Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roy H. Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy H. Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 17 & 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-01-0042

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AI: So was this at Santa Anita then? And this was at, you had --

RM: Santa Anita.

AI: And for people who don't know, Santa Anita was a racetrack.

RM: Yeah, a racetrack, Santa Anita racetrack.

AI: So, tell me about the living conditions there, when you first got there?

RM: Well, the conditions were bad because they put 'em in horse stalls because, on account of I'm a bachelor. So everybody, bachelor, stuck in where the horse slept. And then horse manure on the ground and piss all over on the walls and they whitewashed but still smells and had to pick up these hays for making mattress and picking up these straws and miserable and it made me more mad. But instead of, I figured that way lotta people worse than me, 'cause lost tractors and trucks and farm equipment and everything. But I didn't have much. The only thing I lost was the bank savings and not much and other things you could buy, you know, see, I lost...well, I thought I didn't but there was a Mexican boy working at the market and I happened to know and then the Mexicans don't have to evacuate so I asked him whether he could keep it for me. So, "yes." And his nickname was Zarko. "Zarko" means the Mexican with the blue eyes, there's a mixture. And so there was, I called him Zarko, Zarko, that's a regular term applied to the Mexicans with blue eye. So that's a Caucasian mixed up in it. But he was nice about it. So I left it with him. Then I made a trip when I graduated school, an unauthorized trip, I think. I think I overslept, you know, and missed the, get off the train. I came to West Coast and visit some Chinese friend. I used to pick up char siu meat or something like that so I visit with him. And Chinese walk all over, he was not restricted. And then I stopped by this Mexican boy's place. Then he's sorry, he says. "What happened?" "I sold your things because I ran out of money, I'm sick." So I said, "Forget it." But without me -- well, no way to contact me, because I'm in the army, camp, they didn't know where I went. But he didn't write to me.

AI: Right. So this trip that you made back, that was later.

RM: Yeah, that was later, after, after went to, after camp, Jerome, Arkansas.

AI: Right. But, so back in Santa Anita, I wanted to ask about, you were just saying how angry you were that, and here you were in this horse stall, in the racetrack and you're an American citizen. So tell me about what you thought of the --

RM: Well, I was so mad. But on the other hand, there's a lotta people worse than me because I don't have to worry about kids or wife or nobody. I'm alone, so I could stand that, but the poor people worrying about lost and don't know what to do in the future. To me, I think this is gonna end up sometime and I will do alright, I thought. I'm a guy that sees this is half full, see, not half empty. So my wife is the opposite way. So I, I always think that better way, having optimistic way, that not the pessimistic way, see, so I thought this was bad, but maybe could get any worse but I don't see anything worse than this, I thought. So okay, I gonna help people and help nicely and I never chew the people do the poor job or always praise and thank them, come out and help, volunteer and peeling potatoes and carrots and...

AI: Did you, I'm curious, did you have any trouble with any of the guards, any of the fellows that were guarding you and the other Japanese Americans?

RM: No, I don't go near, 'cause some people said that go to fence and trigger-happy guy shoot some... I don't know how true it is, but I think it's reported so must be true, some other camp. But didn't happen my camp. But I just stay away from the guardhouse or whatever, and just...

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.