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Title: Toshi Nagamori Ito Interview
Narrator: Toshi Nagamori Ito
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Laguna Woods, California
Date: November 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-itoshi-01-0018

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MN: What was your first impression of Heart Mountain?

TI: Well, it was a prairie and the wind was blowing and the dust was blowing. My mother and father said, "Oh, boy." [Laughs] "Sabaku desu."

MN: Did you ever see your parents cry during camp because of this?

TI: No, no, they never broke down and cried.

MN: Do you remember your barrack address?

TI: 30-17-B. Barrack 30 -- no, Block 30, Barrack 17, Unit B.

MN: Now, what kind of jobs did your parents find at Heart Mountain?

TI: Well, my father was a block manager, and that's a job of being the liaison between the administration and the people of Block 30. So if they had any grievances, they went to my father, and then my father would tell the administration what was wrong, or whatever problem they had that they wanted fixed. And my mother, since she was bilingual, she had the job of being interpreter for Ms. Virgil Paine, who was the social welfare director of the camp. And my mother interpreted for Ms. Paine, when the Issei people had problems.

MN: Now, at Heart Mountain, did your, did you and your parents continue to attend Sunday service?

TI: Yeah.

MN: Who was the pastor there?

TI: Well, I remember Donald Toriumi, and who other? There were several, but I can't remember because they were Issei pastors. Donald Toriumi was Nisei.

MN: Was his brother Howard Toriumi? Reverend Howard Toriumi?

TI: It could be, I don't know.

MN: And then you mentioned there were Nikkei families living near Heart Mountain?

TI: Yes. There were two farm families that lived near Heart Mountain, and they were there before we came. And one family particularly had sons, and they were of marriageable age, so the family was so happy to see all these Japanese people. And the mother and father would come to camp very often just to talk. And the boys came and found their brides there, yes. And then we had a Japanese American veterinarian, and he came to our camp and found a bride for (himself). (...)

MN: So these people could come and go as they wished into camp?

TI: Yeah, yeah.

MN: Now, what was food like at Heart Mountain?

TI: Well, the food was a little bit better, but at the beginning it was not. It was mostly canned food, you know. And then when they got the agriculture going, then we had fresh vegetables, and oh, what an improvement. But up until then, the food wasn't anything to talk about. [Laughs]

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.