Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Nikki Bridges Interview
Narrator: Nikki Bridges
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: December 11, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-bnikki-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

Q: Can you tell us what moments stand out from the camps that stay with you? Things you saw?

NB: Well, the men who didn't have any jobs, the older ones, decided that they would make carp ponds, so they stole the cement from the construction sites and dug holes in the area between the barracks and covered it over with cement, filled it up with water and then went to the Colorado River and fished out the carp and put it in the ponds. Unfortunately, the water was full of cement leech and killed the fish. They looked terrible all floating belly up in the pond. And I made some kind of association in my mind of the carp and us, which was a little morbid, but then I think the times were morbid.

We jitterbugged, we danced at the mess halls, and they were decorated with crepe paper. I remember Frank Sinatra had just made a big hit and he'd sing This Love of Mine which is a very difficult song to sing. He did it well, but when the Nisei did it, it was terrible. We had talent shows in which the standard show-offs would sing, and they couldn't sing very well. And then occasionally there'd be a young kid who had a lot of zip and style. I remember one was a cousin of Emiko Omori's who sang Chattanooga Choo Choo. He was about ten years old, he was the darling of the camp. There were trees planted along the administration buildings that grew a little bit, they were maybe ten feet tall. One day, someone went and wired crepe paper flowers to them so it looked like spring. We never knew who did it, but it was a nice touch. I remember, too, a bachelor died when, I think the first day or two after we got there, and so the ladies stayed up all night and made crepe paper flowers and fashioned them into wreaths for his funeral. And I don't think he ever got that kind of attention when he was alive.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.