Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Shinichiro Tanabe Interview
Narrator: Frank Shinichiro Tanabe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 19, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tfrank-01

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is Monday, May 19th, and we're in the Densho studios. My name is Tom Ikeda, I'm the interviewer, and on camera is Dana Hoshide. This morning we have Frank Tanabe to do an interview. So Frank, I'm going to just start at the very beginning and ask when and where were you born?

FT: Well, I'm Frank Tanabe, a Japanese American with a little slight difference, 'cause I was born in Osaka on August 10, 1919. The circumstance was that my mother immigrated to the U.S. in 1916. And when she found (...) she was pregnant, she decided to have her firstborn back in Japan. And so (she returned to Japan to give birth).

TI: So Frank, I want to ask, so you said, so she was pregnant and she chose to have you in Japan. Do you know why, why she'd want to do that?

FT: Why? I don't really know why. Yeah, except that she wanted her firstborn to be born in Japan, in her native country. So she returned to Osaka by herself, (...) her younger brother was living in Osaka and (also) some other relatives. She is a native of Mikage-machi, which is a suburb of Kobe. (...) After I was born, we came back to the U.S. in, I really don't know, (in) 1921, probably. There's a picture of her carrying me (in) a passport picture. I haven't looked at it. I think my granddaughter has a picture. But we lived on Main Street.

TI: Okay, so Frank, before we get there. So you said Frank Tanabe, did you have a Japanese name, too?

FT: Yeah. Shinichiro.

TI: And what would that mean, Shinichiro?

FT: A trustworthy first son, I guess. "Shin" is trustworthy and "ichiro," of course, is first son. (...)

TI: And did "Frank" come at that time, too?

FT: No, that came later when I was in grade school. We lived around, I would say about Ninth and Main, or (somewhere) like, in a duplex, and I don't really don't know what my father did. But my mother had a little general merchandise-type store, between Sixth and Maynard on Main Street. My mother and father divorced in about 1924. And at that time (...) my name was Shinichiro Okamoto. Mr. Okamoto decided to go back to Japan, but my mother didn't, and so he left (us behind). I guess that was about 1924. Later, my mother married Kakujiro Tanabe, and (I went to) grade school.

TI: Okay, so let me, let me back up. So 1924, so you were a little boy.

FT: Five years old, or something like that.

TI: Do you recall the divorce or the...

FT: No, I don't recall that, but (...) later, much later, when I was going to Bailey Gatzert and we lived (on) Davis Place (at) Eighteenth and Charles, (...) in apartments (...). And I would walk through a hillside on the way to Bailey. And I remember a man standing there and giving me tablets and pencils. I didn't know who it was, but later, thinking about it, I guess it was Mr. Okamoto, my father. But anyway, when I started (at) Bailey Gatzert --

TI: Okay, Frank. I'm going to interrupt you one more time. So, let me ask you about your siblings before we go to school.

FT: Well, yeah, I had a younger sister, two years younger.

TI: And what was her name?

FT: Hiroko. And she took the name Lois.

TI: Okay, and so it looked like your mother would have been back in the United States, so was she born in Seattle?

FT: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: So Hiroko Lois.

FT: And interesting thing about when I went to Bailey (was that) my mother didn't speak English. And so, she asked -- my father, or Mr. Tanabe was working with Mr. Sese and they were partners in the White River Dairy at that time, which was on... Lane, Weller, I guess it was on Weller Street -- about Tenth Avenue and Weller. And Mr. Sese had, his daughter, Shigeko, to escort me (on) the first day (to) Bailey Gatzert, registering (me) and so on. And you know, Shigeko is very famous now, she was Shigeko Uno.

TI: Okay, we know Shigeko Uno, yeah.

FT: So anyway, I was in Bailey Gatzert and I guess about (in the) second or third grade (when) my mother decided that I should... well, Mr. Tanabe adopted us, (...) and so we changed our name from Okamoto to Tanabe. Mrs. Mahon, the principal at Bailey Gatzert, decided (that), well, "If you're going to change your name from Okamoto to Tanabe, well, why don't we change your first name -- it's so hard for most of the teachers to pronounce -- (...) why don't you pick an English name?" So I took Frank, and my other classmates like Isao (...) became Peter Yoshitomi and Noboru Kumata took the name Robert Kumata.

TI: So this is interesting. So was that sort of the influence of Ms. Mahon? Was she the one who kind of encouraged --

FT: Yeah, well, we were (changing our school registration to) Shinichiro Tanabe. (But), "That's hard to pronounce, so why don't you pick an English name," (she said). And so I took the name Frank Tanabe. And so officially, that (became) my name.

TI: So you went through a pretty big change here. So you started off with Shinichiro Okamoto for a while, and then you changed really to Frank Tanabe.

FT: Yeah, but all my friends call me Shin. [Laughs] Because they knew me by that name when I first started, you know, all my classmates.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: There was something you said about Mr. Tanabe, I guess your stepfather, working with the White River Dairy. Do you know much about that? I'm curious...

FT: No, I don't know too much about that dairy. I think (it closed) sometime, in the (...) mid-'20s, I guess. And then he went to work for, he had a little stand in the public, I mean, the farmer's market area. Yeah, he worked there for a while and then he got a job as a cook on the Great Northern Railway system. Now, that's another story because he worked on the trains for a while, and then (...) he opened up a little restaurant in Essex, Montana or Walton, Montana (...). I think (...) was a railway depot address and the other, (...) a township. (...) But anyway, he opened this little restaurant and what it did was (feed) a special crew that took (...) another locomotive to (...) power the (eastbound) train over the summit. And then the crew would come back (on) the westbound train, and they would billet there (...). Well, and one summer, I was there when somebody set the place on fire and it burned down. And so, he moved...

TI: Well, before you move on, so someone set the place on fire intentionally?

FT: Huh?

TI: Was that intentionally?

FT: Yeah, it looked like it was (arson). Somebody set the (wastepaper towel container) in the bathroom (...) on fire.

TI: Was there, do you have any sense of why someone would do that?

FT: I have no idea.

TI: And so when you're, when, so what would you call Mr. Tanabe? Would you call him your father or your stepfather? How would you describe him?

FT: He was a very hard-working man. And he was really nice to us, of course.

TI: So when he had his restaurant in Montana, then your mother would still be in Seattle?

FT: We were in Seattle, right. And then during the summer I would go out and be with him. And after the place burned down, he leased a restaurant in Cut Bank, Montana, which is east of the Rockies. Well, you know, it's... the place that burned down was on the southern borders of Glacier Park, and on the west side of the summit. Well, Cut Bank is on the other side. It's in the prairie country. And so, I guess that was about '36, I guess (when) he moved there. He opened up a restaurant there. (...) After I graduated from high school in '37, the family all moved to Cut Bank. And I came back (alone), during the summer, to work in (a salmon cannery in Alaska).

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Okay, before we go there, let's go back now to Seattle and, as a young boy, and talk about some of your earliest memories of Seattle. What were some of the things you can remember about Seattle?

FT: Yeah. I remember we moved from Main Street to Eighteenth and Charles, an apartment that had several Japanese families (and their children), (...) went to Rainier (...) grade school. (I) continued to go to Bailey Gatzert. While I was in (...) the sixth grade, we moved to Tenth and Fir. After I finished sixth grade (at) Bailey Gatzert, I went to Washington School -- I guess you'd call in junior high now, for the seventh and eighth grades. (...) I should have (...) gone (to) Pacific School (...), which (was) on Jefferson and (...) Eleventh Avenue. But (a) friend said, "Come with me to Washington," so I went to Washington. (...) "I'll go to Broadway with you." (Although) he was in the Garfield (district).

TI: Oh, so let me, let me --

FT: And so anyway, (...) I went to Washington.

TI: So what was this good friend's name?

FT: Peter Yoshitomi. Yeah, he was one of the guys that changed his name at the same time. His name was Isao, he changed it to Peter.

TI: So let me just make sure I get this. So after you moved a couple of times, and so when you were at Tenth and Fir, you should have been going to Pacific, but instead you stayed at Bailey Gatzert. And then you were supposed to go to Washington?

FT: We went to Washington. Eighteenth and what is it...

TI: Okay, but your friend was supposed to go to Garfield, but he went to Broadway.

FT: Well, see, Bailey Gatzert was only a six-grade school (and you had to go to Washington or Pacific). (Pete) lived in the Washington school area (and Pacific was my district school). But he wanted me to go to Washington with him on the premise that, when we graduated, he would come to Broadway which was (in) my district, (while his) was Garfield.

TI: Instead of Garfield, got it. Okay, okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So let's go back to Bailey Gatzert. I always like to ask people, what was Bailey Gatzert like for you?

FT: Oh, Bailey Gatzert had a lot of Orientals -- Chinese, Japanese (students). And I remember, like on a snowy day, Ms. Mahon would give us the lunch tray to use as a sled (on) the hillside and stuff like that. And I remember her standing (at the door to the cafeteria) and she would ask (students) to open up their brown bags. And a lot of (students) just had kamaboko or satsumage and she said, "You go (...) get in line. Get a bowl of soup," or whatever it is, (...) she'd pay for it.

TI: So this was like a, almost like a nutrition program. She wanted to make sure that each student had enough to eat.

FT: She'd just say, "Open up your lunch bag," (and) we'd show what we had. Yeah, she was quite a lady.

TI: How would you describe her? Yeah, how would you describe Ms. Mahon?

FT: Well, she was very strict in discipline. And I remember the teachers -- make a little noise or talk out of turn in school, in class -- (and they) say, "Go see Ms. Mahon." You'd go to her office and she'd have a leather strap there, and she'd say, "Put out your hand," and whack. [Laughs]

TI: So Frank, you described that pretty well.

FT: Disciplinary. She was a disciplinarian.

TI: So did that ever happen to you, that you had to do that?

FT: Yeah, I did, a number of times. I would be talking with Pete (...) or with the other guys when the class was going on and the teacher said, "Alright, go see the principal." [Laughs] And she said, "You did the wrong thing, you shouldn't do that." And you know, that kind of a lecture. Put out your hand, and whack.

TI: Now, would you say that most students had to sometimes do this?

FT: Yeah, sure, other students, yes. You know, incidentally, after some time, I don't know when, but some of the alumni from Bailey Gatzert got together and sent her, Ms. Mahon, to Japan for two weeks.

TI: So her former students all contributed money together to send her to Japan?

FT: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: Wow, that's special. Who decided to do that?

FT: Oh, I don't know. It was a bunch of older Niseis. I just heard that.

TI: Well, what was it about Ms. Mahon that, that you think the students wanted to do this? What was it that she did for you that was so special?

FT: I guess she did a lot for all the people. At first, Bailey Gatzert was on Sixth and, between Main and Jackson, and then it moved to Twelfth, by the bridge there. And that's where I went. But some of the older Niseis, the Niseis that went to Bailey Gatzert when it was downtown (...) in J-town. She was quite a lady. Everybody loved her. (Narr. note: I heard that when the people were being evacuated by bus, Ms. Mahon was at the bus stop, weeping as the buses left.)

TI: How about the Isseis? Did they, did they get along with her also?

FT: Well, I guess so.

TI: Do you recall your mother ever needing to meet with her?

FT: No, no. It was the older Niseis.

TI: So I'm curious about school. I mean, today, at schools, they have things like the PTA, where the parents would come in and do things. Did the Isseis do that, too?

FT: I don't remember. I can't recall. But I would think that they would have some association with the school.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Okay, so we talked a little bit about elementary school. At this time, did you have to do things like Japanese school?

FT: Yeah, on the way home, we went to Japanese school.

TI: And which Japanese school did you go to?

FT: It was, you know, where it is now.

TI: So on Weller.

FT: Yeah, near Rainier and Weller.

TI: And so tell me about Japanese school, what was that like for you?

FT: That was, (it was called) Tip School. You've heard that?

TI: I've heard that, I don't know why they called it Tip School.

FT: Because it was (a tip) on the part (for) extra education. So like (...) a tip when you (...) get good service at a restaurant or whatever, (...) was our tip to our parents for their ambition to give us as much education as possible.

TI: And so, did the students think that they were doing this for their parents, so that it was for their parents, like a tip for their parents?

FT: That's how we felt. And everybody, "Oh, hey. We gotta go (...) because our parents want us to go (...) and get that extra education." So we called (it) Tip School.

TI: Do you know who made that up?

FT: Oh, older Niseis. Because, we knew it as Tip School from the very first time I went (...).

TI: Well, that's good. That's the first time someone, that told me this about how that name -- I always ask and most people don't know how that happened, so that's good.

FT: Yeah, it was very interesting. We'd go (but we're not in any hurry to get there and) most of us were (almost) always late for class (...). And we (sat) in there, and (learned and) got it by osmosis, I guess. We just sat there and nobody really tried to study (...). Yeah, you listened (...) and just, you know, you learn unconsciously, almost subconsciously, I guess.

TI: Well, plus you're probably tired from having gone to regular school all day, and then needing to go to more school.

FT: Yeah, and I was learning kanji. We had the same thing when we went to MIS school, too, you know.

TI: So, some of it did rub off. I mean, you did learn something.

FT: And most of the teachers were mothers of our friends, you know. Yeah, it was pretty interesting, I guess. You have to sit and listen to (...) our classmates' mother teaching us. It's almost like home education, I guess. It was usually about an hour and a half, something like that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And so, when you did have time to play, what are some things you did at that age in terms of play? Frank, I may ask you not to touch your microphone, too.

FT: Oh, okay. Well, Seattle is very fortunate (in that) it has a long twilight. So we spent a lot of time, after Tip School and (before it got darker), we played quite a bit outside.

TI: And so what would be some games that you would play?

FT: Oh, we played all the games. Like jintori and cops and robbers, and Kick the Can.

TI: So, jintori, what's jintori?

FT: Well, jintori, (translates into "capture the base"), telephone poles, this is your "jin" and this is ours, base. And we'd divide up and we'd try to invade the other. Or actually, if you could touch it, the pole, before their defenders touched us. If they touched us, you're out of the game, you know. So, it's just one of those things.

TI: And generally, how many kids would be playing jintori at the same time?

FT: (...) All the neighborhood kids would (...) gather, after Tip School and (before long, someone will propose we play a game).

TI: And so about how many? Would it be like five, ten?

FT: Yeah, we'd have a dozen, I guess.

TI: And would they all be Japanese Americans?

FT: Yeah, all the (kids) in the neighborhood, (that were) Japanese Americans (...). You don't see that so much now, neighborhood kids playing together. And a lot of the time, when we'd leave Tip School, on the way home, we all get together and walk (home together). And (we'd) stop at a street corner and play (...) until our mothers called us for dinner.

TI: So it sounds like a pretty rich childhood. Just the friendships.

FT: (...) During the summer we'd all go (...) swimming at Mount Baker. That was our favorite swimming hole on the lake (beach). And we'd walk, mostly. Mother would provide us with a sandwich (of) peanut butter and jelly or something like that. And (...) all of us, about three or four of us, usually, from the neighborhood, we (...) would walk all the way to Mount Baker, swim all day and walk back (home).

TI: Because it's, from where you lived to Mount Baker, you're talking several miles of walking.

FT: Oh, we'd walk. On the way home, we'd pick hazelnuts and (fruits from trees).

TI: So I'm curious, when you go to a place like Mount Baker to go swimming, who taught you how to swim? Did you guys get lessons or did you just learn?

FT: No, we just learned by jumping in and paddling. No, there was no instructions or anything like that.

TI: And so did the lifeguards kinda helped you with strokes or anything like that, or you just kinda learned on your own?

FT: We just learned on our own.

TI: Wow, that's interesting.

FT: Then we'd walk home.

TI: 'Cause I read someplace where you actually swam across Lake Washington at one point. And so Lake Washington across is about a mile across with a really deep, deep lake. So you have to be a really strong swimmer to do that.

FT: Yeah, well, you can always lie on your back and (rest along the way). Mount Baker, (...) (had a raft) about half a mile away, (was a) boathouse. We'd swim from (...) the raft (...) to the boathouse and back. (...) We used to do that quite often, so see how many times you could do it. And swim to the boathouse and back again and so on.

TI: So when you decided to swim across the lake, did you do it with others, too, at the same time?

FT: Was there somebody else? I think there was about two or three of us. And we swam from Leschi to at that time (to Medina and Mercer Island). And we'd (swim the ferry routes).

TI: Now was that a common thing? For people to swim across the lake? I haven't heard of anyone doing this before.

FT: No, I don't think it was common or anything. We'd do it on a dare or something.

TI: Now, if your mother had known that you were swimming across the lake, would she be pretty upset at you?

FT: I think they would have been, yeah.

TI: 'Cause again, it's a long swim in the middle of the lake. And it's not like if you got tired halfway, there wasn't really anything you could do.

FT: You get tired, we just lie on our back and just sort of paddle, just float there for a while. We used to go swimming on the first of April.

TI: And so if you know Seattle weather, first of April would be really cold.

FT: Yeah, (...) we'd say, "Hey, it's the first of April. Let's go swimming."

TI: That's pretty amazing.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: How about other sports? Do you recall other sports growing up?

FT: No, you know in Bailey Gatzert we didn't have team sports or anything like that. But when we went to Washington, (for) seventh and eighth grades (and) the school had team sports. So I played, Pete and I and some of the others, (...) were on the softball (...) and soccer teams, and we played (...) other schools. And yeah, so outside of school, we all went (...) Collins Playfield (which) had leagues that (...) played with other parks. (...) We were in the (...) 110 League(...), I don't know how they got the (110 class, your height, weight and age was averaged out), and said, "You're 120, you're 130," or whatever it is. And we played softball and soccer with other parks. And Collins Playfield teams, we had, it was not only the Niseis, it was the blacks, and Italian people, kids, the Jewish kids. It was mixed.

TI: And how did the Japanese get along with the Italians, the Jewish children?

FT: Oh, we got along real well. [Interruption] (Narr. note: We got along real well. Washington was in the Jewish area and we had lots of Jewish kids as friends. In the '80s, after I had returned and was walking down Yesler Way, I saw a black guy coming up towards me. As we passed, he said, "Hi, Shin." Surprised, I looked hard and saw it was a teammate at Washington -- Lester.)

TI: So how good were your teams from Collins Playfield? When you went to, you said you went to other communities to play.

FT: Oh, yeah, we were the champions mostly. The Niseis were really athletic and very flexible. And the other, like the Caucasian guys (were) bigger, but they were more clumsy. And we'd beat 'em all the time.

TI: And so you guys had the reputation of having good teams with Collins.

FT: Yeah, basketball, too. You know, I one time -- [coughs] pardon me -- one of the best Nisei basketball teams was the Hornets. They were very famous. It was all Niseis and they, I think they were from Collins Playfield. But the Hornets (played) other high school teams. They were very famous and (were featured on the sports page of) the P-I (written by) the guy that has that one block named after him?

TI: So Royal Brougham? Royal Brougham?

FT: (Yes).

TI: So it wasn't...

FT: He has a block by the Safeco Field named after him.

TI: So is that the Royal Brougham?

FT: (...) Royal Brougham. He wrote about them. Yeah, the Hornets, they were really good. And it was an all Nisei team. Oh, I think there was one Chinese guy that played. Yeah, Art Lui was the center for them and the (others were) Tom Kubota, Taft Toribara, Min Yamazaki, (a) Kurimura (and Pete Yoshitomi). They were really a good team. And they would play practice games with high school teams. They were very famous.

TI: So how about you? What sport did you like to play?

FT: Oh, I played everything. Just you know, the Courier Leagues. That was later, but before, we had neighborhood teams, like (those) around (...) downtown, J-town. (They were affiliated with) Taiyo group (...) teams around Twelfth (and) Fourteenth Avenues (were) Waseda teams. (...) And then they had the Lotus (...) Buddhist church teams (...). And we played against each other. It wasn't organized, but somehow always had a playfield (to play on).

TI: So these were kind of just, almost, it wasn't a league per se, it was just like different groups.

FT: There was no leagues then. And then later, the Japanese American Courier.

TI: But before the Courier League, so it wasn't organized. Did people have uniforms?

FT: No, we didn't have uniforms. We'd just say, "Hey, we'll play you guys at Dugdale Playfield," on such a day, you know. And that's how it went. It was all neighborhood teams. So when I lived up at Eighteenth and Charles, I played for the Marmots, which was (kids) from that area. And our coach at that time was Bob Hosakawa, he was a little older than us, so he was (our coach). And we would challenge the Taiyo teams from (...) J-town (...). And we'd practice on the street. Like football, we'd have (practice) on the street. And Tenth and Fir was (ideal for baseball practice.) (...) (Narr. note: Lids on each corner became bases in an empty lot, and left field was down Tenth Avenue, and right field was down Fir Street.)

TI: So just really simple, simple things.

FT: Yeah, little things like that.

TI: And so for equipment like balls and stuff...

FT: We have a core, or someone would wind string around it and make a ball.

TI: And for a bat, what would you use?

FT: Well, bat, we always had bats, I don't know why. And then in the winter, we played hockey on the street.

TI: So lots of activity.

FT: And we did a lot of skating. We'd skate all over.

TI: And these are these old metal skates that you would use?

FT: Yeah, we'd use them until those wheels all worn out. [Laughs]

TI: How far would you skate when you would think about it? Just in the neighborhood or would you skate outside?

FT: Yeah, actually, we skated to school. We used to skate from Tenth and Fir to Broadway and Pine for Broadway High School. We'd skate to school and skate back again.

TI: So that's, again, you're talking over a mile.

FT: Oh, yeah. A couple of miles easy.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: You know, there's a couple other stories I wanted to ask you about. One was the Salvation Army camp.

FT: Yeah.

TI: Why don't you tell me about that?

FT: Well, I went (...) during the summer -- it was two weeks, I think, summer camps. And the camp leaders were the older Niseis, like I remember Victor Nakashima and Togo Fujihara and (...) we lived in tents. And it was on a (...) board platform, the tents. I think there (were) six or seven cots in (...) one tent. (...) We had our own utensils, plates, and bowls. One of those, what do you call that? It wasn't... well anyway, so we'd like at breakfast, we'd take our own plates and then we'd throw 'em in the river. And then during swimming time, we'd recover 'em.

TI: And so you'd throw 'em in the river, that's how you'd wash your plate?

FT: Yeah, instead of washing them. [Laughs] And then in the evenings, we used to have campfires. And (the camp had) a hot tub, Japanese style. After campfire, we'd get in the hot tub and wash ourselves and then we'd run down to the river to cool off. It was right on the Green River in Auburn. And later on, I guess about the time the Depression was on, and they'd send us to work in the morning, pickin' raspberry to pay for our (...) camp life.

TI: So the kids would pick berries and then in the afternoon, you would then play.

FT: That would pay for our (stay).

TI: Okay, so you wouldn't get paid per se, that would be how you would earn your...

FT: Camp fee, yeah. That was, in the morning, (...) they'd send us out to the berry fields.

TI: So besides the older Niseis who kind of were the camp counselors, were there other adults there that kind of watched over the camp?

FT: Not that I can think of. I think there must have been a cook or somebody, I don't remember. Because they would organize all the things for us, so you know what, "You guys do this and that." Or take us on hikes and teach us how to build a campfire and all that kind of stuff. And they'd watch us swim. They were lifeguards while we swam and so on. But I don't remember any Isseis, but there must have been (a) cook, 'cause we ate in a mess hall, or in a mess tent.

TI: And when I read about this, you described it as a Salvation Army camp. Where did the Salvation Army come it? Why was it called Salvation Army?

FT: (Captain) Hirahara (...) (was an officer) in the Salvation Army. And (he sponsored the camp) called the Salvation Army Fresh Air Camp, SAFACs.

TI: So when they sponsored it, was the area owned by the Salvation Army?

FT: I don't think so. I think they just leased the area. It was in the same place every summer.

TI: And who were the other sort of campmates? Were they all kind of like neighborhood kids, or who else was there?

FT: (They were) about my age, (...) came from all over Seattle, I guess.

TI: And so did you, when you first met them at the camp, did you know most of them, or were they kind of like new people that you had to get to know?

FT: There (were), usually (...) friends of course, (kids) from other areas. We'd meet 'em for the first time and got to know (them), and then we'd see 'em the next year. (I remember one Nisei came several years from Portland).

TI: It sounds like a wonderful time.

FT: Yeah, it was.

TI: So there's another story I read about, and that's the escalator story. Can you talk about that?

FT: Yeah. Well, we were sitting around and we heard that they had an escalator. We didn't know what it was. It was a moving stairway or something like that. So we decided to go (downtown) and take a look at it. And so there was a bunch of us, maybe five, six of us. And we went down to, it was at Bon Marche, and it was a wooden risers and it was a clickety-clacking. And there was other people, other kids from other neighborhoods, were all there. All riding that thing up and then we'd go down the stairs and do it over again. [Laughs] And then much later, we learned it was called an escalator.

TI: So was this the first escalator in Seattle?

FT: Yeah, I think so.

TI: And how did you guys hear about it? Who heard about it?

FT: Oh, we'd go downtown quite often, just to windowshop and stuff like that. "Hey, let's go downtown, walk down there." And somebody spotted it and said, "Hey, there's this thing, (a) moving stairway. So let's go down and take a look at it." So we went (to see it).

TI: And so when you say you and other kids were riding up and then walking down the stairwell and then doing it again, at some point, did the store people just shoo you guys away?

FT: No, not that I know of. We'd get on maybe ten, twenty times. [Laughs]

TI: And so when you talk about all these rich moments, who were some of your good friends from that time?

FT: The names? I can't really (recall), but I remember there was a Seigo Kataoka, Shiro Yamaguchi, and there was a guy named Wakayama. And then there was a Shiz Hasegawa, Amy Ono, and Shiro's sister. And there was the Sugimoto family (...). They had several (...) brothers and sisters. And then there was people on Spruce Street, the Watanabes and the Shinbos, Omotos, (Inoues and Okadas). There was a lot of them in that area. And they, we did a lot of activities at that Baptist Church, which is on Broadway and Spruce. It was just two blocks from Tenth and Fir. And we used the gym at night to play basketball and (...) that. And they had a scout troop. Reverend Okazaki had several sons, one of them was (...) Bob Okazaki, (who) was much older (and) moved to L.A. and (...) was in several movies. He had the Oriental part in the movies. I remember when I was (at) the university, (...) a couple of friends said, "Hey, let's go down to L.A." So we went (and met him). And he (told us to) get right back home (and) don't stick around here. He said, "Los Angeles is not the place for you guys."

TI: Oh, really? So he grew up in Seattle, was working down there, but didn't think L.A., did you get a sense of why it wasn't a good place?

FT: No. He was established there then, he was an actor and everything. But...

TI: He thought you guys might get in trouble or something in Los Angeles?

FT: Yeah, in fact, the first day we were in L.A., we went down to Little Tokyo and we found a gang fight right on the street. And that really surprised us. A couple of Nisei gangs, they were fighting each other. And I remember one of them was called the Yogores. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So let's move now to high school, Broadway High School. So tell me about Broadway High School and what was that like?

FT: Well, we had homeroom, and I was lucky in that the homeroom teacher was also the journalism teacher. And he was a real nice guy named Mr. Miller. And we'd report in the morning to the homeroom and it was a half-an-hour session in the homeroom and then we'd go to our different classes.

TI: So was it Mr. Miller that got you interested in journalism? In newspapers?

FT: He was the homeroom teacher. Uh-huh, yeah. And we had some real good people in that homeroom. The crowd in the homeroom, the people would be with us, we would be with them for the whole four years. So we got to know them (...) well. And among our classmates was a very famous (Ed) Guthman. (...) He became (...) a public relations man for Senator Robert Kennedy, and he (later) became editor of the Philadelphia Enquirer and then (...) the Los Angeles Times. And he was there, and we had, I think we had (...) one of the Nordstrom kids (...) in our homeroom. And we had one guy that became a fullback at University of Oregon. And we had a couple of, I mean, a twin, O'Neil twins. That was interesting. One was named Harvey, and the other was Harley. [Laughs] (...) And Pete Yoshitomi was (...) with me.

TI: And so was Mr. Miller important in terms of getting you interested in newspapers?

FT: Huh?

TI: Did Mr. Miller encourage you to get involved with the journalism class?

FT: Yeah, he was also the advisor for the Broadway Whims, the school paper. So I took a class with him, a journalism class, and worked on the Whims for a while. Submitted articles and stuff like that. And he'd (edit) everything.

TI: So what, besides your studies, what other activities did you do at Broadway?

FT: I didn't do much (of other activities).

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Now, during this time, did you have to work? Did you have to help out at the store or what kind of things during the school year did you do?

FT: No. (The) only thing I did do was go to Alaska during the summer. I went in '36, '37, '38, '39, '40, '41. Six years, I went up to Alaska during the summer and worked in the cannery.

TI: So describe that. What was, like how would you get up to the canneries, where would you go?

FT: Well, in those days, each of the cannery had a foreman. And he (...) would select his (crew), and he would provide all the logistics for us. The first year I went, the foreman was a guy named Fujita, who had a restaurant in Seattle, a Chinese restaurant (...). I was fourteen or fifteen (...). I don't know why he picked me. He let me go with him (...) to Stevens Creek near Cordova, and (...) gave me a job as a slimer. (...)

TI: So what's a slimer?

FT: A slimer's a guy that cleaned the inside of the fish (after it was sliced open). (...) That was the first year. The next five years, I went to a place called Hawk Inlet, which is outside of Juneau. And the foreman was another guy, Nitta? (...) But I got some pretty good jobs there as, I started as a butcher (...).

TI: And so what's the difference between a slimer and a butcher? So slimers would clean it out --

FT: Actually what happens is (that) during the first (or) second week in June, and the fishing season is not open, so we work in the warehouse making boxes. The boxes come flat, and we'd open them up and then stitch the bottom. And cans come (...) flat, too. So there's a machine that makes the can round. And then put the bottom on (...). And then, the fishing season opens in, I guess about the (...) last week of June, or first week in (...) July. (...) We live in a barrack-type (building). And there's a kitchen and (a) recreation area. Well anyway, you wake up one morning, look out and there's a scow just loaded with salmon. And then what (happens is that the fish goes up a ladder from the scow) to a holding area (where) the different types of fishes (are sorted by workers into different bins) -- (...) sockeye, and humpback, and the dog (salmon). and then, the canning starts when the line opens (...). All the fish in one (bin) come down (where) the butcher (...) lines up the fish, (and a knife cuts off its head) And then (the slimer cleans the fish under running water).

TI: That's the slimer?

FT: Yeah, that's the slimer. [Interruption] (Narr. note: The fish is moved from the scow to a sorting area where they are separated by species and put into their respective bins: sockeyes (red), cohos, humpbacks (pink) and dog salmon. The kings are hand packed by pros while the others are canned in line, beginning with the butchering machine which cuts off the head, slices the fish, and cuts off its head. Then it goes to the slimers who clean the fish under running water. It then goes to a machine which cuts the fish into chunks and forces them into the cans, which then moves to a machine where the lids are sealed on the cans. The cans then move to a retort where the salmon is cooked in the can. After the cans are cooled, they are packed in boxes, 24 to a box and stacked in the warehouse for labeling and shipment.)

TI: And you're probably, it sounds like you're on your feet for a long time.

FT: Yeah, we start at about six in the morning, and then at ten, we get fifteen minutes for coffee break. And then we (have) lunch (...) hour, from twelve to one. And then (at) three o'clock, another fifteen minutes (break), and then (...) work 'til five (...). And when it's really busy, we go to dinner, and (...) back at six-thirty or seven (...) (and) work 'til nine, (...) sometimes 'til midnight. And then when we break for midnight, we have to, like the butchers (...) clean up their area. Steam clean it, because of all the fish parts (...) and so you get to bed about one o'clock and you get up at five, eat breakfast, and go back to work at six. And, so that continues until the end of the fishing season.

TI: So it's pretty hard, intense work.

FT: Oh, it's long, long hours.

TI: So why would you do that? Is it because the pay was good?

FT: Yeah, we'd get overtime pay. Time and a half (...) after eight hours.

TI: And how large, when, your crew, how large is a crew usually?

FT: Well, it was pretty big. I think there was maybe fifty people, I don't know. About half Filipinos and half Niseis, and other people.

TI: And how would the Japanese Americans get along with the Filipino Americans?

FT: Oh, got along real good. And then (...) there was a little village. I don't mean village, but housing, for the natives, Native Tlingits, (Alaskan tribe). And they were mostly ladies (and) girls, (worked as) slimers and (other jobs).

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And so you said you did this for what, five, six years?

FT: I went (...) six years.

TI: And so did you always have kind of, so first you were a slimmer, then you were a butcher. Did you always stay as a butcher then?

FT: Yeah. And then after the fishing season ends, (...) about the middle of August, (...) we'd all work in the warehouse, and (...) no more overtime. It was eight to five, (and) we'd work labeling the cans and (...) packing them in (...) cases and so on. And like yesterday, I was talking to one of the guys that worked with me (...), and he said, "Remember, we used to go out and catch crabs and we'd just flip them into a washtub. And we'd boil them right on the (beach)." [Laughs]

TI: So this was more at the end when you had more time?

FT: That was (before and) after the season. (After we got out all the) canned stuff out of the way, (...) we'd come home. And then we'd go to the company to get paid, (minus the chits we spent at the) company store (at the cannery).

TI: So in the summer, how much would you make?

FT: You know, the first, I can't remember (...), but in the first few years, we only made (...) two or three hundred dollars clear (...). And I think the last year, we must have made about six or seven hundred dollars.

TI: And then when you make that money, what would you do with this money?

FT: Well, we paid our school tuition (...). When we were in high school, we just (gave) it to our parents, but when we started going to college, we paid, like I stayed at the Japanese Students Club 'cause my folks were in Montana, so I had to pay for (that).

(Narr. note: We never had an injury incident while I was at Hawk Inlet. However, we heard there was a case at Hidden Inlet, near Ketchikan, in which a worker lost two fingers when his hand was caught in a machine that seals the lid on the cans.)

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

FT: Then when I was (...) at the university. I (...) worked for the Japanese American Courier when James Sakamoto was there.

TI: Yeah, let's talk about that. So what kind of writing, what did you do at the Courier?

FT: (...) I was sports editor, so I did a lot of reporting on sports events. And then of course, I helped write and edit articles for the Pacific Citizen that Sakamoto (...), I think, (...) started the Pacific Citizen and was printing that (paper at the time).

TI: About how old were you, about what year was this?

FT: Oh, before that, when I was in high school, I used to help Bud Fukei, (who edited the) English section in one of the Japanese papers. I (helped) write articles. And (also) I helped Charlie Nakata, he also had (an) English section in one of the other paper. (...) (There were) two Japanese newspapers in Seattle at that time, and each had an English section. So I used to help one or the other (...).

TI: Would you work on sports, or just general?

FT: No, I did other community news.

TI: And was this because of your journalism background at Broadway that they wanted you?

FT: Yeah. More or less. And I was interested in it, so...

TI: And so when you're reporting like that, would you go out in the community and interview people to get stories?

FT: Oh, some of it. I go to (...) community events and write about it. And they when I was at the U, I started working for Sakamoto, as the sports editor. And at that time, I think (...) Bill Hosokawa was (...) still there. And a Norio Wakamatsu, (was) there (and a lady) doing the ladies' column.

TI: So in those early days, or when you worked at the Courier...

FT: I worked after school.

TI: Okay, so what was it like? What was Jimmy Sakamoto trying to do with that newspaper, in terms of, 'cause that was a pretty new, a new endeavor. So describe what it was like working there.

FT: Oh, he was blind, you know. So his wife would (take dictation) for him (...). I used to do most of the sports.

TI: So you did sports. Like Bill Hosokawa, what did he write?

FT: He was writing a column. And so was Norio (...).

TI: And how about Sakamoto? He was writing his column?

FT: He was writing editorials(...). (Narr. note: Sakamoto was dedicated in bringing the Japanese Americans into the mainstream of American life. He wrote editorials for that objective and was one of the founders of JACL, but under its original name, which I don't remember.)

TI: And in general, how, who read the Courier back then?

FT: Well, we had quite (a lot of readers in) the Nisei community. (He went to) Franklin High School. (He) was a boxer, and (...) boxed at Madison Square Garden (...). He had puffed ears, boxer's ears. (He was) the voice of the Japanese American community, and (he succeeded in this).

TI: How was it working for him?

FT: Working for him? Oh, real good -- (I enjoyed it and learned much from him).

TI: So what were some of the good things about working at the Courier?

FT: Well, just getting involved in the Japanese American community. And getting' knowledgeable about politics, you know. Reading his editorials (...).

TI: Well you mentioned the early editions of the Pacific Citizen. So that was kind of the beginnings of the Japanese American Citizens League, you know, JACL. So what kind, what would you write for the Pacific Citizen? Was it sports again, or different things?

FT: Well, I did (...) sports (and other community events). I (also) did some proofreading


TI: Being, back then it was just so crude, or I guess harder to do things with the old system?

FT: Yeah.

TI: I'm curious, going back to these early days of the Pacific Citizen, did you ever talk to Sakamoto or any of the others about the beginnings of the JACL, and just what that was going to be?

FT: No. I don't remember.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So let's, let's move to the University of Washington. So you were staying at, you said, the Japanese Students Club because your family was in Montana. So describe that. What was that like?

FT: Well, we (...) each had a room to study in. Usually about two of us in the room (...). That was on the second floor. And (...) the third floor (was just) open space with (double-decker metal bunks). (The first floor was the) living quarters and recreation area. The basement had the dining room and the kitchen. And we were all assigned weekend jobs, like one week we (did) the vacuuming and (...) housecleaning. During the week, we had to (be) dishwasher, (...) kitchen police type thing. So we all chipped in. There was a manager, a student manager, who took care of the finances and so on and assigned jobs and assigned quarters and all that kind of stuff. And we spent a lot of time in the living room area, and people that didn't live in there, that lived in Seattle, but they used it as sort of a place to study and to socialize. So we had a lot of card games going on all the time, pinochle, and cribbage, and stuff like that.

TI: And about how many students lived there?

FT: Gee, I don't know. It was quite a few, if you look at the pictures of all these people. There's, I don't know.

TI: So I want to make sure I understood, so the basement was kind of the kitchen. The first floor was more recreation.

FT: Living room.

TI: And then the second floor was your individual...

FT: Study rooms.

TI: Individual.

FT: Individual, yeah.

TI: And then the third floor was the cots where you slept?

FT: Yes, sleeping area.

TI: Did you sleep more in a barracks-type situation, or dormitory...

FT: Yeah, just an open space with the double-decker cots.

TI: So in a big room there would be like a dozen of you sleeping?

FT: Oh, more than that.

TI: More than that. So if someone were a snorer or something, then he'd keep people up, if they'd snore or make noises.

FT: Uh-huh. Yeah, I guess so. [Laughs]


FT: (Narr. note: Some of the people there included: Hiram Akita, George Abe, Mas Odoi, John Sato, Toru Sakahara, John Tanaka, Don Matsumoto, and others from Seattle suburbs and the White River Valley to the south; Ed and Frank Korekiyo, Jim Yamauchi and a bunch from Yakima, Wapato and Pasco east of the Cascades; the Yuasa and Numata brothers from Spokane; George Yamaguchi from Portland; and two students from Hawaii. Hiram and I were the closest friends, even to today. During World War II, he was interned in Tule Lake along with me. He was from Burlington, north of Everett.)

TI: Yeah, a lot of people in the outlying areas went to Tule, just more of the Seattle people went to Minidoka. But I wanted to ask you now, so that was your housing, what about the University of Washington? What was that like for you?

FT: Oh, I wasn't much of a student. [Laughs] I was cutting classes all the time. Yeah, I didn't (...) didn't like studying. Especially the big classes, like economic, you go to the lecture room and it seems like there's a hundred people in there. And (...) there's no contact with the professors, like in our homeroom in high school, (you're) in a crowd, and (listen) and take notes whenever you can. And then the result is you got to get a blue book test. I didn't enjoy the university at all. [Laughs]

TI: Did you have a sense of what you wanted to study, what area of study you wanted to go into?

FT: Well, I wanted to go into journalism, but I started out in English literature. I thought that'd give me a background in writing.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: You know, earlier you mentioned, I think, about this time, you took a trip down to Los Angeles.

FT: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And one of the things that you found out while you were on that trip, in addition to visiting your friend, was you learned a little bit more about your biological father. I think you met a family friend who told you about this, I think.

FT: (...) When we first lived in Seattle (in a duplex) on Main Street (...), the other family there was a Shimamura or Shimomura. And they had two sons, Wataru and Yutaka, they were both my age. Yutaka was my age -- no, Wataru was my age. And we were very close as kids. And so, when we went (...) to L.A., (decided to) look up Wataru. I found him working in a public market. I don't know why I knew he was working there. I guess I had word that he was. So I found him. (...) He took me (...) to his house on Boyle Heights, and his mother (said), "(...) Your father's looking for you." I said, "My father?" (Said), "(A) Mr. Okamoto has an ad in the Rafu Shimpo asking about you." And I (asked), "What was he doing that for?" And she (said), "Well, it seems (...) he got (a) draft notice from the (Japanese) army and he was looking for (you)." (...) Then she told me that he had a restaurant in (Tokyo) called the Olympic restaurant. That was the first time I heard about that. I thought that Tanabe, (...) my stepfather, was my (...) biological father.

TI: Oh, so this was a pretty big surprise to you then?

FT: Yeah, it was. I was surprised. So, when I went in the occupation --

TI: Well, before we go there, so when you first heard that Okamoto was your biological father, what did you think?

FT: Well, I don't know. Just, so what, type of thing. And I sort of forgot about it, and I never told my mother or anybody.

TI: So was that also the kind of the first time you realized that you were born in Japan?

FT: Yeah.

TI: At this point, you thought you were Nisei, that you were born in the United States.

FT: Yeah, right. First time. Yeah, because I didn't know why I would be getting a draft notice. Yeah, so, when I went into the occupation, I thought, "Hey, yeah, Olympic restaurant." And I had heard about it when I was in MIS Language School. One of my barrack mate (who) lived in Seattle until he graduated high school and (...) went to Japan, graduated (from) Waseda, and (...) came back to the U.S. and was living in L.A. when the war broke out. And he was (...) in the six-month class (at MISLS). They had two classes, six-month and nine-month.

TI: Right, so six-month were for the more advanced students.

FT: Yeah, people that had studied in Japan. But he lived in our barracks. So he would talk about his days (...) in Tokyo, (...). And he kept mentioning Olympic restaurant. (...) It was an American-style restaurant (and a gathering place for Nisei students in Tokyo).

TI: And Frank, I just want to clarify for people watching this, so we've now jumped after the war, occupation, you're in Tokyo and you're hearing about this, so keep going. So you're now, you hear about the Olympic restaurant. And then what happened?

FT: Yeah, he was saying that (...) the Americans, (...) Japanese Americans in Tokyo would gather at that Olympic restaurant, because it was an American-style restaurant. And so, when I got to Tokyo, I remembered (that) and Watson, Wataru's mother talking about it, so I looked him up. I went to the restaurant, and they told me he was (at) the factory (...) in Tsukiji. The main restaurant was on the Ginza.

TI: And before you talk about meeting him, what were you thinking? How did you feel about meeting him? Were you nervous about it or anything?

FT: Oh, I just was more curious than anything else. So I went there, and this guy (at the restaurant) said, "(He's) in the factory in Tsukiji," so he took me there. (When) we got there, he went upstairs and (then) the old man (came) down the steps. I met him for the first time. That factory was a confectionary (plant). They made the cakes and the confectionaries and so on for the restaurant.

TI: But as he came down the stairs and met you for the first time...

FT: Yeah, it was a two-story building.

TI: Do you recall what he said to you?

FT: I guess he said Shin-chan or (something) his name was (Sukenobu). (The character for "nobu" can also be read as "shin"). And so Shinichiro was the firstborn of Nobu, or Shin. (...) He took me home that day to his house, introduced me to his family and we had dinner (...).

TI: Did he ever talk about why he went back to Japan?

FT: No, I didn't (ask). No, all I know is that he and (a) couple of (others) that were in Seattle (at the time) went back with him and they started (...) the restaurant (and the other business, including a confectionary) that's very popular in Tokyo, oh, I can't think of the name. Well anyway, and then the other one (...) started up a restaurant called the White Castle (...). But they all went into business (...) that they learned while they were in the States.

TI: So it sounds like your biological father was quite successful as a restaurateur.

FT: He was doing real well. He had a couple of summer homes, one in Hakone, one in Chiba, (he sold the restaurant to) Kagoshima Bussan, a big (...) company that (supplied) the Japanese railways with their logs, what do they call them. So he had the honorary position of vice president of that company until he died. He had three daughters, Katsumi, Terumi, and Masami. And Masami, the youngest, married a very famous musician, his name was Yamamoto Naozumi, who was the instructor for what's his name... that famous conductor, Ozawa?

TI: Okay, I know who you're talking about.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: But going back to, so your biological father had three daughters, you were his only son?

FT: Huh?

TI: So you were his only son, is that...

FT: Yeah, so I'm the oldest son. His oldest son, yeah.

TI: And did he ever talk to you, did you guys stay in touch after you met him?

FT: After I met him? Yeah, we were in touch with the family, (too).

TI: So talk about your connections with your biological father. What else?

FT: Well... but his wife made me renounce any inheritance (...). She took me to the city registrar to renounce any interest or whatever it is (from) the Okamoto (Estate). So when he died I didn't get (anything). But Masami, the youngest, (said) that one night, she dreamt that her father came to her (...) her bedside and told her to go to America (...) and meet Shinichiro and give him something. So one day, I get a call, (...) I was retired in Seattle. I get a call from Masami saying, "I'm here (...) (in) SeaTac." (...) I told her (...) how to get to my place. And she (came), and she (...) has one brown paper bag. That's all she had. No luggage, (but) (...) She had a million yen. And she (...) told me that her father had come to her in her dreams (to give me my inheritance). So she got (the) million yen and came (to give the money to me). (...) She was going to leave on the next plane back to (...) Tokyo. Well, I (asked), "How the heck did you get through the customs?" She (said), (...) they stopped (her) when (she) was departing (...) Narita, and but she told them that she had written the music for Empress Michiko's lullaby. (...) They passed her through. So I told her I didn't want the money, (told her to) take it home." (She said she would but wanted to) change some of that to dollars and buy some clothes (...). So I took her to (...) Fredrick & Nelson, and she bought some clothes. And I told her (to) stay for three days (and) called Northwest (to reschedule her flight). She stayed three days and I took her around J-town (showing her) where we lived (and) the bathhouse and all that kind of (places) and all that. She was very excited, and (we went) to Bush Garden for a dinner. (...) She was very famous, she wrote the music for Michiko's lullaby (...). She was married to (...) Yamamoto Naozumi, who had an one-hour Here Comes the Orchestra program on NHK. And he had written music for a lot of movies (...). And they had two sons. Junnosuke and Yunnosuke. And Junnosuke is now following his father's footsteps and is (with) a symphony orchestra, I think he directed the Tokyo Symphony for awhile, and he's a musical teacher at one of the universities. And Yunnosuke is (...) famous (...), and he tours the country (giving) cello concerts.

TI: So I'm curious, that musical side, did you pick up any of that, the music side? Was that something that you grew up appreciating also?

FT: No, I had no idea.

TI: Okay. Well, that was a great story about your biological father.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Okay, so Frank, we're going to get going again on this interview. I want to sort of shift and go to December 7, 1941. And want to have you describe how you found out about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What were you doing? Where were you? So can you tell us about that?

FT: Well, actually, I was living at the Japanese Students Club. And I guess we were all playing cards or something in the living room, and the radio was on. And then when the announcement of Pearl Harbor came, everybody was (...) shocked. You could just hear a pin drop. And it was quiet almost throughout the announcement, the radio announcement, and it kept going on and on. And I think everybody was thinking about, "What's going to happen to us?" And, "What's my family going to do?" and so on. And most of the people left by the end of the day. They took off and went back home, White River Valley and Yakima, Wapato. Spokane and so on, until there was very few of us left. And we, we were sort of in a state of suspended animation. We didn't know what to do. And there was very little discussion or talk about... it was all contained within ourselves. Everybody was just thinking about themselves quietly, without talking to the other people. It was very quiet.

TI: And do you recall what you were thinking during this time?

FT: Well, I was thinking, of course, "Hey, what's going to happen?" since I was an alien, really. And I didn't know what to do. So I went to, we went downtown and met some of my classmates from Washington junior high and Broadway and in particular, one guy that I knew real well. (...) Anyway, and he (said he) and his family and friends (were) going (...) to Spokane (and invited me to go to Spokane with them. I told him) I'd like that (...). I didn't have any money to (...) move to Spokane (...). I stayed at the clubhouse. And when we wanted to leave the house (there was) a curfew (...). Some people from Chinatown, the Chinese, had (...) badges saying (they were) Chinese (...), and they'd invite us (...) to go out with them to Chinatown. So they'd drive us down to Chinatown and we'd go to some (club) and have a drink (...). They said (not to) worry, if (we) got caught by the cops, (we) can (...) show them the badge and tell 'em (we're) a Chinese.

TI: That's because you were violating the curfew by going out and staying past, what, eight o'clock?

FT: That's about the only thing we did. Rest of the time we just stayed in the clubhouse and played cards.

TI: Now, during this time, did you ever consider going to Montana?

FT: No, because that's the funny part. (...) The family (had) returned to Seattle on 1 December. And they lived in a small apartment on Eleventh and Spruce. So they were back in Seattle then, but I stayed at the clubhouse.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And so when the orders came to be removed to Puyallup, so your family was caught up in that, too, so they had to go.

FT: They went (to the assembly center) earlier than we did. Well, see, they started the evacuation by streets or avenue, (and those) closest to the waterfront went first (...). And we were the last ones (to leave in the) university area. So we were the last ones. And there was five of us (...).

TI: Before you go to your removal, I'm curious, during this time, were you aware of what Gordon Hirabayashi was doing? He was another UW student.

FT: No, I don't think so.

TI: 'Cause I think he was staying at the Y. And so he wasn't staying with the Japanese students.

FT: He wasn't with us.

TI: Okay, I was just curious.

FT: No, we didn't know him. Anyway, so we were the last ones (to enter the assembly center). I don't know how we got down to the bus station, but anyway we got (to) "Camp Harmony" (...). And when we reported into register, the authorities, I don't know if it was Caucasian or Japanese Americans, but anyway they (pointed out we were just five) bachelors (and asked if we would like to) go down to Tule (Lake) and open (...) the camp. The rest of (the people) will (follow) when it's completed. So the five of us (went). I think we were in "Camp Harmony' maybe overnight. (We joined a group of about twenty others). I think Tom Ueno was the group leader, (I was assigned) the liaison between (...) the group in Tule and (those) in "Camp Harmony." So we went (...) and we lived in Block 4 (...) and Block 5, right next to the admin building.

TI: So let me make sure, so you went down to Tule Lake, this was before anyone else went there, because people, a lot of people went to Pinedale Assembly.

FT: We didn't know anything about that.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So you went to Tule before it was opened.

FT: We opened it really. So we were the first ones there.

TI: And why don't you describe what was there. What did it look like?

FT: Well, there was a lot of barracks under construction (...). They were clearing some of the roadway, what they call firebreaks or whatever it was. And we worked closely with the admin people. So I got the job of writing whatever (was) going on and sending it (...) to "Camp Harmony." And (...) in talking to the admin people, that's what they told us, was this is going to be one experiment in social living. And we'll see how it all (turns out). So to us, to me, especially, it wasn't so much incarceration (and) we were (helping) these people. I think (they) were recruited out of universities (...). They were academic types, not military (...). And we got on real famously and they told us that (they were) conducting an experiment in social living.

TI: So when you say "experiment in social living," when they said that, what did that mean to you? What kind of...

FT: It was like the living we did in the clubhouse. Help each other out, (do) the jobs that we had to do, like housecleaning, or KP, or whatever.

TI: So when you say experiment, it's almost, so everyone would chip in and work and do things, almost like a commune type or socialist --

FT: Commune, yeah, social living. So, yeah. And...

TI: And when you heard this, what did you think? Did that make sense to you?

FT: Well, it made sense in that (...) we're going to be evacuated from the West Coast military zone, but well, so what? So now, we're going to be part of an experiment in social living, I guess. (It was an attempt to rationalize the evacuation to make it palatable for us.)

TI: So was part of this experiment to try and break down kind of the, like back in the community, some people would have more money than others, they'd have better houses, better jobs. Was the, again, was this experiment in social living trying to change all the dynamics?

FT: I guess that's what they were thinking. I don't know what, exactly what they were thinking about -- how they were going to conduct this whole thing. They were in charge of the camp.

TI: And so when they told you that, why do you think they told you that? What kind, what were they looking from you?

FT: I don't know. As friend to friend, one individual to another, not as a captive and guards or anything like that, we're working together.

TI: And so, when you think about some of the things that happened at Tule Lake, were there some innovative things that they implemented that was kind of this, part of this social experiment?

FT: After the camp opened up, (we get) people from Sacramento and San Francisco, and nobody from (Seattle). Well, there's one guy (...) from Auburn, California, right outside of Sacramento. And he went to work (in the) farm area. And he told me (Tule) had the largest farm in all of California (...) -- more hens laying eggs, and (larger) vegetable fields. He was real proud of it. (...) Every morning, (he would look over the farm and say), "Here's my farm. It's the biggest (...) in California." He wasn't thinking about being interned or incarcerated.

TI: But when he got into camp, so who took care of his farm? What happened to his farm?

FT: (I don't know, but) they had, like I was working in the newspaper, these guys were working on the farm.

TI: Oh, I see what you're saying. So when he says the biggest farm in California, he was talking about Tule Lake.

FT: Yeah, Tule Lake farm.

TI: The Tule Lake farm was the biggest farm in California. I see.

FT: Yeah, that was outside the camp grounds. It was, yeah, he was so proud of it.

TI: I see, okay. I misunderstood earlier.

FT: He wasn't thinking about being interned, an internee or anything like that. He was a farmer. Here was, his living was a farmer in Auburn, and here he is now, he's part of this whole big project.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And why don't you talk about what you did. What was your role?

FT: Well, I was a... at first I was writing little notes on the progress of what the camp, the building of the camp and so on. But after a while, I started a mimeograph-type newsletter and called it the Tulean Dispatch. And I had a little crew, typists and stenographer and a couple of guys that wrote, reporters.

TI: And so Frank, were you the one that set this up?

FT: Yeah.

TI: So what made you decide to start this?

FT: Well, sending (reports) to "Camp Harmony," I (thought), "Why don't I (...) do (this) for the whole camp?"

TI: So talk about some of the stories or articles that were important to write at that point.

FT: Well, we got a lot of releases from the authorities on the progress of other camps and so on. We wrote about camp activities (...), and announcements of various kinds, official and unofficial, gossips and (...) sports. We started inter-block sports, or intra-community sports. People from Seattle (...) formed a softball team and we challenged people from Sacramento, Marysville (and other areas). And we had weekly dances. (...) Every block had a community hall. One barrack was sort of a community hall. And we'd decorate it and we'd bring records and (...) we always appointed a chaperone, an older couple from that area. And we did all kinds of things like that.

TI: But let's go back to the newspaper. Because starting a newspaper is a pretty big undertaking.

FT: It was just a mimeograph sheet.

TI: And so this was distributed throughout the camp. And how was it received?

FT: We got letters from people, or comments from people, saying they didn't like that article. [Laughs] Or they did like it. Or they'd say, "Hey, how about reporting on so-and-so."

TI: So just like a regular newspaper. So letters to the editor, you'd have to reply, all those things. Anything that was controversial that you had to deal with?

FT: Well one controversy was the criticism of the food in the kitchen and the cooks and so on. And they got mad.

TI: So this was an article that you wrote, or someone wrote in the paper?

FT: Yeah, somebody wrote in saying, "Hey, the food is lousy," and all that stuff, and we just reported it. [Laughs]

TI: And so the cooks got mad, then what happened?

FT: They came up to us and well, they tried to crucify us. [Laughs] And so I had to write a response.

TI: I think we have copies of that, I think I have a couple.

FT: And then in the fall, they recruited people to go out to harvest. So I left camp in September, or October, and went to Idaho to pick apples. Other people went to pick sugar beets and that was hard work, so I said, "No, I don't want to do that." So I picked apples. And when I left, Howard Imazeki, who was editor of the (...) (Hokubei Mainichi) English section, (...) took over as (...) editor. And, incidentally, when I went to the occupation of Japan and worked for ATIS in the press section, who was there? Howard.

TI: So it's a small world. You keep running into people.

FT: (...) He was a civilian employee. (...) I think he was a Kibei, (...) so he was really well-versed in Japanese. But anyway, he was working in ATIS when I got there.

TI: So after you picked apples up in Idaho, then what happened?

FT: Then I went back after the apple season was over, (...) to Tule. And I taught at the high school literature, for about a couple of months, two months maybe. And then I decided to go to Minidoka.

TI: Who were you teaching that literature to? The high-school kids?

FT: Yeah, Tule Lake High School.

TI: So you were just literally, just a couple years older than some of these people.

FT: Yeah.

TI: How was that? How was teaching, was it hard, or was it pretty easy?

FT: Oh, it was easy. It was just conversation type thing, you know. I'd talk about various literature, works of literature and stuff like that.

TI: Now, did you have the actual books for the students to read?

FT: No, I didn't. I just did it all off of memory and what I'd learned at the U and so on.

TI: Wow, so that's probably hard to teach a literature course when they haven't read the literature.

FT: Yeah, it was more a conversation, talking to the students. They'd ask questions. Anyway, and then I went to Minidoka, I think it was in (February) '43.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And why did you want to go back, or go to Minidoka?

FT: Well, I'm a bachelor going wherever I wanted to go. [Laughs] So I wanted to go to see Minidoka. So I went. And I worked for Jackson Sonoda (on) the Minidoka Irrigator newspaper.

TI: And so I want to ask you, so you spent a few months at Tule Lake, and then you go to Minidoka. What differences could you see between the camps?

FT: Well, the differences was that Minidoka was all my friends from Seattle. It was coming back -- going back -- to your own community. Whereas, Tule Lake was all Sacramento people and San Francisco people. We were all strangers until we met and it's not like going back to your own community where you see people walking down the street, "Hey. I haven't seen you (for a while)."

TI: How about in terms of running the camp, were there differences in administration between Tule Lake and Minidoka?

FT: See, I worked for the Irrigator, but I wasn't really into it. And so I made friends with (...) the admin people, and especially the chaplain. The chaplain would say, "Hey, let's go into Twin Falls," and he'd take me into Twin Falls with him (...). So I got to know (him) pretty well, (and) people in the admin. I was closer to them than the people working at the Irrigator. But there was Cherry Kinoshita, and let's see, who else was there? No, Bob Hosokawa had left by then. I don't know, several people. I think at the Wing Luke museum there's a picture of the Irrigator staff and I'm (...) in there.

TI: So going back to your experiences with the Minidoka administration, how would you describe them? Who were some of the people?

FT: I can't even remember their name. I can't even remember the chaplain's name and he used to take me, he'd say, "C'mon, Frank. Let's go into town." I can't even remember his name.

TI: But can you remember how they thought about Japanese Americans and what they were doing? You ever talk about those things?

FT: No, not very (well).

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

FT: So anyway, and then I got this job from the American Library Association (in Chicago, and) I left in May. They gave me a bus ticket (to Chicago).

TI: And how did you get this job?

FT: I think in the admin, they had a recruiting office or something that had job offers (...). So you go (...) there and (you apply and receive a) bus ticket and got to Chicago and reported into the WRA office in Chicago, which was headed by Elmer Shirrell. Mr. Shirrell was the first director of Tule Lake.

TI: Oh, so you recognized him.

FT: I knew him right away. So that night, he took me home for dinner (...). Yeah, so I knew Mr. Shirrell. He later became vice president of Curtis Candy. They hired a lot of people out of the camps, including a guy named Maeda (...). (He became an) assistant to Shirrell at Curtis Candy. (...) I got the job in Chicago (...) before I left, (because you had to have) a job before (you) left. (A) John Tanaka and I left camp on a bus and we got to Chicago and stayed at the YMCA until (we) met some other guys from Seattle (who) were batching in a rented house on (Maple) Street. And there was, it was an apartment house (...), and they had about three or four rooms that were occupied by relocates. And we batched, and I walked to work (...). The American Library (Association) was on Michigan (Avenue), right across from the Tribune (tower). It was in McGraw Hill Building. And the last time I visited there last year (2007), I couldn't find the place. But anyway, I worked there.

TI: And what was your job with the American Library Association?

FT: I was copywriting and proofreading (...). (The) boss was a guy named English. I don't know what his (first) name was. And the job that I took -- my predecessor was (Hayakawa's) wife, Peters, I guess her name was. Yeah, you know (...) S.I. Hayakawa (...).

TI: Yes, so S.I. Hayakawa's wife.

FT: Senator. Yeah, his wife was my predecessor. And when I left, my job was taken over by Mrs. Michener.

TI: The James Michener?

FT: James Michener, the author.

TI: So you were sandwiched by these prominent individuals.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

FT: And I don't know how I got stuck in the army, but one day (it) was, in December, (...) I remember being at the induction center (in Chicago) and spending the whole day (...) taking this test and that test and so on.

TI: But were you, were you drafted? Is that why you went there?

FT: How could I be drafted if I was a 4-C?

TI: That's why I'm curious, how you got there. So then you were volunteering?

FT: Maybe I volunteered. I must have volunteered.

TI: Okay, so you're there getting all your tests.

FT: And so, the last step (...) was psychological, I think it was. And I passed that and (was directed to) three desks (...). Marines had the first pick that day, and then the Navy and (...) the Army. So I went to the Marine desk and (was told to) pick up (...) threads (of) different (colors) and put 'em in (...) piles. Pinks and (...) reds (purples). And I couldn't do it. And then (I was given) a chart that had a lot of (colored) dots in it, and (asked), "What number's in there?" So I (flunked that and was referred to as being colorblind.) (...) So I went to the Navy and the (sailor) looked at me and he said, "(...) we can use you." And he stamped "Navy" on my wrist and (told me to) report to Great Lakes" (the) next day. And (ordered me) to the Army and tell them that the Navy took me. So I went to the Army and the (soldier asked me whether I was) Japanese American. And (when) I said, "Yeah," said, "(...) We got a directive from the War Department (directing) all Japanese Americans (to) go to Camp Savage, to the Military Intelligence (Language) School." So he (told me to, "Go back to the Navy and tell them you can't go," that the Army had taken you (...).

TI: So did the army guy test you at all for Japanese?

FT: No, he just looked at me.

TI: Did he ask you if you could speak Japanese?

FT: No (...).

TI: So at this point, he was saying all Japanese Americans are going to Savage.

FT: Yeah, that's what, I guess the directive (said). So I went back to the Navy guy, said (he should look at) the War Department directive. (The Army told me, "You can report to Fort Sheridan tomorrow, (...) or take a leave." I (chose a leave). He (told me to) report in thirty days (and) gave me a (train) ticket, and told me to get to Fort Sheridan the next month (...). So I, I took the leave. I had quit my job so I had to find (work). I found one in a warehouse (...). It was a big warehouse with a lot of Niseis working (there.) (...) I worked there for twenty days. (...) I heard (later my name was on a big board as an employee now in service).

TI: You mean this was the board at Minidoka?

FT: (No, at) this warehouse in Chicago.

TI: Oh, at the warehouse, I see. And you don't remember the name of the warehouse or what kind of warehouse?

FT: It was a big warehouse. McClure, or something like that, (...) near the Navy Pier. Anyway, (...) I went to Fort Sheridan, and then (...) a haircut and (baggy uniform and was put) on latrine duty for three days. During that time, another Nisei came, George Yamaguchi from Southern Cal, (...) Orange County. I don't know what camp he came out of. But anyway, so the two of us were there and then we (went) on a train and went to Minneapolis where we were met by people from Savage, thirty miles south (...). So then went to Camp Savage and started school.

TI: And then earlier you mentioned that they had two classes. They had the six-month and the nine-month.

FT: We got in the nine-month course.

TI: Which one did you go into? Oh, nine-month. How did they decide? How did they test you?

FT: I don't know. I never did find out.

TI: Okay, Frank, so I'm going to have you move away from the microphone again.

FT: Oh, okay. So anyway, (a friend) was there (in) the six-month class. And there was a Kibei (also in the six-month class). But the rest of us were nine-month. And let's see, (...) Henry Date was (...) the only one from Seattle, the two of us (in our barrack).

TI: In terms of your serving at Savage, how long had Savage been in operation? Do you know like what class you were in, in terms of, like how large was your class going in, that will give me a sense of how early it was.

FT: Oh, about twenty people (...) in a class. I don't know. But we weren't all in the same class. There were several classes. I think Date was in another class, but we were all in the nine-month course. And we had instructors like Tak Matsui (and) Ken Harano, (...) both from Seattle.

TI: Okay. So that gives me a sense.

FT: Yeah. And sometime just before graduation in September, the judge adjutant, (...) Major Walter Tsukamoto, (...) called me out of class. He (just said we were moving to) St. Paul, (...) didn't (...) tell me what we were going for. So we got in a jeep and took off and went to St. Paul, (to) the federal court. (But the major) didn't say anything (about) what was happening. So I went to court and the judge (ordered me to raise my) right hand. I raised my right hand and he (...) gave me the oath, and I (replied). He (then) said, "(...) You're a citizen now." Then we went back to (Savage).

TI: Were there anyone, any other people also getting citizenship?

FT: No, just he and the major and I and the judge, that's all.

TI: Probably there were times when you were going through training or at MIS, you thought that, or realized that you were a Japanese citizen.

FT: No, I didn't even think about that.

TI: Oh, you didn't even think about that.

FT: I didn't even think about that, no. So I didn't know what was happening, and (the major) never told me.

TI: So, they must have looked through the records and realized that they had to do this.

FT: All of a sudden, yeah.

TI: That if you were going to be serving, you had to be a U.S. citizen.

FT: That was September 7th, '44. And then in October, we went (...) to Fort McClellan for basic, in the next month.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And then what happened after you finished your basic?

FT: And then we came back and were -- we stayed at what (was) called (the) Turkey Farm (at) Fort Snelling and waited for assignment. And one day, they (told us), "(...) You're going to CBS," and so we got on a train (and went) from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, (and boarded) a liberty ship (...). It was a long, long trip because we left L.A. and we were north of Hawaii (when) we got (...) changed (orders). We were supposed to land on the China coast and set up a radio station. We had a whole company of rangers on board the ship and boy, they were all master sergeants. And every day they were on (...) deck exercising. And we were down in the hold, KP, you know. But anyway, they said, they changed (...) signals, and now (we would go) to India. So then (we turned) south (...) to Melbourne, and then (...) Freemantle and (...) to Calcutta. (...) It was a long voyage (...). And then when we got to Calcutta, (we were) put (...) in a camp and they (for) some jungle training for (...) a week. [Laughs]

TI: And at that point, did you know what kind of, what you were going to be doing?

FT: No.

TI: And how many other MIS?

FT: There was about fifteen of us (...). And (...) when we got (there), and (after jungle) training in Calcutta, Tosh Taniguchi and Hiro Nishimura, who were already (in the theater), came down (...) New Delhi to welcome me.

TI: They heard that you were with this group.

FT: Yeah, so they came down.

TI: So these are other Seattle...

FT: They came (...) to see me. Tosh is my brother-in-law (...). So then we went to New Delhi and (...) we were (made into) two-man teams, one (good in) English and (then one in) Japanese. (...) So I got a guy named George Kako, who was good in Japanese. So he'd read (the captured documents and translate them), and I'd (do the) English (draft). (...) And then we got orders to go to Kunming, we flew the hump to Kunming. (There, George and I were) assigned to Peiping (...). But all the other (teams) were assigned to (other) Chinese cities, metropolitan areas and so on. (And soon, we were the only team there). (We) got word from the Chinese combat command that the Communists had taken (...) Peiping and they didn't want any Americans there. So (we were told to go) to Nanking. (...) Then we were in Nanking for about a month (...).

TI: So when you were in Nanking, did you see--

FT: Matsumoto?

TI: Well, not so much that, but in terms of, so this was after the Japanese had been there.

FT: Yeah, we went (...) into Nanking to help with the surrender, the Japanese surrender to Chiang Kai-shek.

TI: So what, what, because you hear about the "Rape of Nanking," how horrendous it was. Did you see any examples of that, or not examples, or remnants of that?

FT: Yeah. When we got to Nanking, (at) all the major street corners (and) intersections, were Japanese soldiers directing traffic, Japanese soldiers with (...) rifles and their grenades (...). (And all the buildings were riddled with bullet holes).

TI: So this is after the surrender.

FT: This is during the surrender.

TI: During the surrender.

FT: During and after the surrender.

TI: So you had armed Japanese soldiers at every --

FT: Yeah, and our barracks was (in) one of the (former) Japanese language schools, (...) -- Japanese primary school was our barracks. And right over the fence (...) was a Japanese garrison. And whenever we went to (go into downtown we went in) groups and (carried) our carbines (...). We'd go to a Japanese restaurant and the next table (...) would be a bunch of Japanese drinkin' away, yelling and (singing). (We heard them wondering about our) American uniforms. (...) We could understand them talking. (But we went) into shops that are held by Japanese still there, and (one photography shop they wanted held because they wanted back rent) for all the years they'd been in there. And then another family, (claimed that), when (then) heard that the Japanese army had lost the war," they threw their treasure, katana, household treasures in the river (and asked us to) help (...) find it. [Laughs]

TI: So who, were these the Chinese?

FT: (No), Japanese.

TI: Japanese that were asking.

FT: They were still there. And so (...) our job was easy. We'd go up on (...) the Japanese Embassy roof, George and I, and (...) count the number of trucks going out (...) loaded with soldiers and their equipment and (...) all the empty trucks coming back (...).

TI: Do you have a sense, what was the mood of the Japanese soldiers during this time?

FT: Oh, they were pretty nice. And then they rounded up all the Japanese civilians, and put them in (a) camp. And so, we'd go (...) there (and) talk to them (...). And they'd tell us about, like "I threw my sword (into that river), can you go and find it for me?" "Oh, (the) former owner of the place wants money." I talked to them, yeah.

TI: How about the Chinese? Did you see any reaction of the Chinese towards the Japanese, now that the Japanese had lost?

FT: (We) didn't notice anything, except (some) Chinese would talk about the "Rape of Nanking." And you could see bullet holes in the walls and (buildings).

TI: So you didn't see any anger towards the Japanese?

FT: Well, yeah. When you talked to them, (you sensed) they were angry. Especially, the "Rape of Nanking" was really terrible (...). And one restaurant we went to was a Chinese restaurant. They told us that, when the Japanese come in, (they) serve them cat and dog (meat). They don't know what they're eating. [Laughs]

TI: Wow, so that was quite an experience.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: And then eventually, you made your way to Tokyo?

FT: No, (...) we were in Nanking for about a month. Then (we were told to go to Shanghai). So we went to Shanghai, but I got (sick).

TI: Malaria?

FT: (A touch of) malaria. And I had a hundred and something temperature and (...) so George (...) took me to the YMCA and (...) looked after me for three days, until my fever went away. And (when) we reported into headquarters, (the commander accused us as being (AWOL). And as punishment, (ordered us) to Japan for Occupation. So we took the next place over (...) to Okinawa, en route to Japan. We got to Okinawa (and were) bumped off the plane. And we stayed there (...) one week (waiting for a flight to Japan). Finally, we got on a plane to (...) Tachikawa. (After we were trucked to our billets), the old finance building (in Tokyo). (...) The next day we reported to ATIS (in) the NYK building (and) I was a staff sergeant. (...) (I was ordered to take a) language team to the 77th (Infantry) Division. (...) George (went) to Taiwan. (...) It was the last time I ever saw him. We worked together so closely all that time, and they split us. (...)

TI: And they split you because they needed your experience to kind of manage or look over other teams, is that why?

FT: I don't know. (I was told to) be the sergeant in charge of the language team. (I had six in my team).

TI: And were they all kind of more newer recruits?

FT: (...) They were (...) from later --

TI: Classes?

FT: Later classes. They came straight from the mainland. Then the thing (that) made us, 'peed' us off was that we had, like I was a staff sergeant already, (...) these (people from classes after us also) went to the Philippines (came) for the occupation in the Philippines, (...) got field commissions, (...) were second lieutenants. They (came) to Japan (as officers because) MacArthur (wanted) to make the Nisei look good to the Japanese. Well, (...) the people from (CBI were ignored) because we weren't supposed to go (to Japan). (...) We were eligible to go (...) home (to) get discharged. We had enough points.

TI: Just for three days, when you were sick with malaria, you had to do this. But then that gave you time in Tokyo.

FT: Yeah, so we got to (Japan and) I took a team to Sapporo (...). Assigned to the (77th) Division. And (...) since I was (team leader), I was an interpreter for the general. And (the) other (men were) assigned to other (...) jobs, translating and stuff like that. One of the interesting things was that our general (...) would sit down with (his) Japanese (...) counterpart (...). They'd meet and I'd sit with the general and I'd be his interpreter. And across the table (would be) the Japanese general and his interpreter. Well, sometimes, I'm not that good in Japanese, and so I'd stutter and mutter and (the Japanese interpreter) would help me. And I learned that his name was Yoshio Tanaka. He was a Hawaiian Nisei, (ith the) nickname, Kaiser (...). And he was a catcher for the Hanshin Tigers in prewar (Japan's professional baseball).

TI: So he was caught in Japan and then conscripted into the...

FT: During the war. He was there before the war playing professional baseball.

TI: And so he served in the Japanese army.

FT: I don't know if he served in the Japanese army, but he was there, sitting as (an) interpreter. And then later, he became the Japanese director of all the (...) Japanese concessions (in the military PX system). (...)

TI: So that sounds like kind of an interesting job, interpreting for --

FT: And then I got hepatitis, so I was in the hospital. This was in May ('46), and (...) when I came out of the hospital, the 77th had deactivated, and the 11th Airborne had come in. And so I was assigned to the 11th Airborne Special Troops. And they wanted me to stay on, in fact, they offered me a commission to stay on. I said (that I was) going home." So I went (to) the replacement depot (...) in Camp Zama, near Tokyo. I went there to get (...) transportation back home. (While) I was waiting there, (...) a bunch of guys from Tokyo came (and told me there were good jobs for civilians in) ATIS (...) in Tokyo. (They said the job rated officer treatment. And so I (went with them) to Tokyo (...) where you take a test. (...) (And was accepted as a Department of the Army civilian).

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So at that point did they discharge you, or...

FT: (I got my discharge) at Camp Zama and then I went to work for ATIS in Tokyo.

TI: How long did you have that job?

FT: I worked for (ATIS) ten years (...) in the press, press section. What we did was we got the galley (proofs of the morning editions of) the major newspapers in the evening. (...) And we get the galley copies and we'd translate that. We had a bunch of (Japanese) translators (and we'd check the) language. And then there's another group that took it over and they worked it into a brief for the (GHQ) staff. So that they'd have a copy of the translations of the morning papers when the papers went out locally. And among the translators, we had one guy named Higashi (who) was a Canadian Nisei from Vancouver (that) was the first Japanese reporter to cover the Korean War. And after (that), he became office manager of (...) Associated Press (in Tokyo). (...) He also was the simultaneous translator for the Diet, official Diet translator. And then there was one guy named Jack Yamasaki from Seattle. His father ran a chili parlor on Jackson Street between Twelfth and Fourteenth. (...) We (also) had couple from Brazil (working for us). It was a very interesting crowd. (Narr. note: We worked the swing shift from four to midnight).

TI: And this was all supported by the U.S. Army. You were civilians but working for the army.

FT: Yeah, and one of the guys that was doing the language checking was Howard Iwazeki from Tule Lake. [Laughs] So after work at midnight, we'd go home together and we'd drop in at these little drinking places, sake places -- have oden and sake.

TI: So it was a fun time?

FT: Yeah, fun time.

TI: Well, eventually you became a family man, though, right?

FT: Yeah.

TI: So talk about meeting your wife. How did that happen?

FT: Oh, well, that was sort of a family-related thing. Family knew each other back, way back. And then after ten years, oh, before that, I used to drop in at (...) International News Service, INS, the Tokyo Bureau and do some work for them. (When they asked me to work full time), I left (...) federal service in '55 or '56 (...). I worked for ten years. And (...) went to work for (INS) as a full-time staff reporter.

TI: And where was this? Where did you go?

FT: International News Service, Tokyo Bureau.

TI: So still in Tokyo, okay.

FT: Yeah.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

FT: Yeah, and one of the biggest stories the we covered was the Gerard Trial. And I was lucky because I was looking through the Japanese paper, the Yomiura Shimbun. We were on the fifth floor of the Yomiura Shimbun, our bureau office. I was looking through the (newspaper), and I saw (a small) article about (an) incident in a camp in Gunma Prefecture, in which a soldier (...) shot a Japanese woman. So I picked that up and sent it in on the teletype back to the States. And that (incident) grew (...). Other people picked it up and so what happened (...), I can't remember the name of the (...) army camp (with) a firing range. (A soldier shot a woman dead. The story was that PFC) William Gerard was left to guard the equipment while the others went to lunch. And the Japanese would come and pick up the cartridges. (...) And this lady was picking cartridge, and Gerard picked up a bunch (...) and threw (them) at her and (told her there were more shells). And (she) came towards him, (...) he picked up his rifle and shot her (...) dead. And so, it (became) a big, big dispute about jurisdiction (...). And even went up to the Supreme Court, (...) decided it was a Japanese jurisdiction. Gerard's family hired one of the (best) tort lawyers, the famous one, the real famous one, what was his name? Anyway, he came and represented Gerard and they also had a Japanese lawyer, Hayashi, that (also) represented Gerard. Hayashi made (...) one of the camp girls (...) marry Gerard. Yeah.

TI: I'm sorry, who married Gerard?

FT: Yeah, Hayashi arranged a marriage for Gerard, (with) a Japanese girl.

TI: Why was that?

FT: Oh, for public opinion and whatever (...). Anyway, (this trial was) in Mayabashi, Gunma Prefecture. It's an hour away from Tokyo. And so, I would represent INS and since I understood Japanese, I'd go with a couple of reporters, and we'd cover the trial. The day that the judgment came through, he was (found) guilty (and) sentenced to three years with probation (for) five years. (...) And so, I'm the first guy out of (the court) with that. And the Asahi Shinbun had a big picture of me coming out of the courtroom jumping (...) over the steps with (my arms) up. I ran to the phone and called in and said, "Guilty. Three years. Probation five."

TI: So you had this great picture of you doing this.

FT: Yeah, it was in the Asahi magazine. Anyway, so, we beat all the other (news agencies) by twenty minutes into San Francisco. But by the time the news got (...) to New York, we were behind. I don't know what happened, but we beat the others, AP and UP, by twenty minutes into San Francisco. (...) The prosecution had two weeks to decide on whether to appeal (...). And so I decided that I better start working again, so every day I'd go down to the (...) prosecutor's office and talk to them. And I finally got them to give me their decision one hour before the others. So I got it one hour before the others. (But that I would not report the decision until five minutes before the noon announcement.)

TI: So you scooped the other guys.

FT: And so then you know what happened, INS and UP merged. And became UPI, United Press International, and so I decided it was about time to go home to Seattle.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Okay, so Frank, I'm going to jump ahead now, 'cause we're kind of running out of time. And your, yesterday, there was a ceremony at the University of Washington to give honorary degrees to Japanese Americans, you know, Nikkei who were at the University of Washington in 1941.

FT: '41 and '42.

TI: And so you're here in Seattle for this. And I wanted to ask you what it meant to you to be presented this honorary degree.

FT: What?

TI: What it meant to you.

FT: Oh. Well, like I told the interviewers, when I learned that I was going to get a diploma from the university, I called my son, Ike, in Boise. I said, "What am I going to do with a diploma? I'm not going to be sending out resumes anytime soon." So he says, "Well, why don't you hang it on the wall," along with his, and his sister's, each of whom double-dipped in diplomas, (...) the diploma to be earned by his daughter who was finishing up her second year on campus. And he said, "The wall will be lined with diplomas of three generations of the family from UW."

TI: And so that was a good reason to do it then for you?

FT: Yeah, I guess so.

TI: Well, in addition to the diploma, yesterday I was talking to Secretary Norman Mineta, and he mentioned your name, because he got a phone call from someone.

FT: From Barbara.

TI: Yeah, from your daughter about it. And apparently, you've been acknowledged several places. Can you tell me where else?

FT: Well, I got a certificate of commendation from the Hawaii State legislature. And I got a letter from Senator Inouye (and Honolulu mayor Hanneman).

TI: So this has turned out to be a big thing? A lot of people acknowledging.

FT: Yeah, I don't know, I thought I was the only one from Hawaii, but then I learned later there was a John Sato from Hawaii. And John Sato was in the Japanese Students Club with me. And in fact, I met him in Hawaii.

TI: And that's the, so I know his brothers Frank and Bob. Frank and Bob Sato are his brothers, I think.

FT: Yeah, and John, yeah.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: So you mentioned your son and one of your daughters. Can you just tell me your family and all your kids?

FT: Yeah, well, I have a, the oldest son's Roger. He (...) never went to college (but served in Vietnam, and) he had all kinds of jobs. I heard later that he had taught in (Iran) and stuff like that, English in (Iran). But now he runs a physical fitness center in Honolulu.

TI: Okay, so Roger, and then who else?

FT: (...) And then there's Barbara with a public relations firm. And (...) Irene, you know her.

TI: In Seattle, yes.

FT: A judge, pro-temp. And then Ike, he's a physician in Boise.

TI: Okay.

FT: Yeah, so Barbara has a communications diploma and an MBA. Irene has one in physical ed. and lawyer, juris prudent. Ike has one in business and med.

TI: So that's when you said double-dipping. So they have double --

FT: All of them, yeah. Ike, when he got out of business, he was working for GAO. And he decided to go med, and so then he took his MEDSAT and got in. And did his intern in Boise, and in Tampa. And then he (returned) to Boise (...). He's now working (as) a partner in a digestive (health) clinic.

TI: Good, so we're kind of winding down, I wanted to know do you have anything else you'd like to say or, or tell us to end this interview? In terms of maybe something you want to say to your grandchildren or something, or what would you like to say?

FT: Well, I've got five grandchildren, three boys and two girls. And (we're) closest to the two girls because we took care of them in Boise, the five years that (we lived) in Boise. See, (we) retired to Seattle (and) lived here ten years, and then Ike said, "Hey, you guys are getting pretty old, come (...) to Boise and I'll take care of you." So we went to Boise for five years. But it got so cold in the winters (...) we decided to take Barbara's offer (to live) in Hawaii, so (we) moved to Hawaii. And we've been there for the last seven years.

TI: And when you come back to Seattle, how does it feel? Because this is where you were kind of born and raised.

FT: Oh, sure.

TI: What does Seattle feel like to you?

FT: Oh, it's home, really. First thing I do is walk the waterfront. And have my fish and chips and clam chowder at Steamer's. I like to climb the steps to Pike Place Market. I used to walk all over Seattle. I used to walk along the lake from Mount Baker (to) Madrona and then take the bus (to) Beacon Hill, (where we lived). I'd walk (from) Beacon Hill, (...) down the waterfront to Seattle Center and sometimes I'd walk the other way down Rainier Avenue to (the) end of the trolley lines. Yeah, all over.

TI: Okay, well, Frank, thank you so much for doing this interview. I know it took a lot of work for you to do this in Seattle, so I appreciate it.

FT: Yeah.

(Additional information provided by the narrator: After I returned to Seattle, following the merger of INS and UP in 1958, I worked about a year at Boeing. I was then recruited to work in the Public Affairs Department of the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) in 1959 as an information specialist. After the islands were returned to Japan in 1972, I became the Public Affairs Officer of the Navy -- Commander, Fleet Activities / Naval Air Pacific Okinawa until my retirement from federal service in 1986. During the Occupation of Japan, I became friendly with a member of the royal family -- Prince Kuoni, elder brother of the Empress Nagako. At INS, I covered Bob Hope's Xmas Tour to Korea, interviewed Elizabeth Taylor, escorted movie stars, including Brando and Columnist Bob Considione. At USCAR-Okinawa, I covered President Eisenhower's stop-over on Okinawa while he was enroute to Korea.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.