Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bob Y. Sakata Interview
Narrator: Bob Y. Sakata
Interviewer: Daryl Maeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-sbob-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

DM: I mentioned this quote when we spoke the other day, but I found a quote from George McHolm, who was a farm supervisor at Topaz, and he had this to say: "My very best young men that showed the greatest ability with vegetable crops was a fifteen-year-old by the name of Bob Sakata. Bob Sakata become my right hand man."

BS: How did you find that quote, Daryl?

DM: I was looking up information on, on you on the Internet.

BS: Is that right?

DM: Yes, and this was in an oral history that he had given.

BS: Is that right? Now, until you brought that up, I almost forgot George, but he was a tall, outstanding fella, and very caring, and very, he was like a teacher to me also. But he also knew that I was interested in the study of soil, and I probably taught him almost everything as far as the common sense part of the dirt. But he taught me the scientific end of the, of the soil. So, yes, I worked with him almost every day. [Coughs] Excuse me. And it was common for both of us to be working every night, eight, nine o'clock in the evening in the lab. So I'm glad you were able to locate old George.

DM: So you would take soil samples and then analyze them?

BS: Yes. During the day, we would walk the fields and analyze them and stake it, and then in the evening I would work in the lab testing the soil.

DM: So the War Relocation Authority wanted each of the camps, basically, to raise a lot of its own vegetables and some livestock, too.

BS: Right, yes.

DM: And so this was an attempt to assay the conditions there at Topaz and see what would be a good farming...

BS: Right. And once we discovered that we could grow the crop, and allocated the amount of water that was available, as a young kid, I was assigned to create the budget of what we can grow there and how many -- [coughs] excuse me -- and how many acres and what kind of equipment we need and so forth...

DM: That's an incredible amount of responsibility for a young man.

BS: Yeah, yeah. But I enjoyed it, at least it kept me busy.

DM: I want to discuss in a minute how you yourself got out of camp. But before that, I want to talk about your parents and your siblings. How did your brother Harry get out of camp?

BS: He went on a... you know, all the capable men in the camp were recruited to do farm labor wherever farm labor was shortage, short. And they needed workers on the farm in Idaho, Oregon and so forth. And he was recruited to go with a group to the state of Idaho, sugar beets and potato growers. So that's how, but that was a temporary, seasonal help. And then, naturally, when their work was over, he came back to Topaz. And my sisters, why, they just stayed there at the camp.

DM: Did your father ever leave to do agricultural labor?

BS: No, no.

DM: And did your sisters stay at camp in part to take care of your father, do you think?

BS: I'm sure, now that you bring that up, I'm sure they felt that somebody should take care of Dad.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.