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-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Was there a particular person or event in camp that stands out in your mind that you knew of, whether it might have been a teacher or...

GI: Well, there was a Miss Peterson, I remember her. And she used to let, oh, I don't know how many of us kids, a handful of us kids, go to her apartment, which was kind of close to where the administration building and where the sentry and everything. But she'd let us go after school to her place and she'd teach us little crafts. And then pretty soon she was gone, and someone said, "Oh, she got into trouble 'cause she wasn't supposed to do those things." And I always wondered what happened to her. And I remember they used to have these Ouija boards, and I remember one time all of us just sitting in this room all just craning to look into this, 'cause two people were doing this Ouija board, 'cause somebody had disappeared and they couldn't find that person. And they would say, "Well, is she here?' 'Is she there?" kind of thing. I used to think that was so exciting, this Ouija board thing. And I was thinking, "Gosh, I guess some people used to disappear," and I don't know if they were taking off with their boyfriend or going different places. But I guess that was the extent of our excitement, doing those kind of things. But we used to have movies, and it was an outdoor theater, and we would sit on the ground with our blankets. And we'd take these little jars of water for when we got thirsty. And we'd see those cowboy and Indian movies, and we'd say, "The Indians are going to come get us out of here." [Laughs] And you know, that was a big deal. We'd say, "Oh, those Indians are going to come and help us, get us out of here." And years later, when I saw how powerless they were, I thought, "That was so dumb." [Laughs] 'Cause later, when I went to camp, and I went to look at our camp, and I saw these barracks and I thought it was our camp. But the Indians had hauled them away and they were living in them. You know, I mean, this is so many years after. And then the next time we went there, they weren't there anymore. And I asked this person what happened and they said, "There was a flash flood, all those washed away." And I thought, "Those poor people." Here they were living in our leftovers, you know.

RP: So when was your first visit back?

GI: Oh, gosh. When was the first visit back? I think we went on a motor home, my mother and my father. Must have been about forty-five years ago or something, forty years ago, and we went looking for our camp. And we got to Phoenix, and I'm calling up archives and everything and saying, "Can you tell me where this is?" And one lady says, "Well, what do you want to know all that stuff for? That's all ancient history." I said, "Well, I lived there. I kind of want to go see it," you know. So we finally -- oh, I remembered I knew this Chinese girl in Sacramento who was from Casa Grande. And that's where we got off the train, and she says, "It's on the Sacaton Indian Reservation." So we looked up on the map, and I said, "Here's the Sacaton Indian reservation." So we went over there, and I got all excited, I said, "Oh, I see our camp," 'cause I saw a barrack. And it was their, the tribe's whatever, their center, whatever. And we found a Indian security person, and I said, "Do you know where this camp is?" And he says, "Oh, yeah, you go on that blacktop, you go there, it's over there." So we went and we found it. And we went up that butte, and I had thought I was imagining things, and there was that water tower, you know, the concrete of the water tower, and there was a war memorial thing. And I said, "Oh, my god, I thought I imagined all this," but it was all there. My father said, "Oh, that's where the hospital was, and that's where this was," and then we went down and we saw lots of little shards and things, you know, the little remnants of things. And so we kind of walked around. And then my husband said, "Oh, they're gonna have a flash flood, so we better get out of here." So we quickly drove out of there. The next time we went, my husband was working in Phoenix, so we went with him. And I couldn't remember where the place was, so I knocked on this one lady's house, I said, "Do you know where this camp was?" She said, "Oh, you must mean Jap Camp." And I said, "Yeah, I think that's the camp." [Laughs] So then she says, "Well, you go this way and that way," and then we found it again. And then the next time I went was when they had a dedication of a plaque. That time, they roped things off like you do with the yellow markers, and they showed -- so then, it was nice, I got to walk around five. And I knew that there was a pond. And when I went there I found it, and it said, "Harada," and that was the name of the man that had done it.

RP: Built the pond?

GI: Yeah, yeah. But now, someone told me, in Denver, that the Native Americans have taken that back or done something. Do you know about Gila? I mean, what's happened to that place?

RP: Well, I know it's part of the reservation, and you have to be, you have to go through some hoops to be able to go visit out there.

GI: Yeah, 'cause this one woman told me she was the governor, this Native American woman, she gave me her card. She said, "If you ever want to come, you call me, and then I'll let you in." So I don't know what's happening.

RP: They've been talking about establishing a cultural center out there. I mean, they already have one right along the highway.

GI: Oh, they do?

RP: With an exhibit about the camp.

GI: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.