Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Hikoji Takeuchi
Narrator: Hikoji Takeuchi
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-thikoji-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

JA: Where were we? We were talking about families getting to know each other?

HT: Yeah, yeah, uh-huh, yes.

JA: Tell me how that developed into -- did the place develop into a community? I mean initially, there were a lot of people who didn't know each other.

HT: Right, right, right. And as days progressed, we got to know our next-door neighbor, and we got to eventually, we got to know the people who lived in the next barrack, and then we found people who needed or wanted, must have, and we all pitched in and helped each other. So there again, you know, it's, people are very nice. As we talked to each other, we realized what one is lacking and what they are lacking or what we are lacking, we tried to help each other. We supported one another. And a lot of the mothers, I guess they all, mothers are mothers no matter where you go. They worry about the family. It seems like no matter how much the social life gets better, then they start to worry about their next phase. It's like peeling a dry onion. Peel one, and they find another one. That's mothers, and it was the mothers who held everybody together. As for the men, they tried to make their living a little more comfortable than what we had.

Like for instance, when we first went in there, we had the restroom for women and a restroom for the men. As for the men, we can stand a lot of things that the women cannot. Say for instance, the potties, they have no stall. You saw who was sitting next door to you, the left or the right. For the girls, I think, that was very unfair. As for the men, we can bear it, I guess. So eventually, we got what we can find, we became scavengers. We never threw anything away. We found cardboard, pick it up, and we store it in a certain part of the latrine, and when we get enough, we would utilize that cardboard and made stalls for the women. It was like this, whatever it was. We helped one another. It was very nice, in a way. We learned how to live together in harmony. And as for the women, they got together and they discussed a lot of things. I know as for my mother, she worried that having nothing to do at times, we became a bore. We had nothing to think about, and my mom was worried that my kid sister, who was younger, younger than me, she wasn't able to think, so my mother said. It was like a stray dog. No responsibility, although they eventually opened up a school for the younger kids.

JA: How old was your sister?

HT: My sister was six years younger than I, so she was about twelve or thirteen then. All the mothers were worried about their daughters and their kids. That is one of the reasons, I guess, why the priests eventually was able to start up a church of all denominations. We had Buddhists, we had Christians. Name it, and we had people there. And the church held us up pretty well, I think.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.