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-01-0016

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TI: Okay, so let's... it's funny, we don't have tapes here, so I have to say, so let's do our second segment. And so the first part, it was about an hour, we talked about your childhood, going through Puyallup. And so I thought in the second segment we would start talking about Minidoka. And when you were at Puyallup and they said you were gonna, everyone was gonna move, did you know where you were going or what that was, what to expect?

MT: Really, I don't think we knew.

TI: And so did you ever have a conversation with, at any point, with your parents or your sisters about what was gonna happen next?

MT: No, we were all, I'm sure we were all concerned what is eventually going to happen to us, but I think we kind of felt that it was beyond our control. Because I don't think from Puyallup they were letting, there may have been a few released to go back east on their own and things, but I can't recall that that was happening.

TI: And so you traveled from Puyallup to Minidoka. What were some of your first impressions when you got to Minidoka?

MT: When we got close to Minidoka, first thing we thought is, "Good Lord, there's a big forest fire out there." It's a desert, and they were tearing up the sagebrush and things to build, and it was just a... well, it was just a big, looked like a great big forest fire. And that was the first impression, I thought there's a big forest fire going on there. And that was Minidoka.

TI: And what was it? It wasn't really a fire...

MT: It was dust.

TI: It was just a big dust storm.

MT: Yeah.

TI: And that was because they had torn up all the, the sagebrush and everything, so that...

MT: Yeah. And it's a very dusty soil, loose volcanic soil, so with the slightest wind, it would just blow. And it wasn't a real grainy dust, it was just a fine everyday dust that you find in the home, looked like it was just, soil was as fine as that. So it looked like a big forest fire out there. And it was kind of awakening to see the barracks and things.

TI: So go back to those first few hours that you were at Minidoka, and tell me what you and your family did in those first few hours.

MT: Well, I, I was one of the fellows that volunteered from Puyallup to go on the, what you called the advance crew. So I can't remember when we got there what housing we had or anything, but it wasn't very long after that before the families started coming over. And Minidoka was built, you know, on kind of a long, stretched out camp, where I think most of the other camps were built in a square area, because it was more flat. But so in that sense, Minidoka was, every block it seems like it was a little bit different than the block up in the north and things, so it felt more like a, what would you say, a town, because we were stretched out. Where I'm sure in, like, wherever other camps, the barracks were, you know, row upon row in a square area, where Puyallup was spread -- I mean, Minidoka was spread out. So in that sense, didn't feel quite as confined. At least, I don't think it did compared to the other camps.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.