Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Amy Iwasaki Mass Interview
Narrator: Amy Iwasaki Mass
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 12, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-470-5

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BN: Do you remember much about Pomona, the assembly center?

AM: You know, the thing that I remembered the most is that we were next door to each other, to my cousin, and the wood there still had knotholes in it, so my cousin and I arranged to sleep in the corner, she on one side of the wall and me on the other side, and we poked holes through and we talked to each other. That was the fun part. The food was bad, the first day we were there, I think they served us rice pudding because they must have heard someplace that the Japanese eat rice, but we never ate rice that was sweet. [Laughs] My cousin, she threw up, she had a hard time.

BN: Now, did all of you live in one room?

AM: No, we were in two rooms, our family with the six of us, and then my aunt with the four children.

BN: Wait, so the (eleven) of you were in two rooms?

AM: (Narr. note: Two families, eleven people in two rooms). Well, I think the barracks had more rooms, but I was just familiar with ours and my cousin next door. But there could have been two or three more rooms (in the one barrack we were in). I think we were better off than, like Santa Anita and being in the horse stalls.

BN: Because these were regular barracks, right?

AM: Uh-huh.

BN: I always ask people this just because, I don't know, it's my own fascination. What were the bathrooms?

AM: Yeah, the bathrooms, you had to go to the, you have to walk to them, mess halls you had to walk to them.

BN: Were they flush toilets at Pomona or was it latrine...

AM: I think they were flush toilets.

BN: And then partitioned?

AM: I don't remember Pomona. I think by Heart Mountain, they had partitions, maybe not doors in front, but the sides. And then there were improvements made, but I do remember that, one thing about camp and bathrooms, is my mother would need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so she had a chamber pot like many women. And as kids we made a lot of fun of chamber pots.

BN: That should be one of the 50 Objects.

AM: [Laughs] That's right.

BN: Yeah, I've heard many interesting stories about the chamber pots.

AM: I'll tell Nancy that.

BN: And then you're in Pomona for a few months, and then on to...

AM: Yeah, then we went to...

BN: ...Heart Mountain.

AM: ...Heart Mountain. Pomona was just kind of chaotic because I think I finished my first grade there. Because we must have gone in in the spring, it was after Easter. Because I had to give up, somebody gave me a little chicken, chick for Easter, and I had to give it up to go to camp, so it was after Easter. Anyway, and I remember they had classes, but they weren't very organized yet. And I remember throwing away one of my tests because I had a bad score. [Laughs]

BN: This was at Pomona?

AM: At Pomona. And we'll get to Heart Mountain later, I had very good school experiences there.

BN: So at Pomona you're like seven, so second grade?

AM: Well, no. When I was at Pomona I was still six. I turned seven in July and then we went to Heart Mountain, I think we went in September, first week.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.