Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yoji J. Matsushima Interview
Narrator: Yoji J. Matsushima
Interviewer: Valerie Otani
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: November 15, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-myoji-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

VO: So what... did you hear... what happened to your family then, the rest of you who were left here in Portland?

YM: Can you repeat that again?

VO: Well, so your father was off in the camps, the FBI camp in Missoula, and you were here in Portland. So then can you describe then what happened after that?

YM: Well, let's see. January, February, March... I guess we were just living here in Portland until we got the word that we have to go into the assembly center.

VO: Did you hear anything from your father, any letters?

YM: Not while... I don't remember him saying anything about my mother talking about getting a letter from him from Missoula. I knew we got letters from him when we were in Idaho, Minidoka, but I don't recall getting letters from him. Most of the letters I think came through Red Cross, I don't know.

VO: And while your mother then was in charge of closing the business and taking care of you, do you remember much about how she acted or what she thought?

YM: Well, she was... it was up to my mother and aunt to close up the store, and she kind of took charge, had the remaining employees help close up the store and get everything in order.

VO: As a child, did you have much sense that that was hard time for her?

YM: When I... well, when we were in, yeah, I think so. During that period it was kind of a hard time without any males around. Then after we... I think it was very hard when she went to Minidoka, the hardest because of the weather and everything, you know. I think Minidoka was the hardest for her.

VO: So do you have any impressions of the assembly center?

YM: Yeah, we had a good time, the kids did. We ran around all over and played with our friends.

VO: Did you have school?

YM: If you call it that. It wasn't much. But Lury Sato organized the school and we had school. Well, it was June, July and August. In September we were off in Minidoka.

VO: What was your impression, your first impression when you arrived at the assembly center?

YM: Well, we went through the gates, and then I saw the mess hall with all the dishes and the cups lined up, and the smell from the kitchen, which was strange because it's not like the type of food that we were used to eating.

VO: So then your family went from the assembly center, this is your mother and you and your brother.

YM: That's correct.

VO: To Minidoka?

YM: Yes.

VO: And at that time, your father was in the FBI camps.

YM: That's right.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright (c) 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.