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-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Going back to school, what kind of student were you? How would you describe yourself as a student going through elementary school?

MW: Well, without sounding egotistical, I thought I was a pretty good student. My grades were always pretty good and I had no problems understanding what was going on. But I think minorities in those days... I don't know if it's the right thing to say, but I think you're aware of a lot more things, the differences, and you pay attention to differences which normally you might not.

TI: What would be some examples of that, where you say minorities pay attention to more things or more sensitive to certain things?

MW: I think they're more aware of these things. I think the clash of cultures you wonder, "Gee, why do they do things that way and we do it this way?" It's the awareness of the differences in how you can meld 'em.

TI: That's interesting.

MW: So it's... like fights at school and stuff like this. It was interesting to see who supported who. [Laughs]

TI: And these are things you felt that others, minorities in particular, were very conscious of, of how things like this worked.

MW: I think we were much more conscious than the Caucasians were. We didn't have blacks in the school, but I don't know the percentages of Orientals and whites, but we got along pretty good, actually.

TI: Well, when you weren't working at the market or going to school, what were you doing?

MW: We just didn't have a hell of a lot of time. [Laughs] We went from the grammar school... do you know where the Japanese school is now, the building? Central school, we used to walk all the way to the Japanese school.

TI: So the Japanese Language School is on Fourteenth and Weller.

MW: Yeah, and our grammar school was on Seventh and Madison. So it's a good walk. You didn't have time to play around. You had to go from one to the other and it started, whoever the smart guy that started these things, you just had time to get there.

TI: So after school...

MW: So we didn't have much time for play.

TI: Right. How about things like sports? Were you able to do much in sports while growing up?

MW: By growing up, I'm not too sure what age group you were thinking of.

TI: Well, maybe the question I should ask is, when did you start getting involved in sports? Because I know you eventually did.

MW: Well, I guess grammar school they had these soccer teams and little softball teams, and I don't know. At, when you're growing up, size is not that crucial, as when you become six-footers or something. So we were pretty good in soccer, softball, where our sizes were about the same, and I think most of us played for school teams. And we used to have our own little league amongst the grammar schools around the Central area. I forgot how, just how the leagues were set up, but our sports activities were pretty well limited to school sports. And then some of us used to go to Collins Field House, as we grew older.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.