Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Jim Kajiwara - Sox Kitashima Interview
Narrators: Jim Kajiwara, Sox Kitashima
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: December 11, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-kjim_g-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

SK: I think that when we went to Topaz, we had a different feeling because we felt that since they were moving us again, this is gonna be a little more permanent, so you know, our feelings had changed.

JK: Remember the time, like when we were going to Topaz, we all boarded a bus and then we got on the train and the train, the blinds were, the shades were set down, military police with machine guns. Every time we'd pull into a station, all the blinds went down. We had an old-fashioned train with a pot-bellied stove. And horse, horsehair stuffings.

SK: They took out everything they had. [Laughs]

JK: Yeah, and we were all cold and then... what else? Well, we had to sleep there. We had to sleep right in our seats. Going to the, to the lavatory, the girls were kind of separated and they were followed and the men were followed. I don't know, I felt like a criminal at that time, being, going into those johns where people will follow you. And then finally we got to Topaz and then this one horse town. Then we went to Camp Topaz and there was that big open area out on the lake, it was a former lake bed, so the lake was severe, and so it was so much alkaline. Remember that, Sox?

SK: Like when I got off the bus, and just to step down already, it was like a puff of smoke. That's how dusty it was, and it was white, and the barracks had masonite floors, so the women would all take rags and really polish it up and it would be, look nice, some people oiled it and everything. But soon as we had a little dust storm, you know, those buildings were made by, with raw materials.

JK: With tarpaper on the side.

KL: So after they start to shrink, the boards would shrink, then there's a lot of gap . And so every time we had a dust storm, the whole place just got white, your floor. Masonite floors got white, so you're forever with a bucket and a cloth, wiping away, wiping away. Well, we don't have too much cloth and things to even use for a mop or anything because we were only allowed to take in what we could carry in your two hands. So you had two suitcases, your bedding and your change of clothes and things and your, you know, toothbrush and things, your personal effects. You don't have too much to take in. You couldn't afford to be throwing away rags, you needed everything.

JK: Yeah, and then after the sheetrock, then they started putting sheetrock walls up along our walls and that, that made it, gave us a little more privacy plus it made it a little airtight.

SK: It took a lot of work.

JK: But then when we went, when we go to bed at nights when we do have a dust storm, we have to put our sheet over our faces so we wouldn't breathe all that. So a lot of the old folks, remember, they got sick on that dust storm, and I think some of them may have passed away, too.

SK: A lot of illnesses came out of that dust.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.