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-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

LH: Earlier you had mentioned, during our previous visit, that there seemed to be a turning point at Minidoka for you.

FY: There was a period where... one day, in fact, I was walking around by the administration building, where the main gate is and a truckload of girls came in. And I thought -- and then there was a crowd of people after they got off the truck -- and I thought, "Wow, what's this commotion about?" So I got close and I knew one of the gals, so I went to ask her, "Hey Mas, what's going on?" "Oh, we were in the..." I can't remember the place, but, picking potatoes. And gee, they came back, and she earned six or eight dollars just that one day of work.

LH: What was a normal day's pay?

FY: Well in camp, I could be wrong, I think the wages, monthly salary was between $6 and $8 for unskilled workers and $14 to $16 or so for skilled doctors and people of that... so here's someone coming in making six or eight dollars in one day. So what happens is gradually others want to do the same. And then, that started sort of stampede where the fellows all went off to start going out to the sugar beet farms. And then, all of the sudden, there was a different atmosphere. There's that, it came right back to money has become the goal again of everyone. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it just is a direction. And then others have relocated to other cities. Others have gone to back east and it's just a big disbursement. The government itself, they were happy to have the evacuee go out, because they need, like the farmers, they needed workers.

LH: Now, what was the requirement in order to leave?

FY: You know, I made out a form, but I don't remember. It got so that I felt like a dunce head for staying home. Even my mother would say, "What's wrong with you? All the others are going out and making money." So I finally decided I'll go. I went to Spokane because my brother was there and he was just graduating. He went ahead to go to Spokane from Seattle. I think it was from Seattle, because he only had a semester or so to finish his aeronautical degree at the UW. He finished it at Gonzaga.

LH: Now Spokane was outside the relocation zone?

FY: Yes. It was the, there was the zone there. So, I went to Spokane.

LH: What did you do there?

FY: Well, there was a friend, he says he got a job at a restaurant working, washing dishes on swing shift. And those, at that time, any kind of work would be okay because otherwise we can't make a living. And the idea there was we were working at a restaurant, you can get at least one meal free and you can bring some food home, too. So, I was working there and also, the condition, I said I was going to school, which I had in mind to go. So they had, I was working from eleven at night until seven in the morning and it makes it very difficult to go to sleep because it is daylight and it's nice and it feels good, so I don't know if I -- and then on weekends, of course, I'd find a date or something, up until the time I had to get to work at eleven. So I'm burning the day, twenty-four hours.

LH: So life was very busy for you.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.