Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Mika Hiuga Interview
Narrator: Mika Hiuga
Interviewer: Alton Chung
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: December 4, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hmika-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

AC: So when you were evacuated, where did you go?

MH: How did we go?

AC: No. From the orchard, where did you go when you evacuated? How did you get there?

MH: Okay. Our neighbor took us on a truck down to the train depot, and of course, we could carry only, take only what we can carry, you know. So the folks had to get sheets and blankets and pillows together, clothes, our clothes, and he took us down to the train depot, and it was on those troop trains that they transported soldiers. There were soldiers with guns guarding us. They pulled down the blinds. We didn't know where we were going. In fact, I had friends in Portland, and we thought we'd go to the Portland International Livestock Exposition which wasn't very comfortable I don't think, but we kept, I kept writing to them. I said, "Maybe we'll meet in the same camp." They sent us clear to California. They called it Pinedale which is near Fresno, and of course, we're from a temperate climate, and it was hot. And I really felt sorry for this lady. She had high blood pressure, and because of the heat, she passed on. I remember making paper flowers for the service. One child, he was about ten, he was playing softball. He got hit on the nose with the ball and bled to death because there wasn't too much medical help there. You just remember those things. And I might as well tell you. When we got to Pinedale, we got off the train and got on the bus and took us to the camp, and we all had a family number hanging on our neck. And they give you an apartment assignment, and then they give you a sack, canvas sack, and they said, "Go over there and fill it with straw." That was our mattress. That was the temporary, but we did that. We stayed there three months, then they sent us to the internment camp which was Tule Lake.

AC: So when you were there at Pinedale, were there guards around also?

MH: Uh-huh, barbed wire fence, guards, towers. And they built these, well, this was temporary. This is what they call assembly center. Portland was assembly center. Race tracks in Puyallup and race tracks and fair grounds in California were all assembly centers. They didn't have time to build the internment camps. They evacuated us before that. So I still remember at Pinedale, there was no buildings like a race track or anything like that, so they had the barracks up, but they didn't have these toilet holes. So all day and night, we hear the jackhammer, and it was a hard pan, and you know, trying to dig a hole for toilets. We stayed there three months.

AC: So where did you stay? I mean they had barracks, so --

MH: Uh-huh.

AC: Can you describe a barrack to me?

MH: Yes. It's army barrack with black tarpaper sectioned off in different apartments, and family gets one apartment. They gave us a cot and army blankets. And that was summer, so we didn't need a stove. But in Tule Lake, they gave us a coal burning stove. And in Tule Lake, they issued us 19, let's see, World War I jackets, peacoats and army jackets that were kind of red and black plaid with the elastic on the bottom. So we all had a jacket to wear because it got cold. We had to work. We all had to work, keep the camp going.


AC: Okay. You had mentioned that when you're in Pinedale that this older woman just collapsed --

MH: She died.

AC: And this young boy got hit in the face and he bled to death. Was there no medical attention at all?

MH: Well, there might have been little because even in Tule Lake and Heart Mountain where I went, they used the Japanese doctors and nurses. But when we went to Pinedale, it was just, all of a sudden that, evidently, they can save him, her, I don't know about her but him. I thought if they could stop that hemorrhage, they could have saved him.

AC: And so you were there for three months?

MH: Uh-huh.

AC: It was hot, dusty --

MH: Uh-huh.

AC: And what were you thinking? What did you do for three months there?

MH: Well, when we went to camp, we're used to privacy. We go to the bathroom, and we shut the door and everything. But we got, we had to take common showers and common latrines. At first, it was very hard for us and especially the Issei women I would say. But pretty soon, you just think, well, we're all the same so let it all hang out. [Laughs] What else could we do if you have to go, you know?

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.