Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mas Okabe Interview
Narrator: Mas Okabe
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 30, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-omas_2-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: What was next from Merced? How did you learn you would be leaving there?

MO: They told us we're going to Amache, Colorado. So I guess most of the people there moved to Colorado, and I guess we went by train then.

KL: What did you know about Colorado or Amache?

MO: Nothing. Nothing, absolutely nothing. When we got there it was just a big, big place, barracks and barracks and barracks. And we were right on the edge of the camp, there's a wire fence, and there was a sewer system right next to us. It didn't smell, but I do recall that. And I do recall the first time it snowed, you know, it was my first time seeing snow. And I was so excited I ran out and tried to make a snowball. I didn't realize that with powdered snow, you can't make snowballs. It has to be sort of that wet dampy kind. So anyway, we had fun sliding around and stuff like that.

KL: When did you leave...

MO: Merced?

KL: Merced.

MO: Let's see, I don't remember that exactly. There were so many arrivals and departures and arrivals and departures, I really don't remember that.


KL: It is, it's tape two of a continuing interview with Mas Okabe on January 30, 2013. I saw that for a moment and thought, is it really that late? And when we left off, we were talking about your family's arrival at Amache, and you said it was pretty vast. What did you see when you first arrived?

MO: Just buildings, all these barracks, and kind of wonder, what are they? Are we gonna live here? Where are we going? Things like that.

KL: Was it daytime?

MO: Yeah, it was daytime. And then you have to get your baggage and stuff like that, we had to sort of stand around and wait. You know, at my age at the time, that's not one of the things you do well, stand around and wait.

KL: I meant to ask you about the trip, how did you travel from...

MO: I think we went by train, yeah.

KL: Do you remember what the inside of the compartment was like?

MO: In the train? No. I do remember one of the trips, I don't know if it was from Merced to Amache or from Amache to Crystal City, or from Crystal City to Seattle, but the shades were drawn, all drawn down so you couldn't see out. That I do recall. I don't know which trip was what.

KL: Did you try to peek out?

MO: Yeah, we always tried to peek out. But you know, train's going by so fast that peeking out doesn't do much. You can't see anything.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.