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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

BH: Now when you came back from Nyssa, it was about time to head to a more permanent camp.

DH: Minidoka.

BH: Yeah. Did you know where you were going?

DH: No. We were going, they pulled the blinds down on the cars, and we snuck in and looked at, then remember stopping at Pendleton and I said, "Where in the heck is... oh, we know Pendleton," because my brother used to go to Pendleton Round Up. And couldn't even reach out because the soldier won't let us out of the entrance area. So we stayed in there, and finally we rode back and went up to Blue Mountain, came to Idaho, and everything was flat and dry and hot. We finally got to Shoshone, I guess, where we ended up.

BH: And what were your impressions when you first arrived Minidoka?

DH: I said, "Wow, what a place. It's a dust storm."

BH: So where'd you live at Minidoka?

DH: We lived in, we were in Block 39, and we had two rooms. One bigger room for my folks and the younger brothers, and Shig, Norm and I had one room, on the end room.

BH: What did it look like?

DH: It was just a barrack, it's just like our boy house. [Laughs] Nothing, just potbelly stove and two windows. That was it, and cots for sleeping on.

BH: How'd your parents cope with all of that?

DH: I don't know how, but Dad seemed to do well. He always worked, always had friends, always made sure that he had a job.

BH: What kind of jobs did your dad do in camp?

DH: At first he was doing several different things. Then because he was a carpenter expert, he became a foreman on canal lock building, so he recruited me to bring water to them on the big truck. So I drive a big tanker truck out the desert, because they needed water to, they took mud and tempered it with, mixing water, and they add something to that mud and when it dried it was just like cement. That's what they were doing. They made different locks to let the water out and in during our irrigation time.

BH: Did your mom get involved in any activities?

DH: No, she was mostly keeping kids, brothers, younger brothers going, washing.

BH: During camp days there was a "loyalty questionnaire." Can you tell me about that?

DH: Well, we knew what... we didn't want to sign either way, but we all signed yes, we will defend our country and so on. At times we said, "Why should we?" bunch of arguments and so on. "No, you got to. This is America, we lived here, we got to."

BH: That's a difficult situation. Now how did you pass the time at Minidoka?

DH: In Minidoka I kept pretty much busy. First chance we had, during the harvest, I went out with my brother and so on, went out during the harvest, we picked apples and then potatoes and sugar beets, worked in that. Then winter we'd come back in and then I find a job doing things. One year I worked in the warehouse, another year I helped my dad on the irrigation, another year when I came back I worked, I cleaned all the chimneys in the barracks, all the barracks in the whole camp and went in the other.

BH: All those potbelly stoves?

DH: Potbelly stove and there's, it was all chimneys we had to throw our big chain and rack it like this, get all the soot down. And people down in living, they said, "You're doing all that thing coming out, soot coming out?" Says, "We warned you."

BH: And what was the purpose of that?

DH: So it won't cause fire, because that soot forms on the side of the chimney, and if it gets caught, it becomes a fire. So you had to get rid of that.

BH: Preventative measures.

DH: Yeah.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.