Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rick Sato Interview
Narrator: Rick Sato
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 2, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-srick-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay, well, I think like I said before, I just wanted to get started kind of at the beginning with your parents and ask you what your parents' names were and where they came from?

RS: Okay, you want to know that now?

AI: Sure.

RS: Ah, my dad and mom came from Fukushima, Japan and they've been here in the United States for about sixty-five years before they passed away.

AI: And what was your dad's name?

RS Kaneshiro, that's a old time Japanese name, I guess. And my mom's name was Tatsu, which I guess is still around. But Kaneshiro, you never hear of that too much any more.

AI: And, you mentioned that they had moved into the Yakima valley.

RS: Yeah, they came in from Canada, Vancouver B.C. I think they first came from Japan. And they came through the border to Yakima after that.

AI: And when was it that your oldest brother was born?

RS: He was born, well he was born here in this country, so he is a citizen. But I don't know the exact date, now, that he was born. He's seven years older than I am; and I'm seventy, so it makes him seventy-seven.

AI: So that would have been about 1920 or so, 1920 or '21 or so.

RS: Yeah, I gotta, I gotta figure that out, but that's about right. [Laughs]

AI: 1920 or '21...

RS: Yeah because mine's 1927, so 1920 sounds right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: And so they were farming in the Wapato area at that time?

RS: Yes, they were farming -- well, there's this small town called Parker north of Wapato, about six, seven miles. And we were growing vegetable crops like tomato, cantaloupe, cucumber, beans and that type of thing.

AI: About how big was the farm?

RS: Ah, the farm was around 80 acres. I mean you had waste and all that on top of that, so that might have cut it down to about 65.

AI: So a pretty good sized farm.

RS: Well, I that was a pretty good sized farm compared to the west side, because they were raising berries here. And they might have had maybe fifteen, twenty acres here. And I think, if you had twenty acres of berries you were pretty good size grower at that time. Now I'm sure that they don't, you can't make a living on twenty acres. You have to raise hundred, or big farm. So there's quite a difference now compared to those days.

AI: Right. So now with your oldest brother being born around 1920, then who came next?

RS: My sister, her name is Fumi. And she now lives in Palo Alto, California. And she worked just like us on the farm.

AI: And then after your sister?

RS: Ah, my brother, his name is Mitsuo. And he also worked on the farm just like the rest of us. And then came me. And then I got a younger brother, Tatsuo; he's about a year and six months younger than I am. But we all done our share on the farm.

AI: Well, did you have a particular job on the farm when you were growing up?

RS: Well, I think I was jack of all trades. [Laughs] I'd get behind a horse cultivator, and little bit of tractor work, or driving a little truck, or... I done everything.

AI: Do you remember about how old you were when you started driving?

RS: I think...

AI: Driving the tractor?

RS: I was about twelve to thirteen years old, when I first started driving. Those days they weren't so strict so I guess we got away with it...

AI: Yeah...

RS: [Laughs] Without a driver's license or anything.

AI: When you were about twelve, thirteen what was a typical day like for you, like on a weekday say...

RS: Well...

AI: What time would you wake up?

RS: We worked, sometimes we worked, in the morning before we went to school. And then we walked about three miles to school, and after that we went to Japanese store -- Japanese school for about an hour or so, and then we came home and went out in the field again. So we didn't have much time for amusement, or sports, or anything.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: So when you were going to school, when you were about that age, about twelve or thirteen, what was your class like? Did you -- were there a lot of other Japanese American kids in your class?

RS: Yeah, there was quite a few Japanese in that valley, that Yakima valley, around our around Wapato. There must've been about forty families there, so yeah, we had Japanese classmates and everything else that with the hakujins, too.

AI: So, about what, how... What portion would you say was Japanese American? Maybe up to a fourth of the class?

RS: Well, I don't think it was a fourth of the class. I think it was a little bit lower than that. But like I said, thirty, forty families there, there's quite a few kids going to school

AI: And mostly hakujins.

RS: Yeah, mostly hakujins. And a few other nationalities. I don't think I saw any Chinese or any other Orientals there, besides Japanese at that Wapato school.

AI: Right, do you recall what the other nationalities and cultures were?

RS: Ah, Mexican people and it's mostly hakujins, mostly Caucasian.

AI: And any of the Yakima Indian kids?

RS: Oh yeah, I guess Indian people was there, but there were -- I don't think they hardly went to school there...

AI: Very few in your class.

RS: Yeah, very few Indian people went to school. So it was mainly hakujin.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Now in that area, the whole Yakima valley, a lot of that area is the Yakima Indian reservation, is that right?

RS: That's right. That was all, mostly reservation, they had a few -- deeded land, but most of them was Indian land.

AI: And so most of it was Indian land, and there was the hakujin families, and were there a lot of hakujin farmers as well?

RS: Well, there was a few. But, I don't know what the percentage is. Most of the hakujins was growing -- raising orchard. They didn't too much go in for that row crop, because a lot of work involved.

AI: Now what about the Japanese farming families, what did they mostly do?

RS: At that time it was all garden crop, vegetables and things.

AI: Now your farm, did your parents lease the farmland or...

RS: Yeah, it was leased land from the Indian and most of the Japanese, I would say, was leasing land from Indian. And you know when you rent Indian land, it involves about ten ownership sometimes. Because the Indians got a tenth owner and another one's got another tenth and so forth. So we had to -- it was quite a mess trying to get all their signatures in the springtime to lease the land.

AI: Well, so it sounds like it was a lot of work going around to do that. But what about the relations between the Japanese farming families and the Indians who were leasing the land?

RS: We had good relationship with the Indians. And in fact the Indians told me that they would rather lease to the Japanese than to anybody else.

AI: Really.

RS: So I heard that many, many times over there. I guess they're closer to Japanese than, you know, hakujins.

AI: So, did you ever experience any kind of prejudice from the Indians toward you because you were Japanese?

RS: No, I have never experienced that from Indians. I might have heard some, very few or very seldom being called "Jap". But otherwise they were really -- they were okay.

AI: And what about with the hakujin?

RS: The hakujin at that time, maybe just before the war it wasn't so good. But beyond there it wasn't bad.

AI: So in the earlier days, relations were pretty good?

RS: Yeah, pretty good, pretty good really, because we had all hakujin neighbors at that time. Well, I guess I'll take that back, there's a couple of Japanese close by too. But, ah...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, now the Japanese families -- it sounds like you were busy all of the time with the farming. But did you ever have any Japanese community get-togethers?

RS: Oh, yes. They had Buddhist church in Wapato, and then they had a Methodist church there so they each went their own way. And they had their own activity, like, oh they had Bon Odori and a lot of that Japanese sukiyaki dinner and stuff like that. And the same token with Methodist people.

AI: What about at New Year's time, did you have any special New Year's oshougatsu kind of...

RS: Yeah, they some oshougatsu things there. But I don't remember too much about that myself.

AI: And what about your own family, did you celebrate anything like Boy's Day or Girl's Day at home?

RS: Well, they did celebrate that, but not like they do in Japan.

AI: Mm hmm.

RS: They mentioned Boy's Day and Girl's Day and a few things like that, but they never got involved too much. That's what I remember anyway.

AI: Are there any kind of either family or community get-togethers or celebrations that you, that kind of stand out in your mind from when you were a kid?

RS: Well, yeah. We had that mochitsuki. So people got together and done that, and then also you used to go back and forth for tea or something like that. And of course church had some doings, so people got together there.

AI: So you did have some breaks and some holidays in between all of...

RS: Oh yeah, over there during the winter you didn't have nothing to do. So you had all of the time in the world in wintertime. Although we were just going to school, we didn't have to come back and work in the evenings.

AI: And then you had mentioned going to Japanese school after your regular school. What did you do in Japanese school?

RS: Well, we learned how to read and write. And we -- I think we learned quite a bit, because myself I learned quite a bit, writing and reading. But right now, I don't, I can't, [Laughs] I can't say that for myself now.

AI: But when you were a kid...

RS: Yeah...

AI: You were pretty comfortable with it.

RS: Yeah, I was -- because my folks did not speak English, so I had to come home and speak that language. Which probably made it better, because you can understand, you know, you're talking it and using it all of the time. Now I don't use it so I've forgot.

AI: Well now, when you first started school, do you remember having any trouble with the English when you first started going to school?

RS: Yeah, we had trouble, because you're taking two languages at the same time. You had a little trouble with, well I'm going to say English, too, because you had a little accent there. And in Japanese I think, I think, we favored that because we were talking, using that at home all the time.

AI: Right.

RS: But, English, my folks didn't speak it, so even now they say I've got a little accent, some people say. [Laughs]

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: Well, let's see. I think you were saying that in 1941 you would have been about fourteen years old...

RS: Yeah.

AI: In about the eighth grade. Do you recall anything around what happened when Pearl Harbor was bombed? That would have been in December of that year.

RS: Yeah, well in '41 after Pearl Harbor, yeah, I've heard a lot of things about "Japs get out of town," and all that kind of stuff. I saw quite a bit of that. And even my neighbors kind of got a little funny too, because, you know, Pearl Harbor. And otherwise I never got hassled or anything like that, as long as I remember. Although, I heard that sometimes going to town, you know they're talking, "Remember Pearl Harbor" and things like that.

AI: So after the Pearl Harbor bombing, you did get some of that in your classroom, from some of the neighbors...

RS: Yeah, there was a few people that was -- well I guess they were really prejudiced because they started talking that way. But most of them didn't talk that way.

AI: And what about, do you remember in your family talking with your parents or with your older brothers and sisters about what that was going to mean for your family? Or was anybody worried in your family about what might happen?

RS: Well, I'm sure that they were concerned, because they didn't know what 's gonna happen. You might of got ganged or whatever. Yeah, we were concerned about that. So I think at that time, we kind of laid back and not went to town and a lot of those places, that you might get into a fight or something like that. So we kind of held back.

AI: Held back a little bit...

RS: Um, right.

AI: Sort of stayed out of sight.

RS: Yeah, we didn't just stay at home all of the time, but we kind of laid back.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, then when did you first hear about the evacuation?

RS: Well, we heard that right after -- well, Pearl Harbor was 1941, so '42, I guess that spring we heard that we might, some of the people in the West Coast was going to be evacuated. But, we didn't know what portion of West Coast. And then of course we got the notice about sixty days before being evacuated in June of '42.

AI: So, when you got that sixty-day notice, what happened? What did you do?

RS: Well, I think we panicked. What are we going to do with the stuff, what are we going to get for it, and what are we going to have to leave back and get nothing for it? And then another thing we were concerned, well where are we going? What are they going to do with us?

AI: And I heard that some of the farmers were told that they should keep on farming even though you knew that you were going to be evacuated. Is that what you did, continue farming?

RS: Yeah, well once you raised that crop you have to take care of it because you don't know when you're got to go. And then, for the buyers, too, you've got to keep it clean so that they'll look at it and they'd like it and whatever. So we kept it up until the last day, you might say, before evacuation.

AI: So all of that time, you kept doing the farming and you kept it up...

RS: Yeah.

AI: And at the same time you were trying to get ready to go.

RS: That's true. Although we didn't have much chance to take anything, so it wasn't that hard to wrap up your belongings. [Laughs]

AI: Do you remember anything about what you took?

RS: Well, I think we took some blankets and pots and pans. And I remember you couldn't take any knives, because they had to be shorter than six-inch or something like that, so we didn't take any knives. But we did take pots and pans and personal belongings, and that was about it. Because you couldn't wrap too much stuff in that little dufflebag or little bit larger than that.

AI: And then you were leasing at the farm at that time, so you just left everything. It wasn't -- you didn't have anything to sell, really.

RS: Well, we had the equipment and that type of thing to sell. But the land was the Indians', so whoever bought it took over your lease from the Indians. And, but I remember we didn't get nothing for our equipment or anything, because they knew you had to leave.

AI: Were you able to store anything with anybody?

RS: Well, some people did, but they had to know somebody in order to do that. And if you didn't have a real good friend, well then they're not going to do that for you. So we just got rid of everything. I don't recall how much we got for every equipment, but I'm sure it was dirt-cheap.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: And then how did you get to the point where you were supposed to gather for the evacuation?

RS: Well, I'm sure that the guy that bought our place took us, took the truck that we sold him, and took us to the railroad siding in Wapato. And then from there on we got on the train.

AI: Do you remember what date that was?

RS: It was in June sometime, I'm going to say about the 6th or 8th of June 1942. I'm not too sure about the date though.

AI: And you were there with all the other Japanese families from that area?

RS: Mm hmm, yeah, all the Japanese families were there. Everybody that I knew from the valley was there, because there was none left. Unless, beforehand you moved to Idaho or something like that, then you weren't there of course.

AI: But your family was still all together?

RS: Yeah, we were all together, all the kids were there, my folks were there and like I said earlier, most the Japanese did not leave. Maybe one or two left for, like I said Idaho, but yeah, they were all there on the siding there in Wapato.

AI: And did you know where you would be going?

RS: I don't, I don't remember where we were going, but I know that we were going. But we didn't know where we were going. And then I guess there were rumors, some people saying, "Yeah, you going to Portland," or, "You might go to Idaho," or something. And I kinda heard that, I think. But I did not know where we were going to go, and how long we were going to stay anywhere.

AI: How did you feel about that?

RS: Well, kind of felt lonesome, lonely, because you don't know where you're going, and you can't call that a home. So you kinda felt lonely. And I think everybody else did, too.

AI: So you're on the train together, you didn't know where you were going. About how long was the ride?

RS: Well, we went from Wapato, Wapato to Portland racetrack, so I'm going to guess about four hours. And then, in fact when we got there, somebody said at was racetrack. So I remember that, otherwise I wouldn't have known where we were at even. Although later on, I noticed there's a horse stall there, so, you knew it was some kind of racetrack or something.

AI: So, the Portland racetrack was your assembly center?

RS: That was assembly center, and we stayed there about, I'm going to guess about three weeks to a month. And then they said they were going to take us to a permanent camp, so then from there we went to Wyoming.

AI: Again by train?

RS: Again by train. And I think it took us about, I'm guessing again, but...oh, two days.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: And when you got to Wyoming, and, train stopped, and you are getting off, what did you see?

RS: We saw nothing but dust storm over there at that time, [Laughs] barren waste and I thought, "What? How come?" You begin to start thinking that, how come we're over here and we're American citizens, you know? So I wasn't that old, but I felt pretty bad. I felt lonely again that they put you out there in the desert.

AI: Out in the middle of nowhere.

RS: Out in the middle of nowhere.

AI: And that would have been July?

RS: Yeah, about July.

AI: And whereabouts is Heart Mountain in Wyoming?

RS: Well, Heart Mountain is close to Cody, Wyoming, and that's a little wide spot in the road. And I think it was seven miles from Cody -- to this Heart Mountain camp.

AI: And what were the conditions there for your family, where, what were your living quarters like?

RS: Well, the living quarters itself was crowded of course, and you had this potbellied wood stove, coal stove. There's no restroom there. And the walls to the next and your neighbors were just paper thin, because you could hear everything. And there was, I guess yeah we had ceiling there, but you could hear the neighbors.

AI: And were you all together still, your parents and all your brothers and your sisters?

RS: Yeah, we were all together. So you can see, that I don't know what size the room was, but there's no partition or nothing. So...

AI: Oh, just one room for...

RS: One room. One room, so, I mean no privacy at all. Although your family itself, it was okay, you got by. But I think the restrooms, if you had to go three, four times a night, and you got that blizzard and the mud and it was terrible, 'cause we didn't have any sidewalks, no gravel, nothing, just mud.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: So it was pretty bad out there, those summer months, and then, then what, let's see maybe it would have been becoming fall, did they start up any kind of program, like school program at that time?

RS: Well yes, they had school there starting in the fall, just like being on the outside. Although I'd been, I was in and out, so sometimes I'd come back late before school start. And I had to go out, because I needed some spending money, so I went out. So I didn't get too much schooling there.

AI: Let's see, so even though you were in the ninth grade and you were doing some schoolwork...

RS: Mm hmm.

AI: You had a job at the same time then, there in camp.

RS: Yeah, we had, I had a job there. I was a grease monkey there at twelve dollars a month. [Laughs]

AI: What kinds of things did you do?

RS: Well, I just greased the equipment out there, what they used for farm and for logging, and trucks to run around the camp and all that. I just was greasing those things.

AI: And there was logging out there, logging operations?

RS: Yeah, my brother worked in the logging there. I can't remember what they called that, but they had a logging there, the lumber to be used in the camp, for whatever reason.

AI: And did you other brothers and sister have jobs too?

RS: Ah, I don't know if my sister ever worked or not, but she could have worked in the mess hall. I know my mother did, just to get some spending money, again.

AI: What about your Dad, did he have a job?

RS: I don't think my Dad worked at all, because well, twelve dollars a month...well, [Laughs] working for nothing. But better than nothing I should say.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well then, in 1943, I think, apparently there came out something called an, "application for a leave clearance," a questionnaire for people who wanted to work outside the camp. They had to answer these questions, including those so-called loyalty questions. Do you recall having to sign anything like that?

RS: Well I think I did sign something in that order, but I don't know the full details of that. But I, I think I had to sign something, some kind of paper to go outside to work.

AI: And then what was your first job outside?

RS: Ah, my first job outside was working out in the field, sugar beet field. [Laughs]

AI: Where was that?

RS: That's in eastern Oregon, around Vail, Ontario, in Idaho there, Nampa, Idaho. Caldwell. And that's...

AI: Had you done beets before?

RS: Never done beets, and that's not easy work. [Laughs] That's hard work, because all -- it's not mechanized like it is now, it's all hand labor. You had to dig 'em and top 'em and throw 'em in the truck and this and that. It was hard work for... 80 cents an hour.

AI: Well, where did you live while you're out doing...

RS: We had these farm -- a lot of these farmers had what they called "boy house." And they just put us in there, and it wasn't, it wasn't very good either.

AI: Just kind of a bunkhouse?

RS: Just bunkhouse with a roof on there. And the latest I worked around -- well you get in the sugar beet factory and sometimes, I mean sugar beet fields you worked 'til, oh, November. And by that time it gets pretty cold out there. So the working condition wasn't very good, you had snow, rain and all that, and all the mud. So it wasn't too pleasant.

AI: So then, that job ended and you came back to camp?

RS: Came back to camp, and probably at that time I went to school there, for, you know, during the winter months.

AI: Fall and winter months.

RS: And then in the spring, I guess I must have taken off. Sometimes I stayed there, but I think most of the time I went out, because I needed the money.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Well, now around that time, I think, didn't -- weren't they also starting the call for volunteers for the service?

RS: Yeah, they were calling for volunteers for service about that time. And some of them went, volunteered, and some of them didn't want to go, and then at the same time they were drafting people, too.

AI: What -- when, when they started drafting, did you talk to your brothers or your parents about it at all?

RS: Well, I think my folks said, "You guys are U.S. citizens so you should go." I mean they didn't object that too much, that part of it. But they were concerned why we were in camp, and then being drafted into the service. You know that don't seem right. Course those days, it didn't make any difference if it was right or wrong, you had to do what they said. [Laughs]

AI: Well, I understand that at Heart Mountain, there were some fellows that got together and they called themselves the Fair Play Committee. They, and they were saying they wanted their citizenship rights and their constitutional rights cleared up before they reported for the draft. Do you recall anything?

RS: Yeah, I recall that. In fact I knew a couple of boys that refused to go.

AI: You did...

RS: And I think they got called in, of course, and they went, they had to go to a different camp. They took them to a different camp. Just like some of these Isseis that was, well, if they were head of some kind of group, they put them in a different camp. I think they went to Topaz, or something, or Arizona or some place.

AI: What did you think when you heard about these fellows who decided not to report?

RS: Well, I think they done the right thing, because why should you, American citizen, people go in the camp like that and then be drafted at the same time. Although, when I, when I got drafted, well, I was outside, so I went.

AI: So you could understand their feelings at the time.

RS: Oh yes, I can understand their feelings. Sure, I think anybody in their right mind would do the same thing. But everybody didn't do that. But in fact, there was a lot of volunteers that they wanted to prove that they were good American citizens. But I thought, well, I don't have to prove anything, I was born here, I'm American citizen. I don't have to prove anything, like the rest of them, you don't have to prove anything.

AI: Well, I understand that some people thought that the fellows who resisted the draft, that they were unpatriotic.

RS: No, I don't feel that way. No, because right is right, and wrong is wrong. So I did not feel that way, that was all up to the individual. That's the way I felt.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Now when your draft notice came, where were you?

RS: I was in Ontario, Oregon. Working in the fields and I just turned eighteen in April and I got drafted in August. So I had about four months there at the age of eighteen, then I got drafted.

AI: And, in August now do you recall was that before or after that atom bombing in Hiroshima?

RS: I think it was just before, just before, because V-J Day was in, I think later in the fall. So yeah, I was -- it wasn't then, it was after I went in.

AI: And where did you -- after you reported, then where did you go?

RS: I reported from Ontario, and went to Fort Douglas, Utah, and probably stayed there three, four, five days. Then I went to Camp Hood, Texas, and I took my basic training there. And...

AI: What was Texas like?

RS: Texas was... well there again, it was kind of a barren waste to me. And then I noticed there was a white and black restrooms, and I just... first time in my life I saw that. So of course I just went in the white, and there was nothing said, and I don't know how long that was there like that.

AI: And when you were in basic, were you segregated? In a Japanese group?

RS: No, we were not. The colored people were at that time, but we were not. We were with the Caucasian or anybody else.

AI: And then what happened after Texas? Where did you go from there?

RS: From Texas, they sent out a questionnaire and asking if we knew Japanese language or Japanese, yeah, Japanese language. And I filled out the questionnaire, and I guess I qualified, so they send me to Fort Snelling, Minnesota for language school. So I attended there for several months.

AI: So that was for the Military Intelligence Service, the MIS at Fort Snelling?

RS: Yes, mm hmm, mm hmm.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Well, here you are, you are, first you're -- because you've got a Japanese background you're put in, segregated into a camp. Then they go draft you and you're in this, in your basic training. And then suddenly you get this notice because of your language, because you've got the Japanese they were going to put you in this other special place. How were you feeling about this?

RS: Well, at that time I thought maybe that was a little bit easier, so, we didn't complain about anything. We just, they took us draft or send us over there and we went over there and went to Japanese school. And to Minnesota and from there I went to Monterey, California for a little bit further training. And then they just discontinued that service.

AI: So by then, that would have 1946?

RS: Yeah, it was 1946. So I guess no longer they needed Japanese language. We were mainly trained to go to Japan to be interpreter. That was the main reason.

AI: But you, so you didn't end up going to Japan?

RS: No I did not end up going to Japan, because the war ended, and I kind of wanted to go to Japan, sightseeing, but I never got the chance to go. [Laughs]

AI: Now in the meantime, what had happened to your other brothers, had they been drafted too?

RS: Yeah, I had two brothers that... was drafted, and they decided they wanted to make it careers, so both spent over twenty years. One of them in the army and one in the Coast Guard. So now they're spent -- served their time twenty years plus, and then they're retired now.

AI: And then, what about your folks? Let's see, I think in 1945, the camp closed down, is that right?

RS: Yeah they closed down, so they went to Idaho and started working for some farmers over there in Idaho.

AI: And that was your mom and dad?

RS: Yeah, and my sister I think. And the rest of the boys were on their own somewhere. So the folks and my sister.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: So then 1946 came, and the war ended, and then what happened to you?

RS: I... I got discharged latter part of that 1946, and then I went to -- I think I went to Idaho and worked a little bit longer, then my family decided to move back to Wapato. So they moved back and started farming and I came back and joined them.

AI: Now tell me what happened when you came back to Wapato.

RS: Well, one disappointment I had, is I had a discharge, I just got discharged and I wanted to go get a haircut there, and they said, "We don't cut Japs' hair." And that was the worst feeling for me all that time.

AI: That must have felt terrible.

RS: Yeah that felt really terrible. I mean, I thought, "What did I go into the service for?" But, you, you're going to find people like that, even now you're going to find people like that. [Laughs]

AI: So when you first came back, that was very unpleasant. But you settled back in with your family there?

RS: And, the Caucasian people, I mean, again, there's prejudice all the time, but it wasn't too bad at that time. After I came back, and that was 1946, it wasn't too bad.

AI: And what about from the Indian, the Yakima Indian people, feel any increase in prejudice from them?

RS: No, the Indian people still I've heard, again they rather lease to Japanese than Caucasian people. And I've heard that many times again when I came back. So I felt pretty good about that.

AI: So as a family then, were you able to pretty much start up a similar kind of farming operation after the war?

RS: Yes, because -- well, we were doing things by horse, so there wasn't too many expense except for the lease of the land and the, and your labor. So that's, they got started and then gradually we bought our own land. And at that time, Issei people couldn't buy no land in their name. So I don't know what year they changed that, but it did change later on that Isseis could buy land.

AI: So before that time, then the land had to be in the name of you or one of your brothers or sister.

RS: Yeah, at that time, even when you leased the land, we leased it in our name because we were U.S. citizens. And if you wanted to buy, well they put it into our name because of that.

AI: Well, let's see then, so you had come back to the area, did you see much change in the Yakima valley since that time you had been gone? Were there many changes or did it look pretty much look the same?

RS: Well, I think -- as far as the Yakima valley was concerned it was about the same thing. The same kind of crops, they had orchard there, but basically they had the same kind of crop. Yeah. And after we came back, the hakujin don't do this crop, the truck croppings. So usually -- most of the Japanese that came back and done it, also the Filipino people.

AI: About... And when you think about all the Japanese families that had been there before the war, about how many of them do you think came back, after?

RS: Well I'm going to say about fifteen families came back after the war and started farming again.

AI: So it sounds like maybe about half of them?

RS: About half of us say, came back and started farming, because the younger generation all went to city type of work, Chicago, New York and California. So in fact you don't see too many younger kids doing that kind of hard labor for nothing. [Laughs]

AI: So when you came back then, it wasn't quite the same kind of Japanese community as before the war.

RS: No, unless their folks came back with them, then they had, they got their own ways from way back; or so it was about the same. But right now, I don't think there's hardly any Sanseis or even Niseis doing that kind of work, because that involves a lot of hard work and no income, or low income. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well now somewhere along the line there you got married, had kids. When was that?

RS: Well I had -- I got married in 1948 and I had a daughter then, and then from there I just stayed farming until about 1962. And I decided that I wasn't going to do this backbreaking job, so I started to go into college. And I went to California, although I kind of had bad luck. Got divorced, so I had to support the kids and I had no income, so I had to, I had about a year to go but I had to quit and take a job, with the process product branch for the federal government.

AI: And so then where was that job, where did that take you?

RS: I went to school in San Luis Obispo, so I took a job there and then I got transferred or they were -- there was a opening in Seattle, so I came here. And I've been retired from it now.

AI: So you stayed in Seattle and stayed with that job...

RS: Yeah.

AI: Section until you retired?

RS: Mm hmm, and I worked there about twenty-four years.

AI: Well then after your retirement, did you ever consider going back to the Yakima valley?

RS: No, I have no reason to go back there except seeing my friends, because I don't want to do that kind of work, plus there isn't too many Japanese people there now. And, I don't know, after being away -- being up here for twenty-five, thirty years now I just, I just don't feel like going back. I do go visit friends over there, few friends that's around there, but that's about it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: What kind of changes have you seen in the valley in the last twenty, twenty-five years?

RS: Well one thing I notice most in the valley is that there's -- they don't have too many truck garden farms anymore. It's all orchard or mostly orchard. There's a few people that's farming big, but they don't raise truck garden too much. You know something like corn or something that's all mechanized. So that's, that's, that's the biggest change, plus there's a lot of these smaller towns got the transient labors now. So there isn't too many families around there that settled there, it's all transient workers.

AI: So, so then also you remarried. When was that?

RS: I remarried, well I've been divorced three times. [Laughs] So, I got married again over there in 19, oh, '58 and then, I went to school after that, and then of course I got divorced again, so I had three kids, and that's the reason I had to quit college. Because I couldn't, I couldn't pay support and go to college at the same time.

AI: Now your kids are grown up now.

RS: Yeah, my kids are all grown up. And I got seven grandkids.

AI: It looks like that makes you happy.

RS: Yeah, that -- they're okay. [Laughs] Especially if I don't have to babysit for them all the time, I'd -- I just say, "Hey, you have to go home now. Your mommy's coming home." [Laughs]

AI: Well now, did any of your kids or any of your grandkids ever consider farming do you know?

RS: No, my grandkids like that -- no I don't think they'll ever farm. And it's, it's a big deal now, it could cost you $150,000 to get started, because of these big equipment that cost $100,000 just to buy one tractor. So I don't think that, they're not interested in that type of thing. You know, they all go to college and they're not going to do that kind of work. Like the Niseis, most of them done that kind of work, just, they had to because they -- very few had education to get any type of job.

AI: So now that the kids and the grandkids have different choices.

RS: Yeah, because they all, like I said, they all got college and why should they go to farm? Of course, that's -- farming is an independent life, because then nobody tells you what to do. And that's one good thing about farming, because here if you work for a company or whatever, you always got a boss telling you what to do.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well now looking back, you've had quite a bit of experience in a lot of things, been in a lot of different places, do you have any thoughts? Any things that, ideas, thoughts of lessons, words that you'd like to pass on especially to younger people, younger generations?

RS: Well number one I'm going to say, that they, they should have education so that if they don't use it, it could come in handy at anytime, later on. With us, we didn't have education, what can we do? So that's, that's the reason I decided to go to college. Otherwise, I'd be farming right now I think. So...

AI: And anything else that you would like to add?

RS: Ah, well I hope there's no more evacuation thing like that, I hope that never happens to any race. Because I don't think that's, that's right. You know, being born here, and you're a citizen -- they shouldn't be able to just because there's a war, they shouldn't round you up. And I guess that's about it; that I could...

AI: Thank you very much for your time.

RS: That's it?

AI: I really appreciate it.

RS: Well I don't know how good I was, or how bad I was or whatever, but I'm just telling it the way it is I think.

AI: Appreciate your thinking.

RS: Yeah, okay, well thank you.

AI: And we've been talking to Mr. Rick Sato, and this is Seattle, Washington, March 1st, 1998. I'm sorry, March 2nd, 1998. And I'm Alice Ito at the Densho Project.

RS: Thank you.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.