Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marjorie Matsushita Sperling Interview
Narrator: Marjorie Matsushita Sperling
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-smarjorie-01-0016

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TI: So talk a little bit more about setting up a, the recreation, sort of, group. I mean, in terms of what went on, and was there talk amongst the group in terms of what you wanted to accomplish as a group? I mean, here this group had all just come together.

MS: Activities, we had activities like tournaments and so forth. But it was to keep people busy. And, but I think the thing that I remember about eating with two thousand people was we never did like French toast flattened out. [Laughs] And they would have, you know, they would reconstitute dried fruit, and that was a mess. I think some of us grew up not really liking that. But really, I think Portland people and we got along very well. And when we got the word that we were going to Heart Mountain, it just broke our hearts, because we really got so we knew each other.

TI: And so they sort of divided, I mean, separated the Wapato, Yakima valley to go to Heart Mountain and then the Portland people would go to Minidoka.

MS: Went to Minidoka.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. The other thing I was wondering, before you went to Portland, was there any information or rumors about another assembly center in Eastern Washington? Did you hear about that? Because there actually was...

MS: Yes, we heard about Puyallup.

TI: Not Puyallup, but in Eastern Washington.

MS: No, we didn't hear about that one.

TI: They actually built an assembly center.

MS: Oh, they were talking about Toppenish. I only learned that afterwards, that they were talking about Toppenish being... no, that's something I learned after, years later.

TI: Yeah, I was just curious. I learned about this much later also, and I was just curious if the people in the valley...

MS: Never did.

TI: Because that was the design, or the plan, for the valley people to go there.

MS: You see, now, Kara would have known. I mean, Kara probably learned about it afterwards, too, but we've never talked about it. So anyway, I really was irritated to think that we were put into the concentration camp. I really was mad. And my father said, "Well, we're all together," you know, philosophical. These nice Japanese, you know, always wanted to keep peace. But anyway, I enjoyed the Portland Assembly Center because the people were really amenable. They weren't different. We found that difference when we got to Heart Mountain.

TI: Well, in terms of Portland, I've interviewed a lot of Seattle people when they went to Puyallup. And there was quite a bit of tension internally between, say, some of the older Nisei and the Isseis in terms of who would run kind of the internal workings of the assembly center and Puyallup. Did you see any of that happen at...

MS: No. I was of the younger group, so I would not have been able to understand any of that. And the camp was run pretty good by the time we got there. So I think we just, thirteen hundred coming in probably didn't disturb it at all, their arrangements. But it was really kind of irritating, on a Sunday, that the white folks would be driving right by us and peeking in at us and so forth. And then to have the Jantzen Beach across the river, so that. But it's amazing how a human being adjusts; it really is. And I think that's something that we have lost. Nowadays people get so irritated if things aren't immediate, or they feel they have to wait. I don't think there's a sense of a process. But I think that's what got us through.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.