Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Paul Bannai Interview I
Narrator: Paul Bannai
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 28, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-bpaul-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, many other Nisei could have tried or maybe even did try to get hired from the banks. But what was it in you that made you feel so strongly, that you would take the time and the trouble and the effort to prepare yourself and to go to this extra effort of going to all the banks, when you knew that the chances were very slim that you would actually get hired?

PB: Well, I think everything in life is a challenge, and when you have a challenge to prove something to the world or to the community or to yourself even, that you can do it, that that is very important. And I think that was one of the reasons why I did that. Now, about the same time that I graduated, there was another aspect of it that I wanted to prove, and that was in the area of the entertainment field. And I was not a musician at that time. The only thing I could do was play the drums. But I got together with a bunch of Slavs and Mexicans, and we had a couple of other nationalities there. But I met a friend of mine in Boyle Heights, and we formed a dance band. Now, that, object of that was because when I was working on Nisei Week and we were doing the shows, every time we wanted a band or something -- you know, it was a Japanese American show, it was hard to get. I figured that if I could get involved with a group -- now that was a very good experience because this Slav fellow, his name was Settelich, we, he had two brothers that played in the band also. And we used to play the dances at the Slav hall and Ford Boulevard, eastside. We would go to San Pedro. Now, San Pedro really was one area that I got to know because the Terminal Island people were there. But we played the Slav hall because the Slavs were fishermen, we would be down there. And I remember that before I left to go to camp, that I was still with the band, that I played this, the senior prom at San Pedro High School. And that was quite a event as far as I was concerned because I had the fellow change his name. I says, "You know, Settelich is good, but it, it denotes a certain ethnic group. And we're going to change your name." So I named the band Johnny Jay. It was Johnny Settelich and His Band, but I changed it to Johnny Jay. And as a result of it, we used to play at Balboa, at Catalina Island. We had some -- oh, up at Arrowhead. We had very famous singers come and sing with us from the movie industry. And it was an accomplishment. Well, in fact, we got so busy that I quit playing the drums and I did strictly management only, because we were so busy all week. And it worked out good. Now, when the war came along, because men folks were wanted, we would keep losing our members to better bands, because the band would hear about how good our musicians were. And they would pull 'em up, and they'd begin to play with Glenn Miller and all these big bands. So we eventually had to kind of disband because we couldn't keep all the good players. But I remember that part in life as being a time of being in the entertainment industry, and it was something that was very good. Enjoyed it a lot.

AI: So you were very busy...

PB: All the time.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.