Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mitsu Fukui Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Fukui
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 18 & 19, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-fmitsu-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, now, that first winter, 1942, in Minidoka, that in December it was Christmas in camp and David had just turned three years old. Were you able to do anything for him for Christmas that year in camp? Do you recall anything about that?

MF: Oh, around Christmas time there were three missionaries, Caucasian missionaries, and they were here in Seattle, I think. But you know, they were kind enough to move with us and they lived in... what, Idaho was that? Was it Burley? Or was it -- it was very close to the camp. I think it was about, about two or three miles somewhere in Idaho. They bought a house with three missionaries and they followed us from here. I didn't know them but they got to know me 'cause they loved David somehow. When we were here we used to go to church, Japanese Baptist Church, and they would be there. And I didn't know them at all but they got to know David and they all -- and so we were surprised when we found out that three of the missionaries had moved and bought a house in Twin Falls. So one time we went out, we got a permit and spent the whole afternoon with them and David was so -- and then every year when David was small we used to have a picture taken somewhere, here, even in Seattle, and on his birthday. So even in camp we went to Twin Falls to get David's picture taken and then that day we stopped in and they knew where we were and everything and they would come into the camp every other day or something. And one lady, she had a car so she'd come in and visit us. And so we kept track with these ladies and I often wonder where -- what really happened to them now because we lost track when we moved to Detroit.

AI: Well, that must've been a very good feeling to be able to get out of camp even for a short time --

MF: Yeah.

AI: -- and visit with them.

MF: We went to photographers and had a pictures and they delivered to us in camp. And it was really nice to be out. And I bought a few things for David, like pants and socks and shoes for him. Oh, you could get out any time you wanted to but it was a effort to get a permit and get a truck to take us out and we had to be there at certain place at certain time and Bill said -- Bill went out to work to work for a while. He used to come in at weekends.

AI: Now, what kind of work was he doing when he was able to go out?

MF: Well, he was working the same kind of work we did here, dry cleaning business. And so did my brother. So once in a while during that time they stayed in a hotel with my brother and he was a cleaning business, too, so they both worked in the same place in Burley. And they would just come in for the weekends.

AI: Into camp for the weekends.

MF: Oh, they would bring us the bacons and something that we didn't have. And David liked fresh orange awful lot, so he used to bring him fresh orange and fresh apples and things like that which we didn't have too much.

AI: What do you think was the life like for David as a little kid? Did he have any nursery school in camp or any children's program --

MF: Oh yes. My cousin, she was a nursery teacher. And I think David was quite small yet, but he attended maybe about less than six months, I think, while he was there. And he used to say, "My auntie is a teacher," to people he -- and then we were lucky enough to take a little tricycle to camp. And everybody wanted to ride on it and David said, "My favorite friends can ride but nobody else." [Laughs]

AI: Little kids can be like that.

MF: Yeah. Remember, I remember one time this -- there was about six kids in that family. I think their name was Tsutsumi. And they were on the other side of the barrack and one of the boys wanted to ride and David said, "No," I guess. [Laughs] He shi-shi'ed on David and David comes crying home and says, "What's the matter?" And he said, "That boy shi-shi on me." I said, "Oh my gosh," and I got mad and I went to the mother and I told her. [Laughs] David wouldn't let him ride on his tricycle. That's why he got mad. [Laughs]

AI: [Laughs] Oh. Well, that's --

MF: Kids would do that. [Laughs]

AI: Yes, they sure will.

MF: So I had to give him a bath. [Laughs]

AI: Gosh, you didn't really have a, baths in camp, though, did you? Or did, did you take him to the shower room?

MF: I took him into the, where you wash. I dumped him in there. It was, it was about this big, concrete thing and you wash in there. And they had washboard and I took him there and put some water in and washed him up. But it was shower. No bathtub.

AI: It sounds like there was no privacy there in the camp.

MF: Well, first they didn't have any toilet. They didn't have any doors. Gosh, that was terrible. So everybody complained. Said, "You gotta have a door." So people volunteered and whoever could, I could remember my brother was very handy with his hands and he made hundreds of doors for the barracks.

AI: My goodness.

MF: That's where he learned his trade was carpentry, was in camp. He said there was a elderly Issei who was very good and he learned awful lot and now he's, that's his prof-, was his profession at camp. Here, after he came back, carpentry. He made a good living.

AI: I was wondering also about, as far as the kids, and David, you had mentioned earlier the rattlesnakes. Were you ever worried that David might get bitten or hurt by snake or something else?

MF: Worried that what?

AI: About the rattlesnakes, that David might get bitten or get hurt by something else out there at camp?

MF: Oh, yeah, well, Bill being a policeman, he had to patrol that. He had a gun and he, every time a rattlesnake be there he would shoot 'em.

AI: Oh my goodness. Did you ever come across a snake?

MF: No. [Laughs] But they were rattlesnakes. So they told us not to go wandering off. There was one man that wandered off and he died. They wondered what happened, and he was dead, elderly person. I think his mind was not too clear.

AI: You had mentioned that Bill and your brother went out to work. Did you and David go out to work at all outside of camp?

MF: David?

AI: I mean not David, but did you ever take David out or did you go and work outside of camp at all?

MF: Where?

AI: At, in Idaho?

MF: Uh-uh.

AI: No.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.