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-01-0017

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TI: Okay, so Marjorie, we're going to start the second hour.

MS: Okay.

TI: And so you talked about being at the Portland assembly center, and how you got along with the Portland people. The Portland people went to Minidoka, but the people from the Yakima valley were sent to Heart Mountain. So talk about the trip from Portland to Heart Mountain.

MS: You know, I don't remember an awful lot, excepting we boarded a train, and we arrived in Wyoming. It was such a shock, because here was this, kind of open space and prairie-like, although you could see the mountain from where we were. And I think it was about late afternoon that we arrived and then we, camp was a little ways from the track. And we arrived and were taken to our barracks. And it was, as far as living, it was a little bit more private than what we had in Portland, but it was pretty primitive, and the barracks hadn't really been completed. And all we had was a potbelly stove and an electric, electricity was one of these bulbs hanging down, and that was it. And then, of course, we had the, like the army cots and so forth. And there were a certain number of these barracks within a cluster where we had the mess hall, the latrines, and the washing facilities, and so that became kind of like your neighborhood. And what really struck us was to arrive here into this group of Japanese that looked so unfamiliar, they looked like primitive folks, they were different. They had the particular haircuts, they were rowdy, they were boisterous and very different. And I always talk about this one young teenager that I saw, her name was Martha Kaihatsu. She had a white t-shirt, red, red slacks, walking across the area like she owned the place. And that was a shock for all of us from the Pacific Northwest to see somebody so bold and dressed so... what I thought was really amazing. We never dressed like that. And I never met Martha Kaihatsu. I never want to, because in my mind, she is this gorgeous teenager, that white t-shirt and the red slacks just going across the area, never talked to her. But again, you sort of get used to folks, but they really were different. The young people were much more rowdy, and I think we were scared of 'em. I think they kind of knew that, too, and I think they sort of acted more, acted out more. But after all, you do get kind of used to them. But I really didn't get to know very many people. Here again, I worked for the recreation department, and we tried to have activities and so forth. And it was really --

TI: Before, yeah, we go there, so that's interesting to me that there's this sort of tension between these two groups. Did it ever break out into any fights or anything like that?

MS: I don't think so. Because again, if it were now, there might be. But people really, there's that basic culture of behaving, but that didn't mean that these guys were boisterous and so forth. And I just kind of hung around with my neighbors, the Abes and his, their friends, too, that would come, Florence, and so we just kind of hung around with them. But I wasn't there very long.

TI: Well, how about the Isseis? The difference between the Isseis in your group and the other group. And I'm guessing the other group is Los Angeles?

MS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.