Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank K. Omatsu Interview
Narrator: Frank K. Omatsu
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: October 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-ofrank-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

SY: So do you remember the days leading up to that, though, what you had to try to separate out, what you decided to take?

FO: Well, they gave us a list of stuff that we can take, and list of stuff that we can't take. We can't have cameras or radios or anything like that. That's why it amazes me, when I go to the JA museum, you know the TV show that they have in the Common Ground? I sit there just to recall old memories, and I wonder how they got these cameras in there.

SY: The movie cameras, because of the film that they shot.

FO: Yeah. It's amazing. But later on, I thought... I was talking to Harry Honda, he says, "Maybe the army boys brought it in."

SY: I think there... yeah, each person has a different story of how they got it in, I think. But you were told specifically, and how about, like, things like books and other...

FO: Yeah, you could take books and stuff that you can carry. It said on there, "only things you can carry."

SY: Right. So you remember what you chose to take with you? Did you pack your own things?

FO: Yeah, you know, at that time we were involved in sports, so we took all of our sports, baseball bat, ball and glove and stuff like that. And then at that time, I don't know how it started, but they say buy boots, so there was a run on boots at Sears. Everybody had boots. And then everybody, they said, you know, "It's going to be cold wherever we're gonna be sent, we're gonna be sent inland, so it's gonna be cold." So everybody got the lumber jacket-like, heavy jacket.

SY: So you did hear something about where...

FO: Well, there was a lot of rumors going on, so...

SY: Lot of rumors. So you had maybe some idea, but it was, didn't know where it came from.

FO: No.

SY: And so when you, okay, so these two groups that went to St. Mary's, did they end up getting split up?

FO: Yes. We all went together to Santa Anita, and then from there, we were divided. Half of them went to Gila, and Grandpa, Father John took half to Gila, and Grandpa Yamazaki took the rest of us to Arkansas.

SY: So somehow the Yamazakis had, were in charge of, or something like that, two different groups.

FO: Yes. See, because the Yamazakis, Father John had just become an ordained minister.

SY: And he was the oldest son.

FO: And he was the oldest son. The second son, James, was at Marquette University studying. He wanted to be a medical doctor. Then Peter, the youngest son, he went to UCLA. In fact, all the Yamazakis went to UCLA. He was drafted, went into the army. He was in the army already.

SY: Before?

FO: Yeah, before evacuation.

SY: I see. So the oldest son, was it his choice, then, to take this group to Gila?

FO: Well, evidently. I don't know whose choice it was, but we had to have religious leader, so to speak. So they became the symbols.

SY: I see. And your group ended up going to what camp in Arkansas?

FO: Jerome.

SY: Jerome.

FO: The other part, Father John, they were in the desert. We were in the bayou, you know, there's a lot of swamp, lot of water, so we had to drain all that.

SY: Wow. And that was a long trip from Santa Anita.

FO: Yeah, it sure was.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.