Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Don Maeda Interview
Narrator: Don Maeda
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mdon-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

CN: Don, before we leave Minidoka, I wanted to ask you, you were with a lot of seventeen, eighteen, nineteen year olds, were you able to leave Minidoka, to go into town and see movies, was all that restricted?

DM: No, only if you're out on leave to do harvesting work or farm work, then you could leave, but not just for pleasure.

CN: Did you help with harvest?

DM: I did. In 1942 and '43 I went out to harvest sugar beets and potatoes, and being a city boy, and I went out with a crew with all farm boys so I learned how hard work farming was.

CN: Do you have a clue as to how the native Idahoans, what they thought of having this camp, or what they thought of the Japanese?

DM: Well you know. we went back to this a couple years ago, we went on this pilgrimage from Seattle to this camp and we talked to some of the people in that area. And a lot of them said they knew something was going on over there but they didn't really know what it was all about.

CN: Because you were really isolated over there and it wasn't a common, it wasn't a place that people wanted to visit.

DM: No.

CN: Okay. Approximately how many people were in Minidoka? Was it about ten thousand?

DM: Yeah, ten to twelve thousand. Most of them were -- that's a lot of people.

CN: That would have been a lot larger than most of the, a good many towns around there.

DM: Cities -- oh yeah, it was one of the larger towns, same as Heart Mountain, it was I think one of the biggest cities in Wyoming, population-wise.

CN: So you and your mother and father and younger brother then packed up and took a train then to Minneapolis?

DM: Yes.

CN: That took a couple days, didn't it?

DM: You know, I cannot... I'm sure to get here we had to take a, maybe they had a bus or something that brought us into wherever the train was, and we had to go through Omaha to get here, I remember we had to transfer there and we went through Omaha and ended up here in March of, what would that be,'45, and it was cold.

CN: But people were starting to leave camp around that time?

DM: Yeah, I would say quite a few were.

CN: Was it hard leaving all your friends? Because you were going all over, different places.

DM: That's right. That was another thing. I lost a lot of friends when we left Seattle and then I made a lot of friends in camp and then they were all gone again too, and then we came out here and of course, that was the hard part, not knowing, once you're out of high school it's hard to make friends.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.