George Yoshida Interview Segment 31

Father's background: fluent in English at the time of immigration; "a bent for music" (ddr-densho-1000-132-1) - 00:09:02
Memories of helping father with various jobs, disappointment at not getting paid (ddr-densho-1000-132-2) - 00:04:00
Mother's background: Christian upbringing, training in Western music (ddr-densho-1000-132-3) - 00:07:20
Being the first-born boy; growing up on Seattle's Main Street (ddr-densho-1000-132-4) - 00:04:01
Childhood games: kite-flying, "jintori" (ddr-densho-1000-132-5) - 00:02:32
Bailey Gatzert Elementary School: becoming more "Americanized," learning to play the harmonica in music class (ddr-densho-1000-132-6) - 00:05:02
Attending Japanese language school: "It was something we hated, but it was ... expected of us" (ddr-densho-1000-132-7) - 00:05:16
Meeting different ethnic groups: becoming "assimilated," absorbing the surrounding culture (ddr-densho-1000-132-8) - 00:05:02
As a child, sharing a room with grandmother: listening to traditional Japanese music played on a shamisen (ddr-densho-1000-132-9) - 00:02:24
Father's decision to move family to Los Angeles, California because of unprofitable Seattle business (ddr-densho-1000-132-10) - 00:03:31
Ethnic diversity in Los Angeles; making friends with Jewish classmates (ddr-densho-1000-132-11) - 00:06:52
Activities in high school: Boy Scouts, drum & bugle corps (ddr-densho-1000-132-12) - 00:01:48
Life in high school: working part-time at a fruit and vegetable stand (ddr-densho-1000-132-13) - 00:06:36
Introduction to jazz music on the radio; learning how to dance (ddr-densho-1000-132-14) - 00:02:23
Feeling a lack of academic motivation; not many professional role models within the Japanese American community (ddr-densho-1000-132-15) - 00:03:20
Adolescent years: first experiences learning about human sexuality (ddr-densho-1000-132-16) - 00:09:17
Limited opportunities after graduating from high school: "The future seemed gray, bleak" (ddr-densho-1000-132-17) - 00:07:37
Never considering pursuing a career in music (ddr-densho-1000-132-18) - 00:02:33
Awareness of Japan's political activities leading up to 1941 (ddr-densho-1000-132-19) - 00:06:33
Feeling self-conscious after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; hearing racist propaganda, rumors (ddr-densho-1000-132-20) - 00:07:08
Hearing about Japanese Americans who were removed early; visiting friends in Santa Anita Assembly Center while still "free" (ddr-densho-1000-132-21) - 00:05:04
Preparing for mass removal: destroying Japanese cultural items, bringing popular music records; traveling to Poston concentration camp, Arizona (ddr-densho-1000-132-22) - 00:04:00
Arrival at Poston concentration camp: registering, filling own mattress with straw (ddr-densho-1000-132-23) - 00:02:37
Life in Poston concentration camp: observing Nisei in a variety of professions (ddr-densho-1000-132-24) - 00:03:44
Working as an orderly at the camp hospital; observing a surgery (ddr-densho-1000-132-25) - 00:04:14
Witnessing medical reactions to incarceration while working at a camp hospital (ddr-densho-1000-132-26) - 00:06:45
Comparing incarceration experience with Native American situation (ddr-densho-1000-132-27) - 00:03:26
Vague memories of internal unrest at Poston (ddr-densho-1000-132-28) - 00:02:15
Helping to organize a dance band in camp, rehearsing evenings and weekends (ddr-densho-1000-132-29) - 00:05:57
Enjoying playing in the Music Makers, Poston's dance band: "We played more for ourselves than for the entertainment of others" (ddr-densho-1000-132-30) - 00:03:54
Answering "yes-yes" on the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" (ddr-densho-1000-132-31) - 00:03:35
Decision to leave camp for Chicago, Illinois; receiving help from a network of other Nisei for employment, housing (ddr-densho-1000-132-32) - 00:03:33
Initial thoughts upon leaving camp for Chicago: "Free at last" (ddr-densho-1000-132-33) - 00:01:49
Training at the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota (ddr-densho-1000-132-34) - 00:04:25
Playing swing music in a dance band at Fort Snelling, Minnesota (ddr-densho-1000-132-35) - 00:04:40
Getting married, moving to Berkeley, California (ddr-densho-1000-132-36) - 00:05:07
Decision to go back to school for teaching credentials; difficulty finding jobs because of racial background (ddr-densho-1000-132-37) - 00:03:55
Teaching at the Washington School in Berkeley; one of the first Japanese American instructors to teach there (ddr-densho-1000-132-38) - 00:03:26
Philosophy and experiences while teaching: "I think my special approach to educating these kids was a sense of humor" (ddr-densho-1000-132-39) - 00:04:11
Moving to El Cerrito, California; finding someone willing to sell a home to a Japanese American family (ddr-densho-1000-132-40) - 00:02:44
Adopting four children (ddr-densho-1000-132-41) - 00:08:56
Teaching art to elementary school students; experimenting with different techniques and styles (ddr-densho-1000-132-42) - 00:04:20
Taking a one-year sabbatical from teaching to live in Japan with family (ddr-densho-1000-132-43) - 00:06:12
Experiences in Japan: observing elementary art education, learning Japanese teaching techniques (ddr-densho-1000-132-44) - 00:03:11
Cultural differences experienced while living in Japan (ddr-densho-1000-132-45) - 00:03:37
Impressed with music education in Japan; difficulties of everyday life (ddr-densho-1000-132-46) - 00:04:31
Learning the drums and playing in bands (ddr-densho-1000-132-47) - 00:04:18
Forming the J-Town Jazz Ensemble, mostly made up of Sansei musicians (ddr-densho-1000-132-48) - 00:06:13
Reflections on life: "I just feel very fulfilled" (ddr-densho-1000-132-49) - 00:06:05
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ddr-densho-1000-132-31 (Legacy UID: denshovh-ygeorge-01-0031)

Answering "yes-yes" on the so-called "loyalty questionnaire"

00:03:35 — Segment 31 of 49

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February 18, 2002

Densho Visual History Collection


Courtesy of Densho


George Yoshida

George Yoshida Interview

03:49:01 — 49 segments

February 18, 2002

Seattle, Washington

Nisei male. Born April 9, 1922, in Seattle, Washington. Parents immigrated from Japan in the early 1900s. Attended Bailey Gatzert Elementary School and Washington Middle School in Seattle before his family moved to East Los Angeles in 1936. Incarcerated in Poston Detention Camp #1, Arizona, in April 1942. While in camp, helped organize the "Music Makers," a dance band. Left Poston for Chicago in 1943, and was drafted into the U.S. Army. Underwent basic training in the armored (tank) corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was subsequently assigned to the Military Intelligence Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Married Helen Furuyama in 1945, and moved to Berkeley, California, and later to El Cerrito, a neighboring community. George earned his teaching credential and taught in the Berkeley School District for thirty-five years. He raised four children: Cole, Clay, Maia and Lian. Organized the J-Town Jazz Ensemble, a 17-piece swing band based in San Francisco, which performs at community events and festivals. Author of the book Reminiscing in Swingtime: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music, 1925-1960, published by the National Japanese American Historical Society, San Francisco, California.

Alice Ito, interviewer; John Pai, interviewer; John Pai, videographer


Courtesy of Densho