Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Sat Kuwamoto Interview
Narrator: Sat Kuwamoto
Interviewers: Jill Shiraki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Fresno, California
Date: March 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ksat-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Okay. So any other memories in terms of...

SK: Oh, my father went out to get a job, and the crew was a Caucasian. He quit the first day. He says he couldn't stand listening to a "two-year-old," like he says, giving orders. And everybody there was brighter than, smarter than the man in charge. So he never worked either, for I don't know how many years, three years? But I remember him saying he's not gonna go to work and take orders from somebody, you know.

TI: And so what did your father do with his time in camp?

SK: Nothing. He didn't do anything. I don't think he had a decent job, or didn't even look for one.

TI: And so did he just stay in the barrack, or where would he go?

SK: I'm sure they had fun talking to friends.

JS: So when you think about your life before camp, you know, you had stores to run, and kind of, they were very busy, the Issei, your father, your uncle. And then in camp, they had nothing to do. How did that affect them, do you think?

SK: I think the... well, if they had to do it over again, they don't have to throw us in there to be volunteers to go. That's what I think. Then I'll be first in line to be, to go to camp. They all had a good time, let's put it that way.

JS: It was a break, huh?

SK: Huh? And then if you worked hard during the Depression bringing up your kids, this was the first time they really had time to relax and enjoy themselves.

TI: Now, after several months at, in Gila River, the administration wanted adults...

SK: Oh. Well, during the, what broke our crew up was, at that time, they wanted, they started this camouflage factory. You've heard of that, huh? Well, anyway, they, the crew, a lot of people were just broke, and they wanted to make some money. The whole gang, the whole gang group, rather, it just broke up, many of 'em went to work for money. I didn't, I was too lazy.

TI: So let me make sure I understand this. This was a camouflage net, sort of, operation that they were paying much better wages.

SK: Better wages.

TI: And so this was kind of a commercial organization that was allowed to...

SK: Well, I don't know who ran that thing, but that was where they earned the money from... I mean, regular wages that people were earning outside. So many people went to work for wages, I guess.

TI: So many of the men that were doing the furniture warehouse went on and worked there.

SK: Some did, lot of 'em did.

TI: But you decided to not do that, you stayed...

SK: I was just too lazy. I was doing all right, too.

TI: But after several months --

SK: I went to, became a receptionist for a hospital. And it was further away, even further away. But we, I was just calling out names for a patient to see the doctors, and I would see who would be next, and people would wait in the waiting room. And anyway, that's what I did. The only thing was my reputation must have gotten ahead of me, I mean, because there was this lab where they, lab room where I guess... they must have been out of college. Pretty bright guys, I guess, except they didn't know how to gamble. They want to roll some dice, and I guess they thought I knew how to play dice, but I cleaned 'em out. [Laughs]

TI: So you learned a lot when you...

SK: I took, I took a lot of money from them. I missed supper a few times because they wouldn't let me leave. It'd be so late, I'd, so late that when I got home, the kitchen was closed. So several nights, I didn't get anything to eat.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.