Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Roy Doi Interview
Narrator: Roy Doi
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-droy-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

RD: So then after Tule Lake, do you know why you were transferred again?

Roy D.: Well, at that time, I think my dad --

RD: Could you look at me instead of looking over there?

Roy D.: Yeah. At that time, my dad was I think given a choice of whether he wanted to go back to Japan or stay in the U.S. And Tule Lake was the camp where if you wanted to go to Japan, you stayed there. But if you wanted to stay in the U.S., you went to other camps. And my dad didn't want to go back to Japan, so he decided to go to Heart Mountain at that time.

RD: Wow. What did you know about Wyoming?

Roy D.: I knew nothing, except it was maybe sagebrush country. But we did take a train from Tule Lake, I think it went through Salt Lake up to Billings, and then it finally arrived in Heart Mountain.

RD: All the people that I talked to said that the shades were down but all the kids peeked. Did you peek?

Roy D.: I can't recall really, but the only thing I remember was when we stopped in Billings, I got off the train for a few minutes and hopped back on, because the train was stopped there for a while. But I can't really recall the shades and all.

RD: Okay. And what was your first impression of Heart Mountain?

Roy D.: Well, I think when we got there it was summer, so it was quite nice weather. And the sky was really wide open. And that's one of the impressions I have about Wyoming where there was a lot of sky, and you could see Heart Mountain in the distance from the camp. And that was my first impression, I think, the big sky, sort of like Montana, I guess, the big sky country.

RD: Were there guards?

Roy D.: By the time I got there -- we got there in summer of 1943, and I cannot recall guards, although there were guard towers remaining and a fence was there. But I could not remember seeing soldiers at that time. But, see, I got there later than when Joan got there. I think she got there in '42, I got there in '43, a year later.

RD: Well, as I said, apparently the decision was made that those people had to go off to war, and if anybody escaped, they probably wouldn't make it past Powell.

Roy D.: Right.

RD: Do you remember the first snow?

Roy D.: Yes, but, see, in Tule Lake, we had already, I had already experienced snow. Because in Tule Lake we got there in the summer of '42, we spent the winter of '42 in Tule Lake, and there, there had been snow, and in fact, my dad had made a sled for my younger brother and me. And so we had gone sledding even at Castle Rock mountain there. So when I got to Heart Mountain, we got there in the summer, and then... but the experience in Heart Mountain was different from Tule Lake because we had blizzards in Heart Mountain, I mean, it was really bitterly cold compared to Tule, I think. So that was a different experience. And one day I remember my dad was very strict. He would never let me skip school, and one day there was a blizzard, and I really had to go through several blocks to get to school, and when I got there, the door was locked, and they had to cancel school that day because it was so bad. So I had to trudge back, all the way back to our block. And the way I did that was different blocks had these laundry rooms, and so I would get warm in one laundry room and go from one laundry room to the next to get to school, and then I took the same path back, and that's how I survived that blizzard. But it was very cold.

RD: Yeah, it gets to be easily twenty below there.

Roy D.: Yeah, and it's windy, too, it was very windy.

RD: And the dust. The dust storms, people talked about the dust storms. But if you lived near Sacramento, it snows not far from there.

Roy D.: Well, it snowed in the Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe.

RD: Yeah, I'm from Grass Valley, it snowed.

Roy D.: Oh, okay. Well, we never did go up in the wintertime.

RD: Silly. So what did the barracks look like?

Roy D.: Well, I guess the barracks were tarpapered barracks, and segmented into little rooms. Our room was, I think, twenty by twenty-five feet, there were six of us living there, and I can't remember how it was partitioned at all because we didn't have material to partition off rooms. There was a potbelly coal-burning stove at one end, and I can't remember exactly how we all fit in there, but there were six of us in that room.

RD: Do you remember, what church did you go to?

Roy D.: I didn't go to a church... well, I did go to a church once, but I was not a regular church attender.

RD: Not your parents either?

Roy D.: Well, my parents, very interesting, were very religious, but I don't know if they went to church either. I don't know if they had a church that they could go to.


RD: Okay, so your parents were religious?

Roy D.: Yeah they were very religious, but they had converted to Methodism because my dad went to a Methodist church to learn English, and so he became a Methodist. So I grew up going to Sunday school I remember in the Methodist church. And that was before camp, and in camp, I can't remember really going regularly to a church.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.