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-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

LH: So you were in Spokane, in the Spokane area in a sanitarium, and your folks were back in Minidoka.

FY: Yes.

LH: And so they found out the news about your tuberculosis. And were they able to send for you?

FY: No. I started to write to them. I learned, I learned, before that, I learned how to write a little bit of what they call katakana. And so I would use my Japanese and write katakana. And later on, there was a fellow named Mas Akiyama who was a good, still my friend in Spokane, he's a Spokanelite. And he used to be a tubercular patient and he used to teach me how to write the kanji. These are bigger characters. I used to write. I did pretty good corresponding with my mother and I would tell her about... and of course, that eased her a lot, knowing that I'm in the good care at a professional institution. She was, she was happy, I think.

LH: About how long were you in the institution?

FY: Well, I was there, I think, it was around about five, six months. And again, I was restless, young and I want to get home. So I asked the director if I can go home, as ironically, "home," you know -- the camp, and I would see my folks and all that. And at the same time, some of the people that visited me... this sounds interesting because every Sunday you have people from the church, "goody-good" people -- I don't mean to hold anything against them -- but they would come, Issei would come. And they come and see me and they're always crying and they'll say, "Oh, this poor" -- they speak Nihongo -- and they'll say, "This poor young guy. He is still young yet." And they would give me candies, or whatever it is they bring me, and flowers. And when they leave, I really felt bad, I felt sick. And so, after about the second or third time, I could see them coming to the entrance, so I run away to the toilet and stay in there. [Laughs] But it was a tradition. And I'm sure they are not really crying, it is just part of the... so, but one day, Gordy, Gordon Hirabayashi came. That was again, in conjunction with that time I mentioned about the schoolteacher that came, it made me conscious of a totally different area. And then when Gordon came, and he, I'm not sure if he, whether he was waiting for the trial at that time, but then he started explaining the situation and one to one leisurely. So all of a sudden I seen a whole new world open up. And yes, I just felt that he was right, I don't know why, except that he was absolutely right... the injustice that was done to us. So that was another big chapter in my life. So now, going back, yes, I wanted to go back home, but the doctor says, "If you just wait another month, you'll be through with your exercise." I was on exercise 9 and you had to get into exercise 10 before your release. But he says, "You've been pretty mature in taking care of yourself." There wasn't any bad report. There were a time I snuck out. [Laughs] But anyway, he says, "I'm going to let you go. But I can't let you go on an unconditional way. I have to let you go on a conditional pass."

LH: And the conditions were?

FY: Well, conditions that I have to come back and serve my time, you might say, or if I remain healthy. So anyway, I never did go back. I felt okay.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.