Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Perry Dobashi Interview
Narrator: Perry Dobashi
Interviewer: Jeff Kuwano
Location: San Jose, California
Date: October 29, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-dperry-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

JK: Please share some of your memories of camp life.

PD: Well, I was, I was only a couple years old, or two, three years old, and there's not much I can remember except having fun and being teased and going out to the Shoshone River, I guess, where it was. And there used to be caves in the mountain and my brother said, "You gotta watch out for those bears in the caves," and the Indians up there, too. And I remember messing around the mess hall where the cooks would wash their vegetables, and I was told to try to steal some potatoes for the campfire. And they also had those plays called shibais, where, where they kind of really scared because the acting seemed so real to me and then something new to me, and you'd see blood coming out of people's faces and people carrying swords around, just like Indians. So it was, it was kind of frightening for me.

JK: Were there any wild or dangerous animals on the camp grounds?

PD: I don't think so. [Laughs]

JK: So there were no bears?

PD: No.

JK: What about, what about caves? You said the terrain there was, there were some caves out there, or was that more stories from your brothers?

PD: I don't know what those were up there, but I, I really don't, not for sure. It might have been caves, it might be just something I imagined. [Laughs]

JK: Native Americans?

PD: I don't think so. I think they were just, maybe just something I imagined. [Laughs]

JK: Well, it seems like quite a place to, for a kid to roam around on the camp grounds there. Did it feel like it was fairly open, or did it feel enclosed?

PD: Well, it wasn't, it must have been a area where you can go out to the river, and I don't know if it was part of the camp, I don't think it was part of the camp grounds, I think it was a place you can, you can go off to. I don't, I don't remember all the places that were barb-wired. There were a few things I remember about, my dad used to work at the, I guess at the commissary where they sold, it was like a grocery store. They had, they had these little tokens, and they had the stamps and they had other things, ration coupons. And I remember when they sold bubble gum, I think there, people were just lined up like crazy just to get that Fleer's bubble gum. [Laughs]

JK: Did you swipe any extra potatoes?

PD: Well, I think I did get some potatoes, because I remember the, the head cook coming up and yelling at us. [Laughs]

JK: So was good food hard to come by in camp?

PD: We were little at the time, and I remember my, my dad would go to the camp because most of the times in camp it was, it was rather cold and I remember he had a wooden box built and he would bring that wooden box home for food, and he'd come home from the mess hall where they eat, and he'd bring a, just a box full of food home.

JK: And was that purchased with, with food rations?

PD: No, I think the mess hall was provided for everybody in camp. They had mess halls in certain areas, but I guess even dinners, the most thing I can remember, they had a little, a little box where he brought home food.

JK: And you mentioned Fleer, were they baseball cards, bubble gum?

PD: No, I think they're just wrapped with a twist.

JK: And how did you get those? Is that --

PD: I don't know. Being two years old, I just, I just, I just remember the stories rather than eatin' 'em. [Laughs]

JK: Were there any sad or amusing events that your family members experienced?

PD: I guess raising a family in camp was, I guess, being close, but there wasn't too much, all I can remember is, I guess, washing clothes and doing the laundry, and just maintaining life was not, was not a normal thing. You just, I guess, we lived in one barrack with, I guess, you knew the people there. But I can't say what it compares to now, but I can't say anything that it was difficult, because my time was as a little child, so as an adult, my mother and father must have a hard time, but it was a different time.

JK: And your father, a championship sumo wrestler, did he have an opportunity to, to wrestle in camp?

PD: Well, being a father, I don't think he had time, too much for play other than work at the store in camp.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.