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-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

JA: Did the place begin to change in its physical appearance as you were there longer? I mean, you talked about how barren it seemed when you first --

MN: Oh, yes. The improvements that were made by the inmates, the people who went out to the foothills and with permission, they gathered trees and boulders, and they made beautiful, beautiful parks. And in-between barracks, they made little streams -- not streams, but just little ersatz streams to make it look more like a garden, and they did some beautiful work with the talent that they had. So many of them were landscape artists and gardeners, and so some of the things that were constructed in Manzanar were just gorgeous. And one of them was a huge one, They named it Merritt Park in honor of the project director, Ralph Merritt. Oh, it's this beautiful place.

And we lived across the street from the, across the roadway from the orphanage. Those three huge buildings were built especially for the orphans from Alaska all the way down to the tip of California, and they brought all the orphans there who were in the, who had any Japanese blood in them. So they might have been one-sixteenth Japanese, and they could have been some other nationality, but they were all put into orphanages and so we were, we made a lot of friends with the people across the street from us. But they had a beautiful garden made alongside the three giant, beautiful barracks. One huge barrack was for the girls, and then the next one for the boys, and then a huge one for the dining room and their social, whatever. But it was an unbelievably beautiful, beautiful barrack that they built for them. I think it was even better than the administration's lodgings.

JA: Do you have any idea how many orphans were there?

MN: I don't know. I bet my husband's writings that he did would have that information, but...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.