Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yukio Kawaratani Interview
Narrator: Yukio Kawaratani
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: October 26, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kyukio-01-0018

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MN: And then earlier you shared about your first impressions of Tule Lake when you got there. It sounds like it was a real prison there.

YK: Right.

MN: Which block was your family assigned to?

YK: Well, we were in Block 43. Not 43, we were block 34, actually, and we were on the corner of the camp, which was close to the effluent or sewage treatment plant. So it was pretty stinky. In fact, the blocks in that portion of the camp were called "Sewer Heights." [Laughs] But you get used to the smell, but whenever you had visitors, they'd always say, "How can you stand the smell, the stench?" But anyway, that's where we were.

MN: So when you moved into Block 34, were there furniture there left from the previous occupants?

YK: No. No, we had to kind of start all over again. There was just the beds, and this time, they weren't straw mattresses, anyway. They had regular mattresses, and of course were given the blankets and sheets and things like that. And then we had to go scrounge this time behind the mess hall and get old wooden boxes to make some furniture.

MN: So you had to start all over again to make furniture.

YK: Yeah.

MN: Now when your family first arrived at Tule Lake, and your barrack had only six beds, but there were eight people in your family, how did you break up the sleeping arrangements?

YK: Yeah. Well, yeah, we were wondering why they only had six beds, and so two of my sisters slept together and then I slept with my mother. And then we did have an incident there where one night, my father came and stood next to the bed, and he kissed and fondled my mother, and eventually joined us in bed. And so I was, of course, kept quiet while they were making love. And, of course, in the end, things became more rapid, and he let out a nice moan in satisfaction. But my mother had ten children with him, so she was quiet most of the time. But, of course, I was already twelve, so I knew what was going on. But I wondered if the others had noticed, but, of course, they wouldn't say so. [Laughs]

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.