Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sumiko Yamauchi Interview
Narrator: Sumiko Yamauchi
Interviewer: Whitney Peterson
Location: Chula Vista, California
Date: July 23, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-ysumiko_2-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

WP: So did your family eat together, or it must have been difficult with your schedules.

SY: When we went into camp at the very first, we teenagers went wild. We'd run all over the place. You know how big Manzanar was. And so the mother got very, mother and fathers got very worried, because the kids were gone early in the morning. But you can go, no matter where you were, you can go to any mess hall to eat, you know. Or some of the kids would go to so-and-so block, because that chef can create food, whereas our chef prepared food and it was bland or it wasn't fancy or anything. So everybody was running every which way. Well the mess hall that had the better cook had more people in there, so therefore the people who lived in that block complained. Because when I got into getting my food, there wasn't anything left. So then the block manager got these complaints, mothers were complaining, "Our kids are running wild, we don't know where they are." And so they had come to the conclusion, you have to eat at your own mess hall, and you have to eat at a certain table that you're assigned to, so the family would eat together. And that took the fun out of everything.


SY: And so if you wanted to eat, for instance, if you were working out in the pig farm and you couldn't get to your own mess hall, then you could, you had to get an okay from this mess hall to say, "I'm going to eat at your mess hall," otherwise you couldn't eat there.

WP: Did you ever prepare food in your barracks apartment?

SY: We used to get the Sears & Roebuck in the back section, you know, where all the candies and everything were, and we used to get the candy, the flour, the sugar, we used to order those through the catalog, and we used to create this cake that we used to bake over the stove. Not the stove, the heater that we had. And yeah, we tried. We used to make these little cupcakes, we didn't have anything to put it into, but we put it on a metal... and it'd come out, this cupcake would turn out to be like a pancake, a small one, and it tasted good. [Laughs]

WP: So you made it on the oil stove?

SY: No. It's an oil stove, but we had this metal, like a pie plate type of a thing.

WP: Like a hotplate?

SY: It wasn't quite... it was a metal, and you just put it over that heater, and then, like I said, we didn't have any... so when you poured it, you poured it and it came out to be a pancake like, but it was good.

WP: Did you order anything else from the catalogs?

SY: Well, you know, four dollars a month don't go very far. [Laughs] Because there are certain things that you have to buy. Like my mother used to say, "Okay, you've got four dollars, you've got to buy your own toothpaste," you know, bobby pins, in those days you had to buy shampoo, whatever, those necessary things. So that four dollars didn't go very far, but we made do. It wasn't that bad.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.