Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fumi Kaseguma Interview
Narrator: Fumi Kaseguma
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-kfumi-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so Portland, you probably had to go to some meeting place to be picked up. Describe where that was and how you were taken to the assembly center.

FK: Now, where did we meet? We must have met at the church or something like that. They picked us up on the bus and then took us to the Portland Assembly Center. And then we were all locked up in there 'til September. But it was, you know, most of us young people didn't feel the effects as much as... I guess because we didn't have to lose all our possessions or anything like that. So none of us, I don't think, felt it as much as I'm sure the Isseis and the people, young, young adults who had children, I'm sure it was rough for them. Because they just put plyboard over the ground, and then sectioned off, like Puyallup, the rooms were all just sectioned off, and everybody, just a canvas door and cots.

TI: So what was the, the Portland Assembly Center, what was that before it became an assembly center?

FK: It was a livestock exposition area, so they had, they showed the livestock in there. So it wasn't a very pleasant place.

TI: Because I imagine the smells are pretty strong.

FK: Yeah. [Laughs]

TI: So do you remember those smells?

FK: I remember there were a lot of flies. They have these, in the huge dining room, they had all these, these flycatchers -- in those days, they had these, they hang these things, you know, where all the flies just come --

TI: Flypaper kind of stuff?

FK: Yeah. And then, and all attached to it, it was just black with flies. It was really a lot of flies in there.

TI: And so tell me about the food at Portland, what was that like? You mentioned the mess hall, do you have any memories of the food that you ate?

FK: It wasn't bad. It wasn't good, but you know, we all had to eat, so it wasn't bad. But everything was community, you know, community bathrooms, everything. It was... but, you know, the young people organized and started dances and things like that, and so we, we had lot of social things going on for the young people, which was kind of nice.

TI: And then for dances and stuff, what, did you play a role in putting them on, or what did you do?

FK: Well, I didn't do any... it was usually the, they had the older Niseis who would, you know, start community activities like this for all of us. And they played, they just played music, '41 music, and we all just danced.

TI: So at Portland in the Japanese and Japanese American community, who took charge inside, at Portland? Was there like a group that sort of became the leadership?

FK: Uh-huh.

TI: And who, and who were those people?

FK: Oh gosh, there was an advisory board, and I worked as a secretary to them, you know. They more or less handled lot of the, not only activities, but things that had to be done in camp, and they were leaders, too. There was... I don't think you know, you would know them, though. There was a Howard Nomura... let's see, what was his name? Uyesugi, Wesley, he called himself Wesley. And oh, Reverend, there was a reverend from Methodist Church, and Reverend Terakawa from the Buddhist Church, and people like that.

TI: And so were these Niseis or Isseis?

FK: They were Niseis, but so was Reverend Hayashi, I'm sure. I don't know about Reverend Terakawa, though. He might have been born in Japan. But those kind of people, they formed an advisory board for the whole camp. And I guess they handled a lot of the...

TI: And you were the, the secretary?

FK: Yes.

TI: So what does that mean? Did you go to their meetings and take notes?

FK: Well, I took notes, and they, things like that.

TI: And so what kind of things would they, they talk about? As advisory, what were some of the issues that they would have to deal with?

FK: Well, any kind of issues that came up between the, you know, the government and things like that. That was what the advisory board was. I really don't remember too well.

TI: So would it be things like food issues, or would it be about...

FK: Oh, anything.

TI: issues?

FK: Yeah, or anything.

TI: Or jobs, things like that?

FK: No, not about jobs. But anything that concerned us evacuees from the government, things like that.

TI: How about things like how much people should cooperate with the government in all this? I mean, what was their kind of stance in terms of, yeah, cooperating versus not cooperating?

FK: Oh, I don't recall things like that being talked about in the assembly center.

TI: And the people that were on this advisory board, were they part of a group before the war? Like in Seattle, many of them were part of the JACL.

FK: JACL, yeah.

TI: So was that similar in Portland?

FK: Yeah, I think so, 'cause Howard Nomura, I think he was in the JACL. Also Dr. Uyesugi, he was an optometrist, and he was, I'm sure they were active in there, too.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.