Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Lawson I. Sakai Interview
Narrator: Lawson I. Sakai
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 13, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-472-7

<Begin Segment 7>

PW: When did you and your family go to Delta? What month was that?

LS: It had to be either early April or late march, I'm not quite sure. I think it was early April.

PW: And what is your memories of Delta, Colorado? What was it like when you got there?

LS: We were given instructions to drive, there's only one street, it's forty miles south of Grand Junction, and there are maybe a thousand people living there, not very many. So we drive down the street, and on the corner there's about ten people standing, and I guess that's where we're supposed to go, so we stopped, introduced ourselves, and they said, "Come with us." And it took us about a block away, "And this is your house where you're gonna live," just like that, sight unseen. And, of course, my parents stayed about a year there. There was one or two Japanese farmers in that Delta area, very, very remote. But I decided I wanted to continue going to school, so Mesa College was in Grand Junction, that's forty miles north. So I moved up there and got a job as a houseboy to get room and board, and enrolled in September '42, at Mesa College.

PW: I want to go back to your parents quickly, so what did they do for the year in Delta? Did they farm, or did they work?

LS: Well, there were a number of small farmers, but they were all small, and the crop is only summertime. Because the winter, everything is frozen and they can't farm. So they had to wait 'til summertime, then they worked in sugar beets and onion seed, I don't know, whatever they could do. Just any kind of labor to earn a few bucks. And they had to have cash, because all the bank accounts were frozen. So my dad must have had a bunch of cash that he brought from Los Angeles, because they had to pay rent and everything, had to pay cash. They had no credit card, no checks. So somehow, they had enough money to survive. And then about a year in Delta, they moved to Grand Junction because there were more farmers, more work, and just a little better place.

PW: And what was it like working as a houseboy in Grand Junction, your job?

LS: Well, my job mainly was, this widow was running this boarding house, I think she had one, two, three, four, I think she had five paying people, myself, and her son. Her son had married and had one room, always fighting with his wife. The lady was always consoling the couple, they were always fighting. I don't know how that turned out. But the rest of us had a... well, I was downstairs, she had a basement, and eventually, two other young men moved in who were college students, three boys downstairs. But anyway, my job was to get up in the morning, get the kitchen prepared, she would cook breakfast for everybody, help her with the kitchen and do that. And then I'd be free until late afternoon, help prepare dinner and help her with that. One of the things she taught me, she had a bunch of rabbit hutches, taught me how to grab a rabbit by the ears, hold it up, and she had this wooden stick about this big. So you hold it up, bam, hit it in the back of the head, and that would knock it out. And you take this knife and go like this, and you slit it, pull the body, skin off, and immediately cut the head off, cut the guts out, clean it, wash it, bring it in, that was dinner. [Laughs] I learned how to do all that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.