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

[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. This morning we're talking with Madelon Yamamoto, and our interview is taking place in the West Theater of the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center. The date of the interview is May 6, 2011. The interviewer is Richard Potashin, and the videographer is Kirk Peterson. Also in attendance for our interview is Madelon's niece, Kelly.

KY: Yuki.

RP: Kelly Yuki. And our interview will be archived in the Park's library, and we'll be following up on an earlier interview that was conducted with Madelon by Erin Brasfield September 12, 2006. Madelon, do I have permission to go ahead and record our interview?

MY: Certainly.

RP: Thank you so much for taking time. I know it's really special for you to be back here and be involved with your father's garden and the excavation of that. So again, we just want to kind of elaborate on some of the stories that you shared with us earlier and to draw out a few more details of those. So first of all, I'd like to ask you about your father. Can you give us his name, full name?

MY: His name was Jack Hanshiro Arai, and he left, I'm sure it was, I'm not sure if it was Osaka or Tokyo, but when he was only fifteen years old. And he sailed across the ocean and didn't land on the West Coast of the United States, ended in Port Arthur, Texas. His older brother had gone to Texas ahead of him and was a rice farmer. So it's very brave at fifteen to cross the ocean by himself, no other relative or friend to come with him, and he landed in Port Arthur and he found my brother, his brother, and started living in Texas. But he was bilingual, bi-literate. He went to an English school in Osaka and so he spoke English fluently, was able to write and read also in Japanese, so he had that advantage.

RP: Great tool to have going to America, speaking the language.

MY: Yes. He was a farmer there for a short while, and then he left Texas with his older brother and settled in Los Angeles. I don't know what year, but I do have a few old pictures where he's leading some horses on a farm, so I know he was on a farm in Texas.

RP: And you, his older brother, do you know how much earlier he had come over and settled in Texas?

MY: No, and his only son passed away about ten years ago and he never spoke about when his father had arrived here in the United States.

RP: What was his older brother's name?

MY: Kakunosuke Arai.

RP: And did, your father coming over at age fifteen, you know what his reasoning for coming to America was, other than to join his brother?

MY: Well, I think that he felt that there are better economic opportunities here in the United States than remaining in Japan. I don't believe his father was a farmer, so I don't think there was land or anything for him there. He just felt it necessary to leave, and having the language skills, I think that was an advantage for him. And he didn't have any other ties, he had, his mother was still back there and his brother, older, just, I don't know his name, was also in Japan, in Tokyo. I don't think he corresponded much with his brother. His older brother, Mr., we called him Mr. Arai, he's the one that carried on with all the correspondence with his mother and his other brother in Japan.

RP: Did he, he actually married your mother, who was actually Nisei.

MY: Yes, she was born in Riverside, California. They got married in 1930, October 1930.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: And how did they meet?

MY: My father was in wholesale produce and they were, at the wholesale produce market downtown, they would sell to other smaller markets, restaurants, hotels, whatever, and he was a salesman for a company. I believe it was called the Highland Produce Company. And my grandmother had a restaurant right at First and San Pedro in Los Angeles, and I'm sure a lot of the young bachelors would go to the restaurant to eat and maybe that's where she found my father for her daughter. [Laughs] But it's just that it was a very small community, and I think socially a lot of the Japanese just met through living closely together, and I don't know if they went to the same Buddhist temple. That, I don't know. But I do know that she was one of eight children, and there're five girls and three boys. And Auntie Vera, let me see -- no, she didn't -- but my mother, and then Auntie Dorothy was the younger sister, and Auntie Sue, the youngest sister. Vera and, no, Dorothy and Sue both married men from the wholesale produce market, so it must've been just a real tight knit group there. And so I just never asked questions and they didn't elaborate as to how they met.

RP: And so your mom's parents end up coming over here.

MY: My grandmother and grandfather came over here late 1990s, because my mother was born, I believe, 1907 or '08. Auntie Helen and Auntie Vera were born before her, so maybe my grandmother came over when she, the early 1900s, maybe 1901, 1902. And she came over with just one son and her husband, and then she had eight more children, but in the meantime, the oldest child that she had, that she brought to California with her, died during the flu epidemic. Yes, and so, and then my grandfather died, I can't remember when, but after Uncle Toshi was born, and she was left a widow with eight children. And she was able to carry on running a restaurant and being a mother, a restaurant owner, all by herself. And she said with pride she didn't have to rely on any charity. And there was no social security at that time, but they were able to survive.

RP: What do you most remember about your dad? He was quite an amazing guy.

MY: Well, that he was in wholesale produce business, so we had to be very quiet in the afternoon because he would go to work about twelve, one o'clock in the morning and come home fairly early, while we were still in school. He would always have to take an afternoon nap, and then he would go to bed about eight o'clock and then get up, say, about one o'clock to go to work. While at home we always had a beautiful garden. He raised, we had a fig tree, two fig trees, white figs and the regular figs, the kodo -- no, it's a mission fig. And also we had a loquat tree, but also a beautiful garden with beautiful chrysanthemums and all kinds of Japanese vegetables. We didn't have a koi pond at that time, but we had lots of Japanese vegetables as part of our garden, and it was just a part of his, maybe, relaxation or what he did as a youngster in Japan. I don't know. But we used to help him.

RP: What type of Japanese vegetables?

MY: Nasubi, like eggplant, and cucumbers, daikon, which is like a Japanese radish, green onions -- he loved his green onions -- and that's all that I remember. And I remember the chrysanthemums because they were such showy, big chrysanthemums. He would pinch them back so there would be only one bud so you get a huge chrysanthemum. And we used to cut some of the most beautiful ones to take it my grandmother. She didn't live very far from us. And so that's what I remember about my father, about the time that he spent at that house. But every year we would go to see the wildflowers. He loved to see the California wildflowers. And we'd have to pack up a lunch and everything, and I got so tired of seeing the yellow poppy fields and the lupines, and I would much rather have been going out to the beach, but my father wanted to see the wildflowers. [Laughs] And I think we used to come up towards the Lancaster area, but whenever we went to see the wildflowers, I mean, just the whole hillside would be covered with flowers. And then what else do I remember about him? Many of our, my memories are just family centered. Since my mother was from a family of eight, we always went to Obaachan, to my grandmother's home, and every single weekend I got to play with at least ten to fifteen of my cousins at my grandmother's home. And we'd all get in the car and go down to see my grandmother, which is right on the fringe of Japanese Town in Los Angeles.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Speaking of Japanese Town, Little Tokyo, what are some of your memories of that area during the time you were growing up?

MY: We're walking distance, my grandmother's house was just two blocks from First Street. She lived near First and Alameda, so I'd go down Alameda, turn right, and go down one block, and there's the big Japanese Buddhist temple, go down another block and then go into a parking lot, that's where we would practice the ondo, the Japanese Nisei Week dancing, street dancing that we did in the street. We would practice there June and July. We would go to the Japanese movies there, and you think about the old, not the old but the horrible movies that are being shown to our youngsters now, we used to see the most gory samurai movies. [Laughs] And it was just a matter of fact. I mean, when they showed up in downtown we'd go see them, and we thought nothing of them. And now I think, "Oh heavens, I would never let my children or grandchild watch something like that." But those were the Japanese movies, but I saw many Japanese movies in Little Tokyo. Even though I didn't understand too much, the pictures were the most important things to us. We saw the beautiful kimonos, even though it was in black and white. I liked to see those movies. And what else did we do down there? There were just lots of homey places. I mean, the Asahi shoe store, I used to go to that store all the time. It was just like a holiday ritual, before school we'd go to get our school shoes, holiday shoes or whatever. But our life was pretty much centered in Little Tokyo for food and for the church, the Buddhist temple, and it was just a gathering spot and it was very homey. From my grandmother's house we didn't even ride a bike, we just walked down Alameda and First Street. We'd be given a dime or a nickel, and that would last us the whole afternoon, and we'd be back by four or five o'clock in the afternoon. So Little Tokyo was like a little miniature playground for us on weekends.

RP: You said that you would practice ondo dancing in the parking lot.

MY: Yes.

RP: Now, when did you first begin dancing?

MY: I think when I was about like five, six years old. I did it for about three or four years, 'cause we left when I was nine. And I still have the getas that I used. I have the obi that they wrapped around me, and I have the kimono that my grandmother would dress me in, for the ondo. I have all of those things.

RP: What was it like to be in the, were you in the actual parade, Nisei Week?

MY: Yes, yes. The P Car line used to go on the tracks in the middle of the street, but they knew when we were having the ondo out in the street, 'cause we would go down First Street, Central, and come down Second Street, and then I think we came down, then we went down San Pedro. What's the, like a big rectangle? The streetcar conductors knew when we were dancing. They would just stop and let us pass by, and then once we had come by they would go down. [Laughs] It was just nothing formal, but they just knew that we were dancing out in the street so not to knock us down. And the passengers on the streetcars were just very, very happy to see all of us dancing and see us up so close. And we did it, usually it was like a Friday, Saturday and a Sunday. Maybe we did three nights.

RP: Now, how did that feel for you as a...

MY: It was fun for me. I got to meet new friends, and I loved dressing up -- as my niece can tell you, I love to dress up -- and I loved getting makeup with the okeshoda. Got to wear lipstick, and so it was a time to appear a little bit more grown up.

RP: You lived in the Boyle Heights area, nearby.

MY: Yes, on Floral Drive. I went to Hammel Street School, elementary school.

RP: Many folks who grew up there always have very fond memories of that being a very sort of diverse community.

MY: Yes.

RP: A number of different ethnic groups. What are some of your memories about that community?

MY: Well, I went to school with many children that spoke Spanish, but it -- and Caucasian children -- and we just blended in. I used to eat as many tamales as I did eat sushi and rice. [Laughs] And it was, Hammel Street School was a very small elementary school and we just got to know each other, and it was a very friendly, what I would consider bedroom community. It wasn't, there weren't too many commercial stores close to us. There was a First Street Store; I think that was about five or six blocks from us. And then about three blocks from Floral Drive was a turnaround. The P Car would end up there and they would turn around and go back downtown, and we would have to walk to that. That was about three weeks, I mean three blocks. And that was our mode of transportation. We had a car, but my father used it go to work and back, and whenever we wanted to go to movies or to go see my grandmother, we'd get on the P Car and just walk a block to my grandmother's house. And getting on the P Car -- remember those little tokens? -- it was just a way of life.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: You talked about, in the previous interview, about how you heard about Pearl Harbor and the attack.

MY: I don't know if I told, I was playing with my cousins because my mother and father went to a football game at Gilmore Stadium, which no longer exists. I think the Hollywood Bears and the... I can't remember. But my father was a terrific football fan, and so my two younger brothers and I, we went up two blocks to my aunt and uncle's home. They had a grocery store on Folsom, and we were playing, and then I can't, believe it's my cousin or my uncle came and said -- it was in the afternoon, Sunday afternoon, December 7th -- "Japan dropped a bomb in Pearl Harbor. There's a war." And we were playing house, we were playing like a little tea party, so we said, "Okay, so what's, what do we do next?" We just continued playing. And then my mother and father came to pick us up quite early, and we said, "The football game's over?" Because usually they came to pick us up around dinnertime. And my father told me that they were at the football game and they announced that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and they, they said, "Oh, so Pearl Harbor was bombed," they just continued playing the game. But when the announcer said all police officers and fire department employees were to report back to their stations immediately, not even to go home, then my father thought, "Uh-oh, maybe we should leave too." And so that's when they came to pick us up. And then the very next day, Monday, I don't know if we went to, I can't remember if we went to school or not, but after that life really changed. I couldn't go anywhere by myself or just with my brother, until things settled down. And then once things had settled down, we went to school together, to elementary school, but we weren't as free, shall we say, to go to many different places. We played, stayed pretty much close to home. And the thing that affected me the most was when my uncle was taken away by the FBI agents. They just came and took him.

RP: How did that affect you?

MY: Initially it didn't affect me too much because I suppose I had trust in adults. You know, this is just what I thought internally, I didn't even ask my mother and father, "Well, if the police officers came, maybe there was something wrong with the school." 'Cause he was on the board of education, I believe, for a Japanese language school. I think it was for Chuo Gakuen. And then when I saw my aunt just break down, I mean, she was just hysterical, and I said, "Well, maybe it is very serious." And then day by day I realized how serious it was when he didn't return. I thought he was gonna return just after a day or two, and then when I found out more, that he wasn't even allowed to get his jacket or shoes, he had to go with his slippers on -- 'cause it was about eight, I think, or nine o'clock at night and they just took him. And she didn't even know where he was for a while, and then after a while we found out, I think he was at Terminal Island. They didn't talk much about it, and if they did speak about it, I wasn't allowed to be a part of it.

RP: But you were very curious and affected by it.

MY: Oh yes, yes. Because he was, quote, my "favorite uncle." He was so kind to all of us, always played games with us and always had some sort of special treat to eat. [Laughs] And he had a beautiful fish pond in the backyard, and we always went to feed the goldfish back there. And he was just a special uncle.

RP: And where did he live?

MY: He lived on Fourth Street, Fourth and Evergreen. 2944 East Third Street, right across the street from Evergreen Playground, not too far from the Evergreen Cemetery. And then there was, I think, a church close by, not in the... then the Buddhist temple was on, there was one, I think, on First and Mott, and then the Japanese language school is on Mott Street too, I remember. And I was able to walk to all of those places. But that's where my uncle lived.

RP: And did he build that koi pond?

MY: I don't know if my father, I mean my uncle, built that koi pond. I just knew that it was always there, a fish pond.

RP: Is that the first pond that you remember seeing as a kid?

MY: Yes. That's the first. My father never built a fish pond on Floral Drive.

RP: And you spoke about the, just the displeasure of seeing your favorite uncle go away. Was it a period of, sort of a time of frightfulness for you as a kid?

MY: Not, I don't think I was so much frightened. I still had trust in adults. And then after a month or two I think that they did find out that, maybe that he was in Terminal Island, but I do know that he was sent to Santa Fe, New Mexico. And so by the time we were to be evacuated from Los Angeles they knew where he was. And they all, my father also knew that because of where my uncle lived geographically, that his sister-in-law and his nephew would be sent to Manzanar, and so that's when my father decided that he wanted to go to Manzanar too to support his sister-in-law and his nephew. And we were sent to camps based upon the geographic area where you lived. Certain people in certain parts of Los Angeles would go to this camp, certain part, I don't know. But anyway, all I know is my father said we had to go to Manzanar, and then where we lived we were supposed to go to another camp, and so he had to find an address close, or within the area where his brother lived. And when he went to register he drove around and then he found there was one address that he knew no other Japanese family would use, and it was a fire station. And so he used the address of a fire station as his place of residence so that he would be directed to go to Manzanar.

RP: That's brilliant.

MY: Yes. [Laughs] I mean, he was determined to help his sister-in-law and nephew, and he wasn't going to rely on others that were, that had authority to make that switch. He was gonna make the switch at the very beginning so that they would just send him to Manzanar.

RP: Right.

MY: But it was an unhappy time for me because all my aunts, uncles, my grandmother, they, geographically maybe, found all addresses where they could go together. They all went to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, so I had to say goodbye to all of them. That was very sad.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Now, you said that after Pearl Harbor your father's, because of restrictions perhaps, traveling restrictions or curfews, that your father was unable to continue his job with the produce business.

MY: Yes, because it was owned by an alien, and they were not allowed to conduct or have businesses. And so the produce company was closed, or either, I don't know if my father, maybe the whole... I don't know how it worked, but all I know is he and my mother discussing it and he didn't have a job, no income coming in, and so he decided he would have another small produce company, maybe he had enough money to do that. So, but it had to be in the name of a citizen. It couldn't be in his name because he was an alien, and so my mother, having been born in Riverside, that would be alright. But couldn't find her birth certificate; I don't even know if she ever had one at that time she was born in Riverside. And so they had to get a birth certificate. Now, I heard all of this, they were discussing it. And so they had to go to Riverside and wherever you go to get your birth certificate, and she had to attest that she, yes, was born there, and she brought a witness along, and her witness was a sister. And so she got her birth certificate and came back. And I wanted to know who went with her and it was Auntie Dorothy, and Auntie Dorothy's her younger sister, and right away I chimed in, "Well, Auntie Dorothy wasn't there when you were born 'cause she's younger than you." They just looked me and just said, didn't say anything, so I knew that I was not supposed to question that. And so he used that birth certificate to open up a business in my mother's name, and he sold asparagus.

RP: He sold asparagus?

MY: Uh-huh.

RP: And who was his most popular customer?

MY: The United States Army. They bought all of his produce, the asparagus. That was his best customer. That's really ironic.

RP: So he was kind of, he was sort of a middle man that you would purchase asparagus and, and then retail it.

MY: Yes. But another reason why I think he was able to conduct business, because he was bilingual and bi-literate. A lot of the produce companies had owners, perhaps, who were very limited in their ability to speak English, and maybe, I don't know, but my father was able to conduct that business and he thought it was very ironic. And he was making just as much money as before the war had started. [Laughs] But towards the end he had to give it up because we had to sell the house, and the house was in my mother's name, and then sell the car and all of our furniture, and pack up what little furniture that we had and put it in storage 'cause we couldn't take it with us.

RP: Now, roughly how much time do you recall having to do all that?

MY: Maybe a month. I remember going to school and telling my teacher that I was leaving, and I remember giving her a gift, a Japanese doll. And she didn't want to accept it, and I just looked at her, "I don't want to give it to you either, but I have no place to keep it." [Laughs] "I like the doll too, but I want you to have it. I don't want to just throw it away." Because if I didn't give it to someone that I cared about, it was literally going to be thrown away because there was very limited amount of storage space that my father had in my uncle's garage. And a doll was not considered important at that time. We stored, I think dishes, some pots and pans, and no furniture. We sold most of our furniture. I think my, the daybed that we made into our beds for my brother and myself, I think we sold that for seventy-five cents. I remember that I was very unhappy about that. But the people that bought it said, "Well, we'll let you lose it, use it until the day you leave." So the day we left they came to pick it up. [Laughs] And my father sold his car.

RP: Was it a new car?

MY: Fairly new. It was a Dodge, gray Dodge.

RP: Do you know who he sold it to?

MY: No, I don't.

RP: How about the house? You said you sold the house.

MY: They sold it, and I know that after the war I went to the Hall of Records and I researched, they allowed just anyone that had a reason to go down there, to ascertain that we did own the house before the war, because at one time we had to prove that we owned property because I think my father got some money back for it, 'cause he had, it was a distress sale.

RP: Right. It was a, it was an effort to partially compensate.

MY: Yeah, I think they got less than a thousand dollars for the house, the furniture, just everything.

RP: So you did put in a claim for...

MY: Yes, he did. I helped him do that. Yeah, went down... their, and their, had the address and that we had been the owners, my mother was the owner, had been the owner. Because all of the papers like that, my father didn't keep or maybe it got lost.

RP: You talked about your uncle being picked up by the FBI and interned in Santa Fe. Were there any visits from the FBI to question your father?

MY: Not that I'm aware of. They were just interested in my uncle. 'Cause if they came to our house... I don't think they came to our house. They were just interested in my uncle, and once they took him they didn't return back, not that I'm aware of.

RP: Did your father have any community ties in terms of organizations?

MY: No, no. They left him alone.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Now you, once you got to Manzanar you were assigned to Block 33?

MY: Uh-huh. But when we got there we were just a big, in a big community, like, hall just, almost like this. It was a big, big, big assembly room and we just went in and almost, like, squatted and found a little area. We had our little suitcases. We each had our own suitcase, and my mother was carrying Kenji. He was just, he was a year, no, he was just a little over two years old, and so she was carrying him. And Aki, my brother just below me, he had his suitcase and I had mine, and so we had, like, a little area and then the men were directed to go to a certain area to get the mattresses. They had, like, canvas bags and you stuffed it with hay, literal hay. [Laughs] And my father brought back five of them, and we slept on that the first night.

RP: What was that like, sleeping on those mattresses?

MY: Dusty, but it was fun for me and my brother. We'd jump on it, up and down. Then my mother would yell at us to stop because the dust would come up, and she wanted to protect Kenji 'cause he was only two years old. And we were all very exhausted, so we really fell fast asleep. But before that we had to find out where the bathrooms were, and then the soldier said, "What do you mean bathrooms?" They said, "Oh, you're looking for the latrines." And they would point. [Laughs] I said, "What's that?" He said, "For the men, and that for the women." So my brother had to go into the latrine, the women's 'cause I was not going to go to the men's latrine and wait outside there. I said, "We'll just go ahead and use this one." And I had to show him how to go in there, and we saw just all the toilet bowls and the communal sink, and they did work, lots of cold ice water, mountain water. And so that was our introduction to Manzanar. Then the next morning, I don't even remember if we went to a mess hall for our evening meal, if we got boxed lunches, but the next day I think they took us to the barracks. 'Cause we got, we arrived here very late. We were here, got here about four or five in the afternoon, and then I know about two or three hours later the sun had gone down and it was dark. It was very, very dark. They didn't have all the lights up, and so to find the bathroom was quite a challenge. And no water was available. If we wanted water we had to go the latrines, the spigot thing, and I think we just had to cup our hands 'cause I don't think my mother packed any cups, to get water to drink. But it was a rough beginning, but it was easy for the children, I mean for me it was easy. Didn't have to brush my teeth, didn't have to change into my pajamas. I just wore the clothes that I wore on the train and went to sleep. And we had real scratchy, scratchy army blankets. They were just horrible. Didn't have to, we didn't have any sheets. They hadn't arrived yet. So that's how we slept.

KP: Was that first night on the floor or on cots?

MY: The floor?

RP: Did you sleep on the floor originally?

MY: Yeah, on the floor, the mattress was right on the floor, and then we'd bounce onto the mattress. I mean, it was still pretty hard.

RP: And then eventually cots did show up?

MY: Yeah, I think so. I don't remember that. I remember just very, I remember sleeping on the floor in the communal meeting place. And then when we got to the barracks, the barracks had no linoleum, lots of knotholes, and we would punch them out and then my mother and father became angry because, well, snakes can come up, scorpions, and so we're trying to find those little holes and things, put 'em back in there. They'd fall out. [Laughs]

RP: So did it come true? Did you ever see snakes or scorpions?

MY: No, no, no. Because Block 33 was on such an incline, when you, the steps going up, it was about four feet above the ground, and because we used to store the wagon that held the diesel oil underneath our barrack.

RP: The, you used the oil for the heating?

MY: Diesel, the heating. That was my brother's job. We had, like, four one gallon glass containers, and he'd have to go get the oil at the end of the block, beyond the wash house.

RP: The tank, from the tank?

MY: Yeah, the tank. That was his job. My job was to help with the laundry.

RP: And describe to us, what do you, the laundry room itself, what do you recall?

MY: The laundry room was just a big, like a cement room, and had, like, cement, gray cement washtubs, one for, to scrub your clothes, you had your washboard, and then another tub for your, to rinse it. And they were all along the walls. That's all I remember, but I remember having to help my mother, especially to wring the towels out. The, and the sheets, washing the sheets was a real chore, by hand on the scrub boards. And then we'd have to take it back; we had a wagon. We would take the laundry up in two big buckets, dry, going uphill on the wagon, that was easy. But once you had laundered all of your clothing, to put 'em into the bucket and bring 'em back down, carrying wet laundry is no picnic. Then we'd have to come down the hill because it was a hillside, then hang it up behind our barracks. We had laundry lines behind the barracks.

RP: Behind the barracks or between the barracks?

MY: Well, when I say behind, backside, it's really between the barracks. Yeah, and wintertime you'd hang them up, and what you hung up at one end, by the time you finished at this end, would be frozen stiff because it was so cold. And the wintertime, for my younger brothers, we'd bring, we had, like, a wooden pole, so we'd hang them up near the stove to dry off the diapers and also their nightgowns and everything.

RP: Inside the barrack.

MY: Inside the barrack. Yeah, 'cause we had one corner that we kept open just to hang our laundry. But it served a purpose of adding moisture to the air, 'cause you had the diesel stove going.

RP: How long would it take to wash laundry in the process you described?

MY: Minimum an hour, but I think when Eizo was, because of Kenji and Eizo we used to wash practically, she used to wash practically every day. And it was all, usually on the weekends that I would help my mother with the towels and the sheets. So laundry was a daily chore.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Were there always tubs available for you, or were there times where you had to wait, when there were so many women and their washing at that particular time?

MY: I don't remember, because really time wasn't that important to me at that age. If I had to wait, so what? I'd find someone else to talk to or to play with. I'm sure the adults would've remembered that more than me. And they also, they said they had an iron house or a place where they could iron. I don't remember that at all. I remember if we ironed anything it was in our own barrack. Yeah. No, laundry was a daily chore.

RP: Now, I wanted to talk specifically about your father's garden a little bit, since that's kind of the, one of the main reasons why you're here at Manzanar this weekend. Do you recall when your father built the pond?

MY: We arrived there in June of '42. I don't think it was until the second year that we were there, '42, maybe '43, '44. I don't think it was late as '44. Well, there's a picture of me, my mother holding Eizo and I'm on one side, and then Eizo at that time wasn't quite a year old, so that would be maybe May or June of '44, and the fish pond was already built, because behind us you can see the boulders. So I'm pretty sure that my father must've started it in'43.

RP: '43.

MY: Yes, this is the one right here. [Points.]

RP: This picture right here.

MY: [Holds picture up] See, he's not even a toddler, and you see the boulders right along here?

RP: Okay.

MY: Yeah.

RP: Roughly around '43.

MY: Yeah, the spring of '43.

RP: And did he have any help in putting this garden together? Were there other adults?

MY: Yes, but I didn't pay much attention to it. But he didn't do it all by himself. He had many friends that helped, that were interested in building the pond. And even though all adults had some sort of responsibility or, quote, job, in camp, they had lots of time. No one had cars, no one could go to the movies. Oh, we did have movies, though, but that was just on Fridays and Saturday nights. We had a lot of time on our hands. And he worked as a carpenter at one time for the government, and I think it was at that time he discovered that there were carp up in, what do you call those mountains? The Inyo-White Range, or what is it?

RP: Uh-huh.

MY: The Inyo-White Range? Okay. And so they went up there to build a bridge or to repair something for the county people, not for Manzanar, and he thought -- there were carp and also perch -- that would be a good idea to have a fish pond. And he was discussing it with a couple of people, and I didn't listen much, but before I knew it they were in front of the house digging it out. [Laughs] And then before I knew it they arrived with the concrete, and then before I knew it there was boulders all around there. And then once that was built, then I don't know if he had a water hose, but then there was the outdoor tap of each, right next to barrack, apartment one of each barrack. And took almost half a day to fill it with the fresh water, and then when they built the pond they had, he put a concrete little river all the way up to that water tap.

RP: Spigot?

MY: The spigot. And then when he needed more water in there he would turn it on and it would just naturally come down on an incline. And then at the other end it was, the pond had an exit, so if it filled up to a certain amount it would...

RP: Spill out.

MY: Spill out, uh-huh. And he had, like, a ditch, and it went down next to the road. And it never caused a problem. It would just dry up very quickly.

RP: Madelon, do you recall what he planted around that, the pond area?

MY: We had grass. A lot of the barracks had grass in between because the apartments, I mean, not apartments, the barracks, the doors faced each other, so if this is three, then barrack two faced us so the doors faced another barrack. So it was a way to develop a little community, and we'd take turns watering the grass or growing a garden. It depended upon who your neighbor was and what their interests were as to what you had in front of your house. And I'm sure he spoke to the people across from us. I think Mr. Kobayashi was one, and he was a bachelor and so he wasn't hard to convince. He didn't have to discuss it with his wife, didn't have a wife. [Laughs] And then the family that lived right opposite us, I can't remember their names, but it was okay with them, so before we knew it we had the fish pond going.

RP: And you were in 33?

MY: We were in Block 33, Block 33, Barrack, no, Barrack 4. We were Barrack 4.

RP: You were in 4.

MY: 33-4-4.

RP: 4-4.

MY: And then Barrack 4, Apartment 4.

RP: Okay, so you were on the end.

MY: Yes.

RP: Okay, and so where was the garden located in relationship to you?

MY: [Points to piece of paper] Here, okay, we're right here, and so it was right here.

RP: It's right in here?

MY: See this end right here? There was a double door here, but my father closed that off.

RP: There's the double doors.

MY: He didn't want anyone entering here. And he built a bench. We used to sit on this all the time, 'cause right here was the main street that was paved, going up to the hospital.

RP: Right, going right by you there.

MY: Yes.

RP: And so the garden was located right there.

MY: Yeah.

RP: So on the east, would be the east side of your apartment there.

MY: Let me, yes, east side of the apartment. Yes.

RP: And between building, Barrack 3 and 4. Okay.

MY: Yeah, 33-4-4, I remember that.

RP: So you remember roughly mostly lawn around the...

MY: Yes.

RP: No other flowering plants or anything? You said he used to, liked to grow chrysanthemums.

MY: No, because he said that he wanted to have the lily, the ponds, so we had flowers in the pond itself.

RP: Water lilies.

MY: Yeah.

RP: That was quite a draw.

MY: Yeah, I think we even had a lotus lily, if I'm not mistaken. That was special in his mind.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MY: And then right here [points] next to the paved road he had his garden where he raised gourds. And then right here next to the pond, right here --

RP: The garden was right there.

MY: Yes, and then we had a rabbit hutch there, and we would put the rabbits that we caught in there to cleanse them.

RP: Okay. Do you know where he got the lotus or the water lilies?

MY: We ordered them through catalogs.

RP: Sears Roebuck?

MY: Sears Roebuck was our best friend. [Laughs]

RP: Even, even water lilies?

MY: I don't know if he got the water lilies through Sears Roebuck, but a lot of the things that he got had to be... no, he ordered that through mail. I'm pretty sure he did. But he had a lot of connections. He was a very entrepreneurial person. [Laughs]

RP: Were there, was there any other, besides the garden that you mention, was there any other landscaping around that barrack that you recall, other than lawn?

MY: Well, he had, I don't know, maybe small reeds, nothing that grew up too high. He wanted us to be able to see the carp. And we used to feed the carp every day in the afternoon.

RP: And what did you feed 'em?

MY: Earthworms.

RP: And where would you get them?

MY: We would go north and then it was right next to the place where we butchered the rabbits, and so the entrails and the rabbit, what do you call it, the fur, what do you, the pelt whatever, we would always take a shovel and we would bury it, and so all around that area there'd be earthworms galore. [Laughs] And we would go there and just turn, one turn of the spade and we'd have a couple of dozen worms, and we'd pick them up, put 'em in a can, bring 'em back and feed it to the carp.

KP: Richard, can you ask about cleansing the rabbits, what that was for and how it worked?

RP: Yeah, talking about --

MY: The rabbits?

RP: -- cleansing the rabbits, what was the motivation?

MY: My father lived in Texas for quite a while, so I'm sure that's where he learned -- that's, I assume that's where he learned; maybe he learned in Japan -- there's certain months of the year, especially in the summer months, that you're not supposed to eat wild rabbits and you're supposed to, quote, "cleanse them" even in the winter months. You capture them and then you keep them and then you feed them the proper foods, like carrots, lettuce, things like that. [Laughs] And then minimum of two weeks, maybe three weeks, and then my father would then declare safe to eat. 'Cause he said you would, you never knew what they had been eating in the wild. But I think, I really should've done research on this to find out what months they were, but it seemed pretty much to be the summer months that perhaps they would harbor whatever harmful bacteria or whatever, and so we'd cleanse them. And we just knew, I was able to ascertain by just looking at them, there are certain physical characteristics, which ones we had for one week, two weeks, three weeks. And then when they reached three or four weeks, then the rabbit had to watch out. They were going to be the next one to be taken. [Laughs]

RP: So you actually, so you ate them, you cooked 'em up in your barrack room?

MY: Yes. This was after a year that we had been there. My father found out that rabbits were, quote, available, and he made friends with the person in the watch, guard tower, and told him what he wanted to do, showed the rabbit trap and everything. And then we came back, and next, the following week we went and asked the guard and he said it was okay, so we just went out, and it wasn't just my father alone, I went and my younger brother. But he watched us. I mean, he had his field glasses trained on us, watched us as we went, and we tried to put it in areas where he could see us put the traps. And then we'd set it up and come back. This was early in the morning, and come back, then late in the afternoon we would go to check, just see if we had any rabbits caught. And once we caught a cottontail, and I looked at it, I says, "Not enough for us to eat," 'cause they're really small. That one we kept as a pet 'til the very end. Never butchered that one. [Laughs] But the jackrabbits, we did eat. They were bigger, could feed a family of six.

RP: And so what did you cook, cook the rabbits...

MY: My father was able to get oil, some sort of vegetable oil, and we had, like, cracker crumbs, and we had canned milk 'cause we didn't have too much fresh food, and we'd dip it in the milk and the cracker crumbs, and put it in the hot oil, and it wasn't deep fried, but it was pan fried. And then as my mother was cooking it, I would go to the mess hall and take a big bowl, and I told 'em we're eating at home so they would give us the rice, and if the vegetables looked appealing I'd go back with another little bowl and get vegetables just for us. And the cooks, or the servers in the mess hall, they were very, very amenable to allowing us to eat at home as, whatever we wanted to eat. And sometimes when my younger brothers weren't feeling too well we would take a plate and get the food so they could eat at home, the younger two, when they weren't feeling too well.

RP: So did you have a hot plate that you used to...

MY: Yes, we had a hot plate, and I'm sure that the, that went round, round, round, because it took a long time to pan fry the rabbits. [Laughs] Yeah.

RP: How'd they taste?

MY: Very good, just like chicken. And when I go to restaurants in the Los Angeles area, there aren't too many that will serve rabbit. Well, people just aren't accustomed to it, but I've eaten it at least three or four times since I've left camp, and I still enjoy it.

RP: And how often would you, would you actually have a rabbit dinner?

MY: In the winter months, more often. Summer, we didn't, maybe once every three to four weeks. Yeah. And my mother wasn't too keen on doing it 'cause the house would get, I mean the apartment would get very, very warm when you're pan frying inside. We had no air conditioning, and remember, when we first moved in we just had the tarpaper, nothing else.

RP: Do you remember the linoleum being...

MY: Yeah, we had to move everything. Whatever we had on the floor, we had to pack up and put it out on top of the grass or the sand or whatever. That was a pain in the neck.

RP: Do you remember what color linoleum you had on the floor?

MY: It was an ugly maroon.

RP: The same one we have in our barracks. [Laughs]

MY: Yes. Such progress.

RP: We really have come nowhere.

MY: And then when they put the plasterboards up it wasn't as bad, because we could just move the things away from the walls. But I sort of liked the two by fours 'cause we could put little knickknacks on there, then all of a sudden you didn't have the little shelves anymore. 'Cause I used to put my toothbrush and cup right there, but the plasterboard was a wonderful addition to keep the heat out, or to keep the cold out in the winter months 'cause it's very cold.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: On that topic, do you remember other improvements that you made to your room? Did it, did the appearance of the room change over time?

MY: Those are the major changes that the government did for us, and then I remember my parents ordered a cardboard closet, 'cause we didn't have any closets. And so we had two, they ordered maybe two to put, especially the adult clothes in there, so you could hang them. We didn't have, the government did not provide closets. Then I remember in another corner we had some drawers, real simple drawers. And I don't know if they were made out of plywood, very, very, not substantial set of drawers.

RP: Did you have any furniture in your room?

MY: When you entered our apartment, to the right was, like, a kitchen and then the stove, and then right next to that was our diesel stove or heater, and then right after Kenji, I mean Eizo was born, they moved the double bed next to the heater because of the baby. They wanted him to be warmer, and they had the double bed. And then we had a little partition. My brother had one side and I had the other side, real narrow area, barely had two army cots and maybe about three or four feet between them. And then the back one was where my mother and father moved back to after Eizo was a little bit older. And Eizo and Kenji had two little beds, next one, little beds, two cots next to them in the very back place, but it just had, like, a partition up there. And then we had a partition right next, a plasterboard partition where my father could listen to his radio and he had, like, a water cooler. He somehow was able to rig up a shortwave radio.

RP: A shortwave radio.

MY: He wanted to hear what the Japanese were saying on the radio. Then he'd go to the block office and read the L.A. Times. Two entirely different stories. [Laughs] But he just wanted to get both sides of the story, I suppose. But it was entertainment. We got some Japanese music. But he only had maybe two friends that he would allow to come into his little inner sanctum to listen to that shortwave. No one else knew about it.

RP: Do you know who they were?

MY: Mr. Kobayashi across the way, and maybe, I don't know who the other person was. But just two men. And then also a place where he played cards, Hana, with his friends.

RP: Hana.

MY: Yeah, or poker.

RP: That was the inner sanctum area? That was...

MY: And that's where his water cooler was. And I don't know if you still have them out here, but I was telling Kelly about it, three sides were burlap, real heavy burlap, and then he had little tubing going through and had holes punched in, and the water would drip down, and there would be a motor that would blow to circulate the air in there. And then it gets cooler, right? And he just called it the cooler, and he took out a little bit, maybe it was just a little bit smaller than this, but maybe by four, four by four or five by five, and had a little door on it, and he got the motor by writing his own authorization letter.

RP: That was quite a, quite a story too. When he really wanted --


RP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Madelon Yamamoto, and Madelon, we were just sharing the story about your father rigging up what we would call a swamp cooler.

MY: Yes.

RP: And so when he really wanted something he found ways to get it.

MY: [Laughs] Yes.

RP: With the firehouse address and that type of thing. But it made life a little easier for you.

MY: Yes, and it's something that he just did on his own, and he found a way to get all the, quote, equipment or whatever materials he needed to get it going, and I never questioned him. I just helped him. And I appreciated the cooler. You couldn't keep things like ice cream or anything like that -- well, we couldn't get ice cream much in Manzanar -- but we could put fruits in there to cool, and melons, I remember melons we could put in there to cool.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MY: But many afternoons, he would spend just working around the fish pond. In the winter months, sometimes it would get so cold that it would just ice over, but yet the fish seemed to survive. Maybe there was enough algae under there to keep them going.

RP: Besides the carp, were there other fish that --

MY: Perch and minnows. And he said the minnows were there to eat the larvae or whatever, but there were minnows galore in there.

RP: Now, did you ever eat any of the fish from the pond?

MY: No, no, no. My father said it wouldn't taste good. [Laughs] I don't think carp are good for fish, and the perch, they weren't too big. They're only about so big.

RP: It was mostly just for the pleasure, enjoyment of watching.

MY: Yes, and then we trained the carp to come up to us to eat, 'cause whenever we'd throw one fish, earthworm down there, they would just come up to us, just like the regular carp do. Yeah, that was fun to do.

RP: Eat right out of your hand?

MY: No, not that much. We'd just throw 'em in. If you would throw one in and then one carp found it, then six or seven other carp would come to get their food.

RP: Do you remember how large these carp got?

MY: Some were as big as, long as nine to twelve inches. They got pretty big. Yeah. Well, they had no enemies there. [Laughs] Anything there in the pond was theirs. And they loved to rub their backs against the side of the concrete wall. Then we had an island in the center for the little tunnel, and they would swim through it all the time. We could see them do that. And they wouldn't come too much to the shallow end. They would like the deeper water. I mean, 'cause the shallow end where he had his hammock, it was only about six to eight inches deep. The minnows would come up to there, but they would go, the carp would go just to the deeper end. It's a wonderful life for children because, I mentioned to someone that we never had to worry about any youngster falling in. They all respected that it was a pond, it was a place of beauty to see and watch, and not a play place, and not a single person fell in. Except a young adult. When it froze over he thought that the ice could support him and he said, "I'm gonna walk across it." And I looked at him, I said, "It's not gonna support you." I said, "It's not frozen all the way through." [Laughs] 'Cause in the center it was only about half an inch. He says, "Oh, I can make it." Plunk. He went down, and no one helped him out. He had to get himself out because he was old enough to know better.

RP: So how deep at the deepest point?

MY: I think four feet. Yeah, three and a half, four feet. Well, my father just didn't want to make it too deep 'cause he was conscious of the safety factor too for children, but as I said, many children came by to see it, many adults, and never had any problems with anyone. There was never anyone trying to fish there to get the carp. [Laughs] It was a place of beauty.

RP: Right. And so it really was sort of a magnet for folks from the block there.

MY: And I think it sort of cooled down, just our own little area, with that area of water there. And right next to it was a huge crabapple tree, and I'm sorry to hear that it's not there, 'cause my father had a hammock there and he would, he had it up very high. None of us could get up to it, but he could get into it and he would rest there every day, when the weather, weather permitting.

RP: Now, you weren't very far from Merritt Park, which was the large kind of community park garden at Manzanar.

MY: It was like, we're four, only about six barracks away.

RP: Six barracks away, and what do you recall about Merritt Park? Did you go there and play?

MY: Yes. In a way, it was a little bit formal. It wasn't a place where they had, like, a sandbox or anything, but we could go there and sit. They had beautiful benches right next to the flowers. And in the springtime it was especially beautiful, but I don't remember too many, quote, special festivals or anything being held there. But it was a place where people would go to enjoy themselves.

RP: Did you walk across those bridges?

MY: Yes, yes. I walked on every single one. [Laughs] Whether I was supposed to or not, I know I went across all the bridges there. And it was just, it was so different from the rest of the camp. The rest of the camp was just flat, all sandy, and here was a green oasis.

RP: Little bit of hills and elevation.

MY: Yeah.

RP: In your, in Block 33, were there any other gardens or ponds that...

MY: Not that I'm aware of.

RP: Just your dad's.

MY: I went through the whole place, and it, we were the last ones to arrive because 33, 34, 35, 36, and that was the last. Because they started occupying from Block 1 all the way through. I know, maybe blocks one and two were the administrative barracks.

RP: What happened to the fish when you left the camp?

MY: I don't know. My father left in July or August of 1945, and he knew that the war was almost over and he knew that he had to establish himself or find a job in the Los Angeles area. And his brother had left ahead of time, the one that was interned first, and my uncle had enough financial resources that he didn't have to sell his home. He was able to find a neighbor that he trusted to live in the home, and he was able to maintain payments, whatever. But he was very fortunate to have such wonderful friends on the outside. And so my aunt and uncle came out and left camp before I came out, so they went back to East Third Street and opened up their home, and then my father went and stayed with them and advertised for gardening jobs, and that how he started his second career.

RP: So he became a gardener.

MY: And then the whole family couldn't come out because they could not house everyone. They could take my father but not four little ones and my mother. [Laughs] And so that's what happened, and so when, after my father left we still fed the fish, and then I left in August and then my mother came out in November because that's when they closed Manzanar, I believe. And I don't know what she did with the carp. All I know is that she said she left it filled with water, and I don't know if she gave the carp to anybody, but then I'm trying to be logical. Who would take the carp unless they had a pond? You know, in Lone Pine or Independence, I don't know. But so that was, I think she just left it as is.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: And you mentioned that your father loved his garden in Boyle Heights where he lived before camp.

MY: Yes.

RP: Did he -- and then he became a gardener -- did he also build gardens prior, or I mean, I should say after camp?

MY: Yes. They bought a home on Harvard, Harvard and Olympic in Los Angeles, and he continued gardening, and then he suffered a massive coronary in 1953 and he could work only part time, but, so he started doing a little bit gardening in his backyard, and he built a koi pond. I attribute my father's coronary to having worked seven days a week from, let me see, July of 1945 until November of 1953 my father worked every single day. He didn't take a day off as a gardener because that's what he had to do to maintain the family.

RP: Support the family.

MY: Yes.

RP: Can you describe the garden, the koi pond that he built?

MY: It was a very small koi pond, and it was in the backyard and it was right next to the clothesline. And he had the koi pond, and then right next to it, as usual, he had his little vegetable patch, and then he had his chrysanthemums behind it. And then off in the back he raised pigeons, 'cause he loved to eat squab, and so he raised squab. [Laughs] And so at heart he was very like a country boy, wanted to live on the farm. And the koi, this time they were beautiful koi, the Japanese variegated color koi, and that was his hobby and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

RP: Was it a concrete-lined pond?

MY: Yes, it was a concrete-lined pond. Yes. But it was much smaller. It wasn't as large as the one that he had here in Manzanar. It was maybe by, eight by seven -- maybe that's larger, I don't know. From here maybe up to the third row. That's pretty big, isn't it? Yeah. But he maintained it, and people would come over to admire the different colors of the koi, because the Japanese koi, they're admired because of the color too.

RP: And the koi have a pretty strong symbolic, carp especially, for, for...

MY: For boys.

RP: For boys. Boy's Day.

MY: Yes, 'cause they can, supposedly very strong going up, swimming upstream.

RP: Right. Did you fly the carp when...

MY: My father was proud to fly three carp. [Laughs] He had three sons. Yes, he used to fly them.

RP: Did that also happen here in camp too? Do you recall anybody flying carp to celebrate Boy's Day?

MY: I don't remember that. I don't, no, I don't remember that at all.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

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.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Now, your, the uncle that you were very fond of eventually was...

MY: Yes, he came back.

RP: Released back to, he came back here. Do you your remember him coming back, and was he the same uncle that you remember?

MY: Oh yes. I mean, no bitterness, and he didn't say too much about his life there. And I don't, he never said he was mistreated physically, you know. But he fit into the camp lifestyle and was still just as caring and gave a lot of his time in entertaining us, playing games with us. And he lived to be, what, ninety-one or ninety-two. Yeah. His wife, she died at quite an early age. I think she was so, that situation so stressed her out and it was just really very, very sad to see someone that, to become so stressed. I mean, I didn't have to go through such a situation, but she was, became very brittle and little things would upset her. But still, she was a very kind person, and she never got over it, the whole evacuation situation.

RP: On that, on that topic, how did that whole situation affect your parents? Did you see any, ever any visible signs of their stresses, dealing with situations in the camp or removal and that type of thing?

MY: Well, I'm sure that there was a lot of stress on my father, the economic end of not having a business, not having a house, coming back out of camp with absolutely no financial resources behind him. That, I don't know how much they gave each of us to, quote, relocate back to Los Angeles. Fortunately, my father was able to stay with his brother. I know of other families that lived in hostels or they stayed at Buddhist temples, and I know one classmate, she lived at a Christian church, and I said, "Where do you live?" And then you see all the pews, she says, "These six pews, up to here, that's ours." I said, "What?" And so the pews were their beds, and then they had, like, a common dining room, and they had a very, whatever bathrooms, public bathrooms that the church had for their church members. That was their home for, not just a week or two, for quite a while until they were established financially where they could rent a home, or find a job, because many places didn't want to hire, I believe, the Japanese. In fact, when I first started junior high school I was pretty much a loner -- not by choice -- but people weren't openly hostile to me, but they just left me alone. But it didn't bother me, just made me study harder. I had nothing else to do. But when I left camp, I had to find a job too.

RP: What did you end up doing?

MY: It was a term that they used, schoolgirl. You would work in a home before school and after school, doing housework, babysitting, and you earned your keep. I wasn't paid for it, but I took care of the three or four year old son before school and after school, fed him, bathed him or whatever, and then I got my room and board.

RP: And who was that family that you did this for?

MY: It was the Olsens. I don't know where they are. They moved away about five or six years after I left them. But after my father came out I left them and went to live with my mother and father 'cause I didn't want to do that kind of work. I missed my family. But I was not quite thirteen when I did that for, what, two and a half, three months.

RP: And how did you get connected with the Olsens?

MY: What?

RP: How did you connect with the Olsens?

MY: I advertised in the newspaper. When I left camp I took the streetcar and went to the Times building. My chin barely reached the counter and I wrote out the address, but I fudged a little bit on my age. I said, "Thirteen year old junior high school girl would like a position babysitting, a little bit of cooking, before school and after school. No salary required, just for room and board." And I got three replies. The first one looked at me, said I was too short, wouldn't even let me in the house. I understood, so I went back. So the next day I got a pair of shoes just with a half-inch heel, look a little bit taller. [Laughs] And the second job, person I went to, I got the job. And my father waited in the truck for me. He said, "No, you have to get the job on your own 'cause I can't be there with you." So I said okay, and so I went in there, but I told Mrs. Olsen that he had several gardening positions not too far from there, so if there was an emergency they could find him, or also call him at my aunt's place. So I was there, and they were very, very kind to me and even wanted me to take accordion lessons with their daughter. And I turned them down; I said, "I don't want to." I don't know, I already had notions of what I wanted to do, and playing an accordion was not one of my priorities. [Laughs]

RP: Well, speaking of which, did you have any hobbies or pastimes in Manzanar?

MY: My mother spent a lot of time with me. I learned how to sew regular clothes, not just for the dolls, how to cut, use the patterns and cut out pieces to sew a blouse and a dress. She taught me how to crochet, how to knit, how to darn, how to mend. She taught me a lot of basic cooking skills on just a hot plate, and there's a lot of things you can do on a hot plate. You don't need a full stove. And learned a lot of housekeeping, little tricks to do if you don't have too much water or a mop or whatever, how to keep the floors clean. We gave up on clean, keeping the windows clean. It was always dusty. So I learned a lot as far as the handicrafts and basic cooking from my mother, and also how to take care of little ones, 'cause I helped take care of my brothers Kenji and Eizo.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: Let's talk about Eizo. He was born in Manzanar.

MY: Yes, he was.

RP: Roughly 1943, and you have a very memorable story you shared about Eizo's birth.

MY: Yes. When my mother was in labor, she already had her suitcase packed, she said that she was going to have the baby that night, or perhaps the next morning, and my father decided he would stay home with Kenji, who was three years old, three and a half years old. And so my brother Aki, who's a year and a half younger than me, had the suitcase and my mother decided to, it was time to go. It was about eight or nine o'clock. It was really dark outside, but the hospital was just up the road, a block and a half away. And so Aki carried the suitcase and my mother leaned on me, and every so many steps she would have to stop to take a deep breath. We didn't have any telephones in camp, and my mother said the doctor said it was not going to be a difficult delivery, so just get to the hospital in plenty of time, because since she already had three children she knew what the signs were and how close the labor pains were. She would ascertain for herself. And then she decided -- and I know sometimes if she was taking a breath she would be rubbing her back, and then we'd stop for her. But she never flinched, she never cried, and we just kept going. And it was uphill, I remember that, and she would lean on us. And she was so cheerful. She was not angry or upset. My brother and I, we were the ones, we wanted to, her to hurry up and get up there so we could go back home. [Laughs] But, so we took her to the hospital and made sure that she had registered, and she just waved goodbye to us and said everything was going to be okay. And then the next morning an ambulance driver came down, he had no patients in the ambulance, but he drives down to announce to us that Eizo had been born. But when she was in labor I could not go up there to get the ambulance to come because it was going to be a normal, uneventful delivery.

RP: Wow.

MY: So when I had my first child I certainly appreciated what my mother went through and how stoic she was. But the big disappointment was that I didn't have a baby sister. It was a baby brother again. [Laughs]

RP: So was it, what was that like with a baby in the barrack?

MY: My mother nursed him, so it was, it wasn't too hard. And they did have a system where an older woman, not a full-fledged nurse, but she would come, I think she came every day for about, she stayed in the hospital for at least a week, and then they brought her home in the ambulance, and then she came to wash the diapers and make sure that he had enough diapers 'cause I couldn't do it all by myself. And then I think she came to help with the laundry for maybe four weeks. But by the time he was five or six weeks old my mother was doing everything she was doing before he was born. Of course, I was helping and I wasn't in school because he was born in June, so July and August, hard time for me, doing a lot of the laundry. [Laughs]

RP: Did she pretty much completely breastfeed him, or did she use formula too?

MY: I don't remember formula. I know that she breastfed Kenji until he was almost a year old, so I think she did the same thing with Eizo. My most, the thing that concerned me the most was that we had enough dry diapers, because when winter came along it was hard to dry the diapers. There weren't disposable diapers at that time, and so that was my responsibility, make sure there're enough diapers, at least four or five.

RP: Wow. So you were busy.

MY: Yes. [Laughs]

RP: Very busy.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: Let's talk about school a little bit, because in addition to all these other things you were doing you also had to go to school here in camp.

MY: School was a very pleasant place, lots of friends, and teachers were very, very positive. They were there because they wanted to be there, except for the Nisei teachers, but all the, quote, outside teachers, they wanted to be there. We knew about one internee that was here voluntarily, Ralph Lazo. I remember seeing him in -- since he was already in high school I didn't dare speak to him; I was only in elementary school -- I kept on thinking, "He doesn't look Japanese, but he must be Japanese. Why else would he choose to be here?" But he just fit right in, and he was a cheerleader. I don't know if he was student body president, but he was just a real active young man, well liked and a true leader, and he turned out to be the same in adult life. I think he was like a counselor, worked with, in a school situation. And the notable teachers, Mr. Frizzell, the music teacher, a lot of the musical productions I would see here in the auditorium.

RP: Like, which ones? Do you recall any specific ones that you saw here?

MY: If you name a couple of 'em I'll tell you.

RP: "Oklahoma"?

MY: Yes, yes, yes. I remember that one. And I remember "Oklahoma" because they used to play that music all the time at the outdoor theater. You know the outdoor movie theater that's between two, where they had the real big outdoor screen like they had for drive-in movies, and every Friday and Saturday they would show the movies. And they would play "Oklahoma" music every single time. [Laughs]

RP: Do you remember sitting on benches at some point out in the outdoor theater?

MY: They did have benches, but we would take a blanket and we'd pile the sand to make our own little chair, and put the blanket on top of it and just sit there. I would take my younger brother with me. Not Kenji; he was too young. But my brother Aki, we would go together and take the blanket. It was very pleasant in the summer months, very cool.

RP: How about other events that you might've attended here in this auditorium?

MY: We were in junior high. I don't know if we used, I think some, for the gym classes for the girls we would come in here every once in a while. The boys had the use of it more than the girls. And I remember we did have a library, but we had periods just like, we had a homeroom, we had English, science... I can't remember. But it was pretty much patterned against what a school would be like on the outside. I remember an art class, Mrs. Christiansen. She was a wonderful art teacher. And Mr. Greenly, the speech teacher, who was blind.

RP: You remember seeing him with his dog?

MY: Yes, yes, he used to bring it. And I loved dogs and I wanted to pet it, but he said no, we couldn't interact with the dog. The dog would just stay with him. And the dog was much brighter than us, 'cause we wanted to show him out the door. He said, "No, the dog knows which way to go." [Laughs] The dog never left, led him astray. Yes, but he was a very inspirational teacher because all of us understood, with such a great handicap, how positive he was in working with us.

RP: Was school challenging for you here at Manzanar?

MY: Not particularly. I... challenging as, I think we had adequate supplies. I had nothing to, I couldn't compare it with anything because when I came here I was in the fourth grade, and then when I left I had just finished the -- oh, I skipped one grade, I remember that. And so when I left, I finished the eighth grade and was going into the ninth grade, and then when I found out that they're gonna close Manzanar I decided I had to leave before November because I had to register as a ninth grader in September. I remember that much. But challenge, biggest challenge was getting school and back, especially when there was a windstorm or if it was raining or snowing, 'cause it was a long walk.

RP: Were you, you mentioned, again, before camp you were involved in ondo dances and some traditional Japanese cultural practices. Did that carry over into camp, where there, there were ondo events in camp?

MY: I don't remember any, and if there were any I just wasn't aware of it. I do remember we had churches. There was a Japanese school. My father registered me in the Japanese school.

RP: Here in Manzanar?

MY: I was a Japanese school dropout. [Laughs]

RP: And you're proud of it.

MY: No, it was just...

RP: Why did you drop out?

MY: He was very traditional in his presentation. Everything was rote, and if I didn't understand something he couldn't explain it to me in English. And so I just decided it wasn't for me, and then my father said that if I didn't want to go, that I didn't have to go. He didn't force me to go.

RP: Do you recall where the language school was located in camp?

MY: It wasn't too far from our block. I couldn't use that as an excuse for dropping out. It's just, I just told my father it was too hard and it wasn't interesting.

RP: And when did you attend it? After...

MY: After...

RP: Regular school.

MY: What we would call American school. 'Cause I attended Japanese school before the war every single day after, quote, American school, and it was from four to five every, every day. The luckier ones, the ones I considered lucky, attended only on Saturdays for half a day.

RP: So who in the, in your extended family would you speak Japanese to before you came to Manzanar?

MY: I didn't speak Japanese to my grandmother. I spoke to her in English and she would answer me in Japanese. She did not speak -- and then Ojiisan understood enough English, I would speak to him in English. He understood me and he would speak to me in Japanese. It worked out. And Obaasan was the same thing; they all understood the other language, but they spoke in their own language and we knew enough to understand. No is no in Japanese and in English. [Laughs]

RP: Most important word, yeah. Did your father, was he political at all in Manzanar?

MY: Well, if he was, he didn't share it with me. I do know that he was, because of his background, offered a chance to be a Japanese language teacher at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and so he went. And this -- to, for an interview -- and he was accepted, but he decided not to become a teacher. He just felt that the war was almost over, and then he said he didn't like the methods that he would be required to use in teaching Japanese to these English speaking... I think it was the navy. Yeah, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I remember that because he went there, got on a Greyhound bus and he came back. And I know my mother said, "Where is Oklahoma?" [Laughs] And that was a sign to my father, maybe he wasn't going to go to Oklahoma, 'cause she was set on coming back to Los Angeles. Because by then I think they sort of understood it was a losing battle for Japan, and no matter what happened, they knew California was their home.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Do you recall the day that Japan surrendered? Some folks remember that day.

MY: All I know is in mid August I was standing at the gate waiting for the Greyhound bus. I was going to go to Los Angeles to join my father so I could start school in September. I waited, I said goodbye to my friends and everything in the block, and I walked down with my little old suitcase, had my Greyhound bus ticket, and I waited and waited. I was there at nine o'clock in the morning. Then at twelve noon the bus still hadn't arrived. I mean, I was just fit to be tied, I was so mad. But this was mid August. I don't know if it's, the atomic bomb was dropped, or if Japan surrendered. To me, it made no difference what it was. Why didn't they tell me at the gate to go back home? They were all celebrating. So it must've been when Japan surrendered. Did Japan surrender mid August?

RP: Roughly, yeah.

MY: Okay, that's, so it affected me, impacted me. So I walked all the way back home, and somehow they communicated with my father by, I think he more or less guessed, and then, 'cause my uncle did have a telephone. There were no public phones here; I think they had to go all the way down to the administrative office. And so maybe the next day or two days later I got the Greyhound bus and ended up at the bus station. My father picked me up so I could advertise for my schoolgirl job.

RP: Yeah. One of the stories you shared with me yesterday was visiting the block manager's office to read the L.A Times.

MY: Yes, every morning. The Times was delivered to the block office. I don't know if it was that day or it was the next day, and they censored the paper. Sometimes certain things, especially about the war, was clipped out.

RP: The Times?

MY: Yeah, the Times. And because it was, they had, like, wooden clamps on it, you couldn't take it out of the, but I read everything. But I really went there to read the comics.

RP: What was your favorite comic?

MY: It was Brenda Star at that time, and also Flash Gordon. That was my interest. And in the beginning, the catalogs where you could order items were there, Sears and Montgomery Ward.

RP: In the block manager's office?

MY: Yeah.

RP: Interesting.

MY: They delivered the mail to the block manager, and if we had mail we'd just go down and we'd, I think he had it sorted out, we'd just pick up our mail there. But if we wanted to mail anything, there was a post office in the canteen. You see? All army terms, canteen. "We're going to the canteen to see if they have any soda today," or whatever. And we would purchase things there, but it was very, very limited, what they had at the canteen. Rightfully so, because we didn't have refrigerators, and a lot of people didn't have stoves. But whenever special things arrived, I mean, you didn't need any cell phone or anything, everybody in the camp knew that something special, food had arrived in the canteen. We'd all go down like little lemmings to get it. [Laughs]

RP: Try to get there before the ice cream ran out.

MY: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Do you have any recollections whatsoever of the Manzanar, quote, "riot" that occurred?

MY: Yes.

RP: Trouble in camp roughly, what, almost December 7, '42.

MY: Yes, I remember.

RP: What do you recall?

MY: Well, my mother was very apprehensive that night, and my father was usually home every night, but he wasn't at home that night, and she was near tears, said, "I told him not to go." And it seems that our neighbor, Mr. Nakamura, went and my father went, just to see what was going on. And they had a mini riot and they shot at people, and Mr. Nakamura got, I know it happened because he was shot right in the neck, but fortunately it missed whatever veins that one has in one's neck. And I know Mrs. Nakamura was just so upset because she had told him not to go, and he was in the hospital for a long time. And my father got back, and I don't know if that was the night that they were looking for this certain...

RP: Gentleman.

MY: Political person.


MY: Yeah, person, and I think he lived right across from us in Block 29 or 28, 'cause we were 33. And they were looking for him and they were very angry men, saying that they wanted to, quote, hurt him, to hang him or whatever. And it was a very frightening experience 'cause I could hear them shouting as they were looking for him. And I hung out the window, and I wanted to look and see what was going on, said, "If they're going to do something I want to see it." My mother said, "Get back in," and she slammed the windows shut. [Laughs] And the next day was, it was in December, I think they closed school for a couple of days. Did they? Yeah. And so it was a nice holiday for us, but not, nothing much to do 'cause it was so cold. And I know that a big uproar about signing the allegiance.

RP: "Loyalty questionnaire."

MY: Yeah. And it didn't affect us because we're all so young, but it did affect the families who had children under, over eighteen. And I think that's the thing that I remember the most. There was lots of discussion going on, but I was not privy to that. That, they would not discuss with me. And it caused a lot of families to separate because I think those that signed "no-no" -- they used to call them "no-no boys" -- they were sent to Tule Lake.

RP: Do you remember families in your block leaving?

MY: Not in my block. There weren't too many young men. But I do know that one second cousin, I think, was sent up there. But my father didn't mention it to me.

RP: Your father was Issei, again, bilingual and very sort of Americanized as well.

MY: Yes.

RP: So we had, you had three different factions in the camp, there's the Niseis, the Kibeis and... where there any, did he have any contact with any of those specific groups? I mean, did he tend to congregate with Isseis? Or could he, could he kind of flow freely amongst the different --

MY: I think he felt comfortable with any of the groups, and he, mostly with the group that had a family. And then working as a butcher, I think that maybe he went to work early, 'cause he was usually home by two, three o'clock in the afternoon, but he had put in, quote, a full day's work. And I don't think there was a day that he come home any later than four o'clock, even though he was a supervisor down there. Because outside vendors would come in to bring the meat, and my father would order the meat that was needed for the camp.

RP: Right. And the camp was also under rationing too, so your dad was, was he the head butcher?

MY: Yes. Yes, he was the... well, he always said the foreman. He was not the butcher 'cause he had to learn on the job. He was there really to help with the ordering and keeping of the books because that was all done in English, and then I think each of the chefs, based upon the population in the block, I don't know who set up the menus, then he would, he and the butchers would decide when to send the meat to the mess halls. And I think that was all settled, set up above his level, because I'm sure to do the economics they maybe had a budget as to what they could purchase, I mean the kinds of food that they could purchase.

RP: How often do you recall having meat?

MY: I don't remember having meat often. And they, I know we had sometimes beef, we had pork, we had chicken, lots of vegetables.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Did your father grow -- you mentioned he had a small garden right next to the pond -- was he also growing Japanese vegetables as well?

MY: Yes. Yes, like the Japanese nasubi, the elongated eggplant, and as I said, he loved green onions, and the cucumbers... just trying to think. And then there was some Japanese foods that he raised. I don't know what they were. They would grow in the water area, but he never shared it with us and they didn't look very appetizing. I think he just built, grew it for himself. But the garden was his therapy, I think.

RP: And would those vegetables just be, be cooked up in your room, or you'd take 'em to the mess hall?

MY: Yes, in the room, because we never grew enough to share with people in the mess hall, because each block had a couple of hundred people, right? Yeah, so, but we'd share it with the people that lived in our barracks and also the next barrack. Yeah, if they wanted it.

RP: Where do you think your dad learned how to trap animals? Was that in Texas, perhaps?

MY: I'm pretty sure it was in Texas. He was there, 'cause he arrived there when he was only fifteen, and so I'm sure he was there at least five to... let me see, he got married in 1930 and he was born in 1899, so, and my mother graduated from high school in, she was born 1908... I'm just trying to figure out when he came to Los Angeles. So he must've been in Texas a good five to maybe seven years, and he remembers having Italian neighbors, African Americans, I mean, just the whole gamut. And they used to get together to butcher, to make sausages, blood sausage, pickled pigs feet. I mean, I was raised on that, 'cause he loved pickled pigs feet. He liked, he would eat, he had what we'd call diverse palate. There wasn't any type of food that he would not try or want us to try.

RP: You shared a story about how he sort of negotiated this opportunity with the military police to go trap outside the camp.

MY: Yes.

RP: Now, was there a gate or some type of area where he actually passed through the fence?

MY: Yes, there was just the gates, and I don't, I can't even remember if there was a lock on it, but the gate was there and everyone respected the gate. But I remember there was maybe like a latch-like thing, and then we just walked through. And then when we got on the other side we'd put that thing back on. We had to be careful because the barbed wire. He never came down.

RP: And the tower was located right above the gate?

MY: Right, it's right there, and he had his machine gun there. That, I know.

RP: You saw the gun.

MY: Oh yes. But it was pointed up. Yeah, and so we just opened the gate, walked through, and when we were successful we always showed the rabbit that we were taking back. [Laughs]

RP: Roughly how far out of camp would you go? Just a short distance?

MY: I'm not very good at, minimum one city block, maybe two city blocks. Not only would we go north, but also towards the mountains east. And he would always tell us to look for markers. I said, "What's a marker?" He says, "Know when you're turning, so when you come back you know which way to go back to camp. You don't want to be lost out here." And then if we couldn't find a marker, he'd have something with a little ribbon on it, we would tie it on there so we'd know, so we wouldn't get lost. So those little things that he taught us, 'cause we couldn't go back to the same place each time. He says, "Otherwise you're not gonna get rabbits. You have to go different places."

RP: Can you describe the traps to us that he used?

MY: The traps, they were made out of wood, and it's an elongated rectangle and it had a trap door, and it had string and then the string went down at the end of the trap, and we would have, usually I think we had a carrot because I think lettuce would've wilted. But I remember tying carrots on there, and then set it up and we'd have a real sensitive pole there, so it's on this pole, the string, and then the minute the, not the minute, but after the rabbit went in, when he touched the carrot, then the trap door would fall. But he'd have to be all the way to the end, but you couldn't make it too long 'cause you want the rabbit to be able to smell it and to see it maybe, 'cause why he should he go in a dark place if not for food. And then when he got there, if the door was down, then we knew we had a rabbit, but we had to also check to make sure that we had a rabbit, 'cause, well you could tell when you picked it up, 'cause sometimes the rabbits are smart, they get the carrot and speed out and it'd be an empty trap. But I think we were successful about seventy-five percent of the time.

RP: Were there any other animals that inadvertently got trapped?

MY: Oh yes. [Laughs] Well, I became very, very ambitious and felt we could catch bigger animals, not knowing that we'd catch something that would harm us. And so I asked him to build a bigger trap. I said, "Oh, we'll catch bigger rabbits." He didn't argue with me, so we built a big trap, about, let me see, three feet high, three feet across, and we couldn't use wood because it'd be too heavy to carry out, so we used chicken wire. And so we did the same process, put a carrot in the end, and then one day we went back and a coyote that wasn't very bright thought a carrot was good food, and we caught a coyote. And then my father just looked at me, says, "Now what are we going to do? We can't leave it in there because if we do then you will have killed a good coyote." I thought, I didn't want to be considered a murderer, so I said, "Well, what can we do?" He said, "Well, we want to get away." And my father knew that the coyote was afraid of us, it was going to run away, and he says, "Well, get behind me." So I got behind him, then we went right around the other end and then we pulled up the trap door, and the coyote just ran for his life. [Laughs] And he says, "Now, what are we going to do?" I said, "Just leave the trap with the thing down. We don't need that trap anymore." And so we left that trap there.

RP: Wow, it's still out there?

MY: I don't know, could be. But my father didn't want to carry it back. It was a big trap. I mean, it took both of us time to get it up there, because there's lots of brush out there and when we went to trap the rabbits, I mean, it wasn't a clearing. They liked to go where other brush is, I suppose.

RP: So you really got an introduction to the natural world here at, here in camp.

MY: Yes.

RP: Were there other, other...

MY: We trapped birds.

RP: Did you? What kind?

MY: He put up a net. I don't know what type it was and I don't know if he learned to do that in Japan or in Texas, but they were considered, quote, edible. My mother didn't want to butcher them, so he had to kill them and take the feathers out and whatever, and he got some soy sauce, whatever, marinated it, and then he ate it. But he only did that twice, so it must be that they weren't that tasty. [Laughs]

RP: Maybe quail, perhaps.

MY: No, they weren't quail. They were black.

RP: Black.

MY: They were very small. I think there was just not enough meat on it. I think those, he barbecued outside. It was just too tough. But that was short-lived, but it was fun to see him weave the net that we put between three or four trees, and then we went back and would get the birds. They would go in, and then when they tried to pull out the neck would get caught, or the wings would be caught. And we took a real big, what was it, cloth bag, and we had to go every day because we didn't want them to be dead two or three days. [Laughs]

RP: But where would, where would the traps be put up?

MY: Well, it was before we got to the tower. It was inside the camp. It was between some trees where the birds would congregate.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: Do you remember, well, just going to the north of Block 33 there was a large area with a lot of large cottonwood trees.

MY: Yes, is it still there?

RP: Yes.

MY: That's where we would go to butcher the rabbits, and that's where we would bury the entrails, and we would hop over that creek. Sometimes there would be very, very little water, and sometimes there'd be lots of water.

RP: Still inside the camp?

MY: Yes. Yeah, we didn't have to go outside for that. And where's Bairs Creek?

RP: Bairs Creek is on the, sort of the southwest corner of camp.

MY: Yes, it's beyond where the administration buildings are, right?

RP: Right. Yeah, further to the west and to the south, and the creek came right inside the corner of the camp.

MY: It was inside the camp, right? Yes, because we used to go there to play in the summertime, Bairs Creek, and I liked it but the water was just ice cold. [Laughs] But in the summertime that was some relief.

RP: Felt good.

MY: And when we went and barbecued meat, we went near Shepherd's Creek, which is north of camp. Yeah, and somehow the men would get someone to get a truck, because we would have to take, like barbeque something from the mess halls, where you could put your meat on top of it, the grill. And they had, somehow they got the charcoal, and we had the meat, and some of the women made onigiri, rice balls. We had a real good time.

RP: Had a picnic.

MY: We did that at least two or three times. Towards the end, like in 1945, they were becoming a little bit more lax and allowing us to go out, and I think some of the men went fishing on their own. Because the guard tower north of us, I don't know if it's the same guard, but they were very friendly and if you explained to them why you were going out, maybe they looked the other way, just knew that the way you're dressed, you go with your fishing pole or with your children, you're not gonna go very far.

RP: Did you have any personal conversations with the military police at all?

MY: No, I was never to say anything to them.

RP: That was according to your dad.

MY: Yes, especially when we're negotiating...

RP: Rabbit traps.

MY: [Laughs] Rabbit hunting. And there was really no need for me to speak. They always spoke to the adults, never to the, well, for me, they never spoke to me.

KP: Richard, we've got a couple minutes on this tape.

RP: Okay. As far as you know, Madelon, did your father ever go out to fish as well?

MY: No. Fishing was not one of his hobbies.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: And we just have a few minutes left, can you share with us how you have passed on your camp experiences and your stories?

MY: Well, I've told my children a little, and I've also made presentations to beginning teachers, and some of the teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District have invited me and I have presented to their students. And what I have found is they're just dumbfounded. They just can't imagine how one could've lived in such situations and survived. Even my friend, I told her that I was going to Manzanar and I might be televised by a Japanese company, and she says, "Oh well, that life is over." But I explained to her how hard it was, and I said, even like getting a drink of water. She said, "What's so hard about getting a drink of water? Just turn on the tap and there it is." I said, "We didn't have a tap inside our house." And she said, "Well, where did you go?" I said, "There was a tap on the outside of the barrack, but I never wanted to use that. I would go to, quote, the latrine." And she said, "What's that?" [Laughs] And I explained to her, and I said, "Little things like that makes life comfortable, being, having water in your own home, your own apartment, having even just a little hot plate to cook just a little something." But to think for that long a period you had to live in a, quote, a camp life.

But in explaining or relating the things that had happened, I sometimes feel, well, it just happened to us, it's just part of life, but I also look upon it as a way of maturing me very quickly, and sometimes I find I'm very, very harsh in judging others. I think, "Well, don't they know any better? You have to do this, this and this." I feel that as a youngster I had to make many decisions, and they didn't, it helped me become stronger. That's all I can say. But it, the camp life affected people, I think, based upon their age and their economic situation, and I know how debilitating, how horrible it was for, especially professional people that were just beginning, young adults starting college, like. Or high schoolers that couldn't stay to walk across the stage and earn their high school diploma, some of them are still being awarded the high school diplomas. And so in many, when I get opportunities, I don't mind sharing my experience, but it's only from my viewpoint, how it affected me. It affected many people in a very negative way. Some were able to cope and some weren't, but I always give my father and mother such, I have such respect for them, not only my own parents but everyone else at that same age, how they were able to survive and not become bitter, but to tell us, "If you work hard, you can overcome what is put before you."

RP: On that note, thank you very much, Madelon, on behalf of Kirk and myself and the Park Service. We really honor your stories and appreciate your...

MY: You're welcome.

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