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-01-0002

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LH: When did, when were you born?

FY: I was born in 1923 in Seattle in this area called Dearborn. It's interesting, where I was only three years old -- from what I heard -- I was three years old when we moved to South Park, which is the country. But the interesting thing, the people in the Dearborn area, they would say that's the Dearborn Bunch. And there would be others that would be the Main Street Bunch and Jackson Street Bunch. They're only a couple of blocks away, and yet it is surprising that each group stayed within their own area and if you're a couple of blocks away, they wouldn't know each other.

LH: Is that right?

FY: It's very interesting.

LH: So, did you have siblings?

FY: I beg your pardon?

LH: Did you have siblings, brothers and sisters?

FY: Did I?

LH: Uh-huh.

FY: Yes, I had the elder sister, Yaiko, she had, she loved the name Dorothy. And Harry, he didn't like the name Harry because all the other Japanese had Japanese names so he, he had Mother call him Kazuo, Kaz. And Masao, and I was Hideo and I had a youngest one, George.

SF: Why do you think that your parents gave some of the kids English names and some of the kids Japanese names?

FY: I often wonder, too. Because most of the Isseis, at least my parents, were not educated and they come to a new country with very low exposure to other cultures. And someone must have told them, "Well, you're in America, so you better have, name your son Harry." [Laughs] But the, all his playmates, they were all, had Japanese names. So he preferred to be called Kaz, Kazuo and Kaz for short. Now with my brother Masao and myself, Hideo, it was in high school. All the while I was going to grammar school, whenever they came to my name, they would pronounce it Hidy-ho, Hedy-o. And I always, they always stalled when they came to my name, so I finally changed it to Frank and never had any problems. [Laughs] My brother changed his name to Bob or Robert and then, the Italians, when we moved out to South Park, there were many Italian truck farmers. And the fellows that we used to play with, one fellow's name was Miskino and the other fellow was Gurino and after the war and later on when we were all grown up, when I met them, I said, "Hi Miskino. Hi Gurino." And they said, "No, no. I'm Bob now, Robert now." And the other one was John. Changed his name to John. And I said, "I changed mine to Frank." [Laughs]

SF: Before you changed your name to Frank in high school, did you remember feeling you'd like to have an English name or a Japanese name? With different groups, was it different, or...?

FY: No, I didn't, I didn't feel... It's just that when the, when it became so awkward for the teacher to always, you know. And then it did become somewhat embarrassing at times. Whenever it came to my name I used to, I used to know that Yamasaki followed "W," and so when Jack White's name is called, I know what's going to happen next. There's going to be a stall there and, "Hedy-ho, Yama... Yama..." You know, Yamasaki. Oh, my gosh. So when I changed to Frank, she didn't say Yamasaki, she said Frank. [Laughs]

LH: It made life easier?

FY: Pardon?

LH: Did it make life easier for you?

FY: Oh, certainly.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.