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-01-0009

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LH: Can we take you to the time just prior to the war, and you had moved from South Park to, now where did you move to?

FY: We moved to First and Cedar, and my mother and I, my mother negotiated everything and we bought a, rather, leased a hotel. And it was fifty-six units -- rooms, rather -- and because my brothers were not around, I, I more or less had to run it because my parents couldn't speak English.

LH: Now, where were your brothers?

FY: Well, one was in California, and the other was going to school and he just didn't have time, he was going to the UW and so...

LH: Now, what kind of hotel was this?

FY: It was a regular, I guess you'd call it a sleeping room and then combination housekeeping. Housekeeping would, they would have a little burner. Sleeping room was just the bed. And then there was a communal toilet and bathroom, which was out in the hall. In New York, I guess you would call it a cold-water flat.

LH: Now was this primarily catering to Japanese and the Japanese community?

FY: No. No, most of the tenants were Caucasians. This was not in the Japanese community area, this is -- right now if you, the area called Belltown -- it was just north of there. That building's been gone since, and they have a large, tall building there now.

LH: Can you describe that area for me? At that time.

FY: Oh, at that time Belltown was a, an area were they had a lot of prostitute. And, in fact, some of the prostitutes were very kind to me. Because I used to deliver paper and what I do, whenever there might be some interesting news, I'd buy -- after my delivery, I would also buy extras. And I can't remember whether I paid two cents for each sheet, then I can sell it for a nickel, so I made three cents profit. So I get an armload of newspapers and then I walk up to First Avenue, there in Belltown, and I holler out, "Extra, extra." And then they'll rap on the window, and pretty soon they're all -- actually, there may not be nothing in the news, but I'd walk in the street hollering, "Extra." And then when I'd go to the room and I see this heavy door that shocks me, and then that slide opens up, you know that little slot there, there'd be a whorehouse there. But they were nice. They always gave me a nickel tip, you know, they'd give me a dime.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.