Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Film Preservation Project Collection
Title: Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview II
Narrator: Eiichi Edward Sakauye
Interviewer: Wendy Hanamura
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 14, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-seiichi-03-0003

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WH: Now, how did you, of all people, get permission to start taking movies within the camp?

ES: Well, you know the order, Western Defense Command order and the relocation center orders said all persons of Japanese ancestry had to turn in all the photographic material and so forth. And so I had nothing. Let's see, I lost the track of what I was going to...

WH: You had nothing in camp, and then someone sent it to you. Oh, you must have asked somebody.

ES: I began to get interested, how long am I gonna be in camp? I see so many activities and things, I wish I could record it. And so I asked the project director, Guy Robertson, one day, and he told me, "What do you want?" I says, "Well, you know, Mr. Robertson, I've been in just a hobby amateur photographer, and I had to turn my camera, and I'd like to have my camera back to record some of the history and activities of the camp." He says, "I cannot give you an answer, so I'll get the answer from the War Relocation Authority and get back to you." So immediately, he got in touch with War Relocation Authority, and next day I got a report, says, "You may have your camera and photographic equipment." So I asked this fellow that I bestowed my camera equipment to, in Milpitas here, and he sent it to me just the way I packed it, so I knew just what I had. Then I started taking pictures, but soon I ran out of films, cut or roll. Then I began to scratch my head, what can I do? I asked the Caucasian personnel that commutes to get me some, some film, 620, 120, because the size of the spool is the only difference between those two films. So they bought me few, but he says, "That's all I can get. There's no tourist trade that goes through this highway here, so they don't carry any more films." So I began to think and, well, I can use my cut film, but I could do the same thing with my roll film, make that roll film twelve exposures to twenty-four exposures by changing this back, a number. So I had 620, 120 backs, changed, different numbers. So when you look through that little eyepiece, you could see the number. And then I began to take, instead of twelve pictures, twenty-four pictures. But still, I can't get enough films. So I cut that once more, and that made it twice as more, which made it a slender picture, rectangular picture. Well, certain pictures would do, but certain pictures are too rectangular so I couldn't do anything. So I got a hold of a Penn camera in New York City through, saw an ad in the photography magazine, I was subscribing to Popular Photography at that time, and I had all the issues sent to me wherever I am. So I saw the Penn camera, the equipment, so I wrote to them and I finally got films and papers and chemicals. So that kept me going, but I ran out of money quickly, because my low salary.

WH: So let's, tell me, how much was a roll of movie film, 8 mm movie film back then?

ES: I had a Eastman Kodak magazine camera, which either, through the cartridge, it can take black and white or color. And I forgot, I, this is -- I'm guessing now -- I think it cost me around five dollars and fifty cents.

WH: So in terms of today's standards, let's say, let's just say you made, oh, three thousand dollars a month. You made nineteen dollars a month back then, right?

ES: Uh-huh.

WH: So you were going to spend, oh, about a sixth of your wage just on one canister of film. Very, in today's terms, that might be something like...

ES: Well...

WH: ...quite a bit.

ES: In internment, you have lodging and food provided for you, so you, what expenses you got. So I spent all my money in films and film chemicals.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.