Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Louie Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Louie Watanabe
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Jill Shiraki (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-wlouie-01-0034

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: Yeah, so I wanted to ask about other activities. So basketball, what are some other things that you did to...

LW: Well, they had football team, but that was too rough a sport, so I had to play... and baseball, not too much interest, so I used to concentrate mostly basketball. We had a pretty good team, and play against the white people, that small town of Granada.

TI: Oh, so tell me about that. So when you played the Granada team, was that in Granada, the town you played?

LW: Well, we went to their gym, because they didn't want to, kind of scared that they didn't want to come into the Japanese camp. So most of the game we played, we went out of the camp.

TI: And how did the white ball players treat the Japanese? When you guys meet to play...

LW: Well, it's surprising, you know, they were, we treated pretty good because they never saw Japanese before. So they didn't know how to act. Because the town itself was against it when we first came in, because they thought we're from Japan and prisoner of war or something like that. But then, toward the end, they love it because all the businesspeople made money. Yeah, if it wasn't for the Japanese camp, this town of Lamar, it's twelve miles from the camp, they were just struggling until the Japanese people came.

TI: And so maybe initially they were, maybe frightened or didn't know about it or weren't in favor of it. But by the end they really welcomed and got to know maybe some of the Japanese.

LW: When they first came, there were no "Japs" allowed, something like that. But toward the end, they really welcomed you, because they spend the money.

TI: Yeah, so going back to that basketball game, how well did the Japanese teams compete against the white teams in these small towns? I mean, who would win these games?

LW: Well, the only thing is, I remember, is the older people, they play against the town team, and high school was the senior year. Other than that, they didn't have junior varsity or anything like that. So we didn't get to play with the white people down there.

TI: But you mentioned earlier, like the high school team played the high school team?

LW: Yeah. The older, well, the senior, senior did, but we were junior then.

TI: But how did the seniors do against the...

LW: They did real good. Only thing is, you know how Japanese is so short and the white people were so tall. Other than that, they gave good competition.

TI: And they would do similar things with baseball, too? They would play...

LW: No, only baseball that I recall is they play against each other camp in Japanese. Like my brother, older brother, George, he was in the baseball team, and they went to Gila just to play baseball. He didn't play basketball.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.