Reiko Nagumo was raised in Hollywood, California and attended school with the children of Hollywood’s screen writers, producers, and camera men. Reiko’s father was university educated but made his living as a gardener for the Hollywood stars. Reiko and her family were confined in Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming during WWII. Reiko is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Nursing. She had a successful career in the U.S. Diplomatic Corp and eventually was director of a multimillion dollar California program providing assistance for patients with genetic disease.
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
Provides family background: parents born in Japan; father a migrant worker, gardening in Hollywood. Reiko born in 1934, youngest of 8. Father owned their home and had a bank account in oldest son’s names.
04:52 – Clip 2
In 2nd grade when war started. Shares story of her friendship with Mary Frances – “speaking volumes without saying anything.” In camp from 1942-1945. Talks about returning to school.
11:47 – Clip 3
After bombing of Pearl Harbor, father interrogated by FBI – because he gardened for the Japanese consulate and was therefore a target. Describes excitement over new suitcase. Has to decide what to take and what to leave behind.
17:31 – Clip 4
The excitement of going away turns to shock. Describes train ride – with final destination unknown.
22:31 – Clip 5
Arrives at Heart Mountain. Describes heat, sandstorms, crying, separation, loss, homesickness. Self-described “bratty kid.”
30:19 – Clip 6
Describes success of her family after the camps. She and her siblings graduated from college with degrees and PhD’s.
34:26 – Clip 7
Lived a fulfilling life after the internment camp traveling the world.
38:38 – Clip 8
Describes effect of discrimination on her identity and her families. Story of her changing her name to Virginia when asking a movie star for an autograph so she would not know she was Japanese.
Primary source images to accompany Reiko Nagumo’s story. Images provided by Reiko Nagumo – Elk Grove Unified School District.