Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: May Y. Namba Interview
Narrator: May Y. Namba
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 21, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-nmay-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, then there at Puyallup, did you have activities, or some people had jobs, and other activities, what about yourself?

MN: Yeah, worked... well, I wouldn't say worked, we played over there. We went, reported in to the office, and we didn't do much of anything, but it was somewhere to go every day, and we reported in. And I can't remember what we did.

AI: Was this the administration office?

MN: It was the administration office for that area.

AI: For Area A?

MN: Uh-huh.

AI: And what about your mother and sisters?

MN: They played. [Laughs]

AI: Well, then at some point, were you told what was going to happen next, where you were going to go next?

MN: Well, then rumors started to fly again, and nothing was sure.

AI: You were still in Puyallup, I think, in July.

MN: July, August, and then we left in September.

AI: While you were in Puyallup, was there anything that kind of stands out in your mind?

MN: You know, the people from Alaska were sent to Puyallup, and I felt sorry for this one group of people from Alaska, they had one-eighth or one-sixteenth blood of Japanese, they didn't, they didn't look Japanese. And they were the misfit; I felt sorry for them because they didn't fit in, but they were shipped into our camp.

AI: Well, so then you had...

MN: In fact, they were on the same street as we were, so that's why we knew the people from Alaska.

AI: I had heard that also from other folks who had been there, and it really seems like it emphasized that it was really a racial discrimination.

MN: Yeah, because they didn't look Japanese, you know?

AI: So just the very idea that they had some part...

MN: Japanese blood in them, and so they got shipped out.

AI: Well, of course, one of the accusations that were being made at the time was that so many Japanese American -- [coughs] -- excuse me -- families had relatives in Japan who may have even been serving in the Japanese military. That the accusation was, "Well, so then Japanese American families must have some loyalty to Japan." Was that something that you were aware of at the time, or that you felt affected you or your family? Of course, you did have relatives over there, most people, everybody did.

MN: We had relatives in Japan, but then it didn't affect me personally. Probably affected my mother and father. But as far as myself, I wasn't affected because we didn't know them that well anyway.

AI: While you were in Puyallup -- speaking of your father -- did you receive any communication from him?

MN: I can't remember too much about communication in Puyallup, but I know in Idaho, he was communicating with my mother, and all the letters were censored. And so when we got the letters, there would be great big holes in the letter. And since I didn't read Japanese, I had no idea what he said in the letter, or what he was trying to tell us when the holes were made, when they were censored. But I didn't know that... my sister said she got information from the FBI about my father's background and her own background, and she said they had copies of letters that we had written to my father. And she said all the medical information, she said it was very detailed. I haven't got mine, but she told me to get mine and read it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.