Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tad Sato Interview
Narrator: Tad Sato
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 15, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-stad-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

SF: So a lot of other railroads, I understand that they fired a lot of the workers after Pearl Harbor, or soon after Pearl Harbor.

TS: Yeah.

SF: So the Great Northern was the only railroad that didn't fire the Japanese. Is that right?

TS: That's right, yeah. There were some that were evacuated. The people -- they were foremen and other people that were working on the Coast that they didn't have jobs for inlanders or whatever reason if -- so they had to go to camp. But a couple of 'em came back out to the railroad from camp in a couple years.

SF: Why do you think that the Great Northern was different than the other railroads; the way they treated the Japanese after Pearl Harbor?

TS: Well, I had the same question in my mind. So after the war, or -- I can't remember when it was, '43, '44, '45, somewhere -- and I have the letter at home I wrote to the president of the Great Northern and mentioned, "Why the Great Northern kept us working?" Expected a reply saying that we trusted you and had blah-blah-blah. But as it turned out, it was very pragmatic. He says, "Hey, we knew we were gonna be short on labor, so we're planning on you people working to maintain the railroad." So that's what happened.

SF: They probably knew that -- as the railroad management, Great Northern -- that people were gonna be evacuated from the Coast.

TS: I really don't know if they knew that. They probably, the bigshots probably knew it. Yeah, 'cause I don't know how -- what the news was then, after Pearl Harbor. Lot of that were publicized in papers or... I can remember that after the war and then before going Wenat -- we had the Sears Roebuck catalog. I ordered a radio, a long-wave radio with a big battery, (as) you didn't have to have electricity. And Sears sent me out a short-wave radio. And that scared us all to the dickens. The FBI's gonna come pick us up. So I sent it right back to Sears. Told 'em that was the wrong radio. [Laughs] I wanted one (long-wave).

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