Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Nellie Mitani Interview
Narrator: Nellie Mitani
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Pasadena, California
Date: February 5, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-mnellie-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: Now, your, your parents and some of your siblings didn't go to camp.

NM: No.

RP: Can you explain how, why that happened?

NM: Yes because they had drawn a line, I think along the coast covering, I mean, I don't know how far from the coastline, but through the coastal cities, states. And then across the southern part of Arizona. And the line went through the highway in Mesa. And so my parents happened to live on the north side, and north side was not evacuated. But the south side was. So some of our friends who lived in the south had to go to camp. But we didn't have to. I mean, my parents didn't have to. Just an arbitrary line.

RP: And do you know of any families that just sort of moved over the, across the street to, to escape going to camp?

NM: No, I don't think, I don't recall that happening. And I don't think they could very well do that actually. Probably after it was set, the dividing line was set, I don't think they were able to move over, move.

RP: Yeah.

Off Camera: Who went to... lived with the Nakatsus or something to go finish school to or something?

NM: Yuji went to live over there so he could go to school in Tempe.

Off Camera: Yuji.

NM: In Tempe there was a Nakatsu family. He lived in Tempe.

Off Camera: Yuji.

NM: And they were on the north side of the highway.

Off Camera: Lita or Yuji? It was Lita? No.

NM: Lita.

Off Camera: You said Yuji.

NM: Did I say Yuji? Yuji wasn't born yet.

Off Camera: No he wasn't. That's my younger brother.

NM: I get my brother and son mixed up all the time. Short name. Y-U-J-I and L-I-T-A. And that's maybe one reason, but anyway, I'm always saying the wrong name.

RP: So this, this gentleman did move across?

Off Camera: That's, so Lita went to Nakatsus? Why did he if they lived on the north side?

NM: 'Cause the high school was on the south side and he was still in high school. And he couldn't attend the school and so he had to go to Tempe and go to Tempe High School which was on the north side of the freeway, of the highway.

NM: Yeah, a lot of confusion.

RP: A lot of confusion.

NM: I could understand why you're shaking your head because that would not have happened now. This was what, sixty years ago.

RP: Did you, speaking of confusion, was that sort of the atmosphere in the early days of Poston or, or even the first few months, did you feel that?

NM: Well, yes, I think there was a feeling of confusion. What can we do? What should we do? That kind of a feeling. 'Cause we were just sent there and dumped in the camp there, sort of. And I don't know that there was any great leadership at that time. 'Cause they were all from different areas and we had to sort of figure out what to do ourselves.

RP: Right.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.