Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert M. Wada Interview I
Narrator: Robert M. Wada
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: July 19, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-wrobert-01-0016

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MN: Now you are in the desert. Did you ever get bitten by a scorpion or rattlesnakes?

RW: Never got bitten, but I think I got very close to getting bit by a scorpion and I'm sure that I wouldn't be here talkin' to you if I wasn't lucky enough, or God wasn't watching over me. I was out there fishing in the tules -- what they call tules is kind of like heavy bush, kind of like vertical sticky thing -- and I was just fishing along this one little creek and I felt something crawling up my leg, so I shook my pant leg and a live scorpion fell out. I just took off, went home and never went back fishing out there. I don't even know how he got up my leg. I guess because I was standing there for a while. When I shook my pant leg, he could have just spun around and bit me, and being where we were, we were far away from camp.

MN: What about swimming? Where did you go swimming in Poston?

RW: Well, there was a canal going through the camp, and what they did, the powers who may be, in three locations within the camp, they opened up, made a large pool at three locations in the camp, and then they built a platform with a diving board. And so that's where we used to go swimming. But the thing was there was always trash coming through, sticks and things and stuff like that. One time an AIDS protector came by, and we didn't have AIDS in those days. We just filled it up with water and were throwing that around for fun. [Laughs] So we'd do anything. Anything you could do to entertain yourself, I don't care what it was. You always found some way of making, taking something that was useless and make something to just enjoy or have fun.

MN: So when you say AIDS protector, you're talking about a condom?

RW: Yeah.

MN: Did you know what it was used for when it came floating by? Did you boys know?

RW: At that time? Yeah, we knew. You listened to older guys talkin' and so we knew what it was, so then that's why we filled it up with water and tied the end and we're throwing it at each other and stuff like that.

MN: What about the food at your mess hall? Can you share with us some of the food you ate there?

RW: Well, I only remember certain dishes because, it's funny, I only remember the odd dish. One thing that they had on every table, every meal, was apple butter, and that's a big joke with people that were in camp. If you ask 'em, do you know what apple butter is? Oh yeah. [Laughs] It was for everything. We had good food in our mess hall because our cook was a man named Mr. Okada, who was one of the chefs at Clifton's before the war, so he knew how to fix things. One time they had beef tongue, and they made it real thin sliced, you could see the taste buds on there, they cooked it in tomato sauce and bell pepper and onion, and I really liked it, but most of the people wouldn't eat it. The guys I was with said, "Oh god, how can you eat that?" But I just liked it because its taste was good. 'Course, hungry too. They had pancakes and things 'cause when we would go to the Colorado River with the Boy Scouts camping, we would just go to the mess hall and tell 'em we're gonna be gone for two, three days, so they'd give us some pancake mix and milk and stuff that we needed. They'd give it to us and we'd take it with us to the river.

MN: You know, you're mentioning Boy Scouts, can you tell me what your Boy Scout number was and what the significance of that number?

RW: Yeah, when we were forming the Boy Scout troop we had the option, they were gonna either assign a troop number to us or we could pick a number. And at the time the 100th Battalion from Hawaii was in Europe fighting, and so we knew about them so we requested Troop 100 in honor of the 100th Battalion that was in Europe. So they gave it to us. I have that Boy Scout uniform at my office with the 100 on it. It has Poston up on top of the sleeve and then it has 100 underneath.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.