Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura Interview
Narrator: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-tsetsu-01-0016

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TI: Any other stories from Portland assembly center?

ST: Well, it was very hot. Portland is hot, and at night they could close the doors to this main, we were all... it was a very large exhibition hall. And of course, like other places, the walls went up only about eight feet or so. And so everything you could hear. And they had the big sliding doors that were always open so there would be better ventilation. However, at night, they insisted that those doors be closed and locked, and there would be guards. And they had civilian guards, members of the community volunteered to be guards. And they did the inside and I think the soldiers did the outside. Well, they had this closed, but after a while, I think they didn't lock them anymore because of, just in case of fire or something. And one night, it was just very warm, and we heard shots. Now, I don't know if I really heard these shots, or whether people told me they heard these shots, so of course I remembered I heard these shots. But apparently an elderly gentleman, it was too hot for him, and he wanted to get a breath of fresh air, and he went out and was walking. And, of course, he was hard of hearing, and he didn't hear the soldier telling him to stop or whatever they tell them. And I don't know whether he was hurt or not, I really don't know. I never did hear the, what had happened. But I did hear that he was shot at. So that, but that's the only incident I ever knew about.

TI: So you were quite young, you're what, twelve years old.

ST: Yes, and I was very immature twelve.

TI: Were you ever frightened or scared in this environment?

ST: No. It was a lot of fun. For my age, we were in the perfect age group, because we were old enough so that we could be independent. We didn't have to have a parent to tell us to do this or do that. We just got up when you wanted to get up, you went to eat, when you heard the call for breakfast, you went to the dining area and you ate. All your friends could get together, it was the first time you could be together with all your, anybody you had met. You met knew people all the time. There was, they had a very good... the people there were very well-organized. They had a, what do you call, rec. group, and they organized days, they would have some kind of day, they would call it, and then they would have events for that day, you know, and they would have games and things going on outside. They would have games for the kids to do, we would have, just like an undoukai outside. And it was a lot of fun. We had movies, but not very good ones. I remember we saw Citizen Kane, and you know, we had talent night. There was something going on all the time. The assembly center, the exhibition hall was very large, and so where we ate dinner was, ate meals, it could be cleared and become a very nice place to have, show the movies. We had an actual, it would be an arena just like at Puyallup where they had the arena, only this one was paved and everything. And so we played in that arena every time. We had the floor to play on, we had all the stairs and steps and railings, we did gymnastics on the railings. And so I hear about -- and our unit, of course, we were one of the early ones there. The Portland people were one of the early ones to go into there because they staggered the entries. We had iron cots and mattresses. And I kept, I know that the very late arrivals had straw mattresses, and we were always thankful that we had the regular mattresses because of hay fever. And so, you know, it helped that part quite a bit. But it was a very small area, you know, and we shared our quarters with another father and his daughter. She was a lab tech at the, at our hospital. We had a hospital, she did the lab work.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.