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

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. And this afternoon we're talking with Kimiko Nakashima. And our interview is taking place at the Bruceville Terrace on Bruceville Road in Sacramento, California.

KN: Right now, uh-huh.

RP: And our interview date is April 3, 2011, our cameraman is Kirk Peterson, Richard Potashin is our interviewer. And our interview will be archived in the Park's library. Kimiko, do you, will you give us permission to go ahead and interview you?

KN: Sure, sure.

RP: Thank you very much.

KN: Not very interesting. [Laughs]

RP: We'll see what happens. First of all, can you share with me your birth date and where you were born?

KN: November 27, 1919. Born in Florin.

RP: And were you born at home?

KN: I guess so, midwife. Nobody here went to hospital in those days. Midwife came to your house.

RP: Uh-huh. And what was your given name at birth?

KN: Kimiko.

RP: Okay. And later on you took, you had another name. How did you get the name Lois?

KN: Oh, the grammar school teacher gave us. They couldn't pronounce Japanese names so most of the grammar school teacher gave us all these English names. We didn't pick it ourselves.

RP: And you got Lois. And who was it, who were you named for, did you know?

KN: There was a movie actress named Lois Wilson? Or somebody. She was a movie actress. I think I got the name after her.

RP: How about the rest of your siblings? Did they also get English names too?

KN: Yeah. My oldest was Norma. Her name was Hatsue and Norma. And my brother Roy was, his name was Masaji. He was the only boy in the family. And the next one Ella, was Fusai. And next was me, Lois Kimiko. And then after me is Hanako, Hannah. And then Harue, Violet. And Mildred, Nobuko.

RP: Mildred?

KN: Yeah. She was that. I don't know how she got that name Mildred but it was Mildred.

RP: How about Hanako? Did she have an English name too?

KN: Hannah.

RP: Hannah.

KN: It was Hannah. Hanako used to say Hannah. The shortcut was for Hanako is Hannah so it was always Hannah. But her name was Hanako.

RP: Did you say one of your siblings was named after a comic book character?

KN: I think my sister Ella was. There was a comic, Ella Cinders? I think there was... I think she was named after her. Or she adopted it.

RP: Ella Cinders?

KN: Yeah, Ella Cinders, there was a comic strip.

RP: Oh, a comic strip.

KN: I think my sister named herself after her. [Laughs]

RP: Oh gee.

KN: 'Cause in the old days Japanese never had an English name. They adopted it when they, if they didn't adopt it the grammar school teacher gave it to you 'cause they couldn't pronounce Japanese name anyways so.

RP: Right, right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: How about your parents? What was your father's name?

KN: Asakichi.

RP: Okay. And...

KN: My mother was Toki.

RP: And where did they come from in Japan, do you know?

KN: Fukui, Fukui Japan.

RP: And where is that located in Japan, do you know?

KN: Up north, I think.

RP: Okay. Do you know much about your father's life in Japan?

KN: No.

RP: Do you know what his family...

KN: He came to America when he was a young man so he's been in America longer than ever. I don't think he remember his Japanese roots 'cause he was in his teenage when he came to America.

RP: Do you know how many siblings he had in Japan?

KN: No. I think he had about three or four brothers, and one sister, something, but I never met any of 'em.

RP: Did you ever travel back to the...

KN: No, I've never been to Japan.

RP: And your mother, Toki --

KN: Toki.

RP: -- also came from that area?

KN: Yeah, Japan. I think she came earlier and she was young. You know, Japanese arranged marriage and my father was already thirty-eight and she was barely eighteen when they got married in San Francisco. Yeah.

RP: So how did that work out?

KN: I don't know. Well you know, Japanese women don't do anything that the husband don't tell them to so she obeyed the husband I don't know if they were that happy. I don't know, but they never fought that I know of. But there's so much age difference. My father was over forty when he married my mother and she was barely eighteen.

RP: Yeah, that's, we've heard that a number of times.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Young women... and then, you know, the dad would...

KN: Yeah, they send for somebody in Japan and then get a young girl and then they get married in San Francisco. That was it.

RP: Yeah, do you know, do you know what date they got married?

KN: I have no idea. about 1910 or 1911 I think. 1910 probably.

RP: And where did they settle originally?

KN: San Francisco.

RP: Do you know what your father did for a living early on?

KN: Uh, he worked for a hakujin family but I don't know what he did. Gardener or butler or... that's about the only kind available for Japanese men when they come from Japan. They don't speak English.

RP: Did he ever, did he ever learn English?

KN: But just enough to get by where he worked for hakujin family so you know. But not that well.

RP: So tell me what you remember about your father. His personality, what was he like for you?

KN: Oh, he was very good to us. I mean, he took care of all of us. 'Cause there were seven of us. And he worked hard to provide for us and we, he sent us to Japanese school. I went to Japanese school eight years. Yeah. So he provided for us. He wasn't very rich but then, you know, he made sure that we were okay.

RP: How about your mother? What do you remember most about her?

KN: Oh, she came when she was young and then they let her marry my father right away so she was, she didn't hardly have any, any kind of life. Raising children one after another.

RP: And your, you talked about your siblings. And you, what were your impressions of your brother, Roy?

KN: Bossy. [Laughs] He bossed us around. 'Cause you know, boy in Japanese, they thought they were something great. He made me polish his shoes. Everything that he didn't want to do, he made me iron his shirts. Fussy about how I ironed his cuffs. "Oh, do it over." Bossy... but my oldest sister was very nice to us. She took care of us. She made sure that my brother didn't boss us too much but my older sister was just a year older than my brother, see. But they were real close but then she always took care of us, see that my brother don't boss us around too much.

RP: Then, then later on he joined the military didn't he?

KN: Yeah. Then he appreciated us, oh boy. When he decided to get married from Amache camp, he sent me a brand new suitcase and he never gave me anything in his life. He knew that I was leaving camp to go out and then he sent me a brand new suitcase. I think I still have it someplace in the house.

RP: That's something you want to hold on to.

KN: Yeah. 'Cause he never gave me anything.

RP: How was your relationship with your other sisters?

KN: Oh, we're close. We were close. They're six of us you know.

RP: And what, when you were growing up, what values did your parents try to instill in you? What...

KN: We worked hard. We always raised strawberry. Seven, eight acres. Even when we were kids we had to pick strawberries.

RP: So hard work...

KN: Oh yeah.

RP: Education?

KN: Yeah, and then after I graduated high school I went to work for State Department of Motor Vehicles. And I worked there 'til we got evacuated.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Now tell us a little bit about your father's farm. Did he, did he own his farm?

KN: Yeah. Twenty-acres. But I don't know. It was mortgaged. I don't think they owned it completely. It was a company that we shipped our strawberries to I think. And he had the mortgage.

RP: Oh.

KN: So I don't think we owned it. But we worked on it. I picked strawberries since I was a kid. Since six-years old I think I picked strawberries. That's all we did.

RP: So you were the, you were the cheap labor force on the farm.

KN: Oh yeah. Me and my sisters. That's, that's all we knew I guess, how to pick strawberries. That's all we did.

RP: So, was the whole twenty-acres planted in strawberries or did you have grapes or anything else?

KN: No, we just planted about five, six acres just enough that we can take care of. We had twenty-acres but we didn't plant anything on there. And some hakujin neighbor used it to raise their horses on our property. We let them use it 'cause we only used part of it for strawberry. We didn't use the whole twenty acres.

RP: Did your father rotate the five acres every year? Would he go to a different part of the twenty acres?

KN: Yeah. Uh-huh. We raised strawberries for about three years and then you gotta change. You gotta put new plants so we just rotated it.

RP: Did he raise his own plants or did you...

KN: No, I don't think so. The company made us buy those plants that came in a big box and then inside it had roots on it and everything and then we just planted that.

RP: Did you have to plant the plants too?

KN: Oh yeah. I know how to plant strawberries. If you want, if you want to raise strawberries, I'll help you. [Laughs]

RP: Okay, well sure, I'll let you know. Well there's some bare ground I saw out near our motel so...

KN: Yeah, raise some strawberries.

RP: Yeah. And do you remember the company that shipped out his strawberries?

KN: North American Farms was the company they were shipped to. I think all the Japanese farmers' strawberries sent to this Northern California Farms.

RP: Okay. And were the, were the berries shipped out at, from the Florin railroad station?

KN: Yeah, yeah, they shipped east on a car, carload of strawberries went east to market.

RP: Refrigerated probably?

KN: I think so, yeah.

RP: Now did your father, did he also pack his own strawberries too?

KN: Well, we picked and we packaged our self.

RP: Okay.

KN: Twelve, twelve basket crate and we picked the strawberry and we put it in there and filled it up and then just... everybody packed your own, own crate.

RP: Did you make the crates yourself or did...

KN: Yeah. Uh-huh. We ordered, they call it shook, heads and sides and then, then during the summer vacation we had to box strawberry crate. I was good at that. You know, you got to be able to hammer one time, one shot. And we had to make all the boxes during the summer, summertime.

RP: And how long would you work out in the field on strawberries? All day long?

KN: Yeah, every day after school and weekends. And during the harvest I think we hired some Filipino workers and they're real good workers. They come from the Philippines every summer to work in the strawberries. They were a good strawberry pickers. So we used about five or six of those every year.

RP: Did they, did they stay on the farm during the...

KN: Oh, we had a rooming house on our property that they lived there and they cooked for themselves and they did fend for themselves. And after the season was over they went home to Philippines.

RP: So they're contract laborers that came over.

KN: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: Can you tell me a little bit about the house that you lived in in Florin?

KN: Just an old house with no inside plumbing. Outside toilet.

RP: Did you have electricity?

KN: Oh yeah. In the house... my father was a carpenter. All the houses, the neighbor's house and our house, my father built it.

RP: Did he have help? Did he have other neighbors who came over to help?

KN: Yeah, yeah, his brother and all the neighbors. 'Cause you had to help them build theirs so everybody helped each other build their own homes.

RP: So you mentioned that your father had a brother.

KN: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: Also...

KN: Yeah, close by.

RP: In Florin?

KN: They helped each other.

RP: What was his name?

KN: Kajiro.

RP: Kajiro. Okay. And did he, did he have a family too?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah. His kid's about my age. The oldest one is my age. The rest is much younger but then, they had six, seven kids too. They all worked on the farm like the rest of us. We didn't know any better I guess. 'Cause we raised strawberries and the whole family have to work on it.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Where did you go to school when you started school?

KN: Florin, Florin grammar school. It was segregated in those days and Japanese went to one school and hakujin went to the, another school so all the Japanese went to one, one grammar school. And we got all mixed when we got to high school. But then grammar school we all were, we're all Japanese.

RP: And Florin was predominately a Japanese American farming community.

KN: Yeah. Yeah.

RP: Do you remember any other groups, ethnic groups? Were there some Caucasians and...

KN: No... the shed that we shipped to was owned by a Caucasian. Yeah, and then they shipped the strawberries on a train to the eastern market.

RP: And what was school like for you?

KN: Huh?

RP: What was grammar school like for you?

KN: Oh, fine. All the Japanese went to the same grammar school. We didn't mix with the hakujins 'til we went to high school. Then, then we were all... hakujin and we never met hakujin 'til we went got into high school. 'Cause in grammar school we're all Japanese. There was a hakujin grammar school down the street but then there were hakujin there and Japanese here so we didn't, we didn't associate 'til we got to high school, then we all got acquainted.

RP: Did you have a favorite subject in school?

KN: Typing and shorthand. I was good at shorthand. I used that for my living after I got out of high school. I went to camp and then I was stenographer... some of these hakujin they hired, they don't know how to dictate. So they write in longhand, I have to correct it. They all come from, I don't know, Texas or Arkansas or someplace. And they never had a secretary to dictate to so they write in long hand then give it to me and then I'd type it all up.

RP: Did you have a social life at all? Did the family...

KN: In camp yeah, we had dances and... we had a lot of dances and movies that they'd bring in from the outside.

RP: How about in Florin when you were growing up, did you, did you go, did you go to Sacramento occasionally?

KN: No. Grammar, we'd go to grammar school and after grammar school we went to Japanese school. And after Japanese school, five o'clock, we went home.

RP: To pick strawberries.

KN: Next day, yeah, yeah.

RP: And so where was Japanese school located?

KN: In the Buddhist church grounds.

RP: And how long did you go to Japanese school?

KN: Eight years. I could read and write. I don't use it now but we all, we all had to read and write.

RP: And did your parents want you to go there?

KN: Yeah. They want us to learn 'cause they didn't use, they didn't speak English or anything so unless we learned Japanese we can't communicate.

RP: So you spoke mostly Japanese in the home?

KN: At home, uh-huh.

RP: Okay.

KN: 'Cause my folks don't speak English. They don't understand. You have to speak to them in Japanese. And we went to Japanese school to learn how to read and write so that's the way it was when we were kids. Now there is no such thing I guess.

RP: Yeah, are there Japanese schools still...

KN: I don't know. I think Sacramento has.

RP: Oh do they.

KN: But nothing in Florin.

RP: Did, there was another, there was a Methodist church in Florin too.

KN: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: Did they also have a Japanese school?

KN: Yeah, I think they did.

RP: Okay. Do you remember your teachers in Japanese school?

KN: Yeah, our minister was the Japanese school teacher, a reverend, reverend, a church reverend. And then maybe they hired one Japanese school teacher, sometimes it was some doctor's wife or something that real good in Japanese. They hired her to teach us too. I forgot a lot.

RP: It's been a while.

KN: It is. [Laughs]

RP: Did you, did you learn anything else in Japanese school about Japan, the history or the culture?

KN: No. Just Japanese.

RP: Just the language?

KN: Just the language.

RP: So would you speak it with your friends too? Or would you speak English?

KN: No, we just spoke Japanese at home 'cause our folks don't, don't speak English. But then we spoke English at school and... although when we went to Japanese school we were forced to talk to, talking, use Japanese but then once you come out of there...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: So what did you do for fun growing up as a kid?

KN: Nothing, just went to school.

RP: Did you play with friends? Did you have friends to play with at school?

KN: Yeah, at school we had friends.

RP: How about sports? Did you get active in sports?

KN: Well yeah, in Buddhist church we had a girls' basketball team and there's a boys' basketball team. They played all the neighborhood town. We were pretty good, the girls' team. We always won. We won more than we lost. [Laughs] I was a tomboy.

RP: And so there was a court for you outside the school?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh, they build a basketball court. Originally it was outside and we played outside but later on when they build a gym we had a basketball ring inside. And when the boys start playing we had a league, Northern California Basketball League. We played from one town to another.

RP: What position did you play?

KN: Forward.

RP: Forward?

KN: I wasn't very good but I played forward. [Laughs]

RP: And you...

KN: [Inaudible] says, just half and half. Three forward and three guard. Later on it was two, two, two, but at first it was only half. This court was half and three on this side and three on that side. That's a long time ago. Way before you were born probably.

RP: So did you travel? You traveled to other communities to play?

KN: No, not very far.

RP: Not very far.

KN: Just Sacramento and Walnut Grove or Stockton but never very far. They either came or we went and that's about it.

RP: Baseball was also an important sport in Florin too.

KN: Yeah. Florin... it's like, they were pretty good baseball players.

RP: Did you go to games?

KN: Oh yeah. Local games we all had to go watch 'em. And then baseball team, they went to northern California. They went to Lodi, Stockton, Newcastle. They all had baseball teams.

RP: Was your dad a big baseball fan?

KN: Yeah. He went to all of 'em. [Laughs]

RP: Did you have any hobbies growing up?

KN: No, just played basketball for a church team.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: So did you also on the farm have a vegetable garden area?

KN: Oh yeah. We never bought vegetable. We had it in the backyard, all the vegetable we need.

RP: And where, where did the water come to irrigate your strawberries?

KN: Well, we had a well.

RP: How about other staples like rice and those kind of items, where did you go to shop for those?

KN: Yeah, you had to buy rice.

RP: Where did you go?

KN: Oh, there's a grocery store in Florin. Yeah, ate a lot of rice when you got six, seven kids. Rice is a staple you know for Japanese. We had rice every day.

RP: Did you eat it at every meal too?

KN: No, just at night or sometime noon and at night. Not in the morning.

RP: So what was your diet like? You ate a lot of vegetables and rice?

KN: Yeah, a lot of vegetables that we grow in the backyard and a little bit of meat to flavor it. But then mostly vegetables.

RP: Did you ever, were you able to get fish at all?

KN: Yeah, store had fish and beef and pork so they had no problem there.

RP: So Florin had a, had a store.

KN: Yeah, they had a grocery store, about three of them. They all had whatever we'd need so.

RP: So what was a breakfast like?

KN: Rice and tea and vegetable. Mostly all vegetable from, from the garden.

RP: For breakfast?

KN: Yeah. Greens and whatever, daikon.

RP: Oh. Did you grow, did you grow other Japanese vegetables besides daikon?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh, whatever... green beans, peas, tomato, whatever you need. I don't think we ever bought vegetables. We raised it.

RP: Did you ever raise gobo?

KN: Yeah. Gobo. Yeah, our, when you buy gobo it's like this. When you plant it only like this. It doesn't grow too long 'cause the ground's hardpan.

RP: How did your mom prepare that?

KN: Oh, cook it with meat or sometimes you season with vinegar. There's a lot of ways to eat gobo. I love gobo. They're expensive now aren't they? They still have it in the store but they're pretty expensive.

RP: Mostly Japanese stores or Asian stores.

KN: Yeah. Yeah, they have, it's like this.

RP: Right.

KN: But what we had in the kitchen like this. It doesn't grow that much in our ground, hardpan.

RP: So you had a hardpan underneath your...

KN: Yeah, hardpan so it doesn't grow too long. But then it's edible so. How did you get interested in all this?

RP: Oh, I don't know. I just started doing it. Another question and another part of life on the farm was the, was the furo, ofuro?

KN: Yeah. We all had furo.

RP: And do you remember bathing every night?

KN: Oh yeah. That's Japanese, bathe every night.

RP: And was the ofuro, was it away from the main house?

KN: Yeah, bath, bath house. See because the smokes goes up a lot so we had a bath house and you burned underneath to heat the thing, bath.

RP: So who had the, who had the job of getting the fire going, do you remember?

KN: I think my father, mostly my father. And we kept on puttin' the wood in it but the start my father did. I didn't know how to start. You put paper and kindling... it takes a lot of talent to start the fire going underneath the bath.

RP: How large a bath was it?

KN: Oh, plenty of room so that two or three can get in comfortably in the bath.

RP: Pretty hot?

KN: Oh, yeah. And you had a hose in there if it gets too hot you just turn the hose on but then you keep taking the log underneath 'til it gets hot. And then when it gets hot, when you want to take a bath if it's too hot you just put water in there. Yeah, the Japanese take a bath every night.

RP: It relaxes you from all that strawberry picking.

KN: Yeah. Yeah.

RP: So did any of the girls in your family, did you have opportunity to take any music lessons or art lessons?

KN: No money.

RP: No money.

KN: But I played the church organ since I was a kid. I never had music lessons but I played. I ad-libbed the whole thing.

RP: You just had an ear for it?

KN: Yeah.

RP: So you'd play the organ every Sunday at church?

KN: Uh-huh.

RP: This was, was this a Buddhist church or Methodist church?

KN: Yeah, Buddhist church.

RP: I didn't know they had organs in Buddhist churches.

KN: I'm not very good at it but I played.

RP: You had natural talent.

KN: Oh thank you. I like to hear that. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Let's see, okay... so for... did you ever attend movies in Florin? Were there Japanese movies that were shown in the Buddhist church?

KN: In the summertime we had movie outside.

RP: Outside?

KN: Yeah. Put a lot of chairs down and then the screen on the wall. Oh, we had a lot of Japanese movie in the summer. Yeah, I liked Japanese movie. Some of the samurai ones was real good. Did you ever watch samurai movie?

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: Yeah, they're good. Some are made real good.

RP: There, other people have told us that sometimes there would be a person that would speak all the parts...

KN: I know, we had that. Or before the talkies came. They called it benshi and they'd bring a thing. And silent movie and then he does all the talking. Yeah, we had a lot of that when we were kids. That's all we had. They called it benshi.

RP: How is that spelled?

KN: B-E-N-S-H-I. That's a narrator.

RP: The narrator, okay. That's what you are right now, you're a narrator.

KN: [Laughs]

RP: So you had a, you had a lot of activities centered around the community.

KN: Yeah.

RP: How about picnics, were there ever picnics at...

KN: Yeah, once a year we had the picnic. Go out in the, way out in the country some hay field someplace. Put a fence around it and we have a picnic.

RP: Was that for all the families in Florin?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh. Anybody could come.

RP: And what do you remember about... what else do you remember about the picnics?

KN: Oh, we had a race, three-legged race. And just running race. Yeah, it was fun. That's all there was in the summertime, picnics with three-legged, three-legged races and you know, jump rope race. I was good at that jump rope. You jump rope from one end to the other, just go fast.

RP: And so during the summers you worked on the farm most of the time?

KN: [Nods]

RP: Did the family ever take a, trips outside the area?

KN: Not that I remember.

RP: Did you have a car?

KN: Yeah, we had a car. But you had to, you had to ship the strawberry out to the association shed so you have to have a car.

RP: And how often would your father take his strawberries to the shed?

KN: Every day.

RP: Every day?

KN: We had to pick every day. It was hard. Picking strawberry's really hard. Your back hurts. But what else is there? If the family don't pick strawberry who's gonna pick the strawberries?

RP: But then you got that nice bath waiting for you at the end of the day.

KN: Oh, I don't know about that. [Laughs] I'm old and tired.

RP: So when, when is the harvest season? Is it usually all year round or when would be the peak season for picking?

KN: Well, we had strawberry from early spring 'til sometime late... even we have some in September and October. And then in the fall we cut the weeds and you know... there's a lot of work to be done.

RP: How about, how about fertilizer on the strawberries?

KN: Yeah, we, we fertilize in November.

RP: And what did you use? Did you use manures?

KN: No, the company sells fertilizer. I don't know. It's a mixture or something and then you just put it between the, between the aisle.

RP: In November?

KN: Yeah, when the strawberry season is over we put the fertilizer. And they come out, the strawberry comes out real green and stuff in the spring. So you have to have fertilizer.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: And so you went to Elk Grove High School, correct?

KN: Uh-huh.

RP: And you said that you attended a segregated school for grammar school.

KN: Grammar school, grammar school. Yeah, all the Japanese went to one side and hakujin went to the other side.

RP: And so...

KN: West school, West Grammar School and East Grammar School, I went to East. And we didn't associate with white people until we went to high school.

RP: What was that like? Suddenly you met white people?

KN: Oh, fun, it was nice. You have to get along you know. English class you're all mixed. And in gym it's all mixed. So it was all right. It's just that when we're in grammar school it was segregated but that's how it was so we just never thought anything about it.

RP: So did you, did any of the Caucasian kids treat you differently being Japanese American? Did you...

KN: No.

RP: Any prejudice or...

KN: No, just a few that called us "Japs," some boys, but then other than that we got along fine with hakujin girls. 'Cause we played together. We played basketball. Baseball we all had to play together so we got along fine.

RP: And so you took, your popular subjects in high school were typing and did you start to do shorthand, too, there?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh. Typing and shorthand was my favorite. And I used it after I graduated I went to camp, I was a full time secretary. And some of these white people that came to work we called them Okies and Arkies. They never had a secretary before. They didn't know how to dictate. They write it in longhand, you have to read it back to them what they wrote.

RP: Yeah. We're, we're gonna get to the that in just a little bit here. What about your older sister, Norma, had she...

KN: Oh, she got married young and then she moved away. She...

RP: While you were in high school she got married?

KN: Yeah, she lived in Los Angeles.

RP: And who did she marry?

KN: She married... I forgot. [Asks someone off camera] What did Kay do?

Off Camera: What did he do? Grocery store. Grocery?

KN: Yeah, I think he was a grocer. My sister married a grocery man in Los Angeles.

RP: So she was the first one to leave the, leave the farm.

KN: Yeah. She hated it.

RP: And Roy, your brother, the bossy one...

KN: Oh, he got... yeah, he got drafted in the army. And then, oh, and then did he miss us. He used to boss us around, "Iron my shirt. Wash my pants." He's the only son in the family. There's seven of us and he was next to the oldest and oh, he bossed us around but did he miss us when he went in the army.

RP: Did he join the army before the war broke out?

KN: Yeah, he was drafted.

RP: He was drafted.

KN: And then he went to Italy.

RP: Okay. First draft, yeah. Okay. And so you were, you played sports in high school?

KN: Not very much. I wasn't very good.

RP: At basketball still?

KN: Yeah. I played baseball but I wasn't very good at it.

RP: Baseball too?

KN: Just in the gym class we all had to do it.

RP: Right. Did you, were you a part of a club or any, any other...

KN: No, just from the Buddhist church, church basketball team. We played other, other towns.

RP: And so you graduated in 1937 from Elk Grove?

KN: Yeah, Elk Grove High School.

RP: Okay. What was the, what were the school colors?

KN: Blue and gold huh? [Looks off camera.] Blue and gold.

RP: Uh-huh. And did you have a mascot?

KN: I don't think... [Looks off camera.] Did you guys have a mascot?

Off Camera: Well we're the herd, so.

Off Camera: Thundering Herd.

Off Camera: Yeah, we were the Thundering Herd but I don't know if we had a mascot.

KN: I don't think we had a mascot.

RP: So we have a, we have a couple of photos of you if you would... can you hold those up to the camera or show me?

Off Camera: Yeah, show Richard.

RP: Oh.

Off Camera: Hold on.

RP: Oh.

KN: Do you want me to hold this?

RP: Can you hold them up like you're gonna show me?

KN: [Holds up two photos]

Off Camera: And that's... please explain those.

RP: And so Kimiko, that, the picture of you in front of you house.

KN: Uh-huh.

RP: Is that in front of your house?

KN: [Nods] The side.

RP: And you're, how old are you?

KN: I don't know, about fifteen or sixteen I guess.

RP: Okay. And then a picture of you in a cap and gown.

KN: Yeah, that's my high school.

RP: And you told me that you didn't have your own cap and gown.

KN: No, this was a... photographer's studio loaned us this. They wouldn't let us borrow the one that we wore at the graduation.

Off Camera: [Takes photos] Thank you for showing those to us.

RP: Do you remember a, your graduation and senior prom? Did you have a senior prom too?

KN: I don't think I even went to the prom. Only hakujin went to the prom. The Japanese didn't go.

RP: Why not?

KN: I don't know. Just didn't. Just hakujin thought that was their thing. They wasn't thinking of thinking the Japanese would go where they go.

RP: So they didn't want you there?

KN: I don't know. They never asked so we never went. But later on it changed. Hakujin got friendly with the Japanese but early on hakujin went hakujin and Japanese went Japanese.

RP: What, who were your closest neighbors to your farm in...

KN: Oh, we had a hakujin neighbor.

RP: Did you?

KN: Yeah.

RP: What was his name?

KN: Robbins. Oh, I don't know what he did. But he went to work someplace but then he helped himself to strawberries every day. They never go without strawberries. They come have the strawberries and I give, we give to them. 'Cause what little they eat it doesn't matter. I just give him baskets at a time. Oh they liked that. Free strawberries.

RP: Did you have a small strawberry stand too somewhere?

KN: Huh?

RP: Did you, did you sell strawberries on the, on the road there at all?

KN: No. No.

RP: No?

KN: But people came and wanted it so we, we just sell it to them if they want it but we never had a stand to sell it. We're too busy pickin' 'em to ship 'em.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: So what did you do after you graduated high school?

KN: I went to work for the State Department of Motor Vehicles.

RP: And how did you get that job?

KN: Took a test. To get a state job you have to take a test.

RP: And that was 1938, '39, somewhere around there?

KN: Yeah. about 1940, '41. Just before we, just before we got into camp I was working at the time.

RP: And you worked in Sacramento?

KN: Yeah. Commuted to Sacramento, department of motor vehicles, driver's license bureau is where I went. Boy, I was good at numbers. Everything you did, all numbers. You had to type all the driver's license number, engine number, everything, all number, number, number. Crazy, we type in numbers. [Laughs]

RP: How did you get to Sacramento and back? Did you have a car to drive?

KN: Yeah, we had a car. We drove to Sacramento.

RP: And so how did you learn how to drive?

KN: I guess my brother or my sister I guess. They were all my older brothers and sisters. They were driving so they were willing to teach us. It wasn't that hard to learn you know. I can't believe that I learned so fast. [Laughs] Now, huh, it's kind of hard to teach young kids to drive 'cause the traffic is so bad.

RP: Yeah, there wasn't much traffic in those days.

KN: Yeah. Just an old country road. We drove back and forth on country road.

RP: So were there other Japanese Americans that were hired at the Department of Motor Vehicles?

KN: Oh, yeah. A lot of Japanese women were working for Department of Motor Vehicles, other department, finance, personnel, all kinds of state jobs. A lot of Japanese were working.

RP: So what happened when the war came along?

KN: Huh?

RP: When the war broke out, what happened to those workers?

KN: Oh, we all got fired.

RP: Including yourself?

KN: Yeah. They fired us all 'cause we're gonna go into concentration camp. They can't work so we all got laid off.

RP: Laid off or fired?

KN: Well it's same thing. We all got laid off.

RP: How do you feel about that? Do you feel that was fair?

KN: Well, there's nothing... we're at war. There's nothing we could do. We just took it in stride and just go on with our life. And then we got in to Utah from camp and then I got a job for the Utah state as a stenographer, right away. Then, they never heard of Japanese girl being able to take dictation, all that so oh they were glad to hire me. I got a job right away.

RP: So did you do stenography at the Department of Motor Vehicles too?

KN: Yeah, I did, uh-huh. That's how I started. I started as a typist and just before we went into camp I would be, I became a stenographer. But then... not much, just couple a months. 'Cause we had to go into camp.

RP: You also worked on a farm, the Bill Sharp farm? Do you remember that?

KN: We're neighbors. We helped to harvest his crop. Bill Sharp was the next door neighbor when we lived.

RP: And was that... that was quince? What type of fruit was it?

KN: Oh, whatever he had. Grapes, quinces... we helped him harvest quinces too.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Do you recall December 7, 1941? Where were you and how did you...

KN: Yeah. You heard it on the radio and we just panicked 'cause right away they said we can't, we couldn't go anyplace. December, after December 7, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, we, we couldn't go anyplace. We were just, we had to stay home. And so it didn't take long for us to be evacuated into camp.

RP: Right, there was a travel restrictions.

KN: Oh, yeah.

RP: And so how soon after the war broke out were you, were you laid off?

KN: Right away.

RP: Right away?

KN: Right away. So there's no job. So by that time they're talking about putting us in a concentration camp so that's what happened.

RP: Now, your, did you know your husband before the war? Tom?

KN: Oh yeah, we went to high school together.

RP: You went to high school together?

KN: I was a year ahead of him but... [Laughs]

RP: That's where you met him?

KN: Oh, oh we all same town. We knew everybody.

RP: Were you guys dating?

KN: Not at.. yeah, senior ball or junior prom or something but about once or twice.

RP: Uh-huh. So what were your impressions of Tom as a young guy?

KN: Nice guy. He wasn't a very good dancer but we went to dances anyway. [Laughs] I was a year ahead of him at school anyway. But he was real matured for someone younger than me.

RP: So you guys weren't serious at that point, were you?

KN: Not at that time. Not when we were going to high school. We just, we just knew each other but later, later on he went to Manzanar and I went to Fresco Assembly Center so we got, we got split. So we didn't see each other until way later, about three years later.

RP: Were you, were you aware of the FBI coming around and arresting Issei?

KN: Yeah, yeah. A lot of people that we knew got arrested.

RP: Like who?

KN: Like church, big wheel at the church, Buddhist church. And some grocery owners. Some that's kind of prominent, they all got picked up. But we were nobody so they never bothered us. Only the nobodies didn't get bothered. All the people that was... Japanese school people or Buddhist church or somebody that was important got all picked up.

RP: Like your language school teacher?

KN: Yeah. And the grocery store man, and the Buddhist church minister, they all got picked up. For doing nothing, you know, just being who they are. But they got picked up anyway. We were nobody so they didn't bother us.

RP: Did you have any... well, there was the travel restrictions and then there was a curfew.

KN: Yeah. You couldn't travel.

RP: Right. And then they wanted you to turn in certain contraband like guns or...

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: ...cameras.

KN: Cameras.

RP: Did you, do you remember your dad having to turn things in?

KN: Yeah, cameras and... we didn't, we only had cameras. I don't know what else... and whatever, we just turned it anyway, mostly cameras.

RP: Now how about items that had a connection with Japan or Japanese culture?

KN: I guess so. But we didn't have anything like that.

RP: Swords, pictures of the emperor...

KN: Yeah, yeah, a lot of people that had those Japanese swords and stuff, they all got picked up.

RP: They did.

KN: But we didn't have anything like that so.

RP: So you don't remember your dad burning anything or burying anything?

KN: Yeah, some papers he burned in the backyard. Oh, thing that Japanese passport or whatever, anything that had Japanese word on it, I think he buried it in the back yard and he burned it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Now did, when you mentioned that you heard the news about Pearl Harbor, the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Did you know where that was? Did you have any idea that...

KN: Yeah, we saw so much in the news that we knew it was, it was in Hawaii...

RP: Right.

KN: ...but then we didn't think we'd be put into camp so fast.

RP: Right. Did you, were you aware of what was going on in the world? That Japan and the United States were...

KN: Yeah, yeah, they were at war.

RP: ...close, you know they were, you know...

KN: And so we know nothing good would happen, you know, being us Japanese.

RP: Right. So you started to worry and you were concerned about what was gonna happen to you?

KN: So we just left everything and went into camp. When we came back, I don't know, it was all gone. Somebody... I think our property was mortgaged by Arts and Cook or something. So they took over whatever. So we didn't have anything when we came back.

RP: Really.

KN: Nothing. We start over from scratch. We had to go work for somebody else.

RP: So you still had a mortgage. You hadn't paid the mortgage off entirely?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh, we hadn't... yeah. Uh-huh.

RP: And so somebody took over the farm.

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: Who was that again? Did you say...

KN: Arts and Cooks, Arts and Cook, I think they are a real estate agent. He took over everybody's property. 'Cause everybody still had mortgage on it. They had property that wasn't all paid for yet. So this Arts and Cook, he took over everybody's property.

RP: Were you, were you able to store some of your possessions?

KN: I didn't have anything. [Laughs]

RP: Nothing at all? The family didn't have any...

KN: No.

RP: or...

KN: No, we didn't have anything like that. We just left everything. We didn't have time to pack, really. You know, a couple a days and then you're going here and that's it. So, you know. We just sold our car to somebody for a hundred fifty bucks or something. We had a 1936 Chevrolet sedan and then one guy that had a garage, he wanted it so we sold it to him. But then other than that you couldn't take anything with you.

RP: What was the feeling like in the communities, Elk Grove and Sacramento, towards the Japanese Americans after the war?

KN: I don't know. They were glad to see us go some of 'em. You'd be surprised you know. Some came to see us off, our neighbors and stuff. But a lot of 'em, just glad to get rid of us. I couldn't believe that they feel that way when we'd been neighbors and friends for years and then they were so glad to see us go. So that's how the feeling was at the time, you know, war.

RP: Now your sister Fusei, or Fusai...

KN: Yeah, she'd dead. Nobody's left. I'm the only one left in the family. Everybody's dead.

RP: Fusai, she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a sanitarium?

KN: Yeah, yeah, she did. She went to Weimar Sanitarium. She died there.

RP: And where is Weimar?

KN: Up in the north. Where is Weimar?

Off Camera: I think it's near Auburn.

KN: Near Auburn. Past Auburn. Weimar is, is a sanitarium. And my sister went there. She died there.

RP: When did she contract tuberculosis?

KN: I don't know. She worked for the state and then she was filing and... that got her tuberculosis, filing stuff. And she licked her, like that. That's what the doctor said. That's how she contracted it 'cause nobody in the family had tuberculosis. She's the only one that contacted it. They think that's what happened when she was filing at the state and lick her fingers and do that. That's how she got it.

RP: And when did she, when was she sent to Weimar Sanitarium? Do you know? Was it before the war?

KN: Yeah, before the, before we went into camp, yeah.

RP: Shortly before you went into camp?

KN: Yeah, yeah. So she never did go into camp. She was in the sanitarium all the time.

RP: Did you visit her before you left for camp?

KN: No, we couldn't. We were, you know, we couldn't, we couldn't leave our home. We couldn't go anyplace.

RP: You were kind of frozen in...

KN: Yeah, yeah. So we just wrote each other but that's about it. 'Cause we couldn't, we couldn't leave the home. We couldn't travel.

RP: And your oldest sister who got married...

KN: Norma.

RP: Norma.

KN: Yeah, she was already married. She lived in Los Angeles.

RP: Right.

KN: And they voluntarily evacuated to Utah. There were about three families went on a caravan. They all lined up together and they went. They went where, where they weren't evacuated they went... they ended up in, I think, Brigham City, Utah. Honeyville, Utah, or someplace out there. And they got a job in a cannery.

RP: Was there, was there any discussion about having you go too? Your family?

KN: Oh, there were, they were itching to take us, for us to go there too so that we don't have to stay in the camp all the time. They found a place for us but they worked in a fruit cannery and there were plenty of jobs so they sent for us and we went there, and we got a job sorting fruits, cherries, apricot, all that. At least we got a job.

RP: So tell us where you, where did you assemble to go to camp, to go to Fresno?

KN: Just what we can carry. You couldn't take anything, just the clothes you wear, that's about it. We left everything at home 'cause we couldn't take it. You could only take what you can carry. So we left a lot of things at home. All the purses and shoes and stuff, we all left.

RP: And you never saw any of that again?

KN: No. Never saw it again.

RP: And where did you, where did you meet the train?

KN: In Elk Grove... the Southern Pacific Train.

RP: Did somebody drive you to the train station?

KN: Yeah, next door neighbor.

RP: Who was that?

KN: Hakujin neighbor, they took us to the train. And the, I think our neighbor, Japanese neighbor, they haven't gone. We went on a Wednesday. They didn't go 'til Friday. So they took us to the station. But I don't know who took them when we were all gone. They had to go to the station on Friday.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Kimiko Nakashima. And also present with us for the interview is Kimiko's sons, Robert and Tom. Kimiko, we were talking about your removal from Florin. And can you, do you remember the day that you left Florin?

KN: No. It was after the evacuation order came. I think we were the only one... first one to leave. We left on a Wednesday and the rest of the Florin people left on a Friday I think. But we were the first to go think. I think it was on a Wednesday.

RP: Now some Florin people went to Manzanar.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Like, like your future husband.

KN: Yeah.

RP: And some Florin people went to Jerome.

KN: Not, not then.

RP: Right.

KN: When Fresno Assembly closed we went to Jerome.

RP: Right. Other, other...

KN: And there was some went to Tule Lake. And there was a temporary camp in Sacramento called Walerga. A lot of people went to Walerga and people that went to Walerga went to Tule Lake in the end.

RP: Right.

KN: And all of us at Fresno Assembly Center, we went to Jerome, Arkansas.

RP: Do you remember a woman by the name of Mary Tsukamoto?

KN: Oh yes, she's a family friend.

RP: Is she?

KN: Do you know her? Did you know her?

RP: No, I didn't know her. I know her daughter Muriel.

KN: Muriel.

RP: There was some folks in Florin who said that she was part of deciding who would go to what camp.

KN: That I don't know. I heard a lot of that rumor too but I worked for Mary, Mary Tsukamoto before the evacuation. Registered people and everything so I didn't have any plans like that. I worked for Mary a few days, about three or four days before we had to go into camp. 'Cause she couldn't handle everything herself. We have to register everybody so I helped to do all that.

RP: And so what did you do? Did you take information down?

KN: Yeah, take their information. How many in the family, and all that.

RP: So did you interview the family?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Oh.

KN: Not much to interview. All they had, just got their address and they're gonna go into camp like the rest of us so. And some of 'em left a lot of stuff at home. Lost their property.

RP: Do you remember the little tags that were issued that people put on their baggage and their...

KN: Yeah I think so. The little, like an index card I think we put it on to identify ourselves.

RP: The family, had the family number?

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: Do you remember your family number?

KN: No. I can't remember. I threw it away probably.

RP: Now did you volunteer to work for Mary or did she ask you to?

KN: She asked me. 'Cause they needed all the help and so I helped her. I registered everybody.

RP: And where did you do that? What...

KN: In the Florin Buddhist Church Hall.

RP: The hall was converted into a processing area.

KN: Yeah. Uh-huh, so everybody had to register to go so I register. I helped Mary register. And Mary had to explain to them what we were doing. So I let her do all the talking to the people and I just registered.

RP: So, your mom, your dad, you, who else went down to Fresno?

KN: My sisters.

RP: Hanako...

KN: Hanako, Harue, Tobuko.

RP: That was it.

KN: My oldest sister, Norma, was already married and she...

RP: Right.

KN: She wasn't living with us so just us, younger sister.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Do you remember anything about the train trip down to Fresno?

KN: Oh, there was black porters. They were real nice to us. And then one of our friends' kids, he'd go up, up and down the aisle imitating this black porter. "Please put your feet back in there." He imitated the black porter. Everybody had a ball listening to him. He's imitating this black porter. Black porter was going back and forth in the train so this, we called him Jui, his name is Juichi, and he watched this black guy doing all this and he goes up and down and talks just like him. [Laughs] We had a ball in the train.

RP: So he kept you entertained?

KN: Yeah, yeah, he kept on imitating just the way the black porter talks and he goes up and down the aisles telling us to put our feet inside and don't stand, all that stuff that the black porter did.

RP: Did they ask you to pull down the shades on the train?

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: All the way to Fresno?

KN: Yeah. Yeah.

RP: Were there, was there a soldier in the car?

KN: Yeah, black, there were a lot of black soldiers and they were nice to us. They sat by us and they felt so sorry for us that we're going into a concentration camp and these black soldiers were real nice to us in the bus, in the train.

RP: In the train.

KN: [Nods]

RP: Were they all black soldiers?

KN: Yeah, mostly. Maybe one or two white but most, they were, most were black.

RP: Did you have a conversation with them?

KN: Oh yeah. One sat by me and we sat together all the way to Fresno. He wanted to know what we did and where we came from and all that. 'Cause they never, they never met Japanese before. They're all blacks. And then so they wanted to know why, what we're doing there and where we're going and all that. So you had to fill them in for all this stuff. But they were real nice to us all the way to Fresno.

RP: When you told him what was happening to you, what did he say?

KN: Oh he felt sorry for us. He couldn't believe it. He looked at me, "Huh?" He didn't think that they were sending us to concentration camp just because we were Japanese.

RP: You were an American citizen.

KN: Yeah. But they were real nice. They're black soldiers and they were real nice to us.

RP: So did you have any feelings or thoughts about what was happening to you?

KN: Oh, oh yeah. I felt disgusted but what could you do. There's nothing you could do.

RP: How about your other sisters. Were they...

KN: Oh yeah, we all went together.

RP: Were they, did they express any emotions about how they felt about...

KN: Well my, one of my sister had tuberculosis. She was in Weimar Sanitarium. So she was the only one there. The rest of us... and my oldest sister was already married and she, she "voluntarily evacuated." So there was only my sister... just the three of us, four of us left that went to Fresno Assembly Center.

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

<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.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: And what time did you go to Fresno? Was it May or...

KN: Yeah, about May.

RP: Now, just to go back a little bit, that was during the peak berry picking time.

KN: I know. We had to leave everything.

RP: You had to leave all those plants in the ground?

KN: Yeah, all the neighbors, their friends all came and helped themselves. Trample all over our strawberry field and helped themselves to strawberry 'cause nothing we can do. We're gonna go to camp next day. All the ripe strawberry hanging there. All the hakujin, oh, they came in droves. Four or five carloads came and helped themselves to strawberries. Nothing we could do. We're gonna go to concentration camp the next day and all the ripe strawberry hanging there so all these white people all came in droves and helped themselves.

RP: You just watched them out there?

KN: Yeah. And they didn't offer to pay a cent. They just helped themselves and took off. I couldn't believe that people could be so greedy. Strawberries are not much. They're only twenty-five cents a crate, a basket. And they take themselves a whole mess of 'em. You'd think they'd give us a dollar or something. But they didn't give us a cent. They helped themselves and trample all through our strawberry field and took all of the strawberry. They came in whole boxes, bucket, you name it and they came in all kinds of containers and helped themselves to strawberries.

RP: And not one person paid you?

KN: No, they didn't give us a cent. They figure what for? We're gonna go to a concentration camp the next day. There's nothing we can do even if they got the money anyway. So they helped themselves. Their friends, their relatives, people we've never seen before. They trample all over our strawberry field. They picked the strawberries to their hearts content. All kinds of container. But all the thing happened you know. In wartime everything happen. You see people in their true colors.

RP: And some of those people were friends and neighbors?

KN: Yeah, neighbors.... Our --

RP: How long were you... I'm sorry, go ahead.

KN: Our friends, we left for camp in Wednesday, and the friend across the street, they didn't go until Friday. So they took us to the station on Wednesday. But then I don't know who took them. But then all the hakujin, they never offered to take us to the... we went to Elk Grove SP Station but just helped themselves to strawberry and goodbye. You'd think they'd offer to take us to the station 'cause we're going to concentration camp. But, you know, that's how you think about some of these people that you've been friends for a long time and then all of a sudden there's nothing.

RP: So there was no, there was no Caucasians that actually did anything to help you.

KN: No. Very few. Our old, old... when we were kids we had a farm that belonged to this old man Landsboro. And then he came to the railroad station, shake my father's hand. He was the only white man that came to shake my father's hand. 'Cause we worked his grapes and his strawberries. My father worked for him for a long time. Harvested all his things, so he came. He was an old man. He was old by then but... Landsboro, he was, and he came to shake my father's hands. I couldn't... I really appreciated it 'cause nobody else came. Just my grammar, my high school teacher, gym teacher, I think she came and I shook her hand. But other than that nobody came. They were all standing there watching us go. They're happy to see us go actually. We went from Elk Grove railroad station. It was packed with all Japanese.

RP: What about a gentleman by the name of George Carlisle?

KN: Oh, he was our landlord. My, my in-laws worked for George Carlisle. Yeah, he was very nice.

RP: Oh, it was your in-laws.

KN: Yeah, he had 80 acres that my, my father-in-law was a foreman for to harvest his grapes.

RP: So, but you knew of him before, before the war?

KN: Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah my father-in-law worked for him for years.

RP: Okay. We'll talk about him in a little while. How long were you, do you recall how long you were in Fresno? Just a few months?

KN: Oh, a few months.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KN: And then from Fresno we went to Jerome, Arkansas.

RP: Did you know where you were going? Did...

KN: Oh yeah. They told us we were going to Arkansas.

RP: What did you think about that?

KN: Where's that? [Laughs] Never heard of Jerome, Arkansas. But it's a long ride. Three nights, four days it took us to get there. We keep stoppin' every little town on the way.

RP: And you came through the state of Texas.

KN: Yeah, San Antonio, Texas, my brother was in Fort Sam Houston and he heard that every other day a train full of Japanese people were going by so he thought he'd better take a look and he went to the station. He was watching and then, watching to see if he knew somebody that was going on the train. And a friend of mine was in the first car and he, nosy old Tosh, he looked out and he saw my brother standing there. "Hey, Roy, your sister's in the last car." So my brother was watching so I saw him. I told him I'm going to Arkansas. So he got a pass and he came to see us couple of days later, to Jerome, Arkansas. He was in Fort Sam Houston.

RP: You guys got to just talk and wave and...

KN: Yeah, wave and I told him I'm going to Jerome, Arkansas. Okay, so he got a pass the next day. He came a couple days later.

RP: Just after you got into camp?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Yeah.

KN: Right after we got into camp he got a pass to go to Jerome from Fort Sam Houston and he came to see us.

RP: And when he came to see you, what was his reaction to...

KN: "Where is this?" But then, you know, there's nothing you can do. We're in a bunch of barracks.

RP: 'Cause he's fighting for, for your country.

KN: Yeah. He's fighting for our country and his family is in a concentration camp. And then after Fort Sam Houston, he got, shipped in some camp in New Jersey and after that he went to Utah, I mean Europe.

RP: Oh.

KN: To...

RP: He went and fought in Europe, Italy, France.

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: So he was a member of the 442?

KN: Yeah, he was in the 442. And as all those Japanese guys got drafted, they got shipped to Italy, they're all 442nd.

RP: Do you, after Roy got drafted before the war started, do you know where he went?

KN: Camp Roberts, and Camp San Luis Obispo, and Fort Lewis, Washington, and then Texas.

RP: And then Fort Sam Houston.

KN: Yeah.

RP: And...

KN: From there he got shipped to New Jersey and then to Italy. He got moved around a lot.

RP: On your train trip to Arkansas, did you also have soldiers in the cars?

KN: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

RP: Were they black soldiers?

KN: Mostly, but not all. Some are white. But the black soldiers were nice. They sat by me and then he talked and then he was real... and then we stopped on the way, way I don't know where, to stretch our legs. And a bunch of hakujin kids out there, they're wonderin' where... "Where you from?" We told 'em California. "Where's California at?" They didn't know where California was. They just wanted to know what the heck, who are we. Coming off the train just to stretch our legs. He says, "Where's California at?" He didn't know where California was.

RP: So do you know where you stopped to stretch your legs? Was it in the South?

KN: Yeah, uh-huh. We were, just didn't know where we were. We just, just for a few minutes just stretch our legs. And then right back into the train and kept going. And then we slowed down in Fort Worth, Texas. And then my brother heard that the Japanese, a bunch of Japanese on the train are going by so he was at the station just watching to see if he knew anybody. And my friend was in the first car. "Hey Roy, you're sister's in the last car." So I saw him then and then I told him we were going to Jerome, Arkansas, so two days later he got a pass and he came to see us and Jerome, Arkansas, he looked at it, "What is this?" A bunch of barracks, nothing.

RP: That must have been exciting to see him though.

KN: Yeah, yeah. I didn't see him since he'd gotten drafted.

RP: A long time.

KN: Yeah, he went to Camp Roberts, Camp San Luis. And then he got in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He got moved around a lot.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Did your other sisters work in the camp too?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Let's see, Hanako, do you remember what she did?

KN: Yeah. She worked one of the project directors too.

RP: Oh, she worked as a secretary too?

KN: Yeah, she, yeah, she was a stenographer too.

RP: Oh really. Did you teach her?

KN: Huh?

RP: Did she go to school for that?

KN: Just from high school.

RP: Oh, okay. How about Nobuko? What did...

KN: Nobuko's too little. She didn't, she was only about eight or nine years old. She just went to school. She didn't do anything.

RP: Haru?

KN: Huh? Harue was not too well so she didn't do anything. She had a, she was always sickly. She had kidney problems and... Harue, so she didn't, she didn't work at all.

RP: Was she, was she the sister that got separated from the rest of the family? And was that...

KN: No, that was...

Off Camera: No, that was Nobuko when she was, she was ill. So she spent a lot of time in the hospital. Nobuko.

RP: Nobuko.

Off Camera: Harue was the one who had appendicitis and died.

RP: Oh, yes, yes.

Off Camera: The first funeral in Jerome.

KN: Yeah, when my sister Harue.

RP: Your sister passed away in Jerome.

KN: Yeah, and the first funeral in Jerome. Boy, it was a big funeral. Everybody came 'cause they never had a funeral in camp. And my sister was the first one that died.

RP: And now what were the circumstances about her... she had an appendicitis attack...

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: ...and nobody treated it?

KN: No, in camp, they don't treat you right away. You just ignored 'til it's too late. And then it burst. And then too late and she died from it. Her appendix burst. 'Cause she keep on saying her stomach hurt, stomach hurt but they didn't do a damn thing. So you know, you just have to, we just went through all this stuff in camp that we wouldn't have gone through if we were, if we're not in a concentration camp.

RP: Right.

KN: But then there's a lot of people who went through the same thing. Yeah, in camp, we had a lot of funerals. Young kids, old folks... just of a short illness and they just go.

RP: And was that was pretty early that she passed away a short time after you got to Jerome?

KN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: So the medical facilities were pretty...

KN: Not very --

RP: Nonexistent.

KN: -- not very efficient, not very good. And then you have a stomach ache. You call for ambulance but you wait and wait and wait. They don't come. By the time she comes she stomach and she's holding like this [Bends over] It burst but then ambulance don't come 'til it's too late. Everything was like that in camp. You can't get any service. You just have to live through it. That's how it was in camp. But then what can you do? That was, that was wartime camp.

RP: Did that change later on? Did things get better and more efficient?

KN: Toward the end I suppose. But we weren't there long enough to find out.

RP: So you said that a lot of people came to the funeral.

KN: Yeah, from the camp. Everybody in the, in our, in our block. It was the first death in the camp and the first funeral so they thought it should be polite. So gee, all the young kids, they wore a suit and they all came to my sister's funeral.

RP: And these were all people from Florin or just all over?

KN: Not really, they were all in our block.

RP: What block were you in?

KN: Thirty-two I think it was. But everybody went through a lot. There's a lot of people who died in camp so you can't say anything. They weren't all old people either. Young people have acute appendicitis or something that you never think about outside. You don't get any medical help. And by the time you go to the hospital it's too late.

RP: And so your youngest sister, Nobuko, was also hospitalized too.

KN: But she was all right. She, she recovered.

RP: But she spent a long time in the hospital there?

KN: I think she did, huh? Yeah, she did.

Off Camera: She had lung problems and she, she had more medical problems than I realized.

KN: Yeah. She had all kinds of problems. Kidney problem.

Off Camera: She said Baachan used to sit outside her window.

KN: Yeah. Yeah, you don't get much medical help you know. In the camp you just, you just live through it and you die.

RP: Did your mom work in camp?

KN: No. She was too busy taking care of the sick in the family. She had to go to the hospital, bring them snack and all that so didn't work at all. My father worked but he worked in the, out in the forest chopping wood I think that's what he did. Everybody had to chop your own wood. We had a big potbelly stove and they, you had to put your own wood in and so everybody had to go out in the forest to thing. And my father was eighty years old but they expected him to go get our own wood so he went. Yeah, some experience in camp. You talk about it now and people, my kids think it's real funny but it wasn't at the time. We went through all that that you wouldn't think of it now. But then at that time it was one of those things that we had to go through. And this hakujin that worked, they never seen us before. They never seen a Japanese people. And then we worked for them and then they couldn't believe that we could do the things they think, they didn't know we could. I took dictation from them and I had to fix their English. They're terrible. But then they never had such an experience of a Japanese being secretaries.

RP: Right, so they didn't believe that you could do those kind of things.

KN: Yeah. I know, they wouldn't believe that I could do all that.

RP: Did you have, did you have a social life in camp? Did you go to dances?

KN: Yeah. That's about the only thing. And then they had movies. Some of those old, old movies that we'd never seen before. But once a week they showed on the recreation, rec hall, old movies. And I don't know where they get 'em but we never saw it anyways so we watched it. Yeah, we got movies every couple of weeks.

RP: And when you attended dances, were there bands in the camp?

KN: No. Regular record.

RP: Just records. And so what was your, what was your favorite music at that time?

KN: Oh, Glenn Miller, Kay Kyser, Tommy Dorsey, all those...

RP: Big Band.

KN: Yeah, Big Band of that era.

RP: And you were a good dancer?

KN: Yeah. From people from the block. We didn't care. We just went. You just, they'd pick any of us and then we'd dance with anybody who wants to dance with us.

RP: Do you remember there was usually a person that was designated as a block manager, in your block.

KN: Yeah, he was sort of voted block manager.

RP: Voted, right.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Do you remember the man who was your block manager?

KN: I can't even remember now. There were active people even from the outside in their social things, so we just designated them as block manager whether they wanted to or not.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: Some of the camps like Manzanar and Tule Lake had a lot of tensions and problems. Did you...

KN: No, I didn't know anybody that in... they went, all went to Tule Lake I think.

RP: Right. So one, one issue that came up was this "loyalty questionnaire."

KN: Oh yeah. We had to sign this paper. Do you... get the side of the Japan or United States... it's a weird wording that you didn't know how to answer. They just want to know if you're gonna go for the United States or Japan when.... 'cause some, some Issei men, they said they're gonna go home to Japan. A lot of 'em did. But all of us, we never been to Japan so we just stayed loyal to the United States. But it was a lousy worded questionnaire that we all had to sign.

RP: Uh-huh. Right, very confusing and...

KN: Yeah, a lot of 'em did go to Tule Lake to Japan. 'Cause they didn't want us to... they thought they'd been treated harshly being a citizen so they just voted no and then a lot of them did go to Tule Lake and had a hard time once they got to Tule Lake.

RP: There was a fair number of people from Jerome that went to Tule Lake.

KN: Yeah, uh-huh. And some of 'em they went to Tule Lake and wanted to go to Japan, wanted to go back to Japan. And there was an exchange ship that came and took them and I heard they thought they were gonna have a life over on in Japan. They went to Japan. They couldn't have anything to eat and they really suffered. They were so sorry that they went to Japan. They should have stayed in the United States, 'cause they didn't even have enough to eat. They have to dig stuff off the ground and then all the relatives didn't have anything to eat so they couldn't feed them either. So they had an awful time I heard. So they should have stuck, stayed here, not go to Japan through Tule Lake. But they thought they're gonna have a good life in Japan and took off on that Gripsholm, I think, exchange ship.

RP: Right.

KN: But then no, they didn't even have enough to eat I heard. And then all the relatives they thought they were gonna feed them, they didn't have anything to eat either. So they couldn't even support them. So, I heard they took stuff out of the ground and ate it. I heard they had an awful time.

RP: Right. So you were aware of some of the divisions that developed over this --

KN: Yeah, we heard about it.

RP: -- "loyalty questionnaire"?

KN: Yeah.

RP: And...

KN: We had, all of us, we had no intention of going to Japan so we just put loyalty here and we stayed here.

RP: And your father had no intentions either.

KN: No. He wasn't going anywhere where his family is not going anywhere.

RP: Once you have a family that size, you're stuck.

KN: Yeah. We all stayed.

RP: Now, your dad was an Issei.

KN: Yeah.

RP: And Issei were ineligible to become naturalized citizens.

KN: That's right.

RP: Until 1952 or '53.

KN: Yeah. But he was too old then.

RP: Do you think he would have become a citizen if he...

KN: No, I don't think so. He's eighty years old.

RP: No, earlier. If he, if he was allowed to become a citizen?

KN: I don't think so. He never talked about it.

RP: Oh, okay. Did you have any contact at all with the military police at Jerome? Any conversations or just...

KN: Just my brother who was in the army.

RP: Oh. How about the men that were guarding the camp in Jerome?

KN: No. They were all hakujin soldiers, and they weren't doing anything. They're just patrolling back and forth. They didn't do a damn thing. They had the easiest job I thought. Just take a rifle and they go back and forth and back and forth, didn't do a damn thing.

RP: You talked about the staff of the camp. And that they were, they didn't know very much early on. They were sort of inexperienced.

KN: Yeah, yeah, hakujin soldier. They found out a lot of stuff they didn't know anything about.

RP: Right.

KN: But then ones that we met, they were nice, nice people. They were mostly soldiers. But then they're mostly from Arkansas, Texas. You know, they have that accent. But they were nice, nice soldiers. They treated us good.

RP: How about the staff that you worked with?

KN: Yeah, they're all right. They weren't too friendly but then we worked for them.

RP: Was there anybody that stood out in your mind that, who you sort of struck up a friendship with or...

KN: No, they were real high up. They thought they were so much better than us. Of course they had no secretary so I have to take dictation from them and they were terrible letter writers. They never, they never had a secretary to take their, what they were saying. And they were saying just to go to... no sense at all. He'd just go back and forth, and back and I have to write it all.

RP: Did you or any other members of your family get into any arts or crafts or hobbies in camp?

KN: I don't know. My sister did some I think. But I'm not very good at those things. I never did anything.

RP: Wood carving or...

KN: No.

RP: Anything. No?

KN: But a lot of people did. Yeah, you could see their work on an exhibit and gee, they looked good. They'd carve birds and stuff and it looked good.

RP: How about your barrack room? Do you remember...

KN: There's nothing.

RP: Did it change over time? Did you get any furniture or...

KN: No.

RP: No?

KN: Whatever you need you have to make it. My father made those chairs with wood. He got it from the lumber yard and he made some chairs and stuff. We didn't have anything. Nothing in our, in our barrack. You just have to make it yourself if you wanted something.

RP: And he was a carpenter you said.

KN: Yeah, my father was a carpenter so he made some stuff and then all the neighborhood, they all bring some slats and want my father to make them chairs and table and stuff. He had a full time job 'cause... beside our own, the neighbors all wanted him to... bring some lumber and wanted him to make chairs and tables or whatever, 'cause we didn't get anything in camp.

RP: Any other vivid memories that you have about your experience at Jerome?

KN: No. I never talked to anybody. Nobody's interested. [Laughs]

<End Segment 19> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: When did you... now Jerome was the first camp to close in 1944.

KN: Oh. Was it the first one?

RP: Right.

KN: Yeah. All the others, they all closed too.

RP: Eventually, yeah.

KN: Yeah, Rohwer, Jerome, Arizona, couple Arizona, couple of them, there's one in Colorado, Idaho. And they all, one after another, all closed.

RP: Before Jerome closed, do you remember seeing soldiers, Japanese American soldiers coming into the camp to --

KN: No, I never saw them.

RP: -- to visit their families or.

KN: Yeah, some did. But then I never saw much of that. They must have come 'cause their family's in camp.

RP: Yeah, there was a group of Hawaiian --

KN: Yeah.

RP: -- Japanese Americans who were --

KN: There's Hawaiian.

RP: -- training...

KN: There's a lot of Hawaiian soldiers.

RP: Yeah, near Camp Shelby.

KN: Yeah, that's where they were.

RP: And they came in to Jerome.

KN: Yeah, they came to visit Jerome.

RP: They were pretty shocked to see what they saw.

KN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they were in Camp Shelby. Yeah, you mentioned it. That's where they were. They come to visit the camp. They wanted to see the Japanese. They came to visit us. And so on the thing we made some Japanese food so that... they missed the Japanese food so they made rice balls and all that. And like a USO so we fed them all the Japanese food they want, they had, they missed in camp. They come from Mississippi, Camp Shelby and they don't get Japanese food so when they came they're looking for Japanese food. We made some rice balls. [Laughs]

RP: And did you have a choice of where you went after Jerome closed? Did they say, "You can go to Amache or you can go to another camp?"

KN: No, I don't remember. 'Cause, I left 'cause my sister was already out. My older sister resettled in Brigham City so when camp closed we all ended up at my sister's place.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: But you did go to Amache for a few, few months?

KN: Yeah, just a couple a months. Amache, yeah.

RP: And what was that like?

KN: Just like any other camp. I didn't stay very long. I left to get married.

RP: So had you been corresponding with, with Tom --

KN: Yeah.

RP: -- during the time that you were in camp?

KN: Yeah, he was in Manzanar all the time and then he went on a work furlough to Idaho to beet topping. And then he and his brother and a friend went and they had to cook themselves. They couldn't wait to call me to come cook for them. And hurry, so his brother said hurry up and call Lois and we, we were sick of cooking rice. So that's how, that's how I went to Idaho to cook for them. Him and his brother and another friend. They cooked rice and kept burning the bottom.

RP: So you were their rice cooker.

KN: Yeah. So I'm the rice cooker.

RP: So Tom was out and then his brother Percy? And another friend.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Where in Idaho were they?

KN: Rupert.

RP: Rupert, Idaho. Uh-huh. And they were topping beets?

KN: Yeah, beet topping.

RP: Beet topping. Uh-huh.

KN: Well, they recruited people from camp to do the beet. Beet topping's hard work. And they couldn't get a hakujin to do that so they recruited guys from the camp. And they were itching to get out.

RP: So what was that experience like in Rupert for you?

KN: All I did was cook and wash dishes. We didn't go anyplace. I don't think I went any place. All I did was cook for them and wash their clothes on a... there's no washing machine. I had to cook on the washtub. Oh, they thought they had something good when they called for me. Could do all their dirty work. [Laughs]

RP: So, were they on a farm?

KN: Yeah, it was...

RP: So, the person who they were working for...

KN: Yeah, a rancher, some rancher had a bunch of sugar beet and potato and all the farm products. And they needed a worker so they hired my husband and those from camp to do their work.

RP: Right. So what type of facilities did you have to cook on there? Was it a wood burning stove?

KN: Just an old, old-fashioned stove that you had to light up every day. I think it was kerosene, kerosene stove.

RP: And where did you get the food from to cook?

KN: Oh, there was a store close by and then our, our people that let us stay in their house, she took us to the grocery store so that we can buy whatever we need.

RP: And what did you make for them? What was, what would...

KN: Mostly rice and some little vegetables with the meat together. We had to find soy sauce. We needed soy sauce to season the food. And we got by all right. We can't be too choosy. They're lucky that I'm there to cook rice.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: And how long were you there for?

KN: Gee, two, three years I think.

RP: Really?

KN: Yeah. And then some...

Off Camera: When did you leave for Brigham by? 1944. So you probably weren't there that long? 'Cause you went to Brigham from there.

KN: Yeah.

Off Camera: You got married in October of '44.

KN: Yeah. And then those guys, they went back to Manzanar.

Off Camera: They did.

KN: After, after they, after they worked for the sugar beet, they went back to Manzanar again. So there was no place for me to go so I...

RP: So you and Tom went to Brigham City?

KN: Yeah.

RP: And you got married there.

KN: Yeah. 'Cause my oldest sister was already there.

RP: Oh, right.

KN: Yeah.

RP: And...

KN: And her husband had a job in a cannery or something.

RP: Cannery. And what was your wedding like?

KN: Nothing. We just come, everybody, Justice of the Peace, Mormon Justice of the Peace, Mormon. Yeah. We only had two witnesses, the lady clerk that was in the office and my brother-in-law. And we got married in the Justice of the Peace courthouse.

RP: Did you have a honeymoon?

KN: No. Where would we go? We didn't go anyplace. We just went back to work.

RP: And so what did you do for work? Did you work at the cannery?

KN: Well, I was a secretary. I was a stenographer. I did all, I did the office, I was the office manager. I did all the timekeeper for a hundred employees and all the foremans and everybody else. Oh, the book work I did for thirty, thirty-five cents an hour. That was the going rate at the time. Thirty-five cents an hour. I work eight hours, ten hours from morning when I get up to when everybody left, about six o'clock at night. I was there at the office all day from morning 'til night.

RP: And that was for the cannery?

KN: Yeah.

Off Camera: Pringle?

RP: Pringle Cannery?

KN: Yeah, Pringle, R.D. Pringle and Company. There's a frozen food company but they started as a cannery.

RP: Ah. And were there a number of Japanese Americans employed by the cannery?

KN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They went to recruit in Amache camp and all the concentration camp and oh, the people were waiting to get a job and go outside so we had a lot of all Japanese people from the camp, we hired them.

RP: How many, would you say there was several hundred?

KN: No, not that many. About fifty.

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: All this wartime experience you go back on it and it makes you wonder. I did all that?

RP: Yeah. That's an amazing feat.

KN: Yeah.

RP: You're, you have a payroll of hundreds and...

KN: I know.

RP: Did you, did you have other...

KN: And I had to weigh the farmer's trucks. We had a big scale. I have to weigh them, fruit full of trucks and I have to weigh them empty. I did that all day.

RP: You did that too?

KN: I did that too.

RP: Wow. And so what did your new husband do?

KN: He worked for the company.

RP: And what did he do for them?

KN: Oh, he drove a truck. Most of the time.

RP: And where did you live?

KN: Oh, there was a little room right next to the office. There's nothing there. We lived there. We just put a bed there and we lived there and I had worked and lived in one room.

RP: Wow.

KN: Office was next in the office, and then next to the office was one room. That's where we lived, in one room and I worked, I did the office. I weighed all the trucks. And I took time, time for all the... we had young kids from the high school, summer vacation they come to work. I had to make the timesheet. I have to get their social security number, and I did everything. I had a cost accountant, how much sugar we used. I can't believe I did all that for fifty-five cents an hour.

RP: That was a really big operation.

KN: Yeah, it was.

RP: Let's see, and how were you... what was your interaction like with the Mormon community? What was their attitude towards Japanese Americans, and you in particular?

KN: Oh, they were nice. Yeah. They were nice. I mean, they went through a lot of stuff that we went through, you know, they discriminated the Mormons in Utah and they had it hard time too. So they understood what we went through so we got along fine.

RP: Were they, were they out to convert you?

KN: I don't know. They were, they were mostly nice people.

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: 'Cause a lot of 'em are fruit growers anyway. They have, I have to be nice 'cause I have to weigh their fruit and I have to weigh them full and I have to weigh them empty again.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: So, part of the family, both families actually ended up in, in Brigham City, the Nakashimas and the Yoshinagas.

KN: Yeah, 'cause the camp was closing. They had to go someplace and we the only one outside. So, so we had to take 'em all in. We had to find housing for them and then get them a job.

RP: Uh-huh. And eventually Roy came back from the service and...

KN: [Looks off camera] They came...

Off Camera: He was in the service a long time. He was in the service a long time.

KN: Yeah, my brother was in the service a long time, so...

RP: But he settled back in, in that area?

Off Camera: Yeah. He decides to settle in Ogden. He decides to stay. He doesn't come back to Florin.

KN: No, he stayed in Ogden. He worked for Hill Field. It was an Army/Air Force base that he got a job there.

RP: Your sister who passed away from tuberculosis, eventually wasn't her body, her body was shipped to...

KN: Yeah.

RP: Ogden?

KN: Ogden, uh-huh.

RP: And you had a funeral?

KN: Yeah, funeral in Ogden Buddhist Church. And then we cremated her. And I think we brought her ashes home. I think it's in Sacramento Memorial, I think we got her ashes, we brought her with us.

RP: Do you know roughly when she passed away?

Off Camera: It would have been around '47, I would guess.

KN: In the 1940s sometime.

Off Camera: It was after the war.

KN: Yeah.

Off Camera: She died after the war.

RP: Oh, she died after the war?

Off Camera: I think so. Because... maybe '46 or '47, judging by the picture. I can just tell by the ages of the kids but I, since I haven't...

Off Camera: It's '47, that's what, that's what it says on the urn.

Off Camera: Oh. Yeah, probably '47.

RP: So, had anybody in the family have a chance to visit her after the war ended and the camp, and you came out of camp? Did she have...

Off Camera: Just Roy, Just Roy. Roy visited her briefly I think. But, I don't think you ever got to visit her, right?

KN: I thought we did visit her, daytime at Weimar and she was sitting outside and we talked to her and we couldn't stay so we came right back. We visited her once but didn't.

RP: Oh okay.

Off Camera: She was a valedictorian wasn't she?

KN: Yeah, she was the smartest one in our family.

RP: Really.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Valedictorian of...

Off Camera: High school.

KN: Florin Grammar School

Off Camera: Grammar School.

KN: She...

RP: Oh, grammar school.

KN: Valedictorian and all through high school she was the smartest in the class. She had straight As. But what good is that when you get sick and die?

RP: So do you have any recollections of the funeral?

KN: Yeah, we had a funeral in Ogden. Yeah, we had, we had her body shipped to Ogden, cremated.

RP: Did anybody go with the body or just it was shipped...

KN: No.

RP: Nobody from the family?

KN: We just had a funeral at the Ogden Buddhist Church and we had her cremated and brought the ashes home.

RP: Uh-huh. Is that where the family was attending church?

Off Camera: No, it was because they didn't have a Buddhist Church in Brigham.

RP: Okay.

Off Camera: That was the closest one. That's my guess. The closest Buddhist church was Ogden.

RP: Were there was no Japanese stores or community in Brigham at all? Was there...

Off Camera: Just in that cannery.

RP: Just the cannery.

Off Camera: Just the cannery, right. Brigham was a small town. It was a very small town. So I'd imagine that...

RP: And was there, was the camp for the other workers nearby? Was it like a --

KN: No, I don't think so.

RP: -- company town where they provided housing for you?

KN: No. [Looks off camera] Did Pringle have a housing?

Off Camera: You know, I don't know, I don't know where everybody lived. I don't know.

KN: Yeah.

Off Camera: They must have lived nearby.

RP: Yeah.

KN: Yeah, in the back of the camp, plant I think there were some houses that the Suginos and them lived. You know, Lucy and them lived but then not actually housing. You had to find a place to live yourself.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: I wanted to introduce this gentleman, George Carlisle.

Off Camera: George comes to recruit Grandpa.

KN: Yeah. George Carlisle, the big land owner that Grandpa Nakashima worked for him for years. And he needed somebody to harvest his grapes so he came all the way to Ogden, Utah, to tell Grandpa to come home. Yeah. And then Uncle Percy had a ton and a half truck huh? So, the whole family put their belongings on that one and a half truck and they all came home to Florin.

Off Camera: You all didn't come back together though. Grandpa and Uncle Percy probably came first and you came later?

KN: Yeah, we came... little by little they all came back to Florin.

RP: And he made, George made two trips.

Off Camera: He made more than one trip didn't he?

KN: Yeah.

Off Camera: 'Cause he came and he brought a truck and...

KN: Last one the truck was, I ride in the front and I got car sick coming all the way.

Off Camera: You needed a truck to bring all your stuff. He made more than one trip.

KN: Yeah.

RP: So was, was Grandfather, Grandpa Nakashima, was he a little bit reluctant to come back to Florin?

KN: Yeah, 'cause George Carlisle come to tell him to come home 'cause he needed somebody to do his grape.

RP: Uh-huh. It sounds like the family got split up though. Eventually there were some members of the family that stayed in Utah and other...

Off Camera: Yeah. Roy, Nase, and Nobuko stayed in Utah. And the rest of you come back to Florin.

KN: Yeah, we all came back but three of our family stayed in Utah.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

RP: This is tape three of a continuing interview with Kimiko Nakashima. And...

KN: My middle name is Lois. L-O-I-S.

RP: Lois, that's right. We were just talking about the sort of division in the family between those who stayed in Utah and those who came back. Like you came back to Florin. Did you always want to come back home?

KN: Not particularly. But where else would I go if I don't come home? 'Cause all my relatives stayed in Utah. They bought a house and they had a family. All the kids are going to school there so they might as well stay there. But we had nothing so we might as well come home.

Off Camera: What year was that? Would it have been about '48?

KN: Something like that.

RP: So you'd work for the Pringle company for about three years?

KN: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: I was office manager for thirty-five cents an hour when I started.

RP: And so what was it like coming back to Florin?

KN: Well, I got a job. As long as you have a place to stay and have a job, that's the only place you can go.

RP: And you stayed with, with George Carlisle? Or where did you guys go, you and your husband?

KN: Oh, we, that place where we stayed. The people that owned went to Japan on an exchange ship so his house was vacant so we lived in there, Yaichi's house.

Off Camera: Where I was born.

RP: Oh. What was their name again?

KN: Yaichi Nakashima.

Off Camera: Yaichi Nakashima.

KN: Nakashima, Yaichi. He owned the house we stayed in 'cause he went to Japan on exchange ship and his house was vacant. So we moved right in there.

RP: Really, huh.

Off Camera: And that was next to Bill Sharp's.

KN: Yeah.

RP: Oh.

KN: And George, George Carlisle took care of their house.

Off Camera: Yeah, because Bill Sharp's wife is a Carlisle. Arlene Carlisle, George was her father. And so, Yaichi's house happened to be right next to them. Yaichi is a, was he a cousin of...

KN: Grandpa.

Off Camera: ... Grandpa. Okay. Kind of cousins. So he's kind of a distant relative. He decides to go to Japan instead of stay when the war broke out. So fortunately that left one vacant house.

RP: So you and Tom moved into the house? Was there anybody else with you or that was it?

Off Camera: Hanako lived in the back.

KN: Yeah, my sister lived in the --

RP: Your sister...

KN: -- back shack. There was shack in the back. My mother and my sister lived there.

Off Camera: So Hanako, her mother and father and us lived in, lived on that property.

RP: Really. How long?

Off Camera: Until about 1956 when, when we built the house she's presently in.

RP: And that was the house that George Carlisle built?

Off Camera: No. George Carlisle built my father's, father's house. My grandpa, Grandpa Nakashima's house, he built that house. George Carlisle built that house.

KN: Yeah.

RP: He built that when, when they returned?

Off Camera: Yeah.

RP: When your Grandfather returned?

Off Camera: Yes.

RP: And worked on the... he took his job back as a foreman?

Off Camera: Yeah.

RP: And is, is that what he did the rest of his life?

Off Camera: No, he farmed his own property eventually. So he didn't work for George Carlisle forever. Grandpa farmed his own acreage.

Off Camera: How old was he?

Off Camera: My grandpa?

Off Camera: Yeah, at that time.

Off Camera: Oh, let's see, he probably would have been... probably would have been in his sixties.

KN: Sixty or near seventy.

RP: Okay.


RP: You talked about how when you left Florin, that the Caucasian community was less than supportive. They were, they came and picked your strawberries and watched you leave.

KN: Oh yeah, oh, the hakujin came and helped themselves to strawberries.

RP: Right.

KN: They came in droves. They came with all kind of bucket, package, whatever. They know we're to the camp the next day. They knew that.

RP: Right.

KN: So they would trample all over my strawberry field. We had eight acres of strawberry.

RP: So what was it like when you came back to Florin? What type of reception did you get from the Caucasian community?

KN: We didn't, we didn't see anybody. Just Arlene Carlisle, just the Carlisles, my childhood friend that lived next door.

RP: So there was nobody that came and welcomed you back.

KN: No. 'Cause nobody was back yet. 'Cause we were the early ones, 'cause a lot of people are still somewhere else. Some people found places to live out of state. So they never, a lot of them didn't come back to Florin.

RP: Uh-huh. Right. And so Nobuko didn't return. And she ended up going to...

Off Camera: Lived in Roy, Utah.

RP: Roy, Utah, and she went to Weaver State and collected two PhDs. And why do you think she never came back with you?

Off Camera: Because her husband is a Utah guy. He would never come to Florin. He's a... his family was, he was on the farm his father had. He's one of the biggest farmers in Roy. He would never have gone to Florin. That's why. So she was, she was gonna spend the rest of her life in Roy and I think for the most part she enjoyed it.

RP: And she, her husband was Japanese American?

Off Camera: Uh-huh. And of course being in Utah they were never interned.

RP: Right.

Off Camera: No one in Utah... his family had a big ranch.

RP: And they were pretty well established for quite a while.

Off Camera: Yeah, yeah. For a Japanese American farmer he was very well established they said, the family, which she married into so he would never have given up that life. He was a farmer 'til the day he died.

RP: And also Norma stayed in Utah too.

Off Camera: Yeah. They settled in Ogden. Had a grocery store in Ogden and lived the rest of her life in Utah with her family. And so all her kids raised families in Utah. All of my cousins, they're all in, most of them are still there.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RP: And did you go, did you find work pretty soon after you came back?

KN: Yeah. I took a state test. After I came back to California I went to work for Department of Motor Vehicles.

RP: You got your old job back?

KN: Not exactly. And after that I worked for a driver's license department until I quit. I mean, at least I had a job.

RP: How long did you work for them?

KN: I don't know, a few years. I think all together about five years I worked for motor vehicles and then driver's license bureau I think.

RP: Was there any effort made to... you were laid off from your job before, just after the war started.

KN: No, I quit. 'Cause I knew we were gonna go to camp so I didn't get fired, I just quit.

RP: You quit. Okay. 'Cause some, some state employees were fired.

KN: Oh yeah.

RP: And later on...

KN: Were laid off. They were laid off 'cause you know --

RP: Right.

KN: -- we have to go to camp.

RP: I think there was an effort later on to receive some type of compensation for that.

KN: I don't know.

RP: For that... you never got any compensation.

KN: They never, they never gave us anything.

RP: Uh-huh.

KN: 'Cause we just voluntarily quit and went into camp.

RP: Okay. All right. And how, how has the Florin community changed over, since the time that you were there growing up? And what is it like now? Are there still farmers out there? Any Japanese Americans?

KN: I don't know. After we went into camp they got, the place just got lost I guess. There was no Japanese in Florin. And we all had to go to camp so I don't know. Maybe the hakujin took over that, I don't know, 'cause we weren't here then.

Off Camera: I think a remarkable number of people did come back. But of course the makeup of the town would never be the same. But a lot of people came back to the areas where they grew up but they all didn't come back at the same time. But they were still, they're still a lot of people who came back to restart their lives. But not, it would never be the same. Because it was probably twenty-five-hundred people, five hundred families. It would never be that again, but there were probably two-thirds of the community were Japanese American. But it would never be that again. But a surprising number of people did come back to Florin, and restart their lives. Because I grew up with their families. They all managed to come back. They all have camp experiences but they did come back to the area.

RP: Okay.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

RP: In the 1980s there was an effort launched by Japanese Americans and other people to press the government for an apology and a reparations payment for the camp experience.

KN: I don't think so.

Off Camera: Yeah, you did. Yes you did. You got the check. Yes, you got a check. That's right. That did happen, Mom. You got a check.

KN: Oh, I don't remember. They remember more than I do.

Off Camera: I think it was twenty-thousand dollars, right?

RP: How do you forget a twenty-thousand dollar check?

KN: Yeah, that's a mystery. [Laughs]

Off Camera: It did happen. She remembers what happened in the '40s. She doesn't remember the '80s.

RP: That's a little too far back.

Off Camera: You got to stay with the '40s.

RP: Okay. Well, did, do you, do you remember getting an apology?

KN: No. Did we? [Looks off camera]

Off Camera: You got a letter, yeah.

RP: A letter from the president.

Off Camera: Wasn't it Reagan's letter?

RP: Saying that...

Off Camera: I think it was, the check was signed by George Bush. But the apology was Ronald Reagan.

KN: Oh Reagan, I don't know remember.

RP: Right. And the President said that the United States had made a grave mistake in removing Japanese Americans and putting them in, what you refer to as concentration camps.

KN: Yeah. That happened you know, huh?

RP: It did. It happened to you.

KN: It did happen, yeah.

RP: So, how did you, how would you feel about that, getting an apology?

Is that...

KN: I was glad to get the money. But I thought, finally, they realized what they did. So I was happy to hear that.

RP: Yeah, you lost a sister in Jerome and...

KN: I didn't even know where Jerome was until we went there. And good heavens, what is this? And camp was right in the middle of the forest. They chopped the trees down and built a camp there.

RP: It was a pretty humid place too.

KN: Yeah. And then, in the camp, everybody had to raise the food and they, the ground was so good, lettuce and cabbage, all those vegetables were beautiful. The Japanese were good farmers anyway. So they grew everything that we needed in camp. We didn't have to buy any vegetables. They grew in the, in the camp, in the back.

RP: Kimiko, did you, did you ever share your camp experience, your story, with your sons? Did you tell them about what had happened to you?

KN: Yeah. They know bits and pieces. Not all of it maybe but...

RP: And have you returned to Jerome?

KN: No, I never...

RP: On a reunion or...

KN: No. I wonder what does it look like, huh? Is it still there?

RP: Well, it's, yeah, it's not, not much of the camp's left. But there are some remnants there.

KN: Oh really.

RP: Mostly, mostly under farmland.

KN: Oh really?

RP: Yeah.

KN: That was just out of nowhere seems like. Just like a jungle. They had some trees in the back, about it.

RP: So when you look at your life and look back on your life, how does the camp experience fit into your life?

KN: I had a good time in camp. We went to dances, movies, there was nothing else. And I worked in the office. So I was a stenographer in camp. I took dictation of all this hakujin bosses and they were terrible. They didn't know how to dictate a letter so I have to fix it.

RP: I think that's... do you have any other questions? Is there anything we've missed?

Off Camera: I don't think so. I don't think so.

RP: Is there any other stories that I forgot to ask you about?

KN: No. You covered it all.

RP: I did?

KN: I think you did.

RP: Okay.

KN: It's amazing how you figured out what to write down.

RP: Well, thank you so much.

KN: Oh, thank you, thank you for talking to me.

RP: It's been a great interview. And on behalf of Kirk and myself and the National Park Service, we really appreciate your sharing your special stories.

KN: Oh, you're welcome. You're welcome.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.