Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Art Okuno Interview
Narrator: Art Okuno
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: September 1, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-oart-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

KP: Any particular stories you remember about being up in Yellowstone with the Scouts?

AO: A particular story... well, I could show you some pictures. [Laughs]

KP: We can look at those later. Did you do any other projects besides the bridge? Did you get involved in any other work projects in the park that you know of?

AO: No, that was about it. They took all the time to build the bridge. We had to build a center support and then bridge it with logs.

KP: So did you get to visit the, to be a park visitor? You said you did some hiking, did you get to go visit other sites and...

AO: Yeah. Like the Girl Scouts, they would hike to the nearest, I think it was the Paint Pot. It was close enough. Then we'd get on trucks and take a tour of the eight, the figure eight, the Yellowstone Park, so we went up north and down to Yellowstone Lake.

Off camera: Art, were there any other Boy Scouts working on that, or was it just the Boy Scouts from Heart Mountain?

AO: Yeah, it was, it was all Boy Scouts from Heart Mountain.

Off camera: So none of the boys from Cody went on that trip?

AO: No, not that I know, no.

Off camera: Did you have any sort of a guard, or was this after the war had ended?

AO: It was towards the end of the war, yeah. So no, there were no guards.

Off camera: No chaperone?

AO: Yeah, we had chaperones, adults.

Off camera: Japanese American chaperones?

AO: Yeah, right. Like the father that came to ask me about becoming a scoutmaster, he was there. And others.

KP: And the Girl Scouts were up there as well, you said?

AO: Yeah. Camp Fire Girls.

KP: How many, rough estimate of the number of scouts that were up there from Heart Mountain, do you have any idea all told?

AO: All told, gee, there were like twelve, fourteen, twenty... I would say like three hundred. They weren't all there at once. We sort of rotated.

KP: What do you think those experiences meant to the scouts, being up there in Yellowstone?

AO: Oh, they enjoyed it. Yeah, I'm pretty sure. That was a good experience.

Off camera: How did you know how to build a bridge? Did you have directions from the park staff or did you have a Boy Scout manual?

AO: There was one adult, or two adults that, they must've talked to the ranger, because they, we built this support right in the middle first with logs and then filled it with boulders. And then we laid down logs to the, both banks. Yeah.

KP: Heard a story a while ago about the Boy Scouts being involved in helping, at least, there was a big fire in Yellowstone and the Boy Scout troop was called in to help the firefighters' camp. Do you remember anything about that at all?

AO: No.

KP: Might've been, you weren't up there the whole time, were you, with your troop?

AO: Yeah, I was there most of the time. I was there when our troop went up and then I was there when the Girl Scouts were there, so it must've been, like, over a month, because they wanted me to stay behind and sort of supervise.

KP: You don't remember a big forest fire up there?

AO: No. I don't think there was a forest fire, as far as I know.

Off camera: With the scouts in, in the camp at Heart Mountain who were, what kind of merit badge program were you able to, did you have merit badges and advancements?

AO: Yeah. Well, we were mostly concentrated on the, the first three. I don't think we did very many merit badges, because we didn't have the facilities.

Off camera: Did you have support, like from the national Boy Scouts of America?

AO: Yes, we were officially in the Wyoming Council, Boy Scout Council. Yeah, they have a record of us.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.