Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Nomura Interview
Narrator: Mary Nomura
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-nmary-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

JA: Have you talked at all with your children about your experience at camp?

MN: Oh yes, many times.

JA: What is it that you want them to know about it, in particular?

MN: The good times, most of the time. My husband and I both talked about the good times. But the ugly part, too, they know of it because they've heard it from other people. But we didn't dwell on it, and we didn't pound it into their heads that this is something really, really bad that happened, because they knew it had happened, but they didn't hear it from us, the part that they heard from other places or read from other places, at other places.

JA: What do you think that audiences who come to Manzanar and see the exhibits and see this film should come away understanding or feeling?

MN: Oh, they should be more understanding of what had happened and there are so many that didn't know that it happened at all, and there will be some people who will say this is not true. "It couldn't happen in America." But my husband always said that these things happened, it has to be put into the, for people to see and read and so they will never forget what did happen, and we always felt that what he started over there was something for the future. It's... if he didn't do that, I don't know how much I would have gotten involved. I just went along with him at the beginning, but as he went along and he got more into preserving and doing things for the museum, I thought, "Well, this is something that I'm going to have to go along with him, and I didn't want to go up there and live like he wanted to live, but... [laughs].


JA: Tell me just a little bit more about your husband's relationship and what the museum was that he was helping, just so our audience will know that.

MN: Well, we were on the way home from Sacramento, and we just cut through the pass there, because you heard that the Eastern California Museum had a little display of things from Manzanar from people who had done work in Manzanar, the Caucasians who lived in the valley donated some of the things that they were able to get from the Manzanar camp site, and they donated it to the museum. So we wanted to go see what it was about. And so we just dropped in, and we met the museum director there, and talking about different things, and he, the museum director talked my husband into doing some more, you know, putting things in that he might have at home that he could be displaying for them. And so from then on, it was 1972, I believe, that my husband got started, maybe earlier than that, gathering things from his own collection, from his relatives, from friends, and he started videotaping -- not videotaping, recording people on the cassette, and he just started the ball rolling. He wanted to do something for the museum, and it was from then on that he spent almost two years -- twenty years compiling things for that museum.

JA: That's great. That's great.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.