Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Now, did the assistant block managers ever get together with all the block managers?

YM: No, we never did. We never did, we never did.

TI: So your efforts were pretty confined just to the block.

YM: Yes, our block, and take care of whatever we get, that was it. I did that until I decided to go to camouflage factory. I was thinking about working my way out of there somehow, so I signed up... well, the camouflage factory was Camp 2, and quite a few of the people were already working there. Myself and two others got there a little late, so we didn't really get to work on the rack where they can stand and work while they're putting those strips through the netting. We had to work on the ground, and that was a backbreaking type of thing. It wasn't really a good deal.

TI: And you mentioned earlier that you said this was, perhaps, a way to work your way out, meaning that you would learn how to do this?

YM: Well, I thought maybe I can earn some money, a little extra income, thinking eventually I'll be out of there and I'll have some money to go out with. Because when we went to camp, when we took in the, we split the profit and all that, I gave my family what we had, and my wife and I started with practically nothing. We figured we're young, we can make our way. Family needed it more than we did. So we started with practically nothing, and we figured, well, somehow or other we'll cope. And that's worked out.

TI: But going back to this camouflage making, so were they paid more than the regular jobs?

YM: Oh, yes. Regular jobs were nineteen, sixteen, and twelve dollars or something like that. But this camouflage factory, they were making probably maybe three times that amount at the factory. Maybe there were... I don't know what they were making tops, really, but I heard they were making fairly good money compared to what the others were doing.

TI: Now, why was that? How could they make more money?

YM: Because it was run by a private company, California Glass Company or somebody like that that came in there and started up a factory to use the labor there, actually practically free labor. And they set up a place there where they were making these nettings for the army. So it was a company, some outside company that was doing this. So there were, we had people going to Camp 2, working at the camouflage factory. That was the only outside company with any... rest of it was all camp doing, farming and all that.

TI: And from your standpoint and probably others, the pay was two, three times more than what...

YM: Oh, considerably. I don't know what they were making, but considerably better.

TI: And do you have a sense, even though it was considerably more than what you could make in camp, how those wages would compare if that factory were, say, in Fresno?

YM: I don't think it would, I don't think it would compare. I don't think it would compare. I think they were taking advantage of the labor there, and that was it.

TI: Yeah, it seems like it could be easy to exploit people.

YM: Oh, it was the labor, people were anxious to do something. And if they can make extra money or a little more than what they were gonna get, rather than get the twelve dollars a month deal, if they can get maybe four or five times that, why not?

TI: And from the company's standpoint, they can pay a lot more than what people were making in camp, but yet a lot less than what they would have to pay compared to --

YM: Oh, yes, definitely. And I'm sure government must have foot the bill on setting up the place and so forth. It's all a money deal.

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.