Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Katsumi Okamoto
Narrator: Katsumi Okamoto
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 7, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-okatsumi-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: Did you have any contact with MPs at all?

KO: Yeah, we as a group sometimes. I remember one time, we waved to him, the guy stopped, starts talking. Really, it was, he was a decent human being, you know. Of course, he realized we weren't dangerous. Once we went out to work on the farms, everything was just so relaxed it was pitiful. Yeah, yeah. It was a joke, as far as I'm concerned. I could sign up to go to town shopping in Twin Falls, Idaho. You sign up ahead of time and then took a bus to town.

RP: So a bus ran every day?

KO: Yes, uh-huh. You could sign up for going downtown. Like somebody said, one of the places that accepted us, you know, all the restaurants wouldn't serve us. But there was a chicken place, fried chicken place with honey, you heard about that. And they treated us very nice, but he was smart, I think he made a lot of money.

RP: What else would you do in town when you went there?

KO: Wander around a little bit. I understand there was a few incidents where the little kids, the younger people, were kind of ridiculed and told to do, tried to make 'em crawl or something. I heard about that. But one of the, I think it was the physical ed. teacher, happened to be in town and he just walked up, I guess, and told these people off.

RP: Oh, they were harassing young Niseis?

KO: Harassing them, yeah. That was, I just heard about it. I never did have troubles.

RP: Did you go with your group of friends?

KO: Yeah, a few of us would go together. Especially after I worked that one year in Oregon, eastern Oregon, harvesting potatoes and mainly sugar beets. Came back and for my graduation I went downtown and I bought my sport coat, my graduation. I made enough money to buy a nice pair of shoes, slacks, tie, shirt and the sport coat. It was amazing 'cause most people didn't make that kind of money. And I worked for a Mormon farmer who I feel was very sympathetic toward us, very nice. He practiced his religion, and treated us really like human beings. Let us have a truck, he didn't go with us. And we'd drive the truck to town, Vail, Oregon, and go shop for our groceries for the week.

RP: So how soon after you got to Minidoka that you went out on this furlough?

KO: Let's see, I was fifteen.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.