Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Margaret Saito Interview
Narrator: Margaret Saito
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-smargaret_2-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

KP: And do you remember when it was time to leave? How did you know about that?

MS: I knew when it was time to leave. Well, I'm sure we were all told and we were anticipating it. But, and I really don't have any special thoughts, going to another state or... that didn't, it didn't worry me or... I don't know. I just really didn't think about it.

KP: And where did you relocate?

MS: We went to Spokane, Washington, which was a place I hadn't known about. But when we got there we went to school and those people, those Japanese Americans there had been there the whole time. So they had no idea what we had been through. So, it was a education. I have good friends in Spokane and I have been back -- when I was twenty-one I drove up there, I thought I probably won't be going there again -- so before longer I would just go and visit them and so I did. And one of those people has come to the Heart Mountain reunions. One of those classmates I kept contact with, she moved to Carson, California, and I was in contact with her even when I lived in San Bernardino. But now I'm not in contact with her anymore.

KP: Why Spokane, Washington?

MS: Oh, my mother's friend was living there and he worked for the railroad. So we moved to Spokane and we lived in this hotel there. It was the Bernard Hotel and the person who ran it was a family called Kondo. There was a daughter named Martha Kondo, she was older than me but they were the proprietors of that hotel. And there were other Japanese families living there. So during the whole time that we were in Spokane, we lived in that hotel. Now that I think of it, it's close to skid row and I'm just a kid and I'm not even thinking, next door is a pool hall. One of my friend's family ran that pool hall. And so I'm just a kid, I have not a care in the world. I just was fearless, I wasn't concerned about lots of things like they are today. [Laughs] I mean, you just worry about every little thing. There I was just a dummy. [Laughs] So anyway, it wasn't a bad time but it passed pretty quickly. In Spokane I was in a club.

KP: What kind of club?

MS: It was a girls club, like in eighth and ninth grades. And then I went to church, I went to school. I think I did work a little. I did go picking beans and things like that, in the summer to earn some money. And babysit.

KP: Who's this friend of your mother? Where did she meet him? Do you know anything?

MS: She met him in camp. She knew him from camp.

KP: Do you remember his name?

MS: Yeah, his name is Saichiro Kishi and he's older than her. And they did get married in Coeur d'Alene after we moved up there. So, and then, that's how we got to Sacramento. The job, the railroad came down to, or his job came to Sacramento.

KP: How many years were you in Spokane?

MS: We were there from '45 to '47? I was a sophomore when I came to Sacramento.

KP: Was there a Japanese town in Spokane?

MS: No, there wasn't. I had a friend whose mother and father were barbers and they were within walking distance, they were just right close by there. And they were there all the time. But anyway, there was no Japanese town.

KP: But there was a pretty good Japanese community there?

MS: There is. Some farmed. One of my best friends there had, they were farming there.

KP: What kind of schools you went to, so you went to junior high or high school?

MS: No, I never went to junior high. I went to a elementary school that went to eighth grade and then I went to Lewis and Clark High as a ninth grader. They didn't have junior highs, so that was my education. And I was in the Scouts 'til maybe the eighth grade. And then in high school I don't think I was in Scouts anymore.

KP: What kind of ethnic makeup from high school that were Japanese in it?

MS: Mostly Caucasian.

KP: Any other ethnicities?

MS: There was some Japanese Americans. I don't remember any Chinese. I don't remember any blacks.

KP: Mexicans?

MS: I don't remember Hispanics either. There might have been. Yeah, I can't think of any. There must have been blacks, I don't know.

KP: What kind of, did you make friends in high school?

MS: Yes, I did. That particular high school, you couldn't take French 'til you're a sophomore. So I took French from the sophomore year... French was one of my best subjects. English is better than most of the other classes but... I don't think I was outstanding at anything. [Laughs] Yeah, but anyway...

KP: Did you continue going to church?

MS: Yes, I was at that Grant Street Methodist Church and I still have church friends there.

KP: Were there any Japanese activities like New Year's and stuff that happened in Spokane?

MS: I don't, if there were, I wasn't part of it. I don't think, I know we didn't do anything. And I wasn't invited to anything. I don't recall any New Year's or shogatsu or anything there. That is... I hadn't thought about it but now that I do, there wasn't.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.