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_2-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: When you arrived at Amache, did it drop you right inside the camp?

MO: No, I think they bussed us.

KL: And who met you when you got off the bus?

MO: I don't recall. I don't recall that. Probably the MPs.

KL: Do you remember the MPs well from Amache?

MO: Just the ones in the tower. I knew they were there, that's it.

KL: What did you think about their presence?

MO: I don't know. I guess I didn't like it. I guess I sort of... not resented it, but I didn't like it. But I knew they were there. We used to crawl through the fence every once in a while during the summer to go chase rattlesnakes, stuff like that, catch 'em.

KL: To catch them?

MO: Yeah, you just get a long stick with a rope attached to the end of it, and go around, then bring it back and give it to someone. Some people used to eat that.

KL: You'd kill it before you brought it back?

MO: Oh, yeah. But we wouldn't eat it; I wouldn't eat it. They said it was a delicacy, can you believe that?

KL: I can believe it. I probably wouldn't eat it either, though. [Laughs]

MO: Well, I guess it's like us eating sashimi.

KL: Uh-huh, or alligator.

MO: Yeah, who are we to say?

KL: What else did you do when you would go out?

MO: Let's see, that's about it, chased rattlesnakes. And then I joined a scouting outfit, and then we used to camp out there, outside of the fence. I remember one time we camped out there, and it rained. We were... I guess I told you that we were in this area right next to the sewage treatment plant. And they had this one place dug out, it had four walls, and maybe it was about that deep, cleared out, they were going to make something out of it. But we camped in one of those things, and it rained like heck, and the water just accumulated in that thing. And we were sleeping there, and we had these comforters, GI-issued comforters, and wake up, and kind of floating inside this tent.

KL: Did you have a tent or anything? Oh, you did.

MO: Yeah. And I said, "What the heck?" And look out the tent, it's coming down cats and dogs, and we're floating in there, so I just got out of there and went home because I was just a stone's throw from where we were camping. So I went home and slept there. But I remember that, that was kind of funny thing to remember.

KL: Did you go into town ever?

MO: No, no.

KL: Did any of your family?

MO: I didn't even have a desire to go. I remember on the scouting trip, we went to Mesa Verde National Park, they let us out, and we went to that national park. I remember fishing for trout -- you could see the trout, fishing in the creek there. We can't catch 'em because we don't have any equipment or fishing apparatus. But it was fun walking through the national park where the Indians used to live.

KL: Did you see some of the dwellings?

MO: Yeah, we walked through there, and we saw this mummy. I remember the mummy's name, it was Esther, they used to call it Esther, and she was laying there.

KL: Did you camp in Mesa Verde?

MO: Camp there? We might have, yeah. Because it's quite a distance from one end of Colorado to the other.

KL: Yeah.

MO: So we must have camped there. But I remember that trip, yeah.

KL: Did you stop anywhere else on the way?

MO: I don't recall.

KL: Not hot springs?

MO: No. [Laughs]

KL: But you said you saw some of the dwellings? Did you take a ranger tour?

MO: No, I don't recall a ranger taking us anywhere. I guess they just turned us loose and let us go. It was fun. I kind of wonder how these people live there in the cliffs. It was fun.

KL: Do you have any other memories that were weird to you? Like you were talking about chasing the rattlesnakes, are there any other animals about Amache that stick out, or plants?

MO: I think there were coyotes, but other than that, no.

KL: How did you know there were coyotes?

MO: You hear 'em, you hear 'em. In Texas, too, you hear 'em.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.