Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kay Endo Interview
Narrator: Kay Endo
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ekay-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: This is a continuing interview with Kay Endo. This is tape two and Kay, we were talking over some of your experiences at Minidoka. We talked about the mess halls in Portland. How about the mess halls in Minidoka? First of all, a lot has been made about the, sort of the unraveling of the family structure in these camps, did you see that in your family or was it different?

KE: No, it was... that's a true statement from anybody that made it. And we ate with our peers, we didn't have a central, you know, facilities for restrooms and showers and we also had a centralized laundry, you know, for hand washing. So of course your family structure is no longer there. And then like I was mentioning that in a lot of cases, a lot of the parents worked in the mess halls as cooks, cook helpers, waitresses, dishwashers so there was, in a lot of cases there was no chance to eat with your family. And then some of the older gentlemen worked at the warehouses and other things so they ate lunch wherever they were at and then the farm laborers ate out in the field. So it wasn't very conducive for family situation. And then I think you heard that from many people.

RP: I have heard that from many people but your explanation, the latter explanation was sort of an additional point that needs to be stressed.

KE: Right, and that's probably the worst thing that happened being in camp was the family structure. But for a young person it may have been the opposite.

RP: We've heard this story from kids who were at Manzanar, and I'm wondering if it was the same at Minidoka, that a number of kids with their bottomless pits for stomachs would visit more than one mess hall, they'd sort of hop around for, looking for a good meal.

KE: I never did it but I heard of that because each mess hall had their own head cook or chef and so naturally you don't have even if the menu is the same, depending on the chief cook it's going to be different so there was some, more of the teenage ones would mess hall hop. [Laughs]

RP: Did you have some foods that you just completely detested?

KE: Yes, you probably heard this many times, mutton.

RP: Top of the list.

KE: Yeah, and you could smell mutton even before you hit the door. And listening to the Food Network and they talk about lamb and all that and you shake your head, how anybody could eat anything that's associated with a sheep?

RP: Were there other foods too that --

KE: Well, another one to me was canned spinach and it was just the way it was prepared. So that's why I didn't grow up to be Popeye.

RP: How about foods that you really liked that maybe you never ate before?

KE: That I can't recollect.

RP: Do you remember them serving a number of Japanese type foods in the camp?

KE: No, that I can't remember either, but like you say, going back to mutton that's the only thing that really sticks in my mind.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.