Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sachi Kaneshiro Interview
Narrators: Sachi Kaneshiro
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ksachi-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: Can you tell us a little bit more about other observations of life in Poston? Your vivid memories you have of the camp or certain people in the camp?

SK: It's a big question.

RP: Mess halls.

SK: Oh, well, one thing I noticed about the mess halls was that, when people first came in, they would sit with their families and they would eat. But after a week or so, the kids would make friends and the kids would eat with their friends and the older people would eat with their peers and the whole family structure was destroyed like. The fathers had no more (...) authority over their children. They couldn't discipline because (the) kids were running (free), you know, doing whatever they wanted to do. (...) You were no longer a family. I know my brothers, when I went to Heart Mountain, were just there early in the morning and then late at night. So my mother used to call them the asaban boys. Asa meaning morning and ban meaning evening. So, it was... and our fathers kind of faded into the... they were the disciplinarians, right? They (...) had no longer any sway over the family. I think that was the biggest, or one of the biggest losses of the whole internment thing.

RP: How much did you receive for your work as a, in the employment division? Were you considered a professional?

SK: Oh, I was a professional. So I got nineteen dollars a month, yes.

RP: That's because you had that college degree.

SK: [Laughs] Well, block managers got nineteen dollars. Doctors got nineteen dollars. Oh, dear.

RP: Who did you hang out with in, in camp in Poston?

SK: Well, mostly with the girls that I lived with. I guess that's it. I didn't...

RP: Did you attend social activities at Poston?

SK: (...) I was there for seven months. And at the time they didn't have dances. They (...) started to have movies. You bring your own box and sit out in (...) the firebreak. But no, I can't think of anything that I was involved in.

RP: You were pretty busy, but did you, did you have any interest in any guys there?

SK: No, I don't remember. Anyway, I... no, I just remember that I worked all day and the evenings were the hardest because there was nothing to do. And I didn't have a boyfriend. And we didn't have any radio, we didn't have any books, we didn't have anything that would be a distraction, so it was... and then I kept thinking about my family. So I wrote letters. But that's about it.

RP: In the seven months you were at Poston, did you see any significant changes from when you got there to...

SK: Oh, yes.

RP: What were they?

SK: Oh, people had started their own gardens. And the whole area around us, which was nothing but just vast sand and scrub brush, was all green with vegetables. Yeah, so it was a huge change. The barracks were still there, weather-beaten by all the sand storms. But people had taken pride in their little place, I said, they made gardens, they made furniture for their quarters.


RP: Mary, how, how did the --

SK: Sachi.

RP: I'm sorry, okay. Sachi, how did the, the latrines affect you in the camp?

SK: Oh, I was initially very shocked to see it because in Poston the women's latrine, the toilet side was just one wooden plank with holes in it. There were no partitions at all. And then the shower -- [coughs] excuse me -- the shower was on one side. But then of course that was all open, too. (...) I thought (I'd) go first thing in the morning before anybody got up. I mean it was still dark and so I would try going early (to) do my business. And wouldn't you know, there was a whole bunch of people already there thinking the same thing. So it didn't work. So, you decided you can't fight it. You might as well just lose your sense of modesty, which we had to do. And, oh, subsequently, they did put in partitions, but no doors, just the partitions. But anyway, that was I think the hardest part of living in camp for all of us to get used to. I don't know about the men, but for, for the women especially and the girls. Lack of privacy.

RP: Now, you worked with some of the Caucasian staff.

SK: Uh-huh.

RP: How would you characterize their involvement in the camp? Were some of them there, did you really feel a, some people brought with them a sincerity to try to help out Japanese Americans where others might be a little like --

SK: It's just a job. Uh-huh.

RP: -- it's just a job kind of thing?

SK: Yeah. I didn't get to know most of them. But I know that Maki's administrator -- Maki was a recreation director and Dr. Powell was her administrator -- but he seemed so emotionally with us and wanting to do as much as he could to help, to help us out. I think my administrator, my supervisor, did her job. But I didn't get the feeling that she was there to make a difference. And I think it was an individual thing. I applaud the ones who were willing to leave their comfortable lives to go into the desert to help us out. But, of course, they were getting good money for that. So I really can't say.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.