Densho Digital Archive
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Title: Masamizu Kitajima Interview
Narrator: Masamizu Kitajima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 12, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-kmasamizu-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now, for the, even though the basics were taken care of, you still, the family would still need extra things like toiletries or maybe extra blankets, which would take money. How would you get money while you were in Jerome?

MK: Okay, my mom... well everybody could get a job if they wanted to. The salary was sixteen dollars a month for subsistence. With that you had to buy your clothes. If it was anything else, like blankets, blankets provided by the WRA, War Relocation Authority, toilet papers and stuff like that, they were all public bathrooms, within the compound, which had eighteen barracks, I think. And all that was taken care of. Now, my mom, because she had five kids, she felt that during the day she had to be with the children, take care of the children. She would work at night, when the kids were sleeping, or she could work someplace, sometime when she, when the, she didn't need to watch the kids. So she took the job as a janitor to clean the latrines, both the women, men and women's latrines and the showers.

TI: Oh, so within your block, so she stayed within the block.

MK: Within our block, yes. So everybody had different jobs to do, like the cooks. They had so many cooks on our block, and the block manager, they had yard cleaner... different, different jobs so that they had some kind of thing to do, but those that were bored with it, they couldn't... like a guy who was a cop and they had no job to do. No work. Or a farmer. They worked night and day all in the normal life and now they got to sit on their butt not doing anything. And I remember that that was the worst thing that ever happened to them, that they died of boredom. They just bored, so bored.

TI: But in the case of your mother, she had to not only raise, still take care of five kids --

MK: Five kids, yeah.

TI: -- but then whenever she could at night she would do the janitor...

MK: She would do janitorial work. Sometimes midday she'd go out and do a short job and come back home.

TI: Were there... did your family ever get help, like maybe other people to help watch the younger children or anything like that?

MK: Yeah, we would help each other, neighbors to neighbors would help each other. And of course the families got closer as far as the neighborhood gets closer, but then you also knew that you were always intransient. You didn't know what was gonna happen tomorrow. Until... my dad was supposed to come visit us sometime in '43, but Mom said, "Don't come back. If you come, it's gonna be so hard when you leave. The kids are very... they've adjusted to not having you around, so it may be cruel and you want to come back, but don't come back," because we see the others, other people who, other guys, men who had come and who had to go back, how it affected the family. So Mom told him, "Don't come." Said, "When you come, you have to be permanent." Said, "Don't come for a week or two weeks and then have to leave again," so my dad never came home from Louisiana.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So your mother would sort of watch other families go through that process, and so when the father visited for a short time, the family would come together. Then he would have to leave.

MK: Break again.

TI: And that was very, very hard on the families. So hard that your mother said, "Don't come."

MK: So then she said, "Don't come." That's the type she was.

TI: So she would sacrifice not seeing your father just because she knew how hard it would be on the children to do that.

MK: I always felt that that was kind of unique in a sense, that she can, she'd think, think of those things ahead of time.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.