Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Yamasaki Interview I
Narrator: Frank Yamasaki
Interviewers: Lori Hoshino (primary), Stephen Fugita
Location: Lake Forest Park, Washington
Date: August 18, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-yfrank-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

LH: Well Frank, you were telling us a little bit about the time right after you heard about Pearl Harbor. And now what, I understand that there were some restrictions about travel and where Nisei and Issei could go within the city.

FY: I'm not that familiar with the area where we can travel, but they had a curfew so that we had to be indoors or back at home within certain hours. And, of course, Japanese are very obedient so that wasn't much problem. We all abided by the command. The... lots of pain, there was a lot of pain there. But there wasn't that much time to reflect, because there was such a short time. We had to get rid of our business. We had to take care of all of our financial affairs. It goes on and on, and with such limited time. And they allowed, I think it was just two suitcases, so what do you do with all your household goods?

LH: What happened to your hotel business?

FY: We sold it. To give you an example, the two families that had grocery stores, one just outright sold the store for around $400. That's including inventory, cash registers, big freezers and it goes on and on and on. It was worth ten, hundred times more. I don't mean -- considerably more. Hank, he decided he's just going to go out and take his groceries to other grocery store, and sell it for less than wholesale and hopefully he'll get something and he did, his cash registers, and freezers and things of that sort. He did get two or three times more than what the other family did. But even at that, it was still... $800, $900 or $1,000. In our case, we were lucky. There was a fisherman that was one of the tenants, and he just happened to come back from Alaska, and he bought our apartment for $500 or the hotel for $500. Can you imagine? And all our goods... we used to have a sort of an assistant manager, Ed Meyer. And we had one of the rooms, we stored all our personal belongings and furnitures and household good into that room. And with the understanding that we are entitled to get it back. And, of course, the manager wasn't there anymore. Nothing was there. We lost everything.

LH: How much time did you have to settle the affairs of your family?

FY: Well, I thought it was only about a week or so, or a couple of weeks at the most. And at the same time, there is lots of rumors, there's no one guiding us. They said, "Well, just buy things. You can't bring any money with you," so we would go out and buy things that we would never consider buying, like I bought ring and wristwatches and I even bought a portable radio and things of that sort with my, I had some money saved. The, my mother, she figured she had a good hiding place, so she put some money in her shoe. [Laughs] Others made money belt, I think, and they put some money there.

LH: And you said that you were allowed to take two suitcases.

FY: If I remember that, I thought that was it, two suitcases were the maximum limit. Others had, later, going to the assembly center in Puyallup I noticed that others had duffel bags and other things, so we were very naive. We could have -- well, there's lots of things we could have done. This is all hindsight, but this is where like Gordon Hirabayashi, he was well-informed and more knowledgeable about things of this sort, so he stood on his civil rights, which we didn't know anything about. In fact, many Japanese frowned on Gordon Hirabayashi for making some rumble there. You know, the traditional, Japanese tradition was don't make any noise, just be quiet and do what you're supposed to do. That was a very traditional type of belief among the, at least, Japanese I grew up with.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.