Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Seichi Hayashida Interview
Narrator: Seichi Hayashida
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Sheri Nakashima (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 21, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hseichi-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: This is a Densho: Japanese American Legacy Project interview, conducted August 21, 1997, of Seichi Hayashida, by Alice Ito and Sheri Nakashima. Filmed by Matt Emery at the Japanese Language School in Seattle, Washington. Seichi, I'd like to start by asking a little bit about your family background and ask you about your parents and why they came from Japan, a little bit about them, when they came.

SH: Okay. My father came in 1901, I think it was. And my mother came a few years later, several years later. He came because like most Isseis at the time, thought they could better... life would be better, money to be made easy in the United States. And, he was a farmer and I think I've heard stories -- most of the people that first came over were farmers, not businessmen in Japan, but mostly farmers coming from poor communities. Mainly their thing was that they heard -- just like the European people when they first settled in America -- everything was so nice and easy in America. They all thought they'd come and make a fortune. They... all the Isseis figured they were gonna make a fortune in a short, few years, and go back to Japan. Most of them didn't intend to stay, from the stories that I've heard or people tell me that. Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what my dad thought he could do. But, since he didn't, well, he called my mother over and...

AI: So, they were already married before he came to the U.S.?

SH: Oh yes, oh yes, they were married. I had two older brothers that were seventeen and fifteen years older than I am.

AI: And they were born in Japan.

SH: Yes, born in Japan, and both of them are gone now.

AI: So, did your brothers come over with your parents?

SH: No.

AI: They stayed in Japan. And can you tell me a little bit about what your parents were like?

SH: Well, my dad had, I think he said he went to school for about only five or six years. And, but he was able to read and write. My mother never did get to go to school. She was oldest of five sisters, and she was the oldest and she didn't go to school, period. She wasn't able to read or write Japanese, the language. That seems to have been the case, in many cases, where the oldest one didn't get a chance to go, at that time.

AI: Now, they were in Seattle when you were born, is that right?

SH: Yes. My folks, my mother managed or worked in a rooming house. My dad worked for Furuya Company as a salesman and delivery, because he learned how to drive, one of the first ones to start driving in Seattle. And he got tired, tried farming. So he started farming in 1924.

SN: I'd like to ask you a little bit more, maybe about your family. Do you know what area of Japan they came from?

SH: Where?

SN: Uh-huh. What prefecture?

SH: They came from Kumamoto Prefecture.

SN: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

SN: And, you indicated before that, your brothers remained in Japan?

SH: Yes.

SN: Did they eventually come to the United States?

SH: No.

SN: So, but you were born here.

SH: Yes, I was born here.

SN: When was the first time you got to meet your brothers?

SH: One of the brothers was, worked for a... worked for a Mitsui, Mitsui Lines. So he used to come every two to three months, earlier, and visited. The ship docked in Seattle, Portland, Grays Harbor ports hauling lumber mainly in earlier parts. So, whenever he was going to be in one of the U.S. ports, he'd let us know by letter ahead of time and I met him in different places. I remember when I was young -- just barely old enough to drive, so I was probably seventeen, eighteen -- I remember going to Aberdeen, Washington, Hoquiam, Washington, Portland, to meet him where he was in port for two or three days. He was an engineer, so when the ship, on the seas he was busy, but when the ship docked he didn't have to do anything, he was free for two or three days. So he, they allowed him to leave the ship and we'd bring him home. I remember my dad saying, "We'll take you sightseeing." So we started out, went to Woodland Park and drive around and, I guess he didn't want to hurt my dad's feeling so my brother says, "Well, I'd rather just go home and sit down and talk." He said, "I've been all over the world, all the major ports in the world." He named off all the major ports, London, in Europe and Asia. So he said he's seen all the sights he wanted to see, and nothing is new. He said, "I haven't got, we haven't got much time to talk, so let's go home." So, we'd cut the trips short by a half a day. That only happened once, and after that, we didn't try to take him to see the sights. Because he said, "I've been all over the world."

SN: And, what about your other brother?

SH: Other brother didn't... he stayed in Japan and he never did anything much. He lived 'til he was ninety-two, though. Both of my brothers lived 'til, into their mid-nineties.

SN: Now, was this a common thing? Because it sounds like your two brothers were a little bit older when your parents left Japan -- was it common for the Issei generation to leave older kids behind when they immigrated?

SH: I don't, don't think it was very common. I haven't met very many people who had a brother sixteen or, fifteen or sixteen years older, but I guess my dad wasn't able to call my wife, his wife over here sooner.

SN: Was that difficult not growing up with your brothers? You had these two older brothers in Japan?

SH: The first time he come over and I met him, and I knew he was a brother, but it seemed like it was meeting an uncle because of the age difference.

AI: And you were born in 1919?

SH: 1919, in Seattle, right close to here.

SN: So this one brother that remained in Japan -- I know that you had a chance to see the other brother who worked for the company and got to travel the world -- you didn't get to see him as often?

SH: I didn't get to see him until quite later when I first went to Japan.

SN: I'd also like to go back and ask you a little bit about the Furuya Company. Because my understanding is that that's a company that employed quite a few of the Isseis in the Seattle area. Can you tell me a little bit about that company?

SH: I don't know too much about the company. There's probably people in Seattle that know more about Furuya and Company. All I know is that it was an importing/exporting firm.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: So then, you were, let's see, about how old were you when your father got tired of his job and decided to start farming? When was that?

SH: I was very young. I was probably three or four.

AI: And, and that, was that the time when he decided to move to Bellevue? Or how did your parents...

SH: My dad lived in Seattle, and when he decided to go to farming he moved to a community, a little community, at that time called Sunnydale. I don't know if the area still goes by that name, it was just a little farming community between Des Moines and South Park. He farmed there for, I would say 1928. He moved from there to... no, yeah, 1928, he moved to Bellevue. And he lived there 'til he passed away. And I lived there in Bellevue until evacuation.

AI: Can you tell a little bit about what it was like living in Bellevue in those days?

SH: Well, there was probably twenty-five families, I recall. And eventually they started a Japanese Association Hall, all made by voluntary labor, no public money in it at all. There were two or three farmers that were carpenters in Japan, and so, without hiring any, any other help outside of the Japanese community, they built the hall. And then a few years later they built a two-room Japanese language school. And it was a center of activity for the Japanese community. The Japanese language school was built right next door to it a few years later. I went to, grade school days, I went to the daytime, but as us kids grew older and started working, couldn't go on Saturdays -- there used to be Saturday language, Japanese language school -- so they decided to have evening classes. So, when I got into high school, I went to evening classes. The instructor came from Seattle and, I think it was a good thing. Without that language school, I wouldn't have been able to converse with my parents that well.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: So, can you also tell us, describe your farm? If you could kind of think back and have a mental picture of what it looked like, maybe during one of the seasons.

SH: Well, the farm that my dad had was -- he didn't own the land, he was leasing a 10 acre farm and he grew mainly... well, the first year that he leased the land, it was already being farmed. All 10 acres were in strawberries. And when my dad moved from Sunnydale to Bellevue, he had never raised strawberries, he didn't know anything about strawberries. He was used to raising lettuce, and peas, and celery, cauliflower, all types of vegetable. So, 'course, moving there in the middle of winter in December, that spring, one year he harvested strawberries. It was very cheap. Prices fluctuated so much. And it happened to be the year, being '28, '29, Depression, he could hardly give strawberries away, and that's all he had, 10 acres of it. So, he kinda got discouraged and mad and the following spring he plowed... that following, that fall he plowed the whole 10 acres of strawberries up. Lo' and behold, the next year, strawberries were high priced. So, he went back and replanted a couple acres of the ten into strawberries and he raised strawberries after that. Every year we had a couple extra strawberries. Then he raised, started... he introduced raising lettuce, peas, and celery, cauliflower in Bellevue. Until then, they didn't raise those crops. And then, pretty soon they all raised.

AI: And, where was your 10 acres located? Could you describe a little bit about that area, some of the geography?

SH: The farm, you mean?

AI: Yes.

SH: The farm, the land that we farmed and our neighbors farmed, was just east of Lake Sturtevant. We used to call it "Midlakes," us kids did, and that was a popular name, I believe. You ask people in Bellevue, "Do you know where Lake Sturtevant is?" and over than half the people probably wouldn't know. But if you said, "Midlakes," everybody knew. And we farmed around it. We irrigated out of that lake. The lake is still there. The farmland that we farmed and my neighbor farmers is all under concrete and blacktop now. The only reason I know where it is because the lake hasn't been moved and it's still there.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Could you describe what a typical day would be like for you? Say, for example, when you were in high school, because it sounds like you had quite a bit of work to do at, on the farm and you had the school.

SH: Oh yes. When I was in high school, we worked, my younger sisters and I worked, even before going to school. I, my father passed away in 1940, so between, for a few years there I was taking a load of produce to Seattle before school. And, we all had to, I was no exception, every family in Bellevue that farmed, the Nisei, at the young age, all worked hard. There wasn't a family that didn't. And I think it didn't hurt 'em any to learn hard work. We had to start working at a very young age. Nowadays, I wouldn't think, I wouldn't think of telling my son, "Go take a truckload of produce to Seattle," when he was thirteen years old. But I used to do that from age thirteen, no driver's license. And I drove every, six days a week to take a load of produce into Seattle wholesale market, and made it home before, in time to go to school at nine o'clock.

AI: Then you'd go to school all day?

SH: Go to school all day and come back and then soon after school, start, help finish up for, to make the next day's load and load it up and work until nine, ten o'clock at night, I remember, some nights. And first thing in the morning, I used to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to go and get it all done before school. I don't think everybody in Bellevue did this. Most of the families had a transfer firm come in evening, pick up the load of whatever it was they wanted to send to certain marketing places. If we had a stamp, and put your name on it, wrote out a bill of lading, and a transfer outfit would come and pick it up and deliver, and then the produce house would pay the farmers by mail. We had a truck, so I hauled it myself. It was, wouldn't have been much cheaper, but if you take a, sometimes you, there was not enough left after what they sold it for to pay just the express fee.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

SN: You were talking about your father leasing 10 acres of land, initially, when they went to Bellevue? Could you explain why they could not purchase land?

SH: He could have purchased the land, he just didn't have the money to buy the land. There was only about $500 difference what my dad offered, he told me later, and what the man owned it wanted to sell it for. Now, $500 today is... week's pay for some. But $500 was the difference, and he said, "Well, if you want that much, I'll just lease it." So he leased it so many years, and never did buy it. If he had've, it would've been nice... if he was able to buy it. But, I guess at that time they didn't have that kind of terms, $500, say a $100 a year, now that's be more like $100 a week. I'm talking about 1926, '7, '8, right during the Depression, so he said, "Okay, I'll just lease it." And he never did... he ended up paying over the price that he wanted for several times, at $300 a year lease.

SN: And, was this typical for other Issei farmers?

SH: It's not typical. Half of the farmers, or more than half, probably owned their land. The other percentage, I don't know what the percentage split is, I would say, 60 percent owned, and 40 percent leased or rented the land, from what I could remember, what I've heard.

SN: And, my understanding was that the Issei could not purchase land. Do you know if they were able to buy this land? How did they, how did other farmers purchase this land?

SH: When their oldest child became old enough, eighteen I think it was, they purchased it in their offspring's name, son or daughter. Lot of titles were in the daughter, the oldest was a daughter, well, the title, they could buy it in their name.

SN: This is due to the alien land laws during that time?

SH: Right.

SN: Did he actually have to clear the land?

SH: No, my dad didn't have to clear the land. The first Isseis that started farming in Bellevue area cleared the land.

SN: Do you know how they did that?

SH: No, I'm not familiar with it. The people... they used a lot of dynamite to clear the stumps and stuff. And I have heard of people getting hurt pretty bad, some accidents, blasting accidents. I'm surprised the kind of work they had to do with the limited knowledge that they had, when they first started. And the farms in Bellevue were as good as any farm in the area, in the state, western Washington.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

SN: If I could, I'd like to go back to having you describe the daily community a little bit more. Now, earlier you said there were approximately twenty-five families in Bellevue?

SH: Twenty-five to thirty families, yes.

SN: Can you describe a little bit more about what that community looked like? For example, like, were the farms, the Japanese farms right next to each other, or were they separated? If you could go into a little more detail.

SH: They were grouped together, not by necessity, but by the availability of land. There was three major areas, we call it Bellevue, I lived in the middle section, middle portion, between Bellevue, present-day Bellevue and Lake Washington, Medina area, it's still called Medina. There was seven, eight farmers there. There was a couple of greenhouses. And where I lived, there was seven farms in a row. And then further east, there was another area, another seven or eight farmers all in a row, 10, 12 acre tracts. Those were the three major areas. There were some that was off by themselves. If one farmed there and the ground was pretty good, then the farm, somebody came there, and, you know, they grouped together. The Japanese, Isseis especially, were... liked to be not by themselves, I mean, a community, a little community.

SN: So it sounds like you had a Japanese language school, and I think you said you had a clubhouse that the Issei...

SH: Had a what?

SN: I want to say a clubhouse, but maybe that's not the right word. Oh, I'm sorry, you called it a public hall.

SH: Yes. Our parents had to have a meeting place, and so they built a Japanese Association Hall, they called it. All by donated labor, they did buy the lumber. But there was a couple of good carpenters from Japan, I mean, so they didn't have to hire a carpenter, they just built that with all by volunteer labor. And it served as a Buddhist church. And then when the Seinenkai, young people's club was formed, we put on plays in the winter, to raise money. We held, it was big enough, almost regulation to have a basketball floor on it, and we played basketball there in the winter and put on shows, shibais and stuff in the wintertime to raise money. And then a few years after the association hall, the parents decided we need to have a Japanese language school, so they... keep the offspring learning a little bit about the language instead of all English, they couldn't communicate otherwise. So, they built a two-room schoolhouse. It was, school was on Saturday, and Saturday evening school. And then, little later on, they had an evening language school during the week also.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

SN: And, can you tell me a little bit more about the other businesses that were in Bellevue? I'm just trying to get an idea as to how self-supporting the community was. You talked about, like the public hall, and the schools and the farms. Were there other Japanese-run businesses in the area that you can tell me a little bit about?

SH: Yes, there was a... the farmers got together and decided to build a co-op. Today, it would be called a co-op. They built and called a... the group, the Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association, Inc. They built their own shed on, on a railroad siting, and they did hire a Caucasian plant manager, shed manager, but they shipped cauliflower, peas. Mainly the products were cauliflower and peas. Strawberries weren't shipped. Strawberries were hauled daily to the Seattle Public Market, or Seattle wholesale houses.

AI: Speaking of strawberries, I think you had mentioned at an earlier time, that there were a lot of strawberry growers among the Japanese farmers. Can you tell a little bit about that?

SH: Yes. I would say most of the strawberry... well, all of the strawberries in Bellevue was grown by Japanese. There were very few, if, any Caucasian farmers that raised strawberries that I, I could recall. We furnished the strawberries free to the Bellevue Strawberry Festival, which was an annual fair. I don't know if... do they have it now?

AI: Well, now, I heard that it was stopped during World War II.

SH: Oh.

AI: Perhaps that was because...

SH: Because they didn't get the strawberries. It was an annual affair.

AI: And, did the entire Bellevue community attend, both Caucasian and...

SH: Yes, uh-huh, both Caucasian and... It was a much awaited, anticipated affair, it was about the biggest thing that was happening in Bellevue in those days, I'm talking about in the '20s through the '40s. But after the evacuation, the farmers left and didn't come back. I think that's about the time the Strawberry Festival ended in Bellevue. It was a well-known festival at that time. People came from all around.

AI: Well now, also, speaking of before the war, can you tell me a little bit more about the relations in general between the Caucasian community and the Japanese American community?

SH: Oh, I think that it was probably... I would say we didn't have any trouble, I don't recall. There was once in a while, somebody would make some wisecrack, or call us "Japs." I've been in a few fights because of that. I was fortunate to have a little judo. I didn't mention earlier in the interview, but we did have a judo club. And about a half of those that were eligible showed up, took judo lessons for several years up until we left. I was fortunate, I did it until I got a first-degree black belt, and I have used it only once, that was to protect myself. One day while I was still going to high school -- I was in senior year -- there used to be a, just like in any school, it was a bully. He'd always pick on me because I was smallest in the class. So one recess, he, he picked on me, he kept picking on me every day. And we used to take the same bus to school, and he'd work on me on the bus, and I kept up, tried to protect myself. But in the meantime I was learning judo. And, I think in my senior year I got a black belt, shodon rank. So, in school one day he came around the corner to school and started the same thing, and I picked him up and threw him over my head and sat on him and choked him until he gave up. And, you know what happens in a schoolyard fight, every kid, they come around and gather round. Once the principal heard about it, we got called up and called on the carpet, and I think I had to stay after school for a whole week, hour or so after school. But the kids saw that happen and nobody bothered me after that incident. That was my... about middle of my senior year in high school.

AI: So it sounds like that was a, that one particular guy was a bully, but in general, relations were good?

SH: In general... I would say, I've met other people from other parts of the state during the time I was in camp and it seems that our relations in the community were probably better than most.

AI: And in your high school class, about what number of Japanese Americans were there in comparison with the rest of the class?

SH: I graduated in the class of '37, Bellevue High School, and I think there was, ten or eleven were Japanese Americans.

AI: Out of a total of...

SH: Fifty.

AI: And, were there any other ethnic minorities at that time, in your class?

SH: There was one Armenian. That was about all. There was no African American in our class at that time. That was class of '37.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, now I wanted to ask you a little about your plans for after high school. When you were in high school, what did you think you would be doing after you graduated?

SH: I wanted to go to college. I wanted to go to college but my dad passed away right after I, a year after I got out of high school, two years after I got out of high school. So I became the head of the family, I had a farm to run, so my plans of going to college ended there. One of my teachers said, "You ought to go to college." He kept telling me in my senior year, "You ought to go to college." I said, "I know, I'd like to go. But," I said, "I can't." He said, "Why can't you?" "I got to take care of my mother and my two younger sisters and keep the farm going. I can't go and I can't afford to go." He quit telling me to go to school. But I remember this man, particularly. He was my chemistry teacher, and he said, "You should go to school, high school," -- I mean, college. "You should go to college," and, "It's close, it's the University of Washington, you should go." I would have liked to have gone, yes, but I kept farming until the war started.

SN: You said that you had two younger sisters and that your father had passed away. And it sounds like that, you were primarily the person who was running the farm?

SH: Yes.

SN: I just want to get an idea as to what, like the roles of what people did on a farm. Like, I'm assuming that you had to run the farm because you were the only son and the oldest son, at least in the United States.

SH: I didn't get the last part.

SN: You were the only son.

SH: I was the only son, yes.

SN: You were the only son to run... and then what were your sisters doing? What kinds of things did they do on the farm?

SH: They were both two years apart from me, and they finished high school, both of them finished high school. And, by the time my younger sister finished high school, she graduated class of '40, so one year later the war started. So they went to camp with me. We stayed together in camp, my mother, my two sisters and myself, until I got married. And, then I got an apartment myself.

SN: So, what type of things did they actually do on the farm, your mom and your sisters?

SH: Oh, they helped pick the strawberries. They did all the work, packed tomatoes. And during the summer did all the hand labor, weeding and stuff.

SN: So, it's basically a family-run.

SH: Family-run, yes. The only hired help was we hired strawberry pickers from Seattle. During, and it was handy because strawberry season was June, most of June, and just about time school let out. We had youngsters from Seattle come and we gave 'em room and board, it was... they stayed, they couldn't commute from Seattle to pick strawberries. And, I have hired as many as a hundred strawberry pickers, but that was a little later. That wasn't when I first started farming.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

SN: I'd like to kind of go into that process a little bit more, because a hundred strawberry pickers to me sounds like an awful lot. Now, you talked about your farm being 10 acres initially. Did this farm grow over the years?

SH: Well, if you have 5 acres of strawberries, you need a hundred or more pickers during the peak season. And we hired schoolkids around this community. It needed a lot of pickers. The rest of the time we did it ourselves... other crops, handled other crops ourselves.

SN: And, how much were strawberry pickers paid at that time?

SH: You know, I forgot, but it was very small amount. We were only getting... when we picked and sent it to the canneries, we were getting 5... 4, 5, 6 cents a pound. I don't know. It came out probably a cent a pound for picking. I can't remember how much it was for picking.

SN: Can you describe a little bit about how the produce that came from your farm made it to market? I know you described that at thirteen years of age taking the produce to the market on your own. But, can you describe that process from beginning to end, let's say from the time that the vegetables are picked, how did it get to market, both strawberries or vegetables?

SH: My dad was one of the first farmers in Bellevue. In fact, he was the first one to buy a truck to haul it ourselves. Other farmers, there was a, an express service, came around every evening around six or after, and picked up whatever was the farmer wanted to, had harvested that day. He'd write out a ticket, so many crates of strawberries to certain produce house by name. And these produce house, by the way, were what they called commission merchants. They, they, we consigned it to 'em. We were at their mercy. We consigned it to 'em. They never bought it directly, like they do now. So, they got what they could and then they took a charge of 15 percent. So it was 85 percent back to the farmer from the selling price, wholesale selling price. But, lot of times you didn't get that. And, sometimes the farmers that never went with, or never delivered themselves, were told that, "Well, we had to throw a third of 'em away, we couldn't sell strawberries that day that we received them. They were overripe, or they weren't very good." So the next day... strawberries have to be used that day you pick 'em, you all know that. If it stayed overnight, it was no good anyway. So they say, "We dumped 'em all." So we didn't get paid anything, but we still had to pay the 10 cents a crate or so, whatever it was for the freight, and we never got paid. I think the farmers at that time were at the mercy of the commission merchants. I know that some of them never got what they were supposed to get. But I hauled my own. And I didn't get paid at the time of delivery, we still had to wait once a week to get paid. Most of the farmers, Bellevue and through the valley, White River valley farmers, Vashon Island... Vashon, straying from the subject, but, Vashon and Bainbridge Island, there were farmers. And they raised mostly strawberries and cane berries. They didn't raise lettuce and celery and that kind of stuff, because of the transportation difficulty.

AI: Now, cane berries, can you give some examples?

SH: When I say cane berries, it's raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, that grow on canes, differential. It doesn't mean one variety, but when you say cane berries, it's, they're trained, they don't let 'em grow wild on the ground, they had to be trained to grow up.

SN: And then you just... before, you were saying how the Issei farmers were at the mercy of these people who bought the produce. To the best of your knowledge, did they ever try to do anything about that? To me it would have been very difficult, but, sometimes you hear stories.

SH: Yes. After a few years, they started growing stuff that they couldn't sell enough, I mean, there were too many to be sold. There wasn't a market for all that they were... the farmers in Bellevue, without counting the other area farmers. So, a few of the farmers got together and formed a vegetable growers' association. And they built a packing shed, hired a plant manager, and whenever produce, like cauliflower was in season, peas in season, they shipped it back east. And that helped relieve the overproduction, overproduction by, I mean, selling it locally. So, in lot of the produce, like I mentioned, were sold back east, Chicago and further east.

SN: So the Issei farmers formed this, like you said, this co-op...

SH: Co-op, uh-huh...

SN: ...Japanese-run shed. Is this the shed you were referring to earlier that was actually run by a Caucasian manager? This is the shed?

SH: The plant manager, yes.

SN: Okay. So was this in response to their experiences working with the buyers for this produce initially before they formed this?

SH: Uh-huh.

SN: Now, when you were taking your berries -- because your situation was different, you said your dad had a truck and you were able to actually bring the berries into town. Can you just describe what your experience was, in terms of what you did with the produce after you trucked the strawberries into town?

SH: I still consigned, I couldn't get them to, to say, give you a receipt saying so many crates of berries at and quote a price on there, a guaranteed price. Couldn't get 'em to do that. It was just, everybody consigned it. And whenever the product, the produce was scarce, well you get a better price for it than if there was a glut on the market, then you didn't get very much. And I know there's a lot of times that they, I never got paid at all for a load of produce. They'd say that they couldn't sell it. It got too old and they had to throw it away. But... that was just the system, it just never seemed to change.

SN: And beside, you make references to strawberries. Did you grow anything else? Did your family grow anything else besides berries?

SH: Besides strawberries? Did I grow? Yes, I was growing tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, half of my farm was in crops like that, and the other half was strawberries. But I cut down the strawberry acreage, after my dad died, I cut my strawberry acreage down. One thing about strawberries, you have to plant 'em this spring, and you have no harvesting of strawberries until the following spring. So, the first year it took two years for one year's production. Strawberry plantings were good for two, three, four years, that was about the limit. After four years -- which is three pickings -- you plowed 'em up and replanted. The berry, the fruit got smaller and smaller every year. The plants got older and bigger, but the fruit got smaller. Strawberries were the nicest and the biggest, prettiest the first year you picked them after planting. I have years that I kept a portion of a field that was good yet, and picked them for four years, which was a five-year-old plant. But most farmers picked it three years, then plowed them over and replanted again.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, it sounds like you were very busy with running the farm and being the head of the family. But, when you and I were speaking earlier, you mentioned that you did have some time to get involved with some community activities, such as the JACL.

SH: We didn't form a JACL in Bellevue until the war started. But, we had activities. We had baseball team. We formed, prior to the JACL we had what they call, it's a Japanese name, a Seinenkai, a young people's club. We had baseball teams, basketball teams, both men and... the girls only with the basketball team, the girls didn't play softball or baseball. The boys played baseball, and baseball was the most popular. The leagues, we were league members, member of a league. And at that time, the Japanese American Courier newspaper -- community newspaper started and operated by James Sakamoto in Seattle -- had different leagues. And in baseball, we had as many as three classes, there were so many teams. We had A class, AA class, A class, B class, C class, four different league divisions, so many. And that was popular all summer. It covered from Tacoma to Seattle and Bainbridge Island. It kept us busy... kept us out of trouble. Lot of, well, most of the good players in their high school days played for their local high schools. I know some of them made all-conference in their areas. But after high school, we had your different area teams in baseball. There was no Japanese or Nisei football league after... they played football in high school, but we never had a football league. We had basketball league and baseball leagues, that kept us, most of us, busy and occupied and out of trouble. I could imagine what it would be if we didn't have an organized plan like this. The leagues were all sponsored by the Japanese American Courier. We just called it Courier League for short those days. It was the foresight of... as most of you people know, Jimmy Sakamoto was blind, but he knew that he needed to have some kind of a program to keep them out of mischief. You never had any, I never heard of any Nisei kids getting into trouble with the law. Because we was occupied with, especially the farm kids, 'cause we had to work, and had the weekend off. It was a little different in Seattle, but I'm not too familiar with Seattle people.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Well, now I'd like to take us to the fall of 1940. Because you mentioned you had a lot of changes in your family at that time. I think you mentioned that your mother went to Japan for a visit, in the fall of 1940?

SH: Yes. My mother -- having never been back to Japan after leaving there -- went for a visit right after Thanksgiving of 1940. And she was... my dad died while my mother was in Japan, and it so happened that it was... he died on December 31st, morning of December 31st, which is New Year's Day in Japan. And, my family friends hesitated to send a wire saying my dad passed away to my mother, see. But he said we'd better do that, let her know, make plans to come back. She hadn't planned to come back right away. But because of the threat of war at that time and everything, she couldn't come back right away. It was end of February before she was able to come back. For two months she couldn't come back, and my dad passed away. We held a funeral and I embalmed his body, until she came back. And then we had to do funeral rites for my... they did such a good job, it just looked like the day he died. And my mother was real happy that I had... didn't have a funeral and like most funerals, they were all cremation. So, I was the head of the family, I had two younger sisters. And, we managed, thanks to the neighbors and good friends, and until my mother did come back.

AI: Well, so at that time, you already knew there was the threat of war.

SH: There was talk, there was talk. War didn't start until nineteen... let's see, December 7, 1941. That right? '41, yeah. This was in the spring of '40, so it was a year... there was some talk going on at that time.

AI: Do you remember how you heard about Pearl Harbor? What you were doing, how you heard about it?

SH: Oh, I sure do remember that. Came over -- we had no TV, of course. We had a, I had a small radio, shortwave radio, and I think it was eight o'clock Sunday morning -- and it came over the radio. And then, just about that time my neighbor came over and tell me, "Hey, did you hear what happened?" And I said, "Yes, I heard." He said, "We're in trouble." Sure as heck it was, because we had to leave. There was nothing we could do. Right away we were limited. A curfew was put on all persons of Japanese ancestry, and we couldn't travel over 5 miles from our home. And, I think it was from six to six, the hours, daytime that we couldn't be out after dark. If you're living in Bellevue we couldn't go to Seattle, had to get a special permit to go to Seattle.


AI: Well, you were telling us that soon after Pearl Harbor there were restrictions put on your movement, as Japanese, Japanese Americans, and curfew. How did this affect your farming?

SH: As you know, being war started December, farming, there was no farming being done when the war started. But we weren't evacuated until May. The Bellevue area was mid-May, and the government told us to keep farming like you were, right along, keep farming, do everything you do, preparations from December. And we had planted in the plants in the greenhouse, we bought the seed and fertilizer, spring came along and we start to plant. And just about everybody -- I don't know of any that didn't -- we were hoping against hope that we wouldn't be evacuated. So, we planted like it was going to stay... I did. And just about everybody did. I never heard anybody that didn't start their farm like I did. But it was mid-May before we left. We left our... Bellevue left a little later than the rest of the areas, surrounding area.

AI: Before we get into the actual leaving, I wanted to also back up and ask you, even at the time that you first heard about Pearl Harbor, you mentioned that you thought, "Oh, we're in trouble now." Can you say a little bit about that?

SH: My reason for thinking that is, is that they could pick us out so easily. And, so we would be associated with the Japan, who would be the enemy to the Caucasian people in the whole country. That I figured that there would be some adverse, hoping it wouldn't be, but they could pick us out so easy. And people, ignorant people, didn't make the distinction between people in Japan and us Niseis in this country. They just figured we were just like, since we were Japanese and looked like them, they figured we were enemies, a lot of them did. And so I did worry that, because of the fact that they could tell who we were. I had heard, I had actually seen the sign. But the people in, in Seattle, International District, at that time... the Chinese people wore labels, sign here saying, "I am Chinese," because a lot of Caucasians couldn't distinguish between Chinese and Japanese. If they were Chinese, I guess they weren't an enemy alien, or most of our parents, or all of our parents, were enemy aliens, at that time, classified as. 'Course, we were citizens by birth, but that didn't make any difference. It was... I didn't feel too much prejudice, but in a small community like Bellevue, we knew, everybody knew everybody else in, through school, see. But in your metropolitan centers, that wasn't true all up and down the coast. The Japanese people weren't as well-known to the Amer-, the Caucasian community. I don't recall of any incidents in Bellevue.

AI: Even, between December and May you...

SH: No. No.

AI ...don't recall incidents?

SH: No, I don't recall any.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: So then, you were starting to tell us what happened in May.

SH: Pardon?

AI: You were starting to tell us about what happened in May. That, how did you hear about that evacuation was going to happen?

SH: They had what they called an executive order, signed by the President. And it was publicized, it was posted on, in the cities, it was posted on the telephone poles, printed in the papers, and all the restrictions were publicized. And from the time that the war started until we were evacuated, it was about five months, some thought we would be left alone. By "left alone," I meant we wouldn't be evacuated, and the other group said no, we're going to be told to go inside into, into the interior, and which did happen.

AI: So even though you had been encouraged as farmers to keep farming, planning for your whole year of farming and you had planted and prepared, and things were well underway for the spring... and what happened?

SH: I got paid by... they formed what they called a War Relocation Authority, a government authority. And representatives of them locally had the authority to settle with each individual farmer for the produce, for the plants that were growing. Each individual farmer got negotiation, and got a price for the crop. We didn't have time to sell the land. Even those that owned the land didn't have time to sell it. But I remember selling my, I averaged about, on the 10 acres, about a hundred dollars an acre, which was very little for all the work we put into it. And, in fact the day I left, they came to harvest some lettuce that I had sold to them. That was about the first thing that they would harvest. I had thirteen acres all planted, some, some kind of plant. And I got a thousand dollars, cash, for the 13 acres. That's all I left home with. Well, no, I didn't get to leave home with that, I had to finish paying off some seed and fertilizer bills. I don't think I had but half of that left to my name when I left the home.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Can you tell us about that day that you left, what it was like?

SH: Yes. You know, we were given orders to be at a certain spot, which was a railroad siting, right close to what is Kirkland today. All the people in the Bellevue Japanese community were to assemble there with... we were allowed a suitcase apiece and one duffel bag per family for bedding. They said to have your bedding, blankets and pillows, but family of five, four or five, you couldn't get it all in one duffel bag, but that's what we were limited to. But I remember carrying a small, what would be today an overnight case. And that's all we left home with. And at a given time, they all, I don't think anybody failed to appear at that point, that place in Bellevue. At least if they did, I never heard about it. I've heard of places that somebody didn't go, stayed behind. And, it was an old train and it... traveled by night. During the day we're out, side-tracked where the main line, passenger lines, freight line, traveled during the night most of the time. With the blinds drawn, we couldn't see out, and I'd look and peek once in a while. But, old train just... took us four days, from Bellevue to Pinedale. Four nights, four days, because of stopping, during the half of the time we were stopped, half of the time we was going.

AI: So on that day, you had to just pack a few things, you had a few things packed, and you had to leave everything else.

SH: Yeah, just, if you didn't have time to dispose of it, you just had to leave it behind. I left everything behind, household goods, such as they were. At that time they were nothing fancy, but I mean, chairs, tables, beds, kitchen utensils, stoves... left everything. And when I came back, it was all gone... it wasn't gone, but there was a man in there that leased the farm, which was all right in my case, I was leasing it too, I didn't own it. But I said, "I came for my stuff that I left behind." And a lot of it I had under lock and key -- tools. He says, "You can't take that." He says, "It's mine." He said, "I bought it from the government." I said, "Who'd you buy it from?" "From the government." I said, "The government didn't own it, it's mine." So he goes back into the house and he comes back out with a long list of stuff that he bought, and it's a government bill of sale on there, marked "paid in full." So he said, "You can't touch it." I wasn't able to touch it, I never got paid for it. I probably could have sued the government, but I wouldn't have gotten any more out of it, it wouldn't have gotten anything, it wouldn't be ahead anything anyway. It probably would have cost more than what it was worth, to hire a lawyer and all this stuff. That happened to, a lot of cases, I don't think it happened to all... some were more fortunate. But this party that took over my place... I went back as soon as we were allowed, and that's what happened in my case. So I just gave up... and that is why I settled in Idaho.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, you had just told us a little bit about getting on the train to go to Pinedale, and that it was four nights. Can you tell us a little bit about what that ride was like?

SH: Oh, it was uneventful... slow, take that long. We got fed. But when we reached Pinedale, it was kinda desolate. Flat land, we're not used to real flat land. Hot, it was hot. We were luckier than a lot of the evacuees, in that Camp Pinedale was built from the ground up, new... they didn't take over a racetrack like some in Southern California. Santa Anita was used as a collection point until, temporary housing. I heard of cases where evacuees were put in horse stalls and they hadn't even whitewashed them, or washed them down or anything -- smelly, dirty. But we had a brand new camp. The whole camp was new. But, it was hot, it was nothing to be a hundred plus for that two months that I spent there.

AI: How were you feeling at that time?

SH: Pardon?

AI: How were you feeling at that time? Getting out there, this hot...

SH: Oh, it was hot. We stayed wherever we could find some shade. Stayed inside most of the time, but no, no air conditioning, no fans. But we got fed three square meals a day. I, for that short time that Camp Pinedale was in operation, I applied for a job, in the athletic department. They held organized baseball, softball, for the boys and girls. I was married... let's see, yeah, so I took on a job coaching girls softball team for month that we were there. Didn't know anything about it, but they wanted a coach, so I tried... my wife played, so I tried. The stay in there was short, it was just a temporary...

SN: When you were going, first of all, where is Pinedale?

SH: Pinedale is a few miles, I don't know the distances, probably 20 miles north of Fresno, directly north. In the evenings we could see the city lights, the shadow. So I'd say it couldn't be much over 10, maybe, 10 miles. You could see the lights, because it was the only place in the desert there, and it was perfectly flat. In the evening you could see the light shadows up there.

SN: And, is this, where did everyone else from Bellevue go? Was this the assembly center they went to?

SH: After Pinedale, most of us went to Tule Lake. I think the whole group from Pinedale went to Tule Lake. From Tule Lake, they put some into Minidoka and some went to Heart Mountain from Bellevue.

SN: We'll want to go into those things in more detail. So we'll ask you some questions about that later. But most of the people from Bellevue did go to Pinedale, is that right?

SH: Yes.

SN: Now, I'd like to go into a little bit about that train ride a little bit more. You talked about how this was a four day ride and all the shades were down. Do you know why they were drawn?

SH: No. I don't know why they were drawn. We could see out if it wasn't. But nobody, I don't remember seeing any people on the side, except when they went through a town, maybe. We were stopped during the day on the side, sidetrack. I don't know why. But then, there were army guards armed with the rifle. There was at least one to every train.

SN: How did that make you feel, being in a train for four days and you couldn't really look outside, with guards? What was running through your mind at that time?

SH: Well, we just kept wondering where we were gonna go. We didn't know where we was gonna end up. They never told us. Everybody was... there were rumors flying right and left, where we gonna go, what they're gonna do to us. Lot of people, especially Isseis, couldn't understand. And their children couldn't tell them. They got some wild ideas, what's gonna happen to us.

SN: What were some of these wild ideas? Did they ever convey those to you?

SH: Well, they said they were gonna put us in a prison. Put us away and separate the families -- in cases some families were gonna get separated. There was that rumor, which they proved to be rumors because the families were not separated. Those of us from Bellevue, from hearing, talking to people later on, we were more fortunate because we were sent to a -- like I told you earlier -- a nice new camp. Facilities were all new. It was so hot there though, the lumber, the green lumber they used, and it's sun, it got up to a hundred plus, and they were together, but there were cracks like that. And in Pinedale, they poured a concrete -- no, no, concrete would've been all right, but, I mean, too expensive -- tar. And, it was so hot that the army cot legs would sink into that tar that deep. You couldn't move the bed the next day, if you slept on 'em... that hot. But we did get, we had to line up for all meals, there would be a long line. They'd feed one group, so then, they'd take care that line, than there'd be another line. You'd be in line while the other was... you had to wait in line for the people to eat, then you got the chance to go in there and you eat, and people were waiting. The mess hall crew was busy just about all the time. Start in at morning early and mid-morning they're finished, and pretty soon they'd have to start treating lunch group, the first ones fed.

I took a job after we moved to Pinedale, not from Pinedale... from Pinedale to Tule Lake, I got a job in a mess hall. Here, ex-farmer getting a job in a mess hall, and why? I knew I was gonna be sure to get fed. [Laughs] We worked, my wife and I both worked in there. In fact, I worked as a waiter and she worked as a cook's helper. And we always ate first, then we let the block people eat, and they came in about a couple of three shifts. There was two hundred and fifty to a block in the time, block that I was in. And it took about thirty cooks, the chief cook, cooks' helpers, dishwashers, and waiters. We probably had twenty-five to thirty per block. Imagine a farmer like me having to carry, waiter. So you had a plate here, and two plates in this hand, and two in here. I was able to carry about four plates. We set it down for them... they didn't come in line with a plate in their hand like some places did, in this block that we had, we served them already filled plates. The, I recall that the chief cook for our block was a, he was from Tacoma and he had, he was a chef at the Hotel Tacoma, the best hotel in Tacoma at that time. So he was a good cook. But like good cooks, there were... he was really, how would you say... very touchy, very hot tempered. You didn't dare complain about the food.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

SN: This sounds really interesting, and I'd like to go back to it. But, what I'd like to do for the viewers who see this interview, is kinda take you step by step, because this is a very important part of your life, historically very important. So what I'd like to do is maybe start with Pinedale, and then we'll go right into Tule Lake.

SH: Okay.

SN: Because I think it is very important for people to get an idea of what this place looked like. Now, you said that, in comparison to other assembly centers, that Pinedale was relatively new. So, let's start from there. Okay, what happens as soon as you get off the train? What did you see first?

SH: Oh, we saw the barracks. We called them barracks. It was flat, just table flat. We got onto army trucks, and they, from the train siting, they took us to the camp, and we went through the office and was assigned. We told them how many in the family and then we got assigned fancy name apartments.

SN: I'm assuming by your reaction that it wasn't exactly apartment-like. [Laughs]

SH: The apartment number, the apartment number one, barrack number such and such.

AI: And, what did it actually look like, that barrack room?

SH: It was just a bare room. Except for army cots, asphalt floor.

SN: So, you actually had cots in the room when you came in? You didn't have to... for example, we heard some stories where people had to stuff their own mattresses with straw.

SH: No, we didn't have to.

SN: Now, when you first saw the barracks, because this is the first time that you see where you're now going to have to live, and they took you into the army trucks to take you to this area?

SH: Yes, from the train to the camp.

SN: So as you're on the army truck, and you're going towards this camp, what was running through your mind?

SH: Was wondering what kind of a place it was going to be, and how long we were gonna be here. We knew it was hot, we could feel that. That was the main worry, what kind of a place, and what kind of treatment we were gonna get there. And we were treated okay. I, under the conditions I couldn't... you know, I was against the... really mad about having to be evacuated, with no trial, no accusations, we didn't do anything wrong. But long as we had a place... it was, it was new, everything was built new from the ground up. People from Seattle were sent to Puyallup fairgrounds -- horse stalls, and whatever buildings they had, fairground buildings -- nothing was brand new like we were.

AI: Was Pinedale fenced? When you were on the truck getting to the actual Pinedale center, did you go through fencing? Or how did you arrive, do you remember what that was like?

SH: I don't remember too much, but we went there by train, then from the train to the actual camp, it was a short truck, army truck, ride.

AI: And were... did you get any instructions once you got there, or was it just very obvious that you weren't going to be leaving?

SH: Oh, we knew that we weren't gonna be leaving. They said they were gonna, you gonna be assigned barracks and they put us in army trucks with army guards. It was a short ride from the railroad siting to the... they had that figured. They built it close so where they won't have to build a railroad, the railroad was already there. And made sure that there wasn't any buildings, any farms, any people too close by. They went through a lot of work, nobody really give 'em any trouble. I heard of one or two cases. I heard of one being shot and killed, and it was an older man. This was in Tule Lake. It was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and, this was later on, he, he had a dog and his dog got away from him and went under the fence, so he didn't think nothing of it. He went chasing after his dog and a guard thought he was trying to escape or something -- they had guard towers -- and shot. And he was killed. That's a one that I have confirmed, that he was shot and killed. And he wasn't trying to run away. He couldn't go very far out in that desert. They should know better. Then they're saying that these guards were to protect us, in the guard tower. But if you look at the pictures, and I remember seeing and you look out at the guard towers, they didn't have the guns pointed away from the camp, there were guns pointing, and they were looking in to the camp. They didn't have to have guns looking into the camp, we didn't have any arms or anything, no way. It would foolish to try to get away from there anyway. And they should have known that this old man, he wasn't trying to run away, he was chasing after his dog. Felt real bad about it when I heard that. So, everybody was real particular and very careful that they wouldn't even go near a fence. And the fence was real close to the outside perimeter cam, cottages, or whatever you call 'em. Call 'em cottage after you got to a better camp, but this was barracks, army type barracks. Main thing I didn't like was it was so hot. Coming from the Northwest, to go down in that hundred plus temperature, without air conditioning, it was hard on us. It was hard on older people. There were people that were, health weren't too good, but they did have hospital.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SN: Can you describe a little bit about how this whole change in climate impacted peoples' health? Can you describe how the change in climate coming from the Pacific Northwest, going to this hot desert area impacted people's health? How did it affect them?

SH: I don't know, I don't remember hearing how it affected them, but it affected them mainly because they couldn't stand the heat. It was hard on older people, it real hard on older people. My mother was sixty, sixty, I think, at the time. It was hard on her, just because of the heat that she couldn't stand. They all used fans, or we used just newspaper made into a fan. And besides being hot, it wasn't very breezy. If you had a little breeze, but it wasn't very, there was no wind or anything. When it did blow, it was really hard blowing. Blow the sand, sand would just go right into, under the door and through the window, cracks in a wall, sand would, wake up in the morning and under the door there'd be sand.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SN: So, when you, I'm just going to backtrack a little bit. You described the barrack and the cot, and you said earlier that families were allowed, was it one suitcase and one duffel bag of bedding?

SH: Yes.

SN: And that's per family, that's not per one person.

SH: No, duffel bag per family. I suppose a big family's got more than one duffel bag. But, my family of my mother and the four of us had just one duffel bag, four suitcases.

SN: So, the fact that you could only take four suitcases and one duffel bag, how did that affect your packing? What type of things did you take?

SH: We didn't take the good stuff. We knew we were... like a suit, I didn't bring a suit, I had a suit, graduated in, but I didn't bring a suit. Brought just underclothing especially, there was no clothing issued until later. Some people were, I think some people were able to have their hakujin friends... that had friends, send stuff.

SN: So you took underclothing, and what other items did you take?

SH: Personal things. Personal, ladies especially, makeup and all that, they were able to bring. The catalog stores did a tremendous business -- Montgomery Wards and Sears. They sent for catalogs and they were able to order stuff.

SN: So that's how the Nikkei, or Japanese Americans purchased goods out of camp? Through catalogs?

SH: Out of camp, yeah. And they had a camp, each block had a...

SN: Let's talk about, I just want to make sure --

SH: ...canteen, is the term they used.

SN: Let's go through this step-by-step just so that we don't jump around too much.

SH: I tend to jump around quite a bit.

SN: That's okay, that's quite all right. It's our job to kinda... redirect things. That's quite all right. If there's one thing, what was the one thing, that you remember, that you had to leave behind that you really wanted to take with you?

SH: Old pictures, and lot of the clothing you just couldn't pack into a duffel bag and a suitcase.

SN: So, describe these pictures.

SH: Pardon?

SN: What were they pictures of?

SH: Old family pictures. Pictures from Japan that my parents brought or they sent. We didn't take much pictures those days, family pictures, like we do now. I remember owning a small camera. But, everybody has special things, and you know when you can't pack but one suitcase -- and it wasn't a big suitcase, just an overnight case. You didn't get to bring a trunk. So, leaving possessions that you couldn't, you couldn't bring all the possessions that you wanted to. So you had to leave 'em behind. In my case, when I went behind, and nothing was left.

SN: So some of the items that you had to leave behind were, had, like a sentimental value attached to them rather than a monetary value?

SH: Sure.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

SN: Now, let's go back into Pinedale. If you could, can you describe the layout of that assembly center? How were the barracks laid out?

SH: Barracks were laid out in sort of block, so many barracks to a block.

SN: And do you know how many barracks there were?

SH: I don't know exactly how many. But there was enough barracks, and in the middle was a mess hall.

SN: So did each barrack area then have its own mess hall?

SH: Each barrack had about five so-called apartments.

SN: Okay.

SH: And there was around two hundred to a block.

SN: How large were these apartments? One individual apartment?

SH: My family of five, of four, family of four... the room was about 20 x 20. I know the building was 20 foot wide, and then just separated this way, about 20 x 20.

SN: For a family of...

SH: And four cots are laid around you... cot there, cot there, and cot on the side. We hung a rope across there one way and hung blankets, so my sisters and I were separated.

SN: Doesn't sound like a lot of room, 20 x 20, for a group of four or five.

SH: No. 20 x 20, it's not even an average living room.

SN: This closeness, because I would, being so close to your family physically, did this somehow impact the relationship you had with your sisters and your mom?

SH: I imagine it did. My mother and I, we had no problem. I didn't have any problem with my sisters either. We didn't have any problem. But in households that had, prior to maybe evacuation, maybe brother and sister didn't get along, they would've had trouble. I, I never came across or I never heard about 'em if there was, but I'm sure that there was in some cases. We had no problem there.

SN: So, there were, I'm sorry, how many apartments to a barrack, you were saying...

SH: I think there was five.

SN: So you would live in one barrack with, maybe four or five other groups of people?

SH: Right. And, the gables weren't closed.

SN: The gate was...?

SH: The gable, goes through all this way. It was open all the way across, all five. So a baby crying on that far side, you could hear it on the other end of it, too. Or some baby or child fighting and cried in the middle of the barracks there, well, both sides you could hear it 'cause there was nothing to stop that noise coming through. And, in that short time, the heat, extreme heat, they used green lumber, shrank, so there was cracks between the, that barrack, I mean, that apartment and this one. You could see sunlight through the cracks on the out, looking outside.

SN: So it sounds like that privacy may have been an issue, because you already said something about hanging the blankets in your own apartment to kind of separate it. What other things did people do to kind of deal with that issue about maybe not having the sense of privacy?

SH: There wasn't much you could do. We asked for extra blankets and cut some rope and, maybe one across this way and one across this way, and put it into four, four compartments inside of this 20 x 20. Bigger families, if there were six, seven, eight in a family, they got more apartments. If there was only family of three, well, they still got an apartment, what we call apartment, or room for each one.

SN: And were all these apartments same size as 20 x 20, in spite of how large a family it was?

SH: Pretty much, from what I know. Yes, if they had a bigger family they didn't tear out a partition, they just got the next door one.

SN: And you're also talking about the green lumber, and the gaps in the lumber and how the dust used to go underneath the doorway.

SH: Uh-huh. Dust used to blow in...

SN: What did people do to deal with that dust? Did they try to plug up the holes somehow?

SH: There wasn't much you could do. No. There wasn't much you could do about that.

SN: How did your family deal with the, with that? Did you just, constant cleaning? [Laughs]

SH: Sweep it up. There wasn't much use in doing it, but you kept it every day. You'd dust it off, and sweep it off, shake the blankets off. Go back, happen again the next day.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

SN: When, you were saying something about the mess halls a little earlier, so let's just talk about one block. And one block has so many barracks, and there's so many apartments in each barrack. The layout of a typical block, what type of communal buildings were there, like, you talked about a mess hall, what else were there?

SH: They had in middle of the block, they had a building which, they had latrines there, men and women separated, then they had the showers separated. It was in the middle of the block. The block surrounded the mess hall, and the restrooms, latrines, was in the middle. We ate in shifts.

SN: Okay, let's start with the mess hall first, then. You stated earlier that there were I think maybe about 200 people, is that what you had told me?

SH: About 200 people. So there was... probably feed around fifty to sixty people. Well, maybe more than that because they usually did it in three shifts in the block that I lived. Three shifts in the morning, three at noon and three in the evening.

SN: And, what type of food did you typically eat?

SH: Oh, we had eggs, we had hotcakes, we had... it was good enough breakfast.

SN: And who actually worked in these mess halls?

SH: There would be a chief cook, so designated usually from experience. Because, there was a lot of Japanese restaurants, just like there was in Seattle. So everyone that owned a restaurant, they probably were asked. They didn't ask me, 'cause they knew I was a farmer, I guess. But, a lot of the farmers from Bellevue, we worked in the mess hall, I worked in a mess hall, in both camps. So whoever was a cook that had cooking experience, by having a restaurant or something like that, they got the job as chief cook.

SN: So the mess halls, then, were operated by internees.

SH: Yes.

SN: So, can you describe what it was like eating a typical meal with all those people? I'm assuming that you weren't used to this, coming from a small farming family.

SH: Well, you knew certain people, and so it didn't take very long to make a group of people, friends. You didn't, I didn't get to know all the people in my block. I didn't get to know 'em all. But certain people you meet, and some of them you knew, some of them you never knew, and maybe your next door neighbor in this, within the barrack go to eat together. They said, all the people in barracks number one, two, three, four, line up to go and eat. Then, when they come back, well then, the next few barracks and so on down.

SN: Now when you... now you also described one of the communal buildings, the lavatory, the washroom. Can you describe the interior of that? Can you describe the inside of the washroom?

SH: Inside the washroom, they had, I'm not sure they had sinks, maybe there was wooden troughs. They had running water, hot and cold. The latrines, so they were called, there were no partitions. There was just a row of seats with a hole in them or something.

SN: That must have been rather difficult to deal with.

SH: It was really hard for the ladies, for the women... extra hard for the ladies. Yeah.

SN: And the other communal building, I think you described one more, like was there a place to wash clothes?

SH: Yeah, they had a laundry room. Yeah.

SN: Now, was this per block, or was it for every two blocks?

SH: For, block, for that group in there.

SN: Can you describe the interior of the washroom? Can you describe the inside?

SH: I don't recall too much how the washroom was. But, you could use it any time. And sometimes there was line up, just to get a washtub. They did have hot and cold running water, at least in the one where I was.

SN: So if you were in your barrack, and you wanted to have -- it appears, your description of the barrack indicates that there was no plumbing in the barracks, that you didn't have running water.

SH: No.

SN: Describe that process, if you wanted something as simple as water to drink, or...

SH: You had go to the block, center of the block and get the water, bucket of water. There was no plumbing. No plumbing whatsoever. There wasn't even a sink in each barrack, there was just...

SN: So you had your cot? You're describing army cots?

SH: Just an army cot. They had no double beds, in other words. Everybody... you could have put the two cots together, but they were just army cots, standard, GI issue.

SN: Now, were the different blocks separated by any type of fencing?

SH: No fence, but they were spaced so far apart, not real far apart, just... there was a definite pattern. This whole block had so many barracks, another block had so many barracks.

SN: How far were the barracks spaced apart?

SH: I'd say about ten to fifteen feet apart. They weren't right close together. It was about 20 x 20, and probably another 20 feet apart between the next one.

SN: And do you recall how many blocks there were to Pinedale?

SH: I didn't hear the last.

SN: Do you remember how many blocks there were in Pinedale?

SH: No, I don't.

SN: And, you stayed in Pinedale for, how many months?

SH: May, June, July... I stayed there about ten months.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

SN: Before we took a break, you were telling me that you were in Pinedale for ten months. And you described the life, what life was like, the communal life, the lack of privacy, and the conditions that you had to live under... the climate. And that was quite a change from your life before that. How did you feel about this change?

SH: Well, we knew, I knew that there was nothing we could do about it. Wasn't much use in complaining. We just try to make the best of the situation. Tried to keep busy. They had classes, art, stuff like that. I was surprised so many of the Issei, the talents they had. Like your dad, you know, doing stuff like that. You never would even think about people being able to do that. There were lot of hidden talents that, when they were busy, life, coming over here and trying to make a living for the family, you know, and didn't have time. The Isseis enjoyed it, which they deserved. They worked so hard. I can remember my mother and my dad working from daylight to dark, even after dark, seven days a week. And now, when they went to camp they didn't have to worry about working hard to keep the family going, just so they were together. And, they had, some of them, it was a change for them. But the, for us Nisei and Sansei, Nisei at that time mostly, well it was just the idea to be treated like an enemy alien. I did think that I could see why they may want to gather up the Issei, 'cause they were non-citizens, not because they didn't want to be, they were ineligible for citizenship until 1958, '57, '58. And because of the war, well, they had probably had, they might say that they had some right to do that because they were aliens, but then again, it was the United States' fault that they weren't. They wanted to be but they wouldn't let them be. We were citizens by birth so that couldn't be taken away. But I could remember the Isseis -- and they were up in age, forty, fifty, some in sixties -- well they got to take it easy for a while. Some of them enjoyed it.

SN: They displayed hidden talents.

SH: Yeah.

SN: Like what kind of things did they do? What kind of things did they do?

SH: Men played shogi and hana, just, just talk... had so much free time on their hands, I could remember my mother worked so hard, they were just like everybody, like your grandmother worked hard all her life. Those that were farming were -- because of the fact that they weren't, I can't make a blanket statement, but they didn't have the education in Japan, so when they came over here farming was the easiest thing to start because they didn't have to have education as such, just so you's halfway smart. But if you had education you probably went into business, both husband and wife. My mother had no schooling, she didn't get a chance to go to any school. She was what you'd really call illiterate. Couldn't read it, couldn't write it, just speak it. Her younger sisters all had some education. And, in that age group, that of our parents, the Isseis at the time of evacuation, ladies never had a chance to get too much education, especially if they were farmers. If they lived in the cities, then that was a different story. I think my dad said he went to about the fifth or sixth grade, is all, which means that you didn't finish grammar school. He impressed on us that you got to get an education, if you want to better yourself. Unfortunately, he passed away, so, when we were young yet. And so I didn't get a chance to go on to further education. But we all three did graduate high school.

SN: It sounds like your father really influenced you in many ways.

SH: Yes, he did.

SN: What's the...

SH: He was a little different, I say this, he was a little different than the others. He took me fishing 'cause he liked to fish. I could remember my neighbors on both sides in Midlakes and Bellevue, I don't know of any Issei that took their son or daughter fishing, taking trip, my dad always... 'cause he loved fishing so much. And he liked baseball. And he liked judo, so he got me into taking judo. And he was one of the few Isseis that would go to a baseball game out of town. He didn't go when I had to go too far, like to Tacoma, he didn't go. You know, today you go to Tacoma from Seattle, it's a half-hour. From Bellevue, those days it was about a two-hour drive with a pickup truck or truck, go play baseball. I remember going to Tacoma to play baseball on Sundays. But my dad always allowed me to go on Sundays to go and play baseball. Some of the parents wouldn't let them play. Your relatives, they got to play. And, he insisted that we go to Japanese language school, so that we could talk with him. I think that's, that's normal, I think that's natural, too. The more languages you know the better off you are. More schooling you get the better off you are. I did do judo, I think I mentioned this, I, I did it for, ten years, I guess I practiced, what, ten years of judo. Took me that long. It wouldn't have taken me that long if I was older when I started, but I started when I was young, so you gradually got better until I got a black belt. I've only used it once. But it gives me confidence, in case I have to I could protect myself.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, you told us quite a bit about the background, and leading up to the Pinedale assembly center, and describing what life was like in the center and some of your feelings about it. Now I'd like to ask you to go back to that time when you found out you would be leaving Pinedale. What were you told? How did you prepare for leaving Pinedale?

SH: They said that you would be sent to Camp Minidoka on a certain day.

AI: Oh, excuse me, was that Minidoka, or Tule Lake?

SH: Tule... yeah, I'm talking, you're...

AI: When you left Pinedale?

SH: Oh, when I left Pinedale. Pinedale... oh, from Pinedale was to Tule Lake, I almost skipped that. We knew that Tule Lake was in northern California. So we knew that it was going to be, climate was going to be different. But Tule Lake got hot in the summertime, even, as north, as far north as it was. It's right close, it's only 15 miles inside the California border from Oregon. The winters were severe. And the summer was hot, compared for, for people from the Northwest it was quite a contrast in the climate.

AI: What was the trip like from Pinedale to Tule Lake, do you remember that?

SH: You know, I don't really remember so much about the trip, but it was by train.

AI: Another train.

SH: Another train, yes. But I don't remember too much about that, how long it took or...

AI: Do you remember arriving in Tule Lake? What that was like?

SH: Yes, we were told to go to certain apartments. Course, they just drove their army trucks and went over there. I had, I had, I hadn't acquired too much in Pinedale because we were there only a couple of months. But by the time we were ready to leave Tule Lake, I had quite a bit.

AI: So, when you left Pinedale, you only had a few things...

SH: Yeah, and...

AI: You got on the train, went, arrived at Tule. When was that? Was that in summer of '42?

SH: Let's see, have to stop and think. Yes, it was in '42. It was towards fall of '42 that we moved to Tule Lake. And I spent the winter there in Tule Lake. Cold country... you say California, you think all of California isn't that cold, but it was cold in the wintertime. It was really cold.

AI: What were --

SH: Much colder than we were used to in Bellevue in the wintertime. That farther south, you go all the way across Oregon south, and get into California, but the winter was colder there.

SN: How cold was it?

SH: Below zero.

SN: Can you describe what a typical winter day looked like?

SH: Oh, cold, bleak, windy, wind used to blow a lot... sandstorms. They didn't have lawns, they didn't have green grass, it was fine sand. It would blow. It wasn't the... you think of sand of being light colored. The sand there was darker colored. Got into everything. It would come in through the cracks. Forever dusting and shaking stuff, clothing out, because of the dust. I don't know how people live in that country. They were populated there. It hasn't changed much, from the time I recall it. 'Cause I, oh recent as, it's been five or six years ago, went down to California. And on the way home, I said -- I think I told my wife -- I said, "Let's go back through." And I can, it's an unusual... it's a long ways to go. But we were in Reno, when we could have gone straight from Reno to home, to Idaho. Had to cut, from Reno had to go towards California, got into California, Reno's right on the California border close to it. Then drove north through eastern California, and went into Oregon and came back. But I drove right by the old... you could recognize, I could recognize right, 'cause there's a mountain there, "Abalone Mountain," they call that. So you could see that, so you knew it was there. But there's no sign of anything. There's no sign saying that this is the site of the former... I thought they were going to do that, and maybe they have since then. But you look off to the left, highway, I remember the highway, and that's where it was because of the mountain being there. That's the only reason you could tell where it was.

SN: So you described the sand, and what the color it was and how dry it was. Was that, and how hot it was. Like, what was the temperature in the summertime?

SH: At Tule Lake?

SN: Uh-huh.

SH: Tule Lake, the temperature got up to a hundred.

SN: So, you're talking about extremes of a hundred degrees when it's sunny down to below zero...

SH: Below zero.

SN: the wintertime. Did it snow?

SH: Yes, it snowed. Yeah, it snowed. And, it snowed in Minidoka. Minidoka snowed more than it does here, I think.

AI: Before we move on to Minidoka, would you describe what the conditions were like at the Tule Lake Camp? What were the living quarters like that you had?

SH: They were just like the camps in Pinedale, and the future camps in Minidoka. They were just patterned after the army barracks.

AI: And, did you have --

SH: Wooden.

AI: -- and you also had cots, just in one --

SH: Yes, we had cots. No running water, cots.

AI: In Tule Lake, were you there also with your mother and your two sisters? You stayed together?

SH: Yes. But in Tule Lake, before we left, I got married in Tule Lake.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Would you tell us...

SH: I got married in Tule Lake. I was the very first couple to get married in Tule Lake at that time. One other couple on the same Sunday were married. And, we had the bakery came from Klamath Falls and supplied the bakery goods to the whole camp. And we asked the bakery driver, through the canteen manager, wanted a cake, wanted some flowers on a certain Sunday -- I think it was a Sunday we got married on, I can't remember what day we got married on even -- which he did for us. And so, we did have, at least have flowers and had a cake. Being married that year, was 1940... '2, '42. So from those people that were evacuated and put into camp, I was probably one of the first ones to get married.

AI: It must have been difficult planning a wedding while you were in camp?

SH: Well, it was nothing fancy. We did get... and the people that we needed a cake for and everything, everybody didn't get a piece of cake. But just traditional, have a cake. She didn't get a wedding gown or such, anything like that, she wore her best dress. I have a wedding picture, but I lost it, or misplaced it, it's someplace. We did take a picture.

AI: Do you remember where it was held... your wedding, your actual wedding, where it was held?

SH: One of the barracks, I can't remember. Might have been in the mess hall, I don't know. Each block, well, no, not each block, but for a certain area there was, there was a building set aside for religious services -- one of the barracks. And it wasn't in each block, it was probably covered, maybe four blocks or five blocks. It was one of the barracks, or part of the barracks, set aside for different congregations. They did allow that. They didn't prevent Buddhists from having their church if they wanted to.

AI: And, that was your religion?

SH: Uh-huh.

AI: Did they have a, did you have a priest available to perform your...?

SH: No, like I said, I don't know if I said in this question here, but, I considered myself a Buddhist ever since I was a kid. My folks were, and, but there was no Buddhist reverend when we wanted to get married so a Baptist minister from Sacramento married us.

AI: And then did you have any other kind of celebration that day, or...

SH: No.

AI: Did you mention something about having a ride that evening?

SH: Yes, my neighbor, at that time, and you know him, he was, worked for the motor pool. So he had a car available, got a car, and after we had this in the mess hall, we had some cake and some coffee. Well, he said, "I'll take you for a honeymoon." We knew we couldn't leave, so we went inside perimeter of the whole camp, once around I think. That was our honeymoon. I saw him the other day and we laughed about it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

SH: After we got married -- there were several during the remainder of the camp -- my wife just hated camp, she hated to be cooped-up, so to speak, not free to do, where, go where you want to, do what you want to do. We got to do what we wanted to, not what we wanted to do most. We wanted to leave camp and go to work someplace, get, start over again. And, because my, her older sister was in Ontario is how we happened to come out. Because they wrote and said, "Come on out if you can. If they let you out we gonna have lots of work for you." They were short-handed, 'cause all the young men and women were in the service, so the farmers there needed some help.

AI: And that was Ontario, Oregon?

SH: Ontario and Twin Falls area. Eastern Idaho also. But I happened to go to Ontario, it was closer and her sister and brother-in-law was there.

SN: How did that program work? I'll just call it a "work leave" program, I don't know what else to call it. How did you actually apply to be able to do that?

SH: The two big employers were the sugar company plants and they didn't come to hire workers for in the plant, but they came to help the farmers get labor to thin beets, and hoe beets. Everything used to have to be done by hand those days, today it's all done by machine. And they didn't have the labor, period. So they sent couple of men -- two factories came -- sent men directly to Tule Lake at the administration building. And there was notices came out, that if you wanna go out and not afraid to do any farm work, go to barrack so-and-so, in administration area, and get interviewed and get a chance to go out. So they stayed in camp for two, three days and they got all the workers they wanted. Those of us that grew up on farms -- the city people didn't go out, some city people went out that wanted, just want to get out for any reason, but if they did that they run in some hard work they weren't fitted for, and we were used to it.

AI: What months were those that you went out on the work leave?

SH: Pardon?

AI: What, do you remember the, which months you were out on the work leave?

SH: Oh, we left in... April, we went out in April and stayed in, stayed out there 'til end of Octo-, no, end of September. There wasn't any more work to do then.

AI: Both you and your wife were able to take the leave and go up to Ontario?

SH: Uh-huh. Yeah.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: And then, at the end of September when the work was done...

SH: Over... we joined our family that had been moved from Tule Lake to Minidoka. Minidoka's a younger camp in time, than Tule Lake or Manzanar.

AI: Could you explain why your family, your mother and your sisters, had been moved from Tule Lake to Minidoka?

SH: They were moved because they moved everybody from Tule Lake to Minidoka. So they, the government just moved them. Then, after they were moved, they said, join... when you're in the fall you join, you go to Minidoka, you don't go back to Tule Lake. By then I bought a car out there that summer after working, so-called, so that we wouldn't have to go by bus. Old 1955 Pontiac sedan I bought, and it lasted long enough for me to go from there, back into camp after the first summer that I went out to work. My mother and two sisters stayed in camp until they were all allowed to go back to the coast. But they had, we had nothing to go back to, so they didn't go back to Bellevue where they were evacuated from. By that time...

AI: Oh, excuse me, before we go on to that, let's go chronologically. So, end of September, your mother and sisters are already in Minidoka, and you and your wife then return from Ontario, Oregon. Instead of returning to Tule Lake, you go directly to Minidoka, Idaho.

SH: That's right, uh-huh.

AI: And, what did you find there at Minidoka?

SH: How did I what?

AI: What did you find there? Did you have your own room, with you and your wife, or were you rejoined with your mother and sisters?

SH: No, we got a room by ourselves.

AI: And, it sounds like, you mentioned the layout was very similar, in Minidoka.

SH: Very similar. Minidoka was, is not a square camp, it's an odd shape. And the blocks are not all... you know, Tule Lake, you could look from the air and it's just barracks, barracks, barracks, and is a square, rectangular pattern. But, Tule Lake, I mean, Minidoka's got this way, area here, and then some barracks this way and some barracks this way, and they weren't in a grid like the others were because of the terrain.

AI: Could you describe that terrain a little bit, the geography, what it looked like around the camp?

SH: Oh, there were outcroppings of rock. It's out in the desert. The soil is rich where there is soil, it was deep enough to plant stuff. But lots of rock, lava rock and it was not a flat area at all. But, everything grew real good. The farm was a little bit away from the camp site itself, mostly vegetables were all grown by the inmates, from the evacuees. And government didn't have to grow or buy vegetables for them, they furnished some of the land. And farmers went in, not only all farmers, but lot of people that used to be in the city were glad to go out and work on a farm.

AI: So, Minidoka, the camp had its own farm, to provide produce?

SH: Yes, they had their own farm to provide -- even Tule Lake did, earlier. Those of, those that were farmers before evacuation there volunteered. They asked if you want to go to do some farm work, and we got paid. Yeah, we got paid if you worked.

AI: Do you remember how much your pay was?

SH: Yes, farm labor scale was... oh gosh, I can't remember how much it was by the month. It was a small amount, but I can't exactly remember now. There was a scale.

AI: Do you remember, at the time, did it seem like a fair wage to you?

SH: No, it wasn't a fair wage. I think it started out, nine, it was by the month. Oh, I'd hate to say because this is gonna be a permanent record, and I may be way off. I should remember what I got, but I can't remember. I know the amount but what I can't remember was a week or by the month. We didn't work because of the money. We worked to get the freedom, to get out and do something different than to be just staying 'round the camp, inside the camp.

AI: Could you tell us a little bit about what the winter was like there, in Minidoka?

SH: Minidoka is a... in the winter it's much colder than Seattle, Portland, or even compared to western Idaho. It's a cold area in the wintertime. More snow than the western part of the state, although it's further south as far as the distance. If you go further east into Eastern Idaho, it gets colder yet. But the weather is pretty much the same year to year. But the whole climate for the state and from all over the country's getting warmer, they say from people that used to live there years ago. You talk to people that are ninety years old, and they said it was a lot colder in the winters and a lot hotter in the summers -- old natives say that. I got used to it, but it's so much different than what you're used to in Seattle. People grew up there, it's gonna be hot there for a while in the summer, and you get used to the winter. It's like anything else, you get used to it if you have to live with it. You make the best you can out of it. But today it's not bad when you got air conditioned homes, you know, you flip a switch it's too hot, cool it down, if it's too cold you turn around and...

AI: What did you have for heating in your room at Minidoka?

SH: What did we what?

AI: What did you have for heating, for warmth?

SH: Potbellied stove and all the coal you could, you wanted. And at night, you'd bank... I say, you young ladies wouldn't know a potbellied stove. Name, as the name implies, it was about that tall, and it was shaped like that, and the legs down here. Pretty tall, and you could put in a whole bunch of coal, you didn't put in small coal, big chunks of coal like that and it would last -- and you shut everything down from burning too fast -- it would last all night. Didn't need it in the daytime. Even in the winter we didn't, I don't remember using it. And you could get all the coal you want, you had go to the middle of the block to carry it in buckets to your, to your barrack room. My brother-in-law worked for the coal, worked in the coal crew, which was part of his job, just like working in the mess hall. And we never run out of coal.

We ate good... we can't say, nobody can say that they didn't get fed. It might not have been that tasty. Well, there was enough Issei that had restaurants that were cooks. And the camp manager asked for people, and you told them. So you got a job as a chief cook in a, each block, so I think just about every block that I heard of, had somebody with the experience. There wasn't like, a farmer like me, trying to go there and feed the whole block without having any experience. At least they worked in one or owned one. And, you know, even -- I keep saying, "You know," and you wouldn't know -- but prewar days there were a lot of Japanese restaurants, small Japanese restaurants. So there was enough cooks to be at... all the rest of us learn how to cook. I worked in a mess hall because it was always, you didn't have to work out in the cold, you didn't, it wasn't so hot. And, you didn't have to work all day. But you called it a job. You got paid as much as if somebody worked eight-hour day working outside on a farm, and you worked inside, couple hours in the morning, couple hours at noon, couple hours in the evening, and you got paid as well. And you worked in lot better weather conditions. Plus you were sure you were gonna get fed.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, you were telling us about the basics of life in Minidoka. And it sounds like all the basics were covered. But, you were there in the wintertime during holiday season. Could you tell us a little bit about what was Christmas like and the New Year's holiday?

SH: They, they observed them, naturally. And they had things for the real young kids. And a little special for dinner on Thanks-, well, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, yes that had special... they made mochi.

AI: Would you explain that for us? Some people might not know what mochi is, and how it's made.

SH: Oh, one's that's going to be hearing this, years from now? Mochi -- Japanese rice cake. And, they have a special rice. It isn't the ordinary rice that you eat every day. It's a special rice, and it's steamed, cooked, and they pound it to make, to make mochi. No grain in it. And it's a traditional food, especially in Japan. It's mainly... eat it year-round, but mainly in New Year's is when they celebrate New Year's and have mochi. There was enough older people, Issei in camp that no matter where they came from, and I don't know, they must have had, you have to have a special... what do you call that? In Japanese it's called an usu.

AI: The mortar?

SH: Yeah.

AI: Big bowl?

SH: Big bowl made out of carved-out wood. And you pound with mallets. Big heavy mallets or they used the poles and pound on it. And, I was used to it every year, with friends from city coming in -- they couldn't do this in the city very well, so our friends came, two, three families came -- and then we always made it right after Christmas for New Year's. And what we call, pound and make mochi. The pounding was to make the kernels that was cooked into a paste. And, the only people that came from Seattle to Bellevue -- where we farmed to make this -- was the men. And my mother didn't do it. You have to turn that, you can't just put a, cook it and pound it in, they'd have to be turned around. So I learned how to do that, before we left home. So the first winter in Tule Lake -- in Minidoka, I didn't do it in Tule, Minidoka, they made it in their block, each block made some. And, I said, "Oh I can do that." Turned and they said, "Where did you learn that?" They were surprised to see a young Nisei know how to make mochi and turn that... they were surprised, because in-between, you're careful or you get pounded. You get hit in between. Have you ever seen a mochi-making video? I imagine there would be a video. They still probably do it. Out our way in the country they don't do it anymore. Just easier to go and buy mochi than to cook. But we did that in camp, in Minidoka. All the Issei were surprised a young guy knew how to do it. And I said, "Well I did it at home, that's all." Nobody in the, city people knew how, Nisei didn't know how.

AI: So you were able to have some celebrations and some festivities?

SH: Uh-huh.

AI: So, it sounds like in camp there were some good times?

SH: There were some good times. Yes, I wouldn't say... I don't have, really have any bad memories of camp. It was, I just wanted to get out. The freedom was the only thing, that your lack of freedom.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

SN: I'd like to maybe draw a comparison between Tule Lake and Minidoka, because they are very, very different kinds of camps. Now, my understanding is that the people who went to Minidoka were primarily from the Pacific Northwest, from Seattle...

SH: That's correct.

SN: ...and Portland. So, the population was fairly uniform?

SH: Right.

SN: And, with Tule Lake, my understanding is it was a little bit different, that you had people from --

SH: Much different. Sacramento, especially Sacramento area... I would say half of them were from Sacramento, my guess would be. The rest were from the Northwest.

SN: And do you think that the fact that Minidoka was more cohesive, more uniform in its population, did that have a different atmosphere than Tule Lake?

SH: Yes, I talked to people that had been in different camps, permanent camps, and they say that, listening to their stories, we didn't have that, we didn't go through that in Minidoka. Of course, I didn't stay there the whole --

SN: Go through, what?

SH: Well, they didn't have the problems, camp problems, internal problems. People were... didn't put up a fight or complain as much. People from the Northwest were more peaceful, if I wanna use the term. More cooperative, made the best of it, you probably have, maybe read about it. Your parents may have told you about, in the three camps in Arizona, Poston, camps, there was lot of trouble. Lot of upheaval because, oh, they were, they weren't, they were not satisfied. Some groups were trying to make problems. Manzanar, they had some that was pretty bad. But, no, the people that were in Minidoka were from Seattle mostly, and small outlying communities, and they never had the problem that I heard of in other camps. They had riots in other camps. I don't remember hearing about a riot, riot about food, riot about working conditions, riot about pay and this stuff. Some of it was, you could attribute it to the Caucasian camp administrator, or manager. Tule Lake was -- not Tule Lake but Minidoka was fortunate that it was a local from there that knew how to handle people. We had very little problem.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

SN: Did the people in Minidoka, the Nikkei, the Japanese Americans, did they have a chance to maybe govern themselves a little bit? Like, did they have some say in how things were run in camp?

SH: Well, we got to self administrate the camp. They had guidelines to go by, but they had some good camp manager, they had a good camp manager, they had good block managers, and the communication was good. So they didn't have any problems. But I know in Tule Lake, they had lots of problems, between one block and the next.

SN: I'd like to go into that a little bit more. First of all, I just want to clarify one thing. The block manager and the camp manager, were they Nikkei, were they Japanese American?

SH: Yes, yes. They were usually leaders in their home communities before they were evacuated.

SN: So, how did they get elected?

SH: They weren't elected. The government, the administration assigned them. You applied for it, if you wanted to. They got paid a little more. But if you look at, if you were to go through the list of the block managers, most of 'em were outstanding, prominent Nisei members of different organizations, or just better known, better educated.

SN: So they were primarily Nisei then in these leadership roles.

SH: Right. They were Niseis, most of them.

SN: And what type of things, what would a typical camp manager do? What would he be responsible for?

SH: Block manager. Camp manager was a Caucasian.

SN: Oh, I'm sorry. Okay. The block manager, what would he do?

SH: He didn't have to do much. There wasn't so much to do. My sister was secretary to the camp, one of the camp managers in Tule Lake, for a little while. So, secretary do what secretary... there was really not that much. The block managers got orders from the camp managers. So, unless there was a faction in it that wanted to give the manager trouble, he didn't have much to do. It was just that if you had some problem, you had some complaints about the food, about this condition or that, you didn't go to the head administrator of the... at the headquarters, you went to your camp manager -- I mean, your block manager.

SN: And he would take care of it.

SH: And he would take care of it. Some of it he could solve right there himself, or he would take it to the camp manager.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

SN: Now, you made a couple references to Tule Lake that maybe it wasn't, I don't know if this is the correct, as harmonious as it was in Minidoka. And you stated a couple of things... that the people who were at Tule Lake came from more different areas than at Minidoka. And also, shortly after the camp was opened at Tule Lake, my understanding is that it became a segregation center. That a lot of people, there was a loyalty questionnaire -- who answered, "No-yes," "yes-no," or "no-no."

SH: If they answered "no-no," for sure they were kept at Tule Lake.

SN: And, do you recall, generally what those questions were? I think they were numbers twenty-seven and twenty-eight.

SH: Twenty-seven and twenty-eight. "Would you be willing to serve in the United States Army, if so asked?" And, "Would you pledge allegiance to the United States of America," those were the last two questions, or the parts of two questions, I can't remember exactly the wording, but it was a loyalty questionnaire. Actually, all the questions before that, I wouldn't say exactly immaterial, but they was not that relevant to whether you were going to be able to, to be allowed to go back or not. The main thing was if you said "no" to one of the other, either question, it showed that you were not going to be too loyal to the government, so they wouldn't let you out.

SN: And how did, you answered those questions...

SH: I answered "yes-yes," my wife answered "yes-yes," with no question, period. So, that was it. That was the deciding two questions to be allowed to go out of camp to resettle, no matter where you want to go. Even just to go from Minidoka to Nampa, which is hundred miles away, for farm work, or fifty miles, 25 miles to go to Twin Falls area farm. If you answered...

SN: So the work leave program?

SH: Yes, work program.

AI: Excuse me. How did you, were you actually told that, or you heard that you would need to answer "yes-yes" in order to get a work leave?

SH: We weren't told. Nobody knew. Nobody knew. And we didn't take the test side-by-side like this. We, each one separately. So we couldn't say, "Hey, what you gonna do? How you gonna answer this?" We didn't know what the question was. You got it all at one time, at least where I was, a whole bunch of us, all the citizens.

SN: Can you describe the atmosphere of Tule Lake, once people who were answering those questions "no-no," "yes-no" came into Tule Lake?

SH: I can't answer that question at Tule Lake, 'cause I answered my question in Minidoka.

SN: Oh, okay.

SH: After I was moved to Minidoka.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

SN: Now, Alice had earlier asked you about your affiliation with the Japanese American Citizen's League before the war, and you had mentioned earlier during a previous interview that, that people who maybe supported the JACL or were active in it, that maybe they had some problems at the Tule Lake.

SH: They did.

SN: Can you go into, can you give me a couple of examples of what happened to you?

SH: I didn't have anything happen to me, but we did have a meeting one night, of former chapter presidents, chapter officers, like I said earlier, I don't remember how they got my name, I didn't ask. But we had a meeting in the evening, and word got out about it, this was in Tule Lake. And the next morning or the next night, there was some, I wouldn't say, I don't know where they were from, but I, heard that they were out looking for JACL leaders. They heard about the meeting that we had. They were gonna beat up on 'em. And these were actually anti-American, pro-Japanese, non-JACL'ers. I heard that they were from the Sacramento area, or people from Sacramento were in there. I heard this, I'm not sure it's positive truth, but I can imagine it would be true, that they were anti-JACL. Anyone that was associated with the JACL, you didn't go bragging about it in Tule Lake. And I know that two former, or at the time, current, JACL national presidents were transferred from there right away, the next day, after we had this meeting. They didn't bother me. But I was, I knew about it. They told me to come to a certain block -- anyone that was connected with the JACL. At that time I happened to be first vice president of the chapter that we had hurriedly formed in Bellevue. So then I left shortly after that. They didn't have any trouble, but they would have, if they'd have kept it up. So I didn't go into a group of people that I didn't know and say I was a JACL'er. Those people I knew, it was okay.

JACL got blamed, some of these people, this happened because they blamed the JACL for the, our incarceration. They said, "You weren't..." Well, we weren't strong enough because everybody wasn't a member, we were, the JACL wasn't in operation that long. But those that didn't like JACL and didn't agree said, well, not much of an organization, didn't do any good, we got put into camp. And that was one of the reasons why they blamed the JACL for it, and there was no way you could blame the JACL, or you could blame any one single person or group. There was no way you could convince DeWitt that we wouldn't be no problem. He was such a racist that he used the term, "Once a Jap, always a Jap." So, there was no way, but the JACL did a lot of good for the welfare of all people of Japanese ancestry... I firmly believe that, and I've been a member ever since 1948, continuous, held many offices, because I couldn't turn 'em down if they asked me to be this and that, because I believed in it, you see.

Today, I don't think it's quite as prominent, but they keep it up. The older ones that are dying off, that were members are not being replaced as much, I don't think, as fast as they are passing on. Most of the Sansei, Yonsei now say, "Well, now we don't need it." They say that because they are well-accepted, but if they had, had experienced the anti-Japanese feelings that we did, they wouldn't be saying that. But thanks to the national JACL over the past fifty years, we made this happen. We publicized, and preached -- our parents preached their younger, the Sanseis -- to be good citizens, and help them do that so they don't get into trouble. And that's one reason why we don't have to have it so much. But if it wasn't for the JACL in the years of the war started, we would have been in bad trouble. That's my opinion. I have been asked by federal judges, county judges, "How come you don't have any Japanese parentage kids in jail?" I always say, "That's easy." He said, "How come it's easy?" I said, "We're taught that from when we're kids, never to go and do anything that gets you in trouble, do anything to bring shame to your family name. Don't commit any crimes, you know, even little petty crimes." So I said, "You won't find any Japanese kids in your jails." And he said, "No, we don't have a Japanese name on the Idaho State Prison roles, in our county, never." And I said, "That's the reason why." He said, "Well, I can see why. That's very good. You never see Japanese get in trouble." I said, I got a speeding ticket and paid a couple of fines, but no robbery, no murder, that kind of stuff. And so the Japanese, in that part of the country where I come from, from Ontario area and Idaho, we're all respected by the law enforcement agencies, because we never get in trouble. Never... not a single case. Some of the areas in the bigger cities can't say that and can't help it. The more people there is the more chances of that happening. If you say... lot of the people out there the Caucasian community doesn't know what JACL is, but every chance I get, I tell them what it means, 'cause you use the abbreviation. And some of them say, "Why put that Japanese in there? You're American citizens." And I said, "Well, it's something that I carried on, kinda hard to drop." But, they all say it's a good organization, as far as that goes. I have, I have members that are hakujin that want to belong, and we sure don't refuse 'em.


SN: Well, it sounds like, obviously you're a very proud member of the JACL, and it sounds like you're very proud to be a part of that organization during your stay at Tule Lake. So, I could imagine it was very difficult for you to have to deal with how people looked upon you. You indicated earlier that you couldn't tell people that you were part of that organization, unless, of course, they knew you were already and then you might talk about it.

SH: Uh-huh.

SN: In what other ways did you have to change your behavior besides that?

SH: Change behavior, why?

SN: Yeah, I mean, because you were saying that you couldn't talk about your JACL affiliation because there was some anti-JACL sentiment within Tule Lake. Did you have to change your behavior in any other way?

SH: No. The anti-JACL feeling was not from non-JACL or non-Japanese, it was from Japanese. And, some of them blamed it for some of the troubles and blamed it for evacuation. They said, "Well, if it was worth anything we wouldn't have been evacuated." I said, "Nobody could have been. The only one who could've prevented evacuation was the president, or Congress." And it's not fair to blame the JACL. The JACL did everything they could, to, but it was just, there was so much fear and panic that the American public... if it wasn't for the JACL in asking everybody to -- all the JACL members and all the Japanese Americans -- to obey the laws and cooperate, there would have been some trouble. Now, I'm sure there would have been some trouble. But there was enough level-headed leaders to say, to go ahead and follow the government orders, and cooperate and give 'em the least trouble you can. And that would be one way of helping the war effort. They wouldn't have to have a thousand, two thousand soldiers to watch over a group of people... there was 100,000 at the time of evacuation. And let's do our part by not giving the government any trouble and obey their rules and laws, and if we have to evacuate, go peacefully without giving them any trouble. That would be the best way to prove our loyalty. That was the way.

SN: Now, you indicated that if it were not for the JACL, there would have been trouble. So obviously, you have some feelings as to what could have happened.

SH: Myself, this is my personal feeling, there would have been some people in, in isolated places that would've probably... well there was, there already have cases where some of the farms were burned in California. There was none in Idaho that I had heard of. But some guys were really anti-Japanese and set fire to, to some of the farm buildings to try to get 'em to leave... when they were trying to stay, and try to get 'em out of the community, this had happened. The more, better-known you were, not by Japanese but by the Caucasian population, the less trouble you had.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

SN: And then you made a comment I found interesting about, maybe as to why the JACL was formed, and as to... I think it came in the context of, there aren't a lot of Sansei joining but they didn't have to deal with as much racism as maybe the Nisei population. Was that one of the reasons why the JACL formed, was to, in response to how non-Japanese treated the Nikkei population?

SH: I don't understand the last part.

SN: Why was the... well, why was the Japanese American Citizens League formed?

SH: Why was it formed? The Japanese American Citizens League was formed in Seattle, first chapter 19... in the 1920s, I think. It was formed because there was no single person to speak for the Japanese community, and they were being blamed for this, and blamed for that. It more or less to educate the public and to prove to them that the Japanese American population, the growing Nisei population was loyal Americans. They had to have somebody, some group to bring that knowledge out to the rest of the American population, people, so they would understand. And I think that was the main reason. I think that was the right thing to do. And being from this area here, well, if it wasn't for them, somebody might have started later, possibly, but with the heavy Japanese population concentrated in Los Angeles, San Francisco, I was surprised that Seattle started it. Other ethnic groups have asked me, out there in the country, "How did you get it started?" Some of the smaller groups would like to. And I said, "Well, you just band together and elect an officer, and get people to have a dues paying organization, if you think you need one." We sure did need it, we needed it and it was a good thing we had it. That's my feeling. Some of them blame it, for the, our incarceration, but I think the opposite. If we didn't have the JACL when we did, we would have been treated a lot worse.

SN: And then, you were talking about this meeting that you had within Tule Lake, and as a result of that meeting, two individuals had to be taken from the camp, I'm assuming for their safety.

SH: Uh-huh.

SN: That leaves me to believe something must have happened. Obviously, they feared for their safety somehow.

SH: Oh yes.

SN: Can you tell me, like some of the events that happened after that meeting?

SH: There were some anti-JACLers, not anti-American, but anti-JACLers, blamed the JACL for some of the trouble... that all of us were evacuated. And they went to the barracks and were going to, were trying to beat 'em up.

SN: Okay.

SH: But they failed. But when they heard about it, well then they moved those two, three individuals out, I won't name them, I know them, but they were moved out to another camp. But this was from Tule Lake, not from Minidoka.

SN: Yeah, I think that you had gone into that a little bit earlier. Also, during our pre-interview, I thought you had mentioned something about, did someone knock on your barrack door or was that...?

SH: Sure, they came to beat up...

SN: And they had actually...

SH: neighbor.

SN: Oh, uh-huh. Can you explain or can you kind of describe what happened that evening when they accidentally knocked on your barrack door?

SH: Yeah, they accidentally knocked on my door, because the doors were just that far apart. My neighbor on my... one side of my door, he was an Issei, but he had a son that volunteered for the army, and that was the reason why. And this, his, this young man, eighteen years old... his father was being an Issei, but he came over early, he was engaged, he did fight in World War I.

AI: For the U.S...

SH: He was a World War I veteran. And so, they did, they didn't get in and they didn't get it done, but, I don't know, someone scared 'em out, but everybody had an idea where they came from. This was in Tule Lake. The neighbor on my right side -- you all know him... prominent businessman in town, you know him, yeah -- Tomio Moriguchi was two years older, my neighbor. Uh-huh... so, I had two famous neighbors.

SN: Thank you.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, as you were, as you were going toward the end of your stay in Minidoka, now, how, how did that end? Did you go out on another work release? On a permanent release or how...?

SH: I went out on a permanent release, yes.

AI: So, did you and your wife both go out on permanent release?

SH: Yeah, go out, went out on permanent release.

AI: When was that, and where did you go?

SH: I went to Caldwell, Idaho. And I had a farm to go to, before I ever left camp I knew, I didn't get interviewed but I, there was a job offers into camp and this farmer wanted two Japanese men to work for his farm. And so I said, "Well, I'd like to go." This other man, from Bellevue, Muts Hashiguchi, he and I and his wife, Mitzie, you know, real well. We went out together to this farm in Caldwell. He left a little earlier than I did. But I stayed there for four years and learned how to farm, and did all the tractor work. I didn't do much handwork. My sister stayed for a while and my wife worked weeding onions, and thinning beets. Muts did all the irrigating. But he came back to Seattle, so somebody else took his place. A man, a young Issei from, formerly from Oakland, he came and worked the rest of the summer and he relocated back to Oakland. He stayed in Caldwell for half the year and farmed, did farm work. That was good experience, working. And to get... I just didn't want to go back into camp.

AI: Right.

SH: With the farming, learning how to farm in those four years, my transition from going from being a farm worker to a farmer was very easy, because I learned how.

AI: So, it sounds like this was a different kind of farming than you had done before the war.

SH: Oh, entirely different from the kind of farm I did here in Seattle area. And big... and the crops are different than we raised, we never raised sugar beets here, we didn't raise dry onions here, we didn't raise seed crops here in Bellevue. So it was a different kind of farm, different methods, and a lot bigger area, lot bigger acreages. We had 10 acre farm and that was pretty good. Pretty good size, all one family could manage, but out there it was hundreds of acres you're talking about.

AI: So, you were on this permanent work leave, and at that time, were you hoping to go back to the Bellevue area?

SH: No.

AI: No. But you did go back to try and retrieve some of your property?

SH: Yes, yes, settle my property, and see what it was like. But I didn't intend to go back to farm there. After working out there in the farm, if I'm going to farm, I was gonna farm out there. And by accident I got into anything, nothing like farming, I got into bowling profession, bowling business.

AI: Now, how did that happen?

SH: You didn't know that I was a bowling proprietor?

AI: I had heard that.

SH: You had heard that...

AI: But I'd like to hear you tell the story.

SH: I had a... my, how I happened to get in there, was a good hakujin friend of mine, he had bought half interest in a bowling alley. It was more than he could handle, labor-wise and money-wise. And so he came to me when I was farming in July, in fact it was July 1st, I won't forget that, and he said, "Hey," he said, "how'd you like to go into business in town?" I said, "What kind of business?" I knew the man. I was bowling with him on the same team. He said, "Bowling." "Bowling," I said, "How come?" He said, "Well, Jim" -- this friend that we both knew -- he said, "he wants to sell out." He said, "I bought half already. I want you to buy the other half." He said, "I've got four, five friends" -- and these were hakujin friends -- "wanted to be my partner, willing to be my partner. But," he said, "I want you to be my partner." "Well," I said, "that's okay." I wasn't too happy with farming, I didn't have too good a farm land to farm. So I said, "Well, let me think about it. When do you have to know?" He says, "Tomorrow." "Tomorrow," I said, "Well, I'll talk to my wife about it and we'll see, I'll give you an answer tomorrow, one way or the other." So I asked her that night and she said, "Well, it's up to you. Whatever you want to do." And I said, "Okay, I think I'll try it, because I can't get a good farm," you know, it wasn't available, or I had to go all over, few acres here and it took a lot of my time moving around, moving equipment around. If I had a good hundred-acre farm someplace, in one place, I probably never would have gone into bowling business. But that led me into into this partnership. And then with a couple more partners we built a twenty, we built a, we had a twelve and then we made it, we built a brand new place and did twenty-four lanes, with partners. And so, I've been in the business of bowling until I retired here, couple years ago. Built that and built another one. I think it was two parties, two different groups that had bowling alley, and one in Seattle.

AI: You're speaking about Japanese Americans?

SH: Japanese American ownership of bowling. It was a profession that not too many Japanese ventured into as far as owning a business, proprietor. But as far as bowling, it's not as popular as it was at one time. But, you know going back twenty years ago, twenty-five years ago, bowling that was about the only thing that all Niseis could do. So I sold out my bowling, my interest in the house in '83, so '55 to '83 I was in the business. Then I retired, took off for six months and I got tired, nothing to do so I went, worked for another bowling alley. I worked couple days a week. Have been for the last several years. I've been considering maybe fully retiring, but it gives me something to do, especially since I got myself. If my wife was still alive we could take trips and stuff, like a lot of my friends do, but myself, I don't feel like it. And so, just to keep busy, really. If my health wasn't so good, you wouldn't... but it's better to be getting old, but your health is good, and then you can work. I mean, I'd rather be able to work than not be able to do anything, and be having to be waited on, you know. So lot of people that know me well say, "How come you're still working? Can't you retire?" I say, "Sure, I can retire, but I feel better when I'm doing something."

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, it sounds like you've, you've always been a busy man. And as you say, you've been very active with the JACL for many years. I was wondering if you were involved in the redress effort at all?

SH: Yes, out there I was.

AI: Well, what was that like talking about the redress? In your work you're in contact with many Caucasian, the general public, as well as the Japanese American community. What kind of response did you get from various people in the community?

SH: Most of the Caucasian friends I had, I told 'em what the JACL is trying to do, "What do you think of it, what do you think of the chance of it passing?" He says, "I'm a hundred percent behind you, you're entitled to it." So, I did do that. Did all the, did a lot of it for a good many years out there. If they'd have said, "No, you don't deserve it. You shouldn't." I probably wouldn't have worked so hard on it. But out there, I got a lot of people that said, "Well, you should." And nobody, all the people I knew said, "You should, you're entitled to it."

AI: Did you have to explain to your Caucasian colleagues about...

SH: Oh, there is nobody out there knows the history of evacuation, or why. So anytime anybody listens, even one person, I'll tell 'em about it -- my experience and why, and why it was wrong. I do that any chance I get, I'm gonna spread the word what JACL did, and why we did it, what I did. I think they respect me for it. Some people don't want to talk about it. Lot of people, brings back some bad memories. I said it brings back bad memories, but I want to explain to 'em why I did it, why it was wrong. And a lot of people from there, there's a lot of Nisei that volunteered for the army, and were killed in action. One died here not too long ago, was real well-known, he was a native, born and raised in Idaho. Served couple of terms as president of the JACL, different jobs, he was American Legion for... there isn't a hakujin in this community -- it wasn't Bellevue, it was a town called Emmett, it's an orchard area, you may have heard of Emmett, Idaho -- there wasn't a hakujin that don't know Henry Suyehira. He's that well-known. Real, little, small man, he just tall enough to make the army. You can't, they won't take you in the army if you're not at least five feet tall. My wife's younger brother, older brother, he was 4' 11 1/2". He volunteered, they said, "Go back and grow a half inch," the recruiter said. But, he was twenty-something, he wasn't going to grow anymore. So he volunteered, and they told him, "Go back and grow a half inch and we'll take you. You've passed, otherwise, but you're not tall enough." But out there, they were well-respected. The Japanese community, especially Ontario, Snake River Chapter area there, everybody knows everybody, and the Japanese community is well-respected by the American citizens out there.

AI: You said that many people out in the Idaho area have no idea that the camps ever existed and you have to explain that to them. And then, you said you have to explain why it was wrong. What do you tell them about why it was wrong?

SH: Well, without having, without being accused of any crime, you can't go and put people in jail. That's what it was when you got moved in and put into camps, without any shred of evidence, without an ounce of evidence that we did anything wrong, just because our faces were Japanese. We're citizens, everybody was by birth. And without any question, without any screening or nothing, just the whole blanket, group of people were just moved and just told, "You gotta be here, and we're gonna do this to you." And we followed the orders in order to help the effort. If we'd have fought the effort they'd have to have thousands of soldiers taken from more important places to guard us, or to herd us into camps. But we went willingly and peacefully, and that's why I said the JACL did all the work to help that out and so that's why we didn't have any problem. I can imagine Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, if a few of us had said, "No, we're not going to go," and start causing problems, it'd a been a lot of trouble, there'd have been a lot of trouble.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, looking back on the whole experience of the internment, what do you think are some of the lasting lessons that you'd like people to think about?

SH: I think that if there was not for evacuation, we would have continued on for quite a while. Population would have gotten bigger, but people in Seattle would have been just staying around here, San Francisco, L.A. It dispersed more persons of Japanese ancestry to the rest of the country. Now you find, I don't think you can find a state in the union that doesn't have some person of Japanese ancestry. Idaho wouldn't have as many Japanese Americans as they do now because there were a lot of people went out there to work and then settled down, went to work first, and then bought farms, and went into business. This is true in Wyoming, it's true in Montana, it's true in Nevada. So it was, it would be better to have Japanese Americans all over the States than to have it concentrated in Oregon, Washington, and California, like it used to be before the war, because they know more about you. Now, another war -- if Japan would start a war like the same way they did then -- being Japanese Americans all over the United States, there wouldn't be that much problem because more people know about us, and know of us, and know what we do, and what we are. At that time in 1941, just the three states, you might say, there was hardly any people inland from those three states. So the public feared us most because there was so many concentrated in one small area. It was a little easier to watch, and it was easier to move us out of there, but today I think through the publicity, through JACL, the public knows enough that they don't have to worry.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

SN: I'd like to ask you a question that's kind of along the same line but maybe a little bit different. How do you think the internment changed your life? And what was the one lesson that you learned from the internment experience?

SH: Oh, that's kinda hard. One thing evacuation did was speed up getting married. I probably would have waited a couple more years, but I don't regret the fact that I married young. I married younger than most of them did at that time.

AI: Why did it speed up your marriage?

SH: Well, we didn't know where we were gonna go. We thought we were gonna get separated. See, so long as you got married you're not gonna be separated. You might have been good friends but they were gonna get separated. I say, we were gonna wait awhile, but we said, "Oh, let's get married. They might send you someplace, and we'll be someplace else and be separated." So, there was no doubt in my mind, at that time or a little later on, that I'd marry her and no one else. She was my wife, my eventual wife was my second girlfriend. I dated one girl for three, four months -- classmate. And, no problem, but I don't know, one day I... here she was four years behind me in school. And took her to a skating party and started dating regular after that. Then the war started and we had to leave. That's how I happened to get married little earlier than usual. And she, she was only nineteen, that's a little young. Well, today a lot are getting married at nineteen, but nineteen you're not, you're out of high school but if you want further education you're in college. You don't get married until after you get out of college. I've never regretted it.

Only thing I regret was I only had one son. Month after she had my son she had a kidney removed. She had only one kidney. Her left kidney was removed, and so the doctor said that, "If you didn't have one I'd say go ahead and have a child, but at least you've got one son. So I'd advise against having another child. It may endanger your health." I said, he said, "I wouldn't guarantee it." So, we didn't have any more sons, any more children. A lot of people, I've been asked by many, "How come you only got one child?" They don't know the history of my wife's health. I have just two granddaughters.

So the Hayashida name will go, will be gone now, by the time this is... 'cause my son is fifty, fifty-three, and just the two girls. That don't bother me any, but lot of Isseis would, the Isseis always wanted to be sure that the name, family name kept going. If they didn't have nothing but daughters, they had, they adopted a son, son-in-law to carry on the family name. And that son got married and he had to take the maiden name, maiden, his wife's surname, change his name. That's why you find some Isseis got two surnames, or not -- yeah, two surnames. One couple, one friend, and they'll say, Mr. So-and-So. So you take another friend and you're talking about the same man but you've got another name for him. And I said, "How come?" And then they explained to me, the first time this happened to me. They're supposed to, in Japan you're supposed to take, if you're a yoshi, you're supposed to take your wife's maiden surname. They did while they were there, they come over here and they went back. Some men I know have got two surnames, depending on who they are. But, that doesn't happen anymore.

AI: Is there anything that else you'd like to add, anything else...

SH: I talked for three hours. I'm talked out. I don't think I could add much to it. Some of that rambled on, but you could delete it. Be sure you... what you call that term?

SN: Edit?

SH: You could edit.

AI: Thank you very much for your time.

SN: You did a wonderful job.

SH: Well, okay. Somebody has to do it. And it seems like I end up doing it. Nobody wants to do some of these jobs. Every time I'm out there, same thing, have to represent the community, I have to do it. But, I think that somebody should. Shouldn't have to be me, every time. I should... I do, I believe that we should, because then history will die if you don't. So I do. I'd like to have somebody take some of the jobs over. But that's...

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

SN: Thank you, Mr. Hayashida. We had to hook you back up because I thought of a couple of more questions I wanted to ask. This is like a little, just a couple of things I want to go back to. Long time ago, you were describing the curfew, you had to leave. And I just wanted to ask you how you felt when, before the curfew was placed, that you were able to move around as much as you wanted to. You could go wherever you wanted to. Now, all of a sudden you couldn't leave certain areas without permission, and you couldn't leave after a certain time.

SH: We couldn't leave even with permission. We asked. I suppose in case of emergency, sickness or something they probably would have. But how I felt, I felt that it was wrong, but I knew that it wouldn't be permanent. I knew it was only temporary because we would be able to prove that you wouldn't have to worry about people, at least around in this area, in Bellevue and Seattle. And it was lifted, very shortly after that. There was no, no incidents period... either us doing something wrong or the local, the American population, Caucasian population, doing some harm to Japanese population. There were cases in some parts of the country, especially in California, there have been some Japanese farms burned down, farmhouse burned down, something like that. Things like that didn't happen in the first two, three months, so the authorities figured that they didn't need to, so they lifted that curfew.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

SN: And you also made a reference to, it sounds like it was a very quick process that the executive order came out and then you were forced to be removed to Pinedale? I'd like to get the time periods a little bit more. Between the time you first found out about that you would have to be evacuated, and the time that you had to be ready to go, how much time were you given?

SH: Oh, there was about two months. It wasn't definite. We knew we were gonna have to eventually go. How soon we wasn't, we weren't told. And it actually ended up, a couple of months before the order was, when we were talking about it and when it actually implemented the order. We didn't leave until May, and the story came out first part of the year, right after it started, that we were gonna be leaving the area. And we didn't leave until mid-May, so I'd say it was four, five months. And we thought it might be sooner. Some places were sooner. Some places in California moved a lot sooner than that. But the climate of, between the two, the other, how should I say... there was no outward intention from the Japanese American population in the Seattle area, Western Washington, the mood was little different. The reaction to the coming order, expected order was different in Washington than it was in California. But we knew we would have to go. We knew that it was an executive order, and there was no changing that. So, it was actually worried about how soon. It was lot later than I thought it would be. I thought we would be leaving sooner than we did, after they said they were going to. But everybody went peacefully. I don't recall anybody in Western Washington, Seattle, Tacoma area, Bellevue that did anything, and defied the order. At least if there was one, I never heard about it. There was no such denial. We all went peacefully. And like the JACL tried to tell 'em that, the best way we could've help the war effort was to go peacefully, and don't give the government, the military any trouble. That was being preached. The army and intelligences have acknowledged that helped a lot -- somebody speaking up for them, and saying, "This is, we should help 'em by going and not giving 'em any trouble." Imagine if somebody said, "No, let's not go, we won't be there." And they would have to be looking after us here, and looking after us there. If enough of 'em did that, a few hundred did that, it would have really been chaos, as far as the government and soldiers having to watch us. There were no cases of that. Every single one was there, at a certain time, at their appointed time.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

SN: And then I'd like to skip over real quickly to your resettlement in Idaho. Before, earlier in the interview you stated, I think you said twenty-two, I think you said twenty-five to thirty families in the Bellevue area before the internment occurred. To the best of, do you know approximately how many families returned to the Bellevue area?

SH: How many...

SN: How many families returned to the Bellevue area? Do you know that off the top of your head? I thought you might know... because you have such strong ties there.

SH: I don't know, really. I couldn't give a close enough figure. There are somebody in Bellevue that you could call...

SN: Okay.

SH: ... and just call and ask, and probably get... Akira would be one that did go back. Mitsuko should know.

AI: Okay.

SH Mitsuko should know anybody that went back, sorta get an idea.

SN: Okay. And, I think that you've, you made a reference earlier about how you went back, and that your property that you had kept on the farm, that someone said they had purchased from the government, did you initially have plans to move back to the Washington area?

SH: Yes.

SN: And what eventually caused you to resettle in Idaho?

SH: Because there was nothing to come back to after everything that I had was gone. To start over from scratch was too much work, not so much work as money. Didn't have any money after the length of time in camp. And I had a chance to start farming on a much better, bigger scale, a different type of farming. But that opportunity was always there in Idaho, once they let us out of camp. If I came back, when I came back to Bellevue and that man didn't show me a government bill of sale for everything I owned, I probably would have... if the house was empty, I could have. The property was owned by another Japanese family, man, he was a single man, he owned it. And the rent was cheap, you imagine 10 acres for $300 a year, it was just like a gift. I probably would have started back again. But, not having anything to go back to... and my wife's sister being out there and telling you you could start out, come live with us, and all that, well we, which I did. I worked for them for a year, to learn the type of farming, which was much different than in Bellevue.

SN: How is it different?

SH: So much bigger, so much different kind of crops. No, that was the main difference, different types of crops and different size. I could see there was more opportunity if I wanted to farm out there.

SN: And you were farming berries again?

SH: I did raise some berries again, but no, I wouldn't have raised berries so much as, you could even... there was a little different way of farming and that's how I got started farming. There's a term called sharecropping. You're probably not familiar with it here, but in my case, I put up my know-how and my labor against the farmer's ground, and he furnished the water, paid the taxes. So that's what he furnished and I furnished my labor. He was actually furnishing more because the land was worth more than a salary, at that time for working on a farm. 'Course, he probably knew I was a little bit better than an ordinary laborer, let's say... imported labor. But he was putting up quite a bit, by the time he paid the value of the land, and the taxes, and everything, and my labor, but I did that for four years, got the know-how.

SN: Were there other Japanese Americans who were farming in that area?

SH: Oh yes.

SN: And how did the general population treat the farmers?

SH: There for a while there were, like I said earlier, they were a little worried. They were getting too many, there weren't very many. There were just very few. Born and raised there, and they were well-accepted by their community there. Then when an influx of a lot of people went out there to work, and if they stayed there, they thought that maybe they'd get too many Japanese out there, they gonna... and they didn't know us evacuees. But they thought that maybe a concentration of Japanese in Nampa or in Caldwell, there might be some adverse reaction to it. So, some of 'em were worried right away. But, it was actually not necessary, and there wasn't that much of a concentration. But you could say that there was a lot in the Ontario, Snake River region, because they didn't have any, and all of a sudden there was a lot of people out there. Their Citizens League membership is two hundred plus, it was bigger than that at one time. And if they had a chapter there before that there would have been two. So you see, there was a concentration there. The reason they went there in Ontario so much was there was a more land available, bigger places. But they were well-received by the townsfolk, the people that were there, the Caucasian families accepted them so well. So everybody went there. Otherwise, they wouldn't have gone. There were some areas that they didn't exactly reject you, but they weren't too happy to have too many Japanese Americans coming to farm or work. But Ontario, possibly because of the mayor at the time, and their congressman, they were understanding. And that's one reason why...

SN: And, Ontario is in eastern Oregon?

SH: Eastern Oregon. You say Oregon, it's right on the border. The only difference is... the separation of Ontario, Oregon and Idaho is the river, the Snake River, that's the boundary line of it. You go 1, you go 1 mile and you're in Idaho, you go 1 mile the other way and you're in Oregon. But that's the main reason.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

SN: Okay, I guess the last question I have is, you know, you were talking about -- this is back into Auburn again, I mean, not to Auburn, but to Bellevue -- you were talking about that plant that the Nikkei farmers started. And you had a white plant manager?

SH: Yes.

SN: I found that to be interesting. How come, not a Nikkei, a Japanese American plant manager? I was just curious.

SH: Well, he was knowledgeable, more than, in that line. Eventually, though, we changed. But at the start, the first four or five years. And everybody knew him.

SN: Okay. So it was just because of his skill level.

SH: Yeah. He was there before. And so, when we came back, there was no reason to change him.

SN: Thank you very much. [Laughs]

SH: Okay. You know that shed is still there? It was the last time I was in Bellevue.

AI: Where is it?

SH: Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association shed. As you cross the tracks there, headed towards Redmond, it's on the left-hand side, on the tracks. It was there, oh, the last time I was there. I haven't been to Bellevue this trip. But I was surprised that it was there so long. Okay.

AI: Thank you.

SN: Thank you so much.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.