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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

JS: So do you remember, when you got to, so you went to Merced, and then which camp did you go to? Did you go to Colorado, Amache?

DM: Yes.

JS: Okay.

DM: From Merced. And you want me to tell you what kind of job I had in Colorado?

JS: Yes.


DM: And the town of Granada one mile from the camp. That's where we get a coal for our stove, in the barracks. And the train was loaded with this coal, we used to unload that into the dump truck, that was our job. And on the train, we had to move the train so that goes right where the dump truck goes into conveyor belt. So that's our job, was to scrape the coal into that conveyor belt. And we were getting nineteen dollars a month. Nineteen, that's the same as doctor and...

JS: Wow.

DM: My dad is a shoe, he was in co-op, the head of the shoe store, his check was sixteen dollars, it's over nineteen dollars. What kind? Only doctors get that kind of pay, you know. 'Cause that daily job.

JS: So how many of you would work that job?

DM: About five or six people, 'cause you got to move that train, that whole section and empty it, so the next slot where they open. And every time you open a slot, there's about four section that you got to block it up, so you go, open the others. Just that one spot. And we had to scrape all that coal off the train.

TI: But for you, that was pretty impressive, because you were young. [Interruption] You were getting paid more than all these adults.

DM: Twelve dollars, the minimum, twelve, sixteen, and nineteen dollars, and I was getting nineteen dollars. So even my dad said, "What kind of work?" [Laughs]

JS: Now, how did you get that job?

DM: I don't know.

JS: You don't remember?

DM: I just... I don't remember. Another guy from our same barrack, he was about two years older than I was, him and I was the only one that I know of. I don't know the rest of them. I don't know how I got that job.

TI: And how old were the other people doing that same job? Were they all teenagers?

DM: Well, I was, in 1943... [Interruption] So other guys were sixteen. But I still don't know how I got that job.

TI: So still, like, all teenage boys, then.

DM: Yeah, mostly, (yes).

TI: Fourteen, sixteen.

DM: I didn't see any older people in there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.