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-01-0003

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KL: Would you tell me the names and a little something about each of your siblings, as you remember them from growing up?

SM: Okay. Miyo was my oldest sister. And I remember she, I don't remember her grammar school years, but I know when she was going to high school. We used to get the school album, and it wasn't a big school, so I'd see here are the names of her classmates and other students in high school and became familiar with their names. But I know she, then she graduated, so I was about eight, seven, eight or so then. So I didn't know her classmates, but I was real familiar with all the names of her classmates. I don't remember... I know she, being the oldest one, she sort of looked after us, but I had a sister above me and she probably played with me more than my older siblings. And my brother was next. We played a lot, as a little kid with older brothers, but he worked a lot, being the next oldest. And then --

KL: And his name, your oldest brother?

SM: Toshihiro. Toshihiro. And the next under him was Lily, or Yuri, and I don't remember too much about her, although we, in those early years we used to use the paper trays that we used for grapes, every winter we would make brown paper bags because that was our lunch bag. And then I remember wallpapering our house, and they used starch as the paste to put on the wall. And we used to all cut apricots, our own as well as work for my auntie's orchard, and along the way we picked peaches for other families, and we used to -- apricots, especially. We didn't used to cut peaches, but apricots, we used to cut it and put it on trays. And since we had apricot trees, we had a smokehouse and I remember my father putting sulfur in a can, I forget how it was, and he'd set it on fire inside the container and that would cure the apricots, with sulfur in the sulfur house, smokehouse.

KL: I've never heard of that before. It makes sense as a drying mechanism.

SM: So we put the cut apricots, two halves, and filled the wooden tray, and the trays would all be stacked up and we would put it into the smokehouse and cure them, and it comes out dried apricots. I'm sure it was sold somewhere. I don't know who got it, but we sold 'em for income.

KL: Who was after Lily?

SM: Katsumi. He was left-handed, I remember, so he used to write like this, as a left-hander. You're left-handed. I don't know how you write, but... I heard a funny story, I didn't see it, but I heard after it happened, in grammar school, Alvina, the boys fool around and one of the things that the boys used to do is when a girl tried to hit the baseball they would sneak up and they would grab the bat so that when they tried to swing they couldn't. So my brother wanted to do that to one of the girls, and so he went up there ready to grab her back, and she went [mimes swinging a bat] like that, and bang. [Laughs] Girls go like this when they swing [mimes swinging backwards]. Boys don't do that, they hold it back. So he was, it caught it off guard and there was a big laugh on him. I remember that was a big joke on him.

KL: That was Katsumi?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: Did he do it again afterwards?

SM: I doubt it. [Laughs] And he used to raise, in the FFA, Future Farmers of America, in high school, he raised rabbits, so I used to help him here and, little things. He used to skin it, spread it on, I don't know, spread the skin, dried it, and I don't know if he sold it, but I guess report it as part of his project at the high school.

KL: And then you're just under him? Or is there someone --

SM: No, and then Aiko is another sister.

KL: Oh, she is older.

SM: She was a senior when I was a freshman, so she's four years older. And she was real good at writing, so she would write my stories sometimes at grammar school, because I wasn't very good at that and she would try to help me. I used to appreciate her doing some of my homework. I remember, though, in junior high, in Jerome, there was no work, nothing to do but play, play, play, and so my studies became optional and I played from early morning to late at night. And I remember asking my, Miyo to help me with my homework, or do my homework actually, not help me but do it, and she refused to do it, so I remember crying because she didn't do my homework and it was due that day, next day. But my studies went way down in camp.

KL: In Jerome.

SM: Jerome and then Rohwer.

KL: And then you're after Aiko.

SM: Yeah, and then below me was Timothy. He was born when I was probably like seven years old. Our doctor, family doctor in Caruthers was Dr. Miracle. But he wasn't a miracle, but he was, that was his name.

KL: What was, what are your recollections of him?

SM: Nothing.

KL: What do you remember about Timothy?

SM: Well, let's see, throughout his life he was like the sunshine in our home, and he was handicapped, severely handicapped, but we all loved him and he was like sunshine for our family. He was just almost totally handicapped.

KL: And he was the baby?

SM: Hmm?

KL: He was the baby?

SM: Yeah.

KL: You mentioned that in Jerome and Rohwer your studies really slid. What kind of a student were you in Caruthers?

SM: I don't know if I got, grammar school it was either S, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, so I think almost every grade was satisfactory, at elementary school. And then in high school I got straight As. Had to buckle down, but I came the hard way. I studied, I did, it didn't come easy for me, and since I was the youngest in the family, other than Timothy, my family let me study and also take part in sports, basketball, football -- not football, baseball, track. So I was fortunate.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.