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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Well, so you mentioned that it was in the fall, late September or sometime in October of 1942 that you left Puyallup, and you were taken to Idaho, to Minidoka.

MN: Uh-huh.

AI: Tell me about that, moving to Minidoka.

MN: Well, I remember the train ride; it was dirty and old and all the blinds were pulled down all the time. And the seats weren't very comfortable. I don't know where they found these old trains, but it was running, and so they made us pull all our blinds down because this way the people on the outside couldn't see what kind of cargo they were taking. And we couldn't, then they didn't want us to see where we were going, but we had no idea where we were going. And I can't remember how long it took us to get to Idaho.

AI: Tell me about when you got there.

MN: It was a very dismal feeling, because as soon as you got to the grounds, all you saw was sagebrushes, and there were no trees or nothing. And then rows and rows of barracks, and then the wind was whipping up and the dust was flowing. It wasn't a pleasant atmosphere when we got there.

AI: What was your living condition?

MN: When we got to our room, every family was assigned to one room, depending on the size of the family. And so since there was five of us, all we had in the rooms was five cots and one potbelly stove, and that was it. No furnishing, no chairs, no nothing.

AI: Just a bare room with those items.

MN: Just a room. They did furnish the bed and the mattress. And then you lined them all up in the room, and there wasn't, there wasn't much room to move around, either.

AI: So tell me about daily life there in Minidoka.

MN: The winters were frigid, and the summers were real hot, because we only had one room, one window, and that's not much of a ventilation to cool off your room. And since there were no shades, it was impossible to cool it off. And then in the wintertime, we weren't used to those cold weathers, and we had to keep the stove burning all night in order to keep us warm. And I guess my mother took care of that. 'Cause I says, when we had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night in that freezing weather, you had to put on your jacket, boots and pants, and hat and gloves, and then march out into that cold weather. And then it just depended where your barrack was, how far the bathroom was from your room. And I would say my, our room, where we were situated, would be about three doors from my neighbor's house. So it's just like me going down three doors away to borrow their bathroom.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.