Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Laurie Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Laurie Sasaki
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Richmond, California
Date: April 16, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-slaurie-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: You mentioned, I want to talk about some of the things that older people did in the camp. You mentioned that you recall seeing older men chopping down manzanita?

LS: Yes.

RP: What did they do with that?

LS: They made charcoal so that we would have charcoal in the winter to keep us warm. Because we lived at the very end of camp and there was this vast area, land, next to us, the men in our block would go out there and excavate the land and then chop the trees down. We had mesquite trees and ironwood trees in that area. So they would chop that down and then somehow put that into this excavated area and then set it on fire and then put something on top of it and kind of smoke it all up so that the charcoal would form. I can't describe it to you. But anyway, they used to make the charcoal. I think the men in our block were the only ones who did that.

RP: Yeah.

LS: Because I don't remember seeing anybody... I used to go out and look for my father a lot. And you'd have to tramp way out there somewhere and then he'd be sitting out there hoping that the fire would be still going because you could see the smoke coming out of the stack. Yeah, so I don't, I think that the men in our block, older men in our block were doing that.

RP: So did you... able to make new friends or just reacquaint yourself with familiar faces?

LS: No, I made friends there. Because I didn't know any of the El Centro people, we were with El Centro families. So yes, I was able to make friends there in camp.

RP: And what did you do for fun?

LS: For fun? I used to love to dance. So there were tap classes and so I used to always go to the tap classes or things like that to keep me entertained.

RP: How about just games and things like that?

LS: You know, we had, the people had leagues. We had basketball games and baseball games and so we'd always be out there watching the games, and the Valley Boys, that's our block, the Valley Boys, the El Centro Valley Boys, they were very good in sports. So, we always went around camp having in the leagues and rooting for them and all that sort of stuff. And there was a Boyle Heights gang that just didn't want to get near and things like that. So it was...

RP: Gangs.

LS: Yeah.

RP: Intimidating people.

LS: Well, yeah. Zoot suits and all and you know, things like that. [Laughs]

RP: You did see... did you see boys wearing those in camp?

LS: Yes, the Boyle Heights people, yeah.

RP: City slickers?

LS: Yes, right.

RP: There was always those rivalries between the...

LS: Yes, yes, yes. We had them in camp. Yeah.

RP: Did you have any playground equipment in your block? Slides or sandboxes or things of that nature?

LS: We had a rec hall. Every block had a rec hall. We had a rec hall and a block manager. So in the rec hall there probably were things there but I don't remember. We probably played volleyball.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.