Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Miyoko Tsuboi Nakagawa Interview
Narrator: Miyoko Tsuboi Nakagawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: South Bend, Washington
Date: April 30, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-nmiyoko_2-01-0008

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TI: And so tell me more about the Portland Assembly Center. Like where did you live in the Portland Assembly Center?

MN: In Portland Assembly Center we lived in a small stall. I don't know if that's a horse stall or what, but it was very small. And I'm kind of thinking we might have shared this little small space with another family with a curtain in between. But it was partitioned off so you could hear everything, more or less, that was going on. And, of course, if you're going to speak about, talk about something, you really have to talk about it, whisper it, otherwise people could hear your conversation. [Laughs] Very public.

TI: When you were growing up, things that maybe a mother might talk to their daughter about, whether it's puberty or sex, how did you learn about those things?

MN: I just learned it by accident. [Laughs]

TI: So no one told you about these things.

MN: No.

TI: So how was that for you?

MN: That was really rather... I think we were visiting somebody, I don't know. It seems like it might have happened then. But I had to find out for myself what to do. Sort of, kind of a hard thing, not growing up without... I didn't talk to any other friends about things like that, and I don't think we discussed anything like that either.

TI: So how did you learn? I mean, who did you go to? Was there someone you could ask, like a school nurse or someone like that?

MN: No, I didn't ask anybody, I think I just sort of kind of found out what to do.

TI: So you just had to figure it --

MN: Of course, by that age, I should, I didn't have to go investigate. But I don't know whether I heard other people talking or whatever. But never thinking about things happening to yourself, so it was sort of a rude awakening, so to speak.

TI: So at the Portland Assembly Center, you finished high school. So at the Portland Assembly Center, did you get a job when you were there?

MN: Yes.

TI: What was your job?

MN: I was doing waitressing, so that was about the only job that was available. That was kind of fun. But we had to be on the job at seven a.m. in the morning, ready to greet the people coming in for breakfast. So we had to be there a little earlier, I'm sure, set the table or whatever. But it was fine.

TI: So a waitress, did you serve the food, or was it more cleaning the tables, or what did you do?

MN: No, the food was already in a, sort of like a potluck thing, I think. And so everybody took whatever, served themselves. But like coffee and water, I think coffee and water and things that like, I kind of feel like I must have poured something, I had to do something, I couldn't just stand around.

TI: Yeah, because I've seen pictures where people would have trays, get their food, go sit down, they would eat and then they would take their dirty plates to the side, too, so I was wondering what a waitress would do.

MN: Gee, I don't recall plates. I don't recall trays. I remember the busboys, they used to come down and collect all the dishes and everything. So I feel like they were all out there.

TI: Just out there?

MN: Yeah. I think it was set. That's my recollection; I don't recall trays.

TI: So when you weren't working, what would you do?

MN: Yeah, I was trying to think to myself, what did I do? Probably went around with my girlfriends and... I don't know what kind of entertainment there was.

TI: Okay, so after Portland where did you to? The Portland Assembly Center? Where'd you go next?

MN: Well, in September... see, we were in Portland Assembly Center from May through August, and September, we went to Minidoka. We rode in these old-fashioned trains. It seemed like they had lamps, but I don't think so. It's just probably thinking that... but I remember when we went through Hanford, passed by, we had to put our shades down, we weren't supposed to, they didn't want you to be looking out at things, I think. And we had, of course, we had the soldiers walking through. But there were, nobody bothered us or anything. I don't recall anything happening.

TI: Going back, you said when you went by Hanford, so this would be kind of the Hanford where they did the nuclear processing? Was it because they didn't want you to see that, or was it the town?

MN: I was trying to think of where the... I can't... I'm trying to think. I know we didn't go exactly by it or anything, but the rail... I'm trying to recall why or where. That's the thing; I should have been looking, but we'd be sitting and chatting, I think, with a girlfriend or something and going, or maybe... but I'm not quite sure. All I know is that they said we had to, that they were going by, it was necessary for us to pull the blinds, that's all I remember. [Laughs] Security, I guess.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.