Robert Dardenne, Ph.D.
Keith White, Ph.D.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
It was not until 1997, when I was 43 years old, that I learned that my mother and eight members of her immediate family were among the approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans sent to concentration camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My mother, Mary Ouye Baker, passed away in 1962, when I was not quite eight years old, and although I had occasional contact over the years with my mother's family, I had not maintained a close relationship with the family after her passing. In 1995, while working as an exhibitor at a trade show with my husband in San Francisco, I took advantage of being in close proximity to my mother's family- the Ouyes-and I contacted them. We enjoyed a wonderful reunion that was attended by all of my living aunts and uncles, my cousins and their spouses, and my second cousins. Everyone brought a camera or camcorder, and it seemed to me like a surreal Fuji film festival as they welcomed me their prodigal relative-back into the fold with open and welcoming arms. The experience has continued to bring us still closer as each day passes. Two years after that initial reunion, my Auntie Margaret sent me a revealing letter that introduced me to the evacuation and confinement of my family and other Japanese Americans. It also caused me to wonder about my mother and her family and started an avalanche of questions: When and why had my grandparents moved to the United States in the first place? Why had they settled in Washington? Why had my mother been the only one in her family to move to the East Coast? Why had she been the only one in her family to marry a Caucasian? Why had the evacuation and relocation, such an important part of our family's and nation's history, remained hidden for so long?
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Beard, Nadine K., "The Ouye Family : Topaz Survivor" (2002). USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate).