Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tad Kuniyuki Interview
Narrator: Tad Kuniyuki
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Shin Yu Pai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 28, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ktad-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Now, how would you compare the conditions in Idaho, Minidoka, to Puyallup? Was it better or worse?

TK: Well, the living quarters, well, I was in, in Puyallup, I was in that center section where the buildings were already, the structures were already in there, you know. So my place wasn't too bad. But, well, I don't know, about the same, I guess. 'Course, in Idaho it was so much dust and then they were, shiplap lumber was used in the structure. And that, they used green lumber and by the time winter came around, the green lumber had shrunk a lot. With a lot of gaps in it, and people had to put all kinds of stuff up to prevent, to stop the draft and all that. But other than that, everybody had a stove, one stove. My life wasn't too bad in Puyallup, I mean, in Idaho. Because we were part of the electrician's group. We had a truck and I could pick up anything I want by using that truck. I had, well, our group had much more advantage than other people.

TI: So would you say that you had one of the better jobs at Minidoka?

TK: Yeah, I think so.

TI: 'Cause you had access to things like trucks.

TK: And I had no, it didn't bother me to steal anything from the warehouse. We were in a prison, I felt we were in a prison anyway.

TI: So Tad, explain that to me. So you had a truck, you said you had no qualms about taking things from the warehouse. Is that what you just...

TK: If I wanted it, I took everything from the warehouse.

TI: So what kind of things would you, like, take from the warehouse?

TK: Wire, wires, light bulbs, fuses, stuff.

TI: And what would you do with these things?

TK: Well, see the barracks, all the barracks had five units and 130-amp fuse for the whole barracks. In our barracks, they were always asking us for fuses. So I always carried a lot, but our barracks, there was another electrician living in our barracks, and I was living on this end. So he know what he was doing, and then we wired it so we all had separate wiring, and we never blew a fuse or anything. And the people in between had no problem using whatever they wanted. But that was an advantage anyway.

TI: So your barracks, your building was probably the most properly wired of the whole camp then?

TK: We had a truck so I stole plasterboard, walled up my inside of the house, I mean, building, so the studs didn't show. It was warmer than most units. So I took advantage of everything. But anyway, that's the way I remember it.

TI: And so did the other electricians do kind of similar things, too, 'cause you had the truck?

TK: I think so, I didn't check 'em but we talked about it.

TI: When you would take things from the warehouse, did they have guards there?

TK: No, there were no guards there. Well, they did at one time, because the people were stealing the lumber. Everybody was, and I saw one old lady taking a four by eight plywood, well, it was quarter inch, but she was, I think she must have been sixty years old. She had it on her back and dragging it. And I thought, gee, I felt sorry for her. But I guess she took it back to where she lived.

TI: 'Cause generally, they'd have to walk a long ways to get to their block, or their building.

TK: That was the whole thing. Thirty blocks all together, thirty-five blocks, something like that. The lumber was right about in the middle.

TI: Okay, that's a good story.

TK: That was the contractor's lumber. So the, the camp guards didn't watch it. And the camp, the contractors had to put their own guards on it. Before the guards came on, boy, that pile went down.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.