Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Tokunaga Interview
Narrator: Tosh Tokunaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 28, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ttosh-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Thursday, May 28, 2009, and we're in the Densho studio. Dana Hoshide is the cameraperson, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And today we have Tosh. So Tosh, the first question is when and where were you born?

TT: When and where? I was born in Selleck, Washington, 1925. January 2, 1925, a little sawmill town southeast of Seattle.

TI: And when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth?

TT: Toshio Tokunaga, no middle name.

TI: Is there any significance to "Toshio"? Do you know why they named you Toshio?

TT: No.

TI: So let me ask you first about your father. What was your father's name and where was he from?

TT: His name was Taketa Tokunaga. He was born in Ehime-ken, Japan.

TI: And do you know why... or first, do you know what his family did in Japan?

TT: You know, he never talked about it. He was pretty close-mouthed, I don't know why, but my mother talked about (herself), everything she did. But all I know is he was number two son.

TI: Do you know how many brothers or sisters he had?

TT: I think there were just two of them, as far as I know.

TI: And do you have a sense about how old he was when he came to the United States?

TT: No. I don't think he was quite twenty. He came over 1906, he landed in San Francisco right after the earthquake. And I guess they weren't gonna let him ashore because of the chaos that was going on. But then I guess he was sponsored by a hakujin doctor, so he went down and helped my dad out on the ship. And he was doing houseboy.

TI: So this doctor was from San Francisco?

TT: Yes, he lived in San Francisco.

TI: Okay, so he went down there, and they weren't letting anyone else off the ship, but he went down there and got him off the ship.

TT: That's what I know. [Laughs]

TI: And how did he go from San Francisco to Selleck? I mean, what was...

TT: Well, before, I guess, in a way, worked on the railroad, went up to the cannery and wandered around like the younger Isseis, and ended up in the sawmill before the First World War. He was working in the sawmill in Selleck during the war, I guess.

TI: Okay, so he's kind of wandering, doing different types of jobs and finally gets to Selleck. Let's talk about your mother a little bit. So what was your mother's name and where was she from?

TT: Tane Tokunaga. She was from Ehime-ken, too. (...) She was born on a farm in a little village in, I guess it would be the west side of Shikoku island.

TI: And so you mentioned Tokunaga, that was her, what was her maiden name?

TT: Oh, Hori, H-O-R-I.

TI: And do you have a sense of how your mother and father got married?

TT: Well, my dad went back to Japan, got married, and brought her back (in 1920 to Selleck).

TI: Okay, so 1920. And so I'm guessing that he brought her back to Selleck.

TT: Right.

TI: To the sawmill.

TT: That's where my brother was born, (November) 1920.

TI: Okay, so let's talk about the children. So after they were married in 1920, it sounds like right away they then had a boy, your older brother? And what was his name?

TT: Mitsuo.

TI: And then after Mitsuo, who was next?

TT: That's all, there was just two of us.

TI: Just, okay, you and Mitsuo. And so you came about four or five years later?

TT: Four years later.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Describe the house that your family lived in in Selleck. What was that like?

TT: Oh, all the families up in Selleck, they lived in individual houses. Not real fancy house, but all wooden houses because of the sawmill. We had two bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a laundry room in the back.

TI: So it sounded like a pretty nice home. I mean, two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, laundry room. And they were all kind of like...

TT: Wood burner.

TI: Wood burning stove?

TT: Living room and a kitchen, because, you know, sawmill, we had plenty of wood to burn.

TI: And so you're saying, and all the families had pretty much the same kind of housing?

TT: Yeah.

TI: How about the bachelor men? Did they have houses or did...

TT: Oh, they had what they called bunkhouses. They had two big ones, and they had a central kitchen for bachelors. And they had a big Japanese bath.

TI: And describe the Japanese bath. What was that like?

TT: Well, they had a separate bathhouse, and big tub. [Laughs] It was for all the bachelors.

TI: And how many people or men could be in that tub at the same time?

TT: In the...

TI: In the bathtub, how many would be in there at the same time?

TT: Oh, you could put a dozen in there. They had a separate boiler for boiling water.

TI: And so growing up as a boy, were you able to go into the bathhouse also?

TT: We had a, we took a bath at home.

TI: So this was just really for more of the bachelor men, and they would do that?

TT: Yeah.

TI: Interesting. Tell me a little bit more now about Selleck in terms of how many other Japanese families or Japanese were in Selleck before the war?

TT: Well, at one time, I think there must have been twelve, fifteen different families. Must have been 150, 200 people, maybe not quite 200 Japanese up there, kids and all, some families had a lot of kids.

TI: So it's almost like about half were families and then half were bachelors? Or how would you think about the ratio of families to bachelors?

TT: Oh, we had a lot more bachelors, single men. They all worked in the sawmill.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: And so describe life like on a weekend or a day when there's no work. What would happen in Selleck? I mean how would, what would people do?

TT: I don't know what age bracket you're...

TI: First let's talk about maybe the men, the bachelor men. What would they do with their time off?

TT: Drink, gamble a lot.

TI: And when you were growing up as a boy -- let me ask you this. What did your mother or father tell you in terms of your interaction with the bachelor men? Things like, I mean, did they say you shouldn't go there when they were drinking? I'm curious what kind of relationship you had with the bachelor men.

TT: Oh, we got along with them.

TI: Any interesting stories about, experience with one of the bachelors that you recall? Like anything that you did with any of the bachelors that was interesting?

TT: Not really. When we were kids, we all stuck, more or less stuck together when you were a kid. When I was little, that was the height of the Depression. We didn't have toys or anything, we made our own.

TI: How about things in the outdoors, whether it was like fishing or hiking or around Selleck, it's not too far away from like where you'd go matsutake hunting. Did any of that happen?

TT: Well, actually, they did have mushroom in the area before it was cleaned out, I guess. Then we used to go fishing, there was a couple of streams there. When we were kids, we just cut the willow poles, piece of string. 'Cause we didn't have money to go out and buy any fancy equipment.

TI: And so when you went fishing, it was more you and your buddies.

TT: We were fishing trout. Trout fishing.

TI: Yeah. And this is with your friends, usually, about the same age? And tell me about that. When you say streams, how big a stream?

TT: Oh, a regular creek.

TI: And you'd catch just regular, like, trout?

TT: Yeah.

TI: And then you mentioned the mushroom, did you ever go mushroom picking?

TT: Not around there. They used to go down into Covington, you know where Covington is. That area used to have mushroom before the war.

TI: That's interesting, it's now all residential.

TT: Now, yes. Before it was all woods.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So describe kind of the school setting in Selleck. What was school like in Selleck?

TT: Oh, we a had regular schoolhouse. There used to be two to a classroom. Except for our class, we had more kids than the rest of the... I don't know, we must have had nineteen, twenty in our class. So we had our own room, but the others were doubled up.

TI: So when you say doubled, usually, you mean usually two...

TT: Two classes in one room. One teacher to every room.

TI: And in your class you said fifteen or so?

TT: Hakujin.

TI: Yeah, how many were Japanese, how many were hakujin?

TT: Oh, I never stopped to count. [Laughs]

TI: Just roughly.

TT: Roughly half.

TI: Half and half?

TT: When I first started. By the time I graduated eighth grade, yeah, we still had sixteen, eight boys and eight girls, mostly hakujin, though.

TI: And how did the different races get along with each other, like the Japanese and Caucasians, how would that...

TT: Oh, we got along all right. Except occasional... when we get in fights or something, calling each other names. But we got along fine. In fact, I still go up there once in a while to visit my classmate. There's very few people left up there in Selleck, all the stores, everything is gone.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So tell me a little bit more about Selleck in terms of, you called it a sawmill. So what kind of logs would come in and what kind of things would...

TT: Well, Selleck had its own logging camp up in the hills. In fact, Selleck was the largest sawmill on the West Coast at that time. In fact there's a plaque there, even now, when you go up to the old Selleck school building, it's [inaudible], so it must have been. [Laughs]

TI: And do you know how many workers they had at the mill?

TT: I don't know.

TI: But it must have been probably hundreds of workers?

TT: Yeah. Another thing they had, most of the hakujin residents [inaudible], they were all connected. They worked in the coal mine.

TI: And so right next, or close by the sawmill, they had coal mining also out there? Because it's all in the same area. So you had coal mining and the sawmill?

TT: It was separate, but...

TI: Did very many Japanese work coal mining also?

TT: No.

TI: So why not? Why were they in the sawmill and not coal miners?

TT: Well, all those Japanese worked in the sawmill. [Laughs] Of course, more hakujin working in the sawmill, too. But then all those coal miners were hakujin.

TI: Going back to the sawmill, were there certain jobs that the Japanese did versus the Caucasians? Or were they all mixed up?

TT: Mixed up.

TI: So there weren't, there weren't some positions that you'd always see maybe a white worker and in some positions you might always see a Japanese worker.

TT: I don't know too much about it because I was young and don't pay attention that much. My dad, he was what you call an oiler, going along oiling and greasing all the machines, that was his job. He had a little shack.

TI: Was that viewed as one of the better jobs in terms of the sawmill or did you have...

TT: Oh, I think that's an easier job. [Laughs]

TI: You were telling me earlier, so at some point you moved from Selleck into Seattle. So why did the family move from Selleck to Seattle?

TT: The company went bankrupt, poor management, and it never started up again.

TI: And when you say poor management, why do you say that?

TT: Well, that's what I understand.

TI: Because there were still lots of logs and things like that for them to cut and things like that? So it wasn't like they ran out of logs or anything like that.

TT: No, they didn't run out. One thing I gathered was that they built a bridge up where the logging camp was. That was really, they spent too much money on that.

TI: So when the company goes bankrupt and you have lots of Japanese up there, where did the Japanese go? What did most families do?

TT: They dispersed from all over. Even before the mill went broke, some of the families got, couple of them I knew went down to California, one went down to Oregon. Most of them came to the Seattle area, I guess, more in the valley. They dispersed all over. And I was living, when I came to town, I was living on Sixteenth and Fir. That's the Garfield district.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Before we come to Seattle, I'm just curious, while your father was working at the sawmill, what would your mother do?

TT: Nothing. Housewife, raising kids, I guess. She had a, in fact, all the family had a vegetable garden.

TI: And do you recall any activities that your mom did with maybe the other mothers? Did they have any kind of classes or meeting type things?

TT: Not really, except get together and gossip, I guess.

TI: And how would you -- thinking about your parents -- how would you describe your father? What kind of man was he?

TT: Strict, hardheaded.

TI: And so what would be, do you have an example of what that means by being strict?

TT: They kept me in line.

TI: And so it was like that he wanted you to do certain things in a certain way and was pretty strict about that? Was there like a example, like a hobby or schoolwork or something that he would tell you certain things?

TT: No. Well, one advantage I had was I had an older brother. So as far as schoolwork and stuff, I had help from him. By the time he graduated high school, he would start working on the mill. And that was another thing, kids who lived in that area worked in the mine or sawmill. Nobody thought about going to college.

TI: How about your mother? How would you describe your mother?

TT: She was quiet, more on the quiet side.

TI: And we talked a little bit about your older brother. How would you describe your older brother? What was he like?

TT: Well the age difference, so he had his own friends that he stuck around with, age group. I stuck around with my own age group. So growing up, we weren't that close.

TI: But how would you describe him? What kind of personality did he have?

TT: Well, he was more on the quiet side, smart, smarter than me. He skipped a class. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Okay, so we're, so the mill, sawmill went broke, and your family moved to Seattle, you mentioned Sixteenth and Fir, which was in, you said, in terms of school districts, the Garfield High School district. But when you first came to Seattle, what was that like? How would you describe Seattle back in, what, this is like 1939? What was Seattle like for you in 1939?

TT: Well, actually, I had some friends in town. We had our own Japanese school in Selleck, when I was growing up.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So how frequently did you have to go to Japanese school?

TT: Every day after school.

TI: And how many students were there in the school? Like in your group, how many?

TT: Well, the younger ones from our age down, we had, Mrs. Mihara was our teacher, and the older ones, like my brother, that kind of age, they had man teachers. He used to work, he was working at the sawmill and he was teaching after.

TI: And how did you like going to Japanese school?

TT: [Laughs] We had to go. There was no way of skipping in anything because the little community there, you know.

TI: What about Japanese community gatherings? Where there things that you did, whether they're picnics or...

TT: Picnic area. Used to come, well, they didn't have any Japanese store there, so the salesmen used to come up from Seattle, in fact, Tsutakawa company, Furuya, Asia Trading. Mr. Katayama, they had the grocery store on Rainier Avenue, he used to bring up produce and fish. There used to be a, oh, hakujin came up from Ravensdale selling meat and stuff. Oh, they had a general store in Selleck, (...) used to get all these other people coming up selling. Post office, we had our own little hospital, church. There was a consolidated church.

TI: Going back to these vendors that would come from Seattle to Selleck, were there ever things that they brought for the kids that the kids got to buy or the parents bought for the kids, do you remember? Like candy or anything like that?

TT: [Laughs] Like I say, it was Depression days. And those stores in town was hurting, too.

TI: So earlier you mentioned there was an annual picnic. Describe the picnic. What would happen at the annual picnic? What kind of things would you do?

TT: Oh, mostly eating. [Laughs] Play games.

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

TT: Oh, the older ones would organize some games for the kids.

TI: Do you recall any of the games that were organized?

TT: Different type, races, typical... of course, we don't have picnics around town anymore like we used to.

TI: And you mentioned eating. Describe the food. What kind of food...

TT: Everybody would bring food.

TI: Like what would be... I'm guessing Japanese food?

TT: Well, even sandwiches and stuff, too.

TI: And did you have any favorites? When you think back to the picnics and the food, I mean, what would come to mind? What would be your favorite picnic food?

TT: Sushi and rice balls, all different things. Oh, just typical, what you get now.

TI: So you mentioned the Japanese language school, you had this picnic, how about church? Did you guys have a church that you attended when you were in Selleck?

TT: We used to go to the hakujin church. Well, actually, we didn't have a minister. Minister used to come up from Seattle. I don't know if you remember, there used to be (...) a little church beside the road (north of downtown). The minister from there used to come up. Once in a while from Black Diamond, the minister used to come up. The Japanese, Reverend Murphy, I don't know if you've heard of him or not, but he was a former missionary and he spoke fluent Japanese, and he used to come up. If I'm not mistaken, he belonged to the St. Peter's church in Seattle.

TI: This is St. Peter's Episcopal in Seattle?

TT: He used to come up once or twice a year.

TI: How about Buddhist? Did they have, like, Buddhist ministers come up there?

TT: No.

TI: Any other Japanese activities like cultural or community, so you had picnics...

TT: Well, we used to have shibai. The workers used to put on the shibai. And oh, somebody used to bring a movie up from Seattle, it was a Japanese movie, and show it at the... what you call it, kitchen has a big eating area for the bachelors, that was the meeting place.

TI: Like kind of a mess hall?

TT: Yeah, (in the messhall).

TI: And were these silent Japanese movies?

TT: Both. Regular movies.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, so let's go back to Seattle now. So now, you were living in this fairly small town kind of community, and then you moved to essentially the middle of Seattle, which is a large, more metropolitan area. So how was that change for you? I mean, what was that like for you to go from a small town to a city?

TT: I was already in high school, so it really didn't bother me that much. 'Cause I only went to school for two years anyway.

TI: But here you go from a, probably a smaller high school to a big city high school. Garfield's a large public high school. What was that like for you? Did you like it better, or is it about the same? What were your feelings about it?

TT: [Pause] Well, really it wasn't that much difference. Because when I was going to Enumclaw, we had oh, maybe 150 in the class, our class. Come to Garfield and maybe three or times as much. It wasn't that much difference. But then there were a heck of a lot more Japanese. [Laughs]

TI: And how did that feel for you, to all of a sudden be around more Japanese?

TT: Well, I got to know a few, but then these guys in town were more cliquish. They grew up and stayed together all their lives.

TI: And so it was hard for someone like you, coming from a different community, like into high school, because most of them had grown up together and they already had their groups formed, and so it was kind of harder for you?

TT: I wasn't that outgoing or anything anyway. Then I made some hakujin friends, too.

TI: And so would you say at Garfield that you were, who were some of your best friends? Maybe I'll ask that question. At Garfield, who were your closest friends at Garfield?

TT: I wasn't really that close to anyone. What I mean is, go over to their house or they come over and all that. But there were, some of the kids that I knew (that were) going to Broadway, I was probably closer to them. I used to, when I was young, used to go out and pick berries (with them).

TI: Okay. So you actually had people that you knew or felt closer to, and they went to a different high school. And the reason, because you knew them growing up. You were, like, picking berries when you were younger. And so after school, did you sometimes get together with them and do things on weekends?

TT: Well, not too much. In the summertime, I would work, (gardening), I was kind of big for my age, then fourteen, fifteen. Kids were working anyway, so I would work, (for) Yorozu's gardening, too.

TI: I wanted to ask about your dad. When he came to Seattle, what kind of work did your dad find in Seattle?

TT: I think he worked gardening, Yorozu's.

TI: And describe, when you said you lived at Sixteenth and Fir, what kind of housing did the family live in?

TT: Oh, we were renting a house. It was a two-bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, the house is still there. And we were surrounded by Japanese. Next door was Chinese.

TI: Did you notice, for your parents, whether or not they liked better or disliked more living in Seattle than in Selleck? I mean, was there a change in any one of your parents about living in Seattle?

TT: Well, they had no choice.

TI: So do you have a sense that they did not want to, they'd prefer Selleck over Seattle?

TT: Oh, I would think Seattle would be better, because we were older. My brother was already working, and things were easier for them.

TI: So in...

TT: And everything's more convenient.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So within two years, you're now in Seattle, you're at Garfield, and then in December 7, 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. Do you remember that day?

TT: Yeah.

TI: What were you doing when you heard about the bombing?

TT: Well, I was sitting in a movie theater with friends. And while we were watching the movie, on the screen, a notice, (that said), "All military personnel report back to their respective bases immediately." And during the movie, that came on two or three times. And after the movie when we got outside, saw the newspaper, great big headline like "Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor." And those days, no TV, radio was just come on. But then the newspaper was everything. And kids going up and down the street yelling, "Extra, extra." You've seen... I don't know if you remember those days.

TI: And what did you, what was your reaction when you heard all this?

TT: Surprise. We just walked home. In those days, we walked (everywhere), all the way to, whether it's to downtown or Sick Stadium for baseball.

TI: And do you recall who you were with? When you say "we," who you were at the movies with?

TT: Yeah, there were a couple of friends from Broadway. They're gone now.

TI: On that day, do you recall saying anything amongst the group about what happened?

TT: No. I don't know exactly what was said, but we were discussing. We didn't know what, especially we were young yet, too. No one even thought about evacuation or anything.

TI: So when you got home, what was that like? Were your parents there, and if so...

TT: Oh, they knew about it already.

TI: And was there any conversations or discussion about what had just happened?

TT: Well, we talked about it. My dad was pretty well up on news. Of course, my brother knew more about things. I guess like a family discussion about, don't know what's what. Because of the fact that we're at war with Japan, typical Issei, they're wondering what's going to happen. But my dad wasn't picked up, being just a common laborer.

TI: So describe like the next day when you went to school at Garfield. Anything happen there?

TT: No. There was discussion going on all over school, but there wasn't any discrimination or anything at that time.

TI: And so in those weeks after December 7th, any events or anything that you remember about those days in terms of anything different that happened?

TT: Not really. I think things were just going along.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: And so eventually, when the community got the word that they had to leave Seattle, what did you think about that?

TT: Didn't know what to expect.

TI: And when you heard that, though, were you surprised or was that kind of like, "Okay, I understand this"? What was your feeling about it?

TT: We followed the news. First of all, we were under curfew. And all the different news, every day, news come out with all kind of speculation. But when they did, we just have to go along with it. So I remember going, we walked from our house to Twentieth and Madison carrying a suitcase. Must have been about a mile or something.

TI: Do you recall ever hearing your brother say anything about this? Because he was a little bit older, out of high school already and working, did he have any comments about what was going on?

TT: Nobody liked it. [Laughs] But then we had to go along with it.

TI: So describe when you got to Twentieth and Madison, what did that look like? Who was there and what was it like?

TT: Oh. People all over the place, suitcases on the sidewalk. We felt sorry for the ones with little kids.

TI: 'Cause they had to carry them and carry their bags or it was hard. They had so many things to do. And so at Twentieth and Union you were picked up. Where did they take you?

TT: Put us on a bus and took us to Puyallup. Twentieth and Madison, couple blocks over from Union. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So you go to Puyallup, Washington, the site of the Western Washington Fairgrounds.

TT: I was in Area D, right in the middle of the fairground. Right in the middle of the racetrack area.

TI: So was that a good place or a bad place relative to the other areas? There was Area A, B, C, D, you were in D. How did that compare with the other parts?

TT: The buildings were very similar, Area A, B, C, D, except for people that lived underneath the grandstand. And then some of them lived in the horse stall.

TI: So the people who lived under the grandstands sometimes lived in the horse stalls, but the other places were more just barracks?

TT: Well, they had shiplap barracks where we lived. The top was open, as you've probably heard, and knotholes. But then, now, I didn't stick around home. 'Cause get up in the morning, you go to eat, then we'd go and stick around with friends. I was working in the operation crew.

TI: And what's the operation crew? What kind of things did you do?

TT: That's the maintenance crew policing in the area, then any time someone comes up to move and things, we had to go help. Then every chance you get, we're playing cards, card game, pinochle. Then after a while, we had our own separate room under the stands.

TI: And then how about things like school or other regular events? Did you guys have anything scheduled?

TT: Nothing. We did do sumo.

TI: So how was that organized? Who set up...

TT: Well, one of the guys in our group, I'll mention the name, Mr. Tsuboi, Louise's, you know, her dad (and) Mr. Iwasaki, I don't know if you know Gaylord. They started a sumo (group). And one of the guys in my group was Louise's brother Frank. Do you know Frank Sr.?

TI: Uh-huh.

TT: So he's the one that drafted us to do sumo. [Laughs] That was fun.

TI: And so you guys just found a big space...

TT: In one of the buildings, we had to set up a ring. I don't know what you call that (and stuff). You wrap around (yourself)...

TI: And then you would kind of take turns going in there and essentially doing sumo.

TT: Then after a while, we used to have tournament with other areas, too. [Laughs]

TI: So that was a fun event or distraction for you.

TT: Besides, we weren't there that long anyway.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TT: Then a call came for volunteers to go to another camp or something. So our whole operation crew signed up to go.

TI: So this was a call for volunteers to go, essentially, an advance party to --

TT: An advance crew.

TI: -- to, like, Minidoka, to help.

TT: Yeah, but they didn't say where. We had no idea. I was seventeen then.

TI: So without knowing where you were going and maybe in some cases why, why did you volunteer?

TT: Oh, because the whole group was... you know, we were talking among ourselves. Of course, they were all older than me. When they said, "Let's go," well, I said I'm going to go. My mother was kind of reluctant to let me go, you know. [Laughs] But we went. And when we left, they didn't know where we were going. And we didn't know where we were going, we just, put us on the train in Puyallup there. And along the way, all the windows were covered. And oh, one funny thing is at that time, there was a song that came out called "Idaho." Do you know that tune? "Way beyond the hills of Idaho, yawning canyon greets us all." Well, actually, nobody knew the words. Well, we had some girls go, too, 'cause they were working. And they were taking shorthand, writing all the songs down. So it was kind of ironic that the song did come out at that time. And then up in the spur, you know (what) the spur (is)? Where there's nothing. I think the railroad's still there. So when we were, they came and pick us up in the truck and we moved into Block 2, that was the only one that was finished at the time. And when you got there, what was your impressions of the camp site, that's (dusty). In fact, even our block wasn't completely finished. They were filling in a lot of the building. When you're a young kid, it's more adventurous, too.

TI: But was your sense, going from Puyallup to Minidoka, was it... because Puyallup was labeled more as a temporary assembly center, and then Minidoka was viewed as more of a permanent facility. Was it a step up would you say, or about the same in terms of facilities?

TT: Well, I would say the facility as a whole would be better.

TI: And why would you say that? What were some of the things that you saw at Minidoka that you thought made it better?

TT: The building itself, I thought was better. Because in Puyallup, the whole top area was open and boards, knotholes. At least in Minidoka, the building cover was tarpaper, but still, got a little bigger area, I think.

TI: Okay. So what kind of things did your crew do? You got there early, what were some of the things you guys did?

TT: Oh. We were gonna, we had to... well, what I'd do was I worked with, I don't know if you know Bill Yanagimachi, I knew him from Garfield. He was a driver for the truck and I worked with him. And what we did was haul kitchen supplies or mess hall supplies from the warehouse to all different mess halls (opened), plus, we had to get the bedding from the warehouse and bring it down to the different blocks as they opened. That was my job. [Laughs]

TI: And then eventually you started getting people arriving from Puyallup.

TT: Yeah, right. And after, my parents, after they came, they moved into Block 15. And after a while I moved back with (my family).

TI: Back with your family, your mother and father?

TT: So thinking about Minidoka, any events or stories that come to mind for you about that time when you were at Minidoka?

TT: You mean the early part?

TI: Yeah, or any part. Is there anything that, a strong memory of Minidoka?

TT: Not really.

TI: How would you describe, like, the food? Was the food something that...

TT: The food was lousy. [Laughs] We had an outhouse when we first got there.

TI: And how about your job at Minidoka? Did you have a job? Is it still more operations type or did that change?

TT: No. After that, after being there for a while, most of the camp was getting filled up. They asked for volunteers to go work on the farms. So I would work on the farm with a group of guys. In fact, when we (first) went out to work, we took your relative with us, Chuck Kinoshita. Yeah, he was young, I think he was about fourteen, fifteen. We took him along with us when we were working on the farm, picking potatoes and topping sugar beets.

TI: And how did you guys like doing that?

TT: Well, it was backbreaking work, hard work, but at least we were out of the camp and we were getting more pay. I don't remember exactly what we got in camp. And another thing, we lived in a little bunkhouse, and we ate with a farmer family. So we ate good. Potatoes, meat, (everything), you know.

TI: So the food was much better out there. Okay.

TT: And --

TI: No, go ahead, I'm sorry.

TT: After I came back from the season, school starts. I had a half year to go, so... then we started school. No books, nothing. [Laughs] And so I was going to school half a day and worked half a day. I worked in the motor pool.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: At some point, when you were at Minidoka, for young men, they started drafting them out of -- or asking first for volunteers and then drafting men into the military service. What was your response when that started happening? Did you volunteer or when you were drafted, did you join the military service?

TT: Well, when I turned eighteen, I had to register for the draft. And our draft board was Boise. Classification of 4-C, "enemy alien." So I must have been still in school. Then after school, I went to work in the Hazelton FHA camp that was where all the laborers stayed. So I remember, oh, a great number of my age group (I) graduated with, went out there to work. And while there, I guess the government changed their mind and reclassified us 1-A. And got drafted, went down to Fort Douglas for induction. I came back to camp, recalled about a month later, we had to go back, and we went to Fort Douglas then on to Camp Shelby. I was a replacement for 442.

TI: Yeah, before we go through all that, did you ever get a sense about your parents and how they felt about you going into the military service? Did you ever talk to them about that?

TT: Well, my dad told me and my brother, he says, "You guys are born in the States, and you gotta act and be a citizen of the United States." I remember him saying that.

TI: And your brother was older, so did he also go into the military service?

TT: Oh, he was out working elsewhere. I think he was in Utah somewhere. But (...) he got called up later. In fact, they took the young ones first. And the reason -- well, yeah, they took us eighteen-year-olds, nineteen-year-olds first. And they drafted all the people from camp first because that freed the farmers, you know, the regular outside farmers' kids.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So they had to reach --

TT: So we fulfilled the quota.

TI: Right. So they had to get certain numbers and they would get the young men from camp to fill their quota. Interesting. That's the first time I heard that, that's interesting.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, so let's get into the second hour. And where we kind of left it was you had, you were drafted and you were inducted, and we had just started talking about getting your military training. So let's pick it up there. So where did you do your basic training?

TT: I did my basic training in Camp Shelby. I was assigned to Headquarters Company, (to) the anti-tank (platoon).

TI: Now, when you say headquarters, I always thought that they didn't really, they weren't really trained necessarily for, kind of, fighting stuff. I mean, you're anti-tank.

TT: Well, regular, other companies are regular infantry training. But then we went through... in fact, the Headquarters Company for the training part, they had, split into anti-tank or what they consider A&P, that's more like an engineer group. So, well, along with being anti-tank, we (went) through regular infantry training, too.

TI: Okay. And so you're doing this, and then, and we talked earlier, but you kind of, I guess, got a transfer to another group. So talk about that. I mean, how did you go from being, essentially, a 442 replacement to doing something else?

TT: Well, by the time I was finishing, finish up basic training, some notice was put up on the bulletin board saying that, "We will now accept volunteers for paratroop." So there were four of us in our group that were staying in the same hutment, volunteered. In fact, one of them you probably recognize the name. You know Mike Masaoka? His younger brother volunteered with us. And there were, I guess, about ten or twelve at the most, from the whole group. When I say group, all our companies combined. And within four, we got ready to leave, one guy backed out. And later I found out -- no, we had a mutual friend that we corresponded with, and I got a letter right after the war saying... his name was Kinoshita from California, he was killed in action. Another -- well, maybe not funny thing -- but when I got ready to go to Fort Benning, my platoon leader, a Hawaiian, he and a few other cadre guys took me out to a beer garden for a final goodbye or whatever you want to call it. And when I was leaving, his name was Takeuchi, anyway, he says, told me, he said, "How come you want to go die with the haoles and not go with us and die with the Buddhaheads?" When he said that, I said, "Oh, Sarge," I said, "we'll both be okay, we'll both come back." But after the war I ran into one of the guys in my training outfit, told me that Sarge was killed. That's, I don't know what you call it, that's life or what.

TI: When the sergeant took you out for that beer and said that, how did you feel? I mean, it sounded like that he...

TT: Oh, we just went out for fun, you know.

TI: Right, but it sounded like he was sad that you were leaving him, that he wanted you to stay.

TT: Well, he was old. He must have been in the late twenties. [Laughs] He was a weather-beaten old man, you know, so he was treating me like a little, you know, younger brother or fatherly type. You know, when you get close to somebody, it gets kind of sad to leave. It's like they say, when you transfer companies, the outfit, it cancels all debt in friendship.

TI: So going back to his question, let me ask you: so why did you, why do you want to go essentially fight with this group of white soldiers rather than Japanese? Why did you? What made you decide to volunteer for the paratroopers?

TT: Well, one thing we knew, paratroopers were considered more (of a) lead outfit and everything. So what we had to do is prove that we were just as good as them, as a soldier and as a citizen.

TI: And so that's kind of some of the things you guys talked about, the ones who volunteered, that if you guys could do a good job, that would show others that Japanese could be really good soldiers? Was that some of the discussion that you guys had?

TT: Yeah, just among our little group, yeah, we said, "We'll show 'em up." [Laughs] So it was known, they were known for rugged training and everything. But then when we came out of Camp Shelby, we were in tip-top shape, too. [Laughs] So I must have been ten, twelve (of us) at the most. But nobody washed out, we all made it through.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So describe the training for paratroopers. When you, so you went from Shelby to Fort Benning, you said?

TT: Yes.

TI: And so what was that like?

TT: Well, actually, it's four weeks of training. First week to get you in shape, physical, all the physical exercises, training. One thing we do is we got to double-time everywhere we go as a group, in formation. [Laughs] You have to get up and go to the mess hall, we had to fall in formation and go double-time to the mess hall. And if you're caught goofing off doing anything, you had to "knock out fifty" they call it. Fifty push-ups. And after you do fifty, then you've got to catch up with the group. [Laughs] Well, anyway, the first week is just putting you into shape. And the second week, they call it the 34-foot tower. It's a tower thirty feet, thirty-four feet off the ground, and it's got an open door. And you've got a cable stretched from the top on an angle all the way down to nothing. So what they're gonna teach you is how to go out the door. In fact, they figured that is an airplane door, you know. So you hook up, you're in harness, and they call it a static line, you hook it onto the cable. And when the (time) comes, it's ready, you have to jump out. And you slide down on the cable, and when you come to the bottom, they teach you how to land. You do that for a week plus other training. And the third week, they take you to the 250 tower. Have you been down there?

TI: No, I've never been to Fort Benning.

TT: At Fort Benning they've got about three or four 250-foot towers with the arms stretched out, I guess there are three or four arms. And the first day, they put you on a buddy seat and strap you in, and buddy in the seat, and they drag you up on a cable up to the top and then release you. You come zooming down. [Laughs] And you hit the bottom and you're bouncing around. That's really scary. [Laughs] Then you wonder, "Boy, I wonder if it's going to be like this," when you jump out. But then next day they put you on the harness and hook you up to the parachute, regular parachute, open chute, they drag you up to the top and then release you and you come drifting down. Most of the time it was all right as long as it's not windy. When you hit the ground, you gotta fall right. That's the third week. And the fourth week is the actual jumping out of a plane. Not only that, you got to pack your own chute. What you do is pack your chute at night and the next day you go out and jump. You do that for a week. And right after that, you move across the border, Alabama side of Fort Benning. Fort Benning is mostly on Georgia side. It's right on the border between Georgia and Alabama. And for advanced training, you go over to the Alabama side and you're there for advanced training. And after you complete that, you're ready.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TT: So they give you a furlough, so I went back to camp. When you're in the service like that, you don't have any money so you don't fly. Couldn't afford it. I took the slow train all the way from Fort Benning to Minidoka. And along the way, I stopped at Fort Worth, Texas, and went to Camp Hood to visit my brother. He was undergoing training for armored outfit training. It was a hello and a goodbye, you know. Stopped at Denver, visited a couple of my friends that was with us in camp, (...) -- two brothers, I don't know if you... oh, yeah, you probably know the Kusakabe brothers, Peter and John. They were going to school, so I visited with them and stayed overnight there. And on my way back to Minidoka, I went to a drugstore before I caught the train. And in the drugstore, they had whiskey and stuff all piled up from the floor to the ceiling almost. [Laughs] Well, I wanted to take a whiskey back to my dad. And I was a young kid, I didn't know anything about whiskey. And I was looking at those bottles and says, 35-proof and 70-proof, 80-proof and 100-proof. I thought, "Oh, heck, 100-proof? That must be the best." [Laughs] So I took one bottle, Old Mr. Boston, it was 100-proof. So I took it back to camp with me, gave it to my dad. He was real happy to get it. [Laughs] Then I think he shared it with his friends, must have drank most of it himself, I don't know. But years later, when I was looking in the kitchen cupboard at home, and that old bottle was sitting there on the shelf with shoyu in there. So my mother had kept that bottle and brought it back to Seattle, keepsake, and used it for shoyu.

TI: It must have meant a lot to your parents to have a gift from you. That's good. Going back a little bit to Fort Benning, I'm curious how the white soldiers treated you.

TT: Oh. The very first day, the fellows are out in formation, you know. Head sergeant there for cadre, he says, "All of you here are volunteers. So I want everybody here to treat each other equally, and we don't want any kind of problem, discrimination or anything. If there is, we're gonna kick you out of here." And he says, "Some of you here looking like the enemy," referring to us. He says, "We don't want any discrimination whatsoever." Never had a problem.

TI: So that made it a lot easier when he just, on the very first day, made that statement. And do you recall how you and others felt about that or did you guys talk about that?

TT: No. (Our group) were intermingled. We weren't together, we were separated.

TI: When you, so when you got to, finally to Minidoka and you saw your parents, any other memories from that trip to Minidoka that you recall?

TT: Well, most of my friends were all gone out of camp, but I did visit a few people. I remember the incident when I was leaving camp, people from our block came to see me off. And some of the Isseis gave me envelope, going away, dollar or two or something, kokoro mochi. After I got on the bus when I was leaving, going away, I don't remember whether it was Jerome or Shoshone where I caught the train back. But I got on the bus, pulling away from camp, I look out of the back window, and the people that had come to see me off were all leaving. And there was one lonely figure standing against the fence, against the gate, and hand up against it, holding, and that that was the most pitiful sight of my life, and that was my mother. And years later, I talked to her about that incident, and she told me that she didn't expect me to come back. That's the thing I remember most, I guess.

TI: That must be such a hard thing for a mother. That's a good story.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So you returned --

TT: Yeah, I went back to the camp, and then we got shipped overseas, going over, I went over on the Queen, the original Queen Elizabeth. It had fifteen thousand troops on there, 'cause they were rushing them all over.

TI: And then what unit were you assigned to as a paratrooper?

TT: Well, I was assigned to 507, Parachute Infantry Regiment, Company B. That was (with) the 17th Airborne Division.

TI: And so why don't you describe kind of the action or...

TT: Oh, when I first joined? Well, I got assigned to 507. When I got there, before I can even get to that company, couple of us (were) pulled off and put on a truck to haul supplies. [Laughs] Then after that, I joined the company. This was in the Battle of the Bulge. And after the Bulge was over, we pulled back into France, a town called Rambre Villar, I don't know how you spell it. But a town close to Reims, where the famous cathedral is. And then we went through training there before the actual jump.

TI: And so describe, I guess, your first jump. What was that like? What was the circumstances of the first jump?

TT: Well, you're talking about overseas? Yeah. It was called Operation Varsity, and we were going to be jumping over the Rhine River. But there wasn't any bridges left on the Rhine. Either the Allies had bombed up all the bridges, or the Germans had destroyed it themselves. So our mission was to establish a beach head on the other side so they can put pontoon bridges across. And when you speak of the pontoon, it's not what you think about, little thing. It's huge. And they had to use a crane to lay the pontoons, one after another. 'Cause, in fact, they did stretch it all the way across the river, and (it had to be) big enough and strong enough so the two and a half ton trucks plus regular tanks went across. Well, you want to talk about the actual jump?

TI: Yeah. So you...

TT: Well, we had a couple of practice jumps before the regular. But anyway, early morning, we went to the airfield, got on the plane. The whole battalion went together. I found out later that I was in the group, the very first plane, the very first group that went over. So must have been about ten o'clock by the time we got moving. I don't know exactly, but they said, "Stand up, hook up, get ready." After, when we hit the Rhine, the Germans had sent up everything they had, anti-aircraft, machine guns and regular guns. And the plane started to rock because of all that flack. And I happened to look out, next plane, the engine was on fire. But I figured they got out because we got out of our plane right away after that. Then we hit... we landed in the open field near the town of Wessel.

TI: And before you even go to the landing, so you're in the plane, it's rocking because of all the anti-aircraft, the next plane over is already on fire, the engine, what's going through your mind? What are you thinking?

TT: I wanted to get out. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] Not with your parachute, but just...

TT: You're not thinking, you just want to get out of there. So, yeah, few seconds, a minute or so later, we got out. They said, "Go," we got out. We jumped.

TI: And so you'd rather go from, I'm not sure if "safety" is a good word, but the confines of a plane, to just jump out into darkness.

TT: No, it wasn't dark, it's daylight.

TI: Oh, daylight, ten in the morning, okay, morning. But jumping out, not really knowing what you're gonna find on the ground. 'Cause you were the first, one of the first planes in the first group, and that, I'm guessing, is probably the most dangerous because they're waiting for you.

TT: Yeah, they were waiting. In fact, they had good intelligence, you know, they knew we were coming. But then, you know, when I say... there was a group of I don't know how many planes that jumped together, so...

TI: So hundreds or thousands of men are jumping at the same time?

TT: Well, in a division there's three regiments. Well, actually, we had two parachute regiments and one glider that went in together, plus the British Airborne Division. So within the... regiment, there are three battalions, and the battalion is divided into companies. So I was in B Company but then they said even the colonel, the commanding, regimental commander jumped with us, too.

TI: Okay. But, so a lot of men. I know from the 442, like a battalion was roughly, at full strength, about a thousand, a thousand men. And so the Regimental Combat Team, the 442, full strength, was like four thousand, and they had three battalions plus headquarters. So about a thousand per battalion. So you're talking about a lot of men, though, that are coming out of those planes.

TT: They come in waves.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, so you jump, and you land. Describe what happened next.

TT: Well, when we were going down, they were shooting at us. But then when you're on the ground, too, you have to have those guys jump near you, so it worked both ways. But then we were fortunate in that our casualty wasn't that heavy. But then H Company, company commander, first sergeant, the rest of the group, I don't know, there must have been sixteen, seventeen, in that planeload. They landed right on top of a German encampment and every single one was wiped out.

TI: So a lot of it is just where you land.

TT: Yeah, right.

TI: So it sounds like, but your company landed in a safe place, or a better place.

TT: Yeah, right. So when you land, you just gotta get out of your chute and head for the woods. [Laughs]

TI: And then what happened? So you land...

TT: Oh, then we had to gather together. And then about an hour or two later, B-24s, the liberators, they came over. And through the open doors, they kicked out supplies, extra supplies for us. What they had was a cotton chute, and different colored chutes. Maybe the red is for ammunition, green is for medical supply or something, and blue for weapons, and food for another. So we went back out and got some extra ammunition.

TI: So you go out there and you collect all that.

TT: Huh?

TI: So you collect all that...

TT: Oh, we didn't touch the other things. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, just the ammunition.

TT: Yeah. Because, well, people, they need different things. 'Cause machine gun ammunition, it goes so fast. It comes in a box, you've seen those. So each one of us carried a box of extra ammo. Oh, another thing, over in Europe during the war, they had a couple of publications, Stars and Stripes, you've heard of that, news? And then Yank Magazine, we had one of the reporters from Yank jump with us, jump with our company. So after we landed, he was supposed to stay with us and report our doings. I remember laying around, he'd come around asking us our names and where we're from and all this different thing. Next day he was killed. And when they did, all the things that he had written about us, gone, too. So we never got the publicity. [Laughs]

TI: Wow. I didn't realize that they would... I mean, in that case, I guess that's equivalent to what they call embedding reporters in units, I guess that's... so he was right with you. But boy, that seems so dangerous, a reporter.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So anything else about this action that... so what happened next?

TT: Oh, well, from then on, we were regular infantry. So our mission was to drive right through the heart of the Ruhr, the industrial part of Germany. And we moved from, I don't know what town that was, Duesberg, Dusselberg, Dessau, Haltern, Munster, so we were on our way right through that whole area. And we freed a lot of the DPs, you know, Displaced Personnel. The Germans had brought in Polish and Russian workers to work in the plants, and then they were living in little concentration camps along the way.

TT: And what did you see when you would liberate one of these camps? What did you see?

TT: Well, actually, they were happy to see us. It didn't matter to us, really. We just let 'em out.

TI: What about the condition of the prisoners? What kind of shape were they in?

TT: Well, some were in bad shape. Some weren't too bad because they've been working. And it depends on how long they've been there, too.

TI: And as you guys advanced, I'm guessing the Germans were retreating? Because these camps were being liberated by you, so the Germans had vacated the area? Was that what was going on?

TT: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. And then what happened? So keep telling me what happened next.

TT: Well, I guess the war ended. [Laughs] When the war ended, we were on the other side of Munster, town of Munster, airport there.

TI: And so it's interesting, so as a paratrooper, you really got, during the war, really one jump, and then you were infantry from then on.

TT: Yeah.

TI: And so they never called you back to do another jump someplace else, it was just training for that one jump over the Rhine and then you're infantry.

TT: Same thing as what happened in Normandy. Of course, the problem they had in Normandy was they jumped in the middle of the night. And when they did that, it was completely disorganized, they couldn't get together.

TI: So it was kind of like a choice. I mean, I suppose if you do it at night, at least you're under the cover of darkness.

TT: Right.

TI: But then it's more difficult to be organized. Daylight if you jump, you're more visible, but it's easier for you to be more organized.

TT: Right.

TI: Okay. So when the war ended, what did you do next? What happened after the war was over?

TT: Well, what they did was you got out of the Airborne outfit together and the high point men, the ones that's been in there for a long time, they were going to be sent home to get discharged. And the next group was, send 'em through to the States, give 'em a short furlough, and send 'em to the Orient. And there was one group, small group, that was being sent directly to the Orient.

TI: So to fight against the Japanese, going to the Pacific to fight against the Japanese.

TT: Yeah. I volunteered to go with them, they said, "No." In fact, I went to see the regimental commander he says, well, there might be shooting, I'll be a target from both sides. [Laughs] So I got... what they did with me was they sent me to Frankfurt to join the 508. That was the honor guard for General Eisenhower's USAF headquarters. I joined Company B there. And that regiment was split in three groups, and one was to guard the office where the officers were. And the officers were living in -- they had confiscated the houses over in the town, 10, 15, 20 miles away called Bad Hamburg, that's a resort town. And they had, so what they did was put a barbed wire completely around that, where the houses were. And one group had to be guard for that. And the third group was in training, action training, because they didn't know if everything was gonna go right, or if they had any trouble, they were ready. They were combat ready.

TI: And so which of the groups were you in?

TT: Well, they rotated.

TI: I see, okay.

TT: So I was there with them 'til the time when I was ready to come home.

TI: Any stories from that activity, any memories that you want to share?

TT: No, not really.

TT: Okay.

TT: Because everything was more or less routine after that. Then when I got ready to come home after I got enough points... oh, just before that, they started a jump school there in Frankfurt. And they offered me a cadre job there. And they said, well, they'll give me a promotion, you know. I said, "No thanks, I'm going home." [Laughs] So I didn't take it and I went home.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: And so you come back to the United States, and what was that like? Where did you go?

TT: Well, the group I was with that was going home, we went up to Bremerhaven and caught the ship called the Rosen Victory. And we landed in New York, it took us ten days. In fact, that was the same ship on the next trip that went to Europe, picked up the 442, and they brought back the colors. And later on, it was renamed the U.S.S. Munemori.

TI: That's interesting.

TT: You know, the Congressional Medal of Honor...

TI: Yes, uh-huh. You know, I'm curious. When you were with the paratroopers, did you ever hear about the 442 and what they were doing and their activity?

TT: Well, I was corresponding with a few guys, so I knew where they were, more or less.

TI: But how about, like, through the Stars and Stripes or Yank or through word of mouth? Did you hear...

TT: No. In fact... no, not really. I didn't know much. In fact, I didn't even know where my brother was. Well, I found out afterwards, he told me when the war ended, he was sitting in Czechoslovakia. [Laughs]

TI: That's interesting. So you're back in the United States, and then what happens next?

TT: Oh, I'm on my way home. [Laughs]

TI: And where's home at this point?

TT: Huh?

TI: Where would home be? Because did your parents come back to Seattle?

TT: Yeah. I'll tell you, I got on a troop train, started across the country. 'Cause I was gonna get discharged at Fort Lewis. But then all the guys I was with, they were happy to be going home, this one guy says, oh, the family's having a party for him and stuff. In fact, there was one guy says he was from, I think it was Youngstown or somewhere in Ohio. His dad had a big auto agency, so he says, well, he's going to get a new car and going to work for Dad. So going home, the guy says, "Oh, aren't you happy to be going home?" I said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Hell, I didn't even know where I was going. Because last I heard from my parents was they were headed back to Seattle. So where they were staying, I didn't have any idea. What they said was maybe they'll stay a short while at the parsonage at JBC, Japanese Baptist Church, and go on, keep going. So when I got to Fort Lewis, "Now what?" I took a bus to Seattle, got off the bus, I said, "Well, where shall I go now?" [Laughs] So I thought, well, maybe I'll try the Baptist Church. So I got on a taxi and went up there, got out, went to the church, tried it, door was locked. Now what? So I thought, well, maybe I'll go next door and maybe they'll know where the minister or somebody is. I went knocking on the door and this Japanese lady come out. I told 'em who I was and that I was looking for my parents. And it happened that was Mrs. Homma. I don't know if you know her. She was the daughter of Reverend Homma -- I mean, Reverend Wada.

TI: Is that Mutsu Homma?

TT: Yeah, Mutsu Homma.

TI: Okay, yeah, I know Mutsu.

TT: [Laughs] So she told her dad who I was. Well, they knew my parents. So Reverend Wada took me to where my parents were staying. They were living in an apartment on East, Fourteenth and East Fir. That apartment building is gone now, but I carried a duffel bag and went down there. When I got there, my dad was out working, I guess, or someplace, but my mother was home.

TI: And what was the reaction of your parents when they saw you?

TT: [Laughs] Well, you know, Japanese, they're not that emotional. Not like the Niseis or Sanseis. I'm sure they were happy.

TI: How did you feel seeing them again?

TT: Huh?

TI: How about you? How did you feel seeing your parents?

TT: Oh, happy to be home, I guess.

TI: And at this point, was your brother, your brother was still in the, in Czechoslovakia?

TT: Yeah. So I wrote him to let him know where we were staying. Actually, from there, we moved to another place, so I let him know, so he had no problem.

TI: And so how had Seattle changed after these years? After you came back, did it seem different?

TT: The city itself hasn't changed. 'Cause, you know, during the war there was, no new buildings went up or anything.

TI: But how about the community? How had the community changed, the Japanese community?

TT: Well, I guess the first part, they were more concentrated in this area.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So let's just talk about your, kind of, your postwar, your life. So what did you do after returning to Seattle? What kind of work did you do?

TT: Well, I was doing nothing, laying around for a while. Then Bill Yorozu and Dick Yamasaki came over. I had worked (for) Bill before the war, so they wanted me to come and work for them, help. So I wasn't doing anything, so I decided, well, I might as well work. So I worked with them. I worked for over a year and I decided, well, heck, why am I just working for somebody? I said, I might as well work for myself. I went out, got an old pickup truck, and I put ads in the Times, P-I and local papers, all the different... then I started out. And, yeah, I was at it for fifty years. [Laughs]

TI: That's amazing, fifty years. And so... and during that time, how about family? Marriage, anything like that?

TT: Well, I was too dumb to go to school anyway. [Laughs] But the only schooling I got was I went to Broadway-Edison and took accounting. And UW had extension courses at night for landscape gardening and things, so I took that. That was the extent of my education. [Laughs]

TI: Okay. How about your social life, though, like in terms of marriage or family? What happened?

TT: Oh, well, I fooled around for a while. [Laughs] Then in 1955, I married Elaine Miyake, daughter of Yuki and Henry, you know them. And about a year later, she got stricken with a stroke and she was gone. I was only married for a year there. She was only twenty-three. Then about four or five years later, in fact, it's forty-nine years ago, I married Dolly, Dolly Hiroo. And we've been married since.

TI: And did you have any children?

TT: Yeah, we had three children. Linda is the oldest, she's forty-nine now. She graduated Western Washington University, and she's been working (for) the Corps of Engineers, and she's been there since. Number two, Wayne, couple years younger, he graduated University of Washington, he got a couple of degrees there, then he went down to California. And he was the manager of Silo Store, I think that went bankrupt, then he went to Best Buy. And he wasn't satisfied. He was making pretty good money, too, and so he went back to graduate school at University of Cal at Northridge and he got a couple of degrees. And now he's a career counselor at Cal State University at Long Beach. Those two are still single. [Laughs] I was hoping the oldest one would get married because she was going around with somebody, but it didn't happen. And the third one, Julia, she graduated University of Washington, she got a couple of degrees there, then she got a doctor's degree at Arizona State. She's in audiology.

TI: I'm sorry, what was that again?

TT: Huh?

TI: What was the, the PhD was in what area again?

TT: Audio...

TI: Audiology, okay.

TT: So she's taking care of my hearing. But then she said, "Dad, your hearing is too far gone." [Laughs] So she's married, only one married, she's been married about fifteen years or something to Dr. King, Thomas King.

TI: And any, did they have any children?

TT: They don't want any kids.

TI: Oh, so no grandchildren?

TT: No grandchildren. That's the saddest part of my life is no grandchildren.

TI: That's good. Okay, so I'm at the end of my questions. Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about? We're two hours into it, and this was...

TT: Is it up?

TI: Yeah. But we have more time if there's anything else you wanted to say. I always want to kind of leave it open at the end if there's anything that...

TT: Well, now, after I retired, we've been taking a lot of trips, cruises. Cruises and land tours, been all over the world. And oh, I go to my reunion, 507, different parts of the country. And this year, it's going to be at Fort Benning again, so I'll go back there.

TI: Oh, maybe they'll let you go off the 250 foot tower again. [Laughs]

TT: I was down there a few years ago, I was down there at Fort Benning again, you know. What we do is go to Fort Benning one year, then go to another city around the country. So the best part is that we get to watch a demonstration jump, and after graduation, we have the honors of pinning the wings onto the graduates.

TI: That's good. Well, Tosh, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I know you were a little reluctant initially to do this, but I'm so glad you agreed to be interviewed. This was really good. Thank you.

TT: My pleasure.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.