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Title: Hiro Nishimura Interview
Narrator: Hiro Nishimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 28, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-nhiro-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So let's talk about, still childhood, but what were some of the fun or pleasant memories growing up? It seemed like I've been asking all the ones that you didn't like. How about the things when you played with your friends or your brother? What are some fond memories you have?

HN: Well, my fond memory is, especially in high school days, okay, high school, playing baseball, basketball. Those were the fond memories. Those were the fond, they were very, very important, playing baseball and basketball. Very important.

TI: So let's start with baseball. Where did you play baseball?

HN: We played here in high school, Garfield High School, Columbia, Rainier playfield, or Franklin High School, or the old, down there by Yesler Terrace, there was a sandlot there, an open lot that we used to play football, sandlot. Those were the happy days. Oh, I went to judo, too. I didn't really like judo. You know what? That reminds me of another bad experience. Judo, you know, midwinter, midwinter now, this is on purpose, cold, midwinter, you go five o'clock in the morning, six o'clock, before school. God, what a... that's discipline. They call it kangeiko. Judo, five o'clock, midwinter now, on purpose, not summertime, five o'clock, it was different. Cold, bare feet. One morning, my brother and I were just, we had an apartment house, so we walked downstairs, we're at the, by the front door. We didn't want to go out, it's so cold, my brother and I. My dad came down, checking up. After that, no more waiting around there. There was a lot of discipline, you know, the Isseis. I'm grateful to the Isseis and our culture. We had a wonderful, wonderful heritage. If it wasn't for that, I don't think I'd be very proud to be talking to you.

TI: Well, let's, so let's talk about high school. Which high school did you go to?

HN: Garfield.

TI: And when you said you played at all these different schools, did you play on the school baseball team?

HN: Yeah. No, no, I didn't play for the school team, no. Not good enough. Niseis, there weren't very many Niseis playing baseball.

TI: Did you play on a Nisei baseball team?

HN: Oh, yeah. Just the community teams, yeah.

TI: Which team?

HN: Church. Buddhist church, mainly Buddhist church. Or the field house, there was a field house.

TI: The Collins playfield?

HN: Collins, yeah. There was a field house, so we played in the field house, and we played in the Courier, so-called Courier League. James Sakamoto's Japanese American Courier newspaper, the Courier League. We owe a lot to... I'm glad I thought about the Courier League. We owe a lot to James Sakamoto, the blind person that organized all these activities, baseball, basketball, and football. Well, I didn't play football then, but he really helped out the Japanese community.

TI: So how important were these sports leagues? The Courier League, to Niseis...

HN: I think that was very, very... that was the thing. That was the only thing that kept us going, I think. That brought the community together. And I think back, and because we had the intercommunity activities, so we got to go to different, Fife and Tacoma, White River, Bellevue, Auburn and different places. I think it really unified the community, got to know each other. I think that was very... I think that's another thing that Japanese community as a whole, kept us very, very... cohesiveness, I think. Kept us from getting into trouble. I think that had a lot to do with it. Of course, our parents are the foremost, our parents. But James Sakamoto certainly helped out as far as the youth activity is concerned.

TI: So I'm thinking about the times. When you were in high school, this was during the Depression, and your father had a grocery store. Was it hard for people in the Japanese community to pay for things sometimes?

HN: Yeah. I thought, yes, yes. I remember... well, we never went hungry, always had food on the table, so I'm not complaining. But I realize that, yes, it was a hard time then. But all in all, all in all, I think the Japanese community, Nikkeijinkai, the community, there was a Japanese community still going on there. I think we were well-organized. I don't know any individual cases, but I'm sure that they were very important in maintaining harmony in the Japanese community. I think it helped out.

TI: But how about your father? Were some of the customers, like, unable to pay, or how would they work with that?

HN: That I don't know. That I don't know. I can't relate to that. But I think there were, I think there were hardships in the community.

TI: Now, the location of the store is right in the middle of, in the Japanese community. Were there other races that, other ethnic races or ethnic groups that shopped at your dad's store?

HN: No, it was ninety-nine percent Nihonjin.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.