Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Miyamoto Interview IV
Narrator: Frank Miyamoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tatsuya Fukunaga (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 7, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank-04-0034

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Oh, I'm sorry, sorry to interrupt you again, but, before going on, you had mentioned in some detail about the bunk situation, the bunkhouse. And I was wondering about whether there was some internal separation there between the Filipino and the Japanese within the bunkhouse?

FM: Yes, there was. I think there were some situations of Japanese, Nisei or Issei being bunked in the same room with the Filipinos, and I don't think there was anything wrong with that situation, that is to say, wrong in the sense of any difficulty about arranging things in that fashion, but it just didn't happen, generally speaking. One, because many of the Filipinos were relatively new immigrants to the U.S. and they spoke relatively little English and their conversations were Philippine, and it was difficult for them to relate to non-Filipinos. But in addition to that, there just was a natural tendency for these ethnic groups to go with their own ethnicity. And this was true even at the dining room tables. Nisei would sit with Nisei, Issei would sit with Issei, and Filipinos would sit with Filipinos and so on.

AI: Would you say there was any element of prejudice at that time?

FM Yes...

AI: I mean, was that an obvious...

FM: You know, it is a kind of prejudice, it must be. It's like, why do you hate oranges, type of prejudice, it's hard to explain, but prejudice in that sense. But not prejudice in the sense of, you know, "I refuse to be bunked with a Filipino." I don't think there was that kind of prejudice, it was just that your preference certainly was in the direction of being with friends you liked and enjoyed and so on and so on.

AI: But it wasn't a matter of hostility?

FM: Yeah.

AI: Overt hostility.

FM: And to expand on that point, then, I don't recall any hostility, ever, between Filipinos and Japanese. Occasionally there were fights between two Filipinos, or between Japanese, but the instance of conflict between Filipinos and... it must have happened but I don't remember them. And not, by and large, there was no ethnic hostility or even a sense of ethnic discrimination involved in our relations as far I can remember.

Going back to the food thing, what was... food is, in a situation like that is always difficult. You know, even at very good institutions, where they feed you well, if you eat the same institutional food month after month, pretty soon you get sick of it. You can't put up with it. Well, so, in that sense, why, institutional food at the canneries was difficult to live with. But on top of that the food was not very good. Contractors were trying to minimize costs and breakfast, for example would be misoshiru, rice, tsukemono, maybe and some fish, fish possibly might be served. But basically it was a very minimal kind of breakfast. And lunch and supper often a mix of chop suey type of mix, food. And again, fish figured prominently, salmon figured prominently in the meals that were given us. And you can get pretty bored or tired with, of this type of food. I think the food changed under union organization. For one thing, Filipinos liked their own style of food and there was that kind of change anyway. And then the, there was a greater Americanization of food as I recall after the unionization occurred, whereas under the Issei contractors, why, there was much more Japanese-oriented type of feeding.

TF: Can I ask one question? Did you have any time to go Ketchikan while you were in the cannery site and then get like different food or meeting people?

FM: Yes. I did. And it... and we did. That is, my group did. And it was a function of whether, how well you got to know the cook. The cook was an important figure in that sense and if you got to know the cook and became good friends with him, why he would cook up an egg for you sometime or give you an apple or whatever that, extra that you'd normally not get. So if you developed a good relationship with the kitchen, why, there was some advantage to it. But by and large, people didn't take too much advantage of that kind of thing because the cook had to be careful not to show too much, too much favoritism to one group or another.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.