Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James "Turk" Suzuki Interview
Narrator: James "Turk" Suzuki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 7, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-sjames_2-01-0005

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TI: Now, do you recall where the hotel was located?

JS: Well, the one that I recall, yes, I do. I'm, it was at Fifth Avenue and the corner of Fifth and Spring Street. The public library was on, between Spring and Madison on Fifth and, between Fifth and Fourth. That's the Seattle Public Library. And so we lived in this hotel across the street to the north, on Spring Street.

TI: So this is outside of your traditional Nihonmachi area.

JS: Yes, it was.

TI: You're, you're pretty much downtown.

JS: Yes.

TI: Were there other hotels being managed by Japanese in this area?

JS: Yes, there were, but not close by. But there were others.

TI: Do you remember the name of the hotel?

JS: Well, yes. It was called the Spring Lodge.

TI: And who was the clientele of the Spring Lodge?

JS: It was mostly, you know, Caucasians. I don't remember any Japanese staying there, but it was a transient, you know, one night, two nights or whatever, type of trade.

TI: And generally what, the people who would come through, what type of work were they, workers were they that would come through? Do you have a sense of that?

JS: Well, we were just kids then, so we didn't really care. But if I had to guess today, most of 'em were either the laboring class and so forth.

TI: And then any, sort of... so how old were you before they got out of the hotel business?

JS: Well, they continued to operate that through the Depression, and probably until about 1938 or so.

TI: Okay.

JS: '37, '38.

TI: Okay, so when you say your father wasn't that good of a businessman, I mean, through most of your childhood and up to your early teen years, you were running hotels, the family was running hotels.

JS: Yes.

TI: And so why do you say he wasn't a very successful businessman?

JS: Well, I think he, he lost the business, so to speak, or he was unable to make the monthly payments or whatever. Anyway, they gave up the business.

TI: And so this was about when you were about fourteen or fifteen years old?

JS: I was younger. I think it was probably when I was twelve or thirteen, that would be my guess.

TI: So let's just talk about growing up, being in a hotel. I imagine that your room was in the hotel.

JS: Yes, it was.

TI: The, or the family rooms were. So what kind of memories do you have of, of growing up in a hotel?

JS: Well, we didn't think of it in that sense, 'cause we had never lived in a house, per se. But we had Caucasian friends in the, that lived in the area. And I remember a fellow by the name of Willie Cockle, and his parents didn't like us because we were Japanese, but Willie, being a child like we were, we were just boyhood friends.

TI: And what did Willie's parents do?

JS: I really don't know, but they were, Willie's parents were from England. They had come over from England, and so I'm presuming that they were employed by someone, but I don't know exactly what his line of work was.

TI: How about chores? Did you have to do certain chores in the hotel?

JS: No, we really didn't. Not that I recall. In our childhood -- yes, we were compelled to do certain things, of course, you know, but we didn't make beds or things like that. My mother and dad did that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.