Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Thomas Shigekuni Interview
Narrator: Thomas Shigekuni
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 31, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-sthomas-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Now, after a few months at Santa Anita Assembly Center they sent to you to Colorado, and which camp did they send you to?

TS: Amache, Colorado.

MN: Now, the official name is Granada --

TS: Granada (War Relocation Center).

MN: -- but why does the, why do you folks call it Amache?

TS: We didn't, somebody gave it the name Amache. She was supposed to be an Indian princess in that area, goes way back, I don't know, a century or so, but Amache was a famous Indian princess. I don't know, I didn't even know that they had Indian princesses, but that's what they called it, Amache.

MN: Do you remember how you got to Amache/Granada?

TS: (Yes), on a train.

MN: Do you remember that train ride?

TS: (Yes).

MN: Share with me what you remember of that ride.

TS: The, nothing but soldiers, hakujin soldiers, and they were very friendly to us. I couldn't believe. You know, there's so much hostility on the West Coast against us, and these soldiers were very friendly.

MN: Now, these soldiers, were they passengers or were they guarding you?

TS: No, they were passengers going somewhere.

MN: So it was a mixed group with people going to camp and soldiers going somewhere else.

TS: In the train... when they transferred us from Santa Anita to Amache, that's when I saw these soldiers on the train.

MN: Now, what about the dining room? Was it all African American servers?

TS: (Yes).

MN: Did they treat you, how did they treat you?

TS: Fine. They talked to us, they served us. First time I sat in a dining room with tablecloth, and flowers on the tables. I said boy, this is fancy stuff. I never had that experience. My mother never had table, white tablecloth on her, at our house.

MN: Do you remember how long that train ride took?

TS: Couple days. Two or three days.

MN: Did you have to sleep sitting up?

TS: (Yes).

MN: Did the train stop at all?

TS: (Yes), they were always stopping. They were always puttin' us off to the siding and other trains would shoot by and then we'd get on. We apparently had a slow train.

MN: You mentioned about the trains back then, when you used the bathrooms --

TS: They'd spray 'em on the track. They didn't keep, have a holding tank. They sprayed it, and I remember we used to be standing on the side of the track and we, the spray hit us. I didn't appreciate that at all.

MN: Do you think that was done on purpose?

TS: I don't think so. They didn't know what was there, the people on the train.

MN: Now, when you got to Colorado, how did they take you off the train and into camp? Was it by a bus?

TS: Bus, they put us on a (bus of the ordinary kind).

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.