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-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

JA: A lot of people have commented on how one of the aspects of camp life, at least early on, was the lack of privacy.

MN: Oh gosh, yes, and we were just shocked to find that we had to go take showers with everybody else that we didn't know, and the commodes had no partitions and we could hold hands with the person next to us. [Laughs] It was really primitive and very uncomfortable. But I don't know how long it took, but we got used to it. And eventually, they put partitions in between the commodes and then they -- but the showers never got any better. We all had, I don't know how many showerheads were in that one room, and our neighbors were there with us when we took showers, and it's something we just had to get over.

JA: Tell me about the mess hall and the meals.

MN: Oh, horrid. The first meal that I got that night was canned sauerkraut and canned weenies. It was, it tasted like just horrible Vienna sausages, but only not as nice as Vienna sausages. It was just horrible. That's the first time I ever ate sauerkraut, and it was all served in little metal plates, army surplus things, with metal kidney-shaped cups that they put boiling hot tea in it. You couldn't even touch it, it was so hot. And the children were not allowed milk, only the little babies were allowed milk. So we didn't get milk, we just had hot tea or coffee and that's my very first memory of what we had the first night, was sauerkraut and weenies. [Laughs] And after that, it didn't get much better, but at least it was, we had rice and whatever, nice cold Jell-O on top of hot rice, and it was just worse than what you can imagine, what they fed us at first, but then after a while they started getting a little bit better.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.