Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Isao Kikuchi
Narrator: Isao Kikuchi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 15, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kisao-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: Can you speak a little bit about the lack of privacy in camp?

IK: Well, that was optimum. That's... starting with the latrines, they just -- the men's, well, I should be careful of this because I'm sure it developed much more after I left, but when I was there the pots were sittin' right next to each other, maybe two feet apart, so if you're going, you're sittin' there rubbin' elbows. And one time I got the runs, and that was very common in camp. I was walking across the camp and I just jumped into every can I came by, and first time I had to lift my feet so the women could mop the floor. That was kind of embarrassing, but by now we're getting used to anything, since, she said, "Lift your feet." I look up and you see this gal mopping the floor. It was different. Diarrhea was so common, all the, lot of things happened in there, and I remember sitting... everybody's got the runs and guy's standing there jumping up and down and he just can't wait, so he just walked into the shower and turned it on. [Laughs] Nobody had any, anything to say 'cause we're all in the same, got the runs. That kept that camp half alive.

And the others, you feel sorry for the... well, there's just no privacy. There was no, no walls to hide behind and so on, so it's... I first tripped across somebody, face flat in the middle of the fire break. I was cross-countrying, crossing the camp, heading for sleep and down I went. I said, oh, that's soft, and I turned around and I just saw a pair of legs, or two pair of legs, and I thought, "Oh no." So I had to, I didn't, didn't say sorry or anything. I just left. Boy, if they had that nerve or yearning, they deserved all they could have. And there was one popular place for that stuff would be the apple orchard, which I'm sure lots of guys went up in the, pairs went up in the apple orchard, 'cause there were a lot of trees and a little holes that were all dug around, so it was very private. The only private, I would say, unless it was a, an unoccupied apartment. So for privacy, the ultimate privacy was, that was it. And the... it was all sorts of things they... I think the most common story you hear about the girls waking up in the morning with sand all over their face. They'd put cream on their face and the sand come blowin' in at night. That was a very common story. I think one of the more embarrassing ones I've seen is when they were emptying the outhouses, the truck would come in and attach a chain to the outhouse and drag it down, down the streets, and one came, right as I was walking by, truck came by with an outhouse, and suddenly you hear screaming in the back, in the outhouse, and so the truck stopped. He knows what, he knew what was happening. He stopped, unchained it and drove away, left the, this outhouse in the middle of the road, and after a little while a gal comes out, and we're all watching to see who's gonna come out. But she came screaming and ran into the first apartment door she, she could find, and it was a bachelor's apartment. It was, it was just going up into a show. She finally came out very, very embarrassed of it all.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.