Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank T. Sata Interview I
Narrator: Frank T. Sata
Interviewers: Brian Niiya (primary); Bryan Takeda (secondary)
Location: Pasadena, California
Date: March 28, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-499-11

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BN: Okay, so you must have been five, six, seven in camp. When you got out -- we'll get back to this in a minute -- but did you feel like once you started going to school again after camp that you were able to keep up? That you got a good enough education that you were able to just continue on fairly well?

FS: Yeah. Well, for me, I had drawing skills. And I always managed to use that impress my teacher. I liked to draw cartoons, so even when I got out and I had excellent penmanship, because I had, in Japanese school, learned how to do Japanese calligraphy that way, and that trained me to have excellent penmanship. And when I got out, that teacher was teaching penmanship as well as English and other things. So she used to put my things up as an example of what good penmanship is. That was... I think I must have had that capability, obviously, in camp, too, but I don't know that it impressed the teachers in camp at all. Because I don't recall anything except the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Pledge of Allegiance.

BN: Were you like a good student in the schools in camp?

FS: I must have been, because I was never reprimanded. [Laughs]

BN: Got good grades?

FS: Well, I don't recall. See, I don't have any of those report cards from camp, so I don't know what the heck they gave me, just a plus or minus, or you know, good boy. Yeah, camp is totally different. I saved my autograph books because it reminds me how much I kept leaving places. You know, I have, "Goodbye," "Goodbye," "Be a good boy," from older kids who would say, "Be a good boy," that kind of stuff. Yeah, the camp experience in the schools, apparently no one really turned me on to anything. I have an only recent acquaintance that's now becoming... because he's four years older and he was in Rohwer, and he learned how to, he wanted to be an architect in Rohwer because the teacher made triangle things out of, apparently out of cardboard and things like that. But I didn't know what the heck an architect was, so it's a whole different... I'm not sure how I was motivated to do anything other than allowed to have a good time. We were free in camp, as you know, because our parents were working and kids couldn't go anywhere to get in trouble. So that's sort of a typical camp story of guys hanging out together and playing games, things like that. The only difference between, from camp, for me, from Arkansas to Gila is the kind of games we played, where we created a lot of things. Which is a good learning experience for me, with bottlecaps and all that stuff. But in Gila it was mostly marbles and things like that, education. Same thing in Gila... well, because I was older, I did make some friends in Gila.

BN: Yeah, because by Gila, you're twelve by the time camp is shutting down. Did you... I don't want to call them gangs, but did you have like a, yeah, a clique or a group of friends?

FS: Well, just a couple of friends who went to camp with us and all that, lifetime friends. But beyond that, what happened in Gila is that because I was an only boy, only child, I got befriended by high school kids. And they would invite me, the boys and girls, teenagers that were into big band and they were, had their little club room. I don't think they were having dance movies, dances there, but they would let me hang out with them and listen to all the big band music. And the irony of that is one of the guys, later in life, took me under... he was a student body active guy in eleventh grade and his brother was about two years younger, and he was also outgoing and a student body something. And the older brother remembered me forty years later when we happened to be on the same cruise. And he came up to me and, you know, we started talking. He knew who I was, and that's the darndest thing because, you know, that's how they took me under their wings. I was a cute guy and kid, young kid, only kid. Well, I have a very warm recollection of being a part of that group.

BN: And you still kind of enjoy that music, right?

FS: Well, I enjoy music, period. Yeah, but big band sound of Glenn Miller and all that stuff, it probably has a little deep root for a twelve year old.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.