Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Leaving on ferry followed by train ride – Matsue Watanabe (OH0064)


Well, we had to wait for the, the big army trucks to come, and they came to pick us up. And I don’t recall whether there was another family on there or not. But, they, we have, you know, quite a number in our family. There were of course seven of us, because my dad was gone. And so they had to put us there, in there with suitcases. And, and I just remember going to the dock and at the time I didn’t realize it was the dock across from the Winslow dock, because you just know you’re going to the ferry boat. And so we went over there and of course then you have all the rest of the Japanese people there, and, and all their luggage. And so we just piled there with everybody else, and then waiting to go on the ferry. And, of course, I should say we were… when the trucks came by, of course, it’s all soldiers, and so they came by with their guns and they stand there at attention while we’re doing that. And so that was another, I guess, scary moment for us because we’re standing there with all the military around us as if that we had really done something bad, and so they were gonna take us away.

I didn’t want to look at… I didn’t want to look at anybody I knew there. Because I felt ashamed to be having to go away and then, of course, when the ferry dock went off and we landed in Seattle, we were marched over to the train, trains that were on the tracks right there. And I just recall seeing all those people hanging over the viaduct looking at us, and I felt like we were strange animals because they were all there just to see you leave. And of course, no place, nobody else had ever left for a camp. So, it was a, a very scary experience for us, not knowing when we would, if and when we would be back at all, and where we were going. We didn’t know where we were going.

On the train, I, I think it was after we, after we got to know the military. ‘Cause they weren’t, I think they were just as scared as we were, because they were young military. And then when everybody started just to play cards and things like that on the, on the train just to kill time, well, they would be there to watch and they got to know the people better. So, and they were from New York, so they had the Brooklyn accent, which was very interesting. And, but in the end they became, we all became good friends. Because they knew that we were just ordinary people like they were. And they didn’t know what to expect themselves, being that they were, they came to take people away to be put into a camp. And so in the end, they were as sad as we were when we left them. But going down, at least we had sleeping quarters, so that was good for us. And of course that was my first train ride, so that was something different. And, but not knowing where we were going was, again, something that we were very afraid of. And not being able to look out to see the scenery, too, would be, was something that, you know, we just figured we just have to look inside and not worry about what’s outside.

Video Interview — October, 2006

Matsue Watanabe

Matsue Nishimori Watanabe was 15 years old, in the 9th grade, when she was evacuated. She is the second youngest of six children. The Nishimori family did not move with most of the Bainbridge Islanders to Minidoka. They stayed in Manzanar. When the government started to allow the Japanese Americans to leave camp to travel east, Matsue's older brother and sisters moved to the Chicago area. When she was 18 years old, she moved to Evanston, IL to finish her last year of high school. She lived with a sponsor family.