Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Archie Miyatake Interview
Narrator: Archie Miyatake
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 31 & September 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-marchie-02-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now, did your family go into an assembly center or go straight to Manzanar?

AM: Straight to Manzanar.

MN: How did you get to Manzanar?

AM: Okay, the thing, the way we had to do was go to the old train station, not the new Union Station where it is now, but the one that's further south from where it is now. It was an old train station and we, of course, before we went there we had to get shots and thing like that, and then...

MN: How did you get to the train station?

AM: Let's see, I'm trying to think of how we did get there. I think my father had somebody take us there so we didn't have to -- what my father did with his, the car was he gave it to Father Lavery of Maryknoll so he could use it, and then that took care of the car. And so all the equipment was put into public storage. That's right, my father's photography equipments was put into public storage.

MN: It wasn't put into one of your garages?

AM: Yeah, it was, some of it was in the garage and then some of it was in the public storage, the big things and things like that. But it was a good thing he did that because after being in internment camp for a while, people started saying he should start taking pictures, "because some of the boys are going into the army or relocating, so we need family pictures." So there was a, kind of a need for a studio to be opened, so my father decided to open a studio under the Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise, which meant that it was nonprofit type of business. But when he went to the camp director to ask him if he could start a studio, the camp director says, "You know, you can't open a studio because you're a Japanese and we're still in California and Japanese are not allowed to take photographs, so you have to hire a Caucasian to click the shutter. If that's okay with you then you can open your studio." So my father said okay, so they found this one fellow that just graduated photography school in Los Angeles, and he was hired and he came to Manzanar, so he was clicking the shutter after my father got everything all ready.

MN: I want to stop you right there on that story 'cause I still want to, I'll get back to that story.

AM: Okay.

MN: But we're still out, we're still getting to Manzanar right now, okay?

AM: Okay.

MN: Okay. The train that you took in 1942, were you on the same train with Ralph Lazo and Sue Kunitomi Embrey and Bruce Kaji?

AM: I think Ralph Lazo was on the train.

MN: Okay. Now, what were your thoughts and feelings about having to go to camp?

AM: Well, I had to kind of give up the idea of trying to live in Los Angeles because if it's war with Japan I just had to kind of forget that, living in Los Angeles is something that's gonna be too hard and gonna treated like, as an enemy anyway, I thought. So I didn't hesitate -- well, I thought maybe this was the only way for Japanese to live as, if we could live through this war together that might be the only way, so I kind of gave that thought. So while leaving Los Angeles was not very good, but that was the only thing we could do, so my father signed up with people in Little Tokyo and so we had to leave quite early compared to some of the other people who went to Poston and Gila, because those camps were not even built then. And so we went to Santa Fe Station and got on the train, and my mother prepared some lunch for us to eat so we had a lunch to eat in case we got hungry, so, well, families stayed together, so that way we kind of felt pretty safe. And so we had to get on the train, but the thing about it was we had to close the window; we couldn't look out. So we had to stay in the dark all the way just about. We could not see outside because we were not allowed to do that. And so, well, it was a long ride.

MN: How long was the ride?

AM: Oh, we left about seven or eight o'clock in the morning and we got there about four or five, I think, and from there we took the bus into, into the Manzanar, from Lone Pine that is.

MN: So the train went to Lone Pine and then from there you took the bus. Do you remember what month this was in '42?

AM: It was July, I think.

MN: Might be a little earlier since you were one of the earlier.

AM: Oh, that's right, yeah.

MN: Could it be May?

AM: Or early June maybe.

MN: Okay, early June.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.