Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: David Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: David Matsuoka
Interviewers: Jill Shiraki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 10, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mdavid-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

JS: Do you remember leaving Walnut Grove, and where did you go? Did you go to Merced?

DM: Okay, Merced, that was the assembly center, and then from Merced went to Amache.

JS: Okay. Do you remember leaving Walnut Grove to go to Merced? Do you remember where you had to meet and how you got to Merced?

DM: How we went there?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: Okay, Merced, did we go on a train? I remember riding on a train to go to camp. I know from Merced to Amache we went on a train, but I don't remember how we went to Merced.

JS: Okay. Do you remember anything about Merced, what it was like or the conditions?

DM: Well, as far as, you're a kid, so the first time we're in a, kind of barracks, so I'm not too familiar with that. But I remember from Merced to Amache, when I was on the train, I was, what, twelve or thirteen? This black porter gave me a bag of cookies. To me, you know, that's... so he told me to go take it, and I went to show it to my mom, and she puts it away. Yeah, it was nice. It was this black porter. I don't know if it's porter they called it. Said, "Come here." So first time I'd seen a black people, you know, so he gave me a bag of cookies. "Go," he says. I was really surprised. I said, "Thank you," and then I took off.

JS: Did you talk to him at all, or you just said, "Thank you"?

DM: I just said, "Thank you," and I left. I was afraid of him. I was surprised. And at that time, from then on, I said, "There's nothing wrong with..." you know. And my mom started passing out, and the kids, "Where'd you get that?" You know how Dad is, always... he was going to make me take it back, I guess. [Laughs]

JS: But your mom kept it. She was smart.

DM: (Yes).

TI: But that's an interesting story, because what you just said was, so this black porter gave you this bag of cookies --

DM: I don't know if it was the porter or the... within the, yeah, okay.

TI: But after he did this, it kind of influenced how you looked at black people, you said. Because you said this was your first...

DM: First time I see them and talk to them.

TI: And it was an act of kindness, and you felt, at that point that...

DM: I guess they all knew that we were being mistreated. 'Cause all the shades was down on the train, you couldn't see outside. You couldn't see outside.

JS: So it seemed like you had people in town, like the white community, that you worked the concessions for them, so you had some friends, or you knew some of the townspeople at the, like at the baseball game.

DM: Yeah.

JS: You knew some of those people, and I was wondering if they said anything or they came to see you off when you left Walnut Grove.

DM: You mean the white people?

JS: No, white.

DM: Huh?

JS: White. No? Nothing.

DM: No, not that I know of, no white. (Narr. note: We hardly associated with whites because of the segregated schools).

JS: Nothing that you remember.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.