Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

RT: And then all of a sudden, nothing had ever been said. It's just they came to us and told us, "B Company's gonna be the last kitchen to close." So we're lookin', "What do you mean last?" "Well, we're gonna close this camp down." So all the other kitchens closed, and we were the only kitchen. And as they started shipping the guys out, and...

TI: And they were going from the Salinas Assembly Center to...

RT: To unknown.

TI: Oh, okay.

RT: See everybody's gotta be shipped out. They shipped 'em out four days straight. And everybody's being shipped to unknown places.

JN: They were building the camps in the meantime. They never were a threat. But they didn't have any place to put them.

RT: So, and once we got on the train, pulled all the shades down. We weren't allowed to open the shades. And later on, we found out that none of the trains went to Poston, Arizona, the same route. Everybody went with a different route. Now can you imagine? Some of the guys were going up to Heart Mountain. They went down to El Centro first, and then they shot up towards Heart Mountain. Some of 'em went through Oregon, and then they went to Heart Mountain.

TI: Now what were they concerned about? Why did they change the different ways? I mean, who were they afraid, or what were they afraid of, of what was gonna happen?

RT: Well, I think what they were afraid of was that, if everybody went on the same route, then there would be some hell raised and some of us would get away. And the reason why they wouldn't let us put up the shades, were the fact that if they put up the shades, they see that we're all Japanese. And they didn't know what the people would do.

JN: I think that they were trying to treat you like prisoners.

RT: Well, actually, we were prisoners, not treating us like...

RT: And now, the funniest part was, see now like I went to Poston, Arizona. And you know, Salinas is a cool place. When the weather hit 80 degrees, we were burning up already. And the day we got to Parker, Arizona, 114 degrees. And later on, as I thought about all this that happened the day we got there, people were fainting like flies, because none of us prepared for any of this. And you'd think they'd come out and give us salt pills? We weren't even talked to about using salt. And if it wasn't for the fact that some of the people that got there earlier than us found out that you gotta take a lotta salt, because you sweat like hell. And there's, all you got is a barrack, and it's hot as hell in the barracks. So we were very fortunate, because of the fact our train was the last one to leave Salinas. Well, by the time we got to Poston, every, a lotta, half of the people already settled in. So they come out to meet us when we got there on the bus. And they were the ones that gave us salt pills, and told us, "You gotta take a lotta salt," because we don't know nothin' about those things. They say, "Yeah, we found out, you gotta take a lotta salt, because when you sweat so much, you gotta have salt."

And so, and I'll never forget, because we got over there and we were dropped off. And then they took us to our barracks. And the first thing they said when they dropped us off at the barracks, "There's the baled hay, there's a mattress cover in the barracks for each one of the beds. Fill it up with hay. That's your mattress." Well, hell, you never used a mattress. It was too damn hot. We used to sleep outside. And we're dumb, see, because we don't know nothin' about scorpions and stuff like that. And finally, one guy hollers, "Hey, look at all this damn thing crawlin' around under our beds." And they were scorpions, see, because the body heat. And the scorpion liked heat. So we found out they were scorpions, and you liable to die if they sting you. [Laughs]

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.