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-02-0003

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HM: And I... at that point my brother says, "Okay, they need some more guys to do some electrical work, so you know more electrical stuff than these guys do. Why don't you come and work in this electrical shop?" So I was the youngest member of that electrical crew and they had a location in the fairground grandstand, underneath the grandstand. And the office was the former booth for the KMO Radio Station from Tacoma. So they had a sound proof booth and triple glass in the thing, and it was pretty interesting set up. And because my brother felt that I could do my part in the electrical gang there. He thought it would be a good experience for me to deal with these people and have some physical working relationship with the electrical problems they're having at the camp.

Now these barracks were all designed for minimal electrical loads and people started using hot plates and coffee makers and hot water heaters and things of this nature, electrical types. And invariably like in the barrack that we were in -- because we had seventeen units and they had a 30 ampere, two circuit system, -- people, when they started using the hot-plates and things of this nature, invariably the fuse would go out. So people would replace the fuses with a copper penny in there and they would screw it in there and we were wondering when the next fire was going to start. So one of our jobs was to go around and make sure that the fuses were not intervened with these copper pennies. And we were trying to indoctrinate the people saying, "Hey, you're gonna cause your own problem if you put in these pennies. So please don't put in the pennies." And that was part, part of our training process. But I don't think that was very effective because we collected a lot of pennies.

TI: And were there fires at, at Puyallup?

HM: There were small fires, yeah. But they were relatively insignificant. But the people wanted to heat things up or cook things in their own unit and that was the only way to do it.

TI: And by being part of this electrical crew did that give you more flexibility as to when you ate?

HM: Well I ate with the crew so I had no problem after that. Then I used to sneer at the guy as I walked past him. But I think it did more harm than good for myself. [Laughs]

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.