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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: So tell us about Jerome. You worked there. Like you said, you became a stenographer for...

KN: Yeah, yeah. I got a job right away.

RP: Right away. And you worked for the project director?

KN: Yeah, project... well not exactly a director but some, underneath him.

RP: Some, some high mucky muck?

KN: Yeah, yeah. Uh-huh.

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: Yeah.

RP: And...

KN: They didn't even know how to dictate, some of 'em. They just got a job in the camp.

RP: Right.

KN: But then they weren't, they weren't boss material, I tell you. [Laughs] So I'm... I thought, what is this? I have to correct it and then let 'em see it then he thought I... he thought he did it but I corrected his grammar and everything, then send the letters out and it was terrible the way they dictated. They didn't know how to... they never had a secretary to dictate to. So it came out terrible. So I fix it and I give it back to him, for him to sign. And then, oh, he thought he did great. He didn't do it. I did it. [Laughs]

RP: So you made him look really good.

KN: Make it sound good for him, but then...

RP: Uh-huh. Now, did you work as a secretary the whole time you were at Jerome?

KN: Yeah, the whole time I was in Jerome.

RP: Uh-huh. And you started at... what wage did you start at?

KN: Twelve dollars. Twelve dollar, twelve dollars a month. That was the going rate. Even the guys that went to chop wood in the lumberjack in the back, they only got twelve dollars. So, toward the end, sixteen. They raised it to sixteen dollars. And by the time I left camp I got nineteen dollars. That was the top. Even the doctors only got nineteen dollars and I got nineteen dollars. I thought that was great.

RP: Yeah, that's pretty good. And tell us about Jerome. What was, where was it, where was the camp? I mean, what was the surroundings like?

KN: Nothing. Just forest. Just... they cut the trees down and put a camp there. There's nothing. Just a bunch of trees and they chopped it down and built a camp there so there was really nothing. But then you know how resourceful Japanese are so all the stuff they needed, vegetables, they planted. And the soil was real good in Arkansas. They planted all the vegetable we needed in the camp and it grew great. So they didn't have to purchase any vegetables, 'cause they grew it in camp. Well, there's a lot of farmers. They know how to grow things. So they planted cabbage, lettuce, you know, whatever we needed in, in the camp, daikon and cucumber. Whatever they needed. They never had to buy outside. They grew in camp.

RP: Did your father farm there?

KN: My father was too old. He didn't do much. But I think he worked as a janitor in the mess hall.

RP: What did you think of the mess halls and the food?

KN: Well the food wasn't great but you have no choice but to eat what they give you. We missed, I missed the rice.

RP: Did you eventually get rice?

KN: Yeah, eventually, but at first a bunch of stuff that the Arkansas people eat, I guess. I didn't know what it was. It was some kind of pasta I guess. But, it is mostly Arkansas people in the kitchen so you didn't have to eat what they give you, pasta or mixed vegetable or something. But nothing you could do. You have to eat what they give you.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.