Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Dan Hinatsu Interview
Narrator: Dan Hinatsu
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: March 7, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-hdan-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

BH: And you were scheduled to report to the Portland Assembly Center in North Portland. How'd you get there?

DH: Well, Dad had this truck, he'd already sold the truck, but he made arrangement that he could take it to Gresham and dump it there, and they had, he had to pick it up. So we, on this flat big truck, all our family sat on the boxes and suitcase and so on, and then we picked our neighbor, Japanese Kido family, and we met all together at the Gresham fairgrounds, and that's where we caught the bus and went to Portland center.

BH: Now the site of the assembly center was converted from the old Pacific International Livestock Expedition. What was that like?

DH: Yeah, we were in Section B, I forgot the, all the, we were in the, right above, I think it was horse stable where, have on, during the summer, you have this fume coming up from underneath. It was just horrible.

BH: What was the food like there?

DH: It was like army food. It was just like breakfast with all those dry cereals and oatmeal. Dinner, we had mostly Japanese cooks, whatever they got, so they set up the meal. I guess it was okay, we survived.

BH: So the Japanese people who were forced to be there ended up doing the chores and running the place?

DH: Yeah, selected the cooks and janitors. They had firemen like my brother was a fireman. My dad worked in the carpenter shop under that furniture maker, what was his name? George Nishikawa? No, I forgot his name.

BH: And what was your dad working on? What was your dad working on?

DH: He helped. He helped this guy. He's a famous, famous man. His furniture is worth millions now.

BH: Now because Fairview was too far from Benson, so you couldn't go to school anymore, were you able to continue high school at the assembly center?

DH: No, I was already, it was in May. Some people were still going, they took classes. I didn't take classes.

BH: How'd you pass the time?

DH: Well, we goofed around, doing different things, watching baseball, and they had a bunch of different activities.

BH: What was it like to be around so many Japanese people?

DH: It was strange. All these Japanese people, never seen so many Japanese people. [Laughs] But when I was in camp, my first opportunity I had, they were hiring a bunch of people in Nyssa, Oregon, for, I don't know how many weeks it was, three, four weeks, I think. No, three weeks. So I signed up and went, they took us in a train all the way to Ontario, dropped us off, and we bussed to this camp in Twin Falls, I mean, in Nyssa, they had a farming camp, and that's where they put us in the crew and then we went working for twenty-five cents an hour.

BH: So what happened when the harvest was over?

DH: Then during the week, I think it was a few weeks we worked there and then we were shipped back to the Portland Assembly Center. And by then, it was time for them to move to Minidoka, because that's when I came back and stayed with the family to get to Minidoka on the train.

BH: You talked about your dad doing some carpentry work in the assembly center. What about your mom? What did she do?

DH: Well, she helped to put away things, and she didn't have to worry too much anymore. You're fed, you wake up at a certain time and meet with other people. It was sort of strange for them I guess.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.