Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Madelon Arai Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Madelon Arai Yamamoto
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Independence, California
Date: May 6, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-ymadelon-01-0012

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RP: Let's see, I had a question here. Did other internees tend to walk between barracks on their way to other places, or were the areas in front of the doors more like a private courtyard for people who lived in the barracks?

MY: When we went walking, I remember we, I mean, I always walked along the paved streets 'cause that was easier to walk. [Laughs] And I never thought about that. I know that we were supposed to eat our, at our own, quote, mess hall. You weren't supposed to go to a neighboring block's mess hall, even though supposedly they had better food, better chefs or whatever. We were supposed to walk home to our own home base. No, that was never emphasized by my parents, and just by choice I just went along the streets. It was easier. Your shoes were cleaner.

RP: Did you, how often did you eat in the mess hall? Other than the times that you would have a rabbit dinner, did you also eat in your room just regular meals? You mentioned that when your brothers were sick you would bring food back to them.

MY: Yes, yes, you were allowed to do that.

RP: But did you regularly eat in your own room?

MY: No, it was much easier to eat at the mess hall because we didn't have a lot of dishes, and it was just easier. And also to be practical, if you did have a hot plate, by the time you came home with everything, if you had hot food it would be cold by the time you got back, walking back. And no, unless I was very, very, very sick, off to the mess hall we would go and line up. The hard part was lining up.

RP: And did your family eat usually together, as a group?

MY: Oh yes, we had our own special table, and my father said that we were to eat at that table as a family unit no matter what. And so there was one table -- and most families within the barrack, within the block, usually found one that was convenient for them or whatever -- and I always sat with my own family. I didn't sit with any other family. And that was just a rule that they established. And even during school days, I had -- my classes when I was in junior high school, I was Block 7 -- I had to walk all the way back home to block thirty-three to eat and then come running back to school.

RP: School was in Block 30 -- no, in...

MY: No, Block 7.

RP: Block 7, okay.

MY: Block 7 was the school.

RP: You had to go to your mess hall.

MY: Went back to my mess hall.

RP: So you did a lot of walking.

MY: Oh yes, did a lot of walking, and it was not by choice. [Laughs]

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