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-1000-499-13

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BN: And then you said that you started eighth grade in Phoenix?

FS: In Phoenix, yeah.

BN: What do you remember about that?

FS: Well, I remember the school. I went on a bus, there was a bus line right next to us. They had a large estate and, I think, politically connected to the bus lines were right there, it's convenient. What I recall, I have pictures from our class. There were people of color, but not blacks. I think a couple of Native Americans, maybe a Latino kid, I'm not sure. But that was sort of basically white kids. It was a little more integrated where I wasn't the only person, person of color. So I guess I didn't feel any discomfort. It is quite a change for me physically, when you think about camp, and nothing but Asian kids, right, and then to go there being the only Asian kid in the whole school. But there were Native American kids, I believe.

BN: Do you remember the name of the school?

FS: Yeah, Madison. And it's a grammar school.

BN: Was it a fairly... were most of the other kids also from fairly wealthy families or was it pretty mixed?

FS: No, I think they were just a community, a general public school, that area.

BN: Like did the daughter of the...

FS: Oh, she didn't go there.

BN: I don't know where she went.

FS: I don't know if it's anything but private schools and that stuff.

BN: Were you, this is right after the war, were you treated, did you face any kind of racial anti-Japanese stuff at that point?

FS: No, I didn't have anything that was traumatic. I think the fact that I, again, my penmanship, she actually made me somebody. I probably had more connection with that aspect of growing than I did in camp. I don't think... I was just one of thirty, twenty kids in the classroom in camp. But then when I got to Madison grammar school, I felt a little more special, I guess. Because I had some skills, I couldn't write a composition or anything, I had to use my comic book memory. But that's...

BN: Did you do sports or other things there?

FS: Not there.

BN: Not in Phoenix?

FS: No. I don't recall the... I don't even know if they had programs, physical ed. programs.

BN: And then I know you mentioned you were the only Asian in the school, but were there other Japanese families anywhere in the area or were you just, it was just your family?

FS: I think there was one, but I don't know. At that time, it seemed like my father made a connection because I think they had a nursery, but then we didn't have a car. My father didn't drive, so we were pretty much stuck on the estate there. So, yeah, we couldn't really connect, and any Japanese family that we might have known, I would think that they were in the same situation there, working harder, starting a business, whatever. So there wasn't many interaction that I remember.

BT: I have a question. So all during this time, do you recall any connection or communication with Japan during that time? I mean, you guys, you were in Phoenix, no other Japanese around. And even during the camp time, do you recall any type of communicating between your parents and Japan, anything like that? Or did you not know what was going on?

FS: Yeah. I don't think... you know, they didn't raise me in a way that they got me involved with any of that. I do know my mother always had this problem with her parents being in Japan and worrying about them and that kind of stuff. But I know later on we'll talk about that, but at that time in Phoenix, no, my dad never made anything, either in Japanese or English. Well, he didn't like to speak English even though he could, he did understand it. There was nothing that would remind me of being from Japan. I mean, I was comfortable with what I was and how I was raised in being Japanese. So I didn't... I don't recall ever a discussion about that. They might have had some because of the concern of the war and so forth. My dad would not be typical either because he didn't know his father and his mother died, and he wanted to be a Western artist. So I don't think he's anything like a lot of the Isseis.

BN: So he didn't have really strong ties to Japan like a lot of people?

FS: Well, he did and he didn't, and we'll talk about the one he did later. But yeah, he had no reason because it didn't exist here. He was part of the community. When there'd be parties, he would sing, things like that. Then my mother did shigin later, quite a bit of that. I guess she did it before the war, too. I had forgotten she had that aspect of training, because I used to dance to that with a sword. Yeah, that is in my roots.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.