Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Taylor Tomita Interview
Narrator: Taylor Tomita
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Hood River, Oregon
Date: April 18, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ttaylor-01-0011

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LT: So where did you go and what did you see? You were at Pinedale Assembly Center.

TT: All I remember is it was kind of a hot place. There was, across a road there was a fig orchard, I remember that. And we kind of got together with some of our friends from Hood River and kind of, just kind of looked the place over or just walked around. Just signed up for some job or something like that. I ended as a cook help, so I had to, ever meal, they had to go and get ready to cook something. So I don't remember, they said we ate raw spinach, but I remember cooking rice. I really don't remember what we ate, but I remember the raw spinach because somebody was complaining about, just eating raw spinach.

LT: You mentioned the heat. How did the heat affect you at Pinedale?

TT: It didn't bother... it was hot, but it wasn't too bad. It was so hot that some, some kind of fainted waiting in line to eat, waiting for the meal, they had to line up outside. So I remember some of them started fainting. But other than that, I don't remember anything else.

LT: What about the bathrooms?

TT: It was an outdoor privy with about six or ten holes on a bench, and no running water or nothing.

LT: Was there privacy?

TT: No, it was all open. I don't know about the women's, but then the men's, it was all open.

LT: And what about the showers?

TT: I think it was just a big room with a bunch of showerheads on the side, and that's all I can remember about the shower. There was no privacy or nothing, just all wide open.

LT: So what was it like for the Issei and Nisei to have bathroom facilities where there was no privacy?

TT: Well, I don't know. Nobody complained to me about it, so I never heard anything. All I know is what I saw.

LT: Okay. And how did your father and your mother spend their time at Pinedale?

TT: I don't know. I don't know what they did, whether they got a job doing something. But then we were never home anyway, too much. If it was in daytime, I was working in the cook's helper or running around with my friends from Hood River, that's about the way we spent our time.

LT: Okay. Well, then Pinedale was a temporary facility. So then eventually you moved to Tule Lake, which was one of the camps in Northern California. How was Tule Lake different from Pinedale?

TT: It was a lot better. All I know is a bunch of us got a job washing dishes in the mess hall. Just came there in time to do the work, and then we used to run around together. I don't know what we did, we would go somewhere. Just kept, just killing our time doing something, but I don't remember exactly what we did.

LT: Were there social events?

TT: Yeah, in Tule Lake there was a lot of dances going on all the time. Some block always had a, seemed like they always had a dance somewhere. So my friend, he liked to go dancing all the time, so I used to go with him, and we used to try to get a date and then go to those dances. Then sometimes they had a, once in a while they'd have a dance in our block. It seemed like that was the main thing as far as the younger guys. Nothing else to do, so they were just trying to get a date and go to dances.

LT: So can you tell us about a dance, the kind of music you listened to, the kind of dancing you did, what happened at the dances?

TT: Well, they used to have a Nisei band in the camp. And they hired them... I guess that was their job, I guess, to go around to dances and play music. They had a band. I don't know. Later on, some of these guys, they bought a PA system, they had the records, all those 78 records, and they used to go, they used to play for the dances. They knew who had those and they, I guess they paid them to play for the dances.

LT: So what kind of music did you listen to and what kind of dancing did you do?

TT: It was ordinary slow dancing and the jitterbug. Because the California guys knew how to jitterbug, and everybody started learning how to jitterbug. It's a fast dance. So it was one or the other, slow dance or fast, fast dance. Learned how to do that. What was the question?

LT: Were you a pretty good dancer?

TT: [Laughs] Nothing special.

LT: Well, it sounds like you and your friends had quite a bit of time. I'm thinking that when you were in Hood River, you were working on the farm. In camp, you were working in the mess hall, and then you had time to spend with your friends.

TT: Yeah. This one guy... two or three of us ran around together. But all the guys there, about six or seven, had dishwashers, then we kind of hung around together. I don't know what we did, we went somewhere.

LT: In the camp?

TT: In the camp.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.