Oral History T-U


Alfred, 83, is a Florin native and his early education was obtained at the segregated Florin Grammar School. His formal schooling ended after finishing Elk Grove High School and one semester at Sacramento City College, as he had to help on the family strawberry and grape farm. After one and one-half years in Jerome, Arkansas camp, the family with wife, Mary, and daughter, Marielle, moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and eventually returned to Florin. He was a leader in the Florin JACL, with Redress, Florin Reunions and the Methodist Church. He was the JACL chapterís third president in 1937 and first postwar president in 1947. He retired in 1979 after 30 years with the Army Depot.


Mary Tsukamoto (1915 - 1998) was active to the day of her death at almost 83. Born of Okinawa immigrants, she was known and honored nationwide as educator, community leader and civil rights activist despite an arthritic condition. Together with husband, Al, they were active in the Methodist Church and Florin JACL. An elementary school is named in her honor and her writings, documents and artifacts started the Japanese American Collection at California State University Sacramento Library Archives. The book, We the People - A Story of Internment in America, was co-authored with Elizabeth Pinkerton. The Mary Tsukamoto Japanese Language Academy was just recently started.


Tomoye Tsukamoto (90) was the wife of the late Walter Tsukamoto, first president of the Sacramento JACL Chapter (1934-36) and National JACL President (1938-39). Her father, Ryosuke Kasai, came to the United States in 1898, graduated from high school, and lost everything in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Tomoye was born in 1907 in Berkeley, graduated from high school and UC Berkeley. She married Walter who had graduated from UC Berkeley Boalt Law School in 1930 and established a law practice in Sacramento. The family of five children, all born in Sacramento, was forced to evacuate to Tule Lake. Due to the activities of the pro-Japan group and possibility of great harm, Walter was "secretly rushed out of camp on a train to Cincinnati because of his pro-American and JACL stand" Tomoye and the children joined him later. She says, "We moved thirteen times" and the last move was to Germany where he died in 1961 with the rank of Colonel on military Judge Advocate assignment.




Poignant stories of Japanese Americans like Lily Umeda are a part of American history. Mrs. Umeda (82) has made the best of difficult situations she had no control over. She was born in Sacramento, and sent to live with relatives in Wakayama, Japan, where she went through elementary school. Then, she was brought back to Hollywood, California, where she attended high school as well as Girls High School in San Francisco. At age 19, she took on adult and parent responsibilities after an arranged marriage to Mike Umeda of Sacramento and raised four children. After time in Relocation center, the family came back to Florin. She became a valuable, dedicated Methodist Church member by helping with youth activities, bazaars, and interpreting and translation work.


This is more of a biography than oral history. Ichiro Nakashima put this together from a series of his 1992 Seventh Day Adventist quarterly periodical about Uyeyama. There are six pages of photos, twenty pages of text and two pages of testimonials from her children. Content is about two groups--Okinawans and Japanese; and about Methodist Church and Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is about her two daughters from the first marriage and the eight children from the subsequent Uyeyama marriage. Generally, an interesting account of the life and struggles of early Japanese immigrant to "not friendly to Asians" America.



Japanese American Citizens League, Florin Chapter

PO Box 292634, Sacramento, CA  95829-2634