Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masamizu Kitajima Interview
Narrator: Masamizu Kitajima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 12, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-kmasamizu-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And so you mentioned this was, what, five to seven days. This was a long time that you were in these...

MK: Yeah. I have... I just lost track. I couldn't keep track. The only thing I remember, the best thing I remember, the most heartening thing I remember is we got into Arkansas, Jerome, probably about, I would say ten o'clock, or probably closer to nine o'clock at night. And as we approached they said, "Oh, you're getting closer to Jerome." I don't know how they knew. Somebody said we were getting closer to Jerome, and as we got to Jerome I saw a big bonfire. Big, big fire. The guy, the people in Jerome were burning, had a bonfire from old crates and lumber and stuff like that, just to greet us. So the train pulled in, and as we got out the people helped us get off the train, and we all stood around the fire and held hands. After... these people, all the people from California who was, who was sent to Jerome earlier and who had, who knew that we were coming in from Hawaii, so they came out to greet us and help us out. And I guess they knew we're cold. They had blankets, lots of blankets with them. I don't know where they got the blankets from, 'cause I know they were... after we got in we couldn't get blankets, but I don't know whether they snuck these blankets in for us. So we had blankets, and we could warm up, stay warm. They put us on trucks and shipped us to the, our assigned barracks, and they came and helped us, until we got settled down. Lit the fire in the pot-bellied stove for us and stuff like that, helped us, "This is how you do things." Taught us how to do it.

TI: But having this group here, it made it a lot easier for you that you came, they had the fire for warmth, they were there. So these were Japanese and Japanese Americans from --

MK: California.

TI: -- California and other parts, and they had blankets for you. And you mentioned holding hands, who were you holding hands with?

MK: With each other, just because we got there together. And with them, some of the people said, "Hold hands, we're gonna be..." Said, "Hold hands together, so we'll be strong."

TI: That's a really powerful, powerful moment.

MK: And it seemed such a insignificant thing, to be there and say, "Hold hands," but under those conditions, we were... we had nothing, and here friends greet you. Meant so much.

TI: That's good. And then eventually they led you to your...

MK: Took us into the barracks. We had no idea how to live in, on the United, in... on the mainland. And Arkansas was a swamp, right? There was a, middle of a swamp that they dredged. And we didn't know how to make a fire, how to burn wood in a pot-bellied stove. So the guys went out and got wood for us, brought it into the room and says, "This oil can help you. This is how you do it." Started the fire for us. Said, "You have to go get your wood from now on." They helped. So much help.

TI: So it's almost like they... so they kind of knew that the Hawaiians would have a hard time, and so they would take the time to show.

MK: And they knew that there was no men, so all women and children.

TI: Just a little, I forgot to ask, so, the group that you went over with on the train, from the immigration center and then on the train, so was your family kind of typical, in terms of, you know, a mother and children?

MK: Yes.

TI: And were they all about the same size?

MK: About same age, same size.

TI: Same age, same size. Okay.

MK: 'Cause these are mostly all ministers' kids, ministers... there were some merchant who was bookstore seller, bookstore... you know, I guess there was some men, because Mr. Nakamura came, came with us then. I get, I get mixed up because some people came from Crystal City after we got to Jerome, and they had fathers with them. But mostly it was men, mostly it was women and children.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.