Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Returning to school – Sally Kitano (OH0073)


The Frank Hydes, Frank Hydes over on Port Blakely, and the Vandollas who were next door to them, they took care of our property. The Hydes took care of our things. And then, during the war, the Hydes sent many of our goods to us, and I think Mr. Grow took care of the family farm. So, at least we got all of our property back. and my dad started all over and we were very, very fortunate ’cause we had such wonderful friends and neighbors. Of course, Bainbridge was known for the friendliness of all the people to the Japanese community because they were all next door neighbors.

And so, when the war ended and we were coming back, I was very, very concerned about coming home because I said, “I wonder if I’ll be accepted in High School.” I was about thirteen when I came back and I was really frightened, but I went up to school and I signed in as Sally because I had to be very American and I didn’t want to be known as Shimako anymore. Well then, along comes …and so the first day of school, Shannon Stafford and Ray Lowry, were my classmates from Kindergarten, they came up and said, “Welcome back.” That just floored me, because I thought no one was gonna accept me.

But they did and they were very pleased that I was back. The girls were very nice, they helped me through, get me started to high school here. And the teachers were very, very nice. In fact some of ’em, one of them tried very hard to see if she could help us. Well, we had friends and neighbors who took care of us anyway, so we didn’t have to have any of that. But I grant you that it wasn’t easy for my dad to get started again.

But, one of the first… soon as we got back, then the Suyematsus came over to visit and to greet us and welcome us back. And they said, “We need some help on our farm picking strawberries and hoeing and doing whatever.” And so, we were able to get a little bit of income from that.

And so then of course every summer, I went to the Suyematsus and I picked all their berries for them. And that was nice. I was able to earn a small income.

Video Interveiw — February, 2006

Sally Kitano

Shimako "Sally" Nishimori Kitano was 9 years old, in the fourth grade, when she was evacuated. She was the youngest of five children. The Nishimori family did not move to Minidoka with most of the Bainbridge Island Japanese. They stayed in Manzanar.