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

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: Today is September the 11th, 2014. This is Kristen Luetkemeier speaking, a Park Ranger with the Manzanar Oral History Project, here today in the Fresno home of Saburo and Marion Masada, for an interview with Saburo. And my colleague Mark Hatchmann is here in the room, he's operating the camera, and Marion is here, also in their, also in the house. So before we start with the questions, I just want to confirm that I have your permission to be having this conversation and to record it for the public.

SM: You do.

KL: Thank you. Thank you. Well, this, some of this will be somewhat repetitive of earlier this morning, but if someone watches your interview and doesn't watch Miyo's, I want to ask you some of the same questions about your family background. So what can you tell me, first, about your mother and her background?

SM: Well, let's see, I know that she came around 1918 as a picture bride and was married to my father, who was the brother of my auntie, who was lonesome and wanted her nice to come to be with her and also get married to her husband's brother.

KL: What was your mother's name?

SM: Nobuye, and sometimes it's spelled with a Y-E, but that's the way I spell it -- sometimes it's just U-E -- and she was a teacher in Japan before she came, and so the life here was very hard for her, being on the farm and being a very short person, probably four, she was probably 4'10".

KL: Do you know anything about her educational background, becoming a teacher, and her life in Japan?

SM: No, all I know is that she graduated to become a teacher and she enjoyed, she said, teaching and... and so her teaching background probably had a lot to do with her sharing a lot children's stories and songs while we grew up.

KL: Do you remember any favorites of yours or hers?

SM: Well, just like the American folk stories, Japan had these folk stories and they were well-known and they were all wonderful. There was an interesting thing that she told, one story, this great man -- I forgot his name now, but he was, he grew up very poor and he didn't have, and the family couldn't afford any oil for lamp, and so in his ingenuity he went out and caught fireflies and oiled the paper bag and put the fireflies in there, and he studied under the light of the fireflies. When we went to Jerome we had fireflies all over, and so I said I might do that, so I oiled a paper bag and I caught the fireflies, put it in there and shut the light off, and I couldn't see a thing. [Laughs] And so I thought, oh, that must be just a story, about this great man who was so devoted to study. But someone told me that in Brazil, or South America, they put the firefly on their shoelace so they could walk through the jungle. I can't imagine that, but maybe they're huge ones and maybe there's tiny ones like we had at Rohwer, or Jerome.

KL: Yeah, the fireflies were new to you, huh, being from California?

SM: Yeah, that's right. And it was fascinating. So I don't know the answer to that question, are there fireflies that's bright enough to study under, or was that just a good story to inspire us to study hard?

KL: Is, you can't hear anything? You're okay?

MH: I'm good. We're good.

KL: Okay. What... where was your mother from in Japan?

SM: From Kagawa ken. I don't know the town, Toyohama or something like that.

KL: Do you know anything about her family?

SM: Well, I know she had three sisters, and after her, after her father died they couldn't afford to raise the four girls, and maybe there was one brother, and so they had to give up one of the, the youngest sister. And the one right above her, Miyo -- not Miyo, but I guess her daughter said that her mother told her she cried, "Please don't, please don't give up our, my sister, my younger sister." But they had to do it, so she was given to a family somewhere else and they went to, I think Korea or Manchuria. I think's Korea. She and her husband died and left two children, and those were taken care of by my mother's mother. She raised them.

KL: Who was your father? What was his name?

SM: Ihei. Ihei, and I know very little about his background.

KL: And you said he had a brother here in the United States?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: What was his name?

SM: Teisuke. In that record, which I don't remember the name, there was another older brother.

KL: In their family.

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: Did that person come to California?

SM: Not, I don't think so, just the two of them.

KL: Did your dad ever talk about his reasons for immigrating?

SM: No. I didn't speak Japanese and he didn't speak English, so there wasn't much conversation. And I was pretty small, so I wasn't interested in those questions at that time.

KL: When you think of your father from your early memories of childhood, what, what words describe him?

SM: Well, you know, I really didn't know him too well, and he became ill when, I must've been young, fairly young, and so I don't know if his stroke affected his speech or not, but Miyo had a close relationship with him, remembers him well. But as far as I'm concerned, he was working hard, then he got a stroke and then we wouldn't communicate. But I remembered one incident before he had his stroke. I don't know if I was in grammar school yet or not, but I remember since I was not -- so I wasn't in school, I was home, and my father and mother was trying to harness the horse so they can get work done, and for some reason he was frustrated because he couldn't get something done and my mother wasn't able to help in the way he wanted her to. And so I remember his getting very angry and didn't hit her, but he threatened to, threatened her, and I remember she cowered in fear and... but that's all I remember about that. And I never saw him drunk, but I think Miyo said he drank and sometimes he was, got drunk, but I've never, I don't recall any of that.

KL: What about your mother? What was her character and personality?

SM: She was a, I guess a typical, very good mother. She used to carry me on her back when she went out to work, tying the vines or pruning or whatever, and she used to sing songs and tell me these stories about these great men, or great people in Japan.

KL: Do you have a sense of what she, what she thought about life on the ranch when you knew her?

SM: No, except that, no, I never heard her complain, but according to Miyo she hated coming to America and having to work when she wasn't physically able to do much hard work. But I never heard her complain.

KL: And tell me again, what was the relationship between her and her sister-in-law? Were they already niece and aunt, or cousins?

SM: Yeah, niece and aunt. And so all I heard was that, "We'll go to the house of the other woman," because I thought the word they used for auntie also meant woman, so it's always, "Let's go to the other woman's house." I didn't realize they were saying, "Let's go to Auntie's house." And I never knew she was my aunt; I just knew she was my cousin's mother. I didn't find that out until years later.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 3>

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.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: The way that you did for the ranch, would you give us just a sense of the Caruthers community, what the dynamics were, what you remember about it?

SM: Repeat that again, please?

KL: The way that you did for the ranch, you gave us just kind of a sense of the landscape and what it was like, I wonder if you would do the same for the community of Caruthers. Just important institutions or people, or kind of what its character was, what you remember about it.

SM: Well, only thing I remember, or the people we knew... well, there's a difference between before and after the camp days.

KL: This is before, yeah.

SM: Okay, before, it was a little town. There were twenty-seven churches, but I don't recall ever seeing a single one of those. I didn't know what a church even looked like. I didn't know what a church was. So we just knew, I knew just individuals in the community and just a few of the stores that we went to shop at. But it was a farming community, and there was no, I don't recall ever coming across any prejudice or discrimination.

KL: Were people pretty close to their neighbors, or private?

SM: Not in my age, but those that we knew were friends. But the houses were like half a mile apart or, not too, not very close. So we went, it was like we'd go over and play with our friends across, in the backyard. Mostly we didn't have time, anybody, to do that. We worked a lot.

KL: Were there big milestones in your life before...

SM: Camp?

KL: Yeah.

SM: I think school, I really enjoyed school, had wonderful classmates who were real tight, who were very close friends, classmate-wise. And in our original home we had to walk to school; that was about, maybe almost two miles, and we walked every day, rain or shine. And I remember some of my friends rode bicycles and I wished I could do that. A few times my classmates' mother would pick us up as we were walking and take us, and give us a ride, but that didn't happen very often. And I remember on a rainy day, by the time I got home I was sopping wet and I remember crying, crying and my family trying to console me. I was sopping wet. But I just remember that happening once. And we were taught which side of the road to walk on, which was the same direction the car was going. Seems like we should be, walk facing the cars arriving, but we always walked along with the cars. I don't know what the rules are today, or if even they have rules on country roads.


SM: But walking to school, there used to be one grocery store where we shopped and got our gas -- those days you'd crank the gas pump and the gas goes up and it comes out -- and we used to buy our candy or bread and our grocery for sandwiches. And I don't know if my sister mentioned, but we all talk about how poor we were. Our sandwich would be, like canned milk with sugar sprinkled on it and that was our sandwich. My classmates, they would baloney or they had banana as extra, and I used to always envy the fact that we never had that kind of sandwich. I can't even remember even having peanut butter and jam, which would have been a treat. But it was... and for some reason we didn't take rice balls, although I think maybe in the cities the kids were free to take rice balls because maybe there were more of them. We were like the only one or two or three Japanese students and so we were probably too embarrassed to take rice balls for lunch.

KL: Did you have a sense of being different? Was a Japanese or Japanese American identity part of your childhood?

SM: Well, let's see... if you took rice balls that would've really set us apart. We'd have been self-conscious of that. But I know that because my parents couldn't speak English, when they had parents come to the school, probably parent-teachers day or whatever, my classmates' parents were always there, but of course my mother and father was never there, and I was aware of that. While they had their parents coming to the programs or parent-teachers meeting, our parents weren't there. That's about it. We had one black classmate, one family and one was my classmate, and a few Hispanics, of course some Italians. But we all got along. We were close friends. There was no mention of, "You're a Jap," or, "You're a nigger," or anything like that. So that's, it's a farming community. We all knew each other. So it's no competition. We were no threat to each other, economic threat I mean.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: Is it -- [SM starts to speak] oh, go ahead.

SM: But, I'll also mention this later, but I'll mention it now, one of the things I missed the most, three years away in camp, was my friends. We were real tight, close friends, and so when I came back, the first thing when I went back to school was look up my friends. And someone told me they're on the front lawn, so I went to see them and when I got there they stood up, and we were all same height in the sixth grade, pretty much, but three years later they were like a foot taller than I was, so I remember looking up in the sky to say -- and all they said was hi. And what I was looking forward to was that wonderful reunion again, but it never happened. And all through high school, not one word was mentioned about, I was away for those three years. No one ever asked me, or no one ever said, "Gee, we're sorry. What happened to you?" They didn't say, "Where did you go?" or, "What happened?" or, "We missed you." Not a single word, and that really disillusioned me and I thought, gosh, what happened? Because they were still friends, but that close bond was gone. And some years later I was looking at the old copies of the Fresno Bee newspaper, and I saw all the propaganda and the Hearst papers, and I said, gee, I guess they read that, their parents read it, and so they must've thought that it was a good thing that we were put away during the war.

Although, at a high school reunion one of my, in fact, this black classmate said something that really surprised me. He said, he said to his, to my other classmates, who were not, who were white, he said, "Don't you remember when Sab was walking on the --" see, I had to go, the day before we were to be rounded up, which was a Friday, I guess, I had to go early before school started to pick up my war stamps and war bonds that we had been buying to support the war effort, and a little bit of savings that our teacher was having us save as good discipline. So I went back to school before school started, and I walked in the classroom and I told my teacher, Mrs. Fike, who was the principal as well as my teacher, sixth, seventh, no... yeah, sixth, seventh, eighth grade teacher, and all she did was walk up to the, her desk, pull out the drawer and got my stuff and just gave it to me didn't say a word. And I just walked out, and I was walking home, looking through the school fence I could see some students playing. I don't remember seeing any classmates, but I'm sure they were there. But Bobby Jones, the black student, at one of our reunions he said, "Don't you remember when Sab had to leave, we all stood on the front steps and we cried because he was leaving?" And that was wonderful that that, he said that happened, but I noticed that the others didn't seem to say, "Oh yeah, I remember that." They didn't say a word because either they'd forgot or, or that was Bobby's sort of wishful thinking that that happened. But that was interesting. We're going to have a class reunion, not a class reunion, but a reunion of some of my classmates, next week I think. So I want to ask them if they remember that at all.

KL: Do the other kids, the other boys that you were close with, do they attend the reunions?

SM: Yeah, my whole class.

KL: Have you ever had a conversation with them about...

SM: Not really. And I'm surprised that I never have. But I want to get together with my close buddies, both male and female, and ask them what do they remember. How did they feel when we were gone, and how did you feel when I came back? But we've never discussed that at all. Partly my hesitancy, and maybe their reluctance.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: You mentioned the other night a couple of other, another teacher that you were close to, from elementary school.

SM: Yes.

KL: Would you tell us --

SM: My first, second, third grade teacher was Dorothea Gallaher. She married a Martinson. But she was my favorite teacher, because I learned penmanship and writing and everything in the first three grades, and she had us do all kinds of fun things, painting wooden hangers. And I mentioned we had a study on Holland, and I remember we drew tulips and we drew wooden shoes, and one day she brought, I didn't know what it was, but what it was was cheese, and she sliced and gave us pieces and I remember I really enjoy it. I remember the taste so much that even today, when I buy gouda cheese it brings back, it brings back that fresh memory, as a second grader or, I don't know what grade I was in.

KL: And Mrs. Fike was the principal and was your teacher --

SM: In the sixth grade.

KL: In sixth grade.

SM: I talked to a friend -- he was in a younger grade -- and he said, "Did you get our letter when you, in the Fresno --" I forgot what, he didn't say Arkansas, I think in Fresno -- "when you were in the camp?" I said, "No, I never got anything." He said, "Well, our teacher had us write letters." And I don't know what happened to the letters, why it never, why we never got it. I don't know if they were, I'm sure they weren't censored, or maybe they were just kept from being passed on to us.

KL: I wonder. He was not in Mrs. Fike's class?

SM: No.

KL: He was younger.

SM: He was a younger class.

KL: But she was the principal?

SM: Uh-huh. No, but he said, "We sent the letters," so he was surprised that I don't, I didn't get any letters. But there were people who wrote to people in the camps, corresponded a lot.

KL: Yeah, I wondered, did you hear from your close friends?

SM: Never, not once. During the, after the loyalty oath questions, those answered "yes-yes" were allowed to get paroled to a school or to get another job somewhere on the East, and my two sisters qualified their answers and so they had to appear before the board at the camp to explain why they didn't say "yes-yes," unqualified. But, so they explained how stupid the questions were, and so they were approved to leave if they wanted to. So one of my sisters, Lily, she did go to Detroit, Michigan, and two brothers, Kats and Tosh, they also went to Naperville... Ohio?

KL: Illinois.

SM: Illinois. You're right, Illinois, for a seed company, and they worked there for one year. That was during the Rohwer year. So when we went to Rohwer they went to be paroled out. Course, most people say that they were, they were free to leave the camp, but they weren't really free. They had to account for where they were. If they didn't, then they would be breaking the rules, so they couldn't go anywhere without letting the camp authorities know where they were going. But since they stayed where they said they're going, didn't have to worry about that. But they weren't free to go anywhere they wanted, like most people thought.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: Is there anything else about your time in Caruthers that you, before the U.S. entered the war, before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, that you think is important to include?

SM: No, other than, we just enjoyed, life was wonderful. And of course, our parents brought us up to be two hundred percent Americans, so we were proud to be Americans, and so when Pearl Harbor happened that was just a real shock.

KL: What do you recall about that news?

SM: Well, I remember vividly, we were one year working on this new farm, and we were working on the west side of our house and when we came back to the house we took a break, Sunday morning -- we weren't Christians, so we didn't go to church or anything -- we came back and we turned on the radio, just to take a break, and the program we were listening to, there was a news flash, "Japan is bombing Pearl Harbor." I remember saying, "What a stupid thing Japan is doing. Who do they think they are, bombing our country?" Course, Japan was like the other side of the moon as far as I was concerned. And then within a week or two we began to hear rumors that we were more loyal to Japan and so we were dangerous, and of course, my understanding is that that's all the anti-Japanese factions that once and for all wanted to get rid of the Japanese on the West Coast, which they'd been trying for forty years to do but weren't succeeding, and so a lot of fear spread among the Japanese community. So we start to burn anything that was Japanese-y, magazines, pictures with Japanese clothing, and of course we were also told we would be a threat to the United States, which was pretty stupid. But, so we had a .22 rifle that we used for hunting jackrabbits when jackrabbit season came around, so I remember we dismantled that and buried it. And so we burned records, Japanese songs, and magazines and anything with Japanese writing on it, because we were afraid that the FBI would come and say, "Why is that Japanese magazine in your home?" and things like that. Which was stupid, but -- and I understood why we did all that, but I understand why we had to do it, because we were Americans and we were loyal and we loved our country. But I remember that happening.

KL: Who actually did that in your family, who burned things?

SM: We all pitched in, yeah. And this is common in most families, and I don't know if some families hid some things or what, but we all were aware that we don't want to be stuck with something that might incriminate us, saying we're loyal to Japan.

KL: Were there things that you particularly mourned seeing go? Or was, did that have a lot of meaning to you?

SM: All I remember is that we burned and buried things. We should've put a little stake and figured out where we might've buried, but we weren't even thinking of maybe even coming back to be able to retrieve what we had. So we just tried to get rid of everything.

KL: What are your recollections of the adults who you were, who were important to you, and their response to the news on the radio and also to these rumors and the destruction?

SM: Well, I was in the sixth grade, but I think I was pretty naive. Maybe our whole family was, because I don't recall our discussing it as something that, that's wrong and shouldn't happen, but we didn't think it would happen because we're Americans. But we felt we were pretty helpless, and our culture taught us to obey authority and don't rock the boat and don't create a scene and things like that. And so that was the general sense of our Japanese community, to just comply to all the regulations that were being dumped on us, register and...

KL: There wasn't a lot of emotional, visible emotional response from your parents or your aunt or uncle?

SM: No, no. Of course, I think we were worried about our parents because they were not allowed to become naturalized citizens. As far as we were concerned, we're Americans so there was no question that they would, anything like that would ever happen.

KL: And your dad had already had one stroke at least.

SM: Yeah.

KL: Was he still very able to communicate and move around?

SM: Not verbally, but he was able to get around, but limited with his stroke. I forgot how paralyzed he might've been, but it was a stroke, so he was partially paralyzed. He couldn't work.

KL: What happened next in those couple of months between going into the assembly center and...

SM: Well, like one was my going to school and picking up my stuff. And just waiting, and then listening to all the propaganda, that we were dangerous and that FBI were, had picked up people, teachers and martial arts people, Buddhist priests. And we knew that it had nothing to do with being dangerous. It was a lot of ignorance, just because, they thought Japanese, that somehow implied that they were loyal to Japanese, which was ridiculous. So it was just preparing. And unknown to most of us in the family, my brother had talked to the tractor man, who did the disking of our farm in, the two farms that we were in, and some, I don't know if they, the Sorensons, instigated it or whether my brother instigated, but in their conversation they, the Sorenson brothers said that they would take care of our farm, and so that arrangement was made, which -- and then the Nielsons, Teddy and Nellie Nielson, they were childless, but they were good friends to the Japanese people there, and they offered to take care of the books. And because my brother died, not even Miyo knows what the arrangements was made. All we know is that they were involved.

KL: That was Tosh?

SM: Tosh, uh huh. So I thought Miyo would know, but she might've blocked it all out. But she doesn't remember anything about what the arrangements were or what happened.

KL: Did you learn that later, or did you know that --

SM: Later. Later. I remember, I'm sure it was Nellie and Ted Nielson, they came when the army truck came into our front yard. See, I remember this army truck and our getting onto it and taken to the Fresno Fairgrounds. My sister doesn't remember that. Even my brother doesn't remember that. They thought that we were taken somewhere to Selma or Fowler and then rode a train or something, but I remembered riding a truck and -- see, that was the May 16, and I can't forget the date because that was the West Coast relays hosted by Fresno State, one of the big track meets in our state. And Cornelius Warmerdam was the world record holder in the pole vault, from Hanford, a student at Fresno State, and I loved sports so I was hoping that he would break his own record at the West Coast relays. Well, I never found out because that army truck came to our front yard, and I remember Ted and Nellie, they were shedding tears with Miyo and Lily. I don't know if, I forgot to ask Miyo if she remembers that, but I remember they were bidding farewell and they were tearing. And I remember we all got onto this army truck, and I remember going through Fresno and seeing the banners across the street, West Coast relays, West Coast relays, and then we were taken to the fairgrounds, where I saw guard towers, barbed wire fences, and other things that I remember after we got in the camp. And it puzzles me -- well, I think I understand, but it puzzles me that they don't remember that. I know I wasn't on a train and watching the banners across the street, 'cause trains don't go down the main street.

KL: It was an army truck, you said?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: Did you have, what was your interaction, or was there any, with the soldiers?

SM: No, no, nothing. We just quietly obeyed.

KL: They just said get on and you got on, and there was no conversation.

SM: Yeah.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: What are your memories of arriving -- well, you said you saw the guard towers and the fences. Was that a shock? What did you, that's a dumb question, but what had you expected and what was it like to have that first visual and go in?

SM: Well, again, our culture just tells us to, can't do anything about it, so that's the way it is. And of course, the fairgrounds is a place of fun and we'd visit in order to see all the crop displays, but it wasn't that anymore. It was a prison. So we just accepted what was happening to us. And we were given a big cloth bag, and there was a pile of straw, or hay, I forgot which, but we had to stuff it and that was our mattress. But one of the things I noticed, first thing, was the Isseis were sweeping -- it was all dirt, no lawn -- and they were sweeping and picking up every little piece of litter and stick to make it as nice and beautiful as possible, all around the barracks. And I thought, gee, that's amazing. So nobody was rioting or complaining. They all started to make it a place where they could try to do the best they could. And I remember that was May, so there should've been at least one more month of school, and I remember being told that there's a sixth grade class and that I should go to it. So it was one of the fair booths, and I went to it and there were, I think, four of us, four sixth-graders with a teacher, but I don't recall learning anything or what she taught us, but it was, like, to finish up our sixth grade. Not that it mattered, because we didn't have any books or anything.

KL: Was she incarcerated there? Was she Japanese?

SM: Oh yes. They were all...

KL: The teacher was?

SM: They were all Japanese, Nisei. They weren't set up for any schools, so these are all volunteer people who tried to make life as normal as possible, and so I guess they set out, decided to do that and start a Scout troop. My cousin was, for some reason, was in the Scouts, so he drafted me into the Scouts and I went through one level, and then he went to Arizona and I went to Arkansas, so that was the end of my Scouting experience.

KL: And you said you had been to the fair before?

SM: Yes.

KL: So you... what else can you tell us about the Fresno Assembly Center?

SM: Well, every night, I can still hear the bugle from the grandstand, that was a curfew signal. The bugle would blow the Taps, and then we could hear people scurrying around to get back to the cabin. And of course, people who had to go to the outdoor community toilet, they were in trouble because the MP came and knocked on our door and opened it and put the flashlight into our faces and make sure all of us, nine of us, were in our room. So that happened every night. So at nighttime, from the grandstand there was a searchlight that scanned the, let's see, about how many barracks, two hundred plus barracks, every night. So it was, it was, we knew that we weren't there for a vacation. And of course --

KL: How long --

SM: Of course, there was long mess, mess hall lines, and the morning they had the, either bugle, someone played a bugle -- depends on which block you were in, some just hit a big, big metal to announce the breakfast, lunch and supper. We had someone play the bugle, and every morning and noon and night we heard the bugle call that they used in army to announce breakfast, lunch and supper. And they started a baseball league, and sumo tori. My friends and I, we came up with our own little game. We dug a little hole in the dirt, and I forgot if we put a can in there or not, and then we had these washers, I don't know where we got them, we got washers and like horseshoe, we would throw the washers and try to get into the can, and that was our fun game that we played every day in our camp, in our block.

KL: Were they friends from home or new friends?

SM: No, new friends. There was, except for my cousin, I didn't know anyone from back, from Caruthers who was in -- well, they weren't in our block, so that's one thing. They might've been some other block. They were in another block far away, so we had no interaction with them. I mean, I didn't at that age.

KL: Did you have any visitors?

SM: We didn't. We didn't, but I did notice some people, visitors bringing something like fruit, box of fruit or something, to their friends inside.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: This is tape two. It's September the 11th, 2014, with Saburo Masada, and I was asking if there was any medical treatment that your brother or your father or anyone else received or needed in Fresno Fairgrounds?

SM: I don't recall at all any of that. There was some Japanese doctors in Fresno, they brought their equipment to the camps to try to help provide medical care. I do remember certain things that stand out, and all of us, as soon as we mentioned it everybody laughs if they can remember, and it's the community toilets. They were just holes in a blank, on a plank, I forgot, maybe five or six, and over here [raises arm] was a big tank that's filled with water, and when it got so full it would just tip the tank and the water would rush down, and whoever sat on the last hole there, the water would splash up. And so nobody wanted to sit there, but sometimes I guess they didn't, they didn't think that it was going to unload when they were there, but if it did they made sure they got up. In fact, all of us sitting, when that tank emptied out we would stand up, because the water's gushing down. I remember early on, but then, maybe a couple, three weeks, they had a talent show going on, try to make life as normal as possible, and they had about six chairs on the stage and they pantomimed, these guys sitting there, jumping up and sitting down, jumping up and sitting down. We all knew what they were pantomiming. That was so vivid in our experience. That didn't happen in Jerome or Rohwer; they had a little different system. But then showers were very difficult, especially for the women, since there was no privacy. That was really embarrassing and degrading for the women.

KL: Do you recall your mom's reaction to those?

SM: No, I don't. No, I don't.

KL: What was your living quarters there?

SM: Well, we had two rooms. It was Block F, on the end of the barracks, so we had one, one room and then the next room was a little smaller. I don't remember sleeping with my two brothers, but, and then all the rest of the family lived in a larger room.

KL: In the assembly center, in the fairgrounds?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: Okay.

SM: Block F.

KL: Was it a new building, or was it part of the fairgrounds?

SM: No, it was a barrack, new barrack. In fact, I didn't know they had anybody living in stables, but I heard there were a few who stayed in stables.

KL: At Fresno?

SM: Assembly Center, yeah.

KL: You mentioned a connection to the Pinedale Assembly Center, when you were a kid.

SM: Yes.

KL: Can you tell us what that was?

SM: Yeah, for some reason, after Pinedale vacated, and most of 'em were sent to Tule Lake Concentration Camp, I was able to get on a work crew and we rode to Pinedale, which would've been, like, a half an hour ride, and whatever we were doing, we were mopping up something, debris I guess, and I looked into the barrack and the steel leg of the bed was sunk into the asphalt about an inch or inch-and-a-half. And I thought, oh my gosh, how could they live in a barrack that was so hot? So years later, at our church in Stockton, we had a church member from Seattle who was sent to Pinedale, so I asked Ruth, "Was I seeing things or was it really that hot in your barracks?" And she said, "No, it was, that's how hot it was. When we dropped our clothes and picked it up, the asphalt would be stuck onto our clothes and we had to get the asphalt off." But fortunately they were there only three months. We were in our Fresno detention center for five months. But everyone must've been, and since they came from Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, it was just outrageous. She said, "I thought we were, we came to hell." I can understand why she felt that way. Like Marion going from Salinas to Arizona, it was awful. The people in Salinas-Watsonville area, many of them passed out because the heat was so hot. Just getting registered, they were passing out.

KL: Mark, do you have questions about Fresno Fairgrounds?

MH: No.

KL: Anything you want to add to the --

SM: Just observation of one of our friends. She was married, had a, I think five year old girl, and she tells about Fourth of July at the Fresno detention center. She said for the Fourth of July celebration, we didn't know what to do, so we had one artist paint a great big picture of Abraham Lincoln and then we decided that we'd form a verse choir to read the Gettysburg Address. And so they did that, and the, she said some people in the audience said, "That's a stupid thing to do. Here we're in prison and you're reading the Gettysburg Address." But she said that's what our hearts wanted, believed that America was, and so we just did what we thought could bring comfort to us. I thought that was really moving, that they tried, they did that.

KL: I've heard various people talk, on occasion, and seen articles about kind of two types of patriotism, one that looks backwards at past accomplishments and one that looks forward with a vision for what it wants to be. It's at work in that story, I think.

SM: And then she said she remembers when we were being vacated from the Fresno detention center. The barracks were covered with morning glories and things like that, and she said, "At least we made it like a home for us, while we were here."

KL: Do you remember gardens in the detention, in Fresno?

SM: Yeah. I guess that's because the Japanese culture loves gardens and flowers and plants, so right away there was a lot of that being planted.

KL: How long did you think that you would be there?

SM: I had no idea. No idea. Now, I don't know if the older ones thought about, much about that. I know that high school, in high school some of the students wrote some very expressive essays, but most of us just, seemed like we just ignored it and just did what we had to do to make life as normal as possible.

KL: The gardens in the assembly centers always amaze me, given that people didn't know how long they would be there, could've been there just a month, but to plant a seed and... what are your, what gardens do you remember in the Fresno fairgrounds, and what do you remember about them?

SM: Well, we didn't have any ourselves, but you could see all around there was flowers planted and shrubs. And they built a baseball diamond in the empty area, and they built a sumo ring and things like that. I think they had some boxing. My friend's brother did some boxing. And I don't know where they did that, but... yeah, they just went right to it and started to do everything to make life livable. And I don't think they even thought of, you know, how long are we going to be here, is it worth setting this up. The baseball diamond was just built because they wanted to start playing.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: Tell us about your departure from Fresno, and where you went and what it was like.

SM: Yeah. Well, I remember taking a train, and we had to sit up all the way, sleep and eat and whatever, and I think our food, I remember seeing brown paper bags, like sandwiches or fruit or whatever. And I remember, I don't remember all the details, or much of the details, but when we were going through Colorado someone said, "Look up there, that's the highest bridge in the world." And I remember looking up and it was about this big [shows with fingers], way up in the sky. So I remember things like that. When we got to Rohwer, I don't remember too many, remember details of getting from the train to our barrack, but one thing I'll never forget is the first supper we had there. It was mutton soup, and it was, grease was all over the surface, and we ate it and everybody got diarrhea because it was mutton soup and I guess it just didn't agree with us. And that's, I might say that's the only meal I can remember ever eating in camp. Marion remembers not liking this and not liking that because too much of it, but I remember eating everything we had and just went out to play. Food was not an issue for me. I don't remember getting milk, but I'm sure, according to stories or pictures, I've seen children, little children given milk.

KL: That was a very early meal, you said, or your first meal, that mutton soup?

SM: The first supper after arrived, we arrived there, was mutton stew or mutton soup.

KL: What were the toilet facilities? How did you deal with that area?

SM: I don't remember that. I don't remember that part.

KL: Did you have any other first impressions of Jerome?

SM: Well, it was a wood, we were in the corner, so it was closest to the forest, so we had a lot of trees in our block. And the first thing that was going on was people were cutting down certain trees or bringing trees from across the fence to our block, and everybody was chopping wood and sawing the tree limbs so that we could have wood for our stoves in the barracks. So we had a big pile of wood for fuel that they were, that's the first thing, first busy activity that, as soon as we got there, that was part of our, the work to do there. So we all helped out in one way or another. But we didn't all have stoves, when we first got there, but that was for future fuel supply. And we had a guard tower right, the corner of our barrack, of our Block 43.


KL: We just paused to let the voicemail finish its thing. So I was asking you about your relationship to the guard towers and...

SM: No, we just knew that, what the rules were. We never had to think about breaking the rules or getting into any kind of trouble. It didn't take long for things to relax, so we could go out into the forest. And I think the government knew before we left Fresno that this was a big mistake, because by June, see, we were put in there in May, by June 17th there was no way that Japan was going to invade the West Coast, which was not even possible, even without it, but Japan lost major battles in the Pacific and there was just no way, and only 17,000 were in the concentration camps when, at that date. But they decided to keep going because they couldn't, I guess they couldn't stop the ball from rolling. And DeWitt was such a racist that he, he sort of ruled the roost by saying, "We don't want them here and they're not coming back," which the government had to overrule. But he didn't want us back at all, and he didn't want any Japanese American soldiers either, to fight for our country. But he was just an out and out racist, and that's why I believe, firmly believe that if it wasn't for the forty year history of anti-Japanese movement on the West Coast and for General DeWitt, who happened to be the commanding officer of the Western Command, this would not have happened. The FBI, all the intelligence agencies said we don't need to do this. And Curtis Munson, two years before Pearl Harbor, was sent by the State Department to study the West Coast problem, and he said there's no "Japanese problem." But because of the forty years of anti-Japanese movement to try to get rid of the Japanese competition and Japanese people, and DeWitt's swallowing all these rumors, it happened, and nobody was going to stand up. Politicians wanted to be elected, so they joined in to get elected, which Earl Warren did, testified that, "The very fact that they haven't done anything wrong is proof that they're going to do it, when the right time comes." And in his memoir he said that was a big mistake, but then... so General Emmons of Hawaii, where there were 150,000 Japanese, refused to do what DeWitt was, recommended they do. And so DeWitt was kicked out '43 and Emmons took over. I think the government was already, even with the questionnaire, I think that was, somebody thought that if they could do that they can start releasing people to join the army and people to move out of the camps, but the damage was already done. So it was very tragic.

But my feeling is, unfortunately, most people still people think that, because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, it was necessary to evacuate. Had nothing to do with the war, had nothing to do with the security of our country. Had everything to do with these anti-Japanese movements exploiting the war and DeWitt accepting all these rumors and lies as evidence of -- and there was no evidence, only public opinion. So if a public opinion leader said we should do it, that's all it took to allow DeWitt to have his way, which was really unconscionable. So I believe it, we need to get the story straight, especially those who still think that for the national security it was important to, for this to happen. There was no national security issue. Not a single Japanese American has been arrested or accused of being a spy or saboteur. There were seventeen or eighteen who were arrested, none of them were Japanese, during the war, World War II. So the story needs to be heard and understood, that our history, our stories of our history of why it happened is not accurate, and people still have the impression that, "Well, it was too bad, but that's war. You have to protect our country," and things like that. It all had to do with these anti-Japanese movements. And they were failing, and I think I mentioned earlier that by the end of '41 forty-two percent of all the commercial truck crops were grown by Japanese American farmers, which is twenty-two percent of our nation's total. And ninety-nine percent of all the vegetables in California at that, end of '41, was produced by Japanese American farmers. So you can imagine the competition that was not appreciated by the farmers, the farm bureaus and the grower-shippers, but those were the, some of the key organizations that kept pushing to get rid of the Japanese on the West Coast, and when Pearl Harbor happened that was the perfect time to get rid of them forever. Of course they failed again, but the public, I don't think, really understands how that played into what happened. Had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, except ignorant people who swallowed all the rumors and propaganda.

KL: And the results were, that change in military events, in Jerome, was that you saw a real, a relaxation?

SM: Oh yeah, right away.

KL: So when you arrived it was much tighter than, say, a month...

SM: Yeah, at the beginning, right. Just like, at Fresno it continued all the way through, the searchlights and the curfew, but by, that's October we went to Arkansas, and by then, I mean, there was no report of people trying to escape from camps or... and the administrations of the camps, they were, administrators, they were all surprised that it was so easy for them to administer these eight thousand, ten thousand people in the camps.

KL: Did you ever have any contact with staff or with local people who predated the camps?

SM: No, not really. Except Dr. ... I forgot his name right now, the professor (Harold) Jacoby, who was the security director of Tule Lake camp before it became a segregated camp. But he wrote a book (Tule Lake: From Relocation to Segregation) in his retirement, and he wanted to teach his grandchildren and others that it was not a concentration camp. He said the women had it easy; they didn't have to cook, they smiled a lot. And he said, "I can't even remember any guard towers being around Tule Lake," and he said, "Gee, was there a fence around Tule Lake?" He says, "I can't remember." Well, I think he's dementia by then, and then he's trying to write a book saying that these were evidence that the camp was not anything like a concentration camp. He said, "If it were, why would these young people who were, went out the camps, come back on Christmas to visit the families, if it was a concentration camp?" And he said, "They even have camp reunions. They've invited me to the reunions in Sacramento." Said if it was a concentration camp -- well, the Holocaust people, they get together. So, I mean, he was really, either he was trying to hide his part in this, which he didn't have to, but... yeah, so it was just unbelievable.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: And we're starting up again, and I did want to ask you if you would talk to us about your father's death in Jerome?

SM: Okay. Three weeks after we arrived it started to snow and turned extremely cold, and we had no heat in our barracks. I think that's why my father caught pneumonia, and he died in a makeshift barrack hospital. And what I regret about my, my experience for that was that, here my father was seriously ill and I was playing monopoly with my friends, which was what we were doing all the time in the camp, just playing sunrise to sunset and beyond. And if we were back home in Caruthers, that would've never happened. Not only that, after the funeral was held we all went back to life as if nothing had happened, because there was no gathering of relatives or families coming to our barrack room, 'cause there was no room in our barrack, space I mean, and we couldn't use the mess hall or anything like that for hosting friends or relatives. So it was just unfortunate that we didn't go through, I think, the grieving process that would've normally happened if we weren't in the camps.

But one of the things that surprised me, which I didn't really realize what was happening 'til later, I realized that my mother had contacted her Christian minister friends and had contacted the, a Christian funeral service, and we had never, ever stepped into a Christian church. We knew nothing about what Christianity was about because we were going to a Buddhist, we were nominally Buddhist. And that was November 19 or so, when we had the funeral, at his death, and then three weeks later, it'd be about Christmas Sunday -- and I didn't know it was Christmas Sunday, but I could tell it was Sunday before Christmas -- so it was Christmas Sunday and we were all in the, in this barrack full of people, and we were in the front row, all eight of us, and we were all being baptized, and I didn't know anything about what was happening. It was just that we were all, as a family, asked to stand up and then something was happening, which I didn't even know was baptism 'til years later. And we were all baptized, and we started to... I personally didn't go to any worship service. There was a Sunday school for junior high boys, and only thing I remember about church was when we had a guest, guest minister from Rohwer visit us in Jerome, and my junior high teacher -- there were a class of about maybe four or five of us -- he said, "Today we're, we have a wonderful visitor who's a guest, and he's going to teach us a song." So Reverend Hopper Sakauye, who, I didn't know his name then, but it was, I know it was, he got up on the board and wrote on the blackboard, "Every day with Jesus --" he sang, or teach a wonderful, wonderful song. He's one of those very enthusiastic ministers, and he wrote, "Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before." And all I could feel and remember is, "Yuck. What's so good, what's so sweet about --" I was a junior high boy and I wasn't interested in anything sweet, and about a name. [Laughs] Course, I didn't know who Jesus was. But that's all I could remember of my church experience in camp, which was, like, one year in Rohwer. No, excuse me, Jerome, that'd be almost two years in Jerome.

In Rohwer, I don't remember going to church. Except one Sunday when they were passing around something, and I asked my friend who was a Christian, which I didn't know what a Christian was, but I said, "What are you supposed to do?" He said, "Oh, they're going to pass that around and you're supposed to take a little piece of bread and eat it. And there's going to be a cup coming around and you're supposed to take and drink it." So I did what he said we're supposed to do, but that was Holy Communion that I didn't know was going on. And I think that's about the only service I attended. Must've been near Easter or something.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: What else stands out to you about your time in Jerome? Are there any other experiences or descriptions?

SM: Well, Jerome, I enjoyed my classmates, and also the orchestra, played the clarinet. One flute player was an adult. I don't know why he was in our orchestra. Maybe he was assisting. But his flute was a hissing sound, and I thought, gosh, what a terrible instrument, hissing all the time. And so years later, when there was a group of young adults at our church camp and they had a little, they had guitars and he had a flute, and he played and it was such a beautiful tone. I never, I didn't know the flute was supposed to sound like that. So anyway, I remember that. And had an art class, I found out later that this was the famous Mr. Sugimoto from Hanford, who was the art teacher, but of course I didn't learn anything about art. I mean, that's the kind of student I was.

KL: What do you remember about his class?

SM: Nothing, except we were drawing and painting, but I don't remember anything that I produced.

KL: Who were the other students?

SM: Just people in my eighth grade. Course, there were, I think there were two or three eighth grade classes, so he was the teacher of one of our eighth grade class in art. But I can't, all I could say is that he was our teacher. That's all I can say. [Laughs] And let's see, I remember vividly a school play. It was by the high school, but our junior high school, they were all in the same block, same facility, and the musical they put on was "Old Man River" and I remember falling in love with the song because of the Nisei senior who played the lead role. He had such a beautiful voice, singing "Old Man River," and that became one of my favorite songs.

KL: Do you know who the singer was?

SM: No, I don't. I've asked the other, two of my classmates, but they couldn't remember. In fact, they couldn't even remember the play, the musical. So I have to keep asking.

KL: Showboat, right?

SM: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Oh, that's the title of it. I thought it was Old Man River, but it's Showboat, right.

KL: That's the only...

SM: That's it. That's the one.

KL: That's interesting, because there's definitely an undercurrent about racial prejudice in that script, too. It was people within Jerome who put that on?

SM: No, it's a high school, the high school put it on. So there's some talented people, I guess, like in any high school. I remember that as a memorable experience in Jerome. Remember doing nothing but playing, because before we went to camp we studied and we worked, sun, from morning to night and played in between, but in camp there's nothing to do, so my grades went way down.

KL: I know you were a child, but do you, were you aware of any tensions within Jerome, between Japanese American people?

SM: No.

KL: There was no sense of that.

SM: Yeah.

KL: You mentioned some of your siblings and their responses to the Selective Service form and the leave clearance form. You said it, you said that both of your sisters qualified their answers?

SM: Yeah.

KL: Did your brothers also?

SM: Apparently not. Apparently they just said "yes-yes," because, well, that was the easiest way to go. But I, my sisters, they remembered having meetings in our block where there were strong sentiments about those two questions and about the whole idea of a questionnaire, so listening to the arguments or debates, that they agreed. But they weren't willing to say "no-no," because they're Americans. So they qualified it, they said those are, questions are not right questions, and so they were brought in by the board that examined these people who answered the questionnaire without unqualified "yes-yes." And after they explained it they were approved.

KL: So it was, was it Miyo and Lily who qualified it?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: And how did you learn about these conversations, with the board and their, their...

SM: In their records. When we asked, wrote the archives and got the material, I read in the, in their archival collection that they had to appear before the board.

KL: And they were called debates within the block, about how to respond to those questions?

SM: Say that again?

KL: You said also that they recalled debates within the block about how to --

SM: Yeah, my sisters. Miyo -- Lily died early, so I didn't get to discuss that with her, but Miyo said that they had these debates. And I think every block had that. And then there were some, I guess closer to our block, who felt very strongly, so there was a lot of debate.

KL: Do you recall people going, leaving Jerome and being taken to Tule Lake?

SM: Well, just in general, I know these people were leaving, but I don't remember too much details about what the whole issue was.

KL: Mark, you had questions about Jerome, I think.

MH: Actually, I want to go back to Jerome and the mess hall, eating in the mess hall. Would you eat as a family in the mess hall?

SM: Never. Most of us, we ate with our friends, and our parents sort of ate by themselves or they were in the kitchen working. My mother, I think she went to the kitchen and brought back some food for the first six, three weeks. But after that she was free to go by, eat by... well, no, then sometimes she, I think she brought home food for my brother, who was, had cerebral palsy. But I wouldn't have been eating with my mother at all, or my sisters. At home, before the war and after the war, we always ate together as a family. We all sat around and ate together. But in camp I didn't eat once with my family, and that's most of the kids. They never ate with their families. We all ate with our friends that we played with.

KL: That was it?

SM: Someone said, I was mentioning what kind of effect that might've had on us, and -- I was in junior high, but even older ones -- because we, for at least three years or more, we never sat around the table to eat together and talk or even listen to each other, that that might've had some impact on our ability as parents to develop this kind of conversation with our children. Someone brought that up, and so I think there's probably some relevance to that, because the Niseis weren't always very good at parenting. Not that they abused their children or anything, but the communication was not there.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: You, I wanted to ask also about your siblings relocating out of the camp. You sort of touched on that, but I wondered if they left from Jerome or if that was in Rohwer?

SM: As soon as we went to Rohwer, they left.

KL: Would you tell us about how and why you went to Rohwer?

SM: Well, I assumed that the people were gradually leaving the camps and so they were trying to consolidate and save money. But I told Mr. Ellington, who bought the Jerome property, that that was the reason why we moved to Rohwer. He said, "Oh no, no, that wasn't the case at all. The government needed a secure prison camp for the German POWs, and so they decided that Rohwer, Jerome was a secure camp, and so they moved everybody out of Jerome." And that's what he, that's what he was told and that's what he said.

KL: How did Rohwer and Jerome compare and contrast to each other?

SM: I think it's, they're all the same. All the camps are so, it was a forest area, so it was pretty much the same. The people we lived with in Block 25 in Rohwer were mostly from Lodi-Stockton area, and so they were new people. They weren't the same ones in Block 43. I don't remember anybody from Block 43 moving to Block 25, since when we moved to Rohwer, I think they just put us in whatever barracks were available, so we got scattered all over. But I was, I got acquainted with the Lodi-Stockton people.

KL: What was that like?

SM: It was nice. I mean, they were valley people, too, and they were, they had a softball team so, the younger ones had a softball team of people from Lodi-Stockton. So I got to, we got to be real good friends. And then I took the church in Stockton, so I knew a lot of those people. That was nice. Let's see, I just spent one year in Rohwer, the ninth grade, and met, of course, a lot of new people, because I don't recall anybody, very many people that I knew in Jerome. Course, we were all put in different homerooms so, according to our alphabetical name, so in my homeroom there was nobody that I remembered from Jerome, so most of 'em were all new. In school, in Jerome we had some good teachers and some teachers that we also made fun of, and in Rohwer my homeroom teacher was Miss Avery, and one day she told me, "Saburo, you ought to be a social worker." And that shocked me because I was shy and I wasn't about to be interested in anything like that. She said, "You like sports?" I would say, "Yeah, I sure do." But she said social work, I thought it strange and here I ended up sort of in that field, and I don't know why she said that. But one of my favorite teachers there was an English teacher, Miss Ziegler. I liked her because she had us, when we read the book Treasure Island she made it into a game and asking questions and answers. We had chosen two teams and one, the person asking the question on the other team was the pitcher and we were the batters, and so the question would come to us, if you answered the question we'd get to first base and we'd play a baseball game like that, and that was fun. And then, of course, I used to stutter so much I could never give an oral report, so playing that kind of game was fun. If I had to give an oral report I'd probably thought she was the worst teacher I ever had. [Laughs]

KL: Tell us where Lily and Kats and Tosh relocated to and what they did.

SM: They went to Naperville, Illinois and a seed company, and before, when we decided to go back to California they came back and joined us. But Tosh and Lily went one month ahead, in March, to fix up the place, make sure everything was ready for us, and a month later we joined them, in April.

KL: All three of them went to Naperville? Or did Lily --

SM: No, Lily went to Detroit, Michigan. She worked, I think she worked as a housemaid. That was a common job for the Japanese people, women.

KL: Did they tell you anything about their experiences in Naperville and Detroit?

SM: Well, very little. Very little. Yeah, I don't know, it's so strange, we didn't talk about things like that.

KL: What was it like for you to have them leave?

SM: It didn't make any difference to me. There was nothing going on to keep them, keep us together. I was playing all the time with my friends and they were with their friends or their work. My brother Kats worked in the kitchen in Jerome, and my brother Tosh worked in the warehouse. I think Miyo told me, 'cause I don't recall Tosh mentioning it, but I think I might've sensed it, his friends were among those being influenced by, I think by Reverend Kai, the Buddhist priest, who was sort of telling them they shouldn't take all this sitting down. So he was very vocal, and then his, the group that he was mostly working with were Kibei who had a stronger self-image and sense of who they were, so they would be very open to Reverend Kai's guidance about not being a "yes-yes" person, kowtowing and accommodating the majority. So he had a, I don't know how large a group, but he had, he was quite influential in a group from Jerome that said "no-no," and they ended up in Tule Lake. I think I mentioned, I don't know what happened to him. I should sort of look it up and see.

KL: Yeah, I don't know either. I'll have to, we'll have to compare notes on what we find.

SM: But I remember his name was Reverend Kai, K-A-I.

KL: Yeah, and he was a Buddhist minister.

SM: Priest, uh huh, from Fresno. So Tosh's close friends, since a lot of them were from Caruthers and Fresno area, he sort of got rejected because he didn't go along with this "no-no" thing. And Tosh was a typical quiet American, two hundred percent American and didn't rock the boat or anything. So he didn't agree, so they sort of shunned him after that.

KL: Are you aware if any of them returned to the Fresno area in years later?

SM: Yeah, they came back, but they never talked about it.

KL: Were they, did they have problems when they came back? Or were they reintegrated into the community?

SM: Well, I'm not aware of that. Right after high school I moved outside of town, so I don't know anything that might have happened since then, but all I know is they, like most of those who went to Tule Lake, didn't want to be identified as having been in Tule Lake. It was, for them it was a shame, because the Japanese community put them down for being, unjustly calling them disloyal and traitors, which wasn't the case at all. But that's the stigma that they had.

KL: [To MH] Do you have any questions about Rohwer? [To SM] Do you have other things about Rohwer you wanted to include?

SM: Let's see, Rohwer... let's see if I jotted down anything that we missed. [Looks at notes] I know that, I had classmates and friends from camp, like those from Fresno area, so when they had a Jerome reunion here in Fresno I was anxious to hook up with them, so I went to some of them to say hi, and I was surprised they didn't know who I was. And I realized that I wasn't a, I wasn't a troublemaker or anything where I would stand up and they would notice. I was just shy and quiet, so they didn't even notice me. But I knew who they were. Although one fellow called me out of the blue a few years later -- he had moved to Long Beach -- and he said, he said, "Sab, I remember you, and I want to apologize because at the reunion when you told us who you were I said I didn't know you. But," he said, "I never forget a face and I never forget a name, and this morning I was shaving and I said, 'Oh, I know who that guy was.'" So he called me long distance and he confessed. [Laughs] That was really interesting and funny.

KL: What are the Rohwer reunions like, the Fresno ones? Or maybe you've only been to that one?

SM: Well let's see, the Jerome reunion here in Fresno --

KL: Oh, I'm sorry, Jerome.

SM: Yeah, Jerome. Well, I was disappointed that my friends didn't remember me, but actually, I lived in the country and they were from different communities as well as the city, so I didn't expect them to know me too well 'cause I was in, I was, well, we were there three years. But it was, I don't remember too much about it other than people got a chance to see each other. That was nice.

KL: Just catch up.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: What, tell us about coming back to Caruthers. I guess there was never any question that you would go somewhere else or anything because of your property.

SM: Yeah. Of course, we didn't know anything about that, but it turned out that the Sorensons and the Nielsons had looked after our things. I don't think we knew that we were going to come back for sure, but it was more in case we did. And when we came back the ranch was not in the best shape, because I'm sure the Sorensons didn't have the help they needed to, and it wasn't their land, so when we came back we had a lot of work to get the weeds out and get it back in shape again. But the day after we got back we enrolled at Caruthers High School, as a freshman, my sister was a senior. That was about April, around April 24th or so, so just before graduation. And the first thing I did was look up my friends and found out that they didn't say anything about how bad it was that I was gone. But my sister, just before graduation had a, they were in the library and the intercom said, "All the seniors come to the principal's office to get your cap and gown measurement," so she, with her classmates, excitedly went to the office and Mr. Butzbach took her aside, the principal, and he said, "We don't want any Japs at our graduation, so you can't attend." And you read her letter, she felt like she was just slapped in the face. She was so stunned that she didn't even tell her family that such a thing happened. And I don't know why we didn't question her graduation. Probably because she went to Watsonville for this new job that she got the day she was told not to come back, or not to graduate with her class.

KL: What was the job that she got?

SM: WRA (War Relocation Authority) formed a temporary office in Watsonville to help resettle the people coming back out of the camps to that area. And she probably had helped Marion's family locate the Buddhist temple, and then the Westview Presbyterian Church, a Japanese Presbyterian church. Of course she wouldn't have known the, her family, and her family wouldn't have known my sister.

KL: Did she say anything about her feelings about having that job?

SM: No, except she was glad that when she got, when she was told she couldn't attend she just dropped out of school, and the same day, she said, "I got this telegram saying to come to work." So she said, "I rode the Greyhound bus and it was, like, first time I'd traveled alone like this." But when she got there, the newspapers were filled with this anti-Japanese sentiments, that, "We don't want them back here," in Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Cruz, and so I guess she had, she's quite a strong thinker, so I guess she fired a letter to the editor. And I think Mr. (G.W. Cornell) must've had something to do with that Methodist church, if only not to allow her to come back to church there. She was just a, just a teenager in a youth fellowship. But anyway...

KL: It's another research question, maybe. It'd be interesting to --

SM: Well, you know, I checked with the church leaders there, especially through a friend, and they said the church never had a board meeting like that. I don't think they would record it, but anyway, it might've been a special board meeting. And I know that church supported the Japanese coming back to the area.

KL: The denomination?

SM: No, that particular church and certain other Protestant churches, because some of the ministers, like at the First Baptist Church, had -- I don't know who the minister was at Methodist church and the Presbyterian church -- they all said, "Let's welcome them back." But then all these other people wrote letters to editors saying, "We don't want them back. They should go back to where they came from." Things like that.

KL: That's in Watsonville, the churches supported the return?

SM: Uh-huh.

KL: Interesting.

SM: Because, I think primarily, not because only the ministers, because their, like the major denominations, they weren't supportive of this kind of mass incarceration. Course, the headquarters had nothing, didn't know of anything about the West Coast anti-Japanese movement, so they thought that didn't make sense. They're Americans. But so those, what we call the major denominations, they passed resolutions at their conventions saying this is not right, but it was more the Pentecostal, Four Square and the more conservative churches that didn't want us back or didn't want us attending church. Like my brother and sister came back early in March, their best friend, not best friend but a classmate, Effie Haggard, invited him to their Easter worship and two days later the minister of that church brought Effie with him and they told my brother, "My congregation says they will not come to church anymore if you two continue to come to church." My brother said, "Oh, don't worry about it. We're not going to," and went two blocks away to the church that became a home church, the Methodist Church of Caruthers.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

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.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: Well, what directions did you take in life after high school, or is there anything else before your high school graduation that's important to you?

SM: I was active in school sports, and then I studied hard even though I had to, even though I didn't share all the workload that we normally would do at home, because I had to get my studies done. Because my grades didn't come from being smart, it came from just studying hard, really studying hard. All the way to college I had to just study hard. But I was getting straight As, and maybe that was the motivation. Let's see...

KL: What was your motivation for working so hard?

SM: I guess just we were brought up that way, since grammar school, study hard. And I think, I mentioned recently in a talk that because we weren't, we were like a second-class citizen, we tried to compete with the majority in ways that we had some control over, and that was studying and grades. So back in those days, most of the valedictorians were Japanese Americans. That's something we had control over, and so academically, not only were we encouraged to go to school and do all that, but that was one way of competing and staying at the top. Socially we were not accepted as well. Our parents -- and this is the Japanese culture -- were very prejudiced against other cultures, but they said that the Japanese people are number one, "You're number one. Don't forget it." And so that was drummed into us, intellectually, but emotionally we didn't experience that. We were treated like second-class citizens, and so there was a difference between what we were taught and how we felt. How we felt was don't rock the boat, don't speak up, don't challenge anybody. Just look the other way if they mistreat you, just smile if they call you names. So that was all very degrading to our emotional life. Intellectually, we would say, "Oh, they're just stupid. They're dumb. Don't pay attention." Well, that's, that was okay if you had a strong self identity like our Isseis who grew up in a majority culture, and the Kibeis who grew up in a majority culture in Japan, but for us who was -- like one minister friend, he quoted somebody and it was wonderful, it really rang a bell with me. He said, "What do, what's it like to grow up as a minority in America?" or anywhere, I guess. He said it's like you're walking along and every so often somebody notices you and you're aware of that and you interact off and on, but he said growing up as a Japanese American, or as a minority, you walk, you're walking down this path and it's lined up with people and they're all looking at you. And that's how we felt. Everybody's aware of you, looking at you, so don't make a mistake or don't bring shame. And so we watched our Ps and Qs, and so we were very self-conscious of ourselves, which wasn't too helpful because we were always worried about what people were thinking. But the Isseis, they survived that way, in a discriminatory society, because they said, "Oh, they're just stupid. They don't know anything." That's because they already had this strong self-image. But for us growing up, we didn't have that, so it was sort of devastating, not to speak up or not to say, "Hey, you can't do that." We'd just smile and just try to let it roll off the back, but it was getting us in our gut because we couldn't do anything about it.

So when the blacks were revolting in the '60s, very, very few Japanese who had the bad experience of World War II, who had the right the speak up, didn't say anything, just kept quiet. And I describe that as growing up in so-called society, well-accepted, not on equal terms with the majority but by kowtowing and accommodating. And so if they said anything about those blacks who were trying to fight for justice, they might be kicked off the hill again, so they just kept quiet and didn't really help the blacks like we, we had a right to do so from our own experience. So that was sort of tragic.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: I was, actually, that's one of my notes, to ask you about sort of 1960s, Civil Rights Movement, but first I want to back up and ask how you decided to become a minister.

SM: Well, actually I backed into it, because I had no idea of being a minister. Idea of a minister, has to preach, and I stuttered all, from third grade all the way through college, so there's no way I was going to be a minister. But I was willing to help out with the young people at church, I was willing to work in the church. And one day I was picking blackberries in the, one of the church families were, I was working and, working with the young people, so I was picking blackberries and someone died and -- well, two things happened. One, the family I was staying with, their baby died of crib death, and it was really sad that that happened. And I can't remember if that was the funeral service or whether it was another service. The senior minister who was from Japan and who spoke English, but it was limited, he asked me if I would preach, now that I was helping at the church. And I didn't --

KL: So you were in college?

SM: No, that was in seminary, my, end of my second year. The church asked me, in Watsonville, if I would help them, so I went and I was helping the church, worked with the young people and working on the field during the daytime. And I wasn't able to say, "No, I can't." Being a typical Nisei, I just said, "Yes, I'll do it." And I didn't know what I was talking about, but since then I had to just really work hard to preach, which was not my, wasn't, was not my thing. But I managed to do that for about six years, maybe ten years, and then I just complete speech block. And I did tell the church that I stuttered and therefore I couldn't preach. But then some healing went on, and that helped me out because the church stuck with me, even though I wasn't able to serve as a minister. And that was a big learning experience for me, about my faith and about how you help people, by not just talking but by supporting the, relating to them, and so that became a big asset to my ministry. But anyway, getting back, that's how I, so I backed into being a minister.

KL: Why'd you choose to attend seminary?

SM: Well, one was, it was, when I got out of college... course, I was going to a Christian church, and back in those days, I grew up with a very narrow, conservative theology, so I used to go to visit churches in San Francisco, I'd say, "That church is no good, that church is no good. They're not preaching the gospel." And I was really judgmental, critical, because I was told what a Christian believed and all the doctrines. I was visiting all these ministers and churches, but... let's see, where was I leading to? Oh yeah, but somehow I was interested in helping out churches, so my good friend, who was a wonderful evangelist and leader of our Japanese American churches, he got me on the gospel team. And I don't sing other than I can sing, and we're on a gospel team and we all have to give testimonies at these meetings, and my testimony was hard because I was stuttering and things like that. But he sent me a registration to Fuller Seminary. And I didn't know anything about theological school, so I just registered and ended up there, attended a church there in Pasadena, helping the youth group. And then I got called to help a youth group at another in Watsonville, and next thing I knew I was backed into preaching, which was not my choice at all. I just sort of ended up being a minister.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: When did, you mentioned earlier that you sort of were part of this attitude of just letting criticism or discrimination roll off your back. When did that change for you, and how?

SM: Yeah. Probably, just thinking off the top of my head, probably two things. One was the Christian faith I was brought up with, in terms of social issues, it didn't help me deal with that. It was sort of rationalizing everything going on and not really calling a spade a spade, and one of the things that I had to unlearn was, I was hearing things from the Christian, the more conservative groups, or maybe typical Christian attitude, trying to learn the Christian understanding, was that these things like the camp, it really was a blessing in design. God meant it to be a blessing. After all, we started a Christian church in Arkansas, and young people were able to go to the East Coast to colleges and find jobs, so instead of being stuck in California -- it wouldn't have been a ghetto, but some people said we didn't want, we'd be in a ghetto if it didn't happen, but we got scattered to the, all these different camps and then went to the East Coast. And so people were saying, and the elderly who worked so hard didn't have anything to do in the camp, so it was a wonderful vacation and they learned crafts and arts, so it was really a blessing, is what I'm hearing. Especially, well, from Christians, too many Christians, and then from those who're rationalizing. Like one of the wonderful lawyers in Utah, Ray Uno, he was from our church in Ogden, his mother was a member of our church and one day I was asking her, "What was it like when you had to go to camp?" She said, "Well, when we were told that we'd be put into the camp, the city official --" apparently she had some friendship with a city official -- "the city official in L.A. came to visit me and he said, 'Mrs. Uno, you worked so hard all your life. This is your time to have a wonderful vacation, so you should enjoy yourself.'" And I asked Mrs. Uno, "How did you feel when he told you that?" And I, it just blew my mind when she said, "I was so grateful to him for being so kind to me." And I wasn't expecting that, but then I realized, anyway, that's how she responded. But anyway, so there was that kind of theological way of dealing with the camps.

The second thing -- and I was learning to, well, I was growing in my faith and I was finding that all of, many of the things I was being taught was just not true at all. My mentors in high school said, "See those Mennonites and those Quakers? They're just religious people. They're not born-again Christians. We're the real Christians, Bible carrying, waving Christians. "Those people are just religious people." And then they said, "See those Methodists, those Presbyterians, they wear robes and they have all the regalia of looking religious, but they're not really born-again Christians like we are." But that's what I was brought up with. Then I went to college, and who were the ones who stood up for justice and for the Japanese? It was the Quakers, and some Mennonite people and the major denominations. It was the Bible-waving Christians who said, "We don't want you in our church. You're a Jap." And so I said gee, I mean, it didn't make sense, what I was taught and what I was learning, and what was really happening. And so I had to, began to unlearn a lot of my theology. The other thing was when people used to ask me, "When you were in camp, what was it like?" Well, I had learned to say, "Well, that wasn't good, but you know, I think it was a blessing in disguise. Our family became Christian in Arkansas. If we were in Caruthers we probably would be Buddhist."

But in 1961 or so it was, I was watching Walter Kronkite, who, it must've been the first documentary and it was on Tanforan. And I remember Tanforan, and Mine Okubo -- was she the artist? -- being among those being interviewed, and they're talking about getting a sack and filling it with straw, which I remember doing. And then seeing what I never went through, they were sweeping out the horse stalls with all the manure and the stench and trying to eradicate the stench of these horse stalls, and as I sat there watching the TV in my living room, I felt my blood start to boil. And I said, how could this happen in America? How could this happen in America? I was really angry that such a thing had happened. It's as if, for the first time, I get in touch with how I felt, and so ever since then, when someone asks me, "What was it like in camp?" Not once would I say, "Well, you know, it was a blessing in disguise." I said, "It was wrong, wrong, wrong." But you have to keep that separate from the courage and the faith and the determination it took for those people to go through it and still come out feeling strong. And I was riding with a passenger on a flight from Salt Lake City to San Francisco, and my seatmate was a Nisei fellow and he was saying to me that -- he was in New York, he had a job there, went to school there, and he said, "You know, camp was a blessing in disguise. If it weren't for my being, going, my being sent to the camp, I wouldn't have gone to university in New York or gotten this job, and now I fly back and forth on this jet plane." And I said, "You know what? If we weren't put into the camp you might be owning this jet plane you're flying in." And he didn't say a word. He had nothing to say. We just kept quiet all the way into San Francisco. [Laughs]

KL: How long was the rest of that plane ride?

SM: It was longer than, I guess, for him. But anyway, so that was the beginning of my sensing that this was not a, not only not a blessing in disguise, that it was something that... and of course, that was the '60s, with the blacks revolting, demanding justice. And like a typical Nisei, I was afraid to speak up for them or stand with them or march with them, so I was one of those quiet, timid Niseis, which was the most, ninety-nine percent of us. But I would listen to these speakers, and I remember some of them saying things like, to the majority group, "We don't need you. You need us." Which was never, I never heard something like that, you know? Like, "You need to help us to get us up to the top. Stop discriminating against us." But what I heard them saying was, "We're not, the problem isn't with our being down here. The problem is your thinking that we're not as good as you and that we should be like you people."

I sort of transcribed all of this into my own interpretation, and I came up with this new paradigm. The old paradigm is, here's a ladder, and there's people at the top and there's people at the bottom, and the idea is to try to get these people to come up the ladder and to be like them up there. Well, the trouble was these people were up there because they'd been stepping on these people down here to get there, and to have these people come up and step on those people so they can be up there wasn't solving anything. And the new paradigm, I suddenly realized, was a horizontal line. Here's the middle, that's human, the way God created us to be, fully human. These people on this side, whether it's left or right, if they think they're better than those people on that side, they're no better than those people because this is where they need to be. And those people don't have to be like them; they need to come to be fully human and be recognized for all their, who they are. And so that's something that I began to realize. It's not trying to go up the ladder. And then recently I shared, after I shared this talk at Tule Lake, someone from Portland wanted my talk and then she said, "You said something, I kept wondering where I heard that before." And she said, "I realized what it was." It's the title of the book, I think, is Clueless at the Top. The people at the top have no clue as to what the problem is. And I don't know if you've ever heard the book, but I just ordered it, and it's sort of a general idea, those at the top cannot be there unless you have these people at the bottom, and these people just don't understand why being up there is not the epitome of human achievement and so forth. And so she shared that, the book title with me. But anyway, so that's sort of changed my whole outlook about the, what happened to us and about the Christian faith was, it's somewhat true was Karl Marx said, it's an opiate for the people. It just keeps the people subservient to whoever is dictating the theology, and of course, so much of our, for me, for the Christian belief is so cultural. It had nothing to do with the bible teaching, it has everything to do with the culture that we're brought up in, which tries to validate or rationalize what we believe today, about the gays or minority groups or whatever.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: You mentioned the Tule Lake pilgrimage. How did you become involved with the Tule Lake pilgrimages?

SM: Well, knowing that there was this terrible conflict between the "no-nos" and the "yes-yes," and the "no-nos" being so stigmatized and ashamed, we, Marion and I wanted to, not just read about what was the problem, we wanted to hear the people at that side who shared what they were going through. And so we decided to go there, so the last four years, four pilgrimages we've been going, and it's been a wonderful learning experience and just such a rich experience.

KL: If someone watches this in fifty years, who doesn't know very much, how would you characterize the Tule Lake pilgrimage for them? What happens on it, what's it like? Who's the key parts of that?

SM: Yeah, I'd say that Tule Lake pilgrimage is, was an opportunity to hear people's stories, and these stories were not, would not validate the conflict that was going on in the camps, over the loyalty questionnaire. But those stories were so varied and so understandable and so human that it had little to do with being disloyal or being patriotic. Yeah. And the strong sense that I got from attending, early on, was here we were fighting each other and we should've been fighting our government who was doing us in, but here the government had us fighting each other. And I guess that's an example of divide and conquer, because the government had Ben Kuroki talk to the draft resisters and try to tell them that they should join and be drafted and things like that. So unfortunately, Ben was so, just sucked into the mindset he really didn't understand, and I'd say many of the JACL leaders could not comprehend why the resisters and why the "no-nos," it was just too black and white. If you were for the government you answered yes, if you're against your government you answered no. Had nothing to do with the government, it had to do with constitutional rights and being Americans. But the JACL leaders are, most of them are very young, and so they did the best they could, but the best they could was so, what's the word, contaminated with our cultural upbringing of kowtowing, of accommodating and not rocking the boat and just being submissive to the authorities. And that just was wrong and inappropriate. Not that we could have done anything more about it, but at least we shouldn't have been so, so... what's the word, like sheep led into slaughter.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: I know you also had an important experience at the Life Interrupted Reunion.

SM: With what?

KL: I know you also had an important experience at the Life Interrupted Reunion.

SM: Oh, yeah.

KL: Would you talk a little bit about what that was like?

SM: Okay. We had been to Rohwer and Jerome on a visit years before, but that conference, there were about sixteen hundred people and the majority of them didn't seem to come from Jerome or Rohwer. They were from other camps who were living east of Arkansas, like Chicago and New York, and I asked 'em, "How come you're here? You weren't in Jerome or Rohwer." They said, "Well, it's too hard for us to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco, so we met our friends here in Arkansas." And I thought, gee, that's wonderful they came to a place where they could see all their friends and that's why they were there. But because many of them, from outside of the West Coast, don't have the kind of support we have on the West Coast to talk about these things, they really enjoyed things. And let's see, but the workshops were all good. We were able to visit the high school in Little Rock where the, where the nine blacks attended. We talked to the, one of the students who were one of the nine. And I heard Jeannie Wakatsuki Houston in our workshop, when we asked her, "Why did you write the book?" And her, what she said I've shared with many people, especially with regards to people who say, "Oh, you know, majority of you were children, so the camp didn't really bother you. You had a lot of fun, like the elderly had free time and didn't have to work. So you kids, when you talk about injustice and all that, you're just mimicking what others have told you. But you guys had a lot of fun, so it didn't really bother you." Well, what I share with them is the metaphor of incest. Here's a little child, abused by a parent, a little child; you don't tell that child, "You know, you were so little, it didn't bother you." Well, we loved our government. We were fiercely loyal to the Americans and we were so devoted to America, and then this happened and we were violated, and so we just have to, like incest children, earlier days, we just had to bury it. We felt the shame and the humiliation of it, but nobody would advocate for us. We had nobody to defend us, so we just had to bury it and just move on, try to prove that we're as good as any other Americans and things like that. And sometimes it's buried so deep that we can't get in touch with those feelings anymore, and so these children, and I use Jeannie's answer, she said, "Well, one day my nephew came up from UC Berkeley and he said, 'Aunt Jeannie, tell me about Manzanar. I was born there.'" And she said, "Well, ask your parents. Obviously they were there." He said, "Every time I ask them they don't want, they don't seem to want to talk about it. Aunt Jeannie, you tell me" And she said, "Well, I was only seven, eight, nine years old. And we'd been to, we made a lot of friends and went to basketball games at the high school, and football games, and then there was dances." And her nephew said, "Aunt Jeannie, that's, so are you in prison? You're talking about watching games and go to dances, how did you feel?" And she said, she said that nobody had ever asked her how she felt, and she said, "When I tried to tell my nephew, I just cried and cried. I couldn't tell him. And so I told my husband, Jim, I've got to write about Manzanar to teach a young, younger generation what it was all about." And so she said, "I sat down to type, and every time I started to type I just broke down and cried, and I couldn't write." She said, "I tried over and over and over. I couldn't do, I just couldn't type. And so I told my husband Jim, I can't do it. And he said, 'You have to do it. I'll help you.'" And so she said together they wrote the book, Farewell to Manzanar. And I said, Jeannie was only seven, eight, nine years old, and you can't tell incest children, "Oh, you were too young, so you didn't, it didn't bother you." I think it affected all of us, whether we, no matter what age we were, because, unless we were babies. But babies are aware of all the parents are feeling, and siblings.

But we just, we were so proud of being Americans, and then all of a sudden we're connected to Japan, we're not trustworthy, we're a risk to our national security. But our culture helped us survive through it, but didn't help us to confront or deal with it, with our feelings. We just had to bury it. I remember in a church in Ogden, I was telling the older Niseis, "You need to talk about it," because every so often someone would finally break down and he'd cuss the church up and down because the church didn't do anything for, when this happened, in Seattle where he used to be, on the West Coast. And I know another church member in Stockton, he used to bring his mother, Issei mother, every Sunday, but he never stayed, he played golf. And one day he brought, came after his mother, and so we sat down while he was waiting and we started to talk about how unjust it was, and then, boy, he just broke down and four-letter words, and he said the blankin' blank blank blank country and the church didn't do anything. And so I was telling these Niseis that they needed to talk about. Said, "Oh, that doesn't bother me. It happened a long time ago. Not only have we, we had fun playing with sports." And they would just, they would laugh it off. But during the commission hearing, I heard that these same ones started to testify, they choked up, and of course we had a hard time getting them to even testify, but when they did they choked up and the other Nisei friends say, "My gosh, we've never seen him shed tears like that. What's going on?" Well, I don't know, other than the government gave them permission to get it out, talk about it. And when they did they had a hard time dealing with it, with their emotions I mean. But anyway, unfortunately, most of the Niseis have gone to their grave still in their gut, but I used to tell these Niseis, "You need to talk about it because it's festering in your gut and it's, I'm sure it's getting in the way." And they would say, "It doesn't bother me," and they just pooh-poohed it as if it didn't really bother.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Were you involved in the commission hearings?

SM: In what?

KL: In the commission hearings.

SM: No, I didn't. Yeah, I should've, but I didn't. Some of my friends did, but I did go to Korematsu's coram nobis trial in San Francisco, federal court.

KL: I'd like to hear about that.

SM: Yeah, that was quite an experience for me. A friend invited me, said, "Let's go," so I went from Stockton and we went to the courthouse and we sat there. And it was, I guess it was packed, and the lawyers gave their cases, government and the Korematsu team, and then Judge Marilyn Patel said, "We'll take a recess, and when I come back I'll give my verdict." I remember the courtroom was very quiet, real quiet as we waited. And when she came back she had some scathing words for the government lawyers for withholding evidence, for destroyed evidence and lying to the Supreme Court, and she vacated Korematsu's case. And people told me the courtroom erupted in shouts of victory, but I don't remember that at all. I remember, all I remember was tears were coming down my face, of surprise, and I was, the overwhelming feeling I had was for the first time I was hearing with my own voice, own ears, a representative of my government saying that we were unjustly put into the concentration camps. And that's the first time I heard, with my own ears, someone saying that. But it's interesting, I don't remember anybody shouting, but I was surprised. "Gosh," tears were coming down, and that feeling of, "Gosh, finally I'm hearing somebody say it was wrong." Because until then I was constantly reading about national security and things like that. So since then, knowing, studying the history, forty year history of anti-Japanese movement and the General, what kind of person General DeWitt was, and having, I'm sure the government did it deliberately, they replaced him with General Emmons in '43 because I think DeWitt was an embarrassment to the War Department. But that was no way to solve it. That was just a cover up.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: There are a couple other sort of projects you've been involved in that I want to ask you about, but before that, I wonder if you would tell us, just briefly, what the rest of your mother's life was like, and also what the rest of Aiko's life was like?

SM: Okay, let's see, I'll start with my mother. She became a very devout Christian, and I remember morning after morning, not because I always awoke that early but I knew she was doing it, she was going out to the grapevines and under the grapevines she would just pray, like an hour at a time. And I guess she was praying for our family, but according to Miyo she was praying for twenty years for her husband, who was not a Christian and yet we had a Christian funeral service. And she had her own way of trying to interpret this, like she baptized all of us on the very first day we ever stepped into a Christian church, which, I learned in high school, you don't do that. That's not right, because you're supposed to be born again first and all that. Anyway, she said, well, in the bible the Philippine jailor, when he was converted he baptized his whole household, meaning the servants and everybody, so Miyo said, our mother told Miyo, "Well, if he could do it, I could it." So that's why she had everybody baptized. So she was a very devout -- and I just read in this little history that there was a blind man, Christian, of her church, in her church in Fresno. She seldom was able to come to Fresno because we lived fifteen miles out of town, and she didn't drive or anything, but he gives a testimony about my mother saying that every, gee, either twice a day or twice a week, I forgot which, he would call, she would call him and read the bible to him, because he was sightless. And he said, "Nobody knew that she did that, other than God." And she thought the world, he thought the world of my mother.

Chaplain George Aki told us, in testimony, or in his interview, that, he said, "You know, your mother's a real saint. When we tried to build a new church in Fresno, all these rich farmers, they would say, 'Oh, maybe a hundred dollars, fifty dollars,' and your mother said, 'I don't have any income, but I'm going to donate two hundred dollars,'" which was sort of embarrassing to the well-to-do members of the church. But George said, "Your mother was a saint, if there ever was one." Well, when I interviewed him, I didn't want to identify her as my mother, so I just said there was an Issei lady that George said was a real saint. But George had a hard time here, in this church in Fresno. He came out of the chaplaincy so, in Europe if, he had to learn how to drink, 'cause he didn't drink, because the hostess in the families over there would offer him drink and he didn't know how to handle it. Once he had, he said, actually, once he said he kept drinking, but he said he doesn't drink, he said, "I don't drink." So they brought him a little one, so he thought, 'Oh, a little one," so he gulped it and it was, it started to boil in his stomach and he had a hard time, so he said, "I better learn how to drink." [Laughs] So when he came back to Fresno, the best restaurants, they automatically serve drinks on the table, and so he said, "Wow, this is great." And his wife said, "You better not, you better not drink. People are lookin' at you." Well, he got a phone call the next day from his mother in Chicago saying to George, "Don't drink. You can't do that." So somebody had reported to his mother in Chicago. [Laughs] But when he went to the next church in Chicago, he wrote, "I hate the Isseis. I don't want to be a minister to the Isseis, and so the church members said, "Why is that?" He said, "Well, they really gave me a rough time in Fresno, so I'm just not happy." But after a few years he fell in love with the Isseis in Chicago and he treasured their presence in the church. But in Fresno he wanted an air conditioner for his car, since his wife was in Berkeley and Fresno was so hot, and I guess she was probably pregnant, but the church refused to do that. So he just had a lot of negative feelings about the... and the Isseis were the leaders of the church back then, in the '50s. Let's see, did I go off on a tangent? Where were we?

KL: Well, I wanted to hear, you didn't, but I wanted to hear also about Aiko's profession and later life.

SM: Okay. I moved away soon after graduation, so I wasn't in that close touch with everything going on, Aiko was in San Francisco when I graduated and she's the one who said, "Why don't you go to school here and be a schoolboy?" I was already committed to go to Reedley College locally, because that's my school district, so when I registered at San Francisco City College, with the job of schoolboy, they said, "You can't attend here because you're supposed to be back in Reedley." But I said, "But I live here now." And they said, "Well, okay." And so I ended up going to City College, but during the registration, I should just tell you that, to show how naive I was, when I registered they said, "What's your father's name?" And I thought, gosh, Issei, I mean Ihei, is such an uncommon name that I was proud that I remembered what his first name was, because we never called him by first name, always Papa. So I remembered it was Ihei, then they said, "What's your mother's name?" I said, "Nobuye," which is more common. And then the registrar said, "What's your mother's maiden name?" I said, "She did haven't any." We looked at each other, they said, "She had to have a maiden name." But that's how Japan was to me. it was the other side of the moon, I'd never even heard of or thought of having a mother over there, or ever had a mother over there. And so I called my, Miyo, when I got home that day, I said, "Miyo, what's Mom's maiden name?" And she says Onishi, and that was like Johnson or Smith. So next day I went back and said, "My mother's maiden name is Onishi." [Laughs] And then to register that day, the professor said, wanted to know what classes I wanted and said, "What's your major?" All I knew is Major League and Minor League baseball. I didn't know what he was talking about. So he said, he saw that I was sort of in a daze and so he said, "What did you, what classes do you like?" I said, "I like chemistry, physics. In high school I took those." He said, "Here, give me your card," so he wrote down some courses, chemistry and physics, and he says, "How does that look?" I said, "I like those classes. Good." So that summer my cousin asked me, "What are you majoring in?" I said, "Gee, I don't know." He said, "What are you taking?" I said chemistry, physics, and he said, "That's good, because you wanted pre-med." So here I was told I'm taking pre-med and gone through two years of college, and I haven't learned how to put a band-aid on. [Laughs] So I said what is this pre-med and I'm not even learning anything about medicine? So that's how unprepared I was for college.

After school I was going to, high school, I was going to work on a farm. I mean, that's the normal thing. My, none of my older siblings ever went to college, so it was sort of strange. I think those junior high years, though, junior high years I would've been schooled in preparing for higher education. Because during my senior year University of California recruiters came to our high school and they met with my classmates, and they knew what was going on, but I didn't know anything about what was going on. So anyway...

KL: Did Aiko remain in San Francisco?

SM: Just for a short time. And then, then she went to Japan to work, civil service, then she got married. And then she was in Hawaii when the fiftieth anniversary, reunion was scheduled, so she wrote that letter to Dildine was the maiden name, Hunter. And then she went to Los Angeles, lived there.

KL: Did she continue to write letters to the editor?

SM: No, no, I don't think so. No.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: You've mentioned George Aki, and I wanted to ask you to tell me about the Nisei Christian Oral History Project and what that was, who was involved, why you were involved.

SM: My colleague, Reverend Hei Takurabe, wanted to do a project of Issei oral history project, and his colleagues, other ministers, they all said, "You don't need to do that. They're still alive and well." But they all opposed him, but I thought it was a good thing, and I know that he was interviewing people already and that he was really getting his whole understanding of Japanese Americans. Turned around from being treated, being criticized so much by his church members for being, like an activist. So I joined the board and we finished the Issei oral history project, and we said, let's --

KL: Why did he want to document the Issei?

SM: Well, because the stories that he was learning from them were just so inspiring and unique for here, being here in America, that he thought it was really important. But unfortunately, the other Nisei leaders didn't think it was necessary. But by the time he finished, most of the Isseis had died, so that's how important it was that we had started. And then, so the natural thing was to start interviewing the Niseis, and again, we were hearing the Niseis saying, "We're not ready to die yet." But by the time we finished, most of 'em were gone, many of them were gone. It took a number of years. And for that oral history project I was privileged to interview George Aki, the chaplain. So we went to Claremont to interview him, and one of the things that meant a lot to me was his, when I asked him what does he remember about 1942, and he's from Fresno and he was going to theological school in Berkeley and was in his last year before graduation, and the rumors were going around, which we all heard, "Put 'em in concentration camp, round them all up." And I remember hearing that and reading that, and he said, "I was telling everybody that'll never happen in America. This is America. America wouldn't do anything like that. We're Americans. That will never happen." And then he said he and his young bride was put into Tanforan detention center, and he said, "When the gate closed behind me, my faith in America died, my faith in God died, and I died." And when I heard him express that, it really rang a bell for me that that's how we all felt, though we couldn't put it into words like that. But that's, that was the kind of shock and trauma of the experience. And I was only in sixth grade, but I identified with that kind of feeling, and so I've been using that to try to describe to people who don't understand how we might've felt, that that's the kind of trauma we all felt even though we couldn't verbalize it like that. So that was, meant a lot to me.

And George, when he was in, at the end of the war, when he was shipped to Europe, to... France? Well, general told him, "Chaplain, you know how we win war?" He said, "No, tell me." Said, "Well, this is how we win war. Eisenhower had his whole staff of generals and officers, and we, he told us how we're going to invade Normandy. He said we're going to send these crack trained soldiers to secure the beach, and that's how we're going to invade." And then night before he called an emergency meeting, said, "We've changed our plans. We're going to send some fifty, sixty-thousand recruits who know nothing about securing a beach, we're going to send them first and then we're going to send the crack team in." Which meant he was going to sacrifice all those soldiers, and George said, "When I heard that, I decided I'm against war. I'm against war." So when he came back after being discharged, the word got around because he was opposing war, among the university students that here was a person who was, who would help them and counsel them to become conscientious objectors. And so he would meet with these students and talk to their parents to make sure that they weren't draft dodgers but that they sincerely was against the war, and he went to bat for them and became real well liked and popular among the draft opponents.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: This is -- excuse me -- tape four of a, we're wrapping up an interview with Saburo Masada. And I wanted to ask you about your and Marion's talks that you give. Can you tell us where you've been and what the talks are like, what kind of response you get?

SM: I think one of our very first was in Stockton. We spoke at University of Pacific, and since then we've, I've been invited to speak at Rotary and Kiwanis, and because they have only like fifteen, twenty minutes, it's sort of difficult for both Marion and I to give our talk. But in the schools we have maybe maximum, not maximum but minimum of forty minutes to an hour and a half, so we both get to share. We have a professor friend at the University of Fresno who always invites us to two of her classes, let's see, four of her classes, and then she tells other professors about us, so they invite us and so that's been helpful. And then Marion's one of those who, when she sees an opportunity she really latches onto it, and if it was up to me it would never happen. So her, our trip to Nebraska is because Marion said, "We're going to go." And a trip to Minnesota we met Gina Winger at the Tule Lake. She stayed here for a couple days. So if it wasn't for Marion, we wouldn't have gone to Minnesota either, West Virginia and all that. So I sort of ride her coattail, but she makes me do all the work, says I have to do most of the presentation, but it's been wonderful to share a story. And we get a lot of responses saying they didn't know that that happened and they can't believe that it happened, how America would've done such a thing, and so that's been interesting to hear that, and how they feel so badly about it, as if they had not known about it before, which they didn't. One person, out of the blue, told Marion, "I apologize." And of course she knows that he wasn't living then, but she appreciated it 'cause nobody had ever said that. But since then, we've had several people say, "We're sorry that our country did that to you." So that's good that they're, that they identify with our country's mistakes, or crime. Since last September 'til the end of June of this year, we've had about sixty-five classes or service clubs we've addressed, so we've been very busy. But it's no problem for me. We love it, so we accept any invitation that we could fulfill. And this year already, our friend at Fresno State has us come to four classes, and another high school invited us, another one in Madera, and so they're starting to roll in again now that school has started.

One of the interesting things is there is a National History Day, and students have interviewed us on internet to try to get the story so they can do the project. And Marion may have told you, a student, eighth grader -- I didn't think he was an eighth grader, he was so astute, but he was only an eighth grader -- he interviewed us and he presented his project and his video, and he came in second place in Long Island. And he competed for the state, but he didn't place. A group of four girls from, I think Houston, interviewed us, and they came in third place for the state in their competition. And then, because of our friend in Tulare County, in the educational field, she referred us to a group of sixth graders in Bakersfield who won co-champion of California National History Day Competition, in their particular category. And so this teacher wanted us to have a private audience of her students, so it just so happened that we were going to Irvine, so on the way, at noontime, we looked up the school and they gave us a private performance of these five sixth graders. But they had a local TV there to film them and us, interview us and things like that, and I was just so impressed. And since I was a sixth grader, I thought, wow, I would've never spoken out like that that they did, but they had me in tears because they were so good. In ten minutes they were, told the history from way back, 1900s, all the way to after camp, in ten minutes, and they spoke like a mile a minute. So they were going to the National in Maryland, so we donated just a little amount to support them, and they interviewed us. The kids asked us questions and all that, and I suspect that that helped them to get a sense of what they were portraying. But we got an email saying, for the category, they announced, "Bakersfield." They had won first place in National. That was, yeah, that was amazing. And so they emailed us, said, "Well, this is part of your victory, actually." And not, it really wasn't, but they really appreciated our being in touch with them.

So that's been really interesting, and it's strange that the camp experience is one of the popular things for National History Day, because I think it has to do with justice. I'm sure the redress, or the educational fund, to help educate, I'm sure that has helped spread the word around that this was an event that helped, happened in American history. So we get a lot, we get a lot of requests for that kind of support, to give information. Let's see, other than that, well, we had to speak four classes in a row -- well, one time, actually, six classes -- but by the time the third class came, I said, "Marion, did I already say that to this class, or was that the other class?" [Laughs] And so I told the teacher after, "My gosh, one of the hardest thing is I don't remember which class I said this."

KL: I think we've actually done really well this week, remembering what we've said on camera and off, and trying to cover everything from the record.

SM: [Laughs] Right. And the teacher said, "I have the same problem." So I said, oh, okay. Especially when we ad lib.

KL: Were there other things that I didn't ask about that you wanted to include in this recording?

SM: Let's see... well, it always surprises me that this is such a popular topic, seventy-one years after it happened. That just blows my mind, just to think about this. And it's unfortunate that most of our, my generation have died, and those who were willing to talk. I wish we were much younger, and these people who died, who had so many stories to tell, that they would, were available to tell the stories. But never too late, I guess, so I appreciate the focus on it.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: My wrap up question is why -- and you've, I mean, if you listen to the whole interview, I think you return to many answers to this question, but why is it important to tell these stories?

SM: Well, I think one of the important things is, I mean, that enhances it, is that people who went through it are able to share their stories, so it's a first, first... account. I mean it's not something in a book or told by somebody else. And since it's a first-hand account it, I think, has more relevancy and power to future generations, who need to know that this happened in our wonderful country and that it can happen to anybody if we are, if we don't remember that these things can happen and that we just keep quiet and just resign to the vocal ones having their way. And so telling the story hopefully will -- like George Santiana said, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it -- that telling this past will help us not to repeat it in the future. Because the government kept it so quiet, it was important, to me, to let it be known, otherwise we'll repeat the past, we'll be condemned to repeat the past, since we don't know about it or since we've forgotten. So these memorials and your work and different park sites keep us reminded of an important part of our history, which can go wrong if we forget it. Yeah. But I think, of major events in history this seems so minor, but I think hearing it from voices of people who were, went through it, I wish I could hear voices of people in the Civil War telling about their experience or the signers of the Declaration giving their testimony. But we can just read about it in a book, and we don't have too many personal accounts of their experience. So I appreciate the Park Service doing this. Thank you.

KL: Well, I appreciate, from sort of a personal perspective, the chance to get to know you and have time like this and [inaudible] with you.

SM: Thank you.

KL: And on behalf of the National Park Service and anyone who watches this, thank you so much for sharing today and for all the...

SM: You're welcome.

KL: All the other efforts you're making.

SM: Again, Marion's connection with you came into this happening. If it was up to me, it wouldn't have happened.

KL: Oh no. [Laughs]

SM: Again, that's one of the Nisei traits. We just keep things undercover.

KL: You guys strike me as a pretty, pretty neat pair.

SM: Well, I learn a lot of from -- she prods me all the time and I do a lot of the work, but without that I wouldn't have done it. So it's a good teamwork.

KL: Yeah. Well, thank you.

SM: You're welcome.

KL: Thank you, unless there's anything you want to add?

SM: No, that's it.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.