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-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

LH: Well, you said, you said that at the age of three that you moved to South Park?

FY: We moved to South Park and I was told by my brother that -- my older brother -- that we moved to South Park because apparently I was sickly and the doctor advised that we move out to the country.

LH: And how was growing up in South Park different from living in the city?

FY: In the city? Well, we had open airs, trees and in back of our house was kind of like a forest back there. Vegetables, fresh, acres of vegetables, any time you're hungry we'd go out and just pull a carrot out. And over to the left of the house, there was an orchard there, fruit trees, apples, pears, prunes. And to this day, I don't know who owned it. Just, people all went there. We never, looking back, no one seemed to hoard it. They just took what they wanted to eat and that's it, so there was plenty for everyone. There was a creek running in front of our house and we used to catch minnows with our handkerchiefs. It was a wonderful life. In contrast, in the city, most of the people that we knew, they had businesses. Whether it's hotel or grocery store, they would be living there. If it's a grocery store, they would live in the back and they, if they had several children, they'd have several bunks. So it was a very cramped quarters. Their activities, of course, were on the streets. There would be some lots. There was one area -- are you familiar with the Uwajimaya?

LH: Right, yes I am.

FY: Well, just south of there, close to the immigration station, there used to be a lot there and we used to call it "dugdale." A deep-set lot, very small and we used to play baseball there. And of course you can't, it's very small so you can't hit far, but nonetheless, it was a playground. Others living by the Seattle Buddhist Temple, there was a Collins Playfield, so they had an area there to play. So there were areas that people could play...

LH: Was your family farming out in South Park?

FY: No, no they... my father was still working for this factory. And later, when I grew up and didn't need any more care, my mother was working for Joe Desmond, too, part-time, doing farm work.

LH: I see. So at this time, you attended grade school. And what was the grade school that you went to?

FY: Well, the school was Concord. And at the Concord grammar school, it was located on a hilltop so that you could overlook the area of South Park. And one of my terrible experience I had was we, the kids were out to recess, and this friend of mine, Robert, was looking out the window and I was looking out the window and the teacher was there with me. And this Robert, an Italian, Italian, pointed to this big yellow house and he told the teacher, he said, "You see that big yellow house over there to the right?" He said, "That's where I live. And you see over to the left on the foot of the hill there, that shack? That's Hideo's place." That's my place, and I never thought about it as a shack. It's, these are the kind of experiences I guess we go through. We were all poor in that area, and it was home to me. And until someone pointed out it is a shack, and it was. After I grew up, I can recognize it was a shack.

LH: Is that the first time you can remember feeling, being put in a certain place?

FY: Yes. I'm sure there were more, but at that age, at that time, that was one of the heavy-bearing moments for me. But the, this type of discrimination in some way existed in the city, I think, more than in the country where we, I grew up. Because the Italians were immigrant, too. Their parents all spoke Italian and the, their children, equivalent to Nisei all spoke bilingual. They spoke a little Italian and their parents were not educated and we were all poor.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.