Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ted Kitayama Interview
Narrator: Ted Kitayama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 25, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kted-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So now let's get to the end of the train ride, so you're, the train ride ends, and what happens next? Where are you, and what was it like?

TK: I think the train ride ended in Barstow, California, and from there we boarded a bus and had about a two hour ride in the hot sun to Manzanar.

TI: And then when you got to Manzanar, what were your impressions of Manzanar?

TK: It sure was different from the train ride. [Laughs]

TI: How so? Why was it different? Why was it different?

TK: It was a fairly desolate place, and the, I don't, I'm not sure if they, what kind of process we had to go through, but the first thing I remember is that they, is that they gave us some, I don't know what you call it, a mattress bag, I guess, and they told us there's some straw in the field. Go up there and fill it, and that's your mattress. And that's the first thing I remember of Manzanar, except that when you got in the barracks there were cracks in the floor, and then when the wind blew all the sand blew up into the room.

TI: As a family unit -- I know your oldest brother was away from college --

TK: Right.

TI: Were the rest of the kids going down to the Manzanar? Were there, like, five?

TK: Five, yeah.

TI: Five kids. And so how large a room did, or rooms, did you have one room or two rooms for your family?

TK: I think we had one room, but I think the barracks were, I'm not exactly sure, I think some of the barracks were divided into four units of bigger rooms, and I think there were some barracks were divided into six rooms with smaller rooms. And we had one of the bigger units.

TI: Now you were the first, I believe the first group at Manzanar, so when you got there who else was there? I mean, were there still workers building the camp? Or what, describe what you saw when you got there.

TK: When I got there I think that they were building either Block 5 or Block 6, when we got there, but I think Block, I think at that time Block 1 was the administration area, and I think Block 2 was, they had a bachelor's quarter, and I think there were some bachelors already there, and we were in Block 3. And there was construction going on and pretty much the camp wasn't even built when we got there.

TI: So when you first got there what instructions did they give the group, or you, in terms of what you could and could not do when you got there?

TK: Well, if they gave any instruction I never got any directly that I remember.

TI: Well things like, even the meal schedule, did they talk about that in terms of when the meals were gonna be and how you did that?

TK: I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that they, for meals I think they banged on a frying pan or something and they, and that was to come to the mess hall to eat.

TI: And what are your memories of the food that, especially in those first days? What was that like?

TK: I don't remember the first, the food we had, but... I'm not even sure what kind of serving utensils we had. I think it was the GI aluminum pans, but I'm not sure.

TI: How long were you there before other groups of Japanese started arriving at Manzanar? Do you remember how long, like, you guys had the camp to yourselves and then pretty soon more people started coming?

TK: I think there were other people coming almost right after we did.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.