Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

ME: You went to Puyallup first...

AK: Yes.

ME: What was the ride like there? How did you get there?

AK: They took us in a big bus, great big Greyhound buses. And when we got there it was the campgrounds, Puyallup campgrounds. And the animal stalls were converted to living quarters. And the parking lot was converted to living quarters with plywood barracks. And we were to stuff the mattresses with hay, and it was -- they gave us army cots and then they gave us these bags and we were to stuff them for mattresses. And they told us to go get some hay. Well, it was very interesting, because the first thing, we stuffed them so full that when we took it back to the barracks, we'd try to get on it and we'd roll right off of it. And so we'd have to go empty some of it. But my sister, Suma, was very asthmatic, so that was terrible. She could not survive with the straw mattresses, you know. And so she spent a lot of time in the hospital in camp, because of her asthma. And so the medical care was not that adequate either.


AK: So Puyallup was more of a assembly center...

ME: Right.

AK: So it was very temporary as far as the quarters were, there was no insulation and they used, they must have used third grade plywood. They had all these knotholes all over, so you could see your neighbors as well. And it was very crowded quarters.


AK: And we were divided into four different areas. Area A, B, C, and D, and people in the different parts of town were moved at different times.

ME: Which area were you?

AK: And we were in area B.

ME: Area B?

AK: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

ME: Okay.

AK: And then it was very interesting because as we entered, I realized there were barbed wire fences all around us. And I always considered barbed wire fences were fences to keep the cattle out of the farm areas, and whatever. So it was pretty interesting, and then also, that it was so crowded. Six people in one room.


ME: When you were... during your time in Puyallup, did people drive by to see what was going on?

AK: Yes, and, but also friends came by. And one interesting thing was, as we entered the camp we saw this guard tower with a soldier pointing a gun towards us. And it was very shocking because although we were being incarcerated, I really never felt that we were being under military, you know, what would you say... control. And that we were under suspect, and so why would there be a gun pointing towards us? It was a rather frightening experience. And also the guard tower was manned by such a young man. And, we did get into conversation with him and he was very young from the South that had never seen any Japanese Americans or Japanese. And so, it was very hard on him.

ME: What was it like talking to him?

AK: He was afraid first, you know. And he kept saying, "Don't come near the fence," don't do this, don't do that. But, gradually, I'm sure he was lonesome also, and just being a human being -- just got into conversation and you know...

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.