Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Bob Fuchigami Interview
Narrator: Bob Fuchigami
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-fbob-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Can you describe the first few days that you were in camp in Amache? Maybe your impressions of the landscape, physically, what you saw there. How did, how did you react to it?

BF: Well, it was a four-day trip from, from Merced to, to Amache. The first impressions were pretty appalling because at least we had some barracks to go into. But as you entered the, the barrack, they call 'em apartments, they were barracks had been cut up into little, six sections. They're built like CCC barracks. They had been cut up. There was a single layer, brick, under which you lift the brick and there's sand. One light bulb just hanging down. One corner of the room there's a -- and these rooms are like 20 x 20 -- had a little pot bellied stove in one corner and a little box to put in coal. And there were some, there were canvas cots that you had to put together. And there was a thin cotton mattress and two army, woolen army blankets, thin ones that they had issued that you carried in there. And that was it. There were no partitions in there. There were partitions between the apartments, but the partitions only went up so high and then because they were, the roofs were at an angle, there's a space in between so you could... there's no real privacy between these, these so-called apartments. And it must have been really terrible for my, for my mother and father to, to see that and then, of course, we had three girls and they were in with my mother and father. And then the five boys were in this apartment next to them. So we had 7G-9C and 7G-9D and there was a little entryway and you go in the entryway and then it splits into the two rooms. Of course, the first thing, you say well, what do you do? Are you gonna hang one of the blankets up somehow? There's nothing to hang it from. So there's no really privacy there. They... next morning, of course, they, they, I'm sure my brothers went out scrounging and because the camp was still under construction, they had piles of, of woods that had not, had been cut up and, and so you'd, you grab whatever you can and then they did, I guess they had some hammer and saws and at the, so you... we didn't bring it with us but we somehow got those and constructed a partition inside to provide some privacy for my mom and dad and --

RP: Girls.

BF: -- and the girls. And then of course, and then in our barrack, in our apartment they, they made a... my older brothers made a table. It's like the, about the size of a card table, out of wood and made some crude benches, something to sit on. And then later on they, they built a sort of a partition inside one, at least one partition, anyway. And that's, that's about all we had inside. There was no running water, no light except for that one bare light bulb. So there's no water so you don't have toilets or anything like that. They did build a, a mess hall a communal mess hall where we all ate. And then the communal latrine, laundry area.

RP: How did your, your barrack rooms change over time? Did they, were you able to get additional furnishings? Did you order things from Sears and Roebuck?

BF: Yeah. People are, of course they didn't know how long they would be there. All they knew was it looked pretty permanent to them. So they did have catalog stores, where, catalogs I guess, and you just ordered stuff through Sears, I guess it was Sears, Montgomery Wards, Penny's, or whatever anyway. And some people who were more talented, of course, they made their, their living conditions more hospitable. In our, in our particular room, 'course we were all boys so we didn't, we didn't do that. But, others where, where they had some of the older girls, would buy stuff for curtains.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.