Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sumiko M. Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Sumiko M. Yamamoto
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ysumiko-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

BT: Well, as, and you were about eighteen. I guess you were about nineteen then. That would have been '44. So in '43, when you got to Tule Lake, you were a young woman of eighteen. How were you coping with the lack of privacy?

SY: Well, that's when you take a shower or something like that, they have no partitions. So, and the bathrooms, they didn't have... well, they had partitions, but they were up to here. [Laughs] That's about all. At first, it was really hard.

BT: Oh, when you were in Salinas and at Poston?

SY: When we were at Salinas, yeah, it was the same.

BT: Well, you had started your period before camp then, right?

SY: Yes.

BT: And how was it... it must have been, you must have felt very uncomfortable using the bathrooms. Did you, how did you deal with that?

SY: Let me think. [Laughs] I don't know, we just... I guess... gee, I really don't know. I can't remember.

BT: You didn't try and use the bathrooms late at night?

SY: No, no. We dared not go late at night, because there's too many strange happenings. Late at night, if you're taking a shower or if you're using the bathroom, somebody would come in, sneak in.

BT: You mean men?

SY: Yeah. You'd get assaulted, yeah. They would assault you. So they said, "Don't ever go late at night."

BT: This was at Poston and at Tule Lake?

SY: No, I just heard it in Tule. There weren't too many of that, but there were.

BT: Did you feel physically threatened by men in Tule Lake?

SY: No, not especially. Because I think it was happening in the farther, you know, away from our block.

BT: Oh, the rumor was the other blocks?

SY: Yeah.

TI: And Sue, I'm curious, how did that kind of information get transferred? I mean, how did you hear about things, something like this which would be...

SY: Well, they said, "I heard this happened," you know. I said, "Oh."

TI: And so it would be kind of like in little groups.

SY: From word of mouth.

TI: Word of mouth.

SY: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: And so there was, you never heard this like in an announcement or something from the administration.

SY: No, no.

TI: This was all informal.

SY: Yes.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.