Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Irene Najima Interview
Narrator: Irene Najima
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-nirene-01-0015

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MA: So as you said, you were only in Merced for a short time, maybe a few months. And then you left for Amache.

IN: Uh-huh, Colorado.

MA: And can you describe the journey to Amache and what you remember of that train ride?

IN: What I remember -- we went on a train and the train was not a scheduled train. Therefore, along the way, there were times when we had to go on a side track and wait hours for a scheduled train to pass. Sometimes we would just wait hours. And I remember we waited a long, long time at Salt Lake City.

MA: And how long in total, do you know, was the journey to Amache from Merced?

IN: I don't remember. It was slow. Of course, we didn't have first-class accommodations. So we must, we must have slept on the hard seat.

MA: Were you aware of where you were headed? Did they inform you that you were going to Colorado?

IN: I don't know, I forgot. They must have. I'm not sure.

MA: And when you arrived in Amache, what was going through your mind when you got there and saw the camp?

IN: Okay, first, it was in a desolate area of California, as desolate as you can get. It had nothing but tumbleweeds and dust and sand. No trees to speak of. But we arrived there and we went on a bus and we passed a little settlement. And believe it or not, it was a settlement where there were three or four little stores. And on the porch of one of the stores was an old man in a rocking chair with a corn cob pipe in his mouth. [Laughs] And I said, "Oh my gosh, where have we gone?" Like in the movies, Pa and Ma Kettle.

MA: So it was very desolate, sort of in the middle of nowhere.

IN: Absolutely in the middle of nowhere.

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