Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Art Okuno Interview
Narrator: Art Okuno
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: September 1, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-oart-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

Off camera: Was there, was there anything else that people did in camp to make life a little bit better?

AO: Well, we have entertainment. We had a, like a jazz band, Japanese, Japanese musicals, dances in the mess halls.

KP: Did you go to those?

AO: I went to see performances. I never went to the dances.

KP: Why not?

AO: I couldn't dance. [Laughs]

KP: Sounds like me.

AO: I tried to get one of the girls to teach me, but she was reluctant.

KP: Did you do any other, any other kind of social activities in camp, aside from working and doing the Scout stuff?

AO: Yeah, I enjoyed walking with my pal. He was here today. It's the first time I've seen him since almost, gee, must be a long time, just about when I left camp.

KP: What's his name?

AO: Suto.

KP: Did you write about what you talked about with your, in your diary?

AO: Yeah.

KP: Anything you want to share?

AO: Yeah, we went for our two mile walk, according to the diary, and we talked about girls and evacuation. And my comment was, "He's a very knowledgeable and interesting person to talk to."

KP: Anything else stand out about those camp days? Any stories that just come to the top that you want to talk about?

AO: I climbed Heart Mountain. Couple of my friends and I went up and the top the snow was knee deep, and I have pictures.

KP: What was, what was that like, getting up to the top of Heart Mountain and seeing the world from up there versus from down in the camp?

AO: Yeah, you got a bird's eye view of camp. It's huge. It's a mile square, ten thousand people. It was the third largest population in Wyoming at that time.

KP: And when did you climb that, must've been '45, after the barbed wire opened?

AO: What's that?

KP: When did you climb, at the, toward the end of the camp?

AO: Yeah, I think so. I don't remember the exact date. Well, yeah, that's when barbed wire fences went down.

KP: Did they literally take the barbed wire fences down?

AO: Yeah, towards the end.

KP: Do you remember that, were you involved in that at all since you were a part of the...

AO: [Laughs] No.

KP: Well, you put 'em up. Should've had you take 'em down. Maybe that was the answer to the letter that you'd sent. Came late.

AO: Could be.

KP: So what did you think when those barbed wires came down? Do you remember that, when they came down?

AO: No, I don't remember. Maybe I felt, "Well, it's about time."

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.