Densho Digital Archive
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Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0032

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AI: But, before we jump to that, let's just back up a little bit, because then you graduated in --

TY: '51, yeah.

AI: -- '51, with your degree.

TY: In Zoology. And as I think we discussed before, I think it was very fortuitous that I graduated when I did because with a, just a bachelor's degree, because job was quite plentiful at that time. But my dad had a very, very good friend, Mr. Kawabe, and he owned a, ran a, owned a oriental gift store in the arcades of Olympic Hotel which is now called the Four Seasons Hotel.

AI: Downtown Seattle.

TY: Yeah, downtown Seattle. And he had come over for dinner one evening and he said, "Tosh, how would you like to work at the store since now you graduated from school?" And I said, "Well, I don't know anything about business." And he says, "Well, you don't have to know anything about business. You can learn." And he said, "You could start tomorrow." And here I was just looking for a job. And I thought well, I took the easy way out and accepted his offer because he did say that, one carrot that he handed out was, "You know, if the business goes well here, I plan to open a store in New York City." And of course right away I thought well, Fumi would love that. So, I said, "Well, okay, I'll give it a try." And actually it was one of the most miserable times that I've ever spent. [Laughs] It was, catering with clientele, that store like that attracted in Olympic Hotel area was something else because they were, all quite well-to-do people. And they were kinda nasty to our -- they expected you to wait on -- I mean the, it was just different type of people and I just started to hate them because they were so demanding and everything. And the boss, of course, Mr. (Kawabe) said, "Don't ever talk bad to the customers. They're always right, you know." And I said, "Okay." And so I started developing all kinds of psychosomatic symptoms like getting very dizzy and I got shingles and all kind of weird things that I had never had before. And after about a year or so -- no, about half a year I decided well, maybe I better start looking for something else.

So about six months or so into that I applied for a civil service job. Actually, I went and applied for it and took some civil service exams. And, oh, within, well, five months or so I was offered a job to go down to this lab that was being built and it was called the Western Fish Nutrition Lab. And they needed a, someone to do histology down there. And I said histology? And Dr. Helver who was the director of the lab then came to interview me and I said, "Dr. Helver, I don't know anything about histology, fish histology." And he said, "Well, no one does. It's a brand-new field, you could learn." And I said, "Okay." And I did, finally took a job. And I went and -- at that time the lab was being built so I was temporarily assigned to Dr. Rucker's lab, which is also a Fish and Wildlife Service lab that worked with fish diseases. And Dr. Rucker was doing histopathology work, type of thing that I'll be doing down in the new lab. So, Dr. Helver said, "Well, you can work under Dr. Rucker for a year before we go down to the lab, down in Cook," so I said -- "and learn the ropes from him." So I said, "Okay." And he, I learned quite a lot working for a year with Dr. Rucker. And when I went down there I was on my own most of the time and it worked out very well. And I was hired as a biological tech and then I became a histopathological technician and then I came up to, they sent me to school here. They asked, I asked whether I can take some classes up at the U, University of Washington. So, and I got permission to do that. And I came up here with, Fumi and I came up here for one quarter and took classes, couple classes at the medical school, histology and pathology class. And when I went back, well, I was reclassified as a histologist and became a project leader at the lab down in Cook. And I was there as a histopathologist for six and a half years. And at that time, Dr. Rucker's lab was, they were located in University of Washington and they moved to a lab in Sand Point Naval Air Station. And Dr. Rucker called me one day and said, "How would you like to come up to Seattle?" And I said, "You bet I do." And I leaped at it and I, he made arrangements for my transfer and I transferred up to Seattle.

AI: Now --

TY: And that was in 1960.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.