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-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: What are, so when were you born?

SM: 1930, April Fools' Day.

KL: And where were you born?

SM: In, on Rose Avenue in Fresno Country. I always thought it was Fresno, but it was probably Caruthers, district anyway. But the address was Fresno.

KL: And what kind of work were your parents engaged in?

SM: My father was a, owned a, worked a vineyard. And I guess it was leased because they weren't allowed to own any property. So our family took care of all the, picking the raisins, pruning, tying the vines, and everything that went into raising grapes. And then I think it was forty acres, and they weren't all grapevines 'cause we had vegetable gardens and we had alfalfa to feed the horses, so I don't know how many acres were just grapes. The old ones all went to -- well, including myself, after the war anyway, we all picked grapes at other places to get extra income. But ever since I can remember, we all went out to pick grapes.

KL: Where did you attend school?

SM: Alvina Grammar School. When I was in sixth grade we got put into the camps, and then I came back, my ladder year, my freshman year, and finished Caruthers High School.

KL: So what was a typical day for you after you started school? You said from the very earliest you were helping out with, on the farm, and also you were attending school. What was a normal routine like in first grade?

SM: Well, first grade I wasn't much help, I don't think, in the picking grapes. We all helped in one way or another, went out with the paper trays or helped arrange the grapes on the trays when they were picked. But in the life of a grape grower, we would often stay up all night, especially if the weather got bad, to protect the raisins. We would put the raisins that were partly dried under the vines so that as little rain would fall on them as possible. And then if the, if it downpoured and we had no choice because the grapes were too green to roll up or protect, we used to go through with a pitchfork and poke into the paper trays so the water could seep through and not, reduce the rot. So that was, that was every year. If the weather turned bad we have to go out in the field and do what we have to do to rescue the raisin crop.

KL: You, I think, have some other memories of just, of the ranch as a place and what was there. Would you just kind of try to give us a feel for your house and for the ranch?

SM: Okay. We lived in two different locations. One was just before the war and afterwards, but the one before that was the, where I was born. Just describing it, there were wonderful fruit trees and we had two large eucalyptus trees that, during a windy storm the branches would whip across, whip against the house, and we who were little, we were scared. But it wasn't dangerous. And as a, I'd be a preschooler, we used to make our own little toys with blocks of wood, and we'd play in the ditches and do all kinds of fun things, things that you don't see today because they have games, electronic games. But we used to, because I had two older brothers, I would tag along and do a lot of things they did. My oldest brother had homing pigeons for Future Farmers of America, and my brother under him, he grew, he raised rabbits, so he used to skin 'em and things like that. But in those early years we used to make chocolate drink and put 'em on the grape poles overnight, and then the next day it'll be like frozen chocolate drinks. So we had, it was very enjoyable, a lot of fun. Since I was next youngest it was easy for me. I mean, I played a lot, except when I got old enough to try to help out, and that meant, like, early years.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.