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-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

JA: Do you remember December 7th?

MN: Oh yes, oh yes. It was a Sunday, and we just heard it on the radio, and we were just shocked, couldn't believe it, that anything like that would happen, and to me, that's nothing, nothing that my country -- my country is America, and for another country which my parents had connections with would do that to America was just something I just couldn't fathom, and it was a big shock to me. And from, it was from that day on that I felt the prejudice in small ways at first, until it got to be towards February when we left, April when we left for Manzanar.

JA: Tell me about that experience of deciding what to take and what to leave and how did your, how did your whole family deal with that?

MN: Those decisions were left up to my brother being the breadwinner, I should say, and he found out that we could only take suitcase, what we could carry and all that. We didn't even have any suitcases, we were so poor. So we stitched together, my sister stitched together duffle bags out of canvas, and we put all our belongs into that, and so we each carried a duffle bag. And I guess he had the notices saying that, what we could take, what we couldn't take, where we were to meet, and where we were going to go, but we had no idea where it was. But we just knew that we were going to be going into Manzanar. I guess my brother knew that. I didn't know that. But then we boarded a bus in Venice and went straight into Manzanar. We didn't go on a train, or we didn't transfer to another conveyance or anything, we just, straight from Venice into Manzanar on a bus.

JA: Were there household articles that you had to dispose of?

MN: Oh, we just practically dumped it, and people came to the door, and they said, "We want this, and we want that," and my brother didn't want to leave a lot of my mother's musical instruments and some of our nicer things like cameras and binoculars and stuff. He just packed those away in a box, and he took them over to the local Japanese school, the Venice Japanese School, and we, all of us stored our things that we could not take into camp there for the duration, for how long. And then when we came back, when my brother went back to go claim it, it was, been pilfered and so many of the things were missing, but things that I said, "Whatever happened to this?" He says, "It wasn't there when we got there to pick it up." And even some of the, my mother's instruments were not there that she had saved, that we had saved.

JA: That's a real loss. What do you remember about this bus trip?

MN: It was a lark for me. I had never been on a long bus trip, it was just taking the bus from high school to my music lesson, things like that. That's all I knew of bus trips then. But that was many, many hours, I forgot how many hours it was, but to me it was just a lark until we couldn't get off the bus. We made the pit stops, and we had these miserable box lunches to eat. So it was a long ride, but not too serious for me because I thought it was a nice little trip away.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.