Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Ted Hamachi Interview
Narrator: Ted Hamachi
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: West Covina, California
Date: March 4, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hted-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Can you share with us some of your emotions when you learned that you and your family were to be excluded from the Covina area? How initially in your gut, how did you feel?

TH: Well, when you're that age, I don't think emotionally you're not hit that hard. Fourteen, fifteen, it's more or less a challenge. If you are going to go, you're going to go and you're going to make the best of it. And so even today, filling out that sheet of paper, I keep thinking that I didn't lose a heck of a lot because I didn't own anything. But if it happened today, I would really lose a whole bunch. But at that time it was my dad that took the brunt, and my mother. They worked most of their lives to get up to that point, and the economy and everything, the crops and everything were paying off a lot better at 1940s, '40, '41. The economy was doing a lot better and our neighbors were buying new tractors and new cars. The 1937 Chevrolets and stuff were being gobbled up. New Ford trucks were being bought. We were about ready to buy a new Ford Ferguson tractor.

RP: And it all changed. You were able to drive the family car into Pomona? What did you take with you?

TH: Mostly clothes and bedding, like blankets. We didn't know exactly where we were going to go but if we were going to go to Manzanar for sure, you need blankets and... we had, like my dad had a thick overcoat that he bought when times were good... clothes like that was all taken. That coat was even used as a part of the bedding for our family. We took some pots and pans, knowing that because we had, a lot of people just had suitcases and a duffle bag but being that I took the car, we were able to shove a lot more things in the back seat area.

RP: What did Pomona Assembly look like through the eyes of a fourteen and a half year old?

TH: As kids we went to the fairgrounds. It was really amazing to see all those barracks put up so quick. Part of the fairgrounds were toward the west side where La Verne Airport is, Brackett Field they called it, that was part of the athletic field later on. We had movies, the outdoor movies, after the sun went down, played a lot of softball. It was maybe a start of a vacation. You got to meet a lot of people but the part that hurt the most was being inoculated for typhoid and diphtheria, all of those were done by blunt needles and sterilized with either a candle or no, it was actually a alcohol flame. They'd wipe the needle and heat it up and then wipe it again and then shoot it in you. [Laughs] They kept doing it, I don't know how times they used the same needle.

RP: So that arm was a little sore?

TH: Yeah, it was. [Laughs]

RP: Were there guard towers at Pomona?

TH: Yes, there were. It looked like a prisoner of war camp. They had floodlights that they can move around. I think the sentry was a lot heavier in Pomona than it was in Heart Mountain. Over here you can get away and hide, where out in Heart Mountain it was a wide open spaces and you couldn't get very far. Where over here you could have friends come pick you up and you can... I understand that people in Santa Anita, some way went through a drainage ditch and they went to a movie or something. There were stories like that being told at these reunions and stuff.

RP: Did you say that you had visited the Pomona fairgrounds as a kid growing up?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: For the county fair?

TH: For the county fair.

RP: Ironically here you are and you can't leave? When you go back as somebody who's being detained there.

TH: Uh-huh, that's one of the areas... Santa Anita race track has a plaque that says that it was used as an assembly center. No one from this area wanted to push the issue to have a plaque at the Pomona fairgrounds.

RP: So there's still no --

TH: Nothing. No recognition or acknowledgement of that being used as a detention center, nothing. But I understood later, after we left, that was a detention center for German prisoners, like a PW camp.

RP: Like you thought it felt like a PW camp. And it became one.

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Or it was one for you too. Were you visited by any teachers or Caucasian friends that you had?

TH: While I was at camp, my landlord, or school teacher, bus driver, coach, he came with his family to visit us just about every week. I think every weekend for a while he showed up. One thing, people that you associate, they have no prejudice against you, they didn't care what people said or thought. They just were themselves. That's the kind of people that you could trust and stuff. I came back and have been associated with this family. They came to my wedding, this Charles Kranz, and I've been to their kids' weddings. They came to my parents' funeral... I went to their funerals when they passed away. It was a lasting relationship, from people that did you good. But this Mrs. Kranz, even when I was fifty or sixty years old, I helped her out at her own home. I planted cauliflower or cabbage plants that I grew at the barn I was telling you about. I would take some of these plants and plant it in her backyard and they would produce if it was a wet year like this year. She never said thanks to me one time and I think that the reason for this is that she knew that family did more than I ever paid her back. Her gesture was more than I could get a thank you for. I believe that too, one of these days I want to go and talk to her daughter... who were schoolmates, we went to the same school. I want to tell her that, "Your mother never thanked me for what I did because I think I still owe her." When I first came back from the camp, I got to stay in the attic portion of our garage, that's where we moved back to and she would go up there and gather up my clothes and she would wash them for me. And she would have them dried out and she did a lot of stuff like that. Before the war, I made her a victory garden, I took my equipment, I plowed the field and I dug out the Bermuda grass, got rid of that for her, and I made her a real good garden that she could grow. And once she'd get it established, all she has to do is replant seeds and stuff.

RP: That's a great story.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.