Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Gerald Nakata Interview
Narrator: Gerald Nakata
Interviewer: Frank Kitamoto
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: February 26, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-ngerald-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

FK: So, what are your recollections about the train ride or arriving in Manzanar?

GN: Say that again?

FK: What do you remember about either the train ride or your impressions about when you saw Manzanar?

GN: Well, when we pulled up to Manzanar after we got off the bus, we saw all those Niseis, labor, putting up the barracks, I remember that. And the second day, the dust storms. Then I couldn't used to the public facilities where you had to shower, it was in the middle of the block. And the mess hall, that took a little while to get used to, but we knew where the good kitchens were. After every, most of the evacuees were coming in.

FK: You knew where the good kitchens were?

GN: Oh yeah, as kids, yeah. We would borrow the, the camp truck and go a half-mile away to a good kitchen as kids.

FK: So you looked for the good food?

GN: Yeah.

FK: Okay. What did you do for recreation in camp?

GN: Well, I coached the basketball team, teenagers, and then we had a baseball team. So we did, we made the best out of what was available there. I don't think we wasted any times. And then these professional gardeners from L.A., beautiful, beautiful landscaping. In fact, when I went to visit Manzanar about ten years ago, parts of the landscaping were still there. The cemetery is still there. My dad's friend, one of the first ones to die, his headstone and the cemetery was still there.

FK: Can you tell me more about that headstone?

GN: Well, I wasn't there at the time, but my understanding was Ken...

FK: Your brother Ken?

GN: My brother Ken found a huge rock, oblong rock, and he printed Mr. Murakami's name on there, date of birth, and when he died in camp. And then 1980, when I went to Japan, I visited that family. And they gave me 500 yen to buy a bouquet of flowers, thinking it was just a few miles away, but I was living on the island. It took me two years to do that, but I took some pictures and then I sent it over to the family.

FK: So what were your, what were your impressions of camp when you were in there? You mentioned the bathroom facilities, what were those like?

GN: Well, as a kid, it wasn't that hard.

FK: Yeah?

GN: We would...

FK: What were they like?

GN: What was the bathrooms like?

FK: Yeah.

GN: Oh, everything was open, no privacy. And of course, as kids, we showered when we wanted to. Most of the older ones were, showered later, later in the day.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.