Ayukawa, Midge. “Lemon Creek Memories.” Nikkei Images 17, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 11-16.
Since December 8th when the Japanese language teacher had announced that the school was being closed and had admonished us that we were Canadians and to remember that our allegiance lay in Canada, our lives were becoming more and more restricted.
My father had to give up his little Kodak camera, our shelf radio, items all purchased by saving money diligently. Later my mother told me to ask the school librarian if she would like to have the boys’ dolls that my mother set out for Boy’s Day: Benkei and Ushiwakamaru, I believe they were. They were beautifully dressed in brocade with swords ready to strike. Then my piano was gone.
My father left for Road Camp in late March and my eldest brother in May. The curfew made it difficult for my mother to go bid farewell to friends when the rest of us were told to leave in September. My piano teacher’s family urged my mother to stay behind and “gambaru,” but she said she wanted to keep the family together. On our street there were two other Japanese families (all women) who had moved in together for company. My mother went to some office on Powell Street and asked that we leave for Lemon Creek with them since to be the only Japanese family left on Georgia Street was daunting.
The neighbours received their orders but we didn’t. Then at the last minute we did. University student Teiso Uyeno, the son of my father’s closest friend came by to help. After he left, mother ordered my fifteen-year old brother to put a box around the wood-burning kitchen stove. My mother had scrimped and saved for several years to buy it and to leave it behind was more than she could bear. Although my brother insisted that we would never be allowed to take the stove, she won the argument and it was put to good use throughout our days in Lemon Creek.
The morning we left Vancouver, our Italian neighbour invited us all for breakfast. Due to the inability to communicate, there had been little interaction between the families except for sharing our home-grown vegetables, and the children playing with each other. I thought it was strange that we actually were in their house!
However, as the hours passed the next day and the hour was approaching for our departure when we had to leave for the CPR Railway station, the young men who were supposed to pick up our luggage had not come. But an ex-samurai (or descendant) came to the rescue! Mr. Okimura, a neighbour, a man too elderly to have been sent to a road camp came to check on us and realized our problem. He quickly found a solution. He located a Chinese vegetable hauler with a rickety old truck, loaded our baggage, and off they went. He soon returned to tell my mother not to worry. He had seen to it that our baggage was loaded on the train.