Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shig Oka Interview
Narrator: Shig Oka
Interviewer: Kim Blair
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 1, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-oshig-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

KB: And do you remember how you left home with all of you to go to the assembly center?

SO: I don't know, we got there by car, but I don't know if it was a cab or...

KB: Or a friend. Do you remember having to say goodbye to your friends?

SO: Yeah. Some classmates came to the assembly center.

KB: To see you?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did you have to talk to them through the barbed wire?

SO: Yeah, through the fences.

KB: What did that feel like?

SO: Terrible.

KB: Do you remember specific feelings as you're talking to them through there?

SO: You're happy to see them, but they were on the other side of the fence, and you were on this side.

KB: What do you remember about that assembly center other than having your friends come?

SO: It was a terrible place to be. It was smelly.

KB: Why was it all smelly?

SO: No privacy.

KB: No privacy? What did it smell like?

SO: Well, it was a horse barn, or animal... it was terrible.

KB: How did it sound?

SO: Very non-private. You can hear the next, everything, because it didn't have a roof on top, it was just partition-type.

KB: How long were you there?

SO: From May to around early September.

KB: What was the weather like?

SO: Hot and humid and terrible smell.

KB: What about the food?

SO: Well, it was just food, I guess. But the bad part was they give you... what kind of shots were there?

KB: You had mentioned maybe typhoid?

SO: Yeah, typhoid shots. You're supposed to give it in three individual units, and they gave you this typhoid shot in one dose. And so a lot of people really got sick.

KB: All at the same time?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Do you remember being sick from that?

SO: I wasn't sick, but there was a lot of people that got sick.

KB: And then there's no privacy in the restrooms.

SO: Yeah, restrooms, bathrooms.

KB: How was your health while you were there?

SO: I was terrible because I had asthma. I was a sickly kid when I was young.

KB: Did they have doctors to help you, or what did you do? What happened?

SO: Yeah, they had doctors, Japanese doctors there.

KB: Do you remember how they helped you with your asthma at all?

SO: I think I got some adrenaline shots back then. I think that was about the only thing.

KB: And you were about eleven?

SO: Yeah.

KB: So you were sick part of the time, but do you remember playing with friends, too?

SO: Yes, there's a lot of children.

KB: So there were people that you knew? Were there people that you didn't know also?

SO: Yeah, mostly I didn't know them. But the kids, they get to play. You didn't have to know them, I guess.

KB: Did you have equipment to play with, like for baseball?

SO: I think people from the outside brought in some play equipment. Because they played baseball with them.

KB: Did they play softball, too, just baseball?

SO: I think they played softball, too.

KB: Did you participate in that?

SO: No, I was too young.

KB: So what did you do with your friends when you were there?

SO: I don't know what kind of games we played. We'd find something to do.

KB: So when you got up in the morning, you kind of hung out with your friends until mealtime?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Was there anything in the meals that you really hated?

SO: [Laughs] If you're hungry, I guess you'll eat mostly everything.

KB: I've heard people talk about beef tongue and all that stuff.

SO: Yeah.

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