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

<Begin Segment 1>

KP: Today is...

MS: December 17, 2009. Right?

KP: Right. December 17, 2009. The day of the week is Thursday.

MS: Right.

KP: And we are at the Japanese Methodist Church in Sacramento on Franklin Street. And today we are interviewing Margaret Saito.

MS: Yes.

KP: And this will be archived at Manzanar National Historic Site, the interview. And the first thing I have to ask is do we have your permission to tape this interview?

MS: Yes.

KP: Okay, thank you very much. So let's start at the beginning.

MS: Okay.

KP: Can you once again tell us your name?

MS: Oh, Margaret Aiko Taguchi Saito.

KP: And when and where were you born?

MS: I was born in El Centro on March 14, 1933.

KP: And what were your parents' names?

MS: My father was George Juzo Taguchi and my mother was Helen Otome, her maiden name was Ishida Taguchi. And she was born in Kealakekua, Hawaii.

KP: So your mother was Nisei?

MS: Yes, both, my father was born in California.

KP: Where was he born?

MS: He was born, probably Monrovia, California.

KP: So it was your grandparents that came to the United States?

MS: Yes.

KP: So you are Sansei?

MS: I'm Sansei. I'm an old Sansei, yes.

KP: So do you know anything about where your father's family came from in Japan? What part of Japan?

MS: They were from the prefecture of Kumamoto. And my mother's side came from Fukuoka. Those are both on Kyushu. And I haven't been there but I have been to Japan twice.

KP: Do you know what your father's family did in Japan, what the background was?

MS: No, I don't. In California they have farmed all the time.

KP: When did your father's father, when did your grandfather come to the United States? Do you know?

MS: Oh, I don't know because he died when my father was about thirteen. So my father drove and did everything on the farm from a early age and he was the oldest son, he had an older sister, but he was the oldest son. So he did, he did go to high school and finish high school and I think he really enjoyed his high school years because he went to reunions forever. I mean, even when it was just a handful.

KP: And this was in Monrovia?

MS: Yes, that school was... I don't think they have it anymore, but it was Monrovia Arcadia Duarte. Those three towns that are close to each other and they would call it MAD. But I know it's not there, but I think that's where he met my mother. She came from... her brother brought her from Hawaii. I really don't know enough about her family or my father's family.

KP: So your father was farming in Monrovia?

MS: Yes.

KP: And your mother's family was --

MS: They worked coffee in Kona. That's where the Kona coffee comes from. So they, I have an old picture of her with her parents. That's the only picture I have of those parents and it's by coffee trees. So... and they still have that land. My cousin is working that land. She's a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant but on her off time she goes back to Kona and works that land. Because it's in the family, so she's the youngest of that family.

KP: So the family is still growing coffee?

MS: She is, yes.

KP: So, do you have brothers and sisters?

MS: Yeah, I have... my sister is the only child with my mother. My father and mother divorced during, when we were in camp. And then after the war he married a Florence Yamamura and they have three children. They all live in that same area where my father lived before the war. Two are in Hacienda Heights and one in Covina. And so we're still close to them, and we get together, we've had reunions. We had a reunion in Las Vegas last New Year's. Well, this, it was just 2009 New Year's. And then we've had a reunion in Maui where their families and our families got together. So it's been very nice.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KP: So when did your father move from Monrovia to El Centro?

MS: Oh, probably... they got married maybe 1932. And then, well, I guess that's when he was on his own. I'm really not sure because... yeah, I really don't know. But I know I was a baby in El Centro and I do remember family friends even though I was little. We stayed there -- I don't know, we were in La Puente when my sister -- we were both born in El Centro but when we were young we moved to La Puente. And that was closer to where his family, the rest of his family were.

KP: What is your sister's name?

MS: Frances, and it's Frances Misao Lee.

KP: And where was she? She was born in El Centro?

MS: Yes.

KP: What year?

MS: She was born in 1934. So she just had her 75th birthday.

KP: So what do you remember about El Centro? What was your father doing?

MS: He was farming. And there were other Japanese families farming there, too. The only family that I know from the early days was the Kitamura family. And then they eventually went back to Monrovia, too. And I haven't kept in touch but some of them are still there. I know that son took me deep sea fishing one time, off of San Pedro. I just got -- my cousin Helen and I, the one in the picture -- we went deep sea fishing and I got so sick. So I was about maybe fifteen or something like that. But I'll never forget how seasickness is or could be. It was just awful. But it was nice that he even took us but...

KP: Do you remember anything about El Centro? You were pretty young.

MS: I was young. I think it just... it was hot and that's about... and it wasn't very... I don't remember lots of trees and things like that. It just seemed dry and hot. That's about it.

KP: I think that's pretty accurate memory.

MS: Okay, yeah. It probably still is but it has grown a lot because my niece did, when she started with the Department of Youth Authority she started there at El Centro, so she knows how it is.

KP: So then your family moved to...

MS: La Puente. And that's where we were until we were interned.

KP: What do you remember? What's your earliest memories of La Puente?

MS: Well, I remember going, my father enrolled me in first grade when I was five. I should have gone to kindergarten but I don't know. I was in first grade. And I was in the segregated school in La Puente. It was for Mexicans. I don't remember any African Amer... I don't think there were any African Americans in La Puente but there were lots of Mexicans.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KP: So what language did you speak in the house when you grew up?

MS: We always spoke English.

KP: Do you ever... any Japanese at all?

MS: Very rarely. I do know words and I could understand if people are speaking but it really wasn't our first language. Because I know my, I know my mother could read and write Japanese because she has been in... she was in Japan when she was a teenager. So I know she could read and write and her parents, they probably spoke pidgin English in Hawaii but since having never met them I wouldn't even know what that life was like.


KP: So you grew up speaking English?

MS: Yes.

KP: And what about, was there any... did your family celebrate any of the Japanese holidays?

MS: Yes. We did celebrate New Year's and I know at my grandmother's house they did the pounding of the rice, the shogatsu, the traditional. I do remember that. She was the one who put the water in and there were two men pounding it. She would put the water... so I could recall that. And I do know that it's a time of celebration and of feasting. We didn't really keep that tradition up as much as some other families of another generation. 'Cause most of my friends are Nisei or in high school, so theirs was a little bit different than my life.

KP: Any other Japanese holidays besides New Year's that you remember?

MS: Well, I know we didn't celebrate Girl's Day or Boy's Day. I do know about them and I've just learned about -- I'm in a doll class -- so, but I've known about Girl's Day and Boy's Day from a long time ago but I don't recall celebrating either. And we didn't have any boys so we wouldn't celebrate Boy's Day. But we didn't have dolls to display or anything like that.

KP: Some people went to prefecture picnics. Did you --

MS: Oh yes, we did, too. We went to those Kumamoto picnics and so I do remember that. Even when I was a mother and went to them I took my children. Lisa might have been one and Stephen might have been two. So I've taken them to those picnics. And this is, well, we're just really going ahead but when I got married and had children I lived San Bernardino and my father was in Hacienda Heights so we would go there on weekends and holidays. So then when there were picnics we went, too. My daughter wouldn't remember but I know some of those parents, they marveled that my daughter was walking and just really a busy person because they had children the same age who weren't. So even later in life, I've heard about those people.

KP: When you were young you -- I'm trying to understand -- as you were young you were aware that there was a connection with your family with Japan?

MS: Yes, yes. We do know we are Kumamoto. And since then I've learned that those people are kind of a party loving people. You know, hey, I follow that because I just like to enjoy, too. I think I get it naturally from my grandmother. [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KP: Your grade school you say was a --

MS: It was segregated. But the next year I went to the white school which was Hudson school.

KP: But in the segregated school English was spoken, of course.

MS: Yes.

KP: But I'm sure a lot of the kids were also speaking Spanish?

MS: Yeah. I don't remember anything about those children. I think my teacher was Mrs. Murphy and I think she was red headed but that's about all I remember. I don't remember those children. I do know they were Mexican but I don't know a single name or anything from that. And even in Hudson school I really don't remember people either. Because I left at the fourth grade. I do know I played clarinet in the fourth grade. And, but I don't remember schoolmates or anything like that.

KP: Do you remember what the difference was between the two schools? Did you like one better than the other?

MS: No, no, I can't even distinguish. It's kind of a blur. Yeah, and we never had children come to the house to play or I never went someplace to play at somebody else's house. So I don't recall anybody special.

KP: Sounds like your life was focused more on your family?

MS: It was, yeah.

KP: What kind of, if you look back as a child at your father, what kind of a father was he? What do you remember about him?

MS: Oh, well, he had a good sense of humor and I think both my sister and I get that from him because that's the way he was. And I think he had a sense of fairness that I think that I feel I have, too. And I don't know if they were stern or I don't know if I got into trouble. I'm sure I did but I don't remember things like that.

KP: What about your mother? What do you remember about her?

MS: Oh, well, I think she was not from a nurturing family. And so I don't feel a real sense of nurture from her either. So I just wonder how I even... I just don't... I know she cared for us and then when she just had my sister and me to look after, I know things were hard for her. But, yeah, I know she was responsible and did for us as much as she could.

KP: So your father worked the farm? What kind of farming was he doing?

MS: Well, when, well, at different times... I don't know what he farmed before the war. After the war I know there was strawberries because there was a stand at my grandmother's house. Because they lived in a -- when I went to visit them after the war the first time, they were in Temple City. And this was a house behind the house that my grandmother lived in. And he was remarried and my brother was about one and a half. I do remember strawberries, later he farmed cabbage and I don't know, maybe cauliflower, onions, things like that.

KP: Do you know if your dad owned his land?

MS: I think he leased it in Hacienda Heights. In Temple City, I think that was my grandmother's land. Yeah, I'm pretty sure. But, yeah, I don't know if he... he should have been able to own land but I don't know if he did. Not like when we were in La Puente, I don't think so.

KP: What kind of... did your dad farmed and did he take the stuff to market?

MS: Yes. I've gone to market with him. To that produce area in Los Angeles. So I do, and my sister has gone too so we both know what that's like.

KP: What was that like?

MS: Oh, well, for a child, well, it's just many people bringing produce and unloading it. And I know that he liked to go to Philippe's in Los Angeles, the restaurant that's on Alameda. So to this day we like to go to Philippe's and get those French dip sandwiches. It's just really a fun place so even now we still do it. On trips when we go together we'll stop there, so that's really a fun thing.

KP: So before the war in La Puente?

MS: La Puente, which means "bridge." You know in those days, it was just called Puente. And then now, I don't know when they put the La, but it should have always been there.

KP: In those days was there a Japanese community in that town?

MS: Not really, there were some families but not really. There were more in El Monte, Monrovia, Baldwin Park, those kind of towns.

KP: Where did you got to have your picnic, your prefecture picnic?

MS: It was, I'm not sure what town it was in, but it was a park that's west of La Puente. It could've been... I don't know.

KP: And you said for New Year's you went to families?

MS: Yeah, probably to my grandmother's. I think that's probably the place that I would remember.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KP: What other stories come up before the war? Do you remember?

MS: Oh, before the war, well, we did get together with my, with my cousins, my father's sister's family. Well, let's see. And his brother, he has, he had one sister that passed away when she was child... baby probably. And then the older sister who was in insurance and had the business in Los Angeles, they were very prominent in Little Tokyo. And then he had a younger sister Mary, but see, Mary, she got married like in 19... maybe 40. My sister and I and my cousin Helen were in that wedding. So it's those kinds of things that was before the war.

KP: What do you remember about that wedding?

MS: Oh, well, we were flower girls and we have these pictures of us in these flower girl and we had our hair done. And it was just a fun time, the reception was at, in Little Tokyo at a place called... I don't recall. It's still there but I don't think it's open.

KP: So was it a Japanese type --

MS: It was a... this was a Chinese restaurant. You know in those days we would go to Chinese restaurants and we would say, "China meshi" and that's like eating Chinese food and that's what lots of receptions were, Chinese food. I don't know why that it's like that but that's how that was. And another time before the war I have... oh, I have this long picture -- in those days they had these parades, these processions, and my sister and I wore this headdress and we had these dots painted on us. It was ochigo and it's a... we had these Japanese kimonos on. Oh, I wish I brought that picture. We do have even a picture of us two with these outfits on. And it's traditionally Buddhist. My father's family is Buddhist, and my mother's family was Buddhist also. But we went to a Christian Sunday school.

KP: While you were growing up?

MS: This is before, yeah, before the war, somebody came to pick us up, my sister and I were talking the other day because in my testimony for the church we did a little booklet. I said, "I have no idea, I think it's just happenstance," but I said to my sister, I think somebody approached my mother and said, "Would your children come to Sunday school? We'll come after them and bring them home." And that's what we did. And this is now called the Sage Memorial Methodist church in El Monte. And the retired pastor here went to... was the pastor at that church so this was Reverend Yokoi who was our pastor then and I have a bible that says "For perfect attendance during the year 1940." And so I've kept that bible, it's a King James. And so I've had that bible all this time and I've gone to Christian --

KP: Did you take that bible to camp with you? Or was it stored?

MS: I don't know. I don't think I took it with me because you know we could only take -- and probably I didn't carry anything probably -- but I have this old bible and I'll just keep it because it's kind of precious. And so I do remember going to Sunday school before the war.

KP: Did you like going to Sunday school?

MS: Yeah, I did. But see, you know, but I can't tell you why because I don't remember but it was a place that we went to on Sunday and even in camp I went to Sunday school, and even after camp. So there's been many connections. After camp we went to Spokane and we went to the Grant Street Methodist Church. And the pastor there was Reverend Goto, his son and his family are here, here at our church. And it was his father who was the pastor there. So a lot of connections that, like this in my life because when we were in Pomona, this young fellow, he might have been eighteen and you know I didn't know him from anybody but that was Harry Murakami who said, "He's going to school in..." I thought he said Wooten... but when I looked it up I don't think there's any place called Wooten... "but he was going to be a minister." And then later he came to Sacramento he became the minister at this church and he was the one who baptized me. See, these non coincidences, that's just how it's been for me.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KP: So did you like going to grammar school? How was school?

MS: I did like school. I don't recall anything bad about school.

KP: What do you remember liking? What subjects did you like the best?

MS: Oh, I really don't... yeah, I don't have a favorite subject.

KP: Were there other Japanese children in grammar school with you at Hudson?

MS: No, I don't recall anybody. Yeah, nobody.

KP: Did you have any good friends in school?

MS: No, not at Hudson school at all. I don't recall a single name. So it doesn't, doesn't show that much interest in anybody.

KP: You mentioned that your mother got her sewing machine from the Pomona fair? What was, when did, what was it like going to the fair?

MS: Oh, that was a lot of fun. It's something like going to the state fair here. But it was, we would see all those commercial things in the buildings, like my sister and I like to go see what's the latest stuff that they're pushing. And, but it was just, just a fun time where there were lots of people and you just saw all these different things.

KP: What were the most impressive things you remember? Do you remember anything from that?

MS: No, I don't remember anything special. It was just a good experience. I don't... no, I just... there wasn't anything set in my mind.

KP: So they brought in a lot of products that --

MS: Yes.

KP: So it's kind like a big store?

MS: Yeah, it was, yeah. 'Cause I don't remember shopping when I was little or doing anything like that. And even when I'm thinking about camp I'm thinking, I don't think I had any money, there was no place to go spend money. So, you know, I don't have a real good sense of money.

KP: So your mother bought her sewing machine? You remember that?

MS: Yeah, I do. Yeah, and she did sew our clothes, she made a suit for my father that even after the war my stepmother said those pants were the best fitting pants he ever had. So I know that she really knew her stuff.

KP: And you said that she studied?

MS: Yeah, she did.

KP: When was that?

MS: This is, well, it must be, I don't know if it was before she got married or what. But I think it was in Los Angeles. And so I know she knew the craft. And both my sister and I sewed at a early age, too. So we get that from her.

KP: Did your father have any crafts that he did? Or was he too busy with the farm?

MS: I think he had no hobbies. So that's sad. I think he worked all his life and he liked being independent because he did work for other people during the war. I know when he left the camp and went to work he worked for somebody. And I know he worked at Cuneo press in Chicago. And so, but he always, when he could, he became his own... I mean, when he farmed he was his own. So I think, I think that's what he really enjoyed.

KP: So how long would it take to get to Los Angeles from La Puente?

MS: From here? Oh, from La Puente?

KP: Back in that day?

MS: Oh, back in that day? I have no idea. I have no concept of time in that time. Yeah, I just don't know.

KP: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KP: Do you remember December 7, 1941?

MS: I kinda do. I think, I know we had a radio and I'm not sure if we heard it on the radio or what. And it didn't affect me in any way. Yeah, I can't even... it meant nothing to me.

KP: You kept going to school?

MS: Yeah, I kept, nothing changed for me.

KP: Did you see any change in your parents at all?

MS: No. No, I didn't. If there was, I didn't notice it 'til... yeah, I don't know if they thought about it.

KP: Do you remember still doing the activities like going to New Year's in '41?

MS: Yeah, I think nothing changed for us. Yeah.

KP: Things eventually started to change. What do you remember about that?

MS: Yes. Well, I remember somebody came and lived with us. A Chinese man, and I remember his name was Leon Fook. And I don't know why he came, I think we had, I don't know, it wasn't in our house but I think there might have been something in the back but yeah, I remember the name and I remember the man but I have no idea why he came.

KP: And then you said that you weren't allowed to have certain things?

MS: Well, when it was close to the time that we were to move, we weren't supposed to, I do remember there was a burning of papers and things like that. Maybe, I don't know, books. I'm not sure but different things like that that we weren't supposed to have. I have no idea why, even.

KP: But you remember your parents burning things?

MS: Yeah. I do remember there was a bonfire or something like that.

KP: What other type of things were you not allowed to have?

MS: Well, I think we weren't supposed to have cameras. I don't know about radios, maybe things like that.

KP: But personally you don't remember much about --

MS: No, I don't. It didn't affect me. I mean, I didn't feel affected.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KP: When do you recall learning, or when you became aware that you were going to have to leave your home and go someplace else?

MS: I don't recall. I don't know how close to the time it was.

KP: And where did your family go first?

MS: First, we went to Pomona Assembly Center.

KP: And you'd been there before?

MS: Yes, as a county fair. And so it wasn't that far I'm sure but it was a different setting because we were in those horse stalls and I do remember the stuffing the mattress with straw for our beds and things like that. And the walls were, well, the walls were thin, I mean it was just, it wasn't really anything. Not like a real enclosure but that's how it was. And there were many people. So, yeah, many people like us.

KP: So your previous experience have been kind of remembering a fun time? How did this compare?

MS: Yeah, and the only time we would see many people like us would be at those picnics or something like that. So it was different.

KP: What else do you remember about Pomona?

MS: I think we had those outdoor movies that we would just lie on the grass or whatever it was. But I think they had movies, so it was like the drive-in movie but you're just out there. And it's warm because it's summertime so it wasn't... I do remember movies. And I do remember we had a friend that later, her name was Jodell Yokoi. And later a family member became a relative of my sister, a brother-in-law of my sister's husband. So, and they lived, they were from Chino. See, and now my son lives in Chino Hills, where they never had a Chino Hills before but now they developed this Chino Hills by Chino. She was younger than us and we thought her parents were so sophisticated. Her mother smoked and my, what a grand, you know, to think, and she was a only child and she just hung out with us but, you know, it's funny things like that you remember? And well, now we hear about her and she's a mother and I mean, you know, she's just like everybody else. She grew up, too. But that was in Pomona and we never saw her after that, in Heart Mountain or any place. We don't know what happened to people.

KP: Did you, before you left to Pomona, do you remember putting things, trying to store things, trying to --

MS: No. Oh before? Yeah, we put things in the garage. Like the sewing machine and I don't what else we had that was of any value. But that's where it was stored.

KP: The garage at the house?

MS: Yeah, of the house.

KP: And you said you didn't remember what you actually took? Your mother probably packed for you?

MS: Yeah, I don't, I have no idea.

KP: So any other memories of Pomona? Anything stand out?

MS: Other than meeting Harry Murakami, and you know, I just remember the look on his face, that he's going to college and it was, I could just remember that so well. But that's about it.

KP: So even while he was in a assembly center he still had these aspirations?

MS: Yes, uh-huh. He did come back to this church and he was, oh, so we did go to see him, but he's retired and he's living in Southern California now. But I don't know, that just stays with me that he was just so joyful, just can't over that.

KP: Do you remember anything about the food at Pomona?

MS: No, nothing. I don't know what we ate. I don't know where we ate. I have no idea what we did there. It was summertime so I know there was no school. So all we did was play.

KP: And your parents, do you --

MS: I don't know what they did either.

KP: Do you remember any of the fences or guard towers at all?

MS: I don't think there was anything at Pomona. I don't think they changed it that much. It was just a temporary place so I don't think they did anything special.

KP: But you couldn't leave?

MS: Yeah, that's right, we couldn't leave. And I don't remember anybody visiting us but I do remember people seeing other people visit. But I don't remember anything like that.

KP: So when you, when did you, do you remember becoming aware that you were going to leave Pomona and go someplace else?

MS: I don't remember when we knew that. And I don't know if I was even affected. I mean, I just don't have a thought about it. I do remember the train ride, yeah, and they told us to keep the shades down. [Laughs] And then they would say things like, "Oh, we're going by Denver or the Great Salt Lake," and you know, things like that but that's about it. And we had never been on a train.

KP: What was that like?

MS: Well, I don't recall much about it. I do remember that it's noisy and you could hear the wheels on the tracks and things like that. And I had no idea where Wyoming was, well except on the map, but that it was such a different climate and different, it was a deserty kind of place. I didn't know all this until I got there.

KP: What did you do on the train ride? Do you remember doing anything?

MS: I don't remember doing anything special. Yeah, I don't know. I'm sure I was restless but I can't think of anything. I don't know if I read or did anything like that.

KP: Did the train ever stop and you guys get off the train? Do you remember?

MS: I don't recall getting off at all. I don't know how many days it took but we were just in these seats and that was it.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KP: So when you arrived in Wyoming, what did you expect?

MS: Oh, well, I didn't expect anything but I was just, it was like just, it was really in the middle of no place. It was just empty, just desert, and I think it was about September maybe, or August or September. But it was barren, I can remember sagebrush, things like that but there was nothing. And I don't know how we got to the camp but they probably trucked us but I don't remember getting on the truck or getting off, things like that, yeah.

KP: How was Heart Mountain different from Pomona?

MS: Oh, well, Pomona everything was close I think, because it was small and it was a small... well, people from other assembly centers all went to Heart Mountain so it was big. It was much grander than the assembly center. And there were no trees, nothing, just barracks, mess halls and there was just...

KP: What did you do when you got there?

MS: Well, I don't know what we did. I'm sure we... well, I don't know... I'm sure there were cops and things like that so I'm sure we tried to get the beds set and things like that. But I don't know where we put things because there's nothing in that barrack except a pot belly stove and there are windows but there's nothing else.

KP: What did you think about being out in the middle of the desert like that?

MS: Well, I don't think I had a thought. Yeah, I'm sure I just don't recall.

KP: Did your dad work while he was in camp?

MS: He worked in the... I don't know how they determined what they were going to do... well, I'm sure doctors did what they did but other people 'cause there was no farming. But he worked in the mess hall and at the beginning my mother didn't work. But he did work in the mess hall. And he's told us this so we know this.

KP: What were the mess halls like? Do you remember that at all?

MS: Well, there were just tables and benches and it was, I don't think we were used to a cafeteria style of anything. You lined up, every place you lined up, I think.

KP: And did you go with your mom and your sister?

MS: Probably, probably in the beginning. I don't know though. I think, and I've heard other people say this was the breakdown of the family because you did make friends of all these people that looked like you. And so sometimes you would sit with your friends and things like that. I think in the beginning we were in that Block 17. So we probably did follow our parents and do... but if my father was working in the mess hall he wasn't with us when we were going to meal.

KP: Do you remember your block number? You were 17. Do you remember your barracks and --

MS: It was 17-10, it was the middle barrack, it was either C or D. I think it was D, yeah. Well, in that block our neighbors were the Okamotos. And then they eventually came to Tule Lake.

KP: Did you know the Okamotos from before?

MS: No, not from before. But they were from southern California and Jimmy Okamoto, he was kind of in the middle of the, they had many boys. But he was in the middle, he was the one that was shot by a guard at Tule Lake. There was a movie From a (Silk) Cocoon, it was made by somebody here, Satsuki Ina, she's the filmmaker. I saw it again this year at a film festival and I talked to her and I said, "I remember Jimmy Okamoto," because in that film it shows the headlines of that paper of Tule Lake. And it's barely mentioned in any of the books about camp but I do recall it and we learned about it, well, in Heart Mountain that he was killed. And I think that's so sad. He was just a gentle person and I don't know what the circumstance was but what a loss... I mean, waste.

KP: So school started in Heart Mountain for you?

MS: Yes. I was in fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade.

KP: What was it like going to school?

MS: I don't recall too many things in school in Heart Mountain. I don't recall anything in the fifth grade. The sixth grade I had Mr. Jennings who used crutches. He had a broken leg and I don't know if it ever healed. But the only thing I remember is a incident where after I came back from the restroom he shook me and that really surprised me.

KP: Why did he do that?

MS: Well, he said I didn't ask for permission to go to the restroom. And I said I did but anyway so that's the only incident. I do recall people in the class that I may have... well, they were later in my seventh grade class. But not much else like what did I learn, I don't recall what I learned.

KP: You were playing the clarinet in the fourth grade?

MS: Yeah, but I no longer played anything after that. Yeah, so that was the short...

KP: Were you involved in any sports in school?

MS: No, I wasn't. So they were uneventful years. Seventh grade, I still see people, even in Sacramento, there is somebody in my seventh grade. And he goes to the reunions, too. So we just talk about that. And then there was somebody in my maybe sixth grade or fifth grade that I later knew at Berkeley. She was a roommate at Berkeley. So people have come up later in life but not that many, except at these reunions.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KP: Did you see any change in your parents from the farm to Pomona to Heart Mountain? Did you notice anything going on?

MS: No. I must be unconscious because I didn't. [Laughs]

KP: Your father left camp?

MS: Yeah, he left camp. Pretty early on when they were allowed to go inland he did. And then he worked in Colorado at first, I think. And then other places but --

KP: Do you know what kind of work he did?

MS: Farming. Yeah, he did farming, most of the time, except the time in Chicago where he working for a press. And he did send us those pulp books to us. So, but that...

KP: Was there communication with your father while he was gone? Did he write letters?

MS: I don't remember any. He may have but I don't know. And I don't remember writing either. Except my cousins left about the same time. They went to Salt Lake City, and I do remember writing to my cousin, my cousin, Helen. And yeah, I don't... there wasn't that much letter writing.

KP: Kind of interesting because I know that eventually your parents divorced. But a lot of men who left would get a job set up and then send for their families. Why do you think your father didn't do that? Do you have any idea?

MS: Oh, I don't know. Yeah, I have no idea. I wished we could talk about it, but there's a lot we don't know.

KP: So when did your parents get divorced?

MS: Well, I think I was eleven and my sister was ten. That would be like 1944, something like that.

KP: And it was both your parents kind of chose to do that? How did that work?

MS: Yeah, my mother said that during that week they both filed within that week. She went to Powell, Wyoming. I don't know where my father filed. But she did leave the camp to do that. So it was something mutual.

KP: Also, something unusual wasn't it?

MS: Yeah, it was unusual. But yeah, we didn't know about anybody, any families being divorced. I'm sure it was the talk of whatever but since I was too young it doesn't bother me. But it was unusual. But since then I've learned of another divorce in our church, the parents of somebody. From one of those testimonies, so I thought that was way before our parents but still.

KP: [Sneezes] Excuse me. Your dad did come back to visit the camp, correct?

MS: Yeah, he did.

KP: When was that?

MS: I don't know.

KP: It was before they were divorced?

MS: Yeah, I think it was before they were divorced. He brought the bicycles. And yeah, that's the last time we saw him when we were in camp. And I don't know when that was. I can't even put the correct time frame.

KP: What was that like, seeing your dad again?

MS: Well, it was fine. I don't recall anything special other than he brought the bicycles and that was really unusual. Yeah, that was really a curiosity. I just... so different.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KP: So tell us about the bikes.

MS: Oh, well, they were big but we just did the best... I don't even know what happened to the bicycles after but we just had a good old time riding 'em, yeah. I just don't know because before that we never, we didn't know how to ride a bike or anything. So it's really something.

KP: Did it make you popular in the block?

MS: Probably, yeah, probably. We had these older friends and you know it was just kind of fun. It was, I don't know, it was different.

KP: So did you share the bikes with your friends?

MS: Yes. And they, and at the reunions they remind us that we just let them just use them. So that first camp reunion we went to in San Jose where we saw the most people from our block, we all talked about that, it was just so much fun.

KP: So when did you get involved with the drill team in school?

MS: Oh, this was early on because my cousin left early. So this is before Scouts or anything. I don't know. On the back of the original picture it might say what year it was. But that was early because she never was in Scouts or anything.

KP: What did you do in drill team?

MS: Oh, well, we marched and we had these pompoms. So that's all I remember, we marched and had pompoms. And look at all of us in that white, and there were older kids. I was one of the younger ones.

KP: So do you have the uniform?

MS: No, it was just all white. White top and white, I don't know if it was a skirt or what, but it was just all white. It wasn't a uniform. We didn't have uniforms.

KP: Where did you get the white clothes from? Is it something your mother ordered?

MS: Maybe, we did use the mail order catalogs in camp. That's the first time I recall any mail order. It was either Sears or Aldens. I don't know if there was Spiegel then but Aldens was out of Chicago. I don't know where Sears came from.

KP: Do you remember anything special that you ordered or wanted to order?

MS: Probably, ice skates. And it was just those hockey skates. And I don't know if we got warm clothing or something like, we must have, but I don't remember the ordering.

KP: So what were the winters like, for a kid from southern California?

MS: Oh, it was so cold. And I've been through sand blizzards, snow blizzards in Heart Mountain. Oh, it really got very windy sometimes. I was just kind of a kid that just... I could just go by myself places with no fear, but everything always turned out okay... that was my nature. I would just do things like that.

KP: Was that the first time you saw snow in your life?

MS: Yes.

KP: What did you think of that?

MS: Oh, we loved that. They froze those open areas and we ice skated. It was a good time.

KP: Were you a good skater?

MS: Probably not, yeah, just managed. And then I skated later in Washington in open ponds and things like that, too, and indoor rinks here in Sacramento. So I did like skating. Even when my children were growing up we'd go to the skating parties and skate too.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KP: All right, this is tape two of a continuing interview with Margaret Saito and we were talking about skating.

MS: Yes.

KP: And ordering from the catalog. Do you remember anything else that you ordered from the catalog?

MS: No, nothing specific. Clothing I'm sure but I don't recall any special thing.

KP: So where was your, where was your block inside the camp? Were you on the outside, on the inside?

MS: After my cousins left camp, we went to Block 12. That was the outer block facing Heart Mountain. So it was right there every morning, out the window, that was Heart Mountain. That was a bigger area than the Block 17. They were next to each other but this was a bigger area because my cousin's family was larger. And so they had that unit. So that's where we moved and then stayed 'til the end of camp.

KP: You said you were also involved in the Girl Scouts?

MS: Yes.

KP: Tell us about that.

MS: Oh, I was in the Girl Scout troupe, I think it was fourteen, and Aya Nishimura was our leader. And it was mostly people my age, maybe a year older, and those people are still around and come to the reunions. So we take Girl Scout pictures of all the Girl Scouts at Heart Mountain, there were many troupes. We take those pictures and it's nice we're still able too.

KP: What kind of things did you do?

MS: Oh, I remember two summers we camped in Yellowstone. Those were really fun times. And one of those Girl Scout members, she reminded me that during one of times one of the girls was in the outhouse and there was a bear so they couldn't come out. [Laughs] So they were trying to get help, get the bear away. It's things like that, and I remember the wild strawberries that were growing by the building that we stayed in. It was beautiful. I couldn't, you couldn't ask for a nicer place to camp. It was really a nice memory.

KP: I know some of the boys who went up there did projects that they worked on. Did you work on projects?

MS: No, no projects. I don't remember doing any good for anybody. You know, like repairing. I don't recall anything like that.

KP: Did you hike?

MS: Yeah, I did hike. We hiked. And then we earned badges and things like that.

KP: Have you ever hiked before you went Yellowstone?

MS: No.

KP: What was that like?

MS: Oh, well, it was fun. I mean ,you're young, gosh, you have energy to do all these things and gosh that must have been a different Yellowstone. It was really... it's changed a lot. I have been there since then.

KP: At that time, did you go to any ranger activities? Were there any park rangers that took you around?

MS: There must have been park rangers but I don't recall anything like a fireside thing. No, I don't recall anything like that. And we may have done something in our own but I don't recall that. And I don't recall what we ate or anything like that.

KP: But you remember the bear?

MS: Yes, the bear and the wild strawberries. That is was just kind of a fun thing that we did.

KP: What did you do in camp as a Girl Scout?

MS: Well, we earned badges but I'm just wondering... there must have been crafts and things like that. I know there was a basket badge, different kinds of badges. But I don't know the different things that I did to earn them.

KP: Where did your scout uniform come from?

MS: My mother made it. She made lots of things. I don't know how she did it but she did.

KP: Did she work at Heart Mountain?

MS: In Block 12, she worked in the mess hall there. She did the special foods for diabetics or special need kind of things. But, so I think at that time, my sister and I, we just went to the mess hall on our own. And so I don't recall things like sitting with anybody special or with a family or with friends or what. That whole mess hall thing, things I remember that I don't like are canned spinach, things that they would give us over and over and apple butter, over and over, we never had apple butter before that. And there were lots of canned things that probably to this day I won't eat. And they had things like rutabaga and things that we never heard of. But that's how it was. I don't know, some was good and some wasn't. I know they did have holiday times. Like at Christmas, they would have a tree. I don't know where they got it from. It would be at the mess hall that they would... people sent gifts from like Darby, Pennsylvania. I think the Quakers and some other groups, kind people, did send gifts to us. So I do recall getting things and even writing and having pen pals. I do remember somebody was from was Upper Darby Pennsylvania... and writing. But I've lost all contact with everybody like that. It was just kind of fun.

KP: What was your favorite food in the mess hall? Do you remember? Something you looked forward to?

MS: I don't think I had a favorite. [Laughs] I don't remember anything that was a favorite.

KP: You had a camera in camp and took pictures. Whose camera was that?

MS: No, I don't know whose camera it was. I don't know why I have these pictures. I'm just lucky to have pictures. Somehow people gave me pictures. I think the Kishimotos gave me pictures, and some of these people that are in the pictures but I don't know. It's just a mystery to me.

KP: So you had, aside from your immediate family, you had an aunt and cousins in the --

MS: Yes.

KP: How many, who were they?

MS: My aunt Mary lived in Block 12 and she's the one that we were in the wedding. So she and her husband had a baby boy in camp, his name was Douglas. I have seen Douglas since then. He lives in Santa Clara now. And they left camp early, too. They're the ones that went to Cleveland, Ohio, and then other aunt and uncle went to Salt Lake City. The youngest brother, my father's youngest brother, Frank, he left camp early and went to Colorado with his mother, my grandmother. And so they farmed. And so it was just my mother and my sister and I left of that Taguchis in camp. Everybody else was out.

KP: So you spent the rest of the war in camp?

MS: Yes.

KP: Anything else comes up from that time in camp? Do you remember any of the protests or draft?

MS: No, I don't remember any of that. I've learned all that since. One of my girlfriend's brother was one of those "no-no boys" and we see him at these reunions. She never comes. She's my age and then her sister is my sister's age. They were in the same block as we were but we see the brother come every time and we always speak to him and ask him about his sisters but anyway we're just happy to know him. And that he was one that stood up. Because I know they were just really castigated for a long time. So we're proud that some had the guts to do that.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KP: Anything else stands out, your memory about your time at Heart Mountain?

MS: Well, I remember the time that somebody in our block drowned. His name was Toru Shibata. And is his brother here, lives in Sacramento? There are Shibatas here in Sacramento. It's either his brother or his cousin that we know. But there was a swimming hole in Heart Mountain and he drowned. That was a pretty big deal in the camp newspaper.

KP: How old was he when he drowned?

MS: I don't know if he was a teenager, but young. So that stands out as something.

KP: And he drowned in a swimming hole?

MS: Yeah, in the swimming hole. So I think lots of people remember that.

KP: Richard, did you have any questions before we leave the camp?

RP: Yes, Margaret, when you were part of the drill team, did you perform these activities for any athletic events, like football games? You weren't like cheerleaders, were you?

MS: No, we weren't cheerleaders. I don't think we performed at any athletic events.

RP: How about --

MS: I don't know. I don't know why we had a drill team. It's just a mystery. I don't know, but here I am in that drill team. I don't know what the reason, or how it came to be or anything.

RP: Did you have batons, too, that you --

MS: No, no batons, just those pompoms. That was it.

RP: Do you also recall a very special visitor to Heart Mountain, his name was --

MS: Ben Kuroki, yes, yes. Last year we had the film of Ben Kuroki, the Most Honorable Son. So we showed that at our film festival.

KP: Could you tell us who Ben is and what you remember about that?

MS: Well, he's a person from Nebraska, he never was in camp. And he was fortunate enough to be in the army air corps I think. By fluke, I think, because they didn't want any foreigners in there. So, but he did fly in bombing missions. It said how many in this film. And he did come to camp. Although some people were proud of him, some weren't. Because he wasn't even, when you think about it, he has nothing to do with camp. But they considered him a hero.

RP: Do you remember his visit?

MS: I do remember. I do remember reading in the Sentinel? That he was coming, so his name was familiar to me. It wasn't like I didn't know about him.

RP: Did you actually see him in camp?

MS: I'm not sure if I actually saw him. I don't think I went there.

RP: You didn't attend any activities?

MS: No, I don't think it was anything for me, that made me feel like have to be there.

RP: But there was mixed reviews?

MS: Yes, there were. The other thing I remember is that time that we went with a wagon of empty glass bottles to get water from the Shoshone River.

KP: Why did you do that?

MS: We had a neighbor, Mr. Ogawa, and his wife was Caucasian and she was really a tall woman. And they would go get water from the -- you know these people are from before our time, these people knew something. But, so we remember going with them, my sister and I and Mr. and Mrs. Ogawa to get water. Imagine that, it was just beautiful, this isn't deep, it's where rocks... it's just beautiful.

KP: They didn't want to drink the water in the camp?

MS: I don't know. I don't know why they... I don't think they did that all the time but I do remember that one time that we went and it was all these glass bottles in a wagon that I don't know where he got from. But just a plain old wagon and that was really lovely.

RP: Do you recall other Caucasians in the camp?

MS: Yes, I remember Estelle Ishigo. Because she was blond and she was drawing and I bought that book, and I can't find that book, of her drawings. But I remember her well.

KP: Did you watch her draw?

MS: I don't know if I watched her draw. And then we had that movie, Days of Waiting where Bacon, and some others found her. And so that's a beautiful story. I remember her.

RP: Can you tell anything more about Mrs. Ogawa?

MS: Other than that she was tall in stature, and she was pretty big, too, not fat but pretty big, and they had no children. I don't know where they were from before camp, after camp, I have no idea. But they were right across, our barracks faced their barracks. They had a small barrack but it faced their barrack. So they were in block twelve.

KP: So is the, do you remember VJ Day when the war ended?

MS: I do. I do remember it, hearing it on the radio or from other people, but I do remember VJ Day. But that's it. I don't remember any whooping, hollering or --

KP: Do you remember what you thought about it? Did you think, "Now we're going to leave the camp?" Or did you make that connection?

MS: I don't know what I thought about it. I don't have any thoughts one way or the other.

KP: Do you remember what your mom was like at this time? I mean, after the divorce and stuff like that? Did you see a change in your mother at all?

MS: No.

KP: She kept it close.

MS: I think so. Yeah, that's the nature of our people, kind of. [Laughs] Of course we are getting away from it but that generation, they did keep things to themselves.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 15>

KP: So you moved to Sacramento?

MS: In 1947 I think. I'm pretty sure. I was a sophomore... and then we lived in a boarding house for a while and I went to Sacramento high school here. My sister did go to a junior high here because she was of the age to go to the junior high. It was close to Japantown here before the redevelopment. So that was the area where there were many businesses, stores, a theater, barbershop, pharmacy, things like that.

KP: Did you suddenly notice that now that there was New Year's celebration and stuff that you attended?

MS: Let's see, I don't think I attended anything special. I had been to homes that have done special things so I do know what the traditional spread is. But my mother never really observed the traditional... she did the things that she knew and that we liked. So it wasn't, it wasn't like many.

KP: What do you remember about your, that would be your --

MS: Stepfather?

KP: Stepfather, yeah.

MS: Oh, well, I know that my sister and I really didn't care for him. And eventually -- excuse me -- eventually they divorced. And then I was called to be a witness or whatever. So I do recall that. And then...

KP: Was he, do you know if he was Nisei?

MS: No, he's not Nisei, he might have been Kibei. Issei or Kibei. I really don't know.

KP: So he didn't, did he speak English well?

MS: Well, I guess he spoke English but not like... Yeah, I think he did speak English.

KP: Not like you were used to?

MS: Right. Yeah, he was of a different era.

KP: And your father remarried in '46 was it?

MS: I think '46, yes.

KP: And where did he... ?

MS: Well, I think he was in Arizona about that time because my brother, I think he says that they were in Arizona. But when he was little he came back to Temple City where my grandmother lived. And then so the first year when we came back to California, my sister went down to see her father, our father. And then spent the summer, or the better part of summer, and then the following year I went. And then the year I went, Benny was about a year and a half.

KP: What was that like, going back into your father's new world?

MS: Oh, it was kind of different. His wife was like maybe ten years younger than me. But she was always kind to us because she had a stepmother. Her father was a pharmacist, I don't know if he was a Nisei or what, but her mother and my stepmother when she was little and another sister were in Japan during the typhoon time. And the mother was trying to find protection for them and the mother died. And so then the father was a widower and he remarried and she had this stepmother that, she was like the slave, where they had another family, I mean, and then she was the one that washed the diapers and did all, she was just a girl but expected to do much more. So she always was kind to us because she knew how it was to be, to have a stepmother.

KP: So you felt welcomed in that family?

MS: Yes. And then we were close to those children growing up because we lived in San Bernardino after I was married. And then we saw them growing up and so that made it close.

KP: And then also was your grandmother's people and more of your relatives were there?

MS: Yes. I did get to see them like at Thanksgiving. And I guess we would come back to Sacramento for Christmas maybe. At times we didn't, we would celebrate with them.

KP: Did you do the train? To go down there?

MS: No. I always drove, we always drove. Yeah, and I still do. And I fly only if time is important. But now I have time so I don't have to... I really prefer driving.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KP: So you graduated from high school?

MS: Yes.

KP: From which school?

MS: Sacramento Senior High School. And then I went to Berkeley for a year and then I came back and I started to work.

KP: What did you do? What kind of work?

MS: Oh, I worked for the state of California, entry level, as a office clerk. And then I was going to... I did go to City College and Sac State at different times, at night and took some day classes too, but mostly at night.

KP: When did you meet your husband?

MS: Oh, I met him in 1954. His family is from Hawaii too but his family were Isseis, and so he was Nisei, he was in the air force and stationed at Beale Air Force Base, north of here. There were quite a few of them and they would come to Sacramento on weekends to see what's happening here. So, and then we got married in 1955 and then I moved to San Bernardino where he was stationed there. And then my children were born there.

KP: How long was he in the military?

MS: He retired from the military. So his ashes are at Punch Bowl. We did have a service there.

KP: Any questions come up, Richard?

RP: Yeah, a few more questions, Margaret. Do you remember what your stepdad did for the railroad?

MS: No, I don't. And then later he was like a farm laborer and then they would go from place to place for the different crops. So he wasn't always with us because he was working at different places.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Margaret, you were talking about the Sacramento Japanese town and there was a redevelopment project that changed the character of the community.

MS: Yes.

RP: Could you tell us about that?

MS: Well, everyone had to move from that area. It's now where Macy's and the Sacramento Union building is now. It's like Third Street, Fourth Street, around there, Fifth Street, and Capitol and maybe I or J Street. That's where it was before. And we lived on Third Street.

RP: So the redevelopment project took out most of the stores from Japan?

MS: Yes, it did, all of it, yeah. Like lots of other cities have done, too.

RP: And about what time did that project occur?

MS: Oh, I think in the '50s. I graduated in 1950. It was after that, the early '50s.

KP: Anything else? One other question I had is, did your mother work when you moved from Spokane down to Sacramento?

MS: Yes, she did housework for people. And then she did that for many years, and then she went to barber school, she became a barber, she had her own barber shop. She built a barber shop next to her house over there in the south area, it's that direction. She was a professional and became independent and she did very well.

KP: Did she ever remarry after --

MS: No, she didn't. And so she died in 2000, yeah. So, and then eventually she joined this church. She became a, she was never a practicing Buddhist but her family was of that faith. So she had a good life and she was very independent.

KP: She lived long enough to see the redress?

MS: Yes.

KP: What did she think about that? Did you talk to her about that at all?

MS: No, I didn't. I don't know what she thought of it.

KP: What did you think about it?

MS: Oh, well, I really didn't have any thoughts about it. I didn't work for it or do anything for it. I really, I really don't have any special thoughts about it. It was for those people that really lost something, yeah. I'm not deserving but that's how it is.

KP: And did you ever, did you talk with your... did your mother and your father ever talk about camp with you after the camp?

MS: No. Well, sometimes but not much. That generation really didn't say much about it. We're the ones that are telling our children. But no, my mother never talked about it and then my father rarely did either. It wasn't something that was --

KP: Did you talk to camp with your sister and your cousins at all?

MS: Yes. The cousins that were there and the cousins that came later, we have talked about it since.

KP: How do you think that camp experience affected your life and the life of your family?

MS: Oh, I don't know if it affected it at all. That's just life. It just happened and we just learned from it, that's about it. We just went through it, that's about it. It wasn't a real sad time because we were kids and we were just running and having a good time. So I can't, I'm not bitter. It could've been something else.

KP: Anything else, Richard?

RP: Margaret, in that same kind of vein, did you think the camp experience affected the relationship between your mother and father?

MS: No, I don't theirs was a good marriage. So, no, I wouldn't say that at all... with no hesitation.

KP: Anything else you want to share with us?

MS: Oh, well, I can't think of anything.

KP: Alright.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

[Looking at photo album]

MS: Does it say what year? 1942. This is the original picture.

RP: Do you want to point yourself out?

MS: Okay... let, see, I think with pigtails.

KP: That you?

MS: Yes.

KP: Who else is in that picture?

MS: My cousin, my cousin Helen is right here above me.

RP: Any other friends that you recall?

MS: No, these are friends but not close friends.

RP: How about the person in charge of the drill team?

MS: Oh, okay, this is Reiko Ohara and she's still living. She hasn't been at the Heart Mountain reunions but she has been at other reunions. And this is Sadako Mitamitsu.

MS: This is Girl Scout Troop Fourteen.

KP: Where are you? Can you point it out?

MS: I think I'm here on the end.

KP: Who else is in there?

MS: Oh, well, the leader is Aya Nishimura. That's her maiden name. And, well, Lillian Hayashi, here. And Ida Hayakawa, she comes to all the reunions.

RP: How many reunions have you attended?

MS: Since, I think from 1990, every one that they've had. That was the first one we really knew about and that was in San Jose. They're about every two years. So we've been going to many now.

RP: I was going to ask you, have you thought about maybe donating or scanning some these pictures for the Heart Mountain Foundation?

MS: Oh, yes, that would be fine. I think so.

RP: Especially your pictures of the drill team.

KP: Can you point out the picture of your bicycle? Or the guard tower?

MS: Oh, yeah, the guard tower.

RP: We didn't talk about the cat.

KP: Here's the picture of the guard -- I'm looking at the bicycle, that's one of the bicycles that your dad brought back?

MS: Yes.

KP: And who's on that bike?

MS: This is Marion Doi. She died some years ago.

KP: And next to it, the picture of --

MS: The guard tower.

KP: Who's in there?

MS: Oh, yeah, I cut myself out, my sister Frances is here and Lillian Hayashi and Peggy Nitahara and I think Kiku Nakagawa.

RP: Why did you cut yourself out?

MS: I don't know... I wish I didn't. Yeah, I was taller than all of 'em, and I don't know. That's stupid.

KP: That's pictures of cats.

MS: I know. To think that... they were strays, I'm sure there were dogs too.

KP: So they were strays that came into the camp?

MS: I think so because we weren't allowed to have things like that. I think they just came from someplace.

RP: Did you name the cat? Did it have name?

MS: No, these were not my cats.

RP: You didn't care for them every day?

MS: No, I don't know. Maybe somebody else did. And maybe the mess hall, they would just hang around, get scraps. I have no idea.

KP: One other question I had for you, I forgot to ask you about this. You said one of the hardest things for you to leave when you had to go to Pomona was a pet?

MS: Oh, dog, we had a dog, Poochie that my aunt Mary gave us. I don't know what happened to Poochie.

KP: Looks like you did have some animals in camp to play with?

MS: Yes, yeah, that's nice. I'm surprised that my friend could even hold a, have a bird on her finger. That's really something.

RP: Like a parakeet?

MS: No, I don't think so.

RP: Wild bird?

MS: Yeah, it wasn't a trained thing.

KP: So you made a lot of pets?

MS: Yeah, I've had them. My children have had lots of pets, so it's been part of my life.

KP: On behalf of myself, and Richard, who's been here working the camera, and Manzanar, thank you very much for sharing your time with us today, Margaret.

MS: Oh, no, thank you for your patience.

KP: Thank you.

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