Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Hisaye Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Hisaye Yamamoto
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary); Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 21, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-yhisaye-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

CO: So how did you prepare for internment?

HY: Oh, well, the second-hand dealer in town came around to buy up stuff. And also people that had heard that there might be bargains available. So we pretty much sold everything that was sellable, including a beat-up typewriter. I didn't know I would have been allowed to take it, you know, but they told us just what we could carry in our hands, so a lot of stuff we left behind. And I don't know... Mr. Zanheiser stored quite a bit of stuff so that I have my old scrapbook and my mother's dishes and stuff like that.

CO: Okay, what about the actual physical move?

HY: Oh, well the train evidently came up from San Diego where they had picked up the people from the San Diego area and Imperial Valley and El Centro and places like that. They all gathered in San Diego and then they came up the coast to Oceanside where there were MPs on the train guarding us. I guess they were ready to shoot us if we tried to make a break for it or anything. And I remember the people came down from as far north as Laguna Beach because the Shimizus lived in Laguna Beach and they drove their, down in their beautiful car. And I don't know, I guess a friend was supposed to pick it up or whatever, I don't know. And here we all trooped onto the trains and I guess they gave us lunches, box lunches, on the way. But I don't know if anybody really knew where we were headed, because I sure didn't. And we wound up in Parker, Arizona. And from there we got on buses -- this was already nightfall -- and that took us into camp, you know. And in the middle of the night there's all this sand piled up all over the place and the barracks, they haven't finished building them, all of them yet, so there's lumber here and there. And I just wanted to get to a bathroom. I was really suffering. [Laughs] And I finally made my way through the sand dunes and found the latrine. And you know... and then we had to all go in this big mess hall, which had been turned into a kind of registration center and be fingerprinted and be given typhoid shots. And it was hot already. It was May, but it was already really hot in the middle of the night. And then we got assigned to our barracks. And we had to fill our own mattress ticking with straw so we could sleep that night. And nothing very pleasant, I remember.

CO: Wow. So what were your feelings?

HY: I don't know, I guess kind of numb. You just did what you were supposed to do because you couldn't believe this was all happening. You know, I guess that's the way the people in the European concentration camps did too, you know.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.