Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Art Imagire Interview
Narrator: Art Imagire
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-iart-01-0008

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RP: So you, you say that you were coming back from the movies when you...

AI: Yeah, oh yeah. When I --

RP: -- you were talking about Pearl Harbor.

AI: -- when I came and they had the long face. And that's about all that I recall is they said.. and I remember going down to City Hall and getting our Christian names. But that's about all I recall, other than the burning. And the next thing I know, we're going to Reno. And I even asked my brother what prompted that decision and he doesn't recall what happened. And I was just talking to a couple at the opening ceremonies just a little while ago. They're residents of Colorado, and they lived in Los Angeles when the war started. And they said they moved to Colorado, to Denver, because they had a aunt who lived here. So they probably met the same prerequisites that was required of us and, and were able to move here.

RP: Right. And you told me that you, the decision probably was made in a very short time to leave.

AI: Yeah, that's how my brother recalls it and, and that's how I recall it. The decision was maybe within weeks because the window (of opportunity) wasn't very large.

RP: It was about a month.

AI: Yeah. Pardon?

RP: Less, less than a month.

AI: Yeah, yeah.

RP: From March 1st to March 27th, and that was it. One, if you were frozen in place after, after March 27th. So sometime during that time, your parents made that decision to go. And tell us, if you can recall, Art, what, how did you prepare in terms of you had two businesses. Or actually one building.

AI: Yeah, one building.

RP: And, do you recall what happened to, to the businesses and...

AI: Yeah, yeah. I've asked my brother about that. I didn't know. But the only thing I thought I had heard was they paid someone some money to close down their business. And my brother says they gave it to that Brother Star business next door and they took care of sending all the clothes back to the people and closing down the shop and that sort of thing. Fortunately all the, all the equipment and things was leased so I guess my folks just paid off the lease and just left it in place.

RP: And the building was leased, too?

AI: Yeah, I think so. I think so, yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. Did you have personal possessions that you had to store with somebody? Or...

AI: No, I think my...

RP: You just took everything.

AI: We just about took just about... even the piano got up there somehow. And I don't know how that got up there. But...

RP: And what did you have for vehicles to haul yourselves and your...

AI: Yeah. We had an old 1938 Pontiac, well, at that time it was four years old, that we piled everything into and moved up to Reno, that far. Yeah.

RP: Now do you, do you recall any other Japanese American families from your community who did the same thing as your family? Did you...

AI: I don't recall of any directly, that I could, that I could remember. Most of the people that were there already lived there. There was the, the Ishii family, that Fumi Shimada, that -- her maiden name is Ishii -- they lived there in Sparks. There's a Nishiguchi family that lived in Reno, and Mr. Nishiguchi was also a rail worker, but he worked up in the city of Gerlach, Nevada, which was also a railroad town. And he was displaced.

RP: So Reno was sort of a gathering point for not only the displaced from California but from all...

AI: Yeah, but they were there before. It's a strange coincidence, but there's a family in Carson City that ran a cleaners called Mercury Cleaners. And the owners of that were cousin to my wife's father. And that's even before I knew her. So, it, we found, we found out that they, that we had, we had a connection that way, that we never, didn't realize existed.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.