Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Helen Harano Christ Interview
Narrator: Helen Harano Christ
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-chelen-01-0010

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MA: So in Tanforan, how did you spend your, your days? What occupied your time?

HC: We weren't in Tanforan for a very long time, because we were there from the first of May to the middle of September, I think. And so of course we had to finish school, and so I finished third grade in, in a class of -- I think maybe twelve, thirteen, fourteen boys and girls. And we were on one end of a, of a dining room, I think, and then there was another class at the other end of the dining room, and I don't know if they were second-graders or fourth graders. Didn't matter, we didn't pay attention to them 'cause we looked one way and they looked the other way and we didn't holler at each other. [Laughs]

MA: And who were your teachers?

HC: Internees. And not all of us were at the same place because we all came from different schools. And so, and then one of the girls in my class was epileptic, and during that time we were having a class, then twice she had seizures, so we learned about how to take care of epileptics, and we learned about how to be compassionate as well as nouns and pronouns and verbs and adverbs. It was very interesting, very interesting. And so then when school was out, during the summertime, we played games. I learned about Japanese games of using those little pretty rocks and hitting them with your fingers. We played jacks and we played jump rope and kick the can and things like that that kids play. We walked -- had to walk to our dining room all the time, so it was walking, and there was a, all, all the Protestant pastors got together and so all the, all the Protestants had a Sunday school and a church service. And I'm sure the Buddhists did, too, because I heard about Buddhist Sunday school, that they had never had that before, but since the Christian kids were having such a good time at Sunday school, the Buddhist kids wanted to do that, too. And we, and so then I can't remember that school was started by the time we left camp, by the time we left Tanforan, but, but we learned to cope. Part of the reason I think was that I got a spider bite on my foot, and it got infected, and so I had to stay in, I couldn't get out and about on it, I had to get it soaked and all that stuff. And another thing that happened to me was that I got tonsillitis, and so I had to stay home, too, for that. And it was, I remember it being very hot and very, and perspiring a lot because there was no, we had no fans, we had no insulation on the, on the sides of the barracks.

MA: And your tonsillitis was treated in Tanforan?

HC: Uh-huh, yeah. One of the lady doctors, I can't remember her name, came by to tell me what to do and talked to my mother, what she needed to do for me. And she brought whatever it was that they put on my, my spider bite, too. So maybe that's how I spent my summer in Tanforan. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.