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Carol Tomiko Miura - Oral Testimonies of Former Japanese-American Internees

Carol Tomiko Miura

Carol Tomiko Miura was born in Los Angeles, California in 1938. She was the oldest of five Sansei (3rd generation) sisters born to Miye and Tulie Miura, who met each other at UC Berkeley. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, Carol’s family was sent by Army truck to the Tulare Fairgrounds assembly center, where a horse stall became their home. When the camps were built they were taken by train, with windows covered, to Tule Lake, an isolated area of Northern California near the border of Oregon. Their family of four lived in two rooms of a barrack along with her maternal grandparents, and two unmarried sisters of her father. Although Tule Lake did not begin as a camp for dissidents, it later became one, and it was her family’s misfortune to be kept there because her mother was pregnant at the time. Carol’s father was known as a “yes-yes boy” and was abused by the “no-nos”, a situation which was unknown to her mother who assumed he was just a negligent father and husband because he was hardly ever home (her father worked at Tule Lake as a farm laborer for $1 a day). When Carol’s mother and new baby sister were able to travel, her family was moved to the camp at Topaz, Utah, where they reunited with other members of their family. Carol was five years old when her family was allowed to leave Topaz and move inland to Alamosa, Colorado where her father and his friend set up a vegetable brokerage for farmers. She had to learn English in order to go to school, and she never spoke Japanese again despite her grandfather’s best efforts. She did not try to relearn Japanese until her college years because her family constantly experienced discrimination for “being Japs”, and she wanted to prove she was an American. When her family returned to Arroyo Grande, California they lived in a storage shed. An artist and professor, Carol retired from Santa Ana College after over thirty years of service as a professor of art. She also served as Chair of the Santa Ana College Art Department and as Art Gallery Director. Her artwork now depicts greater political and social awareness and she is happy and thankful to be living in this day and age, amongst people of different backgrounds and cultures.