Pasadena Japanese take taxi to internment

The internment of Americans of Japanese ethnic origin was organised and supervised by the military authorities but little compulsion was needed in practice.

On the 12th May 1942 Hatsuye Egamis woke her family early and completed the packing of the family’s possession. They had been warned by the military authorities that they could take only what they could physically carry. They had been given notice that they would be interned weeks before.

To some extent Hatsuye appears to have accepted it ‘This is war, we cannot be sentimental’. Many of her non Japanese neighbours were much less happy about the situation:

Since yesterday we Pasadena Japanese have ceased to be human beings – we are now simply numbers or things. We are no longer ‘Egamis’ but the number 23324. A tag with that number is on every suitcase and bag. Even on our breasts are tied large tags with this same number – 23324! Again, a sad and tragic feeling grips my heart!

Our neighbour, Mrs. Rasparry brings cocoa for the children and coffee for the elders. Feeling a warmth of affection, I drink the coffee. The taxi that we had called yesterday arrived at 7:15 sharp, and now we must start. Pursuing Mr. Castro’s truck, which left a moment before us, the taxi carrying our little family of six, picks up speed – we are going!

Mrs. Rasparry waves her hand, as if, I thought, they would tear off, and sees us off. For five years we had lived as neighbours, forgetting racial differences entirely. As if we were relatives, we had associated with her. I don’t think that we shall ever forget how much she has done for us since the evacuation problem came upon us. On May 10, Mother’s Day I sent her bright red roses. The fact that she shed tears and showed her appreciation will surely remain with us as warm memories for a long, long time.

At half-past seven the taxi reached California Street, where the train we were to board was lined up – car after car after car. The faces of Caucasians seemed to overflow the place. It was a deluge of sad faces. Beautiful city. Educational city. City of the Rose Parade. City that has been friendly to the Japanese to the last! This is our last morning with Pasadena! Whether we laugh or what we do -it is no use now!

We do not know at all where we are going or what is to become of us even in the next moment, but among the Japanese no one is crying. Those who are crying are rather white Americans and Negroes and ‘foreigners’ who came to see us off. They are honest and simple. It seems that when they want to cry, they can raise their voices and cry as they wish. It is the Japanese, who are being sent off, who are consoling them!

The train runs on. It continues to advance into the famous and expansive Mohave Desert.

See The Evacuation Diary of Hatsuye Egami

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