Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hiroshi Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Hiroshi Kashiwagi
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-khiroshi-02-0010

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AI: And then, as you mentioned, then, for your senior year, you were sent, your father took you to L.A. to live, and to work.

HK: Yes. And then by then I was busy writing extra things, essays and stories. Because I had a teacher who was very encouraging, and then I took drama, I mean, you know -- [laughs] -- when no one would think of taking drama in Placer County. And here, I took it and liked it, and they thought that I had some talent, and yeah, those are things I did in L.A., yeah, which opened up a lot -- and then I used to go see movies a lot. Being a houseboy, you have weekends, Sundays off, at least, and what can you do? You go to movies. And then you get one evening off, and sometimes I went to movies, yeah.

AI: So, so tell me a little bit about this high school in L.A. Which high school was it?

HK: It was Dorsey High School, which is now in that black neighborhood, Dorsey, Crenshaw and that area, where they had the riots. And, but at the time that I was going, it was a new school. I think we were the first class to graduate, you know, three years. I only went one year, but you go three years, and that was the first class to graduate from, graduated from that school. So as I say, it was a new school, and made up of many Jewish students and a few Japanese, about twenty-five, not too many. And, and then I tried to be very active, getting into activities, though I was busy with my work, I did some things, yes. And, and the courses, I guess, well, as I say, I had the English, spent a lot of time with that, and then drama -- oh, I took music because... I don't know whether it was required, but anyway, that was fun. I don't have any musical ability, but listening to music, and some recognizing. And the test was they will play a piece, and then you try to identify it. And just by listening for certain things in the piece, you could identify it. [Laughs] And I got so that I could do that.

AI: Well, it sounds like your life in L.A. was completely different from your life...

HK: Yes, it was. Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah. Well, I was stuck in this house, I was a houseboy, and then I had to take, look after these two kids, and they were eight or, eight and six. And when I first went there, I heard one kid, one of the boys saying, "There's a Jap in the house." [Laughs] And then the father must have told them, because they never said that word again. I stayed there nine months. And then they would play with the kids in the neighborhood, and they were very racist, of course, it's natural. And these kids would defend me. [Laughs]

AI: Is that right?

HK: Yeah. So I tried to look them up after the war and years later, but they had moved away somewhere, and so I couldn't... they weren't that much older, they were eight and six, but I was about seventeen, sixteen, seventeen, so that years later, they're only a few years ahead. But yeah, that was... and I got ten dollars a month, and that was more than enough to go to all the movies. [Laughs]

AI: Well, so then you graduated there from Dorsey High?

HK: Yes, I did.

AI: That would have been 1940?

HK: 1940, June, 1940. And, did I go to the graduation? I guess I did. Yeah. It was a pretty big class for high school.

AI: And then after that, did you return right away?

HK: Yeah, I came right back, because my father was ailing, and he needed help, so I came back. And so I started to do the ranch work, and was doing that, and in the summer my brother was around, he was, he was really the work horse. And so we did that for a couple of years.

AI: And your brother is two years younger than you are?

HK: A year.

AI: A year?

HK: No, no. He was two years behind me, a year and a half. In school he was two years behind me. So he was quite different. He's very athletic, and into all the sports in high school, which helped him, I'm sure, because he was considered one of the biggies on campus. And so even during the war, I don't think he suffered that much. After the war, that is. After the war started, there were, there were feelings, and sometimes overt. But teachers tried to be fair, and because of his status, I think he, I think he was very popular, even with the white girls. And my sister, also, well, I don't know. I think she might have felt the pressure a little more, because... yeah.

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