Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: So you were saying that your gathering point for leaving was in Burbank?

AO: In Burbank, possibly the Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot.

AI: Tell me about that day that you're actually leaving and what happened and, where you went.

AO: We had packed all of our duffle bags and suit-, foot lockers and whatever we can carry on the trailer. And when we arrived there we unloaded everything from the trailer and then our friends, the Greens, drove the car away. They stayed there until we actually left. And then the bus, before the bus arrived there was a truck, and we loaded everything on the truck. And then after everything was on the truck, it left. Then the bus came, then we loaded, we got on the bus. And then after we were all on the bus, then we started out. And the route to Manzanar was going north to San Fernando and then little bit beyond San Fernando was the highway to Mohave and Lancaster, Palmdale. We went through that route which is now State Highway 14.

AI: What was your feeling as you were being loaded onto this bus and being taken away?

AO: Well, we're on the bus and moving. We didn't actually know where Manzanar was. We knew it was in Owens Valley, we heard about that, but we didn't know what we're gonna expect. But en route we all have to go what nature calls. So out in the middle of the desert the bus stops and they, they were announced that, "You can get off the bus." And as we got off the bus they handed us a roll of toilet paper. And then we went out and found, looked for a nice bushy sagebrush or whatever. And you can see... I don't know how many there were, went out in that area. You see heads of Japanese, black heads, hair, all over the place. And, but we had to be careful walking back. [Laughs]

AI: I'll say.

AO: It was humorous, but yet sad, because they couldn't stop at a service station. They couldn't accommodate all that people. So they, the military knew this, and that's why, I think, it was roll of toilet paper, each one, and then we got back on the bus, then we were handed a box lunch. And so we, I don't know about how clean our hands were, because there was no water to wash, but we ate our lunch. And I think the area was in what they call the Red Rock Canyon. And Red Rock Canyon is still there. And as you go through the highway it looked the same, there's no change in the viewing of the area. Then we continued north to Manzanar. And there was a police escort, MPs before and in front. I don't know how many buses, but I imagine it was probably, probably around ten buses. Then, when we entered Manzanar we go right through the, there's a firebreak and the bus stopped and then we all got off the bus in single file. And then we had to register. As we approached the registration table, they'll take your name down. And then they, the next table they give us two blankets and a bag. And the bag was heavy, it wasn't exactly canvas but real light canvas type of material. Then they say, "Over there is a pile of straw, so fill your bag with straw." So we go over, stuff the straw in the bag. And then we were assigned the rooms, barracks number, and I believe ours was 16, Block 16, Barrack, probably 3. And we had a middle, middle barrack. See, they have two apartments on each end that open, double doors that opens, and between they were larger. And each family was allotted one beam to so many persons. And so the middle, middle apartments were larger, so we had a family of six. So we went in there and there were canvas cots, and so we laid our bag of straw on the canvas cot and we had to pat 'em down so that they'd be even. And then later on a man and a little girl came and joined us. So, in our apartment, temporarily, we had eight. And so they hung blankets to separate the two families.

AI: So, really, you had one room --

AO: One room with eight people.

AI: -- with eight people.

AO: And, that particular room were, the maximum that they figured should have been for six. But we asked the gentleman about why he and this little girl. And he says, "My wife is, was left in Los Angeles because she was having a baby." And then as soon as she was able to be transferred to Manzanar they had more barracks completed so they were soon transferred.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.