you guys, you come back for the reunions, you still live here. What was it about that place that was special do you think?

Al: It was our, it was our second home wasn't it? I got off the train up there in the middle of snow and the minute I got off I knew it was a better place to live than L.A. and so I wasn't out of the Navy a week and I was on my way north.

Jim: Well it's interesting to hear that you feel so much for this old place that's not even there anymore, but its certainly still alive inside you guys I get the feeling?

Al: Like I said it was an adventure. Farragut was the biggest city in Idaho at that time, Faragut and the surrounding areas.

Jim: What should people today remember about what that place meant to Idaho, but also to the country do you think?

Al: Well you figure uh everyone that went through there contributed to the victory. So I, I myself never considered myself as a hero. Yeah they didn't come back.

Jim: What was it like back then when you got in what was your experience like?

Al: Well I got there and the first day there I got sick. I went to sick bay to get bicarbonate soda and they put me in the hospital with appendicitis. Then a week and a half of doing nothing in the hospital they let me go back to duty and then on one of those walk a mile run a mile, trot a mile I got sick again and they hauled me into the hospital and took out my appendix.

Jim: You said it was '43?

Al: '43.The war was going on I mean right in the middle of it, I mean in the heat of things over there.

Jim: What was the spirit like at Faragut?

Al: Well I think it was all dig, dig in and do your job you know I, like I said I was just a kid and it was all new to me, but I learned how to shoot a gun and it's funny I've never had home sickness that was the least of my worries and then I went on I learned a trade in the Navy and it was just I a big adventure.

Jim: Were the other people there excited?

Al: No not really. They were down to business. It was like they had something to do and they were going to do it. I only had one liberty while I was there and everybody looked forward to that and naturally getting the shots you didn't look forward to that.

Jim: Did you have liberty here just in town or?

Al: I came in to Coeur d'Alene, but some of the guys that were here for longer they, like my brother, he'd go to uh into Spokane.

Jim: What do you remember about Coeur d'Alene back then?

Al: Well the main thing I remember is the fort. I went to a dance in that log cabin there. I went there and had a to a dance on the one liberty I had and then I rode in on one of those cattle car buses and went back out to on a regular bus, it was like a fifth wheel trailer the cattle bus.

Jim: What do you remember about that dance?

Al: Oh some really cute girls. That's you know back then at that age that's the main thing is look for a girl.

Jim: And you were a dashing serviceman, I mean, they must've been falling at your feet.

Al: Oh yeah . . . hey . . . that uniform attracted 'em like flies to you know what. I think the Navy uniform attracted more than the soldiers.

Jim: A girl probably wouldn't admit to that today.

Al: I don't know, but I know my next base it sure did.

Jim: Did you like being in the Navy, did it feel like a family?

Al: There've been a lot of times I've kicked myself for not making a career out of it. I run into a guy last Monday that was an officer on a mine sweeper and he made a career out of it and I was telling him, "Boy, I loved the 4-8 watch, to watch the sun come up, that was the best watch of the day." You don't know how beautiful it is out at sea.

Jim: That's interesting. You traveled all around the Pacific and you don't hear many people talk about how gorgeous it was and what it was like being out . . . do you miss being out on the ocean?

Al: Yeah, I my wife and I took a cruise well we've taken several cruises, but the first cruise I was, she was amazed how blue the water is when you get away from civilization.

Jim: You were talking about how the state's just starting to realize what they have; what do you mean by that?

Al: Well, it seemed like when they first started that museum there wasn't a lot of interest in it. I tried to get guys to send stuff. I put an article in it about how they were starting a museum and about our reunions and from what I was told a lot of stuff was shipped here, but it still remained just that one room. Now they're really making something out of it and of course I spread the word that, that's a museum. I'm pretty proud of the fact that they're doing it.

Jim: I was reading that you were at the surrender? Tell me what happened, what was that like?

Al: Well, when they offered surrender you know they made an offer and we happened to be in dry dock in Buckner Bay, Okinawa and all these guys are shooting off their guns in celebration and they wouldn't let us because we were on chalks in the dry dock. Well, the next day they put us in the water and we joined 90 other sweeps and we started the sweep for the invasion of Japan and we were 100 miles off the coast of Japan when five of us got pulled out of formation, sent back to Okinawa, briefed and then we joined another small group. We met the Third Fleet somewhere out there and we got in a pretty heavy storm and this little boat I was on — well, it was Jacques Cousteau's Calypso was built out of one of 'em — so the third fleet steamed around us to break the sea down and then all of the sudden they were gone in the morning and we were sent in to Tokyo, our sweep group and we went in swept an anchorage. Third Fleet came in the next day and took our anchorage and we were sent, I don't know if we were in Yokahoma or Tokyo, but we were sweeping right outside the breakwater. A building said three cheers Navy and on the other side of it said Navy Come After Us, so our signalman started talking to 'em on the wig wag and it was uh over a 1,000 prisoners of war gathered on the roof of that building and they were up there waving at us and so he asked 'em what they needed and they told us the courses to take and everything to get right into their dock. So we, we didn't have room for 'em so we relayed it, they wanted water and cigarettes, relayed the message and they got an air drop of it in about an hour later and we saw the parachutes coming down from a bomber so that was a big thing. Then I went to L.A. last February, or no last November for a funeral and when they were patting me down at the airport well uh this guy asked me about, I've got a hat that says WMS 276 on and he asked me about it and I told him. Well, he was a retired Navy, his dad was on the hospital ship that was in there when we left our, pulled up our gear, and I thought what coincidence. Sixty years later.

Jim: There has been a lot made of your generation, as being the Greatest Generation.

Al: Well, that's debatable. I think like I said there was more patriotism then being the greatest generation. You know, I was, I was out feeding my horse when I got word that Pearl had been bombed and I had to get my horse out at the end of the Burbank Airport. So right then I knew I wanted to go into the service, but I wasn't of age yet. I had a brother going to college in Pasadena; he quit immediately and joined the Navy. Then my brother that was up at Farragut six months later he was going to college to be an embalmer, so he joined the Navy and so naturally I wanted to go. Well., I told my dad I'd rather have a good dry bed except if I was sunk, so I wanted to go in the Navy and he said well I had to wait till I was of age. He wouldn't sign for me, he worked for Disney Studios.

Jim: Did everything change when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

Al: Oh yeah. I can remember my dad getting that tin hat as a . . . what did they call 'em? And a friend, a kid that was in the band with me, had moved to Westwood which is Beverly Hills today and he came over to Burbank again. He said when they, the Japs shelled our coast, he said that you know he was they had been shooting at the, up in the air and there was shrapnel in the yard and all that, you know it's all part of history, part of that. But it was like I said an adventure. I got to go to diesel school at the University of Missouri and then I learned to shoot a 20 mm. I went to mine warfare school, learned how to handle . . . and that was out at Port Townsend, mine warfare. And the gunnery school, that was Pacific Beach, Washington. And then I went to fire fighting school. I got quite an education just thanks to Uncle Sam.

Jim: When the war ended, where were you? How did you feel when you found out that all of this was over?

Al: Oh let's go home! We were in Osaka Wong when we were like I said we were in Buckner, but I didn't leave Japan until the 10th of January. We were all over Japan sweeping and we just, we'd see those boats go out with their homeward-bound pennants, and when are we going to go? You know, I was young, I was the youngest one on the boat so I, I didn't, I had all my points to get out, but they were sending the older guys and the ones with families and that. So I brought the boat back to the States. I was the only, what we termed Plank Owner on it. I was the only original crew member left and I, I took her from commissioning to almost decommissioning. I got all the history of it at home, the mine warfare association sent me all the history on my boat.

Jim: And what boat were you on?

Al: Yard Mine Sweeper, the 276. Back then they had so many of 'em they didn't name 'em, they just numbered 'em.

Jim: Do you ever miss that old boat?

Al: Oh yeah. I often wonder who bought her. She was decommissioned shortly after I got on it and then it was sold. It doesn't say who bought it, but a lot of 'em were sold for yachts. Well, John Wayne's yacht was made out of one of 'em. Well I guess it's when we went down on that Mexico cruise I saw an old hunk of one anchored out in the middle of the Long Beach Harbor there. It was a sad looking thing though, no paint and just sitting there.

Jim: Are there ever moments that you flash back on times from back then?

Al: Oh yeah, yeah. Well you see I, we swept New York Harbor, we were on convoy duty in the Caribbean as far South as Trinidad and in the Gulf we made one run to Galveston in a storm that we never made it. We got there, but the convoy had got there ahead of us and left and so and we convoyed up and down the east coast and then we were sent to the Pacific. So I went through Panama twice and they towed us from Panama City to Pearl Harbor because we didn't have a fuel capacity. And we used to fish a lot when we were on convoy duty. We were going slow and we'd drag a couple of lines. We caught a 300 lb tuna one time and my engineering chief — he was an old tuna boat fisherman and we didn't have refrigeration or anything — so he cut the heart out of it and had the cook, cook it up for him and we had to dump the rest. But we'd catch these, they call 'em Mahi Mahi now, but we called Blue Dolphin and oh they are good. We'd get a lot of Bonita, we'd take it around to the other escort ships and keep the, keep the dolphin for ourselves because its just like eating chicken.

Jim: Is there anything you want younger people today that don't know what it was like living back then what, what do you tell 'em?

Al: Oh, that old saying, the good 'ol days, but it's all relative. Like I think I told you I worked at that dog kennel for $5 a week. Well, bread was cheap, you know, so it's relative. I was working in a gas station; I think I was making 9¢ an hour when I joined the Navy and when I got out of the Navy I was making 28¢ an hour in a truck garage over in Kelso. So, but wages went up and price of living went up and, but it's relative. You had to manage your money then; you've got to do it today.

Interviewed by Jim Peck, producer of The Idaho Homefront: World War II

Additional Information


Idaho Public Television brings you the compelling story of a country's fear, a great sadness, and, ultimately, heroism. It is the story of the Japanese-Americans in the war years of the 1940's.

During World War II more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans men, women and children were forced into internment camps. Nearly 10,000 were held at the Minidoka Camp in Idaho. When Japanese-Americans were allowed to fight in the war, many from Minidoka volunteered. They were put into one division, the 442nd. It became the most decorated unit of its size in World War II.

Many of those who were locked up by their country stayed in Idaho after their release from the camps or their return from war. They raised families and rarely looked back at those dark times. Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat is their story.

Meet people like Hero Shiosaki and Roy Gikiu. They fought for our country in Europe and helped turn the tide during that bitter campaign. Both of these proud men felt the bitter sting of racism and resentment at home. Both felt it was better to fight and die if they must rather than bring disgrace to their families and their name.

Now in her 90’s, Fumiko Hayashida was a young mother when she was forced from her home on Bainbridge Island, Washington and sent to the camp in Minidoka.

Toshi Ito was an angry teenager when she was sent from Seattle to Minidoka. She wrote a novel about her experiences called Endure. It was meant to answer all the questions her granddaughter asked about that time in her life. Writing the book and time have helped her find forgiveness, but she will never forget what she went through.

Read entire interviews of these and other people featured in our program, as well as some speeches from a 2007 Symposium on civil liberties in wartime.

In the decades since the internment camps and World War II we have learned more about what these people went through. Memorials have been built to the Japanese-Americans who served our country in the armed forces and to those who served time behind barbed wire. Visit the Resources page for links to some materials now available about Japanese-Americans and their experiences.

A lot of people have contributed to the production The Idaho Homefront. We'd like to thank those who have made it possible.

Last year I put together a show called The Idaho Homefront: "World War II." While I was doing research, people kept telling me about the old relocation center out near Twin Falls called Minidoka. It was known as the Hunt Camp and housed more than 9,000 Japanese men, women and children who were moved from their homes along the Pacific Coast. The US Government thought those people might pose a threat to our country, thought they might be sympathetic to the Japanese. I also heard about and met men who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit was put together later in the war. The Army needed more troops and the idea of an all Japanese-American fighting team appealed to the government.

I included a bit on the camp and the 442nd in the first program, but it was clear that this was something that deserved its own show. The station came up with the resources and production began.

Now it's September and the show is done. It airs September 20th all across the state. I can't help but wonder what people will think when they watch it. Our first program, The Idaho Homefront: "World War II," was nostalgic. This program is not. It's just not a topic that lends itself to warmth and fond remembrances. This is a show about what happens to people when people are afraid. Americans were terrified after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As far as I can tell, they were SO scared that they didn't really mind the idea of locking up other Americans they thought might prove to be a threat. Keep in mind that we didn't lock up Italians-Americans or German-Americans. We only locked up Japanese-Americans. It was said that these people were being locked up for their own safety. But as several of the people you'll see in the program say, the guns were pointed inside the fences, at them, so they didn't feel they were the ones being protected.

One of the things that struck me when working on this project was how so few people feel bad about what happened to the Japanese who were locked up. As you'll see in the program, most feel that locking them up was the right thing to do. One dissenting voice was Bethine Church. Her father was Governor of Idaho at the time. She says it was one of the hardest parts of his career. "My dad never talked much about it because it happened when he was governor. And he said some things he probably regretted his whole life through, because everybody was really very awful about it. But I know, I know that his way of making it up was when he was Federal Judge. He never liked anything more than making Japanese-Americans citizens. And the best pictures I have him are with little Japanese children of the parents he'd just made a citizen in his office. So I think it was his way of trying to give back."

It was another time. America had not been through such an attack as Pearl Harbor. And yet for Bethine Church, there is concern that the lessons have not been learned. "Well you had guilt, but, at that time they didn't because they thought they were protecting the country.  And you know we did do dreadful things, thinking we're going to protect the country. Look at all of the awful things that are being done now and, and it doesn't always work."

The comparisons between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been inescapable while working on this program. Time and again the people I've talked with have linked them and the way our country has treated "suspected threats." While we didn't get into that in the program, I think it is one of the unintended common threads running through the production.

This program took director Alberto Moreno and me all over the country. It started out with a lot of in-state travel.

We talked to people like 442nd veteran Hero Shiosaki who spends a lot of his time talking to school kids about World War II. He's a kind, gentle man who drives way too fast, according to his friends. Talking to Hero is an honor in itself. It is difficult to avoid the easy pun because this is a man who lives up to his name.

We also headed to Twin Falls where we talked with Roy Gikiu. He is a Silver Star and Purple Heart winner. He's a gracious man who doesn't flaunt his medals. He told me his unit was also awarded the Bronze Star, but that he never got his. I asked him why and he just sort of shrugged his shoulders, "Just didn't, I guess. Doesn't really matter to me." He has the certificates honoring his heroism hanging on the wall of his front porch. You'll find them right next to some golfing trophies and plaques. "I'd rather have another hole in one than another medal," he laughs.

Al and I spent some time with Professor Bob Simms from Boise State University. I have to say he was one of the first people who really got me interested in trying to tell this story. Each year Bob is one of the people who helps put together a pilgrimage to what's left of the old Hunt Camp. Many who were in the camps come back to Minidoka each summer. They bring family members and memories. I heard a lot of laughter and watched tears roll down the faces of those who looked out at the barren landscape they were forced to call home for a time.

Fumiko Hayashida was a young woman when she left Bainbridge Island, Washington with her children, headed for the camp. There is a wonderful, wonderful picture taken of her, holding her toddler daughter, the day she left her home for internment. She told me she didn't even know the picture was taken. Thank goodness it was, for it is a tangible reminder of what she went through.

In June, on the way to Los Angeles to talk with Toshi Ito and attend a memorial service for the 442nd . . . we had a blowout. We weren't too far from Death Valley. Al changed the tire in the 117 degree heat as semis roared past.

It was worth it to talk with this elegant woman. She spoke of being forced into the camp and her anger at the time. Toshi wrote a book called Endure which tells the story of a young girl who is forced to leave her home and live in a relocation camp. She told me she wrote it for her granddaughter who started asking questions that were hard to answer. It is a novel. She said writing an autobiography was too difficult. For her, putting her story to paper required taking a step away from it. It's a marvelous book.

The day of the 442nd reunion was the hottest of the year in Los Angeles. I felt bad for these old veterans, sitting proudly in the blazing sun as speaker after speaker detailed their soaring accomplishments. Again we found ourselves surrounded by heroes. Again we found ourselves in awe of what these men did for our country.

Everyone who travels has to eat. Sometimes we end up in some pretty odd spots on these production shoots. This show actually meant some good food. A big step up from Ramen in the dirt. Now anyone who knows me knows I like to eat. While I love sophisticated restaurants with complicated dishes, I also have a special place in my increasingly clogged heart for small, classic joints. Traveling the way we do, it's tough to carve out the time for a fancy meal, let alone pack a suit and tie without having it demolished in the course of the journey. But we do manage to fit in some of the smaller spots. I grew up in Los Angeles and I could go on and on about where to eat. I won't. But I will point out two spots not to be missed if you can help it. One is Pink's. It's on La Brea at Melrose. Hands down the best chilidogs in the world. Trust me, I know. I am partial to the bacon chili cheese dog, but you need to make these decisions for yourself.

Another is Philippe's. It's famous for its French Dip, but try the Lamp French Dip and have them add blue cheese. Oh my.

July was the hottest on record in Idaho. And, of course, we were in Idaho.

Our final trip was to Washington, D.C. in August. We gathered hours of archival footage and hundreds of still photos from the National Archives and the Library Of Congress. I guess we brought the heat with us again. We were there for the hottest day of the year and the hottest week of the year. Lucky, lucky us.

We found some great images for the show but were disappointed with the memorial to those interned in the camps and the Japanese-American veterans. It's a lovely memorial not too far from the Capitol. But it is surrounded by construction. That meant shooting it during the day was out because, frankly, it was impossible to get a meaningful shot without cranes and orange cones. So we went back late at night to catch it in darkness, lit by all the lights embedded in the concrete. When we got there we were amazed to find that more than half the lights were burned out and there wasn't enough light to shoot with. Such a meaningful tribute to these men and women, and we couldn't get any decent shots. One shot you will see is the word MINIDOKA carved into stone with what looks like a spotlight moving across it. That was my goofy idea. It's my small flashlight in the darkness trying to make something from little. Ah well.

Okay, one last shameless plug for a place to eat. Ben's Chili Bowl. I used to go there when I was a little kid and I still love it. It's famous for the "Half Smoke." Basically that's a smoked sausage covered with chili. It's SOOOOO good. The people are friendly and it is a spot where you will mostly find locals. You'll see maintenance guys from the Metro station across the street eating at the counter next to elected officials. If you want my advice, just walk up to the counter, when they ask you what you'll have, "A smoke and a coke." Again, just trust me on this one.

Finally it was back to Idaho to put this show together. As I sat and watched all the interviews and wrote the script it kept hitting me how at peace all these people seemed. If any group has a right to feel bitter it would be this one. They were Americans who were forced from their homes and put into rugged barracks in the middle of nowhere. They had to find a way to live day to day. They had to find a way to raise their children. They had to find a way to be Americans locked up by Americans.

I was told it would be hard to find people from the camps who would be willing to talk with me about this on camera. It was. A lot of the people I called politely said, "No." But it wasn't impossible. Those I did talk with were generous with their time. They were honest and gracious and often quite direct about how they felt. But I cannot say I found bitterness. They seemed to have found a way to forgive, while never forgetting.

Some told me they wouldn't have talked about it years ago, but that now . . . now that they are getting older . . . they want their stories told. Over and over I heard how important it is that people understand what happened so that it doesn't happen again.

So now the show is done and our bit of story telling is over. You can never tell all the stories there are to tell. You can never get it all in a television program. But those stories are out there. You should go find some yourself. I've now done two shows on the years surrounding World War II. One thing I have learned is how much there is to learn from those who lived history. Television shows and books and movies are great, but they are no substitute for hearing the tales first hand. Our veterans are still with us, so are those who lived in the camps. I encourage you to talk with them. Actually I encourage you to listen to them. I promise it will be time well spent.

-Jim Peck
September 2007

. . . we honor those twentieth century Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: a nation conceived in liberty and justice. - Inscription at the WWII Memorial

It was a golden era, an American time. An innocent time of happiness amid a Great Depression. And then America shattered as the first bombs fell. She shattered, but America didn't fall to pieces. This is the story of those times and those people.

They were our fathers, our mothers, our friends. They were sent into a world they had only heard about. They came back different. Changed. And some times, they didn't come back. Those who fought the battles on this Homefront were changed as well. And America has never been the same.

The memories live in families and in scrapbooks. They live where people come together, and remember. We remember them. On Memorial Day, we remember. On Veteran's Day, we remember.

It was a time for the ages. For those who were there, the time of their lives. For those of us who remember, a time to hold and cherish. And those who are gone live on, in our memories and in our hearts.

Always.

Making a television show is never easy, but it should look that way to the audience. If people are watching and saying — "My goodness, that looks like it was a lot of work!" — well then, we are not doing our jobs very well. Nothing in this business is terribly easy and none of it happens in a vacuum. When you watch the credits roll past at the end of a program, you should know that each of those names represent a great deal of work and passion. I suppose it's why I always sit in darkened theaters and watch the long list of names roll past as everyone else files out. Making these two World War II programs has meant a lot of people working hard over nearly two years. When you see their names, remember that. And also remember our underwriters, the people who paid for these programs to be made.

Wal-Mart stepped up to the plate with generous support for The Idaho Homefront: World War II. They made this production possible. They also gave us the funding to create a content rich educational component. It means Idaho students will have a wonderful resource when doing research. Along with copies of the program, they will be able to access all of our interviews and listen to first-person accounts of history.

The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat came to life when we received a grant from WETA Public Broadcasting and CPB, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This was in concert with the Ken Burns series, The War. We rely on our local underwriters as well. Countryside Care and Rehab, a Service of Minidoka Memorial Hospital in Rupert, Idaho contributed to this production as well.

So as you watch your favorite shows, pay at least a little attention to those names as they cruise past. And remember those sponsors. In Public Television we don't run commercials, but we do need funds to keep the cameras rolling. We need corporate support from folks like Wal-Mart, and we need your support. Without it, there will be much less of what you want to watch.

Jim Peck
Producer
Idaho Public Television

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