Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Midori Suzuki - Sanzui A. Takaha Interview
Narrators: Midori Suzuki, Sanzui A. Takaha
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Millbrae, California
Date: July 13, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-smidori_g-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: I want to hear more about that, but first, tell me where else people in your family, what other jobs people had?

MS: Well, I already mentioned, Mari was working in the hospital, she was a nurse.

KL: What did she say about the condition of the hospital as it got set up, as people were arriving at Tanforan?

MS: I don't recall any conversation.

ST: I was never in there, so I don't know.

MS: I mean, she was like a baby nurse for the Folletts, that was basically her training. And yet, I remember her talking about sitting in on surgery and finding it very interesting. Apparently she was helping during the surgeries and stuff.

KL: Did she talk about the other staff, her questions of the doctors or the administrators?

MS: Not that I recall. And Tsuki, after she graduated from high school, also went to work at the hospital as a, doing secretarial work. And Hattie said that at one time she also helped out.

ST: Yeah?

MS: Yeah, in the diet kitchen. So we had three of 'em working there.

KL: Did anyone in your family require medical attention in Topaz or ever go to the hospital?

ST: I don't think so.

MS: I don't recall.

KL: There was a doctor, actually two doctors, a husband and wife, who were first confined in Manzanar, and then in early 1943 they were moved to Topaz, Dr. Goto, James Goto, and Dr. Kusayanagi. Do you remember hearing their names?

MS: I remember the names.

ST: Goto I remember.

MS: I remember hearing both names.

KL: What did you hear about them? What was their reputation?

MS: I have no idea. The names are familiar, that's all.

KL: Yeah, I was telling Larisa, it's interesting, I mean, they're pretty famous. Like a lot of people like you guys have heard of them, and I'm curious about why. Just because they were such excellent doctors, or they were really outspoken?

ST: Because they were doctors. [Laughs]

KL: So then were there other jobs that people held in your family?

ST: Every summer I went out to farms or orchards and worked.

MS: All the boys did that, huh?

ST: Yeah.

KL: Were you still living at Topaz?

MS: And our brother Ack, Akira, he worked for the Topaz Times.

ST: Oh, yeah?

MS: Yeah, he and Fudgie worked at the Topaz Times.

KL: Yeah, I made a note to ask about that. What did he think of his job there? Did he like working for the...

MS: I have no idea. I think he liked working there because that's where his girlfriend was. And they did eventually get married, so I think that was why he was there. And I don't even know what he did there.

KL: What's his wife's name?

MS: Fudgie.

KL: What was her maiden name?

MS: Last name was Matsuzaki.

KL: Did other people like your neighbors or friends have an opinion about him working for the Topaz Times, or did your parents?

MS: No. Covered all the brothers, huh? Oh, well, Yoneji worked at the motor pool. I don't exactly know what that meant, driving a truck around for whenever needed.

KL: What were your tasks in the orchard?

ST: Picking fruit.

KL: What kind of fruit grew there?

ST: Peaches and pears and cherries. Then I worked on the farm, I worked in the beet field.

MS: Where did you go?

ST: I forget the names of... right in Utah.

MS: Oh, I didn't know that.

ST: I remember sending a box of peaches to a girl in Topaz, to Cherry Tamura, and she mistook my name for another Sat, so I never got thanked. [Laughs] Well, she thanked me later, but...

KL: Were you still living at Topaz in the barracks?

ST: Oh, yeah.

KL: Were those fruit trees that, they were older trees, right?

ST: Oh, yeah.

KL: So were they like private farms, or were they...

ST: Oh, yeah. I mean, all their sons were in the army, so they needed help. So they let us go out there and pick the fruit.

KL: What were your interactions like with the farm owners?

ST: Like at home.

MS: They needed you.

ST: Oh, yeah.

KL: How did the wages compare to what you could have made at home?

ST: I forget how we got paid on the farms.

MS: Was it handled by the farmer, or was it handled still by the government?

ST: Might have been the government.

MS: I suspect it was all controlled, so they get paid from the farmer. So basically you probably got the same camp pay, which was sixteen dollars a month. [Laughs]

ST: That much?

MS: Sixteen dollars a month.

ST: I think I made seven dollars a month.

MS: Well, then you got gypped. [Laughs]

KL: Sometimes visitors to Manzanar ask how people dealt with money. Did you have a bank account in Topaz, or did you just get cash?

MS: It wasn't very much cash.

ST: Didn't need money, actually. We were fed by the, you know, mess hall, and didn't pay rent.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.