Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Betty Fujimoto Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Betty Fujimoto Kashiwagi
Interviewers: Jill Shiraki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kbetty-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about leaving Isleton to go to Walerga. How did you go from Isleton?

BK: On the bus.

TI: And describe that day. What was it like?

BK: I think Walerga was worst of all camps. It was the crudest, it was... I've never had to go use an outhouse with twelve other people. And my mother kept saying, "When you go to the bathroom," she said, "either wear a skirt or take a magazine." And I said, "Why?" [Laughs] And, you know, if the people that were in charge had at least somebody come and give us a tour of what to expect, I don't think it would have been such a shock. And then like one time when we were taking a shower, because you don't have knobs, and my girlfriend who was on the shy side, I said, "Hey, Nancy, that guy's looking at you through his peephole." Because we had a boilerman that adjusted the temperature of the water.

TI: So he could look through a little hole...

BK: I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: I see. So you were playing a joke on your, on your friend. But, you know, going back to the toilets, so it was like an outhouse with twelve, were there partitions?

BK: No, nothing. Nothing, absolutely nothing.

TI: So that's why your mother said, "Wear a skirt or bring a magazine," to try to get a little privacy.

BK: Yeah.

TI: And the same thing with the shower stalls? There were not partitions?

BK: Yeah, no, just an empty room with the showerhead. And you know, so it was the worst of all the camps that I went to.

TI: How about things like food?

BK: Food was, I think, okay in that we were so used to Japanese food. And then when you go to camp, you get regular American food or spaghetti and stuff, which was very new to us. So that was okay. But then the family got torn apart. We always ate as ten of us, and then all of a sudden there's only me and my sister at one table, my oldest sister someplace else, my brothers different places.

TI: So was that hard on your parents that all of a sudden the kids were eating at different tables?

BK: Yeah. Well, she tried, you know, my parents tried real hard to at least sit at the table at the same time.

TI: And do you know what your parents did at Walerga? I mean, how did they occupy their time?

BK: Well, at Walerga they really didn't have to do anything because I guess they knew that they're gonna move us. So there weren't jobs to speak of.

TI: And how about kids like you? What would you do to occupy your time?

BK: In Walerga, I think we just stayed in groups of yancha kozo. [Laughs] We used to tease each other a lot, or like when we got our tetanus shot, the guys would come and hit us. So in Walerga it was, yeah, on the quiet side.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.