Woman returns to where parents signed exclusion papers

Recently, a customer walked into Pegasus Coffee House in Bainbridge Island who hadn’t been there in a very long time. In fact she didn’t remember going there until Carol Reitz showed her a picture of the day she visited the building when it was a hardware store decades ago.

“I’d never been interested in coming here,” said Frances Kitamoto Ikegami, who was only 5 years old when she and her BI Japanese-American family were forced into incarceration at Manzanar, CA and Minidoka camps during World War II.

It was the first time she’d been in the building since the exclusion because Reitz, president of BI Japanese American Community, gave her a photo taken on the day her mother was there in March of 1942, to sign registration paperwork before being forced from the island in 1942.

While she sat sipping tea, she thought of the past. “It’s just really terrible. I don’t remember too much of it, and never realized that this is where they came to sign up.”

She’s surprised that she’s the only one in the photo with her mother and wondered where her siblings were. “Maybe it’s because I was so active,” she said, adding she was often scolded for running around.

“I think the younger ones really weren’t affected that much,” Ikegami said. “It was the teenagers, the young parents and the older generation that really had the difficulty. We had so many friends who helped us.”