Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Toshiro Izumi Interview
Narrator: Toshiro Izumi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 2, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ftakayo-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So the next move was Gila --

TI: Yes.

RP: -- Gila River. So you're going from growing up right on the water, right on the ocean and you find yourself in the middle of the Arizona desert...

TI: Desert, yeah.

RP: Tell us first what you recall, if anything, about your train trip there.

TI: Well, it was just a regular train trip. We were put aboard a train and I don't even know how we got there or what the route was, but they had buses waiting there. We boarded the bus and we were taken to the camp and assigned a room there.

RP: Do you recall, Tosh, which block you were in?

TI: In Gila? Yeah. Block 63. That, that's the only thing I remember, 63-3-D.

RP: Great.

TI: That's all I remember.

RP: That's, that's a... yeah, how do you ever forget that, you know?

TI: Is that right?

RP: How about Tulare? Do you remember the barrack you were assigned there too?

TI: No, I think, if I'm not mistaken, I think were in a horse stall for a while. And moved out and I don't remember.

RP: What did you have in your room in, in Gila? What do you remember about that room, that space?

TI: Well, it was quite a large room. And there was nothing there except so many bunks I guess. And the inside walls were not in place. And... we had a friend that was, he was doing some kind of purchasing deal and he'd ride this truck to the city and we got a hold of him and we asked him to buy a air conditioner to put on the window. And, you know, a lot of people did the same thing. I think the guy that's selling them made a lot of money because many of the... Gila was so hot and that was a lifesaver you know. We'd place the thing in the window and run a plastic pipe to wet the excelsior or that, you know...

RP: Swamp cooler?

TI: Huh?

RP: Like a swamp cooler?

TI: Yeah. And there was a fan to draw the cool air inside the house, inside the room.

RP: Did many people at Gila have that type of set up?

TI: Yeah, there were many of 'em that had that kind of setup. So, I don't know how much my mother paid for it but that was a lifesaver. But there was no board on the inside, so a lot of spaces between the outside board and Gila was known for its heat and wind. And we had a lot of hot days with sand coming through the boards, you know. What my mother did I thought was pretty smart, she was working in the mess hall and they'd get fruit to serve to the people in that block. So a lot of these apples were wrapped with a thin papers, each one was wrapped. She'd collect all that and bring it home, I mean, bring it to our barrack. And each night all of us would take that paper and stuff it in the cracks so there wouldn't be any wind coming through the cracks. That stopped the sand too.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.