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

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: I'm Kristen Luetkemeier conducting an oral history interview for the Manzanar National Historic Site. Today is April 16, 2012, I'm here with members of the Johnston family in Los Abrigados Hotel in Sedona, Arizona. And before we begin, do I have your permission to conduct the interview and keep it in our files on site and make it accessible to researchers and members of the public?

JJ: Yes, you do.

KL: Okay, thanks. And I'm going to ask you all to just introduce yourselves and also say the year that you were born, if you would.

WJ: Okay, I'm William, I was born in 1936.

DW: Well, I'm Dorothy Johnston Whitlock, married name, and I was born in 1934.

JJ: I'm James Johnston, and I was born in 1939.

KL: Okay. So who were your parents? What were your parents' names, and a little bit about their background?

WJ: Our father was Ray D. Johnston. He was raised, really, in Cushman, Arkansas, but grew up more really in Batesville in Independence County.

DW: He was born in 1898, I never forgot that. It was like he was in the past century.

KL: Yeah.

WJ: But went to college at University of Arkansas, got his bachelor's at University of Iowa.

DW: No, his bachelor's, or his master's?

WJ: Master's.

DW: You said bachelor's. [Laughs]

WJ: But started working with the USDA, he was working in, was County Agent in Stone County at the time he met my mother, but he was County Agent of Searcy County. And, of course, my father's parents lived in Batesville, and my mother, who graduated from University of Missouri, her name was Willie Bloomer, Willie Jasper. But any rate, she had gotten a degree in home economics and took a job with the Home Administration Agency in Independence County in Arkansas. So she was based out in Batesville, and my dad would come home to visit his parents and they met, and this is the result.

KL: [Laughs] And so the meeting went well, huh?

DW: And she was born in Cassville, Missouri, in 1905.

KL: Okay. So they both had background related to agriculture.

DW: Yes. What was the next part of the question?

WJ: You want me to just follow up with how my dad got to Camp Rohwer?

KL: Well, tell me a little bit about, do you have memories of your grandparents, of your parents' parents and their...

WJ: My mother's father passed away before she was born, two or three months before she was born. So none of us know him other than stories and a few photographs. But my mother's mother lived with us a good deal of the time.

DW: Her later years when she was older.

WJ: When she was older, she lived with my mother after my father passed away. But she, Zuma Bloomer was her name. Really remarkable lady, knitted and crocheted everything, very straight-laced as a rule. Us kids could get by with a little something every once in a while, but not much. My father's mother and father, I can barely remember my father's father, my grandfather on this side.

DW: Oh, I have memories.

WJ: He was kind of short, robust fellow, liked to eat. My grandmother, Sally was her name, he always called her Miss Sally, regardless of where they were or what situation, his wife was Miss Sally to him. She was pretty much an invalid, she was an artist, she painted quite a bit, watercolors, did China painting. But she died...

DW: Oh, we were in high school.

WJ: Yeah, 1950, somewhere in there?

DW: She lived with us, too, for a while, at different times, both our grandmothers lived with us when we were in school. But she passed away in a nursing home, actually. Her care got pretty excessive. Mother's mother lived when she, you were still at home [addressing JJ], us were gone.

JJ: I was in dental school when she passed away.

DW: When she passed away, they were living in Memphis. But to go back to Grandfather Johnston, he was a Buster Brown salesman and he sold shoes all over that part of the world, I guess. But he was a very active Shriner. He went to all the Shriner conventions all over the United States, and our favorite things as kids, because he brought back all these ribbons and playing with that, I remember that.

WJ: And his sword.

DW: And his sword, and his Shriner's hat. Okay, I don't know what we missed in there, but that...

KL: Tell me all of their names. I think you said some of them.

WJ: Well, let's see. Mother's father was William.

DW: William Jasper.

WJ: That wasn't it.

DW: Yeah, that's why she got her name. Mother's dad was William Jasper Bloomer, and she had an older brother and sister, and she was pregnant with my mother when he passed away with typhoid fever. And so she, if it was a boy it was going to be William Jasper, and it was girl, so she named her Willie Jasper.

WJ: Okay. I didn't think he was going to name her Jasper.

DW: Yeah, no, that was where the whole thing was going... whatever baby came out was going to be William or Willie because he was gone.

KL: Yeah.

DW: That's what I wanted to add. Zuma Bloomer not only was remarkable in many ways, but when she lost her husband while she was pregnant, she has two young children...

WJ: Three.

DW: Well, three, but the baby got there, yeah. She went back to teaching and taught school while they were living in Cassville. Somewhere in there, when the middle child, which was a sister, was playing the piano, she was probably about sixteen, I think.

WJ: A little younger.

DW: A little younger.

WJ: Twelve.

DW: But she was playing the piano in their house and a train came loose on the siding, and a car jumped the siding and went through their house and killed her sister sitting there playing the piano.

JJ: The name of that train was the Ozark Sparkler.

DW: Oh my, I'd forgotten that part.

JJ: And the company, because of the liability of this one wreck, declared bankruptcy, ceased to exist.

DW: And then I know that it was difficult because she still had two children, and as soon as both those children were ready for college, she quit her job as a teacher, moved to Columbia, and got a job in the registrar's office to enable her children to go to college. She was quite remarkable.

JJ: And she had that unusual name of Zuma, and it was given to her by her mother who had read this, some sort of novel, and the heroine in it was named Zuma.

KL: Oh, okay.

JJ: So she picked that name up.

WJ: I hadn't heard that before.

DW: I had, but I had forgotten. See, out of all of us, we'll remember.

WJ: We'd all make one of us. [Laughs]

DW: Well, and then we could answer one of the questions I remember which was how did we get to Arkansas: we were all born there.

KL: Yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: And your parents met in Batesville, you said, is that right? Okay. Did you then, did they settle in Batesville?

WJ: Well, that's where their home, they made it, was in Greenwood.

DW: Greenwood. And actually, I was the first child, and I was born in Fort Smith at the hospital because Greenwood was a little bitty town.

JJ: Right out of Fort Smith.

DW: Yeah. So the hospital was Fort Smith. Then where were you guys born?

WJ: I was born in Little Rock, [inaudible] at that time.

JJ: I was born in Little Rock also. Actually, they were probably living in Dyess at the time, and Mother went to Little Rock to have me.

DW: Yes, you were. That was, we had a place in Little Rock, and when Dad went to do the work at the Rohwer camp...

JJ: We went to Dyess first.

WJ: Yeah, he was at Dyess first.

DW: Oh, okay, I know, but we still had the house, we kept renting it out, kept going back and forth to Little Rock.

KL: Did he always work for the extension service?

WJ: He worked for the USDA in one form or another. He had switched from the county...

DW: Home County Agency.

WJ: ...division into the Farm and Home Security, I think it was. It was the same thing as the... what do they call it now?

DW: Farm and Home Administration.

JJ: That's what it was then, FHA, Farm and Home Administration.

DW: Yeah, Administration.

WJ: Farm and Home Administration.

JJ: I'm not sure what it's called now, maybe it's the same thing.

WJ: The name's changed a little bit.

DW: He basically worked for the federal government.

WJ: Loans, making loans for farmers, bulk crop loans and to buy land. And then they got into just home loans. Even now, it's even the non-farmers.

DW: Well then probably the most unusual place we lived in was Dyess, because he was the administrator of one of the WPA programs, forty acres and a mule. And so we lived there.

KL: I've been to Dyess, that's why it's familiar. That's where Johnny Cash was born.

DW: We know him. We went to school with his siblings, he was two years older than me, and we all were in class with the other Cash kids.

KL: Oh my gosh, did you live on the bigger properties, or were you in town?

DW: We were in town and they were out on one of the...

WJ: We were town, which was, certainly can be considered bigger properties.

DW: Yeah, the whole place was a hundred people, I guess, in town. Most of it was the acreage where Johnny Cash was.

WJ: It was divided up into forty acres.

DW: Well, your wife Nita lived on one of the forty acre places.

KL: So your dad was one of the administrators there.

DW: He was the administrator.

WJ: He was the director of that office, or the supervisor of that office.

JJ: [Inaudible] in government positions, was the project director of Rohwer and at Dyess.

WJ: In fact, he was a project director at Dyess, was recruited for Rohwer. When we left Rohwer we went back to Dyess, and he went on with the job there.

JJ: He actually, they closed down the relocation... what did they call the Home Administration project there?

KL: Was it Farm Securities Administration?

WJ: Dyess County Project, wasn't it?

JJ: When he retired, he and Austin Chapman were closing down the government project there, and getting the government out of that business.

DW: Because people were gradually taking over all their homes.

WJ: Then it became just Farm Home Administration making loans to everybody. He was the county supervisor of that, which was located in Dyess.

KL: Did your mom work at Dyess Colony, too, or other places? Was she advising people in home economics?

WJ: No, not until...

DW: After...

WJ: After that she worked teaching home economics in Dyess school.

DW: She went back to teaching after Dad died. Before that, she was basically, after I came along, I guess, she was a homemaker.

WJ: Which is a perfect job. I have a good friend whose wife had to go to the hospital. He came back after visiting her and said, "You know, I lied to you all the other day." Said, "You asked me if she had a job, and I said no." He said, "She's got a hell of a job now that I have to do it." [Laughs]

KL: Yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

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.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: Well, let's go kind of... let's talk about the move to Rohwer and how you found out that you were going to go there. What do you remember about your parents telling you you were gonna...

WJ: We, of course, were told when we left Dyess...

DW: We went to Little Rock.

WJ: Mother and us kids moved to Little Rock, North Little Rock. My dad showed up on the weekends. They explained why he was doing it, he was involved in the camp, Rohwer.

DW: Japanese relocation camp, we understood that.

WJ: It wasn't completed yet, so we couldn't go yet.

DW: They told us that the Japanese were being moved from the coast inland and put in camps, and that we would be living in a camp with the Japanese relocated people. And so we kind of understood that, but didn't make any big deal out of it.

KL: Had you been around Japanese people before?

DW: No, we lived out in Dyess. You don't even, you're in the middle of Arkansas, cotton farming country, and there were no black people even in Dyess. I don't know how that discrimination happened...

WJ: There was one. Don't you remember?

DW: Oh, and Snowball, his son, who was black, but they did yardwork.

WJ: They didn't live in that house.

DW: No, and they didn't go to school with us. I always thought that was an isolated --

WJ: He was probably the handyman for the project, you know, keep up the administration, he'd mow the grass at the administration building. He also would stand at one end of the lane, I'd ride my bicycle, but couldn't start off or stop. And so he'd stand on one end and Mother would stand on the other, they'd turn me around like that.

DW: Anyway, I've always thought Dyess was a little strange to live in, cotton plantation country, and have no blacks within your, incorporated -- wasn't incorporated, but your area.

WJ: There is now, but there wasn't.

DW: Yeah, but it wasn't then.

KL: And you had been around black people before you moved, it was more before you went to Dyess?

WJ: Just occasional.

DW: I had not.

WJ: In Little Rock you'd see 'em. We didn't have any in the schools.

DW: No, my introduction to black people was when we went to Rohwer, because my best friend Barbara lived outside in the little town of Rohwer, her dad was the big plantation man. And Barbara and I used to go visit with black people, and they had black servants. But that was where black people were around as well as Japanese.

JJ: I have no memory of any of this leading up to go to Rohwer, I was just too young. My first memories, really, clear memories are after Rohwer when we moved back to Dyess in the second grade, stayed there through the tenth grade. But even then, it was still, there were no blacks at all. And I remember being very conflicted when we moved to Memphis, and the black issue there was so foreign to me. I didn't have a feeling one way or the other, because I had just never been around black people. And, of course, it was really still tough back then, back of the bus...

KL: When did you move to Memphis?

JJ: When I was in the tenth grade. So born in '39, we went...

DW: It was after the war.

KL: Early '50s.

DW: When did you graduate?

JJ: '57, so moved in '55.

DW: '55, yeah. Because I was already at the university.

JJ: But it was, I remember being very shocked at the way things were. And I still remain very... I don't know the right word, uninformed, I guess. I just read The Help, and what was going on in Greenwood, Mississippi, was, you know, I'm in the tenth, eleventh grade, and they're killing people back there, and I didn't even know it. I never realized how really bad the situation was, and it was because of my Dyess background.

DW: We grew up really in --

JJ: There weren't any black people, period.

DW: In terms of two, if you think of two very unique segregated environments. And what I remember from the Rohwer school experience was I learned to be a minority, and I'd never had that experience. When we moved back to Dyess, then I'm kind of the top of the rung, because Dad's the boss. And here, you are surrounded, well, all our friends were Japanese. There was one little Caucasian girl that was almost my age, I can't remember her name.

WJ: I can remember one, this is me in second grade, one of the little Japanese boys called me a Caucasian. I went home to Mama and cried, you know.

DW: [Laughs] You didn't know what a Caucasian was.

WJ: He was calling me these names, you know

KL: What was the context? Was he teasing you, or was he just saying...

WJ: You know, he just, that was his remark, "You're a Caucasian and I'm Asian or Japanese," or whatever. But I didn't know what a Caucasian meant. I thought he was calling me a dirty name.

KL: What did your mom say?

DW: She explained what "Caucasian" was.

WJ: She explained what the word meant.

DW: But I've wondered often if we held any different mindsets growing up in kind of extremes of being a minority and being a majority with no blacks in the South. I mean, we didn't get normal impressions.

KL: I don't know what "normal" is, either. I mean, things are so different from age to age.

WJ: Like back then, normal for that part of Arkansas, certainly no blacks was not normal, and having Japanese was not normal. So that was totally an abnormal thing. But I don't know as it bothered us at all.

DW: It seemed fine. I remember, though, I do remember being very impressed when you left the camp to go into McGehee or somewhere shopping, we went through gates with armed Marines, guns on their shoulders, passes, we're in the fences with barbed wire on the top, guard towers on the corners. We all live in army barracks, everybody. Two families to a barrack for us --

WJ: Oh, two for us.

DW: Two for the bosses, and all the Japanese lived in three families to a barracks.

WJ: Three and four, some of them.

DW: But you drive through all this guarded stuff to get out, to look down. And you get into McGehee when we first moved, the camp was set up, and every shop window there's signs written, "No dirty Japanese here," "No filthy Chink," I mean, all these slurs and anger and hate and fear. And I'm sitting there thinking, "I live inside that fence, they aren't killing me. I'm going to school with them every day." Our, the gal that helped Mother in the house was Japanese, your best two little buddies were always at the house, and they're all Japanese. But you get another slant on fear and prejudice, because you see it happening and you know it's not a real thing.

KL: And that was your first exposure to that, too, it sounds like.

WJ: Well, I think everyone in the United States after Pearl Harbor, got exposed, anywhere they were, even just the nightly news, you got a lot of hate for the Japanese expressed, and felt by a lot of people.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: Do you have memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor or learning of it?

DW: Oh, I do.

KL: What are your memories of it?

DW: I just remember, first I remember there was a lot of silence and tension and all radios were running. And then I remember actually hearing the President's voice. But I was still just encompassing it, but I knew it was serious and major and scary. I do remember that. And then when we lived in the camp, weekly, we did see newsreels of all the war events.

WJ: We stayed up with the war progress, both in the Pacific and in Europe. You know, as a second and third grader, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention, talk about the bombs blow up, and then films of that. But I didn't understand the hate that everyone was feeling for the Japanese. I was going to school with them every day, and they're just folks. Some of 'em couldn't speak English, that was a handicap, but most of 'em did.

KL: Among the children, too?

WJ: Yes. There were a few kids that did not speak any.

DW: Oh, I don't remember any kids that didn't speak English in my class.

WJ: There were some in mine. Maybe they just didn't want to talk to me, I don't know. [Laughs]

DW: I was gonna say, this is the way they would really get to you in the minority status. Most of the kids went to school all day, the Japanese children, and then they would go to Japanese classes at night if they were short on Japanese. Because the grandparents that were with them were totally all Japanese-speaking. So they kept up with the language to communicate with their own family. And when they wanted to shut you out, they'd speak Japanese and they'd giggle and point to you, and you don't know what they were saying. But they were just making fun of you. Kids are kids.

KL: Yeah, yeah. A secret language is the best thing.

DW: So you learn real quick, okay, I'm the oddball out here.

KL: Where was the Japanese language school? Was it in the school buildings?

DW: I think they had them just in the... no, it was private with families, and all the kids did not go, but some did, I know. Because most of the, even in the fourth and fifth, were fluent, or at least they were when they wanted to be around me. It could have been bad and I wouldn't have known the difference.

WJ: They might have been speaking terrible Japanese, but the other kids understood, and then we didn't know what they were saying.

DW: Right, exactly.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: Tell me more about your home in Rohwer. You said it was a barracks and there were two administrative families?

WJ: It was tarpaper covered.

DW: No, black army barracks with tarpaper on the outside.

WJ: Wood frame building, one story. Had a stove that burned coal for heat, central fan...

DW: No, you just said coal burning stove.

WJ: Heat radiating from it for most of the house.

KL: Were there multiple rooms in it?

WJ: Oh, yeah.

DW: It wasn't very big.

WJ: No, we had three rooms, bedroom, kitchen...

DW: We had living room, kitchen, I'm trying to figure out, yeah, I think all of us kids had a bedroom.

WJ: No.

DW: There wasn't room for three bedrooms.

WJ: You had a bedroom, Mother and Dad had a bedroom, and Jim and I shared a bedroom.

DW: No, we did that in Dyess. Dyess, that was...

WJ: There was one in the middle of back side of the house was Jim and I, the one on the far corner was yours, and one on the front corner was Mother and Dad.

DW: Do you realize how small those rooms had to be?

WJ: Yeah.

DW: I was going to show a picture of the barracks, they're just normal army barracks. They might be fifteen feet wide, but that's all.

KL: Who were your neighbors? It was set up like a duplex?

WJ: Oh, well, Tad Memorias lived in the other end with us for a while.

DW: Okay, where's that map of the camp that we found? But anyway, all of the Caucasian employees that were in the administration of the camp, and some of the army people, we all lived in a separate section of units, away from all the central blocks where all the Japanese lived.

WJ: There was one road that kind of divided the Japanese residency area...

DW: It's all in an open area and you're adjacent to each other.

KL: There was no fencing between you?

DW: No, there was no fencing between or anything. But the Japanese lived three families, I mean, they really were crowded, and we had two families to a barracks. Oh, this wouldn't help, would it? Anyway, overall, if that shows on the camera. The sections up here were with the administration and the army people, these blocks down in here were where the Japanese were. It was a central auditorium for gatherings, but each block had a, like a cube of barracks and in the center was a central mess hall, all the cooking was done centrally, had a laundry room and showers and all that. But so it was sort of isolated, but there were no fences, it was just roads.

KL: We were listening to an interview with the child of one of the administrators at Manzanar on the way here, and he remembers his parents saying, "Don't go into the Japanese section of the camp without an invitation," kind of stick to the administrative area. Were you guys back and forth a lot?

DW: Well, as kids we did more, but I remember we never went to activities in the Japanese section without an invitation. For instance, my dad took us... you guys didn't remember, maybe it was me, but I went to a Buddhist church gathering. We had our Methodist, I mean, our church, too. But we went to eat once in the mess hall, but we were invited. And I remember my dad told me when we got there, he says, "You will eat what you're served," and we did have raw fish, which I thought was horrible. And I remember there was an old gentleman who walked the gravel roads and picked up stones, we were talking about him the other day. He had the eye and polished 'em and made beautiful stones, polished stones, lapidary work. But we talked about him once, and were asking our dad, "Why is he picking up all these stones?" Well, he got permission from him, he asked him if he could bring us to visit him and see the stones. And we went to other people that did things, but I think he always got permission. I mean, it's polite.

WJ: Yeah, I didn't mean we'd visit, I walked around the road to get to the other end of the camp.

DW: Yeah, we were kids, we went everywhere.

WJ: We rode our bikes or whatever, went up and down all the roads.

DW: Right, we weren't segregated in any way. And the kids that you played with, I just remember, because I ended up playing a lot with a little Caucasian girl that lived there, because we were about the same size or age. But Tojo and Osimoto, they would spend more time in our house than they did theirs, I guess. We all just ran free.

WJ: We'd circle the camp trying the edges. [Laughs]

KL: Testing it, or just kind of exploring?

WJ: Just exploring. Kids... maybe a mile square, but at least a mile on each side. That's a lot of distance for a second grader to cover.

DW: But we always went to the places we weren't supposed to if you're kids, where the army parked all their trucks and stuff, we used to go flying around, that was forbidden, but we'd go explore.

WJ: By the time I was in third grade, they'd quit posting guards in the guard towers.

DW: That's what I was going to comment about, yeah.

WJ: We played in the guard towers.

KL: Oh, up in the platforms?

WJ: Yeah, each guard tower had a little platform and walked around this little, going inside.

DW: And we weren't supposed to then, because they were afraid we'd fall out and get hurt. But the one that did change dramatically by the time we left, and we were there, what, two years? Something like that. The Japanese were being allowed out of the camp, the guards were gone off the gates, they worked for the local plantations, farmers. The women... everybody, there was a lot more freedom. Everybody quit panicking, but it took them that first... I just remember the first impulse of fear.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

WJ: The one mix that I remember Mother talking about, of course, Mother was home demonstration, she was impressed with some of the flower arranging the Japanese ladies were doing. And McGehee had a home demonstration club.

DW: A garden club.

WJ: Garden club, whatever it was. And so she got a group of the Japanese women and got permission to take 'em out of the camp and into McGehee. They got snubbed big time at this meeting. They wouldn't talk to 'em, wouldn't pay any attention to what they were trying to show 'em about, really didn't give them much opportunity to show anything about flower arranging. And mother came back just terribly upset.

DW: She just lugged up and brought 'em home.

WJ: Hurt and everything else.

DW: She probably tried that too quickly.

WJ: Yeah, she did.

KL: Was it early in the camp?

WJ: It was early, a little too early to... she could have probably done it the last year we were there --

DW: At the last year of the camp.

WJ: -- but she did it in the first year we were there.

KL: Did someone invite her or give her permission, do you think? Do you think that person...

DW: Oh, somebody invited her to the garden club?

KL: From the garden club?

WJ: I think so.

DW: That person was mistaken.

WJ: Yeah, she thought it'd be acceptable and the membership didn't. And after that, Mother saw what it was, and I probably didn't know if somebody said McGehee.

JJ: Well, you know, of course, I have no memories of any of this, but I've read enough to know that it wasn't just the fear of the Japanese that was part of the hatred. This part of the delta is so poor and so poverty-stricken that the people, the Japanese in camp, as I understand, really were living and leading a better life than the people outside the camp.

DW: And certainly a lot of the poor black people.

WJ: We had electricity in the camp, and an awful lot of the surrounding area didn't.

DW: Well, and Rohwer is a little town, whether it was a store and a post office. And then my friend Barbara Gould, her dad had this plantation and owned all the country around there including Rohwer. And so you had sharecroppers who were black and very poor, and didn't have a lot. Barbara and I went visiting, and she knew all of them, and so she'd take me around. But they lived very, very poorly, and so yeah, to their eyes, the Japanese were...

WJ: There were some rumors that because there was meat rationing and basic food rationing, and all the rationing during the war, locals thought that the Japanese camp was getting more of a share than they should.

KL: Did you hear your folks talking about that?

DW: Well, I remember Dad talking about it, Mother too, because we were on rations and so was the camp like everybody else.

WJ: Just the same as everybody else was. And the camp mess halls, for how many people they had eating at their mess hall, that's how many coupons you had.

DW: That's how many coupons you had.

KL: Those rumors were present in the Owens Valley also.

DW: It'd feel like, okay, they're over there behind all this, they've got things better than we do.

KL: Less so, I think. I mean, I've heard other people talk about that contrast that you speak of, of the poverty outside of the camp, and electricity and clothing and food.

DW: Yeah, we did actually in that standpoint had a better standard of living than certainly the sharecroppers there around Rohwer.

KL: When you would go visit sharecropping families, what was the reception of you like, and of your friend?

DW: Well, the reason I could go was because I went with Barbara. And her dad was their boss, and she could go anywhere, and she knew all of 'em, and we'd just go, and so it was always great. In fact, the only time I ever really got in trouble, Barbara and I, well, several times, serious trouble. We played a joke on their black cook, liked to scare her into a heart attack. Anyway, I think we were grounded like a week.

KL: What did you do?

DW: They had a great big kitchen like a plantation did, and the stairs from the attic came down into the kitchen. And Barbara and I had been up playing in the attic, and we had found this long stuffed cotton snake. We slipped down the stairway and Buela was over the sink doing something, and we just slid it across the floor, the linoleum floor. Well, it just did one of those totally unexpected things, but it went perfectly over, hit her leg, and wrapped around her leg. She went straight up, the dishes went flying, she shrieked. I thought... she did, but Barbara's mother would never have spanked us, but if she ever would have, that would have been it. And then we're crying because we didn't mean to scare her that badly, and Barbara, for instance, loved chicken feet for some reason. And so whenever Beula cooked chicken, she always fried the feet for Barbara and me. I mean, she was just like our mother. And so then when we scared her so badly, but, I mean, that's one of the worst trouble we ever got into was scaring our...

WJ: I'd say you weren't caught every time.

DW: No, we usually got caught, but we got in big trouble one time. Somebody told Barbara that if you picked the honeybees off the honeysuckle, the big bumblebee things, if they had a spot on their forehead they couldn't sting you. Well, because it was like walking on fire, because we had no fear of the bees, we never got stung, but we started catching them. And then we thought, "Now what do you we do with these?" We filled her mother's Lincoln with bees and forgot to turn 'em out. And she went out the next day to go to church, or no, just... they were all going to church, of course, they were Catholics, they were going to church. Well, I don't think we ever... we went in another car, and we had the job of getting all those bees out of the car. We got in trouble for that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Where were you during the days? Where did you spend your days at Rohwer?

JJ: I just don't have memory.

DW: I can tell you.

JJ: I have flash memories of being in our backyard playing with siblings and our dog we had. But I don't have any clear memories at all of Rohwer, none. I was just too young.

DW: You were just really small. Well, I can remember because we didn't have a yard as yard. There wasn't any grass to mow, it was dirt. And we had a little swing out back, and one time we lost... was it you, or I think we lost Jim when he was really little and we were really worried because he's two. And Mother had the whole block, we were all looking, and he had a found a cardboard box, and you were inside that box.

JJ: I remember hearing this story, but I don't remember.

DW: You went to sleep or whatever. We like never found him, and he was sleeping in this box. But you were little; he wasn't allowed to go very far.

JJ: Well, I'll be four, I guess. I was born '39 and this is '43 when the camp got going.

DW: No, that's when we were almost... we went there in '41. No, '43, you're right. Well, you would have been four, yeah, you weren't two.

JJ: Yeah. I was old enough to get out and wander around, but I didn't have flash memories.

DW: I don't think Mother let you wander.

JJ: And over the years, they've even faded.

KL: Were there other young kids, toddlers and school-age kids in the administrative section?

WJ: Not a lot, because there wasn't that many couples. About ten, fifteen families at the most.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

DW: Do you remember when we used to, we had a little, like, rec. hall in our area, and that's, it wasn't very big, but it's where we saw the newsreels and gatherings.

WJ: Movie if they had one. You going to bring up the community dances we had there?

DW: Yes, because there weren't many kids, and so the parents, they wanted to entertain us, so we'd have dances. Well, first place, you had a four year old dancing with a ten year old, and you have girls with girls... we didn't have the right things, mix. But yeah, do you remember that?

WJ: I think Mother was probably instrumental in setting that up.

DW: Well, she probably played the piano for us, too. We used records.

WJ: And, of course, Daddy used to dance with everyone that was there. If you went to the dance, he danced with everyone.

KL: Your dad did, you said?

WJ: Yes.

DW: And they had dances, camp-wide, later. But that didn't go quite as well, because a lot of the older Japanese, they were too conservative.

WJ: Reserved. But the thing I remember --

DW: The kids weren't.

WJ: We had one every...

DW: Month or something.

WJ: One every month, Friday or something every month.

DW: On Fridays.

WJ: Any rate, the last dance, the boy had to take the girl he was dancing with home.

DW: I didn't remember that.

KL: Did you plan strategically for the last dance?

WJ: No. I didn't care who I walked home or if I walked somebody home, it doesn't matter to me. It did in one way because there were two streets that we lived on. We lived on this end of this street, and this girl had to walk home, they were on the other end of the other street. And so we had to walk around the block to get home, but there's no streetlights, so it's dark.

DW: It's very dark. [Laughs]

WJ: And I remember thinking that this was the worst thing that ever happens to me, had to make that walk in the dark by myself.

DW: Dark by myself, yeah.

KL: What were you worried about?

WJ: Boogers.

DW: The boogeyman.

WJ: The boogeyman getting me. I wasn't worried about Japanese, if that's what you're wondering, no, I wasn't.

KL: No, I just wondered.

DW: You know, I thought about another thing --

WJ: You hear your own footsteps because you're walking on gravel, it sounds like somebody walking behind you. So you walk a little faster, they get --

DW: Well, you remember the games we used to play up around, we're out there doing this stuff, but one of them, I remember, we're looking for spies, and somebody was trying to --

KL: You kids would play with each other?

DW: Yeah. And the other kids around, but worrying about... it was funny because I remember one time we were worrying about finding some tracks that looked like they might have been the rising sun, so maybe there were some Japanese spies getting into the camp. We weren't worried about people in the camp, this was a foreigner of some kind. I thought that was weird, too, they were thinking about it. But at the time it didn't seem strange.

KL: That's what was on your mind, I'm sure.

DW: Yeah, we were thinking, "This is the enemy, this is the Japanese symbol," but that wasn't, it wasn't a camp person, this was a foreigner that was going to break in to the camp, I don't know. Children.

KL: Were the dances, did people come from... did Japanese American kids come to the dances?

WJ: At first it was strictly just the Caucasian personnel.

DW: It was just in our little block.

WJ: And people from within the camp, nobody from out of the camp. And I really don't know if it ever changed anything about outside the camp.

DW: I don't think so either. But later, it did relax a lot, because we had a lot of Japanese teenagers, and they started having dances in the big gymnasium.

WJ: We went to dances in the gymnasium, yeah.

DW: Yeah. The one that we had there, the ones that we had there in the Caucasian compound or whatever you want to call it, was a very small building and was where we'd see newsreels or have any gatherings, a potluck or a dance or something. But they had bigger gatherings in the big auditorium or what it was, community center.

WJ: Community center.

KL: And you went to some of those, too, you said?

DW: Yes. That's where we went to movies a lot.

WJ: Went to movies a lot.

DW: And I remember watching, or getting to go by, I could hear the music, but we were too young to go to the dances, because that was for the teenagers, you know. We weren't that big.

KL: Did they seem excited?

DW: Yeah, we kind of wanted to go. Even in high school, now, see, I didn't get to experience that, but I remember they had like the proms, and they had a queen and all this stuff, you know, they did the usual high school things.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

WJ: We've got a picture in there somewhere...

JJ: There was an annual that they put out.

DW: Yeah, the annual shows a lot of that. Yeah, it's sort of like... you were too young to get in any of it. Bill and I got into the upper elementary, but it would have been very interesting to have been a teenager. Maybe bad, but the teenagers...

WJ: I think this whole experience, say, from twelve to seventeen or eighteen, it would have certainly...

DW: We'd have a lot better memories.

WJ: We'd have a lot better memories. And then maybe we would have learned a little more or understood a little more. I think, thinking about it since we have, since we were [inaudible], my wife and have a little, I won't say a friend, but an acquaintance at Pocahontas that wrote her doctoral thesis on the school at Rohwer. I think I lost the name of the paper right, but I'll get that to you if you want it. But she was really critical of the school system. And when they started out, I think the chairs were, as she said, sawed off sections of tree stumps, you know, for kids.

DW: Well, yeah.

WJ: Nothing came with any furniture. People moved into houses and they got four walls.

DW: I remember reading Dad's report and then him talking about it, too, they brought in the first Japanese to that camp on railroad cars, and they had what they could carry in a suitcase, and they sat on the side of the road and the barracks weren't even finished. The people had to help, they kind of, I guess, makeshift, some way to feed everybody, but they had to practically build their own housing. It was not... it was done in haste. [Laughs]

KL: And the same was true of the schools, you said?

DW: Yeah, I mean, things just wouldn't have been equipped, really.

WJ: But the lady -- and I talked to her one night -- before she published the book, I'm sure it was already written and through. But I told her, I said, "You just don't understand how primitive the schools were in that part of rural Arkansas." Because we talked about having to start fourth grade for me and...

DW: Sixth for me.

WJ: ...sixth for you, part of the year in Kelso, a little town.

DW: Little town that had a two-room school.

WJ: Two-room school. If you wanted a drink of water, you had to bring a jug of water from home because the pump was broke. The bathroom was an outhouse. You had zero teaching aids, I mean, lucky to have a table and chairs.

DW: We had desks, I can remember that.

WJ: But she was complaining that -- the lady that wrote the book -- was complaining that the school was underperforming, and underequipped and everything else. The school was rated as high a rating as you could get in Arkansas.

KL: I know your dad included that, and I think I said in the questions that I had listened to some interviews who went to school in Rohwer, and they repeated that, that they felt like it was a better education.

WJ: You didn't get, unless you were maybe one of...

DW: In a private school in Arkansas in those days.

WJ: Private school, or Park Hill where we...

DW: Well, Park Hill was pretty good, yeah.

WJ: We didn't have a very good equipped school, but McGehee didn't have the things we had in Rohwer.

DW: Well, we had some creative teachers, I remember that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: Yeah, I wanted to ask about your memories of teachers or activities in class.

WJ: I think my second grade teacher's name was Miss Lowe. Don't have a clue about the first name.

DW: I can't remember my teachers' names. I can't remember any --

KL: Were they from Arkansas?

DW: I don't know.

WJ: You know, they drew in people to staff the camps from all over the government agencies. Lot of them were slowing down and were kind of closing down, so they had excess personnel, and then CCC and WPA. Teachers, I don't remember exactly where they came from, but they got some excellent teachers. I think some of the teachers --

JJ: That was, I remember reading...

WJ: -- it was a better-paying job than a lot of --

DW: You didn't remember, but you read that.

JJ: I do remember reading that there was a big rift within the education of Arkansas because the camps paid better than the rural...

WJ: The rural school districts did.

JJ: And the good teachers were drawn to the camps, both at Jerome and Rohwer, to teach. So I think it all adds up, probably those schools were better equipped and doing a better job of education than the rural schools in Arkansas were. But I'm just reading these, this pay disparity was a big thing.

WJ: Yeah, that drew in better teachers, I think.

JJ: And then added to the bitterness against the camp, too.

DW: And Bill and I both experienced, when we finished, we left Kelso and went to North Little Rock, we were fourth grade to sixth grade. And we were both way behind in our classes, but I think it was Kelso. I mean, we lost all that year of education, because I remember being very challenged and always, I kind of liked school, did all kinds of good things. I think we had very good teachers, yeah. But Kelso was, we just kind of survived.

WJ: Another thing that... she kind of complained that the books at the schools in camps, in Rohwer camp particularly, because that was what her thesis was about, tried to indoctrinate the kids that America was good and Japan is bad.

DW: Whoa.

WJ: And I told her, I said --

DW: I'm sorry.

WJ: -- "I'm just second and third grade, but I don't remember anything like that at all."

DW: No.

WJ: Do you?

DW: No. In fact, it'd be almost the opposite in that we were a minority, but trying to get us to understand the goodness, niceness of our Japanese friends in our room. I mean... I wonder where she got that.

KL: A lot of the teachers at Manzanar were drawn to -- well, I guess I shouldn't say a lot, but one of the teachers I know more about was drawn there because she wanted to be helpful to the kids who were being held in Manzanar. And I suspect maybe your teachers, I don't know, do you feel like they had that interest in trying to build ties between Japanese and --

DW: I would think that would add into it, yeah.

WJ: Yeah. The teacher who had any impulse to try to make things better for these people, that extra pay just made it click in their mind, "Hey, that's where I need to go."

DW: Well, I started saying, I can't see anyone taking that job if they were discriminating, or they felt, if they felt the prejudice against the Japanese, why would you sign up to...

WJ: Why would you sign up to work?

KL: Unless you're sadistic.

DW: Yeah, maybe you just wanted the power, I don't know.

KL: What teachers do you remember? Do you remember names and personalities?

DW: I can't remember names, and the one I remember was the full year that I went, which was fifth grade, I guess. But she was a younger woman, outstanding. She had us writing a school newspaper, she let us tape murals on the walls, because these were just...

KL: Were they barracks? What were the facilities, the school classrooms?

DW: They were all in just these barracks again, divided into rooms. And plasterboard walls inside, that's why she let us paint 'em, we painted these humongous murals, some of 'em were jungles and everything else, and newspaper, we raised tadpoles, we read, we had plays, we just... but always stimulating. I know she stimulated me because I wanted to write in that paper so badly, but it was all printed, mimeographed. Any child in there that was Japanese was better at printing than the Caucasian girls. And I had to beg, finally she let me write one little paragraph one time. Because it didn't meet up with the standards she was expecting in the paper, I couldn't print that nice. [Laughs]

KL: Were the teachers Caucasian?

DW: Yes.

WJ: Every class had a Caucasian teacher and Japanese...

DW: Japanese aide, yes.

WJ: Aide. And part of that was for languages, because like I said, Dot doesn't remember kids in her class, and there might not have been, but there were some in mine that did not speak English, or at least not fluently. So that was an interpreter, and also the camp was trying to occupy these people with jobs, you know. They didn't pay 'em anything.

DW: Well, and you know, that's another thing that was totally unique in that they had aides in the classroom, and we did have. And we weren't overwhelmed --

WJ: Which probably helped the schools operate more efficiently and everything, because the teachers could teach.

DW: Yeah, sorting 'em by groups, yeah.

WJ: Sorting them by group.

KL: Or someone needed help.

DW: Yeah. Just more individual coaching, yeah.

KL: How many kids were in a classroom, about?

DW: I was trying to remember that. I don't remember my class being real large, so probably twenty-five or so.

WJ: I think mine was more like forty or so.

DW: Really?

WJ: Well, they had two second grades, too. There was eighty-five hundred people in the camp, and most of 'em had kids.

DW: I know, but, I mean, we had more classes, but I don't remember the room... I'm looking at it, and I don't remember the room being that crowded.

WJ: Probably it was a big room. [Laughs]

DW: It could have been, yeah.

WJ: It was made of... I would think there were a lot of kids in there, not that we were crowded. That's the reason I came up with forty.

DW: It could have been, because --

WJ: Because you go to Kelso and you've got eight and ten.

DW: Well, fourth, fifth and sixth were all in the same room.

JJ: This album is for the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, and there were four pages of tenth graders, and I would say that's probably at least twenty, forty, sixty, eighty.

DW: Yeah, okay. That had to be... I just don't remember being crowded at all. But I do know that would have been very unusual, because I'm a teacher. I would love to have classrooms of twenty-five.

KL: Did you stay with the same kids all day?

DW: Yes, we did. Now, in high school, if I remember right, they did break them up into math teachers, science teachers and so forth.

WJ: They moved around. I remember seeing the kids changing classes.

DW: Well, even in Dyess, by the time you got to junior high, you had a whole room which you broke up for English, math, science, etcetera. And then it was the little country town, school.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: We're continuing on with the interview with the Johnston family, tape two. And we were talking about some of the physical aspects of camp, remembering sandals that people would wear inside, and also the platform sandals that people would wear in the shower. And Bill mentioned you could hear those on wooden sidewalks through camp?

WJ: Of course, the area was bare...

DW: Gumbo mud.

WJ: ...gumbo mud farmland. And you couldn't walk around after it rained without some kind of sidewalk. So they built wooden sidewalks, wood's all we had to work with. Not many rocks around there...

DW: Well, around the roads.

WJ: Well, they hauled in that gravel.

DW: They hauled in the gravel for the roads.

WJ: The sidewalks down each barracks to the mess hall and to the laundry and everything, they built long runners with crosspieces of wood to make a boardwalk, and that was the sidewalks in the whole community.

DW: You go ahead and tell them the sound, that you remember the sound.

WJ: The sound was of the internees going to their several shower rooms, going down on those wooden planks, 'cause they wore thick, inch-high thick wooden clogs.

DW: [Holding up a photograph] Will this show?

WJ: They could walk down to the shower along that wooden board, clop-clop-clop-clop. Quite a distinctive sound.

DW: And then various cloth, or this one looks like it's woven out of grasses, but soft ones were worn in the house, so you just left your clogs outside.

KL: Did you guys have interior plumbing in your house?

WJ: Yes. One of the perks.

DW: Well, they had a lot of bathrooms, because every little block on that map had its central section which was the showers and the mess hall and the bathroom, so you didn't have a long walk, you didn't have to go six blocks.

WJ: But it did rain, and you still had to get --

DW: You still had the weather, yeah.

JJ: You know the book Camp 9?

KL: I've heard of it, I haven't read it.

JJ: There's a good recap of the daily activities in the...

DW: Relocation camps.

JJ: Relocation camps. But that was, the Japanese people as a whole were very, very private, and very personal in their hygiene. And it was a very big deal for these women to go to communal showers and communal bathrooms. That's what they had to do, but in Camp 9 it was explaining some of the, for a shower, intimidated women would wait 'til the ungodly hours before they would bathe or go to the bathroom, but they just couldn't do anything about them.

WJ: They could have solved a lot of that if they'd put up a few partitions. But it was kind of farming days, you had the row of commodes.

KL: Were there partitions installed ever?

WJ: No, not that I know of.

DW: Not that we know of.

WJ: I never did even go in one of 'em.

DW: Well, I was in like the laundry room, mess hall, I've been in the bathrooms, and it was just kind of open. I thought that they had some dividers in the shower rooms, but I've been in colleges where they didn't have shower room dividers, so probably didn't.

WJ: I suspect they didn't. You have men and women's dressing rooms.

DW: Yeah, men's and women's, of course.

WJ: Kind of like ours, just row of commodes, row of showers.

DW: Row of showers, exactly. Dorms in college.

WJ: But that probably would have made the experience a lot less stressful for the internees if they'd had the partitions installed. The other thing I'd like to comment on is just that they put up with it, with their treatment. I mean, on the West Coast and losing their property.

DW: Losing everything.

WJ: They put up with it with awful good grace.

DW: I never... I never met a rude Japanese. I'd have to qualify that, unless you're a kid and you want to tease somebody else, but that's not rudeness, that's kids. Grace, and always welcoming smiles. What they did in their homes, you're still barracks, and you had nothing. What they invented, they actually made attractive, beautiful environments for themselves inside and outside. They planted flowers and gardens.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

WJ: When you got a chance to look inside their little apartments...

DW: Oh gosh, I got to go in a few of them, and they're always...

WJ: They weren't given anything like this table. All they had was furniture they built out of crates, the things that were brought in the camp, they were little bit, picked up loose lumber, but they had to build their own furniture. They didn't have a chair unless they built it.

DW: Yeah, and you know, I don't know, and I don't remember now whether Dad's report ever said, they never gave them furniture? Did they have mattresses? What happened? Somebody had to provide this.

WJ: I think they did get a mattress, but they didn't get any bed. If they had something that held it up off the floor, they built it themselves.

DW: But they were more of a futon on the floor society.

JJ: I read... again, this is not memory, but reading somewhere, they had a shop -- they were very involved in building, actually, the barracks themselves.

DW: Well, yeah, they had to do that.

WJ: The first crew the government had to --

JJ: They hired laborers for that also, but they had a shop, and I think the government provided the materials. But they were very gifted in this, a lot of them, in their carpentry skills. So we helped provide them the means to build their own...

DW: I started saying, I remember when they had the shops, the woodworking shops, yeah, that were built in the camp.

WJ: What I remember, part of this, we should have furnished 'em a better grade of lumber to build with. Because a lot of times they had to just pick up scraps from the barrack construction, you know, the sawed-off ends. They didn't waste anything, they would pick those up, and they'd make a little shelf or something. We should have given them...

DW: We could have done a lot more.

WJ: ...little better lumber. We were raising lumber, we were cutting trees down every day.

DW: They cut trees off of, yeah... well, part of that was farmland, but yeah, they cut trees off of that for the camp.

WJ: The camp was ten thousand acres.

DW: I know, but I mean...

WJ: We had a big belt of woods around there.

DW: Well, and then after they started letting the Japanese got out there, they had wood crews... well, actually, before they let 'em out, 'cause it was in the camp, they could go cut wood for their stoves to use. We used coal.

WJ: They supposedly had to.

DW: Oh, work projects.

WJ: They didn't know anything about cutting down trees, or cutting firewood or splitting wood. They were just not accustomed to anything, they weren't very efficient in doing it, and paid 'em the same pay per hour as a buck private in the army got. They weren't too interested in working too hard. So he said it would have simpler to just burn coal everywhere, forgot the wood project.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: What did you all think of the forest?

WJ: Oh, we didn't get, wander around that much.

DW: I think everybody -- yeah.

WJ: There was one little stretch of woods, if you remember, back to the north of our barracks, we had nice, big hickory nut trees. We used to go back there and...

DW: I liked those. You had to cross that ditch to get there.

JJ: I don't know if it was on the camp or off the camp, but I do have flashback memories of, as a little kid, picking up pecans.

DW: Oh, yeah. We went out of the camps to --

JJ: That was out the camps?

WJ: Out of the camps.

DW: Yeah, we went as a family out gathering pecans over by the --

JJ: Real fine memory, just... in my mind it was just wide open, beautiful forest.

DW: Probably somebody, pecan growers.

KL: Yeah, farm. [Laughs]

WJ: Now, there was a lot of native pecans in that part of the country.

DW: All the way up to, there's pecans all along the levees in --

WJ: In fact, we went to and stayed at Lake Chicot state park, which is not too far. And the whole park was...

DW: The little wild pecans.

WJ: Tame, not tame, but wild. No, wild.

DW: The little wild pecans.

WJ: Little small wild pecans. Every tree in the whole camping area was pecans. We were there in the fall and they were thick.

KL: What do you guys... there were Indian mounds that I've read were kind of near Rohwer, too. Do you have memories of those or talking about earlier residents?

DW: I do, but I don't know whether it was near Rohwer.

WJ: Well, remember Joe Stroud who lived in McArthur, that's the next little town between Rohwer and McGehee. I'd gotten to be friends with him while she was friends with Barbara Gould, and I'd go out to his house, and they had Indians mounds right beside their house, dig up areas.

DW: Just always... all my life growing up, seemed like Indian mounds are part of that part of the world.

WJ: That part of the world there was always Indian mounds. They'd leveled an awful lot of 'em off.

DW: And the bayous.

WJ: Oh, yeah, the bayous.

DW: Oh, remember the fish frys we used to have from the camp?

KL: At Rohwer?

DW: Yeah. We'd go out to... now, this would have been the Caucasians, because it was before they were letting the Japanese out. But we would go out on the banks of the bayous and the guys would catch fish all day and would have these great big kettles, have big fish frys. All us kids running down...

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: Are there other individuals that you remember from camp? You mentioned your neighbors, I asked you about 'em, and your friends from school.

DW: I remember --

WJ: There was Millhorn, he was...

DW: I remember the name, yeah.

WJ: mechanics or...

DW: The shop, maintenance shop.

WJ: ...area of the camp. He had a daughter named Nancy who was my age, and a couple of older boys.

KL: A gardener, you said?

WJ: Who?

KL: Who was Nancy?

WJ: Nancy Millhorn.

DW: One of the families there, yeah.

WJ: Her dad worked in the maintenance department as far as...

DW: They were Caucasians.

WJ: and everything working.

DW: What was the name of the little Japanese girl that worked with Mother at the house?

WJ: Kathleen.

DW: Kathleen. Because she was typically beautifully Japanese, but she was Kathleen.

WJ: And she was, you asked -- Mother swears that when she went to work for us, she couldn't reach even the lower shelves of the kitchen cabinets. By the time she left, she'd put stuff in the top shelf. However it was, she grew or just learned to stretch.

KL: How old was she, do you think?

DW: She was young.

WJ: She was nineteen or something like that, twenty.

DW: Seventeen or... no, she wasn't that old.

WJ: She was out of high school.

DW: Well, when she first came to work for us, I think she came after school. But then she would have been a senior, maybe.

KL: She did housework?

DW: Yeah, just helped Mom. Babysat us, you know...

KL: Kept you out of the boxes...

DW: No, we have a picture, I don't know where it is, but a picture of Kathleen standing on the stoop of the barracks where we lived, the porch. You guys have that picture?

JJ: We had some pictures that I can't locate, that were taken possibly in the yard of the barracks, but I've got to go back and look again, and (Carol) said she would double-check our pictures.

WJ: I don't think we've got it.

DW: I don't think I have any.

JJ: I haven't seen 'em in a long time, but I do remember seeing them.

DW: Well, I moved to California before my mom died, and so you guys were still closer. So any pictures she had, hopefully you guys have, 'cause I don't have any of those from Rohwer. I just remember seeing that picture of Kathleen.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: Are there other connections that you've encountered in your adult lives, or after leaving there? Are there people that you've kept in touch with from Rohwer, did your family stay in touch with anyone from the administration and the camp?

WJ: Well, Dorothy and I both traveled back to Rohwer. She would stay with Barbara Gould, and I'd go stay with Joe Stroud.

DW: We did that --

WJ: We did that --

DW: -- two or three years after we'd moved away. I think the last time Barbara came to see me, I might have been in tenth grade or something like that.

WJ: I don't know whether we even met, because I want to say by the time I got to the seventh or eighth grade, Joe and I stopped.

DW: Okay. Well, if you were --

WJ: We used to go spend a couple weeks --

DW: Yeah. If you had been in eighth, I'd have been in the tenth. Somewhere about in then is when we just kind of were growing apart.

KL: What was the camp like then when you came back?

DW: There was nothing there. It was just weeds...

KL: What was that experience like?

DW: Now, that, she was, we were talking about this when you guys were gone, the monument. What else, what's the other monument that's still there?

JJ: This and one other. This monument's still there. That was to the Japanese soldiers.

DW: Yeah, I told her that one, but what's the other one?

WJ: It's the obelisk that's got an eagle on top of it? I put your description in the stuff I gave you here, but I failed to get a picture of it.

DW: Okay, I didn't know that.

KL: Was this monument put up during World War II time?

DW: Yes. It was there when they were living in the camp, and they added names to it as people died.

KL: Was it part of the camp, it was inside the camp?

DW: Inside. At the time, now, where it is now, I don't know. Did they move it?

WJ: It's still there.

DW: But it was in the camp, yeah.

WJ: In fact, here's a description of the Rohwer internees' memorial monument.

DW: Oh, yeah.

WJ: Dad as director, but when I saved that from whatever website I got it off of, I didn't get a picture. I just got the screen...

DW: Well, you guys, you have been back to Rohwer, and you have, Bill, and I have not. But that, as I understand, is all that's there, really.

WJ: It is. Little cemetery and those two monuments.

KL: When did you go back?

WJ: I've been back a couple of times. My wife and I, since we've retired, we travel around in that RV all the time, and we've been, we kind of like south Arkansas, and we go watch our grandsons play football and have ever since we retired, this fall was the last one. Anyway, when they'd get in the playoffs, they would wind up playing somebody in south Arkansas, and they lived fairly south Arkansas, Wynne. But we'd go down to that area, then we'd tend to visit other places...

KL: So that's been recent, like in the 1990s and 2000.

WJ: Oh, yeah. Well, between 2002 and now, that's when I've been retired. We've been twice. And stopped at a location close to the Jerome camp and talked to a fellow that has all kinds of information about Jerome camp and Rohwer. I cannot think of his name.

KL: What's his interest?

WJ: What?

KL: Is he just interested in local history, or does he have some --

WJ: He owns the land now where Jerome camp stood, and he's just interested in it as a historic fact, and what history he can dig up. I'm not sure if he owned it before the camp and then bought it back, I don't think so. I think he bought it afterwards, and I don't think he was even there when the camp was operating.

DW: Does somebody own Rohwer now?

WJ: Yes.

DW: The land? What are they doing with it?

WJ: Farm.

DW: They just farm around the monuments?

WJ: Yeah.

DW: Okay.

WJ: Where the camp is, grow your cotton or soybeans.

DW: I went back to Arkansas, what, October a year ago. Next time I go back, I'm going to go to Dyess.

WJ: Dyess or Rohwer?

DW: Well, Rohwer, of course. I'd like to go to Rohwer, I've never been back to either one.

JJ: It's a pretty good drive, but it's doable. You make it a round trip in a day, but it's a long day.

DW: That's a long trip, yeah.

WJ: Depends on where you start. If you get in an RV park in Lake Chicot, well, then it's not too bad a drive.

JJ: I'm remembering now that I totally forgot this. Mama and I went back to Rohwer after you all were gone.

DW: Did you?

WJ: Was anything left there when you went?

JJ: I have no memories. The last time I went was about, my wife and I went about six, seven years ago, and remember just what you were talking about. Don't have clear memories other than of the monuments itself when Mom and I went. This would have been in the late '90s or late '80s.

WJ: For a while there, I think it was overgrown, weeds and stuff. But there's a preservation society been developed, and they go out and clean up around. Last time I was there, they were well-tended, not great. Kind of like an abandoned cemetery. They cemetery's still there. It was fascinating grave, of course, there were four or five infants that died --

DW: Baby graves, yeah.

WJ: But Japanese Americans. Anyway, you take, it's a pretty small plot.

KL: Did your mom, do you remember anything your mom said that surprised you?

JJ: No. It's just a shame that no one was able to... she was full of stories. I can't really recall anything other than what we were just talking about. But she would have been one for this, because she kind of got into history, and she liked to, she would have loved to relay the stories.

KL: Well, and her interest in home economics, too, I mean, that would have been very interesting, I'm sure, for her, to see what people did with the living space.

DW: How they ate.

JJ: Yeah, well, of course, any of the people there working in that camp, I doubt any of them ever got a good interview did on some recording like you all are doing. And that's gone...

KL: I find the people who were teenagers and younger, usually. And so we have a better understanding of their thinking than we do with the older generation.

WJ: If you could find -- and I don't know of any kids -- a couple of the Miller boys would have been high school. But if you could find kids that went tenth grade through twelve, their impression was probably --

DW: In the high school at that time, I think. A little more, anyway, maybe. Hopefully.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: What do you think your parents thought about the camp? I mean, I've read kind of that your dad, you know, he says his overall reaction to the evacuees is they were just folks like you and me. And I'm kind of curious, what about his background, since I assume Japanese American and Japanese people were different to him. What do you think caused him to react that way?

WJ: He was a good guy.

DW: He was that kind of person. Yes, he loved to visit with people, he liked people.

JJ: I think his... he was so overcome by the grace that they put up with, presented themselves with -- and this was just from reading his final summation -- to put an American-born citizen through all this, and for them not to be just totally ruined forever in their attitude about America, but they accepted with grace. And I think he was really respectful that they could do that. Because I think his feeling was, "I couldn't do that. If you were doing this to me, I don't know that I would have this kind of grace to accept this." And they did it and did it well. One of the greatest decorated units in the whole war was Japanese, that most had been in these camps. Speaks very well for them as a people.

KL: What was your mom's response to the camp and the situation and the people?

WJ: I think she was totally supportive of the people, and I think that's why she was working with them so much. And I just, I remember this just from knowing my mom, and from other stories, I don't have personal memories of it at all. I think she would have been anything, or would have done anything she could have done to help them in their situation, to make it better for them. She was a big fan of FDR. I'm not going to say Dad was, too, but I don't know that she ever really accepted that this was something that FDR should have done. Although in my own mind, I'm not sure he had much choice. Because the animosity you saw in McGehee on the signs was ten times worse out on the West Coast.

JJ: Maybe a hundred or a thousand times worse.

WJ: They were ready to start carrying guns and shooting 'em on sight. So part of it was just to quell that possible riots, and part of it was the army decided there's liable to be spies in there. But we didn't move the Italians off the coast, or Germans.

DW: Well, no, but you know what's funny, is we forget in all this that Dyess, where we were, Eleanor Roosevelt visited in our house, you know. But anyway...

WJ: She spent the night in our house. Not while we were there.

DW: Not while were living there, it was the guest house. But anyway, right outside that area, there were German prisoner of war camps and Italian prisoner of war camps, Grant's dad administered one of the German ones. And then that doesn't get... I don't remember people getting all upset about that, but maybe I was too little.

WJ: Did they work on the local farms?

DW: Yeah, they were working on the farms. But anyway, we started that off with... I got sidetracked.

KL: Well, he was talking about Roosevelt, too, and just how long that administration was, too.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DW: Oh, talking about Mother, too. Good heavens, I think Mother was one of these women that she adapted to wherever she was an enjoyed it. Except she wanted to tie us in trees when we were getting clever.

KL: When you were what?

DW: Oh, we camped a lot and everything, and Mom was great, camping, fishing, sewing, she just all around everything. And we got flooded up in north Arkansas in a campground, and we woke up in the night, Mom did, telling Dad, "I hear boulders rolling." Well, they were. The creek had come up, we were in this pop-out tent camper. We ended up finally, the people over in the little town of Parthenon came over in mules and a wagon and got us back out, and we sat the flood out after they chained everything to trees. But at one point Mother's running around --

WJ: Wait, let me tell this. We'd had cleared some brush, moved this little two-wheel trailer that did pop up, but it was the first pop-up that our Daddy made. We chained it to a tree, and we'd been out to town, and Mother's running around with this ball of twine in her hands.

DW: About that strong.

WJ: My dad asked her what she was going to do with it, and she said, "I'm going to tie the kids in the trees."

DW: "If they get sleepy, they might fall out and drown." She's thinking we're going to have to climb trees.

WJ: But the next thing that happened, after we messed with the... twine wasn't going to work. There were some people from Parthenon who walked down as far as they could --

DW: But they knew we were out there.

WJ: They was a two or three hundred yard stretch of water that we couldn't wade across. And Mother was over there waving at 'em, and Dad says, "Don't do that. They'll think you want something." She says, "I do." And they came over in a wagon and got us.

DW: We have a lot of camping and flood stories. That same one, when she was saying, "I do," was she kept saying, "This is getting worse, Dad, this is getting worse, Ray." And he said, "Oh, no." And anyway, he said, "Here," he stuck a stick in the edge to show that water's not rising. And she said while we're standing there looking at it, the water goes over the stick.

KL: Oh, geez. [Laughs]

DW: Anyway, but she would have tied us in a tree, and sat up there with us.

KL: What did they do for work and for just in their personal lives and stuff after leaving Rohwer?

DW: Dad goes back to Dyess and mother was still a housewife.

WJ: Mother basically was a homemaker.

DW: They loved to play bridge, they always had bridge partners.

WJ: Still, both of 'em loved to dance. If we had a school dance.

JJ: That was VFW, or was American Legion?

DW: American Legion, wasn't it?

JJ: American Legion had a dance.

DW: And then Dad was big hunting and fishing. Mom always fished some, but he was always off on that.

WJ: Their big night out, every once in a while, they'd go to Chaplin, Missouri.

DW: Or Memphis.

WJ: Go to the Memphis to the Peabody [inaudible] room or whatever they called it.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: So they moved, you moved as a family to Memphis?

DW: No, when we moved back to Dyess. Oh, this is later, yeah. But we moved to Dyess, Memphis was our closest shopping center.

WJ: When my mother and Jim move to Memphis, of course, my dad passed away, Dot was either in Texas or California, I'm not sure where.

DW: Oklahoma maybe. I'd married then, yeah.

WJ: And I was... what, I was in service then?

DW: You were in the service, yeah.

WJ: I was in Germany, or possibly still in Massachusetts. Anyway, everybody was gone but him.

DW: And that's when Zuma, Mom's mother, came back and lived with you guys there in Memphis. Well, no, she'd been living with us in Dyess before that. Yeah, Dad added that room on the house, yeah.

WJ: Dad renovated the house for her.

KL: So you finished high school in Memphis?

JJ: I finished school in Memphis, yeah. Went to Messick High. Went there in the tenth grade, and went from my old class was like thirty, and my homeroom in Messick was like fifty, and five hundred people in my grade.

DW: Talk about the exchange the Dyess to...

JJ: It was a little bit intimidating for me.

KL: Yeah.

JJ: But it ended up being a good thing for me.

DW: Well then you went to dental school and everything there in Memphis, didn't you?

JJ: Yeah, I went to Southwestern, it's now Rhodes, for my pre-dental, and then at the University of Tennessee dental school, it was all there in Memphis. So I was able to get my college education done minimally, extra expenses other than tuition.

DW: Because you lived at home.

JJ: I lived at home, yeah.

KL: We started off talking a little bit about your... I am curious about this because I think it is kind of one of the legacies of the camps and of this period, how it affected people's thinking about race and different ethnicities, and interactive with people and stuff. So you adjusted okay to being in Memphis and being in a big city...

JJ: Oh, yeah.

DW: Lots of black people.

KL: Do you think your experiences -- I know you were a young kid -- but do you think your family's experiences in Rohwer affected your thinking about Memphis in the '50s and '60s racial...

WJ: Tell you when you hired Barbara and how long.

JJ: Well, to answer your question, I think everything shapes our being as we progress through life, and particularly if it's very important, that time in your life. So, yeah, I think these things really shaped me. But I felt like... well, I don't know the proper word. I was never a racist or had any animosity towards other races of people. I just hadn't grown up with that.

DW: I started saying it wasn't part of our family.

JJ: But I don't know if that helped me adjust better in Memphis or not. Back then the schools were still even segregated in Memphis, we had black schools and white schools, and it was still a big issue. And I remember not liking it, I remember thinking that, kind of like Dad's analysis of what it would have been like to be put in that camp. If they tried to make me ride in the back of the bus, or make me have a special water fountain, I would have been, I would have been in jail, you know? So I guess I sympathized to some extent with the black situation. But even then, like I was telling everybody, I was so naive, I had no idea how truly bad it was, what was going on in that world. Moving to Memphis and getting into a bigger culture and wider horizon, that helped me a lot. I think I would have been harder put to go from Dyess graduating into college. Y'all did it. [Laughs]

DW: Well, Mother had panic attacks because we're living in Dyess, and so I'm getting ready to go college. And so she insisted I had to go to Hendrix, which is a Methodist university there.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Were you all Methodist growing up?

DW: What?

KL: Were you Methodist growing up?

DW: Yes, we are.

WJ: Yeah, I was baptized by a Japanese Methodist minister in camp.

KL: Oh. Do you remember it?

WJ: Vaguely. I was scared to death.

KL: Where was the church? Was it a separate building?

WJ: Yeah, it was small.

DW: We went to church... it might have been half of one of the barracks or something, was it?

WJ: Yeah, I don't know where it was.

DW: I don't either.

KL: So you went to worship services there pretty regularly.

DW: Oh, yeah, we went to church every Sunday. And then I remember going to the Buddhist ceremony with Dad once, which was really different.

WJ: I never even did that.

DW: It just, it was in part of one of the barracks. It was one end because I remember they had darkened it some way, it was a great deal more ritualistic looking than, of course, a Methodist church.

WJ: Methodist church may have been a separate building.

DW: I don't remember that either. We went to church every Sunday of our lives.

WJ: There were quite a few Japanese in there that were Methodist, and I'm sure --

DW: We probably had the church then.

WJ: We had the church, and I suspect it was built just by volunteer labor from --

DW: All of us went together.

KL: But the minister was an internee, he was Japanese?

WJ: Yes.

DW: There was some other part of that question.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

DW: Oh, what was Bill talking about with (Barbara)?

JJ: Well, this is just, I guess...

DW: A societal thing.

JJ: When I started my practice, I hired this black lady to clean up the office. And we had a consulting service come in to help us. When you go to dental school, they teach you how to be a dentist, but not a businessman, and I needed to know more about how to run a business. So we had a consulting service in, and they interviewed all the people I had working for me. And the lady that was doing the interviewing said that if you really wanted a top-notch employee, you need to move Barbie away from the mop and put her in the chair. And so just on the strength of what they said, I made her my chair-side assistant, and she stayed with me for thirty-five years 'til she retired for health issues.

DW: She runs the whole place.

JJ: Just the most fantastic person you could ever want to work for you. And the kids just loved her, I mean, she was just... we had two generations of children that grew up with Barbie at the chair side, and they all to this day, they all want to know about Barbie.

KL: Oh. When did she make that move? Around what year was that?

JJ: When I hired her?

KL: When you hired her, and then when she switched to being your assistant.

JJ: Well, I hired her... let's see, I got out of the service in '66, so probably around '68 is when I hired her. And she didn't, she was only less than a year when we had the consulting service come in. And I was, it just so happened I was needing a chair side, and that was part of their deal, they were going to interview to get the new chair side. Because I'd decided I had to have two people out front, and move one of the chair side up front, and then hired her. And I mean, it was just... they hit it right on the head. She had people skills out of this world.

DW: Yes.

JJ: And also very smart, very good assistant.

DW: And also I lived so far away, Bill and Nita go to Jim for dental work, but I'm in California so I don't do this very often. But I remember I was there once and you were doing something with my teeth, I don't remember what. But anyway, Barbie is the one who will come in and say, "All right, Jim, you talk all the time. Shut up and get busy 'cause you got people waitin'."

KL: Uh-huh, she keeps you in --

DW: And you walk in the door and she's say, "Oh, Dot, I don't ever get to see you," and give me this big hug.

KL: Now, did you move back to Arkansas after dental school, or did you practice in Memphis?

JJ: Well, I went in the army right out of dental school, and was in Europe for three years. And this was right when Vietnam was getting active. And I got out of the army, and actually, they were going to send me to Vietnam, but I had signed an agreement with the army to serve a third year in France. And that agreement somehow got me out of going to Vietnam. My commanding officer came to me and said that I had like a six-week window, that if I didn't want to go to Vietnam, I had an out. And I didn't want to go, and so I got out and went back to Arkansas and practiced. I started working with the Title XIX government project working in the schools. I fixed up a little mobile clinic, and I went to Dyess.

DW: You had all the black communities, too.

JJ: Yeah, I went to all the little communities around there. But that led to -- and then I also was headed to, I wanted to go to northwest Arkansas, Jasper, up that area. Took my wife up there, and it was kind of a winter weekend, it rained the whole weekend, and she cried the whole weekend. [Laughs] So I decided I wouldn't go to Jasper. We had a good deal come to us, offered to us in Marion, Arkansas. I was living in West Memphis at the time, and that's where I started my practice.

DW: Still live there, yeah. His wife's a nurse, and she's worked a lot of time in Memphis as an RN, yeah.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: What about you two? Where'd life take you after high school graduation?

WJ: Well, I graduated in '54 and when you graduated in '54, I'm sure it was like him, everybody had to go. You either joined the army or they were going to come get you. I enlisted in the army for three years in order to get the GI Bill and go to college when I got out. And I served in Germany, overseas for a couple of years, got back, went to, got married right there.

DW: To his childhood sweetheart.

WJ: Went to University of Tennessee at Martin, I got a BS in agriculture. Then left and came back to Arkansas, Pocahontas, where my grandfather had bought 320 acres of land probably in the '30s. But we'd always, family had always just kept a renter on it. And so I decided I'd come back and farm there. I bought him out, and their share of it, so I farmed there until I retired in 2001.

DW: Well, you skipped something there.

WJ: What?

DW: Oh, you retired and went to the stockbroker.

WJ: No. 2001 is when I retired. 2002 is when we started traveling. I had bypass surgery between that --

DW: I know. But you're acting like you farmed right up to then.

WJ: I did.

JJ: But you also had the commodities business.

DW: You did the commodities thing.

WJ: Yeah. The last fifteen years I ran a stock and commodities brokering business, turned the farm over to my hired help.

KL: What did you grow?

WJ: Soybeans and rice. Dabbled in cattle at one time. But any rate, the brokerage firm was just one-man office, it was on (Broadway St.) and I was there nearly sixteen years. I did have one day off, I had surgery on my hip one day, and was back to work the next day.

DW: He couldn't get away. Then you retired.

WJ: Then I retired and have been traveling ever since. I visited Manzanar, all the other great places.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: And the wandering oldest sibling?

DW: Well, I don't know. Mine's kind of weird. I went to Hendrix for my freshman year, and then I really wanted to try the university, and talked my parents into it. And I went up to the University of Arkansas, did the whole thing, joined a sorority. Then I met my first husband, and he was graduating that year, and I got married. [Laughs] So after that two years of college. And he was an engineer, and went to [inaudible], we lived in Texas and Oklahoma. Finally we lived in Branson, Missouri, before it was famous. That's where our first child was born. I had three sons and eventually ended up back in Little Rock, we've lived in California, lived in British Columbia, moved back to Little Rock, and was living in Little Rock when the University of Arkansas Little Rock was opening up. So I went back to school and got my degree. And Grant was engineering, and he decided that he would go back to school, so we went jointly and took teaching credential a semester, and then moved to California. And taught school, he was in high school, I was in elementary school, we had three sons. Then... trying to remember my years. I taught school, junior high, basically, and kind of a little bit of everything. My majors were history and minors in art and psychology, but I taught typing and PE, you know, what it is, and smaller...

KL: Did you teach U.S. history?

DW: Yes. And just... well, I taught seventh and eighth grade history, so it's kind of generalized, yeah, specific is high school. I started applying for jobs as a high school history teacher, but they wanted coaching, and I started with a cap and a whistle, and where's the football team?

KL: Right, it was soccer in my high school for U.S. history, but yeah.

DW: And I ended up teaching junior high. Somewhere in there, I divorced, and then I'd been married about twenty-three years, got divorced, couple years later remarried to a guy with three children. And so then I had six kids, three stepkids and my sons, and then he passed away ten years ago this year.

WJ: It's hard to believe it's true.

DW: It was 2002, yeah. He had cancer. Anyway, he had been married previously, too, but we said we could add 'em together and we could have a fiftieth anniversary. We almost made it. But anyway, I, because of that, am the proud owner of twenty-four grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren.

JJ: And know their names. [Laughs]

DW: [Laughs] I actually, this is what's funny, because I have one stepdaughter who had five children. She, her children and her grandchildren, they have twenty-three of this mess. Because I have, my three sons, none of them are married. No, wait a minute, grandchildren. They're all married, but out of them, I just have three grandchildren, four grandchildren, and none of them are married.

KL: So you lucked out with the additions to you family.

DW: I think that's more normal. That's more normal, yeah. Grandkids, like they are, you're just now getting a few grandkids, great grandkids.

WJ: I don't have any great grandkids, but I got hopes.

DW: You have hopes, yeah.

JJ: No great grandkids... yeah, I do.

DW: You do, yeah, 'cause he's got two sons and a daughter and three, four --

JJ: No, they're not great-grandchildren.

WJ: You don't have any great-grandchildren.

DW: No, just grandchildren.

KL: It's a separate adjective, right? They're just really outstanding grandchildren.

JJ: They are great. [Laughs]

DW: They are great. We do, we all have a cluster of good looking kids, and they're nice kids, they're smart, they're all...

WJ: We wound up with one son, and he has three sons. So we're a little short of daughters.

DW: Yeah, mine was going that way with just sons and brothers until suddenly all this other exploded, and...

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: Have you talked with your kids, or have they asked you about your time at Rohwer or at Dyess Colony for that matter?

JJ: My middle son got really interested in it. He got online, and he's dug up more history in about a year than I have in my whole life, thinking back about it. But he just really got into it.

DW: Yeah, he's really the one I know of, of all the kids...

JJ: Yeah, my other two kids, they were of casual interest to talk about it, but had no intent to get deeply into it like John has. And he's still online messing with it all the time.

KL: Is he in Arkansas?

JJ: Yes, he lives in Marion where I live.

WJ: My son has just kind of casual interest, and my grandson, maybe not even as casual as he is. They don't seem to attach much...

DW: You know, here's what happens. If you bring it up around... well, my grandkids, the older ones, are thirty-two this year. They will have a glimmer, but some of the other ones, they don't even really know much about the whole, that there was a relocation camp. But if they have a little glimmer, they like to hear about it, because it's like a foreign country or something.

WJ: One of the things that interests me a lot when Nita and I are traveling, we tend to have a fire and then we tend to have them come.

DW: Right, that becomes a...

WJ: We'll usually work around to mentioning the Rohwer camp, and I'd say -- and they're all retired people, you know, sixty years old -- and there's about half of 'em, "I didn't know we had any of those camps in the United States." Just totally unaware.

DW: Well, and then every once in a --

WJ: And I don't think I ever found anybody except one or two that knew they had some camps in Arkansas. I thought they were all out --

DW: Well, yeah, they miss the whole point.

WJ: Just off the West Coast, you know, in California, and as bad a place as they could find. [Laughs]

DW: Yeah, there's not a lot of knowledge about it, so what you're doing is probably valuable.

WJ: One thing that I think has happened, and it may be being corrected now, is for a long time, it was just almost verboten, I think, to mention it in schools. In history, they just skipped over that part.

DW: Well, okay. It's like discussing Wounded Knee, they're just things that we're not proud of.

WJ: Yeah, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't teach about it. In fact, it means you should mention it so we won't do it again.

DW: Well, yeah, but we keep repeating. We kicked all the Indians out and took their territory, kicked the Japanese out, we just keep repeating.

KL: But that, I think, is a recent change, that attitude, as you say, of thinking that this is something that should be talked about. In the museum world, at least, that's kind of a recent development, since the 1990s.

DW: Yeah. This whole thing, when I first heard about the Butler thing, and then your project, it's about time. Because it's sort of like --

KL: That was your reaction?

DW: Yeah. I mean, it's been there, how come this has just been all fear and hide behind the curtains?

WJ: How come we keep looking at this stuff Jim brought, and he keeps it all in a nice file box, and lots of nice pictures of the Rotary Clubs and things. But people just don't know about it.

KL: What's the response at Rotary?

JJ: It was all over the spectrum. There was a large part of the Rotary just like Bill. And this is a club of about, we've got maybe fifty members, and usually thirty-five or forty in attendance. Probably half of them did not even know, and these are adult men and women, know that we had relocation camps in Arkansas. And the group as a whole had no in-depth knowledge about the relocation effort at all. And just the little bit I showed 'em, there was a lot of interest. And there was even, they want me to do it once a year.

WJ: Kind of refresh everybody.

JJ: Keep everybody refreshed, yeah. The program was well-received, lots of questions. And like some of 'em were just totally blown away. "We didn't have it in this state, did we?"

DW: "Did they even do that, just take people and move 'em?"

JJ: One of the educational channels has put out a great video, I've got a copy of it, and I'm sure you all have access to it.

DW: Time of Fear?

JJ: It's Time of Fear.

DW: Yeah, you sent me one. It is primarily Jerome, but it mentions Rohwer. Time of Fear.

JJ: Well, it's all the camps. It starts on the West Coast with all the build up it created...

WJ: What they called assembly centers. That was not a good start for this. I'm surprised that they didn't come out of there ballistic.

DW: Well, I think we ended up with more members in our so-called "hard core" relocation camps because of that process. It's like you saying, "I would be, they'd put me in jail."

WJ: The big thing that got a lot of people put in Tule Lake that was...

DW: That was the big one in California.

WJ: Bad place, that if you weren't there, the set of questions they had in the loyalty oath deal, there were about sixty-five percent of the people were U.S. citizens, and thirty-five percent that weren't. And we have laws on the books that said you can never become a naturalized U.S. citizen, and we're asking them to put down there that they can renounce their citizenship in Japan, which means they don't have any.

DW: They had no citizenship anyway.

WJ: Well, that's kind of foolish to put that question in there, or stated the way it was. So that caused a lot of people to wind up in Tule Lake.

KL: Do you remember conversations, did your folks have conversations about that "loyalty questionnaire" as it gets called?

WJ: Not at the time we were at the camp.

DW: No, I don't remember it then.

WJ: Probably wouldn't, even if they had a talk, but that kind of talk would have been kept away from us.

DW: They were not... I look at my kids and grandkids and their families, and my, our parents had a great deal more sense of what was appropriate for children to hear and not, and they were much more careful about what they say in front of their children. So we didn't, yeah, if they had any serious discussions, they were not with us, yeah.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

KL: This is tape three, our last tape of a continuing interview with the Johnston family. We were gonna talk a little bit about some of the exhibits and stuff that have happened about Rohwer and about Jerome, and I want to start off by asking you to tell us about Rosalie Gould and your connection to her.

DW: I actually know Rosalie through her sister-in-law, Barbara Gould. Barbara and I were contemporaries in age and friends because she lived in Rohwer and I was there in the camp and our parents knew each other and all of that connection. Rosalie was Barbara's older brother.

WJ: Wife.

DW: Huh?

WJ: She was the wife of Barbara's older brother.

DW: What did I say?

WJ: You said she was her older brother.

DW: [Laughs] Wife of the older brother, yes. And there was probably a ten-year gap. I remember, my memory of Rosalie was she was Italian, and tall and slim and just gorgeous and sophisticated, and I thought she was the... I'd like to grow up to be like Rosalie. And so that's really all I knew about her since she was Joe Jr's wife. And they didn't have any children at the time I knew her, but I would go back and see Barbara. But anyway, when Barbara sent me, Barbara and I... well, you want the story? We told you the story of how we found, how Barbara and I found each other again. Didn't we tell that already?

WJ: Not on tape, I don't think.

DW: Oh, that might not have been on tape. Jim is on the (Board of Directors of the Arkansas) Delta Dental Association. It turns out -- this is hindsight coming forward. Her son, Barbara Gould's son's (wife), is on the board with Jim, but his name is Smith, last name. So one time they're talking, and something comes up, maybe McGehee was mentioned.

JJ: He was going back to McGehee to their farm to do some, they'd had a tornado, had some damage, and he was going back. And so he mentioned McGehee, I just, Barbara Gould came to mind because I knew, and Joe Stroud, and I just asked him if he happened to know Barbara Gould or Joe Stroud. And he looked at me really strange and said, "Barbara Gould is my mother." [Laughs] So it was a small world.

DW: Yeah, because this, we're going back to her visiting with these two friends, we stopped when we were junior high, high school, something, you know. And so we haven't seen each other in all these years. Anyway, this gets back to Barbara, and she gets in touch with me, and then she sent me this book that she picked up at the Butler Center. And inside, she couldn't remember, but she just wrote a note, "Do you recognize anyone?" And Rosalie, of course, is in the room with the organizers and getting all this stuff together, and then the art teacher. But I don't recognize her because she worked with the high school, and so I don't have any...

KL: Uh-huh, and her name was Jamie Vogel.

DW: Jamie Vogel, and she left all her collection to Rosalie. And I just know that when I left, Rosalie was still living out on the plantation there at Rohwer, there were two houses they lived in. One had been Barbara and Joe's grandmother's house, right next door, but they were young married --

KL: What was the name of that plantation again? I don't know if you said it earlier or not.

DW: You know, I don't know whether it...

WJ: I don't remember the name other than Gould.

DW: Gould, I think. Yeah, their last name was Gould and I think it was the Gould Plantation. But I saw something just recently, and maybe in some of this stuff, they had a name of a plantation.

KL: Yeah, there was farm...

DW: What was that? Yeah, it was something that we had that you read. It didn't ring a bell.

KL: Your dad writes about Kelso Farms, close to eight thousand acres of the Rohwer site. And a lot of the rest of it was Farm Security Administration.

WJ: Kelso Farms, of course, that's the town where we went...

DW: That's where we went to school. It was north of Joe Gould's property, and so it would not have been the same. I think it was just the Gould Plantation.

JJ: And there was a little town of Gould.

DW: No, that was Rohwer.

WJ: That was the same thing.

JJ: I thought there was --

WJ: There is a Gould, Arkansas, but that's not it.

DW: No, that little store and a little gas station and the post office, that's Rohwer.

JJ: I thought that was Gould and then Rohwer was just...

WJ: Just the camp.

JJ: The relocation camp.

DW: Well, you know, one or two times I thought that, too, it's just because Joe owned all of it.

KL: Yeah, maybe they just called it Gould store or something.

DW: They might have, because he owned all the stuff. But that was, they didn't even have a post office there, that was Rohwer.

WJ: Yeah, that's where the train would stop in Rohwer at the camp. But if you were on the train riding by, there wasn't anything saying Rohwer, until you got to the little town of Rohwer, and then there was a little...

JJ: Well, my memory was bad there. I don't know why...

DW: Well, when I went to see Barbara and you went to see Joe, did we have to get off the train...

WJ: The train had ceased to stop at Rohwer at that time. You got off at McGehee --

DW: I think we got off at Rohwer at one time.

WJ: We got off at Kelso. The train still stopped Kelso.

DW: Kelso, and they wouldn't meet us there.

WJ: It didn't stop at McArthur --

DW: No, it didn't.

WJ: -- or Rohwer.

DW: Or Rohwer.

WJ: And I'd ride on to McGehee and get out and then Joe Stroud --

DW: Oh, you got out at McGehee then.

WJ: Yeah. Now, that was the list couple trips when was older. When I was younger we would both get off together.

DW: And somebody would come get us.

WJ: Stroud would have just have to drive and come get us in Kelso.

DW: But yeah, I remember getting off this train out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, there's fields, and you're getting off the train.

KL: What stop was that? What it was called?

DW: That was called Kelso. The same, the farms, and the little school.

WJ: I think it was, there was a little store or something, it was always closed, boarded up.

DW: Well, probably they kept one stop in that whole area to change passengers or whatever.

WJ: Well, there were no change passengers.

DW: I mean to get on. Somebody might get on.

WJ: Yeah, somebody might get on, somebody might get off. The little school we went to was back... Nita and I tried to find the school, I could not find the school. I'm sure it's not there. But I thought I could just drive on this road, and I remember coming up on a hill...

DW: I wouldn't have that ambition.

WJ: Because I wanted to go locate where it was, we couldn't do it.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: We were talking about Rosalie Gould. Do you remember her talking about Jamie Vogel ever?

DW: No. In fact, I think that must have happened kind of coinciding, but they became friends when that was outside my age group, and so Barbara and I, yeah.

KL: Rosalie says, or said, I guess, that she came to Rohwer in 1949, and she said no one really talked about the camps then. And she became mayor of McGehee, right?

DW: I learned that later from Barbara. Now, that said Rosalie came to Rohwer?

KL: In 1949. So maybe she just means the area.

WJ: She was there before that.

KL: Oh, really?

WJ: She was there when the camp was active.

DW: Rosalie?

WJ: Yeah.

DW: I'm trying to remember if maybe I met her when I was on my visits back and forth after Rohwer.

WJ: Well, that might have been possible, too.

DW: That makes sense. That's why I never had any real conversations, I just met her.

KL: I'm not sure which article it was.

DW: Because she had been married to Joe Jr. when we were in the camp...

WJ: How did she know Jamie Vogel?

KL: I don't know. Maybe Jamie Vogel hung around Rohwer? I mean, I guess you didn't know her, so maybe she was still --

DW: Well, Rohwer was not a place you hang around. McGehee maybe.

WJ: She may have stayed in McGehee.

DW: She might have stayed in McGehee.

WJ: Yeah. Because she willed her collection to Rosalie.

DW: To Rosalie, yeah, they became very close, obviously.

WJ: They were like, from everything I've read --

DW: Hey, now, I know how we can find out a little more, too, you can interview Barbara Gould. [Laughs] Because she, almost most of our visiting was like you and Joe, we left the camp to go visit rather than them coming to camp very often.

WJ: Maybe they were night and noon, I don't know if we ever spent a night -- we didn't have any place to...

DW: Yeah, we didn't have much room, but it seemed like Barbara spent the night once, maybe one of the dance nights.

WJ: You had --

DW: Oh, I had a room by myself, yes.

WJ: Jim and I would have been, it was crowded enough with just he and I, you put three in there...

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: What did she think of the exhibit? Was it Rosalie or was it Barbara who sent you the --

DW: Barbara just sent me this and she didn't, she just sent it with a note, "Do you recognize anybody?" But we had talked on the phone, and Barbara is one of these people, she said, "Okay, don't send me an email because I don't know how to run the computer, and my husband, half the time he ignores it." And she said, anyway, I talked to her on the phone -- or we write. Actually, we use letters. Old fashioned.

WJ: Snail mail.

DW: We use the snail mail. So she just sent this and an envelope, I mean, a separate envelope just said, "Do you recognize anyone?" and I would not have recognized Rosalie.

JJ: My wife and I went to this exhibit.

DW: Oh, that's this one.

JJ: And we were disappointed just in what they had out for display. I talked with the ladies there, and they were going to contact us about maybe donating the stuff, but I haven't heard from 'em. But they said they just, they had just a token amount of stuff out of her collection and other things they had. They had a huge inventory in the warehouse, and they didn't have a big enough space to put it all out. So they had just selected a few items to put out there, and it was, well, it was a big-sized room. But I expected to just see tons of stuff. Like they might have a table this big, and it had three things on it, you know, just kind of spread out across this pretty expansive room. So we were disappointed not in the quality of what they put out, but just, they didn't have a lot out. And they just said, well, they're waiting to get a better facility to put it all on display.

WJ: Do you remember anything about murals painted on the wall of the central community center or one of the school buildings, maybe on the outside?

DW: Well, I think so, because we painted the whole inside of our classroom.

WJ: But there were some pretty --

DW: The high school students did that, yes.

WJ: High school students did some pretty good murals.

DW: I think it's in here.

WJ: And I don't know whether that got saved in any way and maybe a picture.

DW: Well, the buildings are gone, hopefully they saved the picture.

WJ: But it was painted on the building itself.

DW: I know.

KL: In our Eastern California Museum in Independence, there was a, I don't know what medium it is, but it looks like a silk painting almost, on the wall. And it was created in Manzanar, and then I guess somebody found it at a miner's cabin or house or something years later.

DW: And it was still the same that way.

KL: And donated it to the museum, yeah. But sometimes those paintings travel to surprising places.

WJ: The buildings were just auctioned off in Rohwer.

DW: Oh, I didn't know what they did with that.

WJ: And people bought 'em and made a house for themselves.

DW: Yeah, or dismantled it and used all the pieces.

WJ: Dismantled it and used the wood to build a shed.

DW: You guys tell the stories, I'm going to look through here.

KL: When you were at the Art of Living exhibit, were people having conversation, did you get a sense for what, just the public response was, were they surprised?

JJ: Yeah, there were very few people there when we were there. I don't know if we just hit it on an off time or off day, but I would say there was less than twenty-five people there, and probably ten of them were staff. It was, we didn't engage in conversation with anybody other than the staff.

DW: Kind of disappointing then, huh?

JJ: I don't know if the whole turnout was, were they disappointed or what, but that day there was not many people there, and there was no young people there. Everybody that was there was, were our age or older people. I still get this feeling that the younger generation as a whole has forgotten it or doesn't even know about it.

WJ: People Jeff and John's age, your sons and daughter, Jennifer, my son and daughter, that was an era when the schools, they didn't mention it in history, it just wasn't brought up. And you know, if you asked the history teacher a question, I'm sure he would have answered, but it wasn't taught as part of the curriculum.

DW: I've been trying to teach my seventh and eighth graders, whatever... I didn't, I actually taught history very little compared to the other jobs I had, I mean, I got switched around. But a couple years I did, it seemed like it wasn't in the sections I was teaching, because I think I would have said, "I lived in a Japanese camp," probably did when I hit close to it. But as part of teaching, it's not built into a curriculum anywhere. I thought I saw background on one of these pictures that showed that painting.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: Well, I've got other stuff to ask you about or tell you about. There was, the person I guess who's been really involved in the museum in McGehee is Mayor Jack May. His father was a sheriff and his uncle was a security officer at Rohwer.

DW: I don't remember that at all.

WJ: That name didn't mean anything to me.

DW: I didn't either. I didn't remember the name. I didn't even know we had a sheriff.

WJ: He was a county sheriff.

DW: County sheriff, yeah.

WJ: And then we had this security detail. Security in camp was part...

DW: Part military and part local?

WJ: Well, part locally hired, and then you had the Japanese.

DW: Well, yeah, I remember in security in the camp, of the Japanese officers and then earlier the military soldiers.

KL: And he may have been, his dad may have been just a local sheriff, too, I think it was his uncle who was a security officer.

DW: But that one, I didn't remember anything about.

WJ: They may have had a security officer who was in charge of the Japanese components of the security force, and the MPs were there just to back it up.

DW: Yeah, because there were several in there that I'd forgotten because I didn't know the names.

KL: The names?

DW: So we need to go through those.

KL: Yeah, then the other two were McGehee Chamber of Commerce's man and woman of the year from some recent year, it's Jeff Young and Melissa Gober, and they're now the co-chairs for this museum in McGehee that's developing.

DW: I didn't recognize either name.

KL: That's the article...

WJ: Again, when you're little kids...

KL: And they may be recent.

WJ: Yeah, they were probably recent.

DW: That was where I read the reference to the thing for your questions.

KL: This is what I'll share with you, it's an article from February of this year, it talks about that museum that's being planned. But I guess it's going to be at a former depot, train depot, in McGehee, so I'll give this to you.

WJ: I guess it don't stop in McGehee even now.

DW: Well, even if they do, a lot of depots have been turned into either restaurants or museums or shops.

KL: And then the other thing I wanted to mention is that the museum that's supposed to go into the depot building in McGehee, the collection is from an exhibit that showed at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena couple years ago. I don't know if you all have been to that cultural center or not, it's kind of an interesting place. It's got local history, it's a really nice, nice space, and they do natural history bike rides and stuff that take off from there and go to different --

WJ: Is this part of National Park history?

KL: No, it's... I don't know where all of their funding comes from, but they're local -- I'm sure they have some national funding sources, but they sponsor a blues festival.

WJ: That [inaudible] than anything pertaining to Rohwer.

KL: I guess they showed this exhibit several years ago and created it for the Delta Cultural Center, and it's been in storage since. And that exhibit is supposedly going to be the permanent exhibit, the main stop in McGehee.

DW: Trying to get it all back together in one place. McGehee sounds like a great place, because it's equidistant from both camp locations.

WJ: Both camps.

DW: I remember those as you read 'em, because I don't have any knowledge of those names.

KL: There were two others that I guess were people very involved in getting Rohwer declared a National Historic Landmark, and one of them was Joseph Boone Hunter, he was the project director for human services at Rohwer.

DW: I thought I knew that name, too, but who was that?

WJ: He was in a state office, but he wasn't in camp.

DW: Okay, that name was familiar, it was somebody Dad talked about then.

KL: He became a... he may have been at the time even, a Disciples of Christ minister, and traveled a lot. And then Sam Yada --

WJ: Sam Yada, that's one that I'm trying to think of that did study in Arkansas, and knew Little Rock, they were very successful.

DW: You had heard about him? I didn't know that one.

WJ: When we were talking the other night about Sulu?

DW: Mr. Sulu, yeah.

WJ: That was in Rohwer...

KL: George Takei, yeah.

WJ: There was only one Japanese that I knew of for sure in camp that stayed.

DW: That's when we were talking about, you and Jim and I were talking about that...

KL: So you knew him in later years?

DW: Just of him, yeah.

WJ: I doubt if I ever knew him for sure, but...

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

KL: Those are the only really formal questions I have, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to add anything that I didn't ask about, or any other...

DW: I think we've rattled on a lot about things that we didn't think we had anything to say.

WJ: I will say this, in going over your tapes after you get back home, if you think you've missed something, don't hesitate to call and we'll provide what we can.

KL: I appreciate it. This was really interesting for me on a both professional and personal level, because having those connections to living in Tennessee for many years and working a little bit in Arkansas, and I lived in Alabama a little bit growing up. So those two Arkansas camps --

WJ: We won't hold that against you.

KL: -- yeah, I shouldn't have said that out loud -- are really interesting to me because now I have both the California connection and the kind of upper south connection, and it's interesting to compare.

WJ: We have talked about this a lot among ourselves when we get together, and kind of sad that we don't have more crystal memories, but we're just too young to have formed...

DW: Well, yeah. When I think about Rohwer... and like I say, my big, big permanent memory are remember guards at the gate, that was kind of awesome and scary. But they're things like you remember about kids, like the cat on your head, or the bike rack, or the hiding in the box, just kid's stuff, because that's what we were, yeah.

WJ: Didn't seem to hurt us at all growing up. Might have helped us, I don't know.

DW: I hope it did. I think if it did anything at all, hopefully it rubbed off in that it has something to do with the fact that none of us seemed to have any prejudice, and I don't know why. Unless we lived isolated from it or we were in it, I don't know.

WJ: I think one of the things, our dad was very anti-prejudice.

DW: Oh, he liked everybody. You said something derogatory term...

WJ: You said something about a black guy, he was right down your throat in a second.

DW: Humans were humans, and don't discriminate. Mother almost.

WJ: Yeah, almost.

DW: She had a little more prejudice. She used to get mad -- are we taping?

KL: We are, so we can wait on it.

DW: Yeah, she would be irritated about her name and living in Memphis. I think I can say that, because she says, "Every black criminal they picked up is named Willie." [Laughs] She says, "There's my name in the paper in the criminal section all the time." That's because of her name Willie. But, I mean, that's about as prejudiced as I ever heard her say anything. Yeah, she didn't like her name being attached to black criminals. No, that was what she said, because every time there's a Willie in there under the arrest thing, they're a black person. And she didn't like that.

KL: And they're a man. [Laughs]

DW: And they were men, yeah, men. Well, she had a masculine name that she had to put up with.

KL: I think that experience of being a minority is kind of a valuable one, and you guys all had that as children.

DW: Well, yes. We, I mean, extremely minority. There probably were a dozen kids in the, Caucasian kids in the camp, or maybe fifteen.

WJ: Not many more than that.

DW: No, and a couple of those were in high school. We just weren't to them... but maybe because of whatever, the families that lived there and the administration didn't have big families. Some of 'em were single.

WJ: Some of 'em were, kids were grown, and some of 'em were single. Twelve, fifteen families, but not too many kids.

DW: Not a lot of kids, yeah.

KL: Anything you wanted to add, Jim?

JJ: No. I can say I have so few, or any memories of Rohwer...

DW: Do you even remember the...

JJ: It all runs together with all the stories. But I'm glad you all are doing this.

DW: Oh, I am, too.

KL: Me, too. [Laughs]

DW: And then we've suddenly, it's sort of like talking about if you could have interviewed Mother. Well, Dad, of course.

WJ: Mother would have given them a lot more personal stories.

DW: Mother would have given stories, personal stories, yeah.

JJ: She would have still, when you ran out of tape, she'd still be talking.

DW: And that's when we started doing some of this ourselves, because we realized that we're getting to that point where any oral history we have, it's going to be gone pretty quick.

KL: And we'll definitely send you all copies of the DVD of this recording so you can share it with your families.

DW: Well, they'll like that, just because, you know, "Hey, my parents actually did something historical." [Laughs]

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

KL: I lied, I do want to ask you one more pointed question, because I wanted to ask about the woodcarving artist and how your family came to have those carving, that carving.

WJ: He gave it to my mother and dad.

DW: He gave it to our parents.

JJ: That's my memory of what Mom said, it was a gift to my father.

DW: And he was in camp...

WJ: Just in appreciation of his running of the camp.

KL: Did they work together, did he work with your dad?

WJ: I'm sure probably in some...

DW: He was probably a block leader or something.

WJ: He was probably a block leader or something, but I don't know that.

DW: But I know that we've had that... where is it right now?

JJ: It's at John's under his bed.

DW: All my time growing up, that picture hung over our couch. Wherever we lived, that picture was hanging somewhere.

JJ: Well, I had it hanging up in my little den room, and John took it home and treated it with something, put preservative on there...

WJ: It was getting dry, yeah.

DW: Oh, yeah, it's old.

JJ: He tried to protect it.

DW: You realize what it's aged then, we got it during the war, '42...

WJ: '44.

DW: Well, say '42 to right now is '12, so what's that, seventy years. Sixty... I don't know.

WJ: That's a long time.

DW: So it needs a little treatment.

JJ: He's got it looking pretty good.

WJ: Yeah, it looks good.

JJ: I don't know what he put on it, but something that was supposed to protect it.

WJ: If anyone besides Butler or some charitable place wants any of this, I say great. If they don't, I suggest John gets it.

DW: Well, I started saying, he is the one child of our children that has a really sincere, his middle son, interested in this.

WJ: It's his younger son.

DW: Well, that's true. The youngest child is a girl.

KL: Oh, gotcha. Well, I'm going to leave, you know how to reach the Butler Center, and I'm going to leave you this article about the museum in McGehee so you'll --

WJ: We might consider making it directly to the McGehee center.

JJ: One of the Rotarians, superintendent of our school, daughter was doing something out in California, in fact, I can't even remember what it was, might interact with something you all are doing. But anyway, he went to McGehee, he got real interested in this from the presentation, he was one of the few that had some memory of it. And he was very discouraged about trying to donate it down there at that time, this was a few years ago. He said he didn't think they were going to have the wherewithal to really have an ongoing thing. He didn't think it had the money.

WJ: That's the problem, even the Butler Center, I don't know how well funded they are, probably very well. But the university's program has got a little more chance of surviving over a longer period of time.

DW: Well, and you have enough problem -- I work at home in a local museum in the canyon, and it's local history...

KL: What is the museum?

DW: It's the Colman Museum, it's in Butte Creek Canyon outside of Chico, and it was an early settlement of the early days, and so there's a lot of stuff from the local miners and ranchers. But the problem is it's still small, it's staffed with volunteers, we don't have income from anywhere, volunteer and donations. But people give you stuff, and storage is such a problem. We have stuff that we suddenly have begun to get worried enough about that we bought two storage units, one of them climate controlled, to put this stuff in. We don't have room to display it. You have a problem when you donate stuff if they don't have the facilities to take care of it, much less display it.

WJ: Display or preserve it.

DW: Preserve it. I mean, that's why we're getting concerned there, because there's so much of the stuff going to be lost.

KL: Well, if you run into a point where you do want to have it in a collection where it will be well cared for, I'd have to confirm with our curator, but I'm certain the National Park Service in Manzanar would be happy to accept it. The problem is us is that we would care for it well, but we don't really have the facility to display objects. And it wouldn't be in Arkansas, it would be...

WJ: Well, I would recommend that something --

KL: But that's an option, too.

WJ: -- be done, if you could scan all of this and just put it available online, that's the way to display it, where people like John who are interested can look it up.

DW: But then you still, for historical purposes, need some way to preserve this stuff, don't let it just crumble to dust.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.