Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert Coombs Interview
Narrator: Robert Coombs Andrews
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: SeaTac, Washington
Date: August 2, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-crobert-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Today is August 2, 2003. We're here in the DoubleTree in SeaTac near Seattle, Washington. I'm Alice Ito with Densho Project and we're speaking with Mr. Robert Coombs today. Thank you, Mr. Coombs. And our videographer is Dana Hoshide, also from Densho. And Mr. Coombs, you're here for the reunion of Minidoka, and I'm so glad that you're able to take this time with us to do some interviewing. I wanted to ask you to just start at the very beginning of your birth and your family background and I understand you were born in 1918 in California?

RC: I was born in Visalia, California. With me came a twin sister, which was not really a surprise to my mother because her mother had had three sets of twins. As she was growing up, (...) she knew how to take care of twins. We lived on a farm, and it wasn't too long before my father sold the farm, and (we) moved to Sacramento. So I grew up in Sacramento and went through the schools in Sacramento.

AI: Well now, could you, maybe we should back up a bit, and I'd like you to ask you to tell me a little bit about your mother and father and their background.

RC: Well, my father was the son of a preacher. My grandfather was quite a sterling type of minister. He was on the circuit with William Jennings Bryan, and they traveled around the country in those days preaching the Word. My father was born here in Washington, I think it's called Colfax, if I remember the name of the little town. And then my grandfather had a church in Pasadena and that's where the rest of the children, my uncles and aunts were born. My mother was born in Cleveland. Her mother and father came over from Stutgart, Germany, and they settled in the part of Cleveland that was German. The German people, just like other people coming from foreign countries, (...) sought out their own kind and that's where my mother was born, and her brothers and sisters. When my mother was thirteen, the (chore) of taking care of so many babies, helping her mother, affected her health. (...) The doctors said she would have to come west, get out of the Cleveland weather. There was a blind lady who needed to come west to Whittier and she needed a companion. In those days it didn't seem unreasonable that a thirteen-year-old girl would take on the responsibility of being a blind lady's companion. (...) The travel was by big heavy trains, and my mother was up to it, and they got to Whittier. This lady and my mother lived together for a number of years. She was very good to my mother and my mother was very good to her. She saw my mother through high school in San Diego. It was a very interesting experience for my mother to be with a group of people, (Quakers), like the people who were settling in Whittier, from a religious standpoint. When she was finished there, she went to Los Angeles and got herself a job and that's where she met my father. And my father made up his mind, "there's my wife-to-be," and they were married.

AI: About when was that, that they were married?

RC: Let's see... I would say about 1910, or a little bit before then. I'm trying to figure -- I have two older brothers, or had two older brothers, and my oldest brother now is ninety-three, so we, you can use math and go back to when he was born, and so it was in the early 1900s.

AI: Right. So he would have been born about 1910?

RC: 1910, yes. And then a year-and-a-half, my next brother was born, and then my twin and I were born in 1918.

AI: What's your birthday?

RC: May 26th.

AI: May 26th.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Well, and then I understand, not too long after you and your twin were born you, your family moved.

RC: Yes. We moved to Sacramento. My father was a very creative person. He liked to invent things. It was at the time when radio (was invented). The first radios were these little battery-operated things, you know. If you could get KDKA Pittsburgh in California, it was a great triumph. So I had that fun of hearing music and things like that on a homemade radio. The Christian Science Monitor, at that time, had a drawing. I remember my father looking at this drawing of how to make a radio, and he did. So that became his career. He was a farmer before but that became his career and he had quite a large area in the top department store in Sacramento where he was selling radios when they came in, in a big swoop just like TVs did, you know, in later years.

AI: That is so interesting.

RC: We lived in North Sacramento for a while and then we were forced out of our house because of floods. An early memory was getting up one morning and (...) walking into the living room and all the furniture was stacked up and I thought, "Well, what's going on here?" I looked out the front door and the water was rippling at the bottom of the porch step.

AI: Oh my.

RC: It had come across (...) the street. The river was (...) maybe about two miles from us. But it was an open area and the water overflowed. My father maintained, "We're not gonna live here to go through this (...) again." And so we moved into Sacramento, into East Sacramento. And that's where I still live -- not there in the same home, but I still live in East Sacramento. I was in the first grade then and went through the public schools of Sacramento.

AI: Can you describe a little bit of what Sacramento looked like at that time when you were in grade school?

RC: Well, Sacramento was rather small compared to what it is today. It was the capital of the state, so that was one thing that made it different from other cities in the state. But, it also was sort of homey. People knew everyone. (...) My father was well-known in the community and he was eager to sell radios to people because he knew that their lives would be made better for the kind of entertainment that was available. He also had a yen to be on water. He loved to race speedboats. At one time we had a very large garage and there were always two or three speedboats in there beside the car. On Mother's Day one year he had gotten a new, a new motorboat and he wanted to try it out and my mother didn't want him to. She was fearful. She, somehow (...) had a, had a premonition. "This was my day," she said to him, "Now, no. Do that some other time." He (said), "Oh, I've got to go out and try that boat." He lost his life on the river. A cruiser came by and was not in the position that it should have been and created waves as he was testing his boat. (...) The waves caused the motor to fly out of the water and it hit him on the head and he was drowned on Mother's Day. That changed our whole lives. We were desolate.

AI: How sad. How, what a terrible shock that must've been.

RC: It was. My twin was not able to sit at the table at night. Fortunately we had a wonderful neighbor, who worked for the social welfare office for the state and she realized that there was an emotion there that had to be tempered in one way or another. So my twin had her dinners next door for, oh, it must have been six months until she finally was able to sit down with the rest of us at the dinner table. Because my father always served our plates, that was the old-fashioned way, and we would remonstrate sometimes at the helpings that were given to us. [Laughs] "Well, this is good for you. You've got to eat it. (...) I want you to clean your plate," was usually the comment. (...) It was like living with two families because my older brothers were in high school when that happened and my twin and I were nine. My mother had to go to work. My father (had insisted) that we all have a college education. My mother met that request of his. (...) All four of us tried to do well in school because my father felt that if school asks something of us it was our responsibility to give back the very best we could. He wouldn't tolerate any nonsense about that. And all four of us, basically, were good students.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, now in, when you were nine, that would have been about 1927. Could you describe a little bit about what school life was like at that time? It's so different now. What was the traditional approach to teaching and learning in those days?

RC: It was wonderful. Your teachers were your friends. They became part of your life. And when the principal heard about what had happened to my father, my twin and I were under his care, (this) gives you an idea of the relationship between the elementary school in those days to what it is now, where it's a very impersonal kind of thing. All of our teachers reached out to us in one way or another. They were hard times. We lived in east Sacramento, just at the border of the city where country life came into being. There were Japanese gardens, vegetable gardens, strawberry beds. Many youngsters came to school without breakfast during the Depression. The PTA tried their best to have luncheons for children (who) didn't have any lunch when they got to school. And the Japanese farmers would show up in the morning with vegetables for vegetable soup. And there was a butcher shop nearby and he always saved the bones to give a little meaty quality to the soup. (...) I can still see us all sitting down to a nice warm bowl of soup which was really very good for all of us. But the teachers, each teacher that I had in that school (were well-liked).

(About) the principal... (...) he and his wife had no children and they were very interested in my twin and me. When I left the relocation center and came back home to go to school, I wasn't going to (...) go back into teaching. I (started) working at an air force base in Sacramento in the payroll office when somebody called my name, "You're wanted on the telephone." I went up and here was my former principal (on the phone). (He) was superintendent of schools by that time. He says, "Bob, your name is going to the Board of Education tonight and I am telling you you're going to be going to Sutter Junior High School to be one of the teachers there in English." And I said, "Oh, Mr. Burkhart, I was planning on going back to school." "No, Bob. You're going to go to Sutter Junior High School." Well, I couldn't say no.

AI: So that was --

RC: That's why I spent the rest of my life as a teacher.

AI: Well, so that was quite a relationship that --

RC: It was.

AI: -- you had there?

RC: This is, this is the kind of feeling in education that we had in those days.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Well, and so now this period of -- it's the Depression. And as you mentioned, so many families were having hardships, and especially yours, without your father. Could you tell me more about... in your particular grade school, would you say that most of the children were families, were from families having hardships during the Depression?

RC: Yes, yes.

AI: And approximately, what proportion would you say were Caucasian and Japanese American or other ethnicities?

RC: There was Little Italy in the area. The Japanese, I think we would have maybe three or four Japanese youngsters in each class. (...) The classes were almost in the same room all day. We would go to a science class, or an art class, or music class, maybe two or three times a week. Otherwise, we were in the same (room as)... the teacher had us for a number of subjects. They were very, very well-trained. They were good teachers. You couldn't ask for anything better. And as a group of children, there were (few) conflicts once in a while. The Italians are rather emotional -- [laughs] -- and they'd get angry about things. Kids being what they were, they might use the "Dago" word, and that was an insult, you see, and there would be little problems on the way home. And it always got back to the principal. The principal always had to deal with it, and he was very good at it. He knew how to handle kids.

AI: Well, I'm wondering, were there very many Mexican Americans --

RC: No.

AI: -- in your school at that time?

RC: No.

AI: None?

RC: No, no. That came later.

AI: I see. So at that time, the Japanese Americans were pretty much the only other minority group at that time?

RC: (Yes).

AI: Did you --

RC: There were some Chinese. (...) They were, we had two or three, if I recall correctly, very sweet youngsters. But they lived in the lower part of town. And many of the Japanese lived in the lower part of town, in the old Sacramento area, along (...) the river. When the war came along they lost their properties downtown. They were rather valuable by that time, you see. There had to be some changes made so that they could recoup, finances, and things worked out better for them that way.

AI: Well, during this period, before the war, though, I wanted to ask, is there... let me see, maybe I should put it this way: as a child, growing up, when did you first become aware of the racial difference and become aware of Japanese Americans as a different race?

RC: My mother, being German, and having gone through the experience in Cleveland, where they lived in Germantown in Cleveland, experienced the alienations that took place all over the country by all races that came from overseas. And she would talk to us about it. And she was very, she was a very loving mother. We adored her. She had the capacity to explain to us what it meant to be human and love no matter what people looked like, what was wrong with them, what their nationality was, what their racial characteristics were, the human being inside was the most important thing. And that was the way my twin and I were raised. My father basically was responsible for my two older brothers and my mother raised my twin and me. And that, my twin sister and I were very, very... I guess very democratic, small "d." Well, that was the way we were raised, and we loved all people.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, so then, after you graduated from your grade school, and then you went on to ninth grade at a different school...

RC: My ninth grade was in a junior high setting. It was -- it seemed that I grew up in bungalows. [Laughs] I went from one bungalow school to another bungalow school. (...) The school, the junior high that I went to, was in east Sacramento and it was on the grounds of another elementary school. I think there were three elementary schools where the ninth grade went together. We were all in bungalows and we walked on wooden sidewalks, you might call them, from one room to the next. And I spent a year there with my twin, and then we went to Sacramento High, which was a very lovely building. It was, and yet, after being in bungalows nearly all my school life, the first thing (our) homeroom was in a bungalow at Sacramento High. It was the plant science room, classroom. And I thought, gee, am I ever going to get into a building without bungalows? Well, most of them (had) nice (buildings).

AI: Well, for people who don't have a visual image of a bungalow, could you describe a little bit about what it was like?

RC: Well, it could be cold, to begin with. It was a wooden building. And there was a wood stove. And somebody had to tend to the wood pile. And there was always a place where they could get wood if it (...) needed to be stoked up and... one time, all of a sudden the legs of the wood stove collapsed. And of course coals came out. And we had a fire drill very fast. [Laughs] It was quite exciting.

AI: Oh, my.

RC: The tallest boy was ordered by the teacher to run, run to the principal's office and get the custodians, have them bring buckets of water. Well, by the time they got there, we had the fire under control.

AI: What a lot of excitement.

RC: A lot of excitement, yes. But, then when I went on from high school to junior college, more bungalows. But it showed the sign, the growth of the city. And by the time I left junior college those bungalows were gone and nice buildings had been built. The bungalows at high school were gone and the building had been completed, and the same for junior high.

AI: Well, now in high school, did you already have an idea or a plan for your future, what you thought you might do after graduation?

RC: Really, no. My twin was very creative. She wanted to design clothes. And she knew where she wanted to go. She wanted to go to southern California to a school where she could study costume design. And that's where she did go. I, after high school, (...) went to junior college and had my first two years of college there, and that was about the time when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and worked hard so I could enter Stanford. One of the things that made it difficult was the fact that I, my twin and I were mid-term people, and I graduated in January, from high school. That meant I graduated from junior college in January and I didn't want to go down to Stanford because I had to take my finals in December before Christmas vacation, and then register that winter quarter at Stanford. So I spent two-and-a-half years in junior college. And the interesting thing about that was that I was able to take come courses that I -- sociology things -- that I would not have been able to get in. So, by the time I had had two-and-a-half years of junior college I had a pretty good preparation and knowledge of what I wanted to be in the future.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: I see. Well, and so then, did you... I'm not sure when you started at Stanford. Was that the fall of 1938? Or was it later in the --

RC: Fall.

AI: It was fall.

RC: Fall, (yes). One of the things that I did, both in high school and junior college, I enjoyed being in plays. And it sharpened my wits in a way, memorizing parts. And so I took drama classes in junior college. In high school it was an after-school activity, like sports. There was always a group that liked to be in a play, and there were (...) usually (...) two plays a semester in high school. And then in junior college we had a series of plays during a year. When I went down to Stanford, (...) I appeared in maybe six plays in my junior and senior year. I didn't have time for it in my graduate year. The student teaching took the time, you see.

AI: What kind of plays were you in? What were some of your favorites?

RC: Well, they were Shakespeare plays I was in, which were rather interesting, at Stanford. And (...) the one play that I enjoyed the most was a very not well-known play, Tobias and the Angel. [Laughs] But, one of the Shakespearian plays was Richard, Richard II, (...) very difficult. And at the moment, I can't think of the name of the Shakespearian expert, he was from Europe. He was in Hollywood doing some work there, on movies. He was the friend of the director at Stanford, and he came up to Stanford to see this Richard II play. He was very critical, (but) our director admonished him by saying, "Well, what do you expect when these young people have classes that they're taking? They have a lot of homework to do, and we only worked on this six weeks." (...) He met us all in the green room after (the play). He looked at us, and he looked at our director, and said, "It vas goot. It vas goot." [Laughs] So he changed his mind (...). I was in a Russian play and (a) Russian (official) was, he was in San Francisco, in a San Francisco office, and he came down to see it. It was called The Three Sisters, (a) Chekhov play. And he was a little bit negative. It wasn't quite what he expected. Well, it wasn't, it wasn't Russian, it was an Americanized version. But that was my activity other than going to classes and (...) writing papers and so forth.

And I took speech classes. And one summer I went down to USC for a summer session, which was a wonderful experience for me. I took American Literature classes and public speaking. And that was my first experience of doing extemporaneous speaking. It was a wonderful experience.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, now both Stanford University and University of Southern California are considered very prestigious, very challenging schools, rather elite schools. I'm wondering what, it sounds like you had a very enjoyable experience there. What was it like intellectually and in, in some of the academic work that you did?

RC: Well, I had an open mind. And if I wanted to do something, my mother said, "Well, go ahead." You know, that was the way she looked at it. (...) So I, I tackled things that probably people would not have done. (...) When I was at USC I waited table in a boarding home where visiting professors and their families lived. (That) was something I had never done. But I was used to serving food at home with my mother, you know. And there was a time when, when my brothers were at Stanford and my twin and I were home alone. My mother was traveling. She demonstrated foods, Heinz Foods throughout California and Nevada. And I'm sure that kind of situation would not occur today. My twin and I were in junior high and high school. But we had a next door neighbor, the lady that took care of my twin when my father lost his life. She would, "Hoo, hoo," through her kitchen window. And our kitchen window, if the weather was good, would be open and we would hear her and we would let her know that we were up and about and getting ready to head off for school.

And another thing about that time was that my mother went to the little (...) neighborhood grocery store. And it was run by a man and his wife and the man's mother. (My mother said), "Now these two children will be coming to get food and they know how to (...) cook and how to prepare things. And if they want something that they really don't know, (will) Grandma (...) show us how to do it(?)" (...) We charged the groceries. And they took care that we bought the right kinds of food, and that we didn't exploit our mother and run up (high bills), because it was the Depression. And we both learned to cook. I don't know how people would do things today like that.

AI: But it sounds like you learned to be very self-sufficient.

RC: Yes.

AI: At a young age. And so by the time that you were in college you were working and able to support yourself and do your academics at the same time.

RC: During the summer between... I didn't go to summer school, I worked for the state. I took a state exam, as a junior clerk. And in those days I earned ninety dollars a month, and that was a lot of money. But it meant that I could pay maybe two quarters' tuition. Then I took out tuition notes. And before the end of the first year, after I got my credential, I paid off my tuition notes. That was another thing that my mother was very firm about. No debts. You pay your debts. You don't walk away from them.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, so at this time that you were at Stanford, both as an undergrad, but then also in your graduate work, could you tell me a little bit about Stanford and the new progressive education theory that was being developed and, and studied? Because, I think, as we were discussing before the interview, how, what a big change this was from the traditional education methods. So could you tell us some about that?

RC: Well, in the class that I learned about it, there were, I guess, four professors. And there were only twenty of us in the class. And it was just like opening a door. It was kind of a dark, you know, "Well, what's going on here? This is different. What will I find inside that dark room?" kind of thing. And they challenged us with the course, the core program. It was (...) social studies and English, combining them in using writing techniques, for instance. When you, (...) in the social studies area you have to learn to be able to use a vocabulary and write and using the right English techniques in writing. So we really got quite a handful from these four professors. There were two women and two men professors. I was going to be a teacher of public speaking. And so I had an English minor. (But) I always loved social studies, so I always had social studies as a background, too. So I took to it rather quickly. And I could see what they were (...) trying to do. And I think I did very well in that class. And of course, when I went to do my student teaching, it was altogether different because I (was not teaching English and Social Studies). There were techniques (...) I had learned in taking public speaking classes at USC and at Stanford. So I wasn't able to, in my student teaching, use that technique of the core program, but I had been trained to by those four professors.

AI: Well, so for people who don't, who don't know about this, I think it, maybe we could distinguish that the traditional method of saying, of teaching, say English, would be in, during the English subject matter teaching, the teacher would focus solely on matters of English, whether that be grammar, or vocabulary, or construction of an essay. But there would be --

RC: Or literature, too.

AI: Right. But there would be no mixing over of another subject. And likewise, with social science class, that you would be focusing on geography or some other topic in the social scientist -- sciences but you would not be mixing in issues of writing and English and so forth. And that was, was the difference then with the core curriculum.

RC: (Yes).

AI: Is that right?

RC: Well, when you (...) were doing some social studies work, your compositions would be based on subjects that they had been reading in the history books. And it was an easy thing then, you see. Because it gave them ideas. The children (...) at Minidoka, (were) bewildered (...). But they soon got the point.

AI: Well --

RC: It gave them subject matter, you see. And then it piqued their interest.

AI: Well, we're jumping ahead a little bit.

RC: Alright.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Because before we get to Minidoka I just wanted to finish up a little bit, a few other questions about your time in school. And during these years, although the United States wasn't in the war yet, the war in Europe had been going on for some time, and in Asia also. And I was wondering, what was your thinking at the time? Were you very much aware of what was happening in, in the war elsewhere? Did it occur to you that the U.S. might possibly enter the world war?

RC: Yes, because the draft took place. I was a 4-F, after my physical. I had a problem that they couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with me. And even when I was at Stanford, my roommate was going to be a med. student. And his father was head of, head of the medical department at University of Oklahoma. And so he was used to cooperating. (Volunteering when) there was a request for students to go to the healthcare center and volunteer for tests. (...) He and I then volunteered. It was there, that at Stanford, that I, I failed the physical, and the doctors knew why I failed the physical. It had to do with my thyroid. They were very afraid that the thyroid would cause a breakdown in my physical well-being. By the time I graduated I must have lost thirty or forty pounds, which was due to the thyroid deficiency. And they did everything they possibly could to help me. And it wasn't until after, I guess I must have been in my thirties, (...) a doctor came to Sacramento from Wisconsin, which is an area where thyroid and goiter problems were known. And I heard about him, and I went and he cured me. But I did not, I did not participate in the war other than going to be part of Minidoka, you see. (...) I felt was giving. But my two brothers, my eldest brother was already with the Army Corps of Engineers. And he had a, had a very important position in Utah in the underground explosive project that was going on there. And my next oldest brother went to officer's school and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. So, basically, we were prepared for it. And we had had a good education and we could see what was happening. We didn't know (when or where) it was going to happen, the bombing at Pearl Harbor, or anything like that, but, but somehow that it was going to be coming from some direction.

AI: So, at that point, it seemed perhaps somewhat inevitable that the U.S. would get, become engaged --

RC: (Yes).

AI: -- in war?

RC: (Yes). But it was one of those things, I think, that there had to be an attack to trigger it. And basically, I think the country was prepared. But they weren't prepared at where. It was a mental thing. And I know my eldest brother was privy to a lot of things that he couldn't discuss. And my other brother was in officer training school and I'm sure he was privy to information.

AI: When you say that, in a sense there had to be an attack, what did you mean by that?

RC: I guess it (...) seemed to be a worldwide situation of a showing of strength to see who was stronger than the others. And we had quite a navy, too, you see. And there were people going in the draft and being prepared for a problem. So...

AI: So, in a sense, it, it wasn't so surprising when something did happen?

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: And yet, I'm sure it was a shock when... how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of '41?

RC: This is very interesting. I, on Saturday I always liked to listen to H. (R). Keltenborn who was on the radio. And he was an expert in world problems. And the Japanese ambassador was meeting in Washington at the time. And somehow, in his report of that, I remember very clearly, he was sure something was going to happen on December 7th.

AI: Is that right?

RC: I was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. And I was sitting in church and... at the end of church I said to my brother, "Let's go out in the car and turn the radio on." And he looked at me kind of funny and I said, "Something's happened." And there was Pearl Harbor coming over the radio. It was, it was startling, but I, I just sort of... thinking of what Keltenborn had said. And he wasn't predicting, he was, he was just indicating that the possibility was there. So, of course, we went home and turned on the radio. And what a day. Very hard to think that that was happening. It changed all of our lives. And I don't think it'll ever be forgotten somehow. But of course, now we're friends. Which is a wonderful thing about life. Forgive and forget.

AI: But at the time it must have been a huge shock and a blow.

RC: It was a shock. It was a blow. It really was (...).

AI: And so, then how, you went -- it happened... Franklin Delano Roosevelt came on the radio and gave his famous speech. And what did that say to you about what...

RC: Well, I can remember listening to him. (...) My family liked Franklin Roosevelt. And we were grateful that he was our president because we felt that he would see us through. And it worked that way. He set the pattern of getting us through the whole, whole ordeal. (...) One of the tragedies of it, to me, was what happened to my Japanese American friends. That was sad. See, because I was teaching in Sacramento.

AI: Right. By that time you had gotten your credential.

RC: (Yes).

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: And so you were, you were teaching. And what grades was that that you were teaching?

RC: I was teaching at Sacramento High School. I was teaching English and history. And the man (...) whose class I took on a long-term appointment was in the service and I took over his classes. And I don't know what was -- I think they were on a par, the Pearl Harbor situation and the day the Japanese American children were taken out of school. The tears just flowed. And I had five classes, two social studies and three English classes. That day it was goodbye. And the saddest day -- the next saddest day, I guess I should say -- was the next one. When I walked into my room and the first period class came in, to see all those vacant chairs. And the rest of the day, all five periods, vacant chairs. And the hugs and the kisses goodbye, and the tears the day before were there. Because these, these kids had started kindergarten together. Some of them, they were arm over each other's shoulder pals, you see. And it was hard.

AI: So, even though Pearl Harbor had been bombed and certainly in the newspapers there were probably some very negative --

RC: There were.

AI: -- anti-Japanese statements, it sounds like, in your school, there was quite a bit of warmth and caring about the Japanese Americans.

RC: There was, there was. Because we, we were not an isolated area where there might have been three or four families that could be exposed to anger and bitterness and fury or whatever you want to call (...). There was a goodly population in Sacramento. And when you start kindergarten with youngsters and you grow up with them, you don't see differences. You know, you're pals, you're buddies. And over the years I've heard stories, wonderful stories of neighbors who came to the aid of the Japanese families when the time came when they had to leave their homes. And some of them had magnificent collections, valuable collections. And they had neighbors who they could trust to take care of them. And they were there when they returned. It was too bad it didn't happen to every one of the Japanese families. I know some that did not have that kind of relationship for some reason or other. But I have friends in Sacramento that I have been in touch with for years that they wouldn't have wanted the families to lose those beautiful things. And they cared for them. And yet I had a neighbor whose parents were farmers, up in the foothills. They were fruit growers. And there were Japanese who were orchardists up there. And they told the Japanese men, "We'll harvest your crop, and we'll sell it, and we'll deposit the money in the bank for you, and we'll prune your trees, and as long as you're gone, why, we'll take care of your property." Some did, and some did not. (Some) came back (to dead) trees (that) just had to be plowed up. They were destroyed because they hadn't been cared for. So, it shows human weaknesses, that (there) were good neighbors, and (there) were bad neighbors. And the good neighbors, they'll get their reward, you know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Okay, well, we're continuing our interview with Mr. Robert Coombs. And we were just, before the break, we were talking about the sadness of the requirement that Japanese and Japanese American families had to leave their homes. And that you were teaching at the time. And one day they were there in the classroom, and the next day your seats were empty. The students had gone. And that this was in April of 1942. So, at that point then, you finished teaching that school year there?

RC: Yes. I had been appointed on a duration, meaning for as long as the war (lasted), I was to hold that person's job for him. And the board of education met in June, towards the end of the school year, and decided that there were fifteen of us in Sacramento High School who were on a duration appointment and they could not afford to keep us, that the impact (of the loss of) population was so great that they would not need us. As it turned out, I think three people (...) women, (...) whose husbands were in the service, (...) at the beginning of the new school year they were hired for a duration appointment. (...)

AI: But because so many of the Japanese American families had been moved out --

RC: Yes.

AI: -- that the school population had dropped drastically.

RC: Yes.

AI: And therefore, the need for the teachers was no longer there.

RC: Well, of course, I wondered, "Well, now what am I going to do?" (...) I checked around the whole Sacramento County area, and even into other counties, Solano County and Placer County and they had an overflow of teachers that they were doing the same thing, too. And so I communicated with my master teacher at Stanford at the Department of Education. He was very glad to hear from me. He asked me to come down to Stanford. And when I got there he'd already made out a portion of an application for me to go ahead with my teaching, but in the relocation center school. Stanford was preparing the curriculum for three of the relocation centers. And he recommended that I go to Idaho.

AI: Well, when he recommended that, what was your reaction?

RC: Oh, I was thrilled. [Laughs] I had never been to Idaho. And he said, he handed me the application and asked me to finish making it out and sign it. And he had an address -- an envelope already addressed to the War Relocation Authority in Washington. And he said, "When you go home," he says, "I think you better get yourself ready because I think you'll probably hear from them within a week, and you'll be on your way." And so he said, "Get all of your books that you had in education, and other books that you think you might need in a core class, history, social studies and English literature." So, I signed the document and he put it in the envelope that already had a stamp on it and it was mailed. And I think it was about nine days (later), I received my instructions to report to Twin Falls at the Rogerson Hotel, and somebody would meet me there.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: Well, now, in, in such a short period of time, you found out about this position, you found out about the relocation centers, I'm wondering, when you made your application, how much did you know about the relocation centers at that time? Did you have an idea of what they were or what was going on there?

RC: I was going to be going into the unknown. And it didn't trouble me at all. I thought, "This is going to be an amazing experience," which it was, and still is.

AI: What, did you get any kinds of reactions from your friends or neighbors or colleagues about the fact that you were going to be going to do this teaching in a center where all the Japanese American families had been taken?

RC: Some neighbors were ugly. And I knew that my mother was all for it. When I came back from Stanford and I told her what had taken place and that, basically, I would be hired to go to Idaho to teach the Japanese children. She thought it was wonderful. And I said, "Well, what about you?" Well, she had heard (...) that my twin was coming up from Los Angeles. (...) She had worked at an air factory, I can't think of the name of the planes that they made. Anyway, but she had gotten a transfer to McClellan Air Force Base and would be coming up before I would leave. She was (...) practically on her way. Her husband was in France at that time in the army and so I knew my mother would (...) have my sister with her. And so that gave me a sense of relief. But the neighbors were ugly. And my mother just told them it was none of their affair where I was going. They thought it was terrible that one of my brothers was in the Aleutians and there was some skirmishes in the Aleutians, you know, and that I was not fair to my brothers and... my eldest brother, his attitude was, "Well, you do what you want to do." And of course, my mother was all for it. And so I went with her blessing and that's all I needed.

AI: So, it sounds so, it's very interesting to me, that your mother was very supportive, all for it.

RC: My twin was, also.

AI: Yes. And even though some of the neighbors, it sounds like they were actually accusing you of being somewhat of a traitor to the United States because you were going to teach.

RC: (Yes, yes).

AI: Was that the sense of some of them?

RC: I heard the words "damn Japs." And I hated that. And there was one neighbor who (...) said, "Well, you and I part company." I said, "You're not my friends." (...) It was their parents up there in the Placerville area that had the fruit orchards and what have you that, that pulled the dirty work on the Japanese growers up there, and destroyed their orchards. When I came back and heard that, they had moved by that time. And it didn't bother me.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Well, so, within about nine days, then, you received this notice.

RC: (...) I had a trunk and I had books in it and my clothes and I had train reservations. And I got off at, oh, what was the name of that place in Nevada? (Wells) Way out in the wilderness, there was a little desert town and then they packed my trunk onto a bus and I went on into Twin Falls.

AI: Well, even today, Twin Falls is not a very big town.

RC: No.

AI: What was it like then?

RC: (...) I was floored by the sagebrush and the rocks, the lava formations all along there and I thought, "What am I getting into? This is not a garden of Eden of any kind," you know. [Laughs] And I was met at the bus stop there, which was by the Rogerson Hotel. And I had written them for a reservation that night. The person who met me was from the War Relocation Authority. And the person said, "Tomorrow we'll take you around town and see if we can find a place where you can rent a room." And I said, "I don't want to live in town. I want to live on the project." I understood there was a men's dorm. And it was rather strange that some official of the War Relocation Authority would say, "Well, you don't want to live out there." And I said, "Yes, I want to live out there." I said, "There are times when I, maybe I could be of help to the youngsters, my evenings would be free." "Well, if that's what you want. Meet me here at seven o'clock in the morning. We'll get your trunk, put your trunk here." I had a small suitcase with clothes and (...) things like that. And so I went in and registered and asked for a call in time, (...) so I could get breakfast and go out with the people who were working out there as officials. They processed me when I got out there. And they took me across to the men's barracks building, and, where there was a cot. That was that. [Laughs] And I lived out of my trunk for a while until furniture from a hotel in San Francisco had been purchased. The men's dorm and the women's dorm were then furnished with something other than a very uncomfortable cot.

AI: Well, now this was August of 1942, wasn't it?

RC: Yes.

AI: When you, when you arrived there?

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: And so what did you see when you actually arrived at the relocation center itself? What, what was your first impression?

RC: The first thing I saw was the bridge over the rushing water, that they used for irrigation, and the water tower. The water tower fascinated me because it was a landmark. And I met the superintendent of schools, and the principal, who was from Stanford, also.

AI: That was Jerome Light, is that right?

RC: Jerome Light. Who I admired. He was a very creative person. Now, there's been a lot of controversy about him. And the thing that disturbed me about it was the fact that the people of Idaho finally realized they had a gold mine, politically, that they really weren't aware of. And then they suddenly realized, here are people coming from all over the country. And these are jobs that our people could have. (...) It became an interesting struggle for political power. And it was hard sometimes. Mr. Light, Dr. Light put up with an awful lot of problems, accusations that were not good, they were false. He had a beautiful family of four boys, a lovely wife. And they were living in the same kind of situation that I was living in (...). The boys were going to the school (...). And I learned a lot from him. School was not in session. We had to build the core program. And he knew (...) why I was hired. He was expecting me, he'd been notified by the professor that sponsored me. And he knew that professor.

So, the first few days (...) I was processed, and I wandered the project. Some blocks had not been finished being built and I got acquainted where the school was being built. The food was a problem for me (...) in our area. I don't eat fish. Fish and I never have gotten along very well. Basically, as a twin, the doctor told my mother, "If you're going to raise those twins you're going to have to give them cod liver oil." Yes. [Laughs] My sister lapped it up and I could not tolerate it. Well, you see, (...) as I told you, my grandmother had had three sets of twins, and my mother saw five of the six babies die. And so she knew what he was talking about. Well, I just couldn't tolerate fish after the sampling of that cod liver oil. And so, they finally got used to having something for me to eat dinner when they were having fish. They understood. And one of the nice things was to see some of the girls from the high school serving -- checking us off, because our meals were taken out of our checks. And I don't think it took me more than a week to be accustomed to the life that I was going to live.

And I had some fascinating experiences. I remember Jerry Light coming to me and saying, "We're going camping in the mountains over the Labor Day weekend, and we want you as our guest." Well, it was a nice experience for him, and for me, because we were talking about what we were going to be doing in the way of helping the teachers that were coming from all over the country. (...) There were teachers coming from (...) Japan (and) other Asian countries, that were traditionalists. And they needed to know what the plan was for the schools in Minidoka. And so we all met together. Some of them were a little bit cross over the fact that they felt that they were perfectly capable of teaching the way they had been taught to teach as opposed to the core situation that we Stanford people had been trained in and they were a little bit ticked by it. And my to-be-wife was, had her master's degree from University of South Dakota and she felt she was perfectly capable of teaching Spanish and French without having to be bothered with what Stanford said she had to do. [Laughs] (...)

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, from some reading I've done on education history, my understanding is that there was quite a debate between the more traditionalist type teachers and the progressives at Stanford who really, it sounded like, had a new vision of teaching, and a new vision of school, what public education could become. And it sounded to me that one of the goals, or values of the progressive education people was that education in school could be more integrated with community life. And democratic ideals of community life would be somehow integrated, especially with the core curriculum. Have I got that idea right? Or maybe, perhaps you could tell more about that.

RC: I think there's one word that I would use, it was to "modernize" this group of people, to bring them into a new look at life that they were going to be leading. And I, I personally think that, that those young people (...) had that opportunity to be in core classes probably were helped in many ways, to meet the world after the war, because the country changed. Everybody was going in a different way. Life was going to be different. And it was, and it still is different. And the controversy about that, with the Idahoans, created, that's what created the problem with Dr. Light. It seemed that his name, with what he was trying to produce was "light." And he was raising his four sons with the idea that it was going to be a new world. And he prepared them for it, from a parent point of view. And (...) that's the way my wife and I raised our three children. She caught on after a while and she realized what was behind it, even though she had gotten tired of hearing the name Stanford. [Laughs] But, anyway.

AI: Well, when you say "a new world," and "modernizing," what were the hallmarks, some of the main goals of this approach?

RC: Change. Trying to get people to realize that you cannot continue to go the same old way. That all around you things will be changing. We were a radio world. What happened? We became television people. Then computers have come in. And so many people just grasped at those new things. Automobiles. The type of automobiles changed. Airplane life now, we fly all over the world, beautiful trains throughout the world. And our approach to taking care of ourselves and the way of eating and living and, and accepting people. All that was part of that wonderful change that took place. I know I'm not as I used to be. And yet, I, I recognized what I was being taught at Stanford, and I became part of it. And in raising our three children, both my wife and I were very open with them so that they could position themselves in a world and do the things that they wanted to do. And each went his or her way with our blessing, you see. And I grew up where, at a time -- although my mother was very open -- but I grew up in a time where a parent had a great deal of control over who you were, and why you were, and you're gonna do this. And that's gone.

AI: Well, and it seems like, at that time, at Minidoka, many of the parents of the families there, many of the Japanese parents very much had an attitude that they would control their children's future.

RC: And I think it created problems in their family life. Because their young people were listening to something different. It was something different for them. And I see these students that I had, and see how far they went after they left Minidoka. Those who left the service and survived, their lives were totally, are totally different than they probably expected them to be. Our congress, my congressman is Robert Matsui. He's an example, you see.

AI: So, in a sense, when you were, at the beginning of your work at Minidoka, you and Dr. Light and some of the others were really formulating a curriculum, as you mentioned in your writing, the scope and sequence for the teaching of students in a way that would be, that you would hope would prepare them for some unknown changes --

RC: Yes.

AI: -- to come.

RC: Yes.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Well, so now, as I understand it, the school buildings were not yet ready?

RC: No.

AI: And so, high school didn't start until later in the fall. Is that right?

RC: Close to November.

AI: About November?

RC: The children were out harvesting the sugar beet crop. And I've got to hand this to the Idahoans: the children, the seniors and juniors, those that were old enough to, their parents would let them get on trucks and go out to harvest sugar beets and potatoes. It helped them financially. They earned money for their folks. And the kids went out as a lark. That's the thing that I liked. They were out from behind the barbed wire. And it was something that the Idahoans profited by. The sugar crop, (...) the sugar beet crop supplied a battleship, you might say, with enough ammunition for (...) one battle. That was how valuable the sugar crop was to the country as a whole, you see. And they (became) very experienced at picking the potatoes up and putting them in sacks and getting the sugar beets up in the right manner. And later on, in the next harvest season on the project, when things were ready, the farmers on the project would come to the school. We had an Ag teacher and they contacted him (that they) were gonna send four (...) or five trucks over, and (they) wanted so many youngsters to come and harvest carrots or these big, big tall white radishes, or potatoes, or clear land. We went out and -- I always looked forward to -- because I liked to garden -- taking a bunch of kids out, and we just had a ball. We became dirty as pigs. [Laughs] That dust was terrible. But there were always showers that could be taken. But it was another way of becoming acquainted on, on a level that I've never seen since, you see.

AI: Well, now once the school -- now was Hunt a junior, combined junior and senior high school?

RC: Yes.

AI: And so then, once the junior/senior high school started up, you were teaching both, was it tenth and eleventh graders?

RC: Tenth and eleventh, yes, and public speaking.

AI: And so, tell me a little bit about the conditions of the school then, when it started up that fall.

RC: Well, it was almost time for the pot-bellied stoves to be lighted. [Laughs] Where those that sat in front roasted, those that sat in the (...) back almost froze, for a while. So we had to keep moving. And it was, it was done very quietly. The youngsters that got cold came up and got warm. Every once-in-a-while the stove would explode a little and the lid from the top, and the black smoke would come out. And somebody would quickly grab the lid and get it back on. And the boys were good about keeping the pot-bellied stoves going. And I think one of the hardest things was, in teaching English, was the inability to have a blackboard. We had big rolls of paper. And we would nail it on two-by-fours. Then we'd have a black, heavy pen to write on. And when we would finish, why, we could just rip it off, you see, or we would bring it over so that we could refer back to it. With social studies, why, it was not that difficult (...). We didn't use the blackboard all that much. We did a lot of talking and reading aloud and discussing and so forth. And our writing always reverted back to the history program. It gave us subject matter other than the life they were leading there or their past life. And sometimes it was an unhappy thing to refer to their home in Seattle, or Portland, or wherever, because they still had wonderful memories of their past life. So this gave us an opportunity to come up with subject matter that they could learn about and give their opinions right there.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, through some of these assignments, you must have heard some difficult stories of things that some of the students had gone through.

RC: Not many wanted to talk about it. There were children that had to be taken out of the project. And there was a Methodist minister who had his office right next to my classroom, which was rather interesting. And there were several of my students that needed care. And he worked with their families. And then there was a Catholic priest, Father Tibbesart. The Methodist minister, I think was Machado. I can't remember, but I think that's what his name was. And then a very famous, he became a professor at the University of Chicago, Father...

AI: Oh, Kitagawa?

RC: Kitagawa. Wonderful human being. They were there to help, and they helped. I had one other boy who was very angry. So angry that it was dangerous to him mentally and physically. And they worked well to get him into a home in the Midwest, which apparently it got him away from that environment and put him into a situation where he wanted to live. One of the nice things, too, were the missionary teachers that came from the Orient. They were saved by the last ship that left the Far East. They came across the southern part of the world. I can't remember the name of that ship now. And it's too bad because it was an historic voyage that they took. They're all gone now. And they were wonderful ladies. And you see, their background was wonderful to someone like me. They were elderly, really, they were in their sixties. And here I was in my twenties. And I learned a lot from them. And where they came from, they, I think two or three of them spoke Japanese. One of them, afterwards, became secretary to a man who was to become Senator Church of Idaho. (...) He wanted her to go back to Washington when he was elected senator and here she was pushing seventy-something and she says, "Oh, no. You don't want me." [Laughs] So she, she stayed in Boise. But he went to back to Washington as Senator Church.

AI: Well, it must have been very helpful for some of the teachers who did speak Japanese to communicate with some of the parents.

RC: Yes.

AI: I'm wondering, did you have much contact with parents of your students?

RC: No, no. One of the things that we started right at the very beginning, the teachers who had come from Japan and spoke Japanese decided that two or three evenings a week, we'd get together for an hour (to learn some Japanese). Well, that was fine before school started. But once school started, it was a long day for us. And we had work to do at night (and we had to give up our language lessons).

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: In fact, could you describe maybe what a typical day was like once school started? What, from the time you woke up, what would your typical school day look like?

RC: Well, I'd have breakfast, go back to my room and get the material that I had brought that I'd worked on that evening before. Visualize class, core classes of fifty-five youngsters.

AI: That's a large class.

RC: There were many papers. There was much work that had to be prepared for them. Some needed a little extra help. One of the pleasures was the public speaking class because of the wide range of subjects could be entered into and the youngsters had a lot of enthusiasm for it. One of my favorites was, I just saw, Ninomiya, I just saw him this morning. I said, "Are you in the hotel?" He (said), "No, I'm staying with my sister here." Calvin Ninomiya. What a wonderful career he has had. Are you going to interview him?

AI: Not this time, but, unfortunately.

RC: He's had a fabulous career and he's handled life beautifully. But, I'd go down in the morning before any of the youngsters arrived. And after school, we worked, we worked a regular eight to five day. And (got) things on our, so-called blackboard, you know, for the next day. And if I had time I would -- and it was good weather -- I would be planting a garden around (...) my room (the) end, and then by the porch I would plant flowers. And everybody thought that was funny that somebody would be planting flowers. But I always grew flowers. That was my fun. And they finally liked the idea and helped me pull weeds and helped me water, and so... (...) it was an altogether different teaching experience, because I had never taught a class that had more than thirty youngsters in it, usually twenty-eight to thirty. And then, almost double! And to learn the names. Some that did not have the English name, that had the Japanese names! Of course the Japanese names, boy, I knew them, but I found out there were far more than I thought was possible. And as I see people walking around with their signs here, those last names are amazing.

AI: It must have been quite a challenge.

RC: It was a real challenge. But I loved every minute of it. And when the time came for me to leave I realized that there was a reason for my leaving, that the numbers were dwindling and the War Relocation Authority were keeping husband and wives that they had hired because they had two teachers (...). And it simplified things.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: Well, before we get to that point of your leaving, I wanted to back up a little bit toward, to the end of 1943. And I understand there was a, something of a Christmas celebration there, even though conditions were difficult at Minidoka, that there was some, some Christmas festivities. Do you recall much about that? I'm sorry, the Christmas of '42?

RC: I came home for Christmas.

AI: To Sacramento?

RC: To Sacramento because my brother, who'd been overseas, had come home on a furlough and I wanted to see him. And school was out for, oh, I guess a week or so. So I came home.

AI: Well, that must have been very special for you to be able to be back at home with your family.

RC: (...) Yes. One of the special things that I must mention that would give you an idea of what my mother was like. She worked in a, in a boy's store in Sacramento. And she had a week's vacation. And I wrote her probably four or five times a week telling her everything. A living history for her. And she wrote back and (asked), "Would you find out if I could come and have my vacation there with you?" So I started with the principal. He took it to the superintendent, who took it to the head of the War Relocation center and got an okay. And then the women's dorm had a guest room and they thought it would be great for my mother to come. So my mother came and spent a week. And she loved every minute of it.

AI: Is that right?

RC: She came and sat in my class, and my kids thought it was great that my mother was there. And between classes she would talk to them and then she would go into other classrooms. And it was a wonderful experience for her and for me because we were very close. So, then she came home -- and she was active in the Presbyterian Church (...), I'm still a member of. And she gave talks about her week, her vacation week. [Laughs]

AI: Well, my goodness, what kind of reaction did she get?

RC: Oh, people were interested in it. The women in that church are very mission-minded. And this was a mission. And there was no religion involved, but there was, there was love involved. And the kids just loved visiting with my mother. [Laughs]

AI: That's, that's wonderful.

RC: (Yes).

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Well, now, as we're -- I want to focus on the year 1943. So, you were able to have a Christmas break with your family.

RC: (Yes).

AI: Then you went back to Minidoka. And during this year, I understand in 1943 is when the government started allowing the Nisei boys to volunteer for the army.

RC: (Yes).

AI: And I'm wondering, when you heard that news, what was your thought about that?

RC: I did not -- the only seniors I had were in my, in my public speaking class. [Coughs] Excuse me. And to my knowledge, not one volunteered from that class. They wanted to finish high school. It was up to the, the twelfth grade core teachers, and I think they did -- they were hoping that they would not volunteer to go into the service until they finished high school. But I think some did. I heard one of them talking about it last night, that he never did finish school. He got a pass to go out and he, he, he went into Utah, or some state. And he wasn't attending school. And he says the hooky cop caught him -- [laughs] -- and they put him in school. But he wanted to get away. But he didn't go into the army. But some did.

AI: Well, and I understand, at the same time, as some of the fellows were volunteering for service, that, this was also the time when everyone was required to register --

RC: (Yes).

AI: -- and fill out this questionnaire. I'm wondering... I think I read in your article that you also did some counseling of students.

RC: Yes.

AI: And I'm wondering whether anyone came to you at that time with some difficulty about the questionnaire or related issues?

RC: No. The adults were the ones who were (to fill) that out. And I think they, they did that among themselves. I have read articles and I have read stories about that. And it must have been a horrible thing. There was a professor at Stanford ... oh, I can't remember the book, the name of the book that he wrote. It had to do with morning glory... something. [Ed. note: narrator is referring to Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and His Internment Writings, 1942-1945 by Gordon Chang (Editor).]

AI: Oh yes. About Professor Ichihashi? Ichikawa?

RC: Something.

AI: Yes.

RC: This was a, I think a Chinese professor, who wrote about his room, office mate. Was it Hayashi? Professor Hayashi?

AI: I'm trying to remember if... I think it was Ichikawa, but I'm not positive.

RC: That's more like it. That really, basically, he was at Tule Lake. And I got more out of that book about that questionnaire. I never saw one of the questionnaires. And I realized what they had faced after I read that book.

AI: But at the time it wasn't clear to you?

RC: No. It was, it was sort of a block thing, where the people in the block had their meetings. And they had leaders. And the children didn't talk about it.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well now, in your role as a counselor, I'm thinking that part of your role would be to help students think about their possible future. But in the early part of 1943, it occurs to me that some of the students might have felt quite pessimistic, that as a person of Japanese ancestry, their future might not be too positive in this country. What was your thinking at that time?

RC: Well, I would say all the core teachers were, were directing everything towards a future: "Graduation from high school is the most important thing that you should have on your mind. And then, the rest will take care of itself. Because, by the time you're a senior, you're going to have ideas of where you want to go and what you want to do." And in the public speaking class that I taught, I tried to direct their speeches towards: "Now what?" What's going to happen? What are we going to do? Where are we going? A lot of the boys, of course, felt that they would end up in service. And the thing, the thing that I found out afterwards, so many girls, when they went to the Midwest and the East, became teachers. And I thought that was wonderful.

AI: So at that time, you were really encouraging the students --

RC: Oh yes.

AI: -- to believe that there could be a positive future?

RC: Oh yes. Their future was ahead of them and they had to, they had to work at it, work it out. That's all, that was part of that change that I was talking about, you see. They might not have, not have gotten involved in anything like that if they'd stayed in Oregon and Washington. And they have to look back -- and I think, those that I have met over the years, they had to think that "I am somebody that I never thought I was ever going to be." Now maybe you can understand that statement, and see why I said it. Maybe they were just going to be homebodies, I don't know, or be a traditional Japanese. And you're not, you see. You're Americans. And I see that, right here. Backslapping, punching somebody, as I saw this morning, couple fellows punching each other on the shoulder, totally out of their past, you see. It's gone. And as I say, it goes back to change.

AI: Well, also during this year of 1943, especially, and, but I guess also into 1944, I had a question about what it was like for you to be teaching in the core and your, part of that was teaching U.S. history, of course, and also teaching principles of democracy. And what was it like for you to be teaching about democracy in this situation that, in some sense was not a very good example of, of democracy? They were in a camp situation where they could not fully practice as free citizens.

RC: Well, there were two, maybe... how can I say this? There were two sides to the population. There were those who had decided they weren't going to leave until the end. The other, "There are ways to get out of here, and we're gonna get out of here." And people like Father Tibbesart, the Catholic, Reverend Machado. Now I mentioned the professor --

AI: Oh, Father Kitagawa.

RC: Father Kitagawa. They were, they were mainstays of moving people out. Opening the door for them. And they did a fabulous job of that. And you see, our classes of fifty-eight some days were down to fifty-two, down to fifty, down into the forties. And we were saying goodbye, you see. And so, there, within the community there were these people who had contacts in the Midwest and in the East that were moving people out because they could go. The West was supposed to be someplace they couldn't be. But they could be any other place. They had to have a sponsor. And the sponsors were found by these three men. And they were, you might say they were holy men. And any family that, that realized that and took advantage of that, they were five jumps ahead of everybody else, you see.

AI: So some families were able to take advantage of that?

RC: Yes, yes.

AI: And were able to go out.

RC: (Yes).

AI: But others, for whatever reasons, various reasons, either weren't able to, or didn't want to.

RC: They wanted to go home. They didn't want to go any other place. They wanted to go home. And so they were willing to wait until they could go back home. And, of course, I think going back home, probably was a difficult thing, when they got home. The change was probably greater than they imagined it would be.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: Well, before we get to that point, I wanted to focus back again on the school situation there and the idea that you were teaching the students about democracy and, did you sometimes get questions from the students about why they were learning about principles of democracy that were in some ways denied to them as people who were restricted in this camp? Did any students raise those kinds of questions?

RC: (Yes), and... if I recall, there was one time I said, "Well, you know, tell me about something that's perfect." And that was a strange question for me to ask them. There's no such thing as perfection. You do the best you can with what you have, and what's going on. And I, as a counselor, and teacher, had to put it to them that way. Because that was their only way that they could get some kind of peace is to realize that this is an imperfect world, this is an imperfect time. And if it ever got perfect, hallelujah, you know. And I think they understood that. I think that one of the reasons I wanted to come again -- this'll be my third one, twice here in Seattle and once in Las Vegas -- I think that's why I get greeted so beautifully. It warms my heart, have somebody come up and put their arms around me. Because in a sense, that's not Japanese, is it? That's American. So...

AI: So, my understanding of what you were saying, is that you were living in a, in a democracy that was imperfect.

RC: Uh-huh. And it's still imperfect. And I doubt if it will ever be perfect. I'm not one of these who has... the sky is the limit, you know. I'm not a diehard believer that things can be perfect. Life is not perfect.

AI: And so, in discussing that with your students, then you were able to have a serious discussion about democracy while at the same time recognizing the realities --

RC: (Yes).

AI: -- at the time.

RC: (Yes). They realized that life is not perfect. They were going through an imperfect situation.

AI: Did you come across any students that you felt were really giving up on democracy? Really so disillusioned with America that they were turning away from --

RC: A few, a few. There was anger. And I think they outgrew it. I met one last night who I hadn't seen, who was very, very angry. Sat right in front of me in the room, school room, and tried, tried to be a disturbance. And I never allowed it to bother me. And we've communicated by telephone and by Christmas cards when I found out where she was. And last night I saw her walk by me. Now, the last time I saw her was in 1944. And I said to the friends I was with, I said, "There she is." I had mentioned I wanted to see this girl, this lady. And I said, "There she is." "Well, go over there and speak to her." And I said, well, maybe she'll turn around and it isn't she and I didn't want to, want to expose myself. [Laughs] And the more I looked at her, then the surer I was that's who it was. And I went over and I spoke to her by name, and she whirled around and looked at me. And we put our arms around each other. And later on, in the evening, we sat down and ate some grapes and some melon together and visited. Friends.

AI: That's wonderful.

RC: Nice experience. So I, the fact that I'm in my eighties and these young people are in their seventies now, we're very close. It seemed like we were far apart, teacher/student. The two words separates us, you see. But now, we're not separated at all.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: So, we're continuing our interview with Mr. Robert Coombs. And I wanted to ask you a little bit more about life there at Minidoka and some of your interactions with some of the Japanese and Japanese Americans there.

RC: Well, the first, the first interaction was, was with the cleaning ladies. There was a crew of ladies that would come up to clean the men's dorm, particularly, they had a rough job. The winds blew. And in the spring and summer it was dust time. And they ended up by having to clean the rooms and the main living room in front of it, the living quarters, twice a day. They'd leave to go back to their block for lunch and then they'd start all over again because you just would swipe the dust off things, if they hadn't arrived, you know. But one of the nice experiences I had was when they got done, apparently they would sit and talk and do crochet or knitting or embroidery work and things like that. And one day -- they knew that I would go into town maybe every two or three weeks on a Saturday afternoon, and come back Sunday night. And one of them kind of screwed up her courage, I guess, and asked me if I minded if they asked me to buy some things for them in Twin Falls. And I said, no, I didn't mind that. It'd be something for me to do. So it turned out that they had a whole list of things that, in the embroidery realm of knitting material, embroidery threads and patterns, and everything was listed just so, you know. And so, I remember the first time I, I took this list and they gave me some money. And I said, "Well, let's see how much it costs. Let me buy it and (...) I'll give you the bill when I get back with your things."

And the first time I went into the place where they said I should go -- because somebody had been doing it for them, and then stopped or gone away. I don't know what the circumstances were. And I walked into this place and went up to the clerk and got the list out and told her what I wanted. And she said, "Where are you from?" And I told her. "Oh. Well, I don't know whether I want to sell these things." And I (said), "Well, what difference does it make who's buying these things, who's using these things? After all, it's money in your pocket, isn't it?" "Well, yes." (They said), "Okay, this is a business deal. I'm buying these things and I'm paying you for them." So I gave her the list and she took off and she filled the order and I gave her the money. Monday morning the ladies arrived and with expectations and there I had all of their material that they had been looking forward to. From then on, whenever they ran out of something and they knew I was going into town -- the same lady, when I walked into her store, why, she had her hand out for the list. And the thing that was interesting was that she realized that it was foolish of her to be that way. That this was her job. She was in business. And I reminded her of the fact that this was a business deal and she was going to get paid for it. And then we became friends afterwards. That was my contact with the (cleaning) ladies -- they always (said), "Ohayo gozaimasu, Sensei." And in the morning, when I would be going down the hill to the school they would be coming up and they always said, "Ohayo gozaimasu, Sensei," which was a wonderful experience every morning, to be greeted that way. And I would, I would bow my head and greet them. And, so we had that kind of a contact, too.

AI: It must have been very, it must have been quite a wonderful thing for them that they had this relationship with you and that you were able to help them out in some ways. And then that you also, when you went into Twin Falls, you made a difference --

RC: (Yes).

AI: -- with the salesperson.

RC: But, you see, she was, she was one of a few that were out of line. Because it didn't take long for the Idahoans to realize that the people of that project were, were saviors in some way. Their, their crops were very valuable and they were being saved, every spring, every fall. And they realized it. The only thing that (...) made them unhappy, in my recollection, was the fact that the boys and girls that graduated from Minidoka, Hunt High School, (...) were accepted by the Northwest organization so that they could (...) go to a university.

AI: In other words, Hunt High School was accredited.

RC: It was accredited.

AI: And this was in contrast to the Idaho schools.

RC: Yes, yes.

AI: The public schools.

RC: And they, they got involved. They realized that they had to do something for their own kids.

AI: So, in some ways it stimulated --

RC: Oh (yes).

AI: -- the Idaho -- the department of education to upgrade?

RC: And I go back to the word "change." That place changed Idaho in many ways.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Well then, moving on to 1944 then, as you had mentioned earlier, more and more families were able to relocate outside of Minidoka. And then the population of the school was reducing. And so, you were looking at possibly moving on, that -- you weren't actually asked to resign, but you were looking at leaving the camp. So, could you tell me about that time, as you were preparing to leave and then finally leaving?

RC: Well, some of the teachers had left -- single teachers. And I realized that the population of the school was going down (...) with relocation. And one of the teachers had left to be married, up in the Palouse country, and -- Gladys Gilbertson was her name. And she had written to me. And I had always wanted a collie dog. And they had raised, were raising a batch of collie puppies. And she wanted (...) to know when I was going to leave. And I indicated that I was going to probably leave towards the end of October. And I wanted to be home in November. It was election time and I wanted to be home to vote. So I put in my resignation and it was accepted. And took the bus up to where she lived up on the farm, outside of, I call it the Palouse country. And I spent two wonderful weeks with them, and getting acquainted with my collie puppy. They built a crate for him. And they took me to, oh, where is, where is Washington State? Pullman, they took me to Pullman and put me and my dog on the train. [Laughs] He in the baggage car and me in a passenger car. I changed in Seattle and took the train down to Davis and was met by my oldest brother. My pup and I arrived home, much to the joy of my mother. And (...) that the people in my church were waiting for me to come home and talk about where I had been. They were interested because my mother had talked with the women's association about my experiences, and her visit. And then I, I was going to give up teaching.

AI: Why was that?

RC: Well, what could have been better, what I was doing? Was my, somehow, thought process. And I, I went to work in San Francisco. And then I decided I wanted to go back home to be with my family. And my twin was still working at McClellan Air Force Base. I went out and took a test and they put me to work right away in the payroll office. And I worked until Mr. Burkhard called me. He says, "Your name is going to the board of education tonight. You've got a job at Sutter Junior High. And I said, "Well, I wasn't going back to teaching." "Well," he says, "you are." So I did. And it was, it was a wonderful experience. In three years I was counseling, I guess, four-fifths of the time. And then it was an old, old school that had been built in the late 1890s and it (...)... we had been told that they were going to have to build a new one. So I ended up in the new building and worked until '78, when I retired, but I was full-time counselor then.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, so then, in those early years -- actually, let me, let me back up a bit. In 1945, then, was that, the fall of 1945, is that when you started at Sutter?

RC: Yes.

AI: Then that was just shortly after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I'm wondering, when that news came to you, what went through your mind?

RC: The horror of it. And it still -- that bomb is still a horrible thing. It, it's sort of like an unforgivable act. And yet, we know what the consequences were. It brought about an end. The sacrifice of lives, apparently by, the government thought, they thought it was worth it, because to invade Japan, there would have been a mass slaughter, probably. It's hard to know what would have happened. I think there was a sense of gladness on the part, probably of the Japanese, that it was over with, too. They'd have to be -- get that load off their backs. They, they had a horrible life during that period of time. That's just my general reaction, (...) I was married in '45 and when my son was stationed in Japan at Masawa Air Force Base, that was some years afterwards, Marguerite and I went over, and we toured Japan. And we had the most wonderful experience touring Japan. It couldn't have been nicer, couldn't have been welcomed with such pleasure everywhere we went.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: Well, speaking of your wife, Marguerite, you had mentioned earlier that you had met at Minidoka, while she was a teacher, also. And, now, you... when was it that you married? Because you had left Minidoka, and she had left also, to go elsewhere? And so then how did you meet up again, and then --

RC: We kept in contact by phone and by letter. I went to Minneapolis to visit her and meet her father. We went (...) to South Dakota and met, and then made plans by phone. (...) We weren't going to be married until the summer of '46 and I just called her one night, (...) she was subbing in Minneapolis, and she wasn't happy. And I said, "Well, why don't you come out here and we'll get married on Christmas Day?" So we got married on Christmas Day. I asked our minister if he'd ever married anybody on Christmas Day. And he looked at me and he said, "Well, no." But he says, "It sounds like a nice thing to do." So, we were married on Christmas Day.

AI: How special.

RC: (Yes). So, we had a wonderful life together.

AI: Well, now, you had, you said you had three children then.

RC: Three children.

AI: And, when were, when were they born? When did they start coming?

RC: Oh, let's see. I'm trying to think... '46, '48 and '50. I think that's the way they are.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: And then, during those years, at the same time as you were teaching, I understand that some of the families, Japanese American families started returning to the Sacramento area?

RC: Uh-huh.

AI: So, did you have any of them in your classes, coming back to the area in the '40s, late '40s?

RC: Very few at the school that I was in. It was a downtown school and they were usually out in the south area of Sacramento, and, or the east part of Sacramento. Once in a while there would be one or two. They had been born after the fact, you see.

AI: Right.

RC: Of the relocation center.

AI: Right.

RC: But their parents would tell them about it.

AI: Well, I'm wondering about what the, the tone, or the feeling toward Japanese Americans was in the, after the war in the Sacramento area. Because you had mentioned about some ugliness when you had first decided to go and work in the relocation center. Now, after the war, what was the feeling?

RC: I don't think there has been an ill will at all. Of course, you'd have to ask somebody who went through the experience. Maybe they had situations that were difficult. I don't know. Those that I have met, we have just had a wonderful relationship. The man that interviewed me for the book, he was, he and I were just, we just got along great, and he never once made any comment that he had had a troublesome time. Marion, same with her. (...) I think people are living with a sense of happiness. And I think that the change that I mentioned is evident in their experience.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, speaking of a change, in the thirty-three years that you taught and counseled at Sutter Junior High School, you then saw several, three decades of social change happening. And I'm wondering if you could just comment a little bit on that. Because from the time, so much change, from the time that you had been a child to then, now the '40s, '50s, '60s, into the '70s. What --

RC: I think the worst time was the Vietnamese situation. (...) The young people (...) just had attitudes that were not healthy for them.

AI: In what sense?

RC: Drugs. Liquor. Anger. These were Caucasian children that I'm speaking of. And a different attitude towards life. Apparently, their older siblings were experimenting with all kinds of things. And it affected them and they picked some of the habits up. It was a very difficult time. And it was answered by the Sacramento Police Department with a program that was very, very wonderful. They called it Youth Service Officers. And most junior highs had two Youth Service Officers on campuses throughout the city until that situation was resolved and the war was over. But you see how strange things work on people at certain times? These were Caucasian young people that were just blown away by that war. And some of the things that they did were, I'm sure they look back as -- they were dangerous things. And yet that was, seemed to be the thing that, that their older siblings were doing to take their minds off that war that they were going to have to go and fight. So, that was a very difficult time. I would have angry parents coming in. (...) They were angry because the vice-principal would be dealing with drunken girls, marijuana, boys smoking marijuana, carrying marijuana in their pockets and so on. And parents were angry at the teachers in the schools for saying, "You can't do that. We can't tolerate that." So we were, we were being bad parents to them. They were being good parents, or so they thought. And it was nice when that war ended, because we gradually got a change of attitude and could get back to the business at hand.

AI: It sounds like the young people were -- that you worked with were, some of them quite disturbed.

RC: Very, very disturbed. I also had deaf and hard of hearing children in my counseling situation. And it was, it was a good experience for me because I lost the hearing in both ears overnight. And the right ear came back. And it's, it's... I still have half an ear there, hearing-wise. Otherwise, I would be totally deaf. And it gave me an opportunity to deal with deaf children and know what they go through. And I tried to learn sign language, but it didn't work. [Laughs] Because their, the teacher of the deaf wanted them to learn to read lips and...

AI: Ah, I see.

RC: So they wanted me to talk.

AI: Right. [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, you know, I wanted to ask a little bit about... I think it was possibly after you retired from Sutter, that, the very late 1970s, and then into the 1980s there was this activity for redress or reparations for the Japanese Americans who had been in the camps. And I'm wondering if you heard much about those efforts, and if so, what your thought was on those when you heard about it.

RC: (...) I think I said, "It's about time." And I don't know anybody in my acquaintance that was negative about it. I think it could have been more, and probably should have. But there were some diehards. And I, I remember several friends of mine and I asked them to put themselves in that position and see what it would be like to come home and find the person that you trusted had gotten rid of your precious things and... or destroyed your orchard and what-have-you. How would you react? Wouldn't you be angry? And wouldn't you feel like you should have recompense in some, in some way? And they listened to me. There are a lot of thoughtless people and they have to be told that they have to change their thinking. Put themselves in somebody else's boots. So I was glad it was done.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, of course, looking back now, I think it's easy, easier for people to say that the United States government made some mistakes at that time and that it was not a democratic thing to put these people in these camps without a due process of law. They were not really... no evidence was really brought against them as individuals. They did not have their individual day in court before being stuck in these places. So it's, in some ways it's easier to look back now, but at the time, it, my understanding is that many people thought the government was doing what it had to do, and that it was, that the government was right to do that. So, I'm wondering if you could, if you could think back again, to those days when you were actually in Minidoka, what did you think at that time? Did you think the government had to do that, that they had done the right thing, or no, really it was --

RC: I guess I'm like Mrs. Roosevelt. She battled her husband and that general and lost the battle. And she was right. And I think that's why they opened up most of the country to the Japanese and the relocation program was opened up to them.

AI: So, you felt really, it was fundamentally wrong?

RC: Yes, yes. It damaged, it damaged those that... your elders. And it put you, the children, in a position of, of being disturbed. I don't know... none of, none of the children that I -- that are now in their seventies -- [laughs] -- and have ever indicated to me, when I visited them, and they visited me, that they carry any animosity. They've had a good life and were treated well. And they've been allowed to be themselves. Now maybe there are some that still brood about it. Some lost family in the war when they were in service and that was hard. Lot of people lost their lives in the war. It was a horrible war.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, it's unfortunate, that more recently now, we have something that has been considered almost a parallel, which was the attacks of September 11th in 2001. And immediately, when that happened I heard on the news, some news commentators making a direct comparison with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And I'm wondering, when the September 11th attacks occurred, what went through your mind? Did you think about that? How did it strike you?

RC: Well, I thought it was a terrible thing but Pearl Harbor never entered into my thoughts. Newspeople do strange things. That was one of those kinds of things that got people's attention and news, news writers will do that. You watch your newspaper and see (...) how headlines are written. Special people write headlines for newspapers. They're trained and they know (...) how to do it. And it's just an eye-grabbing kind of thing. I never, never put the two together.

AI: What about afterwards? I think perhaps, I myself was thinking that perhaps more of a similarity was afterwards that... in the way that Japanese Americans were sometimes vilified or ostracized or being confused with being called the enemy, even though they were Americans. Similarly, after September 11th, that some Muslim Americans or Americans of Middle Eastern ancestry received some very negative reactions.

RC: They have. They have. In my church, we have had, we had a new minister come, and he had members of clerics of all religions at his installation, Jew, Muslim, you name it. Basically to, to indicate that there should be unity. But it's hard to change people. People get set in their ways. I've used the word "change" a number of times and I, maybe I've overused it, but there comes a time in my life and I think, as I look back, that every change that took place in my life was for the better, for me, for others, maybe. So, I'm stuck with it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, I just had a couple more questions, and one is going back toward, to your family life, and as you were raising your own three children, I'm wondering, did you and your wife ever talk about your experiences at Minidoka or during the war?

RC: Sure, oh yes.

AI: What did you tell them?

RC: We told them the whole thing. Yeah. And when, for instance, when I wrote the book for the University of -- UC Davis and for Sacramento State with Marion, my son read, read the documents as I wrote them, I dictated, it was a conversation like this, and it was recorded. And the tapes were sent back to Harvard for somebody to transcribe (but) he was too busy to transcribe so he sent them back. And so I said to the man who was in charge of my book, (...) "Well, I can transcribe them. You probably... you wanted me to edit anyway, so I could do both." So I spent about three weeks transcribing and writing it out and passed it on, and it was accepted. And Marion, tickles me, she thinks it's the best book of all of them. Why, I don't know. [Laughs] But she was very proud of my book and has been very considerate of it, of me for it.

AI: Well, this was done in 1991, or 1993?

RC: (Yes).

AI: 1993, I believe, by the California State library and the Florin chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.

RC: Yeah, yeah. If you're ever in Sacramento, you should go to the Sacramento State University library and see the row of books and see some of the treasures that are on display.

AI: Well, one thing that still concerns me, is that even though you have given your oral history two times now, and others have done so, and it's been recorded, there are still so many people who are unaware that, about this chapter of history, this United States history. Do you still run into people who, perhaps don't believe that such a place as Minidoka existed?

RC: You know, I think if you would investigate the number of videos that have been made for... what do they call that television? It isn't, it isn't television for profit, it's, what are these special? We have a station in Sacramento for --

AI: Oh, the cable programs?

RC: (...) They're not a privately-owned television channel. We have one in Sacramento that covers the whole Sacramento area. In the San Francisco area there's one there, and one in Oakland and San Jose and San Mateo. And they are making tapes, interviewing people. And they are being shown on these, these channels. And they are, they are producing some of the most wonderful history videos. And I think people are getting their eyes opened. Because there are a lot of people that get tired of watching regular channels and turn to the -- I can't say the name of the channel that they are. But they're public, public channels, really, is probably what they are. And they're supported by the public. And they're doing a wonderful job. I watch the Sacramento one very frequently. We have Channel 6 and Channel 7 that are doing a wonderful job.

AI: That's great to hear.

RC: (Yes).

AI: Well, now, we've covered a huge amount of, of ground here, and the years, and the experiences that you've shared. I'm wondering, looking back if there's any other comment that you would like to make, anything else that you'd like to, to talk about?

RC: Just one statement. I wouldn't have lived my life any other way. Just like that. [Laughs]

AI: Well, thank you.

RC: I have had a good life.

AI: Thank you, Mr. --

RC: I had a lot of experiences, but, you know, it was a good life. Wonderful family, made a lot of friends, and I've always felt welcome in situations like this. Get a big bear hug. It's great, and I thank you.

AI: Thank you, Mr. Coombs.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.