Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazumi Yoneyama Interview
Narrator: Kazumi Yoneyama
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 23, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-ykazumi-01-0007

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MN: Do you remember how you found out that you still had to go into camp?

KY: No, I don't remember. I mean, if Papa says, "Tomorrow we're going someplace," tomorrow we went someplace.

MN: Do you remember the day or the month you left for camp?

KY: No, I do not. I know it was the first time I had ever been on a train. It was the first time I had left California, because we ended up in a concentration camp in Gila, Arizona. And I don't know how we got to the train station or any of that.

MN: Do you remember a lot of soldiers?

KY: No, I don't remember a lot of soldiers. I think once we got on the train we were told to keep the shades drawn, and I think we stayed, well, at least I stayed in my seat all the way except when I had to go to the toilet. I don't remember if we stopped anywhere or if we were allowed to leave the car that we were in.

MN: And is this the time you had a pet turtle?

KY: Yeah, I had a turtle and I put it in this matchbox, and I forgot to give it water, so it went to heaven on our way to Arizona.

MN: What did you do with the turtle remains?

KY: I don't remember. [Laughs]

MN: Now when you got to Gila, which camp did you end up in, Canal or Butte?

KY: We ended up in Canal, and most of the people in my block were from Central Cal. And I don't exactly remember if these were kids from my block or my school, but we had people from Sanger, Fresno, Fowler, Kingsburg, probably Reedley, in the block.

MN: Do you remember what your address was at Gila?

KY: 22-12-A. And my uncle, my aunt, and my three cousins lived in 22-12-B.

MN: Now in your apartment, who did you live with?

KY: My parents and I and my sister, until my sister got married in camp. She married a Selma boy that she had met -- Selma, California -- that she had met either on the boat going to Japan or the boat coming back from Japan just before the war. And when we left camp, I think we were probably one of the last to leave because my parents didn't know where they wanted to live when they grew up. So we went to live in Selma with my brother-in-law, to his family farm, and we stayed there for a few months and then we moved back to Sanger.

MN: So when you left Gila, did you leave with your sister and your brother-in-law?

KY: I don't remember, but I would think so. But, well, let me back up. My brother-in-law had two brothers and a mother in camp in the same block as we lived. So my sister may have gone with that side of the family.

MN: Now you mentioned this sister got married in camp. What was the wedding like?

KY: I don't remember. By that time, people had been sent to Tule, so there were some vacancies in our block. So my sister and her husband moved to a barrack, but it was within our block, just not in our unit.

MN: And then who occupied the other empty apartments?

KY: Well, in 22-12, I don't know... I don't remember who lived in C and D.

MN: Once the Tule Lake people left, did the Jerome people come in?

KY: Yes. We had a few of those that came in, into our block.

MN: How did it change the atmosphere of the block once Jerome people came in?

KY: Well, I don't know how it changed the atmosphere. There were two boys that came in from Jerome who were like my age, a little bit younger or a little bit older, so, I mean, as far as a kid goes, that was the important thing, that there were two more boys in our block. But as far as anything else goes, again, I was too young to get involved in the politics or any of that. My father was the Block Manager of Block 22 for a while, so it may have caused him extra work to account for people moving in and out. One of the things that I enjoyed in him being a Block Manager is all the mail got delivered to the Block Manager's office, and there were little cubbyholes for each unit. So when somebody got like a Life magazine, I read it before I put it away which probably wasn't kosher. But my father didn't object as long as nobody else knew about it. [Laughs]

MN: What did your mother do in camp?

KY: Oh, I think it was the first time she ever had any leisure time. Because there was no use cleaning the room. She didn't have to cook, because we all went to the mess hall, and that might have been when she started to do crocheting and knitting, because she probably never had time to do that before we ended up in camp.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.