Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spring 1942 in Sacramento: Bitter Harvest

"A Country's Only as Good as its Love for its Children."

-Kiyo Sato

Wednesday evening, the talented Kiyo Sato stood before a group of patrons in the Sacramento Room and told tales from a dark time. The scene: 1942 in the current-day Rancho Cordova. Imagine being a nineteen-year-old being followed by the police as you drive home. Imagine being rent from your two dogs as they nervously run in circles, trying to corral you to safety, as you step toward transportation to your relocation center in Sacramento. Next scene: Poston, Arizona. Imagine using the bathroom at an interment camp, one room, twelve holes in the floor, no dividers, and no privacy. Imagine watching friends pass out - some dying - because of temperatures reaching into the 120s and 130s. If that's not sobering enough, imagine returning to your house three years later to see someone else living in it.

This is a sampling of Sato's recollections from her award-winning memoir, Dandelion Through the Crack. She took attendees from her father's strawberry fields in the extinct hamlet of Mills to the barren expanse of Poston, Arizona, where everything was saved, collected as a means to make life better. She even recalled teenage boys being sent into the desert to collect rattlesnakes for the eventual making of belts and other items.

Sato's hour-and-a-half was memorable, and you can watch for her to appear as a participant in the California of the Past Project which is active through June 21.

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