Christine Aso Umeda, the youngest of seven children, was born in Sacramento in 1938. In May of 1942, at the age of 4, she was sent with her family to Arboga Assembly Center, near Beal Air Force Base (Marysville, California). Her family was then sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center. The following year they were transferred to Topaz Incarceration Center, where they spent the rest of the internment years. When they were released, the family returned to the Sacramento area. She graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School, and then went on to Sacramento State University in Sacramento, where she gradudated with a B.A. in Social Work. Christine married Stanley Umeda, who also spent part of his childhood in an internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas. Christine continues to give presentations to students and teachers about the experiences of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Note: To listen to a specific clip, move the slider on the video to the designated clip time listed below.
00:00 – Introduction
00:18 – Clip 1
Shares memory from assembly center. As a child of 4, she came down with pneumonia and was taken – screaming – from her family to an infirmary and then a hospital – with no family allowed to accompany her.
03:25 – Clip 2
Talks about impact of incarceration on her memory. Has blocked much of that experience.
04:25 – Clip 3
Family signed loyalty oath and were therefore sent out of Tule Lake and on to Topaz. Shares memories of being a child in Topaz, such as singing “Don’t Fence Me In” for a talent show. Returned to Topaz as an adult and saw picture of her father. Refers to “outsiders” in the photo.
08:09 – Clip 4
Reflects on how fortunate her family was to have a house to return to, despite having a bit of a struggle getting tenants out. All the family possessions they had stored in the adjoining barn had been vandalized.
10:11 – Clip 5
Tells of the return train trip and the generosity of a soldier.
11:02 – Clip 6
Describes her easy transition back (despite being placed in 1st grade rather than 2nd). Her sisters were a bit more apprehensive.
11:54- Clip 7
Reflects on her return to Sacramento and how accommodating her parents were to share their small home with two other large families in need of housing.
Video production provided by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium – http://www.secctv.org
Primary source images to accompany Christine Umeda’s story. Images provided by Christine Umeda – Elk Grove Unified School District