Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yoshimitsu Suyematsu Interview
Narrator: Yoshimitsu Suyematsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Ontario, Oregon
Date: April 22, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-syoshimitsu-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: What other differences did you see?

YS: You know, just like Manzanar, we had to weave the camouflage nets, too.

TI: Oh, did you do some of that?

YS: Yeah.

TI: Oh, interesting. So what was that like? I mean, I've seen pictures of it. It was kind of like this web, right, people were like in a circle almost?

YS: These were hanging up, big, big ones. And they hang up a pattern, and then you just weave the thing in just like the pattern.

TI: And so they had even, like, teenage boys doing this, too?

YS: Yeah I've done it, weaving them camouflage nets. You wonder, heck, why should we make a camouflage net when we're in the camp? But that's what they let us do.

TI: And so that was a paying job for you? You got paid to do this?

YS: Yeah. They say you do so many, you get to go home.

TI: Really? They told you if you did so many, enough that you would go... oh, you mean go home to your block.

YS: Yeah, yeah.

TI: Okay. So it was like piecework.

YS: So if everybody works hard, then they get to go home.

TI: And I can't remember. Was the pay different when you did camouflage nets? Seemed like that was a, like a private company that did it?

YS: It was the same, just a regular pay.

TI: Same, the twelve dollars a month kind of thing?

YS: Yeah. It was something else. It's amazing that we have to do it.

TI: Yeah, I didn't realize they had kids do it. I thought it was just adults that did the camouflage. Any other, before we go to Minidoka, any other memories about Manzanar that you have? We talked about, sort of, the sports, starting school late, some of the tension with the Terminal Island Japanese Americans, the Manzanar Riot, camouflage nets, anything else that stands out?

YS: Just had that one Catholic priest, says, they're baking cookies, says first one come out too light, that's white people, he said. Next one, they left it too long and they said that's the black people. He said the third, cooked just right, he said, "That's you Japanese." [Laughs]

TI: That's what this Catholic priest said? Was that like a sermon he said that?

YS: Yeah.

TI: Oh, that's funny. So did you go to the Catholic church?

YS: Well, I used to go once in a while. You know, something different.

TI: So he was really friendly to the Japanese.

YS: Yeah, yeah. That was a pretty good one.

TI: [Laughs] I've never heard that. So the Japanese are just right, it's kind of like one's undercooked, one's overcooked, and the Japanese are just right.

YS: Says, "Japanese are just right, that's you guys."

TI: No, I've never heard that. That's funny.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.