Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Muramatsu Interview
Narrator: Frank Muramatsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 10, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank_2-01-0011

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TI: So let's talk about that. So now at some point you get the notice or the orders that you have to move and get picked up and sent someplace. Did you know where you were going to go when they were going to pick up the Japanese families?

FM: I didn't. I certainly didn't, and I doubt that anybody in our family, maybe... see, we went to the Portland Assembly Center.

TI: Right, right, which was kind of the... it wasn't that far away.

FM: No, for us it wasn't that far. That was in (northwest) Portland.

TI: Right. So I was wondering if you knew that that's where you would end up.

FM: I think... well, then, a couple of days before we had to go, I finally realized that we were going to the livestock exposition grounds building there. And we had been there before. I remember going there prior (...). And a time or two I remember going there to watch rodeo performances taking place. And then they told us that's where we were going. Of course, I had no idea how they were going to, how they were going to construct the... people living there, but found out they did put floors in the stall area, and they even put a wooden floor on the arena. It was kind of crowded for us, because the family was big, there were ten of us, and they didn't have... the largest room probably was twenty-by-twenty, or maybe twenty-four... they went in four-foot sections because they had four-foot plywood, eight feet high, four foot wide, and they put these on vertically. (...) So for us, we were very crowded in the place. I think we were probably one of the bigger families that was evacuated to Portland Assembly Center. Well, maybe not. Because they had, you know, Japanese families were pretty large, they had some pretty good-sized ones there. But we did have ten people in the room.

TI: Now how did going to the Portland Assembly Center change the family dynamics?

FM: Well, from there on in, Tom, we didn't have a family. As I think about it now, we didn't have a family. That was about the time (...). I didn't speak to Mom hardly at all after that. You know, if you're living at home and with your parents six or eight hours a day, you have to speak to them (...). We didn't eat with them, we only slept with them. That was about the extent of the association that I had with my parents. And that continued completely all during the time we were in either that camp or in Minidoka. I didn't do hardly anything with my folks.

TI: So at this point you were like sixteen years old, because you probably just turned sixteen?

FM: I just turned sixteen after I had been in there a couple of weeks.

TI: Now was that true for your older siblings, too, or was this for the older two?

FM: No, my brother George... see, Henry pretty well stayed at home, I mean, stayed with the family, who was two years younger. But of course my sisters and my younger brother earl was only two years old, so he was naturally home. And my sisters were younger, so they stayed pretty much at home. But I know that I had found other friends, made other friends, did some work, and so I was gone, and certainly didn't eat with the family at home.

TI: So for you it was a pretty dramatic change.

FM: That was the end of my association with my family, you know, Mom and Pop family. And my other family, the rest of my siblings, too. I just don't know too much how, where my brother went. I know that he left, but I don't know when he left, there wasn't a particular time when George said, "Okay, I'm going to go to..." and I think he went to Chicago. But I don't know that we anticipated his leaving, and he was gone. One day he was gone, and that was it. But I regret that; that was a thing that I think I really missed. I lost all my ability to speak Japanese, which I didn't do too much to begin with, you know, but when that happened, that was the end of my association with them completely.

TI: Was that hard for your parents or your dad and mother that...

FM: I would imagine it was.

TI: And yet their hands were pretty full with the other...

FM: Yeah, they had kids, but I would imagine... I don't know that it was hard. I think they probably, you know, psychologically felt that their older family, older part of... you know, George and I, we left fairly quickly after, and I'm sure that they thought, "Oh, there goes my family." But on the other hand, I didn't talk to them at all.

TI: Did they ever, do you think they worried about you maybe being influenced by other people?

FM: They didn't talk to me that way. They did not talk to me to say, "Okay, you got to find your friends properly." But you know, in Minidoka, we didn't have that kind of a, we didn't have any problems with getting together with people that were renegades, kids. I think they were all pretty nice kids to begin with, so we didn't have that kind of a problem. I didn't feel that I needed to be talked to by my mom and dad about who I was friends with.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.