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-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: Did you observe any... did you have any wildlife sightings of scorpions, snakes, lizards?

LS: Snakes, scorpions. But see, the things like that, you know, I was used to seeing in Imperial Valley. So that was kind of natural in Poston for me.

RP: And you were already pretty well broken into, you know, heat.

LS: Right. Except I didn't get to go to the beaches in the summer.

RP: I was gonna say, that kind of broke up your summer routine.

LS: Our summer vacations.

RP: How did people cope with the hot summers in Poston?

LS: You know, I don't remember if every family had this, but we, my brother somehow got this fan thing with this great big old fan, you had to cut out this thing in the wall and the fan and the box with the excelsior and the water running through that. So that would keep us cool. But I don't know if every family had that. I don't know how my brother came about that. But we did have that. And I think probably the mess hall had that.

RP: You don't recall ever seeing people building cellars or spaces underneath their barrack to cool off a little bit?

LS: You know, there might have been a couple of at... there may have been a couple of cellars at the end of the barracks. Vague recollection. I don't remember.

RP: Did your, did any of your siblings work in camp?

LS: They all worked. My sisters worked at the hospital and my mother worked in the mess hall. That was awful work but yeah, she worked in the mess hall. Everybody worked. I think they got like fourteen dollars a month or something like that.

RP: Do you have any, do you have any recollections of the food in camp, in your mess hall?

LS: Oh, I don't know... it just seemed like it was terrible. I think we got a lot of lamb, mutton kind of thing. Mutton and liver. I don't know. It was, it wasn't the tastiest of things. I think that what I looked forward to a lot was the chef, the main person, for the kids, he used to always make the cinnamon toast after school. So that's what I used to look forward to was to run to the mess hall after school. I told you I didn't remember anything about school, right. I do remember after school and the cinnamon toast. That was great. [Laughs]

RP: That was your reward for getting through --

LS: Right.

RP: -- school was...

LS: Getting through school I don't remember anything about.

RP: Yeah, sweets.

LS: Right. That was it.

RP: Those were foods that you mentioned, lamb, liver, that you normally wouldn't have eaten.

LS: Right, we just weren't used to that. So it seemed like we were getting a lot of that. But again, that was orderly too. I mean, I don't know who set up all this stuff but I mean, there was always breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a certain time. It was always served at a certain time. When the gong rang you just ran in there and all sat... every family had their own tables. And we would eat and then my mother would have to go up there and clean up everything, the poor woman. Oh gosh.

RP: She, she cleaned.

LS: Yes.

RP: So she'd eat with you and then she'd have to jump up and...

LS: Right, yes. After everybody was through then we'd have to go and move all those tables out of the way and mop up the floor and make sure that everything was all cleaned up for the next day. So that was really difficult, hard labor.

RP: And each family had a table that was reserved for them?

LS: Yeah. As I recollect, it was like one of these camp tables. And, with benches on either side. And so, yeah, so every family sat with their own family and had dinner. So that was good.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.