Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ami Kinoshita Interview
Narrator: Ami Kinoshita
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Gresham, Oregon
Date: May 29, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-kami-01-0012

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BH: Okay, let's talk some more about your experiences in camp. Two of your children, your two daughters were born in the camp hospital. What was that hospital like?

AK: Well, I know that, to be sure, I think the reason why they kept us there, and for some reason they kept us in bed for two weeks, use a bed pan and all, and then after two weeks we were ready to come home. But you know, our legs were so shaky, I remember. I suppose they were just being careful, but they were, if you compare it to nowadays where they come home almost the next day.

BH: So this was a hospital within Minidoka camp.

AK: Yes, it was.

BH: And were the doctors and nurses Japanese?

AK: Yeah, they were Japanese. Well, at least I had all Japanese doctors.

BH: And so it looked and felt like being in the hospital that would be here in Portland?

AK: Well, not quite. [Laughs] Not quite, but then, it served its purpose.

BH: So in what ways was it different?

AK: Well, it didn't have all the fancy things that you'd see in a regular hospital. Maybe that's the reason why we were all kept in bed to make sure that everything goes right.

BH: Now did you or any other family members have any other occasions to go to the hospital there?

AK: Yeah, my husband had, he was home on a visit. He works outside, and he was home, and he had a stomachache, so we called the ambulance, and the ambulance took him to the hospital. He didn't come home and he didn't come home, so I finally was getting quite worried. And after a whole day, someone came to tell me that he already had an appendicitis operation, and I was so upset. I would have liked to be there. But he was okay.

BH: And tell me about your neighbors in camp. The Kinoshita family had one barracks, and do you remember anything about your neighbors?

AK: Yes. There was one especially that I'll never forget. He was a bachelor, and he fell asleep while he was smoking in bed. And so he, his bed caught on fire, and he came to our apartment. And we had left, I had left Cheryl at home in her bed, and someone shouted, "Fire, fire," so we came running out. And when I came home, I could see the smoke over her bed. It was just floating over her bed, and oh my god. But I just ran out. And you know, they formed a bucket parade. It wasn't such a big fire, but I think the camp walls were made out of something that burned faster, and so they put the fire out soon. And the man that went to sleep was burned all across his back.

BH: Your daughter was okay?

AK: Yeah.

BH: What other memories do you have with camp?

AK: Well, I remember my husband came home to visit, and then he had a stomachache, so they took him to the hospital. And they didn't come back and they didn't come back, and finally toward the evening I found out he had an appendicitis operation. Gee, I told you that.

BH: What did Mr. and Mrs. Kinoshita, Grandma and Grandpa Kinoshita do during the day? They worked on the farm and the hens, did they get involved in any of the other activities, the flower arranging or furniture making, anything like that?

AK: No, they didn't. I think they spent all their time with Jayne. They would come over and visit with her.

BH: They had the time then to spend time with their grandchildren.

AK: Yeah, they did. I know that Grandpa used to come every morning before he went to work, he would come and say, "Shukudai ikimasu." And then when he'd come home he'd say, "Kaerimashita," to her, to Jayne.

BH: And what does that mean?

AK: Huh?

BH: What does that mean? What did he say?

AK: Said, "I'm going to work now. Grandpa's going to work now." And then when he'd come he'll say, "Grandpa kaerimashita," that means he came home. She was spoiled.

BH: Now your own family was still living on the Long Beach peninsula when the war broke out. So they didn't go to Minidoka, where did they go?

AK: They go to Tule Lake. But when they... I don't know if they evacuated some people, but they did move to Minidoka. My dad moved to Minidoka, and my brother's family moved to Minidoka.

BH: So because they were on the coast, were they evacuated a little bit earlier? Did they have to go to a different assembly center?

AK: No, they went directly to Tule Lake.

BH: After the "loyalty questionnaire" there were several families who moved to Minidoka, and that's what happened to your parents and brother?

AK: Yeah.

BH: Did you know that they were coming?

AK: I can't remember if I did, but then there they were. My brother and he had a family, he had four girls altogether. And you know, the Hobaras were there, and Okazakis were there, Kondos were there, all the children used to play together, I remember. I don't think the children felt anything, do you? I don't think that... they were more into play, and they never thought of being in camp.

BH: Depending on their age, and for some it was an experience to be around other people who looked like them and had some of the same cultural values. But for the older ones it was more difficult.

AK: I guess it probably would be, yes.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.