Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: James T. Johnston - William R. Johnston - Dorothy J. Whitlock Interview
Narrators: James T. Johnston, William R. Johnston, Dorothy J. Whitlock
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Sedona, Arizona
Date: April 16, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-jjames_g-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: One other thing I wanted to ask about kind of the attitudes. Do you remember a change in attitudes in the towns, or in other local people toward the camp as it got later? Did the signs go away, for example?

DW: Yes, the signs went away.

WJ: The signs went away.

DW: And people were left, and people hired the men, they were really glad to get the labor, because there's a labor shortage, we have a war going on. So the attitude just seemed to be, I don't think they got real happy, happy friendly, but became accepting and no longer afraid.

WJ: More accepting.

DW: And they're utilizing this labor force that's available. Didn't some of the women work in housekeeping, they'd gone in with the men going to work? I don't know how that worked.

WJ: I really don't know that.

DW: I don't know either.

WJ: But I would suspect there'd be --

DW: Oh, no, this time they wouldn't have needed them because they have a lot of black people, and they would be taking their jobs.

JJ: I just remember reading this again, that the governor of Arkansas had some sort of restriction on being able to hire the leaving Japanese. He wanted them all out.

WJ: Yeah, at one time in the state, that was all, and they could have their camp there, but they could not, any of 'em be resettled in Arkansas. They had to leave the state when they left camp.

DW: I remember reading that, too.

WJ: That got weakened down, or maybe it was overturned or just kind of ignored, and several of 'em did stay.

DW: Oh, as a sideline to this, which it's still about Rohwer, but before I forget, my middle son lives in Lodi, just south of Sacramento. And they have a little museum in the train station in Lodi for evacuees from Lodi and some other surrounding, Stockton, that area, that were all sent to Rohwer.

KL: Oh, wow.

DW: Yeah, tied to that particular camp. And he was walking around town once, and he called me and he said, "Didn't you say Rohwer was the camp you were in?" And they had this little place. And it was just the area people, and he said there a lot of them have come back to the area. But they have a Rohwer display.

KL: It's funny how this comes back into later generations' lives.

DW: Right, I mean, down to my son.

WJ: My grandson -- and I hope I've got the right one -- I think it was Brian, the oldest grandson. No, you were telling about Jeff calling home wanting to know if your dad --

JJ: Oh, yes, my oldest son was, he was at that [inaudible], and he was in Chicago or somewhere, and one of their agents was Japanese ancestry. And they got to talking, and her parents had been relocated in the war.

DW: Small world type thing.

WJ: Yeah, I was thinking that maybe Brian had called about where my father had been, but it might have been you talking about Jeff.

KL: Is Jeff your son?

JJ: My son, yes. And he kept in contact with her for a while, and I think at one point she was going to come look at some of these pictures we had, but it never happened. But it was just kind of like a small world, that he would run into her just doing his job.

KL: Yeah, my aunt and uncle had some connections to... my aunt in Chicago, and my uncle grew up in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and stuff. And we found out later that the state fairgrounds where he would show cattle and stuff were an assembly center where people gathered, and she had a kid who was a year ahead of her in school outside of Chicago, who had been, his family had been in the camps, too.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.