Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: George Murakami Interview
Narrator: George Murakami
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mgeorge_4-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

SO: So after Tulare you were sent to Gila River.

GM: Right.

SO: Can you talk about what the transition period was? I mean, you're in the assembly center. Did you get a notice that said that you're moving to another place?

GM: I don't know the process or anything like that. I just remember we were put on trains. There were guards on the train, the shades were all pulled as we went through cities and towns. And I don't think the train went directly to the camp but from there, wherever it stopped, we took buses into Gila.

SO: What was the reaction of the family? If the shades were pulled, they had no idea where you were going so I'm sure your mother was terrified.

GM: Yeah, I think it was pretty scary. As a kid I don't remember feelings and all that. I just kind of remember just running up and down the train or something, probably getting my mother all shook up or something.

SO: Having fun.

GM: Yeah.

SO: What do you remember about Gila River? Your earliest memories.

GM: Well, we did have schools, and I remember the teachers were other Japanese, older Japanese, and I remember we played a lot of sports, and we did hikes and stuff. We visited another camp that was a little far away. We went through their vegetable farms and go and visit, we'd always be in a group. And I think the camp was surrounded almost by canals, and we used to go to the canal and do a little fishing and kind of swimming, but we knew we could not go beyond the canal.

SO: Were there armed guards there?

GM: I don't recall seeing any armed guards. I think the only place we... there were no fences. I guess there might have been postings or something out in the desert but postings were mainly for people not to come in. We couldn't go out, but it was kind of understood that that was more or less the border of the camp. And there were people that you could sign up or something to leave the camp to go visit the nearby city, and I think that was the only time I remember seeing a guard or something, and he was checking the passes or whatever.

SO: And the guard went with people when they left?

GM: That I don't know.

SO: Was school, well, you said the teachers were Japanese?

GM: Yeah. I had a couple of Caucasians, local people, I think that were teachers. And I also had other Japanese who were there. I don't know if they were college students or what, but there were other Japanese and that was the third or fourth grade, something like that.

SO: Was the school day like what you remember before camp?

GM: I think it was a regular school day. I think the only difference was that when you broke for lunch, you had to go back to your own block to go to lunch in the mess hall in the block that you lived in.

SO: Did you still have Japanese school?

GM: No, no Japanese school. [Laughs]

SO: So more play time.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.