Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Victor Ikeda Interview
Narrator: Victor Ikeda
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-ivictor-01-0034

<Begin Segment 34>

RP: Was that the first time you'd been to the desert?

VI: Yes, yes.

RP: And so what were your feelings about it? Were you intrigued with these marvelous large vistas?

VI: Well, at Twin Falls, I mean, at Minidoka, I can't remember any large vistas. It was just kind of sagebrush out there, hills, but not -- you don't think about things like vista and views and all that. [Laughs] We had a very interesting thing that happened. Going to Minidoka, there was a bachelor that died on the plane, I mean train. So when we got to Minidoka, of course, I guess they took him to the mortuary to embalm him or something. They had to do something so they set up kind of a cemetery to bury him. And being young, you volunteer for anything. So some of us volunteered to dig the hole. So they gave us the dimensions, and we started out 4 feet and 6 or something like that. And the ground was pretty hard so when you start out, you start out at the dimension. As you go down it gets narrower and narrower, but we hadn't realized that. So after we thought we were through, when they had the ceremony, apparently they lowered the casket and about halfway got stuck because the sides weren't... they had to pull it out. And this Haribo that I mentioned to you, this football guy, he had to go down with an axe and chip along the side in order to lower the casket. So we had some strange things happening. And we volunteered for everything.

RP: What else did you volunteer for?

VI: We volunteered to be the mattress people and the bed people. So what happened is, since we were the first ones there, as the new groups came in they'd be assigned to the various barracks so that we'd take the beds and the mattresses there. Well, we go there and we take the mattresses and we look to see who's in the family. So if you had a pretty girl, the word would come around that Block 13 A, B or C, you know, there's a pretty gal there. [Laughs] So at least by being in the mattresses you saw everybody coming in, and you could pick and choose who you see.

RP: You could assess them.

VI: Right.

RP: So were there other things that you did to help prepare for other internees coming in?

VI: Yeah, there were things like people were getting ready. It wasn't that it was hot so you'd have to worry about coal crews or things like that, but basically to get 'em ready, you had to get the cots, blankets, and the mattress. And that's the part where I got involved. I'm sure there was other things that other people did, but...

RP: And at Puyallup, I was told that you had to stuff your own mattresses with the straw.

VI: Yeah. I guess my folks must have stuffed it 'cause I didn't do any stuffing. But I had heard that the bachelors, the bachelors were at one time scattered around the camp, and eventually they figured that wasn't such a good thing so they put the bachelors in the stalls underneath the fairgrounds where the animals used to be stalled. And they had to stuff the straw into the mattresses. And a lot of them, I recall very distinctly that didn't have beds but the mattress was on the ground. So it was about as bad as being an animal underneath the racetrack where the stalls were. And I guess, being bachelors, you could probably treat them a little bit harsher than a family with kids.

RP: When, in Minidoka, did they also sort of have a particular block where the bachelors lived? Like at Manzanar there was Block 2 for the bachelors.

VI: Bachelors.

RP: Yeah.

VI: I don't remember. I can't recall.

RP: Did you ever get involved with any of these bachelors or have a contact with your group with some of these older guys, the single guys?

VI: Not really 'cause we were more of a teenage, older and younger teenage group, so we didn't get too much in contact with other, especially with bachelors in the older people.

RP: They kind of stuck amongst themselves?

VI: Right, right.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.