Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Minoru J. Shibata Interview
Narrator: Minoru J. Shibata
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: December 4, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-sminoru-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: This is tape three of a December 4, 2013, interview with Jim Shibata. And we left off kind of bouncing back and forth between Utah and Terminal Island departure. And you said your uncle got an invitation to go to Utah, and I'm curious about what his default had been to remain and get sent to Manzanar. Why did your family decide to go to Utah?

MS: It's actually my uncle who decided that we all go to Utah.

KL: What was his thinking, his rationale?

MS: I really wasn't thinking at that time. We just followed whatever had to be done, decision which was made by my uncle.

KL: How did you get there? What do you recall of the trip out?

MS: We went there by train from the Union Station in Los Angeles. All I can recall from that trip is waking up the following morning when it was snowing in Ogden, Utah, that's where the train ended. And I guess that was the first city that I was in that snowed. And I also recall the trip to the farm from there in almost complete darkness. Because in the farm area at that time, nothing else was around, and it's almost pitch dark.

KL: That's different for...

MS: Yeah. Where you live in areas where it's lit, all the streets are lit and you have a lot of lights, if you go out in the farm way out where it's really dark, it's pitch dark. So I do remember that. I guess we were in one or two, must have been two cars. But for whatever reason, I just remember that pitch darkness.

KL: Was it attractive to you, or scary, what did you think of it?

MS: Not scary or anything, it was just noticeable that there was a different experience.

KL: So it was early April 1942 probably, you left Terminal Island and then five weeks...

MS: Something like that, right. Yeah, the schools were still going on, so it had to be before June.

KL: So you said you arrived at the Ogden train station, and then drove out into the country. What area did you...

MS: Yeah, the area is called Roy, R-O-Y, Utah. It's a farm area.

KL: And what was the first day in Roy like? What were your activities?

MS: Mainly moving in and just looking over where we were. A farm area is, well, you know, the roads were, at the time, were still gravel roads that you traveled on the cars. So you could, well, it's very noticeable because you could hear all the rocks hitting the fenders of the car. And I don't know whether it's still that way or not, probably not. However, it wasn't really isolated because there were the farms, there were many farms around, and not too distantly separated. Anyway, it was just the new environment and just getting used to that. Plus suddenly, at that time, no indoor plumbing, and outhouses at that time, which was improved not too, shortly afterwards. But the outhouses remained for quite a long time.

KL: How did you adjust to that, is it difficult, or just another new thing for a thirteen year old?

MS: Yeah, just the inconvenience, that's about it.

KL: Did you have expectations before you arrived of what you would find in Utah?

MS: None at all. Didn't know what it will be, what the environment would be like.

KL: How did you approach it? Were you excited or were you dragging your feet to leave California?

MS: No, I wasn't really resisting anything. It was just wondering what next or what it will be like. Had no idea.

KL: Tell us about the farm, like what crops did they grow, what other buildings were there, how was it set up.

MS: Basically what you grow during the spring and summer, our crops were tomatoes, peas, sugar beets also. But sugar beets were harvested around October, so it's already wintertime when you harvest sugar beets. And they also grew hay, but that was one of the, basically for the horses. And what else? Not too many... these are the commercial crops that they grew. That's about all I could remember.

KL: Did they have a kitchen garden too, domestic stuff?

MS: Kitchen garden?

KL: You said those were the commercial crops. Did they have their own private plots?

MS: Not that I knew. Well, maybe, you know, onions and other small vegetables that they grew on the side. But our work was not taking care of those, but cultivating the main crops that were the commercial crops.

KL: Were there other helpers or hired people on the farm when you arrived or when you lived there?

MS: Not at the place where we were. But the farms in the area did use, I think these were basically people from the Philippines that came during the harvesting season.

KL: Had the farm where you were, hired people in the past?

MS: Pardon me?

KL: Had the farm where you guys were, had they used, it sounds like there were migratory workers, laborers?

MS: I don't know if they did or not. They had a, the family consisted of two girls and three brothers.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.