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-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

RP: Your brothers and sisters didn't go through that experience, did they? Did they have their high school education? [Inaudible]

LS: They just had high school educations.

RP: But they, it wasn't interrupted like they lost their graduation.

LS: No, right. They had, they had been out of school. Well my, the sister just above me graduated in Poston. So there must have been some school good thing. 'Cause she got her diploma in Poston. But the others had finished school before camp.

RP: You talked about, back on the farm about the ofuro that was moved around.

LS: Right, yeah, that was the most important thing.

RP: That was a real ritual of...

LS: Yes, yes. And every evening you had to build this fire so that the water would be boiling hot for everybody and, and you know it was just, the bath was an important thing. So...

RP: Right.

LS: Yes.

RP: And it, was it a metal tub or?

LS: Yes, it was galvanized tin, rectangular tub and my, and we used to always build this fire for the water. And then mother used to always put potatoes in the embers so that we'd have baked potatoes. It was so good. She'd always put all these potatoes in there. That was wonderful.

RP: Did you look forward to New Year's every year?

LS: Oh yes, yes. We had the mochitsuki where we would pound the mochi. And I don't know why but for some reason the families would gather at our house. So I mean, that was just a, from the early morning, you know, washing the rice and all that sort of stuff. And I think that my mother and brothers were very good at pounding. 'Cause you had to have that rhythm, otherwise you're gonna get your hand pounded on. So, my mother would be in there turning the rice while my brothers would be pounding the mochi so we did that every year at the house. It was, yeah, it was fun. I looked forward to that.

RP: A question about your father's internment. Again, being Issei and sort of holding all those emotions and feeling in, and you being a young child, did you notice any changes or any effects that his incarceration had on him or any lasting scars of that?

LS: I can't, I could not see any of that, no. I think he was glad to get home. But I mean, I don't think that I noticed any changes.

RP: Any additional stories or recollections that we haven't touched on that you'd like to share?

LS: Probably a lot. A lot will come to me and I'll say why didn't I tell him about this and why didn't I tell him about that?

RP: I've got --

LS: [Inaudible.]

RP: -- three more hours of tape.

LS: Oh, no, that's fine. [Laughs] Oh goodness.

RP: Let me just see if I've covered everything. Oh, one other sort of indignity of camp life was the latrines.

LS: Yes.

PR: You talked about, talked about that a little bit, but you don't, do you recall anybody building ofuros inside the shower area in your camp?

LS: We didn't do... no, we didn't do that but you know that, as kids, there was a latrine for the men and for the women and then there was a washhouse. And so in the washhouse there were these double vats. And so because we were kids, we'd just go in there at nighttime and take baths and there we'd fill up both tanks and then put our feet on one side and the body on the other and that was furo. So, and we'd just shut the light off and make sure that nobody else came by there and we'd take our baths.

RP: So it was like a, basically a vat with a large tub?

LS: Yeah, you know these big cement like baths, tubs that you see in garages and things like that with faucets. That's what we had for our washtubs in the laundry, in the laundry house. So there were many of those on either side and so we used to just fill all those up with hot water and just, you know, lounge in there at night.

RP: Did you help your mom wash clothes in camp?

LS: Yes.

RP: Just a washboard?

LS: Right. I think the girls, we used to get together whenever somebody's gonna do the laundry and we'd all get there and, and do the laundry together.

RP: And did your mom have access to a sewing machine? Did she make any clothes for the family while she was in Poston?

LS: You know, I don't know if we had a sewing machine there. But she did all the, she made all our clothes and then my sisters went to sewing school before the war in Los Angeles so I remember they used to make my clothes for me.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.