Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi Interview
Narrator: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 6, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-503-4

<Begin Segment 4>

PW: So what happened when your family received notice that there was going to be this exclusion order?

EH: Okay. Yeah, so we were sent to Portland. It was the relocation center before the camps were built. So that was at a racetrack area, which like most of the other areas, were the same, I understand. Because the accommodations were actually, used to be horse stalls. So the odor was not very good, there was no beds or anything, that you had to have cots that they filled with straw and made the mattresses out of things like that. And then they had a mess hall and toilets separate from the stalls, so each family got a stall as a room. And then depending on how many people, that was the way it worked. So they stayed there for, I think it was... it says, yeah, from June to September 1942. And then they were sent to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, which is where the camp was.

PW: I have another quick question regarding that. Did you have any other family in the United States at that time, or was it just your mother and father?

EH: Oh, just my parents.

PW: So, and then do you remember going to Heart Mountain? I know you were very young, but I thought I would ask.

EH: No. And actually, I have very few memories of being at Heart Mountain. I do remember that it was very sandy there. There were no roads or anything, everything was dirt. But I do remember eating in the mess halls, because everything was served in, the food was served in the mess halls. So I remember going there because you had to stand in line to wait and get food. I have no recollections of either good or bad, the situation there. Everything that I learned about the camps was after, from watching other stories on TV or of listening to people talk about it. But I think like most Issei, my parents there talked very little about the war experience.

PW: I also imagine your father may have had other special duties, because even though he is also like everyone else being put into the camps, he has a congregation. Do you know if there was anything with the church helping people move, helping people store their belongings?

EH: Well, there apparently... what they did is all the Christian ministers got together and they had one church, and then the Buddhist ministers or priests did the same thing. But I think for so many barracks, there was a service, and so I'm not sure how that related. But my dad was... and I don't know if they did much of that there, but my dad was a swimmer and also played tennis, and going through college. And so later on in life, he worked as a lifeguard at certain places or was teaching tennis to kids and stuff. But then a lot of that was helping the people from the church if they had problems, especially emotional types of things. That's what ministers do, and doing marriages and funerals and baptism of children and things like that.

PW: Do you have any idea if he had to do any of that kind of church work in the camp at Heart Mountain?

EH: Yes, yes.

PW: Interesting.

EH: Because right away, they tried to develop all of those things in the camps. They formed the baseball teams and basketball teams, they had dances for the kids, the teenaged kids, parties like that. And then, of course, I think you heard, they had Boy Scouts, I'm sure there was Girl Scouts. But the famous Boy Scout is the one from San Jose, Norman Mineta, yeah. And so those kinds of things they... and they also did, they had sumo tournaments, because that was big in Japan. But I know they played baseball, and they even played football, too, with some of the local teams in the area in Wyoming, outside of the camps as well, tried to make it as American as possible. And some of the ministers my dad remembers from outside of the camp, used to come and help with things going inside the church. Oh yeah, my mother, I just watched a DVD that my mother made for a presentation, but she talked about there was no green in Wyoming, because it was all, and especially in the wintertime, it's just all sand and snow. But I think one minister or minister's wife every Sunday from the town of Cody would bring a vase of flowers to the church. And after church, my mother would take it home, and she would keep it because it was the only green thing in the house. And she would keep it going even when the flowers had dropped, she would just keep the green part until the next time they went, another vase would come over. But she remembered that, and I thought that was interesting.

PW: That's a really good story. Did she work at all in camp? Do you know if she had some kind of job?

EH: I don't think so, no. She worked once we moved out of camp, but not at that time.

PW: I imagine the church duties, even if it's shared by all the Christian ministers at Heart Mountain, that kept your father busy. Services, special holidays, did he ever talk to you about anything like that, like Easter or any other very special Christmas...

EH: I don't remember exactly what he did. And he doesn't talk about that much in what he wrote down.

PW: I think that's great that your father wrote things down.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.