Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tokio Hirotaka - Toshio Ito - Joe Matsuzawa Interview
Narrators: Tokio Hirotaka, Toshio Ito, Joe Matsuzawa
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Date: May 21, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-htokio_g-01-0029

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, now you mentioned self-governance in Pinedale. What kind of governance was there over in Tule Lake?

JM: Well there was a kind of a self-government more, I guess, but then it was, the head people were WRA people. War Reloca --

TI: Individual blocks had their block managers and, so it was administered within the block by the man that was head of the block, block manager.

AI: How did that person get chosen, the block manager?

TI: Well, I don't really know but, didn't they have a price struc-, I mean, a wage structure of $12, $16, and $19? Per month?

JM: Yeah.

TI: The laborers got twelve bucks a month, and then the semi-professionals were sixteen, and then nineteen were the professionals.

JM: The, like doctors, dentists, and the people who are really, really well-educated, you know, got the higher... but, they had a camp farm, and the guys that volunteer to go to work on the farm, why, they got on a truck and went out to the farm. And they were paid the minimum wage.

TI: Oh, were they? Oh, I didn't know that.

TH: Minimum wage was eight dollars, was it?

JM: Well not... this isn't minimum wage, it was about fifteen, ten dollars a month, or something like that.

TI: Was it even as much as that much? I didn't think that.

TH: Oh, it was by the month...

JM: Yeah, month.

TH: Eight dollars a month?

JM: Yeah, something like that.

TH: Geez, that's hard.

JM: Yeah, ridiculous.

TI: But they got to go outside the camp, though. Every day.

JM: Yeah, they loaded 'em in trucks and went out to, went out to the farm and I don't really know -- I was out there one time, but I don't really know exactly where that farm was. It was probably five, ten miles out of camp.

TI: Did they send the guards out, with the people out on the farm?

JM: I think they were out, yeah. They were probably around there.

TH: Eight, twelve, and sixteen dollars, three?

TI: I think there were three.

TH: Yeah.

JM: Three categories.

TI: What was it? Eight, twelve, and sixteen?

TH: Yeah. Eight, twelve, and sixteen.

AI: And what kind of jobs did you end up doing, while you were in camp? Inside Tule.

JM: Well you didn't have to work if you didn't want to.

TI: No. Yeah, that's right. I, however, worked on a construction crew, picking up lumber and things like that. But the lumber is kind of a interesting story, too. I mean, everybody is scrounging around for a scrap of scrap lumber to make homemade furniture, so that was quite a prized item. When this construction crew away, you'd run up, run into some loose lumber, and you could take it home and try to make something with it.

JM: Yeah, well after a while why, people used to do things like that and then, I think it's within the camp, that area there was Indian country years ago. And they used to go around picking up arrowheads and all kinds of Indian artifacts, and then they'd go out and get sagebrush. And they would make beautiful things out of sagebrush, canes, furniture and everything. They'd take all that dead bark off and polish it up, and they really made some pretty stuff.

AI: Well, it's interesting for me, that thinking about this time of camp where, so many of you're farming families, you'd been used to working all day, every day. And then suddenly put into this situation where you don't have to have a job, and you don't have your farming life anymore, I was wondering what kind of effect this had on your parents, on your families, what such a big change was like?

JM: Well, I guess my mother, she's worried about all the kids. 'Course my brother, he was older but, my sister, she got polio when she was young so she was retarded, so she was worried about her, and then my other two brothers, they were pretty young yet then. Well, they were young, but they were getting bored. And so my, my younger brother, older of the two youngest, he went out from Pinedale and went to Utah. And that's what, when we went later on, though. But from Tule Lake is where the contract labor went out en masse.

AI: Right.

JM: Yeah. Went out to different areas, Idaho, Montana, Utah. To mainly to top beets, I think.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.