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-01-0015

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TI: And so at Puyallup, were there certain places where, say, the Issei men congregated, or the Issei women, or the Nisei males and females? I mean, was there kind of this... I'm trying to get a sense of the community and where people met and did things.

MT: They really weren't set up for that too much. They just didn't have the space or the time, so they were just confined, and pretty much left to themselves. I think they tried to organize leaders for the certain areas and things like that, but how successful they were on that, I don't know. But there was a certain amount of supervision, and definitely we were aware that we were behind the fence, barbed wire, no question of that. We all knew that.

TI: And how would that manifest? I mean, how would you know that? What were the, kind of the symbols or the reminders that you were behind...

MT: Well, Area D, which was the fairground itself, you know, there were the stands and buildings for the fair itself. So we saw something there, but when you went in the other three areas, there's nothing but barracks, and then outside the barracks was fence and police, I mean, military standing around. I think they were much, much more aware that they were definitely confined. Where Area D, being of different buildings and things, we didn't have the feeling if you turned around and looked down the row of buildings, you could see fence, barbed wires and things. There might have been a horse stall, or there might have been exhibition building there, so our view was, what would you say, broken up. We didn't really see the confined space that the other areas were, because they were definitely in the parking lot or something, they put up the barracks, put up the barbed wire fence, and put up the military towers. And Puyallup D was very prominently on top of the, what is the fairgrounds, the stands. I can remember machine guns sitting up there being manned all the time. Was that to protect us, or was that to keep us from escaping or what, I don't know, but they did have a machine gun up there, and that I could remember. But the military police and things in Puyallup, Area D, they were not that noticeable. Where other camp areas, I'm sure that they were visible all the time.

TI: Do you recall any, sort of, interactions with the military police while you were at Puyallup?

MT: I don't think there were any incidents at all. I don't think there was anybody that tried to escape. I don't know if the other areas, if people went right up to the fence and hung on the fence or what, but I don't think there were any incidents at all in Puyallup.

TI: How about just like a conversation with one of the military police? Do you ever recall that or anything like, as simple as that?

MT: They stayed pretty much away from us. I think if they were caught talking to us and things, they could have been reprimanded, you know, so they were pretty much by themselves, and they were pretty business-like.

TI: Any other memories or thoughts about Puyallup before we move to Minidoka?

MT: Well, I made a lot of friends there. Well, like June, I think you heard her say, she came from a small town, and she never realized there were so many Japanese. [Laughs] Where like in my case, I mean, we were close enough to Japantown and going to Japanese school and things, so I was able to renew, or make new friends, the ones that I casually knew in Japanese school and things like that.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.