Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George T. "Joe" Sakato Interview
Narrator: George T. "Joe" Sakato
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-sgeorge-01-0012

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TI: Now, why do you think your family decided to do this rather than maybe wait a little bit longer, have a little bit more time? Did, do you recall discussions about what they should do?

GS: Well, we didn't want to go to camp, that was the main thing. And then this, and then my brother-in-law's brother was living in Arizona, said they didn't have to go to camp, so to go there. And that's what decided, well, we'll go to Arizona.

TI: Now, why do you think more families, more Japanese families didn't do the same thing and leave the area?

GS: 'Cause Kanatanis, they didn't have a grocery store, but they just worked different places, and they lived in Redlands. But they had just moved out of the house and went to Poston. But George Kanatani was, he was the first draftee. And when the first draft came on, my brother, older brother was drafted, and he was in the army, he was in Fort Ord, California, when Pearl Harbor was bombed. And when Pearl Harbor was bombed, all the Japanese were in the army and the various forts had to go move inland. They went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, or they went to Fort Riley in Kansas, and they went to different camps in Eastern Kansas area.

TI: Okay, but I wanted to go back to the, the Kanatanis, the Wadas, families that you knew in the Redlands. When they saw your family packing up and moving so you wouldn't have to go to a camp, did they ever consider doing the same thing, or did you ever know why they didn't do the same thing?

GS: No, they didn't. 'Cause they didn't have anybody they knew. We had contacts in Arizona, they didn't have any contacts in Arizona, if they moved to Arizona or move to Chicago or wherever. If they had anybody to communicate with, they would have gone there, but they didn't have nobody to communicate with. So that's why the Wadas and the Kanatanis, they went to Poston.

TI: Okay, so you had the advantage of having a relative already settled there.

GS: Right in, in Arizona, contact with them.

TI: So what can you recall from the, the trip from the Redlands to, to Arizona, what was that like? Do you recall very much?

GS: Well, it was a long, hot trip. You go and you go someplace, and then maybe one big town, you might have to report to the police department that we was going through. And then we had to get water and stuff like that. If you stop at a gas station, you had to show that we're traveling, our permit that we have to go to Arizona. Then we get into Glendale and we're south of the railroad tracks.

TI: Well, so before we go there, I mean, were there any events, were there any hard times on that trip in terms of maybe people not being very friendly or anything like that that you recall?

GS: Well, we never did meet anybody other than the gas stations where we had to fill up gas. But they would just look along the, they saw the records that we were traveling under whatchacall, and the policemen escorted us out of town and that was it. That was it until we got to the next town. So all the reports, they were probably, radioed ahead that we were coming through, so there was no problem from there.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.