Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazuko Uno Bill Interview I
Narrator: Kazuko Uno Bill
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 7, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-bkazuko-01-0020

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MA: So can you talk a little bit about the day that you left South Park and your journey to Pinedale?

KB: Okay. They told us to pack material that we could use for food. Not the food itself, but like kitchen equipment, cups and saucers and things like that. And also clothing, and I think we were restricted to two suitcases per person. Rest of the, our belongings, we stored with a neighbor who was Italian. From my standpoint, I put all of my daijimono, we used to call these things daijimono, I don't know whether you know the Japanese, the English translation of that, but precious things, I put into a box and lost them forever. Anyway...

MA: Did you give 'em also to the Italian family next door?

KB: To the neighbor, and I never got it back. And all, like my Cleveland journal, my, lot of my schoolwork that I was saving, photographs, all my baby pictures, they lost. My parents had big portraits, I was the oldest, the first child, and they had big portraits of me and all of those things were lost, never saw them again. I don't know what happened to them, but I think this is the story of many of the Japanese who had to leave for camp. So let's see... so we had to go to Renton, to the train station in Renton, and seems to me somebody drove us there. And we boarded this train, and it was the first train ride for most of us. So the only thing was that there were all these army men with guns guarding every part of the train. And it was very uncomfortable to be in that situation where these guys with guns would be at every doorway, I mean, they would be pacing up and down the corridor.

MA: Did you know where you were headed at that point?

KB: No, we had no idea. So after we boarded the train, we were, we found out we were going south, just by knowing direction. And the, actually, the military men became quite friendly. They were very polite, they were trying to make us feel more at ease, and when we got to... I'm saying Dunkirk, but that's not it. It's a place in California, after the California border, Dunsmuir, to stop the train. And they have to do something, switching the tracks or I don't know, wait for another train to come through. Anyway, we were stopped there for quite a long time, several hours. And of course everybody got very restless just sitting and maybe walking the aisles of the train. So some of us decided maybe we could get out. And I remember asking one of the guards, "Can we just get out and walk around?" And they said, "Oh, no, you can't do that." Eventually, they gave in because the wait was so long, we were just, the train was just stopped there, and they let us out. And it was such a relief to be able to walk, and there's the Dunsmuir River flowing there, and it's in the woods, very pleasant place to just take a deep breath of fresh air. So that was kind of a relief, and I think at that point the guards sort of gave in to being a little friendlier. And they were all young kids, they were like maybe twenty, twenty-five years old. And so the trip from that point on was a little bit more pleasant. And we got to Fresno, I think, where we de-boarded, and then we were taken by bus to Pinedale. Now, this Pinedale was supposed to be a, some kind of an army camp, but there were barracks. It was in the middle of orchards, no trees, there was just the bright California sun like in the desert. And very, very uncomfortable for those of us who were from the north. We were assigned to one room with cots, and it was so hot that during the day, like if we sat on a chair, the chair would be sticking into the tar floor. And I used to... crazy, I used to put a sweater on, sit in the chair, and I said, "I'm in Alaska, I'm not here." [Laughs] Just imagine that I was somewhere cooler than the hot room.

MA: So you had one room for your family with seven, at that point, seven people, right?

KB: Yeah, my mother and six of us, yeah, seven people.

MA: So it seems like quite cramped conditions.

KB: Oh, it was. So we had these cots, seven cots, I guess, scattered in this little room, and there was maybe a little table and that was about it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.