Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Saito Interview
Narrator: Toru Saito
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: San Jose, California
Date: December 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-storu-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Let me ask you a little bit more about Topaz. There's these marbles that you brought back from Topaz.

TS: Right.

MN: You bury them over there when you were a child. Can you share with us about these marbles?

TS: Yeah. I went back to Topaz in 1989, in July 5th, we missed July 4th by one day. I went back with my, my friend Paul Takagi, and we went there and I was so excited. I wanted to go back to camp many times, but because of my vision I couldn't drive long distance anymore, and so when Paul said he'll take me to Topaz if I went to Canada with him I said hell yes. So we got there July 5th, went out there. It was the middle of the summer. It was so goddamn hot out there. Paul got into the truck, turned on, he had a pickup truck with a camper, he turned on the air conditioning and said, "If you want to look around go ahead." I was so excited. I wanted to find Block 4, Building 10, da da da, so I tried to find Block 1 and I couldn't. So I knew, I'll go to Block 7 and go backwards. Block 7 was distinct. Seven, six, five, four, when I got to Block 4 I found the, the mess hall, the latrine, the wash house, then I knew about where Block, or Building 10 was. I was walking down. The buildings were all gone, but the, the imprints of the buildings are still there. And in our block our front porch is still there. Except for the top. The frame of porch is still there. Block 4, Barrack 10, Apartment A and B, C and D, and as I walk back past Apartment A and B, I saw these bricks, these red bricks that Mr. Takahashi put in front of his porch. And I saw them and it came back to me instantly. I remember that. I remember that. So I went over to Apartments C and D and I looked at the, the framework of our porch. Then I saw where our, the front porch and our building used to intersect, and there was a pile of stones that I collected, and that brought back another memory. I said, jeez, I remember those stones. But if you would've asked me, "If you, if you went back to Barrack 10, would you..." No, but as soon as I saw it it brought back this memory. So I was standing in front of this, our front porch and I wanted to do some investigating or some digging around and some searching, but I thought, I shouldn't do this because my, this is also my, my brothers' and sisters' place and I don't want to disturb it doing any, doing any archaeological diggings and whatever, so I didn't do anything.

But I came back in 1995, which was exactly fifty years from the time we left, and I was standing at the front porch again and something told me to dig at the lower right hand corner. So I took a stone and I broke the surface of the -- desert floor was as hard as a rock -- I broke the surface, then after that it was like beach sand. I dug down about, I don't know, about eight, ten inches and there were twenty-eight marbles all nestled together that I had put from the side of the porch as my hiding place. And through the years the dust had covered it all up, but I couldn't believe my eyes. People ask me, did you remember? No, I don't remember putting those marbles, but when I found them I remembered. They were my marbles. I picked them up and I brought them back, and they're, because in Topaz there were no slides, there were no swings, there was no playground apparatus for children, so we had to make our own fun. And the only toys we had was marbles. Every kid played marbles, and we did. So that's been kind of a treasure from the past for me. I still have 'em at home. I show people and they, they can't believe it. But it's true.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.