January 21, 2010

In an interview Densho recently conducted for the Topaz Museum, Chiyoko Yano recalls how her family fared better than many others when the order came to leave their home in spring 1942. In Berkeley, they were renting from an Italian family who felt sorry for their plight and let Chiyoko’s father buy the house for a low price. Then their African American and Irish neighbors helped them pack and watched over the house for the nearly four years the family was detained at Topaz, Utah. At one point, as many as thirty people lived in their house, working different shifts at the shipyard.

When Chiyoko’s family was released, a neighbor met them at the station and brought them home. Unlike many returning Japanese Americans, they found the only damage to their possessions was normal wear and tear on the furniture. When Chiyoko moved away with her husband, her parents invited homeless Japanese Americans to live with them, even to stay for several years. In a video clip from her interview, Chiyoko recalls her “very nice” neighbors.
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