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-01-0003

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JA: What were the first things you remember seeing when you got off the bus at Manzanar?

MN: Oh, I was in the bus yet when we got into camp to the, where the buses went in, and we saw all these faces looking up at us, and they were all looking for familiar people that they might have known from wherever they came from. And they -- it was dusty, of course, dusty, windy day and people had on World War II -- World War I caps and jackets, goggles, I mean, it was a sight to behold, it was something I'll never forget. It was really scary to see all those dark faces with all that awful khaki-colored uniform looking up into the buses. And we thought, "My gosh, what is this?" And to that... I'll just never forget that experience. And we were sent to an area to get our ticking, mattress, for our mattress, for our bedding, and that was the first day. And that's something that I just -- that's a vivid memory that I'll never forget.

JA: What was going through you emotionally?

MN: I was on the... well, I guess I was on the verge of crying. I did not cry. I did not cry until that night when we got into the bed, into a cot with the mattresses that were filled with straw ticking, and we didn't know what was happening. I was sixteen, my sister was thirteen, and we just didn't know what was happening. We just went there because we were told to be there. We went along, and it was just a shocker for us. And that night is the first night that I just cried because I said, "What is this?" We didn't know how long we were going to be there, but I did have the luxury of having my older brother with me. My eldest sister, she had gotten married right before camp and so she went, went with us, but she went into another barrack from us, but my little sister, my sister older than me, and my brother, four of us were in one little barrack room.

JA: What was that room like?

MN: It was a little room with four mattresses -- four cots, and it was, what, twenty by... 20' x 25', I believe it was, the room, and it had one oil stove. And nothing, no partitions, nothing. Just one bare room where we put our cots and our little gunny -- our duffle sack, duffle bag full of our clothing; nothing else. And from that time on, I don't know how long it took before we were, my brother was able to build a little partition for us so we'd have a little privacy from, from my brother, there's three sisters and my brother.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.