Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sakaye Aratani Interview
Narrator: Sakaye Aratani
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 11, 2017
Densho ID: denshovh-asakaye-01-0006

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TI: So tell me about Reedley, what happened then?

SA: Oh, we were so fortunate to be able to stay with a Caucasian family. He (owned a dairy farm) and he had a big barn, so he was so generous to let us stay in the barn until we found a house. And we moved into quite a large house, two-story house, and we worked on different orchard picking fruits. Because we had to do something to make a living.

TI: But then pretty soon you had --

SA: And then after that, we had to evacuate again.

TI: And then where did you go?

SA: I went to the camp in Arizona called Poston. And Poston had three camps, and I was in Camp III.

TI: How was that? What were your first impressions? When you went to Poston, what did you think?

SA: We were so used to a different lifestyle, things that really changed so much. Somehow we all accepted what had to be done, and I don't think too many people made big commotion about that. We were treated well.

TI: And how did you handle the heat? I've interviewed people who went to Poston, and they said it was so hot...

SA: Oh, in Poston? Boy, it was really, really hot in the sun, very cold in the winter. It was on an Indian reservation.

TI: And when it got really hot, what would you do to stay cool?

SA: We bought a cooler, and tried to stay indoors.

TI: And those coolers where you added water to it?

SA: Yes, that's right, that's right.

TI: And at Poston, did you have a job?

SA: Yes, I did. I was a secretary, and enjoyed my work, whatever I had to do.

TI: And was this in the administration building, secretary for who?

SA: No, this is a secretary for the block.

TI: I see.

SA: We had blocks, you know, and I was secretary of our block.

TI: And at Poston, who did you live with?

SA: My mother and father and sister.

TI: And so there were four of you.

SA: Yeah. And then my grandparents were there, too, in the same block.

TI: And so for your apartment, in the barrack...

SA: We only had one room.

TI: One room? And so four of you.

SA: Four of us shared, yeah.

TI: You had all had four beds.

SA: Cots.

TI: Cots. So when you weren't working, what would you do at Poston, what would you do with your time at Poston?

SA: Oh, I belonged to the sports group, and I was on the baseball team. And then I belonged to the choir, and let's see... and then not that much activity, but I was always busy at the block secretary.

TI: I didn't know you played baseball.

SA: Oh, yes.

TI: So tell me about that.

SA: I played baseball and basketball and tennis and golf.

TI: So it sounds like you were a pretty athletic...

SA: Very, at that time.

TI: So on the baseball team, what position did you play?

SA: Uh-huh, I was a pitcher on our team.

TI: So was this softball?

SA: Softball, oh, yes, softball.

TI: How about social activities like dances?

SA: Oh, yes.

TI: So tell me about that.

SA: Oh, we had, opened up the mess hall, and we had dancing. We had many social activities.

TI: And so was it common for you and your friends to have lots of dates, or did you go as a group? How did, like a dance, I'm curious, did you go with a date or did you go just because...

SA: No, we just go individually, those who want to attend.

TI: And then you would just dance with lots of different people?

SA: Yeah, uh-huh. It was fun.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright (c) 2017 Densho. All Rights Reserved.