Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview II
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-02-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

HM: Unfortunately we were put in Block 1 in area D which is in the main fairgrounds area. And they had put in clean barracks inside of the race track area. They had a six furlong race track at that time in front of the grandstands and it was a circular racetrack and they had installed a whole bunch of barracks in it. And we were almost in the geometric center of that race track and we had the longest barrack of any of the barracks that they installed there. Our barrack had seventeen units in the barrack. And the reason why I remember is because we were located in the fourth from the end and I would, at nighttime, I would make sure I counted so I wouldn't go in the wrong barrack. But, and if I came in from the other side, I would know what, what number to count. We had to establish where we were. It was a long walk from there to the mess hall, to the laundry room, to the sanitation station. So it made life very uncomfortable for all of us. And unfortunately we were put in a block that a lot of my friends were not located in, so consequently we were queued in the mess hall by the block number.

TI: That's right.

HM: So we were in Block 1 and they would rotate which block would eat first and what shift. And I would like, you know, at that time I liked to have, have eaten lunch and dinner with my friends, but unfortunately I was in Block 1 and there were very few friends located in that area. So consequently I would get in line with the other guys. And invariably this character, that happens to be still a Seattle resident, used to haul me out of the line and say, "You're in the wrong block." So either I didn't eat or, because I felt so ticked off at the guy that I didn't want to wait in the proper line. In fact it might have already been Block 1 previous to that, so I lost my place, so.

TI: Now this individual who did this was, was he sort of in an official capacity, and that was his, quote his job to do that?

HM: Well yeah, he was... that was his job, to make sure that people from wrong blocks didn't get into the line and also that the people didn't get into the multiple sequence of having two meals at one time.

TI: So this was an example of, of sort of self policing or, or the, the sort of camp administrators or the officials using other Japanese Americans to self police themselves.

HM: Yeah. It was an over zealous example of this kind of policing action.

TI: Was it a case where he did this with everyone, or did he single you, do you think to, to make this happen?

HM: I think he singled me out for some reason, I don't know. Maybe it was because he knew our family and there might have been some other ulterior motives on his part. But anyway, I got so fed up with this, I told my brother and so he says, "Well, you know these guys are acting beyond their normal responsibilities so you got to put up with them. They got the ego kick and they got something in power now and they're gonna do whatever they can." So I made it a practice to either sneak in the lines past that guy's point or resolved to eat by myself, or eat with one of the members of my family. So that was a kind of bad part for me. Because once the group that I used to belong in ate their meals, well they would go out and do some kind of activity. Well if you're three sequences down the line and you ate your meal an hour later than those guys, why those guys are already playing someplace and I'd find myself having to do things individually.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.