Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert Mizukami Interview
Narrator: Robert Mizukami
Interviewer: Ronald Magden
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 11, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-mrobert-01-0014

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REM: How far, or no, not how, how long before you got back to the United States?

RTM: Well, I got back to United States in December after the war was over in Europe. At that, after the war was over in Europe, there was rumor that we would come back to, the unit would come back to the United States and get re-supplied and possibly go to the Pacific. So by the time that all happened, the war ended in Japan in August, I guess it was.

REM: Uh-huh. Where did you go when, when you came, when the 442nd came back to the United States? Then it was demobilized or...?

RTM: Well, we came back as individuals, not as a unit, particularly.

REM: I see.

RTM: After you had so many points for being overseas and such-and-such, and so when we had enough points, we were sent back home. And so I came back as an individual, not as a unit.

REM: Oh. I thought they marched down Washington, D.C.

RTM: Well, there was, there was a unit that did come back and paraded in Washington, D.C. But I was not one of those.

REM: Okay. You came back then as an individual and you went where?

RTM: Well, I was discharged at Fort Lewis here in Washington. And by that time, my folks were on a (work) release program to Spokane, and so they were living in Spokane at that time.

REM: So you went over to Spokane?

RTM: Yes.

REM: What did you do in Spokane?

RTM: Well, my folks were working at a greenhouse there again. And he was, in conjunction with the, with the greenhouse there was a nursery, too. So this person grew nursery stock and so on. And I went to work there. And, at the nursery, and I was digging nursery stock and irrigating and so on. And if the customers wanted, we would go out there and plant the material for them.

REM: And...

RTM: It so happened at that, that time that -- and that's how I met Lilly, my wife. Her dad came down to the nursery and bought some plants, and he wanted me to come up and plant them for him. And I tell you, in Spokane, I mean, Spokane's built on a rock pile. And I never worked so hard planting anything in my life.

REM: Did she bring water out to you, or how did you meet Lilly, your wife?

RTM: Well that's kind of a long story, really. [Laughs] During the time that I was overseas, the girls at the Methodist Church wrote letters to servicepeople who were in 442nd at that time. And I got a letter from Lilly, actually. They just drew names out of a hat, and they, they wrote to the servicepeople. And after I got discharged, went to Spokane and met up with another friend of mine there. And he said to me, he says, "Say, would you like to meet some girls?" And he said, "I know a family that has several girls in their family." And so this was the Yonago family. And so we went up to the house to see them. Well, we were sitting there talking about just anything, and I said to them, I said, "Well I got a letter from somebody here in Spokane, and I wrote back to this person and never got an answer back." [Laughs] Well, in those days, we wrote V-mail letters, if you recall what they were. And so as we were talking, Lilly went upstairs. She had this letter that I wrote, wrote to her. I gave her such a line of baloney she was scared to write to me. She said that. [Laughs] So that's how it happened.

REM: You were married in Spokane?

RTM: Yes, uh-huh.

REM: And then for some reason, you came back over and got involved with the, your old greenhouse property. Can you explain that to us?

RTM: Well, during that year, that summer, we thought well, we'd just drive over to the coast and see what our old homestead looked like. And so we came back to Fife and drove around. And the person who had purchased the property was operating the greenhouse at that time. And he was having such a hard time trying to make a go of it that he wanted to get out from under. And so as we visited him that, that week, we decided that maybe we could buy the place back and come back to the old place. And that's how we got back again.

REM: Was there a big difference in what you sold it for and...

RTM: Well, see I'm not too sure what we got for it when we sold, sold it. But I know we probably paid twice as much for the property the second time around as we were originally buying it for. And 'course, I think when we sold the property, it was like these other places where we probably got about ten cents on the dollar.

REM: Yeah. Were you, who came back to the greenhouse? You did, your parents...?

RTM: Yes. My parents and myself.

REM: Just you and your parents, or Frank or anybody else in the family?

RTM: Well, Frank was still in the service, and so...

REM: Ah, working up the points.

RTM: Yeah, I guess. But after he got discharged from the service, he came to join the family, too. And I had my sister, Esther, was there. And by that time, my sister, Lillian, was married and she had her own family. So, it was just the four of us left, plus my mother and dad.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.