Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Saburo Masada Interview
Narrator: Saburo Masada
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Fresno, California
Date: September 11, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-msaburo-01-0015

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KL: This is tape three on September 11, 2014. We're continuing an interview with Saburo Masada, and we were talking when we cut off about your brother and sister's sort of search for a church back in, back at home. So you said that you did end up attending a church regularly there. What was that church?

SM: Caruthers Methodist Church. And they were civil, and there were two or three some families who were very supportive and friendly, but others were somewhat civil and not really warmly welcoming us. But we had ministers there who were very cordial and receptive, so that helped, helped a lot.

KL: Who were the ministers at that time?

SM: Well, one was a, since it was a small Methodist church they weren't capable of always financially supporting a regular Methodist minister, so there were ministers from other denominations. I remember one was some sort of Pentecostal type minister who would scream and cry while he was preaching and preach hell, brimstone and fire. And then we had a Nazarene minister, Reverend Mack and his wife, who were so wonderful to us. But the regular, the longest minister while we were there, at least while I was there, was Reverend Tooker. She and her partner, they adopted two Native American children and they were a family and they served our church, and they were very wonderful. In fact, they were there probably at the beginning, when we first started there, and let's see...

KL: And their last name was Tucker?

SM: Tooker, T-O-O, I think K-E-R. A Methodist minister. And about two years after we arrived in Caruthers, during the middle of a hot July sun, it was just, I remember it was a hot, hot day, I saw smoke curling out from the rafters of our garage, unfinished garage. And we stored all our camp stuff up there on the rafters, and I think it was spontaneous combustion. Everything went up in flames, including the house, our storage room, our outdoor bathhouse and our house, just went right across and burned everything. There were some things that were saved that was in a bureau. Someone had thrown the bureau out the back door, so whatever was in that bureau, some few pictures, were saved, but everything else went up in smoke. And our church gave us a shower and they supplied us with linen, towels, pots and pans, things like that, and that experience seemed to have broken the ice, and from then on, there was a much closer relationship between our family and the congregation that we were attending. So that was interesting.

KL: When was that fire?

SM: About 1947.

KL: And by that time you were, what year were you in high school?

SM: I was a junior, 'cause I think after we moved the house to that location I went another year of high school, so I must've been a junior. But part of that time I was living about ten miles away and riding a bus to the high school.

KL: When you were a junior and a senior, did you have any problems like Aiko did?

SM: No, I didn't. I had my teammates, basketball, baseball, track, and so there was no problem. But my sister Aiko, when she rode the bus, got on, whoever sat next to her would get up and move and not sit with her, so she had some bad experiences like that.

KL: That was when she was a senior?

SM: Right.

KL: And people didn't do that to you on the bus?

SM: No, not at all. And I don't know why, but I don't think boys moved, but girls. Maybe they were, that's the nature of the thing. I don't know. And they gave her dirty looks and all that. Either I didn't notice it or it didn't happen to me.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.