Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Susumu Yenokida Interview
Narrator: Susumu Yenokida
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ysusumu-01-0010

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RP: Then you, then you were sent to Amache. And tell us briefly your impressions of Amache and what life was like for you there, early on, before we get into the draft issue.

SY: Well, Amache to me was just another, another day in life. You see what I mean? We went... we were going through our daily thing and I was going through high school then. I spent two years in high school there. And yeah, it was, it was fun time for me at that time. Yeah. Mom, through the arrangement of the construction of the material that used for the housing there and our, our floor was a brick floor. And when the rain came... before I mention the rain, the houses was not level. The houses were level, but the ground was not level. By that I mean if there's a hillside, they dug into the hillside and then made the thing flat so they could build the levy, I mean, the barrack.

RP: Right.

SY: And we're on the, on the east... no, we were on the south end of that barrack and then, then the ground terrain, the hillside is like this and the, and the barrack is sittin' within that hillside. And then if it ever blew, the sand all came in through the window because it's a direct shot through the window. If it rained, the rain would drop off the eaves and then there was no drainage so it will seep underneath the house and come up in the bricks. And when that happens, my mother lost her health because of the fact that she couldn't stand the smell of those bricks. I think close to four times I... there was a telephone on the outside of the pole for the block and I called the hospital, two o'clock in the morning, and my mother, she'd be out of breath because of her asthma. And there was no reply. Everybody's busy over there so I had packed her on my back. And that's over... I was looking at the distance today, the other day, and probably about almost three quarters of a mile that I had to pack her on my back, not once, but maybe four or five times.

RP: And did she... did her condition improve at all or, over time, or...

SY: Well, her condition never did improve because of that fact, that she was living in the same apartment.

RP: Right.

SY: Yeah.

RP: The bricks were always wet after... so you just had to take her to the hospital and deal with it.

SY: Right. So I... I'm indebted to the community members. When we were gone, I don't know who took care of her. You see what I mean?

RP: Right.

SY: Yeah. But I do have some idea as to who was close by. So, yeah, yeah.

RP: Uh-huh.

SY: I'm thankful for their efforts because I knew she couldn't do it by herself, yeah.

RP: What block were you in, Sus, at Amache?

SY: I was block, in 10E and apartment 1B.

RP: 1B. Okay.

SY: Yeah.

RP: And did you eventually work in camp at all?

SY: I was a student in, in Amache. But my brothers were... Min was a, he was, worked as a transportation thing going to Lamar, going to Granada, to pick up supplies for the, for the camp. And, yeah, he was doing okay. My brother Sam was, was the person that unloaded coal from the boxcars. And he'd go there every day and work. And through that, I kind of believe that he developed his black lung. And he died 1993. But, through... you know, you take an x-ray. I have the x-ray at home and it's... the left lobe was all covered with, with black lung and they had also covered up his, his blood vessels so we couldn't do nothing for him at that time. Yeah. He finally passed away with a heart attack when I was in Japan one day.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.