Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Shigeo Kihara
Narrator: Shigeo Kihara
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: April 1, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kshigeo-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Tell us about if you can recall your impressions or first days at Manzanar? What sticks out in your mind about that?

SK: Yeah. Well, one of the things I remember was it was dusty, it was hot. And when you get, when we went into the barracks the dust would be coming through the floor. It was windy. And then... oh that's right. They had the scorpions hung on each one of the barracks outside. Yeah, they had... that's right, I remember that now. And then, when you went outside, I don't know when it was after that, we saw those scorpions running around. But, you know, now that you mention that, that's... on each one of the barracks they did have a scorpion hanging.

RP: Hanging?

SK: Yes.

RP: Outside the barracks?

SK: Yes. On a string.

RP: And, as Kirk mentioned, why? Do you have any idea?

SK: No. Maybe to warn us about a scorpion. I don't know.

RP: A scorpion warning system?

SK: Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny. It just came back, dawned on me. I, maybe I'm imagining it but I don't think so. I think it was there. You could ask somebody else if I'm right. I don't know.

RP: It was, it was dead I would imagine.

SK: Yes, no, no, it was dead, yes. But, anyway, I remember the dust. I remember it windy, hot. And, like I said, the cracks in the floor of the barracks.

RP: And what block did you get assigned to?

SK: Block 27.

RP: Now there was, let's see, there was six of you at that point?

SK: Yes.

RP: Right. And plus your grandparents went with you.

SK: Yes. They went with us. And so I don't, I know that it was not separated. Oh, they, what they did was put a sheet or a blanket or something to partition off the things. And I think my, we were on one end and I think my grandparents were on the next and I think my cousin was next to us there too in the same one.

RP: In the same room or in the, were the...

SK: The same barrack.

RP: Same barrack, okay.

SK: Right. But it was all open. It was... and then I remember another thing about the barrack was at the beginning when we first got there, the mattresses were filled with straw. Yeah. See, that's another thing that I didn't remember before but they were. It wasn't, it wasn't with cotton or anything. It was, it was with, filled with straw.

RP: Had you ever slept on a straw mattress before?

SK: No.

RP: What was that like?

SK: I don't remember it being uncomfortable or what. But I imagine for the grownup it was an experience. Yeah.

RP: And those mattresses had already been stuffed? You didn't have to put hay in those? Some people had to...

SK: I don't believe so. Maybe they stuffed them. I don't know. Because I remember when we got there, let's see, were they rolled up? I can't remember if they were rolled. You know, it's the old military bed with no... just a spring, steel. And I don't remember if there, if the mattress were folded up or what.

RP: A lot of kids your age remember something very traumatic when they first came to camp, shots.

SK: Oh, yes. Yeah, I remember those. Well, I guess we had, we got inoculated for typhoid, I don't know what else. But I remember there was a series of three. That much I remember. And I remember that I don't know which one it was but after I got the shot I was okay for a while. And my parents were gonna do something so I said, well, I didn't want to be there. I'll go back to the barracks and I don't know how far along I got but it, that thing hit me and I ended up crawling the rest of the way to the house or the barracks. I don't know how far I crawled. I remember crawling. Yeah. But those shots were, ooh, they hurt. Those needles looked like they were like that, and that thick. I think we got three of those and some other shots. I don't know if we had the smallpox. Yeah, I think we got those, too.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.