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-01-0003

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KL: So did you go to school down in Dyess, you two older ones?

WJ: Yeah, all of us did.

JJ: I left in the tenth grade.

WJ: Yeah, he didn't graduate there.

DW: After my dad died, he and my mother moved to Memphis.

KL: Okay. What do you remember about the school there when you were in, like, first and second and third, in Dyess before you moved to Rohwer, the schools you went to?

WJ: Dyess I just barely started first grade there. I don't remember very much about it. Because before we went, my dad was working at Rohwer, but he wasn't sending family there. At the time they started, they didn't have any buildings done. And so we went to the home that we owned in North Little Rock on Park Hill.

DW: You went to a half a year or something.

WJ: I started in first grade there, I think finished first grade before we moved.

DW: I think we moved into the last half of a year, if I remember right, in North Little Rock before we went to the camp. And then we moved to the camp and then started school the following fall.

WJ: Well, I finished the first grade in North Little Rock.

DW: Oh, okay, yeah.

WJ: And then we went to second and third grade.

DW: You must have started first grade in Dyess, though.

WJ: I did.

DW: Oh, okay, all right.

WJ: That's what I'm saying.

DW: I missed that.

WJ: I started first grade there, then we moved back to Park Hill and I finished first grade there. Then we moved to Rohwer, and I went to second and third grade there, then started the fourth grade in Kelso.

DW: In Kelso, yes.

WJ: When they closed down the school in Rohwer.

DW: That was very interesting there, too. We went to a two-room school there.

WJ: And one of them was not a bathroom.

KL: Do you remember school at Dyess Colony?

DW: Yes. Let's see... you were in the first, so I was in the third, fourth. I remember a couple of teachers, and one in particular that I used to get teased all the time because I was a redhead. And then there was some boy that was in love with me or something -- this is one of those things that kids remember. I always went home for lunch, because we were close, we were in town. Everybody else brought their lunches. Well, one day I told Mother I wanted to stay and eat at school. And so I found out that the whole routine in this little fourth grade classroom I guess it was at that time was that we ate lunch in the room at the desk with the teacher, and she would read notes, or she'd read stories or whatever, and she would write her notes, and she'd read them while we're eating. And the day I went, all the notes were from this little boy who was in love with me because I was the little redheaded girl sitting in front of him. I was so embarrassed I never ate lunch at school again.

KL: Did she read the notes out loud?

DW: Yes, she read them in front of everybody in front of the class.

KL: Oh, my goodness.

DW: I never ate lunch there again. Then when we came back after the war, then I started seventh grade and went on through high school. So that was regular junior high and high school.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.