Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Gloria Toshiko Imagire Interview
Narrator: Gloria Toshiko Imagire
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: October 17, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-igloria-01-0010

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RP: Do you recall how you and your friends would cope with the hot days? Was there any relief in terms of swimming holes?

GI: You know I don't remember. Some of the older kids used to go swimming in this, I thought it was the Gila River, but I think it was a canal. It was just this, because my grandfather used to go... no, he didn't go fishing there, he went fishing up in the Sacramento River, yeah. But they, some of them, I don't remember being very hot, but I know it was hot. But we, the thing I hated was we never got ice cream in camp. And you know, here I had grown up with the Vacaville Creamery, and I just wanted ice cream, I loved ice cream and we never got it. And then the last year before we got out of camp, some truck used to come in, and we'd all stand in line for hours and then we'd get to buy some ice cream. By then, it was just dripping, it was just a melting mess. [Laughs] But you were happy to get ice cream.

RP: Yeah, it melted. How about church? Was that something your family observed?

GI: You know, my folks were Buddhists, and in camp, I think I went to the little Buddhist church. 'Cause I remember singing some of those songs that I've seen. Ever since I was married, I've gone to the Methodist church because my mother-in-law was a devout Methodist who had been... what do you call it? She became...

RP: Converted?

GI: Converted, or whatever. That happened to her in Japan when she was a child. She was a very gung-ho Methodist. So when we got married, I said, "I think we should go to the same place," so I went to the Methodist church.

RP: How about your mother and father in terms of, did they have time in camp to kind of express themselves creatively?

GI: Well, my father was gambling all the time, but my mother, she did get to do the little kinds of crafts things that they did. She used to do this one where they got crepe paper and they made, glued them onto things to make pictures, you know. They'd make flowers and different things out of it. But I don't know what... when we got out of camp, we wanted to just get rid of everything that reminded us of camp, and I think we just got rid of everything. 'Cause some people have little pins, bird pins or things made out of shells, that was like in Tule Lake, but I do have a few things made out of ironwood, though.

RP: That your father made?

GI: No, it was my father's cousin made one of 'em, it's a big old thing that he shined up and then he wrote Japanese characters on it. And I have this other little, little ironwood vase with a little stand that I think my father's friend made. My mom took in a portable Singer sewing machine to camp, it was only about this big, and on the back of it, it has our camp number, whatever, and that's like my thing that I still have. I don't sew or anything, but I think, "Well, I have to keep this thing." It's like my memento of camp.

RP: Did she make your clothes?

GI: Yeah, my mom used to sew our clothes and things. Or they used to send things from the, I don't know, Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogue. I think she sewed our girls' (things).

RP: You were the oldest of the siblings, so did you get assigned for babysitting duty?

GI: Oh, yeah, yeah. I remember helping my mom a lot, because I used to feel so sorry for her. Because I thought, "She's got all these kids to take care of, you know." So I did, I did help her a lot. She always used to say, "You really helped me a lot," so yeah.

RP: And so it sounds like, similar to the time before camp when your father was not there a lot...

GI: Yeah. Well, I think that's the thing I remember about that creamery. My father would be gone, and my mom, she'd put my three brothers to bed early. 'Cause, you know, she probably wanted to get some rest. Then it was her and me, and she'd send me over to the creamery, and then I'd go get the ice cream cones. And I remember the two of us sitting on the porch eating our ice cream cone. [Laughs] So I think that's why I have this, I don't know, I just love ice cream. 'Cause it has this thing that reminds me...

RP: A sentimental, nostalgic value.

GI: Yeah, yeah.

RP: So you didn't see your dad very much in camp? I mean, between being a fireman and gambling?

GI: No, I... he was home every day and everything, I saw him. But then now when I realize, I think, "Well, he must have been doing those things on the side. But he, I did used to see him, because he used to, he had a little heating stove, one of those little hot plates, and he would buy things from the Indians, I guess, that came to the... I don't know where he went to get 'em. But he would go get rice from the mess hall, and he'd cook different things at home. So we didn't have to eat all that slop kind of stuff that they cooked, yeah.

RP: That's another name for what they cook, slop.

GI: Yeah, yeah.

RP: You mentioned your younger brother was a mascot for the football team there?

GI: Oh, yeah, yeah. And you know, I didn't think of it, but later, when I heard about how families didn't eat together because they... and I thought, I guess that happened because that one younger brother that was a mascot, he was always with them. And so I don't think he ate with us that much, but I didn't think of it at the time.

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