Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 28, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-02-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

EO: Do you have any happy memories or funny ones? Did you have a good time at all?

SS: Hmm... oh, yes. I had a few happy moments there. And it wasn't in camp; it was when I was outside of camp. I forgot to tell you, the, this job of executive secretary of the co-op, the, so long as the... well, there were some Issei who were, who were eager for power, who in normal life were practically, never had very much power, and yet were most eager to sit in a position where they felt they had authority. And the Board of Directors, I felt was not quite as responsible as they should have been. I, they, at one meeting, they, somebody introduced a motion to give, to make a fellow president of the co-op. And they also, they... I knew that I could not work with this guy they picked as president. I had no respect for his character. He was a power-hungry person, I thought. Maybe you should not put this on the tape. I could be sued for this by his offspring. But at any rate, he was obviously power-hungry, and I felt I couldn't work with him. And so I decided to resign from that job at that post. And they, they appointed as my replacement another Issei who was a close friend of this guy who was appointed president. And the two of them, therefore, took over in effect, the effective control of the co-op. And I remember one of the first things they did was to... when I was running that, in there, and same with my predecessor Takeo, we didn't spend any money for furniture at all. Whatever tables and chairs we had were made from leftover lumber from the construction of the camp. Or we were using orange crates and things like that for chairs. And these two fellows who took over, I remember, one of the first things they did was go into the neighboring town of Twin Falls and buy each of them a huge mahogany desk and a swivel chair, an executive swivel chair.

And meantime, I was, I had, as soon as I quit that job, I had friends in the fire department who wanted me to come and join them at the fire department. I'd worked with the fire department for a little, a few months before that, so I knew them. Anyway, they said they'd be happy to have me back at the fire department again, so I joined them. Well, one of the reasons I joined the fire department was, as a fireman you went on duty for 24 hours, you slept at the fire station. So in that 24 hours you put in three days of work, you see. So by going 24 hours, I had two days free, and I got the same pay, so I was much better off with the fire department. The, on those fire department trips, I had a few times when I was really, I really felt happy because I saw places I would never have seen otherwise. Fire struck, most of those fires in the summer were light-, struck, started by lightning. And being wartime, the interior department office and neighboring large town, Twin Falls, they didn't have enough men to put on a fire line. So they used to come into camp and ask us to volunteer to engage in firefighting. And for doing that, we got fifty cents an hour. And on top of that, they liked our work so much they said, "You're the best firefighting crews we have ever had." So they gave us a merit raise of 10 cents an hour. [Laughs] The high point of the day was, if it was a one-day trip, on the way home, they would stop at the town close to camp and let us loose so we could go into stores and buy whatever we wanted. Those stores were fully stocked. Now, in the co-op stores in camp, we were always short of merchandise. We were a new store, of obviously short duration, as long as the... and we knew, so the wholesalers were reluctant to sell us very much. So we used to use those firefighting trips as an opportunity to get out and do some shopping for ourselves. I enjoyed that. And on top of that, it was where these fires struck. They struck in some of the strangest places out in the desert. And on one trip, which I was not with them, I was on duty, and these fellows... the fire started near a hot spring, and when the fellows got out there, the fire had died down by itself and the boys had a grand time taking a bath in those hot spring waters. [Laughs] And a few occasions like that, I remember one night, we slept beside... we had to camp overnight. 'Cause it was late when we got there, and we slept beside a small brook. And from that brook, I had the most wonderful view of the moon that I have ever experienced in my life out in the desert.

EO: Did you go to any of the social events? Didn't they have dances?

SS: Oh yes, they had dances and so forth in camp once in while. But...

EO: Movies?

SS: Oh, yes. They had movies. And another thing, in this fire department, they had me as, in charge of fire prevention. And one of my duties, I had the title of Assistant Fire Chief, and one of my duties was to check on those movies on the nights that they were being shown to make sure that these movies, so-called movie theater which was the so-called recreation halls, you know... too many people tended to jam into those places. And it was my job to go there and tell those people to get out of the aisles and so forth so that in case of fire or something there wouldn't be a major jam. So, well, that was pleasant. I used to go there and I would watch the movie. I'd get hooked watching the thing. But I always made it a point -- I was quite conscientious about that -- to pay my fare. And I remember the ticket collectors said, they said, "Look, you're a fireman. You're here on an official job." "Yes, but watching the movie is not a part of my official job, and I watched the movie and enjoyed it so you take this money." And I used to give them the money.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.