Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Art Shibayama Interview
Narrator: Art Shibayama
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 26, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-sart-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay, today is October 26, 2003 and we're here at the Densho office with Art Shibayama. Thanks very much, Art. And I'm Alice Ito with Densho and Dana Hoshide is doing the videography. So, I just wanted to start off by asking you about your father's family's background in Japan, what his name was and where he was from.

AS: Well, my father's name was Yuzo Shibayama and he was born in Fukuoka, Japan. And he immigrated to Peru 1920, I think.

AI: And now he --

AS: When he was fifteen.

AI: So he wasn't the only person in his family who immigrated, is that right?

AS: No, he came, we, he came with his brother. Because I heard that they had an uncle in Peru. So then my father was, was helping my uncle. I think they were delivering coal at that time.

AI: Do you know what area of Peru that was?

AS: It was Lima.

AI: And so then, did both your father and his brother stay?

AS: No. My father stayed but my, his brother, after one year, he went back to Japan.

AI: And so then your father stayed. And he was delivering coal. Do you know much else about other things that he might have done in those early years when he was in Peru?

AS: No. He didn't talk too much about early years, so, so I don't know.

AI: What about your mother's family?

AS: Well, my mother's family, I don't know when they came to Peru. But she, she came with her parents and they settled in Callao.

AI: And for people who don't know, can you explain a little bit about Callao and Lima and...

AS: Well, Lima, Lima doesn't have any ocean around it, so, so Callao is the closest, closest city with, with a port. So actually, that was the port for Lima.

AI: Do you have any idea about how old your mother was when she came over with her parents?

AS: No.

AI: Not sure. Well, then I have a, you brought a picture. If you could show this and tell us about that.

AS: These are my parents.

AI: And what was your mother's name? What was your mother's name?

AS: Tatsue, last name was Ishibashi. And I guess they got married in Peru, 1929.

AI: About 1929. Okay. And then you brought another picture here also.

AS: These are my mother's parents.

AI: And can you tell --

AS: Kinzo, Kinzo and I think Masae Ishibashi.

AI: And did you know what area of Japan they came from?

AS: Fukuoka.

AI: Fukuoka also?

AS: Yeah. They're both from Fukuoka.

AI: Did you ever hear anything about why your mother's family came?

AS: No, I don't know.

AI: Don't really know. But after they came -- oops, here, I'll get that one. You have this picture of some of the business they were involved in.

AS: These are my grandparents' small department store. This is in Callao. And that's my grandmother (Masae Ishibashi) carrying me. And I, I guess I lived with my grandparents from, from around two to, to the time I had to go, I started school in kindergarten. Then I went back to my parents in Lima.

AI: In Lima.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: And what is your birthday, when were you born?

AS: June 6, 1930.

AI: And what was, do you know what name they gave you when you were born, your birth name?

AS: Isamu Shibayama. And then when I got baptized, because in those days we were all Catholics, so they gave me, I was baptized as Carlos Arturo Shibayama.

AI: And so when you were a little kid, what did they call you?

AS: They called me Shiba, 'cause I guess we had other Isamu and we had all the Carlos Arturos and so they called me Shiba.

AI: So that was your nickname.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, tell me a little bit more about what you remember of your really early days when you were living with your grandparents. What, what do you recall from those days?

AS: I don't recall too much from those days but... 'cause I used to fool around a lot at the store or in the, with the neighborhood kids there in the Peruvian neighborhood, Peruvian kids.

AI: And so do you remember, were you speaking mostly Spanish or Japanese?

AS: Spanish, mostly Spanish because, like, Spanish is a lot easier for the Issei to learn. So, so the Isseis were learning, speaking pretty fluent Spanish.

AI: So your grandparents and your mother spoke a pretty fair amount of Spanish?

AS: Oh yeah, because they were in business, so, so they had to use a lot of Spanish.

AI: What about when you were living with your grandparents, did you speak to them mostly in Spanish or Japanese, or both?

AS: Both, but mostly Spanish.

AI: And then what about when you, it was time for you to start school? Can you tell about that?

AS: What do you mean?

AI: About the school?

AS: You mean speaking the language?

AI: Right, and the language?

AS: Well we, school we went to a private Japanese school in Lima. And we had fifteen hundred kids, so it was a real big, big school. And, but it was a co-ed but the girls were on one side of the camp -- of the school and the boys were separated, although we were able to go in and out of, on both sides. But...

AI: And so was that, your classes, were they conducted mostly in Japanese or Spanish or both?

AS: They were both, every other period was Japanese and Spanish.

AI: So it was a bilingual school then?

AS: Right.

AI: Well, I'm wondering about some of your classes. Because it was a school for Japanese students and a lot of Japanese immigrant families had their kids there, I'm wondering, did they teach you very much about Japan or about, did you get instructions in being Japanese?

AS: Well, we learned a lot about Japan but they didn't, they didn't... they didn't push too much about being a Japanese, just the, just the language.

AI: Because I know some of the Japanese language schools in the United States, they did have some of this instruction about, well on the emperor's birthday you had to behave very properly and sing songs and have some prayer for the welfare of the emperor and that kind of thing. Do you remember doing anything like that?

AS: No, we didn't have that. No.

AI: Well, and so then you also, I guess, were having lessons that any other Peruvian kid would have at school, abut Peru, learning about Peru and regular Spanish language and reading and math.

AS: Yeah, it was, it was like a regular school teaching different things. So, like, like math, we became a lot easier because we were getting it from both sides.

AI: You mean both Japanese and...

AS: Japanese and English.

AI: Or Spanish?

AS: I mean, Spanish.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, I have a picture here about, of you with your... if you could tell us about who's in that picture and about how old you were.

AS: That's, that's, oh, I don't know how old I was. But that's, that's my mother and myself, my sister, the sister right next to me, and myself.

AI: And what's her name? Your sister's name?

AS: Fusa, Fusako.

AI: And can you tell me about your other younger sisters and brothers, after Fusako?

AS: Kikue, Kikue and Akiko and then Kenichi, Takeshi and then George who was born in Seabrook and then Kazuko, who, she was born in Chicago.

AI: So, maybe this would be a good time to show this family picture with some of your other sisters and brothers. And who's in this picture? If you could point out who's in this picture.

AS: Yeah, that's myself, me, then Fusako is next, then Kikue, then Akiko, and Kenbo, Kenichi and Takeshi.

AI: And where was this picture taken?

AS: In Peru, in our house.

AI: And then you have one more here.

AS: This was taken, must have been taken in a park near the house. There's our car.

AI: And you were saying, it looks like you had the same clothes on as the --

AS: Yeah, it must've been taken the same day because, probably right after the other picture, probably went to the park and taken this.

AI: So tell me a little bit about your home and the neighborhood that you grew up in.

AS: Well, I, we grew up in a home where there weren't too many Japanese around our house.

AI: So it was a mostly Peruvian neighborhood and not very many other Japanese immigrant families?

AS: Well, yeah, European descents.

AI: And what did the neighborhood look like? Was it a lot of houses, mostly houses?

AS: Yeah, there were all houses.

AI: Residential area?

AS: Yeah, residential, right.

AI: And kind of a quiet area, or busy neighborhood?

AS: No, it was quiet. It was there, no, we didn't have any main drags around our neighborhood.

AI: And what about your house itself? Do you have a picture in your mind of what it looked like? Anything that you, kind of stands out in your mind about your home?

AS: Well, it was a pretty big home. And we had an atrium. I think that's where the picture was taken. And that's, in the atrium there was tile floors. And then in the other bedrooms were wooden floors. And I know we had lot of rooms.

AI: And so, and did your parents have help at the house? Did your mother have a housekeeper or assistant?

AS: Uh-huh. We had a maid. And then my father had a chauffeur. So, so I guess because my brothers and sister, the younger ones were small, the chauffeur used to take us to school. Because being a private school, Japanese private school, the school was pretty far away from the house. So, so we were driven to the school. Although I used to stay after school and we used to play baseball. So in those days I had to take the bus home because the chauffeur just took, just took the kids who were ready to go.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: So what would a typical day be like then, a school day for you? You'd get up in the morning and...

AS: You know, go to school and take the classes. And after school we, some of us, we hang around and play baseball or basketball in the wintertime. And then go home, take the bus.

AI: What about during the summer? At a private school you still would have a summer vacation?

AS: Yeah, we still have summer vacation. And during those summer vacation I used to go and live with my grandparents because they were near the, near the ocean. And we'd go to the ocean and spend time there and meet my, my friends. So I was really dark in the summertime. [Laughs]

AI: Really tanned.

AS: Yeah, because of the salt water and the sun.

AI: It sounds like a lot of fun for a kid.

AS: Uh-huh. So we used to stay out there almost all day in the ocean.

AI: Well now, your, your dad, it sounds like he must have had a successful business because you had a comfortable home, car and chauffeur. Can you tell me about his business?

AS: Yeah, well, I can't remember. When I was real young, my parents had a coffee shop first, and then he went into the, importing textiles and making dress shirts for wholesale. So I used to, sometimes I used to help, not help, but go for a ride with him when he used to go deliver the shirts, And he used to, we used to go fishing on weekends. And I used to tag along with him.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, what are some of the things that, did your father ever kind of give you lessons, well, not lessons but you know, things that he told you about or thought were important? Or did he ever talk to you about being Nihonjin or being Peruvian?

AS: No, he didn't push too much on that.

AI: Or, or what about your mother?

AS: She didn't either.

AI: Not too much?

AS: No.

AI: Well, I'm also interested -- you mentioned earlier how you were baptized. And so then your family was Catholic, then?

AS: Not my, not my family, but we --

AI: Your parents?

AS: In fact, even at the school we had a Catholic church. So in, in Peru they were mostly Catholic. So we were all baptized as a Catholic.

AI: And, but did you attend church or have much Catholic teaching?

AS: We attended church but we didn't go to Sunday school or anything like that, just Mass on Sundays.

AI: So, of course, you were still a kid now, but maybe thinking about, to the time when you were sixth grade or seventh grade, did you have some idea that you were different from the other kids that... of course, you went to the Japanese school --

AS: Right.

AI: -- so the kids there were Japanese, but did you get some sense that you were different from the other Peruvians?

AS: Well, yeah, because I used to, our home, I used to play with some of the Peruvian kids. But then there, there, they weren't actually Peruvians either because... I mean, not native Peruvians because they were immigrant from Europe, some German descent or Italians. So, we didn't think too much about it, probably... and another thing is we didn't have discrimination, so...

AI: So, as a kid growing up there, you didn't really feel prejudice or discrimination?

AS: No.

AI: And did your parents ever say anything about prejudice or anything they experienced, or...

AS: No, I guess because, because we didn't have all that discrimination in our neighborhood, so, so they didn't, they didn't say anything.

AI: So the impression I get is that growing up in your neighborhood, you were with other kids who were also children of immigrant families or of other descent, not native Peruvian?

AS: Right.

AI: And when you went to school, you were with other Japanese Peruvian kids?

AS: Right. And there were, there were some few Japanese Peru-, in our neighborhood, but, but not too many.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: Well now, in Lima, was there a larger community of Japanese Peruvians that lived there in another area of the city?

AS: Well, we, there were, in 1940, I think, when they took (census), there were twenty-six thousand Japanese and Japanese Peruvians in Peru and ninety percent were in Lima and Callao. But sparse housing and things, we were scattered all over the place, so there was no, no Japantown.

AI: So, even though there wasn't any Japantown, I'm wondering, did you ever get together with other Japanese families for something like New Year's or maybe in the summer, Bon Odori kind of thing, any kind of picnic or gathering?

AS: Well, they had picnics like Fukuoka-kens and Kumamoto-ken, Okinawa-ken. They had their own, and we all had our own picnics. And like, like once a year in the school, they had the undokai, which was a big thing.

AI: And for people who don't know --

AS: It was...

AI: -- what undokai is, could you tell a little about that?

AS: It's a competition. They'd divide the kids into red and white groups and you do different things like running and jumping all day. Then you have a contest between red and white.

AI: So a lot of these gatherings were either organized around the school or the kenjinkai?

AS: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, then I was wondering, we, in an earlier conversation we were talking about the year 1940, and just that year, in June, you turned ten. But just before that I, I understand from reading, that there was a large anti-Japanese riot in May of 1940. But, were you aware of that?

AS: At that time, no. I was, I didn't know. I wasn't aware of that, because nothing happened in our neighborhood. And so I know, we found out after, afterwards, reading the newspaper that the, some of the houses and some of the businesses were looted. But nothing happened to our neighborhood.

AI: Right, because apparently, hundreds of Japanese-owned businesses and homes were vandalized and people were attacked.

AS: Right.

AI: But, and how about your father's business?

AS: No, it didn't affect him.

AI: Or your grand --

AS: Because...

AI: Grandparents' business?

AS: No. Because we weren't, we weren't near the, where all the stores were.

AI: And as a child then, it didn't really affect you or your brothers or sisters?

AS: No.

AI: And then, I guess it was not too long after that that there, you had a major earthquake?

AS: Right

AI: And tell me about that.

AS: That was the biggest one we had. And we... and this is what I learned later, that the Peruvians thought that that was God's thing. And so after that, the Peruvians got afraid of it and they couldn't, they didn't do anything after that.

AI: Oh, so some Peruvians though it was an act of God.

AS: God, right.

AI: That God was angry that they had been violent against the Japanese?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, so where were you when the earthquake hit? What were you doing?

AS: I guess I was at home.

AI: And did you have any damage at your home?

AS: A little bit, yeah. But it wasn't too bad.

AI: So...

AS: A few cracks here and there.

AI: So there were these two large events going on in 1940, but, for you and your home and your family, it didn't affect you too much.

AS: No.

AI: So then, probably, I wanted to ask you, as a child, were you aware at all about the war going on in Europe or the war in Asia and the fact that Japan was at war with these other countries?

AS: Uh-huh. Because, like when, when Pearl Harbor got attacked, we were out fishing and we were gonna stay overnight. And one of the, well, my father used to take a few of his friends with him. So one of the friends, employee came after us saying that Japan, well, I mean, Japan got in a war with United States, so we better go home. And that's when we packed up and went home. And that's the first time we, we heard that Japan got in a war with the U.S.

AI: So, did that, did you have any understanding, then, what that meant, or did the adults make any comments about that being a problem for you as Japanese Peruvians?

AS: I can't remember any. We didn't, because I was only a kid, it didn't affect me too much.

AI: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: Well, now soon after that bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, I understand that some of the Japanese immigrants in Peru were arrested and taken from their homes?

AS: Right, by order of United States. In fact, my grandparents were taken in early, probably early 1942. And they were taken and put in a camp in the United States in Seagoville. And then they were used in one of the exchanges and sent to Japan, exchanges with civilians, U.S. civilians that were caught in Japan. And so after they left Peru I never got to see 'em again.

AI: And when they were taken, you, did you know anything about what was happening to them or --

AS: No.

AI: -- where they were going, or why?

AS: No, I didn't know. My parents might've known but I didn't. And they didn't talk about it, so...

AI: Well, now what about your father? Because he was, as a businessman he must've been prominent. And here your grandparents had been taken. So what, what was he doing at this time?

AS: He just kept working and... but every time a U.S. transport came into the port of Callao, words got around and head of the family went, father or head of the family went into hiding, including my father. So during the, the police, the police came to our house several times and not finding my father. The last time they came after him, again, my father wasn't there so, so they took my mother and put her in jail and my sister, who was eleven at the time, went with her because she didn't want, she didn't want our mother to go by herself. And as soon as my father found out about it he gave himself up and came out of hiding. And that's when my mother and sister were released. And I guess they gave us around a week, or I should say we had about a week to get ready and then we, we boarded a U.S. Army transport called Cuba.

AI: Now, when this happened, you were still kids?

AS: Uh-huh, thirteen.

AI: You were thirteen. And when your mother was taken away, and your sister went with her, what happened? You were left with the rest of your brothers and sisters at home?

AS: See, that's the part I don't remember. But we had a, we had a maid, so, so I guess she was looking after, after us.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: And when you were forced to leave your home and put on the transport, was this about 1943 or 1944?

AS: It was March of 1944.

AI: So, so what happened after that, once you got on that ship?

AS: Once we got on the ship, the women and children were put in a small cabin up on deck and the men were put down below. And like older kids, like myself, we were put down below, too, with the men. And we were only allowed to go on deck twice a day for ten minutes; and during that the time the women and children had to stay inside the cabin. And it took us twenty-one days to go from Callao through the Panama Canal to New Orleans. And so during that time we never got to see the family, the rest of the family.

AI: And what were the conditions like down below?

AS: Oh, it was terrible because it was so crowded. There were, there were bunks that you can fold, metal bunks with canvas, and you can fold 'em. And so, so during the day you can fold those bunks and then you have a little room but during the night when you bring the, those bunks down you can barely walk through it.

AI: So you were in this terrible cramped condition for three weeks and you couldn't see your mother and the rest of your sisters and brothers. And, did you have any idea where you were going or why?

AS: Well, I knew were going to the States, to the United States, but I didn't know why.

AI: And what was going though your mind, or how were you feeling as this --

AS: Well, we were kind of afraid, but since we were together with the rest of the family, and I was only a kid, so I wasn't too worried about it.

AI: Right, so at least you were together with the family --

AS: Right.

AI: -- even though you couldn't see each other?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: So once you got to New Orleans, what happened then?

AS: Once we got to New Orleans the women and children were let off the ship first and they were marching to a warehouse like. And they were, they were told to strip and stand in line naked. And then they were sprayed with insecticide, some kind of insecticide and then they would shower and they were put on the train. And then the men went through the same process. And that's the first time we saw the rest of the family together.

AI: When you got back on the train?

AS: Back on the train, because we were on the same coach.

AI: And were you allowed to bring your thing, any things with you onto the train, anything from home that you had brought with you?

AS: Oh, yeah, everything. I can't remember exactly but we must have got everything from the boat, from the ship and put it on the train.

AI: And then did you know where you were going or what was happening next?

AS: No. No, because, you know, like, even on the boat, we were guarded by military personnel and there were machine guns and rifles. And they didn't speak Spanish, so we couldn't communicate with them. In fact, we were, we were guarded by destroyers and submarines, too, the ship.

AI: So you were on this ship and heavily guarded. And this was by American military?

AS: American military.

AI: And so even if you wanted to ask a question, they wouldn't understand your Spanish.

AS: Right.

AI: And you wouldn't understand their English.

AS: English, yeah.

AI: So you were on the train from New Orleans. And what happened from there on the train?

AS: On the train we, we went through, they sent us through Seabrook -- I mean Crystal City, and, in Texas, and it took us two days, one night and two days. And we had to keep the windows closed. We had to bring the shades down during the, during the whole trip. Although, but one good thing on the train was that we were able to go to the, to the... to the dining room and the food was good there compared to what fed us on the ship, which was army, army food.

AI: So after three weeks of army food on the ship, at least you had a little better food on the train.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: So at the end of that train ride when you got to Crystal City, Texas, what did you see, what, what happened then?

AS: That's when, that's when we got relieved. Because, because we were welcomed by a group of Japanese Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and so, well actually, from the train we, we boarded a bus, and the bus took us to Crystal City camp. That's when we were welcomed by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. And we must've arrived around lunchtime so we were marched to a mess hall and we, and we ate lunch.

AI: And so why do you say you were relieved?

AS: Because we saw other Japanese people there.

AI: And, and what did it look like? What did this camp...

AS: The camp was all... it was barbed wire fence around it with guard tower with machine guns. But at least we saw other Japanese, so, so it kinda relaxed, I guess, you could say.

AI: Well, then once you got in and they fed you and then what happened next?

AS: Then they took us to our own barracks. And they told us that... well, at the barracks they had kerosene stove and an icebox and they gave us a coupon book according to the size of the family and they told us that we can go to the market and cash in those coupons.

AI: Inside the camp.

AS: Inside the camp, yeah. And then we can cook our own meals and eat what you got at home.

AI: So what did your barrack home look like? Was it one big room or...

AS: Well, we, because there were so many of us, we had two big rooms. So all the kids were in one room and our parents were in the other room and, where the stove and the icebox was. And every morning the young man from the, from the camp would come and deliver milk and ice, every day.

AI: Ice for the icebox.

AS: Yeah, right.

AI: Well, and then, did I remember you saying at an earlier time that you helped with some of that ice delivery at some point?

AS: Yes, well, at the beginning, after, after... I think after a year, we didn't have, after we stayed in camp, one of my father's friends was the postmaster. So he asked me if I wanted to work at the post, post office. But since I was going to school, I says, "How can I do that?" So he says, "Oh, no, don't worry," he says, "You pick up all the mail before you go to school and then you come back at lunchtime and deliver the telegrams. And then, and then you go home and eat lunch, go back to school, and then after school you can deliver the rest of the mail." I said, "Oh, okay." So I did that. And I did that for, until the war ended and then after a lot of Japanese Americans went out of camp, this friend of mine was delivering ice, so he says, "Hey, how about helping me deliver ice? That way I can teach you how to drive." I said, "Oh, okay." [Laughs] So I learned to drive on a two and a half ton truck through stick shift.

AI: Well, that must've been quite an experience.

AS: It is, it was, because in Texas they had heavy rains so they have ditches. And one day I took the ditch a little bit too fast so we lost the ice. [Laughs]

AI: Uh-oh. The ice went flying off the --

AS: Well, good thing it wasn't, we didn't have that many, it was near the end of delivery so, so we didn't have too many ice left on the truck. But we had to break it down because those were three hundred pound blocks and so we had to break 'em down to fifty pounds and then throw 'em back on the -- [laughs] -- on the truck.

AI: Oh, my goodness.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, I'd like to back up a little bit because now, you were mentioning about you school day, too. And before you went to camp you were in the eighth grade in Peru? Is that right?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so by the time you got to Crystal City, then, and started school, what grade did you go into?

AS: When was that...

AI: That was April or May and...

AS: Yeah, well, March.

AI: Let's see... oh, March?

AS: No, no, it was --

AI: March you were on the ship.

AS: No, no, May, no, March. Yeah, it was March, March of '44, yeah.

AI: Of '44. So when you first got to camp, did you start school right away or...

AS: Yes. We started school right away. But, since, in camp, since they only had Japanese and English schools, no Spanish school. So we had to go to Japanese school. So we, I think we had to back up a little bit because... although I finished eighth grade in Peru, but the last... '44, so last three years were all Spanish. So then, so then when we went back to school in camp we had to back up a little bit, because... so I think I went to fifth or sixth grade in Japanese.

AI: At the Japanese school.

AS: Japanese school.

AI: Because at that point then, since your last three years of school in Peru had been all Spanish --

AS: Spanish.

AI: -- then you were kind of behind on the Japanese.

AS: Right, Japanese, right.

AI: So then, in camp, your school, you were, were you put in with younger kids then in the Japanese school?

AS: No, no.

AI: No?

AS: No, because it was mostly Peruvians, not too many Japanese Americans. So, the Japanese Americans were a little bit younger, but the rest of us were about all around the same age.

AI: So most of the Japanese American kids were in the English language school. Is that right?

AS: Yeah, right.

AI: So you had a few of the Japanese Americans in your school, the Japanese school.

AS: Yeah, school, Japanese school, yeah.

AI: And then mostly Japanese Peruvians?

AS: Peruvians.

AI: And then were there some other kids of Japanese ancestry from other places?

AS: There were supposed to be but I, I don't know of any. But I think most, most, they were, they were taken from thirteen different countries, but the mostly, probably just the men or just the men and women, just the parents, or whatever. And they were put, they might have been put in the different camps.

AI: So your...

AS: Like my grandparents. They were in Seagoville and not Crystal City.

AI: Right. So then your school day at camp school, what was that like? You had your classes in the morning?

AS: Morning, morning and afternoon.

AI: And you would go home for lunch and then you would go back to school.

AS: Go back to school, yes. And then after school we'd play baseball or basketball and then you'd go -- oh, and I was taking judo twice a week. And then after that, we'd go home and study, do our homework.

AI: Well, how was it?

AS: It was just like on the outside, I guess.

AI: And did you find the classes difficult? Was it hard for you to be catching up with the Japanese?

AS: Oh yes, because it was all Japanese and we weren't that fluent in Japanese. So it was kinda hard.

AI: Because, among you and your brothers and sisters, did you speak mostly Spanish at home?

AS: Spanish, yeah.

AI: And what about with, between you and your parents, did you speak mostly Spanish or some Japanese?

AS: Some Japanese because we went to Japanese school so we had to use more Japanese, so, so we'd try to use Japanese.

AI: So it sounds like it was kind of a struggle for you there adjusting to going to the Japanese school and using more Japanese and catching up with the language?

AS: Yes, it was.

AI: And what were your parents doing while you were in Crystal City? Did they have any activities or, I guess some of them might've had work?

AS: Yeah, my father was a policeman in camp. But my mother was just taking care of the rest of us. But I guess she was taking cooking classes and other things, crocheting, crocheting classes and whatever they had to stay active. Because while we were in school she had nothing else to do.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: Well, so as the, as your, the school year was going on, did you get any information about what was happening to you or why you were in this camp or what was going to happen to your family?

AS: Well, we knew a little bit because of my grandparents, that they were sent to Japan. So we figure... although I didn't because I was only a kid so I didn't worry too much. But I guess my parents probably thought that we were going to be sent to Japan, too, eventually.

AI: And did you have any discussion about that, or did your parents say anything?

AS: No, they didn't say anything.

AI: Because I had heard from some other people that -- some Japanese American Nisei -- who their parents thought they might have to go to Japan and so they were encouraging them to learn their Japanese and study really hard because if they did have to go to Japan they'd have to be more fluent.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Did you recall any discussion like that?

AS: No, although, although our parents, they, they sent us to the Japanese school because English wasn't used much in Peru in those days. So, at least my parents, anyway, whether we go to Japan or we go back to Peru, they figure Japanese was gonna be useful. So that's the reason that they were pushing us for, to study and learn Japanese.

AI: Well, let's see then, in 1944 you turned fourteen?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And it sounds like you had a very active life with the school and then sports activities?

AS: In camp?

AI: Uh-huh.

AS: Oh yeah, yeah.

AI: And then later on you got the job with delivering the mail?

AS: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: And then in 1945 then, there was, of course, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ending of the war. And I'm wondering, what did you hear about that, or how did you find out?

AS: Well, I don't know how my father found out about it, but he, because he was, he was reporting news in camp.

AI: He was?

AS: Yeah.

AI: Oh, tell me about that.

AS: I think somebody, I think one of his friends had a short-wave radio or whatever and, although we weren't supposed to have a radio, he might've made one or whatever. And so he found out about it through that. But then he, we didn't discuss too much about it because he just told us the war ended.

AI: And so, your father did believe the news that, that Japan had lost the war?

AS: Oh yeah. Yeah, that's why he, like after the war ended, people wanted to go back to Japan because they didn't believe that Japan had lost the war. And my father tried to tell 'em that, "Don't go back," but a lot of 'em didn't listen.

AI: So your father really did not want to go to Japan.

AS: No. He didn't want to go back.

AI: He didn't think --

AS: He wanted to go back to Peru.

AI: So then, after the ending of the war --

AS: Oh, one more thing is we had a swimming pool in camp. And the swimming pool was divided in half, or, it was a round swimming pool and divided in half where they had a fence, actually, posts dividing the two sides. And the one side was really shallow and then the other side went deep suddenly into deep, it became deep. And then, so we used to go swimming right after softball practice and this one day we either had a meeting or whatever, and so we couldn't, we couldn't go. And that's, that's the day that two kids were drowned in camp.

AI: Oh, how awful.

AS: Yeah. Yeah, and I don't know, they were supposed to have lifeguard there but I don't know what happened to the lifeguards. They were supposed to have two guys there. None of 'em were there. And, you know, if we were there, we might've saved 'em.

AI: That's terrible. Well, it sounds like there were many activities going on at camp.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: That, and for a family like yours, that everyone was, had activities to do.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: So, I'm wondering how, how things changed after the end of the war?

AS: You mean camp?

AI: Yes, in camp.

AS: Well, almost everything was the same except that we didn't have any more school because all the, all the teachers were gone. So then this one Japanese American, she said she was going to teach us English. So a group of us Peruvians, we got into two different groups, the older, the older ones and the younger ones and then divided into two different groups because there were two, two Japanese Americans were, volunteered to teach us English, speaking it. So that was a little bit different. And then...

AI: Well, tell me about that, because why, why were you interested in learning English?

AS: Because we had nothing else to do. And being there, and we had so much time and these two Niseis wanted to, they were willing to teach, so we figured oh, might as well learn something, just, instead of just being there doing nothing. So, so we, so we went to classes and tried to learn English.

AI: Wow, what was that like? You had never spoken English before, had you?

AS: No.

AI: Or --

AS: But, you know, but see like, by that time, Peru won't take us back. They didn't want to take us back so we didn't know whether we're gonna go to Japan or we're gonna probably stay here in the States. Then we better, if we're gonna stay here, we figured we better learn English. So that's the reason we went.

AI: So, after the war ended, your father definitely did not want to go to Japan?

AS: No.

AI: And your family found out that Peru did not want you to return --

AS: Right.

AI: -- to Peru.

AS: But then in 1946 there was a rumor that the camp finally was gonna be closed. So then, so if you had a relative or friends that wanted to sponsor you, you can leave camp. And, but since my father wanted to go back to Peru, we were still hanging in there, in camp. And then this big packing plant in New Jersey called Seabrook, they must've made a deal with the government so they would sponsor anybody that wanted to go to Seabrook, New Jersey. And so then my, and so the government said if we went to Seabrook and Peru decided to take us back, they'll, they'll supply the transportation back to Peru. So then all of us that wanted to go back to Peru went to Seabrook.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, before the break we were just finishing our talk about Crystal City camp and I wanted to have you show a couple of these other photos and tell us a little bit more about what was happening at that time.

AS: Well, this is a photo of our, the Peruvian kids and this is, this is a Japanese American who volunteered to teach us English, because by then the war had ended and a lotta Japanese Americans went out of camp. So we, so all the schoolteachers were gone so then we decided to learn English because actually we had nothing else to do. So, so she was teaching, she volunteered to teach us English.

AI: And are you in that picture?

AS: This, here I am.

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the relationship between the Japanese Peruvians and the Japanese Americans in the camp at Crystal City. It, did you mix very much or did --

AS: Not too much because, well, we, we... because we were one of the, the last ones to go into camp because we went in in '44 so it was late. So they, and then we were all put into a... they had to build a new barracks for us to live in so we were all put, put into one side of camp all together. So then, we, so then we had to, because the, especially the softball league was already established so we made our own team and then so that way we were intermingled with the Japanese Americans; and then in judo, too, so we, because we had to take judo the same place, so we kind of got mixed with them there. But it was hard to communicate because they didn't speak Japanese and we didn't speak English, so, so it was hard.

AI: What was the feeling? I mean, with, of course it's hard to communicate, but was it generally friendly or was there some --

AS: Yeah, they were friendly, yeah.

AI: -- friction or some conflict?

AS: No, we didn't have any friction. That way we, we, there was no, no friction there because the only thing was that we couldn't communicate very well. So it was mostly by sign language, by sign, I mean, by expression and that way. Or, or they would, we'd talk to them in Japanese and they would answer in English. [Laughs] Because a lot of 'em understood but they couldn't speak.

AI: The Japanese Americans?

AS: Yeah.

AI: Well, so the, did you call the Japanese Americans "Nisei"?

AS: Yeah, we were, we were all Niseis, so...

AI: Well, you were Nisei also but you were --

AS: Yeah, right.

AI: -- Japanese Peruvian Nisei. So did they, did the Japanese Americans have some other name for you, or --

AS: No.

AI: -- just called you the Peruvians?

AS: No. Well, they called us Peruvians, yeah. But they call us by name, so --

AI: Well, you mentioned the softball league and I wanted you to show this picture and explain about that.

AS: Well, after, after the war ended, most of the Japanese Americans went out of camp. And then, some of the people that were still left in camp had no, people that had no place to go, they came to our camp 'cause we were the last one to close. And a lot of Kibei came from Tule Lake and so they made their own softball team, mostly single guys. So then they were practicing and then we decided, hey, let's make our own team and play them. So that's how this team got together. But there's one Japanese American here that was left. In fact, his sister was one of the teachers, English teacher for teaching us how to speak English.

AI: And where are you in this picture?

AS: In this, here. That's me, right next to him.

AI: So this would have been in 1946 then, that...

AS: '40... yeah, end of '45 or end of '46.

AI: So you were about fifteen years old in this picture?

AS: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, so also before the break, you were saying that your father was realizing that you might not be able to go back to Peru, but he was still hoping --

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: -- that, that you would?

AS: Right, that's the reason we went to Seabrook.

AI: And at that... before you went to Seabrook, do you know if there was... if your father talked to the lawyer? I understand that Wayne Collins, Sr. was the main lawyer who was trying to help some of the Peruvians and some of the Japanese Americans who did not want to be deported to Japan. Do you know anything about whether --

AS: No, I don't know anything about that.

AI: And apparently there were three or four hundred of the Japanese Peruvians who did not want to go to Japan.

AS: Yes, I think there were three hundred and sixty, if, if I'm not mistaken.

AI: And then --

AS: That stayed here.

AI: And so, so, a good number of those, then, went to Seabrook?

AS: Yes, uh-huh.

AI: So can you tell me a little bit about how, at the end of your time in camp, before leaving, what you were doing and how you got ready, or how you found out you were going to be going to Seabrook. We want your last, last weeks, your last days at Crystal City.

AS: I really can't remember that.

AI: And then did you take a train up to New Jersey?

AS: Yeah, we took the train, yeah.

AI: And I think also in an earlier conversation, you had mentioned that... was your mother pregnant at that time?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: So she was expecting another baby?

AS: Right, because we left in September of '46 and George was born in January '47.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: So in September of '46, by then you had turned sixteen?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Did you have any kind of birthday celebration?

AS: In camp?

AI: Uh-huh.

AS: Yeah.

AI: What was that like?

AS: Well, you know, like they deliver milk and they deliver ice, so, and the Niseis in camp were doing that. So they know, like if you had a birthday, for my birthday, anyway, my mother would ask for extra milk and extra ice and she would make ice cream.

AI: Oh, that must've been a real treat?

AS: Yeah, right. And since we, we had a kerosene stove and, and icebox and things, so she would, she would bake a cake. (Actually, my mother did not bake a cake herself, since she did not have an oven.)

AI: So even in camp you had a birthday cake and ice cream.

AS: Right.

AI: What about some other celebrations, did you do anything around Christmas time or New Year's while you were in camp?

AS: Yes, but, it's, because we, we only have certain things that we can, we can buy. We didn't have enough food to make all the fancy stuff. So you just, so she just made stuff that we were able to, to get, celebrate New Year's.

AI: Were there any kind of New Year's activities?

AS: No.

AI: Not really.

AS: Not really, no.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well, so then we're, you're at September 1946 and you take the train up to Seabrook. And what was that like? What happened?

AS: In Seabrook, again, we were the last ones there so, so our quarters, it was like a barrack in camp except that we didn't have fences around us. You know, community bathrooms and laundry room. It was just like camp. People that went earlier, they had it better. They were living in like a building, like small houses.

AI: So, when you say that you were one of the last ones there, that's because many of the other Japanese Americans had gotten out of camp earlier --

AS: Right, 'cause there were a lot of them. In fact, like they had a softball league and there were about five or six teams. Now if you have people between say fifteen and twenty-five, and you make five or six teams, so you can imagine how many people are there, how many families. So, so they were all there already by the time we got there, so...

AI: So what did your family do once you got there to Seabrook?

AS: Well, my mother couldn't work so, so she had to stay home and take care of the younger kids. But my father, myself, and the sister next to me, we had to go to work because, because my mother wasn't, couldn't work, so my sister and I had to help and go to work.

AI: Well, tell me --

AS: And at the plant, at the packing plant, no minors were allowed, so, so then my sister and I worked at the bulb garden. And then after I had a appendix surgery, I got a job at the greenhouse --

AI: Well, let's, before you --

AS: -- which was a little bit softer.

AI: Before you tell about that, well, tell me first about your first job there. What were the conditions like and what exactly were you doing in your job?

AS: Bulb garden, at the bulb garden we cut flowers during the summertime, we cut flowers and, I guess they were selling the flowers at the garden. And then we would save the bulbs to be replanted the following year.

AI: And what was your dad doing? What was your father's job there?

AS: My father was working at the packing plant.

AI: And packing plant, this was part of the frozen foods --

AS: Yes.

AI: -- part of the, of Seabrook.

AS: In fact, we used to pack for Birdseyes, too.

AI: And what were those conditions like, the packing? What would you do on that job?

AS: My father was working at the, where the trucks would bring the vegetables to the plant and he was working in the... where they were unloading the trucks and... I couldn't work there so, so, until I turned seventeen, and then I got a permission, a special permission to work there because of hardship in the family. And I, I was, they put me inside the plant where we feed the conveyer belt. There was a chute and we bring the, this vegetable and put in a, they used to put the vegetable in a big, big container, after they wash it, and then we'd bring that to the chute and the chute would go down, feed the vegetable to the conveyer belt and the ladies will sort, sort those out.

AI: So what were your working hours then? What was your work day?

AS: Well, we, it depended. During the peak season we had to work twelve-hour shifts and we were rotating shifts every two weeks from day to night. But in the, in the wintertime it's slower so, so, because we couldn't, we didn't get the vegetables and so we, I think we were working just eight-hour shifts and no, no weekends.

AI: My goodness. So as a teenager then, to help your family, you were working twelve-hour shifts at --

AS: Seven days a week.

AI: Seven days a week. Oh, my gosh. That must've been a difficult time.

AS: Yes, although the work wasn't that hard because we were young then.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: Well, now how did you find out about, that you needed an appendix operation? What happened?

AS: One day I woke up at six o'clock in the morning with stomachache and it was during the wintertime. And the barracks were like camp so we had a pot belly stove right in the middle of the room. And I was standing right next to the, to the stove and I had chills and I was perspiring at the same time because I was right next to the stove. And so then, but the pain got so bad that they took me to the infirmary in Seabrook and when the nurse checked me there she said, "Oh, we better send you to the hospital." And the ambulance took me to the hospital in Bridgeton, which was a city next to, oh, about five miles from Seabrook. And I had a surgery that day, appendix removed.

AI: And then, so did you have to stay in the hospital?

AS: I had to stay in the hospital a few days. And going back to when I was in the infirmary room... no, at the hospital, I guess. My mother came in and, and so we were, I can't remember, I can't remember exactly, but I think we were in the same room for a while. And that's when my mother had my brother, George was born.

AI: So you were there at the same time?

AS: Right.

AI: Oh, my goodness. Well, after you got out of the hospital, how long did it take for you to recover?

AS: Well, the doctor told me I have to take it easy for six months. So then I couldn't go to work at the bulb garden because you had to bend over and go down on your knees and things like that. So then they gave me a job at the greenhouse. So then, there I just watered the plants.

AI: So, and then, and George was born so then you had a little baby then living there with you and the whole family. Oh, my goodness. So during this time then, what did your family find out about where you were going to go next? Your father was still hoping that you could go back to Peru.

AS: Right.

AI: And what, what did you find... what happened?

AS: So we were there for two and a half years and then finally my father gave up about going back to Peru and we moved to Chicago.

AI: When was that?

AS: 1940... March of '49.

AI: And tell me about why, why he decided to go to Chicago?

AS: Well, he had friends in Chicago. In fact, a few families went to Chicago from Seabrook. So then it was, he had a friend at, he had a friend in San Diego that wanted us to go there, too. So he couldn't decide to go to San Diego or Chicago, but somehow, I don't know why, but he decided to go to Chicago.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: And now, the, for the couple of years that you were in Seabrook, your dad, you, and your sister were all working and you didn't have a chance to go back to school.

AS: No.

AI: But, and so tell me what, how you were managing as far as the English and getting along and being able to communicate on the job and how did that go for you while you were there?

AS: Well, it, I, you know, there were some Isseis there, too, so, so I was able to communicate with them in Japanese but, but the Nisei didn't speak much Japanese so I was kinda forced to learn English. And since we, we learned a little bit in camp by going to those classes, and then like, our home, after work, I would get hold of my sister's books and I learned from there.

AI: So while you were --

AS: So I was actually self-taught.

AI: While you were at Seabrook, then, your younger sisters and brothers were going to school?

AS: School, yeah.

AI: And so they were starting to learn English in school?

AS: English school, yeah. And then the other thing is when we went to Seabrook, we made our own team as the Peruvians. Oh, and then we, we got some of the, couple of the Kibeis, too, who were from (Crystal City), got on our team, and then we started playing against the other Nisei teams. And then this Dick Kunishima which was the coach for the Seabrook, Seabrook team, that were playing against the hakujins. And so, after, after the Seabrook league, we were playing there and then Dick came to me and he says, "Hey, how about playing for Seabrook?" So, so he wanted one of the Kibeis and myself to be on the Seabrook team. And so then we were, we were, on the Seabrook team we play against the, in the city league and the industrial league against hakujins. And so then I mingled with the other Niseis and that's how, all the more, forced me to speak English.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Well, how, and how did they accept you on the --

AS: Oh, they accepted me.

AI: -- on the Seabrook team? That was... did they, did you ever get any surprised reactions from Nisei who, when they realized that you were from Peru, or that they didn't realize that you were Spanish-speaking?

AS: Well, at the beginning, before I got on the, on the team, they, because one of the Peruvian boy, he got in trouble with a, got in a fight or whatever with a, with a Nisei. So, so we didn't have a good reputation, I guess you can say, so some of them didn't like us. But then after I got on the team we had no problem.

AI: What was your position on the, on the Seabrook team?

AS: I was pitching.

AI: Pitching? So --

AS: That's another thing. Because I never saw... we, in Peru, we never, never played softball, it was all baseball. So then when we went to camp we made our own team, but needed a pitcher. So we said hey, we gotta have a pitcher. So everybody practiced, started practicing pitching. And so, and then I had the best control because you can't, you can't become a pitcher overnight in softball because baseball's all overhand and softball is underhand. And I had the best control so they said, "Okay, you are the pitcher." I said, "Wait a minute." I said, "I don't like to pitch." Says, "No, well, you can't be walking everybody," so he says, "You're gonna be the pitcher." So that's how I became a pitcher. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's a funny story. Oh, so you continued being a pitcher ever after, then?

AS: Yeah, uh-huh. Well, I played other positions, too, but, like, like when I, when we had to play doubleheaders, I played some other positions.

AI: Wow. Well, so it sounds like the baseball was a big part of life at, both at camp and at Seabrook?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And at Seabrook, well, how did you fit the baseball into, with your work schedule?

AS: See, that's it. You know, because Dick Kunishima was the supervisor. So then when, another thing is we, we had, because there were so many of us available, so the Seabrook, actually the Seabrook team had forty, forty men on the roster. And so if you were on the night shift you couldn't play. So he would divide 'em. So then, just at daytime, just at day game, people on the day shift were able to play. And so then, since Dick was the supervisor, he was my supervisor, I mean, our section. So then around four -- see, because we had to be, we had to be at the ballpark at six. So around four o'clock he would say, "Hey Art, go home, eat. Go home and eat." [Laughs]

AI: Well, that worked out well.

AS: Yeah.

AI: So as you, when you were playing on the Seabrook team then, that means that you played all around the city then, against the other city teams and --

AS: Yeah, we would go to other cities, yeah.

AI: And in the industrial league, where would, where would you play those games?

AS: Same thing. Different leagues, I mean, different, different cities. Or, was the same, same cities but different teams.

AI: Oh. How did the, how did those two leagues compare, the city and the industrial?

AS: The industrial had a better, better, stronger team because they were from big companies, like Seabrook had a big, I mean, strong team. In fact, we used to take Southern New Jersey Championship almost every year.

AI: Is that right? Well, so when you would go out like that, was the Seabrook team, were you all Japanese?

AS: Yeah. Seabrook had all Japanese.

AI: And what kind of reaction would you get when you went out to these other places?

AS: Nothing.

AI: You didn't get a negative reaction?

AS: No.

AI: 'Cause this is very soon after the war.

AS: Yeah, but you know, in the East Coast they, no discrimination, not like the West Coast.

AI: So, that's an interesting question then. I'm just wondering, you know, after you got out of camp and you were at Seabrook, did you experience any kind of prejudice or discrimination?

AS: No.

AI: So that's --

AS: I guess that's the reason why so many Japanese went to the Midwest and the East Coast from camp.

AI: Because that, so at --

AS: They wouldn't discriminate.

AI: I see.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

AI: Well, so then you were saying that then your family decided that you would move out to Chicago.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And when you first got to Chicago, what did you do there? Where did you go?

AS: Oh, Chicago, I, you mean... I went to work. I went to work at a... well, somebody, one of my father's friends was working at this place where they used to make carbon paper. And so I got a job there and I worked in the warehouse. And we had to, we had to take the paper, unload, unload it from trucks and, whenever they came, or load the trucks after they, they finished the carbon paper, making the carbon paper. And so, and then we had to feed the machines. We had to put the paper, you know.

AI: How did that work, feeding machines, and what did the machines do?

AS: Well, I, we, I actually didn't feed the machines. We just take the paper to the machine and they had a guy, the person running the machine would feed the machine.

AI: Boy, it's hard to believe, but now very few people use carbon paper.

AS: Yeah.

AI: But there you had --

AS: In those days...

AI: -- a whole company.

AS: Yeah, really, because they had a, I think they had about six or eight machines making it. And some of the paper weighed three, four hundred pounds.

AI: Well, were you the only Japanese, person of Japanese descent working there, or were there other Japanese Americans, or...

AS: No, in fact, they were all Japanese Americans. Just bosses were hakujins.

AI: Oh, that's interesting.

AS: Yeah, come to think of it, oh yeah, they were all Japanese.

AI: So it sounds --

AS: Niseis.

AI: -- maybe similar to Seabrook, where the company sponsored people or perhaps they had, they had recruiters recruiting Japanese Americans. So was this 1949 then, that you were, you were --

AS: Yes, '49.

AI: -- first moved to Chicago and you worked at the carbon paper plant?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And where was your family living then? Where, where did you live?

AS: We, well, first, when we got there, we lived in a... the neighborhood wasn't too, too good because it was near the African Americans' neighborhood. But then we were there around six months to a year. And then we moved up north --

AI: Well...

AS: -- to a better neighborhood.

AI: So, when you first moved to Chicago and you were, of course, you had to find a place that was affordable, well, had you ever worked with, or lived so close to African Americans before? Was this a new experience for you?

AS: New experience, yeah. In fact, this was the first time. 'Cause there no, no African Americans in camp and... well, in Seabrook they had some, but not working there at the plant or... but they, we seen some at the farms picking, picking vegetables or whatever.

AI: So, there in Chicago, that must've been the first time that you saw large numbers of African Americans?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And did you have any friction at all, or any experience any prejudice at that time when you were living in that neighborhood?

AS: No.

AI: Because they, the African Americans might have, not have any experience with --

AS: Japanese.

AI: -- Japanese people either.

AS: Well, I think that we, yeah, but they might've had some before because Japanese Americans were there.

AI: Right.

AS: But with us, I didn't, we had, we didn't have any friction with us, no.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

AI: So you lived there a couple of years and then you said you moved to another place, another location?

AS: Uh-huh. Up north.

AI: Still in Chicago or outside?

AS: Still in Chicago. Well, Chicago was so big that if you go a long ways you'd still be inside the, inside the city. [Laughs]

AI: Right. Well, now, while you were living in Chicago, did your, was your father still hoping to move back to Peru or --

AS: Yeah, he was still, at the beginning he was still hoping to go back to Peru.

AI: And what, what did you, what information did you have about your family's status in the United States? Were you still potentially --

AS: We, yeah. We were still classified as illegal aliens and we were still fighting deportation.

AI: So, the U.S. government was still, still planning to deport you to Japan?

AS: Deport, right.

AI: And you were still trying to --

AS: Fighting

AI: -- fighting that. What, what was going on at that time? Did you... were you really concerned that the government, U.S. government might still send you to Japan?

AS: Yeah, we were still... but we weren't too worried by then because we had Wayne Collins protecting us, so...

AI: So at that time he was still working for you and the other Japanese Peruvians?

AS: Right.

AI: And since you were still classified as an illegal alien, did that... but that didn't seem to interfere with your work in Chicago.

AS: No.

AI: That didn't make any difference. And in your mind, how did you think of yourself? Did you think of yourself as being an illegal alien, in Chicago?

AS: No. I didn't even think about it because nothing, it wasn't, there wasn't anything different. The only thing was that we had to report to the post office, to the immigration office, which was in the Chicago post office. We had to go and report once a year, every January.

AI: Now, did you have to do that when you were at Seabrook also? Did you have to report?

AS: No.

AI: You didn't have to. But once you were in Chicago, you did?

AS: In Chicago, yeah.

AI: Did you have, did the immigration office give you any kind of identification or anything?

AS: No.

AI: Nothing.

AS: No, we just had to go over there and report and they, and they check our, our status and that's it.

AI: So even though you were still classified illegally in the United States, the immigration office would just check you off and then you would go back --

AS: Yeah.

AI: -- home and go back to work?

AS: For another year.

AI: Wow.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, so then time is going on and then you had moved up to this northern area of Chicago. Tell me about that neighborhood. What did that neighborhood look like?

AS: Well, that neighborhood was, just, there were no, no African Americans around there. They were mostly on the south side. So there were, and then there were quite a few Japanese Americans --

AI: So a lot of Japanese Americans had --

AS: -- over there, yeah.

AI: -- moved into that neighborhood?

AS: More so.

AI: Well, so there --

AS: There were lot of, lot of Caucasians there, too.

AI: And there again, I'm wondering how did, did Japanese Americans notice that you had an accent of any sort, or did they ask you about your English, or did they notice that you were different from Japanese Americans?

AS: You know, that never came up. Something, but, like if, people that we mingled with, right away they knew that we were from Peru. I mean, we would talk about it and so, so they never asked after that.

AI: Right. So it would come up right away that --

AS: Yeah.

AI: -- that you were Peruvian.

AS: Or whoever introduced us would say, "These people from Peru that the U.S. government brought up, brought here and put them in camp," like that, so, so after that, it doesn't come up.

AI: What kind of reaction did people have when they heard that?

AS: They couldn't believe it. People can't believe that the U.S. did this kind of stuff.

AI: Wow.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

AI: Well, so here you are. You're in Chicago, you're working, and then, oh, then did your, was your youngest brother born in Chicago then?

AS: Sister.

AI: I mean, sorry, your youngest sister?

AS: Yes.

AI: Right. And that was Kazuko?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And then, weren't, tell me what happened then. You had been living and working in Chicago for a few years, and then what happened next?

AS: In 19-, well, in 1952, (April) of 1952 I got a U.S. army draft notice. And so then, since I was fighting deportation, I was classified as illegal alien, I figured I better go in, just in case. So, I went in the army. And I took basic in Arkansas and then after, after basic, they sent me to Germany.

AI: Well, let me ask you, when you first got the draft notice, what did you think? What was your reaction?

AS: I couldn't believe it because here I am illegal alien. So, but since I was fighting deportation, I thought maybe I better go in the army.

AI: So when you answered the draft notice, when you reported, did it come up that you were an illegal alien?

AS: No. Because they, they can actually draft illegal aliens.

AI: Right, but there wasn't any discussion of that?

AS: No.

AI: They just took you in and processed you like any other...

AS: Right, like any other.

AI: And what was your parents' reaction and your sisters and brothers? Did they --

AS: Well, we were all shocked that the, that the... but the thing is that a real close friend of mine got drafted before me, maybe six months before me. So when I got mine -- and he went in, so when I got mine it was no, no shock.

AI: Because you knew someone else also?

AS: Yeah.

AI: Oh, and so was this other --

AS: In fact, in fact, he was, he was sent to Korea.

AI: And was he Japanese American?

AS: Yes, from Peru.

AI: Also Japanese Peruvian?

AS: Yes, a friend of mine, buddy of mine. In fact, he went, we went to the same school in Peru.

AI: Oh, so because that had happened to him already, you...

AS: Yeah, it was no shock when I got mine.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, tell me about your basic training experience, 'cause you had never been to Arkansas before?

AS: Basic training in Arkansas, and when we left Chicago, it was still wintertime because it was in May. And so we, so we were still in our winter uniform. And we arrived in (Ft. Smith), Arkansas, around noontime. And they sent us to a mess hall, straight from the train. And we couldn't, we couldn't even take our jackets off. And here Arkansas was hot already. And so we went to mess hall and I got my food in the tray, put it down on the table, sat down to eat. I couldn't eat anything, with perspiration pouring down, my food. [Laughs] I couldn't eat it so I just drank my tea and got out of there.

AI: Oh, what a surprise.

AS: It was, because it was almost a hundred.

AI: That must --

AS: And here you couldn't even take your jacket off.

AI: Oh, that sounds unbearable.

AS: 'Cause there it's summertime, it gets a hundred and twenty in the shade.

AI: Oh, my gosh.

AS: So there was no, no double time because I think a year before, somebody keeled over and died.

AI: Because of the heat?

AS: Double time, yeah.

AI: Well, so how were you treated during basic training? Were you the only Japanese --

AS: I was the only Japanese, and there was one, I think there was only one black kid. So then we didn't have any discrimination or anything. The only thing was, some of the Southerners, they used to call us Yankees. You know, all the, all the northern guys, Yankees. So like when were driving to rifle range or when this, something like that, they would really go all out to, to beat us. They want to get a better score than the Yankees and things like that.

AI: So the big competition was between the Southerners and the Yankees?

AS: Southerners, yeah, no Japanese or black guy or nothing like that.

AI: Did that surprise you?

AS: Yeah.

AI: Being called a Yankee?

AS: Oh, after all these years, you know, they're still calling us Yankees? It really surprised me.

AI: Well, was that strange to you? Because you didn't grow up learning about United States history.

AS: No. Yeah, it was, it was really strange.

AI: And you didn't really... did you learn or find out or did someone tell you about the U.S. Civil War and the South?

AS: Well, I knew a little bit about it. But I didn't think they still feel this way after all these years.

AI: But they did.

AS: But they did, yeah.

AI: Well, at that time, did they still have the segregated bathrooms?

AS: Not in Arkansas.

AI: Not in Arkansas. So you didn't see anything like that?

AS: No. But this is what, this is '53 right? '53, '52, '53. But then in, I got married in 1955 and then we went to honeymoon in, down in Florida. Well, then when we went down to Tennessee, Kentucky, those people had this, go to a different bathroom. And, in fact, my wife didn't know which, which side to go on. So I said, "Just go to the 'white' side," because we weren't quite white, we weren't black either, so... and they didn't have any in-between so I told her, "Just go to the white side."

AI: Hard to know what to do.

AS: Yeah, especially when... you know, because, like in Chicago there's no such thing. And all of a sudden you get, you see these things, so you kinda, you're kinda hesitant to...

AI: Not knowing what to do.

AS: Yeah.

AI: Well, so then from, getting back to...

AS: But, but in Arkansas, we didn't have that problem. We would go to Camp Chaffee which is a city near the camp, and there, no such thing.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: So then from Arkansas, where were you assigned after that?

AS: From Arkansas, after basic, I was sent over-, oh, I took eight weeks of basic, infantry basic and then I was supposed to go to artillery basic the last eight weeks but instead, they sent me to school, clerk typist school. Yeah, I wasn't, well, by then, I was, my English was so-so. And so they sent me to clerk typist school. But that's the army for you. You never know what's gonna happen. Because this guy that was sitting next to me, he asked for motor pool because his father had a dealership in Michigan. And he did some of the mechanic work, and so he asked for motor pool and he got into clerk typist school. So, I figure oh, that's the way it is. [Laughs]

AI: It's not logical.

AS: Right. And here I had never typed in my life and I'm struggling with my English and they sent me to clerk typist school.

AI: That's kinda funny. [Laughs] So what happened then, after you finished with the --

AS: After, then they sent me to Germany. And I was in a, encamped in Germany. I was in a, I wasn't in a company, I was in a detachment which handled paper, all the medical papers of medical suppliers for the whole European command. And we only had forty-four men and nine of 'em were sergeants. But the rest of us were doing all the work. Because sergeants are, they're permanent army people so, so they only know how to pass out the work.

AI: Well, so, what was your work life like there when you were first...

AS: Actually, it was just like working in the office. You know, like we go to work eight o'clock and break for lunch at noon, go back at one and work 'til five, just like being civilian. Only thing is we had to get up at six o'clock in the morning to stand reveille and then go for breakfast after that.

AI: And then would you get passes to...

AS: Yeah, uh-huh.

AI: And what would you do with your time off?

AS: Oh, go to, because, especially Sunday, Sunday dinner, they used to serve cold cuts in camp. So we, we used to get a pass and go to, go to the town and eat.

AI: Oh yeah, where were you, by the way? What --

AS: Germany, Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern in Germany, which is a small town. It's a farming area. It's a real small town. But then after we were there for about six months, they, they opened a Chinese restaurant in town. So that was a big, big thing for the GIs, something different.

AI: So you went there --

AS: Good food.

AI: -- and you'd have Chinese food?

AS: Yeah.

AI: How was it?

AS: It was good. Yeah. There's Chinese restaurants all over the place, even in that little town. [Laughs]

AI: Well, and so, and how were you treated by the German townspeople? Did they, were they surprised to see someone with your Japanese face and...

AS: No, because they had some other, they had a Chinese guy and a Filipino guy, and so they must've had a Japanese before. And another one is there was a Landstool air base not too far from us and they must've had some Asians there, too, so...

AI: Well, so, what was this like for you because here you are, you're in an American uniform, but you're still not in the United States legally? Your status is still illegal but you're wearing the U.S. army uniform, you're in Germany. How did you yourself, how did you feel? Did you feel like you were part of the American army? Did you kind of start feeling like you were American?

AS: Oh yeah. Yeah, I felt like, like, just like the rest of 'em because, because I had the uniform on.

AI: And you were being treated as if you were an American?

AS: Right.

AI: And so, in your own mind, did you start thinking of yourself as being American? Or did you still feel kind of Peruvian, or Japanese?

AS: I wasn't even thinking about that in those days. Because we're there, I felt like American or Japanese, actually, it didn't make any difference. So I didn't even think about it.

AI: You were part of the U.S. army and you were treated like any other...

AS: Right, Americans.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: So, it's October 26, 2003 and we're continuing our interview with Art Shibayama. And Art, before the break that we took, you had been talking about your service with the U.S. army and that you were sent to Germany. And so I wanted to ask you a little bit more about some of your experience there while you were in Germany.

AS: Well, we, I was assigned to, to a detachment that used to do all the paperwork of medical supply for the whole European command. And we used to handle top secret documents. So I think my, the section leader, who was a warrant officer, tried to get me citizenship. So he asked me, he said, "Hey, how come you're not citizen?" So, when I told him my story, what happened to me, he said, "Oh," he said, "I'll get you one." And the paper went to Washington, came back saying that I was denied because I didn't have a legal entry and they advised me to go to Chicago immigration after I got out. So, so then I went to the immigration in Chicago after I got out and their... they never had a case like mine, so they didn't know what to do. And they, they told him that, told me to... that they were gonna find out what to do, and they will call me back. So they sent me home. And after two years, the immigration called me back and they said, "Well," they says, "everything is arranged. You have to go to Canada and re-enter. Go to Canadian immigration and then come back and then that way you can get your legal entry and then bring the letter back to me." So that's what I did. I went back and I said, "Okay, here's the letter, since I just got out of the army," and said, "Can I get my citizenship?" He said, "No," he says, "you can get your permanent residency right away, but to get your citizenship you have to wait five years." And the thing is, you know, after that, I was in no hurry because I had my permanent residency so they can't deport me any more, and so I was in no hurry. But then in 1971 I was thinking about moving to California and I figured I didn't want to go through the same thing all over again, so I went back to the immigration and got my citizenship. And that was in 1970, '71, '70.

AI: Did you have any trouble at that time when you applied for the citizenship?

AS: No. No trouble at all then.

AI: So that's...

AS: But the funny thing is, I moved to California in 1971 and we got together with some of the Japanese Peruvians, we had a kind of reunion. And this fellow asked me, he says, "Did you get, were you in the army?" And I said, "Yeah." And he says, "Did you get your citizenship?" And I said, "No." I said, "Not in the army." So he says, "How come?" I says, "Well, I applied for my citizenship -- I mean, my section leader tried to get me citizenship in November 1953," but I said, "I was denied because I didn't have legal entry." And he said he received his citizenship November 1953 the same year, same month, same year I was denied and he got it while he was in the army. Then another fellow said that he got drafted in 1954 which was a year later, a few months later and he said that he got his permanent residency 1954 and then in '55, the following year they told him, "Well, since you are in the army, we'll waive the five-year wait and give you citizenship in '55." And here I had to wait five years even in 1956.

AI: So the three of you, all three were Japanese Peruvians, all three of you were brought into the United States the same way --

AS: Same way, exactly.

AI: -- but all three of you were drafted into the army, but each of you were treated differently.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And you were denied --

AS: In fact, one of the fellows came on the same boat --

AI: Is that right?

AS: -- I came on.

AI: So, it seemed like there was no explanation for why you had to wait so long, why you were denied.

AS: That's right. Like one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing.

AI: So, same circumstances but different treatment.

AS: That's right.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, so also, at, in the meantime, what happened with your sisters and brothers, because they were... also had the same status that you did, you were all brought in and labeled "illegal aliens"?

AS: Right.

AI: What did they do?

AS: Well, they, when they sent me to Canada, they, they sent all of us to Canada at the same time.

AI: Oh, so you went with your family, your whole family?

AS: Yeah. Well, all the kids. Except, except one sister because she was married to one of the "no-nos" from Tule Lake and he was a citizen at that time so she was afraid if she went to Canada she might not be able to come back, so, so she didn't go.

AI: But the rest of you --

AS: But the rest of us all went through the, the same...

AI: And so when you all, you and your other sisters and brothers -- except for the one sister -- all came back into the United States and were then legally entering the United States from Canada. And then what happened to, to those sisters and brothers? They then received their permanent residency also?

AS: Just like, just like myself. They received the permanent residency right away, but... well, I don't know what happened to the citizen-, I don't know when they got, they received their citizenship.

AI: Maybe different times?

AS: Different times, yeah. 'Cause I was the only one that went in 1970.

AI: And what about your parents? Because they were also still illegal aliens?

AS: No, but my mother, in 1952, when they changed the law for Japanese citizens, she received her permanent residency then.

AI: Oh, she did?

AS: Yeah.

AI: And what about your father?

AS: Well, my father, too, yeah. My father and my mother, they both received their permanent residency retroactive. In fact, they received theirs retroactive to the day we came in.

AI: Was there...

AS: So, and here, and not only that, but they didn't even leave the country and received theirs.

AI: So your parents, they, you had all come in on the same boat, you had all been assigned illegal status, but in 1952 your parents got this different treatment. They were given permanent U.S. residency retroactive to the day they originally were brought to the United States.

AS: Right. Not only my parents, but there were, I think there were a hundred and fifty that received theirs retroactive, total.

AI: Did you get any explanation why you and your brothers and sisters didn't have the same treatment?

AS: No, just a hundred and fifty, and the rest of 'em didn't. So there's another, at least another hundred and fifty that didn't receive retroactive.

AI: Oh. So that's another mystery --

AS: Right.

AI: -- as to why some received this treatment and others did not. Oh. So then your, all of you, except for your one sister who was married then, were, had your permanent residency.

AS: But my sister, after we got ours, I don't know how many months later, or a year later, she went to, she went to one of those classes for, for Isseis, you know, to, for citizenship. And she and her husband went to one of those and they got the citizenship through them. In Chicago.

AI: So they become naturalized citizens, then.

AS: Yeah, right.

AI: Oh, that's interesting. Well, so it sounds like a very complicated situation and each person might have been treated differently.

AS: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, we'll be coming back to that later, but before we get too far ahead, I wanted to go back to when you were in the service --

AS: The army.

AI: -- because you had some photographs from that time. I wondered if you could show us.

AS: Sure.

AI: And tell us what's going on in these pictures?

AS: This is a picture of our detachment. Since we didn't need the whole company, we were only assigned to a detachment because company holds over two hundred people. So, so, we were just a detachment.

AI: And where are you in this picture?

AS: This is Germany, right next, on the side of the bar. Germany, it wasn't barracks, it was a building. And we were only assigned eight people to a, eight soldiers to a room.

AI: And do you have a picture there of your, is that your room?

AS: Yeah, this is, this is my room. There were eight, eight soldiers in a room and four double bunks.

AI: And then these are some of your buddies from...

AS: This is part of our softball team.

AI: And what position were you playing?

AS: I was pitching.

AI: Still pitching?

AS: Yeah. I was pitching.

AI: So tell me about the, tell me about the softball team. How did that get started?

AS: Well, in camp there were so many companies and detachments, so each company had their own team. So we made our own team, too, and played against them.

AI: Well, from that picture it looks like you had a multi-racial team?

AS: Oh yeah, yeah.

AI: Was that --

AS: Mostly, but they were mostly hakujins, just, I was the only Japanese and there was one African American there. I don't know why we took this one. This is part of the detachment. And this is in front of our theater in camp, army camp.

AI: Right.

AS: In Germany. And these are the two closest friends I had. In fact, this fellow in the middle, he was from Chicago, too. The other one was from Connecticut. But he was bunking right next to me so that's why we became close.

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

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, were you... you weren't in Germany the entire time in the service, were you?

AS: No. I was in Germany nine months and then seven months in France. Here in Germany the first three-day pass I went to, I went to Paris, three of us. And here seven months, nine months later we ended up only sixty miles from Paris. Stationed. [Laughs]

AI: Is that right? What was your impression of Paris?

AS: It's, Paris is big, spread out and it's a nice town, lot of things to do. Yeah.

AI: Well, and while you were in Europe, in Germany and France and then when you were near Paris, did you ever come across any Spanish-speaking people?

AS: No, except when I went to, I went to Spain.

AI: Oh, when was this?

AS: Oh, you know, like when I was in, stationed in Europe, I figured those days, we didn't travel too much. So I thought I better, I better see as much as I can. So I used to take off all the time. And so, then, one of those times I went to, I took, I think I took ten-day leave and I went to Spain and down to Barcelona and Madrid. And in those days, in Spain, they didn't speak much English. In fact, when we were in Barcelona we had to go for, I mean, we needed directions to take to get. And so they had a big TWA office. So this friend of mine that went with me, he said, oh, he said, "I'll take care of this one." So he went in the office and he came right back out and he says, "I think you better go in there, they don't speak English." [Laughs]

AI: Oh, so what was that like for you, going, being in Spain and speaking Spanish?

AS: Oh, first couple days I had a hard time because I, I hadn't been using Spanish. But then after about three or four days, it came back, so I didn't have any problem.

AI: And was there some difference between the Spanish you spoke and the Spanish there?

AS: No, because in Peru we spoke Castilian which is same as the one in Spain. Yeah.

AI: And so what were some of your impressions of Spain, the places you went to?

AS: Well, it's, it's kinda similar to Lima except that they stay up late, later than us. You know, they don't eat dinner 'til around nine o'clock, and then you go to, like you go to a nightclub. They don't open 'til midnight. But then at seven o'clock in the morning everything is just dead, nobody on the street.

AI: So there's a lot of nightlife?

AS: Yeah.

AI: Well, of the things that you saw there in Spain, was there anything surprising to you? Or anything that you, the things you saw kind of stand out in your mind?

AS: No, except like I went to Palma, Palma De Mayoca, which is like Capri to Italy. It's an island outside of, outside of Spain. And there, everything's so inexpensive that when you come back to the mainland, you have to go through customs. And, and so we were there three days, I think. We were only paying dollar and a quarter for three meals and board.

AI: That's hard to believe.

AS: And, I'm sure it's not like that now, but, and we weren't allowed to drink water, right, outside of camp so then we ordered wine for each meal and I thought there were fifty cents a bottle, they were only a nickel.

AI: Oh, my goodness. Those are incredible prices. [Laughs]

AS: Yes. And they gave you plenty to eat, too, each meal.

AI: Well, so what did some, how did the Spanish people see you? Did they, here you were, you have a Japanese face, you're speaking Spanish, you're with other Americans GIs. How did they, what did they think you were?

AS: You know, surprising that, well, in those days, we had to wear our uniform, even outside. So, not so much the looks, but, see, I went with an Italian guy. And whatever we go, wherever we went, they all look at him, and they don't look at me. So then, when, they, on purpose I don't say anything right away. And then I start talking and they look at me like, "What is the guy?" He's... they couldn't believe I was speaking Spanish. [Laughs]

AI: That must have been really strange reaction.

AS: Yeah.

AI: So, because if your friend was, so he was Italian American, or --

AS: Yeah, Italian American, so...

AI: But speaking English.

AS: Right, so he, they expect him to speak, right? Because it's hard to tell between Italian American and Spanish people.

AI: So they, they thought that he would possibly speak Spanish.

AS: Speak, yeah. So on purpose I don't say anything for a while. And they're looking at him and looking at him. And then I start talking and they say, like they can't believe it. [Laughs]

AI: That's funny. Oh, my.

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

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: Well, so that sounds like quite a trip, then, down through Spain...

AS: Oh, yeah. We went to Italy, Spain, Germany, a few towns, Austria, where else did I go? Well, Germany and France, naturally, oh, I went to Switzerland and Netherlands, England, Ireland, yeah. So every chance when I came back I didn't have one day of leave left. I used it all up.

AI: Oh, that sounds great. You really took advantage of that.

AS: And then another thing is, because we were a detachment and we, like an office work, so like either first part of the month or last part of the month were busy, and the other two (weeks) we weren't that busy. So I, I used to take my leaves, you know, the slow, slow two weeks and then, like if I took, on weekends I can get extra days.

AI: So then you would have a long enough period of time that you could go out.

AS: I can make long, yeah.

AI: Go out on trips. Well, this sounds so interesting that you were able to go to these different countries and see the different cultures and come back and, did you come away with any feeling of... did it seem to you that there were quite a bit of differences among the different people, the different countries that you went through that you saw?

AS: You know, not too much of that because I couldn't speak the language, so I didn't get to see too many people.

AI: Right, because it's harder to communicate.

AS: The language, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, the other thing I wanted to ask you about during your time in the service is, of course, this is in the 1950s and the fight against Communism was a pretty big thing for the United States. And I'm just wondering, from your point of view, as a, just a regular person drafted into the army, did you have any sense that you were part of a war against Communism?

AS: No. In Germany we didn't have too much trouble with that.

AI: So that really wasn't a big focus or big emphasis --

AS: No.

AI: -- at that time for you.

AS: The only thing is that... no, I was there sixteen months. And I only fired my rifle once, so if, if something happened, we were kinda, we were kinda afraid, because we, because they didn't take us to the driving range often enough.

AI: So you didn't have regular training with your arms?

AS: No, not after, not after I left basic.

AI: Well, did you ever consider continuing on, signing up with the army?

AS: No. In fact, our CO, who was a lieutenant in, he was a lieutenant colonel, so he was the same rank as the post commander. He tried to get me to reenlist, but I said, "No," I said, "I want my civilian life." In fact, he, he was so high he was same rank as a post commander, so, all the time we were there we never did KP or guard duty. Because actually, since we only had forty-two men, and nine of 'em were sergeants, so actually there was only thirty-four of us, I mean, thirty-three of us. And so, because sergeants don't pull KP, and so actually he, he didn't have enough men to send for KP or guard duty.

AI: Oh, so you had a, your duty was kind of unusual, then, it wasn't, not typical.

AS: Right. Because not only we had a lieutenant colonel, we had one major, four captains, and one second lieutenant, one warrant officer, one air force major, air force first lieutenant, so, plus the nine sergeants, we had more chiefs than Indians.

AI: [Laughs] Well, why was that that you were, wanted to get back to civilian life, that... some people saw, thought, well they could possibly have a career in the army. But what were you thinking about?

AS: Well, you know, because and another thing is, Korean War was on at that time. So, a lot of us didn't want a part of that.

AI: That's right, 'cause there's always the chance that if you stayed in --

AS: That you might be sent somewhere else, yeah.

AI: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: So, then let's see, were... you were discharged in 1954, is that right?

AS: Yes.

AI: And so what happened? Where, where did you go and where were you discharged?

AS: In Chicago.

AI: So you went right back --

AS: Pardon?

AI: So you went right back to Chicago.

AS: Yes, because my, my, the rest of the family were there, all of 'em was in Chicago. So I went back over there and I got a job. And then I was thinking of going to school. And, well, my sister was married by then, and sister's brother-in-law, I mean, my sister's husband said to me, says, "You going back to school?" He says, "Why don't you go to mechanic school? That way you don't have to go to school as long and then you can make a good living out of being a mechanic." Because in Chicago, mechanics work on, if you working for other dealership, you work on commission. So you can make a decent living at it. So then I went to mechanic school, which was only six months. And then he got me a job there at the same dealership as him.

AI: And which, which dealership was that?

AS: Ford, Ford Dealer.

AI: Oh, so that sounds like it worked out very smoothly.

AS: Yeah, uh-huh. I got lucky.

AI: Well now, at about this same time you got married, didn't you?

AS: 1955, yes, after, I think after I worked for half a year. Then we decided to get married.

AI: Well, tell me, how did you meet Betty? And when was that, was that 1950 or '51?

AS: Yeah, either '50, late '50 or early '51. Bunch of us went bowling. And that's where, that's where I met Betty.

AI: And so then while you were in the army, did you stay in touch, were you corresponding?

AS: Oh, yeah. In fact, we got, we got engaged before I went overseas.

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

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: And then after you came back, and you had been working for a while --

AS: Yeah, right.

AI: Then --

AS: Then we got married in '55.

AI: So, where did you and Betty have your first home?

AS: In the city, small place. We were renting up an apartment. And then after that, oh, in fact, it was near Wrigley Field, Cubs' park.

AI: Did you go to a lot of ballgames there?

AS: Not really a lot. We used to go maybe half a dozen times a year. And not only that, but Chicago had two teams, the White Sox and the Cubs. So we used to go to Sox games, too, so...

AI: Well, and so then, you had started your family then, and your children --

AS: No, we didn't have our first one 'til (two) years later.

AI: (Two) years later. And that was your daughter?

AS: Yes. Bekki, our daughter, was born 1960.

AI: And then you had --

AS: And then two years later our son Brian was born.

AI: So, where were you living when, when they were young, when the kids were young?

AS: Well, see, after... we, after, I guess (before) Bekki was born, we moved up north to my brother-in-law had a three flat apartment so, so we, we moved in one of the flats there.

AI: So, when you say up north, is this still in Chicago?

AS: Still in Chicago, near Evanston, but still in Chicago.

AI: And then you were still working at the Ford dealership?

AS: Yes.

AI: Well --

AS: Yeah, I worked there 'til 1963. That's when a real big Ford dealership opened not too far from us. So then they asked our bosses, there were two, two partners, they asked them to, they have to move. So, so then they decided to retire instead of moving to a new place. So then I had to go look for another job. And I got a job with a Chevrolet dealership, closer to our house.

AI: Well, so then, during this time, I'm just wondering, I know there were quite a few Japanese Americans who resettled in Chicago after the war and they were probably all starting families at about the same time. I was wondering, were you part of a Japanese American community at all? Or did you get together with other Japanese Peruvians, or other people from Fukuoka-ken, or, I'm just wondering what kind of gatherings you might have had?

AS: No, like in Chicago you know, like they used to have a lot of boys clubs and girls clubs, so, so we mingled, and plus, by then, we spoke better English, so we were able to communicate with them. And so, so we belonged to a club. And I joined a club named Robabies. Because the older, they had a Roman, club named Romans and the younger brothers made a club and they called them, themselves Robabies. And when I joined them, the reason I joined them because they had about six guys that were in Seabrook, formerly from Seabrook. So they talked me into joining them.

AI: Oh, so that was part of your social life?

AS: Right. So, so we used to make our own team and play softball and basketball, whatever.

AI: Well, now at this time, was Betty working outside the home, or just mainly at home with the kids?

AS: Well, she worked until Bekki was born, then she stayed home and take care of the kids.

AI: And also, can you kind of describe the neighborhood that you were living in as the kids were growing up, what did that look like?

AS: It was mostly, it was mostly hakujins, and a few Niseis here and there.

AI: And as the kids started going to school, do you think they faced any kind of prejudice or anything like that?

AS: No, I don't think so.

AI: Any kind of experience like that? Because you had said earlier that you didn't really experience much --

AS: No.

AI: -- prejudice in Chicago.

AS: No, not in Chicago.

AI: Right. And so, then as your kids were still young, but I'm wondering did you or Betty ever talk to them about being Japanese American, or in your case, did they know that you had originally come from another country?

AS: Oh yeah, they know, they know I come from, from Peru, but we didn't talk too much about it.

AI: And were they able to communicate with your parents much, because your parents were still Japanese- and Spanish-speaking and your kids, did they, were they able to talk to their grandparents at all?

AS: Not too much. Well, like, like they were able to speak to Betty's grandparents, but not to mine because they didn't, they kinda understood little bit of English, you know, but, so they would talk to them in English and answer in Japanese and we'll have to get in there and translate and things like that.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Well, then, let's see, at some point you and Betty decided that you were going to, to move and leave Chicago.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Tell me about that. How did you, how did you make that decision?

AS: Well, we came on vacation, 1967. And we spent couple weeks, yeah couple weeks here and we really --

AI: Oh, excuse me, when you said "here," did you mean in California?

AS: Yeah, in California, San Jose, oh, I'm sorry. [Laughs] Came to San Jose and visited my sister. By then my sister had moved already. So, so we spent couple of weeks with them. And then, but, at that time I liked it here, but most of my friends were in Chicago and somehow, I wanted to move Betty didn't. She was afraid of the earthquakes.

AI: Earthquakes in, in California?

AS: In California. So, so she wasn't too crazy about moving there. But then a few years later in (1970) -- '71, we went back again for another couple weeks. And in the winter, the early winter of 19-, between '70 and '71, we had twenty-six inches of snow in twenty-four hours. So I was shoveling snow all day long, finish shoveling the front, I had to go to the back, shovel the back and then come back to the front. And then in the news we heard that some of the roofs were caving in because it was a wet snow. And see, in those days in Chicago, the roofs were flat. So then I had to go all the way up to the third floor, shovel, get the snow out of there. So it was, and another thing is, we had so much snow, the grocery stores were running out of milk, they were even running out of powder, powdered milk because they couldn't deliver it. The only thing that was running was the subway, the subways and the El, no buses or trucks. And, in fact, some of the old people were dying because the coal truck were oil, couldn't be delivered, so no heat. They couldn't get in. They couldn't heat the houses. [Coughs] Excuse me. So they were dying, that's how bad it was. And people couldn't go to work, because no, no... I mean, people that lived near the El or subway, they were able to go, but a lot of people couldn't go to work. In fact, they, they had to borrow those semis from Wisconsin and Michigan to, to get rid of the snow, get the snow on the truck and dump it in the lake.

AI: That sounds like a terrible winter.

AS: So then that summer, the following summer we had a -- fourteen days straight -- we had a temperature of ninety to ninety-five, and the humidity was between ninety-five and a hundred. So then, in October I said, "Let's move. We gotta get out of here." [Laughs] That's when we decided to move to California. Plus, my hay-fever was getting bad there. So we moved.

AI: So, that, was that in 1971?

AS: '71.

AI: That you moved to...

AS: '71, October of '71.

AI: So where did you move to?

AS: San Jose. 'Cause I had, by then, I had three sisters there. So, so one of my sisters found a house for us to rent, and so we rented a house in Los Gatos for about half a (year). That's when we found our house.

AI: And what did you do for work?

AS: Oh, I... good friend of mine was, in fact, he moved from Chicago to San Jose and he, we worked at the same place, at the Ford dealership in Chicago. And in fact, he lived across the street from me in Chicago, so we used to carpool to work. And he had a, he got a Shell station in San Jose, well actually, in Campbell, which is next (town) to San Jose. And so he, he gave me a job. I worked there for ten months and then he, he sent me to Shell school for two months, two months, oh, eight weeks, actually. And then, then... and then that was December, so I must've worked for him for about ten months. And then, then we found a station, service station, so then I got my own service station.

AI: Oh, so then you were in business for yourself?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Well, that's quite a change.

AS: Yeah, because this friend of mine that I worked, we were so close, we were like brothers.

AI: So how did you like that, having your own station?

AS: Headaches. Not so much the work, getting the help was the problem, especially here, because we couldn't afford to pay 'em much more than, than minimum wages. But then in Silicon Valley, those companies, they were paying much more than that so, so it was hard to get help. Well, you get any help, you get somebody to work for you and then two, three months later they get a better job in Silicon Valley and they quit. So that was a problem. That was a headache.

AI: Oh, my goodness. Well, what about, aside from that, how was it adjusting to living in California, in San Jose? You had enjoyed yourself on the, on the visits, on the trips out, but once you were actually settled there, how did you like it?

AS: Oh, I liked it. The weather was nice. We didn't have to worry about all that snow and the heat in the summertime, humidity, so it was really nice.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Well, and what was, I understand there's a fairly large Japanese American community in the San Jose area, too.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: So did you and Betty start getting involved with them? Or you had almost half your family out there already.

AS: Yeah, we... it took a while to get more, because in San Jose, unless you were in Japanese town you don't get to see too many Japanese there. But there were few Japanese that went to the school our kids went to. So that way we got to meet a few of them.

AI: And when you were --

AS: And then we joined the, we joined the JACL, and that's how we got to meet more people.

AI: Well, I wanted to ask you about the San Jose Japantown. When you, when you first saw that area, what did you think when you saw it?

AS: It was, it was kind of unusual because we didn't have a Japantown in Chicago. Here you see all these stores and all these restaurants in the same place, although we, although we had Chinatown in, I mean, we had Chinatown in Chicago, so kinda similar. Everything's in one spot. So it wasn't really a big shock. And then, plus, plus we heard that San Jose had a Japantown.

AI: So then you were saying that you had joined the JACL. And it was during the 1970s that the JACL and some, several other organizations, the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, and the National Coalition for Japanese American Redress, several national groups and some local groups were working for redress for Japanese Americans. And I'm wondering when you, if you can look back to when you first heard about this idea of redress, I know that some people, when they first heard it they weren't too sure it was a good idea. What did you think?

AS: You mean fighting for it? I thought it was a good idea because I knew about William Hohri fighting for it and we knew William, see, so, so, so we thought it was a good idea to fight for it. And JACL was a bigger organization, so we thought it'd be more power fighting.

AI: Well, in the early years of that, of the redress movement, what, you thought it was a good idea, but what did you think of the chances of winning?

AS: I figured it was gonna be a struggle, because any time you fight a government, you know, it's not easy.

AI: Right. And did you just assume that you would be part of that, that if redress came about that you would be part of the redress?

AS: Yeah, because I thought anybody, because when it first started it was anybody that was in camp.

AI: Right.

AS: Yeah, so, so I figured we'd be included.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: And, so really, as these efforts for redress were going on, lots of other things were happening at the same time. Some of the students were working for Asian American studies in colleges, and some people were putting together these reunions, camp reunions, and also there were some pilgrimages that were put together. And you told me earlier that you and Betty had gone on, was it the first pilgrimage to Tule Lake in --

AS: I don't know if it was...

AI: Or one of the early ones?

AS: Yeah. I don't know if it was the first or second. But we went to the one when they put the plaque up. Was that the second one?

AI: I think that it was maybe 1978 or '79?

AS: '79, yeah.

AI: '79? Okay. So tell me about that, how, how did you and Betty come to go on this pilgrimage?

AS: Well they, they announced that they were gonna have a pilgrimage to Tule Lake and there were gonna be two buses from San Francisco, one bus from San Jose, I think, I think they said three or four buses from Sacramento because the people from LA were gonna fly to Sacramento. And so, so then this friend of mine, the one that I still, I mean, I worked for, he says, "Hey, how about going to Tule Lake?" I said, "Are you kidding?" He says no, he says he wants to go. So then, then he said that this other friend, Sasaki, Aki Sasaki, he said he's going, too. So I talked to Betty and since Betty was in Tule Lake, she said, "Yeah, we can go." So then we said okay, okay, we'll go. And then this friend of mine said, "You better bring your sleeping bag." And I said, "What?" "A sleeping bag." I said, "What for?" He said, "We're gonna rough it up with the kids." I said, "You gotta be kidding." He says, "No." He says, "I wanna do that." So I said, "Oh, okay." So we took our sleeping bag and I think we slept in a, I think (recreation) hall. And I don't know, there must've been two hundred kids in there. And we couldn't sleep because, you know, we just, I mean, you can't blame 'em, people are so tired and everybody snoring and it's not, it's not just one tone, you know, it's a different tone, some of 'em high, some of 'em low, and I had a hard time sleeping.

AI: So this was probably hundreds of people in this large...

AS: Couple hundred, yeah, at least couple hundred.

AI: ...area. [Laughs] Well --

AS: So then, the next morning we got up, washed up and then by the time we got to the, that must've been a recreation hall, because we went to the mess hall from there. So, went to the mess hall, and now there's a big line. So then we got there and the young kids looked at us and says, "You don't have to stand in line," he said, "Go, go up there. Go up to the front of the line." So, so then, so we went up to the front of the line, we see there are the Sanseis and Yonseis, mostly Sanseis. They did the cooking and they made the breakfast so that when we went to front of the line and we got our breakfast. That one good thing came out of it. [Laughs] Because there weren't too many Niseis, very few Isseis and there weren't that many Niseis, mostly Sanseis and Yonseis. So when they saw us, they says, "No, no," he says, "You don't stand in line," he says, "Go."

AI: That's great.

AS: Yeah.

AI: Well, I guess because you had already survived being in camp already, then you shouldn't have to stand in line for this one.

AS: Plus, they saw us sleeping with them in the, in the recreation hall so all the more, I guess, they felt sorry for us. Said, "Get up there." [Laughs]

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: Okay, well, we're continuing on with our interview with Art Shibayama. And Art, just before our break we were talking about the pilgrimage to Tule Lake that you and Betty went to. And I was wondering, you know, when you, when you first heard about this pilgrimage, what were you expecting? What did you think was gonna happen at this thing?

AS: I was thinking about how dusty the place was gonna be and there isn't much left there. So, I, I wasn't too crazy about going, actually. [Laughs]

AI: And then when you actually got there it sounds like it wasn't too comfortable either?

AS: No. Yeah.

AI: And had you --

AS: But the Sansei, you know, made it so we can relax more and enjoy the trip.

AI: And you had gone up on a bus, it that right? Taking a bus ride from San Jose?

AS: Uh-huh, from San Jose.

AI: And that is several hours' ride because --

AS: Right, that's almost all day.

AI: All the way...

AS: I think it's eight hours.

AI: Because Tule Lake is almost to the California-Oregon border.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And had Betty ever been back there?

AS: No.

AI: Since she was in camp?

AS: I think that was the first time she went back.

AI: So the two of you were there for the whole pilgrimage, then?

AS: Uh-huh, the whole, the whole thing.

AI: Was there anything there that kind of stands out in your mind, something that you saw there or that happened at the pilgrimage?

AS: Well, our friend, Aki Sasaki got interviewed by one of the San Francisco stations, one of the major stations. So, so he, so he was on the news, the six o'clock news.

AI: Oh, my.

AS: And then after the, not after, but at the end they had the door prizes. And our friend Aki, he's kind of bald and he, he got a, he got one of the prizes to go to the beauty shop. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's a funny one. [Laughs]

AS: And then I got a prize to go free lube and oil filter. But that was for Berkeley.

AI: Oh, that's so funny, and here you have --

AS: Gas station in Berkeley, California.

AI: You have your own service station.

AS: And not only that, but this part owner of the Berkeley station, I knew, I knew him. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's funny.

AS: We met in Chicago when we were going to school.

AI: Is that right?

AS: Mechanic school.

AI: Oh, what a coincidence. Oh my, that's funny. Wow. Well, so after this pilgrimage, then, and you got back home, what, had your kids, either of your kids go, or did they --

AS: No.

AI: Did they know that you were going on this trip?

AS: They knew, yeah, they knew we were going, but they didn't go.

AI: And did you end up talking to them about it or had, did they have any questions about what this was or why you went?

AS: No, they might've asked my wife, because she was, she was in camp there for a while.

AI: Right.

AS: So, but I didn't know anything about Tule Lake, so I didn't, they didn't ask me.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, so then, also, you had mentioned earlier that there were other reunions that you had gone to, that the Peruvians had some reunions.

AS: Peruvians, yes. I can't remember what year it was. But the year they had the Olympics in L.A., we were gonna... we were planning to have our first reunion and we were gonna have it in L.A. because most of us, most of the Peruvians are living in L.A. area. But they couldn't get a place because the Olymp-, they were having the Olympics there. So then we decided, maybe we'd have it in San Francisco. No, San Francisco was having the Democratic Convention. So they couldn't get a place there. But then, but it was gonna be our fortieth anniversary since we got out of camp so, so they wanted to have it that year. So then we decided to have one in San Jose. So, and then my sister, my sister Kikue's daughter, she was kinda involved with one of the travel agencies, so she, so she made most of the work. She did most of the work arranging places to get and things. So, so we had it in San Jose.

AI: Oh.

AS: It was the first one. And then two years later we had a second one in L.A. Then the third one we had it in San Francisco, two years later after that. And then two years after San Francisco we had it in Las Vegas. And then the next one was in Hawaii, and after then we went back to Vegas, and then they had one in Peru. But I didn't, I didn't go to the one in Peru. My sisters went, but I didn't want to go because I didn't wanna remember the good old days when we were there, living there.

AI: But you went to the other reunions?

AS: I went to most of 'em, yeah.

AI: Well, tell me about them. What kind of activity did you have? Mostly social, kind of meeting with people?

AS: Mostly social, yeah. Although the one in L.A., they had they had a, like a fashion show, because this, one of the girls, Kamisato, she designed clothes. In fact, I think she makes some clothing for Macy's. So they had the youngers, the Sanseis, parading in some of the clothes that she was making.

AI: Well, and then I understand that partly, coming out of some of the reunion activity was also the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project.

AS: Started in --

AI: Grew out of some of that.

AS: Yeah, that's the one that came out of; grew out of the one in San Francisco. Although I missed that one, because that's the same year they had the one... they had the Oregon reunion and I was already signed up for that, plus, being near Hood River where Betty was born, so we already had signed up for that, so, so we went to that one instead. But that's when Grace and, Grace Shimizu and Libby Yamamoto got together and they decided to, to start Oral History Project because our parents getting older and the older Niseis are getting older.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, another thing I wanted to ask about was, we had talked a little bit about the redress movement, or redress activities and the, of course, the redress commission hearings. And those were held around the country in 1981. And I was wondering if you or Betty or anyone that you knew of were involved with those hearings or went to testify or went to listen to the commission hearings?

AS: Yeah, the Elsa Kudo and Eigo Kudo went to Hawaii -- I mean, not Hawaii, went to Chicago and they were involved in that.

AI: And they testified?

AS: Testified, yeah.

AI: Well, because I was thinking that at that time, there were, your story of the Peruvians was very little-known.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And, so I was wondering whether any...

AS: In fact, Elsa Kudo, Elsa's father, who was Seiichi Higashide, she wrote the book Adios to Tears.

AI: Right. Right, I think that was one of the earliest books published on that.

AS: Uh-huh, right.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: Well, so then, of course, the Civil Rights Act of 1988 was finally passed, and that was the redress legislation, and so when you heard that was passed, what was your reaction?

AS: Well, my reaction was, well, finally somebody's gonna get compensated for, for the, all the trouble we went through.

AI: And so you applied?

AS: So I applied, yeah, just like the rest of 'em.

AI: And then what happened?

AS: Then after they started paying, I got a letter from Office of Redress saying that I was denied because I wasn't a citizen or permanent resident at the time of internment. So then I appealed it. I appealed and then they came back saying that I didn't get my permanent residency until 1956. So I was denied again. And then there was another one that said that I went to Canada voluntarily. Now, I mean the immigration office said the only way I can get my permanent residency is by leaving the country and re-enter. So, how can that be voluntarily? Just like when I got classified illegal alien. How can I be illegal when we didn't want to come here in the first place and the government brings us, brings us here, force us, force us to come here, and they bring us at gunpoint, and then they classify -- and not only that, there were, some of the Peruvians were businessmen, so some people had passports. And those passports were confiscated when we boarded the ship. And then when we come, when we got off the ship they said we didn't have any papers so we were illegal.

AI: So, when you were denied, what did you think? What did you feel?

AS: Well, here we go again, getting discriminated against. So then I went to, to Asian Law Alliance and Richard Konda tried to help me and he sent a few letters to, to the Office of Redress but I still got denied.

AI: And you weren't the only one who was denied?

AS: No, there were a few of us. Quite a few, I don't know how many total. I don't know how many got denied. So then they said that we can sue the government so, so that's how the Mochizuki case started.

AI: Right, so that was, I believe that was in 1996?

AS: '96, yes.

AI: That the Mochizuki case was, was brought, was started. And when that case was underway there was also some community support that got organized as the Campaign for Justice --

AS: Campaign, yeah.

AI: -- for Japanese Latin Americans.

AS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: So tell me a little bit about this, about the Campaign for Justice.

AS: They started a Campaign for Justice because so many of us got denied. And Grace Shimizu and the NCRR in L.A., they got together and that's how Campaign for Justice got started.

AI: And at that time, again, very few people really knew the story of what had happened to you.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: Was that about the time when you and other people started talking about the experience and speaking?

AS: Yes. Uh-huh. Grace Shimizu, Libby Yamamoto, Eloy (Maoki), and I. We started going to different communities and different schools and started speaking.

AI: What was --

AS: I guess some of, a couple in Southern Cal, too, I think.

AI: Well, when you first started speaking, what was that like for you?

AS: [Laughs] You know, like, like, I don't like to speak. I'm not a speaking person anyway. So, especially, speaking in front of people and like, sometimes you go to Berkeley, you know, and there might be two hundred, three hundred students. It was kinda, it was kind of hard. [Laughs] But I figured somebody had to do it. So, so, the first few times it was hard, but I guess like everything else, you get used to it. I mean, after a while you don't feel it.

AI: Well, what kind of questions did people ask you? What kind of responses did you get from the audience members?

AS: Not too many, because we, because they were limited to so much time they have and then, and then the next class come in. So, so they didn't have too many questions, they didn't have too, too much time for them to ask too many questions. But, so they, so they had, they had paper, pass out paper that they can ask questions in a paper so we, so we can answer them. But not too many were asked on the floor.

AI: I see. Well, as you were going around doing this speaking, do you think that, did you ever come across people who had any understanding of what you had gone through? Did anyone, had anyone ever heard of your story before, this experience?

AS: No, lot of 'em, most of 'em didn't. In fact, some of the girls were crying after they heard our story. They couldn't believe it.

AI: Well, when you, when you tell it, it does sound kind of unbelievable.

AS: Uh-huh. Especially with this powerful country like ours, to do something like that, it's hard to believe.

AI: Well, the Mochizuki case then was... went on for a couple of years.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And tell me what the government's position was and what the government said.

AS: Well, the government wanted to, they wanted to dismiss the case. Stuff like we went to a couple hearings and they wanted to dismiss the case. In fact, the one time we had breakfast with some of the congresspeople and Patsy Mink was fighting for us, too. Her and Congressman Bacerra. In fact, the first time we went to, we went to Washington, D.C., they, we had a conference -- I mean, press conference and they spoke, both of them, in our favor.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

AI: When you talked to some of the legislators in Washington, D.C., what was their response to you? What was their reaction?

AS: You know, like we had a breakfast with some of the congress-, congressmen, congresswomen, and I think there were about fifteen of them, somewhere around fifteen, eighteen. And when I... well, Patsy Mink already knew my story, because we talked before, but Anna Eshoo, when she's told my story she says, "What?" She says, "I can't believe we did that to you." She said, "Really? It really happened? You got drafted in the army?" I says, "Yeah." "I can't believe that happened," she said. And this is, I think it was either Monday or Tuesday breakfast, by Thursday at noon, Patsy Mink and her -- oh, and then she said, "Hey Patsy," she said, "We have to help these people." And so then by Thursday noon, Patsy Mink and Anna Eshoo had written a letter to Clinton, President Clinton. And they had forty signatures already. And I think before this ended they had, they must've had about eighty or close to a hundred signatures. But then nothing came out of that.

AI: So even though you were able to get the congresspeople to listen to you, some of them were very supportive of you and willing to sign on to this letter, but it still didn't result in a... in actual equal redress for you.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: So then, I think there was, on the Mochizuki case, then there was quite a bit of discussion about what to do, whether to accept the settlement offer from the U.S. government, or to continue, continue with the case and go to trial. And, tell me what you were thinking as this discussion went on of, to settle with the -- government was only offering, what?

AS: Five thousand, plus a little apology. And, well, five thousand is only a fourth of what Japanese Americans received and, in fact, we, when, may have had a harder case than theirs. And even the apology letter, you know, it doesn't say anything about taking us from Peru or even being a Peruvian Japanese or anything. So then, some of the people decided to accept the five thousand and the apology but seventeen of us opted out of it. And then we decided to sue the government for equal justice. But, I think this year, or last year, our case was dismissed. So then our lawyer said that, he said that we're going to the Supreme Court. He said we should go to the, to the international arena. So, she decided to, Karen Parker, our lawyer from San Francisco, decided to put our case in the Organization for American States. So that's, that's where it is now.

AI: And what do you think the next steps will be, or you're waiting to hear --

AS: We have to wait. Yeah, we have to, well, we just heard that, in fact, couple of weeks ago we just heard that a letter from them that they received our, our case. True, we don't know what's gonna happen.

AI: And have you also been trying to get some support through the United Nations for some comment on your case?

AS: Yeah, this month.

AI: That, right, through the Organization for the American States. Wow. So the, so you're involved in this international effort and then also, two of your brothers are also involved?

AS: Uh-huh, we all are in the same, we're with the same lawyer and it's the same case. We have the same number, so...

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

AI: Well, some people might be wondering, after all of this discouragement, that first you were denied by the Office of Redress Administration, and then you went -- denied several times. And then you went through the Mochizuki case and were not satisfied with that settlement and you opted out of that. Then you brought your own case, and that one was dismissed. Some people might wonder, why do you keep on trying? Why, what's keeping you going and pursuing this? That somebody else might have given up by now.

AS: I don't know why. I guess most, more than us, I guess we wanna do this for our parents, to, to have the justice done right. This has been so many injustice, you know, discriminated so many different times.

AI: So, the idea of achieving justice is still very important?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: No matter how long it's been?

AS: Take, right.

AI: Tell me, what do some of your other family members think of this, and that you're still working toward this? Or, and your children?

AS: Well, my children think I'm doing the right thing by fighting for it. And my brothers think the same way.

AI: Tell me, how did your children finally hear about your whole story? Because as you said, when they were little it didn't really come up.

AS: It really started with the Day of Remembrance and getting appeal, I mean, getting a denial from the redress movement. That's, that's when they first started asking questions and getting involved in it.

AI: And so now they're, they're very supportive.

AS: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

AI: Well, this was, this has been a long journey and a long effort. And in the last few years, some things have again changed for the United States, and internationally because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. And I'm wondering, when you heard that news, how did that affect you? What went through your head?

AS: Well, you know, in, I think in February of 2002 we were supposed to have a Senate hearing because Senator Inouye is backing Congressman Bacerra's case. In fact, he sent a same bill to the, to the, from the Senate side. So, so, so we were supposed to have a hearing, but then 9/11 happened and everything's postponed. That's when that happened, I said, "Uh-oh. Here we go again." So that's exactly what happened, everything, everything's been delayed, postponed, whatever.

AI: So, and then, of course, after that, not only was your bill postponed and the work on that case was postponed, but in the meantime, the whole atmosphere in the United States shifted.

AS: Changed, yeah. I think that's the reason we got dismissed.

AI: And then also, there has been, some people have really commented on the backlash, especially against Arab Americans or Muslim Americans. But in some ways, some people have commented about more a negative attitude toward immigrants in general to the United States. Is that something that you've noticed or that you've thought about since then?

AS: Yeah, like, like putting, the FBI going to the, to the Muslim community and going through their house and checking them. And so I was thinking, "Oh, here we go again," that the government never learns. Same thing's gonna happen. You know, it is happening.

AI: Were you surprised?

AS: At first, yes. But now that it's been a while, I'm not surprised now that the government can do anything during wartime. [Pauses] Although, this is not actually a war, though.

AI: Yes, it's a different situation than in World War II when there was an actual declaration of war and a different kind of situation.

AS: Because still, it's still happening.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

AI: Well, going backwards a little bit, back a little farther in time, something else that happened, in the midst of all this, all your work toward justice, another thing that happened for you personally is that you went to Japan.

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And you and Betty went in the mid-1980s.

AS: '84.

AI: '84. And I wanted to ask you a little bit about that because, had you ever been to Japan before?

AS: No.

AI: Never. So this was your first trip?

AS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so tell me about that trip. Where did you go and what was that like for you?

AS: Well, the first two weeks, well actually, we signed up in San Francisco but actually the tour originated in Tokyo. So people from different parts of the country went to Tokyo and that's how, that's where we got together. And I think there were twenty-two or twenty-four of us, and only six of 'em were Japanese Americans, and the rest of 'em were all hakujins. And I didn't know this at the time, but afterwards I found out that to go to Japan it's better to go with hakujins because they say if you're all Niseis they don't treat you as good. Because Nisei don't complain, hakujins do, so, so they get treated a little better. That's what they say, I don't know for sure. So then the first two weeks that originated in Tokyo, and the first week, the first two weeks we went to Ura Nihon Tour and, and that must be, that must have been one of the first ones because whenever we got off the bus and we went wherever, the bus driver used to go with us. And in Japan they always have a man and young girl tour guides. And that girl used to tag along, too. So I was wondering, "How come?" And so the bus driver said, oh, he, they'd never been on that side before. And he said that that's the first time that he was gonna stand with the tour for the whole two weeks. So usually it's only three or four days and then they would go back and somebody else, I mean, go on a different tour. Very seldom you go two-and-a-half -- I mean, two weeks' tour all in one time. And so, so that's what happened. So Ura Nihon Tour for two weeks and then we, we came back to, although the tour started in Tokyo, it ended in Kyoto.

AI: Oh.

AS: And at that time it worked out for us because Betty had a niece in Kyoto. So then she met us there in Kyoto when we, when we got back. And we stayed with her for a few days.

AI: So what was that like when, for you to be in Japan for the first time, and be among all these Japanese people and seeing all these sights?

AS: Oh, it was nice, eating all the Japanese food every day. That was really nice.

AI: Even though you'd never been there before, did it seem kind of familiar, or was it foreign to you?

AS: It was, it was kinda foreign because, because Ura Nihon is no big city there. If you go on the west -- I mean on the Pacific side it's all big cities and just like the States, except the signs are in Japanese. But back there, it's in the country mostly, so it's kind of different. Sometimes you, even when they speak, they have little bit different dialects, so, so it's kinda unusual.

AI: A little harder to understand them?

AS: Yeah.

AI: So then you came to Kyoto?

AS: Kyoto, and then we spent some time with Betty's niece. And then from there we went to Osaka. And Osaka, Betty had a cousin, cousin in Osaka, so we stayed there for, I don't know, four days or so. And then from there we went to Okayama. That's where Betty's parents are from. And she had another cousin there. So we stayed with them for, for a few weeks -- I mean, not a few weeks, a few days. And there they treated us real good. I mean, exceptionally, because they had a younger, younger people there that spoke a little English. The other places we had to speak nothing but Japanese, except the niece, the niece in (Kyoto). She's from the States, so, so we were able to communicate in English there. But in Okayama they didn't speak English and even the younger ones, they spoke a little bit English, but there, see, the year before, the year before we went or two years before we went, Betty's parents went to Japan. And, well, actually they were gonna go before that but the Gulf War broke out so, so they postponed it. And by the time they were ready to go -- well, actually before, even the sister or one of the brothers were gonna go with them. But when they decided to go, they couldn't go. And, and my son was, he wasn't going to school at that time. So I said to him, so we said to him, "How about tagging along with grandma and grandpa to Japan?" And he says, "Why would I wanna do that?" He says, "I cannot, I don't speak Japanese." And he said, "And they're gonna be talking to themselves and I'm gonna be sitting in the corner" -- [laughs] -- "and not understanding them and things like that." Well, I said, "Well, they're both eighty and they're getting kind of old and we should send somebody young with them." And then, so, we said, "Well, think about it." And couple days later he says, "Okay." Said, "I'll go." So he went and he had a good time because over there, the younger ones wanted to practice English, so they were, you know, all this, and then the cousins, too, they, they treating him real good because he says in Japan now, even the younger ones don't take care of their older, you know, the old folks like that. And he says, and you come, then they're really, really treated him real good, all that. So when we went and they said, "Oh, you're Brian's dad," they said, so they making a big thing out of it. [Laughs]

AI: Oh.

AS: So then from there we went to, we went to Osaka. And there, Betty has another cousin there. And this cousin's son-in-law, he came to Stanford. He worked for Hitachi. And Hitachi sent him to Stanford because he's in the research department. And so, while he was in Stanford he, he visited us a few times and then even, even afterwards when he went back to Japan and Hitachi used to send him to San Jose, because San Jose has Hitachi things. And so, so, then every time he came, since he knew his way around, we just let him have one of the cars and he would come and... he usually stayed there for a week or so. So he would call me and have dinner with us a couple times. But, plus, he has other friends and he used to spend time with the professor who was there and things like that. So actually, we just let him have the car and he's on his own. So then, there, too, they said, "Oh, you took care of my son-in-law real good," and all that so we got big treatment there, too. And then, from there we went to Fukuoka, my side of the family. Oh, no, no, first we went to Nagasaki. Nagasaki we looked around there and then we went to Fukuoka, to my side, and there, my cousins, they're, two of 'em are doctors, and one is a schoolteacher. So the schoolteacher spoke English but the rest of 'em all Japanese.

AI: How was that for you to communicate in Japanese?

AS: So --

AI: 'Cause you...

AS: But then, you know, since I went to Japanese school in camp, now my Japanese was a little better. But then, I, I, after camp I didn't use it much, right? In Seabrook or even here in San Jose. Once in a while we'd get a Japanese national and we might use it. And with Betty's parents, especially the mother, I was speaking Japanese to her. So then, since I was using Japanese all the time back there, my Japanese started getting better. I mean, not better, but it used to come out better. It was up here, but you, since you don't use it you get kinda rusty. So then I came back, I came back to San Jose. And I have a neighbor, a Japanese national. And then, so he asked, so she said, "Oh, you're back." She says, "How was Japan?" Oh, blah, blah, blah, this and that. And she says, "Gee," she says, "you've been in Japan for five and a half weeks," she said, "You sure learned a lot of Japanese." And I said, "Oh, no, no, no, no." I says, "Because I was forced to use it every day for five weeks," I said, "now Japanese come out easier." She says, she said, "Oh, that's what happened?" [Laughs]

AI: So, eventually it all, it came back to you and...

AS: Yeah, so it was a lot easier to use it. Just like the time I went to Spain. First couple days I was having problems, but it came back a little bit at a time.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

AI: Well, so when, as you were in Japan, then how, I'm curious about, you know, after all these years in the U.S., and you had become a U.S. citizen, and pretty much treated as a, as a U.S citizen, but going to Japan, did that, did you feel Japanese, or did it make you feel more American, or how, maybe that didn't occur to you? I'm just wondering, did it go through your mind at all?

AS: No.

AI: Not really. And did people in Japan pretty much treat you as a Nisei, American Nisei?

AS: Oh yeah. Because, because of the accent, because I still don't speak like a native, I mean, Japanese national.

AI: So, a Japanese national, when they hear you speaking Japanese, to them it sounds like you have an American accent? Is that how it...

AS: Well, not so much accent, but I don't, I don't use the big words, so right away they know. Like, like watching, when I watch the news in Japanese, I can't follow it. You know, it's too hard. Because they use too many big words, so the same thing when I speak, I don't, I don't use those words so right away they know I'm not a Japanese national.

AI: Well, it sounds like that was a really amazing trip for you and Betty.

AS: Oh, it was, yeah.

AI: And to, and to also be able to go to Fukuoka where your family was from.

AS: Japan is kinda funny, you know. Like when I went to Fukuoka and my cousin took us to this place where the cemetery was and all this and different places, and then he says to me, "You like unagi?" Unagi, you know, was eel. And I said, "Oh yeah." He says, "Oh," he says, "we'll go eat lunch there, there's a good place." So then we went over there and we ate unagi and sure enough, that place, the unagi is really good, you know. And so then we went back to, to Fukuoka city, where the other cousin, the other cousins are. And so he dropped us off at this doctor's home and we, down there, and then she, he said he had to go because he had to work next day at school, and he has some things to do. So then, so then the other cousin says, the wife of the, the doctor, says, "What did you guys have for, where did you go to lunch?" We said, "Oh, we went to this place where there's unagi." And he says, "Oh," he said, "That's really good." He says, "We can't even get it here." He says, "You, if you, if I want that unagi," he says, "I have to go over there and eat it." [Laughs]

AI: So something really special.

AS: Yeah, you know, it's not that far from there. And yet, he says that's the only place you can get it. It's funny in Japan.

AI: It is. That's right.

AS: Oh, like you go on the train, you go to, say like this ken is famous for a certain thing. Then you leave that ken and go to the next one, you can't buy that stuff anymore, even on the train.

AI: Right.

AS: So, I couldn't believe that.

AI: It's a different kind of set-up.

AS: Yes. Oh, that's another thing, the bullet train, amazing. You know, like, like when we, when we left Okayama it was pretty close to lunchtime, but we had a schedule on the train, the train schedule. So then we got on the, we went to the station and then Betty's cousin bought us bento. So then we get the bento, and then on the train we order tea. And they give you a bottle of tea and then you can pour in the cup. The cup was only, maybe like that, like, like those sake glasses, that size. So I pour that thing and put it on the window sill on the bullet train. And the bullet train started moving and got it up to whatever it is, hundred and fifty miles an hour, whatever, didn't even drop a single drop. That's how smooth that shinkansen is. I said, "Wow," I couldn't believe it. [Laughs] Like here... [pantomimes rough motion of train]

AI: That is really something.

AS: Yeah. I was really impressed by that.

AI: Were there other things that kind of stood out in your mind about Japan?

AS: Well, we were on the bottom of Fujisan. And that day it was so clear, no clouds, real clear. And then that evening it got kind of, although we missed that thing. Our friend said that they were out there and it turned red, you know, the sky turned red and it was really pretty. But, then later we found out that very seldom Fujisan has a, doesn't have a sky -- I mean, clouds. See, most of the time you can't even see the top.

AI: Wow, so you were lucky.

AS: Yeah, we were really lucky.

AI: An unusual day.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

AI: Well, gosh, you have told us so many things about your life and all the things that you've gone through from the time you were a kid, through the war years and afterwards, and going to the service, coming back. You got your citizenship, moved to California, and then went through all these legal battles which you're still continuing now. When you're looking back on it and you think about people who are young now, does anything come to mind, some thoughts that you'd like to share with people or things that you wish young people would think about or keep in mind or work on, lessons that you'd like to pass on to the younger generations?

AS: [Pauses] You just have to fight for the, for whatever you believe in. And the government are not always right. They make mistakes. So, you know, you have to try and correct that. Like in our case, they still, we still get deny, although, although we're right. I think we're right, trying to fight it.

AI: Is there anything else that we haven't talked about that you wanted to bring up, anything at all that you'd like to mention, or that you'd like to comment on?

AS: I don't think so.

AI: Well, thanks very much, Art, for sharing all this with us. We really appreciate it.

AS: Thank you for...

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.