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-03-0009

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WH: What were you proudest of in your two-and-a-half years or three-and-a-half years in camp?

ES: What was...

WH: What were you proudest of?

ES: Proudest of?

WH: Well, only thing I could say I'm very proud of that people were very kind to me, were willing to listen to me, and I got to places where I normally wouldn't have gotten otherwise. They were very compassionate, and we were very compassionate to them. You know, in here, you come to a railroad track and you see a cross sign. One line says, "Railroad Crossing," other says, "Stop, Look, Listen." I always think of that when I used to go to the Japanese school, come to cross the railroad track, and these passenger trains, they go pretty fast. So I stopped my bicycle, get off and watch both ways, then I cross the track. Well, my father and mother told me, "When you come to railroad tracks, stop and look, listen, don't just drive over." So that, when I started to talk to various people that I don't know anything about their history or their, or their background, I just stopped and just listened to 'em, then I have my opinion, then I opened my mouth, ready to be shot down, or -- [laughs] -- or criticized. And I learned from that a lot, because as I said before, these evacuees were from different parts of Japan, and different parts of Pacific Coast states, they farmed differently. So you had to find out how they farmed, what they grew, and the variety they grew. There's a lot of information you gotta get before you can sit down and say, this is the type of seed we need, this is only a hundred growing days, and how are we gonna grow these vegetables? We worked hard on these programs and what to do, and these Issei people were very helpful and they were very willing to take on these jobs. So we had these people from Wapato, Washington, make these hot frames and planted those varieties, and that's the reason why we were so successful.

WH: Kind of the cooperation, hard work.

ES: Right.

WH: And that's what you were proudest of.

ES: So we had cooperation, and not only the residents of Heart Mountain, but even the cooperation of the administrators, Caucasian administrators. First, when we went in there, we had quite a number of change in different departments in the administration, because they could not get along with us. And I'm glad they couldn't, and they're out of our way. But the later-on administrators, they got smart. They knew we were not dumb people. We have maybe just as much if not... education as they have. So they start listening to us. One of the personnel in agriculture, they wouldn't listen to us, so they bought a bunch of small equipment, and they wanted us to farm and grow crops. We knew, we farmers grew in California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of Arizona, we knew these little garden tractors wouldn't do, because it's virgin land, never been developed, got great big anthills and sagebrush, you got to clear it out in short time and prepare the ground to grow these crops. So as far as agriculture department, evacuees' department, just struck. Then we watched these high school kids playing with these small tractors. They had a ball of a time creating dust and going back and forth racing each other. They saw that through the windows, and they didn't say anything, "Just go ahead and order what you need." So we ordered equipment from California agents and got them there in time and cleared this land, made it beautiful land, it certainly opened their eyes to that. And it showed them that we're not just dumb people, in other words, we have experience and we can do it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.