Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Fumi Hayashi
Narrator: Fumi Hayashi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Encinitas, California
Date: May 14, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-hfumi-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Now you went to, in the summer you started working at the camouflage net factory.

FH: That was fun.

RP: What was that like?

FH: It was fun. They, first they came around, they said, "You want to earn three dollars?" Seems odd, but, "You wanna earn three dollars? We'll give you three dollars if you come down to the camouflage and learn how to do it, and then you can get on the payroll, it'd be sixteen dollars a month." And that sounds good. We had never worked other than in your parents' business, so we went down there, my girlfriend and I went down there and we signed up and we learned how to do it. It was fun, but I was starting to break out with the dyes of the camouflage burlap, and anyhow, eventually I became a forelady and I taught, I had one section and I taught the girls how to do it and watched to make sure that they did it right. Hey, what's a seventeen-year-old gonna look for? [Laughs] I mean, not any perfection. But anyhow, we did it and it was fun, and then I think when school started it disbanded, because it was basically the kids on the school, going to school that weren't busy working there. There might've been a few others, housewives that didn't much to do or... well, you didn't have a house to take care of.

RP: Did they test you for allergies to the dyes?

FH: No, I broke out, so they made me go get patch and they put patches on my back, but, well, within time it was gone anyhow. I mean, the camouflage thing was gone, so...

RP: Also, there were some issues about breathing the --

FH: Yeah, we had, we all wore masks. I don't even know if they helped. There were a few pieces of gauze that went over your mouth, nose. Yeah, I remember that. That was fun.

RP: Do you remember also weaving to music in the...

FH: Yeah. I don't know. Who did you say it was? Henry Ushijima?

RP: Oh, Henry Ushijima.

FH: Yeah, I think the guys that used to be, were called the "Strip Boys" -- when we needed a strip of burlap they'd go get it for us -- they became the ones that ran that session for Henry.

RP: Oh, they... the music?

FH: Yeah, they eventually left doing "strip boy" things to do the high tech stuff. [Laughs] So we would, we would weave to music. You know, the... those days music. Then in the night time we probably went to a dance and danced to that music, with the same guy. I mean, the same guy that put it up. I think he's the only one that had the amplifier for it.

RP: And you were kind of like a, you'd say a floor lady or sort of a supervisor, kind of watching over the... how many would be in the crews that wove the nets? Would there be...

FH: We had two sides. One would be on one... I think there was about four on each side, three or four on each side. I must've had about four of those, so there would be eight, eight nets being woven.

RP: And there would be a net that had the pattern, like, sort of like the sample net.

FH: Yeah, there would... I think, if I'm not mistaken it hung in the middle and you copied it, tried to copy it, yeah.

RP: But you didn't weave.

FH: I did weave in the beginning. I did weave in the beginning.

RP: How long did it take a group to, to weave a net?

FH: I don't know. I can't remember. Depends on how agile you are. The one that are... they move faster, whereas the one that keep making mistake, I probably take it off and have to redo it.

RP: Do you remember a lady -- there were quite a few kids, like you said, who worked in the net factory -- one woman really took to weaving nets. Her name was Momo Nagano.

FH: She graduated with me. Went to, we were in the same class then. Yeah, I think you're the one that told me about that.

RP: She went on to...

FH: Become a...

RP: Become a weaver, and she made these huge tapestries, or art. These big weavings based on her experiences.

FH: Is she still doing it?

RP: I think, well, she's pretty up there in years. I don't think she has the manual, or the hand skills anymore. So it was a great place, great place to meet young people.

FH: In camp, yeah.

RP: In camp. These are the first months of camp.

FH: Well, for one reason, we had a different bunch of people in our camp from different part of Southern California. We met them beside the different things that we went to. It was our... I think we all decided, I think majority of us decided this is the life that, as long as there was war, this is the life. And the ones that were either more intellectual or more adventuresome or however you want to put it left camp as soon as possible. But I was there three years, and I think the camp was open almost four. Three and a half.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.