Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Grace Watanabe Kimura Interview
Narrator: Grace Watanabe Kimura
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kgrace-01-0013

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MA: So I wanted to go back a little bit and ask you about Poston. So you were, were you a senior in high school when Pearl Harbor happened?

GK: (...) I was in the middle of my senior year. I just really had one more semester to go.

MA: Okay, so that really interrupted your, I mean, high school education.

GK: Right, right.

MA: And then you were saying they didn't have the high school built yet in Poston.

GK: No.

MA: When did you, do you remember when you arrived in Poston? Is that, it was 1942, but do you remember the month?

GK: Right. I think it was the end of May.

MA: End of May, okay.

GK: 1942.

MA: And you never went to an assembly center?

GK: No. At least we didn't have to go to an assembly center, at least they gave us that break, that we didn't have to go to the assembly center. So we went directly from home to Poston, the permanent camp.

MA: And was that because of where you lived, or was that because of your father and the intervention?

GK: No, I guess that was because we did get permission that we could stay a little longer because of our father.

MA: And so when you arrived in Poston, it was really, I'm assuming, still being built (and) facilities were very rudimentary.

GK: Yes, very much so, yes. So it wasn't really comfortable or settled yet when we got there.

MA: And you said that Poston was on a reservation.

GK: (Yes), Indian reservation.

MA: Did you ever, was there ever any interaction with the people living on the reservation, or did you see them?

GK: Oh, no, we didn't see any Indian people, no. Just Japanese.

MA: And what about the food in Poston? What do you remember about that, what you ate?

GK: Well, the only thing I remember was we were fed lamb stew. We had lamb stew day in and day out, and the meat was not tender, it was more like mutton, tough meat. And it had carrots and potatoes in it, but it was not very tasty. But that's what I remember, the lamb stew. So I don't like lamb to this day. It just reminds me of camp. And I guess we had other things, but I don't really remember. It was not too good.

MA: And was there, at that point -- I know you were there for only...

GK: Five months.

MA: ...five months, but was there like a Christian church that was set up, or any type of religious activity?

GK: No, nothing was organized at that point. And I remember Dr. (Paul) Nagano, he started out in Poston I where we were. But then they moved to Poston III to start up a church. But then during the time I was there, there were no organized churches.

MA: Okay, so you were in Poston I.

GK: Yes.

MA: Okay. And so when you were in Poston, your father actually passed away, is that right?

GK: Yes. It was twenty-five days after we arrived in camp, then we got the news that my father had passed away. So then they said, "Well, all right, then you could go back to California to make the final arrangements and attend the funeral service." So my mother and the three daughters got on the train and we went back to Los Angeles, and two of the minister friends met us at the station, and they had a beautiful service for him. And, of course, there were no Japanese people, just Caucasian people. But it was good that they had something, a service for him. And then when we came back, then the Japanese ministers had another service for him. Because there were quite a few Japanese ministers there of different denominations, and they kept in touch with other. The Baptists, they kept in touch with the Methodists and the Presbyterians and so forth. So they were good enough to have another service for him, so it was very touching. And my mother said that they had these little flowers made of colored Kleenex, you know, and empty coffee cans filled with sand, because at that point, there were no flowers or anything. So that was very touching.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.