Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tad Kuniyuki Interview
Narrator: Tad Kuniyuki
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Shin Yu Pai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 28, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ktad-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So Tad, the way I start this is, I just mention today's date, which is Tuesday, October 28, 2008, and we're at the Densho office. And I'm the interviewer, my name is Tom Ikeda, and then the other interviewer is Shin Yu Pai, and on camera, we have Dana Hoshide. And so, like we talked about earlier, this is just a conversation about your life. And so the first question I just want to ask you is, can you tell me when you were born?

TK: August 12, 1912. That's on my birth certificate.

TI: Good, and do you remember where? Where were you born?

TK: Oh, the address on there is 620 Weller Street.

TI: And so that's Seattle, Washington, so that's right in the Nihonmachi area.

TK: Yes.

TI: And do you remember, or did anyone tell you, were you born like at home, or at a hospital?

TK: That part I don't know. I think it was at the hospital, but I'm not sure.

TI: Okay, good. And then, your birth, when you were born, the name that your parents gave you at your birth?

TK: Tadashi.

TI: So Tadashi Kuniyuki. How about a middle name? Did you have a middle name?

TK: No.

TI: So when we look at your birth, how about your siblings, you know, brothers and sisters. Why don't you tell me who your, like your older brother and maybe the birth order of your siblings.

TK: What about them?

TI: Can you tell me the names of your brothers?

TK: Oh. Yukio was the oldest.

TI: And when was he born? Or how much older is he?

TK: Four years, 1908. And then Kaname was the second one, he was born 1910. Then I was born. Then my sister, she's four less than I am, Mariko. She's four less than I am, I think.

TI: So about 1916.

TK: Yeah. And there was another girl that was born later, but she died when she was three.

TI: And do you recall how she died?

TK: No, I have no idea.

TI: So you have, so you had two brothers and two sisters, one of who died when she was a baby.

TK: Yes, uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So, I'm curious, I want to ask about your father. Can you tell me your father's name and where he was born?

TK: Koju. K-O-J-U. He was, he was born in Agenasho, Japan. Agenasho, that's Yamaguchi-ken.

TI: And do you know what kind of work your father's family did in Japan?

TK: I think they were rice farmers. And I remember them, a visit, when we went to visit them. I remember them, had a lake full of, it's a small, we call it a pond, more like a pond full of goldfish. I don't know if they sold them or what, but I remember seeing them. I was only five years old, but it's in my mind. It was made so they could drain that whole pond out if they want to, and then they could fill it up again. So I think they were tending goldfish, too.

TI: And so, I'm unclear, so when they could drain the pond, was that to clean it out? Or did they need the water?

TK: I don't know. It didn't make a difference to me, I was only five years old. So when I went back, a few years back, my cousin showed me her pond full of goldfish. Great big goldfish in there, all kinds. So they were still continuing it, I guess. The pond was nothing like I had seen before. It was much more modern and everything else, the decorations and all that. So I think they did it for business.

TI: And so I'm curious, when... the goldfish -- I'm going to put this underneath your arm here [referring to microphone cord]. But when you, when people raise goldfish, do they raise it for food, or was it more for...

TK: No, not for food. This is for pets, I guess, I think, as far as I know.

TI: So your father's family were rice farmers, they also had this pond.

TK: I think, my mind is still, I think of orange orchard. And they had a boat, too, that they told me they shipped their oranges on a boat. They took it, I mean, they didn't ship, they took it themselves. But this was years and years ago, before they had all these roads, modern roads and everything. They used to take it by boat. 'Course, I was only a kid then, so, my memory isn't that good for it.

TI: So it sounds like your father's family were landowners and they had some assets. They had the pond, a boat, so they were fairly well-off in Japan.

TK: Gosh, I don't know. That part I have no idea, I was only a kid. When I went back, well, it seemed like they were doing okay, but I don't know. By then, they were retired, too, you know.

TI: Well, why did your father leave Japan to come to America?

TK: I have no idea. He never told me.

TI: How about in terms of his birth order? Was he like the oldest son, or did he have older brothers?

TK: I think he was second in line. I'm not sure. I have a list there, but I think he was second.

TI: Yeah, okay, what I read was that he had older brothers.

TK: Yes.

TI: And so in many cases, when you have older brothers, they tend to get the land, and then you're younger, so oftentimes, the younger sort of sons end up leaving, because it's easier.

TK: I know he had a younger brother because the younger brother was over here, too, my uncle.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about when he came to America. Now, did he first, do you know where he first came, or where he first landed?

TK: Yeah, I think he landed in Canada first. Then, I don't know how he got into the United States, but I know a lot of Japanese bachelors sneaked into the country, I don't know how they did it. But some of them jumped over, jumped ship, and came over. I heard of some, but I read about some in the Issei book, history book, it says in there, so I'm not sure how he came in. But I know he worked in a Canadian... what do you call this, a wood, shipyard, not shipyard.

TI: A sawmill?

TK: Sawmill. That's right.

TI: So he first landed in Canada, worked in a sawmill, and then somehow made his way down to Seattle.

TK: Yeah, he lost his finger, too, and they called him "one finger.:

TI: So explain that. When he was working in the sawmill, one of his fingers was cut off?

TK: Yeah, he lost his middle finger, tip of his middle finger. He said it really hurt then when they operated on it to lose the gap there.

TI: So he finally made it down to Seattle, do you know about what year your father came to Canada and the United States?

TK: Oh, probably 1905 or '06, around there.

TI: And do you know what kind of work he did in Seattle when he first arrived?

TK: I don't know, but all I can remember is he had a hotel and a barbershop.

TI: Okay. And how would you describe your father? What kind of man was he?

TK: I don't know. Just an ordinary fellow.

TI: Was he pretty talkative, or was he quiet?

TK: I think, I wouldn't say either quiet, he was not quiet. He liked to join associations, hotel association, barber's association, like that. And I know he wasn't quiet, but he wasn't loud either, as far as I know. Just another member, I think.

TI: How about leisure time? What were some of the things he did for fun, for pleasure? What would he do?

TK: Oh, gosh. I don't know. They enjoyed their association with the hotel association people and the Yamaguchi-ken group. They had these dinners and everything. And they had monthly meetings with, I think, barber's group or hotel association, I don't know which, I know, because he used to take me to these dinners every once in a while.

TI: Oh, so describe the dinner for me, I'm curious.

TK: It's just a group of about, as far as I can remember, about ten people that belonged to the association, barber's association, hotel association, or somebody. And then they had it at the Gyokoken, the Main Street, usually, they'd eat dinner. And I used to go there, he used to take me because I liked the Chinese food. That's as far as I can remember. I don't know what they were saying, I was just a kid, and they're all talking Nihongo.

TI: When they were talking, was it more business-related, or was it more social?

TK: It, I think it was probably business because there were no women at all, so far as I can remember, it was just the men. And it's association meeting, I guess they had maybe a monthly meeting or something.

TI: And then after the business part was over, did they linger and maybe have a drink or something and relax or was it pretty business like?

TK: No, as far as I know, it was just a business meeting. They maybe discussed things later. But not too long, because I don't remember getting bored.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So we talked about your father, and now I have a sense of him. How about your mother? How, where was she born?

TK: She was born in Yamaguchi-ken, Japan, same town, as far as I know, yeah.

TI: So how did your father and mother decide to get married? How did that happen?

TK: I have no idea. They never told me, so I don't know.

TI: Do you know what kind of work your mother's family did in Japan?

TK: All I can remember is they raised silkworms and they had an orchard, grapefruit orchard, that's all I can remember about her family.

TI: And so they were also landowners, too. They had...

TK: I guess so, I don't know if they were actually owners of land or they rented it. I don't know that part.

TI: Okay. So in my notes here, I have your mother and father getting married about 1907 in Japan. That your father returned to Japan.

TK: I think it was my brother was born 1908. So yeah, I think so. Something in that area.

TI: So your father returned to Japan, married your mother, and then they came back to Seattle. And then they had, right away they started a family, Yukio was born in 1908. And so, with both your mother and father and starting a family with children, what kind of work did your mother do? Did she help the business?

TK: Yeah, no. She was with him all the time. I think she did a little haircutting, too, barbershop, yeah. Then we had a, as far as I can remember, she had several shops, not at one time, but alternately so, and some of them had a laundry section, so we did laundry, too, and she did a lot of the laundry work.

TI: And so when your mother helped your father, so your mother and father were working together, how about the children? What did you and your brothers, did you ever have to help out with any of the businesses?

TK: Oh yeah, I remember ironing sheets. We had a ironing machine to iron sheets. I remember doing a lot of sheets. I remember doing a lot of washing, too. It was a big washer, you don't scrub or anything, you just throw it in the machine. It's a big rolling type of washer. I remember that, but I can't remember much farther than that.

TI: So when you would do this kind of work, was this in addition to going to school that same day? Did you have to do, like, chores first, or how did that all work out?

TK: Gosh, I don't remember. Well, all during that time it was all mixed up, so I guess we did go to school and everything was done while, a lot of things were done while we were in school, and then what there was leftover, we did to help. I'm not quite sure.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So let's kind of just go back to now your life. And what were some of your earliest sort of memories of growing up in Seattle? What can you remember doing as a young boy? Like playing, where would you play?

TK: We used to play down where Uwajimaya's parking lot is now, on Fifth and Weller. And that used to be about four or five feet below the street level. There was an empty lot there and we made it into a baseball playground. And there was a whole bunch of kids, and we were called, we called ourselves the Seattle Indians, and we had a baseball team. And then there was a bunch of kids that lived on Dearborn Street area. We lived in the north side of Weller Street, and they lived on the south side of Weller Street. They called themselves the RF Giants. And we played baseball against each other.

TI: Where did these names come from? The Seattle Indians and the RF Giants? How'd you choose these names?

TK: Seattle Indians came from the Seattle professional team and then the RF Giants, I don't know. There used to be a comic strip called "A Regular Feller" something. And I think the RF was from that. That's all I can surmise from thinking about it. At that time, they would never tell us what the RF was. But anyway, we played against each other all the time.

TI: So describe how you would know when a game was going to start. Did you guys have a scheduled time that you would play?

TK: No, I guess we just happened to meet there. I don't know. I can't remember that part. But, those were, one was the Dearborn Street gang, and one was north of Dearborn. We were the RF, or we were the Seattle Indians.

TI: Now for instance, your team, did you have a coach, or did just the players --

TK: No, no coach or anything. We just got together, that's all.

TI: And then how about things like equipment? Who brought the balls, the bats, the mitts?

TK: Oh, most of us had our own stuff. The hardest thing was the ball. We used to use the old taped ball, the leather covering had been worn off, so we put tape on it. I remember throwing the taped balls around. But at first they were nice, new balls. But that's all I can remember about it.

TI: And you know, so I read someplace that your older brother was quite a good baseball player.

TK: Yeah, he played for high school, Broadway High School.

TI: So did he play with, in this Seattle Indians? Was he on that team, too, with you?

TK: No, no. He was four years older.

TI: Okay, so this was just your age group. So tell me how many kids were about your age when you played like this? How many kids were in the neighborhood that would play together?

TK: Gosh, I don't know. We both got almost, I don't know how many kids we had on our team. It didn't make much difference, nine or seven or whatever we played with. But there was a group, I don't know how we got assembled like that in separate groups. That part, I'm not sure. One of them just died recently, Sat Matsuda, and he was about the last one that I can remember. The others, they're all gone now as far as I know, remember.

TI: So you mentioned in this lot, this empty lot you played baseball. How about other sports? Did you play things like football and other things, or was it just baseball?

TK: No, at that time I can't remember playing any other sport, just baseball. Football, stuff like that, came much later, I think. We may have thrown a football around, but I doubt it.

TI: And then in the wintertime when it would rain a lot and the lot would get all muddy, then what would you guys do?

TK: Gosh, I don't remember now. I can't remember what we did during the wintertime. I know that later on, if it froze up, we could go ice skating. There were all kinds of pond, oh, then there was a big pond behind the immigration building, today's immigration... the building wasn't there then, it was just a vacant lot with a great big pond on there. It was actually about four feet deep maybe. I fell in once and went over my head. But I was only a kid then, but I remember that part.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: You know, I'm curious about the girls during this period. So, it sounds like a lot of the boys played baseball. You had a younger sister that was, you know, four years younger, I'm curious, what did the girls do?

TK: She was in, my folks had sent her to Japan, so she was not here. So I really don't know what the girl did. We grew up without a girl in the family.

TI: And so girls your age, you didn't really know what they did?

TK: No.

TI: So let's talk about your younger sister. You said she went to Japan. Can you explain how, why she was in Japan?

TK: I think at that time, there were most many Issei thought the girls were getting spoiled over here. Not spoiled, but they were learning the wrong things. So I know a lot of girls were sent to Japan to learn the Japanese ways of growing up. And so, as far as I know, that was the reason she was sent to Japan, and she was raised by my aunt.

TI: So was this on your mother's side, or father's side that raised your sister?

TK: That was what?

TI: So this was on your father's, your father's family or your mother's family that raised Mariko?

TK: That was, I think my mother's sister raised her.

TI: But that's interesting. So a lot of the Isseis, it was almost like more girls were sent to Japan than the boys.

TK: Yeah, because they thought that they were getting corrupted by the American customs. They didn't approve of American customs, you know, the girls going out and all that. As far as I know.

TI: No, that's interesting. So do you think it's because they were worried that then it'd be harder for them to get married later on, or just a bad influence?

TK: Gosh, I don't, I think they didn't want them to grow up, what do you call it in Japan? Furyo. They didn't want them to fool around and act like American girl. They didn't want them to act like American girls, Caucasian girls.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Well, how about any boys? Was there a case you remember when maybe one of your friends might have been, the parents might have had a hard time controlling them? And did you ever hear of instances where they sent them to Japan?

TK: No, I don't know about that part. My brother, the next one between the oldest and me, he was left in Japan because one of my aunts didn't have any children. So he was adopted by, maybe adopted, I don't know, anyway, he was raised by my aunt. He came over here when he was sixteen, and he has stayed since.

TI: Okay, so let me make sure I understand. So, your older brother Kaname, who is two years older than you, was left in Japan when he was a child, or young, with your aunt.

TK: That's right.

TI: And so he was raised there until he was about sixteen years old. And then, but in this case, he wasn't left there -- this is different than your sister -- that he, your parents weren't concerned about him being, growing up as an American, it was more, it was a different situation?

TK: Yeah.

TI: You were trying to explain how for girls, they were there for...

TK: Yeah, I think my older brother was kind of given to the family, because they had no children. I think that was it. I'm not sure.

TI: So can you explain this? So your aunts didn't have children, so your parents left Kaname to be raised by them. So in this case, why didn't he stay with your aunt? I'm curious why he came back when he was sixteen.

TK: Why did he what?

TI: Why did he come to the United States when he was sixteen and not stay with your aunt?

TK: That part I'm not sure. I'm not sure exactly.

SP: Did he, did Kaname grow up in the same town as Mariko? Because they were with two different aunts, right?

TK: No, Kaname grew up near his birthplace. Mariko was way up in Mito, Japan, that was way up north. Mariko was just about, I think, adopted by the other family, I think, but I'm not sure. I don't know what the situation was.

TI: And so you mentioned Kaname came when he was sixteen, he came to Seattle. So you were fourteen. And all of the sudden, you had an older brother. What was that like for you to have an older brother that came from Japan?

TK: I don't know. It didn't make any difference, to tell you the truth. So, well, he treated me like an older brother, I mean, looked after me. Even if he don't know the language well.

TI: So that's why I'm curious. So, it must have been an interesting situation to have an older brother, two years older all of a sudden, but he doesn't speak English. And you don't, at this point, really speak Japanese. So how did the two of you get along? Was there sometimes friction?

TK: No, we had no trouble there. 'Cause I could speak some Japanese, you know. I had to talk to my parents all the time, so, and I got along with him.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So, I'm curious how other Niseis, the Niseis who were born and raised in Seattle, how did they get along with boys who were educated in Japan, and then as teenagers they come to Seattle. How did that dynamic, relationship work?

TK: Well, I don't think we had any problem. The Kibeis, you know, they call them Kibei, they were, they had their own group. My brother joined them. He played, they had a baseball team, they joined the Courier League, they had their own. They did pretty good, too. I think they won the championship one year. Our team never won a championship. [Laughs] So anyway, he, Kaname played for that team.

TI: Okay, so Kaname, was, so he had a group of friends, other Kibeis that he would... and so were there quite a few Kibeis in the neighborhood?

TK: I think so. They were, they had their own club and everything. I was invited to a couple of their gatherings. I got along with them real well, far as I can remember.

TI: Oh, good. In any way do you think, did the Kibeis ever look down upon the Niseis? Because the Kibeis were more educated with Japanese?

TK: No, not that I know of. As far as I know, we got along pretty well.

TI: Okay, so I'm going switch gears here a little bit and talk about your relationship with your father. Were there any, do you have any stories or examples of things that you did with your father, you know, growing up, in terms of maybe in terms of activities?

TK: Well, my father used to take me fishing. We had a friend that owned a boat down around near Sears, down there. The water was way up close then. And there he had a little boat down there and we used to borrow the boat and he used to take me fishing. I remember that, that was really fun.

TI: So describe the fishing. To get ready, like for bait, what would you have to do to get bait for fishing?

TK: Bait, we'd get them off the pilings. You go on the boat, and if the tide is low enough, we can scrape the piling, get the worms off the pilings, use that. And other than that, I can't remember where else he would get the bait if the tide was too high. Of course, he would figure those out ahead. I was only five years old.

TI: So I'm curious, when you went fishing with your father, did he do everything for you like bait the hook?

TK: Oh yeah.

TI: Or did he try to show you how to do these things?

TK: No, I don't think he showed me anything. He did everything.

TI: And then when you had a fish on line, did he reel it up for you?

TK: No, no. That would fall to me. That's where the fun is.

TI: That sounds like a fond time. What kind of fish?

TK: Oh, rock cod, shiner, we didn't go for salmon then. Other people did, a lot of people did. But a lot of people fish for bottomfish, too. And so, we were bottomfish fishermen. So we got all kinds of fish down here. We never worried about pollution or anything like that. The sewage plant, sewers were coming out of the, right around there, we didn't, it didn't make any difference to us.

TI: Now did your father do these same fishing trips with your older brothers?

TK: My older brothers weren't interested. He wasn't interested in fishing. He used to take me fishing on the docks without a boat. I remember that, and we used to catch shiner, rock cod and stuff, but he quit pretty early. I kept on fishing with other people.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Growing up, I'm trying to think of some other maybe memories you have like, for instance, did you ever have any, like, part-time jobs, besides helping the family business or things like that? Were there any other jobs that you did growing up?

TK: It seemed like I did. Oh, bathtub. I was cleaning bathtubs for Mr. Ito. Mr. Ito was the president of the Japanese Association. And he had a bath, laundry, barbershop, and a laundry, and he had about four baths down in the basement where people from outside could come and take a bath on Saturday night. I don't think that happens anymore. But these loggers and workers come in. And I got a dollar a day for cleaning the bathtubs after each bath, each person take a bath, he'd go and then I'd clean the bathtub out for the next person. I got a dollar a day for that.

TI: So on Saturday nights you would go down there.

TK: Yeah.

TI: And as people would finish, you'd have to clean the bathtub.

TK: Clean the bathtub out.

TI: So describe that. How would you clean the bathtub? So you'd have to drain the water, or explain the whole process.

TK: As far as I can remember, we just get the rag, put the cleanser on it and the ring around the tub, you just clean that off. And then rinse it out, that's all. And then put the plug in and start the water for the next fellow. That was my job.

TI: Now was it like a public bathhouse where the bathtubs were next to each other, or did each one have their own separate room?

TK: No, it was, well, it's a wall between each bathtub. But it was one big room, but partition between each bathtub.

TI: Now were these, when you say workers came in, were these Japanese workers?

TK: Far as I know, they were all hakujins, Caucasians. Far as I can remember.

TI: And so, they came to the place, you mentioned barbershops. So they'd get their hair cut or something and then take a bath?

TK: Yeah, I think so. As far as I can remember that.

TI: And how many of these barbershops were around? Were there quite a few of these?

TK: Oh gosh, there must have been, gee, maybe half a dozen, dozen maybe, I don't know. Jim Yoshida, he's the famous war hero, World War II, his folks had a barbershop there. And I remember that one was, another one, I can't remember their name, they was right below our Tourist Hotel. There was one there, then on Main Street, there's all kinds. Uji was a very popular one that all the, we used to go to that. After my folks quit, I used to go there. And Suto, that's another one. Then there's... oh there's several more, I can't remember.

TI: And about how old were you when you were cleaning bathtubs?

TK: I think I was about, gee, I might have been about ten maybe.

TI: Sounds like an interesting job. How about some other jobs that you can remember, as you got maybe older? What were some other jobs?

TK: Gosh. I worked at Pike Place Market a few times on trimming lettuce for a Saturday.

TI: So describe that. I'm interested in, so this is, Pike Place Market is a farmer's market in Seattle. And so they have these individual stalls and so is it there that you would...

TK: Yeah, they would rent the stall for one day, Saturday. And maybe they were there all week, I don't know, but I just went on a Saturday. I was cleaning lettuce. I didn't think they could sell that much lettuce, all day long, just trimming the lettuce, so they could sell it. They keep coming, they keep coming. But I just did it once or twice, that's all.

TI: And how would you get a job like that? Who was the farmer that you worked with? Or how did you get that job?

TK: I don't know. My aunt said to come on down and help. So I went down to help. I think I went about two or three times, that was all.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Any other ones? This is interesting, these little jobs. So Pike Place Market, you worked cleaning bathtubs. How about things like, did you ever do anything like at the Nippon Kan Theatre, things like that?

TK: Yeah, I sold cushions, I mean people would come in, you know, they were folding chairs and then they're bare and people would want cushions. So, there's a man there had the concession of selling or renting those cushions. I think it was five cents per cushion, or something like that. And then, we helped him get the cushions out and everything. Arrange it and put it on the chairs when then the people wanted them. And some of them are reserved seats, we put the cushions already on the reserved seats. And we would get a dollar a night, but we had to wait 'til the end and collect all the cushions and fold up the chairs and stuff like that.

TI: So you'd have to get there early, get the cushions ready, and then would you stay for the performance?

TK: Yeah, if we wanted to, but most of the performance, we didn't care about watching it, so we'd come back later.

TI: Well, describe some of the performances that you saw there. I'm curious...

TK: It was a shibai or a Japanese shibai or odori or something like that, which was of no interest to me.

TI: So these were more like traditional Japanese type of performances. So tell me who would go to these performances. Who were some of the audience? Who would be in the audience?

TK: Gosh, I don't know who was in the audience. It would be the Isseis as far as I could remember. But there were, I don't know if you remember the name, or if you know the name Yamamoto? He was nicknamed Kinpachi, he had pretty good control of the whole thing, I understand. And he had control of the screen advertising, too, this big screen with all advertising, they put up so much money they get their name on the screen, or something like that. I can't remember how it exactly worked.

TI: So did Mr. Yamamoto, did he own the theater? When you say control, how did he control this?

TK: No, I don't know, I don't know how that worked. But he seemed to be the landlord, not the landlord, but the... what do they call that? The, head of the gangster group.

TI: Yeah, 'cause I've done a little bit of research about... I've heard Kinpachi, the name there, so he was a noted, I guess, oh, I'm not sure what the right word, you know, kind of gangster, for lack of better words. Can you describe a little bit about what you know about kind of that sort of more criminal or underworld element? Like what kind of activities was he involved in?

TK: I think he was in charge of the Japanese gambling group, as far as I know. And I think they were involved in, at that time there was Prohibition, too. So he was involved in that, too. I think he paid off policemen and things like that, to keep his places open, drinking places open. As far as I know, but I'm not sure exactly.

TI: So he would do activities like gambling and Prohibition, so serving alcohol. Was this located right in sort of Nihonmachi? In that area?

TK: As far as I know. I used to see his car parked around Nihonmachi. He had what they called a Duesenberg at that time. It was a front-wheel drive, it was a really expensive car. I remember him owning that car and I used to look at it. I don't know if I admired it or not, but anyway, I knew it was his car.

TI: About how old were you when this was, when you would see...

TK: About ten or twelve, I think.

TI: Okay, so this is in about 1922, '23, '24.

TK: Something in that area.

TI: So 1920s.

TK: Maybe a little later, too. No, I don't, I think it, no, I wasn't past high school. I was still in probably, yeah, maybe around freshmen, maybe, around high school, somewhere around there.

TI: So the research I've done indicates that in addition to gambling and the Prohibition, there's also things like, you know, prostitution.

TK: I think he was, I'm not sure about that part.

TI: Okay, but that was all sort of going on in Nihonmachi.

TK: Oh yeah.

TI: Whether or not he was involved. So tell me a little bit, how would you describe him? What kind of person was he?

TK: Far as I know, he was a short fellow. You wouldn't, if you saw him on the street, I don't think you'd know him from anybody else. All I know is he carried two guns, I could see them when he came into the Nippon Kan Hall. His coat was a little bit open and his two gun hanging there. That's all I know about him.

TI: Did you ever notice how other Isseis were around him? Were they kind of wary, or were they friendly?

TK: No, you couldn't tell him apart from anybody else, far as I could tell.

TI: So he was, so when you ever gave him his cushion at the Nippon Kan or anything, did he ever say anything to you, or did you ever say anything?

TK: No, he never talked to us.

TI: Did he have any sort of physical markings or anything that...

TK: Not that I know of.

TI: One of the things at least, more recently, when I think of like Japanese gangsters, like yakuza or something, they would have things like their fingers...

TK: I didn't notice that at that time. 'Cause I didn't know anything about the finger thing then.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Good, okay. So we've talked about so far three types of jobs: cleaning bathtubs, we had the short time at the Pike Place Market, the cushions at the Nippon Kan. There's another job that you mentioned when you were, I think you were a little bit older. It was like delivering groceries to the Hooverville, the shack town. Can you describe that for me? What was that like?

TK: Well, I was working for the Furuya company. And there were some people who ordered from the Furuya company, because we were pretty close to the, within walking distance of Hoovertown. And that was right around the foot of maybe Charles Street around there. And it was a whole bunch of, they brought in all kinds of cardboard and pieces of wood and made little shacks to sleep in. And they'd buy goods from the Furuya Company. That's the Asian people. Well, Asian, I don't think there were any Japanese there, it was mostly Filipino. They would buy from us, as far as I know.

TI: And so when you say there were Filipinos in this shack area, or Hooverville, were they families?

TK: No, I didn't see any families. Filipinos mostly, single. They didn't have, even, I don't remember, I remember a Filipino family that one of the girls in my class at school, that's about the only ones I know. Most of the Filipinos were bachelors. We used to see them up in Alaska all the time, when we went to cannery. Then they go to California in the wintertime for winter harvest down there, the Filipinos.

TI: Okay, but going back to Hooverville, so when you went there, you were saying that they were all men that you saw there, and in particular, the ones that would buy groceries from the company that you worked for Furuya, was the Filipino men. Can you tell me about how many were down there, and how many Filipinos, what percentage were Filipino?

TK: Filipinos, I don't know. There might have been maybe a dozen or so, I don't know. I only saw about three or four of them, actually. And I never saw any women living there. So I, that's all I know about them.

TI: And what kind of groceries did they order?

TK: All I can remember is rice.

TI: And when you would deliver the rice or whatever groceries to them, these men, how would you describe them? Were they working during the day? Or how would you describe them?

TK: I don't know what they did during the day, but they were always, they didn't look like bums. They were all well-dressed always. Filipinos are really the best dressed people, minorities, I think. They were always neat and clean, as far as I can tell.

TI: And when you saw them, when you would go down there, how would describe kind of the mood of Hooverville? Was it a sad place, a happy place, what kind of sounds could you recall?

TK: Well, I didn't see anything sad about it, or happy. Just a normal place where a bunch of guys live. Maybe there was one woman in the whole place, I don't know.

TI: How about like sounds? Can you recall any sounds or smells from Hooverville, when you'd go there?

TK: No, I didn't notice anything different. Just a bunch of people living.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So we talked about now delivering groceries to Hooverville. That's interesting. You also mentioned canneries. At one point, did you go to Alaska and work in the canneries?

TK: Yeah, yeah.

TI: So was this when you were in high school or college? Or when was this?

TK: Well, I went through, let's see, first time I went was 1927, so, I think it was '27, it was '28.

TI: So you're about fifteen or sixteen years old?

TK: Yeah, and then I was high school, I think.

TI: So that's interesting to me. So describe going to Alaska and working the canneries. What kind of things did you do in Alaska?

TK: Well we worked with the canning section. I mean, we don't have anything to do with the live fish. I mean, after the fish gets off the boat, it's usually done by Caucasians or Filipinos did it. But we worked in a canning area, where they can the fish. The fish is canned raw and then all the machines do the work, you know as far as that goes. We have to make sure the cans aren't overfilled or underfilled. There's a machine that weighs the cans, and we have to make sure that they all go through with at least one pound of canned salmon in there, and then it's cooked. And it's, practically the whole thing is done by machine. We mostly monitor the thing, that's all. But it takes quite a few people to monitor it.

TI: So how many weeks did you work at the canneries? Like this is summertime...

TK: Yeah, we usually went in June. This was perfect for us school students, because some of us went right after, the day after school ended. And then came back just before school started, so it was perfect for us. But sometimes some of the later group went in July. Sometime they would ask older, if the season got too busy, they would ask for more people, and then they send more people up there. But it took, there was no airplanes then, so it's all boat. Takes almost three days, a day and a half to Ketchikan, but that's the first stop. Then most of us went farther than that. So it took us about a day and a half, maybe two days to get to where -- but if you have to go across the Gulf, that's another day. And sometimes it took, one group took ten days to get up there, ten days to get back. They get paid for all that. So, the working time is actually about a month, but you get paid for two months.

TI: And was the pay pretty good when you worked in the canneries?

TK: Well, it's regular men's wages, adult wages. So, considering the time, it was, I think, lowest paid time was about thirty dollars a month. But at one time, we were getting about seventy-five dollars a month. But as the Depression hit farther and farther, they got cheaper and cheaper. Then I quit going to cannery, I went to logging camp. Logging camp wasn't any better.

TI: So before we go to logging camp, I want to ask, when you worked at the canneries and you made say thirty dollars a month or more, like seventy-five dollars a month, what would you do with this money? You're a teenager...

TK: Oh, I'd give it to my folks, they'd take care of it. And I have to go to school, so I figure they can take care of it better than I can. Some of the fellows I know, I think they used it for other purposes, but mine was basically I wanted to go to college.

TI: Okay, so you would come home and give your wages, or your money, to your parents. Now, did you ever participate, I've talked to some guys who went to the canneries and they would do things like play cards or gamble. Did you ever do that?

TK: No, I didn't care for gambling at all. I'm a tightwad.

TI: Now, did you see some other men, though, gamble their earnings?

TK: Oh yeah. I saw one guy selling his shoes. He lost all his money, poor guy. Of course, I thought, depending on the cannery, we don't get all our money when we quit, we get our money after we come home. That's the best thing for them. I know one guy was trying to sell his shoes because he said, "I haven't got any money left." Gambling on the boat.

TI: Oh, good.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So let's go, so after the canneries, you said you worked with a logging company? So where was that?

TK: Logging was up in, across from I-90, that highway, across, gee... it's where the Cedar River watershed is.

TI: Okay.

TK: Up by Lake Williams, I think it's called. It's a water, part of the watershed for Seattle, city of Seattle. We were working up there one year.

TI: And what kind of things did you do with the logging company?

TK: We, the logging camp, what we did was put in water lines, put in water lines. See, as they go up the hill, they use steam engines, and the steam engine have to have water. And we would run the pipelines for them, from the rivers up to the steam engines. And then the loggers, the Caucasian loggers would do all the cut, the woodwork and the running of the engine. We just built the railroads and built the roads. They would blast out roads into the mountains to cut the timber. And we built the roads for them. And then, it's a really rough road, all we had to do was cut -- one fellow would get the dynamite. Dynamite the rocks off the road and then we'd lay the tracks for them. And then later on when they're through, we'd take the tracks out and put 'em somewhere else again. It was going into the mountain like that. That was a good job.

TI: And when you say good job, why was that a good job?

TK: Healthy. Rough, but healthy. I liked it.

TI: And then your work crew, who was on your work crew? Was it Japanese?

TK: Yeah, our group was just Japanese, all Japanese, about ten fellows. The Issei and the Nisei mixed together. In the summer, in the wintertime, I don't know. We just, I just worked in the summer because I had to go to school.

TI: And how did you get the logging job? Do you remember how?

TK: I don't know. I don't know how I got it now. Somebody told me about it, I guess. And the canneries were paying so low, for one thing, and we hear the logging camps so it sounded better, so I went there, but it wasn't any better. Because we had to pay for our board.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay. So we're going to start the second, second hour of the interview, Tad. And one of the things I want to go back to was you talked about your parents doing barbershops and hotels. Let's, can we kind of just talk through some of the places that they operated? Like for instance, the barbershop, do you recall where that was located?

TK: The first one I know is 620 Weller Street. I think it's 620.

TI: Okay, and that's about when you were born, too.

TK: That's right.

TI: And then any other barbershops that they had?

TK: Then we went to a corner of Washington and Second Avenue. That was before Second Avenue was cut through there at an angle. It looked a little different. There's a, the fire station is there now, I think, where we used to have the barbershop.

TI: So this is the fire station, and I think of in the Pioneer Square area. Okay, so that's a barbershop there. And how about other places, like the hotels? Where were they located?

TK: There was a Standard Hotel, that was between Yesler and Washington Street. And Second Avenue. Well, it was on Second Avenue, it's kind of changed now because they cut Second Avenue, changed the direction of Second Avenue there. And then, Standard, and then the Tourist Hotel at First and Occidental, Washington and Occidental. There's no building there now, they tore it down, as far as I know.

TI: So would that be in that Occidental Square area? Kind of that place around there?

TK: I don't think it's, it might be Occidental Square, it's on the corner of Washington and Occidental. It's the northeast corner, that's where it was.

TI: Okay, so the Standard Hotel. The Tourist Hotel. What about the other hotels?

TK: Then, what, the Windsor Hotel at Seventh and Virginia.

TI: Okay.

TK: And then I think that's where we evacuated from.

TI: Okay, so that's where you worked when the war broke out.

TK: Yeah.

TI: How about the Wiltshire?

TK: That's the one, yeah. Oh, what did I say?

TI: You said the Windsor.

TK: No, it's the Wiltshire, I'm sorry.

TI: Wiltshire.

TK: I'm glad you mentioned that.

TI: Okay, so that was the one that you had during the war. And where was the Wiltshire located.

TK: Seventh and Virginia.

TI: Oh, Seventh and Virginia.

TK: That's the one.

TI: Okay.

TK: There was no Windsor. The Windsor was a mistake, yeah.

TI: Okay, so Wiltshire. And there's another one. The Oshima? Oshima Hotel?

TK: Oshima, yeah. I can't remember that one.

TI: Was that before the war?

TK: Yeah, way before.

TI: Yeah, those were the ones that I...

TK: Oshima Hotel was, gee, that was the First World War time.

TI: Now do you know why your parents kept moving from like one barbershop to another? From one hotel to another?

TK: I have no idea.

TI: Okay.

TK: Maybe he made money each time, I don't know.

TI: Oh, so did you have a sense that the properties got bigger as he went on?

TK: I don't know really. Usually some people sell their business. They make the, their profit is on the operation, not the building itself. They never owned, we never owned the business, the building in it.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So let's go to your schooling. Like what was the first school that you went to?

TK: Main Street School.

TI: So Main Street School.

TK: Right across from Sixth Avenue between Main and Jackson. It was right across the street from the N-P Hotel. I think it's a historical building now.

TI: Okay, so you started Main Street, and then after Main Street, where did you go?

TK: They moved to Bailey Gatzert, because the school was too small. They built a new school, and the whole school moved to Bailey Gatzert in 1922, I think, or '24. I'm not sure which year it was.

TI: Now when you say the whole school moved from Main Street to Bailey Gatzert, was that like during the summertime they moved it, or was it actually during the school year?

TK: I think it was during the school year. I was, that particular day they moved, I was sick so I was at home. But they moved the whole school, marched together up, that's the way I heard it, to Bailey Gatzert from Main Street. Ms. Mahon was the principal.

TI: And when you finally got to Bailey Gatzert, how was that different than the Main Street School?

TK: I didn't see any difference, except the school is new, that's all. But they had a nicer lunch room and all that.

TI: Now you mentioned Ms. Mahon, who was the principal at the school. What was she like?

TK: Oh, boy. She was tough. Those days they allowed capital punishment. She had a razor strap.

TI: You mean corporal punishment, not capital.

TK: Corporal. Yeah, corporal punishment. And she had a leather strap, razor strap, and she used it, too. They allowed it, you know.

TI: What would you have to do for her to use that?

TK: I don't know. I never got it.

TI: And you said she was tough. Do you think, was she fair?

TK: Oh yeah. I think she was very fair. Everybody respected her.

TI: Yeah, I've heard lots of stories about her. Everyone has these strong memories of Ms. Mahon. But how about, do you recall any other teachers when you were...

TK: Did I what?

TI: Do you remember other teachers, when you were at Main Street or Bailey Gatzert?

TK: Oh yeah. My kindergarten teacher was Ms. Wheeler. First grade teacher was Ms. Smith, can't remember the first name. My third grade teacher was Ms. Benson. And my fourth grade teacher was Ms. Lewis. And then there was a Ms. Cox in there somewhere. And as far as I can remember, that was it. Oh, Ms. Sharkey, that was, no, Ms. Sharkey was in Bailey Gatzert, she was my fifth grade teacher.

TI: Well, that's pretty impressive. I don't think I can remember my elementary school teachers.

TK: I don't know why I remember these teacher's names, but I had no problem. I never tried to remember them or anything. Ms. Hermanson was our music teacher. We had a special music teacher.

TI: And of those teachers you mentioned, which one was your favorite teacher?

TK: I don't know, I didn't have any, they were all very nice, I thought. They were all very nice teachers.

TI: So do you remember any particular story about any one teacher that perhaps she did with the class, or anything you thought was interesting?

TK: No, I can't remember.

TI: Okay.

TK: Well, one time, the third grade teacher, I remember, she used to say, "Everybody get up and take a deep breath and put out your chest," and all that. And we used to say, "It isn't fair. We haven't got a chest like hers." [Laughs] But we used to say it among our, kids, you know, boys. So anyway, she always, every morning she would say, "Everybody, put out your chest and breathe hard."

TI: And so I'm guessing, the boys would sort of joke about that.

TK: Yeah, I remember that. But other than that, all the teachers were real nice. I heard they had a reunion, somewhere around 1960s, but I wasn't here so I couldn't, I didn't know about it. I couldn't, I didn't go. But I heard it was very, very interesting.

TI: And how would you describe yourself as a student? What kind of student were you?

TK: I guess I was just normal. Up to about fourth grade, I was absent at least once a month. I was such a sickly kid. But after that, I was okay. But, myself...

TI: So when you say that you were sickly, was there anything that, what was causing that?

TK: It was, I was allergic to some foods. I think that was the reason. Especially peanuts. And every time I ate peanuts, I would get sick. But I loved peanuts. [Laughs] But as far as that, as far as I know, I was, I wasn't too healthy. Until about the fifth grade, and then I got healthier and stopped skipping school.

TI: When you were younger, so before fifth grade and were kind of sickly or allergic to foods, did your parents or anyone give you any special kind of medicine or treatment to help you?

TK: Not that I know of.

TI: So it was just more resting and taking care of yourself?

TK: I guess they were careful about what I ate. They always told me not to eat peanuts. I remember my mother telling me that.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So after Bailey Gatzert, so you went Central School and then Bailey Gatzert, then where did you go?

TK: Central School. Bailey Gatzert had only six, up to sixth grade. Bailey Gatzert, Bailey Gatzert had up to sixth grade, so we had to separate from there. And depending on where we lived, some fellows went to Pacific School, some went to Central School, and some went to well, South Side.

TI: Okay, so you went to Central School for your seventh grade.

TK: Central was sixth and seventh.

TI: Sixth and seventh grade.

TK: Sixth, seventh, and eighth. Yeah, sixth, seventh, and eighth. Somewhere around there.

TI: So when I went to school, used to call it like junior high school. Is that what they called it?

TK: They didn't have junior high school then. You went to eighth grade and then you went to high school.

TI: Okay. So high school, ninth grade, where did you go for high school?

TK: High school, Broadway. They don't have it now.

TI: Right, that's the, now, I think it's the campus of the Seattle Central Community College.

TK: That's it.

TI: That's where Broadway is. So any memories of either Central School or Broadway High School? What was school like in those days?

TK: I don't know. I don't have anything special. I was, I didn't go try out for athletics or anything. I mean, sports or anything. My older brother played baseball. He was very well-known at the school. But other than that...

TI: So how was that for you, sort of following in the footsteps of your brothers, one of which was a really good athlete? Was that easy or hard?

TK: Didn't make any difference to me.

TI: So you mentioned your, your brother was older, played baseball, people knew him. Do you ever recall watching him play, like high school baseball?

TK: Yeah, the, there was a championship game between Garfield and Broadway. And Broadway was, I think, four, four runs behind. And I remember, it was full bases for Broadway. And my brother hit a home run to tie the score. I thought that was very exciting, although they lost the game. But I think, a chance like that doesn't come up, except in the movies.

TI: So this was like the city championship for high schools between Broadway and Garfield, the championship game?

TK: No, no. Well, that was a championship game, but they lost it at the end. But that was the only one I remember.

TI: Do you recall which field they were playing on?

TK: It was at Broadway Playfield.

TI: So Broadway, right there. Same field.

TK: I don't know if it's still there now.

TI: Yeah, I think it's still there, the same Broadway field. And if, so what position did your brother play in high school.

TK: He was first base.

TI: And when you remember that game, how many people were there? Was it pretty crowded?

TK: Well, the stands were crowded.

TI: That must have been exciting.

TK: Well, they didn't have too many seats on the stands anyway. Maybe a hundred people could sit in there, I don't know.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So you graduated from Broadway High School, do you remember what year you graduated?

TK: 1928, I guess. '29, I think.

TI: Yeah, so that would make you eighteen or nineteen, so that's about right. So you graduated the same year that the stock market crashed, so 1929.

TK: I don't remember that part.

TI: Or the beginning of the Depression was about when you graduated.

TK: I guess so. I'm not...

TI: So let's, so 1929, graduated from Broadway High School. And then what did you do?

TK: Go to university.

TI: So you went to university.

TK: Washington, here.

TI: University of Washington. And what did you study at the University of Washington?

TK: I started out in chemistry, but I dropped it and went into economics.

TI: And why economics? What was interesting for you in economics?

TK: Well, it was chemistry was pretty tough. Yeah, every night you have to go finish up your experiments and everything and it was getting to be a bore. So I dropped it and some friends of mine, I belonged to the Japanese Students Club, and they, all kinds of engineers, scientists, everything going there, and not one of them had a job after they got graduated. So, I thought that the percentage of me getting, going to take chemistry and doing all that, isn't worth it. So I took economics as my major. It's the easiest way to get out.

TI: And so that's interesting. Because as you saw your fellow Nisei students, or classmates, they would get science, engineering, these degrees, and when they graduated, they couldn't get jobs. So at that point, even though you're in chemistry, you thought that it wasn't worth the work.

TK: No, it wasn't worth the effort. I felt that way. Then, well, it was very hard, difficult, too, so, so I took, I started in economics.

TI: And then when you graduate with a degree in economics, what, what kind of jobs would you be able to get?

TK: There were no jobs. [Laughs]

TI: So all the Niseis, I mean, your classmates, you know, they would graduate from the University of Washington, what would they end up doing?

TK: Nothing, same thing, just look for any job. Some of them went to Japan, but they didn't get any jobs over there. Because the Japanese didn't hire them. Some of them then did work because they needed their English part, they were able to speak English. That's what I heard anyway, but, so, it was a height of Depression, too, you know. World Depression then.

TI: So was that, so your classmates who were Caucasian, white, were they able to get jobs?

TK: No, they had a hard time, too.

TI: So it was just not the Niseis, it was pretty much everyone.

TK: Of course it was easier for them to get jobs, as far as I know.

TI: So was there pressure -- so I guess the question that I'm wondering, if you have to spend money to go to school, and then you work really hard and then you graduate, and you don't get a good job, why did you decide to go to the university?

TK: I don't know. Just to get the education, I guess. To get the diploma, I don't know. It was a goal, I guess. I don't know, that's the way.

TI: So do you think a lot of Niseis decided not to go to college because it was hard to get jobs?

TK: I don't, I don't know. A lot of them couldn't afford it, as far as I can tell. And some of them just didn't want to go. I don't know.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So you finish with your degree in economics. You really can't get a job in that field, so what do you do next?

TK: I started studying electronics. Though I got a brochure from a company, a school in Kansas City. I don't know how, no, a fellow came to our hotel one time. He was a salesman for the school, I guess. He talked me into joining this correspondence school in Kansas City. And I started it, and it got interesting, and I decided I'll go to Kansas City and went to school there. Main thing that their goal, final examination was the government test for license, first-class license. So I went to school for nine months there and got my license, but no job.

TI: So you spent nine months in Kansas City getting this degree. You know, before we go, you know, after you got your license, I'm curious, what was it like for you to go from Seattle to Kansas City? What was that like? I'm guessing that was the first time that you'd been really this far away?

TK: Well, it was kind of lonely at first. But it was okay, there was another guy from Hawaii there, too, a Japanese fellow. And I didn't get to know him very well because he was in a class one ahead of me. And they took new students in every month. So I didn't get to talk to him very month. Only occasionally, when I met him. We didn't live in the same place, so I didn't know where he stayed. I stayed in a hotel, so, well, that was about it there. Then, there's one fellow that lived in the outskirts of Kansas City and he was very friendly. He treated me well. And invited me over at Christmas time to his house, that was a very nice fellow.

TI: Did you ever experience any discrimination because you were Japanese?

TK: No, I didn't that way, but the brochure says, "Negroes are not welcome." I thought, "Jeez, that's tough for them." They can't do that now, but...

TI: So they wouldn't allow negroes or blacks in class. Were there other, like Japanese or Chinese, or other ethnicities besides...

TK: I saw, there were several Chinese restaurants. I went to eat noodles in the Chinese restaurant one time. And I saw one Asian girl standing on the street corner, one time. I think she was waiting for a streetcar or bus. That's the only Chinese, or Asians I saw. And other than the Hawaiian fellow that was there, I never spoke to any Asians.

TI: And so did you enjoy your time in Kansas City? Did you like it?

TK: No, I don't know if I enjoyed it. It was busy studying for the school, so my time was pretty well taken up.

TI: Okay, interesting.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So nine months Kansas City, you complete the course, you pass, you're now licensed. Then what happens?

TK: No job. [Laughs] I wrote to five stations here for a job. They were, no television stations, just the radio stations then. And I wrote to five stations, but not one of them answered me even. But I wrote to Hawaii and they answered me, they said they would be glad to give me an interview if I came over, but I never got over there. But the thing is, the first sentence I wrote, "I am a Japanese American," to make sure that they understood, and then followed up with the resume and not one answered me.

TI: Well, how about your classmates, you know, the ones that went through this same program?

TK: Everyone that applied for a job got a job. From a, I mean, they wrote letters to the, just about everybody in the school was from out of town. It was a correspondence school, actually. And my classmates, the ones that did write letters to home stations, they all got an answer to come for a interview. They weren't hired, but, they were, so, it was kind of disappointing for me. 'Cause they needed licensed operators then.

TI: So, your training, so you were right in the sense that people who got this training were very sought-after. I mean, it was a good place to get a job. But your case, you were turned down by five radio stations in Seattle. When this happened, what were you thinking?

TK: I don't know. Now, well, I guess I thought to hell with it.

TI: You know, I'm curious, you said in your letter you started always off with the sentence, "I am Japanese American." Why did you do that?

TK: Because I want them to know, didn't want to surprise them later.

TI: So it was almost like you wanted to make sure they understood you're Japanese American, and I'm guessing you thought that it was because you're Japanese American they wouldn't reply to you also. Is that why?

TK: I think so, yeah. Well, that would be part of it anyway.

TI: Okay. So you come back to Seattle, you have this license, you're turned down by these five radio stations, what do you do next?

TK: I went to, I started in with repairing television sets. Well, of course, it was mostly radios then. But then, well, this, not, repairing is not for me, I figure, so I quit that.

TI: Okay, and about what year was this when you were getting your license?

TK: Gosh, I can't remember now.

TI: This is before the war, like how many years before the war?

TK: It was about 1939. '37, '39, around there.

TI: Okay, so just a couple years before the war starts. Okay. So you didn't want to repair TVs, so what's next after that? So what did you do?

TK: Gosh, I don't remember now.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Well, let's go to the December 7, 1941. What were you doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

TK: Oh, I was watching, we were living at the hotel down there at Seventh and Virginia. And I was watching the front desk. It was Sunday morning, so it was very, I mean nobody around or anything. It was eight o'clock Sunday morning over here. Then I was listening to the radio and then I couldn't believe it. They said they're bombing Pearl Harbor. So that was it that day. Then, far as I can remember, that was it, that morning.

TI: And as your, the tenants, or the customers would come in, did you talk with anyone about what was happening or what had happened in Hawaii?

TK: No, nobody said anything. But we didn't have a big lobby or anything at the hotel, so not many people were in the lobby. One guy peeked in the door and, "Dirty Jap," he said, that's all. But that's about it.

TI: So was this someone that you knew, or was this...

TK: No it was just a passerby, as far as I could, as I knew. Nobody in the hotel said anything.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: How was business affected after Pearl Harbor?

TK: I don't think there was that much difference.

TI: So this was the hotel at Seventh and Virginia, so it's the Wiltshire Hotel. About how many rooms did this hotel have?

TK: I think it had a hundred rooms. Maybe a hundred five, around there.

TI: And normally, how many of those rooms are busy or used in a night?

TK: Gosh, I don't know. Well, at least three quarters must have to be full.

TI: Okay, so roughly seventy to eighty rooms occupied. Who would be the tenants? Who would be in these rooms?

TK: Well, I don't know about the regulars, the regulars were, as far as I know, remember, is waitresses, that worked around there. And I know one schoolteacher. And I don't know what the others did.

TI: Oh, so working-class people.

TK: Working-class people, yeah.

TI: Mostly Caucasian?

TK: Yeah, practically all Caucasians.

TI: And you didn't experience, with your tenants, the people there, they didn't make any comments about the war, or ask you any questions?

TK: No, nobody said anything.

TI: Okay. So it's a large hotel. In the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the government started telling Japanese that they would have to leave Seattle. What did you do with the hotel?

TK: Gosh, I don't remember. My brother and father, parents were taking care of most of that. So I don't remember just exactly what we did. Well, my brother was taken into the army, too. So I guess we just started to pack up, we were told to leave. We just started to pack up, I guess.

TI: This hotel was owned by your parents, or the family.

TK: Just the business part.

TI: The business part. So as the business part, what happened to that?

TK: Oh, some lady came, we were very fortunate in that way, there was a lady, we had, my brother's girlfriend had a, was working for a lawyer, and this lawyer took care of all the business end of it. And so we were very, very fortunate there. So he dealt with all the paperwork of taking care of changing the business ownership and all that. I forgot now what exactly happened now. It was very big. But we, so we didn't lose anything. Although some Chinese fellow took over the business, and he wasn't a very good fellow, but he was married to a Japanese girl. I don't remember what happened after that.

TI: So from my notes, it was your brother's girlfriend worked for an attorney named Hutchinson?

TK: Yeah, Hutchinson.

TI: And he was able to...

TK: He took care of all of it.

TI: Took care of it, was actually able to sell the business. At pretty close to market rates, so it wasn't like you had to...

TK: Yeah, I think so, everything was on the, I think everything was fair, as far as I can tell. I wasn't too much involved in it. So my brother and the parents were involved in it.

TI: Okay, good. You were fortunate, because many families lost a lot during that time.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So, so the family then goes to the assembly center. So which assembly center did your family go to?

TK: We went to Puyallup.

TI: And what was that like for you?

TK: [Laughs] Actually, I don't know. I don't know what it was like, I can't recall. Well, I guess everybody else was there, so.

TI: Well actually, I left out something important before we go to Puyallup. So during this time, you had a girlfriend. Weren't you at this point, sort of looking to get married about this time?

TK: Yeah, yeah, she was, there was a Japanese-style go-between. We didn't need her, but she was the Japanese-style, so there was a go-between lady. And this, the girl that was to be my wife, she stayed with that family instead of going. Her family moved to Spokane, 'cause they had relatives over there, but my girlfriend stayed with this lady's family, this lady. So she was here all the time. Then she, when she went to Puyallup, she went with that family. They were just a couple. Their, her daughters were not in Washington state, so they had gone somewhere else. So my, my to-be wife, she stayed with this lady, that's as far as I can remember.

TI: Okay, so your future wife, so you and your future wife knew that you were going to get married. So she stayed back while the rest of her family went to Spokane. And then she stayed with the go-between family. And then, so then you both went to Puyallup. So tell me, what was the name of your wife?

TK: Kuni.

TI: And how did the two of you meet?

TK: Oh, we used to hang around Tokuda Drug on Seventeenth and Yesler. And she was there, she's Tokuda's cousin, so she was there. We just happened to meet that way.

TI: And what was it about your wife that attracted you to her? What was that?

TK: I don't know. Just, I guess she was hanging around there, so...

TI: But then you guys knew that you wanted to get married, so that's why she stayed back.

TK: Not at that time. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, but later. [Laughs] Okay, so Puyallup, and then from Puyallup, where did you go?

TK: We went from Puyallup to Idaho.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So we're, so after Puyallup, you went to Idaho, so Minidoka, Idaho. And I think earlier you mentioned that you went actually with a early group, like a volunteer group. Can you describe what that group was like and who was part of that group?

TK: Gosh, I don't know, there were about maybe fifteen, twenty of us. And I think there were about six girls. They were all volunteers, to go there first to kind of get the thing started for them. So about six or seven girls, I think, the rest, maybe fifteen or so, ten, dozen men. We were the original group and then when we got there, it was all dust, nothing but dust, dust, dust. And we had to, I don't know what we did now, I can't remember. I remember driving a truck there and cleaning out some buildings for the first evacuees to approach, and stringing up a lot of lights. So that's all I can remember, right now.

TI: So in addition to your group, this initial small group, who else was at Minidoka? Were there other workers, or other people doing things when you were there?

TK: There were the Caucasian contractors there, the electricians and stuff, putting in lights and all that, the other things, as far as I know. Then some of the cabins weren't done yet in some areas. They were finishing those up.

TI: And so did you ever interact with the Caucasian workers?

TK: No, we had nothing to do with them.

TI: So you never heard, ever talked with them or anything like that.

TK: No, only Caucasian was the fellow in charge of, I don't know, he was supposed to be in charge of us. He had his family with him and we didn't pay much attention to him. But he told us where to go, where to stay and all that. That's about it.

TI: Then what was it like when the other families, other people started arriving? What did you do then?

TK: Oh, well we, we had to do some clean up for them, to get started. But, gosh, it's kind of hard to remember exactly. Oh, there was so much dust, wind was blowing all the time. As far as I can -- I think we started in September. By October, it started to get pretty cold.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Now, how would you compare the conditions in Idaho, Minidoka, to Puyallup? Was it better or worse?

TK: Well, the living quarters, well, I was in, in Puyallup, I was in that center section where the buildings were already, the structures were already in there, you know. So my place wasn't too bad. But, well, I don't know, about the same, I guess. 'Course, in Idaho it was so much dust and then they were, shiplap lumber was used in the structure. And that, they used green lumber and by the time winter came around, the green lumber had shrunk a lot. With a lot of gaps in it, and people had to put all kinds of stuff up to prevent, to stop the draft and all that. But other than that, everybody had a stove, one stove. My life wasn't too bad in Puyallup, I mean, in Idaho. Because we were part of the electrician's group. We had a truck and I could pick up anything I want by using that truck. I had, well, our group had much more advantage than other people.

TI: So would you say that you had one of the better jobs at Minidoka?

TK: Yeah, I think so.

TI: 'Cause you had access to things like trucks.

TK: And I had no, it didn't bother me to steal anything from the warehouse. We were in a prison, I felt we were in a prison anyway.

TI: So Tad, explain that to me. So you had a truck, you said you had no qualms about taking things from the warehouse. Is that what you just...

TK: If I wanted it, I took everything from the warehouse.

TI: So what kind of things would you, like, take from the warehouse?

TK: Wire, wires, light bulbs, fuses, stuff.

TI: And what would you do with these things?

TK: Well, see the barracks, all the barracks had five units and 130-amp fuse for the whole barracks. In our barracks, they were always asking us for fuses. So I always carried a lot, but our barracks, there was another electrician living in our barracks, and I was living on this end. So he know what he was doing, and then we wired it so we all had separate wiring, and we never blew a fuse or anything. And the people in between had no problem using whatever they wanted. But that was an advantage anyway.

TI: So your barracks, your building was probably the most properly wired of the whole camp then?

TK: We had a truck so I stole plasterboard, walled up my inside of the house, I mean, building, so the studs didn't show. It was warmer than most units. So I took advantage of everything. But anyway, that's the way I remember it.

TI: And so did the other electricians do kind of similar things, too, 'cause you had the truck?

TK: I think so, I didn't check 'em but we talked about it.

TI: When you would take things from the warehouse, did they have guards there?

TK: No, there were no guards there. Well, they did at one time, because the people were stealing the lumber. Everybody was, and I saw one old lady taking a four by eight plywood, well, it was quarter inch, but she was, I think she must have been sixty years old. She had it on her back and dragging it. And I thought, gee, I felt sorry for her. But I guess she took it back to where she lived.

TI: 'Cause generally, they'd have to walk a long ways to get to their block, or their building.

TK: That was the whole thing. Thirty blocks all together, thirty-five blocks, something like that. The lumber was right about in the middle.

TI: Okay, that's a good story.

TK: That was the contractor's lumber. So the, the camp guards didn't watch it. And the camp, the contractors had to put their own guards on it. Before the guards came on, boy, that pile went down.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So earlier you mentioned how you and your future wife were in the volunteer group. So at some point, you got married when you were in Idaho. Can you describe the process of getting married in camp, how you'd do that?

TK: Well, we were, let's see, we asked for leave, leave to, to go to Idaho, go to the town to get married. I think we got the license in the courthouse. And justice of the peace there to marry us, and one of the stenographers there was a witness. And paid two dollars and we were married. I don't think it took one hour.

TI: So you didn't have any friends or anyone, just the two of you and the court people. And this is in Twin Falls, Twin Falls courthouse?

TK: Twin Falls, yeah.

TI: So you get married, pay two dollars, get your license and then you, what, go back to the camp?

TK: After that? No, we didn't go back. We went, since we were out, we went to Spokane to where her folks lived. And we got hit for that, later when we came back.

TI: Explain that. What happened? You mean when you, 'cause you weren't supposed to do that?

TK: No, we weren't supposed to, we were supposed to come right back after we got married. And I told my wife, "To heck with that." Said, "Let's go to..." we, I think we carried money with us to go to Spokane. It was train fare then, and I forgot now how much it was.

TI: And so what kind of trouble did you get in? What happened when you got back? You said you got in trouble.

TK: They just reprimanded us. That's it. "It's okay," she said, "Because you didn't get into any legal troubles." If we had, they would have, it would have looked bad for the whole camp. And if it was, got in the papers, but so, we didn't get into trouble. We didn't make any fuss about anything, so it was okay.

TI: But when they reprimanded you, is it like going to the principal's office, do you have to go to a place where they just tell you that you did something bad or is it more serious?

TK: No, it was just the talk, they would talk to us about it. That's all.

TI: And do you recall who, who talked with you? So who actually talked with you? Was it the camp director?

TK: Oh, camp, no, the assistant director. As far as I know, I think it was the assistant director.

TI: So after you're married and you have your in-laws in Spokane, did you, so what did you do next? So your in-laws are already resettled in Spokane, you and your wife are married in camp, then what happened next?

TK: We just lived there, I mean, I was still part of the electrical group, so just carried on the way it was.

TI: So when you finally got back to Minidoka after you got married, did your friends give you a party or anything, now that you were married?

TK: Yeah, they gave us a party.

TI: So describe that. What was that like?

TK: Well, it was just a small party, about half a dozen people. Our good, real good close friends, that's all.

TI: And did you guys bring anything back from Spokane for them or anything?

TK: No, we didn't expect anything. We just expected to just come in quietly and that's all. So we didn't have any money to buy presents anyway.

TI: So any other memories from Minidoka? It sounds like you had a lot, as an electrician, but anything else, like I'm guessing that you and your wife set up a small apartment, or small barrack room now that you were married. What was life like being married in camp?

TK: I don't know, it was just another, I can't say any difference. Nothing special that I can remember.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: And so do you remember, about what time did you leave camp? Like how long were you in camp?

TK: I think, I think we were in there just about one year. I think we left in May. I think we went to camp in May and we left in May, far as I can remember.

TI: So about May 1943? Yeah, '43? Okay. During this time, you mentioned your older brother was in the military service.

TK: Yeah, the oldest brother, yes.

TI: Yeah, Yukio. So was this the 442nd he was with?

TK: Yeah.

TI: And so how much did you know what they were doing during this time?

TK: Nothing.

TI: At some point, did you start reading about what the 442 was doing and what was happening?

TK: I don't remember that. I don't remember anything about that part.

TI: Okay, so after a year in camp, May 1943, you go there, from there, where did you go?

TK: From where?

TI: From Idaho, from the camp, did you go to Spokane next?

TK: Yes, then I got a job there, that's all.

TI: Okay, so how long did you live in Spokane?

TK: Gosh, maybe four years after the war? I think it was a little bit after the war we were allowed to come back to the West Coast. So it must have been maybe four or five years, I don't know. I'm not sure.

TI: And during that time in Spokane, what kind of work did you do?

TK: Oh, I worked, first thing I did, first job I got was in a soda pop company because they had an opening there. I was also worked on the railroad there. But all the Japanese were let go on the railroad 'cause there was a, what do you call, essential worker, or no Japanese were allowed to work on the railroad, telephone company, or communication company, something like that. I think we had to work in the non-war connected jobs, I think. That's the soda pop company, I worked there.

TI: Okay, so after four years, four or five years in Spokane, then where did you go?

TK: Think we came back here. My folks had started the restaurant, so, down on First Avenue. So I came back here.

TI: And so you started working, so this is, it was called, like, I think, Tad's Cafe. So this was a restaurant that was actually named after you, right? Tad? So this is down on First Avenue and I think the building still is there. I think it's now called the New Orleans Creole Restaurant, so it's still there. And how had Seattle changed after the war? You'd been now gone for years, and now you come back. What was different about Seattle?

TK: Well, the Japanese community wasn't there any more. That's the first thing you notice, I guess. Other than that, I don't know. So I can't tell.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So, Tad, I'm going to start -- we're winding down now, we're almost at the end of this. So you came back to Seattle and you started your own family. So why don't you tell me your children and kind of in the order of your three children and their names.

TK: Their names?

TI: Yeah, the names of your three children. And I can help you.

TK: Carol Ann is the oldest.

TI: And she was born in 1943.

TK: Some, I guess so. I can't...

TI: And after Carol Ann is, is... I think...

TK: Susan.

TI: Susan was born in 1947. And Carol, backing up, she works for the Social Security Administration? And Susan is a nurse at Virginia Mason. And then after Susan?

TK: Jimmy.

TI: Was born in 1949. And unfortunately, my notes show that he was killed or died in a motorcycle accident, that he was racing. So, I'm wondering, so he was about twenty years old when he died, so this was late '60s when he died. Do you recall what happened and how he died?

TK: All I know is that the race was over and he was going back to the... I don't know what they call it. Where they take the bikes back.

TI: Kind of the pit area, maybe?

TK: Yeah, pit area I think it was. I don't know he was going to pit area or going, going back to his truck, I don't know which way. But this other guy that was, he was still on the track and he was going full blast, full speed. And then ran right into him when he was crossing the track, I think so. As far as I know, that's the way it happened. I wasn't there, so...


TI: So that must have been very difficult for the family to have lost Jimmy at such a young age. He was only twenty.

TK: Yeah, I don't know exactly know how old he was at that time.

TI: So I'm just going to kind of, you know, end by asking, there's so much I didn't cover after the war, your jobs, and your family life, and I was wondering, to end this interview, is there anything else that you would like to talk about before we end the interview?

TK: I don't think so, as far as I know.

TI: Okay, one of the things that I want to mention is, kind of how we, I sort of learned about you. It was at your grandson's restaurant, Kaname, that I first met you. Where it's interesting that this restaurant is named after your sis-, I'm sorry, your older brother. And then how your grandson now runs this restaurant and how you're there every day helping out. And just to let you know, it's such a nice feeling for me to walk in there and see this multi-generation operation.

TK: I don't do much helping out, but I eat there. [Laughs]

TI: Well, I've watched you, because you help out, too.

TK: Well, with the water and stuff like that.

TI: You're cleaning tables and greeting customers.

TK: I try to keep out of the way. [Laughs] I eat there, so....

TI: Well anyway, it's such a nice feeling when I go there. And I just wanted to let you know that it's a real pleasure for me to have talked with you on this. And so thank you for the interview. And, and if you have just a little more time, we have a little map and I want you just to point out a few things, so we're going to take a short break and then come back.

TK: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: So Tad, you're going to help me. This is a map that we got from a book called Issei by Kazuo Ito. And he had someone draw a map, we think it's from the 1930s, of the Nihonmachi, kind of from Washington Street over to King and Seventh Avenue down to Second Avenue. And during the interview you mentioned some places, and I thought that this would be a good way to kind of give me an orientation. So I'm going to ask you about some of the places you mentioned and see if you can help me. So one thing we talked about was some of the jobs you had. One was cleaning bathtubs at a barbershop/bathhouse. And I think you said it was around Second Avenue. Can you point out where, about where that is? Like Second and Washington I think you said?

TK: Yeah, that was right, it would be, well, at that time, this was Second Avenue I think. It would be right in here.

TI: So right in there, so this is that bathhouse where for a dollar...

TK: Mr. Ito, Ito was the owner of the place. And Second Avenue wasn't cut through then. It was a solid here. It was solid, this part was solid. No Second Avenue there.

TI: And so during this time, the Japanese community extended all the way down here. I mean, I think now, I think of this now in the Pioneer Square area where this is.

TK: I think so, yeah.

TI: See, another thing that you mentioned, I notice right here, is the Furuya Company. This was where you'd pick up the groceries and then bring to Hoover, Hooverville, which would be way down in this area over here that you would bring that. You had another good story, when we were talking about jobs. You mentioned putting the cushions down on the chairs at the Nippon Kan. Now Nippon Kan would be where, Tad?

TK: Washington.

TI: So Washington, and, like, Sixth or Maynard. I guess Maynard, right around here?

TK: Yeah, it said Nippon Kan right here.

TI: Nippon Kan right here. So this is where the community, kind of a community theater center where you mentioned shibai and the other things were right there. That's where you had those colorful stories about Kinpachi, with the two pistols right there. You also mentioned the baseball field, which I think you said was on Fifth and Weller. So it's kind of off this, so Weller would be the next street over. So it would be right around here.

TK: Right up here.

TI: Weller. And that's where you would... and during this time, when you played baseball, is that when you were living on Weller also? 621?

TK: No, I was living on Yesler Way.

TI: Okay. So Yesler would be one more block.

TK: Next one, yeah.

TI: And then, you also mentioned, you know, when I was asking about Yamamoto, or Kinpachi, the gambling clubs. And you mentioned that they were on where, on like Maynard and King Street?

TK: Maynard, no. It was down, yeah, way down here.

TI: Okay, Maynard and more Weller, that area?

TK: Weller, it was just south of Weller Street, I think. As far as I know.

TI: So here would be the gambling and the drinking clubs.

TK: Well, I heard there was gambling there, I've never been in there, so I don't know for sure. [Laughs]

TI: We need to make sure. [Laughs] And then we also mentioned the brothels, or houses of prostitution. I've heard they were on Weller Street also.

TK: Weller Street.

TI: So there was probably a concentration of gambling, prostitution, and drinking more in this area here. And so this is a wonderful kind of schematic of how thriving this community was. I mean, it stretches from all the way First and Second up, really past Seventh in some ways, because the Buddhist church would be way up here on Fourteenth, up there.

TK: There was the original Buddhist church on Tenth Avenue. Tenth and Washington.

TI: Okay, so that'd been up several blocks. So this just really shows the heart of Nihonmachi. And there was the whole surrounding area that included. Well, good. Well, thank you, this was kind of interesting for me to be able to visualize a little bit more some of the places that you've talked about in your interview. And so we'll add this to your interview, so people can see some of this. Good, thank you.

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