Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bill Nishimura Interview
Narrator: Bill Nishimura
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 2, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-nbill-01-0005

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AI: Well, let me take you back to that day of August 7th, when you had to leave Visalia. What do you recall about that day, and did you leave by train, or how did you leave to go?

BN: We left by train on the 7th, and we arrived in Parker, Arizona, on the 8th, the following day. And then we were bussed in to Camp Three. And I remember, when I first got off the bus, I really sank in almost six inches in the ground. That is because that place was all bulldozed, mesquite trees were all bulldozed away and the ground was just powder. So whenever the wind comes up, oh, it was a mess. It was dusty... and then we were processed, and we were, we got our barracks. And then the mattress, we had to fill with (straw). And then the cot was used, the regular canvas cot was used as the bed. And the barracks were, had, oh, many knotholes and spaces in between woods where wind would whip up, dust. It was really a mess and dusty, yes.

AI: Now, were you doing anything in Poston as far as working or activities?

BN: Yes. First, I started as a cook, and then -- I don't know how long I did this cooking. And then later there was a opening in the fire department, so I went to fire department. And there, it was very good because I worked 24 hours straight, and then I had 48 hours free time, and that made me do fishing and, oh, many other things that I wanted to do. So actually, that part was really relaxing to me. So, talking about fishing, there was a man from next block, I believe it was. He's a bachelor, did a clever thing. He made a hut right beside the bank, then he had the, these tree branches, and made a post. Then he wrapped the, around the, these branches with the -- what do you call it, sagebrush? He made a hut. And then he made a bed with those branches, too, with four-legged bed. And then at nighttime, he'll burn these sagebrush and make it into a amber, and then he'll put the bed right on top of it. And then on top of the bed, he will put a blanket and cover the whole bed so that the heat wouldn't escape. And then he would sleep on the bed. And he said that heat kept way into the morning. So he said, "It was very comfortable." And during the daytime, he would fish, and he made a cage with the sagebrush. He wove the sagebrush with wire and stuck it into the bottom of the river. And what he fished, he would throw it in there. And then whenever he wants fish, he'll scoop it out of there and had a fresh fish every day or every meal, whatever. And once a week, he would go back to his block and bring back the groceries like bread or -- I believe he didn't even take bread. He always had rice. Anyway, everything, every other thing that's, that was being issued to him. So he took it back, and he would eat, sleep, and fish. He had a grand time. And he said he didn't think the evacuation could be this pleasant. He really had a ball there. Nothing to worry.

AI: Well, in addition to fishing, you mentioned that you had some other activities, too. Was there some school or classes?

BN: Oh, yes. I was attending this private school, which consisted about, oh, five or six students. And I was studying Japanese over there, writing and reading and speaking. (Narr. note: I was attending the Japanese language school in Poston. After this interview, my thoughts went back to the time when I was attending the Japanese school. The question came up, why would this teacher have this class when most of the Japanese school teachers were arrested by the FBI when the war broke out. Now I have the feeling that the instructor was an Army spy to test our Japanese language ability.) And somehow somebody told the army that I was bilingual. So I was called to the office, administration office I believe it was, and he asked me if I wanted to join the Military Intelligence School. I said, "No, I do not wish to." And that was it, and nothing happened at that time. But a little later, they asked me again, but I continued to refuse to go to MIS.

AI: What was your thinking at that time as far as why you didn't want to do that?

BN: Oh that's because I was bitter about this evacuation. My rights were taken away, and yet they wanted to have me serve in, for the country. So I said, "No. You give me my rights, and then we'll talk." So I, I was really bitter about this evacuation, yes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.