Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bacon Sakatani Interview
Narrator: Bacon Sakatani
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 31, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-sbacon-01-0016

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BS: And so that's how Scouting started, and so we started a Boy Scout troop and it turned out to be a very good thing.

TI: And so did you do, like, camping and hiking outside of the camp?

BS: Yeah, the first camping, just right outside the fence, the Boy Scout officials put up a big tent and they even had cots in it and so that was our first camping trip, right out the, outside the fence. And the parents cooked for us. [Laughs] So we just spent a couple of nights in that tent. But then later on we boys got together and we, we decided that we would go camping out to the river. There was a river nearby. And so we went to the mess halls and begged for wieners and bread, and then we took our blankets and we went down to the river and made a small tent out of our blanket. And there was a watermelon patch right there by the river which was part of the camp, and so one of the boys had a knife and so we started to look around that watermelon patch to find a ripe one, and so we would plug it to see how ripe it was and if it wasn't ripe enough we just left it there and kept plugging watermelons. Then when we found a good one then we took it back to the, to our tents. And then later on that day it started to rain a lot, and so our parents at the camp got worried and they came looking for us, and so we had to go back to the camp. And then a few days later there was a camp bulletin, a mimeograph newsletter that came out during the week, and it said some people got into the watermelon patch and destroyed some of the melons. [Laughs] I could laugh now, but boy, I was scared when I read that and that's one thing that I'm really ashamed of being a part of. It was that guy that had that knife.

TI: But don't you think most people would just see it as a group of boys just being kind of mischievous boys in doing this? I mean, do you think it was...

BS: Yeah, we were just stupid.

TI: I mean, was, was there, in some ways it sounds like a really rich time to be thirteen, fourteen years old with boys exploring. Was it ever dangerous? Did anyone ever get hurt when you guys were off doing things on your own?

BS: No. I think the first thing we did, I remember, when we got to the camp was we got these cardboard boxes and from, from that we made shields and we threw dirt clods at each other. That's about the only thing we could do. There was nothing for us. And so we could have hurt each other on that. And then another time we went hiking. We were, at first we had this barbed wire fence around the place and we were not allowed to go outside, but later on we were allowed to go beyond the barbed wire fence and wander around and go hiking all over, and so I remember one day we were hiking and we ran across this rattlesnake. And so I had a hiking stick and I whacked it, and it broke my stick with a sharp edge so I was able to cut the head off. I should've saved the head and I should've saved that rattler. That would've been a really, a good souvenir. Yeah, and then I guess one of us caught one of those ticks, little ticks that bite you.

TI: How about the nearby towns, did you guys every go hiking or visit the towns nearby?

BS: Yeah, they, they allowed us to go shopping at a couple of nearby towns, so we had an advisor to our group and he said, "Oh, you guys should go outside to know what the outside would look like." And so one day we got a pass and we got on this bus and went to this town, and we looked around and, boy, these mini stores had these "no Japs" signs. I believe that's the first time I saw the word "Japs" and it really scared me. And so maybe that was about the first instance where I felt I'm a minority or I'm the enemy, and I still remember that.

TI: So you saw this sign, how did the white people treat you in the town?

BS: Well, I guess some of the shop owners didn't like us and didn't want our business, but other shop owners wanted our business because, because of war time and there were no more tourists in the area, but mostly, according to the newspapers and all that, they didn't want us and they didn't like us.

TI: Okay. I wanted to go back in terms of the schooling. How well do you think the schools operated? How, I guess how good was the education at the school you went to?

BS: The first year we had classes in the barracks, and these rooms were sixteen by twenty, twenty feet by twenty, and twenty feet by twenty-four feet, and they had open ceilings so you heard noise from all the classrooms. We had no, what do you call, the, the board to write...

TI: No black, blackboards?

BS: Yeah, no blackboards, no books. We had teachers from the outside, white teachers, but I think the first year was a waste. Then the second year we had a brand new high school, and so that was a lot better. So I guess the schooling there was pretty good.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.