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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: What are your clearest memories of life at Gila?

GI: The most vivid thing for me was the dust storms. 'Cause when we first went there, we never knew about the dust storms. But I remember that it was so thick that it would hit you and it would hurt you, because they were great big things. But then you wouldn't even be able to find your barrack because it was so swirly. But about a year after, we never had them anymore because they all planted gardens and things. They had those oleanders and castor bean trees, and they all planted lawns and things, and we didn't have dust storms anymore. And then I remember when we first went, they would give us salt tablets because it's so hot. We had to take those things every day.

RP: Do you remember your block in Gila?

GI: Uh-huh, five. I think I lived at 512, 512-D.

RP: And what did your parents do? Did they work?

GI: My mom didn't work, 'cause she had four kids. And then my sister was born in camp so she had five kids. But my father was a fireman, a fireman, and he did gambling there, too, in the fire house. [Laughs] Yeah, he had an addiction.

RP: Do you know what type of games he...

GI: I don't know that. I kind of think they played those Chinese games, those pai gow and things like that, but I don't even know how to play it. It's just a word I heard, but I don't know what they played.

RP: And that was, another activity always associated with gambling is drinking.

GI: My father, did he drink much? Yeah, he could drink, I remember, but he never got drunk or anything. He could hold it, I guess. My uncle used to make sake in camp.

RP: Is that the...

GI: It's my uncle that I never knew was the father of, you know, my half brother. But I loved him. He was really... and now, when I think of it, I think he felt guilty, that he was so kind to all of us. He was really good to my siblings and me. And he was a cook in camp, and he had access to stuff, I guess, so he made sake out of... I remember that thing he made. He was very clever. It was some kind of a wooden thing, and you could kind of squeeze it or do something.

RP: In the mess hall?

GI: Well, I mean, he did it... well, no, he made it at home, I think, but it was for personal drinking, I think. I never saw any of them drinking it, but I knew he made it. It's kind of like a moonshine, I guess.

RP: So you had your mom and kids, your dad, you had your grandfather, too?

GI: No, my grandfather was with my uncle in Tule Lake. So he must have, you know, in his going back and forth, he must have gone with them.

RP: That's where they were sent.

GI: Yeah.

RP: So it was just your family there at...

GI: We were in Gila, and my aunt and uncle, they were in Butte, that's Camp 2 of Gila. But they must have been the ones that wanted to go back to Japan, 'cause they moved from -- I didn't know about those things at that time, but they moved to Tule Lake.

RP: They might have requested repatriation.

GI: I think so, yeah.

RP: Answered that questionnaire that...

GI: Yeah, I never even knew about those things.

RP: Any other vivid memories? How about friends, kids, making new acquaintances?

GI: You know, it's so funny, the people that lived in our Block 5, most of them were from Vacaville. So we knew the same people that we knew. And we met new ones, too, but it was interesting that, you know...

RP: Yeah, you had an instant community right there.

GI: Yeah, yeah.

RP: Yeah, and because some folks say, well, when they grew up with mostly Caucasians, it was such a shock to see thousands of Japanese.

GI: Oh, really? Well, see, like ours, we lived, you know, it was all the Japanese in Vacaville, we were kind of together in this little community. And then we went over there, and a lot of them were from Vacaville. So we just had the same friends.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.