Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kimiko Nakashima Interview
Narrator: Kimiko Nakashima
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: April 3, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nkimiko-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: And what were your first impressions of Fresno Assembly Center when you got there?

KN: Oh, I thought, "What is this?" But we all got off the train and the buses were waiting for us to take her to the camp. So there's nothing we could do. Just carry one suitcase and just go where they tell us to. At the time -- way later we think about those things, but at the time there's nothing we could do. They're rounding us up and taking us to a camp.

RP: And do you remember where you, what block you lived in Fresno?

KN: No.

RP: Did you live in a barrack or were you, were you in a horse stall?

KN: Barrack.

RP: Okay. Can you describe the barrack to us?

KN: Just a barrack, nothing in there. Just barrack. Just a tarpaper building. One the same as the other. Whole place, everybody same thing. Unless you put the number on the barrack you don't know which one's your, which one you live in. But the hakujin that took care of the camp, they were pretty nice to us. They felt sorry for us that we're being rounded up like that so they were pretty nice. I worked for a hakujin guy in camp.

RP: In Fresno?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Oh. Was it the head of the camp?

KN: Yeah. Well, not head but in the different section, huh? Housing, all that. So they needed a secretary so I got a job right away.

RP: Did you, did you do your stenography too?

KN: Yeah. He wasn't very good. He never dictated I guess 'cause he was just a, he was just an ordinary hakujin guy, cleric, and he never had a secretary to dictate to and so he just keep asking me what to do. What he said and I tell it back and he'd say, "Oh, I didn't want, I didn't want it sound like... fix it up," and I'd fix up his, his narration, I had to fix it up a lot. 'Cause they never had a secretary and they never dictated so all of a sudden they have to do that and then they didn't know how to do it so I had to help him.

RP: So what type of things did you, did he dictate? Were they letters?

KN: Yeah, letters. Mostly to other, other camps. There's a lot, there were ten of us, ten camps. So he wants, he wants to discuss a certain thing with another camp manager so he wrote to them and then so I typed it up for them.

RP: But you also did that work in Fresno too?

KN: Uh-huh.

RP: Okay. What did some of your other sisters work too in Fresno?

KN: I think so. Fresno... all of us Japanese had to do all the clerical work. There's no hakujin there. Just the bosses are hakujin. But then the workers are all Japanese so we all had to do all that clerical work. One guy didn't know how to dictate. He'd keep writing longhand. Long and I had to keep typing it. He didn't know how to dictate 'cause he just wrote everything in, by hand.

RP: Do you recall there being guard towers around Fresno?

KN: Oh, yeah. Guard towers all over.

RP: And the fence and...

KN: I should have taken a picture of those huh? 'Cause guard towers are all over, all four corners. And the soldiers with the gun, machine gun just up there in the tower to see if we're gonna... where do you think we're gonna go, barbed wire fence?

RP: Do you have any other memories of, or your stay in Fresno?

KN: No. But we played baseball and basketball. I had a good time. [Laughs]

<End Segment 14> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.