Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tokio Hirotaka - Toshio Ito - Joe Matsuzawa Interview
Narrators: Tokio Hirotaka, Toshio Ito, Joe Matsuzawa
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Date: May 21, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-htokio_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay, so I think we'll get started here, and Mr. Matsuzawa, can you tell me where and when you were born?

JM: Well, I was born in Bellevue, not far from where the present Bellevue Square is located, and in 1913, January 26th, which is my birthday. But at that time transportation wasn't very good so my birth couldn't be recorded. And so, the doctor suggested that after I go to Seattle to get it registered, why, make it the official, on my birthday, birth certificate, 7 February, which is my official. But actually I was born on the 26th.

AI: I see.

JM: Well, that's when I was born, but the very first things, time in my life that I can recall is when we lived in Yarrow Point. And I remember the big snow of 1916. We moved from this Yarrow Point area to another house, oh, half a mile or so towards the, which is now I-520 on Ninety-second Street. And that's where I have my memories of my childhood, when I first started school. Then --

AI: Excuse me, before we get into that period of your life, can you give me some family background? What was your father's name, and your mother's name?

JM: My father... well, their family came from Niigata Prefecture. And they were married in Niigata and had one son, who stayed there, well, all his life. But my dad, he was one of the very few that were able to go to college. And so he went to college in Tokyo, Aoyama Gakuin is where he graduated from. Then he got a job with the government as a inspector for, I guess the tobacco. But he didn't like it because he was a real honest, conscientious person, and the people, farmers would raise tobacco and they would slip in some money for him to have (...) their tobacco graded to the highest price. So he didn't like that, and all the while he had intentions of coming to the United States. I think, he told me one time, he wanted to go to Louisiana, because that was a place where they grew rice.

Well, he came to the United States about 1906, if I remember right. And he worked here and there, and I think he worked at a dairy farm in Snoqualmie while he was here by himself. He left my mother in Japan, and the son there. But while he was working in the dairy, why, he was feeding a bull in a bullpen. And the bull got him down, he was kind of a mean animal, and he got him down and he crushed his chest, broke some ribs, and I guess punctured his lung. But he finally got a hold of the ring in the bull's nose and got out. But from then on, that was the beginning of his health... the rest of his life. So anyway, he suffered for a couple of years and he decided he'd go back to Japan, and see if he could get better medical attention. In the meantime, my mother had come over to be with him, but he had already scheduled to go back, so she stayed here. That was about a year or so later, that she came over.

Well, she had to stay here and he went back, and you can imagine what it was like for her, because (...) it was a social shock to anybody come over, didn't know the language, know the customs, didn't know anything. But she left this boy over in Japan, and she got herself a job as a housemaid. Then, during the time that she was off, the people at the Japanese Baptist Church, they had this thing called Fujin Home, I think it was. And she stayed there, and these ladies, they were Caucasian but they helped a lot, for her welfare. And I have to really admire my mother because she went through so much. But she decided that if she's gonna stay here, she has to learn a little bit of English, and other things. So she went to night school, and she learned some English, enough to read and write. She was able to -- while I was in the service -- she was able to write letters to me in English. And there's very few ladies that were able to do that in Bellevue, speak English. I think there was maybe two or three that could.

AI: Now how did your parents get reunited, and how did they end up here on the Bellevue eastside?

JM: Well, he eventually came back. He stayed there two years, and he came back. At that time, why, there were a few Japanese, but all they could do was farm, gardening, or that kind of thing. Everybody else was doing it, so that's how we got started down at Yarrow Point. The reason I think we started at Yarrow Point is because when my mother was, had her housework, why, she was working for a person down there -- he was a navy admiral or something -- and she was doing the housework. And she was familiar with that area at Yarrow Point, and had a little garden there. And that's where I was, have memories of my youngest time. And that is when we moved to this other place that I started school from.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: Well, thank you. Now I'm going to ask Mr. Hirotaka, where and when you were born?

TH: Oh. Will I remember? [Laughs] My dad and my mother both came from Hiroshima, Japan... [pauses] I figured, this is what I was afraid of, my mind, it goes. Since I had a stroke, why, it goes blank on me. And this is the hard part.

AI: Do you --

TH: But my dad's name was odd. It was very long: Tatsunosuke. And my mother's name was Chiono Morihara. And they came, my dad came to America in, around 1900, and Mother came over in... 1904. And their, I think their first home was around where Stennet's, Bill Stennet's Garage was on. That would be Main Street and 104th? Oh no, that's Bellevue Way. That's Bellevue Way now. No. And then they only... then they moved several times. But, where I was born was on Vue Crest on the lower end. On, that's ninety --

TI: Ninety-second.

TH: Ninety-second. Ninety-second and oh, I'd have say so about... northeast Tenth, yeah.

AI: And what year was that, that you were born?

TH: Oh, naturally. I was born in 1910. My birthday is February 17th. So I'm eighty-eight years old, I guess.

AI: And what -- oh, can you tell me about your brothers and sisters? Your older...

TH: I have one, I had, well my oldest brother was born in Japan. Gee, he came to America when he was sixteen, I believe. See, he didn't come over with my parents. And then my sister, my older sister, Kaz, was born in, on December 4, 1907. Or was it? No, it should be 1908, yeah, it should be 1908. And then I had a sister, Katy. She was two years younger than I was, so that means she was born...

AI: 1912.

TH: Boy, I'm having a terrible, terrible time remembering...

AI: That's fine. Two years younger, 1912.

JM: See, she was two years older than me, so...

TH: Yeah. And then, my youngest sister Mits -- Mitsue, I guess you would call her -- boy... gee, she's, I believe eighty years old now, so that would put it... eighty...

TI: 1918.

TH: You mean 1923? No, it wouldn't be, no. It would be about...

AI: So 1918 then, Mitsue was born.

TH: 19 --

AI: And she was the youngest?

TH: Well, anyway she was...

AI: And, did you have any other brothers and sisters?

TH: That's all.

AI: That's it.

TH: She was the last, last one. So, that's all.

AI: So that was your family.

TH: Yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Okay. And Mr. Ito, can you tell me where and when you were born? And a little bit about your parents?

TI: I was born in Bellevue in 1922, on October 23rd in the Highland area of Bellevue. And at that time it was known as Peterson Hill. Today it's the home of Glendale Golf Course. And the lower end of it is where Kelsey Creek now is part of the Bellevue park system, I believe.

AI: And what was your father's name, and your mother's name?

TI: My father's name was Itaro Ito, first-born in his family, eldest son. And my mother's maiden name was Shimeno Akiyama. They came from Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu, and they both lived in neighboring villages. My father's family were farmers, and I believe my mother's family also, for a short time. But they moved into the, a village closer to town, and so, after that I don't really know what happened to their occupation.

AI: And about when did your father come to the U.S.?

TI: My dad went to Hawaii, like many Issei parents did. And he worked on the pineapple plantations. And he stayed there until about 1906, and then he decided to come to the United States mainland, so he got off the ship in San Francisco. And he stayed in and around San Francisco, I don't really know what he did, odd jobs, that he could find, here and there I suppose. But after the big quake of 1906, and the fire, he decided to come up north to the Seattle area. And he was working in the Bellevue area in the farming, and clearing land for that purpose. My mother, meanwhile, was still in Japan. But she had her sister and her husband's family living in Seattle at that time, and they were pretty well-established. They had a barbershop. And Mr. Fukuda had a stall at the Pike Place Market, like a lot of early Issei farmers had in those days. Well, my dad, being Fukuoka-ken, and the Fukudas also were Fukuoka-ken, and in those days the ken people tended to stay together, and they were, they became quite friendly. So my aunt, Mrs. Fukuda decided that, well, she's got a younger sister in Japan... and she let her know that there's this man that's a Fukuoka-ken, and maybe they should get together. So she made arrangements for my mother to come over to, for the purpose, pretty much, I would imagine, to see and check out the prospects.

So, my mother got on the ship called Kashu Maru, and in those days I believe the Port of Tacoma was larger than what Seattle had. And most those ocean-going ships landed in Tacoma. So my mother got off at the Port of Tacoma. And the Fukudas came over by horse and buggy to Tacoma to pick her up, in Tacoma. But it was such a long journey in those days, they decided to stay overnight in Tacoma, and then they drove back to Seattle where the Fukudas live. And shortly after that, get together with my father. Well, they got married in the year 1909. And then they moved out to Bellevue to clear lands, and started in farming. I have, they had seven children, and the first two, Sachiko, I mean -- excuse me, Satomi and Sachiko, were born in Bellevue. On what is now Bellevue Way, where the Safeway store is located. That was, Satomi was born in 1910, and Sachiko was born in 1913. And then, shortly after that, they moved out to Peterson Hill, and the rest the family, Shigeru, born in 1916. Hiroshi, born in 1918. Sumi, born in 1920. I was born in 1922, and my youngest sister, and the last, was born in 1923. And that's about the family, that's my family.

AI: So that's your family. Thank you.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Now, Mr. Matsuzawa, I didn't ask you about your brothers and sisters.

JM: Oh, well my oldest one, like I said, was born in Japan. But my second brother next to me was born here in the States. He's two years older than I, and I was born, and then I had two sisters below me. And then after that there was two more boys. And I think one of the boys is the same age as Mr. Ito here.

TI: Oh, Tom? Tom was one year older.

JM: Oh. Well, they went to school, (...) there were six of us, and to go back to my mother, there was six kids that she had to take care of. And like I said before, when my dad's health went bad, that dictated what his life would be in later life. And so, my mother (...) had to take care of six of us, and all going to school. When my father died, I had just graduated from high school, Bellevue High School, 1931. And he died in 1932, at the age of fifty-two. Which, well, I guess I consider young. These days... anyway, that was during the Depression. The Depression really started in 1929, but then several years thereafter, it was really tough going.

AI: Right. Before we jump ahead to those times, I'd like to ask you all a little bit about some of your childhood memories. If you can think back to the time when you were young, starting grade school, do you have any memories of starting school, what that was like?

JM: Well, I started school when we were living in, near Yarrow Point, and there was a little grade school, almost to the entrance of the Evergreen Point floating bridge. It was the area where you enter Hunts Point. That was the first school I went to, and it was a school building that had all eight grades in that one building. And then, I started the second grade in Bellevue -- we moved to Bellevue -- right now I-405 consumes that property we were in, that's when I spent most of my younger days, when I was a kid. But I didn't have too many Japanese friends at that time, because south of us there was a Japanese family, they were just a couple, and on the other side was a family of five girls. Well, you know how, we didn't want to play with girls, so most of my friends were up on the hill -- on Wilberton Hill -- they were mostly Scandinavian descent, they were young fellows and I used to play with them. But later on, why, I became friends with most of the Japanese, due to circumstances. In Bellevue, our farm was down in the flats there, and that's where I -- I used to go hunting a lot -- and that's where I started to hunt, and I still do.

AI: What would you hunt?

JM: Well, we were hunting pheasant, and ducks and things. And I might add that, the area where most of the Japanese, Midlake area, I hunted ducks there, too. You would never know that there was a lake there now, but it was a really, a rural area there.

AI: Right, I don't think you'd see any pheasants down there now.

JM: No pheasant, there's just too much development. I don't think people would believe me when they, sometimes deer would come out there, and I could see deer tracks, eat our strawberries, things like that. That area in, where -- I think it's Eighth Street South -- where the trestle is. In that area down in the flats there's just brush and jungle down there. But you have buildings now, I don't know. They claim there's a locomotive sunk down into the peat moss, that was still yet. I don't think that many people know about it, but there is a locomotive down there, they never bothered to retrieve it.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AI: Well, what about the two of you? Any childhood memories? Starting school, any of your activities, what you did when you were a youngster?

TI: Well, like I mentioned earlier, I was born on Peterson Hill, but our family moved from there to the Midlakes area when I was about five years old. And my earliest recollection of going to school was starting kindergarten at the Bellevue grade school, I believe that's the same one where Mr. Matsuzawa went to. And well, we were in a Japanese row more or less on Peterson Hill, so I did not have any contact with any other children, other than Japanese family children. But when we moved to Bellevue, we were sorta isolated away from another Japanese row that, there was... consisted mostly of farmers again. But they were in a row and we were a little ways away from that. But when I started going to kindergarten, there were about seven or eight Japanese kids in the class. In fact, there's several of them still living in this area. Several families went back to Japan, but one thing I remember clearly is that we had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Baunsgard. And she really set the tone for me as far as learning about the skill in the early days. She was very helpful. She -- throughout her teaching career and afterwards, she was very beneficial to the Japanese community. Other than that, most of our fun times were pretty much geared around the Japanese community, where we had the clubhouse, and sports activities, and social gatherings.

AI: Now, Mr. Hirotaka, you were the only boy in your family, really. You must have had some responsibilities from a young age. But does anything stand out as times when you had fun, when you had playtime when you were a child, or when you were going to school? Anything like that come to mind? Did you also go to the Bellevue grade school?

TH: Yes, we all graduated from Bellevue High School but, when I started grade school I went to the old Main Street school. And, that's many many years ago, now. [Laughs] But high school, I graduated in '28, played a little basketball, and a lot of baseball... it's hard to believe, but I was on the Honor Society at one time. [Laughs]

AI: Were there very many other Japanese kids in your class?

TH: Any other? I was in Bellevue Seinenkai. I remember the Bellevue Historical Society, and Bellevue Yao city, Bellevue, Yao Sister City.

AI: Well, speaking of the Seinenkai, I understand that means something like a 'young people's club'? Mr. Matsuzawa, I was wondering if you remember when that was formed.

JM: I was a member of it, I never did, wasn't capable, so I never was a officer but, like Mr. Hirotaka and several others, (...) were always in the official position, and leadership positions. (...) Most of the kids of Mr. Ito's age, they were almost all the same age, so they had teams and they played pretty good together. Whereas like Mr. Hirotaka and myself, a little bit older, and there hadn't, not too many of us. So we just gathered whoever we could and we played ball, and we got beat all the time. But by the time that these younger folks got of age, they gelled pretty well, and one time they won the Northwest championship, baseball. And we played football, and I played high school baseball, Tok played in the -- Mr. Hirotaka played baseball, too. If they had other sports, I would have played, too, I had also basketball. We all played it at one time. The younger folks, Bellevue High School, had a football team. Why, they won a championship, and Mr. Ito was part of it, and his brother, Hiroshi, was part of it. There were two or three other people that were prominent in athletics. We were all pretty proud of them.

AI: Sounds like it was very active with sports.

JM: In later years, everyone (...) pretty much, played well together.

AI: And who did the coaching? Where, how...?

JM: Well, football team, the high school coach volunteered. Mr. Green, is that right?

TI: Well, he was a schoolteacher, also. Yeah, Norman Green was the coach when I was going, and during my junior year I believe, he was replaced by Mr. Phil Pesco, who was also a teacher. And he coached basketball and football.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: But, in the older days I think the sporting, sports events, and participating in that was one of the major social outlets for the Niseis, because so many of the other mainstream activities were closed to the Japanese at that time. But gradually, as the years went by, things did start to open up little by little. Up until World War II started.

AI: So in, it sounds like in the beginning that all-Japanese sports were very important, a kind of all-Nisei? Is that...

JM: Well after, the younger people got of age, that was the only thing that kept them together, because gradually we started to feel that there was a little bit of discrimination. And so, sports and social events among ourselves was what kept us together. And then that kind of dictated to the deportment of most of the young people, because Bellevue had a real good reputation of being a good, solid community. Family values and things like that. And we never had any real bad incidences, like there were in other places. We had a couple of questionable characters, but it didn't amount to anything.

AI: And it sounds like there wasn't that much mixing with the mainstream Caucasian community in those days. Is that right?

JM: No, I don't think... some people had real good neighbors. I think Mr. Ito had good neighbors. And I know of two or three others that were really good neighbors; they took care of their property for them while they were in camp and they returned to their places to do farming or whatever they did. But most of the people didn't come back, they went elsewhere. People were getting older, you know. And so they decided, I guess, to go on their own.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, speaking of the farming, I wanted to ask you each to tell me a little bit about what your farms, your family farms looked like. What kind of crops you grew, what was the daily life like on a farm, growing up on a farm?

TI: Let me mention, going back to my good family friend, the Clark Jenkins. They looked after our farm while we were gone, and also they stored our valuables, pictures and family things that we could not take to camp. And neither did we want to sell it. These were items that are cherished by most families, early childhood and family pictures. Unfortunately their house burned down. Mr. Hirotaka's family also had their family goods stored with the same family, and so they lost all of those items also.

Now, getting on the farms here, I think our family farm, usually about ten acres. And my dad liked to -- I wouldn't say liked to -- but they moved around quite a bit in Bellevue. One of the reasons was that the leases were usually around five years or so, a tradeoff for clearing the land and having free use of the land for those years. Then the, as the soil was depleted of the nutrients -- for instance, strawberries -- why, they would move on to another place and go over the same process again. But the main crop was strawberries in the Bellevue area in those days. But later on, after the Bellevue, especially after, the Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association was established, they were able to ship vegetables to the East Coast by rail car. And some of the items that they handled were tomatoes, and peas was the big thing, and cauliflower, and I don't know about lettuce, did they ship lettuce out of there?

JM: Some.

TI: Some? Oh.

JM: Yeah, but not very much. I know they shipped celery.

TI: Oh, celery.

JM: Yeah. And peas. Yeah, tomatoes.

TI: Okay.

JM: And I might add too, that that warehouse provided a lot of employment for people in Bellevue.

TI: That's right. Summer help for the school kids.

JM: So, that was one of the main, what you'd call industries, to put Bellevue on the map. Because we had our trademark on these items and they were shipped back east.

TI: Was it called, one of 'em was "Bellevue Brand," or...?

JM: Yeah. They spelled that a little different, though. B-E-L-L-E...

TI: Oh, oh that's right. They spelled differently than the name, "Bellevue."

JM: But they had a reputation of having good produce.

TI: But they also raised many other vegetables, other than the shipping. They had for instance, strawberries that you couldn't, we didn't ship. And they, we raised beans and cabbage and...

JM: Well, there was a lot of other item, or produce that were raised for the local market, and everybody had a little bit of everything. Because, you couldn't depend on one thing to get a little revenue to live on.

AI: What would be some of your earliest crops of the season, that would come out first?

TI: Lettuce was probably one of the earlier crops. Lettuce.

JM: Strawberries.

TI: Strawberries was in June, yeah.

JM: The early lettuce was 'bout the same time, I guess.

TI: Yeah, and cauliflower came out pretty early, too.

JM: But myself, I wasn't much of a farmer because, (...) the way we started out, like I said, my dad was in poor health. And so we struggled along all right. We made it. My dad, everybody knew about his education, so every time something come up, why, he would have to go out. And he wasn't physically able to do it, but he went out anyway. And they'd have all kinds of meetings, Japanese Association, and every other minor things that would come up -- say even within the family -- they would come to him. And he'd have to go out. 'Course he didn't work so much out in the field, it was my mother and all of us kids who tried to keep it going. So I can't say that I was one of the best farmers around there. But I think Mr. Ito and Hirotaka here, when Mr. Matsuoka came to help and living with them, why, they were quite successful.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: In fact, can you talk a little bit about that, when Tom Matsuoka came to Bellevue?

TH: Let's see. He married my sister Kaz in 1926 -- that's the year she graduated. He coached our Seinenkai team in baseball. And he was a quite, very good coach. He was manager of the Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association, so, yeah, he had something to do -- quite a bit to do -- with the economy. But I think you've got a lot of information from him direct. But he was pretty important in the Bellevue community.

TI: Yeah, he was an all-around community leader in all areas of the Bellevue Japanese community in those days.

TH: Yeah.

AI: Why would you say that happened? What was it about him that...

JM: Well, he was really a person that was just a natural leader. When we were pretty young, most of us -- I wouldn't say most of us -- a lot of us lost our fathers, while they were young. So that left a lot of us young people to fend for ourselves. And we used to always go to him, or he would give us advice. Even the Issei respected him for his thoughts, and leadership, so that's how he got involved. He had his farm to take care of. But, yet he went out and tried to help the Issei because he was able to speak English quite well and he was able to have contact with businessmen in Seattle, and to do business for the Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association. So he knew quite a few high-powered people in Seattle, and that's the way that he was, all during the time that he was in Bellevue. And that is... one reason why he was picked up by the FBI very first thing. Because he was a leader, not because he was disloyal or anything like that.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, now I also wanted to get a little better picture about the farming because, all the crops that you described are all, sound to me like vegetables that grow really close to the ground. That must have been very hard labor, working on those crops.

TI: Boy, it was all --

JM: We just took it for granted, that it was -- didn't think it was hard.

TI: Yeah, it was all hand and knees work, with a hoe. In those days there were very few farmers that had tractors, it was more or less a team of horses, or a single horse, to cultivate. And sometimes you hired a person that had a team of horses that would hire out, and you would hire them to plow your land to prepare it for crops. Because some families were not able to afford to keep a horse just for the crop season, and the rest of the time it's sittin' in the barn or in the pasture and you still have to feed it year-round. And money was pretty hard to come by. So, the tractors were not being used by Japanese farmers in this area until about 1939 or 1940. I remember the John Deere Company came, around 1940 I believe it was, with a screen and some of those old-time reels at the Japanese clubhouse, showing off their John Deere model L and model L-A tractors, they were about the size that were suitable for this area. And that's one of the memories that I have.

JM: In regards to that, they gave each one of us something, and we ended up with a crescent wrench. Which I think my brother has still got.

TI: I don't recall that. [Laughs]

JM: They gave out, yeah, tools, hand tools.

TI: Is that right? Oh.

AI: Well, now as I understand it, sometime around in the thirties, is that when the strawberry festival began?

TI: What year was it, when they first started that?

TH: Oh, gosh...

JM: Yeah, it was somewhere in the...

TI: Early thirties, wasn't it?

JM: Late twenties, and thirties until we left.

TI: Well they used to come around and ask for donations of crates of strawberries, and so of course when the Japanese farmers had to leave, the festival came to an end.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: Well, you were just saying that it was surprising how many Japanese farms there were.

TH: Yeah. It's really...

TI: Well, I think there were about sixty families, and around 300 people. And I guess almost all the families were farming at that time. I don't recall anybody that was doing, or in other kind of businesses. And the produce that was not being shipped from the Vegetable Growers Association, for the most part were sold in Seattle. Some of it, a good portion of it I'd say, at Pike Place Market. And most of the rest went to West -- what was called Western Avenue, and it was a row of commission houses that sold produce that was produced on the farms not only in Bellevue, but in the Kent Valley and Fife, and areas of the other Japanese communities. People either had trucks to haul it in there themselves, or else they hired a transfer company. In Bellevue, there was, Mike Downey had a transfer company and Anderson Feed and Fuel and they would make daily rounds towards the end of the day, when the produce was harvested and packaged, and ready to be shipped out. They'd come by and pick it up and haul it in to Seattle. I don't know whether they brought it in that evening or the following morning. But most of it was sent over there on a commission basis, so if sometimes things didn't sell, well, you didn't get any money for it. Other times when they sold, why, they would send a check out.

And the other source of marketing as I recall was that, some of the farmers had small individual stands alongside their farm, and they sold some of their produce in that manner. In those days, you didn't have to have a permit to put up a stand or put up a shack of a house, like at the present time, why, it's strictly on permit. Permit only.

AI: Did any of you have any of the, did any of you sell your vegetables there at the side of the road?

JM: For a short time, I went to, sold at Pike Market, but it was on farmers' row. And there were (...), I would say there were Japanese and Italians, were selling there. But the way they worked it, for the individual farmer, why, you worked from way down -- it would be, I guess towards Stewart Street? The first day you got one that wouldn't, no customers'd be around there so much. And gradually you'd work up more towards the Pike Place, and if you're lucky, why, you would get the stand every day. But I think, if I remember right, maybe every other day or every three days, we got a stand that we worked up. And if you got a stand up close to where everybody was coming, why, you'd make pretty good. I hit it one time, and I sold everything in half a day, and I don't know how much it was, I wasn't too much on finances. But I thought it was good. I had to just give the stand up to the next guy next to me, and they did all right. But, I didn't stay there very long. This is right, little bit before the war, and I think Tok Hirotaka was down there for a while, too.

And I had a neighbor that had his, had greenhouses and he used to sell cucumbers there, that was his specialty. Those things sold because they were produce that were out of season, and they sold very well. But things that couldn't be sent to the commission houses in Western Avenue, they would take down theirs, sold. And a lot of it was not very good. They were edible and all that, but they weren't number one, as people in the commission house wanted. So, sometimes I'm a little bit reluctant to buy things at the Pike Market. [Laughs]

That's the way another outlet was, down there. I know some Japanese families that just made businesses of it, because they'd come, I see them down every day. But they would buy from other farmers, and they would make a little bit every day, so kept alive on that. And some of these people were widows. That had families, and they went down there, and I've really gotta give them credit. Because that's the way most Japanese were, those days. They just did whatever they could do to make a living, make an honest living, anyway.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Now, other memories about the market?

JM: I can remember one incident that involved myself and Tok. His truck went bad, I think, one day, and we were both going to take our produce in. But his truck went bad, so I loaded all his stuff on my truck, but my load was up front, which wasn't very heavy. His stuff was pretty heavy, and I loaded it all in the back of my truck and we, at that time they had this ferry from Medina to Leschi Park. It was a side-wheeler ferry, and they carried vehicles.

But anyway, we went up, got on the ferry all right, but trying to get off the ramp, why, it was pretty steep and all the load was in the back, and the truck upended. The front end went up in the air and got hung up on a bolt. The load didn't come down until some guy came and pulled a rope, and everything went on the ferry. The whole load, everything. We had a real mixed salad, there. Strawberries, lettuce, cauliflower, everything else, and I guess the captain, he was pretty mad about it. He missed the one ferry on it, so we had to carry the stuff that was on the ferry, and put it in a tent, put it back in the truck, and went back home and repacked it. [Laughs] But personally I, I really, really felt bad because, money was not that easy, and lose a load like that... we retrieved some of it, but it was okay, but that's one of the incidents that happened.

AI: Oh, well that was one of the bad days. [Laughs] Well now, that was when you had the ferry. Before the ferry, how did you get your vegetables over to market?

JM: There always was a ferry there. As far as I can remember, there was always a ferry there, but...

TH: Sure seemed like it.

JM: Yeah. But when we lived in Yarrow, there used to be a passenger boat that'd go from point to point. Like, from Yarrow Point to Hunts Point, and then Evergreen Point and then to Seattle. And that was a passenger ferry, but boat. It wasn't a ferry. For passengers only. Because there were more walk-ons than there were vehicles. Anyway, that was it. The other two ferries, the two ferries that were off across the lake was at Medina to Leschi, Kirkland to Madison Park.

TI: They went to Roanoke, too, on Mercer Island, from Leschi. Fortuna.

JM: Oh, that was Mercer Island, because they only had one wooden bridge on the east channel. Mercer Island.

TI: Yeah, that's right.

JM: But no bridge from Mercer Island to Seattle. So Mercer Island also was really isolated, it was, there was no one there, just wild animals, and I remember one dairy farm there. He was close to the bridge so he brought his milk and stuff to the eastside.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: In those days around Bellevue had quite a few dairies, and quite a few poultry farms.

JM: Well, the, most of the Caucasian that lived around there, had cows and chickens.

AI: What about you, did any of your families have any animals? Cows, chickens, other kind of...

TH: We all had chickens.

TI: Yeah, we all had chickens and some had ducks, and some had geese, I think.

JM: We had chickens and, let's see. Well, we had a pig.

TI: Oh yeah. We did, too.

TH: Pigs and chickens. [Laughs]

TI: But I believe most of the Japanese families did not have dairy cows. For one thing, I don't think the farmers had time to milk the cows, I mean, they were so busy trying to raise the produce.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: In fact, speaking of busy, what would be a typical day, like when would you get up in the morning, and what would be the first things you would be doing in the morning?

TI: In my case was, at least during the harvest time and just prior to, why, we worked a little bit before going to school, and went to school. And soon as the school's over, came back and you changed clothes, and grab a bite to eat, and then go back out in the fields and work 'til almost dinnertime. So there was very little playtime left in the day.

JM: Well (...), very few farmers hired, they'd just depend on their own family to get the work done. And, well, one thing they couldn't afford it, and another thing they, most of the people you hired, they weren't very efficient, or they didn't know, so...

AI: So it was really a family effort, for --

JM: Yeah, most of 'em were all family affairs.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AI: Well, and speaking of the family, too, it seems like the family was so important, you're all working together, all doing what they, best they can to make a living for the whole family. I was wondering what kind of values your parents emphasized to you, if any of your parents ever talked to you about being Nihonjin, and what did that mean, how they expected you to behave, how they wanted you to act, and grow up, that kind of thing.

TI: Well they stressed honesty for one thing, and they wanted to have you get the best education through the school system as much as possible -- besides all the work that you had to do around the farm. Well, they stressed that you should have some fun along the way, too, but there was very little time for that.

JM: They really stressed pride in who you are. I mean, if you did something wrong, why, it would really hurt them. As a kid I remember one case where some, some boy got into trouble, and the father came to the Japanese Association meeting, and he hung his head and apologized for what his kid done. Those kinds of things, they really stressed at that time.

TI: There were several Japanese families that had some troublesome children, had got into a little mischief. The way they handled it was that they sent the child back to Japan and had the parents -- grandparents bring them up until they got to be maybe teenagers, or long enough to crack the problem. And then, then they had 'em come back out. So they were more or less Kibeis when they came back.

JM: Well, they wanted to kind of take care of it themselves. I mean, the Japanese community take care of themselves. They didn't go to the authorities for anything that was a problem. They just -- within the community -- they try to iron those things out, that's the way they thought. Because it would spoil the reputation of everybody, if they went to the authorities it would be in the papers and everything. Bellevue, though, like I say, had a pretty good reputation of being a model bunch of people.

AI: And when you were, like say in your teenage years, how did you feel about being, did you feel some pride in being Nihonjin, being part of the Japanese American community?

JM: I didn't give it any real deep thought, it just, well, it took for granted that you're supposed to act like you're supposed, like you're told.

TI: Yeah, for the most part, I didn't feel any different than anybody else, and I'd like to think that I was accepted in the same manner. But sometimes you wonder.

JM: Yeah. [Laughs]

AI: Well, and then, of course, I guess everything pretty much changed in 1941. Actually, before war started, I understand that some people had a feeling that there might be some trouble with Japan. Is that -- did any of your families sense that, or have any discussion about that kind of...

TI: Well, these families left several years before 1941, in the late '30s. Some of the kids that were in my class, their families went back, I don't recall the names of the families. But I believe there was a Ueno family...

JM: My neighbor family went back, they just, I guess they must have sensed something, but they went back before the war. But they left two daughters, I guess, here in the States, and they left, went to Japan. That's the only one I can recall, but I'm sure there were others. I think my other neighbor, too, the old couple, they left, too.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: Well, that year, before the war started, can you give me kind of a picture of what the Japanese farming communities looked like? You know, what -- you had mentioned earlier that there were a couple of rows of Japanese farms in a row. Can you kind of paint me a picture of what these areas looked like?

TI: On Peterson Hill, I believe there were about seven families, and they all had about ten acres. And this row that they built about midway through these long, ten-acre strips of land, they all had the houses on, well most of 'em had the houses on the lower side of the road, some of 'em were on the upper side. But they all, pretty much raised the same thing. They were all in neat rows. And it was all going, the rows were always going east and west, never north and south because that land was pretty hilly. And it would be pretty hard to cultivate the land going alongside the side of the hill, it'd be much easier to go up and down. And I think that was the primary reason that they raised the rows in that manner. And quite a few of the families irrigated, because that was high ground, and Kelsey Creek -- at that time known as First Creek -- was used to irrigate their dry land. They had a, well, a lot of us, in fact most of us at that time did not have any electricity, so they used gas-powered pumps to pump the water from the stream, by way of 2 inch steel pipes in most cases. They didn't have any of these convertible, rolling type irrigation mechanisms that they do have today. So a lot of that was all hard hand work. You had to disconnect the pipes every season, after the crops were done so you can plow up the land. And in the spring you reversed, and you connected all the pipes together again and got it ready to harvest when the ground start drying out, because, you can get maybe two to three times the crop that you would by irrigating. And if you don't, why, your harvest is maybe half or less. So that was a big thing.

AI: And then what about your farm right before war started, where were you farming? What did it look like in that area?

TH: We were on [inaudible], and we worked five acres. But we were leasing ten. So we were farming fifteen acres. And our main crop, well, let's see, our biggest crop was lettuce, tomatoes, and peas. We tried a little strawberries at one time but it didn't work out quite like we wanted it to, so, it's primarily lettuce, peas, were our two main... lettuce, peas, and tomatoes were our main source of resource.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: And what about when you think back to that farming that you did in those days, what were some of the hardest parts of the farming? It sounds like a lot of work, but what sticks out in your mind?

JM: I don't think that we thought it was real hard work, because if you look at it now, from what the people did those days, you'd think it was a real struggle. But I think most of 'em took it for granted, that's just work. Everyone else done it, so why can't we? Oh, it was hard work, I guess. But we were all young, and healthy, and strong.

TI: I think we were all going through the same thing. I mean, no one was playing around when somebody else was working, I think we all pretty much worked and then pretty much played together. While I was at Peterson, though, I do remember one other thing, is this First Creek. Like many other streams and creeks around Bellevue, they were just loaded with sockeye, and chum salmon, and sometimes cohos, and kings. And you could stab a pitchfork into a small pool, and most times you could come up with two or three sockeye. Almost every time. And I don't think people would even believe that today, if you talked to them about what the streams were like in those days. And that was also a good food source for many farmers, at least it was for us, and those people that lived along the stream, on First Creek.

AI: So you would just go out there, take a fishing pole out there?

JM: We didn't have a fishing pole, you just fished 'em out with a shovel or pitchfork.

TI: I'm sure there was some regulations, but then we didn't, we disregarded all of that.

JM: Well, there was so many of them. In my case, why, it was more of a ditch along the side of the plot, garden plot. But it was maybe two or three feet wide, and the water was coming out from some source, I think probably up there at Midlakes.

TI: Yeah, I believe that was out of Lake Sturtevant or, Midlakes as we used to know it.

JM: And like Tosh says, why, the fish would come right up in those ditches even, and spawn. Then, summertime, all year round we used to go fishing down there, but all we'd catch is little baby salmon. They weren't very big, but they had hatched up somewheres, and we'd fish for 'em. Once in a while we'd catch something that's probably six, eight inches long, a rainbow, but most of it was little salmon. But that was the source of fun, for us to go down there and fish.

AI: It sounds like good eating, too.

JM: Well, they weren't very big, but you'd sure catch enough of 'em. And another thing was down there was crawfish, and...

TI: Oh, yeah.

JM: And freshwater mussels.

TI: Did you ever try eating those? I, we never did, but I...

JM: No. But I find out that they're edible.

TI: There used to be a lot of freshwater eels in the streams, too. It was just, it was unbelievable.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

JM: Kinda unbelievable, but these areas that have a real nice housing was all cleared by the Japanese, by hand labor, horse, dynamite, and everything. That's, those kinds of things were available to us at that time. But in Bellevue, why, I don't know what they call it now, but Downey Hill is a nice housing area, that is cleared by Japanese up there, where Tosh Ito was living, was cleared by Japanese, but it's a fancy golf course now. And the Midlake row, that was all farmed, cleared and farmed by Japanese, and now I think the Northwest headquarters of Safeway is there. Is that right?

TI: Yes, it's Safeway's distribution center for the West, yeah.

JM: Yeah, Northwest distribution center.

TI: And, I mean, that spawned off Coca-Cola across the street from them now, too. They have their big distribution center, and then a lot of other, smaller companies along the side.

JM: So all this happened after the, well, just before the war, I guess, or was it after? It's after the war.

TI: No, Safeway bought, in the year 1953 I believe it was, that Safeway bought all those farmers out.

JM: That's right.

TI: And then Coca-Cola came in a few years after that.

AI: It sounds like in the early days, before the war, the Japanese were really responsible for clearing the way for all this later development.

JM: It wasn't recognized until real late what the contribution that the Japanese have made for Bellevue. They're just now starting to recognize all the things that they've done.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Well it sounds like there was so much activity there right in the '30s, and right up, leading up to the war. And then we come to 1941, and could you tell me a little bit about happened to you that year? Was it shortly before you were a young man?

JM: (...) After I got out of school, I tried to farm a little bit where I was right now -- well at that time it was where 405 and Main Street meet. Right in that area, right now I think the Doubletree Inn stands where we used to have a pigpen down there one time. But anyway, then our family had a chance to move to Redmond, yeah, I think Redmond. A family, Japanese family was, they were another family that was going to Japan, and they wanted to get rid of the farm, so they went over. And that was in 1940, I think. And I stayed around, tried to kind of straighten out whatever I had in Bellevue, and then the war broke out. So that was the end of that.

While I was in Bellevue, between that time I was to move up to Redmond, I worked for awhile at the Midlakes Feed and Fuel, and I was driving a truck for the feed company. I guess the union folks seen me in Seattle, and they told the Midlakes Feed and Fuel men to get rid of me. [Laughs] So I had to quit. And then, shortly after that, why, the war broke out and... and I don't know, I just, my mind was a blank, I didn't know what to do, what was gonna happen to me when I heard about this war.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: How did you hear about it? On that day.

JM: I think it was radio, or something. I don't quite remember exactly, but I think it was on the radio. That was the only thing, we didn't have much of a radio, and I think it was a newspaper, too. But I didn't know what was gonna happen to me, whether we'd be sent back, or... I didn't think that we would ever go into a camp, get interned. But I thought worse.

TI: My recollection of the Pearl Harbor Day was that, I distinctly remember it was, of course, December 7th on a Sunday morning. And before the announcement came out over the radios, my mother and I went into Seattle, across the floating bridge. At Panama Hotel located at Sixth and Main Street, my sister Sachiko and her husband were living at the Panama Hotel at that time. And we got there around ten in the morning, and I heard this radio blast, that, saying, "All troops report to your stations. All troops report to your stations," all morning long. And that the war has broken out, and Pearl Harbor was bombed and severely damaged. Well, we stayed in Seattle all day long. Towards evening we were coming home, and just before we got to the entrance to that Mount Baker tunnel, a Seattle police officer stopped me. He says, "Get out of the car," and so I did, and my mother stayed in the car. He says, "Open up the trunk." And, well, I did. And he searched the car, and found that there was no weapons, or no bombs, or anything like that so, he told me, "Go on ahead, for wherever you're headin' for." So I still remember that incident.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: But after we got home, why, you know there was always talk that the war was gonna happen, and I had just gotten out of high school in 1941, the same year. So I was kind of in limbo, wondering what to do. Well, there was no talk of evacuation at that time yet, so we continued with our process of getting our plants seeded in the greenhouse, getting it ready for the following year's crops. And just continued on normally, like, like we would have. But when we found out that we had to evacuate... prior to that they put a curfew on the hours that you could stay outside, and that was I think until about 8 o'clock in the evening, or until dusk. And we had a radius of 35 miles where you could travel so, I mean, it was almost like being under house arrest already. And then they came out with this evacuation order, and we left in May. Some of the earlier crops that were just about ready to harvest, some farmers were able to sell those. But a company called Western Produce Company came along and took most of the crops at whatever amount of money that you could negotiate for. And a lot of times it was practically nothing. But we were all up against it, and the farmers had to sell their tractors and their trucks and their cars, and those that owned property had to make arrangements for somebody to take care of the place, not knowing when they might be able to come back, if ever. Others that were leasing, they didn't have as much to lose because they didn't own anything, but -- I mean property-wise -- but we all had a tremendous financial loss there, when we left. Of course we didn't know where we were going, either. They didn't tell us we were going to go down to Pinedale --

AI: Let me -- excuse me, let me take you back a little bit, there's a lot of things that happened in between December 7th and having to leave. But you mentioned on that day, when you heard about the radio, the war breaking out. That you were there visiting with your older sister. Do you remember if your mother, or your sister, or brother-in-laws had much discussion about what was going on, did they realize? You could understand English, so you heard the radio reports, but did they realize what was happening, and did they have any conversation about what was gonna happen, or what they were worried about, or what was... do you recall any of that?

TI: Well, maybe they were in too much shock, I don't really know. I think the reaction was that, "The war finally started." I mean, it seemed to me that they were all more or less anticipating that sooner or later Japan and the United States were going to go to war.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: And Mr. Hirotaka, what about you? Do you have much recollection about Pearl Harbor Day, or how you found out about the war starting?

TH: Well, I know one thing is, they picked up Tom Matsuoka pretty fast.

AI: What was your reaction when you heard about that?

TH: It kind of shook us up. Because we did a lot of things together, including farming. So, it was... well, it kinda threw us off stride.

AI: Did it worry you that maybe you or somebody else would be picked up, too?

TH: Yeah. What the future was gonna hold for us. But we figured well, if you look at it from another standpoint, why, we figured it'll give us a chance to rest a little bit. What we... what really was bad was we had lettuce that was ready to cut. And they said, "If you cut it, you're disloyal," and all. So, I understand that they thought a handful of people could handle all the farm products. And they only cut, I think they cut about thirty-five crates or so, and all the rest went. And I don't think they harvested hardly any of the peas, and tomato plants were going to set out. Why they let it go and it got too big, so they couldn't transplant 'em outside. And oh, what a mess.

AI: Sounds like there was a lot of waste there.

TH: Yeah, but we lived through it. It was... but it was a shocking period during our life. I think it's kind of a low point in our life.

AI: I had heard that... that somebody, I guess, the government representatives or somebody told farming families that they had to keep farming, even though you didn't know what was gonna happen to you, and there was some rumor you... some people like Mr. Matsuoka were taken away, and you had no idea if you were gonna be forced to go someplace. Is that true, that you were told you had to keep farming?

TH: Yeah.

AI: What did they, did they threaten you? Or did they say, that if you stopped farming, what would happen, or...

JM: Well, they said that you'd be disloyal. And if you're disloyal during the war, that's a real bad thing. And so everybody kept their crops up until the last, but then in the end, no one harvested. They were not very efficient at it, so a lot of it, well, most of it went to waste I guess. And then I, I think Tom Matsuoka was gone so... and they had to have this, somebody to sign for these papers for the Vegetable Association. Well, there was another gentleman, he was a farmer, Tak Sakaguchi, he became president or the manager, and then they had to have somebody sign it. So I signed 'em all, I didn't know what I was signing but I signed 'em all off. And I think I still got some of the receipts that farmers got that, I gave some to Mr. Matsuoka, but I think I still have some that involve some of the Bellevue families, how much they received for whatever they, they got. But I was leasing land at that time, but we was on the, you know, in between the move, I was going to go to Redmond so we didn't have much, I didn't lose too much that way, but...

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

JM: Before the war, when they started to draft people, why, some of the fellas, well a few people were drafted first, and then my number came up and I was drafted.

AI: And that was before the war.

JM: That was before the war. But between the time that I was to report for duty, the war had broke out. Well, that put me in another class again. I was 1-A one, and this was 4-, 4-something, "enemy alien." So I had to go to camp and of course I was in this Seinenkai so everybody give me a send-off, because I had my date to report for duty. Well, the war broke out, and I changed my classification, and left me with a -- [laughs] -- gave me a send-off, so I didn't know what to do but I went with the rest of the Bellevue people. Got on a train, and I think it was Juanita, I don't remember exactly the spot, do you?

TI: I think it was at the Kirkland station, right below the railroad tracks?

JM: It was some station and, we all got on. And the soldiers were there, they had rifles and everything. And we could only carry a certain amount, and they put us in the train and we went south, pulled all the blinds. I went right by my farm, the trestle --

TI: Remember, I think they were all old World War I --

JM: Yeah.

TI: -- passenger coaches. They were all rusty and dirty, and...

JM: Oh they were cattle cars, I guess.

TI: And they had MPs on every car, at both ends.

JM: But we didn't know where we were going.

TH: Yeah.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

JM: We ended up in Pinedale, California, that's right out of Fresno. And to go from a moderate climate like we had here, and go down there, why that was, that was a 180 degrees different.

AI: Yeah. Well, and --

JM: But then down there, it gets to be 100 or so, and dry and hot, and dusty and dirty. [Laughs]

TI: Oh boy. I remember those barracks, they had these single bed cots with the straw tick mattresses, and then they had these four posts for the bed. And they had this asphalt flooring, and it got so hot that all four of those posts when you got on the bed, it would sink all the way down to the hard, hard surface of the ground underneath.

JM: There was tarpaper on the roof outside, so that attracted the heat, and it made it like an oven in there. You couldn't sleep at nights, hardly. And then...

TI: Didn't do any good to open up the doors, that's for sure. [Laughs]

TH: Yeah, and gets up over a 100 degrees in that tarpaper shack, it's pretty hard to take.

JM: And then, around the mess halls, they had open pits to run their water -- waste water for washing dishes, so forth. Well it all went in these open pits and that thing got so hot, and start to smell, and it was really unhealthy.

AI: Sounds like the conditions were terrible.

JM: Well, it was supposed to have been an assembly area.

TI: So it was just a temporary thing, but it really was temporary. All of it was just makeshift.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AI: Well, what was going through your mind? How did you feel when, being forced out of your homes, gettin' on this old train with the MPs, the soldiers, and going down to this strange place?

JM: Well, I think the younger people, they just didn't think too much of it then, because everybody went. It wasn't just, they didn't pick you out, or anybody. Everybody went. So it wasn't quite that traumatic, but deep down inside you think about what is being done to you, it's hard to take.

AI: And here you were, you were, or had been drafted. You were, in your mind you were --

JM: Yeah, they rejected me, you see, because of the war. And... well, that's another story, but after they started drafting 'em out of the camps, I happened to be out, but my number came up again. And so I had to go.

AI: So you were redrafted. Eventually.

JM: Redrafted, and, but you might as well say I volunteered, because I went in -- they gonna draft me anyway -- and the only place I could go was 442nd, so I went in the 442nd down at Camp Shelby.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: I was out on a work release program, you know, they were...

AI: Oh, excuse me, before you, before you jump to that, we are getting ahead a little bit here, but just before we, you were just talking about Pinedale. And for people who don't know, I wanted to ask you, when you were leaving Pinedale, what did you, did they tell you what was gonna happen, that you were going to a more permanent camp? What did you, what were you told?

TH: Well, the Pinedale was under the jurisdiction of the military, of the U.S. Army, or military... and Tule Lake was WRA, under jurisdiction of WRA. But as far as Pinedale was concerned, the army served us better food. The military, the food was better. 'Cause, well it wasn't much to brag about, but when you compare it with Tule Lake, it was better.

AI: Well, now you were all used to having fresh vegetables, and things that you had grown yourself. Your chickens and your eggs, and...

TI: I remember some of those kitchens, though, where they, people were mostly farmers, they didn't have very many good cooks, so the food might have been better, but it wasn't prepared in the best way that it could have been. But we all survived. And I don't really know whether they told us that we were gonna go up to Tule or not from Pinedale, do you?

JM: No, I don't think so, until a few days, or couple of weeks before we left.

TI: Yeah, as I recall, I think it was pretty abrupt. They didn't tell us how long we were gonna stay at Pinedale. And when they did tell us, they didn't tell us where we were going again.

AI: So had you, you were at Pinedale for what, a few months? And then you were --

JM: I think it must have been a couple of months, wasn't it?

TI: We left Bellevue around the 20 -- between the 20th and 22nd of May, as I recall.

JM: And it seemed like we were there a couple of months.

TI: Yes. At least two months. Maybe longer.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

JM: But anyway, in Pinedale, they even organized a... kind of like a, you're supposed to govern yourself, you know. So anyway, I ended up in the fire department, so did Tok here and several other people I know.

AI: Did you ever have any fires you had to deal with?

JM: No, no we didn't. We had a practice, or whatever you call 'em. And we had to make the rounds every... well, every night, or during the day.

TH: It's, 24 hours that, fire department.

JM: You had different crews. And we got acquainted with people who we didn't know. We got to be friends with a lot of people from different areas at that time.

TH: There was twenty-one members in that fire department, and we divided into three groups of seven each. And then it would rotate, this seven would take a eight-hour shift. And then from the next group would take the, and so forth. And then the following week, the one that was on this end would move up one, and this one would move up one, and the one on the end would come down. So it was fixed so that we were supposed to get the breaks, but as Joe says, we made a lot of friends because they took people from different areas. But our, we had quite a few Bellevue boys in there, though. Yeah.

JM: Those people who took the night shift, well that's, however you think about it is, had the best shift because, sometimes why, they could sleep. You could catch 'em sleeping, see. [Laughs] But, other way you look at it, why, it was kinda rough because you had to stay awake and you had to make the rounds. It was some fellas that they thought, Well gee, this, this is pretty good. It's cooler in the winter, in the night, so they'd sleep. But some people got reputation of sleepin' all the time. But that was one of the things that happened down there in Pinedale.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AI: Then, what was the trip like over to Tule Lake? Was that in about July, or... now say the Fourth of July for example. Do you remember where you were on the Fourth of July? Was that Pinedale still?

JM: I think so. I think so. I think, my brother had a chance to leave, they had something going, I think contract labor. And it seemed like he left.

TI: Out of Pinedale?

JM: Pinedale, yeah, he was one of the first ones to leave Pinedale.

TH: You went too, didn't you?

JM: No, that was later.

TI: No, no, that was later.

TH: Oh, later.

AI: And so then, what was the trip like from there over to Tule Lake?

JM: I don't remember much about it. How did we get there? It was by train.

TI: I think we, yeah, I'm sure we went by train, but as I recall, after the first experience, of course, going up to Tule Lake was a much shorter trip, for one thing.

JM: Oh yeah.

TI: And then we were going to a more moderate climate. I mean, what we were more accustomed to.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

JM: Well, nights were cool up there, it was sometimes cold, at Tule Lake. (...) I had never stayed there very long, but that was more of a climate that we could stand up there. And, seemed like things were little bit more organized too, up there. But there were so many people there, there was people from all over the West Coast. California, Hood River, and up around the Northwest there's, all stuck together there.

AI: Well, now, that must have been quite a change for you fellows, because Bellevue was such a small town, and even Seattle wasn't that big. And here you've got, wasn't Tule Lake somewhere over ten thousand people, something like that?

TI: Yes. Well one thing, the Bellevue community, and I believe Hood River also, they sort of divided it into two groups. I know we lived in the section called the Alaska area, which was on the one side of the fire break, and the rest of the camp was on the other, other end. And then half of the Bellevue people were on the opposite end pretty much. And Hood River was basically divided in the same manner, and I often wonder what reason there was not to keep the one community intact, rather than splitting it more or less in half. Maybe it was to disperse and get them separated for some reason.

JM: I don't think that that was the least of their worries(...). Wherever they said to go, you go. And we, we were up with the Hood River group. And then the people from down on Auburn were down there where Toshi was, I think, huh?

TI: Which block were you in? You were in the 70s? In Tule?

JM: ...69, or something. It was, it was right adjacent to Hood River people.

TI: Yeah, we had Hood River people also. Hood River, Tacoma...

JM: Hood River was 70s, so we were...

TI: We were in 59.

JM: Yeah. But Bellevue people were down there, too. But of course, there were lot of other people that we didn't know that were in there, and I didn't know where they were from. But I don't think that they put the families or the communities together, they just put 'em wherever they felt they needed to put 'em, I guess.

TI: Well, I know one thing, the buildings and structures were built more on a permanent basis than Pinedale was.

JM: But even then they were big long barracks-style buildings, divided into rooms. The long ones had maybe four apartments in, and the smaller ones had maybe two, and depend, they put the ones with big families in the... but the rooms weren't separated. The only way that they were separated is by, you have do it yourself. String a wire and a sheet across the walls, so that you can have a little privacy within the family.

TI: But even they, between the units all they had was those plasterboard. And I think, and up on top it wasn't finished, it was just flat across, I mean it was open where it started, where the pitched roof started why, it was wide open.

JM: Oh, you could hear everything.

TI: There was no privacy.

JM: Yeah.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, now you mentioned self-governance in Pinedale. What kind of governance was there over in Tule Lake?

JM: Well there was a kind of a self-government more, I guess, but then it was, the head people were WRA people. War Reloca --

TI: Individual blocks had their block managers and, so it was administered within the block by the man that was head of the block, block manager.

AI: How did that person get chosen, the block manager?

TI: Well, I don't really know but, didn't they have a price struc-, I mean, a wage structure of $12, $16, and $19? Per month?

JM: Yeah.

TI: The laborers got twelve bucks a month, and then the semi-professionals were sixteen, and then nineteen were the professionals.

JM: The, like doctors, dentists, and the people who are really, really well-educated, you know, got the higher... but, they had a camp farm, and the guys that volunteer to go to work on the farm, why, they got on a truck and went out to the farm. And they were paid the minimum wage.

TI: Oh, were they? Oh, I didn't know that.

TH: Minimum wage was eight dollars, was it?

JM: Well not... this isn't minimum wage, it was about fifteen, ten dollars a month, or something like that.

TI: Was it even as much as that much? I didn't think that.

TH: Oh, it was by the month...

JM: Yeah, month.

TH: Eight dollars a month?

JM: Yeah, something like that.

TH: Geez, that's hard.

JM: Yeah, ridiculous.

TI: But they got to go outside the camp, though. Every day.

JM: Yeah, they loaded 'em in trucks and went out to, went out to the farm and I don't really know -- I was out there one time, but I don't really know exactly where that farm was. It was probably five, ten miles out of camp.

TI: Did they send the guards out, with the people out on the farm?

JM: I think they were out, yeah. They were probably around there.

TH: Eight, twelve, and sixteen dollars, three?

TI: I think there were three.

TH: Yeah.

JM: Three categories.

TI: What was it? Eight, twelve, and sixteen?

TH: Yeah. Eight, twelve, and sixteen.

AI: And what kind of jobs did you end up doing, while you were in camp? Inside Tule.

JM: Well you didn't have to work if you didn't want to.

TI: No. Yeah, that's right. I, however, worked on a construction crew, picking up lumber and things like that. But the lumber is kind of a interesting story, too. I mean, everybody is scrounging around for a scrap of scrap lumber to make homemade furniture, so that was quite a prized item. When this construction crew away, you'd run up, run into some loose lumber, and you could take it home and try to make something with it.

JM: Yeah, well after a while why, people used to do things like that and then, I think it's within the camp, that area there was Indian country years ago. And they used to go around picking up arrowheads and all kinds of Indian artifacts, and then they'd go out and get sagebrush. And they would make beautiful things out of sagebrush, canes, furniture and everything. They'd take all that dead bark off and polish it up, and they really made some pretty stuff.

AI: Well, it's interesting for me, that thinking about this time of camp where, so many of you're farming families, you'd been used to working all day, every day. And then suddenly put into this situation where you don't have to have a job, and you don't have your farming life anymore, I was wondering what kind of effect this had on your parents, on your families, what such a big change was like?

JM: Well, I guess my mother, she's worried about all the kids. 'Course my brother, he was older but, my sister, she got polio when she was young so she was retarded, so she was worried about her, and then my other two brothers, they were pretty young yet then. Well, they were young, but they were getting bored. And so my, my younger brother, older of the two youngest, he went out from Pinedale and went to Utah. And that's what, when we went later on, though. But from Tule Lake is where the contract labor went out en masse.

AI: Right.

JM: Yeah. Went out to different areas, Idaho, Montana, Utah. To mainly to top beets, I think.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Now, excuse me, but had you, did you get married by this time, or when, when was it that you and, were you married before camp? Or during?

TI: Yeah, Tok married in 19-, 1941.

TH: Right.

TI: Just before we went to camp.

TH: Yeah. 1941. Yeah.

AI: So, so you were, but you were still with your family or, when you went to camp then, you had just been married. So, did you have your own room, just you and your wife, or were you still with your sisters and mother?

TH: Well, let's see. We were just the opposite direction from you, we were in Block 56, so they called us, what they call, "Alaska." I don't know why. Actually, I think we were on the south end, and they were on the north end. These people on the north end, but they called us "Alaska." Well, I guess that's, that might have been some of Mas Inatsu's doings. He, he could really keep things humming. But, and get in a little trouble, too.

TI: Tok, did you live in a separate unit from the rest of your family? You and Sumi lived together, and then your mother and your sisters in another unit, or how did that work out?

TH: No, let's see. No, we were together. My mother, and let's see, there's Mother, Kik...

TI: And Mits.

TH: And Mits, and Michi, that's four of us. And... see...

TI: Well that's five, with your mother.

TH: Yeah. Then, Kaz and her four kids, I don't know if they... that barrack must have had just a, it seemed like, yeah, there must have been a partition. Because they stayed in one part. Because, just as soon as the war started why, Tom was taken -- Tom Matsuoka was taken. So I think Kaz and the four kids stayed in half of that. Well anyway, it was, I think we were two separate families. At least, we didn't have to all stay in one. How was, was that the way it was with you?

TI: Yes, our family was all in one. Yes. Yeah, the four, well, the three... yeah, there was five of us, Sumi was married.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: So I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of the other activities that were going on in camp, and what you remember, or if you were involved in any of the sports, or other community activities.

TI: Well, they had a pretty well-organized sports program. Shortly after people got in there they had well, baseball for one thing -- they had about four different leagues. And I think the small Bellevue community had four teams at different skill levels, and other communities also had teams, and they, they had a regular league set up on baseball. And I don't know about the other sports, I think they had the sandlot basketball but, whether they had an organized league or not, I don't quite remember. 'Course, we didn't have a gym, so more than likely we didn't have a league. You know it was, like a pick-up game. And weekends, they used to have dances. They put all the tables, those tables with those benches, all along the side, they'd push 'em all to one side there, and then leave the middle open, and then they have a sock dance in the mess halls.

AI: What, somebody had brought records, or...

TI: Yeah, yes, I believe that's the way it was, that people brought records and they played music.

JM: I didn't get too much involved in it but, the mimeographed daily paper that they had out would show that there was a lot of activities going on. But I didn't stay there very long, so I didn't get involved in activities so much.

AI: Anything else that kinda sticks out in your mind about life at Tule Lake, anything that you just remember what comes back to you about living there?

JM: I remember when the people used to go out to the farms, why, they wouldn't work that hard, but I remember one fella brought back a big rattlesnake about six feet long, he was dragging it on the... I don't know how he got, killed it, but there's rattlesnakes, and scorpions, and you'd have to watch for the scorpions 'cause they would get into your shoes sometime or in your clothes. But I don't think there was that much in the camp, but out on the farms, there were all kinds of things.

TI: Well, I heard stories that at night, on the farm, you know that was located pretty close to that Klamath Falls bird refuge. And there's lotta geese and ducks there. At nighttime they'd take these jeeps, and with the headlights, they'd kinda blind the geese and run 'em down. And then they'd have a...

AI: Goose dinner?

TI: Goose dinner, yeah. And I'm sure that was true. I don't know how often it happened.

JM: Well, there were a lot of geese, that was a wildlife refuge, so there was thousands and thousands of geese come there in the swamp, lowlands, I guess.

TI: They'd come in to feed on the grain, and the farm produce, you know.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: What bothered you the most about being there, in Tule Lake?

TH: Well...

TI: Well, a lot of things.

TH: Yeah.

TI: Lot of things. For one thing, privacy. I mean, you didn't have your own bathroom, you didn't have your own kitchen, we all went to the mess hall. And then you have your laundry room, with your showers, and latrines and the -- things like that, where it was very inconvenient for one thing to have to go from your barrack to the centrally located laundry room, and then also to the mess hall. And, well, just the idea of being corralled in the camps with these full-mounted machine guns pointed inwards rather than outside to protect you. Well, it kind of tells you something about the situation, that they're prepared to maybe... a possible escape from camp by some of those people in there, rather than they protecting you from some other members of society on the outside. And that often bothered me.

TH: Yeah.

JM: Well, one thing, everybody's in the same boat so, we all felt the same way about the situation.

AI: And what was that?

JM: Well everybody felt the same way, but, and they were all, all together in one place, so you weren't picked out as one that, that you should go into camp. That way, why, it made it a little bit easier. But as a whole, it was not a good situation. People who are used to a more, a free life, even though it was kinda tight outside, discrimination and all that kind of stuff, why, it was worse in the camp... and so, you lost a lot of stuff that was, you took for granted. That was, it's pretty hard to get used to that, those kinds of things. But I think the Japanese are pretty resilient and so, they took it and stayed there, some of 'em stayed there 'til the end. But a lot of the younger folks became more restless, why, we all went out the first opportunity that afforded us.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

JM: The labor situation was getting kinda tight. You know, all the male people were in the service, and no one to take care of things that, well, the war effort. That was mostly done by 4-F, or women, or old people.

AI: So tell me about your experience, and how did you decide to go out, and what did you do?

JM: Well, at that time, it's like I said, they were hurting for labor and so, somebody had the bright idea of well, if we've gotta feed 'em why, let 'em work. So that was the mentality they had. Farmers on the outside got together and said, "Well, we could use those people." They contracted people out of the camps to go and work the stoop labor type of work, out on the farms. And so, lot of 'em took the opportunity to go out, get out and stretch their legs, stretch a little bit. And it was hard work.

AI: What was the first crew that you went out on?

JM: Well, we went out on a beet topping contract in Utah. So we got a few of the fellas together. Well, I being the oldest, we got six of the Bellevue people to go out together, which included Tosh Ito, and myself, and my brother Roy, that's three. And then there was three more Bellevue people, they all three of them deceased, but Tosh and I and my brother are the only one left of that crew. So we went out and topped beets for, during the season -- I think it was started at 'round about September, didn't it?

TI: I believe so.

AI: September '42? And where was that?

JM: This, we went to Utah, to a farmer by the name of -- he was a Mormon farmer -- by the name of Garner. And so we worked for him most of the time. But sometimes when there was a lull in between, why, somebody else would want us, so we'd go over to the other farm.

AI: What was the living condition like? What was the situation out there?

JM: You could tell us that, I think.

TI: That was a small, small cabin, actually, it was narrow, and not very long. And they had three-tiered bunk beds on either side with about a 2-foot walkway through the middle. And in the middle of the cabin they had a small stove and a kind of a makeshift kitchen sink, and that was it, no chairs or anything. I think we might have had a little table. Yeah. And the town was called Hooper. It was just maybe half an hour's drive outside of Ogden. Pretty close to Salt Lake City. And the other members of that group was Kenji Yoshino, Ted Matsushita, and Kay Yamaguchi.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: So what was the work? Could you describe for people who don't know, could you describe what that beet topping was all about?

TI: Well there was beet topping, and then tomato harvesting for, canning tomatoes was big in that area. And then they raised alfalfa, and they were really kind of backward in the way of farming methods. They had a team of horses and they had these windrows of these alfalfa that were cut. And then they were left to dry in these windrows, and before you can pick 'em up, why, you'd have to turn 'em over once or twice so that they'll dry off on both sides. And then they'll have these -- a thing called a slip. It's like a narrow, long sled with a chain running through the middle of it. And it's in there for purpose of... and the workers, the laborers, maybe there's one or two guys on either side of the slip, and the team of horses would be pulling the sled. And it was your job to fork that thing onto the slip as they went along the windrows, between the windrows. And they would take it back it to this barnyard where they got a stack, started to stack the hay.

Well, they got this, another horse on a tether, and a kind of a boom thing, and the horse would pull that boom -- oh, now I'm getting ahead of myself. But they would, you would take the slip off and hook this chain onto this boom, in a kind of a hoist system. And the horse would walk away from the stack, and then the slip or the sled would go up, up the stack, and then it'll flip it over onto the haystack. And that's the method that they used to build their stack up. Then of course the higher you go up, the more interesting it gets. The haystack... and you have to kind of layer that so it'll bind, so that if you're not going up straight... I mean, it'll kind of bind itself and keep its form and shape. So it won't, in the wintertime when the wind blows, and you have snowstorms, it won't slide off to one side.

JM: Well, they would, that arrangement they had would pick up a whole wagonload of hay at one time and dump it on the stack. They had a ingenious method, they call that the Mormon Pull, but I don't know --

TI: Oh, is that what they called it?

JM: That was the Mormon, they call that the Mormon Pull. Those beets, they were plowed out, after they were ready to harvest, they had a great big plow and it was plowed out, and the beets were laying on the ground. So, then the crew, like us, why, we'd have to go and pick the beet up with one hand and we had this big knife, which looked like a machete, that had a hook on the end of it. You stab the beet, pick it up, and then cut the tops off. Then you throw it in a windrow and we'd just do that all day long, bent over like that. It was backbreaking work, but...

TH: It was hard work.

TI: As I recall, there were only two farmers in Hooper that had trucks. The rest of 'em had horses and wagons. And the only modern part about that wagon I recall, is that they had rubber-tired wheels on the wagons, rather than the steel wheels that they used to, before they converted.

JM: Well this farmer, I think he had average-size beets, they were... and I understand that some places had great big beets, you could hardly pick 'em up. And that is how you can make money, because they paid us by the ton.

AI: So, a beet would be, like, bigger than a football?

JM: Well, they, some of 'em that big around, or just that long. I don't know where Tok was, (...) like one place we went, those things weren't much bigger than a carrot, see. And you can't make any money that way, because they paid you by the ton, so much a ton.

AI: And you're talking about the sugar beets.

JM: Sugar beets, yeah.

AI: They could get quite big, then.

TI: Yeah, well if it had the proper growing condition and good soil, it could get to be a pretty large root.

JM: Well, I understand in Idaho, somewheres in Idaho, they had great big beets, and they did all right. But, like I say, it's really hard work.

AI: So how long did you do this, this work crew? That was from the fall of '42, to --

JM: Well, I spent only one season there, but some people went out every season, which is at least two anyway.

TI: Our season there only lasted about 2 1/2, 3 months then. By the time the harvest was over I think maybe it was pretty close to November, or maybe it was into November when we went back to camp.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: So you went back to camp after the season.

TI: Yes. I went back to camp, but Joe stayed out in the Ogden area.

AI: And then what did you do? After that.

JM: I worked at a lot of little odd jobs, I, whatever I could get. I worked for a while at the sugar factory, after the sugar was processed, why, they made it into sugar. I worked in a warehouse, but this was night work. And we'd have to stack the sacks of sugar -- they're 100-pound sacks -- so they were about 30 feet square, I think. Sacks square, see. And so they came, come off of a endless belt. As they were, there was about six of us -- or, maybe, maybe five or six of us -- and we'd have to take the sacks of sugar and place it in these rows. And eventually the stacks'd get higher and higher. But, you're constantly walkin' back and forth to place the sacks of sugar, and if you've missed one, and it dropped on the stack, why, you'd have to pick it up. Here comes another one. Well, you're running all the time that way. And so, that was real hard work. A 100 pounds, I guess I, it wasn't much to pick up then. I got so that one -- we didn't get no breaks, you know. It was four hours during the night, and just for lunch break, we'd stop. But, you're on the verge of passing out, because it was hard work. The first couple of days you just ache all over.

Then I worked a little bit in the seed warehouse; that lasted, oh, a couple of months. Then I got a job in the town there at the brickyard. And all I was doing is takin' the bricks off of one pallet and puttin' it over on another pile. [Laughs] All day long, I bought a brand new pair of leather gloves, I wore it out in half a day. And I left, I went back to the hotel, and I never come back. Didn't even go back for my money. And that was really a, I don't know what you'd call it, it wasn't really hard, but you're getting nowheres. So then I got a job in the, with the American Can Company. And I was stacking empty cans for these canneries. But that one was another of those jobs where it's repetitious. So you have these fork, it looks like a rake with the tines sticking straight out, and all you do is, as the cans came down the conveyor, why, you'd stick these prongs in there and stack 'em wherever you wanted to. And that was all night long, noisy. Well, I toughed it out until, until my orders came through, my draft number came up.

AI: Was that 1943, sometime? When you're...

JM: That was... yeah, I think it was in '43.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Now, in the meantime, you had gone back to Tule Lake. Did you stay there very long, or did you go out again to --

TI: That was fall of 1942. I came back with the other four guys, and we all came back Tule Lake. And I stayed in camp until the spring of '43. My brother went out to Montana to look over conditions out there, thinking maybe the family could go out there and locate someplace, on a farm. So he reported back that he found a place so, told us to come on up. So, 'bout a month later, the rest of us went up to Montana. Place called Chinook, near Havre, very close to the Canadian border, within twenty miles, I would guess. And found a farm near the town of Chinook. Chinook had the only sugar beet factory in the area, so there were quite a few sugar beet farmers around there. Well, we located in one of the farms, but this farmer was not a farmer in the sense that he farmed the land. His father-in-law was a big time sheep rancher, and they were just raising the beets and things as a kind of a sideline thing. He didn't know a lot about farming so -- the weather conditions were not favorable either -- so, we had to suffer along with this guy trying to raise sugar beets and a few other things that he didn't know much about.

But when our contract expired in six months, I think it was close to November, or earlier, no I believe it was earlier. I think it started snowing that year around September, as I recall. Well, we really decided that, this is not for us, we want to get back and try something else. Well, by that time, my brother and I decided that we needed some kind of transportation. We had to go into town to buy groceries and do a few odds and ends, besides sit there on the farm and work. So we scraped up some money and bought an old '37 Chev coupe with a little makeshift box on the back, with the trunk lid off. So that, well, we're a family of five so, it really didn't make sense to buy a coupe like that. [Laughs] But that was the only thing around, and available, and the price was within our reach, so we decided to go ahead and buy it anyway. Well, we used that for transportation. And when it was time, when it came time to leave, why, my brother asked me, he says, "Well, you want to drive the car down, or you want to go by train?" And I said, "Well no, I don't want to drive." And so, he and my father drove down on this '37 Chevy, and the rest of the family and I came down by train, down through Butte, and down to... well, by that time, instead of going to Tule Lake, our family had moved up to Minidoka. So that's, no, no, I take it back. No, we went the way back to Tule, but then after that we came up to Minidoka. So, when we came back down, we moved over to Minidoka. And, while I was there, well, I got my draft notice from my local draft board. So, I was drafted out of camp. So I went from one camp to another, so to speak.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: Well, and now what happened to you? Because you were, now in the fall of '42, you were in Tule Lake also. And --

TH: '42?

AI: Right. And then did you go out on, you went out on a work labor crew also.

TH: '42. I know I went out with a group of, let's see, there was three brothers. Guy, John, and James Matsuoka. Then my relatives, and let's see, Choppy Yasui, she was our cook, and oh, Mizo. And, well, I think there was a, seems like there was seven of us. But, we lost money. We didn't make money, because the workers aren't, weren't the best in the world. And then, we had the best things to eat, so we ate, what we made on the beets, we spent it on food. I, anyway, I don't think I came back with a... and then it's poker every night. So -- [laughs] -- it was quite a, quite a deal. But we survived and that was, that was about...

AI: So, it sounds like you had a, you went out on the work crew, it was a way to get out of camp.

TH: Yes. That's, that's, yeah.

AI: Then you went --

TH: We had a good time.

AI: And then you went back to Tule Lake, and then in 1943 did you go out again?

TH: Yes. We came back and then Gary, our older son, was born on December 4th.

AI: In Tule Lake?

TH: So... and then Tom, they used Tom Matsuoka as a recruiter, they didn't keep him in detention camp in North Dakota. They shipped him back into camp, and then that's why we ended up, he says, "There's a spot in Chinook, Montana," which is one of the coldest spots in the United States. It's a... we were out there, well, I guess we, we... well, that's where we eventually ended up, anyway. Out in Chinook.

AI: So you went out on a work crew, and then you decided to stay out there?

TH: Yeah. And we stayed until we made enough money so that we could come back, see. The evacuation wiped us out. We had to, so we worked for... pretty hard up. We got to, one farmer wasn't too good but the other farmer was... gave us a sharecrop deal. And, so that's how we... yeah.

AI: So that's how you were able to...

TH: Made enough money so that... but we had to stay out there until November of '46. I think. And then, the place where we, the 5 acres that we had, there was a party in there and they didn't, it seemed like they didn't want to get out. So, then when we had the, we were taking care of another place, and she didn't come back to it so, she says, "You can take over the greenhouse." That's how we ended up in a greenhouse property.

AI: So when you first came back to Bellevue in '46, you went to the greenhouse property.

TH: Yeah, yes. Then I tried that for awhile, but it didn't work out so then Tom Matsuoka didn't want to come back to his place so that's how we took over his place.

AI: He stayed out in Montana, you took over his farm.

TH: Yeah. He decided to stay in Montana, and we took over his place. And then, then from there, the next place was [Inaudible], another home on Bellevue-Redmond road. And then, then we moved again to, we stayed eighteen years in that place, and then we moved up to Lake Hills. And we stayed there eighteen years, another eighteen.

AI: So ever since you moved back, you've stayed here on the Eastside.

TH: Yeah. And then, we ended up where we are now... and we're, as you know, we're in a condo and we've been there, I believe, I think it was seven years? Yeah. I think we, that's about the -- and, do you know, want to know what the rest of the family are, well?

AI: Well before we go onto that, we don't we go up and pick up where we left off with Mr. Matsuzawa.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: Because we left you in 1943, and you were just entering the service.

JM: Oh.

AI: So maybe we'll kinda, 'cause what we did was we kinda went through a little bit about where everybody was in the '40s, and then what happened after the war, you came back and stayed here. Now for you, maybe you could say a little bit about your service, and then how you ended up coming back?

JM: When Mr. Matsuoka was recruiting, why, he also recruited my family. And they also ended up in Chinook, Montana. And they stayed there for, I imagine a couple of years, because they were back in this area by '46. But...

AI: But you were still in the service?

JM: Yeah, I was, gotten in the service, and I went to Europe, all that. But Tok was tellin' about his family in Montana. He's kinda modest but, Mr. Matsuoka, at one time he ended up being the Montana State Farmer of the Month. That was a real credit to Tom and his, Mrs. Matsuoka. But it went from nothing to something like that, is real commendable. But, my family came back in I think in '46, and they went to a place in Woodinville. They stayed there for a while. But in the meantime, why, I'd come back from Europe. Well, when I got in the service, I took basic and, you know, training.

AI: Where was that, where was your training?

JM: This was in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. That was another place I... it's about like Pinedale only it's worse, because all the training we did was in the muggy, humid swamps. And there were chiggers there, and mosquito, and copperhead snakes, and we'd have to crawl around there. But I think physically it was tougher than combat. But anyway we, I was in Company E that time, and incidentally, that's same company as Daniel Inouye. I met him when, well, he was a young, young boy then, he was. The last time that he was here, 'bout two months ago -- Company E got together, and he came, and I got to talking to him and I asked him how old he was, when he was there. And he says, "Oh, I was about nineteen years old." 'Cause he hadn't hardly shaved yet, then. Well, we talked to him just like any other pal, fellow. But, we went overseas together, and... well, I managed to survive, seen some pretty rough moments, but I managed to survive, and we came back, I came back in '46, 1946.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

JM: And then, after I came back, I came right back to family but, things were still kind of, not really settled yet, you know. And I had to look for a job and all that sort of thing, so I said, "Well I'll try another hitch." So I went down to Fort Lewis and joined up, and I volunteered to go to Japan. Mainly because I was kinda curious to, as to see where my roots were. And of course I thought I spoke Japanese. Well, I just spoke enough to get along with my folks. My mother, she spoke English, my dad, well, he wasn't with us long but he was, spoke English, and wrote English, stuff like that. So, I had not much use, to use Japanese. But I know what it sounded like, and I just knew enough to talk to my parents. So (...), I went over there, and I thought I could get along, but I was wrong.

At that time, lot of the information was classified so (...), the army couldn't use a Japanese national for a lot of things. At that time I happened to get in a radar outfit. They were setting up radar stations along the, it would be the, see, west coast of Japan on the China Sea side. So what did they do, they took me and one officer, and one civilian technician, he was an electronics type. And I was supposed to be liaison, and go to all these different areas. And the areas that they want to set the radar up was real isolated. And consequently, why, these places where people, they'd never seen a American uniform or, they didn't know, don't know anything. And I'm supposed to converse with these people to try to get property to set the radar up.

AI: That must have been very difficult.

JM: Oh, it was tough. But, they, I went, oh, I went by jeep, boat, airplane and railroad, and everything else, to these different areas, mostly out in the country. One was down south, well, it was near, it was opposite side of Osaka, around the Japan Sea side. Another place was at Niigata. Well, now Niigata, that's where my folks came from. So I asked this officer, I says, my -- I just happened to remember the town that they came from, see. This town is located on the train route to where we were going, which was going to Niigata city, it's farther north. So I asked him if, if he'd stop the train and let me off. And stop there so I can see if I can look up my roots. So I, so they decided to, they could, they would do that. So I stopped at this town, this Itoigawa, that's, that was the town that they were from. So I got off the train, I went down to some police station. I asked 'em if they knew a person by my name. Yeah, they said they knew him, because well, that's a, it's not a big city but it's not a small city, either. (...) But he ended up being a schoolteacher. (...) So I went downtown a little bit, trying to look for him, and I don't know how word got around, but he heard about it. And so, my brother got an interpreter, and a newspaper guy, and I guess he took him up to the station. And when I came back to the station, they were there.

AI: Your brother.

JM: My brother. And, I knew what he looked like, I think. But he knew what I looked like, because I had a uniform on, see. And, he brought an interpreter along because he thought, well, I couldn't speak. Well, I could speak enough to greet him and, you know, simple, real simple things. That I would say to my father or mother, see. [Laughs] But anyway, we got along. At that time, why, he knew that he had folks. Because he was left there when he was a little baby, see. And they never did come to the States. So, and then one thing after another, my dad got sick, like I said earlier. And so he couldn't go back there and call him back. And then the Depression came along. Well, he was getting older. And then the war came along. And there was not very much contact at all, and he started thinking, well, maybe he, he was abandoned. So, anyway, after I got to that station, why, he saw me. And he knew right away that he was, I was one of the family. And since then, why, we've been corresponding. And then after I was in Japan there, I think, well, this was the second trip, I guess. This was later.

But that first trip to Japan, I went to these different radar sites, and we set 'em up. One was down south, that's a place called Wajima. That's on the peninsula. And then went up north and went to Niigata city, it's a big city. Then off of Niigata city, there's an island called Sado. Sado Island? That's where these drummers come from, the original drummers? Then I went north, going towards Hokkaido. There's another little peninsula there that we picked out to set up a radar site. And so, we got 'em all, well, we just located 'em, we didn't set 'em up then. So, every now and then we used to make trips going up to just check on 'em. And I got stationed up there, where that northern part was, the northern radar site was. And so I was up there, oh, quite some time, and that's... then I met this gal in the country, she's a fisherman's daughter. [Laughs] Well, one thing after another, we got married. That's why, that's where she's from.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: And then how did you, when was it that you ended up coming back to the States?

JM: That was '46. I went over there, and I came back in '51. We were married then. We came back in '51, back to the States. I got stationed over in, well, they asked me if I wanted to go a certain place, I told 'em Washington, yes. I don't know why, but I think they figured that I meant Washington D.C., so what did they do, they shipped me to Virginia. Langley Field, Virginia. So, that was no good, so I finagled a deal where I could get transferred, and they transferred me back to McCord. And so, I stayed there for a while. In the meantime, my wife was with my folks in Bellevue, 'cause she didn't want to go to Virginia at the time. So I got a transfer and, so I used to commute between Bellevue and McCord for, oh, five months or more. And then that unit moved to Moses Lake, so I had to go with them. So she went with me to Moses Lake, I lived there for a while. Four years I guess, as a matter of fact. And then, well, I thought it'd be a good idea now, the three kids were born in the meantime. And so I thought it'd be a good idea if I requested another transfer back to Japan. So I got it, and so my whole family went to Japan again. Then she would be close to her family, and get to see everyone. So we stayed there four years. Then we came back and, and then they stationed me over at Paine Field, near Everett.

So I stayed there a couple of years but I, at that time I had eighteen years in, you know. And they had a deal where, if you didn't go overseas when the orders came out, why, you had to get out. Well, I didn't want to lose eighteen years, because I only had two years more to go to retire from the service, and get my benefits. So okay, I says, "I'll go overseas." And so what'd they do, they sent me to Okinawa. I went first, and then my wife and the kids went later on. We had a lot of help from other people. So they flew in from, to Okinawa. And I stayed there four years. Yeah, four years. I don't know, for some reason, just luck would have it, I didn't have to go to Vietnam, I was scheduled to go to Vietnam. But anyway, I requested retirement. So I retired 1966. And while I was at Paine Field, why, I bought a house, because I wanted to be near the base, in case of alerts and things like that. Anyway, I had this house, and I had, then I figured well, I'd have something to come back to when I came back. So I lived there for, oh, I don't know how many years, five, six, seven years. Then we, the present place, I live still close by, just another place. But that's how I ended up in my service.

AI: So you had a long service career and then, came back and ended up here in Puget Sound, after all that.

JM: Yeah.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, and now what about you, we left you at the same place and, when you had just received your draft orders.

TI: Yes, well, I got my orders to report to Fort Douglas, Utah, and that was dead of winter, right after January. They went through the process of getting inducted, then they sent me down to Fort Blanding, in Florida, for basic training. And the war was still going on -- this is 1945, by the way -- and the war was still going on. I took the basic training there, while the, I was still in basic training, the war in Europe ended. So, they kept us there in Florida for a while after our basic was completed, but... deciding what to do with the troops -- and by the way, these were all Japanese recruits, it was not a mixed group, we were, we were being groomed to be replacements for the 442nd -- but since the war ended, they didn't really have a plan for us.

But eventually, they decided to send us over to Europe as monitor police, to police the railroad cars that were shipping cargo in Europe. American supplies, that is. At the time, there was a lot of looting going on, on the railroads, especially for tobacco and things of... American-made goods. There were hot, black market items. And our jobs were to ride these trains, trooper train, supposedly to guard the cargo. And that's what we did, we were going from city to city, country to country, the small countries, Belgium, Netherlands -- well, not so small, Germany and France, and all the surrounding countries, and so we traveled extensively. We, I did that until 1946, and then the war effort being, winding down in Europe, they decided to send us back to the States. And, they were starting to let people return to their civilian life.

So I was discharged in, I think mid-summer of 1946. By that time, my family -- my brother, parents, and younger sister -- they were back in Bellevue again, and they had already started farming at the old family place. So, I was kinda loose, didn't really have any plans, so I just decided to join my brother, and we started farming. We bought additional property right above Midlakes, there. So we had our home place plus, plus the place where we bought, and we farmed together until 1953. And as was mentioned earlier, Safeway wanted to buy that area for their distribution center. So, I think negotiations went on almost all of 1953 but by late '53, almost everyone had sold out to Safeway and so, we decided to go along and sell also.

Well, at that time, I was still single, I decided to go to work for the post office because Kiyo Yabuki was already at the post office, and I believe he started maybe two years before. And there's a story behind that situation also, I'll just go into it briefly. There was no Japanese or other minority person working for the Bellevue post office. And keep in mind, Bellevue, it was still just a pretty small town, but it was starting to grow. Mr. Nixon was the postmaster in Bellevue, and Mrs. Belote was the assistant postmaster. And, well, I went to school with the Belote kids, they were twins, they were one year ahead of (me). But, Mr. Nixon didn't know what to do about the, Kiyo's application, he, Kiyo was a wounded World War II 442nd veteran, and so he had his veteran's ten point preference to get a civil service job. And so, from what I understand, Mr. Nixon polled some of the community leaders of Bellevue at that time, and asked them their opinion about hiring Kiyo. Well, evidently the response was favorable and Kiyo got the job.

And then, couple years down the road, when, as Bellevue was growing why, the post office was also expanding. So he came to me while I was kind of looking around, wondering what to do. And he says, "Hey, there's a opening at the Bellevue Post Office, why don't you put in an application, and see if you can get in?" So I put my application in, and then they, after a short period of time, they said, "Yeah, come to work." In those days, you didn't have to take the civil service test prior to getting the job. You could get the job, and then qualify for the job after you got the job on a temporary basis. And I'm sure that's how Kiyo got in, too. And, that's how I started, so eventually, well, I started as a sub, clerking, and then, eventually became a permanent employee there, and I wound up there, staying oh, thirty-some odd years, maybe thirty-five or thirty-six counting the camp time, which they allowed us to do later on. So I retired out of there, in 1984. So, I've been in and around Bellevue all my life, except for those two camp and military time.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: You know, I wanted to ask you, that was such an interesting story about Mr. Yabuki and yourself being really the first racial minority people employed at the Bellevue post office. I was wondering about the late '40s, it sounds like around '45, '46, all your families -- now, you weren't here really, because you were in the service, but all your family came back to the Puget Sound area, here to the Eastside area. I was wondering what kind of reaction they got, coming back as Japanese Americans, after camp.

TI: I wasn't here right at the beginning of the year that they allowed people to start coming back, but as I recall, I believe it was the first of 1945 that they were opening up. But there was a lot of anti-Japanese feelings still, in the Bellevue area, and I have heard that some people, Japanese people that is, made some quiet inquiries about the situation in Bellevue, and whether they should come back or not. And some of the advice that they got was, don't come back right now, it's not ready, ready to have people start coming back. But there were some businesses in downtown Bellevue, which was just a one-street town at the time, they had signs, "No Japs Allowed." So, there were mixed feelings, in and around that time.

JM: Well I, yeah. I think some of 'em had signs up there but, I think if you confronted 'em later on, they might have felt a little embarrassed. Because a lot of the Japanese did business down there, you know, they depended on for all kinds of things, even though minor, why, they depended on their business. So I think gradually, they integrated quite smoothly. But, some of 'em, I think we found out that who our real friends are. Because, before the war we used to get along real good with the businesspeople, and neighbors, and things like that. But after you come back, why, you hear horror stories, about certain people, certain factions that, what, let their feelings be known about the Japanese. But I think as a whole though, they accepted the Japanese when they came back. I wasn't here, but this is the general feeling that I got from people that came back. And there were some friends that really were ostracized for siding, or helping the Japanese out when they came back. Even during the war and before, they were more isolated from the general public because of their feeling towards Japanese.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

AI: What condition did you find your homes and your property? If you could tell me a little bit about that.

TI: When I came back, it was later than when the first few families started coming back, because I was still in the military and that was 1946, summer of '46 when I got back.

AI: But had you heard from your brother?

TI: Yeah, I used to write letters to him, back and forth. Things were not exactly the way they left it, of course, but evidently things were not so bad that he couldn't get the place back in shape and start farming again shortly after they got back. Because they had, unless they got things going why, they wouldn't have any sources of income. And as it was, he probably had to go down to the bank in Kirkland, Shinstrom's, where we used to bank prior to the war, and get a loan to get the money to buy fertilizer and seeds, and keep him going until crop time. And that's how it usually used to work, lot of the farmers used to go year to year, or crop time to crop time, to borrow the money in the fall and then go until crop time, and then pay 'em back, and then continue the cycle. And it was just getting to the point where lot of the farmers were starting to not have to do that, they would have some money in reserve, where they wouldn't have to go borrow money every winter. So I don't, but I don't really know how the others fared, as far as how the...

AI: And your family home?

TI: The home --

AI: Was that when it was rented out?

TI: Yes, the Clark Jenkins family, Mr. Jenkins was a plumber, and he had volunteered to look after the house, and he said that he was able to find a renter. Well, he said, that if he could get permission to put in a bathtub, and a bathroom, then, he said, he was sure that he could rent the house out. So we told him, yeah, certainly, we were happy. We said, "Go ahead and do whatever you have to do." And so he rented it out to some people. And at that time, evidently housing was pretty tight because, you know, our house was not much more than a shack. I mean, it had a pretty good size to it, but then it was one of those homes that were put up by families of Japanese, gathering and having a roof raising, or house raising, or something. I mean, instead of building a barn, they were building a house. [Laughs] That's about the way when I, and like I say, when I came back, things were pretty much back, crops were in and it was harvest time, so I just pitched in, and started in where we left off. And as far as the sentiment around the neighborhood, and the town of Bellevue, I couldn't really judge it. I kinda think that we were accepted fairly decently, by most of the townspeople. With of course the few handful of people that are, and were, against the Japanese evidently all along. Only they didn't surface until we were gone, or else, they got caught up in the hysteria of the war, stories, horror stories that were prevalent in those days, prior to and during the war.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

JM: We were leasing a property, so, (...) when I left, when the war started, I was, like I said, I was just in the in-between going to Redmond, where my folks, my mother and brothers, took over this property. The Bellevue property we just let go, there was nothing left there but the house, and it was rundown, and I don't think that that place was improved for quite a while. I think later, I drove by it I think, probably around about 1950-something, and the house was there, it's kinda tumbled down, and there was nothing done to the property. But I think all that other businesses came in after the highway came in, 405. And then, of course, my folks in Redmond, they were renting this property from the owner. Of course, they didn't go back, they just came back to another place near Woodinville. It was, let's see, it's between Redmond and Woodinville. They stayed there for, oh, I think three or four years and then they moved to, back to Bellevue where the Overlake Hospital is right now, or just north of it. And, at that time, it was King County. But, the City annexed the property, that area there, and they virtually got taxed out of it, because taxes were so high. They were doing a little gardening and farming, and Roy, my youngest brother, was drafted, he had to leave. So my older brother, he kinda took care of it, but he was not as, well, very aggressive type, you know. So they struggled along until Roy got back, and then he worked a while for -- that is, my older brother -- he worked for Bellevue Nursery, which is owned by Mizokawa. He did some other odd jobs, I think. I think he went out with Tok Hirotaka, I think it was, went to a mink farm and worked there for a while.

And finally, when the taxes became unbearable why, they had to find a place to go, so they moved to Bothell, that's near Canyon Park. And that's where they, well, the family settled there, Roy is still there -- my youngest brother. And my mother, and other family members have passed away, so he's there by himself. But my dad was, when he passed away he was buried in a little cemetery plot almost adjacent to where that Overlake Hospital is now. And I think a lot of the Japanese were buried there. And some outfit came and bought the property, and there was some big to-do about them taking over a cemetery. This cemetery was, it was a Bellevue cemetery. A lot of pioneers were buried there, too. And I think they made some kind of arrangement where the cemetery could be dug up and moved to the Sunset Hills cemetery. And there's a little plot there in memory of the unknown graves that, I think, that were there. They didn't know, when they removed the graves from the other plot, the old plot, they didn't know who some of the people were. But, they got a little plot now down in Sunset Hills dedicated to the old pioneers, Japanese pioneers in Bellevue.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

AI: Well, now, bringing things up a little bit more to the present, I wanted to ask you, you all had mentioned that you all got married, and all had children, and I believe you all have grandchildren, too. So, I'm going to ask you each about how many children you have, and grandchildren?

JM: Myself, I had four children, three boys and a girl. And ten grandchildren, I just recently had one, a grandchild, about five days ago, I guess. So that makes ten of 'em. And within the ten grandkids I have a set of triplets, which added to the total, grand total. They are all living within this area, the farthest away is Federal Way. But, they're all, and when we get together at our house, why, it's really a madhouse with all the kids, because they're not that old, the oldest one's only fourteen, and the youngest, of course, is that baby. But, the youngest, next to youngest, she's four years old, so she will be four next month. It's quite a houseful when they come over.

AI: Congratulations on the new arrival. And, Mr. Hirotaka, what about your children and grandchildren?

TH: Oh. Let's see. Let's see, my, there's, among my sisters, there's only one living, so that's Tom Shigio's wife, in Sumner. And then, myself, of course, I'm married to Sumi Ito. And then, Gary, well, my older son is Gary, and he works for the Overlake Christian Church. And, Robert is staying at home, and taking care of the two kids and he oversees his father-in-law. That's Mr. Jacobson. And then, he also has to take care of a lot of our duties, because I can't do it, so, I don't know. And then, that's, and then, Gary's son is, one is in Olympia with the police department, and the other, Curtis, is waiting for his call into the police department. And that should wind up. Do you -- is that enough, or do I have to go into --

AI: Oh, that's fine. Thank you.

TH: Yeah, okay.

TI: I married Akiko Suzuki, in 1954. We have three children -- Alice, the eldest, and Jan, the middle daughter, and Elaine, the youngest. Alice and Elaine -- I mean, Alice and Jan live in Seattle, and Elaine is in Oakland. And, we have one grandson, Zenwa, and he's now three and a half years old. And he's one of the joys of our life, at the present time. We are now living -- still in Bellevue -- just north of 520, in the Northup area, and we have been here since 1976. Prior to that we lived on the farm, the old homestead farm between Northeast Eighth and Northeast Tenth Place, right off of 124th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

AI: Well, you all have younger generations coming up. And with that in mind, I wanted to ask you all to think back on the war years. And if you could think about, and tell about what you think were some of the worst of the long-term effects of the war years. And also to think about, was there anything positive that came out of those years.

TI: I, for myself, speaking for myself, I think one of the big setbacks in my life was the financial loss that we incurred during evacuation, and the time lost during that period where we could not carry on our normal, daily things that we were doing at that time. Well, of course, there's always this anger, and sorrow that the government did this to citizens of the United States. You understand that we were not aliens like our parents. We were American citizens. I was happy, though, in one respect, in one respect, and that was that the evacuation forced (some of) the Japanese populations in the three states of Washington, Oregon and California, (to seek) an opportunity to go elsewhere after they (were released) from camp. For those people that wanted to go elsewhere, or for those that didn't want to come back for various personal reasons. And it gave the people of the United States, other citizens, a chance to find out some part about what happened, and gave us opportunities to explore other fields of work besides farming and the fruit stands, and gardening. So, in that respect I think it was a great opportunity to explore bigger and better horizons.

JM: My thoughts are just about the same as Tosh's. We weren't afforded the opportunity to get a higher education, one, because of financial, and another is because after we graduated from high school they were only allowing certain amount of minorities to enter the University of Washington. I, at one time while I was still pretty sharp, my mind was pretty sharp, I, I thought maybe I could go. But, during the Depression it was out of the question. And then, of course, if you're not up to a lot of things, why, then you lose the capacity to learn and retain. That sounds like kind of an excuse, but that is one of the things that happened. A lot of the people, the Japanese students in high schools, they were really intellectual, they were smart. Like Tok, he was in the Honor Society, Mrs. Matsuoka, she was also. And just about all the Japanese, they ended up with real high grades. Mrs. Kawaguchi, Mitsie Shiraishi, she was (salutatorian) of graduating class of 1930, and I think Tok's sister was, too. So, in the later years, why, I'm sure that there were lot of kids that were real smart and that got good grades, and so that was one of the, I think, the negatives of this generation of ours.

The younger ones, as they, the younger ones got out of school, and started to go to business, why, and higher education, they were quite successful, they had good jobs. Like for instance, there were a farm family of, Takanos. They were in Bellevue, just ordinary farmer, the kids went to school, but they all became real successful, too. Two of 'em are dentists, I think, and one of 'em was a engineer, and the oldest one, George, was a biochemist. So they were all really well-educated and real smart. Of course, I think you have to be pretty smart and pretty articulate to be able to do that. So, that's, I think, one of the negatives.

But at the same time, when the Japanese were evacuated and they all started to go out to different parts of the country, and the generation that went out were more or less, carried the same ideas as the Issei parents. And, they got to know the mainstream of American society, and most of them did very well. They got to know the Japanese, they didn't think they were what they were depicted in the newspapers and the cartoons and things like that. But, most of what Tosh said, I can go along with. And, oh, I imagine there's a lot of positives, too, but I just can't recall them right now, at the present.

AI: Is there anything that you'd like to say about the negatives or the positives?

TH: Not...

AI: About the effects of the war years? Anything that sticks in your mind, especially negative, or anything positive that came out of it?

TH: No. I don't think I could, well, is it, I... is it about the family, then? Or...

AI: Well, if nothing comes to mind right now, that's fine.

TH: No, I think I'd better... yeah.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

AI: Well, I do have another question, and that is about redress. Because, I know again, thinking you all have children, and you all have grandchildren, grandchildren growing up now, I'm sure you all have some concerns about what kind of life they can have, the opportunities they have. And one thing that happened quite a bit after the war, but that might have an effect for them and for you is the redress. And I was just wondering what kind of reaction you had when you got your redress, what you thought about, what went through your mind.

JM: Well, money's good, all right, but I don't think money is everything. I think that apology, I think means a lot, too, but I think it should be more than that, just money and an apology on a form, piece of paper. But, at same time, I (...) have no bitterness. I know it's bad and all that, I often think to myself, "This thing is just a bad dream." What I had to go through. And I think about the times that I grew up, went to school, and had to go in the service, and the times I was in combat, and seeing all kinds of trauma and fear, and all the emotions that a guy could have. My buddy next to me was digging a foxhole, he got cut in two with a machine gun, and the same burst almost got me. I got hit, but I was too scared to jump out of the hole, and by that time, the scars had healed and no blood was coming, so I just left it go at that. Now, I guess I could have gone to the medics and got a Purple Heart or something, but I was too scared. [Laughs] And if anyone says they're not scared, why, that might not be the truth. Because those days were real traumatic. To see your friends and the people you trained with, you know, or you come off the line and they're laying there, bloated and, it's really a bad sight, or something to remember. That's why I say it seemed like a bad dream or nightmare, that we had to go through. Couldn't go live a life like a normal person. And had a fairly decent, normal life. But that's about, sums up of what I feel, right now. And I just, I don't hold no animosity to anybody. I'm everybody's friend. [Laughs]

TI: I agree with Joe, and a lot of what he says. I think it was a time of anger, pain, stress and sorrow, and during that period, for all of us that were in this situation. And, I was bitter and angry at the time, but now when I look back, I don't feel any anger or bitterness, I take it as something that happened. It didn't have to happen but it happened. And we might as well realize that. But, as far as the previously mentioned financial, I'll say it was tremendous. The $20,000 in redress that we got would not near, come nearly close to what the actual loss was. But, nevertheless, I think that was a good token to give to the people, because it came at a time in our life when most of us were well into our seventies, some in eighties, and a lot of us did not live enough to realize. And it was a sum that was enough to help us in our later years. Some call it golden years, I don't know about that. But, anyway, and a letter of apology from the president, I think that was a nice gesture. And, I think now we have to let it rest. And hopefully the public, people of the United States will learn more about this, happening during the war years. I think still, there's a lot more that needs to be done, in telling our story, and I believe this is part of the program here.

JM: Yes, in regards to that, recently my little granddaughter, she's in the second grade, and she read this story about, that was written by Ken Mochizuki, about his life, it was a story but it was based on real life. But she asked me, she says, "Grandpa, did you go through all that stuff, everything that he wrote about?" She asked like she thought it was, didn't happen. But yes, I said, "I had to go to camp. I had barbed wires around me, and I had to stay there, I couldn't do anything I wanted to do." So she's curious, the younger people are curious, the, I think my kids, they didn't learn anything about this in school, or the only thing they knew about was when I talked about a little bit but I didn't say too much about it. And, they're now pretty curious about, really, really what happened. But, my kids, well, they're pushing fifty now. But they said they never read anything about it in school or anything. And I've talked to a lot of GIs from the different parts of the country. And, during the conversation, why, I told 'em, "Yeah, I was in camp." And oh, they thought I was in a military camp. But, no, they didn't hear nothing, anything about it. And so, it shows that there's a lot of ignorant people, not anything against them, but, they just didn't learn, they didn't know these things. And I think if everything is exposed and told the real story, I think probably that would wake a lot of people up.

AI: Well, I really appreciate the three of you taking your time to tell these stories, and to let people know what happened in the past. Is there anything you'd like to add before we end here today?

JM: Well, I just appreciate you inviting us to come and tell our story.

TI: I'm sure that there's many, many more stories, somewhat like ours. But, they're all individually different. And the more exposure we get, the better off everybody's gonna be.

JM: Well yeah, I'm like Tosh here, I'm a little bit camera-shy, even though my son is a cameraman. [Laughs] I don't really feel comfortable until I talk a little bit longer. And if I was more articulate, why, I would have a lot more to say, but if you're in front of the camera, it's a little bit squeamish for me.

TH: Yeah, there you go. You just say, end it now. Thank you very much. I wasn't much help, but I sure like to thank the cameramen for their time, too. And, that's, I better end it like that, or I'll, might flub it again, so, thank you.

AI: Well, thank you all. Today is May 21, 1998. And, we've been speaking with Mr. Joe Matsuzawa, Mr. Tokio Hirotaka, Mr. Tosh Ito, and I'm the interviewer, Alice Ito. Thank you.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.