Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima Interview
Narrator: Alfred "Al" Miyagishima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-malfred-01-0016

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TI: So let's go, so from your home, where did you go first? So after, after you leave your house, your home, so where did you go next?

AM: Well, of course, the bus takes us to the, to the assembly center, and here the, all those soldiers with rifles and machine guns and whatnot, you said, "Gee, now what are we getting into?" So they --

TI: I'm sorry, what assembly center did you go to?

AM: The Stockton Assembly Center, that was the fairgrounds right there in Stockton, Stockton Assembly Center, and then they showed us to your barracks, and, where you were going to stay. You walk in there, and if there's four in the family, there's four cots there and nothing else. And I, I think there were some mattresses on the cots. We found out that there was some other friends, and so we located them, and they were housed in the stables. They had ticks, mattress ticks, ticks are mattress covers, and they had stuffed straw into those, and those were their beds. And they had whitewashed the walls and put light bulbs in 'em, but you could still smell the horses. And I guess May, June, July, August, before they start shipping us out to the interior. September, yeah, that's what it seemed like. Because we, we were sent to Arizona because my father's illness. And being the climate was warm...

TI: But before we go there, let's finish up with Stockton, and then we'll go to Arizona. But, so back at, at Stockton, place, tell me, kind of, day to day, some of the things that you remember about Stockton.

AM: In Stockton, okay, I had to make new friends there because a lot of my friends that were there in the high school lived in French Camp, a little suburb of Stockton. And for some reason, they were sent to another place in Turlock, California. So I had to make new friends again. So it wasn't, it was pretty difficult trying to make friends there, so I hung out with a few people, they had a, started up a football team, so I tried out for that. I think they had, they had to begin some kind of program there to keep us busy, otherwise you're just gonna stand around, and idle minds, idle hands and so forth.

TI: And where did these other families come from? I mean, if they weren't from where you were from, Stockton, where were they coming from?

AM: Yeah, there was surrounding towns, for whatever reason, they didn't let French Camp in there. But towns like Lodi and the surrounding area. But lots of people from outside of Lodi were sent to another camp, you know. I don't know how they made the division or this and that, but I don't think my cousins that lived in Terminous, I don't remember seeing them in camp, but I do know that there were some other people that farmed in, in the general area that arrived in camp and I made new friends with some of those people. And I knew one or two of 'em because we went to school in Terminous, and it just so happened that they were sent to that camp. We spent a lot of time up there in the grandstands, it was nice and cool up there because it was the middle of summer, you know. And just staying in your barracks with black tarpaper was unbearable, they had concrete floors and just tarpaper outside and no insulation whatsoever. The windows were minimal-size, maybe. They weren't, maybe eighteen by eighteen or, I don't think they were two feet by two feet, but even at that, they didn't allow for much ventilation. So they spent a lot of time up in the grandstands playing cards, and it was, everybody learned how to play pinochle and 500 and stuff like that, bridge. [Laughs]

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.