Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: George Iseri Interview
Narrator: George Iseri
Interviewer: Alton Chung
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: December 5, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-igeorge_2-01-0010

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GI: I don't know, maybe I should tell you, I may be one of the few especially from here that went to camps but I think it was about May the 22nd, 1942. We were, we had about a ten-day notice to move to, well, we, yes, we did find out where we're going. We're going to Pinedale, California. And they had separated the Seattle metropolitan area down to around Renton, Washington, to South Park Boeing aircraft area, the old aircraft area, and the city of Seattle were evacuated about three weeks I think before we were. And the Seattle group went by on buses past our place to go to the Puyallup Valley Washington Fairground, Western Washington Fairground. They kept us in the dark pretty much of what's going to happen to us, and even rumors had it that they might force us to live people where we live that they might leave us there. Well, that was about the time that they came to the river just near us, what they call the Green River, and we lived on the Kent side of the river. My wife and I had just got married in November of '41, and we lived in an area that got the notice one morning to pack our bags and get ready to go. About that time, I got up that morning and knock on the door. My oldest brother and a couple of our friends came and said, my brother said, "If you want to evacuate, we don't know where we're going. But if you want to evacuate with the rest of the family, you better pack and get out of here right now because this river is the line." They got their notice this morning they're going to be shipped out on such and such a day. But if you move across the river, you're going to have some extra time maybe or maybe won't have to go. Well, all we did was packed our suitcases and took our clothes what we could and moved across the line where my folks lived, and we lived in the old grocery store. We had a couple of bedrooms there where our hired help lived. So we didn't have to go that time.

But my good friend George Hori and his wife went to Pinedale near Fresno which was a hundred-some degrees in the shade and no shade. But anyway, we got a letter from this George. It says, and his wife said, "Oh, we hear you're coming our way. If you are, we got part of our apartment saved for you," and it's a wonder they could do that. But anyway, it was about two or three weeks later that we got the notice that we were going to go to Pinedale. And you saw that part of the barrack there. It's a very poor example because our barrack didn't look near that good. It wasn't that finished. There was no ceiling in our barracks, and there was no rafter or what you called it between units. And there was on one side, there was a whole family and the son-in-law living probably six or eight people. We can hear everything going on there. The other side, I don't remember, because it must have been pretty quiet. But all we had was just like the blanket there in that mock up over there. That's the only division we had, partition we had between two newlyweds, two pair of newlyweds. And you know, we were real close friends, so I think it might have been easier. It might have been easier if we didn't know each other, I don't know. But anyway, you could just imagine couple of newlyweds, with just a blanket between them day in and day out. There's no furniture. There was no cooling system. We went as far as to raise the beds on bricks or blocks of wood if we could, and I put newspaper underneath the beds and sprinkled it with water so that we could cool a little to sleep. We had to go a little ways away to take a shower, well, to take a shower. The showers by the way, there was many of us sitting out in this doorway of our rooms and we could see a show every night. There was no partition or nothing for the ladies. So people come, go out of the building, well, you got an open and shut show all night. The toilets there were what we call them, I think, eight passenger coupes. They were, they had the screen maybe just above eye level screens up there for outside, and there was just like a, well, you can imagine a, what you would do is put few boards across like that and four different holes here, no partition. So of course, the men and the women were separate, but that's what we had for supposedly private. Our outhouse was much more private than that at home.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.