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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Yeah, I forgot to ask, in terms of your parents, like your father, how would you describe him? What kind of man was he?

GS: Well, I don't know. He was tall, he was tall for a, for the family. And he was about 5'10", I guess, and he used to smoke cigars, but then he quit smoking. Then he, but he tried to work as hard as he could helping on the farm.

TI: Was he a talkative person?

GS: No, he was quiet. He never did talk too much.

TI: And how about your mother? What was she like?

GS: Oh, she was, like all mother, pick, pick, pick. She was always telling us what to do, and, "Don't do this, don't do that." She'd be nagging me, sometimes when it was cold, and she'd say something to me and I'd go out the door, go someplace and come back, she's still nagging me. [Laughs] She used to nag at me... but she was a good mother. I used to, when I was a kid, I used to hang around her more than the other kids, 'cause they always, Ken used to come by every now and then, every time we sat down for dinner, he'd bounce, hit each one of us kids going down the, where'd he sit at the other end of the table, he'd conk our heads as he'd go down to sit down.

TI: I'm sorry, your brother would do that, Ken would do that?

GS: Ken would do that.

TI: 'Cause he was the older brother?

GS: Yeah he was the older brother. [Laughs]

TI: And how, how would you characterize kind of your role in the family? I mean, if they were to think of you and...

GS: I was the black sheep in the family.

TI: So why do you say that?

GS: I was in the middle.

TI: So why "black sheep"? What did you do?

GS: 'Cause I was always sick. I was skinny and I got pneumonia, chicken pox, measles, anything that came by, I was always getting whooping cough and everything. I didn't think I was gonna live then.

TI: Yeah, because I'm curious, you said your father was tall, five feet ten.

GS: Five feet ten.

TI: And you said you were four feet ten.

GS: Four feet ten.

TI: So were your other brothers all bigger than you?

GS: Yeah.

TI: So you were kind of the runt, runt of the family?

GS: Yeah, I was the smaller of the group.

TI: Yeah, okay. Okay, good, I just wanted to get that. So let's talk a little bit, you now talked about working for Mr. Kato at the grocery store.

GS: Mr. Kato.

TI: Yeah, so what kind of things did you do?

GS: I worked setting up, canned goods up, put the fruits, vegetables out, clerked for a little bit. When they were cooking dinner, Mrs. Kato was cooking, and Mr. Kato, he was put in Santa Fe prison, 'cause he was an educated man and he, he was, I think he used to teach schools, but then, so he was one of the Isseis that was put in Santa Fe prison.

TI: So the FBI picked him up --

GS: Picked him up.

TI: -- from the Phoenix area, Arizona, and put him into the Santa Fe, New Mexico.

GS: New Mexico.

TI: Was that common in Arizona? I didn't realize they did so much inland. I knew they did a lot on the West Coast, but that happened also in Arizona.

GS: Oh, yeah, they did that in Arizona, too.

TI: Do you know, do you recall when that happened? Was that right away or was that a little bit later on?

GS: That, just, after I even, after we got there.

TI: Okay, so probably more like in...

GS: 'Cause I used to remember him.

TI: ...April, around April, maybe around then? Okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.