Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Emery Brooks Andrews Interview
Narrator: Emery Brooks Andrews
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 24, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-aemery-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is March 24, 2004 and we're in the studios of Densho, of the Densho offices. On camera is Dana Hoshide and then I'm Tom Ikeda, and I'm the interviewer. And so, Brooks, why don't we get started by asking the question where and when were you born?

EBA: I was born just not too far from here, from the Densho house -- or the building here -- at Providence Hospital. I was born November 14, 1937 on a cold and snowy night at one a.m. in the morning.

TI: And so what was the name you were given when you were born?

EBA: My full name is Emery Brooks Andrews. Emery was, is my dad's first name and Emery is also my grandma's maiden name, so that's a name that has been passed on. My dad's, it'd be my dad's mother's maiden name. So that's a name that's been passed on for, for a couple generations or more. In fact, it still goes on because I named one of my granddaughters Emery, or her mother did. I didn't name her, but, so that name Emery continues on.

TI: So the Emery name, where did that come from in terms of country of origin?

EBA: As far back as I can find at this point, it goes back to England. But that's about as far as I know at this point.

TI: And do you recall how many generations your family was from England in terms of...

EBA: I think about three or four generations from England. I mean, what I've documented so far goes back to mid-1800s in England and I'm not sure about another one, maybe early 1800s in England. But beyond that, I'm not, I can't... I don't know for sure.

TI: Interesting. Let's go back to when you were born. At that point, what were the, your siblings, I mean, talk about that a little bit in terms of who was around when you were born, in terms of siblings.

EBA: One more comment about my name, the name Brooks is what, is the name that I go by and Brooks was my mother's maiden name. And that goes back to somewhere in England and Scotland also.

TI: So that's interesting. So Emery was your grandmother's maiden name and then Brooks was your mother's maiden name.

EBA: Mother's maiden name. Right, exactly.

TI: Okay.

EBA: So I have all surnames, I guess. I'm sorry, your other question?

TI: Oh, it was just about your siblings. And so, at the point you were born, why don't you talk about the family. What did the family look like when you came into this world?

EBA: Okay. Well, I have, I did at that time have three older sisters. My oldest sister, Melverna, was born in 1919 and so she was a lot older than I was. And then my other two sisters, Betty Jean, who is the middle sister, and Arleen is the younger sister. And Arleen is the only surviving member of my family now besides myself. And Betty Jean was born in 1927 and Arleen was born in 1929, I think it was.

TI: Okay. So that's a pretty wide range --

EBA: Yes, and then I was born --

TI: -- from 1919 to 1937.

EBA: Yeah, yeah. And my mother was forty-two when I was born. So I'm sure I was a, maybe something of a surprise. But it's interesting, it was a huge, it was a big deal in the Japanese community, especially the Japanese Baptist Church, to have a son born to us. And so I was a kind of a star of some magnitude in the Japanese Baptist Church.

TI: Talk about that. So when you were born, because, so your father had, and mother had three daughters, and then you came along. So what was the commotion? I mean, so people were really excited? They...

EBA: They were excited, I think -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- but I think boys are a big deal in Japanese family. And after having three girls in the family, to have this surprise boy come along, I think stirred the imagination of Japanese Baptist Church and thought, this is really great, someone to carry on the family name, someone to follow in dad's footsteps or however that might fall out down the road.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Let's talk about your mother. What was her name and where and when was she born?

EBA: Mother was born in 1895 in... I have to think about it... in Ohio, in Boone -- I'm sorry, Boone, Iowa; she was born in Boone, Iowa. And she had a, she actually had a middle name but she never liked to use it. I think she didn't like that name. Her middle name was Magdalene. So it was Mary Magdalene Brooks. And she never liked that. And after I came along, all the years that I've, was with her, she never used that name or even made a reference to it. She would always sign her name as Mary B. Andrews, the "B" for Brooks. But she never used that middle name.

TI: Did you ever ask her why? Or do you have a sense why?

EBA: Well, you know, I didn't discover this until a few years after she died. And so it was, it was a surprise to me.

TI: Do you, knowing your mom, or what you know of your mom, do you have a sense why she didn't use that?

EBA: You know, the only -- and maybe this is really stretching it, or reaching too far -- but in the scriptures Mary Magdalene had the reputation of a prostitute. And so, maybe she connected that name with the scriptures and didn't want that as part of her name. Otherwise, I have no idea. [Laughs]

TI: That's interesting. So, okay, 1895, Boone, Iowa, and then, how about your father, your father's name and when and where was he born?

EBA: Right. His name, his full name is Emery Eggleston Andrews. Eggleston is another family name that goes back to England. I'm not sure how far back that goes. He was born in Albion, Nebraska. And in reading some of his papers and so forth, when he was two years old they moved out to California. And I don't know what precipitated that move but they were farmers and maybe they thought California was the golden state and they would make their stake there. But...

TI: So he was born in 1894, so two, so this is like 1896 around, he goes to --

EBA: Right, exactly.

TI: -- to a farm in California.

EBA: Right, exactly.

TI: And then, so how did he get involved with the Baptist Church?

EBA: You know, when he was in California he went to Berkeley Baptist Divinity School. And he just, as part of his studies, I assume, he started working with minority groups, Chinese, and the Hispanic in California. And it was, I assume, just a call upon his heart to do that, to work with minorities. And so that's what he did.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: And so how did your mother and father meet?

EBA: As far as, as best I can determine, they met in Modesto, California, where the farm was that the family had moved to. And they met at the First Baptist Church in Modesto. And that's about all I know about how they met.

TI: At that point was your father involved with the church, or was this...

EBA: He was, yeah, very much involved with the church. He had been ordained by the church as a pastor at that time and so I assume, I know my mother has a heritage of faith that goes way back and so I assume she was a participating member of the church there and made that connection there.

TI: And also, when you say history, so she was also Baptist in terms of that background?

EBA: Yeah. From what I see in my lineage and my heritage, we come from a long line of Baptists.

TI: Because at this point, your mother actually lived in the state of Washington, didn't she, at this point? Her family?

EBA: Well, to be honest with you, I'm not sure what the connection is or the transition is from California to Washington, because they were married in 1917 in Orting, Washington. And I know that my mother's side, there was some family up in this area, in the Puyallup and Orting area. Now, what, why they moved up here to be married, I have no idea.

TI: Okay, that's, I was curious. But they did move up here?

EBA: Yes.

TI: And well, he, while, when they came to Seattle, what did they do?

EBA: Well, he came, when they came up here, he enrolled at the University of Washington and took two, actually two BA degrees in education and sociology. And he continued, after he moved up here, to work in the minorities, again in, in the International District with the Chinese and Japanese. And out of that came a call to be the, the Nisei pastor at Japanese Baptist Church.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, before we get there, I'm curious; is it common for a pastor to have so much education? I mean, you mentioned going to University of Washington and getting a degree in sociology, and then later on, I think he even got a teaching diploma.

EBA: Right.

TI: And things like that.

EBA: Yes.

TI: Is that a pretty common occurrence?

EBA: Nowadays it is. Back in those days, probably rather unusual to have that much education. If you were gonna be a preacher, usually it was, if you're gonna be a pastor or preacher, you have the call of God on your heart and you went out and started preaching. But he did have a lot of education, which I assume was unusual for that time.

TI: So he had the education and also the focus on minority groups.

EBA: Yes.

TI: Earlier the Hispanics --

EBA: Exactly

TI: -- and then later on Chinese and Japanese. I mean, was that common or how was that, would that be perceived back then?

EBA: Probably would be perceived as somewhat unusual. 'Cause if you've gone to seminary and you have other education that you would assume, because you're Caucasian, you would just go into a Caucasian church setting of some sort. So I'm sure it was very unusual for him to, for anyone at that time to, to be involved with the Asians, especially with the, the feelings toward minorities in those days, such as the Chinese and the Japanese. I'm sure... it was very much a prejudiced time, era, in the U.S.

TI: And I would imagine, because of your father and mother's sort of background with the church, his education, that he had other opportunities available to him within the church, I mean, to perhaps get congregations that were perhaps more, perhaps thought of as more traditional, maybe, with more Caucasian or white congregation and do that. But he chose, actually, to work with minorities.

EBA: He did; he actually chose to do that. And again, all I can say is it probably was, he felt that's where God called him to, to minister.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So, let's talk about, so we're back in Seattle and we're just, you mentioned he got involved with the, sort of the Japanese American community.

EBA: Right.

TI: And so, about when was this? What year was this?

EBA: This was about 19... let's see, probably 1920, somewhere around there. Not too long after he moved up here and was married and so forth. The, it's, my understanding is that the Japanese Baptist Church was a church plant or a mission plant of First Baptist Church, downtown Seattle. And I think in those early days of the church, my father was part of the American Baptist Denomination Missions group. [Narr. note: At the time, the American Baptist Denomination Missions group was called the Northern Baptist Convention Home Missions. I misnamed it for that time period. The named was changed in later years.] And so he was probably more of a missionary at that point, early on, and then just evolved as being supported by the Japanese Baptist Church itself.

TI: So how does that work; when you say it's a mission church? So we have the First Baptist Church in Seattle.

EBA: Right.

TI: So that's like the main, the main church?

EBA: Yeah, it's the large, large Baptist church in Seattle. And through their mission outreach and so forth, they would go out into the community and find a place that there's a need and they would reach out to, to the minorities in that time.

TI: And so would they, would the Japanese Baptist Church, at that point, did they have their own building or did they, how did that work back then?

EBA: The Japanese Baptist Church started... early on it was, I think it was a house. It was on a, in a house, I think it was on Yesler, somewhere right in the International District. And I don't recall at this point the year that the present Japanese Baptist Church was built.

TI: But in terms of the organization, I was thinking, I was talking to Yosh Nakagawa, just a couple of years ago they celebrated their centennial recently, Japanese Baptist Church.

EBA: Yes, they did.

TI: So this is 2004, so it was about early 1900s, so like --

EBA: Early 1900s, yes.

TI: -- 1901, 1902 that the church was, was established.

EBA: Right.

TI: And then your dad came about, oh, mid-1920, so about twenty years later?

EBA: Yeah.

TI: Okay. And so you have the main First Baptist Church and then you have sort of a mission church, Japanese Baptist Church?

EBA: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. So what did your dad do in those early years when he first got started with the Japanese Baptist Church?

EBA: In those early years he was very active in the community, visitation, going out and visiting the families, encouraging them in their faith, finding out what their needs were, whether it be physical or spiritual, and work with them that way. And he would be preaching at the church and just everyday routine of a, what a pastor does.

TI: Now, I'm thinking about the, the year, so if we're in the 1920s, at that point, in terms of adults, they would be more the Issei, or the first generation.

EBA: Yes.

TI: The Niseis, a lot of them were actually born in that era of 1920s.

EBA: Right.

TI: And so they would, most of 'em would be quite young. So was he dealing more with the first generation, the Isseis, or with the Niseis? Do you have a sense of that?

EBA: I think, I know early on that he was heavily involved in the kindergarten, the younger children, would be the Nisei of those, of that time. And he, I'm sure he must've taught in the kindergarten school that we had at Japanese Baptist Church and at times drove the kindergarten bus, the small bus that would pick up the children. In fact, I have pictures of myself walking down the steps to my house on Fifteenth Avenue with my little lunch bucket in my hand and getting into the nursery school bus and going to nursery school.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So you attended nursery school with other Japanese Americans?

EBA: Oh, yeah, yeah. I was the only hakujin there. So...

TI: Now, how did that feel? So this is, again, before the war --

EBA: Yeah.

TI: -- you're going to nursery school. Did you, did you know that you were not Japanese, or did you know that there was a difference?

EBA: You know, I don't think it ever occurred to me. I'm, this is, this is the environment into which I was born. And even growing up in later years I never thought, "Oh there, you're Japanese and I'm Caucasian," or... it was just, it was just everyday life. There was nothing unusual about that. Of course, in the, it was, I was living, or we were living in a international community and so we had the African American, we had the Jews, and we had the Chinese and the Japanese so it never occurred to me that life should be any other way.

TI: Or how about the other way, did you ever feel like you were getting special treatment, because you weren't Japanese, from the other Japanese American sort of nursery school, or did they just see you as just one of the group?

EBA: No, I think they saw me as one of the group... other than that I was a boy born into this family that had three girls. [Laughs] I was special in that way, I guess.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So about this time when you were in nursery school, there's the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

EBA: Yes.

TI: Do you recall at all the news about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

EBA: I don't recall the news, but... and I don't know who the Japanese, or the Issei pastor was at that time, but after that news broke, he came to our house in tears and apologized to us for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Other than that, I don't have any recollection of news flashes or radio reports or anything like that.

TI: So who was the Issei pastor, do you remember?

EBA: You know, to be honest, I can't remember. I'd have to go back and look at some of the records. I don't know if it was Reverend Okazaki, maybe, I'm not sure.

TI: But this was on December 7th, he came?

EBA: Yes.

TI: And so he came and apologized to your father and mother, or the whole family?

EBA: To my father and mother, yeah.

TI: And what, when you saw that, what did you think? I mean, do you remember anything?

EBA: What does a young boy think at that age? I, I don't know. It's just a... I'm not, to be honest, I'm not sure what I thought at that time. But it's, to go back and think about what that must like, it must've been a very puzzling time. Here's this man who is in tears, which is unusual itself, because, you know, men don't cry. And, but, he was very apologetic about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And then a couple days later, my sister, Arleen, answered a knock on the door and two FBI men were there, standing at the door. And they were there to... they wanted to talk to my father. And we were immediately under suspicion as being sympathetic to the Japanese and that we might be subversive in some way.

TI: And how did that feel for the family? Did you have a sense of that?

EBA: I'm not sure it really dawned on us really what we're, what this prefigured or what this foreshadowed for us as a family in the short time after that. Certainly it was... I'm sure there was some anger in that because we know, we knew the Japanese. We knew these were our friends and just as there were differences between the Nazis and the Germans, there were differences between the Japanese in Japan and the Japanese in the United States. So it was probably a time of caution and wondering, "Okay, what's gonna happen now?" You know, looking at the unknown.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: And so as the weeks unfolded after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, what did happen at Japanese Baptist Church? What kinds of things were going on?

EBA: Well, shortly after that, the army trucks came and Executive Order 9066 was issued. Army trucks came and took the people from Bainbridge and Kent and all those other places and herded them down to "Camp Harmony," which is the Western Washington State Fairgrounds. It was --

TI: But I'm thinking in terms of like the congregation. So even before they went to Puyallup or "Camp Harmony," how did the church either support or prepare them for the trip in terms of... you know, people were only allowed to bring limited belongings.

EBA: Right, exactly.

TI: And so, were there things the church did to --

EBA: Well, it was, it was a time of rush, rush, scurrying around to... because they couldn't take much with them, except what they could carry, my dad -- there's a gymnasium in the basement of Japanese Baptist Church and Dad took some tape or paint and marked off ten foot square plots in the basement, or in the gymnasium there. And it was just scurry, scurry, everybody as much as you can store your goods here in the basement of the church. And I remember walking down the aisles of these, between these stacks. I mean, it seemed like the stacks went all the way up to the ceiling, and it's a high ceiling there. But from my little boy eyes it seemed like they just stretched up forever. So it was a time of scurry, scurry and try to save what, what we could in the basement there and...

TI: Do you ever recall any of the items that... can you recall any of the items that you saw in the gym?

EBA: I remember seeing furniture, lots of furniture. And I think steamer trunks full of who knows what, but just all kinds of things that you have in, as an everyday item in your home, couldn't take it with you so we stored it.

TI: Now, you mentioned your dad was the one sort of taping the gym, the floor of the gym for this.

EBA: Right.

TI: I was thinking, earlier you mentioned how there was an Issei pastor. I'm curious, was he still around during this time period? And the reason I ask is many, many of the Issei, sort of leaders, or the pastors were picked up by the FBI.

EBA: Right.

TI: And I was curious if you knew if this happened?

EBA: You know, to be honest, I don't know, Tom. I don't have any recollection of that.

TI: Okay. 'Cause I was wondering, in some ways, here your dad was young but he probably had to take a much stronger leadership role when this was all happening so I was just --

EBA: Yes, right.

TI: -- wondering if that was thrust upon him because the senior pastor had left, but that...

EBA: Yeah. To be honest, I don't know. Okay.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So we were talking about how many of the people, or really all the people, the Japanese Americans, left Seattle. About what time was that? When, do you recall the timeframe when the congregation had disappeared?

EBA: Yes. It was in the early months of 1942. And in fact, Mother's Day 1942 was the first Sunday that the church was completely empty. And I remember my dad saying that he went into the sanctuary of Japanese Baptist and sat in, up on the, in his pulpit chair and just envisioned in his mind the people that had been there in that, in those seats in the auditorium there, and the youth group and the nursery school and so forth. So it was a very empty time.

TI: Okay, that's good. Did, on like on a special day like Mother's Day, would he have had a special sermon or something and was he thinking about that?

EBA: I'm sure he would have had a special sermon, right. But he didn't get to preach it that Mother's Day Sunday.

TI: So with the congregation in Puyallup, how did he stay in touch with, or how did the family stay in touch with people in the congregation?

EBA: Well, we made, it seems like almost daily visits to "Camp Harmony" in Puyallup there. And, of course, we could not go into the camp at all. The only Caucasians allowed in the camp were the WRA people. And so we would just stand outside the barbed wire and just reach through the barbed wire and touch our people and shake hands or try to give hugs. And if we brought gifts they were immediately taken from us by the guards there and they would rip the gifts open to see what was inside, 'cause they were looking for weapons or whatever objects of subversion that one has. And so, I mean, they just took it from us and ripped 'em open and gave it back, and then we just had to hand it through the barbed wire. There was barbed wire all around. And it's interesting because "Camp Harmony," you know, our people are in some of cattle stalls and some other hastily built shelters down there, but to think that this, this place of joy and fun and entertainment was now a place of containment. And all the cattle stalls, I think of the cattle stalls that held the livestock, legitimate livestock, now were housing illegitimate human livestock, illegitimate in eyes of the nation and the world.

TI: And going back to those exchanges by the fence, were you, did you ever see some of your nursery schoolmates, or was it mostly the adults doing this? Do you recall?

EBA: I recall mainly adults. I think the children were probably kept wherever they were keeping them. I remember also standing on the bridge, there was a bridge over the railroad tracks down there. And I remember the trains lined up and watching the Japanese, our, you know, our people, boarding the trains and being taken to Minidoka and Poston and Tule Lake and wherever, however they were distributed. And it was... the scenes of the baggage, or the freight cars actually, not baggage cars but freight cars, the doors being opened and people throwing their bags and their suitcases and whatever they could carry with them into these, these freight cars. And seems to me there was no, no rhyme or reason as to how you would find your, your goods again once you were at, you arrived at the camp, but, because it seemed like you just, thrown in there. They must've been identified by some, in some way, but... and just, it was a, it was a time and a feeling of puzzlement and not really, you know, my five-year-old mind not understanding war to begin with, but then to see these people that we love and lived next door to, to be jerked out of their existence and thrown into a concentration camp environment. And -- [coughs] -- excuse me. When we were at the "Camp Harmony," one of my sisters -- I don't recall who it was -- but she started crying and she said, "Oh, my friends, my friends, they're all gone. I only have two friends left at home." And she said, "They're not Japanese." So, for this sister it was just a heart-wrenching, heart-rendering time of separation. And it was just an empty feeling of loss and grief and... I don't know what other words to explain it at this point.

TI: And when you were on the bridge looking down at the trains being loaded, do you recall who else was up there?

EBA: I recall my father was up there and my mother and my sisters, and beyond that I don't recall anyone else. I don't recall any conversation. We just stood there in a, in this blank, empty feeling of unbelief that this is happening.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So with the Japanese and Japanese Americans being removed from "Camp Harmony" in Puyallup, from there they pretty much went to Idaho.

EBA: Yes.

TI: The Hunt, Idaho, or Minidoka. At that point, what happened to your family? What was the next step for your family in terms of staying in touch with the congregation?

EBA: The next step for us was, my oldest sister stayed in, she was married then, she stayed in our house. She and her husband stayed in our house in Seattle. And we decided that since we have nothing left for us here as far as ministry and work at the Japanese Baptist Church, 'cause it was empty, that we would move to Twin Falls, which is just a few miles from Minidoka. So we moved to Twin Falls and rented a house there. And from the beginning, my dad and mom determined that we would use the houses as sort of a hostel for --

TI: Even before you go there, let's talk about the, just the trip over. I mean, just, if you can give me a sense of going from Seattle to Twin Falls. How far is that? I mean, how do you go, how did you go from Seattle to Twin Falls, and what was that like?

EBA: Well, it wasn't on I-90, that's for sure. [Laughs] I'm not sure what roads we took but it was a trip of about, at that time, about 850 miles, I think it was. And to me, it was sort of an adventure at that point. We were moving from Seattle, moving to another place and it was just some sense of adventure for me at that point.

TI: And so your family just loaded up your vehicle with your stuff and just started driving to Minidoka, or Twin Falls?

EBA: Right. And we must've traveled in a contraption that at that time we called the "Blue Box." It was an old Ford chassis, truck chassis with this big long box on the back of it and it was painted blue so we called it the Blue Box. Because my sister and her husband stayed in our house in Seattle, we didn't take any furniture with us but we took whatever else we would need there in Twin Falls, and Dad rented a house there.

TI: Do you recall, was there any discussion on whether or not to go to Twin Falls? Like from your mother, your other sisters, was there any discussion or was it just like, I mean, just to give a perspective, this was not a common occurrence.

EBA: No.

TI: And so I'm wondering, and in fact, I would classify it as an extraordinary move on the part of your family to do this. I mean, was there any discussion about, about this?

EBA: I don't recall any discussion about it, but I can imagine that it was just, we would just do it. I mean, that was the right thing to do, that we would go and continue the ministry there. Nothing had to be said about... I don't think there was much discussion about, "Well, should we or shouldn't we?" "Well, what do we do if we stay here?" But I think it was just assumed that we would follow them over there to Minidoka.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so let's go to Twin Falls.

EBA: Okay.

TI: And what was the reception of people? You said you rented a house in Twin Falls, so go ahead and why don't you talk about that?

EBA: Okay. Reception in Twin Falls was not, was not kindly. I mean, initially we were just another family moving to Twin Falls. And we rented a house on Second Avenue North. And it wasn't too long before people in the town got to know what we were about and to whom we were sympathetic. And one day, my father was in a cafe in downtown Twin Falls and he, as he entered the cafe, the cafe owner was there and he knew that my father was, and my family, were sympathetic to the Japanese. And he refused service to him and just tossed him out literally, bodily tossed him out of the cafe onto the street. I was not present at that time but that's, that's what I've heard from my father. And the house, the first house we lived in when we initially got to Twin Falls, the, was a rental, and the, this same cafe owner bought the house that we were living in and he forced us to move out of the house. So we moved across the street, to another house that we rented. And it was, you know, we were called "Jap lovers," and strange things would happen to the Blue Box, a flat tire or something that, you know, wasn't just a nail in the tread. And so there was some ostracism by people in Twin Falls and some neighbors and so forth.

TI: So when these incidents happened, being bodily thrown out of a cafe, having your first house, ordered out of your first house by the cafe owner, being called names, things like, things happening to the Blue Box, what reaction did your father have? Did he ever talk about these things?

EBA: I don't recall any direct conversation with my father about that. But I can, I know from just his actions, his actions spoke louder than his words that I ever recall. He would just continue to carry on with his ministry and not be deterred by bigotry and prejudice that he encountered. It made it difficult at times. Sometimes in buying gas or so forth, people would, would refuse service to him. And the other thing, too, that I think inflamed some of the people, the Caucasians in Twin Falls, was that, as I mentioned earlier, we determined that our house, houses were, would be a hostel for people coming and going from camp and so forth. And in, I think it was the April of, it must've been 1943. In one, in that one month of April we had 267 people coming and going in our house. And part of that, people were being brought into the camp and needed a place to stay until they got that straightened out or people that were being transferred or moved, maybe they were going back east or were working on the farms or somewhere in Twin Falls. But we did have three, I think, maybe three or four young men that stayed with us permanently in the second house and they had, their family was in camp in Minidoka, but they had jobs somewhere in the town there and so during the week they stayed with us, worked their jobs to support their families and they went back on the weekends, back into the camp again.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So this is interesting. So in addition, again, thinking about Twin Falls, of the town and what was going on, so there was your family, sympathetic to the Japanese, but in addition, your, your home also became a place where many Japanese Americans would not only visit but stay as a hostel. And also you had three or four young Japanese American men staying there working in Twin Falls. So it really became a center for, in some ways, the community, right in the middle of Twin Falls. What did the house look like? How large was the house? What, what was the characteristics of this place? Was it just in a regular neighborhood or what -- talk about that a little bit.

EBA: Well, first of all, I'm sure that all the people that were coming and going from our house, I'm sure we were thought of as the center of subversion in Twin Falls. But they tended to be larger houses with an upstairs, probably four bedrooms or five bedroom, I don't know how many bedrooms in some of these houses, but I remember they were being larger houses that would accommodate some permanent residents as well as our family. And the boys that stayed with us, they didn't have their own separate bedroom but they were, tended to be housed in, in maybe one bedroom and so the rest of the family, the rest of us could have our own living quarters also. So I'm sure it was the center of, of subversion to, in many eyes in Twin Falls.

TI: And you mentioned that in one month you had over two hundred visitors --

EBA: Yes.

TI: -- to this place?

EBA: Right.

TI: And so is that, over the course of the year, pretty common, people coming in and out and...

EBA: We had, see, my dad said that he, whether we had an average of, I think it was167 people each month transitioning in and out of our house, visiting, whatever reason they were there. It was just a constant state of coming and going in our house.

TI: And this was more than just the Japanese Baptist Church group. This was a much larger...

EBA: I mean, a much larger, yeah, Japanese community and I think there may have been a few Caucasians that were transitioning to maybe, to work in the camp or maybe teachers or something. But it wasn't necessarily just, no, it wasn't just Japanese Baptists. It was a ministry to the, all, the whole Japanese community at large. And so I'm sure we had Buddhists and Roman Catholics and so forth moving in and out of there.

TI: Because I'm trying to get a sense of the type of people. And earlier I interviewed Gordon Hirabayashi.

EBA: Yes.

TI: And one of his roles he played, he was actually at one point living, during the war, in Spokane but helping people relocate. So would he be kind of an example of the type of person that would probably come in and in working with people in Minidoka, perhaps stay with your parents? Is that the type of --

EBA: That's possible. Yes, right. But to, for some of the families that, or people that were able to leave the camp, apparently there was some sort of transition period where they could come and live or stay at the house while the paperwork is being done or whatever they needed to be, to have in hand in order to be legitimately outside the camp. It was kind of a safe house, I'm sure, for some people.

TI: Were there any, can you recall any incidents with your neighbors? As all this was going on, how did your neighbors react to all this?

EBA: Well, I did have my playmates among the Caucasian children in the neighborhood, two or three. But I remember one of my playmates, his father... I think he had been, at some point, in the, fighting in the war and was home again. I don't know if he was wounded or what, but I remember I got the feeling from him that it's okay to play with his son, but don't try to go beyond that as far as developing any relationship between him and my family. It was, I mean, even at school, at grade school, it was school as usual. But I remember some of the teachers, all female teachers, I remember they were, they had a sense of, of, that what we were doing was right and honorable. It wasn't that they were prejudiced in any way in their feeing toward me or to my family.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: For you, and so you went from a situation in, before the war in Seattle with, with Japanese playmates. And then you are in Twin Falls where your playmates are now Caucasian. Did that feel different to you?

EBA: I don't think it felt different to me because we would always go in the camps, every weekend, sometimes during the week, too. And so I had that interaction with my playmates there. It is just that I had Caucasian playmates here and my Japanese playmates were over here. But I don't, I didn't think of it as being that unusual.

TI: Did you notice, I mean, when you were with the different groups, did you play the same games? Did you notice anything different in terms of your playing?

EBA: No, we played the same games. It wasn't anything different in games or anything like that. [Laughs]

TI: So let's talk about, you mentioned going into camp. How often did your family visit Minidoka?

EBA: I'm sure my father was probably there almost every day, but we went, as a family we would go every weekend to the camp there. And I have vivid memories of driving up the road to the guardhouse, to the gate there and seeing the barbed wire fence all stretching, it seemed like for miles around the camp, and the guard towers, soldiers in the guard towers with guns and so forth, always pointing in toward the camp, never out, out. But it was similar to "Camp Harmony" in that we would always have to stop. I mean, they knew us. Every weekend we'd come there. They knew my dad. But we always had to stop at the guard gate there and they would ask why are we there, what are we gonna do today. They had to search through all our, any bags or gifts or anything that we brought and it was just, it was just a puzzling time. These people behind the barbed wire were no different than I except my skin was colored, was different, but that's about it. But it was, it was always... we couldn't do anything publicly, it seems like, without some scrutiny or searching or question about what we were doing.

TI: And so after you, and so I'm assuming it's your father, your mother, two of your sisters --

EBA: Two sisters and myself, right.

TI: -- and you. After you got past the guard station, then what would usually happen?

EBA: I usually, usually went with my mother 'cause she had her Japanese friends that she wanted to visit and most often whomever we visited, they had children and we knew each other so we just played together, unless it was one of those horribly muddy, rainy days where the mud stuck to your shoes and so forth, or if it was one of those blustery, dusty days or snow covered, ice cold days, we would play inside, but otherwise we'd play outside. And Dad, I'm sure he had his own schedule of people he wanted to see and just doing his work of ministry as best he could.

TI: And how about your sisters? What would they, what were they --

EBA: Oh, they had their friends, too. Yeah, they were always glad to see their friends in the camp there. It was, it was a fracturing time for everybody, I think, but we tried to live life as usual as much as, as best we could. And maybe we tended to ignore anything else, or deny anything else that was unusual.

TI: And were there, you know, during these visits, would you ever... what type of things would you bring to the people who were in camp? I mean, were there things that were brought or delivered for people?

EBA: Usually, oftentimes items of food. Sometimes if we had a request from someone in the camp to buy an article of clothing or something from a store in Twin Falls, then we could purchase that for them and bring that into the camp also. It's just daily needs of sustenance and maybe a little frivolous thing now and then to, to cheer us up.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: While you were in there, did you ever get to eat in the mess hall?

EBA: Oh, yes, yes.

TI: And how was, what was that like?

EBA: It was noisy and large as I recall, to me, anyway. But it was a, it was time in which the breakdown of the Japanese family began. Because when the dinner bell rang, wherever you were, you just went to the mess hall. And mostly you would gather with your friends and there wasn't so much the continuation of the family unit because everybody's in this huge hall. So you just sat where you wanted. You know, you sat with your friends, you sat with somebody over here, and that's, I think, the beginning of the fracture of the Japanese family.

TI: So an example being, I mean, you would be eating with other boys, your sisters would be eating with a group of girls.

EBA: With their friends, sure.

TI: Your mom might be eating with some other women...

EBA: Right, exactly.

TI: And so rather than having a family unit together and sharing a meal, it was much more fractured.

EBA: Right. And I say fractured not only for the Japanese family but for us, too, as a family, too, I think.


TI: Okay, so Brooks, let's, let's pick it back up. We're still in Idaho. We're at Minidoka, and we're talking about sort of visits to camp.

EBA: Right.

TI: And we just finished talking about how you sometimes shared meals in the mess hall, any other activities that you can recall while you were in camp besides visiting families, playing, eating, anything else that stood out in your mind?

EBA: This may be a minor thing, but I remember there was a swimming hole that, in the camp there. And that was a fun place to go in the summertime, to the swimming hole and sometimes picnics along the irrigation ditch there. And I remember one time in particular we were there with, having a picnic, and someone had put a watermelon in the water to cool and pretty soon it started floating down the irrigation canal so somebody had to go to retrieve it. And that's a minor thing, but those are fun things I remember about, about the camp.

TI: And having been, last summer I visited Minidoka, and when people say "irrigation canal," people don't realize it's a pretty fast-moving --

EBA: Yes, yeah.

TI: -- I'd say bigger than a stream. It's almost like a river.

EBA: Sure. It's not something you just hop across. It, you swim across it, Yeah. But I also remember just images and memories of the campsite itself. It was just sagebrush and wind and with the different seasons, snow and ice and dust and mud. Oh, the mud was just terrible. 'Cause, you didn't have any sidewalks, you had planks laying out and sometimes you step on a plank and it sinks down in the water, so it didn't do much good there.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: You know, your time in Twin Falls, did you spend much time just visiting other parts of Idaho and getting a sense of the community, of different things to look at? I mean, what was Twin Falls and that area like for you?

EBA: Well, Twin Falls was a small town. I do remember vividly of going to an area which I thought was a long ways away from Twin Falls, but since I've revisited a few years ago, it's just on the other side of the Snake River. But it was a place called Blue Lakes and it was just a pristine area of these series of lakes that were very, very beautiful and the setting was beautiful. We did, there's, well, near Sun Valley there's a Baptist camp, at least there was at that time. And we did, on occasion, go to this Baptist camp in the summertime for the, part of the Idaho Baptist Association or something like that, for a week-long camp. And many of our Japanese friends were there also. Now how, I assume they had some sort of permission to do that, to be there, but we had a great time at the camp there. And I remember playing with some of my friends and some of the adults playing badminton which was a favorite sport, something I liked in my later years, to play badminton. That was a great sport. My dad loved it, too.

TI: So was, what was the reception of the other Idaho Baptists, of not only your family but the Japanese?

EBA: It's hard to say. I think, my dad being -- probably the Caucasians in the Baptist denomination were receptive to my father simply because he was Caucasian. I'm not aware of any prejudice among other Baptists to the Japanese at that time.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: You know, I recall a story of, also your father taking many trips back and forth between Minidoka and Seattle --

EBA: Yes.

TI: -- to pick up belongings and just go back and forth.

EBA: Right.

TI: Do you recall, or can you tell, talk about that a little bit?

EBA: I think Dad made about.... what was it? 157 round trips, I think, between Twin Falls and Seattle. Most of the time he would be driving the Blue Box to, and before he left Twin Falls or Minidoka he had a long list of things that the people in the camp, if he could find them, to retrieve them, bring them back to them in the camp there. Sometimes he got to Seattle some other way, I assume by bus or some other way and he would sometimes drive a car back that belonged to someone in the camp there. So he, he was gone all the time. And part of that -- I should say a lot, anyway. But part of his trips he went back into the Midwest, Chicago area to, to visit some of the, our congregation that had moved back there rather than be relocated on the West Coast. He went down to Tule Lake, I know, I'm not sure how many other camps he went to but I know he went to Tule Lake, too. But it was always, not just, just on a whim to visit, but he had some business there or was checking on some of his congregation.

TI: So he sounds really busy. Because I imagine also there was the, the normal tasks of a minister in terms of things like weddings, funerals and things like that? Did, do you recall any of that happening?

EBA: I do recall weddings on occasion at the house, or one of the houses we stayed in. Most often it was a Nisei, 442nd Combat Team soldier who was home on leave, or maybe ready to be deployed in some area. I do recall vaguely something about some funerals in the camp. Oftentimes it was, again, a 442nd soldier that had been killed in combat.

TI: And while this was going on, did your father ever consider doing something else besides being at Minidoka?

EBA: Yes, when the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was formed, he was, he was, very much wanted to be the chaplain for this unit. And my understanding is that the hierarchy in the American Baptist -- actually it was, let me back up, it was called the Northern Baptist Convention at that time, later on to become the American Baptist Convention. But the Baptist Convention at that time denied that request and they said that he'd be better off to stay with his congregation and serve them there in Minidoka. But I know it was a real passion of his to go with the 442nd into combat and be their chaplain.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So your dad was there, really busy. You were there several years. What... and over time, more and more people were starting to resettle out of the camps. But for your family, what was it that brought an end to sort of being in Idaho for your family?

EBA: Well, actually it was the end of the war. I remember sitting on the -- it was summertime, of course, in August, and sitting on the front steps of, actually the third house that we lived in. The second house, we had to move again, but, so this third house that we occupied on Main Street. I remember sitting on the steps one hot Sunday, or one afternoon and I heard all these sirens go off all of a sudden, which was unusual to hear all these sirens. And so I had a question. I said, "Mother, what's going on?" And she said, "Well, the war is over." And so it was like, oh, okay, the war is over.

TI: And how did you feel about this, because at this point you were what, about nine or so, eight or nine?

EBA: Uh, let's see, I was probably, yeah, eight or nine, yeah, right, exactly. And at the time I didn't think, well, okay, the war's over. We live in Idaho now so I just kind of assumed that we would stay there. But I think, as I recall, we moved back to Seattle early in 1946. And we drove back. We stopped in Nampa, Idaho and visited some friends there and they gave us a cat. And so we named the cat Nampa. So we just went back to Seattle and I enrolled at Bailey Gatzert School and life went on. And I saw my friends again and it was a great time, I'm feeling good and...

TI: So did your father reopen Japanese Baptist Church right away?

EBA: No, he did not. Part of the Seattle Council of Churches, which was an interdenominational group of churches -- in fact, in his papers my dad has some resolutions from the, typed resolutions from the Seattle Council of Churches about the returning Japanese and coming back to the churches in the area. And it was their resolution, their, their hot button, their hobby horse, was to integrate the returning Japanese into the Caucasian churches. And my dad was very much against that. And so it, after we moved back to Seattle it wasn't until a year later that finally Japanese Baptist Church was opened again and filled with our parish.

TI: So this is interesting to me. So, so upon return, your father wanted to reopen Japanese Baptist Church right away, but the, this church council -- and so I'm guessing not only we had Japanese Baptist Church, but we had Blaine Methodist --

EBA: Uh-huh, right.

TI: -- which was primarily Japanese as well as Japanese Presbyterian.

EBA: Right, Japanese Episcopal, yeah.

TI: So did all of them not reopen during the same period?

EBA: To be very honest, Tom, I don't know if they --

TI: But there was probably a pressure for them not to --

EBA: Well, obviously there was, yeah, from the Seattle Council of Churches. I can only speak for Japanese Baptist. It was a year before we opened the church again.

TI: And their stance was, was, that it would be good if the Japanese, to probably better assimilate into the, back into society --

EBA: Right.

TI: -- to be integrated with, amongst the churches. So with that, why did your dad want to reopen Japanese Baptist Church and not perhaps assimilate the Japanese back into the Seattle? What was his thinking?

EBA: That's a good question. I can only speculate about why he did that. I think part of the integration issue was maybe to, maybe to, first of all, to show the Caucasian community that, that the Japanese are not a threat to community, that they can be just as Caucasian as anybody else in the community. But I think for my dad it was, I think he had a huge ownership. He took a huge ownership of the Japanese community and especially of Japanese Baptist Church. And for him it was important that, that this Japanese Baptist tradition continue and not be compromised or, by assimilation, 'cause it was a unique group. And maybe he had some thoughts about the 442nd and, and what a special unit they were and didn't want to lose that heritage and that line of Japanese Baptist history.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So, going back to that year then, the year that Japanese Baptist Church returned to Seattle, and that year when it wasn't reopened, what, what did your father do during that year?

EBA: Well, I'm sure he had his battles with the Seattle Council of Churches. And I'm sure he just continued to work in the community, and as best he could, in ministry to the families and so forth, the visitation and so forth. At that time, I think his support came from the Northern Baptist Mission, Missionary Society. And he was, at that time -- 'cause he didn't have a congregation that could support him and so his, his pay and his salary came from the Mission Board itself until that time, until which time Japanese Baptist could, could support him.

TI: And so did the family live back in the house in Seattle?

EBA: Yes, back, back, we're back to our original house, the house into which I was born into and grew up in. My oldest sister and her husband, who at that time, while we were gone, occupied the house, they had found their own house and moved out and established their own residence.

TI: Now, I'm curious. Before the, before the Japanese went to Puyallup, you talked about how the gymnasium was used as a storage place for belongings.

EBA: Yes.

TI: After the war when you were looking back, were those belongings still there? Were they preserved?

EBA: Most of it was still there. And probably it was a good, good thing the church maybe wasn't opened right away because we had to disseminate, people had to come back and get their belongings and so forth. And I'm sure part of that time, that year, was my dad helping them reestablish themselves. He helped with the truck farmers down in Kent valley and so forth to get their produce to the markets.

TI: Let's talk about that.

EBA: Okay.

TI: So explain...

EBA: When the, when the Japanese moved back to the Seattle area in, especially the farmers and so forth, by then Dave Beck was the union boss in this area. And --

TI: So he was head of the teamsters.

EBA: Teamsters union, yeah, right, exactly. Teamsters up until that time would, had taken the produce from the farms and brought it to the markets and Pike Place Market and other areas for sale. But after the war was over, there was a lot of prejudice among the teamsters and they refused to haul the produce from the Japanese farms into Seattle and so my dad spent a lot of time doing that himself, taking the, I'm not sure if it was in the Blue Box or if he had some other, maybe a farmer's truck that he used, but he trucked the produce in himself to the markets so the Japanese could sell them in the markets in Seattle or to the grocery stores or wherever they were. So it was, he was a man that wore a lot of hats.

TI: I would think of the activities your dad did, this one would be one that perhaps, I'm not sure if "dangerous" is the right word, but there would be some, some strong opposition --

EBA: Right.

TI: -- to sort of go against the teamsters and Dave Beck during this period. Do you know anything about that?

EBA: I really don't know anything about that. But I would imagine that there would be some opposition. Especially from the teamsters, 'cause they didn't want to do it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Were there other instances of, that you recalled, difficulties with your family and the Japanese coming back to Seattle, any examples of say discrimination that you can remember?

EBA: Well, if I can back up a little bit, I remember in Idaho my dad was, had two of the Japanese soldiers, 442nd boys with him in the vehicle. And he wanted to, needed some gas for the car. And he pulled into this gas station and he said that the attendant at the station just kind of hemmed and hawed and took his time coming out to pump the gas. And he came out and he looked inside and he said, "Are those Japs?" And he said, "They are Japanese American citizens in the U.S. army, fighting for your, for you." But he still would not pump any gas for my dad. Back to Seattle, I remember signs in different places, restaurants, you know, "No Japs allowed" and so forth. And I forgot, Tom, I'm sorry, I was gonna go somewhere with that. [Laughs]

TI: Well, there's another one that we mentioned, you mentioned earlier about a picnic --

EBA: Oh, I know, I know what it was. Yeah, we, one Sunday, I think it must've been after church or may have been a Saturday, we took a busload of our congregation out to, I think it was Cottage Lake. And at that time there was a private, privately owned resort there. And so we pulled up to the gate there and the man came out and he looked inside and saw all the Japanese citizens in there. And he refused us entry. We could not come in, because, simply because in his eyes, they were Japanese and they were the enemy, even though the war was over. So incidences like that.

TI: Do you recall how you felt when these things happened?

EBA: Well, I was disappointed, first of all because I wanted to go play in the lake. But also, it was, it was hurtful because these people were my friends. And I know who they were and how they are, that it was, there was no reason to refuse entry.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Let's go back, we had just, you had started talking about returning to Seattle and being enrolled at Bailey Gatzert.

EBA: Yes.

TI: Let's talk about that and what it felt like coming back to Seattle and going to school. So what was Bailey Gatzert like?

EBA: Bailey Gatzert, I have good memories of Bailey Gatzert. It doesn't exist today but -- in the original building, but it was like everything's back to normal again. Like the poet said, "God is in his Heaven and all is right with the world." And it was like, okay, we're back to everything being okay, my friends are here, we're going to school and Japanese friends are there and it was a great time. It was just like, like taking a deep breath and saying, "Oh, things are back to normal."

TI: So did it feel more comfortable there than back in Twin Falls, you went to, I think, I believe Lincoln Elementary School? I mean, did it, was there a difference? Could you feel a difference?

EBA: I could feel a difference because Lincoln Elementary in Twin Falls was, it was all Caucasian, and coming -- and, I had playmates at school but it wasn't like having my friends that I had here. And so coming back to Bailey Gatzert was, was a lot different. It was, it felt safe, it felt good, it felt like, okay, everything's back to normal again.

TI: How did people who were in Seattle during the war, how did they accept the Japanese and you coming back? Was there any... yeah, what was that like?

EBA: Well, because we left a multiracial community to begin with and Bailey Gatzert being a multiracial school, I don't have any recollection of resistance to us coming back. I know some of our Jewish friends and our African American friends were glad to see us back because those two groups themselves have suffered their own humility and disenfranchisement, so it was a welcome feeling.

TI: How about the faculty? Do you recall anything from your teachers about you coming back and...

EBA: I don't recall anything from them except that I was just a student here at Bailey Gatzert and the Japanese students were part of Bailey Gatzert before and will continue on to do so. I recall the students, all the faculty -- I mean, the faculty was, was tender toward us and welcoming.

TI: And how about life back at Japanese Baptist Church after that year when it was reopened? How did that feel and what was that like?

EBA: Again, it was a sense of coming home, coming back to security and what we've always known before and a sense of just continuing on again and picking up the pieces, putting everything back together as best we could and seeing what the next great adventure was going to be.

TI: Do you recall when the church reopened, any of your dad's sermons and did he talk about the return back to Seattle or what the Japanese had just gone through in any way?

EBA: Honestly, I don't have any recollection of any of his sermons in that regard.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So let's keep talking about, as you're growing up, going to, like junior high school, where did you go to junior high school?

EBA: Went to Washington Junior High, the original old wooden building of Washington Junior High. And by then we had made this transition from, we had some distance from the war years so it was an easier time to be there other than the angst of going to junior high. [Laughs] And again, my friends from Bailey Gatzert, we continued on to junior high and transitioned from there to Garfield High School, just continued that whole relationship. It was a time of secure, feeling secure in that relationship. We weren't being moved from here to there and so forth.

TI: So in terms of your friends in junior high school and high school, did you retain many of the friends that you had at a very young age, like Japanese Americans and, or... talk about that a little bit, about who your friends were.

EBA: Yeah, I had friends from Bailey Gatzert all the way up through junior high and high school at Garfield. Most of them were friends that attended Japanese Baptist Church, so we had this real tight-knit group of oh, there must've been six or eight of us that we played basketball together, were on teams together, we went hiking together all the time, Mt. Rainier in the summertime. And there was this, this real secure feeling of friendship and we never thought about each other being any difference in ethnicity or color or anything like that at all.

TI: How about being the son of the pastor at Japanese Baptist Church? Was there any additional pressure or anything because of that on you?

EBA: Well, there's always pressure for any child that's a preacher's kid, PKs, we call them, so there's always a sense, maybe a deeper, greater sense of behavior, decorum, especially being in the Japanese community, more so than being in a, maybe just a Caucasian community. And so it was a time of, you know, I was always the good son and so it was, I would hear comments. I'd, you know, well, "You shouldn't talk like that," or, "You shouldn't do that because your father's a minister," just, probably more typical stuff that any PK feels. But I think, to me there was a greater sense of, of decorum and maybe being careful not to dishonor my father because he was a huge figure in the Japanese community, not just the Japanese Baptist Church, but to the whole Japanese community.

TI: So how was that? I mean, the reason that I say that is I'm a parent. I have two teenagers and...

EBA: Yeah.

TI: And you know, in the high school, they're both in high school, and there's definitely a sense at that age where I see them wanting to really become their own person, and in some cases even rebelling around sort of the things that parents and the community want them to be. How was this for you during this period?

EBA: Well, I was very careful to be the good son. And thinking back, people have said, "Well, what, did you ever do anything bad or wrong or something like that?" And the only thing that I can really come up with is that I remember one time -- we loved, I loved to play with my friends in the church building itself. It was a great place to play, just hide-and-seek up and down the hallways and closets and classrooms and the dumbwaiter, even that went from the top floor down to the kitchen and the gymnasium. But one night we were up there playing and I got on the phone and I called a Chinese restaurant, I think it was Ruby Chow's at the time. And I ordered this Jap-, or Chinese meal, Chinese dinner. And then they would call a cab and they'd have the cab deliver the meal to the house. Well, I, so I called Ruby Chow's and ordered this Chinese meal and, of course, they asked for the address. They didn't ask for the phone number, they just asked for an address so I gave them, I just picked an address in the community out of the phone book and said this is the address. You know, nowadays the owners are more aware of things like that, but that's the, about the worst thing that I can remember in my childhood.

TI: So were you caught? I mean...

EBA: No, it wasn't caught, No, never caught. So I sneaked through that without any judgment, but I think back on it and think oh, man, that was a dumb thing to do, but just kid stuff. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Going through, I mean, was it clear to you the impact the impact that your father had on the Japanese community? I mean, he had, the things that he had done were pretty extraordinary. I mean, when you mentioned earlier that your dad was very prominent, what did that mean to you in terms of what he had been doing within the community?

EBA: Well, for me personally, it meant that I had to be careful how I carried myself and what I did. But it was easy to realize for me what an impact he had on the community because they, I mean, one time they bought him a new car. They had a big huge dinner, maybe it was at Nisei Veterans Hall. I can't remember where it was, no, at Olympic downtown, I guess it was. Yeah, I think it was called "To Andy With Love." It was just a recognition of my dad and all the work he had done and it was just a love feast, really. And the whole Japanese community was able to extend their love and so forth to him for all the work he had done. And then, in, I think it was 1976 it was, he received a decoration from the Emperor of Japan, the Fifth Order of the Sacred Treasure. And I have the medal in my possession today. But it was a very unusual honor because he was the, I think only the second Caucasian to ever receive this high honor. It was a very high honor. And so there's immense sense of pride in thinking about my father and the things he did, and so it wasn't hard to realize the impact that he had on the community.

TI: Yeah, I know there are many people in the community who, who think so highly of your family and in particular the things that your father did. During this period, when you thought about all the things your father did for the community, how did that impact the family in the sense of, were there times when your family had to do without because he was in some ways doing so much for the community? Can you talk a little bit about that?

EBA: Well, I remember, we were never destitute, but I remember my mother always had to work to help support the family. And Dad, for many years he was the custodian, also he tended the furnace at Japanese Baptist Church and so forth 'cause we couldn't afford to hire someone to do that. But I think because of his... well, let me say this. I think there were issues driving him behind his participation in the community. My mother and dad divorced in 1955 and I remember one time my dad telling me that he knew, not too long after they were married, that the marriage was not gonna work. And so I think in grief over his own failed marriage, he threw himself into, into the work of the community and so forth. And as a result, there, to be honest, there's an emotional, or there was an emotional estrangement between my father and me. There wasn't that emotional connection. It was, we never did anything one-on-one. We never -- well, from my mother either -- we never heard, "I love you," or any hugs like that. But it was, I knew my father loved me, but it was -- and this may seem odd -- but it seemed like he always spoke to me through the group, whether it be a group of scouts, a group of youth going to a picnic or something like that. And I don't know how I can explain what I'm saying by that, but rather than having the one-on-one intimacy of father/son, it was just from the fact of being included in these groups. He spoke to me in that way as "I love you," there's a relationship here. But is was a difficult, it was difficult time. And so my mother and my father were separate in the same house for as far back as I can remember. And that's, that's a story that is not unusual for anyone who has been a high profile person in any endeavor. And sometimes I think that we do things out of our own need if, out of the voids in our own lives. We fill that void in some other way. And I think my father had a huge amount of love and commitment to give, but it wasn't to his family, it was to the community.

TI: And do you think that was pretty well-understood by the other family members? Was that, or accepted, I mean, was that, or was it a source of friction and resentment, or was it more understood? How would you...

EBA: Yeah, it was a source of resentment to the rest of the family, except for my oldest sister. She is a lot older than the rest of us and she had gone on and picked up her own life and was on her own from early on. But it yes, honestly it's a source or was a source of friction within our family and my youngest sister, who is eight years older than I am, she has some, some resentments about my father and I knew about all of these things, but really was kind of in denial of these things until I engaged in them for myself in the last several years.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So, let's go back. You mentioned your parents were divorced in 1955?

EBA: Uh-huh.

TI: And that would be when you were in high school, at Garfield High School?

EBA: Right. I was a senior in high school at Garfield.

TI: So what was the impact on you at that point of your parents divorcing?

EBA: I... I think I, it was just something I compartmentalized and really didn't engage in at that time. I didn't, I was maybe in sort of a denial. And my father never hugged me, but I remember one night he came in, in the basement there, through an outside door. And any time there was friction or arguing between my mother and father I would always go down to the basement and play because I had this, this great model railroad set up down there. And, but one night I was down there playing and Dad came in and obviously he'd been crying. And he came over to me and told me that he and my mother were getting divorced and he hugged me, and he was crying and he said, "I'm so sorry." And it was an awkward moment for me because this is the first time my father ever hugged me to begin with, but the circumstances that surrounded that, that hug were totally opposite of what one would hope to have when one received a hug. And also, I think my father was putting me in the position of being the grief counselor at that point. And I don't recall any words I said to him. It was a very awkward moment, and then he left. So I went and continued on living with my mother in an apartment on north Capitol Hill.

TI: Did your mother ever share her feelings about (your) father or the divorce with you?

EBA: No, she didn't. She was very quiet about that. I think, I'm sure she must've, Tom, harbored a lot of anger and resentment. But being the minister's wife, those, you don't divorce, at least in those days. You didn't do that. And I think she held on as long as she could and got to the point where all of us were on our own and it was time to make that break. I, they are buried together in the same cemetery plot over on Sunset Hills, over in Bellevue. After Dad died he was buried over there, and then about four years later my mother died and she was cremated and that was her desire. And since I was the executor I remember talking at her service, funeral service, that I thought that in the last few years there was some sort of reconciliation or some sort of decent feeling between them, the two, that I said, we're just gonna put her ashes with my father's casket. So that's what we did.

TI: Well, after the divorce, you mentioned with your mother. What did your mother do in terms of employment or to support herself?

EBA: She worked in the sewing room at, as a seamstress, at Swedish Hospital. And she did that until she retired and couldn't do that anymore. And Dad continued in the Japanese community, officially retired in 1959. And then he was named Pastor Emeritus of Japanese Baptist Church at that time. Continued to work in the community, did a lot of teaching English to Japanese war brides and just continued to engage in community activities.

TI: Well, so during this period after the divorce, and your dad's still at Japanese Baptist Church, did you still attend Japanese Baptist Church or what did, where did you...

EBA: Not too long after the divorce I left Japanese Baptist Church and attended First Baptist Church. And by then I was in college and Japanese Baptist didn't have anything as far as I needed at that time for college ministry or even not many in the way of peer group were in college. And I found those things at First Baptist, so I went, I attended there.

TI: So during this period, how would you characterize your relationship with your father? So you graduated from Garfield and then went to Seattle Pacific College.

EBA: Right.

TI: You were attending First Baptist. Was there much communication with your father during this period?

EBA: There was communication but it wasn't really anything that was a deep personal relationship. But more the, it was more of a surface relationship, I mean, cordial, casual, but never engaging in even thinking about the past or even talking about the past or even talking about the divorce. It was just something we never, we never engaged in. And part of that was my fault because I was internalizing everything, so we just never talked about it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Well, during this period, in terms of your career, what were you thinking for yourself in terms of a career?

EBA: Well, at that time I was thinking of going into ministry myself. And so after graduation from Seattle Pacific College, my wife and I, at that time went down to Berkeley, California and I attended Berkeley Baptist Divinity School.

TI: And about what time period was this?

EBA: This was, let's see, we went down there in 1962.

TI: Okay.

EBA: I took five years or more to get through college, so... [laughs]

TI: Well, I did, too. [Laughs] But this was the same seminary that your father went to?

EBA: Yes, the same seminary where my father attended.

TI: Now, was there anything symbolic about that? Did you want to attend that one or, because your father had, or, why choose that one?

EBA: Probably because my dad was there, or had been there. And even thinking, re-thinking again that whole era of, regarding myself and did I have a call to ministry and did I feel, or was this something that I'm doing because my dad was a pastor? And some of it, I think, maybe could have been, you know, growing up I would hear phrases like, "Oh, you're just like your dad," or "You'd make your dad so proud if you were to go into the ministry." And so that was the track I was on at that time. And I didn't graduate from there, I pulled out about halfway through. And so I never did anything with that particular education until several years ago when I came on staff at a church.

TI: Well, during that period, so we're like mid-'60s when you decided to pull out. Did you ever have a conversation with your father about your decision not to continue the studies?

EBA: It's interesting that, well, first of all, I never heard from my dad saying, "Oh, I'm so proud that you're going to seminary," especially Berkeley Baptist Divinity School. When I withdrew... I had written him a letter before I withdrew and came back to Seattle. And probably that was the closest thing to an intimate conversation I ever had with my father, was writing that letter to him. And, 'cause I had some real doubts about if I was in the right place and on the right track and so forth. It is so strange, so weird, though, that he never, we never really talked about it much after that, or I don't recall any conversations after I moved back to Seattle about why I dropped out, or any disappointment that he may have had. I mean, it was really a strange relationship in the lack of intimacy in that. Cordial, casual, yeah, great, but not that intimate relationship.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.>

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So you came back to Seattle, what did you do then?

EBA: Well, I worked my way through college and when, and my time at seminary, I worked for United Parcel Service, drove a truck. And so I did that for a while when I came back and, but I always had an interest in boats, as far back as I can remember, boats. Even remembering when my dad, when I was a child, my dad had purchased these plans to build a rowboat. And I was so excited, we were gonna build this rowboat. Well, it never came to pass, we never even started. But I've always had an interest in boats, so I went back to Seattle Central Community College and entered their marine carpentry program. And I was attending the Gompers branch, Samuel Gompers branch up on Twenty-third and Jackson. And so I just started building boats, went, got --

TI: Is that the same place where the old Washington Middle School, Washington Junior High School, or close by, wasn't it?

EBA: It's close by, yeah, yeah.

TI: Nearby, okay.

EBA: But I started working in boatyards, building boats and I loved working with my hands and crafting, you know, the things. I was more of a finish carpenter than, than anything else, but it was a, it was a grand time of just engaging in what I thought I wanted to do.

TI: Okay, and so this was like late '60s, early '70s?

EBA: Yes, yes, late '60s, early '70s, into the late '70s. Yeah.

TI: I'm curious, in terms of during this period, from the late '60s, things like the Civil Rights movement and things like that, and given your sort of experiences with the Japanese American community through the war and then growing up, how you thought about the Civil Rights movement or what your, did you, what you were thinking during this period?

EBA: Well, I wasn't a demonstrator but my thoughts and my feelings were very much in the Civil Rights movement because it brought back memories of the Japanese incarceration and the loss of civil rights for them. And so I was very much intellectually for the Civil Rights movement at that time. I wasn't a demonstrator, but certainly went along with the civil rights rhetoric.

TI: Did you, during this period, ever stay in touch with your old Bailey Gatzert friends?

EBA: I had friends... yes, I had friends that we'd come through the school system with and these were friends mainly that were in Japanese Baptist Church. And although we had a larger community of friends, just in the community itself, in the central area community, and, in fact we still, on occasion, every once in a while get together and talk over old times and, or it's somebody's fiftieth birthday or sixtieth birthday or something like that and we just rehash it. And Yosh Nakagawa has been a real instigator in some of that stuff, too, 'cause he was my basketball coach when we were in the church basketball league. And he's a good one to rally the troops periodically.

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: So Brooks, I want to jump to 1976, which is a, which is a very difficult year for you. So why don't we talk about it, 'cause this was the year that your father died. But let's talk about 1976 --

EBA: Okay.

TI: -- and some of the things that went on in your life in '76.

EBA: Okay.1976, my wife and I at that time divorced. And it was also the year that my father died. And so there was a huge loss for me in both instances, personally and on a family level also, with my father. My dad was living in some, a triplex that he owned on Eighteenth Avenue, not far, about a block from Providence Hospital. And I was living in one of the units next to him. And one morning I heard a knock on my door and the occupants, the person at the door said that my dad had suffered a heart attack and they took him to the hospital during the night. Nobody told me about that until after the event happened, so he spent his last week of his life at Providence Hospital and since I was so close by, just every day walked to the hospital and spent some time in the hospital room with him. But because he had such serious heart damage and loss of oxygen to the brain, he really wasn't in any lucid frame of mind. And I spent every evening there with him. And one night I stayed all night with him, but knowing that he would not survive but a few days longer, I tried to engage in some sort of relationship, intimacy, on an intimate level with him. And of course, being in his state of mind that was difficult to do, but for me it was, it was a time in which I could talk to him about the things that we had done in the past. And when I say "we," we the scouts, we the youth group or something like that. But talking about those things with him, especially the hikes around Mt. Rainier and the time we spent there, that's been a rich experience for me but I know it was something that was a huge part of his life, too, and I would ask him questions, and, "Do you remember this?" and, "Do you remember that?" and he would give some sense of recognition of that. And so after spending about, I don't know, five, six days in the hospital there, I was there with him one evening after dinner, sitting by his bedside and I looked over at him and realized that, that he was dying. I mean, he just, his monitor flatlined and he took this one last gasp of breath and then he was, he was silent. There were no words or anything, no outburst of anything from him, but it was just this silent passing. And to me it was, I guess the first thing that entered my mind was what effect this would have on the Japanese community, knowing that this giant in the community is, is no more. I wasn't thinking so much about my own personal relationship with him, but it's strange, it went to the community and what a loss that was going to be in my mind to the community.

TI: At this point, was the community aware that he had had a heart attack and he was at Providence?

EBA: There was some awareness in the community, yes. I don't know how extensive it was. And Paul Nagano was the pastor at Japanese Baptist then. I remember I called him and told him.

TI: This is after the heart attack you called him?

EBA: After he died, after he died, yeah.

EBA: And I called Paul Nagano and told him and I remember his saying just this sigh of, "I'm so sorry." And, it makes me emotional now to think about that moment and, but it's, it was just a, now that I think about it, it's strange how my thoughts went to the loss for the community and not for myself.

TI: And then what happened next? I mean, what...

EBA: My dad had already written down things he would like to, or people that he would like to participate in his funeral. He had done this at some time in the past. And he had listed people he wanted in there, songs that he, or hymns that he wanted sung, and so it was a matter of sitting down with Paul Nagano and others in the church and in the community and planning this service, what it would look like.

TI: Because this really fell onto your shoulders? You were...

EBA: Yeah, I was the executor of his estate, and so it fell upon my shoulders to do that. And in talking with some of the board, I think, at Japanese Baptist we decided that we would have it at First Baptist Church simply because Japanese Baptist Church would not be large enough to hold a service that, of the magnitude of people that we thought would be there. And so we had it at First Baptist Church.


TI: Okay, so Brooks, we had just talked about, your father had died.

EBA: Uh-huh.

TI: And you were, you've talked with Reverend Nagano about some of the plans for the memorial service, and you just mentioned how there was a decision to do this at First Baptist.

EBA: Correct.

TI: Before the memorial service, I'm just curious, were there very many visits from people in the community that you received after your father's death? Just more, like personal visits, did you have any of those?

EBA: Yes, we had several people visit, visit our house, my house and it was either personal visit or it would be flowers. I mean, we had flowers everywhere, sent from florists on behalf of someone. So there was, there was that whole outpouring of love and support from the community, yes.

TI: Can you recall anything that you learned about your father that you didn't know before during this period?

EBA: I'm not sure I learned anything different, but it was reinforced to me from the things that people said, how much they loved my father, how much they did for him, or they would recall personal instances where, "Oh, you know, your father married me in Twin Falls," or, "Your father baptized me," and that type of thing. So it was just a big, big group hug. [Laughs]

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So, let's talk about the day of the service, and what was that like and why don't you just describe that?

EBA: The service was held at First Baptist Church and we decided that because there, we thought there'd be a huge attendance at that service. And the other reason was that back in Japanese Baptist Church early history, it was a mission church or a mission plant, church plant, however you want to term it, of First Baptist. They were the supporting group that got the church started. And so the night of the funeral service we, we started the funeral cortege, started from Japanese Baptist Church. It was the hearse and then family and a few of the leaders from Japanese Baptist Church. And so we drove, started there at Japanese Baptist, drove from Japanese Baptist to First Baptist Church. And we wanted to recognize that symbolic, that as a symbolic connection between the two churches.

TI: So how large was the procession, when you say you started? I mean, how many people were part of that?

EBA: It was, I think, maybe four or five cars. It was not a long procession because everyone else was gathering at First Baptist. And I was overwhelmed at the number of people that were at the service there. It just, I guess I never thought about anything that, well, it's gonna be a large service. But there were a little over a thousand people that attended the service that night and they were standing around the walls and, in some places. And it was open casket, kind of a traditional Japanese service in that regard. And we had the people that, I was able to reach those people on my father's list that he wanted to sing and the different numbers that he wanted sung and so forth. And then came the viewing of the casket itself, people would go up in front and pay their respects. And I was just amazed at the line of people that went up there. I mean, it just overwhelmed me. And for some reason, one of the scouts went up there, and when he went up there he saluted my father at his casket there. And for me -- I'm not sure why -- but that was a moment in which I almost broke, at that time, in grief. But I puzzled over what that connection was. Maybe it was, maybe it was for me a symbolic connection of my, whoever that scout was, that symbolically it was, I was the one standing there and recognizing my father and saluting him, but it was a strange, strange moment and I don't know how else to interpret that. And...

TI: Out of those thousand people there, did you, did you know many of them? Did you, was it sort of like --

EBA: I knew many of them. Some of them I recognized after they told me their name or something, but of course, lot of them I didn't. I mean, people came from all over the United States to attend the service.

TI: Was it predominantly Japanese American or was it mixed?

EBA: Predominantly Japanese American. There were some, as I recall, some Caucasians, I don't recall who the Caucasians were but apparently some Caucasians, maybe my father had some association with or had been touched by his service in the community. So I don't know who they were.

TI: Now, I'm curious. There's a tradition in the Japanese and Japanese American community at services like this, to, to give koden.

EBA: The koden, yes.

TI: Was that done with your father?

EBA: Yes it was. I was just amazed at the total amount of koden. It was, it was a little over five thousand dollars.

TI: And these were --

EBA: -- of koden.

TI: -- like just...

EBA: Just in envelopes. Some cash, checks, they were, I was forever opening the envelopes and some came in the mail later. It was a huge, huge thing.

TI: Now, was that expected from you? I was curious because I wasn't sure if your dad would receive --

EBA: Well, I was aware of koden because I'd been to Japanese funerals and I, you know, you give the envelope with the koden. But you know, I didn't, I didn't even think about koden in relation to my father at the service. And I, in thinking back, I thought, you know, I'm not sure the Japanese community perceived my father as being Caucasian. I mean, to them he was Japanese. And so the koden was, was what you did for the Japanese funeral. And to me, that was some signification that, man, he was accepted, and very much a Japanese as anyone else, 'cause that was his whole life.

TI: Anything else you recall from that day that kind of stands out?

EBA: Nothing comes to my mind at the moment.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: Let's now talk about your life after your father's death. I mean, what was that like now for you? This is, we're talking 1976 --

EBA: '6.

TI: -- so now we're talking post '76.

EBA: Well, that, my dad died on Memorial Day 1976, and from that moment on, the next four, three or four years was a lot of trauma in my life. First of all, I had already gone through a divorce, and then, see, Dad died in 1976, my oldest sister died in 1977, then I had a, my middle sister died in 1980... I'm sorry, no, '78. My mother died in 1980. And it was, it was a huge personal trauma that I went through at that time. In the meantime I also, in 1978, remarried. And so I've been married now to my wife for a little over twenty-five years.

TI: Brooks, before we go there, I just remembered, there's something I wanted to ask.

EBA: Okay.

TI: Did you mother attend your father's service?

EBA: She attended the graveside service. She was not -- by then she was in declining health and was in a nursing home, and she did not attend the service at Japanese Baptist Church but she did attend the graveside at Floral Hills -- or Sunset Hills, I'm sorry, Sunset Hills, over in Bellevue. It was, it was a strange moment to, to, I'm sure for a lot of people to see my mother there knowing the divorce and the estrangement and so forth. And I guess that's where I see her presence there as kind of a reconciliation effort on her part that things were okay and also just to recognize him and for his, what his work did to... And I can't imagine what her thoughts were that were going through her mind. I would imagine she'd be thinking a lot, of course, about her marriage, thinking a lot about the Minidoka years and that whole era, arena of service. But she never talked about it.

TI: At the burial service, how largely attended was that? Was that pretty intimate?

EBA: It was pretty well-attended. We, of course, not as large as First Baptist Church but there probably were somewhere around maybe a hundred people there.

TI: Okay, so, and before we go back to your, your marriage, in these last few years in your mother's life, were you able to ever have a discussion with her about, about, just between the two of you, an intimate discussion about, about the family?

EBA: Honestly, no. At that time I was a great internalizer and she never spoke of anything about her relationship and how she felt. She was a great internalizer, too. I'm sure she must've suffered terribly, not, not really letting loose of that inside of her.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: Okay, so let's go to '78 then.

EBA: Okay. 1978 I remarried and it was, by that time -- and again, speaking again of personally -- for me, it was a time where, in spite of all the trauma of those, 1976-'78 years, it was a time when I finally came to grips about feeling comfortable about who I was as a person. And by that time, I had come to the point where I was not going to be what I thought other people thought I should be. And I engaged in my own desires and so forth. And so it was a year of a time of trauma but it was also a time of really coming to grips with myself. And so we, my wife and I each brought three children to our marriage, so we had six children, and it was a, it's been a great, great ride together as a family because we blended as a family. It was a marriage, a relationship like I had never known before in my marriage. And part of that comes from maturity. But all our kids have never referred to each other as stepbrother, stepsister, and they always refer to each other as just brother and sister, and we have this great relationship. And I guess in a sense there's a redeeming of the past in this coming together of our families together. All the grief and brokenness of relationships in the past seem to be redeemed in this new venture here.

TI: How old were the children when, in '78 when you got married?

EBA: Um... my wife's children were younger. They were, when I first met them they were three and four years old, and eight years old. And then my children were ten, twelve and fourteen. So they were a little bit older, so that probably helped in the blending together. And so now, since then they've not all, all but one are married and so we have eight grandchildren. And, which we are very happy about and we have twins on the way so that'll be nine and ten. So it's been great.

TI: Wow.

EBA: Yeah.

TI: Now, how have you shared the history of your life with the Japanese and your parents' life? Have you shared this with the family?

EBA: You know, I have, I went back to seminary again in 19, let's see, 1999, '98 and got a counseling degree. But out of this seminary experience I had to do a lot of writing and a lot of just reflection. And so out of this experience I've been able to write a lot about the, my experience with the internment and growing up, and I've documented or I've written it down and sent these writings to all my kids. And it's been an eye-opener for them, 'cause first of all we never knew, or Dad, "I didn't know he could write like this." And it's been a time of enrichment for them, but for me personally, for them to know because for many years I had this story and these experiences inside of me. And finally I was able to let loose of that and just bask in that whole experience and what a wonderful experience it was, but also a very challenging experience, too. But I've been able to write about those experiences and those stories that are churning, had been churning inside of me and wanting to, wanting to get that story out. I wanted for many years to be able to say, "This is who I am, this is what has shaped me." And so I've been able to do that now and it's been a great experience.

TI: And what kind of reactions have you received from your children after, when they read this?

EBA: Well, they, they are very happy to read these experiences. And first of all, first one thing, that was that they didn't know I could write like that. There's something about the way I write really engages them in the story. And so it's a time when they can ask me questions about my experiences, "What was it like? What did you do?" And to me it's been a cathartic experience.

TI: Now, in these writings, was it more, like in this interview, more a telling of what happened, or was it more of a sharing of the, some of the emotional sides?

EBA: Well, it's a telling of what happened, as I look at them. It's a telling of events, but it's not just a documentary, it's really engaging in using, crafting words that, and sentences that really get to the heart and the emotion behind the documentation. And it's been a healing experience for me to be able to do that. Part of that healing is understanding the, maybe some understanding of the dynamics between my mother and my father, but just understanding and going back and having a better understanding of the events and how they shaped our lives and what an impact that had on our lives.

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: And something else I wanted to -- and thinking back, in the late '80s, the United States government --

EBA: Yes.

TI: -- recognized that a wrongdoing had happened.

EBA: Yes.

TI: And apologized to the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during the war. Earlier, actually during the war, your father said or wrote that what the government was doing was wrong and would come to recognize that it was wrong.

EBA: Right.

TI: I mean, I'm just curious, when the government apologized in the late '80s, what, what you thought about that?

EBA: Well, first of all, I did attend some of the hearings at Seattle Central Community College. And, my father, back in 1976 when he, I think it was when, yes, this was the time when he received the order, the decoration from the Emperor of Japan and there was an interview in the Seattle Times regarding that event. And my father and I, as I put it in his, in a prophetic voice said that, "We must be careful this will not happen again. It may not happen to the Japanese, but it could be another, another group of people." And so, now that we're in, we're in this Muslim/Iraq war, and we're looking at another ethnic group much as we looked at the Japanese years ago. And so I think, I see parallels, or there could be parallels between the two events if we don't, if we let it go too far. And it's, it's... we cannot brand a group, a whole group of people as being all bad, much like we did to the Japanese during the second World War. So we can't do that with, with our Islamic and Muslim and Arab and Middle Eastern friends because we could end up the same place. And I think my father was very prophetic in those words.

TI: Do you think the United States, today, is different, or have we learned from what happened to the Japanese Americans in the 1940s? And do you think the United States has learned or is different in 19', now the year 2004?

EBA: I would like to think that we have learned something. But I still encounter, every once in a while, especially an older generation, the former generation, that fought in World War II, and had experience of combat in the South Pacific and in Europe. Some of those people are still, they're very much putting the Japanese American citizens in the category of "Japs" and being the enemy. And I've had to, rather than get into a very heated argument about that whole thing, I just got to the point I had to back off because I wasn't going to change anybody. Society as a whole, I like to think we've learned some lessons there, but again, thinking about the Middle East and that ethnic group, there are those who still have not learned any lesson from the past at all. So I think we just have to be really careful that we don't repeat.

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<Begin Segment 31>

TI: Yeah, you spent a chunk of time in Idaho, Twin Falls, growing up. And I wanted to ask you, you know, have you ever returned back to Twin Falls?

EBA: You know, ever returning to Minidoka was out of my mind for many, many years until about 1989, or some, somewhere in that area. I just had the desire to go back to Minidoka and see it, and Twin Falls. I wanted to go back and find the houses that we lived in and the school I went to and also hopefully to find the camp site. And so I did. And I knew the addresses of the houses that we lived in and so I was able to find them. The first house we lived in that we were forced to move out of has now been broken up into apartments or living units, small units. The house across the street is, still remains a family, single family residence. And the third house we lived in around the corner on Main Street has now been also broken up into living units. But that part of Twin Falls is now in a pretty shabby area of Twin Falls. Most of the newer parts are out from the original downtown core there. And, but, so anyway, I wanted to see Lincoln Grade School again. So I knew where it was, 'cause I walked back and forth from school every day when I was there. And I told my wife, I said, you know, "I want, I'm gonna park the car here and I want to walk to school one more time." And so that's what I did. And it was, you know, to me it was, I didn't realize the emotional impact of that whole, that first visit, 'cause I'd made a subsequent visit. That whole visit until I came back and I was talking to, actually, a adult education class at church where I was on staff. I, when I recounted that whole story, I mean, the whole story of internment to these people, it just, I can, I can recall the feeling when I stand there, that this emotional jolt hit me about this whole experience. And part of it, too, was that a lot of the people in the class, "Well, I didn't know that happened. It did? We never heard this in school." And, but that visit, I think, started this opening of the, of, of whatever was inside me. I mean, not only of the experiences but family dynamics and all kinds of things. And it was, it was a very emotional experience. Still is when I talk about it.

TI: And it was really key, that walk from the house to school.

EBA: Right.

TI: And the school is still there?

EBA: Still there. School is still there, absolutely. Looks the same, has a cyclone fence around it now but otherwise it's still the same, yeah.

TI: Did you take the walk with your wife?

EBA: Yes, yeah, she walked with me.

TI: And, in addition to that walk, were you able to find the camp site?

EBA: Yes, after that we drove out to an area where the bridge goes across the Snake River. And there was a visitor's center there. And so I went in there and talked to an elderly gentleman there and told him I was... talking about the camp at Minidoka and where that was and wanted to know if he could help me find it. And he asked somebody else there and he really said, "Well, it's across the river there somewhere and you, one of those roads you go down, you'll probably find it out there somewhere." And I'm not, and I categorized him maybe unfairly, but I thought, here's a World War II veteran and he's not gonna be real helpful to me. 'Cause I would think that he would know where the camp site was. Anyway, he gave me some general area where it would be, so drove across the bridge and went, took two or three roads to go down for a while before we found it. But we found it. And at that time it was before the National Park Service made it a historical site, so there wasn't much there. There's a large, there was a large wooden sign on the road giving a brief history of the camp site and so I turned off the road and went up the road that led into the camp. And it was like everything came back to me. Just, even though it was flat, there was nothing there except the stone foundation for the guardhouse and the waiting room. And the irrigation canal is still the same, same little bridge you go, drive across it to get across the canal into the gate there. And also, there beside the existing foundation there is a, there is a, three memorial plaques in bronze. One tells a brief history of the camp, one is a map of the camp, and the third one is a list of some of the people that died in the camp there, not 442, but residents in the camp. And I could see, what I know now is, I think, is the root cellar that was at the camp there. There's a broken down wooden building there in the ground. But now it's farmland. And I could close my eyes and see everything at the camp there because I've been there. And it was, it was an exhilarating experience for me to do that.

TI: What were some of those memories that came back to you?

EBA: Well, looking at the irrigation canal and thinking of the swimming hole and the picnics and, and standing at the guard gate there waiting for the guard to check us through and then they'd swing the gate open, the barbed wire gate and it was just like, once you got inside there, you, I felt this release to just go and have fun and engage in having fun and seeing my friends and so forth.

TI: It must've been so much different in terms of the way it looked from a camp that held over ten thousand people to now, just kind of flat farmland.

EBA: Yeah, but you know, I think it's T.S. Eliot has a poem that talks about life coming full circle and we go back to where we started and see it again for the first time. And there's that sense that I went back and saw it for the first time, 'cause I have all this history and knowledge of really the events of that era and seeing what that really was like. So I think T.S. Eliot is right in that we go back to where we started and we see it for the first time. And that, that could apply to a lot of things in our lives. But for me that was where I saw it for the first time.

TI: Now, how did you describe what used to be there to your wife as you stood there and you started seeing, in some ways the bones of the camp. How did you describe?

EBA: Well, I had to, we had to stand in front of the map because I couldn't remember everything. But as we looked at the map I told her, you know, "The water tower was over there and this dining hall was here," and the... and I just kind of described the, the row on row of tarpaper shacks, six rooms to each barrack, twelve barracks to a block and they had a central dining hall and that type of thing. She engaged in it. She was very appreciative, I guess, is the way I would put it, of what I was telling her and of those units. That wasn't the first time I'd, I mean, she'd ever heard that, because I told her when, before we married what that was like and my history and so forth. So it was, it's an experience I can't describe really adequately.

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<Begin Segment 32>

EBA: It, I went, I had another, I took another trip, too, about six years later.

TI: Now, why did you take this second trip?

EBA: 'Cause I wanted to go back again.

TI: Again with your wife?

EBA: Yes, with my wife and just wanted to see it again. And it was interesting when we, we had just pulled up again to the same entrance to the, to the guard station and to the camp and so forth. And up comes the road, this van and following it was a car. And I just referred to this as a gift from God that this happened, that this was happening. They came up and stopped where we were and out from the van and these cars came these Niseis. And I'm sure they wondered what I was doing there, being a hakujin, you know. And so we started talking and told why I was there and my history. And they said, "Oh, Andy, Andy." They knew my father. And one of the -- I don't remember the family's name -- but one of the families had been a part of Japanese Baptist church years ago. They were, had all come up from California. But it was just a great time of picture taking and talking back and forth and we spent quite a while there and then got in the cars and they were gone. It was almost like it was surreal almost, and did this really happen? But it did. These cars coming up and we had this great conversation.

TI: And it was even, do you think that the intimacy of that conversation was because of this shared experience you all had at that place? I mean, was it --

EBA: Absolutely. Yeah, 'cause they, they, I think all but one or two of the families had been in Minidoka. The others had been in Tule Lake or some other place. But yeah, the intimacy of that moment came from sharing stories and there was almost a non-verbal understanding. I mean, you didn't have to use words to explain the connection or what was going on, because we were there.

TI: And how does that make you feel? Does that, to be, sort of part of that, that, in some ways understanding or... so when you see people that were at Minidoka and they know of you and your history, is that a special feeling whenever that happens?

EBA: Oh absolutely, very special. I, it's a warm feeling and it's a feeling of being privileged, I guess, is the best way I can put it, being privileged to have been a part of that, part of history because it was a huge part of history. I mean, it was, I mean, to deny American citizens their rights, that's unprecedented. And to have that influence of my father, even, even spread into the continent of Japan and being recognized by the emperor for his efforts, yeah, I feel very privileged to have been part of that.

TI: And yet the powerful part, these intimate moments of people sort of who shared this common experience.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: I mean, I want to sort of segue into a few months ago you went to the Minidoka reunion where many of the, of the people who were at that camp who were still alive came together at a gathering and you participated. And I wanted to get your sense of how, how that felt. Here there were hundreds of people, and how that felt for you?

EBA: Well, there were, I think a little over eight hundred people there at the hotel at SeaTac Airport. I was thrilled to be able to participate in that. Not only thrilled but I was honored. I honored, I felt honored but I think I was, they were honoring my father's memory to have me speak there. I look at this whole experience and I say that, when I'm talking about this reunion last year, I look at the -- and again I'm speaking from a pastor's heart -- but I look at this experience of that gathering as, as a redemption. I was able to talk about our experiences and I think for the, for many of the Japanese, maybe more the Isseis, this was a time that it's time to start telling our stories and not deny by stuffing our stories and denying, that we don't want to talk about that because it's hurtful or that's the Japanese way, Issei way of you just be silent and...

TI: So you're talking about the Isseis or the Niseis?

EBA: I'm talking about the Isseis.

TI: Okay.

EBA: But also for the Nisei, too, 'cause I think the Isseis especially, they've been very quiet about that.

TI: Well, and there's so few of them left.

EBA: There are so few of them left, that's right. But I see this, and again I put this in category of faith, as a redemption, and I think of the Old Testament story of the Israelites being taken into captivity and they were jerked out of their land, left their farms and homes and all that they knew and were carried into a foreign land. And Psalm 137, I think it is, speaks of that experience and it says, let's see if I can recall it, it says, by the waters of Babylon -- because they were taken to this land of Babylon -- by the waters of Babylon we hung our harps and we, then we sat and cried, we hung our harps on the willows and sat down and cried and our captors said, sing the songs of Zion. And it goes on to say, how can we sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land? And I've taken that same psalm and sort of paraphrased it and it goes something like this: by the waters of the Snake we sat down and cried. On the, on the birch we hung our koto and our captors said sing us songs of Bainbridge, and we cried, how can we sing the songs of Bainbridge when we are in a foreign land? And, but there is a companion psalm to that, that talks about them being released from captivity and coming back with joy and being able to start again. And so there's that experience, too, of the internment being ended and coming back. But, I think the redemption, for everybody, Issei, Nisei, me, anybody, the redemption from that comes in being able to go back and remember those experiences and then we start telling stories to each other. There is redemption in being able to connect in a relational way that way. We tell our stories. It's cathartic, but it's also something of a heritage or a history that we pass on to the next generation so they don't, so they don't forget.

And Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, writer, said something to the effect that we remember our lives backward, but we live our lives forward. And it's this remembering the backward that from... in telling our stories and engaging in grief, engaging in pride or whatever comes out of that, that engaging in those emotions and those thoughts and those stories, that gives us, that empowers us to live our lives forward and we gain strength from those stories and remembering those experiences so we can go on and take up the lessons that are learned from that and pass it on to the next generation also. So there, I, in fact, I think I said in my speech, at the end of my speech, is that, well, in the II Corinthians book in the New Testament, Paul says, he writes, "Thanks be to God who comforts us in all our troubles with the comfort that comes from God." And he goes on to say, "So that we can comfort others with the comfort we have received." And it's taking of those experiences, learning the lessons and being able to pass it on and help others. But he also goes on to say in that same passage: these things happen so that we will not rely upon God -- or ourselves, so we will not rely upon ourselves but on God who raises the dead. And I said, Minidoka is our resurrection.

TI: That's good.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: You know, you've given so much thought in the last several years, in your writings, your thinkings, probably even in your sermons about what happened to Japanese Americans and, I'm wondering, in these last few years, as you think of all the events that happened, and some of the things that your parents did, do you, is there any fresh perspectives or any new insights in terms of thinking about your parents and their lives and what, and their choices and the things that they've made, and how you think about that?

EBA: Well, I think that generation, at least my mother and my father, I think they were in a framework of, "This is the way we've always done it and this is the way we're gonna do, so we continue on that way." And I think about hanging onto a marriage that wasn't working, and being maybe distanced emotionally 'cause you didn't show that to your siblings, or to your children. But you know, if, I think, "Well, what if my parents didn't get divorced? What would that be like and how would all this have fallen together?" But I think I've learned that I'm not gonna be quiet with my children, with my grandchildren. I'm gonna engage in them, with them and let them know who I am, warts and all. I have my downsides as well as my good side. But I think it's just, to me it has highlighted to me the importance of relationship, how important that is for us to get through life, to have that sense of community around us that maybe is a, maybe we were focused in on one thing, you know, the internment, or that type of thing, how much community is important in, in engaging in that and being able to release that and learn the lessons from that.

TI: In going forward today, from today, how do you see your life experiences, your thoughts now, coming together in terms of thinking about things like the Japanese American community or race relations or, or your work as a pastor, how does this all come together in your mind?

EBA: Boy, um, well, first of all I think although my father was not intimate with me in a relationship so much, but what he has done has really informed me as to what I do today and how I am. I'm sorry, you have to go back and... say that question again.

TI: Well, let me break it down.

EBA: Okay.

TI: That was probably not a very fair question. But starting, going forward, I'll break it down, how do you see your experiences impacting your relationship with the Japanese American community going forward? Do you see a connection sort of ongoing, and what does that look like in your mind?

EBA: Well, I still feel very connected to the Japanese community although I'm not living in the Japanese community now, I'm quite a ways north of here. But I just feel, still feel very connected in that arena and we can... just the, talking about it, having experiences of, of relating our family and what we went through. It's, there's no disconnect between me and the Japanese community as far as I'm concerned.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: Well, how about this question; this might be a little more concrete.

EBA: Okay.

TI: Your connection with Japanese Baptist Church, what does that look like these days?

EBA: It's, there's still a tie there. I don't, I don't very often go down there but I've been, I've had a funeral service there for one of the Japanese, Niseis. They've asked me back for special occasions, whether it be a scout reunion of some sort or Scout Sunday. Years ago, there's a garden behind the church there that is a memorial garden for my father and so, and then Yosh, Yosh calls me. But then, there's always some connection there. I don't think that tie will ever be broken. And as long as the memories exist, as long as the stories are circulated, there will always be a tie there.

TI: And how does your experiences impact your work with the church? Does it, is it incorporated, do you use it in terms of helping people to understand the world and life in general?

EBA: I think so. Maybe not specifically relating internment experiences, although I have done that on occasion, but I think it helps me in ministry to the, to my congregation and, again, it's all about being real with each other and be willing to dialog with one another. You know, I oftentimes think of Minidoka as a desert experience, 'cause you're out there in a desert. And then we've returned from the desert and, but we don't want to keep quiet about our desert experiences that we have in our lives. And we need to dialog continually about, with each other, about our desert experiences. Otherwise, from my perspective, all we have is chit-chat.

TI: Is there anything else you want to talk about? This, I've really enjoyed the interview, the conversation, and wanted to see if there's anything you wanted to...

EBA: You know, I can't think of anything right now except it's an incredible privilege to be able to participate in this interview and I look at that, being privileged and humbled and honored personally, but honoring my father in anything that, that I'm called to speak at or appear at or, you know, be here for this. It's incredible.

TI: Well, thank you so much, Brooks.

EBA: Thank you.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.