Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Frank Emi Interview II
Narrator: Frank Emi
Interviewer: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 30, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-efrank-03-0003

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FA: Here's something I've never heard before. Describe to me, Frank, when the evacuation orders -- well, when the posters went up on the telephone poles, what, tell me about that for you.

FE: Well, by the time the posters went up it was already in the newspapers so we weren't surprised by that, but we were very surprised that the expulsion orders included the Niseis. It was hard to believe at first but we realized that this was a military order, ordered by the army, there's nothing much you can do so we just went by whatever the government was going to do. We had no, actually, I didn't even think about resisting military orders or anything like that then. We just went along with what the government told us to do.

FA: So tell me about moving out.

FE: Well, they told us we could take only what we could carry, so we assembled at the church over here in the Virgil area. And then from there we went to, we were taken to Union Church downtown and then from there we got on, I believe, either big trucks or big vessels, I forget, but then we were sent to Pomona Assembly Center.

FA: What did you, what did you bring? What did you bring?

FE: Gee, I really don't recall. I can't remember what I brought. [Laughs]

FA: What did you leave behind?

FE: Probably some clothing and maybe some reading material. Something like that.

FA: What did you like to read?

FE: Oh, at that time I used to like to read science fiction stories. I prefer fiction. [Laughs] And maybe some books that I had at college.

FA: Can you remember, can you remember some of the titles in the science fiction books you were reading that you liked?

FA: Yeah, Astounding, Astounding Stories, Amazing Stories, those two I can remember.

FA: Tell me, what, what did you leave behind? What did you have to leave behind?

FE: Well, I had to leave behind -- actually we sold it for pennies on the dollar but I had a 1934 Chevy coupe which was a pride and joy. Then we had a truck that we used for the business. It was about a 1933 truck, Chevy truck. And I had a shotgun and a .22 rifle which we sold. I think I gave those away. And cameras, I had a couple of cameras which we gave away. Oh, most of those things. And then stuff that we didn't give away or sell, we locked it up in one of the rooms that my parents, owned a house then. And left it for safekeeping, but when we got back it was broken into and everything that was of any value was stolen.

FA: Describe for me when you, the scene when you first arrived at Heart Mountain from the Pomona Assembly Center.

FE: Yeah, when you first came to Heart Mountain it was in the middle of a dusty prairie, dust, dust storm. You couldn't hardly see maybe 10, 15 feet ahead of you. So we were really disgusted. And when we could see, it was a bunch of barracks out in the desert. Very forlorn-looking, desolate. It was a real lousy feeling that we had when we got there. Course, it turned out that the dust storm was the least of our worries because that winter was the coldest winter in Wyoming history; it was 30 below zero. And if you go to the restroom which was located outside and wet your hands or took a shower and your hair was wet, by the time you got back to your barrack, your head was in icicles and your hand was wet it would just stick to the metal door, doorknob. And things like that went on. We didn't even have a topcoat when we first got there, we were from Southern California. So it was very hard on the very young and the very elderly. It was even hard on us healthy guys, for that matter.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.