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-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: So on this train trip and when you first got to Heart Mountain, do you have any expectations about what this place might look like or what you wanted it to look like?

TH: That was something that you're anticipating. It all looks the same, it's just what area are you, where are you going to end up.

RP: Where did you end up in the camp, what block?

TH: Block 20 which would be the northwest corner.

RP: Can you describe how the blocks were laid out at Heart Mountain?

TH: Yeah, I think it was more than a square mile, I believe, one, two and they had built it bigger but they had some empty blocks. It was good that they had some that were sort of empty because if there were a big fire or something, you had to run to a firebreak or something. I think Manzanar had a big open area up in front by 395, there was an open area, too.

RP: You had a fair sized family, your mom and dad and yourself, two sisters, and did you have younger brothers yet?

TH: Yeah, two younger brothers.

RP: Like a family of seven. Originally at Manzanar all the rooms were twenty by twenty five, at Heart Mountain they were set up according to the size of the family.

TH: I think the barracks are similar, there were was A, which only held about three, three or four. Then unit B, that we lived in, was like twenty by twenty five. Then there was a C and D that was the same, that was the two middle barracks, and then the same thing on E and F.

RP: So six rooms in each barrack?

TH: Yeah. Then you could hear whatever somebody is whispering, your hearing is better when you're younger, so you could hear what they're talking about. When we first got to Heart Mountain, there was no ceiling, there were just the roof. Later on they brought in celotex, like four by eight plywood, and you could either turn the white side down or the brown side down, so you had a choice, but no insulation on top.

RP: Did you ever have partitions where your space was partitioned into smaller rooms?

TH: You did that with blankets or --

RP: But never any walls?

TH: No, we didn't do anything like that although some people that were carpenters or they had access to materials, they did it better. I see some pictures that people wanted to make their home livable so they put a lot of effort into it. I myself built a chest of drawers and a table, chairs. We went to an area where we had all the building leftovers, cement coated one by twelves and stuff. All the trash, we fished stuff out of there.

RP: You recycled it into furniture?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: You mentioned the celotex, do you remember any other changes in your barrack room during the time that you were at Heart Mountain? Did you acquire any additional furniture or order things from the Sears and Roebuck catalog that you might have put in your room?

TH: No, you couldn't even take a radio to camp with you. I think later on we had this Charles Kranz ship that small radio that we had because we stored a lot of stuff in his attic, some of the mechanics hand tools, wrenches and stuff, he sent some stuff that I wanted. But you can also order saws and stuff from Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward.

RP: So your two older sisters found jobs at the hospital?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: In Heart Mountain? What did they do there?

TH: My older sister, because she had experience working in the mess hall, handling food, so she got a job as a dietitian. Her uniform was pink striped or something anyway, if you're a nurse's aide you had different colored gowns or uniforms.

RP: And your other sister was a nurse's aide?

TH: Yeah.

RP: As a result of her experience at the camp, she went on to become an RN?

TH: Yes.

RP: Where?

TH: In Marshalltown, Iowa. There's a town I went and visited in the year, about year 2000 or 2001. Because I was in Iowa, and my sister had trained to become an army cadet nurse during World War II, that I wanted to go see where she was trained. And it was in the old part of Marshalltown in the year 2001, the city moved near the freeway I guess. But the hospital was still there and according to my sister, a lot of Native Americans gave birth and stuff and that's where they got their practice on healthcare, sort of like a government operated hospital since Native Americans used it and probably the other local people, too.

RP: Were you aware of any effects or impacts of any evacuation in camp like had on your two sisters? How did they feel about what was happening?

TH: Well, I don't know. I wasn't a... if I was a female, I'd probably have a little bit more feeling. But I feel that while my older sister got married in camp, she met the other people of the opposite sex. Where if she stayed, there was no war, maybe my oldest sister might have gotten married by intermediary, baishakunin, might have been that way but she found her mate there in camp. And so that sort of helped. My other sister that became a nurse had a boyfriend. It was a normal everyday existence. I don't know if there was any impact outside of that.

RP: A positive impact?

TH: Yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.