Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Joe Ishikawa Interview
Narrator: Joe Ishikawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: January 10, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ijoe-01-0014

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TI: So any interesting stories or things happen between those few months between Pearl Harbor and when you were removed from Los Angeles? Anything other that, anything else that you can remember that was interesting?

JI: I know I sold my car before, before the campus was forbidden, so I had to go on bus. And what had been a twenty-minute ride to campus became a two-hour bus ride, 'cause I had to transfer three times and take a zig-zag route. That was probably the worst thing.

TI: Now, did you have a hard time selling your car, was it easy?

JI: Oh, no, I, it was a good car, it was a car that used to belong to Basil Rathbone. [Laughs]

TI: How'd you get that car?

JI: Well, a friend of mine told me that this car was for sale, and I went and it had 13,000 miles on it. But then it had a cracked block and everything else. And I went to, couple years later, after he had moved, they had lived in Jack Dempsey's old house, and they had moved to Bel Air after that. And somebody told me they were looking for a butler, which were, they were actually glorified houseboy, that Basil Rathbone. So I went, worked there for two weeks while the guy was healing. He had, the guy who was before me had cut his, cut his finger, and my sister-in-law worked for the JACL. And so she knew about this job, so I went and applied, I asked my, Sei Fujii if I could take time off to do that, and I would send in articles and stuff from there. And he said yeah, so I did it. And that was a great experience.

TI: So let me just back up a little bit, or summarize --

JI: But I could realize why my car was junk, 'cause Ouida Rathbone, the Mrs. Rathbone, went around those hills on two wheels. [Laughs]

TI: But Basil Rath-, Rathborne?

JI: Rathbone, yeah.

TI: He was a movie actor, and he played an important role, I'm trying to remember which movie.

JI: Sherlock Holmes...

TI: Sherlock Holmes, that's right, Sherlock Holmes. So he was a movie star.

JI: He played villain in a lot of parts, in Sherlock Holmes he was a hero. A really, prince of a guy. His wife, who was, had a reputation of being Hollywood's principal hostess for the parties she threw, was something else. She would, he'd leave about six in the morning to go to the studio, and when he was making one of the Sherlock Holmes movie he was in the water most of the day. And he'd come home and about eight o'clock, very chipper, and he would say, "How are you, Ouida?" And she would say, "Oh, it was terrible," which was very interesting because she'd get up about one o'clock in the afternoon -- [laughs] -- and just putz around.


TI: While he was busy all day...

JI: All day.

TI: a hard shoot in the water. [Laughs]

JI: But it was an interesting two weeks, and there was one party that had, had very big people there, but it was a small party, ten people. And for that, they hired a French butler from Central Casting or something. He and I would talk French to each other, but that was the only thing I got out of it, 'cause they wouldn't let me greet the guests at the door or anything, I could just see them as they came in.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. And because of that two-week sort of job, you were later on able to buy his car?

JI: No, no, I bought his car earlier, and I realized how, why, why the thing was, had a cracked block and everything, it was the way she was driving. But actually, once I got it fixed up, it was a good little car.

TI: And then you were able to, because it was a nice car, able to sell it relatively easy?

JI: Yeah, for about same amount I sold it, I bought it for.

TI: Okay. 'Cause you hear a lot of stories of people, because they knew they were going to be leaving...

JI: Oh, yeah.

TI: ...they got pennies on the dollar for their things.

JI: Right, yeah. Worse than that, I had friends in Nebraska whose families had given power of attorney to people they thought were friends who essentially stole the land from under them. So, I mean, there were... we didn't have property so we didn't have that to worry about. We had, things that were contraband, we could leave with the police station to have them, and pick them up after the war, and I'm sure they were kept. But I have friends that, I had a camera I gave to a friend, and other things I, radios, gave away and that sort of thing.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.