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-01-0002

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AI: Well, and you mentioned that you were born in Colorado. What was your family doing there in Colorado?

PB: Colorado, they were farming. My father had originally come to Utah, he said, because my grandfather was working in a coal mine up there. He was killed in a coal mine accident. And as a result of it, he was born -- buried in Price, Utah. We moved his grave. I went with my father to Price, Utah many years later. And we have a family plot in a place called Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights, California. So we had only my grandfather up at that grave in Price, Utah, so we moved him down to California. But he died in this accident very early. Now, one of the reasons that, in the diary that I read from my father that he ended up in Colorado and farming, was the same reason. He was injured in a coal mine accident, in a severe accident. He was sent to Salt Lake City in a hospital for several months. In his diary he depicts his problems and pains. But when he left, he said he will not be able to work anymore in a coal mine. He did own a pool hall in Sego, Utah for a little while, which didn't encounter danger or a lot of physical work. But later he decided to go to Colorado, because he had been there once before, to farm, because he could do that without physical exertion.

So I still remember where I was born. And I went back there two years ago. And it happened to be quite a accident, but I was in Grand Junction, Colorado, which is about 40 miles from Delta. And I was there for a VFW western conference. And I thought, "Well, you know, I'm close. I might as well rent a car." So I went to the airport to rent a car, and there were the usual, Hertz, Avis. And I looked over and there was an Oriental-looking girl working at one of the car rentals. So I went over, and I says, "Tomorrow I would like to reserve a car." And she said, "Well, where are you gonna go?" And I said, "I'm gonna go to the, I'd like to find Delta, so if you'd get me a map." And she says, "Delta?" She says, "My father was born there." So I immediately said, "Oh, I'd like to meet him." So the next morning, I met with him for breakfast, and he said, "If you're gonna go to Delta, I'll go with you and I will show you around 'cause I know it." So several years ago I had the opportunity, after seventy-some years, to go back and see where I was born. And he showed me where he was born. The house was kind of ratty, but it was still there. The house where I was born was gone. I saw the fields, and I could still remember the stream. I can still remember the Gunnison River. But one thing he showed me was the school where I started grammar school. And we were out front taking pictures, and a lady came out and said, "What are you taking -- " I says, "Well, I used to go to school here." " Oh, yes," she says, "I know this was a school. I bought it when they abandoned the school, and converted it to my home. So come on in and take a look, and you might remember what the classrooms were like." Well, it was only two classrooms in there, 'cause all the schools I went in Utah and Colorado were one- or two-room schools. And when you knew more than the teacher, you left. And I remember that she had converted the rooms to a kitchen and bedroom and everything, but one, you've got to figure that seventy-some years ago I went to school there, so I didn't recognize everything. But it was an experience, anyway.

AI: Oh, that's quite a story.

PB: Yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.