Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masao Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Masao Watanabe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 19, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-wmasao-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Well, while you were working at the market in December of that year, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. What was your reaction when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

MW: You know, that's very interesting, 'cause you know where I was? I had taken up skiing and we had -- gee, we had some... the Japanese community was pretty close. And while most of us, at that age we didn't have cars or anything, we used to go down to the Japantown or Nihonmachi, and there was always a couple of restaurants where guys used to gather, to get the ones who were going up to the hills. And there was a bunch of us that were still students, very young, and we had the nerve to take our skis, go down there, and bum a ride. I shouldn't say "bum," it sounds bad. But we knew the guys who skied and it was a certain amount of camaraderie.

TI: So this was a group of Japanese Americans that would get together?

MW: That skied.

TI: Where would you go? When you say the "hills," up to a place like Snoqualmie?

MW: Well, we went to Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie, but on December 7th we were up at Mt. Rainier, and we got the news while we were skiing down the hill. [Laughs] And, boy, it was a lot of sad faces, you know, wondering what the heck is going to happen. But, here we cut our ski day short.

TI: And how did you hear while you were skiing down the hill?

MW: I think it was a ranger that came up. And after a certain amount of time, you know, you get to know the people, and they told us that, "Hey, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor." And, gee, we just... well, it was sad news for us.

TI: What was the reaction of the people --

MW: All over?

TI: -- yeah, around you when you first heard?

MW: It might not have been as severe as it was to us, but, boy, we hadn't thought much of it, so... I know it hit me hard. I was wondering, "What's going to happen now?" But we came right off the hill, got ready to go home. And, gee, in those days when you pay for a day's pass, it was unheard of to cut your ski short. [Laughs] You know, it was, it was hard, but we sure did.

TI: But when you got back to Seattle, what did you go do?

MW: Well, we were just wondered what's everybody going to do?

TI: So what did you find when you came back to Seattle? Were people talking about it...

MW: Nervous, yeah...

TI: ...or were they all at home, or what was going on?

MW: I'm having a hard time trying remember the details, but I know most of the people went home and just worried about it, I think.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.