Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frances Sumida Palk Interview
Narrator: Frances Sumida Palk
Interviewer: Todd Mayberry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 13, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-pfrances-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

TM: So early May, 1942, your family is at the assembly center in Portland. And do you know the circumstances when they left the Taylor Hotel, do you know if anyone said goodbye to them, those that were staying there, the family that owned the hotel, do you know the circumstances, were those ever shared with you?

FP: They lost a lot. But I imagine they put things in storage that were awful loss, because Dad was starting all over again, basically. So there was very little left, if any. And some Japanese families had a tougher time than others. If they had very, very good friends who would take in their things and kept it for them, that would be great, but then there were others that were not so lucky. They came back and all their possessions were gone. So there was quite a difference there.

TM: Did your parents ever share memories of what it was like raising you and your brother at the assembly center, what life was like there?

FP: Yes. I remember very... oh, the assembly center? I don't remember. I just don't remember, other than what was passed on to me from Mother and Father. I do remember that... and I read afterwards, and then Mother confirmed this. She said, oh, the stench was just horrible, because it was at the Pacific Expo, and the boards were laid over manure from the horses and cows, sheeps and goat, and we had to endure it. So it was, the odor was really hot. It was hot and sultry and that would make more of the odor come up through the cracks, so it made it very difficult.

TM: Did your parents ever share what they did as far as activities at the assembly center or any other memories at all that they shared any part of at the assembly center?

FP: I don't remember an awful lot there. And it was before my memory developed.

TM: Well, just even stories that they might have shared with you later in life.

FP: Right, right. But that was all for sure I remembered was the terrible odor, and the waiting and waiting and not doing anything, that was pretty horrible.

TM: And so just to get a picture here, your grandmother, your parents, you and your brother, your two uncles were there as well at the assembly center? Is that the case?

FP: Let's see, at the assembly center. Probably, probably. But, see, I was only a year, not even a year old. So, let's see... no, wait, wait. I was born in 1939, so I would be two years old. Just barely beginning to remember things on the cusp. And then after, from there on back, it's from what Mom and Dad shared with me, and what I have observed at the museum for example.

TM: So which camp did you go to with your family?

FP: Minidoka, which was just a thrill to me about three or four years ago, I got to introduce my son. This is, we were on the way to Yellowstone, and we made a side trip, and it took about two or three hours but we found Minidoka, so we had a pilgrimage there.

TM: That's great, we're going to talk about later.

FP: Right.

TM: So what block did your family live in?

FP: I believe it was 31.

TM: And what were your living quarters like? Do you recall your early memories of your living quarters?

FP: Yes, yes, because memories started to come in about, it was, what, about September, and I would be September of '42, three years, okay.

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