Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mits Takahashi Interview
Narrator: Mits Takahashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 20, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tmits-01-0014

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TI: Okay, so let's talk about Puyallup again. So did you go to Puyallup as a family unit with all your sisters and your parents?

MT: Yeah.

TI: And so describe the living conditions for the family.

MT: Well, we were in Area D, which is right in the fairgrounds itself. And can't remember how big the room was, but shiplap walls, I don't think there was even tarpaper in between. They were about 6 feet high, open ceiling. So down the hall, if somebody is a snorer, we could hear that. If somebody would expel some gas loudly, we, everybody would start laughing. So you didn't have privacy in the sense of that sort, but yet you were confined in this one little room, your whole family's there. So you had privacy in that sense, but not privacy from a lot of different things that we would normally take for granted if you had your own place to live in, you know. And then they were confined to certain hours, we were confined to go to breakfast and go to the dining room at certain hours and things. There was a time when people got quite sick from diarrhea, and there was a run going to the bathroom. And I think the military police at that time got very excited because there was supposed to be a curfew at, say, ten o'clock, and people were running back and forth to the bathroom and things. So I'm sure the police, military police were real concerned, what's going on, they're all milling around when they're supposed to be in their rooms.

TI: And because they had diarrhea, they were all going to the latrines. So that was...

MT: But you know, when you're seventeen, eighteen, you don't really think of the hardships of what the Isseis had to go through. It was a ball for fellows my age. The younger ones, the parents were very, very concerned because they just didn't seem to have control over young kids. Where at least my age group, we were old enough to know what, more or less, what was right and wrong. But it was the first time that we had really nothing to do except socialize with each other. There was very little work to do, so playing cards probably was the biggest, and different games, was probably the biggest social outlet we had. And the food was, we always complained about it. I think, oh, I can't remember what the food was like, but it certainly wasn't good food, but at least they gave us enough to eat. But it, it was the beginning of the break up of the individual families, which was a tragic thing when you think of the kids that were ten, eleven, twelve years old, all of a sudden at lunchtime they didn't have to go home to eat, they could rush into the dining room and eat, and their parents could have been back there with three or four of their friends up there. So the family, that was the beginning of the breaking up of the Japanese families, I think.

TI: But your family, perhaps, not impacted as much because you were the youngest, you were already seventeen.

MT: Yeah.

TI: Yeah, I was thinking as you were talking, you talked about playing cards with your buddies. Like your father, how would he socialize at places like Puyallup and Minidoka? Would he hang out with the other gardeners that he worked with before the war, or what would he do?

MT: I think a lot of 'em felt like this was the first vacation they've had in twenty, thirty years they've been in the United States. So I think a lot of them, they enjoyed doing nothing. It was the first time in their life they didn't have to get out there, whether it was farming or whatever, they didn't have to work that hard. It was the first time they were able to relax and do nothing.

TI: And so what would they do with that time?

MT: Oh, I'm sure they were more or less the same as the Niseis, socializing, playing their little, different games and things like that. And they were, very little organized social life there in Puyallup, because it was so confined, they just didn't have the space to do things like that.

TI: And how about your, your mom and other Issei women? In the same way, they had more time to do things, too.

MT: Yeah, I think it was the same for them. They had a chance to socialize and visit their friends, and make new friends and acquaintances.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.