Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Kenji Maruko Interview
Narrator: Kenji Maruko
Interviewers: Jill Shiraki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Fresno, California
Date: March 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-mkenji-01-0016

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TI: Okay. So when you're ready to leave, which assembly center did you...

KM: We went to Fresno Assembly Center. We were kind of the last ones to go. And oh, yeah, our family and the Suda family, they lived on D Street, and we put all our belongings on... a Mexican driver was there, I guess, he owned a farm or something, and we put everything on his truck and we went to the assembly center. And we had a bicycle that my brother had, youngest brother. So says, "What shall we do with that?" "Oh, take it along." So we took that to the assembly center, it passed, and my dad had a bicycle in the assembly center. Only one that had a bicycle.

TI: Interesting. And so what's interesting is, so, to go from your home to the assembly center, they had a truck that actually took you there?

KM: No, we had to hire a truck to take us there.

TI: Oh, that's... so otherwise, how did the other families get there?

KM: I guess they had their own... if it's a farm, they had their own trucks, so they must have bought the, just put the thing on their own truck and brought it over. But we had this, I think the Tsuda family's friend was one of the guys, the Mexican fellow that took us there. So I guess they were, arranged it.

TI: Okay. So the government kind of left it up to you to get your family to the assembly center.

KM: Uh-huh, yeah. That's right. The government did... yeah, they didn't help us a bit, yeah.

TI: And so when you got there with the truck, what was it like? Were there government officials waiting for you at the...

KM: At the entrance of the gate? Yeah, I don't quite remember that, but anyway, we just walked in there, drove in there, and give us our name, and they gave us our room number, block number. And so we just went to the place, went to the barrack and there it was. It was four beds, five beds? I don't know, six beds. Oh, yeah, six beds.

TI: And during this time, did you hear your mother or father say anything about what was happening, and did they talk to the children about what was happening?

KM: No, uh-uh. They didn't say anything. Only thing I heard was "shikata ga nai," you know.

TI: And how about their demeanor? How would you describe how they were with all this, as they were leaving their house?

KM: No, they didn't feel bad. It was one of the things that happens in life. So they just took it as a grain of salt. It was an experience that no other race went through.

TI: That's what I was wondering. Because you were talking about how your parents were forward-thinking, and that it was important for Japanese to mingle with other races and everything, and now, they've been singled out for being Japanese, and I was just... if they felt like they were betrayed or something by that.

KM: No, they weren't. That word, Japanese word, "haiseki," the discrimination, yeah. They just took it as a grain of salt, part of life.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.