Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Manzanar family life got distorted – Sally Kitano (OH0071)


We went to Manzanar in ’42. I guess we got there on April 1st, Fools’ Day. Of course, everyone thought that was the worst place anyone could be, to me, because I was only 9 years old, and I thought this was fun. I had all my neighbors across the street I could play with. Manzanar was a place called “roastin’, toastin’,and dustin’.” It was very warm. It was very dusty. And I weathered the storms, the windstorms. My dad then went to work on the farms there ’cause that was his livelihood from before. Then my mother went to work in the kitchens, so the one drawback from that was the fact that we never ate together as a family in the mess hall. And so I was always with my friends and my mom and dad were doing whatever they had to do, and so that was kind of a breakup of the family in a sense.

Family life kind of got distorted in camp, mainly because the parents were working, either in the kitchens or at something, and then of course we had all our friends we played with. So when it was time to go to lunch we went to lunch with them. And then of course we’d continue playing right after lunch and my folks would come home later in the day, my mother especially. My sisters took odd jobs. They were… my sister worked in the camouflage department. My brother became an electrician, and he enjoyed that. And then, some of my sisters became housemaids for the camp personnel, and I think they earned about $16 or $19 a month. They were $16 when you started and you ended up with $19 if you did very good.

Video Interveiw — February, 2006

Sally Kitano

Shimako "Sally" Nishimori Kitano was 9 years old, in the fourth grade, when she was evacuated. She was the youngest of five children. The Nishimori family did not move to Minidoka with most of the Bainbridge Island Japanese. They stayed in Manzanar.